Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Official Soccer Mom

Today marks my entry into the official world of Soccer-Mom-dom.  I am a real Soccer Mom.  I have to bring snack and everything.  Behold:

That's Jack hiding under there.  I was trying to keep him warm.  I probably roasted his little butt.

Here's Mary Grace, in between the times she yelled, "Look Mommy!  I'm playing soccer!!" while completely not watching the ball:

(Crappy pictures courtesy of Daddy's iPhone, via Facebook, because I'm too lazy to go out to the car to get the camera.  Also I've had some wine.  She's the one in the black pants with the ponytail - the only girl on her team tonight, but one more should be coming to the next practice).

It has become clear that she gets her athletic ability from me.  Poor kid.  Also, giving her the name of "Grace" was probably unkind.  Perhaps it's not too late to change it to "Mary Alice."  Her homework bin at school says that, anyway, so we wouldn't have to change everything.

The highlight of the practice was when the kid named Diego got the ball and Mary Grace yelled, "Go Diego, go!"  Probably the first of many times he'll hear that.

Claire is very jealous and doesn't understand why she has to wait until she's 5 to play soccer.  I told her that it's because most 4 year olds aren't as good at following directions as she is, and then I told her to unload the dishwasher.  She's like Cinderella.

Someone needs to tell Indiana that it's in Indiana, and they need to move soccer season back a month. Seriously. No one should be forced to sit outside and watch kids kick a ball for an hour when it's 40 degrees outside.

Also, Jack has been completely fussy and a crappy sleeper yesterday and today, and I am most tired of it.  I finally get him to sleep, put him down, and he wakes up again and is awake for hours.  Maybe the wine will help.  Or rum.

Also, when I've had wine I write like Junie B. Jones.

Sometimes I can't even remember who I was before I had kids.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Aw, shucks

Someone wrote today and told me that she'd been struggling with the same issues I've been battling, and that reading this blog has helped her.

That's why I write.  The worst part of it all was when I was a new mom, and I didn't know anyone who had gone through PPD, and I felt so alone and so crazy.  It was terrifying.  I didn't see how I could ever find my way out of the dark.  Of course, now I know that it's common and treatable and survivable, but I sure didn't know then.

You're not alone.  I'm here if you need to talk to someone who understands.  And there are so many wonderful resources on the web.  We're so lucky to live in this time, when we're all so connected to each other.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

World Gone Mad

I saw the midwife about my migraines a few weeks ago, and she recommended that I increase my Zoloft from 25 to 50 mg, because sometimes Zoloft can prevent migraines.  It didn't, but I have kept taking 50 mg because sometimes Zoloft takes a long time to work, and she didn't give me any time frame on when to expect things to get better.  She also didn't change my prescription, so when I tried to refill it last week (much earlier than the one-month-supply allowed by insurance should have run out) I got a voicemail from the pharmacy saying, "We're trying to contact your insurance company, your refill has been delayed, we'll call you when it's ready,").  Consequently, I didn't have my medicine from last Friday till Monday of this week.

Just long enough to screw me up.

It's not a good time, historically speaking, to be off my meds.  It feels like the world is on fire, and the crushing guilt of having brought three children into a world that is so profoundly screwed up is weighing on me.  I think it's worse now that I have a draftable child.  Jack was about 2 days old when I realized that he could grow up, go to war, and get killed.  I was alone in the hospital at the time, and it hit me like a Mack truck. My head is a horrible place to have to live sometimes.  (Yay, Zoloft.)

I think to myself, "What are the odds that I can keep three kids healthy and safe until they're grown?  Statistically it's inevitable that one of them will get really sick, or really hurt, or worse, before I die.  How will I cope with that?"  The only thing keeping me sane is that my brother, sister, and I have managed so far without serious illness or injury.  If my parents did it, maybe we can too,

I think to myself, "How on earth are they ever going to have a good life, with the national debt, the world running out of oil and clean water, corrupt and stupid politicians running everything, the recession, jobs going (gone) overseas, the environment, global warming..."  I can go down that rabbit hole for hours, mentally listing everything that's wrong with the world.  The only thing that keeps me sane is thinking that the world was pretty screwed up in the 1970s, too.  My parents despaired over the world they'd brought us into (I know, I've asked) with Vietnam and the energy crisis and everything that happened in that decade, and we're ok.  And my grandparents, coming out of World War II, (or BJ's coming out of the Great Depression) probably worried about the world they'd brought their kids into, too, and they're ok.  So maybe my kids will be ok, too.

And then there are more local concerns...  My job.  Oy.  Don't even get me started.  And how long do I really think I can keep this up, with the three small kids and the working and the trying to keep the house from looking like a bomb went off?  How long can I sustain this level of activity before I crash, before I just pull the covers over my head and refuse to get out of bed for a week?  But I can't - I don't have that choice - I have to keep going for them.  For BJ.  There are too many people counting on me to be sane and functioning and somewhat cheerful, now.  I don't have the luxury of being able to check out anymore.  I feel like a hamster on a wheel, sometimes.  I run all day, yet I'm standing still.  The black cloud that follows me is that I'm letting all of them down - BJ, the kids, my family of origin, my friends, you readers.  The evil voice in the back of my mind constantly chants, "You're ruining everything.  You've let them down.  You're not good enough.  You never deserved any of this, and now you've ruined it, just like everyone knew you would, just like you knew you would.  You're a failure at this, at everything."

But then the rational part of me takes over, and says, "Everyone's fine.  You're fine.  The house isn't that bad.  The job stuff will work out.  You can't do anything about the national debt or the environment, so you might as well not worry about it until it's time to vote.  Just keep swimming, it'll be ok.  You'll feel better in a few days."  And so I put my head down, and I keep swimming, because I don't have any other choice.  I hold my kids, and I hope that they'll have a part in fixing all the things I worry about, somehow.  And when they're asleep, I whisper, "I'm sorry, for everything."

Monday, March 21, 2011

Chapter Books!!!

The age I've been waiting for since I got pregnant in 2004 has finally arrived.  Mary Grace is old enough for Chapter Books!

Up until recently, she hasn't had the attention span to read books without pictures, where the story spanned several days of reading a chapter or two at bedtime, but her cousins gave her a stack of their old Junie B. Jones books, and she is hooked.  Claire is a little less into them, but she'll get there.

Actually, we sort of screwed up with Claire and reading - we have always read at Mary Grace's level, which meant that the books were above Claire's head and she was completely uninterested.  We didn't figure it out until she was about 2-1/2.  As soon as we got out Mary Grace's old books and started reading at Claire's level, she got interested.  It's really important, with multiple kids, to make sure you're reading to each child at their own level (or just a smidge above their level).  Claire still loves books that teach the ABCs, with big pictures, and shorter books with lots of rhyming and meter, and that's fine.  There's no better way to ruin a kid's love of reading than to push them too far too fast, IMHO.  There's plenty of time for War and Peace later.  (She'll listen to the chapter books, but she gets bored quickly and wanders away.  I think she listens as long as she does because she wants to be like her big sister.  If she were an only child, she wouldn't sit still as long as she does for them).

Anyway, back to chapter books...  the first thing I did was order the Little House books (see convenient picture ad, above).  These were my favorites when I was a kid.  I must have read them a hundred times, and I was Laura for Halloween more than once.  They shipped today, and I can't wait to start them.  (Plus, Laura is a better role model than Junie B.  Let's face it, that Junie B. is a brat.  We've already had lots of discussions about how Junie B. is NOT someone we want to emulate.)  I also want to read the Madeline L'Engle books to her.  I remember that I loved A Wrinkle in Time even though I have no idea, now, what it was about.

I know a bunch of you are teachers, and a bunch of you are book lovers.  Some of you are both!  Help me build a good list.  What are your favorite books for little girls just starting chapter books?

(The links above are Amazon Associates links, which means that if you click them and buy stuff I get a penny or two added to my own book fund, so thanks!)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Craft Fail

It was all my fault, really.

It started last night.  A good friend is leaving the university to move to Seattle, and we went to his going away party.  We stayed too late, and the kids didn't get to bed until after 10 pm.

Then I made plans with Karen and her kids to go do a craft at a store in town that sells teacher stuff.  It was free, which is exactly the right price.  After the craft, we were going to go to the bookstore to do some other free thing with musical instruments - I don't even remember what it was now, but it doesn't matter.  We didn't make it.  You see, when I was making all these plans I didn't account for the fact that the kids didn't get enough sleep.

First we went out for lunch, and the kids did fine, but the stimulating environment of the teacher supply store, plus the noise of the 18 other people (mostly kids) in the tiny room, plus the teacher giving instructions (for 5 different projects in an hour) and sales pitches for various products (I understand, that's how they justify the "free" crafts - it's an advertisement), plus the music playing (too loudly), plus the fact that Claire wanted to eat the cereal for the "bird feeder" thing (and I had told her no eleventy thousand times), plus the fact that Jack is teething (it must be teeth, because he was inconsolable until about 15 minutes after I gave him the Tylenol once we got home)...  Well, let's just say that we had a level 5 meltdown all over that store.

I decided to bolt, and offered to take Karen's middle son with me, but she kept him and offered to bring MG home when it was over.  I ran out to get MG's booster, and when I came back the teacher just had to give me the take home craft (a seed in a ziplock bag with a paper towel that you moisten and hang in a window to watch it grow - which is probably really cool, but not when you've got two kids who are losing all their tiny marbles) and tell me all about how her three kids were close in age and the youngest had colic and special needs and was on oxygen and I was like, "Seriously, we're having this conversation now?  Can't you see that I'm trying to beat a hasty retreat, here?"  But I stood there and waited for her to put the seed thing together, and then bravely ran away with my two screaming kids.  In hindsight, I'm sure she was trying to reassure me that we've all been there, but I just didn't want to hear it at that moment.

The drive home took days.

Like I said, I gave Jack some Tylenol, and in 15 minutes he was asleep.  Poor little muffin.  Claire refused to take a nap, but right now she's driving Mary Grace nuts instead of me, so I'm just going to sit here and pretend I'm on a beach in the Caribbean, and pray to God that BJ gets home before they have to put me in a straight jacket and take me to the Ha Ha Hotel.

The irony is that this morning I thought I had it all together.  I got up, made pancakes, showered, got everyone dressed...  I let BJ sleep in because I'm an awesome wife.  Everything was going perfectly until about 1 pm.  And then, like an episode of VH1 Behind the Music, it all went horribly wrong.

I want a do-over. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the news

Listening to the news on NPR this morning on the way to work, this kept running through my head.  (Embedding disabled, so you're going to have to click through to see what I'm talking about).

This is definitive proof that in spite of the husband, three kids, business, mortgage, two cars, picket fence, dog, retirement fund, will, etc. and being 35 years old, I am not yet a grown up.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Follow Up on Dogs Not Being Kids

Well, I'm sure glad I didn't raise a stink!  I was back at the doctor for Claire's four year check up today (it's official, she is four, and checks out just fine) and I mentioned to the woman at the front desk that I was surprised by the dog, and she confirmed that he was a therapy dog.  I said something about how I had recently learned that small dogs can sometimes alert people when they're about to have a seizure, and isn't that interesting, and she gave an almost imperceptible little eye roll as she said, "Yeah, and sometimes they're just for anxiety."

"I would think that a woobie would be more hygienic and easier to take out in public!" I said, and the women behind the desk laughed.

So it was probably a Woobie Dog.  And I would have felt terrible if I had said anything and embarrassed the poor guy, so PHEW!

In other medical news, Jack weighs 13 pounds, 3 ounces and he'll be 3 months old in 2 days.  That seems huge to me, but it's only the 30th percentile.  It's astonishing that they can gain almost 6 pounds in 3 months - he's almost doubled his birth weight (what was it, 7 pounds 9 ounces?  The girls were both 7 pounds 3 ounces...  Ummm...  No, he was 7 pounds 7 ounces, and that is why I blog - so I can google that kind of thing when it comes up!).  I'll bet by his 4 month check up he will have doubled.  Crazy. 

In other dog news, Max slept in this morning until 8:15.  I went in and woke her up because I was worried about her (she's 11, after all), and was relieved when she was just fine.  Then she sort of fell (like Bambi in the scene on the frozen pond) on the kitchen floor and I thought she was having a seizure, but she's just clumsy on slick floors, I guess, because once she got on her feet she was fine.  Dumb dog, giving me two heart attacks in 30 minutes.

Hey, HEY.  I've been treated for anxiety.  How do I sign Max up to be my Woobie dog?  Maybe I can get her one of those doggie backpacks
Got wipes?

and then I wouldn't have to carry a diaper bag!!  Awesome!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Claire!

Dear Claire,

Tonight at 11:09 pm you will turn four.  That seemed a little late for a birthday party, especially on a Sunday night, so we opted to have your birthday party a bit early.  We're going to take a couple of your friends to the movie theater to see Gnomeo and Juliet, then we'll have cupcakes and ice cream in the party room.  You are SO excited.  You and Mary Grace like to plan your birthdays all year long, so it's a bit like Christmas morning.  There's a pile of presents on the table just waiting for you to get up.  I'm sorry that Daylight Saving Time fell on your birthday and you only get 23 hours instead of 24.

You've grown so much in the last year!  You started the 2 day preschool program, rather than just going to the "drop off" program when Mary Grace is in school, and you absolutely love it.  I think you'd go to school twice a day if you had your way.  You tend to hang out with the boys more than the girls (at least, I hear about the boys more).  The other day, your classmate Josh's nanny told me that they'd been talking and he said, "You know what?  Claire is so smart."  It's true - you're a very smart girl.

You love music and you love singing.  We made up a little song for you to learn to spell your name.  "C-L-A, I-R-E, that spells me, I am Claire."  I think you'll be an auditory learner like I am.  You love Ben Folds and the music from Glee.  We went to a party last summer and the big kids were playing Rock Band.  You got a hold of the microphone and did a rousing rendition of "Mr. Crowley" by Ozzy Osbourne.  It was hilarious.  You're quite a little ham.

You just woke up, so it's time to get this party on the road!  You and Daddy are going out for breakfast, and he's going to let you get pie even though it's before lunch, because birthdays are for breaking the rules.

Your favorite toy for playing is: Polly Pockets

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: "Ninja Baby"

Your favorite food is: brownies

Your favorite book is: Do You Do A Didgeriedoo and the ABC Leapfrog book

Your favorite activity is: Wrestle Night (which is always said with lots of exclamation points)

Your favorite place to go is: Chuck E. Cheese

Your best friend is: Mary Grace (close second, Shayne)

Something new that you're doing:  Beginning to read letters and learn their sounds

Something you've mastered:  riding your bike with training wheels

Something people say about you:  "I love her hair cut!"

Something that you're saying is:  "I'm still your baby, too, right Mommy?"  When you and Mary Grace are playing, and you need to do something else for a minute, you say, "Pause the game!" even if you're just playing with toys and not a video game.

Something Dad and I are proud of you for:  you are so sweet with your baby brother

Something surprising about you:  you love to wear dresses and "soft pants," and you hate to wear jeans


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chai Creamer

I was surfing around this morning and came across this recipe for instant chai tea powder at Butter and Oven Mitts.  I knew it was something I had to try, ASAP.  I got into my cupboards to see what I needed to have BJ pick up at the store, and I found that I had every ingredient except the instant tea.


So I went ahead and mixed it up, and added it to a cup of hot (decaf) tea.  It's AWESOME! 

Here's the recipe I used:

1 cup non-fat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered Coffee Mate (French vanilla flavor - I didn't have plain on hand)
1-1/2 cups white sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp white pepper

In a large bowl, mix all of the above together.  In a food processor (or a Magic Bullet, if you're me) blend ingredients one cup at a time until it is a fine powder (this step evenly distributes the milk and sugar, and eliminates pesky chunks of Coffee Mate).  Store in an air-tight container.

To make chai, add two teaspoons (or a big ol' tablespoon full if you're crazy like me) to a cup of hot tea.

This recipe is going to save me about a zillion dollars at Fourbucks Starbucks.  Love it!  Thanks Cassandra!!


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I wish I'd said it this way!

From one of my favorite blogs, PhD in Parenting, comes this awesome video that says what I've been trying to say for a very long time, and it says it so eloquently...  You have to watch for yourself.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.  I absolutely love this.  "Appropriateness should be decided by the woman.  Who decides?  The mother does."  Right ON!  Preach it, sister!

For the last time, dogs aren't kids

Ok, freaking seriously, people, I am not making any of this up.

I went to the doctor today (to sort out what drugs I'm taking to prevent and treat the migraine I've had for, like, ever) and when Jack and I came out of the exam area into the waiting area, there was an old guy sitting in the chairs with a little dog.  I think it was one of those Bichon Friseses. 

If you pronounce it correctly, does it rhyme with "diseases"?
It looked exactly like this picture that I just lifted off of some dog website.

Now, I am a dog person.  I love my dog.  If I could type that with a pink puffy glitter heart around it, I would. 

Close enough.  Microsoft Paint doesn't do glitter.

Anyway, I love my dog at home.  Maybe it's because she's huge (80 pounds) and tall (like a deer), but it's nothing but a distraction to have her leaping around like a gazelle in the back of the car, so I leave her at home 99.9% of the time. 

I understand that tiny dogs have tiny bladders, and unless you want to plan to go home every 20 minutes to let them out or you really don't care about your carpet, you've got to make accommodations, but it was 45 degrees today.  Leave the Bichon Frise in the car.

Also, I love my dog.  I don't love your dog.  I don't trust your dog.  You love your dog, and that's fine, but don't subject me to it in the doctor's office (or at the grocery store, or the pharmacy, or anywhere else).  Dogs belong at the park, on sidewalks, in their own backyards, in cars if you can stand it (and God, please, not in your lap while you're in control of the vehicle!), and at home.  I blame Petsmart for this.  You give people an inch and let them take their dogs shopping for Puppy Chow, and suddenly it makes perfect sense to take them a mile to the Dariy Queen, too.  After all, what is ice cream but human chow?

Seriously, a doctor's office!  There are kids there!  And people with allergies.  And I really don't need to be menaced by some yappy little dog (this particular dog was quiet and non-menacing, but I don't trust small dogs any farther than I can drop kick them) when I'm at the doctor's office with my children.  Thankfully the kids who would have gone all, "OMG PUPPIEZZZ!!!" were at school at the time.  At least if the dog bites someone, everyone's already at the doctor.

I was honestly more startled and irritated than I was the time that I took Claire for a well-child visit and there was a prisoner in shackles with two armed guards in the waiting room.  ("Seriously?" I said to the front desk clerk, "I think for this we ought to bring back house calls.")

I apologize in advance to anyone who has a delightful small dog who accompanies them everywhere (hi Mom!).  I know this is going to annoy the kibble out of you.  But seriously, even you would agree that taking Poopsie the puppsie to your doctor's appointment is a wee bit over the top, right?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Trust, but verify

Jeez, a week since I posted.  Where does the time go?  This past week has evaporated.  It's hard to know where to start.

I've had a migraine off and on for the better part of two weeks, and none of my usual treatments are working.  I've been to the midwives at the OB office for medication, and now we've gotten to the point where there are so many different pills (compazine, hydrocodone, imitrex).  I'm not clear on what can be taken safely with what, what to try first, how long to wait, what's safe for breastfeeding (the new midwife said compazine was safe, but the packaging said "DO NOT" in large letters), and what's safe for co-sleeping.  I have an appointment with my family doctor tomorrow to sort it all out and talk about a preventative (betablockers) which should also help with my blood pressure.  I trust the midwife I saw (not the one who delivered Jack - the new one) but I need to verify that everything is safe.  I'm sort of overwhelmed with it all, and I hate Hate HATE taking medication of any kind - much less strong stuff that I've never taken before - when I'm nursing, but what choice do I have?  I can't have migraines so bad that they make me vomit and effectively take care of my kids at the same time (especially the baby, listening to him cry on my shoulder while I was at the worst of the migraine was pure torture). 

The night I got sick (Thursday, I think) I called the on-call OB, and he told me to come to the ER and get a shot.  It's $200 just to walk in the ER, though, and I figured it was cheaper to just go to bed. 

The migraine thing has made it hard to work out, so I've done poorly with the Biggest Loser contest this week.  I'll be happy if I break even tomorrow when I weigh myself.  It's a delicate balance, trying to lose just one pound a week, but making sure that I eat enough to keep up my milk supply for Jack.  I think I might take the next few months off, and wait until he's eating solid food before I worry about my weight (contest, schmontest).  It's just injecting a lot of unnecessary worry into my day, to try to lose but not too much.

I had a horrible dream last night.  We have a friend who is getting married in October in Florida.  I dreamed that we were at his wedding, but I'd left Jack home.  I needed to nurse him, and I could hear him crying for me in my head, but he was hours and hours away.  So I found another mom with a bottlefed baby, and I begged them to let me feed her to relieve the pressure.  The parents finally agreed, but the baby didn't know how to breastfeed, and I was frustrated and sobbing, missing my baby and hurting and feeling so guilty, worrying that he wasn't eating at home with whoever was watching him...  Ugh!  I can't even describe how relieved I was when I woke up and he was right there with me. 

I know exactly where this dream came from.  We drove to a party about an hour away last night, and Jack was crying in the car, and I thought, "How on earth are we ever going to get to Florida if we can't drive an hour without stopping?"  Also, Jack slept for four hours (hooray!) last night, so I was really ready to feed him when he finally woke up.

Speaking of Florida, my grandmother is really sick, so my dad went to Florida to help take care of her.  It's handy to have a nurse in the family.  Mary Grace made her a get well card with pandas (MG's favorite animal) and sent it with Dad.

Claire's fourth birthday is less than a week away.  Time really does fly.  We're having her party at the movie theater, the kids are going to see Gnomeo and Juliet.  I need to get the cake ordered.  I found her a dress-up dress from Tangled on Etsy that she's going to LOVE.  We'll see if I ever get her out of it.  I also found her a purple flowered dress, and a spring dress (with a matching one for MG) for school.  I made her a photo book on Shutterfly called "What Claire Likes" with pictures from her whole life - so for example, Claire likes the Children's Museum, and on that page there are pictures of her from when she was one, two, and three.  Strollers, playing inside things, grandparents, outings, etc.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, and I think it'll make her feel special to have a book that's all about her.  I made one for Mary Grace a couple years ago.  I just hope Claire's book gets here in time!

I'm kind of steering away from toys this year.  She can have more toys when she learns how to clean up! 

So that's the update from somewhere in Indiana.  What's new with you?