Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Other Shoe Falls

Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. The first real meltdown over not wanting to share with Lily. And the thing Corinne didn't want to share was my attention and affection.

There were signs it was coming. Like asking me to lift her over my head like Lily, or tickle her like Lily. Also her obsessions have been getting worse; everything has to be about sea creatures, fish, and Shamu. And then there's comments such as "I don't feel like listening to Lily crying" (she got that one from me) Plus she has been having small random meltdowns all week over insignificant things, so we suspected that there was more than meets the eye going on. But she never complained or even seems to notice when I pay more attention to Lily, and I was starting to think her indifference was maybe a PDD thing.

No doubt Lily is taking up a lot of our time. It seems like all I ever say is, "in a minute Corinne, I need to feed Lily" or " soon as I get Lily to bed". Lily is 8 months old and very "typical", which has actually been a big adjustment for Pete and I. We're not use to a baby that is into everything, endlessly curious, and fearless. She just started crawling last week, and is really gaining confidence, speed, and a devilish gleam in her eye. She's already pulling up onto everything, and the only thing that stands between her and walking is balance. She's got the strength, she's got the technique, and she certainly has the desire. She is a lot of fun, but, like any baby, she is also very demanding. I've been so focused on treating her the same way we did Corinne as an infant and avoiding the "second child complacency" that I think I've been overlooking my first baby.

So I think it started because Pete had to leave this afternoon, on a Sunday, to go to New Jersey for work for a couple days. Corinne picked right upon the change in routine: "Why you have to go to work now, dadda? Will you be home for dinner? Why you have to work so much, dadda? (I swear I didn't put her up to it!) She seemed sad that he left, and then she decided she wanted to go inside (it was a beautiful day and I was trying to get some yard winterizing done, so while we were outside together, I was not giving her my undivided attention) I told her a couple times that we would go inside in a little while, but she just wouldn't let it go and then the tears came. She said she was tired, which has been her thing lately. She says she just wants to lay on the couch, which is what we did a few weeks ago when she was sick, and now I think it's her ruse to cuddle with me. I told her that maybe she should take a nap if she's so tired, but then it became all about reading a book first and we just weren't getting anywhere. Finally I sat her down and told her that I noticed she'd been getting upset a lot lately, and asked her if something was bothering her and out it came: "I want to have just Momma time with no Lily. I never get just momma and dadda time anymore. I don't really like Lily". There was something so... I don't know... big girl... mature, about her tears. She was trying to keep herself under control and failing, and when I told her that Momma and Dadda still loved her very much and how I knew it was a big change and how hard it was, she cried even harder. It broke my heart. I must admit that as a fellow first born, I distinctly remember feeling jealous and resentful of my sister. I had so been hoping to prevent this with my kids. My heart wants to be supermom, and be all things to both kids, to give both of them all the attention they want/need/ deserve. I want to do crafts with Corinne, teach her things, take her places. I want to entertain Lily, help her along with her milestones, stimulate her mind. But in reality I am so very tired. I just don't have the energy. Frankly, there are times I can't wait to put them both to bed so I can just have a couple hours to myself. There are days when I count the minutes. And there are many nights when I go to bed feeling guilty, inadequate, impatient, selfish; worrying about how my actions today will impact them down the road.

I don't mean to complain. I love my kids, I love my husband, I have a wonderful life. I just never dreamed it could be so draining, physically and emotionally. This parenthood thing got exponentially harder with the addition of a second kid. I remind myself of the most important lesson I learned with Corinne: this too shall pass. No matter how dark things seem when you're in the thick of it, when it seemed like the issue du jour would never be resolved, when you weren't sure how you'd possibly get through another day or week or even another minute of it, in reality most things were just a phase that eventually ended. A few months later looking back on it, you barely remembered how bad it was. I know Corinne will adjust to being a big sister, that eventually Lily will become fun, that we will be able to do things as a family instead of the "divide and conquer" approach we have adopted as of late. I know I'll find the groove and find a balance between the two, that we'll all become increasingly independent. As for today, we both had a good cry, skipped the nap and played a game, did a puzzle, read a book. Corinne seemed no worse for the wear and I've convinced myself that she won't become a convicted felon because I can't play sea creatures all day long with her. Now both kids are asleep in bed, I've got a glass of wine and a bunch of episodes of "ER" and "Bridezilla" on DVR. Until tomorrow morning, it's all about me. This too shall pass... this too shall pass.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Family: A Composition in Balloons

Corinne loves to color, much like her mother did (ok, still does) and draw. She's my regular little chip off the old block. She's getting better every day, too. She now colors inside the lines and uses appropriate colors (except on Rainbow Fridays, of course). She gets a lot of practice, as she averages 2 -3 pages a day in her coloring books (I often find her with the bedroom lights back on, coloring, and hour or more after she went to bed, and again first thing in the morning). And her drawing, I feel, is exceptionally good for her age. She does the typical sun with many rays and grass at the bottom and sky at the top, but what impresses me is her little houses have curtains in them and her people are usually wearing a shirt with a picture on it. She also writes random letters along the top and then tells me what it says. I could post dozens of pictures of her work, so proud am I (and believe me, I considered it), but decided to limit it to this particular series. For now. After her birthday part she decided to draw our family members on the left over balloons.

This one is me (note the red balloon, and the long hair).

This one is Lily. See how she made her smaller, and with just a little clump of hair on top. She kind of looks like Stewie Griffin.
Emma, our cat. Can't forget the pets (no Phineas, as no one ever actually sees him)
And Seven. I think those are supposed to be her ears sprouting out of the eyes.

This one is Papa. He doesn't wear glasses, but he does have a mustache (although not like Hitler's)

This one is my favorite. It's Pete. Note the glasses and teeny tiny little hairs on top of his head.
More to come, I'm sure.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Corinne's Coming Out...Oops, I Mean Rainbow Birthday Party

So Corinne decided on a rainbow theme for her birthday party this year. (She actually wanted a fish theme again, but I encouraged her to do something different). She really likes rainbows. Actually, it's not the rainbow itself, but the use of every color that appeals to her. In school her teachers have instituted Rainbow Fridays, the day that she gets to cut loose and use all the crayon colors to do her work (on regular days it's more about function over form, and she has to use just one color to color such things as the biggest object in a group of pictures, or the shortest, etc.) But I digress. Suffice it to say that the girl digs rainbows. And of course, you know how understated I like to keep these parties... As we like to say in our house: Anything worth doing is worth overdoing
You could say we got a little carried away with the rainbow theme (ba dum bum)
We had rainbow face paint Rainbow crafts

And of course rainbow cake (made by my friend Meghan)

Rainbow cake cross section
and rainbow cupcakes

The last two rainbow cookies

Rainbow fruit platter (for the diet conscious and diabetic)

Rainbow friends

Rainbow after-party
(I can't talk about Corinne's rainbow party without mentioning Marc, Emma's daddy, who perhaps had one too many rainbow cookies. This was taken just before Marc passed out at the base of the slide. The girls had tons of fun sliding repeatedly onto his head.)

Icky Jello

So gross was the jello for Corinne's Rainbow Party, it warranted its own blog post. Just to give a bit of history, I had a jello disaster at Corinne's last birthday party, too. As you may recall, last year's theme was under the sea. I had seen a cute idea on a website to put blue jello into small clear plastic cups with little swedish fish in them and voila, little fish bowls.

The problem began when I only bought one package of jello, which ended up making only 4 fish bowls. Too lazy to go back out to the store, I thought I'd improvise (the demise of so many of my cooking adventures, yet I never learn) and make my own jello using blue gatorade and gelatin. Well, gatorade doesn't quite have enough flavor to carry itself in jello form, it turns out, but I forged on anyway. And then just to make it look as bad as it tasted, I decided to be clever and add sprinkles to it, you know, to make a little layer of aquarium gravel. Except that sprinkles float. And dissolve. So all it did was make really cloudy, water flavored jello with mystery things floating in it. The swedish fish were cute, though. *

Never one to learn from past mistakes, I decided once again to dabble in the medium of jello. This time I wanted to make rainbow layered jello. I think that would have been OK but, as always, I had to take it up a notch. Our friend Karen makes a great layered jello salad at Christmas. It has these delicious white "inter-layers" that are firm, yet creamy. Kind of cheesecake textured. I remembered that she said these layers were sour cream based, so I went on line and found what I believed to be the recipe. I started my jello a day ahead of time to give the layers plenty of time to set (rushing and cutting corners time-wise is another of my oft repeated cooking mishaps). The purple layer came out great, but the white cream layer wasn't quite right. It contained gelatin, so it took on a jello-like texture. I managed to get it onto the purple layer more or less OK, and then set to work on the blue layer. By the time the blue layer had hardened, the white cream stuff was also hard. I figured I'd just beat it with my mixer (this seems to work with cream cheese frosting, so why not here?) Well, it didn't. At this point anyone with any sense would have simply aborted the mission but oh no, not this chick. I proceeded with the next two layers and just globbed that white mess on in between. Somewhere around the yellow layer I decided that this just wasn't working, and finished off the orange and red minus the white. The problem with this was the last layers were too clear, and you could see the globules lurking beneath the surface. See:

Again, normal people would have thrown in the towel and said "who really likes jello, anyway?" Or they would have just started over again, maybe minus the white layers (or would have called Karen for the recipe, which is what I should have done in the first place) But I was afraid I didn't have enough time left, and damn it, I paid all of 99 cents per box of jello**. I just threw some whipped cream on top to cover it up and, well, I think the picture really speaks for itself: Yeah. You know you want it. By now so much time and effort had gone into it I had to put it out, even if no one in their right mind would find it the least bit appetizing. I explained to those who politely inquired that the white stuff was not curdled cream, as it may appear, and even convinced a couple people to have some (and they said it tasted pretty good, as long as you didn't look at it.) See; I even have pictures to prove it:
Some were not convinced:
In the end it sat around in our refrigerator for a few days getting all mixed together and runny in that way that jello does. Ultimately I ate some myself, and only when it was 2/3 of the way gone did I finally feel it was OK to part with it.

And so ends this year's jello tragedy. I swear I won't make it again next year, and now I have pictures to remind me why (as if Pete won't).
*One more related note regarding last year's party: I also had a cupcake disaster. The oil I used smelled a little... well, it had a smell, and I'm pretty sure vegetable oil's not supposed to (Hey Erin- remember the time when we made daddy's birthday cake using olive oil?) But I used it anyway and the resulting cupcakes tasted like they smelled. The worst part was that I brought a big batch of them to Corinne's Early Intervention playgroup and gave them to her teachers, peers, and their families before tasting them myself. In fact, I didn't know there was anything wrong with them until I noticed at the party that Pete's Uncle David ate only one bite before abandoning it. At that point I tasted one. I later mentioned the unpleasant flavor to David and he gave the the accurate descriptive word: "rancid". Oopsie!
** Pete returned home from the grocery store later that day with a pre-made rainbow jello, complete with whipped cream. And it was only 99 cents. He labelled it "Plan B".

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Whew! It sure has been awhile. Like all summer. I have many excuses: Lily not sleeping much, lots of summer plans, paid painting projects, Lily not sleeping much... Mostly I was just overwhelmed with the task of bringing the blog up to date. I have a number of post ideas rolling around in my head, but as always I felt the need to post in order and lacked the motivation to back fill in order to do so. I have finally decided, in the interest of actually bringing this poor blog back from the dead, to just do a brief summary of "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" using Facebook posts, which I did post on pretty regularly (making me a big ol' hypocrite, as ignoring my blog in favor of Facebook was something I swore I wouldn't do), to at least get me started. I can then add pictures and other details as I see fit, and post some of the other things later, in no particular order. This offends me to the very core of my obsessive/ compulsive nature, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

Pointless Drivel From Facebook

For all two of you who read this blog but not Facebook (Dad), here is some of how I have been wasting my valuable free time for the past 3 months (the rest of the world can just skip this post, cause you've already read it, although I did add some pictures to keep it fresh):

June 5- In just 3 more hours both of my kids are heading up to Maine to stay at Grandma's for the whole weekend, so Pete and I can enjoy our 7th (!) wedding anniversary. Yay for us! No plans, just relaxing, sleeping in, enjoying having it be all about us for a change.

June 6- Andrea is listening to music at an excessively high volume and NOT watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse!

June 7- Andrea has thoroughly enjoyed a weekend of eating (japanese steak house, brunch, cheesecake and all you can eat sushi buffet- not necessarily in that order), sleeping in, movie watching (Land of the Lost, sadly, a big thumbs down), dog walking, and wedding day nostalgia

(I found this photo on our camera, which we had sent up to Maine with Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa. I'm guessing it was taken "the morning after")

June 11- Andrea just got back from Corinne's end-of-the-year preschool party. Can't believe how far she's come this year, and how big she's gotten. My baby's all growed up :(

June 15- Andrea is back home after attending the wedding of forever bachelor Mark F, in lovely Ithaca. Then a couple days in Toga with mom and dad (who so graciously took Thing 1 for the weekend. Thing 2 came with us) Had a great time.
June 16- Andrea really wishes she didn't have kids, just for today, so she could go stand in line at Whole Foods in Cambridge for 8 hours to meet and get a signed bottle of wine from the normally reclusive Maynard James Keenan (wine maker and singer for all-time favorite band, Tool)

June 16- Andrea is jealous... Pete went and got two bottles signed, and only had to wait an hour for his 8 seconds with Maynard.
June 19- Yay! I just got us tickets to see Tool in August, thereby making this the BEST summer of music EVER!! Now all that's left is to go see Blue Man Group, right Mark?!

June 20- Andrea woke up at 8:30 this morning to the strangest thing: no rain and a still sleeping baby. I thought I was dreaming. Or the end of the world is upon us. Or hell has frozen over.

June 22- Andrea is wondering if it's wrong of me to enjoy that my baby is sick with a cold. She's just so sweet and cuddly. And she sleeps a lot.

June 25- Andrea is very tired and cranky. Lily was up every single hour, on the hour, last night for no apparent reason. Until 4, that is. Then she was crying every 15 minutes.

June 25- So remember when I thought my baby was sweet and cuddly when she's sick? Yeah. Not so much anymore.

June 29- Andrea just got back from a rainy, rainy weekend up in Maine with Pete's family. Then it was sunny and hot here in Maynard when we got home. Doesn't it just figure. Had a great time nonetheless. Vic- give Seven a kiss for us and tell her to have fun at Camp Vicky.
June 30- Andrea managed to squeeze in mowing the lawn, raking, seeding and beetle killing this afternoon. It's amazing what you can accomplish when your baby finally tales a long nap again (and it stops raining for more than an hour).

July 2- Andrea is wondering if the suicide rate is higher this month from all this F-ing rain. Or the murder rate...

July 3- Andrea is installing a linoleum floor in her kitchen all by herself. Go me. I am woman, hear me roar!

July 7- Andrea's cat just puked in his own water bowl. How stupid does one have to be to willingly foul one's own food/ water supply?

July 13- Andrea just got home from the Morgan Family Reunion. Had a great time swimming, drinking, s'more making, ice cream eating, parade go-er harassing, carnival attending. But we now need the proverbial vacation to recover from the vacation. Oh, and Seven's got fleas. Sorry people-Who's-House-We-Were-Staying-At-As-A-Favor-Who-We-Don't-Even-Know!

July 23- Andrea was a little bit disappointed with the new Harry Potter movie. Lots of details changed and left out unnecessarily. Too much emphasis on romance and not enough on the history and background of Voldemort and the horcruxes (God I sound like a dork)

July 26- Andrea is enjoying an afternoon to herself. Pete took the girls for a hike/ flower picking/ ice cream so I can get some stuff done. On my list: sanding/ priming wood for a sign, designing said sign, sketches for pending truck mural and hopefully updating my blog. So what am I doing? facebooking, of course!

July 28- Andrea wants to know why Miss Lil' pill is sleeping for shorter periods at night instead of longer? If she wasn't so damn cute and smiley, I think I'd strangle her (just kidding- don't anyone report me to DCFS. If I were going to kill a baby, it surely would have been Corinne, who was so cute, but not so damn smiley)

July 31- Andrea was quite surprised to come home to find that one of the trees in our yard has fallen. No wind, completely alive, just lying on the ground. Fortunately, it could not have fallen at a better angle, so house, deck, swingset and fence were spared. I suspect the ground hog who has turned our yard into a labyrinth of tunnels. I'm gonna have to get all Bill Murray from Caddyshack on it's ass.
Aug 2- Tool concert tonight! Hope they play "Prison Sex" :)

Aug 3- People I had on my bedroom wall when I was growing up:
Duran Duran, The Outsiders, Van Halen, A Ha, Han Solo

Aug 5- Andrea just finished sorting through all of Corinne's school work and art work from the past year. I threw a lot away, which breaks my heart, but we are being overrun with paper bag turkeys, paper plate crafts, glitter glue and macaroni art, mural sized finger paintings, coloring book pages and drawings.

Aug 6- Andrea is pretty bummed out to see that John Hughes died. I was kind of hoping he'd make another masterpiece like The Breakfast Club someday. Sigh. My youth is truly gone.

Aug 9- Andrea is OD'd on rainbows.

Aug 11- Andrea could just cry right now. After my 6 month battle with thrush, failed breast feeding, the inconvenience of pumping every 3-5 hours, and my slowly depleting milk supply, I have just discovered that the 20 or so bags of frozen breast milk that I had stored in my freezer that were supposed to take us through the next couple of months have all gone sour.

Aug 12- Andrea is heading off tot he Bolton Fair for some vestibular stimulation.

Aug 13- Today Corinne asked me where skin comes from. We've entered the realm of the complicated questions. We've already covered "where do babies come from?", "what is God?" and "what does dead mean?" Of course, there are also still plenty of questions like "mama, am I wearing pants?"

Aug 18- Andrea is trying to enjoy Pete being home from work for a whole week, despite the fact that it has already been dubbed "worst vacation ever"

Aug 20- Andrea is so very tired. Day two of "Ferberizing" Lily. it ultimately worked with Corinne, but God does the process suck.
Aug 21- Andrea feels terrible. Lily fell forward while practicing her sitting and of course fell onto the one hard thing in the area (that I was sure was safely out of her range); a tin box with the lid off. Now she has a nice, inch- long, bruised line on her little baldie head :(

Aug 24- Andrea hates bugs! So far this morning I put my hand onto some kind of big, mushy insect exoskeleton-type-thing and then proceeded to walk through a huge spider web with a huge, fat, ugly spider in it. Thank God it didn't get onto my face or anything, I would have had a heart attack right there on the spot and my poor kids would grow up motherless. YUCK!

Aug 26- After netting only 3 ounces of milk in an average day, I am officially finished with pumping. These babies are all wrung out. I feel liberated, but also disappointed that my body failed me again at the 6 month mark.

Aug 27- Corinne's a celebrity! At least here in M-- (even if they did spell her name wrong)... Not only is she featured in this story in our local paper, she also happened to get her picture taken for a completely unrelated story. If only we could have somehow worked in a plug for Bouncing Off the Walls...

Aug 27- So I asked Corinne if she thought the doctor that gave her her physical was nice (he was not her usual pediatrician). She said, and I quote: "yes, but he wasn't much to look at." I'm still laughing about it. I have NO idea where she came up with that one. it's not anything Pete or I have said. It's like she was just waiting for the opportunity to use the line.

Aug 28- Andrea is spending the evening with Pete, celebrating her body being her own again!

Aug 30- It's good to be back :)

Sept 2- Andrea's name anagram is: MAN DEAR GROAN. Corinne is IGNORANCE NORM and Lily is ROLLING ANIMAL. Hmm, maybe that is why she keeps rolling to her tummy a million times a night, requiring someone to come and roll her back over to make the screaming stop.

Sept 10- Why will Lily happily shove fistful after fistful of beach sand or soap suds into her mouth, but when it comes to baby food she gags and acts like I'm feeding her, well, beach sand and soap suds?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Playgroup, Then and Now

This picture of Playgroup was taken June 28th, 2006.
L to R: Hannah L, Laura, Nina, Corinne, Emma
(this was how Corinne was at every play group)

This one was taken June 26, 2009.
L to R: Hannah W, Corinne, Laura, Emma, Nina, Hannah L, Kayla

Can't believe how big they've gotten, and how far Corinne has come.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day, a Tale in Pictures

breakfast in bed
strawberry picking
hot dogs

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I Might Be Getting Too Old for This

Pete and I just finished what I am calling the "Pete and Andrea's We-May-Be-Parents-But-We're-Not-Dead-Yet Tour". It consisted of three concerts in 6 weeks: Crystal Method, Prodigy, and Nine Inch Nails with Jane's Addiction. These bands are all in our top 10 and we couldn't possibly choose between them, so we decided to throw caution (and money) to the wind and see them all. We arranged for Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa to babysit on the three Wednesday nights and we eagerly anticipated this rare opportunity to get back to our roots, so to speak, and rock out like we're 25 and childless again.

First up was Crystal Method, playing at the House of Blues in Boston. Pete and I are huge fans and we were very excited for this small venue. Crystal Method is described on Wikipedia as being an electronic music duo. You have heard their music, you just don't know it. Their songs have been used in a a bunch of TV shows and car commercials. "Busy Child" is probably their most recognizable hit. We actually had their song "Keep Hope Alive" play at our wedding when the wedding party was introduced at the reception. I associate their music with our cross country trips, just driving on the open road, red rocks and big sky all around, and you can't help but feel glad to be alive. Anyway, I must say that it is a little bit of a weird dynamic to see Crystal Method live, given that they are not really a band per say, so much as two guys playing the keyboards. Their music is a combination of synthesizers and sampling. In a live show this translates to two guys standing on a stage pushing buttons. It's probably the first show I've seen where having the visual aspect actually kind of took away from the experience, rather than enhance it. The music is so full of energy. It's all heavy base that you can feel in your chest and adrenaline pumping sound effects and it's all so wonderfully loud. With closed eyes you can really get lost in the music. But then you open your eyes and there's just these two middle-aged guys standing there, barely moving. At several points in the show they actually had their back to the audience for long stretches of time and were using a computer. Now I know that they were doing their sampling thing, but for all we knew they could have been Face Booking. And several times one or both of them would stop to take a drink, and yet the music just kept on going without a change. It was kind of the instrumental equivalent of lip synching. Don't get me wrong, I realize that it is an art form to be able to sample all that other stuff and create new music, and they do an amazing job at it. I'm just saying that what you saw didn't quite match what you heard, and the effect was just a little disappointing. The other funny thing was that at one point one of them (Kenny or Scott, I'm not really sure who's who) decided to "get down with it" and lifted up the keyboard and played it like an air guitar. He then accidentally knocked it off the stage, and for the next 15 minutes the roadies frantically tried to fix it and ultimately replace it, all the while the music sounding no different without it. He got really annoyed and appeared to be blaming the roadies. They ended the show shortly after that and didn't even do an encore, which we thought was kind of lame.
(Crystal Method, looking considerably more animated than they did at the show!)

Next up was Prodigy, which took place at the same club. This time Pete and I got smart and didn't get there right when the doors opened at seven, like we did for Crystal Method (note to self: if the doors open before your preschooler is even in bed, chances are the headline act is not really starting at that time, and to think so just shows how terribly un-hip and out of touch you are with the cool people).

Prodigy is also electronic based, although they are much more "band-like" than Crystal Method, and have a more hardcore/ punk/ industrial/ rave kind of sound. The two singing guys, Keith Flint and Maxim Reality, are truly a couple of freaks (and I mean that in the most affectionate of ways), and they never stopped moving, screaming, and arm flailing (kind of like Lily). It was a really good show. Pete and I pushed our way onto the floor even though we had seats; the shows are just so much better when you're right in the middle of the insanity. But it did make me painfully aware of how, well, not young I am. Here I am, 37 years old, jumping up and down and getting stepped on, shoved, fondled and just generally having my personal space invaded by a bunch of punk-ass kids while screaming along with a band who's best known song is called "Smack My Bitch Up". There were glow sticks a-flying and people slam dancing (is that even what they call it anymore?) and a couple chicks crowd surfing and all I could think of was, "please be careful of my lactating boobies! I need to be able to go home and feed my precious angel!" It was just striking to me how different my maternal lifestyle is from this one. Eventually I had to step out of the pit and get some air and get away from all the sweaty, stinky bodies pressed up against me (ewww). If only you could have a little bubble of, say, 6 inches of air conditioned personal space with piped in fresh air to wear around you, then it would be OK. Like a Disney character suit or something. So I lamed out, but I did make it through most of the show. Pete, on the other hand, took full advantage of my leaving to push his way right up the the front for the last two songs (talk about opposite lifestyles. This is a man who manages 27 or so people and is considered to be a bit of a curmudgeon (I love that word) among his employees.)

(Super Freak Keith Flint of The Prodigy)

This video really gives a sense of the chaos that is a Prodigy concert:

Last up was Nine Inch Nails and Jane's Addiction. This one was at a real concert amphitheater, as opposed to a club. We ended up going with my cousin Shaun, which is really random because he lives in San Diego. He happened to be in the area for training and when he heard we were going, he got himself a ticket, too. The totally unfair thing was that we'd bought our tickets months ago and got crappy seats. He bought his the day of the show and was in, like, the third row. Not kidding. Dave Navarro (guitar player for Jane's) was practically sweating on the him. Shaun's seats were so good that he used up all of his phone's power taking dozens of photos. Because of this, his phone died and we spent an hour trying to find him after the show. We were planning on leaving without him, assuming that his incredible Cali-luck and close proximity to the bands had gotten him backstage (and even closer to Trent, Perry and Dave). Damn you Shaun!

So NIN was a little disappointing in that they only played 4 or 5 songs that I recognized. We're not die-hard fans, but we do own several of their albums, including what I thought was the most recent one, so I don't know where they pulled all these obscure songs from, or why. Jane's more than made up for it, though. They could not have been better. They were still very tight as a band, had a ton of energy, sounded great, and played all their hits. They opened with our favorite song, "3 Days", and I was worried that after that the rest would be anticlimactic, but the whole show was amazing. The highlight for me was the first encore, which was "Summer Time Rolls". It's a song that has a lot of personal sentiment for Pete and I. For our wedding reception we had picked out seven favorite, meaningful songs to be played throughout the night. Whenever one of those songs played, we stopped what we were doing long enough to look around and take it all in and enjoy the moment (knowing that the whole evening would fly by in a blur). "Summer Time Rolls" was one of those songs. It was very timely, the concert being 5 days before our seventh wedding anniversary. It was the perfect end to the perfect music trifecta.

(Dave Navarro is the bomb! This picture was taken by Shaun,
from his amazing seat.
Lucky bastard. No photos from our seats,
as Dave Navarro would be an itty-bitty ant.)
  • I was going to end this post here, but I felt like something was missing, like I hadn't quite captured what these shows meant to me or how they felt. I realized what I didn't mention, what was missing... the best part, really, which was the time spent reconnecting with my honey. Life gets so busy with kids and work and errands and house projects, and while you don't necessarily forget about why you fell in love with this person, you do maybe get a little bit distracted from it. It was nice to go out and do the things we did when it was just about the two of us. When we were allowed to be selfish and self indulgent. I'm proud of us for taking this time for us, and for going out and not acting our ages. Much like those seven songs at our wedding, it made me stop and look around and appreciate it all. I am still madly in love with the man that I married. We are still connected after seven years. We still share the same sense of humor, taste in music, and appreciation for the absurd and ironic. We are still best friends, first and foremost. We've still got it, Baby. Happy Anniversary.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Short Trip to Crazy

Forget about water boarding. The cruelest form of torture is driving for any length of time with an infant and a preschooler.

My dad's birthday was this past week, so I drove to my parents' in upstate New York for the weekend, just the girls and I, to surprise him. This is a three hour drive under the best of circumstances (i.e. no traffic, no stopping). It's an eternity when you have a fussy baby. Corinne was OK. It was Miss Lily, who took a nice nap for the first half and then screamed intermittently for the second half. Both there and back. Two hours. It wouldn't be so bad if she just cried continuously. It's the starting and stopping that makes it like the Chinese water torture. Here's a break down of the return trip:

12:15-- Both kids crying as we leave Mimmie and Poppa's. Lily is overtired. Corinne is devastated because I wouldn't let her help me pack the car, and I snapped at her. Already I am tense and tired (did I mention that Lily was up every hour the night before? Yeah.)
12:30-1:30-- Sleeping baby, happily reading preschooler. Ahhhh. This is kind of nice.
1:45-- Corinne has to pee. Really? Can you hold it? Please? Lily is sleeping...
2:00--Stop at a rest stop to pee. Why did we want her potty trained?
2:20-- Lily is not happy to be returning to her car seat. She begins to fuss in half-assed manner.
2:30-- Whimpers becoming more urgent and angry.
2:35-- Crying stops. Maybe she's asleep?
2:40-- Crying resumes with more intensity. She's not asleep. I put on new age music to soothe us all. Can barely hear it over crying and it just annoys me anyway. Change it to "Tool"- loud and angry music. Perfect.
2:45-- All out screaming, she's royally pissed off. Please God, let there be no traffic, just this once.
2:50-- Stop again at next available rest stop. Attempt to feed Lily the bottle in parking lot. She's not interested.
2:55-- Plop pacifier in and hit the highway again.
2:56-- Spits pacifier out. I do the reach-behind again, crawling all over her body with my fingers searching for missing pacifier. I can feel every square inch of her body and the car seat. No sign of pacifier. It has somehow disappeared off the face of the earth.
3:10-- Crying tapers off. Maybe she's worn herself out?
3:12-- Crying resumes. Corinne begins speculating as to what Lily might want: I think she's hungry. I think she's tired. I think she doesn't like her car seat. I think she doesn't like her coat. I think she doesn't like pink. I think she's tired... I acknowledge the first few times, then try to ignore her. She proceeds to repeat each thing over and over until I acknowledge. I finally snap "I don't know what her problem is, Corinne! She's just miserable, OK? Let's not talk about it anymore. Let's never speak of it again!"
3:15-- Screaming bloody murder resumes. I fantasize about driving off the road. Pete would never really know what happened, but would probably be suspicious with the lack of skid marks.
3:30-- Do the reach around again, this time to hold the bottle in desperate attempt to get her to feed. Shoulder practically dislocated. Very difficult to coordinate angle of bottle using rearview mirror in conjunction with baby-view mirror. She still doesn't want it.
3:40-- Start muttering about how Dadda is SO taking the two of you off my hands when we get home. And about how I'm never driving more than 15 minutes in the car with either of them again.
3:50-- Screaming tapers to crying, then to whimpering, then silence.
4:00-- Both kids asleep.
4:15-- Arrive home. Dump kids on Dadda and take a nap.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Thrush treatment update: They're right- it does stain everything.

Life With Lily

I know, it's about time I wrote about her, right? I mean, she's already almost 10 weeks old. I keep meaning to post, but then I'm like, what can you really say about a newborn that everyone doesn't already know? They sleep, they poop, they eat, they cry. Here are a few things of note regarding my Lil' Lil:

Boobies (warning: this might be TMI for those who are squeamish regarding women-stuff)
I think the most note-worthy thing with Lily has been nursing, or should I say the lack thereof. It's been one issue after another since I was in the hospital after her birth. First I had sore nipples and literally sores on my nipples from letting her be sloppy with her latch-on. Then I felt like she wasn't getting enough milk because I wasn't hearing her swallowing and my milk wasn't really letting down the way I remembered with Corinne. Then I started pumping and bottle feeding to give my poor nipples a break and to build up my supply. She got use to the bottle and no longer wanted the breast, and it's been a bit of a downward spiral ever since. So now that has left me...

I feel like this is all I do. She just doesn't want my poor, tired, freakishly large (for me) boobies, which makes me sad. I really enjoyed breast feeding Corinne. I liked the bonding and the fact that I was where the buck stopped as far as Corinne and hunger were concerned. It's kind of an ego trip. I'm so bummed to not have this with Lily, too. And I hate pumping. It seems like every time I turn around it's time to pump again, and because I double-pump it means I have no free hands, so I have to just sit there for 15 minutes. Initially I needed to do it every 2 to 3 hours to build up my milk supply and get it well established. Now I am getting a lot of milk and am freezing quite a bit of it (enough that I could run away and Lily would be fed for a few weeks, not that the thought has crossed my mind , of course). I have wanted to throw in the towel a million times and say to hell with it, you're getting formula, chick. But I really want her to get breast milk and share in my killer immune properties (I never get sick. Not even colds) and the other 50 or so reasons why breast is best. I also cling to the dream that one day she will be back to breast feeding exclusively, and to stop pumping is to give that up that dream. So on and on I pump. I tell myself not to think about pumping for the next 10 or even 4 months. Just pump today. And the next day, and see how long I can keep it going. I'd like to at least go until she's 6 months old, when she starts taking solids. This is how long I nursed Corinne for before I was forced to wean her due to milk supply issues as well. But God do I hate pumping. The milk always leaks out and soaks my bra and Corinne always needs help wiping her poopy butt while I'm in the middle of pumping, or Lily starts screaming, or the phone rings, or the remote is across the room and the TV is on the Disney channel. I hate hand washing all the components 10 times a day (I have the worst case of dish pan hands) and I hate that it's the last thing I need to do before bed, especially when I fall asleep on the couch and even brushing my teeth seems too daunting a task. And it's the first thing I need to do when I wake up, which means getting up before both kids so I have 15 minutes of peace in which to do it. And I have to time every outing around it so I don't feel like I'm going to burst. And it's just an ugly thing to watch. The pump stretches the nipple out about an inch and the milk coming our reminds me of popping a white-head and the whole experience is like a cow being milked. Moo.

Thrush and Yeasties (OK, this one is definitelyTMI, too. Hey, no one said baby rearin's pretty.)
Compounding the nursing issue is the yeast infestation that Lily and I are passing back and forth. Lily started it with Thrush, a white cottage cheese-like coating on her tongue from a build up of yeast. Yuck. We treated it with minimal success by swabbing her tongue with some sort of anti-fungal liquid for ten days. This made her angry or gag or spit up or wake up or any combination of these. We were supposed to do this after she ate each time, and I admit we definitely didn't do it that often, it being so unpleasant for everyone involved and all. So the thrush remained. And then it showed up on my nipples, my reward for my occasional efforts to get Lily to nurse. Then I got a yeast infection down low that I misinterpreted as just post- delivery yuckiness. I got that cleaned up but the nipples remain a problem, and Lily's tongue is a mess. I rather foolishly thought that if I didn't nurse her anymore it would clear up, but lo and behold, it perseveres because it gets onto the pump and in the milk. Duh. And this includes my frozen milk stash that I'm so proud of. And let me tell you, there is no way in hell I'm dumping it. I worked too hard for it. We'll both just have to suffer endlessly. I've never heard of anyone dying of thrush, or having their entire body over run with yeast. Eventually it's gotta run it's course, right? (Actually my doctor told me about some kind of purple dye treatment that you can do that usually clears it right up, and also stains everything purple, but it's worth it if it works. So I think we'll try that next.) I'll keep you posted, cause I know everyone wants to hear more about our yeast issues. Beer and sourdough bread, anyone?

Comparing Thing One with Thing Two
Yes, I know it's not fair to compare any two children. But when one of your kids has PDD and it's pretty much known that autism is hereditary, you'd better believe we're monitoring Lily's every developmental milestone. I'd be lying if I said we weren't. I know it's too soon to tell if Lily is autistic, but already we see a lot of differences between the two (we noticed before we'd even left the hospital). Overall she's a pretty happy baby. She has her moments, of course, but usually when she's crying we can just run down the checklist to figure out what's wrong and fix it. Is she hungry? Is she gross down below? Is she over-tired and irrational? She's a big fan of back thumping, and can almost always be calmed by patting her (I wish someone would invent a machine at does this for you, since I'm developing carpal tunnel from doing it all the time). When that doesn't work a good swaddling and a boobah usually finishes her off. She loves to be held, which is very sweet but is also a very convenient excuse for me to nap with her every day, telling myself it's the only way she'll nap.

It was so different with Miss Corinne. When she was a baby she was just miserable. At first Pete and I just didn't know better. We thought that was how babies were: crying all the time for no apparent reason, easily overwhelmed, often inconsolable, hating baths, never sleeping in public of even in the car, afraid of strangers, prone to meltdowns of astronomical proportions several times a day and just general fussiness the rest of the time... We use to say that Corinne's default mode was crying. When she was about 6 months old I started to see how babies her same age acted (generally happy) and I said, hey wait a minute... why isn't my kid like that? We started referring to her as Evil Corinne and we entered what we refer to as "the dark period". It was a tough time that only got tougher, culminating in her PDD-NOS diagnosis.
Don't get me wrong, I love Corinne to pieces, and in many ways she is now an "easier" child than her same aged peers because she is so cautious and so non-confrontational and eager to please. Usually a change in my tone of voice will stop naughty behavior right in it's tracks. And you only have to tell her something once and it's in that head forever, including "rules". But boy was it a long, hard road to get to where we are. I'm just saying that Lily's temperament is very different already (we actually thought there might be something wrong with her at first because she was so quiet. We thought she was too weak from hunger or something.) I'm sure she'll have her challenging behaviors, and in many ways we are spoiled with Corinne (for example, we never had to baby proof our house, and she's always been a great sleeper, sleeping 12 hours a night and followed by a 2-3 hour nap.) but at least we seem to be off to a good start. We're relieved that she has already met two critical milestones: smiling and eye contact, and she seems to have great muscle tone, holding her head up early on and flipping herself from stomach to back at only a few weeks of age. She doesn't mind strangers holding her or looking at her, she is very alert, looking around and cooing happily. We find ourselves saying things like "Ah, so this is how it's supposed to be!" So we'll keep monitoring her and crossing our fingers because damn it, we've earned the right to an easy baby!

Having one kid on the autism spectrum brings up a dilemma: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate subsequent kids (there are a lot of people who think that vaccines, for whatever reason, can cause autism in kids who are genetically prone to it)? I really don't know where I stand on this. We are both science people who work(ed) in pharmaceuticals who believe in the value of vaccinations. We're not holistic, all natural kind of people and we certainly don't belive there is some kind of conspiracy theory surrounding vaccines and mercury. But there is some compelling stuff out there regarding the fragile immune systems of autistic kids, usually manifesting itself with intestinal and metabolic issues. The belief is that their systems can't handle the bombardment of vaccinations in their first year, particularly some of the combination series. For example, at the two-month well-visit babies typically receive vaccines against six different diseases. I don't know if there's any merit to this, but I can say that Corinne had perpetual diarrhea and loose stool as a baby (it's still very loose) and often acted like she had a stomachache, to the point where we thought she was lactose intolerant. We even took her to a pediatric gastroenterologist. So here we are with our healthy, seemingly normal newborn baby and we're faced with this decision and wondering if we could potentially cause her to become autistic as a result of our good intentions. It's an awful thing to consider. Then again, so's having your kid contract something like polio or one of the deadly diseases that vaccinations prevent. We've chosen to go with a sort of compromise: we're skipping some vaccines for diseases she is not at high risk for (Hep B), and we're separating out the combo ones and spreading them out over a longer period of time, the goal being to have them all done by school age, but to not give her more than 2 at a time. It helps us sleep a little better at night.

The Kidney Situation
So I kind of neglected to mention that we've been monitoring Lily's kidneys since she was in utero. This actually came as a result of the ultrasound I had back when I panicked over not feeling any fetal movement (see Kick Me). It turned out she was fine, but the ultrasound did show that one of her kidneys was just a little bit larger than the other. The doctor said not to worry (of course I did) and that they would do another ultrasound in a couple weeks to see if it was still enlarged. It was, so then we had to go to a specialist at Brigham and Women's. They said usually these things resolve themselves by the time of birth, and we'd do another ultrasound when she was born to make sure. Well, it was still enlarged at birth, so then we had to go and have a catheter put in to drain her bladder, inject a dye, and then see where it went. The concern was that her urine was refluxing back up into her kidney, which could result in chronic kidney infections. She was so good for the procedure, and fortunately that test turned out normal, which means that she'll just keep getting ultrasounds every six months to monitor it.

I mention it only because it was a pretty significant thing during my pregnancy that I only told a few people about because, as per my logic here, the more people you tell the more of a big deal it becomes and the more you worry. In hindsight I do wish I had shared our concerns, because it turns out it's pretty common and not that big of a deal. Maybe we would have spent less time worrying that it was the result of something much more sinister going on in her little body, or that she would die hours after being born, or that it was because I ate uncooked lunch meat.

The Big Sister

Last but not least, it's worth mentioning how wonderful Corinne has been about being a big sister. She really seems to like Lily, even when she's fussy and when I have to put Corinne temporarily on the back burner to deal with Lily's more pressing (or at least harder to ignore) needs. We've put a lot of focus on the things Corinne can do that Lily can't do and the differences between being a big girl and being a baby, so I think that makes her feel important. I also think she sees Lily as more like a pet or a new toy than as another kid. Surprisingly we have not (yet!) seen any jealousy or resentment at having to share our attention and affection. Once again when we expect the worst with Corinne she surprises us. She's also been very helpful, handing me things that I can't reach when I'm feeding Lily or pumping, and giving Lily her Boobah or holding the bottle for her. She likes to be my "Great Big Helper Girl". Last night during book time she even suddenly looked at Lily, who was practicing standing next to her in the bed, and said with such feeling "Oh, she's so cute. I love her". It was unbelievably sweet.

So that's been our lives the past 10 weeks or so. We're all adjusting and settling into a routine and enjoying being a family of four. It's all good!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pictures That Crack Me Up

This series of pictures makes me laugh every time I look at them, so I thought I'd share.

The Family Photo
I love this one because it is reminiscent of a certain Blondin Family portrait circa 1980 or so. Erin was around Corinne's age and I was 9 or 10. Erin was being awful, crying and carrying on because she wanted the stuffed animal that the guy was using to try to make her smile. My parents were getting progressively more annoyed looking, which was clearly seen in the proofs. The final photo, the one my parents ended up going with because it was actually the best in the bunch, shows my dear sister with finger in the air about to pick her nose. Classic. In our version of this you can see that Pete is pushing an irritable Corinne off his lap, having told her to just go away. It took us literally around 40 attempts to get the one that we sent out in Lillian's birth announcement. But look: we're wearing our home-made shirts.
The Aftermath

My mother said she'd kill me if I posted this picture but really, how could I resist?!

It Would Have Been a Nice Picture...
Do you know how hard it is to get four kids between the ages of 1 month and 4 years posed with no one crying, all eyes on the cameras, and get the two dads quickly into the shot before the timer runs out, only to have the dog get all worked up from all the excitement and jump up at just the wrong moment?

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