Hot

There is so much going on in the world right now that seems worthy of crying over. I mean seriously—where to even begin? But you know what reduced me to tears last night?

My kid will not eat a vegetable.

She has a new trick up her toddler sleeve. If she doesn’t like something, she will spit it out and say, “Hot!” Over the weekend, Catch was feeding her a squeeze tube of yogurt that had been frozen (to help with teething pain) and she ate a bit before she insisted, “Hot!” and wouldn’t touch it anymore. Last night at dinner, I was trying to get her to eat some (completely cooled) roasted vegetables, and every bite was “Hot!”

So after watching her spit out bite after bite of roasted veggies, I sat myself on the dog bed in the kitchen and cried my eyes out while she played with Catch in the other room.

Some days, parenting is really damn hard.

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18 Months

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Charlotte is 18 months old. Can you believe that? Where do the days go?

I have no idea how tall she is except to say she’s tall. As tall (if not taller) than the 2 year olds on the playground.

As for weight, she is strong and healthy! We’ll get stats at the doctor in a few weeks.

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The most frustrating thing at the moment is her eating. She is so picky. It’s maddening. Her diet right now pretty much consists of pancakes, oatmeal, pasta, dairy, fruit and the occasional bit of chicken. She will not eat a potato in any form. She will gladly suck the ketchup off of a French fry, but that’s as far as it goes. Don’t even bother to show her anything egg-based. Not gonna happen. I have no idea what to do with this.

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Physically, she is all-go-no-slow. She would run and climb and swing all day if we let her. Outside is her happy place. I’ve said it before, but if I had to describe this kid in three words, they would be rough and tumble.

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She has recently discovered the joy of piggy back rides. I pity the person who bends down anywhere in her vicinity, because she will be climbing up on their back before they know it. My mom bent down Monday morning to pick up a stick of chalk and in the blink of an eye, Charlotte had grabbed hold of her shoulders and was demanding, “Whee!”

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She’s had a language explosion the last few weeks. At the beginning of January she had about 25 words, but at this point I’ve lost count. She’s adding new words constantly. My favorite part of this development is the singing. She knows about 1 line from several songs, now. If you sing “Twinkle twinkle little star,” she will sing, “Up above the world so high.” (OK, honestly, it sounds like UPPABUBDA mumble mumble.)” If you sing, “Old MacDonald had a farm” she will sing, “E-I-E-I-O.” I can’t believe I’m admitting to this publicly, but the newest song is “Let it Go” from Frozen. She’s been walking around the house for three days singing, “Let it go!” It’s absolutely adorable if you can get past the part about my 18 month old being addicted to Frozen. I’m not sure that I’ve been able to get past it yet, but I sure was grateful for Frozen this weekend when we had days on end of non-stop rain compounded by major teething misery, roof leaks, and the beginning of the flu for me. She likes to create her own mash ups of songs too, so you’ll often hear a round of, “Row row row let it go E-I-E-I-O!”

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She has become a wild thing in the bathtub. For a long time we worried that she wasn’t going to like the water because she really wasn’t a fan of bath time. Now she comes running the minute she hears the water running and pitches an absolute fit when it’s time to get out—even if she’s shivering.

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Unfortunately, swim classes haven’t gone nearly as well as bath time. We started lessons again 2 weeks ago thinking that she’d be all over it given the recent developments in the tub. Not so much. We’re going to stick with it for this round, but I think we might try a different swim school after this set of classes is over.

She loves her dogs. Hang around long enough, and you are bound to hear, “Hi dog!” or “Nice dog!” She will call for them, too. “Do-og!” The dogs are a bit less sure of their love for her. They’ve made great strides, but she can be a bit much for our senior hounds. We have to be very careful. That said, I am much less concerned with them hurting her than I am with her hurting them.

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She has some sensory issues with clothing. It’s bizarre, but she HATES anything fluffy or fuzzy. For Christmas she got a little zip up hoodie that has some minky/faux fur-ish stuff on the front two panels and she FREAKS out the minute she sees it. The same with a fuzzy pink sweater. The other day, my lap was covered by a fuzzy blanket and she threw herself onto the floor screaming because she wanted to sit in my lap, but the blanket had to go. For now, we’re just sort of keeping an eye on it.

She is learning her animal sounds. Sometimes she gets it right, sometimes she doesn’t. I’ve been trying to get her on video because I want a record of how cute it is when we run through the animals and their sounds, but she’s not having it. I need to be a bit stealthier, I guess.

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She shocked the hell out of me the other day when I drew a heart on her chalkboard and she pointed at it and said, “Heart!” My mom was there with me and we both did a double take. I drew another one and she did it again. I asked the nanny and she was just as surprised as we were. We think she picked it up from a flash card—we’re just surprised at how well it stuck!

Sleep is still a huge challenge. I was feeling pretty “at peace” with the status quo until I got sick. Now I’m realizing that this just isn’t healthy for me and it’s probably time to draw a line. I’m still mulling that over. Even if we can’t get her sleeping straight through the night, we at least need to get to a point where she’s willing to let Catch in on some of the nighttime fun. I think this flu is my body’s way of saying enough.

Overall, 18 months is just pure joy. She is a little person, now, with opinions all her own. It’s fascinating to watch as she discovers her voice. (Am I the only one who has to stifle the occasional laugh at the toddler meltdowns? SO MUCH DRAMA–I just can’t keep a straight face sometimes.)

 

Photo A Day Project: Days 20-26

I decided to try to take a photo a day with my DSLR for 100 days. Here’s this week’s batch!

I’m not doing any editing this week. These are straight from the camera. I just don’t have it in me!

Day 20/January 20: Oma & Opa were in town and Catch was working a school dance. I didn’t think to pick up my camera until I was getting ready for bed. Twix was not thrilled to be my subject of last resort.

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Day 21/January 21: I left the poop emoji pillow on Catch’s nightstand for her to find. She said, “Are you trying to tell me I’m shit?” “What? NO! I thought it was funny–because it feels like our days revolve around poop!” And here, in bed with Catch on a Saturday morning, are the poop offenders.

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Day 22/January 22: It rained. And rained. And rained. The roof leaked. We played in the puddles, anyway. Then we watched Frozen. She sings, “Let it Go” now. We created a monster.

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Day 23/January 23: Mama is officially sick. Maybe playing in the rain was a bad idea. Charlotte doesn’t care. She’s learning her animal sounds on the magnet/chalkboard mama made from an oil drip pan and a bottle of chalkboard spray paint. “What does the sheep say?” “Moo!”

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Day 24/January 24: Playing peek-a-boo with her mama.

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Day 25/January 25: A very sick mama. “How about if I turn the camera on and put it in your hands and you can just take one picture?” “I think maybe these are exceptional circumstances. You take the picture today.”

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Day 26/January 26: I bundled myself up and ventured outside with my girls for some fresh air. Catch shoved the cozy coupe. It flew across the yard and Charlotte thought it was the funniest thing she’s ever seen.

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Previous Photo A Day Posts:

Photo A Day Project: Days 13-19

Photo A Day Project: Days 6-12

Photo A Day Project: Days 1-5

The Sickest 

I rarely get sick. Truly. I got a cold before Christmas and I figured that my body probably got its required sickness out of the way for a few more years. That’s how infrequently I get sick. 

And then Sunday rolled around, and I started feeling weird. My hair hurt. Can hair even hurt? 

I went to bed Sunday night and spent hours curled into the fetal position shivering uncontrollably. I knew then it was the flu. BUT I GOT A FLU SHOT!!! Sigh. 

It was all reasonably manageable, though. Until it wasn’t. 

Yesterday morning Catch left for work at her usual ungodly hour. I heard Charlotte wake up about an hour later and when I tried to get out of bed, I knew it was bad. I honestly don’t know how I managed to get her out of her crib and turn on Sesame Street. I was sitting on the couch with her in my lap and I couldn’t hold my head up. Somehow she slid out of my lap and landed in a sobbing heap on the floor and I couldn’t do anything. I could not be a parent. I was afraid I was going to pass out. I knew I shouldn’t be alone with my little one. Thank god my phone was next to me. I had just enough in me to call my mom. Barely. 

My mom arrived and literally pulled Charlotte off of me. She screamed and clawed at me. She was scared. I’ve never seen that look on her face before. I collapsed back into bed and all I could hear was her screaming “Mama! Mama!” It hurt my heart. 

Once Charlotte was settled and the nanny arrived, my mom tried to get some fluids into me. I could barely lift my head to drink. She left after a while with instructions to call her if I needed her. 

Catch texted me. I couldn’t respond. 

The nanny texted me. I couldn’t respond. 

By noon, I knew I needed a doctor but I couldn’t pick up my phone. I was actually scared. I did finally manage to text a few barely coherent words to my mom, who came back immediately. 

That’s how I ended up at urgent care hooked up to an IV of fluids. They also gave me a nice strong dose of ibuprofen and Zofran. 


I never took Zofran while pregnant but holy shit that stuff is amazing. I had a good conversation with the doctor about it. I told him that I’m breastfeeding and I wanted to be sure it’s safe. He returned after looking it up and said basically there’s not enough information and he would prefer not to give it to me unless I was willing to make alternate feeding arrangements for my baby. I told him that my “baby” is 18 months old and I don’t have the strength to fight her over weaning when I’m this sick. He actually lit up. He said “Oh, she’s 18 months? We give Zofran to babies 18 months. It’ll be fine. If it were my wife and my child, I’d feel very comfortable.” So that’s how it was decided that I’d go ahead and take the Zofran. 

Anyway, I woke up this morning feeling so much better than yesterday. I’m still sick, but I can function.  Hopefully I can go back to work tomorrow. 

The one highlight to these past few days has been listening to my little girl play all day. I’ve been pretending to leave for work and then sneaking into my bedroom and hiding out in here all day while she hangs out with the nanny. Our den is adjacent to our bedroom and I can hear her in there singing and playing throughout the day. It’s adorable. 

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been this week. Hoping to get back to normal soon!

Photo A Day Project: Days 13-19

I decided to try to take a photo a day with my DSLR for 100 days. Here’s this week’s batch!

I wasn’t going to post this today. It’s a dark day for my country, and I am overflowing with rage and sadness and a fierce need for… something. I don’t know what yet. Just something.

So I wasn’t going to post these happy pictures because it feels like this day–inauguration day–does not deserve them.

But then I thought, NO. Because if I let them take my happy, I am letting them have a piece of me that they aren’t worthy of having.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

So today, in honor of this dark day, I am sharing these 7 pieces of my happiness with you with the simple reminder that the place we call home is always worth fighting for.

Day 13/January 13: Walking in mama’s shoes.

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Day 14/January 14: She wants to be a mermaid when she grows up.100days-jan14

Day 15/January 15: We’re painting and the house was total chaos. The TV was temporarily set up in the living room so Catch could watch the Packers win. It was a nailbiter. Charlotte is just happy that mama finally stopped yelling.100days-jan15

Day 16/January 16: She hasn’t figured out how to work her cozy coupe since we took out the floor board. She can push herself backward a few feet, but that’s it.

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Day 17/January 17: She will climb into the glider in her room now and demand, “Rah a bye.” We sit on the floor in front of her and rock the chair while singing “Rock a bye baby.” She sings it back to us.
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Day 18/January 18: Oma and Opa are visiting and the evening was a whirlwind. We put Charlotte to bed and I realized I never took a picture! I was so mad at myself until I remembered that this isn’t a Charlotte photo challenge–I never said that it all had to be pictures of Charlotte. So this is my sleep-deprived wife unwinding a bit before bed.It’s been a rough week with teething, and we excused ourselves to our bed at 7:30 that night. No regrets.100days-jan18

Day 19/January 19: She’s been experimenting in the tub lately. She will lean back into the water as far as she can until she realizes her head is going to go under the water. I’ve started draining most of the water out toward the end of her bath, and she lies back like she’s relaxing at the end of a long day. 100days-jan19

Sleep(less)

I didn’t write about it for fear of jinxing things, but right around the holidays Charlotte’s sleep suddenly improved. She slept through the night on two separate occasions, and on a normal night she was only waking once—sometimes twice. Those of you with babies who sleep well probably think that still sounds awful, but remember—I was getting up with her 3-4 times a night prior to that (and 5-6 times prior to that!). 1-2 wake ups was heaven for me.

I started to notice some changes in myself. I was less anxious. Less uptight. It was easier for me to let things go. The holidays were enjoyable even though we spent them running around from point a to point b. Normally that alone would have had me on edge. But I wasn’t. I was having fun.

I don’t have to tell you that the first 9 months of Charlotte’s life were exceptionally hard for me. Mentally, I was a wreck. I should have sought medical help, but I was in denial.

I also had a baby who despite our best efforts often wouldn’t sleep longer than 45-60 minutes at a time for a very long time. The most common reaction I get when I mention that is, “Wow—you must have been so tired.”

Yes. I was. We were. But for me, the side effects of extended sleep deprivation didn’t end with exhaustion.

Sleep deprivation intensified the postpartum issues I was experiencing. My anxiety was through the roof. It was like anxiety and depression were fighting for the little space left in my brain. Sleep deprivation took a situation that would have been difficult all on its own and made it downright impossible.

I mention this now because Charlotte hasn’t really slept since Thursday night. That’s four nights of bad sleep that’s getting progressively worse each night. Last night, I was up with her somewhere between 6-8 times—I honestly lost count. This morning, Catch hugged me goodbye and I started to cry.

In that moment, I felt desperate. Hopeless. Anxious.

What are we going to do? I can’t live like this. Is she ever going to sleep again? Is it really just the teething or is this a bigger problem? How am I going to get through the day? Is this my fault? Do I need to wean her? What did we do to deserve this? Why did we do this to ourselves?

That’s four nights of reasonably severe sleep deprivation talking—nights where I get about an hour of sleep and then I’m up for 20-30 mins. Then down for maybe an hour and up again. Four NIGHTS. And yet there I was at Christmas time in 2015—a period of time that stands out as being exceptionally low—and I’d been dealing with Charlotte’s sleep problems for five MONTHS. Then six months. Then seven… you get the picture.

In hindsight, I can look back and say it’s no wonder.

Now that I’m awake and caffeinated, it’s much easier for me to have a bit of perspective over this latest round of sleep trouble. I know it’s not going to last forever. I know she’s hurting and she just wants comfort. I felt that lump under her gums this morning and shuddered. It sucks (for all of us) but it will pass.

I know it’s probably going to be a challenge to keep my shit together over the next several days. (And my in laws arrive this afternoon for a 4-5 day visit, so…) I’m hoping that this revelation about sleep and my mental health will help me cope.

What would well-rested Molly do?

I think I need to make that my mantra until we all start sleeping again.

Paint

Remember how I said we were going to paint our ugly yellow den this weekend? Well, the universe heard us and decided that wasn’t enough of a challenge and that Charlotte’s most recent round of teething should be kicked up about a dozen notches.

In short: The weekend was hell.

One of Charlotte’s lower canines is coming in. Right now—and I’m not exaggerating—that tooth is a lump under her gums that is as big as her other teeth. It just won’t break through. I cringe when I see it.

All signs point to it being as painful as it looks. Our little girl has been miserable. She spent the weekend either clinging to me or screaming because she couldn’t cling to me. We tried everything. She only had eyes for me.

On a normal weekend, I could have handled that much more gracefully than I did this time. But we were supposed to be painting. We’d even arranged for my parents to come over after nap time all weekend so that they could watch her while we worked on the den. Unfortunately, she kicked and screamed and freaked the hell out anytime I wasn’t available to her. Including during her swim class, which we ended up leaving early.

She also stopped sleeping. I was lucky if I could get her to stay down for an hour at a time at night. All weekend. And it was a 3-day weekend. Which is great when you’ve been working your ass off all day painting a room (and parenting a toddler) and you’re drop dead exhausted to begin with.

I am tired. So tired. The only time I didn’t have a cranky toddler attached to me all weekend was spent painting.

But the room is painted and I wish I had some adequate before/after pictures, because I’d love to be sitting here staring at them today while I try to stay awake at work. All I can say is that the yellow is gone, and suddenly I find myself wanting to sit in there. It’s amazing the difference some paint can make! (We even painted the ceiling!)

Before:

Yellow. So much yellow. Goodbye forever. 


Getting started:


Really lousy primer:


Trim. Ugh. 


Before bed last night:


Photo A Day Project: Days 6-12

I decided to try to take a photo a day with my DSLR for 100 days. Here’s this week’s batch!

Day 6/January 6: We walk the dogs after work every day. Charlotte likes to play a game in this particular driveway. She runs to the garage door and says, “Ready? Ready?” until you say, “Go!” and then she runs to you. Alternately, you can count, “1… 2… 3… GO!”

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Day 7/January 7: In between rain showers, we had some outside time. She’s a goofball.

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Day 8/January 8:  Two pictures today because I just couldn’t decide. We made bean dip that Charlotte ate with enthusiasm. The Packers won. We celebrated with a run around the back yard.

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Day 9/January 9: We bought her a bubble blower at Disneyland to try to occupy her while we waited in line. It’s taken her a couple of weeks to warm up to it, but now she stands near it and demands, “Bubble. Bubble!” It (badly) plays music from the Little Mermaid. Fun.

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Day 10/January 10: My dad came by for an unexpected visit one evening. Charlotte saw his car pull in and ran to the window with the biggest smile on her face. She loves her WayJoe.

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Day 11/January 11: Sneaking through the doggie door while I’m trying to prepare her breakfast is her favorite right now.  (Please ignore our peeling back door. Previous owners used the wrong kind of paint. We’ll re-paint it someday. Sigh.)100days-jan11-2

Bonus from Day 11: Giving mama a high five after wiping her own face with her napkin like a big girl. This was the night she said, “Thank you” for the first time!

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Day 12/January 12: I probably shouldn’t admit to this, but this kid is addicted to looking at pictures on our iPhones. Especially pictures of herself. She will pick up a phone and bring it to us demanding, “Baby! Baby!”

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Notes this week: I’ve been having a lot of fun with this. I love having these snapshots of our daily life. I especially love being forced to choose just one moment (okay–sometimes two). One of the things I struggle most with when it comes to photography is narrowing it down. I keep waaaaaay too many photos and then they just sit there taking up space. This is a great way to force myself to pick what’s most important.

Previous Post:

Days 1-5

 

End of Watch

Funerals. They are a part of life.

I can remember a time when I had never been to one before. Then, the summer before our sophomore year of high school, my sweet friend Brandi was taken very suddenly by cancer. To this day—20 years later—I can still remember the last time we were together. We were sitting on the floor in my bedroom with another friend listening to the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Our friend said, “We really need to hang out like this more often.” Brandi replied, “We’re here now, and that’s what matters.”

It sounded so strange to me at the time. I remember wondering if she wasn’t enjoying our company after all. Did she not want to hang out with us again?

A week later, her mom called me from the hospital. Brandi didn’t have much time. We should come say goodbye. I bought sunflowers to take to the hospital, but Brandi died before I got there. She was fifteen. That was my first close experience with death.

I think often of what she said that last day we were together. Wise beyond her years.

Yesterday, I woke up and dressed with a bit more care than usual. Black pants. Black sweater. Black heels. Makeup.

I drove to the cemetery in pouring rain, parked, and walked alone from my car—huddled beneath my umbrella—along a path that had turned into a creek. I felt the water seep into my black pumps. My pants were being pulled from my waist with the weight of the water they’d absorbed. I gripped my waistband with my free hand.

Have you ever been to a funeral for a police officer before? This was a first for me. When I arrived at the lobby of the huge hall, I felt like an outsider in a sea of crisp blue uniforms. I found a seat and waited for the service to begin.

After a few minutes, someone called my name from behind. I turned around and looked gratefully into the eyes of my wife. She left work to hold my hand. My heart swelled.

I spent the next 90 minutes buried in the arm of my wife. We listened to stories of the life of a young woman. A young officer. A young wife.

I counted my blessings. Over and over again.

We’re here now, and that’s what matters.

I held my composure fairly well until the End of Watch Broadcast and gun salute.

It was beautiful to watch the LAPD community come together to honor this young woman. Catch and I did a double take when we realized the man we were staring at was, in fact, Charlie Beck—Chief of the LAPD. We watched as he handed the folded flag to the officer’s wife.

After the service, Catch and I had lunch together in our old neighborhood at our favorite Mexican restaurant—close to the cemetery. We drank a margarita and toasted the life of an outstanding woman gone far, far too soon.

We followed each other home, pulled into our driveway, and stood at our front window to watch our little girl as she realized we were there and came running to us. I silently sent out my gratitude to the universe for that moment—and for every moment that follows.

We’re here now, and that’s what matters.

Perspective

I have always made an effort to be a reasonably informed citizen of my country. I may not know the ins and outs of all things political at all times, but I pay enough attention to things to have a broad understanding of the issues that I consider to be most important (civil rights, economics, and the environment).

I’m ashamed to admit that ever since the election, that’s changed.

I stopped listening to NPR. (Coincidentally, my Public Radio Nerd travel mug’s lid also got stuck so badly that I can’t use it—I feel like NPR is trying to punish me.) I unsubscribed from news outlets in social media. I don’t watch the news in the morning. Pretty much all I see these days are things my friends post on social media, and even then I haven’t been clicking through to read them.

It’s not that I want to live in a bubble. Not exactly. It’s more that I just haven’t found a healthy way to cope with our current political upheaval, so in the interest of my own mental health, I have withdrawn.

I hate to say it, but it’s been working for me. I’m sleeping better. The constant buzz of anxiety I was feeling has quieted some. My in laws are coming for several days next weekend and I’m not climbing the walls about their visit. The distance is helping me to gain a bit of sorely-needed perspective on things.

For further perspective, I had a long chat with my mom in the car the other day about a family friend who is visiting here from Venezuela right now. She’s close to my age and has a six year old son that she supports on her own.

If you’re not familiar with the socioeconomic status of Venezuela right now, it’s pretty horrific. Our poor sweet friend waits in line for an entire day to try to get any groceries that might be available—and sometimes by the time she reaches the front of the line, there is nothing left. She is forced to try to purchase groceries on the black market, where she will have to pay upward of $150 (that’s in US dollars) for a dozen eggs.  These people literally don’t know where their next meal is coming from.

That’s just the beginning.

Our friend is one of the “lucky” ones. She has a “good” job, making a decent living and yet she still can barely afford to feed them and keep a roof over their heads.

The government there doesn’t care. There is no end in sight. Elections are cancelled regularly and things get worse for the people month after month. She has asked if we can send her things like shampoo and allergy medication. SHAMPOO. I didn’t even realize that I took shampoo for granted.

I try to imagine raising a child in such an environment. I can’t. How privileged am I that I have never seen the inside of an empty grocery store? That I have never had to wonder if my child will have enough food this week?

That’s not to say that things in the US aren’t insane. They are. I don’t understand how there are so few people in this country with the ability to use reason to see both sides of a situation. And I REALLY don’t understand why our politicians can’t put down their bibles and vote with their brains instead. It boggles my mind.

And while there are confirmation hearings for an Attorney General who believes that my family is a threat to his very existence, well—I guess I just need to take a beat and make some space in my head for gratitude before I pick up my torch again.