Almost happy*

Warning: I’m totally scattered right now, so this post is going to be really disjointed and all over the place. I’ll throw in a bunch of cute kid photos to make it worth your while.

It appears that I am going to be moving in about, oh, a week and a half. I’m kind of in denial about it. My parents are running around the house throwing all of my stuff into boxes, while I focus on the kids or work or whatever, but la-la-la, I’m not thinking about packing. It seems to be working so far, since I haven’t freaked out yet.

(Oh, did I mention that my dad is here for Thanksgiving? He booked his flight before he knew that he’d be moving up here 3 weeks from now. We’re glad to have him. Even though he and my mom bicker like… well, like a couple that’s been married for almost 42 years, I guess. But Catie and Lucy both adore him, so it’s good to have him around. Most of the time. I’m personally getting a little tired of the “So hey, why DID your marriage fail, anyway?” inquisition. Sigh. Thanks for that, Dad.)

Ok, moving on! Other random stuff, which I shall number to make it seem more like an ordered list of events, and less like I’m in dire need of ADHD medication.

1. I’ve been sick for over two weeks now. I finally gave up and went to the doctor, where I found out that I have both a sinus and ear infection. So that’s fun. Hooray for antibiotics!

2. Lucy seemed to be coming down with the same crud that I have, and I freaked out at the thought of her being as sick as I am. Turns out she got something much milder than me. She was a little feverish for a day or so, and she seems to have a bad case of Drippy Nose, but other than that, she’s still her normal happy, cheerful self. Thank God for small favors. The Drippy Nose is gross, but it’s manageable.

Had to take a break from packing to take the (still drippy-nosed) baby for a walk.

See? She sure doesn’t LOOK sick.

3. Catie had her second appointment with a counselor. It was good. We took silly pictures of ourselves in the waiting room.

Making silly faces.

She seems to be doing pretty well. We’re working through it as best we can.

4. We’re having a ridiculously mild fall, and I have to admit that I’m loving it. I adore the in-between weather when the highs are in the 60s, it’s so nice. I’ve been taking Catie to the playground a lot lately, even though I’ve been sick and I’m sure I sound like I’m going to keel over and die of tuberculosis right next to the monkey bars. On Sunday, I had to take a break from all of the cleaning and packing and take both of my girls to the playground.

I didn’t get any pictures of Catie at the playground, because it’s impossible to take a non-blurry photo of a whirling dervish. That girl never stopped moving for a second. But while we were there, I thought I’d try Lucy out in the baby swing for the first time. I balled up my hoodie and stuffed it in the swing behind her to keep her from flopping around too much.

Lucy's first time in the swing.

She LOVED it. Like, I’ve never seen her laugh that hard for that long, ever. It was fantastic.

5. Also on the topic of Lucy’s first milestones, last night we gave her a taste of her first “real” (non-pureed) vegetable. It was my mom’s green beans, which are already really soft, and then I chopped them up into tiny, non-choke-able baby-size pieces.

Lucy, aka The Mess-Maker

She loved them, but hoo boy, what a mess. Still, it was pretty hilarious to watch her lean over and try to slurp the green beans off of the high chair tray. So overall? Totally worth it.

Lucy, aka The Mess-Maker

Yeah. Definitely worth it.

6. I just checked and verified that, yep, I am indeed moving in NINE DAYS. Ok, maybe I am starting to freak out a little.

* This is the name of the song that was playing on my iPod when I started typing this. It’s by a band called K’s Choice. Seemed appropriate.

realizing I can't pick my child's friends

Last summer, I blogged about a little girl in Catie’s daycare class who was bossing Catie around. It just occurred to me that I hadn’t really said anything else about it since then.

In the last several months, I’ve learned quite a few things about this girl, Allie, and her home life, which kind of make me feel bad for her. Like:

  • Her parents divorced after Dad started banging his secretary. (Seriously, could that be more of a cliche? And shouldn’t she be called his admin assistant or something? God.)
  • Both parents are now in new relationships (Dad is still with the secretary, Mom has a new boyfriend). And yet, even with a combined total of FOUR adults on the scene, Allie and her sister spend the majority of their evenings and weekends with Catie’s daycare teacher, Mandy. Like, they regularly spend the night at Mandy’s house. Mandy is a young single mom, and I’m sure that the daycare gig doesn’t pay a ton, so she’s happy to have the extra income from being a part-time baby-sitter/nanny. And honestly, Mandy is awesome with kids, with lots of hugs and kisses and “I love you”s and all of that. But still, it’s got to be pretty shitty to have your parents fawn you off on a paid caretaker rather than spend time with you.
  • Case in point: it was Mandy who brought Allie to Catie’s birthday party. On a Saturday afternoon. Allie’s dad showed up briefly, spent most of the time outside on a “business call” on his cell phone, and then left long before the party was over. Mandy took Allie and her sister home with her afterward. Not to her either of the parents’ houses.
  • Mandy brought an old broken cell phone for the kids to play with in the “housekeeping” area of the classroom. When Allie was playing with it, her imaginary conversation went like this: “You need to get over here RIGHT NOW and pick up these kids because they are driving me CRAZY!!!” It’s kind of funny at first glance, but then you think about the whole thing with the parents’ divorce and the fact that Allie is only three, so she’s probably repeating something she’s heard, and suddenly it makes me kind of sick to my stomach.

So, even knowing all that I do about her, and the fact that I kind of feel sorry for her, the fact remains that I still don’t like this kid. She’s obnoxious and rude. She’s bossy. She’s a tattle-tale. (Almost daily, when I pick Catie up, Allie runs over to tell me something Catie did that was bad. I usually just say, “Oh, ok.” I give her no emotional reaction at all.) She throws huge tantrums to get her way, and it works: the parent figures in her life cave in & give her what she wants to keep her quiet, and Mandy also caves in because (I’m guessing) she feels sorry for her too.

And honestly, I feel bad, because what the hell kind of adult am I, that this tiny three year-old child can grate on my nerves the way that she does? But there you have it: I don’t like her. She bugs the crap out of me.

Over the last several months, the dynamic between Catie and Allie has gone through several stages:

1. Allie bosses Catie around. Catie takes it.

2. Catie ignores Allie. The each find other kids to play with.

3. Allie befriends Roman, Catie’s BFF. Catie tries to play with both of them, but it doesn’t really work, so she gives up and plays with the other kids.
(And btw, Roman’s mom told me that Roman informed her, “When I grow up, I’m going to drive a car like Daddy’s, and Catie will ride next to me.” That’s apparently the 3 year-old boy way of saying he intends to marry her. Awww.)

4. Roman & his parents move to California. (So much for that future marriage proposal.) A few other changes in the line-up at daycare leaves Catie and Allie as the only two girls in class.

5. The current status: Catie and Allie are both BFFs and mortal enemies. They hug, they hold hands, they dance together… then five minutes later, they beat the crap out of each other. Mandy says they “take turns being the boss” now, which I guess is a good thing?

But the fights. Oh man, the fights. One day on the playground, Catie and a couple of other kids were in the little plastic playhouse. Catie told Allie she couldn’t come in. (Which, yes, that is bossy and rude, I admit.) Allie responded by dragging Catie to the ground by her hair. Catie screamed, “You pulled my beautiful blonde hair!!” and cried to Mandy about it. (And ok, that line made me laugh. And realize that maybe I compliment her hair too much.)

In adult terms, I kind of see them like Linda Evans and Joan Collins on “Dynasty.”


Not so much:

The problem I’m noticing is that Catie is starting to adopt some of Allie’s more obnoxious behaviors, with the whining, rudeness, and tantrums. We try to nip it in the bud. I’ve told her flat-out that acting that way might work for Allie, but we don’t act like that in our house.

And yes, I’m sure that the impending arrival of Baby 2.0 has a lot to do with it. I’ve been out of commission a lot because I feel lousy, and Dave has had to take over as more of a disciplinarian. So Catie is challenging that whole dynamic shift. I understand that: it’s her job to test boundaries, and it’s our job to enforce them. That’s normal.

So we’re working on it. I just wish there was a way I could hand-pick Catie’s friends for her, and I know I can’t. I also know that this is the least of my troubles compared to, say, when she becomes a teenager.

Sigh. I tell you, man, this parenting gig is rough.

a mood adjustment from a bunch of preschoolers

I’ve been feeling pretty cruddy lately. Not emotionally (thank you, Lexapro!), but physically. This pregnancy thing gets really hard at the end, and I’m sure it doesn’t help that I’m of “advanced maternal age” (pffft). It’s just standard stuff: my hips, lower back, shoulders, and belly muscles ache all the time. My guess is that it’s the same issues that every woman probably feels at 36 (holy crap, y’all, THIRTY-SIX!!) weeks pregnant.

Yesterday was hard. I needed to work, and even though I’m working from home, I had a hard time focusing because of my discomfort. I managed to do the work that needed to be done, but nothing beyond that. Which stinks, because I really love it when I can lose myself in my work.

Eventually, I realized it was getting close to 5:00, so I changed out of my maternity yoga pants for maternity jeans, and actually put on a bra (I know, my standards are super-high these days) to head over to daycare to pick up Catie.

Catie is going to be transitioning over to the pre-K class at the end of this month, and since her teacher was out today, they let her spend the day in the pre-K class as sort of a practice round.

When I got there, I was suddenly surrounded by a half-dozen little girls who were throwing question after question at me.

“Catie says you’re having a baby!”
Yes, we sure are.

“Is it a boy or a girl?”
A girl.

“What are you going to name it?”
Oh, we haven’t decided yet.

“Could you name her Sally?”
Um, probably not, but Sally is a very pretty name!

“Is the baby in your tummy RIGHT NOW???”
Yep, that’s where she’ll be until she’s born.

“Is she sleeping or awake?”
I don’t know, she’s not kicking right this minute, so she might be asleep.

“Can I feel?”

“Oooh, can I feel too?” “Can I?” “Can I?”

Next thing you know, I’m surrounded by about a half dozen four year-olds who all have their hands on my belly. It was very weird and very funny at the same time. I felt sort of like one of those Buddha statues that people rub for good luck.

“So where is the baby in there?”
Well, you see this little bump right here? That’s her tushie.

**Entire crowd of four year-olds falls over laughing. Note: when in doubt, go for the butt jokes. It kills with that crowd.**

“Hey, Catie’s mom? Can I have a hug?”
Of course you can have a hug!

“Oooh, can I have a hug too?” “Can I?” “Can I?”

So, yeah, I was the rockstar of the daycare pre-K class. That was pretty awesome.


Other random daycare anecdote #1:

Last night, Catie was telling me about a conversation at daycare.
“Miss Germaine [note: that’s the pre-K teacher] said that little kids don’t drink coffee, and I said, well I drink coffee every day!!”

So today I had to find Miss Germaine and explain that Catie’s version of “coffee” is actually caffeine-free Diet Coke, and she is allowed to have a teeny-tiny cup of it as a special treat, maybe once a week, certainly NOT every day. (This all started because she refers to Diet Coke as “Mommy’s Coffee,” which… well, it IS my coffee, since it’s the only source of caffeine that I drink.) I just didn’t want her to think I was the World’s Worst Mother, but she laughed and said that she figured that Catie must have been referring to something else.

Four year-olds, man. Freaking impossible.


Other random daycare anecdote #2:

This morning, when I took Catie in to drop her off, one of the little girls who asked for a hug yesterday marched up to me and said, “I had a dream that you had your baby today.”

I said, “Well, I hope your dream was wrong, because she isn’t supposed to come quite yet!”

And now I’m totally freaked out that there’s some creepy psychic four year-old who knows when I’m going to go into labor.

On the plus side, though, it has totally motivated me to hurry up and pack my suitcase for the hospital. So there’s that.

in the not-too-distant future

I had a dream last night that Baby 2.0 had been born. (And no, she didn’t have a name in my dream either. I was hoping for a sign, but alas.) The main thing I remember about the dream was holding her on my shoulder, her tiny face on my neck, and patting her tiny padded diaper butt, and I woke up feeling like, “Oh, hell yes. I want that. NOW.”

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t have many happy memories of the newborn days with Catie; my brain seems to only remember the exhaustion and the tears. But then suddenly I’ll remember a tiny moment like this:


And I absolutely cannot wait to do it all over again. Which is particularly weird since I’m pretty sure I got puked on just a few minutes after that picture was taken.


Semi-related: my sister had to be in Raleigh for a work meeting this morning, so she came over last night and spent the night with us. Catie was super-excited, as Tracy is pretty much one of her favorite people on the planet.

The night before, I told Catie about Tracy’s visit, and explained that yes, Tracy is coming, but it’s only for one night and then she has to leave in the morning and go back to Charlotte. I was hoping that if I warned Catie in advance that this would be a quick visit, that it would prevent any meltdowns.

Catie: But I’ll be sad when Tracy leaves.

Me: I know you will, Catie-Bug. But you know what? Tracy will be back again soon. When Baby Sister is born, and Mommy & Daddy go to the hospital, Tracy is going to come to our house to take care of you!

Catie: (looking worried) Forever?

Which, OMG. She’s been talking up the whole Baby Sister thing, I had no idea that there were underlying fears that once the new baby arrived, we wouldn’t be her Mommy & Daddy anymore.

We had a very long talk about how I will always be her Mommy, and how Daddy will always be her Daddy, and all this means is that now we’ll be the Mommy and Daddy of two little girls instead of just one. She buried her face in my neck and hugged me for a long time, so I think she got the message.

What’s funny is that I’ve been trying to lay off on talking about the new baby with Catie for the most part, and I usually wait for her to bring it up, because I don’t want to overwhelm her with baby-baby-baby all the time. But now I’m realizing that approach might not be the best, and maybe I do need to start talking with her more about what things will be like after the baby is here, and emphasizing how this is going to be a good change for our family.

I mean, we have the “I’m a Big Sister Now” book, and several of her friends have younger siblings, so I guess I took it for granted that she understood how the whole transition would work. But my guess is that four year-olds aren’t really capable of internalizing quite so well.

If any moms out there want to throw some advice for how to walk a four year-old through this process, feel free to throw it my way.

Whining Smackdown

Last night, Catie and I went to the grocery store, figuring that it would be a ghost town during the SuperBowl. (I don’t care about football or sports at all. Sorry, I’ve tried, I just can’t make myself muster up an interest.) Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea, so it wasn’t quite as deserted as I’d hoped, but whatever. Time to shop!

Catie asked if we could get the cart that has that stupid plastic car attached to the front, and I said ok, even though it’s like steering a freaking bus down the aisles. She was really good in the store, she would hop out of the car to get things off the shelf for me (“Hey, don’tcha need spinach, Mommy? Can I get some? What else is on the list? I’ll get it, I’m a good helper!”), and she wasn’t bugging me to buy her toys or junk food. When you’re shopping with a four year-old, that’s about as much as you can ask for.

And really, it was about a 10,000% improvement compared to how she acted when we’d gone to the mall the day before. Which I will always remember as the tantrum that was so epic that an on-duty police officer came over to us to ask if we were ok. Seriously. That actually happened.

Love that face.
Who, me? Act naughty in a public place? Surely you jest! Why, don’t I look angelic?

We passed a mom that was shopping with her two girls – I’m guessing they were 5 or 6 years old, and they were obviously twins. They took one look at our cart and started in on their mother, “Mooo-ooom! That little girl got a car cart! How come WE didn’t get a car cart?? That’s not fair!!” I smiled sympathetically at the mom, and kept walking.

Later, when we were in the bakery section, Catie mentioned she was hungry, and asked if she could have a cookie. We were at Kroger, and they usually have a box of cookies out in the bakery for the little kids to have one. I tend not to get too uptight about the occasional treat, and since Catie was being so well-behaved, I said sure, and grabbed a cookie for her.

As luck would have it, we passed the mom with her twin girls again. They started up again, “Mooo-ooom! That little girl has a cookie! How come WE didn’t get a cookie?? We want a cookie! No fair! COOKIE COOKIE COOKIE!!!” They were like twin Veruca Salts with the whining. I kind of felt sorry for the mom, but I noticed that she didn’t respond to the kids at all when they whined, so I wondered if she hears it so much that she just tunes it out. I don’t think I could tune it out. There’s a certain pitch that little girls can hit with their voices that makes me feel like my head is going to explode. Catie has only tried it on me a few times, and it’s gotten her nowhere (the only reaction she gets from me is, “Try saying that again politely, and maybe I’ll answer you.”), so she seems to have given up on it.

Of course we passed each other two or three more times (why, God, why?), and they repeated their complaint about Cookie Injustice every time. By the last time we passed them, we were on our way to the checkout, and Catie had long since finished the damn cookie. That didn’t stop them. “That’s the little girl that had the cookie! We want a cookie too!” And so on.

Now, I generally have a rule about interfering with other people’s children. And the rule is: I don’t. I wouldn’t appreciate it if someone did it to me, so I don’t do it to anyone else. But I felt so bad for this mom, she seemed so worn out by these kids and their non-stop whining, and… well, I couldn’t resist.

So I turned to the girls and interrupted their little complaint-fest. I said, “You know why she got a cookie? Because she was really good the whole time we were in the store, and she never whined once.”

Both girls snapped their mouths shut. The mom said to them, “You see? THAT’S what it takes if you want a cookie!”

I hope the mom wasn’t offended (and I’m guessing by her reaction and the smile she gave me that she wasn’t). But I figure I bought her at least 30 seconds of shocked silence from her kids, so I’ll call that a win.

It does make me a little nervous about having two girls, though. If they both crank up the whining on me at the same time, I don’t know how I’ll react. Maybe my head really will explode. Who knows.

the big sister transition

Catie’s been talking a lot about becoming a big sister lately. I’ve been trying not to talk about the new baby constantly, so I tend to wait for her to bring it up. Which she does, often.


Example 1:
A couple of weeks ago, she cleaned out her toy box and filled up a huge bag with toys that she doesn’t play with anymore. She says, “These are baby toys. We can give them to Baby Sister.” We put the bag in what will be the baby’s room. I kept thinking she’d go back and decide that she needed something from that bag of toys, but so far? She hasn’t even mentioned it once.


Example 2:
She decided that we needed to set up the baby crib, like, right at that moment. (Which is funny because I was the exact same way when I was pregnant with her.) I told her no, we have plenty of time to do that. She started to cry, “But my baby sister needs a beeeeed!!” So, as a compromise, we set up the Pack & Play together (which takes like 10 seconds, tops). Catie put a bunch of the baby toys in the Pack & Play, so it’ll be all ready for her.

And I have to admit, it sort of threw me for a loop to see that Pack & Play again. I had a major, “OMG this really is happening all over again, isn’t it?” moment.


Example 3:
Last night, Catie and I lay in her bed together snuggling after we read a book.

Catie: Hey, Mommy? How is Baby Sister gonna get out of your tummy? What if she gets lost?
Me: *trying to dodge the question and be vague – saying stuff like, oh, babies know how to get out, it’ll be fine.*
Catie: I think the baby comes up out of your mouth just like the barf does.
Me: Well, no, sweetie. The baby will come out of my noonie. That’s how all babies come out.**
Catie: *shocked & laughing* YOUR NOONIE???
Me: Yep.
Catie: Hey! That’s just like in Milo & Otis!
Me: Um… Yeah, I guess?

(Side note: I had no idea what she was talking about for a minute, but then I remembered that toward the end of the movie, Otis and his “wife”(?) have a litter of puppies, and they showed the female dog giving birth to them. So… Yeah, ok, I guess it is sort of like that?)

** I know it’s not how ALL babies come out, but it was late at night and the thought of trying to explain a C-section to a 4 year-old was too much for me.


Example 4:
Two nights ago, while we were snuggling in bed…

Catie: I love you, Mommy.
Me: I love you too, Catie bug.
Catie: *pats my tummy* You too, Baby Sister.

And then I died from the sweetness.


Honestly, the main reason for this blog entry? I wanted to make sure I had a few of these little moments written down, so I can reference them someday when all she does is complain about how her little sister drives her crazy.

Birthday Party Recap

Catie’s birthday party on Saturday was so much fun. The downside of Catie having a January birthday means that backyard parties aren’t really an option, and I don’t particularly want a whole slew of kids running around my house. So, if she wants a party, we basically have to host it elsewhere.

We had the party at a local place called Hopper’s House, which turned out to be one of the cheaper options as far as an indoor place with bounce houses and lots of other kiddie entertainment. Catie’s been there several times before and loves playing there, and I knew it would be a hit with the three and four year-old crowd. We had a smaller turnout than I had expected, around 10 kids, but it turned out to be perfect. (And trust me, ten kids? Make PLENTY of noise on their own.)

Elizabeth & Catie

Plus we had two of Catie’s favorite people there, my brother Chris and my sister Tracy (plus my sister’s boyfriend Everett). So that made it even better.

Tracy, Chris, Dave & Everett

Catie had requested a unicorn birthday cake, but I couldn’t find any stores that do custom artwork on cakes, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to attempt it on my own. So, thanks to a suggestion from the lovely Danielle, we got a unicorn cake topper from Birthday Express. It was perfect.

Unicorn cake!

Except for the part where the unicorn sank into the cake like quicksand and then fell over, but eh, whatever, it was fine. The birthday girl herself didn’t mind at all, it was exactly what she wanted. As evidenced here:
(Video bonus: you can see my pregnant self for like 0.5 seconds. Lovely.)

She was a very happy birthday girl.

One odd thing about birthday parties, and I don’t know if this is a local thing, or if it’s a new tradition everywhere, but it seems like kids don’t open their gifts at the party, they open them later at home? Now, I can think of a few reasons that would motivate this:
1.) You can’t rely on a four year-old to graciously receive a gift.
2.) Because the birthday boy/girl might be sad about the party ending, so hey, guess what? Now we get to go home and open presents! Yay!
3.) So other kids don’t feel left out. (Which is kind of lame, because, well, that’s part of life, you know? It isn’t always about you. Sometimes you’re the guest of honor, sometimes you’re the guest.)
4.) It’s a whole lot easier on the parents to keep track of who gave what for thank-you notes when it isn’t a gift-opening free-for-all.

While I don’t necessarily approve of this tradition, I can certainly see the motivation. So, since every other birthday party we’ve been to for the past year has done things this way, this is how we did it too. We opened presents at home, and I have to say, it does make things a lot easier. And I can ensure that all the kids who were there will get appropriately personalized thank-you notes this week.

Opening presents

birthdays are fun!

It took Catie a long time to settle down after her party, but when she crashed, she crashed.

Zonked out on the air mattress.

Catie spent almost the entire day on Sunday playing with her cousins, which was a great distraction to keep her from being sad about our houseguests leaving. And when we got home, she got to have leftover party pizza and cake for dinner. Can’t beat that.

All in all, it was a really great birthday weekend.