Thursday, November 17, 2011

Working It

I have been working my ass off. At home. At work. With friends. Everywhere it seems I have been working hard. Hard to make things work. Does that make sense? Since going back to work, scratch that, since I became a mom things, to me, have seemed a bit jumbled. My very personality begs me to bite off more than I can chew. And I often do. It makes life more challenging, fascinating. But the thing about biting off more than you can chew when you have a child is, the thing you should be chewing can easily be your child.....maybe a bad analogy....

I took so long to go back to work. I needed time to figure things out. Because when I went back to work I didn't want to drop the ball, not with Walter, not with work. When I work I want to be fully engaged in it. I want to be successful. I am a hard worker. I love to work. Work has always been an outlet for me to very realistically measure my success. Contrast that with becoming a mom where the only measure of success I have some days is making it through with little to no tears. There are very few "thank yous" even fewer "good jobs". But nonetheless I do a good amazing job each day 24/7 365 days a week. Walter is happy and healthy, clothed appropriately, I know intuitively when they he is tired, hungry or needs a diaper change, I go to the park, I feed him healthy foods, I play with him, I make sure his needs are met. Yet, there is no measure of success, except a smile or a belly laugh or a "I love you mama" or a kiss. In some ways a few weeks after having Walter I was ready to get back on the work horse. Sleep deprivation and fear got the better of me.

So I've been back to work for just shy of six months. I have a promotion under my belt. I work hard. I put in long hours. Its been really hard and exhausting but so rewarding. I was asked to move up to the "fast track" to management. It was SO tempting. I stepped back and said no. I am going to take it slow.  I've been very nostalgic this week. It could be in part because I am in charge of our store's Holiday promotion this year--the holidays ALWAYS make me nostalgic. It could be in part that most of Walter's little friends are turning two. I can't stand it, they are growing up SO FAST. Whatever the reason I've been thinking of the past a lot lately. 

One observation that keeps swirling in my head; if I am in the same place I was six years ago, do I regret leaving the company? Do I feel like I've gone backward? And the simple answer is no. The amount of wisdom I've learned in the past six years could fill libraries. I am so grateful for those life lessons. I have a happy child who is healthy and our relationship has only strengthened since going back to work. I also know I don't have to be the consummate "go getter" at work to be doing a good job. And most importantly I feel like for the first time, in a very, very long time I am finding my sure footing. One foot confidently in front of the other. And that is the best feeling of all. So I am going to keep up all the hard work and go slow.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Adventure of Making a Halloween Costume

Jose and I began talking about Walter's Halloween Costume in about April. You see Walter has a title to defend: 1st runner up at Geraldine's Halloween Costume Contest. And so the costume creation time line goes something like this:

April-Mid-September: The great debate begins! Walter should be a ninja (Jose's idea, I wasn't too thrilled about it--we do call him our sleep ninja since he does get out of bed seemingly unnoticed and sneaks up on us, but does a ninja costume win first place at Geraldines Costume Contest? ), I wanted him to be a bumble bee (I just thought it would be cute to see him as a bumble bee because after all he did spend half the summer trying to pet them) however Jose wasn't too keen on that idea since it conjured up memories of Blind Melon songs for him. And the conversation kept going something like that, for months.

Mid-September: During a costume conversation alternate ideas were being thrown out left and right, until Max was mentioned from where the Wild Things Are. Yes we both agreed it was super appropriate, since it was one of Walter's most favorite books.

Mid September- October 23rd: I search the internet for ideas on how to make the Max costume, think about going to the fabric store and getting fabric and the supplies needed to make the costume. All the while Jose is supplying me with an increasingly frantic countdown to Halloween. "The costume will be ready won't it?" I always supplying the laid back stock answer "of course it will"

October 24th: After much internet research I figure out how I am going to construct this costume and go to the local consignment store to make the necessary purchases.

October 24th-26th Jose is becoming increasingly more and more sure that the costume is not going to be made in time and starts reminding me more and more frantically about making it. Cool as a cucumber I assure him not to worry.

October 27th: During the season finale of Project Runway I begin my costume making endeavors. Taking it as a good omen that Anya, the one who just learned to sew just four months ago won. I get the major construction of the costume done.  See procrastination always pays off in the end. Phew! I can rest a bit now!

October 28th: Get into a pretty lengthy battle between the costume, glue gun and myself. Luckily none of us were battered beyond recognition.

October 29th: A wonderful date night surprise by Jose! Where the costume wasn't mentioned once....

October 30th: The glue gun battle of '11 wages on and for the first time I seriously start freaking out that the costume won't be done in time. Thus leaving my only child costume-less on Halloween and therefore becoming the official worst mom ever.

October 31st  (Halloween): I go to work, almost shitting myself at how much of the costume must still be made. At work I construct a plan with contingency plans in my head for the execution of how I am going to get everything done by 330 in time for the Columbia City Trick-or-Treating party. It includes a trip to Ross, totally ignoring my entire family and working solely on the costume for the rest of the day, but it just might work and I might redeem myself as a good mother.

October 31st 337pm: The costume is complete! Thanks to Jose and Walter's infinite patience with me and some help from them too (they painted the crown). Walter now refuses to put the costume on. On the inside I am struggling to keep it together, if he sees how much I want need him to put the costume on I know there is a better chance of snow in hell. So I play my part and he eventually puts his costume on, only he doesn't like the whiskers, he won't wear the crown or the hood.

October 31st 4pm: It was hard work, but everyone is out the door and the Halloween celebration begins, with the whiskers tucked out of sight, the hood and the crown off the head.


This year we weren't quite as lucky as last year and did not win anything at the Geraldine's Costume Contest. It was fun and challenge to make the costume and I loved every minute of making the costume and then watching Walter wear it all afternoon and evening. That was prize enough for me.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And hello, again.

Argh! A month has passed since I last posted anything. I truly intend to post, like three times a week, even! I feel like a trifecta of events are keeping me from doing it.
1.  I have had a massive case of writer's block/fear that causes me to think everything I write is boring and trite, and for the most part it probably is, but thats kinda the point of a blog now isn't it, its to make the boring and trite seem fun and exciting to read.
2. Then there's the whole job thing, that makes me feel like the life force has been sucked out of me sometimes. I swear I don't know how other mom's do it, children, work and blog, I am barely keeping the child and work alive, the blog has turned into an afterthought as I am going to sleep at night slowly withering away.
3. And then there are the things like cooking dinner, occasionally cleaning the house (laundry included), and trying to keep some semblance of a social life in order you know the peripheral things in life that make it all worth living?

So there is my trifecta of not blogging. Now that I have that off my chest I am going to take a stab at it again. Three times a week. November is national "write a novel in a month" month so I figure I am turning that into "write my blog three times a week" month. I can do it, and if its boring a trite you don't have to read it right? Right.

Ps I am including a link to one of my favorite vlogs by Jenna Marbles-- its inspiration to keep writing. You can find it here.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

An apple a day....

Part of the reason I took on doing the garden project was to show Walter food doesn't just 'appear' on the shelves and stands at the market but it needs to be grown, cultivated and harvested. That there are seasons for growing and then for enjoying. His love affair with the snap peas come to mind--he still goes out to the back yard and asks for them. Couple that with my love affair of going to my neighborhood's farmer's market is to build a relationship with the actual people who grow the food we consume.  I have become pretty food savvy--or so I thought.....

There is the little nugget  of information I learned yesterday that singlehandedly re-ignited my zeal for buying food from the source. Here's why; my friend was asking about Braeburn apples and why she hadn't seen them in the stores. The man replied "because they haven't been harvested this year yet". But apple season has just started and those Braeburns had just been in the market in July, somewhere they must have been harvested. And then it came out, the truth, most apples are frozen at harvest and thawed out when they are ready to be sold. Apple season only really lasts from August-October, ergo apples should only be available then. And then I think of all the apples I have eaten between October and July.

Now I realize that harvesting and freezing is not the same as injecting meet full of hormones or genetically modifying a food. But I do feel a bit bamboozled by this information. It also makes me leery of buying apples from a grocery store from now on. Or perhaps maybe I should buy a year's worth of  apples from my apple friend at the farmer's market and then freeze them myself. I just can't get over the fact that I've paid money for a very old apple thinking it was fresh.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Aren't you embarrassed?

A few months back I posted about "the mess" the all consuming "mess" that comes with raising a child. Here is an update in my ongoing relationship with "the mess".

"Aren't you embarrased?" Jose asked rather pointedly when he was feverishly picking up at 330pm waiting for our nanny to come watch Walter while we enjoyed a much needed night out together.

"No." I replied back at him.

It stunned me. Usually I just reply to questions like that defensively like it was somehow an attack on my ability to keep the house clean. But this time I meant it. To my core. I think I've become at one with "the mess", could that be? To quote the great author Sark from Living Juicy, "you do enough, you are enough, you have enough." I think that is singlehandedly the best piece of advice and the hardest piece of advice to follow.

Something has got to give, working 20-30 hours (I have NO IDEA how moms who work full time do it), being the sole night time parent (ie the parent that wakes up if the child wakes up), playing with and educating Walter, nursing Walter (that is a whole other post in itself), feeding the family, household chores, family calendar planner, wow, the list keeps going but I finally get it, in the words of Sark: I do enough. If there are crumbs on the floor when the nanny comes, oh well.

I think it also comes down to my priorities. And yes, I would rather go to the park on a nice day and play with Walter, than mop. I would rather teach Walter jazz hands as I teach him his ABC's, than the laundry, I would rather give my family tasty meals than vacuum. So in all honesty no, I am not embarrassed, because those things will be there in five years, Walter, however will be in first grade and then, hopefully, just hopefully there will be time to tidy. But for now, I am at piece with the mess--at least for now.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Peas in a pod

One of the best things about working in retail is you get to be a dutiful observer of other parents and THEIR children; their interactions, their tantrums, their sleeping habits. It is great!

I once listened to a child scream on and off in our lobby for 45 min, and that is after I started timing it, so I am sure it was more like an hour.  I have witnessed a mess of gargantuan proportions and a dad on his hands and knees trying to clean it up. A mom bringing her daughter still in her pajamas into the store at 530am so the rest of the house could still sleep. A dad comes in orders a coffee puts it at a table, leaves the store and only after walking his son around the block lulling him to sleep first in the stroller does he come back to enjoy his cup of coffee as his son sleeps peacefully in the stroller next to him. I have seen more 2 and 3 year-olds decide they want to crawl on the floor for a bit--more power to you all! These are all things that Walter has either done or will do at some point. My personal guilty pleasure is going through the Starbucks drive through in both our PJs when he wakes up so early.

So what do I take away from this? Kids are kids. This is what they do. And there are a whole lot of parents going through it. I have no idea why this point is driven home to me so much better when I witness these things for myself instead of the intimate settings of play-dates and family get-togethers. But it does. It also gives me the strength for the next time we are out and Walter starts screaming at the top of his lungs for seemingly no good reason. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Summer Vacation

Some say when you are a stay-at-home mom and part-time barista at the local coffee shop you don't really get to experience the phenomena known as summer vacation....or do you?

I chose to. I chose to be lazy. I chose to bask in the sun. Swim in the lake. Go on hikes. Enjoy the days that seem to never end. Grill with friends. Work in the garden (results varied click here for an account) Yes all of that was my summer. And of course the blog went by the wayside. I still journaled, and thought up posts that to me were funny and witty, it just somehow seemed I couldn't bring my ideas to coherent electronic entries, so around the end of June I decided to "go on vacation".

The best and most anticipated part of the summer was Walter's second birthday. I am an official mom of a two year-old. Walter is now a two year-old?! You mean "the baby" is now a "little boy".  Really? Because when I signed up to be a mom I thought the baby phase would last longer. Walter now tells me what he wants to do, this morning it was water coloring (he is going to give Picasso a run for his money I am sure of it). Walter now tries to express himself as best he can, a rather big work in progress. Walter jumps on the bed and laughs at jokes. When did all this happen? Why didn't anyone tell me it would happen so quickly?  I have also spent my summer awestruck at the fact Walter is becoming himself, and trying to walk to tight rope of letting him be himself and setting boundaries (no playing trains on the stairs, please). A walk that sometimes ends in disaster and sometimes, shockingly well.

Sunday it was supposed to get up into the low 90's so we went to Golden Gardens trying to escape the heat. Walter played in the surf for what seemed hours, until the sun was low on the horizon, his lips purple and his teeth chattering. A first for him, squealing and laughing the whole time. Loving every moment of it. Monday we woke up and the sun had been replaced with clouds and the 80 degree weather replaced with 60 degree weather. Summer vacation is over. Time to fall back into life.

Friday, June 10, 2011

What Big Boys Do

Yesterday was a series of mind-blowing firsts as a mother. I am so grateful to have been there to witness them all....

Mind blowing first #1: I asked Walter if he wanted to dress himself, he said yes, I told him to go pick out a shirt, he did, and proceeded in putting on the shirt himself, the only snag was the head hole which proves to be a bit hard, since he has the head of a four-year-old, according to his summer hat. I then told him to pick out pants, he picked out a practical pair of blue sweats, and put them on all by himself. WHAT?!?! When did he learn to do this? He did it! I was over the moon

Mind blowing first #2: Showering since Walter was born has been a group activity, and it seems just as I've embrassed the "duck throwing game"* he changed the game. I got into the shower (sorry--hope the visual hasn't turned anyone away), started doing my business at rapid speed waiting for the duck, but only there was a strange silence....Oh shit I thought to myself, I should have put the baby gate up at the top of the stairs, as my heart lurched up into my throat, I called Walter's name, no response, so I stick myself out and do a visual investigation, whereupon I find him on the comfy brown chair reading to himself! The best part? He looked very agitated that I would disturb his reading!

He's growing up. Last year it was how tall, how much weight he could gain, this year its been more subtle. Being able to entertain himself, the words and phrases he has learned, the facial gestures, jokes, the personality blossoming, its mind-blowingly incredible. Sometimes I just want to freeze time and live in a moment forever like yesterday.

*Duck throwing game consists of me grabbing his rubber duck and throwing it over the curtain rod for him to catch, then him getting the duck, running back to the shower, pulling the curtain back and then throwing it at me, repeat as many times as necessary until mom is clean.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Treasures Found

I am getting rid of my old iphone. It has cracks in it, the on/off button broke off, it had been dropped in the toilet, actually its been dropped more times than I can remember, this phone was a trooper. We sold it on ebay and it fetched a handsome $182.50 not bad for the condition it was in, and considering it is 2.5 years old. So last night I had to erase all the stuff that was on there but first needed to go through it to make sure nothing sacred was lost.

I am so glad I took one last look.

On it, in the notes section were tiny snip-its of journal entries from when Walter was first born, sleeping and feeding logs, a rundown of his routine from the first time I left him for an entire day, and many other gems including an e-note from my neighbor. So I wonder, as our civilization becomes increasingly more technologically advanced, will the scraps of paper that once contained those things be a relic of the past? I immediately emailed all those "notes" to my email and now they are just sitting there, waiting for me to do something. I think what will most likely happen is I will print those journal entries out and put them into Walter's baby book. It was so fun to read, so fun to reminice and so amazing to see how far we've come:


607 up
830 nap nursed down (5 min) got really cranky no other sign was tired
9 am woke up on way to car
1030-12 3 cat naps @ movies lasting no longer than 10 min
1245 fell asleep in car
115 woke up at home
530 cried on jose's shoulder
550 woke up ate prunes animated
645 went back to sleep by water
730 woke up, fought sleep
10pm asleep water/rocking in arms/singing/nursing
145 155
3am hands and ATMs flailing 316 popped offa lot
430 4440
720 woke up
Total sleep: 9.5 hours
Total night wakings: 3
Total night sleep: 7
Total naps/hours napped: 2.5

After reading that I was instantly transported back to that day, I remembered being so tired and the auto correct making ATM out of my intention to write arms. I am so grateful to have those lost memories come back, I hope I can find some more somewhere else.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Plan

So a quick disclaimer this post is going to be rambly, philisophical--it's more of an agmaglamation of all the posts I've wanted to post last week but I have been to tired to think about or write coherently.

Work has kicked my ass! I've only worked 30 hours last week but it feels like 300. My feet ache, my body aches. But its all good, I am finally being paid to mop floors and clean toilets, so really I've earned myself a promotion! Its fun being able to concentrate on the task at hand and not always worrying about where Walter is, if the wall is being colored by marker, the toilet stuffed with too much toilet paper, and where exactly did those strawberries come from. Its also amazing to start AND finish a task without being interrupted. LOVE IT. I like the fact that I am a barista and not a mom, I like making coffee and getting to know people.

At first I thought Walter was pretty okay with me leaving for work and then I started opening (meaning I had to be out of the house by 415am) and all hell broke loose. He cried and cried for 30 min, asking for me and there was no consoling by Jose. It was horrible. And then on the back end he now insists that I start putting him to bed. It is horrible and I felt like a shitty mom for leaving him. For two reasons, its hard on him, and then because I like being at work.  I know Walter likes hanging out with Nikki, he hugs her good-bye and runs to the window to watch her leave an act he does for only those close to his heart. And I just recently found out that she lets him play ball on the stairs which is strictly forbidden by Jose and myself, so he is having a good time. He has picked up painting with her too and LOVES it. So I don't want it to sound all bad. Its not. Its just an adjustment that is being made.

I of course start thinking of my plan I had for myself. Go back to school get my nursing prerequisites and go to nursing school. Very little of which has happened. And I hate that. I could hear the disappointment in my grandma's voice yesterday when I told her I was working at Starbucks again. I hate disappointing people. Its the worst feeling in the world. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past year is that you can't please everyone. And you have to be pleased with yourself and your life before you can start pleasing anyone else. So what is the plan you ask? I am throwing the planning book out the window into the compost pile. I am a mom, I have a job, I am writing this blog, which I intend to update at least three times a week,  and I need to be a good partner/spouse. And the rest well I figure that will fall into place. Maybe I will be a nurse, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll open my own coffee shop up, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll write a bestseller and never have to work again, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll have another baby, maybe I won't. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I am focusing myself in the present, and setting myself up for success in the future. The rest falls to the wayside for now, its simply not important.

The other key to this conundrum is the fact that I love being at home with Walter. I love making dinner for my family every night. I never thought I would, nor did I think it was very PC of me, in fact I think I've really had to grapple with the fact that I would rather stay at home and raise my family than have a career. There I said it and I am now singlehandedly setting the woman's movement back 40 years. But thats the thing. That's what I want, thats my prerogative, it may not be what Sally wants down the street, and thats okay. I think we as women have come far enough that if we want to have a family and career we should be able to, and if we want to stay at home we should be able to, and if we want to work part-time making coffee we should be able to. To me that is what the feminist movement has been/is all about, giving women the choice.

We don't know what the future holds but we learn from our past. So I am giving up on the plan for awhile, I am going to enjoy the summer, enjoy my son, enjoy my wonderful partner/spouse, enjoy my friends and family, enjoy my job and then get back to planning when I feel like it.

And if you are still reading, thank you for listening, or reading, or just being there.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Note to My Kid

Two months ago my cousin contacted me asking me to write a letter to Walter for his new project called ANoteToMyKid.com. This website is a collection of letters from parents in different parts of their journey in parenthood some letters are to grown children and some are to toddlers such as Walter. The parents were asked to write to their child and tell them how proud of them you are regardless of their sexual orientation. I am so proud of my cousin Patrick Wallace for doing this and honored to be a part of this. In the same breath I am also very saddened that this website needs to exist. As a mother I cannot imagine shunning my child because of who they are atracted to and love.

I have watched as friends have been rejected from their parents, family and friends because of their sexual orientation.  I have also watched as other friend's parents have surprised them and totally accepted them. And now I am the parent.  I only ever hope for Walter is that he be in a loving and respectful relationship, the who it is, is up to him. As a parent I cannot fathom rejecting my child because of who he is attracted to and I want Walter to know that always.

So wrote a letter and will support Walter and the greater cause in anyway I possibly can. I love this concept for a website. Write a letter, tell your child you support them and are extremely proud of them for who they are. Let them see it and know it. And maybe, just maybe, the stigma of homosexuality can be overcome by love. Because at the end of the day it matters not who you go to bed with, but that that person treats you as respectfully and lovingly as you deserve.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Lazy Sunday

Late morning brunch that consisted of an adult conversation of which Thomas character we like the most, on when exactly we are taking a trip to Disneyland, and of course how good the Eggs Benedict was. Well deserved naps that went into the late afternoon. Cuddle time on the couch where if the rest of the world fell away it would be okay because the three of us were snugly next to each other. Grilled steak and asparagus with roasted potatoes and sourdough bread. It was the most divine lazy Sunday that could have been imagined. I am the luckiest mom alive.
 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Nudity?

If you haven't heard yet, the town of Forest Park, GA has just recently passed a new ordinance banning public nudity. And guess what? If you are a mom breast-feeding your over two year-old toddler you are NOT exempt from the law. I would like to ask the law makers of the great town of Forest Park a few questions, how did they arrive at the age of two? Just how they plan on enforcing this new law? And I think the most important question is why in the world is breast-feeding (at any age) considered nudity?

I just don't get it. Breasts have become over sexualized, people forget why they have been put on this earth to do. Breasts and de-facto lactating is what makes us mammals. How can breast-feeding be indecent if that's what you're supposed to be doing? Its not indecent and its not nudity. Pure and simple. It is a time tested way of providing nutrients and comfort to your child. Furthermore how in the hell would you be able to explain to your toddler, sorry no milk right now we are in a public place and there is a law against that? 

I digress, the best part of this whole story? The 300 angry breast feeding moms went to Forest Park's city hall and staged a nurse-in. For those of you not in the know a nurse-in is where you basically breast-feed with a whole bunch of other women to get your point across. Can you imagine 300 (well 600 if you include the nursing babies and toddlers) sitting on the steps of city hall nursing? There must have been some really happy babies and calm toddlers there.

My hat goes off to those 300 women who nursed-in. Thank you ladies you are amazing for doing that! And for everyone else I offer this little piece of advice: breast-feeding doesn't harm anyone, so if you are offended please just look away. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mama Anna's off the Hook Chicken Curry

So a few weeks ago I noticed something in our spice cabinent, we had 4 four jars of curry powder. Um...what? So I've been experimenting with various curry dishes. And what I am about to share has been a toddler pleaser twice now, seconds, thirds, fourths were asked for ("mo, mo, mo, mo, peesssss" with squinty face smile). I call it Mama's off the Hook Chicken Curry.

2 boneless chicken breasts or 3 boneless chicken thighs
olive oil
yellow curry
sea salt
1 1/2 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
1/2 yellow onion
peas (any other green veggie)

Prepare the rice according directions.

Heat about 2 Tbs olive oil in large skillet on medium high heat
While olive oil is heating slice chicken into 1/2" strips
Season chicken with about 1 tsp of sea salt and 1 Tbs of yellow curry
Cook chicken until all the way cooked through,
while chicken is cooking dice onion
once chicken is cooked through remove and add about 4 Tbs yellow curry and onion to the skillet
Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions are nice and soft
Add chicken back in, reduce heat let cook together for 5 min,
Add rice in, mix together until rice is yellow in color, add in veggies, cover and turn heat off until ready to serve.
Enjoy!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Time is Fleeting

Nothing makes you more aware of time passing then having a child.

Friday marked another milestone. My self-imposed extended maternity leave ended and it was last "full" day as Walter's stay-at-home mom. I planned the day to be special but not have any special pomp and cicumstance. And I only cried once! Somehow I couldn't keep it together when I was dressing Walter and trying to explain to him how I was going to go back to work and his new "friend" Nikki would be hanging out with him instead. And he just looked at me like "I know mom, this is going to be great for the both of us".

So we did the Genesse Park loop which is a nice 3 mile walk down to Lake Washington from our house. We've been doing this walk since last fall and it really does show off how much Walter has grown up. The walk (not always) includes a stop to Starbucks, then up a steep hill-- when we started doing this loop I had to push Walter up in the stroller, now he can walk it himself. Then down the backside of the steep hill, over to the northend of Genesse park where we (sometimes) stop at a playground, then over to the astroturf soccer field and ran the lines for a few minutes. Then it was across the street to the "agility" playground to practice agility. Six months ago Walter couldn't do one of the exercises on the playground, now he can do about three (with my help of course, but he knows what to do!), then it was to the walking path--my personal favorite, this is where we spent all fall in the mornings walking, picking up leaves, splashing in puddles and trying to catch birds.

We came home and well, Walter refused his nap. I like to think of it as him knowing somehow it was our last day together just him and I and he didn't want to miss a minute of it.

After "nap time" we went to Lakeridge Park with some new friends we've made this spring. Lakeridge Park is brilliant! It has a hiking trail, creek you can picnic next to, and a nice sized park. Lakeridge Park is tucked away in the very south end of Seattle next to Lake Washington. Walter played and played and played in the water. He loved it. His favorite game was "throw the shovel upstream and try and catch it". He dunked his head under water. He was having a ball. He and one of his friends then ventured on upstream for an in water hike. It was a great way to spend our time together. Did I mention it was one of the first days in Seattle over 70? It made the day perfect.

What can I say our last day together was magical. I know that there will be days off and I know that my job description doesn't lend itself to that high stress or taking work home with me, but still an era came to a close on Friday, and a new one begins. Its super sad and very exciting all in one breath.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Go the F*&! to Sleep: An update!

Update!
Go the Fuck to Sleep is being released early due to popular demand (and I suspect the digital copy leaks on the internet). And what a controversy it has started to stir. I mean, this is the way I think of it, and I do consider myself a bit of an expert here, if you can't laugh at the shitty sleep situation you are in, then you might be a robot.

I mean every parent has been there and now one parent has enough courage to actually write a witty and articulate book about what every parent feels. It is not the end of literature as one critic has said. It is satire if anything this book will propel satyrical literature. Okay now I am going to far and I realize this. But this book is a very comical stab at a very serious issue that most parents go through and like I said if you can't laugh at it, then maybe you are a robot.

I have provided a link to pre-order your copy from Amazon today if needed.

Parenting and the Internet

I honestly have no idea what parents did before the internet. Just as, I honestly never knew that this amazing corner of the internet existed. I affectionaltely call it the parenting corner. Where you can find all the answers to your child's  needs, ailments, and reassurance you are doing a good job.

Walter is acting up and out of control, what happened to my angel? askdrsears.com to the rescue! I don't know if Walter has an earache or not and what exactly does Scarlett Fever look like? babycenter.com's symptom guide to the rescue! I am having a down day and think I am the worst mother in the word parenting.com to the rescue with a funny story or blog post to cheer me up!

I know most likely grandparents were the ones to share the wealth of childbearing knowledge but in today's world where grandparents sometimes live 1000's of miles away and the thought of calling someone in the middle of the night because you don't know exactly what rubella is. I am grateful for the internet and the wealth of parenting advice it has for me to explore. And the fact that the internet doesn't get hurt feelings when you don't take it up on the advice is even better!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Toddler Bites

If the first year of life can be marked by the phrase "baby steps" then I think the second year of life can be marked by the phrase "toddler bites". Depending on which toddler you are talking about the last phrase could have many meanings. In Walter's case it means that he will take exactly one bite of banana and play for 15 minutes come back and have exactly three bites of his bagel and go back to playing for another 10 minutes and then come back for a swig of water and then go back to the business at hand. Then there are the times where he will ingest an adult portion of spaghetti and veggies, eat through an entire bagel, or an entire pint of blueberries and insist he wants more.

This all provides for stress. Who knew that eating would cause so much stress? This was definitely something I did not anticipate. I stress out about how much he eats or if he doesn't eat, when he eats and when he doesn't. At any given moment you could ask me how much Walter has had to eat and I can give you a detailed description down to the last crumb. Now there is a talent I never knew I had.

So here are my golden rules of combating the stress of Walter's eating habits:

  • When thinking about how many servings of fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, ect Walter has I don't think in terms of per day, I think in terms of per week. Or not as a snapshot but rather a video. Some days its all carbs and some days its all broccoli.
  • Typically the biggest meal of the day for toddlers is lunch, so I don't freak out if he has four bites of banana and 19 Cheerios for breakfast
  • I keep an open door policy for Walter all his food is on a shelf he can access in the pantry so he can get his food himself, likewise for the fridge, he just needs me to open it.
  • And I try to have healthy super-foods on hand such as blueberries (the amazing little berry that has too many good vitamins and antioxidants to mention), salmon, yogurt and oatmeal.


And what exactly are the guidelines for serving size for a toddler? Check out the age-by-age guide that babycenter.com has. It is a truly magnificent tool. 

At the end of the day I know my job as mom is to offer healthy selections and it is Walter's job to eat. But it is so hard when I ask if he wants an apple? no. Banana? no. Cheerios? no. And then he settles for the 3rd cheese stick of the day. Huh? Cheese the wonder food for toddlers and adults alike.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Thomas is his name...

When Walter was a brand new baby I would look at him and marvel, what would he be interested in as a little boy? Airplanes? Bugs? Dinosaurs? Trains? Art? Dolls? Animals? Cooking? Playing house? Super heros? And I had a hard time imagining it. I think part of it was I really didn't want to influence him in anyway.  So now its almost two years since my marveling and I think the answer is trains, followed up by planes and helicopters. Walter loves to sit in the windows that face north and watch the light rail trains come and go. So I can see how trains are a natural fit.

Late last week we had family friends over for dinner and after dinner the four-and-a-half year-old asked if he could watch TV. We put Thomas the Train on--one of the few shows that Walter has seen--we have a very strict rule of no TV in the house until 2, but only for special occasions is the rule bent. Walter and his friend watched Thomas the Train and were so happy. Walter even made up a dance to the theme song which included him waving his arms in the air.

It rained yesterday, all day. We were all low on sleep and all Walter wanted to do was watch Thomas the Train. And when I say wanted I mean insisted, and by insisting he was kinda crazy, like Beatles fan crazy. Walter was pointing  to the TV and waving his hands in the air like he did on Thursday night when the theme song came on and then asked for Thomas incessantly. So I went to the internet and printed out some coloring pages for him. It quelled him for a bit. But then the insistance started up again. Jose and I came up with a plan: Go to Barnes and Noble via light rail and use the rest of Walter's Christmas gift from his grandma (a $50 gift card to Barnes and Noble) after nap time. So we bribed our child to sleep with the promise of a "great surprise" when he woke up. 

We would rode the light rail into downtown with every intention of getting just this one Thomas the Train book.  One of Walter's friends had this amazing Thomas the Train book that Walter was kinda obsessed with when he was over at his house in late March. So we intended on buying just one book but....we came out of Barnes and Noble with almost $100 worth of Thomas the Train merchandise. Jose and I had been fighting getting Walter anything "commercial" for so long, and now we had done it in spades. On the 20 min light rail ride home Walter couldn't wait and we read two of his new books to him, over an over again. And I ask you now, how can that be such a bad thing? Walter loves reading about his newest obsession Thomas the Train and has totally forgotten about the TV.

I have posted what we purchased just in case there are any other Thomas affinanados reading, because in the world of books, they are pretty cool! And I also see we should have bought all these books on Amazon as we could have saved about $15. Live and learn!

    

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sleep strikes and other such disasters...

When I was about 9.1 months pregnant and my best friend, Lara sat across from me in my living room and we were talking baby talk (her daughter is now 11), I suddenly sat up and asked;

"When should I expect BeaWally (Walter's name in utero since we were waiting to find out the gender when he was born-- Beatrice, if a girl and Walter, if a boy) to sleep through the night again?"

I can't even remember what I was expecting the answer to be,  but the answer I got was certianly not it, but what I needed or wanted to hear.

Lara got very serious and said "Don't expect to consistently sleep through the night until BeaWally  is in kindergarten."

"What?!" I asked incrediously.

"I don't mean that they won't sleep through the night before hand, they will it just won't be consistent. They don't sleep because they are working on a new skill, they don't sleep because their teeth bother them, they don't sleep because they are sick, they don't go to sleep because they know that it bothers you. There are a million reasons why they don't sleep, but they don't and if you expect them to you will just be setting yourself up for hard times."  In short I could expect to sleep very little in the next 5 years.

My head started spinning. Surely Lara's daughter was some sort of outlier.  Surely I wasn't going to be sleep deprived for 5 years? And more importantly why, oh why, had no one told me about this before?

Now in the almost two years that have come since that conversation I am happy to say Walter has slept through the night. Though not consistently. He will always go to sleep but then around 1 is when he likes to wake up. He is a huge night waker, especially when he is working on mastering a new skill or teething. There was a string of one nighters every 4 weeks until he was about 8 months old where he stayed awake for 24 hours straight. That was crazy. No one, not even his doctors could figure out a reason for it. And then just like that he stopped.

There are people who suggest sleep training. Which is an option. But we haven't tried any sleep training for two reasons. First reason, to me (and this is only to me) the amount of time and energy it takes to sleep train isn't worth it. Because once they get sick, start working on mastering a new skill, the routine is altered in any little way, all that sleep training is out the window and you have to start at the beginning. Second reason, is I am a freak. I don't need a lot of sleep to function and while I do complain about not getting sleep when its bad, I would rather not sleep than train Walter and have to listen to him cry-it-out. I can't stand to hear him cry. So I sacrifice the sleep, and I am okay with that.

So when there are nights like last night where I didn't get to sleep until a little past 4am because my darling boy was teething so bad he whimpered "mom, mom, mom, mom" for 5 hours straight, I console myself with the fact that this will all soon end when he goes to kindergarten. Three years isn't that far away is it?

Now I do realize that what I have just written is a huge generalization. Some babies sleep through the night almost immediately. Some babies take to sleep training like a champ. But not all and I am writing this to those that, like me, whose children don't sleep through the night consistently and can't/won't sleep train. You are not alone.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward

Another lifetime ago I was a Starbucks store manager. I came to work at Starbucks as a barista because I was laid off from my job as a Post Production Manager at a documentary film company. It was supposed to be a temporary job. A job to help me until I found another job. But only, I stayed. I quickly climbed the ladder and before I knew it I was responsible for a store. My time a Starbucks was hands down my most favorite time ever working. Yes there were still days I wanted to call in sick and forget I worked there, but they were very few and far between. I enjoyed putting the legend into legendary...

Fast forward to today. I've been looking for part-time work in the health care field. I haven't been too successful at it, out of possibly 50 resumes I've submitted I got one interview. And lets face it it has been very intimidating to go back to work after being out of work for so long. Then a Starbucks store manager friend of mine suggested I put my application in. No way. I mean, no. I left Starbucks. Barrista? what in the world did that have to do with becoming a nurse? Nothing. That's what.

But then I started thinking.

This year we want to buy a house. I want to actually earn money, not just spend it. I wanted adult interaction. I wanted a job that I didn't work exact opposite hours so that our family was never together as a whole. I needed a job that I didn't take home with me at night. I wanted to do something that I excel at.

A barista is it. The store is four blocks away from our house. I can walk. I know the job, I could do it in my sleep.

So I applied. I went to two interviews, and now I have a new (old) job. A job I was luke-warm in thinking I would want to take I am really excited for next week when I get to don my green apron once again. Only this time, I'm not the boss.

Friday, May 13, 2011

....and we're back

Sorry for the interruption. This time it wasn't me being a slacker blogger. Quite the contrary. I was busily clack, clack, clacking away during nap time yesterday and went to hit the 'publish' button and much to my dismay, it said "unable to publish at this time, blogger site down for maintenance--read only mode is available." Okay.....I guess it was some kind of huge maintenance as I wasn't able to post anything as of bedtime yesterday.

Yesterday's post wasn't that great so I suppose I am glad it didn't post. It was gloomy all about the sad weather Seattle is experiencing and me wishing we could have just three days in a row without rain. I mean its mid-May!

But yesterday's service interruption combined with my vacation just goes to prove how hard it is to keep a blog going. There is a certain amount of dedication and determination that is needed for it. I wish I would have started blogging again earlier. It really does serve to clear my mind. The past month it has served to be my reset button during the day. I have foregone my naps that I usually take with Walter to write. I feel more refreshed and a bit more centered. This doesn't happen when I just write in my journal. I think it has something to do with being in the public forum. I can't deny that it is fun watching the stats, seeing that people ARE actually reading it. There was even once a reader in Russia. They have since not read my blog again. That makes me sad, as I love Russia, and anything Russian, that may have been my proudest moment. I am grateful for anyone who reads.

A month into it the blog the number one suggestion that I have received has been the ability to leave comments is hard. I will work on that. Until then you can always click on the 'email me' 'pencil' button at the bottom. I can post your comment then in a 'dear abby' sort of fashion. I know some of you have gone to the facebook page and left your comments there. I will figure out how to make comments easier to leave here. I need to start breaking into that html business again. Just when to find the time...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No use Crying over Spilled MIlk

....a mom must have come up with that phrase after the 1000th time cleaning up after her precious little bundle of joy. Seriously. Seriously I was not prepared for what is the mess of having a child.

The first six months is not that bad in retrospective. Its just poop that expodes all over the place and spit-up. But brace yourself...the mess lurks just around the corner. We walked into Walter's aunt's house last year (Walter was about 8 months, and his cousin 4 years old.) and it was cluttered with toys pushed to the side, under the couches and incorporated into the living room decor. I stood there in my ivory tower and wispered quietly to Jose "we will never let our house look like that". Ummm yeah, a year later it does I say as I am eating my humble pie.

Don't be fooled by "the mess" in the beginning it really is a begnin presence, some baby food here, a dropped utensil there. It really starts at around six months for two reasons, most babies start eating solids AND they have the motor skills to throw things. Why, oh, why would mother nature be so cruel, doesn't she know that is a messy combination?  So food is thrown, toys are thrown, then they become mobile and toilet paper and boxes of Kleenex are fascinating beyond all belief , there are  the dumped glasses of water, pulled books off the shelves, the gravity game from the high chair with the baby food--splat on the floor, hand prints on the windows, marker on the floor and before you know it the mess is all consuming. And you could be cleaning all day long and still not make a dent in it. Because once one mess is cleaned another has been created.

You have two options, fight it--cry over the spilled milk. Or embrace it--growing up is a messy adventure.

Embracing it is hard, especially when I was so judgmental about the messes of others just a year ago. But mess is the nature of growing up. Its gonna get messy. Its how you deal with cleaning up I think is the key. At our house we have a couple of rules:
  •  if something spills we clean it up right away. And so far Walter loves doing this.
  •  At the end of the night we put away all the toys/art supplies/books that were taken out and not put away throughout the day
  •  Try to put the last book read on the shelf before taking a new one off (we are at 50%) with that one. 
  • Walter throws away his own diaper
I am also lucky in the fact that Walter loves to dust and use the broom so I foster this behavior any chance I get and praise him for the great job he did. I live with the hope that one day, in the not so near future the mess will leave, but I know better. So I have my friend the mess to keep me company.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Home again, home again jiggity-jig

So, we are home. I know that the blog, much like my house plants has been neglected since we left for California. And I had such aspirations of having all my posts that I so diligently prepared beforehand self-publish according to the auto publishing feature. Better luck next time. 

We went down to Southern California for my grandfather's 90th birthday party. Ninety years old?! He is an amazing man, who has lived through amazing times. He is also the man Walter is named after. 

Traveling with a toddler is an adeventure. Well traveling is an adventure period. But with a toddler you need to be prepared for anything. The X factor is huge. We are lucky in the fact that Walter is fairly easy going. He survives on minimal sleep while still managing to be his adorable and funny self, impressing all the family members.

However it seems there is always that looming X factor. I think is what makes the adventure stressful. Did he sleep enough? Is this place too loud? Is he too hot? Does he need more food? There is always something that sets him off. And trying to guess what it is before it happens is sometimes a hard thing to accomplish. At my grandfather's birthday party at 3pm he promptly stuck his fist down his throat to gag himself and with that we had to leave, when babies turn to bulimia to signal they are done, its time to go. I so wanted to stay. I only get to see my family a handful of times a year and Walter was having such a good time playing with his cousins. But we had to go. It was time.

Its that X factor that always keeps me just north of enjoying myself completely on vacation. I want Walter to enjoy himself so that he likes traveling. I try to make it so enjoyable for him that I forget about me. This is not to say I had a horrible time, hardly. I was back where I grew up, I saw friends I hadn't seen since I left for Seattle, I got to hang with my whole family, it was  great time. I just hope Walter had an equally great time.

Now we are home, the routine is back as if it never left and no one has to resort to baby bulimia to get their point across anymore. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

21 Months and Counting

Today marks 21 months since Walter was born. He's doing great, finally starting to really articulate himself, eating more and more every day, and has recently mastered running. Watch out world. It blows my mind that I have been able to keep him more or less out of harm's way for 21 months, especially considering I hadn't changed a diaper for at least 10 years before he came along.

It also blows my mind that I have also been breast feeding him for 21 months. Yes I am that crazy breast feeding mom. When I was pregnant I thought I would breast feed 6 months tops. I didn't really research it, but knew that would be the way I would feed my baby. I mean why buy formula when you can have the real stuff for free? Sadly, that was my main reason to breast feed. Pre Walter. But a funny thing happened. I really enjoyed breast feeding. As a new mom adjusting to mom life this was one thing I was really good at. And most of all I wasn't prepared for the emotional and physical bonds that come with breast feeding.  And it is such an indescribable feeling to have something that my body produces kept my baby healthy and alive for the first 6 months exclusively and from then on as a super comforting, nutrient rich treat.

Like I said, at first my goal was 6 months. That goal came and went and it just felt like it wasn't the right time to cut the flow, especially since when you start adding solids its not just like they start eating and stop wanting the breast. So I said 1 year. At the end of July it was clear neither Walter nor I was ready to let go. So I readjusted the goal to 2 years, with the promise of a slow weaning process. And in a few months when the early days of August arrive I know that will be the end. It makes me sad (I am tearing up right now) and relieved (yay! After almost 3 years I can have my body back to me, all me !) all at the same time. I have no idea how I am going to go about weaning Walter. We've almost cut all the nursing sessions out in public. But at home he just loves to come over and have a little pick-me-up. I still nurse him to sleep at nap-time and when he hurt himself. It is still crazy to me, after all these months the milk still flows. And keeps flowing.

So in honor of 21 months and counting. I am going to dedicate Friday's posts to everything breast feeding. Information and dispelling disinformation.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Cause I'm Leaving on a Jet-Plane

We are leaving for Southern California tomorrow. I am so excited to have five non-stop days of sunshine I think I am forgetting to be excited that my grandfather is turning 90 and that is the real reason for our trip south. However with as excited as I am, and I am excited, did I mention its been in the 90's there? It hasn't even toped 70 here, I am meeting tomorrow with dread. One reason and one reason alone.

Getting there.

I used to have this romantic notion of the airport as this magical place where it connects people together. And who was I ever to pass up a beer on a bar stool chatting up whoever I could? Its fun. People are fun to watch too. Then on the plane you sit back, relax maybe read a magazine, maybe order a cocktail or maybe even have a nap. Ahhh the glory days of yore....

And then Walter came into the world. He's traveled by plane 7 times in his almost 21 month life span. Four times to California, twice to New Jersey and once to Denver. All times he's done great on the plane and its been fun to watch the progression of his awareness of his surroundings. From his first flight at 3 months where he had no idea what was going on to his last flight a month ago to where he was counting the different planes and squealed with joy when he saw them take off.

It is a labor of love to make sure Walter gets to see his family as much as he does. I don't mean this as a complaint at all but man-oh-man. Tomorrow morning is going to be some kind of stressful until we have successfully installed the car seat in the rental car and are off to my dad's house.

When traveling with a young child/toddler/baby life changes. Before you never even knew a counter existed where you check your bags. Now you pray to god you can chat the nice lady up an she will wave a bag fee or two for your 19 pieces of luggage you are taking (and that is just for a short four day trip). Before you breeze through securtiy, grumbling about those people "who don't have it together". Now you are one of those people who don't have it together. Just how do you fit the car seat through the metal detector? You used to amble through the terminal, maybe stop for a beer. Not now. It is time to entertain! And thankfully Sea-Tac is a great airport to see planes land and take off.

Then there is the whole flight. Which your number one mission is to ensure the complete and total satisfaction of this little human being. Our last trip to New Jersey was a doozie it was the only time flying (knock on wood) that Walter really wanted up and out, and really? Who can blame him? 5.5 hours sitting in the same seat? There is no down time on the plane it is entertain, entertain, entertain.

I have done all this and more. Meanwhile every non childed passenger looks at you as if you are a pariah and breaths a sigh of relief when they see you are not going to their gate/flight/row.

Monday, May 2, 2011

9 Years 7 months, 2 weeks and 4 days Later

So this next post has almost nothing to do with having a child. But I still feel I need to get this off my chest.

I was there. In New York City the morning of September 11th. I was drinking orange juice and coffee studying for the LSATs. The morning the sky was calm, crisp. The cat was in the windowsill trying to catch birds outside.

It started with a phone call.

"Anna what did I just see out of my office window, turn the TV on." My friend Stuart exclaimed.
"What? Why?" I hadn't ever heard such hysteria in Stuart's voice before. And we once rode on a train together through Russia.
So I turned on the TV, it was in Spanish, I couldn't get reception on an English station so I had to feebly translate. It was surreal I didn't think I was translating right, how could a plane hit a building? On purpose? I was still translating and talking to Stuart  as the second plane started flying low. Stuart was FREAKING out on the phone, once I saw what he was seeing in person I had the same reaction:
"Get off the phone! Get out of your building!" I shrieked.

I was a strange mix of panic, disbelief and kicking into survival mode. Water, food, how does the first aid kit look? We need provisions was all I could think of. So I made my way to the bodega down the street buying gallons of water and more canned food than I could literally carry home on my own. I got home and turned the TV back on. By then the Pentagon had been hit and Flight 93 had gone down. I was alone except for my cat who sat in the window blissfully unaware of how the world was changing by the second. I have never felt so alone before in my life. What the fuck was happening? Would I have to go into work at 3pm?

I took a shower. It was hot, I think the hottest shower I have ever taken. I didn't know what to do. I had friends who worked in the towers, by the towers, in tall buildings, in Manhattan. The waiting was the worst part. Where was everyone? Was everyone safe? What the fuck is going on? Way back in 2001 not everyone had a cell phone, I tried calling those who had one. "all circuits busy" that phrase haunted me every-time I tried to make a call for days. I sat on the couch chanting I am okay, I am okay hoping my family on the West Coat could hear it somehow. I knew it was early there. Maybe they hadn't heard yet. I tried calling them so many times. "all circuits busy". I am okay I kept chanting holding the phone.

I felt impotent. I couldn't watch the TV anymore. By this time the towers had fallen and the mass exodus was happening out of Manhattan. There was no subway service. I had a car. I figured I could pick people up and take them home. So I drove down to the Queensboro Bridge and started asking who needed a ride home. It was chaos, but a stunned chaos. I drove three car loads of people home to Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island.  My last car load had two people covered in white soot. Each car ride we were silent, except for the occasional direction.

Finally I was running out of gas and they had started running the subways in the outer boros again, it was time to go home. I left notes on friend's doors in our neighborhood to come over and let me know they were okay when they got home. Shortly after I got home my roommates came home with our friend Chris. They just happened to run into one another on their way home at Queensboro Plaza. How does that happen in a sea of thousands? But it did.

No one had eaten all day. No one wanted my canned beets I bought either. We debated if calling the Chinese place down the street would be appropriate or if they would even be open on such a day. We reasoned yes. We ate take-out Chinese and watched TV into the wee hours of the morning.

And now the mastermind of my most terrible day has been killed. And I feel numb. I can't be happy for a life taken no matter how abhorrent a person he was, I just can't be happy. But don't get me wrong, I am definitely not sad that he is dead. I am numb. I can't feel anything. I want to feel something about this. Instead I just remember that day, over and over in my head. And I never want anyone to feel the way I did that day.

 In past 20 months since Walter's birth I've actually apologized to Walter for not "cleaning things up a little more" before he came into this world. So much hate. So much animosity. So much division. The events of last night remind me never forget. Never forget how silly our differences really are in the grand scheme of life. Never forget to lead by example. To teach tolerance, love and respect for everybody regardless of what they believe or they don't, regardless if they live near you or far away from you, for we are all connected in one way or another. I hope this death brings a new era of peace and understanding.

And one day, I believe understanding is possible. And I dare you to believe and behave the same way.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My 12 Tooth Wonder

So I know of all the things to be proud of, the amount of teeth that your child has is a bizarre one. But let me explain.

While all of Walter's little friends were busy getting their teeth at 5-7 months Walter remained my gummy grinned wonder. Month 7, 8, 9, came and went and still no sign of his teeth. Then right before he turned 10 months (like the day before) he was inconsolable. And when I say inconsolable I mean nothing worked, not even my fail-safe faucet trick. I didn't get sleep for two nights. I had no idea what to do. And in a sleep deprived stupor I thought a trip to Babies R Us would cure it all. So we hoped into the car, drove to Babies R Us and bought some diapers, a push toy, some baby Mum Mums (best invention for teething baby ever),  and some beach toys for the upcoming summer. After the retail therapy binge session was over I strapped Walter into the car seat noticed that he, for the first time in two days he was quiet. WTF? I thought to myself. I put my fingers into his mouth for the requisite feel around, and sure enough there it was, his first tooth, just north of the gumline. Walter had a tooth! One day before his 10 month birthday.

He had two teeth to ring in his 1st birthday. His two top teeth came in at the end of August. And the top side teeth were quick to follow and by the middle of September when most of his other friends had 12 teeth he had 6.

Walter and his 6 teeth trick-or-treated, Walter and his 6 teeth ate turkey dinner, Walter and his 6 teeth opened Christmas presents together, Walter and his 6 teeth rang in the new year together, I nick-named him my 6 tooth wonder.  And then one late January day after a nasty bout with the stomach flu, a new molar emerged. Seven teeth! And in the past 3 months teeth have been popping out left and right. And yesterday Walter doubled the amount of teeth in his mouth in three months.

Enter my mom pride. I am so proud. And I know its a really ridiculous thing to be proud of. Teeth, everybody's got them, and will get them. And Walter was by no means late in getting his teeth, but still when ALL his friends (even his friends a few months younger than him) have more teeth than him you begin to wonder. Will it happen? Is there something wrong. Nope. Walter is just a late bloomer when it comes to teeth and I am ridiculously proud of him for having 12 teeth.

Only 8 more to go!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Go the F*&! to Sleep

Okay so last night was NOT a good night. This mama got nary a wink of sleep. And I know I should be napping while Walter is and that was totally the plan but the thing is my mind spins and spins at nap time. Why am I lying down when there is so many other things that have to get done? So I made myself a cup of coffee and decided to blog (okay so I can check one thing off my list).

I ironically came across a book yesterday that I think will be an instant best seller. It is called Go the F*&$ to Sleep. It is made to look like a children's book, but judging from the title it is more of an adult book. It is written by Adam Mansbach, a dad  who just wanted his little one to go the fuck to sleep. I mean honestly how hard is it to close your eyes and sleep? I know, its not always as easy as it seems. Case in point me writing my blog instead of napping. But wouldn't you think after a full day of parks, farmers markets and house hunting you would be tired? I know I was.

So cut back to this book. I wish it were out right now. I wish I could have read it over and over again last night and the countless nights before. It is so hard to be patient and loving when all you need is sleep. And I know I haven't been some nights. Some nights I let Walter cry while I try and sleep, while saying those same words in my head, why not just go the fuck to sleep? Of course after about 2 minutes of this behavior I start crying and then console Walter and try and coherse him into sleeping. Just knowing that someone else has thought these words maybe said these words to their child makes me feel like I am not alone in this. And also a great comic relief for the middle of the night jaunts when all you want to do is go the fuck asleep, but can't.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon, I am posting the link at the end of the blog. I can't wait to have my copy. October 11 can't come soon enough!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Farmers Market Starts Today

I have eagerly been waiting for this day since last October. The Columbia City Farmer's Market opens for the season today! We live three blocks away! I am so excited! I love, love, love going to the farmers market. I love meeting the people who grow the food that I put on our table. From April to October we eat produce mainly from the Farmer's Market which means our fruits and veggies are all locally grown (yay for sustainability!). Just thinking of those peaches from last September make my mouth water.

The food is great, don't get me wrong, but my absolute favorite part about the farmers market is the relationship you build with the farmers and their staff. They are so knowledgeable about seemingly every piece of produce they sell. You can ask them how their produce is cultivated, a lot of times, especially with the more "mom and pop" farms they cannot afford to get the certified organic label but still follow organic farming practices--not having that organic label also allows you to pay for "organic" fruits and veggies at non organic prices, a deal! And speaking of deals, going at the end of the market makes way more sense than the beginning...why? The farmers don't want to schlep all the produce back to the wherehouse where it could potentially go bad, so you are more apt to be able to wheel and deal some amazing deals toward closing time.

And  don't let me leave out  the live entertainment that you get to listen to as you stop to enjoy your ice cream on the grass. Last year Walter was learning how to use his sea legs and didn't stray too far from me. This year I am sure he will find many adventures to be had. I can't wait to see his expression, to see if he remembers any of it at all.

I can already taste the amazing sausage from Olsen Farms and see the beautiful flowers that will grace our kitchen window. I am so happy and grateful the farmers market has come back for another season!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Making the Sauce

This sauce rocks. If I don't say so myself. We eat a lot of pasta and Italian dishes that calls for red sauce in our house. I was on the hunt for a very economical, healthy and easy way to keep red sauce on hand. This sauce is it. It costs a fraction of what a jar of red sauce costs at the market and yields twice as much as well as you know exactly what is in the sauce. You can add carrots, mushrooms, peppers, sausage, more garlic (less garlic), cheese. I have provided the bare bones directions here. Enjoy!

1 can (28oz) organic whole tomatoes
3-5 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 gold onion
Balsamic Vinegar to taste
Fresh basil to taste

In a blender combine the can of tomatoes, 1/3 cup of olive oil, and 1-2 cloves of garlic, and 1/4 of the fresh basil. Mix it all together for no longer than 10 seconds. Set aside.

Chop onions up. In large skillet cook the onion in olive oil and a little bit of sea salt until the pieces are translucent and soft. Mince the rest of the garlic and add to the skillet. Throughly mix the garlic up with the onion. Cook together for no longer than a minute. Turn heat to simmer, add in the tomato mixture and the rest of the basil, chopped. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Taste sauce. Add the balsamic vinegar to taste. The purpose of the vinegar is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes down.

We had spaghetti with this sauce last night it is always a hit and I now have 2 cups left in my freezer waiting to be used in some other culinary delight soon!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Mom Squad

So I remember when I was childless and had just moved to Seattle and was thinking about how just truely awesome it would be if I had a child, if not for the soul purpose of, instant friends! I moved to Seattle six months before I turned 30 and the longer you are out of college, making good friends just gets harder and harder. I believe this was because the majority of college was spent drinking or studying, with the occasional shift at the coffee shop thrown in there. You had time, energy and desire for making friends. And then after college you start climbing ladders, getting married and buying houses.  To me it seemed simple, if you had children you would have to then be friends with your children’s friends parents.....

And then I became a mom. And whoever knew there was so many ways to be a good mom? I sure didn’t. I quickly found out that being a mom was much like working on your career. Cut throat. Now before I go any further I must say I am very fortunate in the fact that I found a very welcoming and non-judgemental group of moms. Whom I wake up everyday and am so incredibly greatful for having them grace my life. And since these are the first moms I met, Walter was only 2 weeks old, I kinda assumed all moms were like this.

Oh how wrong I was.

I have come to find out that moms are some of the most judgemental people around. Its almost like high school all over again. You have the designer moms who bring their Fendi and Prada to the parks in stelletos and forget it if your child isn’t dressed in Bon Bon Bebe, they aren’t allowed to play with your child. Then you have the working and mothering moms on their Blackberries as their children play alone in the park who can’t believe that there are some mommies out there that have sacrificed their careers for raising their children. Then there are the moms that go crunch that woudn’t serve anything but organic and breastmilk to their child and consider formula a crime.

Okay so weren’t we supposed to be the role models here? I never knew that mothering was so controversial AND a few steps backward into high school. I think it has something to do with the fact that in today’s world women have to be so many things to so many people and its just plain stressful when it comes to being the main caretaker of this little being that counts on you for everything. So when you see another mom that does something diffrently than you do, your first knee jerk reaction is “thats not the way I am doing it, so it must be wrong, my little Addison won’t play with her little Mckenzie”.

Like I said I feel so fortunate that I have a great, solid group of mommy friends. We formula feed, breast feed, dress our children in whatever was the best bargain, work, stay at home, but we respect each other because we know at the end of the day this really is the toughest job around and whatever works for their family must be working well because they have such happy and healthy children.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

There's a first time for everything.

I never, ever thought I would be feeding ANYONE let alone my offspring from a frog puppet we affectionately call Fred. Making Fred "ribbit" as Walter eats. Nope, never did. And my friends, tonight I did just that to get him to eat. I must go, I've reached a place I never thought possible.



Saturday, April 23, 2011

Growing a Pair

This morning the sun was shining, the birds were singing and Walter and I had a most lovely walk to the playground. We found pill bugs and played with them. We found rocks and collected them in his stroller as we went. We met dogs and pet them. We got to the playground and played. Up and down the slide, up and down the slide, repeat 40 times more. Hoarding wood chips. Exploring the underside of the play equipment. I swung him. I helped him climb. And then he walked to the entrance and said "go". So we went. I let him decide left or right. And then we were off like a heard of turtles.

Then came the corner of Edmunds and 36th. He wanted to go east and we needed to go west. This was unacceptable to him and proceeded in almost running out into the street to show his protest.

What happened next is a blur of 20 minutes of crying, sobbing, kicking and pleading. We were on a walking thoroughfare to the main drag of our neighborhood and there were plenty of spectators to this spectacle. I was pulling everything I had out of my hat. "Look at that dog!" I would exclaim, and there were actually two really nice dog owners that stopped and let Walter in his hysterical mess pet their dogs. I tried giving him choices "you can play in the school yard" or "we can walk home". "Breathe Walter. In out, in out." I said with exaggeration.

Alas in the end there was just no reconciling with him. He wanted to go look at the buses and cars on the busy street an we had to go home. Had he not made such a big deal about it I probably would have given in. But I don't want him to think that going all hysterical he would be able to get his way.  It took some doing but I did manage to get him in his stroller and he rode in the stroller home crying and me beside myself, we had been having such a great time before that corner, how did it all break down so quickly?

And sure it was embarrassing to have people gawk at us, I think we provided temporary birth control for at least two couples walking hand-in-hand, but in the end I stood my ground. It is so hard going from "you can't spoil the baby" to "a toddler needs consistent boundaries". In one of the blogs/magazines/books that I read about toddler discipline they equated the need for setting clear boundaries and expectations to the working world where you have a boss that doesn't set those clear boundaries and expectations and then writing you up for something you were expected to do. And it was like a light went on. Because I've had those kind of bosses before.

And so it stands, when we are outside walking hold hands while crossing the street. No running out into the street from the sidewalk. And above all else listen to the word "stop". This morning it didn't happen. We made a scene, and I could have cared less. It was a learning opportunity for both Walter and myself. So hopefully next time I can better deal with a breakdown and he will be able to listen better. Until that time, wish me luck as a begin to grow a pair!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Growing Up

Sometimes I can taste the envy like a sweetly made Manhattan.

Over breakfast at a very fun diner my friend Bianca was just telling me about her night last night. It was an ordinary night, she got home from work, went to the gym where she flirted with "gym boy" for like 20 min, met some friends for dinner, and walked home. We then excitedly chatted about "gym boy" and the hopes that some day he will ask her out, or perhaps she just had to grow some balls and ask him out. "but there is something definitely there". All the while I wanted to be able to just have one of those nights again. Nothing spectacular. Just free.

Then it was my turn to talk about my night

I too went out to dinner, but ended up chasing a toddler around the restaurant or begged him to eat pretty much the entire time, we too walked home but halfway home Walter decided he didn't want to walk, nor sit in his stroller so I got to carry him. Once home I tried saying good night to him (daddy does bath time and bedtime) and he screamed and cried for 5 min after. 

As this conversation was taking place as I was simotaniously entertaining W, listening to Bianca and eating my breakfast at rapid pace as I had about 10 more seconds until W would want to get down and start exploring the restaurant.

Long past are the days where I stay up past 10pm, let alone go out on the town and have a evening not to remember. And 98% of me is glad for this. The other 2% longs to have just one more of those nights. For freedom. For spontaneity.  But here's the thing about being a mom, even if I did have a night out not to remember, I have a little man who needs me when I get home. 

I am so glad to have had the life experences I have had. They are the ones that help me wash the envy down and realize that it is someone else's turn in the disco spotlight. In return I have the most amazing little guy who does the funniest things. Like it or not we all have responsiblities in life. Haiving a child is a big one. One that changes your life in even the littlest of ways. But most of all you really do grow up and become an adult (98% of the time). 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pro-Planned Parenthood

It was the beginning of December. I was 10 days late and the pregnancy tests that we had bought at the pharmacy all came back positive. I literally had no idea what to do, I had never thought I would be in this situation. The directions on the pregnancy tests said that even if it was a positive you had to get confirmation of pregnancy by a health care provider. So I called my doctor up and I was politely told that I wouldn't have been able to be seen for a few more weeks. I guess this was common practice. But I was freaking out. I hadn't planned on getting pregnant, but here were three different sticks saying I was, I needed the guidance of a professional. The scheduler said that I could make an appointment at Planned Parenthood if I couldn't wait for the initial appointment with my doctor. 

So I did something at the age of 30 I never thought I would do. I went to Planned Parenthood. My whole life I operated under the assumption that Planned Parenthood was a place where 16 year-old girls go to get free birth control. Yet I found myself at age 30 walking through those doors. 

They had me fill out paperwork, my income, my insurance, when was my last period, ect, and had me pee in a cup. Then came the waiting. I waited. And I waited. It was unnerving. I knew I was pregnant, it seemed a little ridiculous to me to make me wait for something that seemed so routine. 

Finally my name was called.

As we made our way into the consultation room the nurse and I introduced ourselves. Once in the consultation room that had pictures of ovaries, uteruses and embryos in various gestational phases, the nurse offered me a chair and then once we were both comfortably in our seats she said:

"you are 5 weeks pregnant, your due date is August 7th, and I take it from your answers here this was not planned, are you okay?"

I will never forget her kindness. I will never forget her asking me if I was okay. I will never forget thinking that it was going to be one hell of a hot summer and where were my tears?

"yes, well, I kinda figured I was, you know because of all the tests we took" I managed to stammer.

"Have you been thinking of your options?" She inquired

"Yes, but they all seem pretty shitty to me right now" I replied. 

And with that, she spent the next 45 minutes or so going over my options. In that same kind voice, with that same non-judgmental air about her. I left that night with an overwhelming amount of information but also I felt like I was going to be okay, this wasn't the end of my life. It was just the beginning. I also want to add the subsequent doctors visits I had with my doctor lasted only 20 minutes, if I was lucky. There was no one who ever sat as patiently and as kindly as that nurse at Planned Parenthood did that evening answering my questions, reassuring me it will be okay and to drink ginger tea for my morning sickness. 

So Planned Parenthood may perform abortions, and the last time I looked, abortions aren't illegal. Abortion is the single worst decision a woman is ever faced with, and thank god there is a place where woman can go that gives the facts in a non-judgmental way so that she can make the most educated decision on what is best for her and her family. A place where they advocate for information and empowerment from that information.

And by the way, what has just been written was intended to be factually accurate.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's for Dinner?

In another lifetime I thought cooking was a way to show off, a way to impress my gentlemen callers, or done on very special occasions such as Thanksgiving or a birthday. I only had a few recipes up my sleeve, full with flavor, drenched in butter and always a glass of wine to accompany. And they did the trick, they were impressive, but oh my goodness they were so labor intensive and the dishes afterwards took me at least three days to do.

Walter is not yet impressed with my culinary tricks nor do I think his growing heart could withstand the amount of butter I once used, and I know for sure the wine pairing is off the table for a few more years. So cooking has become more like a comedy of errors that miraculously comes out edible. While cooking meals I hear Padma from Top Chef saying "alright chef you have 15 minutes, time starts now". There is crying, on both my and Walter's part sometimes. But, somehow, someway well-balanced meals always seem to get onto the table.

What exactly constitutes a well balanced meal? How do I make it quickly? On (Tasty) Tuesdays I will attempt to share my little tricks. Granted I am not a chef nor a nutritionist and I only have the internet, a couple cookbooks and my own experience to draw from. Here is my rule of thumb:

  • Organic when you can (but always buy the dirty dozen organic), 
  • The meal must be at least 80% whole food--what do I mean by whole food? 
    • I must be able to imagine it growing
    • More than one ingredient  and the food is not whole
    • What has been done to the food since its been harvested? ie, refined, bleached, injected, chemically treated--you'd be surprised.
    • Is this part of a food or the whole entity
  • does the plate look colorful--the more colorful the more well rounded the nutrients will be.

The whole food bit throws a wretch into things because it means you cook a lot. But I make enough for seconds (which is either dinner another night or lunch for a few days), cook in batches and freeze so I can use it at a later time, and use the microwave when I can (gasp! I resisted the microwave for so long and then Walter really began to eat and I have reluctantly became a convert).

So what's for lunch?
Grapes halved, left over bow-tie pasta and black beans, steamed baby carrots (see how to below), with nice glass water of course. Very colorful and the only food group left out is dairy and lunch is ready in less than 5 min!

Steamed Baby Carrots
This is one of the reasons I am a microwave convert
Grab a handful of baby carrots put them in microwaveable dish;
put about two tablespoons of water in the bowl;
Cover with dish towel or paper towel;
Microwave the carrots for about 4 min, or until nice and soft;
Enjoy!