Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Very First Day of School

Sweet Pea excitedly waiting for the teacher to arrive and open the classroom.

Well, everything went pretty well yesterday on Sweet Pea's first day of school.

I had to wake The Bug up from her nap and try to get lunch into both girls pretty quickly, and then we drove over to the school. In a surprise move by always-late me, we were twenty minutes early and had time for a leisurely check-in (not only are the doors of the school kept locked - the families of students have a code to get in - but I also have to sign Sweet Pea in on a computer terminal in the hallway and with a written signature since she's under 6) and then to sit outside the classroom to wait for the teacher. As you might imagine we weren't the only early family, so we met a couple other kids before the teacher arrived. One little girl was so excited that she kept running to the classroom door to see if the teacher was there yet to open up. Sweet Pea has been excited for weeks about starting school so she quickly got caught up in the excitement and went to check again and again with the other little girl.

When the teacher did arrive, Sweet Pea was the first at the door, shy though she was with the teacher, and was the first into the classroom. I stood there stammering, "but what about my hug and kiss?" I figured that Sweet Pea had just just forgotten to give me a hug and kiss in her excitement and that maybe if she turned around and saw me she would remember to come back out and give me a proper goodbye, but she had run all the way to the other side of the classroom and never turned around, and the teacher looked at me and said meaningfully, "goodbye..." so I turned and left, probably a little more moist than usual around the eyes. I called Slipshod when I got into the car and he laughed when I told him Sweet Pea had run in without giving me a hug and a kiss. My mom thought it was really funny too.

The Bug and I drove home and went immediately to our neighbors' house to play with Speed Racer (his preschool starts next week - and he'll be going in the mornings anyway so we may play with them when Sweet Pea is in school on other days as well). His mom is so sweet and had encouraged me to come right over when I got home so I'd have some support if I felt sad or anything.

Well, we played outside for quite a while and then came back in to get a drink for Sweet Pea to have in the car when we picked her up, change The Bug's diaper, etc. Then we went back to school to pick Sweet Pea up. The time really did fly by. I knew that 2 1/2 hours would go quickly, but since we were outside playing for so long it really zoomed!

I was on the phone with my mom shortly before we left to go back to the school and then a different (not Speed Racer's mom) neighbor and her baby dropped by and I said, "I can chat for a few minutes but then The Bug and I need to go pick up Sweet Pea," but our chat sort of kept going and I felt like I nearly pushed her out the door - I REALLY didn't want to be late to pick up Sweet Pea, especially not on her first day! Besides wanting to be there for her immediately after school, the school charges $1 per minute for childcare if you're late to pick up your child.

So - The Bug and I managed to get there in record time (it really does help if you yell at the traffic lights), and Sweet Pea was SO HAPPY to see us. The teacher told me, "Sweet Pea did get a little sad a few minutes after you left. She said that she forgot to give you a hug and a kiss before you left. I think that's all it was - so she'll remember to give you a hugs and a kiss on Wednesday, won't you, Sweet Pea, and then I think she'll be fine." The teacher then told me that Sweet Pea had cried but she had taken her outside and they "rested" together and talked and Sweet Pea felt a little better and then she went back inside and painted a picture, and was fine for the rest of the class.

I checked Sweet Pea out on the terminal, etc. and was bursting to hear how her day went, but wanted to get her home first so we could see each other and chat. So we drove right home and I set up the girls at the table with a little afternoon snack and then I sat down opposite Sweet Pea and said, "So - you went into the classroom. Then what happened?" She told me bits and pieces, but we're slowly getting more and more information about her day as time goes on and she thinks of things.

She said that when she first felt sad she pulled out the collage I had put into her backpack of family pictures, but she was still crying and that's when the teacher helped her. She said that her painting was of two sunshines and a kitty (it had to dry so we'll see it on Wednesday). She told me that the teachers had told them of some rules and I asked, of course, what the rules were and the first one she told me was, "if you're feeling lonely, you need to have a friend nearby." I said, "well, that's a great rule!" tee hee. I'm not sure what else Sweet Pea did in the classroom but they had some playtime on the playground too, which was something she was REALLY looking forward to. She especially enjoyed digging deep holes in the sandbox, and said that after she played in the sandbox she got to use a real broom to clean up! hee hee. She told us later at dinnertime that when they were out on the playground she and a little girl were going to go down the slide together but she decided that the slide was too hot, but she had to go down anyway because the other little girl was holding her hand and slid down. She wasn't too happy about that but Slipshod explained to her that the other little girl probably just wanted to be her friend.

Oh - the other rule that she remembered was, "no throwing sand." We asked her if she had thrown sand or if another kid had, because it seemed likely that that had happened, since she had been playing in the sandbox. She said "no" to both questions, though, so I guess the "no throwing sand" rule was a pre-emptive rule given to them before they went outside. Good rule! I told her that I thought it was a really good thing for her and the other kids to know and when she replied with her customary, "why?" I told her about the time I threw sand in my sister's eyes when we were little, and how badly it hurt my sister, and how my mom had had to hold my sister over the sink and pour water in her eyes until the sand came out, and how much TROUBLE I had gotten into. Heh...

She doesn't remember any of the other kids' names, but she did seem to make a connection with "the girl in the orange dress," because that little girl was a bit sad too.

Over all Sweet Pea said that she had a great time at school and can't wait to go back tomorrow. She's home today because of the way they do the first two days of school: Yesterday kids whose last names end with letters in the first half of the alphabet went, today it's the M-Z kids, and starting tomorrow, everyone goes.

We all survived well, and I think that Sweet Pea and I would have both been totally fine if we had gotten to give each other hugs and kisses before The Bug and I left. So, we'll make sure to do that tomorrow!
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend Funnies

Do you think that The Bug looks up to her sister at all?

The Bug has been so curious about the potty and what the rest of us do on there for a while now that I finally got out the kid potty, and she took to it like a duck to water. No, she's not actually going potty on it, but she sure wants to. On Saturday, after they both made big messes of themselves in the back yard, Sweet Pea needed to go potty, and I had just rinsed and dried the kid potty outside where The Bug watched with great interest, so I brought them both in and Sweet Pea gave The Bug her first lesson on the potty. Then she gave her quite a serenade! LOL

What amazed me the most about The Bug's interest in the potty was that it only took her 20 minutes to figure out how to sit on it - even though she's almost too small to sit on it! Sweet Pea didn't even have the kid potty until she was 2, and if I remember correctly it took her over a month to figure out how to sit on it by herself. Amazing.

During The Bug's nap on Saturday I took Sweet Pea out so the two of us could have some fun time together. We went to the local paint-your-own-pottery place and had a great time. Sweet Pea painted some cat figurines (duh), which she says are for me and Slipshod, and I painted a little butterfly trinket box for her. I'll post pictures of the finished pieces after we pick them up later this week.

Well, today is the day! It's Sweet Pea's first day of school. We've had a good morning and it looks like the way I moved my shower around in our routine might work well. I had been thinking we were going to need to start getting up earlier than usual, like 6am or 6:30am, in order to be hungry enough to eat lunch before taking Sweet Pea to school. However, it finally dawned on me last night that if we ate breakfast first and then went right upstairs for my shower, we'd still be hungry in time without having to change our timing. Thankfully I also managed to get The Bug napping, which she is doing now. I got the girls all washed up in the shower with me (which will not be a normal thing; they get too grumpy with each other in the bathtub with me in the morning - but we had family over last night & by the time they left it was too late for a bath for the girls) and now that The Bug's napping, Sweet Pea and I are going to finish getting her dressed, getting her hair up, getting her things ready to take to school, and then we'll fix & eat lunch and go! Whee! Last night I started to get a little stressed again about the separation when The Bug and I leave Sweet Pea at school today, but then I remembered that she's going in the afternoon. I think that it will be much easier a separation in the afternoon than it might have been in the morning, because we will have already spent half the day together and she'll be ready for something different to do. So far she is still very excited and looking forward to her first day of school - she even remembered that's what today was and asked me as soon as she woke up if this was her first day of school. :o)

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Better Day Today & Ponderings on The Bug's Sleep Issues

Wrote what's here on Friday morning... pretty sure it's not comprehensive but life is moving on so I figured I'd post it before too many other things came up to post.

Well, I mananged to get more sleep last night, even though Sweet Pea woke up in the wee hours. The Bug slept longer than usual - though sideways all night, no matter how many times I turned her the right direction. It would have been nice if we all could have slept more than usual, but it's a good thing that Sweet Pea woke up because she had to go potty at 5am. Anyway, despite her being awake and talking to me off and on for over an hour, I managed to get more sleep than I have for a while. Yay!

In response to Christina's comment on the previous post, and because I was also thinking of this, because it seems pretty obvious when you read my last post about The Bug often waking up when I to to bed... It has occurred to me many times that perhaps The Bug would sleep better on her own all night. She starts out in the crib, which is in our room, every night. Oftentimes lately she will wake up anywhere from 1-3 times before I get to bed, and if I am planning to go back downstairs I will put her back into her crib when I get her settled. Sometimes I try to put her back in her crib even if I'm already in bed, to see if she sleeps better there, but she knows that she usually comes into the big bed when she wakes up in the middle of the night, so she seems to expect that and kicks and yells if I put her into her crib when she wants to sleep with me. There are other nights when I go up thinking I'll get her back to sleep and then come back down, and anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours later, she's still awake and the rocking chair and crib combination are absolutely a no-go. In those cases the only way I can get her to sleep is to nurse her in the big bed, and then she's there for the night.

Sometimes I think that I should put the crib back into the girls' room and see if she sleeps better in there by herself at night. However - if she doesn't I'd be absolutely screwed the next day, so I'm afraid to even try it, since I'm already running on fumes nearly every day. I guess I'm looking at it wrong, though. I don't need to change everything, do I? I can just try putting her back into her crib every time she wakes up while the crib is still in our room. This actually reminds me of that book I consulted so often during Sweet Pea's extreme sleep difficulty during her two years of teething - "The No-Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. One of her suggestions was to come up with a plan, like trying to get her back into the crib rather than the big bed, but only doing that until a certain time, like 2am - after that time, you still have to get as much sleep as possible, so you go back to doing things the way you were just so you can get some sleep. Maybe that's the way to go.

The Bug is more independent than Sweet Pea was at this age, and she may sleep better on her own. But she likes being in bed with us too. I have also theorized that maybe the Tylenol is working, and that's why she sleeps better in her crib at the beginning of the night. Sometimes she wakes up before 4 hours after she's had the medicine, but often she wakes up 4-5 hours after going to bed. Could be the medicine. AND, with her we also have a problem of warmth. She seems to need more warmth than the rest of us at night, but she HATES covers and will kick and scream if anything gets on her feet in the middle of the night. She won't sleep in a sleep sack anymore for that reason, and sometimes even tries to pull the feet off her footie jammies. The best I can do is to put socks on her and if she needs a blanket, I put it over her torso and make sure that it is under her arms, so her hands don't get stuck under it, and that it stops above her feet, so she doesn't freak about her feet being covered. And of course, if she's covered that way, she rolls and the blanket usually comes off. Yeesh.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Struggling Through

**Let it be known that I started this post many, many hours ago. It is now nearly dinnertime and has taken me several attempts to complete the following - if a rambling blurt can ever be complete.**

I am so exhausted that I can barely think.

But somehow I have managed to get a shower and make breakfast for myself and the girls and play with them for a while. I even fed the cats first, but that was more to keep from stepping on them than because I remembered. Believe me, they wouldn't let me forget.

So The Bug's first molar is coming out, as I said the other day. I was relieved for one day when there was a better-than-she's-had-for-a-long-time night's sleep, but since then her sleep has sunk back into the pit of crap that it's been in for the past month or two, and I am once again drowning in the no-sleep pit of despair. Almost every night, The Bug sleeps until I drag my sorry ass to bed after washing dishes, sweeping the floor, trying to accomplish other things, and very occasionally these days, spending a little time on the couch just chilling with Slipshod. Some time after I get to bed, anywhere from three minutes after I enter the room to two hours later, The Bug wakes up, and from then on she wakes up every 1-2 hours most nights. Until Sweet Pea awakes in the morning, the only refreshed sleeper in our family. Thank goodness somebody gets some sleep around here.

I cried over the phone at my neighbor this morning because it kills me how much time with Sweet Pea I have lost. Very close to all of it. I miss her so much. Yes, she's right here, but I can hardly ever make the time to sit with just her and do something, and when I try to do anything with just her when both of them are around - just reading a short book together or something - The Bug has to sit on my lap too, and then they end up pushing each other, yelling, and whining. For so long The Bug's needs have been more immediate than Sweet Pea's, and they still are. She is still a danger to herself in many ways and needs to be watched vigilantly. Since her speech is not as clear as Sweet Pea's, and she uses sign language to communicate some things I need to actually watch her, rather than just listen when she's talking, to find out if she's telling me she's hungry or thirsty, etc.

In the mean time, Sweet Pea waits patiently, or sometimes not so patiently, for my attention. Yet when I'm trying to get her to move to get ready to go somewhere, etc., I rush Sweet Pea. I get grumpy with her when she doesn't listen to me. But I know that she's learning it from the way I often treat her. Ugh.

I am so excited about her starting school next week but bummed, even a bit jealous, that she will probably have more fun at school than at home. I want to be the one to do fun things with her. On the weekend I am often encouraged to leave the kids with Slipshod or the grandparents and get out to maintain my sanity, and I do need that, and I take it sometimes as well - but what I really, really want is time alone with Sweet Pea.

Day in and night out I am all about The Bug. She needs me more during the day AND all night. I currently feel as if I never get away from her. I love her to bits, of course, but today I did not want to go get her out of her crib after her nap. I wanted somebody else to do it. I wanted more of a break from her.

If the grandparents (both sets) will ever decide and tell us what they're doing this weekend, I am going to try to plan a little outing for just me and Sweet Pea on Saturday or Sunday. She suggested that we walk to the nearby shopping center and get a smoothie together, because the only other time the two of us have taken some time out for just us, that's what we did. If I can fanagle more time, though, I would love to take her downtown to the paint-your-own-pottery place. We would have a ton of fun there together.

Which reminds me - today she added "artist" to her list of things she wants to be when she grows up. Here's the rest of the list: Cat Sitter, Mom, Basketball Player. Her dad gives her crap and asks why she wants to sit on cats when she grows up. "That's just mean," he jokes with her. ha ha!

As you can probably tell this missing time with Sweet Pea thing has been with me since The Bug was born. Actually, it has gotten worse and worse as she's gotten older. I thought it would get better, but I forgot that when babies are new they sleep a LOT during the day. Now we're lucky during the worst of the teething if she takes one nap per day (when the teeth aren't bothering her so much she'll sleep for 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours). Suddenly during the past week, with the beginning of afternoon preschool rapidly arriving, The Bug has decided to switch her nap to later - pretty much when we'll be needing to take Sweet Pea to school. Which means that she'll probably nap while Sweet Pea's at school. That means fabulous alone time for me, which I hardly ever get, but it also means no time with just me and Sweet Pea.

Part of the reason this is bothering me so much is because of days like yesterday, and comments like the one Sweet Pea made this morning. Yesterday she was just a ball of nerves and cried so hard when I cut some food for The Bug at lunch. The food I cut for The Bug was never intended to be for Sweet Pea, but she thought it was, for some reason, and thought I was making her share against her will, and she threw a freakin' tantrum and it took a LOT of cooing and coaxing from me to calm her down. Normally I probably would have griped at her and ignored her to get her to quiet down, but when she started I was on the phone with my sister, who can be hyper critical, so my protective mom gear kicked in and I was able to see what she needed from me more clearly than if I had been alone in the situation and annoyed by it.

The comment she made this morning was, "you know, Mom, sometimes I forget and I think that The Bug is just visiting." She wasn't bitter or angry, just amused. But things like that, and my sister's interpretation of it, make me think that maybe instead of actually being fine with having a baby sister, Sweet Pea is actually just repressing how she really feels about having a sibling, and is being a sweet little girl to please us. Thank goodness I have a normalizing influence from Slipshod's family. His sister assures me that I will live through the rest of the teething. "Now, I'm not sure about the baby," she jokes. And his mother tells me that the sibling stuff is all normal and that siblings are never 100% content with each other and at peace with having to share their parents with each other.

Another reason that not having the time I used to with Sweet Pea really bothers me - and you're probably going to laugh at me about this - is because when she was born, Slipshod's mom had a friend of hers do an astrological reading and chart for Sweet Pea. Her friend even printed everything up for us and came down to the house to present it to us, which was great and lots of fun. But the one thing that stuck with me the most, because he repeated it over and OVER and OVER - was that we REALLY need to be there for Sweet Pea during the year between the ages of 4 and 5. I don't remember if there was any indication of why, certainly not specifics, but now that she's in that year, and I've already been feeling guilt about emotionally neglecting her for the past year, I'm sort of freaking out about what he said. I hope that over the next year I can find a way to be more present for her.

Because of all the stuff I just blurted about above, I am actually happy that Sweet Pea has given up her kid bed and decided to move back into our bed with us. We had gotten used to having more room so it's pretty squishy again, but I love being able to snuggle her, even though Slipshod's the one who is with her when she falls asleep most of the time so she's usually asleep by the time I get to snuggle with her. It makes me feel somehow like if I wasn't able to be there when she needed me during the day, at least I can snuggle her at night and I hope that somehow she'll feel that motherly love in her dreams and know that I still love her just as much as I ever did.

Okay, now that you all think I'm completely looney, let me remind you that I have not slept well in 5 years, and the past month or two have been consistently difficult in that regard. When I get like this I have a tendency to get depressed, maudlin, and sometimes even downright off my rocker. So there you go. Feel free to leave comments about how I'm not crazy and I'm not alone and this, too, shall pass. Because that might keep me going.

In sweet child news - today Sweet Pea was in a drawing mood and turned out a book full of kitty pictures while The Bug was napping. She even diverged from her usual theme of kitty cats to draw me a stack of pictures of myself - wearing kitty cat ears in my curly hair, and with a huge belly button like all her kitty cats have - and then she drew me a picture of herself, "so you'll remember me while I'm at school, Mommy." Awwww.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Notes & a Question

First, another link to Christina's Busybody Book contest, since I've gone wild and posted more than once this week - don't want anybody to miss it in case they're interested.

And since I haven't spoken to my sister yet this week and my daily neighbor is still on vacation, you get to hear my list of things I've been doing. Wait - that's what I always post about anyway, isn't it? ha ha.

  • Tonight I may have discovered why the Infant's Tylenol has not been helping The Bug during her recent teething: I finally consulted our dosing chart for acetaminophen and motrin - the recommendations are meant for fever but I figure they should work for general use of said drugs. Anyway, turns out that I have not been giving The Bug a big enough dose for her weight. Our former family physician once told us that if you're not giving the kid enough medicine, you might as well not give her/him any, because a too-small dose will not help pain or fever.
  • I forgot to mention that over the weekend I removed the infant and child car seats from my van and removed all the coverings from the child seat, washed them, and scrubbed the sticky, age-old spilled juice, etc. off the plastic bits too. Today during The Bug's nap (YES, SHE TOOK A NAP! PAAAAAAAAAAAAARTY!!!), Sweet Pea and I went out to the van and put the child seat where the infant seat used to be, and set up her new booster seat where the child seat had previously been. Then after the nap and lunch, the girls and I went for our first ride with them both front-facing and Sweet Pea using a "grown-up seat belt!" She is thrilled with her new setup in the car, and I think The Bug loves her "new" seat as well as being front-facing now. We ran two errands, to the pediatrician's office to pick up the "this child is healthy enough to go to school and here is her immunization history" paper, and then to Target. The Bug did not want to get out of her seat at either destination. LOL!
  • The only shoes I could find for The Bug today at Target were in the "pre-walking" section. Her feet are size 4 or 4 1/2 according to our little foot measure thing, but we ended up buying her a size 5. Very cute shoes and a little more solid in the sole than her Robeez, but I'm not sure they're really going to be able to put up with the kind of abuse she visits on her shoes. We'll see.
  • Finally placed that order tonight for a Kleen Kanteen sippy bottle for The Bug, as well as a neoprene cover for it. The Kleen Kanteens don't have sippy handles available for the sippy bottles (the SIGG Baby Kids bottles do, but the easiest lids they have are sports tops, which I don't think will work for The Bug yet) and I couldn't imagine her wanting to hold a cold bottle full of water or juice. Hopefully the cover will make it comfortable temp-wise enough to hold; might make it easier to grip as well. I gave in to Sweet Pea and ordered her a Baby Kids (10 oz.) SIGG bottle with a baby kitty design on it as well. I'm such a softie - hee hee. The best place I've found so far to buy these things is the Reusable Bags website - under the Reusable Bottles section, of course.
  • Okay, here's where I need your help. When my now-teenage nieces were wee ones, they had Johnson's shampoo and conditioner, separate, in cute Winnie The Pooh - themed bottles with different characters' heads on them. For example, the shampoo had Tigger's head on the top of the bottle and the label was orange and black striped, conditioner had Piglet's head & label was pink striped, etc. Where can I find stuff like this? Does it still exist? I've been looking for the past couple years and all I can find for the girls' hair is 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, and I'm not sure that's the best thing for Sweet Pea's hair anymore. I would love to find kids' shampoo and conditioner in separate bottles, and I think she'd get a kick out of the cute head-shaped bottle tops if they still make them. I'm afraid to start using grown-up shampoo on her for fear of hurting her eyes more than she's used to if any bubbles get in them.

Short & To the Point - With a Link to a Giveaway

So tired. The Bug actually slept WAY more last night than she has for weeks - so now I have a plugged duct. But at least I got some more sleep for once. Not enough to make me feel rested after all I've missed, but it's gotta be good to get more sleep than usual every once in a while, right?

She's been cutting bottom molars for weeks but nothing has come up yet. Don't know if last night's sleep was thanks to thicker jammies (she will absolutely not tolerate any blankets, sleepers, etc. on her feet or the rest of her body, so every night I have to guess what the coldest temperature is that the bedroom will reach by morning), a constant temperature (it was warm and muggy outside even after dark so we slept with the house closed up and the air conditioner on), or the fact that I gave her Tylenol before bed. Usually the Tylenol doesn't seem to help so I stopped giving her any, but when she has a good sleep night and I did decide to give her Tylenol before bed, I have to wonder if that was a night when it actually made a difference.

** This just in: Yesterday evening I thought I felt one sharp point in the are where The Bug has seemed to be cutting her first 1-year molar. Last week I noticed that area was red and purple and hugely swollen for a couple days, so I've kept checking it. Anyway, I tried to feel again for the pointy bit after I first felt it, and her gum felt soft again. I decided that I must have accidentally brushed my finger against the next tooth that is out down there. I just felt her gums again, after she fell asleep for her nap, and there are indeed a couple little pointy bits sticking out where that molar is coming in! YEAH! Maybe last night's improved sleep has to do with that molar finally starting to cut. And maybe this nap that she's just laid down for - the first nap in three days - will actually continue for a couple hours. Here's hoping!!**

Sweet Pea has given up her own kitty bed (twin mattress on the floor of our bedroom, with super-cute kitty sheets and a gorgeous cat quilt made by a friend of ours) because she says she wants to sleep in the big bed with us again. I figured this would happen around the time that school started, but I figured it would be after she actually started... I don't know what is going on with her, but she may be re-thinking her bed change, because she got so squished last night between me and Slipshod that she was complaining in the morning. I've been reminding her that the reason she moved out in the first place was to have more sleeping space for herself. We'll see where she sleeps tonight. A couple days ago she suggested that we make Slipshod move to the guest room and sleep there. Poor Daddy.

Oh well.

Christina is having a drawing for a giveaway at her blog, so go check it out. The item that will be given away is a Busybody Book, which is a day planner calendar with spaces for each family member so you can make sure nobody's schedules overlap. You can read more details on her blog or her detailed review at Cirque du Mommy (I'm not putting links here because they're on Christina's blog). And you don't even have to have a blog to enter! She's taking entries (comments on her blog) until Friday night at 11:59ET.

This is our last week before Sweet Pea starts school. We still need to pick up the doctor's report from her pediatrician and take that, along with the rest of the filled-out new student packet of paperwork, back to the school. We also need to get ourselves to Target for some new kid undies, tiny tennies for The Bug (since Sweet Pea grew more quickly and started walking later, her first tennies are a size and a half too big for The Bug right now!), a new toaster oven (the one we have doesn't work so well anymore...), and a few other items. I'd also like to get Sweet Pea back to the optometrist so he can adjust her glasses again - they sit all askew on her face these days for some reason. Then on Friday, we all get to go to the school from 3-4pm to see Sweet Pea's classroom and meet her teachers. I think it's super cool that we get to do that before school starts.

Happy Tuesday, all, and get on over to Christina's blog now - off with you! :o)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Plastic Bad.

As many of you know I tend to have health nut leanings about some things. I am often quiet about my thoughts and discoveries, because I don't want anyone to feel as if I'm forcing my ideas, beliefs, etc. on them. However, sometimes I really feel as if I want to share what I have learned in case someone I'm sharing with has not heard or read about these things. Because some of these issues do, or can, affect us and our kids every day.

For years I've been against using plastics with food in my own home. That doesn't stop us from using plastic plates from time to time, and the girls have been using plastic sippy cups since they started drinking from cups. Not every kind of plastic has been shown to be dangerous when used with food, but I never felt good about giving them to my kids every day, because studies are pretty new even on the #7 plastics. I know that a lab cleaning accident-turned-study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland showed that some plastics leach horribly and can have nasty long-term effects on the body. Since then there have been many reports on the subject, and even articles calling out certain baby bottle brands (Avent Natural Feeding 9 oz , Dr. Brown's Natural Flow 8 oz , Evenflo's Classic 8 oz , Gerber's Premium Feeding System 9 oz, Playtex's VentAire 9oz) and recommending against using them. (I cannot find a link to the actual study at Case Western, but here is an article to get you started if you want to read about the problems with some plastics: Grist)

My girls are too young to drink safely out of glasses, but when I first replaced my Lexan Nalgene (tm) bottles with metal Sigg (tm) bottles, I bought a very small Sigg bottle for Sweet Pea. Unfortunately, their most kid-friendly bottle top was a sports top, and at that time she could not figure out how to drink out of it. Now, however, at age 4, she thinks the Sigg (tm) bottles are the coolest, and has no problem drinking out of the sports top.

The Bug may be able to figure out the sports top in time but my sister just informed me that there is even a sippy option for her! Kleen Kanteen (tm) offers a small bottle with a sippy top. The sippy spout that they use appears to be an Avent sippy spout, which they claim is made out of safe, non-leaching plastic. I'm going to be ordering one of those for The Bug and I can't wait to clear most of the plastics out of our glasses cabinet in the kitchen. Even though the spouts for these bottles are plastic, the companies who sell them are aware of growing customer concern about plastics used with food, and they are using plastics that are, to current knowledge, the safest out there. And even if they turn out not to be as safe as we think, at least these bottles are metal and non-leaching. While the liquid has to travel through them, the spouts are small in comparison to the main "holding chambers" for the drinks.

There is one drawback to the metal bottles: Cost. They are significantly more expensive than the plastics. However, there is a safer plastic alternative of comparable cost to the usual plastic sippies - a company that makes both bottles and sippies out of plastic that does not contain Bisphenol A. They are called Born Free. Their website also includes links to many mainstream media reports about the dangers of Bisphenol A in baby bottles.

**Added note: I do not believe that any sippy cups are currently considered to be dangerous to kids - the baby bottles being listed as containing Bisphenol A and causing health problems are, to my knowledge, clear hard plastic. That is the kind of plastic that has been shown to leach yucky stuff into food. I think that the softer #5 (and possibly #4) plastics that most sippy cups are made out of are considered to be safe at this time. I'm just nervous that they will sooner or later be shown to contain some other dangerous substance, and that's why I want to replace some, if not all, of our kid & sippy cups with nonreactive alternatives.**

That is the end of today's PSA. Hee hee.

Good health to you and yours!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This is My Family

Tonight while returning today's unfortunate collection of half-dead roly polys to their natural habitat in the flower bed, I accidentally stuck the top of my head into a spiderweb. I don't know how long my hair and the spiderwebs were in contact before I figured it out, so when I came back inside I was sort of freaked out, imagining bugs in my hair. I asked Slipshod to check and take out anything that shouldn't be there. Of course he took the opportunity to give me a hard time.

"Oh my god, look at this!" He reached up to pull something out, and yanked. Then he presented me with his white, web-like discovery.

"That's my HAIR, you dork!"

"Look at how white it is!"

"Ow. Yeah, I see. Thanks."

He reached up again. "There are a whole bunch of them!"

"STOP! I only wanted you to look for bugs. Yeesh."


My sister's pet bunny died on Thursday and when I told Sweet Pea her response was a concerned,

"Awww maaaaaaaan - now they'll never see him again. And they'll have to go back to the pet store and get another bunny."

Sometimes I worry that she's growing up to be a little too materialistic when she makes a comment like that... but she won't understand what it feels like to lose a pet until she loses one of her own. Then she'll understand that you can't just go get another one and feel better.

She does love animals, though, and not just kitties anymore. She discovered roly polys - I believe I mentioned that in a post a while back - just before her birthday. She got so into "taking care" of them that one of her grandmas got her a "bug shack" for her birthday. She now believes that she must collect and care for roly polys every day. I make her put them back outside every night that I remember, and usually those days they live to see the flower bed again. But I don't always remember to make her put them back, and then... well, roly polys are scavengers, so yesterday's dead roly polys are today's roly poly food. Yuck. ha ha!

But during the day, Sweet Pea spends hours on end "taking care" of those little critters. She tears up grass and rips up leaves and adds water to make them "bug stew" and "bug cereal," she takes them out of their cage and lets them walk around on her hands and in small bowls and plates from her play kitchen so that they will get exercise, she gives them drinks. Yes, she sometimes drops them when she has them out to exercise. I stepped on one today and felt horrible, but I didn't know there were any bugs on the floor! Now she's not allowed to take them out and let them roam inside the house. Slipshod thinks it's funny, because he used to do the same thing as a kid. He even lost caterpillars in the house and once had a butterfly hatch out of a chrysalis that was attached to the underside of his desk. As for the drinks - I keep trying to tell her that she just needs to put a tiny drip of water in the cage or a bowl for the bugs and that will be enough for all of them all day, but we invariably end up with a couple near-drowned bugs in a tiny bowl that has water nearly covering the bottom of it.

Oh well. She's learning. Lots of things.

Sweet Pea still doesn't appear to see much point in wearing clothes if we're not going out and nobody's coming to the house, but thankfully she does know that she has to wear clothes under those circumstances. I am now working with her on the idea that she will not be wearing her favorite kitty shirt to school every day. Especially not on days 2 or 3, when it has yogurt and fruit juice dried on it.


The Bug's new fun thing is opening and closing doors. She can't reach door handles, though, so she is forever closing herself into various bathrooms in the house. She is also very fond of opening the sliding screen door to the back yard, stepping out, closing the door, and then not being able to get back in. But she can get OUT - so we have to keep the glass door closed when we don't want her to go out, which is of course most of the time.


As for me, well, I'm just plugging away. This morning I kicked the kids out of the bathtub until further notice, because my morning shower has turned into a whining fest complete with kids sitting on my feet and fighting with each other. I'm working on moving their evening schedule earlier so that they can eat dinner, get a bath every night (I used to do that as part of Sweet Pea's bedtime ritual but things as they were sort of flew out the window when The Bug came along), and get to bed early so that they have a chance to get the sleep they need every night. Because no matter what time they go to bed, one of them always wakes up during the 6am or 7am hour.

How is that about me? Well, I am the one responsible for the organization and orchestration of these rituals and routines. So wish me luck FINALLY getting my hiney organized. I really have to now, so I'll be able to get The Bug napped, the kids fed, and Sweet Pea to school on time every day. Thank goodness we're able to break ourselves in slowly with only a partial day.

That's about it... nothing exciting going on here, but everyone is making me giggle, what with the white hair removal, partial understanding of death and earnest caretaking of critters at age 4, and insistence on the closing of any and all doors despite a lack of ability to reopen them.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Daggone, I really never expected Sweet Pea to be this excited about going to school until she was actually attending for a while. I guess it's good that we didn't get there to check it out until right before the school year begins.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were there on Monday to talk with the Admissions counselor and to observe a classroom. On Tuesday I had to swing back by because somehow between our classroom observation and the time we got home our information packet, which included our application and other important paperwork, vanished - so I had to go get another one. That night I filled out the application, computed the tuition & other starting costs, moved money between accounts, and wrote the check. Wednesday we went back yet again to drop off the completed application and money, to make sure that Sweet Pea would get a spot.

Which means that we were at the school three days this week. Sweet Pea wanted to go back to the classroom on Tuesday and Wednesday when we were there.

Then this morning, she decided to take matters into her own hands in order to get herself what she wanted. While I took my morning shower the girls were in the shower too, and Sweet Pea washed herself - three times, just to be sure she was clean - and even washed her hair herself. She'd never done that before, and it's really quite a feat considering how much hair she has. When we got out she actually dressed herself willingly and stood still while I brushed and secured her hair out of her eyes. I praised her every step of the way, because the helpfulness and willingness to be groomed were amazing behaviors, especially first thing in the morning.

Once we were all clean and dressed and ready to go downstairs and make breakfast Sweet Pea said, "Okay, I want to go to school now, Mom."

Ha ha ha ha ha! I'm so glad that she's so into this, and even though I am stressed about getting the paperwork taken care of in time and getting her new shoes and etc. etc. etc., I am right there with her in the excitement department. I think she is going to blossom in the classroom and I'm so thrilled to see what will come next for/with her.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Beginning of a New Era

On Friday it hit me - we're really thinking about this. Seriously. We're going to send our first and eldest baby off to school.

That may not sound monumental to you - written that way it really doesn't to me; most people send their kids off to school sooner or later. Most of our friends' kids who are Sweet Pea's age have already been in preschool for a year or two. We're the odd ones out here. The late bloomers.

But I have lived and breathed Sweet Pea since the day she was born. We have been so close, always. She started to become social later than most kids we know and the two of us have always been two peas in a pod.

So on Friday it began - the growing pains for me. Yes, all I had done was make an appointment for a tour of the school. But over the weekend we looked at the tuition and decided we could swing it if we redid our budget. From what we had read and heard from parents whose children attend the Montessori school we were going to visit, we pretty much knew that this was where we wanted to send her. The Montessori method fits Sweet Pea's personality and learning style like a glove.

I worried, of course, about the initial separation. In the past, most times I have mentioned school to her - even when it was just an offhand, "when you're older and you're in school," Sweet Pea would cry, "no, Mommy, I don't want to go to school! I want to stay here with you. I want to be with you forever, ever, EVER!" When I explained to her that there would be teachers, not Mommy, in charge at school she would invariably reply,

"I don't like teachers."

"Grandma and Auntie are teachers."

"Well, I like them..." and she would give the idea of teachers some more thought.

But I knew that once she started school, once she got over me walking away and leaving her there, which would probably happen pretty quickly, Sweet Pea would love school. I can tell she's ready. She adores learning and frequently figures things out by herself and then excitedly shares her discoveries with me. I teach her and Slipshod teaches her and everyone she knows teaches her new things. Those things always come back out, and Sweet Pea knows and is thrilled that she has acquired new knowledge.

Over the weekend I fretted about my baby leaving me. I had to remind myself again and again that it was only for 2 1/2 hours each day. Still, I thought, 5 days per week seems like a lot to start with right off the bat. But 2 1/2 hours is definitely a doable amount of time, for both of us.

Still, I spent extra time smoothing her hair out of her eyes. When she awoke one night and couldn't find me (I was still downstairs) and started to cry I went and laid down with her and spent extra time hugging her, even after she was back asleep.

And through all of that I reminded myself again and again that this is the best thing for her - this is good for her, and I cannot and will not hold her back to fill my own needs. Those things are obvious, of course, but I know that I tend to fall on the "hover mother" end of the scale so I try to be very conscious of what I'm doing so that I will know when to stay where I am and let her walk away.

But, since I am a mother, I also blamed myself. I feel a lot of guilt for how much time I have lost with Sweet Pea over the past year + since The Bug joined our family. I knew that would happen - of course both children need me, and the baby's needs are more immediate most of the time. But I often feel as if I have done a terrible job of juggling both of their needs, and as a result Sweet Pea has become almost as independent as she was not for the first two and a half years of her life. I feel that I have forced her to be a loner and teach herself because I'm not able, or don't know how, to deal with both children at once in the ways they both need me.

I knew we would need to send Sweet Pea to school next year if not this year, and with a great amount of guilt I felt as if I really needed to do that in order for her to keep learning, because of how much time the two of us have lost together during the past year - how little we have read and played together compared to the years before. While I never planned to home school, I obviously do teach my girls all the time, and I feel that I have done a very poor job of keeping that up with Sweet Pea - so school would be a substitute for what I have not been able to give her as much of over the past year.


This morning we went to the school for our tour. We sat in the Admissions counselor's office for quite a long time and she talked with us in detail about Montessori, that particular school, and she answered our questions. During all of this Sweet Pea played quietly on the floor with the toys provided. The Bug played for a while too, but it was her naptime so she came to me more and more frequently signing "milk" and trying to lift up my shirt. I nursed her several times and she tried, fruitlessly, to fall asleep on me.

The Admissions counselor showed us a short video about Montessori while she went to prepare an in-session classroom for our 20-minute observation. When we walked into the classroom there were chairs for Slipshod and I by the door and we were told that Sweet Pea was welcome to move around in the room as she chose during the time we were there. I figured she would probably hang with us for a little bit and then venture out into the room and explore.

Boy, did she surprise me! As soon as the Admissions counselor opened the classroom door, Sweet Pea walked right in like she knew the place. She walked to the center of the room, looked around, walked to the closest toy that looked interesting, and started playing. She looked at us once and then wandered around some more. She found something she didn't quite understand but that caught her interest - a tray with white papers with black outlines of shapes on them, a glue stick, and a bowl of shapes cut out of construction paper. One of the teachers was keeping an eye on Sweet Pea so as soon as she noticed Sweet Pea's interest she went over to her, asked her to identify each shape, and explained how to do the activity on the tray. Sweet Pea thought it seemed like fun so she did the activity and then brought the finished product over to us, pleased with her work.

Then she walked back to the same area and the teacher set her up to do a little bit of painting. She returned, proudly gave me her drawing of "an arrow," then went back to see what else she could find. Her next choice was a tray with a jar of beads and a string, and some cards showing ideas for different patterns of beads to string. As she did the first pattern she looked over at me and said, "Hey Mom, this isn't hard at all!"

Watching this, witnessing her complete readiness to immediately embrace this new environment (something I have NEVER seen her do before, by the way) and her thirst for learning in that environment, the guilt left me right then and there. I realized that this school was where she needed to be. Even if I was still able to give her the same amount of my time as before, she needs the new experiences that she will get there. She also really, really needs to be among a larger number of kids on a regular basis (and some girls would be nice - our neighborhood is very boy-heavy; boys are nice, but I want her to have some girls for playmates/friends too).

The Admissions counselor returned to retrieve us because our 20 minutes were up, but Sweet Pea was hooked. Slipshod had to encourage her to leave the activity because our time was up, and we left the classroom. We got an information packet and forms to fill out for admission. I asked Sweet Pea if she had enjoyed being in the classroom and if she would like to attend the school.

"Mmm - hmm," she said.

"A positive response is good," I thought, "but it's easy to respond to a question - not quite the same as expressing one's own interest."

Minutes later, on the way out to the car, Sweet Pea said, "I WEALLY want to go here, Mom."

I am so happy to see her reacting this way.

I am so excited for her.

I still don't know how the first week of drop-offs will go when school starts, but I now feel that Sweet Pea will be just fine, even on the first day, very quickly after I am out of view. I'm betting she won't even look back after the first couple days. I think that this Montessori school is the perfect environment for her right now, and I feel so very fortunate not just that we will be able to send her there, but that we just happen to live so close to such a great school right now, exactly when she needs it!

And now, our lives will change. Not just because Sweet Pea will have interests outside the house, and new friends, and will probably start bringing home new and disgusting illnesses on a regular basis. Now we will be beholden to a school schedule for the next umpteen years. Now we will have to walk our children around the block while they knock on doors to try to sell things as fundraisers for the school. Now we will have to form new relationships with teachers and administrators and of course other parents.

And now... now, I will have to share my baby with the world.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Another Ketchup Splat (i.e., catching up quickly)

  • The vet could not find anything terribly wrong with Lois the cat. She talked about how pets have personalities just like people and it's probable from Lois' behavior and the throwing up that she is stressed out and may have a kitty ulcer or at least acid reflux - which is not good in a cat because since they walk on all fours, the acid just keeps coming up. We've tried two kinds of Pepcid but she refuses to take them. We may have to pill her, which is a horrible thing to do with cats (speaking from personal experience - there is a LOT of fighting from the cat when you shoot a pill down its throat; who'da thunk? argh), especially since she may need to take Pepcid for the rest of her life. The vet took some blood to test for the big nasty cat viruses just to make sure she doesn't have anything life-threatening that we can't see by checking for sore spots and fever (she did not have any sore spots or any fever when we were at the vet's office).
  • Yesterday was a pretty darn sucky day for us. I felt fine, though tired, but that's normal, in the morning. The Bug was not napping at the time when she usually does so I kept working with her to get her into nap mode. When I took her upstairs one of those times I discovered that I was suddenly REALLY dizzy if I looked anywhere but straight ahead of me. When I looked down or up or tilted my head sideways, I got incredibly, nearly falling-over dizzy, and nauseous as well. Scary that I discovered all of this while walking up the stairs holding the baby. We made it okay because I leaned against the wall and held onto the railing. I called Slipshod and he came home from work, brought lunch for everyone, and then we all piled into the car to take me to see the doctor. As luck would have it it wasn't worth the trip. I'm glad it was nothing major, but we drove over an hour each way (still haven't gotten a local doctor for the grown-ups in the family) and spent a relatively miserable dinner in a restaurant for no reason. Better than being in two hour traffic with hungry, cranky kids, though. The problem? Almost two years ago I had a viral inner ear infection. Apparently I had some scarring or something in my eustacean tube on the right side, because ever since then if I get even a little fluid in my head due to even a mild cold, I get dizzy. I knew this but yesterday's bout came on much more suddenly and was much more severe than usual, so I thought something else might be going on.
  • In good, happy news, I finally got off my arse this week and called the nearby Motessori school and set up a tour. We'll be checking the place out next Monday at 10am. I'm excited to see the place and talk to the admissions counselor and find out what it's like there. The school has afternoons in the Primary (ages 3-5) program open. Monday through Friday from 1pm-3:30pm. Five days a week seems like way too much to start with, but two and a half hours sounds like a doable amount of time. Sweet Pea is pretty darn apprehensive, as you might expect for a kid who has never been away from me much. She has spent some time without me and even without her daddy or grandparents, but not on a regular basis. Still, I think that once she got used to the classroom, teachers and other kids, she'd be fine. Of course I'm totally getting ahead of myself. We don't even know if we can afford this school - Monday's tour is just to get a look and find out about tuition and all that good stuff. I do hope that when we do send Sweet Pea to school, whether that is this September or later, that we can afford to start her off at a Montessori school. I think that their program would nurture her long attention span. I am scared of a regular classroom teaching her to have the attention span of a flea, based on what I saw in the parks & rec class last winter.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Today's Highlights So Far...

  • While I was upstairs getting The Bug out of her crib after her nap and then changing her diaper and starting a load of laundry, Sweet Pea, who was playing in the kitchen sink because we had been washing dishes together, decided that she was scared to run the five feet to the bathroom by herself because "there were smashers in the bathroom," so she peed all over the floor and the stepladder she'd been standing on. This is actually the first accident in a while, but I'm grumpy about it because it sounds like she decided, yet again, simply not to go to the bathroom and sit on the pot. Oh well. Today I'm not making a big deal out of it, I'm just grumpy. She got my squishy mat in front of the sink wet with pee and I don't know how to clean it. I guess I'll just hose off the affected corner...
  • The Bug poured over half a container of baby yogurt onto herself and her seat during lunch. I hope I can get things cleaned up (part of it goes in the washer & desperately needs that level of attention) before dinner. Had to take her pants off and her onesie even got wet through the pants, so it looks like I'll have to change her entire outfit.
  • Lois the cat has been acting not herself for months, actually. She has become REALLY bitchy with her brother, Clark, and has also growled at the girls a few times. Lately she looks like she might be losing weight and I can see her inner eyelids a bit - the ones that go from the inside corner toward the outside corner - the ones you're not supposed to be able to see. Yesterday and today she has not been able to keep any food down.
  • The girls and I will be taking her to see the vet at 3pm today. I feel badly for having waited so long, since she started acting off so long ago. Part of the time I thought it was my imagination and I didn't want to pay for a vet visit she didn't need. Then there was Clark's big episode with the cat fight and the high temperature and the antibiotics and painkillers. But there is definitely something wrong with Lois, and I hope I haven't waited long enough for a small problem to have turned into a big one.
  • Because of Sweet Pea's penchant for "taking care" of her cats and now her sister by making a "fun play place" for them (translation: she sticks them in a very confined area, surrounded on all sides by chairs, bookshelves, step stools, whatever she can find - and then forces all the toys she can find into that same small space), The Bug has learned to say, "want out!"
  • The girls have had a cold all week. Sweet Pea started first and had one night during which she could barely breathe. Then the next day she seemed totally better, though there are still some snorkely noises at night, I've noticed. Two nights ago was the hard night for The Bug. She woke up twice before I went to bed and then almost every hour thereafter until sunrise. She still seems to feel a little bit off, but is much better today than she was yesterday.
  • Got our fridge fixed yesterday. Hooray! As a bonus, it didn't even cost as much as we thought it would. I had the guy look at our garbage disposal too, since it has stopped working, and he pronounced it dead. That one is covered by our landlords, though.

Name Change

Okay, it was late and I was tired when I made that last post. Since then I have come up with a much better blog name for Sweet Pea's little boyfriend. I'm going to call him Speed Racer. ha ha!