Thursday, October 8, 2009

Comparing Not Judging

I think we've all heard that you aren't supposed to compare your children. But I'm calling BS on that. We are humans. What we do IS compare. What we really shouldn't do is make value judgements based on those comparisons.

I find the differences between my two children fascinating. They both come from the same parents, have the same genes, were conceived in the same way, grew in the same womb, were birthed in mostly the same way, and were treated basically the same after birth. Slight variations, but nothing major.

And yet, we can already see that they have very different personalities. Heck, they acted very different in the womb, after birth and every day since! They have different needs, wants and ways to get those needs and wants fulfilled. They are each hard in their own way. They are each easy in their own ways. Some overlap, but not all. Every difference, every nuance just fascinates me. I love them each incredibly much for the same reasons, and for different reasons.

As I'm sure I've written in great length both here and everywhere else, the Pumpkin was not an "easy" baby*. She was fussy and high needs*. She needed constant holding and movement. After hitting the 4 month sleep regression at 3.5 months old, she stopped sleep well (UNDERSTATEMENT!), and she was never a good napper (for the first 3 months, she would nap only on us). This was and is a basic part of her personality. She still needs to be moving and fidgeting constantly, and she needs adult interaction pretty constantly, including still being held and picked up regularly. This means that she is both daring in her physical abilities and a great cuddler.

So far, the Pookie seems to be a bit "easier" of a baby*. We've been able to put him down for chunks of time, and he'll happily look at what's around him, wave his arms and kick his legs, reach for and play with toys and generally be content. There are plenty of times he needs to be held and walked around, but it's no where close to what the Pumpkin needed. He naps lying down in his crib, although he takes longer, better naps in the swing. He is no where near as fidgety as his sister was/is.

When I was home on maternity leave with the Pumpkin, I had to get out of the house just about every day. She screamed (not cried, screamed) from the minute I put her in the carseat until I got her out. So whenever we'd arrive somewhere, I'd immediately get her out and put her in my sling. Most of the time, she would be just as happy as could be in my sling for the whole time we'd be out. As long as I was moving around and maybe bouncing. She'd slide into whichever kind of sling perfectly and usually get a nice nap all curled in.

When I was home on maternity leave with the Pookie, I went out only a few times. He just didn't do so well out. He likes to nurse with my shirt pulled all the way up and without a cover, and he likes to nurse a lot. He poops, then poops again, and then poops some more, often leaking more than once on his clothes. It got to be such a hassle to stop everything to change his diaper AND clothes, plus I'd struggle to nurse him without flashing the world my whole breast. He mostly does fine in the car seat, and even falls asleep in it. But he does not do that well in the sling! He doesn't seem to slide in it right, and it won't calm him down if something else is the matter like he's hungry (it usually would for the Pumpkin). I love the sling and want to use it all the time still, but he does not want to curl in like the Pumpkin used to. He wants to face out and see the world. Luckily, now that his neck is strong enough, I put him facing out in my Moby Wrap, and then we do pretty well.

Emotionally, I have always liked to say that the Pumpkin feels her emotions to the fullest. She is usually (like 90% of the time) a pretty happy girl. And when she's happy, she's smiling and laughing, not just hanging out content. She LOVES to laugh and make other people laugh. It's a lot of fun to be around. But when she's upset, she is UPSET!!! I think this is part of why she was such a fussy baby. There was no simply unhappy or a little cranky. She felt unhappy deeply and made it be known. I also feel my emotions to the fullest, and I don't think it's a bad thing at all. Especially considering she's usually very happy.

The Pookie is often smiling and laughing and cooing. He seems to be a congenial little guy. But he does get grumpy and fussy. When he does, it's more of a low-grade, constant whining/fussing. The Pumpkin would go straight to CODE RED MELTDOWN! The Pookie is much more eeehhhhh eh ehhhh waaaah wahhhh and works his way up to really crying. It's easier to let him fuss a little than it was for the Pumpkin. This is helpful right now, since it's easier to tend to the 2.5 year old needs with a little fussing in the background than have to juggle two tantrums at once.

The Pumpkin is definitely a spirited child, which is actually a pretty wonderful thing. Time will tell how the Pookie's personality will continue to develop, but my guess is generally easy going.

Both of them constantly amazing me and fill me with warm fuzzies. My love continues to expand with every passing day, and even during the rough nights.

*I hate using those terms, because I don't think "easy" is necessarily better than fussy/high needs. Seems odd to say, but I really don't. I think there are a lot of amazing qaulilties that go along with the fussy/high needs baby that can't be separated. I also think that having a fussy/high needs baby gave us a lot of perspective on parenting and children that parents who haven't had a fussy/high needs baby of their own do not fully get. Anyway, I use these terms because they are widely used and understood, but I personally don't apply value judgements to them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Locks of Love

Last Monday, I got my hair chopped off. I did it for a good cause: Locks of Love. (Pictures below)

When I first heard about Locks of Love, I knew immediately that I would one day donate my hair. What a great way to help out kids in need. It was something I could contribute. I have had long hair since high school and I knew one day I would want to get it shorten, so why not chop off a lot of it and donate it help out children who have been through so much.

I started going to my hair stylist right around the time I got pregnant with the Pumpkin. During my first appointment with her and at this salon, there was a woman donating her hair to Locks of Love. I told my stylist right then that I was going to do that one day. Over the years, we've measured my hair ("just to see how long it is") and talked about how I would do it one day. When I was ready.

Well, I was finally ready this last month. Even more than wanting to cut off my hair, I knew that it was a good time to donate my hair because it was still thick from being pregnant with the Pookie. For those who don't know, when you are pregnant normal hair loss pretty much stops. But then a few months after giving birth, the hair falls out. All that hair that normally would have fallen out over the months of pregnancy? It comes out over the next few months along with the normal hair loss that would occur in those months.

About 4 months after the Pumpkin was born, I started losing a ton of hair. It was crazy to me how much was coming out each day! I had a ton of new growth, but they were small, wisps of hair. Unlike some women, I didn't actually get any bald spots, but I was worried when the hair loss continued for maybe a year or more.

So at about 3 months after the Pookie's birth, I realized it was the best time to donate my hair. It was still thick from the pregnancy, and the hair loss would likely start soon. I was even getting tired of the length!

After having to reschedule the appointment 3 times for various reasons, I finally got 10-11 inches cut off. The last time my hair was this short was 21 years ago! Check it out!

My Straight Hair Prior to the Haircut:


My Curly Hair Prior to the Haircut:


My Straight Hair After the Haircut:


My Curly Hair After the Haircut:


Some things I've learned since getting my hair cut:
- Shoulder-length hair is still considered long.
- People with shorter hair don't usually pull it up at night. This was a huge realization for me, since I could not figure out how to get it all up without the ponytail bothering me while I slept.
- At this length, it's much more noticeable when I don't do anything with my hair.
- Although I usually shower at night, I'm going to have to start trying to shower in the mornings more so that it's not all messed up and hard to deal with when I wake up (see bullet above).
- I can kind of braid it still, but not really.
- I can't put it in a bun, and I miss that.
- It's quicker, easier and requires less products (shampoo, conditioner, mousse, etc.) to take care of at this length.
- I think I look more stylish with my hair this length, even when I don't do anything with it! I've watched enough What Not to Wear to realize that my long hair was not doing anything for me.
- I actually really like it this length! Although I probably will end up growing it out just a little longer so I can pull it into a ponytail on top of my head and braid it nicely and maybe even put it in a bun.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Question of the Week - The Movies

This weekend, the Pumpkin was pretty sick. Unfortunately, we do not have a thermometer that she will let us use that gives an accurate read. But we figure she was somewhere in the 100s to 101s on Saturday. We knew she was REALLY sick when she fell asleep on the couch during the day. Twice. She was a poor little thing with a cough and running nose in addition to the fever.

We treated the fever, washed her hands frequently and wiped her nose regularly. Other than that, there wasn't much to do. So we let her sit around on the couch and watch TV most of the day.

I remember when I was a kid and home sick that there were certain movies I loved to watch. My two favorites once I was elementary-school aged were Heidi and Pollyanna. How I loved to curl up in my parents' bed watching one of those on video, stopping for a cup of chicken broth and hot tea.

So when my daughter was sick and sitting on the couch, I thought it would be a great time to introduce a real movie to her! She does have, and love, the Winnie the Pooh movie, but that's really a combination of short stories. I did try Mary Poppins a few weeks ago, but I quickly saw that she is still too young for that movie, as I'm sure she is for Heidi and Pollyanna. I didn't just want to buy a Dora movie or another TV show's movie. I wanted to introduce her to a movie that is known in our culture, one that is recognized as a movie.

On Sunday, I had a chance to go look for DVDs after having lunch with a friend. My friend and I talked about different Disney movies and Pixar movies, trying to come up with one that would hold the Pumpkin's interest without being too violent or scary. I also did not want to start with a Princess-who-has-to-be-rescued story. The first one that both I and my friend came up with independently was The Little Mermaid, a movie I absolutely love. However, I don't want the Pumpkin's first introduction to princess be one in which I feel like the lesson is "Keep your mouth shut so the man will fall in love with you and rescue you." I'd rather start her with Beauty and the Beast, or Mulan if it didn't have all the violence.

We came up with a few good ones that I would have bought: Lady and the Tramp, The Lion King, Toy Story, Finding Nemo. But it boiled down to whatever the store had in stock. They had The Jungle Book, so that's the one I got! I started it Sunday afternoon, but the Pumpkin was in a fussy mood and the beginning was too slow for her. I tried again a few hours later, using a trick my friend says she does to cut out the scary beginning of Finding Nemo--I skipped the beginning. I started with the elephants, which was followed by Baloo and the Bare Necessities song. Score! She was into it!

We didn't watch the whole thing, but by the time the monkeys had taken Mogli, she was asking, "But where is Moogi?" and wanting to watch more. By this morning, she was feeling good enough to go to school, but she was asking about it. I told her we could probably watch it after school.

I'm really excited to start to share movies with her. Especially the movies I grew up watching or discovered a little later. Movies that I can enjoy watching. Especially ones with songs that we can sing and dance to. And when she's sick (which is going to be happening more now that she's in pre-school), I can't wait to cuddle her on the couch and watch Sick Day Movies with her.

This week's questions of the week are:
What movies have you watched with your kids or are excited to watch with them? Do you have any special Sick Day Movies?

I'm especially excited to share Beauty and the Beast, Lady and the Tramp, Shrek and Mary Poppins (once she's old enough to enjoy it). I'm sure there are a bunch of others that I'm forgetting, but those are the ones that come to mind now. How about you?