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
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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 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?