Monday, June 24, 2013

A tiny, little change

Since I'm not working, I thought, "Heck, maybe I should try to write more," and with that I'm moving my blog to WordPress.  The new platform will enable me to do more (well, that's Matt's promise, and I'm not sure what that means, and I'm not at all technical, so....yeah).   It's still a work in progress but if using the URL please point your browser to simply going forward.

As always, it's a marvel and a gift that anyone reads this little blog, and for that I'm very appreciative - thank you.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

We are all in this together.

We are all in this together.

That's what I want to shout (beg? sob?) when I see a mom giving me looks as my kid misbehaves.  Today I had a woman - older, probably raised perfect little angels - actually put her hands over her ears, shoot me a "Get your act together, mom" look as Annie shouted-out in the grocery store ( was more of an undignified "You will let me eat this bagel right now you witchy woman!' shriek...but lady, let's abandon the histrionics).

And again today: the children's section of the library has a toddler / young child computer station - lots of little games where you color pictures in with a mouse, or practice matching, numbers, clicking, all of that.  Of course, Annie is smitten with it, and I abhor those colorful keyboards and the monitors that beckon with Elmo and ducks and kittens. The point of the library is to get away from that sort of stuff (due to me, she is now obsessed with Sesame Street and she has forever been in love with our laptops and cellphones).  I want her to read - digest - and not just sit in front of a screen, but I oblige for a bit (if only to avoid a meltdown and for me to grab a few books from the kiddie stacks). So there she was, sitting there on her own while I was about 15 feet away, thinking she's hot stuff and clicking on nothing in particular when she starts yelling, "Daaaad!  Daaaaaad!"  (Of course.)  A mom, regaled in an (organic cotton, I'm sure) Ergo Carrier (it's like a baby Bjorn but even  more expensive, and no, we don't have one) looks at Annie, looks at me, proceeds to roll her eyes and shake her head.  When gathering her toddler, who asked to use the computers, she said, "No, we don't use those honey," very pointedly.  And I know I sound bitter, and defensive, and all of that, but get off your damn high horse lady.  Take your attachment parenting self, your cloth diapers, and your holier-than-thou behavior to the Whole Foods and just quit it.  (Disclaimer: I have nothing against cloth diapers - we used ourselves for several months - and attachment parenting...well, only when it's used for evil.)

We are all just trying our best.  I have an 18-month-old who is (true to form) testing her (and her parents') limits and finding her voice, and yeah, she drives me over the edge at times, but I try to be respectful (we left the library shortly after Annie had a mini-tantrum when I said she had to abandon the computers).  Matt and I want nothing more than to raise a well-behaved child, but there will be outbursts  and absolutely, I will sit her front of the screen to get something done.  And I would never admonish the woman who has a screeching toddler - sympathy and support all around - because these kids are f'in nuts.

I've just been noticing - of course, not from all - but some parents my own little version of the "mommy wars" among the stay-at-home bunch.  These women be cray, yo.  It's like when I flipped open the latest issue of Kiwi magazine (the magazine for "raising kids the healthy and organic way!"...yeah, I know....that was my first mistake) and saw a column about how to make your little one's party more healthy for the planet and a woman wrote in who was absolutely perplexed how she could go green as her kid is asking for a party at the local bowling alley.  (I mean, the horror.)  The response from the columnist was something like, "This is the perfect opportunity to educate the staff at the bowling alley what going green really means...indicate you do not want disposable serving ware, etc etc".  NO JOKE.  Oh, the GULL.  This is what I hate.  Please, yes, let's lecture the employee at the bowling alley (who is probably not making a living wage) on how Atticus' party will be green (their names are always Atticus or something in that vein, too).  

I bring stuff like this up to Matt (who completely agrees) but never neglects to add, "Well, you're a bit self-righteous too you know, just in a different way."

Yeah, Matt, I know: it's called the good way.

My arch nemesis (the computers, not the kids).
Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

To Matt

I've been feeling lost - murky - lately as I dig out from this rubble and try to find my self-worth again.  But these blog entries always sort of have a fortunate "but":  I say there is something beautiful in needing to rethink, reshuffle, and recalibrate in all that was lost, and this is true, but it comes down to this: I have a partner who wakes me up to that possibility every single day.

This is my belated thank you to Matt.  We celebrated our five-year wedding anniversary on the 7th, and this is what I wanted to say then, but will say now (a windy, twisty love letter a few days after Father's Day for anyone to see):

First, there was this, circa 2004, posted online:

How could I not love this face? He's so darn sweet and unassuming.  I mean...the HAIR!

And this is me trying to look sexy (or something, oh Kathryn), taking a self-portrait in my London dorm room.  It was probably photo 30 or something.  Sigh.  Silly twenty-year-olds.

Matt and I met in February, 2004 on Match - have I mentioned that?  Yes -  online. I joined on a whim after breaking up with my college boyfriend and searched the zip code closest to my parents home (because, obviously, I had no job lined up and was trucking it back home to Pennsylvania for the summer).  I went to a school where everyone was well-off, good-lucking, smug in their artsiness and just so damn blase about their lucky lot in life.  That whole "We're moving to Williamsburg (Brooklyn) on our parents' dime and starting an artisan (pickle, cheese, whatever) business" before hipsters were in Brooklyn doing the same and it wasn't a tired joke.  I was so exhausted with New York for that reason.  I frequently said, "I just want to meet a lumberjack or a nice, nerdy guy," and then came Matt.  Poof.

In typical collegiate fashion, we talked over IM and then met during our respective spring breaks.  He was funny and smart, self-deprecating and sometimes shy.  But always sweet.  Always earnest.  For example, he is a programmer and tried to teach me how to code, but I remember throwing the notebook across the room.  He drives a manual and tried to teach me how to drive stick, and I remember throwing his air freshener out the window and stomping out of the car.  Probably in tears - I can't recall but that sounds about right. 

That first spring he came up to New York and I visited him at Penn State.  I'll spare you all the gooey details, but it was easy to fall in love with this boy and if you've read this little blog you know Matt is without pretense, wholly kind, and so very good (to me, to his daughter, to everyone).

It's sometimes hard for me to take his kindness and sincerity to heart: for instance, this pregnancy hasn't been as kind on me in terms of fatigue, weight gain, and I've been having difficulty sleeping.  "I find you absolutely beautiful," he'll say as I stick my gut out in the mirror.  And what do I say?  It's always something along the lines of, "Oh please, you just want to get laid," while rolling my eyes, or "Well, you better, as I'm carrying your child!"  I also started laughing when Matt proposed to me and to this day have no idea what he said.  Oh, and the first time he told me he loved me.  (I'm a gem, what can I say?)

I've softened throughout the years - Matt is my daily dose of mellow - but I sometimes still have a way of ruining moments, and (thankfully) he still puts up with me.  I hope - in my sometimes acerbic way - I feed and fuel him the way he does me.

This blog has become a scrapbook and little ode to my family - of course to Annie - but I hope it's clear that it all began with Matt, who has lifted the burden of my health woes as much as he can, held me when I cried about work, and every day tells me to relax, find my passion, and when I do, he'll be there to help me pursue it.

My world begins and ends with that boy and little girl, and the best decision I've ever made was IMing that fluffy-haired stranger one February afternoon over nine years ago.

Matt, happy belated anniversary.   Happy belated Father's Day.  You make our family whole.

All photos were taken Father's Day weekend at Smith Memorial Playground in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia.

Friday, June 7, 2013

18 Months

"My precious...."

Me: "What the heck is going on here?!" (upon reviewing the photos I took at the pool that day)
Matt: "She was pulling my chest hairs."

Photos were taken last week at French Creek State Park.  After many years of successfully avoiding the sun, I got a burn so bad it hurt for days to put on a bra or lie down.  Annie - who has developed a fear of baths - took to the water after about ten tentative minutes.  

OK - so this stay-at-home mom thing?  It isn't so bad.  I'm loving (while simultaneously being exasperated at) this age - 18 months - and taking such delight in your little burgeoning personality.  You are clever, mischievous, still willful as ever, and loving life.  You actually "oooo" at things.  Like, I picked up your father a new bath sponge (the boy uses sea sponges in the shower, what can I do) and when I pulled it out of the bag you literally oooed and awwed over the thing.  I mean, it's a damn loofah.

You get so excited over things: "Do you want to go outside?!" I say, emphasizing "outside" and you perk up and go to the door and start doing your toddler version of the "running man", stepping in place and banging on the door.  You're like a dog, in that way (I mean that really know I love dogs.)

I've been struggling to find meaningful work that makes sense outside of the home, but am finding comfort in caring for you, although I've had a couple breakdowns this past week: your father has always been your fun favorite (I'm more behind the scenes at times - packing your diaper bag, readying lunch, making appointments while he is on the floor with you and your puzzles) and I accept that - and honestly didn't mind it one bit - until "Dat-tee" became the end all, be all.  He would leave the room and you'd break down.  Or you'd rush past me to find your father.  A few weeks ago I thought I had finally crimped his style - you were saying "Mama" much more than Daddy, but after some "Daddy lessons" (I seriously heard your father practicing the word Daddy with you as he put you to bed several days straight) I was back to square one.  It's a give and take - he's very hands-on and honestly, if you're going to chirp away to "Daddy, Daddy!" at least I get to lay on the couch with my Oreos when he corrals you.  And your father assures me you'll soon see how dorky he really is, so of course I find solace (and agreement) in that.

Also, you have discovered the word "No" (it's second only to "Daddy").  Like any toddler, you can be belligerent and stubborn and you are saying "no" to everything.  At the library today I told you to stop taking books off the shelves, and you yelled "NO!" and took five more off and ran off to the train table, where I swear you were trying to look strong and nonchalant but were spying on me and trying to gauge what my reaction was (by the fifth or so "NO!" we packed up and it was time to go, and by the way, my reaction was pissed off).  Another mom, who had a 22-month-old in tow, said from experience your next word will probably be "mine".  I told her you're already on the cusp of that because the other week you took sprinkles from our baking supplies, starting shaking them on the dog, and when asked to give them back, said, "No, no, mine, mine!"  Then you ran into the living room to sprinkle the carpet.  It was one of the longest, most coherent thoughts you've had to date so I let it go.

You never really watched TV before, but I have been using it as a crutch so I don't lose my mind, and you've developed a love for Elmo.  You love Elmo and shout his name and bounce on your little butt when he comes on-screen.  What's with kids and Elmo?

You're finally sitting with us nightly when we read with you and your two current favorites are "Goodnight Moon" and "I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words", although the simple baby touch-and-feel "Farm" you still have a soft spot for.  Whenever you spot a duck you screech, "Duck, duck, duck!" (as in "quack, quack, quack").

And last but not least, I'm going to try to start potty-training you.  Or at least getting you accustomed to the little toilet we bought you so we can have a leg-up when your little brother/sister makes their appearance in October.  Today at the library we picked up some "I love the potty!" books and today I sat you on it and you looked rather amused.  Almost regal sitting high on your throne.  Maybe it was because - I swear - about a minute after you got off (and I was running to get a diaper for you) you pooped on the floor about three feet from the thing.  Then you stepped in it.  Then you started wailing.  Your father thinks this is the sign of a genius (sans the stepping in it part), but unfortunately you've had some stomach issues the last few days so I think it was purely coincidence.  

You are really giving us a run for our money, kid, and we're just trying to keep up (and last until your bedtime).  Right now you're napping beside me (naps have become a battle of wills), and you're stirring, so I'm going to end here and say we love you times infinity. 

And, also, please be easy on us.  

Here's to a spectacular year-and-a-half.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Little gifts

We are expecting another baby in the early fall.  This fact is what I remember (literally, feel) when I find myself gazing at job boards and going on fruitless interviews and navigating this whole wretched situation.  Somehow we hit the lottery with Joanna.  Modern medicine, the gods, every four-leaf clover in Ireland, smiled on us a year and a half ago and now we get to do it all over again.

I’ve gone on two interviews, both in the city and both (in my mind) hard-driving positions that don’t lend themselves to any sort of balance .  The second was just yesterday but the first was last week and they wanted to have one last phone screen before moving to offer – and jeez, what a surprising, glorious position to be in – but I just couldn’t do it.  They didn’t know I was pregnant, and the position responsibilities peak in October (oh), and it’s what I’ve been doing for many years and what I desperately want to leave behind.  It was really a non-starter, but I went anyway.  It’s hard to turn down an interview even when you know in your gut it’s not right, or you probably cannot fulfill the job obligations.  So I find myself in the very frustrating situation of being smack dab in the middle of a pregnancy and unemployed.  But also – and here I am, typing this for second time – expecting a baby. 

And that trumps everything.

We found out in late February, when I was trying to calculate if I was going to get my pesky period in Mexico when I realized I couldn’t remember when I had it last.  Maybe Christmas time?  Before then?  After?  I had no clue.  I feel very ignorant typing that.  Like, maybe I should have a handle on my body or something, but you’ve got to remember – things are funky down there! – and a 28-day cycle is a foreign concept.

The telltale sign of pregnancy – I’ve learned – is an uptick in Oreo consumption.  I mean, I remember this clearly – I specifically went into the grocery store to buy Oreos (who does that?) and walked by the pharmacy and bought the cheapest test (store brand, because really, there was just no way).  I even helped myself to a huge cup of coffee that morning, knowing full-well my egg got caught up in my kinky fallopian tubes and I just didn’t ovulate.  I am not the girl who just gets pregnant.  In our early days of infertility – before blood tests confirmed that I was or wasn’t expecting – I had gone through many tears and many bargain two-packs of pregnancy tests.

Matt and I are not ignorant: since having Annie we have scrapped protection because, if for some miraculous reason it happened – that would be a good thing.  A really, really good thing.  And after a year it did.  I am not one to mince words – or do cutesy things when announcing news – so I called him three minutes after I peed on that stick, in a semi-panic, and said, “But it’s too soon!”  Our children will be just under two years apart (22.5 months).  Matt laughed nervously, happily, giddily.  I wanted Annie out of toddlerhood before having another.  I just don’t have the energy, I said.  And I told him work is going so poorly, that everything wasn’t just right yet.  And how funny to be typing that today, now out of work.  Job searching while midway through a pregnancy is almost a fruitless exercise, and in that, coupled with inconvenience, there is some very real solace.  There is solace when Matt ran down our finances, took me by the shoulders, and said, “We will be OK.  We will be fine.  Relax.  Be picky.  Take your time.  Find something you will love.  I know you will probably not go back until well after the baby is born.” 

So here we are.  I am in my 21st week of pregnancy and due in early October.  Unlike with Annie, I have been feeling this baby kick from week 17.  All day.  Unrelenting.  Beautiful.  Like with Annie, we have decided not to find out if this is a boy or a girl.  Matt wants another girl, and as a girl who never really had guy friends – or a brother – I’m curious about a boy.

Instead of plotting out the perfect time, there is now some relief in completing our family earlier than expected.  We are not newborn people – we find infinite delight as Annie grows older and there is more give and take – and I’m glad we’ll be in our early 30’s when completing this portion of babyhood. 

Because boy I am tired. 

Maybe it’s the pregnancy (I haven’t been sleeping well).  Or maybe Crohn’s (I always felt – in general – I was more tired than others, and frequent blood work confirms that yes, I’m deficient in this and that).  I’m happy we’ll be young parents.  When it's all said and done, I'm happy our path took us to here: I’m happy I met Matt when I was 21 and we married at 26 and we will have our children by 31.  In terms of fertility, how very fortunate we have been.  To be younger.  To have that gift of time.  I am reminded of this frequently.

Thank you for following this blog, and our story.  I know I haven’t written about Crohn’s in quite some time, and this little space on the internet has become a patchwork of our family life, for better or worse, and in sickness and in health. 

Here’s to health.