Sunday, March 29, 2009

Progress report.

I just wanted to share a quick update on our potty training situation. While I'm not a huge fan of writing about pee and poop, I know from personal experience that there comes a time when the subject is absolutely fascinating. When you're thick in the throes of potty training (or contemplating taking the leap), there is nothing more interesting in the world.

Potty finds a way to work itself into even the most unrelated conversations. And not just with other parents. Oh, no. Potty doesn't discriminate. Anyone within earshot is subject to a play-by-play of recent highs and lows. It's not our fault. Potty takes over our brains and turns us into crazy, potty obsessed people who can't help but saying, "Do you have to go?" every time we open our mouths.

It's not pretty.

But, it happens. Everyone with a child will someday be a potty zombie just like me. Sorry. There's just no way to get around it.

That is why this potty update is so exciting. It is much more of a we did it! post than a here's how it's going update. Hopefully you will never have to hear me talk about potty ever again.

And, with that, I introduce Liam's big bribe: Baby Mouse.

Cuter than I remembered but... are those human hands?

No, we didn't go three days without an accident; it had only been two days since I struck that deal. But, something so amazing happened, I couldn't help but throw my bare-bummed potty genius into the car and race off to the bookstore to adopt a new friend.

Reunited and it feels so good.

Saturday got off to a little bit of a rocky start. We were planning to go to the library to see the Nashville Ballet perform Ferdinand the Bull but I wanted to be sure Liam peed before we left the house so we would have a lower chance of a public accident (he would most likely be sitting on my lap, after all). So he sat on the potty and we waited. And waited. And waited. The closer we got to our estimated time of departure, the less patient I became. No amount of bribing him or running the water or counting down from five to one or sitting on the big potty next to him seemed to work. Nothing I could say or do was going to change the fact that he just didn't have to go.

But I had made the mistake of saying, "We can't go to the ballet until you pee in the potty." (A low point for sure and something I am definitely not proud of. Talk about pressure!) So as much as I wanted to go see Ferdinand, I couldn't go back on my word. No pee, no ballet. Besides, we had been sitting around waiting for the golden moment for so long, our ETD had long since come and gone and we had missed the beginning of the show.

Worse than that, I had become a big old grumpy pants, letting the strain of potty training (and my ever-fluctuating hormones) get the best of me. Fortunately, it was Saturday so I could slap off with Bill and take a little time to regroup and get back on my game.

While I was in time-out, Liam got to the point where he really did have to pee. Woo hoo! After a potty party* and a treat we realized we had just enough time to make the second showing of the ballet (we were supposed to go to Kindermusik but decided to skip it just this once). We rushed off diaper-free and stayed dry and happy throughout the show and all the way home.

By the time Liam's nap rolled around, I was ready for a rest myself. I got him all set with a Pull-Up (he wears one at nap time and bedtime now - it just seems like the reasonable thing to do) and brought the potty chair into his room just in case he had to go. Bill left to run some errands and I curled up on the couch to watch Gray's Anatomy and feel sorry for myself for no reason at all (hey, it happens).

A few minutes later, I heard Liam calling me from his room. I went in to see what he needed and found him sitting on his potty, beaming up at me. "I peed!" Sure enough, his Pull-Up was completely dry and he had peed in the potty! We celebrated and I somehow managed to convince him that just because he was a really good boy did not mean his nap was over.

I went back to the couch and settled in for what I hoped would be a nice long stretch of alone time. But not ten minutes later I heard Liam's door open. I peeked my head around the corner and saw him shuffling down the hall with his pants and Pull-Up around his ankles.

"Liam, did you pee again?"

"No, Mama. I pooped!"

We ran into his room and there in the potty was his very first big boy poop! This time around I didn't even try to convince him to go back down for a nap. We just hopped in the car and went off to get Baby Mouse. I think you would agree that, three days without an accident or not, he totally deserved a special treat.

It's been pretty much smooth sailing ever since. Last night when Bill put Liam to bed, he got up twice to pee before he fell asleep (we will have to tackle the dilly-dallying potty excuse at some point but not right now - one thing at a time!). This morning we woke up to Liam calling, "Dada! I peed!" from his room. Bill went in to get him and Liam was sitting on the pee filled potty and his Pull-Up was completely dry.

In 4 days we have gone from totally diaper dependent to, dare I say it?, potty trained. Yes, we will still be asking do you need to go? many times a day and celebrating each and every success but it definitely feels like the hardest part is behind us.

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*Potty Party: After Liam successfully pees or poops in the potty, we all rush in and dance around like fools while his two greeting cards that play music blast an awkward mash-up of Celebration by Kool and the Gang and I'm So Excited by The Pointer Sisters (or hip hop as he calls it). Then he ceremoniously dumps his pee in the big toilet all by himself and we have a dance parade out to the kitchen to choose a treat (usually 3 jelly beans for going potty and 1 extra for being super special). I suspect the dance party is his most favorite bribe of all.

PS - I'm so sorry I mislead you by saying this would be a quick update. To be fair, I also said I was completely obsessed and excited about potty and couldn't be held responsible for my one-track train of thought. You should have known a quick update would actually be more like a never ending monologue about all things pee and poop. Still, not my finest moment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Underwear and accidents.

I had planned to wait for Liam to show unmistakable signs of readiness before plunging once again into the mind-bending world of potty training, but thanks to Wal-Mart we have pushed aside our better judgment and jumped in full throttle.

Now I dislike Wal-Mart as much as the next guy, but I have to admit that every once in a while they get something right. Their White Cloud brand diapers are one such exception. They're cheap, never leak, and don't smell like pee like some of the fancier brands we've tried. They are the only brand we've ever used. We make special trips to the ghetto ass Family Fun Mart down the street just for the diapers. I can't count the number of times we've hurried past police officers to get to the baby aisle. But the diapers. The diapers! They're so good they're almost worth the trip.

You can imagine our disappointment when we found out this week that the diapers have suddenly, without warning, been discontinued. We didn't even get a chance to stock pile before being left high and not-so-dry without a diaper in the house.

When Liam woke up Wednesday morning and I realized we had also run out of our leaky-stinky-otherbrand-back-up-diapers, I slapped a pair of tighty whiteys on his cute little bum and told him he would be wearing big boy pants from now on. I don't know what came over me. I mean, up until that exact moment, I hadn't thought about potty training in months.

I didn't have a plan of attack or any idea what I would do if Liam peed in his pants in public but there I was, marching my diaper-free child out to the car and on to our Spanish class. I didn't even have the presence of mind to bring him a change of clothes. Something crazy had come over me and I was powerless to stop it.

Ready or not, we were potty training!

The random approach I came up with is something I affectionately call Underwear and Accidents. I am pretending not to be totally freaked out by the possibility of pee on my couch and he is wearing underwear or going commando at all times. He wears a Pull-Up at night or if he's in the care of someone other than me or Bill. Since this doesn't happen all that often I figure we can spare our friends and neighbors from the joy of accidents without setting ourselves back too too much.

So far I'd say our results are...mixed.

Wednesday was surprisingly good. Not only did he not pee his pants at Spanish class (how lucky am I?) he peed in the potty more times than not. I was kind of shocked. Last time we tried this old song and dance he would just hold it, hold it, hold it until I put a diaper on him and he could let loose without getting all wet. But not this time. Even when he'd have an accident, he'd usually get at least some of the pee in the potty. Half a success is better than no success at all!

But the biggest story on Wednesday happened at nap time. Still under the wicked spell of now or never, I decided to put Liam to bed in nothing but his underwear. Yeah. I'm not sure but I think I was trying to prove how ready I am for potty training. By putting him to bed without a safety net it was like saying, I'm ready for whatever kind of unimaginable mess you can make. Bring it on! Instead Liam, A) went to sleep in his big boy bed without a fuss, and B) woke up DRY.

I know!

With so much success on Wednesday, you might think Thursday would have been a breeze. Well, you'd be wrong. We had lots of accidents and resistance ("But Maamuh, I'm just not cozy in these underwear") and managed to get through the entire day without a single pure success (a trip to the potty that doesn't require a change of clothes).

The lowest of the low was when I took Liam to work with me (in underwear!) and he had an accident. While I was holding him. I wasn't in a Fortune 500 corner office or anything; just hanging out in an elementary school gym with some third graders. But still, I got peed on at work.

Liam was off by himself checking out the tether ball situation when all of a sudden a look of panic washed over his face. From across the gym I heard the uncertainty in his voice, "Mama?" I rushed over and scooped him up, trying to divert the other kids' eyes while making a bee line for the bathroom. By the time we were locked safely inside a stall, my arm was warm enough for me to know we had gotten there too late. I was somewhat more prepared this time around and quickly changed Liam into his dry clothes. But I smelled like pee the rest of the afternoon.

I woke up this with morning with no idea what to expect. Here's what I got:

Successes - 6
Accidents - 0

Seriously! He even got himself out of bed during nap time, unzipped and removed his footie pajamas, sat on the potty I had left in his room and peed in it all by himself. Then he called for me to come do the potty dance with him and decided that his special treat for peeing like a big boy would be not going back down for a nap. Eh. You win some, you lose some.

I am not sure why the sudden turn of events but suspect there are a few factors at work.
  1. His outfit. He stayed in his arctic scene pajamas for most of the day and was free balling underneath. I bet he has learned that once he pees in his pants he can no longer wear them and probably didn't want to give up his favorite jammies. I also read somewhere that underwear can make some kids think they are wearing a diaper so maybe commando is the way to go.

  2. He's growing. This is the third day of focusing 100% of our effort on potty training. He's a smart kid - maybe he's just catching on.

  3. We bribed him. Last night I got a whole sack full of treats at the grocery store. Everything from jelly beans and chocolate eggs to one of those greeting cards that plays music to bubbles and his very own pair of scissors. Small bribes (like three jelly beans and a dance party) for a single success; larger bribes for a full day of success (like today!). I have promised him that once he goes three days without an accident, we will go get the mouse puppet he's been coveting at the bookstore and bring it home for keeps.
At the end of the day today he decided he was finally ready to get dressed. He took off his arctic scene and hung out naked while he figured out what to wear. I wasn't the least bit surprised at what he chose (a green striped shirt and tan pants) but was quite taken aback at the way he did it. As he was pulling things out of his drawers he was narrating, "I need my green striped shirt with the threes on it, underwear, and tan pants." I didn't coax or prod or even let on that I was paying attention. But I was so proud of him! Underwear? Just like that? I think he's finally starting to get it.

That's some risky business!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My idea of fun.

Earlier this week, I was sitting on a friend's front porch watching our kids run around the yard, lamenting about the moms' group picnic in the park I had reluctantly RSVPd to attend the following day. I was telling her that shy and introverted people like me are not really into group activities or meeting people or even leaving the house if we don't have to. "I am so not a joiner. You know what I mean?"

To my surprise, she did not know what I meant. In fact, she started calling me all kinds of crazy things like friendly and outgoing and social. I was sitting there like, Do you have any idea who you're talking to? I'm shy! But the more we talked the more ridiculous it seemed to defend something I had so obviously left in the past.

Shy people don't sign up for neighborhood moms' groups with mandatory monthly attendance. Or stalk say hi to the hip hop teacher when she shows up for Saturday morning Zumba. Or give themselves a much needed curfew to reel in the late night socializing. Shy people don't go out of their way to ask potential strangers who kinda look familiar if they happened to take a hula hoop class a year and a half ago. Or give awkward hugs to mere acquaintances they are really excited to see.

I may have been shy for most of my life but it appears that ship had sailed.

It's weird to think that something that was a part of me for so long is just...gone. But, I suppose it was bound to happen. I mean, how could I go from lying spread eagle on the delivery table in a room full of strangers, screaming at the nurse to "get over here NOW!" (and by here I meant my totally naked hoo ha) back to so much as a shadow of my former self?

It's just like that commercial says - having a baby changes everything.

Maybe that's why moms' groups are so popular. Meeting up with a bunch of strangers in the park is a piece of piss after the dignity stripping initiation that comes with bearing a child. I mean, once you've put yourself out there like that (sooo literally), what the heck else could possibly be intimidating?

Still, joining a group that required actual physical attendance at least once a month was somewhat outside my comfort zone. I am all for offering support or striking up a friendship from the comfort of my own laptop but the idea of dragging myself and my reluctant child out the door for some good old fashioned socializing sounded about as fun as picking up dog poo.

I am not a big fan of being told what to do (and where to go and who to talk to at the park), but especially not when it involves my child. Liam is not one of those super mobile, go wherever I want him to go, bloom where he's planted kind of kids. And he's quite opinionated about what is fun and what is not. Once he gets to know you he is wonderfully sweet and delightful but you don't always get that from a first impression. I hate feeling like I'm making excuses for him (He just takes a little while to warm up to new people, Thanks for asking but he's not really into playing on the playground equipment, Oh that? It's just his notebook...) but that's sometimes how I feel around people who don't know us.

If you knew us, you'd know that we're sweet as can be but need to be coaxed out of our shells on a regular basis. It's not that we don't like talking to or being with others, because we really do. But we're just as happy being tucked away in our little home, alone or with each other. If the outside world never came a-calling, we might totally forget it was there. We could have given that Swiss Family Robinson a run for their money. Shipwrecked all alone in a beautiful remote location? Sounds good to me. If it hadn't been for those darn pirates, that would have been the perfect family vacation.

Oh, and the moms' group? It was fun. Even for a couple of introverts like us.

Liam even played with another child! I like to think that the more I push myself to be social, the more he will realize that it can actually be quite fun.

After all the other mommies left, Liam and I sat together on a swing, quietly taking it all in. I think he must have been pretty worn out from all the socializing because after a few moments he rested his sweet, sun-warmed head on my lap and kept it there while we swung back and forth, back and forth.

Now that's what I call a perfect play date in the park.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Namaste.

About nine months ago I discovered a Sunday afternoon Yoga class at my neighborhood YMCA that completely rocked my world. It was like falling down a rabbit hole. Each week was more like an adventure than a class. I never knew where our instructor would take us but always looked forward to the ride.

In reality, the class was just a semi-coordinated gaggle of strangers crammed mat-to-mat in a tiny, overcrowded room at the Y. But somehow our teacher helped us transcend all that. In the 75 minutes we were together, I lost all sense of time and place and when class ended, I always I felt a million miles from where I was when I walked in.

She often reminded us that we should take what she said as nothing more than a suggestion. "This is your class; your practice. If what I'm saying doesn't work for you, just do your own thing." She definitely led by example. Her class was unlike anything I have ever experienced.

It was approachable and fun yet always a challenge. I worked hard and stretched myself (literally) but smiled through most of the poses and often found myself laughing out loud. She would talk us through a pose pointing out all the intricacies that made it work: "Bend your front knee deeply while evenly supporting your weight with both legs. Tuck your hips and draw your belly in. Push into the outside edge of your back foot while keeping your toes turned in slightly. Keep your arms in one line like you are between two panes of glass and reach like you are being pulled in opposite directions. Look forward, past your hand. Now slowly curl the edges of your lips up into a soft smile. Ah, perfect. Smileasana." Then she'd laugh and we'd all laugh with her.

The music she chose ranged from typical to anything but. Once we did the entire class to John Coltrane. Another time it was a Native American and Tibetan Monk hybrid that she warned us, "might get a little freaky at times but just go with it." On Valentine's weekend we walked in to Al Green blasting through the speakers. "I wanted to put us in the mood for a little self love today," she explained with a laugh.

Sometimes she gave us lavender oil to rub into our third eyes (or, foreheads) to help us relax and make the room feel like a spa. It worked. Especially when she made her way around the room massaging our backs and shoulders while we held a pose.

While she was clearly serious about Yoga, she didn't take herself seriously at all. She would often say silly things that made her, and the rest of us, chuckle. Like instead of calling Ujjiayi breathing ocean sounding breath like most teachers, she also called it breathing like Darth Vader. We would be sitting cross legged with our eyes closed, focusing on our breath as she laughed, "Yes! We sound just like a room full of Darth Vaders doing Yoga!"

On more than a few occasions she serenaded us during our final relaxation pose. As we settled onto our mats, she would bust out her guitar and sing. Her voice, like her teaching, was a pure expression of joy and passion. As she belted out a song she learned on the beach in Brazil or chanted a traditional Sanskrit prayer, I smiled thinking she would probably have sung with just as much gusto even if she was completely tone deaf. It wasn't about her being good at something or trying to impress anyone; it was simply about her sharing something she loved with others.

I think that's why her class was so great. Unlike so many things today, it felt completely authentic. It wasn't what's hot right now or the place to see and be seen. She wasn't teaching for fame or fortune or bragging rights or to have an attentive audience to wow with her amazing Yoga skills. She was teaching because she loved sharing something she was passionate about with others. No pretense, no ulterior motives. No wonder we packed the place out week after week!

But, like they say, all good things must come to an end (for the record, I don't actually say things like that - I prefer good things to stick around awhile). Yesterday was the last class she will be teaching before she moves to Costa Rica. She has taken a job at an Eco-lodge in the rainforest where she will be doing massage and teaching Yoga to wealthy travelers looking to escape their busy workaday lives. Of course she is! No one in class seemed the least bit surprised.

Toward the end of class, right before we moved onto our backs for Shavasana, she decided she couldn't let us go without one last Happy Baby pose. From where we were on our backs, we grabbed our big toes with our index fingers and let our legs flop open, feet high in the air. "Now let's make some noise," she said with a laugh. "It's our last class so really indulge me." We took a deep breath in and exhaled loudly, sighing and yelling and laughing and giving her the send off she deserved - a cramped, sweaty room full of happy, and very grateful, babies.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tough love.

"Mama! I need you!" I woke with a start and turned to look at the clock. Whew. It was way earlier than usual for a Sunday.

"Liam," I croaked toward the door between our rooms. "Can you be patient for 5 minutes or do you need me right now?"

"I need you right now!"

I got up and stumbled into his room. As soon as I opened the door, I could smell what the problem was. Still, I was only half awake so I asked, "What's wrong, Buddy?"

"Well," he started slowly, coming up with some clues on the fly. "It's something that I do, that goes bwauh (he made a funny little noise and did his hand like a magician saying poof!), that needs to be changed."

"Is it a clean diaper?"

"Nooooo."

"Oh, I mean, is it a dirty diaper?"

"Yes! Good job, Mama."

"Thanks. Let's get you changed."

"OK!" He was so chipper. "There's poop all over me!"

"Ugh."

"And baby polar bear is all wet!"

"Mmhmph."

"Mama," he suddenly sounded much less excited. "Poop makes me really sad."

"Yeah, Buddy. Me too."

As I removed his wet and poopy jammies and quarantined the wet friends from the dry ones and ushered my super happy naked boy down the hall to the shower and scrubbed and washed his soft but filthy skin and slathered yummy smelling lotion all over him and dressed him in his favorite chick shirt and filled the washing machine with all the soiled bedding and everything else within a two foot radius and made pancakes with Liam and got cozy on the couch to eat and watch Ni Hau, Kai-lan, it hit me:

I really need a curfew and bedtime.

From now on I am going to plan to be in bed (preferably asleep) no later than midnight. Even on weekends (Liam's internal clock certainly doesn't know the difference). Sure, there will be occasions when this will seem completely absurd and arbitrary but I'm gonna need a really really good reason to break the rule.

I've seen Liam thrive on a schedule and somewhat strict parenting; maybe it's time I had a little tough love as well.

PS - The reason he called to me this morning instead of climbing into my bed all poopy (thank God for small miracles) is because two nights ago he asked if we could put the rail back on his crib. We're going to follow his lead and when he says he's ready to take it off again, we'll do it. We figure it's kind of like potty training - if you force it before the child is ready, it's a lot harder on everyone. Or so I hear. I obviously (see above) know nothing about potty training. I keep waiting for signs of readiness but have not seen any yet. I can't help but wonder, if waking up covered in his own feces doesn't make him want to use the potty, what the heck will?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spring is here.

I am so happy that Nashville weather cooperated with the first day of Spring today. I don't like it when the calendar says one thing and the weather says another. If it's Spring, it should feel like Spring!

We spent as much time outside today as we could, soaking up the sun and preparing our garden for a whole slew of home-grown goodness. We will be planting lots of tomatoes and herbs, some different types of lettuce and spinach, yellow squash and zucchini, peppers, strawberries and watermelon. Bill had a pretty straightforward plan but Liam and I got excited at Home Depot and started grabbing willy-nilly at all the pretty seed packets. Who knows what we'll end up harvesting this summer?

Today I cleared out the garden and turned the soil. It was a big job but fortunately I had lots of help.

When Liam wasn't busy blowing bubbles, he was putting dirt in the watering can, pretending it was snow and saying, "shway," (my rough translation of snow in Chinese - thanks, Ni Hao, Kai-lan!) as he poured it out. Most of the dirt ended up back on the ground but one watering can full went right over Sia's head (and down her back and into her diaper...). I guess he just couldn't help himself. Instead of getting upset at Liam for covering her in dirt, she immediately grabbed as much dirt as she could and threw it all over herself. Liam, who started the whole thing, was mortified. "Mama!" he cried. "Sia's covered in shway!" I couldn't help but giggle. And I knew he was talking about snow!

This weekend we will add our compost and get ready to plant. Let's hope the springy weather is here to stay!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fail mom.

Sometimes my husband and I like to spend Saturday night cruising the Internet for funny videos. It's just one of the many ways we've got this economy beat. Date night on a budget? No problem. We just grab a couple beers from the fridge, fire up the laptop and we're good to go. Who needs to spend ten bucks each on a movie and pay a babysitter when there's YouTube in the house?

Not only is it free, it's undeniably entertaining (like in a how old are we? kind of a way but still). And you can find just about anything. Like, sleepwalking dogs!



Or, David Bowie making fun of Ricky Gervais!



Or, probably the funniest cat video you'll ever see (I'll watch that for the title alone!).



There are also a whole bunch of "FAIL" videos that are kind of hit-or-miss but pretty funny. They're sort of like America's Funniest Videos except the word FAIL has replaced Bob Saget's commentary about drunk Uncle Lou taking down the bride in a money dance gone wrong or little Bobby trying out his new wiffle ball bat on daddy's groin.

Now, I love me some America's Funniest Videos but for some reason the whole FAIL thing strikes me as even funnier. I think I just like the word. It's so direct. Way more direct than most of us ever are. Just think about all the situations you could use it that you never, ever would. Like if a cashier gave you the wrong change and instead of saying, "Oh, I think I actually gave you a twenty," you just said, "You failed."

There are even specific genres within the genre. Like Fail Dogs. Fail Dogs? The name alone cracks me up. There are probably Fail Cats too but I've already seen the funniest cat video ever (well, probably the funniest cat video ever) so I didn't bother looking it up.

Today, as I put Liam's crib back together so he would be forced to take a nap and return from the land of sleep deprivation and public tantrums, I thought, I should make a fail moms video. It could be like a montage of pictures and videos of moms with good intentions failing despite their best effort but instead of the supportive or encouraging things we're used to hearing from one another (like, This is just a difficult stage, He'll grow out of it, I went through that exact same thing with my daughter, It's a tough transition for all kids...), it would just say FAIL.

For example, you'd see a video of a woman pick an exhausted child in a pre-tantrum state up off the library floor and carry him kicking and screaming to the car.

FAIL.

Then you'd see her convert her three year old's toddler bed back into a crib.

FAIL.

And place the (still tantruming) child in the crib and leave the room while he screamed, "I'm not tired! I'm not tired!"

FAIL.

It would probably not show the child fall asleep and take a 4 hour nap, waking up almost back to his well-rested, happy self. You know why? SUCCESS is just not as funny as FAIL (even when it's a temporary success that feels at the time like a two steps back kind of fail).

I've already converted the crib back into a bed and Liam went to sleep in it just fine tonight. Naps are more challenging for him though so we'll wait and see how he does tomorrow. We have been very careful to explain to him why we're doing what we're doing. It's not that he's failed at sleeping in a bed; it's that moving from a crib to a bed is a big change that might take a while to get used to. No big deal. Eventually it will all click into place but in the meantime, I reserve the right to use the crib if needed. Because I don't care how big a FAIL it is, an overtired kid is no laughing matter.

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I don't have any actual skills when it comes making videos but if I did, what MOM FAIL moment would you like to contribute to my project? It could be something you've done as a mom, something your mom did to you, or something you've witnessed (hopefully not at the Inglewood Library around story time yesterday). I had so much fun reading about your love/hate relationships with your pets (as I'm sure you did reading about each others) that I'm dying to hear more. Keep the funnies coming!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A small bed for Liam, a giant leap for me.

A few days after (sort of) converting Liam's crib into a (not quite) big boy bed, I realized the job I had done was not only lazy and half-assed, but also a little dangerous. The side I lowered was more-or-less attached to the rest of the crib but not exactly in a that's the way it's supposed to be kind of way. I was getting Liam up one morning when I noticed that, while the top was still attached, the bottom was jutting out several inches, no where near flush with the mattress. Warning labels with hand drawn babies wedged head first between a crib rail and a mattress flashed before my eyes and I realized that, ready or not, the side had to come off.

Liam was surprisingly fine with the transition. He is not typically the kind of kid who just goes with it when things around him change so I was expecting at least a little hesitation. OK, I was expecting full blown insecurity and regression. A temper tantrum would not have shocked me.

But no. Instead he's like Oh, a bed? No problem. Sure I've slept in a crib all my life but now I'll just change and sleep in a bed. A bed that I can climb or fall out of any time I want, even if it's really early in the morning and you haven't had your coffee yet or it's late at night and you're trying to have fun without me.

It totally freaked me out.

Perhaps the one feeling insecure and on the verge of a tantrum was me, not him. I can certainly attest to wanting to regress on occasion. Like to a simpler time when my baby was an adorable accessory who would babble or sleep while I did whatever I wanted instead of this person who, while amazing, needs to be taught and stimulated and conversed with and parented every moment of every day. Having an infant is physically exhausting, yes; but having a child is mentally and emotionally exhausting. It's wonderful, of course, but it takes a hell of a lot of work.

Gone are the days of letting him hang out in his crib, talking and singing to himself in the mornings while I shower or savor a few more minutes of alone time before the day begins. No longer will we be able to rely on our bedtime approach of set it and forget it when entertaining friends. I mean, if he can hear us having fun and can get out of bed to join us, why wouldn't he?

Sigh.

It's just... I don't know if I'm ready for a big boy bed yet. Maybe I just need a little more time to get used to this sudden loss of control and privacy surge of independence. But, no. It's happening. It's happened. He is in a big boy bed now (well, sort of...I am obviously not following the toddler bed conversion manual but rather making things up as I go along). He's growing up. He will only get bigger and more independent (yet simultaneously more challenging) from here on out.

As much as my selfish side wants to mourn the end of the crib era, Liam is much too adorable for me to wallow. He is so proud of himself and his ability to sleep in a big boy bed. He's even more proud of the fact that he can get out of his big boy bed and play in his room or wander around the house looking for us. We have tried setting some ground rules in an attempt to cling on to the last shreds of easy parenting but we've been swept up in a wave of pride and excitement, watching our little boy grow up before or eyes.

Each time I hear him open his bedroom door and come pitter-pattering down the hall, I assume I will walk him back to his bed and firmly remind his that he is supposed to stay there until I come get him (This is a joke, right? Do real kids actually do this?). But he is so happy that he found me all by himself and so excited to recount every last detail of his big boy bed adventure I don't have the heart to say, Yeah, yeah, you're very independent now, but you're SUPPOSED to stay in your bed. His wide-eyed, breathless explanations leave me choked up and full of joy. How could I possibly want to trade all that for a little alone time?

video

Even this morning when a tiny knock, knock, knock on my bedroom door woke me up, I was nothing but thrilled to see his smiling face. Yes, I had been at the bar with my friends until 2:30 in the morning. Yes, I could have used a little more shut eye (and a fountain Coke and uh, less beers the night before). Yes, I have asked him to stay in his bed until I come get him. But it's the unexpected elements that make parenting such a thrill.

I think it's time to just face the facts and embrace my roll. The grace period is over; I'm a full blown parent now.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wishful thinking.

If this was the kind of blog that had giveaways or contests, today's post would look something like this:

I know I'm not the only one who has a love/hate relationship with my pets. Pet owners everywhere, please post a 10 word comment describing what makes you love/hate the furry friends in your life. I'll get you started...

Cute, yes. But someone barfed a hairball on my sheets.

The first place winner gets Gretchen (the one on the right). Second place gets Mr.Bird. Good luck!

Since this is not the kind of blog with giveaways or contests, the following list will have to suffice.

Things I hate about cat hair shedding season:
  1. Vacuuming 11 times a day and still finding tufts of cat hair everywhere.

  2. Hair balls - hearing a cat yak one up under my bed, stepping on a camouflaged one on the area rug and not realizing it until after I tracked it all over the house, finding a nice wet freshy on my side of the bed... Come to think of it, there's nothing good about hairballs.
If you're bored or up for a pet-centric challenge (it's harder than you think!), go ahead and post a 10 word comment about your love/hate relationship. I promise I won't make you take my cats.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Like drinking a chocolate covered strawberry through a straw.

Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

3/4 C. frozen strawberries
1/4 C. plain yogurt
1/2 scoop chocolate whey powder
3/4 C. low fat milk (or more or less depending on how hard you want to suck)

Blend, pour & enjoy!

Please note that these are more like guesstimates than exact measurements. With a three year old doing the scooping, pouring and measuring, it's hard to say exactly how much ended up in the blender and how much ended up somewhere else. All I know is, whatever did make it into the blender was good.

Yum, yum & yum.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Slow...curves ahead.

Remember how I was all, exercising shouldn't be a problem because I can just do it at home or whatever and it's no big deal? Well. I was forgetting one teeny tiny minor detail that could potentially derail the whole get fit operation: I hate exercising at home. OK, maybe I don't hate it (that is kind of a strong word) but I really, really don't like it.

I have a hard enough time getting motivated as it is but when I'm the one who has to count reps and decide what to do next (Was it squats and then lunges or lunges and then squats? Where is my book? Liam, stop closing my book! Mommy is trying to get fit!), forget it. It's way too easy to get distracted and waiting to workout until I have a nice chunk of uninterrupted time has only made me realize that such a thing does not exist.

And don't even get me started on my at home work out space. What used to be an office/guest room with enough room for an impromptu dance party has accidentally turned into what can only be described as a large closet with windows and a fireplace. Last time I peeked, I saw a pack-and-play covered in cat hair, a whale tent, a basketball hoop, an exersaucer, several boxes of hand-me-downs, a few partially unpacked suitcases, some bags of stuff for Goodwill, a couple guitars, several stacks of books and magazines, and a growing to-do pile that I really need TO DO. Liam calls it the crazy clothes store and goes in there to "climb over the mountains" and search for bears. I keep the door closed and pretend it doesn't exist.

But don't think for a second that this lack of motivation and work out space is going to stop me from getting fit. Because it's not. At all. In fact, just last night I took a giant step toward Britney-esque hotness and upgraded my YMCA membership to include all the YMCAs in town. Now I can take full advantage of a wide range of classes including yoga and pilates and uh...step aerobics? Tai chi?

Oh, who am I kidding? I only upgraded for one reason and one reason only: HIP HOP DANCE CLASS! I went last night for the first time and I swear to you I am fitter for it today. It was just like being in dance class when I was 12 years old. We used 8 counts and worked on choreography and cooled down with moves that made me feel like a prima ballerina. And you'll never believe it but the routine we started working on is to the Britney song Circus. I think it's a sign.



What was I saying about not being motivated? Uh, nevermind.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring forward.

Is it just me or did the whole daylight savings thing seem to come out of nowhere? It caught me completely by surprise. I was minding my own business, sitting around a backyard fire with friends telling ghost stories when someone broke the bad news. I had just said, "I can't believe it's almost three in the morning," when they corrected me with the unfortunate news. "Actually, it's daylight savings tonight..." Three in the morning is one thing but four in the morning? I am way too old for that.

We've been completely thrown off ever since. We slept late on Sunday (I'm not going to tell you how late because you will either think I'm lying or hate me for having a 3 year old who will sleep in like that) and forgot to change the clocks until we realized we put Liam down for a nap at 5:30 pm.

Oops! No more nap for sleepy pants. It was actually the third day in a row he didn't take a nap. He rested in his bed each day but never fell asleep. Three days of not enough sleep is all it takes to have a major impact on him. By bedtime last night, Liam was stubborn and loud and hyper and not cooperating with a single thing we asked him to do. I didn't know if Bill was going to make it until lights out or not. He looked at me while we were double-teaming Liam with a toothbrush and said, "He acts just like other kids when he gets this tired!"

Ah, yes. Preaching to the choir, my friend.

I am a major sleep advocate and think Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Childby Dr. Marc Weissbluth is possibly the greatest parenting book ever written. It's like, Just make sure your kids sleep enough and everything else will be fine. I totally believe that is true.

After Liam went to bed last night he laid in the dark talking and singing for hours. Even though he was exhausted, he still could not fall asleep (damn sleep deprivation cycle!). And then this morning, he woke up much earlier than I expected him to and was grumpy right from the get go. I got him down for an earlier nap than usual to try to get back on track (he even took a bath first!) but he is still in there not sleeping.

So...now what? He is clearly tired but I can't force him to sleep. Or can I? I will need to revisit my sleep bible and see what the good doctor recommends. But first, I guess I will admit defeat and go get Liam up from his nap. Yes, he can climb out of his bed by himself now but I'm happy to say he has yet to do it without asking first. Although if that's what "other kids" do, it may soon be on the horizon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Dreaming of a modern-rural-prefab life.

There's this recurring conversation between me and my friends that starts with one of us saying something like, It would be great to live somewhere rural if it wasn't for all the backwood rural aspects, and ends with everyone agreeing that we should totally start a commune.

Now, I don't know what real communes are like but the one is my head involves a happy group of like-minded people living on a big, beautiful plot of land in funky, eco-friendly homes, working together some of the time (for stuff like gardening and home schooling and brewing beer) and co-existing separately at others. Kind of like an attractive trailer park with a hippie twist.

Still not sold? Check out these amazingly affordable kit homes by Rocio Romero (a friend of mine heard her interviewed on NPR and told me about it this morning when the conversation turned toward the commune yet again):

It's hard to say if this is just another flash in the pan idea or if a seed has been planted, but one thing's for sure - my house sure feels a lot darker now than I remember.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Delurk, redefined.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm not really much of a blogger. Yes I "blog" a lot, but I think what I do might technically be classified as writing. When Arianna Huffington (founder of The Huffington Post and author of several books including The Complete Guide to Blogging) was on The Daily Show, she said blogging is supposed to be like a first draft or an e-mail, something you write quickly without over-thinking it. Well, since I re-read and edit my e-mails before hitting send, you can imagine how far from a first draft my blog posts are.


My blog is also lacking a lot of the flair you find on other blogs. I don't have buttons or logos or fancy doohickies or any of that other colorful eye-candy. I don't have a blogroll (and have never uttered that word until right this very second). I don't even have my own template. This is not to say that I won't have those things someday because I might. I might. I mean, I just joined Twitter for chrissakes. Anything is possible.

I am also completely daft when it comes to the blogging terminology that other bloggers throw around. Blogroll is just the tip of the iceberg. I shy away from saying things like blogosphere or interwebs because I don't know - is that what these things are really called or am I unintentionally biting the style of a select few?

I should probably read Ms. Huffington's book.

I've even found myself looking up words online just so I can figure out what people are talking about. You can imagine how It's National Delurk Month so go ahead and delurk! would mean nothing to you if you had no idea what delurk means.

No need to look it up yourself; I've already done the leg work (definition courtesy of The Urban Dictionary):

delurk [di-lurk]
- verb
1. Entering an online discussion or community after a time spent lurking (anonymously reading content online without participating), especially if suddenly prompted to do so.
i.e. Your ridiculous comments have forced me to delurk.

I am a total lurker and therefore a lurker sympathizer. As far as my blog (or whatever this is) is concerned, please feel free to lurk your heart out. The only reason I would ever want you to delurk is so I could find out who you are. Maybe you have a blog I would enjoy reading or are an old friend I haven't heard from in ages? The only way I will know you're there is if you post a comment or send me an e-mail. Or...

Send a package to my house!

Seriously. Someone should update that definition.

About a week ago I found a beautiful little package in my mailbox. It reminded me of something but the return address was unfamiliar. I rushed into the house to open it but before I could even find a pair of scissors, my memory clicked into drive and I suddenly knew who the package was from: Melanie B! No, not from the Spice Girls (although, how cool would that be?); from the Olive Garden (somehow that sounds just as random).

In that brief moment in time after I lived in England and before I got engaged to Bill, I worked as a server at the Olive Garden. It was exactly as awful as it sounds. The only good thing that came of it was meeting a couple of great people who were as out of their element slinging pasta as I was.

Melanie B. was one of those people. She was interesting and funny and always had cloves to share with me during "back door" breaks at the OG (people who work at restaurants always abbreviate like that). She had a real house (that was painted purple!) with real furniture and a couple of lizards she dressed in handmade costumes. She made me fancy lunches that she served with Italian sodas and gave me neat little gifts (like a Zippo with a Union Jack on it!) that were always wrapped up in the most ingenious ways.

We fell out of touch at some point and, until I received the package from her the other day, had not had contact for 10 years. 10 years! Wow, that makes me feel old.

I have no idea how she found me (and wouldn't have even thought about it had it not been for that stupid Dateline NBC...), but I'm glad she did. What a way to delurk!

Note to Melanie: Thank you, thank you, thank you for the sweet letter, CD and photos! You made my day. Heck, you made my week! I know you sent me your phone number and I do intend to call you at some point but I just wanted to let you know - I'm a terrible phone friend. My sister and I didn't speak once during the entire month of January. And she's my sister! I swear, one of these days I will find myself alone in my car with a long enough drive to make a call and I will call you. In the meantime...e-mail me! I would love to catch up.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The plan.

We get a lot of magazines at our house. Some we enjoy while others feel like a break-up that just won't take (I thought you said you cancelled the complimentary subscription to Muscle Magazine?). One of my favorites is Women's Health (along with Wondertime and Domino) and I look forward to reading it in the bath every month. It looks good, is well written and has a much edgier vibe than some of those other glossy fitness mags.

It's still a magazine, though, so it's not immune to the tricks of the trade. Like those annoying teasers on the cover: Lose 10 pounds in 3 days! Never do cardio again yet stay thin forever! Have the best sex of your life RIGHT NOW! Have you ever looked for the articles that those catchy headlines are referring to? I have and they're never as good as they sound. Sometimes I can't even find what articles are supposed to go with what headlines. I guess magazine editors figure no one would actually go through the table of contents to try to match everything up page by page.

They're wrong.

Recently I realized the same Women's Health headlines were tricking me every single month. Anything that had to do with the midsection (Flatten your stomach! Get firm abs! Lose your belly!), sent me scrambling to find the right page and uncover the newest secrets to svelteness. Month after month I was bamboozled, uncovering nothing more than a new twist on sit-ups or a smoothie recipe for a healthy snack.

All of the abs articles did have one thing in common though. They all pointed to the book The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko, Editor-in-Chief of Men's Health. Ah, a book! Maybe that's what I needed. So I went online to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was a list of "power foods" that are so good for you they will not only fulfill all your daily nutritional needs but also help your body convert fat into muscle. Since the list included food that was actually healthy (not butter and bacon and extra meat hamburgers with no buns), I was intrigued. I wrote the list down and taped it to my fridge.

Then this weekend at McKay's Used Books I found a copy of The Abs Diet (for women!) for just $3. And so my get fit plan was born. (If you live in Nashville, do yourself a favor and get in the car RIGHT NOW and drive to McKay's. You won't be sorry.)

I am supposed to eat six times a day (which might sound crazy to some but I am always hungry so it works out well for me) and include as many power foods at each meal or snack as possible. The power foods are kind of obvious. Think real foods like nuts, beans, fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereal, low fat dairy, lean meat, eggs and olive oil. Basically all the stuff we already know we're supposed to eat.

The book stresses that it's not about cutting out the things you can't have, but enjoying the things you can have. I like that because as soon as you tell me I can't have something, I want it. Bad. So if I want a beer or a glass of wine, it's OK. If I don't want to stop putting sugar in my coffee, fine. I even get one cheat meal a week where I can eat anything I want (supposedly planning a cheat is good for your metabolism and stops you from feeling like a big fat failure when you polish off a plate of nachos).

There's a work out component too, of course, that is supposed to help you build muscle so your resting metabolism skyrockets and you become a fat burning machine. It's just stuff I can do at home (like squats, bicep curls, crunches) on the days I don't do something fun at the Y.

The deal is, if you follow his plan you should see a major transformation in your body in just six weeks. How great is that? Sure, it could be little more than a catchy headline stretched into a full length book but I've got nothing to lose (aside from a few extra pounds, of course).

I think the eating part will be easy to stick to, especially since the diet isn't so much a diet as a healthy way to eat for life. And the at home workout only takes 20 minutes so, as long as Liam continues to be amused by it (Mama, can I ride ON you while you do that?), I shouldn't have a problem squeezing it in.

So far I feel great (you know, since it's been a whole DAY since I started...). The only thing that's off is I'm really, really thirsty. But that has nothing to do with the diet and everything to do with the murky brownish water that has been coming out of our tap all day. The house behind us is being taken down to the studs and I'm guessing the construction crew must have messed with something they shouldn't have. The water company has been working on it for several hours now but we emptied the Brita water pitcher long ago. If the water doesn't run clear soon, I'm going to have to crack open a beer to hydrate.

And I won't even have to feel guilty.

Monday, March 2, 2009

When good enough isn't good enough.

Recently three things have caught my attention and made me take a long, hard look in the mirror. This is no small feat considering, well, you know. We're not exactly set up for that kind of thing anymore.
  1. I re-watched the Sex and the City movie at home and still COULD NOT TELL when Samantha "got fat." In the movie everyone is gasping and shielding their eyes and trying to hide their hideous friend with the bulging belly behind furniture to save her the embarrassment of having let herself go. I'm sitting there thinking, She's fat? Huh. I swear, I couldn't even tell. She still looked pretty good to me.

  2. One of my favorite bloggers Girl's Gone Child posted after-baby photos of herself in her pre-pregnancy skinny jeans. She did it like, I've lost 30 pounds but still have a long way to go - just look at my muffin top! This made me feel three things. 1) Wow that's brave. I have never so much as worn a two piece swimsuit in my life and here she is baring her midriff for all to see. And not her woo hoo look how skinny I am midriff; her work in progress midriff. Impressive. 2) The girl looks good! If the skinny jeans fit, why not just throw on a loose top and wear them? 3) Hmmm...that's about how I look in my skinny jeans. And my baby is three years old.

  3. Last week on Oprah, Gwyneth Paltrow came on to share with everyone how she got in such great shape. I'm thinking, What is she going to do? Tell us to go out and buy the Lucky Genetics that she was blessed with. I mean, what could someone that naturally skinny have to teach the rest of us? Well, evidently she hasn't always been that skinny (I'm way out of the celebrity gossip loop - she could have had a head transplant and I wouldn't have known it). After her son was born, she had 20 extra pounds that wouldn't budge until she hired a trainer and started working out 2 hours a day. Every day.
Hottie 1, before; hottie 2, after.

The thing that struck me about each of these ladies is that they all looked pretty good before. I mean, if no one can tell you're fat, does it really matter? If you can fit into your skinny jeans and a flowy top and some strategically placed accessories would totally hide your muffin top, what's the big deal? If you're an absolute stunner with or without the last 20 pounds, why spend 2 hours a day working out?

Why is pretty good good enough for some and just a jumping off point for others?

I've been letting that rattle around in my head for a few weeks now and am still not exactly sure what to make of it. It could be any number of things: having low expectations for ourselves; loving cake and beer and pizza more than going to the gym; thinking we don't deserve to be our best; enjoying life just as we are; not wanting to seem like that girl who cares so much about how she looks; being lazy; being content; hating healthy food; not wanting to walk that line between health conscious and obsessive; not wanting to try and fail; not knowing where to start; not being able to convince the rest of our family to make healthy changes too; giving in to peer pressure; honestly not giving a crap one way or the other...the list goes on and on.

Whatever the reason, I have decided that good enough is no longer good enough for me. I want to feel my very best instead of just pretty good. I think I deserve that.

I know that the things I mentioned above seemed totally focused on looks but I can assure you, for me, this is way more about how I feel. I mean, come on, I am within the confines of my home most of the time and my husband and son will love me no matter how haggard I look (I feel a comment coming on from Bill...). Besides that, I most definitely look good enough just the way I am. In the right outfit, with strategically placed accessories and good lighting, I've been known to look really good, OK? So don't roll your eyes at how shallow I am or fall all over yourself telling me I don't need to lose weight because it's not about that.

I swear.

Of course, I'm a little less than six weeks away from something I wouldn't mind looking extra hot for: A road trip with my sister to see Britney Spears! Wouldn't it be great to roll up looking like this:

Instead of this:

Not that me or my sister has ever looked that tragic. Poor thing. Aren't you glad those days are over? That's quite a comeback, kid!

More on my get fit plan to come...