Wednesday, October 28, 2009

boys boys boys

A friend invited me to a talk in her town about the "art of raising boys" (more or less). It was interesting, to say the least. The speaker covered some of the topics I'd heard before, such as the higher rate of psychiatric diagnoses in boys, especially things like autism or ADHD. He also covered what he viewed as the causes- larger classrooms, less outdoor time, more time expected of boys to sit still, overmedicalization of childhood, etc., in addition to what we can do to ease the stress and strain on our sons.

It was a timely talk for me, because I've been in preschool interviewing hell. The town to which we are moving has a much more competitive preschool process (can you see me cringing as I write that?), and we are wayyyy behind on the ball for next year. We are so far behind, most of the places I have called already have their classes full for 2010-2011, and usually have several people on the waiting lists.

I have found myself swiftly and surely falling into the anxiety trap over this whole preschool situation, and I'm stressing about finding a school that is good for Gabe, that doesn't cost a fortune (the norm is around $7,000/year-ouch), and that will even consider us for next year since they already have so many applicants. There are many schools in the area, so that is the good news, but the problem is the ideology is all over the place. Play-based vs. more disciplined, parent involvement vs. not, lots of outdoor play vs. not, religious vs. secular.

I heard from one preschool director that many of the mothers in the town apply to several preschools at once, wait to hear if they got in to their top choice, and when January or March comes around, release tons of spots at other schools so people will get in off of the waiting list, but who knows how many, and the thought of letting this go until March gives me hives. I just want to know Gabe is going to get into one school, and then when March comes around I'll do a little dance if we have options.

The preschool I visited today requires both parents to attend without kids, so we hired a babysitter, Josh took the morning off from work, and we both attended. Can you even believe this? It is like college! Anyway, it was gorgeous. Beautiful gardens for the kids, amazingly large spacious classrooms, high teacher ratio, great toys and activities and philosophy. Except... the director went on and on about how they don't say "no" or "don't". The teachers and staff try not to feature it in their vocabulary, so everything is an "I prefer if you did..." or "how about..." or "let's try..." rather than clearly telling them not to do something or other.

Umm, I'm not sure that will work for my kid. Gabe is lovely and sweet and compliant, sometimes, but he is also busy and active and a little nutty. He loves to run, and he loves to make his friends laugh, and that can be a dangerous combination. When he gets in one of his moods, it can be difficult to rein him in. I also feel that when he is in the midst of some unwanted behavior, my best bet is to simply remove him from the situation for a while, rather than try to talk to him about it right then and there. He'll look at me if I ask him to, he'll appear to be listening to the words coming out of my mouth, he'll even give me a sing-songy "ooooookay", but two seconds later he's doing it all over again. Frustrating, to say the least.

Tonight's talk made it clear that Gabe's behavior is typical. I spoke to the speaker after the talk and he rolled his eyes when I told him my dilemma, and agreed my best bet would be to continue to discipline Gabe in the way I thought best. He said that in his experience, all the talking didn't really work with most boys, because it simply isn't the way they learn. Boys do best with clear boundaries and expectations. Most of that unwanted behavior, they just outgrow.

I felt better, a little less stressed after hearing the whole talk, and I will definitely try a little less "no" and a little more positivity, but at the same time I won't feel badly about having to give a strong "NO" when Gabe shoves his sister out of the way or chases the dogs. He's an amazing little lunatic, and I need all the help I can get. I can't believe these are only the toddler years! Someone send me a drink when he turns 13.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

life as we know it is OVER

Josie started walking.

And by 'walking', I mean, flinging herself in the general direction of things with absolutely no balance whatsoever. I am not exaggerating on the no balance thing, her desire GREATLY outweighs her skill in the walking department.

The poor little thing has bruises all over her legs and rib cage and arms and forehead from falling headfirst into everything, but she managed to take 1 step on Friday, two on Sunday, and three steps today. Enough to get her between the coffee table and the couch, or from the dining room table to... splat... the floor.

The attempted walking generated tons of excitement over here, although Gabe is not understanding how to help her along, and he ends up pushing her or tripping her a lot, which with her limited skill is pretty dangerous.

2.5 weeks to go until we move, and I'm just praying she doesn't figure out how to climb stairs too because we dismantled all the baby gates! Someone needs to explain to these kiddos that they are supposed to be making my life EASIER, not crazier.

Monday, October 26, 2009

half-priced halloweenlover

Have I told you about my love for Craigslist? I think I might actually be addicted. I have had the best luck on Craigslist, and because of that, I refuse to buy anything without giving myself the chance to find it first on Craigslist (and Ebay, but I like Craigslist more).

When I wanted to attempt some basic sewing, I bought a used sewing machine for $30 on Craigslist and have used it for the last 5 years to make window seats and pillows and curtains and even two quilts. It started to break down over the last couple of weeks, but I think I've gotten my $30 worth.

When I needed to clear out the guest room furniture in preparation for Gabe's big move, I sold all our furniture in one weekend for exactly the prices I was asking.

When I needed furniture for Gabe's new room, I knew which furniture I coveted and which furniture I could actually afford. We shopped around endlessly, and I'd finally resigned myself that in order to get something decent, we were going to need to buy unfinished furniture and I'd try to paint or finish it sometime during my pregnancy. At the same time, I kept an eye on Craigslist in the hopes that something would turn up. It did! I ended up finding this exact bunk bed set, in the color I wanted, in almost perfect shape.

The family had owned it for 2 years (they purchased it for $1,199 + $150 delivery fee + tax) and still had all of the paperwork, but were moving and buying their kids new furniture (picture borrowed from PBKids).

They also had this dresser, colors perfectly matched, that just happened to fit Gabe's room perfectly (they purchased it for $799 + $150 delivery fee).

I bought both the bunk beds and the dresser for $650, and they dismantled it for me and loaded up the truck I'd borrowed from my inlaws, and even threw in a repair kit and a wood staining pen they'd purchased for the furniture). 2 year old furniture! Original price more than $2400 (after tax and delivery), and I paid $650! Granted, still a ton of money, but not compared to what it cost in the stores. Craziness!

Then, of course, I needed bedding and a rug for Gabe's new room. I needed a large rug and all of his sheets and comforter and quilt, and everything I liked kept adding up to several hundred dollars, so I checked Craigslist (and Ebay) and between the two of them, ended up putting together this adorable bedroom set for about $300 after purchasing a quilt, a Euro size quilted sham, twin flannel sheets, a down alternative blanket, and 8x10 rug- all brand new in their original packaging! If' I'd purchased all of these from the stores, it would definitely have been more than $1000. More craziness!

Since then, I sold our bassinet and bought a larger one since Gabe outgrew his bassinet before we were ready to move him from our bedroom. I sold our old bassinet in a few days, and picked up a sturdier one for Josie, all on Craigslist. I sold old bedding on Craigslist and old furniture we had lying around our basement.

I really want to try to make my own baby food for Josie, but I was overwhelmed with the process when I tried it with Gabe. I found this little gem on Craigslist, brand new in the packaging, for $80 instead of the original $149.99 + tax. It was a splurge, but a splurge that cost half the price of the splurge I really wanted!

I was in a mood for a new diaper bag, but didn't want to spend any real money, so I found this bag used and purchased it for $15. The only thing that was wrong with it was a few smudges and the zipper pull was broken off. I called Bugaboo to ask whether I could purchase a new zipper pull from them, and they asked for all my info and said they would get back to me. 4 days later, a BRAND NEW diaper bag showed up on my door step! And all I paid was $15! Even more craziness!

Ok actually, this is looking like a lot of money, despite the cheaper prices, but I swear this is over a few years, not all at once.

With all of the new house excitement, there are TONS of things we are going to need for the new house, like rugs and appliances and curtains and a couch, and I'll definitely be checking Craigslist for deals.

Honestly, it is getting a little ridiculous. I may never pay full price for anything ever again!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

jinx jinx jinx

Our luck may finally be turning around.

Our buyers got confirmation that they have a mortgage, a real concern these days because so many people are being turned down by the mortgage companies. There are so many steps these days, including very difficult appraisals, very high down payment requirements, and very high income demands. Thankfully, they got their mortgage and we are set for the sale of our house.

And (drum roll please)... we found a house! Just when I was scraping the bottom of the barrel morale-wise, a house came back on the market that had been under agreement. It was way out of our price range, but I've been desperate, so we asked for a showing anyway. I was in the house for about 3 minutes before I realized that this was it- this was our house, so I called Josh frantically and tried to convince him to let me make an offer without him seeing it. Understandably, he was a little nervous, but he did agree to rush home early from work and meet me there. 3 minutes into his own tour, he turned to me and asked, "Why didn't you make an offer this morning?"

Of course, as these things always seem to go, by the time we'd put together an offer just a few minutes later, the owners had received another offer. The other offer was for more money, but we were offering better terms (dates, mortgage, etc). After some haggling back and forth, they went with our offer! Since then, things have been flying smoothly along. The inspection was great, the seller is actually an estate so they've been very flexible, and we are set to close on the same day we are selling our current house.

All of this means- we're really moving! For real! I need to start packing! Like yesterday! We have less than a month to go, and I am only now realizing this is actually going to happen. I love the house, and although the particular town wasn't my first choice (more on that later), I'm sure I will come to love it. I had my heart set on staying in our current town, but this town is close by, the schools are excellent, the neighborhood is lovely and very family friendly. I'm confident it will work out.

Now, does anyone want to come over and help pack? I can provide the cookies and candy corn.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

the good, the bad, and the WTF

Oh dear, where should I even start.

We left off last talking about how overwhelmed I was feeling because of the kids and the dog and the house. Little did I know, that was nothing compared to what has been going on the last 2 weeks. I'm starting to wonder what I might have done to piss someone off.

Exhibit A:
Josie had her regular 9 month checkup that same day (which by the way, how can she be 9 months old?), and she had a regular blood draw to check her blood count and do a lead test. And guess what? She tested with an elevated level of lead in her blood.

We rushed her to the hospital to have a repeat draw, this time a real one in her vein. The test itself was stressful enough, honestly. And guess what? It really was elevated! No false positive for us!

So we proceeded to rush Gabe to the hospital to have his blood checked for lead too, since it would stand to reason that if one child was positive the other would be too. While I was out of the house, my mother in law was staying at home with Josie. While she was at home with Josie, she answered the phone, spoke to my real estate broker and told her Josie's blood tested positive for lead.

Wait. Did you read that correctly? She told my REAL ESTATE BROKER my daughter tested positive for LEAD. Are you sensing a problem here?

I'm going to cut the story short here, because I cannot possibly rehash the nightmare that has been my life for the past week. A nightmare that included me hysterically sobbing on the phone several times, screaming matches with my broker, multiple attorneys, threats from my broker's firm against me about disclosing the information to our buyers, and finally a written disclosure we drafted (with the help of an attorney) and sent over to the buyers on Saturday.

And then we waited for a response. It never came, and Tuesday was the final date for our buyers to get their commitment from the bank (i.e. a mortgage), and they did. And that was that. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't even think about anything but this for days, but it looks like in the end the buyers were okay with it, and trusted my pediatrician's assertions that such a low level of lead combined with Gabe's negative lead test, meant the source of the lead was from a toy or from some other random singular event. The pediatrician feels confident that this is not coming from the house.

I feel tremendously guilty about this whole Josie having lead in her blood thing, and every time I talk about it, I start crying all over again. I don't know what I could have done, but it feels like I should have been able to do something. It feels like I didn't protect my baby. I shouldn't have let this happen.

The good news is that it is a very low level, as my pediatrician calls it, "a very slightly elevated level" and that level doesn't even need to be treated, although we are proactively giving her iron supplements.

Exhibit B:
At the conclusion of the weekend, and while we were still waiting to hear from the buyers, Josie was a mess. At midnight on Monday night, she woke up screaming (SCREAMING) inconsolably at midnight, and would not calm down until 6am, at which point I called the pediatrician in hysterics, because Josh was insisting we needed to take her to the hospital to be checked out. The pediatrician sat on the phone with me for 20 minutes listening to her scream and suggesting various possibilities, and he finally told me to meet him at the office so he could check her out before we went to the ER. As we were getting ready to walk out the door, Josie starts projectile vomiting all over me, herself, and our bed.

I rush over to the office, and the doctor and nurses start examining her and running bloodwork to figure out what the problem is. She would scream any time they touched her stomach, and the possibility of an intestinal obstruction started floating around. I, meanwhile, was crying quietly in the corner, because OH MY GOD, seriously?

We sat in the office for 3 hours, me rocking her quietly while she lay limp, pale as a sheet in my arms, and feeding her teeny sips of pedialite and discussing whether we should go to the hospital. Finally, the pediatrician gets the results of the blood test indicating she has some sort of infection, and he says we should go in to the ER for some tests. I'm packing up her stuff, and turn to him to ask, "this couldn't be an ear infection, right?" He assured me it couldn't, but then decided to check her ears right as we're leaving, and guess what? RAGING ear infection. Raging.

The relief, I cannot even begin to tell you the relief. The guilt came later, but the relief was amazing. We had a terrible 24 hours, but she is a different baby today after 48 hours of antibiotic and food and SLEEP, glorious sleep.

Exhibit C:
Yesterday I went to pick Gabe up from school, and somehow, within the span of just a couple of hours, he has become goop city. He is drooping, feverish, snotty, and generally unwell. I had to do the walk of shame out of the preschool, while all the other mothers eyed me angrily, all but saying out loud that I sent a sick kid to school to infect their precious babies.

I swear, he wasn't sick! I'm super paranoid about sending sick kids to school! Alas, no one believes me anymore, and although he seems better today, I'm probably going to have to keep him home tomorrow just to prove a point. Damnit.

Honestly, though, if karma is a bitch, as I always like to remind rude people, what have we done to deserve all of this? And I know that sounds totally self-involved to say that all of this is falling on me, but that is how it feels! Many many times this week I have thought about crawling under a rock to cry. Or at least under the covers. At this point, I'm thinking we should call 2009 a wash and move onto 2010. It can't be any worse than this year.