Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas is for Giving and Figuring Out Toy Storage


I love how generous everyone was with the kids at Christmas but we have too.much.stuff. So much that my Christmas gift was these awesome bookcases (two of them) put together and anchored to the wall by Husband and his dad. They were completely filled with books (on shelves), crafts (in cabinets) and dress up clothes (drawers) BEFORE Christmas.

The kids opened everything at once but there were certain toys that they kept on playing with during Christmas day and the days that followed. In no particular order the Esq kids' favorite toys:

Buckle Bear (actually a Monkey I realized when I looked it up). Jo loves this gift from Grammy and Penny also has found enjoyment. For Jo I just unbuckle and rebuckle a million times and sometimes she tries herself. Jo also brings over any new book and demands repeatedly "read! read!" before flipping to the end and saying "all done!" That girl is one big exclamation point.

Ned is a theme kid - Cars, ToyStory, Thomas. His two favorite gifts were the Thomas ViewMaster (thanks, Aunt Rachel!) and Mack Hauler from Cars (thanks, Grammy!). Of course Ned is already complaining that he's "seen all the [view master slides] pictures already". This from a kid who will watch the same movie twice in a row. Interestingly Ned hasn't really played with the one gift he begged Santa for (Flynn from Thomas the Tank Engine) - maybe because he saw it in our home office before I had a chance to unwrap it?

Penny asked Santa for princess dolls and dress up clothes. Her favorite is the $1 crown I got at Christmas Tree Shop and the $3 plush Snow White doll I got at Walgreens (sort of like a really cheap version of this one). When I asked her what her favorite gift was for Christmas she said "having fun with everyone". Damn, she can throw a fit for an hour and be the sweetest kid on the planet twenty minutes later.


We spent much of the day after Christmas actually opening big box gifts, putting in batteries and asking ourselves "where the heck are we going to put this stuff"? I know that some moms put toys away and that sounds great in theory until you realize that your basement has no storage left from all the toys that the kids have outgrown or don't use. I'd sell or give them away but I don't want to hurt our nanny's feelings (she always gets the kids way too much) and I'd like her to baby able to take what she wants for her son (due end of January).

For the grown ups Husband got me only the things I requested/needed - a gel mat for the kitchen and a shower curtain. To some that might sound unromantic but I love a practical gift (I think the best gift my mom gave me was a hairdryer one year). I did get some Ugg boots from my mom lest you thing all my gifts were overly practical. I got Husband a cufflink storage box that turned out to be broken and will have to be returned, along with a computer game (so I can watch my "girl" TV shows). We always try to make things funny with cute gift tags - for example Husband wrote "To my dirty, dirty wife" on the shower curtain.

How do you handle Christmas toy/gift overload?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Grooving and Growing

This little girl likes to groove.


She's always been this way - just a little smaller.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Small Kids; Small Problems

When pre-schoolers are awful it feels like your world is crashing down. But those moments of exhaustion are merely physical - no real emotional needs are being unmet as of yet. Strangers are indulgent about tantrums because of their cuteness.

We have a parenting groove down - we feel like we understand pre-schoolers. Their needs are simple: Love, food, sleep, arts and crafts, books and some physical activities. Maybe a little TV.

We expect them to pay attention to carving pumpkins... for five minutes.



Ned was carried screaming the length of the mall for our fast exit on Saturday morning with three naughty kids. But this morning he completely unprompted snuggled into me and said "Mom, I love you so much".



Penny can scream for over an hour about wanting to watch Small Potatoes which failed to appear after an episode of Special Agent Oso. Penny likes to instruct Ned on how to put on his shoes and underwear. She makes up songs involving chickens to the tune of "Five Little Pumpkins". She reasons "Well, maybe..." and still calls elastics "plastics". She is a very capable little girl.



Jo is into everything - climbing, falling, bruising, angry at not being 3 yet; but when Ned and Penny aren't around she is so chatty and a little less crazy. When we are walking places she wants to hold Ned's hand instead of mine.



She likes to feed me popcorn during movie time.



We may feel like we ran a marathon when the bedtime drill is over. When it is done the kids are in bed for almost 12 hours - the house is quiet.

It won't always be this way. Growing up is a blessing and a curse.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Missing the Billable Hour

Two weeks at my new in-house position at Specialty Retailer and I am sad to say that I miss the billable hour.

What!!, you all gasp in horror. How is this possible? Big Firm lawyers do nothing but bitch about their billable hours.

Here are reasons why Big Firm lawyers should appreciate the billable hour:

1. Self-Worth. Can you measure how valuable your time is? I remember thinking that it was silly not to pay someone to do X or Y or not spend time researching coupons or best deals because my time is worth $XXX. Sure, I never actually saw that money but you know how the Big Firm values your time for a client and in turn you start to value yourself the same way. Now I am reviewing the sales circulars and putting together a detailed list for the grocery store. I pack my lunch and set up the coffee maker to start brewing at 5:30 am. Some of this has to do with the drastic pay decrease but a lot of it is because I can no longer say that my time is worth a specific sum.

2. Showing Me the Value. When you have to record your time then the partner and the client know what you've been doing; it shows how hard you've been working. Now, unless I stay late (more on the in-office culture at Specialty Retailer to come) or send a late email from home, no one knows how long I slaved over contracts to a particular contract. There is no need to be efficient which can be nice but it also means trying to figure out when enough is enough - especially when you are trying to impress a new boss (and the only boss you have, unlike working for many partners at Big Firm).

3. Record Keeping. Tracking your time means you have a good way to look back at your history - your contract and deal-making evolution. Your billable hours indicate what percentage of time you might spend on not just a particular client but a type of matter. At Big Firm if I was spending too much time hand holding junior associates I could push them out of the nest. I couldn't put off painful projects (provided they were billable) if my monthly hours were supposed to show time devoted to that project. Now I find myself putting off longer term projects in favor of ones that can be accomplished quickly (maybe I miss the deal rush?).

I actually think that it is useful for everyone to track their time to some extent but that in turn takes time so no one does it unless economically necessary (as it is in Big Firms since lawyers generate the revenue).

What do you think about the billable hour? Do you track your own time if not required by your job?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ch-ch-changes!

Fall is a great time of year to make changes, to wake us up from those lazy, hazy days of summer.

Mommy, Esq. is making a change this Fall. I am leaving my Big Firm.

I can't believe I wrote those words but it's official. I gave my notice and I'm moving in-house to a retail company at the end of the month. There are lots of pros and cons which I want to detail for my readers (do I still have any?) since this is a decision most Big Firm lawyers have to make: Do I stay (and try to make partner) or do I go (and where to? how?). If you have any specific questions leave them in the comments.

Ned and Penny also have their own changes: They started pre-school this Fall.



Jojo has her changes: She's walking and talking (a little) and a 15 month whirlwind of terror. (Don't let that Pebbles style hairdo fool you.)



Nanny April has her changes: She's pregnant and due in January.

What does this all mean for the Esqs? Tune back in soon!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Relinquishing My Role

I am a nagger. I'm a typical woman who just does whatever is on her list because it is easier to get it over with right away and Husband is a typical man who waits until it absolutely has to get done. It used to drive me really crazy but now I just do the things that I consider priorities (signing kids up for activities, keeping the "family" calendar, etc.) and let Husband get to items when he can (mowing the lawn, cleaning out the garage, etc.). He does the "important" things he needs to right away (setting up a bill to be paid, payroll for our nanny, taxes).

I've evolved away from being a (bigger) nagger also because now I usually have a junior associate or midlevel associate on transactions who just "takes care" of things for me. My involvement is more high level and I expect the associate to be sweating the small stuff while I swoop in to check on things from time to time. It is the natural evolution of "up and out" structure but sometimes I miss being the deal manager - it was one of my strengths.

We have a few hard to get to lights in the house and when they burn out Husband takes his time to replace them. I don't blame him, it's a process bringing out the ladder, having the right bulb and honestly, I don't want to do it so why would he?

Enter our toddlers. The following exchange has happened more than a few times.

Ned: Dad, when are you going to fix the the light?
Penny: The light is broken!
Husband: I'll fix it soon.
Ned: But, Dad, the light is broken! When are you going to fix it?
Husband (grounds out): This weekend.

Hmm...I can think of a few items to point out to Ned and let him keep the pressure on Husband.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Torn

A friend of mine wrote an essay that was published in the book Torn. I bought the book and buzzed through it. Many different moms contributed but the vast majority were women of educational privileges (read: ivy league college graduates) and who were either stay-at-home moms or moms who worked but didn't really have to. That is a very sweeping generalization but not inaccurate. I'm sure from the title you can tell what the editors thought the theme was.

I ended up commenting on the Motherlode about the book and I wanted to expand on my comments in my blog. I usually avoid controversy by posting cute kid stories but I feel riled up.

In books like this one I think there is often a missed opportunity to examine the economic realities of SAHMs whose children grow up or whose circumstances change. There was one essay that spoke to me - a woman who was divorced and with two almost grown kids and she was trying to work to pay the bills after being out of the workforce for a long time.

This story probably struck me because as a child I worried that my parents would get divorced (they are happily married 38 years today) and then what would happen to my mom? Even with alimony and child support it is expensive to pay for TWO households on one salary. What would she do for a job? I don't think this is the only reason that my sisters and I are all working moms but I think it is a contributing factor.

I often mentor associates considering the "balance" of work and family and ask them to consider what the implications are for relying on a spouse with a JD/MD/MBA to provide for you - not just the economic realities but contingency planning. What if your spouse is laid off, disabled or what if you get divorced? No one wants to talk about the last one but honestly, if half of marriages end in divorce, shouldn't one contingency plan?

And what about the "balance" in your spousal relationship? For all that Husband and I do to play to our strengths in household duties neither one of us feels like we have to do things because it is our "job". Are SAHM ever held hostage by their unpaid "job"? That they have to cook dinner every night or do all the errands because they are "home"? Do SAHMs ever feel like they might have to suck up a bad event (infidelity, abuse, etc.) because they wouldn't be able to have another option? I am not saying these are realities for my friends that are SAHMs but it is something I've thought of in those moments when I've considered ditching my job for the joys of "fulltime parenthood" (don't get me started on that term).

Consider also the the lost earnings for the period of time that a SAHM is out of the workplace and the missed advancements that won't be made up when you try to come back full time in your 50s. It may be expensive to think of daycare for 2 or more kids but that is not a forever proposition and despite so many SAHM's thinking that they will "find something" after the kids are in school that is not what usually happens - certainly not at the income levels that they were at pre-kids.

Consider how hard it is to opt back in or try to spin volunteer work into something employers consider relevant. Consider how hard it would be to go back to work "fulltime" - 40 hours a week for 50 weeks a year and probably a commute.

Yes, it is crazy working and trying to do what is right for your kids. As a working mom I do "miss" little moments of joy but I have no problem savoring those that I have in the morning or on the weekends (my memory isn't long enough for that many anyway). Our kids are only young for a short period of time - and while there are precious moments missed there is also valuable career development time and opportunities that are missed. Opportunities that will need to support you in your old age when your kids are starting families and working about saving for their kids' college educations.

I respect my friends who are SAHMs and I KNOW how hard a job it is. Part of my ability to work is because I truly feel like being around kids 24/7 doesn't meant that they will turn out any better (absent disabilities and other particuarly high needs kids). The SAHM phenomenon did not start until the 20th century and only for middleclass people who could afford it. I had a SAHM and I was grateful for what she did but she also encouraged (through her philosophy of benign neglect) us to figure everything out on our own - breakfasts, lunches, walking to school, homework.

With young kids they love me unconditionally. I know that one day I'll deal with a kid (or two or all three) yelling about how I missed some event or could take care of something for them. I have consciously given up going to a million school events (and my kids aren't even in school yet), a neat house, laundry that doesn't pile up, scrapbooks and photo albums and thank you notes and a million other things. I don't punish myself for my choices.

I love my kids and I work. I have a healthy relationship with my spouse who respects me more and co-parents equally because we both work. I am paying for my retirement so I won't have to rely on the government or my kids to do so.

One day my kids will join the working world and I am just as much a role model for that future as my husband.

Why should I feel guilty (or "torn") for taking care of them and taking care of myself?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trip to the Dentist

If anyone watched Veronica Mars, no I don't mean that "Trip to the Dentist". There is so much I could blog about - Josephine's first birthday, our trip to Ohio to see Husband's family*, the hell of making a true potty training push (since my whole "philosophy" went nowhere) that actually turned out to be not so bad but instead I decided to play the "Proud Mama" card and present you with:

Ned and Penny at the dentist.

After returning from our Ohio trip, Husband and I took off Thursday and Friday and kept the nanny. It was a staycation for THE PARENTS, the kids get a staycation everyday. Friday was the day I had to turn in their preschool registration packages (I was the last to pick up and last to turn in, naturally). We took Ned and Penny with us since I had embarked on hardcore potty training and wanted them to see the school they would attend when they were finally wearing "big kid underwear". Motherhood is such a psychological battleground.

Then it was off to the dentist! Based on MOT consultations and other horror stories I knew we were better off waiting until well past the 2.5 mark. And they were right! Ned and Penny sort of knew about the dentist thanks to Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer (thanks, Hermey!) and the dentist sent a cute reminder card that I talked about over several breakfasts.

They did amazingly well, despite the 30 min wait and the fact we did them back to back with one hygienist (I learned my lesson on that one - always book at the same time and I'll just bring my nanny if I need to).

They had their teeth counted (20 total for each kid), cleaned, flossed, scraped and finally, coated in fluoride. Both kids' teeth look good, which I would hope since we have them brush 2-3 times a day (and Penny actually knows how to brush, Ned knows how to bite a teethbrush and destroy the bristles in record time).

We let Ned go first:






Penny rocked the sunglasses:




We were told to floss their teeth. Yeah, I'll get right on that for teeth that will be falling out in a few years. We are attempting fluoride toothpaste but they aren't the best about remembering to spit.

No one complained and both opened their mouths very wide (we practiced before coming and in the waiting room). Penny even opened hers when Ned was instructed to open his "like a lion":



Before we left we set up their next appointment - in 6 months and all I could think was "you are kidding me, I can't even keep track of my 6 month dental visits and now I have to do this for my kids?" Wouldn't once a year be enough for temporary baby teeth?

To Josephine: Mommy, Esq. is sorry if I don't bring the camera to your first dentist appointment. I thought a pediatric dental appointment would be more interesting than it was.

* For Ohio photos click here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mommy, Esq., Watch Your Language!

I nicely let Husband sleep in on Saturday morning. My reward was kids up (all of them) at 6:30 am. I brought Josephine downstairs, Penny trailing after. I was mixing her a bottle (already down to just a small AM bottle for her!), thinking about getting some coffee going when I heard a little almost 3 year old boy whining (loudly), "Mommy, carry me; carry me; carry me downstairs!".

I shifted Josephine to the other hip and yelled, "Ned, walk yourself down the damn stairs!"

Then I heard a little girl voice from about waist-level say, "Penny walked down the damn stairs."

Yes, you did.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Debting to Know You"

I have a work retreat coming up in a couple of weeks. Two nights in a hotel, dinner and drinks, jeans during the day. Sounds awesome, right? Except the whole - still having to work for my clients while there part. Last year I squeezed in 1/2 day at the retreat and spent the rest working.

In any event, as part of our package of information we are required to submit "an interesting fact about you that many people may not know". The triplet thing is way played out (everyone knows) so I have to come up with something else.

To make it interesting I have imposed the following limitations: (1) it must be a fun fact that occurred during my tenure at Big Firm, (2) cannot be an "innate" items (e.g., triplet, family move to Hometown, MA in 1648) and (3) it cannot be something that happened to me (e.g., rode on a helicopter because my son broke his femur). It obviously cannot be something that people know about me (e.g., have 3 kids).

Ready...set...go!

[Crickets]

[Crickets]

[Crickets]

And there you have it folks! After my job and the kids there is nothing affirmatively interesting about me. I have no hobbies to speak of or passions I explore outside the workplace. Sure, in part it is because I never know when I'll have any time, but even those nights I do get home at a decent time I watch TV and do nothing.

People are so passionate about things outside of work. I'm that passionate about my kids (and to a much lesser degree, TV) but I can't seem to find a hobby or interest spark. All hobbies sound like are more work to me - probably because I found something that is a hit on my passion meter.

So I'm going to dig in deep into my past and probably write that I was a Starbucks barista (boring!) or that I hitchhiked in the Pyrenees Mountains (purely circumstantial!).

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Death By a Thousand Papercuts

Corporate lawyers often play the same negotiating game. We send out a first draft of a contract or the first set of comments on a contract that has every little bell and whistle you can imagine. Then, when the deal heats up we give in on the small stuff and focus on the big items that truly matter to our clients. From time to time you'll run into a lawyer (especially those who work for lending institutions) who refuse to back off any points. There are many drafts back and forth, lots of phone conversations but this type of lawyer fights every word and over-engineers each bit of language until you think waterboarding might be a nice vacation from dealing with the contract.

That type of lawyer is a toddler who never grew up.

Ned and Penny are two years and seven months and are exercising their independence.

For Penny that means that she wants to do everything her "self". Brushing her hair, taking off her diaper*, getting dressed, getting undressed, turning the water on, cutting her food, putting her jacket and shoes on, buckling whatever needs to be buckled. She revels in being given "tasks" to complete but expect a throwdown if you try to help her with said task. And if you are so stupid as to take off Penny's sock yourself to speed the process along expect hysterics and that you will give in and put the damn sock back on just so she can take it off again and you can get her into the tub.

For Ned that means that he will control how it is done but that he "can't" (favorite word) do it himself. "MOMMY WILL DO IT" is the constant refrain, even when Mommy, Esq. is not home. Once you have followed his instructions to the letter he proudly explains "I did it myself". Credit hog.

I have adjusted our "get out of the house" routine by building in 45 mins to get diaper bag in order, three kids ready in coats, shoes, etc. For a 10 am playdate we start this exercise around 9 am.

I know that this is their way of gaining independence and learing how to take care of themselves. We want our kids to be "good" and "obey" us because we are in charge of their care and feeding and it is so time consuming. Independence has never been gained by blindly following orders.

Husband and I have been going back and forth on this issue. He does bedtime most nights and when I come home I find out that neither kid got their stickers (see here for said chart) and that they are wearing a diaper and sleep sack and nothing else. He just "soldiers" through and forces the issue to get bedtime over with. Stickers are a failure. My tactic is to resort to negotiating.

If Penny wants to lie on the chair for her diaper instead of the floor, fine, at least it gets her in her diaper. If she wants to pick out her own jammies 3 times, whatever. If Ned wants to go to sleep with 3 books and a sippy cup of water, no problem. But the negotiations NEVER END. We do stick to just one story each and we have a routine that is cast in iron but like lawyers they see any wriggle room and exploit it to test their boundaries.

Oh, hi, Josephine - you're just going with the flow? Bless you.

I am picking my battles just like my mom taught me to. So why do I feel like I am losing the war?

*Yes, I agree, if she can take her diaper off she should be potty trained. Why don't you come to my house and convince her? "Mommy, I am only going to peepee and poopoo in my diaper." I wish her college roommate luck.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cruise Ship Barbie

Penny has started embracing being a girl. She wants to match all the time - pants/shirt/socks must be the same color. Exhibit A: Penny prefers playing with dolls over trains and cars and talks about wearing "plastic" (ie, elastics) in her hair. She puts on pretend ballerina skirts and twirls around the room. My plan was just to treat Ned and Penny the same and let the chips fall on the personality spectrum where they would. I'm not a girly-girl and I don't want to focus on Penny being "pretty" - I'd rather focus on the fact that she can't actually identify any numbers. I comb her hair just to get it out of her eyes and I'd rather worry about making sure she's brushing her teeth than picking out completely matched outfits and seeing if Kohls is carrying toddler skirts that will fit her. Nanny April loves that Penny is into girly things and I'm afraid she's encouraging it. Nanny is more apt to buy the kids blue/pink discinctions, I try to focus on neutral or buy two pink plates so Ned can have one. Ned gets all his clothes handimedown (thanks, Lori and Allie!) so he doesn't get much say. Nanny April was on vacation last week, one of her two annual cruises, and brough Penny back a Cruise Ship Barbie doll. Penny was playing with Barbie this morning. Barbie has very pointed feet which annoys me since Penny has turned into a tiptoe walker. Penny wants me to have Barbie talk to her (about her day, whatever). I hate it but I don't know how to tell Nanny April that I don't want Barbie in our house since it was a gift for Penny and one that reflects Penny's evolving tastes. Weigh in please. Is this Penny's "factory setting"? What should I say to April? How to encourage more "boyness" in my "princess" (ugh, hate that word!).

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Work Break Over; Back to Blogging

I've been back at work for over two months and obviously have not blogged during that time. I spend "quality time" with the kids in the morning until Nanny April arrives at 8:15 am. Then I get dressed and spend an eternity in traffic to drive 12 miles (!) to get to work around 9:30, sometimes 10:00 am. If Husband isn't traveling he puts the kids to bed (gets home around 6 pm) and otherwise I try to get home by 8 pm after they are in bed and traffic has died down so that April can go home and face another day with the monster twins and their happy baby sister. Obviously I have lots to say about how much being back is awful because I am working a ton, including non-billable projects (all you lawyer readers know what a pain that is) and I'm very, very rusty. The market has changed in the last 8 months and I am not up on the new technology in debt financing. But you probably won't find my not-so-very-existential-crisis boring so I'll spare you the details.

Instead, let's talk about two year olds and their senses of humor. Husband is a very dry wit sort of guy. I'm the kind of person who loves humor but often doesn't get the joke right away and is awful at telling them. I wouldn't say I have no sense of humor, just that mine trends toward the obvious.
Apparently I share that in common with the toddler set. Penny loves a good joke. "Knock, knock" I will say. "Boo-hoo, stop crying, silly!", she rushes in with.
Opposites are very funny if you are two years old. "Penny is eating dinner", Penny says during breakfast.
"No, Penny, it's breakfast" Ned yells over and over at the top of his lungs until he slumps in his chair, completely defeated by the joke and the fact that Penny won't do what he says.
Josephine kicks her feet together and reaches for another piece of sausage, shaking her head with a big smile.
How do your kids make you laugh?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Post-Spica Cast Update: 4.5 Weeks Post-Cast and "Running"

Ned has some oft-repeated phrases relating to his broken femur. "I'm fine!"; "No more broken femur."; "I'm walking!" which have now been joined by "I'm running!" He's not actually running yet but he is walking quickly and even "spinning" in circles. He can't yet walk up or down the stairs but when I take him out of his crib or highchair he will start walking instead of sitting down first.

In all honesty I thought that he'd be back to normal within 3 weeks and it has been 4.5 weeks. The doctor did say it would be a "couple" of months before he was back to his old self but somehow I was disbelieving in that "Mommy, Esq. mind over matter" sort of way. It is possible that his recovery would be quicker if we could get him outside on some playgrounds but the crazy winter storms have precluded that. My husband has been taking him to the YMCA on Sundays to give him time in the water. His legs are still skinny but he's a skinny kid. It is amazing how linked toddlers verbal and physical skills are - he's back to talking up a storm and thankfully whining less (although throwing/dumping toys) when he's upset.

Kids also find their own way to move their bodies. Ned likes to bounce up and down on a largish ball we have in the playroom and climbing on his train tables and couches. He has even tried to climb out of his crib a few times (when we put him there in timeout and he was pissed) but I'm trying to stave that off by sticking him in a sleepsack during nap/bedtime.

He wants to walk when we go out in public and I find myself with the need to explain why he is walking so slowly to strangers. "Sorry we are going so slowly, he is learning to walk again after a broken leg." I know I shouldn't.

I'm looking forward to when he and Penny can run around the house again - I have a sweet memory of them doing so shrieking with laughter and holding hands a few weeks before he broke his femur. Penny makes me do it now and I'd like to let Ned take my place.

This photo sort of sums up the Ned and Penny relationship. Ned pretty much just ignores Josephine- I think his being laid up precluded bonding time.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Man Work

Husband here...

Just wanted to share that today I did something with my father in law (or as you all know him, Bumpa) that I never thought I'd do with any man. Or with a woman or even by myself, now that I think about it that way.

I rebuilt a carburetor!

I always thought that was just something they did on old TV shows, but once we got some expert advice from a friend of his, it was actually pretty straightforward. A couple of screws, some awesome spray solvents, and some poking at clogged up holes, and I had a working snowblower again.

It was actually a fun little project. Had I been born a generation or two earlier, I could totally imagine myself as one of those greasers on Happy Days.

Anyhow, thanks Bumpa!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Eat This!

I'm not sure why we feel like better parents when our kids eat well. Maybe in our case it is Penny's failure to thrive or finding foods that are clean enough and yet tempting to a boy in a spica cast.

Ned and Penny often refuse to eat at all and Penny hasn't had a vegetable in about 1.5 years (I wish I was kidding). When Ned is upset he flips his plate over and pushes over his beverage. The crumbs, the mess, the hand washing and brushing teeth afterward. It is all a pain in the ass.

Josephine is a sharp contrast. We love to sit down at the table with her. Starting around 5 months we served her purees that she hated and tried to chew. After about 4 weeks (maybe less?) I gave up and just started feeding her real food. I made some myself (pears, apples, sweet potatoes) but she'll eat anything so now I just feed her what we feed the twins, with some supplementing or modification.



Table food this time is so much easier. And since she is at the table anyway with Ned and Penny she gets some. And she eats it all. It is a pleasure and a joy to watch her feed herself any item we put in front of her - broccoli, avocado, mac & cheese, pancakes most mornings (but sometimes breakfast bars), soup, rice and turkey, chicken, peas, green beans, the list goes on. And it is a list that Ned and Penny never eat from.



Josephine is now 8 months old. She says a "b" sound that is adorable, opening her mouth wide to say it. She loves to sleep with her lovie over her face. JoJo holds up her arms to be picked up and never wants to be left alone. Although she doesn't laugh very often or roll, she sits up very well and loves to spend time with her brother and sister.

It's so nice to have one kid who appreciates my culinary efforts. And nothing makes her happier than my pancakes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Post-Spica Update

Husband here...

Since Wife is falling down on the blogging job, I thought I'd give everyone a quick update on Ned's progress since getting the cast off.

The first couple of days, he pretty much refused to move his legs. Pretty much par for the course, from what we've read. But a little upsetting nonetheless.

By the first weekend (3-4 days after getting the cast off), he was sitting up well.

After a week (so now we're up to the middle of last week), he started crawling on his own, and he would let me stand him up on his feet, as long as I kept my arms around him.

Shortly thereafter, he started pulling up on walls and furniture, and he crawled upstairs under his own power. With us right behind him, naturally. Don't want ANOTHER broken femur.

By this past weekend (1.5 weeks post-cast), he was crawling fast, standing for long periods with some support (e.g., at the train table), and climbing out of a pack-n-play. He even took a couple of unsupported steps to go between pieces of furniture.

Today he started doing a strange crawl on his hands and feet. Bent double at the waist, butt up high in the air. Wife noted that he looked a lot like Gollum. (Bad Mommy!)

In a weird way, so far it's been like a fast-forward replay of the gross-motor progression from about 6 months - 14 months, at a rate of about 1.5 days : 1 month. Little doubt in my mind that he'll be walking on his own by next weekend.

I'm very happy with his progress.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Day Zen

Only two and a half weeks left before I go back to work and I finally found my groove. I've found patience I was afraid was gone - doling out timeouts without stress and not overly worrying about the kids and their development.

I am surprisingly calm when Husband's travel plans change a million times - yes, going to France on Thursday, no, make that to Spain on Friday, wait, Delaware on Monday, Europe is canceled. It's always last minute but instead of stressing about what it is doing for my schedule I just figure I can handle it or can ask Nanny April to stay late. I used to run around as soon as he announced his travel schedule working out whether my mom could come or if I could rush home from work. Now I figure we'll just have to pay April to stay and Husband can make arrangements since it is his travel schedule. I did my first solo bedtime in months on Monday and it was fine - and soon that will be Husband's lot when I am back at work.

I like to clean up the kids' mess so it feels like we have some adult space but I don't care that I manage to get the dining room and kid dishes done and playroom picked up while Husband fusses with the mail/bills. If he cooks dinner I am happy to clean up. I plan some meals for us and do the grocery shopping and I find I don't hate grocery shopping anymore. I didn't nag him about shoveling and he laughed when I told him I considered my nap on the Snow Day an accomplishment (it was!).

Nanny April's constant chattering and repetitive storytelling aren't as annoying as they were a few weeks ago. She does so much for the kids and I really appreciate it. And she's put up with me being home for 7 months.

During the Snow Day, I let Penny drag every book out of the playroom into the family room. And then made her (calmly) put them back. Not sure why she left the Obama book (gift from Nanny April).




I don't plan for activities (apart from 2 weekly classes we are signed up for). If I don't need to be anywhere or doing anything I can just let the constant organization and scheduling go. I'm going to try hard to do that on weekends when I am back at work.

When the kids hated being out in the snow on our Snow Day,



I just brought the snow indoors.



Even Josephine joined in.




So what if I let my kids wear PJs outdoors (why get something else wet/dirty) and Penny's hair looked like a mess all day. They ate a great lunch, brushed their teeth and napped. In fact before a nap they gave me a nice present:



Twenty minutes of no fighting or crying or fussing. Twenty minutes in which I could pick up lunch and plan naptime attack.

I know it is the best for my family and me that I return to work and that the next Snow Day will be a disaster with both Husband and me trying to work while taking care of 3 kids. But on this Snow Day the kids and I had a lovely day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Cast is Past

Ned's spica cast was removed last Wednesday and it was every bit as painful as I had feared. There was lots of screaming during the sawing and when the x-ray was taken.

video




He was calmed down by watching Thomas on a DVD Player.

He is not walking or even really moving around yet but I'm sure that will come with time. Now we are starting to get back into the groove of our lives again. All three kids are now eating their meals in the dining room instead of in the playroom or family room. We can bath all three of them (but Josephine isn't quite ready sitting-wise to join both Ned and Penny).

Five days after removal he is willing to scootch on his bottom, can stand while being held for short periods of time. We got him into his highchair and he took a bath with his twin sister. Ned won'[t bend his right knee (the leg that was broken) but he has decent movement on his left leg. He always says "I'm fine" when we move him - a nice change from "Too big" which he would say when we'd suggest doing activities while he was in the spica cast (possibly stemming from when I said he couldn't go to the airport with me since his cast was too big to fit into a 5 point harness carseat).

I had been working hard to try to discipline Ned but frankly it was tough to carry him up the stairs all the time for his time outs. He has responded by being a orange-legged Napoleon - yelling at his sister, demanding and whining about everything.

It's time to get back my energetic boy. And to hopefully get him back in the timeout groove (he used to respond beautifully to it). I hope to take him swimming on Tuesday and if we are lucky maybe he can be walking by Wednesday.