April 29, 2009

Easy Come, Easy Go

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 3:58 PM by Robin

“That was nice of the lady at the craft store to give you a balloon, Lily. Here, let me tie it onto your wrist so you don’t lose it.”

“Noooo, Mommy! See, she cut the string really long so even if it floats up to the ceiling, I can still reach it.”

“Well, okay. You can keep it that way until we go out to the car.”

Ten minutes later.

“Okay, Lily, we’re going out to the car now.  Let me tie the balloon to your wrist so it doesn’t fly away.”

“Noooo! I don’t want to tie it my wrist!  I can hold onto it until we get inside the car!”

“Well…okay. But don’t let go!”

“I won’t!”

Ten minutes later:

“Okay, we’re home now, Lily. Let me tie your balloon to your wrist so it doesn’t fly away.”

“Nooooo! I don’t wanna tie it to my wrist!  I’ll be very, very careful!”

“Are you sure? It’s kind of windy out here and balloons can fly away very fast.”

“Noooo! I can hold it!”

Mommy turns her back to get James out of the car.

“WAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!  MY BALLOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!! I WANT MY BALLOOOOOOOOOON!!!!”

You saw it coming too, right?

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April 13, 2009

Getting Back to Real Life

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 9:42 AM by Robin

Hey, how did you spend Spring Break?

Did you take the kids on vacation somewhere fun?  Or did you spend it cleaning up ten episodes of baby vomit? Or maybe you spent it lying on the sofa for 24 hours straight, fighting against the Evil Martian Death Flu, while certain of your kids were completely destroying the house and your other kid was moping around on the other sofa, yelling curses at the other kid for being the first one to get sick and bring the flu from Hell upon you all?  Did you feel incredibly guilty for being unable due to your incapacitation to help the Easter Bunny make his scheduled early Saturday appointment for your house, which has allowed your family to separate the spiritual and secular facets of Easter for the past two or three years, and had to do last minute shopping on Saturday night in order to not completely disappoint the kiddies? 

 Did you also feel incredibly guilty for promising your two girls new Easter dresses, but were unable to go shopping for them until late Saturday evening due to the fact that you were dealing with one vomiting child after another for the past week, and then finding that of the limited selection of dresses left in stock, only the really ugly dresses have sleeves on them anymore? Did your guilt continue because you bought the sleeveless dresses anyway because they were so cute, but you didn’t have enough money left to buy any of those little white sweaters, so when the girls wore their sleeveless dresses to church the next day, you wondered how many people were judging you for raising your children to be immodest and what a terrible example of a wife of a counselor in the bishopric you are? 

Did you spend Easter Sunday at home with just your family and only had a token pan of Cheesy Potatoes and ham for your Easter feast because you just didn’t have it in you to cook a big dinner or go visit anybody else? Did you finish off your whole unforgettable Spring Break experience by watching the classic movie “The Money Pit” and wondering why Shelley Long was being such a b$@%# to Tom Hanks when he actually got mad (gasp!) at the fact that she cheated on him (or thought she did)?  Did you then wonder if you were allowed to like Tom Hanks movies anymore since he has recently professed anti-Mormon sentiments?  Did you go to bed praying that you would not have to deal with more rain and possible snow storms for the next week?

You didn’t?  Huh.  Well, just wondering!

March 15, 2009

The Big Bad Word

Posted in Days of my life, Deep thoughts, Family life, Just thinking..., Mormon life, Parenting tagged , , , , , , at 9:38 PM by Robin

swear

An argument between Lily and Brianna yesterday over computer rights ended with a very distraught Lily pulling on Bri’s hair and saying,” Get out of that chair, you…you b@#$%! (expletive rhyming with a popular Halloween costume.)”  Andrew and I were both standing right there, and instantly we both looked at each other in surprise.

“Did she just say what I think she just said?” we asked each other almost at the same time. Yes, friends, our darling, sweet, innocent little four-year-old girl, had just mouthed a common obscenity.  Now, being a product of our somewhat liberal generation, I suppose, rather than being shocked and outraged, we both had a hard time not bursting out into laughter.  Not that we are trying to encourage our daughter to have a foul mouth, but it just sounds insanely funny to hear a little girl trying out her first swear word.  You could tell she knew that it was a bad name, but I’m sure she didn’t think it any worse than calling her sister an idiot or stupidhead or any of the other charming names my children like to call each other.

Of course, we immediately took her aside and told her that particular word was not a good thing to say and that she shouldn’t say it anymore.  We didn’t punish her or anything, because the concept of swear words is itself a new one for her.  I mean, this is my third verbal child and I know by now that they are just little parrots at this age. If my nine-year-old started spitting out obscenities, there would be a bit more a punishment involved, as he knows full well what words he isn’t supposed to say. My two older kids have of course said swear words before, but I really don’t remember either of them using one in context in that way (although I do remember babysitting one of the girls from my ward when she was about four and she went around the house one day for about two hours straight saying, “Damn you! Damn you!” over and over again. Another time I had a hard time not laughing).

The thing that is troubling about this incident, of course, is trying to figure out where Lily heard that word.  Andrew and I never swear in normal conversation, although a mild expletive has been known to escape both of our lips on rare occasions when we are frustrated.  But neither of us ever uses that word in that way.  I didn’t think we were letting Lily watch any adult shows that included such language, but it’s almost certain that she heard it from some TV show or movie at some time (unless her preschool teacher has a really nasty mouth).  I mention this incident not because I am worried about my children being verbally corrupted by watching TV, as I believe that they learn appropriate language from their parents’ example more than any other source, and even then, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think swearing is really high on the list of terrible sins, but because it really reminds me how even the most careful parent can’t completely protect their children from all negative wordly experiences.  It’s a little bit scary.

So, what it is a good parent to do?  Obviously, we can’t raise our children in a bubble. They will be exposed to negative influences, sooner or later, and inappropriate language is definitely not the worst of that sort of thing.  It c-young-soldiermakes me think that the best we can do is really teach and prepare our children to face the evils of the world.  Ignorance will not serve them well in the battle ahead.  If you are in a battle, you try to educate your soldiers about the enemy’s tactics and strategies.  Your armor is built to withstand the specific weapons of your opponent.  In the same way, as we put on the armor of God, we should educate our children about the most vulnerable areas that Satan will be aiming for, and how best to deflect those blows. We have to start young, because the enemy starts young.  It’s sad, but it’s true.

I wish I could raise my children in perfect innocence and not open their eyes to the evils of the world until they are more mature.  However, I don’t think this world will allow me that chance.  I am not afraid for them and the future they will face, but I do plan on preparing them and strengthening them for the battle ahead.   My kids are going to hear swear words, whether I want them to or not.  But I as a parent am the stronger influence on them, and my teachings and example are more likely to be what determines whether they will choose to follow the ways of the world or to rise above it.

March 6, 2009

The Things That Scare Us Most

Posted in Artsy Stuff, Days of my life, Deep thoughts, Just thinking..., Parenting, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , , at 12:35 PM by Robin

book

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, in a brazen fit of ambition, I have decided that I am going to write a short story.  Since that first post, I have actually managed to sit down on two separate occasions and begin fleshing out the little idea in my head, turning vague concepts into characters, researching a few things on the internet that reinforced the idea for inspiration, and have gotten to the point where I actually saw the opening scene of my story unfold in my head as if I were watching it on film.  I have written three pages.  It doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s three more pages of fiction than I have written in twelve years, so I guess I’m off to a good start.

The main obstacle I find myself facing is my own criticism.  I hold pretty high standards for the books that I read. I expect not only a certain level of literary fluency from the authors I enjoy–an ability to describe images, events, and dialogue in a way that you actually forget that your eyes are looking at words on a page and instead, feel like you are “watching a TV in your head”, as Parley put it–but also a bit of meaning, some sort of insight into human nature, or at the very least, something about the characters or story line that I can relate to, that I can see myself in.  It is very hard to write something knowing that what I write might not meet those standards.  I know, I shouldn’t expect to be brilliant at something the first time I try it.  You can’t expect to play “Flight of the Bumblebee” the first time you pick up a violin.  The hurdle is in getting yourself to press forward and do it anyway, even if your first attempt, and even your second or third, totally sucks.

I’ve found that I have this problem in quite a few other parts of my life. I’m pretty adventurous and am always up for trying something new.  But I find that those things that I am most interested in doing, my real dreams, I tend to shy away from. Not because I am scared of the thing itself, but because I am afraid of not being good at it.

For instance, I have always wanted to learn how to paint.  Ever since I took my first “real” art class in seventh grade and learned there was more to artistic expression than crayons, markers, and construction paper, I have longed to be able to use those oil paints and water colors to create something beautiful. When I was in high school, I worked at a hobby and craft store, andpaint there became acquainted with the tools of the trade–cadmium blues and sulfur yellows, different textures of paper and canvas, gesso and turpentine and about a million different kinds of brushes, natural and synthetic.  They all fascinated me, but with no training, they also scared the heck out of me.  I knew I would never be able to do anything right without someone to tell me what everything was for, and since the supplies were so expensive I didn’t want to buy them and just fool around on my own.

After that, in college, even though I had chosen an English major, I could still choose a certain number of electives.  My eyes always lingered on the art classes, but there was always a materials fee that seemed too high for my student budget to do just for fun, and so I never took the opportunity.  I’m really kicking myself now.  It would have been worth the $150 or whatever it was.  I mean, it wasn’t like I was paying for tuition or anything! (Seriously, I had two scholarships. )

Anyway, my point is, that I long to take painting lessons now, and yet I’m scared to death to do it in case I’m not very good at it.  Because I’m scared, I use money or lack of child care at the appropriate time as an excuse to avoid having to put myself to the test. I’ll admit, I’ve found that I do this in many areas of my life. The things that I want most are the things that scare me the most.

So, how do we get past this excuse-making and get to the point where we can take that leap to pursue our dreams?  I think the key is having someone who not only says, “I know you can do this,” but who is also willing to give you a kick in the pants and say, “Just do it, already!”  Someone, like the mother bird, who will push us out of our comfort zone in the nest and force us to try out our wings.  We have to stop making excuses and confront our fear of failure.

Most importantly, especially as mothers, we have to remind ourselves that following our dreams is a worthwhile endeavour, and give ourselves permission to do things that may not be practical or essential to our family’s well-being, but will stimulate us personally and allow for our own individual growth and happiness.  I think, sometimes, it is very hard for a stay-at-home mom to separate herself from her home and her role as mother, wife and housekeeper, especially if she’s been doing it and nothing else for several years.  I think that we have a hard time allowing ourselves to have outside interests that take us away from our family for any length of time.  We get out of the habit of doing things just for ourselves.

So, despite my fear that the story I’m writing is a total crock of …ahem… not very good…I am forcing myself to write it.  I am trying to consider it an assignment, like a school project, that I have to get finished.  I’ll do my best, but I’ll try not to worry about what other people will think of it until it’s actually all done.  I have to remember that while making excuses prevents me from failing, it also prevents me from excelling.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  Do you feel this way?  Do you put off your dreams?  What helps you to overcome your fears?  Thanks!

learning-to-fly

February 15, 2009

A Day (or two) Off

Posted in Days of my life, Parenting, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , , at 4:23 PM by Robin

hearts-border

I have to tell you about my Valentine’s Day present.

Instead of getting me chocolates or flowers or jewelry or sexy lingerie (good call, there), Andrew got me something much better this year.  He gave me the gift of… my sanity.

In two weeks, Andrew will be taking all four of our children up to the timeshare condo the Lambert family has enjoyed for the past twenty or so years up East Canyon.  They will stay up there Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, having a sleepover with the cousins, watching movies, eating candy, maybe sledding or hiking, depending on the weather.

I was already looking forward to this event as one that I would get to miss out on.  But, in honor of Valentine’s Day, Andrew made it just a little bit more special.  I came home from the gym that day to find a cute little note taped on the shower wall, surrounded by pink paper hearts, that told me that he had made a reservation for me at a downtown hotel for the Friday night they would be gone.  I can stay up all night and sleep in the next day, if I want, and then continue to do whatever I want without interruption for 24+ hours.  No schedule. No chores. No kids.

I’m quite impressed with Andrew’s decision to give me this gift.  For one thing, he simply has a hard time understanding my desire and longing for time alone.  Being completely alone, with no one to talk to, for a day and a half, would be sheer misery for him.  To me, it sounds like heaven.  I had actually read an article in a magazine about a mom who took a little weekend escape to a nearby hotel all by herself.  She said she spent three hours playing with her hair, and two hours giving herself a thorough mani- and pedicure, then spent the rest of the time taking long bubble baths and reading frivolous magazines and romance novels.  Completely uninterrupted and guilt free. When she was done, she was able to come back and be a better mom because she was no longer so stressed out.

Wow, I thought, now that’s a vacation.

I believe I mentioned the idea to Andrew once or twice, but I certainly wasn’t expecting to have it given to me.  Now that I have the opportunity before me, I find myself wondering what to do with the sweet isolation that has been given me (bearing in mind that we do not have the money for me to spend all day long at a spa of any kind).  Should I soak in the hot tub without worrying who is too short for the shallow end of the nearby pool and who else is violating the minimum age rules of the hot tub?  Should I hit the library for a stack of novels and women’s magazines to read? Or should I hit the town and visit a whole bunch of artsy museums or knick-knack shops lined with shelves of adorable, breakable items, taking as much time as I like to admire anything that catches my eye, without having to worry that someone under my stewardship might knock something made out of glass and costing $500 to its doom on the hard tile floor? Sigh…the possibilities are endless!

So, I ask you, all you mothers out there (and anyone else who feels they need a little “me” time), what would you do, when faced with this kind of freedom?  How would you spend an entire day off of children and housework?  What do you dream of doing that can never get done with one or more little people in tow?  Let’s hear your creativity, ladies! I need something to do after I get out of the tub…

January 5, 2009

Whew! Made it through another year.

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting, Something exciting! tagged , , at 11:53 AM by Robin

happy_new_year_2008

Wow, guys, I’m sorry about the slow December.  But I’m sure you all know how busy December is.  All that planning, shopping, cooking, wrapping, sneaking, deceiving, outright lying…yes, Christmas brings out the best in us all…

Well, to tell the truth, Christmas was really just kind of so-so for me this year.  The presents on Christmas morning were not exactly what had been requested, partly because the letters to Santa got off a little late this year, after Santa had done the majority of shopping for our family.  Santa used Amazon.com extensively this year, and therefore the kids were stuck with what they got.  There was a little moping at first, but they bounced back fairly quickly and seem to enjoy what they got. 

The number of wrapped packages under the tree was also fairly limited this year.  In fact, Mom and Dad only gave the kids one real gift this year (Santa gives the majority of the presents right now).  We told them that the package was small, but it was worth more than all the other gifts combined! (No, the package was not from Tiffany’s) After we had opened all the other gifts, we gave them a note that sent them on a treasure hunt throughout the house.  Andrew had made up nine or ten different clues leading them from the bedroom, to the silverware drawer, to the computer, to the fireplace…uh oh, what happened to the clue that was in the fireplace?  Could that cheerful Christmas morning fire burning in the fireplace have anything to do with its disappearance?  Yes, that’s right, we burned up one of the clues.  Fortunately, Andrew remembered where it was supposed to send them, and the kids were able to pick up the hunt on the next clue.

Finally, after much eager running up and down stairs and in and out of doors, the last clue sent us all back to the Christmas tree, where, hidden underneath the skirt, was an unlabeled CD.  We popped it into the computer, and here is what the kids saw:

 castle1

(OK, so there was a little bit more to it, but I haven’t figured out how to put on videos yet, so I’ll have to show that to you later)

 That’s right, we’re going to Disney World, baby!  As soon as I get Andrew to tell me how, I’m going to have to post the video of the kids reaction, because it was not what I expected.  Rather than erupting into loud screams of joy, they just stared at the screen in stunned silence.  It took quite a while for it to sink in.  But every day now, they get more and more excited.  We just finished watching a History channel show on Disney World and some of the big rides there, and the anticipation is definitely building.  I’m excited, but a little bit nervous, too, especially about taking all the kids on the plane.  Actually, I’m more worried about James and Lily than the older kids.  Any tips on how to handle a fidgety toddler on a four hour plane flight would be greatly appreciated!

As for the New Year…we had a great little get together with some of our friends on New Year’s Eve.  We actually let Parley and Brianna stay up until midnight (Lily made it as far as 11:00, which wasn’t bad for her), and they had fun screaming and banging pots and pans and watching the South Jordan fireworks from their windows.  But then, all the commotion woke James up, and he would not go back to sleep.  Everybody else left and went to bed around 1:30, but James was still up and having a ball and refused to go to bed until after 4:00 AM.  I’m telling you, there’s no better way to ring in the New Year than by watching HGTV at 3:00 in the morning while your one-year-old merrily runs around the house. And to top if off, even though James was finally asleep by 4:30, I was having stomach problems and couldn’t get to sleep until after 6:00 AM, right about the time Andrew got up.  Fortunately, Andrew kept the kids quiet enough for me to sleep in until 10:00, but needless to say, New Years Day was a little bit hazy for me.  I guess that’s as close to a hangover as a good little mormon like me will get!

As for the future, I can’t guarantee that I will have much opportunity to regularly update this blog, since Andrew has all these video projects he’s working on, and all the kids are home from school for a month, and they all are fighting over who gets to play with their web-based toys first.  I’m kind of last in line when it comes to computer time.  But that’s probably a good thing, because after a whole month spent online shopping and planning a vacation, I could really use a break anyway. So, here’s wishing you all a glorious New Year.  And if any of you missed our family email/newsletter, check out Andrew’s blog at andrewalma.wordpress.com.

October 1, 2008

The Preschool Fiasco

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 11:11 AM by Robin

“Fiasco” is one of Andrew’s favorite words, I think.  He always uses it when you get into one of those situations where everything goes wrong, to the point of being laughably ridiculous.  According to dictionary.com, a fiasco is “a complete and ignominious failure” (or, according to definition #2, “a round-bottomed glass flask for wine, esp. Chianti, fitted with a woven, protective raffia basket that also enables the bottle to stand upright”.  Oh, is that what they call those?).  It’s always fun to have to look up the definition of a word when you are trying to understand the definition of another word, so in case you didn’t know, ignominious means humiliating, disgraceful, or shameful.  So, now that we’ve covered our vocabulary lesson for the week, I will go on to describe why I connect such a word with preschool.

As I discussed about a month ago, Lily has been attending a preschool in the mornings.  I mentioned there was a bit of a long story there, which at the time I didn’t get into.  I will now tell you lucky people all about it, because apparently the story was not yet over.  Since I had assumed we would be moving soon, I put off the preschool search for far too long, and by the time I started looking August, it was very difficult to find an opening at a school I could afford. The preschool that Parley and Brianna went to was full, and to make things more difficult for myself, I was determined to put Lily in a three-day program, rather than a two-day (we both need that extra day, I think).  I also really was particular about getting a morning program if at all possible, so that I could have some time for exercising, which is more annoying to do in the afternoon after you’ve already taken a shower and gotten dressed.  Anyway, on my first search attempt, I called many preschools in Riverton, and finally talked to a lady whose curriculum sounded perfect, and the price and the schedule were right.  I pretty much reserved a spot over the phone, but I wanted to come in and meet with her and see the classroom before I finalized it, of course.  However, she said that she was remodeling her classroom that week and wondered if I could wait a few days before I came to see it.  Fine, no problem, I thought, but when I called a few days later, I didn’t get an answer.  I called and called and called, and got no response.  I didn’t want to give up on her at first because she was the only morning class I could find.  Finally, about two weeks later, she finally picked up the phone, and told me that she had been out of town, but had fallen and injured her knee pretty badly, so she would be unable to start her preschool until mid-October.  Ooohh, I was so ticked off.  I didn’t blame her for injuring herself, but it was very unprofessional of her not to call and notify me immediately, rather than waiting weeks to let me know.

So, this was the first week of September, after many preschools had already started their school year.  I tried a few more places, none had any openings, and then I finally found one who said she would squeeze me into her morning class, despite the fact that she already had twelve kids in there.  This lady actually has three classes a day, which end up overlapping each other (9:30-12, 11-1:30, 12:30-3:00), which sounded kind of weird to me, but she assured me that she had other teachers that helped her out, and that the kids rotated to different “centers” so that the two classes were separate from each other.  I took Lily in the very next day to check it out, and I will admit, after seeing the setup, I had my misgivings about it.  She had it in her basement of course, but instead of having a large open classroom area when you walk in, as you would expect for a preschool, she had a small living room-type area, with an oversized beanbag and couch and TV, and a couple of computers.  Behind it were several fairly small rooms, one set up with desks, one with a circle of chairs, one with a kitchen area. They all circled around the stairs, with a narrow hallway connecting them.  The space seemed really small, especially with kids pulling toys out of a hallway closet and playing with them right there in the hallway.  It just seemed like there were kids everywhere and nowhere to step, and that there was absolutely no supervision.  However, I was so eager to get Lily started that I rationalized that it was like that because I was just occupying the teacher’s attention and distracting her.  How bad could it be, I thought?  As long as she learns her letters and gets to play with other kids, I shouldn’t be too particular about the details, right? So, I went ahead and signed her up. 

She had a hard time the first few days, but that’s just because she’s Lily and has a hard time with new things.  However, each day when I dropped her off, the situation was pretty much the same as it was on the first day.  The teacher was rarely there at the entrance to greet the kids as they came in, and it seemed like they all just played with little or no supervision.  Sometimes I would see the teacher sitting one on one with them on the sofa, reading, which is good for the one she’s sitting with, but pretty much leaves the rest of the classroom to their own devices.  I also was suprised to hear (from Lily, not the teacher) that the kids were taken to a nearby park for most of the time on Fridays.  I never saw a lesson schedule, or any crafts coming home.  The more this went on, the more my misgivings increased.  It began to seem more and more like I was just paying for really expensive daycare three times a week.

Two things finally made me realize we needed a change.  The first was that they were supposed to have a fieldtrip last week at Wheeler Farm.  It was on the calendar she gave us at the first of the month, but the only additional information or reminder that she gave us a month later was the day before as we picked up the kids, when she told us what time to meet and to bring a sack lunch.  When we got there, rather than taking everyone around in a group, with the teacher or someone else actually doing some sort of teaching, we were pretty much just on our own.  We saw the teacher again briefly at lunch, when she came by to take some pictures, but that was it.  After that I made a few phone calls to preschools in South Jordan, having exhausted all the possibilities in Riverton, and went to visit one or two of them.  But Lily expressed a reluctance to change schools, and over the weekend, I wondered if it was worth it to put her through the transfer.

However, the final straw was on Monday.  My other kids are off-track this week, and just as I was loading up the car to go pick Lily up, I realized that Brianna had disappeared. We finally found her at a friend’s house, which she got in trouble for, since she didn’t tell me she was going, but she made me late to pick up Lily.  By the time I got there, everyone else had been picked up, and the teacher had taken Lily inside.  I went down into the basement to find her, and found the 11:00 class going on.  Now, this was after 12:00, so that class had been going for more than an hour.  And you know, what?  They looked exactly the same as Lily’s class had, in complete chaos.  I don’t how they could possibly fit twice as many kids in that area when they overlapped the classes.  i think that would have to be against the fire code or something. I decided that was going to be her last day right then and called back one of the ladies I talked to earlier to sign her up.  This lady only has four other kids in her class, and they don’t do field trips or programs, but she really impressed me with how excited she was about all the things they were learning. She has a little garden in the back that they help her plant, she does yoga with them, she teaches them about rules vs. choices, and about character development.  It just sounded much more in line with my idea of what a preschool should be.  I can take Lily to the park or to Wheeler Farm on my own time and get just as much out of it as we would with that other school.

So, hopefully, this will end up being a good situation for Lily.  It’s a little more inconvenient for me, because I ended up having to put her in an afternoon class, but I think it’s more important for her to have a good experience than for me to have a perfect schedule.  She starts tomorrow, since it is a M/T/TH setup (no Fridays because the big kids get out early on Fridays in our school district). There is, of course, one more test of my patience, since the teacher is taking Monday and Tuesday off next week to spend more time with her oldest son who is leaving on a mission on Wednesday, but I figure that in the end, this will be a move for the better. I really hope that this situation is not a true fiasco, in that it will have a happy ending!

Whew.  Can you see why this has been such a pain for me?

March 30, 2008

The Breastfeeding Saga Comes to an End

Posted in Babies, Breastfeeding, Days of my life, Family life tagged , at 2:23 PM by Robin

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Sigh….So, I officially weaned James this week.  I had hoped to drag it out for a while longer, maybe even just nurse once a day for a few months, but it was not to be.  I was doing all right, struggling, as you all know, but still breastfeeding him two or three times a day, up until two or three weeks ago.  But then he started teething, and he couldn’t really nurse very well, and I’m afraid that really dried my milk up.  His appetite also increased exponentially about that time (right about when he turned five months), and he wasn’t satisfied even after drinking a full bottle, so we started feeding him solids.  He caught on pretty quick and absolutely loves them–he gets so excited and bounces up and down so much that we can hardly get the spoon in his mouth–and so now we are up to three meals of baby food a day.  Fun, but of course that affected my milk supply even more.  So, I was producing very little milk, but he was extra super-duper hungry all the time, so even though he still acted like he wanted to nurse, rooting and all, if I put him to the breast, it was really only more for a comfort thing than to help him receive any substantial amount of nourishment.  I had become a human pacifier! 

Now, like I said, I would have been happy to let that continue on for as long as he was interested, but then we had another bad outbreak of thrush, and it just got too painful for me.  I thought, I could try to pump some more, and use my medicine until this all clears up again, and keep trying to draw this out, but then I thought, no, I’m ready.  I think that mothers need to be emotionally weaned off of the breastfeeding relationship as much as the babies need to be physically weaned.  So, a little at a time, I have become better able to deal with the end of that part of my motherhood.  I’m a little more sad, since I don’t plan on having any more children, that this is how it worked out, that I didn’t get to hang on to that part of mothering a little longer.  But I think I knew this is how it would happen from the first day that the doctor told me that James was losing weight and I needed to supplement him with formula.  I cried the first time I mixed up a bottle of formula for him, but now, really, I’m okay with it.  I have to say that I was able to breastfeed him for far longer than I ever thought I might.  You all know the struggle I went through to do so. I thought for sure that I was going to have to just give up and wean him at least ten or twelve times over the last few months.  My milk would be low, and I was convinced it would be gone soon, but then I just told myself to wait one or two more days, and it would bounce back and be okay.  I remember thinking my goal was to make it to two months, then to three months, and to my surprise, I did!  And at that point, I felt safe enough to make my ultimate goal to breastfeed him until he started eating solids, or to six months, whichever came first.  Well, I made that goal, if just barely, and so I am content.  I think somehow his eating real food somehow assuages my guilt about all the important nutrients in breastmilk that he will be missing out on.  It’s probably more psychological than anything, but it’s helped me move on.

Yes, I’m sad, but I will admit, I’m also relieved.  It’s been a tough five months!  The only other time I can remember feeling as high of stress levels as I have felt during this time was during finals week at BYU, when I’d have five tests and three 15-page papers and a presentation of some sort due all at the same time.  I’m fairly certain that my high stress levels have contributed in some sort of way to my not being able to lose any of this baby weight.  I think they’ve actually shown that to have an effect.  Plus, I’ve always had a hard time losing weight while I was breastfeeding.  So, maybe there’s a positive side to this after all! 

March 9, 2008

“Momnesia”

Posted in Babies, Days of my life, Family life, Just thinking... at 4:27 PM by Robin

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Have you ever felt that since you had your baby, your mental abilities have slipped?  Have you gone through your day in a kind of fog, barely aware of anything going on in the world around you except for your newborn? All of a sudden, you can barely remember what day of the week it is, much less what activities you have planned for that day.  I’m telling you, I can barely keep track of the kids homework and who has library day on which day anymore.  Well, after watching the Today show a couple of days ago, I feel a little better, because it’s not just me!  Apparently some new research has come to the defense of new moms, showing that most of us struggle with this “Momnesia”, thanks to some real alterations in our brain chemistry after childbirth.  It is actually normal to become completely forgetful in the early months of your child’s life. Here’s the transcript of that bit on the Today show: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23501326/ and another article in USA Today about the same thing: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2008-03-03-momnesia_N.htm 

I’m serious, my stress levels have been through the roof for the past five months, just trying to keep track of what’s going on.  And it’s not like there’s really all that much to keep track of, it’s just that my ability to retain any information has completely disappeared.  Andrew would tell me things, like that he’s going out of town for a business trip, and I would completely space it until he said, “Well, I guess I’d better pack for my trip tomorrow.”  And I’d be like, “What?  What trip?  Where are you going?”

So what is the cure for Momnesia, you may ask?  Apparently, no medicatioin is necessary.  All you need is a pencil.  Those of us suffering from Momnesia simply have to remember to write everything down.  I finally bought a huge calendar, called “The Who Goes Where When (but not Why)” calendar, and after writing down EVERYTHING on it, with the addition of some included Sandra Boynton stickers (I love her!), I’m finally feeling a little more with it. 

Apparently cardiovascular exercise is also supposed to help your memory, and I really haven’t been getting enough of that lately.  But I plan to, as soon as the weather gets in the 50’s.  That’s about the chilliest level I can comfortably handle.  I’ve been wanting to get a really good double stroller, because I would like to make a daily walk part of our routine, but quite frankly, Lily slows me down too much.  Whether she’s walking or trying to ride a scooter or tricycle, I just can’t go fast enough to get up my heart rate when I have to wait for her.  Is a double stroller (I was thinking maybe the jogging kind) worth the money, or are there other ways to get exercise with a preschooler and a baby in tow?  Ideas anyone?

January 27, 2008

I have totally cute kids!

Posted in Babies, Family life at 4:43 PM by Robin

Remember this?

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This stylish haircut was performed by Lily herself the day after Christmas 2006.  It has taken over a year for her to grow it out.  Finally she is looking “normal”.  She’s also apparently very photogenic, as these adorable pictures from her portrait session at Target attest:

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Not to be outdone, James put on a great show as well, despite the fact that he refused to smile more than once for the whole session:
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We had a lot of other cute shots as well, but that’s just too many to put up here.  And of course, we didn’t get prints of all of them, we just payed an extra $5 to have the session emailed to us.  They’re too low resolution to actually print out, but at least we can share more of them with you this way.

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