Wednesday, January 25

Morning Routines

Here's a quiz question for you. If the singalong at the library starts at 10 a.m. and we need to get our tickets for it by 9:45 a.m., both children are dressed and fed, and the drive to the library, including parking, takes nine minutes, what time do we need to walk out the door to make it on time?

The answer is: 8 a.m. By leaving at 8 a.m., we guarantee being no more than twenty-two minutes late to the half hour singalong.

Why is this? Because by saying, "We absolutely, without a doubt, must be out this door by eight a.m.," instantly puts Doodles into, well, Doodle mode. I know our morning isn't so different than any other family's morning, but it's ours. Our morning (the abbreviated version):

Me: Doodles, let's get your shoes on.
Doodles: I want to ride on the train!
Me: We don't have a train.
Doodles, dragging a dining room chair across the living room and into the playroom: I'm riding the train!
Me: Let's get your shoes on, honey. We're going to singalong. You love singalong!
Sweetie Pie, sitting in the high chair, begins to nod off.
Me: Oh no, you don't! No falling asleep there. You can fall asleep in your car seat.
I take the sleeping Sweetie from the high chair and move her to the car seat, where she instantly starts to wail.
Me: Doodles, shoe time!
Doodles: Mama, can you come here? Mama, can you come to playroom?
Me: You know, E. is going to be at the singalong.
Doodles: E.?
Me: Yep!
Doodles thinks a moment.
Doodles: I make coffee. Mama, here is your coffee.
Me: Thank you, honey. Can we put your shoes on?
Doodles: I need coffee. I need coffee!
Doodles drinks his coffee: Mama, where is E.?
Me: She's putting her shoes on for singalong.
Doodles: Where is E.?
Me: Still putting her shoes on for singalong.
Doodles thinks again.
Doodles: Where is E.?
Me: Um, let me think. Oh, I know! Putting her shoes on for singalong.
Doodles: Mama, I put sugar in coffee.
Me, sniffing: Doodles, do I smell something? Did you poop?
Doodles: No! No poop! No poop! Mama, here's coffee.
Me: Doodles, do you want to play in the snow?
Doodles: Play in snow? Play in snow!!
Me: We can play in the snow outside the library before the singalong.
Doodles, marching out of the playroom: Play in snow! I need shoes!
Me: If we're going to play in the snow, you need your snow pants. Let's get those on.
I actually get the snow bib out and get them on him. I zip it all the way up. Panic sets in on Doodles.
Doodles: Where's my belly button? Where's my belly button?!? [Doodles's security thing is to put the first finger of his left hand in his mouth and the first finger of his right finger in his belly button.]
Me: Here it is.
I unzip the bib just enough for him to get his hand in.
Me: Okay, the boots. [Sniff, sniff. To Sweetie] Oh, you pooped!
I stop to change Sweetie's diaper... and onesie... and pants... and shirt... and socks.
Doodles, coming out of the playroom with two cups on his feet: I'm wearing boots! I'm wearing boots!
Me: Okay, let's get your real boots on.
Doodles: I wearing boots!
[Repeat for 11 1/2 more minutes]
Me: It's time to play in the snow. We need to get your boots on.
Doodles: I wearing boots!
A dog runs past the window.
Doodles: Doggie! Doggie!
Me: Doodles, if we get your boots on fast enough, we can go out and see the doggie!
Doodles runs to the chair: Boots! Boots!
I get one boot on his foot. The phone rings. I debate what to do. I ignore it, but I hesitate long enough that Doodles can hop down.
Me: We've got one more to put on, honey.
Doodles, with a whine: Doggie went away! Doggie went away!
Me: Honey, we have one more boot to go.
Doodles climbs into the living room chair: I watch TV!
Me: Not even close. Let's get your boot on.
Doodles: I watch TV!! I want Wiggles! Little Einsteins!
Me: You're whining. We don't whine.
Doodles, still whining: Pleeeease!
Me: There is no TV until 5 p.m. It is 8:22 a.m. You have a long way to go.
Full scale meltdown erupts that lasts anywhere from three to twenty-seven minutes.
Me: We've got to get your other boot on.
Doodles, screaming: No, no, no, no, no, no!!!
I try to distract, cajole, beg, and bribe. If I'm lucky, another dog will pass by.
Me: Look, Doodles, another dog! Maybe if we get the boot on fast enough, he'll still be down the street.
Doodles immediately quiets and sticks out his foot. Boot goes on. Jacket is flipped on. Diaper bag? Check. Snacks for Doodles? Check. Mei tai for Sweetie Pie? Check. Sweetie Pie? Check. Only... Sweetie Pie is now covered in spit up. I evaluate. I swipe at it with my sleeve. Good enough. I get Doodles in the car. I get Sweetie in the car. I pile all our belongings in the front seat. I realize I've had to pee for the past twenty minutes, but I figure I can ignore it for an hour or so till we get home.

Now getting from the car to the library and through the library past the elevator, computers, and countless other obstacles is a whole 'nother story. But it's all worth it to spend a half hour sitting on the floor, legs going numb, as I beg Doodles to dance (to wear him out for a good nap) to the bossa nova version of "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and bounce Sweetie Pie to keep her from wailing.

Anyone who says she loves every second of motherhood... is an obvious liar.

A Cinematic Moment

Netflix has this feature called Friends. The idea behind Friends is that I can see what my friends are watching, what's in their queue, and what their ratings are. All fine and dandy. A neat idea. My friend Eugene made me one of his Netflix friends.

It's fun to browse through and see what he's watching, because Weegie is a total film geek (as I type he's at Sundance). I can see movies we both hated (Meet the Fockers), movies we both loved (Girl with a Pearl Earring), and ones we disagreed on (how did he not like Mean Girls?). It's a cool little feature until...

...I realized that Weegie can see what's in my queue, too. Not a big deal, you say? Except that I went to film school. Weegie and I became friends because we both worked for the same video store (so to speak). I'm supposed to have taste in film. I'm supposed to be a film snob. So, what's in my queue? The Stepford Wives (the new version), The Notebook, A Lot Like Love, and believe it or not, a few that are even more embarrasing than that. How totally embarrassing. So do I alter my film queue to reflect the kind of movies I think I should be watching? Load it up with Persona, Hiroshima Mon Amour, and Alphaville because they're good for me (and I feel obliged to say that I also like all these films, but you know what? I really don't)? Or do I 'fess up to the world that, yes, I'm currently brain dead and I'm viewing lots of trash. "Check my past rentals," I want to yell. "Look at all those documentaries! I love documentaries!"

Sigh. That said if any of your are on Netflix and want to be my Netfilx Friend, drop me an e-mail (I use a different address for Netflix so you can't just add me). Just please, don't judge me by what I watch.

Wednesday, January 18

The Bell Tolls for Me

How can something so beautiful, so sweet, so absolutely yummy want to kill me so badly? That's the only explanation I can come up with. Sweetie Pie wants me dead.

For starters there's the sleep thing. Is it fair to call it a sleep thing when there's no sleep involved? Basically, I spend the entire night nursing Sweetie with tiny, short nap breaks. As a newborn, she slept in two hour blocks. Now that she's almost five months old she sleeps in forty-five minute to one hour blocks. I'm her favorite pacifier. I'm her only pacifier.

Then there's the eating thing. I've met my picky eaters before but Miss Pie takes the prize. Not only is she picky about what she eats (breastmilk, please) but she will only take it in its original form. No bottles for her, thank you! Not from her father, not from her grandparents, not from her teachers.

Which brings us to the final thing: school (which is what we call day care in our house). Sweetie Pie isn't a fan. The first day I had to come feed her midday. The second day she plodded through and today, the third day, I got a call at 10:30 a.m. that I needed to come in because she wouldn't stop crying. I went in and held her and--poof!--she stopped crying. I put her down to play with her and waaaaaa. Beet red waaaaaaa. Tears streaming down face waaaaaaa. Pick her back up. She's fine. After about ten rounds of this fun game, I gave up and took her home. Which would be fine if I didn't have three work deadlines looming ahead. We went back in the afternoon to hang out and help acclimate her. And guess what? She played her little game again. "Coo, coo, coo!" Mommy thinks she's doing okay, and sets her down to play. "Waaaaaaaaaa!" Up she goes. "Coo, coo, coo!"

The end result of this? An overly tired, sore nippled, work-stressed mom who teeters on the edge of oblivion. Right now, I'm blogging from bed as she sleeps next to me (because why would you sleep on your own when you can sleep touching Mom?) and she's so beautiful and peaceful and sweet. The sad thing is I know how much I'm going to miss all this in a few years. In the meantime, I'll just continue my role as zombie mom until I can wrangle up two hours of sleep in a row. Word to the wise: Stay out of my way. I'm not the most pleasant person around right now

George "Doodles" Forman

Our son's collection of stuffed animals that he must sleep with is growing. The first was Curious George, known simply as George in this house. Then came a doggie. When asked the name of the doggie, Doodles said, "Bark George!" (after the book of the same name). Finally another monkey was added to the menagerie. When asked to name this monkey, Doodles announced, "He's George!" but to avoid confusion, we call him Little George.

Ah, my son. Smarter than a monkey. At least the ones named George.

Wednesday, January 11

If He Did, It Expired

Doodles: Where did Sweetie Pie come from?
Adam: Sweetie Pie came from inside Mommy's belly.
Doodles: Oh!
Adam: Where did Doodles come from?
Doodles: The store!
Adam: Did you come with a warranty?


Doodles has an old remote control that we gave him a year and a half ago when he became fascinated with all things with buttons. He loved to press the buttons. Now, however, he knows that it's supposed to do something and he suddenly realized it doesn't work.

Yesterday, he came into the living room with his remote and sat in his chair. "I want to watch TV!" he said. He started pressing buttons on the remote. "I want to watch TV! I press buttons. I want to watch TV!" I went into the next room to take care of something, and moments later a little person comes trotting in. "Mama! It needs new batteries! It needs new batteries, Mama! Can I have batteries?"

Where do they get this stuff?

School Daze

There's only one thing worse than dropping off one of the absolute loves of your life off at day care. And that's dropping her off twice.

I really wrangled with sending Sweetie Pie to day care. The fact is, I'm an incredibly lucky person and the only reason I work is because I enjoy it. If I chose not to work, we'd be fine. Actually, with two children in day care, we'd be better than fine because my work won't cover the day care costs of two children because it's three days of day care and two days of work. Let me explain.

When Doodles was a wee one, I thought I'd stay home with him. Being a stay-at-home mom was what I was going to be. A SAHM in the terminology. My mom, when I was six, went back to school and I think that 90 percent of moms mother in direct response to their own mothering (and the other 10 percent lie about it), so of course, I want to be home for my kids. I had put Doodles on a waitlist for day care when I was just a few months pregnant, just in case. I'm not sure what kind of "work emergency" I was going to have, but there you go. And then, three months into mothering Doodles, I had a "work emergency." I was going crazy. I wasn't cut out to be a five-day-a-week at home mom. I loved (and still do love) Doodles more than life itself, but I was going postal home all the time. So when an opening came at the day care, I jumped at it and Doodles started going twice a week and I began freelancing as a writer and editor. I felt horribly guilty about wanting to work and send my child to school, but that's what worked best for all of us.

Fastforward two years. Doodles loves his school. I knew that I'd want to return to my freelance life, so the minute I found out that I was pregnant with Sweetie Pie, I put her on the waiting list at Doodles's school (the infant room is the toughest one to get into, but I had priority because of Doodles and let me tell you, I'm the only one who put a kid on the waiting list when she was a mere five weeks in utero. Day care found out I was pregnant before almost anyone else). At the same time, we arranged for Doodles to up his day care to three days a week starting that September, on the advice of his pediatrician. She pointed out that with a newborn at home, we wouldn't be able to give Doodles to activity he needed and that school would be a safe place that would be all his--no babies interfering. Because I knew that putting a second child into day care would be easier than putting the first in and because I had more work than I could really accomplish in two days, I went ahead and signed Sweetie Pie up for three days a week.

Only one problem: I was wrong. I don't want to send Sweetie Pie to day care. Not three days a week, not one day a week. Putting the second child into day care is no easier than putting the first one in. In fact, it's harder because I don't feel like I need a break. First of all, I'm a much more relaxed this time around. Second of all, I haven't had any of the postpartum anxiety I had with Doodles. Finally, I know now just how fast it all goes! She's going to be big before I know it, and I don't want to miss any of it!

But here's the deal. Doodles really does love school. I mean loves it! And he really does get more there than I can give him. At his age, he likes lots of art projects, song hours, story times, play time, dress up time, and there's no way I can keep up with him and take care of Sweetie Pie's needs. Oh, I could give Doodles a lot at home and I know that many moms do, but it's not in my repertoire. Frankly, I get annoyed when I spend twenty minutes setting up a craft project just to have Doodles tell me 30 seconds later that he wants to do something else. And honestly I don't want a 2 1/2 year old going crazy in the house during the winter. Winters up here can be rough and I'm not taking Sweetie Pie out in 20 degree weather so Doodles can burn off energy.

So what do I do? We have to pay for Doodles's day care, but with Sweetie Pie home, I can't really work. And then there's one other factor. Almost all of the moms I've spoken to tell me the same thing: While it's nice to be home with your kids when they're young, it's more important to be home for them when they're older. Kids need you after school in elementary school and middle school. Now, I don't know if this is true or not, never having raised an older kid, but it sounds like it could make sense. My freelance work rocks. I enjoy it. It's flexible so I can work odd hours if I have a sick child. It pays decently. And it'll be the perfect schedule when Doodles and Sweetie Pie are in preschool/elementary school. I'll definitely want to work when the kids are in school and let's face it, finding meaningful, well paying part-time work is just about impossible, and that's exactly what I've got. But the thing is, if I stop working now, my contacts will be stale in three years. Working now ensures I'll have work later when I need it. So I think of my work now as an investment for the future.

So, here we are. I can't bear the idea of sending my Sweetie Pie to day care three days a week, nor can I bear the idea of disappointing Doodles and cutting him back to two days a week. So Sweetie Pie starts going this week two days a week and Doodles will continue three days a week and I get a precious day alone with my little baby.

Monday was Sweetie's first day. Doodles and I dropped her in the infant room. I took Doodles to the toddler room, which is right next door and then went back to hang out with Sweetie a little bit. I had ramped Doodles up slowly when he started but I don't have that luxury with Sweetie Pie: I already have four jobs I'm working on and I haven't even contacted all my regular clients yet. So Sweetie Pie will be doing full days.

Before I left, I fed Sweetie and cooed at her. I made the teachers promise they'd let Doodles visit her (I feel better knowing she'll have a familiar face there). And I went about my day. After two hours, I called the school.

"How's Sweetie!" I asked.

"She's doing good," the teacher said. "So, has she taken a bottle before?"

Uh...yes, actually she has. Adam gives Sweetie a bottle when Doodles and I have our mommy-Doodles alone time. And other various family members have given her one. Now, Sweetie isn't a big fan of the bottle, but she will take it.

And yet, at 1 p.m., my phone rang.

"Hi, Jenny," the day care director said. "Sweetie won't take the bottle and she's screaming. Do you want to come down and feed her?"

Luckily, we live fewer than five minutes from the day care so I got there right away, snuck past the toddler room, and found Sweetie as happy as could be in the director's arms.

"Let me try feeding her a bottle," I said. Sweetie grinned at me, took the bottle, took one swallow, and then started screaming.

"Yep, that's what she did for us," the director said.

I popped Sweetie on and in five minutes, she was cooing contentedly. I left her again, to finish up my day's work.

So now what? Do I go to day care every day to feed Sweetie Pie? One of the teacher's had a little luck feeding Sweetie in the bouncy chair at the end of the day, but I don't know if that will work on an ongoing basis. Maybe Sweetie Pie senses my ambivalence.

I do feel better about day care in general. When I went to pick Sweetie Pie up for real, they said they brought her into the toddler room, and Doodles immediately said, "That's my Sweetie!"

I'll get through this. I know I will. But my little bitty Miss Pie--who is already in her size 3 diapers and grown out of half of her size 3 to 6 months clothes--is getting so big so fast. And Doodles is a real live kid now. Slow down! It's all speeding by way too quickly.

Wednesday, January 4

Going Her Own Way

My little Sweetie Pie is already doing her own thing! Her first tooth has broken through--and instead of doing one of the two front teeth like every other baby out there, Sweetie Pie chose to begin the teething process with a tooth in the back left of her mouth. My little non-conformist baby!

The Sins of the Father

Adam says he worries that someday he's going to apply for a job or something and he won't get it because they'll say they don't like him because of something they read about him in my blog. Just to give a little more ammunition, here are some Adam stories.

1) While leaving the Christmas Eve party, my kind, kind friend said, "Let me wrap up some treats for you to take."

I said, juggling Sweetie Pie, trying to calm her, "It might be hard right now. Adam and Doodles are staying--why don't you give some to them to take."

Fastforward a couple of hours. Sweetie is asleep on me. Adam and Doodles come bounding in the door. Adam says, "D. offered to pack up some cookies for us, but I told her not to bother since we're leaving town anyway on Monday."

I was most distressed as I yelled, "I'm here by myself and you turned down COOKIES?!?" Does anyone else out there see just how wrong this is?

2) In Miami Beach, we went out for ice cream. I got a waffle cone dipped in chocolate with sprinkles on it because I love cones, chocolate, and sprinkles. Doodles had a plain cone and he wanted to lick the sprinkles on mine, which I'm fine with, but I do like my sprinkles. We went back to the ice cream store a few days later, and this time I got Doodles his own sprinkle cone. Of course his own sprinkle cone isn't as good as someone else's so he didn't eat the cone. I turned to talk to my cousin and I notice that Adam is cleaning Doodles up. And the cone is slowly making its way in Adam's hand toward the garbage. "Don't! Don't! DON'T!!" I yell, as I dive for Adam's arm. But I'm too late and the sprinkled chocolate cone is in the garbage.

"I heard you say 'Don't!'" my cousin says.

"How could you throw that away?" I wailed.

Adam looks at me like I'm crazy. "I'll buy you another cone."

"It's not the same," I say, as I head for the counter, to get one anyway... except that Doodles's sprinkle chocolate cone was the LAST ONE! And did Adam show an iota of remorse? Yeah, right!

3) Walking aimlessly down Lincoln Road, Adam starts singing--for some reason that I can't remember now--"My cutie has a first name, it's C-W-E-E-T." I had to point out to him, actually, it's an S. We spell our daughter's name with an S. "Yeah," he said. "That's what I meant."

4) A few weeks ago we went to a synagogue play group. Adam and I took separate cars because he was going to take Doodles to a birthday party for the son of a friend of his afterwards. At the synagogue, there was a book fair upstairs so I excused Sweetie (with an S) and myself to go upstairs and do a little shopping. About a half hour later, Adam comes to find me. "I think Doodles and I are going to head out now."

"Oh," I said, "is Doodles getting cranky?"

"Nah," Adam replied. "Doodles is fine. I'm getting bored. I want to go."

Um, hello? Because I enjoy my time in music class. Or gymnastics class. Or for three hours at the playground. That's right. It's all about what interests us! Ahem.

(I know, I know: he's really a great dad and husband. He wakes up with Doodles, bathes him at night, puts him to bed, does the majority of the laundry, takes care of the garbage, the cars, and all things mechanical, and all sorts of saintly things, but really, how boring is that to read? So I won't bother to mention it.)

Wimping Out

I'm so not alternative. I saw the greatest baby t-shirt at Ricky's on Lincoln Road. It said, "I'm so f*ing cute." And it would have been perfect for Miss Pie. But I'm gutless. I'm afraid of the playground moms. I'm afraid of being skewered on the town's parenting e-mail list (yes, my town has an e-mail list for parents and let me tell you, the parents in my town--present company included--aren't shy about voicing their opinions). So if you see me and Miss Pie out and about, just know that I'm at least thinking, "She's so f*ing cute." And you know what? She totally is!

A New Year's Success

Our party history with Miss Pie has hardly been a stellar one. A good friend invited our family to a Christmas Eve open house. I couldn't wait! Every year, I try to invite as many people as I can to our house for Hanukkah. We invite Jews and non-Jews alike. Similarly, I hope to expose Doodles and the Lady Pie (or, as she may simply be known, the baby of a thousand nicknames) to as many other religious traditions as I can.

I like Christmas. I really do. I like Christmas as only a non-Christian person can. When this friend said we could help put some ornaments on her tree, I immediately volunteered to come up with an ornament-making project for our kids. I love Christmas cookies. Egg nog lattes are to die for.

So I was so eager for the open house. What a festive night! I dressed Miss Pie up in her finest and myself in my not-so-finest (I plan on wearing the same five shirts over and over for the next year and then once Sweetie Pie is done breastfeeding--and spitting up--burning them all and buying some nice new stuff). Doodles was excited and even Adam was in a party mood.

The party was awesome. But Sweetie Pie was not. About forty minutes into the party she started to howl. And howl. And howl some more. Not breastfeeding, not walking, not nutin' would calm her down. I finally gave up and walked her home, at which point she promptly calmed down and fell asleep. Apparently my wee one is easily overstimulated. Either that or she is not as openminded about being a Jew at a Christmas party.

So while I was very excited for my cousin's now annual baby friendly New Year's Eve party, I was not optimistic about the evening. Our evening routine for Miss Pie has become that she starts to scream, I lay her in my bed, breastfeed her until she falls asleep, and then I sit trapped in bed because I don't dare leave her alone as I know she can wriggle right off. So I warned my cousins that I could very well spend the entire evening in their bed with Miss Pie, holding court.

I'm not sure if it was being lavished with attention by my cousins (Jennifer and Oliver rule at baby wrangling) or if she's just more comfortable with secular holidays, but Sweetie Pie was a dream. She fell asleep in the bouncy chair we brought over, and once she woke, I transferred her to the mei tai where she slept for the rest of the night. Jennifer's mother kept saying to me, "She's fast asleep; don't you want to put her down? Are you sure you don't want to put her down?" but she was so sweet against me and as the mei tai ensures no interference in the champagne-glass-to-mouth motion, I didn't see the point.

Doodles did equally well at the party, staying up until the heretofore unseen hours (at least unseen since he was about five months) of 10 p.m. and then he crashed out on some pillows in the living room. Adam and I got to have our babies nearby and still have a baby-free night. It was perfect! I hope everyone else had an equally wonderful holiday.