Monday, January 31, 2011

I Should Be Sleeping, But I Slept Already

Two and a half hours with a nonstop nursing, going through a growth spurt baby.  Instead I've been spending the evening catching up on a colleague's CaringBridge page.  Turns out that while I was off having Fynn and enjoying my life as her mama, Ruben was being diagnosed with multiple cancers.  He's a public speaker, writer and thinker, so there are a lot of posts to catch up on.  After five hours or so, I'm about halfway.

And you know what?  I have never laughed so hard while reading about someone's journey toward becoming a cancer survivor.  I hope to never take his journey.  If I do, I hope to do it like him.

After our snowy start to the new year, we've been enjoying downright balmy weather.  I'd heard it was coming to an end by the end of this weekend.  Yesterday I made PB & J's for Mad and me.  We sat on the warm concrete out back and ate them while talking about her baby (her name is Sister, but you can also call her Sister Baby... not to be confused with Fynn, who is Baby Sister.)

Today we had a play date with Mad's and Fynn's friends, two families, each with kids who will turn three and one this year.  Mad's the oldest by two months, Fynn's the youngest by two months.  The park is one where I spent many hours running as a teen.  It's the epitome of a beautiful community park, with sporting fields, an awesome three-ring playground and an exercise trail (.8 miles) that loops it.  The trail is adjacent to an equestrian path, and the park is set in the foothills of a chic-chic neighborhood.  It was frigid.  With a breeze.

We arrived early, which is a rare occurrence for anyone of our playdate families.  Fynn was ready for a nap, so I tossed her in the Beco and did a lap.  For maybe the second time ever, I went the easy way.  That would be down the steep quarter mile or so hill.  I figured that 15.5 pounds of baby meant I could go a little easy on myself.  As I moved, I was reminded of how different my body is now compared to my 16 year old running, dancing body.  Instead of getting down on myself, I thought of people who might not be able to get around with such relative ease.  A mental shout-out went to Bossy Betty's friend E.

After all the playground fun and an icy, rainy lunch we all did a lap.  Mad was the only toddler not in a stroller; because of Fynn's preference for the wrap and carrier, we don't use a stroller.  It's at Grandma's so Mad can still get her daily walks.  So the rest of our group had a slight advantage over us, speed-wise.  By the time we were halfway around, everybody else was done.  Even the lone Grammy of the group.  We skipped the big hill and had a quick-quick-slow race up the grass.

In the car, Mad had a snack, but even with it her energy was low.  All that running around wore her out!  I'm not sure I believed it could happen.  She said sluggishly, "I'm tired," and I believed her.

On the way home, Tom and I dreamed of living closer to our friends, and of one of us getting to be a stay at home parent.  We have to be in our house 14 more months in order to satisfy the requirements of the tax credit we got two years ago.  Fourteen months and selling the house for at least enough to have a down payment on another house down the hill are all that stands between us and a normal life.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Presto Blocks Girl Birthday Invitation
Shutterfly has unique birthday invitations for every age and occasion.
View the entire collection of cards.
Six months is coming up so fast.  We made this card because we (still!) haven't sent out announcements.  It's a lovely way to catch people up on the glory that is Fynn.  I just hope people don't think we're soliciting gifts.  And I'm letting Shutterfly advertise on my site because I can get $25 off my next order for doing so.

*No, I'm not the genius who thought of celebrating .5; that would be the highly talented mama over at And Evie Makes Three

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good Times

Tom has accepted that we'll be paying the $475 truancy fine, even though we got Corey to school every day.  He was always on campus; the school failed to keep him in class.  (Two teachers have told me that they "should have called" when they saw him out and about.  I didn't respond with anything remotely like what I was actually thinking when I heard that.)  Personally, I believe the principal should pay the fine or risk having his driver's license suspended.  But that's just me. 

Corey's printout from the Department of Juvenile Probation was clean, as we'd expected.  Job Corps will be pleased to know that not being a criminal is something my son has going for him.

Pulling an illegal and - worse! - badly done U-Turn in front of a police officer, I have decided, is an expensive lesson for Corey.  Accept responsibility when you make a mistake.  Remain cordial, find the humor and do what you can to avoid making the same (incredibly stupid fricking) mistake again.  That's right.  I did it for my son.

Around 1:00 yesterday afternoon someone said to me, "Shanni... is your shirt on inside out?  Is it?  I mean, some people do that like a style thing."  Dude.  I was fully dressed.  My bra was completely on.  What else do you people want from me?!?

I had my first cup of coffee in about 17 months.  Decaf.  It was heavenly.  I'm sensitive enough to caffeine that it still made me stoopid.  After lunch, I returned to my office.  Twice I started to say, "Hey girl!  How's it going?" or something along those lines before realizing that the woman in front of me was, in fact, not the boss' assistant.  And by "started to say" I mean words had begun flowing from my mouth.  With sound.

Ten minutes after I went ahead and introduced myself to the woman (who thought I was just very friendly), I did the same thing.  With another woman.  Only this time the new not-someone-I-know looked like my friend's mom.  Friend's mom, Maria, is a teacher and we do have teachers in and out of our office all the time, but I couldn't fathom why she'd be wearing a badge from our office as she does not work in special education.  Or why the name on her badge... which I could only make out while squinting deeply as she approached... was Julie.

I am almost out of those handy wipes that are specially made for breast pump parts.  I plan to buy more.  In the meantime, I'm trying to find places to wash out the parts after pumping.  Happened to be in a restaurant recently and had it fall out of my purse and onto the floor in front of servers who are dear to me, but not exactly mi familia.  Yesterday I brought it into the office, but the restrooms upstairs were closed.  On my way to the staff lounge I saw a man I thought I might know (I'm pretty sure I was right).  Yes, I did start to wave with the hand holding breast pump pieces.

And last, today it took about seven tries to get the buttons lined up on my shirt after pumping on the way to the office. Eventually I had to get out and do it in the reflection of car. I wasn't exposing myself. I had on a tank top (that I realized two hours ago was inside out. What?)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Mad: "What is that?" (the sign-off from AOL)

Mama: "What is it?"

Mad: "That's your cucumber getting off."

Daddy: "Cucumber, concuter. computer... what's the difference?"

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Missing You

Every day since returning to work, I've thought of a few things I'd love to blog about.  Some of them I was smart enough (in my opinion) to save somewhere (we'll see what you think in a minute, won't we?).

So, here are some parts of conversations and thoughts I've had over the past two weeks.

With my Mad-A-Girl at the doctor's office for Fynnie's monthly shot:
"Is that the music for me to dance?"  Yes, yes it is.  (Even better than dancing, Mad stepped into the middle of the packed waiting room and held her snowman out.  Mm-hmm, my girl's a performance artist.)

With my sister, who was reflecting on her (thankfully temporary) post-surgery life with a catheter and without hormone replacement therapy:
"I call the bag Whizzer.  Ya know, it's not that bad.  I'm kind of getting used to peeing like a guy.  I think I'm jealous."

"I'm so emotional.  I'm all over the place.  One minute I'm crying watching Pride and Prejudice and the next I'm cursing at the TV because it's too effing slow." 

"I don't want chocolate.  I don't know why.  It's got to be better than being high."

With my Wicked Stepmom, who texted me last week from her home outside of Atlanta:
"Hello from the sunny south.  NOT.  Snowed in.  One mom, six children, one nana, one papa, and one dog who doesn't want to pee in the snow!"

A few minutes later, "We are hoping for a small window to get them home.  It's going to ice up in two hrs, all is closed here."

In terms of real life, face-to-face conversations, I learned that my multi-tasking skills, and Nance's poker face skills aren't up to par anymore when I flashed her the pic of me trying on those pants in the middle of a meeting last week.  Okay, so Nance actually held it together pretty well after that view.  It was the shot of Madelyn trying to put "milk in a bag" for Fynn that did her in.

And, within my own brain, I had a pregnancy scare.  Yes, I did have my tubes tied.  But I recently joined a board for moms to share baby clothes and gear amongst ourselves (more on this topic later).  One mama, who has a gob of children and got her tubes tied last spring is now expecting a baby.  So, when my breasts were extra sore and sensitive, and my appetite and sleep patterns were changing, I immediately thought it could be a baby.  Between you and me, I was not exactly upset (as long as I didn't think too deeply about how life would change yet again).  Instead, the truth is that I had cracked nipples, a clogged duct and, oh yeah, my first period since forever ago.  It's a bundle alright.

There you go.  A little trip through my life and mind.  Aren't you glad I was able to keep these gems and share them with you?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The End of One Chapter

The highs:
*Got out of the house seven minutes early.  Each of us was fully dressed (yes, I even had on appropriate shoes and backup appropriate shoes in the car).
*Was able to nurse and pump before leaving Grandma's.
*Managed to pump about the same amount as Fynn had in bottles with Grandma.
*More importantly, Fynn ate really well with Grandma.  *whew!*
*Fynnie got two great naps, including one where Grandma was able to put her down drowsy and let Fynnie put herself to sleep in five easy minutes (uh, no, that did not translate to home... it's just more evidence of Grandma Magic).
*Even better, she didn't seem even a little traumatized.  When she saw me, her expression was the epitome of bemused pleasure.
*My energy level was consistently high until begin a not-too-rapid descent around 2:30.

The lows:
*While nursing before leaving the girls this morning, I managed to leak.  Through two breast pads, my bra, a tank top and my new not black or white shirt.  Margaret, who's about 5" nothing, offered me a replacement, but I opted to rinse and use a hair dryer (okay, at first I was just going to dry, but I remembered the white circles milk can leave just in time).
*I finished pumping (in my car, away from the crowds... it's my "me" time), got out and headed back into the office before realizing that everything but the top button was undone on my shirt.  Twice.
*At random times during the day I realized that I hadn't hooked this side or that of my nursing bra.  Yes, twice.
*Picking up the girls and leaving Grandma's took over an hour.  Traffic was heinous, with a complete stop for at least 10 minutes at one point.
*Half an hour from home, I heard something no mama wants to hear from the back seat.  "*gasp*  My heinie is pooping."
*We arrived home half an hour after Fynn's bedtime routine should start, and Mad was so wound up (read: tired) that she kicked Fynn in the face while sitting/trying to escape from the potty during her second poop of the evening.

And now, I'm off to bed.  But before I go, I wanted to thank everybody who sent encouragement and compassion.  I appreciate you all!

Monday, January 03, 2011


I'm not sure if I have the snow gods on my side or what, but indeed everybody from my office who lives remotely near me (and that would still put them about half an hour closer to work than I am) has stayed home today.

Tom braved it.  He left at 3:30.  Called me at 5:25 to say that he was about 10 minutes away.  From home.  Stuck on the freeway.  He got to work by 7:00, I believe.  Tom is more stubborn than I am.  Oh, and he has a jerkwad of a boss.

Talked the admin assistant at work and she said there's no problem with changing my calendar.  So today is now just an off contract day.  Whoop whoop!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

It's the Night Before I Return to Work And...

... my car is 1/3 ready to go.  Fynn's extra clothes, a box of diapers and four packs of wipes refills are in the cargo area.

... the seating area is full of crap that I need to remove.

... Mad's car seat is currently rear facing because Fynn borrowed it during our trek down south.

... Madelyn's extra clothes are sitting at the top of the stairs.

... I am wearing the new jeans that I wanted to wear tomorrow (we went shopping today and I swear they were the only pants that were completely dry when it was time to leave)... and that I now really need to wear.  Why?

... it's snowing.  We got a little snow last winter.  In the past four hours we've gotten at least twice the total of last year.  Mad and I went out to play in it briefly while Tom was upstairs on sleep duty with Fynn.  Then we switched places so he didn't miss out.  (No, that didn't mess things up for Fynn at all.)  He and Mad made her first snowman.

... our neighborhood is blanketed in white and dotted with children running around and riding new Christmas bikes.

... the pass down to our jobs is, last I heard, running with CHP escorts, but may be closed by morning.  Elevation-wise, it's about 1600 feet higher than here, so that area gets a lot more "weather" than we do.

... our phone just rang with a call from the local school district indicating that there will be no school tomorrow due to inclement weather.  (This brought hearty scoffing sounds from Tom because it's really not that much snow.)

... I'm sitting here, kind of hoping that we'll be snowed in.  Tom could take a vacation day.  I might be able to maneuver my schedule at such late notice, but an unpaid day off wouldn't be that bad.  A day of snuggling with the girls whenever we weren't outside building more snowmen sounds perfect.  Doesn't it?

***Okay, since I started this post, the car is now in order, laundry is about to move to the dryer and photos from this evening are uploaded.  Here's a sampling of Mad's first romp in the snow.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

In Training

Our beloved Pamela, childbirth educator extraordinaire, is a strong proponent of sleep training at four months.  Moreover, she firmly believes the Ferber method (in a nutshell, let the baby cry, but check in at regular intervals for specific durations of soothing) is dee-vine.

I did not do sleep training with Corey.  When he was roughly four months old my then-husband and I decided to let him cry it out.  It's what we'd always heard, "You gotta just let 'em cry it out."  We sat there, nervous, queasy and eventually upset with one another before we dashed in to rescue our poor boy.  After that we went back to about 50% co-sleeping and 50% putting him in his crib asleep.  By the time Corey was in a toddler bed, he and I shared a room at my mom's.  Bedtime then involved reading him a story in my bed, turning out the light and smooshing myself up against the wall so we could share the twin bed.  Occasionally he slept in the tiny bed at the end of the same wall.  When we moved into our own place and I got him a big boy bed, we reverted to the 50/50 method.  It was eventually cut down to 10/90.  After Tom and I married and joined households Corey was finally booted from my bed for good.  Gah!

When Pamela stressed sleep training and its benefits, my ears perked up.  About two months before STD (uh, that's Sleep Training Day) we bought Baby411 specifically for it's info on training methods.  I felt sick as I thought about that awful night back in 1993, even though I understood that there were steps Tom and I could take to ease our Mad-a-baby into sleeping bliss.  The night she turned four months I chickened out.  I wasn't ready, so I said she wasn't ready.  We agreed to try again the following Friday night.  That afternoon I began searching the Interwebs frantically looking for reassurance, guidance, an online Pamela.  With 15 minutes to spare, what I found was Dr. Sears' method.  It involved having Daddy stay and maintain soothing contact with Mad until she was asleep.  This was a good match for how we parented her.

It took Tom 45 minutes to get her to sleep, with maybe half of that involving crying.  An hour later it took 35 minutes to get her back to sleep.  At 4:30 the next morning, it took me maybe 10 quiet minutes to put her down after nursing.  Even better, the following day Mad got her first 45 minute nap in her crib at home.  (She'd napped well with Grandma, just not with Mama.)  One not too bad night of sleep training cured everything that ailed us.  By the end of the second night, we were done.

Okay, yes.  We knew we were lucky.  We contemplated how Mad's beginning as a box baby in the NICU may have played a role in her preference for sleeping alone.  But we were also self-congratulatory, full of ourselves.  If we hadn't been smart enough to find the method that fit so well with our parenting style and been so consistent with it (lo, those two nights), well, who knew what kind of problems we'd be having!  As late as a few months ago, Tom and I regularly stood outside Mad's door and quietly high-fived while giggling about how awesome this sleep training thing is.

We started sleep training with Fynn about two weeks ago.  We were going to wait until Christmas weekend, but Fynn is so different than Mad that I wondered if it would take longer.  And I wanted a little extra time to enjoy the fruits of our labor before returning to work. 

You know where this is going, right?


There are several obstacles this time.  Namely, Fynn has an older sister whose own bedtime has gotten moved around as we've tried to adapt to life with two small children.  At first I tried sitting in during Mad's storytime, but with Dad directing things, it kept getting later and later.  (One of us, as you'll see, is goal-oriented, the other process-oriented.  When we can work side by side, this is good.)  Add to that, Tom's the one who's really good about sticking to the steps in a routine, where I'm better about sticking to the timeline.  So a routine in my hands tends to fall apart as I focus on getting things done.

Still, it had gone from taking 90 minutes down to only 20 minutes to get Fynn down by last weekend.  Then we had Christmas, which was too stimulating for our four month old.  Teenaged cousins who wanted to shake rattles and use squeaky voices loud enough to be heard over the din of about 20 people, a few dogs and the TV.  Two days later, a very clingy Fynn and I left for San Diego.  When I set her down for her first diaper change at Auntie's house, she was fried.  By the end of the evening, just walking into that bedroom would bring her to tears.  We spent the entire night nursing and snuggling.  Same thing with our first and second nights home.

Getting back into the wobbly swing of things has been difficult.  Last night started out well, but took about 90 minutes again.  Tonight it took Tom almost an hour.  Ten minutes later he headed back upstairs to start again.  Took another half an hour.  Now he's asleep on the couch, but if he breathes too loudly I stop to see if that's really Fynn crying.

And naps?  So far we've used the sleep training technique three times during the day.  The rest of the time I toss Fynn into the wrap and walk around to make sure she gets some rest.  I just can't take that much time with Mad here, too.  There have been no fruits to enjoy.  No giggling.  High fives are a thing of the past.  Heck, eye contact is becoming harder to come by once bedtime rolls around.  The last week or so before I returned back to work after Mad I was able to start developing a routine.  Today I did several loads of laundry and sorted old clothes with a baby strapped to my back.  It wasn't a big deal as long as I didn't drop anything.

The upside?  Once she's down, Fynn sleeps really well.  I've been awake and heard her roust and put herself back to sleep.  She only wakes for one nighttime feeding 3-4 times a week.

What were your experiences with sleep training?  Did it ever end up the way you'd envisioned?  Is there any hope that we'll get to enjoy tension-free evenings once again?
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