Husband invested some time and money researching rechargeable batteries when the twins were born. We actually got double A rechargeable batteries that fit into size C or D casings that we also purchased - perfect for swings and later for 3+ age toys. In the last couple of months I noticed that I couldn't get the batteries to recharge. We had to throw some out.
That is pretty much how I felt too. No ability to recharge. Three kids, a job to go back to looming quickly, then femur break and spica cast resulting in a child demon who whines 24-7 I really, really needed a break. Fortunately pre-spica cast we had already arranged for my in-laws to fly in (yeah, benefit to Husband's weekly travel) and watch the kids for a couple of nights while we got away.
After Ned broke his femur I thought we should just stay home but we did a couple things right in the planning department:
1. We picked a close destination. Portsmouth, NH. We drove the minivan and our small car to Manchester and gave the minivan to our inlaws (complete with GPS to get them to our house). No flights to chase after, no concern when in-laws flight was delayed for de-icing.
2. We went during weeknights. Having Nanny April there when we left on Thursday morning and with us returning Saturday morning (we were home by 11 am). My mom agreed to help with bedtime Thursday night and the nanny stayed a little late on Friday. I felt less guilty by having the kids' regular schedule in place.
I can say this with complete honesty - this was the best weekend away I have ever had. First of all, no blackberry. I am still on leave (extended until Jan 31 for Ned's rehab) so I wasn't checking in all the time with work. Second of all, I planned some amazing meals out but other than that the only other item on our agenda - SLEEP. Glorious, uninterrupted sleep. Waking up not because the kids force us to at 6 am but because we were hungry and wanted breakfast. Have I mentioned sleep? We stayed at the Hilton for free (again, Husband travel) so that was great - we were in the downtown so walked most everywhere.
We arrived around lunch time on Thursday, stopping at Gilley's PM Lunch for an incredible burger (I rejected fries in favor of a second burger it was that good). Not quite ready for my scheduled nap we went to the Portsmouth Brewery for a beer. I ended up having two, we met a lovely traveling salesman (fancy foods) and had a private tour of the tiny brewery. Although not sampled the curried mussels looked amazing and were told that the fish sandwich is their specialty.
Nap, glorious nap. It was hard to rouse ourselves but we had dinner reservations at the Black Trumpet which was highly recommended from friends and Trip Advisor. It was great and even in jeans/sneakers I didn't feel out of place despite it being a sort of upscale wine bar. We split some amazing mussels in a beer broth and I had gumpo and Husband had fish stew - definitely a cozy sort of night. Then we hit up the Green Monkey for a drink - that was served with a little hanging monkey of course!
The next morning I dragged Husband to the Friendly Toast which had the most amazing breakfast potatoes. Then we window shopped and watched the worst movie ever (How Do You Know - do not go to it). We had early dinner reservations at Cava for our very early anniversary celebration. When I called for reservations I was told that they only have them for the Chef's Table (basically a counter at the kitchen) and I thought that sounded fun. It was amazing. The couple next to us was clearly just dating so asked no questions but Husband and I asked the Chef (who was young and cute, FYI) a ton. The food was amazing (if pricey) and we went back for a couple other options after we did the chef's tasting menu (we were torn between potatas bravas and the gnocci as our favorites). Desert wasn't so great but it was included in our tasting menu. I only passed on the scallops after one small bit (I cannot force myself to like it despite repeated tastings).
I was all for going to bed early so I wouldn't be hung over the next day but Husband thought one more drink sounded fun. We went to the Dolphin Striker which had live music scheduled. The Bobby Keyes Trio was quite good (sort of jazz/blues) but took forever to get set up and I fully admit I drank too much. It was probably the worst decision of the trip (including our awful movie).
We had free breakfast in the hotel - if I hadn't been hung over I probably would have forced Husband back to Friendly Toast.
Portsmouth is an interesting town. It is conservative and very white. But they are big into being local without a lot of crunch granola feeling that can come along with that sentiment. Unlike Newport (last year's trip), it didn't feel empty on the off-season, just quieter. I really liked it and would love to go back.
I highly recommend the paces we dined at and I am so happy we have a nice memory of this trip (if no photos since I forgot a camera). We may continue to try to get away every December or at least early January for a couple of nights. Sometimes having three kids makes this seem insurmountable but it also makes it completely worthwhile.
Special thanks to Bill and Debi, Nanny April and my mom Susan for helping out in our absence.
How do you recharge yourselves and/or your marriage?
Are you wondering how the Esqs are doing in spica cast world? We are two weeks into Ned's convalescence and are starting to get a handle on things. The first week was mostly about pain management and logistical challenges but we started coming out of our shell during Week 2 (including a trip to see Santa).
First let Ned explain what he did to himself in this short video:
I didn't teach him to say "femur" - he picked up on it when I was describing it to so many others.
1. Car Seat. There is an expensive Britax kind you can buy but we just bought this Evenflo booster seat one - and didn't use the back or arms, just seat base. It was $50 and we can use it when the kids are older as their booster seat. I didn't want to have to figure out insurance logistics since we were being released less than 36 hours after admittance. Husband picked it up on his way to fetch us. He isn't in a five point harness and that makes me nervous but we need to get up and out of the house once in a while.
2. Stroller. Our insurance does cover a huge wheelchair but luckily the Spider strollers Husband bought ages ago are PERFECT. We have two and were using one for Josephine already. Ned has been willing to sit periodically in his wheelchair but he won't let us push him up to the table for meals (more on meals below). We'll see how much we use it in the next week and if we are still only getting minimal use I may return it to save on some healthcare costs.
3. Clothing. Ned sweats a lot so thus far we've gotten some larger shirts - size 4T- boys small (size 5-6) (he's in roomy 2T pre-accident). We got two button down and two fun graphic Ts that are long sleeved and then a four pack of short-sleeved tagless shirts. The cast goes down so low on his ankles that we did buy moleskin to try to prevent bruising when he flexes his feet. I am going to see if they can shorten his right cast a little when we see the doctor on Wednesday because he does have scabbing on his heel. Currently he is willing to wear socks because he is convinced that he is wearing boots like Woody from Toy Story.
4. Seating. We tried to come up with many options. We bought bean bag chairs - two so Penny wouldn't be jealous and we have a couch in our playroom that we have converted to a comfortable nest for him. He prefers the couch in the playroom for morning and the couch in the family room for for afternoon, sometimes spending a little time in his beanbag chair at the train table. Unlike many spica cast kids he is VERY, VERY reclined so he can't really move on the floor and refuses tummy time.
5. Lifting/Carrying. The physical therapist (I had to ask for a consult) assures me that I cannot hurt Ned so we are going with it - just lifting him up. He is heavy but we are managing fine. Unlike most people we do have Ned sleep in his crib. It gives us adult space downstairs and him a chance to be in a normal environment. He does wake up occasionally crying/upset but he was always a light sleeper. Some nights have been tough (last night he was up from 4 to 6 am and then Penny woke him up at 6:30 am).
6. Diaper changes/hygiene. Our highest priority is cleanliness - any redo of the cast requires him to go under general anesthesia. I had thought this was going to be my hardest task but luckily Ned has been pretty good about it. He hates having his diaper changed and whines/cries when I do it but he is getting better about it. We have had a couple of rough "brown" incidents but I wiped out his cast and he doesn't smell. We wash him down every other night, including his hair.
7. Pain Management. After 3 days we took him off the Tylenol with codeine to help cure his constipation. He's been fine on regular Tylenol and we stopped giving him it as often without any negative effect. He will tell me if his leg hurts and I wait for him to say it twice to make sure he isn't just parroting something he heard. Interestingly Ned complained about his teeth tonight and not his leg - it's probably his 2 year molars starting to come through.
8. Food. I was told that his appetite would decrease but actually it is about the same as pre-accident. And he is a neat eater! No joke! He was always neat and it has continued so we've been pretty daring about his food - meatballs (in sauce!), rice (!). But usually it is a sandwich for lunch and I keep snacks pretty easy (like goldfish). Since his "movements" have been regular (albeit a little liquidity from juice) I haven't been too focused on fiber but he does get whole grains and fruit (not much of a veggie kid).
9. Activities. Television. Television. Television. Ned loves TV and we've been indulging him way too much. Sometimes he'll look at a book or play with a car or other toy but it is pretty short lived. He's never been much for coloring but we are trying to encourage that. Nanny April even got Ned to do a craft and we took him to Chilis. Penny has been pulling out baby toys that Josephine uses and she and Ned have enjoyed using those. Penny will often bring Ned things but he does have a short fuse. As I discuss below at "Discipline" both Nanny April and I want to keep Ned's life as regular as possible.
10. Discipline. For the first few days we definitely coddled Ned. He got to pick what the twins were eating, watching, listening to, etc. But it wasn't really fair to Penny and Ned became a whiny mess. I TRY to be better about giving Penny a chance to pick too but I have to admit I tend to convince her to go with Ned's choices if I can. When he is grumping about toys that he is playing with I do count to three and then take it away if he doesn't stop whining. For the life of us though we cannot figure out how to stop one behavior that started pre-spica cast: food hoarding in his mouth. We have done 1-2-3 timeouts - in his crib if he is being really awful and otherwise we leave the room and let him alone. I do feel for him that this is tough but he has historically been a whiny kid and I don't want that to get out of control. Any advice on disciplining immobile kids is welcome.
We took Ned on his first outing since he was put in the spica cast. To visit Santa. Yes, I am crazy but since I'm on leave we were able to go on a quiet Thursday morning around 10 am and there was no line. And the Santa was nice and looked very authentic.
I will post our final picture closer to Christmas but here is an adorable one that happened after the "professional" photo shoot.
We let Penny play at the indoor playspace for a bit after photos. I tried to take one of me and Ned while he kept grabbing for the camera.
Penny is a fiercely stubborn child. If Ned says "No" Penny reflexively says "Yes". "Stop" "Go". "Mommy does it" "Daddy does it". You get the picture. But unlike Ned she doesn't get upset when she is contradicting Ned - she just keeps going at it while he gets riled up.
She likes to lead you around the house by the hand so you will interact with her. Penny vastly prefers to play with you but sometimes she will busily have a plan in her head that involves moving items from one place to another (random to my eyes).
Penny is very clumsy, sometimes falling down while just standing.
Penny holds a grudge. If you put her in time out for an infraction she won't stop crying and demanding to be out.
And if you ask about an apology - forget about it. She is smart enough to try to avoid time outs by asking for (well, demanding) a hug. She also tries to manipulate you by forcing you to eat what she has on her plate and asking for just "one" of something off her brother's plate if he isn't eating quickly enough for her.
She has a wicked sense of humor - she takes the David Letterman approach of repetition. For example, in I Love You Stinky Face there is a mountain of hamburgers and Penny insists (to Ned's irritation) that they are cookies. She laughs the whole time when you tell her they are hamburgers.
Penny is super helpful. To the point of hindrance. She minds Ned's business as well as her own. It can be sweet when she brings him things but she hasn't quite figured out Ned's range of motion for picking up the toys she brings him. We often keep her occupied by giving her little tasks that make her happy and keep her out of the way when we are tending to Ned. She will bring toys, "cook" food on her stove, "clean up" (singing a clean up song while she does).
Penny is the slowest eater and a messy one at that! She always wants just one more sip/bite when you take her cup and plate after the timer goes off.
With Ned convalescing Penny has started to speak out a lot more. She has more space to run around like a maniac but she doesn't touch stuff the way Ned usually does. We have to be careful not to get used to that. She has insisted on taking showers instead of baths while Ned can't join her. Penny isn't as into the TV as Ned is but she will usually watch about half an hour before she is bored (unless it is Toy Story which rivets both kids).
She is much more into crafts then Ned is and is happy to sit still for long periods of time to work on crafts - provided you are right next to her.
Penny can be pretty focused on anything involving fine motor skills, like stringing beads.
She is very "girly" and loves to carry around a purse on her arm. She mothers her dolls/bears and puts them to bed and gives them tummy time.
She is an expert hand washer - not only reciting the ABCs while washing but getting every crevice clean. I can see her scrubbing into an OR.
Penny doesn't care very much what she wears for clothes but does have definite opinions about shoes and coat and hat. Unfortunately she inherited my super fine hair and so usually it is a mess. Penny insists on a barrette when she wakes up and we do her hair at the kitchen sink but after her nap it is always back to being a disaster.
If you ask Penny to say "cheese" she always scrunches her head into her neck and brings her hands up. It's adorable.
I should mention that despite my complaints about a helicopter being a total waste of healthcare dollars it was a totally cool ride. As we took off I realized a bunch of people had been watching us from the ground - wonder what they were thinking. The launch site was right next the a big lake in town so it was beautiful.
Ned was very quite so I took the opportunity to enjoy the views since I figured I would never be in one again. I would have snapped a phone pic but I think the pilots would have thought I was a callous mom.
When we got into the ER at MGH (after coming in off the helipad) we were immediately surrounded by a billion people. Ned gets quiet when he's around lots of new people so he was actually calm (or was that the fentanyl they gave him in the ambulance?). It was exactly like Boston Med with someone making sure a doctor was leading the examination. In fact, Amanda Grabowski was right outside our room but not on our case. She was just as pretty and vivacious in person.
We are viewing a very long and grumpy recovery. How do you feed a kid who lies prone? Who can't ride in a car seat? Discipline him (can you?)? Brush his teeth? Bath him? This is the age of fierce independence and I am concerned about creating a dependence. And even before this injury it was "Mommy do it!" for everything. I'll be posting on these challenges in the future.
Finally, let me say that I am thankful that we moved to Boston. Both my sisters live far from family and friends and if they had to deal with this for their children I'm not sure they'd have the same support network available to us.
Some days just go from bad to worse. Nanny April texted at 7 am to say she was sick - just what I needed after 5 straight days with my kids and a mountain of chores/errands to do. They were awful, naturally. I finally went upstairs to put in my contacts after Josephine went down for a nap.
Then I heard crying. I thought it was Penny who had been tantrumming on and off all morning but realized it was Ned. And his cry didn't sound quite right. I run downstairs and he is lying face down next to the dining room table and unable to get up. No idea what he did - but we did learn later that it was a rotating injury so his leg must have gotten caught in something.
It was no later than 8:45 am.
I scooped him up and realize his right leg/thigh seems "off" - sort of loose. And he was crying and clutching it and wouldn't let me go. It was obvious this was no "mommy kiss" type injury. After I held him and then settled him on the couch (he crying in pain with every movement) I called Husband to drive home from work so I could take Ned to the hospital. I threw on my clothes and abandoned the thought of dressing him (but did change his diaper which was still the nighttime one).
I considered that maybe it was his femur and we should call an ambulance. Just the thought of trying to get him in a car seat and to an ER was daunting. Husband came home and I called 911. They were there within minutes and I requested a local reputable hospital. The EMT suggested that if it was the femur (and he agreed it probably was) that I should go into Boston. Then he said we should medivak him out - as in a helicopter.
Poor Ned, an ambulance and helicopter ride in one day that he couldn't enjoy. I went with him in both. I also did slightly lie about my weight to the helicopter guys. I figure - margin of error, right?
It was a total waste of healthcare dollars. There was no traffic going into Boston and we ended up at MGH instead of Children's which is right off the main highway. Thank God we have my insurance - Husband's requires you to pay a % of everything (with a very, very high cap). I should have pushed for just the ambulance but I did what the EMTs recommended.
We spent some time in the ER and my friend Natalie drove over from Cambridge to stay with us. No food or drink for Ned meant no food or drink for me. He did have a femur break - a spiral one - but nothing was protruding so no surgery. But he needed a spica cast which has to be put on under general anesthesia - covering from his knees up to his chest - on both legs.
We waited in the ER from about 10 am until 3:30 pm when we went into a room. On the same floor Penny spent all that time in. Ned was taken down about 4:30 for his cast and I saw him again at 6 pm. He picked the cast color himself.
It is going to be a long 5 weeks (minimum) and I will probably have to push my maternity leave out further since it is pretty obvious that Nanny April can't do this solo. Which also probably means that we'll be paying her more overtime without my receiving any income. It is wonderful that I can probably do it but it is pricey - such is the economics of parenthood.
I would much rather me complaining to Husband over a glass of wine how Ned and Penny drove me crazy and how none of the three would nap then be researching (check out this site for some useful info) how to care for spica casts.
JoJo is the smiler in the family - her jaw seems to be unhinged as she flashes big grins at everyone in her world.
She spends a lot of time in the high chair. Not really because she is a great eater but because we have her join Ned and Penny for meals and snacks - and my goodness 3 meals and 2 snacks mean a lot of time for the Esq kids in their highchairs.
She sleeps through the night sometimes and is sometimes a decent napper. For all my crazy nap and sleep training of Ned and Penny I'm perfectly happy giving her a bottle whenever she wants one - at 2 am or 5 am - if that means we have a quiet household until about 7 am.
Josephine is working on sitting up but if you even think about putting her on her stomach she won't let you hear the end of it. Core muscles? Those are for other babies. We give her reflux meds twice a day that she hates but all is forgiven quickly. She rolls up onto her side but never over.
Those blue eyes seem to be here to stay - making her unique among the Esq kids. I see bits of Penny in her mouth but she looks mostly like her big brother Ned.
Penny happily brings Josephine toys and burp clothes and diapers and will occasionally kiss her.
Ned will also give her a kiss upon request but generally prefers to try to chase down our cat Scotia to kiss her.
We play fast and loose with Josie's naps and solid feeding schedules to accommodate Ned and Penny but she is pretty much willing to go with the flow.
We can't quite settle on a nickname. Husband calls her Josie and the kids call her Josie or JoJo and I call her JoJo.
Josephine doesn't laugh very much but she is easy to soothe. She doesn't even mind watching Curious George with her siblings.
I think she is going to fit in nicely with the rest of the Esqs.
I've been wondering lately if I am suffering from Mommy Guilt or from Mommy Competitiveness. Being on leave means I've had the chance to really connect with other moms, including stay at home moms.
My friend Nicole is an awesome cook and does such a great job providing healthy food for her kids. My friend K uses cloth diapers and volunteers for her church in addition to being a working mom (at my Big Firm) and my friend C handles her family's finances.
There are kid comparisons (and observations), spouse discussions, parenting techniques, etc. It is very useful and is a breeding ground for Mommy Guilt. Or is it really Mommy Competitiveness? I know I have a really horrible competitive streak in me - it was fostered in my childhood by my mom who encouraged my sisters and I to compete which was easy to do when we were in the same grade.
I think I need to find a mom niche for myself to tap down the Mommy Guilt/Competitiveness. It won't be homemade food or crafty projects. Any ideas for me? How do you keep Mommy Guilt/Competitiveness at bay when you are on playdates or talking to other moms?*
*And if you write that you don't ever feel competitive/guilty then I'm going to have to feel competitive/guilty about that!
Christmas is on my mind. Possibly because my mom has already finished her Christmas shopping although this year her wrapping won't be done until after Thanksgiving. My scheduled return to work date is before Christmas so I am trying to get a leg up on purchases before then (although I may be requesting to postpone my return until the Monday after Christmas).
How does your family work to save money during the holidays? In our family we are now just doing stocking presents for the children and we do a cousin swap so each cousin buys for another and no gifts are given by me to my siblings. I find Christmas gift giving frustrating because my kids don't need anything and I often find people don't look for savings when they find the (in their mind) perfect gift.
The other question I have is about your children giving gifts to each other. We don't really have a "mine" concept in our house right now. Ned and Penny play with each other's toys without labeling them. But we do label Josephine's toys as hers since the twins are always messing with them. So should I have Ned give Penny something? Will that create a "mine" complex?
And since I haven't posted in so long - here is a little peak into Ned and Penny enjoying Fall.
Penny's potty training experiment for one weekend failed and now neither kid is showing much interest in doing their business in anywhere but their diaper and that is fine - we'll revisit early Spring. But in the meantime I can't not traumatize them at 2.2 so we took away their pacifiers.
My reasoning is that when they turn 3 they will be potty trained (hopefully), starting pre-school, probably moving to "big kid" beds. That's a lot. So Why would I also want to argue with them about pacifiers? Their memories and demands are just going to get bigger/louder as they get older. Pacifiers are a bit of a secret shame of mine - they only have them in their cribs so you wouldn't know my kids were pacifier kids. Also, I am very happy that they don't suck their fingers since I did growing up and it is way harder to break.
Feeling good about being proactive and in control of a toddler's destiny (ha, ha), next step was to decide HOW to do it. I reached out to the local MOT club for advice and even got some good advice as to why we shouldn't get rid of them. Good reasons but not enough to overcome the "I don't want to deal with this when they are 3/4" feeling. I immediately dismissed the "binky fairy" because (1) fairies are kind of creepy and (2) I didn't want the kids to freak out in the morning when they were gone and (3) I'd have to get a present ahead of time. My nanny was hugely in favor of tying them to a balloon and releasing them but I was against that for litterbug reasons. Someone suggested "mailing" the pacis to babies and another suggested build-a-bear as a reward. Initially I was going to put the final pacifier in the build-a-bear and then I could remind the kids that the pacifier was close to them. Then I thought - "holy crap, what if they go all crazy at night and try to rip into the bear"? I should also point out that I think build-a-bear is a ridiculous racket and I hate, hate the place but I really couldn't come up with something better and the kids are fascinated by the store when they play at the indoor playspace on rainy days.
I bought a special Mikey Mouse envelope at the post office and for a few days leading up to the event I told Ned and Penny how they were big kids and that it was time to give their pacifiers to babies and that they would get a big boy/girl bear to sleep with instead. Ned seemed okay and didn't really engage me on it. Penny would get all panicky and ask for a "nap" so she could go check on her paci. She was going to be toughest I knew. After all, we let her have her pacifier more during the year of constant doctors visits and hospital stays. Plus she sometimes puts Josephine's pacifier in her mouth (a different type so they can easily distinguish).
Wednesday rolled around and I talked it up, took them for flu shots, ignored their runny noses and decided to plunge ahead, all mother-of-the-year style. When they got up from their naps I brought in the envelop where I had put all the miscellaneous ones and asked them to put their pacis in which they did and then we were off to build-a-bear! Ned could have cared less about building a bear because there were COMPUTER SCREENS AND KEYBOARDS (if I had known that I might have come up with another plan). Penny did okay until it was time to stuff the bear but she quickly recovered and picked out a "doctor bear" outfit. Ned cared so little that I got him a fireman one without much consultation. $64 and 20 mins later we left with these stupid bear houses that we had to manage with 2 toddlers and one infant. I stupidly forgot the camera and to look for coupons online.
Penny cried for 2 hours that night. Ned could have cared less. Husband made a rookie mistake of taking her out of her crib which just prolonged the agony. Eventually I shut off the monitor and they slept until 7 am. Nap on Thursday required about 20 mins to cry and she woke up early but that was because her ear hurt - turns out she has an ear infection (I mentioned mother-of-the year, right?). Twenty mins of crying last night and I'm hopeful that nap/bedtime will be easier today. When I checked on her last night she was hugging a different bear and sound asleep.
This week I've been spending time at my Big Firm organizing and purging my office for our move to new office space. It's been a nice way to catch up with people and take trips down memory lane of old deals while Josephine enjoys our back-up daycare center.
I was a young newlywed when I started, determined to work hard and worried about not having a "plan" for my career. My advice to every young lawyer I meet is to have an "exit strategy" - primarily because I had failed to do so. Not that staying to make partner wasn't a fine goal but to consider the work experience you were getting and how to make it work for other opportunities. My only plan/strategy was to pay off my law school loans as quickly as possible (finished January 2007) and gain good work experience. I've floundered some deciding that real estate wasn't a good fit and embracing corporate finance transactional work. I worked hard because I never had too much to worry about on the home front and my brain was rewired to love the adrenaline of deal work.
Seven years later and I feel like I'm at the crossroads again. This time I have so much more outside my job that makes me who I am. It's been a good maternity leave so far and I'm happy I have a few more months with Josephine and Ned and Penny. I'm doing a lot more thinking about my career than I did when I was home with Ned and Penny and just working 100% on being a new mom.
Another career woman told me that she attended a Big Firm panel a few years ago where grown up children of women partners came in to describe their experiences. Her takeaways were: (1) Don't say you "might" be able to make an event since then the child is looking all over for you. Either agree to go and go or surprise them. (2) Never be late for pickup. My kids are so young that my working just means they are more anxious to see me and/or have meltdowns when they do. I'd be curious if anyone who had a working mom that reads this blog has other words of advice.
In the meantime my blogging may continue to be sporadic as I'm thinking and considering what my next step should be.
This weekend we spent a few days at my parents' house in Maine, right on Sebago Lake. The kids loved spending time with their grandparents and it was wonderful to have other people to distract the kids. One morning my dad got up with Ned and Penny at 5:30 am (!) and let Husband and me sleep in. Josephine even shocked us by sleeping through the night both nights we were there (time will tell if this was a fluke).