Monday, December 29, 2008

Conversations and Phrases Heard Oft Over the Last Week

1. Me: Finn, you are being very naughty.
Finn: No, Mommy, YOU naughty!


Oh, the sass, already. My mom would tell you that I have it coming after years of giving her lip.

2. As M. or I attempt to survive yet another playing of Frosty the Snowman by singing along:
Finn: No, Mommy (or Daddy), no!! No singing! (This kid is the polar opposite of normal little ones, that are supposed to love the sound of their parents singing no matter how awful their voices are. He WILL NOT let us sing!)
Me: OK, YOU sing then, Finn.
Finn: No, Mommy, YOU sing.
Me: OK. (Ha, ha, I won! Resume singing Frosty. Again. Did I really win?)

3. Mommy, I want to open more presents (said with the cutest emphasis on the "s's" in presents that you will ever hear).

But none of that clothing crap, toys only, got it? (OK, so I added that last sentence for dramatic effect and it is not an actual quote, but given the disdain Finn showed for any boxes that were unwrapped to reveal clothes, you can bet he was thinking it.) (Note to all family members that gave Finn said clothes, they were much appreciated by his mother and father. And fear not, Gentle Readers, Finn received plenty o' toys, too.)

4. Said this morning, by a child who was CLEARLY not fully awake yet, because otherwise he would have remembered the 9 and a half hours we JUST spent in the car YESTERDAY with a really crabby 2-year-old, leaving all of us suffering from some mild post traumatic stress disorder:
Mommy, I want go to Grammy's house now.

The last week has been consumed by planning and packing for a long car trip, one very easy car trip up north, lots of fun in the snow for Finn, plenty of relatives to create chaos and shower Finn with attention, lots of presents and cookies (for all three of us), not-so-great sleep (again, for all three of us), and a decidedly less easy going car ride back home. Much fun was had by all, and it's a bit of a let down to be back at work already today.

If I can motivate myself enough (see above re: still recovering from lack of sleep and long car rides), I will get some pictures on to my computer and share them with you. Much cuteness all around.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Flashback Friday

For a lack of anything more significant to post about, I thought I would delve into some of the old pictures I have of Finn on my computer for a little walk down memory lane. These pictures are all from December 2006, when Finn was just 2 months old. Oh, he was so tiny! And hairy! :-)

Here he is on his very first day at daycare - my first day back to work. December 18, 2006. Just shy of 2 months old - yikes! What was I thinking? This next time around I'm taking my full 3 months, regardless of the money situation. Anyway, it all worked out well, as my cutey was doted on by his providers from day 1:



We flew up to Grammy and Bumpa's (my parents) house for a lightening fast Christmas trip so that I wouldn't miss any work (no vacation time left in the bank when you've been on maternity leave for a couple of months). Here I am trying out the sling I had bought to help us get through the airport. It worked great! Later, though, it put too much pressure on Finn's reflux-ridden tummy so we didn't use it as often as I wanted to:



Christmas morning, opening stockings with Auntie Stacey:



Hanging out with Bumpa:



Finn and Grammy enjoying some play time with a new toy:



Cozy on Mimi's (great-grandmother) lap on Christmas Eve:



This year we are headed back up to Massachusetts to spend Christmas with my family - last year we were in Wisconsin with M.'s family. We are driving this time (we'll be trying out the new portable DVD player we got for Finn, hoping it's a sanity saver!), and spending more than 2 nights so hopefully it will be a bit more relaxing. Time to go write up a lengthy packing list!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I was so good about documenting my growing belly (and the increasing numbers on the scale) when I was pregnant with Finn. Not so much this time, unfortunately. But I did get M. to take a picture of me about a week ago, and hopefully it shows that I am actually starting to look pregnant instead of just thick.

20 WEEKS:


This was taken at the tail end of a "photo shoot" with Finn - we dressed him up in his Christmas duds and tried to get some nice pictures of him for things like Christmas cards, etc. It was a bit like trying to photograph the Tazmanian Devil. He just kept running around shouting "I go fast! I go fast!" and absolutely would not sit still. During the barest of pauses, when I could convince him to smile for the camera, he pulled out his squinched up "Cheese" face, which is arguably worse than a fast-moving blur. So, no new photos of Finn to share, unfortunately.

Last Friday, while I was away in San Antonio, Santa made a visit to Finn's school. Finn was one of very few kids in his classroom who actually wanted to sit on Santa's lap, and it was all he could talk about this past weekend. Every time we passed a fake Santa in someone's yard or saw a picture of Santa in a store, we heard a chorus of "I sit on Santa's lap" over and over again. He was so proud of himself, and we were pretty proud of him, too. I assumed he would be scared of sitting on Santa's lap, like any other typical toddler who cries the second he is confronted with the awesomeness that is a mall Santa. Not Finn. Instead, he informed me today that he would like to go see Santa again. I tried explaining that Santa was now busy making some last minute toys to deliver next week, but needless to say, that was a bit beyond his comprehension abilities.

This week is just going to drag by - Finn is so excited by everything Christmas, and I can't wait to arrive at my parents' house and get the festivities underway for him. One more week until we leave!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Maybe He Reads a Lot of Mark Twain?

My follow-up appointment with the cardiologist was today. Good news, my heart palpitations are not being caused by anything that will lead to my "demise." That's actually the word the doctor used, which I found strange. If he wasn't a little awkward and I felt more comfortable with him, I probably would have giggled.

It seems I've been having PVCs, or Premature Ventricular Contractions. Basically, my heart has a normal beat, then it beats a little too early, then it has another normal beat, then another early one, etc (the pattern is bigeminal, if that means anything to you med-heads out there). It's quite common (especially during pregnancy), and you really only need to worry about them if you also have heart disease, which I do not. There are lots of things that can trigger them, like caffeine, lack of sleep, anxiety, HORMONAL IMBALANCE (yeah, um, I'm guessing that's my big problem here), and some other stuff.

The bottom line is, if I feel the heart palpitations are livable (and most days they definitely are), then we will ignore them and go on our merry way. Many people live with them and have them far more frequently than I do. If they do get worse, I will go back in and talk to the doctor about medication to control them (beta blockers, I assume, though he did not name any specific drugs). The goal is to avoid medication as much as possible, though, as the drug he would put me on could cause IUGR (intra-uterine growth retardation) of the baby. Yes, well, no thank you, I'm quite fine with ignoring these flutters in my chest, I'd like my baby to grow as much as he/she wants.

I think knowing that these palpitations are benign will probably help them decrease in frequency - just the act of having them over the last couple of weeks was causing me some anxiety (for fear that something was really wrong with me/the baby), which probably just caused more of them to occur.

No follow-up for another 3 months, which should cut down on all the doctor appointments I've been having lately. Yay!

In other news, I leave for San Antonio tomorrow afternoon to attend a conference. I'm less than thrilled to be going (whoever decided that two weeks before Christmas was the PERFECT time to hold this meeting is seriously on crack), but at least San Antonio is actually very pretty during the Christmas season. I won't be able to kick back and enjoy a margarita after a long day of scientific talks, but I WILL be able to get some yummy Tex Mex food. I'd better bring along some Tums, though. The heartburn is already kicking in for me with this pregnancy - this kid seems to be destined to have as much hair as Finn, if the old wives' tale holds true.

It seems that whenever one of us goes away and leaves the other to tackle single parenthood, something rears it's ugly head to prevent good nights of sleep. In previous trips this has included numerous reflux crises (Finn's medication always seemed to quit working just as M. walked out the door to catch a plane), earaches, colds, etc. Unfortunately for M., the teething monster may be making an appearance during this trip of mine. The last two or three nights Finn has woking up crying at various inappropriate times - not his usual style. He's also been a bit whinier than usual (though this is difficult to measure in a 2-year-old, who is often quite whiny for no reason at all). There is no fever, no runny nose, no cough, no rash, nothing to indicate he is sick. So, the likely culprit is 2-year-old molars, of which Finn still has none. Probably 2 months from now he will still have none (this kid is seriously the SLOWEST teether EVER), but regardless I think that's what we're facing. Keep your fingers crossed that things don't go too badly for M. while I'm away, and that he's still speaking to me when I return on Saturday.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Almost Halfway There

M. and I went in on Monday for "The Big Ultrasound." I think people always refer to it that way because that's when the gender mystery is often revealed, like that's the whole purpose for the scan. I must say, in anticipating the appointment, it definitely felt less big to me than the one I had with Finn, since I knew we would be leaving the office not knowing whether Baby #2 is a boy or a girl. Still, lots of important stuff happens at "The Big Ultrasound," none of it centered on what's between the legs.

For the most part, all went well. I feel compelled to qualify since the technician did find an echogenic focus on the baby's heart. It's soooooo not something to worry about, apparently (then just don't tell me!), but it is considered one of the 6 "soft markers" for Down's Syndrome. It happens in a small percentage of all normal pregnancies, and when no other risk factors are present, no further monitoring or testing is encouraged. We fall into that category - the baby was otherwise perfectly healthy looking. Still, the doom-and-gloom scenarioist that lurks inside me can't just proclaim "Everything was perfect!" when asked about the ultrasound (even though everything else, truly, was perfect). Add to that my own heart issues (still having palpitations, every day, I have a follow up visit with the cardiologist next week and I'm hoping to get some answers) and the fact that I was THAT PARENT who received a phone call from daycare (a mere 2 hours after the ultrasound) telling me that my sweet little boy had BITTEN one of his friends... well, saying that the day was draining would be an understatement.

BUT, when I am not a physical and emotional zombie, I completely ignore any mention of heart issues and have been getting quite excited about this baby. It helps that I have been feeling all kinds of movement below the belly button. I didn't mind being pregnant with Finn, but pregnancy has been a lot harder this time around, and feeling those little kicks and punches is really, really rewarding. We are starting to get a move on preparing for this baby, and I think it's helping M. get excited, too. Last weekend we picked up a second-hand changing table for the new nursery, which M. managed to assemble pretty darn fast despite not having the manual/instructions, and despite lots of offers of "Daddy, I help you" from a screwdriver-wielding Finn. This weekend, we are going to see about securing a second-hand double stroller (Craig's List has been great for this stuff). It all makes me want to jump right in and start washing little clothes and organizing and reorganizing the nursery (my only form of nesting, apparently, as Finn's room was the only spotless one in our apartment as we counted down the days to his arrival 2 years ago). But, I'm pacing myself, since Good God, do I really still have 20+ WEEKS to go!?!?! It already seems like I've been pregnant forever - I've been pregnant since the summer (found out about baby in August), through entire fall, and now winter. It's hard to believe I have to make it all the way to mid-Spring.

Anyway, back to that ultrasound. The baby measured at around 10 ounces (no idea if that is big or small for it's age, but the doctor seemed happy). At the end of the scan, the doctor turned the screen away from us so that he could take a look at the gender. I keep thinking how weird it is - someone knows this fairly important bit of information about our baby, but we don't. However, I'm not waivering in my resolve, I'm still excited to have this surprise as a carrot to hold out to get me through what I'm sure will be a long labor. I have sneaking suspicions that it's a boy. MAYBE I saw something boy-like when the technician was checking out the umbilical cord entry into the belly?? AND there's a slightly higher incidence of echogenic foci in boys than girls (yes, I read some scientific journal articles online about this - couldn't help it, my geekiness kicked in). But we won't know for sure until April, and I plan on leaving it that way.

For your viewing pleasure, some profile pictures of the baby, who looked like he/she was trying to cram as much of both hands into his/her mouth as possible:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

When is a booger not a booger?

As A. has previously written, Finn has graduated from crib to Big Boy Bed. Thankfully, the transition has gone smoother than expected; no major crying fits and only one boom! (which I mostly slept through). That's what made naptime on Sunday so frustrating. After 4 nights of peaceful slumber and a 3 hour nap on Saturday, we were both expecting a nice relaxing Sunday. Coincidentally, naptime corresponds to the 1pm start time of NFL games and since all chores had been completed I was looking forward to settling into the couch to watch some football.

Finn woke up crying about 40 minutes into his nap. A. decided to work her mommy magic and sprinted up to his room (well, as much as a pregnant lady can actually sprint) to try and get him back to sleep. 15 minutes later she was back and Finn was making sleepy noises over the monitor. Given the ominous start to my naptime football break, I reassessed and decided that 2 hours would get me through at least the first half of a game. Not bad...but 20 minutes later, naptime was interrupted again by more crying. Clearly A. didn't have the touch today, so I rushed up the 3 flights of stairs to Finn's room.

As I opened his door, I saw Finn sitting cross legged on his pillow holding his right index finger in the air, his pacifier lying next to him on the bed. "Booger", he said, waving his finger at me, "booger." OK. While not the most glamorous job, wiping boogers is certainly something that I have extensive experience in. I went over to his changing table and grabbed a diaper wipe to aide my booger-ectomy. As I reached for his finger, I realized that this was a strange looking booger. First, it was bigger than usual. Second, instead of the usual booger hues, this was much darker. Third... At this point, time slowed as my mind began furiously putting together all of the clues. It was just like the end of "The Usual Suspects" as Kevin Spacey limps, then walks away from the police station. Except instead of realizing that Verbal Kint is Keyser Soze, I became fully aware that the booger was in fact not a booger at all. It was poop. Lots of poop. And it wasn't just contained on a little boys finger. No. There was a sizeable glob on his pacifier, smears on his shirt, and little dabs on his blanket. Aaaaaarrgggh!!!

My calls for immediate back-up were answered by A., and a thorough poop cleaning ensued. All things considered, it could have been worse. No walls were smeared and his face and hair were poop-free. Plus, I now have an answer for the philosophical riddle of "when is a booger not a booger."

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Boom!

That's the sound that echoes over the monitor at 5 am when your 2-year old falls out of his new big boy bed. Then hysterical crying follows. I haven't shot out of bed that fast since Finn was a newborn. M., of course, had no idea what was going on - his senses aren't very keen when he's extremely sleep addled.

I thought we would make it longer than 4 nights before Finn fell out of bed. Luckily, he barely remembers it. I asked him once we were up for the day if he bumped his head last night, and he talked about how he bumped his head on the car cart at the grocery store yesterday. When he was trying to escape and run around the store like a maniac, thwarted by the belt that strapped him in. Later on at breakfast, we asked again, and he said something about bumping his adorable nose, but he didn't seem too upset about it.

Needless to say, we will be placing some pillows around the perimeter of the bottom of his bed where the bed rail doesn't have coverage. And beyond that, we'll just cross our fingers and hope that one of these days he'll learn not to migrate around the bed quite so much while he's sleeping.

Other than that, the big boy bed has been a success. Finn still hasn't realized he can get off the bed by himself - he waits there for us to get him when he wakes up. We've had some excellent nights of sleep and naps over this holiday weekend. Me included - I've napped every day except Thanksgiving day. How will I handle a full, exhausting day of work tomorrow?!

Speaking of tomorrow, M. and I are headed first thing in the morning for our "big" ultrasound. It will be nice to see the baby again, and get some reassurance that all is OK. The list of ways that I have been an irresponsible pregnant woman has grown, along with my guilt. Things I have done this time around that I avoided with Finn are many. The "What to Expect When You're Expecting" authors would not be happy with me. Now added to the list - in decorating and hanging the garland that now adorns the front of our house, I apparently exposed myself to lead. Just when I receive a "Your Pregnancy, Week 19" newsletter that tells me that brain development is really ramping up this week. Yikes. So, yeah, looking forward to tomorrow, even though we won't be finding out the gender. Just hoping I can maintain my resolve to have a "delivery surprise" and that the ultrasound tech doesn't accidentally reveal the "he/she" mystery to us.

The next day, I have my regular prenatal visit. Which I am dreading a bit. Weigh-ins should be skipped during the holiday season, in my opinion. Blargh.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Big Boy Bed

Another big transition for Finn was implemented last night. To make lodging at my parents' house over the Christmas holiday easier, we decided to move Finn out of his crib now, even though the new baby won't be using it for a good 5 months or so. Two weeks ago, we bought a twin-sized mattress and box spring and had it delivered last week. Anticipating some sleepless nights, we decided to wait for this long weekend to make the leap so we wouldn't have to go to work incredibly sleep deprived.

Operation Big Boy Bed was initiated last night, at around 6 pm. We all marched upstairs to struggle with furniture rearrangement and bed-making. Finn's bedroom is tiny, so there was no way to have the bed and crib in there at the same time to ease the transition. The crib was moved out - in pieces (disassembling it was remarkably easy, but we will definitely need to dig out those instructions before reassembling it!). Also to go was Finn's "rocking chair" (the IKEA Poang chair that has been standing in as our all purpose bedtime story and middle of the night rocking-to-sleep venue), and the stereo system that has been hiding in his closet unused. Without the chair and the tall crib, the room definitely looks bigger and FAR less like a nursery. Which of course gives me lots of little "oh my god, my baby is growing up!" pangs.

We set up the bed (minus the frame to make it a little lower to the ground), and struggled with the necessary but evil bed rail. I put the sports themed sheets on the bed that Finn picked out himself, including his very first pillow. Macy (our cat) set up shop immediately, and made herself right at home.

After all the excitement, we gave Finn a bath to calm him down. Then it was time to attempt our bedtime routine in the new environment. Finn did OK until it was time to turn off his light and sing our bedtime song. Normally he drapes himself on one of us in the rocking chair for this part - not such an easy task in a bed where I was trying not to lie down myself. There was much moving around to get comfortable, and some tears from Finn. More tears, many more tears, came when it was time for me to say goodnight. I tried calming him down, but he kept crying and trying to stand up in the bed. Eventually, I just left and shut the door, hovering outside to monitor whether or not he got out of the bed. Luckily, he seemed to think that he could not get out of the bed himself, and after about 2 minutes of intense crying, all was quiet in his room. We peeked in about an hour later, and found him lying on his blankie near the foot of his bed (essentially outside the range of the bed rail and in serious "fall off the bed" territory). Not under the covers, not lying on the pillow. Oh well, one thing at a time, right?

We moved Finn a little more in range of the bed rail and put up a gate outside his bedroom door just to make sure he couldn't wake up and wander the house at midnight. He didn't stir until about 5:30 am! I went and laid down with him, got him back to sleep, and he managed to sleep until 7:00 am. Overall, a very good first night with the bed. I am not so hopeful that our first nap will go as well today, but I'm grateful that M. and I are not walking zombies as we prepare our Thanksgiving Feast today. Hopefully tonight will go as well, as we will need our strength to tackle Black Friday shopping.

We of course forgot to take "before" pictures, but here are a couple of shots of Finn's new big boy room:







Bonus pic - a Happy Thanksgiving picture of our adorable but not-so-politically-correct toddler:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Food Confessions, Etc

Ugh, you know it's not going to be a good eating day when you've already had 2 cookies by 9am. A little breakfast dessert, if you will, since perhaps, as I did, you also already had a deli-sized (read: not your run-of-the-mill, teeny-tiny Lender's) bagel with cream cheese. And the only thing keeping you from having a third cookie is that there's only one left in the bowl, and you don't want to be THAT person who takes the last cookie, and has to wash the cookie container.

I'm telling myself that the baby is getting ready for a growth spurt. Perhaps by next week it will have moved on from the size of an avocado (4.5 inches long, 3.5 oz, in case you were wondering) to roughly the size of a watermelon. THAT is the extent of my appetite this week, I kid you not. I also think it explains the lame 9:30pm bedtime I had to invoke Saturday night, and the almost 2-hr nap I managed to take yesterday. I, who have not had much napping success this pregnancy (just can't sleep, darn it), much to my dismay. Thank goodness Finn was also in the mood for sleeping, and allowed me such a long nap.

In other pregnancy grumblings, I've been having issues picking out clothes to wear each morning. Is it weird that I refuse to wear things that make me look "too pregnant?" It's no longer a secret at work that my oven is officially cooking a bun. So what gives? Who cares if my outfits now make it patently obvious that I'm on my way to looking a whole lot like one of the Tweedle twins (minus the red cap)? And yet it does matter. I'm only 16 weeks and a couple of days here. It's too early for those "are you sure there's only one baby in there?" or "still pregnant, eh?" comments. I know they will come, but damn it, they better not be trotted out until I'm at least 35 weeks!

The sad thing is that I can fill out those tent-like maternity tops more than I would like. Not because my uterus suddenly needs a new zip code. No, instead it's the dreaded upper abdominal tire. The one that unenlightened people might THINK is the baby, but if they truly knew where the baby was (below the belly button, folks, well below), they would realize that it's just all that extra flesh being pushed up and out of the way to make room for said uterus. Gah.

It's really not as bad as I make it out to be, but since I've been too lazy to take any "belly shots," I guess I can't really prove that to you. It's too bad, since M. and I were pretty faithful about documenting my growing belly (and weight) with Finn. Is this just the start of always giving the second kid "the shaft?" Starting the trend of giving him less attention and more neglect (freedom?) compared to his older brother?

Note, my use of the words "him" and "his" do not mean anything, we are still in the dark about gender here, and plan to stay that way. Just doing a little educated guessing, that's all.

I'd write more, but it's already 10:25, and I'm starting to count down the minutes until it's socially acceptable to eat lunch. I'm hoping to hold off until 11:30. I just can't fixate on the clock AND blog at the same time. Besides, the only other thing I could really find to write about is Finn, and how he is making such a liar out of me (I HAD to go and write about how wonderful he was being, didn't I?), what with all the whining and hitting (yes, hitting! My baby is hitting! Me!) and tantrum-throwing. And I just don't have it in me to write a behavioral post, where I detail all our strategies, mostly ineffectual, and beg for more from you experienced moms and dads out there. So, yes, that's all for now.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mixed Emotions

The entire country is focused on last night's election outcome, including me, so it seems fitting to write one more political post before I revert to the hum drum descriptions of our little life here. Bear with me, this is not my comfort zone.

I am very happy with the outcome of the election. I want to state that first. I voted for Obama, and I am glad that his victory is definitive. For the first time since 1996, I backed a winning candidate, and it feels good and validating. I hope, with a Congress that is a bit more aligned with the presidency, we can actually get some stuff done around here. We can shift our attention a little from all the issues the previous administration used to keep us scared, the way they hammered us about all the different enemies that surround us, creating an atmosphere of fear. Hopefully we can make some strides toward economic stability, good healthcare options (although I think Barack needs a little help on that one), and educational programs that work. Most importantly, I think, when tested, Obama will rise to any occasion and will do an admirable job.

Having said that, I still find myself somewhat sad today. Even with my emotional, exhausted, hormonal state that leaves me teary eyed at every TV show and commercial that I watch, I don't find myself moved to tears of joy over his victory. Instead, I find myself doubting the first sentence of Barack's victory speech from last night:

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer."

Last night, we elected the first African American President in our history, truly a historic moment. But what does that really say? Racial divides and tensions are deep seated, and this does break down some barriers. But in my opinion, the barriers between black and white were already being attacked with battering rams. What about the subtler, or less attention-grabbing tensions that exist? The stronger, more camouflaged barriers that are still holding strong? Does the election of Barack Obama mean that a Hispanic American now stands a chance of being elected? An Asian American? A Muslim American or a Jewish American? I am not so sure of that.

What saddens me the most, however, is that we seem no closer to gender equality. Perhaps selfishly, as a female, this concerns me the most. I think I could only cry tears of joy for an election that puts a woman in the White House, and today I am struck by the possibility of never seeing that happen in my lifetime. The divide between sexes is universal and deep seated, far more so than the tensions that exist between any two races or ethnicities. We still live in a time where women can hold the same position as men, and get paid less for it, or receive fewer opportunities for promotion. Our educational systems and workforce regulations are still geared toward a male population. While there have been some strides toward incorporating child-bearing and -raising in the workplace, it does not go far enough. For example, I will receive 6 weeks of paid leave to recover from childbirth and incorporate a new child into the family, and I will receive an additional 6 weeks of unpaid leave on top of that. Frankly, that's just not enough time. I am fortunate to work for a large company, which is beholden to the FMLA rules. If I worked for a small company, I would only be guaranteed the amount of vacation time I managed to accrue before going in to labor. In my opinion, both of those options suck, though one is of course worse than the other.

Yes, you could argue that we got closer this year, with Hillary Clinton making a substantial bid for the presidency. But she didn't win the nomination. Maybe because of who she is (those Clintons can be very polarizing), or maybe because this country is not ready for a female president. Others point to Sarah Palin, who had the opportunity to become the first female Vice President. But honestly, I think her selection as the running mate for John McCain was actually a step backward, a slap in the face toward legitimate female politicians. Yes, she is tenacious, and she must have some smarts to get as far as she has. But she is self-serving, and NOT smart in the areas where a country's leader must be smart - she cannot think on her feet, and maintain a didactic knowledge of the problems and potential solutions facing all of us. To put her one step from the presidency was an insane idea, and it shows disrespect to our intelligence.

I'll be watching, over the next 4 or 8 years, for how or if this election has really changed the political and cultural landscape in America. And you can bet your ass that I'm going to be keeping my eye out for that potential her, the promising woman who can do it, transcend those gender barriers and prove that women really are equals in every way that matters. I'm still hoping I'll see it.

OK, off my soapbox - Finn updates to follow soon.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween, Me Mateys!

Our little guy was a pirate for Halloween this year (thanks for the loan of the costume, Donna!). I vividly remember my brother Andrew loving his own pirate costume (fashioned by my mom, not a mass retailer, props to you, Mom!) so much that he wore it two years in a row when he was a preschooler. I didn't have such high hopes for Finn - we did a test drive in the costume a few weeks ago, and it stayed on his body for about 2 minutes. But luckily, daycare had a parade and party at school during the day yesterday, so they got to struggle with convincing Finn to put it on, not me. And I'm sure, since ALL the other kids had costumes to wear, Finn was more than happy to oblige. So by the time dinner was over, the sky was getting dim, and it was time to suit up for Trick or Treating, it was a piece of cake for me to get Finn into the costume. See for yourself, he makes a pretty jolly pirate:



M. was en route from a business trip up in Maine, so I had to handle our first real experience trick or treating alone. I left two big bowls of candy out on the front steps with a note for everyone to help themselves, and we took off down the side walk: me, my little pirate, two fake swords, and a plastic pumpkin. Finn was a little overwhelmed at times by all the kids and costumes, some of which scared him. He is still talking about the robot and "bear" (really a werewolf) that he saw this morning. Every time we saw another group of kids, he wanted to follow them, regardless of whether we had already been to that house or not. It was a bit of a challenge directing him around, and a lot of the experience was more like a meandering walk down the street than a trick or treating effort. But I managed to get him to say "trick or treat" several times, as well as "happy halloween," and we came away with a full pumpkin of candy and lots of compliments. The general verdict around the neighborhood was that he made for a very cute pirate.



I also had a doctor's appointment yesterday - I am 15 weeks along in the pregnancy as of today. These appointments always seem kind of pointless to me - there's confirmation that yes, the baby is alive, which is always nice. But the rest of the time is spent peeing in a cup and stepping on the dreaded scale, with only about 5 minutes or less of face time with the doctor. The doctor I saw yesterday was new to me (not surprising since the whole practice is new to me), and I was not overly impressed. She seemed very expressionless and not warm at all. Luckily, I think she does not deliver babies at the hospital we will use, and I plan to see only those doctors in the practice that do from now on, so I don't have to have any more appointments with her.

I had some concerns, because I've been having heart palpitations lately. I had them occasionally with Finn, and I know they can be a normal side effect of pregnancy. But with Finn they started much later into the pregnancy and didn't happen very frequently. They've been kind of frequent this week, and I was a little worried that they started so early this time around (I've had them for a couple of weeks). When I told the doctor about them, she basically told me to find a primary care physician and get monitored. She was not very proactive at all about helping me - didn't offer a suggestion of a primary care doctor (I told her I don't have one), and she also didn't offer to run any tests under her purview that might be helpful, like checking my iron or thyroid levels. Frustrating, and part of the reason I was less than impressed with her. I think everything is fine, but I will follow through, and find myself a PCP to get checked out.

Well, I'm being paged to come to the breakfast table, so I guess that's it for now...

Monday, October 27, 2008

For the love of fruit flies and olives

Perhaps, at this late date, you are one of those people who has not managed to make up your mind about where to cast your support in next Tuesday's national election. A humorous commentary from David Sedaris on undecided voters can be found here. His assessment beside the point, I'm assured that such people, even after being hit over the head with constant messages from both parties for nearly a year now, do exist. Perhaps, if after all the arguments over the economy, the war, healthcare, energy resources, executive experience, and wardrobes you still have not made up your mind, I can sway you with an argument for fruit fly research and the fate of the olive industry.

Many of you know that I did my doctoral research on aspects of fruit fly development. A topic near and dear to my heart, fruit flies have provided the basis for a century of scientific discovery and breakthroughs. A complex organism that is easy to raise and genetically manipulate, it so kicks the butt of many other model systems (sorry, M., but my model system eats your model system for breakfast, literally - there's just no contest between yeast and drosophila). Fruit flies were used to show that genes are located on chromosomes, for crying out loud. How much more fundamental and basic can one get? And there's more. Just about every known human disease gene has a fruit fly counterpart. They are used to study even the most complex of human conditions, like alcoholism, autism, memory/learning, cancer... the list goes on and on.

So, clearly, we have established the validity of pursuing scientific research on the tiny fruit fly, right? Apparently, this opinion is not shared by the McCain campaign.

Sarah Palin, she who allowed pork barrel funding to build a road in Alaska to the Bridge to Nowhere, which was never itself built due to an uproar around the country (or something like that), hence making this road a true Road to Nowhere, took it upon herself to criticize earmarks, a pet reform project of McCain's. Now, I'm not going to try to argue whether earmarks have any value (some definitely do, though) or what improvements need to be made to our earmark system. I'm here to defend fruit flies. And olives.

You see, Sarah Palin, in providing an example of the worthlessness of earmark spending, highlighted one project in particular as an example of pork barrel funding that, to her, is not in the public's best interest. This project involves, you guessed it, fruit fly research. You can read an assessment of her comments here, which though not unbiased is hopefully at least factual and informative.

Sarah Palin ridiculed the research in question, which apparently involves investigation into the olive fruit fly, a pest that has been terrorizing the California olive crop. Yes, this is different than the ivory tower fruit fly I lauded above. The research here is seeking to understand the olive fruit fly so that we may kill it, not unlock genetic mysteries that will lead to advances in human medicine. But her statement didn't go into that kind of detail, it just ridiculed fruit fly research as a whole. Way to be dismissive of all those past and future scientific discoveries we owe to the fruit fly, hmm?

The salon.com link above includes a discussion of the olive and olive oil markets, both national and international. Apparently the olive fruit fly is quite a blight on olive crops, a serious problem. Now, who doesn't love a good tapenade, I ask you? Bruschetta? Spaghetti aglio e olio? Cocktail and intimate dinner parties would never recover from an olive extinction. If that doesn't sway you, just think of my poor, picky, nutrient-deficient toddler, whose list of edible fruits includes just 6 items (banana, pear, apple, pineapple, orange slices, and olives). If all the olives are gone, we're down to just 5! Then what will he have on his pizza?? The horrors are unthinkable.

I have been assured, by the way, by the ever-reliable Internet that the olive is most definitely a fruit. Which I guess is why it is being attacked by a fruit fly... huh, don't I feel dumb. My original plea was going to include the olive as one of the 5 vegetables that Finn will deign to eat, but it being a fruit and all... This means Finn's vegetable list is down to 4 items(peas, corn, carrots, and the occasional french fry, which is also of dubious but definitely arguable vegetable origin). None of which he will actually eat on a regular, predictable basis.

If you have any positive feelings toward fruit fly research, olives, or my son's limited picky toddler diet, please, vote Obama/Biden next week!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthday Celebration

Finn's birthday is today, and we had a birthday celebration for him on Saturday to mark the occasion. Nothing extravagant, just some fun activities that the three of us enjoyed together. We woke up (VERY bright and early, it's like he had a sixth sense about the fun waiting for him), opened presents, then headed off to the county airpark. The airpark has a cute little restaurant with lots of windows, so we ate breakfast while watching propeller planes taking off. After some good play time outside, lunch, and a nap, we headed off to the National Zoo. It was pretty chilly out, so I'm glad we only decided to devote half a day to the adventure. There was plenty to see, and Finn had a great time. The orangutans, turtles and giant pandas were particularly big hits. We brought Finn to the zoo last year on his birthday, I guess it is becoming a birthday tradition. Then it was home for cupcakes, singing and bedtime.

The celebration isn't quite over, of course, since today is Finn's actual birthday. He will be having cookies with his classmates (store-bought, as mandated, though this feels like cheating to me) and we will be going out for pizza (his favorite) for dinner.

Stay tuned for a photo entry that documents some of Finn's cutest moments over the past two years - nothing like a birthday to make me feel all maudlin and schmoopy about my baby. For now, here are some pictures from Saturday.

Playing with his new train set from Mommy and Daddy:

Opening presents with Daddy (he was really into ripping the paper himself, so Christmas should be fun this year):


Modeling the awesome letter sweater made by Mimi - go Badgers!:

Trying out his new big boy easy chair from Grammy and Bumpa:

At the zoo with Mommy and a statue of Stillwater (his favorite panda from the book "Zen Shorts"):
Blowing out candles (Mommy did the heavy breathing, Finn wasn't too sure what to make of it):

Mmm, frosting:

The Aftermath (note his newest camera pose, which he assumes whenever you ask him to say cheese - mouth locked open in a painfully large smile, eyes squinched shut):
Not too bad, if you compare to last year's birthday cupcake mess - Finn's first ever experience with cake and frosting:

Gah, I can't believe my baby is already 2!!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Sequel

Ack, I've thought about writing this post for the last, oh, eight and a half weeks, and still, I'm not sure what to say. I wanted drama, excitement, humor, eloquence... but I set my expectations too high, and when the right words didn't come to me, I just said nothing at all. Or maybe it's that I got slightly superstitious, and just didn't want to risk something happening BECAUSE I spilled the beans too early. I mean, OK, if it wasn't meant to be for some reasonable, scientific reason, then I could maybe just dust myself off and try again. But what IF, the mere act of sharing the information (which, really, I am about to share, I swear) far too early, MADE something bad happen? Stupid, I know - a thought not worthy of someone who spent over 20 years in school - but a thought that crossed my mind nonetheless.

So I waited, even though I had every intention of blogging about it all, from the very first day, even any potential bad stuff. Though, of course, to several of you, this is old news (funny how you tell one or two people and suddenly everyone knows, hmm?). To stop this rambling, bring the rest of you up to speed, and just effing get on with it, a pictorial explanation:


12 weeks and 3 days as of today. Estimated due date is April 25, 2009. April is a wonderful month to have a baby, right, Mom? Given my track record (Finn was born 8 days late), we may be having a May baby, but I'm holding out hope for April.

According to the newsletter I received a couple of days ago, this little one is about the size of a lime right now, up a few centimeters from the fig-sized mass it was last week (Side note: Why do they always use produce? Why not say the baby is the size, for example, of a badminton birdie? A shuttlecock, if you will?). As of today I can confirm that it has two arms (you can see one in the picture on the left), two legs, two scary alien-baby eye sockets, a spine, a bladder, a stomach, very low odds for having Trisomies 18 or 21, and a wonderful beating heart. 158 bpm - a little lower than Finn's heart rate at this age, if I remember correctly, but I'm not going to read anything into that. Nor the fact that I've been feeling much worse with this pregnancy (the indigestion! the nausea! the general blech-iness!) than I did with Finn. Our family makes boys, so I'm assuming that's what this one is. Confirmation will not be forthcoming until the birth, however - we are holding out for a surprise on this one.

We are excited, and introducing the concept to Finn. He has heard the heartbeat (thank you, Donna, for the use of your Doppler!) and has a vague idea that there is either a baby or a bulldozer inside my belly (the confusion is my fault, but I think it's cute so we may string him along a little longer). We bought him The Berenstain Bear's New Baby (both to introduce him to the idea of a sibling AND the idea of a new bed, which he will need in the next few months), and we read it occasionally. Finn will be two and a half when this baby is born, an age difference I am hoping is perfect (is there such a thing?). Close enough together to be friends, far enough apart where I won't have TWO babies at once. Though that thought saddens me, as Finn will always be my baby, right?

So, there, it's done with, I managed to actually write a blog post about this. Hopefully the rest of them will come more easily.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

This and That

Things have been relatively quiet here in the M household. The most excitement we've had all week was the invasion of a legion of ants in our dining room (last Saturday) and our first ear infection of the season (Finn, of course). The ants suddenly appeared in combination with a particularly messy granola bar snack and sweeping the deck to remove dead leaves. The hapless and not-big-enough mat that is under Finn's booster seat was swarming with tiny little ants within an hour of the sweeping. Much spraying and vacuuming later, as well as a visit from Orkin today, and the little buggers are gone.

As far as the ear infection goes, that was a surprise, too. Finn had a cold that had FINALLY disappeared several days ago. - we thought all was fine. Plus, he has tubes in his ears, and since they were installed last December we haven't had a single ear infection to deal with. However, I received a call from daycare on Wednesday alerting me to the fact that Finn apparently had tons of drainage leaking out of his right ear. A not-so-quick trip to the doctor's confirmed the infection, and Finn is now the recipient of oral and topical (ear drops) antibiotics for the next week and a half. We also discovered that his left ear tube has come out - this was noticed when the doctor cleared out some wax to check Finn's left ear and discovered a tiny green tube inside the impressively gross ball-o-wax. So, I'm guessing that while this was the first ear infection of the season, it will not be the last, especially since we are down to only one tube.

Despite the ants and the ear infection, we've had generally good spirits all around. Today we headed to the "Great Pumpkin Patch" festival for a few hours. Finn had a ball with the little trackless train, the Trick-or-Treat Trail, the hayride that took us to the pumpkin patch, and the petting zoo. Despite the long lines and hot sun, he was really well behaved. We took a few pictures, though I'm not sure yet if they are any good. He's now safely tucked in bed, and M. and I are trying to wind down with a little TV before we hit the hay ourselves. The Wisconsin game is on right now, though, which is not helping M. relax, mostly because they are down 10 - nope, make that 17 - and not looking good. As a supportive wife, I should be worked up, too, but mostly I'm just tired :-).

One complain-y side note: Why is it that a child who needs to be woken up by his parents at 7 am on Friday to keep everyone from being late that day, wakes up at 6:09 on Saturday, when no one has to be ANYWHERE, and all the other warm-blooded creatures in the house wish to stay in their comfortable beds?? Here's hoping he's kinder to us tomorrow morning...

One inquisitive side note: M. and I are headed out on Monday night to do some shopping for Finn's upcoming birthday (we have a babysitter coming, so we can actually accomplish the shopping without the distraction of a toddler who wants everything he sees). Seeking some ideas here - if you were a 2-year-old boy, what presents would you want to open on your birthday?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pumpkin Love

It's finally Fall around here, and Finn couldn't be happier. He has a newfound love of all things pumpkin for some reason. Our weekend walks are characterized by exclamations of "Muh-min" about every 15 seconds or so, every time we pass another house with something the tiniest bit pumpkin related on display. Side note, to our toddler, the words pumpkin and muffin are pronounced the exact same way. Perhaps I need to take a cue from that and start baking him some pumpkin muffins for his pre-breakfast snack - yum!


Finn also gets a kick out of all Halloween decorations. Not even the scary ones phase him, and to my dismay he even gets excited about the super-large spiders we've seen on display. Ugh. But I love that he is enjoying it, since this is my favorite time of year. Colorful leaves, breaking out sweaters after way too many days of tank tops, pumpkin lattes at Starbucks, I love it all. Except the large spiders.


This past weekend was pretty quiet and low key, but still a ton of fun. The reason was Finn - he is definitely going through a wonderful phase right now, so much so that I'm not sure I want to talk about it lest I jinx it and the tantrums start up anew tomorrow. He is happy and talkative and mimicky and funny, so full of excitement for EVERYTHING, that even just going to the grocery store is fun with him. I have heard that the whole numbers can be just as great as the half numbers are awful, but as we roll into Finn's second birthday in a few days, I'll be wishing on his candles that 2 1/2 is just as kind to us as 2 has been so far.


Saturday we went on a "hike" in a nearby state park. I use the quotes because much of the way was paved, and we brought Finn's stroller along (not so easy to maneuver on the unpaved parts, though), though he refused to sit in it much of the time. It was a wonderful day, weatherwise - a long-sleeved shirt and jeans was the uniform for everyone, and I think you'll agree that Finn looked particularly cute in his:







The next morning we set up the fake pumpkins we purchased at Target a few weeks ago (on a whim, and at Finn's insistence, of course). They are perfect for the front of our house, which gets full sun during the afternoon that has been known to heat our storm door to a flesh-singe-ing degree and would no doubt make short work of any real carved pumpkins we might place out there. Finn is in love with his new buddies, and enjoys just sitting next to them on the steps every day, especially when M. and I are trying to load him into the car to take him to daycare. Every night, after dinner, we ceremoniously go outside and plug them in, so Finn can exclaim over and over again about "light!" "Muh-min!" "Mommy, light!" "Muh-min!"



Though not the best picture, I included the one above so that you can see Finn in his typical state of late - running somewhere, anywhere, with a devilish grin on his face. This kid does not slow down!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dude, it's Nuke-lee-errrr!!!

Why is it that all Republicans seem to feel the need to pronounce the word nuclear as nukular?? I swear, it's like fingernails down a chalkboard for me. My biggest political pet peeve, I think.

I will say, though, that that Sarah Palin has a great stylist. Sign me up for those glasses. OK, I still prefer my contacts, but she does have a nice hair style.

I'm embarrassed to say that I fell asleep about 30 minutes into the first presidential debate last week. Here it is, 9:53 pm, and I'm still awake during the VP verbal sparring. Admittedly, though, I pulled out the computer just now to stave off the inevitable super-long blinks that are a short step away from snoring and drooling on the couch. But I definitely find these two a bit more interesting than their presidential counterparts, I guess.

Back to my original rant, on further research, it appears that mis-pronunciation of the word nuclear is not limited to Republicans. Here's an interesting little tidbit from Slate.com that discusses it. Hmm, if Bill Clinton was guilty of the infraction, I wonder if that extends to his wife, the candidate I was hoping to be voting for this election... Food for thought. Can't say it would have changed my mind for sure, but "nukular" REALLY annoys me!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not Dead

I swear, we are all alive and well! Busyness and exhaustion have kept us from blogging, but things should be slowing down now.

When I last posted, I was about mid-way through a stint of single motherhood, with M. in Vietnam for work. While he was there, my parents and my sister Stacey came to visit for a few days, and we had a great time. They helped with a few projects around the house - installing shelves in our new office closet, refinishing a light fixture, moving around some furniture, and replacing several of our severely ugly overhead lights that were peppered throughout the house. I definitely felt spoiled. The best part was the fun Finn had - lots of people to shower him with attention, and plenty of quality baseball-watching time with Bumpa (my dad). Baseball is apparently Finn's favorite sport, and every time he sees a TV he asks to watch it (Lord help us when the season ends!). Bumpa was happy to indulge, and we have a little Red Sox fan in the making.

About an hour after Grammy, Bumpa and Auntie Stacey left, M. returned home. Finn woke up from his nap to find his much missed Daddy, and I have never seen him jump up and down in his crib with quite so much excitement.

M. and I spent the next couple of days recovering and trying to help M. figure out what time zone he was in (Vietnam is 11 hours ahead of us), then I took off for the Boston area to visit Mommy Esq and my new niece and nephew. Penny and Ned are adorable and unbelievably small - how soon one forgets the tinyness of newborns! They are already ten times the sleepers Finn was, which makes me very greatful for Mommy Esq and Husband's sakes, but very jealous too! I hope my next baby can take a cue from Penny - that little girl loves to eat and sleep, and really only cries when she's getting her diaper changed.

Today is Sunday, and I have a few more hours here in Boston. Mommy Esq and I are sitting on opposing computers, blogging at the same time. How trendy of us! I hope I have been some help - all the old moves to quiet a fussy baby came right back, and I think I was especially good at getting Ned to catch some zzz's (Penny needs no encouragement in that area). But I do miss Finn a lot - we have been Skyping (talking over the computer with a video camera) every night, and it's both wonderful and hard to see his cute little face from afar. It will be nice to get back to him and M., and return to normal life. More travel is scheduled over the next several weeks for M. and myself, but they are short trips and hopefully Finn will have plenty of opportunity to remember what it's like to live in a two-parent household.

I have some great pictures from our visits with the various members of my family, so expect a photo post soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Apologies and a Quick Update

I've re-read my post from yesterday, and good lord I hope I didn't bore anyone. It's way too long, and I apologize! Can you tell that even though I am for the most part quite happy about working full time and having Finn in daycare, a small part of me feels guilty? And leads me to obsess about the care and education my son is receiving on a daily basis?

Finn is still having some issues adjusting to his new room, but nothing serious enough to chronicle (at least for now!). On to other topics. Today marks day 3 of my single mommy-hood. M. left for Vietnam on Sunday afternoon. He cannot call me from his cell phone (no service there), but he has e-mailed me several times, and let me know that he has safely arrived in Hanoi. Tonight, we talked over our computers using Skype - it was great to hear his voice (the connection was so clear!), and we arranged for the call to happen while Finn was still awake. He is definitely missing his daddy - he asks for him as soon as I walk in his room in the morning, and even though I tell him his daddy is on a trip, he insists that Daddy is downstairs waiting for him. However, he does know that Daddy left in his car to go on an airplane (though sometimes he insists that Daddy is on the choo-choo instead). I'm pretty sure he thinks M. is going to be on an airplane this whole week - we haven't mastered the concept of what a trip actually is yet.

Honestly, the time is flying by pretty quickly, and at this rate M. will be home in no time. My days and nights have been busy - as soon as I get Finn fed, bathed and in to bed, I spend my time each night doing the regular chores (cleaning the kitchen, packing my lunch) and the "extra" chores that need to get done before my visitors arrive on Thursday. Tonight, for example, I swept and mopped the front hall and the kitchen, and cleaned Finn's bathroom. Then I drag myself into the shower and blow dry my hair before hitting the hay - it's far easier to do that stuff at night than the early morning, where I'm either tiptoe-ing around, trying desperately not to wake up Finn while I hurry through a shower, or trying to juggle the need to get ready for work with Finn's demands for book reading and any number of other types of attention.

Thursday afternoon my mom, dad and sister Stacey are coming for a visit. They are coming to keep us company, help us get a couple of projects done around the house (install shelves in the new office closet, change the look of some light fixtures by painting them), and maybe do a little retail therapy. Should be fun! My mom has a nice camera, so hopefully I will be able to share some nice pictures of Finn next week.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome to the 2-Year-Old Room

As I have alluded in a previous post or two, Finn has just been transitioned to the 2-year-old room at daycare. I have found transitions in general to be stressful. Our daycare center does not provide a "transition plan," and there is no effort made to introduce you to the teachers in the new room or tell you what goes on inside it.

When Finn was moved from the infant room to the toddler room, I knew it was coming, and part of me was looking forward to it. Never great at napping with the lights on and other babies awake around him, I was convinced that the "everyone naps at the same time with the lights out" philosophy of the toddler room would work wonders for Finn's napping abilities at school (it did). However, the transition was still not without stress. Finn was randomly moved over to his soon-to-be new toddler room without advance warning to "test it out." Instead of doing it gradually (an hour here or there), he was basically put there all day, a surprise to me when I picked him up at the end of the day. The director of the daycare assured me that Finn did great and was soooo happy. But the second I saw him, he started to cry. And. did. not. stop. Clearly, his day in this new environment was not without effect on him, and he had been saving up all his discomfort to express to me.

The transition to the toddler room happened pretty quickly. Eventually, I came to know the teachers (the main ones, anyway - there are still a few "floaters" that remain nameless, unfortunately), and I came to know the routine of the room. They came to know my preferences, too. I had only four "rules" at the time. 1) Finn was on reflux meds, which we were trying to give before dinner on an empty stomach, so no snacks after 4 pm. 2) No juice allowed (for some reason, the daycare gives juice at breakfast, but Finn gets milk instead because for god's sake, 1-year olds need their milk, not juice!). 3) The pacifier is for naps only. 4) No hotdogs allowed (come one, can't they find SOMETHING more nutritious to feed these kids? Plus, hello, choking hazard!). After a couple of days of rough naps, Finn settled in to the routine nicely, and quickly grew to love his classroom and friends. Similar to the infant room, the toddler room has a teacher:child ratio of 1:3, so I knew he was always getting lots of attention. The hardest part was giving up my daily lunchtime visits (as now Finn naps during my lunchtime), but we have both survived.

As Fall neared this year, and all the kids that were older than Finn gradually disappeared from the toddler room, moving across the hall to no man's land, I knew our time was coming to move again. Though legally our daycare center is required to keep Finn at a ratio of 1:3 until he turns 2, the center is always playing a "numbers game," and tends to jump the gun if it works well for their space issues. I was adamant that Finn not be moved too early, and I made a point to tell the director to ask me before Finn started "visiting" the 2-year-old room. I wanted to know before the transition was initiated, so I could determine if I felt comfortable with it.

You might be wondering, what's the big deal? But to a 22-month old, entering a room of 12 kids, some of whom are nearing 3 years old and can talk waaaayyyy better than he can, with only 2 teachers to keep an eye on everyone, it could be quite a big deal. I worried about Finn being bitten or hit. I worried about Finn LEARNING to bite and hit, because he can't communicate any other way with these comparative elocutionists. And of course, I worried about my baby growing up way too fast :-(. Which of course he isn't, so I tried not to let that worry influence my decisions.

As requested, the director did tell me ahead of time when they would like to start to transition Finn. She described a plan for me. Finn would "visit" for three days or so in the afternoon, for a couple of hours after nap time, the second to last week of August. He would continue to visit the next week, and then be officially moved on September 2nd. This sounded reasonable to me. Finn would be 6-weeks shy of his second birthday, so not too far off the 2-year-old mark. More comforting was the fact that two of Finn's friends, the twins who are 4 days older and have been with him in daycare since March 2007, were moving over just before Finn. He would have lots of friends, most of whom aren't too much older than him, that he still remembered from their time in the toddler room. And, we had an actual plan! So, I agreed, and made plans to meet with one of Finn's new teachers to find out the ins and outs of the new room.

Plan, schman! The day following my conversation with the director, I picked up Finn only to discover that he had been in the 2-year-old room, all day long. And again, I got the "he had soooo much fun, he loved it" speech. And again, the second Finn saw me, he started crying. And. would. not. stop. Needless to say, I was furious. I could go on and on about how this is no way to run a business, that they should be following my wishes and not what they "perceive" to be my son's wishes, that he shouldn't have been in the room in the first place since we weren't starting the switch until the next week, that any idiot knows that kids save their unhappy expressions for the people they are most comfortable with and just because they aren't crying around YOU doesn't mean they are HAPPY.... but this post is already too long.

To sum up, I spoke to the director (again), and reaffirmed that we would stick to "the plan." Said plan was executed, and Finn is now an official member of the 2-year-old room. I know his new teachers, and I am learning the routine of the room. I have fewer rules this time, as the menu has been changes (no more hotdogs on it) and Finn no longer takes reflux meds. I also apparently don't need to have the "pacifier is for naptime only" rule, since in the 2-year-old room they do not give the kids pacifiers at naptime unless the parents specifically ask for it. I bring one in every day just in case, but knock on wood, they haven't had to use it yet. Thus, "no juice" is our only rule. New things Finn will be working on in his big boy room include potty training (at this point they will not push, just offer, until he nears the transition to the 3-year-old room) and drinking from big boy cups. I'm sure there's a lot more he will learn, and as the year goes on I will find out all about it.

Last week, Finn spent 3 full days in his new room. Each day, he whined and cried in the car on the way home, but each day the whining and crying got less and less. Hopefully, today we will be back to happy car rides home. The morning drop off is still painful, however - the transition is apparently harshest in the morning, when Finn clings to me and cries as I try to leave him in these unfamiliar surroundings (he never used to do this, ever). From what some of the other moms have said, the "not crying in the morning" takes a little longer to achieve, but it does happen.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Big Boy Surprise

No blogging about Finn's first official day in the two-year-old room because he's home sick today. He took a turn for the worse with the hand-foot-mouth disease, and spent several hours crying yesterday afternoon. The sores in his mouth were bothering him quite a bit, and eating and drinking was quite difficult for him. Today seems to be going better - he's downed a couple of glasses of milk already, and ate a decent breakfast and lunch. The real clue will be naptime, I think - he's been averaging a less than 1 hour nap the last 5 or 6 days, way below the norm. We're already at an hour and a half today, and no noises over the monitor yet. Here's hoping this means he really is feeling better!

The big news today is that Finn has suddenly taken an interest in potty training! I don't know whether to be happy or not about this :-). Honestly, changing diapers is not that hard, and it's easier to clean a dirty diaper than a dirty couch/pair of pants/underwear etc when potty training accidents happen. But I am going with his interest, and encouraging him to "pee-pee on the potty." His first time was last night, just before dinner. I was changing his diaper, and he didn't want me to put the clean one on. He cried, and in trying to figure out what was wrong, I asked him if he wanted to go pee-pee in the potty. He said yes, I plopped him on (we have one of those little seats that sits on top of a regular toilet), brought in a book to read to him, and to both our surprise he eventually peed. Then peed again. And then again. He keep peeing in little amounts, I think because he would get so interested in what was happening that he would stop himself. I praised him a lot, and he was so proud of himself! His big grin was adorable. We cleaned up and ran downstairs to tell M., and Finn got a little bit of ice cream (one of his favorite foods, and nice on his throat right now) as a reward. What a big boy!

He's been about 4 more times since then, and each time he has asked to go. The second time was last night, during our bedtime routine. Part of me suspects that he was just trying to prolong his bedtime, but he definitely did have to go... He's still peeing in his diaper, too, but I'm not expecting miracles overnight. Finn didn't want me to put his diaper at one point (I, of course, put it on anyway), so we may be running out to buy some Pull-Ups later today. Ready or not (and I don't think I'm ready), I guess we're officially potty training! Tips are welcome from any of you experienced parents out there.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Um, WHATsackievirus??

The start of a three day weekend. The advent of warm sunny weather after two straight days of rain. A very long "to do" list. A wedding to attend, which happens to be the first kid-free event we have planned to attend in almost a year. Mix all these ingredients together and what do you get? A sick baby, of course.

Poor Finn. He's been battling a cough and a runny nose for about two weeks. It was clearly on the mend - we had ceased dosing him with Benadryl at night, and he was sleeping through without any disruptive coughing fits to wake him. But Thursday morning we noticed the cough was making a comeback, and I received a call from daycare informing me that naptime was less than stellar. For them to call me about a nap, it had to be bad, and indeed, apparently his nap lasted all of 35 minutes. A far cry from the usual two + hours. The Benadryl came back out Thursday night, after we listened to cough after cough over the monitor. Friday I called the doctor. What if it's allergies? A sinus infection? Should we bring him in? We decided the best course of action was to watch and wait. Finn was acting himself, even if he did seem to have a leaky mucus factory in his nose. Friday night went well - very few coughing fits, and no antihistamine was needed. As Saturday morning dawned we thought we were in the clear, this cold was on it's way out. But a couple of hours later, and I'm sure there was no whinier kid in the world. Lots of crying and crankiness, and general exclamations of "hurts!" without an indication of where. Suddenly, the prospect of a three day weekend, when it means the doctors' office won't be open on Monday, didn't sound so good.

Thank goodness for Saturday hours, though! It was my #1 criteria in selecting a pediatrician for Finn. Our appointment was a 10:00 am, so we had about an hour and a half of time to kill before heading over there. While M. sat with Finn on one of the playground swings across the street, Finn actually fell asleep. Sitting up, with his bike helmet on. Whoa, my child just doesn't do that. He's definitely not a "sleep anywhere" kind of kid. So any doubt I may have had about whether I needed to take him to the doctors or not flew out the window.

We arrived at the appointment right on time, and within 5 minutes we were talking to the doctor (love her!). She made Finn, who was clutching his blankie and an Elmo doll, feel very comfortable while she checked him out. She looked in his ears and mouth, listened to him breathe, and took his temperature. The diagnosis - a sinus infection, as we expected (not sure how she knew this for sure, but I'm willing to buy it from the pain Finn's been feeling in his head, since he's not teething for a change). No ear infections, though it does look like one of his tubes is starting to work its way out :-(. The big surprise was that Finn also apparently has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease, or coxsackievirus, in addition to his cold/sinus infection. He has sores in his throat, and a fever of 102. Poor baby!

A dose of antibiotic, a dose of ibuprofen, a short nap, and we already have a different child from this morning. As I type this, he's running around upstairs with his father, watching baseball on TV and playing with M.'s guitar. I'm sure that he will start to feel awful again as the medicines leave his system, but we can stay on top of it and, hopefully, rescue some of the weekend. No doubt he'll be in full health by Tuesday and ready to go back to daycare, where I'm sure he picked up the cold and HFMD in the first place.

Finn officially starts in the 2-year-old room on Tuesday, so it's a whole new set of germs for him to get used to. But I'm sure I'll have plenty more to say on THAT - transitions are my least favorite aspect of a daycare center and they definitely cause me angst!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gooooood Morning Viet Nam

As some of you know, I'll be leaving shortly for a week-long visit to Viet Nam for work. My longest international trip to date was A.'s and my honeymoon trip to Aruba, which was pretty much a disaster. Not Natalie Holloway disaster, but, yes, "Carlos 'N Charlie's" did play a role. Midway through our honeymoon, A. and I decided to venture beyond the boundaries of the Wyndham resort where we were staying. Mind you, this wasn't a tough decision, as the Wyndham had decided to undergo massive renovations without telling us in advance and also distributed beach towels that must have been washed in butt sweat. After renting snorkeling gear and a car, A. and I spend a fantastic morning of underwater sightseeing. We decided to head into Oranjestad, Aruba's capital and largest city, for lunch. For those interested, "Oranjestad" is Papiamento for "sleazy tourist trap". After a longer lunch than expected at Carlos 'N Charlie's, we returned to our rental to find our snorkeling gear and day-bag (all of which had been stuffed under seats) stolen. Most frustrating was that A. and I were working our way through the Jason Borne books that were in the day bag. I'm fairly certain that the street value of The Borne Identity isn't great and to this day wonder why the thief didn't just leave the paperbacks. To make matters worse, I endured strep throat and heat rash for much of the vacation and A. was struck with, um, GI "issues". Good times!!

Fast forward five years, and I'll again be leaving the friendly confines of the U.S. Truthfully, I'm pretty excited. Aside from the 24-hours of flight time (one-way!) it should be a great trip. Three of us at my company have worked for over a year to put together a workshop for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which is one of the big regional multi-national organizations (sort of like the World Trade Organization). We'll be spending two days in Ha Noi running the workshop and a third meeting with folks from various Vietnamese Ministry's and science policy groups. The fourth day is all about sight seeing. We're planning on heading to the coast to visit Halong Bay (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halong_Bay), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and looks spectacular on the Web. Then it's another 24-hour flight home.

For all of you more seasoned international travelers, I'm looking for any suggestions you may have on surviving my visit. Tips for surviving 24-hours of flights? What should I pack in my carry-on (toothbrush)? How can I ensure that my various electrical gadgets will have plugs that work in Viet Nam? Any Viet Nam-specific tips? Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Short Attention Span

I have many things I should be blogging about. Those really yummy Tempeh Reubens I made last week, for example. Or the fun things Finn and I did together this past Saturday while M. had a much deserved golf outing. The bits and pieces of Olympic coverage I managed to catch (those speed walkers are really freaky, don't you think?). Even the disappointment I felt when I heard Joe Biden was selected as Obama's running mate (I'm keeping an open mind, but I can't deny my initial reaction of, well, blah).

Instead of concentrating on one of these topics, however, my mind keeps returning to the clock. 1:30 pm, the time scheduled for MommyEsq's c-section, was very, very slow in arriving. But arrive it finally did. And it left. As did 2:00, 2:30, and 3:00. Just when I was starting to worry a little - did something go wrong? Or is her doctor keeping her waiting AGAIN? - my cell phone rang. It was Grammy (my mom) with some of the essential information. I don't want to steal MommyEsq and Husband's thunder, so I will not post the names or weights. But Baby A and Baby B are here and everyone is doing well.

As I type this, I realize how little I really know. The big stuff, like how well is "well?" Is NICU time a possibility for either of the tykes? And the smaller but still important stuff. What time were they born? Who came out first? Birth order is very important, you know - my sisters and I are all classic eldest, middle and youngest children personalities, though we were born only 3 minutes apart.

I was hoping that this tidbit of news would be enough to get me back to concentrating on, if not an articulate and thoughtful or humorous blog post, at least my, er, job. While I'm still antsy to get my sister on the phone and have her tell me all about her babies, I guess this will tide me over for a little while.

About that job... I must really get back to it, at least for the next hour or so. Then I get to go pick up my baby, something that I look forward to every day. But before I go, back to those yummy reubens, and a shout out to my fellow vegetarians Jen, Yson and G. You really MUST try this recipe. They are sooo good (M. doesn't want me to admit this, but he liked them, too) - I had three last week and I'm still craving them:

Tempeh Reuben Recipe

(adapted from www.yumyum.com)
8 oz tempeh
2 tb soy sauce or tamari
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/3 c water
2 ea garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 ts black pepper
1/2 ts caraway seed
1/2 ts dillweed
1 ts onion powder
1/2 ts paprika
8 sl rye bread
1 c sauerkraut, heated
4 sl Swiss cheese
Thousand Island dressing

Slice tempeh in half crosswise. Slice those slices in half through the middle as though splitting a cake into layers. In a shallow baking dish, combine soy sauce, vinegar, water & seasonings. Add the 4 tempeh slices & marinate either for several hours or overnight. Turn occasionally. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake tempeh slices, covered in their marinade, until hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve on rye bread with a slice of Swiss cheese, smothered in sauerkraut & Thousand Island dressing.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Unveiling

I'm feeling a lack of cleverness, wittiness, willingness to ramble, diarrhea mouth - whatever it is that normally powers my posts. So, I am taking the easy way out and doing a photo post. For your enjoyment, the big unveiling of our newly remodeled basement. Mark and I slaved all weekend on painting (mostly Mark), shopping (mostly me) and fighting with the towel racks (mostly me). We now have a fully functional bathroom, and an empty but beautiful future office. Ta da!

From the office entrance:



Looking toward the closet:


A view of the vanity and infamous toilet:

Just a note about the towel racks - can we say Aargh?!?!? So frustrating to install. And behind one of the two racks is an extra set of holes, otherwise empty save for some dry wall screws, marring our new, pristine walls. Shh, I won't tell if you don't...

The teeny-tiny shower:


The tile that we agonized over (at least for as long as allowed by a cranky, hungry toddler):

Not sure why I can't get this photo to be oriented correctly but don't worry, the soap dish is not on the ceiling. The super-expensive interesting tile runs in a horizontal line at about eye level (or at least what's considered eye level to me) in the shower.

Just like his Grandpa Mike, who faithfully scrubs the toilets every Sunday, Finn is showing a predisposition toward toilet cleaning:


And some bonus photos...

At the Splash Park:




I didn't know Rambo worked in an office:
My next post will try to have more, you know, words and stuff.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

File Under "Weird Blog Things"

There is a whole culture of blogging out there, one which I did not know existed until recently. Even now I am pretty sure I've just touched the tip of the iceberg. I'm pretty behind the curve, I guess. I didn't know people could make a LIVING off something that is the internet equivalent of keeping a diary, for example. The amount of blog-specific terms that have been spawned in the last several years could fill a Wikipedia entry, and even that said entry is not truly comprehensive. For example, it leaves off the word "meme." Which, technically, is not a blog-specific term as it has its roots in Darwinism and sociology, so maybe not an oversight. Rather than go into a long explanation of what a selfish gene is and how it helped coin this phrase, though appropriate for this website, perhaps, I'll just link you to yet another Wikipedia entry that explains it much more thoroughly than I could. Please, don't read the whole entry as it is quite wordy and your head may explode.

Basically, a meme is an idea or behavior that is passed from person to person through imitation. Like a fashion fad or a chain letter, I suppose. In the blogging world, it has become a way to annoy your fellow blogging friends and relatives. I have been tagged by MommyEsq with a meme that requires me to share "6 UN-spectacular things" about myself with all of you. There are rules I should follow, but I'm going to ignore them. Mainly because the last rule is that you have to "tag" 6 other bloggers to share 6 things about themselves on their blogs, and I don't KNOW 6 other bloggers. Well, I do, but I ONLY know 6, and MommyEsq has already tagged them all. So no sense in going through all the necessary steps, I'll just skip right to the oversharing part.

But first, putting aside the thought that "UN" might stand for United Nations (that would be a hard meme for me to complete, given that I try not to follow international events too closely), I could use a little clarification on the assignment here. Do I take "unspectacular" to mean average, boring, run-of-the-mill? Like:

1. I'm 5'4" (on a really, really good day).
2. I do not dye my hair. I plan to dye my hair as soon as I find my first strand of gray.
3. I like to read, but lately it's nothing high-brow. I get sucked in to chic-lit and Oprah's book club books and then feel ashamed and slightly dumb.
4. The last movie I saw in the movie theater was Be Kind, Rewind, on a girls' day out. Before that, it was The Da Vinci Code, pre-Finn.
5. Today, I am wearing a charcoal gray skirt, a white wrap blouse, and black heels.
6. For the last two years running, I have joked that I am 29, again, on my birthday. I am actually 31. Everyone jokes about their age, right?

Or, does "unspectacular" mean the opposite of spectacular? Do I need to share 6 things I am bad at? Here goes:

1. Running. I huff and puff and manage to do about 11-minute miles. My face turns beet-red. If I ran REALLY hard, for just ONE mile, I might be able to do it in 10 minutes. Pathetic, eh?
2. Cleaning. Before this past weekend, when M. and I made a concerted effort to remove most traces of construction dust from the house, I had not dusted Finn's room in at least 6 months. I can't remember the last time I mopped the kitchen floor. While I wipe up water spills created by me or my spirited young child, which may alleviate SOME of the dirt, I am sure my floor is quite gross.
3. Phone calls. I hate making them, my shy bones take over and render me panicky and mute. Usually only when calling people I don't know or don't normally talk to, but occasionally it extends to those I know.
4. Christmas shopping. I am always very last-minute about my Christmas shopping (clearly I don't take after my mother in this regard), and I have a hard time thinking of things to get people. Heck, I have a hard time thinking of things for people to get me. I may have a list a mile long and tons of ideas in August, but by December I've completely forgotten them all and I haven't purchased a thing.
5. Sending cards. I'm very good at buying them, but terrible at sending them. Sorry to everyone who didn't get a card from me this year - I probably have one sitting for you in a pile somewhere, possibly even written out. I promise, I MEANT to send it!
6. Just about anything requiring hand-eye coordination. Special gym, folks, special gym. 'Nuff said.

There you have it. Not 6, but 12 things about me, you lucky ducks. Since I'm not following the rules right anyway, I tag all of you. Feel free to share something unspectacular about yourselves in the comments.