Thursday, January 30, 2014

It's a New Day

Thanks to all for your wonderful comments.

Wottadoll, no, of course you didn't hurt my feelings! Not at all. Your comment just startled me and made me think... in a good way. It's a good thing to be self critical sometimes, just a little bit.

Claire, I loved what you said about small children not holding grudges. What an excellent point.

I realized last weekend that it's hard for me to apologize to Calliope when I've hurt her. How awful!

I think it's easy for me to apologize to others when their pain is not my fault. As in, "sorry you aren't feeling well," or "sorry your husband is being such a jerk." But harder for me to apologize when someone else's pain is my fault.

Point taken. I need to work on getting comfortable with apologizing. Especially because I ask Calliope to apologize when she hurts someone. I can't ask something of her that I don't ask of myself.

And you know, maybe teaching myself to apologize will take the pressure off. Because I admit I've been a bit down these last few days, thinking about all the ways that I don't measure up to the standards I'd like to achieve. But if I am willing to apologize, it's okay if I am less than perfect.

I love what SurlyMama said, "I'm learning that apart from bringing her into this world and be charged with teaching and guiding her, she is her own person with her own will and while I am her mother and feel like I can demand certain aspects of our relationship to be a certain way, I need to try to treat her with the respect I would give any other person in my life (you know the ones that can leave if I get too b*tchy)."

And yes, this is it, exactly.

And R, yes, I still think that setting limits is important. More than ever, actually. Because a friend of mine is constantly nagging her daughter, but not following through on consequences, so could be seen as "nice." But I see how her five year old rolls her eyes at her mother and treats her with shocking disrespect sometimes. And her mother is so lovely and caring and considerate. I can see that being "mean" every now and then -- carrying through on consequences the daughter would hate (in the moment) -- would probably improve their relationship dramatically.

Anyway, I said it's a new day (in the title of this post) because I realized I was starting to get bogged down in all the things I was doing wrong.

So here's something I did right.

Eleanor stayed for dinner last night. Her mother, Amy, arrived shortly after the girls started eating.

Eleanor is with Calliope forty hours a week, and Calliope adores her. But I think having company so late in the day is hard for Calliope. So she tends to hit and swat and screech and generally act in a way that doesn't make one long for a second child.

And then she reenacted one of her favorite tricks, guaranteed to enrage her favorite playmate. She put on Eleanor's jacket -- successfully zipping it up without. Looking very innocent. (She usually also climbs into Eleanor's stroller as well.)

Eleanor saw this, screeched "No Calliope! My coat!" and burst into tears. Amy and I tried to stifle our laughter as I patiently explained to both girls that the coat is Eleanor's, and Calliope would be taking it off now.

Calliope took off the coat agreeably enough... then snatched Eleanor's mittens out of Eleanor's diaper bag and announced gleefully, "My mittens!"

Eleanor lost it again.

Poor Eleanor. She is Calliope's testing ground for sibling behavior.

Of course, Eleanor can dish it out too. She likes to climb into Calliope's booster seat and announce, loudly, over and over again, "MY booster seat." Even when Calliope is in another room. Because she knows it will piss Calliope off.

After the mittens were successfully removed, Calliope went to Eleanor, now in the stroller, and gave her a little shove.

Time out.

But my rule with time outs is that she doesn't have to do them alone if she doesn't want to. Because I read something about how they can be so damaging. I have no idea if this is true, but giving her the choice of doing them alone or with Mommy feels safe. Usually, after time outs alone, I ask, "do you need a hug?" because she is sniffling and clearly in need of comforting.

So I put her into time out on the couch, alone. I was standing a few feet away, talking to Amy as she got ready to leave, when Calliope burst out, "I need a hug!"

Fine. So I sat on the couch with her and held her firmly in my lap and wouldn't let her slither down. And refused to talk to her. And set a timer for two minutes.

After the two minutes were up and Amy and Eleanor left, we had almost an hour until bedtime. And so, rather than make dinner for myself or clean up the kitchen, I asked, "do you want to go play with toys in your bedroom?"

I think it took her a little while to understand that I wasn't trying to get rid of her, but would come along.

So we went into her room and took out the Legos. After a couple of minutes of me building something, she took the pieces out of my hands and set to work. So I sat back and silently watched, biting my lip to avoid commenting and interrupting her concentration. No praising of her tower unless she asked for feedback.

This is Mommy staying the h*ll out of it.

She worked for nearly a half an hour, with minimal interaction with me. I took a few pictures but otherwise didn't play with my phone, or comment, or interact. Just sat there.

And she was so happy. To play with me safely in her sight.

And bedtime afterwards was a breeze.

A good lesson to me. Something I did well. Hallelujah.

Playing with Legos as Mommy watches quietly from the sidelines

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


I've been thinking a lot since my last post. I'm not sure I can put it into words, my thoughts, but I'm going to try.

Wottadoll's comment really struck a nerve with me. It made me really take a step back and question myself. And I didn't entirely like what I saw.

I think, overall, I'm a good mother. But this self-reflection made me realize some of my motivations... and I don't always like them. I love my child... but I especially love her when she acts the way I want her to. When she's quiet and obedient and clever in just the ways I want her to be. That is, working on a puzzle, or reading books, but not inconveniencing me.

I don't like this. She's not a person to be molded into my expectations.

I think there's a pleasing, if ugly, aspect to parenting (hopefully not just for me!) that is this: finally, someone that I can control! Someone I can bark at when I'm irritable, cuddle when I'm tender, cry over when I'm feeling raw.

This is really unfair to my child.

I guess the thing I keep coming back to is this: I want to be someone that my adult daughter, my darling Calliope, years from now, will want to hang out with. Secretly, I hope she'll want to be my best friend. But barring that, at least, good friends. And that means being a good person now, when I have all the power. Being fair and just now, while I have the choice, so that she will respect me as a person, not just as her mother, when she's older.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Crabby Abby

I noticed this morning, rushing from home to the subway to meet friends and go to a new play space, that I was feeling crabby. I was rushing Calliope along, and being abrupt with my SMC friend's five year old (who I had offered to watch for the morning.)

And I was watching, as if from a distance, thinking, "What do I have to be snappy about?"

I had almost no plans this weekend, and I got up Saturday morning and put away the laundry and went grocery shopping. And Saturday afternoon I did a big cooking project, so I wouldn't have to cook for a few days.

So what do I have to feel stressed out?

And if I'm this irritable with one child, do I really have any business having another?

My parents were awfully short tempered, and it wasn't a nice way to grow up.

And I notice that I am quick to correct Calliope, quick to instill consequences. I don't know how much is too much. Should I be letting more things go?

All in all, I'm not feeling like a big fan of myself.

And also, I feel this unbearable longing sometimes to be alone. On weekend mornings, I crave just a few more minutes to myself. Whatever I get, it's never enough.

So this afternoon, during Calliope's nap, I took a few minutes to sit down with myself. And I started to think, "Dude, what gives???"

But then I decided to be gentler. So I said to myself, "Gosh Abby, I notice you are feeling really irritable lately. And maybe instead of cracking the whip -- because when does being annoyed lead to a feeling of greater friendliness? -- we could just sit down and notice the feeling. Notice it, and acknowledge it, and agree not to make up an explanation about it. But just try to slow down and let go."

So I sat with that for a few minutes.

And afterwards, I felt a little better.

And tonight, I noticed that I didn't scold Calliope when she dallied in the bathroom. I just waited. And when my five year old friend came to us in tears because her project wouldn't work the way she wanted, instead of letting her mother address it while simultaneously cooking dinner, I stopped my grown up conversation and said, "Aww, that sounds frustrating! Would you like some help?"

And tomorrow, I'm going to take a sick day -- I was scheduled to go to a conference so the school won't miss me, and the thought of traveling to this confernece Queens is just too overwhelming. So I'm going to take a day to just lie around. And let my child go out with her nanny as scheduled. And get some time fully alone in my apartment.

I feel so much better already.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Little Engine That Could

(In case you don't remember the story, a train with lots of dolls and toys and food for children can't get over the mountain because its engine stops working. So it keeps stopping other engines and asking for help. Eventually, a tired little engine agrees to try, and by saying "I think I can I think I can" it manages to pull the train over the mountain.)

This is Calliope's re-telling of that famous story.

Plus, can you tell that lots of adults have commented recently on how long her hair has gotten?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Follow Up With the Doctor

After Sunday's scary episode (two days ago), I decided to take my next work day (Tuesday, after MLK day) off to take Calliope to the doctor. Mostly for settling my jangled nerves.

I medicated Calliope as usual (for this exacerbation) yesterday but skipped her morning meds since we had an early appointment -- I figured it would be helpful for the pediatrician to see her without any short acting medications in her system.

She was noted to still be wheezing. The doctor is switching her to a high dose steroid for the next month, entirely via nebulizer, and then we can step down the dose a bit after a month if she does well. We are to continue the oral steroids for the full five days. And I'm to do chest physiotherapy after all treatments -- basically, clapping her on the back, sides, and chest, to break up the chest congestion and help it drain towards her stomach.

I've already forgotten to do the chest PT.

I'm disappointed about the nebulizer because it's really hard to get her to sit still for it. At least she's over her initial terror of it.

I have caved on my approach to TV for her -- none -- and am allowing children's programming (through the internet, so no commercials) as it's the only possible way to keep her still. She won't let me fasten the elastic of the mask around her head and gets tired of holding the mask to her face so I have to hold her in my lap to keep it over her mouth.

Tonight she watched Blue's Cl.ues for the first time and seemed to like it, but two respules of Pulmi.cort plus one respule of albuterol was too much for her... just took too darn long. So we didn't finish it. I will keep trying.

I asked the doctor how to know when it's time to call 911, and she said, "if things suddenly change for the worse and nothing you are doing is helping."


So I totally should've called 911.

And now I'm kind of freaked out about how stupid I was to take her out into the cold for a walk to the subway, and then riding the subway, with her feeling so bad.

It's just so hard to get over the idea that 911 is for "real" emergencies. Stupid. This was one.

Hopefully I won't make that mistake again. It would be great if I don't have the opportunity to make that kind of mistake again.

Blue's Clues PLUS Mommy's lap (to hold the mask for her) PLUS
pacifier... girl's got it made!

Until she realized that there was a little hole in the side of the
nebulizer mask, just big enough to worm her thumb in. And if she
scootches the mask just slightly to the side, she can get that thumb
into her mouth. Ahh.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Scary Day

Last night, Calliope felt a little warm. I checked her temperature -- not quite a fever at exactly 100. She had the beginnings of a little dry cough, so I gave her a couple puffs of bronchodilator (via a spacer -- a holding chamber that allows folks of all ages and abilities to use an inhaler) along with her twice daily dose of inhaled steroid. She started taking that a couple months ago because she's been wheezing with every cold this fall.

Not particularly worried, I tucked my little girl into bed, well, crib, and turned out the light.

She started to cry shortly thereafter so I went in to check on her, but could find nothing wrong. And again, thirty minutes after that.

Finally, about 9:30 pm, I hauled her out of bed and checked her temperature again. Up to 101.5. I gave her a tablet of ibuprofen to chew on, a sip of water, and two more puffs on her inhaler.

I went off to bed myself, figuring it might be a long night.

And indeed it was. I lost track of how many times I heard her wailing from the other room, bolted upright, and ran to her crib. Each time she was moaning and crying, rolling in her crib, but not particularly interested in comforting from me. I scooped her up a few times anyway, but she typically twisted away from me and back towards her crib again after a few moments. I offered to bring her to my bed, but she would stop moaning long enough to say distinctly, "No."

At 3:30 am, I gave two more puffs on the inhaler.

She was up for good at 6:30 am, asking for food but then refusing to take a single bite. At that point, she started to wheeze in earnest. I gave her two puffs on her inhaler at 6:30 and 7:30 (I'm supposed to give it not more than two puffs every four hours, ordinarily) and she was showing no signs of improvement.

At 7:30, I called the doctor's office, not sure if they had office hours in their new location. Indeed they did not, but they connected me to the doctor on call who, comfortingly, is Calliope's regular pediatrician. I told her that I thought Calliope needed oral steroids, but wanted someone else to give me permission. She said yes, to start them. And that we would talk during the work week about changing Calliope's preventative meds to something stronger -- she's been having too many episodes like this.

So at 8 am, I gave the maximum dose of oral steroids, and stopped worrying for a bit. I started working out, and coordinating plans with our friends downstairs.

But when I would pause the exercise DVD for whatever reason, I would notice that Calliope's breathing was getting louder and louder.

So finally I unpacked the nebulizer machine that my cousin had handed down to me. I hadn't used it thus far because studies say that the inhaler with the spacer is just as effective... but clearly that wasn't working, and it was time for something new.

So I set up the inhaler, and turned on Elmo's Potty Time. For my non-TV watching child, this is a huge treat. So she was surprisingly cooperative.

She finished the treatment and I went back to working out... but kept noticing that she still wasn't getting better. Her exhales were getting more prolonged and requiring ever more effort. The muscles around her ribs were pulling in. I timed her respiratory rate and it was fast, but it was below the rate another doctor had told me was the true danger sign.

Finally I asked my friend to come up from her apartment downstairs to see Calliope. And I texted the doctor to tell her that C was still getting worse... but was playing happily... and was it safe to wait a bit longer for the oral steroids to kick in?

My friend was reassuring me, reminding me that if my child was playfully trying to pull my shorts off, she couldn't be struggling that badly. And then my pediatrician texted me back to say that it was okay to wait a few hours to see if Calliope got better.

So I told my friend we would be ready to go to the farmer's market in a few minutes.

I got Calliope dressed. Got myself dressed.

And then, suddenly, I just felt wrong. Wrong to go do fun errands with my friend with my child breathing so very noisily.

So I updated my friend by phone, and bundled Calliope into her hat and coat and then into the cozy bunting of her stroller. I threw a few things into a bag, including my phone charger a pair of clean underwear for myself as well as her. Because I had the distinct feeling that hospitalization was not out of the question.

And suddenly she started to whimper. And gurgle. It sounded like she was having trouble swallowing her saliva.

I started to panic. I quickly called my friend back, to see if she could run upstairs. But she didn't answer.

Nervously, I wondered if I should call 911.

I decided that maybe she was just overtired from her terrible night's sleep, and not just tired from working so hard to breathe. And also that she might be overheated.

So I plotted that I would get her outside, into the cold air, as quickly as possible. And then, if she was still gurgling, I would call 911 from just outside my building.

Luckily the gurgling stopped in a couple of minutes. And she mostly stopped crying.

I listened anxiously for the occasional whimpers as I pushed her stroller briskly towards the subway, figuring that as long as I heard whimpering, I knew she was still breathing.

She coughed like crazy on the subway, which made her cry weakly, but otherwise seemed a little less distressed. Probably mostly because she was covered in coats and blankets so I couldn't see the heaving of her chest.

We got to urgent care and were seen quickly. The idiotic medical assistants never even asked why we there, just "so she has a cough?". I let them continue because one was obviously training the other. Finally, towards the end of their interview, one asked, "she doesn't have a history of asthma, does she?"

"Yes, she does! That's why I'm here! Can't you hear her wheezing?"

"Oh, yes, now that you mention it, I do." Seriously?

After that, they got the doctor right away. He put Calliope on a continuous nebulizer treatment for about 45 minutes, with one drug we'd already been using plus a new one.

Thankfully, she started to improve quickly.

The doctor said afterwards that if she hadn't improved so dramatically, she'd have gotten admitted to the hospital for sure.


We are back home now. She's much better, though wheezing a little as she comes close to the end of the four hour window when she's due for more medication.

She's to stay on the oral steroids for five days, plus a bronchodilator every four hours, plus the twice a day inhaled steroid she was already taking as a preventative medication.

And I think I'm taking Tuesday off from work to bring her back to her pediatrician. To discuss taking her to a pulmonologist. To figure out why these preventative meds aren't doing their job. I want to understand why my child, with no eczema and no food allergies and zero asthma symptoms between colds, has this increasingly dramatic wheezing with every viral illness. Wheezing that seems to ramp up from 0 to 60 with no warning.

Today was a frightening wake up call that asthma is not just an annoyance. It's a real danger to the lives of our precious loved ones.

Thank god mine is safe.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Love Jail

I mentioned the book Playful Parenting a while back on Shannon's blog, and I was supposed to share suggestions.

I think the book is great, and I definitely recommend it, especially for parents who are struggling with discipline.

Here's a game I invented, based on his suggestions.

Love Jail: I capture Calliope against me (while I'm sitting on the floor), hug her tightly against my chest, and say, "You'll never get away! I'm way too strong to ever let you escape!"

And then, predictably, I let her worm her way out of my arms and sputter in mock surprise"Wait a minute, how did you do that?" while she giggles uncontrollably.

Rinse and repeat.

The author talks about how kids love pretending to be more powerful than their parents. Of course when kids actually have more power than their parents -- like when kids are allowed to make the rules in the family -- it's really scary for them. But in pretend, it's great.

So wrestling, and letting them win, is great.

Another one is asking them for something silly, begging, and letting them say no.

I do this with kisses. I ask Calliope, "Pleeeeease can I have a kiss??? Please, just one???" in this very exaggerated, drawn out, pleading tone. She grins and says "No!" gleefully and runs away. Then I crawl after her and plead again. Oh, the giggles this produces! (When I am leaving for work and ask for hugs and kisses in a more normal tone of voice, she clearly knows the difference and generally acquiesces.)

An overarching theme of the book is that even though it's uncomfortable, we grown ups need to spend some time on the floor, playing with their kids and letting them direct the play. Even if it's something we hate, whether Pokemon cards or video games or Barbies. I feel very lucky that Calliope's not yet interested in games that drive me crazy. Pokemon cards would be a real struggle for me. Mostly we do puzzles together. Or we sit down to read books at night and she looks at me sternly and says, "No Abby. No reading, Abby." And then she flips through the books and murmurs little comments to herself that generally have nothing to do with the story, "Hi Bink. Oh, you want to come on the bus? Okay? Okay!"

And I lie on the floor next to her and idly wonder if I will be asked to read or if I will just lie here until her reading time is up and it's time for bed.

I noticed how much I fail at this when we went to the Children's Discovery Museum in Acton, MA, over Christmas break. Calliope wanted to spend the whole time we were there, it seemed, in the first room. A very small room, which was cold because it was the gateway to the rest of the museum from the entrance. It was a train room, and she wanted to stand behind the mock ticket counter and stack up the play tickets and the play money and then shuffle them and do it all over again. Over and over and over again.

And I wanted to get out of that drafty cold room. And wanted her to see the cool play kitchen on the third floor. And mainly, just wanted her to get the best experience she could out of the whole museum.

I managed to curb my impulses for the most part, apart from the occasional "offer" to try another room, for about forty-five minutes. My nine year old niece wandered back after a while and she seem just as entranced by the mock ticket counter as Calliope.

It's really hard for me not to want to hurry her along, so that she can get "even more enriched" by some other enriching experience. It's so hard to let go of control and let kids move at their own pace when we grown ups are so sure we know better.

Monday, January 13, 2014

More T42 Thoughts

I really appreciated Claire's sharing that Fiona's transition to preschool was tough, and that separating Calliope's two big transitions makes a lot of sense. A couple people I've told have scoffed a bit (nicely), and said things like, "Oh, kids are resilient." And yes, kids are. But why put her through that if I don't have to? And also, not all kids are unscarred by these transitions. I'd like to maximize my odds of having a happy, healthy Calliope. Why not?

To Wottadolla, I don't think I would do more IUI's or IVFs. I will be forty next October. My eggs are presumably not nearly as robust as when I started TTC'ing at age 35. More to the point, though, I'm not sure how many cycles of TTC'ing I could bear. With 9 blasts on ice, that's quite a few before I'd have to go back to the drawing board.

I'm also not sure stomach the experience of another IVF. I had severe complications with my first IVF, including ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and hospitalization. I have zero regrets, and didn't have any at the time, either, but I'm just not sure I have the emotional stamina to gut up to that again.

So I think that BFN's from all those blasts will feel like a sign that I am meant to mother just one small soul. If I didn't already have this fabulous child, I would feel differently. But I'm so happy with our life now.

But I reserve the right to change my mind. Perhaps getting back on that TTC roller  coaster will make me obsessed. I sort of hope not. I didn't enjoy that phase of life much. I don't think anyone does. I'm already dreading the two week wait. I'm hoping it's a lot easier with a child already in my life.

Amy, I want to hear more about your adventure! I'm guessing that you don't blog about it because your family reads your blog.

To Ali, your comment, "Looking back, stepping out, and taking that leap to become a SMC the first time was pretty scary. I often wonder if I will feel like I'm taking a leap the second time, or not. " really struck a nerve because I had been just having this same thought earlier today.

So far, it feels very similar. It feels crazy. And I can't exactly explain why I am doing this. My basic justification is "it feels more right than not doing it." Not very compelling reasoning.

A leap of faith is exactly what it is.

I think about Claire and her many bouts of bad luck (kidney disease for her oldest daughter, severe hearing loss for her second, and a flood in her condo) and Shannon (her son had a cancer that fortunately hasn't required treatment beyond monitoring) and all the many things that can go wrong, and wonder if my blase attitude is smart or stupid. Is it better to worry about all that can go wrong, or to just squeeze one's eyes shut to the risks and just jump?

Then, too, most SMCs that I know that live in NYC only have one child. The finances of having two are just so tough. And it's not like I make a lot of money. I make a solidly middle class income, like teachers and police officers. These salaries were never meant to support a family and pay for full time childcare.

And yet, I'm doing it anyway. Trusting that the universe will somehow provide. And that I will somehow make it work. Even if I am forced to make compromises I hadn't anticipated.

Still, with all this, I'm walking around these last few days with a feeling of giddiness. Which makes me feel like I am making the right decision.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Exciting New T42 Plans

So my plan had been to attempt to conceive late next fall, so that Little Sibling would be born a couple of weeks after Calliope (hopefully) starts at full time public pre-k in the school where I work.

I figured she'd be well established with her own life and I could stay home and nest with my little one.

But then, thanks to my childhood friend, Emily, I realized that the plan might backfire. Calliope might feel very much pushed out of the nest in favor of Little Sibling.

Emily suggested that I consider having the baby in the spring so that Calliope's life would otherwise be the same, apart from this one big change. She'd continue with her nanny and her preschool co-op and I'd be around to smooth over the rough spots, but also have some free time to lie around with Little Sibling. (For silly reasons having to do with short term disability, I'd prefer to give birth during the school year. And I need to keep my nanny, regardless of whether I'm home, so Calliope might as well be with her.)

This idea feels really right to me.

But also really revolutionary. Because I was expecting to start trying next November or December, and now it looks like I might start trying in May. Of this year!

I can't believe it. Can't believe I'm ready to rock the boat when things are manageable but not what I'd call easy. But I think it may not feel truly easy for a long time.

I've been feeling baby hungry these last few days. Not that that's indicative of anything, really -- I mean, they are sweet, helpless newborns for about five minutes, and then you're so sleepy you can't really enjoy it -- but it's certainly helpful when contemplating the craziness of another pregnancy, childbirth, and toddlerhood.

Financially speaking, it all feels pretty foolish, but I'm stubbornly refusing to think about it. I have some safety nets and I'm, once again, trusting that things will all work out.

Technically speaking, I've got nine 5-day blasts. I'm planning  to start one month earlier than my ideal, as I think I'd rather have a baby a month earlier than I prefer versus a month later. I know, people make plans and God laughs. But my 5-day blasts have pretty good odds of success, I think. Although I tempted fate by transferring two embryos last time (and actually was disappointed not to conceive twins!), I now know that one healthy baby is my desired outcome. It's scary to me now, to realize all the health risks with twins. So I'm planning to do single embryo transfers next time. If it doesn't work the first two attempts, perhaps I will reconsider. But maybe not, too.

If not of my blasts work, I think I will consider it a message from Fate to be content with my lot, and will move on with my life.

So May it is. (Unless my mother -- who is quick to present the downsides to any plan -- convinces me otherwise.)

Holy smokes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Talking About Babies

Conversations with Calliope are still new to me, and a surprise every time. But it seems they are rapidly becoming the norm.

Here's tonight's topic: babies.

Back story: today's playschool assistant is the mom of one of Calliope's classmates. She also mom to a brand new baby, George. Baby George came to playschool today for the first time. Calliope was fascinated by him.

Calliope, "Mommy, the baby's hungry. The baby's hungry, Abby."

Mommy, "Oh, the baby was hungry?

Calliope, "Yeah, baby's hungry. He's hungry, Mommy."

Mommy, "Baby George was hungry?"

C: Yeah

M: What does Baby George eat?

C: (triumphantly) Milk! 

M: Right. Where does he get milk from?

C: (gleefully) From his Mommy's neh neh! 

M: Hey Calliope, would you like to have a baby in our family some day?

C: (thoughtfully) Yeah. (pause, then excitedly) I'm gonna have a baby George!

M: Well, if the baby was in our family, we would give her a different name. What would be call her?

C: (pauses, looks thoughtful, then bursts out) Salt Lick! 

(Auntie Salt Lick is Calliope's godmother. That is, obviously, not her real name.)

I Need a Cup!

Last week, I set Calliope up at her little table in the living room with some playdoh, and was luxuriating in a cup of tea and catching up on the SMC Forum in solitude.

Suddenly, Calliope comes running into the kitchen and announces breathlessly, "I need a cup!"

I handed her a plastic cup from her kitchen stash, and followed her to the living room where she determinedly filled the cup with blue playdoh.

It wasn't much of a plan, but she had one. And it occurred to me that this was the first time that I've seen her truly have a plan like this and express it to me. Of course she's set up little things with her doll and putting it in the carrier or needing a blanket to wrap it in... but something about this felt different. She was imagining an outcome that I couldn't see, and acted on it.


Some More Crappy Photos

Checking Mommy's belly (with the scanner from her cash register).
How did she get the idea to do this? Very weird.
I was dreaming of a half an hour to drink tea and check email alone-ish on a Saturday morning... but instead Calliope
sat down RIGHT next to me. And wanted her own tea. So this is me, embracing the moment, in all my sleepy rumpled
glory. (Obviously she wasn't sleepy AT ALL.)
The transit museum (underground in an old subway station, but
heated) is a great place to go on slushy cold days. Especially if
you'd like to drive a bus.
Requisite photo of ridiculously dressed toddler, ready for 
short-lived snow play.

Post Script

You know how I mentioned in my last post that we've sometimes been doing nights diaper-free? I've been meaning to write a post on that.

Well, last night I had originally planned to do a diaper-free night because she'd been dry the previous two nights, but then she just went off the rails so dramatically right at bedtime that I decided it wasn't the right night. It seems like she does best with staying dry when she's not overtired.

Of course, then she took off her diaper when putting on the giraffe costume. Because, you know, giraffes don't wear diapers. Obviously.

Or something.

She always takes off her underwear, too, to try things on. Thus it was that she was naked in Eleanor's apartment the other day when she spied Eleanor's snowpants and wanted to try them on.

Anyway, I had just shrugged my shoulders and not fought it. Because I didn't want to take her out of the crib and try to wrestle her into a diaper when she wanted the giraffe costume.

And so, naturally, she completely soaked the bed. At only 12:30 am.

Seemed a fitting end to the evening.

(After just reading Claire's post, I feel I have no right to complain. So this isn't complaining. It's just a wry shrug of the shoulders. I figured maybe it was almost funny.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Snapshot From Tonight

Amy was running late and the girls were hungry, so I started dinner. Their first "course" was frozen corn. Eleanor likes it warmed in the microwave. Calliope prefers it in its "natural" frozen state. (She also likes to eat frozen (but fully cooked) breakfast sausage.)

Then there was cherry tomatoes, possibly slightly over the hill and roundly refused by everyone.

Until the piece de resistance, fish sticks with ketchup. Mmm!

I was always against the idea of fish sticks, but Calliope has seen my freshly baked salmon about a hundred times and still refuses to have anything to do with it. So fish sticks seemed like maybe a reasonable way to introduce her to fish?

You know, I had all these grandiose ideas about how my child was never going to be introduced to processed foods, and thus would never know to ask for them. (Stop laughing.)

And then I got a kid who had no interest in solid food. And stopped gaining weight. And fell off the growth chart for weight.

And so I decided to lower my standards. And she decided to start eating. Unrelated to my decision, but not unnoticed by me.

And now she eats pretty well -- a decent variety and reasonably well rounded -- and it's not tons of processed stuff. And she's got a nicely rounded little belly now, though she's not what you'd call rotund. But she just got introduced to fish sticks last week because it just didn't seem like salmon was going to work out anytime soon. And because Eleanor likes them. And because it's one more option in a not very long list.

But hey, they are organic! I think.

Fish sticks, and later rice cakes, went off without a hitch.

Then Calliope announced that she needed to pee. And didn't want me in the bathroom with her. A first.

So I waited patiently in the kitchen until she called for me... only to discover that she had peed all over the bathroom floor while jockying the toilet seat ring and stepping stool into place.


Eleanor and her mom finally left and we began the bedtime routine. I asked her to get two books. She wanted to read in the living room for a change. Fine.

She got her books and settled down next to me.... and announced, "Don't read the book, Abby. Don't read it, Abby."

Oh yeah, she's been calling me Abby more and more lately. No idea why. Maybe for added emphasis.

So she "read" for a while, then she gave me a turn, then snatched it away from me. I took it back, and told her she had to ask me nicely for it.

Cue meltdown.

Then she started to swat at me.

Story time over.

I brought her into the bedroom for tooth brushing. She tolerated it with only a little crying.

I put her in the crib. She asked for Boppy, aka a pacifier. She's a hardcore thumb sucker, but got interested in the pacifier again when she was sick a while back. I think because Eleanor has one.

I handed her the pacifier. She sucked on it for a minute, then threw it out of the crib. I picked it. I asked if she wanted it. She wouldn't respond.

Fine. I put it back in the dish. I had no reserves left for singing. For the first time, I just pulled down her shades, turned on the fan, and issued a quiet "good night."

She cried quietly, off and on, for a bit. She turned on the lights in her room. I went back in and moved her crib away from the wall. I've threatened to do this if she turned on the light in the past. This time, I didn't give any warnings. Last time's warnings should've been enough, no? I just moved her. No energy for warnings.

She cried some more.

Thirty minutes later, all was quiet in her room. I peered at the murky darkness on the screen of the baby monitor, and saw what looked like a naked shoulder. I went back in to investigate.

She had taken off all of her clothes, including the diaper (which she wears some nights but not others, depending on the patience of her mother) and was attempting to put on the giraffe costume that normally is stored out of reach of the crib (for this very reason).


I didn't have it in me to fight. I started to laugh. She looked up at me and giggled, too. I helped her put the costume on and closed the door.

I just went back in and she was sleeping peacefully. Wearing her pajamas. Giraffe costume piled next to her. I'm astounded she managed all that without help. And I'm grateful she's asleep at last.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Taking A Break From Romance

After a reader comment a while back that I was posting about romance too much, I've been hesitant to share here.

But another reader asked for an update, so here's the news, in a nutshell.

Old Flame and I have been spending increasing amounts of time together, nearly every other weekend. And not just a Saturday night date thing, either, but an entire weekend, or much of one.

It was great... a lot of the time. Other times, it felt weird. Like we were out of sync, somehow.

I'll leave out a lot of the pondering and musing I did, and leave it that I decided, and informed him, that we need to take a break. That the fact that he isn't divorced yet is muddying the waters too much.

What I told him is that things feel like they are moving too fast, given the fact that he is still married. But in truth, and upon further reflection, it's more than that. It's that our heads and hearts can't be in sync while so much of his energy is tied up in the marriage, and in the as yet undecided situation with his daughter.

What's cool about this is... I feel absolutely great! I have no regrets. I'm not sad or lonely. I feel 100% confident that I will be completely happy if we never get back together. If he does get his act together, and we try again, and it feels good, well, then that will be great, too.

Pre-SMC journey, I don't think I would've ever had the strength of conviction to ask for a break. I wouldn't have respected my own needs enough. And would've let things fester, and become resentful, until at last I just ended things.

Now, I know that I have a fantastic life. My gorgeous child, my wonderful village of friends, my supportive family, my healthy work life balance.... it all leaves me so fulfilled. And if he wants to be a part of that life, he's got to get his act together. That's on him. But my happiness, that's all me, and it's unscathed by him. I am, and will continue to be, happy.

I love dating as an SMC. I'll never be dependent on a romantic prospect for my happiness again.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

You're Welcome

Lately, I've frequently been reminding Calliope to cover her mouth when she coughs or sneezes.

And so now when I sneeze (and dutifully cover my mouth), Calliope calls out cheerfully, "Bless you, Mommy!"

Then comes running over a few seconds later, claps her hand moistly over my mouth for a moment, then looks at me intently and says,

"You're welcome, Abby. You're welcome."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Welcome 2014

And goodbye to 2013.

It was a great year. My girl has grown and bloomed. Life is getting a bit easier. She's talking more and more, and it's fascinating. I love getting bigger and bigger peeks into her little mind.

Watching her dance around the living room yesterday, New Year's Day, stark naked, I felt so blessed. Her gorgeous little body, lit up by sunlight. She's not perfect, but she's perfect for me, her wholly imperfect mother.

I could do a better job of things, for sure, but on the whole, I think I'm doing a great job with her. There's plenty of limit setting and lectures and consequences... but that's the card you are dealt when you have a toddler.

There's lots of smiles, too. At night, as I sing her goodnight songs -- first "You Are My Sun.shine" and then the Shema, a Jewish blessing -- she tries her hardest to make me laugh, mid-melody, by chortling in a hearty fake laugh. It usually works. I start cracking up, and sometimes have to drop her into her crib and run for the bathroom. She loves it. We laugh and laugh together.

My mom got sick this year. And that's terrible. The long term prognosis isn't good, not at all. But the good news is that the chemo is working, for now, and she's feeling better than she has in a long time. Calliope (and her mother) bring Grammy a lot of joy in an otherwise quiet life. So that's a blessing, also.

Life is all so good that it seems crazy to change it... but I think that 2014 will be the year that I begin to trying to bring another child into the world. I think I'd like a four year age gap, or maybe a month more.

It's breathtaking to consider being pregnant again. Mostly not in a good way.

I can't imagine being that tired again. And raising a toddler at the same time. Last time, I took a two hour nap after work. Every. Single. Day.

Until my midwife finally ran routine bloodwork at the end of my second trimester, and diagnosed anemia. Taking iron supplements meant I finally felt human again.

I was starving every morning, and too tired by evening to want to eat. My compromise, as prescribed by the midwife, was to have a smoothie with protein powder for dinner each night.

But I'm pretty sure I can't make my toddler have a smoothie for dinner each night.

The nausea hung around until the end of my first trimester. Protein, not carbs, made me feel better... but the sight of cold chicken made me want to hurl. That limits my options.

My feet hurt after standing for five minutes, long before I was showing. How do I manage that with a toddler who still wants to be held? (I understand that she doesn't need to be held, and I do try to limit it, but she's still my baby and she still needs comforting now and then.)

Then I worry, what if my child is an &ssh*le to my second kid? Will it be the great tragedy of my life? This happened to a friend of mine. And sort of happened to my brother and I -- we fought horribly. It was miserable.

Ooops, I didn't mean for this post to turn negative.

Despite my many fears, I'm cautiously excited. Although I can easily imagine all the hardships, it's hard for me to anticipate the joys. But I had the same issue the first time around, and I'm happier than I could ever have conceived, heh, of.

Here's wishing we all have a joyful and healthy 2014.

Making cookie... I got to taste plain sugar for the first time

I didn't like the outfit Mommy picked, so I picked this summer shirt
with winter PJs. For best effect, it's important to tuck in the shirt 
really tightly and then pull the pants up as high as possible.

Ready to visit our downstairs neighbors. No matter that we aren't
going outside and that it's after dark. Sunglasses are about
fashion, not function.