Friday, December 28, 2007

I made it a whole year!

A year ago, I entered the hospital looking like this...

15 hours of labor...

and came out with this.

It's been the best year of my life. Without a doubt. Not even close.

I wish I could slow time down, or maybe hold that tiny newborn again for just a little while, because the baby that newborn has turned into doesn't have much time for sitting still. He's busy, and sweet, and wonderful, and amazing, and brilliant, and so, so, so funny.

I wish all of you an extraordinarily happy new year, filled with as many wonderful memories, laughter and joy as we have had in the past year.

Happy birthday to Gabe!

Friday, December 07, 2007

like my own personal outbreak monkey

You'll recall that on Gabe's first Halloween, he was also diagnosed with his first ear infection. It caused several days of crying and complaining and whining (on both of our parts), but he recovered. Then I started feeling like crud, and it turned out that I had a sinus infection and double ear infections. There was more crying and complaining and whining (this time only on my part), but the antibiotics helped and I slowly recovered.

We went to Florida for Thanksgiving, and there were a few shining days of good health, where I wasn't blowing my sinuses out or struggling to clear my ears and all I had to worry about were the mosquito bites I kept getting all over my legs.

On the last day in Florida, though, Gabe's nose started running again and I mentally begged the world not to let him get sick again. We came home, and although the runny nose continued, it also didn't get worse, until last weekend. On Saturday a faucet turned on in Gabe's nose and I was forced for the first time ever, to whip out that evil nose sucky device that I'd carefully avoided for 11 months. Still, this was still a cold, it was doable.

And then.

I tipped Gabe back on Sunday morning as I got ready to feed him and saw a strange sight- something white along the inside of his lips. I took a closer look and saw... blisters. Lots and lots of blisters and white patches all along the inside of his lips. I called the pediatrician on call, who assured me that he was fine, but had a highly contagious virus called Coxsackie virus, otherwise known as Hand, Foot, and Mouth. A miserable virus, but nothing dangerous. As long as he continued to drink fluids and continued producing wet diapers, we could just give him pain relievers and not worry.

The next day, I started to feel like a steamroller ran over me.

The day after that, the vomiting and diarrhea started up on Gabe's part. Then a cough was added into the mix, and the coughing and vomiting encourage each other to add to the fun. Then the coughing and vomiting would happen right at bedtime or naptime, so there was no sleeping to be had around here. Lots of laundry, though, LOTS of laundry.

Yesterday his mouth started bleeding where some of the blisters burst, and my heart ached a little for how bad he must be feeling. Surprisingly, he has been relatively cheery despite the illness, and the only indication that he doesn't feel well is a bit of clinginess, a reduced appetite and night wakings. Also the cough that sounds like an 80 year old emphysema patient.

Today on a repeat trip to the pediatrician, we found that the diarrhea has given him a yeast infection. The holiday spirit is really rampant in our house these days.

To top it all off, Tango (the dog) started acting strangely over the last couple of days, as if he is in pain or extremely upset over something. He doesn't want me to pet him and flinches away from you if you try to scratch him or rub his back. Today he ran away from me and tried to hide when I went to pick him up, and when I called him back, he was so worked up that he pooped on the floor. A rush trip to the veterinarian, $65 later, and he thinks it is psychological. Maybe something happened to him a few days ago that was painful, maybe Gabe hit him or a toy fell on him or something, and he is reacting to that stress. Or maybe the baby learning to walk is pissing him off and he is trying to show me that he is upset. Who knows, but according to the vet, nothing is physically wrong with him.

All of this was enough to send me over the edge this afternoon, and after tearily asking my neighbor if she would watch Gabe while I ran the dogs to the veterinarian, I had a good little moping fest in my car. It's just a bit much. I'm sick, Gabe is sick, Josh is working long hours, and now the freaking dog is sick too?

I'm going to make a small request here, friend to friend, that you would take one teeny moment to send us good thoughts for improved health by the time I have to load my 11 month old, his stroller, car seat, pack and play, and luggage onto a flight to Germany on Wednesday. We can use all the help we can get around here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

what happened to my baby?

In the last two weeks, in no particular order, Gabe did the following:

1. Got another tooth, bringing his running total up to 8 teeth.

2. Learned to lift both arms in response to "How big is Gabriel?"

3. Said "Dada" with a big smile when Josh walked into the room.

4. Learned all the hand movements to the "Itsy Bitsy Spider".

5. Learned the sign for "all done".

6. Started doing the sign for "milk".

7. Sticks out his tongue when you ask him where his tongue is.

8. Hugs on demand, in both Spanish and English.

9. Kisses on demand, in both Spanish and English.

10. Took his first steps! Two toward me (of course trying to get my lunch) and then a couple that night for Josh!

All of these changes are exhilarating, don't get me wrong, but at the same time, they break my heart a tiny bit. Every day Gabe looks less and less like a baby, and more and more like a toddler. He has more hair, more teeth, more personality, and I feel babyhood slipping away from me faster than I can hold it in. Is this what the rest of my life will be like?

Oh, and he climbs slides also. By himself. Yikes!

flareglo, minus the fires

I have a new product review up at the other blog for Autolite Flareglo Safety Lites.

If you like products for your car, or you're a safety nut, or if you're just interested, check it out!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

thanksgiving recapped

I mentioned a couple of entries ago that we were heading to Florida for Thanksgiving, but I failed to mention that we were heading to the mecca for all children who are destined to behave like miniature demons, especially on airplanes and in public places. ORLANDO.

My sister in law inhabits a suburb of Orlando, and although her suburb is perfectly nice and cute and not filled with the demon spawn that we witnessed the rest of the time, it was clearly a less than stellar idea for us to plan to fly down to Orlando during Thanksgiving break. Apparently graduate degrees are good for some things, but not common sense decisions, that's for sure.

On the flight down, the wonderful, kind, generous, blessed people at Delta gave us the only empty seat on the plane after I begged them shamelessly, and I had the pleasure of strapping Gabe into his car seat for the whole flight. It. Was. Awesome. Almost awesome enough to entice me to spend the money that I don't have to buy him his own seat in the future. We were able to strap him into his little seat, from which he took a lovely nap, ate a lovely lunch, played in lovely ways with his toys, and only started to throw things at the other passengers while we were landing. Whatever, I consider it a success if the woman in front of us only gets hit once with the miniature car 3 minutes before we touched down. Isn't that the measure of an excellent flight?

All around us, people talked in loud obnoxious voices about their net worth and how much they paid for hotel rooms, and which park they'd be attending, and NO JAKEY, NO, IT'S MY TURN, NOOO, MY TURN, MY TURNNNNNN!!! But my child was strapped in, and quiet, so I smiled when someone kicked my chair for the 7th time in 10 minutes and cranked up my ipod.

The airport in Orlando was a madhouse of children and large groups of people and screams of Disney! Disney! Disney! But my sister in law's house was fine and the weather was warm, and we stayed away from malls and public places and we had a great time. Something magical was in the air, though, and Gabe slept through the night, completely, every night except the first night we arrived. He hasn't done that in, oh, I don't know, MONTHS, for sure. It was amazing, except that Josh had volunteered to do all overnight wakings during our vacation week, and I was only slightly pissed that he didn't have to get up at all. It would have been nice for him to feel my pain, but it's fine. I'll remember that when Gabe is old enough to ask for a new toy.

We did have plans to venture out of the house to Sea World on Tuesday, until we looked at the prices and holy shit, the tickets are $67.95 for adults, and children are $57.95! I want my child to have a good time as much as anyone else, but he is satisfied by the fish tank at our local sushi restaurant, so I don't think we need to spend close to $200 to get into a park. My niece and nephew were pretty disappointed, until we told them that Shamu wanted to spend Thanksgiving with her family. They understood, grudgingly, so we took them to the zoo instead.

We also had a little conversion ceremony for Gabe while we were in Florida. In Reform Judaism, which we practice, Gabe is Jewish because we say he is Jewish, because he was circumcised and because we behave as if he is Jewish. We didn't need a special ceremony to proclaim something we already know. But for more conservative sects of Judaism, Gabe needs to have an official conversion because he wasn't born to a Jewish mother. If Gabe decides to practice a more conservative type of Judaism, or wants to marry someone more conservative than we are, we didn't want him to be encumbered by my not being Jewish. So we went ahead and did the stricter conversion, just to be safe. It was sweet and short, with a simple dip in a ritual bath at my sister in law's temple. Josh took him in and he was a champ and then we all clapped and sang and had a lunch afterwards. Josh would tell you that most importantly, Gabe got his first Red Sox yarmulke. It was a day of milestones.

Thanksgiving was uneventful, except for the exceptional quantity of food Gabe consumed. My stomach hurt just watching him inhale turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans and stuffing. Gabe is my miniature garbage disposal these days. All food is good good good.

The flight home, however, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, turned out to be a nightmare and a half. Children were screaming, the people in front of us thought it was acceptable it play a movie at full volume on their DVD player with no headphones, and the people behind us must have been hard of hearing because they screamed their conversations to each other. We had to ask the DVD player people twice to turn down their movie, they refused, and we finally called a stewardess who was also unsuccessful in her attempts to get them to (a) use headphones, (b) turn down the volume, or (c) turn off the movie. I ended up listening to the whole The Little Mermaid movie, loud enough to hear each and every word and song. Somehow that 2 and a half hour flight felt like 6 hours, seriously. It was unreal.

Now, we're safe and sound at home, and after one painful night, Gabe has slept through the night for the last three nights. I'm in disbelief at not being exhausted. It feels marvelous. I haven't unpacked yet, because it seems like so much work to unpack just to repack again for our trip to Germany and the Czech Republic in another 2 weeks. I refuse to think about what that time change is going to do to our sleep situation. Denial is a useful tool these days.

It almost doesn't need to be mentioned what I am thankful for this year. I think we all already know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thankful for sex

Shocking, I know, but having a baby puts a damper on your sex life.

(Are you laughing yet?)

When I was pregnant, I listened to friends complain about how pregnancy was disrupting their, um, frequency with their husbands, and I smugly thought that since it hadn't happened to us, we were immune. I felt great, generally, throughout the pregnancy, and we were still having regular sex up until a couple of days before I gave birth. I felt certain that this boded well for our postpartum period. I'd recover quickly, and we'd go back to our regular routine.

And then I squeezed a human, a tiny human, but still a human, out of my BODY. Along with that came stitches and pooping problems, and bladder pains, and general soreness, and well, lots of excess weight, and I felt like someone else. Definitely not the me that existed before December 28th. Plus, I felt consumed by this fiery new love for this defenseless little thing. That, coupled with exhaustion and the round the clock breastfeeding, and I couldn't imagine anything I'd rather do less than have sex.

But time changes everything, I guess, and slowly things got better. We worked out the new kinks, especially those associated with breastfeeding, and when I got my period again, my libido made it's lovely return appearance. Libido wasn't quite the same as the last time I'd seen her, but we were happy to see her nonetheless.

The truth is, though, Gabe still wakes up once a night, more often than not, and by the time Josh gets home at night and we put Gabe to bed, I'm beat. Exhausted. Grumpy. And definitely not in the mood. I try to rally for the team, but I need tips on how to get myself off the bench and running the bases more often.

I read an article recently on trying to figure out what makes you feel sexy, and trying to do that as often as possible. So I got my legs and bikini waxed, I bought cute pajamas, I'm trying to go to sleep earlier. Oprah says you should read romantic novels, but it isn't really my thing. I'm willing to try anything, though, so if you see me at the library picking out trashy novels, please look the other way.

At the risk of having Josh kill me for exposing our whole life to the Internet, what else should I do? What has worked for you?

And be graphic, please. I'm begging you.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I've had a gag order until now

I'm not going back to work.

I guess many of you already figured this out, since I haven't mentioned work in quite some time, and I have mentioned activities Gabe and I have been doing. But there it is, out in the open. I've been dying to write about it, but I am paranoid, and fearful, and I wanted to give my notice first, get all my boxes shipped to me, and complete any final paperwork that might need to be done.

Deciding not to go back to work has been a long and painful process over the last 10 months. It started with taking 6 months of maternity leave, or 5 months and 3 weeks worth of leave, to be exact. I was supposed to go back at the end of May, and my mom had agreed to come to Boston for the summer to watch Gabe while I transitioned back to work. Then in September, I'd find a nanny or a daycare, or I'd use our in-building daycare until the end of 2007, at which time my mom was thinking about retiring to come and take care of Gabe for me, in lieu of a nanny.

I thought I'd be okay with that plan. I was convinced I'd be okay with that plan. I figured that I'd work part-time, even if part-time at a law firm was practically full-time everywhere else, but we need the money. We really need the money. Plus, I went to school for a long time to get here. I worked hard, and on most days, I liked my job. I kept telling myself that I'd be ready to leave my baby by 6 months, and I'd be grateful for the grown-up time and stimulation.

What really happened? I had panic attacks at the thought of leaving Gabe, even with my mom. I would burst into tears whenever the subject came up. My stomach would tie up in knots when I thought about being away from Gabe for more than a couple of hours. It was rather pitiful, to tell you the truth.

So I asked for a leave of absence, until Labor Day. Now I had another 3 months to psych myself up for leaving him. Plus, I kept telling myself, he'd be 9 months old! Totally old enough to be with someone else! He'd probably treasure it! He'd be sick of me by then.

And then something remarkable happened. Gabe became even more fun than he'd been up until then, and I realized that although I'd previously thought Gabe needed me the most from months 0-6, he still needed me and there wasn't going to be a magic date where he'd need me less. Well, maybe when he leaves for college, or maybe high school, but probably not at 9 months. I just didn't want to go back to work, at least, not a work that required me to be there for 50 hours a week, and on call all the time.

It's funny, though, you think that deciding to go back to work is the hardest decision to make, but sometimes deciding not to go back to work is just as hard. Especially when you've lived your whole life following a certain life plan, with certain expectations and ambitions for yourself. Deciding to stay home felt like a sort of failure, as crazy as that sounds.

In some ways, it felt unbelievable and amazing, and like such a relief. In other ways, it feels so strange to think that this is my life, and that I'm not having reviews and deadlines and all-nighters. It has also been surprisingly hard to sit back and watch Josh wrestle with the work stuff, and feel powerless to help. I have to keep reminding myself that he'd have to deal with the difficulties of a new job and new coworkers, whether or not I was sitting in an office. But it is hard.

My not working is a huge financial hit for us. Seriously, huge. Our lifestyle has to change 100%. No more ordering in, going out to dinner, no more new clothes, no big vacations, no new toys for Gabe. No house renovations, no closet remodels, no new windows and doors, even if they are leaking our heat out and you feel wind when you walk by the front door. It is totally, utterly, absolutely worth it, but it still takes some getting used to, I'm not going to lie.

So that is the deal. I'm not working, at least for now. I keep thinking about getting something part-time for 10-15 hours a week, but when I think about my reasons for wanting to find a job, they are all tied up in guilt and worrying that Josh wants me to work, rather than actually wanting to work. And the truth is, I love love love being home with Gabe. Love it. Even when he throws his pacifier out of his crib for the 7th time, or when he eats the dog's bone for the 12th time, or when he whines endlessly from 6-7pm, or when he refuses to eat any form of pureed fruit, even when it is mixed with other things. I love it.

I think this is the best job for me, with the best little tyrant, bi-polar, crazy little boss in the world.

Now if only I can convert kisses into mortgage credit. Maybe I'll call the bank in the morning.

keeping it simple

Do your New Year's resolutions involve getting organized?

I have a new review (plus some products to give away) on Day Runner's new Family Matters organizational system on the reviews blog.

Come check it out! Free stuff! Plus who doesn't need more organization in their lives?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the sweetest sound

Gabe looked up at me Friday night, lifted his little arms toward me, and said, clear as day, "Mama". I thought it was a fluke, but he's said it lots of times since then, even with an audience.

It is particularly ironic, because just that afternoon someone had been telling me about a baby around the same age as Gabe who already says "light", "car", and "daddy". Isn't that advanced? At 10 months? Anyway, in true Type A mommy fashion, I was starting to wonder if perhaps I should be encouraging him to talk a bit more. So we get home from dinner and I am asking Gabe if he is ready for bed, and voila! He said mama! And the heavens opened up and angels sang. It was glorious.

This parenting gig is totally worth it.

He talks/grunts on the phone too, that is pretty much the second cutest thing ever.

Friday, November 09, 2007

maybe we should have a weekly awards ceremony

I think I can claim the Worst Mother Award this time.

For the few days before Halloween, Gabe started getting up at night. Repeatedly. Sometimes with screaming. We happened to be visiting my in-laws at the time, so I assumed that all of the screaming could be attributed to a new place, a new bed, different routines.

Then we came home, and the screaming continued at nighttime, and during the day he would occasionally tug on his ear.

I know, I know. Right now, you're thinking, DUH.

But the thing is, I'd already taken him to the pediatrician twice in the last couple of weeks because he kept tugging on his ear and both times it was teething. Teething! So I didn't want to be the idiot mother who takes her kid to the doctor AGAIN for teething.

You know the end of this story already, I'm sure, because when I took him to the doctor this third time, he had an ear infection. I am properly ashamed of myself, and as I sat rocking Gabe the last few nights, I also feel appropriately guilty for making my sweet baby suffer unnecessarily.

I suck.

Gabe has been on antibiotics for 10 days now, and appears to be feeling better, and had his ears checked again and all is clear and healthy. Thankfully.

The same can't be said for me, though. As Gabe has improved, I have been getting sicker and sicker. First a runny nose, then a cough, then a stuffy head, then unending snot, then pounding pain behind my eyes, then inability to clear my ears, and since yesterday, pain in my teeth. Weird, right?

Turns out, I have a sinus infection and double ear infections. Fun, huh?

I guess karma is a bitch. Next time, I'm taking him to the pediatrician 17 times, even if I get sent home 17 times for teething. I'll send our pediatrician a letter of apology in advance for being annoying.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

this year I really can blame my belly on the candy bowl

Halloween festivities have abounded around here over the past week.

We had a successful Halloween party this weekend, with loads of cute babies dressed as loads of cute things.

These rats are not representative of the cute babies.

I have leftovers coming out of my ears; I could literally throw another entire party and have enough to feed people.

Poisonous centipede, anyone?

My mom is visiting, and she and I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning preparing and decorating and clearing out space for the 40+ people that rsvped to the party. I was ready to have a nervous breakdown because our tiny house can definitely NOT support 40+ people, but thankfully, they came in shifts. Plus, a quarter of the participants were under a year old, so they took up less space.

We went apple picking, pumpkin picking, traveled through corn mazes, made pumpkin pies and apple muffins, purchased costumes, set up mums and went on foliage trips.

It has been a wonderful month, and I'm a little sad to see it end. Tomorrow we have another party to attend and we're trick or treating at Josh's work in the afternoon before we head home to hand out candy.

Today, however, we completed an important rite of passage for Gabe. We carved his first pumpkin.

He helped. Especially if you count licking the pumpkin and poking things into it helping.

I think we're well on our way to securing the Halloween obsession in the future generation.

More than anything, though, I've realized that Halloween is a million times more fun when you can share it with your friends and family.

I've also realized that time really does fly when you're having fun.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

Happy Halloween from our little stinker to yours!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

he's very advanced

Gabe and I went to a playdate at a friend's house this afternoon. A friend that has a baby 3 months younger than Gabe, and who is not yet crawling or scooting around the house. A baby that stays on the blanket on which you place him, and who is not yet eating dust and cobwebs and pulling himself up on anything that is within reach. Meaning, a friend whose house is NOT babyproofed.

More than not being babyproofed, though, her house was a veritable construction site of danger. The doors to her basement were hanging open, the wires to her flat panel that hangs on the wall in her living room were taunting us as they sat jumbled together on the floor, the screws to her missing fireplace gate sat menacingly from the wide open fireplace bricks. And Gabe, with his super special sense for all things that could kill you, headed straight for each of these.

Oh, I did what the books tell you... I distracted him, redirected him, encouraged him to play with LOOK! the ball! the car! the talking table! the book! my water bottle! my cell phone! please? anything!!! But I have a determined child with a singular purpose- to reach whatever I have told him not to touch.

After I'd peeled him off the fireplace opening for the 6th time, he started to get annoyed with me, and frankly, I was a little annoyed with him. By the 7th time, he started to cry when I hauled him across the room. And by the 8th time, he threw his first ever, real live tantrum.

He threw himself face down on the floor, sobbing and flailing his arms and legs.

At 9 months. NINE MONTHS.

Then, amidst the big crocodile tears, he picked himself up again and headed straight back for the sooty dirty fireplace with the screws and the brick corners and the step up and the danger danger danger. I pulled him off again, and he threw another tantrum, and I realized that I wasn't having fun anymore. So I picked him up, packed up our bag, and headed home. It wasn't a play date if there was no playing going on, and at least in my living room I don't have to keep saying no to a person that doesn't even understand what I'm saying.

Isn't 9 months a little young for this, though? Isn't toddlerhood going to be AWFULLY long if we start with the tantrums now? I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

there are still witches in Salem, right?

This weekend we went apple picking with Chatty Cricket and her crew. Unfortunately, there were no more apples, but we did enjoy the unseasonably warm fall weather, the pumpkin patch, and the cuteness of the kids.

Does anyone know how to bottle up the adoration of a 9 month old?

Josh and I are wondering. We'd like to save some up for when he turns 16.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

maybe the IRS will call today too

It's been QUITE a day today.

Here are the infractions on the list (and keep in mind that it is only 3:59pm at the time of this writing):

1. As we were getting ready to walk out the door to take a walk with a neighbor, Gabe puked up his whole breakfast on himself. I'd just removed his bib about 30 seconds prior. It soaked his pants, sweater, shirt and onesie, so we had to start all over again with the wardrobe decisions. To add insult to injury, as I pulled off his sweater, I accidentally smeared the spit-up onto his face and into his hair.

2. Gabe wouldn't take a nap. I have nothing more to say about this, my ears are bleeding from listening to him whine about it.

3. The dogs pooped on the living room rug.

4. One of the dogs puked 5 times on the living room rug because they ate snacks out of Gabe's hand.

5. Then Gabe ate the left over bits of the snack that had fallen out of the dogs' mouths. The previously slobbered on bits.

6. I was in the kitchen getting materials to clean up the puke, and returned to find Gabe sitting on the floor with my coffee mug between his legs, licking the rim of the coffee cup to get the remnants. Shocking that he won't take a nap, no? He was saying "mmmm, mmmm, mmmm" to himself while he licked the edge, and screamed when I took it away.

7. My house is a disaster zone, DISASTER, and with Josh working late every night this week, I've had no time to clean and I'm supposed to host a book club tomorrow night. I am surrounded by piles of dirty clothes and dust bunnies.

8. Josh also just sent me an email with the list of traveling that he will be doing over the next two months. A list of traveling that includes several nights and days away from us.

Sigh. Just sigh.


In other news, we're introducing Gabe to some musical classics, and would welcome suggestions.

So far, he enjoys:
Billy Joel
Elton John
Lionel Richie
Tina Turner
Neil Diamond
Bruce Springsteen
Rod Stewart

He also did some dancing to Tiffany's "I think we're alone now", when it came on the radio the other day.

Any thoughts on who we should add to the list?

Monday, October 15, 2007

i have to live up to my name, after all

October is fast coming to a close, and I'm sure you know what that means.


We're very excited about Halloween in the Halloweenlover household, most of all because it is Gabe's first Halloween! Such a milestone! I can tell that he is particularly excited about it. I've been showing him pumpkins and costumes and scarecrows and together we pulled out all of the decorations and took on the extensive process of spooking up the house. We can't wait.

Our front stoop is ready to greet trick or treaters, and friends that come in the meantime.

Josh would like you to please note the 50 pound pumpkin that I made him lug home from the Berkshires. He says that it ruined our gas mileage for the drive home. Whatever, it was totally worth it.

We have our Halloween countdown calendar set up and ready to go.

FYI, our name is not actually Craig, this is just the sample picture from the PBK catalog.

Gabe is prepared with the appropriate wardrobe choices for the month.

His costume (not to be revealed yet) is purchased and waiting for him. I promise you that it is cute enough to make you throw up.

The cookbook with all the good pumpkin muffin and pumpkin bread recipes is sitting out on the counter, and the slow cooker is cooking away. Plans for apple and pumpkin picking are on the calendar. A baby Halloween party is in the works for all of Gabe's new baby friends and some pre-Halloween and actual Halloween festivities are also in the works. Gabe's Nonna is even coming to town for the week of Halloween, so we have lots to look forward to, lots to celebrate. How about all of you?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I'm especially bummed because I don't get to burn those calories

In the grand scheme of things, I think I've had a pretty easy go of the breastfeeding thing. I never had any pain, never had any latching problems, supply was great. I found breastfeeding to be lovely right from the get-go, except perhaps for the sleep deprivation. Many of my friends complained about the hours and hours spent trapped on the couch breastfeeding, but none of that bothered me. I'd just curl up with Gabe in my arms and a good book resting on the edge of my boppy and I was happy as a clam.

When I look at the last 9 and a half months objectively, though, I realize that breastfeeding isn't really, per se, easy. In the early days, I spent 1/3 of my days sitting on the couch breastfeeding Gabe, when his marathon feeding sessions would take up to an hour each time. Then I spent hours upon hours pumping so that I'd have enough for a frozen stash and for an occasional bottle if I ever left him with Josh. Around 6 months, I dealt with his nursing strike, then recently, I dealt with his bottle strike. For the last 3 months, I've dealt with him not wanting to feed long enough to initiate a letdown. If the milk isn't there the second he is hungry, he'll arch his back and try to get out of my arms. This means that I often have to pump until the milk starts flowing, then put Gabe on, at which point he'll eat. Needless to say, this is very annoying.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's been worth it. I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.

In order to do all this work, though, I've realized that I have to believe that what I'm doing is the best thing for Gabe. I have to believe that breastfeeding him is worth all the work. It doesn't really matter whether I know that logically formula is totally perfect too, because in order to justify all this work, I've just internalized the idea that breastfeeding him is the best thing I can do for him right now.

Over the past few weeks, I've had some trouble with supply. Gabe wants to feed 6 times a day one day, 3 times a day the next. Sometimes twice a night, sometimes not at all. My milk hasn't been meeting his demands, so I see a definite drop in supply. I used to be able to pump one additional bottle for him after he'd gone to bed, but lately I can't get anything when I try to pump. Sometimes I'll have to pump 10-15 minutes, just to get my letdown to start at dinnertime. It is so frustrating. I'm very emotional about the whole thing, and I'm trying everything. I drink tons of water throughout the day, upwards of 12 glasses per day. I'm taking fenugreek up the wazoo, and I'm making sure I eat enough as the day goes on. Still, we're slowing going through my frozen stash and I'm getting nervous.

At his most recent well baby check-up, the pediatrician's advice was clear- give him formula in his cereal instead of my frozen milk. In the meantime, I can continue trying to get my supply to come up. He said that if Gabe seems really hungry after I feed him, I shouldn't feel bad about supplementing him with formula. I'm not willing to supplement with a bottle of formula, at least not yet, because I know that if he doesn't stimulate my breasts, my supply will really never come up. On the cereal front, though, it sounds so reasonable. It would be so much easier to just add formula to his cereal instead of agonizing over the frozen milk and restricting Gabe's cereal consumption out of fear of wasting milk.

The problem is, I care. Even if it is ridiculous or stupid, even if I know that babies thrive on formula, even though I know that Gabe has made it almost 10 months with nothing but breastmilk, even though I know it would be so reasonable, I still care. I keep thinking that in just another 2 and a half months, he'll be moving onto cow's milk, so why don't I just try to hold on until then? But I'm making myself crazy in the meantime with the pumping and the stressing and the drinking of water.

I never thought I'd be in this position. One of my friends referred to me as a cow because I'd sit down to pump for 5 minutes and get upwards of 5 ounces per session. Turns out that everything can change at any minute, just like the rest of life, huh?

So this morning I did it. I put formula in Gabe's cereal, just an ounce, the rest breastmilk. And guess what? He survived. He didn't even notice. I feel a tiny bit sad, but a lot relieved. I love my pediatrician, and I know he's right. Parenting is all about adjusting your expectations. The adjustment has only just begun.

Like I said, though, he's totally worth it.

"Mom! Formula is good! It tastes better than feet!"

Monday, October 08, 2007

let me save you the trouble

Thankfully, Josh is liking his new job. That is a huge relief on my part, of course. He likes the people, the work is interesting, the hours are relatively good, and he feels challenged. In my opinion, though, the best part about Josh's new job is that it has a ridiculously extravagant perk. His company flies all employees and their families to Europe for a holiday party. The whole family. To Europe. For a PARTY. They pay for the flights and the hotels and the parties and the babysitting. Crazy, huh?

All of this means that Gabriel needs a passport and he needs it in time for December. We looked on the State Department's webpage and downloaded the forms and made a list of the items we need. We took him down to the neighborhood drugstore and tried to get pictures. It turns out that getting a passport picture of a 9 month old is not the easiest thing in the world. It took 3 unsuccessful tries, and we finally had to go to a different drugstore that had more experience with babies and we were finally able to get the two pictures we needed with his head centered and no shadows and without Josh's hands showing where he was holding him still. Phew.

I filled out all the information, looked up the appropriate locations and set off with Gabe to get the passport taken care of.

I arrived at 9:30am, and was told that I was too early. Passports will only be completed between 10am and 1pm. Oh, and also, both parents need to be there or I need a letter from Gabe's father authorizing me to get him a passport. I went home, Josh typed up a letter, and I went back between 10am and 1pm the next day. Oops, they forgot to mention that I need a notarized letter, not just any letter, and just so you know, they won't budge on that.

Josh doesn't have a notary in his office, so we searched the Boston post offices until we found one post office that would stay open until 6:30pm completing passports. Josh left work early so that we could meet at the doors at 6pm to give us enough time to get all the paperwork completed and just a little bit of cushion time in case things went awry.

We get there and discover that the line is snaking throughout the post office and out the door. One thing you should know about Josh is that he is a planner, so he takes this opportunity to freak out about the possibility that they might cut off the line when the clock hits 6:30pm and we'll have to start over again and wait a week because they only stay open until 6:30 on Tuesdays. I'm happy to report that they did NOT close the line, and after 45 minutes in line, they take our paperwork. Even though we have 10 weeks to go, the post office doesn't recommend we rely on the State Department to get us his passport in time. We have to pay $60 extra, $150 total, to get his passport by mid-December.

We sent off the paperwork, paid the fees, and can now say that Gabe should be able to accompany us to Europe for the party. Honestly, though, who would have thought that getting a passport for a baby would be this much trouble? So just in case you foresee yourselves traveling anytime soon with a child who doesn't have a passport, let us save you the heartache and send away from it way way way ahead of time. Like more than 3 months ahead of time. That advice is free of charge.

My consolation prize is that for the next 5 years, Gabe's sweet little 9 month old face will be his passport picture. At least some things won't change around here for a while.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

the post that is interesting only to me

Adult time is lacking around here these days. We don't have any babysitters, except for the occasional grandparent that stops by, and on our fifth wedding anniversary (isn't that wild?) our friend watched Gabe so that we could grab dinner alone. Besides that, our little sidekick is with us all the time.

So when Chatty Cricket was kind enough to invite me to join her in a quilting class, I bent over backwards to find a way to make it work. It isn't even the quilting, because up until she asked, I'd never even given quilting a second glance, but rather, the thought of having one evening every week for six whole weeks of uninterrupted "me" time. Six weeks of being able to hang out with Chatty Cricket and a couple of her friends, working on something that would require all my attention, with no other little person requiring me to make sure they don't fall over. I'm very excited.

In true type-a fashion, I've spent the last two weeks obsessing over what to quilt. Gabe already has a quilt that matches his bedding, so that was out. I figured I'd make a quilt for his next room, but deciding what he might like in another 2 years was a little too much pressure for me. Then I decided to make a throw quilt for our living room, but when I told Josh, he poo-pooed the idea. I suspect he has little faith in my quilting abilities and is trying to avoid having to keep something in the living room indefinitely that looks terrible. Isn't he sweet?

I've finally decided, though. I'm making Gabe a play quilt. While he is still little, we'll use the quilt to throw on the floor while he plays and once he gets bigger, he can wrap himself in it to read or nap or whatever he'd like to do. Plus, don't kids have to bring blankets with them to preschool for naptime? Maybe this can be the blanket he takes with him! Even better, if I totally mess up the quilt, Gabe won't know the difference.

My type-a personality took me to many websites, and many quilting shops, and many fabric stores, but thankfully, a fabric jumped out at me as the perfect choice for Gabe.


Who doesn't love monkeys! Gabe is totally a monkey! I think he'll love it!

Once I'd picked the monkeys, there were lots of coordinating fabrics to go along with them for the quilt. I need 6 different fabrics for the quilt, another background fabric, a trim fabric, and a fabric for the backside of the quilt. Choices, choices, choices...

We have monkeys, so CLEARLY, we need bananas.

Monkeys fall down a lot, so we need band-aids too!

These monkeys like to count, and hopefully Gabe will too, so we have numbers!

The monkeys apparently like to dress up and take pictures. This one is called "family album". This is Josh's and my favorite!

Dots! Who doesn't love dots!

I think this one will be the trim fabric, and I guess edging, if there is edging on the back of the quilt.

I'm still picking the fabric for the back of the quilt, but I'm thinking something with, umm, I don't know, monkeys maybe? There is a cute fabric of monkeys playing different games, so that one might work. All of these fabrics are hopefully going to come together to make the world's brightest quilt EVER.

Here's hoping that Gabe likes bright things. And monkeys. If he doesn't like monkeys? We're screwed.

Our quilting class starts tomorrow! Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

my three kids

Murray and Tango have grown accustomed to Gabe. I'd venture to say that Tango, in particular, even likes Gabe now. He will bring Gabe his bones and balls, and wait patiently for Gabe to pick them up. They play a complicated game where Gabe will hold the bone out to Tango, wait for Tango to grab it, then steal it back, then Tango takes it again, then Gabe steals it back, and so on. Both of them seem to enjoy the game quite a bit, and sometimes Tango will bring Gabe a toy, and watch Gabe expectantly wondering why Gabe doesn't participate immediately. Meanwhile, Gabe just hasn't noticed because he is engrossed in whatever he is doing. It is really cute. Really, really cute.

Murray, on the other hand, is still not Gabe's biggest fan. He will say hello to him in the morning, and will even give Gabe a couple of quick licks when he first sees him. Gabe has pulled on his fur a couple of times too many, though, and he is understandably wary of getting too close to the baby. So Murray's style is to just steer clear of Gabe most of the time.

This morning, the pooches were curled up on their bed in the hallway, and Gabe was crawling around while I brushed my teeth and straightened up the bathroom. I came out into the hallway and sat down on the floor in front of the dogs' bed, and Gabe made a bee-line straight over to me. After a couple minutes of playing, he realized that the dogs were within scooting distance and turned to say hello.

And Murray snapped at him. AT HIS FACE.

Now, I understand that the dog was on his bed. I understand that they need their own space. And I understand that maybe he was startled that Gabe came over to him while he was lying on his bed. BUT STILL. I was pissed. I grabbed him instantly and rolled him on his back while saying "NO" firmly. Then I sent him out of the room for a while because I was fuming. FUMING.

Murray wasn't anywhere near biting Gabe, and it wasn't even very close to him. Murray kind of turned his head to the side, slightly away from Gabe and then snapped at the air, almost as if he was warning him not to come closer. It didn't look like he was really trying to nip at him. It doesn't matter, though, both Tango and Murray have to understand that any biting behavior is totally, completely, absolutely unacceptable. Once Gabe is old enough to understand, I will teach him that the dogs need their personal space and that their beds are off limits, but for now, the dogs have to understand that if they don't like what the baby is doing, they need to move. Leave the room. Whatever makes them happy.

Any advice on this situation? Earlier this week I also saw Murray snap at Tango, so I'm mildly concerned that maybe he doesn't feel well or maybe something is going on with him, because generally they get along famously. I'm probably going to ask the vet about it, but I suspect this has more to do with crawling baby, annoyed dog.

Also, just to preempt any worries, Murray weighs 9 pounds and his mouth is so small he can't even get it around my finger. It is teeny tiny. Even if he actually bit Gabe, which I don't think he'd do, he really couldn't hurt him. We call him pinhead sometimes (behind his back of course, never in front of him), that is how small his mouth is.


Friday, September 28, 2007

9 months

Dear Gabriel,

I've been dreading this day for the last couple of weeks. In my mind, for some reason, 9 months seems so big. 9 months feels like you are less of a baby and more of a toddler. I suspect it has to do with the fact that today marks a turning point where you will have spent more time outside of my body than inside it. I cannot tell you how unbelievable that is to me. At least this milestone won't be marked by intense pain on my part.

It turns out that 9 months is an amazing age to be. This past month has been one of the most fun and most challenging months that we've spent together thus far. You are so busy and active and happy that I end up exhausted by the time you fall asleep, and by the time you wake up in the morning, I am dying to do it all over again.

This month you started crawling properly, with the legs and arms in synchronization. Initially, you did it slowly and methodically, and would look up at me with a smile on your face while you slowly made your way across the room. These days, you are much faster, and you slap your hands against the floor while you move, so that I can hear you coming from a different room. I miss your odd little frog crawl, though, and I'm so grateful that I have it on video so that when you leave for college, I'll be able to remember what it was like when you cleaned my floors with your stomach.

You also started standing, on EVERYTHING, this month. I thought that crawling changed my life, but standing is a whole different ball game. You stand on tables, on couches, on chairs, on pant legs, on walls, on anything that will hold you (and lots of stuff that won't). The other day you were standing up and exploring the items on top of the coffee table. I handed you a card, and you carefully took it in one hand, and then carefully held it with your other hand, and I realized that you were standing! With no support! No hands! And then ever so casually, you rested your elbow against the table and the moment was over. You didn't even notice that you'd done it.

You climb stairs unassisted. From bottom to top without pausing. You climb on top of the toys in the living room, and will climb onto chairs to get closer to the windows. The other day, I spotted you on the video monitor trying to lift your leg and climb out of your crib by using your Fisher Price Aquarium as a stepping stool. You go from sitting to kneeling to examine toys more carefully. You cruise the furniture and the coffee tables endlessly, mostly to be near the dogs. Basically, I have to watch you like a hawk. I'm grateful that despite your adventurous side, you learned how to sit down from a standing position right away, and you lower yourself onto your bottom fairly gently, so at least you're not bumping your head on the floor when you sit down suddenly.

You still love music and will dance to anything- music at the grocery store, elevator classical music, even the beat of the breast pump! You have a bit of an obsession with music class and you spend the full 45 minutes swaying from side to side and clapping along with the group. The whole class starts laughing as soon as you start dancing. You even shake the shakers along with the instructor!

One of my favorite changes this month is that you started to babble. You've been ahh-ing and ooh-ing for a while now, but this month you began chatting in earnest. You started out with "ba ba ba" and moved onto "ma ma ma" and this week in the span of three days you busted out with "ya ya ya", "da da da" and "pa pa pa". Your sweet little voice is music to my ears, and I spend hours out of the day responding to you and encouraging you to talk. I've been wondering if maybe it is a biological thing, because your little voice has got to be the sweetest sound I've ever heard. Your dad definitely agrees. He will sing the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann" to you incessantly to get you to talk back. Last night it even sounded like you were trying to sing along with him. He was so excited, I had to pry you away from him at bedtime.

This month we went to visit your Nonna and Nonno in California, which was torturous because you had to be away from your daddy for 2 whole weeks. I doubt he'll ever let us do that again, because all 3 of us were miserable apart. You adore your daddy and the feeling is mutual. One of my favorite parts of the day is seeing how your little face lights up when he walks in the door. I'll hold you up to the screen door while he is getting out of the car, and by the time he makes it up the walkway and steps, you are vibrating with excitement.

You're still a food fanatic these days, and we've moved onto finger foods, of which you definitely approve. You will focus intensely on the carrots or green beans on your high chair tray and it is difficult to get anything else in your mouth because you like feeding yourself so much. You will even use a fork if I put food on the fork for you. Somehow you know which end is the correct end, and you'll bring the food on the fork to your mouth before handing the fork back to me for a refill. We're even getting to the point where you are starting to eat some of the foods that we eat at dinnertime. At first I was so excited about this, until I realized that I'd have to share my muffin, and yogurt, and ravioli with you. I'm an only child, Gabe, I don't like to share food. It takes serious sacrifice for me to split all my goodies with you. This is additional incentive to not let you have any sugary things until you're older. I am definitely not sharing my cookies with you.

You're amazing and smiley and sweet and funny. You laugh all the time. I laugh all the time. I can't believe that this is really our life. I've never been happier. I've never felt luckier. I only hope that you stay as sweet as you get older, because then I can live with the bittersweetness of you growing up.

Everyone tells me to enjoy this because it flies by, and I'm trying. I just want to figure out how to slow it down. At least a little.

We love you bunches. Oodles. Too much for words.

[Pictures to follow, once my computer is de-coffee-ed. What? It's a word!]

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

his nonna is so proud

We hit a serious milestone in our family last night.

We're talking serious, people.

Gabe had his first gnocchi last night.

We're so proud.

Monday, September 24, 2007

my college sophomore

Gabe and I got back from California almost two weeks ago, and we're still in the depths of sleep hell. Gabe seems to have a slight problem with time changes and new homes and switching from cribs to pack and plays and back to cribs again. I don't know what his problem is, because I'm not having any problems sleeping. I mean, as long as you don't count the 8 month old screeching from his crib as a problem.

Before we left for California, he was doing pretty well. We were sleeping from 9pm until about 7 or 8am, when he would wake up to eat, and go straight back to sleep until 11am. 11am! 14 hours of sleep! Sure, he woke up for those 15 minutes at 7 or 8 am, but this was a small price to pay for 14 hours of sweet, non-screeching sleep.

Then we went to California, and it all went to hell in a handbasket, or whatever that saying is. He was getting up at midnight, and 2am, and 4am, and then up for the day at 7am. At each of these wake-up times he was desperate for milk, even though he'd eaten just 2 hours beforehand, and he didn't seem to understand that since he hadn't been drinking milk at 2am for the last 2 months, my boobs were no longer producing milk for the 2am shift. So there was a lot of screeching.

My mom would wander out of her room at 4am during these fits to offer helpful suggestions like, "Maybe he just wants to play for a while?"

I was desperate for him to sleep again. It felt as if now that I'd gotten a taste of life without sleep deprivation, I couldn't possibly go back. We were in California for 2 weeks, and two days before we left, Gabe finally started sleeping through the night again. 12 glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep. And then, of course, we left.

I tried to talk to Gabe about the fact that this was HIS ROOM, HIS BED, HIS SHEETS, so he didn't need to wake up 8 times a night. Apparently he missed the memo. The other night, between 12:30 and 2:30 am, I went into his room to soothe him no less than 15 times. I'd rock him for a minute, put him down, tiptoe out of the room, and 5 minutes later he'd start screaming. To make matters worse, he picked up a cold on the plane, AND he is getting 4 teeth at the same time.

It's been a long couple of weeks, that's for sure.

Having parents that live in California is difficult on so many levels, and this is just one of them. I want to go visit my parents and Josh's parents as often as possible, and I'm desperate for Gabe to know his grandparents, but this traveling is kicking my ass. Since Gabe was born, he's been to California 4 times and Florida once. 5 trips in 8 months! Plus, it seems like he is having a harder time adjusting as he gets older. When he was 5 months old, it took him a day to get back into his regular routine. This time, it's been almost 2 weeks and counting.

I'm tired, my friends, very very tired. Keep your fingers crossed that we'll return to our regularly scheduled baby who sleeps like a teenager.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

the safety pin is apparently out of style

I had a little bit of a breakdown last night when I finally faced my closet and tried to figure out what I would wear to temple today for Yom Kippur services. It wasn't pretty.

You see, I'm close to my pre-pregnancy weight. About 4 pounds away. 4 pounds SEEMS like nothing. It seems so doable. So reasonable. So freaking close. Still, though, those 4 pounds are the difference between fitting into all of my pretty clothes, and not being able to zip the backs of my skirts up.

Don't get me wrong, I have been feeling pretty good about myself these days. I don't feel frumpy all the time anymore, I've been phasing out of the "uniform" I purchased for the last few months. When I wear the pants I've been wearing over the summer, I find myself hitching up the waistline throughout the afternoon because they are (mercifully) loose on me. I even fit into some of my pre-pregnancy pants, a select few, but still, it's something.

Last night, though, I felt awful as the pile on the bed of skirts and dresses that didn't fit grew and grew and grew. I worked at a law firm up until December, and I had a lot of work clothes. Work clothes that I took care of, and dry cleaned dutifully, and picked out carefully. I don't even want to wear these outfits often, because spit up doesn't look good on the cream skirt suit, but I would like to wear them occasionally.

I feel somewhat silly even writing this post, because the weight gain has totally been worth it. I'd do it over a million times to have had Gabe, and I can't complain because I haven't been cutting out anything, and I've certainly been indulging myself in many a frappuccino and cookie and buffalo wing. I think it's time, though. I'm going to have to get off my butt and get rid of these last 4 pounds, and hopefully a little more than that.

My question is, what should I do? Should I go all-out and join a gym? Or should I start by taking walks with Gabe? Should I stop eating junk? Count calories? What has worked for you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

it's all for you

Gabe is really motoring around these days. Up until last week, he had this elaborate frog crawl worked out. He basically looked like he was doing the breast stroke on land. He'd lift himself up onto all fours, belly off the ground, and then while bending his legs outward, would launch himself forward and land (hard) on his chest and belly. Somehow, he'd always perfectly time it so that he'd have an extra second to keep his hands under his chest and lift his head up, so that he didn't smash his face into the floor. It was scary to watch because you were convinced that at any moment his chin would slam into the ground and we'd be taking a trip to the emergency room, but strangely effective. He got pretty fast and could make it across the living room, through the front hall, across the dining room and into the kitchen, in the time it took me to run to the bathroom. Trust me, he was quick.

We spent the last couple of weeks with his grandparents in California, though, and his grandparents were oddly obsessed with eliminating his unusual crawling behavior. My mother would walk above him, hunched over, holding him up under his chest and trying to get him to crawl like a traditional baby. She'd also crawl alongside him, DEMONSTRATING, and then crawl behind him forcing his little knees to stay in the proper line of motion. This is a woman who hasn't done a lick of exercise in a couple of decades, so for her to be crawling on hands and knees beside Gabriel, meant true dedication. Her grandson would crawl appropriately, damn it, if it was the last thing she did.

I ignored her the first week, because it seemed hopeless to me. Josh and I rather love his unique crawl, and he'd been crawling like that for a month and a half, and the pediatrician assured me that this was his form of crawling, one amongst maybe 25 accepted forms of crawling. Sadly, though, one day last week, my mom was at work while Gabe and I played around at their house, and he began imitating her proper crawling motions as he chased after a ball I'd thrown. He still reverted to his frog moves when he was in a hurry, but as the days pass, he crawls less and less like the little frog we've come to love, and more and more like a real baby. This morning, I didn't even see the frog crawl at all. I'm the tiniest bit sad about it, to tell you the truth.

Even though he's becoming more proficient in the crawling department, he is definitely still a reckless little bugger. He'll launch himself off of the couch or try to throw himself out of our arms, often with no warning. The other day, I ran into the office with my morning coffee to log onto the Internet, leaving Gabe on the living room floor. It took me 3 or 4 minutes to turn the computer on, sync up with our wireless network and bring up my email. Out of the corner of my eye I saw movement, and turned just in time to see Gabe crawling head first down the step between the living room and the office. I pushed off of the chair to grab him before he flipped himself over. I was able to grab his arms and stop him from his slow motion tumble, and behind me I heard the sound of liquid hitting the floor. My stomach clenched as I made the connection of what had just happened behind me. I sat Gabe up and turned to see a full cup of coffee pouring out of the laptop's keyboard and off of the desk onto the floor. A full, large, hot mug of coffee. As I watched, the laptop made a squeal and a hiss before shutting down.

I lifted the laptop up as coffee poured out of the keyboard, and put it down onto a towel upside down to let the liquid drain out. I called Dell so that I could have my nervous breakdown with a professional on the phone, and they talked me through disconnecting the hard drive and all of the removable pieces, and drying it off as best I could.

I was upset about the computer, but what was really pushing me over the edge was the thought that ALL of Gabe's pictures are on that computer. And of course, OF COURSE, I've only backed it up through April. I know, I'm an idiot. The computer is off in the land of technical assistance right now, and the verdict is out on whether it can be repaired. The hard drive is safe and sound with me, and once we get the computer back, I'll be able to connect the hard drive back into the rest of the computer and we'll see whether the computer will live to see another day.

I'm able to sleep these days, because at least I was able to pull the pictures off of the hard drive and back them up. Thank goodness. I couldn't even imagine the alternative, so I walked around in denial for a few days until we were able to confirm that the pictures hadn't been fried.

I do these things as a reminder to all of you to BACK UP YOUR COMPUTERS. Probably you all already do that, because you're smarter than I am, but I like to think of myself as generous like that. I do stupid things so that you don't have to. You can thank me later.

rockin' the rykas

If you're anything like me and looking to lose a couple (ahem, FIVE) extra pounds, check out my new review of rykä sneakers. Some new sneakers might just give you that extra motivation to hit the exercise circuit.

Plus, rykä and the Parent Bloggers are giving away free sneakers and apparel!!! Check it out!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

danger, danger, everywhere

When I was pregnant, I wandered around with long lists of everything that needed to get done before the baby arrived. There were purchases to be made, and people to contact, and electrical outlets to baby proof, and rooms to paint. At the time, people kept insisting that I'd have LOADS of time to get everything done after the baby was born. I'd have so much free time that I wouldn't know what to do with, and in that free time, I'd totally want to traipse off to furniture shops and crawl around on my hands and knees and screw in new non-electrocuting outlets. Apparently, those people's experiences with a baby was really different from my experience with a baby, because I didn't have much in the way of free time. Still don't, actually. Fortunately, I didn't listen to them, for the most part, and I insisted on getting Gabe's bedroom ready and we bought the electrical outlets and Josh changed them, and I bought cushioned covers for the coffee tables and toys for when he got a bit older.

Unfortunately, I did listen to those people a little bit, so instead of following my gut and picking up what I thought I might need in one visit to super baby store, I figured that I'd have time later. But what no one tells you, is that one day you wake up and your completely non-mobile baby is chasing the dogs around the room. The next day, that same baby notices the DVD player and the VCR and shoves his fingers inside of them over and over and OVER. The day after that, in the time it takes you to pee, he is 3 rooms across the house and playing with the dogs' food and water. It's all shocking and fabulous, and on the one hand, you are terribly proud, and on the other, you think "holy shit! What happened to my baby?"

Now it has been a week, and I find myself wondering how you keep your babies safe. How do you keep them alive? How do you make sure they don't pitch face first into the edge of the steps, or down the basement stairs, or electrocuted because they are chewing on the cords of the breast pump?

I watch Gabe like a hawk all day long. I rarely leave him alone, except maybe to jet to the bathroom for 30 seconds or less, or pour myself a cup of coffee while sprinting through the kitchen, but I swear that he finds trouble somehow. The other day he smacked his eye against the edge of the wall while crawling around, then today he was crawling around the kitchen and pushed on the door to the basement that was closed but apparently not fully latched and in that instant I imagined him tumbling down the stairs to the basement (even though I grabbed him before he was able to get close to the edge), then today at the park he was trying to poke himself in the eye with a stick, and I can keep going, but I'm scaring myself.

So seriously, how do you keep them safe? How obsessive do you have to be? I'm off to super baby store tomorrow to pick up a gate for the stairs and some covers for the DVD player and VCR because I really can't stand to fight this battle 17 times an hour, but how much more should I do? Am I supposed to walk around the house every morning and do a safety check? Will that become second nature?

The thing is, I've never known love like this before, and I'll do whatever it takes to protect this little person. Anything.

If you have a minute, stop by and visit Chatty Cricket. She could use a hug today.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Saturday was the first time I've left Gabe for longer than 3 hours. Even more traumatic, this was the first time I've ever left him with someone other than Josh, because when I left for those 3 hours, Josh was with Gabe. Josh had a work-related outing to Six Flags New England, and my inlaws agreed to watch Gabe for the day. We drove out to the Berkshires on Friday, settled Gabe in with the inlaws, and Saturday morning went to Six Flags to meet Josh's co-workers.

My dreams on Friday night were peppered with these terrifying story lines where I'd be forced to abandon Gabe under these elaborately unrealistic scenarios, and I woke up repeatedly in a cold sweat. When the alarm finally went off I wondered briefly why my night had been filled with those nightmares, and then, DUH, it was rather clear.

Of course, in preparation for my first time away from Gabe, he proceeded to get his first fever ever, his first accompanying cough ever, he has been adamantly refusing bottles, and he has his first case of separation anxiety. In Spanish, we call it "mamitis", otherwise known as "utter refusal to be satisfied with anyone other than mama". It's been a big ol' party around here.

Gabe was fine, obviously. He woke up briefly at 8:45am, just in time for me to feed him before walking out the door. I put him back down to bed right after feeding him, thinking that perhaps he'd play quietly for a bit before getting up for the day, but my inlaws told me that he slept until 11:00am! He ate cereal for them, something he'd been turning down from me, and took most of a bottle. He showed off all his little tricks- crawling, babbling, laughing and dancing. He took his regular naps, ate again, played again, took another bottle from them. In short, he was a total angel.

Let's be honest, though, I was kind of a mess. Theoretically, I'd been somewhat looking forward to our first day away. I normally like roller coasters, and the thought of being responsible for nothing besides consuming loads of fried foods seemed like fun. Once the day approached, however, I became far less enthused. It seemed like an awfully long time to be away from Gabe, especially with people I wasn't even friends with, and I was nervous about Gabe being with anyone other than the two of us. My inlaws are fantastic, but still, they're not Josh or me.

Saturday was in the 90s and humid, and it turns out that I may be getting old for roller coasters. After 3 rides, I was too sick to go on anything else, so I spent the rest of the afternoon in a bit of a funk, missing my baby and counting down the hours until we could go home. I also brought my friend, the breast pump, along with us to the park, so I spent a chunk of the afternoon in a hot car pumping away.

I did enjoy the pizza and fries and chicken fingers and soda, and I enjoyed spending time alone with Josh. It's been a while since we were unaccompanied by our favorite side kick. We talked about him most of the time, but we also talked about trying to get away for dinner or a movie together one of these times when we can take advantage of the grandparents as babysitters. I think it'll be a while before we do this again, though. I missed Gabe too much to be away from him again any time soon.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

maybe 29 just isn't a lucky number...

Gabe rang in my 29th birthday by getting his first fever. His first cold whatsoever, really, and I guess I should thank my lucky stars that it didn't happen until 7 months, but when you are in the thick of it, it is hard to think about the positives.

I should have known that something was up because we spent all of Thursday and Friday night awake and screaming (Gabriel, that is, not me, although I wanted to). This should have clued me in, because Gabe is a lot of things (stubborn, strong-willed, cute as a button), but he isn't a screamer. Thursday and Friday night were, without a doubt, the worst nights we've had so far in the time since Gabe was born. Even when he was a newborn, he might fuss or yell with displeasure, but he never screamed uncontrollably, and I never had trouble settling him down. Thursday and Friday night gave me a dose of serious empathy for anyone whose baby is a screamer. It is really, really, really hard to maintain your sanity in the wee hours of the morning when you just can't make your baby happy. I found myself talking sweetly to Gabe in his room, while trying to settle him back into his crib. Then I'd come back to my room and hear the screams starting up again on the monitor, and I'd start cursing into my pillow.

I tried everything. We walked, we rocked, we attempted sleep in my bed, we attempted sleep in the guest room bed, we attempted sleep in a chair, we sang, we even tried Tylenol thinking that perhaps it was the teeth, but nothing worked. I was up and pacing for most of the night, trying anything to make him happy. During the day he seemed okay, but just a tad out of sorts. Nothing I could put my finger on, so I went back and forth wondering if maybe all of it was behavioral. Could my baby become spoiled just like that? Could his personality change overnight?

Isn't it funny how when you are going through a rough phase you are so quick to assume that this is it FOREVER and your life is destined to be this hard for eternity?

Anyway, we had big plans to have my 29th birthday celebration in this seaside town in Massachusetts called Rockport, and I had requested lobsters for lunch or dinner. So, of course, we woke up on the big day with a fever. Nothing terribly high, but definitely a fever, and a runny nose. Things rapidly went downhill from there. At it's worst point, Gabe had a fever of 104.7, and I was ready to toss him in the car and drive to the emergency room, and only the fear of having to undergo painful tests kept me from doing it. I just didn't know what was normal and what wasn't, and I didn't know how high a fever could go and what might happen.

We ended up giving him a lukewarm bath for 20 minutes, dosing him with Tylenol, and the fever started receding right after that, thankfully. By that time, I'd spoken with the pediatrician on call, and she said that as long as Gabe acted normal (which he did), then we didn't need to worry. Fever was just a symptom, not dangerous in and of itself.

It was a long day, and a longer night, and on Monday morning I dragged him into the pediatrician's office, confident that he must have an ear infection or teeth or SOMETHING, for the love of all things. During our 15 minute visit, though, Gabe was charming and sweet and smiley and hugged the doctor and cooed, and generally appeared completely and utterly well, to the point that the pediatrician asked me several times whether I was sure he'd had a fever that high, and where did I take his temperature (rectally, unfortunately), and was I sure the thermometer worked, and was I sure I'd done it correctly?

Suffice to say, that apparently this was a vicious 24 hour bug, and Gabe has shown no ill-effects since Sunday night. He has been a little cranky, but without a fever and generally in good spirits, except for his absolute refusal of any form of food that doesn't have to do with the breast. No solids, no bottles, no nothing. Just the boob. All the time.

This would be fine, except that over the last few months we've settled into a routine where I pump enough milk for one bottle a day and Josh feeds him that bottle at bedtime so that I can occasionally (read, very seldomly) go to a movie or to run errands, or go to the bathroom uninterrupted at bedtime. In order to get that bottle, though, I will pump over a couple of sessions the night before, maybe one at 7pm and one at 10pm, or something like that. That also means that my boobs don't make quite the quantity of milk that he wants to drink at bedtime in a single feeding. That also also means that we are kind of screwed.

He feeds and then I figure that he is still hungry because he refuses to go to bed, and I wait another hour to give my breasts a chance to make more milk and then he feeds again and is exhausted enough that he finally falls asleep, but he's been waking up again at 4am (something he hasn't done in at least 2 months) to eat because he isn't getting enough before bed to make it through the night. Needless to say, he is lucky that he is so cute and that I love him so much because he is skating on thin ice here, and I'm exhausted.

But it's just a phase, right? He isn't going to refuse to eat anything but the boob until he is 17 and leaving for college, right? I had to turn down my first invitation this month to go to the movies with my girlfriend because Gabe wouldn't take a bottle tonight! 2 hours of mindless, lovely, non-demanding movies, with popcorn and soda and maybe even candy. It is a tragedy, really.

I did get an excellent birthday present this year, a little early. On Wednesday morning, I realized that I was out of things to wear. My uniform these days consists of 4 pairs of capri pants that I purchased in 4 colors, basically the only pants that fit, plus white t-shirts that I rotate through, also the only tops that fit. But on Wednesday, I was out of luck because somehow I'd forgotten to wash any of the pieces of the uniform. On dumb luck, I figured that I'd try something pre-pregnancy to see if I could squeeze into it and..... drumroll please.... I did! My pre-pregnancy jeans! And not even my fat jeans! My regular ones! I ended up fastening them with a safety pin, though, because I figured that after lunch I might want to cry if I wore them buttoned, but WHO CARES! Pre-pregnancy jeans! On my post-pregnancy body!

Happy birthday to me, indeed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

summer perfected

Last night Josh's cousin was playing in a high school baseball game, so I cooked us a quick dinner, packed up all of Gabriel's bedtime paraphernalia, and we all headed over to the baseball field.

The weather was perfect, a cool summer evening, warm enough for shorts and sandals, but not hot at all. We spread out a blanket on the grass and sat watching the game, admiring our sweet baby asleep in his stroller and recalling high school memories. Josh's cousin just graduated, and we traded stories back and forth about that magical summer between high school and college, where your plans were laid out for you, and for once you didn't worry about resumes or applications or grades, and there was total freedom.

I worked at a movie theater that summer after graduation, and was allowed to bring friends to see any movie at any theater in my district. That was the summer of lounging around all day, and then packing up picnic dinners and driving a packed car to the drive-in movie theater every weekend. I knew I'd be moving to Boston come September, and there was this amazing feeling hanging over me of freedom and limitless potential and excitement. So very much excitement. When I see Josh's cousin these days, he has that glint in his eye.

The game ended and as we were driving home, we passed an old-fashioned ice cream parlor packed to the gills with people enjoying the perfect summer night. With just a glance at each other, Josh did a u-turn and we threw caution to the wind. So what if it was the baby's bedtime? So what if Josh had to work in the morning? I had my first sundae in years. YEARS. Complete with sliced bananas, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. Josh had a sinfully rich sundae with malt balls, malt powder, french vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and a cherry. Gabe had peas with brown rice, but thankfully, he doesn't know the difference.

I bounced Gabe on my knee as Josh and I chatted over our ice creams, and I couldn't help but wonder how we got so lucky. We were close to our home, and after a quick change of clothes and diaper, Gabe was settled into bed for the night, just an hour after his regular bedtime. Of course, as retribution for a late bedtime, he woke up in the wee hours of the morning looking for an early breakfast and some snuggles. Still, I think last night will be one of my favorite nights of this summer, sleep or no sleep.

I definitely hope it isn't my last sundae of the summer.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

busy busy bees

Every day I glance longingly at the computer, and then I glance down at my scooting-around-the-room baby, and I sit on the floor with him instead of blogging. And then you know how it is, you feel embarrassed because you haven't written, so you don't write, and then you feel even more guilty and embarrassed, so you still don't write, and then it's been ages and you can't even remember what it was like to write regularly, and why did people read what you wrote anyway? But the truth is that I love looking back on my past posts and recalling what my life was like during that period of time. Plus, I love hearing from all of you. Therefore, I'd better find a way to get back into the swing of things.

The truth is, I am loving my life so much these days, it is hard to take the time to sit down and write about it.

Gabe is fabulous, wonderful, glorious, and so much fun. He is smiling and laughing and trying to crawl. He gets up on all fours, rocks back and forth, and then launches himself in the direction of whatever he'd like to reach. It is all cute, of course, until I turn around to find him chewing on the power strip. Or when I was chatting with a friend at lunch and he'd swallowed half of a paper napkin, and then spent the next hour spitting up chewed up chunks of napkin (I felt like a fabulous mother that day, for sure). His favorite target is the dogs, of course. He adores those darn dogs. He saves up his best smiles for them, and waits anxiously every morning until he hears the click clack of their little nails, and then he busts into this absolutely scrumptious grin and bounces in place. He still dances all the time, but now he occasionally waves bye-bye and "gives us five" too. The day before yesterday, he learned how to close a book, and now he'd much prefer to close the book every time I turn the page than read the actual pages. He sleeps through the night most of the time (except last night, of course), and waking up to that sweet smile is the best wake up I've ever had.

I couldn't be prouder, honestly. I also couldn't possibly love him more. Until tomorrow. Somehow, tomorrow I always love him more.

Things have been crazy around here, as usual. My mom was visiting for the last month, and we went to Montreal and Quebec City for 5 days a few weeks ago. Then Josh turned 30 and I threw him a surprise birthday party, which is surprisingly difficult to coordinate with a 6 month old in the house and a nosy husband. Then Josh's aunt offered us her beach house for a weekend, so we were away for that, then we went to the Berkshires to visit my inlaws for a weekend, and now we're back to regular chaotic life.

I have loads of pictures to share with you. Wait until you get a load of these thighs (Gabe's, not mine). He is a whopping 19+ pounds of delicious rolls and dimples. I keep hoping that the crawling won't thin them out, because I really do enjoy munching on them.

Friday, June 29, 2007

new product review up, and NEW BLOG!

If you're a closet Internet doctor, like me, and love to Google your different symptoms, I think you might enjoy my new post about The 24-Hour Pharmacist.

Also, if you could use a $50 gift card from CVS, leave a comment on the Parent Bloggers site on The 24-Hour Pharmacist post for a chance to win.

Let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

someone should make me president of our neighborhood watch

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way to a friend's house and discovered that my car had been "broken" into. I say "broken" with a bit of sarcasm, because it turns out that Josh left my car doors unlocked. I walked into the car to discover the driver's door open, all the compartments in the car hanging wide open, all the bags thrown around, and $20 missing from my visor. The thing is, my sunglasses were still there, none of the cds were touched, and strangest of all, the thieves hadn't touched my stroller (which was in the back of the car). I called Josh to make sure that he hadn't tossed my car for some odd reason and then to get his advice on what I should do.

It seemed so silly to call the police for a missing $20, plus I assumed that the thief or thieves were likely teenagers who got lucky with an unlocked car. Josh agreed, so I cleaned up the car, made sure nothing else was missing and then went about my merry way.

A few days later, I heard through the neighborhood grapevine that my car was one of many, many cars in the neighborhood that was robbed with the same details. Unlocked car in an unlit driveway, items missing. I seemed to be the luckiest of the group, because some people reported laptops, wallets, navigation systems, cell phones, and briefcases missing. I also felt rather guilty about the fact that I hadn't reported the robbery to the police since these were clearly patterned crimes, but by now it had been over a week and it seemed silly to call then.

Fast forward to last night, I'm sleeping in my bed, around 2am. I suddenly bolt upright in bed, wide awake, because I realize the car is unlocked again. So I did the logical thing, which was to get out of bed, go downstairs, get the car keys, and walk outside, in my nightgown, at 2am, to see if the car was actually unlocked and whether it had been broken into already. Why didn't I just lock the car from inside and check in the morning? It made total sense to me that I needed to know right then if someone had broken in, so that we could call the police at 2 in the morning. Let's chalk this up to lack of sleep, okay?

Anyway, I open the front door and walk outside, in my nightgown, and hear this humming sound. I didn't recognize the noise, but figured that it must be a neighbor's air conditioner that I'd never noticed before. I got to the end of my driveway before I realized that the humming sound came from a black car parked directly in front of my house. A parked car with the engine running. And a GUY sitting inside the car.

Now, at this point, most of you would have gone back inside, right? You wouldn't just continue on to your car and check it, taking your sweet time before going back inside, would you? Especially not with a strange man sitting in front of your house in a suspicious car with the engine running, no?

Guess which one I did?

I finally go back inside, lock the door, go back to bed and realize that I should probably mention all this to Josh. I wake him up, and we both crouch in front of the window, spying on the guy and discussing what we should do. We finally decide to call the police. I then proceed to turn all the lights in the house on to try and find the phone book to locate the non-emergency number for the police, because hey, I'm trying to be discrete. I can't find it, so we call 911 and I give all the details to the emergency operator.

There is a whole flurry of activity over the phone- they are asking me for a description of the guy, I hear the radio going crazy, another officer reports that he is right around the corner, we hear a car racing down the street to our driveway, and at this point, I have visions of being able to proudly recount to all my neighbors how I single-handedly caught the car robbers with nothing but my nightgown for protection. And then the policeman comes back on the line to let me know that the car is an undercover officer in an unmarked car. Which makes sense, because I guess if you were a robber, you would likely leave once you saw the resident awake at her house with the lights blazing and her husband glaring at you out of the bedroom window.

All of this to say that I called the cops on the cops. I am such an asset to my neighborhood, obviously. Our email group has been making suggestions left and right about how we can fight back against these robberies, like calling the police and the mayor and putting up fliers. My suggestion? We could actually start LOCKING OUR CARS, since all of the cars have been left unlocked with valuables inside. Shocking concept, I know.

Things are exciting in my sleepy suburb these days. I can hardly stand it.