Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Stop the Spread? Stay Away!

According to an article posted on MSNBC this morning, the health expert recommends that in order to slow the spread of the swine flu in the US, our best bet is to keep our children away from schools, playgrounds, and social gathering spots. If a case of the swine flu has been reported in your area, the recommendation is to cut your contact with people by 50%.

Unfortunately, there have been a handful of cases reported in the Dallas area in the past 48 hours. In a nearby school district, an elementary and daycare center has been closed for the remainder of the week due to reports of at least one confirmed case of the swine flu.

Although my city, neighborhood, and school district have not been directly affected, I am starting to consider what efforts I should be making to keep our family healthy. This weekend we have swim lessons at the indoor community pool. Should we cancel our lesson? We have a birthday party for a friend’s one year old little boy. Should we send our regrets and stay home? Sophia has asked for her friends to come over and swing on her play set. Should we stay away from our neighbors who have kids that go to public school and daycare?

Should I be taking protective measures to keep our family away from the spreading of germs, or am I simply spreading the panic by restricting our exposure to others? As one of the bloggers at Momformation put it… "I just want to know when to freak out".

My first reaction is to take no action, to continue our normal daily activities with no restrictions. However, my feelings may change during the course of this week as new cases of the outbreak are reported in the US, in Texas, and in communities close to my home. A quote the article I mentioned above is also supporting the belief that prevention is key…

“Even though cases in the U.S. remain isolated, experts in so-called “social distancing” strategies say such measures could reduce an outbreak of potentially deadly infections by at least half, but only if steps are taken early.”

So don’t be offended if the next time I see you I don’t shake your hand when I say hello. Don’t be offended if I stand the “recommended three to six feet” away to avoid physical contact. Don’t be offended if I decline an invitation to come to dinner at your home, or refuse to let our kids play together.

However, once this panic - I mean pandemic has passed, we will go back to the playground, parties and play dates. Have you made any, or do you plan to make changes in your social interactions due to the swine flu?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Playset, Pictures, and a Perfect Playdate

Just a few more weeks until Baby T’s due date! The chaos of the second trimester is behind me now and I was officially advised to NOT TRAVEL after the first week of April. Our family is spending more time around the house on the weekends, which is great now that Trey has finished putting together Sophia’s playset. It took about a week to finish the assembly (granted, some nights he could only put in about an hour after work) but we are all thrilled with how it turned out! Sophia’s favorite part is the swings. She will sit and ask me to push her non-stop until I enforce some "made up" time limit (seriously, she can swing for twenty minutes straight). Then she will climb up to the top of the “clubhouse” and fling her Barbie dolls down the slide or write on her chalkboard. We have not allowed her to try the monkey-bars yet – she does not know how far she could fall if she tried to hold on by herself. She has Trey’s sense of adventure topped with a lack of fear and I am afraid she will attempt to attack them on her own. Trey will climb up in the clubhouse with her but I am not as agile these days so I just sit on the patio and watch them play.

In addition to NO TRAVEL, I have stopped making commitments or plans for us each weekend besides Sophia's swim lessons. They were scheduled to start mid-April and be finished by the first weekend in May but the pool was closed for some repairs and her lessons have been delayed by two weeks. We officially start them this weekend and will continue for three more Saturdays. I will be too tired to spend 30 minutes with her in the pool soon, so Trey will have to take over the last few lessons.

This weekend is my maternity photo session (FYI - I will probably only share photos with my tummy fully covered on this site). We are having them taken at the Dallas Arboretum, the beautiful gardens where Trey and I got married almost 5 years ago. I will also be taking some family pictures with Trey and Sophia and I am excited to see how they turn out. We are using the same photographer, Brandi, (http://www.b4photography.com/) who did our family pictures and Sophia’s 2nd birthday photo shoot back in August. Brandi does wonderful work and is very in tune with the challenges of working with babies and young children. We have also scheduled a time for her to come to our house the week after Baby T’s due date to take some newborn photos. It will be so sweet to have pictures of my two little babies together, even though I know Sophia is no longer a baby. I promise to post pictures as soon as she gets them to me!

Trey and I were talking last night and he mentioned that I am definitely calmer at this stage in my pregnancy than I was with Sophia. I think that was his nice way of saying that I am a little more pleasant to be around than before. I was MEAN the last few months with Sophia, seriously, he was looking forward to the end of my pregnancy just so he could have his normal wife back. In my defense, it was 100 degrees everyday for almost three months that summer and I was more swollen (fat) and uncomfortable than I am with this baby.

I also notice that I'm more sentimental during this second pregnancy. I am thinking this could be the last time I am ever pregnant (it is not official but I would feel nothing but blessed to have my one little girl and one little boy). Trey said that he does not know if he will want more yet, because his little boy is still not here. I forget that his bonding schedule is WAY behind mine – I have felt connected to Baby T ever since I saw that first dot blinking showing his little heartbeat on the sonogram at six weeks. For a father, the bonding does not really begin until they hold their baby in their arms for the first time. I understand, but I still wish that Trey could experience some the movement and sensations that I feel on a daily basis with the baby constantly moving inside of me.


On a lighter note, Sophia and I took advantage of the great weather this week and had one of our Perfect Playdates (with each other). First we had a picnic dinner, that mainly consisted of Sophia running around the picnic table trying to feed the birds food from her hand while I ate my tacos and watched. She kept yelling "Here Birdie, Birdie. Eat some food!"

After chasing the birds, we walked down to the water and fed the ducks some bread. I am still trying to teach Sophia to tear up the bread into small pieces so the ducks do not have to fight over an entire slice after she throws it to them. After the ducks we walked over to the playground to play on the swings - until I noticed that it was CLOSED for maintenance and repairs! Of course this news created tears that could only be soothed by... Ice Cream! I got her back in her carseat and we headed for ice cream before we went to the library.

After we shared a cherry-topped strawberry ice cream treat, we headed to story time at the library. Sophia not only loves hearing the books read aloud but they also sing songs, count animals, and color a craft that she can take home. As we climbed back in the car after a busy evening, she was suddenly upset again.

"Mommy, we forgot to get me new library books!"

This is music to my ears. I LOVE hearing my daughter ask for books. We will read 2, 3 sometimes 5 books at bedtime each night. I assured her that I would go back the next day to pick her out some new books, but we had to get home to see daddy and get ready for bedtime. As promised, I came home the next day with 5 new library books for Sophia. We have read ALL five of them the last two nights. I love spending time with my beautiful, bright, book-loving little girl.

Monday, April 20, 2009

I just want to be a good mom!

I have always wanted to be a mom. When I was a little girl, I would play “house” with my friends and I would always appoint myself the position of mommy. Not only did I get to care for the children, but I also got to boss everyone else around! I also loved playing with dolls and pretending to be their mommy. I have also done a lot of babysitting, taught Sunday school, kept nursery at church, taught cheerleading, dance and gymnastics. Looking back, children have always been a big part of my life.

I knew as I got older, becoming a mom would be a priority in my life. But the practical side of me chose to go to college first, get my degree, and then get a good job. Next I started the traditional life path of getting married, buying a house and settling down with a few kids (with a few bumps in the road along the way). Now I am in my mid-30’s, working in my chosen career, married to my wonderful husband, settled in a home and expecting my second child.

I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a mom almost three years ago when I gave birth to Sophia. It was an emotional, overwhelming, and exhilarating experience to go through pregnancy and childbirth. (I keep reminding myself of these feelings as my due date approaches with Baby T but the fear of the actual childbirth is still lingering in the back of my mind). However, nothing prepared me for the realization that I would have in those first few weeks and will continue to contemplate throughout my lifetime as a mother… I just want to be considered a good mom.

Becoming the parent of an infant forces you to question every decision you make – Am I doing this right? Is this normal? Is the baby cold, hot, hungry, wet, gassy, tired? Is she entertained, getting the proper nutrition, getting enough of my attention? Am I wrong for going back to work, putting her in daycare, giving her formula? Should I only feed her organic foods, read to her every night, put her on a schedule, rock her to sleep or put her down awake? There are so many chances to second guess every move you make. We eventually survived her first few years of Sophia’s childhood and have settled into a working family routine, but I still worry if I am a good mom.

I want Sophia to know how to say please and thank you, to sit at the table in a restaurant, to not run in the library, to share her toys with friends on play dates, to sing songs in her class at church, to learn her numbers and letters, to learn how to read a book, to pick up her dirty clothes, to sleep in her own bed, to learn how to pray, to know how much I love her.

Not only is it important to me, but I want others to think I am a good mom. I want approval from my husband, my mother, my sister, my friends, our daycare provider, the teacher in her class at church, the lady behind me in the checkout line at the grocery store, the person in front of us on the airplane. When Sophia grows up, I want her to look back and think I was a good mom.

I also worry about how I am going to be a good mom to both of my kids once Baby T is born. He will be so tiny and have so many basic needs that will require my attention, and I worry that Sophia is going to feel left out. Also, I worry that she is going to feel like she is losing a part of her mom. I still want her to feel loved by her mom.

Before I had kids, I didn’t really worry if I would be a good mom. I guess I assumed it would come naturally, but I didn’t realize how DIFFICULT it can be to take on the role of motherhood while maintaining the other roles of my life. Career woman, devoted wife, loving daughter, supportive sister, caring friend, friendly neighbor… I also did not realize the pressure and scrutiny surrounding motherhood that comes from so many outside sources such as the media, family members, other mothers, and even friends who do not have children. The good thing is that I have learned not to succumb to outside pressure, advice that comes in the form of criticism, or to follow what works for other moms if I don’t feel it could apply to me. I am doing the best I can to be a good mom.

Motherhood is a journey that I feel like I am still just beginning (or maybe I am just starting over because of the new baby). I have the benefit of a few years experience this time, but I know I will continue to worry if I am a good mom to my little boy. I will never stop wondering if I am a good mom, but I will also never stop trying to be the best mom I can be for my children. I strive to enrich my children’s lives emotionally, spiritually, and educationally while still having FUN with them every day. I don’t have a specific formula for being a good mom or have any idea of what a “Good Mom Checklist” would look like. Instead I will just pray, consult my husband, seek advice from trusted sources, and love my kids unconditionally.

Do you ever worry if you are doing a good job on the mother of all life’s journeys, which I call motherhood? If so, please share your comments.

* First picture of Sophia - She wanted to wear her sunglasses on top of her head "just like mommy"
** Second picture of Sophia – I let her dig in the dirt in the backyard with her new bucket and shovel. She flung some dirt in the air and it landed in her hair. She turned to look at me with this face…

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Photo Filled weekend!

We had a very busy Easter weekend. Since Friday was a holiday, we all decided to go to the Fort Worth zoo. It was a beautiful day - here is Sophia and Daddy looking at the animals.

"Daddy - hold me higher so I can get a better look!"

Opa, Sophia and Trey were looking at the zebras until something else caught their attention.

Sophia loved watching the monkeys play!

All day she talked about getting a bird to sit on her finger...

With Opa's help she finally got close enough to hold it!

On Saturday morning, we headed to the Aquatic Center for Sophia's very first swimming lesson. She was so excited to get in the pool!

Sophia did a great job kicking her legs! She loves being in the water.

On Saturday, Daddy started putting together Sophia's new playset. She loves to use tools and "help" her daddy work.

On Sunday morning, we got all dressed up for church for Easter Sunday. Afterwards we tried to take some pictures but Sophia was not ready to smile.

Still no smiles from Sophia, even with Daddy holding her.

Finally a smile after she found her Easter basket filled with candy and toys!

Sophia eating her first chocolate bunny. I had to tell her it was okay to bite off his ears!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mommy-Daughter Day

Last Saturday, I planned a mommy-daughter day for me and Sophia. I even told Trey to make plans to do whatever he wanted that day, to have some time for himself. Friday night during Sophia’s bedtime, I told her about our plans, we were going to a Gymboree play class at 9 AM followed by an Easter egg hunt and activities at the playground in our neighborhood. Her eyes sparkled with excitement and we both feel asleep anticipating the next day. Saturday morning we slept until 8:00 AM then got up to get ready for Gymboree. I ended breaking my “mommy-daughter only” rule by asking Trey to fix Sophia some breakfast because I was trying to get us both dressed, hair fixed, and out the door on time.

Gymboree class was so much fun! Sophia ran around the first 10 minutes oblivious to any of the activities going on around her, I think she just liked the freedom of the space and was stimulated by all the colors and sounds. Her favorite part was singing songs, washing the bus, dancing in a circle, and running under the parachute as we waved it up and down. I loved watching her play but I also tired myself out during parent participation while we all danced and skipped in a circle.

Next we headed home to grab Sophia’s Easter basket, a jacket, and a sippy cup and headed to our neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt. We walked down the block to the playground and I was overwhelmed by how many kids had already shown up this year. Sophia played on the slide, the swings, with a hula hoop, a water gun, and with bubbles. She hesitantly ate some pink cotton candy before handing it back to me to finish for her. She knew what to do this year at the Easter Egg hunt – she ran after those eggs and cried when I stopped her from picking up the next set of eggs for the older kids. Note to self: remember to hide eggs in the backyard this week when the weather warms up.

Afterwards the egg hunt she ate a cupcake, chocolate candy from her eggs, and some popcorn. I decided it was time to go home when she started fighting with me over the bubbles and I had to pry them from her hands before she spilled them everywhere. I sensed a major meltdown coming and I picked her up and walked her home before she lost it in the middle of the playground.

When we got home, I was exhausted and ready for lunch and a nap so I assumed she would be ready for the same. Unfortunately, all the snacks had filled her up and she did not want any lunch. I did get her to eat some watermelon and grapes while we had some quiet time on the couch watching a new show on Noggin. Around 1PM I put her in her bed and told her she could play awhile with her stuffed animals before we went to sleep. I went straight to bed and was planning on a two hour nap… that never happened.

Sophia NEVER went to sleep. She played, got out of bed to find more toys, yelled at me to take her to potty, cried when I fussed at her for getting out of bed, and sang to her animals for the next few hours. After almost two hours, I finally gave up on either of us getting any sleep and we went outside to enjoy the warm weather. I had thought maybe we could plant some flowers together but decided to let Sophia dig in the dirt in the yard while I tried to sit in the shade. It had warmed up into the 80’s so we had popsicles and ice water to cool off. It was fun for about an hour until she tried to feed her popsicle to Coco and spilled most of it on the ground. Sophia’s cheeks were getting pink and her hands were sticky from the popsicles so I decided it was time to go inside - which brought us to the brink of another major meltdown. I thought she might be hungry since she did not really eat lunch so I made her favorite food – macaroni and cheese. I even let her get out the stool and “help” me by pouring the water and stirring in the cheese. I set the bowl on the table and have no idea what happened next to make her upset. I watched her arm slide across the table and heard… Splat! The entire bowl of macaroni and cheese was on the floor.

Without a word, I picked her up and carried her upstairs to her room (although I am not supposed to carry her anymore and this was the third or fourth time that day I had picked her up). I told her she was in timeout for throwing her food on the floor, put her in bed and went back downstairs. Downstairs I turned on the new video monitor (that is really for the new baby) and watched the major meltdown that had been simmering all day – she flung all the toys and pillows off her bed while tears poured down her face. Within minutes her cries had dissipated. I went upstairs (again) and peeked in her room – her exhaustion had finally set in and she had fallen asleep.
At this point I was exhausted too - I couldn’t do mommy daughter day alone anymore. I needed some help.

Trey stopped by the house with his dad around this time and saw the macaroni on the floor. He could tell by my face that my day was not going as planned. Sophia slept for about an hour and was still VERY grumpy when she woke up from her late nap, so I delegated the rest of the day to daddy. He gave Sophia a bath and got her ready for bed later that night. Sophia and I both went to bed early, a much needed end to an eventful, overwhelming “mommy-daughter day”.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A thump in the night

Last night in the bathroom, I had an epiphany. It’s not like I was in there a long time, I just dashed in to pee for the 34th time that day when I heard a loud thump from Sophia’s room. I actually heard the thump in two places, from her bedroom on the second floor above me and from the baby monitor that I had switched on in the living room.

I had finished up her bedtime routine about 20 minutes earlier; bathroom, books and bedtime lullabies. However, Sophia is rarely ready to fall asleep by the time I leave her room. She will sometimes sit up in bed and sing to her stuffed animals for up to an hour before her sleepiness starts to settle in. The crash alerted me that she was obviously still awake, but I was home alone with her and otherwise occupied so I could not dash upstairs to check on her. It was then that I realized that after the baby is born (in approximately 8 weeks); my life is not going to get any easier.

I am getting to the stage where I am looking forward to my pregnancy being over; just due to the sheer size of my belly and the physical discomfort that accompanies each step of every day. It is getting difficult to sleep, to keep up with the house, or to even stand or walk for more than 15 minutes at a time. Taking care of Sophia is also more difficult, as my belly gets in the way when I try to give her a bath (so bath time duties have not be delegated to daddy) and keeping up with her at the library or the playground is impossible.


I realized that getting Sophia to bed while taking care of a newborn baby is going to be a daunting task. Getting her to sleep in her room without waking the baby is obviously going to be problem too; based on the amount of banging and pounding I was heard last night. Everything that I do now to take care of Sophia will be accompanied by the duties of caring for a newborn. This will include nursing, burping, spitting up, dirty diapers, dirty clothes, and those dreaded sleepless nights.

Yes, I am starting to view the next eight weeks in a whole new light. These are my last weeks to (basically) sleep through the night, take naps during Sophia’s nap time, to go to dinner with my husband alone, to eat that ice cream cone without guilt, and to enjoy my favorite part of pregnancy – watching and feeling the baby move inside my tummy.

As for the thump I heard last night? After I opened the door to Sophia’s room, breathless from climbing the stairs to the second floor, I found her lying on her back in her bed KICKING her feet against the wall. Instead of raising my voice, I just slipped under the covers and snuggled up to my little girl. Too soon I will be to busy to lie in bed with her reading stories and singing lullabies for an hour every night. My time as JUST Sophia’s mommy is quickly slipping away…

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Daddy loves his Daughter

Seven reasons I know that Trey LOVES Sophia.

1) If Sophia wakes up crying in the middle of the night because of a bad dream, Trey crawls in bed next to her and comforts her until she falls asleep.

2) Each morning Trey wakes Sophia up, gets her dressed and fixes her hair for daycare.

3) Some mornings Trey takes Sophia to his parents’ house, so they can all have breakfast together before he goes to work.

4) Trey ALWAYS knows were to find Sophia’s beloved pink bunny.

5) When we go eat at a restaurant, Trey is willing to share anything off his plate with Sophia (the same is not always true for me, although I am pleading pregnant on this issue).

6) Trey will sit on the floor of Sophia’s room while she serves him “pretend” coffee, grits, and eggs on plastic princess plates from her purple play kitchen (and he even pretends to eat & drink it).

7) Trey will crawl into Sophia’s “Dora” playhouse, let her cover him in sparkly stickers, and play with her babydolls just because she asked him to… and he does it all with a big smile on his face.

These are also seven reasons why I love Trey.