Tuesday, October 24, 2006


This is what I had the pleasure of listening to while Claire was supposed to be "napping" today. Warning, she starts out pretty loud.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Seven Months

(OK, so I'm two months behind, but I have good intentions - honest!)

Wow! Seven months old! You are becoming such a big boy, Ben. This month was not nearly as busy as the last one, but we had a lot of fun.

We spent a nice weekend down at Nonno and Nonni's lake house. Saturday we went to the Louisa County Fair - you seemed fairly unimpressed, but Claire loved running around despite the heat. She pet some adorable puppies, spent a long time watching the baby ducks, and even got her face painted! Sadly, by the time we sent Daddy to get ice cream it was all gone. :(

The next day Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Brandon, Gigi, Uncle Don, and Ryan all came to the lake to see the house and spend time with us. We went out on the boat - you weren't thrilled about it at first - especially wearing your life jacket when it was already so hot, but you wound up falling asleep on the ride over to Doug and Ellen's house, and on the way back.

We had a nice dinner on the big picnic table on the deck - everyone was impressed by how much and how well you ate. Later, while Ryan and Claire fought over who would play with which toy you and Uncle Brandon hung out on the floor. He was slightly tired from driving all night from Texas, but we were awfully glad that he came! You are not, however, going to start that silly wearing-two-different-color-socks thing. Uncle Brandon is sure to grow out of that eventually.

Speaking of you eating, you have tried all of your different fruits and veggies now. You seem to like all of the fruits, and you love sweet potatoes. You prefer the orange veggies to the green ones, but you'll eat them all. You usually have oatmeal and fruit in the morning and then a fruit and a veggie at dinner time. Yum!

This month you finally mastered sitting up on your own. You still get tired and fall over after a while, but you are officially sitting up! Yet another sign that you're not such a baby anymore.

In August we headed up to the woods of Pennsylvania for your first experience at Camp Little Run. Camp Little Run is a hunting camp that is jointly owned by a group of men. Mommy's uncles are both part of that group, and for several years we've been reserving it for a weekend in the summer to try to get as much of the family as possible together. This year neither Aunt Jen and Uncle Jon, Aunt Sarah and Pete, or Uncle David could come, but your great-aunts and your great-uncles were there along with Nonno and Nonni. You met your first cousins once removed, Kelsey, Lily, and Jordyn. Lily was thrilled that Claire was old enough to play with this year, and all of them adored sitting with you and handing you new toys to explore. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was watching you sit in your Bumbo seat next to Uncle Paul's radio, and you were just dancing away to Hang on Sloopy. I guess you like oldies.

Saturday it rained almost all day, but you got to go shopping with the ladies while all of the other kids stayed home with the men. Then in the afternoon Daddy organized the great washer-toss tournament. Mommy and Uncle Barry were the only undefeated team! Hooray! As usual we had lots of good food and conversation. Even though we had to toast the marshmallows in the microwave to make s'mores.

Lying down: Montana
Seated L-R: Nonni, Jordyn, Lily, Mitchell, Kelsey, Mommy and Claire

Standing L-R: Nonno, Uncle Paul, Sherryl, Uncle Barry, Aunt Valerie, Aunt Renita, Daddy, and you

Your smile brightens every day, Ben. You have the cutest dimples, and such long, dark eyelashes. Look out, ladies! It is so much fun to watch you explore the world around you. You carefully investigate your toys, turning them over and over in your hands. Maybe you'll be a scientist when you grow up. I love watching you grow, and change - though a part of me is also sad that you are growing up. I think that happens to every mother. We can't wait for you to get older and do new things, but at the same time we want you to stay little forever.


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Tales of an Imperfect Mother

Recently I was part of a discussion about the "perfect mother", and why so many moms nowadays feel like they need to try to be perfect, which is, of course, an impossibility. Yet we feel this incredible pressure to live up to certain ideals. And so we do our best to appear "perfect" to the average observer, while typically feeling frustrated and upset about how far from perfect we really are. Heaven forbid we let anyone see that we are just as flawed as the next mom.

Why is there this constant drive to achieve the impossible? To not let anyone see our faults? Why are we so afraid of seeming lacking in any respect?

I think that some of it has to do with the fact that many mothers are also highly educated women. Some of us have made the choice to leave a career in order to stay home with our children. And so we feel like we have to prove ourselves. Some of us are working, and feel like we need to be perfect in order to make up for the time that we have to spend away from our children during the day. All of us do the best that we can. All the time feeling like that is not good enough, that we could be - should be - doing better.

So what's the solution? Is there a solution? I think it starts by admitting that we are not perfect. We do the absolute best that we can. I believe that of every mother that I know. We make mistakes, we make different choices from each other, but overall? We love our kids. We do everything that we do because we love them so much, and want only the best for them.

So here it is - out in the open. I am not perfect. Far from it. I have made mistakes. I will make more. But I love my kids more than anything else.

Some evidence:

The other day I took Ben out without any socks on. We were running late, we had to pick up Claire, and I didn't have time to search for a matching pair, because I hadn't folded the laundry yet.

Also, last week I didn't have the energy to argue with Claire so her lunch? Dora fruit snacks, a handful of goldfish, and some of the Cheerios that Ben was eating. That's nutrition at its best, folks.

And the worst? Ben was only 4 or 5 weeks old, and the cat's litter box was in desperate need of cleaning. This was when Ben was very colicky. He was fussing, and I set him down in his bouncy seat, but didn't latch him in. While I was in the next room cleaning the litter box I could hear him crying, but figured it was his usual fussiness. Then when I came back out, he was lying on the floor in front of the bouncy seat. He had wiggled himself down and off the front of the seat. I felt so guilty. But he was ok. Thank God. I felt so guilty for just assuming he was being his usual colicky self, and instead he was trying to tell me, "Hey! In here! On the floor! Pick me up, woman!"

One of the things the group I was talking with decided, is that we're lucky that our kids are too little to remember the mistakes that we have made, and will continue to make. And when they grow up? They'll probably think that we were perfect. Right? RIGHT???

So c'mon moms, and grandmas, and heck, dads, too. Confession time. Share. Make everyone feel better by telling us your slip-ups or mishaps. I know people are out there reading. Time to chime in!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Pumpkin Patch!!!!

One of the benefits of Brian's new job is that he gets all government holidays. So he had Columbus Day off. We took advantage of the day off, and the nice weather, and took Claire to the pumpkin patch. (However, this has not prevented her from asking to go to the pumpkin patch approximately 293 times over the last week.)

Yay - hay!

The kids seemed to enjoy themselves. Claire crawled through one of the tunnels that they had going under the hay bales. They got to play in the hay, and Claire helped pick out some great pumpkins. Plus, she got a free apple, and some apple cider! Woo!

Ben being silly

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Rain, rain, go away

It has been a rainy few days. It started Thursday evening, and is just now letting up. Sadly this meant that Claire's school fieldtrip to Pumpkinville had to be rescheduled for October 23rd. And if any of you know a 2 year old who is ok with "we can't go today, but we'll go in only 17 more days!" I'd love to meet that droid child. Needless to say we have had a lot of requests for the "punkin patch!" and Brian and I told her we would go together when things dry out.

It made me think back on our Halloweens since Claire had been born.

Her first Halloween I had visions of taking her to pick out a pumpkin. I was going to take adorable pictures of her surrounded by giant orange jack-o-lanterns. She would be enthusiastic, and curious. The reality? The day we had set aside for getting a pumpkin? It rained. We went to one of the many places around here that setup in the corner of a grocery store parking lot - I dashed out of the car in the rain, found the first one that looked reasonable, quickly paid, and jumped back in the car. Claire did get to enjoy feeling the mushy insides when we scooped out the pumpkin. But then Brian carved it with his college's emblem - no wide-eyed gap-toothed grin for us. However, Claire was of course, adorable.

The next year? We were in our current house, in a big neighborhood where we were virtually guaranteed lots of trick-or-treaters. Hooray! We again waited a long time to buy our pumpkin, and had to go to two nurseries before finding one with a reasonable selection. It took all of my coaxing to get Claire to go down the fun slide at the nursery. She did, however, enjoy the free hot cider. I had purchased Claire an adorable frog costume, and planned to let her walk to the nearby neighbor's homes early in the evening to visit the families we knew, and then we would man our door - handing out mini-Snickers to all of the neighborhood kids. The plan was great until I contracted a horrendous stomach virus the night before Halloween. I spent all of that day in bed, and when I wasn't in bed I suffered for it. Who knew that the smell of Snickers on your daughter's breath would make you have to run for the bathroom - or make your husband laugh far too long. Since Brian was also starting to feel sick, there was no costume, no trick-or-treating, and he simply put all of the candy in a big bowl with a sign on it asking them to only take two, and set it on the porch. Whee!

Here's to hoping things go more smoothly this year.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Indomitable Twos

Yes, that's today's word of the day. And, I think, a better fit than "terrible". At least from where I'm sitting.

In typical toddler fashion, Claire is a joy to be around provided she is not hungry or tired. So imagine the fun car ride home from pre-school everyday when she is:
a) starving
b) ready for a nap

On a typical day I try to remember a snack and a drink for her. Well, now I know well enough to keep a stash of snacks in the car - peanut butter crackers, graham crackers, and Dora snacks. As long as I remember her cup all is well. Except, of course, that she is then not hungry for lunch when we get home. And she frequently decides that she doesn't want to go home. ("no Claire's house, mommy. go this-a-way!")

Today was interesting. One of her classmates had a birthday, and so his mom brought in a star shaped balloon for each child, and attached to the end of the string was a small bag with two cans of play-doh. The whole ride home I heard "pay-doh, Mommy. Open pay-doh. Wanna pay-doh, Mommy." She was surprisingly unphased by being told she needed to wait until we were home. Then we pull into the garage, and I open her car door. "no inside, Mommy. Stay here." So I told her she could stay in the car, but as soon as I started to close the door, the tears began. "No stay, Mommy! Inside, INSIDE!" Well alright then. I get her out, and she can't decide whether I should carry the ballon, or she should. We finally settle on me carrying the play-doh bag while she held onto the string. We walked past the snack bins (mental note: don't buy clear plastic bins unless you want a request for "Dora Boots snacks" every time you're in the garage). "Mommy, want Dora snacks. Dora Boots snacks." To which I replied that I would get her some, but she had to eat lunch first. "No munch, Mommy. Dora Boots snacks. Pay-doh, Mommy." After about five minutes of tears, reasoning, and one threat that it was naptime I managed to convince her to tell me she would be willing to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. So I free the play-doh, open the tubs, "help" her take the play-doh out of the containers ("help, Mommy. NO Mommy, I do it!! Mommy - heeeeeeeeeelp!", and work on her peanut butter and jelly. Soon the play-doh is forgotten as she eats her sandwich ("Tank oo, Mommy. Tank oo, Mommy, good sammich"). Then she eats her Dora snacks while staring hypnotically at Little Bear and friends on the television. After her diaper change she heads up to bed telling me "wanna say May-men, Mommy. Star light, Mommy." - her way of telling me it is time to say her prayers, recite Star Light, Star Bright, and then climb into bed.

And now? Both children are sleeping. Ahhh, bliss.