Friday, March 16, 2012

Double Trouble

People often comment on the resemblance between Macie and her second cousin Logan. The likeness has occasionally led people to comment that they could be siblings. At just two months apart, Logan and Macie are also developmentally similar. Despite all the common ground between Logan and Macie, they haven’t really shown much interest in one another until recently. Typically they engaged in parallel play, sometimes resorting to minor scuffles over coveted toys. For the past month or so Logan, who is two months older, seemed slightly more interested in Macie, but his interest was not reciprocated. When Logan gave Macie a hug a few weeks ago she pulled away with panic and fear in her eyes. After a few uncomfortable moments in Logan’s well meaning (and absolutely adorable) hug, Macie’s lip jutted into a pout warning us that she was moments away from tears.

This past weekend we got the babies together for another play date and were surprised to find that Macie and Logan not only noticed one another, but actually seemed interested in interacting. After observing an excited and energetic Logan play for a few moments, Macie slowly scooted away from me and started following his lead. It was apparent that Logan was having fun running around on the couch and Macie wanted to join. From that point on their relationship seemed to blossom. Macie or Logan would yell then turn to the other with a huge grin, inviting them to take a turn. Before we knew it they were having a squealing/yelling competition. Although they would get caught up in an individual activity from time to time, Logan and Macie always seemed to go back to each other. At these times they would meet face to face, and we watched with amusement as their verbal and nonverbal exchange took place. All of a sudden one of them would start running and the other followed, engaged in an exciting game of chase.

After this initial bonding took place, Logan started calling Macie’s name to play (so cute). And although she pulled away when he gave her a hug this time, she was certainly not close to tears. Eventually the two started working together to cause mischief, feeding off the energy of the other. At one point Macie tried to get through the doggie gate and into the kitchen, an area that was off limits. Logan walked over, helped her lift the latch, and they both ran excitedly into the kitchen. Logan ran as deep into the room as he could, but Macie held back fairly close to the gate, checking to see my reaction. After realizing that he left a “man” behind, Logan ran back to Macie and pulled her shoulder, encouraging and guiding her towards the off limits territory. Seeing our amused reactions, Macie and Logan started running from one end of the kitchen to the other, daring us with teasing and excited eyes to get them.

This teamwork seemed to seal Macie and Logan’s new friendship. They are truly double trouble. Macie really came out of her shell this past weekend and turned into a wild child in the presence of Logan. For his part, Logan seemed excited to have a partner in crime- someone to help him make mischief. It is highly entertaining to observe this boisterous, unruly side of Macie as she excitedly plays with Logan, her new comrade in arms, and I look forward to watching their relationship continue to develop.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mommy Mimicry

Like it or not, every woman has inherited behaviors from her mother. These learned actions or characteristics are either intentionally taught or unconsciously passed to children through every day modeling. Most women leave childhood with characteristics, values, behaviors, and beliefs learned from their mother- even the things that annoyed them when they were young. Sometimes we are aware of these things, as they have been deliberately ingrained in us by oft taught lessons. However, many of our personal quirks, habits, gestures, and behaviors are those picked up unintentionally by observing our mothers.

I learned many things from my mother- both through her teaching and modeling. Through the intentional lessons I learned, annoyingly, how to be a “lady”. This meant that I learned to be respectful to the people around me, especially my superiors, manners, grooming habits, and that you must wear panty hose in the winter months…I had a hard time with this one growing up and often presently ignore. My mother taught me how to clean the house, how to fold laundry, how to balance a checkbook, and how to mix a good drink J. Both verbally and through modeling, my mother taught me to value hard work, to be strong yet kind, to be a “glass half full” kind of gal, the value of education, and the importance of family. These behaviors, beliefs, and values were all intentionally taught with the goal of making me a “good” person. My conservative, sometimes strict, upbringing helped shape me into the strong-willed, optimistic, successful person I am today. Thank you mom, for these valuable lessons!

On a less sappy note, I also inadvertently picked up a few of my mom’s quirks, much to my chagrin. Apparently, I have replicated her laugh- very loud, very distinct. Another habit I picked up from my mother is her raised eyebrow. It seems that involuntarily, our eyes squint or widen (depending on the situation) and rise in anger, annoyance, or skepticism. Perhaps the most embarrassing behavior I involuntarily mimic is the habit of repeating myself, something she unintentionally learned from her father. This is a very annoying tendency of the people on my mother’s side of the family, one that worsens as we age.

As Macie’s mother, I plan to teach and model many of the same values, behaviors, and beliefs that I learned from my mother. I want Macie to learn to be respectful, strong, and hard working. I want to teach her how to maintain a positive outlook, to be a person who always looks on the bright side. I hope to teach Macie how to be a kind, generous, thoughtful, empathic human being who values family and friendships. I will teach Macie how to clean, cook, manage her money, make plans and set goals. Macie will learn the importance of appearance and personal fitness, as it determines how people view you, but also that intelligence and kindness are much more important than physical appearance. Obviously, there are more lessons that Macie will learn while she is in my care- hopefully more positive than negative.

Although my “laundry list” of things I plan to teach Macie is very long and thought out, I had not considered all the behaviors and habits that Macie will inadvertently learn through observation. It has recently come to my attention that Macie has already started mimicking my actions. The two most entertaining are those that I initially had no idea she learned from me. The first is Macie’s slight Southern drawl, which I blogged about a few months ago. Since Macie started talking, I have been baffled by this lilt and confused about where she may have picked it up. In class a few weeks ago one of my peers pointed out that I have a slight Southern accent in the way I pronounce a few words, especially those with the letters “o” and “u”- apparently I draw out these vowels. In that moment I realized that Macie must have learned this speech pattern from me, which is why she pronounces “dog” slowly so that it sounds like “doawg”. Light bulb! The second noteworthy behavior Macie has picked up from me is the “what” gesture. Also noted in a previous blog, Macie often goes on long, soapbox, rants and uses her hands to further her point. For months she has been doing the “what” gesture (arms in the “v” shape out the side, with wrists bent backward and palms facing upward) to converse. This has been endlessly amusing for me to observe, but I had no idea where she picked up this gesture. At work the other day I had apparently done the “what” gesture and a co-worker noted that I frequently employ this action in conversation. Another light bulb went off. Macie obviously learned this behavior from her mother.

It seems that Macie has become a human mirror of sorts. Through mimicking observed behaviors, Macie has made me very aware of the actions that I am inadvertently teaching her. What’s frightening is that Macie is imitating behaviors that I was unconsciously employing. Parenting has been a very enlightening experience. You learn a lot about yourself in the process- your strengths and weaknesses, your capacity for love, beliefs and values, commitment, etc. Most surprising have been the things I have learned about myself that I never knew. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Eating Dirt

Last week Macie and I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather and spent as much time outside as possible. When the temperature rises above 45 degrees in February in St. Louis, let alone the glorious and unexpected 60 degrees we experienced, you see a lot of pale, exposed skin as people rush outside to enjoy the weather while it lasts. In our celebration of the outdoors, Macie and I divided our time between the park, our yard, and walking along the neighborhood sidewalks. Other parents must have had the same idea, as there were plenty of children playing outside at the park and in our neighborhood. We even took a family trip to the St. Louis Zoo to wander the vast park and watch the animals sunbathe.

One of our trips to the park stands out in my memory, as it involved some very cute toddlers eating rocks. As mentioned in previous blogs, Macie LOVES the rock pit at the park. We usually spend a significant amount of time in this section, as Macie sorts, dumps, and shuffles the bacteria ridden, filthy rocks. Each time we leave this section Macie’s nails are lined with dirt, making me wish I could bathe her in antibacterial hand sanitizer….I just got a chill thinking about her disgusting nails. I digress.
Despite my loathing of these rocks, I hunkered down to play. Observing Macie filling my hands with rocks, two toddler boys decided to join us. They were apparently drawn to the novelty of a big person sitting in the rocks like a child and wanted to take part in this game. Suddenly I had three toddlers piling rocks into my hands, while I smiled and encouraged their game. This was much more entertaining to these little tykes than I thought possible.

While we played their mothers smiled and warned their children not to eat the rocks. Inwardly I scoffed, thinking that Macie would never eat rocks and that I was lucky not to have to deal with that….dirt under the nails is bad enough. Within a matter of minutes I witnessed one of the boys shove a whole handful of rocks into his mouth. I quickly notified his mother and she frantically scrapped the rocks out, scolded him, and steered him away from the rocks. Macie continued playing after this incident and I counted my blessings that Macie wasn’t inclined to put random things in her mouth.

After Macie’s nap we went back outside to play. After kicking and throwing her pink ball for a few minutes, Macie grew bored and wandered over to the flower bed. Unfortunately, my child always seems to gravitate to the dirt….she likes to get her hands dirty and explore her environment. As usual, Macie started digging in the dirt and mulch, inspecting each piece as if it was a unique specimen. I glanced at my phone for a moment and when I looked up Macie’s mouth was covered in dirt. Repulsed, I dropped my phone and ran to her, attempting to wipe away the dirt and grime. Macie wriggled and wormed her way out of my grip, annoyed that I was holding her up and unconcerned about the potential bacteria she had just ingested.

At that moment I realized that karma is vengeful. Guess what- my child eats dirt, too. That’s what I get for being smug and thinking my child was better when in reality she is just like every other dirt loving, exploratory toddler. Which is a good thing I guess- at least she is developmentally normal, right? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Macie's Little Helper

Most people have a go to person when they have a question, need advice, or assistance. Staples has an “Easy Button” to assist customers in purchasing office supplies. Medical companies advertise “help” buttons for the elderly- particularly those that have fallen and can’t get up. When you are in the hospital and need a nurse you simply push a button, which is usually code for “I need more drugs- NOW”. If you are backed against the edge of a cliff by a supervillian seeking to steal your innate knowledge of nuclear energy you can call on Superman to save you (happens more often than you might think).  

At 18 months, I am Macie’s go to person, her guru, liason, mediator, helper, assistant, etc. When she needs help finding her cuddle puppy she calls for “maaam” to help her search. When Macie wants a diaper put on her baby doll she calls for “maaam” to do her bidding. After preparing a pretend batch of scrambled eggs in her play kitchen, Macie calls for “maaam” to sample her dish. If Macie’s sippy cup is out of reach on the kitchen table she reaches and calls for “maaam” to hand it to her. When she wants to go outside or downstairs Macie calls for “maaam” to open the necessary doors.

In addition to calling for me when she needs something, Macie also yells “maaam” in order to track me down. Like sonar, she calls my name until she determines my location. If I step into another room she yells “maaam” until I respond or she finds me. If she is with daddy at a store and I step away for a moment she yells “maaam” until I come back into sight. When Macie finds me she breaks into a monologue (complete with hand gestures, raised eyebrows, and wide eyes) explaining what she was doing and her purpose for seeking me out. At least, that’s my interpretation of what she says…Macie is difficult to understand when she goes into soapbox mode. It’s like listening to someone speak another language fluently. Even if you speak the language, native speakers talk so rapidly that you usually only understand a handful of key words- enough to get an idea of what was said, but not the whole story.

Lately Macie enjoys just yelling “maaam” randomly, with no clear purpose other than seeking a response. At these times we are often within close proximity of each other. Still, she yells “maaam” and looks me straight in the eye, expecting an immediate response. When I respond by asking “what?”, Macie excitedly grins and calls my name again. Once I realize that Macie is playing a game, I start responding by calling back “Macie”. This scenario continues until Macie is distracted by something else or I grow weary and stop responding.

As you can see, Macie definitely wears my name out. Although hearing “maaam” yelled all day long is annoying at times, I enjoy my position as Macie’s go to person. There may come a time when I will be the last person Macie goes to for advice, especially when she hits the teenage years. Therefore, I am going to relish the important role I play in Macie’s life while she still appreciates me J. I hope that Macie will always consider me an advisor and resource and come to me whenever she is in need….just maybe in a less obnoxious way.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

18 Months

Thanks to Jill Shadden, In the Moment Photography, for taking these adorable photos of Macie Kate! My baby is getting so big :). Happy 18 months to my gorgeous, precocious, HAPPY little girl!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Aye Aye, Captain Macie!

It’s no secret that Macie thinks she is the boss. The jury is still out concerning how Macie will handle this position of power- will she be a benevolent leader or a reckless tyrant? Only time will tell what kind of person Macie will be, but one thing is certain- she enjoys exhibiting her role of power in pretend play. Macie started pretend play with her baby dolls a few months ago, but now that she is a year and a half old the pretend play has become more imaginative. One of her favorite games involves pretending to be a ship Captain. For Christmas Grandma Ann bought her a slide with faux stone sides, turrets, and a spoked steering wheel. The faux stone sides and turrets make it great for castle play, but the wheel makes for great ship play. Right now Macie prefers to pretend the slide is a ship, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we switch to castle play (probably around 3-4 when she will inevitably become obsessed with princess play).

In her ship captain game, Macie scurries up the faux rock steps to the slide landing (i.e. her ship) with a huge, playful grin. Once at the top she looks me in the eye and shouts “ae, ae”, prompting me to salute her formally. At Macie’s request, I dutifully shout “aye aye, Captain Macie” and salute her with zeal. Delighted with my response, Macie giggles enthusiastically and gets to work vigorously spinning her spoked steering wheel. Once at the helm, I ask Macie where she might like to visit and suggest destinations. Lately we have “visited” Spain, Ireland, Greece, Denmark, France, Australia, Hawaii, and Mexico. Once we cross the ocean and land is in sight we come up with an activity or task. For example, we have rescued a stranded puppy from a remote island (one of her stuffed animals), gone horseback riding on the beach (her rocking horse), and rode ATVs (her mini-four-wheeler) to explore the local wilderness. Throughout this game, Macie’s enthusiasm and attitude remind me of Pippi Longstocking- confident, adventurous, intelligent, self reliant, and strong. Like Pippi, Macie is a fantastic sailor who prefers life at sea to the dull constraints of life on land.

After about 20 minutes or so Macie looses interest in being a ship Captain and moves onto something else, but we play this game at least 4 times a week- always at Macie’s request.  I will continue to encourage creative pretend play because it allows Macie to use her imagination. In addition to playing ship Captain, Macie also enjoys cooking and caring for her babies. When playing with her babies I encourage Macie to pretend she is a doctor (she has a stethoscope, thermometer, and medicine dispenser) as well as mother. When cooking I encourage Macie to respond to the flavors and we talk about the different types of food she can make and why. I want Macie to be exposed to all life situations- including everyday life (like cooking and caring for children), career  (doctor, chef, vet), and adventure/traveling (ship Captain, exploring the wilderness).  After all, the goal is to help Macie become a thoughtful, creative, and resourceful adult so that she can have a fulfilled, happy life. I believe that pretend play is a great way to start Macie down that path…and we both have fun in the process J

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday Funday

I have a love/hate relationship with Sundays. Typically, Sundays are a day for cleaning the house, grocery shopping, catching up on homework, and preparing for the week ahead. Since I have been on winter break from class, I have enjoyed Sundays much more, as they have been pretty lazy in this household. Today is my final Sunday on break, as class starts on Tuesday night L. Therefore, today was my final “Sunday Funday”. My house is strewn with baby toys, the kitchen sink is brimming with dishes, and the dirty laundry has not even made it into the washing machine. I know I will pay for my laziness tomorrow, when I have to confront the massive amount of housekeeping resulting from a weekend of laziness, but for now I am enjoying my final hours of zero productivity.

This Sunday Funday started with a morning trip to Sullivan to visit my twin sister and her new puppy, Sasha. Macie loves dogs, so I figured she would enjoy playing with a puppy- much more her size than our dog Gunner. While Macie showed some interest in the adorable Sasha, she was much more concerned with keeping close to my side…or on my lap. Macie is always much more clingy and shy when we are away from home, and this morning was no exception. After a while she warmed up and my “leash” became shorter, as she no longer demanded to sit directly on my lap, but she was still insistent that we stay in the same room. Spending time with Macie around other people is a pleasant reminder how important I am to my toddler, who is going through an annoyingly independent streak. After this morning’s excursion Macie continued with her “mommy’s girl” behavior and she showered me with hugs and affection for the remainder of the day. Nothing makes a parent feel more special than displays of affection from their child.

Unfortunately, Macie napped on the way home, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I left Sullivan at 10:30, hoping to feed Macie lunch when we got home and then immediately put her down for a nap so I could enjoy some childfree “me” time on my final Sunday Funday. Well, the 30-45 minutes that Macie napped on the way home seemed to sustain her for the rest of the day. Despite my three attempts at lulling her to sleep, she was in and out of her crib until 2:30, which is when I gave up. I figured that Macie would just cry a bit and go right to sleep. I wish. Each of the three times I put her down I ended up back in her room a short while later, as she was laughing and babbling in her crib. The last time I got her out of the crib, I walked in on her dancing and singing. It was hilarious! When she saw me she just grinned even bigger and danced more vigorously. Even though the time period between 12:00 and 3:00 was frustrating due to Macie’s lack of nap (and, therefore, my lack of nap), her energy and enthusiasm was very endearing.
Macie’s silly behavior continued for the rest of the evening. Perhaps the best part of the day was during Macie’s bath. She was babbling, dancing, and giggling so much that I just had to get the video camera out to capture all the cuteness. As weird as this sounds, I often get video of Macie in the bathtub because it is the only time she is really contained in a fairly small space for any period of time. In response to my prompts, I got Macie to say please (“pease"), meow like a cat, roar like a lion, pat her belly, say “shh”, point to her head, and say “bye bye”. My mouth hurt, I was so grinning so much, so I decided to play back the video for another chuckle. As soon as the recording started, Macie began responding to my prompts all over again. It was the funniest thing ever- Josh and I were crying we were laughing so hard, which encouraged Macie to act even sillier.

Macie is finally sleeping peacefully in her bed, so now it’s back to enjoying the last few hours of my last lazy Sunday. I plan to grab a glass of wine, turn on crappy TV, and put my up my feet. Tomorrow it is back to usual- work, cleaning my mess of a house, and preparing for class L. At least I enjoyed the break while it lasted.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Emergency Room Rant

When I picked Macie up from daycare on Tuesday afternoon her eyes were red-rimmed and teary. Apparently, Macie had just been throwing a fit in the highchair because she was not released from her confinement the instant she finished eating. Encountering the same types of tantrums at home, I was satisfied with Pam’s explanation of her tear stained face. After taking a closer look, I noticed that Macie’s left eye was more swollen, moist, and droopy than her right eye. Still, I figured that the redness, swollen, and wet eyes would clear up by the time we made it home. As I pulled onto our street Macie burst into tears and was furiously rubbing her left eye. Once inside the house I immediately became suspicious that my child had contracted pink eye, as it has been spreading rampantly around the local school districts (and my babysitter has three school aged children). With this in mind, I called the pediatrician’s office and left a message for the phone nurse, expecting to have to go in for a check up the following morning. From time to time Macie’s face would change to an expression of pain; she would close her left eye, and start screaming her head off. After describing Macie’s symptoms to the phone nurse, she insisted that Macie needed to be seen by a doctor that evening. Since their office was minutes from closing, we were forced to make a trip to the Emergency Room.

Luckily, the phone nurse called ahead to notify Children’s Hospital that we were coming, which decreased our wait time. But there have been times when we have had to wait for at least an hour and a half to be taken back to a room. This time we only had to wait about 20 minutes and we were in and out of the hospital within an hour and a half. The worst part was when Macie cried from the pain/burning in her eye L. The doctor immediately ruled out pink eye or another infection because her eyes were clear of residue. After completing a dye test on her left eye, it was determined that Macie had an abrasion, or scratch, on her cornea. The doctor proscribed us an antibiotic ointment for Macie’s eye and sent us on our way.

All in all, this was probably the least stressful and shortest E.R. visit we have had to date (we’ve had about five in total with Macie). Although there are a handful of good things about the Emergency Room, I always feel like I am being ripped off when I have to take my child. Seriously. The things we have had to take her for (always at a phone nurse’s recommendation) could have been treated at her pediatrician’s office had they been open. Who likes to spend $250 when you could have spent $20 for the same exact service? Going to the E.R. when you could have gone to the pediatrician’s office is like paying $6 versus $20 for a burger and fries.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not entirely hating on the Emergency Room. I appreciate that the E.R. is open at all times and that the doctors and nurses are always friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable even though they are working the worst shift and have been up for an unnatural number of consecutive hours. It is an excellent fall back for true medical emergencies and those extreme cases justify the high cost of service. Unfortunately, I do not categorize the things we have had to take Macie for as true medical emergencies that only a trained E.R. staff can handle. My pediatrician’s office, were they open, would have had no difficulty diagnosing and treating Macie the handful of times we have been sent to the E.R. in the middle of the night. Overall, the burdensome cost, long wait, and germy hospital visits were not justified by the medical treatment Macie required.

Surely there has to be an alternative to the Emergency Room for children needing medical treatment around the clock. Adults can go to a Urgent Care facility and pay just $50 to be seen by a doctor in the wee hours. Yes, this is about $25 more than we pay to see our pediatrician, but significantly less than the whopping $250 E.R. visit. Surely there has to be a similar place to take children that doesn’t cost such an overwhelming amount. Maybe I should talk to my pediatrician about this….?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

'Tis the Season

The holidays are officially over and the New Year has begun. Below is a brief recap of how we spent the past two weeks.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas….

We all know the famous children’s poem detailing the peaceful night before Christmas. Before all the hullaballoo of gift opening and socializing, most children are resting up for the big day and dreaming about the toys Santa left them. Not the case in my house. I tweaked the first line of the poem based on our Christmas Eve:

‘Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house,
all creatures were stirring,
except for my spouse.

Seriously. Macie had just broken out into the rash phase of Roseola Virus (at least it wasn’t the high fever she had a few days before) and her sleep schedule was fairly off. Unfortunately, Macie woke up crying at 2:00 a.m. and I had to rock her back to sleep while my husband slept- oblivious to Macie’s tears. After a few stressful days of interrupted sleep, we started our Christmas morning fairly groggy. When Macie woke up later that morning (6:00 a.m.), she was grumpy, on the verge of tears, and refused to relinquish her pacifier. Needless to say, our little family looked pretty fatigued in all of our Christmas photos.

Lazy Days

I was fortunate enough to have the week between Christmas and New Years off work, so I took the opportunity to be truly lazy. I responded to email and talked to my boss a few times, but that’s about it work-wise. After spending the previous week taking care of a sick baby, I was sick and fatigued myself (go figure). Therefore, I did very little productive work and certainly no writing. I cleaned my house, put away Christmas d├ęcor, read a few books, watched some crappy TV, worked out, and took care of Macie. That’s about it. It was glorious! I went back into the office today refreshed and ready to work, which made for a very productive day.

Rockin’ New Years Eve

Traditionally, New Years Eve is a huge party night- it’s basically a drunken fest. Each year my family and friends look forward to spending the night out, toasting to new beginnings. Most of my friends had plans, including those with children, even if it was just to hang out with other parents and their children. Although we have celebrated the New Year in the past, Josh and I rarely make a huge production of the evening, as we avoid being out on the road with all the intoxicated drivers. This year was even less thrilling than usual. Josh had to work an afternoon shift (2-11) so it was just Macie and me- two ladies out on the town J. As a treat, I rented Kung Fu Panda 2, thinking Macie would really enjoy the movie. Not so much- I paused and restarted the movie so many times that we ended up missing most of the plot. We spent most of the night playing in the basement playroom- I watched as Macie fed and bathed her baby, “cooked” some food, and rode her four-wheeler. Be jealous- it was awesome. After she went to bed I poured a glass of champagne, channel surfed, and was in bed and asleep by 8:30 p.m. Don’t judge, I still had to wake up at 6:00 a.m. the next day with an energetic toddler. Needless to say, it was a pretty wild and crazy night.


1. Join the local mommy social group and actually participate.
2. Maintain my weight loss (maybe even loose a few more pounds).
3. Continue to spend time each day teaching Macie new words and actions.
4. Muster the energy to finish my M.A. (this May can’t come fast enough).
5. Finally go on a family vacation.
6. Learn more about photography. 

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