Thursday, March 28, 2013


I'm not sure how much I've shared with you all about babysitting. I have a huge backlog of draft posts and I'm never sure what I've published. I'm sure I mentioned that we are trying to ease Katie into the idea of someone else taking care of her for short periods. We had some great successes with Anthony putting her to bed (mental note: we should try that again soon, before she forgets and we have to start all over).

But we need to take the next step, and let a real babysitter watch Katie. I got a recommendation from another mom at Katie's school, and I met with her last week. She was really nice, and clearly great with kids. Katie seemed to take to her right away. She's a student at the local community college, and she lives close by. All good things. But...there were some red flags. And since I'm brand-new to this, and tend to over-think all this parenting stuff, I'm not sure if I'm overreacting. See what you think.

There were really only two complaints I had about this sitter. Firstly, and I'm not sure how to put this kindly, she didn't seem overly bright. Friendly, sweet, nice, yes! But not too sharp. We almost had a big mix-up via text, because she told me she could meet Friday morning, but not before 2pm. Huh?? Took a couple tries to straighten that one out. When we met, she read Katie one of Katie's favorite books, and I could tell there were some pages she just didn't understand right away. I was kind of shocked. I don't think Katie noticed, but it made me wonder if it's safe to leave my child with this person.

The other complaint is that her childcare philosophy doesn't seem to be in line with mine. Ever since we joined Katie's co-op preschool, I've had a whole new outlook on parenting. I've been devouring parenting books like there's no tomorrow. I really believe in Positive Discipline and many of the other philosophies I've been learning. For example, I now know not to label my child as "pretty" or "smart" or "shy" or anything else - even positive labels can be destructive. The first thing this sitter did with Katie was quiz her on all her colors, and then tell her "You are so SMART!" What if Katie had missed one? Would she not be smart?

On the other hand, naming colors can be a fun game. Katie loves to talk about colors. But there was something in the way this sitter did it that made me uncomfortable. Usually when I talk to Katie about colors, it's to ask "Would you like to play with green play-doh, or purple?" Or we sing a song about the rainbow that we heard on Toddler Radio. Or she tells me which colors she wants to paint with. Or I make some really lame-sounding comment about the colors she used in her artwork, like "I see you made the blue paint go round and round!" I guess what I'm saying is, the more I read in these books, the less comfortable I am with quizzing Katie on anything. I do sometimes ask her if she sees a particular object (like a flag, her favorite) in the pages of her books, but somehow that feels OK. It's more like, "Oh wow, is there a flag on this page?" And she says "Yesh!" and points to it. I don't say "Good job, you're so smart" if she gets it right, I just celebrate with her that she found something she likes: "You found an American flag!"

The point is, I feel like I just barely learned some of these things in time, and there are many I wish I'd learned sooner. I am far from being a perfect parent, but it feels really good when I use the new tools I've learned. I feel relieved, like I've maybe saved Katie half of a future therapy session. Over time those are gonna add up! So it's really hard for me to think of leaving Katie with someone who will, in essence, parent the way I would have before I learned more about it. What will this sitter do if Katie seriously misbehaves? Will she yell at her? Scold her? Put her in time-out? (Not to say time-out is bad, but at this age I'm not using it yet, and I might not ever.) How much does the sitter understand about what makes a 2 year old tick? This has saved me untold aggravation - simply understanding more about Katie's capabilities at this age.

And, moreover, will the sitter understand if I try to explain any of this?

Maybe I need to sit down with her and briefly explain our house rules. I was thinking about this earlier today - that we don't have any official "house rules" and it's probably time we did. I remember Teacher Donna talking about her own personal rules for when to discipline her daughter and when to just let it go. It was something like: Health, Personal Safety, Safety of others, Safety of property. There was a fifth one, I can't remember it. So basically if what the child is doing doesn't jeopardize any of those things, then it's OK to look the other way. 

So when Katie wants to wash her tea set in the bathroom sink, getting water everywhere and her clothing soaked, I ask myself: is her health at risk? Her safety? My safety? The house? And the answer is, No, as long as I make sure she doesn't soak the hallway carpet, and that she doesn't slip and fall. A few splashes is OK though, and so is a change of clothes. Our bathroom floor is actually cleaner than ever because of all the times I've had to mop it up recently. :)

I actually talked to Teacher Donna about this in a conference last week. She said that it might be hard to find someone whose parenting style is exactly like mine. I accept that. She also said that a couple of hours a week won't undo the work I've been doing. I hope that's true. Unfortunately, I have a pretty early memory of a babysitter who made fun of me once, and that doesn't make me feel too confident. Sigh.

Sorry for the rambling post, folks, but thanks for letting me get all that off my chest! Next time: Stalking other kids' nannies in hopes that they're looking for a few extra hours a week of babysitting work!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Practice makes awesome!

Last night went so much better than the night before! We did the same thing - I said good-bye to Katie right after dinner, and she waved and watched my car pull away. No tears! Dada gave her a bath and they played together in her room. (And, if truth be told, he showed her a LOT of Sesame Street videos on his phone.) My seminar was super lame, so I came home half an hour early. When I opened the door, the whole house was dark and quiet. Where are they? I wondered. It was 8:45, and Katie's bedtime is 8:00. I tiptoed into the den to see if they were both asleep on the couch. They weren't. Then I heard Katie's voice coming from her room, saying something about Lambie. I heard Dada sing her lullaby and put her in her crib. I figured she'd woken up crying and that he went in to comfort her. Not so! Turns out he was just putting her down for the first time at 8:45! LOL. I think maybe dads have a slightly more lax sense of time than moms. But no biggie - the main thing is, Katie went to sleep without a single tear! This time she KNEW Mama was coming back. HOORAY!!!! (And the reason I know this is, when I went to get her this morning, she said with delight, "Mama's home!")

So I think we are making incredible strides. I'm so pleased, and relieved. Today I had to go to the doctor to have the "1-hour glucose" test for gestational diabetes. Which means I had to go in, drink a disgusting sweet drink, and come back to have my blood drawn precisely 1 hour later. Since the doctor is only about 10 minutes from our house, I decided to drive back home in between. The first time I left, we did the routine where Katie waves bye-bye as I drive away. When I went back for the blood draw, she said "Bye Mama" without even looking up from her Play-doh. Great strides, I tell ya!

Too bad my seminar was so lame. There were several red flags, right from the beginning. Firstly, the lecturer told us she had copies of her book for sale, right off the bat, practically before she even introduced herself. Secondly, she said that parenting books for specific ages aren't that helpful - that you don't have to re-learn parenting for every stage of your child's life. I couldn't disagree more - some of the most helpful books I've read are age-specific. Thirdly, the lecturer said that she was looking over her lecture notes and she realized that the tips she was going to talk about really apply to ALL children, not just "spirited" ones. Umm, What? Then why did you call the lecture "Raising a Spirited Child," if it  was just going to be a lecture on "Raising Any Old Child?" Grr. That third red flag should have been my signal to get up and leave.

The lecture turned out to have three parts. For the first part, she read a list of traits of Spirited Children, which she totally ripped off from the book "Raising Your Spirited Child." (Although she did give them credit at the bottom.) It was mildly entertaining to see from the nodding heads of other parents, which particular traits drive us the most crazy. The second part was focused on "Ways to Help Your Child," which I found utterly useless. There were nine points on that list, and they were all common-sense, basic parenting tips. Not one of them dealt with the promised "avoiding power struggles" or "improving cooperation." The third part was Q&A, and parents were asking questions about much older children than mine. And despite what the lecturer thinks, advice on what to do about an 8 year old is NOT that helpful to parents of toddlers. Age-specific advice IS important!

So I guess I could have ducked out earlier than I did. But I was determined to take away at least one nugget of information that would be helpful. I had to dig deep, but I came up with two. The first has nothing to do with "spirited" children, but it's something I come up against a lot. I have a hard time not telling people their kids are cute. I know, intellectually, that we're supposed to focus on inner strengths, but doggone it! Babies and toddlers are CUTE. Some of the kids at Katie's school just melt me with their sweet expressions and funny antics. And, out in the world, a fair number of people tell me Katie is cute. And I know I'm supposed to scowl or protest or something, but I just say "thanks" because I happen to agree. But anyway - the lecturer said that when people said her daughter was pretty, she'd just add "She's even prettier on the inside!" And I thought that sounded nicer than scowling. Of course, she didn't have any tips on how to keep my big mouth shut about other people's kids, so I'll just have to try to contain myself. :)

The second nugget was actually related to spirited children. The lecturer said that spirited children tend to be very perceptive, meaning they notice every detail around them to the point of distraction. That definitely sounds like Katie. So, the lecturer said, they might not be simply ignoring you when they're examining a piece of lint on the carpet while you're saying "Let's go, let's get in the car and go to the park!" They might genuinely not "hear" you. In other words, Katie's not deliberately trying to drive me crazy by not responding to my repeated requests to do something. I think I'm taking it personally because I vividly remember ignoring my mom when she'd call me - but I was doing it out of adolescent spite, not distraction. The bottom line: if I want Katie to do something, I'm probably going to have to get down to her level and make eye contact. Which is what I do anyway, but now I'm going to cut out the part where I tell her 10,000 times from across the room first.

Anyway, the lecture may have been a bust, but Dada's success in putting Katie down was so worth it. I am so proud of both of them!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Last night's debrief

Last night went pretty much as I'd predicted. On the plus side, Katie waved bye-bye and watched my car pull away, so she knew what was going on and didn't cry. She and Dada had a really nice evening, including bath and playtime. I'm really glad they got to spend some time together without me - Katie gets such different (and excellent) parenting from him. I love watching how they interact because it's so different from her relationship with me. And my gut tells me that the differences are hugely important to her emotional and social development.

Another plus is that I had a wonderful time at Parent Night (aside from some social awkwardness.) The topic was Emotional Intelligence. Teacher Donna just got back from a weekend teacher's conference and she was just bursting with wonderful things to tell us. The main thing I took away from her talk was that language is the way to encourage your child to use his/her cerebral cortex (the "thinking" part of the brain) to express his/her emotions, rather than just operating from the limbic system or the brain stem (more primal reactions.) Giving names to feelings is hugely important to a young child. I've been working on this extensively with Katie, and although we're nowhere close yet, I'm looking forward to the day when she can say "Katie angry!" rather than just screaming and throwing a tantrum.

I also learned that activities that "cross the midline," like painting in broad strokes, or anything that requires the child to reach across her body, help to organize the brain. Truthfully, I don't know exactly what "organize the brain" means, but doesn't it sound great? I also learned that swinging on a swing has a similar function - that it organizes the brain in another way. Teacher Donna says that kids know instinctively what their brains need to work on, and their interests reflect that. That's why it's so interesting to watch what they do at preschool - it gives us clues to what might be happening in their development. Are they working on running or jumping? Pedaling a tricycle? Picking up tiny objects with their fingers? All of these are tied to specific developmental milestones. I wish I knew more about it - it's fascinating.

So I guess it's no surprise that Katie is suddenly SUPER into swinging. Ever since she was a newborn, she would tolerate a swing for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, tops. She just wasn't a swinging fan. Later on, at around 18 months, she'd ask to swing at the park, but still want to get down after a minute or so. Then about a month ago she suddenly decided that swings are awesome. We've had marathon swinging sessions lately. I have to drag her off them! So maybe her brain just needs some swinging organization right now. How cool is that??

The other thing I took away from Parent Night was a sudden realization that Katie really does understand on some level that her position as "Only Child" is about to be usurped. I have no other way to explain her behavior lately. There have been a lot more tantrums, seemingly over nothing. There have also been a lot more spontaneous hugs - which I am loving! More night waking, too, which I am not loving, but I still feel good about comforting Katie when she wakes up screaming. I thought all this was maybe due to her molars finally coming in, but after having talked to the other moms (75% of whom have an older child as well as one Katie's age) I really think she's acting out because of the new baby. (Besides, I've yet to see any sign of a tooth erupting!)

But anyway - back to last night. Katie and Dada had a good time, and I had a good time too. Everything went great until Dada tried to put Katie to bed. I was wrong, he was able to get the sleep sack on with the assistance of a second bottle. (I'd made him four bottles in advance, just in case! lol) He did the entire usual bedtime routine, but when he put Katie in her crib, she started to whimper. Then she started to howl. 45 minutes of howling later, she finally fell asleep. OMG. I definitely think he did the right thing in letting her cry, because we've already learned that going back in her room makes things worse. But how awful for both of them! My poor baby, and my poor husband having to listen to his precious darling cry, and not being able to give her what she wanted. Torture.

When I got home at around 9:20, Katie had been asleep for about 15 minutes. I'd promised her when I left that I'd come in and say goodnight, so I did. I felt like I was breaking some taboo, sneaking into her room when she was asleep. We *never* do that, ever ever ever! I can only think of two times we woke her up - once when we had to take her to the hospital for a procedure, and once when we thought she'd stopped breathing. (She hadn't, of course, and she was pretty perplexed to see us standing over her.) So it was a rare treat, actually, to see her sleeping. We often wonder how she sleeps - whether she uses Lambie for a pillow, whether she stays on her back or rolls over, etc. Last night she was on her side, kind of leaning towards her front. She was still sniffling a little, poor angel. I told her "Good night, sweet Katie, Mama's home now. I love you, darling." I rubbed her back very lightly. She didn't wake up, but I hope on some level it registered.

This morning she slept a few minutes late, so I was already awake and able to go right to her room when she woke up. When I opened her door, she said, "Mama!" in a voice that sounded half amazed, half relieved. It sounded like, "You DID come back after all!" And I hugged her and kissed her and told her that Mama always comes back.

And I hope she remembers that, because tonight I have a seminar to attend, so we're doing it all over again. Gah. But honestly, the seminar is called "Raising a Spirited Child." Here's the description:

Understand children who are persistent and intense and who want to have a lot of control. Learn how to avoid power struggles and improve communication and cooperation particularly effective for strong-willed children.

Don't you think I HAVE to go to this one??? LOL!

Wish us luck and a smoother, tear-free bedtime!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bedtime practice

Tonight's the night. Tonight I am going to kiss Katie good-bye right after dinner, and Dada is going to give her a bath and put her to bed. I am going to a mandatory parent meeting for our co-op preschool.

Part of me is nervous about this. The worst-case scenario would be that Katie cries for the entire 2 1/2 hours I'm gone. Probably won't happen - Dada is great at entertaining her. Second-to-worst-case scenario is that she cries a little when I leave, pulls herself together for some length of time, then loses it again when she realizes I won't be there to put her to bed. I have a feeling this scenario is pretty likely. She'll probably make it through bath and bottle, and maybe even pajamas - but I bet as soon as Dada tries to put on her sleep sack, she'll lose it.

Sigh. Well, we'll see. I'm giving myself periodic pep-talks today. I'm telling myself that leaving Katie alone with Dada is an important vote of confidence - it says to Katie that I know she'll be OK without me, and that she can handle the uncertainty of me being gone.

Furthermore, *someone* is going to have to put Katie to bed while I'm at the hospital giving birth and recovering from birth. I hope I won't have to stay long, but you never know. I dread this part so much. I am actually looking forward to labor (sorta!) and I'm so excited to finally hold our new little one. But I can't stand the idea of being away from Katie. It makes me wish she were a few years older. If she were, say, 5 years old, I think she'd understand that I'll only be gone a short time, and that no matter what, I am coming back. At 2 1/2, I'm not very confident that she can grasp those concepts.

So we're practicing, starting with Dada and working up to a babysitter. I am still searching for said babysitter. I got a recommendation from a mom at school, but we didn't really hit it off over the phone. I keep telling myself that only Katie has to like the sitter, not me! But it's really hard. I want to leave Katie with someone that I think is awesome. But - only one way to find out if this sitter is going to work, and that's to meet her in person and see if Katie takes to her.

When I think back to my pregnancy, labor and delivery with Katie, I realize now how easy it was. We didn't have to make any arrangements besides packing a bag and making sure the carseat was installed. (Carseat!! Ack! Gotta remember to buy another one!) We stayed an extra day in the hospital because we were too freaked out to take our tiny baby home with us (what will we DO with her??!!) This time around, there's so much more to worry about.

BUT - baby steps! Let's get tonight out of the way first. We started talking to Katie about it last night, telling her that Dada will be putting her to bed tonight. This morning we told her again, that tonight is Dada and Katie's extra-special fun night. I told her when I put her down for nap, that Dada would be putting her down tonight but that I'd come in and say goodnight after she was asleep. (This was a suggestion from a fellow mom at school.) I'm going to get everything ready so poor Dada isn't overwhelmed (making bottles ahead of time, filling up the vaporizer, making sure Katie's room is clean and sleep-ready, etc.) Cross your fingers for us!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Resolutions revisited

I think it's high time I revisited my new year's resolutions to see how I'm doing. Let's find out!

1) Quit playing Tiny Tower. Done! I quit playing Smurfs' Village, too. Thank goodness.

2) Improve evening time with Anthony. Hmm. I can't say I've done this. We are both still really tired in the evening, and lately he's been bringing work home with him. Poor guy. I know I'm not supposed to say this, but I loathe his job. I wish he had a job he liked more, and that didn't expect him to put in all sorts of crazy extra hours for no extra pay.

3) Date night once a month. Oh boy. I'm sure you can guess from #2 above that this isn't happening. As it turns out, my mom has been no help whatsoever, so that's our excuse. (By the way, given recent events, we decided that Anthony's mom isn't the least bit crazy compared to my mom. So now it's "Grandma" and "Crazy Grandma." It makes things simpler.)

4) Get a massage once a week until my credits are used up. Well, I went once. Two things are complicating this: one, Crazy Grandma has not been watching Katie as promised; two, I now have to get special "prenatal" massages, which means there are a lot fewer appointments available. I had to book the one massage I got two weeks out, because there were no massage therapists available. However, I did freeze my membership for 6 months, so at least I won't be accruing more massages. Then, I can unfreeze for 1 month and then repeat. Thank goodness.

5) Eat more vegetables. I did okay with this for a month or two, but now I've fallen back off the wagon. But, I did find a nice recipe for spinach, so that's a plus. Once the farmer's market opens again, it will be a bit easier too.

6) Cultivate new friendships. I did this! I went on a playdate, and just yesterday got asked on a reciprocal playdate! Woohoo! This is definitely an ongoing effort, though.

7) Find 3 new recipes for the rotation. So far, Thai Chicken has made the list. So has Red Beans & Rice. So I guess I'm still one short. Unfortunately, I've also tossed a couple of recipes out of the rotation because I'm so sick of them. So, I still need more. But good for me for finding two so far!

8) Wean Katie from the bottle. Well, we're now 100% bottle-free in the car, and the transition wasn't that bad. I love the fact that we can now make more than one stop when we run errands, without worrying whether we have enough bottles! So yay there. I've also put away the big 8-oz bottles and only kept the 4-oz. She still gets three a day, upon waking up from sleep and nap, and on going to bed. I've told her that soon we won't be using bottles anymore, because she can drink from a real cup and doesn't need them. I'm hoping I can make it happen within the next 2 weeks. I think it's a "just do it" kind of task, and I just need to muster my strength and stamina for it.

9) Finish potty training before the baby comes. I've rethought this. I think it's best not to hold Katie to a deadline. She does so many potty-related things independently already. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before the rest falls into place. I will still continue to do small things to encourage independence. I'll continue to offer big girl undies, even though she flat-out refuses them now. Someday the lure of butterflies and flowers and Hello Kitty has to win out over diapers.

So, all in all, not too bad! Gotta keep working on some of them, especially the date night one. Good things are on the horizon there, so stay tuned!

Friday, March 15, 2013


Well, I've finally got a Katie-ism that tops "Dada clean it poo-poo rug!" Oh, I haven't told you about that? Well, that's probably because it's kind of hard to explain without really grossing everyone out. It was several months ago, shortly after we'd bought the Little Green Steam Cleaner. Suffice it to say there was a small "accident" on the rug, and that Dada had the unenviable task of taking care of it. The worst part, I believe, was having to hear about it several times a day for the next few months. Sometimes it would be the first thing out of Katie's mouth in the morning. Or the last thing she'd say at night. We'd hear through the baby monitor: "Good night, sidewalk! Good night, gardeners! Good night, garbage men! Dada clean it poo-poo rug!" It got to the point where Anthony would tell her, laughing, "You know, Dada can do other things besides cleaning the poo-poo rug!"

I've actually been meaning to blog about Katie's little phrases and sayings for some time now. It's because I'm lazy and have STILL not started Katie's baby book. In all honesty, I haven't even purchased said baby book. I'm basically going to print this blog one day, stuff it in a folder, and call it a day. So that's why I occasionally bore you all silly with cute stuff Katie's doing.

Lately I've noticed that Katie has stopped saying some of her cute baby versions of words. She no longer says "acrobat" when she means "apricot." She's figured out the difference between "checkup" and "ketchup." (We had a good run with that one, after she got a doctor's kit for Christmas.) She's figured out how to say "Oski Bear" properly. (We had a lot of fun with "Oxy Bear Ketchup," as Oski is one of her favorite patients.) She no longer calls an "escalator" a "calculator." (That was one of my favorites.)

Anyway - Katie calls 'em like she sees 'em. And now that she's starting to string more and more words together, things are getting pretty interesting. Today, as I was putting her in a shopping cart seat, she announced to the world that "Mama pee-pee in-a da cup! Give it da nurse!" OMG. Yes, Katie has come with me for nearly all of my prenatal checkups. They really only do five things: check weight, blood pressure (which, in my opinion, they should check BEFORE I see the number on the scale), a urine test, measure my belly, and listen to the baby's heartbeat. Katie watches everything with those big brown eyes that miss nothing. And then she talks about all of it, to anyone who will listen. And how can I argue with her? What she says is dead accurate - I *did* pee in a cup and give it to the nurse! LOL!!!!

Oh, one last Katie-ism. This one is from last summer. Around the time of the London Olympics, Katie started to get really interested in flags. A neighbor of ours hung up a huge Union Flag in honor of the Olympics, and Katie was obsessed with running over there and looking at it. Flags were suddenly everywhere. She's still absolutely enamored of them. One of her favorite topics of dinner conversation is to name all the flags she likes: "Big flag! Little flag! Bear flag! American flag! 49ers flag! Ca-for-nia flag!" (I haven't the heart to tell her that the California flag and the Bear flag are one and the same.)

But anyway, last summer, her pronunciation of the word "flag" was a bit less clear than it is now. One day we were in the checkout line at Trader Joe's. (I know, when are we NOT at Trader Joe's?) They had a huge American flag hanging at the end of the frozen food aisle. Katie had pointed it out whenever we walked past it. As we moved closer to the register, she suddenly got a good view of it again, pointed, and shouted "FAG!!!" as loudly as she could. The woman standing directly between Katie and her beloved flag looked utterly shocked. I blushed to the roots of my hair and said loudly, "Oh, yes, sweetie, a big American FLAG!!!!" And then I bought our items and ducked out of there as fast as I could.

Oh, Katie, what other fun things do you have in store for us? I truly, truly can't wait. You are so much fun!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Injury update

Just thought I'd put everyone's mind at ease - Katie's nose is not broken. In fact, it looks so much better today that I'm a little ashamed about my hysterics yesterday. Although, in fairness, it really did look awful. She is just a really fast healer. Thank goodness for that! Last night while we were giving her a bath, Dada did the "wiggle test" to see if her nose made any crunching or crackling sounds. It didn't. And, although she didn't like having that done, she didn't scream bloody murder, so I think that's a good sign too.

I was also super freaked out that the discharge coming out of her nose was CSF (cerebrospinal fluid). That's what I get for googling "how to tell if your nose is broken." Hypochondria and Google do not mix. Today it's really, really obvious that the fluid is just mucus - poor Katie came down with a cold on the same day as her epic journey down the stairs. Whee. Don't worry, though, the hypochondriac in me is still going to watch to make sure the nasal discharge resolves in the usual amount of time for colds.

So, she has a bruise on her shin, a bruise on her nose, and a pretty nasty cut under her bottom lip that's evidently pretty sore. Every time I try to wipe it, she throws a fit. And she has a doozy of a cold, complete with lots of sneezing and a ton of mucus. So she's understandably a little out of sorts. But other than that, she's scampering around like nothing happened. 

Kids are amazing!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Breathe...just breathe

I am a nervous wreck. I don't think that's too much of an exaggeration. I feel shaky and like I want to cry, but I can't. Maybe I'm in a little bit of shock. (I know, you're thinking, "what NOW?")

For weeks now, the baby gate at the top of the stairs has been making this really annoying and loud "CLINK!" sound whenever I open it. It's right outside Katie's door, too, which makes it even more annoying. I'm pretty sure I woke her up two nights ago when I crept downstairs to use the bathroom. I've tried oiling the hinge, but I think the self-closing mechanism may be wearing out.

We hardly ever close the gate completely anymore. Katie is more than capable of managing the stairs by herself, and she gets really angry if the gate shuts accidentally and she can't get through. She grabs it and rattles it like a crazed gorilla at a zoo. And she roars just as loudly, too. So the gate is mostly there to act as a speed bump - even though it's ajar most of the time, it still takes Katie some careful maneuvering to get through it.

But after I woke her up two nights ago, I decided it was time to remove the gate. Anthony was dubious, but I've seen Katie pause and grab the handrail at numerous staircases when we're out in the world. I really thought she'd be fine. After all, I'm always underestimating what she can handle. I promised Anthony I'd keep an eye on her to see how she was doing.

And I did. Yesterday I took the gate down, and I was on her like glue whenever she went near the stairs. She did absolutely fine. I concluded that she was indeed ready to go gateless. I reveled in the new-found freedom of no baby gates! That thing had been such a nuisance. Of course, I knew we'd have to put it back up once baby #2 starts to crawl, but still! Even 6 months of gate-free living sounded great to me.

This morning, though, it all went sour. While I was downstairs fixing Anthony's lunch and he was upstairs finishing drying off from his shower, Katie decided it would be a lot of fun to ride her princess push car down the stairs. There was an almighty crash, followed by a genuine howl of pain, and Anthony and I were both there in a flash. Thank God the stairs are L-shaped, with 5 at the top and the remaining 10 after the landing. Katie only "drove" down the first five steps. The landing is where we found her, screaming like a banshee and starting to bleed from her nose. Her lip swelled up too, in that now-famous place she always seems to bite it.

It was every bit as bad as the park-bench incident, except now I'm worried that her nose is broken. It didn't bleed that much, just a few drops, but it is starting to bruise across the bridge. It doesn't look crooked or anything, but it's a bit swollen so it's hard to tell. I don't want my little angel to have a permanently crooked nose, or problems breathing, just because I was stupid enough to let this happen. Katie would not let us put any ice on it whatsoever. She wouldn't even let us wipe the blood away until much later, and even then, I've had to sneak a swipe here and there so she won't start screaming again.

I blame myself. I feel so stupid for taking that gate down. I'd rather face a hundred thousand years of gates creaking than put Katie through what happened today. Her face, her sweet little angelic face, looks like she's been in a fistfight! She looks like Rocky Balboa! I'm so sad and ashamed at the same time. And I hate that stupid princess car with a passion. Needless to say, the gate is back up and it's probably going to stay that way until both girls graduate high school. Sigh.

Thanks for reading, I feel a tiny bit calmer for having written this.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Fresh hell

Folks, the unthinkable has happened. After months of whining, complaining, and hypochondriacal trips to the ER, my mom finally packed up and sold her house to move closer to us. Due to incredibly poor planning and an extreme tendency to procrastinate, she failed to find a place to live before having to move out of her house. So she's been rattling around the Bay Area with her stuff in a storage "pod," staying with friends or in hotels, for the past six weeks.

On Saturday she texted me, asking if Anthony could help her move some heavy suitcases up a flight of stairs to her new apartment. (The existence of said apartment was news to me.) We had plans in the afternoon, but I told her he'd stop by. She texted me the address, and ZOMG - it is within a mile of our house! It's on one of only two roads out of our neighborhood. It's on the way to the grocery store, Home Depot, Trader Joe's, Anthony's job, the aviation museum, the doctor's office...we will be passing Grammy's apartment nearly every single day. <wheezing>

When Anthony got home from helping her move, I asked him how it went. He grinned at me and said, "What's your guess?"
I said, "Well, I imagine she wasn't there yet when you arrived."
He said, "Check."
I said, "She probably showed up 10 minutes later, breathless, with some scattered and long-winded story about what took her so long."
I said, "And she probably had 10,000 plastic grocery bags full of stuff in her car like a lunatic."
He said, "Yes, she did. But that's not what's so bizarre. Go on, try to guess."

I couldn't guess. And the reason I couldn't guess is that NOBODY in their right mind could have guessed what happened next. Anthony helped her lug a big suitcase and a bunch of plastic bags up the stairs to the second floor, and then discovered that she didn't have the key to the apartment. ("What?!" I spluttered.) But it gets better - the reason she didn't have the key is that she was supposed to have met with the apartment manager earlier to sign the lease, but my mom (oops!) didn't show up for the appointment. So not only did she not have the key, she HADN'T EVEN LEASED THE PLACE. And it was a Saturday, so who's to say whether the apartment manager would be back?

Thank goodness for our afternoon plans - Anthony was able to get out of there before things got any more cuckoo. The next day, I texted her to see if Katie could come by and see her new place. I half-expected her to tell me that she'd slept on the stairs or the doorstep, and that she still hadn't signed the lease. But somehow she'd managed to pull it together. She signed the lease and got the keys, and even got a mattress store to deliver a bed. I was amazed.

So we shall see what bizarre stories lie ahead for us. A mile away. The only thing more hellish than that would be if she moved next door. <shudders>

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last night

This morning started in more or less the usual way. I rolled over at 6:09 and took out my earplugs, ready for the sound of Katie talking to herself in the next room. Happily, she waited until 6:45 to do that, and in the meantime I had an incredibly weird dream involving my mom, Christmas decorations, Katie being up way past her bedtime and a husband who was, inexplicably, drunk. (Which I really haven't seen since we were both in college, although I did hear his bachelor party was a doozy.)

Soon enough, though, I was awakened to the soothing sound of Katie talking about birds. I put on my sweats and sweatshirt and was pulling on my socks when I suddenly realized, "Hey, these are wet! Why are my socks wet? And, come to think of it, why are these sweats and my sweatshirt damp too?" And then it all came rushing back.

Despite the fact that I sleep with earplugs, I wake up all night long hearing things. Sometimes they're a figment of my imagination, in which case I yank out my earplugs, listening hard, then put them back in, grumbling at myself for being so stupid. Last night, however, the sound I was hearing was very real. BANG! CRASH!! This went on sporadically, sometimes every minute or so, sometimes with 10 minutes between crashes. I knew instantly what it was, but I didn't want to get up and deal with it. I kept hoping that I was wrong and that the noise would stop without me getting out of my cozy bed.

Even though I knew it was supposed to rain last night, I had no idea how violently the wind would blow. ( informs me that we had gusts up to 30mph last night.) Our garden gate has been broken for weeks, which, as you may recall, is how Katie escaped one day. I had no idea how to fix it, so I shoved an empty toilet paper roll into the latch mechanism. That worked just fine to keep the gate closed, at least until my mom came to visit last week. She (quite kindly) decided to drag our trash cans in from the curb, but she couldn't figure out why the gate wouldn't open. So she basically forced her way in, destroying the TP roll. Sigh.

Which brings us back to last night's gusty winds. That darned gate, soaked with rain and very heavy, kept banging shut and then opening, over and over again. Each time I heard it, I hoped it would just stop, but by 2:30 am I'd had enough. Plus, I was pretty sure we were going to get angry letters from the neighbors. So I put on my sweats and headed outside. Rain was coming from every direction. I trudged out to the offending gate and shoved a washcloth through the latch, tying it in a knot. On my way back, I watched one of our matchstick shades blow halfway off the patio overhang. Great. So I got a chair and climbed up to take the whole thing down before it got blown to pieces. Somehow in that process I stepped right under a downspout, soaking my socks.

And that's when I mentally started writing this post. This is too good, I thought: 6 months pregnant, up on a chair in the backyard, getting soaked to the skin at 2:30 in the morning. And wouldn't you know it? By 3:15 the wind had stopped. I should know - I was still lying awake in bed after my daring adventure.

But oh well, all in a night's work. This morning the sun is out and the whole world looks sparkling clean. Time for a nice cup of tea!

Hope you all had a restful night's sleep! :)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sundry updates

I've noticed that when things are going smoothly in my life, I find myself with nothing to blog about. Then, when things go awry, I find that I have TONS to blog about but it's all petulant, whiny bellyaching (i.e., not good to read about). Today I'm kind of in the middle, so I thought I'd just throw out some various thoughts. Sorry, readers - I, too, like it better when I have an interesting topic to write about.

Anyway - I haven't slept well for the past three nights. Actually, I guess to be precise I'd have to say 27+ months. But it's been particularly bad the past three nights. My doula advised me to get this monstrous pregnancy body pillow - seriously, check it out, it's absurdly huge. I'm not much into body pillows, and I  didn't use one during my last pregnancy, but the doula raved about this one and said it's just heavenly. So I ordered one, and it arrived three nights ago. I'm not digging it. Sure, its clever design eliminates the need to reposition the pillow when you turn over, but having it there makes it a lot harder for me to turn without waking up. So what's the point? I have decided to give the pillow a week to see if I can adjust to it, but last night I took a night off and went back to a standard pillow. Ironically, I woke up at 2 am and couldn't go back to sleep for almost 2 hours. Yaaaaaaaawn! Oh, and yesterday Katie refused to nap, and instead of making up the lost sleep by sleeping a little later this morning, she decided 6:15 would be a perfectly good time to wake up. Double yawn.

But anyway - it's Friday, and today Katie has decided to nap, so things are definitely looking up. We went to the ob/gyn today for my prenatal checkup, and the baby sounds great. My vitals are all on track too, yay! Plus, I *finally* got the TB test that Katie's school has been wanting. Hopefully it will carry over to the next school year, because I registered Katie for the fall 2013 class today! I'm pretty excited. The class is Wednesday and Friday, and one of those will be a drop-off day. WOW - Katie's first drop-off situation!!! I think it'll be great, though, because she already knows the school and feels comfortable there. We'll have 5 weeks at the beginning to stay with our kids both days, and then drop-off starts on the sixth week. It's going to be a challenge to be at Katie's school with a new baby in a sling, but I think it'll work out fine. I've seen a couple other moms doing it.

Let's culinary news, I tried making chicken piccata, Thai chicken stir-fry, and I converted my shrimp étouffée recipe so that I can cook it during naptime and transfer it to the crock-pot. The chicken piccata came out faintly horrible, but I think this was due more to the recipe than my failure as a cook. The Thai chicken came out good, good enough to add to the "keeper" list. And I am thrilled about the étouffée. It's a pretty simple recipe, but it requires you to make a roux, which takes 15-20 minutes of almost-continuous whisking. That's fine, but not when Katie is around. I get 3 minutes, tops, before she starts to shriek that she wants to see (and usually touch) what I'm doing. Luckily, the crock pot saved the day. I put the roux, the softened vegetables, the seasonings and the other ingredients in the pot and let it cook for the rest of the day. Then I added the shrimp right before serving. Oh, and I left out most of the cayenne pepper so Katie could eat it. Win-win! :)

What else? Hmm. After sneezing most of the week with no other symptoms and blaming it on allergies, last night I got pretty congested. If it is a cold, it's certainly not the worst I've ever had, but I hate not being able to breathe through my nose when I sleep. I wake up with desert mouth and it makes it hard to get back to sleep. When have a cold and I'm not pregnant, I take a nighttime cold remedy to keep congestion at bay, but those are off-limits now. I think I'm allowed Sudafed, but that would keep me up all night, so that's out. So, I decided to try a Neti Pot. I felt like such a fool sticking this weird little plastic Aladdin's lamp up my nose - this is something only hippies could love. But, despite my grumbling and complaining that it wasn't working, by the time I lay down in bed I could breathe! Finally, Whole Foods sells a remedy that isn't utterly bogus! WOOHOO!

That's it for now. Let's hope the weekend brings some funny stuff to blog about! TGIF!