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.