Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mommy Time...

So it's been a while since I've been here, and for that I apologize.  We've had a lot going on in the past couple of weeks:

  • We traveled to Buffalo to spend Ellie's first Thanksgiving with my family.
  • I spent the last couple of days of November writing furiously to complete NaNoWriMo.  I wrote a new novel, Otherwise Engaged, which I also blogged about on another Blogger page.
  • Ellie is making it harder and harder for me to even touch a keyboard...
As for that last bullet point, that's what this post is about.  Ellie's recent phase: Mommy Separation Anxiety.  Yes, it's official.  My daughter can't stand to be parted from me, even for a brief enough space of time for me to pour coffee into a mug.  She screams if I sit her on the floor and don't immediately sit next to her, or if I strap her into the high chair and go to the cabinet for her food.  Our apartment is tiny, you can see almost everywhere wherever you're sitting.  It's not like I'm disappearing from sight... I'm just walking elsewhere.

She also can't go to bed unless I put her down for the night.  She either screams in Mike's face for nearly an hour or she wakes up every 30-60 minutes until after midnight.  On Sunday, she did this until 3 AM and even though I was the one rocking her back to sleep, she'd still wake up half an hour later.

It's hard on Mike because he wants to help me and he wants to spend time with her after a whole day apart.  It's hard on me because I have a writing job I'm supposed to be doing at night and I can't get any work done if she's either A) awake and screaming because I'm not sitting with her or B) screaming in the other room because she doesn't want Daddy to put her to bed.  And it's obviously hard on her because it's like a complete breakdown occurs, like she's overrun with anxiety about me being away. 

Meanwhile, she's started hitting and scratching and biting (all unintentional, I think) which means I get the crap beaten out of me all day long.  All. Day. Long. I have the marks to prove it, too!

Well, whatever this is, I hope it's just a phase. I trust it's just a phase, otherwise I'd probably go nuts.  This will pass eventually... but it sure would be nice if we could all just take a day off.  It'd be nice not to be so needed for even an hour.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Elissa at Nine Months

Today, my little Ellie Bear turned nine months old - and on the actual day of the week on which she was born, too :)  So I thought this occasion warranted a brief update on how she's doing, especially since we just conducted a round of checkups coinciding with this milestone. So there's lots to share!

Our first visit, about a week ago, was to Dr. Doody at Mass General.  He's the pediatric surgeon who performed the ECMO procedure (and basically, you know, saved her life).  We always like to see him.  The visit was just a quick check in to look at her scars, listen to her lungs, and just see how she's doing.  He was impressed that she's never even had a cold and also that she tried to steal his stethoscope.  Hey, if you're going to dangle shiny things in front of the kid's face, it's bound to happen.  She got an A+.

Friday, November 19, 2010


With the deadline for National Novel Writing Month looming and me behind on my word count, it's hard not to think about all the things I've left unfinished in the past.  I don't like to talk about these things because I'd prefer it if everyone thought, "Oh wow, that girl's got amazing follow through!"  Because when you're a kid you always hear, "You can do anything you put your mind too!"

Well, I put my mind to a lot of things and sometimes I get distracted.  I've had a lot of failed blogs, lots of false starts on new novels, and I have an entire file folder dedicated to empty documents with really great short story titles.  Do I get bored? Am I obsessed with the feeling that newness brings? How easily am I seduced by novelty?

Thinking about failure like this is a quick way to make a girl depressed, let me tell you.  If you sum my life up as a resume of things I started and didn't finished, it wouldn't fit on one page... also, it'd be the lamest resume ever created in the history of man.  Does the resume of things I have completed stand up?

But in my usual fickle way, one that Pollyanna would be proud to have inspired, I eventually turn to look at things like this from a positive perspective.  After all, everything has a light side... clouds with silver linings and what not.  Cliches aside, I can probably say that I start more than most people.  So I don't finish everything. Who can?  I do the best I can and I know when to cut my losses or shift gears or whatever you want to call it.

If I look at that list of started novels--According to Bogart, Garden Variety, Returning Phoebe, Remaking Mackenzie, Superheroes (there's a winner... ugh), or Rent This (oh, college)--at least I can be proud that I opened up a document and started typing.  Not all words need to have a destination, they're all part of the journey.

Ooh! Can I use that line in a book somewhere?

Anyway, I hope you see my point.  If you've got a 100% completion rate but you've only ever started two or three things in your entire life, is that better than a 25% completion rate when you've started two or three hundred things?  Ask Tom Brady, I'd bet he'd rather throw the ball more often than not, even if Wes Welker can't get underneath it every time.  Because who knows which one of those will be a touchdown pass?

Maybe I just need to work on my aim.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adult Contact, Optional

My life has changed drastically since 2009, and not just in the ways I expected.  I went from a fairly social, working full-time out of the home mother-to-be to what I am today and it hasn't even been nine months.  It's enough to make your head spin, if you think about it.

Before I had a baby, there were so many things I didn't understand.  You can't just take the baby everywhere you go.  You can't make a child take a nap. You can't explain to an eight-month-old that pulling hair and biting are considered rude in your culture, and many others.  You also can't explain work, chores, and what in the bloody hell a laptop is used for... cuz it's certainly not for eating.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Multi-tasking: The Secret to a Happy Mom

I was good at multi-tasking before I became a Mom.  I could do my homework while I watched a Pats game.  I could talk on the phone and paint my toenails.  Hell, I could even walk and chew gum at the same time.

But when you're as pressed for time as I often find myself these days, multi-tasking isn't just a skill that's nice to have. It suddenly becomes a necessity, if you ever plan to accomplish anything for yourself.  People ask me how I'm finding the time to write professionally, write fiction for fun, parent, cook, review all the DVDs in our collection one by one, do the laundry, and walk the dog.  The secret is simple: I never do any one of those things, I do several at the same time.

A typical day in my house is filled with combination task completion.  A movie plays on the TV (for me to review later) while Ellie plays on the floor with her hearing aids in, Penny eats her breakfast, and Mommy folds some laundry.  When Ellie naps, I cook breakfast for myself while also cleaning the kitchen, making bottles, watching a movie, and opening the mail.  By the time four o'clock hits, I'm pretty tired... but that's when my time starts.

When Mike gets home, the multi-tasking doesn't stop, it just takes on a new purpose. It's for me.  Instead of passing out, as I always want to do, I grab my iPod and a pad and paper and go to the gym.  Yes, I take a notebook to the gym.  Why? That's valuable brainstorming time, my friends.  My neighbors think I'm strange, jogging on the treadmill while jotting down haphazard phrases like "they look like sisters" or "why doesn't he want the hot chick?" Amazingly, I can always manage to read them later.  You probably couldn't read them, but I can figure it out.

That notebook helps me jumpstart my writing for the night after Ellie goes to bed.  When I finally sit down in a peaceful, quiet house and I'm the only one awake, that's when I write a movie review, while checking my email, balancing my bank account, formatting a query letter, and researching articles.  I think my brain is happier when it's doing more than one thing at a time.

That's lucky for me, since my brain probably doesn't have a choice right now.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo is Not a Disease...

But it is an affliction.

Seriously, though, some people have been asking what NaNoWriMo is all about. What does it stand for? What do you have to do? And most importantly, why am I doing this to myself? (Again?)

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Basically, a bunch of people around the world hold aside the month of November to write out the entire first draft of a novel.  It can be about anything or anyone. It doesn't have to be good. It just has to be 50,000 words or more and completed between November 1-30. That's 50,000 words in 30 days... roughly 1667 words per day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Like Father, Like Daughter

When I was growing up, I remember hearing my mom say "your sister is too much like me." I thought it was an odd thing to say back then. I mean, if she's so like you, wouldn't you understand each other really well? Get along great? As a kid, you think sharing certain personality traits will bring people together. 

I also remember that Paula Abdul song "Opposites Attract." That was my introduction to the concept that surrounding yourself with people who are different from you is a good thing.  I thought about the parent-child relationship in this context, and thought, "OK, maybe this applies."  But Paula and Scat Cat were singing about romantic relationships, right? So maybe not.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shifting Schedules

Once upon a time, my daily schedule was like most peoples'.  Get up in the morning, go to work, come home and have dinner, watch some TV, maybe go for a walk, then go to bed.  It worked out well for me, since I've always considered myself to be a morning person.  I always do my best work before lunch, so I'd get to work and go full-steam, then slow down in the afternoon. After dinner, that was it for me.  I'd just unwind and call it a night.

And now, things are different.  I know what you're thinking, "a baby changes everything." Right. I know. It is true. But in this case, it's not so much the baby that's changing my schedule. It's working from home.  I guess really, it's working from home around caring for a baby.  And by necessity, I'm now a night person... and I have no idea how I've forced this physiological change on my body.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Birthday Resolutions

Today is my birthday, in case you haven't seen the blanket of well wishes on my Facebook wall. And if you don't already know, I always view my birthday as a new beginning. A clean slate. A brand new year to achieve my goals.

Instead of New Year's Resolutions, I make myself some Birthday Resolutions. A few things I'd like to focus my energy on. This last year got eaten up by my new life as a Mommy, which I suspected. I met a lot of my other goals, but not all of them. I'm pretty happy with the overall results, though.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Sun Came Out!

I am so ecstatic about my daily dose of vitamin D right now! The sun is out! It's back! I love it!

Anyway, when you don't really have many places to go during the day and it rains and rains and rains for so long, you start to get a bit stir crazy. I've been trapped indoors with a baby and a neurotic dog for days. Possibly weeks. I don't really remember the last time we took a walk together.

Before today that is! I just took my girls for a walk and I think it has improved all of our attitudes. Penny is nappy, Ellie is napping, and my brain doesn't feel so cluttered. Oxygen. Sunlight. These are things we need to survive.

I'm not going to let that ever happen again.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Baby Laundry

Everyone warned me that a baby would quadruple my weekly laundry. But it took until now for me to really get the full understanding of that. It seems like Ellie uses more and more clothes, burp cloths, and bibs as she gets older. I really thought it would be the other way around - tons of clothes per day for the really little babies, and less and less per day as they grow.

Nope, not so much.

I don't mind doing the laundry. Let's be honest, it's teeny tiny. When her hamper fills up, I dump it in the washing machine. She has enough clothes, blankets, bibs, and burp cloths to fill up about two hampers, so I just get everything rotating in and out. She's never naked, and I'm not washing clothes every day.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Time In Between

Sometimes I find myself living my life as a series of end points... when this happens, when that happens, when I finally .... In reality, I shouldn't do this, because then I miss stuff. All the fun stuff that happens in between. All the time when I could be improving this or that. Instead of looking for landmarks, I should be more focused on the journey from point A to point B.

Mike and I had a two-year engagement. At times it felt like an eternity, waiting and waiting for that day to arrive. But when I thought about the day-by-day steps it took to get me from the day he proposed to the day I walked down the aisle, it really didn't seem like that long. During the time in between, I went back to school and finished my degree, changed jobs, traveled to England, went to Disney World for the first time, and save a whole bunch of money. The stuff in between was fun and shouldn't have been glossed over. I grew a lot in that time and I wish sometimes that I hadn't sat there, hoping it would go by quickly.

Ellie's Fan Club

Last weekend, we finally got the chance to celebrate Elissa's baptism. It should have been months ago, but for obvious reasons we delayed the event. Finally, just a few days shy of seven months, we had her christened officially.

And we sorta took over the church.

It's true that there are a lot of friends and family in our lives who've grown very fond of our little Miss Ellie. She did give us a heck of a scare with her "dramatic entrance" to the world. True story. And we've always joked that she'd be the kid in the dance recital with a whole seating section of fans (probably holding signs and cheering enthusiastically for her).

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Laptop Can Bite Me...

You know how you can drive a car for years and nothing's wrong with it, then Poof! One thing goes wrong, so you fix it... which causes another problem. You fix that problem, find another one, fix it, then the whole thing falls apart? In reality, all these things were probably going on at once, they were just hidden... really, really well.

I think my laptop has been a ticking time bomb this past year or so, kinda like that Honda Civic with the blown transmission that Mike had to replace last November. And now, I fear, it may also be toast.

Stuff like this always seems to happen when I'm climbing back on the horse. I start a new exercise plan, then twist my ankle. I get some really aggressive writing done, and the tendonitis in my hand flares up really bad. I buckle down to a routine, build a desk, get going again... and then my laptop crashes and burns.


So I'll deal with this, like I've dealt with all the other tiny details. It's just one more hurdle on my obstacle course, no need to stop running. There are bigger things going on out in the world, beyond the walls of my apartment. Bigger problems that can't easily be solved. I realize this, I'm just frustrated.

I feel better now that I got that out...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Back on Track

It's been a bit difficult for me to wrap my brain around my new schedule... And no, being at home all day doesn't mean I don't have a schedule. While it does mean I can wear sweatpants to work, it definitely doesn't excuse me from daily responsibilities.

Juggling those responsibilities, I'm learning, is harder than I thought it was going to be. Take this blog, for example. It's not a "responsbility" per se, but it's definitely something I like to keep up on. See how well I'm doing with that? Yeah.

But I think things will be better now. I spent the better part of three hours last night putting together the world's most complicated desk. From now on, I buy pre-assembled furniture, just saying. Anyway, it's assembled and it's sturdy. So this morning, I built my new little shelves, opened that hot-piece-of-printer I bought back in August, and I officially have a new workstation. Just for me.

I'm hiding in it right now. And as soon as I unpack my camera cord and I can post a picture, I will.

So now it's back to deadlines and projects, with a side of book editing. If I don't get that book completed by December, I'm going to be really mad at myself, people.

Mark my words: Done by December. Then I'll edit that second book while I submit the first one to agents (again). Because if I don't, then why did I just spend this money on a new "office"? Exactly.

Here's hoping that a little normalcy and consistency will bring me great creative energy.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Moving In

So here I am, coming to you live from my new living room in my new apartment in a completely new town. This is the first time Mike and I have moved outside of our beloved metrowest Waltham/Watertown area, and so far, so good. We have a new mall, new grocery store, new local Target... and lots of other great places to explore.

Unpacking is a long process, since we're trying to fit all of our stuff into this smaller apartment. It's well laid out and has a nice, open feel with plenty of sunlight. But the truth of the matter is, we're down one bedroom and about 300 sq. ft. We're also down a half-bath, but that one I don't really mind because it means one less toilet to scrub.

So as it stands now, our living room/dining room and kitchen are done. Ellie's room is organized, our main bathroom is set up.... but if you go into the master bedroom/bath, not so much is it unpacked. Of course, most of the boxes are office stuff that we can't unpack until I get my new desk (that's where my office will be), so there's not much we can do now.

Penny and Ellie seem to have adjusted without issue. We did have a tiny problem with Penny "marking" territory in the middle of the night, but we solved that already. No way is this dog peeing on my new, white carpet. Argh.

I'm adjusting too. It's quiet here but peacefully so, and I like it. I wish I was on a better schedule, but I know that will come with time. Plus, most of Ellie's nap times I spend unpacking right now. Once there's nothing left to unpack, I'll go back to writing more articles (instead of just the ones that are due) and blog posts and get myself back on track. And maybe I'll stop watching all this TLC / A&E / VH1 programming during the day.

I'll get there.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Icky Surprises

It's amazing what you uncover when you move. I'm not just talking about back issues of People magazine or that sock that went missing shortly after you moved in. I'm talking about the other residents who've been hiding in your stuff.


Of all the reasons I don't like moving, this ranks as #1. When you start moving stuff around and "disturbing" the evil beasts, they start popping up and surprising you. Last weekend, when Mike and I packed up a sizable amount of stuff, we lost sight of one weird hybrid-spider thing that was red and had many legs. After it ran off, we discovered a couple of dead spider carcasses in its lair. Whatever this thing is, it eats spiders. Should I be worried? Or grateful?

And where the hell is it?

Shortly thereafter, another surprise popped out of the DVDs and tried to make me a widow. Fortunately, with some Pantene hairspray and flip-flop assistance, Mike managed to battle the giant cave spider and live to tell the tale. Yuck. I never got to see this one... it was so huge and ugly, he wouldn't let me see it. Something tells me I'd never sleep again.

It's been a few days since we've stirred up all these tiny ecosystems, and still, I'm meeting new enemies. Just today, a giant daddy-long-legs was chilling in the hallway. I'm not as scared of these things as "regular" spiders, but it was still about 8" in diameter.

Did you know that Swiffer dusters make light work of these icky things? And all the little tiny body parts stick right to the duster. No muss, no fuss.

Anyway, we've got some more work to do before we're ready to move out of here tomorrow. Here's hoping there aren't any other residents to discover, particularly if they're big enough to eat babies or small dogs.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bessie's Page...

If I haven't said so already, I have some insanely cool friends. This week has been a big BIG week for me. I'm finally, officially a writer.

Like, that's how I get to answer when people say, "So what do you do?"


As a writer who actually wants to make something of herself, of course, I have to have a legit website. I have this really cool friend who can do smart things with code and poof! Website!
Check it out :)

Stay tuned for my coming-one-day fiction writing website :) That will be all frilly and girly... and will hopefully have a slogan.

I have this other super fantabulous friend who likes to play with cameras occasionally. And thus, Bessie The Ghost Cow's Facebook page was born. Join me in paying tribute to little Ellie's bestest bovine friend by liking her page. Mooooooo!

Thanks to my awesome friends! And thanks to everyone who keeps reading my articles! Every click makes me money... so keep clicking! :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Last Week

In honor of my last week of work before full-time mommyhood and writing, Ellie has decided not to sleep at all and teethe like mad. Hooray! As I'm sitting here at my desk, bleary-eyed and regretting that my IBS prevents me from drinking coffee, I can't help but think that this is one of those things I won't miss about work.... I won't miss being drowsy at my desk and trying to hide it.

Which, of course, got me thinking about the other stuff I won't miss. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things I WILL miss, but the transition will be easier if I just concentrate on what I won't miss...

  1. Ringing phones. I hate the way these things ring. And then when your coworker is away from the desk, and it just rings and rings and rings and rings... that drives me nuts.
  2. Perfume. I'm allergic to fragrance, people. I'm glad you smell nice and you'd like to share, but come on! If I forget to take my Zyrtec before work, I'm doomed. Today, I forgot it. Again.
  3. Gossip. Couldn't care less about what he said/she said/happened yesterday... Unless, of course, it's really good...
  4. Lost and found emails. Oh no! I lost my press-on nail! Let me email the entire campus and see if someone found it in his tire treads!
  5. Breakfast on the go. Sometimes you just want scrambled eggs, not another damn Pop Tart.
  6. Looking busy. If I'm not busy, I don't want to be busy trying to convince you that I am. Follow?
  7. Being polite. When I don't want to be. Jerk.
  8. Leaving Ellie in the morning.

I think that about covers it. What wouldn't you or don't you miss about YOUR job?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me & My Soy

So being dairy-free for my dairy-intolerant daughter was no picnic at first. She could not have any dairy at all, so I had to avoid even the tiniest amounts if I was going to breastfeed her (without her bleeding in her diaper).

When she stopped breastfeeding, I went back to dairy. Happy to eat cheese once again. Eager to get my hands on a brownie sundae. Thankful to trade in that soy mozzarella for the real deal.

But that's when my own troubles began. Or, I guess, that's when they became clear. I'd always suspected I had issues with dairy - not lactose-intolerance, but just difficulty digesting it. And then being free and clear of it for about 8 weeks reset my system. That initial shock of yogurt, cheese, and milk sent me over the edge.

That's when I had all those issues with my tummy and angry bladder. The end result being, I have IBS. And all along, dairy has been irritating it. So there you have it. If that's not a lesson in 'things happening for a reason,' I don't know what is.

Anyway, I'm back to a very limited amount of dairy in my diet. I don't have to avoid it outright, but I'll pass on the daily yogurt and bowl of cereal with milk, thanks. Instead, I've gone right back to the soy products I grew to like. Some of them are even delicious.

For example, Vanilla soy milk in plain coffee is the most delicious "french vanilla" I've ever had, without the artificial flavor. Chocolate soy milk in coffee makes mocha! Yum!

Vegan butter takes just like the real stuff, but my tummy doesn't get angry. Same for soy whipped cream. That stuff is good! And don't get me started on Tufutti ice cream sandwiches. I was surprised how yummy those were and they have fewer calories too.

So being dairy-free has its perks. I think I might eat these alternatives even if I didn't have to. Any other suggestions for dairy-free stuff I should try?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Sippy Cup Diaries

Ellie has been doing so well at holding her bottle up and stealing plastic cups from innocent bystanders that we decided to present her with her very own sippy cup. Filled with water, of course.

As it turns out, Ellie, like her Mommy, is not too impressed with drinking water. I'm not sure if it's enough motivation to learn how to do this. Although the sippy cup itself is an adventure, we're still generating a mixed bag of hit-and-miss results. Thank goodness for spill-proofing!
Still, she's eager to get this whole drinking-by-herself situation down, and I know she'll get there. In the meantime, enjoy the photos...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Six Months

Yesterday, my little pumpkin turned six months old. Hard to believe how quickly that six months has passed. Next Sunday, she will have been home for four months. That's just crazy talk.

Elissa is getting to be very bright and very curious. She also thinks she's a comedian. We've reached the slapping and pinching phase, and I've got the scratch marks on my face to prove it. I also have a tiny hand permanently afixed to my hair and/or necklace. Between that and a constant patch of drool on my shoulder, I'm one stylin' lady.

She's also still trying to control the spoon at feedings. Something Mike is brave enough to let her try, with mixed results. Her aim is improving, but she still manages to spread a fair amount of baby food onto various parts of her face.

Sitting up is going well, although Ellie still needs to take "breaks" from all that physical exertion, at which point she face-plants into the nearest comfortable surface. Which is sometimes Mike or me, but often the floor. When Penny walks by, Ellie nearly loses it with excitement. I can just see her plotting how she's going to get those ears into her mouth. This excitement, however, also leads to an inevitable "thump" where my daughter has again folded herself in half.

But her dedication is impressive, nonetheless.

So, at this six month mark, I can honestly say that watching a child grow and develop is one of the coolest things we get to experience as human beings. Watching her discover and learn is an incredible gift. I can't wait to see what's in store for the next six months!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Diaper Dilemma

Did you know that there are not trash bins in church? There aren't. I'd never noticed this phenomenon before, since I've never walked into mass with trash in my hand. Ever (which I find somewhat strange, but whatever). They say motherhood changes everything, and this walking-into-mass-with-trash-in-hand thing is included.

Yesterday morning, Mike and Ellie and I went to breakfast at our favorite diner. As we were getting ready to leave, Ellie made us a present in her pants. The diner doesn't really have any bathrooms to speak of, certainly no designated changing area, and I wasn't about to change her on the table in front of the manager. So we paid the bill and I changed Ellie in the car. There were no barrels around on the street, so I kept the diaper in the car as we drove to mass.

"We'll find a barrel," Mike said. "It's only a few minutes away."

"Yeah, but this one's really bad, hon," I said, trying not to leave my mouth open too long. It really smelled. It was ruining my french toast breakfast.

"They gotta have a barrel at the church. Throw it out there."

And I agreed, because there are trash barrels everywhere else. Surely, we could throw it out in a barrel in the parking lot. Or outside the entrance. Um.... nope.

Apparently, Jesus makes no waste of any kind. Consequently, he doesn't recycle either. There were no bins anywhere.

As I walked into the church, clutching my daughter's waste in my hand, I panicked. Mass had started. There were no barrels. Mike was ahead of me and unless I yelled, "Wait! Where can I put the poop?!" I wasn't going to stop him.

So I ran back out to the car and put the diaper in the trunk. Cuz, you know, when the car gets hot and the poop gets hot, it would make the car smelly. Right? Better to put it in the trunk. At least we can't smell it there.

Thankfully, when we got home, Mike remembered to ask me where I put the diaper. If he hadn't it would still be sitting there. Tragedy was averted for us, but how many other parents are forced to store baby waste in their trunks? One barrel, just one, could have solved this dilemma.

When I put my money in the collection bin, do you think I can earmark it for "waste management solutions?" Just a thought...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Big Changes

It's finally official. I'm taking the leap... to full-time freelance! And full-time mommyhood!

There are some big changes in our lives slated for the beginning of September. I'm leaving my job, just in time for Mike to go back to teaching, and we're moving! I have to admit that all these changes are a bit overwhelming, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited. So there you have it.

The new apartment we're moving to will be a great place for Ellie to grow up. We still have a pool, a playground, and a gym, but the area is much safer for walking than the busy street we're on now. I can still walk to the grocery store, the pharmacy, the bank, and (of course) a Dunkin. But it's definitely less accessible to the T. It'll take some adjusting to be so limited in where I can go, since we share a car and Mike will be teaching all day. But his commute will be cut in half, and he doesn't work nights or weekends - so I'm sure I'll be fine.

I just hope I can stay focused and motivated to keep my writing career alive. I've built a great base since I started this freelance thing last October. And ultimately, I'd like to find a balance between the articles/blogs I write and my fiction work, which has been shelved for entirely too long. It's easy to get caught up in what I get paid for.... too easy.

But I'll definitely have less on my plate, since none of the jobs left are "new" (aside from moving/unpacking). I'm already a mom, a wife, a "housekeeper," and two kinds of writer as it is. Nothing new there! Maybe I'll have more time to relax....

Or maybe I'll finally get that novel published.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Applying the Breaks

I learned something valuable this weekend. Mainly, that sometimes it's okay to say "no" to something. I've always been really, really bad at turning down the opportunity to be useful (or make extra money, as in this case). But when you're in over your head, you have to step back and say "no" once in a while.

This has been a problem since high school, when I was simultaneously editor-in-chief of the newspaper and president of the drama club... and in all the shows, while also producing them.... and a writer on staff, plus a layout designer. Add frequent babysitting jobs (which I never passed up - of course), my full course load, and applying to college - I was a mess. But I loved every minute of it.

Things didn't change when I went to college. Drama, newspaper, drama, co-founding a magazine, work study job, more drama... producing/acting/costume designing/writing plays....Oh, and I also took classes. I frequently ended up sick, probably because I never let me body rest. Again, loved it. I didn't know how else to live my life. I had to be busy.

But what was I afraid of?

In the years since college, I've learned the value of a good "day off." In fact, I think I got so burnt out by 8 years of cumulative "busy" that I needed a break. I laid low on the drama front, gave myself some space. I focused on working, took extra hours at my retail jobs on the weekends, then left my nights free. I started writing again, when I finally found a job where I could relax a bit.

My shoulders felt lighter. My world was a little easier to digest.

So I was writing... and then I started to fall back into my old patterns. I was rabbid for new writing jobs, signing up left and right, searching Craigslist, scanning Freelance message boards... anywhere there was content that needed writing, I wanted to write it. I started going back to school too. And poof! There went my free-time.

But this weekend, I was proud of myself. I took a minute to think about what was important. Did my short-term goals match my long-term? Was I headed in the right direction? If not, what did I need to do to get there? And I let some of the deadlines go, relaxed my grip a bit, said "no" to a few new projects.

It felt really good.

So then I spent the weekend away from the computer. I read a couple of romance novels, spent some time with my family. It feels good not to be overloaded again.

Maybe I can spare some time for that book I'm writing, one of these days.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Latest Idea

Recently, a friend posted a link on my Facebook wall that got me thinking... Well, actually, it gave new life to an idea I've been kicking around for a few weeks now.

It started simply enough.: How can I combine skin care/beauty with being a mommy? The answer came to me last week when I joined Mom Blog Network and spotted the Beauty category for shared blogs... A mommy-centered beauty blog? Would anyone read this?

I'm taking a huge chance here and (hopefully) ending a streak of failed blog attempts in a similar vein. I never took a Mommy perspective before, so maybe that's the missing ingredient?

I hope you'll all join me at my new site, Mommy's Makeup Drawer, for helpful tips and beauty secrets. There's not much there now, since it is a work-in-progress, but I thought some of you might enjoy this!

Don't worry, I'll still be posting here! So keep reading :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Eleventh Hour

I don't know why, but to be successful, I must procrastinate.

Now before you call shenanigans, hear me out. When I was in school, I was a chronic procrastinator. Instead of tackling that big school project looming in the distance, I'd work on the little assignments first--the five-problem math homework, the 200-word essay for history...etc. All the while, ignoring the big 10-page paper.

Until the night before. The eleventh hour.

Then I'd write like mad, stay up until it was finished, until my hands hurt from typing and my eyes hurt from the research. I'd get myself all worked up, adrenaline pumping, then tackle that assignment with wild (but grammatical) fury.

And I'd get an A.

Once, in high school, I tried to change my ways. The night we were assigned a huge English paper, I went right home and got started. I found my sources, read the research, drew up an outline... I worked on that paper for two weeks, on and off. I wrote it, then edited it a few times. I had my mom read it over, then I made more changes.

I got a B.

This, to someone who has spent her entire life putting out academic fires, was disconcerting. Did I need to be all but inebriated with adrenaline to perform? Was torturing myself part of my creative process?

When I wrote a novel on a 30-day deadline for National Novel Writing Month, I finished it in THREE WEEKS. Yes, that's right. 60,000 words. Three weeks. When I started editing (and editing and editing...then let my mom read it...then edited it some more), I got rejected by every agent I sent it to. I'm starting to think that I might need to operate under the same rules in all aspects of my writing.

And of course, my freelance career is grounded in the mantra "I can't right now, I'm on deadline." And yes, that life-on-a-deadline might have resulted in bladder spasms a month or so ago. It might be fueling this raging case of tendonitis in my fingers. And it might explain my caffeine problem. Might.

But I can't help it. In the eleventh hour, I'm a genius. I'm prolific. I'm procifient. And I'm gramatically correct.

It makes me money. Can it be so bad? Where do I draw the line?

I guess I'll just keep trying to reset my internal system. Maybe I can make my body THINK it's on deadline two days in advance? Maybe I can impose some sort of control over my adrenal gland? I don't have the answers. I just know what I have to do to get the job done.

But man, am I tired!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fitness Challenge

Ok, here we go again. I mentioned last month that I'm trying to whip my butt into shape again. And when I say again, I mean for the first time since high school. I know. Sad.

Anyway, now that I have this active rolling-all-over-the-place, and soon-to-be-walking munchkin, I gotta get moving. I've been keeping my promise, though. The Wii Fit and I are still friends, and my handsome virtual "trainer" says I have great balance...sometimes. Until I try to do Standing Knee on my left leg, then it all goes downhill.

Anyway, we're down 9 pounds and we're moving forward. Hooray!

I promised my doctor... actually, I forced him to give me a weight loss imperative... that I would lose 30 pounds before I got pregnant with #2. So I'm giving myself a year from now to lose the 21-pounds left of that promise, and hopefully 20 more. I can do it, right?

So I'm happy about those nine pounds right now. But I gotta tell you, I have an unfair advantage. This new IBS diagnosis has me shedding pounds like crazy. With no beef and no dairy on the menu, I'm doing great. Granted, I'd kill for a cheeseburger most days, but when I think about how much my tummy will hurt if I eat one... well, that fights the temptation for me.

More exciting updates later, I promise. Like Ellie's new obsession with plastic cups. Or perhaps our adventures in bananas... Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Growth Spurts

Ellie is getting huge. In a good way, not in an out-of-control way. She's starting to make up for lost time. This makes me a happy Mommy.

At her check up appointment yesterday, we learned that our little lady has gained almost 2 lbs and 2 inches in the past month. I'd been suspecting a growth spurt was in the works, given how hungry she's been. She can really put away that formula, let me tell you.

Ellie weighed in at 14 lbs 14 oz (she's finally doubled her birthweight) and now ranks in the 50% percentile for weight. That's a jump up 20%. She's also sprouting upwards and now measures 26 1/4" tall. That's the 80% percentile for height! Basketball practice anyone? Or maybe ballet class?

Anyhow, she's starting to feel less and less like a baby when I hold her. I still can hold her, thank goodness. But man, is she getting heavy! It's amazing to watch her grow and catch up. Most of the doctors said it would be a year before she was caught up to other babies in both height/weight and development.

As I watched her this morning, I knew they were wrong. She rolled over, reached in front of her, grabbed her pacifier and put it right into her mouth. I've seen her do this before, and I'll see it many times again, but Mike and I agree. It's the best sight there is.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Freelance Learning

As many of you know, I've been working part-time as a freelance writer since last fall. It's kind of nice - I pick the jobs I want to do, work when it's convenient, and spend my life teetering on the edge of many, many deadlines. So ok, the deadlines aren't so nice... but it's actually a very fulfilling kind of work for me.

One of the perks is what I'm learning from all of this. See, one of my jobs is for a UK-based content generating site. Companies hire them to get written content for their websites. I get paid per short article but all of the work is anonymous. A little weird, yes, but it's exposing me to some pretty cool things. For example, I write many of these article using the UK English setting in Microsoft Word (per their work orders). I've been spelling 'colour' and 'favour' and I find myself using Brit-like expressions at times... and words like 'lovely.'

It's like writing with a British accent.

But more than that, I have to do a tremendous amount of research if I'm going to write 'spot-on' articles. I've learned about silver commodity exchange markets, questionable websites selling women's 'unmentionables' to gentlemen friends, cherry picker rentals, and the foreign exchange market. This week, I wrote 16 articles about bathrooms... specifically, shower stalls... or 'shower enclosures' as the Brits say. I did not know I could write 16 articles about shower stalls, but somehow, I made my deadline.

My other writing jobs span a wide range of topics. For Associated Content, I focus on Beauty articles. This week, I wrote about hair care. For Suite 101, I write about women's health and allergies. Sometimes I write about dogs, but the Pets Editor is a pain in the neck, so I try to avoid that section. At Demand Studios, I have to pick articles from a list. Sometimes I end up with weird ones like this week's Fish Tank Mold Allergy article. For Nifty Magazine, I write about beauty and skin care for models. I know. And then at ShopGala, I write about shopping and saving money, then sometimes I review products or stores.

I'm all over the place.

Sometimes, I also dabble in press releases (as a consultant) and "image management" blogging. But I'm not supposed to talk about that one. I signed a contract once.

Anyway, that's what I do. In case you were curious. It may seem a bit frantic at times, a little all over the place. But one day, this is going to let me stay home with my kids and work on my own schedule. Not bad. And I actually get paid what I'm worth -- I write something, I get a check. Pretty straightforward.

One day I'll breakaway from the madness of being pulled in all of these directions and just focus on my niche: beauty and skin care. But for the time being, I don't mind writing that article on Allergen Swab Tests. Cuz hey, it makes me a student every day of my life.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ellie at the Zoo

Last week, we took Ellie to the zoo for the first time. Yes, she's five months old. No, she had no idea where she was. Mommy and Daddy liked to pretend that she did, however, and that she was LOVING it.
Here are some of her escapades with zebras, ostriches, and gorillas...

Ellie's New Accessories

When Ellie was at MGH, still connected to the feeding tube, central line, and all kinds of drugs, I used to joke with the nurses that she had a lot of accessories. I'd pick her up from the crib and say, "Ok, Ellie! Let's make sure we have all your accessories!" I guess it was my way of making such horrid things acceptable. You gotta keep perspective sometimes.

Now, as we rise to a new challenge and a new type of accessory, I can't help but smile at my (seemingly) laid-back attitude toward things like IVs. Hearing aids pale in comparison, I can tell you that. And since Mike ordered the special clear-moulds-with-purple-glitter variety, my daughter's new accessories are at least stylish, if nothing else. Isn't that what we all long for, ladies? Style + functionality?

Anyway. We're getting the hang of this. These things require special care and constant vigilance. She wears them a few hours a day and really seems to enjoy them. Yesterday, she learned how to take them out. Oh, joy. She also learned that they can go in her mouth. Yes, the hearing aids that are not supposed to get wet... those make an excellent new teething toy. Once we thwarted disaster, we had a new appreciation for just how fast those tiny hands can work.

We still have a few kinks to work out. For example, remembering to bring them with us when we go new places. That would be a good start. But it's only been a week. The central line took some getting used to, and so will these. When I see how happy she is to hear us better, though, I don't mind this new adjustment to our lives one tiny bit!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Irrational Fear

There was a spider in my bathroom this morning. It ruined everything.

For those that aren't aware, I have a terrible fear of spiders. I'm not entirely sure where this comes from, but I have vague memories of a spider crawling across my face during my childhood. I've tried to block that out. It still gives me the creeps.

This fear has deeply rooted itself into my psyche. Those that have read my fiction work might recall the short story "To Kill a Spider" where I spend several pages of prose wrestling with this fear. I have also passed the fear along to one of my favorite characters in my novel ReGifting Ava - Kimmy is petrified of the little menaces.

Technically, I'm arachnophobic. But saying (or typing) that word makes me think of the movie Aranchnophobia... and even though the spiders lose in the end, that shower scene (and the damn LAMP) still scare the bejeezes out of me.

So this spider in the bathroom this morning was cramping my style. I saw it from the shower... it was perched at the tippy top of the wall above the toilet. A toilet I had recently used. Where I was sitting beneath this carnivorous, ravenous (obviously) being. Honestly, I could've been eaten alive. I suddenly felt incredibly vulnerable... standing there, naked in the shower, with this monster only feet away.

I rinsed faster than I ever have in my life and sprinted out of the bathroom. Mike was downstairs feeding Ellie, there would be no quick death for this guy. And I'll be damned if I was gonna climb up on that toilet, face it eye-to-eye and bludgeon it to death (as it deserved). No. I was going to keep an eye on it and go about my routine.

This plan went well, and I was fully dressed and on my way... Until I remembered that I hadn't brushed my teeth yet. Dammit. I stood outside the bathroom and wound my arm around to the sink to grab my toothbrush and toothpaste. The idea of brushing my teeth - just having my mouth open- in the same room as a spider made me cringe. I brushed in my bedroom but I had to rinse in the sink. I crept back into the bathroom, eyes plastered to the unmoving spider (brown, but not a brown recluse... trust me, I've memorized what all the really poisonous ones look like), and tried to act nonchalant while I rinsed. Instead, I felt like the unsuspecting gazelle, visiting his everyday watering hole, not realizing a crocodile is ready to eat him alive. (Do crocodiles eat gazelles? I don't know.) And for the record, it's hard to rinse your mouth in the sink if you're simultaneously trying to look up.

So I survived. I sent Mike to slay the demon spider and then tried to go about the rest of my morning. But I couldn't help feeling just a little like an idiot. A spider? Come on, Steph. Be a woman. Kill the damn thing yourself. What if Ellie was in danger?

Ok, I guess if Ellie were being threatened by the know, at fang point or something, I would definitely kill it. Maybe that unlikely scenario will cure me forever. Until that happens, however, I will continue to hit the panic button every time I see 8 legs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Adventures in Applesauce

Tomorrow, Ellie will be five months old. (I know!) My mind is blow by how fast time is passing... but also by the fact that five months doesn't sound like that long... Time is relative.

Anyway, we've been exploring the world of food with Ellie. She's been getting rice cereal in her bottle for a little while now, so we started with a bowl of that. She made a mess. Also, have you ever tasted formula with rice cereal in it? I made that mistake. It is disgusting.

So we moved on to applesauce.... where she also made a mess. At least she seems more enticed to learn how to coordinate this new kind of swallowing. She also thinks it might be nice for her to hold the spoon. I can already hear her: "Mommy, I do it!"

For the record, Ellie holding the spoon never ends well. Unless you consider splattered applesauce on your furniture and clothing a good end result.

We'll get there.

After a few days, she's still mostly curious (check out those eyebrows) about the whole thing. What is this? What I am supposed to do with it? And why can't I just have a bottle? But every day she seems to get a little bit more applesauce from that spoon.

Next week: sweet potatoes!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lemme Check Just One More Time...

I'm obsessed with checking on Ellie when she's sleeping. I don't know if it's residual from her extended stay in the NICU (you know, when she couldn't breathe) or if I'm just a worrier. Would I be like this had she been born under "normal" circumstances?

Probably, but we'll never know.

She sleeps through the night, sometimes passing out around 7 or 8 pm. We won't hear a peep until about 6 am (I know, crazy huh?) because Ellie likes her beauty rest. If not for the monitor that Lish bought us, I'd probably be in there even more. As it is, I peek in about 5 times before I go to bed. Then, of course, every time I wake up in the night.

Last night, I tried to fight the urge to go and check on her. I heard her stir on the monitor (probably rolling or turning) and I immediately snapped to attention. The following dialogue played in my head.

Crazy Steph: "My baby moved. What if she rolled over and is smothering herself? I have to check."

Logical Steph: "Don't be ridiculous. You know she likes to sleep on her tummy. She'll be fine."

Crazy Steph: "She can't sleep on her TUMMY! What about SIDS?"

Logical Steph: "If you roll her over now, she is just going to roll over again before the morning. She. Likes. Her. Tummy."

Crazy Steph: "I cannot be complicit in this. She cannot sleep on her tummy when I'm conscious. If she does it on her own, and I'm asleep, I know there's nothing I can do. But if I heard her rollover and didn't fix it, and something happens to her... I will never forgive myself."

Logical Steph: "You're insane."

Crazy Steph: "You're the one talking to yourself!"

And then I get up and check her. So I guess I have to ask all the other mommies out there if this ever goes away? At what point do you say, "Screw it, sleep on your tummy!" and stop panicking? Ever? Or was my mom secretly checking on me in the middle of the night until I was 17? (weird)

Until that day when I can rest assured my baby girl is ok sound asleep in her crib, there's nothing quite as reassuring as those little baby snores and the slight rise of her tummy with every breath. Hell... maybe I just like seeing her that peaceful. Who can blame me?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Heart of Hearing

The mind is for seeing, the heart is for hearing.
-Saudi Arabian proverb

After all that she went through, it should come as no surprise that Ellie is at risk for many problems in the future. Her eyes were just the tip of the iceberg. For the next few years, we'll constantly be on the look out for developmental delays, physical problems like cerebral palsy, and even mental disabilities. In truth, we won't really know what the full effects of her treatment will be for about 7 or 8 years. It's scary to think about all of these things, but when you're with her it's easy to forget.

Ellie is socially perfect for her age. She's babbling, smiling, giggling... you would never know. There are days when I look at her and think, "Wow! Is this the same baby?" Medical professionals have said the same thing--looking from her chart to her and back again, trying to figure out how we got so lucky. Or blessed.

She's my miracle baby. That's all I can say.

This past week, we've been dealing with another "problem" she will be facing for the rest of her life. Ellie has hearing loss in both ears, a result of damage to the nerve from one of five risks she encountered during her treatment. We've known about it since we left MGH, but were waiting for her follow-up in July. Since April's test, there's been no change - no better, but no worse either. I guess that's a win :)

She still needs hearing aids, which we're getting at Mass Eye & Ear tomorrow. Mike picked out a stylish pair for her. I'm excited to see what happens when Ellie hears all the little sounds she didn't know about before. But I'm also worried that she will be scared by it for those first few days. How do you explain that to a five-month-old? There will not only be new sounds, but the old sounds that she knows will be a lot louder. I don't have any hearing loss, so I can't even begin to imagine what this will be like.

In the meantime, we're learning some sign language to help bridge the gaps. She seems interested but it's too early for her to be able to remember them or sign back. Mike is having fun learning the alphabet, colors, numbers, etc. and he gives me a nightly recap of what he learned that day. I'm learning sign language by osmosis, I guess, because he keeps doing things like complementing my outfit in signs. Or asking me what I want for dinner. Out of necessity, I'm picking it up :)

I guess I'm just thankful that Ellie is going to get the chance to hear a little closer to normal, but I can't help worrying about her. Will kids make fun of her hearing aids? Will she struggle to learn language? Will she be able to sing songs and play games with other kids? I know she is already stronger than I am, so I know she'll be fine. But I'm learning that when you're a mom, you want you baby's life to be as easy and enjoyable as possible.

Instead of mourning the hearing loss, or the vision problem, or the scar on her neck, I'll be celebrating them. My baby is here, she can hear, and she can see. She's beautiful and, in my opinion, she's perfect.

Mommy's Wake Up Call...

I guess I have some catching up to do on my blog! So much for not disappearing for days on end... I went ahead and ditched you all again!

Seriously, I've got to get it together!

But this time I have a harrowing tale to tell, I assure you. Somewhere in the midst of that Fourth of July weekend I just wrote about, I started feeling weird. Without going into too much detail (I'm sure you don't want to know!) I couldn't quite convince my bladder that it was empty. I thought it was UTI, a conclusion I came to on Monday night. In the morning, I made an appointment, trudged over there, got my prescription, and thought we'd call it a day.


More abdominal pain--the tear-inducing kind--and we're back at the doctor's. Different doctor this time, who is actually listening to what I say. It's a nice change. Anyway, she is like "Bladder infection? I think we should check for something more..." Apparently, all the urine cultures in the world won't save you from a CatScan if they keep coming back negative. No infection anywhere. Bloodwork - negative. CatScan - negative.

I guess that's good news, since we ruled out kidney stones and tumors... yikes. It was still frustrating to be sent home without a diagnosis and a "Hope it gets better!"


This was starting to feel like an episode of "House." For real. So on Thursday I went--surprise!--BACK to the doctor. Another new person, who at least spoke to the person who saw me the day before (are you following this?!) and was super nice. She decided it must be diverticulitis, even though the CatScan said no such thing. "It's a mild case... maybe." The only way to prove the diagnosis was the get ANOTHER dose of radiation, which my ovaries aren't up for right now. I would like to use them again some day. So I took my super duper antibiotics and went on my merry way.

And I continued to drink copious amounts of Gatorade. The pain was background noise now and I was starting to get a little Google-happy... For the record, never Google anything medical. Ever.

On Friday, I saw my actual doctor--or at least, my OB--who wanted to make sure this wasn't some kind of fallout for obstetrical reasons. (Thank goodness they take c-sections seriously, at least.) It wasn't. Which was good.

Instead, he told me all about this awesome condition called "detrusor instability" or "stress incontinence." In layman's terms, I have been so stressed out that my sympathetic nervous system thinks it's cool to squeeze my bladder. You know, just cuz it's fun. I did not know such a thing existed. It does. And it is very real. And very painful.

So now I'm taking anti-spasm medication for my bladder (because I'm ninety-freakin'-five years old or something) and it hurts less than before. Of course, every time I get stressed (often) it starts to flare up (ouch). Oh OH and the best part? I also have IBS. This, too, flares up under stress.

Hooray for my digestive system! Hooray for my urinary system! My body hates me!

I, literally, have been prescribed chill pills. When your doctor says, "Take this pill for two weeks and do some yoga" it's not cool.

And THAT, ladies and gentleman, concludes my over-sharing for the day. It also constitutes one helluva wake up call.

The First Fourth

Ellie's first Fourth of July weekend was tons of fun! It was also excruciatingly hot, but somehow we managed. She HATES humidity, so keeping her cool (and in the shade - no baby sunburns here!) was a priority.

We started the party on Friday with a beach trip to Rockport. The weather was perfect! Ellie's first encounter with the sand was interesting. We're not really sure she knew what to do with it. She kicked at it a couple of times, then tried to squeeze it in her hands. One thing is for sure - she did NOT enjoy having sand stick to her! She mostly played on the towel, took a dip in the ocean with Dad (yikes!), then fell asleep for a nice long nap.

Saturday was HOT... we spent most of the day inside playing with Penny. Mommy fueled her addiction for "Forensic Files" while Daddy washed his car.

But on Sunday, there was a little breeze. Whatever the weather, we were headed out anyway. The annual Haddad July 4th party was raging when we got there. It was hot outside and in (except for the secret AC room.... where we spent a good chunk of our time!) Ellie was decked out in her patriotic attire (including her stylin' bib from Grandma!) Lots of Great Aunties & Uncles met Ellie for the first time. It was great to see everyone!
By the time we got home Sunday, we were pretty wiped. Monday was a nice, relaxing family day to recharge the batteries. All in all, a wonderful first Fourth weekend for my little princess!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes You'll Take OK News...

A few weeks, maybe months, ago we noticed something weird about Ellie's eyes. As she tries to focus, sometimes they dart back and forth. I thought it was muscle weakness, that maybe it was straining her eyes to much to focus on something. We knew she could see and that she could follow an object across a room, so we weren't worried.

When the Early Intervention nurse mentioned it, and advised she see an eye doctor, I still wasn't worried.

When I mentioned it to our pediatrician, who called in an immediate neurology visit, I started to get a little concerned. I learned that the medical term is "nystagmus," and it can be a sign of about 40 different conditions ranging in severity. In many cases, babies lose vision because of it.

It could've been something she was going to have anyway or it could have been caused by her previous medical history, specifically some of the drugs she was on.

What else is new?

So I panicked. Researched it on the internet. Tried to stay calm for our neurology appointment. I needn't have gotten too worked up. The neurologist quickly ruled out a neurological cause. That's good, since a neuro cause would have been life-long and completely irreversible. That's the kind of damage we don't need.

In the grand tradition of neurological consults, he did get us worked up about other issues (things that may never even happen and I'm choosing to ignore until they do) but told us this one wasn't one of them. Instead, we were off to see a pediatric opthalmalogist at Mass Eye & Ear.

Fun, fun.

So yesterday, she went. Mike went, since I had to work, and it was a good thing too... because I hear that watching someone torture your child is not a good experience. (I suppose I already know that, though...don't I?) Anyway, three people poked at her eyes, subjected her to eyedrops and vision tests, talked to Mike about things we've noticed, etc.

The end diagnosis was the best possible scenario. She has congenital motor nystagmus... basically, her eyes are always going to do that. They may shake less as the muscles strengthen, but she will always have to struggle to focus. Once she finds her "null point," an angle at which her eyes can hold steady to look at something, she will be fine. She has no vision loss but she will most likely need glasses later in life. Most people with this condition wear glasses but can drive without restrictions.

At least she can see. We'll find a way to work around the rest.

As I said, sometimes you'll take OK news and it will make you happy. We still don't know what caused her condition -- it's even possible that she would have had this regardless of her birth history. It could've been something that happened in the womb, something I did or didn't do... we'll never know. But at least we know now that it will only mildly interfere with her life.

She's going to be OK.

So I'll be OK too.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Family Walk Time

Every night, we take a family walk. We strap Elissa into the stroller and Penny into her harness and we walk three big loops around the Windsor property. Three.

For those who are unfamiliar with our apartment complex, we live on a giant hill. Three loops is a LOT of uphill work.

The past couple of nights have been humid and icky. And even though we wait until the sun has started to set, it's still gross.

And yet, we keep going out and taking our walks. I guess it's partly the exercise that keeps us motivated. I mean, we both need a good amount of cardio in our lives. But mostly, it's the time spent with our little family. Penny loves it, keeping pace in front of us, as though she's the pack leader. Ellie talks to us--or Bessie Cow--the whole time. And Mommy and Daddy get to work out all kinds of plans for the future and occasionally settle a "dispute."

We may not do this forever, but I think we've started a new tradition for ourselves. Every night, we get to drop everything for an hour and just stroll. Well, ok--haul ass up a giant hill. But you know what I mean.

And I feel pretty damn good after we get home. Blending fitness with family time might be just the thing I needed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back at Work

So I've been back at work part-time for a little over a month. It was kinda like dipping my toe into the water to check the temperature. Last week, I had to dive head first back into things for a week-long program we run every June.

The Dutch were here. I love this program and the students we hosted this time were lots of fun. I ran around all crazy for them all week, even getting a DVD recording of the Netherlands vs. Cameroon World Cup match to the cocktail reception on Thursday night. (Actually, that was a BLAST! And according to the Dutch, I have now made "friends for life." Sweet!)

Now they're back in Holland and I'm back at my desk full-time. Wrapping things up, getting back into the swing of my job. It's weird to be here just as I was before I had Ellie. Mike is at home, so I'm not worried, but I definitely miss her.

Last week was particularly tough. I felt so distant, so removed from my home life. I'd come home and I'd have no idea when she ate or pooped. How long did she nap? Did she learn something new today? Was she happy or cranky?

It's hard to feel so distant from my baby after all that time I spent being obsessed with her every move. There was a time when Ellie was all my brain had room to think about. Now, I have to go on with my life, pretending to care about other stuff.

I'm sure with time that it will all balance out. Maybe one day I won't feel quite so torn in half.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Many Legs & Many Hats

Yeah, I'm still here. It's been a while, I realize... my longest blogging dry spell (from this site, anyway). I'm a bad blogging Mommy. Tsk tsk.

I suppose you could say I have a lot on my mind. And it was a crappy week. And I'm not exactly sure what to do with everything that's happening in my life right now.

Ugh. I'm confused.

I started composing this blog post in my head (I do that sometimes) about a week ago... at 1 AM when I had insomnia. I had just had unpleasant encounters with someone from work, school, and my personal life and I had a lot to mull over. So I was sitting in bed, thinking - half about my life and half about why-in-the-hell-I-was-awake-at-1-AM - and I decided to go get a notebook to get it out on paper. Sometimes that helps me get to sleep.

I went into the office to get a notebook and instead encountered one of those giant centipede things. It was all up in my diploma frame and ready to eat me alive. With a can of aerosol Pantene hairspray (yes, there's a hole in the ozone with my name on it), and one of Mike's shoes (because mine don't fight insects as a general rule), I battled it to the death.

Once victorious, I was too tired to write anything. And this blog post was shelved. Indefinitely.

So here I am, barely able to remember what I was going to say, but I think it was something about juggling. And how I have always sucked at it because of my poor coordination.

But in the days following that night, I have worn so many hats, I can't remember which hat I left all those thoughts in. And really, between the Mommy Hat, Writer Hat, Student Hat, Admin Hat, Wife Hat, Housekeeper Hat, Pet-Owner Hat, Friend Hat, Daughter Hat, and Sister Hat.... well, jeez. What was I saying?

Oh yeah. Juggling. I suck at it.

What I've learned this week is that I can't wear more than one hat at a time. If I do, I really can't concentrate well on either one. I just don't give either "hat" it's due amount of attention.

On the other hand, I can't wear any one hat for too long, because my other hats feel neglected. But now I have too many hats to have enough time to give them all the attention they need. Does that make sense?

I'm only one woman.

I only have one head.

So, I needed to vent. Here I am. Back at work, still in school, adjusting to days away from my Ellie Belly, and trying to be the supportive friend I've always been. Oh yeah, also trying to write for a career. In my alleged free time.

In case you were wondering, there's no Free Time Hat anymore.

Now, I'm not complaining. I really am looking for a solution. I can't help that I have all of these responsibilities, and I don't resent any of them. I want this to work. I do. I just don't know how to get a good hat rotation schedule.

And yeah, I need to spend more time with that Exercise Hat.

Fat chance.

But that centipede encounter did teach me something. Sometimes in our lives, we need to put our thoughts away, arm ourselves with shoes and hairspray, and beat the living daylights out of a problem. How many legs that problem has is beside the point. When it's time to step up and do something, that's all you have to concentrate on.

With a little hard work, and some forethought, maybe I can get ahead of the problem and be waiting there, shoe in hand. Finding the problems before they find me might be the only way to keep up with my life for a little while.

Monday, June 14, 2010

I'm a Cheater

Elissa slept through the night last night. In her crib. Seriously!

But I have a secret... She's getting help. No, it's not Ambien (sickos). I'm slipping a teaspoon of rice cereal into her nighttime bottle. We've been doing this for a week and it's really working!

For the first few nights, though, we had her sleeping in her bassinet in our room. I think the bassinet pisses her off, now that she is older. She likes to stretch her arms and legs out when she's sleeping (like her Daddy, I guess) and it wakes her up when she punches the sides. Understandable. She's too big.

Thankfully, the crib was ready to go! So we put her in it last night and it seemed to do the trick. She slept from 9 pm until almost 6 am. That's a full night's sleep! I guess now that she isn't hungry in the middle of the night, there's no reason to wake up.

I realize I'm not the first mom to discover this, but I thought that I should share it with the new moms who haven't yet. When her belly is full, she's happy and she can sleep. I suppose it's good for her too -- who doesn't want a good 8+ hour stretch?

Hopefully, life will get a little easier around here. Just in time for me to go back to work full time.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ellie's Friends

When I was a little girl, my "imaginary friend" was a life-size plus doll that I absolutely adored. I talked to her, played tea party with her, and brought her with me everywhere. Granted, I was a little older at the time than Ellie is now, but I can already see her growing attached to her own "friends."

Ollie Octopus - Ellie's Under the Sea playmat is her favorite place to hang out. She "talks" to her octopus for an hour every day and even reaches to touch his face. I've never heard a baby simulate conversation to this extent before -- it's impressive. And if it's any indication of things to come, we're all in trouble. There's a talkative toddler on the way!
Bessie Cow - When we were at MGH, a charity group called Project Sweet Pea delivered a tote bag filled with gifts for a baby girl. (Look them up, they're amazing!! They bring gifts to all NICU parents.) In the bag was a purple cow toy - half blanket, half plush. We brought it home and kept it in her room, all but forgotten. When our EI case manager suggested we give her a toy to self-comfort, it seemed like the perfect choice. She LOVES Bessie now. And since we've been using it, she hasn't had any crazy crying fits. Bessie always calms her down.
Piglet - Before she was born, I bought Winnie the Pooh plush ring toys. They were too adorable to pass up. As it turns out, Ellie loves to play with them before she can put her arm through the ring. She can also try to eat their faces. Her favorite one to eat is Piglet... I guess since he's the smallest and she can grab his face. Anyway, she really likes chatting with these guys too!

I suppose if you think about it, Ellie likes calamari, steak, and bacon... Huh. Still, it's nice to see her connecting language with her toys, especially since she seems to know she should talk to the animals' "faces." Isn't it amazing what instincts we're born with?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Plotting Along

In fiction, there are two types of writers. Plotters and 'Pantsters.' Plotters like to plot their novel ahead of time -- a road map to guide them on the journey from the beginning to the end. Pantsters fly by the seat of their pants -- whatever happens is usually a big surprise to them as they write along.

When I write, I like to be a pantster. I enjoy creating characters who have a goal. Then I take these characters, throw them into a mess, and see what happens. Chaos ensues. But sometimes, I stumble upon something worth keeping.

In my life, however, I like to be a plotter. I'm not sure why I strive to control the uncontrollable, but I keep doing it day in and day out. I cite my blog post about scheduling as an example. And even though Ellie's birth taught me that you can't plan these things I'm already at it again.

Oh yes. I have big plans for the course of the next five years. When will we have #2? Will it be a boy or a girl? How many children will we have? Where are we going to live? What's our plan for working and managing the house?

Most people have an idea of these things. I have an outline. As though I could sit down and script it right now.

So why can't I shut off this annoying habit that I have? Why can't I live my life like the pantster I wish I was? Why do my characters get to have a freedom I don't?

This weekend, as I was explaining to my mom the birth order of my son and second daughter, and their approximate birthdays, she stopped me. She said simply, "Maybe you should take a break from planning things for awhile."

Maybe she's right. Maybe it is that simple.

I think I'm going to give it a try.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diaper Madness

My daughter is a poop machine. I suspect that if we could harness her daily production of waste into a reliable source, we could end the energy crisis. Or at least reduce our electricity bill.

We left the hospital with TONS of freebies (that's what happens when you ask every nurse for three days to give you diapers to take home--sweet!) but those were gone within about two weeks. It works out anyway because Ellie has already moved from size 1 into size 2 diapers, so we wouldn't be using those now anyhow.

I have learned quickly how ridiculous the cost of diapers can be. I estimate that we could use the money we're going to spend on diapers in the next year to buy Ellie a used car for her first birthday. All attempts at negotiating such a deal were short-lived. The child continues to poop in her pants.

Now, at the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I found the best deal on diapers online. No, they did not pay me to say this. Most moms probably already know about it, but I was pleasantly surprised. For the moms who don't know, go to

I got a case of $41.99 diapers for about $30. Free shipping, marked down 11%, then with an extra 10% coupon for being a first-time customer. They mailed me a $5 coupon for my next order too! If you want to order from them, I can "refer" you and we both save money too. Enter my email address at checkout ( -- you get a discount and I get a coupon in my email.

Alright, I'm done. But honestly, if I wasn't resourceful I wonder how much I'd be paying for diapers every year. Plus wipes and Desitin. And since my little angel has allergies, that Aveeno stuff is necessary but much more expensive than the Johnson & Johnson alternative.

Any other suggestions on how to cut some expenses? I'll take 'em!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Head & Shoulders

Ellie's latest project is to catch up on her head control. Understandably, her neck isn't very strong. I guess when you spend about a month and a half without moving, you need some time to catch up. Especially if, technically, you've never really had to support your head before.

Details, details.

When the Early Intervention assessment team came out a few weeks ago, her head control and neck strength was her weakest point. At three months old, they rated her head control at a one-month level. Yikes. But Ellie doesn't back down from a challenge. Oh no.

By the time the EI case manager came back last week, Ellie was already making great strides. She could push up a little bit and turn her head. Her chin would drag the mat, but at least she was able to go back and forth. I said we'd keep working at it, so that's been our focus all week. Lots of mad tummy time over here. She's even got a special tummy time mat to keep her from getting angry (she gets frustrated that she can't see anything and starts screaming!) I think the mat is doing the trick!

Since last Wednesday, she's been rolling over like crazy. Once she gets onto her belly, she can push up to get a few inches off the mat now! She can actually look at you. In fact, on Friday I put her on her back on the playmat and sat down to do some work. I could see her, but I'd looked away to finish typing a thought. Ellie did not approve. She had rolled over onto her tummy, lifted up her head, and yelled once at me. Subtext: "Pay attention! Look at my cool, new trick!"

It is a cool, new trick indeed. And I'm one proud Mommy. Tomorrow is our weekly EI visit and I can't wait to see what she says when Ellie does all her new tricks!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I''ll Pencil You In...

I need a schedule. Any kind of semblance of a routine will do, actually. Making deadlines on the fly, never knowing when I'm going to eat my next meal... these are not behaviors that are conducive to a low-stress environment. And I can feel that stress affect the way I parent.

I don't want to be playing with Ellie thinking, "Man, I really need to write that article about Botox..."

Not cool.

But what the heck am I supposed to do? Parenting advice is the single most contradictory subject I have ever encountered. Speaking as a woman who researches things for the heck of it, that's saying a lot. Do I listen to "Never wake a sleeping baby" or "Don't let the baby sleep through a feeding?" Do I let her dictate the schedule or do I try to keep her on a created schedule?

All I know is that, whatever it is that we're doing here, it's not working. I'm grumpy and exhausted. And it's not that she doesn't sleep at night -- she does. In fact, that's the one area that seems to be pretty much on schedule. Bedtime is good. We rock at bedtime. So how can I make the rest of my day run smoothly?

Now, before you all say, "That's what having a baby is all about!" and I have to throw something out you, hear me out... I'm flexible. I'm all for spontaneity. I'm just wondering if I should be providing some structure to our day. I read once that babies like structure. It helps them stay calm, stress-free, all that good stuff. I'd like to give Ellie what she needs.

Unfortunately, that also means that I have to write for a living. All I'm asking is for two solid hours of work during the day... that seems reasonable, right? Two hours. That's it. But right now, since my princess cat naps all day and I get short bursts of free time, I get nothing done. And if I can't write for money, I can't pay bills.

How do I make this all work?

Ok, ok. Maybe I am asking too much. She's not even four months old. I get it. I just have this undying urge to be Super Mom--you know, have a clean house, get all my work done, vacuum in pearls, and bake a brisket. But I guess that, unless I learn how to function without sleep, that ain't gonna happen.

Stupid perfectionism...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Lots of Firsts, All At Once

The past 72 hours have been fraught with My-Angel-Is-Getting-Bigger moments... It's crazy. When people tell you this baby thing goes by quickly, they aren't kidding. I feel like it's been only a few days sometimes, then others it feels like she's always been here.

My internal clock is all sorts of confused.

Anyway, Ellie is a professional roller-over(er)? She can roll over. In fact, at one point today, she rolled over on her playmat, propped up on her elbows and yelled at me. I guess I wasn't paying enough attention to her cool new trick. She's working on rolling back the other way... we'll get there. It's a big step for a baby that's supposed to be "behind" on these things.

I'm one proud mama.

Then yesterday, as some of you may have noticed on my FB status, she put her binky back in her mouth. I wasn't home, I was working (of course). But my mother-in-law was on duty and she's pretty good at recapping play-by-plays like this. Apparently, she picked it up, hit her chin a couple of times, then got it into her mouth. The success freaked her out, it seems, because her eyes got really big and her mouth opened and... oops! Out it fell.

Again, we'll get there.

But then last night, my favorite new accomplishment occured. Ellie laughed. Not the cooing in delight thing. Not making happy, inarticulate yelling noises. A bona fide laugh. We were playing, getting ready to take her bath, just me and her. I made her laugh.

It made me cry. I can honestly tell you, no lie, that in that moment I saw everything I'd been through with her just disappear. None of it mattered anymore. All the stress evaporated. All that worrying seemed ridiculous.

My little girl is here, she's healthy, and she's happy. I'm getting teary all over again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I Hate Clothes

I'm going to complain for a minute here.

I hate clothes. I hate buying them. I hate trying them on. I hate trying to convince myself that they look nice on me.

Pants are too short, busts are too big, waists are too long. The clothes they are making now don't fit real people. Ok, so I am a bit overweight, but I should still be able to find clothes that fit.

And has anyone else noticed how cheap clothes feel now? I used to buy t-shirts at Old Navy that weren't see-through. What the heck is up with that?

Alright, alright. So the point of this blog post.... I spent far too much time this weekend trying to find clothes that looked good on me. My pants don't fit right these days because I have pudge in new places (thanks, Ellie) and I think my hips are wider. Argh. I have a constant indentation around my waist. And pants hurt sometimes.... like these work pants I'm wearing right now.

I refuse to buy new work pants.

So I tried on everything in my closet. I even bought some new stuff, which was quickly regulated to the "wear this when I'm hot" pile. Let the downward spiral of no self-esteem begin. Every item I put on made me feel worse. I'm over it now, but for a little while there I was going to just go everywhere naked.

Then I remembered my stretch marks and I put on some clothes.


These stupid size charts they use are WRONG. And they are not helping to make my body-after-baby journey a joyous one.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Sensitive Skin

Never in a million years did I imagine that Ellie's allergy to cow's milk protein would be her only sensitivity. She is my daughter, after all. And since I am allergic to everything under the sun (and possible the sun), it does not surprise me at all that we're discovering some other "allergies" as time goes by.

Huggies wipes, for example. Raging diaper rash. Remember that Dragon Baby incident over Mother's Day weekend? All because of diaper rash. A rash that went away as soon as I switched her back to Pampers Sensitive wipes. On a hunch, I picked some up at Target. Those were the ones the nurses used at MGH, so I thought it might sort that issue out.

Yup. Add that to the list.

I've also discovered that she breaks out in a little heat rash/hives-type-splotchiness when we give her a bath with Johnson & Johnson. You know, that yellow body wash that's in the background of your own bathtime photos from the 80's. The stuff that smells like baby.


We switched to Aveeno and now she's fine.

Most likely, she has a fragrance allergy, which (again) doesn't surprise me. I had a horrible experience with some body wash from the Gap once, so we know I have a fragrance allergy. So I'll have to keep an eye out for her detergent, anything I use to clean the house, and even candles that I burn in her general vicinity.... all things that I've had issues with. Delightful.

I know, I know. No one is surprised by this.

I'm sure the list will grow as Ellie does. And just wait until we start sampling foods. When I was a baby, I had a cherry allergy... so that will be fun, huh?


Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Balancing Act

I think my fiction brain is on vacation.

I won't say that it's dead, because I occasionally catch a glimpse of it. I'll be feeding Ellie and I'll think of a clever story idea. Or I'll be in the shower and I'll come up with the perfect line of dialogue for a character in my novel.

But now that I'm so busy being a mom and all that, I never remember to write these things down. They dance through my brain and right back out into the atmosphere. Some of them are gone forever.

Probably most of them.

I suppose I have to find a way to balance things in my life. Right now, when I'm not taking care of my Ellie-gator, I'm working on tasks for Bentley or writing articles. Since I don't make any money writing fiction, it has all but disappeared from my life. And I'm not happy like that. I keep trying to grab hold of it again, make the time to really get some work done. Something always gets in the way.

I know I'll find a way, but the struggle is really frustrating.

I just hope my fiction brain doesn't atrophy.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fight the Fat

Yes, it's cliched. I am trying to get my "body after baby" back in shape. But unlike the celebrities featured on US Weekly (argh), I do not have a personal trainer, thousands of dollars to throw at liposuction, or an affinity to subsist solely on lettuce for the next three months.

So I had some ice cream last night. So what?

Anyway, I've never really been "fit" to be honest. There was the one year in high school when I played volleyball. Running all those sprints whipped my ass into shape, that's the truth. But after that, I kinda fell off the wagon.

Then rolled several miles downhill.

When I got pregnant, I had just begun a weight loss plan with Mike to get us back into shape. I'd lost twelve pounds when I had to stop abruptly to, you know, feed the baby and all that... Mike went on to lose 50 pounds. I went on to find 25. At least we still achieved a net loss, right?

Anyway, I swore up and down that when the baby was born, I was getting into shape. I would fit into my high school uniform again! (If I can find it...) Putting baby weight on top of being overweight was a real strain on my tendonitis-ravaged ankles and knees. Plus, I felt like a whale. I'm sure all pregnant women feel like whales, but instead of feeling like, say, an orca, I was relating more to the blue whales of the world. My bone structure just can't take it.

But then, Ellie spent all that time in the hospital and I was subjected to two meals a day (at least) of hospital food. Yum. My mouth said yes to all those cheeseburgers. My metabolism said it was time to hibernate for winter.

And now I'm back where I started. Most of the baby weight is gone, since breastfeeding burns extra calories. But I'm not breastfeeding anymore. Still, since I'm not eating at MGH anymore, I think it's a win-win.

So on Friday I started a Wii Fit routine. I'm trying to eat better, impose a little structure to my days at home, and get moving once in a while. We're talking family walks in the afternoon, and Mike is not a friendly personal trainer. Yesterday, he made me climb the stupid giant hill in our complex twice. If you haven't seen it, it's a mountain.

I hated him for about an hour.

But the good news is that I'm feeling good. I'm actually having fun with this and I really hope that's enough to keep it going. I'll keep you posted as things progress. Fingers crossed for my first weekly weigh-in next Friday!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Just Keep Swinging

Last night was rough. Probably my roughest night so far.

Now I'll admit that my "roughest" night pales in comparison to the nights that parents experience when they bring home a real newborn, instead of a post-NICU, 9 1/2 week old infant. I didn't have to get up every two hours or anything.

But it wasn't the getting up that was the problem, it was the inconsolable screaming that threw me over the edge.

So we watched the Lost finale last night -- awesome -- and headed to bed very late for the two of us (since we're now old farts and all). Ellie had been out for about 4 hours by the time we made it into bed, and just as I was settling down, I could hear her starting to make sucking noises. Baby code for "feed me... like, now." Before she could start screaming, I jumped out of bed, heated a bottle, changed her diaper, and fed her. In my thinking, eating at 1 AM should hold her over for the rest of the night. Maybe 5 or 6 AM -- Mike's shift. Then at least I could get some sleep.

Ellie, or Dragon Baby, as she shall here-to-fore be referred, had other plans for me.

I get to bed somewhere between 1:30 and 2. At 3:55 AM, I hear the screaming. Not helpful feeding cues and sucking noises. Screaming.

How could she possibly be hungry again? But I figure, okay, I'll play along.

I do the routine. Change the poop, wipe the bum, warm the bottle... etc. Dragon Baby takes half the bottle and then starts hitting me. Baby code for "get that out of my face or I will barf all over your pjs." I catch wise and try to burp her. Pat her back? Rub her belly? No? Nothing?

I also notice that somewhere between 2 and 4 AM, she has gauged a large scratch across her left cheek, suporting my Dragon Baby theory. Seriously, when did my daughter grow talons? She has the tiniest fingernails I've ever seen. Did she crawl out of the house and encounter a dragon slaying knight? I suppose I'd be cranky and hungry too.

So we have many conversations about how screaming doesn't help me identify the problem, and a few about how self-mutilation is a bad idea...even for Dragon Babies. A few times, she stops screaming to stare at me with hatred. "Honestly, woman! How can you not know what the problem is?" At least, that's the subtext I'm reading from her expressions.

My daughter is very expressive. Actress material, I think.

Anyway, Mike swoops in. Major bedhead, squinty eyes... it is 4 AM, afterall. We bring every piece of her furniture upstairs, because we've learned that sometimes Dragon Baby just wants to sit instead of lie down.

The bouncy chair reaps limited success. We get some quiet, but then she spits the binky out after 2 minutes and screams in Mike's face. "You stupid Dad! Why would you think I want to sit here?"

She's got attitude problems, I think.

And then we try the swing.

If Dragon Baby has to swing every night in that thing until she's Dragon Teen, I will find a way to make that happen.

I got to sleep until 8 AM.