Friday, November 28, 2008

So much food and family time

After hours of cooking and baking, with full stomachs we called our Thanksgiving dinner a success. Every dish was so good and nothing was a disaster (except for the pie because I didn't buy enough pudding, but it still tasted great - just not as firm as it should have been). We were going to eat early, but Bill put the turkey in the oven not realizing that it had automatically shut off after I made the muffins. It sat in there for hours before we knew it wasn't cooking. So, dinner was delayed and thankfully, we don't have salmonella poisoning.

It was really nice to have all of us sitting at the table eating Thanksgiving dinner together. Logan loved his cranberry sauce and talked about it all night. Carter was content to sit in his bouncer at the table with all of us (poor kid had to miss out on the deliciousness. Hopefully he got a second hand taste) and Bill and I inhaled our dinner like it was our last meal. I was really proud of our cooking skills and that everything was made from scratch (the stuffing was my favorite).

We had a nice time together as a family with leftovers to last us for a while. Yum!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008


There are so many things that I'm thankful for this year...
  • We found a nice house big enough for all of us
  • I was able to endure another pregnancy and was able to acquire the zofran that I needed
  • I have friends willing to lend a helping hand when I need one
  • Our marriage survived the challenges of the pregnancy complications and grew to be even closer in the end
  • We won our case against the insurance company and all of our money was returned back to us
  • Bill has a wonderful job that gave him a couple of promotions and it allows me to continue to stay at home
  • Logan's speech development caught up quickly
  • I belong to a great MOMS Club chapter where both Logan and I have found awesome friends
  • Carter was born healthy when it could have easily been a tragedy
  • Logan is potty trained
  • We never go hungry and we have the essentials we need
  • I've been able to barter for luxuries that we wouldn't be able to afford otherwise (photography, childcare, house cleaning)
  • We did fun things: trips to the zoo, preschool prep classes, Date Nights, etc.
  • We are all safe, healthy, well taken care of and happy.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The menu

This is definitely not the time to start a diet. I wrote up our menu for tomorrow and it's only for us - no guests. We're going to have leftovers for eternity, which isn't all that bad the more that I think about it. I start cooking tonight and continue with the rest tomorrow. Crazy! Two days of cooking! It better be the best Thanksgiving dinner we've ever had.

Tonight I start making the Cranberry Harvest muffins for our brunch. I'm making them differently than this recipe: egg-free, with pecans or almonds, no figs and a lower fat milk. We'll see how they turn out.

Then tomorrow Bill is making the turkey and gravy (he does an excellent job) and per his request, Stove Top stuffing. I'm making the mashed potatoes, baked sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mushrooms and spinach and the pumpkin pie (thanks for the recipe Catherine!). So, yeah. That's a lot of food and we're going to try and do it for under $20. We'll see how that goes!

I hope every one's meals turn out to be delicious!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hair today, gone tomorrow

It's been quite some time since Logan had a haircut. He was getting this fro-mop-shag style going on and it was driving me crazy. I wasn't too impressed with his last hair cut at the kids' salon and I wasn't thrilled with the $20 charge that goes along with it. However, Bill had been banned from giving our kids anymore haircuts since Logan's bald-boy cut (remember that one!?). Well, he had been trying to convince me that if we got a new set of clippers he would be able to do a better job. While shopping last week we found a color coded set that pretty much guaranteed a dummy-proof cut. So, we bought it.

Over the weekend Bill sat Logan in the kitchen chair and began testing out the different color/length guides. There was hair everywhere! Logan had a great time telling Bill what color guard to use next making it a family effort. Once we figured out the right lengths, Bill cleaned it up a bit. By this point Logan was getting restless and wiggling around. He was starting to whine and made the mistake of not keeping his mouth shut. "I need to go to the Doctor! I got hair in my mouth!", he screamed while spitting. That was seriously the funniest thing I've head in a while.

Bill did a pretty good job. Not exactly salon quality (from the good stylist, Bill's cut was much better than the crappy stylist), but it was pretty close and it worked. In that one cut, the clippers paid for themselves and now that Logan's hair is short, the next cut should be easier to style and maintain. This is one of the good things about having boys - home haircuts are easier to do and if all else fails, you can always shave their heads.

Fro-mop-shag a la' bed head

Bill's barbering skills

GQ cover pose

Monday, November 24, 2008

Equal but not the same

Parents with more than one child will often say how their love for each kid is the same. That is one of the biggest fallacies of parenthood. Anyone who tells you differently is lying not only to you, but themselves. The love a parent has for their children is not equal at all. Children have different personalities. They are different people. Thus, I love my children differently.

First, let me preface this by saying that "differently", "not the same" and "not equal" do not mean more or less. I do not have a favorite and I do not love one son more or less than the other. But, my love for Logan is completely different than my love for Carter. I'm positive that it's this way in every home with every parent, but it's an unspoken topic for fear that it may be interpreted in the wrong way. I think it's something that needs to be brought to the surface as many mothers expecting their second baby are uneasy about this transition and often worry about the possibility of having a different love. It's nothing to be afraid of. In fact, that different love is special and shared only with each child it's intended for.

I started to notice the difference in my love for my boys when Carter was only a few weeks old. I would often reflect on my newborn experience with Logan and felt like the second go around was completely different. It was different not just because I had more experience or more confidence, but there was a different feeling of love. It continued as the weeks went on until I realized that it wasn't going to change, that this is the difference in love.

My love for Logan can be described in many ways; Intense, fresh, new, fascinating, consuming, exciting, among many other descriptions. I liken the love of a first born child to that of a first boyfriend or girlfriend. You are almost obsessed with it. That love changes your life. I'm sure that the type of love that I share with Logan is reflective of his personality and the stage of motherhood I was in at his birth. If I had to choose a holiday that best describes my love for Logan, it would be Independence Day with it's fireworks, summer heat, picnics and it's intensity or New Years Day with it's parties, anticipation and hope for the future.

My love for Carter can be described differently; Mature, comforting, familiar, relaxed, snug and the like. My love for Carter feels like we've known each other before and we've been reunited. Or almost like he's an old soul. There is definitely a feeling of Deja vu, but on a deeper level. Again, it may be reflective of both his personality and the place I'm at in motherhood. For Carter, the holidays that best describe my love are Thanksgiving with it's warm fireplaces, delicious foods like mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, and it's familiar feeling or Valentine's Day with it's sweetness, adoration and celebration.

Is one holiday better than the other? No way. I don't want to think about how the joys of my life would be without fireworks or pumpkin pie. Each holiday brings with it something special that makes the year complete. Just like how both Logan and Carter add something special to our family that makes us feel full. I'm also at peace knowing that my love is in fact different. It makes each individual relationship special in it's own way. I love knowing that Logan and I share a bond different than the one I have with Carter and vise-versa. I'm happy that I love my boys differently.

Friday, November 21, 2008

So that's where our mail went

Another great aspect of being members of our MOMS club chapter is the educational activities that we schedule for our kids. We try to make sure we tour a local business every month. Last month was a pizza shop where the kids learned how to make a pizza. Then they all ate their own pizzas afterward. We had to skip out because of Logan's garlic allergy (how mean would that be to go & then tell him he couldn't eat it). Other tours that we've scheduled have been at a doughnut shop, the airport, a pet shop and this morning we went to the post office.

Logan is at the age where he is curious about how things work and he really understands the age appropriate explanation. He also really enjoys getting the mail from our mailbox every day or so, so I thought he would get a kick out of learning about how our mail actually gets there. And he did!

We started out in the lobby where the postal worker talked to the kids about PO Boxes. She was great because she explained every aspect and process in a way that preschoolers could easily understand. It was perfect. After touring the lobby and talking about stamps, parcels and how people drop off their mail, we went into the back to see the behind the scenes action of the post office. The kids saw first hand what happens to our mail after we drop it in the mailbox. They saw how they canceled out the stamp and watched the letters fly through the sorter to it's specific mail carrier (which was really kind of cool - especially when we were told that this machine often starts fires when the mail gets stuck in it). They saw the semi-trucks that transported mail to different areas and met a few mail men loading up their mail trucks to deliver the mail in town today.

Not only was I impressed with the postal worker and her ability to easily educate our small kids, I was equally as impressed with Logan and all of his friends. Everyone was well behaved and listened intently. There were no tantrums or screaming, no running off, no lectures about listening. They all followed directions and it was a very pleasant experience for everyone. I'm so glad we were able to go!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2 months old and checked out just fine

This morning Carter had his 2 month check-up. My little baby isn't so little anymore! In fact, yesterday at playgroup, one of the moms who just had her second baby a couple of weeks ago made it out since being home from the hospital. We sat next to each other and I kept looking at her baby boy and then at Carter in absolute amazement. Her little baby (who was born at almost nine pounds and much bigger than Carter was at that age) looked so small next to my giant baby in my arms. Carter is no longer a newborn, but a full fledged growing infant.

He checked out just fine at his appointment. He is 23 1/2 inches long (55%), weighs 11 pounds, 3 ounces (25%) and his head is 15 inches around (8%). Just to compare in size, Logan's stats at 2 months: 11.1 lbs (24%), 23 in. (51%), 15 in. circumference (12%). So, they are pretty similar in size at this age -although Carter is already wearing a size bigger (3-6 months clothes) in shirts than Logan was for some odd reason, but he still is in newborn to 0-3 month pants (like Logan was too). Both boys are built exactly like Bill. It's weird.
We talked about his eating habits which are still every 2-3 hours. At night he does have one long stretch of 5-6 hours (usually from 7 or 8pm to 1 or 2am). He doesn't spit up much in volume, but it is pretty frequent (not abnormal). The Doctor ruled out reflux (yea!). He is definitely getting enough to eat since he's growing like a weed.

We talked about his sleeping habits, which are a little unpredictable. He wakes up at 6 or 7am to nurse and goes back to sleep for about an hour. It's a bit interrupted if we have to drive Bill to work. Once we are home, he sleeps some more before we head out the door to do our activities at 10am. He's in and out of consciousness after he nurses again, never really sleeping solidly. Sometimes he's wide awake at this time. We come home for lunch and after nursing again, I put him in his crib for a good afternoon nap. He sleeps for about 30-45 minutes. Only a handful of times have been longer stretches. He has another good stretch of awake time and I try to get him to sleep again before we pick up Bill from work. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. But he's almost always in bed between 7 and 8pm - never later. Once he's in bed, he sleeps well (usually) until he wakes up to eat. Getting him back to sleep in the middle of the night is a bit challenging though. I'm often up three or four more times to get him to relax back to sleep.

He is developing right on track, smiling, cooing, squealing, being social and lifting his head very well. He can track objects and turns his head towards sounds. He seems to be a really social and vocal baby who smiles a lot (so cute!). We have "conversations" together where he is very responsive, he recognizes me and smiles these huge, bright, eye-squinting smiles for me. It's freakin' adorable. he is just beginning to learn about his hands and arms and has started reaching out for some of his toys while in the bouncer (which at first was by accident, but the look on his face was hilarious when he got the connection).

We don't do tummy time nearly as much as we did with Logan, but it's more of a safety issue. With an energetic preschooler running around who tends to be disobedient, Carter is either in my lap or his his swing more than on the floor so he doesn't get trampled over. In the afternoon we do have playtime all together where Carter is on his blanket doing tummy time on the floor and Logan gets to choose what baby toys we play with. He also loves to line up all of his cars along the edge of the blanket so Carter can see them which really helps with Carter's head control. Carter loves this time and is completely infatuated with Logan, carefully watching him and smiling at him.

We also talked about a couple of minor health issues, like his night/morning congestion, which is apparently normal for our climate in Colorado. As long as he can breath while nursing, he's fine. His left tear duct is blocked again, but it's not bad and I may have to continually massage it to re-open it and maintain it for a few months. As long as his eye isn't completely crusted over or swollen red, he's fine. He has a moderate case of eczema, but we've got that under control considering that we've been doing this whole treatment routine with Logan since the beginning of his breakouts.

At the end we talked about vaccinations, which I declined. With Logan's adverse reaction history (that started at his 2 month check-up), I was very wary about them. I truly believe that there's a genetic component in our family that makes us super sensitive and reactive to substances and irritants. Since Carter has the same type of symptoms that Logan had at that age (skin sensitivities, eczema and nasal congestion) I fear that he may be in the same boat with vaccination reactions. I explained this to our pediatrician who understood where I was coming from, but still had to cover her bases and explain why it was important that Carter get vaccinated at an early age (meningitis) and that the adults in the house should get vaccinated for pertussis again (we're not going to). But it wasn't something that I felt pressured into doing and she knew that it wasn't an issue that I was going to change my mind on.

So, Carter is a healthy, happy, growing baby!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

So tired

Babies are hard work. But mostly, they are exhausting. I've never been so tired in all of my life. At least when Logan was a baby I could take a nap when he did. Logan isn't napping anymore, so no naps for me at all. With Carter not sleeping through the night, I'm running on fumes. I told Bill last night that one of these weekends, I really want a sleepathon. I just want to stay in bed and only wake up to nurse Carter, then go back to sleep. For an entire day if not two. I desperately need it.

I'm so sleep deprived that I'm losing my mind. Seriously. Last week at playgroup one of the moms was asking me about places to eat on her drive from my house to a park in the middle of town. I stood there like a moron not recognizing the name of the park. I thought it was an intersection that she was talking about and tried to think of these two streets that I had never heard before. The kicker? We used to live by this park and walked there at least three to four times a week. Yeah. Talk about non-functioning brain cells.

I'm sleep deprived that days blend into each other. If it weren't for our family calender, I wouldn't have the foggiest idea what day it was. I can't concentrate on anything that requires great thought and I'm certainly screwing up our finances. I've had to have Bill take over until I can be more organized. It's a miracle that I can even function as much as I do. I can't wait until Carter is sleeping through the night and I can get my brain back to where it was before.

On that note, last week Shannon nominated me for the "Uber Amazing Blog" award. I'm now just getting to it! Talk about being a slacker. After her nomination, I started reading her blog from the beginning. It's a great blog and her son Gage has quite a story. It's a blog that I will definitely enjoy keeping up with. I'm supposed to nominate five other blogs that are inspiring, funny, informative, enjoyable or well designed but to be frank - that's pretty much everyone linked on my sidebar. Otherwise they wouldn't be there! So, while I'm finishing my second cup of coffee and a diet Mountain Dew, consider yourself awarded. Because you deserve it after reading this.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Martinis, chocolate and gossip

Since becoming parents, Bill and I have been able to figure out a good balance between parenting and our individual social lives. Bill has his disc golf leagues, poker nights, Rock Band with co-workers and various fantasy sports leagues. I have working out at the gym (when I can stay there without a phone call requesting my return to take care of a screaming Carter), Moms Night out , "Unofficial" Moms night out and cooking club. I'm actually pretty impressed that we have this balanced and that we're both happy with the arrangement.

On Friday I went out for Moms Night Out with The Club. Bill and Logan had a party together, eating ice cream and watching Logan's favorite movie. Since Carter is pretty clingy and exclusively nursing, he gets to dress up and tag along with. He's really good while we're out, so it's not an issue at all. There were eight of us that met at a dessert/chocolate bar that I've been dying to go to. It's a VERY small space and since it was a Friday night, it was packed. You could hardly walk between the tables. Add a baby in a carseat carrier and a backpack for a diaper bag and I felt like a bull in a china shop (and I did knock a glass off someones table while leaving).

Photographer friend carpooled with me and with the exception of two ladies, everyone else was a member of Logan's playgroup. We all get along very well and enjoy each other's company. I had a chocolate espresso martini and a slice of bourbon pecan pie with whipped cream. It was delicious! We hung out and chit-chatted about our kids and various other mom-type conversations. It was fun and low-key. A nice night out with friends and a great time for Bill and Logan to spend some quality time together.

Last night was "Unofficial" Moms Night Out. This is a group of four other friends who are currently on the board now or were on the board last year (or both) and this is where the fun really is. Our nights are always interesting with juicy conversations, loud laughter and a time where we can blow off some steam. I always have a fabulous time with these friends (both photographer friend and massage friend are part of this night out) and we stay out so late that we're usually there until the staff start closing up shop.

Last night we met at a new restaurant close to home where I had been looking forward to this dinner for a long time (for many reasons). I had brie stuffed salmon with pesto sauce - so, so, so good. We talked about everything from explosive breast milk, the shocking and disgusting experiences in child birth, what should be called "how not to kill your children" seminars, crazy family members and the stupid things our husbands say and do, among many other things. We're always interested in what the other restaurant patrons seated next to us think. We're guaranteed to get some kind of "look". Oh, the stories from these nights...

Monday, November 17, 2008

A photographer in the making

Whenever a world class athlete, an amazing artist, or someone with a very advanced skill talks about when they started their craft, they usually say they started at age three or four. Athletes start Little League or whatnot, chefs help mom in the kitchen, artists free-color regularly, you get the idea. This weekend Bill had the idea of letting Logan play with one of our old digital cameras. It's an outdated camera (the one we bought before Logan was born) and it has a pretty slow shutter speed, thus why we got a new one. If we were to sell it we probably wouldn't get much, maybe $20. So the idea of letting Logan play with this to see what his creative self would do was brilliant.

Logan took pictures all weekend long. We taught him where the lens was and tried to remind him not to put his finger over it, showed him how to use the LCD view finder and what button to push to take the picture. He went around the house taking pictures of all sorts of things in his daily life. It was pretty interesting to see his point of view and what subjects were interesting enough for him to take a picture of. Needless to say, there are a lot of pictures of Buddha.

I'm going to start a file in our Photobucket account for his pictures (for those of you out there that have the password), but I'll be sure to post any interesting ones here too. Who knows, maybe he'll grow up to be a world famous photographer and here we get to see his very first shots taken at almost three years old.

Tricycle - multiframe

Daddy's eyes


Kitty under the table

Buddha - multiframe

Mommy's Monday Morning Emails

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I'm going off the rails of a crazy train

Just when I don't want to think that things can get any crazier, they do. After Aunt Ju-Ju sent her temper tantrum via email, we hadn't heard anything from Grandma L. I really didn't expect to either. That's just her M.O. Ignore the problem and not face the situation. But, she took a different route this time by sending Bill and Aunt Ju-Ju a manipulative, guilt trip letter on Monday making another attempt to put a wedge between Bill and I to disrupt our family. It's a lengthy letter, so here's the gist of it with some key quotes...

"We, as a family, know that we do things and say things to one another that we may never say to others because as a family our love is unconditional... We are a small family and I would hate to think that things said or done would ever break us apart. However, I feel the strain that these past years have had on our family bond. Yes, it does seem we are walking on eggshells each and every time we are together. I know you are grown-ups with families of your own, but you are still my kids."

"As you both know, I waited to become a grandparent. I would tell my kids at school that the only grandkids I had were the fake babies in Child Development class. However, it seems like our family problems began when I finally did become a grandparent. How could such a joyous situation cause such tension?"

"What do you remember most about your grandparents? Unfortunately you never got to meet my mom. That is one of the greatest sadnesses in my life that she never got to meet you. Just think – she died at the age of 57. I was only 22. Just think of where you were in your lives at age 22. Hopefully you can understand the types of questions I would have loved to be able to ask her... Do either of you ever remember your dad or I setting ground rules for your time with them? No, because we respected them and trusted them with you."

"Now, I need to respond to the email that came last week... If there were problems, why couldn’t you have TALKED with me about them? Since when do you feel that you can’t talk with me? My mother’s gut tells me that even though the email was from your email address it was not written by you. The email talked about honesty. Was that honesty? It also talked about walking on eggshells. Isn’t that what we are all doing? We are just waiting each visit to find out what causes problems. Do you really think that I would put you or your family at risk? You knew about (Cousin B's) visit to the Dr. Did you tell Kristin? If you felt that your kids were in danger, why didn’t you leave?"

"... Please remember that you are brother and sister. Do WHATEVER it takes to straighten these things out. Please do not let things that have happened break that tie. I know from personal experience that sibling ties change but usually strengthen over the years... I am purposefully sending this email to you at work so that you to have time to read it and think about it by yourself. You may think – I don’t keep things like this from my spouse. It’s up to you but I would hope you would respect my request and respond on your own".

So basically she is saying: We (the four of them) are a small family and everything (their actions towards me) that have been going on are effecting their relationships. You are still my kids (not accepting the reality of family relationship evolution). I've dreamed about becoming a grandparent for so long (with expectations that were not met), I don't understand how there could be tension from that. I don't understand why you don't ask me questions like I wanted to ask my mom (to her this is disrespect). I never had boundaries with your grandparents because I respected and trusted them (not understanding why we don't reciprocate). I don't know why you can't talk to me (there's no communication at all with them - we tried while they were here). I feel like you aren't the one writing that email (it was constructed by both Bill and myself with the help of our counselor - three of us). I am not dishonest, I told you about Cousin B being sick (calling it teething and saying he was fine). Do you really think I would put your family at risk (this is emotional manipulation). If you thought so, why didn't you leave (deflecting responsibility). Do whatever it takes to fix this (it's up to you two "kids" and she has no part in this). I'm sending this to you at work because I don't want you to share this with your spouse (because they aren't a part of "the family").

I know the game she's playing. I can see right through her.

Bill and I were going to talk about her email last night. He told me that he spoke to Grandma L that morning, ignoring the fact she sent the email, they never talked about it and she cried while asking him what the kids wanted for Christmas (more emotional manipulation). This was just more than I could take. We have to address our problems or they will only get worse.

We talked about making an appointment with our counselor to help us figure out what to do and Bill agreed that he wouldn't talk to Grandma L until then so as not to mislead her into thinking there wasn't a problem. I was sort of OK with this. The biggest issue I had with her guilt trip letter was that she asked Bill to keep it a secret from me. I told him that all I wanted to do was email her to let her know that I read it when she sent it. That was all, nothing more. Mostly to show her that Bill isn't keeping these things a secret from me, no matter if she asked him to "respect her wishes".

Well, after a little back and forth about contact (where Bill did have some good points) it did get a little heated and he said "well, why don't you call her then!" not thinking I actually would. I grabbed the phone and called her up.

I told her that I wanted to talk about the letter she sent, told her that I didn't appreciate her asking Bill to lie to me -which she denied trying to do despite me reading her words back to her ("that's not what I meant!"). She still said that it was my fault that the kids got sick from the virus visit because I didn't ask enough questions (because somehow I need a crystal ball to know Cousin B was sick to begin with). I called her out on all of her crap (manipulation, attempts at ending/meddling in our marriage, dishonesty, etc).

As she always does (and will forever), she denied any responsibility and wasn't even close to apologizing for anything. Not only is it my fault that the kids got sick because I didn't ask enough questions (after I pointed out that she was dishonest), she said that everything is "my perception", as in not reality. I kept telling her that she was living in a fantasy world, that what she's saying isn't the truth and pointing out what the situation really was. I told her that all of this is going on because she is dumping her issues onto me. That she needs to go to counseling to work on that and once she has a better understanding of herself, then we would be able to do family counseling when they move here. I told her that she called me crazy and that I needed "help" so I went to individual counseling for seven months when she cut me off and then did marriage counseling with Bill on and off for two years to learn how to deal with all of them. I told her that she needed to take those same steps, that she needed help and things weren't going to change unless she took those steps.

She's not going to counseling or doing anything on her end to help us resolve our issues. When I told her about her letter putting that responsibility on Bill and Aunt Ju-Ju, she said that she wanted the tension resolved in "their" family. I told her that "their" family doesn't exist anymore now that Bill is married and Bill and Aunt Ju-Ju have kids. I told her that it's everyone's responsibility to make it work, not just the three of them because the tension is with everyone. I told her that I was as much a part of this family as everyone else and she said no (confirming that I am just the donating uterus, bearing her grandchildren).

BUT! The big difference in this conversation wasn't just talking about the past, I put her on the spot asking what SHE was going to do to help our family move forward. I told her what Bill and I had been doing and that if we really want the kind of family relationship that we all want, it's going to take a collective effort from everyone, not just Bill and I. In her letter, she put that responsibility on Bill and Aunt Ju-Ju. She refused to say how SHE was going to help to make our holidays more comfortable. Actually, she said she wasn't going to do anything.

She started to mock me and I flat out put a stop to it. "Don't sass me. If you want respect, you earn it. Speaking to me like that is not getting you anywhere and I will not be treated this way...". She shut her mouth pretty quick and shortly after that, hung up on me.

She is not only a master emotional manipulator, but she is an emotional abuser as well. It was very clear in this conversation. I hope she knows she's not getting away with it anymore. Because she's not.

So, did we really get anywhere in the conversation? No. Did anything different happen (apology, etc)? No. But I called her out and stood up for myself. AND I FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. It feels like a HUGE weight had been lifted. I wasn't depending on Bill to address the problem - I took it into my own hands to let her know how I feel and told her I knew what she was doing to our family. Bill had been sitting there listening to the entire conversation and after I got hung up on, said that he backed me up 100% with everything that I said, that I wasn't asking for or saying anything unreasonable. Everything that I said to Grandma L needed to be said. I was so proud and happy from that moment. I cried on Bill's shoulder because I felt so much better. It didn't matter what happened because I at least got it all off my chest.

I realized this morning that this whole situation is the school yard bully scenario. I could have my recess kickball buddy stand up for me, but that wouldn't stop the bully from picking on me. It's a temporary solution. I ultimately had to do it. I've had to put up with so much from her and turn the other cheek. I was at the end of my rope. Not doing anything only allowed her to continue to treat me that way. She may always treat me this way and nothing will change with the in-laws, but things will change with me. It's her turn to put up with me. I'm going to let her know how I feel after the horrible things she does. It's not fair to my kids to watch their mom get bullied like this and from here on out, I'm not standing for it anymore.

So, now I can relegate. Now I can comfortably distance myself from them and not engage anymore. We'll see what happens before Christmas when they visit again.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So thankful

I am so thankful for all of the friends I have out there - the ones who've left comments about Carter's possible colic/refux and suggestions of what's worked for them, the one's who sent personal emails of sympathy and the one's in MOMS Club who have helped me out tremendously with many often emailing to check-in and offering a break. It's been uplifting to feel the support. I don't know what I would have done without it all.

When I first started blogging, I never thought I would have found so many friends around the world. I just wrote (and still write) about our life, nothing of much interest to anyone else, but something of a record our family could have of our experiences and feelings growing up. Little did I know that I would be part of a network of other moms living similar lives and helping one another out. I love it.

I'm also extremely lucky that I belong to the MOMS Club chapter that I do. Not to brag, but we really do have an amazing group of moms and our chapter functions well, offering moms the support they need. Our playgroups are well attended, the babysitting co-op is popular, there are other parts of the club that are fun and give us an opportunity to use our brains for something other than changing diapers (cooking club, book club) and life-long friendships have been made doing so. I've have friends who give their shoulders to cry on, friends who understand the trials of motherhood and friends who are quick to help with anything I would need - bringing meals over, spur of the moment playdates for the kids on boring days, house cleaning while I was sick, taking care of Logan while we were in the hospital having Carter, the list goes on.

Yesterday I had many hands helping me with Logan while Carter was fussing at our meeting. Today we hosted playgroup and knowing how difficult it is for us to be on time to playgroup, we would undoubtedly still be in our pajamas. I gave everyone the heads up and offered to have a pajama playgroup. Everyone had a great time playing in their footie pajamas and one of the moms made vegan cinnamon buns (a lot of us nursing moms can't have dairy and she knew that Logan couldn't have egg. She was thoughtful enough to make something that everyone could eat). Our little pajama party was a great way to start the day.

Between the two, blogging and MOMS Club, I'm thankful beyond words.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Best Big Brother

Logan is an amazing Big Brother. He helps me so much (as much as an almost three year old can) and is very sweet to his Little Brother. He is quick to find missing Binky's, will gladly grab a burp cloth for me and has gained more independence as each day passes. He can use the bathroom by himself while I'm nursing Carter, can grab his own snacks (if I leave them at preschooler eye-level) and will help me make his lunch.

When Carter is crying and I can't get to him immediately, Logan will give Carter his Binky, tell him it's OK and try to calm him down. It's the cutest thing ever. Eventually he gets tired of it, covers his ears with his hands and walks away grumbling. Yesterday he "babysat" Carter for the first time while I was in the shower. I brought Carter into the bathroom with me and sat him in his bouncer next to the shower door. Logan sat with him keeping him company until I was finished. Carter loves to watch Logan and calms down when Logan tells him stories (mostly about cars, dinosaurs or robots).

Logan also loves to give Carter hugs and kisses, tickles and knuckles. He always gives him a hug and kiss good-night. He also loves to show off his Little Brother to his friends. So cute! I'm so lucky to witness such a strong brotherly bond created so early. I will definitely enjoy watching it grow.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It can't be, can it?

Carter has been having a terrible time at night lately, about the last two weeks and maybe a little bit longer than that. From about 4:00-4:30pm he starts to get fussy. Then the fussiness turns into blood curling screams that won't stop no matter how long I bounce him, if he's been fed, changed or whatever. There have been nights that he's cried like this until 10:00pm. Yes, you read that right - crying for six hours. After we began to notice that this wasn't a one time deal, we started to wonder if he has colic.

Last week at playgroup we were talking about it. One of the newer members (who is really sweet) knew exactly how I was feeling since she just got through it with her daughter. I've been OK, frustrated, but OK with all of it but then out of nowhere as we were talking about it, tears started to well up in my eyes. It has been hard. I haven't been able to go to the gym to get a break when Bill comes home from work. When he comes home, it's complete chaos. Logan is running around like a wild child, Carter is screaming as I'm wearing him in the carrier and bouncing him around and walking laps around the house. I'm in tears, lucky if I've showered if we stayed home all day and the house looks terrible. I feel like a horrible wife to have him come home to such a state.

We've tried everything. The first was practicing the five S's technique from The Happiest Baby On The Block by Dr. Harvy Karp. This worked like a charm for Logan and I swore up and down about how great it was. Well, it works for Carter, but it's only temporary. I can only swing and shoosh for so long. Shortly after I stop, he's back at it again. I've brought him into the bathroom in his bouncer so he can be in the warm steam and relax to the sound of the water. I've turned on the hair dryer. I've worn him in the Bjorn and Mei Tei. I've had him in the swing, I've turned on different white noises. I've just recently began giving him Gripe Water. Nothing works for long.

I brought him to the Doctor last week to make sure he didn't have an ear infection or a sinus infection since he's been congested for quite some time. No infections, just congestion from a cold. The pediatrician wasn't ready to call it colic yet since Carter has a reason to be upset. He wants to see if it continues until the 20th when we go in for Carter's two month check-up. He basically told me that "babies cry" and I can let Carter cry for as long as I need to while I re-group and go back to trying to calm him down. This is beyond exhausting.

Since I can't leave him at night to get a break, I hardly have more than 30 minutes to myself everyday. It's gotten to the point where when he starts fussing and I know he won't be able to settle down - I take him into his room, wrap him in his swaddle, turn on his music, close the door and I take a long hot shower. I feel like absolute crap doing this because I feel like I'm ignoring him. But, if I keep trying to calm him down, I only get frustrated and angry with my futile efforts.

I really hope that he's this upset about getting over his cold. I hope to God he doesn't really have colic. But all of the signs are there.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

You can't reason with crazy

This is a hard lesson for me to learn. I seem to think that everyone should have the ability to tap into some common sense or at least some logical reasoning in a discussion. Not everyone has that ability (or chooses to try, either) and it's maddening for me. Some people are so beyond this ability. And those "some people" happen to be related to us.

After the virus visit and the "accidental" email from Grandma L, Bill and I took some time to figure out how to move forward with this. I wanted to discuss a cut-off, but after meeting with our counselor about it, a cut-off should be the last resort (but it's not out of the question). We didn't want to continue to toe the line and pretend like nothing has happened, but we knew they weren't going to try to mend the situation, either. The only thing we could do was let them know how we feel. It's in situations like this where I seem to have hope that people can come to an understanding and resolve to move forward with open communication. What I really need to have drilled into my brain is that you can't reason with crazy.

Bill and I sent both Aunt Ju-Ju and Grandma L an email expressing our feelings after the last visit. We told them that we didn't want to ignore what happened, that the situation could have been easily prevented had there been complete honesty and we were given the chance to make a properly informed decision rather than being put in an uncomfortable situation. We set up a ground rule that if anyone is sick during visits, that we will not be around until they are symptom-free for 24 hours. We also expressed our feelings of hurt and mistrust from being lied to and the statements that were made afterward. We let them know that we don't want to walk on eggshells during the Christmas visit while the kids are opening their presents and hopefully we can all learn to have open and honest communication to make that happen.

Really, we didn't expect much knowing full well that we weren't going to get an apology. This was mostly for our peace of mind to make our feeling known. Deep down I hoped there would be some kind of change, but that's just not realistic. It's a pipe dream to think that anything is going to be different with them. We sent this email (or rather, it came from us with Bill writing it from his email) on Wednesday and hadn't heard anything back. Until today.

After the visit, Grandma L had been calling/emailing Bill on a daily basis to check in to see how he, Logan and Carter were feeling (she doesn't care about how I feel at all). What she was really doing was sucking up and making sure to stay on Bill's good side, trying to erase the past events. Since the email went out, not a single attempt to talk to him had been made. We thought they would go on ignoring the whole thing so that nothing would have been put to rest before Christmas. Then Aunt Ju-Ju tried to be super sneaky about it last night.

She sent Bill a text message asking him to come over to help make Grandma L a photobook with pictures of the kids for Christmas. Bill let her know that we would play it by ear since Carter still had some bad congestion from his cold. She wanted only him to come over since it would be "faster" that way. Yeah right. She wanted to corner him alone to berate him about sending the email, making me out to be the bad guy (why do you let Kristin do this to us, blah, blah, blah). Bill replied back letting her know that he doesn't get a whole lot of time to spend with us, so he would try to get with her some other day.

This morning she sent a reply to the email (or really, what she wanted to tell him last night as she tried to trap him rather than being honest and upfront about the attempted conversation):

"First of all, Bill was informed that (Cousin B) had been to the doctor and was diagnosed with a virus the day you came over. To imply that we were dishonest as to his symptoms/diagnosis is a hurtful allegation.

When (Cousin B) came into this world we realized that he would be exposed to many common colds/viruses. In speaking with our physician about our fears he educated us about the immune system. As (Cousin B) is exposed to many people in his life: family, preschool, friends, and daily life we have the understanding that if an individual had a sickness/illness or was contagious that they would inform us, just as Bill was informed.

Pertaining to eggshells, we feel that all of us are continually walking on them because we can never predict what will set you off, but we can consistently be sure that something will. Yet we regroup, go forward, and try to start with a clean slate every time we get together. We hope you are able to gain the closure that you need from the these horrific events.

P.S. In the future if you have a concern we would prefer to communicate in person, not via e-mail

This just goes to show that talking to them at any length is a waste of breath. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this came from both of them as Grandma L likes to make Aunt Ju-Ju the bad guy in these predicaments. A true flying monkey, she is. I'm betting a million bucks that Grandma L was Bcc'd on this. It's also a sad reality that they would rather rewrite history than repair relationships.

It's infuriating because we are supposed to interpret "Cousin B went to the Doctor this morning. He's fine, they said he has a virus but we think it's teething" as "Cousin B has a fever of 104 and an uncontrollable cough. He's been on a steady dose of Motrin all day, we should cancel plans so nobody else gets sick". Yeah, that's some honesty for you. I guess it's a "hurtful allegation" since the truth hurts. Then to say that they can never predict what will set us off? I guess it's hard to predict that exposing our kids to second-hand smoke, food allergens and contagious viruses will make us upset.

The part that pisses me off the most though, is the sarcastic remark about getting over these "horrific events". Like Logan almost losing consciousness at the kitchen table from his high fever wasn't horrific, or listening to Carter struggle to breath every night isn't scary for us. It's also funny how she talks about discussing concerns in person. The last time I did that, I got cut out of the family. When we brought these issues up during the virus visit, both Grandma L & Grandpa L lied to us saying that Cousin B was getting better and then shrugged their shoulders to pacify us. There's no communication at all in this family. These people are crazier than I ever thought.

So, it's pointless to respond and we can look forward to an uneasy Christmas with them. Grandma L has yet to call or email Bill and has no clue that Logan is potty trained. Bill said that he's not going to call her, the phone works both ways. We'll see how long this takes.

The good part in all of this is the difference in how little their antics are disrupting our family. Yes, I still get irritated about it all and have shed a couple of tears but it's remarkably different than before. I think the key is that we are very clear on how these family members function and how to keep our nuclear family separate from that.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Mission accomplished!

With the exception of bedtime, Logan is 100% potty trained during the day - pooping included! YEA!!!! He's been great about peeing in the potty all week. He had very few accidents, maybe one or two. The accidents that he had were because he didn't want to stop what he was doing (playing with cars or watching cartoons). It was interesting to see that holding yourself while doing the pee-pee dance is an innate response. Logan would often be found grabbing himself refusing to go. "I know what you're doing. Just go sit on the potty", I would tell him. "NO!", he would scream at me and run off. I'm glad his stubbornness resulted in only one accident.

I even took him to the drop-in child care center wearing his underwear yesterday. Both Carter and I had last minute Doctors appointments, so Logan went to play there. I packed an extra outfit just in case and told him that if he needed to go potty, then to let them know and he could go potty there. If I picked him up in the same clothes, clean and dry and he went potty there, I promised him a special surprise. He did great having no problem at all using the potty there without my help. I was so proud of him! On the way home we made a special stop at the store to get him a matchbox car.

Pooping on the potty was a little more challenging. He had pooped on the potty once and pooped in his pants twice. I knew he was holding it in too, because he wasn't pooping everyday when usually he is very regular. We've been home all day and he's been in his underwear all day. I knew that he had to poop. He would come running around the kitchen corner in a panic. "Wanna go potty! Wanna go potty!", he would whimper almost in tears. I would help him get set up only to have him declare that he was all done when nothing was actually done. We did this about 10 times (no exaggeration). It got to the point where Logan was asking to take a nap knowing that he would have a diaper on (and this is also when he would have his "scheduled poop". He always pooped during nap time). Finally while trying to calm Carter down (who may have colic), Logan went into the bathroom by himself without saying anything, then came out to declare that he pooped in the potty. I put screaming Carter in his swing to check it out.

He actually, really pooped in the potty all by himself. No help from me at all in getting him undressed. He pulled down his pants, got up on the toilet, did his business and got down to tell me all on his own. I jumped up and down clapping and laughing at what he did. He was so excited and proud of himself too. We called Bill at work with the good news. On his way home from work he's picking up The King and Mater from The Cars series along with some balloons. We're having our Potty Party tonight!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope for change

The last eight years has been one rough ride for our family, starting with the events of 9/11. From there it all went downhill for us - the Vegas economy taking a turn for the worse resulting in job losses and decreased income, more job losses and decreased income that followed us to Portland resulting in my not being able to pursue my grad school aspirations, more job losses after moving to Colorado, complete with being involved in the failing housing market and being affected by the broken health care system. Every issue that has been a hot topic in this election has directly affected our family. We are the middle class family that has worried about paying the bills, worried about our credit and selling a house, worried about the price of gas and groceries, worried about lack of affordable health insurance and worried about fighting for coverage once we've paid for a health insurance plan.

After the historic events of last night's election, I sincerely hope the next four to eight years will be different. I hope that our country will be able to turn around and the middle class will become stronger. I hope we will find a solution to our energy, health care and financial crises. I hope for the change that has been promised. I believe in that hope, the positive look for our future and the change that brought about goosebumps and a lump in my throat last night.

I don't hold people to a higher standard, like idolizing celebrities. People are just people and nobody is really that more special than anyone else. However, I do feel like Obama is heroic for his efforts in his attempt to change our Nation. He has his work cut out for him and it will most likely take much longer than four years to change all that has been done by the Bush administration. Not only is it going to take a lot of work to change, he's putting his life on the line for it. Unfortunately, there is no doubt in my mind that there will be some kind of harmful chaos that will follow this election. There are some crazy whackjobs out there who spew nothing but garbage and hatred. A hope for change isn't exactly what they were asking for and I think Obama is pretty brave to face that for our Country.

I haven't posted anything about my opinions regarding this monumental election until now, but I have been reading, studying and paying very close attention to all that had been going on, on both the National and local levels. I'm sure Bill is relieved that he won't have to listen to my political rantings anymore. I'm relieved that a choice has been made and from here on out, we can stop talking about change and actually start doing something about it. Because we can.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

He's doing it!

Logan is doing a great job with potty training so far! Granted, he is still learning and there have been a couple of accidents, but he's catching on quickly. Yesterday we had practically no accidents, but he also didn't poop at all for the entire day. I'm sure he was apprehensive about it and had been holding it in.

This morning was crazy with him having a horrible attitude while I was watching a friends daughter and hosting our board meeting at the same time. Logan had to sit on time out many times for not sharing his toys and being an ultimate brat. He peed his pants in one of those time outs. After coming out from another one, I sat him on the potty and he pooped for the first time! I was so excited and happy for him and he was thrilled with his accomplishment as well. After getting him put together, I grabbed his "orange car" (the General Lee that he's been waiting for) and when the meeting was over with, we called Bill at work so Logan could tell him the good news.

Logan definitely has the hang of peeing on the potty as he's told me three times this morning that he's had to go and has been successful. Pooping is another story. He didn't make it to the potty and I had quite a mess to clean up. I think he was equally as grossed out and it might not happen again because of it. We'll see. But he knows that if he poops on the potty again, Bill will come home from work with all of the Potty Party items - the toys, the ice cream and balloons. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he'll try again tonight, but I'm very confident that Logan will be potty trained for sure by the end of the week. What a relief! This was so easy!!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

What's new on the home front

After winning the battle against the virus, Logan is feeling better, although still coughing something nasty and will probably do so for a few more weeks. Bill had the flu over the last week and is back to work this morning. Carter has some sinus congestion that makes it difficult for him to breath at night, which scares the crap out of me and I don't sleep well because I'm trying to listen to him all night to make sure he's OK. He's been sleeping upright in his bouncer right under our humidifier and I've been doing some sinus pressure/massage on him as much as I can. Before he got this crud, I discovered that his left eye had a blocked tear duct so the tear duct massage and sinus massage go hand in hand. As far as I can tell, his tear duct is open as of this morning. Hopefully, his sinuses will follow suit.

Now that Halloween is over and we have a truck load of candy and our November activity schedule is a little light, I've decided to wage the war on potty training. Logan put up a fight to wear his underwear this morning, telling me that he only wanted to wear diapers. I told him that we were all out and he had to wear underwear. He then opened his closet door and pointed to the diaper stash. "Look! There they are! Diapers!". He's a tough one to trick. I pulled out all of his underwear and he felt better about picking out a pair (stripes, not Cars like I thought he would have wanted). So far so good.

We've been talking about his Potty Party all morning. If he is successful in potty training (or rather, when) he will get a HUGE Potty Party. We'll get balloons, chocolate ice cream, candy, toys (the General Lee car that's been sitting on the mantle for months, The King and Mater from the Cars series) and invite all of his friends over to celebrate - all of which he specifically has asked for. If this isn't motivation and bribery, I don't know what is. I've pretty much promised him everything but a pony if he stops wearing diapers. It's too bad that a sticker chart wasn't enough motivation for him, but I'm down for a Potty Party if it will save us some cash at the grocery store.

Wish us luck! We're going to need it!!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We had a really fun Halloween this year, in part because this was Logan's first "real" Halloween. He understood the concept of dressing up and going trick or treating, carving pumpkins and of course, eating candy. It was a blast!

On Halloween Eve we had our pumpkin carving tradition and while Logan couldn't yet carve, he told us what kind of faces to make. He wanted them both to be scary pumpkins, telling us what shapes to make and what kind of teeth they should have. I tried to get him to help me scoop them out, but I guess that was a little gross for him. He's rather hit them with the spoon like a drum. After they were carved, Bill showed him how we put the candles inside to light up. Logan thought that was the coolest thing ever.
Carter's first experience with scary pumpkins. I don't think he likes them!

On Halloween morning we went to the tick or treating parade downtown. It's always a mad house down there, but this year was just insane. Since Bill works down there, we have a parking pass to one of the garages. As I was waiting in line to make a left in to the garage, the attendant brings out a barricade to close it up as it was at max capacity. We were supposed to meet our friends from The Club but now that I had to find parking elsewhere, I knew we would never be there on time. We parked many blocks away and just did the parade ourselves, which was still pretty fun.

We stopped by Bill's office so his co-workers could see the kids in their outfits. Most of Bill's friends were out on the balcony throwing candy down at the kids (some trying to pelt them in the heads). Logan saw them and tried to catch a few. He thought it was pretty funny and then he got hit in the head. He didn't cry, but I yelled up to Bill's co-worker asking if I should have brought ice packs.

After deciding that a block of trick or treating was enough with the entire town there, we made our way home. This parade is meant to be for smaller kids - tots and preschoolers since school aged kids are busy with their parties in class. I guess this year the teachers decided to take an in service day (or something like that) so the entire town was down there with kids as old as 12. With so many people crammed in the streets, it wasn't as enjoyable as it was last year. We didn't go nearly as long as we would have if it hadn't been so crazy.

Later that night we got the kids dressed in their costumes again to go trick or treating in our neighborhood. Logan was so excited to go out and knock on people's doors. The second house we went to had a very spastic dog that ran out of the house and chased Logan. It scared the living daylights out of him, especially since he's so afraid of dogs in the first place. He ran screaming bloody murder at the top of his lungs. I had to grab his arm and pull him in between me and the stroller. While Logan was trying to calm down, the owner ran after his dog who never listened and ended up running the neighborhood for a good while. This almost ruined the night for Logan because he didn't want to go knocking on people's doors, afraid that there might be another hyper dog to chase him. Bill carried him for a while and then held his hand as Logan rang the doorbells. He would get his candy and come back to me letting me know what kind of dog they had. Living in Colorado, pretty much everyone has a dog. When Logan discovered that not all dogs are disobedient, he was more comfortable going on by himself.

We live in a great neighborhood - very safe with lots of kids. The houses are big and everyone hands out really good candy. At the back end of our neighborhood, there are very large and expensive houses that give out the jackpot kind of loot for Halloween. Logan was so excited to see what kind of candy he got, carrying around a favorite bag of Skittles for most of the night. He was just so cute and looked so small with the older kids running around him, or in front of him to get to the candy first. I never laughed so hard when Logan said that he was going to "go ring the email" when he meant doorbell.

We skipped most of the neighborhood after we realized how much candy Logan would be getting. His bag was already half full after going to half of our cul-du-sac and one other street. We came home and Logan helped me give our candy to trick or treaters that came to our house. He thought that was pretty fun to have his turn to hand out candy in bags. And I don't know if this happens in other people's neighborhoods, but what is up with kids singing Christmas carols when you answer the door? It's not cute or funny, it's lame.

So, this year was fantastic. Logan lived it up and Carter slept the whole time during his first Halloween. We got enough candy to ensure we all get cavities and that I will not reach my fitness goal until it's gone. It was a great way to kick off this years holiday season!