Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An Eerie Stillness

Every time a house guest departs, I am always struck by how quiet the house seems. It's a silence that cannot be filled, for example, by the noise of the Today show, even with all it's hard hitting news coverage of topics like the Gosselins and the fate of Michael Jackson's children.

M.'s parents, here since last Wednesday, just pulled out in their adorable Prius for the long drive back home about an hour ago. Shortly after, M. and Finn piled in the car for their returns to work and school, respectively. Lucy, completely zonked from our trip to the National Zoo yesterday, is sleeping up in her crib. It's quiet, and I don't really like it. I know, once I pick Finn up from daycare this afternoon and start the whole "juggling dinner prep and two kids" routine, all will return to normal, and I will welcome any quiet time I get tomorrow morning. Plus, with less than 3 weeks of maternity leave left, I really do need to be appreciating every moment of these days with Lucy.

Lucy and Finn were both charmers with their grandparents, though Finn did require a little warming up first. By the end of their visit, Finn was enthusiastically shouting "I love you" to his Granny and Grandpa, but when they first arrived, not even the promise of a wrapped present could entice him to give them a hug. Finn is now starting to understand that Granny and Grandpa are his daddy's Mommy and Daddy, but before comprehension dawned, we had several amusing conversations about just how Finn thought everyone in the house is related. At one point, when I foolishly introduced the concept of marriage (I am married to Daddy, Granny is married to Grandpa, somehow it seemed relevant but it brought Finn no closer to understanding), Finn was pretty convinced he was married to Lucy.

Speaking of Lucy, she is really starting to find her voice, and spent lots of time "talking" to anyone who would listen and bestowing heart-melting smiles. She really is a very good baby, crying only when she is hungry or tired (but man, when she cries, she is GOOD at it), and she definitely impressed her grandparents with her happy nature. Don't get me wrong, we are still dealing with some sleep issues, but (imagine this written in whispers with all kinds of fingers and toes crossed) she even managed to sleep through the night a couple of times. Usually those nights were on the heels of a day with little napping (like yesterday, where we were out of the house most of the day at the zoo, and Lucy never really got comfortable enough for a substantial nap), but if no napping = sleeps through the night, I'll take it.

Despite my sunshine-y post from about a week ago, I still haven't mastered the art of parenting two children by myself. After the first night of M.'s business trip that went so well, the next two nights were considerably harder. So to go from no help to having M. home AND two extra sets of hands, it was like heaven. I even managed to sneak out for a couple of hours on Sunday to run errands BY MYSELF. People, I bought SHOES. M. and his dad stained our deck and patio, something we have been talking about doing since we moved in two years ago. We had breakfast at the county airpark one morning, but aside from the trip to the zoo, the rest of our time was spent relaxing at home and letting Granny and Grandpa enjoy their grandchildren.

Lots of fun moments at the zoo, usually inspired by something Finn said. Seeing all the kids, he kept asking M. if we were at a school. He also got really excited about a horse that we saw (Przewalski's Horse), and kept exclaiming about the "dunkin." Once I realized that Finn was not requesting a doughnut and a coffee, it dawned on us that he thought the horse was a donkey.

Embarrassing story to relate: As mentioned above, I bought SHOES. A pair of brown shoes for work, and a casual pair that I can wear in lieu of my standard flip flops when I feel like it. The casual shoes are sporty and cushioned, the perfect shoe to wear when walking around the zoo, right? M. questioned my decision to wear new shoes to the zoo, but I was confident that they were comfortable enough to get me through the day. Not an hour in to the experience, I was already feeling pinching in three different areas of each foot. But I was determined not to say anything, because I didn't want to give M. the satisfaction of being right. Walking up the hill to visit the elephants, though, the blister on the heel of my left foot broke open. And though I was prepared for any other kid-related incident, there was not a band-aid to be found in the TWO diaper bags we had with us. The pain was too great, and I had to say something. End result, I hobbled around for the rest of our walk (luckily, Lucy got cranky and we didn't stay too much longer) wearing M.'s sweaty socks to lessen the pain. I have never been so grossed out and humbled. It was such a relief to get home and get those shoes and socks off my feet.

Before he offered up his own socks, M. did mention that he had packed a pair of socks for Finn (who was also wearing new sandals) in case he got blisters. I'm not sure what exactly he thought I was going to do with size 2T-3T socks - apply them to my feet as a bandage??

Regardless, the take home message, in my eyes, is that each diaper bag is now going to get stocked with a healthy stash of band-aids. Beauty is pain!

Pictures to come, I promise! Just need to clear some room on this computer first.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Two Month Stats

Lucy had her two month doctor's appointment yesterday. They kept us waiting so long that my overtired girl was already crying before they even came near her with a needle.

As predicted, she's a heavy weight - 12 lbs, 6 oz (90th percentile), 23 and a quarter inches (75th percentile) long. Her head is also 75th percentile.

This is a quick post as baby girl is screaming for some attention. More later!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Take Two

M. is out of town on his second business trip since Lucy arrived. As the days and hours approaching his departure slipped by, I found myself growing more and more anxious, remembering with no fondness the late nights holding a screaming, inconsolable baby that I experienced during his first trip. My fears of a repeat are so far proving unfounded, however, and 21 hours into his trip I must say that things are going pretty well. What a difference it makes to have a baby NOT suffering from reflux symptoms, I guess.

Granted, it is early days yet - M. does not return until Thursday evening. But his parents arrive for a visit tomorrow afternoon, so help is on the way should I need it. Only about 30 more hours on my own to go.

A brief rundown for posterity's sake (I am constantly trying to remember how I did things with Finn when he was a baby, and wish I had kept this blog then - like, when exactly did we switch him to a two-nap-a-day schedule? I'm so over this 4-nap-a-day thing that we're currently dealing with) about how I handled bedtime last night:

6:00 pm - Finn and I ate dinner while I held a fussy, overtired Lucy.

6:15 pm - After much begging, I allowed Finn a few minutes of outside playtime (Lucy in her sling) until the gnats chased us inside.

6:30 pm - I parked Finn in front of the Cars movie, and took Lucy upstairs to change her for bedtime. I brought her back downstairs and fed her on the couch while Finn continued to watch TV and play.

7:05 pm - I swaddled a sleepy Lucy, held her for a couple more minutes, and stuck her in her swing. I helped Finn pick up his toys, then corralled him upstairs to get ready for bed.

7:15 pm - Finn brushed his teeth, used the potty, and got into his PJ's. I read him two books and sang him his bedtime song. He resisted bedtime, told me he didn't like his big boy bed, etc, and I thought I was going to be in for a long night of listening to him call for me over the monitor.

7:55 pm - I left Finn's room. Lucy was stirring down in the swing. I started doing some quick chores in the kitchen, but when her noises became a bit more insistent I picked her up and walked around with her a bit. I eventually sat on the couch with her in my arms and read my book (The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory) for a bit. I heard one or two peeps out of Finn, but surprisingly, no adamant demands that I attend his whims.

8:30 pm - Carried Lucy up to her room and put her in her crib. Finished up my chores down in the kitchen.

8:45 pm - Both kids in bed and asleep, I watched a little TV down in the basement with a glass of wine (Perhaps the wine was pushing it, but it all worked out OK as Lucy didn't get up to eat until almost 4 am). I chatted with Stacey and M., and headed up to bed myself at around 9:45.

The morning went pretty smoothly, too. I didn't get Finn in to daycare until after 8 am, but that's not a bad thing - it's because none of us got up very early (I was the first one up at around 6:35 am). Now I am sitting here, drinking some coffee while Irma cleans the house, listening to a previously sleeping Lucy poop in her swing. Good times.

Tomorrow, in addition to the arrival of M.'s parents, Lucy has her two month check-up. You know what that means - shots. And lots of them. Hopefully it also means a very sleepy baby afterwards. I'm prepared with my infant Tylenol, and I'm hoping she has no bad reactions. I'll update with her stats - it will be interesting to see just how big she's gotten!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Filling the Silence

Lucy's napping is still a bit erratic/non-existent, hence my absence. It's amazing how one little baby can suck up so much of your time! Lots to say, but no time to actually sit down and write a fully developed post on each idea. So, just to put something out there for the sake of updating (as I have been told by my grandmother that my blog stinks because I don't post enough), a few bullets:

- The last several days involved family, family and more family. Stacey and Cameron arrived on Friday. My brother Andrew, in the area for work, stopped by on Saturday afternoon for a bit. Kristin flew in Saturday night, Stacey and Cameron left Sunday morning, and I had Kristin and her BlackBerry for company until Tuesday afternoon (seriously, the girl works too much!). I must admit that once everyone was gone, the house seemed pretty quiet and lonely. I'm sure the rainy weather didn't help. I took some pictures, but better ones can be seen at Stacey's blog here. Her post is missing pics of Finn, though, so I will try to put up some recent ones soon.

- Stacey brought me the complete three seasons of Veronica Mars on DVD. I'm only 4 episodes in, and I'm already amazed that I somehow managed to miss this one when it was on the air. Fantastic show (and theme song)! I may have to re-watch with M. so that he can see it, too. Thanks to Stacey for filling some of my maternity leave TV boredom.

- I bought the Miracle Blanket because Lucy has been busting out of my swaddling jobs at night, and I think it's keeping her from sleeping longer stretches. The jury is still out on this one. Lucy seems to absolutely hate it - she fights against it constantly. But I did manage to get her to sleep the first night in it, and she slept one of her longest stretches yet. She will not nap in it (then again, she often just will not nap), and last night wasn't quite as successful - we couldn't get her to fall asleep until almost 11 pm (as opposed to her more typical 7:30/8:00-ish), and then she woke up again at 1:45. It may have been a $30 waste of money.

- M. is leaving for another work trip this coming Monday, and I've been slowly getting more and more anxious about it. Thankfully, we seem to have Lucy's reflux under control, so hopefully I won't have hours of crying from her while I'm on my own the way I did last time. But both kids have been going down for bed at around the same time, and I have no idea how to begin to come up with a plan to handle this by myself. Lucy often requires about an hour to get her down fully (change her, feed her, hold her upright a bit so she doesn't spit up all over the place, swaddle her, get her to fall asleep). Finn is high maintenance, too - he drags out story-time and bedtime singing to at least half an hour, and then he tends to have at least one (often more) episode of calling loudly for one of us to come rectify some trumped up problem or just cuddle with him before he'll fall asleep. And since his room is right next to Lucy's, we always give in and go up to him so that he won't wake his sister up. M. and I are usually both tied up with whatever kid we're in charge of each night for at least an hour. So my big problem is, which kid do I put down first, and what do I do with the other one in the meantime??? My head hurts just thinking about it.

- We tried switching Lucy to a generic version of her formula, because it's $11 cheaper per can. That could add up to crazy savings, right, since we go through over a can a week? Well, Lucy apparently has expensive tastes, because halfway through the switch she developed constipation and fussiness. So, we are back to the expensive name brand formula, and general brokeness :-).

- Speaking of brokeness, we don't actually know if we are, because M. and I are terrible at keeping a budget. With all the new expenses that come with adding kid #2 to the family (daycare, diapers, formula, reflux meds), we have no idea if what is coming in, income-wise, is greater than what is going out. So, we are going to take a stab (yet again) at keeping track of expenses/keeping a budget. Last time we tried this we used an Excel spreadsheet, and the downfall was that it was just too time consuming and detailed to maintain. I'm looking for something simpler this time, and I'd like to avoid software we have to buy (see above re: we may be broke). I'm planning on looking in to www.mint.com - anyone have experience with this site, or other recommendations?

That's enough of my jumbled thoughts for now!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I'd Sweep, But Who Would Hold the Baby?

SOMEONE has decided that napping is not something to be done in a crib (or a swing, for that matter; and let's not even talk about the carseat...) for any extended period of time. No, only a pair of arms will do. And that's only after crying hysterically for a few minutes to get the point across that she's REALLY TIRED, PEOPLE!! We're hoping it's a side effect of the growth spurt which will disappear (any day now?) when said spurt is over. If not, well, it's only 4 months or so until I'm comfortable going through some sleep training of the Cry-It-Out variety...

Anyway, I'd like to be all flexible and laid-back about sleep, one of those moms who just gets her child(ren) up from a failed nap with a cheerful smile and goes about her day. Unfortunately, even though my children (Finn was the same way for a long time, and even now occasionally pulls this kind of stuff with naps) don't seem to want to sleep for long periods of time, they get really upset about being awake. It's the whole "I'm really tired and want to sleep, but I just can't get there or stay there myself" problem. So we do what we can to make sure sleep is obtained, because otherwise, EVERYONE is miserable.

Actually, as I type this, Lucy is sleeping in the swing. She tried to wake up too early (less than an hour in) from her first nap, and miraculously, popping her in the swing while still swaddled has bought me a bit more blog-reading/typing and coffee-drinking time. She stirs, though, so I'm clearly on borrowed time here.

In other news, M. and I have hired a cleaning lady. The crumbs and dust bunnies and cat hair all mounted an attack, wore down our defenses, and forged a treaty that involves us shelling out $75 twice a month for someone else to clean up our messes. Though we cannot afford this luxury at all, it's the best money I've ever spent. Honestly, the cleaning just wasn't getting done. I could blame it on Lucy, but in reality we've struggled with this since Finn was born over two and a half years ago.

Though he voiced the idea first, M. then punted and put me in charge of finding a cleaning service. I called a couple of companies I found online to get estimates, all of which were gasp-inducing. I blame the extremely vertical layout of our house. It's not just a 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom townhouse. Those rooms are spread out over not the typical 3 floor layout, but instead FIVE floors (you'd think, after 2 years in this house, I'd have gluts of steel, but sadly I do not), with all the accompanying carpeted stairs you might expect. Whatever formula they use to calculate cleaning costs clearly equates my little house, which only technically has two teeny exterior walls of its own, with a mini-mansion of sorts.

Enter neighbor recommendations. Apparently, to my surprise, we are the only suckers that have been cleaning (or not cleaning, as the case may be) our own house. Just about all the neighbors we are friendly with pay for a cleaning service. That's how I found Irma - she cleans at least 2 other houses in my end of the neighborhood. She started yesterday, and I must say, the house has never looked better. It's due mostly to her cleaning skills (she was a tornado of cleaning for over 5 hours), but also partially to our mad scramble to declutter/pick up so that surfaces could be exposed for cleaning. Yes the confounding but age-old "cleaning before the cleaners come" conundrum.

This couldn't have come at a better time, as my sisters (one of whom is very jealous of my new cleaning lady, I'm sure) will be arriving this weekend, and M.'s parents are coming for a visit two weeks later. They can sleep safely on the pull-out couch or futon without fear of paralyzing cobwebs or sentient hair balls.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Battening Down the Hatches

I think we have come upon that phase that all newborn parents dread, the Six Week Growth Spurt. Finn's lasted about a week and a half, and left me scarred for life. I can remember on the last day of it, I held him, boobs aching, and cried "I don't know what you want from me!" As he cried too, of course. Then he fell asleep for 4 hours, I had one of the best naps of my maternity leave, and it was over. Just in time for me to go back to work.

Lucy will be six weeks tomorrow, so I have been antipicating with dread the onset of the SWGS. One clue that it was coming should have been the wonderful day we had on Tuesday. It was truly a great day, the kind of day I imagined they would all be like as I waddled my pregnant self around work and thought about how much better my second maternity leave would be now that I'm An Experienced Parent (Ha!). Lucy and I got on fabulously. She ate well, and slept at all the expected times. We had some really fun "play" time, and there was barely any crying. Even once Finn was home, peace reigned, everyone was happy, and dinner was prepped on time. I actually thought I was getting the hang of things, finally.

The day that Finn's SWGS started, he was exactly 6 weeks old, and we took him in to my work to show him off. M. was home that day so that I could go to my post partum check-up. It was a nice day, and as we walked around our neighborhood late in the afternoon, we actually had a conversation for the first time that didn't focus on the prospect of Finn being an only child. We vocalized thoughts that parenting was actually pretty fun, and maybe we could do this again sometime so that Finn could have a sibling. Clearly the powers-that-be didn't want us to be comfortable in our roles as parents just yet, because that night all hell broke loose. I don't even really remember the details of it, my memory has failed me, probably as a survival tactic. But I do know that I have never been so sleep deprived for so long in my life.

So clearly, the powers-that-be again don't want me getting to comfortable as a parent of two, and I think we are entering this dreaded phase. Clues to support this theory:

- As mentioned, had a really great day this week, enjoyed being home with Lucy immensely
- Am planning to visit my work today to show Lucy off (weird coincidence?)
- Lucy decided on Wednesday evening that 4 ounces will no longer satisfy her, she now needs to eat at least 5. And she's not going any longer between feedings to compensate
- Starting yesterday afternoon, she became impossible to get to sleep. Not fussy, just wide awake. It took M. and I (mostly M., he was great) 2 and a half hours and some serious exercise ball-bouncing to get Lucy to sleep last night. Naps were limited to about 30 minutes each.

Lucy already seems so big to us (compared to Finn at that age), M. and I are predicting that she'll be wearing 2T by the end of the summer if this keeps up :-). I just hope for 3 things: 1) Having gone through this before, hopefully we can muster through with more patience and fortitude than we did with Finn (sorry, kiddo, we made lots of mistakes with you!); 2) I hope Lucy's SWGS is shorter than Finn's. I haven't blogged about this because I don't want to bore you AND it upsets me, but Lucy is no longer breastfeeding at all, and she's not even getting any pumped milk. The up side to that is that I know exactly how much food she eats at a sitting, and she doesn't have to grow like crazy with only the aid of my crappy milk supply - poor Finn had only my boobs, and that's probably why he needed 10 days to get throught he growth spurt. So maybe we can get through this with less collateral damage... 3)And if the SWGS can't be short, I at least hope it's over before my sister Stacey and her daughter Cameron arrive next Friday.

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Lighter Post

M. says my last few posts have been too serious/complain-y, so I'm going to lay off the kid issues at least for today (it helps that both kids are doing very well today, and Finn is back at daycare).

I can't avoid some complaining, though - in this case, with regard to the quality of daytime television. Can't TV programmers have a little sympathy for me and my fellow "temporarily not working" peers? I don't have a long standing relationship with a daytime soap opera (once upon a time, in middle school, I was a General Hospital/One Life to Live fan, and I could probably pick out many of the characters to this day since they never change/always come back, but that was a long time ago and I'm really not interested anymore). I can't stand shows like Dr. Phil, Tyra Banks, etc (even, gasp, Oprah! The one exception is Ellen - she is hilarious - but I always seem to miss her show somehow). I can't even watch the last hour of the Today show (way too much fluff). I adore HGTV, but they don't air my favorite shows during the day. Instead of House Hunters or Designed to Sell, I'm stuck with Decorating Cents and Designer's Challenge - blech. Now that I no longer have time to cook, I just can't sit through hours of the Food Network the way I used to (so sad, because I really, really enjoyed that stuff once upon a time, i.e. pre-kids). Having just gone through childbirth, I really can't sit through shows like Birth Day, Bringing Home Baby, Adoption Stories, etc - the norm of channels like TLC and Discovery Health during the day. I get bored out of my mind, but I also cry every time the baby is born or the parents meet their to-be-adopted child for the first time (I'm such a sucker), two reasons not to watch.

One day USA aired a House marathon, a show I had never really watched before. I discovered I really like it, and I was in good company that day through a few feedings and several loads of laundry. But the experience has not been repeated - USA has stuck to other shows like Law and Order or one of the CSI's every day since. I also find that I (**blush**) enjoy Tori Spelling's reality show - she and Dean are actually a pretty funny and cute couple. But I have already seen all the re-runs, apparently, as every time I flip by it's an episode I recognize.

What's a gal to do? I could try to get House on Netflix, but we signed up for the cheapest plan available to save money, and only get 2 DVDs a month. What I really want is some intelligent, funny programming that I can watch regardless of where I come in during the episode. Less reality TV (is that heresy?). Anyone else frustrated with a lack of quality television programming while on maternity leave?

Lest you think me awful and lazy, let me also say that I do get out of the house - I try to run errands and go on a walk every day. But with the summer heat coming on, there is a limit to how much outside stuff I can do with an infant. I also have books to read, and I am currently working my way through the "Wicked" sequel, "Son of a Witch" (so far I really like it).

OK, non-kid-related complaining over. Now is time for the cute kid photos:

First trip of the summer to the neighborhood pool

Just adorable, right? Even with croup, the kid is a sight for sore eyes!

Putting his new dump truck to good use as a shoe organizer

Modeling the sweater made by great-grandmother Mimi

Smiling for Mommy

Monday, June 1, 2009

First One Thing, Then Another

Lucy seems to be doing a bit better on the reflux meds. She actually slept from 8:30 pm until about 3:00 am last night. We are still working on the pooping issue (switching her formula AGAIN), but she is less fussy and a bit more comfortable with just the addition of Pre.vacid.

Finn is decidedly less comfortable, unfortunately. Because he somehow contracted croup. Aargh. He has been miserable and waking up quite a bit at night. It has also been really hard to keep him away from Lucy - he doesn't understand why he can't touch her and kiss her right now. Saturday night he woke up at around 9:30 with a coughing fit, and couldn't breathe. It was actually pretty scary for M. and me. He woke up off and on all night long, shaking with fever and coughing uncontrollably. We've been doping him with pain relievers, and he has been on a steroid medication for a day and a half now to help open his airways. He is doing better, and will hopefully (I fervently hope!) be going back to daycare tomorrow. But he is still unbelievably whiny and clingy. My first foray into having both kids home with me all day has been more than a little trying, and we still have at least 4 more hours to go until M. gets home. I'm trying to have patience, but it doesn't help that at soon as I got the second child (Lucy) down for an afternoon nap, her older brother woke up not 10 minutes later. This happens often on the weekends, too - it seems like the two of them have some kind of sensor that goes off whenever the house is temporarily a quiet, adult-only zone.

In other news, Lucy starting giving us real, actual smiles on Saturday, of the social variety. Not the "oh my, I just farted or had a fleeting pleasant thought" variety, the "Mommy is smiling at me and talking to me so I must smile back" variety. I am terrible at record-keeping for my kids (Finn's baby book consists of a piece of printer paper with a list of dates and milestones on it), so let this blog show that at 5 weeks old, Lucy began smiling. For real. And it's adorable. She is also starting to explore her tongue, but it's more lizard-like than cute at this point so I won't gush on and on about it.

How do stay at home moms do it? We're already, shamefully, on about hour #5 of television, today, had a trip to Target, and about 40 minutes of playground play. How do you entertain two kids of vastly different ages and developmental stages, both of whom (one due to age and the other due to illness) want you to hold them all the time? And how do you get them to nap at the same time??

Lucy crying, must go!