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.