Archive for the 'Parent Odyssey' Category


Thursday, March 20th, 2008

Clearly, Paul and I have taken on too much, of late…

Moving to a new house, trying to get the old (duplex) house ready for new tenants, looking for new tenants, helping one (family relation) set of tenants to get a new apartment and leave our place because they’ve gotten behind in rent (and owe us money, which is stressful and upsetting), starting Emma at a new daycare, taking care of Emma every day, both of us working full-time, Paul doing his last semester of law school and hunting for a job, AND trying to get ready for a new baby on the way….

We’ve pretty much been stressed out of our gourds.

But finally and importantly, despite all else, we’re starting to make real progress on setting up the new nursery in preparation for our new arrival.

Last weekend, Paul finished painting the baby’s room (of course, it happened to be the ONE room of the new house that needed painting – it had previously been a crazy midnight blue color with an irremovable Bob Marley sticker on the wall – not baby friendly).

Also, during this week, Paul managed to find where, in those mystery moving boxes in the basement, our newborn baby clothes and nursing gear have been hiding! (Now, I’m just a few laundry loads – and a shopping trip for tiny diapers – away from stocking the baby’s dresser with her first clothes and supplies).

And finally, today, after an increasingly frenzied search, he has located the baggie of hardware required to reassemble our crib so that our little one will have a bed of her own when she’s ready for it!!  (Not knowing where that was had started to be a real concern).

So, whew! 

Forty-Seven days to go (if that many) to get ready for her, and now I’m actually feeling more optimistic that we will actually, indeed, be as prepared as we can be.   

And on other fronts, as my belly gets bigger and bigger, my walk (OK, waddle) slower and slower, and my general energy levels lower and lower, I’m being forced to accept that I can only do so much, and that clients and coworkers and fellow board members, the unpacking in the new house, and everything else will just have to do without as much of me for awhile. 

And that that’s OK.  Because I have a wonderful, other, part of life on the near horizion, and my attention has to be more and more focused there. 

It’s all starting to seem very real, and I’m getting very excited about being able to meet our new little one very soon!

Doin’ Mama Proud

Monday, March 17th, 2008

Last night, as Emma resigned herself to having to go upstairs for bedtime, she grabbed a dolly and we started up the stairs.

I held one of her hands, and she paused for a minute to arrange her baby so that the doll, which she was holding onto with her other hand, could ‘hold’ the stair rail as we ascended.

All the way up, as she slid the doll’s plastic hand up the rail, she said encouragingly to her dolly, “You can do it, you can do it!” And when we reached the end of the railing, she threw in a “Great job!” 

As we got to the top of the stairs and turned the corner, she told her dolly, “See, you can do LOTS of things!”

It was all so sweet, and made me proud that this is what she has internalized about how we talk to her when she’s trying something new or challenging.

I love my little daughter!

The table and Aiden – both yucky

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Well, Emma’s been making some new friends, and she likes her teachers at the new pre-school daycare.

But not all is sunshine and roses, now that we’re past the novelty of the first few days. 

I’ve been trying hard to prompt Emma with just the right questions to elicit from her some information about her days there, and sometimes, I get good information results.  (The daily teacher’s notes on what she did that day are also a much appreciated source of information and comfort).

But, after a general lack of response last evening, I realized that maybe I’ve been asking too much about what is “fun” and wonderful at school.  It occurred to me that, as is true about anyplace that we spend so much time, there must be some not so good things, too. 

So I’ve started asking about that, too.  Last night, I asked about what is “yucky” at school.  Turns out, “the table is yucky” because one of her little girl friends got “stuck” under there, apparently right when her dad came to pick her up.  According to Emma’s telling, the girl must have been under the table when her father arrived, and, when she couldn’t get out from under it quickly, “she cried for her dad.”  From what I can piece together, Emma imparted some blame for this situation on the table itself (although the girl’s dad helped his daughter to get out right away).  At some point during this melee, Emma “ran away from that.”  (“That” being the suspicious table, I presume).

Also, we had a lot of crying in the car this morning on the way to school.  Emma REALLY wanted to stay home to watch a particular Disney DVD.  She did NOT want to be in her car seat, and did NOT want to go to her new school.

When we arrived and parked at school, I sat in the back seat with her to discuss just why she didn’t want to go in.

Among our topics of discussion was my question, again, about what might be yucky at the school.  And the answer I got was that “Aiden is yucky.”  He has pushed her, she says, and “the teacher scolded him for that.” 

(I don’t doubt that this is true.  Paul once saw a little boy named Nathaniel there push Emma during a play-time right when he arrived to pick her up.)   

We talked about it being a good thing that the teacher was talking to Aiden about not pushing, and about how the teachers like Emma very much and take good care of her.

At that point, I said we should go inside together and just see if there might not also be some fun and nice things about school, too.

Sure enough, as soon as we got to her room, she found a small stack of blocks to keep her attention.  When a teacher asked how Emma was doing today, I said that she had cried quite a bit in the car, but that I thought she was feeling better now.  The teacher then noted Emma’s interest in the blocks and took her for some one on one play time to a corner that houses a “whole bucket of blocks.” 

I thought it was nice that the teacher gave her some special attention and stayed with her for a while getting her focused on something interesting.  (I saw them still there together several minutes later as I passed by again on my way out after checking on some other things).

I also passed the baby room today, and saw a crazy baby feeding table shaped like a kidney bean with slots for like six babies to sit in, all propped up.  There was a lot of rice cereal on their faces.  They were all content and being fed their baby breakfasts together at the table.  Very cute. 

It’s a really good place there.  (Yucky tables, pushy little boys, and all). 

Cold, but Proud and Happy

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

It turns out that we’re in the midst of a record-breaking winter here in Milwaukee.

It’s been unusually, and bitterly cold, and since December, we’ve had snowstorm upon snowstorm regularly dumping multiple inches of snow on our fair city.

My never-closes office even – (gasp) – closed one day last week due to a 10-inch-plus snowfall that was predicted, and came, that day.

But in the midst of it all, and with sometimes wet, snowy shoes, we’ve managed to move into our new house, and are slowly settling in.

Another recent change is that Emma has started at a new day care place.

She has taken right to the place, and loves it, as do we. 

They give us a written report of her meals, nap timing, and other activities for the day.

So we know that on her first day there, the teacher read “Suppertime for Frieda Fuzzypaws” and that Emma enjoyed “filling up and then pouring out sand from pink frying pan,” among other things.

We’re very proud of our happy little girl, who is making friends and adjusting so well to the new “classroom” setting. 

We love hanging her coat on the hook underneath her name in the morning, and, at night, hearing her tell us little things about her day. 

It’s sweet, sweet stuff.  And makes the cold winter seem just a little warmer.

Introducing the Blast-from-the-Past Pregnancy Journal

Monday, October 15th, 2007

I have read in many places that a common side-effect, if you will, of pregancy is forgetfulness. Here’s a Q&A on a mommy website that addresses the issue:

Why have I felt so absentminded since I’ve been pregnant?
Many pregnant women say their short-term memory isn’t up to par during pregnancy, particularly during their first and third trimesters.

It certainly seems to make sense: In your first trimester, you may be distracted by thoughts about this new adventure you’re beginning or worries about your baby’s health, as well as exhausted and nauseated from the hormonal changes you’re undergoing. During your third trimester, you may be overwhelmed or just plain distracted by the huge life changes you’re about to experience and again exhausted if you’re having trouble getting a good night’s sleep.

Research on pregnancy and memory is limited, so no one knows for sure what’s really going on. While some studies have found evidence of verbal and memory deficits during pregnancy, others have shown that pregnant women actually do just as well in cognitive tests as women who aren’t pregnant.

One study found that pregnant women did experience a decline in memory, but only in the third trimester. Interestingly, in a different study, pregnant women rated themselves as having performed worse than they would have before pregnancy, even though they tested just as well as a group that wasn’t pregnant. So if you think you’re flakier than usual while you’re pregnant, it may just be your perception.

My OWN Doctor’s take on the subject is that pregnancy forgetfulness is a result of the hormones and is nature’s way of softening the edge (at least in hindsight) on some of the less pleasant aspects of pregnancy.

Nothing wrong with forgetting the downside.

And generally, I agree with this view.

I found that, after Emma was born, the details of the pregnancy, and how I felt at what stages, kind of faded from view. That was well enough from my perspective, but it is hard to explain to expecting women who come to a pregnancy-veteran for advice that you can’t answer their question about how it was for you because you just can’t remember.

Anyway, the forgetting aspect is one of the things that makes me so glad that I kept a pregnancy journal throughout those days carrying Emma.

August Journal 013

And now that I’m pregnant again – and once again have those kinds of issues on the mind – I figure this is as fine a time as any to share some of the highlights from that journal.

So I’ll be doing that – over the coming weeks. It’s already interesting to see where some of the ways I’m feeling about the new baby (and about pregnancy, generally) are the same as, and different from, they were during the first go-round.

Generally speaking, this time, there is a virtual absence of anxiety about the many unknown changes (physical, emotional, household- and work-related) that the birth of a first baby brings. There’s also a dull sense of dread mixed with determined stoicism, though, at how the physical part will get more challenging before it gets better – although I no longer have any fears about the actual birthing process.

Beyond that, my current tale is just one of hormones. Lots of hormones. Lots of emotion and more tears at trivial stories than usual. Pregnant women should not be allowed to watch Hallmark Commercials or to listen to an interview on the radio in which Benedictine Nun, Sister Joan Chittister, recounts some of her poignant childhood memories.

Busy Daughter, Busy Mommy

Monday, July 3rd, 2006

Tired Girl With a Cheerio on her Chin

Originally uploaded by Koog Family.

It’s nice to have a long weekend. My firm is closed today and tomorrow. I’ll be going in the afternoon, though, just to catch up on the mounting piles of obligations.

But for now, I have the morning off from the office. Emma is napping at the moment. Before that, and all with her help, I fed her breakfast, tidied toys, and folded and put in new loads of laundry. After that round of activity, I could use a nap, too. But instead, I have succumbed to the lure of turning on a soap opera (for the first time since maternity leave).

Not much time for philosophizin’ on the blog, lately. I’ve been too busy keeping up with a very active almost-toddler (who has eight teeth, by the way. And she can say “uh-oh” and “eow” [in response to hearing the cats’ mewing]).

She has the independent spirit of a toddler now, which is most evident when I try to get her to hold still when I change her diaper or – to her horror – put clothes on her. Inevitably these days, she ends up, naked, across the room from the diaper/dressing staging area. I have to go catch her, and use ever more sophisticated techniques to get her to stay still long enough just to fasten two diaper tabs. It sounds much easier than, in fact, it is.

On the other hand, she’s so busy crawling around, exploring, transporting favorite toys from place to place, that when she’s tired, she very very tired; like a young puppy that runs around in seemingly endless circles only to then fall into a deep and uninterruptible sleep.

Yesterday, she nearly fell asleep during her lunch. We had to stop the feeding, mid-meal, so that she could lay down for a long nap. But just before that, I got this picture of her – she had no idea that she had inadvertently stuck a Cheerio onto her chin.

Cats, Your Food’s Got Nothin’ On Peas!

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

Eating Peas
 by Koog Family.

There have been no additional cat food ingestion incidents at our house after the one I wrote about last weekend.

Instead, we’ve managed to steer her toward¬†other, more approriate foods.

Last week, she got really excited about feeding herself Cheerios. This week, we’re right in the thick of riding that wave to transition from all pureed foods to a variety of other finger foods, like toast, cut up fruit, chunks of hash brown patties heated up in the toaster, and, tonight, green peas!


Eating Peas and Smiling

by Koog Family.

This evening, as an accompaniment to some Gerber “3rd Foods” Spaghetti with Meat Sauce (visible on her cheek and bib), hash brown chunks, and banana baby yogurt (visible on her chin) that we helped her to eat for dinner, Emma fed herself peas.

Lots and lots of peas.

Cat Food

Sunday, June 11th, 2006

Originally uploaded by WhatDaveSees.

I suppose it was inevitable.

We try to be vigilant about keeping crawling Emma away from the cat’s food bowls on the floor in the kitchen.

But today, she got a few morsels in her hand and I didn’t notice.

Then she ate one. I saw the chewed up bits of it in her mouth. It was a triangular piece of Science Diet Hairball Formula Light.

I’m sure it didn’t taste quite like (her favorite snack)¬†a Cheerio.

Four Things I Never Knew About Motherhood

Saturday, June 10th, 2006

There have been several surprises along this journey called motherhood that I hadn’t known about before. Here are four of them:

Once a woman stops nursing, for whatever reason, her body starts shedding hair. I’m not talking about a little bit. I’m talking about gobs and gobs coming out in the hairbrush and in the shower. I’m talking about my stylist having a very concerned look on her face and telling me, “there’s just not as much there as there used to be.” I’m talking about the fact that I used to barely be able to squeeze my thick pony tail into a large barrette. And now, if I don’t use a small tiny one, it slips out. I probably lost fifty percent of my hair, if not more. The good news is that it is growing back. The new growth is about an inch and a half long now. When I wear a pony tail, the new stuff groups together into little flippies that kind of look like horns coming out from the side of my head. It’s strange. But it’s normal. Other mothers¬†at work confirmed that they experienced exactly the same thing.

2. This Book Makes Me Cry This Book Makes Me Cry, by Koog Family.

I never knew that the rush of love, emotion, hope, and protectiveness that came over me as I bonded with my new baby for the first hours and days of her life would become physically?, chemically? imprinted upon me somehow. And that images or words that remind me of the intensity of my new-mother feelings can set me off on a crying jag. This sort of silly little book, “Love You Forever,” by Robert Munsch, did it to me. It came in a basket of various baby items upon which we made the winning bid on at a fundraising auction. When I read the book, I melted into a weeping heap of blubbering emotion.¬†¬†¬†¬†

3. Wham_-_Make_It_Big-front Wham_-_Make_It_Big-front, by SuedeyAde.

How could I have ever guessed that leaving Emma at home with Paul in order to drive a half-an-hour away to the dinner place to pick up food, combined with a Friday night “Retro Eighties” radio program, could be such a source of joy and renewal. Driving alone to do errands these days feels, again, like driving alone did when I was a teenager. Just me, the road, and the radio station. I’m quite sure that “Burning Down The House,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Dancing With Mysel-elf” have never before been played at such a high volume or sung along to with such passion inside the space of a mini-van as they were last Friday evening.¬†¬†¬†¬†

4. Tiny Baby Tiny Baby, by Koog Family.

I hadn’t realized that a parent’s attention to a child is so grounded in the moment. I’m so aware of what Emma does every day, and I take in and adapt to each change as it comes along. But that focus keeps me from remembering many of the details of her earlier stages. Paul and I looked at some of her early baby pictures last night, and reacted with stunned laughter to her amazing smallness and her difference from now! We can’t clearly remember that, as we’re following her around the house, now, to keep up with her crawling.


Tuesday, June 6th, 2006

In a large bowl (if you think you have one big enough), combine:

  • A¬†dash of Teething
  • A heaping spoonful of Crawling, and
  • 1 Tbsp. Essence of Earache

 While kneading the baby activity mixture, rapidly mix in:

  • 2 full-time working parents
  • 1 law school summer class
  • 1 adult with a summer cold,
  • 1 case of thumb tendonitis from picking up baby and practicing¬†new Ben Hogan golf swing, and
  • 1 additional trip to the pediatrician.

Blend well.

Don’t sleep all the way through the night.

Bake at 350 until mixture browns and clean toothpick inserted reads . . .

. . . Aha! So this is why I haven’t been posting here as often¬†lately.¬† 😉