Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stay on your back (and off the stairs)

I remember when Eric was a little baby and it was just the two of us. I was utterly ecstatic whenever he mastered a new skill- sitting up, rolling over, crawling, eating solids (okay, maybe not so much on the eating solids once I realized what a bloody mess it was to clean up). With Rachel I could really keep her as a baby forever- immobile, cute, drinking liquids with no clean-up. Alright, maybe not forever, but at least until she turned 18.

Eric is SO needy and hyper-active. It's a boy thing, I think. He always wants to play, romp around, and have my full attention that at this point I simply leave Rachel under Star or in her playpen with toys for an hour or so for every awake block. I do check on her, but if I spend too much time with her then Eric starts to get violent towards her, something I am trying to avoid. 2 under 2 sucks; no matter what you do, you feel like you're neglecting one of them. She's perfectly happy by herself, though. Really. Because when she's not, I definitely hear it.

But now... Just when I think I have everything under control... Now Rachel is rolling so much she's constantly on her tummy. You turn your back and boom. She's on her stomach, back arched and mouth agape. And I am constantly wiping up spit-up and rolling her back on her back after cheering her on. She can roll back, but loves being on her tummy so much that by the time she wants to roll back over, he doesn't have the strength and screeches for me to rescue her if I am out of the room.

She is so cute, but jeez I could use her staying so low maintenance until Eric starts to speak. Eric has begun to pull back the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs, walking up and down unassisted. Unfortunately, he also wants to take Blankie with him. I am terrified he will trip one of these days when I'm taking Rachel upstairs for her nap. I can't keep him off the stairs now. With every new ability they gain, my life gets harder.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Formal Letter of Protest

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to protest my current work environment. I am a "personal assistant" to my boss, whom hereafter in this letter will be referred to as "X." I was recruited by friends and family who previously held similar positions. I was assured by them I would savor every moment in my new career and, perhaps most important to me, that my boss and I would get along wonderfully.

I have been working in this job for almost 2 years now, and everything about my work environment is completely different from what I was led to believe. I have tried to explain to colleagues and close friends what I am going through, but many of them simply can't comprehend the full extent of my plight, or they simply don't want to know. Below is a snapshot of a typical day and specific examples of the abuse I take from X on a daily basis.

X is a sadistic tyrant who works me non-stop without a break. Almost every morning he calls to wake me up. I am expected to immediately head to work. Once I'm on the job, I have to run crazy errands in record time. Yesterday he wanted me to go and get his lunch, but when I gave him his food, he threw it on the floor. X sometimes does this whenever I bring him meals, and he finds it hysterically funny.

I'm not laughing. I am constantly getting him drinks. He trashes my personal space. X gives me on-the-job material that I am forced to read over and over again. He has no patience and is incredibly stubborn. I have only one break every day, but he sometimes doesn't allow me to have even that brief reprieve. And when X isn't getting my full attention, he hits me or pulls my hair. I find it degrading to be treated in this manner.

Six months into this experience, I was given the surprise of my career in an official notice that an efficiency expert would be coming as a second manager, if you will, to critique my work. I'll call her "Y." This woman has no qualms about calling at all hours of the night to make sure I am "on task." While she has never been physically abusive, I never feel relaxed around her. If I have the miracle of a free minute to sit down to have a cup of coffee, I can feel her eyes on me. And many times if I'm trying to fulfill a task for X, Y will start yelling at me to do something for her. It's non-stop.

Since I started this job, I have had no vacation. I have been given no sick days. And I have yet to be paid. And X (and now Y as well) refuses to let me quit. I am utterly exhausted and emotionally drained.

If you're reading this letter, this is my notice that I will one day be free of this. My fear is that after doing this job for so long, I will have no recollection of what my old life was like. I am afraid I won't recognize myself. This career has been life changing, and my mind may become so warped that I actually miss this insane, tiring, endless, horrible, wonderful job.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Rachel's New Trick

With all the excitement about Eric transitioning to the floor... errr.. I mean, his toddler bed, I neglected to mention that Rachel has (finally!) stopped rejecting the bottle. Laurie, John, and I have been working with her all summer, but we kept coming up against the same routine over and over again: Rachel would be able to eat from a bottle. There would be much rejoicing, and then I would spend a day (ok, maybe 2 or 3) nursing her because I want her to be able to take a bottle and breastfeed. And then we would give her a bottle, which she would bulk at, and the cycle would continue.

The day Eric climbed out of his crib, Rachel decided to drain bottle after bottle. Turns out she hated the formula we were giving her. She now would rather drink from a bottle. This is great turn of events because it means I can get out and have a date that lasts longer than 3 hours. It also sucks in that she now barely nurses, and my boobs are killing me!

I remember when I was pregnant with Eric. I had read all the literature on breastfeeding, and there was no way I would introduce a foreign substance filled with crazy artificial crap to my baby. Then the reality of breastfeeding set in, and I realized that it wasn't easy. Having to feed Eric every 2-3 hours around the clock made me want to shoot myself. Then again, it could have been the postpartum depression. I don't do well on less than 6 hours of sleep a night, and I was a wreck for weeks. Eric would nurse for awhile, then stop latching on and scream his head off. And then I got an infection which forced me to switch to formula.

That infection turned out to be a life-saver. While it was a pain to mix and wash bottles every day, it made Eric thrive and allowed me the freedom to give bottle duty to my husband, family, and even friends who were thrilled (for some odd reason) about feeding my baby. John and I could go away for weekends without the baby! I lost weight; my breasts didn't hurt. For those shorts trips, I felt like I could be someone besides a mom...

... And I felt horribly guilty. Was I a bad mother for not nursing my son? Am I a bad mother for weaning my daughter onto formula at only 4 months? What about all the research that suggests I was/am hurting their health, their IQ, and their ability to bond with me (among other things)?

I can't speak yet for Rachel. But Eric is 19 months old, and I sometimes wish formula had dumbed him down a bit. That little rascal can figure out an electronic device in record time and has never had a cold, much less an illness (though I'm not complaining about his health!). And it apparently didn't hurt the bonding process because he's now permanently attached to my leg.

Maybe Rachel won't fare as well, but I've discovered that there really are different strokes for different folks. I love seeing women breastfeed their babies, and I feel such pride in what their doing. I also see women feeding their babies formula, and I wonder if they suffered through the guilt that I did. I hope they feel as good about the choice they've made as I have.

I will never understand why we women can be so judgmental on our own sex. It's bad enough that society tells us we should all be a size 2, June Cleaver for our kids, and sex pots for our husbands. What about us? Motherhood has made me feel lost at times. Does it make every woman feel as if she's lost her bearings? Do other moms get pissed off that they always put their families over themselves, as I do? Do other moms feel like they have to choose between their identity as the person they once knew and someone they may or may not want to become?

Or am I totally nuts?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Crib versus Floor

I should preface this entry with the story of how we (by "we" I mean "John") figured out that Eric could climb out of his crib.

Yesterday while I was at the spa, my kids decided to nap simultaneously (WHY can't they do this when I'm watching them alone??!!). So our friend Laurie napped on the couch and John went upstairs to our bedroom to read. While he was reading he heard a giant THUNK. Then a minute later he heard our baby gate latch at the top of the stairs. He called to Laurie, thinking maybe she had heard Rachel or Eric and was going to check on them, closing the gate behind her. When he heard no answer, John got up and saw that not only was the baby gate latched but Eric's door was open. He walked in to find my son standing next to his crib smiling up at him as if to say, "Hi Dada! Look what I did!"

This is where I interject and say God bless my son for being a "J," hyper-organized and type A like his mom. What would have happened if he hadn't thought to himself 'The baby gate should be closed when I'm upstairs' and had tumbled down the stairs??!!

So today Eric continued to climb out of his crib- first this morning and then at nap time. John and I decided that Eric wasn't quite ready for a toddler bed. How do you tell a kid who can't speak yet and doesn't understand that he can hurt himself that a toddler bed is where he needs to sleep?

So for his nap we kept going back in and putting him back in the crib. And he kept climbing out of his crib, heading for the door (which is now closed with a toddler lock). This went on several times, and finally Rachel (who was sleeping through the whole thing, God bless her) woke up. I go into her room to nurse her and when I come out I find that Eric has climbed out again, but John hasn't put him back in the crib. I freak and ask John (okay, I order him) to go back in there and PUT HIM BACK. So John does. And wakes up Eric in the process who was asleep on the floor near the door. And Eric... climbs back out again. And falls asleep on the floor. Again. (Should I even mention that he woke up from his nap overly tired and very grumpy?)

John and I were stumped. We finally gave up and transitioned his crib into a toddler bed. But now Eric is asleep on the floor for the night, and I'm having to defend my decision to everyone I tell our tale of woe to. Nothing makes you feel more inferior as a mother than thinking you are doing something wrong with your child. I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing- I just know I don't want my son to hurt himself. What a huge pile of suck. I just want him to sleep for God's sake. I have a daughter who won't sleep through the night and now a son who sleeps on the floor.

Does anyone know of any sweepstakes giving away free trips to Hawaii?

Eric's Red Letter Day

So today I am totally psyched because I finally get to use the Red Door Spa coupon that John gave me for our second year anniversary (yes, over a year ago). I leave the house early, with plenty of time to read what I call my "smut magazines" (I have to catch up on the Jon-Kate drama, and... OMG Jessica Simpson is dating a Redskin QB??!! Crap, the season's over already!).

I get my massage, and knowing full well that I won't be able to do this again for a long, long, LONG time, I hang out for a bit. I even take a shower just so I can overload on the free Elizabeth Arden skin and hair care products.

Then I come home to what I hope will be two sleeping babies. Yes, I'm a dreamer.

I am greeted at the door with my smiling toddler and John saying, "Guess what Eric learned to do today?"

It turns out my 19 month old learned how to:
1) Open the front door with the dead bolt engaged. I didn't know he could reach the dead bolt.
2) Climb out of his crib. This kid has flexibility international gymnasts would envy. He lifts his leg almost 180 degrees, pulls himself onto the railing and then THUNK! He hits the floor and can...
3) Open te door to his room. Which means he can now open every door in the house.

And here I was thinking that I could manage without any extra help once Laurie leaves... :-(

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yes, more pictures

Just some random pics from the past few days. (I really need to find time to write more...)

We finally got a family photo taken! I had my 15 year high school reunion, which was about as well-attended as I thought it would be (only about 8 people showed up). That pretty much sums up my high school class- apathetic, at least most people. Though at this stage in our lives, it's hard to go to anything anymore.

It was nice to see some friendly faces... and even the not-so-friendly faces. We attended a BBQ on Sunday, and everyone there had kids. I had to take Rachel because the stubborn chunky money now won't eat from a bottle (again). How in the world will John and I get out to do anything? If she ever starts eating from a bottle again, I think I'll just switch to formula. I'm tired of getting up 4 times a night, never being able to go anywhere without her. I'm not producing much milk anyway...

But I digress...

Eric going through a play tunnel- it took awhile to convince him that this was fun.

Rachel in motion.

Yes, she still has that Monchichi hair. (I haven't thought of that cartoon in forever, and a friend at the reunion mentioned her "monchichi hair." And then when I thought about it... it sounded Japanese. Sure enough- the Monchichi cartoon was imported from Japan!)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wordless Weekend

Because I'll be too busy at my folks' house to post...

... and because a picture really is worth a thousand words...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Season Tickets

So after 7 years, John finally got off the waiting list for Redskins season tickets. So now the question becomes, do we buy them?

The good thing about buying now- it's cheaper than it will probably be next year (or 10 years from now when we would get off the waiting list yet again). It will be easier to upgrade to more seats (4 seats, for example). ;-) And we could sell tickets we can't use, because with 2 kids under 2, how many games would we be able to see anyway?? (Can you say ebay Cowboys tickets? Heck, that could pay for about 40% of the season ticket cost right there!)

The bad thing about buying now is the cost. At $2100 we would be paying for the tickets over the next few months. This would hurt our budget. Sadly, a plasma t.v. would be cheaper (just not a 65 inch one). We also couldn't attend a ton of games with getting a baby-sitter and me breast-feeding (plus a lot of the games this year are Monday night games. Figures).

What do you guys think? We LOVE football. We love the Skins... Just don't like spending that kind of money. But who does?? ;-)