Sunday, March 31, 2013


My world right now is small - care for baby, kid, self & spouse, the cat; survive school; wonder how many people live next door (maybe 5 adults of both genders but not in any couples?); busting the escaping cat attempting to smote the neighbors' tiny fluffy dog. I am all right with this world-shrinking for now. So to have anything exciting going on is huge for me.

The big exciting thing is that Drug Monkey's new book is now out! A physical copy of it will be arriving soon! Yay! His first book was amazing and I laughed through most of it, a good chunk during lunch breaks at the good old pharmacy. Laughed so hard I cried over my sunbutter sandwich while trying to hide from customers.

Then there's my reason for staying in pharmacy school every time I want to quit. This post. Some day, I get to be the good guy, the person who saves the day for a sick person. It is worth it because of the good I can contribute to the world.

So read that first book if you are interested in what life is like in a pharmacy, and the new one if the drug companies make you mad.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Week 6 of Little Monster

Remember to comment or message me if you want the password... provided you aren't a robot. If you are a robot who can convince me you're a human, you may also have the password.

The case of the mean kids

The kid goes to a daycare with a preschool program. It's in a house and has the maximum number of kids allowed. There are 3 "big kids," one almost big kid, and a gaggle of 2 year olds. The trouble is that 2 of the 4 non-two year olds are mean. I suspect most of the meanness comes from being the younger sibling and taking the chance when the sibling(s) aren't around to act just like them. One of the big kids doesn't start out mean, but he follows along with the meanness. That results in 3 kids opting to be mean to my kid since she doesn't get how to play the Mean Game girls usually start once in school.

This poses a problem. Mostly because I don't know when to step in and when to just coach the kid on being kind. In a smaller daycare with fewer insane two year olds, this wouldn't be a problem. The mean would be apparent to the teacher, talked about, and not tolerated at all. Here, the big kids are often playing without the teacher so they don't get caught until someone is crying.

The trouble is, I am sick of the crying at home about not wanting to go. I am tired of explaining that my kid needs to tell the mean kids how she feels when they are mean. I am tired of having to explain why kids are mean in the first place. It was inevitable that we talk about mean kids and bullying. I just wish I had better solutions than "be nice even if they're mean because being mean back only makes things worse."

The other problem is the case of the elusive infant spot. I'm happy with the program at this place. I know the kid is physically safe and well-fed (or she would be if she ever ate anything). I know that the smaller kids get more personal attention than the bigger ones. We have dibs on the infant spot when we're ready to claim it (after Little Monster is 6weeks old and vaccinated). We are unlikely to find another infant spot and to find a school-aged spot too (soon anyway)? Might as well be the white stag.

What's best for the kid? Learning that life is full of mean people and you need to figure out how to cope, or trying to find another place where at least these mean kids wouldn't be there? Maybe there would be different mean kids. Maybe my kid would become the mean one now that she knows the tricks of the trade.

Then there's summer and what on earth comes next. We hope to find enough work for the spouse here that we can stay, but there are a lot more jobs closer to the city. We could decide to be done with childcare while I'm on summer break. It would be cheaper (assuming I don't go insane) and no constant mean kid exposure (plus no pumping for the baby). We won't know for sure just how broke we'll be next year until July so it's hard to make any kind of plan (like for kindergarten to be year round or traditional schedule, just in case we move August 1st). Gah.

I hate decisions like this. Just hate them. Tied up in this is the "where to do rotations" question. I get to set up my own rotations if I want or I can let the school pick for me but I'd need to be close to school for that to work rather than commuting from Outer Happy Nowheresville. That means moving. I hate moving. Ugh. It is certainly time for some serious consideration of the options and a decision. I just wish there were an easy decision to make.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


So here's Little Monster's birth story. I'm really thrilled that our doula did a great job recording it all for us, because I totally wasn't in a time-conscious frame of mind at all. It's taken me almost 6 weeks to get this done, so here ya be.

The night before the big event, I was commenting to the spouse that I decidedly fit in my clothes better all of a sudden and Little Monster must have dropped (and so take out the trash right now or something). At about 3:30am, I woke up either having wet the bed sneezing (ahem. not like that happens or anything...) or my water broke, so I got out of bed. Since I gushed the whole way to the bathroom, I figured it was clearly that my water broke. I sent the spouse to fetch the waterproof blanket and set it out on the bed to attempt to get some sleep.

By a little after 4, I started timing contractions and decided to get up. The spouse called the hospital and they weren't very demanding we come in, so the waterproof blanket and I set up to get some homework done. My contractions were reasonably regular and about 5 minutes apart by 5 or 6am, so we called our doula. We figured we'd wait around at home as long as possible, and my doctor had approved waiting until 2-3 minutes apart, so we figured we had some time. (Aside: if you don't own one, you totally should get a waterproof blanket like this one (nsfw). Greatest thing ever for a wide range of uses.)

About 9 the spouse was all "Isn't it time to go to the hospital yet?" and I said no. I peeked at my contraction timer and noted that the spaces between them were getting bigger... no good.

By about 10 though, I was totally soaked and tired of being soggy and cold and decided I was ready to go gush on some chucks at the hospital. The contractions I was having were moving from irritating to almost painful, so I was hopeful.

We made some pit stops and turned up at the hospital about 11am. The best pit stop was at the spouse's HR office to pick up the Family & Medical Leave paperwork, and a pregnant lady due in May was in line ahead with lots of questions about it (like 15 minutes of questions). Then the spouse gets to the desk and is all, "Yep, FMLA paperwork for me too, my spouse is in the car in labor" and everyone in the office is scampering around. Nope, not that exciting or speedy of a labor. Everyone else was so excited and felt the need to be in a hurry, but not me and mostly not the spouse.

We checked in at the hospital and got the official test to determine my water had broken (as if the gushing for several hours wasn't enough). My doctor stopped in to say hi and good luck as she was just finished being on call, and that my second favorite doctor in the practice was on call after her (phew!). I got my IV access set up (blech but life) and our doula arrived.

We walked around for an hour or so. My doula gave me a massage with an emphasis on pressure points that induce contractions. I was pleased that this worked, at least a little bit. We walked around some more. About 3 the doctor came in to chat, said no dilation checks yet because there was no need (phew no arguing needed), and we'd consider pito.cin at 5 unless things picked up since my water had been broken over 12 hours. At this point I'd say contractions were lasting for half the length of the hallway and happening every other trip up and down, so about every 5-7 minutes and about a minute and a half, but I kept walking through them.

So then it was 5, still not a whole lot for contractions, and it was time for the drugs. Having had several hours to consider, I figured that it was needed since our best efforts at getting contractions going weren't making any headway. I also figured we had at least an hour after the doc ordered it before it turned up, so maybe something exciting would happen in that time.

And of course, nothing exciting happened. I'd been in a pretty good head space all day, just waiting and being patient with my body. This experience was so totally opposite of the labor with the kid that I figured it wasn't worth expecting anything specific to happen. While no drugs stayed my goal, I also knew that my overarching goal was a healthy baby and a healthy me at the end. While waiting around forever for my pit IV to get set up (and an antibiotic since it was so long since my water broke at this point), the spouse and my doula and I chatted that I really absolutely didn't want an epidural but if we get there, we get there. To this point we'd hardly been in the hospital room, but the pit meant constant monitoring (blech) so we set up the hypnobabies to play on our little speakers.

Truth in advertising: I never finished the home study course. I'd scheduled it out to be finished at 39 weeks, which was clearly waiting too long.  Oops.

I decided that I hate head phones so everyone could just listen to my hypnobabies track. We listened to the early labor track on repeat for quite some time, until I decided I was ready for quiet. The nurses switched shifts at about 7pm, just after the IV drugs finally got started.

To say the pit was effective would be an understatement. My sad little contractions perked right up even with a low dose and I decidedly had to focus on them and nothing else.

I was very pleased that the nurse was encouraging of me being out of bed or at least not laying around on my back. Most of the time after the pit was started I spent sitting in a wooden rocking chair, rocking through pressure wave after pressure wave. It was also nice to be able to get some counter pressure for my back by having someone pressing on my knees.

Sometime after 9 but before 9:30, the doc showed up to see if  the pit had done anything besides make my contractions hurt more. I had dilated to a 3, so he went to take a nap and wanted to be woken up at 11:30 to check me again. Not terribly long afterward I just couldn't make it through contractions any more. For comparison, the contractions felt a lot like I remembered transition feeling (ow ow ow), except I had maybe 20 seconds between them instead of more like a minute and I could still feel some contracting between waves.

I opted to get an IV pain med at not too long after 9:30pm, but only half a dose to start with because I knew it was one that would make me very spacy at the usual dose. Our doula asked the nurse about it, the nurse scoffed that it would do anything, but I said I was sure I only wanted half the usual dose, so I got it. Unsurprisingly it was exactly what I needed to take the peak of the pain out of the waves and help me stay focused, but I could enjoy being spaced out in the brief pauses. Somewhere in here I decided I wasn't interested in the active labor track, either because I wasn't sure I was progressing or because I was just ready to focus in silence.

I will say that it was really nice to have the hypnobabies track playing for everyone. The nurse was calm, the lab person was calm, the spouse was very relaxed, it was nice. I hadn't expected that but it helped keep everyone else from getting over excited, which in turn was helpful for me to stay focused.

About 20 minutes later I got up to use the restroom, and it took me maybe 5 minutes to get out of the rocking chair with all the continuous pressure waves. On my way back, I felt the urge to push, so I skipped the rocking chair and moved to the bed to be checked to see if I could push soon. My nurse looked positively dumbfounded that I was fully dilated and she could feel Little Monster's head. It was less than an hour since I'd last been checked.

Then the scampering began. The nurse called the doc and told him to hurry, maybe 3 more people turned up, and by the time the doc got there I was fighting really hard not to push. He barely got his gown and gloves on with help. I pushed through maybe 4 or 5 contractions, and then we had a baby girl.

She screamed as soon as she was born and kept it up for a couple of minutes until it dawned on me to ask about skin to skin, which we "of course!" could do, and Little Monster was then silent and alert. About 10 minutes after she was born she started nursing and kept at it for almost an hour, shocking everyone because babies at about 37 weeks aren't usually so awake and alert.

I spent the first two hours of her life just saying wow. Quite the tiny miracle and such a surprisingly different birth experience, but pleasantly so for the most part (aside from the evil pit). I think a big part of me was hesitant to believe that things would go well, that she'd turn up healthy and happy. It's been neat to be proven so totally wrong. Wow indeed. My tiny miracle Little Monster.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Weeks 4 and 5

As always, comment or email to request the password as evidence that you're a human (or a very close approximation).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I think I'll move to Australia

Have you read the book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Here's the link to it at amazon.
It's a great book. I once had a summer job at a day camp where I read it daily for a month. Alexander's solution to everything going wrong is to move to Australia.

Yesterday was one of those days around here. Little Monster & I have a cold so sleep is a rare thing. Yesterday she slept about 3 hours less than average.

We started off the day with me waking up 15 minutes before the spouse is supposed to be at work, needing to have the car. We left the girls sleeping at home for the 10 minutes it took for me to drive round trip. During the car ride my calendar binged to remind me of the Kid's 5 year old well child visit. Except it appeared on the calendar at one time and had another time in the title.

So I suggest the spouse call the clinic to confirm the time. "I forgot it, but I'm sure it's in the afternoon." And I trusted that and didn't call myself to check.

Then I get the kid up an ready for daycare, with some time out for feeding the now-awake baby. We get to daycare and the baby bucket seat is stuck in the car. After a five minute wrestling match I leave the car running and take the kid in.

Carseat is still stuck when we get home so I just take Little Monster out and carry her in, through the subzero windchill. With a soggy face.

An hour before the appointment LM finally takes a nap after her fussiest 4 hours yet. So much shrieking. Of course five minutes before we need to leave to get the Kid she wakes up hungry. Eventually we get ready, with temporary bundling for LM so she is warm enough outdoors. We pick up the kid 15 minutes later than planned.

We arrived at the clinic in time to find a parking spot, rebundled the baby, and hiked a block to and then through the clinic. I dropped the kid off at the fish tank in the waiting room and went to check in. After 10 minutes I got a secretary. The appointment was actually at about the time I dropped the kid at daycare. Ugh.

We watched the fish for another few minutes while I attempted to email the spouse that we were en route for picking hir up. There's free wifi so I figured no problem. Wrong. We tested 5 places throughout the clinic and no working wifi. So I decided to go to the library. As soon as we get to the door, the kid is SO THIRSTY. We then walk a block back to the nearest drinking fountain. Five minute drink later, she is dripping wet. Awesome. Now I have 2 damp children to take out into the ten+ below weather.

We bundle up and return to the car and when we get to the library I realize my iPod isn't actually sending emails. So we drive home and I try emailing again. Get to the spouse's workplace and see the email didn't send. Go home again and use computer to email. Pick up the spouse after a 45 minute delay just in time for swimming lessons for the kid! Go home again to get the suit and baby carrier.

An then we ate out (ugh) and went to a meeting because we clearly hadn't been gone enough for one day.

I'm just glad it will never be that Tuesday again. The fussy baby continues but it's much easier to manage at home.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The moment

Right now my project is to stay in the moment. If I can be really present in whatever I'm doing, I feel better. Less guilty. Less s screens and more playing. Little Monster does this tricky thing where she gets very restless in bed and makes you think she's going to wake up, but if left alone, she'll go on sleeping, sometimes for another hour. It's a good reminder to me not to worry so much about when she does wake up, to just deal with this moment and wait until she actually needs something. That way the rest of my life gets a bit more attention.

And for now we're just trying to make the most of the moments we have. Hopefully Little Monster keeps up her sleep schedule and the Kid starts going to bed at a reasonable time (please oh please oh please just SLEEP) so we all stay well and happy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A whole month?

At least I can be consoled that February is a short month, so I haven't missed quite so much in this intervening space. Time is flying and I don't quite know what to make of it. I have a terrible case of pharmacy school and new parent brain. It feels like I'm fighting a sieve trying to keep in enough water to stay afloat. My poor grades...

Little Miss Monster is now a month old (give or take a bit) and she's doing well. Her cheeks are extra chubby, she tries to stand up when lifted (almost succeeding), and she attempts to kiss the spouse by chucking her whole head forward when encouraged (sometimes just by the kissing noise). A favorite game is Vampire Baby, where her kicking in grumpiness is used to launch herself off the spouse's arm toward the spouse's neck where she attempts to nurse (give a hickey). Her next check-up is in a couple of weeks to get her next round of vaccinations.

The Kid is now 5 and taking it very seriously. Being 5 takes away the last impediment from her being a Big Kid at preschool and she is thrilled about it. She starts getting her allowance soon for doing jobs around the house. Each of her jobs is worth a nickel and she has a savings fund (well, jar) for college, one for donating to a charity of her choice, and one for saving toward something fun. We're hopeful that this gives her extra incentive to get her jobs done.  They're little, age-appropriate jobs like taking her dishes after a meal to the kitchen and picking up her toys before bed. Maybe feeding the cat sometimes. The idea is that if she's really keen to earn more, she can do a few more jobs but she has a few required ones that she's been doing for months or years.

And I'm really looking forward to summer vacation already. SUMMER! We've had two snow days in the last two weeks and that's plenty to be getting on with for a while. I'm sure it will melt and flood any day now, but for the moment, so much snow.

I'm still noodling about, waiting for enough spare time to get the blog moved to its new home at wordpress. In the intervening who knows how long, the weekly Little Monster posts are there, occasionally with a picture. Feel free to ask for the password (presuming you aren't a robot) and you're welcome to it. I'm reading the blogs I can but commenting from my mobile doodad just goes boom, so I don't get to do that as much as I'd like.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mystery solved

Since the baby arrived, the kid has been reporting and fussing about "nobody pays attention to me anymore!" There have been tears. Repeatedly.

The source of this assumption was totally unclear to me. When people come to visit, especially in pairs like grandparents or the sibling and sib-in-law, they almost always spend nearly the entire time playing with the kid (at least one if not both people).  Yes there may be some baby holding but generally it's been a case of the kid by far overshadowing the baby (I sense a theme for the future).

Then there was an admission by the kid that she wanted to be held and in a lap because someone is always holding the baby and NOBODY HOLDS ME. That makes sense, to a degree. We've since started trying to make more time to hold the kid (but this is hard because she is HUGE now) but the frequency of complaints hasn't changed.

The other night I figured it out! I was in the rocker in the girls' bedroom (nursing Little Monster) and the kid was on her bed staring longingly at us, and it clicked.

Eye contact! The kid gets attended to, yes, but nobody spends hours gazing into her eyes. The only thing to do, of course, with a baby is to gaze into their eyes should they be open.

So I'm trying to make eye contact all the time I'm hanging around with the kid. She seems a bit happier about things now.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Week 3 of Little Monster

And there's a picture! An anonymous, faceless picture, but still cute (and yes, I am highly biased).

As I may or may not have mentioned, comment or email me for the password. All you need to be is human to be password-approved. Email remains MizFuturePharmD at gmail dot com and I promise I'll figure out how to post that properly here some time soon. I hope. After that birth story and hypnobabies reviews though.

Some thoughts on raising girls

There was an excellent discussion of how hard raising girls is, as a woman who didn't have a rosy and ideal youth on twitter today. YIPES! was absolutely my reaction when we found out we were likely to have a girl some 5+ and I still have no idea how to handle it.

Here's my short list of priorities in raising successful daughters.

1. Consider with the spouse how to handle tough conversations well ahead of time. We know that the kid isn't getting a personal screen doodad like an I.pod for a long time. No cell phone until she's 16 and it will be the stupidest phone we can find - no camera, no texting if we can help it, no apps, no music. A phone is for calling people and she needs to learn to use it as such before adding gadgets.

2. Talk about everything. Do not assume just because a word gets used that she knows what it means. We went to an event this fall that was sponsored by one of the large immigrant communities here. They look different from us. We talked a little bit about that, and that it isn't a big deal that people have different skin colors or speak different languages. It's really neat that we're so different.

3. No really. Talk about everything. My parents were really not into talking with us about anything. When I got my period, I got a trip to the library an a stack of books. I grew up with a lesbian aunt (with a partner) and it wasn't until I was at least 12 that I understood that it was like they were married. Why? Nobody explained it! So we are doing our best to explain everything because I'd like the girls to learn the truth rather than some myth other kids have developed.

4. Teach problem solving and practice as ways to overcome any challenge. Being smart is nice but it isn't enough. Practice and effort are really what makes a person successful. I thought I was bad at math for years because I never bothered to practice it enough to really get good at it. Now I know that with practice, I can even do calculus well.

5. I have no idea so I'm going to seek out experts. I don't wear makeup and the spouse only does theatrical makeup, so eventually I'm going to recruit an aunt or "aunt" to teach the girls about its appropriate use. I didn't date guys much at all so I'm going to recruit help to talk about being safe in a relationship. I have few body modifications (tattoos, piercings, gauged ears) so I'm going to recruit help to talk about this stuff. I can speak to "drinking and drugs are highly dangerous so wait to try them" and I plan to start at about age 10 or 11 at the latest.

6. Consistently and explicitly stating the rules. I know that kids love rules. Since I lacked consistent rules growing up, I made my own. I want to make clear all of my expectations so the girls know how to live up to them and to tell them so when they do a good job.

7. Actually know their friends and friends' parents so I know what the other kids' rules are like. My parents were quick to approve based on superficially knowing the parents and I took great advantage of that as a teen, "sleeping over" at approved friends' houses often. I am not terribly sociable but I am going to try really hard to establish relationships with other parents so I can keep better tabs on the girls.

8. Proper sex education. My (very weird) high school had a health day that had lectures on actual health (cooking in the dorms, balanced nutrition on a budget, etc) and sexual health (how do various kinds of birth control work or not, how to put on a condom, how adoption usually works, where to go if you needed help, rape is bad sort of stuff) and probably a bit of mental health thrown in. It was really helpful to me and I hope to set up a similar deal as a community event when we are settled in a community (soon I hope).

Can I spare them what I went through? Maybe some of the biggest and baddest things I went through could be avoided if they knew they were coming (driving and texting will get you killed as will taking drugs sometimes are my friends' sad examples). The very best thing I can do is to help them work through their own problems and give them the tools to ask for help when they need it, and to ensure they feel safe asking for help from someone (even if it isn't their parents). But it is not for me to smooth every bump in the road. It's important for me to teach them to climb mountains safely instead.

So let the mountaineering lessons begin.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

20 questions!

Let me preface this by saying that little quiz things like this were a big part of the spouse and I's early relationship, back in the dark ages of internet communication (ie no voice or video yet). We first met in person for just a few days, then started "dating" via online communications, spent a weekend together, and then got engaged shortly thereafter while chatting on the phone and then went on our first actual date after we were engaged...). Strange deal all around, but we emailed quizzes like this one back and forth for weeks in there as a way of getting to know each other like you would usually do on a date. Lots of fond memories of quizzes like this for me (or maybe my hormones are weirdly broken still).

Check out everyone else's responses over here at PAIL!

1. What was the last thing you threw in the garbage/recycling?
 A random rectangle of white cardboard went into the recycling.

2. What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?
 This was surprising, so much so that you get a top 5 list. "Tried To Save The World" from the Planet 51 soundtrack is number 1 (who listens to this song all the time? huh?), "Waiting For The Bus" by the Johnson Twins is number 2 (unsurprising as I love this song since it reminds me of city life and missed connections), "The Mountain" by Mason Jennings is number 3 and "California" also by Mason Jennings is number 4 (but neither is even in my top 10 favorite songs by him... hmm...), and number 5 is "Tomorrow" by Jeremy Messersmith (which IS my favorite song by him).

3. What is your favorite quote? "To the man with only a hammer in the toolkit, every problem looks like a nail" - Abraham Maslow

4. What chore do you absolutely hate doing?
Taking out the trash and putting away the dishes. My spouse would probably say "all of them" though.

5. What is your favorite form of exercise?
Canoeing or cross country skiing

6. What is your favorite time of day/day of the week/month of the year?
Day: 6:45am when the kid is chirping in her room and Little Monster is grunting in her bed and all is right in the world.
Week: Fridays after 4pm (when class is over this semester)
Month: September, when it's cooler and the leaves are lovely

7. What is on your bedside table?
A moving box. It's still in the garage for some reason. On the headboard are about 6 random paperbacks (half romances, half sci fi/fantasy), a heap of kleenex, an adult toy, a 32 oz gas stationcup of water, a kid's version of a religious text, a Junie B Jones book,  a puzzle in its box, and a decorated rattling box with ribbons the kid made when she was about 3

8. What is your favorite body part?
On other people: legs, especially calves.
On myself: My eyebrow. Yes, there's just the one and I am very fond of it.

9. Would you use the power of invisibility for good or evil? Elaborate.
Odds are, probably good and mischief. So not quite evil per se.

10. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
I would pick 29, because it seems like a good age (although I haven't gotten there yet, I have plans that it will be AWESOME)

11. What is the first thing you would do if you won the lottery?
 Pay off all the student loans and prepay the rest of my tuition

12. What is your biggest pet peeve?
People who say they'll do something and then don't. Don't say yes if you won't do it! Sheesh!

13. If you could know the answer to any question, what would it be?
Who shot JFK and why?

14. At what age did you become an adult?
I quit living at home when I was 16 (I had a dorm room!), had my own place at 19, and got married at 20, so one of those.

15. Recommend a book, movie, or television show in three sentences or less.
Everyone should read "Shades of Grey" by Jasper Fforde because it's a really interesting look at class/race, dystopian futures, and arranged marriages. It does a great job of building a really interesting post-apocalyptic world where an obscure art history text becomes central to life. Also it's fun to read a book that has a slightly different title than another very popular book to shock certain people.

16. What did you do growing up that got you into trouble?
The short answer is staying out late. The long answer is almost anything and everything I could think up. One particular incident I got busted coming home at 4am (which I'd been doing for weeks on the weekends) and instead of letting me go to sleep, my parents gave me a long lecture BUT they let me leave at 6am for a something or other meet (speech team, mock trial team, something else), having slept about 75 minutes.

17. What was the first album you bought with your own money?
I believe it was three at once, and probably Antichrist Superstar by Marilyn Manson, Place In The Sun by Lit, and Ixnay on the Hombre by The Offspring.

18. If someone wrote a book about you, what would be the title?
 "How did we get here anyway? Tales of life on the scenic route"

19. What story do you wish your family would stop telling about you?
I get right fed up with the story of how I insisted on keeping all the dairy animals, and once I moved to the farm and saw how much work it was, 3/4 of them were sold within the week that my mother is so fond of telling. Inaccurate! I wanted the bunch kept so I could personally get a sense for production and quality of the animals by hanging around with them, and the plan was all along that I'd make substantial cuts once I'd had that chance. It took me a month and only half of them got sold (the lousy half).

20. True or false: The unicorn is the greatest mythical creature. State your case.
False. The dragon is the greatest mythical creature. It breathes fire or steam, can fly, is nearly invincible, and may employ errant princesses as a cook/librarian (based on Patricia Wrede's novel "Dealing With Dragons"). Unicorns are mostly glorified horses, and horses are super needy animals, therefore unicorns cannot be the greatest mythical creature.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stolen moments

So the short version of my emotions at the moment and in the last couple of weeks is shock and awe.

I'll be honest, I wasn't totally convinced that this pregnancy would go well at all. Ever. Not until there was a howling baby in the room did I really buy it.

Yesterday the spouse was reporting that I hold Little Monster a lot more than I did the kid. It is probably true, in large part because I spent all my time with the kid nursing her and then letting her sleep on me or bouncing her just so in the dreary colic dance for a few hours a night. There was no recreational time with the kid where she was just relaxing or snoozing quietly enough you could just sit there.

I bet some of it is general amazement too. I am amazed that after all the heartache and waiting and everything, there is a real baby. A real, happy, warm, snuggly baby. A baby who the kid keeps wanting to hold like she's the best prize ever.

Some of it is playing the "what if this is the very last baby ever?" game too. We've talked about adopting from foster care, but we want to maintain birth order if we can help it, and we don't expect we'd get to adopt a baby. We've talked about another biological kid and it's a daunting and scary process too, plus the added cost of testing to see if we can narrow down what all this repeat pregnancy loss business is about (and any meds to go with it).

I often feel like I've wandered into someone else's life where things have gone smoothly and there was no heartache and waiting and fretting to get to this moment. I often feel like I'm caught in that moment of total shock and awe that things have gone well. Here is the miracle, demanding to be fed or changed or gotten out of an over-warm pink outfit (because for some reason, girls need fluffy outfits and gender-neutral babies need plain cotton outfits and Little Monster is a plain cotton girl).

Right now it's snowing the most lovely giant flakes of snow. It looks like it's raining cotton balls. It's downright miraculous to get such lovely snow. Maybe tomorrow will be a snow day. My little miracle baby is napping upstairs. The novelty of saying and writing "my girls"hasn't worn off and I don't think it will any time soon. Every time it smacks me in the gut, that it's real and not some dream of life that might be someday. It is now.

This is the new world, where there are plural children living in this house, needing laundry washed, needing cuddling and attention, being cute. My girls. Whoa.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Simplicity Parenting

This is a part of the PAIL book club. Go check out everyone else's responses to the book!

Mini disclaimer: this is being typed with a Little Monster dozing on me,kinda. Sorry for letting auto correct win.

  • What is your “vision” for your family?
A safe space for my girls to decompress, to explore the world without judgement, and to have fun.  I want our life together to be relaxed and not all about running from one thing to the next. More quality in the girls' activities rather than quantity.

  • How do you think your life circumstances are uniquely suited/not suited to Payne’s message?
He offers suggestions on howto achieve what we've been working towards, so that rocks. I like the idea of keeping adult things from interfering with kids' lives unnecessarily but I'm not surre it's possible for us since the spouse listens to NPR while driving (& I always switchto music whenI drive so the glum news doesn't get me down). Since she was about 2.5, the kid has been asking about what stories she hears on the radio are true and what is made up since audio books get thrown in the news radio mix. If ksomething has happened that I think would worry her, I demand radio silence and so far it has worked. 

This book really works for us because it supports what we are already trying to do - keep it simple.

  • What do you all think would be the hardest things for you to change to simplify your life according to Payne’s suggestions?
Limiting activities. The spoues has mentioned the word hockey, and I really hope the kid didn't hear or understand it, because I value my sanity more than a sport. If she gets really excited about it, yes, I suppose we could gofor it but then there would be no other activities. No night at the gym, no swimming lessons, nada. We decided that as a 5 year old, the kid can go to 3 evening things a week including religious ed. So if she wants violin lessons, it means no more 2 days aweek swimming lessons. Her choice, probably, but with a limit.
  • Did anything in the book resonate particularly strongly with you?
The warning against too much stuff. We have way too much stuff and it is terribly problematic but it's also hard to do anything about because either there's no room to move things or the trash is perpetually so full that we can't continue throwing things away OR the moment someone starts, another person reclaims the junk and IT CANNOT BE THROWN AWAY EVAR! That last scenario is primarily the kid's doing and I don't know how to squash the pack rat habit but I really want to, and soon.

  • How do you feel about Payne’s proposed ban on “adult topics” with
    kids? In your family, what do you intend to discuss with or keep from
    your kids?
I try to keep scary things from the kid when there's no way to prepare for them. War and man-made disasters are on the top of my list (like mass shootings or starvation or civil war in particular). She knows what to do about a fire or a tornado because they happen rarely but she can learn how to cope. Some parts of life are too awful to cope with, so you don't unless you have to go through them. I think that when she gets older I'll stop protecting her from things so she can learn to cope. One of my friends grew up extremely sheltered (to the extent of special schools and "I was shocked that someone would knock a chair out from under another kid to be mean") and has had a terrible time moving into being an adult because she had no idea how awful the world could be. Nobody deserves that level of denial to overcome as an adult, so I plan to let the world in before the kid is a teenager.

  • What do you think about Payne’s theory of children having “Cumulative Stress Disorder?” Have you seen examples of it in real life?
I buy it absolutely. It reminds me of the experiences I had in a classroom teaching some kids with PTSD after being immigrants/emigrants and some of the very privileged kids with no apparent traumas in their past showed the same signs. It was weird, but the cumulative stress of dragging those kids around to 2 or 3 events every night, all 7 days a week makes sense as a source of all that trauma. Those kids never get time to unwind because they are consistently being wound up. I'd even believe that as an older kid, I put myself through this level of stress, and you'd see the effects in me getting sick for a few weeks or just being twitchy and controlling about other things in my life (like the identical lunches I ate an entire semester in high school, with the snack mix sorted in the same order and eaten in the same order OR ELSE).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Why exactly is this time easier (so far)?

So in a bit more than 2 weeks with Little Monster, we are noticing that things are much smoother than before. I imagine some of that is because we have done this before, but not most of it.  Here's my list of things that are making a big difference for us. Some are things we can control, some aren't.

1. Different baby who is ever so much calmer and relaxed about eating. I think that the Kid's nearly 24 hours apart from me aside from eating in her first 30 hours led her to be antsy about getting enough to eat. That or the GERD (that would be heartburn's technical abbreviation) compelled her to eat all the time. Think every hour for 20-25 minutes for 12-15 of the hours in a day level of eating, and she didn't slow down until week 4. It was hardcore ugly for a bit there, and THEN there was the colic screaming for 3-8 hours a night that started on day 8 and continued until we got my oversupply fixed when she was about 2.5 months old.

2. No GERD to speak of, yet. We have Little Monster sleeping on a slant all the time and have from the very beginning, just in case. She doesn't seem to be showing any reflux yet and that's the most exciting thing ever in my view.

3. Less fragile-seeming baby. I do not hesitate whatsoever to prop Little Monster up in a sitting position if she's resisting burping. I was chicken about waking up the Kid (and with the colic, maybe rightfully so, maybe the lack of burping was contributing to it) so I rarely tried this.

4. We know that babies are noisy sleepers. Grunting, gurgling, wimpering, all totally normal baby is sleeping noises. Why doesn't anyone tell you that before the baby arrives? We were nervous new parents and so we were up worrying about every peep when we should have let the Kid sleep and we should totally have been sleeping too. Also on the sleep front, I now put Little Monster to bed sometimes before she's totally conked out if she is blinking slowly at me. Clearly she's tired, and maybe her bed is a comfier spot for her to settle in to sleep than being held, so I try it. So far it's worked twice of the 5 times I've tried it, but I'm gonna keep trying.

5. Total baby timer app. It's for iOS doodads and we have it on both of ours. It keeps track of diaper changes, feedings (and left, right, or bottle with ounces or mLs), sleeping, baths, and "other" plus has a diary feature that you can attach a photo to. It has all kinds of other spaces for noting things like vaccinations, doctors, etc. that I haven't actually used yet.  With the Kid, we kept a log in a notebook, or we tried to. We were generally so sleep deprived that we had a hard time remembering to note the time or couldn't find a pencil to write with anyway (even with a pen stuck in the notebook's spine). It wasn't pretty. We worried when things weren't recorded properly that she wasn't eating enough or having enough wet diapers. If you don't have a smart phone, totally get one of those Itzbeen timers. Invaluable peace of mind, having a doodad keeping track of how long since you cared for the baby last.

6. Swaddling from day 1, more tightly than you'd think. We use the Swaddle.Me wearable blankets, fleece ones with the Kid because that was her comfort level and the cotton ones with Little Monster, to immobilize arms. We then add a blanket tucked around the feet to limit kicking. We waited a bit with the Kid because we weren't sure she liked swaddling, but as it turned out, she didn't like sleeping or laying down and actually adored the swaddling. Why do we swaddle? Because it keeps the baby asleep and happy for more than 5 minutes at a time. Is it the best thing? No idea. It's the best for us because it convinces the baby to sleep and that's crucial.

7. Sleeping in shifts. We have nights split so the spouse retrieves Little Monster when she wakes, changes her, then hands her over to me to nurse. I stay asleep until the diaper change is in process, and the spouse goes back to sleep once the feeding starts. Depending on if she's asleep afterward or if she wants to be held and rocked, we may switch off again. We discovered that this division of labor keeps everyone less sleep deprived or at least evenly sleep deprived, so we are happier. Should we have a colicky baby at some point (or not! Not is fine too!), we would split up the night into 2-3 hour shifts of baby amusing while the other person sleeps so we all maintain some sanity.

8. Changing the baby at night in our room. That seems really obvious but we had this fancy nursery set up before (ahem... and we will have a space set up for Little Monster sometime soon... but not yet) so it seemed like we should at least use it to change the baby. Mistake! Walking down the hall with a grumpy baby at night is more effort than necessary, so we shouldn't have been doing it. Now we have a portable changing pad that gets laid out on the bed. Saves 2 minutes of walking at least, and every minute of sleep is an important one.