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The Rainbow is here!

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When asked several months ago what we should name baby, my kids had two answers: Rainbow (from Jenn; even nicer in Spanish — Arcoiris) and Max (from Jake).  Of course, Rainbow is the name that stuck because it’s silly cute and way less common than Max.

Though Rainbow was due (and scheduled) for later in July, he decided to come on July 1 – a Canada Day surprise for all of us. Fortunately, for my Canadian husband, (who longs for many things he misses from the homeland), Rainbow made up for the lack of a Canada Day celebration. And fortunately for the husband, who has been living in Ohio during the week, he was home a day early for the 4th of July long weekend, so he got to come along to the hospital with me and Rainbow. (Actually, he didn’t come for about two hours after Rainbow and I first got  there, so certain were we that the doctors would smile patronizingly, pat me on the shoulder and send us back home. I even knew what kind of ice cream we were going to buy on the way home. But that’s a story for a different day.)

So Rainbow was born, three weeks early in a tiny hospital 90 miles from our intended hospital. The doctors and nurses were lovely, the room was giant and the food was delicious. We were the only ones on the whole labor and delivery floor for most of our stay, except for one morning when a lady (also from out of town) came in to have twins. (The whole twins’ birth wrecked everything, as I couldn’t get a nurse’s attention that morning to save my life. The babies were early so were transferred to another hospital shortly after.)

In addition to remembering what life with a newborn is like (sweet and awful), I have been busily canceling all of my necessary pre-birth appointments. Apparently, it’s possible to have a baby without a fresh pedicure, nice eyebrows or new blond highlights. Or maybe Rainbow and I are a miracle. Rest assured, I’ll resume my grooming regimen once we return to the city, but nobody has commented on it yet. I expect nobody has been able to look past my new stripper-sized chest to notice that my hair needs color. Fortunately all of these things are only temporary.

Do two bad choices make a really bad choice? Or is bad just bad?

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I might have hit another low yesterday evening, as far as the nutrition police are concerned. The kids and I went for dinner at our local  (and very delicious, actually) Chirping Chicken. We all got it our way:  fingers for Jake and nuggets for Jenn, fries across the board, corn on the cob and chicken soup to share. We found a table outside and watched the 5pm exodus from the playground across the street.

Our food came and I was feeling pretty good, in part because the mom sitting at the table next to ours with her 3 year old and 1 year old commented that our ages (5 and 3) seem more fun, especially for a dinner out, even at a Chirping Chicken. (Can we deny that she is right? No way.) The kids were eating; I was mentally calculating how many days until I can have a guilt-free beer, and Jenn asked me to help her spread her butter. Lazily, I first suggested that she just dip in her butter and she insisted that she needed it spread. So I helped her.

I was on the third nugget when I realized I was spreading butter on my daughter’s chicken nuggets. Gross out. Who does that? Of course, the butter came for the corn on the cob, which the kids rejected so I ate.  Jenn sees butter as a way to make everything better (Again, can we deny that she is right?) and I’m a helper so we were wiping thick globs of soft-ish butter on her nuggets. I always figure butter on corn or brocoli is a small price to pay, if the kids actually eat the vegetable, but on fried, fake-ish chicken?

Virtually all of my son’s classmates and their parents passed our table and chatted with us as they walked home from the playground. If anybody took note, I can’t imagine what they thought the yellow stuff was all over Jenn’s food. I’ll note that nobody was jumping to arrange any play dates.

The silver lining? That it was actually butter that we globbed all over her food, and not something from a big tub of margarine, because I’m pretty sure it was not until college that I eschewed margarine for real butter, and Miracle Whip for mayo… She’s so sophisticated, my daughter. And she ate almost all the nuggets, which was good enough for what it was.

 

 

New babies and my ever-sliding standards

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Everybody seems to agree — parenting evolves with each subsequent child. Which is to say, in my case, my standards have fallen and I am less concerned with lots of the extraneous stuff. Maybe, 6 years after my first pregnancy,  I’m more lazy, (yes), maybe I’m more busy (yes), maybe I just know better which things we really need. (Or maybe I’m justifying. Very possibly.)

My third baby is coming in four weeks, I’m told. My cousin (younger and sweeter than I) is having her first baby in about two weeks, give or take, and our “parallel pregnancies” have been fun to follow. Aside from being younger and sweeter, she is also made for this parenting thing and seems utterly ready. I had a wild panic attack when, upon seeing a picture of her new baby’s room, I realized I didn’t have ANYTHING ready for my baby 3. Nary a diaper purchased. The preparations are complicated by the fact that we’re moving cities a few weeks after his grand arrival, but I hadn’t even come up with sleeping accommodations for my poor bugger. (Though I owe a big thanks to MomTrends, as at their Travel Event last week, I  was the lucky winner of the Britax Baby Carrier so my poor bugger will at least be schlepped in style!)

So while I now can haul around baby 3 easily, he has no where to sleep because I got rid of our drop-side crib (that my two nieces, nephew and my two big kids have all used) because they are now deemed dangerous.  My cousin’s baby’s room has beautifully painted knobs on the dresser and my poor bugger doesn’t even have a bed. Should someone call children’s services? Doesn’t it seem silly to put together a crib for three weeks? Won’t he just torture me in my bed for the first few weeks anyway? Happily, we still have a pack-n-play somewhere in the back of a closet, and that can be a bed for a few weeks, can’t it? I was feeling moderate about the decision, but still longing for a “done” baby’s room. This thought process inevitably set off one of my “I’m-supposed-to-be-nesting-not-packing” tantrums, which hit me most evenings.

Like everything else, it’s always a matter of what roads you have been down. The night I started worrying about painted knobs, I was chatting with my husband’s grandmother and she was remembering how sad she was when she left England as a young bride with her husband and kids. Of course, they were after a better life, but she was still sad to leave her home country. I was lamenting our upcoming move and she laughed when I complained that I didn’t even have a bed for the baby. “Well, dear, ” she said. “When they’re that small, a drawer will be fine. He won’t know and you won’t tell him.”  Begrudgingly, I have to admit that she’s right. Now if I can keep the big kids from telling him.

 

 

 

 

Filed under Babies, Expectations, Family

How much do we intervene?

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I’m standing outside, watching my son and daughter in the yard. The 5-year old is up in “his” apple tree and his devoted sister is holding court down on the ground. He might be throwing things down at her, or he might be throwing things down to her, the appropriate preposition is all a matter of one’s point of view…

I get mixed up when I am called upon, (or more often, NOT called upon), to intervene in their play. In the above scenario, I couldn’t help myself — I raced forth and tried to change the game a bit so that the little one, Jenn, had a better role, even though she wasn’t complaining, wasn’t really at risk, and was happily engaged in a game with her brother. Of course, we all know that my intervention didn’t work but actually ruined whatever they were happily playing, leaving them both looking at me with the “Entertain us; we’re bored” face.

I know I need to leave them alone and just let them play. I’m pretty sure the “experts” say we should let them argue, let them tussle, let them work it out. And I want to do that, except when Jenn (my baby for another 4 1/2 weeks, when her baby brother is supposed to be born) is involved. I don’t like seeing Jenn always “it” in a tag game she can’t win; always last in the race her older brother orchestrated, always wanting to play with him, regardless of how grim her role might be in the game.

Ultimately, I need to be more hands-off in these instances. But somehow, I always regress to being the little sister:  I’m 5 years old and my older sister and the neighbor girl have invited me to play horses with them again. Every time, I eagerly accept, even though I know my horse whinny noise isn’t good enough. (I still have a weak whinny.)  And every time, I’m initially surprised that they AGAIN have tied me up with jump ropes and left me as a prisoner, as they galloped off down the hill in the back yard.

How involved should we get? Do we hide the jump ropes, or just wait to be summoned to untie someone?

 

 

 

 

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My heart is broken. After a month in the fetal position, it’s time to buck up…

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My story isn’t different from many of the folks who landed here from elsewhere. I moved to New York City the week after I graduated from college. The job I found for the summer was at CBS and the hand-written note on my university’s job placement office deemed it “Very clerical in nature.” Perfect, sign me up!  A few faxes later, I was hired and off to the public library in my hometown to check out books about New York City. This was before the internet so I found a cheap place to live by making phone calls — I ended up at the Webster women’s apartments — yes, just like on Bosom Buddies. (Old enough to remember that show? I loved it. Here’s the opening I found on youtube.)

My family and friends were horrified of my decision and I’m certain they all figured “Camp New York” wouldn’t last the summer. In fact, I had a return ticket to Michigan because I knew I couldn’t afford to stay if i didn’t have a “real” job by that time. I got to New York with no friends and no money so when I wasn’t working, I walked the streets. What a way to learn a city. I really believed EB White, when he wrote that “No one should come to New York to live unless he is willing to be lucky.” I was certain good fortune – a free drink or a date or a used book I wanted or a job – was around each corner. And it was. I have been lucky in New York:  jobs, friends, lots of fun and now, a family.

The thing with being part of a family, of a marriage, is that we have to do things we don’t want to do, I am realizing. And for me, 41 years old, with two kids and  6 weeks away from having baby three, my worst possible “thing I don’t want to do” is happening. The husband has accepted a job elsewhere, (he started this week) and we are moving. Not to the suburbs, or even to the country near our cottage. We’re moving to Cleveland. And I once spent a few weeks working in Cleveland and thought it was a fun city, so this isn’t about Cleveland. In fact, everybody I know from there speaks of it with almost reverence — they lovelovelove it. This is about not wanting to leave where I am. I’m sad and pissed but guess I have to pull it together, because we’re going.

The kids know and are thrilled about having a house though they have each asked me if they’ll ever get to see their friends or babysitter (who has been with us since Jake was 5 months old) again. But they’re ready for an adventure.

In my head, I know it will be fine. A yard and a house and a school bus will all be fun for them – “normal” life, like where I grew up. They’re going to make a bunch of friends and we’ll go to watch the high school football games on Friday nights and it will all be great. The husband seems happy there, too, so far. And New York will always be here, but how often will we really get to come back? And how long until I’m able to make our lives as rich as they are here?

I know, I know what you’re thinking:

Boo hoo. Stop your pity party.  Lots of people can’t find a job, even in Ohio. Lots of people don’t have wonderful families like you do. Lots of people are desperate for babies but something is not working. Lots of people have severe medical problems. Get over yourself…

I understand that I have it pretty good. But I’m still sad. (I’ll note that being pregnant is not helping.) Maybe most importantly, I’m still willing to be lucky , even if it’s in Ohio.

Lucky or not, I told the husband that I would probably cry every day for a year. So far, I’m right on on track.

 

 

Just like in the movie

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Today on the bus I was chatting with Jenn about my day:  I was headed to meet my friend, also named Jenn. The Jenns had met a couple of times and I was keen to have my daughter Jenn remember my friend Jenn.

Me:  Remember last summer when that lady with the same name as you came to the apartment with her three daughters?

Jenn:  No.

Me:  (Trying again)  Remember when that family met us at our cottage and you and Daddy  took the three little girls tubing?

Jenn:  (No reply, but starting to exhibit some recollection. Or maybe she was imagining the chocolate croissant I had just told her we could buy.)

Me:  Remember the littlest girl who was almost your age and you and your brother wanted her to stay to play? Her name was Charlotte?

Jenn:  Charlotte.

Me:  (Relieved this exercise was almost over, and confident she is about to remember my dear friend. ) Yes!

Jenn:  Like in the movie.

At which point I was no longer dying for Jenn to remember my friend, I had moved on to horror that my daughter thought Charlotte’s Web was a movie and not a book.  I really just wanted to kick the Easter Bunny for bringing the DVD of Charlotte’s Web instead of the book. Stupid bunny. Even if it’s a good one, my kids can’t become literary geniuses watching the movies.

 

 

Note:  Incidentally — my kids LOVED watching Charlotte’s Web. I was all ready for a pair of sobbing disasters, but they were fine. In fact, when I asked them if it had been a little sad, they agreed but pointed out that Charlotte had died but she first laid 514 eggs. Pretty impressive big-picture view, I thought. I was the only sobbing disaster to be found.

 

Filed under Expectations, Parenting

Husband recovers: Mother’s Day do-over a success

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So my husband failed Mother’s Day this year.  He neither planned anything nor stepped up to make any impromptu grand gestures. The kids made cards under the direction of the babysitter and she helped them buy my gifts:  a rose with a teddy bear magnet on it saying “I love you” and a small white ceramic heart thingie that now sits near the sink in my bathroom.  Perfect. Only orchestrated not by my husband.

His fumble was puzzling, as I had been mentioning the “holiday” for weeks. And I had even offered it up as chance for him to have a return to glory  following his UTTER failure of my birthday, one week prior. (Lest you judge me as harsh:  it was like 16 Candles with no Jake at the end. He didn’t remember it was my birthday until noon, which meant I left him sleeping as I walked the dog at 6, got the kids ready for school, etc. I think he clued in when he noticed that the babysitter had brought me flowers, gifts from the kids, cards and a cake – perfect again, though again, orchestrated not by my husband.)

After the birthday debacle, I blamed myself. I simply needed to implement some remedial training, showing him how one should celebrate a birthday properly. Rather, showing how I believe one should celebrate a birthday properly.  So I offered a re-do, in the shape of Mother’s Day. Obviously I was not clear enough, as that holiday also did not go well. (I’ll point out that I’m pregnant, so a little nuttier than usual.)

Mother’s Day evening, I was spent from watching my husband nap on the couch (truly) while I scraped together bowls of cereal for the kids’ dinner, so we watched a DVR-ed episode of Modern Family — the Mother’s Day episode. After the show, I pointed out all the instances of proper celebration:  coffee and breakfast in bed, cards made by the kids, a special meal not created by the mother, etc.

Well, apparently that primer was just what he needed as this past Saturday morning, while I read in bed (!!), he and the kids wrapped up a bunch of gifts, –  an apple, last week’s rose w/ teddy bear stuck to it, white ceramic heart thingie and a beautiful new ipad (the actual item, not a piece of paper saying “Good for one ipad” — this husband stood in line at the Apple Store!)  – and they all helped me open them in bed. Then we went on a Mother’s Day, Take 2,  hike, got Mother’s Day, Take 2, ice cream and tackled the grocery store and dinner together.

Of course, all I really wanted to do is stay home and figure out and play with my new ipad, but the day was perfect, regardless. I imagine I should start planning Father’s Day.  Though the pressure is low, as I figure I have a few tries to get it right.

Filed under Expectations, Family

Jacksonfish is dead

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Well, it’s one step forward and three steps back for lamemom, as I just continue to exhibit how effing stupid I really am.  The other evening, I decided to mention to Jake that Jacksonfish, his blue beta fish (irresponsibly given to him for his 4th birthday by a friend who should have known better) had died. Between you and me, the dumb fish had died about a year ago but we all kind of pretended that Jacksonfish, (not to be confused with Jackson, the best dog in the world), was on a stay-cation in Queens with their babysitter (the mother they should have had) and her family.

The husband and I were going away for the weekend and the kids were off to Queens to stay with the babysitter so I had to tell Jake about the fish before he got there and expected to have a reunion. Predictably, his face squinched up within seconds and he started sobbing so hard that he got red dots all over his forehead. Of course, I think I have raised them to love their animals that much so I’m a little puzzled that I expected him to take it cavalierly. But I did. I was absolutely surprised that he was so upset, I think because I couldn’t imagine he had believed our story about why the fish hadn’t been at home in almost a year. He cried and cried and we cuddled and he pleaded for his fish back.

Fortunately my stupid had stopped, for I knew not to tell him that Jacksonfish had gone the way of many pet fish — an accidental bowl-cleaning-swim down the drain. I said that fish don’t generally live for very long as pets and that Jacksonfish had enjoyed a happy life full of love and family, and so on. Then Jake asked for a new fish and I kind of ignored him because there is no way we are getting another fish, even when my son is crying so hard he has dots all over his face.  (Curious that I prefer picking up dog poop two or three times a day to a weekly fish bowl cleaning.)

But I will definitely keep this episode with me: he is five and a half years old and he totally believes me. I know at some point, this will change, but now, I am his authority. Whether it is about his fish on a holiday to learn Spanish in Queens or the sugar bugs that will eat his teeth if they’re not brushed well or that being kind to our animals and little sisters is the most important thing we do each day, my son believes me. As always, I am astounded and terrified by the responsibility.

 

 

When is a white lie okay?

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“Remember,” I often say to my daughter, “saying something you know isn’t true is lying.” And she nods and looks solemnly at me and eventually repeats the same lie she said to spur my little lesson.  Sometimes, she says, “ I’m not lying. I’m tricking you. “  How to explain the difference between a lie and a trick to a three-year old?  I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that kids of a certain age (which I can’t remember) don’t actually know “truth” (or lying) per se, as they actually believe that whatever they say might have actually happened.  They are in the bathroom with the toothbrush and toothpaste and then get distracted and head out to the kitchen and they actually believe they did brush their teeth because they were this close to getting the task done.  (Of course, I wish I remembered the age at which they should recognize the difference between actually did and intended to do, as my husband sometimes seems to exhibit the same dilemma:  “Yes, I did put the milk back in the fridge/put the seat down/read the 3-page email you sent me about your parents’ visit…”)

Slipperier slopes, however, present themselves with my 5-year old.  He’s pretty good on the difference between lying and tricking, but I would like to broach the subject with him on the beautiful possibilities that a white lie offers. Of course, I’m sure such a subtle concept will never work with him but sometimes his capabilities surprise me. (If you’re one who thinks white lies are just as bad as “real” lies, we’ll have to agree to disagree. OR you can just click away!)

Sometimes, I believe a white lie simply moves the conversation along in a much nicer way.  For example, if you said, “I look so haggard. I should get Botox but I can’t afford it.” And I said, “I think the lines between your eyes are actually very dignified,”  I don’t think you are harmed because you can’t get the little plump-up shot anyway, and maybe you feel a little better about your haggard-ness.

Another perfect example presented itself last night, when the kids and I were lucky enough (really) to get to go to a party hosted by Hershey’s Kisses. (Kind of dreamy for this pregnant lady: the room was teaming with Hershey’s Kisses, even a new one that isn’t available yet. I’m still chocolate drunk.)  My kids never get to go anywhere and were particularly excited about going to a “candy party.” They played games (the event’s focus was “Family Game Night,” which seems like a fun way to hang out a little more together), ate pizza and hot dogs and popcorn and we probably ate a hundred pieces of candy.  We were playing the board game Sorry and my son started chatting with a very kind woman from the Hershey’s Corporation. She was not just a brand lady, she was a product lady and I bet she eats, sleeps and breathes Hershey’s Kisses.  I knew where we were headed the second the conversation started…

Kiss lady:  How old are you?

Jake:  Five.

Kiss lady:  Are you having fun?

Jake: Yes.

(here it comes)

Kiss lady:  Have you been eating a lot of candy?

Jake:  No.

Kiss lady: (nodding)

Jake:  No, I haven’t had any because I don’t like them. I hate chocolate.

I’m pretty sure I heard a collective gasp move across the room. Jake had the same conversation four more times with other’s Hershey’s people before we went home. Of course, everybody was lovely and as incredulous as I that someone doesn’t really like chocolate. And I don’t want Jake to lie, but I’m not sure how bad it would have been if he had said, “I haven’t had any candy because I’m not hungry.” Or “I haven’t had any candy because I’m saving it for later.” Just nicer, no? He also suggested to someone that perhaps a chocolate-less Hershey’s Kiss might be a good idea. I’m certain that was sent right to the development folks in Pennsylvania.

We can’t wait for the Twizzler’s party.

More self-image building

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The last couple days have delivered a significant hit to my self image. Yes, the truth hurts, whether you’re lame or not.

The first blow came from the daughter, still young enough for this to be a little cute.  I was lying on my side and from behind me Jenn informs me that she thinks the baby is in my butt.  Ha ha ha.  She’s cute and funny and we all laughed.

The second blow?  Jake was playing 20 questions with someone and as a way of ascertaining how big the item was, he asked, “Is it bigger than my mom?” Not bigger than a bread box; not bigger than a school bus.  No. He wondered if it was bigger than I am. Ach. Fortunately the item in question was an airplane, so there was an obvious answer.

The final and most stinging blow? Husband was walking me from lunch to a cab. I was limping a little because I had gone to physical therapy that morning for an ankle issue and felt VERY out of sorts. I mentioned this.

Me:  (limping) Maybe I should wear a sign so people don’t think I’m walking like this just because I’m pregnant.

Supportive husband:  Yeah. It could say “Fat and gimpy.”

Silence.

He always knows just what to say.

 

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