Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stay-at-home Moms and Working Moms, Part II: Our Story

Although you can't tell by looking at the empty comments section, a lot of wonderful moms have given me a ton of great input and advice to my burning questions on whether and when to be a SAHM.

Thanks to you all, I now have a butt-load of interesting research papers and website resources I can read about early childhood development--and best of all, some fun momversations about your own experiences.

So in the spirit of community and sharing, here's our story so far.

When Judah was born, I was looking forward to the 6 months of maternity leave I would take with him.  I imagined sunlit days filled with knitting and crafting while my sweet infant napped for the majority of my waking hours.  I even started researching local sewing classes, thinking it would be the perfect time to indulge my lifelong inner sewing-bug.

And then came the colick.  The amazing rivers of milk that spewed out of him every feeding due to his acid reflux.  And his inability to nap unless I was bouncing him entirely vertically in the infant carrier.  And his hatred of being put down.  Even for a minute.

During months 0-3 Judah was basically held every minute of every day.  Gone were my coveted 'nap breaks' as I spent every moment of his naptime in front of the TV, on a bouncy ball, with my baby vertically strapped to my body.  Eight long hours a day he napped like this.  Eight.  Long.  Hours.

Things got slightly better after the 3 month mark, but Judah was never a good napper.  And he was never good at just chilling out.  He wanted and demanded attention.  Constant attention.  Change of scenery.  Things to look at, things to put in his mouth.  New things.  More!  Newer!  More interesting things!  His appetite for novelty was insatiable.

It's no wonder one of his first words, around 6 months, was "Dat!" (translation: Show me that!  I want that!  What's that?!)  He used this word liberally, probably every 5 minutes, to get us to bring him all kinds of stuff, both high and low.

So yeah.  My happy vision of a relaxing maternity leave was dashed to pieces by this active, curious guy who demanded everything all the time.  I started to get seriously exhausted, and even depressed, trying to keep up with him.  I also started looking around enviously at other babies in my playgroups.  Not a single baby was even close to the high-activity high-need level of Judah.  Many were content to just peacefully sit on a blanket, gnawing away at Sophie the giraffe for 20 minutes.  Amazing.

At this point, you'd think I'd be chomping at the bit to go back to work.  On some level, I'm sure I was.  But on a more immediate and visceral level, I really didn't want to leave my baby.  I had a wierd stockholm syndrome addiction to him.  Maybe it's hormonal.  Maybe it's hard-wired.  I don't know.  I just felt incredibly sad as my work start-date loomed in front me.

I felt sad buying a breast pump.  I felt sad scanning craigslist for nannies.  I felt sad imagining long days without my little guy.  I felt so sad, in fact, that I don't think I would've gone back to work, had it not been for my sister-in-law.  She generously offered to live with us and watch Judah for the first 3 months of my return to work, and thereby solved my problem of being completely unmotivated to do a full-scale nanny search. 

You know how there are some critical moments that change your life forever?  This was definitely one of them.  If Judah's aunt hadn't stepped in at that exact moment, things would've turned out very differently for us (and likely very much for the worse).

Because as soon as I forced myself to 'detach' from Judah and go back to work, life became amazingly better.  First, I started to feel like a human being again.  The first day I actually sat still for 10 minutes.  Ten whole peaceful minutes!  I had adult conversations that were not interrupted every 5 seconds AND had nothing to do with babies.  I ate lunch at a normal human's pace--not scarfing it down in the 2 minutes I had before the baby would wake up from his nap.  And best of all, I peed.  Freely.  Without rushing.  Without holding it in until I thought I would burst.  I took my time washing my hands and luxuriating in a slow, gentle application of scented moisturizer afterwards.  Aaaaaah.  Lavendar, chamomile.  Serenity.

Second, I realized Judah was fine without me.  He was not bawling his eyes out, searching desperately for his momma.  He was happy, loved, entertained, stimulated, and totally well-cared for by his very attentive and intelligent auntie.  He never had it so good.

We were fine, he and I.  We were better than fine.  We were thriving!  I started looking forward to work.  I even looked forward to pumping at work.  I loved that quiet 20 minutes of peaceful break while I read fun novels.  My office was my sanctuary.  My sanity.  My space.  Aaaaah, space.

I should also mention at this point, that my joy of working was in no small part due to my 60% part-time schedule.  My very understanding firm and boss generously allowed me to ramp-up slowly and just get my itty-bitty feet wet while I adjusted again to civilian life.  If I had to jump right back in at full-speed, I really don't think I could've done it.  That's just way too much 'detachment' for me.

So things were working out swimmingly, but, sadly, we knew this state of bliss would only last for so long.  Judah's auntie was leaving us in a few months and work was getting progressively more demanding.

And this post is now way too long.

Stay tuned for Part II of Part II: Our Story: Trouble in Paradise.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Easy (Vocal) Rider

A few weeks ago, we were in the throes of Epic Family Illness 2012 and Judah had to go to the doctors' for an eye infection.  The upside?  The doctor gave us some impromptu observations on Judah's personality.

While he poked and prodded Judah amidst Judah's loud protests, he noted that Judah was an extremely vocal baby.  Um yeah, I coulda' told you that.  Judah has been "vocal" from day one--and by vocal, I mean constantly, CONSTANTLY, fussing, whining, and crying about something.

But after the poking and prodding was over, Judah happily played with the doctor and flashed him his signature mega-watt smile.  The doctor said this is a sign of being quick-to-forgive.  Judah does not hold grudges, apparently, not even for a minute.

While most babies would be wary of the 'mean' doctor that poked him/her during the rest of the visitation, Judah has no such reservations.  As soon as the discomfort is over, all is forgiven and everyone is a friend again.  I wonder where/who Judah gets his easy disposition from?

Or maybe he just inherited my extremely short memory!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Did You Really Poop?

Recently, Judah's been vocal about his poop.

At first, the spouse and I were really excited that Judah might be ready for potty-training.  He would point to his butt and say "poo-poo", and we'd check and sure enough, there was poop!

But after a week of accurate forecasts, Judah started to say "poo-poo" when he didn't have any.  I think it's kind of a game to him now.  He thinks its funny when we check his diapers and say "no you don't Judah, you don't have any poo-poo!"

So now he's full of misdirection.  He'll say "poo-poo!" and then I'll say "really?"  and he'll say "no!" as he giggles wildly and repeats this about three times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stay-at-Home Moms and Working Moms

I've been meaning to write about this topic for a long time, but I've been avoiding it as it just seems so rife with controversy. And yet, it's one of the most helpful and illumniating discussions I think any new mom could possibly have.

I for one, searched high and low for any advice/research on this with very little to show for it. During my maternity leave, I contemplated not going back to work and tried to find advice indicating either way, whether I should or not. I don't have the financial resources to not work for the rest of my kid's childhood, but I can for a period, and I wanted to make sure I stayed home during the most "crucial" period, if that makes any sense.

Frankly, I never realized I would even have this 'conversation' in my head about whether to stay at home or not. My mom always worked a full-time job outside of the home and that's what I considered to be totally normal and what I would obviously do too. But now that I have Judah, I wonder...I wonder what's best for him?

I'm happy to work. I'm happy to stay home with him if it would truly benefit him. I'm NOT happy to stay home with him if it doesn't really benefit him that much because in order to stay home, I'm giving up (a) a lot of sanity and (b) a whole lot of financial stability.

So I wanted (and still want) to know--does the kid need you most as a baby? As a toddler? As a young child? When is the really crucial, counts-a-lot period?

I was really disappointed in the dirth of data out there. I thought I could just google "child development, stay at home" and good stuff would come out. Turns out, this is a highly explosive super-charged politically nuclear topic that is far from cut and dry.

I hate how the media turns everything into a cat fight. I've found that in real life, women on both sides of the spectrum are truly compassionate and generous to each other.

Being a mom is the most challenging, heart-rending, brain-bending, back-breaking work possible and real moms know this and are incredibly supportive of other moms--on both sides of the aisle.

So if you have any views on this, you're a seasoned mom (read: anyone with a kid older than mine--18 mo) I'd love to get your perspective on child-development/attachment/bonding/etc.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Language Learner

Well, Judah's officially hit his "language explosion."

For the last couple weeks, he's been talking and repeating words with ever increasing frequency. And now the dude is unstoppable.

We can't read a single page of his books without him chiming in or acting out something. If Big Dog and Little Dog are going for a walk, Judah has to demonstrate "walking" with hand motions. If one fish has a car, Judah has to say "cah! cah!" You get the idea.

Everything I say is greeted with a "yeah", "no" or "ah-kay"...or more accurately "yeah...no!" because Judah likes to say yes to everything, but takes a second to realize he really meant no.

One thing I've been feeling really guilty about is not teaching him any mandarin. At first, I didn't introduce it to him because he was already learning English and Spanish and I just didn't want to retard his language acquisition by adding in yet another language. And now that he's firmly in language-land, it feels like I've missed the boat.

His Spanish and English comprehension is so good now (His nanny can give him a series of unrelated commands in Spanish--Judah, throw your diaper in the trash and put your wipes back in the box--and he does it all with full comprehension)--I feel like the few, broken mandarin phrases I know is just too pathetic for him now.

I don't have confidence that my mandarin skills are good enough to make it worth Judah's while at this point...if that makes any sense. As the spouse says, if I'm not going to immerse him in total mandarin for at least 2 hours a day, it's not even worth beginning.  And then part me wonders if learning mandarin is really necessary at all--what's the point?  Is it just a "nice to have"?


I guess I'll just have to wait to enroll him in some kind of mandarin preschool program later on...if I still care at that point.

Here Judah enjoys pulling his pet frog and saying "fro! fro!" Thanks Peg for the "fro"!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Cognitive Explosion Continues

Judah did 3 things yesterday that blew my mind.

First, he conversed with his nanny in this exact way before my wide eyes:

Nanny:  Judah, a donde fuimos hoy?  (translation: Judah, where did we go today?)

Judah: Pa---parque (that's Spanish for park)

Nanny:  Con quien fuimos?  (translation:  Who did we go with?)

Judah: Landon! (that's his toddler friend)

This totally blew my mind because (a) it was entirely true and accurate and (b) it was in the freaking past tense, as the convo took place in our home.  My baby can talk about past events!!!!  WHAT?!?!


Second, he saw his dad pull up in the car and ran to him and gave him a big smile/giggle, hug and kiss.  That's not that remarkable in terms of development cuz he's done all that before.  But it was just so unbelievably sweet.


Third, all on his own, without any prompting from me, he played "cooking" with my utensils and little frying pans.  He went to the utensils drawer and pulled out a spatula.  He made cooking motions with it in the frying pan and then pretended to eat from it and offered it to me to taste as well.  He did this also with some wooden spoons and ladles.  I mean, yeah of course he's seen me cook before, but whatever gave him the notion to fake-cook and fake-eat?

I've never seen him use his imagination like this.  He can play pretend!!!


In short, Judah is officially not a baby anymore.

Croc Monsieur

If I give Judah free reign to wander around Target, he inevitably heads for the shoe section.

This guy LOVES shoes. He grabs baby-sized pairs and "requests" that I put them on him. Some are brown, some are tennis shoes, and some are hot pink strappy sandals with flowers on them.

Well, the other day he saw a pair of crocs and got really excited about them. I've been looking for some sockless shoes for him anyway, so I decided what the heck, why not. Also, I just think they're so darn cute.

Now they're his favorite pair. He calls them 'croc' and does his crocodile-mouth-snapping-shut hand motion when he says the word.

But what's really remarkable is that he also knows what a real croc is too because he'll point to pictures of them and performs the same actions.  I hope I'm not confusing the poor guy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


Don't call it a comeback.

Call it a revolution in the works.

That's right people, my life (and hopefully the life of my family) is about to drastically change for the better. How you may ask? Through the power of juice.

No, not steriods, a la major league baseball. Just good ol' fashioned fruit and nasty veggies.

That's right. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired. After having my entire family's health collapse for the better part of this entire winter season, I feel like things have GOT to change.

So I'm jumping on the juice wagon. Gettin' my juice on. Lettin' the juice loose. Ridin' that juice caboose all the way to Amazing-Healthville, if you will.

This is big news for me because I am not a woman of action. I'm like the farthest you can get from being a woman in action. I make passive people look like hummingbirds with my amazing capacity for doing absolutely nothing for a very long time. Let's just say I will leave a dirty plate on my desk for weeks, nay, months. And when I discover my used tupperware in my old lunchbags, there are always impressive mold colonies thriving in them.

So, for me to take the initiative, figure out what kind of juicer to buy, look up juicing recipes, buy the vegetables, cut and prepare them, AND finally make the juice, all by my little self? It's huge people. Truly. I think the endtimes might be near.

Today, these are the things I blended to begin my journey toward superhuman health.

It doesn't look appetizing, but it actually went down pretty smooth.

Anywho, I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I'll peter out. Get lazy. Taper off. Or maybe I'll report that I've never felt this alert and alive since...ever!

Funny to think that it all started by seeing a Williams Sonoma ad featuring Joe Cross and his juicing gospel (yes, fate choose his name well). Joe made a documentary of his life called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" about how juicing basically saved his horrible health. So thank you Joe and Williams Sonoma ad people.

Bottom's up!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Sickness and In Health, but mostly in Sickness

Happy Valentine's Day!

I feel like sh*t.

For the third time this month I've come down with a nasty cold.  I haven't gone to sleep without sucking on a lozenge all night long for 3 weeks straight.  I think my teeth are going to rot.

I no longer remember how to live without hacking fits every 5 minutes.  Or what a good solid night of sleep feels like.  Last night I had 2 measly hours of shut-eye as I sweated through my blankets and coughed my lungs out.  The skin under my nose feels like raw hamburger meat.

The 2 valentines in my life have been alternately giving and receiving germs to and from me all month long.  So valentine, schmalentine.

Love is someone bringing you tylenol, taking you to the doctor, getting your prescription at the pharmacy, listening (with genuine sympathy) to you complain for the 78th time that you can't breathe, and neverminding that you look like total crap.

Sorry idealistic young lovers, but Hollywood is steering you wrong.

Sweat pants and nasal decongestants. 

That is what it's all about.

Monday, February 13, 2012

There's that blog list again...

Yay!  I finally took the time to figure out how to add a blog list to my blog.  Man, I'm such a procrastinator.

You know, I really love reading other people's blogs, but sadly people don't really blog much anymore.  It used to be all the rage in 2005, but now, not so much.  It's time I branch out and look for new, fresh blogs that are still active.  What blogs do people like out there?

In other news, today is Judah's 18 month old birthday.  Why does 6 months feel like an entire year?  Because the boy is waaaaay too active. Even with a fever and eye-infection (as pictured here) he can't stop exploring.

Happy Half-Birthday to my wiggly, squiggly, button-pushing, squawking, walking, busy-bee! Heaven help your poor, tired mother as you enter the thick of the toddler years!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Losing My Crackers

While I run the water for Judah's bath, he likes to throw in a few special ingredients of his own.

He runs to his room and grabs his drumsticks and throws them into the water.  And then he goes back to get his Bob the Builder and throws him in.  And then all his animal figurines from his Noah's ark toy.

Today, I stupidly let him run around with a bag of graham crackers while I filled up his bathtub.  I turned around and wouldn't you know it--Judah had dumped the entire bag of crackers into his tub.  I screamed.  I groaned.  I cursed (thankful that Judah could not yet repeat it).

It was the last straw to an already exhausting and frustrating day.  Since 7am in the morning, everything has been greeted with fussing and whining.  Judah, let's change your diapers--waaaah!  Judah, let's get dressed--waaaah!  Judah, eat some breakfast--Judah throws everything on the floor.  You get the idea.

On top of all that, he's been wanting to nurse non-stop.  All. Day. Long.  Seriously, he nurses more than a 3 month old.  Probably because he was just diagnosed with an ear infection, poor guy, and isn't feeling great.  But nursing him is no easy feat.  First, he needs a thousand conditions to be perfect.  He asks for his blanket, and then a book of his choice (yeah, who needs to hold a book while nursing, sheesh!), and just when we're all settled in he shouts "Other!", which means it's time to switch him to the other side and readjust everything all over again.  Frankly, he shouts "Other!" every 20 seconds.  I'm not exaggerating.

And the cherry on top is that I'm sick.  Again.  For the 3rd time in as many weeks.  ARGH.

So at the end of a loooooooooooong day of whining and nursing, I saw those soggy crackers sink to the bottom of his tub and completely lost it.  I screamed.  He screamed.  I screamed back.

Thankfully spouse removed the child from the bathroom while I removed the crackers.  Without the spouse intervening, I don't know what I would've done!

Once again, I don't know how single parents do it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Number One Fan

Recently we went to a park near a soccer field and Judah, as obsessed with balls as always, was in heaven.  I love how these shots make Judah look like such an avid soccer fan.

In this pic he's thinking--Over there in the back, he's wide open!  Pass it!

Oh man, so close. Would've been an amazing goal.

What coach? There's a player out? You need someone to step in from the sidelines?

I'm so there! Uhhhhh...if only my mom would stop holding me back! Uhhhh!

It was good practice for my future as a soccer mom.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Judah's Expressions

Judah got to dabble in some finger paints at our wonderful neighbor's house.

I love that you can actually see his fingerprints at the bottom left-hand corner in the picture below.

Lately Judah's gone through a cognitive explosion--repeating tons of words and answering every question with "Yeah." Seriously, he says yeah maybe 300x a day.  To everything.  For example:

Me: Judah, did you go to Habitot today?

Judah: Yeah!

Me: Or did you go to the park?

Judah: Yeah.

Me: Which one is it?

Judah: Yeah.

Among the list of new words Judah knows are the following:
--Croc (he puts his hands together like a big jaw shutting and also point to his croc shoes)
--Snake (he puts his hands together and slithers them while saying 'ssssss')
--Bible (he loves his baby board book Bible)
--Blanket (he says 'buh-tuh')
--Up (and down is 'dup')
--Out (except he says 'ouk')
--Potato (except he says 'puh-tuh-tuh')
--Other (this he says with crystal clarity as he demands to nurse on the other side)
--Train (he says 'choo choo')
--Cheddar (he says 'che-che-che')
--Home (sounds like 'ohm-ma')
--Bucket (surprisingly clear)
--Juice (sounds like 'jhuuu')
--No more (actually he's saying it in Spanish--no mas, and sounds like 'no ma')
And my favorite:
--Judah (sounds like 'dhu-dhu-dah')

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Girl Stuff

This is what happens when your best friend is a girl.

Judah doesn't seem to care if things are pink and purple with princesses all over. He's also happy to be busy in the kitchen doing "women's work."

He also loves trying on sweet little mary janes with flowers on them. Wish I had gotten a picture of that!  Speaking of kodak moments, this pic was taken just a split-second too late--after Judah planted a big smooch on his sweet friend.

Oh how mommy loves gathering incriminating photos of her sweet boy. All the better the blackmail him as a teenager.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Major Pain and General Fustard

Lest I paint too rosy a picture of life with Judah, here are a list of our major daily problems.  Roll 'em!

--Judah fights every diaper change.  EVERY FREAKING DIAPER CHANGE.  He's been doing this for a while, but he's stronger, faster, and harder to distract now.  Must I continue to look for mind-blowing objects in order to do a 60 second exchange?  Come on now!

--Judah fights putting on shirts and getting dressed in general, but especially shirts.  The boy loves to bare his chest and hates covering up.  What can I say?  Every time I slip a shirt over his head--WAAAAAAAAAH!

--He won't stop throwing food on the floor and/or spitting food out onto the floor.  He knows its wrong because I tell him 'no!' and slap his little hand.  He looks at me right before he does it--sometimes teasing me by dangling it over the edge in anticipation.  I don't think it's quite time for heavy-duty disciplining...but it sure is getting close!

--And the naps.  Oh the naps.  Or lack thereof.  He will fight. It. To. The. Death.  I once battled him for 90 minutes to get him to go down.  He screamed at the top of his lungs for pretty much the entire 90 minutes, wailing, standing up in his crib, screaming.  The boy only naps with his nanny.  And even then, he wakes up every 30 minutes and needs to be carefully assisted back to sleep--just the right amount of holding him, patting his back, fervent prayer, etc.

Wait, I just realized this list basically comprises the entire day--diaper changes, feedings, and naps.  No wonder I feel like I've fought a war at the end of every day!

Reaching for the Moon

A few weeks back we visited our local Gymboree, which is basically a gym class for babies. The leader did a fantastic job guiding the 6-7 toddlers around giant obstacle courses and singing group songs.

Judah, however, could care less about the group activities.

He was busy engaging in his life-long obsession with balls of all shapes and sizes. He would not stop picking up balls from a huge bucket full of them and was thrilled when he encountered this mini-basketball hoop.

He had seen basketball hoops before at the park and had always wanted to shoot a ball through them (but obviously couldn't!). So this mini-hoop was, quite frankly, his idea of paradise.

Just yesterday, I showed Judah the bright full moon in the sky and told him it was like a big ball of light.  He started saying 'ball', pointing to the moon and tried to grab it.

I told him that's a ball even mommy can't get for you.  He jumped a few more times with his arms high overhead, trying again.  Part of me melts whenever I think of this.  Moon metaphors are so wonderfully sappy.  Judah, shoot for the moon son.  Mommy loves you to the moon and back.

And part of me marvels how 18 month olds are so lacking in perspective.  Is his depth perception so bad that the moon isn't obviously out of reach?  But come to think of it, I think I'd much rather adopt his view.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

This week, we have been completely wiped out.

Judah had the sniffles and an eye-infection. I'm fairly certain he passed his virus onto me which took me out of commission, and I passed it onto the spouse. The poor spouse took it the worst and was bedridden for a couple days--literally, couldn't get out of bed.

I know toddlers are supposed to get sick all the time as they share germs with their little friends, but I didn't realize this extended to their poor parents!

Here's a random pic of Judah's nightime reading ritual. Flu or no flu, he must have his nightly Dr. Seuss.