Friday, May 30, 2008


It's funny, the past year or so, Andy has been so sociable and fun that I've been getting away from having a strict bedtime for him. It was just so easy to stay out a little later because it didn't seem to back up on him the way it did when he was little (meaning he didn't melt down). Plus, it was more fun for us to stay out later. Then the terrible threes hit. He started giving up his afternoon nap and he began throwing temper tantrums and really pushing my buttons. I've been reading up on how to deal the temper tantrums, but I also read that an earlier bedtime might help. Both those together has made for a much more agreeable kid, which means we're all having more fun (him included).

Meg has also developed a bedtime this week. If I pick her up from Ayesha's around 5:15-5:30, I take her home, feed her, give her a bath and put her down about 7 p.m., she can actually sleep, sometimes waking up once in the middle of the night and occasionally not waking up until morning. It's such a change to have both kids in bed by 8 p.m. I actually have time after they go to bed to eat dinner, do laundry, or, gasp, even do some work. It's nice having a little predictability and time for myself (knock wood, of course.)

What sucks about this earlier bedtime is we really have to be disciplined about not staying out too late. And by too late, I mean 6 p.m. It's a trade off because being home that early sucks in terms of not getting to enjoy our time out, but on the other hand, getting everyone to home and in bed before they're exhausted means the evening goes much more smoothly for everyone.

Meanwhile, instead of our regular summer party this year, we're having Meg's baptism and having a handful of folks over afterwards for lunch. I was so proud of myself. I made invitations and everything, no Evite. The problem is I forgot to tell everyone the service starts at 11 a.m. Or that the church is on Braddock Road. That's right, I am a communications/publications type person and I can't even get the who, what, where, when and why right. D'oh.

P.S. Chris, we got our FiOS and it rocks. They came on time, cleaned up after themselves and everything works. Apparently Verizon likes Kings Park West better than Kings Park. Go figure.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Baby Bjorn

See this picture? She looks like her father here, doesn't she? We have a picture in our hallway from when Bjorn was probably nine months old and the resemblance is striking.
Poor baby has a bit of a cold right now that is clogging up her tear ducts, making her eyes all goopy. Since she was a newborn she has gone through periods when her eyes would start to water and fill up with green goop. While ugly, it wasn't hurting anything except my pride that she's not a beautiful as she could be.
The eyes got goopy a few days ago and followed by a runny nose, a cough and her waking up twice a night for two nights. Fearing a sinus infection, I took her to the doctor who, brilliantly, has walk-in hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The diagnosis is a cold that is affecting her sinuses and perhaps exacerbating the blocked tear ducts. I'm relieved -- no ear infection, no sinus infection, just a regular cold.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Daycare update

The test run went well yesterday at the new babysitter. Meg was with her for about four hours. She took one good nap in the morning and was sleeping in Ayesha's arms when I arrived. I sat with her and watched and talked for another couple of hours and we agreed Meg will start on Tuesday. This lady is very nice, has two kids of her own in school and seemed very welcoming and flexible.

I have calmed down considerably from my freak out. My sister recommended making a list and I did. Turns out that helps a lot. I also need to keep reminding myself that I'm looking for a babysitter, not an adoptive family. Meg is going to be looked after just a few hours a week, it's not boarding school.

I've been grateful for all the support from friends like you guys and others. In a few days, I've lined up short-term several alternatives, including Andy's old babysitter and a college kid who could work a few weeks before starting a job. It's a relief to know that other options exist. I'm also intrigued by the nanny/au pair idea. Anyone have a good experience with that?

P.S. I updated the pictures on Flickr. There are some funny ones, including Andy helping Bjorn build a gate -- in his underwear naturally. I also caught some of Meg smiling.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daycare drama

Ugh. Where to start. I put Meg and Andy in the same daycare last week. It's one friends have gone to for years so it came recommended. It had the added advantage of being close by and being a place that would accommodate both kids.

When Andy was a baby, he went to a in-home daycare, basically a babysitter that watches several kids out of her home. I found her through an agency that regulates these types of daycares locally and I liked what I saw. It wasn't perfect, but she was nice, kind and good to Andy. The thing I didn't like about it was that it was out of a home, and thus I couldn't pop in at a moment's notice without barging through the door to really to see what was happening. I felt like I didn't really know what he did all day and that worried me, but every day, he came home happy and fed.

The good part was as he got older, we never had an issue of separation anxiety. He was always happy to see her, which made it easier for me (turns out, in many ways this is all about ME). I still went through periods of worrying (I like to worry, it turns out), but generally it was a good experience. After two years, the time came when I was ready for him to have more of a preschool experience with other kids, art projects, etc. so we switched shortly after his second birthday.

When looking for care for Meg, I was really focusing on something that would have both kids. That was mostly for my convenience, but I liked the idea that he could tell me what she couldn't. Turns out in a center, the classes don't mingle at all so they never saw each other. It also turns out in a room full of babies, someone is always crying, often lots of someones. And with so many babies, they had to leave the lights on. It seemed Meg was coming home tired from not napping all day. The final straw was when I went in Monday and she was crying, well, wailing. She had actually gotten past protest crying, past mad crying to that sad exhausted crying. To be fair, she had spit up her entire lunch and seemed to have a tummy ache, but the chaos that was in there made me very uncomfortable. I panicked. I sat with her for about 20 minutes calming her down and I watched the room. I didn't like it any better as I sat. She seemed exhausted so I took her home. And cried. A lot.

I talked to my friends, I talked to Bjorn, I talked to my boss, I talked to my family and after obsessing for two days, I decided to take her out of there. It's probably fine, but at the end of the day, I decided that my gut was telling me it wasn't right for us and I'm going to try to listen to it.

I'm now back to researching in-home providers, that's right, exactly what I said I didn't want. The advantages I'm finding are the one caregiver aspect, the home setting, the idea that someone might love my baby close to as much as I do. The downside, of course, is there's less oversight and it involves trusting one person with my precious baby. I know, obsess much?

After calling around, I found a nice woman in my neighborhood (conveniently located between Andy's school and home) who is licensed, caring, has a nice family and a clean home. It felt more like if I was leaving Meg at my sister's house than an institution. She listened to me when we talked about what I'd like for Meg and she comforted my neuroses and was nice when I teared up a little (I know, I'm a HUGE dork, but that's not really a surprise). We're trying it out tomorrow to see if we like each other.

I swear, this parenting shit is hard. I just want their to be a right answer, you know, rather than a ton of possible answers, all of which are kind of right and you have to figure out the one that's most right. It's like the reason I don't like crossword puzzles -- it's not like a true/false statement, rather the question is, "Name a Kentucky Derby winner" and you have to find the one that's 16 letters rather than just naming the 2008 winner.

Empty nest

Mark's room after he left.

His apartment from the outside. It's a four-plex of four bedroom, two bath apartments.

Mark in his shower. This is probably the cleanest it will ever be.

His bedroom, which is actually rather large.

The kitchen with the washer and dryer off to the right here.

Looking through the kitchen to the living room.

So Mark is gone, off to Old Dominion University and out of the house. I knew it was coming. I think we were all ready (well, he was probably most ready). All the same, it's totally weird with him gone. The noises I hear in the kitchen aren't him coming in, but most likely a cat or Andy sneaking out of bed. His room is empty. Really empty as he took the bed, desk, dresser, chair, lamp and nightstand with him. Considering he really wasn't around that much what with school, the gym, reffing and general carousing, I am surprised by how weird is it to know he's gone. On the positive side, the food in my refrigerator seems to last a lot longer.

In other news, I'm having serious second thoughts about Meg's day care and I'm actively seeking other options. I'll post more on this later once I fully wrap my mind around what I want to do.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Week of firsts

Lots of things happened last week, I can't really believe it all fell in the same week.

  • Meg went to school/daycare for the first time.
  • Andy went to his new school for the first time.
  • I went back to work for the first time since Meg was born.
  • I had my first night away from Meg, going to New York for work this week.
  • Mark moved to Virginia Beach, taking with him all his furniture and leaving a fairly empty room.
  • Bjorn drove to Virginia Beach to give Mark his car (Mark drove in the U-Haul).
  • Bjorn took the Amtrak regional train back (which was 2 1/2 hours late).
  • Andy got his first sinus/ear infection since getting ear tubes in December.
  • Andy started antibiotics (augmenten) for the first time since he had ear tubes.
  • Bjorn had a work meeting this weekend for a start-up he's helping with.

Is that all? No wonder I'm tired.

P.S. I added a few new pictures onto Flickr. I can't figure out how to start a totally new set and have it appear on the right so right now I'm just adding to the old set. If you know how to change that, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


My cousin John got his Ph.D. this past weekend in Pittsburgh and the rest of the Dean cousins celebrated later in Virginia. Unlike the older generation though, we celebrated with red wine and not Scotch and cigarettes.


Andy has discovered that it's fun to make his baby sister smile. She's not the only one that loves it, it makes me melt watching it. Let's just hope he continues to find this entertaining and doesn't move on to smacking her with toys to see her reaction.

Monday, May 12, 2008


So the first day back at work was today. I was a nervous nelly all weekend (not that I like to obsess or anything) only to wake up at 5 a.m. to both kids awake and wanting to play. I fed Meg and let her talk herself back to sleep in her crib and let Andy "read" with his light on so I could sort of sleep from 6:15 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. All that combined made me a little emotional. Andy was great at the drop off. He was a little shy, but went into his room without crying. Meg did well, too, although she did give me a little frown as if to say, "Why are you doing this?" Thanks, kid.

I jumped right into work, which was good to keep me from obsessing some more except for everyone asking me how I was doing. I know people mean well, but it made it an effort not to cry. I checked in around noon and Meg had slept and was drinking a bottle and Andy was in new clothes, having had a poopy accident that morning. I left work around 3:00 p.m., delighted that it took me only 15 minutes to get to their school. Andy was just up from not taking a nap and having a snack. He whined that he didn't want to leave, that he wanted to play. Bugger. Meg was also peacefully asleep in her crib. Her teachers reported that she was a great baby and very happy with no crying. Oh, and that she was really cute, too.

Once home, Andy went upstairs to rest and promptly fell asleep giving me some time with Meg. She's just cuter, more alert and interactive every day. It's sure hard to leave them every day, but I'll admit I liked the break and talking with adults. I may think differently when things get super busy in a few weeks, but today was a decent day.

In other news, it rained 7 inches at Dulles Airport yesterday and the area is just one big wet, sloppy kiss. This is on top of four inches of rain we got last week. Lots of folks lost power due to tree roots loosening and falling onto power lines and there is a ton of flooding that caused many schools to close. Wacky.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dry run

Since I'm going back to work on Monday, I took the kids to their new daycare/school yesterday. I went in the morning after the morning drop-off rush and stayed a little over an hour. First Andy and I met Meg's teachers in the baby room. He and I were nervous, she was oblivious and everyone was very nice. After we spent some time introducing Meg around, seeing her crib and talking with her teachers, we left her for a bit to go see his new classroom. He's starting in the two-year-old room for now. He's already three, of course, but we know two other kids in that class already and we thought it would be an easier transition that way. Plus, he's not 100 percent potty trained yet and thought this class might be less pressure until he's ready.

He was pretty clingy as we went into the room. He brightened up once they started singing some songs. It was then time for a snack and they were having cupcakes in honor of one child's last day. Once Andy got a brown cupcake, he was feeling pretty good about the place. After talking to his teachers for a while, I left him to eat his cupcake and go talk to Meg's teachers one on one. He was nervous, but I promised to be back in a few minutes. After I got to know Meg's teachers, who seemed very nice and to really love babies, and got everything ready for Monday, I came back to collect Andy. By then, he was jumping and playing on the mats with the other kids and wasn't ready to go. I think that bodes well.

Monday is going to be tough, but I think I'm ready. I hope.

Friday, May 09, 2008


Congratulations are in order for Mark, who has been accepted at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., for fall 2008. I know he's ready to go, but it's sure going to be weird without him around.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Religion may make you sick

We went to meet with the pastor yesterday at the Methodist church to talk about Meg's baptism. We're very occasional churchgoers, but it seems that baptism is one of those things that you need to do for your kids. We had a 5:30 p.m. appointment at St. Stephen's so all four of us went. Meg had been a bit fussy in the afternoon. She needed a nap, but had trouble settling down so she was a little cranky when we got there.

As we sat down, the pastor was going over the vows of baptism, basically saying that as adults bringing a child for baptism, we needed to commit to bringing out kids to church. I gave my excuses and he was kind about it, and then explained that with kids, there is almost always a good reason not to do it and if you keep up with that, that suddenly the children are grown and you realize you never took them to church. He gave the message without a real lecture, which I was afraid of.

During the discussion, I'd been giving Meg a bottle. She kept complaining when I tried to take it away and with the awkwardness in the room, I didn't force her to stop and burp like I might have at home. Bad idea. After she finished her bottle, she let out a really loud burp. And then proceeded to upchuck the entire bottle all over me, the chair and the floor. Charming. We then felt even more awkward about the whole thing and while the pastor was gracious, his personality isn't one to make a joke and relieve the tension or anything. After that, I had to sit through another 15 minutes of discussion with spit up all over my shirt and hair. And they say motherhood isn't glamorous.

In other news, there was an earthquake with an epicenter in Annandale, Virginia, yesterday, which is a few miles from here. How random is that? I totally felt it, too. I was home with Andy asleep and Meg on my bed when I heard a boom and the house shook. It freaked me out. It felt like something had exploded in the basement because it was definitely the whole house shaking for a second and it wasn't just on one side. I looked outside to see if they were doing any work on the streets and didn't see anything. The kids didn't notice, but the cats were a little freaked out.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Andy has been having good luck making poop on the toilet (sorry, Internet, I'm looking for better ways to say it, but damn, this post is all about crap so cute phrases are not going to work here). The cool thing about it, other than not having to change dirty diapers, is how supportive our world has been about this. Last week at playgroup at the library, he said he had to go poop, we went to the bathroom and, sure enough, he went. When we went back inside, he proudly told the room and everyone cheered. It made him feel great. And today at his grandmother's, he went again and she rewarded him with a cheerful high five and some ice cream. It was perfect. He loves the sweet rewards of ice cream and popsicles, but I think he likes the cheers from everyone else almost as much.

The exciting news is that he didn't have a dirty diaper all weekend. I take that back, he did mostly poop in his underpants at the toy store only to catch himself 3/4 of the way through and finish on the toilet. Once he was done, he proudly declared he wanted ice cream for pooping on the toilet. I didn't get into it, but does he deserve a reward for that? I still had to rinse out his underwear in the bathroom sink and without a spare handy, he went commando until we got home. And while him going on the toilet is somewhat cleaner, I do find I still have to help pretty significantly with the wiping part which can be just as gross as changing a diaper.

In other news, Bjorn's darling cousins are visiting from Sweden. Don't you love this picture of everyone with their eyes closed? (There are a few better ones that I added to Flickr, but this cracked me up.) It's been fun seeing them and they came bearing cool Swedish gifts, including an awesome Elsa Beskow book for Andy in Swedish that will certainly help me piece together a few more words. They also brought blue and yellow hats. Can you tell?

Friday, May 02, 2008

New pictures

I have uploaded some new pictures onto Flickr on the sidebar. Enjoy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Last day

Today was Andy's last day at his old school. It hit me when I woke up this morning, that the transition I put in place is all leading up to one thing -- going back to work. I'm ready on one level, terrified on another. Meg is becoming more adorable every day (especially when she sleeps through the night). When I go in most mornings, she looks up at me, smiles and kicks her legs. It's so precious and in some ways so simple. No negotiating about clothes or food, just a simple smile of welcome. Granted, she can't hug me and say I love you, but she also can't declare that she's not my friend yet. Meg and I have come a lot way together in the last three months (well, nine months and three months). It's sort of hard to believe we're here already.

On another front, I've been reading up on strategies for outsmarting Andy's annoying behavior of whining, crying, arguing and temper tantrum throwing. The book by Thomas Phelan Magic 1-2-3 was recommended and I'm going to give his strategies a shot. The basic premise is that while these kids can talk, they are not adults and you therefore can't reason with them on behavior. Instead, if they act up, give them a count of three to act right and then it's time for time out. No discussion and no arguing. The other part that rang true is keeping my emotions in check so that I'm not having a temper tantrum back at him. I'll keep you posted as to whether it works.

Meanwhile, I pulled out the high chair and put it in the kitchen so Meg can watch what's going on. She seemed to like it, especially Andy smiling at her, until I took the picture. The face captured here really cracks me up. I have taken a lot of cute pictures lately that I'm going to get up to Flickr soon.