Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tis the Season for Colds

As I've said, we had a great time at the inlaws. However, many of them were sick, and of course the Pumpkin picked it up. And is passing it along to me and Londo. Such is the way with colds and kids. It's times like these when Londo calls kids petri dishes.

The Pumpkin has been coughing and sneezing and has such a runny nose, which she still doesn't like getting wiped. Naturally, she is not sleeping well because of being sick (on top of her normal not sleeping well). So she is extremely tired during the day.

This morning, the skin around her eyes was all red (this is how they get when she is super exhausted) and she was so droopy in my arms. We took a shower together--I was hoping the steam would help clear her up--and afterwards, when I bundled her in a towel and held her in my arms, I thought she might fall asleep! She's a poor little thing, and it's breaking my heart.

I made her cream of wheat this morning, since that's always something good when you aren't feeling well. I told the nanny to let her watch her new Winnie the Pooh movie and TV shows today, if they wanted. It's really the only way to keep her still (now that she actually sits to watch shows), and she needs to be still and resting. When she runs around, she starts coughing even more and her nose starts running even more.

Hopefully, the day of resting will help her recover. And hopefully Londo and I won't get it too bad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Question of the Week - Looking Forward

I'm back from the country mountains. We had a wonderful time at my inlaws, and we had a great Christmas. It seems like pretty much everyone I know had a more laid back holiday this year. Most people I know didn't get out holiday cards, didn't get their holiday baking done and did their shopping at the last minute. So I don't feel so bad about that. And I'm ready to move on from the holidays. Next up, 2009!

I didn't do so well on last year's resolutions. This year, I'm not going to bother making any. I've just got too much going on to make any lofty goals. And by lofty, I really mean all goals, even the mundane. Because it all seems so lofty right now.

Instead, I'm going to think about the good things coming in the new year, and I hope you'll join me, because today's question of the week is...

What are you looking forward to in 2009?

I think the obvious for me is the arrival of the new baby in June. But also, I'm looking forward to the Pumpkin turning 2 years old and all the new things she will be learning and able to do in the next year. Even before the birth, I'm looking foward to finding out the sex of the baby and getting everything in the house ready for the arrival. We are planning to switch the Pumpkin into a new room and move the new baby into the current nursery, and I am really excited about decorating the new room (I'm going with a Winnie-the-Pooh theme!).

As I do every winter, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of summer. This winter has been hard on me, but I know that as spring comes and then turns into summer, I will feel so much better.

I'm also looking forward to some new opportunities at work. I hope they are good steps in my career, and time will tell.

And I always look forward to another year with my husband. Every year in my life since I've met him has been better than the last, and I expect no less of 2009.

How about you? Got anything good coming in the new year?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Trip

I have made it successfully down to the in-laws. The dog and I left way later than I wanted to yesterday, and of course there was traffic, but we got in about 10:15, safe and sound.

Londo and the Pumpkin made the 5-6 hour trip down on Saturday afternoon, and I had a glorious three nights of good sleep by myself! I got all sorts of laundry and dishes done during the day. I got the dog bathed, clipped, cleaned and vaccinated. And I caught up on one of my favorite shows (Bones--I love it!) in the evenings.

Although that was the longest I've ever been away from my child, I was really thankful for the time alone to do the things I wanted/needed to do and for the sleep.

Now, we will have Christmas down here at the in-laws, and a good time will be had by all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Question of the Week - Holiday Traditions

Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it!

There are so many holidays this time of year, from Christmas to Hanukkah to Eid to Kwanzaa to the Winter Solstice. (I'm probably missing some--please forgive me if I am.) Holidays tend to be a time for gathering together with family and friends and taking part in traditions.

As a Christian, I celebrate Christmas and all the hoopla that goes along with it. Growing up, it was always a magic time of year. A bright spot in the middle of dark winter, full of family, good food, presents and traditions. Some of my favorite associations with the holiday are decorating the tree (tinsle is my favorite part of the tree, and I was always the designated tinsle decorator), playing Christmas carols on the piano with my dad, pulling out the figurine and placing it on the handmade cloth advent calendar each day of December, setting out the figures in my mom's beautiful creshe and hot cider with cinnamon and (when I was older) rum.

On Christmas mornings, whichever of us kids woke up first would wake the others up. We'd wake up my parents, and while they got out of bed, we were allowed to run downstairs and open our stockings. That gave my parents some time to wash up and make coffee. After that, we'd have some breakfast and then get to the important business of opening the presents. We took turns, youngest to oldest, which was ideal for me as the youngest.

Now that I have my own family, I can't really think of many traditions that we have created yet. Londo and I have always opened one present on Christmas Eve, and I'm sure we'll keep that tradition. Every year, I do holiday baking with my niece (except this year, because I'm too tired :-( but we are going to do New Year's baking instead), and I can't wait until my children are old enough to participate in that. But that's pretty much it. We trade Christmas and Thanksgiving between my parents' house and my in-laws' house. But that's not really a family tradition so much as obligations to the larger family. So I'm still working on thinking what our traditions will be. I hope to get a creshe and an advent calendar like my mom has, but I hope to create some that are just ours.

So the question of the week is:
What holiday traditions do you have with your family?

Share anything special you do with your spouse and kids, or things that meant a lot to you growing up.

And Happy Holidays to everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Middle of the Night Visitor

You know how the Pumpkin is not a good sleeper and needs us in the middle of the night? You know how we moved her to a twin bed? You know how she is very capable in the physical department? Well combine all that, and you get our newest sleep development.

The Pumpkin is now getting up out of her bed, opening her bedroom door, walking down the hall (we are VERY careful to make sure the gates at the stairs are closed these days), walking into our room, climbing up the stairs to our bed (they are stairs for the dog, who has a bad back and we have a very high bed), and into our bed with us.

I personally prefer this, because then (ideally) we don't have to get out of bed. Some nights, she climbs in, goes right back to sleep and sleeps most of the night! Last night she climbed in around 12:30 and slept until almost 7:00!

Of course, most nights she is fidgeting, kicking, flailing and constantly moving, as is her way. The trouble with her in our bed is that when she is moving and kicking, she is keeping both of us awake. So that part sucks. And sometimes one of us just ends up taking her into her bed and sleeping with her there.

Also, Londo isn't sure he prefers her just coming into our room, because it startles him. He said that he wakes up thinking that the toddler isn't where he left her/she is supposed to be, and it freaks him out! Plus the stairs she climbs to get in bed is on his side of the bed, so seeing her head pop up or suddenly feeling her on him is a surprise. I almost always wake up when I hear her shut her bedroom door behind her or our door behind her (she likes to shut doors). So lately, I've been waking Londo up when I hear her come into our room to give him a heads up, which seems to help.

I know eventually we will have to lead her back into her room, where she will hopefully go back to sleep by herself. But right now, with it being winter and me pregnant and her going through a tough phase, this is just easier.

So the easy way wins out again. The toddler may visit us in the middle of the night as needed for the next few months.

Is it any wonder why I'm always so exhausted?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pregnancy This Time Around

It occurred to me yesterday (when Sharina commented that she had to search back to find my announcement--and thanks, Sharina!) that I haven't been talking about my pregnancy much. But been there, done that, so I'm not as obsessive as I was with the Pumpkin. Not only is this pregnancy different from the last, but I'm also a different person in different circumstances than I was when pregnant with the Pumpkin.

The main difference is definitely that I'm not as obsessed. I'm also not as worried or stressed about this pregnancy. I still do worry, and I was especially worried until I was released from the fertility center to the OB. But in general, I'm just kind of going along and trying to get through it. I'm so busy with work and with the toddler, that it's easy to be distracted. In fact, I'm probably a little too distracted, considering I should have made my second OB appointment for last week and I still haven't called to set it up.

One major difference is that when I was pregnant with the Pumpkin, I had spotting on and off during my first trimester. This time, I haven't had that, which really helps the stress over the pregnancy.

There are other minor differences, such as this time the nausea seems to be lasting longer, and the acid reflux/heartburn has come early (making a really fantastic combination). When I was pregnant with the Pumpkin, in the first trimester I had horrible pains in my stomach in the middle of the night (I was told they were just gas pains, not really a knife stabbing my middle). I would wake up doubled over in pain and moan on the floor until they went away. I'm really REALLY happy to say I didn't get those this time.

My stomach has definately popped earlier than last time, as I was told it would. I'm at the limit of normal clothes in my closet (in the largest size I have). This weekend, I plan to pull out the box of maternity clothes and change over my closet so I don't have to see the cute little things that I can't wear anymore. I will also borrow my sister's maternity clothes, which she lent me last time. We agreed we would share the clothes so neither of us would have to buy a whole new wardrobe. We are generally the same size, except I'm shorter and needed to buy my own pants, and we like generally the same styles.

This time around, the stomach popping is what finally makes me feel like I'm pregnant. Sure, I've had multiple blood tests and ultrasounds, but that's kind of surreal. Sure, I've been nauseas and exhausted for weeks, but that just was making me feel bad not pregnant. It's the bulgy tummy that makes me realize there really is a baby growing in there.

Last pregnancy, I was so exhausted for almost all of it. Everyone said that the second trimester--the honeymoon trimester--would be so much better and that I'd get so much energy. In the fourth month, I got back some energy and felt about normal, but no extra energy. And that was it. By the fifth month, I was back to exhausted, which only got worse as I went over 41 weeks. I was on an emotional rollercoaster for most of the pregnancy too. So far this pregnancy is pretty much the same. The exhaustion may even be worse, since I have a super active toddler who doesn't sleep well.

Londo has been taking on so much. He does every winter, when I'm always so tired. But with the toddler, there is just a lot more to do--more than one person should or even can. I'm helping as much as I can, but boy, all I want to do is good to bed at 5:00 in the afternoon and stay there when I wake up, just laying in bed all day doing nothing. Unfortunately, I've got RESPONSIBILITIES and can't just check out from life for a couple months.

Now that I'm almost 14 weeks, I'm hoping that the easier months go better for me. That I get a little more energy (okay, I'd really like a TON more energy). That my nausea goes away and my heartburn doesn't act up too much. That no other lovely pregnancy symptoms start up just yet.

So there are differences this time around. Some better, some worse. Mostly just different. They say each pregnancy is different, just as each child is different. But since I've done it before, it isn't as new and strange as it was the last time. And I enjoy not obsessing or stressing about things this time.

I'm going to fess up here: As much as I want this baby and am so excited to be pregnant, I don't really enjoy being pregnant. I find it hard and uncomfortable most of the time. I'm not sure I'd be able to do it again, so the debate over whether or not Londo and I will have 2 or 3 kids may be decided.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Question of the Week - Gifts For/From You

For many of us, this is the season for giving and receiving gifts. Of course, I have not yet done my Christmas shopping. Or gotten cards out. Or done my holiday baking. And the only decorating that has been done was by my husband (thanks Londo!). I have had some major deadlines going on at work, winter is not my good time of year (because of the Seasonal Affective Disorder), the toddler is STILL not sleeping well, and the pregnancy is making me exhausted. I can barely keep up with the housework (okay, I'm not keeping up with it), let alone do extra holiday things.

But this week, I am determined to take a half day at work and get my shopping done. Maybe even get some decorating done.

At least I've been thinking about it. I've been trying to figure out what gifts to give, and what gifts do I want. We do Secret Santa for my family and Londo's, so that means I'm buying only one person in each family a gift. But we do buy gifts for all the children, and Londo and I will get each other a few things (under a dollar limit we've set). My family requested that our wish lists be sent out weeks ago. I sent out one for the Pumpkin, but not for me.

So here is today's two-part question of the week:
What gift(s) do you want this year? What gifts do you like to give?

As for me, I truly love gift certificates, especially to bookstores. There is no point in anyone buying me clothes, because I'm at the limit of my larger sizes in my closet and about to get into maternity wear. (I really did pop quicker with this child!) I'd like books, maybe some CDs, maybe DVDs, but really, I just have no idea. I hope whoever got me figures something out, because I sure can't.

I like to get the kids toys and/or books. If I know what style the adult likes, I might get clothes, but often I get books or games (like board games). Wow. Apparently, I'm all about the books. Luckily, so is my family and some of my in-laws! If I see something else that just looks right, I will get that.

One of my best gifts was a beautiful key chain engraved with names, which I got for my sister and brother's wife a few years ago. One was a purple butterfly and the other was a blue flower. They were really lovely, and both ladies actually still have them on their key chains!

How about you? What gifts to you like to receive and give? Was there any big gift that was especially a big hit? Share some ideas with me... I need them!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Personalities Affect Our Parenting

Londo and I had an interesting talk the other night. We were talking about the Pumpkin and her physical abilities. I told Londo that I thought he might be underestimating her capabilities. He responded that I might be overestimating her capabilities. I said that that might be true, but also that I expect that she will fall and hurt herself and was okay with that. Which I am except, of course, if it is fall from a significant height or by sharp corners and things like that.

I got thinking about this later, and I believe that I was wrong about what I first said to him. I don't think the difference we have in what we think she is physically capable of. Well, we do have slight differences there, but it's probably not as vast as it feels. I think what I said later is really the issue we have.

My husband tends to think about the worst case scenario and plan for that. This is a really great trait to have, which has helped him at work and at home. I do love that he can do that. He is all about preventing unnecessary problems. This translates to the Pumpkin, as well as for me and the world around him. Londo analyzes situations at a glance and is able to see what could go wrong. He then figures out and implements what to do to prevent it. By doing so, he often points out to me accidents that could happen that I didn't think of or situations where I didn't see the danger.

I do not think that way. I absolutely can analyze a situation for potential harm and do what is needed to prevent it. However, I usually have to stop and decide to analyze. It is not second nature to me the way it is to Londo. I tend to think instead of what I consider the most likely scenario and evaluate if I'm okay with that scenario or not. Usually, I don't consider the worst thing that could happen the most likely thing that will happen.

Let's use the example that started this discussion the other night. We have a pretty tall bed, and we have stairs next to the bed so that the dog (and now toddler) can get up on the bed more easily (our dog has a bad back). I told Londo about how the Pumpkin now wants to walk down the stairs from the bed by herself without any help. There is no railing for her to hold, and so Londo worries about her trying to walk down by herself with nothing to hold. I explained that she holds the bed post (it's a four poster bed) for the top two stairs, but he was concerned that the post was not helpful enough, espcially since she couldn't reach on the bottom stair. He is concerned that she is not stable enough and will fall. I view it as she is pretty stable at the top, and if she falls from the bottom two stairs, it's not so far that she will get hurt badly--just a little bump and started.

This difference in parenting also includes the fact that Londo would rather put up with her fit and fussing but make her hold his hand while she walks down every time she goes down, while I would rather not have the fit and fussing and let her go down herself every time even though one or two of those times she might fall. I also think I'm more likely to let her try new things that she wants to try, while Londo is concerned about why trying that thing would be dangerous.

I don't think one particular way of thinking or parenting is better than the other. In fact, I think it's good for her to see that there are different, valid ways to look at the world. But these differences in our personalities and parenting styles can cause disagreements. We work them out, and we both have to make concessions (yes, I do make concessions). It's part of the constant dialogue that Londo and I have in our marriage, which I'm sure will only need to increase as we have future another child and as our children get older.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let's Do That... Later...

When the Pumpkin wants to do something or go somewhere, she knows how to ask for it. When she asks, I repeat it back to her, and if she really does want that thing (rather than just saying something she thought of because it popped in her head), she says, "Okay, let's do that."

For example:
Pumpkin: Mommy, poo poo potty?
caramama: Do you have to go poo poo on the potty?
Pumpkin: Okay, let's do that.
(This is as opposed to her answering: No! No poo poo potty!)

I think this is an incredibly cute phrase for her to use, and she uses it very regularly. She most likely picked it up from me responding to her with that same phrase when she asks to do something or go somewhere. (She also says "Do it!" to herself when she is about to do something big, like jump off the bottom step. Again, I think this is from telling her to "Go ahead and do it" to let her know that I'm okay with whatever she is about to do.)

The Pumpkin asks for a lot of things these days. She knows what she wants, and she regularly demands it. Unfortunately, she can't have everything she wants at the time she wants it. This is why I LOVE the word "later."

I'm not sure she exactly gets the concept of later, but she seems to kind of understand. She knows it's not "no" but she also knows that it's not "yes, you can have that right now." Most of the time, if I tell her later, she will say, "Okay. Later." And she will usually stop asking for it (at least for a while).

For example:
Pumpkin: Mommy, go outside?
caramama: It's raining outside right now. We'll go out later.
Pumpkin: Okay. Later.
(This is as opposed to me saying "no, we can't" and her demanding: Outside! I wan (want) outside!)

Sometimes? After she's agreed to later? She forgets she about it completely and later never comes!!!

I try not to abuse the power of the word later, because it has power unlike any other word in my vocabulary for my instant-gratification demanding toddler. In fact, I usually try to do what she wants, like letting her color with crayons or giving her a cracker. There are other times, when the answer is simply "no" and I move to distract her from activities such as pulling on the lamp's electrical cord.

But then other times, when I know she really wants it, and I'm okay with it but just don't want to deal with the mess/hassle/energy required/bad timing/etc. It's those times when I pull out the power of the word LATER!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Question of the Week - My Child's a Supergenius, But...

You all know how I feel about babies/toddlers/kids all being supergeniuses. It's simply amazing the things they learn and how quickly they learn. But physically, mentally and emotionally. Really, they are all amazing.

The Pumpkin is no exception. She really is a supergenius. She has been fast to develop her motor skills and communication skills. Physically, she is currently working on jumping, which is soooooo cute. She bends her knees and then straightens them, getting a little lift off the ground, although it's usually one foot and then the other. Sometimes she gets both off the ground at the same time! And then she says, "Good jump!"

As for verbal skills, she has had word explosion after explosion. I could not possibly count all the words she has, but let me tell you a story of a walk Londo, the Pumpkin and I took a couple weeks ago, in which Londo and I had just been talking about how she picks up just about every word we say:

Pumpkin: Look at the tree!
caramama: Actually, that's a bush.
Pumpkin: Bush!
caramama to Londo: She's like a sponge.
Pumpkin: Spone (sponge).
Londo: That's irony.
Pumpkin: I-o-e (irony).

But that's not what this post is supposed to be about. Yes, my child is a supergenius. And yours is too. That's a given. But each child doesn't develop ahead of the curve in every area. I'm afraid that always talking about how great they are at this and that gives the impression that there aren't struggles, that everyone else's kids are all advanced in every way. I'm afraid that that might make some parents feel bad about their kids who don't develop as fast in some areas or have real delays. So in an effort to help us all realize that each supergenius also has struggles, today's question of the day is:

In what areas does your child not develop as fast as you expected?

I've been pretty vocal about my daughter's problems learning to self-soothe and sleep well. She's just not good at either. However, there is another area that I don't think I've talked about much that has surprised me.

Since the Pumpkin has started to play with toys and read (okay listen to) books, she seems to do better with toys and books geared towards children younger than her age.

For example, she is currently almost 21 months and I just pulled out some older toys we had put away for a while (we try to rotate toys), and she is really getting into some of the toys with the label for 12 months and up. She was not interested in these toys at 12 months. And at 12 months and a bit older, she was starting to get into toys labeled for 6 months and up.

As for books, she still cannot handle books with long text or with paper pages, since she will rip them. She prefers books that are more interactive, with tabs and things to touch and feel. Yet I remember hanging out over the summer with a friend and her daughter who was about 17 months, and her daughter would sit still on her lap and listed to long pages of text in paper books and want to hear them again and again. My friend tried to read the same books to my child (at the time about 15 months), and she got bored very quickly, got off her lap, and started to climb on things.

I'm not concerned that she is delayed in any way. She is just developing these skills in her own time. Really it's her personality too. Anything that she has to sit still for is not something she gets that into. Yesterday, I tried her with big lego-like toys, which she was okay with, but she had more fun picking it up and pulling it apart while walking around. She just isn't a sit-still-and-figure-it-out kind of girl. She is a climber and a talker, though!

What about your child? Is there an area that you were surprised about his/her development? What does your supergenius struggle with?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Stomach Virus Visiting (and Re-Visiting)

Thank you all so much! What a wonderful, supportive group of people you are! I hate to move from my really great news to the stomach virus the Pumpkin has, but that's what I'm doing. It's not all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns in the caramama household, you know. This week, it's been vomit, sleepless nights and extra fussiness.

Want to hear about it in graphic detail? Sure you do!

Sunday night, I was putting the Pumpkin to bed. I tried lying down with her and giving her the bottle, but after the bottle was done, she still wasn't asleep. So I picked her up and started pacing the floor. She started making a weird noise, so I sat down on the glider to look at her and try to figure out what was going on. And she threw up all over me and her. All down my shoulder, boob, arm and her chin, arm, chest and stomach.

I called for Londo, thinking that if I didn't move, he might be able to help me clean up before it got everywhere. And then, she threw up again. And it was everywhere. I dashed to the bathroom across the hall, trailing chunky vomit across the carpet of her room and the hallway. She threw up more in the bathroom. Poor girl! She was very confused and unhappy about the throwing up. No one likes to throw up, but it must be worse when you don't understand what's going on.

Once she stopped, I undressed us both and got her in the tub, where I poured water over her. I sponged her and myself down until we were clean. Then, I put new pajamas on both of us. Meanwhile, Londo cleaned up the glider, the carpet and the bathroom.

At this point, the Pumpkin acted fine. Like nothing happened. She didn't feel feverish, and she was talkative and happy. So I tried to put her to bed again. She wanted to lie down, so we did. But then she said, "Mommy, poo poo potty?" This is her way of saying she needs to use the potty. I thought maybe she had some diarrehea to go along with the throw up. I put her on the potty, but nothing. Then she wanted to get down. So we went back into her room, and I started pacing the floor with her.

You know what happened next, right?

I heard her start to make the noise and took off for the bathroom. She started throwing up before we got there, but not much. Most of it was in the bathroom. And all over us. It was even in our hair. No rinsing off would be enough this time. Once she was done and seemed to be feeling better, I took her for her first shower in the master bathroom.

She loved the shower. She played with new bottles and a container to put them in. She didn't seem to mind the water falling down on her head as long as she didn't look up. I got us all clean, dried off and in another set of new pajamas. Londo cleaned up the rugs and bathroom--again.

But this time, we didn't make it out of the master bathroom. She looked at me and said, "Mommy, poo poo potty?" I realized that it wasn't poo poo that she was going to do. It was that her stomach didn't feel right, and probably the closest thing she could figure was poo poo potty. Sure enough, within moments she was clutching her stomach. I grabbed a towel and caught the throw up before it could get on her, me or the floor.

As a side note, I'm an expert at catching throw up in towels. My dog has a stomach problem so that when she goes too long between meals, she throws up. This is almost always in the early morning hours. I know the sounds and movements of her about to throw up. It wakes me up immediately, I jump out of bed, grab a dog towel and hold it under her while she throws up. If I don't catch it in the towel, it's on our bed because that is where she sleeps and you can't move her when she is about to throw up. Then we have to strip the bed and remake it before going back to sleep, which totally sucks. So I'm really good at catching it in the towel. Apparently for my sick toddler, too.

We called the after-hours nurse, who basically said to try to keep her hydrated, watch her and call the doctor in the morning if it got worse. As Londo was talking to her, the Pumpkin threw up again.

We set up a big beach towel in our bed between us--the spot where the Pumpkin has taken to sleeping once she wakes up lately (that's another post). I put a pile of towels next to me. We all got into bed.

It was 11:00, and the Pumpkin threw up for the 5th time in 2 hours. Immediately after throwing up, she closed her eyes and was out. She threw up again at 12, 1, 2 and at 3, she dry heaved once and was done.

Do I need to tell you all how worried we were? After the third throw up, the Pumpkin was miserable and not acting fine. But she didn't have a fever or any other symptom. The nurse at the pediatrician's office said it was a virus that was going around and that we should limit her food, give her bland food and make sure she drank a lot of water. Which we did. She seemed fine by morning and all the next day, except tired and more fussy than usual.

She threw up just once the following morning, but otherwise has seemed fine and is back to eating regular foods, although she doesn't have a big appetite.

And then last night, she threw up in our bed a little after 1. Londo cleaned it up, changed the blankets (she didn't get it on the sheets, thank goodness) and put down a beach towel for her. I stripped us down and cleaned us off. Then at 2, she threw up again. It was everywhere on her and I. So we showered again. Which of course just woke her up more! When we got out and Londo had everything cleaned again, she did not want to fall back asleep. Londo paced with her and finally got her calm enough to fall asleep in bed. She didn't throw up again.

We are so exhausted and there is so much laundry!!! The Pumpkin doesn't feel well and is really tired. She is being so frustrating with the fussing, temper tantrums, and constant "no"s. We feel bad that she's been sick, but we are so tired it's hard to keep our patience.

This is why I'm not posting much this week. I'm just too tired with this on top of everything else. I'm really glad it's Friday, and I plan to nap a lot this weekend!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Expectations

So... I'm pregnant!

I'll be 12 weeks this Friday, which puts me into the second trimester in my book. I figured what's two more days, so I'm announcing today.

The baby is due June 19, 2009. The Pumpkin will be 2 years and 3 months, which is the kind of spacing we were hoping for. We are very excited to be expecting, as I'm sure you all know.

We were extremely fortunate in that it took us only ONE treatment cycle to get pregnant. Although there were two eggs that were ready, we are having a singleton. As great as twins are, we are happy that we are having only one because one will be easier.

I didn't share earlier because even though I've written about my miscarriage, it did take me like two years to be able to talk about it. So I didn't want to have to deal with it even on my own blog. But it's been so hard to not talk about the pregnancy, the nauseua that I still have, the tiredness that is more than just the Pumpkin STILL not sleeping well, the crankiness, etc. etc. etc. Now that you hear that list, I'll bet you all are glad I haven't talked about it! Although there is also the excitement, the positive ultrasounds, the Baby Center email saying it's the size of a fig (which is how big exactly?), and the initial planning for childcare changes, switching bedrooms for the Pumpkin and all the other preparations.

So that's my big news. I'm sure I'll keep talking about it through the pregnancy.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Question of the Week - Your Speciality

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Since last year, Thanksgiving is even more meaningful because it's my blogoversary. This year, we didn't travel, so that was a nice bonus. We had Thanksgiving dinner with my family at my parents house. The four toddlers were running around, my aunts and cousins were there, as well as my siblings and their families. And everyone brought something delicious to the table, from appetizers to desserts.

It got me wondering...

What is your speciality that you bring/buy/do for family dinners?

Mine is apple pie (really simple recipe from my Mom) and pecan pie (recipe from the back of the Karo syrup--it's really the best I've had--and the No-Roll Pie Crust I wrote about here). Londo made mashed potatoes (modified from his mom's recipe). These are our specialities.

What about you? What do you bring to the dinner table?

Thursday, November 27, 2008

These Green Beans Never Get Old

I'm writing this post as part of Tranny Head's Great Green Beans Giveaway. Tranny Head has come up with the euphemism of green beans for, well, sex and sexual acts (as best I can tell). She has challenged other bloggers to write about sex on this Thanksgiving--and she even wrote a post about it herself. Since I'm very thankful for the hot sex I have with Londo and since I do love a challenge, I'm spilling the green beans about my sex life! (Londo, I hope you aren't reading this. If you are, please don't kill me!)

Please note that I'm just not creative enough to use the term green beans to cover what I want to talk about, so I'm just going to come out and say what I mean. I think that Tranny Head, who is a person who calls it like she sees it, will be okay with that. Also, if you aren't reading Tranny Head at Law school sucks and so do lawyers, you should. She's extremely funny!


I started dating Londo 11 years ago this November (or December, depending on who you ask*). It's been less that 11 years since we starting having sex, but more than 10 years. So, we've been having sex together, with only each other, for over 10 years. That's a long time to be intimate in that way with just one other person... and I wouldn't have it any other way.

First of all, we've always had great sex. Really fantastic, actually. We seem to be very compatible in the bedroom in all ways. But in all these years, the sex has never gotten boring. It's never routine or old or bland. In over 10 years!

It boils down to the fact that we both know EXACTLY what gets the other person's blood burning. After all our years together, we know just the right move to make or way to kiss or whatever to send chills right down the other person's spine and send them over the edge. We know all the likes and dislikes of the other person, and we both want to please the other person even more than we want to please ourselves (which is a great combination, because we are both winners every time).

When I read or watch TV and see new couples having their first kiss or learning each others' bodies, I'm not jealous. In fact, I think, "I'm SO glad I don't have to go through that." I've heard other people talk about the thrill of discovery and the excitement of the new-ness. I'm sure it's wonderful for many people. But not me. I get thrills and excitement from my husband the minute he touches me and kisses me, because he knows exactly what I like, including how to read my ever changing moods.

Finally, I also believe that the comfort we have with each other is so freeing. I'm never nervous about how I look, because I know how sexy he finds me. If I'm not comfortable or not in the mood, I can just say that without feeling embarrassed. I'm never worried about suggesting something new, because he is open to new ideas. And yes, even after 10 years, there are new things. Not many, but a few. Hehe.

Even though the sex is fantastic, we have gone through periods with little to no sex (ahem*pregnancyandpostbaby*ahem). And that's okay too. We are completely committed to each other and care about how the other feels, so if I can't or if we are simply too tired, we don't feel guilty or bad. We are just understanding of where the other person is. And we know we will have great sex again, just not right then.

All that to say, sex with my husband simply hasn't gotten old. I don't think it ever will either. Green beans don't age well, like cheese or wine, which is why a metaphor wouldn't have worked in my post. But unlike 10-year-old green beans, the sex I have with Londo is as great as it was 10 years ago... probably even better!

*Londo and I have an 11 year disagreement about the date, but I still maintain that if I thought we were just going out as friends and we didn't even kiss, then it does not count as our first real date!

Happy Thanksgiving! And Happy Blogiversary to Me!

Thanksgiving a year ago, I wrote my first post on the Cara Mama blog (which was also my first blog post ever). So in theory, today is my one year blogiversary! Except that last year, Thanksgiving was apparently on November 22. I can't believe I missed the actual anniversary, but I really think of it as Thanksgiving. So we will just pretend I didn't miss it and that it is today, m'kay?

I am so thankful for the blogosphere, specifically the parenting blogs. I'm thankful for the whole community of wonderful moms and dads out there who share the wonders and the hardships of raising children, being parents and struggling with relationships of all sorts. I'm thankful for the ability to share my own, and for my real life and internet friends who read, comment, and chat with me about life. I'm very thankful for my beautiful daughter, wonderful husband, sweet dog and cat, and my family and in laws. I am very blessed.

Stop back later tonight when I will spill the green beans about my sex life, for which I'm extremely thankful! I'm writing that post as part of Tranny Head's Great Green Beans Giveaway--hey, any excuse to brag!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

DC Area Cookie Swap?

Apparently the Burgh Bloggers did a cookie swap. I am not above blantently stealing that idea from them. Do the DC Area bloggers/commenters/readers want to get together and do a Cookie Swap? We could meet up at my house, bring lots of cookies and hang out. With or without kids and spouses? Let me know, cause if we do, it probably has to be in the first half of December so we all have our cookies in time for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vacation Highlights

Besides the lovely weather, there were a lot of great things about my vacation. Most of them (maybe all) directly related to my adventurous and active toddler. Here are a few:

- We were on the second floor of the hotel and took the elevator up and down multiple times a day. The Pumpkin called it the "elegator," which I truly hope she did not confuse with alligators. I do not want her to walk into their open mouths! Also, she loved to push the buttons for the elegator, and she was really good about only pushing the one we pointed to.

- I'm happy to report that so far the Pumpkin is a happy beach girl. This would be the third trip to the beach in her life, and each time has gone well. This time was especially good, because she is old enough to really enjoy it. She digs in the sand, she laughs as the surf hits her feet, she tries to go into the water farther (holding my hand at all times near the water), she picks up handfuls of wet sand and looks for shells, and she sits in the water left behind by the receeding tide and plays with her buckets and shovels. Also, she got a kick out of stomping in the water when I sang "If you're happy and you know it stomp your feet."

- The place where we stayed was really a resort area. This meant that things were expensive, but they were also very nice. (Thank goodness for the Hilton points my parents had saved up!) The Pumpkin did well at the couple of nice restaurants we went to, and I enjoyed some good meals.

- The plane rides went really well. I'm really glad that she did so well. Minimum fussing and no real screaming. All the tricks everyone told me really helped.

- I discovered that sometimes, when the Pumpkin can't reach my hair (like in her carseat on the plane), she will settle for the hair of a My Little Pony. But if my hair is at all an option, she still wants it during every bottle, when falling asleep and when she needs comfort. My hair is getting really sensitive to all the tugging and twisting. I'm hoping she will start going for the My Little Pony more and more.

- We are now on cold bottles and lying down in bed to fall alseep with the bottle for both naps and bedtime. These were just easier on vacation, and really it's time to start transitioning. I don't think Londo was ready for it, but I feel like it's probably past time and she seems to be handling it well.

- My parents got to spent a lot of quality time with the Pumpkin and really see how much personality she has now! Also, she is talking even more than she was the previous week, with new concepts and whole sentences. My parents are amazed and really enjoyed her.

I'm sure there are more, but that's all I've got for now. It really was a great vacation. It's hard to come back, but at least it's a short week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Question of the Week - Doing It All For My Baby

I'm back from Florida, and I had an excellent time. It's hard to believe that I was sitting on the beach just three days ago enjoying the sun, sand and surf. Now, I have to bundle in my thick coat, scarf and gloves to be outside. Sigh...

Not only was Florida beautiful and (mostly*) warm, but I got to spend a lot of bonding time with my daughter. A lot of time. My parents did help me out and give me quite a few breaks, but it's just not the same as having my partner with me to share the childcare. Don't get me wrong, my parents were really great. They were flexible, helpful, patient, fun and entertaining. But for the entire week, I gave her all her bottles, changed all her diapers, put her down for every nap and every bedtime, coslept with her every night (most nights from 11:30 on, and she tossed and turned and kicked and flailed all night), gave her every bath, fed her every meal and ensured her well-being and routine (as much as possible while on vacation). My super active toddler is a handful.

I knew the deal when I insisted I bring her with me even though Londo couldn't come and offered to keep her home with him to give me a real vacation from everything. I was prepared to take on all the childcare. I am not complaining. In fact, it was really neat to be the go-to parent for everything. We really did bond and have a great time together. I can even see the enjoyment of being a stay at home parent, because it is fun and really nice to spend so much time with the kiddo.

This week's question of the week is a two-parter because I didn't do one last week:

What is the hardest part to you of being the sole parent for a period of time? And what is your favorite part of being the sole parent for a period of time?

To me, the hardest part is--I'm trying to find the right words for this--the constant expenditure of energy. By that I mean that there is no long period of break, not even overnight. Especially overnight. I was so tired from the restless nights sleeping with my child who doesn't stop moving even at night that I took a nap on the couch when she napped and did not stay up late any night. This meant that I did not get any long period of time to just be by myself without her. Apparently, I'm more introverted than I suspected, because my energy was constantly drained without the time to recharge alone. Luckily, being in sunny Florida helped my energy a lot, and so did the naps.

My favorite part is the way she looks to me for everything she needs, whether it be a change in diaper (she will not sit or move when she poops in her diaper until she is changed) or comfort from a fall. Sure, she would ask for my parents and sometimes want them over me, but when it came down to a real need, it was "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." And that was nice and sweet and a really great bonding experience. At least for the week, because if it continued longer... Well, see the previous paragraph about time to recharge. ;-)

How about you? Have you had to be the sole parent for a period of time? Love it? Hate it? Why?

*We did have a cold front for the first part of the week, where it did get down to 65 degrees and really very windy! Meanwhile, up in the DC area, it was in the low 30s and there were snow flurries. So I'm not complaining about the 65 degrees...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cara Figlia - We're Off!

Cara mia figlia,

We are about to head to the airport so you can take your first plane ride and go to Florida! We will be going with your Grandma and Grandpa and having a great time! Hopefully, you will be easy this week. I'm sure we'll have fun. And I'm sure this week will be full of learning experiences and memories!

Ti amo,
Mama

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Getting Ready to Vacation

I haven't been around much or had time to write much. It took me a while to recover from the food poisoning. I even had to take Monday off from work. So then I also had to make up the work I'd missed. Plus, I'm busy getting ready for the vacation I'm taking next week.

That's right, I'm going on vacation next week! I'm going to Florida with my parents. I'm bringing the Pumpkin. But Londo is not coming. Am I crazy? Why, yes. I think I am.

It's not that a vacation with my parents and daughter is a bad idea. It's just, as I've mentioned, she is "spirited" and extremely active. She is not easy in so many ways. I love her more than I could ever express, and she is fun and funny and good natured. Surely, we'll have a great time!

But I know it will be exhausting. She is exhausting. And while my parents will help, I will have to put her down for every nap and every bedtime. I will have to be night duty and cosleep with her every night. I will have to be the one making sure she is entertained and happy and on scheduled.

Also, we will be flying down, and I've read some good tips about toddlers on the plane. Luckily, I will be on the same flight as my parents, so they will be helpful during the trip.

If anyone has any tips for traveling or being on vacation with a toddler, I'm open to hear them!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Question of the Week - Child's Temperment

I am currently reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block, by Harvey Karp. I love this guy. Right after the Pumpkin was born, I watched The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD, and it was incredibly helpful! Oh, the five "s"s got me through those tough early months with a fussy baby. Dr. Karp really examines what is reasonable to expect of babies and toddlers given their age, their development stage and their personalities. He does not say "do this" for all babies/toddlers. He says "this might work for this type" or that you should try something else.

In the Toddler book, he talks about different toddler personalities. I read the three main types of personalities: easy kids, cautious kids and spirited kids. My child is definitely a "spirited kid." As a baby, she was surely what Dr. Sears defined as a "fussy baby," a notch away from a "high-needs baby," as I've written about before.

Even before she was born, she was constantly moving and active. In fact, during my third or fourth month of pregnancy, the nurse couldn't find the baby's heartbeat. To make sure everything was okay, the doctor did an ultrasound. I was SO worried, until we found the baby doing just fine, and doing somersaults! The doctor said, "No wonder we couldn't find the heartbeat!" While in my stomach, the baby was constantly moving, kicking and hiccuping. I knew then that this would be an active child.

As a toddler, she is high-energy, active, inquisitive, constantly moving and into everything! While this can be exhausted for us parents now, I know these traits will server her well both now and in the future. She doesn't get it from me, since I'm not that active of a person and never have been. This daughter of mine that has been moving since just about conception, she definitely gets it from her father, who is an active, fidgety, moving person. It has served him well in his life, too, so I know it's a good thing for the Pumpkin to have this temperment, this personality. I can't wait to see what she does with it!

Which leads us to our Question of the Week...

What is your child(ren) temperment/personality? Is your an active, spirited child like mine, or an easy, relaxed baby?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

DC Play Group - I'm Too Sick!

I'm so so sorry, but I got really sick in the middle of the night. Something I ate did NOT agree with me. We think it was the salad I had last night because I was the only one who ate it. I was throwing up every hour from 12:00 to 7:00. Was that too much information?

Anyway, there is no way I can make the play group today. La Folle Maman has agreed to try and coordinate at the Play Cafe. I'm sad because not only do I feel like crap, but I'm missing meeting up with everyone! I was really looking forward to it.

I hope you all have fun. Please tell me all about it!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Supergenius Knows Her Diaper

The Pumpkin wears Huggies Overnites diapers to bed. These diapers have Mickey Mouse is on the diaper, which she and I have talked about before. (Click here and look at the size 5 diapers to see the picture that we talk about.) So last night, as I'm putting her diaper on, and we have this conversation:

Pumpkin: Mouse!
caramama: Yes, that's Mickey Mouse on your diaper. What's he doing?
Pumpkin: Mouse seeping. (Mouse is sleeping.)
caramama: That's right! And who is with him?
Pumpkin: Teddy bear!
caramama: That's right! You are so smart!

I still can't get over that I can ask her real questions and she can answer. It really just floors me. While she's not ahead of all milestones, she really is quite amazing with her communication skills. In fact, recently a friend mentioned that she keeps thinking that the Pumpkin is older than she really is. I said that it was probably because she is so ahead with talking. Londo looked at me and asked, "Really?" I just nodded and said, "Oh, yeah. Most kids have some words and phrases right now but don't communicate as well as our girl. This is just an area that she happens to be ahead in." (I want to be sure I set his expectations for any future kids, as well as friends and relatives kids.)

I've got a post I'm working on in which I'm going to list a bunch of cute things we taught her to say, some that we didn't teach her, and some that she taught us. I'll probably post that next week.

I also have another post in which I want to note the areas in which the Pumpkin isn't up to or ahead of the milestones (besides sleep and self-soothing), because she has those areas too. Although she is a supergenius!

DC Area Play Date Tomorrow!

I'm so excited about getting together tomorrow! Here are the responses I've received:

Coming:
-Cara, Londo and the Pumpkin
-Kate and son
-Zaimee and two kids (plus husband?)
-La folle Maman and Monkey
-Dana and Aria (plus goofydaddy?)

Maybe:
-Colleen, Gavin and Cooper
-Justin (of Colleen's family)

I hope the place is big enough and not too crowded! We'll be there as close to 10:00 as possible. Should I make a sign or something so those who don't know the others can find us? Ideas?

-----------------------

Sharina - I feel like we're never going to meet! You simply HAVE to come to the next one!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

DC Area November Play Date

I know that my house won the poll... but... I just can't get it together in time for Saturday. To be perfectly frank, the cat has started peeing on the rug in the basement playroom. The very room I was going to let our kids run around in. We've even stopped letting the Pumpkin play down there. We need to steam clean the rug (and sell the cat to gypsies) before I can have kids playing down there. Once we discovered the issue, I briefly entertained the thought that we could clean it by this Saturday, but it's just not in the cards.

But what about the Play Cafe? I think it looks like so much fun! We could meet at 10:00, let the kids play for a couple hours, then have lunch from the cafe and leave whenever people need to go for naps and such. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Better Living Through Modern Chemistry

What if I said that I was feeling tired all of the time, even when I was getting enough sleep. That my appetite was off. My energy was low. I was having trouble concentrating and unable to be creative. I was also having difficulty remembering things.

I think most people would suggest I get to a doctor because something could be wrong. People would suggest having my thyroid checked and get on medication to regulate that.

What if I added to that list of symptoms that I was feeling depressed or anxious.

I think a lot of people would start to hem and haw a bit. Maybe I should see someone about that. But I believe people would start to get uncomfortable.

What if I rephrased the whole list of physical symptoms and said that I was feeling very depressed/anxious. I wasn't able to eat/eating all of the time. I just couldn't seem to get anything done or want to do anything. I didn't want to think about anything, but just curl up in bed and not come out.

Some people would definitely treat this list very different from the first list. They would suggest I pull myself out of it or eat better and exercise more. While everyone should eat healthy and exercise and certainly a good attitude is helpful with many things in life, many people would hesitate to say that I should take something to help regulate the problem.

Why is it when a health problem is focused above the neck people do not treat it the same as health problems below the neck? Why is "mental health" viewed so differently than "physical health"? Why are people who need to go on medication for depression or anxiety held to a different standard than those who have to go on medication for thyroid issues or diabeties?

The brain is an organ in your body. It has to balance many chemicals in order to function properly. These chemicals sometimes get unbalanced and need to be regulated, just as the thyroid does or the blood sugar levels. There are physical symptoms that aren't nebulous and unclear, even if people sometimes don't describe them in the more "factual" way as I did the in first example.

This is a conversation I've had with quite a few people lately. It is a subject very important to me, and it always has been. I've said before that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which I have historically treated with light therapy. After a good look at how affective the light therapy has been for me and the time it takes, I decided this fall to go on anti-depressant medication.

This is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

I have been considering medication for years, but since I would need it for only half of a year, I was hesitant to go on it. However, I am working with a doctor who is comfortable with me trying it for only half the year and see how I feel. She helped me pick a medication that is pretty safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding. Yes, I made this decision when I knew we were going to try to conceive. I carefully weighed my options, and I knew that the only way I could take care of any baby I conceive is if I take care of myself, which in my case requires medication (the light therapy is no longer enough for me). There are worse things than taking medication while pregnant, which one blogger was brave enough to share (I love this woman for writing that post). I am taking the generic for Zoloft, which is working pretty well for me so far.

But my issue is easy compared to others. I have a biological depression (my number one symptom is exhaution, which leads to depression for me) that is environmentally induced. The brain chemical melatonin is supressed by sunlight, and seratonin is increased with sunlight. As best I can figure is that in the winter, with the lack of enough sun, my body produces too much melatonin and not enough seratonin. It's a chemical reaction that is documented. Most people are pretty understanding about it because it because there is an easily explained, scientifically-based, biological explanation. The people I have told that I've gone on medication totally understand that it helps regulate my brain chemicals.

But what about others who deal with depression or anxiety that don't have this biological/environmental explanation? The brain chemicals can also change depending on the pathways our thought patterns create. When those chemicals are so unbalanced that a person is deeply depressed or anxious, they can't just pull themselves out of it or eat right and exercise. They need medication to bring the chemicals back into balance so they can deal with the issues they are facing. So they can find the energy and the will to eat better and exercise. So they can be capable of pulling themselves out of it.

And some people may forever need to be on medication (read Dooce's post about her need to be on medication!). Their brain does not produce the chemicals in a balanced way. Just like a diabetics body does not produce enough insulin or a person with a thyroid imbalance does not produce the right amount of the thyroid hormone. And you know what? That is okay too! People would never ask a diabetic when they were going to get off of their insulin. Why do people ask those who are dealing with an above the neck problem?

The medication is not some "happy pill" that makes you feel euphoric or numb your feelings (well, for most people, although I can't speak to how medication affects everyone). The medication brings people (at least me and those I know) back to feeling normal. No doctor is looking to put people on anti-depressants to make them feel wonderful. It is to make them feel normal. The normal that people with balanced brain chemicals feel. That means the normal highs and lows, the good days and bad days, the regular types of happy and sad. Although I have been on medication for about four weeks, I still have good days and bad. But I am not so tired and depressed that I can't take care of myself, my toddler, my job, my house. And that is a wonderful thing for me in the fall and winter.

The brain is just another organ. It is more complex than other organs because our thoughts and feelings come from there. But that means that medication plus therapy should be a natural conclusion when people are having problems. It does not mean that people should all be "normal" and fine and have no mental health issues. The body is an amazing thing, but it is not perfect.

I'm glad I live in the world today. We've come so far as a society and culture (wooo hooo for Obama!). And yet this stigma remains for people dealing with depression and anxiety. For people who are on medication for neck-up problems. I imagine it's just that people who haven't suffered from serious depression or anxiety just don't get it. The way my dad didn't understand how bad migraines really were until he got one. I don't wish depression or anxiety on anyone. I just hope that those who are lucky enough to have their brain chemicals in balance realize that not everyone does and it is a health issue just like any other and should be treated with medication when needed.

Be Sure to Vote!

For all those who live in the US, be sure you vote today! Even if you don't vote for my candidate, it's important that your voice be heard. Do it for your country!

For all those who live in the DC area and want to get together on November 8th, vote on my poll for where you want to meet up! The poll closes tomorrow at the end of the day, so be sure you vote before then!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Question of the Week - Halloween Costumes

I'm feeling much better. Thanks for all the nice comments. They really did help. Some days, I just wake up on the wrong side of the bed and everything frustrates me.

It didn't help that it was Halloween, my favorite holiday, and we had done almost nothing for it. Since we canceled our party, we just didn't bother to do anything. Londo got out the storage boxes of Halloween decorations and costumes, but those boxes sat untouched in our dining room. I looked at costumes for the Pumpkin, Londo and me, but I didn't buy anything. I borrowed my nieces costume from last year for the Pumpkin. And I think this was the first Halloween EVER that I didn't dress up at all. I wore orange and black at least, but I didn't even pull out any of my old costumes from the box.

But I finished my work on Friday on a high note (which helped me feel adequate again). When I got home from work, we dressed the Pumpkin in her borrowed costume and took a walk around the block to look at the houses that were decorated and see some kids out playing. After dinner, I sat outside with the Pumpkin in her costume and handed out candy to all the cute kids in their costumes. I ended up enjoying my favorite holiday even if we took it easy this year.

As a quick side note before the Question of the Week, a coworker said to me on Friday that it seemed a bit morbid that Halloween was my favorite holiday. So I explained to him: there is candy, dressing up as anything you want, kids dressed up in cute costumes, fun decorations, and neighbors visiting each other while the kids get candy. It's really rather friendly and fun, as holidays go. There is no pressure of having to pick which grandparents' house we are going to, no having to deal with families at all if you don't want, no big meal to worry about cooking and cleaning up from, nothing religious (to me) to have to do, and no presents (other than candy) to have to buy. The religious and family holidays are nice, but they just always seem like a lot of pressure. Halloween is just mostly some of my favorite, pressure-free things. So I'm not nearly as freaky as I sound when I say that Halloween is my favorite holiday.

And now on to the question of the week...

What was your kid for Halloween? And if you dressed up, what were you?

The adorable costume we borrowed for the Pumpkin was a monkey costume! This was really fitting for the Pumpkin, who is a little monkey, so you see I actually gave it some thought when I borrowed it. For once, I didn't dress up, nor did Londo. I didn't even dress up the dog! But last year, the Pumpkin was a unicorn, I was a fairy and Londo was a knight. I do love themes. Although the dog was a cow, which didn't go, but was very cute.

What about you? What was your little one(s)? What were you? Did you all do anything fun?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Woe With Me

Today, I'm feeling exhausted and inadequate. Also, extremely busy and stressed.

If anyone wants to attempt to cheer me up, I would appreciate it. Especially if they are quick attempts, as I am really busy with work.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

caramama Updates

It has occurred to me that I write about a lot of different things, especially issues we are having, and then I never write any updates or resolutions. So today, I'm going to give some updates.

Let's see...

Weaning the Pumpkin
Although I didn't feel ready to wean the Pumpkin, it actually went surprisingly smoothly. I think this was for two main reasons: the timing and her already taking bottles during the day. Although she really enjoyed nursing, she seemed to be in a stage where she didn't HAVE to have it. She was already taking bottles for her nap and once a week for bedtime (Londo was putting her to bed one night a week to give me a break). So we just switched her morning nursing and the rest of the betimes to bottle. She hasn't really seemed to miss it at all. I have, but she seems to have moved on. And we still get the close, snuggle time when I give her bottles and rock her to sleep.

Big Girl Bed
It's been almost two weeks since we moved the Pumpkin to the twin bed in her room. This has also gone surprisingly smooth. That's not to say that it was some perfect fix for her inability to consistently sleep through the night or her need for us to rock her to sleep. Not at all. But she is sleeping (or not) just as well in the twin bed as she was in her crib. The one thing that is WAY better is that putting her down is so much easier. She used to sometimes wake up when I leaned over to put her down in the crib. Now, it's much smoother of a transition.

When she wakes up in the nights or in the mornings, instead of standing in her crib crying, she now gets out of bed and stands at the door, jiggling the handle, crying/calling, "Mommy, open door! Daddy, open door!" When one of us goes and opens the door, she runs into her room straight for the rocking chair, saying, "Rocking chair!" Then, we rock her back to sleep and slip into bed with her. If we wake up during the night or in the morning and she is fast asleep, we slip out of bed and back into our own bed. I'm much happier with this set up, and I think she is too.

Climbing vs. Childproofing
When I wrote about what a monkey my little girl is, sheSaid said, "I had been wanting to ask you how you balance satisfying her climbing need and childproofing. We don't seem to have enough he can actually climb safely (he's still short so he can only reach certain things)."

The short answer is, I don't know that we do. Balance is such hard work. Also, our girl is very tall on top of able to climb, so she can (and does) get into EVERYTHING! We quickly realized that we had to put locks on all the doors in the kitchen. We are not a family that can get away with not locking them. All of them. In addition, we had to take just about everything off of shelves that were below the counter height. In the last month, I actually had to move everything that was on the counter by the kitchen table and chair to ON TOP OF THE FRIDGE! I'm not kidding. Our bread box and napkins are now up there, which I can barely reach (I'm only 5'2").

She tries to climb on tables now, too. We just keep telling her no, to sit down in the chair or not get on the coffee table. We let her climb in any chair she wants and the couch, but she's not supposed to stand in them. Ha! There's pretty much no stopping her and she isn't good at listening to "No." With her, it's all about putting things up even higher, distracting her, and deciding what to just let go because it's not that big a deal if she plays with it.

We did get one of those toddler cube/slide things for the backyard (yeah for freecycle!) and the babysitter takes her to a playground pretty much every day. But she still tries to climb everything, including us.

Baths
Baths have gotten better mostly since I was losing it. I did a lot of what you all suggested in a throw-everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-at-the-problem-and-hope-something-sticks method. The things I think that have helped the most are getting a bunch of new toys, her being older and therefore better about holding her head back so I can pour water without getting it in her eyes, being sure to take turns with Londo so I don't get overwhelmed, and letting a lot of it go. Hearing that many people just let them drink the bath water helped. I don't really want to offer her a sippy cup or other water, because we try to limit water after dinner. She gets a big bottle before bed, and her diapers are always very full. After a few leaks, we instituted the no water after dinner. But if she drinks some bath water, it won't kill her.

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I'm sure there is a ton more I can update, but those are the big things that come to mind now. Am I missing anything that anyone has been wondering about? (Besides the TTC stuff. I'm not ready to talk more about that yet.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

November DC Area Get Together

Is it too late to plan something for Saturday, November 8th? Perhaps in the morning time? This would be with the kids, for those who want to bring them. If it is too late, then I won't be able to get together until the last weekend of November.

Also, I'm putting up a poll for where we want to meet. I'd like to give a big thanks to Z, who has been coming up with the places, suggested the date and trying to keep on top of me.

Here are the options for the meet up location:

The Building Museum in DC
Z says, "It's in the Chinatown area and has metro stops close to it.
I don't know if you have been there but it has a great hall where kids can run, crawl, lay, walk whatever they want and it's very kid friendly. I know a lot of people go there with there kids for an indoor play area and we can all bring our own picnic lunch."

Play Cafe
Z says, "So I came up with another place for us to be able to go with kids.
It's a cafe which has a monitored play area for kids. It's in Reston,
that's the biggest drawback. But I thought that might be a great place
for everyone since we can all nosh on something or get a coffee and
the kids could play and would be monitored and it would give us adults
more of a chance to mingle... There is a charge of $8 per child and i think the age limit is 18months- 5 years."

Check out their website!

caramama's house
We could also meet at my house. I did offer it at the last dinner out. It's in Gaithersburg, MD, so that might be far for some people. If this is what we decide, each person who wants to come would have to email me and I would send you the address and directions. I'm not just going to post that online and open my house to people who don't communicate with me first. I'm sure you understand.

It does mean that I have to clean my house up, but I'd do it for you all.

If we do the picnic at the Building Museum or playdate at my house, we could do a potluck kind of meal. What do you think of that?

Let me and Z know what guys want to do and if Nov. 8 is good. Otherwise, we will try to come up with something different.

And if anyone else has a good suggestion for meet up locations, let us know!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Question of the Week - Geek Out

I'm a geek. I totally admit it. I don't think I look like a geek or usually act like one. But once you get to know me, it's not long until you realize it. If you know me in real life, you've known it for a long time. If you've been reading me for more than, oh, a day, you probably have already realized it.

I'm a geek. But not just because I can be a general geeky person. I am a geek because of the things I like and do. Want to hear all the ways I'm a geek? Sure you do!

-Blog Geek: I believe going to a blogging conference has put me firmly in the category of Blog Geek. Not to mention that I coordinate DC Area get togethers of bloggers and commenters. (Stay tuned, because there will be another one VERY SOON!)

-Science Geek: I love science and read science books and magazines. In fact, my thesis for my Masters pertained to Mars, which included analyzing history, science and pop culture pertaining to the Red Planet. Also, I recently made a geeky reference to Schrödinger's cat which was quite amusing to me and the other science geek.

-Sci-Fi Geek: Oh, I am. I am. Big time. My favorite show of all time is/was Farscape. I love the Star Treks except Enterprise (but no, I'm not a Trekker) and other sci-fi TV, movies, books, you name it. Although I have never been to a conference, but I would totally go to one. I would not dress up if I went. I'm not quite that geeky (not that there's anything wrong with that). But I have dressed up as sci-fi characters for Halloween, including Princess Leia and Chiana from Farscape.

I'm sure I've got many other varieties of geek in me. In fact, if any of you know another one, feel free to put it in the comments. But for now, let's get to the Question of the Week:

What kind of geek are you?

I mean, we all have a little geek in us, right? Be it technology, animal obsession, blogging, just about everyone has a passion that puts them right into the geek category. What is yours?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Developing Memory and Reasoning

One evening last week, I came home from work a bit late and noticed that the moon was almost full and was very visible from our front porch. So as soon as I went inside, I asked the Pumpkin if she wanted to go outside and see the moon. She knows the moon from books and Baby Signing Time DVDs, but I don't think we've ever really taken her to see it or pointed it out before.

I put on her jacket, picked her up and took her out onto the front porch to look at the moon. She followed my lead and pointed at it and said "Moon!" very excitedly. We looked at if for a while, and then went back inside. It was neat to be able to show her something in real life that she'd only previously seen in books and on TV.

Earlier this week, I came home from work while the sun was still out and saw a bunny in our front yard. He* lives under our front porch and is often in our yard. Also, there are a ton of bunnies in our neighborhood, but the Pumpkin loves to see them each time one is around. So I went inside and told her the bunny was in our yard and asked if she wanted to go outside and see it. Of course she did.

I picked her up and took her outside. The first thing she said was "Moon?" Wow. She remembered from the previous week when I took her out to see the moon. I know she's been remembering stuff prior to that, such as talking about people who aren't currently around, but this was a one-time incident that I hadn't mentioned again. I was floored.

I pointed out the bunny and said, "Look! There's the bunny! Do you see him? He's eating grass."

She repeated that the bunny was eating grass. We watched him for a little while, and then we went inside. When I brought her in, I said, "Tell Daddy what the bunny was doing."

The Pumpkin said, "Bunny eating grass!"

Again, I was floored. Even though I posed the question, I didn't realize that she would be able to answer it! Both because it's an open-ended question that she could have answered with anything and because she remembered what the bunny doing specifically.

The next day, I told the babysitter that we went outside to see a bunny the night before, and then I asked the Pumpkin the same question. "Remember when we saw the bunny yesterday? What was the bunny doing?" And she said, "Bunny eating grass!"

This may seem like a little thing to be amazed about, but to me, it's this leap in cognitive ability that hit me in the face. She probably has already been working on this type of thinking, reasoning, remember. But sometimes, the kid will do something and it just hits me! Wow. She is really growing and becoming a little person.

*Londo has deemed him a male and named him. No, he didn't check the sex. He just decided, and we are going along with it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why I Am A Mommyblogger

Let me take a break from complaining about the sleep issues in my house. Instead, let's talk about "mommyblogging."

When I was at the DC BlogHer conference, I introduced myself to one young lady (did I just write "young lady"? I am getting old. But I wanted to write girl, but that wasn't fair) as I did to everyone else, "I'm a mommyblogger." She asked me why I call myself a mommyblogger, after all just because I'm a woman (and I assume she means a woman and a mom) does not mean that all I am is a mom because I could blog about anything. She proceeded to name a bunch of different things that I have little interest in as topics to blog about. I gave her a shorter version of what I'm about to explain to you all now.

Before I became a parent, I did not understand why in the world people would blog. I don't like reality TV or talk shows, which is basically what blogging reminded me of. I didn't understand why people would want to talk about their lives on the internet. I just didn't get it.

Then, I had my child. My lovely, wonderful, fussy, high-needs child. My first foray into anything blog-like was when I was struggling with the fact that the only way my child would sleep at night was swaddled in a swing. A good friend sent me a post from Ask Moxie (this post) which made me feel so much better, and I began to devour her site. Here was a woman who was talking about how hard it was to be a parent, and the comments of other women who understood and comisserated. There were good things too--bright uplifting things that kept me going through those tough first few months. This site became a daily place I went daily to read and feel better.

Then, I went back to work. I went to a new project and got along well with my new coworkers, but they were almost all men. Young, unmarried or just-getting-married men. In my large office, there were other parents, but I didn't know them. The other new mothers were still out on maternity leave. In fact, I was the only person using the Mother's Room at the time, which was nice for privacy, but lonely for understanding. The young men I worked with would listen to how tired I was, ask good questions to understand how hard, and were really great about welcoming me and letting me talk about the Pumpkin. But they just didn't understand and couldn't share their similar experiences (being an uncle is simply not the same).

So one day, as I'm in the Mother's Room pumping, I'm IMing a friend who also had a baby and went back to work. She asks if I've read any mommyblogs. I told her that I'd been reading Ask Moxie, which she hadn't discovered till I told her. She told me about Mom-101, Motherhood Uncensored, Girl's Gone Child, Her Bad Mother and probably a couple others. After a while of IMing about the mommyblogs, my friend fessed up that she actually has a blog, which I quickly added to my favorites.

Wow. These people understood what I was going through. They were talking about it, writing about it, sharing the good and the bad. The comments were other women who were going through the same things. The light came on in my head, and I felt like I finally had a place, a community. I finally understood why people blog, and why people read and comment.

I quickly became an addict. I read those blogs and used their blogrolls and comments to find other blogs. I started understanding that even on Ask Moxie, I could click a commenter's link and read their blog too. Then, I started leaving comments (after coming up with a name for myself). This was better than parenting magazines. This was better, to me, than even parenting message boards, which I had been going to. This was like the best of both non-fiction articles of magazines and the interactiveness of message boards.

I debated for a while about whether or not to start my own blog. I talked about it with Londo, because I wouldn't talk about our lives without his backing. Finally, last Thanksgiving, I decided to do it. I started a blog myself. This way, when I commented on others' sites, they could come back to me and see who I was, what I was going through. It would be more two-sided, more like a conversation. Like a community.

I generally only read mommyblogs, although there are some others I read. Since having kids, that's what I want to talk about with other people. I can't do that at work or with non-parents, as they quickly get bored. But I don't get bored with stories about people's kids or parenthood and all that we go through. I eat those stories up and look for more (I still haven't updated my blogroll, but I read A LOT of blogs).

Why am I "just" a mommyblogger? Because that is what interests me. Why are do some people blog only about politics or sports or their type of job or books? That is their area of interest. Why do some people just blog about their lives and all that encompasses? It's what they want to blog about.

I prefer to keep my blog focused on my area of interest. More than that, I have discovered an online community of women and men who are going through what I am going through. Parenthood. It's not easy, and those who don't have kids won't understand. But those who do, and who reach out and are supportive and kind to each other? Those are my people. My fellow bloggers and commenters.

Finally, although we talk about poop, developmental milestones and problems sleeping, we also talk about politics and work and marriage (or partnership) and life. We are more than just mommybloggers. We are women and men. We are also parents and there is nothing wrong with blogging about that. In fact, there is so much that is right about it and this parentblogging community.

I'm proud to be a mommyblogger.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Big Girl Bed

I forgot to write out our whole bedtime routine yesterday, so here it is:
6:30 - dinner, which often last between 30 - 60 minutes (she's a slow eater)
7:30 - head upstairs for potty and then bath
8:00 - diaper, PJs, brush hair and brush teeth
8:10 - three or so books, if she wants them (she usually does, but lately she's been running around the room, climbing on the twin bed and throwing socks out of her drawers instead of wanting books)
8:20ish - bottle and rocking, then pacing and rocking and pacing and rocking
9:00 - 10:00 - actually get her asleep and in her crib

We start early-ish, but she just takes forever to get her to sleep. She truly fights it the whole way, fidgeting like crazy and trying to get down and play. Also, we've tried skipping some things or making them quicker to get her to bed earlier, and that makes it worse. She still sometimes won't fall asleep until 10, and we just spend hours trying to rock her. Totally not worth it.

Some of you have it really tough also, some have it easy and I'm jealous. Some worked hard to get to where they are and I respect that. Londo and I are not going to do CIO because our little one is a tension increaser (the Ask Moxie term Charisse mentioned) and for other personal reasons, which does not mean I condemn anyone who uses that method (every child and family is different, YMMV, do what works for you, etc.). We have just decided to struggling with other methods.

Speaking of other methods, I also didn't mention yesterday the big change we've made in the Pumpkin's sleeping environment because I wanted it to be it's own post (today's post). Hmmmm. Actually, it might not be such a big change, but it will sound that way.

You see, Saturday night we decided to heck with it, let's just put the Pumpkin to sleep in the twin bed in her nursery. The reason it's not such a big change is because she's probably spent more time in that bed than her crib lately! About a month ago, she was sleeping through the night in her crib every other night. But then, she got sick and even her 50/50 sleeping went out the window. We were back to getting her every night and cosleeping in that twin bed in the nursery, sometimes starting as early as 10:30.

We had debated moving her to the twin bed for the whole night for over a month, but when she was sleeping through the night in her crib half the time, it didn't make sense. But now, oh now it was time.

She's always been able to handle things physically that you would think are too advanced for her age. Like her climbing, which she is way more capable than anyone would believe unless you see her (freaks my parents and in laws out!). And she's never really liked her crib. There were maybe two, possibly three, short time periods where she would wake up in her crib and play a bit, but normally, she wants out immediately.

When we cosleep in her room (we take turns every night), the person who isn't cosleeping will wake up the cosleeper between 6 and 7 so that person can get up and get ready. And in the last two months, when the cosleeper gets out of bed, we have been leaving the Pumpkin in bed (because heaven forbid we try to transfer her to her crib!) with a pillow next to her. She would wake up later, call out for me (because I'm the morning duty parent), climb out of bed and be at the door by the time I opened it. We lined the floor next to the bed with pillows just to be safe, but she had no issues.

So, we just felt that she was ready and that it might help her get through the night on her own. I mean, nothing else seems to be working except us sleeping with her! And when we sleep with her in that twin bed, she usually sleeps through the rest of the night no problem. Maybe it was the bed?

However, we had to baby-proof the room in case she does get up and wander around the room getting into stuff in the middle of the night. Londo took the mattresses off the frame and put them on the floor so we would be less worried about her falling off the bed in the night. We covered all the plugs, took out the nightlight that plugs into the wall (we are using the clock as the nightlight because it is really very bright), and put the humidifier up on the dresser so that she won't be able to knock it over again. Most importantly, we moved the video monitor so it shows the bed not the crib (that way we can check if she is just doing a little fussing and falling back asleep, or really crying for us and getting out of bed). Prego! The room was ready!

Saturday night, I put her to bed in the twin bed. As always, I had to rock her/walk her until she was completely asleep and then carefully put her down in bed. That night, she slept through the night!!!

The next night, I put her down again, which again went fine because I got her completely asleep. Unfortunately, she woke up at 10:30 calling for me. So it wasn't a magic fix, but we didn't expect it to be. I went in and was able to lie down with her without rocking and we both fell back asleep. She did cry and kind of wake up again about 20 minutes later, but I just pulled her back onto my shoulder and we fell back asleep.

Then, at 2:45, I woke up and was about to roll over when I realized that she was pretty deep asleep next to me and not on me. So I slipped out of the bed and went back to my very own bed!!! And the Pumpkin? Kept sleeping until 7:45!

Last night did not go so well for Londo, but the Pumpkin was not feeling right. It was one of those nights that would have been bad no matter where she was or what we tried. Once he went in to sleep with her, she was so clingy he couldn't come back to our bed.

I still have high hopes for the big girl bed though. I think that she might start getting used to sleeping on her own in her own bed. If she needs us to lie with her to get her to sleep (or back to sleep), we can do that, and then we can slip back into our own bed. And hopefully she will get more and more used to falling asleep in that bed and waking up without us. Time will tell.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Question of the Week - Bedtime Routines

It's been over 19 months. 19 months of putting the Pumpkin to bed. 19 months of rocking and pacing and rocking and pacing--and from birth to 17 months, it was almost always me and there was also a lot of nursing. Over the last few weeks, Londo and I take turns putting her to bed (and then the other one is on night shift, which almost always lately includes getting up with her, rocking her back to sleep, and cosleeping with her till morning).

As I've said many many MANY times, the Pumpkin is not a good sleeper. She is not good at self soothing, falling asleep or falling back asleep. Sometimes, she goes through phases where she falls right asleep nursing or with a bottle. Sometimes she is exceptionally easy to put down to sleep. Sometimes, she is near impossible to put down, waking up from even a deep sleep every time we lean over to put her in her crib, clinging to us and cry for us to pick her up. It doesn't matter if it's Londo or me putting her down, some nights she just doesn't. want. down.

Generally, it takes us an hour or so to put her down to sleep. And she must be COMPLETELY asleep, or she will just stand up immediately and start crying for us, which leads to the screaming and sobbing, from which she just does not settle down. During that hour, we give her a bottle while rocking her (and I sing our lullaby), then we keep rocking her or pace the floor while holding her until she falls into a deep enough sleep that we can put her down.

19 months of this or similar. It's been a long time, and Londo and I are so tired of it. I know that she won't always need us to rock her to sleep, but for right now, she can't seem to go to sleep any other way, although we really have tried many other ways. I know that this is a short time period in the grand scheme of things, but it's just getting really old. I love her and I'll do what she needs, I just wish she didn't need it.

Ah, my internet friend. You were great about sharing in my toddler tantrum misery. Now I need to ask...

How do you get your child to sleep?

Please include their age, too. I'm looking for hope for the future, co-miseration of the present, and complete jealousy of those of you have it pretty easy. Like my IRL good friend who told me yesterday after dinner about how she puts her Monkey to sleep. I'm so jealous! And happy for her, of course.

How about you? Is it hard or easy? How old are they? And when does it get easier?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cara Figlia - Toddler Tantrums

Cara figlia,

I love you so much, and you are wonderful, smart, creative and cuddly. But what is with the toddler tantrums? You are giving us a nice mix of the following:
-You want to do it yourself and don't want help, but you can't quite do it yourself so you freak out.
-You aren't comfortable but you are really tired and you don't know what is wrong but you are going to scream about it (we had this again last night).
-You want Mama or Daddy and only that person, but the other person is the one who comes to get you so you flip out. (In fact, you are downstairs yelling for me right now, but I really really need a break!)
-And my latest favorite, you want only the few things that your Daddy and I don't want you to have our do, and when we won't let you have it/do it, you throw a tantrum.

I knew this was coming and had lots of warning about the tough toddler years. But yeowza, this is hard! You are hard! I know it's a phase that you will get through. But then you will be in another phase (probably the terrible twos, oh joy), and then another.

Just remember, I'm only joking when I say we are going to sell you to the gypsies. I hear we can get a much better deal on eBay!

Ti amo,
Mama

Friday, October 17, 2008

No Halloween Partying This Year

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our Halloween party this year. Londo and I have an annual Halloween party that we've been having since 2000. I don't think we've missed a year... until now.

But I've just been so busy with one deadline after another at work, with the Pumpkin going through her toddler phase plus being sick, many rough nights (when will it end???), and of course all the fertility stuff. I simply haven't been able to do anything for the party, and Londo can do only so much. It's usually just starting to get tough this time of year for me, with the onset of fall affecting my Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I'm usually able to get some basic party planning done. I just wasn't this year.

So Londo and I talked about it, and then when my mom said she couldn't babysit for the Pumpkin, we just decided to scrap it. One year off due to too many factors taking our time.

For those of you who usually come, I'm sorry. For me, I'm sorry because Halloween is my favorite holiday and I LOVE our annual party!

Next year, I will do better and we'll have everything lined up and ready to go! I'm sure of it!

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...