Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hitting the wall

I'm not the world's most tolerant person when it comes to waiting. As my friend Michelle puts it, I have a bit of a patience problem. This applies to a lot of things in my life, including the baby's obnoxious nighttime behaviors. I've discovered that I can put up with his crappy sleep habits for a period of four-to-five months before I hit a massive brick wall of annoyance, and realize that something HAS to change.

When W was a newborn, he wouldn't sleep more than two or three hours at a time unless one of us was holding him, which we didn't do at night. We made him sleep in his crib, and we (I) got up every few hours to nurse him, as it was the only way to get him back to sleep. This was fine when I was on maternity leave because I got to nap. When I first went back to work, I was at my former job, and I only had to phone it in for two weeks before I quit/got laid off. But then I started a brand spankin' new job (when my son was just two months old), one that I was excited about and wanted to do well at, and the sleeping issues started to get to me. I was regularly getting four hours or less of sleep a night, getting up at 6:30, working my ass off for eight hours a day, coming home to a disgruntled, laid off, sick-of-being-a-stay-at-home-dad husband who would throw the baby at me and disappear for a couple of hours, and finally ending my day around 10:30 when I put the baby down for the (first time of the) evening. It was exhausting. And sanity-robbing.

In April, when I was just about to hit my final breaking point, a friend convinced me to start my own modified version of crying-it-out, even though he was *gasp* technically still too young. B was out of town for the weekend, our neighbor was gone because he was doing some jail time for not paying his child support, and I was so ready for some sleep that the thought of incessant crying didn't phase me. It was perfect timing. And it worked! He went from up every few hours to mostly sleeping through the night, only waking once for a bottle. It was heaven.

Fast-forward another four-to-five months, and this up-once-a-night crap is getting old. He has no physical need for a midnight bottle any more. There is absolutely no reason that he shouldn't be sleeping straight through the night. But he doesn't. For awhile, we thought it was the excessively wet diapers that were waking him, so we bought the extra-absorbent overnight diapers in a size larger than his normal diapers. That helped a bit, but not enough. He's still not sleeping through. Sometimes he will, but it's a rare occurrence.

And I'm done with it. I've hit my wall again. He needs to change his sleep patterns again. But I'm clueless as to how to make it happen this time. Last time, sleep training was the answer. This time, I don't know what the answer is. We've tried the same type of techniques we used the first time, and they haven't worked. His sleeping habits are killing me. Well, those, coupled with this craptastic insomnia I've had going on for weeks now. I feel like I'm never going to get good sleep again, and that makes me sad.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Equal time

Today W is nine months old. He's now been living in the outside world as long as he lived inside of me.* The changes have been remarkable.


He's gone from this...



...to this.
He's crawling, babbling, saying "mama" (and meaning it), cruising, standing on his own for a few seconds at a time, socializing with other babies, terrorizing loving small animals, gaining weight at an alarming-to-mommy rate, rapidly outgrowing all of the new clothes I just bought him, starting to figure out sippy cups and straws, and eating every bit of finger food (and cat food) he can get his chubby little hands on.

He's cute and sweet and the biggest challenge I've ever faced.

He's destroyed my body (see, e.g., my droopy boobs, flabby belly pooch, widened hips, and stretch-marked thighs) and my sleep schedule. Killed my freedom and my desire to ever have another child EVER. He's made me crazy, literally and figuratively. He's made me question our decision to bring a child into the world and my ability to handle being a mother.

But he's fun. And he's cute. And the love I feel for him when I watch him sleep is one of the most overwhelming feelings in the world. I don't yet find him or my role as mother fulfilling, but I hope maybe some day I will. I'm still holding on to that hope, even nine months later.

W has made me grow in ways I never anticipated, and brought me more challenges that I ever could have imagined.

This chubby little bundle of paradoxes has become the center of my universe, for better or worse. He's pushed B and I to the brink, and brought us closer than we've ever been (just like we thought, having a baby totally fixed every single problem with our marriage!)

Although there are hours and days when I wish I could go back and change the course of my childbearing life, most of the time I'm so happy and grateful to have the wonderful little boy I've been given. I'm looking forward to seeing how he continues to grown and change.

And I'm terrified of his toddler years. He is 110% pure boy, and he's going to be the death of me.

*Technically, if we're going to get nitpicky (and I'm nothing if not nitpicky), I should have written this post six days ago, as W gestated for 268 days, and today is his 274th day of life. Ugh, I'm a nerd.

Monday, July 27, 2009

One of those days

Today is one of those days when I've been on the verge of tears all day long. I think (hope) it's just PMS, but it could very well be the beginnings of mental instability returning as I wean from my crazy pills. Good times.

Things that have almost made me cry today:

- Getting our offer on the perfect house flat-out rejected. Twice. Within three hours. And finding out that someone else put in a "much higher" offer, meaning we've lost our absolutely perfect house and are back to having no options that are 1) in our price range, 2) in our geographic area of choice, and 3) not total pieces of crap.

- This story. To warn you, it's really gruesome, and not for the weak-stomached. Pretty much nothing crime-related gets to me, but this did. It literally made me feel ill, on top of making me weepy.

- Baby Stellan. I've been following his story for quite awhile, and the poor little thing isn't doing well. Reading about the health struggles facing this sweet, rolly-polly baby who's just one day younger than my little man really gets to me, especially today. I haven't been much of one for praying for the past few years (and I really worry about those who ask for my prayers...I feel like that's a sure-fire way to get the exact opposite of what they want), but I've been praying for him today. And crying over him.

- This website. I've got something with seriously ill children today, I guess. I used to work on the same floor as one girl's dad, and he mentioned this website as something that's been a blessing to his daughter and their family. Read some of their stories, and you'll probably be near tears, too. Today I challenged my friends to send one child listed on this site a card, and I challenge my readers to do the same.

- Realizing that my little man is going to be nine months old tomorrow. I cannot believe he's three-quarters of the way through his first year. I can't believe he, B, and I are all still alive, and are all thriving. I can't believe I have to start thinking about planning a first birthday party. Ugh.

- B getting snippy with me about something that was my fault, but that he's not taking any steps to fix. I've given him every suggestion I can to fix the problem I created, and have offered numerous times to do the fixing. He keeps turning my offers down, but won't go out and fix the problem himself, and is still being snippy with me about it.

- Unfinished chores.

- My heels giving me a little blister on one toe.

- My pants not fitting well today.

I don't think that's an exhaustive list, but you get the point. I hate days like this. I hope tomorrow is less teary. Sometimes I hate being a girl.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My new challenge

My pseudo-spa night last night made me realize that I have seventy bazillion different beauty products/samples in my cupboard. It also made me decide that I am no longer purchasing any beauty products until I use every last old product and sample that I own. Beside the fact that B and I are hoping to be homeowners within the next couple of months (which I don't think I told you guys), and every spare penny we have needs to be devoted to that cause, it's also ridiculous that I'm not using all this stuff that's at my disposal.

As an example of my beauty product excess, let me describe my area in the shower. It contains two shampoos, one conditioner, three different shaving products, a face soap, two pseudo-dermabrasion scrubs, a body wash, and two body scrubs. Compare that to B's area, which only contains a bar of Irish Spring.

I need to simplify my life, and my bathroom cupboard is as good a place as any to start, right? I invite my readers (all three of you) to join me in Project Beauty Product Reduction (ok, it's not all that catchy...if you have a better name for it, let me know). I'll let you know how it's going in a month or so.

My kind of night

The boys are both sleeping. I'm alone downstairs with nothing but the cat, a much-too-large glass of Two-Buck Chuck, and trashy TV to keep me company. I'm blissfully happy.

I even treated myself to a mini-mani/pedi tonight with my favorite foot soak and some random manicure kit I got for Christmas. It was great.

The only thing that could make this better is if I were doing it with some of my girlfriends. I miss girls' nights.

Regardless, I'm going to enjoy my trashy TV and wine for a bit longer before passing out heading to bed.

Dear Barefoot Wine,

I was lucky enough to be introduced to your deliciousness by my friend Brittany, both on her blog, and at her Fourth of July picnic (one of the cute babies in the power wheel is mine, in case you care). She plied me with lots of wine, including a super-sweet, super-delicious Moscato.

I was in love. And I wanted more.

However.

I've spent the last month checking every alcohol-selling establishment I've entered for Barefoot Moscato, and have yet to find it anywhere. I've found every other type you sell, but not the Moscato.

I tried another brand's Moscato a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn't as good. I want yours, and I can't find it.

So, instead of enjoying a glass (or two...) of your delicious sweetness, I'm drinking a much drier white tonight. And it's totally not what I was in the mood for.

Could you do me a solid and start selling your Moscato in part of the O-H? I would really appreciate it.

Cheers,

Emily, the dry white wine drinker

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Taking care of me

Prior to having W, I did a pretty good job of taking care of myself - physically, mentally, and emotionally. Since then, I haven't done so well at self-care. From giving up my occasional massages to relieve back pain issues, to running out of time to brush my teeth some mornings, and everything in between, it seems like every aspect of my well-being has taken a back seat now that I have to worry about a small, giggly little boy's well-being full time.

This HAS to change. Has to. I can't keep putting myself last all the time. This realization came to me this morning after I weighed myself and realized how swiftly my post-partum weight loss is disappearing (mostly because I've been devouring eating everything in sight lately). And noticed that my skin is breaking out like crazy. And saw that my feet are disgustingly rough and my toes poorly painted. And tried to remember when I last shaved.

So starting today, I'm going to try to do something for myself every day. It could be as simple as getting to work a couple of minutes late to make sure I have time to brush my teeth. Or as elaborate as a spa day (which will never happen, but a girl can dream). I'm making a mid-year resolution to improve my eating habits, try to get some exercise, and possibly even sleep more than four or five hours a night.

We'll see how long this lasts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

There should be a minimum breeding age

***DISCLAIMER*** I preface this post by saying that I fully realize not all young parents are bad parents, and not all older parents are good parents. I get that, I really do. However, this post comes from my observations at work, where we’ve had a slew of child abuse/endangering/molestation cases recently that all involve parents under the age of 25. If you are a young parent who handles parenting maturely and appropriately, this post is not directed at you, so please don’t get all up in arms about it. Also, I realize that not everyone accused of hurting a kid is actually guilty of doing so. But the cases I’m talking about today aren’t close cases (it was obvious from the beginning that the defendant was guilty), and the accused confessed, plead, or were found guilty. And, just for background, you should know that I’m generally pretty liberal politically, and I’m a huge fan of personal freedoms (though you might question that sentiment by the end of this post).

The longer I work in law, the more jaded and cynical I become. Since I’m just getting ready to start my third year of fulltime lawyering, this isn’t a good thing. Part of the problem is that I see a lot of the scum-of-the-earth in my particular line of work. It’s hard to see the best in people in general when your picture of the “public” is colored by the losers you see on a day-to-day basis. Judgy? Yes. But also honest.

The cases that really get to me are the ones involving child victims. It’s so hard to read reports about 18-month-old babies being beaten stupid because they wouldn’t eat dinner, or six-year-olds being molested by their drunk fathers. And it’s painful to read the defendants’ accounts of what happened, and to see the ridiculous justifications they come up with for their behavior. Too often, the kids that are being beaten up or raped are young – like five-years-old-or-less young. And far too often, the person accused of hurting the kid is a parent. The vast majority of the accused are also young – 18 to 23, for the most part.

After getting three sets of new child-victim cases last week, my co-worker and I were discussing the circumstances surrounding the new cases and an old case that’s coming up for trial soon, and I realized that the common denominator in these cases is young parents (ages 20, 20, 21, 21, 22, 22, 29 and 33 (gotta have a couple of outliers in there somewhere) at the time the offenses were committed). We also have numerous defendants that I have personally dealt with in the past seven months who are between the ages of 18 and 23, and who are currently in prison for hurting children.

My theory? These kids (I call them “kids” like I’m so much older than they are) are just too damn young to be having babies. Parenting is STRESSFUL. A lot more stressful and difficult than I ever imagined it being before I had a baby of my own. I think these young parents just aren’t mature enough to cope with the demands and stressors that come along with young children. Rather than keeping a cool head and doing something safe to get away from the stress (e.g. putting a constantly-screaming, colicky, refluxy baby in his crib, closing his bedroom door, and taking a scalding-hot shower with the bathroom radio blaring in the background…not that I’ve ever done that…), the YPs physically lash out at their kids, causing tremendous amounts of hurt and damage. I think YPs tend to lack the life experiences and maturity necessary to appropriately handle the unprecedented demands on your sanity created by having your own spawn.

Personally, as you’ve all seen, I’ve struggled tremendously with my role as mother. Before having a kid, I never understood how any parent could abuse their own child. Now I do. I fully understand where the urge to shake your baby or punch your toddler comes from. But I would never, ever act on that urge. I chalk that up to being mature enough to not take my frustrations out on a helpless baby who isn’t pissing me off for his own entertainment, but because he needs something and has no better way of communicating his needs to me. And on my extremely high desire to keep myself out of prison. I’m pretty sure that’s the only reason W didn’t end up getting drop-kicked out a window numerous times in his first few months of life.

Another factor might be lower levels of education. Most of the YPs I’m talking about have no more – and often less – than a twelfth grade education. I think I’m starting to delve much too deeply into things sociologists, psychologists, and social workers have been trying to flesh out for years, so I’m going to stop. Before I do, however, I will present you a solution to the problems created by baby-beating YPs that will not only solve child abuse issues, but will also probably help with the over-population of the earth.

Minimum breeding age. The minimum breeding age should be set at 25, and it should go right along with the law that requires all prospective parents to pass a parenting skills test and psychological evaluation before they’re allowed to have children.* To prevent anyone under the minimum breeding age from slipping through the cracks of the system, all adolescents will be issued chastity belts when they hit, let’s say, fifth grade, and the chastity belt only comes off once you’re 25 and have passed the test, or decided you don’t ever want kids and get sterilized.

How’s that for personal freedom?

*In all fairness, I may or may not have passed a psych eval before getting pregnant with W, and I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have passed it starting at about my third or so month of pregnancy when I began going crazy, and continuing until perhaps three months ago when the crazy pills finally took the edge off my lunacy. But I still didn’t beat, shake, or drop-kick my kid, despite being nuts. So maybe the psych eval isn’t necessary. But parenting skills test and minimum breeding age are. Oh, how fun the world will be when I’m president.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fighting the urge

My mom is having a garage sale next weekend, and has graciously offered to let us include some of our crap...er...lovely, gently-used household items. As I'm going through closets and storage tubs, I find myself fighting a serious urge to sell all of the baby stuff. I'm done having kids. D-O-N-E. And I don't want to have all that crap taking up space. Unfortunately for me, I don't think B is convinced (yet) that he's done having kids, so I don't think he (or my mom) will let me sell off all the swag. On top of that, knowing my luck, the second I get rid of all of our nice, expensive baby crap, I'll get knocked up again - God forbid! - and then we'll have to rebuy all of the expensive baby crap. We're for sure selling a couple of things (the swing, which I hate, and the bathtub, since those are relatively cheap and don't store well), but I won't be allowed to sell any more than that.

But that doesn't mean I don't think about tossing every old baby thing I come across into the sale box.

Sippy cups are going to bankrupt me

Who would have guessed that sippy cups were so freaking expensive! Or that you'd have to buy five million different kinds of sippy cups in the vain hope of finding one your child will be able to figure out how to use - as opposed to just gnawing on the...what do you call that thing, anyway...Spout? Nozzle? Drinky part?

We've only got about three more months before the bottles need to be history, and, being the pro-active, uptight, anal planner that I am, I'm trying my best to get him to use and like a sippy now. He hasn't been all that successful so far. He chews on the...top...and doesn't get any liquid. I bought two more styles today, and I'm hoping something works for him. I'm starting to wonder if I'm pushing him too much. Is nine months too young to figure out the intricacies of the sippy? What brand/style/type of sippy cup did your child take to best?

Weaning

No, not the baby - we did that months ago. Me. It's been six or so months since I started on my crazy pills to help with the PPD I've got going on. My OB told me the most likely cause of my PPD was a progesterone imbalance, which should resolve itself once I started having my period again. Well, I've had a couple of those now, so I figure things are happy in Hormone Land. Which theoretically means I should be fine if I stop taking my pills.

I'm not a huge fan of mental health medications. They're fine for everyone else, but it's totally not ok for me to be taking them. And I want off of them. I'm ready to be done, and I think my body is, too. I need to talk to the doc about it this week to see if she'll give me her blessing. I hope she does. If not, she might have to up my dose to assist with the increased level of depression I'll be feeling because I'm still on the pills.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

YUMMY risotto recipe

Tonight's culinary experiment was risotto. I tried making risotto for the first time last week, and it was an epic FAIL. I think a big part of the fail was a bad recipe (here, if you're interested), and a bad combination of wines. I found another recipe and figured I'd give it a go. I'm so glad I did. Totally worth it.

The recipe was easy to make, though a bit time-consuming. It says it makes two servings, but it made more like four. Both of my boys liked this - as did I - so I think this one will be making another appearance sometime soon.

Without further ado, I present Risotto with Chicken and Asparagus (complete with editorial comments):

Ingredients:
2 cups chicken stock - I ended up needing 4 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter - I went with olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (5 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cubed
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
1/2 large onion, minced
1 cup Carnaroli or Arborio rice - I picked Arborio
1/2 cup white wine - I used Trader Joe's Charles Shaw (aka Two-Buck Chuck) sauvignon blanc
8 ounces asparagus, finely chopped - I went with bite-sized pieces instead of finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
I tossed some parsley in there, too, and didn't really measure the spices. I just shook some out until it looked like enough
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Bring chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan, then keep warm over low heat.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cubed chicken, and continue cooking until firm and lightly browned; set aside. - make sure the chicken is completely cooked. It doesn't get cooked anywhere else in the recipe.
3. Heat remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in the saucepan and cook onions until they soften and turn translucent, about 1 minute. Stir in the rice, and continue cooking until the rice turns opaque, and the onion begins to brown.
4. Stir in the wine and asparagus; cook, stirring constantly, until the wine evaporates. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in 1/3 of the hot chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Stir in another 1/3 of the chicken stock and continue cooking and stirring until absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Season the risotto with oregano and basil. Pour in the remaining stock, and stir until absorbed again, 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and chicken cubes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The best laid plans

I haven't been sleeping well lately, so tonight B declared that I got the night off to relax and get some sleep. He fed the baby, took him outside to play for a bit, and put him down for bed. The kid was acting supremely tired awfully early tonight, which landed him in bed by 7:00. B talked me into going to bed at about 8:00. Around 9:00 - prior to me getting any sleep, by the way - the babe decided that he no longer wanted to sleep.

We tried letting him cry it out for awhile, and went in to find him standing up in his crib (first time we've caught him doing that). So B had to lower the mattress, lest the youngun flip himself over the edge and get a concussion.

We tried to let him cry again. And he screamed and screamed and screamed.

We decided to get him up for a bit. He's in the midst of a major mommy phase, and he's not real big on spending time with B (at least not when he knows I'm around somewhere), but we managed to get him to go happily with B. Which would have worked out great, except I had to go to the bathroom, which is downstairs where the boys were. Once I was spotted, it was over for me. So W and I played until a few minutes ago when B and I decided he was sufficiently tired to try to put him down again. I don't hear any screaming right now, so we can only hope that he's actually down for the evening.

So much for my night off and some extra sleep. B feels guilty about it, so he told me I get to sleep in tomorrow. We'll see how well that works out. The way plans have been going around here, I'm not holding my breath (though maybe that would help me sleep...).

Monday, July 6, 2009

If I have to listen to any more Lady Gaga, I'm going to scream!

A couple of weeks ago, my favorite radio station got converted from "'90s alternative and new rock" to ESPN radio. While B was thrilled (he was stoked to finally have ESPN radio on FM), I was not. I have since discovered that the only stations within reception range of my house/drive to work are top 40 stations. I never thought this was a problem until I actually had to listen to them all the time.

I have heard more em effing Lady freaking Gaga in the past two weeks than I ever, EVER cared to. Ever. I swear to you that I hear at least two of her "songs" for every hour I spend in the car (and for those keeping track, she only has three songs out right now, none of which are any good). On my way to our Fourth of July cookout (a 45 minute drive), I heard "Poker Face" and "Love Game." And I wanted to stab myself in the eyeball just to distract my ears from hearing that crap. And don't get me started on "Birthday Sex." Are you freaking kidding me? It's quite possibly the Worst.Song.Ever.

Ok, deep breath...

I need satellite radio.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Heart attack and cheese

Tonight, I made AMAZING macaroni and cheese for dinner. The recipe was adapted by my lovely friend Amy from this Paula Deen recipe. It's super simple, and really delicious. You should try it.

Heart Attack and Cheese (name courtesy of me)
2 cups uncooked pasta in your favorite shape (I used rotini because we had it in the cupboard)
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2.5 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
.5 cup sour cream
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cheddar cheese soup
1 cup whole milk (or whatever milk you have on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil pasta until tender (I did 10 minutes), then drain and set aside. Mix butter and cheese in a saucepan, and melt, stirring occasionally, over medium heat. Put everything but the pasta into a crock pot, and stir to combine. Add the pasta and stir again. Cook on low for an hour, hour and a half or so (until the cheese has melted all the way, and everything is combined and hot and delicious), stirring occasionally. Enjoy the cheesy deliciousness near a defibrillator, just in case it really does cause a coronary.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth!

Just thought I'd stop in quickly to say Happy Fourth of July! Now I have to run and catch the baby before he splashes in the cat water and eats the cat food. Yay for crawling.