Sunday, April 29, 2012

Puppy-Dog Feet, Part Two

So, my son's baby registry is still active.

I use it as a constantly revolving and updating shopping list of what we currently need for him, and how urgently we need it (LOVE their priority sort feature).

I know, it's lame.  Possibly even tacky.

What can I say, I'm too lazy (read:sleep-deprived) to create a whole new wish list to serve the same purpose.

SO... a week or two ago when I realized that NONE of JJ's socks still fit, I hit my handy dandy little "Baby List" bookmark, signed in, and ordered two different sets of baby socks.

I swear, I get a little rush every time I get to buy baby stuff.  It's like a mini-Christmas in April.

*shakes head & refocuses*

Right... the point...

The point is, now that I've had both sets for a week, it's product review time. To put the following in context, JJ has socks on most of the day and night. He seems to have inherited my popsicle toes, so unless he's having a bath or a foot massage, he's wearing socks.  Thus, the socks I buy for him need to hold up to nearly continuous wear over 24 hours, fit snugly enough to stay on, but not be so tight as to restrict circulation or leave lasting marks.

Set #1: Luvable Friends 6-Pack Fun Stripe Combo Socks, 6-18 months

                  On the site...

                                 .... On the baby!

These are your basic cute cheap baby sock.  $5.00 plus s&h for six pair.  The patterns are woven in, there's no texturing on the bottoms, they're fairly light-weight fabric, and there's plenty of stretch for growing room.  Some reviews mention that the stitching top cuff occasionally comes undone, and though I haven't seen this happen yet, I took a good look at the stitching and I see how it could, the tail end of the thread isn't always back-stitched for security.  The elastic band at the top did leave a red mark when worn as shown, but left down closer to his ankles it was loose, but still stayed on.

Set #2: Robeez 3-Pack Train Socks, 6-12 months

                  On the site...

                       .... On the baby!

These are a bit thicker than the Luvables, and as you can see they have more detailing.  They're also more expensive, $10 for a 3-pack, but so far they're worth it.  They're a little sturdier, a little thicker, the printing on the bottoms is textured so you have some skid protection, and the elasticity of the whole sock holds up better over 24 hours of wear.  The package boasts that they are "Kick- Proof", and so far the claim holds true!  The one and only con - like the Luvables, they left red marks on JJ's chubby li'l calves, but left to bunch at the ankles, they're fine.   (And they still stayed on!)

Between the two, I'm honestly happy with both sets, for different purposes.  When the weather is super cold or if we're going out and it's chilly at all, I'll go with the Robeez for the extra heft in the fabric.  They're also my go-to when JJ's going to be in his bouncer, because the textured printing on the bottoms gives him just a little extra traction.  Just bumming around the house, or it's warm outside but not warm enough for bare feet, I'll hit up the Luvables.  Between them, I've got a good color mix so I can find something that looks good with whatever he happens to be wearing, and they're all adorable. :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Off the beaten path...

Okay, departure from the norm today.

Thus far pretty much every post has been alternately gushing over or venting about my sweet, wonderful, amazing little monkey of a baby boy.

Today I'm gonna write about me. Fair warning, this is not going to be my standard G-rated post. It will be long, it will ramble, and it probably won't make much sense. There will be angst, there will be swearing, and the nasty melodramatic side of my bipolar brain is about to take the stage for the next thirty minutes while the baby sleeps.

I am a mom.  But before I was a mom, I was an opera singer.  An actress.  A dancer.  (A fat one, but a dancer none the less.)  And I miss it.  I miss it so bad my teeth hurt.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade what I have now for anything in the world.  No amount of money, fame, fortune, or stage time would ever be equal to the life that now stretches before me.

But there are still things I wish I had done, opportunities I'm pissed I didn't get to take, and things I am bloody well GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE.

One of them is shed this damn weight.  But that's an "along the way" sort of goal.  Because if it's a "required to get started" sort of goal, I'll never sing again.  I have performance wear that fits just fine at my current two hundred and twenty pounds, all the way down to stuff that fits at my "I liked how I looked then" weight of one hundred and sixty.  Yes, that's right, I fessed up to real numbers.  Because shying off the truth never got me anywhere but slowly getting heavier and heavier, and it has to stop because I'm putting my long term health in serious jeopardy being this fat.

I hate how I look.  I hate being fat.  I HATE knowing that there is one damn company in the country that regularly makes things I look good in, and they don't even do lingerie or formal wear.  I'm frankly disgusted by what I see in the mirror most of the time.  And it pisses me off, because I know that I CAN look amazing.  I've done it, even at this weight.

The problem is that it always surprises me when I pull it off.  When everything pulls together and I look in the mirror and see a beautiful, sexy woman, the kind of gal I would watch walk down the street, I have to stare for a minute just to be sure that it's me.  Because most of the time, I don't feel beautiful, or sexy.  I don't even feel pretty.  I count myself lucky to look in the mirror and consider the results presentable.

Okay, the point of that rabbit trail was that I miss the stage, and my weight has been a major factor holding me back, because of the way I look at this weight.  Well, screw it.  Fat people get into the finals on talent shows every freaking year.  If you're good enough, people stop caring that you could stand to lose the odd pound or sixty.  I miss what I do, and singing lullabies for the baby is starting to be a painful hourly reminder that I'm not doing it anymore.  So item one is to start singing something other than the Baby Nolan Lullaby Medley and get some of my old repertoire back into practice, even if my vowels have gotten lazy and I need to stand against a wall for a while to remind my body what proper posture feels like.

Another large contributor to my lack of stage time since college was the fact that we moved to the middle of BFE Nowhere pretty much the day I graduated.  Was it my choice?  Absolutely.  Would I make the same choice again, given the same circumstances, and knowing what I know now?  Probably, but I might steer us toward somewhere with a little more culture.  Maybe an actual theatrical community.  Some decent restaurants.  A museum or two.  And guess what?  We no longer live in said BFE Nowhere.  We're back in "the big smoke", as a dear friend in Australia put it recently. So that excuse for being a house-mouse is gone.

Next problem: I'm having some serious agoraphobia issues since we got back here. I realized the other day that I haven't even sat in the the driver's seat of my own car since we arrived on the third of November. I get out of the house for the baby's doctor visits and whenever we need groceries, John's available, and the baby isn't close to a nap. And I'm scared to, honestly. I've never lived anywhere with double-decker freeways before. We moved here from a town with a grand total population of roughly twelve thousand residents, about four stop lights, and two freeway exits, and I managed to get lost THERE on a fairly regular basis.  Took me six months to find the damn library.  Thus, item number two is next time John has a day off, JJ can hang with Grandma (that's what I've been pumping and freezing milk for, right?), and I'm going to go get lost a few times so I can figure out how to get to where I'm going from wherever I happen to be.

Problem number three is that I still don't know what there IS around here for amateur performers.  I've honestly had my fill of church choirs and backwoods "it's just for fun" performing groups.  Nothing wrong with either of those, but I'm looking for something with a bit more... a bit more at stake, if that makes any sense at all.  A bit more to lose if things go pear-shaped after the curtain rises.  An audience that won't clap just because they know you and it's polite.

I don't want to be famous.  Never really did want that world.  SAID I did, oh, did I ever spout that I had plans.  But when I was fifteen and said I wanted that world, what I meant was that I wanted the power that I thought came from having obscene amounts of money and being a household name in your chosen profession.

I've learned a few things in the last decade or so.  Like the fact that the sort of power I wanted, the power to say of my life "this is what will be" and make it happen, that power doesn't come from money, or fame, or even from catching the breaks and making every last one of your dreams come to pass.  Nope, that comes from inside, and you either have it or you don't, and if you don't, there's nobody can fix that but you.

All I want, as a performer, is stage time.  I couldn't care less if that stage time happens in the heart of Broadway or a small community theatre.  (As long as that small community theatre has decent lighting, manageable acoustics, and a passionate and dedicated group of people who are just as obsessed with the final product as I am! :P)  I will be quite as happy (probably happier) with a regular set in a jazz bar as I would be on a tour bus doing nightly concerts and never getting enough sleep.  I never wanted to be famous.  I wanted to make a home and raise babies, and make a little money doing what I love along the way.

And damnit, those are NOT mutually exclusive goals.

It seems like it today.

But it's not.

#1 - Sing, woman.   And I mean something other than lullabies.  Dig out your recital stuff if you can't think of anything better.  You're good.  You never stopped being good.  The people that stop and stare and look around for the radio when they hear you calming your son should be enough to convince you of the truth of that reality.  And your back will thank you for the return to good posture on a regular basis.

#2 - Learn your way around this freaking huge-ass city.  If... no... WHEN you get back on the audition circuit, you're going to need to be able to get to and from without your husband playing chauffeur.

#3 - Google is your friend.  Do some searching, find out what there is for amateur performers within an hour or so's drive, and start getting ready, because once this kid starts to crawl and doesn't need to eat every two hours anymore, you're going to have enough time to get seriously stir crazy if you don't have plans in place to keep your creative side occupied.

Okay... I feel a little better.

Not much.

But a little.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Puppy-Dog Feet

So I realized just now that JJ is going to be five months old next Monday.

José Jalepeno on the floor, when did that happen??????

Well, i decided the moment called for a new foot picture and line-up, so here they come...


12-15-2011... three weeks old exactly.

This would be right around the time the Screeching Banshee Child first made his appearance.

Made for some Long Nights.

02-03-2012... ten weeks old to the day.

He was still a pretty sleepy guy most of the time...

02-26-2012 ... 93 days.  

At this point the NB size clothes were starting to get pretty snug.

03-14-2012 ... 3 months 20 days.

This was right after our first major excursion out into the yard, 
where Daddy tried to bundle him up like we lived in the dang Arctic.

04-08-2012 ... 18 weeks 5 days.

The NB clothes have all been retired, and several 0-3 month outfits are also in the "Too Small" pile.
The 3-6s and 0-6s are now in the clothing rotation.

Today... 04-18-2012... 143 days. 

One week shy of 5 months.

I had to buy new socks last week because he has outgrown every last one of the ten pair we had.

The new ones are 6-12 month size, and fit perfectly.

I am in So.  Much.   Trouble.

On the plus side...

The new ones are super cute!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

*blinks* Is that sunlight?!?!

No, it hasn't been unseasonably gray and rainy here in the big city.

I've just been stuck in the bedroom for the better part of the last month.

Baby boy's reflux got super bad, we finally got him on meds, but it the last several weeks have been a slow progression of being held for naps, then sitting on the bed while he napped in the crib so I was instantly available when the 40 Minute Monster struck, and today...

Well.  Let me back up about 18 hours.

Last night little man got into bed about an hour later than he has been going down lately, due to poor timing with phone calls and such.  Nobody's fault, it just happened.

A very frazzled mommy snuck out of the bedroom, said "Hell with it, if he wakes up, he wakes up.  I'm gonna eat dinner at the table with my husband like a grown person."

JJ proceeded to shock the living daylights out of me and sleep like a rock until hubby and I went to bed around 10.

I think if the furnace hadn't decided to randomly turn the bedroom into a turkish bath at 2am, he might just have slept through the night.

SO ... this morning I had the same rested relatively happy baby that has been smiling at me for the past several days, and I decided to make the experiment.

I am tired of sitting in the bedroom (which has dark curtains) being a mole.  Kid's gonna learn to nap, darn it!!!!

So I snuck out after I put him down for nap #1.  To my surprise, he managed a fair hour & ten minutes.  Not the hour & thirty we've been working on, but he made it through the transition on his own!


Nap #2... Again, I quietly shut my laptop and ease out of the bedroom, still humming "Baby Mine" as softly as I am physically able.

AND HE DID IT, FOLKS!  One hour and thirty three minutes, roughly, considering that he was awake but still quiet and happy when I stuck my head in to check, which means he had not been awake for more than two or three minutes, tops.

We are now attempting Nap #3.



Fifty minutes and counting, and not a peep from the bedroom.

Well, whattaya know.  I might have a prayer of getting him on some kind of routine after all.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Nighttime Parenting" ... more like "Parenting Olympics"

SO... Yesterday was interesting.  JJ took three (count 'em, THREE) forty-five minute catnaps.  He then refused a fourth entirely, despite it being a perfectly normal naptime for m... 'er... him...

ANYWAY... he stayed awake for three hours and fifteen minutes and finally passed out on my shoulder at quarter to six.

Of course, I looked at the clock with dread, trying to figure out if I should try to get him to stay asleep, or let him "recharge" and just be up half the night.

In the end I opted to make a go of convincing him that he really was tired enough to sleep through the night from six pm.

We had a bobble (with more sleep-nursing) around 6:30, and he was SO restless I just held him.  The next two hours had a lot of comfort nursing and 3/4 asleep trips to Mommy's shoulder for burps, but by nine he was back in the cosleeper.

I inhaled dinner, and good thing because he was reflux-fussing again at ten thirty.  After that one I just gave up on the Arm's Reach and kept him on me for the night.  Oh the gymnastics I tried in order to get that kid to stay asleep!  I suppose this is a preview of coming attractions, anytime he's teething or sick.

I doubt I got thirty minutes of continuous sleep all night.

My reward?

Thirteen hours and thirty minutes of baby sleep, inclusive of nursing/burping/eeeeeeeaaasing down to the mattress and praying he stays down this time.

And this morning...

Rested, active, happy baby boy.

So totally worth it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Parenting Mindset, Part Two: Finding Another Way

Part One Recap: I don't want to spank, Time-Outs a la SuperNanny make me cringe, and I distinctly remember from my own childhood that losing a toy, a privilege, a special outing, or personal property was a supremely ineffective deterrent in the long run.  It usually just made me determined not to get caught the next time.

So what else is there?

There's the "Now, Jenny, you need to use your indoor voice", as the child is standing in her chair in a crowded restaurant throwing a tantrum. The siblings chasing each other through a store and knocking over a display, heedless of Mother's pleas that they stop behaving like wild animals.  The punk on the street corner giving his momma lip, blowing off his school work, and generally giving teenagers a bad name.

Don't lie, we've all seen it and judged. Said to ourselves, "That child is going to grow up to be more trouble than she's worth." or "His momma must not have whopped his butt often enough when he was a youngun'." I'm just as guilty as the next person. And while I now appreciate the potential situations from a new viewpoint, I'm still going to ask for a new seat if there is a screeching toddler at the next table.

So I don't want that either.

It seemed, as I began to read and look, that there really were only those two options.  For the sake of having labels to use, punitive parenting styles and permissive parenting styles.  There's "obey or else" parenting at one extreme, overwhelmed or just uninvolved parents at the other, and a whole host of self-proclaimed parenting experts somewhere in between.  But in the end they all come down to the adversarial paradigm with which our culture approaches child-rearing, either by upholding that constant battle as "the way it has to be", or by rejecting even the language of control for fear of impinging on another's free will.

Well, then.

Par for the course, I decided that since I didn't like either of the two options available to me, I was going to keep looking until I found something better. (Remind me to tell you folks about HypnoBabies sometime.) The Attachment Parenting boards I had already found didn't seem to be much help, since so many of the mamas seemed to run out of useful advice as their kids got older. I was having trouble finding much on how to use AP-style thinking effectively with toddlers, older children, teens, until I clicked a link in someone's signature and ended up on Arms of Love Family Fellowship and Gentle Christian Mothers.

Mind. Blown. Seriously. I'm going to attempt to explain, but please, check these sites out for yourself.

Arms of Love is a ministry devoted to the explanation and facilitation of Grace-Based Discipline, "a parenting style ... rooted in the New Testament teachings of Grace", and GCM is the associated web community.   The founder, Crystal Lutton, is Senior Pastor of her congregation, and let me tell you, this woman has done her research, both in spiritual sources and in the realms of child psychology and development.

The more I read on both sites, the more I found myself saying "YES!!  That, that right there!"  I also began to find more and more of my underlying ideas about parenting and relationships being called into question.  I knew, for example, that I wanted to keep spanking as a last resort but pretty much expected to "have to" issue a swat here or there to nip disrespect and disobedience in the bud early on.  Grace-Based Discipline uses a number of entirely different tools, some of which I knew, others I didn't, but with an underlying philosophy that children are people too.  As their parents it is our job to a) set them up to succeed by seeing to it that their physical and emotional needs are met, b) provide them with tools for dealing with their problems in an acceptable way, and c) model the use of those tools so that our children see that they really do work.

Quick sidebar: This was my problem with "No hitting!" followed by a swat. It's a logical inconsistency, and children are itty bitty learning machines that will default to actions rather than words. To those who say that spanking doesn't teach children to hit, I say this: It sure taught me to hit. A discussion for another time, but I learned that hitting was okay if you were the one in charge, and I learned it so well that I still have to fight that reflex when something doesn't happen the way I think it should.

Now, as I read more about GBD and what it was NOT (time-outs, spanking, shaming, etc), the question occurred as it always does.  "This sounds really great, but what does it look like in practical application?"

It's a lot a lot a LOT of work.

"But parenting IS work!" I hear you thinking. Yup. But some ways are more proactive than others, and GBD is a wear your sneakers, eat your wheaties, and prepare to get messy sort of parenting.

It's recognizing that a very articulate three year old is still a baby in many many ways, and not expecting her to behave 24/7 like the miniature adult she seems to be sometimes.

It's saying "You're frustrated because brother took your toy. You may be frustrated, but you may not hit." and removing the child to a place where he or she can play with a bit more supervision. Reverse to brother: "I know it's annoying when sister keeps poking you with her toy. It's fine to be annoyed, but it's not okay to take her toy. Next time call for mama, and I will help.", and removing sister to a place where she can play without disturbing brother.

It is lovingly returning a potty-training child to diapers after the second accident of the day, without making any sort of "What a naughty boy! Only babies potty in their pants!" sort of comments. Then you take a look at what the kid's eaten, their stress level, if something has changed recently, if they might be getting sick, etc, and see if there is a hurdle or two you can remove for them tomorrow.

It is being prepared to physically step in a LOT when they are small and make your instructions come to pass. Gently and with love, but make it happen, and don't give an instruction you aren't prepared to make a reality. The idea being that the subconscious mind will note that every time a parent gives an instruction, it does eventually happen, and in fact it may be physically impossible not to comply. As one poster on GCM put it, it's kind of like Jonah going to Ninevah. He can go on his own, or he can go in the belly of the fish, but he is gonna go!

It is protecting children from natural consequences until they are developmentally able to process those consequences and learn from them. A toddler can be scooped up or taken by the hand to stop them running on the wet sidewalk. A seven year old can skid out, get a skinned knee, and let the natural consequence teach the lesson that listening to Mama's words did not.

Obviously there is a lot more to it than this, much more than I could ever summarize in one blog post. Of particular interest to me were Crystal Lutton's articles on spanking, it's history, and how she addresses the "Rod Scriptures" so often referenced by Christian parents and pastors to justify spanking, even present it as something you MUST do in order to assure your children's salvation. (Link is to a topic page, several articles are in the associated drop down... oh just browse the site, you'll get the idea!!) It was the level of research and careful thought that went into those articles went a long way toward convincing me that this woman was onto something, and it was worth my time to keep reading. Grace-Based Discipline has implications reaching into all aspects of parenting, with all ages and ability-levels of children, even into the relationship between Mum & Dad!

The end result is that I am sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for membership registration on GCM to open up on the 16th. I have found another way, one that makes sense to me and is backed by both Scripture and child development research, and I'm going to run with it. I know that as JJ gets older I will make mistakes, probably slip back into the old ways more often than I will care to admit to later, but right now it's enough for me to know that there IS another way, and that I found it in time to start right from the beginning with my babies.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


For your dose of ultimate cuteness today, I present to you...


He's been doing this for a month, easy, and I finally got it on camera!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Of Reflux and Its Treatment

Breaking up the Parenting Mindset posts for a quick update.

So, it's been a rough ... month... over here.  JJ's reflux kicked into high gear, he was again insisting on being held for the duration of all naps if I wanted him to stay down longer than twenty minutes, and he was suddenly waking every 2 hours all night long to take a full feed and go back to bed.  He didn't wake that often when he WAS a newborn!  I finally said ENOUGH, found a new doctor (the third), got her approved by our insurance, and took the kid in on Monday.  Five minutes of conversation and she shook her head and said "Colic???  No, you're absolutely right, he has reflux."  Baby boy is now on Zantac.  After the first dose, he took a two hour nap alone in his crib.  He only woke to feed once that night.  The next night he slept 10.5 hours straight.  As I am typing this, he is sleeping calmly three feet away.  A week ago the sound of the keyboard would have woken him instantly.

My precious baby suffered with near constant pain for three months, because I believed the doctor who said "It's just colic, he's fine, he'll grow out of it."  And then I believed my mother in law when she said "Any doctor you go to will tell you the same thing."  Especially after another family doctor and the doctor at the ER both did exactly that.  Three months.  Because I didn't trust my instincts and my research and make enough noise until his night sleep became as disrupted as his naps.

That's not on the doctors, folks.  That one's on me. I don't even want to think about the damage that might have occurred had the problem been something more serious.

New Mommy Lesson: If you KNOW down to the bottom of your soul that there is something wrong with your child, stick to your damn guns and keep at the doctors until someone gives you a real answer.  You don't have to be rude or obnoxious or in people's faces, just persistent.

I seem to remember a passage about a woman who came to visit a king every day, pleading her case, until he got so tired of hearing her that he fixed her problem just so that she would go away.

Persistence has its uses.