Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Scare Away Ducks

My iPhone is currently residing in a bag of rice. Why? Well, it got wet, and the hope is that the rice will draw the moisture out of the phone. What? Oh. How did it get wet? Fine.
First you have to understand the daredevil to whom I have given birth. I wish I could put into words Leila's level of fearlessness. I think if the boogeyman showed up in her room she would squeal, clap her hands and give him a kiss on his nose. At 16 months, I think she would bungee jump.
Today at 11 AM, we met some moms and kids from the Carlisle chapter of MOMS Club at Boiling Springs Children's Pond to feed the ducks. Ducks like Cheerios. CJ likes throwing Cheerios. It's a win win. Leila loves to watch the ducks eat Cheerios. Win win win. Only she really wanted to get up close and personal with the ducks. We played a game of move-the-toddler, but she really wouldn't stay away from the edge. I decided to pick her up and hold her. She resisted and slipped from my grip. Her escape route? Over the edge into the water two feet below. Now she was in there for less than 30 seconds. Probably less than 20 as I was right behind her. I had her out of the water and back up on the shore where the moms (THANK YOU) had her wrapped in a blanket before she could start crying (which she did a lot and loudly). I had to wade to a boat launch to get myself out. Seriously, the whole thing lasted less than a minute before I was holding my wet baby trying to comfort her, but people? The image of my daughter lying on her back completely under water is not going to leave me any time soon. I still feel extra adrenaline in my system, and while I am dry, I feel waterlogged. Leila? She's enjoying Lion King and trying to climb the pub table's stool so she can play with the light switch.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


It has become politically incorrect to put labels on people and for some good reasons. In the past and still today unfortunately, many of these labels, black, gay, etc., are used to demean and repress those seen as Other. Yet labels have their place. Humans work better with a frame of reference. It gives us a jumping off point for our journey into the world outside ourselves. As long as we don't make the labels more important that the people we are applying them to, they are a handy tool our brains use to cope with all the input we receive.
And while labeling the world around us is important, the most important labels are the ones we give ourselves. Some are simple: brunette, short, Greek, thirty-four. Others are a little more complex: funny, friendly, smart, forgetful. Then there are the ones we use to define ourselves, the ones that shape the decisions we make and the life we lead. They can come in a variety of categories. Career: Writer, Teacher, Librarian. Talents: Writing, Knitting, Photography. Family: Daughter, Sister, Wife, Mother. Throughout our lives as we grow, they change. Some disappear, others are added. The level of importance of each always morphing along a sliding scale.
Some people have shining label that glow and drive them. They become not just a label but a definition of our core selves. Actress, Athlete, Reporter, Engineer, Professor, Artist, Volunteer, Activist. Especially in our youthful adulthood the career labels often are the ones of most important or at least daily focus. The family ones obviously grow in import if you choose to start a family with a significant other and perhaps children.
I never felt the pull of a Career. I had jobs I liked, that I worked hard at, but while they were labels, they were never definitions. I always felt my family connections more even at the time of my life when they are often more in the background. I have always been the most proud of being a good daughter and sister and then wife. And when I became a mother, I found my definition. I know it is the one label I was meant to carry and turn into a definition of my self. It is hard. It is exhausting. It is my natural state of being. That is an awesome understanding, and I love the truth of that statement. Yet I worry just a little. It is a definition that is fundamentally about others, one in which I can easily lose myself to the fulfillment of my children. Other parents I know still have careers and talents that are definitions, not just labels. They are of an import in their lives that they go to extraordinary lengths to juggle all the parts of their cores. I juggle diapers and toys, laundry and a vacuum, a part-time job and workouts. And I am very content. I wonder if I should be. Is it enough to have one definition and many labels? Will labels be enough when my kids no longer need constant attention? Maybe a label or two will then change to a definition. Who knows? Maybe I'm worrying for nothing. I am glad it is just a tiny worry, a rumination, really. I wonder if I am the only one who has it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Pet Peeve

Here's a pet peeve of mine. Upon hearing the story of my children's births, inevitably there is someone who will say, "See all you had to do was relax to get pregnant." Um, no. First, saying that when I couldn't conceive was utterly non-helpful. Saying it now is just silly and makes you sound like you think you're omnipotent. Second, that time in my life was more stressful than any other I can remember. We'd gone through two failed matches, one of which involved an elaborate lie that kept us on the hook for over a month, and CJ's due date was changed from September to November. His birthmother had issues of her own so contact was spotty at best. We were tied in emotional knots, trying to be excited but so scared of being let down again. And somehow in the midst of all this, one lone sperm found an egg and decided to stay long term paying no attention to John's or my emotional states.
So, please, consider this a PSA. When you run into someone with a similar story, don't bluster. Just be pleased for them, thank God or Fate or The Flying Spaghetti Monster or Chaos, and tell them both kids are adorable. Don't analyze or guess or in any way try to figure out why it happened just glory in the fact that it did.
Thank you for your time.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Even the Kids Know You're Nuts

I have what polite people refer to as independent children. I call them stubborn. For instance, I cannot feed them. If I try, say, yogurt on a spoon, they grab for the spoon to try and shove it everywhere but their mouths. They don't speak, but they say "Myself!" with their eyes.
Another way this "independence" manifests is the brushing of teeth. They will not in any way, shape, or form allow me to guide the toothbrush, so there is actual brushing. Instead I hand over the brush fully loaded with fake baby paste/gel, so they can suck and gnaw on it. I do not in anyway see this as useful dental care. My strategy has become to demonstrate what I want them to do by overly exaggerating the brushing of my own teeth. This? They find hilarious, so they are now sucking and gnawing on their own toothbrushes while laughing.
Parenthood is an absurdity sometimes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sand, It's What's for Dinner

I love the beach. Me, a beach chair, a good book and the sound of the surf for hours at a time. Nothing is more relaxing.
At least that is what I remember.
Now it takes three trips from the car to the Compound (That would be four pop-up canopies we put up for our large group), and I barely get to put my butt cheeks anywhere near my beach chair. Because toddlers at the beach are non-stop, especially with they are my children. I ask you what one-year-old crawls pell-mell towards the waves, giggling all the way? What 1.5-year-old thinks dumping handfuls of sand into his hair is the more fun he has ever had? The answers naturally are my kids. Seriously, it was the best vacation ever.
As the Compound can attest to, we go to the beach with a group of about 20 people, give or take as some come for a couple days as others leave, and at least a third of them are four and under. So we do set up a canopy town and have every sand toy known to Man.
Leila and CJ were at the beach last year, but they didn't really do anything exciting. This year it was all about sand and surf. Sand was mostly about eating it and wearing it. I am not a person who minds sand. I love the beach. Sand is part of the experience, but they were coated from head to foot in it thus, I was covered in it as well. It was a little much even for me. They thought it was food and a toy all in one!
Both of them loved the water. They are really fearless. CJ is a tad more reserved than Leila. He would go in if he was firmly holding on to an adult, but as I stated previously, Leila would crawl down the beach like a maniac towards the ocean. She loved it.
All in all, they are beach babies which is great because we are beach parents. I can't wait for the new memories and milestones each summer will bring.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jedi Mom

I was solo for bedtime last night, and it was Friday. I have a tendency to be a little more lax on Fridays, so I didn't push sleepy time too hard. Leila was out by nine, and CJ held on until nine thirty. John got home, and we were in bed around ten thirty.
At eleven, CJ started fussing. I waited. Fussing turn to crying. I got up and got him back to sleep. I started to nod off. Leila starts fussing. I waited. A little more fussing. In my half stupor I start thinking I can comfort her from where I am. I start imagining waves of motherly comfort exuding from my body, riding currents of air, permeating the walls and crashing over my children like the surf on the sand.
Leila stopped fussing. I hold my breath. I have to breath again and still quiet.
I am a Jedi! I can control the moods of children who I can't even see. I shall be honored and teach other parents how to Jedi parent. Yoda would bow to me. It will be a parenting revolution.
Then Leila started screaming. Loudly.
On a sigh, I get up and go to physically parent.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 20, 2011

Where earrings are swallowed and barbaric yawlps are heard

I'm cross-posting this over at Daddy Runs a Lot.

It had been a very, very long day. For the most part, the kids had been good - they woke up in a foreign house (we spent Saturday night in northern Virginia with friends), spent several hours in the car, got fun & sun in Grandy's pool1, and we were hitting the "home stretch" for bedtime.

I'm not a stickler for routine. I have some friends who have the bedtime process working like a well-oiled machine, and I envy these friends . . . except when something goes astray. When the routine is broken, the meltdowns are truly epic. And, I'm pretty sure that these kids are being set up to be drug addicts. But, I digress. I don't have a bedtime routine. Sometime between 7 & 8, it's time to gauge the situation. If one kid is over-tired and throwing a fit, I'll place said kid in a death grip and fall asleep cuddle until the kid's fight to stay awake dies. If the kid is truly off the walls, I'll throw said kid in a stroller and walk around the block. But, for the most part, I'll simply let the kids play until they're showing signs of imminent sleep.

When both Duffy & I are in the room, and sleep appears imminent, both kids have the same pattern. They'll start with one of us, and we'll feed them milk, but when they realize that they're falling asleep, suddenly they need the other parent to hold them. Not uncommonly in this exchange, they'll find a second wind. Last night was no different.

Duffy had Leila, and I had CJ, and things were going pretty good. I thought CJ was about asleep when Duffy took out her earrings because Leila was tugging on them. I did something stupid & CJ awoke with a bolt. He walked over to Duffy because, obviously, I was using some sort of black magic to nearly have him asleep, and he wanted none of it.

Duffy now had both babies, Leila nearly asleep, when CJ saw something on the floor that had to be investigated. So, Duffy put him down, but he then saw the earrings sitting on the snack table.

He grabbed one.

As toddlers are wont to do, he put it in his mouth.

I sprang into action.

I saw the earring in his mouth, and then put my finger into his mouth to sweep it out.

He bit my finger.

I recoiled.

I put my finger back in his mouth, and the earring was not there.

He bit my finger again.

There was but a split second that he could have spit the earring out, and I still hold hope that he did just that, but I think it's safe to say that a bead, dangling on 14k wire is in a toddler's digestive system.

This was not something I was used to. And I had no idea what to do. I have medical professionals that I'm "close to" via Twitter. My mother is a retired operating room nurse. My father-in-law (he of the pool) is a physician's assistant. We made the decision to call my father-in-law, and he basically told us that, if he really swallowed it, there isn't much to do but wait for it to pass.

Yeah, through the other end.

An emergency room visit would only yield an x-ray, to confirm what we already knew. For now, we just needed to wait.

Duffy hung up the phone after talking to her dad, and the two of us scoured the room, trying to figure out if, maybe, he did spit things. It's safe to say we were freaking out, though not nearly as badly as we might. It was a bad situation, but it wasn't horrible.

In the middle of all of this, Leila, who had been sitting in the middle of the commotion, playing with a set of blocks, decides to up & stand on her own two feet. The commotion stops as Duffy & I stare, slack-jawed, at our daughter.

Because she must be the center of attention, she started babbling at a volume that only she can reach. After her little nonsensical monologue, she sat back down and resumed the block playing.

You know that scene in Dead Poets Society where they're reading Whitman? "I sound my barbaric yawp"? Well, this certainly felt like Leila sounding her barbaric yawp.

In the aftermath, diaper changing ought to be fun today. I'm very hopeful that things will pass without incident, though I fear that the earring will never be worn again. And, I think we're nearing the "two toddler" stage, despite very clear instructions to my little girl that she's done enough growing up already.

1 Duffy's father's name is Randall. Grandfather + Randy = Grandy

Monday, June 13, 2011

Is That a Pink Plus Sign?

I never thought I would see that little symbol. But there it was on a day late in October 2009, five weeks before our adoptive son was due to be born. Well, it ended up being two weeks before Coltrane's arrival that Leila made her presence known. So nothing has really gone according to plan, but when does it ever?
Approximately nine months later, I was numbed from the chest down, holding John's hand when we heard our daughter for the first time. I spent the rest of the day attempting to breastfeed. Because of the anesthesia, every time I tried to look down at her, I threw up, so I was feeding her with my head tilted back. I must have been a pale, clammy mess because the next day everyone just kept saying how much better I looked. So apparently, it was a rough day. I never noticed.
Happy Birthday, Leila. You are my wonderful drama queen of a Little Miss. Thanks for being my daughter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Water Babies

Tonight we went to our first Parent and Me swimming lesson. It. Was. A. Blast.
At first CJ was a little tentative. He was clinging baby chimp tight to John's neck. Little Miss Leila? She started splashing and giggling the minute she was wet. Don't worry about CJ. He eventually warmed up to the experience and was just as excited as his sister by the end. He even put his face under the water with no prompting
It's a pretty simple half hour class that just allows the kids to get comfortable in the water so that they can someday have the independence they need to take an actual parentless swimming class. We sang songs that got them moving, most of which we do at the Mother Goose Time at the library, so the kids felt comfortable with them. They really liked using Humpty Dumpty. We sat them on the side of the pool and when Humpty takes his great fall, lifted them high in air then into the pool.
By the end of the half hour they were blue lips and a little shiver-y, but they were smiling.
It was a great family experience, and I know all four of us are looking forward to next week. I gotta get someone to come and take some pictures.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another Step Out of Babyhood

This is the CJ we all know and love. The unruly curls are so adorable, aren't they? Such personality on that wee head. That is until you try and get a comb through those suckers. It was becoming a knockdown, drag out, no holds barred Ultimate Fighting cage match every morning. And I can't say I blame him. He wakes up with dreadlocks, and try as I might, I could not keep from yanking his poor little scalp despite a lot of detangler and patience. During each battle, I would think, it is time to get this mop cut, but then it would be so cute and fuzzy when it was all done. He was my baby.
But finally, I couldn't ignore it anymore. I had to let my practical mommy brain get louder than my STOP-GROWING-UP-SO-FAST mommy heart. So I called my hairdresser and made a double appointment. Momma's gotta look good too.
Leila had a nice visit with her Thi Thi while CJ and I went to the hairdresser. CJ didn't quite know what to make about leaving his sister behind. He kept looking over at her car seat. Mommy heart squeeze right there.
Barb, the hairdresser, is a fantastic lady and very good at her job. CJ and I both got a cape, and he sat on my lap. We jumped right in with what I was afraid would be the big scary clippers. CJ though had no problem with them at all. He got his very serious I-Am-Watching-Everything look and was glued to the mirror. He was amazingly good. Surprisingly it was the scissors that scared him a little, but all he did was turn around and hug me. Sigh. So finally, here is the end result.
And he is still so adorable, but it is now a little boy adorable. I can no longer pretend he is my baby boy. It is the way it is suppose to be, but some days it feels like each milestone goes by as quickly as each curl was cut and fell.
Still those, the hair is so freakin' cute.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The fun of being a parent

We haven't posted here in awhile, so I figured I'd talk about this morning - because, after all, a "random morning" is a pretty good way to figure out how parenthood is treating us, right?

  • Alarm goes off at some ungodly hour

  • Walk, feed dogs

  • Lie back down

  • Duffy: "I'll get up to run as soon as I get CJ back to sleep".

  • *whoosh*

  • Duffy: "Aaaaaaagh"

  • Me: "What the hell happened?"

  • Wife: "He puked on me!"

  • Me (getting up for paper towels): "That sucks"

  • Wife: "It's in my ear!"

  • Son: pukes all over bed

  • Me (picking up son): "let's change you"

  • Son: pukes all over me

  • Me (under breath): "Lovely"

  • Daughter: starts laughing maniacally

  • Duffy runs into the shower to clean the puke from her hair/ear

So, that was this morning in Casa de Batzer. The fun started at 4:20 when the alarm went 5:30, Duffy admitted that she was too frustrated to work out (and, besides, she had already showered, so what was the point?), and since I knew I wasn't going to get back to sleep, I went downstairs to spin.

Since we haven't posted here in awhile, some updates are in order.

  • CJ is up and running around . . . has been since he was 10 months old, but he's getting more & more sure on his feet every day.

  • Leila is doing a whole lot of rocking on her hands & knees, and if you turn your back on her, she mysteriously moves across the room. I'm not sure if she's crawling, but she can get where she wants to go, as long as you're not looking at her.

  • CJ is saying an isolated word or two. For example, the other day I went to change his diaper pointed at myself, said "I'm daddy" and then pointed at him and said "and you're CJ." CJ then pointed at himself and said, clearly "Ceej". Duffy said that, yesterday, when she went to change his diaper, he said "diaper" from the changing table.

  • Leila babbles incessantly, but doesn't say much outside of "dadadadadada" and "mamamamamama" (and she uses them interchangeably when looking Duffy or me, so I'm not sure there's a whole lot of actual meaning behind them) and "dididididididi" when she's really pissed off.