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Yes, I put C in daycare today.  Which is somewhat shocking because I am a stay at home mom.  So let me explain.

1. C really needs to be exposed to other children.  We’ve done classes or play groups, but he usually wants to stick close to me rather than engage the other kids.  So really, C needs to be around other kids specifically when I’m not there.

2. C is very dependent on me.  Or maybe we’re co-dependent.  I don’t know and I’m not going to use this moment to analyze the Freudian nightmare I may have created.  Let’s just focus on the fact that my husband was largely absent for the first 20 months of C’s life.  So C had me.  And I had him.  And we were always together.  Maybe too much together, I don’t know.  The point is that now he does not like being away from me.  He rarely goes to anyone else and if he does it is for a short amount of time.  When he was sick, on and off these last two weeks (that is an entirely different post), he largely refused to leave my side, nay my arms.  So maybe we could both use a little away time.

3. My aunt runs the daycare I dropped him off at, so there was never a question of looking for a daycare, interviewing, etc.  She was like a second mother to me, so it was natural for C to go to her.

4. I sometimes need a break, a little alone time with my thoughts or thought, since I can’t think of anything else to do right now than write in my blog.  Literally, I’m sitting here trying to think of what to do next that might be fun and does not involve housework (although the house is clean and the laundry is done so I can’t really do that either).  I could write the Christmas thank you notes I’ve been putting off, but that’s not much fun.  I could clean out my closet, but again, that’s lacking the fun factor.

I think I’ll head outside.  I’ve done my hair and makeup, since I was actually alone in the bathroom for more than 5 minutes.  I think I’ll make the most of it and go somewhere in public.  Like the mall….Yeah! that’s it.  I’m heading to Fashion Island.  It’s outside, pretty, and public.  Woo hoo!

Here I go…right after I check my text messages from my aunt for the 14th time today.

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As all the mothers who read this blog will know, your belly is just never the same once your precious little one stretches it out.  And if you can’t relate because your belly is now the same as it was pre-pregnancy, I hate you.

So I’ll tell you about my belly.  It is not the same as it was before, although it is much improved in the last year.  I’m pretty sure, though, that my belly will never be flat again (unless of course I decided to dedicate hours every day to working out my core; that is just not going to happen).  I’m more than a little self-conscious about my stomach’s appearance, which would explain my heavy investment in Spanx.  My favorite is the higher power line, in case you were wondering.  (They make maternity Spanx, though I’m not sure why you would want to wear them.)

Anyways, I worry about my belly, I obsess a little about it, I do my best to conceal it, as most of us do.

All of my efforts are for naught though, given my son’s current obsession with bellies.  That’s right, C’s current obsessive phase is with the human body, particularly the belly.  This means that when it’s nap time or bed time, C usually lifts the hem of my shirt to reveal my non-flat, very white, heavily stretch-marked belly and gently pats it.  (Odd or affectionate? Hmmm…affectionate with me, odd when he starts trying to examine other people’s bellies, which has happened.)

The first few times this happened I was self-conscious.  My poor belly was exposed!  And it did not look its best.  So I would gently remove C’s hand, pull my shirt down over my tummy, and try not to think about my former two-pack in high-school.  Sigh…

Yet C is persistent.  For whatever reason, rubbing my mommy tummy made him happy.  If I tried to stop him, C just got upset.  He was insistent that he snuggle next to me and rub tiny strokes across my belly button!  Why this makes him so content, I don’t know, but it does.  Meanwhile, nothing about my white flabby belly sticking out of the bottom of my t-shirt looked attractive.  Nothing!  It didn’t matter though, it made him happy to do it, so I let him.

I was initially hoping this was a phase, some kind of momentary obsession to emerge and pass.  In his infancy, one of the only ways I could get C to calm down was to undress him down to just his diapers, strip myself down to just my intimates, and hold him, skin to skin.  There was something magical about that direct skin contact that soothed him.  It didn’t last long though, fading with time, as I was sure this would too.

But as days and weeks went by, C continued to love on my belly.

I knew that no matter how flabby, how white, how covered in stretch marks, C just loves my tummy.

Or I should say, he just loves me.

And there’s something more than a little liberating in that thought.

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As a first time mother (yes, I realize my son is nearly two now, but this still counts as the first time), I read a lot of information on the internet about child-rearing and what-not.  These days I typically avoid the group boards or forums as most of them are, in my opinion, a forum for every extreme person to air their extreme opinions.  There are occasionally nuggets of good information buried beneath hysteria and outrage, but you really have to have a fair amount of patience to get to it.  I do not have this type of patience anymore, other types of patience (like the patience to pick up the all the fridge magnets off the floor for the 14th time in one day) I have plenty of.

Occasionally I have an issue that I can’t ask all the reasonable people I know about, due to its obscurity or sometimes my embarrassment, and I am forced to turn to the internet for answers.  Usually I try to scan all the opinions for the pertinent information, reading just enough to find out what I need.  Unfortunately, reading “just enough” also means I actually have to read some pretty stupid stuff.  That’s right, I said stupid, and I meant it.

This leads to my pet peeves:

If you have some extreme opinion and you are vehemently disagreeing with someone on a message board, I would assume you would like to be taken seriously.  SO WHEN YOU WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY.  You are doing the equivalent of screaming.  I’m going to skip your post.

If you are telling someone to do something, please do not address me as U, as in “its so much better for the lo if u only feed him strained beets with a turkey baster” (also notice the other grammatical error and the use of obscure slang—“lo” means “little one”).  I am definitely going to discount your opinion if YOU can’t take the time to type out a couple extra letters.

If you use extreme hyperbole in your post, some unfortunate person is going to take you seriously, so please don’t do this.  Writing a post explaining that feeding your infant formula is the equivalent of feeding her a combination of heroin and rat poison is going to scare the crap out of someone.  Most intelligent people will choose to ignore you, but someone out there is going to take you seriously, buying into your post of fear, and will instead not feed their child rather than risk giving them rat poison.  Not cool.

Ok, rant over.

For all of my grammar loving, intelligent friends and readers here is a post from Hyperbole and a Half that is genius: The Alot.

If you think this is funny, you’ll totally be excited to find out my lovely and funny little sister gave me a t-shirt for Christmas that says “I love this Alot” and shows a girl hugging her friendly Alot monster.  yay!  Be jealous.  It’s rad.

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As reported, my son has been driving me crazy and obviously needs some different kind of stimulation than what I have been providing.

I think the piles of books on the floor clearly make this point for me.

So…in order to maintain my sanity I’ve been doing some brainstorming, followed by research.  For several days I’ve been wracking my brain about what activities my boys likes best.  Frankly, I’ve been obsessing about every toy he’s ever played with for more than 5 minutes, every activity he’s ever willingly engaged in, every tiny hint he might be interested in something that stimulates his little mind.

And here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. The “rollercoaster” table.

good times

C played with a table/activity center similar to this at the bookstore, the doctor’s office, and, most recently, the children’s library.  It was this last incident (and yes, I said incident on purpose) that really hammered home for me how much C loves these darn things.

**Let me recount for you what happened: We went to the library in the hopes of seeing a puppet show, which later scared the crap out of C, but we had some time to kill before that happened.  I thought hanging out in the children’s department might be a good idea.  C could flip through the board books, maybe play with the other kids.  Instead, he saw the rollercoaster activity table and made a bee-line for it.  He spent about half an hour pushing the beads up and down the wires, apparently never tiring of the repetitive motions.  When I had to tear him away for the puppet show, he quite literally freaked out! Screaming at the top of his lungs, C threw himself around in my arms as I tried to leave the children’s department in a dignified manner.

My dignity may have remained in tact had we not returned there after fleeing the evil puppet show.  But brilliantly thinking that the rollercoaster would definitely cheer my son up, I failed to take into consideration how difficult it would be to pry him away from it a second time.  And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to wait until C tired of the table since he delivered a very large stinky diaper that need immediate attention.  I was forced to pull him away from the table and yet again, was subjected to piercing screams and full tantrum mode.  I think my dignity is still there on the floor of the children’s department, right next to the puddle of my hopes that C would spend many happy afternoons there.  Alas…**

Needless to say, it was pretty clear to me that C would love to have a table of his own.  So I got one.

No it’s not his birthday and Christmas is still months away.  Let’s just call it a birthday gift to myself.

2. The play kitchen.

A solution to cabinet emptying? we'll see.

My thoughts on this are that C really (I means REALLY) seems to enjoy emptying shelves and cabinets, so maybe he would like to do this in his own pretend kitchen (rather than in Mommy’s real one).

I’m thinking of getting this as C’s early Christmas present.  If this year is anything like last year, he’ll enjoy the paper and boxes more than the gifts.  Truthfully, he probably won’t even know it’s a special day other than the fact that there are a lot of boxes wrapped in paper he’s allowed to rip and shred to his heart’s delight.  So if he gets his play kitchen a little early, no one will know but us.  And I can trust you with this, right?

3. The workbench.

To focus the banging on to hammers and nails

C seems to have a lot of frustration and aggression due to his inability to communicate and control his own environment (or at least that’s what the books say).  Unfortunately this means C has been throwing things and banging his little hands on whatever he’s near.  My thinking here is that maybe he can take some of his frustration out with the little toy hammer and the little toy “nails”.  If not, the whole thing only cost me about $10 and he has plenty of cousins who, I’m pretty sure, would be glad to take it off his hands.

We’ll see if these news toys help to take the edge off C’s terribleness (some time at the park and at the baby gym should help too).

The rollercoaster table arrived today and I don’t know who was more excited, me or C.  But I know this for certain, my boy happily played with it for about 20 minutes without a hint of frustration and I saw some of my happy baby boy peeking out from behind his “terrible” toddler faces.

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Let me begin by saying that in my attempts to do some quick research to support my personal info on the “terrible twos” that apparently the established medical community doesn’t like this term and considers this abhorrent toddler behavior to be…normal.

Little C has fully entered into his terrible twos at just 18 months.  Our average day now includes such behavior as pulling all the books from a particular shelve, throwing toys at the dogs, and perfecting the charming “screaming while running” tantrum.

Now I’m all for C exploring his universe and learning about things like gravity and force, but not at the expense of my sanity and the dogs’ well-being.  As to the running tantrum, it’s all I can do not to fall down laughing (C gets really mad and literally starts running as fast as he can until he can’t go any farther and then turns around and runs the other direction at full speed.  All the while he is screaming and crying.  It would be sad were it not for the fact that his little wobbly run is adorable and the behavior is just so bizarre.).

To make matters worse, I’m getting a tantrum nearly every time I tell him “no”.  Not fun.  If C isn’t allowed to do one of the three things he always wants to do (dig in the dirt, watch Sesame Street on the computer, or pull things off shelves/out of cabinets)  I am the immediate recipient of ear-piercing screams and foot stomping.

It makes me so glad that I decided to devote my life to raising him.

The few somewhat legitimate websites about the terrible twos really emphasized how important it was to remember that the toddler is not being willfully rebellious or defiant, but is frustrated with the lack of control over their own life and their inability to communicate.

So I try to remind myself the my son isn’t purposefully trying to drive me insane, take a few deep breaths, and chase after him.

Until he outgrows this stage (in what? two to three years?) I’m going to try to redirect some of his energies into something more productive.

As of today, I’ve ordered a “rollercoaster” table (you know the tables with long wires twisted into shapes and curves, loaded with beads?) and I’m looking into some MyGym classes.

Any other ideas? I’m all ears!  I’m looking for classes, outdoor activities and entertaining toys if anyone out there has some suggestions.

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My prodigal husband has returned, thus my absence from blogging.

For the first time since before my son was born, I have spent five consecutive nights just hanging out with my husband.  We talk, watch shows we like or catch up on movies we missed, and generally just wallow in our happy little family, who is usually in the bed with us.

It’s been an adjustment making room in my routines to include him.

Suddenly, it’s not entirely polite to blog while watching tv and eating popsicles in bed while he lays on the his side, trying to ask me questions.  And those piles of dishes that I always leave until the morning? Strangely, they’re in the way!  What?!?

On the upside I’m no longer the only one who has to get up at 5am to let the dogs out.  There is someone else in the house who can answer the phone while I’m up to my elbows in baby’s bath water.  It’s nice to have my burden lessened.

And the big upside/downside to having my hubby home again is that Little C is so excited to see his dad, any time he comes in the room (even if we just saw him two minutes ago), C simply cannot contain himself.  This makes bed time something more of a challenge than it already is.

C and I had fallen into a comfortable pattern: we take the bottle to the big bed and I set up a row of pillows on the empty husband side, while C lays there drinking his bottle, falling asleep to my soothing back strokes.  C no longer wants to be cuddled to sleep, and demands his own space.

Now, that side of the bed is occupied!   If his dad happens to be in the bed, C would like to roll around, being silly, flopping first on daddy, then on mommy, then on Penny at the foot of the bed.  C finds this hilarious, while the rest of us silently bite back our frustration.

The solution: daddy stays away while I put C to bed by myself, in the big bed and then transfer him to the crib.

Ok, I know that’s not an actual solution, at least not in the long-term.

We’re thinking, it might be time for C to have a big boy bed of his own.  He’ll have plenty of space.  It’ll be easier for us to put him to bed since we’ll actually be on the same level (and since C hates the crib with a fiery passion).  We’ll install a bed rail, of course.  And though C is only turning 18 months, he is literally the size of a 2-3 year old, so the crib is getting tighter and a child’s bed is legitimately his size.

As with all plans like this, I’m somewhat nervous, because it seems like it would be such a good idea.  Whenever I have these “great ideas to make my life easier” moments, they really don’t go according to plan.

We’ll let you know how it goes.  Maybe I’ll get lucky.

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Despite the many trials of taking a child on vacation, I did, in fact, have a good time.

Once C adjusted to the time change, and I adapted to living out of one room, we began to find a rhythm to our days.

1. We figured out a solution to the eating situation, which largely meant me anticipating C’s needs and feeding him before the hungry whining started.  It also meant that we could never eat alone.  By the time I was finished feeding C, he was more than ready to get up and go, leaving my stomach empty and rumbling.  Having my family entertain C in shifts actually allowed me to finish a meal! Miracle! I don’t even get to do that at home (for example, I ate half of my spaghetti dinner out of the pot while putting things away after C was done).

2. Nap time=mommy time. C getting up every day between 4:30 and 7:30 meant he was ready for a nap no later than 11.  And for whatever karmic reason, each nap was two hours! I finished 4 books and 4 magazines in ten days.  No dishes, no laundry, no beds to make. Amen!

3. The pool was awesome! We visited the pool everyday after 3pm.  Why after 3, you ask? Well, I am lily white, my son is slightly less blindingly white, and the sun is both hot and strong in Hawaii.  Going in the late afternoon minimized the time we spent in the sun at its worst.  Also, for some reason, most tourists liked to be out at the pool in the middle of the day, sweating their behinds off (I don’t get it!).  So the pool was much less crowded and lounge chairs, in the shade no less, were available.

I would spend half an hour to forty-five minutes playing with C in the wonderful water and sand, until a family member would relieve me  so I could read, doze and enjoy a cocktail.  It was heavenly.

4. The iPad wasn’t actually created by Apple and Steve Jobs. It was made by God as compensation for challenging children.  Trust me on this.  Buy one and you’ll see that it is literally heaven sent. We would not have survived dinners out or long afternoons hiding from the heat without the innovations of the iPad.  we just had to prop it up on the table and C could watch his favorite movies anywhere we went.  Crisis averted!

(on a side note: I could happily go the next five years without seeing “Milo and Otis” again.  As charming as Dudley Moore’s narration is, one can only watch a dog and cat suffer obvious animal cruelty as they “frolick” through their adventure.)

Now that we’re back, life may be a little easier but it’s missing those few moments of blissful relaxation one can only find in Hawaii.

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