Sunday, May 30, 2010

On Why I've Been So Lame

I tend to avoid writing about my life in a "So, here's what's going on with me, lately" kind of way. Mostly, because my life isn't very interesting. But, I need to put this out there because I don't want the few people who read this blog to give up on me due to its sparsely updated...ness.

I didn't update last weekend because we went to Sea World, and I was all geared up to write about the perils and pitfalls we encountered travelling with a tiny toddler. But, I returned from my trip to a situation that required my immediate attention and all my time and energy, so that never happened.

So, on that matter, I will only say this: those of you with the kids I see in malls, amusement parks, and the like, sleeping in their strollers? Those of you that don't have to sit around your hotel for hours while the rest of your party is chilling with Shamu, so your baby can nap, so she won't be a total jerk all day? I hate you guys.

Seriously! Who ARE these kids that just go, "You know what? I'm feeling a little sleepy. I think I'll just recline in this here stroller and check out for a little while." And more importantly, why can't MY kid be like that? She will be falling all over herself, drunk-ass tired, but the second I recline her in the stroller, she's like "I'm up! See? I'm bouncing, I'm kicking, I'm FINE. Put my seat back up."

So, yeah. There was a lot of 5 A.M waking, hotel napping, Sea World missing, fun. But, there was also swimming in the hotel pool, Shamu gazing, and lots of good times.

But, I digress. What's going on is that we currently live about an hour and a half from Chris's work, and after six years of commuting, he's pretty much done. So, we've been wanting to move about 45 minutes closer, to an area that we can (sort of) afford. Trouble is, we bought our house when the market was booming, and we are crazy upside down, like heads-buried-in-the-ground upside down, so selling is out of the question.

Long story short, due to a renter falling into our laps, we're renting the place out and moving.

In three weeks.

Yeah, last week seemed hellish because we were scrambling to get the house ready to show to our tenant (weird to say). Now that she's agreed, we want to accommodate her as much as possible because she's like a dream as far as tenants go, so we need to find a place and be out by the last weekend of June.

So, I know this is all very tedious and we'd both rather I was writing about how Charlotte threw a toothbrush at my eye the other day, but this is just to let you know why posting has been light, and will continue to be light these next few weeks. I'm sure I'll find time to get on here and bitch about how much I hate moving, and oh how I HATE moving. But, I know I won't have as much time as I would like to really write the way I love to do.

So, keep your fingers crossed that we find a place to live, so that we don't have to move in with my mom or in-laws, and that I don't go totally insane trying to pack and downsize all the crap we've accumulated in the past six years.

I don't have a good feeling about this...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bad Baby: The Sequel!

Since I'm fresh off the discipline post, I thought I'd give you all an inside look at what kind of brattiness we are up against these days.

Let me preface this by saying that unless Chris sees any of this behavior with his own eyes, he is convinced I'm lying. Or exaggerating. Or mistaken. And, even when he does witness a transgression, he never thinks she means it, never sees any malice. This isn't due to "not MY child" syndrome; he just think Charlotte's too young to be testing her limits. Let's all tell him how wrong he is, shall we?

When our niece, Athena, was three, we were watching her and her sisters at our house. Chris had left the three of them in the other room for a minute to come tell me something when we heard the one-year-old baby start wailing. We ran in there to find her holding her face and immediately looked at Athena. As she began her story about how the baby "fell and hit her face on the wall. Yeah, that's it! The wall!", our eldest niece, Mikala, was pretty much like, "Yeah, I'm gonna have to stop you right there, seeing as you SLAPPED her."

And Chris couldn't believe it. He didn't want to believe it. It was like telling a kid that Santa isn't real or that their favorite basketball star is a rapist (What? That's totally appropriate for kids.) He was crushed. "But, she's so little! She can lie already?" I hated to have to tell him that kids are pretty much BORN lying.

So, Chris thinks it's a coincidence, and not precociousness when Charlotte waits to make sure I'm looking before doing something I've just told her not to do. Like when I've pulled a knick-knack out of her hand at my grandma's house, said "Don't touch", and then she waits a few minutes, walks over to the forbidden item, pauses to make sure I'm looking, SMILES, and then reaches for it. I tell Chris about it, prefacing the story with, "Man, Charlotte is such a butt...", and he cries "No, no! Surely not. She's not that advanced." Um, advanced enough to be a butt. Looking...shifty

She's also a showoff. Yesterday, we were visiting my grandma and her house guest. Charlotte threw her sippy cup, and, as always, I asked her to pick it up. Normally, she will comply with little to no coaxing, but now that there was a new person watching, she decided to draw the process out as long as possible. She was like, "Maaaaybe I don't wanna pick it up. How about I just push it with my foot? Maybe I'll just lie here on the ground for a minute first." It was so unexpected and so hilarious, it was hard not to laugh through my stern admonitions. In the end, I "helped" her pick it up by holding her directly over it. Not a total win, but she's one, you know? And, at least she picked it up.

I joke about her being a brat, but really I know she's just a normal toddler, seeing what she can get away with. And she's also very sweet. She gives me kisses, sometimes when I request them, and some are impromptu. She seems to be aware of the power of her kisses. She knows how much I love them, which, I can only assume, is why she has hit me in the face, only to quickly try and distract me with a kiss before I have a chance to admonish her. It only kind of works. See? Sweet!

She also shares, though, usually only when she wants to and on her terms. Though, she did steal a muffin from a two-year-old at the coffee shop last week, so that sort of negates any sharing she's done recently.

There are days (like today) where she is pushing my buttons all day: screaming at me in the fabric store because I'm carrying her and not letting her pull all the spools of ribbon off the shelves, pushing my hand away when I try to help her color, and whining for the entire car ride home. Those days, I put her to bed, breathe a huge sigh of relief, and pour myself a glass of wine. Okay, so I do that every night, but some days I do it with more zeal than others.

Then sometimes (tonight) she'll wake up screaming a few hours after bedtime, and when I pick her up to comfort her, she opens her heavy eyes, pulls the binky out of her mouth, smiles, and softly says, "Hi".

And, I seriously forget about all the times she bugged the hell out of me throughout the day. I suppose that's her diabolical plan.

She's GOOD, that one.
And here she is playing with chalk. Why? Because it's cute. And holy crap, I have a TODDLER.

Friday, May 14, 2010


This week's topic is discipline, and in case I didn't alienate enough people with my hippie food snobbery, I'm gonna go for broke.

I have decided to not spank Charlotte. I say "I" because this decision, while one that will be respected and adhered to by Chris, was mine alone. Chris is pro-spanking, and until recently, I was, too.

Now, let me get this out of the way: I don't think spanking is child abuse (unless it is, in fact, child abuse), but your run-of-the-mill swat on the butt or average spanking is not something I'm going to be reporting to authorities or anything. I will also say that I know plenty of kids who were/are spanked who are amazingly well-behaved and have loving relationships with their parents. I will FURTHER say that there are perhaps children for whom spanking works better than alternate forms of discipline.

But, I have a few fundamental problems with spanking. The first being the whole (perhaps too obvious) "do as I say, not as I do" conundrum. I know, I know. Children have to know that there are different rules for adults sometimes, but something as basic as "Keep your hands to yourself" seems to me like a rule that should be universal. I just can't imagine disciplining Lotte for hitting by...hitting her. Maybe that's not how it's done. I suppose there could be myriad consequences in a parent's arsenal, and hitting is just one, reserved for special circumstances.

I don't know. All I know is that the few times I've tried to stop Charlotte from touching something she shouldn't by smacking her hand, it didn't work. She didn't even seem to notice. So, what? I need to hit her harder to make her notice? That's not something I'm willing to do.

Furthermore, I feel that whenever I have an urge to spank her, it always seems to come from an angry place. Like, I got down to her level, looked her square in the eye, told her "No" in a stern voice, removed her from the situation eleventy billion times, and now I want to smack her. But, I don't. Because that just isn't okay with me, and frankly, that feeling makes me uncomfortable.

Creepier still, perhaps is the very calm and calculated way in which people summon their children to them for a spanking or inform them that one will occur at a later time, like when they get home. So, I guess there's just no win for me in this method.

Does this mean I'm doomed to have an unruly and disrespectful child? I don't think so. Right now there's only so much she can understand, but she does get the concept of consequences. She knows that certain behavior gets her desired or undesired responses. She knows that if she stops whining and grunting and reaching for the banana and says "Das?" (her version of please) she will get that fruit, which for her is like manna from Heaven. She knows that if I ask her to hand me something, and she doesn't, I will take it from her. And she knows that I will ignore her when she proceeds to have a meltdown about it. And what she doesn't know, she'll learn, and her consequences will evolve as her behavior does.

I'm not saying what I (and again I say "I" as Chris has yet to tell her no. Yeah, the guy who wants to spank her can't even utter a simple response in the negative, so maybe he's all talk.) am doing is perfect or right or best or that it will work for your child or even that it will work for MY child in the long run. But, it's what feels right and best to me, whereas spanking does not.

Feel free to disagree with me. In fact, I would love to see a dialogue here on the subject. I'm not claiming to have done extensive research (or any research at all) on the psychological effects of spanking or not. Again, I'm just following my instincts, and I'm curious to know what everyone's thoughts are on the matter. In other words, please don't hate me, but, do, please, tell me I'm wrong if you think that's the case.

And don't forget to check out all the other additions by clicking on the badge by Accidents, which will take you to our host, Perpetua's, blog.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fess Up Friday: The "Be Careful What You Wish For" Edition

Remember when I told you that Charlotte was a Daddy's girl? And remember how I said it really bugged me?

Well, a couple weeks ago, Charlotte wasn't feeling well, and during those few days of fevers and crankiness, she was all mine. She didn't want anyone else (not even DADDY!) to hold her. She wanted to cuddle with me, wanted me to put her down for naps, and wanted me where she could see me, damnit! And even though she's nowhere near that level of clinginess these days, it seems to have triggered something in her, because she's been all up in my business since then.

And, my confession?

I love it. And, I hate it.

I guess the latter is more...confessiony. That is to say, of COURSE I love finally being the preferred parent most of the time. It's a nice change of pace. I love seeing her little arms reach for me, love hearing her ask "Mom? Mom?" when Chris collects her after a nap, I even kinda love when she cries for me when I have to leave her (I know. That's just a little bit sick).

But, I also HATE when she cries for me because if there's one emotion that can really fuck me up, it's guilt. It eats me up, ruins my day. Guilt is the reason I've been a crappy sleep trainer, the reason I give Charlotte a cookie when I've made her sit in the car too long, and the reason I nurse her every night at 3 A.M., even though every evening, I say I won't. So, even though it's an ego boost to have Charlotte want me, it feels wrong and unnatural not to go to her when she cries for me.

But, sometimes, I can't. And this is where the real problem lies. Even though, yes, I am a stay-at-home mom, and yes, it is primarily my responsibility to take care of her, I occasionally need some time to myself, I need to work out, I need to WRITE. Most of the time, it's fine, because she still loves her daddy. So, I can duck out for an errand or grown-up coffee date and leave her at home. But, being 15 minutes into my workout at the gym and having the daycare page me to inform me she's been booted for her wailing? Not so cool.

And then there was the night she spent in our bed a few days ago. She acted like she was being physically assaulted each time we tried to put her in her crib. It was late. We were tired. We suck at sleep training. What more can I say? So, there she was, in our bed, kicking and chatting, and sitting up. Chris and I are exhausted, and I decide to turn my back to her, hoping to check out and let Chris deal with her for a minute. I no sooner roll over when she starts SCREAMING. I didn't even leave the bed! Apparently, she needed me to watch her not sleep. Later she grabbed her bunny and cuddled up to me, leaving Chris alone on his side of the bed. This made him sad. Which made me feel guilty.

It's like I said before: I know her favoritism will come in waves. So, I'm soaking it in now, while I can. But, that doesn't mean it isn't a tad stifling at times. Like when I'm just getting a good sweat on the elliptical, after haven driven twenty minutes to the gym and standing in line to check her into the daycare, and I have to pack it all up and go home. Or when I want to get some sleep, and she'll have no one but me keep her company in the middle of the night. Or when she's being carried down the hallway at nap time, reaching and screaming for me, and I have to deal with the guilt of not going to her because I selfishly want to hand that off to Chris so I can have a few moments to myself.

So, the moral here is "Be careful what you wish for." Because you just might get it. Though, anything involving a baby that cute could never be all bad.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Beating (But Not Eating!) a Dead Horse

I thought I would give a little update on how we're doing with the food thing.

I'm still a little surprised to find myself still so caught up in the organic/whole-food craze. I was really caught off guard when my mom announced that she made two casseroles: one with meat, and one without, for me and my uncle's vegetarian wife. Huh? Since when do I require a meatless entrée? I was surprised until I thought about it and realized I hadn't eaten any meat in a week. Not because I'm a vegetarian. I'm not. But, because I decided to limit my family's meat intake (ask Chris how happy he is about this)and to make the meat we DO eat, hormone and antibiotic free, grass-fed, organic, blah, blah, blah.

I know. I'm finding myself a tad obnoxious, too.

It's weird because my sister has been advocating for dietary changes like this for years. And, I want to give her credit. She has made me much more aware of my impact on the environment and about the food that I consume. She's the reason I buy fair trade coffee. She's why I started questioning where my meat comes from and why I buy organic milk.

But, I'm also lazy, and I also happen to love fast food. So, even though it wasn't without a twinge of guilt, over the last few years I've consumed many a Big Mac, wastefully Swiffered my way across my kitchen floor, and nuggeted my baby up, McDonald's style.

I'm not sure what exactly made me snap, but boy have I snapped! I've replaced all my cleaning supplies with Seventh Generation stuff (I'm sure it would be better to just clean everything with vinegar, but I have my limits), I'm cooking stuff like quinoa and soy chorizo (which, incidentally, even Chris says tastes EXACTLY like its greasy, pork counterpart), and I vow not to feed any more fast food to Charlotte until she is old enough to ask for it, and even then, it will be a RARE occurrence.

It hasn't been easy. It took about a week for the fast food demons to leave my body, enabling me to not crave it all the time. I drove an hour to go to a farmer's market so I could get not only fresh, but more importantly (for environmental reasons) local produce, and I spend eternities in the kitchen.

Seriously, throwing away some Jack in the Box wrappers or tossing a frozen lasagna into the oven takes, what? A few minutes? I swear, we spend hours every day in our kitchen. Charlotte runs around or gets into the Tupperware cabinet, or else Chris is feeding her in her booster seat, while I chop, steam, boil, sauté, blend, etc. And the dishes. Oh, how I loathe the dishes! And the thing I hate most is thinking I'm done, and upon triumphantly leaving the kitchen, seeing Charlotte's damn tray, smeared with yogurt or, worse, covered in dried bits of broccoli. Scraping that stuff off is the bane of my existence.

But, like I said, I do have my limits. I certainly didn't turn down the Chinese take-out at my in-laws' house yesterday because I didn't know where the meat came from. Nor did I balk when Chris shared a cupcake with Charlotte today. It's all about moderation. Something I've always tried to practice, but have only recently been any good at.

Why am I telling you all this? I don't know. I'm not trying to be sanctimonious. Being more health and environmentally conscious just happens to be something new in my life, something I am proud of because I work really hard at it.

I hope I can maintain this lifestyle. Too often in the past, I've gotten all excited about something, and it's fizzled before I even began. I hope that the desire to set an example for my child to respect her body and the planet will trump the desire for convenience and delicious trans fats.

There's no trans fats in wine, right?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fess Up Friday: The Pink and Sparkly Edition

A couple weeks ago, the ControverSundrians wrote about gender. I don't exactly remember why I didn't partake, but I've been thinking a lot about it since then.

The general consensus was that when it comes to gender norms and expectations, it's best to let our children lead the way. For instance, don't refuse to buy your son a baby doll or a Barbie because it's a "girl" toy, but don't force one on him either because of your own agenda to raise a progressive child.

I totally agree with this, in theory. It's how Chris and I plan on raising Charlotte, in theory.

I think it's easier for girls anyway; they can play sports, they can dance, play with dolls, play with Tonka trucks, wear dresses, wear overalls, and so on. In fact, I think most girls who dip into the "boy" category now and then are just considered cooler than their pink and sparkly counterparts. If a little girl can sport a tiara while kicking a soccer ball, she's bad ass. If a little boy does the same, everyone is sure he'll grow up to be gay. It's beyond stupid.

My confession is this: I will be very disappointed if Charlotte turns out to be a major tomboy. I will support any endeavor in which she shows interest, and I'll do it with a smile. I won't push her in any direction except the one she's pointing to.

But, I will quietly mourn the mommy/daughter pedicures, the tea parties, the frock films she won't want to watch...all the stuff I envisioned when I found out I was having a girl, all the stuff I did with MY mom.

But, we'll always have the outdoors.

And rocks!

It's weird because I'm not even very good at being a girly girl. I can't style my hair, my makeup skills are rudimentary, at best, and I hate to shop. I love hiking, don't mind getting dirty, drink beer, and check out more girls than I do guys. But, man, put something glittery in front of me, and I go mad for it. I played "house" well into my adolescence. I make it a point not to know how to work anything even remotely technological.

I also admit that the reason I say we are raising Charlotte without gender sterotypes in theory is that the child's wardrobe is pinker than a bottle of Pepto. Even Chris is guilty; I'll dress her in her engineer overalls, and Chris will want to change her into a pretty dress.

I think it's cooler to say that you hate the color pink and won't let your daughter have a Barbie. I think that's what the hip, enlightened moms say. And maybe I'm influencing her already by assuming she'd prefer the Disney Princess chair to the Bob the Builder one. And maybe I'm wrong to do so.

But, I think as long as we keep taking her hiking, Chris keeps trying to get her to like bugs (gross), and we let her choose her own activities, it won't really matter that she's wearing a shirt with purple butterflies on it.

Or, a pretty dress...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I've been trying to get my act together enough to write a ControverSunday post or really just ANY post, but for some reason, my brain is all mushy. So, I'm going to ease myself in with a few random thoughts, and maybe I'll get back on track by the end of the week.

-Quinoa is one of the weirdest foods I've encountered in my quest for a healthy diet. Is it soft? Is it crunchy? I guess it's both. In any case, Charlotte gobbled it up, which is good since it's apparently some kind of superfood. But, you know what isn't? Dirt. And since I forgot to wash the quinoa before cooking it, I'm pretty sure we're all eating a little soil mixed in with the protein and grains.

-Charlotte calls me "Mom". Not mommy or mama. Just Mom. It's really cute to hear her say it, but I was hoping to get a few years of the mommies before being known as Mom. At least it isn't "Mother!" in an exasperated tone.

-I really hope the fifteen minutes a day of Sesame Street I let Charlotte watch (30 minutes if it's a bad day) is not responsible for this, but the kid has the attention span of a gnat. Hopefully it's just her age, but I was dismayed to have to chase her all around our favorite coffee shop today while my friend's 19-month-old sat and played in the kids' area like a good, little girl.

-Eventually Charlotte's little friend caught on and joined in the parading all over the coffee shop fun, but you know what she didn't do? Throw at least three tantrums while we were there. Seriously, removing Charlotte from a dangerous situation, taking a toy from her, picking her up when she doesn't want to be held; all of these will result in a toy being thrown, some shrieking, and me getting hit in the face. So, I look into her eyes, hold her hands away from my face, and say very sternly, "We do NOT hit/throw toys/yell." And she stops wiggling, meets my gaze, and says "Hi!" Something tells me I'm not getting through to her...

-Chris and I suck really hard at establishing and sticking to, a proper sleep routine for the baby. She still sleeps about twelve hours at night and takes an hour and a half nap, but the methods by which we accomplish this are haphazard, at best. Bedtime is fine, usually. She nurses, then puts herself to sleep in her crib. But, now that I'm having pain nursing, I need to think about weaning, and I definitely can't be nursing her one to three times in the middle of the night. Nap time is a joke. It's a mixture of rocking, driving in the car, some CIO, and begging and pleading. Something will be working for a while, and then either we mess it up, or she does. And something works one day, but won't the next. It's just...exhausting.

-I'm going out for drinks with a friend this weekend, and I'm very excited. I almost wrote my ControverSunday post this week about "Drinking and Mothering" because I feel like I talk about drinking wine/craving drinks/drinking a lot, and I was wondering if I was being judged, if it was socially acceptable, if anyone cares as much as my paranoid brain thinks they do, that I enjoy my alcohol. But then I realized I was being silly. I drink, but I rarely get drunk, and only when I'm not responsible for the baby, which is...almost never, anyway. So, I'm okay with it. But, I guess I'm still curious about people's feelings on the subject.

-I'm starving. So, I'm gonna go eat some dusty quinoa.