Tuesday, May 31, 2011

She's giving out her phone number.

My sweet, beautiful, almost-3-year-old daughter is already giving out her phone number. And, to older men.

True, it's not a real phone. And true, it's not a real number, but still.

She and Luke went to the vet's office this morning because Lucy, the Golden Retriever, won't quit scratching her hair all over the house. While they were there, EGR told Dr. Parker all about her "new" cell phone that she got for Christmas. (Short aside: The fact that she even talks to a man, whom she sees only every few months, is enough to make me raise my eyebrows. But, Dr. Parker is a cutie, and he's very good with the kiddos.) She put her phone away in Grandmother's purse, and then Dr. Parker asked her if he could have her number. She went digging in Grandmother's purse, saying she had to find her number. Later, as they were leaving, Dr. Parker told Grandmother to give him a call in reference to something with Lucy, and Ella responded with, "Okay, I will."

Fast forward a few hours to my midday chat with Ella over the phone. She was asking me the normal barrage of questions, and in a brief pause I said, "I heard you gave Dr. Parker your cell phone number." Silence. She never said another word to me. Grandmother said she hid her face. I think she might have a crush on the good doctor. (So do I, but don't tell my husband.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

A New Stack of Books

The Amazon Fairy (deliverer of Amazon.com orders, not an oversized fairy) left a new stack of books on my front porch this week, and I’m itchin’ to tear into them. BUT, I’m already in the middle of two books so I really need to finish one of them first.

I’m nearing the end of Playful Parenting, by Lawrence J. Cohen, which discusses how children learn and process their world through play. After watching Ella, and now Luke, play through their worlds since birth, this isn’t news to me, but it is very insightful and it offers a lot of good ideas for using play to connect with children and overcome troubling behaviors, power struggles, etc. It also explains a lot of psychology behind how children think and why they behave in certain ways. I read one of the most enlightening passages just this morning. It made me say, “Yes! This!” (And, then I marked it in pen with an exclamation point and folded the page a la 12th grade English class.)

“Oddly, even though children demand so much attention from us, they often tune us out when we finally put everything else aside and get on the floor to play with them. This can be confusing and even annoying, but it actually makes perfect sense. They are feeling locked away in the tower of isolation. And they are a bit mad at us for that. When we give them our full attention, they show us what’s going on in their hearts. They don’t say it in words, they say it in play, by pretending we don’t exist or don’t matter. When we were busy, they felt as if they didn’t matter to us. So don’t give up or walk away; be persistent. Our job is to take the initiative and push (gently) for a connection.”
This particular passage is in the context of taking the lead in play with children, and it was an epiphany for me because it’s one of the most frustrating things about my daughter during times when we are clashing – or disconnected, as the case may be. “Tower of isolation” is a term he uses throughout the book to describe the emotional place a child gets into when he is disconnected from parents/caregivers. It’s an easy read, and I’d like to finish it before I switch topics all together with my new stack. I also have one other parenting book that I haven’t started (Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves, by Naomi Aldort), but I’m putting it on hold for the present.

The new stack is the beginning of a library of resources that includes the following titles.

The Doula Book: How a Trained Labor Companion Can Help You Have A Shorter, Easier, And Healthier Birth, by Marshall H. Klaus, et al

The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers: The Most Comprehensive Problem-Solving Guide to Breastfeeding from the Foremost Expert in North America, by Jack Newman M.D. and Teresa Pitman

Gentle Birth Choices, by Barbara Harper and Suzanne Arms

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn (4th Edition): The Complete Guide, by Penny Simkin, et al

I’ll start with The Doula Book, reading with pen in hand, and decide where to go from there. My sister and brother-in-law, Nathan, are giving me the honor of attending the birth of my nephew as a support person, so I’m doing what I always do – reading everything I can get my hands on about the topic.

I didn’t hire a doula for either of my deliveries but as I read more about the role of a doula, I realize that I was surrounded with them. Both of my mothers and my sister were around me in the days and weeks following my children’s births, helping me and Dave with whatever things needed doing. Even my sister-in-law, Jessica, unexpectedly stepped into the role when she ended up alone with me in my hospital room the night Luke was born. And thank God for her, because I don’t know what I would have done if I’d been completely alone in the room, holding my baby skin-to-skin, unable to bend at the middle, when that first horrible wave of nausea hit me. Her presence alone helped me breathe through it so as not to vomit on my newborn or rip out my fresh stitching, but she was standing ready with a cold rag and a bowl for me to puke in – not blinking an eye. Bless her. I love that woman.

I’m so excited to step into the same role for my sister. In addition to plain old help with whatever needs doing, I want to be educated enough to help her and Nathan make decisions regarding their care during the birth and weeks following. I also want to be able to help her troubleshoot any issues that might come up in her nursing relationship with Jake because I know that is really important to her.

I am passionate about birth and breastfeeding, mothers and babies, and I’m so excited about the opportunity to put my passion and my knowledge to work.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Heartstopping Parenting

Thankfully, we didn't have to go to the ER, but there were a few very long minutes when I didn't know.

Luke, Master of the Universe, attempted to crawl down the stairs last night. It didn't go well. Dave had just brought him in from outside and left him standing at the front door, banging to get out. I was in the kitchen doing the usual bag packing, bottle making, supper, and general organization of just-home-from-work chaos. I had my eyes on Luke, standing at the door, trying to get out when Dave ran down the stairs to get something. Ella wanted to go with him, so he ran back up and opened the gate for her. Luke was still standing at the front door...until he wasn't.

I glanced down at whatever I was doing, and then I heard BUMP. BUMP. My brain caught up with the situation at hand just as he started crying. I was already running accross the room, saying "The gate! The gate! It's open!" Dave was running up the stairs as I was running down them, and we met on the landing where Luke was lying on his back, screaming. He scooped him up and handed him to me, and I ran back up the stairs to the couch. I tried to look for bumps or scrapes or broken limbs, but he was crying too hard, so I nursed him for a couple of minutes to help him calm down. When he popped off and sat up,  he was ready to go again, reaching for Dave to take him somewhere. There were no lumps or bumps or bruises. He did not even have a carpet burn.

He apparently watched Ella go down the stairs and decided to follow her. The gate was open because Dave always goes first in case Ella falls going down, so he didn't close it behind her. And, we just aren't in the habit of closing it every time we run up and down since Ella navigates them so proficiently now. On top of those things, Luke crawls faster than the speed of light, and he's very quiet when he's on a mission. We are chalking this up to a lesson learned. He's been to the chiropractor this morning to put him back to rights.

I think we need to baby proof to the point of tying the furniture to the walls. This is a whole new ballgame. The only things we did for Ella were cover the outlets, put latches on the medicine/chemical cabinets, and make sure all baby-windpipe-sized objects were out of her reach. She required very little babyproofing. She was content to sit in one spot and intensely study the things around her, then put them in her mouth. Luke's style is more drive-by, mouth it, bang it, move on to the next thing - in stealth mode.

We already know he can climb, and I've already caught him standing in Ella's rocking chair. He's started taking a couple of unassisted steps, and he's been practicing standing up without holding on to things. He's also taken to carrying his cup around with him, though he's not drinking milk from it all the time yet. I'll be so glad when I can get rid of the bottles!

He has a few words: Ella, Mama, Dada, all done, hey, bye. He signs "milk," and he understands the signs for "all done", "diaper change", "eat", "more", "cup", "please." He understands a lot of what we say to him, and between signs, words, and body language, he communicates very effectively for a 9 month old. Unlike Ella, he said "mama" before he said "dada." Dave has been prompting him to say Dada, but he's been resistant until this past week. The first time he said it, Dave wasn't in the room, so had the absolute joy of relating the story to him. Luke was crawling around the living room, and he made his way to the ottoman and stood up to play with the remote controls, like he always does. He found something new there - a can of Skoal. Immediately, he picked it up and waved it around in his little, baby fist and said, "Dada!" "Dada!"

UPDATED: At his 9-month check up, Luke measured 29 inches long and weighed 18 lbs and 1 ounce. That puts him in the 75-90% for height and the 10-25% for weight - long and lean!

The EGR Update
She's struggling right now with some yucky drainage and a cough, thanks to her weed/tree allergy. I'm being a bad mother and refusing to take her to the doctor for another round of antibiotics until it just becomes unavoidable because that just sets off a whole other cycle of illness to deal with . Thus, she woke up coughing, with snot in her throat this morning and she told me in her sweet voice, in between coughs, "I think I just choked on something." Poor kid. She's also been to the chiropractor this morning for some work on her sinuses.

Yesterday, she was having an imaginary phone conversation about a tree limb that fell and she kept using the word "stupid." I asked her if she knew what that meant. She said yes. I asked her to tell me, and she told me to say it. I said, "I know what it means, I want you to use your words to tell me what it means." She thought hard and said, "Mama, give me a favor and tell me what it means." (I frequently ask her to do me a favor.) I told her it meant that something wasn't smart and it's not a nice thing to say about someone or something.

She continues to amaze and confound me. She'll be three soon. Some days I wonder where the time has gone and others I feel like she's turning 13 instead of 3.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tornado Relief: "An Elephant Never Forgets"

Here it is: the post I’ve been stewing over since the day tornados wreaked unholy havoc on Central Alabama. Thankfully, our area was spared, but we spent several hours in our basement that night, and many, many hours in the following days, watching footage of the devastation.
The following morning, I learned that a pod of my extended family that lived in Pleasant Grove had not been heard from, so I spent several hours trying to track them down via their neighbors over The Mighty Facebook. We found the 80-something year old great-aunt, who finally made contact with her sister. She had managed to climb out of the wreckage of her house, and find out that her immediate family down the street was all alive, though some were hospitalized with injuries.

In the following days, Dave and I debated and debated over how we could best help the relief efforts, feeling that we should absolutely do something. Volunteering our time and bodies was not really an option with two young children, so we opted for making a donation. Knowing that one of my favorite places would be doing something disaster-relief related, we waited until we did our regular Saturday shopping to make a final decision of how/what to donate. While at the checkout counter at Publix, debit card in hand, the cashier asked if we’d like to make a donation to the Red Cross. We looked at each other, knowing the pre-determined amount we’d decided on, nodded, and told the cashier to ring it up. It showed up on the receipt as “Southern Storms.” It was that easy.

In the following weeks, I learned of a newborn baby (a cousin of my brother’s girlfriend’s sorority sister – did you follow that?) who was in need. The baby was two weeks old when the storm completely leveled the area where he lived and killed his mother. He is in the care of his grandmother, and he needs things. I happily loaded up a bag of newborn – 3 month sized clothes, an infant tub, baby soap, washcloths, and towels to send his way. I offered a portion of my ever-growing stash of frozen Mommy milk, but by that time he was already taking formula. He was a nursling for the first two weeks of his life (that made my heart hurt just a little bit more).

All of these were ways I felt like I could do something to help someone who’d lost everything.

This tragedy is a long way from over for these families, and there are still things you can do to help. I am once again appealing to your benevolent hearts to make a donation (as you feel led, of course) to help someone. This time there’s something (tangible) in it for you!

Once I returned to the office and life there got back to some sort of normal, one of my co-workers called me to her desk one morning to show me something. Never knowing how that scenario is going to go down, I was shocked and moved when she showed me this.
It’s a charcoal sketch (Much better in person, I’ve seen the original!) done by another of our co-workers, Holly. She’s an artist. A real one. I’m not sure why she works where I do. She says she just started sketching in the time following the tornado, and this is what came out of her. She decided she wanted to do something with it to raise money for tornado relief in Tuscaloosa. She considered donating it to the University to auction, but decided she could raise more money if she sold prints. I told her to let me know when she had all the details worked out because I know all kinds of Bama fans that will need one of these for their man caves, Alabama rooms, spouses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, etc. All proceeds from the sale of the prints will go to Hands on Birmingham, Disaster Relief of West Alabama, and T-Town Paws.

UPDATED: If you want a print of “An Elephant Never Forgets”, email Tornadoreliefinalabama@gmail.com.
11 x 14 print - $25

18 x 24 print - $50

T-shirts are also a possibility, but the details of that are still in the works. Prices include shipping.

If you Facebook, check out her page: Tornado Relief in Alabama.

UPDATED: Also, check out the website: An Elephant Never Forgets.
UPDATED AGAIN: To say that Holly's website now has a PayPal link so you can truly order online!

Monday, May 16, 2011

0 for 2 in the 'Protect the Children from Harm' Category

Within a matter of minutes yesterday, I managed to physically hurt both of my children while we played in the yard. I let the little one roll off of my lap and bang his head on a hard toy. His heart was broken. Luckily, his head was not.

Then I threw the ball for Georgia and hit Ella square in the forehead with it. I still cannot fathom how I misjudged the angle so badly. She didn't walk in front of it; I just have really bad aim. It hit her so hard, I was shocked that it didn't knock her down. Her neck snapped back, and of course there were instant tears, but she recovered fairly quickly since she had a legitimate reason to use the Frosty Bear. At bedtime last night, I apologized again for hitting her with it, and she said, "It's okay now, Mommy."

It ranked right up there with pinching her chunky, baby thighs in the carseat buckle, and it made me feel just like a horse's behind.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Lesson in Human Indecisiveness

The lesson? Humans are indecisive from birth.

The proof? A highly scientific, impromptu experiment conducted last night at bedtime.

Let me set the scene.

Ella and Luke were both very tired after bath. Generally, I nurse Luke and put him to bed before I settle into Ella's bed to read to her. Last night, she was ready for books as soon as she got her nightgown on, so I just brought Luke (and his pillow pet and The Magic Blanket) to her bed to nurse while I read. She was lying on her pillow with Panda and Court Dog and their assorted blankets tucked in beside her. I was sitting next to her with Luke lying on the pillow pet, wrapped in his blanket, nursing.

I opened the first book, which happened to be Llama Llama Red Pajama, and started to read. He popped off and looked at the pictures while I read. As I paused before turning the page, he latched back on. When I turned the page, he popped off again and looked/listened while I read. As I paused before turning the next page, he latched back on. He was doing it so consistently that I made Dave stay to watch a full cycle of latch on, turn page, pop off, read, latch on, turn page, pop off. We read the entire book that way. Thankfully, he was too tired to continue like that through the next two books because he was driving me nuts.

As I write this, I wonder, was he really indecisive? Perhaps he just decided to multi-task. One thing's for sure, he is a fan of Llama Llama.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Need to Write

So much has happened in the last week that I feel like I should write something really profound, but I can't find it in me. Yet, I'm still drawn here to write. About something. Anything. Because it's what I do.

Both kids are still sick - Luke with a persistent double ear infection (I feel I've walked this road before..) and Ella with a persistent UTI. Both are on their second rounds of antibiotics. Why do my kids need two round of antibiotics for everything? I also think Luke is cutting some new teeth. Between the drool and the exploding poop, he's creating as much laundry as the entire rest of the family combined.

As seen in my previous post, he can now climb stairs and he's officially crawling, the real way. He also learned to clap over the weekend, and he praises himself and everyone around him often and grandly with his clapping. It's also the thing that gives him away when he sneaks and eats something he's not supposed to have. (Ella always turned her back to us and kicked her feet with excitement.) The clapping is so stinking cute. He also officially says "Mama" now.

I went to a Mother's Day Tea at Ella's school today. She drew a picture of me and wrote some things about me. Some things I knew (my favorite ice cream is chocolate), but others surprised me (I'm 7 years old, my favorite color is pink, and I'm as pretty as her). The picture also looks like I have a cigarette hanging out of my mouth. As I've never smoked anything in my life, I can only assume it's her depiction of me with the oral syringe stuck between my teeth, which she sees all too often with all the medication I adminster to the two of them.

Ella has learned how to use fingernail clippers correctly. I learned this tidbit over the weekend when she was using them to cut my hair. And she really did cut a few chunks of hair before I realized she was using them correctly.

A recent quote that describes our life right now:
"How do you dress this child?" - The pediatrician, when trying to snap Luke's onesie. I sympathized with him because on more than one occasion I've found myself holding him up by the ankles, trying to wipe poop and diaper him. I've even had to call for back up.