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.

Resolutions

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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