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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Observations On Minnesota in Winter

Minnesotans develop the "winter hunch" which is actually two different things with the same name. The first winter hunch is when people are walking outside during winter. Good posture disappears in Minnesota at this time and is replaced with hunched shoulders and a bowed head. This is partly because people are trying to shield themselves from the cold and partly because their winter jackets are so heavy that they can't stand up straight anymore.
The second winter hunch is one that most Minnesotans think they have. It goes something like this, "Uff-da, I got a hunch it's gonna snow tonight, and ya betcha we're gonna get stuck at home tomorrow." "Yup, better head to the grocery store and buy us some more lefse/flour to make lefse to get us through."

Two lane roads turn into one lane roads overnight. When the snowplow goes through, it pushes all the snow from the middle of the street onto the side of the street, creating huge mountains of snow right along where cars would normally park. This leaves little to no room for parking and definitely space for only one car to drive on the street at a time. If you're heading up a hill in winter, you better pray you don't meet someone coming down because one of you is going to have to back up, and it'll probably be you because the other guy won't be able to back UP the icy hill to let you through.

Small children disappear during the winter and are replaced by small abominable snowman-type creatures. Some theorize that this is due to the 14 layers most parents put on their child before allowing them to go outdoors in the winter.

Ya sure, ya betcha it's cold! 'Nuff said.

People who visit Minnesota in the spring bring home tales of ghosts and strange people who wear shorts when it's 48 degrees outside. A typical Minnesotan's skin only sees sunlight for about 4 months out of the year which means that after a long winter, they're literally as white as a ghost. Minnesotans are also known for thinking that any temperature over the freezing point is shorts and sandals weather.

Winter in Minnesota would be the perfect time to commit a crime. Everyone's bundled up from head to toe with only their eyes showing anyways, so a burglar could easily blend into a crowd. He also could get away without anyone being able to identify his vehicle because it would be probably be covered with snow, sand from the roads, and slush. His license plate would be covered up by the miniature snowdrifts that build up on anything that isn't completely smooth, making a positive ID practically impossible. Unless he's like that one crook I heard of on the radio the other day. He was very careful all the way through the burglary, but made one little mistake as he left. He backed into a snow bank to pull out and left a perfect imprint of his license plate in the snow, leading police straight to his door. Oops.

Occasional frostbite is nothing to get excited over. Don't try telling other Minnesotans that the tip of your pinkie got frostbitten while you were out shoveling 2 feet of snow and expect them to be impressed. It happens and it's no big deal.

When schools close for a snow day during a blizzard, it generally doesn't deter people from going anywhere. So the kids have a snow day? Load 'em up in the car and let's go shopping!

During the summer, Minnesotans talk about the road construction. During the winter, they talk about the weather. When it hits 20 below 0, Minnesotans start using the phrase, "Cold 'nuff fer ya?" liberally. At that point, most will also start wearing a knit hat outdoors as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Milk and Minivans

I've come to terms with having a boy and am throwing myself wholeheartedly into the color blue. On a recent shopping trip, I purchased blue pacifiers, blue receiving blankets, blue sleepers, and a blue pacifier holder. I could use what I had from Princess, but most of her baby accessories are pink. I made sure to get neutral colored big ticket items, like the baby swing, bouncy seat, etc., but went crazy with pink for everything else. So this time, I'm going crazy with blue and no matter what I have next time around, I'll be prepared.

After drinking very well from her cup for a while, Princess has started throwing her cup (full) of milk on the floor again. I had read somewhere that if your child is begging for a bottle when he or she is too old for it, go ahead and give it to them. The child will soon tire of working so hard for such a small amount of milk and will want their cup back. So I figured why wouldn't this work on Princess? She went in time-out for throwing her cup and when she came back, I handed her a baby bottle with a slow flow nipple. I told her that because she wasn't being a big girl when she threw her cup, that she could no longer have a big girl cup and had to drink from a bottle like a baby. She was hesitant to take the bottle from me at first so I set it on her high chair tray and left the room to get a load of laundry out of the dryer. When I came back to the kitchen, Princess's food was untouched and she was blissfully sucking on the bottle. She took it out long enough to smile happily at me, and I took the opportunity to reinforce the theory that bottles are for babies just in case she didn't get it the first time.
"I baby." she said, popping it back into her mouth.
Okay, maybe that would've worked better if she weren't obsessed with babies and everything about them. Guess I'll demote her to a sippy cup for a while and keep giving her time-outs every time the cup lands on the floor. Hopefully she'll get the idea that throwing her cup is NOT acceptable, and I'll be able to upgrade her back to a regular cup before she turns three.

Remember that nice minivan I mentioned in my last post? Less than two weeks after buying it (or to be more specific, taking out a loan for it), I managed to scratch the sliding door on the driver's side. I very stupidly thought I could get out of a parking spot that most other drivers would be able to get out of without mishap. I forgot to take into consideration that I AM A TERRIBLE DRIVER! The term "woman driver" is not without some truth in my house. The local body shop in town gets a good laugh every time I come in because I'm what you would call a regular there, and my mishaps are generally incredibly stupid. My dad who was with me when I scratched the van, called them up before I could get there and told them what happened. When I walked in the door I was met with snorts of laughter. The owner's wife told me that she'd heard I hadn't even gotten it off the car lot before wrecking the van. Which was somewhat true because I was back at the dealership having a new latch put in the glove compartment when I scratched the van.

The first time I damaged a car was 6 days after getting my license. I was attempting to adjust the radio while going around a curve and ended up going off the road, flying through a mailbox, over a driveway, went airborne over a ditch, and landed in a cornfield narrowly missing a light pole. I was fine, but had the joy of calling Hubby, then my boyfriend, at work and telling him that I'd wrecked his car which he was loaning me until I could get my own. After that incident, he still married me though, so whenever he gets mad at me for doing something to whatever vehicle I'm currently driving, I remind him that he knew what he was getting into when he married me.

Unsolicited Advice:
I recently read two books that I recommend for any parent. "Time-Out for Toddlers" by Dr. James W. Varni and "It Works For Us" by Tom McMahon. The second book is a compilation of helpful tips for just about every child-rearing situation from hundreds of different parents.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!
We had a relaxing, enjoyable day. Although I enjoy hosting Thanksgiving, the size of my house prohibits me from doing so. Instead, we went to my sister, Elizabeth's large house to celebrate. At one point during the day, I realized how relaxing it is to go somewhere else for holidays. I didn't have to clean my house, get up early to put the turkey in, find enough dishes and places at the table for everyone, or deal with the mess when everybody leaves.

I have some news to share. On Tuesday, Hubby and I went for my first ultrasound at 18 weeks gestation. It was really neat to see my baby for the first time. We asked the ultrasound technician if it was a boy or a girl and she asked us what we thought it was. I told her that Princess had assured me it was a boy. As the tech moved the wand to verify, we could very obviously see that Princess was correct! I made sure the tech printed us a picture of the "proof" to embarrass the poor boy with when he gets older.

To be honest though, I was hoping for a girl. I had several reasons for this, the top one being that Hubby thinks that with one of each, we're done having kids. Ummmm, I'm not done yet. I'm not ready for this to be my last pregnancy, my last baby, my youngest child. I also was hoping for a girl because I was kind of looking forward to getting Princess's baby clothes back out and dressing the two alike for special occasions. Having a sister close in age to me, I wanted to give that experience (good and bad) to Princess. I'm really not sure what to do with a boy. Having a boy means buying new clothes, bibs, and accessories. It means a whole new set of toys (and I've already run out of space!) and it means I'm going to be mother to a son. I'm all girl. I'm all about the frills, baby dolls, abundance of pink, and everything else that means girls. A boy is strange territory to me. When my mother found out what I was having, she thought about it a while and then confessed that she really can't see me with a boy. In about 5 months though, that's what's going to happen. But I know that I will learn as I go along just as I did with Princess and the minute they lay my baby boy in my arms, I will fall so madly in love with him that I can't imagine not having him there.

When Hubby and I found out that we're having a boy, we celebrated by buying a blue minivan. We got a fairly decent price on a Honda Odyssey and so came home with ultrasound pictures and a new vehicle. I know that we don't technically need a minivan yet since we'll only have two kids, but my sister and I go a lot of places together. With two carseats in the back of the car, it gets too crowded to buy a lot of groceries (we live 45 minutes from the nearest "big" city so we stock up when we go.) Since she and I are both expecting baby #2 in April, a minivan was a must. Also, because Hubby and I take so many LONG trips (6+ hours one way), a dvd system in the vehicle is a huge plus for us.

Anyways, it's 9 pm and it's been a long day. Signing off.

Monday, November 16, 2009

You Have It So Easy!

It was Sunday morning before church. Hubby was relaxing on the couch with the tv remote having already showered, shaved, and put on the suit and tie I'd picked out for him. I was simultaneously packing the diaper bag, picking out a dress for Princess and cutting up a pear for her breakfast. As I chased my squealing daugher with her ruffled fuschia dress and a pair of tights, I glanced enviously at Hubby lounging on the couch with not a thing to do, but watch tv. After corraling Princess and pinning her down long enough to wrestle the dress over her head, I made it a point to stop in the living room and give an exaggerated sigh. Hubby obliviously channel surfed so I decided to use a more direct method of conveying my frustration.
With a look of confusion, Hubby tore his eyes off the tv long enough to glance at me, "What'd you kick me for?" he asked.
"Because I'm doing everything as usual and you're just sitting there not lifting a finger to help me!"
"If you want my help, just ask!"
I instructed him to feed Princess her breakfast while I attempted to find a skirt and shirt for myself that matched and was not wrinkled.
Somehow I managed to get dressed and finish packing the diaper bag while answering 872 questions from Hubby about how to feed Princess breakfast. After she was done with breakfast, Hubby went back to the tv while I cleaned up the mess the two of them had made in the kitchen.
On the car ride to church, I thought about how nice it must be to be a dad.
Hubby didn't have to go through nine months of pregnancy, give birth or struggle with the first painful months of nursing. He didn't have to discipline and entertain a toddler all day, rock a sick child all night long, or try to figure out what 4 foods Princess currently accepted as edible.
As my resentment grew, I happened to glance in the backseat where Princess sat strapped into her carseat. Then I realized something. Hubby didn't get to experience the joy and wonder of new life growing within for nine months. He didn't get to go through the life changing experience of giving birth to that new life or gaze into the adoring eyes of a tiny baby as she filled her tummy with warm milk that he provided. He didn't get to spend all day with a toddler who was constantly learning new things and being incredibly cute about it. He didn't get to comfort that toddler when she didn't feel good and spend time just holding her in his arms. What Hubby got to do was go to work all day and come home to listen to me tell him about all the adorable things she'd done that day. He didn't get to spend much time with her because of his work and had to ask me to interpret most of what she said because he wasn't around her enough to know.
Even though at times it can be stressful and it's the hardest job I have ever and will ever do, I decided right then that I would much rather be a mom.

Unsolicited Advice:
To make it easier in the morning, I (sometimes) will pick out clothes the night before and pack the diaper bag. I've found it's easier to pack the diaper bag when I remember to fill it back up with diapers and wipes whenever it's running low instead of waiting until right before I have to be somewhere.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I wrote this poem when Princess was 7 months old. She was obsessed with my glasses at that time and, much to Hubby's delight, was constantly touching them with her slobbery sticky little fingers.
You can read an updated version of this post here on my new blog, Sunshine and Spoons! I hope to see you there!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Breathing: An Unneccessary Addiction?

Last week was...interesting. Maybe horrific would be a better word.

On Saturday night, Princess started having a hard time breathing, as did I. By Sunday, she was taking nebtreatments which didn't seem to do any good. She spent most of the day gasping, wheezing, and sounding like she was about to take her last breath. Scary. Especially knowing from experience as I do, that severe asthma can be fatal at worst and traumatizing at best. On Monday morning, I called the doctor and got Princess in at 1 pm. The doctor diagnosed her with pneumonia and sent us home with an antibiotic. Tuesday and Wednesday, Princess and I both seemed to improve which was good because I was about ready to have a break-down worrying about PRincess so much while being unable to breathe myself. On Thursday, Princess and I were both much worse. I got Princess into the doctor again. This time, chest x-rays and a blood draw were ordered.Princess  does not particularly care for doctors and nurses probing, touching, or generally looking at her so I was concerned about sending my baby girl off into the x-ray room by herself (They still haven't changed the rule about pregnant women being near the x-ray machine). Apparently however, she and the nurse in charge of baby wrangling that day really hit it off and the only time Princess cried was when the x-ray technician tried to touch her.

The blood tests came back negative and the chest x-ray showed that Princess had pneumonia. DUH! Tell me something I didn't know. The doctor assured me that, since Princess didn't appear to be sick in any way or wasn't even running a small fever, that she had the "best kind of pneumonia to have." That really made my day especially since my daughter was still lying on my lap wheezing and exhausted from lack of oxygen. We were sent home with a prescription for prednisone this time.

Being a lifelong asthmatic myself, I've been around the block a few times with prednisone. In case you don't know, prednisone is a strong steroid that is often given to asthmatics when nothing else is helping. It weakens your immune system, does weird things to your stomach and appetite, can bloat you and make you gain weight. And that's just a few of the lovely side effects. Not something I really wanted to give my daughter, but breathing is kind of important and I know how much prednisone can help.

Princess loves taking medicine, and I've had to hide her baby tylenol because otherwise she begs for it. So I was totally unprepared for the reaction I'd get to the prednisone. The stuff tastes incredibly strong and burns your throat on the way down. Being a strange child, I actually didn't mind the stuff when I was a kid.  Princess  does not take after me in that way. She started eagerly sucking it down and then stopped, gave me a stony glare that clearly said, "How dare you give me something that tastes like this." and turned away. Try as I might, not another drop went down her throat. Most of it made it into her mouth, but was rejected and kicked out immediately. The next morning, I decided to be sneaky. So I made some really strong sickeningly sweet chocolate milk that I knew Princess would absolutely adore. Then I made sure she wasn't watching and surreptitiously poured 2 teaspoons of prednisone in the milk. I handed the cup to Princess who happily took it from me and began gulping it down. Then she realized that I had sabotaged the chocolate milk and I was graced with another "if looks could kill" glare as she handed the cup back to me. Try as I might, she only drank about 2 more sips. In desperation, I called the doctor's office to see if they had any ideas on how to get a 21 month old to take some of the worst tasting medicine available. The nurse cheerily suggested I put it in chocolate milk because "that works every time." She was rather taken aback when I informed her that I had already tried that and my one-in-a-million kid had not cared for it at all. She offered to call the pharmacy and see if they had any ideas. The pharmacist didn't call me back that day and so that night, I recruited Hubby's mom to help with the predisone taking. She used M&Ms as a bribe and managed to get both teaspoons into Princess. I was very relieved to see that Princess had finally taken a full dose of her much needed medicine. The stress of taking care of a child who couldn't breathe, trying to get her to take her medicine, not being able to breathe very well myself, and the incredibly crabby, clingy mood Princess had understandably, but still frustratingly been in for the last couple of days was wearing me down and I was literally standing on the edge of the cliff ready to push someone (probably Hubby) off of it.

Thankfully, Friday night I got a reprieve from the governor. My parents were going to a concert called Bowfire (look it up on youtube, it's amazing) and I had guilt tripped Hubby about not getting me anything for my birthday until he said I could go too. The timing could not have been better. We met one of my mom's old friends at an Indian restaurant which was really good food that I didn't have to cook or clean up afterwords. Then we went to a concert where I managed to relax and enjoy myself. By the time I got home that night, my nearly dead battery had been recharged and I was ready to get back to real life.

Saturday morning, after convincing Princess to choke down another dose of prednisone, I got a call from the pharmacist.
"I put the wrong dosage on the bottle. It's not 2 teaspoons twice a day, it's 2/3 of a teaspoon twice a day." he said.
I stopped breathing until he continued. "It won't hurt her to have taken so much, but it is hard on her stomach. Better skip a dose tonight."
I was furious. Was he saying that I had just forced my daughter to take over twice as much of a harsh steroid as she needed?!?!?!? Since I've been going to the same pharmacy since I started taking medicine and never had a problem before and because Princess was not going to suffer any permanent damage from the overdose, I managed to forgive him, but I will be triple checking everything from now on!

So anyways, that's my week. Lets just say I don't do well under pressure, but everyone came out alive. Even Hubby who almost didn't make it on Friday when, on my ONLY day to sleep in, Princess uncharacteristically woke up at 6:30 am. He could've been sympathetic, but instead his reaction was, "Oh good, you're up. Now you can pack my lunchpail before I go to work." But I managed to refrain from killing him (this time) and we're once again a happy semi-healthy family.

Unsolicited Advice:
I understand that not everyone has this tremendous resource at their fingertips, but whenever I get sick, I call in reinforcements to help me take care of Princess and the house. My younger sister was the lucky victim this time who not so willingly did my dishes, swept the asian beetles off my porch and did my laundry. If you have someone like that around, either ask them over or send the kids to their house!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Someone's Going to be a Big Sister!

It's been 8 weeks since I found out. Hubby didn't want to tell anybody, so I decided to abide by his wishes. But now it's time to let the cat out of the bag. Baby #2 is on its way! I'm 12 weeks pregnant now and everything has gone well. I got to hear the baby's (strong and easy to find!) heartbeat at 10 1/2 weeks. We had a little scare around 6 weeks when I had three days of small amounts of bleeding, but that stopped, and then the morning sickness kicked in to reassure me that I was indeed, pregnant. Unlike my last pregnancy, when I craved potatoes in any shape or form, this time I'm craving cheese. Which has done wonders for my pregnant digestive system. Have I mentioned I hate chugging Metamucil?

My due date is April 27th although I know from experience (Princess was 2 weeks late and had to be induced) that a due date doesn't mean much. My sister, the one with a son 6 weeks older than Princess, is also expecting a baby in April. Hers is due two weeks before mine. So, if she goes a week late and I go a week early, we could save the relatives a trip to the hospital and kill two birds with one stone. But I know better than to count on that happening.

I'm nervous about adding a second child. I'm looking forward to having a baby again and am more confident this time because I know a lot of little tricks that make taking care of a newborn easier, or at least bearable. Of course, there is always the chance that everything that worked with Princess will irritate this baby immensely. What I'm nervous about though, is taking care of a toddler and a newborn. Especially since the toddler is very possessive of me and her toys. If I hold another child, she has a meltdown and tries to push them off my lap. Because Princess adores babies so much and is such a good little mother to her dolls, I think she'll love her baby brother or sister unless I'm holding him or her. Which could be a problem because newborns require a lot of holding. This time, I have a sling I plan to use which should help at least some, especially since I will breastfeed this one as well.

When I was pregnant with Princess, I didn't really start to show until I was over halfway done with my pregnancy. This time, I was wearing maternity clothes by 10 weeks. The fact that I'm a little pudgy around the middle and am wearing maternity clothes has made it a little harder to keep the pregnancy a secret. I thought I'd kept it a secret from most of my coworkers at the bed and breakfast, but apparently they had it figured out anyway.

My doctor told me that it's normal to show sooner with the second baby because your stomach muscles are already relaxed from the first pregnancy. No offense, doc, but that one was kind of obvious. Even though I lost all the baby weight and then some, my stomach never quite looked the same as before pregnancy. And by the way, although I was pleasantly surprised at the way the weight just kind of disappeared after having Princess, I hold out no such hopes for this one. If it does happen, great! But if it doesn't, I understand that it can be much harder to lose the weight the second time around.

Just a note to the person who left a comment on my last post about the pacifier saga-I will try to blog about how I got Princess to eat and stopped stressing myself out about her weight. However, just in case I don't get to it, leave another comment with an email address or something and I'll definitely talk to you about what's going on with your child. That way I could answer your direct questions better instead of just writing broadly about the subject. I know how rough it can be and I know it realllllllly helps to talk to someone who's been there.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Part One of the Pacifier Saga

I gave Princess a pacifier to try when she was only a few days old. Ever since then, the "paci" has been a part of our lives. When she was younger, she got the paci when she was fussy or tired or loud in church. When she turned one, the paci was banished to her crib where it was only to be used when Princess was sleeping. I bent the rules a few times when she was really sick or when I was really sick, but basically the paci is only for sleeping.

I was three when I gave up my pacifier. Before my third birthday, my mom began psyching me up to lose the pacifier. She told me over and over how when I turned three, I would be a big girl and big girls didn't need pacifiers. On my birthday, the beloved pacifier disappeared and I sadly went to bed that night without it. I remember several weeks or maybe months later, finding my old pacifier in a drawer in the changing table and looking at it with fondness. I wanted desperately to stick it in my mouth for old time's sake, but knew that I was too old for it. So I put it back and never thought about it again. The whole process was relatively painless even though up until that point I had always had my pacifier for bedtime. I thought this might be a good way to get rid of Princess's pacifier as well, but here we are, trying to get rid of the pacifier at 20 months.

Personally, I don't have a problem with Princess using a pacifier for sleep. It's not like she walks around with it in her mouth all day. However, I have fallen prey to mommy guilt. Mommy guilt is not just the guilt a mommy feels when she feels guilty for giving in to her child's demands for jelly on white bread for supper the fourth day in a row. Mommy guilt can also occur when somebody else makes the mommy feel like she's doing a bad job in raising her kids. The second is what happened to me. Certain people have made no secret of the fact that they strongly disapprove of me letting Princess have her paci.  Never mind the fact that Princess is not their child and they have no idea what she really needs. I also have gotten several guilt-inducing lectures from co-workers, friends, and relatives. Hubby is of the strong opinion that Princess needs to throw her pacifier in the trash yesterday since he has been listening to all these people as well. Never mind the fact that he doesn't have to sit up half the night when she cries.  If it were up to me, I would leave Princess alone until she's old enough to understand that big girls don't suck pacifiers, just like my mom did with me. But because of increasing pressure from so many people, I have begun cutting Princess off her pacifier. Literally.

Rather than go cold turkey which would result in traumatizing sleepless nights and days for both Princess and me, I am cutting the end off her pacifier little by little. The first time I cut a tiny sliver off, it didn't seem to bother Princess much although she immediately became more attached to her baby blanket. The second time, I cut off enough so that the air could get through and Princess...well, she noticed. She has become even more attached to her blanket and is not as thrilled about getting the pacifier as she was before. Every week, I will cut a little more off until she (hopefully) decides that the pacifier is not worth it and gives it up completely.

This whole thing seems ridiculous to me. With Princess's asthma, the paci has been an invaluable tool to calming her down and getting her to breathe again when she's gasping for air. She's also getting very attached to her baby blanket which to me means that no matter what I do, she will need something to sleep with, be it the pacifier or the blanket. Does it really matter which one it is? I'd rather it were the pacifier actually. It's easier to carry around then a blanket.

Unsolicited Advice:
Apparently, I don't follow this one well, but here it is. You know your child better than anyone else. Always remember that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

If You Don't Go To Sleep Right Now...

Princess decided that she simply did not want to take her nap today. By the time we got home from babysitting and she'd eaten a delicious lunch of pb&j, it was 1pm. Definitely time for a nap, right? So I gave Princess her blanket and pacifier and laid her down in her crib with a good-night kiss. She didn't move at first, but then I left her room and sat down to finish my lunch. A tiny whimper reached my ears, then a louder one. Within a few minutes, she was screaming. Not crying, not yelling, but angry bloodcurdling screaming that came one after the other. After about 10 minutes of this, I marched into her room, checked her gums, her temperature, and everything else I could think of to make sure that there was nothing really wrong and quickly ascertained that she was throwing a major tantrum in an effort to skip her nap. I gave her a little swat on her diapered bottom and sternly told her that it was naptime and it was not negotiable. I tried to lay her back down in her crib, but she spit her pacifier at me rebelliously and tried to climb my arm to get out. I pried my arm out of her grasp and left the room to angry yells that soon turned into screams again. Within a few minutes, Princess was beyond angry. She was hysterical. I went back into her room and picked her up, knowing from experience that the only way to get through a tantrum this bad was to hold her close and tight and "shush" her until she calmed down. I finally managed to get her to stop screaming and tried once again to put her in her crib. She clung desperately to my neck and refused to let go. Finally, I gave in and sat down in the rocker to rock her to sleep. As she played with my hair, her fingers gradually slowed down until her hand hung in mid-air before dropping to her side. I realized then how much I miss being able to rock my baby girl to sleep. One of the great rewards of parenthood to me, is being able to hold your beautiful sleeping child and study all of their tiny perfect features. I thought about how just a few minutes earlier, I had been angry with her for throwing such a massive tantrum. Even though I had given her a spanking and was stern with her, she still wanted only one thing-me. Talk about humbling. I rocked her longer than I needed to, listening to her soft snores and holding her relaxed litle body close to me. And then I thanked God for the opportunity to rock my baby girl to sleep even if it did involve a temper tantrum.

Unsolicited Advice:
From the time Princess was a newborn, making a repeated "shushing" noise has always soothed her. Even now when she's 20 months old, I can still get her to relax by doing it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Raid the Fridge and Talk on the Phone All Night

Today I started my new job. I'm a babysitter. Yeah, I know that makes me sound like a teenager who's trying to make a few extra bucks to go to the prom, but it is actually a steady reliable job.

Let me preface this by explaining how weird my work schedule has been. Before the babysitting gig, I worked about 20 hours a week-10 at one part-time job and 10 at another. The first was two to three mornings a week housekeeping and cooking at a B&B, the other (which I still have) was 2 mornings a week at the public library. My new job babysitting 2 children, ages 1 and 3, four mornings a week basically replaces the B&B job in the winter. The kids' mom is a preschool teacher so I will be able to rejoin the staff at the B&B during the summer months when the mom is on summer vacation. To accomodate the babysitting job, I rearranged my hours at the library so that I work two afternoons a week which is when Princess will go to my sister's house to be watched. I feel bad because by taking the babysitting job, I cut my sister's hours in more than half. However, my main goal as a working mom has been to spend more time with Princess, and I get to take her with me when I babysit.

This morning when I arrived, Princess was apprehensive about her new surroundings for the first few minutes. Then she noticed toys...lots of toys that she had never played with before. She completely forgot I existed, and, because the other kids were still sleeping, she had the toys all to herself for a while. Her joy was made complete when she found out that there were 2 kitties in the house and she immediately forgot about the toys to chase the poor cats around for a while.

All in all, the first day went well. The 1 year old sneaked around the walls of the living room keeping one eye on me, the strange new person, for the first half hour, but after that he realized that I actually wasn't a threat and decided to accept me. The 3 year old had been prepared by her mom for a new babysitter who was going to bring a new friend to play with. She was enthused to meet Princess although she was a bit disappointed when Princess preferred playing with her little brother.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where's Your Hair?

Someone I know suggested I write about Princess's bad hair days/no hair days when she was younger. So here goes.

Hubby and I are both blonde. So, naturally we were a bit surprised when Princess entered this world with a brown fringe of hair that stretched from ear to ear on the back of her head making her look like she'd joined an obscure order of monks. Upon seeing Princess's brown hair, Hubby turned to me and asked me what color of hair the milkman had. Having just gone through 10 hours of labor and 1 1/2 hours of pushing, I was in no mood for jokes and set him straight without hesitation.

Within a few months, most of Princess's scant hair had fallen out leaving her with a few wisps here and there. She was officially bald. She stayed that way until she was about 9 months old when blonde hair finally began to appear on her scalp. When I took her out, complete strangers would approach me to coo over my baby only to ask me, "Where's her hair?" I tried to stay nonviolent in my reply but, after a while, I resorted to putting a hat on Princess whenever we left the house. My dear aunt found her a bib that read "Bald is Beautiful" and Princess wore it with pride until I was finally able to retire it for the joyous reason that it no longer told the truth. My younger sister nicknamed Princess, Cueball, and the only reason I did not kill her and bury her body in the backyard was because she's a free babysitter available almost anytime. To make matters worse, my older sister had a baby boy 6 weeks before I had Princess, and her son was blessed with a full head of curls from the day he was born. Whenever she teased me about how her boy had more hair than my girl, I threatened to shave Maximus's's head and turn his hair into a wig for Princess.

To make matters worse, at around 6 weeks, Princess developed cradle cap. Some babies never get this, some have it clear up right away, and some are like Princess. For about 3 months straight I battled severe, unsightly cradle cap day and night. I tried everything. The doctor told me to put baby oil on it and then comb the flaky scales off her scalp. I went through half a bottle of baby oil (and as most mothers can attest, baby oil is one of those baby products you can never use up) before realizing that it actually irritated Princess's sensitive scalp and made the situation worse. In desperation, I tried something new. I slathered her head with vaseline because I knew from experience that it is one of the most natural products a person can use on their skin. Then I pulled a pink cotton hat on Princess's head and left it on until the vaseline could soak in because I also knew from experience that vaseline is messy and leaves greasy stains. After a few hours, the hat came off and I combed the yellowish scales from her head. After repeating this for about 2 weeks, the cradle cap cleared up completely. For the next several months, I occasionally had to repeat the procedure for a day or two, but it always went away after that. At 20 months old, Princess has been cradle cap free for approximately a year.

Unsolicited Advice:
See above solution for cradle cap.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is It Toddlerhood or an Evil Plot to Take Over the World?

A thought struck me tonight as I was scraping a burnt candle wick out of Princess's mouth. Parenthood is strange. Hard, fun, exciting, rewarding, and strange.

I never thought I would see the day when I obsessed over another person's body functions the way I do with Princess. When she was a newborn, Hubby and I carefully noted each and every diaper and its contents. Now that's she's being potty trained, I cheer and reward her with an m&m each time she pees in the toilet and she gets a standing ovation when she poops in the toilet. And honestly, the phrases, "No, Honey. Don't play in your potty." and "Oh no! You dropped your m&m in the toilet! Let me get you another one." were things I never really saw myself saying.

Speaking of weird phrases, there are so many times that I say something to Princess only to find myself realizing how strange I would sound to another person. Some of my favorites so far:
"Princess, stop! Sheep don't go in the garbage!"
"Stop eating that candle."
"Why are there teeth marks in your shoes?"
"Why don't you go give Tigger a hug?"
"We don't lick the carpet, Honey."
"Take that cat food out of your mouth and give it back to the kitty."

I think parenthood is especially strange when you're the parent of a toddler. Princes's moods, likes and dislikes, and behaviors change from moment to moment. A food that she couldn't get enough of yesterday makes her scream in horror at the sight of today. She can be laughing hysterically at me making faces at her and then mid-laugh, will switch to a condescending frown that says, "How dumb do you think I am?" I've given up trying to figure out why Princess does the things she does, things like throwing the baby doll she'd been mothering so gently to the floor and stomping on its head or carrying a empty gatorade bottle around with her for two days straight.

I was at The Farm one evening for supper and Hubby's mother started putting some peas on Princess's high chair tray. I immediately told her not to bother because Princess couldn't stand peas and hadn't eaten them since she was about 6 months old. Before the words had left my mouth, Princess was shoveling the peas in her mouth like she couldn't get enough of them. My mother-in-law told me that when her kids were younger, and they inevitably proved her wrong when she made a statement about them, she would say, "I'm just the mom, what do I know?" How true.

Unsolicited Advice:
When Princess is balking at doing something like cleaning her toys up or giving me a few minutes to do some laundry, I have found that I can make her happy by asking her if she would help me. She's happy and busy for a few minutes and I get my way too!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Mommy, Why Is It Called Labor Day When All We Do Is Sit Around?"

For Labor Day, my favorite holiday, we went to Minnehaha Falls like we do every year. Generally, we meet family from both my mom's and dad's sides of the family there. We talk, watch the kids (there's three 1 year olds so a lot of attention is required, especially now that all three are walking/running!), jam with our instruments, listen to the bluegrass concerts playing at the grandstand in the park, and walk the trails down by the waterfall. It's something that I look forward to every year. Hubby did not join us this year as the weather was perfect for putting a roof on a house with his dad and brother. Which is what he did. My parents and little sister took their car to the Falls while my sister, her husband, and son Maximus hitched a ride with Princess and me. My sister's husband spent most of the day complaining how nice the weather was and, how if he were home, he could be getting a lot of work done. After 15 minutes of that, I was actually kind of glad that Hubby had opted to pound nails and work on a hot rooftop all day rather than come with us because I knew that he and my sister's Hubby would feed off of each other's misery in being forced to take a day to relax with the family.

The day was perfect. A cool breeze drifted through the air and we had our cookout on three of the highly coveted picnic tables that we had shown up for at 10:30 a.m. to reserve. After a highly nutritious lunch of hot dogs, chips, and cookies that was enjoyed by the three toddlers very much, we started tuning our instruments. My dad got out his banjo, I nabbed his fiddle since it's waaaaaay better than mine, my cousin rosined up her fiddle, my brother tuned his guitar, and my sister and mother shared a mandolin. After a few warmup songs, we were joined by another man with a guitar and a great repetoire of bluegrass songs. We had a great jam session while the adults who weren't playing an instrument or singing watched the kids. 14 month old Rose managed to literally roll in the dirt and was brown from head to toe while Maximus's dad futilely tried to get him to sleep before giving in and taking a nap himself while his son sat in his Looney Tunes stroller valiantly keeping his eyes wide open. My dear daughter fell asleep almost the minute I put her in her umbrella stroller and stayed that way for an hour and a half before being wakened by a very ripe diaper.

I do have one rant about the day. As we were jamming, a respectful looking black man (I would use the politically correct term of "African American," but I feel as if that's not fair to the rest of us who aren't labeled with our original nationalities. If I call him African American, then I would have to insist upon being called Scandinavian American.) came up to us and asked if we would like to do a good deed for the day. We hemmed and hawed as he launched into a sob story about needing $22 for bus fare on the Greyhound to get back home. I don't know if he was telling the truth or not and in our society today, I tend to lean toward skepticism. My dad answered him by telling him the truth about us-that most of our family was unemployed (the usual state of musicians) and the ones who did have jobs didn't make enough money to pay their own bills. The man walked away as soon as we turned him down, but as he did, everyone heard him mutter just loud enough so we could hear him, "I know. It's because I'm black." Here comes the ranting part of this inspirational story. I was infuriated when I heard him say that. I didn't care if he was black, white, or purple! The fact was that no one there had money to spare and what little money we did have we'd already used to pay for gas to get to Minnehaha Falls to spend time with family that day. I had exactly $6 in my wallet which needed to last me until the next payday in a week and a half. The man seemed respectable, at least until he made a racist comment as he walked away, and if I'd had some extra money, I may have been inclined to help him out, and I know the rest of my family felt the same way. To me, a person is a person, no matter what color their skin and it really irritates me when someone accuses me of being racist because I won't give him the money I need to buy groceries! It also annoys me when I hear white people being accused of keeping racism alive and well today because white people are not the only ones doing it!

Unsolicited Advice:
When we go to Minnehaha Falls or anywhere else for the whole day and I'm packing a cooler, I always throw an insulated sippy cup of milk in the freezer the night before. In the morning, I put it in the cooler with the rest of the food and take it out before Princess eats her meal so it can thaw just enough for her to drink some. By doing this, the milk lasts until her snack in the mid-afternoon because it's still cold.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What is That On the Wall?!?!

It's Friday and so far, the week has been...interesting. Monday morning started out okay since Louise decided to sleep in a little. After that though, things went downhill fast. I'm in the process of rearranging and organizing Princess's room which involves moving a lot of furniture. I was moving a plastic set of portable drawers filled with my abundant amounts of scrapbooking supplies which I really should use, but don't because I'm too lazy and would rather throw all my pictures and keepsakes in a box out. Lo and behold, but what should I find behind said plastic drawers? Lots of lovely grayish, greenish, creeping mold spreading across the wall behind it. Being dangerously allergic to mold, I grabbed Princess who was pulling the last few books of her bookshelves and ran screaming from the room, slamming the door behind me. Ok, I didn't actually run screaming. But I was quite horrified to say the least, especially when I realized that my precious little angel had been sleeping and playing in that mold infested bedroom. That evening, I called my father-in-law, a farmer, carpenter, and jack of all trades to come and fix it for me. As it was already past 10 pm, he promised to be there the next day.

At work the next day, I was bemoaning the discovery of mold in my house to a coworker, who asked me a question that immediately sent floods of guilt flowing through me.
"Does Princess get sick often?" he queried.
As I nodded, the realization that we may have found the cause for Princess's monthly bouts of colds and that I, as her mother, should have discovered the mold earlier and saved my child from countless runny noses and attacks of wheezing, hit me. If only I had motivated myself to rearranging Princess's room earlier! If only I had used my mother's intuition to "see" the mold growing behind the set of drawers. If only I had realized that running the vaporizer almost constantly in her room at nights because she was sick so often could encourage the spread of that mold. But I didn't. And in all reality, there really wasn't a way for me to have known. But I was still berating myself for my inattention when I left work to pick up Princess from my sister's house.

My father-in-law came to my house that afternoon, armed with a cleaning product that he said would kill mold. As Hubby and I stood around and watched helplessly, occasionally chasing Princess from the room although she wanted to play with Grandpa, Hubby's dad scrubbed the wall and the evil mold was removed. He cautioned us to keep the air circulating in Princess's room with the ceiling fan and to watch closely for signs that the mold was growing back which would indicate that it was not merely on the surface of the wall, but inside as well, which would require the removal of the drywall to remedy. It's Friday and although I scrutinize the wall with a flashlight several times a day, I haven't seen anything yet. Princess spent several nights in our room in her pack n' play while her room aired out. She slept great; Hubby and I were awakened by the constant kicking, turning over, scratching at the sides of the pack n' play and general tossing and turning of an active 19 month old.

Another wonderful thing occurred on Monday. My internet, which I rely on more than I should perhaps, went down. The landlady's modem had gone out and since we were getting wireless from her internet connection, our internet was sadly absent. As I write this, I am at home pecking away at the keyboard on my laptop as she installed a new modem today. But for the last four days, I have had to satisfy my appetite for Facebook, email, and all the other pointless things I waste my time on the computer with, at the public library. That wasn't exactly the best of situations. My mom is the head librarian at the library and I work as a substitute with 2 regular days a week (I know, I know. That screams nepotism, but truthfully, my mom didn't have much to do with me getting a job there), so Princess is quite familiar with the library. One would think that as the granddaughter of the librarian and the daughter of the library substitute, Princess would have the proper respect for the public library. Nope. Everytime, we go there, I try to teach her to stay in the children's area and play quietly while I accomplish what I came there to do, but when I am constantly chasing her down and leading her back into the children's area, it really cuts down on the quantity and quality of time I can spend on the internet. And of course, when she starts crying because I won't let her run wild, I can't just ignore her like I can at home when she is throwing a tantrum. The other library patrons start giving me dirty looks when Princess starts her whining and crying spiel for the fourth time in as many minutes and at that point, I usually beat a hasty retreat out the door, leaving my Facebook status midsentence.

I guess other than that, the week hasn't been too bad. The mold threw me for a loop and the not-working internet was an inconvenience. Besides those two things, the week's been pretty normal except for when Princess's favorite outdoor ball was discovered Wednesday afternoon lying beneath her slide. It had been the victim of a vicious deflating by a deranged raccoon or some other wild animal. She took it in stride however, and attempted to bounce it on the deck anyways, looking slighly puzzled when it just plopped on the ground looking like it had melted. But it is replaceable and I think we will recover easily from that last trauma.

Unsolicited Advice:
Uddercovers.com is having a promotional sale on nursing covers. Use the code charming2 at checkout and you get the nursing cover for the cost of shipping and handling which I believe, runs around $8.00. Pretty good deal for a $35 nursing cover!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Update On the Potty Training

A few posts ago, I wrote that we are beginning to potty train Princess. Here's an update on the process.

We are taking the relaxed approach to potty training since Princess is still so young. Periodically, I put her on the toilet and if she goes, she gets a few M&Ms. She prefers using a potty seat on the toilet to using the really cool potty chair I got her, but I'm okay with that because that means we don't have to carry a potty chair with us everywhere. 6 days after we started potty training, a lightbulb went on in her head and she realized that she could actually make herself go potty when she was on the toilet. This is great and means that she's aware of what she's supposed to be doing. Just last week, she also realized that going potty meant she got M&Ms. I had gotten her up from bed and she still had her pacifier in her mouth when I put her on the toilet. She peed in the toilet, handed me her pacifier and opened her mouth expectantly.

The next thing she needs to master in the potty training adventure is learning how to tell when she has to go and holding it until she can get to the toilet. No luck with this yet, but eventually I think it will just click and she'll figure it out. Several people told me that the reason she hadn't picked up on this yet was because I still had her in diapers instead of putting her in regular underwear. So I found some training underwear (training underwear is more expensive than MY underwear! Talk about ridiculous!) and made a big deal of showing them to her and telling her that she was a big girl because she could wear them instead of diapers. She seized the flowered underwear from my hand and vigorously smelled the flowers. I wrestled the underwear out of her hand and explained to her that yes, we do smell flowers, but we don't smell underwear. After ceremoniously tossing the diaper she was wearing while emphasizing that diapers are for babies, I put her in the underwear and let her loose to play. Princess played happily at the kitchen table while I washed dishes. Perhaps running water wasn't the best background noise. Before long, she came over to me asking if she could wash her hands as she always does when I have the water running. I picked her up and was rewarded with a wet shirt. She gave me a blank look as I told her how disappointed I was that she had gone potty in her big girl underwear. She didn't notice the wet underwear at all and wasn't fazed to be walking around that way. I figured that the first time wasn't that big of a deal and she'd get it. A day and 4 accidents later, I switched her back to diapers. She obviously didn't care if she was wet or not and I would usually realize she was wet only when I picked her up.

So for now, I will keep doing what I have been doing, but I don't have unrealistic expectations. We're laying the groundwork for the serious potty training which will probably occur after she turns two. If nothing else, I'm saving a few diapers this way.

Unsolicited Advice:
When starting potty training, it can be hard to convince your active child to stay put on the potty chair long enough for the potty training to work. I solved this problem by keeping a small basket in the bathroom stocked with special books and toys that Louise only gets to play with when she's sitting on the toilet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Procrastinators of America, Unite!

It's been over a week since I've written anything and I'm feeling vaguely guilty so here goes. I really shouldn't be on my computer at all right now. My laundry, while clean, is spread all over the house in various states of foldedness. My dishwasher is full of clean dishes that really should be put away in cupboards before we have to resort to using them directly from the dishwasher. My bills are accruing late fees as I write (I really should be writing checks, not a blog.) Princess is looking a little tanner than usual and could probably use a bath. The groceries I bought last Friday are covering my counters and kitchen table, but don't worry, I did find the motivation to put at least the perishables away. Toys are stashed and strewn from one end of the house to the other which means that I occasionally find a forlorn baby doll stuffed into my bedroom slipper or climb into bed to discover that I'm sharing it with a stack of board books. But yet here I am at my computer, trying desperately to ignore the chaos that surrounds me. It's getting to the point where I linger at my sister's house when picking up Princess after work, hoping that maybe my sister will either invite me to stay at her house indefinitely or spontaneously offer to come clean my house for me. Neither has happened yet and my nights are filled with dreams of housekeepers.
Just for the record, my house did not get so messy because I am lazy, although I definitely fit into that category. The last several weeks have been crazy busy. One weekend, we drove 6 hours one way to a nephew's birthday party, the next weekend, we took a day trip to my niece's birthday party. I had barely unpacked the suitcases from the first weekend away when we drove another 6 hours in the other direction for a visit with family. In between those crazy weekends, I was busy with extra hours at work and helped with Vacation Bible School at my church. By the way, keeping seven 1-3 year olds entertained and under control for 2 hours is a job I do not plan to volunteer for again next year. I also planned and threw a party for my dad's 50th birthday and started potty training Princess. On top of all that, I am encouraging and helping my sister organize and clean out her house (her hubby is a packrat) so that she and I can open a daycare there.
I just realized that I, the Queen of Procrastination, haven't fed my own child supper yet and the clock is steadily ticking towards 7:00 pm. While Princess is quite happy playing with her baby dolls right now, I should probably be a good mother and feed her.

Unsolicited Advice:
Don't bite off more than you can chew!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do You Have to go Potty?

As of Monday, August 3rd, we are officially potty training Princess. She is 18 months old and obviously aware of her bodily functions. So, I've swallowed my apprehension and let my landlady know that I will be using the washing machine a little more frequently for a while.

When Princess was still a tiny baby, my sister-in-law told me that she started putting her son on the potty chair before he was six months old and by the time he was two and a half, he was completely potty trained. Without realizing that this particular technique required a parent to potty train their child for at least two years before claiming success, I trotted on over to Babies R' Us and purchased a Baby Bjorn infant potty chair. When I got home, I stripped Princess down to her onesie and set her on the potty chair. She thought it was great fun and obliged me by peeing in her potty chair. I was thrilled and began imagining not having diapers on my grocery bill in a few short months. Then reality set in. My sister wasn't quite as enthusiastic as I was and, although she promised to put Princess on the potty chair throughout the day while I was at work, I knew she would forget. Before long, I was tired of having to unsnap onesies, remove diapers, and hold Princess on the potty chair countless times a day, especially when it became clear that when she peed in the potty chair the first time I put her on it, she had done it to give me a false sense of security. So I put the Baby Bjorn in the closet and reminded myself how much I loved changing diapers.

Now at 18 months of age, it's time to begin potty training Princess again. I'm not going to stress about it though; if she's not getting the idea after a few weeks, we'll take a break and try it again when she gets older. When she woke up on Monday morning, I put Princess on her potty chair and she let loose with a stream of you-know-what. I praised her as if she had just been elected President of the United States and rewarded her with a blue M&M. Then I took her off the potty chair to show her her accomplishment. She was very proud of herself and decided to celebrate by swishing her hands in her handiwork. I decided that that would be a good time to show her how to wash her hands. After that, we ceremoniously flushed the contents of the potty chair down the toilet.

Because disposable diapers are so absorbent (which is a quality I've always appreciated about them), I borrowed some cloth diapers from my sister to use during the early days (or weeks or months) of potty training so that Princess can actually feel when she is wet and hopefully develop an aversion to that sensation. I still plan on using disposables during naptime and bedtime. I'm not quite ready to tackle nighttime training yet. On that subject however, I was pleasantly surprised when I woke Princess this morning. I took her diaper off and found it completely dry. This has happened before and I'm aware that, unless she had a lot to drink shortly before bed, she doesn't fill her diaper until the morning hours. I'm hoping that this is an indication that nighttime potty training will be a breeze.

My plan for potty training is that Princess will be completely potty trained in a few weeks (cue snickers of disbelief from more experienced parents). She hasn't said anything about it yet, but I have a feeling that Princess may not have the same plan. I'm hoping we can compromise and come up with a workable solution.

Unsolicited Advice:
I know I should probably give some advice about potty training since it would go well with this post, but I'd rather receive advice about that subject at this point.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happy Birthday and a Half

As of last week, Princcess is 18 months old. To me, that seems like another milestone age. I remember when she was a tiny baby (*sniff*), and toddlers seemed so big and scary to me with the potential to hurt my fragile newborn. I now have one of those destructive, opinionated, energetic toddlers. I'm wondering how I'll react when I have another baby. Will I stop perceiving Princess as my baby and start to see her as the older child whom the baby needs protection from? I guess I'll see when I get there, but for the record, "there" will not arrive until I can convince Hubby about having another one.

One of the best parts of Princess being 18 months old is that, just as the child development books predicted (you know, the ones that have all the wisdom in the world to impart to parents about raising their children and are never wrong), she is retesting all the limits we've set for her and pushing them to new extremes. Along with pushing the limits, she's also happily pushing Mommy into insanity.

Princess has never been allowed near my laptop. I had finally trained her not to climb up on the chair at the computer desk last month. Last week, however, I caught her by the computer once again. This time, she wasn't sitting on the chair pecking away at the keyboard and exlaiming joyously whenever she managed to make the laptop "do" something. Instead, she had used the chair as a springboard for climbing onto the desk. When I found her, she was calmly sitting on the closed laptop testing my ballpoint pens on a paystub I hadn't filed yet to see if the ink was dried up. I firmly reprimanded her and left the room to finish putting last month's clean laundry away. When I returned she greeted me with a cheerful grin from atop the computer once more. After the sixth time of repeating this scenario, I resorted to the same measure I had used to keep her from climbing on the chair over a month ago. I turned the chair over on the floor and resigned myself to guests asking me if I knew my computer chair had tipped over.

On Saturday night, it was agreed that, since Hubby and I both had to work early the next morning, Princess would spend the night at his parent's house just down the road from us. I foolishly decided to feed her supper before taking her down to The Farm for the night. Around 6 o'clock, her usual suppertime, I asked Louise if she would like to eat. She enthusiastically started signing "eat" repeatedly (she knows some sign language) and rushed into the kitchen giggling. I seated her in the high chair and began to fill her blue plastic plate with sweet potatoes and ham (two of her favorite foods). As soon as I turned around to put the plate on the high chair tray, chaos broke out. I could practically see the unspoken words floating above Princess's head. "I didn't order that." I assured her that I was far too underpaid to run a restaurant for her benefit, especially since she is a notoriously bad tipper. A screaming tantrum ensued as she attempted to fling her plate and its contents across the kitchen. I rescued it just before it went airborne and, sensing somehow that my hysterical daughter was not going to eat the food I had so lovingly prepared for her (all it really took was a can opener and a microwave, but that's not the point), covered it with plastic wrap and stashed it in the fridge. I calmly removed Princess from the high chair, which was not an easy task as she was now flailing about wildly and screaming at the top of her lungs. We went out to the living room (one of us willingly, the other not so much) where I placed her on the floor away from anything that could hurt her or that she could hurt. Then, picking up a book, I sat on the couch and "ignored" the massive tantrum taking place several feet away from me. When her screams had finally subsided to pitiful sobs, she got up and came over to me. Giving me a big hug, she pointed hopefully to the kitchen and signed "eat" once again. Triumphant that she had given in so easily (in less than an hour), I took her back to the kitchen and warmed up her plate of food. However, it turned out that she too assumed she'd won the battle. This time, when she started shrieking angrily, I bypassed the living room and dumped her unceremoniously in her crib to wait out the tantrum. When all I could hear from her room were sad sniffles and a tiny heartbreaking voice calling, "Mama, Mama." I retrieved my tear-stained daughter from her crib and gave her a big hug and a kiss before cautiously returning to the battle scene-the kitchen. As it turned out, she still wasn't planning to eat the food I gave her. After an hour of screaming, tears, hugs, kisses, and sudden outbursts, it was finally over. I wiped the last of her tears from her cheeks as I spooned ham and sweet potatoes into her wide open mouth. She had worked up quite an appetite in the last hour and when she had finished her supper, I gave her two whole wheat crackers. She clutched the crackers in her hand and requested that I take her out of her high chair so she could go play while she finished her supper. I refused which lead to more tantrums. This time, she relented in half the time. Hubby arrived home from work as Princess was finishing her crackers (at the table!). Taking in her tear-stained cheeks, red drippy nose, and general look of discontent on Princess's face, he naively asked, "Has she been crying?" Up until that point, I had kept my cool and hadn't lost my temper even when I was removing a thrashing Princess from her high chair for the fifth time. It took Hubby exactly 3.8 seconds to learn how stressful the last hour and a half had been for me and Princess, after which he didn't ask any more questions.

Unsolicited Advice:
It can be extremely difficult to hold your ground and not give in when your child is demanding something. It may be easier to give in and stop the tantrum, but in the long run, it'll pay for you to stand strong. If you give in one time to your child, he or she will continue to test you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer

Actually, I lied in the title for this post. This summer has been surprisingly cool. When we went to Wisconsin last weekend, I had to bring sweatshirts and jackets for everyone which I usually don't even think of packing for a trip in mid-July. But I'm not complaining. I've never been a big fan of sweating profusely. In fact, I moved out of my parents' house when I was 17, not because I wasn't getting along with them, but because my best friend had invited me to move in with her family and they had central air while my parents' house was poorly equipped with a small window air conditioner.

The summer I was pregnant was great. Everyone told me how hot I was going to be, but I was freezing the whole time I was pregnant and never really got much use out of my summer maternity clothes. In fact, every time I complain about being cold now (which is often) Hubby asks me if there's some news I'm keeping from him.

When I was around 3 months pregnant, we moved into the basement apartment of a friend from church. The back half of the apartment is built into a hill, but in the front we have a huge covered porch. Anyways, the lady upstairs is always warm, and so she turns down the central air until she's comfortable. However, as we all learned in science class, hot air rises. Therefore, on top of the basement being naturally cooler since it's built into the hill and geting absolutely no direct sunlight due to the covered wraparound porch, when it's cool enough upstairs it is frigid downstairs. It's typical for most people to add a layer or two when they venture outdoors in the winter and shed a layer (hopefully not two!) in the summer whether they be indoors or out. Not us. Due to the glacial temperature in my house, I vastly underestimate the outside temperature when selecting clothes for myself and Princess in the morning. When we go outside, I'm always surprised at just how hot and muggy it is and find myself hastily shedding layers or going back inside to change from long sleeves to short. Princess's summer wardrobe of adorable sunsuits and shorts has gone untouched for most of the summer because even when it's warm enough to wear them outside, it's not warm enough inside. Sweaters and sweatshirts the standard uniform in my house.

I am definitely enjoying summer and dreading winter. I love that Princess can play outside this year. Last summer, she was using the army crawl as her main method of travel, and that wasn't exactly conducive to being outside on the rough cement or in the stain-producing grass. Winter is nice for about the first week. After that, bundling up in 18 layers to go outside, driving through near-blizzard conditions to get to work, testing the car brakes on the 4 inches of ice covering the road, and dealing with weekly frostbite all become a tad annoying. Minnesota is not a good place to live if you don't care for driving on treacherous roads. However, summer isn't much better in that aspect because of the relentless road construction. Like they say around here, "There are only 2 seasons in Minnesota. Winter and Road Construction."

Unsolicited Advice:
Even in the middle of summer, the weather can still turn cool in the evening. I always keep a spare sweater in the car for Louise just in case.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Happy Birthday to You! (And You!)

It's been a while since I've written anything here. We've been really busy with birthday parties. Last weekend was my niece, Rose's 1st birthday. Hubby had to work, but I packed up Princess's diaper bag and hit the road with my parents, younger sister, older sister, her husband and their son, Maximus for the 3 hour trip.

We accidentally decided to take the scenic route to the party, but we made it in plenty of time anyways. Rose was an adorable 1 year old and seemed not to mind the loads of attention lavished on her or the mountain of gifts that awaited her. As my brother, the birthday girl's daddy, tried to feed Rose a piece of her Sesame Street themed cake without making too much of a mess, my younger sister stood behind him to take advantage of a 1 year old's natural propensity for imitation. Before he knew what had hit him, Rose had smeared bright blue and red frosting all over her face, in her hair and, yes, even in her ears. Snickering relatives were close by to catch the moment on tape as her parents groaned at the mess and went to run a bath. Someone apparently forgot to warn them that it's tradition to get the birthday boy or girl as messy as possible on their 1st birthday. When Princess turned one, I prepared for the cake portion of her party by covering the floor under her high chair with a plastic tablecloth, handing out protective gowns to the unfortunates who happened to be in the vicinity of her high chair, and stripping her down to her diaper. And then, when her eyes had glazed over in a sugar coma, I gingerly extracted my now chocolate covered daughter out of her high chair and finished the party with the birthday girl in the tub.

A week later, we hit the road again. This time, our travel time was doubled to 6 hours. My nephew on my husband's side was turning 5 and like usual, we spent the weekend. We left on Friday exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes after our projected departure time. When I say we, I mean me and Hubby, Princess, Hubby's parents, younger sister, older brother with his wife and 2 children, the birthday boy and his younger brother. The two boys had spend the week with Grandma and Grandpa at The Farm and we were returning them to their parents in Wisconsin. Because there were so many of us, we took 2 vehicles. The three boys and Princess rode in the van with three of the adults. I rode in the tahoe with the remainder of the adults and my 9-month-old niece who kindly obliged us by sleeping for most of the trip or playing happily with her toys. The trip out was uneventful and we arrived just in time for supper with five hungry, fidgety children. We celebrated my nephew's birthday that evening and then crashed wherever we could find room. I ended up sharing a room with Hubby, Princess, and my sister-in-law.

The next day we went to a nearby park with a photographer to have family pictures taken. The last time Hubby's family had a family picture taken, I wasn't a member of the family yet and there were only 8 people. This time, there were 15 people for the hapless photographer to work with.

The rest of the day was spent fighting over a coveted spot on the couch as all 15 of us spent quality time together at home. The next day, we experienced a Sunday miracle as nine adults and six children got out of bed, showered or bathed, got dressed, ate breakfast, and were all out the door in time for church at 9 am. After a quick lunch of grilled hamburgers at home, we packed our bags and headed back to Minnesota. The six hour drive home went pretty well although Princess did get a tad cranky during the last three hours, but her incessant whining and tantrums didn't bother me at all for the primary reason that she was in the van again while I rode in the tahoe.

Unsolicited Advice:
When packing for a long trip, splurge and buy some disposable bibs so you don't have to bring a bagful of dirty sticky bibs home with you again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down!

I knew before I even got to the door, that things weren't as innocent as they seemed.

With much begging and the substantial use of sad-puppy-dog eyes from Princess, I had finally relented and let her go outside on the porch to play. Because our porch is so large, our yard is so huge, and the road is such a long ways from our house, I feel comfortable allowing Princess to play outside by herself.  I, of course, surreptitiously check on her from a window or door every few minutes to be sure that she isn't getting into any trouble. She doesn't mind this arrangement at all and will often come to the sliding glass door, knock to get my attention, and wave enthusiastically before going back to playing.

Today, I was busy online, researching a project I'm currently working on for a job. I could hear Princess's pounding footsteps running energetically from one side of the porch to the other and her high pitched giggle which I'm assuming was directed at the (annoyed) cat as usual. Therefore, I knew she was still safely on the porch. What I forgot, though, was that the tabletop charcoal grill we'd borrowed from my sister before my husband got around to assembling ours had not been returned yet and sat unobtrusively by the porch steps. This did not escape Princess's attention. When I finally tore myself away from my research for a few minutes to check on Princess from the front door, I had an odd feeling. Everything sounded normal outside, but somehow I knew it wasn't. The view that met my eyes when I opened the front door, was ashes everywhere, burnt up charcoal briquettes scattered around the porch, Princess's new pink camo hat laying upside down on the porch full of ashes, and a very dusty toddler. She had even included the cat in the fun by filling the cat's food bowl with handfuls of ashes and covering the (very annoyed) cat itself with more ashes. The grill lay disassembled with the cover over in the corner, the grate leaning precariously on the porch steps, while the grill itself, almost emptied of the ashes and charcoal briquettes that had filled it before, stood in gray dusty wonder in the midst of the carnage.

I stopped dead in the doorway, surveying the mess in astonishment while Princess, instantly realizing that there was a good possibility she would be blamed for it, pointed to the cat who was trying desperately to lick itself clean and said, "Uh-oh!" After a moment spent formulating a battle plan, I sprang into action. I brought a damp handtowel outside and wiped Princess down as much as I could, before taking her inside to the bathroom to strip her off her ashy t-shirt and khaki pants and hose her down in the tub. This done, I pulled a purple flowered dress over her head and let her loose to play inside while I attacked the mess on the porch. The first order of business was to pick up all the briquettes and place them back into the grill which I then reassembled. Then the cat was dusted off and her food bowl emptied of its unappetizing contents. I located my outdoor broom and swept the worst of the mess off the porch and into the yard, giving the grass the appearance of a recent minor volcanic eruption. Having learned my lesson, I popped inside to check on Princess who ignored me as she pulled all of her toys off the shelf where they had reposed for all of 28 minutes. Next, I filled several empty ice cream buckets with water and washed the remaining ash off the porch. The cat eyed me stonily from the corner of the porch where it had run for protection and was now trapped by numerous puddles. I moved it to the grass where it continued to lick the ash off its fur with an injured glare shot in my direction periodically. Satisfied that everything outside was clean enough until the next rainfall washed it even more, I headed back inside to feed my daughter lunch.

Unsolicited Advice:
To keep Princess occupied and happy for extended periods of time on hot summer days, I fill a clean ice cream bucket with water, give her a pastry brush and a few measuring cups and let her enjoy it out on the porch. She needs dry clothes when she's finished, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

You Can't Dodge the Bullet Forever...or Very Long At All Apparently

My niece and nephew seem to get pinkeye on a regular basis. It probably has to do with their mom running a home daycare. You know how kids are...they hate sharing unless it's a germ. I've been very thankful that at the age of 17 months, Princess had dodged the bullet thus far. However, this morning when I got her up and laid her on the changing table to change her diaper, I realized that we've been shot. She'd been sharing toys with her two cousins all weekend and on Monday, they both came down with pinkeye. It took exactly 2 days for it to hit Princess.

As soon as I wiped most of the goop of Princess's eye, I called my sister-in-law to find out what to do about pinkeye. She recommended a few easy steps--take Princess to the doctor to get a prescription, wash all of her bedding, disinfect her 732 toys, wash my hands frequently, don't touch my face, be very careful because it's highly contagious, and keep her away from other people for at least 24 hours, especially her kids as she didn't want them reinfected. Yeah. That sounds easy. I managed to get Princess an apointment at one pm with her pediatrician and called my boss to say that I wouldn't be making it in to work this morning. Then I called my sister, the one who babysits Princess while I'm working, and as soon as the word "pinkeye" slipped out of my mouth, she told me she'd see me in a few days and hung up.

After washing my hands 27 times this morning, it was finally time to go to the doctor. We checked in at the desk and hunkered down in the empty waiting room. Princess stood on a chair to watch the traffic go by outside since I wouldn't let her touch any toys in the waiting room (I didn't want to be the mom responsible for the pinkeye breakout of 2009). At one point, she looked at me, said "Uh oh!" and then I heard a squirting noise that sounded suspiciously like diarrhea. Oh joy. The receptionist behind the desk politely tried to ignore the disgusting sounds of my daughter filling her diaper with you know what and I tried to pretend I didn't know the cute kid sitting next to me with the pink bow in her hair and the pungent smell emanating from her backside.

Once the nurse called Princess's name and we were in the exam room, I quickly tried to change the diaper before it spilled out the sides requiring me to get creative with Princess's outfit since I hadn't brought a spare (Mom Mistake #4 "We won't be gone long, she doesn't need extra clothes.") Red in the face, I inquired as to the proper way to dispose of the diaper since it would smell up the exam room if I threw it away in there. The nurse very nicely wrapped it up in about 13 layers of paper from the exam table and whisked it away.

The doctor made a brief but memorable appearance and diagnosed Princess with pinkeye before leaving to call in a prescription for eye ointment. I was kind of hoping for eye drops, but the doctor said it would be easier to use the ointment since the eye drops sting. I'm a bit, okay extremely, squeamish about the idea of sticking my finger in my kid's eye to apply ointment, but being a mom, I took a deep breath and did it anyways for the greater good. Or whatever you want to call it.

Unsolicited Advice:
To apply eye drops in a child's eye, ask the child (or tell them since asking implies they have a choice) to lay down and close their eyes like they're sleeping. When their eyes are closed, drop the medicine in the inside corner of their eyes, tell them to open up, and voila! Eye drops are done.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July! I know we did.

In the morning, Hubby went down to The Farm (his dad's farm which he and his brother help run. The Farm, which includes a hog operation, is conveniently located about 1/4 of a mile down the road from my house) to work on...something involving a tractor or a cow, I believe. He probably told me, but he always tells me while I'm changing a blowout diaper or asleep. Anyways, after a morning nap for Princess and a nutritious lunch of good-ole PB&J for both of us, Princess and I joined the rest of the family (Hubby's parents, sister, brother and his wife and 2 children) at The Farm so we could carpool to the Fourth of July parade in a nearby town. Living in a rural area, the parade tends to be kind of a big deal, so we arrived early enough to get good seats. Actually, we arrived so early that we ended up using those seats, aka. a blanket thrown on the curb, for a good 1 1/2 hours before the parade started. I was anticipating desperate attempts at freedom from Princess while we waited, but she was surprisingly patient. When the parade finally started at 20 minutes after the appointed time, Princess was enthralled. I would like to point out to you that this is her 3rd parade this summer alone. And believe me, she knows exactly what to do. Every time a float went by, she'd wave enthusiastically, turning up the cute factor a few notches so that several handfuls of candy would come flying our way. She and her 3 year old cousin, gamely shared their loot with the babies sitting with their parents on either side of our family's blanket/seats. This thrilled me for several reasons, one of which was that Princess was sharing for once and the second reason was because that meant we would be taking home less candy. I was secretly praising one float rider's aim after the family next to us was tossed a few freezees and were now struggling with several gooey children when Hubby's cousin happened by a few floats later, spotted relatives, and threw over a dozen sweating, sticky freezees at my daughter and nephew. I heard an indignant cry of "Hey, they got more than us!" emit from the thoroughly sugared-up preschooler beside me and glanced over to catch the exhausted mother cast a smug look our way as she replied brightly, "That's okay, Honey. Maybe they need them more than we do"

After the parade, we packed up our belongings which seemed to have strangely multiplied in the last 2 1/2 hours. In my hurry to get Princess out the door after she woke from her nap, I'd forgotten to pack an extra outfit in the diaper bag and, since she was now dyed blue from a freezee that had turned out to have a hole in the bottom, I had to stop back home and get her something else to wear. This was no easy feat as I wanted to dress her in red for Independence Day and 98.4% of her wardrobe is pink. I managed to scrounge up a red Carebears dress and we headed back down to The Farm to hang out until the picnic that evening. The pastor of our church and his wife had been invited as well as a few other families we knew from church which included my parents, younger sister, older sister, husband, and son, Maximus. Maximus hadn't really been outside on a farm before and he was completely captivated by the cows. The fact that they were 18 times his size didn't faze him a bit while Princess, having been around them since she was a newborn is still a bit apprehensive if the "Moos" get too close. Will, however, couldn't get enough of the cows and, he made that point by attempting to pick up a cowpie. His mother was not impressed and I was even less impressed when Princess, who has always kept her distance from the various animal waste at The Farm, decided to imitate her cousin.

After the picnic, Hubby and I decided to make sure our daughter received every Independence Day blessing available by finishing the day watching the fireworks. Unfortunately, we were a bit late in leaving and ended up watching the fireworks from 15 miles away parked by the side of the road. Lit by the van's blinking hazard lights, we oohed and aahed over each burst of color in the dark sky and strained our ears to hear the sonic booms that traditionally accompany fireworks. Princess had had a long day and a short nap and compensated for that by sleeping on Grandma's shoulder instead of watching the fireworks we had made her stay up for. But we're in the process of creating memories and when she gets older, we can tell her that we took her to the fireworks every Fourth of July.

Unsolicited Advice:
Rather than making several trips to the kitchen to fill bowls of condiments for a picnic, put your sauces and toppings in one convenient place: an aluminum muffin tin. Line the tray with foil muffin cups and fill. Post-party, toss the cups for easy cleanup.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sleep Issues? Not An Issue.

I am constantly reminded of what a unique child I have when it comes to sleep. Sometimes if I forget and take Princess's exceptional sleeping habits for granted, a sleep-deprived and sometimes bitter mother will take it upon herself to remind me that I could be "blessed" with a child like hers who hasn't slept for more than 56 minutes at a time since birth and refuses to take that sleep in the crib so lovingly (and optimisticly) bought and assembled for him or her before birth.

Tonight, I sat on the couch reading a book while Princess played nearby, not with one of the dozens of entertaining, educational toys she has acquired in her 17 months of life, but with the drab, unexciting drink coasters that she had once again stolen from off the coffee table. It was 7:30 and bedtime was looming on the horizon. Suddenly, she threw the coasters to the floor with an exasperated yell and marched her tiny heinie out of the room. I didn't think much of it as toddlers are often known to engage in bizarre behaviors with absolutely no explanation involved. However, a minute later she came back with the pacifier from her crib in her mouth. Now, she is not allowed to have a pacifier unless she is going to sleep, and she has followed this rule splendidly ever since I caught her snitching her crib pacifier and promptly put her back into her crib for a second nap that afternoon. She didn't sleep, but she definitely got the message, and she hasn't attempted another pacifier robbery since then. Anyway, Princess came back into the living room with the pacifier in her mouth, grabbed my hand and insistently tried to pull me up off the couch (not an easy task as The Hubby will tell you.) The minute I stood up, she took off running down the hallway to her room motioning for me to follow. When we arrived in her room, she stood beside her crib, held her tiny arms above her head, and used the universal baby language (grunting insistently) to tell me she wanted up in her crib. If she had been able to climb into her crib herself, I believe she would've done so and, I would've found her there asleep when I went to find out why she was being so quiet.

Unsolicited Advice:
When Princess was a newborn, she would fall asleep easily in my arms only to wake up the moment her body touched the crib mattress. To lull her back to sleep without picking her back up, I would lay my hand on her chest so she could feel the warmth and then slowly pull it away after she was asleep.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Breathe...Yeah Right

I've had asthma my whole life. And I'm not talking about a little wheezing when I run a marathon, I'm talking about not walking from one room in my house to another without my trusty inhaler. I'm talking about the being-allergic-to-everything-that-grows-outside-or-inside, having-an-asthma-attack-because-of-the-weather-no-matter-what-it-is, and occasionally on-death's-door type of asthma. Not fun. But all that pales in comparison to the fact that Princess has asthma too. I don't know if she has asphyixic asthma (where your lungs spontaneously close up for no reason, leaving you to turn blue and gasp for oxygen like a fish out of water) like me or if she has severe allergies to go with it. But that doesn't matter. The point is that I passed on the gene for asthma to my little girl. I can't bear the thought that she will probably grow up unable to run and play with other kids or go anywhere without her "rescue inhaler" or even have a common cold without it causing serious breathing problems. And it's because of me. When I was younger, I often thought about adopting children instead of taking the risk of giving birth to children who would spend most of their lives on the sidelines unable to breathe because of a disease I passed on to them. But after I got married, the desire to have a child with my husband and the high cost of adoption overcame my rationality and now I have my beautiful daughter.

Princess has yet another cold right now. She gets, on average, one a month. The warm mist vaporizer has become another piece of decor in her room and I always have a stash of lotion tissue on hand to wipe her tiny red nose. Runny noses are an everyday occurence in my house. Yes, I understand that most children her age get a lot of colds. I've mostly ignored the comments from people that it seems as if Princess is sick all the time. But when my sister, who has a little boy only six weeks older than Princess and who spends time almost every day with her, mentioned that her son has only had 2 colds this year while Princess is on her 6th or 7th, I had to admit that in the back of my mind, I began to wonder if Princess's ability to read a book about a cold virus and somehow contract said virus is really normal. This will go on my list of questions to ask the doctor that I will inevitably leave lying on my kitchen table when Princess and I head out the door to the pediatrician. But I digress.

Each time Princess gets a cold, her asthma becomes more evident. We haven't had an official diagnosis since it's next to impossible to convince a toddler to "blow out the birthday candles on the computer screen really fast and hard." (A reference to a diagnostic test that any asthmatic or parent of an asthmatic is familiar with) However, having had asthma since I was old enough to breathe, I know an asthmatic cough and wheeze when I hear one. It absolutely breaks my heart to watch Princess's tiny chest heave as she tries to breathe normally. I've learned how to give her a nebtreatment which was not an easy feat as she has a morbid fear of anything that makes a sound similar to a vacuum cleaner and doesn't particularly care for having a mask the size of her head placed over her mouth and nose. But we've succeeded with the help of the beloved pacifier and lots of loud annoying kids' movies. Just today, I saw her playing with a baby doll over by the nebulizer. Princess was panting from lack of oxygen, but she was giving her baby a "nebtreatment". Isn't that precious? Just what every mother wants their child to learn. At least she doesn't cry while giving her "baby" a nebtreatment like I inevitably do.

Unsolicited Advice:
To help Princess when she's hacking away so hard she can't sleep, I give her a teaspoon of corn syrup which helps her coughing. You can use honey for this too, but make sure you NEVER give it to a baby under the age of one because there's a risk of botulism.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Let's All Go To the Zoo!

We went to the zoo yesterday. There's a free zoo a few hours from our house so I decided that we had to plan a trip this summer.

Okay, see if you can keep this all straight. My mom, my older sister (Lelia) and her 18 month old son (Maximus), my younger sister (Squirt), Princess, and I drove to the zoo and met my younger brother, his wife, their 11 month old daughter, and my youngest brother there. So in all, there were 7 adults and 3 children under the age of 2.

We had a lot of fun. We brought my sister's double stroller for Princess and Maximus , but we also brought their safety harnesses so they could walk if they wanted to. I was a little worried about people frowning on us using safety harnesses for the kids, but we actually got a lot of compliments on them. Well, except for my younger sister. As I was strapping Princess's monkey backpack harness on her, Squirt looked horrified. "You mean you're putting a leash on her? You're going to scar her for life!"

I pointed out to her that at least this way, I didn't have to worry about Princess disappearing in the crowd while I was blinking and besides, my older sister and I used to put a child's safety harness on Squirt and pretend she was our puppy and she turned out okay. I knew as soon as I said it, that that may not have been the best argument for me to use to make my point, but hey, when she has a toddler who could probably give Nascar a run for its money, she'll have no problem putting a "leash" on her kid either.

Anyway, we had a ton of fun seeing all of the animals, but the definite favorite of the kids were the fish and the monkeys. They thought the zebras, giraffes, and lions were cool and they seemed to enjoy the tropical forest, too. The staff at the zoo were all really nice too. When we were all still there at 5 minutes after closing, they showed us exactly where the exits were.

Unsolicited Advice:
If you have a little girl, chances are that you have a ton of headbands, hair ribbons, barrettes, etc. Hang an over-the-door shoe organizer on your daughter's door and organize her hair stuff in it. If you're lucky, she might leave it all in there for a day or two before spreading it around the house again.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ketchup Is My New Best Friend

Eating. Should be simple, right? You put the food in your mouth, chew, swallow, and move on. It used to be that way. Until Princess.

First there was breastfeeding. That was an issue right from the start. I'd sit down with her to nurse her and it would end with her just as hungry as before, both of us crying, and milk everywhere.  It wasn't pretty. At first, I pumped with the hospital pump we rented. However, the first weekend after her birth was spent at my in-laws house. I'm naturally a very private person so nursing and pumping had to be done in a room with a door that shut tightly and no admittance to anyone besides my husband. As you know, newborns eat every 27 minutes or so, so I pretty much spent Princess's first months, hidden away from view and isolated from human contact. Anyways, at my in-laws, she absolutely wouldn't nurse, so I would valiantly try, sobbing, for half an hour before passing her off to eager relatives while I pumped her next meal. Wouldn't you know that the pump decided to make its presence known that weekend by squealing so loudly each time the "arm" pulled back that pigs half a mile away answered back. It was a traumatizing experience as I sat in the "good" living room alone with the door closed listening to everybody wonder what that horrible noise was in the next room. I returned the pump on Monday and swore never to pump again. Thankfully, my sister-in-law rescued me by giving me a handy little silicone nipple-like thingamajig that helps babies latch on. If it weren't for that, Princess would've been bottle fed from a week on.

We survived the early days (more like months) of breastfeeding and things were finally starting to go smoothly when we began transitioning to solid foods. Instead of just lifting my shirt and feeding her until she fell off, sated, I now had to figure out what to feed her and how much. I wrote feeding schedules for the first several months of that and passed them on to my sister (who babysits for me while I'm at work), my mother, my mother-in-law, the mailman, and anyone else who came in contact with Princess during a mealtime. Most of them rolled their eyes and tossed the schedule as soon as I was out of sight, but it was so complicated to me, that without the schedule taped to the kitchen table beside Princess's high chair, I was clueless as to what to feed her. Does she get fruit for this meal, or vegetables? Am I making enough cereal? Do I use juice or formula to mix up her cereal at this meal? Yes, I made it more complicated than it needed to be, but that's the way I am. If it's easy, I must be doing it wrong.

Every time I figured out what to feed her and how much, she would either have a growth spurt or be ready to start another type of food. Pureed meats took me a whole week and a half to figure out.

Fast forward to present day toddlerhood. Once I finally got her feeding herself solid foods, I thought I had it pretty easy. Yeah, right. She ate well for a few months, just to lull me into a sense of complacency. I didn't anticipate the way toddlers refuse to eat more than a breadcrumb one day and then gobble down the whole family dinner the next day. Or the way Princess couldn't get enough of sweet peas and ham yesterday, but tries to climb out of her high chair to escape eating the same thing today. I'm a waste not, want not kind of person, but since Princess started eating solid foods, I've thrown out enough food to fill my bathtub...twice. Since Princess is off-the-charts tiny, her pediatrician keeps telling me that I HAVE to get her to eat. I'm seriously considering dropping her off at the pediatrician's doorstep and saying, "Have fun." before leaving to eat a meal where no food is airborne, and no one leaves the table wearing most of their dinner in their hair.

Enter ketchup, my new hero. I remember chuckling at my 2 year old nephew a few years ago when he wouldn't eat anything without ketchup. I never thought that one day, I too would be relying on ketchup to convince my toddler to eat. Out of desperation one day, I squirted some ketchup on Princess's plate and showed her how to dip her food in it. To my surprise and slight dismay, it worked. It worked the next day and the next day and the next. However, her favorite way to eat it is like pudding, dipped up by the spoonful and headed straight for her mouth without the traditional carrier food. So, at a typical meal, she's eating it with her toddler spoon and in between bites, I'm shoveling as many carrots as I can into her mouth before she realizes she's eating them. I tried squirting the ketchup all over her food, but she will only accept it as long as it's in a mountainous mass not touching any of the food on her plate. The magic words to convince Princess to take a bite of food in my house are not, "Open up, please!" or "No dessert if you don't eat your vegetables." or "Eat your food or Mommy's going to have a coronary." Nope. The magic words are, "Look! There's ketchup on your cereal!" So to keep the peace for now, I'm going to keep telling myself that ketchup is made of tomatoes and therefore counts as a vegetable.

Unsolicited Advice:
Use a kitchen dish towel and a bag clip as a bib. It's bigger than the bibs sold in stores (which means more of your kid's clothes will be saved) and is completely washable.
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