Random Thoughts: The Why Bother Edition

I’m just going to stop going to bed. There is no sense in it. I am up until at least 10 p.m. getting my house in order, packing lunches, folding laundry, and so on. Then I wake up at midnight. Then I wake up again at 2 a.m. Then I wake up at 4 a.m. Sometimes I actually have to get out of bed to give my fussing baby a binky (oh, the humanity); sometimes I bring him to bed with me to help him settle down and to snuggle. Full-time work does not leave me enough cuddling time with my baby. But then I lay there (lie there?) listening to him snort and whistle, suck on his binky, and breathe.

Think of all the things I’ll get done: the thank-you cards for Michael’s baptism (more than a month ago); exercise; more blog posting! Of course, I’m losing coherency as it is — less sleep, if it’s possible to get even less sleep, is really going to mess me up.

What I really want is a night that I don’t wake up. At all. A night that I sleep from 10 at night until 5 in the morning. It’s still not 8 hours, but I’ll take shorter hours if I can get them in one big, lovely, uninterrupted chunk.


I’m not sure I’m going to bother making dinner anymore. When we get home in the evenings, my daughters descend on the refrigerator and the pantry with its store of snacks, and before I can even get warmed over leftovers on the table, they have had two packets of fruit snacks and three cheese sticks each. If I put these things out of reach, I will never have peace, nor will I be able to tend to Michael effectively, but I’m tired of my healthy meals going to waste. You would think that maybe weekends would be better, that we would have the opportunity to eat as a family.

You would be wrong. I cooked a nice dinner yesterday, but while I was out shopping, and fighting with Kate (see below), Dan fixed himself a pizza, so he wasn’t hungry. Once dinner was made, the girls were more interested in playing the Wii than eating. But I was starving, and I knew I had to tend to Michael. So I let Dan continue to play the Wii with the girls; I had dinner while Michael hung out; then I got him to bed. The girls declared they were hungry at 7 p.m., and I made Dan feed them so I could stay with Michael.

I’m tired of struggling for family meal time that no one seems to care about but me.


I am also going to stop taking Kate out in public with me. Especially shopping. Every step in a shopping trip with Kate is a fight. She wants to walk, but she won’t stay near me; she wants to touch everything, and sometimes everyone; I put her in the cart, and she climbs out. She threatens to throw things out of the cart; she threatens to throw things at me; she tells me she hates me; she threatens to kick/scratch/bite me.

I threaten to cry, and turn her over to her father when we return home.

I’m not kidding, and I’m not exaggerating. Of the, say, five trips I have taken outside of the house with the girls lately, on four of them Kate has been impossible to handle. I would throw in the towel and stop shopping altogether, but I have to get out of my house some how, some time.

What am I doing wrong? What can I do better?

What I Learned From TV Land

Aside from all kinds of forensic science.

Sometimes, you can only take so much children’s television. Even Phineas and Ferb palls after repeated viewings.

At the same time, though, not much I would choose to watch is appropriate for my children.

Enter the DIY Network. This is completely appropriate to watch with your children (or, in my case, watch while your children play with Littlest Pet Shops). It’s educational, even, teaching Flora and Kate about the difference between cork flooring and laminate, for instance.

The downside to watching the DIY Network, for me, was realizing that basically my whole house looks a lot like many of the “before” rooms on the shows. Especially my upstairs bathroom and my kitchen. They need a lot — and I mean A LOT — of work. If my husband or I ever see Matt Muenster or Josh Temple (Bath Crashers and House Crashers hosts, respectively) in our local home improvement store, we will unabashedly tackle him and drag him home with us.

The good part is that I have realized that little things, incremental changes, can be quick fixes that aren’t too expensive. Dan and I watched a Sweat Equity clip about crown molding and a frame shelf that would look great in our front room. And Dan is handy enough that he could do it, given the time. Plus, I think Flora knows how to use power tools now.

Cooking shows are also a safe bet, but they do cook a lot of meat on those shows, and we don’t eat much of that around here.

One show that became a guilty pleasure (and I get to watch it On Demand, too) is TLC’s What Not to Wear. I was a little afraid to tune into this, because I thought Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would be too snarky. I am a firm believer that our society could use less snark and more constructive criticism. I couldn’t even tell you WHY I ended up watching this show for the first time. NCIS must not have been on.

Anyhoo, what I like about the show is the amount of constructive criticism that Stacy and Clinton provide. They really encourage the women on their show to find the clothes that let their inner beauty show on the outside. They emphasize sophistication, style, fit, and colors or patterns. It’s fun to see women rediscover their shapes, celebrating curves (or creating them), and finding clothes — well made, stylish clothes — that enhance what the women have. Some of the shows were heartrending (although they had good outcomes), with women confronting their esteem issues or body issues. I couldn’t believe how hard it was for some of these women to use the words “pretty” or “sexy” to describe themselves! I also really enjoyed watching some “tomboys” realize that fashion wasn’t a shallow wasteland of girlie girls. Some of them even bought dresses!

As fun as it was to watch people spend $5000 of someone else’s money on nice clothes, it is sobering to realize that I rock the “mom uniform” (capris, athletic shoes, t-shirt and hoodie) pretty hard, and no one is going to give me $5000 to change that. Otherwise, I think I dress pretty well, and I doubt I would be nominated for this show.

It is striking to me how many moms end up on the show. And they almost all say the same thing: they don’t shop for themselves, they don’t take care of themselves, they don’t think of themselves. This is why fashion and looking good often take a back seat to utility. But I understand it — we mothers don’t have TIME. We don’t have time to put ourselves first and buy nice, well-made clothes that fit us. We are running on the principal of “good enough” where good enough usually means it covers what it’s supposed to. It takes a lot of time to shop for clothes. I mean, hours. Clothes that fit, that mix and match, accessories that go with the clothes. In general, shopping for clothes is not something you want to do with your children in tow. Maybe this will change when the girls are older… although that is conjuring its own shudder-inducing images.

Do you shop with your kids? How do you shop for clothes? What’s your biggest fashion faux pas? Do you think anyone would ever nominate you for What Not to Wear? What’s your guilty viewing pleasure?

What I Did on Maternity Leave

Aside from the obvious of course.

I watched a lot of television. Cable has spoiled me, because I can get just about anything on demand. So I discovered some new shows.

First off, I watched a few “alphabet soup” dead body shows: CSI:, NCIS, NCIS:LA. A couple of channels run marathons of these shows, and I have always really liked the original CSI:, with William Petersen as Gil Grissom, and NCIS. NCIS:LA isn’t as good as the original (natch), but it’s been pretty fun viewing. Same with the House marathons.

I seem to have become a USA (the channel, not the country) junkie. I love a bunch of their original series: psych, White Collar, Royal Pains, Fairly Legal, Burn Notice. I also discovered some network television gems, like Cougar Town (it makes me laugh out loud every episode), Parenthood, and, most recently, Mr. Sunshine (Allison Janney’s character is HILARIOUS). I also watched a lot of the DIY network, and TLC’s What Not to Wear, and I’ll write more about those later.

Parenthood is a little weird to watch, but I still love it. First, it’s like they uploaded my dad in the character of Craig T. Nelson. Second, it’s like watching my future life, in a way, with some of the issues they present, especially the episodes with the teen girls. Hattie runs away from home because her parents don’t want her dating a 19-year-old recovering alcoholic (totally down with that!); one mother wants to hear her daughter’s music, but can’t offer constructive criticism. It’s awkward and endearing, and I tend to think of it as a training video, only with really good acting. Basically it’s equipping me and Dan to deal with some of this stuff in the future. Isn’t it?

I had hoped to get more done, especially around the house. I DID clean out my refrigerator, which my mother will be glad to read. I basically had to, because although my daughters have kinda learned to fend for themselves, spillage is still a common occurrence. Spilling lemonade in the refrigerator is something you have to take care of right away. I got way behind on laundry somehow — must have been all those pressing social engagements — and although I did not get it reset to zero for this week, I made a lot of progress last week, even though I was home with an infant and a sick Kate. Now I just need a plan to stay on top of it.

I’ve set up a system for the mail. It basically means tossing everything that’s not a bill. And — this is huge, people — I’ve organized my coupons, and I’m going to continue to organize and use them.

Exciting stuff, I know.

However, I’ve given up on the office. I cannot make headway in there, regardless of what I have tried. Sometime this spring, Dan and I are going to have to do an office/basement purge, have a crap sale (otherwise known as a yard sale), make donations of whatever is left, and move along already. It breaks my heart, because it would be a great room, but we cannot seem to decide to use the space for more than crap storage. The kids’ arts and crafts stuff and some of their board games are in there, and I fear for their safety when they go to fetch things. Otherwise, I am using my dining room table for writing notes and paying bills, and that’s how it’s going to be.

Other stuff we didn’t get done: nailing down a budget, which is even more important now that we bought the house where Dan’s practice is and we have three children in daycare; the tax forms to mail to the accountant, which we need to do by the end of the month so we can figure out if/what we owe; cleaning (out) our bedroom. Also, I have a lot of maternity clothes I’d like to take to a consignment store somewhere!

BUT we know we need to do these things. And they will get done.

Also, I didn’t read very much. It’s much easier to read when you breastfeed than when you bottle feed (probably why I watched so much television). But I couldn’t even do that, because when I was BF’ing, I was doing compressions because M’s latch was so bad. Then I was reading in 15 minute spurts when I was pumping. I managed to read a few of the Thursday Next books by Jasper Fford (very entertaining; I’m chipping away at the fourth book), Drood by Dan Simmons (pointless), and Let Me In, a brilliant addition to vampire fiction.

I’m curious to see how we all adjust to me being back at work. I thought I would be sadder, but I’ve made my peace with it for now. I had been hoping for part-time hours… but, more on that later and elsewhere. I know that my vocation, my calling from God, is to be, first and foremost, a wife and mother. Working is part of that, and if things need to change for me to be a better wife and mother, then they will change. I can’t stress about it, because then I won’t be good at anything.

It would help if I could sleep a little better. It’s unfair to have an infant who sleeps so well, while I am tossing with insomnia at 3 a.m. That’s gotta get resolved. And I need to find a way to start to exercise — which probably is going to interfere with sleep.

All-in-all, it was a good leave, a good time to be with my little boy. I hope that going forward, we all continue to thrive and grow. And get more organized!

Baby Worn

Michael doesn’t nap. Or he doesn’t nap *much*. Or for very long. Or in any kind of predicable pattern that I can set my day by.

This, along with the whole latching issue, is unfamiliar territory. My girls were easy to breastfeed (“easy” being a relative term; don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that breastfeeding isn’t work and doesn’t take commitment: it is and it does, and it’s totally worth it. I’m still grieving not breastfeeding M, but this is not that post); they also were champion nappers. Two times a day for the first year; usually for an hour or three. It was great.

Michael is not a champion napper. Sometimes he naps for 20 minutes up to five times a day; sometimes he naps for two hours, then three hours in two naps; sometimes he takes a long nap, and then the rest of the day dozes on and off while he’s eating.

I’ve tried wearing him to encourage deeper napping. Michael does not often like this, and he makes his dislike quite well known. Sometimes I have the patience to wait him out — if I wait long enough, and he’s tired enough, he will pass out. Sometimes, not so much. Plus, let’s face it: baby wearing has its limitations. Can’t drive a car wearing a baby; can’t take a shower.

However, to his credit, my baby sleeps at night.

Well, mostly. Around 4 or 5 (or 3) in the morning, M loses his binky (nuk, paci, pacifier, whatever you call it). And he snorts and grunts. And burbles and whines a little. And snuffles. Really loudly.

So I get up, go to his room, find his binky, stick it back in his mouth, and go back to bed. For two minutes. And then again. And then again, and then I get fed up, and take him, his binky, and my sleepy self back to my bed for another hour (maybe) of rest. That’s if my insomnia doesn’t kick in, and I’m lying there with a sleeping infant, a snoring husband, and racing thoughts. So unfair.

I feel terrible when I think things at Michael, like, “I can’t wait until you can sit up.” Or, as I’m feeding him a bottle — after preparing and heating it — “I can’t wait until you’re eating real food.”

Because these things are fast forward in time. And time? She goes fast enough my friends.

Next week I return to work. My baby will only be 11 weeks old.

I love so many of the things of having a baby: the coos and smiles, especially the sleepy ones; the fat thighs and belly; the baby skin. I love Michael’s intensity and his reality. And I hate wishing he were older, even if it would in some ways be easier for me.

Because someday, I’m going to blink, and he’s going to be standing up in his crib waiting for me to get him in the morning. And then he’ll be 10 (and Flora will be 16, God help her father, and Kate will be 14, God help us all). And then I’ll be standing behind a frazzled mother of young children in Target, and I’ll say the thing to her that I have heard a few dozen times: “It goes so fast.”

It does, my friends. It really does. So I hate thinking, “Go faster.” I have to take a deep breath and remember, it’s fast enough.

Minor Surgery, Major Headache

Suddenly this past week, I had to have surgery.

It was very minor surgery of a womanly nature (and that’s all you need to know), but, man, the logistics were a pain in the butt!

If my in-laws had been in town, it probably would have been easier. They are down in Florida on a well-deserved vacation. The timing sucked for us — but, hey, it’s not all about us!

About 20 phone calls and texts later, I finally had everything set up. Michael would go to Day Care Lady (yeah, that one) for the day, which would serve as a trial run. She will probably be watching him for a few months until we move him to the girls’ daycare. Flora would be in school and then daycare; Kate would be in daycare all day. I have been having them only go part-time for a bit because I’ve been off of work.

Because they were giving me IV sedation, I had to have transportation, too. Dan drove me to the hospital and stayed until I woke up — thank goodness, because I got really nervous waiting for the procedure. The whole thing happened really fast, and I didn’t feel in control. Of course, I wasn’t in control — I seldom am, but I like the operate under the illusion that I’m in control. Who doesn’t? My sister-in-law J was going to pick up Michael and stay with me and the kids until Dan got home. She cooked dinner, too, which was great since I had fasted all day and was FAMISHED. My sister-in-law K picked me up from the hospital, picked up the girls, and brought us all home.

I hated leaving Michael for the day. I haven’t followed up with DCL yet, although J reported that when she got to DCL’s and walked in, DCL said, “Is he always this fussy?”

Yes, yes he is.

Once again, I was reminded how lucky I am to live near family. It has got to be difficult to have kids when family is further away. I understand why people have to do it, but given what I went through just to get through a few hours one day, I can’t imagine what has to happen when sisters-in-law and other family are far away.

Two Months, One Day

M has nearly doubled his weight, coming in at 12 pounds today at the pediatrician’s office. Developmentally, he’s right on, lifting his head about 45 degrees, pushing with his legs, reacting to sounds.

And smiling. Smiling at me, especially. I get gooey just thinking about it.

He sleeps well, even going through the night a few times. Although he’s a noisy baby (like his big sister Flora was), snoring and groaning and grunting sometimes. Sometimes I wake up when he’s restless waiting to see if he’s going to wake up himself. Often, he just settles back into deeper sleep. Sometimes he comes all the way awake and demands a bottle.

I love all these baby stages. I have yet to get a smile on camera, but I won’t stop trying!

He’s outgrowing the fussy stage a bit, although evenings are still the fussiest time of day. He’s most pleasant in the morning, which just proves that Dan and I aren’t his real parents.

The pediatrician just told me to keep doing what I’m doing, a parent’s favorite thing to hear.