Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Random Bits and Pieces: October

Happy Halloween! Clare dressed as a strawberry this year. She looked adorable, of course. I had big plans to take all sorts of pictures of her at the Halloween at the Zoo event on Sunday, but then I went to the Packer game instead. All well. It was my first game at Lambeau Field, I couldn’t turn down that ticket! It was a blast, although many of the people around me were much louder and drunker than I was. I am okay with that. And the Packers won, even though they looked bad. Yay.


Clare did get to wear her costume a few other times, though. We went to two Halloween parties at her daycare center. At one of the parties, she got to eat an Oreo, which of course was the highlight of her life so far. She also went trick or treating at Grandma Jo’s and Babba’s (her word for Grandpa). She definitely enjoyed the chocolate she got there - at least the chocolate that made it into her mouth. (The rest was on her face.) She also discovered the jar of M&Ms I have out in our house. I let her have one, and she has not forgotten. She begs for one every time we walk past the jar. She hasn’t received a second one, because I realized they are probably kind of a choking hazard. Oops.  Luckily I will be putting that away with the Halloween decorations, so it will be out of her sight.

"Where's my candy?"

"I said, where's my candy, woman?"

After-candy. Also after a change of pants thanks to diaper leakage.

Those of you with small children: did you children ever go through a phase where they seem to eat absolutely nothing? (Besides Oreos, of course.) Clare is not eating much these days. She is still (ALERT: TMI AHEAD) pooping regularly, and doesn’t seem to be losing weight, so I think she is okay? I don’t know. She has had a cold for about three weeks, but her appetite has only been affected the last few days ago. Any advice will be appreciated.


I had to post some pictures of Clare in this adorable coat  and hat she got from my friend Chelsea. I wouldn’t mind wearing this coat myself, actually. Also: obligatory comment about time flying – can you believe it is the end of October already! What? How?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I Don't Know

We moved from St. Paul to Evansville six years ago. At first, when someone asked me if I wanted to move back, I always answered with a resounding yes. But something funny has happened. The longer we are here, the more comfortable I get. Yes, I miss my friends. I would love to have weekly (or at least monthly?) lunches or happy hours with my girlfriends. I’d love to see my sister more than every other month. (Although who knows how long she’ll be there.)  I’d love to take Clare to all of the wonderful places Minneapolis has to offer. (The zoo! The sculpture gardens!) Yes, Evansville is boring. But it is also peaceful. And my parents are just 10 miles away. I see kids outside, riding their bikes to the park and the library, and I think boring is what we need right now. A small town seems like the perfect place for Clare to grow up. (Although, if she is anything like her mother she will hightail it out of here the second she can.)

But. Ben is not happy at his job. He misses his friends. I want him to be happy, and to have opportunities to advance in his career. And those opportunities are not here. So then I think, well, maybe moving back would be a good thing. Then I think about my parents and feel guilty. I know they would be sad if we moved. And I know plenty of people don’t live near their families, but I see the people who do and think, “I want that.” I am jealous of my friends whose families all live in the same area. Ben and I will never be in that situation. Of course, even if we are in the Twin Cities, we are still in the same time zone as my parents, unlike my sister-in-law, who is not even on the same continent as her family. (Besides us, of course!) I am sure she would love it if her parents were only a 5 hour drive away.

So what do I want? I don’t know. Would I want to stay here if my parents weren’t here? Maybe not.
I know we need to make the decision based on what is right for our little family, and not what is right for anyone else. I have a hard time doing that, though. I always, always think about how at least five other people might react to this decision. And then I feel guilty. I need to learn how to make decisions based on what is right for me (and of course Ben and Clare), without influence from others.

How do I do that? And what do I want? I don’t know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dance, Dance, DANCE

Has anybody seen the show Dinosaur Train on PBS? We watch it once in awhile, because it airs just before Sesame Street. It is kind of a strange little show, but I have learned a lot about various species of dinosaurs. I don’t think Clare has learned anything, other than that she likes colorful cartoons. Anyway, last week there was an episode that featured Mrs. Pteranodon (the mother in the family, whose name would be the equivalent to me being named Mrs. Human, but ANYWAY), singing a song about how she would always be her childrens’ mom, no matter how old the were, or how many miles away they lived, it would never change the fact that she was their mom. I just SOBBED. It’s crazy, isn’t it? A children’s cartoon is reducing me to tears.  It’s just, I started thinking about how I’ll always be Clare’s mom, and that made me so happy. And then I started thinking about how one day she might move miles and miles away from me, and that made me so sad. I don’t know. Motherhood has turned me into an emotional wreck.  (Although, when Clare hits her teenage years maybe I won't hate the idea of her moving miles and miles away? You never know.)

We went to a wedding last weekend in Willmar, Minnesota. I have never been out that far west on Highway 12 before, and it was interesting driving through all of the small towns. Of course, they didn't look much different from the Wisconsin small town where I live, except for perhaps fewer bars? There were lots of Dairy Queens, though, and some beautiful lake country. On Sunday, Ben informed me that we had driven through the town with the largest ball of twine in the world! (It’s true!) I was so disappointed that I didn’t know this then. I would have stopped! How often do you get to see something like that? Not that often.

The wedding was for Ben’s aunt, and she looked beautiful. During the ceremony, Clare applauded after all of the music. I eventually had to take her out because she was making too much noise, but she enjoyed herself while it lasted. And at the reception, she was ready to dance - not quite as energetically as some of her second cousins, but she has some moves. Sort of.

Yeah, she was out before her head hit the carseat on the drive home.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

My Two Jobs

I know I’ve mentioned before that I am only working outside the home three days a week. I am “off” on Wednesdays and Fridays. When I was leaving a few days ago, my co-worker said to me, “Well, at least you have tomorrow off! Enjoy it.” No. I am not “off.” I am still working. And the job I am working is many times more difficult, more tiring, and more thankless than my “career.” Oh, and I don’t get paid for it.

My days at home consist of many, many rounds of diaper changes, battles over breakfast, lunch, and dinner, loads and loads of laundry, dishes piled up in the sink waiting to be tackled, and schlepping a 16 month old who hates her car seat around town running various errands. I usually don’t manage to fit in a shower. If I am lucky, I’ll get a half hour to catch up on some TV. If I am very lucky, I might even page through a magazine for 5 minutes. My point: it is a day without breaks, chatting with co-workers, sipping coffee, catching up on articles online. My adult interaction is limited to small talk with the librarian or the cashier at Target. And at the end of the day, my house still looks like a bomb went off, despite all of my efforts to tidy-up.

Okay. Deep breath. Step back. It sounds like I am complaining here. I don’t mean to. (Well, I meant to complain about my co-worker, I guess. This is not the first time she has said this to me. I have heard it from many other people, too.)  I enjoy chasing Clare around. We play games and go to the park. We make silly faces at each other and laugh hysterically about them. I think she likes having time at home with me, too. I kiss her a thousand times a day, and I wouldn’t trade cuddling on the couch and reading books with her for anything. My point is, though, that it is still WORK. It is not a vacation day. I have very little time for myself. I think too often people assume that because you are not in an office or on location somewhere at your job, you are not really working.  I am usually more tired at the end of the day on my days at home than I am after a full day of working at the office.

I know the interwebs are full of people sniping at each other about who is the better parent – a mom who works or a mom who stays home. I don’t intend to get into that debate. I am a big believer that a happy mom is a good mom, whether working outside the home or staying home full time. Or doing a little bit of both, like I do. And I consider myself very lucky to have the option to work part time, because I know many people aren’t able to do that. I think we just need to remember that regardless of what path we choose or if there is a salary involved, ALL moms are working moms.

P.S. Since I am in a ranting mood, can I just say that November 6th cannot get here soon enough? I am so sick of all the lying liars and their LIES. Ugh. Okay, I am done now.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

16 months

 Clare’s vocabulary is starting to expand, but she remains very attached to one particular word. An example of a recent “conversation,” held because I was trying to figure out why she was being a fussbudget:

Me: Do you have a wet diaper?
Clare: No.
Me: Are you hungry?
Clare: No.
Me: Are you thirsty?
Clare: No.
Me: Are you tired?
Clare: No.
Me: Do you want to go the park?
Clare: No.
Me: Do you want to play with your ball?
Clare: No.
Me: Do you want to meet Elmo in person?
Clare: No.
Me: Do you want a trip to Disney World?
Clare: No.
Etcetera to infinity.

In addition to her words from last month, she now says: ball, elbow, bye-bye, nose, and night-night. She is very proud of herself when she correctly uses one of the words. The other day we were driving home from Milwaukee, and Clare was in the backseat saying “Ball! Cheese! Ball! Cheese!” Over and over and over. She has also started having extensive conversations with whoever I am speaking to on the phone. The other night she said, “Bye-bye Dada,” to Ben. It was pretty cute. She can correctly point to her nose, ears, head, cheeks, lips, feet and belly. She loves to show off her belly, when asked where it is she immediately pulls up her shirt.

Clare is very much her father’s daughter, in some kind of funny (to me) ways. She doesn’t like it when her hands are sticky. Dirty is fine, sticky is a major problem. She has an impish little grin, which she employs whenever she is doing something she knows she shouldn’t. (Ben smiles the same way when he is doing something to annoy me.) She is quickly frustrated if she can’t get something right away, like putting pieces in their correct spot on a board puzzle, and will have a bit of a tantrum. Yes, Ben does that too. (Especially with those board puzzles. They really stump him.)

She is up to 16 teeth. She doesn’t always use them, though. She spit an entire piece of ham into my hand the other day because she was trying to suck on it rather than chew it and she choked.  Speaking of food, my good eater is gone. She has gotten so picky! The other night she ate sour cream and corn flakes for dinner. Disgusting, but true. The next night, she just had an absolute fit when I set down her plate.  I tried to reason with her, which of course didn’t work. Then I gave her a fork. The tears stopped. She still didn’t eat much of her dinner, but at least I figured out one thing – the girl wants to eat with a fork, even though she can barely use it.  So much of dealing with a toddler is a guessing game.  I feel so proud of myself when I get it right! I should buy some stickers and give myself a gold star.

One night last week, she outright stole my dinner.

Yes, that is broccoli she is shoving into her mouth. Like I said, a guessing game. I never know what she will eat. I guess I can’t blame her, though. My dinner did look a lot better than this, which is what she was originally offered:

On Friday we went to the park. Clare played on the swings for a while, squealing with delight as I pushed her back and forth. We sat at the picnic table and had a snack, watching the cars drive by. I just wanted to bottle up that day.  Clare kicking her feat back and forth as she sat on the bench, eating her crackers (and feeding them to me), talking about the cars. Me telling her what is going on around her. Her slamming my phone out of my hand when I checked my email. I wish we could do that every day. And next time I’ll leave the phone at home.

We went to visit my grandparents in La Crosse this weekend. Here we were in the bluffs of Minnesota, overlooking the Mississippi and La Crosse.

With her "ball" aka a delicious Fireside apple.

Ready to take dinner out of the oven. Photo by Uncle Robby.
PS. I finished Gone Girl. I really liked it, but it made me tired and kind of angry. I was happy to read a book that I felt strongly about, though. I haven't read one like that in awhile.

PPS. The Packers apparently suck, and it appears the Vikings are good. Not just luck.