Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hide and Seek, Sort Of

Calliope has just discovered Hide And Seek.

Susie taught it to her. It was one of those little things that had never occurred to me... thinking about when peekaboo might turn into full-body hiding. (She's still a huge fan of peekaboo games.)

Tonight she hid around the corner from me. And after a moment, called out, "Mommy, come! Hide!" And held out her hand to me.

"But Calliope, if I hide with you, who will find us?"

"Mommy come hide."

So we hid together.

A moment later, she understood the limitations of hiding together, and scampered off to her room. Obediently, I started to count to ten... as she counted out loud along with me, from her "hiding" spot in her room.

"Ready or not, here I come!"

And then, too excited to wait, she came running out to find me.

With a saw.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Night Training?

Calliope's become a bit of a nudist lately. In the crib. When she's supposed to be sleeping.

She kept her diaper dry (and usually, on) for her last three naps, so I asked Susie today to put Calliope down for a nap without a diaper. For the first time... except for those two instances where Crappy Mommy simply forgot to put a diaper on for nap time. Those two times, Calliope woke up wet and miserable.

This time, the nanny reminded her, and as per my request, changed her into baggy pajama bottoms with no underwear (or "pahn-tees" as Calliope now calls them, as Susie calls them (that's "panties" with in Spanish, for the uninitiated). Skipping underwear was key to her success for daytime training for the first month or so, so I was hopeful it would help this time around as well.


She woke up dry.

So that's four days in a row. Only one without a diaper. Well, plus the one where she removed the diaper at some point. I don't know if it was before or after sleeping.

A few nights ago, and again tonight, I went in to find Calliope in her crib at night without her pajama bottoms and diaper. And since she always wakes up with a wet diaper in the morning, I'm confounded.

I could just duct tape the diaper on. But she seems so determined. I want to honor that. But I am doubtful that she is physically capable of staying dry all night.

But I guess if she stays dry for a few more naps, maybe I will throw caution to the wind, or the washing machine, and try putting her to bed without a diaper. Am I supposed to then wake her up to put her on the potty before I go to bed? Or just let her try it out, without assistance from me? I hate to push her before she's ready... but if she has the desire, does that mean she's ready?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Testing Limits

Lots and lots of limit testing over here. And I'm really struggling with it. Because it's little stupid stuff.

Like tonight, she was bouncing all over her crib. Literally, jumping up and down.

So I said, "If you want me to cover you with the blanket, you need to lie down by the time I count to three. One, two, three."

And she kept bouncing until I got to three... and then, one second later, lay down.

And I feel like, geez, it's only one second, what's the big deal?

But on the flip side, I think, well, I told her she had until the count of three... and she understood that perfectly well. She's testing me. And needs to see that I set clear limits. So she needs me to follow through on my threat?

So I said, "nope, too late. We can try again tomorrow night."

And walked out.

And she cried. "Banket! Banket peez!"

And I didn't go back.

And felt like an ogre. As she cried piteously. For possibly as long as a minute.

And then resumed her joyful playtime in the crib.

"Tinkle Tinkle"

Calliope's rendition of "Tinkle Tinkle"

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Calliope's First Narrative

Calliope, "Boppy (pacifier) is sad."

Me, "Why is Boppy sad?"

Calliope, "Boppy is crying."

Me, "Why is Boppy crying?"

Calliope, "Mommy's sad."

Me, "Why is Mommy sad?"

Calliope, "She wants Boppy. It's (she's) too big!"

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sick Girl Went to the Doctor

The rest of the night was quieter, with only 3-4 visits to anxiously check on Calliope. I turned off the damn monitor at some point -- too many whines that I didn't need to hear -- but kept my bedroom door ajar for the more serious upsets.

It's a weird Mommy ability, this thing where you find yourself vaulting across the room and down the hall before your brain has registered consciousness.

The wheezing seemed better during the night though she developed a slight fever.

I wanted to make sure she was wheezing when we went to the doctor, so she could see what was really going on, but not wheezing enough to make my girl seriously uncomfortable.

So I gave her just one puff on the inhaler, which seemed perfect. She stopped wheezing for a little while, but it was back in full force by the time we were safely at the doctor's office.

We did a couple more puffs at the doctor's office, and walked out armed with a fistful of prescriptions for oral steroids, inhaled steroids, a nebulizer, and saline respules for the nebulizer. I am to give Calliope the oral steroids for 3-5 days and the inhaled steroids at least until the end of March. Yikes. I know it's a tiny amount of medication -- less than a five day course of oral steroids -- but it just sounds so serious, daily steroids.

And she's got a diagnosis of possible asthma.

The doctor, once again, couldn't locate Calliope's eardrums, given her abundant ear wax (sorry, TMI), but decided not to stress poor Calliope with more searching, given that Calliope didn't have a fever.

Naturally, her temperature went up to 101.3 this afternoon.

So now I will spend Thanksgiving week anticipating having to take next Monday off work to get an ear infection diagnosed.

Just like I -- accurately -- predicted that she'd be getting sick just before Thanksgiving.

I talked to my mom, my sister, and my cousin, and luckily everyone is relatively content with the new plan for Calliope and me to stay with my cousin, to shield my mom and her compromised immune system from Calliope's hacking cough.

Now there's just the horrible weather forecast on Wednesday to worry about... Being stuck for hours in an airport with a less-than-fully-well toddler during naptime could be very, very ugly. I know there are bigger problems in the world but oh, I could appreciate some luck on this front!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Sick Night

I noticed that Calliope had a slightly runny nose when we came in from the playground yesterday. I thought maybe it was just from the cold air.

Then she started coughing in her sleep yesterday, resulting in a dramatically shortened nap.

This morning her cough was a little more productive, though still totally within the realm of normal for a toddler in wintertime. We went with our friends to the toddler gym this morning, and Calliope had a ball. She totally owned the somersault ramp. No one else could match her. But she was beyond tuckered out afterwards, and wailed most of the way home.

She coughed a bit more on the car ride back home, and I remarked to Amy, "you know, I have a feeling she's going to be wheezing by tomorrow."

Just to be on the safe side, I gave her a puff on her inhaler before nap (no lunch -- too tired). But she woke up, again from coughing, wheezing. I gave her two more puffs before we went out to buy milk and fruit, then to visit our downstairs neighbors.

By bedtime she was worse, and even my friend Emily could hear, without prompting, the wheezing.

I gave two more puffs off the inhaler (which she uses with a device called a spacer, which enables just about anyone to use it successfully, even babies) and put her to bed.

She's been up multiple times, talking and crying in her sleep, and this most recent time, looked like she was working much too hard to breathe.

So I anxiously called the doctor's after-hours hotline.

The doctor said I can give the inhaler as often as every three hours. But if she needs the medicine as often as every 1-2 hours, or if her respiratory rate reaches 50-60 (currently it's 38), I have to take her to the emergency room. Otherwise we go to the doctor's office first thing in the morning.

Of course, while I was talking to the doctor, Calliope was cheerfully building a tower on the floor, and kept asking loudly "I talk?" while I was trying to concentrate. And as I was saying goodbye, she chimed in cheerfully, "Goodbye! Goodbye!"

Luckily, I guess, I'm sure the doctor could also probably hear Calliope's hacking cough in the background so I don't sound quite so ridiculous.

I really, really don't want to drag my toddler to the emergency room tonight! Praying that her breathing gets better and we both get to sleep.

Regardless, I will be taking yet another sick day tomorrow to bring her to the pediatrician.

Now to worry about exposing my mom, who is undergoing chemotherapy, to Calliope's germy little self. I was so sure that this was going to happen. I mean, what are the odds of a toddler staying healthy for two weeks in a row during the winter months? Last week she was both healthy and off antibiotics, so this seemed inevitable.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

I've Got Peas Like a River In My Soul

We were listening to Elizabeth Mitchell, my favorite children's music, and I was singing along to "I Got Peace Like a River" and Calliope, clearly confused, asked for frozen peas.

Then see said, "Hold it. I want-a hold it."

I carefully handed her the open bag, watched her pick a couple out, then turned my back for a moment.

This was the inevitable result.

Bad Photos, Without Organization. Awesome!

Building towers with Ellie. Ellie is modeling Calliope's awesome new boots... that Calliope refused to try on.

The beautiful challah we made together for the first time

Eleanor getting super creative with her outfit

A thank you note at work

Wintertime swinging

My faithful workout partner

Super nanny Susie is SO silly!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Calliope's Been Up To

Talking talking talking.

Her speech is changing weekly. She's almost, but not quite, speaking in completely full sentences. Direct object pronouns have entered the scene.

So now she says things like, "I don't see it, Mommy."

It's the strangest thing, language acquisition.

Yet every night when I come home and she says something, I'm surprised by how babyish her little voice sounds, despite that relatively grown up grammar.

She heard beeping out our window and said, "Truck backing up! I hear it!"

She's very, very interested in all vehicles. Particularly rescue vehicles. Seeing a fire engine with sirens blaring makes her whole morning. Luckily we live on a busy street in a very large city so odds are good that if we are out, we will see a rescue vehicle of some sort. She also loves "hele-tockers" (helicopters).

The other night I woke up at to hear her calling, loudly, "More water 'peez' Mommy! More water 'peez'!" over and over again. We've been working on manners, saying please and thank you, for a while now... but I didn't expect her to be so polite at 3 am.

Another form of etiquette we've been working on is taking turns. This was really hard for her at first, but she and Eleanor have gotten pretty great at it, actually. One of the things that delights me about their relationship is that when Calliope rushes to get her turn being tossed in the air by Eleanor's daddy, Eleanor watches and giggles, a huge grin on her face, just as amused at the sight of Calliope flying through the air as when it was her turn. And then when it's Eleanor's turn again, Calliope squeals with delight at the sight of her pal having so much fun.

I continue to be amazed by their relationship. The girls have been together eight hours a day (Calliope has almost two hours alone with the nanny each morning before Eleanor arrives) since they were three months old. Obviously I've never had twins, but I think there are a lot of similarities. Calliope looks for Eleanor each and every day. Even on weekends, she is eager to visit her pal. If she gets to do something special at home, she asks anxiously, "Ellie's turn?"

They like to sit on the Stokke booster seat together. When they had ice cream as a special treat last Friday, Calliope carefully fed the last drops in her bowl to Eleanor.

I've been thinking a little bit lately about moving to Boston, to be closer to family, and the thought of separating these two girls breaks my heart. Which seems so silly. Of course they'd be fine. But their bond is so special. I want to preserve it, just for its beauty to my own eyes.

In other developments, she just figured out how to stack differently shaped boxes to make a tower. Seems like a small thing, but it has taken her many months to figure it out.

Her climbing skills still garner her some strange looks at the playground. And I watch as she executes perfect somersaults in her crib at naptime. Thank goodness she does, eventually, go to sleep.

She's totally recovered from all her illnesses, but doesn't seem to have fully regained her lusty appetite from before she was sick. But she's certainly eating enough, across the average day, that I'm not worried. But I'm hoping to work on expanding her repertoire once again. I was so proud of her progress... now it's time to try again. Tonight I made one of her favorites, "tato pies." (That's "sweet potato fries" to the uninitiated. She adores them. Even for breakfast.)

She has learned one day of the week, Friday. Because she looks forward to our new tradition, Shabbat celebration, on Fridays. Last week she asked, "Pink ice cream on 'Fyday'?"

I have no idea where she got this idea from. But I readily agreed. So now I think 'Fyday' will be known for lighting candles, drinking juice, eating challah... and eating ice cream.

I hadn't celebrated Shabbat in my home since I was a child, but since Calliope has learned the rituals and loves them, it is becoming a part of my life again. It's funny how things go full circle that way.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Romance Update

I've been hesitant to share much on here about my budding romance, partly due to respect to Old Flame's privacy, and partly because it's been a bit up and down. I wasn't sure what I felt, and what I wanted.

My brother had told me that he thought I was "afraid to ask for what I needed" and that was why I was feeling unclear on what I wanted.

A few days ago, my friend asked me if I wanted him to be my boyfriend, and I said, "I have no idea."

But then he and I had a good talk recently and I tried to be more clear and say, "look, at our current level of communication, I find myself retreating. And then you come for a visit and it's like trying to start from square one all over again. I need to talk more, please." (Trying to follow my brother's advice of actually asking for what I need.)

And lo and behold... we talked a lot more this week. And despite a snafu on Thursday night, when he arrived on Saturday morning... it was great! He met us at the playground where we were hanging out with my SMC friend Emily and her five year old. We greeted each other with a quick hug and a sly grin but it just felt so comfortable from the first moment. I didn't feel like I was trying hard.

And that is the difference that I find, dating as a single mom. I'm so much more clear on who I am and what I need. And by extension, what I don't need.

So when I wake up at seven (before Calliope), I'm fine to slide out of bed and into my bathrobe, to check email for a few minutes, then greet her with a sippy cup of milk. She sits on her potty then dons her bathing suit and we fire up Insanity for our mother-daughter weekend workout. I "let" him sleep two more hours after I got up... and was happy about it. In a previous life, I might have felt like I was "supposed" to stay in bed if he was.

Likewise, if he wants to take a nap while Calliope naps, I don't mind. I just come in the living room and check email or practice the banjo or do one of a hundred other things that nurture me. What I don't do is think, "I can't believe he's wasting a precious minute of our brief weekend together."

Maybe none of you were ever this unhealthy in a relationship, but I think I might have been at times.

So that feels really good. I feel healthier than I ever have in a relationship before.

Last night and today we had some good conversations about our relationship. And for the first time, I said what I wanted, without waiting for him to take the initiative.

First I said, "I think we should have a conversation about sexual monogamy." He agreed.

I said, "I'm not having sex with anyone else."

He said, "I'm not either."

"Good," I replied. And that was that.

And a few minutes later, "I feel like we are seeing each other."

He laughed and said, "That does seem to be the case."

Voila, relationship defined, low drama style.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Look Who's Talking (...Too)

Calliope has a special fondness for the word "too," and likes to sprinkle into sentences wherever she can. So, for example, if I'm doing something, she says, "I help you, too." Even though she's just "helping," not "helping too." She also likes to invite me to do things with her, like going to her bedroom, "Mommy come, too?" (Where a simple "Mommy come?" would suffice.)

A phrase that can be funny, or decidedly unfunny, depending on my mood, is "Give it back to me!" With or without a "please" tacked on to the end. She uses this even when it's something of mine that she's never had. It sounds very grown up and obnoxious, which sometimes cracks me up. Just because I'm not used to hearing this sort of mature attitude from my twenty-six month old.

Yesterday she woke up from her two hour afternoon nap in a foul mood. She kept asking for "the pink medicine" (amoxicillin), which she has grown to love, especially because she gets a square of dark chocolate for cooperating (I tried other rewards, like Skittles, but my girl likes her dark chocolate... she gets her good taste from her mother, I suppose). And it was too early for her medication, so I would say, "you can have it at dinnertime." And then she would ask for her chewable vitamin -- "the purple medicine" (even though the color varies from pink to orange to purple) and I would say, "You already had your vitamin today. You can have another one tomorrow."

I read this blog post once, by a single dad, I think. And he said he tried to challenge himself to never use the word "no" in response to a request from his child. But to try to find a way to say yes, no matter what. And I've been trying to do that. So it's "yes, you can have your vitamin... tomorrow" or "yes, we can go to the playground... tomorrow" or "you can have some milk if you're still hungry (after choosing to skip dinner)." And it usually works brilliantly.

But nothing was working yesterday. She was a flailing, sobbing, screaming, melting mess. I tried. I tried so hard. From the moment she woke up, crying. I tried emphasizing. And rocking. And distracting. And nothing worked.

And with one last screaming of "give it back to me!" I was done. After forty-five minutes of effort, I was all used up. And pissy and resentful. I was trying so hard to be nice, dammit, and I deserved to be treated better than that.Trying to get her out the door to the bike store and her refusing to put on her coat, to put on her shoes, to sit in the bike seat. I scooped her up and dumped her in her crib. With her shoes on. And shut the door. Firmly. Leaving her screaming in the dark.

And went to the living room and played the banjo for a few minutes. It felt like a long time, but I'm sure it was less than five minutes.

She stopped screaming and started to sob "all done. All done please." So I went back to her room and picked up. I carried her back to the living room to try to get ready to leave again. She asked for medicine, again. I said, "No Calliope. I'm not having this conversation with you again."

Commence screaming.

Toddler is unceremoniously scooped up and dumped back into the crib in the dark room.

More screaming. Then sobbing "all done" again.

I returned once again. She held up her arms to be picked up and did not ask about medicine again.

Thank god.

She did, however, ask about chocolate. But didn't melt down this time when I said no.

I offered a ride in a baby carrier, and she gratefully accepted. Still refused to put on her coat, but I reasoned that being snuggled against me and inside a heavy carrier would keep her warm.

So I carried her on my chest -- couldn't get her on my back with my thick fleece coat -- and wheeled the bike. My back was aching after a few blocks. Leaning over the bike with twenty-four pounds of lanky toddler on my front was exhausting. And then the bike store was closed.

But by the time we were heading back, she had cheered up, and consented to sit in the baby seat of the bike. Phew. And we got back upstairs and inside the apartment and she started chatting as if nothing had happened.

And for the first time, I held a grudge. I didn't want to chat. I wanted her to go to bed. I was mad. I didn't like being screamed at.

But I dutifully fed her -- finally, many hours after her last meal, she agreed to eat -- she picked carrots with hummus and apple slices with peanut butter as her dinner, and I readily agreed. And put her to bed afterwards, completely exhausted.

I don't ever remember being so frustrated with my child before. I've never seen her in a tantrum like this before. Just fully, completely, 100% out of control. She's lost it before, definitely, but not in a protracted way like that. I've no idea if the crib time out was the right thing to do or not, but it was clear that we both needed a break and since she loves her crib, I don't think she was traumatized.

Luckily we both got a good night's sleep and all was happy between us today. But that feeling of frustration and anger was not a welcome one. I hope we don't experience that again soon.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

...And a Third Trip to the Doctor In a Week... Scratch That, a FOURTH Trip in Ten Days

Calliope's fever didn't get better on Thursday.

And Friday, she woke up crying at 5:30 am with a fever of 105. 105!

Yikes. My eyes almost popped out of my head. I knew it wasn't really dangerous, but it sure freaked me out.

I gave her some Motrin and put her back to bed, but was totally incapable of falling back to sleep myself with thoughts of that scary fever in my head.

Showing considerable restraint, I didn't text the doctor until 6:30 am. She eventually responded, after 8, saying to wait another 24 hours unless Calliope started showing any signs of difficulty breathing.

I called in sick, and resigned myself to another day at home. But once the Motrin kicked in, she was pretty cheerful. And Eleanor arrived early that day, and Calliope was so pleased to see her.

So I went with the girls and the babysitter to Tot Shabbat. Which was a hoot. I've been wanting to go for ages, but of course, I'm always at work.

The girls had a great time and afterwards, since it was raining out, they burned off some steam by running up and down the aisles and between the seats of the pews. Very, very cute.

Calliope seemed fine until the Motrin wore off, except that she refused to eat anything. In fact, she'd hadn't been eating much at all since her fever the previous weekend, but now she wanted nothing except a couple of ounces of milk here or there. After the nap, with the Motrin not working well, she was a mess.

She was up bright and early the next morning, once again with a fever, but only 101.5. I debated if I was being crazy to bring her to the doctor -- I didn't pick someone convenient, but rather, someone I really respect -- or crazy to consider not bringing her to the doctor.

Off we went. And I'm so glad I did. Because she had a raging ear infection. The doctor said that if the fever had been from the flu vaccine, it would've only lasted 24-36 hours, maximum. So the fever had been due to the cold she had had the previous weekend, which circled back around and descended into her ears. The flu vaccine was unrelated to her illness. Phew! Because I'd been feeling very guilty, indeed, for giving it to her. (I had given it to her myself, at home, or it would have been four doctor visits in one week.) Still, this was a good reminder not to practice medicine on my own child. The potential consequences are just too big, and my brain doesn't work well when I'm too close.

I was even more that afternoon, when her fever spiked over 103 that afternoon, and I still couldn't get her to eat anything, and only took a few sips of water. She lay limply in my lap, wailing. Tears and snot coursing down her face.

I called the doctor back but he wasn't concerned.  Said I just had to wait for the antibiotics to kick in.

Her temperature was back up this morning, to 104.3, even with Motrin in her system, and I was getting increasingly worried that I'd be missing work once again tomorrow -- he'd said to come back if the fever lasted 48 hours.

But thank goodness, the fever broke this afternoon! And she slept longer than she had in a week. Woke up in yet another foul mood.... but armed with a ziploc baggie with one square of dark chocolate (her choice), she didn't fight me tonight in taking the antibiotics. Phew! I had my downstairs neighbor ready to hold down her hands, but thank god it wasn't necessary.

... And now, four days after I wrote the first part of this post, I'd like to add that there was a fourth visit to the doctor. On Monday, as I was putting Calliope's pajamas on, I noticed a bumpy rash all over her chest, back, and neck, and extending up her neck and onto her face.

I was sure it was a penicillin reaction at first, but after texting my pediatrician (how can I ever leave this practice where I have her cell phone number? even if she's so geographically undesirable???) and talking to my medical director, plus consulting Dr. Google, I realized it might be a viral rash.

I took Calliope to our FOURTH doctor visit in ten days early the next morning.

Yes, it was a "viral exanthem" -- a random rash that a baby or toddler gets as part of a virus. The pediatrician had tentatively given Calliope a diagnosis of roseola once before, though maybe that was wrong and this was the real case. Or maybe, as the pediatrician said, she got it twice. (I have my doubts about that.) But the high fever that goes along with roseola (and which disappears right before the rash makes its appearance) also made sense with her ear infection. So I may never be able to tease the symptoms apart.

So in summary, that's: one round of wheezing (with a tight sounding cough for several days), one ear infection, one viral rash, one flu vaccine, and two rounds of fever (for a total of six feverish days) in the past ten days.

Plus the aforementioned four visits to the doctor (which doesn't include the flu vaccine which she got at home).

I'm hoping for a few healthy weeks, at least. I fear that if another cold comes along, her lungs will not be up for the challenge. She's still got a deep productive cough that isn't all that frequent but still sounds pretty unpleasant when it happens.

The patient. On doctor visit three of four. Looking pretty cheerful
despite ear infection, fever, and those puffy eyes.
"Talking" to Grammy on the play phone at the office.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Two Doctor Visits in One Week

Saturday morning Calliope woke up with a fever. Not long after, I noticed she sounded wheezy and was retracting, using lots of accessory muscles in her neck and chest to breathe. I listened to her with one of my back up stethoscopes though, and she sounded clear. But listening to her tinny-sounding cough, she just didn't seem right.

I woke up Old Flame, who was visiting once again, and asked him what he thought. He suggested rubbing Vicks on her chest, which made me throw up my hands in frustration. As much as it may feel effective to some folks, there's no scientific evidence supporting its use. And anyway, why was I asking someone else to decide this for me???

Finally I said we would go to go to the doctor, and Old Flame kindly agreed to drive us.

The doctor -- not our regular one, but one who used to be my boss's boss, so I certainly know him -- had no difficulty hearing Calliope's wheezing. Which made me feel both relieved and idiotic. He ordered Calliope's first nebulizer treatment.

What a nightmare. She hated it. She kicked, screamed, flailed, and hit me as I tried to hold the mask on her face to let the vaporized medicine do its work. Tears were pouring down her face and I struggled to maintain my grip on her and weirdly, kept giggling.

Finally, a third of the way through the treatment, I couldn't safely hold her on the exam table anymore. I turned it off and the doctor declared her well enough to send her on her way... I promised to use an inhaler and spacer for her in lieu of the loathsome nebulizer.)

She was tired after that misery, but I had promised we would ride the carousel as a reward, so my long-suffering girl got not one but two rides on Jane's Carousel under the Brooklyn Bridge.

She seemed to think it was worth it.

She was better on Sunday, though still had a low grade fever. She continued to improve during the week, so Wednesday after work, I gave her the flu shot. I was afraid of forgetting, and the doctor had said the cough could last for up to two weeks, and I didn't want to wait that long.

So she woke up this morning, Thursday, with a fever of 102. And now I didn't have any way of knowing if the fever was a reaction to the flu vaccine (*** not the same as getting the flu from the vaccine) or if her cold was getting worse again. After all, her nose was awfully runny, she kept shoving her whole hand in her mouth (no, no sign of teething), and she still has an occasional deep chesty cough.

Back to the doctor we went. Where we were given the all clear -- it's just a vaccine reaction. But that didn't stop her from being pretty miserable. Especially since I forgot to bring Motrin along.

She seemed better after Motrin and a very long nap, so we went out trick or eating with her friend Eleanor and her mother, Amy. But she was very subdued and shy about saying "Trick or treat!" and eventually refused to participate. We went back to Amy's and she enjoyed playing... but when we got home I realized that she still had a fever. No wonder she didn't want to trick or treat.

We have a back up babysitter tomorrow and I'm going to feel awfully guilty about leaving her if she still has a fever. Even though I know she's fine. It's hard when my girl needs me and I feel like I ought to be somewhere else.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Sad Day for Our SMC Community and Beyond

One of our own lost her battle to breast cancer today. From what I know, although she knew she was terminal, she did not know the end was near. Just last weekend, she helped her two school aged daughters to host a Halloween party, because her youngest loved Halloween "and I don't know if I will be around for another Halloween."

Just a few days later, and just two days after her last post on the SMC Forum, she's gone.

I will remember Janice as a thoughtful soul with great insight as a parent and as a human being. She seemed to see the best in others. And her sensitivity in raising her two beloved daughters, despite her prognosis, was inspiring. 

My heart is breaking for you and your girls, dear Janice. The world is a little bit darker without you in it.

Rabbi Janice, age 54, passed away Oct. 25, 2013, beloved daughter of Felix & Erica Garfunkel of Dayton, OH, devoted mother of Aliza & Eliana Garfunkel, dear sister of David (Isabella) Garfunkel of Closter, NJ & Michael Garfunkel. Graveside services Sunday, Oct. 27, 3:00 P.M. at Beth Jacob Cemetery, 4001 Old Troy Pike, Dayton, OH 45404. Minyan services will be held Sunday 7:00 P.M. at the residence of Felix & Erica Garfunkel & Monday 7:00 P.M. at Janice's residence. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to Hebrew Union College would be appreciated
- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/cincinnati/obituary.aspx?n=janice-garfunkel&pid=167700021&fhid=27761#sthash.cd9oQfsg.dpuf

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nanny Changes

Well, after a month of Calliope entirely ignoring the new nanny in my presence, but crying when I left for work... and after the playschool teacher commenting that Calliope and Eleanor didn't seem bonded to the nanny "yet"... and after my coming home and finding the girls eating apple slices while buckled into their high chairs, unsupervised, with the nanny was locked in the bathroom for ten minutes... and after being twenty minutes late to pick up the girls from playschool on only their second morning without her... and after hearty doses of encouragement and advice from the amazing SMC community, Amy and I fired our new nanny.

It sucked.

Because I liked her. I related to her.

The problem was, Calliope didn't relate to her. Or rather, the nanny didn't seem to have the motivation to get down on the floor and truly interact with Calliope. She fed her and changed her and walked her... but her heart wasn't in it. Whether it was her personality, her cultural background, or the fact that she was in school four hours every night plus all day Saturday... her heart was not with our girls. And Calliope is a keen judge of character. Or at least, a keen judge of who is actually interested in her as her own little person versus a child to pat on the head and send to play in the other room.

She wasn't terrible. Just not quite good enough. Which made it all the harder.

You know how it's easy to dump a loser, but so much harder to break up with an almost-right boyfriend or girlfriend?

That's how this was.

And the actual "break up" was hard. Amy and I had a script, and followed it, but then Nanny just kept sitting there, silently. While the girls played, oblivious, around us and Amy and I looked at each other in pained silence.

Finally she said, "I wish it didn't have to come to this."

I wished that, too.

But I feel like I shouldn't have to teach the nanny that she can't leave the girls eating unattended. Or that she has to be on time when picking them up from school. This should be obvious.

And my girl, Calliope? She's not the cuddliest one around, with people other than Mommy, but something about her total indifference struck me wrong.

Amy's daughter, Eleanor, seemed more attached, so that was hard. Nanny C left before Amy got home each day, in order to get to school on time, so that meant Amy was mostly relying on my observations. Eleanor's dad saw the nanny in the morning when he dropped Eleanor off, but he didn't linger for long. Though he lacked concerns about Nanny C. Except for them eating unattended. And not liking that Nanny C wore headphones while pushing the girls in the stroller. And that she was late to pick them up.

Luckily for us, my friend's nanny was available and looking for work. I'd been hearing about this amazing nanny for years. The parent of my friend Emily's students, hand picked by Emily because the children of this woman were so studious, polite, ambitious, and loving toward their mother. Emily's daughter is in kindergarten now, so doesn't need a nanny. But they still travel to the Bronx to visit her.

We had Susie come over to interview with us on Monday night. We explained our current situation to her. The interview seemed okay, but nanny interviews are the weirdest. Because every potential scenario has the same "correct" answer:

"How do you discipline children?"

"However you tell me to."

"What do you feed children?"

"Whatever you tell me to."

But she seemed kind. Of course, Nanny C seemed warm and kind also. So mostly we were going on the fervent recommendation of my very close friend Emily.

We hired Susie on Monday night. Tuesday night, we fired Nanny C. Wednesday, I stayed home from work to orient Susie to the girls. Wednesday afternoon, I left the girls playing with Playdoh with Susie while I went out to run errands.

Nobody cried. They were too busy pressing shapes into their Playdoh "pancakes." When it was time for Susie to leave, Calliope willing hugged her goodbye. The next morning, on Susie's arrival, Calliope scampered into her arms again.

My heart, bruised and battered from the firing, melted. I went off to work and Calliope eagerly turned to Susie and asked for Playdoh.

It's been several weeks now, and the girls are clearly thriving. Susie is slowly transitioning to speaking to them in Spanish. The girls now greet me with "Hola! Como estas?" when I get home, and are fond of ordering "Ven aqui!" ("come here!")

Calliope is content when Susie arrives in the morning, and has yet to cry when I leave, and loves the new tradition with Susie of looking through the peephole at Mommy as I wait for the elevator.

Susie takes out the trash and cleans the kitchen and cooks for the girls without being asked. She is early every morning and stays late every afternoon (I feel badly about this but she's waiting for her husband to pick her up). Unlike Nanny C., who was occasionally late in the mornings and always had to leave ten minutes early. She even offered to cook for me!

Best of all, and the only thing I really care about, is that she is warm and affectionate and playful with the girls. It's wonderful to see my girl blossom under her loving care.

Fall Photos

First day of playschool. High school class of 2029.

First day with new nanny #2

Playing with my super fun new babysitter Catherine 
while Mommy runs around our nation's shuttered capitol with 600 friends in red dresses. 

Our new tradition of Shabbat dinner with Eleanor. We are crazy about it -- lighting candles, drinking grape juice from silver cups... and we love to "holla for Challah!" I ask hopefully for challah (the sweet braided bread) every single day!

Stylish hand me down CK jeans! (No clue who buys fancy jeans
for their toddler but it surely isn't Mommy!)

If I cling very tightly, surely Mommy won't forget that I'M her baby. Not this eight month
old giantess who is nearly as big as I am. 

Riding one of the beautiful antique carousels at the French festival on Governor's Island. 
Look at my long(ish) hair!
Hanging with my best girl, Eleanor, and stopping for some refreshment on our weekly trip to the Sunday Farmer's Market. We totally killed those apples.

This is a super fun game wherein I close the door, bellow "Hello? Hello?" through the door, and then Mommy opens the door again.
But then Mommy took a few seconds too long to open the door
because she was fussing with her phone so I put the time to good

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Living Without Fear

I've got a dozen half written posts sitting in my drafts folder. And details about Calliope are woefully lacking.

But in the meantime, just a quick post.

To say that the romance is back on.

We've spent the last two weekends, or at least one and a half of them, together. And now he's decided to travel back here this weekend, too, for our third weekend together in a row (the first weekend, I traveled to DC for the red dress run, which we did together).

I'm excited he's coming. Surprised, too. It never occurred to me that he would be willing to travel so much. It sounds exhausting. Especially considering he'll be away the following two weekends visiting his daughter, and on the west coast in between.

But pleased.

I'm trying to find a balance of being cautious, but not paranoid. To stop assuming -- when he doesn't call -- that he's either a) playing games or b) reuniting with his wife.

To be fair, I only wondered about option B once. Mostly I just worry about the game playing, or about him not being genuinely interested.

But at some point, I think I have to start assuming that all this driving reflects his interest, no?

And also, to trust my own intuition. That if it feels this easy and comfortable and fun for me, it probably feels that way for him, too.

I have no idea how to factor in the fact that he's in the midst of a divorce. No idea how that might make him act. 

Well, I have an idea. A fellow SMC recommended I read Surviving Your Boy.friend's Divorce. I dutifully followed her advice and... it was grim. I'm trying to follow the author's advice -- maintain my own interests, don't get hooked on promises, that sort of thing. But I also don't want to dwell in a place of fear. That's no way to live.

So I'm trying to stay grounded in my own life.

My little girl is delicious. I'm relishing her right now. And designed this weekend's plans so that I'm only missing two of her awake hours. I'm riding my bike nearly ten mile to work most days. I'm trying to increase the frequency and duration of my Insanity workouts. I take banjo lessons once a week with a fellow SMC (via Sky.pe). I went to visit my mother and brother last weekend for 24 hours. I'm more engaged at work.

I'll admit, though, that I'm feeling cagey about committing to plans with friends on weekends when I don't know if he might come visit. The next two weekends, when he'll be away, I'm all about plans.

Honestly, this is all such a surprise to me. I kept telling people that I would date again in a decade or so, give or take. And then this. And even if he and I didn't work out, I think I might keep dating. I'm enjoying it so far. It's lovely to date with the question of children off the table. 

Though of course T42 questions are still in the game. But knowing that that, too, can be achieved without help [from a male partner], I feel deliciously free. 

So now to remember to stay in the present, to avoid fantasies, to listen to my gut while not completely scaring myself every time he's late to call.

Oh, and the next time someone fails to respond to text messages? Make sure to check that the text messages are being sent to the appropriate phone number. It's amazing that just hitting "reply" doesn't always work.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Romance Slow Down

The last time Old Flame came to visit, we had such a lovely time. He picked me up at work and it was admittedly a little awkward at first. He gave me a kiss when I first got in the car, which felt strange since we were right outside my work. Not that I minded, I just couldn't really be physically affectionate in return. So when we parked in front of my building, I paused by the trunk of the car to give him another opportunity to initiate affection. This time, it seemed like he was the one that wasn't in the moment -- he dropped a peck on my lips but his attention was clearly focused on getting his luggage inside. No matter.

We went inside and were immediately consumed by playing with Calliope and Eleanor. I found it hard to look at him while I played with them. It's just that he and Calliope are from such different parts of my life. He is from my out of state party weekends. And she, of course, is keeper of my heart. But not, necessarily, 100% of attention.

He seemed to enjoy playing with them, though he's clearly attuned to playing with his six year old daughter, not two year olds. He was pointing out the words on the page as he read to them, and even spelled out a work. Calliope, especially, quickly bored of his slow pace and crawled away. For the next book, the girls brought it to me so that he didn't have a chance to read to them.

After about thirty minutes, Eleanor's mother and grandmother arrived, as well as our new-ish babysitter, Catherine. Old Flame and fooled around with my banjo for a while -- Calliope had considerately "re-tuned" it when I foolishly left the banjo on her bedroom floor for a few minutes. Silly me, I hadn't heard any strumming so I assumed she had ignored the fascinating musical instrument lying within reach. I won't make that mistake again.

Eventually we gave up on tuning the banjo and left. We enjoyed a long but beautiful fall walk to a new restaurant I'd been wanting to try. I carefully kept my hands jammed in my pockets. It was easier to pre-empt any possibility of hand holding than to reach for his hand and feel rejected if he got tired of holding it. It's possible that this is not an entirely healthy approach to relationships.

The restaurant was a charming little French bistro with candles and and music playing softly, and swilling a glass of red wine loosened me up nicely. The conversation flowed wonderfully and there was lots of laughing, and on my part, some blushing, too. Especially when he cupped his hands around his lips and mouthed "you're awesome."

Following a lovely moonlit streetlight illuminated walk home through the fall air, I paid the babysitter and sent her on her way. As he stretched out his arms to me, I felt a sort of shock. I had forgotten that with all the conversation, there was also another element to our relationship. Despite the flirting, the physical element wasn't on my mind.

After an exciting trip to the kitchen for some creative (and rewarding) physical endeavors, with his arms around me, he asked, "Do you remember what I told you in August?" (When, as I was boarding a bus to come home, he rushed out of the bus station to say, "I love you, you know." I had wordlessly smiled and waved goodbye.)

I nodded.

"What did I say?"

I wordlessly buried my face in his chest and shook my head as I leaned against him.

"I still feel that way."

A pause as I thought about how to respond. And then I said, "Look, I like you to. I've always had feelings for you. Since I met you seven years ago. But I'm scared of getting hurt. Scared of this being about Her, and your daughter. I don't want to be your rebound girl."

"All I meant is that I really like you."

"Oh. Okay. Did that sound stupid, what I just said? Did I read too much into what you said?"

"No, that makes sense. I understand what you said. You should feel able to say whatever is on your mind."

"Well cool. In that case. Can you do me a favor? If you say you're going to call, or I ask you to call by a certain time, can you make sure to call? Or else text me to let me know that you can't call? You don't have to give me a reason. Just tell me that something came up."

"Sure. You need that, eh?"

"Yeah, I do. I'm a planner. I just need to know what's happening or else I get stressed out."


From there we went into my bedroom and further enjoyable activities ensued. We enjoyed a cozy, if somewhat sleepless night together (I don't sleep well with another person in my bed) before he got up at 4:30 am and left at 5:30 am to get on the road to Connecticut.

After that conversation, and enjoying our visit together so much, I started to have very intimate feelings for him. Started to think about using "the L word" (the other L word), even. We texted and emailed a couple times over the next few days. Initiated by me. By Thursday, three days after our visit, I wanted to talk to him again, to maintain that intimate feeling that I had had on Monday.

He sent a text message first, so I texted back "Are you free to talk?"

A few minutes later he wrote, "Not now. About to read stories [with his daughter -- he had gotten home to her that night]."

Ninety minutes (or so) later, he wrote back, "she's almost ready to sleep. Can you talk tomorrow afternoon?"

I responded, "Sure. Between 3-4 pm is good for me."

I went to sleep, a little disappointed but not overly worried about it.

He never called the next afternoon. By 4 pm, I was seething. I knew he was leaving that afternoon for a camping trip with his daughter and a group of friends (indeed, he had invited Calliope and me along... I demurred. I'm nowhere near ready to meet his daughter.) So I knew I likely wouldn't hear from him all weekend.

It was even slightly worse than that. I didn't hear from him until Monday evening. When he texted to ask if I was home and free to talk.

Turns out he was with his daughter through Sunday night, and left very early Monday morning.

But still, he could've sent me a text on Friday afternoon. Or on Sunday, when he returned from camping. Or at any point during the camping trip, if there was service there.

I had explained that it was important to me. And he apparently didn't care. And he didn't even apologize or acknowledge the missed phone date.

I was angry over the weekend, but by Monday, I was over it. And over him. I can't be invested in a person that can't be considerate enough to send a short text message to cancel our phone date.

But then I talked to my two close girlfriends that know him, and know me very, very well. And they both asked, "can't you just chill out? and just enjoy sex without strings attached?"

And after talking to them, I realized that yes, I thought I could.

And so that is where I am. Trying to just enjoy the occasional opportunity for sex and companionship. Without thinking about the future. Without worrying about how we would combine our families, or if he would be willing to move to NYC versus my moving to DC, worrying about how Calliope would be impacted. I'm just here, in the present.

Wishing it was Friday already because I'm ready for some more extracurricular activities.

And happy, again.

And for the record, he texted me on Friday and asked me to call, and I did, once I finally finished what I was doing and got around to checking my text messages. And we had a nice chat, but I was reserved. Though friendly.

And now my brother has just met someone that he says is amazing. That sounds like "The One." Who is a single mom, and has a young son. And I'm a little wistful. Because letting my heart open up a crack has made me realize that, in an ideal world, it could be nice to have a partner. But in the real world, I've realized that opening my heart up only makes me vulnerable.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A Better Weekend

Thursday night, Calliope slept thirteen hours. And then she took a three hour nap on Friday afternoon.

And this weekend, she's been perfectly charming. Reminding me that once again, it's all about sleep. Having a well rested child is the secret to world peace, more or less.

I'm so relieved to be besotted with my little girl again.

I'm trying to take Tiara's advice, and to choose my battles. Once I put my foot down, I can't go back, but what I can do is choose to say "yes" more often. And to be more sympathetic to her frustration.

So tonight, near bedtime, she started whining from the living room, and saying "help!" in an angry voice. Rather than getting frustrated, or trying to jolly her out of it, I left what I was doing in the kitchen and joined her in the living room, and said sympathetically, "Oh, you're having trouble with the puzzle. Would you like some help?"

She gratefully answered "yes," and with a little encouragement to counter her fatigue, she was able to complete the puzzle successfully. Then we went to get ready for bed.

Of course then we had a minor meltdown because I refused to let her wear the Ergo doll carrier to bed. But she didn't have a full on meltdown. And after a couple of time outs in the last month, she no longer kicks me, even when she's lying on the floor in front of me while I change her into pajamas. So this time she just flapped her hands and whimpered like an infant. This, I can deal with.

Yesterday we went to the Queens Farm Museum with Amy, Seth, and Eleanor. Eleanor was very whiny and I was pleased to have the well behaved child, for once! Apart from the pumpkin throwing incident, which resulted in Calliope being strapped to my back in the baby carrier, with the pumpkins safely out of reach.

Our new babysitter, Catherine, came by after nap time and watched Calliope while I went out for a birthday dinner. I was very pleased that Calliope went to Catherine readily. Catherine will be staying with Calliope for my upcoming weekend away in DC, so I'm grateful that Calliope seems comfortable with Catherine already. That will make my weekend away a lot more relaxing for everyone.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Two Is Tough

Two, or twenty-five months anyway, is proving a little tough.

We are doing lots of limit testing.

First thing when I walk in the door with my bike, Calliope and Eleanor come running to meet me. Eleanor chirps excitedly, "Hi Abby!" while Calliope takes one look at me and starts emitting high pitched screeches. Which she knows I hate.

I try to ignore this and distract them by peppering them with questions.

A few days ago they were playing with the toy kitchen. I showed them how to rotate the plate inside the toy microwave to make it rotate. They were doing rather well taking turns, without instruction from me, when Calliope started tugging on Eleanor's dress and making moves to push her.

I cautioned her, "Calliope, we don't push. Please let go of Eleanor's dress."

She looked at me with callous disregard, and continued tugging on Eleanor.

"C'mon Calliope. Let's take a break." I took her hand and she willingly followed me to the living room to the Take A Break Chair. I put her in the chair, and sat down right in front of the chair with my back to her. She slid out of the chair once, but otherwise didn't fight me.

After a minute, I said, "okay, are you ready to play now?"

She shook her head and pressed her face into the chair cushions. And there she stayed for the next five minutes, ignoring my invitations to come play with Eleanor and me. Finally Eleanor and I went to Calliope's room and the sound of stories being read to eventually lulled her out of the chair to join us.

She even asks for time outs! My weird child.

Today, getting her ready for a nap, I asked if she wanted to wear socks. She refused to answer. After asking several times, I said, "I'm going to count to three, and then Mommy is going to decide for you."

I counted to three, she ignored me, and then I started to put on one of two pairs of socks lying out. They were mostly on when she started crying, "no! red ones!".

Okay, fine. You wouldn't even answer me before, but I don't feel like having a battle, so I will take off the white socks and put on the red ones. Anything to avoid (another) meltdown.

You guessed it. Cue meltdown. "No! White ones!"

I put my sobbing child, complete with red socks, into her crib.


She does things like climb onto the end tables, then give me a devilish look. As if to make sure Mommy is paying attention to the fact that she is breaking the rules.

Sometimes she stands on her chair in the kitchen and asks brightly, "Sit down please?"

To which I wearily reply, "Yes, Calliope. Sit down please."

I love my child, but my god, these daily exchanges are wearing me out. I know I've been endlessly lucky with her, so I suppose I have no right to complain.

But I'm really hoping my nicely compliant child will return someday. Surely it's not like this forever?

Monday, September 16, 2013

In Which I Am... Happy

This is the start of my third week back at work, though only my second week with students in the building.

Unlike a teacher, my year starts off slowly, as students usually don't get sick immediately upon returning to school. So I've been averaging about five patients a day.

I was nervous to return to work, but after a two week staycation with Calliope (and no friends around to entertain us), I was more than ready for a break from full time parenting. I adore my child... but I treasure the time more when I'm not with her constantly.

I've felt badly the last few years, while pregnant and then while caring for an infant and young toddler, that I wasn't more "present" at work. So I made a plan to be more organized and proactive at work, in hopes that greater engagement would increase my enjoyment. So far, it's working! I'm really happy at work.

And I'm really happy at home. Calliope is a delight. More on her progress in her 25 month post, but suffice it to say, she's a delight. Her language is growing by leaps and bounds and she's just a lovely little person. Most of the time, anyway.

This weekend, her little friend Eleanor started potty training. And her parents are constantly asking her, "Eleanor, do you need to go potty?"

Naturally, she responds, "No!" every time.

So I encouraged them to only schedule potty time once every one to two hours, and to stop asking. And when they decided that Eleanor needed to sit on the potty (as opposed to asking) and we were around, I asked Calliope if she would come sit on the potty too, to keep Eleanor company. And she agreeably lowered her pants -- she can lower and raise her own pants! -- and sat down companionably with Eleanor. And as a result, Eleanor would pee on the potty, every time.

What a wonderful friend, eh?

I've been going out more the last few weeks. My best friend (an ex-boyfriend from many years ago) pays for babysitting and dinner, so the only impediment to plans in the past was my not wanting to miss my girl, or my sleep. Now, I'm willing to miss bedtime now and then. And as I go out more regularly, Calliope seems to have an easier time with it, and goes to sleep more quickly.

We had dinner last night, and I loved catching up on adult conversation. And seeing an infant across the restaurant, and thinking, "I'm so glad I don't have a baby in my arms, and that I don't have to spend the whole meal waiting for things to fall apart."

I'm happy about my very slowly blossoming romance. I wouldn't say that we are dating. I'd say we like each other, and we are taking it very slow. We talk every few nights, and it's nice. I'm busy with my life. And I'm safeguarding my heart, as much as I can. I'll see him again in mid-October, and I'm mostly glad it won't be sooner. I'm trying to keep from getting too attached until his divorce is finalized. He hope that will be by the end of 2013, but I'm not holding my breath. I know that delays are incredibly common.

And I think we won't know if we even like each other enough to pursue being a couple until he's wrapped things up with his marriage. And that the tumult of a divorce could make him more needy, and that I need to be careful to not mistake that for a genuine interest in me. So I'm trying to be cautious, and I'm glad he seems to be doing the same, since my self restraint is historically not that great.

A fellow SMC is giving me banjo lessons via Skype and I'm enjoying that a lot, too. It's slow going but I love that I have this interest I'm pursuing that has nothing to do with anyone else but me.

I'm still working out, and gradually trying to work Insanity workouts into my back to school routine. I started weaning myself off lazy mornings the week before I returned to work, and started setting an alarm clock. It was painful. But I'm so grateful I was dragging around at home instead of waiting to do it at work. So now I have to learn to get up even earlier to work out before work. I've done it a couple of time so far, including this morning, but I'm not leaving myself quite enough time to finish. I haven't yet done Insanity and a bike commute on the same day.

So many great things.

The only thing that's bothering me is increasing doubts about wanting to interrupt my happy new equilibrium with T42. But that's another post for another day.

And as for my mom... well, I guess I've reached equilibrium with that for the time being as well. Her abscess is flaring up again, so more delays with chemotherapy. So we are just waiting.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Feeling Better Today

As expected, I'm much better today. It just seems to take me a day to acclimate to bad news.

Work is gradually picking up, which is good. I'm trying to turn over a new leaf at work this year, being proactive and extra organized, and so far, it's making me enjoy work more. I think there's also something about leaving a feisty, talkative two year old at home that feels a lot easier than leaving a tiny infant or dimpled crawling baby. Calliope's more ready to be out in the world now, and so am I.

This was a good release for crying tonight: a Home Depot marriage proposal (one man to another).

Old Flame texted me last night that he was free to talk, so about a half an hour later, once I was safely in a cab on my way home from dinner, I called him. We chatted briefly and then I said, "you know how you said I was welcome to ask questions about your divorce? Well, I wanted to ask where you were at with it now."

I guess I should've been more specific and asked, "what's your timeline?" I eventually got that question answered, but also heard some ranting about the ex. (Can she even fairly be called the ex?). I have to figure out a way to very politely cut him off. I was worried about hurting his feelings if I interrupted mid-stream. But I really don't enjoy being exposed to that sort of venom. Even if it's not directed at me, it's still ugly.

After a few minutes he stopped, and I sort of gently reiterated that I'm not a good person for him to process with. And then he said, "my therapist says I have to make peace with the fact that I will probably never know the reason that she ended things."

So I'm glad he is still talking to the therapist.

I'm definitely going to DC for the Red Dress Run... and my best friend -- I went to the fancy schmancy work dinner with him last night at the Big Boss's house in NJ -- offered to pay for a weekend of babysitting so I don't have to bring Calliope along!

Sweet! Much more of a break this way, and also, I think it wouldn't hurt to limit her contact with Old Flame. Not that I'm worried about her getting attached, but I'm worried about him getting overly attached. I don't need that complication.

I'm feeling pretty solid about the whole thing. He said he hopes to have the divorce finalized by the end of 2013. I have no idea if that is realistic. I have a feeling it might not be, but I'm not sweating it too much. Regardless, my goal now is to just keep things light until the divorce is finalized. Ideally, to not even talk about being in a relationship until after that happens. If he brings it up, then so be it, but I'm not going to encourage it.

And then, once the divorce is finalized, then we can both begin to see just how much we even like each other. It may turn out to just be a fun flirtation and attraction and not a lot more. Time will tell.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It Turns Out That Maybe You Can't Just Refuse To Be Sad

I was feeling cranky and then my friend Stephen stopped by my office. He's a teacher, and he's become a dear, if offbeat, friend. Along with his wife and son. He brought me leftovers 'most every day when my Dad was sick and dying, especially when I commented that sometimes the thought of going grocery shopping was just too overwhelming.

So I mentioned the bad news, and added, "So I guess I'll be expecting a lot more home cooked meals, eh?"

He nodded solemnly as the tears welled up.

I don't want to go through this again.

I know I just have to get through today. I have a car service picking me up at 4 pm and transporting me to NJ where I will be my friend's date for his work shindig. This is my other best friend, Scott, my (long ago) ex boyfriend. He's my family, too, and being with him will be nice. Though being with his boss and the New Board Member won't be relaxing. Then we will have a nice ride home together.

I know my pattern now. I just have to survive today and I will wake up composed again tomorrow.

It's just, I thought I could get through this without being sad like this. By just refusing to feel sad.

It doesn't seem to work that way.

I'm So Mad

I know, not exactly the words that reach you and grab you and make you want to read a post.

But my mom's cancer has returned. She has enlarged lymph nodes in her abdomen. Already.

She's had abscesses since her surgery which just won't seem to finish healing. And can't start chemotherapy until they are healed.

Her oncologist says that a few weeks one way or the other won't make a difference. And that the chemo will beat back the cancer... for a while. I gather she might even have years to live. (Though I doubt that.) But it will definitely get her.

Unless, of course, she gets taken by something else in the meantime.

I've lost a parent already.

It sucked.

I don't want to do this again.

Given that I don't have an option, I'm trying to just steel knuckle my way through. But that's not helping today.

I don't want to do this. I don't want Calliope and my family to get even smaller.

So I'm really mad. (And a little sad, too, underneath.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Change of Heart, One Hour Later

I called "Auntie Salt Lick" and hashed it all out with her.

She made me feel better.

She's known the guy in question for seven years. She did not like him much at first, felt he hadn't done right by me. But he's won her over, by always treating me with caring and respect.

So she said, "Look, you have "hand." For the first time, with any guy, besides your anonymous donor, since I've known you. You get to call the shots. So instead of thinking about what he wants, think about what you want. You don't have to make any rules. Just warn him that you are allowed to change your mind at any point."

And this made me think that maybe I'm wanting more just because I felt like he wanted more.

Maybe instead I can just work on paying more attention to my boundaries.

This is not an easy thing for me. I'm terrible at boundaries in my romantic relationships.

I also realized, through this conversation, that I really, really want to go to this Red Dress event in DC. Not just because of him. But because I really want to dance in my underwear with like minded folks again. Because it made me feel sexy and strong and confident. And I loved that feeling.

And you know something?

I don't think I would feel half so strong and sexy and confident if not for the fact that I've taken this SMC journey. That's not to say I wouldn't consider being in a relationship. But that I don't have to be. I've shown myself and the world that I can carry a pregnancy and give birth to a child and raise that child and work full time and make it all work. And be happy.

You bet I feel strong and sexy and confident.

And if this strong and sexy and confident SMC wants a chance to go crazy and dance in her underwear a few times a year... well dammit, she deserves to.

The Letter I'm Writing In My Head

After walking around all morning with a sense of wonder, I shared my story with my SMC sisters on the Forum.

They were happy for me, but shared cautionary tales. Tales I wanted to hear. Before I'm fully vested in this romantic adventure.

Here's the letter I composed in my head on my bike ride home from work. I won't send it, but I might share the contents on a phone call sometime soon.

"I had an amazing time this weekend. Thank you for driving up to visit. 

Even though I want to be fun and light hearted, I think it's more important that I be honest with you, and more importantly, with myself.

Here's what's going on with me: I thought I just wanted a friend with benefits. But spending this weekend with you, and seeing  you in my real life, made me think that maybe I want more. I think maybe you're thinking you want more, too?

I'm worried that I could end up getting hurt. And I feel like I need to be cautious of my heart, especially now with a young child in my life. I think I need you to sort out your own life before you should mingle too much with mine. I am afraid that I (or worse, we) are a distraction from your divorce.

A friend suggested I read called "Surviving Your Boyfriend's Divorce." I know you're not my boyfriend yet. But just in case you might be interested in that position at some point. Amazon readers suggests you should should read it too. I just ordered it on Amazon today. I will let you know what I think.

I'm curious to see if advises us to take time apart. I think it might make sense for you to finalize your divorce before we embark on anything together. That's not the solution I'm hoping for, so I hope there's another way. But I'm guessing there's not?

Some even say to wait a year after the divorce is finalized. That seems like a long time. But seven years have passed already. What's another year or two? (Okay, I admit I'm hoping it won't be that long.)

I don't know where I will be in T42 efforts by then. You made some comments at the weekend in August about wanting to be my sperm donor, but I don't think what you meant is that you want to be just my donor. 

My thoughts about T42 have been in turmoil (again) since that August weekend. I so loved getting to have a weekend where I wasn't just about being a Mommy. I adore my daughter, but having a break and cutting loose was amazing. 

So who knows? Maybe I won't have another child in the meantime, after all. If I didn't feel time pressure to match up #2 with my nanny-sharers, the timing might not be an issue at all. And keeping up with them is probably not a good reason to proceed when I'm not sure. 

But I digress.

I need to be careful with my heart, and with my daughter's heart. And it will only get harder to back away if we have more weekends like the one we just had. 

So I encourage you, if you want to pursue things with me, or even if you don't, to get your affairs in order. To finalize your divorce, taking however many arduous steps you need to get there -- I'm sure they are numerous. To continue the therapy you started. To work through some of the pain you're feeling about the ending of your marriage, and especially, giving up the dream of being there to see your daughter every day. I can't imagine what that must feel like, and I'm sorry you have to experience that.

But I can't help you through that. Calliope and I can't just slide into the hole in your heart that was left behind. You have to clear out the rubble and rebuild and then, maybe, there will be some other little space for us. Or maybe not, too. But I think we can't know while you are hurting so much. 

Whatever happens, I wish you peace and light and happiness at the end of this painful journey through divorce."

Calliope Is Two -- Lots of Firsts (and LOTS of photos)

Turned out she didn't know anything about blowing out candles since, duh, I hadn't 
taught her. So we both just kept leaning closer and closer to the candles, and glancing
expectantly at each other. Eventually her cousins pitched in and we all blew the candles 
out together.
Luckily I remembered to teach her the "Happy Birthday" song ahead of time. That 
was a huge thrill for her, having a room full of people singing to her.
Please note that I had a lovely outfit picked out for her. But she had other ideas. Training
pants was the compromise we settled on.

Feeling super bad at her two year well baby visit 
(found the sunglasses under the chair in the exam room).
33 inches (40%) and 22 lbs 6 oz (5%).
Doctor is happy with her growth and I don't have to bring her back 
for a whole year -- feels very strange!

First trip to the dentist. Calliope's idol, five year old Annabelle, does
all the work and the dentist just watches. (When he tried to count her
teeth, she laid down on my chest and stuck her thumb in her mouth.)
But she let Annabelle swab at her teeth with the special toothpaste.

Eventually the dentist got a quick peek for about two seconds. He could
tell she sucks her thumb -- her teeth are moving -- from SMC Jen says
not to worry about his recommendation to wean her from her thumb
just yet -- phew!

My triumphant dental superhero on the walk home from the dentist. 
Note the toothbrushes clutched in her hand. And the awesome outfit from Annabelle's
mom, Emily.

First time on the thing that spins really fast on the playground.
Note the bathing suit. She's obsessed with them lately.
Whenever she isn't allowed to be naked. 

Adopted by a sweet older girl on the spinning thing. Who
held on tight so C wouldn't fall off. 
C seemed a little stunned by the affectionate help, but
went along with it. 
Playing in the waves with Auntie Salt Lick
Spending the morning with her new nanny. The separation
went pretty well the first time they went out. When they
came back for lunch, C fell apart. Oops.
She will be back in full time care with the nanny next week.
I'm hoping for a relatively easy transition.
She adores carousels. This was the one at Coney Island.

Finally, a photo of Calliope, her godmother, and Mommy.
All of us in the same photo. At Coney Island.

"I don't know why Mommy is always trying to keep the good stuff 
-- like chocolate -- away from me. I bet this red onion is 
perfectly delicious. Thank goodness she finally agreed to let
me taste it."
I don't really care for all the rides that Mommy paid for... but what could be better than
reuniting with Luna for some more puddle stomping???

I'm still envious of Luna's ability to clear the ground when she jumps, but I don't let that
get in the way of a good time.

At Victorian Gardens, a toddler amusement park in Central Park
Long wispy hair in the back
Notice the pseudo rat-tail

Enter: baby's first haircut.
(Not shown: tremendous battle getting her to agree to wear 
even that pair of underwear.)
Feeling a little remorse, even though those long stringy threads really 
needed to come off. 

My shorn little sheep. Err, lamb.

Short haired girl at Coney Island (another trip -- 
we made several since it's so close).

Mother daughter trip to the Aquarium.
All part of Camp Mommy -- my effort to make our two week staycation
Perhaps somewhat wasted on a toddler who won't remember, anyway?
We had a good time, regardless.

Her birthday present from me -- a child sized Ergo for carrying dolls
-- was a huge hit. I'm glad she isn't walking around with the full
size baby carrier anymore -- it was a  definite tripping hazard.

Giving the well-loved Baby Jenna an extra snuggle. Or else
nursing her. It's hard to tell sometimes.

Using the full size baby carrier. Pre-doll-carrier, pre-haircut,
pre-potty training. Total safety hazard.

Plus poor Teddy was forced to ride very low, indeed.

On her actual birthday. Wearing her 
awesome "two" outfit. 

Thanks Surlymama for the awesome dress!
I just don't understand why Mommy won't
let me wear the matching underwear
every single day. They are my favorite!
Looks so cute from the back!
 Has great coverage for sliding AND
easy access for the potty -- perfect!

What's not awesome about naked plus older cousin's backpack?

A hand towel is the perfect size for staying up while wrapped and
tucked around her, just like Mommy

Obsessed with sunglasses, and actually keeping them on for a moment.
New sayings: "I need that!" -- generally something of mine that she most assuredly does not need.

She also walks around saying "proud me" because I say, "I'm proud of you" when she tells me she needs to use the potty. This is an example of a time when she uses pronouns correctly. But she still says "help me" when she wants to help, well, me, and means "help you."

She is suddenly helpful in putting books and toys away, sometimes, and sings "Cleam up, cleam up" as she does so. Of course, when I actually ask her to "cleam up" she generally refuses.

She loves being asked "are you okay" and will often prompt me with a "you okay?" question, just so I will ask her and she can gleefully respond, "yeah!" Sometimes I hear her practicing in the crib, "Kyopee (Calliope), you okay? Yeah!"

When I want her to say please, I say, "can you ask me nicely?" and she responds, "Nice!"

She is starting to recount things from the past. When we were playing with a plastic airplane toy, I asked if she remembered flying on an airplane to see Grammy in Boston. She replied, "Ana! Swimming!"

I was amazed -- she remembered seeing her cousin, Eliana, aka "Ana" and going swimming with her, several weeks prior. That was the first time I'd seen that. She also talks about "cats, hiding" after feeding the cats downstairs for a few days.

When I get out my bike, she stands in front of me and calls out excitedly, "Here comes, bike!" as she helpfully beckons the bike to roll towards her.

She's making good progress with colors. She has added yellow, white, and blue to her reportoire over the last several weeks. Green is a work in progress, and black is on the distant horizon. Purple, pink, red and orange are firmly established.

She went through a phase right around her birthday of being very concerned about her belly. Namely, where was it when it was covered by her pajamas. So we went through a couple of weeks of "Belly?" "Still there!"

During the day, she prefers to be naked at all times, and going out requires a careful negotiation, explaining that we aren't allowed outside without clothes. She finally understands that we also have to sit on the potty before we go outside.

Potty training continues to go well. She's still averaging one accident a day, most days. Generally at the end of the day when she's tired. But so far we haven't had any disastrous accidents, so I'm pleased with her progress. Our next step is working on using the toilet more. Yesterday she did so several times, which was great. I'm still bringing the potty with us wherever we go. I have to figure out when it will be safe to just hurry her out of the playground and to the closest public restroom. Am I alone in feeling like this will be a lot more work for me?