Monday, February 17, 2014

Elizabeth's Firsts this month

1st time making chores go by faster: she emptied the dishwasher of everything plastic and got it all on the right shelves in the pantry, then passed me silverware to put away. She also climbed head first into the laundry basket and tossed out clothes faster than I could sort them into piles - and didn't scatter the existing piles once. Then she turned on the washing machine for me. She didn't get the temperature settings right though - maybe next time. 

1st total meltdown in the grocery store: The day before Valentine's Day, I had to run in to get snacks for her class party and thought it would be nice to let her help me pick things out. Upon being told that we didn't need a grocery cart, she fling herself down on her face in front of the florist stand and started screaming. She didn't stop until a nice clerk gave her a free chocolate covered strawberry. Then she did it AGAIN in the goldfish aisle. I'm pretty sure she ate half a bag of goldfish before we got out of the store. But her valentines were cute :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Conflict on the playground

I thought my biggest worry with Elizabeth, for the moment, was going to be teaching her not to hit, pinch, and pull hair. She does all three of these - a lot. She actually came home from school on Thursday  this week with a nasty bruise from a bite - her teacher obviously didn't tell me who did it, but did let me know that Elizabeth had been pulling hair and pinching faces all day, so it may have been provoked. So I thought we just needed to teach her to stop hurting her friends (and us) and that would be that. If only ...

Today, while Elizabeth was playing on the playground equipment at Central Market, I discovered a new problem. A little 2-year-old girl took a liking to Elizabeth and followed her around trying to hug her and pet her arm and play with her hair. All perfectly innocent, except that Elizabeth doesn't like being touched (or talked to, really) by strangers, of any age. She'll say hi from the safety of my arms (if she's approached carefully and without too much fanfare), but otherwise she usually just stares people down who want to talk to her or touch her. 

That's what she did today. This girl kept following her, and Elizabeth kept edging away until, not wanting to look like a jerk of a mom since the other girl's mom was right there, I said, "Elizabeth can you give her a hug?" She very nicely complied, then tried to get back to playing - but the other little girl wouldn't leave her alone. Finally, when the other girl tried to play with her hair, Elizabeth had enough and slapped her in the arm. I had to say "no, we don't hit," and apologize to the other mom, but really, I was cheering that Elizabeth had stood up for herself and knocked the other girl away. 

So here's the worry. I don't want to raise Elizabeth to be anti-social, anti-touch - but at the same time, I want to teach her about personal space and respecting her own and others' boundaries - which is obviously hard when parents encourage their kids to keep chasing mine down for that hug. So what's the solution? How do you raise a toddler with limited reasoning ability to be able to reject interaction with others when they want, without just being rude? 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Being a working mom ...

I've recently been thinking about my choice to continue pursuing my career. Several people have asked me if I wouldn't rather stay home, or whether I feel selfish working when I don't have to, or imply that I must live for the summer when I get to keep Elizabeth with me at home. One, when I told her I'd be traveling for work this summer, looked knowingly at another woman and said, "I guess that's the new mother," as if I couldn't be expected to know any better.

In answer to those questions, no. No, I wouldn't rather stay home. No, I don't feel selfish for pursuing a career that I love, while my daughter is having a great time playing under the care of her amazing teachers. No, I don't live for the summer - in fact, I hate to admit it, but as much as I do look forward to taking Elizabeth to the zoo and playing in the pool with her this summer, I also am quite anxious about having to entertain her for twelve hours a day (ten if you don't count her nap time). I may take advantage of her daycare's summer drop-in program that allows me to buy 5 days that I can spread out over the summer and leave her with them every now and then and do something by myself.

I have an amazing husband who not only supports my desire to work, but actively encourages it and makes it easier. He either makes dinner or does the dishes every night, entertains Elizabeth after dinner and before bed in the evenings, doesn't complain when the house isn't perfectly clean all the day (or anywhere close), takes days off when she's sick and I really can't miss work, and NEVER makes me feel guilty for the decision that we made together to put Elizabeth in daycare and allow me work. This week and next, he's actually playing the single dad so that I can pursue my passion, training teachers for NMSI, and helping them to develop strategies to teach students to think, read and write critically and independently. I'm in Tennessee this week, and headed to Colorado next week.

Do I miss Elizabeth? Absolutely. Do I wish that I could have a career and spend at least a little more time with her? Sure. I check in on her several times a day via online closed circuit camera, FaceTime with her at night while I'm out of town (she's really good at responding on FaceTime - she waves and says hi, then smiles and tries to reach me through the phone), and really miss her when I get up in the morning and don't see her. But that's my problem. She won't remember ten years from now that I was out of town a few days when she was one. She gets excited about going to school in the mornings, and is actually less grouchy mid-morning when she's there, surrounded by friends and things to do, than she is at home playing with me.

I have an amazing, well-adjusted daughter who loves to play both with me and her dad and by herself, who learned to sing "Row, Row, Row" months ago, and who can currently insert the "E-I-E-I-O" in the appropriate spots in Old MacDonald (mostly). She walks, and eats well, and sleeps all night, and finger-paints, and colors, and plays well with others (except her cousin, who she likes to push over after stealing his toys) ... the list could go on and on. She's awesome, and I'm a working mom. I think the arrangement is just fine.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Praying for Parents in Oklahoma

As I was putting Elizabeth to bed tonight, I began to say her prayers with her just like we do every night. We started by thanking God for the rain, and that Elizabeth had had a good day today. Then we thanked God for Mom and Dad's good days, and asked God to help Elizabeth sleep well tonight - to keep her teeth from bothering her, and to help her ears be healthy.

And then we added an extra line that doesn't usually go in our bedtime prayer (yes, the ears make it in every night) - we asked God to be with the parents in Moore who had lost their children yesterday - and that's as far as I got. As hard as I tried, I couldn't think of how specifically to pray for them. I don't know what they need right now, other than God's presence. I can't imagine going through what they are going through today. I don't know what I'd do if it were Elizabeth who had been killed in the tornado yesterday, or what I would expect God to do.

So we left it at that - "God, be with the parents in Moore tonight, and ... I don't know what else to say, but just be with them." And I felt tears come into my eyes as I said that, and gave Elizabeth an extra kiss on the forehead before I laid her down in her crib.

Monday, April 22, 2013

How hard can it be to feed a baby?

I never realized how difficult it can be to figure out what to feed a baby every day, especially one who is lactose intolerant and allergic to cinnamon. It was easier when she did purees - her favorite was Moroccan-spiced lentils with roasted eggplant - and I could just food process a big batch, freeze it, and pull out a couple cubes for dinner, along with some yogurt, cereal and fruit. We noticed a couple weeks ago though, that she was refusing to eat most of her meals, and then having a HUGE bottle of formula before bed (she did 14 ounces one night), so we decided to switch her over to finger foods. She immediately got excited about eating again, but her tastes are more discriminating now.

Yesterday she would only eat her lactose-free cheese and soy yogurt. Nothing else. We even bought a box of Cheerios to give her, since she loves eating them at school. She threw them at us, one at a time, cackling maniacally.

The meal planning gets a little crazy sometimes. I have to get the menus from school, then figure out what she can and can't eat (the lactose intolerance makes it tricky) and then decide what to send her to make sure she has at least 2 fruits and 2 vegetables during the day, along with her cheese snack. And that's not even considering dinner. Since I don't get her home until about 5:00 most days, I don't make dinner before it's time for her to eat at 5:30 (hah, I don't really make dinner at all - Ryan's a much better cook than I am). So I have to find something healthy that she's willing to eat, and then remember when we eat dinner to save a few bites of anything baby-friendly that we have.

So, I've decided to start menu planning for her, just like we do for ourselves. Here's the menu for tomorrow:

Breakfast - fresh orange slices, cheerios
Lunch - chicken nuggets, green beans, pineapple, peas & carrots
Snack - oatmeal cookie, cheese
Dinner - soy yogurt, roasted zucchini, pancake

Now if only I could figure out how to get her to actually get the food into her mouth instead of dropping it into the high chair, onto the floor, or into her hair. Oh well - one step at a time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sweet smile

Tonight Ryan came to get Elizabeth after her bath, all wrapped up in her towel and sweet-smelling, just like every night. As I handed her to him, my squirming, kicking daughter became very still and just laid back in his arms, looked up at her dad, and smiled.

The stillness only lasted about fifteen seconds, but the love that I was able to see the two of them share will last much, much longer.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Getting tubes

You may or may not know that Elizabeth has basically been sick since I started back to work. She got a cold the weekend before I started (November 9, to be exact) and has not had more than about 10 days of feeling well since. She's had two stomach bugs, a couple sinus infections, croup, bronchiolitis, and 4-5 ear infections. The worst of it has been the ear infections. Every time she gets a cold it turns into an ear infection, which leads to antibiotics, which leads to diarrhea, which leads to a terrible diaper rash - and this all comes with a serious sleeping problem. I say four or five ear infections because we're never quite sure if they go away and she gets new ones, or if it's just the same infection continuing on. With the most recent ear infection, she took a basic antibiotic followed by a stronger antibiotic followed by antibiotic shots followed by another strong antibiotic - and then 5 days later started the strong antibiotic again.

Fortunately, in the midst of this last ear infection cycle, we took her to the ENT and got her scheduled to get tubes. It was honestly one of the easiest parenting decisions we've made. Life was miserable with her being constantly sick, I was almost out of sick days at work (I have one left) and she was using way more than her fair share of antibiotics and contributing the drug-resistant strains of bacteria causing so much concern in the medical world.

So on the Thursday of Spring Break, I took her in for tubes. Ryan was still at his conference in San Antonio, so I got to take her alone and text him every half hour or so with updates. Our day started off at 6 am. Elizabeth had been wheezing for a few weeks, the residual effects of her bronchiolitis, so she was taking an inhaled steroid twice a day, along with Albuterol as needed. They wouldn't do the surgery if she was wheezing that morning, because of concerns about the general anesthesia, so I had to do her breathing treatments before we headed to the hospital. Elizabeth was a little confused about why she was up so early. Here she is on the way to the hospital, still dark outside.

When we got there, she enjoyed watching the fish in the aquarium. I love that almost all pediatric offices have aquariums.

Once we got back to the pre-op area, we had almost an hour to wait, so Elizabeth passed the time by first chewing the cover off one of her books, then wandering around to the other families waiting to be taken back. She especially liked one family with a three-year-old red-headed girl. Elizabeth kept walking me over to them and babbling at them. She ended up walking right up the dad and putting her arms up to be picked up. He held her in his lap for a few minutes and she loved it, babbling at him, his wife, and both the kids with them. Once they left, she took me over to another family with a boy about her age. He had thick curly black hair, her favorite kind to pull, so our visit with them didn't last very long :-/ Here she is with her book, and her hospital bracelet.

Once she got taken back, it was over very quickly. From the time they started, to when they came to get me, only about 7 minutes passed. I got to see her earlier than they'd said I would because when they gave her ibuprofen when they finished, she thought it was food and remembered that she hadn't eaten breakfast yet. She was half-awake and crying when I got to her, and didn't settle down until she was eating.

Her ENT told me that they had found some VERY thick fluid behind her ear drums, more of a paste than a fluid, which was what had been causing the persistent infections. Without tubes, she wouldn't have gotten better - nice to know we made the right call.

We were able to go home about 30 minutes after her surgery. Aside from some marks on her face from the mask they'd used to put her under, she was just fine. Here she is on the way home, just looking a little worn out:

For the rest of the day, you wouldn't even know she'd been through surgery. She played with her toys, napped and ate normally, and at bedtime, went right to sleep.

She'd definitely acquired some bad habits from the months of being sick. She'd been waking up for an hour or two at a time every night, and eating once and sometimes twice in the middle of the night. It took almost two weeks to get her sleeping through the night again, after she started feeling better.

Now though, she's sleeping better than ever - from 7 pm to 7 am - and hasn't been sick in 3 weeks, except for some allergy sniffles. I've stopped worrying every time she sneezes that she's getting a cold that will lead to an ear infection.

It seems like every phase is SO long with babies. When she was sick, it felt like she'd always been sick, even though it was only for about 3 and a half months. And now that she's healthy, I hardly remember the sleepless nights worrying about her. It feels like the sleeping and relaxing at night is the most normal thing in the world. I know it probably won't last, but it sure is nice for now.