Monday, December 17, 2007

Hen and Chicks (and Husband) on Holiday

P.S. I have no idea what has gone awry with my header. Please try to ignore the somewhat psychedelic version of A Hen and Two Chicks until I can get to it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our Alpine Adventure

We are off to Zermatt, Switzerland for a family holiday! I mean, Christmas in Zermatt? A dream.
Difficult to say what will be the biggest adventure of the trip. The eight-and-a-half hour international flight with Ellie and Brendan? Learning to ski at age thirty-one? Eating out at restaurants three times a day with my little guys? Making an eight-minute train connection with all of our luggage AND our kids?
I will surely have lots and lots to talk about when we return. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Winter Gardening

Missing your garden? Starting to feel that "winter blah" already? Looking for a hands-on activity for your little ones on those long, winter afternoons spent indoors? I have a project for you: forcing paper white narcissus bulbs. So easy. My pre-schooler loved it.

All you need is a glass container (so little eyes can see the roots work their magic), a few decorative stones or pebbles, some bulbs, and a daily watering (good work for little hands). I got everything I needed at Smith and Hawken. But I am no gardener, so click here for a more comprehensive "how to" on forcing paper whites.

The bulbs only take a few weeks to get going. And the fragrance. Ahhh. So lovely on a less-than-lovely winter day.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Oh Oh

2007 Broken Ornament Count: 7

Re-enactment of the exchange that occurs daily at our house:
Brendan: "Oh, Oh."

Me: "No, no, Brendan. We look at the pretty tree with our eyes. We DO NOT touch the ornaments with our hands. Let's go get the vacuum."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

C is also for Cookies

Painting our cookies.

Baking our cookies.

Eating our cookies. Yum.

A big thanks to Aunt Meg for planning a perfect baking session with the little ones.

Monday, December 10, 2007

C is for Caitlin

Ellie: "Mommy, I was thinking about how I love you during my dinner so I made a 'C' in my berry sauce with my finger because 'C' is for Caitlin."

Brilliant . . . and thoughtful . . . and a little gross that she dipped her finger into her berry sauce, but whatever.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Never Too Sick For Dancing

The four of us have spent most of our weekend nursing head colds. We have been lying on the couch, staring into space (see above for excellent example), drinking warm beverages, and trying to avoid Mom when she comes around with the box of tissues.

But today was the "Dance-Along Nutcracker" and Ellie made it clear to me that she was "not too sick for dancing." So we packed up our germs, hit the icy roads, and headed down to the Chicago Cultural Center to make other unsuspecting ballerinas sick.

It was completely worth it (for us anyway . . . probably not for the people who caught our colds).
Now back to the couch . . .

Friday, December 7, 2007

Snuggle Bug

Brendan with the love of his life.

Brendan with the second love of his life.

I have posted about Brendan's love affair with his blanket before. His collection has grown to include at least four blankets of various sizes and levels of plushness, a stuffed monkey, and a gigantic stuffed dog named "Will." And he wants to bring them all with him everywhere he goes. It is a lot of luggage for a little guy.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Five Lessons My Breasts Taught Me

1. You can't please all of the people all of the time. Whether you are still breastfeeding your three-year-old, or you did not breastfeed at all (for whatever reason), someone is disappointed with your decision. And that person(s) will surely share their disappointment with you, even though it is completely inappropriate for them to do so. Maybe it will be a friend who says, "Wow, you are still breastfeeding him at nine- months?" Or a pediatrician who comments, "Oh, so you didn't keep going until twelve months? That's too bad." As hard as it was for me, I learned that I didn't have to defend my informed and thoughtful decisions to other people. And this skill has actually come in quite handy in all sorts of contexts in my life.

2. Some things you have to do alone. I don't mean to suggest that it isn't worth the time to read the books, go to the training, and get as prepared as you can when you are planning on breastfeeding. But at 4:00 a.m., breastfeeding really just comes down to you, your boobs, and your babe. Sure, your partner can support you (although in retrospect, it probably was not necessary to make my husband attend the "How to Breastfeed" seminar with me). And the twenty minutes with the lactation consultant before I brought my first baby home was well-spent, if only for the big boost of confidence it gave me. But if you are going to make breastfeeding work, you eventually have to figure out how to do it yourself. Also a good lesson.

3. Cows are mommies too. There is something very primal about the experience of breastfeeding that reminded me that all sorts of mothers have done this for their young forever. The first time I saw myself in the mirror while my breast pump was working its magic, I thought,"I feel like I have seen this before . . . happening to a cow at the 'Farm in the Zoo' exhibit." In short, some aspects of "mommying" aren't always pretty, but you do what you have to do for your babes, just like all sorts of mothers have done since the beginning of time.

4. I embrace my saggy breasts (and my lumpy tummy too). My body has worked hard for my two babes, and I wear the physical effects proudly. On occasion, I miss my flat stomach and wonder how much a tummy-tuck would cost. But then I realize that I would not want to change anything about my mothering experience - even the not-so-cute parts. I am proud of my very imperfect body for all that it has endured and provided for my little ones. I love the time we spent together when they nursed. So who cares if my boobs are a little droopy?

5. Moms have millions of best friends. Being a mother can be a great equalizer. Certainly the experience of mothering is different for everyone. But I really believe that there is a universal sameness to motherhood that connects women. I have had lengthy conversations with near strangers about mastitis infections. Women whose names I don't even know have shared graphic details from their birth experiences with me. When another mothers says, "I know how you feel," she means it. We are all lucky to be members of this club.

Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog.

For more perspectives on breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding), check out what other mamas are saying at the Chicago Moms Blog, Silicon Valley Moms Blog, DC Metro Moms Blog, and the New York City Moms Blog.

Okay, so I have read through many, many of the posts now, and this one is the must read. Funny, funny.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Sleeping Under The Big Top

My nineteen-month-old son Brendan jumped out of his crib a few nights ago. Actually, it sounds like it was more of a head-first fall onto the hardwood floor than a jump. Not a graceful maneuver. This unfortunate turn of events means it is probably time to get the crib tent out.

Brendan isn't the first crib jumper in the family. In November of 2005, our then eighteen-month-old daughter Ellie started climbing out of her crib. Soon after she made her first triumphant exit, she was climbing out of her bed somewhere between twelve and twenty times a night. Eventually, she and I would just crash on the couch together out of exhaustion. And I was four-months pregnant at the time. This is not a pleasant chapter in my parenting history. I remember feeling totally defeated by my daughter. How do you convince an agile, but not ready for a big-girl bed toddler to stay put?

A friend suggested the crib tent. Out of desperation, I paid nearly two million dollars to have one overnighted. My husband and I eventually got it set up and Ellie seemed to love the adventure of the whole thing. At least, that is how I remember it. I have memories of her jumping around happily in her "big girl tent." My husband remembers her quivering with fear, clawing at the mesh and begging him to free her. And as a result, he isn't so thrilled about getting the tent out again.

So, back to my current dilemma. Brendan hasn't made another escape attempt (the pain of the first try no doubt fresh in his mind). But I am very anxious that a second try is inevitable so I rush to his room every time I hear him stir for fear that he is about to hoist himself out again.

The sleep situation at our house had been just lovely too, with both of my little ones regularly sleeping through the night, allowing for my mental clarity during the day. I don't want to go back to my days of sleeping on a couch with a toddler at 4:00 a.m. But I also readily admit that the crib tent does feel like a parental failure in many ways. Instead of really working through this new development, I am just going to cage him so I can get some sleep. Certainly more capable parents handle this situation without resorting to restraints, but I also don't want head injuries to be my last thought before drifting off to sleep each night.
So what do you think about crib tents? Emotionally-scarring baby jail? Or necessary safety measure for little escape artists? Any other ideas on how to keep a babe in his bed?

Cross-posted at Chicago Moms Blog.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Christmas Spirit

Eleanor is enjoying every moment of the holiday season. She has been diligently creating her Christmas gifts for family and friends. After insisting for weeks that it was time to put up the Christmas decorations because the grocery store had theirs up mid-November, she is delighted that we finally have our decorations in place. We chose our tree yesterday (although it is thawing out in the garage currently). We all had a chance to slosh around in the snow in our new boots in the first snowfall yesterday afternoon. She has learned nearly all of the words to dozens of Christmas songs. "Frosty the Snowman" is her favorite. We have been reading our new book "Olivia Helps With Christmas" nightly. Looking forward now to baking cookies and participating in the "Dance-Along Nutcracker." And she has begun a vigilant look-out for Santa and his sleigh.