Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas Rundown, Sort Of

I'd like to do a proper Christmas rundown, I really would. But alas, I don't think it's going to happen. Finn had what I'd like to term a Grand Mal tantrum last night before bed, and decided to continue it at 5 am this morning (ugh). To make sleep matters worse, I was awakened from a sound sleep by the sound of... something loud. Which turned out to be a car careening through our neighborhood, ramming into three cars (not ours, thank goodness) so hard they were pushed up onto the sidewalk, taking off through the park, and finally stopping when it crashed into a tree in front of a house (again, not ours, thank goodness). Drunk driver, the entire neighborhood is presuming. Half of whom were outside at 12 am last night. Then there were the police cars, fire truck, tow trucks... Sleep was hard to come by. My eyelids are propped with toothpicks right now.

So instead of lovely coherent descriptions of family gatherings around the ol' Yule log and Christmas cheer, I'll just stick with some bullets of the highlights (and low lights) of our holidays. Pictures will have to come later because Mark and I received a new camera for Christmas (yay!) which takes lovely high resolution pictures, which we are sure will completely kill my ancient Powerbook. So the photos we took will have to stay on the camera until we can get a new computer. Speaking of which, feel free to let us know what laptop you have and if you like it in the comments...

Highlight: The day before we flew out to Wisconsin, Mark and I both had snow days due to the massive dumping of snow on Maryland on the 18th/19th of Dec. The kids did not. So, we stayed home, the kids did not. Win, win. While working from home did occur, there was extra time for errands and packing.

Lowlight: The day before we flew out to Wisconsin, we found out Lucy's Prevacid solutabs for her reflux are no longer covered by our insurance company. Medicine we desperately needed to refill before we left. I have a lot to say on this subject, but don't want to turn this post into a rant (thanks a LOT, CareFirst. And YES, that is sarcasm). So much running around between the pharmacy and doctor's office, as well as 45 minutes spent on hold with the insurance company, ensued. Eventually an alternative solution was provided (Prevacid capsules compounded), but it is NOT ideal in oh so many ways. Especially because Lucy refuses to take it. She actually spit it out of her mouth so hard this morning that it got in her eyes. So yes, that goes in the lowlight category.

Lowlight: The day before we flew out to Wisconsin, Lucy spiked a fever (and woke up about 15 bazillion times the night before). After ANOTHER trip to the doctor's office (and interrupting our kid-free snow day), it was determined that she had her very first ear infection. Less than 24 hours before we were to get on TWO airplanes (no, we did not have a direct flight, and yes, I will not let THAT happen again).

Highlight: Lucy's ear infection was discovered BEFORE we left town, and we were able to get her a prescription for antibiotics filled.

Lowlight: Lucy did her best to refuse anything in a syringe, which at this point included Prevacid once a day, antibiotics twice a day, and Motrin around the clock to reduce her fever and ear pain. Poor baby. She thinks M. and I are trying to poison her.

Highlight: Finn was wonderful during both travel days. He did great on the airplanes and in the airport. Also, aside from the very last flight we took to get home this past Saturday night, Lucy did pretty well, too. Not much sleeping on the plane, but until that last flight, not much crying either. LOTS of crying on that last one, but it was late so entirely expected. These were 14 hour travel days (14 HOURS!!) between driving and flights, so I think we all deserve medals. Or another vacation.

Highlight: Weather cooperated very well. Only light snowfall on travel days (typical for WI this time of year), but a good amount over the holiday. Much fun was had pulling Finn and his cousin Bo around on a sled in the snow. We even got Lucy out there, too. We have some nice pictures of that, hope to share them soon.

Highlight: Finn had a GREAT time playing with his two cousins, Bo (almost 5) and Ty (8). So much so that just last night he asked to go back to Wisconsin to play with them. Despite the age difference, they were great with him.

Lowlight: With the adults, Finn wasn't so great. He was pretty rude, in fact. And he did plenty of fit-throwing. M. and I were pretty embarrassed by him on many occasions. I know it's the age, and that he was showing off for new people, but it still sucked.

I think with a mish-mash of family traditions, Finn got a bit confused about when Christmas was and when Santa was coming. It was kind of an entire week of opening presents for him. He's had some trouble coming down from the "present high." I think next year we are seriously considering staying home and starting our own traditions, and maybe having a calmer holiday. It might be nice to visit our Wisconsin relatives at a warmer time of year (not sure I like being in a state where people talk about the "warm spell" when it's 20 degrees out).

Was Christmas "magical" this year? No, I wouldn't call it that. It was pretty hectic, in fact. But it was fun, and hopefully the fun parts are the parts we'll remember 10 years down the road.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Christmas decorations have been brought out of boxes.

Lights have been strung.

Ornaments hung.

Obligatory photos by the tree taken.

There were even genuine smiles.

The tree is trimmed.

Even our kitchen got into the spirit.

Which may have helped inspire some cookie-baking.

Cold weather means coats and hats.

Very cute coats and hats, no?

And fleece, lots of fleece.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Random Product Rundown

On a lighter, less "parenthood is hard" note, I thought I would make a little list of some of the slightly obscure baby/children's products that have made life easier. I'm not talking the big stuff like swings and carseats and exersaucers, but rather the things you might not find on a Babies R Us registry guide.

By the way, I have in no way been compensated or asked to do any of these reviews. Dude, I don't have the readership for something like that. This is truly just an FYI of things I actually use.

1. Safer Bather

I'm not one to bath my baby in the kitchen sink. Bath time is supposed to be about making the baby clean, not immersing her/him in germs from food scraps and cat food remnants. And the plastic tubs - where the hell do you store them? What do you do when baby is too big and/or squirmy for it, but can't really sit up on her own in the tub reliably? The Safer Bather gets around all those problems. I used it with Finn, and bought another (the first one didn't make our move two+ years ago) for Lucy. You fill the regular bath tub with a little water, stick the Safer Bather inside, and lay the baby right on it. Baby is warm and wet, not slipping around, and not drowning (don't walk away, of course, never leave a baby unattended in the bath, yadda yadda yadda). When baby is older, you can use it for her to sit on as a way to keep her from slipping around in the tub. Best yet, it comes with a hook so you can hang it up inside the tub to get it out of the way, and it is machine washable. It is necessary to point the latter out as the Safer Bather may occasionally start to smell funky. A quick cycle in the washing machine with some bleach will fix that.

2. Carter's Bubble Socks

These are the only socks that actually stay on. Enough said.

3. Chicco Ct0.6 Stroller

We needed a stroller that was light enough to take through an airport, but comfortable enough for Finn to nap in at Disney World when he was about 18 months old. We had one of those cheap ($15) umbrella strollers you can pick up anywhere, but it didn't have a sunshade or storage basket, didn't recline at all, and looked very uncomfortable (I always feared it was cutting off the circulation to Finn's legs whenever he sat in it). It wasn't going to cut it. So we bought the Chicco Ct0.6 Traveler, which retails for about $60. It suited our needs perfectly, and we still use it all the time. Also, it comes in lots of fun colors. We bought the orange one, of course, since it's Finn's favorite color.

The one drawback is that the sunshade isn't great, but we paired it with this next product:

4. Kiddopotamus Ray Shade

This shade extends as far as you would ever need it to, and it's adjustable. Kiddopotamus also makes a version for side-by-side double strollers.

5. Circo Bibs

I bought two 10-packs of these bibs when Finn was a baby, and they are still going strong with Lucy. At $11 a 10-pack, I have certainly gotten my money's worth. They are terry cloth with a plastic backing to protect clothes. Perfect for solid foods. Machine washable, of course. Love them.

6. CARES Kids Fly Safe Harness

This is the only child restraint, other than car seats, that is FAA approved for children to use on airplanes. It slips over the airplane seat and provides a 4-point harness for kids too small to use the lap belt. It can fit right inside the diaper bag, and keeps you from having to lug a car seat all around the airport. Also keeps you from having to INSTALL the car seat once you get on the plan. No easy feat with a squirmy toddler, especially if you are traveling without another adult. We first used it when Finn was about 15-months old, and still use it now.

7. Gerber Tossables
No picture or link for this one because I can't point to any one product that HASN'T been useful. Gerber makes "tossable" sippy cups (straw or regular, we use straw), plates, utensils, bowls... anything you might need. They are durable, they travel well, they are inexpensive, and you certainly don't need to toss them. We don't. In fact, they are dishwasher safe and you can use them again and again (and again).

8. Fisher Price Rock-a-Stack

Why is it that stacking rings are like crack for babies? This set of stacking rings has given both of my kids countless enjoyment. And folks, I can be "green" and "natural" with the best of them, but please, take it from me. Resist the urge to buy the fancy wooden rings or the natural cloth rings. Simple, cheap, plastic. Let your baby slobber all over these rings AND the ring stand, and joyfully bang them all together. You will not be disappointed. Just look at the kind of photo opportunities they will provide, after all:

Finn at ~7.5 months
(Sorry for the link, Snapfish won't let me save my own damn photo to my desktop. Which is partly why I don't use them anymore.)

Lucy at ~7 months:

There may be more, but this post has already taken me way too long (as M. can attest). Time to go be, you know, present with my family. And drink more coffee. Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 11, 2009

I Hate Putting You To Bed

Those are the words I spoke/whisper-yelled (so Lucy wouldn't wake up) to my son last night. And the worst part? Was not that I used the word "hate," which in our house is on par with a swear word and is not allowed to be uttered. It was not that I lost my cool in front of Finn, which I have been trying not to do.

It was that I meant it.

There was a time when I loved putting Finn to bed. Those nights are long gone. Now bedtime is naught but a source of stress, leaving me exhausted and glassy-eyed once all is finally quiet in the house. Every moment is a battle. Let me just list for you the possible fit-inducing aspects of Finn's bedtime:

Pick one toy to bring to bed
Go upstairs
Use the potty
Brush teeth
Get in the tub (only a possibility every other night)
Get out of the tub
Pick out pajamas
Put on pajamas
Pick out two books to read (can be a process, and he usually wants more)
Songs while cuddling in chair (usually wants more/interrupts)
Get in bed
Get under covers
Say goodnight

Typically several of these points in the bedtime routine are accompanied by crying fits or flat out refusals to listen/do what we ask him to do. The worst is the "say goodnight" part - it is guaranteed to be greeted with lots of "I want you" whines and crying. Nothing makes me want to be motherly and comforting LESS than hearing "Mommy, I waaaaaaaant youuuuuuuuuuuu," by the way. Then once we do get out of his room, we are almost certain to have to go back in because his "nose is stuffy" or he need to be tucked in tighter or he needs to pee again or he wants a different toy (we do not give in to this, of course) and(my favorite) the poop fake out. You know, where he says he needs to poop, you get him all situated in the bathroom NAKED (because he can't spread his legs wide enough if pajamas/underwear are still on), and not a particle of poop appears. Then you have to grumpily get him completely dressed again (because child REFUSES to dress himself - something we are working on) and dump him back in bed. And say good night, again.

We typically alternate, M. and I. One night I'll put Lucy to bed and he will take care of Finn, then the next night we switch. In theory, the one putting Lucy to bed is supposed to take the additional kid-free time (since she's out by 7-ish, when Finn is just starting the bedtime extravaganza) to work out. In theory meaning that does not always happen, of course. Aside from working out, we developed this system to make sure each kid got some quality one-on-one time with each parent, fairly evenly throughout the week.

I can't take it anymore, though. It's making me act evily toward my son. I am behaving in ways I do not like, and saying things I do not like. I feel like a terrible mom. M. will be handling Finn's bedtime for a little while (does this mean I have to jog every night?) to give me some time to adjust MY attitude, which I appreciate.

But how can I adjust Finn's, too? Will this ever get better? Will I ever be able to just read him a couple stories, tuck him into bed, give him a kiss, and say good night? Conflict-free, where we both go to bed with smiles on our faces?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy December

I was doing so well there for a while - 6 posts in just a couple of weeks. Not sure what happened to my momentum, sorry about that!

Many things happened in the meantime, of course. Lucy suffered cold #2, I broke M.'s work computer, we hosted my parents and brother for Thanksgiving, we both almost broke the garbage disposal during the prep for Thanksgiving dinner, M. had his first foray into light plumbing, the kids had their first trip into Washington, D.C., AND (drumroll please) I actually started my Christmas shopping. Two gifts down, only a bagillion more to go.

Rather than throw stories at you, I'll just distract you from my lack of posting with photos, since that's what most of you come here for, anyway.

Lucy is adorable.

Finn is adorably strange. Yes, that's a third eye on his head.

We finally dragged out the jumperoo (and packed away the swing, huzzah!). Lucy is enjoying it.

Finn is, too.

The clan we assembled for Thanksgiving, minus Lucy who slept through dinner, and M. who was taking the photo.

Too cute to wear just once, Lucy previewed her Christmas dress for our Thanksgiving visitors.

On Friday we visited the Museum of Natural History, along with apparently half of the D.C. Metro inhabitants. WHY WEREN'T YOU PEOPLE SHOPPING?!?! Crowds aside, Finn enjoyed his first ride on the Metro and all the enormous dinosaurs.

As I may have mentioned, Lucy is cute.

My parents stayed at a hotel with a pool. We were all a bit mislead about just how warm it was going to be (meaning, it was not). We persevered, though, and Lucy eventually enjoyed her first dip in a pool.

Despite chattering teeth, Finn did, too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Is He Four Yet?

Ugh. Just experienced The Worst Tantrum Ever. At least, the worst we've ever seen.

At one point I couldn't do anything but laugh because I was fairly certain Finn no longer remembered why he was screaming at me.

Three is a trying age.

Lucy, right next door, fell asleep and slept through it all. Is a total peach. Is it terrible that I have fleeting thoughts like "Can I trade Finn for five more of her"?

Am now fast-chilling a bottle of wine so M. and I can calm our frayed nerves. Unplanned and oh so deserved.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I was dumbfounded by an ad I saw in Parenting magazine last night. Which I only read because it was lying there and free - M. has a categorical hate for all parenting-type magazines because they portray dads in such a negative light, and I have to say I agree with him.

The ad? Apparently Enfamil is now making a formula called "RestFull" Lipil. Designed to help babies feel full longer and sleep better. How so, exactly? "Enfamil RestFull is specially designed to thicken gently in your baby's tummy, and digest slowly. For a natural way to keep your baby feeling satisfied. So you both can rest better." Yes, that last sentence is actually bolded in their ad.

This just drives me crazy. First of all, natural? I'm sure there's nothing natural at all about whatever is in that formula to cause it to "thicken gently" in baby's tummy. What exactly are they putting in there? Second, I see this as yet another weapon in the arsenal to get moms to give up breastfeeding. Oh, you're exhausted because baby is waking up two or three times a night? Just try giving them a bottle of our special formula and they'll sleep so much better. One bottle at night won't hurt... And third, exactly how many types of formula do we need on the market? Enfamil's website has 10 different infant formulas alone, and also offers a variety of supplements and toddler products. Some of the different types are a necessity, of course, like the ones for premature babies and babies with food intolerances. But many simply prey on parents' insecurities, promising better brain development and stronger immune systems. Or in this case, they're preying on parents' exhaustion, a universal in new parenthood. Could they try any harder to make money off of us?

Please don't think this post is designed to bash formula-feeding moms. I'm one of them. I'm also supportive of moms that mix breastmilk and formula feeding, because I used to be one of those, too. I just can't believe that Enfamil is going to convince moms and dads that babies who don't sleep well at night can be "fixed." Sleeping is a developmental process. Either your baby is ready to sleep 11 hours at a time, or he/she is not. Nothing you feed them will make a difference. And in all likelihood, this stuff will give them so much gas that they'll be sleeping worse than ever. Don't fall for it, dear readers!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Halloween Debrief

Lucy is napping and Finn is engrossed in an episode of Blue's Clues, so I shall steal a few moments to post pictures from Halloween weekend. I will caption a few, but to put things in perspective, my parents were visiting for the weekend. It was the first time my dad had met Lucy, and my mom hadn't seen her since she was about a week old. Grandparent bias aside, they were much impressed with her good nature and cuteness. In addition to trick-or-treating (which was rainy and thus brief), M. and my dad undertook the installation of a ceiling fan in our living room. Mom and I took the kids and did what we do best - went shopping.

I shall also mention before the pixel dumping that Lucy is doing much better. She is back to sleeping well, and as of this morning her digestive tract issuance is practically normal. Huzzah! We're still giving her the hydrolyzed formula and being cautious with her solid food diet, but we're getting there.

So, here you go, more pictures than anyone except my grandmother probably wants to see.

Lucy looks almost as big as Finn here!

Thursday the 29th was party day at daycare, so I managed to get Finn to wear a polo shirt (buttons, gasp!) because it was orange.

The costume Lucy was supposed to wear, a hand-me-down from her cousins that was also worn by her month-older cousin Cameron this year, was deemed too tight.


M. tries his hand at decorating the strange niche we have way up high in our living room.

The idea of my mom climbing up the 12 foot ladder was quickly vetoed by those of us with sanity.

Finished projects: the decorated niche (shopping for varied non-functional objects by yours truly and my mother) and the ceiling fan (blood, sweat and tears courtesy of M. and my dad).

This robot has stuck in Finn's memory since last Halloween, when he was too scared to approach for candy. This year, with M., me, Lucy and my dad there to bolster his confidence, he managed to score some candy from the robot's stash.