Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A little love

This morning, at 8 a.m., as I was desperately attempting to get Helen and Ruthie in he car in their Halloween costumes so we could visit the NICU nurses, get my flu shot, update my parking pass, and be at friend's Halloween part by ten, I hated Halloween. I hated it even more after Helen had a full-blown meltdown in the car on the way to 10 a.m. party. No escape from a screaming, very loud Helen, when you are in a mini-van. None at all. My head splitting, I confessed to another mom, after we got there, that last year I learned to hate Christmas, and now I am learning to hate Halloween. But now, at nearly 4 p.m., as both of my darlings have been asleep for nearly three hours, I LOVE Halloween. I really do. But check in again at 8 p.m. I may have changed my mind again.

Halloween - a time line

9 a.m.
9:30
10 a.m.

10:30

11 a.m.
11:30


12 p.m.
12:30
1 p.m.
1:10

Thursday, October 25, 2007

google eyes

A shout out to Carly here...
Google. Reader. Rocks
Now I can see, with one click, which of the numerous blogs I read has been updated, and I don't have to go through ALL of my bookmarks to check. Carly, you rock.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ain't it Funny?

So, I was pretty clear in my previous post that I will not subject myself to the torture of kid's music in the car, and I want my kids to experience all (okay, most) kinds of music, blah, blah, blah. I will admit to having certain music biases. Most rap music irritates me (the desperate attempts at rhyming often result in lyrics, and I use that term loosely here, that make no sense.). "Hard-core" country isn't my thing, but I can handle the more mainstream stuff. Heavy metal is generally hard to tolerate. But rock, pop, alternative, folk, blues, etc., I' m cool with. I've become pretty attached to my ipod, and the stuff I've collected over the years, so I rarely listen to the radio. Which means I'm probably not the most current when it comes to music selection, particularly pop (I cannot let go of my 80s pop music...ever). If a song gets enough play I might hear it eventually. I have never intentionally listened to a Britney Spears song...I cannot stand her. Some of those other high-profile girls don't so much for me, and I think they're idiots, so I assume I won't like their music. Unfair bias on my part? Sure, I'm human. But I prefer screaming in vicarious heartache with Melissa Etheridge, or listening to the folksy (and again, frequently heartachey) Maura O'Connell over listening to some half-dressed new millennium pop star. (Christina Aguilera was an exception due to her appearance on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack, thus Ruthie's love for Lady Marmalade.)

My x-biking instructor, Denise, loves to make her own playlists/CDs for x-biking purposes. She must have at least a dozen that she's created over the last 6 months. There are 4 or 5 that get more regular use during classes, probably because they have the best beats for motivating us, and generally they're fun to listen to. This one in particular which she's been using for awhile has a song on it that I hadn't heard before but I couldn't get out of my head. It had kind of an island beat to it, and it was really catchy. I wasn't hearing all the lyrics, but I liked it and it was one of those songs that you hear and you just find yourself moving. For a while I've been meaning to Google what I could remember of the lyrics, but I never did. Today I remembered. I Googled "the story of your heart" which was all I could remember, and up pops a link to J Lo lyrics. I clicked on the link and sure enough, there are the lyrics to "Ain't it Funny" and I recognize enough of thm to know that's the song. I browse the itunes store and listen and indeed, that's the voice I hear in x-biking. Holy crap. I like a J. Lo song. Who'd have thought one of those half-dressed new millennium pop stars would actually sing something I'd like? And now here I am, having purchased a J Lo track (gasp) from itunes. And I fully intend to let her funky beat assist me in my housecleaning (good music = successful cleaning). So I will do dishes while dancing and lip-synching "Ain't it Funny". Now ain't that funny?

Indecent Exposure

Is it wrong that my daughter LOVES Barenaked Ladies and can recognize the lead vocalist within seconds when she hears a new (to her) Barenaked Ladies song? She routinely tell me what she'd do if she had a million dollars (she'd buy me a monkey, cuz haven't I always wanted a monkey?) I can justify playing They Might be Giants for her by telling myself that they do a lot of the alphabet songs on Playhouse Disney. But that's not what I'm playing for her. Really, isn't Particle Man just so much more fun than, say, the Captain Feathersword song? I have nothing against the Wiggles, and can more than tolerate them occasionally at home, but when I'm driving, I prefer music that won't make me want to drive my van off a bridge and into the Hudson River. I take gleeful delight in watching my children rock out to songs that sing of prosthetic foreheads and not of happy families and rainbows. Isn't that why I'm sending Ruthie to preschool? To learn those sweet children's songs about butterflies and tea parties? And then she can teach them to her little sister, and I'm off the hook again. Her sister will already know the cool songs, from the car.
Seriously, my parents always played normal music in the car when we were growing up (I hesitate to say "adult music" because that makes it sound as if we listened to audio porn). As a result, I know most of the words to most of ABBA's songs (that would be maternal influence, and admit it, you're a closet ABBA fan...who isn't?). And I have very fond memories of my brother, sister and me, elementary school aged, sitting in the back of our station wagon, taking turns singing the various parts to "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." This was way before the song was played at wedding receptions, proms, etc. This was when we were a little edgy knowing all the lyrics. We didn't know what half of them meant, but we didn't care. I can remember listening to the Doors, Queen, Springsteen (long before he was famous...classic Springsteen...pre-Born in the USA). I dropped out of car rides with my dad when I was a teenager and he became an avid Grateful Dead fan, and, in his excess volume induced deafness, would play the Dead at concert levels in his tiny Jeep Wrangler and blow smoke around the car for 6 plus hours while we drove to our vacation house in Maine. Those were not my favorite times. And while I generally can't stand the nasally whine of Bob Dylan's voice, I did learn to appreciate the nearly unmatchable depth and poetry of his lyrics. (Should I leave out the part where my Dad said "This reminds me of your mother" every time he played "Idiot Wind")
But what I really want is for my children to have a good appreciation for music and lyrics of varying types. When Ruthie requests a girl song, she is as likely to get Christina Aguilera singing Lady Marmalade as she is to get Joan Baez or Melissa Etheridge or Joni Mitchell. Helen isn't vocalizing her music preferences just yet, but I'm sure she will soon. And with enough exposure to They Might Be Giants, maybe they'll know that Istanbul used to be Constantinople. Can't learn that from Barney, now can you?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Question of the Day

Today I am posing a question for all of you out there in blogger world:

Do European babies have extremely tiny heads?

What might prompt me to pose this question? I am glad you asked.

My sister recently moved from Manhattan. I am proud of her and happy for her that she has decided to return to graduate school, and that she was worthy of acceptance at one of the finest Ivy League institutes (go Bulldogs!). However, this will likely have a negative impact on my daughters' wardrobes. My sister would often shop for birthday and Christmas gifts at little boutiques in the city, and the result would be oh so adorable, and very unique, little outfits. When Helen turned one this past winter, my sister purchased a little denim dress for her. Drop waist with a little denim ruffle , and a unique embroidered and appliqu├ęd (or for my friend Lola...decoupage) design. The tag read, among other things, U.S. 18 mos., so my initial instinct was to put it aside till fall. My children, having been born prematurely, are never the size they should be according to their chronological ages. they are closer to the size for their adjusted age, which is calculated according to their due dates. So, despite the fact that we were celebrating Helen's first birthday, she was, for all intents and purposes, particularly dressing, much more like a 9 1/2 month old. But on whim one day, I thought I'd try it on her and ooh and ahh over how outrageously adorable she looked, and maybe I'd get lucky and it wouldn't be too big. This was not to be. You see I could not get the dress over her head. There were two double snap openings on either side of the neck, and even unsnapped, the neck was not nearly big enough. Being denim, the dress had little to no give in the fabric. I labored tirelessly, while Helen screamed. I had to be particularly careful of the hemangioma on the side of her head. Too much force could cause it to break and bleed profusely, which would mean the dress would be ruined and the baby would need to be brought to the hospital. Since I had no desire to scrub blood out of the dress and likely the carpet, I navigated around the birthmark, and finally got the dress on. Instead of the vision of cuteness I had anticipated, I had a wailing, tear-stained, runny nosed little girl on my hands. And man was she pissed. She eventually calmed down and obliged me by looking cute for the remainder of the day. That evening, it took two of us to get the dress off of her. The undressing of the big-headed American baby also involved lots of screaming. The cute little European boutique dress was put away until we could find a reasonable solution for using it without inflicting torture on Big Head Helen. Actually, the dress was hung on the back of Helen's bedroom door, and I looked at it nearly daily, wondering just how to make use oft his adorable yet ill-sized garment. The other day, while examining it for some sort of invisible catch that would render it a breeze to put on, I discovered that there was actually room on both sides for the opening to be further widened, and the dress would look no different. Woo hoo! I proceeded to very, very carefully make the cuts, and Benny and I examined the newly enlarged head opening. We agreed that there was no way her head was bigger than that opening. The next morning, I excitedly told Helen, who couldn't have cared less, that we would be putting on her cute little boutique dress. Fool. The head opening still would not accommodate Helen's head. Or at least, when you couple the tight fit with the fact that Helen is much more mobile than she was during the previous attempt (which, did I mention, was eight months ago?...surely her head hasn't grown AT ALL!) So after a few minutes of me tugging, and Helen shrieking and running away with a dress half over her big head, I gave up. But the dress is still in the living room where I can lament over the fact that Helen was only able to wear it once, and I could obsess over new ways to make it fit. As I am not a seamstress, I can only surmise that any modifications I make might involve my glue gun and staples (and decoupage). Helen being the dangerous child, staples aren't the best idea. So instead I pass it by, and I longingly caress it ,and I wonder, do European babies have extremely tiny heads? Or are the Europeans simply mocking us. because thre size tag also says EUR 9-12 months. Are there babies bigger and better at such younger ages? Or is it routine to torture your baby while dressing her in Europe?
At least I was able to get a picture of Helen in her cute little European boutique dress. She doesn't look so hot. her eyes are squinty, likely a result of the long struggle to get the dress over her head, or perhaps a flinching in anticipation of Mommy trying to squeeze her head through some other opening on some other dress. But the dress looks damn cute.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Strange days indeed

Today is October 16th. Ruthie started school. Preschool, but it's school. When we picked her up after school, the teacher told us she cried If you know Ruthie, this is kinda surprising. Ruthie is pretty social, and couldn't wait to start school. She didn't want to talk about it initially, but eventually she told us that she missed us. My poor little pumpkin. But she says she can't wait to go back.
Also surprising is that today I did not cry. I had some good reasons to cry, and anticipation of it made me well up, but when today rolled around, I did not cry. Why would I have cried? Well, for starters, today was the exact day, five years ago, that Benny and I found out our first little baby-to-be, whose heartbeat had been seen on an ultrasound just two weeks prior, was no more. That teeny weeny heart had stopped. It was one of the most devastating experiences of my life, and the beginning of a year that was the lower than I knew I could go. I spent a good portion of that year thinking I would never be a mother. Despairing really. I don't think I dwell on it, but I do remember this date every year (coincidentally, for all you Catholics, also the feast day of St. Gerard, patron saint of expectant mothers). So I expected to be welling over with tears of gratitude. For that, and for the fact that I was looking at Ruthie, and remembering her first weeks. After her birth, for a few days at least, I wasn't sure she would live. Then ,when it looked like her survival was almost a guarantee, I wondered if she would be "okay". I knew what preemies were up against. I'd done my research. I knew it would be along time before we knew if she would have any physical issues, and even longer probably before we knew if she'd have cognitive ones, or social ones. For all we can tell, Ruthie has dodged a big bullet. Here she is, going to school with a bunch of other three-year olds, and looking and acting no different. She amazes me. And really, I know it's a matter of luck. Really, really really good luck. I did think about that today. And I thought about the times when I thought I'd never be a mom. And I looked back at my two little girls sitting in their matching car seats in the back of our car, and I remembered all the things I thought I'd remember. But I guess, unconsciously, I decided today was best lived in the moment. Getting here wasn't necessarily easy, so I'll enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Inertia Project

I followed through on my inertia experiment yesterday, and instead of trying to take a nap, I kept myself busy. It had the intended result of keeping me from becoming a total bitch (don't ask me why further sleep deprivation would improve my mood... just trust me when I tell you that if I'd gotten, say, 45 minutes of sleep and then been awoken by a child, it would not have been pretty.) And I got some more purees made and a batch of chocolate brownies baked. These brownies were supposed to be "to die for," spinach puree and all. They aren't. They are gross. The only one who likes them is the baby, which is fine becasue she is the one most in need of veggies in her diet. Ruthie actually told Benny, after tasting one, that in fact, it was NOT a brownie. But I digress.

My day was not without its share of unintended consequences of my sleep deprivation.

  • While making breakfast for the girls (scrambled eggs with cauliflower puree hidden in it), I accidentally mixed the ingredients in with what were supposed to be the discarded egg yolks. This required a rescue effort involving scooping said ingredients out in as much quantity as possible without getting the egg yolk. Yah, right.
  • I managed to get the girls dressed in some cute Halloween attire for our MOMS club Halloween craft activity, and got them there, sippy cups in hand...and two different color shoes on my feet...yay. At least they were the same style of shoe, and they were black and brown, not green and red or anything.
  • And the culmination of my day occurred at 9:30 p.m. approximately 17 hours after my wake up call, after finishing up my volunteer duties at the NICU. I locked the keys in the van...with the engine running...in the hospital parking garage (yeah, Triple A guy, I'm on Level 1 in the AMC garage...yeah, the one that faces the hospital...I'm in that bump-out thingy...it might be visitor parking. Which vehicle is it? It's the silver van...that's running...with no one in it...) Excellent. No cell phone...locked in the car. No wallet...locked in the car. Thankfully AAA was able to find me and rescue me in about 25 minutes.
Inertia project complete.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inertia

Today is shaping up to be a long day. A very very long day.
You see, yesterday, I excitedly purchased myself a copy of Jessica Seinfeld's (why do I want to keep calling her Jessica Simpson??) new cookbook, Deceptively Delicious. I spent the evening making several fruit and veggie purees to hide in my daughters' food. I finished the night later than expected and tired, but went to bed happy. At approximately 04:45 hours, Helen awoke. Consequently, so did I. I tried to ignore her in the hopes she would return to sleep. She didn't. I got up and rocked her. She fell asleep in my arms, and the second I put her in her crib, she awoke. I let her cry a little longer. I brought her downstairs and laid her on me while we watched yesterday's Oprah (thank you, TiVo!). Finally, at about 6:15, realizing she was hopelessly exhausted and so was I, I returned her to her crib. She tricked me. She would cry for about 10 seconds. Stop. Remain quiet for about 2 minutes...just long enough for me to think she was asleep. Then she's start again and cry for about ten seconds. Stop...you get the picture. So, while I returned to bed, I did not return to sleep and I have essentially been up since 4:45. Groan...this is the night I volunteer at the NICU. Therefore, after spending the day with a tired toddler and a generally food preschooler who cannot always be cajoled into a nap, I will pass my husband in the doorway when he comes home, and venture to the hospital. I spent my first hour awake (well, it was really my third hour awake, but my first after failed attempts at more sleep) scheming ways to exhaust my preschooler so she would nap. And trying to figure out just exactly when I should put Helen down for a nap. It's precarious. Too early and she won't sleep when Ruthie does (might). Too late and she will be overtired and will cut her nap short by an hour or more, resulting in an even more tired toddler. I also mulled over the many, many things I have to do, like make more purees, and try baking chocolate spinach brownies. And then I remembered inertia. Good old inertia. Remember it from Science class? An object in motion remains in motion..blah, blah, blah. Today, I am going to test this. I already know that it is often damn near impossible to get off the couch when i am exhausted and have collapsed there momentarily. Or longer. Sop instead, I will not allow myself to stop. i will keep moving today. And a the end of the day, I will have many more things crossed off my to do list. And maybe, just maybe, it will be better than scheming and plotting to sneak in a nap. I don't know how caffeine plays a part in this whole intertia thing, but I'm not against trying it out. And at the very least, when I arrive home from the NICU, I will be so freaking exhausted, that I will collapse into a deep, deep (deep) slumber. And knowing that tomorrow is Benny's day to get up with Helen and the roosters will make it that much sweeter.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

One Hundred and One Ways to Ki** Yourself

This is a project my younger daughter is working on. I am convinced she awakens each morning, and her first thought is "How can I k*ll myself today?" Ruthie may have been offered this same mission, but she apparently declined. Helen accepted with enthusiasm and a work ethic that makes a mother proud...and terrified.
I beleive the first time I determined she had a death wish was many months ago in the grocery store. At the time, she was about 14 months old, which, when you adjust her for her prematurity (something we preemies parents must do until about age 2 1/2), put her at just under a year. Ruthie is an easy kid to keep track of most of the time. She doesn't run away, and doesn't hide under displays. Her worst offense is that sometimes she gets distracted and doesn't follow me when I move, and then panics when she realizes I'm not right next to her. But her shrieks of terror make it easy to realize she's lost sight of me, and we are reunited quickly. So this particular day, Ruthie walked and Helen was riding in the seat of the shopping cart. When we finished our shopping and reached the checkout line, Ruthie walked to the bagging area while I swiped my credit card. "Ma'am, your daughter," came a voice from behind me. I glanced over at Ruthie ,who was standing just where she had been, doing nothing wrong. I assumed the voice was not addressing me. Again, "Ma'am, your daughter." I turned around and the woman pointed to my cart (which was, I might add, right next to me). I turned to find Helen poised halfway out of the cart and halfway onto the conveyor belt. From about mid thigh down, she was still making contact with the seat or side of the cart. But from the waist up, Helen was on the conveyor belt, ready for a ride. One move of the belt (which fortunately had stopped because our groceries were done being rung up), or one slip of the cart's wheels and Helen would have hit the supermarket floor, no doubt catching the cart or any other odd object on he way. I grabbed her, placed her back in the seat and realized that I had neglected to buckle her into the seat. I always buckle her into her seat. I must have been distracted. And Helen, being the observant child, waiting for mommy to slip up, seized the opportunity. And, Helen was off and running, well on her way to complete her mission. I think my life expectancy was shortened by a few years that day.
Helen's other discoveries in the quest include:

  • Plunging headfirst into a large tub of ice water while at a neighbor's cookout
  • Attempting to scale the butcher block cart in our kitchen using the towel rods and shelves on the side
  • Using the bar on the back of the high chair as a makeshift trapeze
  • And her most recent, attempting to walk up to her nose into the pool at our gym. The pool is zero-entry, like a beach, so Helen can easily walk around in there. She keeps going in until she is nearly submerged and one of us grabs her. Sometimes she flails and screams and winds up falling under anyway. Mmm...nothing like a big gulp of chlorine water to quench your thirst.
I could probably tell you more, but it's gotten deathly quiet, and I'm sure she's back at work...gotta run!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Homophone

I am tired of referring to my daughters as Thing 1 and Thing 2. It doesn't flow. So I will henceforth refer to them by their middle names. Maybe someday my cyber-paranoia will dissipate and I can refer to them by the beautiful names I bestowed upon them at birth. But for now, their middle names, given for beloved family members, will do quite well. So, the-child-formerly-known-as-Thing-1, the older one, will be Ruth, or actually, Ruthie...it's cuter. And Thing 2 is now Helen.
So, anyway, Ruthie starts preschool in about ten days. the teacher we met last year has since retired. She had an uncommon name, somewhat difficult for little kids to pronounce, so she was referred to as Mrs. K. All spring and summer we have been talking about Mrs. K. I call the preschool with a question in early September and am informed that Mrs. K retired. I am given the name of the new teacher, which I guess I didn't catch, and I speak to her briefly. Seems perfectly pleasant. A couple of weeks later, we get our confirmation letter with the official school start date, and the name at the bottom catches my eye, and as the voice in my head reads it, it catches my ear as well. Her name is Mrs. Seaman. Close your eyes, say her name, and you will know. I am cursed with a gutter brain, as is my husband. So why, for the love of God, does our kid get a preschool teacher whose name is a homophone for male ejaculate? Is this my punishment for teaching her the words penis and vagina? It isn't enough that Ruthie randomly bursts out with unprovoked phrases such as "I have a vagina...Daddy doesn't." Now she will add semen to her vocabulary. Or Seaman. Please, God, please, let them call her Mrs. S!!