I happen to have a number of friends who are currently pregnant (Pocklock, Jen, Nilsa and two others that I can't disclose right now) so there's a lot of talk about hormones and cleaning and organizing baby clothes and decorating the nursery oh my! and I absolutely love it but it's gotten me feeling all nest-y. I must be in the process of some type of New Age self-renewal process because man do I have Plans. Plans to finish decorating the house. . .RIGHT NOW! Plans to clean out that junk drawer and organize it because how can we possibly live with a section of commingled batteries of all shapes and sizes? No Sir we can not! I went out last week and procureda Swiffer Wet Jet to mop the entire house--all 1450 square feet of it--and burned through three mopping pads and an entire bottle of solution, such was my dedication to spotless floors. Theo even called me out on it the other day and said, "Mom? Can you. . .STOP cleaning?" Like he was some annoyed teenager and I was embarrassing him in front of his friends Annette Benning/American Beauty style. Bryan nearly split his sides from laughing so hard.
I think, if I'm going to get all psychoanalytical about it, this stems from the fact that I never got to nest when I was pregnant with Theo because of bed rest and him arriving early. Then it's been full speed ahead with one thing or the other since he's been born. Our life has not been without chaos these last two years is what I'm saying. So now, things are good. Really good. And I finally feel in a place to get things how I want them, OCD aside. Plus if you think about it, I'm doing the whole family a huge favor by keeping our lives chipper and organized. Funny that I'm doing this now with a two year old walking around behind me gleefully un-doing all my organizational efforts WHILE NARRATING. "I pull this off the table Mommy! See? Watch! Watch! I make it fall down! Awww, look at this terrible mess I made! You pick it up Mommy?"
It doesn't seem to be stopping with just crumbs and dust either. Oh no. I need a new couch. Clearly I can not live without a new couch because the one we have has been around the block more times than I care to mention. Stains and smells and lumps and sags. Ugh. Bed rest did not keep the love alive in that relationship and if I could get rid of it today I would. Also? Our mattress! As in, we need a new one! Our backs are hurting and our quality of sleep could be exponentially better if we were to have a new mattress. I've had it since college and it has moved eight times in twelve years. I think it's time for it to go live on a farm where it can romp and play in the sunshine with the warm breeze. And as long as we're getting a new mattress we clearly need all new bedding after the Chemical Fume Fiasco of 2009. Because putting that old sullied bedding on a brand new mattress set would be against the laws of nature. So a new comforter, pillows and sheets are also a must. I did mention the pillows, right?
Sigh. I'm a danger to myself is what it is. THANKS A LOT, FERTILE FRIENDS!
Tuesday, 11:53 a.m. --Theo got his first bee sting while at daycare. No one in our family is allergic and neither was he thank goodness. He cried for all of two minutes and then was fine. Daycare lady was shocked as her ten year old, when last stung, sobbed for thirty minutes straight so Theo getting over it so quickly actually threw her off and she worried about him even MORE. He got stung on his thumb-sucking thumb (of course!) which left me in a dry-mouthed panic but yet again, he rolled with it and managed just fine. When I picked him up he said, "Look mom, bee sting me right dere. He wanted honey from me." And that is when my heart swelled and almost burst out of my chest because OF COURSE THE BEE WANTED HONEY FROM HIM. Who WOULDN'T?
Saturday, 10:00 a.m.--I was in the kitchen packing some road trip food as we were about to leave for a weekend trip to Wisconsin to visit Bryan's dad. Theo was in the living room messing with his drum set. Suddenly I heard him burst into tears and he came running into the kitchen. "KITTY CAT BIT MEEEEEEEE!" Full disclosure: our cat is the most patient cat ever and normally if he pushes her buttons too much she'll 'bite' him but never break skin. It's a non-invasive warning that does the trick, which is what I thought had happened. "Where did she bite you?" "OVER DERE BY HER BED!" Um. "I mean on your body honey. Where did she bite you?" "ON MY HAAAAAAAAND!" I looked at his hand and sure enough, she left a few marks. More scratches from her teeth than anything but it was the most evidence I've seen from her so he must have REALLY done something upsetting. I washed him up, put some Neosporin on it and he calmed down. I asked him what he did to the kitty cat to make her bite him. "I-I-I just gave her a TOY! Then I hit her on the head!" Aaaaaaaand there you have it. So we went over to the kitty and Theo apologized. I also noticed she was sitting there with two wooden trains on her back and one close to her head so I can only assume she wasn't a huge fan. Go figure.
Saturday, 10:43 a.m.--We were all packed up in the car and just about to pull out of the driveway when Theo accidentally poked himself square in the eye with his drumstick and burst into tears. His eye was red but not scratched, and a few well-placed kisses from us made him feel better. For the next hour his right eye teared which made him look like he had gotten into a bar brawl, especially from his scratched and swollen right hand.
Saturday, 1:15 p.m.--On our way up North we stopped at Denny's (I know, I know. NOT A LOT OF OPTIONS) and as we were leaving Theo tripped and fell into the edge of the waiting area booth. He screamed and cried and when I picked him up he already had a lump forming in the middle of his forehead with broken blood vessels. By the time we got him some ice it was a huge goose egg. I actually had to bobby pin his hair to the side so I could check the status of his head trauma (mental note: get him a hair cut appointment). But also! His long-ish hair was perfect for concealing the lump and not making us look like traveling wounded. Potato-patatoah. Again, he was fine eventually. Sigh.
Saturday, 7:43 p.m.-- We had had a full day of travel and visiting with Grandpa and were happy to get back to the hotel to give Theo a bath and put him to bed. Bryan got him out of the car and was carrying him across the parking lot while I was behind them with some bags. Out of nowhere, Bryan tripped badly and they both came crashing down on the concrete sidewalk. It looked like Theo hit the back of his head but it happened so fast I couldn't be sure. Bryan's glasses flew off his face, such was the force of the fall. Of course, Theo started screaming. I scooped him up right away and did my best to assess his injuries. He had no lumps and didn't say anything hurt on his head. I finally asked him if he was crying because he hurt or because he was scared and he choked out, "Because I'm scared!" which hey, I could handle that no problem. We kept telling him daddy was okay (which he was, if not sore. Bryan was way more upset about Theo than anything that had happened to him, naturally) and that everyone was okay. He snuggled into me with a face full of snot and tears and began to calm down. We began to gather everything up that was scattered on the ground when I saw blood on my hand. I had no idea if it was Theo's or Bryan's and after another evaluation we saw that Theo's elbow was badly scraped--about the size of two silver dollars. He let me clean it and slather it with Neosporin "To make da owie feel better" and once we finally put him to bed he was out like a light.
I would never call Theo accident prone but this past week has just been out of control. Amazingly we have a kid who bounces back quickly and he's been fine ever since, which made the rest of the trip a relief. Because of all this though, I'm thinking of carrying Neosporin in a holster so I can be at the ready. You can never be too careful.
I have been back to work full-time since Theo was ten weeks old. At first my mom watched him every day for a month while we scrambled to find daycare. He came so early and with me on prior bed rest we didn't have anyone lined up by the time he was born. Through a family friend's recommendation we found the most perfect at-home daycare lady ever. She was laid back but organized, and loved the kids with all of her heart, especially Theo. At four months he was nineteen pounds and she carried him so frequently throughout the day she ended up needing PHYSICAL THERAPY on her arm three times a week in addition to every day icing. To me? That is some serious dedication.
She would drop him off at our house and pick him up if needed. She'd send us home with extra soup or veggies from the garden. She offered to meet us at the ER close to midnight when Theo was ten months old and was tested for Kawasaki Disease. Ms. D would wash his clothes and beloved blankie for us, and clip his nails when they got sourly neglected by his parents. On days I was held up at work she'd sit Theo down at their dinner table and he'd eat with them like he was part of the family, which he clearly was. We were truly blessed to have found her and for Theo to be in such wonderful care. Going to work every day was hard but I never EVER had to worry about his safety or happiness while he was with her.
Eventually when he started talking he'd ask for her over the weekend. Heaven forbid I took a few days off--I got boring really quick and he was itching to go back. If he saw a van that resembled hers in a parking lot he'd squeal for her and wonder why she didn't magically appear. I honestly took all of this as a huge compliment because we found someone to watch him that loved him as much as we did. It never hurt my feelings to have him lunge into her arms when we walked in the house, or accidentally call me by her name after I picked him up. He's a mama's boy through and through so I've never questioned his preference as I've always been The Chosen One. But it made every day so much easier knowing he loved it at her house so much.
Well, she retired the beginning of June (almost two years to the DAY that Theo started there) and we had the huge job of finding ANOTHER day care facility. Insert panic and emotional eating. This time, I felt like it was a million times harder since Theo has memory and thoughts and opinions and I was heartbroken for him that he wouldn't see his friends or Ms. D anymore. Plus! She set the bar so high! I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that I made myself sick over the thought of finding someone new. Horrid scenarios played out in my overactive brain and I worried about Theo's safety and security. I was assured by many that he'd adjust way better than I would, and I believed that seeing as Theo gets over things in a fraction of a second as opposed to me who holds a world record for Just Not Letting It Go.
We came by our current provider through word of mouth yet again and she's great. Less expensive (always a plus but really, having to put a BUDGET on your child's care is the most awful thing to figure out because can ANYone be paid enough? No.) and closer to the house which was huge for me considering how long it took me to get to and from our old place. She's calm and gentle and the other kids she watches are great, which was another concern of mine because what if the kids were bullies? Or rude and obnoxious? We didn't want Theo around to be influenced like that but thankfully it's a non-issue. We like her and Theo is happy. Big. Sigh. Of. Relief.
Clearly, there are many things that are rough about being a working mom, but I'd have to say finding daycare is one of the hardest. Not only does it have to work for the parents, but the kid has to enjoy the environment as well. Plus it helps if the daycare lady likes your kid too! Sigh. Does it ever get easier? It's always going to be something isn't it?
This parenting thing, man. It sure is something else.
Since this topic has been consuming me lately, I also wrote about how to find a great daycare over at Work It, Mom! Pop on over and let me know about YOUR tips.
To end this week on a happy note, I present you the most recent Theoisms as of late because are they ever fabulous.
"How old are you?"
"I two and grandma's old."
(How he sings the Sesame Street song. All at top volume, all at the same pitch.)
"NEIGHBORS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOOOOOD! NEIGHBORS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOOOOOD! NEIGHBORS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOOOOOD!"
"Oh look Mom! Dat widdle girl's selling remenraid!"
Shopping at Target, going up and down the aisles. Whenever I'd put something in the cart:
"You buying pizza Mom? I LOVE PIZZA!"
"You buying bread Mom? I LOVE BREAD!"
"You buying milk Mom? I LOVE MILK! COW MILK! SO TASTY!"
In line at Trader Joe's and Theo is flirting with woman behind us. I ask, "Are you being silly?" "No Mom, I just admiring that lady."
After his bath:
"Daddy? I mommy's tiny angel!"
We go to Dunkin' Donuts sometimes as a special treat and always get Theo a few Munchkins.
"I want a black donut! Look Daddy I lick it like a popscicle!"
We have a whole wall of windows in our dining room so as we eat together at night we see a lot of animals in our back yard nibbling on the lawn.
"Awww, look at the tiny bunny! He eating his salad!"
His new favorite thing to do with us in the mornings (he comes to get me at 1:10)
I can't even possibly express how much I love him.
Before I had Theo I was always amazed when I saw someone out shopping with their kid at nine o'clock at night. I mean, don't kids go to be early? That's what all the books recommend, or so I was sure. And if those kids started acting up I was convinced it was because of poor parenting choices which led to them being over-tired when they should clearly be home snug in their cribs. So I judged.
In high school, after I got my brand new Honda Civic (may he RIP), I would drive around with teenager self righteousness and my head held high. My sweet ride was clean and new. I had the means to take care of it. Then I'd see cars with dents or loose bumpers, a crack in the windshield or rust on the door and think, "Why do they drive AROUND like that? Just get the car fixed and stop being so LAAAAZY." So I judged.
When I worked at an animal shelter right after we got married I saw pets who were given up by families all the time. The most common reason was baby related, such as "The baby has allergies" or "The dog is aggressive towards the baby and won't calm down." Cats were given up because of litter box issues. And no matter what, every single time I had to meet with someone who choked out one of these excuses I was burning with rage. Caring for a pet is a commitment! How could they just THROW AWAY a member of the family? So I judged.
It's hard not to judge people, let's be honest. To form a snap judgment and size them up with your own certainty. Hold them to your stereotype. But I sit here today a totally different person and honestly know and believe that people are just doing the best they can. Granted, there are always exceptions to this rule. But overall I know that especially in today's economy everyone is just trying to make it through. Make it through the day, the week, until the next check comes in. Decisions are made for the better but may not always be easy.
How am I to know that the mother in the grocery store isn't a single parent, just worked a twelve hour shift and had to bring her baby out in order to get food? That she truly WANTED her baby to be home and sleeping but the food was a necessity and she had to do what she had to do?
What if that person with the busted up tail light and dent in the trunk can't afford to pay his insurance deductible in order to get it fixed? That he would much rather continue to pay his rent and have a place to live then make sure his car is aesthetically pleasing? His car gets him to and from work, is able to pick up and drop off the kids at school, and gets him to church on Sundays. That money is better served for necessities rather than giving it to the guy at the repair shop. He may not like it, but he had to choose.
When a woman came to me choked up about surrendering her dog, how did I know this wasn't the hardest decision she'd ever had to make? What if she tried allergists, medication, special bath products? Or looked into ripping up all of her carpet in order to put down hard wood floors and that still wouldn't have made a difference? As much as she hated the situation, her child comes first. And her hope, if I assume the best, was that her dog would find a loving home as opposed to being put to sleep in a cold exam room, alone and confused.
Sadly, sometimes it's not until I find myself in a situation that I am able to empathize and then truly understand where people are coming from. I hear so many stories of people being hit by this economy and uncertain job market that makes them reevaluate their priorities. Myself included. Because of this, I work to assume that people are doing their best. Might this be a sweeping generalization? Sure. But I'd rather start by assuming the best, than assume the worst and be wrong about someone else's story.
Over the years I have been surrounded by animals which is hilarious since my mother is not a fan. This is a trait I got solely from my father. Starting at the tender age of ten I began horseback riding and in seventh grade I got a pony which was the gateway drug to my future ownership of three more horses. How my mother coped? They didn't live at home--they lived at the barn so that was doable. In fact, I've only been without a horse for less than a year if you can believe it.
I adopted my first live-at-home pet before Bryan and I got engaged, and Cleo the kitty cat became our Princess.
I even lobbied to have her as our ring bearer but Bryan quickly did the math and realized that would be our first step towards divorce. After we got married I was hired as Head of Adoptions at an animal shelter. There was no job that I didn't touch. Outside ten hours a day, walking and picking up after dogs, cleaning nasty cages, administering medications, taking animals to the vet, you name it and I did it all. That's how we actually found our next two cats, one kitten named Irwin who was born sick and we cared for him until he had to be put to sleep at 8 weeks old. Then we went the opposite route and adopted Bert who was 14, deaf and in kidney failure. We had him a little less than two years.
After the shelter job I became a vet tech and in the beginning I honestly didn't know if I could handle all the emotional stress. I saw animals so sick and it pained me that I couldn't help them more than I did. Animals came in to be put to sleep, dogs were terrified in cages, surgeries that had to be tried even with less-than-hopeful results. I was able to move past that all and do my job, still with empathy and compassion but without the pain in my chest on a day-to-day basis.
I've always had a soft spot for animals is what I'm saying. I will pull over to the side of the road and move a turtle. I have called 911 on a family of ducks trapped on the shoulder of the highway and made myself sick wondering how they were doing. And don't even ask me to count how many times I've done the Ugly Cry at movies or commercials that involve a well-placed montage full of big liquid eyes and a fluffy tail. I might have even locked myself in the bathroom after watching Dances With Wolves because of Cisco the horse and TwoSocks the wolf. Might. You'll have to ask my mom.
So when we got pregnant people started telling me that the cat would be annoying or that she'd fall from her Princess pedestal. "Because it HAPPENS" they'd say. "You'll forget to feed her sometimes" I'd hear. Well then those people mustn't love their pets as much as I love mine I clearly reasoned. Our cat had a water fountain. I scooped her litter box twice a day. If she would lay on me (which was always) and I had to go to the bathroom or answer the phone? I WOULDN'T. I would stay there until she got up because I didn't want to bother her. So I actually, honestly and truly, thought everyone ELSE had the pet vs. baby problem and that those concerns didn't and COULDN'T apply to me.
It takes a lot for me to admit this but it's true. After the baby I turned into a terrible pet owner.
But it all made sense. Severe sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety with a newborn, a tiny thing sucking on me every two hours and wanting to be held giving me no personal space whatsoever. So once I'd met every one of Theo's needs, attempted an actual conversation with my husband, and then remembered to wash my face which made me feel downright PAMPERED, I literally had nothing left to give the cat. I just gave her a heaping bowl of food to nibble on over a few days as opposed to Before Theo where she got precisely measured kibble twice a day at the exact same times. The litter box got scooped once a week at best. If she tried to lay on me I'd feel claustrophobic because just GET OFF ME ALREADY, GOD. The sound of her chatting and meowing was like nails on a chalkboard and her hair all over the house even after I finally cleaned and what is the name of that hairless breed again? Woe.
But what breaks my heart the most? Is that she never acted out by any of the major changes in our house. Was, and still is, tolerant of Theo and his unpredictable behavior. She gladly accepts any touch we give her and her eyes roll in the back of her head and she purrs and purrs and purrs with delight. She'll sit by an empty food bowl waiting without complaint (well, for a little while at least). And yes she's getting older so she has toned down a bit, evidenced by her lack of hunting milk rings as of late. We bought her a special fluffy bed, and I've even been known to move it in front of the picture window so she can rest in the sun and chatter at the robins.
I never thought I'd be this way after having kids, but then again I never knew what would happen to my heart once they arrived. My edginess has worn off to a degree and I think the four of us are getting along much better now. I hope anyone who is pregnant with pets doesn't befall the same fate but take a tip from me, realize that if it DOES happen that doesn't mean you love your pet any less. ANYTHING can make you crabby when you're tired and overwhelmed. And if you have a fabulous furry friend like we do, she will understand and love you to bits anyway.
I realize I left off here with having you look at our belongings. These aren't the most Martha Stewart Living photos you'll ever see, so forgive me.
View from the door into our bedroom. A few things: the walls were this dark color WITH those drapes when we moved in. We're renting so we're not planning on making any huge changes. Personally, with the dark walls I would have picked a cream or ivory drape to brighten it up but hey, wasn't my decision. Also, ghetto bed: after all the trauma we had with the chemicals in our old apartment I am skeeved out by our previous red bedding. No matter how many times I could wash it I still don't want it on our bed. So this is my old comforter and I can't find the bed skirt or pillow shams. There are a few sets that I'm looking at as a replacement and to brighten the room but it's not a priority purchase at this point. Opinions? Can't be too light because we have a cat and a toddler. That's stain material right there.
Our dining room? Is huge. This is half of it, also known as Theo's Half. It's actually the perfect place to have his toys out of our way as it's in the back of the house. The table in the back is called The Tiny Table and Theo loves to eat his meals there. My mom got it for him and it's the perfect size. We love looking out the window at the animals nibbling on the grass and climbing our trees. Makes for great dinner conversation.
Sorry for the bad lighting. Again with the huge room. Our table looks like a postage stamp in there. I'd LOVE a new table and chair set in the worst way. Something a little more formal with cushy chairs. Trust me, being seven months pregnant sitting in those chairs made for a less than enjoyable eating experience.
Any decorating tips? I've seen HGTV. So I'm thinking a little under that budget thanks.
As my child gets older and has a growing understanding of the world around him, he is not shy about voicing his every want and desire. Not all of these demands can be met, obviously but as a toddler he does not understand this. And if he does that doesn't mean he agrees. So, because of living with a walking Id, I have been called upon to throw down a white lie here and there. And I'm sure any parent would agree with me that there is a time and place for this. Examples:
--Theo is obsessed with coins. He loves to hold them, talk about them, sort them, and throw them. If one falls out of your jeans he can hear it hit the floor five rooms away. We are very careful with his access to change so he doesn't put it in his mouth. This isn't usually a problem until we're in the car and he sees a random quarter and dime in our cup holder for tolls. When he gets fixated on wanting to hold them I employ the old Driving Coin excuse. "I'm sorry honey. Those are special Driving Coins. Only the grow-up driving the car can hold those because they are special. They have to stay up here so the driver can use them, okay?" "Oh. Okay mommy. Special Driving Coins stay up there. Me no touch them." Ta da!
--We don't let Theo eat snack foods like chips unless it's in moderation and as a special treat. As parents, however, Bryan and I can eat them whenever we damn well please, so we have to hide the bags of Pirate's Booty or Cheeto's whenever we buy them. Occasionally we'll accidentally leave a bag out or Theo will be too quick to see before we put it away. We are then met with whining and sheer determination to have a snack and no matter what reasons I give don't seem to work. That is, until I had a stroke of GENIUS one afternoon. Theo is in love with one of my co-workers. Talks about her all the time and is convinced she is responsible for Christmas, she is just that wonderful. So, at my wits end one day over the chip debacle I said, "That bag is for Miss O, honey. Mommy has to bring her that bag of chips as a treat at work tomorrow so we can't eat them." He literally stopped in his tracks and said, "Okay." and walked off to play. Cue heavenly choir.
--We really try to limit his television watching to the weekends. But that doesn't mean we are met with complete agreement on this household rule. So when Theo gets up from his nap and the first thing he says is, "Me watch Veggie Tales on the tv Mama? I need to watch Thomas. How 'bout Sponge Bob?" it's just easiest to say, "They're all sleeping. They're still taking their naps so we can't watch them right now." Nip THAT bad boy in the bud.
Now please realize we tell Theo everything to the best of his understanding and answer ALL of his questions no matter how long the string of Why?Why?Why? is. I do not make a habit of lying to my child. But really, sometimes the harmless ones are just easier.
What fibs have you told your child to keep the peace? I might have to file away some good ones to be called upon later!
--Theo sings "All the single ladies" complete with "Oh oh oh!" and side-to-side head movements. I was equally proud and afraid to tell Bryan. When I finally did he said, "I need to put classical on more to negate your pop rock." Fair enough.
--Theo and I had a lovely morning on Saturday with my BFF Kristin and her daughter where I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I have a freak memory and rival Rain Man.
--My obsession with the condition of our floors is reaching new heights, now that the gigantor tree above our driveway is dropping these evil tiny green leafy things that get tracked into the house no matter what we do. I swear, these things rival glitter they are so impossible to thoroughly remove. And with Theo dragging his blanket behind him a la Linus, I'm going out! of! my! mind! I actually walk behind him carrying his blanket like some sort of SERVANT. Sigh.
--I pulled some more weeds. I have also come to the conclusion that I will be doing this until the end of time with no visible result, such is the state of our backyard. It's like eating a big bowl of spaghetti. You eat and eat and eat until you hate yourself and hey, there's still two pounds left staring you in the face. Yeah, that's what I'm working with over here.
--I was around a five month old baby, an eight month old baby, and an eleven month old baby this weekend and while my eyes glaze over and I get drunk on their cankles and gooey slobbery babbles, I love my full night's sleep way more at this point thankyouverymuch.
--I can't stop watching this video (NSFW, naughty language) thanks Sundry!
--I'm going to start running again. We've had a lot of rain and I'm just not that hardcore but the weather promises to be delightful so running I shall do. Insert lackluster HOORAY!