Monday, January 30, 2012

No Mo' Monday

"It's just another manic Monday" ~ The Bangles

Oh, Monday. You've really done it this time. It's only lunchtime and enough has gone wrong to warrant some serious missing of my babies. We had the best weekend together. The kind that made me so thankful for my sweet family. We hit the zoo on Saturday (photos to come!), celebrated my dad's birthday that evening, and managed to have some relaxing time at home together on Sunday. Yesterday evening I had Z all cuddly in my lap while we watched Q playing with his "guys" and trucks, and T was putting on some music in the kitchen as the last rays of the winter sun lingered on the couch. I thought, these are the moments. The small ones that I want to hang onto.

And then we had to go our separate ways today. Some Mondays I'm grateful for a little me time at work. But today I was more than hesitant to leave them. So I will take this moment to gaze unabashedly at my little loves. Because really they are the best kind of therapy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

{Sponsored Video} Q's Kind Nums: Chocolate Milk!

"Here we are, folks. The dream we all dream of . . . " ~ Prince

Mama versus 3 year old in the world series of food. The battle royale. Me pushing the kale chips. Q climbing the chair to get to the fruit snacks in the upper cabinets of the pantry. I admit that I have often succumbed to defeat to avoid the confrontation. I'm just not that competitive. Boo on Mama.

I realized that I was tired of losing. I needed to find the healthiest "kind nums" (Q-speak for treats) and then we would both feel like we had won. So, when Q asked for chocolate milk after a sneaky introduction by his Poppa, I tried to find one I would feel happy about giving him. Have you ever looked at how much freakin' sugar is in a serving of the typical chocolate milk? Ridiculous. It's tantamount to giving him a soda, and that's the last thing he needs in his repertoire of kind nums. So I managed to find the ultimate chocolate milk from Horizon Organic that naturally has less sugar than most brands, comes free of any hormones or artificial nastiness, and tastes great, too. Q is happy. I'm happy. Winning all around! And when I sneak one for myself, I don't feel too guilty about it, either.

Check out the adorable and precocious kids in this video from Horizon Organic with some real talk about eating healthy:

I'm thinking of starting a series of Q's Kind Nums posts to keep me inspired to find healthy snacks for my little sweet toothed guy. I'd love some suggestions from my readers, too. What kind of healthy treats do you feed your kiddos?

*This post is sponsored by Horizon Organic.*

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dad!

"When a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes" ~ The Platters

I don't write much about my dad on this blog. I mention him on occasion in reference to his Poppa status to Q and Z. It's a shame that I don't talk about him more, and it makes me realize just how much I take him for granted. I don't mean to. He's pretty amazing. I hope he knows that I think so.

Today my dad turns 66 years young. And I truly mean the young part -- he's in awesome shape, much better than I am at 34. He rides his bike every day along the coast in Pacifica for a couple of hours. It's become an integral part of his day, part of his routine. It's more than exercise for him. It's catharsis. It's physical and mental health. He started cycling regularly when my mom was sick. It was his only time just for him. He spent the rest of his days and nights caring for my mom. He retired from his design business. Closed up shop to be with her.

Since my mom passed, my dad continues to give much of his time to others. He spends every Thursday (and often other days of the week) helping his 96-year-old father with errands, taking him to appointments, and even accompanying him to social events (yes, my grandfather gets out more than I do). He volunteers regularly for his church. And of course he spends every Monday with Q. When I was on maternity leave, he came over every Friday as well to take Q to the park and to visit with Z. There were some mornings when I was counting the minutes until he would arrive, I was so overwhelmed with the transition to two. I'm pretty sure I didn't thank him enough for being there for us. He's not the kind of guy who responds well to gushing anyway.

When I was a little girl, my dad and I had a special relationship. He would sing to me (see the song quote above for an example). We would dance together in the evenings when my mom was at school. He was the funniest guy I knew. But as sometimes happens, we grew a little distant through my teen years. I could still talk to him about movies and politics and pop culture. But let's just say he wasn't my confidante when it came to all of the angst that arises through the hormone-heavy teen years. Then when I went off to college, I would call home and say hi to him and, yes, school was good, and then . . . is Mom there? My mom and I obviously had more to talk about. Or at least she was really good at listening to me babble on endlessly. I complained that he wasn't interested in talking to me. He was in his own world. He always started listening a little too late in the story ("Who's going bowling?" "Um, nobody, Dad. I was talking about Spanish class.") We often communicated through my mom. I think she worried about what kind of relationship my dad and I would have if she wasn't around.

But there's no need to worry, Mom. We've come together in the ways we know how. We talk more on the phone both out of necessity and because Q and Z provide easy bonding opportunities. Even when he's being a little spacy or seemingly uninterested in what I'm talking about, I know he's there for me. And I hope he knows I'm there for him, too. Whenever we go to a wedding, I'm proud to be his dance partner. I'll be his date for the movies any time. When someone compliments my fashion sense, I credit my dad for always looking so put-together. And when he wants to talk about how much he misses my mom, I'm readily available to listen and to commiserate.

Happy Birthday to a wonderful dad, doting Poppa, and all-around honorable man! Thank you for helping me to raise my children and for continuing to help me grow. I hope you can forgive the gushfest on your birthday.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Questions of Questionable Parenting

"Why? Why? Tell 'em that it's human nature" ~ Michael Jackson

As a relatively new parent, particularly when it comes to parenting more than one at a time, I have many questions about the normalcy of my household. And my sanity (or lack thereof). Perhaps these are the questions I would ask my mom if she were still only a phone call away. In desperate times, I sometimes look toward the ceiling and ask these questions aloud as if some response will magically rain down from the popcorn (don't worry -- our home was a built in 1979, so no asbestos; phew, now we can enjoy the chic, vintage texture of our ceilings without fearing for our lives!). But really I direct these to all experts in parenting. I'm looking at you, incredible mom or dad of more than two kids.

1. Is it normal for a 3 year old to stick his finger down his baby sister's throat?

2. Is it normal for the mother to then stick her finger down her son's throat and ask "now does that feel good?" And proceed to burst into tears for doing so and convince herself that she's damaged him for life?

3. Is it expected that a mother would simultaneously do anything for a good night's sleep and stay up late just to have more than a few minutes to herself?

4. Is it expected to struggle through conversations with an adult because your daily language has been reduced to the words "no, we don't do that", "gentle", "these are your choices", and "no more kind nums"?

5. Why do I want to sniff my kids constantly like a freakin' police dog? Why do they smell better than anything else in the world (most of the time)?

6. Oh! Also, is lifting your kid's backside to your nose an acceptable way to check for a dirty diaper?

7. Why do I want to get the h-e-doublehockeysticks out of my house in the morning only to want to rush home again at the end of the work day?

8. Is it okay to keep a child in his crib until he's old enough to sit in a car without a carseat? (Don't you have to be like 15 now to ride in a car without some sort of harnessed safety contraption?)

9. Is it typical to experience overwhelming joy, confusion, all-consuming anger, anxiety, and grief all within a 3 minute period while sitting on your family room floor? And I'm not talking about the 3 year old here.

I guess I just want someone to tell me that this crazytown formerly known as Guido is at least somewhat run of the mill. You know, par for the parenting course.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Holy Hunger Pains, Heifer

"Mouth is alive with juices like wine and I'm hungry like the wolf" ~ Duran Duran

I'm hungry. Like all of the time. I had sort of forgotten that this is what happens when you're shooting milk into the mouth of a babe with a healthy appetite every couple of hours. I mean, I remember wanting to eat a lot when I nursed Q and how nice it was to be able to eat more than usual and have the baby suck the calories right out of you. Sure, I'll admit it. I'm one of those lucky bitches who loses the majority of her baby weight from breastfeeding. I'm trying to enjoy the moment. Because someday I will have to stop breastfeeding, and then the joke will be on me. It should coincide nicely with the complete loss of youthful metabolism. Then I will have to cease and desist with the muffins and the bread and the cheese and the chocolate and the pasta and the pastries and the grilled cheese chocolate sandwiches. Kidding about that last. Sort of. 

And now that I'm back at work I'm hungrier than ever. At home on maternity leave I would graze throughout the day, eating breakfast and lunch with Q, finishing his leftovers, picking at his snacks, having my own meal and snack when he napped, etc. (I'm sort of making myself sick here. Yet I am still hungry somehow.) At work, I pump more milk than I would normally feed Zoe. Just in case, you know? And of course I'm rushing to get out of the house in the morning and rarely give myself time to pack a healthy lunch with smart snacks. I know, I know. Pack one the night before. But Whole Foods is right across the street and it calls to me even when I've packed a lunch. Need. More. Food.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm essentially a dairy cow. I need to graze on "grass" all day long to be able to produce enough milk and to keep on meandering through the field. The field being my brain. Even when I wasn't BF'ing, I'd turn into a cold, hard witch of a woman if I went without food for too long. Now I get dizzy and lose all coherent mental functioning if I don't eat. The other morning when I didn't have much breakfast, I was telling Zoe that we were going to the place where they take your clothes and make them nice again because I couldn't remember the words "dry cleaner." And yes, I felt the need to tell my 4 month old about this errand.

It's also the time of year when every one is starting a cleanse or going on a diet. Kicking off 2012 with a healthy start and all of that. You know what it reminds me of? Food. A small part of me feels guilty for not joining the masses and committing to healthier living. But hey, I'm burning calories at an alarming rate here. Feed me, Seymour!

I just shoveled one of those frozen Trader Joe's cheese and spinach pastas in my mouth while typing this and I'm still famished. What's for lunch?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Squawks and Squeals: Zoe's 4 Month Day

"Before the night is through, you will see my point of view, even if I have to scream and shout" ~ Prince

Hey little Zo-Zo. It's been four months now and I'm in love. In love with your oddly comforting corn tortilla scent. With the way you look up at me with unabashed adoration. I hope you see that same love in my eyes returned. Because I love every bit of you. Even the patch of eczema on your head. Even when you spit up all over my cashmere sweater (my bad for wearing cashmere while holding you). Even the way your cries quickly turn into high-pitched screams if your needs are not met soon enough. Okay, those aren't always my favorite, but I think you feel me. Most of the time you're beaming your smile to the moon anyway.

Your favorite activity of late is squawking and squealing because, hey, you can! It's novel! It's entertaining! It's also good practice for talking, yes? Everybody says you're going to be quite the talker. And while all of your vocalizations delight me, I also fear for the potentially loud teenager you will become. But now is not the time to worry about the future. It's time to celebrate four months of your precious life, so go ahead and shout, shout, let it all out.

Your eyebrows are typically raised as you absorb the world around you. It's all pretty exciting, isn't it? For instance, you just noticed Elroy for the first time and I thought your eyebrows were going to travel up and over the back of your head, you were in such awe.

At 4 months you are a very healthy girl, despite a lingering cough you borrowed from your big bro. You are 14 pounds, 10 ounces (80th percentile) and 26 inches long (98th percentile!). You're starting to take to the bottle like mommy and her Cabernet a champ, which is a relief since you weren't too thrilled about it early on. You'll be with a nanny a couple of times a week now that I'm back at work, so it's good timing. High five, baby (as Q would say)! You're still Spitty McSpitterson, but at least you seem much more comfortable and are getting some regular doses of probiotics with your bottles.

You still sleep pretty well but not like those 8 to 10 hour stints you were pulling a few weeks back. That pesky cough is waking you up, but hopefully you will be back to sleeping for long stretches once again. And someday you will sleep in your own room and in your own crib. But for now, I will cherish all of this cuddle time, breathing in your sweet scent, and listening to your happy squeals when you wake up every morning.

Zoe, it's your month day. Happy 4 month day, Zoe!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

That's the Magic Number: Happy 3rd Birthday, Q!

"Three! Yeah, that's the magic number" ~ Bob Dorough

Wow, Q. Just wow. Today you are 3 years old. It amazes me that I've only know you for three years, that I know you better than anyone I've ever known and it's only been three years. It amazes me that you are already three years old, that just a minute ago you were two, that just yesterday you were one, that a week or two ago you were just entering this mad, mad world. You are leaving the world of toddlerhood behind and entering boyhood. Sometimes I look at you and can't believe how big you've grown, how much you look like a boy and not a baby. Sometimes I look at you and find it incredible that you're this little guy, so small with so much growing yet to do. Such big, innocent eyes of blue.

You have such a zest and curiosity for all that life has to offer. Instead of asking the typical "what's that?" when you see something new and intriguing, you simply say, "That?!" -- half question, half exclamation. I say, "That's a unicycle." Or, "I know. That's a big crane!" We start speech therapy next week, so you may be saying "what's that?" soon enough, but for now I will enjoy the simplicity-mixed-with-excitement of your expression. 

You have gone through a big ol' heap of changes in the last few months and it's been rough on you. I know that. From watching your mom's belly grow so big that she couldn't carry you far to starting preschool to sharing your home with baby sister to dislocating your elbow. You need your mommy more than ever and my energy is split between you and your sister. But you're starting to adjust. You are embracing the role of big brother as you entertain Z with your silliness and songs. "Baby-town, baby-town, baby-town, baby-town . . ." you sing as you tickle her legs. I have no idea where that came from, but it sure does crack us up.

Already looking up to her big bro.

You love music, which makes us so proud. You're a drummer, but you want to blow a horn, strum a guitar, and tinker with a piano, too. You even try to imitate Biz's beatboxing. Let it flow, Q, let yourself go!

When we've asked how old you're going to be on your birthday, you say "three and half." No, sweet boy, just three for now. Please don't rush forward six months. It's all going by way too fast as it is. Happy Birthday, Quincy Kye! You are my favorite little guy. The apple of my eye. I'll stop rhyming before you cry . . . or I do.