Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Real Job

Re: my last post…


Did you (like the rest of the world) read this compelling, tear-inducing article in the NY Times?


Sometimes, like everyone, I imagine, I need a giant smack on the head about priorities and overthinking and worrying and spirals of doom.  This was that smack.


My real job with these boys is love.  I guess everything else will work itself out.  No, I won’t stop obsessing, I’m sure, but maybe I’ll tone it back a bit and focus on the loving just a little bit more.


247Cook Pumpkin Patch

Friday, October 28, 2011


Charles was too scared to go into the dark garage this morning to get into the car.  He had a nightmare last night, the details of which are unclear, but must involve a monster of some sort.


“Remember when I saw a giant green monster upstairs and it was scary, mommy?”  (“Remember…” is how he starts every sentence these days.)




While Charles almost-three-year-old brain is busy grappling with what he saw in his dreams and the concepts of “imagination” and “not real” (just think about how tough that would be to understand if you just started dreaming for the first time), Tony and I have found ourselves in many, many, many conversations lately on subjects that are much scarier in reality.  I think that’s something that must happen to everyone as a parent, the gradual realization that as your children grow, so must your role as parent, and lo! there are many more things to worry about than just nutrition and playtime and sleep schedules and growth charts. 


I recently read this article on empathy and reading, turning my ambition to read novels with my kids (Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, etc) as they get older into a true goal.  Can’t you just see it?  The whole family snuggled on the couch or in bed, reading a chapter or two or three a night in some of the most fantastic books every written for children, talking about the feelings the main character has and the situations with which he is faced and how he deals with them?  Idyllic, certainly, but not unreasonable if you make it a priority to read with your kids throughout their kid years (it probably is unreasonable to expect this to go on in high school).


Then, there is the concept of mixed dominance and what it means and how to spot it and what to do about it.  This is something that was just brought to my attention that I’m glad I heard and investigated because awareness of it now, fixing it early if it manifests in Charles or Jamie could save us a lot of heartache down the road.


Do you eat dinner together?  We do, and I now know that it is something that we can never, ever give up, even when things get crazy busy.  After all, kids who eat dinner en famille are more secure and therefore perform better in school, are happier, and more successful, etc, etc, good things.


The schools in our area have stopped teaching cursive, and I understand their position.  In this age of technology, papers will be typed and submitted via email by the time a kid gets to middle school, so the resources to teach cursive writing are better spent elsewhere.  But what about the cognitive function that cursive supports?  I’ve also heard evidence that learning cursive can help with visual-cognitive development and stave off certain learning disabilities.  So, that settles it, I’m going to teach the boys cursive; it’s a huge undertaking, I’m well aware.


Then, there are the other monsters in our lives: the sex offenders, the drunk drivers, the gangs, the kids who “aren’t very nice,” as Charles puts it whenever someone pushes him on the playground or acts out violently (there are lots of kids like this – fortunately, Charles doesn’t act out in that way yet.  I worry that the example from other kids might rub off on him, however).


We have a lot to deal with as parents.  I have many goals for myself as a parent and many goals for my kids: to teach them well, to equip them for life, to make sure they have the best chance of success, to help them become independent and self-sufficient, to help them become good citizens of our world.  What this will mean for me and for Tony is being extremely involved in our children’s lives and arming ourselves with knowledge to fill in the gaps where the schools can’t go.  It means teaching cursive, and looking for mixed dominance, and reading together, and cooking together, and eating together, and playing together, and keeping the TV off, and essentially committing to home-school my kids in addition to their public school education. 



Charles cried when I dropped him off at preschool today.  He is still scared of the giant green monster, even though I told him that it was imaginary and that Buster would bark and protect us from monsters, and mommy and daddy are always available for hugs to vanquish monsters, too.  I can keep the TV off at home, but I can’t control what the other kids say to him, and I think some of them are either better equipped to talk about scary things or they’re desensitized.  Either way, I think we’ve entered into a new season of understanding for Charles and we’ll have lots more talks about imagination and real vs. not real in the immediate future.


Boy, I wish there was a handbook for this parenting thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


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I’m sensing a recurring theme: Jamie tolerates Charles.  Oh, he bestows many of his smiles on his gregarious older brother who tries to involve him in everything, but he is wary (and with good reason – Charles wouldn’t deliberately hurt him, but he doesn’t know his own strength and frequently tries to pick up Jamie).  Every night, every single night, Charles asks for Jamie to sleep with him.  We agree to let Jamie lie in bed with Charles until story time is over, at which point, Charles says “leave, Mommy, let Jamie stay with me.  Go downstairs.”


I am thankful for Charles’ doting on Jamie.  But I am also watchful.



Who can help me?  I’ve been doing Baby Boot Camp for several weeks now, and it is a HARD workout.  Not such that it hurts at the time, and the exercises are gentle so as not to harm my postpartum body, but I am frequently sore the next day and I definitely sweat during the hour-long class.


Here’s the problem: although I drink what seem to be gallons of water before, during, and after the class, I almost always get a killer headache the next day.  Last Wednesday (class is on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings), I ended up in bed with a migraine most of the day.  Luckily, Jamie is going through a bit of a growth spurt (his cheeks have become so chubby in the past few days!) and he wanted to sleep most of the afternoon with me.  Today is Sunday, and I fought off a headache this morning.


So what’s going on?  I’d really rather not be trapped into a cycle of work out – get headache the next day – take drugs in increasing quantities until they work or I fall asleep – workout again.  Do any of you moms workout and nurse and if so, how are you eating to keep up your strength?  Do I need more carbs in my protein-and-veggie heavy diet?  More beer?  More chocolate?  Do you think the headache is something other than diet-related?  Perhaps I need more massages… yeah, that’s probably it.  Someone tell my husband!




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This is what he does all day lately.  Sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep.  If I sleep with him, he won’t even wake up when his diaper is soaked and leaking through.  Sometimes, as long as I keep hold of him while I’m doing it, he won’t even wake up when I change him and bring him back to the couch or chair with me.  I’ve had a lot of naps and read a lot of books lately.




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Charles took this photo.


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But I took this one.




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And this guy rolled over from this position the other day!  Happy milestone!

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Still Haven’t Got the Hang of It.

Having already experienced years one through three with a boy child, I thought I might be better prepared for this second baby.  But oh, rookie mistakes abound.


For instance, we have tried to have the babysitter give Jamie a bottle exactly twice, which is exactly the number of times we have left the house without him for a “date” (quotes because the “dates” were fundraising events for local good causes, and we didn’t exactly have QT together).  Both of these “dates” were past the three month mark and were made possible by the best babysitter ever, no I don’t want to share, don’t ask me for her number.


Perhaps predictably, Jamie refused the bottle both times.  I say “predictably,” but what I mean is, “I had no f***ing clue this would happen, Charles always ate no matter the delivery method.”  But other people predicted it for me.  “You mean you have never given your son a bottle?  I bet he won’t take it from the babysitter.”


In a DUH moment, I realized that his summary rejection of all things pacifier probably translates perfectly to his rejection of the bottle.  After all, they are pretty much the same thing, only one dispenses milk, while the other frustrates the hell out of hungry babies (what?  Does your baby use a pacifier for soothing?  I don’t want to hear about it).  So, I had myself a good cry after Jamie drained me when I got home last night, thinking that he might never let us have a night out alone because he can’t drink from a bottle.  And by “never” I mean “until he eats solid food, which I realize isn’t that far away but still seems like a really long time.”


What I should have done was give him one bottle a week from the very beginning just to get him used to it.  Instead, tonight we are taking Jamie with us out to dinner while Charles stays home with the babysitter.  Let this be a warning to any new moms: start a bottle early lest you be permanently attached to your infant.  Unless, of course, you have better, more considerate children than I do who easily switch from breast to bottle at any point in their development.


Another rookie mistake: not recognizing the signs of teething.  Increased drooling and slobbering?  Check.  Change in poopy diapers?  Check.  Gnawing on everything, from shoulders to fingers (his and others’) to toys?  Check.  Fussiness complete with shrieking that redefines the word “shrill?”  Check.  Little tooth nubbins?  I didn’t notice those until the fourth or fifth day of all the other symptoms.  Mom of the Year.  My poor kid could have been spared the pain of teething with liberal doses of infant Tylenol, but no.


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Get it together, mom.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This Guy

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… has gained 7 pounds since birth.  He now weighs 15 lbs, 3 oz. 


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He’s got a ways to go before he catches up with this guy, however:


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Thursday, October 6, 2011


After nearly three years, I thought I had my kid figured out.  But then, that’s what they do, they keep changing, evolving, growing up.  Their personalities change, if not their temperaments. 


Now, I have known, ever since I was hit with a little perspective during Charles, ahem, trying infant months, that he is a sensitive guy.  He wants people to be happy.  He genuinely cares about others.  He’ll likely grow up to be very thoughtful and empathic, much like his uncle.


But the care he has for Jamie?  I was, and still am, blindsided by it. 


You see, friends of mine have kids who hit and kick their younger siblings, who saw them as rivals from day one.  Not Charles.  No, he seems to understand that Jamie is, as much as anyone will ever be, his companion for life.  You’ll never know anyone as long, or share as much history with anyone, as you will your sibling(s).  And as Jamie grows and is more obviously a little boy every day, Charles has taken on an almost caregiver role with him. 


I left Jamie on the floor and Charles playing with toys the other day to troop downstairs with some laundry.  When I came back five minutes later, this is what I saw.  I don’t expect anyone but grandparents to watch a full minute and a half of Charles reading to his brother, but the whole video is adorable.



P.S. Charles dresses himself.