Sunday, February 27, 2011

Damn I'm Old!

I was washing dishes this morning, and the only way I can seem to do household chores is if I'm blasting music at an unreasonably high decibel level. So there I was, deafening my entire family and the neighbors while cleaning the kitchen, when it occurred to me that I'm old.

I haven't been to a show/concert in forever. Also, the kind of music I really like is pop punk which, if I even could make it out of the house and to a show, is a favorite of people ten or more years younger than me. It would be kind of awkward to be rocking out with kids that I could have potentially substitute taught.

How did I get so old? I mean, I'm not that old, I'm only 31, but I find myself using expressions like:

"I'm really disappointed in you."
"Don't talk with your mouth full!" and
"For crying out loud."

I've also developed the inability to operate cutting edge electronic equipment such as the Xbox, Play Station 3, and Blu-ray. Every time Wil plays a movie for Ari on these systems, I have to ask him to turn it on and off because I can't figure out how to do it myself. This reminds me of the teachers I used to make fun of who were unable to operate a simple VCR in the classroom.

Before I know it, I'll be going through menopause! It's insane. I feel like only yesterday I was just entering high school. What happened? I guess I grew up! As a child, I was so terrified of growing up and becoming an adult and all of sudden, it happened! BAM! I have a fiance and two kids. Whoa. I need to take a breath here.

Is anyone else out there mourning their youth?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It's All Me

I've been spoiled this past five weeks. Wil has been on paternity leave and I've had a lot of help with Samara. During this time, he's made it possible for me to have time alone with Ari and allowed me to have a full night's sleep while he stayed up with the baby. In case you're wondering, I had to pump milk each time in order for these events to be at all possible. Yay nursing!

He's scheduled to go back to work on Wednesday evening. As I've mentioned before, he works the overnight shift. Once he goes back, I'll be alone with the two kids pretty much all the time. When he's home during the day, he'll be sleeping, and at night, he'll be at work.

Needless to say I am terrified.

I have no idea how I'll manage having an infant and a 2 and 3/4 year-old by myself. To be fair, I'm not entirely alone. I have my parents right downstairs, but the primary responsibility of caring for these kids is on me.

My friend Cordy (mother of two girls, two and three years old respectively) told me when you have two kids, you're always inevitably neglecting one of them. When I've been alone with my brood, I've found this to be absolutely the case. For example, Ari is repeatedly asking for chocolate milk, meanwhile Samara is screaming, demanding to be nursed.

In a couple of days, it's going to be all me. To all the moms out there with two (or more) kids: how did you survive when your husband/boyfriend/partner went back to work?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Critique of "Battle Hymn of The Tiger Mother"

When my friend Katie Grinch came over to meet Samara, she brought us some presents of the literary variety. Ms. Grinch works in publishing, so she has access to some of the newest groundbreaking material. She gave me this:

"Have you heard of it?" She asked eye widened.
"No." I replied, already intrigued. She went on to say that the book was controversial, because Amy Chua, the author, has some questionable parenting techniques.

Chua has two daughters, Sophia, the eldest and Lulu (Louisa) the youngest. "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" is a memoir about raising her girls "The Chinese way." Chua is the daughter of two Chinese immigrants and was raised in an extremely strict household. She wanted to raise her girls "the Chinese way" with the same values that she grew up with.

The reason that the book is provocative, is that her parenting, in the eyes of Western society, can be viewed as extreme and borderline verbally abusive.

For example, many times in the book, she uses scare tactics to get her daughters to obey her. Some of these include:
  • Threatening not to give her daughter dinner
  • Threatening to burn her child's stuffed animals
There are multiple instances where she insults her daughters by:
  • Calling Sophia "garbage" and Lulu a "disgrace"
  • Telling Lulu that she is a "terrible daughter" in front of a restaurant full of people
  • Rejecting her daughters homemade birthday cards when they were ages seven and four because they didn't put enough thought into them
She doesn't allow the girls to have sleepovers, makes them practice their instruments (piano and violin) for five, six hours a day and even pulls her one daughter, Lulu, out of school during recess and gym to have more practice time.

An interesting aspect of the story is that Chua is married to a white Jewish lawyer named Jed Rubenfeld. Jed was raised in a liberal household on the other end of the spectrum from the "Chinese way" of parenting. Jed allows Chua to implement her parenting style with his girls and essentially goes along for the ride.

The "Chinese way" of parenting works well with Chua's eldest, Sophia, but Lulu (her youngest daughter) rebels against it fiercely. When her mother refuses to allow her a haircut, she locks herself in her room and chops off her hair. She talks back to her mother and ultimately refuses to obey her rules.

Though Chua portrays herself as oppressive, overbearing and relentless with her girls, somehow I got the sense that she truly loves her kids and feels that she is doing what is best for them. Her daughter even wrote a piece for the NY Post praising her mother's parenting. She appears to be emotionally stable and is on her way to an Ivy league school.

Chua criticizes Western parenting saying that Western parents are too permissive and they worry too much about hurting their kid's feelings. As a result, Western parents don't push their children to achieve their best. I actually think she may be onto something there. I believe it's okay to push your kids hard to achieve their best. It's alright to demand more of your child and expect them to work to their fullest potential. What I don't agree with is her methodology.

I disagree that insulting your child is an appropriate way to get him/her to behave or work harder. I believe in discipline but not to the extent that she implements it.

Ultimately I found Chua's memoir to be brutally honest, painful to read at times, but all in all fascinating and well worth the read. Despite her extreme parenting, it is clear that she loves her daughters and I came away from the book feeling that.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Zucchini Lentil Soup

I'm a really boring cook. I tend to make the same things over and over again. When I was about to have Samara, I begged my friend Cordula (Cordy) to make me some interesting food and freeze it so that when the baby was born, I could have a break from cooking. I read this was a good thing to do, before I had Ari, but I never ended up doing it. Cordy is an amazing cook, and a vegetarian, so I knew she'd come up with some yummy inventive dishes for us to try.

One of the meals she made was zucchini lentil soup. I quickly became obsessed with it and begged her for the recipe. She kindly handed it over. The recipe originated from a woman named Rivkah Tuttle, a friend of Cordy's whom I've never met, for the record. Ms. Tuttle, though we've never met, I adore your soup!

Addendum: Ms. Tuttle's sister, Elisheva, informed me that this recipe is from Susie Fishbein's "Kosher By Design Lightens Up."

Without further ado, here is the recipe for zucchini lentil soup, with pictures:

Zucchini Lentil Soup

Makes 6 servings
Don’t overcook or the lentils will start come apart.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, cut into ¼ inch pieces
4 cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
2 large or 3 medium zucchini, with skin, cut into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup fresh dill, stems trimmed, loosely packed
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I use vegetable stock)
1 cup dried red lentils

Soup Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, sage and thyme. Cook until the onion is translucent; do not allow it to brown.

Add the zucchini and dill. Saute for 4-5 minutes, until zucchini is a little shiny.

Add the stock. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the zucchini is soft.

Using an immersion blender, right in the pot, puree the soup until creamy. This can also be done in batches in a blender. I use a regular old blender and my soup turns out fine.

Add the lentils. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

Wil is a notorious carnivore, and does not consider a meal a real meal unless there is meat involved. Even he liked this soup!


Friday, February 18, 2011

Busted Nursing At The Grocery Store

I was on my way home from the playground with the two kids today, and stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things. The minute I entered the store, Samara started crying and I knew she wanted to nurse.

A cashier kindly helped me push the stroller (where Ari was happily sitting) over to a bench where she said I could feed my baby. I took Samara out of the Moby Wrap she was in and plopped her on my left boob, her favorite of the pair. I didn't bother to cover myself, because Samara was blocking the majority of my boob with her head.

The cashier took the Moby Wrap, placed it over my boob and Samara's head. Then she said
"People really don't want to see that. It's better this way."
I looked at her for a split second and said:
"Oh, I really don't care." I meant I didn't care about part of my breast being exposed while nursing. It's highly likely that I'll never see these people in the grocery store again, and I really don't care what they think about me.

But she was insistent that I cover myself up. Personally, I find being covered up while nursing
  • Uncomfortable, because I can't maneuver properly.
  • Unpleasant, because I can't look at my baby while feeding her
  • Unnecessary, because I'm not doing anything wrong, and if you're offended by me nursing my kid, perhaps you should look the other way.
Unfortunately, I didn't have the ovaries to confront this woman so I just smiled, nodded and nursed uncomfortably.

My mom once told me that she was yelled at for nursing baby me in the middle of Macy's Herald Square.

Have you ever been shamed while nursing in public?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quiet Time Rocks My World

I am happy to report that both kids are asleep at this very moment.

It is most miraculous that Ari ended up in the above state. I tried something new today. My best friend Mint (an early childhood educator) suggested I implement a "Quiet Time." They do this in pre-schools and kindergarten. You tell the kids that they don't have to sleep but they do have to relax for a period of time on a mat.

After lunch, I told Ari that we were going to try something new today. He was going to have "Quiet Time."
"Quiet time?" He asked eyebrows raised.
"You're going to lay in your bed, and look at your books. You don't have to sleep, but you have to stay in your room with the lights out. Okay?"
"Okay." He said with a sigh.

We got to his room. I handed him his books.
"You gotta sleep with me." He said with a little pout on his face.
I could hear Samara crying in the other room with Wil. I knew she was hungry and I couldn't stay long.
"I have to feed Samara soon." I told him.
"You gotta read these books." He said.
"Okay," I said. "I'll read these books. But after I'm done you have to look at them yourself. Okay?"
"Okay." He said satisfied with the compromise.
So I read him three short books, one about penguins (a gift from Ms. Katie Grinch), one about dinosaurs and the other was of the irritating Max and Ruby variety. After we finished the last book, I said:
"I have to feed Samara now. Look at your books by yourself, okay?"
"You gotta sleep with me." He said dejectedly.
"After I feed Samara, I'll be back to check on you," I said with a wink.
He smiled and began to look at his books.
I closed the door, nursed Samara, and in ten minutes I checked on him. He was fast asleep.
Quiet Time rules!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I bought these baby legs for Samara, and it inspired Wil to sing the song from Flash Dance...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Boob Preference

I love nursing, in fact, I'm nursing as I write this, but one thing that frustrates me is my daughter's total disregard for my right boob. She has made it known that this is her least favorite of the pair, and she gives me hell when I'm trying to get her to latch on to it.

She loves the left boob. The minute she comes out it's as if she's saying:
"Hello old friend and source of food!"

The right boob is like an albatross. It comes out and she shuns it. I don't know what it ever did to her, but she hates it.

I don't understand it, it offers the same thing on tap, it's never done anything malicious to her, in fact it's only been there to help, but she might as well put a dunce cap on it and laugh at it.

I feel badly for my right boob, I really do. Maybe it's misshapen in some unpleasant way and that's why she ignores it. I may have to schedule a mediation session between baby and right boob. This can't go on any longer.

Hey nursing moms out there! Did/Does your child have a boob preference?

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Lesson On Fear From Samara

My feelings about labor during my second pregnancy were vastly different from the way I felt about it during my first pregnancy. When I was pregnant the first time around, with Ari, labor was an abstract concept. I knew it would be painful, but I hadn't experienced what that truly meant.

I was scared of labor this time around, with Samara, because I knew how painful labor could be and I was planning on a home birth. I wanted the home birth badly, but I was also petrified of natural childbirth; how much it would hurt and the possibility that I would feel out of control.

When I made the decision to transfer back to my old OB and have my labor induced in the hospital, after being in early labor for a week, I allowed my mind and my body to relax. Once I made up my mind about the induction, my body took over and I went into labor on my own. I didn't need to be induced!

After my water broke, I had absolutely no control over what was happening to my body and I was scared out of my mind.

My acupuncturist told me that when he saw his wife in active labor, her eyes looked different. It was as if her mind wasn't present, her body was running the show.

This is how I felt when I was in labor. I never experienced active labor with Ari. This was a totally new feeling.

My body had taken over and all I could do was go along for the ride. In life, I hate roller coasters, they make me feel out of control. This labor was a real life roller coaster and Samara was operating the controls.

She forced me to face my fear, to confront natural childbirth. I know what it is to have a baby naturally now, and my daughter is the one who forced me to face my fear. Perhaps this is a part of her role in life, to help others face their fears.

What did you childbirth teach you about yourself?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Secondary Pneumonia and Up and Down Emotions

It seems like most everyone I know is sick these days, adults and children included, so when Ari woke up one day with a barking cough, I wasn't surprised when the doctor told us it was croup again. Only this time, he didn't want to take his croup medication (the steroids they prescribed him to reduce inflammation in his lungs) and his cough lingered. We tried everything to get that medication into him:
  • "Ari, if you take your medicine you get a cookie!" "NO MEDICINE!" He screamed
  • We attempted to force feed it to him. This resulted in him wearing his medicine on his shirt and all over his face. It was bright pink and slimy, not a good luck. When we force fed him Children's Advil, he was purple-faced; also unattractive.
  • Finally, Wil figured out that the only way to get him to take his medicine was to mix it in chocolate milk. This worked out well.
Unfortunately, Ari wasn't getting better. His cough persisted as did his 102 fever. He was also noticeably lethargic. We were really concerned about him and worried about him transmitting his virus to Samara as well, so Wil took him back to the doctor while I stayed with the baby. He was diagnosed with Secondary Pneumonia, placed on antibiotics and told to rest. I wish I was
there, because I would have said "Have you met my son? He doesn't stop, let alone rest."

Now Samara is congested, spitting up and coughing. We're on our way back to the pediatrician, fun times!

In other news, the transition to having two kids has been challenging, and after crying multiple times every day out of frustration and emotional exhaustion I've made an appointment with a therapist who specializes in Postpartum issues.

Wish me luck with it all! How did you adjust to having two kids?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thomas, A Grinch, and Wilhelm The Assembly Man

My dear friend Ms. Katie Grinch stopped by to meet Samara the other day. Grinchy and I have known each other for 10 years. Wow! When I type that out it feels rather impressive. She works in publishing, so she came bearing exciting books for both Ari and Samara. She also brought a onesie for the baby with her publishing company's logo on it that read "Future Reader."

After she held Samara and hung out with Ari, we decided to go out for a walk, get our eyebrows waxed, and stop in a local toy store to pick up a Thomas Train for Ari. Once we set foot in the store, however, my original plan to purchase one train went out the window. You see, in this particular toy store they have a wooden Thomas train table with an elaborate set up featuring up hill bridges and multiple loop-de-loops.

I asked one of the ladies in the store if they sold the Thomas Train table they have on display.
"Yes, we do! But we also have one from Melissa & Doug which is half the price!" She boasted.

Though I just got my tax refund, I liked the idea of spending less money, so I asked to see if they had the Melissa & Doug train set in stock. While the sales woman went downstairs to check on the train set, I asked Grinchy what she thought about this seemingly extravagant purchase. She said she was along for the ride and we giggled.

The woman arrived back upstairs with a skeptical expression on her face.
"Yeah...the box is pretty heavy. I don't think you guys will be able to carry it home."
Grinchy and I looked at one another confused.

"How heavy is it?" I asked "Can I see it?" I went downstairs to take a look at the box.
First of all, the box was enormous. It was as tall as my refrigerator and when I tried to lift it, my guess is that it was at least 50 lbs.

"There's no way." I told Grinchy when I arrived back upstairs.
" do people get these things home?!" I asked the sales lady.
"Hire a man with a van!" She said, like it was the most logical conclusion out there.

Grinchy and I turned to each other utterly perplexed and slightly amused.

" much is The Thomas Train table again?" I asked

It turned out that Thomas Train table was double the price, but (surprising) came in two over-sized boxes instead of one unmanageable scary box.

"It's going to be hard to carry home," the sales lady said with a frown "why don't you ask your husband to come get it?"

I quickly vetoed that option in my mind. Wil was watching both kids, and I knew that the minute I arrived home I needed him to set the train set up for me. I didn't want to overwhelm the guy.

Grinchy and I looked at one another and determined that we could do this. We each took an enormous box and dragged them to back to my apartment in the snow! When we got there, I called Wil and explained that we really needed his help, I'd gotten Ari a big present. He whined that he was feeding the baby. I told him that he didn't understand how big it was and how much help Grinchy and I needed.

Finally, he agreed to switch places with us. We went upstairs to watch the kids while he took the boxes upstairs. Once he realized what I got for Ari, he began to get excited. In fact, after he assembled the table itself, he ran back to the toy store, got Ari a complete train track set to go with the table, and set it all up! The process took hours, but it was worth it.

Ari is quite pleased with the results. Thank you Grinchy for a wonderful day of eyebrows, conversation, and train lugging.

Thank you babe for assembling Ari's train set!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'll Just Pick

My parents have a joke about food. The story goes that they went out to eat, my dad ordered something, meanwhile (when asked what she wanted) my mom replied:
"I'm not that hungry, I'll just pick."

This meant that she would snack on whatever struck her fancy on my dad's plate.

Whenever I nurse Samara I think about this anecdote. My daughter could happily snack on my boob all day.

She nurses for a minute, then passes out like she's worked an 18 hour shift at a construction site.

What a life! The way she eats is so different from the way Ari used to nurse. He was glued to my boobs, and would have stayed latched on to to one breast for hours. Meanwhile, this young lady is having hors d'oeuvres, taking a breather, coming back for the main course minutes later, taking another short interlude and then demanding creme brulee.

She knows what she wants and she's not afraid to ask for it. I hope she leaves me at least a 20 % tip.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Shoeless Day At The Library

I was at the library today with Ari. I'm not quite sure how we managed to get there. It was treacherous outside with sheets of icy rain and streets that were covered with sleet and snow. Despite the weather, we boarded the train and took it to the library. We arrived at the library and read some books. Ari refused to remove his coat or hat, but happily took off his boots. He stood there in wet socks smiling at me.

"Ari, you have to put your boots on," I said already feeling exhausted.
"NO!" He retorted glaring at me.

Since he was unwilling to put his boots back on by himself, I mentally prepared myself to take matters into my own hands. I grabbed him, while he kicked and screamed, and I attempted to shove his boots onto his feet. But my exhaustion level was so high, that he was easily able to slip out of my grasp. While he was wailing, a mother with her young daughter was sitting next to me on the library floor, staring judgmentally. Meanwhile, I was just trying to clothe my child.

There were a few nannies sitting across from me watching as well. I made eye contact with one and said:
"I just gave birth a week ago, otherwise I would have more energy to deal with this."
"I totally understand." She said.

After another minute of unsuccessful attempts to restrain my child down and "re-shoe" him, another nanny came over to me, knelt down and said:
"Do you need help?"
"YES!" I said "Thank you!"
I restrained him with all the force I had left in me, and this amazing woman came to my rescue.
"You're very strong," She said to Ari "But I'm stronger than you!" And with that she proceeded to swiftly shove his boots onto his feet while he screamed "They're wet!"
"Honey, I know they're wet, but I got news for you, you can't go outside with no shoes on! It's cold!"

I thanked her profusely, we left the library, and he fell asleep on my shoulder on the way home. Thankfully, he had his boots on.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

"I A Baby!"

I was somewhat mentally prepared for Ari to regress once Samara was born. Many people told me tales of how their own children regressed. Some kids used the pacifier after seeing the new baby use one, other children threw tantrums due to the lack of attention being bestowed upon them.

Here's how Ari has been behaving since the arrival of his little sister:
  • He throws monster tantrums
  • He screams "Goo Goo Ga Ga!" When I say to him "Babies say Goo Goo Ga Ga, you're a big boy." He yells back"NO! I a BABY!" I say "Are you a baby because babies get attention?" "Yeah." He replies with his little head down. I hug and kiss him and cry.
  • He says "I miss you mommy." I say, misty eyed, "I miss you too." It is heart-breaking.
  • I tried to buy him a baby doll. Many people suggested this could help him adjust to the new baby. We were in a toy store and I said to him "Look at this baby! This is Ari's baby. Do you want to take this baby home?" "NO!" He replied firmly. I didn't want to force the issue.
  • He hits me when he wants attention. Sometimes I pretend to cry. Generally I say "Why are you hitting me? Do you want attention?" He sheepishly replies "Yeah." "Then say mommy, I want attention." He repeats back to me with my exact intonation "Mommy, I want attention."
Phew! Having two kids is challenging. I wonder if my brother reacted this way when I was born!