Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Boys

I love these pictures. Who is who?
The top picture is Graeme when he was one day shy of being 4 months old. The bottom is Ian at about a week shy of being 5 months old. Everyone says they look alike, but I see two very different kids in these pictures.

Will the Crazies Please Leave Me Alone

Many of you know our troubles with our not-to-be-named nanny that we had to fire when I was 36 weeks pregnant last October because she suddenly went from being the most wonderful person in the world to a raving lunatic almost over night. I recall the day in September when she showed up at our house in a not-very-friendly mood. Odd, I thought, but we're all entitled (some of us more than others) to off days. It was just a bit doubly-odd because over the course of the previous 14 months she hadn't had one off day, at least by my judgement. The following 4 weeks her mood only worsened, much to my frustration and exasperation. We had given her a week of paid vacation at the end of August so I was very puzzled by this - vacation leads to foul mood, hhhhmmmm. I tried everything I could think of over the course of September, eliciting the help of the other families in the nanny share who had also noticed a change in her moods. We tried talking to her, coming home early, buying craft supplies to entertain the kids, planning activities, etc. The big to-do was at the end of September when I showed up to pick up Graeme and the house was in chaos - VERY out of character - and she started ranting at me for overworking/underpaying her, and complaining that Graeme was uncontrollable and that she couldn't take it. I called time-out and set up a meeting with one of the other moms. We had a 2 hour discussion where she cried about missing her family, needing more money, feeling isolated, etc., etc. It ended with us giving her a raise and agreeing to try to communicate better. I was feeling pretty wiped out by the daily attempts to please her, but willing to do almost anything because of the amazing care she had provided over the previous year plus. That meeting was on a Friday and on the following Sunday the other mom called to basically say that psycho-nanny still wasn't happy and was probably going to look for another job. I decided I was done with the bullshit and fired her (with a voice mail message - how professional). I seethed about it, cried about it, and wondered what the f--- went wrong. Eventually, I just had to get over it though I admit to still harboring much anger. Well, yesterday I received a little thank-you note in the mail that said:

The MacGuire Family. It has been my greatest pleasure caring for your precious angel Graeme. I had lots of fun with him. Steve 7 Kelly (sic) I want to thank you for my W-2 form, your kind words and allowing me to work at your house. "Thank you." I did enjoyed working with you all with great respect and appreciation. Love Psycho Nanny (I made the last part up).

What the f----? Is this some passive aggressive move? A note written out of guilt? All it took was a W-2 form? Was I just in a late-pregnancy induced fog last October?

I seem to have developed a pattern of bringing out crazy behavior in other people, but this is really the cat's meow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Embracing my sleeplessness

Sleep, or lack thereof, is a running theme in this blog and my life in general. If anyone had told me how little sleep you get as a parent I would have, I don't know what. I wouldn't have believed them, I suppose. I get no f---- sleep. That's the damn truth. I didn't get much sleep with Graeme and now with two kids I get none. Yesterday morning I just sat in bed and cried like a big whiny baby at about 7AM. I can't say that I "woke up and cried" because I hadn't really slept. Steve took extreme pity on me and went to work late, and then volunteered to come home early. But, by noon I'd composed myself (an exciting shopping trip to Rite Aid provided just the retail therapy to snap me into a good mood - never know what treasures you'll find in the "home goods" aisle). Last night I decided to embrace my sleep-deprived state. I get so sick of people saying, things like...."These years go so fast." "Embrace every moment." "You'll be sad when it's over." Yeah, yeah. I'm sure their right, but in the meantime I'm a walking zombie and basic hygiene like applying deodorant sometimes takes too much energy (I wore it yesterday so surely there's some leftover to get me through day 2, right?). So, in my embracing mindset I decided to enjoy this gift of sleeplessness. How did it go? Well, G-boy went to bed late because his parents were too busy watching a really bad American Idol to get him to bed (yup, our fault all around). Ian squawked and fussed and did his baby thing until about 11PM. Great, this is going so well. I hit the pillow immediately and was thrilled (seriously) when Ian slept until 12:45. Wow! I almost got 2 full hours of sleep. This embracing thing really works well! Ian ate, fussed, and was back down around 1:30 and then about 2:45 he was moving again. Amazing, almost another 1.5 hours. I've practically had a full night's sleep and it's only 3AM! This time he just wanted a little taste and so I was back on the pillow at 3. I lost track after that, but there were 2 or 3 more pacifier-replacement sessions, nibbles, and rockings. Just when we were all settling into the home-sleep stretch I feel I little poke on my face. G-boy is up at the fine hour of 5:53AM. This is great - I get to spend so much quality time with my boys around the clock. Graeme climbed into bed and played with my hair. It's really quite comfy to have four people in a queen size bed (damn, why didn't we buy that king bed). Finally at about 6:45 Steve took Graeme downstairs and Ian and I settled into our best sleep yet until about 7:30. So, all told I probably had about 6 hours and I feel great. Got my deodorant on and even wore earrings.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Deal with me

When my patience is thin (which correlates strongly with sleep deprivation, and hence happens more frequently than I'd like these days) I will walk away from Graeme's antics. Yesterday he woke from his nap and we needed to get moving to a birthday party. He wouldn't budge from his crib. I wrangled a new diaper onto him, but couldn't get him to cooperate on anything else. So, I just calmly walked away and said, "you tell me when you're ready to get out of bed." I went downstairs and told Steve that maybe he'd have better luck getting him up. Steve went upstairs and Graeme said, "Mommy doesn't want to deal with me right now." A truism for sure, but not what I expected from a 2 year old.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Catching up on News with Grandma E

Graeme and my mother spent a recent Saturday morning catching up on the local news. This really isn't staged, despite the fact that my mother reading the sports page seems preposterous. She'll do anything to entertain her grandsons.

Milkshakes for Ian

Last night I had a RESOLVE meeting, which means some productive time spent planning our Spring conference followed by wine with Jane. I planned to be gone for about 4-5 hours so I left Steve with a few bottles of formula for Ian. I am out of pumped milk due to the antibiotic spell a few weeks ago. We rarely use formula so I only have these prepacked "tubes" that each contain enough formula for a four-ounce bottle. I made one bottle and left two tubes on the counter, thinking this should be more than enough to get him through the night. When I returned home at 11PM (well under my 2.5 bottles of wine limit, so I didn't have to pump 'n dump) everyone was sound asleep in the house. It's rare that Ian is konked out at 11PM, so I was surprised, but pleased. I noticed that the bottle was finished and both packets of formula were empty - hungry boy, I thought. Ian woke at 2'ish and I fed him, but he was fussy and didn't really settle down. Finally at 3 I asked Steve to take over. He said he thought Ian was hungry and suggested a bottle. Fine, I said, in my groggy state. Steve made a bottle and took care of Ian until morning. I enjoyed the slumber. Well, when I went downstairs there were two more empty formula tubes. I asked Steve how he made the bottle - two tubes to four ounces of water, right, he said. Ah, nope. You just made Ian a milkshake - a nice, thick creamy, double-Enfamil shake. No wonder he was in a deep-slumber at 11PM and then pissed off at 2AM. I was trying to feed him nutrient-rich, but very watery breastmilk, albeit laced with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. The latter, however, was not enough to slake his thirst for a thick, creamy shake. I can't imagine what Steve will be doing behind my back once he has the boys as true partners in crime.

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm Tired

I think I've finally hit the point where you could call me chronically sleep deprived. I function fairly well for the most part, but I never really feel fully energized. I'm either hyper-energized on adrenalin or I'm kind of just pushing through the day. Everything I do happens in 10 minute snippets - eat a quick breakfast, take a quick shower, do a quick load of laundry, send a few emails, read a quick econ article, change a diaper, set up a craft project, clean up a craft project, throw together dinner, take a quick run, I could go on and on. I can operate this way on very little sleep because no one task takes much energy and I'm constantly moving so there's no time to relax (and sleep). But, of late I've felt like the crazy energy is more prominent than the balanced energy and it makes me prone to feeling moody, weepy, agitated, excitable. I try to embrace this crazy state because it's not forever, but I don't think staying up until midnight or 1AM with Ian and then rising at 6:30AM (with many interruptions along the way) with Graeme is sustainable. Oh, Steve is right in there with me - I usually do the late-night shift and he takes care of the morning, but the size and configuration of our house means that quality sleep is hard to come by when kids are awake. I may have to reintroduce the mama-nap time, though sometimes this is more frustrating than it's worth. First, I've taken to taking in some caffeine so settling down at 1PM'ish for a snooze is difficult. Second, getting two kids to sleep at the same time is a feat. I can't tell you the number of times Ian falls asleep and 5 minutes later Graeme is up. I have to un-irritate myself on those days. I return to work in 3 weeks. On one hand I'm terrified of how we are going to make it all work. On the other hand I'm delirious with the thought of long lunches and lazy afternoons in my government issued cubicle...and I'm one of the more productive ones, if I must say so myself.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another Day in a Life with a Toddler

I woke up today feeling groggy because Ian was pretty squirmy most of the night. (We've moved out of our apartment and he and I are in bed with Steve - not sure how Steve feels about this.) I managed to squeeze in time to make a pot of coffee only to discover 10 minutes later that I hadn't properly put the pot on the base and there were coffee grounds EVERYWHERE. I cleaned up and somehow Graeme ended up in his room reading quietly, which NEVER happens. I decided to let him be and engrossed myself in a crossword puzzle, something I haven't done in eons. I checked on him a few times, but then obviously let a few too many minutes go between checkings. As I went upstairs after completing all of the upper left corner of the puzzle I smelled powder. Uh-oh. By the time I'd hit the 6th step I saw a dusting of powder on the stairs. By the time I got to the landing it was like a blanket of snow. Powder EVERYWHERE. And there was Graeme sitting in the glider rubbing Vaseline all over the cushions, just dipping all of his fingers into the container and globbing as much as he could wherever it would stick. His room was covered in powder...in the laundry basket, in his dresser drawers, all over his books. I later discovered that he had dusted our room and found it all over our clothes, on the dressers, everywhere. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, yell, whimper, or cleanup. I decided to do none of the above. I snapped a picture, changed Graeme's clothes and headed to the park...forgetting about the whole thing.

Good-bye Gregg and Elise

Our very good friends, Gregg and Elise, have moved to Colorado and we miss them dearly. Gregg and Steve worked together and we quickly hit if off with them when we first moved to town 8 years ago. They taught us to climb and we spent many a weekend afternoon on the rocks at Great Falls, Carderock, Seneca, and more. They were also our good hiking and camping pals, and the people we called at the last minute to join us for pool and beer. They have been very kind and supportive while we struggled to have kids and then to raise them. You don't find friends like this often and we are sad, sad, sad not to have them in our daily lives. Fortunately, we now have a great place to visit in Colorado. Though, I prefer if Colorado weren't several states away.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Value of Ian

We are all on the mend here, thankfully, and nature's experiment to trick my body into continued milk production seems to have worked. Worked much better than the $40K I paid to a large local fertility clinic to try to trick my body into greater egg production several years ago.

Thermometer usage has been on the rise in our household and Graeme needed to check Ian's temperature (with an ear thermometer) this morning. He knew just how to use the device. So, I turned it on, Graeme stuck it in Ian's ear and when it beeped he declared "Ian is 7 dollars." Perfect, I replied! The other ear was only 3 dollars, but I told him that was OK too.

For the record, EPA applies a value of statistical life of $6'ish million dollars to value the mortality risk reductions from its policies. And, the literature is pretty mixed on whether or not children should be assigned a higher or lower value than adults. We can consider Graeme's pronouncement an additional data point in the debate.

Monday, March 03, 2008

My Poisonous Milk

Well, I got what I asked for....powerful drugs. But, as with all things in life there are tradeoffs. In exchange for three not-so-small wonder pills I have to give up breastfeeding for three days. Not a bad deal one might say. Don't tell that to Ian.

I woke up this morning still feeling lousy and thoroughly irritated. This was more than just a run-of-the-mill sinus issue, for which I have a miracle cure. So, I called my trusty primary care physician who squeezed me in at 10:45. The very kind and young physician's assistant was willing to hand over some mild antibiotics, even though she was pretty sure it wasn't bacterial sinusitis. However, she thought she should confer with Dr. O'Donnell first. He came in, took one listen to my lungs and pronounced that there was no need to go further. You have a romb'something'itis...an infected mucus ball in the base of your right lung. Lovely. He then took a look at Ian and said, you don't happen to be breastfeeding are you? Oh yes, and I'm allergic to z-pacs, the miracle drug for pregnant and nursing moms. The ONLY drug in the world to which I am allergic. Well, the only choice is to take this power master drug. But, you can't come near your baby with your milk for fear he'll grow horns or something. What is a hard-core nursing mama like myself to do? Pump 'n dump, as we say in the "industry." This involves hooking myself up to a 10 pound motor (courtesy of my co-worker, Lanelle - bless her generosity, this pump has serviced many, many NCEE babies) every time Ian eats and letting it suck the milk out of me just like we do for bovine in the modern world. Lovely, again. I'm to do this every time Ian would normally eat in order to "trick" my body into continuing to produce milk during this break in service so that I can resume providing Ian with nature's best when my body has evicted the gnarly mucus ball. Oh, and I'm to dump the fruits of my labor down the drain, with gloves on. (I made that last part up.) To a breastfeeding mother the only really good reason to pump 'n dump is after you've had 2 1/2 bottles of wine (each) with a bunch of girlfriends on a Saturday night and you are sure that pure alcohol will spill from your boobs. Two bottles of wine and you're clear. No one in their right mind would hook themselves up to this machine unless the results were going into the freezer so that daddy could do a late night feeding (usually on that same night when you had 2 1/2 bottles of wine). Otherwise, dumping is worse than burning 20 dollar bills for the fun of it.

What does Ian think of this? Funny you should ask. Feeding #1 today brought on a full-fledged riot. First, I had to find myself some formula. Then I had to dig up a bottle. By now he's screaming at the top of his lungs. By the time I figured out how to mix it all up and get it to the right temperature social services was on their way. I finally managed to get a bottle in his mouth. No way, he said. What is this silicone thing? Haven't you heard of the leaching of dangerous chemicals from plastic? What are you trying to do to me? I eventually tried to enlist Graeme's help. You know things are bad when a 2 year old is needed for assistance. Graeme tried to give Ian the bottle, but Ian was too worked up for his liking. Eventually, after much soothing Ian succumbed to the bottle and finished it. Then it was time for the pumping. I put Ian in the bouncy seat and started the pumping production. I kid you not, Ian stared at me and just sobbed, with big fat watery tears streaming down his face. How could you? Those are mine. Is money that tight that you have to sell my food? I was equally upset.

Feeding #2 went a bit easier. Now, of course, I'm fearful that he's going to turn on me when I can resume the old fashioned feeding style on Thursday at precisely noon (24 hours after the last monster pill). In the midst of this hoopla to get my child fed and myself well I'm supposed to rest.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ready or Not

We've all been sick as can be over here for what seems like weeks. Both boys have had ear infections and Steve and I can not seem to shake whatever virus has invaded our house. I'm off to the doctor tomorrow to see what drugs I can wrestle out of him to get this thing off my back. In the meantime, my dear mother came over (from the Eastern Shore) to provide some help. Bless her soul. Exposing herself to our germ infested house so that our lives could run a bit more smoothly. She loves being useful and has been thoroughly entertained by Graeme, who has weathered this thing the best of all of us.

Today, she was playing around with Graeme and said, "Ready or not, I'm going to get you." He waited a beat and said "not." We all looked at each other in disbelief and then just started laughing. As with the previous post, my child is either very literal or a pain-in-the-ass. Based on other observations, I'm beginning to think it might be the latter.