Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holidays Schmolidays

The only way to be happy in life, in my opinion, is to have low expectations.  The lower the better.  In that light, Christmas is always going to lose.

I mean, how can one day possibly live up to the mantle "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"?

In all fairness, we had a really great Christmas.

Twas the night before Christmas when all the gifts finally got wrapped!

Our friends and family overwhelmed us with love and cheer in the form of piles of awesome presents for the kids and these--my new favorite ornaments:

One of the sweetest, most thoughtful and most treasured presents we've ever gotten.

Everything about this picture says we are blessed beyond measure.

Got to love Judah's perfunctory smile--let's get this over with so I can open gifts!

And yet...

And yet, Christmas was a let down.  It just couldn't, once again, live up to its own hype.  I don't really know what I was expecting...unicorns pooping out rainbows (or maybe more appropriately, flying reindeer pooping out candy canes)?

It's just that Christmas promises so much warmth, so much cheer, so much...magic.  But in the end, it was really just a regular day.  Actually, worse than a regular day--no stores or restaurants were open to offer us some easy diversion.

As for the kids, Judah had fun opening about 3 gifts before his eyes glazed over from over-stimulation.  We actually had to save the rest for another day since it was clear he was way too overwhelmed to appreciate any more.

Judah, before his eyes glazed over from too much awesome.

Noah, on the other hand, decided to continue his napping-strike.  The whole day was soured by his grumpiness and the 45+ minutes of soul-shattering wailing he emitted while being nap-trained.  The dude is just too alert now to be surreptitiously put down in his crib.  Argh.

Hey Santa Baby, why don't you give yourself the gift of sleep, huh?

All I can say is thank the newborn baby Jesus that we live in sunny California where we can always go outside, even in the dead of winter.  And that is just what we did.

Christmas in July?  Nope, just Christmas in paradise, i.e., California.

On our hike we met quite a few other people who must have been just as desperate to get out of the house, but man were they cranky.  I said hello to a few passersby and every single one of them gave me a frown.  So much for that Christmas cheer.

And the whole day I couldn't for the life of me find my ipod charger to play some Christmas music.

A day without music, without kindness from strangers, and without naps.  Bah humbug!

At the very least, I thought the spouse and I would have some meaningful conversations after we put the kids to bed.  Talking about Christmas, about the paradox of an incarnate deity, about family traditions...  But nope, we were both so completely wiped out, we just popped in a DVD about the corrupt underhanded politics of Washington (House of Cards).

Maybe I should just tell myself to lower my expectations for next year.  But I know I can't and I won't.  I've told myself to do just that every year for at least a decade.  And here's proof.  But come the first of December my hopes can't help but rise.  And then come the twenty-fifth of December, they can't help but be dashed.

At least next year I'm going to find that darn ipod charger ahead of time and watch my hopes go up in smoke with awesome Christmas music in the background!

Take that, Scrooge!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tweet My Blog

Oh the holidays.  Fun, fast and furious.  No time to write much so here's some slices of life in 140 characters or so...

Judah loves "helping" me bake.  This kid is a dentist's dream--addicted to sugar and prone to cavities thanks to his dad's horrible teeth-genes.

We continue to be sleep-deprived.  Sure things aren't as bad as when Noah was 3 weeks old.  But sleep is still the hottest commodity in this house.

We got Judah "Where's Waldo" in the hopes that he would entertain himself for hours on end searching for him.  Worked for about 5 minutes.  Put that on the fail list.

This is how Noah reads a book.  We feel guilty because Judah could sit through multiple readings of this same book when he was Noah's age.  Oh well, at least one of our kids will go to college.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Brother Wars

Yesterday Judah asked me again, point blank, "Mommy, who do you love more--me or Noah?"

I was sorely tempted to say, "You Judah!" because (a) Noah is too young to know what we're talking about and (b) if I don't say "Judah," he has a total meltdown.

Mommy loves you both the same--but sometimes she fudges it for the sake of peace.
(Photo credit:

Almost an entire year after Noah intruded on the scene, Judah is still very not okay with sharing his mommy (or anything else for that matter).  In fact, instead of being more accepting, Judah seems to be getting more jealous and begrudging.

Now that Noah is more than just an immobile blob that stays in his bouncey seat, conflict between the boys has peaked to new levels.

"Noah's messing up my spaceship!"
"No Noah!  Go away!"
"You can't play with that Noah!"

These are the constant refrains ringing in my ears when I leave the two kids to "play" together.  Noah also apparently has the Midas touch.  Any object he touches--no matter how old or ratty or previously ignored by Judah--immediately skyrockets in value and must be snatched away by Judah.

Noah is by and large unfazed by his brother's obnoxious behavior.  He doesn't cry when toys are ripped out of his chubby hand.  He doesn't flinch when Judah gets right in front of his face and yells at him.  He doesn't even cry when he's pushed down or dragged away (unless he's seriously hurt which happens on occasion).

But I am not unfazed.  I am very much fazed.  I do worry we are embarking on a new chapter, of which seasoned parents of siblings know all too well--the constant fighting, bickering, arguing, and not sharing phase of our lives.

The one in which at some point, someone will be complaining often that "He's breathing near me!" and masking tape will divide everything from the playroom to the inside of the car.

It's Just the Wind

I don't have a lot of time to write, but I have to record this for posterity.

Judah is now literally afraid of the wind.  Yes, the wind.

I mean, seriously?!  Can phobias get more ridiculous than this?!

Admittedly a couple weeks ago it was pretty gusty, but it's not like any tree branches fell.  But ever since then, the slightest breeze stirring a leaf sends him panting in fear.  I'm trying to be patient but seriously, CAN YOU GET A GRIP AND JUST CHILL OUT?  It's a BREEZE for Pete's sake!

Thursday, December 05, 2013

My All

Often people ask me what it's like being a mom (stay-at-home or otherwise).

I usually have about 0.56 seconds to respond before a little person starts whining or fussing so I quickly sum it up as "Exhausting!" with a sardonic smile.

But now I'm realizing that it's "exhausting" because of my own fault as much as it's because tiny people have so many incessant needs.  (That's a clunky sentence but hopefully it made sense.)  I'm realizing I'm a bit of a mommy martyr...okay, maybe more than just a bit.

It's just so hard not to give your all to your kids.  It just feels like such a natural impulse, probably cuz Nature starts you out on that path from womb day 1.

For the first 3 months of pregnancy, the little alien has invaded and is already calling all the shots.  No you may not eat, you must feel nauseous and dry heave now.  No you can't enjoy caffeine and alcohol like a normal person.  And don't even think about taking Sudafed if you have a cold.

Towards the end of pregnancy you can barely walk, barely roll over in bed, barely sit up or get up, and your internal organs are squished beyond imagination.  And that's all the easy part.

Next is labor.  Because I am a mommy martyr I tried my darndest to have a natural birth.  I can't just be a normal, reasonable mom and get a shot of that good ol' epidural.  No, I had to go and be a martyr, screaming and writhing in pain like Joan of Arc on the pyre.

And then the nursing.  A normal, reasonable mom would be fine with giving the baby a bottle after a couple days--that way mom can take a break and other people can help feed the baby every 2-3 hours, especially at night.  But nope, not martyr mom.  She has to follow the extreme advice of nursing nazis and not allow any bottle to touch her baby's lips for at least 4 weeks lest the baby experience nipple confusion and mess up the entire nursing relationship.  That's 4 weeks of sleeping in 30-45 min increments.  Yes, like what they did to detainees at Gitmo.

I don't particularly like nursing.  I find it inconvenient for many reasons--you sometimes get clogged ducts, you still can't enjoy lots of caffeine, alcohol and good cold meds, you still have to be the one waking up at night usually, you can't be away from your baby for too long, etc.  But I nursed Judah as long as possible and I'll probably nurse Noah long after his 1st birthday rolls around.  Why?  Yep, because I'm a martyr mom.  Because I read crunchy granola websites that tout the benefits of antibodies, micronutrients, pro- and prebiotics and other clinically unverified aspects of breastfeeding that supposedly continue until the child is well into toddlerhood.

And then there's the real endless crazy, the stuff that you can do indefinitely without end from age 0 to adulthood--stimulation and interaction.  When Judah was a baby, I allowed myself zero downtime when Judah was awake.  I had to stimulate my baby!  I had to read to him, label things, massage him, converse with him, interact with him, in short, develop him!  I spent hours each day 'developing' my baby.  Do you know how excruciatingly, mind-numbingly boring it is to 'talk' to a baby all day?  But of course I did it, I'm martyr mom.

How can I resist killing myself just a little more for these cute little faces?

Of course, as Judah grows up, there is no end to feeling like I could be doing more and better at developing him and helping him 'reach his full potential'.  There are hundreds of preschool classes, sports, arts, music, educational programs, as well as just good ol' reading books to the kid.

Phew, I'm feeling tired just writing about all this.  So I'll just wrap up by saying--there is never going to be a time when I feel like I've done enough.  There's always something.  Something to help your kid in some small way--to increase the chances or decrease the risks.  And that is at least half the reason why I'm exhausted.

My every instinct is to do as much as I can, endure as much as possible, find out I went past the breaking point when it's already too late and try to dial it down back to a saner level.  But unfortunately it often takes a very long time and a lot of personal wreckage to realize I've again gone too far.

It's hard to stop being a martyr mom.  And I've got the perpetual dark eyebags and flaccid muscle tone to prove it.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Battling the Blues

I need a gratitude dump right now.  Stat.

I've been feeling really blah and down lately.  I don't know if it's the cold weather or recent dip in sleep (insomnia mixed with a bedtime that creeps ever later) but I'm just one big puddle of blech.

So, here we go...grateful, grateful, grateful...

--So grateful for some ladies at my church who come and babysit for us on weekends.  Last week we had a blast with this lovely lady.  Thanks to her help, I was finally able to take the kids on a fun outing (there's no way I would brave handling 2 crazy/fussy kids by myself) which we haven't done in over 3 months!

Any place with kiddie trains is tops in Judah's book!

Yay for baby-sized carousel animals!

Judah, the other white meat.

--I'm grateful we found comic books for preschoolers.  And there are at least 10 of them.  Judah loves to pore over them so it buys us a few hours of peace per book.

What, you don't act out books as you "read" them?

--I'm grateful that kids grow up.  I'm really looking forward to the time when Judah's 5 and Noah's 2.  Babies are hard.  Nursing is annoying.  Naps are really inconvenient.  But in the meantime, I try to squeeze as much consolation as I can get from Noah's intoxicating chubby cuteness.

My cuteness lets me get away with anything--even waking mommy up at 5am everyday!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Poor Little Big Boy

A gracious commentor (commentator?) mentioned that the happiness experiment followup showed that doing gratitude journaling once a week was sufficient for the exercise to 'work' so now I don't feel bad about not doing it every day.  And for that, I am truly grateful!

It's actually really hard to find time to blog and there's so many other things I'd rather share about than rack my brain for publicly appropriate content to be grateful for.

For example, today Judah had a really 'mature' conversation with me about how hard it is to be a big brother.

Judah (in a quiet, contemplative voice): Mommy, you know, it's really hard to be a big boy.
Me: Really?  Tell me something hard about being a big boy.
Judah: I have to be quiet all the time because Noah's napping.
Me: Yeah, that's hard.  What else?
Judah: I always have to watch him, make sure he doesn't get hurt.
Me: Yeah, that's hard.

This went on for a while as Judah listed typical big brother woes--having to share his toys, not getting mommy all to himself, enduring Noah messing up his spaceship creations, etc.

Being a little brother is no cakewalk either, apparently.

And then, because you can't just throw away such a perfect teachable moment when it falls right in your lap, I of course had to ask Judah what was great about being a big boy.

Judah's replies were pretty much 100% all about eating some form of chocolate--cake, candy, ice cream.

His gluttony issues aside, I so treasure these moments.  It's so rare when I feel like I'm actually interacting with Judah as a thoughtful human being (and not just a destructive, willful force of nature).  Kinda makes me wish I could just press a button and start the parenting process at age 4!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Day 2 of Gratituding: The Other Bat Kid

Continuing with my attempt to become a more grateful and happy person (see previous post), here are the things I'm grateful for today:

(1) Upcycled my old 3-drawer office cart into a 'craft' station for Judah.  His art and craft supplies have been laying around in a disorganized mess and slowly driving me insane.  So, yay for sanity.

(2) The weather has finally dipped to the point where it actually feels nippy all day despite the bright sunshine.  I love cold weather because that means I can use the oven with abandon.  I love roasting meats and veggies and baking stuff.

(3) Watched Judah impersonate Batman for the better part of an hour tonight.  I mentioned the Bat Kid phenomenon to the Spouse and gushed about how awesome it was.  Judah overheard us and instantly launched into superhero mode, running around, jumping on mattresses, and the entire time shouting the Batman theme song at the top of his lungs (lucky for him the lyrics are pretty simple)--na na na na na na na na na na Batman! na na na na na na na na na na Batman!

Judah giving off his best 'tough guy' face.

Judah's go-to pose when he wants to show off his muscles.

After I praised one of his kicks, he started kicking higher and more furiously.  The recoil action on these babies was hilarious.

It was so hard stifling my laughter in the face of Judah's very earnest belief that he was indeed dishing out some very bad ass superhero moves.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

If Eeyore and Debbie Downer had a love child...

It may be hard to tell from my cheery exterior, but I'm actually quite a neg-head. I gravitate toward bad news, focus on the things that went wrong, and obsess over what might go wrong in the future.

 Hardly a recipe for joy and very much against the spirit of the season--Thanksgiving.

In a famous experiment by psychologist Martin Seligman, patients were shown to drastically improve their mental well-being by doing simple things to boost their sense of gratitude. Among them, was to list 3 things they were grateful for each day.

Well, being the neg-head that I am, I very much doubt such a simple exercise could really make a dent in my strong Debbie Downer tendency, but what the heck.  It couldn't hurt.

So...three things that I'm thankful for today...(and of course instantly I'm thinking of numerous things that I'm NOT thankful for today--like how I realized I forgot my wallet as I was checking out at Target, doh!)

Okay, thankful, thankful, thankful...

(1) Didn't have to cook dinner--bought soups and sandwiches at our local grocery store.

(2) (Aside--this is taking a really long time...I've been staring at my screen for literally 5 minutes now...) Printed out some easy worksheets for Judah downloaded from a free website.  He loves doing stuff like that and it should buy me at least 30 min of peace tomorrow.

(3) Made Noah giggle like a madman for a whole 5 minutes today.  I know that sounds like a small thing, but it really was a highlight of my day!  Interpret as you will.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Big Cheese

Noah has entered into, what I like to call, the Death Wish phase of his babyhood.

He is now always about 45 seconds away from doing some kind of serious bodily harm to himself.  He loves poking his fingers into electric sockets, pulling himself up on Judah's rickety chairs, reaching for tiny objects to stuff into his mouth and choke on, etc.

We are exhausted just trying to keep him alive.

Now that he's full on crawling, there is no moment in which we can just leave him alone to chill on his own.  He's also a squirmy fish when you try to hold him--contorting this way and that, wanting you to literally bring him the moon and other far away objects beyond human reach (to grab and put in his mouth of course).

But he's also giving off the cheesiest, most irresistible smiles now:

One of the best parts of being a parent? Not having to resist the irresistible. I can't stop planting big ol' smooches on this chubby little guy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quick Shots

Some quick thoughts in no particular order...

--Tonight will be Night #3 of sleep training Noah to not nurse at all during the night.  The last 2 nights of sleep training did not go well.  The first night he cried for an unknown amount of time (the spouse was on duty and he fell asleep before Noah stopped crying).  The second night he cried for about an hour.

To swat away the mom guilt while I hear Noah screaming in the middle of the night I tell myself that this is good for Noah.  I'm giving him the gift of sleep and self-soothing.  He does not need to be eating in the middle of the night anymore since his stomach is big enough to hold food for at least 12 hours.  I'm only asking him to go about 8 hours without eating (since I still do a 'dream feed').

--On the days that I have both kids to myself all day (when Judah doesn't go to preschool) I become a mean and crabby person after about the 5 hour mark.  I don't like the monster I become after Hour Five.  I have no patience.  I yell at Judah at the slightest provocation.  I lose all perspective.  I kinda feel shaky with rage and annoyance.  It is not pretty.

--I am LIVING for daylight savings this Sunday.  Our schedules have drifted way too late.  Judah doesn't sleep until 10:30pm some days and left to his own devices, won't wake up until 9am.  DTS will be my salvation...I'm hoping.

--Today we went to a pumpkin patch to kill time.  I thought it would be totally lame, and it kinda was as there were maybe only 6 kids there total, including mine!  But you couldn't tell from the smiles on these faces.  (As you can tell, these pics were taken with my crappy cell phone since I had such low expectations for the trip, I didn't bother bringing my 'nice' camera.)

Batman and a chubby stand-in for Robin.

Chubby stand-in loves having the car all to himself.

Batman likes to show Chubby who's boss.

My lil' pumpkin and his giant pumpkin.

Holding his brother for safety or trying to strangle him? It's a complicated relationship.

And with that, I'll wish you all a Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 25, 2013

I've Always Wanted a Friend

Corduroy blinked.  There was a chair and a chest of drawers, and alongside a girl-size bed stood a little bed just the right size for him.  The room was small, nothing like that enormous palace in the department store.

"This must be home," he said.  "I know I've always wanted a home!"

Lisa sat down with Corduroy on her lap and began to sew a button on his overalls.
"I like you the way you are," she said, "but you'll be more comfortable with your shoulder strap fastened."

"You must be a friend," said Corduroy.  "I've always wanted a friend."

At this point in the story, I'm usually crying so hard I can barely get the words out.  And Judah always asks, "Why is Corduroy crying?"

And I explain again that Corduroy is not crying, it's Mommy that's crying.

"Oh.  Why are you sad Mommy?"
"I'm not sad, Judah, I'm crying tears of joy.  Sometimes when something good happens, you're so happy you cry.  But not because you're sad.  Because you're happy."

Some day, as Judah grows up, I'll explain more.

I'll tell him that no amount of stuff (like that enormous palace in the department store) can ever fill the longing in your heart for Home.  'Stuff' and fulfillment are not at all the same thing.

And that even if you've never seen or known a Home, you'll know it the instant you're there.  Your heart will know what your senses have never perceived.  Because that is how we're made--to long to find the place where we are loved.  That is what makes us human.

I'll explain that a friend is someone who loves you just the way you are.  Even the one fatal flaw you thought you had that makes you utterly unlovable.  That one thing you've sought to fix all your life so that you might become lovable--that darn missing button on your overalls.

A true friend sees it.  Accepts you despite it.  And fixes it for your sake, not theirs.

And I'll explain that Home is where your friend(s) is/are.

Photo credit:

And that the real reason Mommy is crying is because you are that friend for me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

On weather, pediatric oncology, smartphones, and my awful mandarin skills

Some random thoughts I've been having in no particular order:

Today was the first really nippy day of the season.  Usually it's cold in the morning but the sun shines through around noon and it feels like a balmy 78 degrees.  But today it was truly cold all day long.  Looks like Summer is really over now.  The changing of the seasons always makes me feel happy for some reason...not sure why.

I've been reading Emperor of All Maladies, which is about the history of cancer treatment in the US.  It always makes me sad and paranoid, reading and thinking about all the 2-6 year old kids who have cancer.  Getting cancer or my kids or spouse getting cancer is definitely on my Top Five Most Horrible Things I Can Imagine Happening to My Family.

Also on the Top Five Horrible Things kid(s) getting kidnapped, somebody dying, being sexually assaulted, my kid(s) becoming meth heads later in life.

I hate thinking about my kid(s) possibly dying young.  And yet young kids die every day.  Makes me realize "Love" is a two sided coin--one side shining brighter than the sun and the other darker than hell.

I hate smart phones.  I don't want to be connected and distracted all the time.  I don't want to constantly check social media networks.  I want to be bored and sad and feel my boredom and sadness because that's reality.  That's life.  (It's nice to know that Louis C.K. agrees).  But...

...I'm seriously contemplating getting a smart phone for the Chinese language apps.  My mandarin speaking skills are pretty sucky and that's totally inhibiting me from helping Judah learn Chinese.

Words I see with Judah all the time but have no idea how to say include: ladybug, penguin, alligator/crocodile, and dinosaur.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Baby No More

Noah has suddenly started exhibiting way too many signs of growing up.

Yesterday he refused his special pureed baby foods and demanded to eat what I was eating (potstickers).  So I gave some to him and he loved it.  This behavior has continued all throughout today.  I guess this baby ain't gonna eat no more baby food.

Today while Judah and the neighbor kids rode their bikes, Noah desperately gestured towards Judah's tricycle.  I put him in it and wheeled him around.  He had the biggest grin on his face and kept wiggling his legs with joy.  He refused to get out of the trike.

This isn't really a sign of growing up, but Noah has gotten really good at "playing" the recorder (and the occasional kazoo).  I hear him toot-toot tooting on it all day long and it's a really nice, strong, musical note.

Which leads me to this...

It sounded like some weird party in here--Judah giggling and growling (like a cowboy, yeah, don't ask me) and Noah tooting away.

And they say old married people don't know how to have fun.  Harumph!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tears for Fears

Sometimes I get so frustrated at Judah's irrational fears.

A couple weeks ago I took him to the Spirit Halloween store to pick out a costume.  He took one look inside and started high-tailing it out of there.  I tried convincing him to stay, but all the spooky Halloween decorations proved too much for him.  As I tried to physically drag him back in the store, giant tears started rolling down his cheeks as he wailed "NOOOOO!!!" at the top of his lungs.

Now what could I do?  I drove all that way on a hot day with a big fat baby in tow (who hates car seats and strollers) and now I couldn't even step foot in that store to see their selection.  I briefly thought of leaving Judah in the car while I shopped with Noah but images of kidnappers sprang in my head...and yet I still debated it for a long time.  Eventually we left with no costume.


Eventually I picked out Judah's costume without him.  Glad he's not scared of his giant turtle friend.

Yesterday he picked out some glow-in-the-dark slime as a 'prize' and he loved it.  Until I opened the container and actually took the slime out.  It glooped and drooped and slipped around, like slime is wont to do.  And somehow, that gelatinous behavior was way too freaky for Judah.  He cried and wailed "Put it back in!  Put it back in!" until I finally, with a giant eye roll, put the slime back in.  Ugh.

He also has the annoying habit of being a total hypochondriac about every little nick he gets.  He won't let us see the cut and screams as if his finger was sawed off, instead of just ever so slightly nicked.  Seriously?  Calm down kid.

He gets scared with such high frequency, he now knows the term "freak out", as in "Mommy, you remember how you took me to the costume store and I got scared and freaked out?"

Um, yes, you freak out about everything.

Speaking of picking up phrases, Judah often likes to try out phrases that he overhears us saying a lot (to each other, but not to him).  Today, for the first time he said "The truth is..."

He was on the toilet and when the spouse asked him if he was ready to get off and get wiped, Judah replied "No, the truth is, I have more poo."


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Grouchy Tickle Monster

Judah is in a 'tickling' phase.

A few weeks ago, he decided that tickling was the best thing in the whole wide world.  And now the instant he opens his eyes in the morning he shouts "Tickle me Mommy!"

I indulge him as much as possible but truth be told, I hate tickling.  I hate his little fingers poking under my armpits, especially with my arms loaded up with groceries and a fat baby.

I hate him thrashing around wildly while I "tickle him to death", kicking my chest and occasionally butting my teeth with his hard head.  He's at an age now that he can really throw a real force.  It freaking hurts!

But every day must begin and end with tickling.  And be punctuated with tickling episodes throughout.

And though I really hate it, how can I possibly deny Judah something that makes him wild with giggles and shriek with joy?

And speaking of phases that I'd like to see end soon...

Judah's been pooping during the night for the last 2 weeks.  He'll wake up 1-2 times needing to poop.  It seems to coincide with runny diarrhea like poop, but honestly, he doesn't poop for 8 hours during the day.  It just seems to hit him at night.

This needs to STOP.  We are tired.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Waiting for Supermom

I have a recurring dream where my family is there but I'm not.

And in my dream I keep wondering, Where is the mom?  This family needs a mother.

And then I wake up and realize, Wait a sec...I'm the mom!  Oh those poor kids.

Dreams don't always mean anything, but this one is pretty much a perfect representation of how I feel about motherhood: unprepared, incompetent, inadequate, and always behind the curve.  When is the real mom of this family going to show up and put everything right?

Sorry kids, you're stuck with me.  Forget college, I better start saving for your years of therapy!

Most days I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. I feel like it's kinda irresponsible of the State? God? whatever powers that be to allow people like me to have kids.

It continually amazes me that, in order to drive a car, or represent a criminal in court, or teach other people's kids, you need some minimal level of education, degrees, licenses, etc.  But to have and raise a child of your own, to guide a human being into full adulthood and onto eternity or whatever fate you think awaits them, you need absolutely NOTHING--no knowledge, no understanding, no previous experience, nada, zilch, zero, bupkis.

And that, sadly is what the spouse and I started out with--nothing.  My entire babysitting career prior to having my own kids consisted of babysitting a 10 year old neighbor kid while I was 12.  I don't even remember holding a baby longer than 30 seconds until I held my own, much less know anything about how to take care of one.

As much as I love our modern individualistic existence, I have to say there is one major Major drawback.  Without living in large extended families, it's hard to learn about baby/childcare.  You lack the little siblings and cousins to practice on and you lack the older aunties and grandparents to teach you.

There is not a day that goes by that I don't ardently wish I had taken at least one college class on early child development.

So now I am learning.  Learning about little people and how they grow.  Learning about how we gain our sense of identity, competence or incompetence, and ultimately, our worth.  Learning about how we are wounded and how we pass on our weaknesses and infirmities either by imitation or over-correction.  Learning that I had no idea what patience meant in my previous child-free life.

But I'm afraid I will be too soon old and too late wise.
And Supermom will never appear.
And we will not be saved.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Noah Now

ZOMG I thought I saw Noah crawling yesterday!

One tiny scoot for Noah, one giant leap toward mobility.

It was just a couple tentative motions forward but it marks a huge milestone for us, especially since Judah never learned to crawl as a baby.  This is just one of many ways that Noah differs from Judah.

Judah was a drool-monster and wore drool bibs even after age 2.  Noah doesn't drool at all.  Judah could not entertain himself and be left alone for even 15 seconds.  Noah can happily entertain himself for 20-30 minutes at a time.  Judah loved reading books, even as a 6 month old.  Noah grows bored after 30 seconds and would rather chew on the pages.

Anyway, enough of comparisons.  More about Noah...
--He's growing teeth like crazy.  No sooner than his big top 2 teeth came out, he's already starting on the next 2 on top.

--Recently he's been horrible at napping.  I don't know if it's some kind of new phase brought on by this new mobility but he now SUCKS at sleeping during the day.  No matter what I do he will only seem to nap 30 minutes at a time now.  I have tried letting him cry himself back to sleep (even up to an hour!), patting him right away and trying to soothe him back to sleep quickly, nursing him in the hopes that would put him back to sleep, moving his nap times up or down half an hour, you name it, I've tried it.  And failed.

--He has horrible eczema but is allergic to a lot of various creams/moisturizers.  Thankfully Aquaphor is not an allergen so I slather him in it daily like butter on toast.

--He's really into sticking his tongue out and blowing raspberries now.  So cute!

--He can now (and frequently does) reach out to me to indicate that he wants me to hold him.  He also 'points' at things he's interested in by stretching out one arm in a certain direction.

--He does not care to nurse.  Unlike Judah who probably would've nursed until he went off to college if I let him, Noah's just like 'meh' about it.  The only time I can get him to latch on for more than 30 seconds is if I nurse him while he's drowsy.  This is the main reason why I haven't trained him to sleep through the night yet.  The 3 times I nurse him at night probably accounts for 90% of the breastmilk he now drinks!  But man am I tired of fragmented sleep.  I'm torn about what to do--as always with childcare, it seems like a trade-off between HIS well being and MY sanity.

Look how happy I am when you're not trying to nap me!

I can't believe Noah will be 9 months next week.  He seems to be growing up faster than Judah did (probably because my attention is divided this time around).  How could my baby, my last baby, my sweet baby be so close to turning one?  I'm in complete disbelief.

No matter how old Noah gets, this is how I'll always think of him, as a newborn.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Long Goodbye

Today I finally sorted through all of Noah's 0-9 month old clothes and took them to a consignment shop.

I'm not at all a sentimental person and I NEVER cry.

But going through all his little onesies and newborn footies, I came as close to crying as my cold robot heart would allow.  I had no idea it would hurt so much.

Saying goodbye to your little baby forever.  That might just well be the hardest thing about parenting.  Motherhood is like the ultimate exercise in ambivalence--I SO SO SO want Noah to grow up and develop and blossom AND I SO SO SO want him to stop growing and always stay the same.

Even as I cuddle his chub and inhale deep whiffs of his sweet fatness, I'm mourning that he'll never be this small, this cute, this baby-ish ever again.

It *almost* made me want to have another baby.

In which my toddler makes me question the foundation of my ethical stance on economic charity

[Judah opens up his mini-kitchen cupboard where he stashes his hoard of fake and real coins.]

Judah: I have lots of money Mommy.  I'm rich!

Spouse: Do you want to share some with us?

Judah: Sure!  Then I won't be rich anymore.


Judah: Mommy, I can be rich.  Or I can be generous.

Me--floored.  From the mouth of babes--what profound and interesting insight.  Even if one doesn't agree, you gotta admit that's a pretty heavy concept to wrestle with.

I can be rich.  Or I can be generous.

If you're rich and have more than enough, what is your obligation to your fellow man?
What does it mean to be generous?
How much do you need to share?
Should you share until the point where you're no longer rich?

[Note: I'm not advocating a political view, but rather asking about one's own private moral and ethical inclinations.  Please don't think I'm a commie.]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Nursing Noah

Last week has been pretty rough for Noah.

He had a couple days of high fever and then a little pink rash all over his tummy that spread up to his neck and face.  I attributed it to teething since he's growing out his top two teeth, but later realized that it might have been roseola (a viral infection).

Either way, I've been trying to nurse him extra much during his fever to prevent dehydration, but Noah is just not interested in nursing during his awake periods.  All I can really do is nurse him at night when he's too sleepy to protest.  So that meant a lot more night nursing sessions and a much more tired mama.  But the silver-lining is that I finally figured out the etymology of the phrase--nursed back to health.  It was kind of hard to miss it as I literally nursed Noah back to health.

The extra nursing was a little annoying, but what was REALLY awful was when Noah went on an all out nursing strike a few days later due to his gums being so sore from teething.  Of course I didn't figure it out until 12+ hours later and my boobs were dying from engorgement, ugh.

But after some squirts of Baby Orajel and a lot of pumping, we are pretty much almost all back to our normal selves.

All I have to say is--thank goodness for topical anesthetics!

Last week was rough, but we are back on our feet now!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Preoccupation with Occupation

There I was filling out the new patient form at top speed.

First name, middle name, last name.



Phone number.


Wait, what?


Um, um, pen hovered over the blank line for longer than felt comfortable.


Has my statute of limitations run out for writing my old occupation--attorney?  Two months into being a SAHM, there it was, punching me in the face--all my insecurities and misgivings about being a SAHM.

I hesitated longer than I would ever have imagined hesitating over something like this.  And then slowly I started to write "s" "t" "a" and then stopped cold.

I'm not going to write that.  I can't write that.  I guess I haven't made my peace with that yet.  It felt too personal to write that.  Why should I let strangers know about something that is still so raw and un-reconciled?

Why IS it still so raw and un-reconciled?

Why is auto spell-check telling me there is no such word as 'unreconciled'?  Tangent, sorry.

This is stupid, I thought.  Why am I making this such a big deal?  And yet I couldn't bring myself to finish writing the word 'stay'.

So I crossed it all out and wrote "unemployed."

Saturday, September 14, 2013


Lately I've fallen into a blogging black hole.

It's funny how sometimes I can't seem to write fast enough--ideas for posts pouring out of my ears.  And other times, like now, I can't be bothered to lift a single finger and type a single letter.

The only way to break out of a blogging funk, I find, is to just write.  The only way to get unstuck is to just type.  Without this perfunctory flexing of the metacarpals, I find that everything soon calcifies and a once somewhat healthy blog becomes pretty much extinct.  You turn around and realize...hmmm...I haven't written a new post for 4 weeks...and then 4 months...and then why bother anymore.

Sometimes the attempt to have a nice coherent blog entry pretty much obliterates the fun of blogging.  So to heck with that today.  Here's a random list of stuff that...well, is just random:

--I've been on a Cheryl Strayed kick lately.  Just finished Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things.  She's an amazing writer and her immense humanity and wisdom shines through in every sentence (but I definitely don't agree with everything she says).  I think I might buy Tiny Beautiful Things in hardcopy (everything I read is on kindle since the only time I have to read is while nursing) just so I can highlight phrases and read some passages over and over again.

--Noah is 8 months today.  We're finally digging ourselves out of a deep dark hole of baby care.  Most wonderfully he's now on a very predictable schedule.  He takes 2 naps at the same time every day and eats solids like a beast.  Oh how I love predictability.

--Judah has become an aggressive alpha male monster.  Everything that comes out of his mouth is about killing, hating, fighting, cutting off heads, etc.  I fear I'm raising the next great American sociopath.  And the tantrums.  They are stronger and more frequent than ever.  Terrible Threes, here we come!

--I just started watching Season 1 of Breaking Bad.  Fascinating.  Psychologically fascinating.

That is all.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Through a Glass, Darkly

These past 6 days have been hellacious.  I officially hate Labor Day.

Because of Labor Day, Judah's preschool shut down on Friday and Monday.  That means I wrangled with both kids ALL DAY on Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon and Tue (today).  The vast majority of those days, all by myself.

By the time Monday rolled around I was pretty much ready to swallow a bucket of pain pills.  And wash it down with some good gin.  Just kidding.  Not really.  Just kidding.  Only sort of.

It's hard to explain to people who haven't had the "pleasure" of dealing with babies and toddlers why it is so particularly painful to care for them for long periods of time.  And to be fair, Noah is really not the main pain.  His only contribution is his gargantuan heft (21 lbs!) that must be hoisted around the house, up and down the stairs, in and out of contraptions, etc.  He's so heavy that I literally brace myself for the upcoming physical pain as I prepare to pick him up.  Ever watch olympic weightlifting--how they scrunch up their face before lifting the barbell?  Yeah, like that.

But the real assault on my sanity comes from Judah.  Clingy, whiny, prone-to-trantrumming, disobedient, limit-testing, super-active Judah.  Plus he's gross.  I totally know what Tina Fey means when she says she's like a human napkin to her kids.  Boogers, pee, poo, snot, drool--it all gets wiped on me.  I am constantly being violated and I shudder to consider what's on his grubby little fingers.

Probably the hardest thing about Judah is his extreme need for attention.  I would probably be really down on my parenting ability because of this, except for the fact that (a) he's been like this since he was a baby and (b) Noah is nothing like this.

Noah can play by himself, as early as 3 months, longer than Judah can at 3 years of age.  Crazy right?  So crazy it made me google--kids who need too much attention--to try to figure out what the heck is wrong with Judah.  And that just reminded me why I find parenting advice so infuriating.

Nothing is clear, everything is vague.  It all "depends..."  Every article said some variation of the following--There's a fine line between giving your kid the love and attention he needs and giving him too much  and thereby spoiling him.  And where is that fine line exactly?  It never says, of course.  It depends...on temperament, personality, each individual child, etc.  Um, thanks articles, for NOTHING.

Anyway, just so I don't end on a sour dark note, here are some bright spots in our days:

First tandem brother bath time!  I hope this journey doesn't end with games of "slippery fish" in their future.

Please ignore Judah's naked butt and just focus on the fact that they're both engrossed in independent reading.

Sweet moments like these are all too brief.  Seriously, like only 0.15 seconds long.

Oh how I love (and put up with) my precious two and a half men.

As these pics prove, we do have our brief (make that very very very brief) shining moments. But still, all I can say is--Thank GOD Judah is going to preschool tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Birthday Love

Recently Judah turned 3!

He had a little celebration at his daycare (which also nicely coincided with his last day there).

I meant to give him a 'police' party but Target doesn't do that.  But hey, the avengers are kinda like police, right?

And had another party with his church friends.

I love that Judah was sucking on a blue marker right before this pic was taken.  Sigh.

And received the sweetest homemade card from his 5-year old friend.  Inside his friend wrote: Dear Judah, I love you.  Happy birthday!

Dear Hallmark--you should have a 'made by 5 year olds' card division.  You're welcome.

And while we're on the subject of homemade stuff, here's some pictures Judah drew that I will keep until the day I die.

Judah drew this at age 2.5 and it was the first time anything he drew actually looked kind of like something.  He very deliberately made it blue because policemen are blue, of course.

Judah and Picasso both had masterpieces and 'blue periods'.

This picture, done a month later blew me away.  Judah said "It's a whale mommy!"  Um heck yeah it's a whale!  It's a whale of a whale!  To be honest I don't think the spouse could ever draw a whale as good as this one.

I'm tempted to write out a bunch of 'progress reports' about Judah at age 3--the numbers he can count up to (sort of 20), the letters of the alphabet he knows (all of the capital ones and their sounds!), the milestones he's reached (potty-trained!) or has yet to reach (can't wipe himself). But that all seems a bit tedious...even for a proud mom!

So all I'll say is this. Judah was a difficult baby, a difficult 1 year old, a difficult 2 year old, and now a difficult just-turned-3 year old.

He always has and still does demand attention and energy that no reasonable baby/child should demand of adults. He rubs us raw and wears us down and seems to really enjoy getting on our very last nerve.

But he's also fun. And sweet. And kind-hearted.

And by the grace of God, truly ONLY by the sheer grace of God, we live to tell another year!