Thursday, October 28, 2010

Keeping Up with the Jones (es)

Wow, I just fully understood the title for the Kardashians' show... ew.

ANYway, today has been one of those days. I realized while getting ready quickly (Ben asleep in swing for 15 minutes!) that I didn't fully rinse out my conditioner and my hair looks greasy. I discovered flecks of baby poop all over the wipe warmer (and finally cleaned them off), the cat pooped downstairs in a corner. The fan is in the way of me quickly putting away TV trays and I keep forgetting to recycle the coke can that I just rediscovered sitting on a side table as I write this. I did the dishes and wiped down some of the kitchen, but the house still looks like a wreck for some reason. I finally cleaned the toilet in the downstairs bathroom (just squirted some cleaner around the bowl and came back later to flush it down- I almost did it with a baby on one arm, but thought better of it with all the bleachy fumes.) But forget enjoying that effect, as there is a dirty diaper cover sitting on the counter waiting to be washed. Lovely.

I am musing over all of this because I might have some girlfriends come over. Fellow mommies, thank God, who will totally understand my situation, but they both have beautiful homes, that are always clean when I visit them. I love home decorating and design, and I love seeing what other people do with their furniture and spaces. That being said, I don't spend a lot of money or take really any time to sit down and decorate my house. It drives my BF Kelly crazy, as she knows I have had the time in the past, and her home is spectacular. She really enjoys actually doing it- the construction, the painting, the detailing. I just like to buy things, pick out colors and pay other people to do the rest. Which of course costs more. And I am privy to her price tag for that kind of gorgeous shiny perfection and I definitely cannot afford it. I limit my creativity (for now) to scrapbooking. I buy a piece of furniture every couple of years. Finally all my wood furniture is the same color! (after 5 years). I plan on keeping our couches for much longer than they will be pretty for. I like my stuff, and I am happy in my home. But it would incredible if I could sit down and pay the money to design and execute a room from start to finish. And that would be a blast! (If I could pay someone to do the painting and hauling).

I was trying to remind myself of what my reasons are for having a mediocre decorating scheme. And not cleaning more. What is important to me? Why don't I invest the time and money? Well I don't invest the time and money because I don't want to yell at my kids (and especially not someone else's kids) when they inevitably spill red juice on it. I don't want to cringe and hear the cha-ching sound echo in my head when the cats scratch it. When it gets flecks of baby poop on it and the paint comes off when I clean it. In other words, we are entering into a break everything, spill everything, stand on everything phase of life and I think its worth it to slow my roll when it comes to bringing nice stuff into the house. Now, that being said, Kelly and my other friends do a great job of making their houses durable, comfortable and inviting. But I would rather spend the money on the extras when the kids hit high school. I want to do it in a house more permanent, where I know we will be for a good decade plus. I want to get deep in it, and enjoy it. Set aside money and make it really what I want, and enjoy it for years and years.

What is important to me? Well, I've decided that more than I want to be a stylish family, more than I want to be a family with a clean, shiny and organized house... I want to be the kind of family that has fun. I want to take that time and play. I want to go places, take pictures, make memories. I want to laugh it off when stuff breaks, use our flatware as toys, turn our living room into a fort and eat pickles and chicken nuggets when I forget to go grocery shopping. I want to become a good cook! Not a fancy cook, but make healthy, basic meals that taste good, and make them over and over again. I want to have all my time to focus on holidays, birthdays, homework, back to school night and playdates. I want to have enough energy to say "yes" when my kids ask me to drive them to a friend's house, or take them to the local pool. I want to stop and hear my kids, instead of being stressed out about completing my to-do list and trying to give them just a quick fix. Maybe someday I will be skilled at doing all these things and keeping the house clean and beautiful, but I want these things to come first. I want to be it all, have it all, do it all. Isn't that what we are told is possible? What we are told we "should" be doing? I can't clean my house, spend time with my family and be cooking an elaborate meal all at the same time. I have to remind myself often that what I label a "good use" of my time is my decision, and only mine. If it starts to be about what I think other people might think, I will become only a stress case, and not good at anything that I want to do.

This is me reminding myself. I hope you all are taking time to play, too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ladies Love Cool Ben (LL Cool B)

Yesterday we went around the corner to a new friend's house and had lunch and a playdate! It was great. Ben was very happy for most of the afternoon, and it was so neat to see all the babies together, all around the same age. The girls patted his head and face and wrapped their arms around his arms and he was fine with it. He looked a little surprised every time he got a little hand to the face, but he just hung out. He reminded me a lot of how Scott used to run his game. He would stand aside, by himself, quietly scanning the room, and somehow a girl or two would just start talking to him. He wouldn't even look surprised. What I call antisocial, he calls "technique". Apparently it is handed down genetically. Also genetic: Scott's inner heater. We all sat around in pants and t-shirts, and Ben fussed his way all the way down to a diaper before he was finally happy. Like his Dad, he just wants to lounge around with his shirt off, otherwise he overheats. I find it extremely amusing (except during the time it takes me to figure out what the problem is).

He loved all of Elana's stuff (she is on the left) and Cindy (her mama) is even using the same cloth diaper service that we are. We gabbed about how much we love the service (Central Coast Diaper Service) and the lady that runs it (Monica). So now that we have been using cloth for almost two months (even on one road trip) I thought I would do a little blog about how we do cloth. Be-caaaaause, there are a ton of ways to do it. It can actually be insanely overwhelming. We do the easiest, most straightforward version and I was so intimidated when Monica came to do a demo! She even looked at me like, "are you gonna be okay?" I must have gone pale a little when she showed me how to fold them.

Okay, so- she drops off a big bag of prefolds on Thursday. Squares of fluffy white cotton. Altogether we pay for 70 a week ($20), but some of them are at our house and some of them getting cleaned. So, while I am watching TV, I fold them, usually a day or even two later. Its no rush we have plenty of diapers. Scott will do it, too. Whoever has the time and finds two hands free in the living room. It goes really fast, actually, I thought it would be more time consuming but its really not.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Road = 1.... Me = 0

Ya... so that didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Main problems?

1. Since I was alone, I had to travel during the day, when Ben eats the most often.
2. It takes me about 30 minutes to feed him. Add in a diaper change and trip to the bathroom, and thats about an hour per stop. Counting from the beginning of each feeding, that means an hour until we have to stop again to eat.
3. If you do the math from the first two, you can understand why a 3 hour trip took us 6. Each way. Well, toward the end, the kid just didn't want to be stuck strapped to that seat anymore. Can't say I blame him.


1. Cloth diapers rock and were very easy. Just as easy as the disposables, except bigger of course.
2. When we did stop, Ben was so cooperative with my learning curve. He was wonderful while I stood in lines and put him into awkward positions to change his diaper.
3. Once my sister arrived, the relief was immediate. I went from utter exhaustion to feeling like I could finish the day after all.

On the way down, he was great. He slept for the first hour and a half, I stopped to feed and change him, and everything went off without a hitch. We got all the way down into LA, with him sound asleep. And right as the 405 was meeting the 101, in like 7 lanes of stop and go traffic, I think to myself- this would be the one place where it would be super hard to pull over- and pow!
Ben starts wailing like someone stuck him with a pin. Completely out of nowhere, just working his lungs for all he is worth! I reach back with one hand and pet his head, singing loudly. I am trying to figure out how to get off the freeway (to go where?) and a CHP officer pulls up just to my right, so I have to be extra careful. I somehow get off the freeway, with Ben still screaming, higher and louder than I thought possible. Immediately off the exit I peel into a carwash that I happen to catch sight of.
I park awkwardly off to the side, jump in the back and lock all the doors. As I am bouncing and rocking Ben, (when I still can't calm him, I lay him on my lap and whip off his diaper, putting on a clean one) I am looking around at where we are. It starts to rain, and a burrito truck pulls up near me. A van pulls in and parks right to my left. It looks like they are in line for the car wash, but there is no one in there, since of course, its raining. I am just praying that nobody approaches my car.
Finally Ben quiets and looks tired and peaceful. I set him in the car seat and pull the straps around him. One piece just will not line up and fit into the other. It appears as if it has been put on backwards. But I just got him out of the seat! I figured I must be frazzled from the screaming. I take a deep breath, and try again. And again. And again! Finally there seems to be no other option but to fold the strap in half and try to twist this piece around. By this time Ben's patience is wearing thin. I laugh to myself and tell him, "Someday, kid, I am going to tell you about this trip, and you will laugh. And hopefully so will I". It takes me two hands to muscle the buckle. How did it get flipped? I will never know.
Once we arrive he is extremely cranky. I feed him, but he cannot settle down. He has been fussy anyway, and he really put on a show for Nana. She can't hear well, so every time I would have to answer a question, he would startle and get upset again. She also asked repeatedly if there was something wrong. I explained that he is a little bit fussy in the afternoons, that he just has a little colic, nothing to be concerned about. It was draining. By the evening I could feel my face had fallen, I could barely hold my eyes open. Then Stephanie arrived! Ah what a relief.

Then things were calmer, and easier. Ben was still fussy, but I went upstairs to change and feed him, like we do at home, just the two of us, and that quieted him down quite a bit. He was content to play in his carseat, with ribbons that Nana tied to the top. He loved them and stared and batted at them for hours. We took Ben over to the neighbor's house, where Nana has an evening "Happy Hour" every night in the garage. Her friends oohed and aahed and she got to show him off with bright pride. It was worth it. Barely worth it- but still. She is eighty-nine in just some days and who knows how much time with her we have left. I took out the video camera, and walked through the house, documenting as well as I could the accomplishments and precious belongings that hung on the walls. I want us all to remember that house. They built a beautiful life together, my grandparents. They valued hard work, community service, family and history. I hope those values pass down to the generations that follow them.
I planned to leave early, after Ben's first feeding. Getting everything together had me staying up a little later than usual, after finally getting Ben to sleep. He woke up at 5:30 to eat, and I was feeling pretty well organized, when he blew out his diaper in the middle of his meal! I had to stop everything, change him completely, rinse out his diaper cover and finish feeding him, which added on some extra time. And, poop got all over the breastfeeding pillow, too, so I had to clean that off. We finally left at 7am, which put us right in the middle of rush hour. But what was I going to do? I had to get on the road, we weren't going to get home any sooner sitting around. It took us three hours to get out of the LA area, with two planned stops to change and eat. He eventually threw a fit near Goleta and I had to pull over and comfort him. When he had calmed down, we pulled back out on the road, and five minutes later he was screaming again. We were a little over an hour from home, and what he clearly wanted was to be there, so I had to keep on. It was heartbreaking to listen to him scream, although I stroked his temples and sang to him as loudly as I could. It was quite awhile but he cried himself to sleep. I nearly cried, too.
We made it home and I was beat down. I emptied what I could and laid down with him, and when Scott got home he finished unloading the car, and took care of him so I could take a long shower. That pretty much fixed all that needed to be fixed. But definitely next time, we will have to make some changes, although I think it will still be really hard. We will try to travel when he is about to go down to sleep, around seven, because thats when he sleeps the longest. I am considering how I can carry a bottle or two of breastmilk with us. Other than that, lots of prayer, I guess!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Headed to LA and Terrified...

I really wanted my first trip to be at Thanksgiving, where basically Scott would be able to load, haul and unload for me, and I would just have to weather the car ride. I love him. But, that is not to be. We have enough trips north and south lined up all the way into February and I promised my Nana, who is gaining on 90 now, that she would be able to hold her newborn great-grandson. Her very first. Newborn, being the key word there. I know it will change her world and add a check to her bucket list and that matters so much to me that I am packing up the car by myself and taking Ben through LA traffic to see her. On Wednesday. Scott will be staying here to work. My Grandad passed away a year ago September, and their wedding anniversary would have been this Friday. She said that Ben's birth and this visit are keeping her spirits up during what might have been a darker time of year. I can't wait to see her face when she sees Ben! But why haven't we developed an instant travel device yet?

Just an update- I have been feeling better (read: not critical). But by no means am I normal, unfortunately. If I stay on my feet for too long I get more pain and swelling. The doctor said I wouldn't start feeling normal until 8 weeks though, so I'm just trying to relax and be patient. So, hoping that this trip goes really smoothly. I'll be bringing food, so Scott did some chopping for me tonight. To prepare, I've been trying to stay on top of medications and stuff like that. I plan on driving straight there, sitting or laying down the whole time, and then driving back :) Bonus- I get to see my sister!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Okay! Back on Track!

Feeling better for the first time today! Called and cancelled my doctor appointment, I was so terrified of that procedure, I  really don't want to do it. I am hoping that I will continue to heal back up, and this time I am going to make a concerted effort to take it easy. My doctor did say it would take about eight weeks to recover, and he wasn't kidding. I really want to conquer the world with my baby! Walk around downtown, meet people for lunch, get exercise... that just isn't meant to be right now. And Ben seems to be sending me the same message. He has been so easily overstimulated lately! Today we had to swaddle him tightly to get him to calm down and eat, and as long as we took things quietly and slowly, he has been an angel ever since. It may be the key to the colic. Its tough because I don't want to be this super careful parent, whispering and tip toe-ing around my child- but if quiet and calm is what he needs to stop screaming all the time, then thats what I need to do. It has nothing to do with being high strung, its just what he is telling me that he needs. And I guess thats right in line with me taking it easy, too. I just miss the outside world!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Still Not Better...

Ben is still fussy when he is awake, but he has been sleeping four hour stretches at night, its fabulous! I am still in a lot of pain and its not getting better. I called my OB and he wants to bring me in for an exam. This type of an exam- I have had it before, years ago. At the time, the pain was so bad Scott could hear my screaming from the lobby. Labor came close, but I had the epidural before it got that bad. The doctor says if I can't handle it they may have to sedate me to do it, but that he can't help me until he takes a thorough look at my injuries. I have an appointment tomorrow morning, and I am extremely scared and upset...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sick Mom, Colicky Baby, SUPER Hot Weather

Basically, I can't believe Scott hasn't run away yet. My injuries from the birth flared up again Thursday night- and again, and again, and again... I am on lots of medications and ice packs and staying off my feet to try to get better fast, and every night I start to feel better... and then every morning I am in pain again. Its awful. So, when Ben became unusually fussy with Scott on Thursday night (who was wonderful enough to call in to the office and get up for all the diaper changes) I just thought it was that his routine had been disturbed, or he was being affected by how much pain I was in when he was nursing.

But then, come the early morning hours, I remember asking Scott, "What is going on with him?" The next day it continued- he wouldn't sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time, and he would wake up just wailing, like someone had stuck him with a pin. We took turns bouncing, shushing, singing (humming in Scott's case)... all the while Scott is running up and down the stairs to bring me medicine, water and food. It was a circus. When the baby was asleep we would be all but speaking in meaningful glances and hand motions, terrified to wake him up again. I would lay next to Ben, whispering in his ear, replacing his pacifier and he had my hand clutched in his, pressed up against his little cheek. That would calm him for about fifteen minutes, then he would be wailing again for awhile. Finally that night, I called the pediatrician's office. I just wanted to make sure I was doing all I could for him. Well, based on his on and off again pain, the nurse wanted us to go to the hospital, to rule out an intestinal "knot" or bend or something. They told us that based on his age, appearance, and rectal exam (which he didn't mind at all, but pooped explosively and startled the doctor, which was very amusing) that it was extremely unlikely. He was already calming down when we got there, and he ended up sleeping great all night. I assume he wore himself out completely. Basically, he has colic. I just think colic is a fancy name for painful gas. Plus, it has been incredibly hot at home lately and we are all more than a little unhappy with that.

We have been doing some pretty amusing stuff to keep him happy. Both hands and arms are usually busy bouncing, swinging and patting him. Its the little things- that hair that won't stay back or an itchy nose- that will drive you nuts. If you spare a hand to fix it, you will inevitably invite the wrath of Ben. Its a balancing act. I just wish I could get better already!!!!!! The doctor said two months. So, I am giving him three more weeks and if my stitches haven't stopped killing me every single day at that point, I am going to hold a sit-in at his office.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Four Weeks!

We made it. Alive. Here's some fun we were having last night: