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Archive for July, 2006

How much of a good thing?

I am having a quantity debate in my head, and I am curious about what other people might think. Fist of all, how much hands-on mom and dad time is good and how much babysitter/child-care is good. I just returned to work and I am in the office 25 hours a week. Is that too much time away from my two little ones? They certainly don’t spend that time with Daddy, who is at work 80 hours a week. They spend it with friends or a babysitter. It seems like a nice balance to me, but is it for them? And how much of our lives as parents should be about them, anyway? (Topic for another conversation.)

Secondly, how many children are too much? I have two, and will have three in ten weeks. Is that too much for someone who has already hung up her stay-at-home-mom uniform? I would like to have four… but really? The thought of another pregnancy with more veins popping out all over my legs, more wrinkles, and no sleep COUPLED with struggling with that value I held (hold?) so preciously about staying at home with the children when they’re young (read: home for FIVE more years if I have four children) seems like too much. But then, what about later? When I’m no longer feeling stripped of freedom (does freedom ever actaully ever return??) and when everyone is pooping on the pot and sleeping through the night? Then, will I regret not sucking it up now and having the larger family?
How do you know how much of something is a good thing?

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Sleep and Poop

There are a couple very different things I want to write about today. Sleep and Poop. You see, I am plagued by the LACK of one and the overload of the other. Can you guess which is which? If you have ever been 7 months pregnant, you will remember that now begins the time when people see the circles under your eyes and respond, “Oh, it’s okay, your body’s just preparing for the REAL lack of sleep you’ll get when the a baby arrives.” Have you heard this before? This being my third pregnancy, I have heard it a lot. So I’m seven months along, can no longer comfortably sleep on my back, and my hips ache after 15 minutes of sleeping on one side. So I’m doing the 15-minute hop and flop, which my hubby LOVES, but would never consider complaining.

And then there’s poop. Since I have a 4+ and a 2+ child, I’m not going to complain about changing poopy diapers because it’s not so bad anymore. I am, instead, currently overwhelmed with POOPY talk. Do you get it? “Mommy, put your finger in POOP! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!!!”
Me: “What would you like for breakfast this morning, Sunshine?”
Sunshine: “POOP cereal. HA-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
And now even my 2+ y.o.
Boo: I’m going to sing you a song.”
Me: “You are! What song will you sing to me?”
Boo: “POOP!”
How does one respond to these comebacks that make them CRACK UP?

Here is my real concern. Boo told one of his POOP jokes to Sunshine’s preschool teacher who responded, “Ah, you must be almost three.” “But,” I wanted to say, “my daughter is almost FIVE years old and talks poop and pee everything!” So does this mean that the fascination with excrement lasts from 3-5, at least? If so, then I better buckle in because Boo has at least two more years in the Poop World, and then when Boo is 5, Baby will be 2+. Awesome. POOP!

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This summer was our first camping experience with the children. Having once been camping addicts, my hubby and I decided that 5 years was a long enough sabbatical. At 2.5 and 4.5, we were hopeful that they keep their cool sleeping with the toads and crows.

I must say that the kids were champs. We brought a canoe (highly recommended) and s’more ingredients (be sure to pack some washcloths), and I think it made it all gel. When we were at Nickerson State Park, my daughter woke up in the middle of the night, complaining that the frogs were too loud, which CRACKS me up considering we live in Boston and they sleep through police car sirens, drunken college students trying to find their car, and car alarms and horns like we lived on the LA turnpike. But croaking frogs, forget it.

In case you live in the Boston area, or want to take a camping trip with the kiddies somewhere in Massachusetts, I highly recommend these sites: Beartown State Forest, which is in western MAs, on the NY border, and Nickerson State Park, on the Cape. Now, these are state forests, ya’ll, so there isn’t any of those concrete slabs of RV madness; nor are there video game rooms or planned activities for the kids. If that is what you’re looking for, you’ll have to search yourself. We loved these camping sites because they were quiet (except for us), woodsy (we slept to the sound of a choir of frogs), right by the water, and just tents, my friends, just tents.

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So, here is my idea: I want to take my children to the Dominican Republic for a bit. I lived there for two years as a Peace Corps volunteer (more on that later!), so we won’t be staying in a resort, but rather with a family I lived with.

 

My plan is to take them as part of the family while they’re young, and then, when they’re older, they can go by thenselves during summer break (if they are at all interested). The idea here is that they would learn how life is lived in most parts of the world, learn a new language, and have more extended family with whom they could share a life-long relationship. Oh, and also inspire them to continue their travels and explorations, write about them, photograph them, win Pulitzer Prizes…

I now have a 4 year-old girl and a 2 year-old boy. My question is: when are they old enough? I would say now. But my husband has become a paranoid medical student; certain that our children would contract every possible disease known to man and animal alike were we to take them outside the U.S. (What happened, I wonder, to my Thailand bush-thrashing hubby who didn’t spend more than 3 months at a time on U.S. territory? Right—he became a father.) What do you think about travel and children? What age is safe and reasonable? All advice welcome.

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Balance

So, hubby is in medical school— third year, which means rotations just began. He is currently in surgical rotations, which he LOVES, but is never home. I didn’t figure that he could be less present than while he was studying anatomy and pharmacology during his first two years. But alas. He leaves the house at 4:30AM and comes home around 8:00PM– when he’s not on call. And then he studies and writes about all the surgeries he assisted during the week. I’m glad it’s fun for him, but I’m about to lose it. And I’m only two weeks into the third year. Pace it out, Keegan.

I feel bad complaining (but only a bit) when I know there are mothers out there whose hubby travels all the time or puts in 100 hour weeks at the office. It’s just fucked up. Who ever said that raising children should/can be a one-person job? Even now that I’m working out of the house part-time, I’m still solely responsible for preparing and cleaning up every meal, nap times and bed times, and all meltdowns in between. It is not anyone’s fault, because life is what it is, but what is the answer to finding balance?

My hunch is that it is all about family– extended family. I have a couple girlfriends who have parents, aunts, uncles and the works all within a 10-mile radius. They drop their children off for a weekend with the auntie and fly off to Vegas for a wedding- just wife and hubby. Or they have schedules set up for the children to visit Granny every Sunday. Hallelujah to that!

Our family lives in California, Colorado, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. We live in Massachusetts. When rotations are over and the real fun of residency starts up, we ARE moving closer to family… for the children of course.

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Metamorphosis

It is a beautiful New England summer. Everyone is outside boating, camping, and picnicking…and the kids are home full-time. I just started a full-time job, and I’m curious to see how long this blog lasts, never mind my clean house, cooked meals, and sanity. I have one four-year old and one two-year old and yet another due in three months. But when you have the “If I don’t use my brain for something other than a new waffle recipe” bug, you have to scratch. Or at least I do.

I have to say that I have, after four years of being a stay-home mommy, adapted relatively well to the lifestyle. Most of my friends are also stay-at-home moms; we meet at the park and gab (in the summer. During the long winter, we share hot cups of coffee at each other’s homes), we get together after the kids are down and vent. My life is a hectic mix of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and kisses and hugs. It is quite rewarding. And as I write this, I miss my children. For me, however, the rewards will be more apparent, and more appreciated, if I cut down the hours just a bit and share my energy with the outer world. I know a lot of mothers have gone through this sort of metamorphosis, and I’m curious to hear how it went for them.

I am excited to talk about things outside the world of child rearing. Thus, this blog. There is plenty to talk about as far as children and family life go. But there is sooo much more. I don’t see myself reporting on casualties in Iraq. But I would like to discuss Iraq, politics, shopping (have you checked out the new site called StyleFeeder?), new technology, and great books and movies. Really, anything that catches my attention in or outside of the house. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.

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