Monday, April 30, 2012

Random Monday Update

We took the dogs for a little mini-vacation this weekend at a pet hotel. When I was picking them up this morning, I saw these two things that made me laugh out loud:

Why yes, that is a "Bone Booth" where the staff will bring your pet to the phone if you'd like to them? Hilarious, right?

And a new friend joined the family yesterday. Meet Henry the Owl:

This is the Ok to Wake alarm clock buddy I bought to try with Brighton. You set the approved wake-up time using the control panel. If  When your child wakes up in the night, s(he) can press the owl's tummy and if it's not time to get up, his face glows orange, he says "Go back to sleep," and plays music (you can choose how long the glowing face/music lasts for). When it is your previously-ok'ed time to wake up in the morning, the owl's face glows green and he says "it's ok to get up now."

We had a slight hiccup when Brighton called me back to her room a few times last night because she wanted me to turn Henry's face green, but she settled down to the music after a few explanations about when his face would be green. She woke up at 4 to go potty and did come to get me, but it eliminated the battle about going back to bed when she could see that Henry's face was not green yet, rather than me just telling her it was too early to be up. At 6:47 or so, she burst into our room with Henry exclaiming about how his face was green and it was time to get up! Overall a great success. Once we get into a rhythm I think I'll be able to shift the wake-up time back a little too and maybe get her back to staying in bed til 7:30. Highly recommend this cute guy.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Because Why Else Would I Keep it for Nine Years?

Today, halfway through my crazy day, I snuck into my bedroom and put on my wedding dress. 

Nine years ago today, friends and family came from three different countries (four if you count Alaska, which should totally BE a different country) to bear witness to our commitment to one another.

Nine years ago today, I said vows that I have kept and will keep, and enjoyed one of the best celebrations of my life. The success of the day was owed almost entirely to my big sister, who coordinated all of the details while I was still in England.

Nine years ago today I was 22 years old. I had fewer lines on my face, highlights in my hair, freshly manicured nails and an even tan. I was not yet a wife and not yet a mother. Today I eyed the sample pot of wrinkle cream in my bathroom drawer, showered in 3 minutes, my nails are short and cuticles chewed and I will never have a line-free tan again. I feel like I've put a lot of miles on the clock since 2003, but life has a richness and a depth I had no idea would exist.

I can't wait to see what additional adventures we've had in another nine years.

Happy anniversary to my other half.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Room for Two

I cleaned up the kids' playroom the other day and figured I might as well post some pictures of the finished product while it looked nice. I'm pretty proud of what I managed to do with a fairly uninspiring room and a small budget...

This is what I started with:

And here's some features of the finished product (courtesy of iPhone camera so not the best quality):

Reading chair and Snakey

Subliminal messaging :)

I was about to follow a fairly detailed tutorial for making these book
ledges myself, but then found them already made at Ikea for $15. Why
reinvent the affordable Swedish wheel?!?

An absolute must for winter

Fun paint

The room doesn't have any windows so I used this mirror to open it up
a little (another Ikea find...$30!)

I made these two button collages after I saw something
similar on Pinterest. Cheap and fun...would make a cute
baby gift!

The kids looooove mail right now so I had Chris install this real mailbox and we made some mail for it. It's been a hit.
A magnetic white board gave a new home to the infernal Leapfrog magnet toys and
eliminated my daily fantasies about shoving them down the garbage disposal.

And finally, a picture of the kids building a castle together in the new room:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Some Weekend Snaps

These two knuckleheads were at each other's throats this week. They both
took naps yesterday afternoon (unheard of for P at this point) and things have
been much more peaceful since. 

Meet my tomatoes. I've never really started anything from seeds so I am
quite proud of these guys. 

We took the kids bowling yesterday evening. They had a blast. Also,
they both beat me in the second game. Sure, they used bumpers and ramps
but still. 

Pacey has the cutest, funniest little dance he
does while watching the ball go down the lane.

It is not uncommon for people to refer to her as a boy when she wears this
shirt. It annoys me. A lot. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thing I'm Loving

I feel like I've written enough lately about things I'm not loving so let's bring it back around to the positive! Some things that have been making me smile lately:

1. Politeness from my kids. Especially Pacey. I'm hearing a lot of unprompted "yes please" and "no thank you" and even "excuse me." The best is when Pacey is polite to the dogs. So cute.

2. Angel Guards. Pacey moved into a big kid booster seat a couple of months ago but figured out almost immediately how to unbuckle the seatbelt. After a few hair-raising car rides I found these online and they work like a charm. Especially important because he also figured out how to undo the child-lock on the doors that prevent them from opening from the inside. I try to check it every time we go anywhere but I do occasionally forget. There was one AWFUL day where I heard wind rushing and thought the door was open (it was just the window). Now I don't have to worry so much anymore as I know he is securely belted in.

3. My local library's iPhone app. So awesome. I can search the catalog, place requests and even download new e-books to read. Love. Love, love love. Yes, still dorky.

4. King Arthur Whole Wheat Flour. I do a fair amount of baking, including whole wheat pizza dough at least once a week and often a loaf of bread a week. I bought this for the first time since I saw it on sale (it's not cheap) and was pleasantly surprised by the resulting baked goods. I'm not sure WHY it's premium, but both Chris and I noticed a difference in the pizza crusts I made with it. Probably worth stepping up to on a regular basis.

5. The mobile deposit app for my bank. This has been a serious time-saver. We use USAA for absolutely all of our banking needs, but the one downside of an otherwise AWESOME company is that they don't have actual banks where you can deposit checks. Before they started offering the mobile deposit option, I had to order prepaid deposit envelopes from them and send in all my checks. An inconvenience for sure. Now, I use the app to take a photograph of the front and back of my checks and it is deposited straight into my account and immediately available. And that's it. You just dispose of the checks, and your phone doesn't save any of the images so there aren't safety issues. This has been especially useful as Chris and I take advantage of flexible spending healthcare accounts. The company that administers it is amazingly prompt and we don't even have to submit claims, but I will sometimes get 5-6 checks at a time and it's so nice to be able to deposit them immediately.

6. Flavored sparkling water. I fell out of love with soda awhile ago, and since I'm an old lady I really can't drink caffeine after about noon. I drink a LOT of water as a result, which is great but sometimes gets boring. I'm not a fan of artificial sweeteners so lots of the flavored waters that are so popular right now just don't appeal. I started buying flavored sparkling water at Trader Joe's and absolutely love it. Totally refreshing and more interesting than plain old water.

I was going to write something about lovely spring weather, but today has been 45 degrees, gray and rainy. Perhaps I'll pick this back up next week.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

With a Bang and a Whimper

It's mostly my fault really. I confess that I was feeling a little smug about how smoothly sleep was going in this house. It had been months and months since there was any kid-related interruptions between the hours of 8 pm and 7:30 am. C and I had a new routine of waking a little earlier than we needed to in order to have a cup of coffee and read news, etc. We'd go up to get the kids together at 7:30, well rested and ready for the day.

Then potty training happened and Brighton started waking up at night to go potty. As I've mentioned, she comes down to get me when she needs to go and it takes anywhere from 15 - 45 minutes to get her back into bed (and sometimes a screaming tantrum). That was bad enough, but then she started appearing at my bedside between 6:00 and 6:30 am. This is where I made a mistake. One morning I was tired enough to pull her into bed with me. She was pretty quiet just laying there so wasn't a big deal. But then it happened again, and she was feeling chattier so I gave her my phone to play with.

Well naturally I successfully taught her that if she comes downstairs the minute she wakes up in the morning, she gets to play games on mommy's phone! And hang out! And drape herself over my face while I attempt to snooze a little longer!

This morning she appeared at 5:40 and that was ENOUGH. I took her back upstairs, she went potty and I tried to get her back in bed. No dice. Screaming, pounding on the door, insisting over and over that she needed to go "more potty." She finally stayed in her room as of 6:30 but as far as I know she did not go back to sleep. And that was the start to the day.

I know this has to be nipped in the bud. Until a few weeks ago she was sleeping til 7:30 every morning and napping every day. Now, she's up 1-2 hours earlier and napping sporadically. This results in predictably bad behavior due to being tired. Not to mention, I don't want to start being harangued that early every morning. I am my best parenting self when I am showered and adequately caffeinated before I see their darling little faces. It's a loooooong day staying at home with kids, and bedtime has been creeping later and lasting longer with my daughter the master manipulator. She's infringing on my time and it's making me cranky!!!

I'm investigating options like one of those visual alarm clocks that changes color when it's ok to get up. No matter what, it is going to be a painful process of training her that she cannot get up until a certain time. Multiple days of starting every day with a fight and too little sleep for both of us. Not to mention, she won't take herself potty so I will have to get up and take her to do that before she goes back to her room regardless.

Silly me, thinking sleep issues were a thing of the past...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I was going to write a funny/dumb post about having washed all the windows in our house this past weekend, but something happened when I took Pacey to school today and my nerves feel all jangled.

I had gotten Pacey out of the car and was putting his backpack on him to walk into the classroom. As I slipped the second strap over his shoulder he bolted into the middle of the parking lot just as a car came around the corner. I lunged and managed to grab his shirt collar and the driver (who happened to be his speech therapist at school) saw him as well and was driving at a sensible speed and stopped right away.

Obviously my heart leapt into my throat - it was terrifying although he was never actually in danger of being hit. Mostly though (because he WAS safe), it made me really, really angry. Not exactly angry at him, more angry at how helpless I feel to teach him how to keep himself safe. I talk until I am blue in the face about staying with me in parking lots and watching for cars, we practice looking both ways, etc. But it just doesn't seem to sink in with him. Maybe all 5 1/2 year olds are oblivious to their surroundings, but I sense that this will be something that I am teaching Pacey long after his same-age peers have achieved a higher level of safety awareness. And honestly? It makes me angry. It makes me angry that if my child has to be affected cognitively by something that happened in his genes, it has to be this. His fundamental safety. If he runs from me towards a busy intersection and I yell for him to stop and give chase, he will look back, give me a huge grin and run straight into the damn street.

I remain as vigilant as I can be. I always get Brighton out of the car first (in fact, her seat is behind mine for that reason) as she can be trusted at this point to stay by the car while I unbuckle Pacey. Whenever possible, they both go straight from the car into a shopping cart so there's no opportunity for bolting. For now, that works but at some point he will be too big for a shopping cart, just as he will be too big to pick up and carry when he refuses to hold my hand and walk. I know I just have to keep teaching him and trying to raise his awareness but at times like this it feels like an impossible task.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Friday Confessions

I hate TOMS.

It's been 10 years since I graduated from college. Undoubtedly the most exciting thing about this fact is that I'm 2/3 of the way through paying back my student loans.

In my mind, I've been pronouncing Gotye "goaty". I looked it up on Wikipedia and after looking at the phonetic pronunciation, had no flipping clue. I actually had to watch a YouTube clip on how to say it. In case you wondered, it's like "goh-tee-yay".

I have a half-used can of rainbow chip frosting in my refrigerator and every now and then I a spoonful of it.

I cheaped out when I bought coffee last week. It was so bad that I actually bought a new bag and threw out the old one. Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

Anything you need to get off your chest?

"Mom, I have dirt in my mouth." "Huh,
how did that happen?" "I put dirt in my

I can totally see his grown up self in this picture. I think he's going to be a
wonderful man.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I've mentioned before that I was a worrier as a kid. A close look at my teeth reveals extensive wear from years of grinding them and if you get too close to the frown lines between my eyes you might fall in. I never really considered it to be a big issue, rather just part of who I was.

While I was pregnant with Brighton, it began to be something more. I spent more than one night quietly crying into my pillow, wondering how in the world I was going to cope with everything once she was born. My life felt barely manageable as it was and, though Chris and I were both fully on board with having another child, it began to feel like a big mistake.

After she was born, things got worse. I spent a lot of time in my hospital room crying, which I chalked up to hormones. I have mentioned before how frightened I was during my c-section; that feeling of impending doom lingered after the risk period for a blood clot or other complication passed. I'm sure that because she was my second baby, there was a certain amount of assumption that I sort of knew what I was doing and people left me to get on with it (I don't mean I was abandoned, but there was Pacey to take care of and my husband, for all his wonderful qualities, just can't sit in a hospital room for hours). In reality, though, I'd never taken care of a newborn on my own before. With Pacey in the NICU and unable to be held even, I spent my post-op time focusing on my own physical recovery and accepting the support and good wishes of countless friends and family. I felt completely out of my depth trying to heal and attend to the needs of my newborn daughter there in the hospital.

It didn't get a whole lot better once I got home. It was ok while my parents were still in town, but once I was on my own with the kids it was terrifying. I would drop Pacey off at school and come back home with the baby, where I proceeded to spend the day watching her sleep and worrying about when she would wake up. One of the hardest things about infancy for me is a lack of immediate connection and feeling of competency. I just don't feel like I know what to expect from a baby and that makes it difficult to feel in control.

So time went on. Several months later I felt like maybe I should talk to someone about how I felt. I found a therapist through my work mental health benefit program and saw her a couple of times. Frankly, she wasn't super helpful to me. She was very understanding and it was good to unload some of my stresses, but I didn't feel like she gave much feedback other than to acknowledge I was under a lot of pressure. I gave up after a few sessions, and when I went back to work I didn't really have time to think about how I was feeling.

Things didn't get better though, they got worse. I cried a lot, and started to feel uncharacteristic rage. I had a constant gnawing pit in my stomach. I never had specific fears - didn't really worry about the safety of my kids or husband or terrible things happening. I tried another therapist and only saw her once. I don't think I really knew what I wanted or needed to get out of therapy but it just wasn't working for me. One evening I got so overwhelmed and angry and felt so bad I kicked a hole in the wall. Anyone who knows me will appreciate just how out of character that was, and it shocked and horrified me. I went to bed that night and Chris stayed up until 3 am, patching and painting the wall so I didn't have to see the evidence in the morning. Shortly after that was Mother's Day, a day I spent largely in tears. Because Brighton was born the Tuesday after Mother's Day, it hit me that it had been a full year I'd been struggling with feeling awful. Chris and I talked that day and decided together that it was time to see a doctor.

Summarizing the rest, I saw the doctor, she started me on the lowest dose of Zoloft and within three weeks I was literally feeling like a new person. Shortly thereafter Chris got the job offer here in MN and we decided to move. I dread to think how I would have coped with that transition in my prior state of mind.

I experience relatively mild side effects from the medication. I did notice throughout the first year that my reactions to positive things felt a bit...muted. Like the medicine took away my overreaction to negative things, but also dulled my ability to appreciate the positive stuff. That seems to have passed though, and I am sometimes amazed by how good I feel. I did try weaning off the medication six months or so after we moved. I thought it was worth a try, given how many stresses I'd been able to remove from my life. It was ok for a few months but the darkness crept back in and after one too many crying sessions, again my husband and I discussed that I was not doing ok.

I am so grateful that Chris was there for me and coped as well as he did. I mean, we wrote our own marriage vows about how we would step up for each other when life became difficult, but it's much different to put that into practice. He actually remarks to this day how rarely I cry anymore. It must have been so hard for him, having a typical male desire to fix things as well as a genuine desire to make ME happy (happy wife = happy life) to acknowledge that he couldn't fix that.

I feel like, in a way, this experience contributed to the especially close bond I have to my daughter. I always attended to her needs and felt loving and affectionate towards both kids through that difficult period. But I know that they pick up on the emotional state of their environments and there was more than one time that I cried as I rocked her. Somehow, still, she became very attached to me and remains so to this day. To me, that's the definition of unconditional love and I'm so grateful that what I was experiencing didn't damage any of my relationships.

Anyway, for awhile there I indulged in a little self-pity, wondering why my make-up prevents me from feeling happy and normal without medication. But now? Now I just feel grateful that my brain responds to a low-risk medication that allows me to fully appreciate the wonderful life I have.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


My mom was here for a visit last month and I was reminded how very, very good she is with preschool- aged children. She actually has a degree in early childhood education (I think? Maybe child development?) and has so many good ideas and strategies for dealing with kids. Our house when we were kids was full of games and activities far more creative than the usual array of legos and Barbies. She's pulling out or recreating a lot of those same activities for my 4.5 year old nephew who lives at their house now, and he is so lucky to have the benefit of all her ideas.

One of the things my mom talks about with respect to small children is civilizing them, and it strikes me as exactly the right term for the work of making these little beasts fit for public interaction. We spend pretty much the whole first year (at least I do) doing absolutely anything we can to keep them happy and not screaming. Then, we have to rather abruptly change tack and start to impose boundaries and rules and, frankly, a little humanity on them. It's no wonder, when you think about it, that the second year of kids' lives is rife with defiance and resistance to these new rules of life.

It's hard to strike a balance, really, between not inflicting unruly behavior on the rest of the world and giving your kids a chance to learn what it means to behave in public. I can certainly understand the perspective of people who feel that kids have no place in a restaurant...and I feel like it's the responsibility of parents to make sure that we are bringing our kids into appropriate environments in which we can reasonably teach them a few things while minimizing the impact on other patrons. On the other hand, the only way kids can EVER learn how they need to behave in public is to allow them the opportunity to try and, inevitably, fail a few times. I think we all have that one place we can't face going back to after a particularly heinous display of beastliness.

And don't get me wrong - we had an absolute moratorium on meals out for about a year when the combination of perpetually cranky baby and toddler who was excited about his burgeoning independence was just too much. But I've forced us back out there, equipped with iPad, our own supply of crayons and snacks for slow service experiences to practice. For the most part, we're getting there. It helps that we're spending more time eating together at the table at home, although we tend to take a much more lax approach to things like burping at the table when we are at home (nothing like accidentally letting out a huge belch in the middle of a crowded restaurant). I resisted the idea of the iPad at first, but the reality is that a meal in a restaurant typically exceeds the amount of time my kids are realistically able to sit still and behave. We don't turn the sound on, so I don't think it's bothersome to other people and it allows us to enjoy a little taste of our pre-kid life on occasion.

We still have miles to go before we sleep, however. Yesterday I watched one child swipe a hand across a snotty nose and turn around and wipe it on the kitchen cabinet. WHAT? Who does that? There is plenty of unedited (loud) talk about various bodily functions/fluids or other things best discussed in the privacy of one's home. Both kids still employ the flop-and-drop method when confronted with, well, any directive that doesn't fit into their agendas. There is an unwavering belief that if they request demand something loudly and repetitively enough, I will drop whatever it is I might be doing to fulfill their every whim. Both kids have a tendency to wander out of the bathroom with pants around ankles to request help, regardless of who might be in the house. Civilized? No, not yet. But I have to believe we're making progress.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Boring Post Just For Me

Pacey had a six-month follow up appointment with his pulmonologist today. He's been followed ever since he was a baby, and the one we see here is the best yet.

From the time he came home until about one year ago, we had to administer two nebulizer treatments to Pacey every single day. We were able to wean off of his inhaled steroids and, with the exception of a couple of days here or there when he's had a cold, he hasn't needed any treatments for almost a year now. It seems almost unbelievable really. I heard so many times that the thing that would help Pacey the most was time to grow. As his current doctor puts it - it's a plumbing issue and the bigger his airways get, the more easily he can fight off invaders and clear stuff before he gets too bogged down. It was so frustrating to hear that when he was small and we were in and out of the hospital, feeling pretty helpless to keep him healthy.

And now, he's grown. His pants are hovering just above his shoes, necessitating an entire wardrobe update. He's sturdy and surprisingly strong and made it through this flu season relatively unscathed. It's not a guarantee that it will be smooth sailing from here on out...I'm sure we haven't seen the last of the Children's Hospital. But I do think we made it through the worst few years for him and that feels really good.

For my own records, and because it makes me so happy to see that he's growing, today he measured:

37 pounds

39.5 inches

It's been forever since I plotted him on a growth chart for typically developing children but he seems to be pretty firmly in the middle for a boy with Down syndrome. Not at all bad for a kid who weighed three pounds at birth and bears the nickname Peanut to this day.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Taking Credit

I've decided (at least so far) not to "do" the Easter Bunny. Because we aren't currently teaching the kids about the Christian holiday of Easter (or any of the other religious holidays around this time), it feels a little unnecessary to do Easter baskets and the bunny thing. However, I love Easter eggs and we had a lot of fun dyeing them, so for now our Easter celebration is centered around making and hiding/finding the eggs. Not to mention, Santa gets all the credit for the Christmas fun...why should the Easter Bunny get credit for hiding all the eggs?!? I did fill some plastic eggs with jelly beans, which the kids got in exchange for the real ones they found. It would be criminal not to do SOMETHING with candy.

It feels wonderful to be out in the yard in our short sleeves...we were out last year but it was a little chillier.

Hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday and will enjoy all those egg salad sandwiches this week.

I can see why people are always asking me if they're twins (based on their similar size, not because I think they look
at all alike)

I could never have imagined how much I would love these two little ragamuffins, despite how hard they try to drive me

The ferns are coming up along our stream...must be spring for real. 

Making the Eggs

Oops, forgot to post yesterday. In my defense, we were really busy all day. Also, my previously great-sleeping daughter has been staying up late, waking up around 3 am to go potty every night and requiring a good 30 minutes of coaxing and cajoling to go back to sleep, and then waking up for the day at 6 am. I'm tired.

Here are some pictures of the kids dyeing eggs. Check back later for photos of the hunt they'll have this afternoon...after they I have a nap.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Badgering the Witness

Scene: The kids and I are in the car and I'm having a conversation with Chris via the Bluetooth in my car.

Pacey: "Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama."

Me: "Yes, Pacey?"

Pacey: "Elephant rhinoceros."

Me: "...ok."

Chris: attempts to continue our conversation

Brighton: "But mom, what are you doing?"

Me: "I'm driving the car."

Brighton: "But which way are you going?"

Me: "This way."

Brighton: "But what are you doing?"

Chris: attempts to continue our conversation

Pacey: "Mama! Elephant rhinoceros."

Brighton: "Look mom, a baby school bus! But he lost his mama. Where's his mama, mom? Where's his mama, mom? Mom! He lost her moooooom!"

Chris: gives up and hangs up

Pacey: "Elephant rhinoceros!"

Me: *rolls down window and leaps out of the moving car in search of blessed silence*

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Family Weird

Growing up, I had a true Best Friend, A. She lived several blocks away from me, and if we weren't at home chances are we were at the other one's house. We were on the same sports teams, I vacationed with her family (to MN, in fact), and we forced our families to celebrate holidays together. I have a ton of stories about our childhood but today I'm talking about ladles.

I ate countless meals with A's family and at some point, I'm going to guess when I was 10 or 11, I happened to notice that when soup was served at her house it was dished out of the pot with a measuring cup. Never a ladle, a measuring cup. Now, my household was a strict Soup is Served with a Ladle household, so this struck me as really, really weird. I mentioned it to A's dad and it kind of became a running joke between us - how very attached to the use of a ladle I apparently was. The joke ran on to my wedding day when, if I remember correctly, A's dad gifted Chris and I a lovingly wrapped soup ladle of our very own.

I was thinking about this recently, wondering what family quirks we've developed that our kids' friends will think are weird. I know that A reads this blog and I am kind of dying to know, do you scoop soup with a ladle or a measuring cup in your house?? Let us know in the comments!

Although I know that at a certain point we will embarrass our children merely by breathing air, I don't feel like there are too many things we do drastically differently than other families. I guess maybe you don't even know what your own quirks are until you see someone doing it differently.

What do you think your own family quirks are? Do you remember any moments when you were a kid and realized that your family did things differently from others?