Mr. Sandman, Send Me A Dream of My Own Bed

For two months, Monkey went to bed contently in her own bed. Not a peep at bedtime.

I was so proud of her, I bought her a kiddie pool. Then, last week, when she clearly and strongly expressed her desire to sleep in my bed, I told her about the pool — tactical error; we hadn’t put it up yet. The information that we owned it was sufficient enough to get her back into her own bed — for one night.

The next night, the battle was renewed. Just as I was readying the “pool” bribe, Monkey, face down on my bed, held up a hand. “Mommy,” she said solemnly, “you can take the pool back to the store.”

Heavens defend us — she’s already anticipating arguments. We’re doomed (again). I was speechless. If the pool didn’t get her in her own bed, I had no idea — short of physical force — what would.

And now, in addition to the fight to sleep in my bed, Monkey has become the queen of the bedtime stall. This has been building for awhile, but it has truly reached new heights. She throws off her covers, and insists I put them back over her. She adopts a new animal every night, and makes me search for it until it can be safely tucked in with her. She dithers over the choice of a book. She goes potty twice before going to bed.

It’s maddening. I have stomped, I have bribed, I have coerced, I have threatened. I have put her to bed with the gate up, and come upstairs to find her bedclothes and stuffed animals against that gate and her in my bed. She’s a 3-year-old escape artist! If I close the door, she yells and cries — and she can open the door anyway.

Last night, I simply gave up. I read her book and sang her lullabies in my bed. When I went to bed later, she was sleeping, so I moved her, and she slept the rest of the night in her own bed.

I guess that’s the best I can hope for right now. I cannot think of a bribe that will entice her. DearDR suggests that we keep the pool but not let her swim in it, but I don’t want to fight that battle.

She’s won. Until I think of something else.

Suggestions welcome!

Lasting First Impressions

I could not be happier that the weekend is over and that I can spend most of the week sitting at my desk. I seriously overdid it this weekend, especially at a Burgh Mom‘s get together at the zoo, and a long day of sitting is in order.

The Pittsburgh Zoo was awesome, however. I just need to get something to attach to my stroller so it can carry two toddlers, because Monkey was seriously flagging by the time we were heading back to the car. I decided that giving her a piggy-back ride (why is it called a piggy-back ride?) part of the way would be a good plan. Not so much. The small of my back was very bad on Sunday.

Much thanks to my fellow Burgh Mom attendees who were kind enough not to lose us in the crowd out of sheer embarrassment of being seen with me and my children. You see, by the time we all met up, my children — at a perfectly dry day at the zoo — were covered in mud. I proceeded to get quite filthy myself, and I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to take a shower at 3 p.m.

How did such a thing happen?

I managed to park myself in the concession area next to the only mud puddle in the whole zoo. It wasn’t too bad when Monkey decided to step in it; true to form, Monkey was wearing her rain boots. Not because it looked rainy, of course; Saturday was a gorgeous, if hot, day to stroll the zoo. The problem was when Bun, also true to form, decided she was going to do exactly what her big sister was doing. Unfortunately, Bun was not wearing her rain boots. I thought sneakers were a much more reasonable choice.

Silly me.

I could have engaged in a public battle royale with my younger daughter regarding the puddle of mud and her desire to splash in it. Changing tables wasn’t much of an option as it was already close to noon and the place was crowded. I was already sharing my table with two other moms (not the people I was here to meet, but that was okay) and their two kids.

In the end, though, I just let Bun have her fun. First of all, the mud puddle pretty much guaranteed that my children were not going to wander off. Secondly, I was able to just sit for a period of time as I looked for the people I was meeting. Third, I figured “kids playing in mud puddle” was an easy landmark. And lastly: Dirt washes off.

So Bun and Monkey tromped and splashed in the puddle. I managed to keep them from splashing others, which was good. They got some laughs, and I got some glances of sympathy. (Monkey was already getting a lot of comments as her outfit consisted of a cute little orange, red, white and black skort with a white tank — and pink rain boots.)

After us Burgh Moms finished lunch and/or snacks, I got Bun stripped out of her wet and muddy shoes, socks and shorts. For some reason I had dry shoes and socks for Monkey but not for Bun — serious oversight there — so Bun spent the rest of the walk in her stroller, bare feet propped up on her tray. She was lounging. We saw the monkeys and gorillas; all the kids seemed to like each other and get along together, although Alexis was very shy for awhile.

We took off before this fun ensued, and it took us another hour to get to the car (the Pittsburgh Zoo is BIG). Monkey developed a little crush on Gina’s boy, who (and I’m seconding Burgh Baby’s Mom here) needs to be cloned, or at least loaned to mothers of little girls for days at the zoo or similar outings. He was very sweet, and I think Monkey would have followed him into the lion’s den if he was going, and it was quite a trick to separate her from him.

Boy, you’ve got a job if you ever want one.

At bedtime, along with all the animals that we recounted seeing at the zoo, Monkey added, “And I talked to The Boy. I was very shy at first, but then I talked to him!” She smiled to herself at the memory. Oh, dear, I’ve a 3-year-old going on teen. We are so doomed!

I left that zoo sweaty and filthy — those shorts may never be clean again — but it was totally worth it to spend that time with my girls, and meet other bloggin’ moms and their kids. What a good time. Next time I meet the Burgh Moms, though, I hope air conditioning and alcohol will be involved, the kids will be at home, and nary a mud puddle will be in sight. I think I will be able to make a little better of an impression that way.

The I’m-So-Tired-Thank-Goodness-I-Found-This-Meme Meme

You know, today (yesterday by the time this posts) was the longest day of the year!

Believe me, I’m feeling it.

Lifted from the ever-funny Ms. Gina.

Hope I make it to the zoo tomorrow.

1. You have 10 dollars and need to buy snacks at a gas station. What do you get?

If I am forced to buy snacks at a gas station for myself, it’s going to be potato chips, French onion dip, a Milky Way and caffeine-free coke. If my kids are involved, probably a slushy — or the most healthful snacks one can find in a gas station.

2. If you were reincarnated as a sea creature, what would you want to be?

It would be pretty cool to be an octopus. It’d be nice to have extra arms (or legs?) for once — I’m always wishing for at least one more hand quite often these days.

3. Who’s your favorite redhead?
My mom. (And I’ve a lot to pick from in my family alone: two red-headed nephews, five redheaded cousins, their parents (both red heads) and my redheaded sister-in-law.)

4. What do you order when you’re at IHOP?
I have never ventured into an IHOP. I would order a pile of fruit-topped pancakes, though. Sure, leave on the whipped cream. And coffee!

5. Last book you read?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I’m making my way through all seven books this summer. I took a bit of a hiatus, because four Harry Potter books in a row is a lot of J.K Rowlings to take.

6. Describe your mood.
Anxious. Ready for the weekend.

7. Describe the last time you were injured.
Recently I was standing over Bun when she decided to jump. Her noggin — and all 25 pounds of baby fat behind it — went into the left side of my nose and left eye socket. I discovered what getting punched in the eye would feel like.

8. Of all your friends, who would you want to be stuck in a well with?
N! We could get caught up on everything, talk about books and movies, share some wine (we’d have some wine, right?), and reminsce about our shared past. Which means N would remind me of all the stuff (good and painfully embarrassing) we had been through together.

9. Rock concert or symphony?

10. What is the wallpaper of your cell phone?
A flower (came with the phone). To my credit, I have had pics of my kids on there, but I haven’t used my phone’s camera in awhile.

11. Favorite soda?
A soda has ice cream in it, and I am going with a root beer float. If you mean pop, then caffeine-free Coke.

12. What type of shirt are you wearing?
Bright orange T-shirt from Target. It’s casual Friday.

13. If you could only use one form of transportation?

14. Most recent movie you have watched in theater?
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

15. Name an actor/actress/singer you have had the hots for.
Naveen Andrews. Holy cow, that guy is just… almost beyond words, how sexy he is. Also, since the question is “have had”: Hugh Jackson. Although, really, Wolverine.

16. What’s your favorite kind of cake?
Chocolate with chocolate icing. This is the type of cake I ordered for Bun’s first birthday, and people hated me. I had no clue it would be such an unpopular choice. I quite enjoyed it, though. Bun had a little of the smash cake (yellow cake).

17. What did you have for dinner last night?
Channa masala (home made) and rice.

18. Look to your left, what do you see?
My kitchen.

19. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
If they are tie shoes, yes. If they are flip-flops, no.

20. Favorite toy as a child?

21. Do you buy your own groceries?
Who the hell else is going to do it?

22. Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
In a mean way? No. I’m actually pretty nice. In a good way? Possibly. About how unbelievably smart I am and/ or how hot I am for a mother over 35 years old? In my dreams.

23. Gummy Worms or Hershey Kisses?
Kisses. Hershey or otherwise!

24. What’s your favorite fruit?
I love spring/summer fruit, berries and melons. But a good, crunchy Gala apple will do the trick, too.

25. Do you have a picture of yourself doing a cartwheel?
No, but my parents probably do.

26. Do you like running long distances?
I used to run, and I did love it. I’m not sure 4 miles qualifies as a long distance though.

27. What is your secret trash food pleasure?
I don’t really like trash food. If junk food is what is meant here: see #1.

28. What color are your bedsheets?
This week: green with little white dots.

29. What’s your favorite flower?
Tulips. Except for yellow ones (I don’t know why).

30. Do you do ballet?

31. Do you listen to classical music?
Does Baby Einstein stuff count? No? Then, no. My musical tastes are not what one would call refined.

32. What is the first TV Theme song that pops in your head?
None really pop in there — I had to think about this one. I barely watch TV. It’s a tie between the song for “Greatest American Hero” and “Dora”.

33. Are you really worried about Global warming?
YES! I like my current job a lot, but I wish it was one to which I could take a bus instead of driving 30 minutes. Still trying to talk DearDR into a possible move, but it doesn’t seem likely. But the gas prices and the knowledge of what I am contributing to in terms of pollution are killin’ me.

34. What temperature is it outside right now?
Mid-70s, maybe?

35. Do people consider you smart?
Yes. And you know what, they’re right!

36. On what occasions do you lie?
I tend to lie by omission. Especially about money and what I might have spent it on. Like a bright orange T-shirt from Target. (It was $6!) Especially to DearDR (if one can said to lie to someone by omission).

37. Are you signed on [to] AIM?
No. I’m not sure what exactly this is — instant messaging of some brand?

38. Have you ever tried gluing your fingers together?
Er, no. Why would I? Why would anyone?

39. How do you feel about your family?
They are the absolutely best thing that has ever happened to me; my kids are by far the best thing I have done/will ever do. Even if I ever manage to write a best-selling book or two.

40. Do you have an iPod?
I have a Shuffle. I have used it exactly once since it was given to me (by a former boss — he gave the whole office one).

41. What time do you go to bed?
Usually around 10:30 p.m. Yeah, I’m a pansy.

42. What CD is currently in your CD player?
Which CD player? In the car, I have a children’s jazz album (i.e. Ella Fitzgerald singing “Old MacDonald”); Pearl Jam Live on Two Legs; two U2 albums, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and All You Can’t Leave Behind; and Hole Celebrity Skin. In the CD player at home, I think it’s Death Cab for Cutie Plans, Wilco Summerteeth, Billy Bragg and Wilco Mermaid Avenue and Old 97s Fight Songs. Aren’t you glad you asked?

43. What movie do you know every line to?
The Princess Bride.

44. What is your favorite salad dressing?
Balsamic Vinaigrette.

45. What do you want for Christmas this year?
World peace. Lower gas prices. My kids to have a great time. And for everyone to remember/acknowledge why it’s called Christmas.

46. What family member/friend lives the farthest from you? Where?
I have distant relatives in Ireland. For true!

47. Do you like hugs?
From my children, husband, (most) other family members, and close friends: very much yes. From people I don’t know so well, no.

48. Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Interviewing for my current job — the second face-to-face was especially intense because I wanted the job, but I was afraid I wasn’t going to get paid well. I was so relieved when I read the offer letter.

49. What’s the way people most often mispronounce any part of your name?
My married name is slaughtered regularly.

50. Last person you hugged?
Monkey, before bed last night. My children will be the next people I hug, too, when I pick them up from Day Care Lady’s today. Frankly, I spend most of my huggin’ on my children. It’s only right.

Random News & Notes: Progress

What the girls are up to:

Bun says new words every day. Her first sentence? “I want that.” Rendered phonetically: “Eyeontdat.” Picture the little pudgy hand reaching out in a grasping motion as well.

Cute — adorable, actually — but probably spells trouble for the future.

DearDR asserts that she hasn’t actually said a sentence because she doesn’t yet understand conjugation: She wants that; you want that. I understand his point, but I’m still calling it her first sentence.

Monkey’s first sentence was a question: “What is that?” Phonetically: “Wot dat?”

Bun doesn’t seem to care, she just wants “dat”. Especially if her sister has it, of course.

Holy cow, I did not realize the “must do everything older sibling is doing” phase would start at 17 months.

And who knew girls wrestled?? I’ll try to post video. As long as I don’t have to intervene to keep someone from suffocating her sister. And that can go either way.

Monkey is dressing herself. She usually does a good job, although she occasionally puts things on backwards. She has not yet insisted on picking out her own clothing. Once in a while, she will insist on wearing her rain boots, but she seems content to leave sartorial decisions to me. For now.

We went to the pediatrician and he proclaimed all ears are clear of fluid and infection. This is a relief, but I wonder how long it will last.

We have an appointment with an ENT doctor at the end of the month.

The chiropractor suggested going dairy free. I am dubious, and my pediatrician was downright nonplussed. I give him credit for not blurting out, “What crazy person told you that??” Because I saw it flit across his face before he became composed and simply said, “I have never heard of dairy affecting ear infections.”

The chiropractic literature is full of the suggestion that dairy allergies lead to ear infections. I have doubts. The pediatric literature doesn’t mention it. So… yeah.

I would like to avoid tubes for the girls as I know they will outgrow this problem. (Thanks for the comments, everyone — online and off.) At the same time, I would like to stop treating them with antibiotics, because I think we may be creating a problem down the line. I have my doubts about going non-dairy because the girls don’t really seem to have a problem with dairy — no lactose intolerance, no runny noses, etc. Plus, they usually get organic dairy, and their exposure to cow’s milk (as a beverage) is minimal. They drink fortified soy or rice “milk”.

Also, quite frankly, going completely dairy-free is next to impossible. I am a label-reader because of the vegetarian thing anyway. I challenge you to find food without some kind of dairy (casein, whey, non-fat milk, you name it). Fresh fruits and veggies are about it. And very expensive organic cookies. But even “Veggie Slices” is loaded with dairy; it just doesn’t contain lactose, which is the most common culprit of gastric distress in those who can’t tolerate dairy.

In short: lots going on, as per usual. We probably will not go dairy-free — I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I feel pretty good that despite the ear infections Bun’s language development is moving right along. No doubt her next sentence will be, “I’m going to scream if I don’t get that.” Oh, wait. She doesn’t really need language per se for that, huh?

At least she is signing “please”.

I Have Seen the Future

(and it broke my heart a little bit.)

Picture Monkey, arms stretched to the sky. She is wearing a cute peasant skort and a white tank top. She is dancing under bubbles that float up and up to the sky.

She is joy embodied; she is arms and legs and feet and hair and blue eyes and smiles and freedom.

And I flash to her at 16, or 18, or 22 years old, laughing and free. And I know any boy looking at her will surely lose his heart. And when I see it happen I will think of this day, the day my daughter was dancing under bubbles with skinned knees.

And I will think, “That was yesterday.”

For now I can say it: It was yesterday. And I hope I always carry that yesterday in my heart and in my head. We will need those yesterdays: we mothers, and we daughters, and all of us who have ever loved.

All those yesterdays for all those tomorrows.

Year Five

It’s an odd time of the year for me.

It’s the time of the year when I think most about Gabriel. He would be 5 years old this year, tomorrow.

I usually think of Gabriel at least once every day. Often just in passing. It’s especially poignant when I am with my nephews and niece and my children all together. As much love as I have for them all, I feel with a little bit of my heart that there is a child missing.

A child is missing. I am missing a child.

I feel in dwelling on him, as I do around this time of year (starting Mother’s Day, and going through the anniversary of his delivery), that I run the risk of seeming self-indulgent. That I run the risk of seeming ungrateful.

I am extremely blessed in my marriage and my family. I have two wonderful girls who fill my life and my heart, fill it to overflowing. I thank God every day for what he has bestowed on me.

And I still miss my little boy.

Although here’s a confession: I forgot to miss him a little bit recently.

Around Mother’s Day this year, I looked ahead to the anniversary of Gabriel’s delivery.

I noticed it was on a Sunday, so I talked briefly to DearDR about going to go to church as a family, then to the cemetery, then to lunch. He agreed.

But DearDR has his own ritual about Gabriel. He usually marks June 4, as this is the day that Gabriel actually died.

So on Tuesday, when he mentioned he had taken Wednesday off, I was very surprised.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, I didn’t take it totally off,” he said. “I have two late appointments.”

“Oh. Why did you take most of the day off?”

“I have a physical tomorrow, first of all,” he explained. “With a new doctor.

“And I was going to go to the cemetery.”

With a jolt, I realized the date. I also realized that I had “forgotten” to think about Gabriel, to miss him. In kind of a knee-jerk reaction, I felt guilty. Which I almost immediately knew was ridiculous.

I have been wrapped up in the everyday details and stressors of my life — what I recently referred to as “the daily” — full-time/overtime work, a household to run, bills to pay, children for whom to care, ear infections with which to deal. Sometimes I forget what day it is, let alone what date it is.

Second, I have set aside the day I consider to be the day to mark Gabriel’s… passage.

And because of these two things, I actually hadn’t given much thought to my son in recent days. When I realized that, I felt bad. Then I got a hold of myself.

I shouldn’t feel guilty for forgetting to think about Gabriel. He is in my heart every day, if not always in my head.

And I shouldn’t feel self-indugent thinking about him, and continuing to commemorate the day I feel is most appropriate. Grief doesn’t have a deadline. There is no day that I will wake up free from my sorrow at having lost a child. It’s just not going to happen. I will never forget my uncle, who lost a 22-year-old son more than two decades ago, saying after Gabriel’s death, “Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s time to ‘get over it’. You’ll never get over it.” As difficult as that is to hear, it is also a relief.

Someday I will wonder what kind of teenager he would have been had he lived. I will tell his sisters about him — we tell them now; we take them to the grave with us, but I am sure they won’t understand for a few years. And I will continue to write about him. And tomorrow, we will put white flowers on his grave. And let him know: We will never forget.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat: The Sick Cycle

I didn’t write a lot about what was going on with us last week for two reasons. One was I wanted to get that post about X and The Ex off my plate. It was something I really wanted to write about, and I knew if I got involved in “the daily” I wouldn’t get it done.

Two, I wasn’t having a lot of fun.

Since I have come back to work, the girls have suffered several infections and ailments (some mysterious). I don’t know that the two are connected, although it is hard to dismiss the coincidence. The most stressful part of it (aside from having sick children) is dealing with it long distance.

As a typical example, I will get a phone call from Day Care Lady:

DCL: Monkey/Bun is running a fever.
Me: How high is it?
DCL: Oh, about 100 degrees.
Me: How has she seemed?
DCL: She’s a little fussy. But she ate well. OR: She’s screaming her head off/Telling me her ear really, really hurts. She won’t play/eat/nap.
Me: Should I come get her?
DCL: It’s up to you.

So then I agonize about whether or not I should leave work, and phone the pediatrician’s office in the meantime. If I get an evening appointment, it goes: pick up kids, take Sick Kid and Well Child to doctor’s office where Sick Kid cries and cries while Well Child jumps around and is loud to get the attention that Sick Kid is getting from Mommy and The Doctor, hear Sick Kid has another ear infection (or two), get prescription for antibiotics, leave office, try to get dinner into kids, run to pharmacy to fill prescription, keep kids occupied while prescription is filled (this is why we go to the Target pharmacy), go home, wash/bathe children, get them in pajamas, get medicine into the sick one, get milk and/or cookies into children while they watch a video, read books, sing lullabies, collapse into exhausted heap on couch, drink a beer, go to bed my own self.

One or two days later: Repeat with formerly Well Child as Sick Kid.

My father-in-law has taken Sick Kid on one or two occasions; he was the one on hand the day DearDR had to get to work and we had the paperwork for the medical proxy. Then I am on the phone with him and the doctor, listening to Sick Kid crying in the background. This is stressful for all of its own reasons, including the fact that my FIL — as much as I do love the man — is kind of useless with the kids. He gets them to the pediatrician’s office, and gets them back to DCL, and that’s about it. He doesn’t ask the doctor anything — hence I am sitting at my desk 30 miles away talking on the phone; he doesn’t really listen to the doctor; he doesn’t drop off the prescription to be filled. (He thinks we should get our prescriptions filled at a different, closer, pharmacy. He is not all about the multitasking possibilities of Target.)

It would be much better if Bella were our medical proxy, but Bella has a lot on her plate already. Nanny is not doing very well. (Additionally, my grandmother, up in Erie, is not doing well either.) More details on this in another post.

The most frequent diagnosis has been ear infection. They have each had four in the past five months — on two occasions (if memory serves), both of Bun’s ear have been infected.

The upshot of all of this is that my girls have been referred to an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist. I have an appointment at the end of the month.

I am having a lot of regrets about my use of antibiotics. My thinking at the time was simply, “Oh, it’s just an infection. It’ll go away with this medicine.” And, true to form, the infection did go away. For awhile. But then the infection, or another infection, came back. Again, and again, and again. In Monkey’s case, she took a break from the ear infection to get a throat infection.

I wish I had taken the “wait-and-see” approach to the ear infections. As in “wait 48 hours to see if the infection clears up on its own, treating the pain and low-grade fever with ibuprophen and/or acetiminophen”. Many an ear infection will just clear up on its own, according to the literature.

There is a chance, of course, that I would be right back where I am, only having put my children through a couple more days of pain first. So there is no point in beating myself up about it.

But now I keep thinking about facing a man, an expert doctor-type man, who is going to tell me to put tubes in my children’s ears, and saying, “No thank you. They’ll outgrow it.”

I need some ammunition people. I will be doing my own research, of course.

Or, if you or someone you know thinks tubes are the way to go, some encouragement in that direction. DCL says tubes are awesome (her oldest son got them as an infant). My father advises passionately against them.

I should explain here that as an infant and a toddler I had ear infection after ear infection. The last course of treatment my pharmacist parents agreed to was one month of 1 teaspoon of amoxicillin daily. I recall having a couple ear infections as an older child, too, around 5 or 6 years old. But ultimately, I did not get tubes, and I’m fine (my ears are fine, in any case — I’m a bit of a loon, frankly).

Advice welcome; assvice will be submitted for ridicule. Thanks.