Sunday, December 21, 2008

Flying solo.

I have a lot of stuff in my head right now, but not a lot to post about. Today Matt is at a Patriot's game, having been invited by a friend who got tickets from a friend, who got them from a friend. They are good seats, with access to a luxury box, so Matt was pretty thrilled. He's off having a great time, and I'm happy for him, but I'm a little frustrated and tired. I'm likely going to be by myself with Charlotte all day, without the car, and some days that's just a little overwhelming.

Charlotte and I spend 4 days a week by ourselves, no problem, but on the weekend it's a different routine, and I expect and anticipate having the extra help. Or being able to say, "Dude, I need a nap and a shower, hang out with the kid, okay?" Plus, I feel bad for Charlotte. It sucks when your mom is phoning it in, and today, that's how I feel. Charlotte's napping right now, but I know she'll be up soon, and I have soooo much to do for Christmas still that I know I'm going to have to stick her in the play yard and work around her. I feel guilty for that, but I don't have time to put this stuff off, either.

Blah. I need a vacation. Not from Charlotte, but from everything else. If only I could wake up tomorrow with no work and a clean house. Someone send a fairy godmother, 'kay?



In Holly Jolly news, we went to a family Christmas party last week (like last year) and Charlotte again got to sit on Santa's lap. She didn't actually cry, but she was very concerned/interested in this dude. She couldn't take her eyes off of him. Even when she got her present and we took her to the back of the room to open it, she was still craning her neck and trying to see what he was doing with the other kids.



Santa gave her a Minnie Mouse toy, which would not have been my first thought, but Charlotte absolutely adores her Mo-mo. I don't think she's ever seen Minnie before - it's not like Winnie The Pooh, where we have a lot of stuff with him and Tigger on it. She recognizes Pooh, Tigger and Elmo when she sees them in different places, but Minnie is her first Disney Mouse, and there is something about her that Charlotte finds very appealing. They've been inseparable all this week, and Mo-mo is oft requested by name, which is unusual for Charlotte.

Another fun thing at the party was Charlotte hanging out with my youngest cousin, Chelsea, who is seven. Chelsea and I are the cousin brackets - at 29, I'm the oldest, and she's the youngest. Chelsea was chasing around Charlotte, with Matt or I following as back-up. After five minutes, Chelsea looked at me and said, "Playing with Charlotte is fun, but she never stops moving! And she always wants to touch things she's not supposed to!" This is a lesson that the youngest daughter and youngest granddaughter never had to learn before, and it was pretty funny.



It was a great party, I enjoyed myself, and I enjoyed seeing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and relatives who I don't know who they are. It was awkward and weird in some ways, though - my dad wasn't there. He's never there, since my stepmother and my dad's family had a fight over 10 years ago. And as much as I am kind of over the whole thing, it still hurts and sucks to see Dad's siblings all joking together and helping the family set up, and to know that Dad isn't there because he doesn't want to deal with it. It sucks that Dad isn't there to say, "Oh, Jenn, this is Uncle Joe, remember him? He's the one who used to tease Gramma about going for a ride on his motorcycle!" Me and my sister just kind of wander aimlessly, not knowing what we should offer to do. It doesn't help that my whole family is kinda bad at communicating, to the point that one year we showed up at a party only to find out that we were supposed to be dressed nicely for a family photo. Dad, who had been the one to relay the party invite, neglected to mention this. We thought it was just a regular cook-out, and were wearing t-shirts and jean shorts. It ended up being no big deal, we all stood in the back, but it was just one more thing to make us feel alienated.

At this party, my uncle told me and Nicole that he had talked to our dad on the phone that morning, and we both said, in unison, "That's nice." He realized from that response that we hadn't heard from him in a while - and Uncle Scott felt bad. The whole thing is such a big mess, and I don't even really care to untangle it. I could go on and on for hours about it, and it would make even less sense. I'm just really sensitive to it at this time of year, with all the sentimentality and obligation and true joy and dread that Christmas means to me.

Shaking that all off....

I'm really looking forward to Christmas with Charlotte - I know that she's getting some fun toys, and I can't wait to see her play with them. We've been really lax about leaving her presents around, banking on the fact that she's 14 1/2 months old, and won't really notice that the See N Say in the box in our room is going to be unwrapped on Christmas morning. However, Charlotte has noticed and remembered said See N Say, and she likes to come in our room and stand in front of it. I think she's trying to figure out why we have something that is so obviously for her in a box in our room. She's going to lose it when she realizes that it actually makes noises!

I'm trying to decide if I want to take her out in the snow for a few minutes. I think I'm going to wuss out - it's such a pain to get us both all ready to go. Maybe tomorrow before Matt goes to work we'll take her out for a minute. She really likes the process of getting ready to go out, thank god. Charlotte loves her coat ("co") and her mittens and her hat ("ha") and thinks the snow ("no") is funny.

One last picture of Charlotte - her new thing is climbing, and she's figured out how to pile up things to use them to stand on. In this picture, you can see that she totally thinks she's going to be able to swing her leg over the side of the play yard and make her escape. Not true.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Got it!

Here's the picture we're using on Christmas cards:



I think it's pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

I am also discovering - cue dramatic music - that I need more sleep than I thought I did. I know this may seem obvious, like, "Hello, you have a TODDLER!", but I've gotten by on very little sleep for almost my whole life. I started being afraid of the dark after I saw the movie E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial when I was four or five, and I didn't really sleep well again until, oh, say, college. You know, when I started drinking. I used to stay up reading sitting under my desk by my nightlight when I was 8 or 9, reading with a flashlight when I was older, listening to the radio on my walkman, watching late-night TV. I have seen many more episodes of The Patty Duke Show, Dobie Gillis, Mr. Ed and The Twilight Zone than a lot of other people my age. I also remember infomercials for such long-gone products as DidiSeven (a stain remover) and of course, the ThighMaster.

I felt like I had trained myself to cope on very little sleep as a kid, 6 hours a night at the most, more like 4 or 5 all through high school, and then college it's the same thing. Go to classes, go to work, stay up writing papers and reading and studying (and partying, and drinking and smoking, and staying up late talking about existential crises). Then real life with it's work and email and phone calls and grueling TV watching schedule, roller derby practice and knitting Christmas presents. Then baby, and feeding and changing and trying to keep your house and job from falling apart around you. Finally we've reached the point where Charlotte pretty much goes down to bed at 8 and sleeps through until 7:45 or so in the morning (knock on wood! knock on wood!). And then I'm working all day, taking care of Charlotte all day, and I don't finish work until midnight, and hopefully am in bed by 12:30 or 1 am. To me, sleeping from 12:30 to 7:30 seems like it should be more than enough sleep - dude, that's almost 7 hours! But last night I just could not cope and went to bed at 10:30. I woke up at 7:00, when the alarm clock went off the first time, and I didn't feel any resentment at all! I just thought, "Wow, I'm refreshed, I guess it IS time to get up!" That's so bizarre to me. I've always hated getting up, had to drag myself out of bed, exhausted and miserable.

It's weird to think that maybe my problem is not that I'm "not a morning person" and just that maybe I need to sleep more. Huh.

Unfortunately, that revelation is not exciting in any useful sort of way. I went to bed last night needing to do two more hours of work that I will have to make up later this week, and with a sink full of dishes that need to be washed. I also didn't shower, knit baby booties, or do anything else that needed to be done. So while I have concluded that I do need to sleep more, I've also concluded that I don't have time to sleep more. Oh well. That's the story of everyone's life, right?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Harder than it looks...

I've been trying to get a good picture of Charlotte for our Christmas card this year. We went to 3 different stores after work looking for a Santa hat, which didn't work out so great. We ended up getting a semi-cute outfit that was appropriately Christmas-y, because I had this plan to take pictures tonight and order cards tonight when I ordered some other stuff. However, the pictures didn't come out that great due to a) lack of natural light at 7:30 pm and b) lack of energetic cuteness at 7:30 pm. So I'll try again tomorrow. Matt is less picky, and he's like, "Use that one! Use that one!" after looking through the pictures on the back of the camera.


"It's blurry, I hate the lighting, and it's not what I'm looking for," was my reply. Because while yes, these are cute, what I really want is wow. And I'm capable of it, now and again. What Rebecca calls "money shots." While the ring of that is a little, uh, porn-y for my tastes, I know what she means. When I think of a good picture, I want one that is more like this:




So I have a project for tomorrow. Use the daylight, and capture the perfect an acceptable Christmas card photo. Wish me luck.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Holiday countdown...



The Christmas countdown is on. I am...well, started on my shopping at least. We have good ideas on what we're getting everyone, so that's something. Thanksgiving went well - except for the puking. Charlotte gagged herself and puked in the car on Thanksgiving morning - a first! Then her cousin K threw up all that night. It was...a little much.



I'm excited about Christmas this year, but not so excited that I have no time to breathe, much less make this season magical. I'll figure something out, all I know is that not getting the tree up is not an option. Charlotte enjoyed the lights so much when she was just an infant - I know she'll love them now, too. I took a jillion pictures of her last year - here's just a couple.





A big problem I keep running into is thinking that I need to have coherent, cohesive, well-thought out blog entries. I intended this blog to be kind of a way to keep track of what's going on with Charlotte while she's growing so fast, and I'm losing stuff because I'm caring too much about making it good. So prepare yourself for a bunch of mediocre, picture-heavy posts. Because I hate it when it's been a month between blog posts.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Whoa.



I can't believe it's been over a month since I've posted. Probably because so damn much happened in the last 4 weeks. We went down to Jersey for the family party, went to Syracuse for my brother's wedding, I got sick, Charlotte got sick, we took the cat to the vet, tried to find a fall experience, and so on. It's not just this blog that is suffering. I never decorated for Halloween or finished the scrapbook I wanted to give my brother and his fiancee before they were husband and wife. We still haven't hung up art in our new apartment, and I haven't sorted through my clothes to put away summer stuff and give stuff to the Salvation Army. I've been thinking up blog entries and jotting down ideas in my notebook and in my "sketchbook" blog, but not really posting anywhere. I'm barely keeping up reading all my favorite blogs.

Whining aside, it's been a really thrilling month. I love seeing Charlotte hang out with her 8 year old cousin, K. He's a blast anyway, and I've loved him fiercely since he was a tiny, tiny tot. Seeing him with Charlotte has melted me in a way that I can't really explain - they are cousins, they are related, they are the next generation, and for the time being, they really like each other.

I'm starting to really realize what I can and can't do, and what has escaped me forever. I know that sounds really dramatic, but it's kind of a weird feeling to be picking up little clothes and realizing that Charlotte is never going to wear them again. It's not like my winter pants - I'll see those again next year. She's just not going to wear that tiny pink Red Sox tee shirt next season. Those lady bug Robeez? Not going to be on her feet again.

One thing that I'm kind of sad about is that I never finished a sweater that I really wanted to make for her. I'm a knitter - one who never has time to knit anymore - and I had a lot of things I really wanted to make for her. I've been planning the things to knit for my baby since I first started knitting again in college after a decade-long hiatus. I have patterns and yarn that I bought specifically with MY baby in mind, years before Charlotte was born. I've wanted a baby for so long, and I knew I shouldn't have a baby just yet, but I wanted to prepare. To have a kind of baby hope chest. That seems kind of dorky and desperate, now that I've put it in words, but it's true. I have a lot of plans for my life, personally and professionally, and some of those are on hold, but I always knew I wanted to have a baby, too. When I was a teenager, and couldn't ever imagine being married to someone for the rest of my life, I still imagined myself as a mother. A starving artist in New Orleans feeding her kid from a farmers market and cafe, no less.

Anyway, there is one sweater that I bought the yarn for and printed out the pattern as soon as I saw it. Baby Norgi. The pattern date is spring 2003 - which means it was out before I was married - before I was even engaged! - but I knew I wanted to knit it, and I wanted to knit it for MY baby. I finally started it, 4 years later, when I was pregnant with Charlotte. When I started it, I didn't know whether I was having a girl or a boy, and that was fine with me, since I had gotten the yarn in a gender neutral green and off white colorway. I found out, pretty quickly, that knitting when I was pregnant had the same effect as reading in a car. All those tiny stitches lined up in a row aggravated my morning sickness. Then I found out I was having a girl.

Even though I had bought the yarn in green, I had still always kind of imagined that I'd have a boy first. I'm not sure why, I think it was sort of because I had always wanted a big brother, so I wanted my kids to have a big brother. Maybe it was because Matt had a boys name picked out since, like, 2002. Whatever the reason, I always imagined knitting the sweater for a boy, even though I was determined to knit it in green. Between the mental picture of a round, blond little boy fading away, and the urge to vomit whenever I knit, I just never got around to finishing that sweater. I did knit Charlotte a special little layette, all for her, with yarn that I picked up from a fair just a few days after I found out that I was having a girl. She wore the sweater almost constantly for the first 5 months, and the hat even longer. But I never did finish Baby Norgi.

I kept convincing myself that since I was knitting a larger size, Charlotte could wear it this winter if I finished it by Christmas. And it's so lovely, and I love the yarn, and the pattern is fun. I've worked on it a lot, and I know the size, I know how it would go over her head and fit around her chubby little torso. But when I was changing Charlotte's diaper last night, and putting her skeleton sweatsuit on yesterday for the Halloween Potluck Lunch, I realized that it WASN'T going to fit. Charlotte was never going to wear the sweater I'd been dreaming about for 5 years.

It's kind of a weird feeling. I've been imagining MY kid in THAT sweater for so long. I've been imagining CHARLOTTE in that sweater for 13 months. And I've been making a lot of judgments about myself as a mother and a creative person based on the fact that I have only ever knit my kid one sweater. It's a strange thing to realize that I have been holding onto these thoughts. I feel like I've let myself down. But at the same time, I know that I'm my harshest critic, and to keep relying on these arbitrary, self-determined measures is not good for me. So I'm prepared to let it go. Charlotte is not going to wear Baby Norgi. If I finish it at all, it's not going to go to her. She might not get any sweater at all this year that was made by me. And that doesn't mean I suck as a mom, or a knitter. No one else would say that to me, so I really don't need to say it to myself. Charlotte isn't going to miss another sweater. What she would miss is those stories I've read, the songs we've sung, and the million silly little games we've played. She won't feel the lack, and I shouldn't either.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

It's my party and...there were no tears at all. Awesome.



The party was great - despite the fact that we were in a tropical air mass and it poured buckets and 20+ people were squished into my living room/dining room area. But we were all family (even our best friends count as family, even if Kelly refuses the honorary "aunt" title), and everyone stayed pretty cheerful. Charlotte was an excellent co-hostess - she mingled with everyone, and also provided entertainment. She danced and clapped whenever she heard anything resembling music, and she was appreciative of all the gifts and attention. I didn't take any video, because my camera only holds 2 min before it maxes out the memory card, but my brother and his fiancee just bought a camcorder to use on their honeymoon, and Chris taped it and copied it for me. I can't believe we finally have an actual family video! We joked about how it will be hilarious in 15 years when Charlotte makes fun of us for having an actual VHS tape, and we will still make fun of my Uncle Scott for raving about Mamma Mia and how he went to see it three times.

One of my favorite pictures actually isn't from the party - it's Charlotte on Sunday morning realizing that her Uncle Chris is still at the apartment with us.



We get to do this again, a smaller, more exclusive party with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, Charlotte's paternal grandparents, and her cousin. I am actually super-psyched for that, drama-be-damned. I can't wait to have the cousins together partying it up. Hopefully the almost-eight-year-old's patience will continue to hold, and maybe Charlotte being excited about presents will melt her grandmother. My fingers are duly crossed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One year.



Today is Charlotte's birthday. I seriously cannot believe it. This is a picture of my sweet little girl in a serious moment this morning. I really wanted to write a post about her birth, how it felt to go from being a pregnant lady to actually being a mom, and how this past year has changed us both so much. All three of us, really. We are so close and happy as a family - if you had told me a year ago that it would have worked out this well, I wouldn't have believed you. If you'd told me two years ago about where I am today, I would have laughed in your face.

I'm so grateful for my family, which was born a year ago today.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

But in a good way.

Charlotte is REALLY walking now. Charging up and down her room, the house, outside, at my grandparent's house, everywhere. She's no shrinking violet, either. Charlotte will fall flat on her face and get right back up again. Matt's big fear right now is that she's going to fall on her face and get a black eye right before her one year-old pictures. Which we actually need to make an appointment for. Crap.



In this video, two things are apparent. 1. She inherited my Dennis-the-Menace cowlick. 2. She is way into Halloween-themed books. Her two favorite books right now, completely of her own accord are Spooky and Where is Baby's Pumpkin?

My sister just got a puppy a couple weeks ago. Her husband surprised her and brought him home on the first day of school (she's a teacher in a public Montessori school, teaching grades 1-3). His name is Marek, and he's just a bitty baby. Right now he's 10 or 12 weeks old, and he and Charlotte met up close and personal for the first time today when I went to walk him. Considering how into dogs Charlotte is, I thought she would be more excited - she loved meeting my buddy Anthony's dog Drina last Friday. I think the fact that Marek is her size and was on her level made her a little nervous. Still, Charlotte graciously accepted his tentative kisses, and then they both just kind of observed each other.

Marek is super-photogenic, and very laid-back, for a puppy. He came from a shelter and is some sort of lab/terrier mix. Which is shelter-speak for "he probably has some pit bull in him, because this is, after all, a city shelter." Nicole and Josh are doing a great job with him so far, and he's very well-behaved. I can't wait for Charlotte and Marek to play together when they are both a little older and understand how to be gentle. Well, hopefully they'll understand how to be gentle.

Let's see, what else? I'm kind of stuck on something good to get Charlotte for her first birthday, which is in, ulp, 6 days now. We are having a mostly family based party on Saturday the 27th. Matt's parents and my dad won't be there, so it will be a little weird, but both sets of my grandparents, all my siblings, and my two best friends will be there. And some assorted aunts and uncles. I think it will be just a low-key picnic, provided the weather is nice, and maybe some t-shirt decorating. I loved all the decorated onesies that we did at my baby showers, and would love for Charlotte to have some more.

I knit Charlotte a blanket that is almost done - it's going to be small, more of a lovey than a blanket, but I didn't get it done before she was born, and I didn't get it done for her first Christmas, but dammit! I'm going to get it done for her birthday. She's also been interested a little in dolls and her stuffed animals lately, picking them up and kissing them, and occasionally rocking them. I cleaned up my brother's old Cabbage Patch Kid (after asking him if he wanted me to save it for future generations of his - he said to give it to Charlotte) and ordered him a new outfit off eBay. I also ordered him some cloth doll diapers, and I'll put those together for Charlotte in a little bag. Matt wanted to have some hand in the selection of the birthday present, as is only natural, but has no ideas and doesn't want to spend any money. Great. This weekend we're going to head to the nearest Toys R Us, which is forever away, and try and figure something out.

Oh, and Charlotte is now babbling, "Ma, ma, ma!" and it almost certainly means "Mumma." She also has a long drawn out "Haaaaa," which we think is meant to be "hi!" There is a word for kitty, but it is impossible to type out. Imagine if a one year old was trying to say "tzatziki sauce."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Overtired

(Last picture in Charlotte's blue room!)


Well, we're moved. It's been a crazy week and a half since we've moved, I can barely begin to process it.

To get back to my fears from before the move, Charlotte did great with her grandmother all day. Of course, of course! she took her first steps at her grandmother's house when we weren't there. I pretty much nearly cried when Matt told me that his mom called to say, "Did Charlotte ever take six steps before?" I could get nit-picky and bitchy about a bunch of the other things that happened with his mother that day, but I'm going to try and let it go. You would also think that getting to hang out with her granddaughter all by herself for a whole day on her terms would help us all get over the birthday party drama, but no. Oh well.

Our new apartment is a little basement-y, but it's so much bigger. Or at least, it's so much easier to insert our stuff and still have room to walk around. Charlotte has a ton of space in her room, and a nice window. There is a little yippy dog that lives upstairs, and she loves to hear it bark. Everytime she hears him, she does the baby sign for "dog" and gets excited. She's very into dogs right now.

I'm too tired to post much now, but I wanted to fill in the space. We're having Dress Week redux with Charlotte this week, wearing all her dresses before the summer is totally gone and they get packed up. I also just discovered this week that Charlotte can wear barrettes in her hair now, and it's the cutest thing ever.

Well, the longer I type, the less coherent I get. So that's it for now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

All this evolution, and for what?

I am freaking out. We are moving the day after tomorrow, and I think that will be okay, in terms of getting things packed and getting the truck set up and all that. What I'm really concerned about right now is Charlotte.

I'm sort of concerned that she's going to be confused and upset that suddenly her room is not her room. 11 1/2 months is a little young to explain about moving. We have explained it to her, telling her that we're moving, and that all our stuff and us and the cats will all be in a new place, but we'll all still be together. Charlotte just blows raspberries and continues smearing beets everywhere.

The other thing just completely weighing me down is what we're going to do with Charlotte during the actual move. My mother-in-law has agreed to watch her all day, which is very helpful. Unfortunately, the plan that she proposed, and that we somehow agreed to, is that she is going to come pick up Charlotte at 8:30 am, take her to her home, 1 1/2 hours away, and watch her there until 6:30 or so, when my father-in-law gets out of work, and then drive her back. I am so nervous and uncomfortable about this.

It has very little to do with my mother-in-law actually watching Charlotte. I know that even if she doesn't agree with my parenting tactics, she does respect me (or fear me) enough not to, like, feed Charlotte peanut butter or anything. But I've been to their house, frequently, and I know that nothing is really childproofed. I'm scared Charlotte is going to hurt herself because MIL underestimates Charlotte's mobility. I'm scared that Charlotte will be so excited that she won't nap or eat, and when she gets back to her new house she'll be too freaked out to sleep. I'm worried that Charlotte's recent mom-clinginess will make her sad the whole time, and that my MIL will leave her to cry it out. I'm worried that being away all day is going to exacerbate her current separation anxiety once she's back.

Mostly, I just don't want to be that far away from Charlotte for that long.

I know there are people in our family who think I'm ridiculous about this, but Charlotte is still really little. I know other people go off and leave their 3 month old baby with family for the weekend - but that's not me. I don't think it's good for kids, and I know it isn't good for me and Charlotte. We're buds. We hang out. And she's only going to be little for such a short time - I want to take advantage of every minute.

And, of course, I am afraid that something horrible is going to happen and I won't be there with Charlotte.

I've always been a worrier, but since I've had the baby, it's gone overboard. Just anxiety over stuff that I can't help - what if a car crashes into them on the highway? What if she eats something in the garden that she's allergic to and we have no idea? What if someone drops her? What if *I* drop her? What if she dies in her sleep? Just all the shit, all the terrifying things you can think of. Every worst case scenario, horror story, blog post on Strollerderby...all of it just floats around in my head constantly. I haven't been this anxious about random shit since I was in high school and constantly lying and hiding things from my mom (smoking, boyfriends, girlfriends, self-destructive behavior) or when I was in middle school and had constant overwhelming nighttime fears(mostly about aliens and alien abductions). It's not fun to be this anxious, this vigilant. I feel like Mad-Eye Moody and Mrs. Weasley had one asingle, very nervous progeny.

I think I mostly do a good job of covering it. I am somewhat nonchalant in what I let Charlotte eat (though if it's a vegetable, it's gotta be organic). I allow her - nay, encourage her! - to crawl around on the ground and pick up dirt and grass. I let her climb around her room, and play with random stuff, as long as it isn't blatantly dangerous. My sister comes over and watches her occaisionally. Charlotte is free to explore, and I let her get small bumps so that she learns to keep her balance. But still I know I seem like the most ridiculously overprotective, overanxious parent. I guess I just still can't shake the feeling that something is going to happen to Charlotte and I'll lose her. I know it's something I need to get over. You can't worry about this all the time or you'll go nuts. I think my imagination is just a touch too vivid, and that I've read to many books. I can't stop imagining what it would feel like to lose her and what I would do.

I feel like an idiot. I know this is ridiculous, and part of being a parent, and that I should just be able to get over it. Every separation shouldn't fill me with terror. I have, for the most part, realized that a lot of this is unreasonable, and I try to calm myself down. For the most part, I do a good job, I think. I mean, I know there are others out there who are more panicked than I am. Not in person, but hey, there are blogs. It's just so hard to know what's a reasonable fear and what's an unreasonable fear. And I'm sharply aware that for some poor family every day an unreasonable fear is suddenly reasonable. I don't want to win that lottery, I dread it.


So, yeah. That's my big revelation of the week. I'm a mom, and I'm scared stiff. I feel kind of embarrassed and helpless. I can't really laugh or shrug it off. I'm just one big ball of maternal instinct, constantly locked into fight-or-flight. And you know what? It's exhausting, and I can't turn it off.

Monday, August 25, 2008

crazy train.

We are moving on Saturday. SATURDAY. Today is Monday - needless to say, it's a little crazy around here. Sleep is practically non-existent. Hopefully I'll post about that, eventually. Matt wants me to do a recap of 10-11 months, but that's gonna have to wait. For now, here's a picture from Charlotte's 11 month birthday, yesterday. Will post again when I am less crazy.

Friday, August 8, 2008

And now for something completely different, I swear.

In an effort to get out of the funky/kinda-depressed/lonely/self-loathing posting cycle I've been in lately, I decided to make another bullet-point update list of stuff Charlotte has been up to in June and July. It was awesome to revisit this stuff. She's really gone from little baby to baby-with-an-agenda this summer, which has FLOWN by. We're moving in 3 weeks (!!!!) and a close, close friend is getting married in 10 days, so that's kinda hectic. As much as I'm dreading moving with an 11 month 1 week old baby, I'm sorta looking forward to the new place. We'll have a washer/dryer in the actual apartment (yay cloth diapers!) and wall-to-wall carpeting. As much as I hate wall-to-wall carpeting from an aesthetic standpoint, I think it will be awesome for Charlotte to fall face-forward on, and it will be easier to clean than hands-and-knees hardwood.

In June and July, Charlotte...

* Crawled all over the damn place.

* Made her first trip to Syracuse.

* Went to two bridal showers, a retirement party, a housewarming party, and two birthday parties.

* Met a jillion new babies. Or, you know, 3.

* Started eating tiny cubes of tofu, pears, cucumbers and overcooked pasta.

* Stopped sleeping through the night. Again.

* Started hanging out at the playground, especially with Daddy.



* Went swimming for the first time - in a lake!

* Went to Yankee Candle and had a scary fall.



* Loves bathtime, splashing, and bath toys.

* Ate out at two restaurants! Red Robin for dinner (three times!) and Sylvester's for brunch.

* Started pointing at things! So cute.



* Started using the baby sign for "more." Except she thinks it means "Snack/cheerios." So I guess that's what it means now.

* Is *thisclose* to talking - we think she's said "kitty" and "hi!". And I think she's saying "Mom" sometimes when she says "ma-ma-ma-mamamama!"

* Waves bye-bye.

* Still loves story time!

* Thinks standing and clapping is actually a hobby.

* Favorite toys are the piano, the mailbox and of course - Tigger. (as an aside, ooh, I found Tigger online! Auntie Heidi strongly recommended getting another Tigger *just in case* and here he is! I might have to consider this.)

Video of Charlotte in her playpen with her piano...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Frustrated.

I am deciding that I'm tired of all the negativity and scare tactics surrounding parenting media. I love Babble.com more than any other "parenting" site out there, but I am getting frustrated with the tone in the Strollerderby blog section. Everything is kind of tossed off casually and carelessly, with an eye to the most controversial story and thing to say. Luckily people are starting to come down on the bloggers in the comments, but I'm a little irritated. I have more specific things to say on this, but I'll get to it later.

Same thing with the attachment parenting group on LiveJournal. Super-strict definitions about what it means to be AP, with all these weird sub-sets that have nothing to do with actual attachment parenting. Panicky posts on vaccination campaigns and hysterical posts about how to talk to a friend who formula feeds. Here's a hint people - everyone friggin' knows that breast is best. What do you think a mom is going to say if you say to her, "You know, breastfeeding really is the best way to feed your child..." Do you think she's going to say, "Wow, no one has ever told me that before!" I can't believe that there is so little critical thought out there.

I don't know, I'm just tired and lonely.

And why can't I find any more summer shoes for my kid? I just want a pair of sandals in size 4! There's still a full month of summer left, not to mention that September in Massachusetts is really hot.

I just found these baby boots on Old Navy - cute or hooker? I can't decide.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekend. (Not this one, the last one.)

This is the entry I started about last weekend, before I got sucked into more family drama. This afternoon Matt is over at my sister's house doing laundry and re-arranging the basement so we can store more stuff down there when we move again, which is in just about four weeks. Eep! Charlotte is napping, and I'm simultaneously working, blogging, and making some baby food. Rice and peas, and beets, if you were wondering. Carrots, too, if I have time, and maybe some israeli couscous tabouli (minus tomatoes) for myself if I get to it.

Last weekend we went to a housewarming, and got brunch.



I'm getting blase about letting Charlotte eat bits of people's bread products. At the housewarming party I gave Charlotte a tiny piece of some sweet coffee cake type of bread, and also some hamburger bun.


(picture taken by our friend Jen)

There was another baby at the party, and Charlotte chased him around and tried to take his toys and use him to pull herself up. E is a new walker, so Charlotte chasing him on all fours was actually kind of a close race. E's parents don't have any friends with kids, so we had a pretty intense hour of talking about babies and kids and toys and all that.

Sunday we went out for brunch, well, breakfast, and Charlotte got to have some pancake, which she greatly enjoyed. The rest of the day was kind of a was - we were all three cranky and we went to a friend's house to do laundry but the power went out, and there was such a big storm and so much traffic that we didn't go grocery shopping...but we had a nice brunch.



This past week was Shark Week on the Discovery channel, something I loved forever - I remember watching Shark Week with my grandfather years ago, and him telling me about some sharks he saw on the air craft carrier that he'd been on in the Korean War. Matt and I watch the new episodes when we can, though we are both disappointed that good ol' documentaries have gotten taken over by more reality-style and list-style shows. Top 10 this, When Sharks attack that...I just want some Nova style shark info. Though I did love the Dirty Jobs episode about searching for Greenland sharks up in the Hudson Bay.

Here is Charlotte, ready for Shark Week with her new jammies.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Birthdaygate '08; or, The Family Drama Never Ends

As usual, I have some family drama. I don't know if it's better or worse now that I have a kid - on the one hand, the situation with my father's immediate family has gotten worse, but I care less. On the other hand, the little bits of constant in-law drama are much, much worse. And I DO care about that, and since we are much more involved with my in-laws than my father, it is kinda a big deal.

The current family issue is a little something I'm calling Birthdaygate '08. The background on this is that my in-laws go on vacation twice a year - they have a time share in Hawaii, and they get a favorable exchange rate on their weeks. This means that on years they don't go to Hawaii, they can trade for weeks in time shares in other places. I don't exactly get it, but let's just say that instead of going to Hawaii this year they went to Florida for a week in April, and they are going to Arizona and Mexico for two weeks this fall.

Last year they went to Florida in the fall and it was a huge deal around the time that I was in and out of the hospital and being monitored all the time because we were all afraid that they were going to induce me on vacation and they had Red Sox tickets. I'm not saying that they would miss the birth of their grandchild for the Red Sox, because that is mean. What I'm saying is that there was a lot of concern and pressure that they might have to give up their tickets and try and get an earlier flight due to all the maybe-they-will-maybe-they-won't induction nonsense surrounding Charlotte's birth. I managed to bargain with my OB practice for an extra weekend and went in to be induced on Sunday the 23rd of September, and got to go to my baby shower and also insure that my in-laws would be back in the state before the baby actually made it to the outside world.

Also, all the drama around the christening was also complicated by the fact that we wanted to have it the last Sunday of April, but that had to be rescheduled due to the spring Florida trip and Red Sox tickets. Which was fine, we weren't exactly prepared in April anyway...but it would have been a lot easier to have had the christening and party in April since I wasn't working at the time.

I tell you all that so that I can tell you this.

There is now a ton of drama surrounding the putative date of Charlotte's first birthday party. Her birthday is September 24th, a Wednesday, if I recall correctly. (She was born on a Monday and this year is a leap year, so that makes sense.) Matt and I don't want to actually have her party until on or after her birthday. Since Wednesday is in the middle of the week, we'd like to have her birthday the following Saturday. However, Matt's parents leave for vacation that weekend, to be gone for two whole weeks. This means that the next available weekend is in the middle of October, which is their other grandchild's birthday (Charlotte's cousin K). The weekend after THAT, fully one month after Charlotte's first birthday, is my brother's wedding, and we'll be spending the weekend in Syracuse. So, unless we want to have Charlotte's birthday party in NOVEMBER, at which point we start interfering with all her grandparents' birthdays, we need to have her birthday party when we want to have it, that weekend right after her birthday.

The controversy arises from a couple of things - firstly, that Matt and I STUPIDLY stated that we don't want to have Charlotte's birthday party before her birthday because it makes us uncomfortable, and that there are a number of world cultures that back us upon this tradition (esp. Puerto Rico and Hawaii, as I recall). The other factor is that my mom is going to be travelling the weekend before Charlotte's birthday, so that is two strikes against it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Because the in-laws have grabbed onto this, and are saying that we place a stupid superstition above them.

Phone calls and emails have been exchanged on the topic, and silly arguments, such as "We are more than twice your age and know of no civilized culture with that kind of superstition." This fills me with fury because their son-in-law was raised in Hawaii, and they go there all the time, and therefore their grandson is of that descent, and they apparently don't consider that civilized. Lovely. Then Matt and his mother got to have the whole exchange where Matt's mom said, "We told you we were going on vacation! You know we go on vacation on the fall! You've known for six months!" Matt retorted, "You've known her birthday for almost a year!"

The whole situation is made that much more complicated by the fact that none of this is in a vacuum - Matt's older sister and their parents have a relationship that is strained at times, and there are feelings that his sister punished his parents by keeping their grandson away from them. I don't think this is the case - except maybe as a form of self-protection, but that's the feeling that is there, and that kind of underscores every decision we make in regards to the grandparents. "Well, they didn't get to do this with K," Matt will say, and I will say, "That has nothing to do with Charlotte."

A dangerous precedent has been set. Because Matt feels like he needs to make up for what is interpreted as various slights on his sister's part, we've bent over backwards to accomodate them over and over. Unfortunately, they see it as their due, not as something special that we're doing for them. As a result, whenever our opinions diverge from theirs, they take it as a personal insult, and an added layer of "ungrateful child."
I don't need this from 2 out of 3 sets of parents - this sucks. Every time there is something special, a holiday, a christening, a birthday, we have to way out the needs of 3 different sets of grandparents, in the interest of fairness, and our preferences get pushed to the end of the list. It's easy to do that, because right now Charlotte's little, and she seriously doesn't care what happens as long as she has Mumma and Daddy with her. She doesn't know that her christening got re-arranged, that her maternal grandfather constantly chooses his second family over her, and that her paternal grandparents will never be happy with her parent's decisions. So it's easy to try and make everyone happy while wearing ourselves down to a nubbin.

But enough is enough. We are her parents, and we are allowed to decide what to do based on whatever we want. We also have to be prepared to weather the storm based on our decisions, and that's a little hard to deal with. I guess that's what it really means to grow up.

Friday, July 25, 2008

...and the downside of doing it all.

I wrote this yesterday when I was at work:

My life is just so crazy - I wish that I could take a couple days off and get everything under control. I really wish that my mom lived closer so I could drop Charlotte off at her house for 5 hours and clean and pack and all that. Sigh. I seriously have no time in my life - Whenever I'm not taking care of Charlotte, I'm working. I take breaks in those two things to eat/make food. That's it. I don't even shower everyday, and I have these thank you notes from the Christening that aren't done yet.

I never got to do that little scrapbook I wanted to do for Chris and Megan, and I have never washed my floors since that time, like 2 months ago, that I freaked out about it. Even when Matt's like, "Yeah, I'll take Charlotte and you can get stuff done," he's gone for like half an hour, and the only thing I get done is to get caught up on work or dishes. All the big stuff is still sitting out there. Now there is a nagging smell of cat pee in my living room, and I'm not sure if Maddie peed somewhere in my scrapbooking stuff.

I can't even do that stuff tonight when I get home for work because I have a dinner I have to cook (I have the recipe and I need to make it before stuff goes bad) and then I have to work a few hours tonight because I'm already a day behind and this weekend is used up with a party on Saturday that's in Eastern MA and then laundry on Sunday. Oh, and work. At least 8 hours worth.

Thursdays are the worst, because I'm sitting at work, in my controlled environment, doing my work - doing just one thing while listening to the iPod. And then when the system hangs or is slow I sit here, twitchy, thinking about all the stuff I need to do while I'm waiting for the computer to catch up with THIS ONE THING. Sometimes I sit and make lists. I try and plan out what I need to do when to get everything done, I make lists so that when I go home I, I have a plan.

I am riding the mood wave today - I wrote all that angst up above, and now I'm cruising a little more evenly. I think it's because now I'm listening to the All Songs Considered podcast, which is considerably less bleak than listening to This American Life.


I'm feeling better today; I can't help it. It's gorgeous out, Charlotte's napping, I made some kick-ass meals yesterday. But nothing has been really solved or resolved. I'm still overwhelmed and crazy and tired. And you can see it in this picture from yesterday:

Photobucket

Yesterday was Charlotte's 10-month birthday, by the way.

No plans, no resolution, and no conclusion. Happy Friday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Charlotte's fan club



This past weekend Charlotte and I had two parties - on Saturday my brother and his fiancee had a big "bridal barbeque" (or, you know, a cook-out) and my friend Kelly had her bridal shower on Sunday. Chris and Megan live out in the Syracuse area, and so do Megan's parents, so they had the party in their very large, very nice backyard. Matt, Charlotte and I went out on Friday so we could settle in a little and visit before it got too crazy. Megan's parents, Bruce and Carla, were so psyched to see Charlotte - it's gonna be a while before Chris and Megan make them grandparents, and Megan's brother is even younger, so Charlotte's all the grandbaby they're gonna get for now. They were awesome and Charlotte warmed right up to all the gushy attention.

Matt and I had been looking forward to this party for a number of reasons: pig roast, hanging out with Bruce and Carla, seeing my family, playing outside, firepit, booze, etc...but one of the other things we were looking forward to was hanging out with other babies. I think I've mentioned it before, but Matt and I don't have any close friends with babies - we know some people who have just started having babies, but no one in our immediate circle of friends has kids. Chris and Megan's friends are on a completely different timetable, so there were two kids there who were pretty close to Charlotte's age. Conner, who is 13 months, and Lucas, who is two weeks younger than Charlotte. Matt and I were looking forward to seeing her play with them and just to talk to other people who are (hopefully) as obsessed with their kids as we are with ours.

All the parents were really cool, but since Conner's mom was the matron of honor and had other duties to attend to, we mostly hung out with Lucas's parents. Lucas and Charlotte were kind of fascinated with each other. Mostly Charlotte, I will admit. Lucas's Mom, MK, watches her sister's kids, so Lucas is used to other kids. Charlotte kept pointing at him and looking at me, like, "Holy shit, look at the baby!" She also would pat his arm, and he would smile at her and me. It was truly cute. However, when it came to toys, Charlotte was much more ambitious. She went after the older baby's toys. She particularly loved his little push n' sit whatever mickey mouse thing - Conner liked to push it around, and maybe ride it. Charlotte was obsessed with all the buttons, particularly the silly little shifter. Her uncle Josh is happy with this - he thinks she might be into performance automotives. I think he's already preparing to teach her to drive standard and help her find a rally car.



We got lots of compliments on how cute Charlotte is, which is always sweet, but does leave me feeling a little weird sometimes. She was also complimented for being "good" and friendly, which sits a little better. I don't know - I know that she's just a little baby, and there isn't a whole lot to comment on, but I really wish we could avoid the whole thing where girls always get complimented on their looks. I just worry about body image and things like that so much - yeah, she's only 10 months old now, but where is the line, and when do we cross it? I'll save that worry for another day, I guess.

The other fun thing about hanging out with other babies was the whole sharing of stuff - Charlotte played with Conner's toys, MK borrowed our umbrella stroller to wheel Lucas around to convince him to sleep, we all shared high chairs. I'm such a dork, but it made me happy.


(Charlotte and Matt playing with MK and Lucas)

Sunday my sister and I headed out from Syracuse with Charlotte to go to Kelly's bridal shower. It was hot and weird and altogether a little harder to get excited about that party - we were tired and partied out, though it was nice to see Kelly's future-sisters-in-law. They and her future mother-in-law are awesome people, and Charlotte did enjoy sitting with T and D, and also watching Kelly's "niece" Sadie, who is either 3 or 4, I forget. T had actually given us Sadie's old car seat, which we just installed last week, and we love it. Somehow, even though it looks much bigger, it takes up less room in the car. And it has armrests and Charlotte looks so silly and grown-up in it, just casually draping her arm over the armrest.

The party was lovely and kind of elegant, but there were a lot of people I didn't know and Charlotte got hot and cranky and refused to drink anything even though she was pouring sweat. She then took a sip of my lemonade and spilled it all over herself, so it was time to go. We wrapped up the trip with a wardrobe change, and we took off for home.

We have four more parties this summer - holy crap.

Oh, and we did finally find a sunblock. JASON umbrella mineral sunblock, SPF 30. It smells fruity, but she wore it all weekend without a rash, through about 5 different applications. My one complaint is that if it gets supersaturated and stops rubbing in, it gets all over clothes, and doesn't actually absorb into them, but I guess that is kind of the whole point, right? And it's not JASON's fault that all my clothes are black.


(Here's Charlotte in the pool that Carla got for her and the other babies. Charlotte was the only one who actually went swimming, and she would have stayed there forever, even though she was covered in goosebumps!)

Monday, July 7, 2008

Got some posts a-brewin'.

There has been a lot of internet chatter lately (as there always is) about breastfeeding vs. formula. I have such a lot to say on the subject, and it is so emotional for me that I feel I really want to write about it in a cohesive way. So I think I'll need to work on that for a while.

And just in case there was any doubt - I am wicked pro-breastfeeding. However, I'm a lot more sympathetic to people who have problems then some other people. Like, everyone on the LJ attachement parenting group. I'm considering dropping them from my LJ friends-list because all the comments on the posts make me feel bad. Which has to do more with my own issues, I think. Not knowing a lot of parents in real life has gotten me hooked on internet communities - and internet communities tend to be a lot more black-and-white, if-you-are-pro-one-thing-you-are-con-the-opposite than real life playgroups. Not to mention my continued frustration with people who have no idea that attachment parenting is actually based on years of scientific and scholaraly research (Bowlby, Small, Freud), not something that Dr. Sears made up wholesale.

Oh, and randomly, all the people who were going to have babies have had them! Hooray! 2008 is the year of girls - I know 3 baby girls who were born this year. And one awesome boy. Welcome Riley, Chase, Mya and Anselm!

And to keep it light, at least until I let my breastfeeding angst out all over the place, here is a picture of Charlotte enjoying Grammy's garden.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Today's parenting debate: The Sunscreen Wars

The issue: Charlotte is a very, very, very fair-skinned child with light blue eyes. Matt and I both have fair skin and burn a bit in the sun, and I have sensitive skin that gets rashes randomly. It is not unheard for me to suddenly break out in a rash from a lotion or moisturizer that I've used before. Charlotte seems to have inherited this trait. A few months ago we asked our neighbor (and a pediatrician, though not ours) what she recommended as a sunscreen for the babe. Dr. Mom gave us several sample packets of Baby Coppertone SPF 50. We used this on Charlotte a couple times - the first time went okay, but the next couple times caused charlotte's face to break out in a bumpy red rash. And as soon as her face itched, she rubbed her hands on her face, making it worse. She also got bumps on her arms and thighs. So we tried another sunscreen from Babies R Us. It came with her sunglasses, which we also needed for sun protection. This sunscreen was okay the first time we applied it, but the next couple of times we got a rash again. It was obviously bothering her, she cried and rubbed her face until we scrubbed her down with some baby wipes.

So, the debate is this. What sunscreen/block do we get for Charlotte?

Matt's vote: whatever's cheap
Jenn's vote: hypoallergenic, low-chemical, mineral sunscreen
Charlotte's vote: something that doesn't give me a rash!

Jenn's concerns
I recently read two separate articles in two separate publications on how there is no FDA oversight of sunscreen. This means two things: 1) there is no way of regulating that sunscreen is as effective as its' manufacturer claims and 2) that no one is regulating how safe sunscreen is for infants. Most pediatricians are more concerned about sunburn and UVA/UVB exposure than chemical absorption, but it is a concern for me, thank-you-very-much. Babies are tiny, their systems are tiny, and the amount they absorb through their skin is proportionately much higher than the amount absorbed by an adult.

Because of this, some sunscreens are now being made to block suns rays using minerals, rather than chemicals. As my mother-in-law could tell you, minerals are very popular right now in the cosmetic industry because they can coat very finely without irritation. This forms a physical rather than chemical barrier against the sun's rays. Mineral sunscreen is the hip new thing for all us paranoid parents - but it's not the hip factor that's attractive to me, it's the less irritating, less chemical factor.

The best I can remember is that I got this info from this month's Vegetarian Times Carrot & Stick column-no link, sorry/babble.com's Droolicious column/Same Mama's Safer Sunscreens.

Matt's concerns
Anything bought at "natural" stores (particularly Whole Foods and Cornucopia) is a rip-off. Spending all that money on baby sunscreen is ridiculous. We can't afford it.

Charlotte's concerns
The last two sunscreens you guys tried on me gave me big red welts and pink eyes and I cried until you wiped it off. Coppertone Baby SPF 50 and BabyFun SPF 45, I think they were. It sucked. I was cranky through the whole first half of the Taste of Amherst. Also, I know I have light eyes and light skin and the sun makes me squint and sneeze and my eyes water - but I hate those baby sunglasses. Can't you parents just follow me around with a parasol all the time? Or keep moving the trees so the sun isn't in my eyes?

conclusion?
I realize that this entry seems unfairly weighted against Matt, but this is what so many baby debates come down to - I feel like I've done my research and I'm trying to make an informed decision about the care of our child, and Matt is concerned that we don't spend too much or get ripped off. To that I say - Hyland's teething tablets! Besides, this is my blog.

We don't yet have a decision. We're supposed to "discuss" it when I get home. My proposed solution is this - both Cornucopia and Whole Foods have tester bottles of several sunscreens. We should go and stick some sunscreen on Charlotte and see if she gets a rash. If she doesn't, we should buy it. Matt's proposed solution - buy whatever's cheap that we haven't tried yet.

Whatever we do, we need to do fast - over this long weekend I really want to get the kid outside.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The next step is sleep.

I have been wanting to post something else because, frankly, that last post is kind of upsetting. However, I haven't had much time to post anything because, once again, our sleep schedule is out of wack and Charlotte isn't doing a lot of napping or easy bed times, which means most of my non-Charlotte time is spent either working or making sure this house doesn't devolve any further into chaos.

So, in lieu of an actual post, let me now list the things Charlotte would rather do than sleep:

* Stick her arm out the side of her crib and scream because she can't roll over.

* Sing to her toys and stack Ikea faux-Tupperware.

* Scream "ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma-ma!!" Not in an upset way, in a "hey-can-you-hear-my-voice?" way.

* Suck on Tigger's ears.

* Suck on Tigger's paws.

* Throw binks out of the crib.

* Pull the tag of the playpen up from underneath the floor and twiddle it with her fingers.

* Pull herself up in her crib.

* Pull herself up in her playpen.

* Pull herself up in her crib, let go of the rail, fall on her butt and applaud wildly.



* That's my sister in the video. Little does she know that she's on the internets.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Not for the faint of heart

My sister slipped and fell while carrying the baby today.

Charlotte is fine, thank god, but Nicole's leg is scraped to hell and she was pretty close to hysterical. Matt, Nicole and Charlotte had gone out today since Matt took the day off and Nicole has this week off. I was working at home, and the three of them went to Yankee Candle. There was a crazy huge storm that was starting to slow when they got home, and Nicole slipped in her sandals while carrying the baby in. She kind of went down on her knee, then threw herself back. She insists Charlotte never hit the ground, and I'm inclined to believe her. Charlotte had some puddle dirt on her leg, but she was untouched otherwise.

It was jsut before the back stairs going into the apartment, which is where I have imagined a slip-and-fall since the first time we brought the baby home. I was working in my room in the front of the apartment when I heard Nicole scream - I ran out and Matt already had Charlotte and handed her to me to check over in the light. Her hair was wet, but it was raining, and one of her pant legs was wet. No scrapes, bumps, red marks or anything. Nicole was a mess, physically and emotionally.

We all got straightened out, but there was a fair amount of panic there. I don't think any of us handled it particularly well - I tried to reassure Nicole, look over the baby, and yell at Matt for letting anyone else carry Charlotte in bad weather. Matt was feeling guilty about that and also trying to take care of Nicole, and Nicole just felt awful. I think the three of us were still coping with the horrible visuals of poor Charlotte's head hitting the stairs, while Charlotte was standing on my lap, giggling and gesticulating.

After everything was calmer, and Nicole's wound was taken care of, and we had assured her that none of us were holding grudges, I started to over-think it. Was I too cavalier in dismissing Charlotte's possible injuries? Did she maybe have a concussion, or shaken baby syndrome, or something? Is it possible that I was being too relaxed about the whole thing? Matt and I talked it out, and we know Charlotte is fine, and we'll keep an eye on her, but that kind of fear is not a feeling that dissipates quickly. Ever since I knew I was pregnant I have turned into a worrier of epic proportions, and it's seriously exhausting.

Charlotte slept in our room for almost 8 months - partially because I do believe in co-sleeping as a tenet of attachment parenting, but I'll admit that it also had a lot to do with me being too scared to have her sleep away from us...okay, away from me. I'm hardly the first parent to say this, but seriously, one of the first things you think as a parent right after "Oh my god, this is my BABY," is "Oh my god, what would I do if she died?" And you spend the rest of your life trying not to think about it.

Part of learning to be a parent is wallowing in that fear, and then setting it aside. Yeah, it will always, always be there - and in some cases it comes rushing back with a sickening thump, but you learn to live with it. Gradually, you learn to let go and relax a little, because you just can't live like that. Then you kinda laugh at yourself that you ever were that crazy. And then there is a story on the news about some 6 month old baby who was shot in a domestic dispute, or some asshole nearly rear-ends you, or your baby starts hysterically crying for no reason and fight-or-flight kicks in and you think, "How could I have ever let my guard down?"

It's the circle of life, and it is a fucking roller coaster.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Charlotte is punishing me for going to work.

That's what it seems like, anyway. Last Thursday was my day in the office, and Charlotte started crawling. I was talking to Matt on the phone, and he said, "You better tell Nana [my mom] that Charlotte is probably going to start crawling at her house this weekend - wait, no, she just crawled!" He took a little video of it, but she's crying the whole time, and it kinda seems like me must be torturing her, so I'm not gonna post it.

Today I was in the office again. When I got Charlotte out of her crib this morning, I said to Matt, "You know, one morning we're going to come in to get her and she'll be standing up."

Matt sent me an instant message today at work that said, "you know how you said one day we'd go in and she'd be standing up in her crib? she was standing up when i got out of the bathroom." So I missed it. But Matt took good pictures.



My brain is a little fried, I don't have anything clever or witty to say. There's a lot of baby stuff on my mind - the wife of a co-worker is due at any second, and will be induced on Monday if baby doesn't come this weekend, and a friend-of-a-friend who I'm hoping to get to know better is due any minute also.

Oh, and a friend of mine at work is pregnant, and another one has a 3 month old.
It's nuts, I tell you!

I'm very excited for these folks, and it really does seem like so long ago that I was in their position. I say to Matt all the time, "Can you believe that we didn't know it was her in there? I mean, we knew it was a girl baby, but we didn't know it was CHARLOTTE." I don't know how to explain it better than that.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Next, she'll be getting a job to help with the rent.

Charlotte is growing in leaps and bounds! I just realized that she is now officially too big for 80% of her 9 month size clothes. Thank god we have so many damn clothes. Part of what encourages us to buy so much clothes is that we don't have laundry on site, and we go to my sister and brother-in-law's house or my friends Kelly and Chris's house to do baby laundry once a week or once every other week. So it's actually kind of important to have enough clothes to get through two weeks without needing to do laundry. Right.

Biggest news here is that Charlotte started crawling last Thursday! June 12, to be exact. I was in the office (thus fulfilling my fear that I will miss all her major milestones on the one day a week I have to go into the office) and I called Matt on my break to say hi. He was saying that I would have to call Nana and tell her that Charlotte might start crawling when we were visiting, and just as he was saying that, he said, "Oh, wait...no, she's crawling now. She just crawled."

When I got home that night he showed me the little video he took on the camera. "You should put it on YouTube," he said.

"I can't! She's crying the whole time! It's like you're torturing her!" The video is hilarious, but I don't think I am going to post it - it really does seem like
Charlotte's crawling towards him against her will, wailing the whole time. She has this hilarious crawl. She sort of goes into downward dog pose, then hands and knees, and then she moves her hands and kinda hops her feet forward. Soooo funny.
Charlotte did this for one whole day before she decided that not only does she want to cral TO things, but she also wants to BRING things with her. She's spent the last couple days trying to crawl with toys in her hands.

On Friday, Charlotte also started clapping, spontaneously. It's awesome and hilarious. Matt and Charlotte and I went to the new Red Robin in Holyoke with Nicole and Josh. It wasn't even open yet, but Nicole had gotten coupons to go on their training night and get a free meal. It was pretty chaotic, but Charlotte did a great job. She sat in the highchair and ate Cheerios and tried to pick our waiter's pocket. She also clapped on command - I said, "Hey you guys, Charlotte can clap now! Show them how you clap!" and she did.

This weekend we went out to my Mom's house in upstate New York to hang out with my siblings and their assorted partners. On Sunday, Father's Day, Bob (my stepfather) had invited his daughter to come up with her 8 year old.

We had a blast on Saturday. We took Charlotte to the beach for the first time, dressed in her new bathing suit that Matt got for her. We sat her in the water and she loved it right away. There was a slight meltdown when Charlotte tried to put a handful of sand and rocks in her mouth and a whole bunch of grown-ups (myself included) freaked out and swooped in on her. That startled her so badly that she burst into hysterical tears, complete with the I-can't-catch-my-breath-and-stop-crying hitching cries. She did stop eventually and I took her out in the water and dipped her down to her chest. She then happily sat on the beach blanket with Nana and ate her beach toys while me and Matt splashed around for a bit.

The whole weekend was great - it was awesome to be in the woods and hanging out with my family. Mom's house has a little apartment over the garage, so we could unpack the pack n' play and just not worry about bothering anyone with all the baby crap. The one downside to the whole thing was that Charlotte was so excited and overstimulated that she hardly napped and barely ate practically the whole weekend. We managed to get some food in her at the end of each day, but she would go from 7 am to 4 pm with just a couple ounces from her bottle and a few handfuls of Cheerios. It was very stressful to me because it was so hot and I was so scared that she'd get dehydrated. It bugs me that people get so nonchalant about it - "Oh, when she's hungry, she'll eat." No, people. That's not true for babies. Toddlers, yes, adults, yes, but not babies. They don't understand their drives or appetites yet. It's entirely possible that she could get too hungry and too dehydrated if I don't keep trying to feed her. Seriously.

All in all, though, it was wonderful. Seriously something to look back on and remember fondly.

Next post I may try and untangle the whole Mother's Day/Father's Day/expectation experience of this year, but for now, I'll just leave with a video of Charlotte's first time at the beach.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

That was a bad choice.

My sister is a Montessori teacher, and one of the things they stress a lot in that style of teaching is choices. When a kid is having a rough day, we used to call it a "fragile" day at the Children's Center. Since Nicole works with older kids, they say that so-and-so is having a hard time making good choices.

Jenn is having a hard time making good choices.

I'm having technical difficulties with work, and so I'm even more frazzled than I usually am in the morning before Charlotte's nap. And she's been really iffy about breakfast these past couple of weeks, but I really needed breakfast. So I sat her in her high chair and tried to feed her yogurt, which is possibly supplanting avocado as her favorite food. She was not having the yogurt, but it gave me a chance to eat a big piece of sourdough bread with butter. Charlotte was whining away in her chair and I was trying to hydrate when I noticed the bread crust on my plate.

You know where this is going, right?

It's a really hard crust, I'm sitting right there, it's not really a choking hazard if I make sure that she doesn't break a piece off. We know she's not allergic to wheat because she's been wolfing Cheerios for a week, getting at least 50% actually in her mouth. So I gave her the crust of bread to gum for a minute while I tried to drink some tea and get some caffeine coursing through my system. Charlotte went to town - clearly this was the most exciting thing I've ever given her. It lasted for about 2 minutes, which is when I realized that the bread was getting really soggy and would soon break off into chokable chunks.

So I took it away.

You would have thought I hit Charlotte instead of just taking away the crust. She got all upset and started WAILING. Now, I'm pretty sure this is some kind of developmentally appropriate behavior, indicating things like object permanence and some such. But it was loud and upsetting. For once, Mumma was the bad guy - and I'm NEVER the bad guy. Charlotte gave me dirty looks and kept crying and reaching even when the bread crust was in the sink and out of sight. Clearly she's beyond the "out-of-sight-out-of-mind" mentality that has stood us in good stead these last 8 1/2 months.

This is super exciting and cool, both in a mommy way and in an intellectual way. But I am feeling nervous. Charlotte's spent a lot of time these last 10 days or so making her opinions known, and I think our "easy" baby luck is starting to fade. Charlotte may look just like Daddy, but I think she's got my, um, feisty-ness. Which is super exciting and the next big adventure and all that, and I just can't wait. I do think, though, that I'm going to need a LOT more caffeine.

Monday, June 9, 2008

busy

Bullet point entry because I'm lazy.

* Charlotte started sleeping the whole night, in her crib, in her room. I'm excited and proud, but also sad. Seriously, she's getting so big!

* Her feet smell, well, for lack of a better term, footy. I've never met a baby with stinky feet before.

* Now that Charlotte has a whopping 2 teeth, we've introduced her to Cheerios. She takes her solid-food duties very seriously.

Monday, June 2, 2008

8th month update

In in May, Charlotte:

* got her first 2 teeth.

* got baptized.

* became a rolling machine - she rolls front to back and back to front, no problem.

* learned to click her tongue.

* is almost crawling - gets on hands and knees easy peasy!

* stopped sleeping through the night, oh no!

* started eating watermelon, apples and peas.

* is starting to go to sleep in her crib, rather than the co-sleeper.

* loves going for walks in the stroller.

* really loves books.

* figured out how to suck her toes.

* likes to sit outside with Daddy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I miss my baby and I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet.

Firstly, I haven't updated in a long time because so much is going on that I don't have the heart to explain it all. Starting Tuesday, I was back at work at the same place that laid me off. After about 2 weeks they realized that they really had too much work to have laid off all those people, but they wanted to wait and make sure that they would have more work, not less, by the summer. Once they got a few more contracts, they hired me back. I worked in the office Tuesday and Wednesday and today, and then starting tomorrow, it's back to working from home. So that's a big relief.

Epic fail on coffee this morning.

I didn't have time to make coffee or tea at home this morning, so I was jonesing pretty bad by the time I got to work. I put a little coffee creamer in my mug (thanks to Nate for sharing) and then poured in the coffee. The creamer turned instantly to ricotta cheese. Major curdling. I thought that was weird, because the creamer had seemed okay yesterday, but maybe I just hadn't noticed because it was in an opaque travel mug. I dumped the coffee, rinsed my translucent travel mug a few times with very hot water for good measure, and poured a mug of black coffee.

I got back to my desk and took a tiny sip, since it had been steaming hot - oh my god, it was AWFUL. Mouth-puckeringly, eye-wateringly awful.

I guess last night a few people decided to clean the coffee maker by running some vinegar through it. This is an excellent idea, it was long overdue. However, I didn't know that, and I didn't know how many (or few!) times it was rinsed out. I hadn't really smelled a difference because of two things: 1) the coffee maker is right over the dishwasher, and in my family we run vinegar through the dishwasher to combat hardwater, and I always associate dishwashers with a faint vinegar smell and 2) my head is terribly stuffy due to allergies, and everything smells kind of weird and faint.

Blech. Talk about a wake-up call.

This past weekend we visited the in-laws, and they had brought down a little tiny rocking horse from the attic. It says "Matthew" on the side, and is perfect Charlotte size! She loved it, and we got some really sweet pictures.



This weekend is Charlotte's christening. There is so much drama surrounding this event that I can't even begin to post about it. Perhaps later, when time has taken the edge off of the emotional baggage. On Sunday Charlotte will be christened at the church Matt and I were married at, and we'll have a cook-out at my sister's house for all the family that travelled out to be there. I am very much looking forward to seeing my grandparents and my nephew, so that is exciting.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Talent Show

Charlotte's new-extra-special-super-duper talent? Pulling off her socks so that she can suck her toes. She's been pulling off her socks for quite a while now, but only in the last couple weeks has she figured out that she can actually get her feet in her mouth. The other day she was so into sucking her toe that I couldn't stop her - every time I tried she'd just put her foot back in. Her big toe was all prune-y from it! So silly, and a little gross.

Since I will be working during the day again very soon, long shopping trips and walks during the week will be out. So yesterday Charlotte and I made her first trip into Amherst to take a walk and play on the common. She played on her blanket, and tried valiantly to eat her shoes. We then walked to the cemetery so I could take a picture of her by Emily Dickinson's grave, since Charlotte's middle name is, in fact, Emily. I forgot my camera, though, so I took a picture on my phone. If I can ever figure out how to get the picture off, I will post it. It was a really lovely afternoon.

I was trying to channel that loveliness at 4 am when we got up. Again.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Conflicted.

I got some strange news this week - my most recent place of employment, that laid me off just over a month ago, would like to recall me. I'm very pleased about this, because I desperately need a job, and I would be working from home again, with no loss in pay or seniority. This is great, and I'm very relieved.

However.

I am sad that I'm going to be working again - I've loved this time off with Charlotte so much. It's been amazing to just hang out with her every day, to play and be silly and go for walks and just be together without worrying about making up the time at 11 o'clock at night. But kid needs to be fed, and we need to keep a roof over her head, so back to work it is. Starting next week.

Charlotte's been growing in leaps and bounds. In fact, I suspect that she's in a growth spurt right now, or at least I hope it's a growth spurt and not some new, permanent sleeping pattern. Prior to this week she's been going to bed around 8 to 8:30 pm and waking up between 6 and 7 am. Perfect, I really can't complain. But over the last three days she's been waking up between 3 and 4 am for another bottle. Which is, frankly, not a huge deal since I'm not working. It might start being a problem next week if this is a new schedule and not just a temporary thing.

I can't really complain about *how* she wakes up, though. Charlotte is such a cheerful kid! I wake up to hear her babbling to herself and rolling around playing with her blanket or dolly or pacifier. One thing she just started doing is kicking fiercely with both legs on her bed. It's surprisingly loud at 2:30 in the morning.

New food of the week - watermelon. She's been eating it in her little mesh feeder bag, mostly just sucking out the juice. Which is funny and incredibly sticky.