Thursday, July 31, 2014

Green light

Today was Theo's belated four month appointment (pushed two weeks due to travel). As usual his measurements were normal and progressing properly, but on the small side for height and weight and yet gigantic head. I believe Bumpus had these dynamics as well.

The pediatrician gave me the green light to sleep train. He said that T is physically capable of sleeping 10-12 hours and that he trained his own son at four months. He said the first two nights the baby cried for over an hour, but he's slept straight through ever since. Sounds familiar. So I guess the question is - do I have the balls?

I don't know. Tonight I let him cry at 10 pm because I was pumping and I just can't give in to his waking every three hours, especially in the evening when he's just been fed. It would be so much easier if we slept in separate rooms! I may have to get up and sleep on the couch. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this off. But I do feel slightly bolstered that the ped gave his green light. After all, T is nearly five months. I have a feeling if I worked full time in a stressful job I wouldn't put up with being woken up all night; but because I can (sort of) laze around in the mornings I let things slide that I otherwise wouldn't. 

I am definitely getting to the end of my rope with the bad sleeping, though. I am determined not to let it go a whole year like I did last's just a question of how long before I lay down the law?

Car naps

Yesterday I went to a water park in an attempt to redeem my crappy birthday. Things have changed in water park land. My friend and I only had about 2 1/2 hours to spend there; I thought on a weekday at least there would be no lines; instead we spent the entire time waiting and only went on two slides! It's because they now have this stupid "fast pass" so all of us slow passers had to wait in lines for 45 minutes for one innertube while the fast pass people got to go again and again. Well, at least I got to get in the giant chaotic wave pool with a bunch of children while I joyfully shouted above the roar of the waves, "I'm forty-two!!!" So, that was something.

Today was an odd parenting day. We met up with a friend for a play date in the morning, but I had to be back home by two to let out the house cleaner (who randomly left a bunch of toxic cleaning products in Bobby's room - good times), and I was at an utter loss as to what to do for four hours. Theo was fussy and miserable, Bobby climbing the walls. Normally on a long afternoon like that we'd play outside and watch a little TV to settle down before dinner, but it was hot as hell out and B did not want to go outside, and then there was some problem with my Roku box so there was no TV. I knew the baby had to sleep but couldn't because of all the ruckus, so I tried to get B to lie down with me - no luck. Then I made the executive decision to attempt to get B to nap in his room. I picked him up and carried him to his bed and kissed him and told him gently we are all tired so it's nap time. 

And then he started to cry. And not the usual "I wanted that toy" toddler cry I hear a thousand times a day - no. This was the saddest, most heart wrenching soft little cry, complete with rapid breathing and a quivering lip. I'd never seen him like that. It did something to me. He must have thought I was mad at him or that he'd done something bad. I knew now was not the time to be a hard ass. I immediately reversed gears - I thought, this isn't working. I scooped him and the crying baby up, strapped everyone in the car, and drove. For two hours. And they slept the whole way. 

I hate that I have trained these kids to only sleep in the car, but there it is. I still believe nap times at home during the day can be possible...but the fact is we're always out. So naps if they happen at all tend to be while driving home from some activity. I don't really know how to fix this, or if it needs to be fixed. I just know I'd never seen my little boy look so hurt and dejected and I just couldn't take it. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Keeping it real

Life is so much more pleasant when we're all on our normal schedules. I find myself longing for fall already - that feeling you get after Labor Day when everything suddenly feels settled in and cozy - vacations over, school in, work on. Of course for me the reverse is true since the end of Labor Day means the end of my work. But it also means the beginning of work on the following Labor Day's event, so there is that regenerative quality. 

Five weeks 'til D-Day. I feel on top of things, which is good. For the first time ever I got an insurance certificate for my event online rather than through a broker, and it was so easy and cheap that I can't help but be suspicious - how can it be that easy, when going through a broker was always so stressful and fraught? Is this yet another instance of the Internet improving our lives? Tonight I have to re-program the two ipad minis I bought to process credit cards at the event (that hurt but I figured it's an investment in future events; renting these devices is a fortune, too); they are currently set up on my personal gmail account; I'd rather not have random volunteers stumbling across Donor Sibling Registry emails and breast feeding pictures, thank you very much. Last year my texts were popping up on the rental IPads - it was not good! 

Feeling more zen about the breast milk during my event issue; I mean, why not throw some formula his way if the pumped breast milk runs out? The whole idea freaks me out. Have I been overtaken by the hippies? I think I've been overtaken by the hippies.

A friend of mine found this amazing hike in the San Gabriels that involves a swimming hole and rocks to dive off of - heaven! I did a little research into the area and found something that made my heart sing - 1930's cabins on federal land, some for sale. It's long been a dream of mine to have an off-the-grid cabin somewhere to go and pretend to be Laura Ingalls; but I'm completely priced out of places like Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear. And I really do want a real old log cabin. They are priced so well in this area that this could be a reality someday - a few years? I plan on getting the boys into scouting so we could all go up there and be pioneers from time to time. If I was looking for a way to keep these kids real, this might just be it. Awesome.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Sleep regression

I just read a post on one of my Facebook mommy boards from someone going through a similar situation to mine - the dreaded four month sleep regression, and caring for a toddler at the same time. I didn't realize how bad this period in a baby's sleep life is; had I known I would have never planned that trip, for sure!

My desultory attempts at sleep training have had desultory results. The two things I have been successful at have been a) getting T down at 6:30 even if it means lying down with him for a while - re-entry after our trip kind of screwed everything up, and b) getting him to take a paci rather than a boobie when he wakes at 9 PM and go back to sleep for three more hours.

However, after that it's kind of a mess. He's been waking at 3 AM and pretty much been up for the day for ages now - just rolling and chatting and whining and crying; I had been going out to the living room and just sleeping on the couch, but last night he sounded so pitiful I just lost my resolve and instead fed him and co-slept with him instead. Last night this worked out well, but it doesn't always. If only co-sleeping was the answer, but it's not. Sometimes it makes everything worse. 

I am so afraid of being sleep-deprived and un-focused at my event. It's still five weeks away so there is some hope, but...I have to say, I'm scared. I am also scared of not having enough breast milk, and apart from introducing formula, I'm not sure what to do about it. Being the last month before the event, there are a million things I need to get sitters for - I have ten sitter-events in the next five weeks, double my usual amount - and even though I have now upped my usual every other day pump schedule to every day, I don't think I'm going to have enough to get me through four nights. I am also experiencing the bizarre side effect of now only getting half my usual output - the last two-three nights I've only gotten a measly one ounce! I can only imagine this is stress-related, but jeez - not helping! 

When it was just Bobby at the event, my friend that was watching him during the night dances could bring him down to the ballroom for me so I could feed him - but now with a sleeping toddler in the room this is not going to be an option. And I absolutely cannot run up to the room to feed him, either. I really don't know what to do except tell the nighttime sitter to text the daytime sitter, who will be enjoying the night dances, to come get him and bring him to me for feeding in the ballroom if he's really inconsolable. The sad thing is, he shouldn't need feeding during those times, if what I'm doing now holds - and certainly not more than one bottle. 

Can I just say how glad I am I'll never have an exclusively-breastfed baby during my event again? This stuff is so anxiety-producing!

In other news, at least we had this cute moment today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why do we do these things?

Today was a "why me?" kind of day, which is especially ridiculous when my problems only involved feeling a bit overwhelmed by work, children who won't sleep, and expensive and frustrating pool repairs, yet in the last 24 hours one friend of mine has had a stroke she may not recover from, another started chemo, and a colleague who runs the largest and longest-running event similar to mine stepped down in disgust after malicious rumors started circulating about him being a Nazi. So, yeah. I actually had a pretty good day, relatively speaking. 

Still I had a moment of zen today, thinking first about being a homeowner, then about being a parent. After I had a pool repair guy back to the house for a third time today ($500 and counting) to fix the issue of the pool overflowing and wasting hundreds of gallons of water which has been ongoing on and off for years, he told me "that's pools for ya," meaning, endless repairs. I have probably sunk $20,000 into this thing in maintenance and repairs over a ten year period. Then I started thinking about the probably $100,000 I've spent over thirteen years in home improvements and maintenance of this house, not to mention an additional $100,000 squandered in home equity I now have to spend my life paying back after an ill-fated attempt at real estate investing. Which kind of brings me to the point - is it worth it? Is it worth it to be a homeowner, when I'd be a lot better off financially if I'd just lived in a rental all this time? The tax credits I've gotten over the years couldn't possibly add up to the debt I've incurred. So why do it?

Because I would never have been satisfied if I hadn't. Because I would have spent my life saving up for a down payment, sacrificed everything to make it happen. Because being in my 40s and living in some marginal 1 bedroom apartment would not have been ok with me. 

The same issue comes up about the kids, and how expensive they are, and how much better off I'd be - maybe even happier, more well rested for sure - if I were just on my own. But I never would have been satisfied with that. I just wouldn't have stopped until I had two kids. Why? Who knows? Do I regret it? Of course not, never. I love that I conjured these two beings. My bank account doesn't, but I do.

Would I rather be 42 and childless in a low-maintenance small apartment with a nice fat 401K? No. So there it is.

Still there was a moment today that gave me a real feeling of pride and satisfaction with my lot, sleepless nights and stress be damned.

Today the pool repair guy's wife, a woman who spoke little English, asked as best she could if the father of the boys had "left". I wasn't comfortable talking about this with her (mainly because of the graphic image of a bleeding Christ pulling a cross as part of their business logo on their truck), but she forced my hand, so I said no, I used a sperm donor.

I held up my beautiful second-born baby boy like a plate of cupcakes and with a big smile, said, "I made them myself!"

The quest for sleep

So last night I got completely fed up with my shitty sleep and let Theo cry it out. Occasionally we get a decent night's sleep - still woken up a lot, but at least not that I would remember it - but mostly it's Theo up just about every hour or two, mangling my nipples. It's awful and I can't take it any more. So for lack of any other kind of plan, I have taken to just letting him scream/fuss/whatever. Last night I thought it was reasonable to feed him halfway through the night at midnight  - but other than that, forget it. In the wee hours I went and slept on the couch.

He is currently screaming his head off in his crib while I watch on the baby monitor. I have been in to comfort him three times. He's just going to have to figure it out now. 

I do this with no plan, no malice, and no real sense of purpose. All I know is I am exhausted, he has nothing wrong with him, and I don't know what else to do. I am not in a position to work with him through this sleep regression or whatever-the-fuck because I have another child to care for and a mountain of work to get through.

I also would really like to establish better sleep habits before my event in six weeks. Being woken up all night and then up at the crack of dawn with a two-year-old, then enduring the intensity of the stress that goes on at my sir. That's a recipe for a disaster right there. So this child simply must start sleeping better before then. Plenty of other babies his age give their mothers good sleep at this point. Let's get with the program, kiddo.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Home again

We're home. Yesterday I woke up profoundly depressed, feeling so bummed that yet another trip to gorgeous Kauai was so awful (my last trip in 2010, my aunt died in Connecticut while I was gone, spurring my Smc plans). I also wondered if I was doing the right thing by leaving - but a quick check of the weather confirmed it; stormy and rainy yesterday, today, and Tuesday. Can you imagine not even being able to drive to a beach for three days??? Oh my God! 

So of course the flight back was torture but we survived. I suppose people have flown on their own with two + kids before...but I wouldn't recommend it. You really do have to be an octopus. It verges on the physically impossible, and reminds me again of the Jim Gaffigan joke about what it's like having four kids - "imagine you're drowning, then someone hands you a baby."

My host called as I was at the airport, having gotten wind of my departure. He said he was mortified - I would have been, too - but I think I convinced him it wasn't their fault. Sure, it would have been better had our families spent time together going to beaches. But I still would have had to contend with the stressful room situation with no baby proofing and juggling the two while trying to cook, shower, etc. And with three days of rain, ugh! 

I guess what I learned from this trip is you must travel door to door with someone who's sole purpose is to help you - either a dedicated friend, family member, or paid sitter. They need to fly with you, help haul crap, help with the kids as a group, and even take the kids entirely so you can have a moment to yourself. Otherwise it's just not worth it.

Last night I got the kids to bed and made a little dinner and watched TV for about an hour before crashing myself. It was the first second alone I'd had since last Tuesday. It was divine. I don't know how people - especially stay at home moms - handle toddlers and babies that stay up as late as they do, so there's never a moment to yourself. I would lose my mind!!! Thank God for early bedtimes, separate bedrooms, and toys. I've had a glimpse at life without them, and it is not pretty.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Done and done

We're heading home tomorrow, four days early. I called United to see what would be involved in changing my flight, and to see if there even was a flight. It's only going to cost $100 and there's a flight leaving at noon tomorrow. Done!!!

This morning I endured the torture of packing the whole room up in anticipation of being shifted to another room, with a toddler unpacking it as fast as I could pack it, then waiting around for help while he climbed the walls. Thankfully people did come to help me move all our crap to a holding room while I checked out, then I thought I'd hang around with the family with kids, but then they all started fighting so I lost it and dragged B away, kicking and screaming. Some of the (very uptight and unfriendly) older members of this group were chastising B and barking at him "big boys don't cry!" It was another awful start to the day.  I sat in the car with B still screaming, Theo wailing away as always, and the air conditioning blasting, with again no plans of any kind, and burst into tears. It was at this point that I decided it was time to go. 

Ironically, once the flights were changed and everything was settled and I decided to let go of trying to meet up with anyone, the three of us had a very pleasant day. We went to a nifty farmer's market and had a nice lunch, then drove to a lovely cove beach where we spent much of the day. It was so mellow and safe I could even let B on his own and didn't have to hover over him every second. If only I could have put Theo down for two seconds I could have gotten in the water with B and we could have had a blast playing together...but no. 

Got back to the timeshare, gathered up all my stuff and painstakingly moved it to my new room with baby on chest and toddler in tow - tons of people watched me struggling but nobody offered to help; these people suck - another hot, exhausting affair. Was reminded how glad I am I cut this puppy short and am leaving tomorrow. 

Did anyone from the group check in with me at all today? Nope. Apart from one mother/daughter combo we ran into this evening to whom I want to donate all my unopened food, I'm not even going to tell anyone I'm going. What's the point? 

Had another Rube Goldberg-esque evening of trying to get the baby to sleep while Bumpus rampaged around, then had to figure out dinner, then tooth brushing, then bathing us both, packing up for tomorrow's departure, calming the hysterical woken-up baby, then getting toddler down to bed...ugh! And it'll be another long night of hour-on-the-hour feeding for Theo, no doubt. 

I have not decided if I'm going to mention my early departure on Facebook or not. I actually really don't want my hosts to feel bad. They didn't do anything wrong; I just got in over my head. It just goes to show what a liar Facebook is; it shows awesome happy pictures like this one, making you think we're having the time of our lives. But you people know the truth. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Oh, the humanity

Ok. I think it's time to admit that this trip was a terrible idea. Now my only hope is to survive the next five days (literally - the possibility of utter disaster is around every corner); getting the slightest pleasure out of it flew out the window some time ago.

It sounded so good on paper - go to Hawaii, stay in the same timeshare with a big group of fun people with similar-aged kids, all chip in to help each other and the kids entertain each other. Right? Wrong. So, so wrong.

You know what happens when you get a bunch of toddlers and preschoolers together? They scream and fight over toys (and by "toys" I mean light switches and garbage), push each other and hit each other with sticks. So you can't leave them to play for half a second. And you certainly can't leave your four month old baby unattended, so he has to be in a carrier all the time, which he hates, so he lunges and screams and claws you with tiny razor-like fingernails all day long.

Then nobody can decide where to go or what to do so everyone just goes off on their own, which means I spent yet another miserable day alone on a beach with a baby and a toddler, trying desperately to keep the toddler from drowning while simultaneously trying to keep the baby from drowning as the toddler yanks and pulls on me so hard I am nearly always on the brink of falling into the water with the baby on my chest.  It's horrifying and exhausting. It's also hot, my back hurts like hell from the baby in the carrier, I am constantly worried that we don't have enough sunscreen on and are about to burn to a crisp, I get wicked headaches and am always thirsty or hungry but can do nothing about it because the second I take my eye off Bumpus a wave will come and sweep him away and that'll be it. 

To top it all off the stupid timeshare is making me pack up and check out of my room at 10 tomorrow morning, melting groceries and all, only to be roomless until 4 PM when I have to check into a new room. Why? Who the hell knows? Apparently several in our group have to go through this rigmarole, which according to the front desk should have been explained to us by the timeshare owners. I'm extremely pissed about this, but what can you do? Just another totally irritating and inconvenient thing to endure. 

This morning I considered taking us home today and saying the hell with it. I'm pretty sure this would cost a fortune otherwise I'd do it in a heartbeat. I have no desire to try to see if things improve - it's pretty clear that this is just how things like this go. I've said it before - one person simply cannot go on a beach vacation with a baby and a toddler unless you're at a special resort designed for your kids' age group, and you can get tons and tons of childcare. Unless you like having a screaming baby strapped to you in the hot sun while you try to prevent your two-year-old from drowning for several hours a day, then returning to your chaotic timeshare where your toddler wants to do nothing but tear the whole place apart while the baby screams on a towel on the floor and you futilely try to cook dinner while simultaneously trying to prevent the toddler from running the filthy carpet sweeper over the baby. The fact that neither of them are horribly sunburned, injured, or dead at this point is a minor miracle.

So tomorrow I will drag us to some playground I was told was good (today I dragged B away from one, kicking and screaming, because there were some mean little boys not playing very nicely with a toddler girl whose parents had left her there alone - it was awful and I didn't want Bumpus to be their next casualty). Then maybe I'll hit up the crappy Taco Bell drive thru on the way home again because it's the only way I'm going to get any kind of dinner. 

Right now I'm in our dark, a/c-less hot bedroom with the lights off and a sleeping baby and very much awake toddler who keeps slamming the mirrored closet doors open and shut even though I've asked him not to about fifteen times. How on earth am I going to force this child to sleep when he clearly doesn't want to? Should I let him out into the living room to ransack the place again just to wear him out? How do I do this?

And how the heck do I pack everything up first thing in the morning and haul us all out of here, only to be left with no room for six hours? What the hell are we going to do with ourselves all day???

Here is a picture of my awful Taco Bell dinner eaten in the car while Theo screamed and Bumpus sang tunelessly in the back seat. It was the most enjoyable moment I've had here yet.

42, anyone?

So. Much like my birthday last year was spent in Florida nauseated and in pouring rain, today was equally sucky but made slightly less sucky by kind people making an impromptu party for me.

After another crappy sleep night, I got us up and headed to the store to load up on groceries for the week (another fox/bag of grain/chicken puzzle - how the hell to get three bags of groceries, two giant water jugs, a toddler and a baby up two flights of stairs at the same time? Answer; with great difficulty).

My friend texted that his family was headed to a beach far on the north shore - almost two hours away. But by then I was looking forward to the break a long drive would give me, so I didn't mind. Unfortunately when I got there there was no parking - I mean none. So we had to drive a ways back to park in a lumpy, muddy lot, which meant the stroller was out. Then when we arrived it started pouring rain. I was about to wrap up the baby when just weighing the rain, the long walk along a highway with a toddler, the mud and misery, just didn't seem worth it. So I made the executive decision to turn around and head home, hoping we'd find another beach along the way.

We did find another beach...but like so many beaches here the wind was so strong and it was so rough that I was worried for our safety (I forgot to mention the three of us had a slightly scary encounter with the rough beach by the hotel this morning) so I had to drag poor kicking screaming Bumpus away from this one as well. I did convince him to walk into a large cave a bunch of tourists were exploring, though, which was somewhat cool.

Finally a few miles away we found a lovely beach with a big cove area that turned out to be perfect. Well, as soon as we found a part that didn't slant right down to deep water right away, which B of course stumbled into, which gave me the fun experience of watching his face panic as he tumbled backwards and then fully under water before I could lunge forward and pull him out.

There is just no safe way to be around water with a toddler and a baby. It's physically impossible.

Thank God we were able to stay in this area for some time and B had a blast playing in the sand and shallow water. Theo slept and I actually got to sit down. For my 42nd birthday all I want is to sit down. I would say all I want is to sleep more than two hours in a row, but right now that appears to be too much to ask for.

I went to my friend's place for dinner with a big group of people and they stuck a toy candle in a donut and sang to me. It was a nice way to end the day. 

So I'm glad that the day ended well, because it started off with me repeating over and over things like stop doing that and what's wrong with you and what do you want?!? and you're driving me nuts! while my inner dialogue was an endless mantra of IhatethisIhatethisIhatethis. Some days with little kids are just like that, you know?

Hopefully I will not be alone on the beach much more during this trip. It's a complete waste of time (for me, anyway). Honestly I'd rather pack us all into the car and drive around with the radio blasting over Theo's screaming and look for a drive thru Starbucks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Better in concept

While it's still fresh in my mind, and while I'm surrounded by sleeping children, I thought now would be a good time to talk about traveling solo with two small children.

In a word, it sucks.

The sad thing is it wouldn't suck quite as much if a) I wasn't so uptight and b) if I were not so heavily burdened by that thing called "hubris". It's times like these that I realize what a thin thread my sense of well-being dangles by; one set of sticky fingers or one sopping diaper and everything falls apart. My life at home is so controlled and regimented; out of my comfort zone, it's just torture. And traveling is absolutely out of your comfort zone.

I woke up at 4:30 this morning with tremendous anxiety - of the I'm-about-to-throw-up variety I haven't experienced in a long while. I honestly almost didn't come. But I managed to wrangle two sleepy children out of bed, haul all of our CRAP to the airport, get on that plane, survive a poopy toddler diaper mid-flight, and come out of it with many compliments from our neighbors on how they "didn't even know" my kids were there (yay us).

The flight was really ok. Bumpus was frustrated by the puzzles and games I'd painstakingly loaded onto the Kindle - too advanced for him, unfortunately - but he did love the one stupid one with shitty animation of cars and trucks that you touch to make "go" (I would say whoever designed that app must be a millionaire, except that it's a free app), so that entertained him sporadically. He melted down massively all during the lengthy security process. But honestly it was really ok. Juggling the two wasn't so bad while we were in flight; having my nipple mangled by one squirmy kid while trying to explain to another squirmy kid why the effing Kindle takes about 800 years to boot up isn't exactly my favorite way to spend a Wednesday, but hey.

The crappy part was hauling all the junk around in this tremendous heat and humidity. I somehow didn't factor in that our room at this timeshare (which is really just a hotel with kitchens) wouldn't be ready until four, and we landed at 11 AM. Luckily my friends were here so I went and hung out in their room - but left all my stuff baking in the car far away; I had no diapers and Theo was soaked, we were all starving and thirsty and exhausted and were way overdressed and had no sunscreen or hats or anything. So it was a frustrating afternoon of just wanting to sleep but instead trying to simulate a beach day with none of the appropriate gear. My friends slathered sunscreen on B and fed and watered us while I felt like a bit of an incompetent idiot. This self-view was only furthered when later, finally allowed to check in, I a) painstakingly hauled all of our crap up two flights of stairs with a tired toddler and a wailing baby in tow, not realizing there was an elevator just feet away, and then b) had a minor meltdown when I couldn't get into my room, having the front desk issue me new keys, only to discover I'd been trying to get into the wrong room.

Thankfully friends of my friends heard the baby screaming in the hallway and offered to play with B while I got settled in the room and got me some groceries; B hung out with them for hours while I desperately tried to nurse Theo and get him to sleep which he finally did, then these same people brought me dinner. 

This says to me that people are awesome, and that I hate having to be the person that always needs help. I take the help gladly, because I need it, and because I know it makes you feel good to be able to help someone in need. But I don't like to be "in need". I want to be the awesome super single mom, not the one who falls apart under the slightest set of unusual circumstances; the one who always needs something.

I'm not sure how the rest of this trip will go, but I'm fairly certain it will involve imposing on people and asking for favors a lot, which I would never have to do if I had a partner. Do couples who vacation with small children feel as messy and disorganized and out of control as I do right now? The sad answer is, probably yes. At least I have no illusions that anything about this trip will be romantic or "rekindle" anything.

I think if I make the kind of money I hope to make next year that it may be worthwhile to plan ahead and travel with other mothers or a nanny. Doing it alone is just too damned hard. I need someone with me from my house to the airport to the destination. I don't want to pass on all future travel for the next decade, but I don't particularly want to do it again like this, either. As always, money could provide a solution. 

Here are a couple of pictures I had the presence of mind to take while we were fooling around on the beach waiting for our room. 

Oh, and I'm 42 tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Four months

Co parenting

My sister's week-long visit ended yesterday...and my week-long trip to Kauai begins first thing tomorrow morning. At this moment I am definitely thinking...what the hell was I thinking???

The visit was great, but exhausting for all of us. Poor keyed-up Bumpus screamed and cried much of the first few nights when I put him to bed; the baby didn't do much better. My sleep deprivation is starting to enter epic proportions and it's scaring me a little. But that's a whole other post.

Let me just say it was great having an extra pair of hands - I didn't change a poopy toddler diaper nor prepare a breakfast for a whole week. Theo hardly cried (except in the car) because there was always someone to hold him. Getting in and out of the car seemed to happen at lightening speed with each of us getting one child into his carseat at the same time. These visits are my only peek into the world of having a partner - and I can easily see how one could get used to it. Still, I can see how another adult around who is not the mother can have its pitfalls. There's the ever-present "I thought you were watching him" issue; another person's needs to be aware of and met, and just the extra noise/work/excitement another human being brings to the table. Yes, co-parenting is a whole other animal, for sure.

We did do a lot of fun activities, though - even had a "date night" out with a sitter and had some great sushi (non-fish for me) followed by a fascinating movie (Boyhood). Such a nicer time when you're not pregnant and nauseated!!!

B's comprehension of/sensitivity to change in routine and surroundings is becoming more apparent. My little easy-going baby is turning into a sensitive preschooler who throws a screaming, kicking fit when you try to get him to wear new shoes, and gets super hyper when there's new people around. It makes me very worried for my week in Hawaii, and also for my event in a month. Oh well. It's going to be a bit of a roller coaster until September but once fall hits we'll have a nice, consistent routine. Until then - all bets are off!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Splishin' and a-splashin'

I can honestly say we had a blast today. It's the most fun I've seen Bumpus have in ages. We took the train downtown to a large public splash pad to meet up with a friend, and much to our delight and surprise one of B's preschool teachers was there with a visually impaired kids' group, and she took it upon herself to include him in all their games, which he loved. I love, love, love that B is so personable and loves people so much. He's completely fearless about joining groups and making friends. He has such confidence. I find that delightful.

So he and his little friend played all day in the water, and I was reminded how much better this year is than last year at this time. I took him to this splash pad a lot last summer but it was a bit of a futile exercise; at just over one, he had no attention span and was far more interested in running off, climbing stairs, playing in the (ugh) puddles leaking out of the public restrooms than actually enjoying the splash pad. Also he slipped and fell a lot and hit his head on the concrete. Aghhh! That age is so frustrating! And next summer it'll be Theo's turn!

Here are some pictures of Bumpus playing ring around the rosie. We both burned a bit but it was worth it!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Après moi, le deluge

It's that time of year again - price increase time! The early bird rate for my event expires Tuesday night. Which means about half the people try to cram in in the last couple of days. It's a heady time. And begins the only two months of the year that I actually have some money in the bank, often prompting calls from bank managers asking how they can "help" me. As soon as I tell them all of the money will be gone by mid-September they get off the phone mighty quick.

Today I took B to the Baby Kennel and spent the day doing mountains of paperwork. I'm pleased to say it is now done, and it's looking good. I might just have a record breaking year this year. How exciting! I still probably won't have much money at the end of it, but hey - my hospital bill is paid, the sewer disaster is behind me; I see brighter days ahead, financially.

One thing I may do is put B back on Kaiser. It occurred to me recently that this winter while we all suffer various plagues again, it's going to be pretty disastrous to have to take the kids to two separate urgent care centers - I mean, picture them both with high fevers and me terrified; which one do I treat first? It just seems dumb to have them registered with two separate HMOs when the only difference is about $80 a month. So I'm pretty sure once my event is over I'm going to pull out of Health Net and get back on the Kaiser system for all of us.

So this begins the deluge for me personally and professionally - my sister arrives Tuesday for a week stay, then two days later we leave for Hawaii for a week, then once I get home my event is (gulp) a month away. Sooo much to do still. But it's ok. I've run this event sixteen times. If I don't have it somewhat smoothly running by now then maybe I need a career change!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy 4th!

I actually had, dare I say it? a decent 4th of July for once yesterday. The daytime was a bit of a slog - I was afraid to deal with crowds and noise so I kept us home...ughhhh - but at night I went to an awesome Steve Martin concert at The Hollywood Bowl. There were not-too-loud fireworks and great patriotic songs. I'm so glad I got those tickets months ago. 

Last year, if I remember correctly, I sat at home bored and did nothing; the year before I was in Boston with Bumpus at Theo's age and that was fun...the year before that was awful, though - having just had the chemical pregnancy, then my parked car was smashed by a hit and run driver (and I was on the hook for the $500 deductible, which I have since lowered). Yeah, I'll take this fourth over that one, for sure! Back then I didn't really know how to laugh when things just get too bad for words. But I guess losing a potential baby after months of trying isn't exactly a laughing matter.

Faced with three days before my sister visits with zero plans and no one to see, I made the executive decision to take B to the Baby Kennel tomorrow even though with him attending preschool there now there's no reason to use the place on weekends. But something in me this morning just couldn't hang, so I called in a reservation. I will have lunch with a friend and then spend the afternoon trying to get on top of this mountain of paperwork. It's not exactly fun but it will make me feel a lot better going into my sister's visit, and my big price increase week, knowing the event is up to date.

Right now I am attempting another afternoon nap time. B is banging around in his room. I guess you can't force these kids to sleep - but you can at least give everyone a break in the afternoon. An hour or two "off" is pretty incredible and makes me wonder why I didn't try this sooner. 

I have a big, important, stressful gig tonight. I have to sing five new songs with no rehearsal and, since my event is so close and everyone will want to talk to me about it, I will have to be super friendly and "on" all night, which I find exhausting. Looking forward to my time off tomorrow, let me tell you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The fox, the chicken, and the bag of grain

I have my car back. Pickup went seamlessly, and I even feel more confident about installing/uninstalling carseats now. However, I am not convinced the car is ok to drive. After telling me the trouble started from Jiffy Lube "over filling" the oil by two quarts, the dealership instead told me today that the cap on the oil pan was loose, and that I had lost two quarts of oil, and the oil spilling onto the hot exhaust pipe caused the white smoke. So all they did was give the car an oil change. Huh.

When I got home, though, there was water dripping out of the bottom of the car in a big pool in my garage. Eventually it stopped - and it was not oil, it was definitely water - but that makes me not too confident about driving tomorrow. Ugh. Does the fun ever start???

So much of parenting, and especially parenting two kids, reminds me of that old puzzle about the fox, the chicken, and the bag of grain that have to be transported to the other side of the river in one boat. But you can't leave the chicken and the grain alone, or the fox and the chicken. Unfortunately I still have to keep Bumpus and Theo separate, which leads to all kinds of logistical puzzles. For breakfast I put Theo in a bouncy seat, but have to put it beyond a baby gate because Bumpus can't be trusted with Theo close to the floor like that; but then Theo gets sick of the chair and starts screaming, but doesn't want me to put him in the baby carrier and instead wants me to hold him, but I can't hold him and feed B and myself...there are a million situations like this every day; mostly I just manage somehow (usually by leaving poor Theo wailing somewhere). But having been in close contact with a new person (my floor guy's assistant, who drove me to the dealer and rode with me today so she could take her boss's car back) and seeing my life through her eyes, it does all look really difficult...and dreary. Screaming kids, me frazzled and exhausted...I could just see this woman (married, no kids) heading home, collapsing into her husband's arms, and thanking God they made the decision not to have children. 

Yeah, it can be really hard at times. But there is an enormous satisfaction to tackling every day and ending it with two healthy kids snug in their beds. And it does get easier all the time - and by "it" I mean Bumpus. He is progressing in leaps and bounds - every day doing more, saying more, engaging more. I love that he loves books now, and I can finally read to him and he imitates the noises I make for the animals, the trucks, etc. I still find myself fantasizing about the boys being older a lot - all the things we can do, how easy it'll be when I don't have to cart around diapers and strollers and sippy cups. But for now I'm just in it - every day is a hill to be climbed with a nice iced tea at the top of it. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Two things that can't happen when you're a single parent

Today sucked. I always said the two things that can.not.happen when you're a single parent is car trouble and sickness. I've already had the fun pulling over to puke with kids in the car experience; today I got to have the car breaking down experience.

I went to meet my new floor guy at the hotel where my event is held, down by LAX. Everything was fine until the valet drove up with my car, and to my horror there was a vast billow of acrid white smoke coming out of the tailpipe. This had not been the case when I arrived just 20 minutes before. What the hell?

Luckily the floor guy and his assistant were still with me, so we all drove to a mechanic they know to take a look at it, while people honked and waved to tell me there was something wrong with my car. The mechanic took a break from watching the World Cup to pop the hood - he said I was definitely burning oil and that it looked like oil was in the combustion areas of the car, and I should take it to the dealer since it's under warranty. It was 3:00, I had to pick up B from preschool at 5:30, I was all the way on the other side of town, and Theo was screaming for a feed. It was a nightmare.

In the end the assistant drove her car and I drove mine to a dealer about a half hour away; it was too late for me to have it fixed so I had to leave it. I had to take out both car seats, the stroller, phone charger, B's books, everything else I could think of that I might need in case this became a lengthy process, and we headed back to the floor guy's place who then let me borrow his car, bless 'm!

We wrestled with the car seats for probably a half hour, then I had to feed the screaming Theo, then I headed out to pick up B nearly two hours late. Thank God this is the same place that has the evenings & weekends program he is already registered for! All I had to do was call and tell them I was going to be late and have him have dinner there. Can you imagine if he were somewhere that closed at five or six? What would I have done???

He was super happy and bouncy when I went to get him...but then was a kicky, slappy mess by the time we got home. I let the baby scream in the living room while I got B into his overnight diaper and pyjamas. I thought he must have been exhausted. For the record it's 9 PM and he's still bouncing around in his room. All righty then.

Thankfully Theo went down with a quick feed; maybe all these shenanigans will mean we can all sleep in a little more tomorrow...yeah, right!

The dealer called to tell me that Jiffy Lube had overfilled the oil tank by two quarts which was what caused the problem - this was weeks ago, so I shudder to imagine what this did to the rest of the car. I don't know if I'll be able to get my car tomorrow or not...let's hope this resolves quickly. I don't know how long this good faith loan of this car is meant to last for!

So I am thirsty, hungry, exhausted, and fed up. Today would have been a great day to have a partner who can help. But in the absence of that, at least I had friends who went way out of their way to help.