Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Time outs.

I interrupt these posts about Thunder Thighs Felix and Sticky Fingers Miles to take 1 night and 1 post to just riff on the status of Mommy.

It's like a toddler time out (or quiet pillow in our house). Short and to the point. Please don't worry--and don't leave the blog for good! We'll be back to cute pictures and a huge recap on our trip to Boston soon. I just kind of felt like being selfish and taking the spotlight for one night.

If you haven't noticed, my posts have been rather thin and anemic lately.

Fitting. Just like me.

I'm mired in my corporate gig these days, and slowly finding myself consumed by my Big Girl job more than my Mommy job. And the blog has suffered, too. I have made a concerted effort to avoid talking about that part of my life in specifics on this blog, and will continue to maintain that privacy. But let's just say that I'm getting burned out...

My deal with the time space continuum from a few weeks ago fell through, and it appears that time ticks on at the normal break neck speed it always has since having children.

And I feel like I am missing out on my children's lives working so much and don't know how to fix it. It's so much harder with 2 kids, and also my actual job's demands are growing like kudzu.

At the same time, I've been plagued with GI ailments for the past month. Convinced it was my subconscious telling me that eliminating ice cream from my personal menu was a crime against humanity, I indulged a few times in hopes it would coat my stomach's epithelium with a creamy blanket of peace. Unfortunately, nothing changed. Just peeved Felix's stomach more.  

Salmonella from cutting chicken?
Viral bug from my children?
Gastritis?
Too many cruciferous veggies?
Tapeworm?

I haven't felt his kind of sickness since my first trimester with Miles. Pause. Pick up your jaw. A) It still isn't nearly as bad as that was, and b) it would be a true Christmas miracle if I were pregnant again. I won't say it hasn't crossed my mind. I think one night I even thought I felt phantom uterine contractions. No joke. Eric laughed. And then followed with, "I better look into getting a paternity test." Hasn't TLC or Discovery done some sort of expose on women who convince themselves they are pregnant and even get a belly and have uterine contractions? Maybe that's me...

Problem. I'm not getting a belly. And I'm not having contractions. Like my first trimester with Miles, I am dropping weight like the Tongan cousins from The Biggest Loser and looking at similar numbers. Although, it's not so much 20 week hormone induced nausea as it is general GI gurgly-ness, and immediate distress upon eating.

I went into Miles's toy chest, donned his pretend doctor's stethoscope, took my temperature with his play thermometer (I'm happy to report my temp came back a lovely plastic smiley face), and figured out my diagnosis. (I'm pretty certain my Mommy degree gives me this authority.)

Breastfeeding + breastfeeding diet + stress.

Boo hoo. Poor you; losing weight without trying. Aren't you the envy of most post-partum women.

Listen, don't make me go postal on you about how it is just as hard for some of us to keep weight on as it is for a good portion of America to keep it off (and besides, my rant will probably cause me to lose another pound). I hate it. And for the most part, no one really wants to hear another woman talk about how she cannot keep weight on. Especially because everyone will look at you through a cloud of suspicion--attention seeking? Eating disorder? I've dealt with it my entire life and now just know to keep it to myself. Unless you are my blog. And then I take moments like these to vent.

Luckily, I feel like my body does a good job at hiding the loss, and I won't be gracing the cover of tabloids as Tori Spelling's body doppelganger, but the scale (which I hadn't visited for months), is not so polite. I knew that if I could use Atlanta's 5 day forecast's temperatures in place of my weight that things weren't so great (okay, so I still would need to add 10lbs), and have found myself on nightly dates with M&Ms and granola.

What's the prescription? Well, I certainly am not going to stop breastfeeding. And with the stress, it just makes me need to breastfeed and pump MORE because my supply dips. And the breastfeeding diet (i.e. no dairy) seems to be helping Felix, so I'll keep with the diet restrictions. That leaves stress. I cannot quit my job, and I cannot even really make any modifications to my schedule without compromising things like, say, my family's health insurance. And we already discussed my declined request with God to do something about time and space so I could spend more time with my boys.

More running? Hmmm...not sure that will help in the weight department.
Meditation?
Yoga?
More hot tea?

This past weekend up in Boston I was surrounded by family: parents, grandparents, great grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins, brothers/sisters...and I felt great. I still had some GI distress (but I also had some looming deadlines to meet while on my time off), but I was nourished--in mind, spirit and body. It was like an escape from the shackles of my everyday stress.

Surely the answer is not quitting my job and moving my family into my old bedroom at my parents' house--tempting as it is (I am sure my mom just had a heart attack in panic), but what I think this weekend reminded me is that I need to be better at addressing my work stress, and maybe even make difficult decisions regarding my limits at work. It's just a matter of how to execute changes without compromising the quality (and security) of my job. I'm still not convinced it is entirely possible. But this post isn't about a plan; it's first about identifying a problem. As they say, you can't fix what you don't acknowledge.

Tonight, I requested a quick "I love you" from Miles (and in the process, got a mole check. Gotta love my future dermatologist), and then tippity tapped away at my work while I listened to Daddy read bedtime stories without me. Again.

I may have given up dairy, cable TV, haircuts, styling my hair, ironing clothes, housework, applying make-up daily...but I am no longer willing to give up story time.


"Hey work? You're killin' me. I'm taking my bony little arms and placing you in time out. Don't even think of getting up until I'm done enjoying my family."

And now...back to work.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

DAA-DEEE!

Father's Day Weekend in pictures: 2010

The Boys' gift to Da-Dee: 
From Father's day weekend 2010

Fun with the new sprinkler:
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

Afternoon at the park
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

Catching rainbows in the driveway
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

Nothing says safety like playing with plastic bags
From Father's day weekend 2010

...Or being thrown in the air!
 
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

(please look at Felix. Totally unimpressed.)
 
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

Daddy Break Dancing?? Back Breaking? Breaking Wind? (Daddy would like me to clarify it is really a backward somersault off of the bed.)


From Father's day weekend 2010

Daddy's Boys


From Father's day weekend 2010

WHERE IT ALL BEGAN ...

From Father's day weekend 2010
From Father's day weekend 2010

Link to full album here

Bye Honey!

That's Miles's newest phrase. He heard Eric bid me adieu the other morning, and parroted back "bye honey!" It's just so sweet.

Miles is growing into such a wonderfully sensitive, thoughtful boy. People always ask, "oh, is he all boy?" No. Not at all. Miles would rather hold my hand and observe a situation than barrel down the road and run wild around a playground or new environment. As a born extrovert, I sometimes have a hard time with him being so shy, but at other times, I'm really glad for the most part he is cautious, thoughtful, polite, and has a sense of personal space and respect for others and other people's belongings.

I am still in awe that 95% of the time since Felix was born, he is nothing but doting and loving. The first thing Miles does in the morning when he comes into our bedroom with Eric is greet the baby and jump onto the bed and talk to him. As wild as it is having 2 kids in less than 2 years, I wouldn't change it.

Below is a montage from the past 3 days of Miles being sweet with Felix. I can count on one hand the number of times he has displayed jealousy. Now, if we could just get him to stop calling him "Baby." We're working on pronouncing "F"...

I hope in the future, my boys get the opportunity to be as good of a father as the one they have. (I'll do a father's day recap after the day of festivities concludes!)

Video notes: Generally, it's boring family video really intended for extended family as I know it will be a real "yawner" for everyone else. Eric tried to catch Miles (sans pants...not sure why. It was during a "Stay at home Daddy" day) just talking with the baby. The next clip is of the 2 boys in Miles's crib having fun, and the last bit is of Miles teaching Felix how to crawl (ignore my PJs and the HUGE globe sprinkler ball in the background--just wait for the sprinkler post. It's amazing.).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Road Trip!

Well, we made it! Our first road trip as Team Heintz 4.0. Over 16 hours of driving in 3 days with a 2 year old and 5 month old (both teething!) is borderline corporal punishment, but we survived. The trip there was not nearly as painful as the trip back, but what transpired between getting 30+ miles per gallon in the Subaru (I love our 2010 Outback) was worth every minute--FAMILY! We made the voyage to Ohio to visit Eric's side of the family and celebrate my sister-in-law's final departure from all her child psychiatry training, and to see her and her husband before they move from Ohio to Maine.

I had immense guilt the days leading up to the drive as at night I prayed Miles would miraculously decide to enjoy television and just watch it for 8 hours straight in the car. We borrowed a portable DVD player, children's DVDs, and brought along our one lonely DVD-Thomas the Tank Engine. True to his nature, Miles didn't care much for the DVDs. It's not even a reflection on his attention span as much as it is he has little interest in sitting and watching TV (unless he is puking on his Mah-na with the stomach virus.) He just doesn't do it at all at home. (Granted, while in Ohio, he asked to watch Thomas on demand no less than 20 times. Although, once it is on, he loses interest fast.) And outside of the morning news, the television is never on in our house when he is up. Instead, Miles enjoyed playing with foam ear plugs, pointing out trucks, bridges and water, reading books, eating copious amounts of snacks, creating a hair tunnel with mommy's hair, and demanding that he hold my hand--usually while I was either feeding Felix a bottle or pumping. I was like the cream in a Britax carseat sandwich "chi-chi" (cookie, if you ask Miles.).

And then the guilt really bubbled up when we were about 2 hours from home on the way back. Miles was getting punch drunk and getting way too silly for 9pm when we were convinced both boys would be knocked out. I even caught him listing all of his friends from school to the truck outside the car window. Just as he was going into "the zone" (i.e. the preamble to sleep), Felix stirred, and then they both were up. One crying, one screaming " ELLA! TILDEN! HAHN! (his word for Sean) DA TRUUUUUCK!" This time, I whipped out the DVD player, put in the borrowed Baby Einstein "My First Signs" and...

PUT IT IN FRONT OF FELIX! I almost threw up a little in my mouth. And I certainly couldn't look myself in the eyes in the mirror for a few days. The Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood would have been so disappointed. Felix actually started watching. Enter my internal struggle:

Do I pull it away because he really shouldn't have any screen time? But he's pacified. Or do I slowly move it away, pretending that I am not using it to pacify him, knowing full well that it is still within view? You know, Ali, every single second you spend debating the issue a little brain cell of his dies, and I am sure a fairy loses a wing, too.

And just as Miles saved my breast (read the last post), he saved Felix's brain and started doing the sign language with the video, compelling me to immediately move it into only Miles's range of view. Talk about taking one for the team. Not that I want Miles to have any screen time, I have convinced myself it is not as bad having a 2 year old interacting with the signing DVD than a 5 month old staring blankly at a screen.

Felix bawled.

Miles kept signing "ball" and "baby," but would also have to announce to me that he was signing it.

I started to pump (might as well take advantage of the kiddie cries--makes a better let down reflex!), and I think I cried myself a little.

Eric put on his noise cancellation headphones...

And we endured a painful final hour.

I must say that while in Ohio, both boys did pretty well--sleep was not much worse than it normally is, and Miles even took a substantial nap for the 1 day we were there! The teething got to epic proportions for Miles and I caught him sucking his thumb at one point. He has NEVER done that a day in his life. Oh, and there was those 2 minutes that he had to sit on the quiet couch.  Felix ate his weight in breastmilk, which I predominately pumped during the day, so that didn't end up being too much fun, but thunder thighs is back to his normal consumption patterns now. Although, I am going to consult with a pediatric GI specialist because this kid has more tummy trouble than I have ever seen. Fodder for another post another day.

And now, I present some of our weekend pictures and accompanying vignettes to read at your leisure.

But(t) Pies
One of the highlights of our weekend was going to a butterfly exhibit. Miles affectionately calls butterflies "but(t) pies," which makes me kind of cringe. It was one of those experiences where I kept thinking "If I didn't have children, I could get some really gorgeous photographs of such amazing creatures and plants." (i.e. I didn't take many pictures because I was so caught up in the moment with my kids. That happens these days. Sacrifice documentation for real-time experience. And believe it or not, I wouldn't trade it.) We had a great time, but it was short lived as I think it was about 90 degrees with 90% humidity.
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010

(this picture cracks me up):
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010

Incredible Hulk
Aunt Heather has the most amazing collection of puppets and toys for her work office, and Miles got to rummage through her bin and play. We had a great time with the Incredible Hulk "fists" that Miles was even able to operate.
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010

Chewy Works the Ladies
Felix chewed anything that was within striking distance. He also left a delicious trail of drool wherever he went.
From Ohio trip June 2010
Luckily, I think it adds to his appeal as he got a lot of loving from his family. We were lucky enough to be graced with the presence of his Great Aunt (who is one of my devoted readers!). I have never met someone with such an amazing spirit. She oozes positivity and resiliency. So, here's my shout out to Great Aunt E up in Ohio--WE LOVE YOU!
From Ohio trip June 2010

Another really wonderful family moment was when we were leaving, in the middle of a graduation party, and Miles was saying good-bye to everyone. I didn't know how it would go as we were leaving in the middle of a presentation, and he was 2 hours delinquent on his nap. He leaned over to his Great Grandmother and completely unprompted whispered, "I love you, too."  He's never said his "I love you, too" unprompted to anyone but me and Eric. (And yes, he adds the "too" at the end even when he is the first to say it!). It was so sweet, and I am not sure that his Great Grandmother realized what a milestone this was. The first time he ever said I love you was to my Mother (Mah-na) on Skype (after I told him to say it, not thinking he actually would), and now the first time he has ever said it of his own volition outside of me and Eric was to his Great Grandmother. Ah, be still my heart!

Fast Food and Toddler Races (No pictures for this one. Just mental ones)
We only stopped 1 time on each leg of our journey to and from Ohio. On the way up, we stopped at a Wendy's. Oh, but it was a Wendy's attached to a gas station. Yeah, the kind where we said even if there was a Koala Bear changing station in the bathroom, we wouldn't use it for fear a heroin needle would pierce the diaper, or the kids would catch some sort of veneral disease. No, seriously. Yet, we somehow felt comfortable enough to purchase food. Miles ordered the mandarin oranges, which I am sure were packaged in 1993, and I actually got a kids meal.

And then I saw Miles's eyes grow big with wonder and excitement. I could read his mind:

Mommy, what is that delicious little paper cup full of red deliciousness?

But it came out: "Mommy--Tahts Peeze!" (Mommy, I want that please!)

I handed Miles his first ever traditional french fry (hey, I already prayed he would watch TV, might as well finish the obesity equation with fast food), and he dipped it straight into the ketchup...and then sucked that high fructose corn syrup off and went in for more. He had no interest in the fry--just the ketchup.

First night's dinner: mandarin oranges and ketchup. Classy, Miles.

On the way home, we stopped off at a MacDonald's and found our way into the indoor playspace. I was confident Miles wouldn't have the guts to get on the playground, so we felt okay eating in the solarium of insanity as I call it. Miles did just sit and watch the "big boys" fly around the playground, completely unsupervised and high on Ronald MacDonald's crack food. I did want Miles to get some energy out, so we ran back and forth, holding hands, in the area in front of the play space. Another little 2 year old boy, Eli, who was part Monkey I think, joined us, and didn't have an ounce of stranger danger. I did get Miles to give him high five at every pass of the playground. And then it was dinner time. Guess what was Miles's main course?

Yup. Ketchup. With 1 fry as the vehicle for entry into his mouth. At least we brought organic apples with us and he followed up with some fresh fruit.

All in all, the actual traveling wasn't bad. It certainly wasn't good, and I do not recommend anyone strap in a 2 year old and 5 month old into car seats for extended periods of time, but even the 1 full day we had with family was worth it.

Next up? Flying up to Boston in 2 weekends for the boys' baptism.

Let's hope Delta starts serving ketchup on flights.

And to close, pictures of the 3 boys I love more than anything.  (A few more Ohio weekend pictures here.)
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010
From Ohio trip June 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Duct...Duct...Duct...Goose

Title courtesy of the talented Aunt TiTi

Lest you worry that "TMI Ali" retired to greener pastures...SHE'S BAAACK!

I make no apologies for my candor, remember? And this motherhood thing can be a lonely place if you don't reach out offer up the truth. Anyway, with all the smut there is on TV and the Internet, my content is relatively benign. Further, I still have a really hard time with how embarrassed our society is, as a whole, with breastfeeding and the accompanying realities. We need to offer up support and encouragement to mothers who decide to take on the challenge. And let's be honest Moms--it can be trying, no? Especially for full time working Moms.

I'm not a great public nurser, more so this go around because my second child does breast acrobatics and nursing sessions tend to be a full body contact sport--for both players--but I don't like how restricted I am made to feel in regards to talking about it.

If people can talk a blue streak about a tooth abscess or ingrown beard hair...then gosh darnit, I am going to talk about clogged ducts.

Another joy of breastfeeding no one tells you about.

Some may escape the dreaded "caked breast," but for others (especially those who pump), it's an inevitable. And there is no way to describe the discomfort of a clogged duct--it actually makes me want to crawl out of my skin. It conjures up words like "fibrosity" (another word I made up), "nodular," "ropey," "skin puckering," and "crustles." Okay, so the last word is Eric's. And made up. It is the most irrelevant and inaccurate word for clogged/plugged ducts, but he likes to use it to make an already experience even more painful.

Eric: "Did you get the crustles out?"
Ali: "Ew. Stop. That isn't even an accurate description of one aspect of my situation."
Eric: "Why don't you take a hot shower. It'll help the crustles move."
Ali: "Eric...I'm serious. Stop."

Hot showers. Hand massage. Wet diaper soaked in warm water adhered to my chest (oh yeah, that's totally a legit solution. Google it.). Pumping. Massage while pumping. Nursing only on the affected side. Massaging while nursing. Dangle nursing (Google it.). Squeezing.

Tried it. Tried it. Tried it. Tried it...no relief. I think I even created some sort of mammary Reiki last night. And there was one moment that I did a combined mediation/pep talk to my ducts.

I woke up this morning, day 2 1/2 of my misery, and I thought the duct was about to brush my esophagus. The clog had gotten bigger and badder, and there was some sort of duct tectonics in the works so that I had a "hemi-cleavage." I elegantly called it "shelf boob." Maybe that is what it feels like to have one of those implants?

Would it be obvious at work? It kinda felt like when you have a huge zit on your face and you just know everyone who comes in contact with you wants to take you to the bathroom and force you to pop it because it is making them uncomfortable, too.

I felt so...so...ASYMMETRICAL.

What if it never went away? I've never had one this long before. What if it kept growing and growing until it burst in one big explosion of sour milk? Oh, the images I concocted, and resultant panic I endured. I ordered hundreds of capsules of lecithin online and swore off saturated fats per the suggestion of other seasoned moms. (Might as well start that breatharian diet again. Unfortunately, I really don't have any weight to spare right now...)

Shoot. It's Tuesday night. Eric conducts his adult running group and then is heading off to Emory to run a race. Bedtime as a single parent is h.a.r.d. and I knew that I wouldn't have time to take my right breast into a time out (or in our house, the "quiet pillow") and work out her issues.

I was balancing one bottom cheek on Miles's reading chair so I could adequately rock Felix while holding a book open with my other hand to read to Miles. It wasn't a pretty sight, and poor Miles never really gets his good 20 minute read in on Tuesday nights. Felix fell asleep, so in Mommy of the Year style, I plopped him right on the floor on his tummy, turned off the lights, picked Miles up, rocked him 11 times (yeah, I am weird like that), we whispered back and forth "I love you too" 3 times, and I set him in his crib to sleep.

My shirt was soaked on one side. Did Miles pee through his pj's? He has not done that since he was an infant!

Wait...
Wait...
Wait...

24lbs of toddler smashed up against my chest DISLODGED THE CLOG!

Sweet, sweet relief.

I swooped Felix up, sat in the reading chair, got him to nurse the rest of the expired milk out (okay, not expired, but I kinda feel like it probably wasn't the freshest!), looked up to the sky and thanked God for physics/gravity/impact, or whatever force changed the course of my night.

I spent the next hour, until 8:15pm, going back into Miles's room to tell him to go to sleep. But tonight, I didn't care. I was almost tempted to let the child stay up, try soda for the first time, eat ice cream and watch Thomas videos on youtube all night.

That kid saved my breast.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

If Toddlers Ruled The World...

The only required clothing would be bows.

From June 2010

Oh, don't blame me for this one! I picked my child up from childcare looking like this:
From June 2010
I told the Director that I know the boy to girl ratio is ridiculous (like 90/10 in favor of boys), but this is no way to go about establishing a more female presence. In all reality, a bow was given out to one of the girls in his class, and she gave it to Miles (although, I am 100% confident the staff tied it in his hair.) And Miles had no intention of taking it off even as we got ready for the bath, which was delayed due to him wanting to watch the Babies documentary trailer umpteen times...
From June 2010
and a quick detour to play with Mommy's milk storage bags.
From June 2010
(Anyone else notice how toddlers delay a bath like it is the plague, but then refuse to get out once in?)

I have to make apologies for not being my articulate self today due to a recent bout of insomnia.

That's a lie.

I'm tricking myself into blaming insomnia, but remember that 7 years of bad luck with sleeping I so clairvoyantly (I know--not a word, but I'm working with both Merriam and Webster on this one) forecasted a number of posts back? Yup. We went from pulling at least 5-8 hour stretches to up ever 2 hours for the past week.

I've never wished an ear infection on my children until this Friday's ear re-check. Please, Dr. L, tell me that Felix has an ear infection so I can give reason to his awful sleep.

No ear infection. Fluid still, but no infection.

Shoot.

So--what if I just fool myself into thinking he is sick so I can find the strength to withstand the night wakings? Does that qualify as munchausen by proxy even though I am only deluding myself?

In all seriousness, I don't want Felix plagued by ear infections, but this night waking stuff has me stymied.

And exhausted.

And feeling like a bad Mommy. A really bad Mommy.

What keeps me going are these 3 boys: (insert a handful of pictures with no real theme or linkage to the rest of the post...too exhausted to even try to develop an engaging editorial. I call moments like this "grandparent moments." They don't need accompanying text or thought--images are enough to make them happy.)

Miles's newest obsession is doing Tummy Time with Felix, encouraging him by saying "Hi Baby!" in a high pitched voice. Why didn't Eric and I name Felix "Baby?" Too "Dirty Dancing?"
From June 2010
From June 2010
From June 2010
Miles asking Felix to crawl through his "Tunnel." I told Miles he didn't crawl until 11 months--don't expect Felix to show him up at 5 months. Miles didn't understand and just got kept saying "BABY! TUNNEL! GO!"
From June 2010
From June 2010
And a few shots I call "take another look"

From June 2010
Oh! Cute drooly baby, no? Sure, but you'll notice a huge bruise peaking its border out on my leg. Evidence of one of the multiple night wakings when I jammed my thigh into the corner of our bed trying to put Felix in the travel crib.

From June 2010

Another cute baby shot, right? Perhaps, but you'll notice Miles holding up, in disgust, a wad of my hair. Yup. I'm still losing it, and Miles not only likes to identify it all over the house...but he now picks it up and says "Trash." Nothing like making me feel worse about my post partum alopecia, Miles.

And a few more for good measure. The baby is stirring (it's been the requisite hour and a half), so I don't have much time!

From June 2010
Have you ever seen a balding pattern like this? So sad. And so funny at the same time.

And because I don't have enough pictures of Eric with the boys:

From June 2010

There he is--with all three if you count the infant picture of Miles in the background.

Wish me luck tonight...