Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cast of Characters

In the past 6 months or so we have had a revolving door of "guests" in our home - all are invisible, some are based on "real" people/things while others seem to be completely fabricated. Some of these friends seem to live here, some only come when Lily's not home, others come and go as they please and still others only come when summoned (yes it's as creepy as that sounds). Since I've failed to introduce our friends as we've gone along I'll give a summary of all of them. I'm sure I'll forget some, but these are the most memorable and the ones that visit most often.

The Bugs
The bugs were the first imaginary creatures that Lily ever mentioned to me. You can see right away that - like her mom - she tends to be quite literal in her imaginings. The bugs usually appeared in her room around nap or bedtime and made it difficult for her to get to sleep. When she was going through her "sleeping on the floor" kick she would complain to me that the bugs under her dresser were bothering her. She also told me that they were blue. One time I offered to talk to them for her and she looked at me very seriously and said "Mommy, the bugs don't have MOUTHS!" There was an implicit "dummy" at the end of the sentence.

The Painting Lady

On the third floor of our building there is a painting in the hallway. It looks like this:

Our neighbors upstairs (not the painting's owners) have a little girl who went to family day care with Lily and is a friend of hers. However, Lily doesn't like to go up there a whole lot - she's not a fan of this painting. Whenever we talk about going upstairs the "painting lady" comes up right away and she talks about how she's afraid of it, etc. I feel like we've been hearing about this painting from her as long as she could talk.

Shortly before Christmas I was playing with Lily in her playroom. She had hung a blue jingle bell on the porch door in there. We were making a puzzle and she suddenly stood up, walked over to the door and "rang" the jingle bell. Then she came back to the puzzle. I asked her why she had done that and she replied
"I was calling the Painting Lady. She's coming to help with the puzzle now"
OK! Um - CREEEEPY! She kept talking about how the Painting Lady would be here "any minute now". I kept expecting our front door to open and some freakish artistic rendition to come lumbering through it.

Since then we hear that the Painting Lady is around from time to time. Thankfully she hasn't done the scary "summon with jingle bell" routine too often. I've read too much Stephen King in my life. I wonder if I should contact him with my new book idea. Just yesterday Lily informed me that she was Batman and I was the Painting Lady and that she was shooing me away (or pushing or shooting? I couldn't quite understand - so I'm going with shooing).

Offen, Gendreau and Miss Gall
OK so we're not 100% sure on the names of these guys and they're not around too often. But one day she was all excited because her friends Offen and Gendreau were here. They live in her feet apparently - or her toes - I can't remember. Miss Gall showed up one day randomly as well. I thought she was saying "Miguel", but Gordon thought it was "Miss Gall" and then she latched on to his interpretation. Usually these guys hang out and play with her. Sometimes we hear about how they are home sick or need to go see a doctor. They don't usually cause too much trouble and aren't anywhere near as creepy as our friend, PL.

The Monsters are sort of the 3-year-old incarnation of The Bugs. They show up at bedtime now a lot and I often have to chase them away or give them a good talking to. It seems that they live in the forest. One night she asked me to rock her and sing her a lullaby because then the monsters would "go back to the forest". It was a really sweet excuse for me to hold her like I did when she was a baby. It's definitely a treat to feel like you're capable of something as awesome as banishing monsters with just the power of your (off-key) voice.

Sometimes she likes to invoke the creepy with The Monsters too. Gordon and I will be talking to each other and in an effort to refocus attention on her she'll suddenly burst out with "SHHHH!" and then in a low voice "Something's Coming.... it's a monster!" You have to witness it to fully appreciate how creepy she can be. If M. Night makes another movie I'm totally getting her in for an audition.

Getting back to the more literal characters... Lily is a big Maisy fan. She's always liked the Maisy books at the library and I've heard that she is particularly into them at school. I guess Maisy is generally a big hit in her classroom. So now Maisy shows up at home a lot. Well actually Lily becomes Maisy - usually when she's in trouble for something, A typical conversation might go like this:

Me: Lily! Did you just knock Quinn over?
Lily: I'm Maisy! I'm Maisy!

That Maisy is kind of a trouble-maker. Sometimes we need to send her home. You never really know when she's going to show up and it can be annoying. Because sometimes - I just really want to talk to Lily! Lately Maisy's been full of stories about her friends Charlie and Talulah as well. One of them is usually varying degrees of sick at any given time. It's unclear if the sick fascination is a result of the "Maisy goes to the hospital" book that they have at school or her way of processing all those hospital visits to see Papa.

Mr. Fox and Family
One night Gordon was putting Lily to bed and he tried playing shadow puppets with her (I'm sure I'm going to get this wrong since I wasn't there - so G feel free to correct). He made his hand in the shape of a fox (actually he made the universal symbol for anubis, but I won't split hairs). Instead of checking out the shadow his hand made, Lily got excited by his actual hand. She named it "Mr. Fox". And apparently she was SUPER nice to Mr. Fox - like way nicer than she ever is to Gordon (or me). Mr. Fox got a ton of please and thank yous, he got hugs, he got apologies when she accidentally crushed his ears, and on and on. Soon she was asking every night if "Mr. Fox" would visit.

Over the next few weeks "Mrs. Fox" appeared on the scene (yeah, I couldn't resist - she was just so damn NICE to this fox fellow - I had to get in on the action). Then one day Lily surprised us with an introduction to "Baby Fox" - he lives on her hand. Baby Fox now visits us a lot. He gives kisses to Mr. and Mrs. Fox and just generally keeps Lily company. Sometimes she gets both hands going and "Brother Fox" comes over as well.

Last week Lily's pre-school class took a field trip to a local cafe as part of their "restaurant module". The next day the teachers sent us some pics from the outing and this one was in the bunch:

Apparently Baby Fox has been going to school too. I found out today that she had all the kids making baby foxes that day.

I'm cool with Baby Fox and friends - as long as he doesn't start yelling "Redrum! Redrum!" anytime soon.

The Royal Court
Man whoever runs Disney's marketing department is good - damn good. Lily hasn't had a ton of Disney exposure, but for Halloween a few people gave out these little card games. She got a couple of sets of "Old Maid" games in which all the cards are Disney Princesses and the Old Maid is Ursula (Little Mermaid). Combine those cards with a few nights spent in her cousin Valora's room and she has decided to rename our entire family:
Lily aka "Cinderella Cindy Baby"
Gordon aka Daddy aka "Jasmine"
Becky aka Mommy aka "Ariel"
and, my favorite
Quinn aka "Ursula"

She gets into this game and she stays in it. It's amusing as it leads to some pretty funny quotes:
"Ariel, when you're done doing dishes could you please come help me wipe?"
"We can't go to art class, Ursula is still sleeping!"
and the best one - at 2AM over the baby monitor:
"Jasmine! Jasmine!"
(how psyched was I that she was NOT calling Ariel? and also - snickering just a bit)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Quinn: 8 Months

OK Quinn was 8 months a while ago - and since he's patently refusing to do his post this time around - I guess I need to stop procrastinating. He says he's too busy figuring out crawling. What a slacker.

And since I'm writing late - I'm going to have a hard time keeping straight what happened before and after his 8 month birthday. But I'll try. Also - short on pictures this month (sorry BaBa). It's partially because we're into winter now and indoor shots are just not as much fun and partially due to the fact that G hasn't exported all of the Dec/January photos yet. We've been busy... and sleep deprived.

So without further excuses and whinging.....

Quinn's eighth month was mostly a blur. December is a rough time in our household because we have FOUR family birthdays that fall between Thanksgiving and New Years Day. Also Gordon had a BIG birthday this year - actually his birthday was on Q's 7-month-day. On top of that we traveled to New Jersey and Quinn decided to go on a "sleeping at night" strike. So when we weren't crazy busy we were half asleep (wow, am I STILL whinging?)

Here's what I can remember:

  • Although he still doesn't really have anything to show for it - Q did a lot of teething - hence the no-sleeping. His entire upper gum is bursting with teeth. It's like they're all getting into place so that they can just pop out in unison one day. I'm slightly terrified that he's going to go from toothless grin to a full set of teeth overnight.

  • He's working on crawling - hard. He mastered the "army crawl" this month. So now if I put him on the floor in the living room where I can see him while I'm in the kitchen washing dishes, it's not long before I can't see him anymore. I suspect the crawling bit is adding to his sleep problems.

  • He's also working on pulling up to standing. He can do it with the "parents activity cube thing" (see next picture). We bought this cube for like $10 at a yard sale when Lily was almost 18 months. Gordon carried it all the way back to our place from Davis Square. Lily liked it okay, but it's been a BIG win with Q since he could sit up. And now he uses the bead tracks on top to pull himself up. He's immensely proud of himself when he does it - but usually ends up toppling back over pretty quickly.

    You just wait - I've almost got this!

  • He's started eating finger food. The first one was some organic baby puffs deal (wow you really can google anything). He LOVES these things. At first we felt bad for using them to get us through lunch/dinner etc. But then Gordon realized that one serving - 72 puffs - has like 25 calories. So yes, we are paying for air. But we are also getting to eat our dinner. So Win! Q's got quite the pincer grasp too - he's good with these puffs! I love when he picks one up, studies it and talks to it before eating it. When the puffs are gone he gets very verbal about it. I'm trying to teach him the sign for "more" - but he prefers just banging on the table and yelling in my general direction until more appear. His method is very effective, so I'm not all that hopeful about the sign language bit.

  • Lily still cracks him up. He loves to laugh. His laugh is infectious. At bedtime I hold him and rock him in my arms while singing "Rainbow Connection". Sometimes he looks up at me and just laughs with amusement delight while I'm singing. Then I laugh - and then he laughs more. It's awesome and adorable and I hope he never loses that baby laugh. It's the best.

    I can totally get into Jeh-Jeh's toys now too - Score!

  • He still doesn't really nap for more than 45 minutes on average. I'm still optimistic, though less so. I am also a fool. I am slowly trying to move on to acceptance.

So that's all I've got for now. Stay tuned for Quinn! 9 months! Only a couple of short weeks away. Aren't you lucky - more of this cuteness:

Hanging out with Bobby

Friday, January 15, 2010

Houston*... is that a breast pump in the background?

I went back to work the week before Thanksgiving. I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts about it at the time. But well - the issue with being a working Mom is that you don't have time for anything else - ever. I suppose that's the issue with just having kids regardless of your gender or employment status - but for my particular situation I'm sort of "ok" until you start trying to make me work for a living too.

It's been a lot harder getting into the swing of things this time around. The first issue is that with the addition of Quinn to the family the balance has shifted so that work is definitely easier than being home solo. So where's the problem then, you ask? Shouldn't working a few days make life easier? Well yes, but the issue is that when I GET to work I just want to put my feet up at my desk and - as Depeche Mode would say - enjoy the silence. You see my entire team works in Houston. I am in Cambridge. I could go hours and talk to no one - and it's heavenly. Yes I occasionally have to deal with the painfully socially awkward engineer in the hallway - but that is SO much easier than simultaneously wrangling a 3 year old who is "testing" and a baby who's teething and not really into the whole napping thing.

I was worried that it would be really hard to leave Quinn at daycare - but honestly that's been a pretty easy transition. He goes to a family daycare - (not the same as Lily's, she was full) - that we found thanks to friends of ours. Kathy only watches four kids at a time and is just awesome. Quinn seems to love it there. He's the youngest by about a year and the three older kids adore him. He gets tons of hugs and kisses from all of them and has lots of entertainment throughout his day.

The thing that HAS made this transition a lot harder has been pumping at work. Quinn is still nursing and honestly I've really enjoyed the experience and am not quite ready to end that part of our relationship just yet. So I'm pumping - to try to keep things going. And let me tell you - it's hard! I have no idea how women return to work full time when their baby is three months old and pump for the next nine months. These people are like rock stars to me. I am immensely impressed by them.

I, on the other hand, am a wuss, apparently - an easily-distracted one at that. So if you take my work day and throw in three pumping sessions it becomes really hard for me to stay focused. It should also be noted that I have a perfect "pump at work" situation. I have my own office, with a locked door and blinds on the windows. I work with folks that are in Houston so conduct most of my "face-to-face" business on the phone. Therefore I can pump through almost anything. I've got my little hands-free kit and a Medela Freestyle. There should be nothing stopping me really.

But instead I'm finding it really really challenging. Part of the issue is that while my supply has always been just fine for Quinn I'm not getting a TON when I pump - and it's frustrating. My little eating machine takes 4 oz of fruit, 4 oz of vegetable, cereal and 18 oz of milk to Kathy's on my work day. That's a lot of food - and a lot of milk to produce! At first I could use the tiny stash I had managed to build up to supplement, but now that's gone. At most I can produce 9 oz during the 3 sessions at work - only 1/2 of what Q needs. I could *almost* make it work by pumping in the evening every night (even on my non-work days). But I took a hiatus from that over the holidays and now my night session is really really sad. I'm planning to ditch it soon to just make life a little easier.

Now my goal is just to pump during the day when at work so I keep my supply up for the nursing sessions at home. Kathy's been supplementing with formula when he's there and that's been working fine. I'm lucky in that Quinn will eat pretty much anything from any source. He's fine with bottles and fine with formula too. And since Lily drank nothing but formula, I'm fine with it as well.

I do admit that occasionally the stubborn, type-A, perfectionist in me isn't fine with it. Its really not that I care that Quinn is eating formula. It's more that I have a really hard time letting go. I SAY that I'm giving up the nighttime pumping session, but I haven't yet. I keep doing it anyway - I'll probably get started as soon as I finish this post. I don't like "giving up" the evening session because it feels like I'm giving up - though what I'm giving up ON, I'm not sure. So really, it's not about Quinn - it's all about me.

Wow - I do ramble when I get going with the more self-involved posts! So to wrap this
up here are a couple of fun anecdotes about pumping at work when you're one of three woman on staff in your building (and the only one with kids). As I said, the office-pumping situation is pretty great, but I still have to travel down the hallway from my office with bottles of breast milk in my hand and rinse of pump parts in the kitchen. During these trips of mine I have had the following conversations:

[SAME = socially-awkward male engineer]

SAME#1: "So, hows *production*?" (accompanied by what I can only describe as a "boob gesture" - he sort of bounces his imaginary boobs while looking towards my not-so-imaginary ones)
Me [taken a bit off guard and not very suave about it]: oh you know, hanging in there
(holy god NOT the best choice of words!)
SAME#1: [laugh's knowingly] yeah, yeah how's your *supply*?

SAME#2: "Wow you've lost a TON of weight!"
Me: [not certain that he knows I was actually PREGNANT before and not just eating too much ice cram] oh thanks, having a baby can do that
SAME#2: [mumbles something incoherently and may or may not have said something about a cow]
Me [feeling awkward, also holding two bottle of freshly pumped milk]: "well I'm nursing too so that's helping with the weight loss a lot this time around"
SAME#2: "oh yes, your baby has his own personal cow!"

Thankfully I mostly love my office - and the guys there, they do mean well. They just don't always know what is appropriate. I mean I have no issue talking about nursing in general... it's just well... I could do without the cow references and too-direct questions!

And for now - still nursing, still pumping. We'll see how long we can keep it up. Quinn's first teeth are JUST about to break though - so that could change the landscape a little as well too!

*OK so not really. I mean, yeah I do spend time in mission control during shuttle missions, but I won't be taking my pump along with me. Also - I don't get to talk directly to the astronauts - just to the GNC lead. But I couldn't resist. I want Tom Hanks to deliver that line in a movie.

Monday, January 11, 2010

2010 Resolutions

Every year we take a trip to New Jersey for the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. In addition to being a chance to spend time with family and friends, the trip is also an opportunity for G and I to have some actual conversations during the drives there and back. Over the years we've had some pretty deep heart-to-hearts while driving down 84 or cruising the Merrit Parkway - including one "discussion" about whether or not our (still in the future) kids would get to eat ice cream on a regular basis. (I was doing my damnedest to convince him that ice cream was healthier than "obvious junk food" - kind of like the Catholic "fish is not meat" thing) Most of the times these discussion occur in Connecticut because by the time we get to the New Jersey Turnpike I'm no longer capable of coherent thought due to all the damn traffic.

In recent years we've used the time to do a little reflection on the past year and talk about what we'd like to accomplish in the new one. In an attempt to capture them somewhere - and hold myself accountable - I thought I'd post my own personal 2010 resolutions. I'll let G put his up here on his own time if he's so inclined. OK so here we go.

  • Change my last name. I've been meaning to do this - really - but it's just never a "good time". I always thought I would do it during maternity leave. Well now I've had two 6-month leaves and it hasn't happened yet. I also thought I'd do it when my passport expired... ummm... nope. So that's it - this year I will do it. I'm going to wait until after our trip to Canada in April though. Spring would also be a better time to haul the kids on the T to downtown Boston.

  • Learn a new skill. Now that I'm no longer in school I take all this satisfaction from learning something new. A few years back I learned to drive a manual transmission and felt like a total star. And while, yes, I've picked up some new skills since having children - it hasn't been quite the same. So this year I'm going to either take guitar or sewing lessons. Both are things I've done before (so I have both a guitar and a sewing machine) - but it's been a long time and I am at best rusty. I'm guessing sewing will win out - but we shall see.

  • Simplify domestic chores. I'm one of those people who makes everyday things harder just for the fun of it. But lately G and I feel like we are buried under an avalanche of work around the house. We're drowning in laundry, dishes, clutter, etc. Even the things that I used to find "fun" (playing around with household budges in personal finance software) feels like drudgery. So time to take charge of that. The first step has been getting over my silly nuerosis that plastic can never ever go in the dishwasher. I am putting plastic in the dishwasher - and we are running it as often as possible.

  • Take charge of my gmail inbox. Seriously - I want that sucker down to 50 messages or less - at all times. I made progress in that direction last year, but then Quinn was born and my Dad got sick and the email went crazy and I'm back above 200. I will tame this beast. Maybe something like this would help. Anyone else have a favorite solution to the email mountain?

  • Write more blog posts than last year. I managed to squeeze out 60 posts in 2009 and 59 in 2008. So the trend is good - and I've got an average of more than one per week! But I tend to do it kind of sporadically and in bunches. This year I'd like to get better at posting a little more regularly. Now that G and I have our photo-management/sharing mostly worked out it *should* be easier. Hopefully the "simplifying household tasks" bit will leave me with more time to post!

OK that's all I can remember right now - but I'd be pretty psyched if I got through those - so we'll leave it at that!
Happy 2010 everyone! And in the spirit of that final resolution I do have an number of posts cooking from the holidays and our New Jersey trip. They should be coming soon-ish... I hope....

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Year, Another ER

So remember my last post? In which I made some cheeky reference to the 2009 ER trip? Well someone was paying attention and decided to punish me because tonight we landed in the ER again. The second January in a row. Last year we went 20 days into the new year - this year it was only about 3.75.


Let's back up a bit - the year is 1977 and it's June (holy GOD that sounds like a LONG time ago, doesn't it?). The Masterson family, Bob, Donna and 2-year old Becky have moved into their new house on Valentine Street. The first night in the new house Becky becomes intimately acquainted with the new, yet-to-be-carpeted stairway leading from the first to the second floor. Having spent the first 2 years of her life in an apartment she had never seen stairs IN HER HOUSE before. So she fell down them - all of them. She cried - she was comforted - she was sent to bed. The next day Donna discovers that she can't move her arm. So to the hospital they go and lo and behold - a broken collarbone! (do you see where this is going yet?)


No we haven't moved and don't have a new house. But what we DO have is a dining room table with a bench on one side. Now in general, we love the bench. It adds character to the table - you can squash more people on it - you can move it around the house for extra seating at parties. However, during dinner time the bench has proven to be a bit annoying. Lily prefers the bench and sits on that side with her Dad. And by sits I mean that she spins around on the bench, lies down on it, and occasionally finds her plate and jams some food into her mouth. We've tried having firm "no horsing around" rules - but it's hard. Honestly dinner-time became the new bed-time for me a few months ago. It can be exhausting trying to get her to sit still.

Tonight was no real exception. Lily managed to eat a good portion of ravioli, carrots, broccoli and cheese. She was waiting for Gordon to finish toasting her another slice of bread. And by waiting I mean that she was horsing around on the bench singing Frosty the Snowman and occasional coming over to my side to kiss Quinn on the head. At some point she lay down on the bench on her stomach - I found out later she was trying to look at a statue sitting on the fireplace. She scooted herself forward to get a better view of the statute and didn't notice that she had run out of bench - kind of like Wile E. Coyote running out of cliff - except she didn't get to hang out in the air and hold up an "Oh $#!%$" sign before crashing to the ground. She took a header off the end and landed badly - I don't really know the details of the landing because I was on the other side of the table stuffing my face in the time I had between feeding Quinn and getting him to his bath.

Gordon rushed over and picked her up - she was pretty upset, more upset than usual. I sat there gently admonishing her for horsing around on the bench and thinking to myself how having children SIGNFICANTLY increases the rate of household mishaps. I was even composing a witty facebook status update to that effect (aren't I awesome?). She kept crying so I fetched her bread from the toaster and went over there to distract her with it. I reached down to pluck her from Gordon's lap and when I held under her arm she let out a real scream. I knew right then that her collarbone was kaput.

So we loaded her into the stroller and I took her over to Somerville Hospital. Man it's pretty darn awesome having a hospital across the street from you let me tell you. She was in pain and freaked out when we got there - but everyone there was really great and she got comfortable pretty quickly. She was examined and there were X-Rays. Let me just say that my kid is a champion X-Ray taker. She's awesome at it - totally cooperative - and she's only three!

While the X-Ray tech was setting up Lily and I were chatting about what was going to happen. We talked about the last time she had X-Rays and how it didn't hurt at all. Her biggest concern was that they'd need to move her to the other bed and that could hurt her shoulder. I told her I would hold her hand. She said to me "I don't need no one to hold my hand". That made me both proud and more than a little sad. When the X-Ray tech came back we found out that she would do it right in the bed she was in. That thrilled Lily and she said "Mommy, you were WRONG!" with a giggle. When the actual pictures were taken she did in fact want to hold my hand - so yay for that - I'm too young to not have a job anymore!

The doctor read the X-Ray and showed it to me. Sure enough she's got a broken collarbone. They can't do much for it - she's got a sling that is like 4 sizes too big for her and will be getting motrin and ice regularly. She'll also be staying home from school this week to keep her from doing something else to it before it can set and start healing up. Apparently this is the most common childhood injury since the clavicle doesn't completely harden until adulthood. Who knew? I guess that's why I broke mine TWICE (again in 5th grade - I fell down walking - not. even. kidding) .

So it looks like Lily's inherited my proclivity towards crazy collarbone accidents. Sorry kiddo.

We took some pictures in the ER room to send to Daddy. Because really, what is an iPhone for if not to entertain a scared, hurting toddler in the ER? BTW - how adorably sad is that little sling?

Looking skeptical of this whole situation

Big smile to send to Daddy

And a picture of Mommy too - it's hard to take a picture with one hand!

Please send some healing thoughts her way and copious bottles of wine to us as we try to keep her from running, climbing, falling, etc for the next couple of weeks. And let's hope that Quinn managed to escape Mommy's accident-prone gene!