Wednesday, May 26, 2010

@#$&ing Toddler Room Update

Things are going slightly better in the Toddler Room. Drop-offs are still a complete nightmare. There is something about waving bye-bye to your baby as a stranger holds her while she screams and calls "Ma! Ma!" that makes your soul shrivel inside your chest. The bitch lady told me that she "permits" Norah to have her nuk in the morning because she is "sad." (Damn right you do, chicky.)

But reports indicate that she does pretty well after a little while, and actually allows herself to have fun after lunch and naptime. Also, there are a couple gals there she loves who used to be in the Infant Room, thankfully. So, maybe there's a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Although it's still a little too dim. We'll just keep trying.

Also, it's Wednesday, so maybe I'll get me a Powerball ticket.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Como Zoo

On Sunday we headed to the Como Zoo in the Twin Cities. It's a smaller zoo, and the animals are fairly close-up, so we thought it would be Norah-friendly. We were going to me my parents, sister, and aunt.

About 30 minutes down the road, we heard a little whimper and then the sound of vomiting. And then we smelled the smell of vomiting. Of course, we were on the freeway, so we had to wait for the next exit... 2 miles.

Ryan sped up to the speed I normally drive at and I could feel my skull tighten. Norah was crying. The smell was thickening. The Subaru was going 75 mph in a 70. Come. On.

Finally we pull off and find a quiet, dusty area. Soon we have a toddler in nothing but a diaper, giggling and trying to escape, Ryan scooping out vomit from the carseat with his bare hands, and Heather trying desperately not to say, "I told you it was time for her carseat to be forward-facing!" as I assumed the ailment was carsickness. Despite our trepidation, we decided to forge ahead to our destination.

The rest of the ride was smelly, slow, and featured Mama singing Yo Gabba Gabba songs and Itsy Bitsy Spider, sitting with naked Norah in the backseat.

We got to the zoo and escaped from the reeking mobile tomb. We had packed some backup clothes for Norah, so we changed her on the boulevard and got her ready to roll. Aunt Sarah found us and snatched her up as Ryan and I tried to shake off our bad start.

So, Grandma, Grandpa, Sarah, Susan, Ryan, Heather, and little Norah headed into the zoo. And it was AWESOME! First we hit the primates building. The heat and humidity made our clothes cling to our skin and the air was thick and a little stinky, but all of that disappeared once Norah saw her first real monkey. It was pure, unadulterated joy. And she started making her little monkey noises-- "Ah! Ah! Ah!" 

The zebra and ostrich were next. Then we passed some big cats. Norah growled at a lioness, sprawled out in some thick, green grass, lazily licking a giant paw in the unseasonable heat. Norah screamed for the snow leopard and grunted wildly for a tank full of fish. After each animal, she excitedly touched her hands together-- the baby sign for "more." Aunt Sarah even let her poke her finger in a koi pond. She was in heaven. The smothering heat and flecks of barf on my shirt didn't even matter. 

Top Ten Awesome Things at the Como Zoo:

10. Penguins. Hello. Penguins are awesome.

9. Ostrich. It kept gnawing at the bolts on the fence as if it was trying to figure out how to escape. Watch out, Como neighbors.

8. Health Partners' vendor booth. Their mascot was a giant foam, dancing specimen jar. And children were hugging it.

 7. Misty fern room in the conservatory. It was weird and kind of magical.

6. Giraffes drinking out of really tall water fountains.

5. Weird little monkeys with mustaches.

4. Orangutans (and a baby orangutan!) doing death-defying trapeze tricks.

3. Mini donuts.

2. Rule-follower Ryan rebelling against the "Do Not Climb on Statues" sign, and placing his daughter atop a grinning giraffe for a photo op.

1. My awesome, happy family. :)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

@#$&ing Toddler Room

Norah is in daycare two days a week; Tuesdays and Thursdays. Here's how it's set up: There's the Infant Room, which is divided into two areas. One is for mobile babies and the other for immobile babies. The Infant Room is wonderful. The care providers are gentle, caring, fun, and overall awesome. Norah loves them. She even pointed to a picture of one of the gals and said "Mama." Granted, that killed a little part of my soul, but I was also glad that she loved her.

There is also the Toddler Room and the Preschool Room. When kids hit 16 months, they transition to the Toddler Room. The age range there is large. 16 months to I think around 3 years. So you've got kids who can't talk and kids who are very verbal. Some need their nuks, some can use the toilet. While it's a good learning opportunity, it poses some problems. And it's not just the age range that I'm concerned with.

There are too many kids per teachers. Some of the kids are too rowdy. The lead teacher seems like a bitch. Every time I talk to her, she says something odd or bitter. There are too many rules about nuks and stuffed animals and naps and everything. These are my chief complaints.

But there are good things, too. Lots of activities, toys, outside play time, interaction with older kids, and it's right across the parking lot from where I work. I love that.

And some kids get used to it and have a blast there. There were a bunch of little ones running around, laughing, when I dropped off Norah.

Of course, Norah clung to me. And she cried when I left. And she always cries when I leave. Last Thursday she didn't stop crying, and they called me. Grandma to the rescue, thank God.

I'm not sure what to do. Do we give it a few more weeks to see if she warms up to it? What if she doesn't and she's just miserable for a few weeks? I don't think I could stand that. Do I just take her out and find a new daycare? Will that just cause more upheaval? What if it's just as bad?

New plan: start buying lotto tickets. Then daycare can suck it and Norah can stay home with Mama.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

House of Nerf

Norah flung herself off the couch last night. Not a gentle little roll and thud. She was standing backwards, as I was digging for Bear Bear behind the couch, and just flung herself backwards like some Eastern European gymnast on the couch apparatus. After some pretty intense crying-- from both of us-- she seemed to settle down and go on her merry way. Ryan checked with his mom, a retired RN, for some concussion checking advice. All seemed well.

So clearly we need to get rid of the couch. In fact, the recliner, too. Not just because it's hideous (not sorry, Ryan), but because without the couch, surely she'll climb up on the chair and fling herself off. The piano bench is also a goner. And I'm pretty wary about all these sharp edges everywhere. Tables, doorways, doors, shelves. It's not good. The floor is also a hazard. When she really gets her tantrum on, she flings herself to the floor like she's about to break into The Worm. That could be a lot softer. If everything was made from Nerf, life would be a lot less stressful. Or maybe we should move into a bouncy castle. I don't know.

And I know. Kids get hurt. They need to learn consequences. They need to toughen up. And I assure you, I don't want Norah to grow up to be a pussy. Ryan keeps reminding me not to sprint to scoop her up every time a tear breaks loose or a stumble occurs. And I usually forget. Even my mom gave me the "don't coddle her" look today, and I totally deserved it. And that's my mom-- she's a coddler like me! You know it's bad when a softy thinks you're too soft.

Even when I think about The Big Picture, my brain and my heart are completely conflicted. Does anyone actually like the people who waltz through life without a care in the world? Who have overcome... nothing? No strife, no heartache, no obstacles in their way? Who respects people like that? And, really, aren't they irritating?

Interesting people have been hurt, have done the hurting, have struggled and been kicked when down. It's about learning and building character and enhancing perspective and experiencing all life deals out to you. Bad stuff makes you appreciate good stuff.

But I don't want Norah to go through a single day of pain; a single minute! I want to keep her in my bouncy castle and shield her from all the sharp edges in the world. Dear God, please help me not turn my daughter into a boring, sissy, princess. Dear God, please don't let anything hurt my daughter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Norah's Greatest Hits

This is just a short list of things my perfect angel does that makes my heart want to explode with pride/love/joy/etc. In case you want to know. Warning: this may get cheesy.

1. Says "poop" and laughs.

2. Spins until dizzy and then falls down and laughs.

3. Points to things that belong to either Ryan or I and says "Mama" and "Dada" accordingly. For example, she points to the Subaru and says "Dada." The Oldsmobile is "Mama." Diet Coke is "Mama." Dirty old jacket is "Dada."

4. She loves books. Adores them. And lately she especially loves one entitled Mommy Hugs.

5. She can say "more" and sign it, too. And when she's really desperate, like for more yogurt melts or Cookie Monster videos on the computer, she signs "please." I can't say no.

6. When she really likes what she's eating, she does a little dance in her highchair. My pal, Celine, hums or kind of bops around when she's eating good food, so it makes me smile.

7. She actually gets excited to wash her hands.

8. She just learned that hugs are good, and when she goes to hug you, she collapses into you very dramatically and throws her head back to see your face.

9. When she wakes up in the morning, she looks at you like she hasn't seen you in eons and is in complete bliss.

10. She shares her nuk and treats with her doll and stuffed animals.

11. When she sees Ryan and I hugging, she has to get in on the action.  She runs over for a group hug.

12. She always points things out to me, like at the grandparents' or at daycare, as if she doesn't want me to miss anything cool. Hey, Mom, look at that lightswitch!

13. And I should stop. I could go on for eternity.

Thanks for indulging me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


As we speak, Ryan is wrestling Norah. And Norah is winning, as far as I can tell. It's bedtime, and this is one area that we definitely get an F in.

First, let me describe our friends Ralph and Kim to you. They have a little boy the same age as Norah-- Little Ralphie. We were at Ralph's parents' not too long ago for our other friends' child's birthday, and bedtime neared. Here's how it went down:

The time is 7:30 pm.
Kim: I think it's almost bedtime.
Little Ralphie is put into his pajamas.
Ralph: Ok, goodnight, little man.
Kim goes downstairs, places little Ralphie-- still awake-- into the pack 'n play. She comes upstairs and turns on their video monitor.
Ryan and Heather look at each other, wide-eyed.
The end.

Now, here's how it goes in our house.

The time is anywhere between 8:00 and 9:00 pm. 
Heather: I think we'd better try to get her to relax.
Ryan: I'll go get a blanket.
Ryan brings out a blanket to the couch.
Heather: Let's turn on a cartoon.
Ryan: They all suck.
Heather: Tough; just pick one.
Ryan: Fine.
Some time passes as Ryan and Heather browse through the on-demand cartoon offerings, which have remained the same for weeks. 
Heather: Norah wants a ba-ba?
Norah: Ba! Ba!
15 minutes later.
Ryan: All right. We need to do a black out.
Heather: Okay.
Norah: Dibba dibba!
The TV and lights are all turned off. All is quiet for a moment.
Norah: A-ya ya! Ba ba ba ba BA!
Ryan: No-no, honey. Shhhh, nigh nigh.
Norah throws Bear Bear ahead of her and crawls to Heather on the couch.
Heather: Shhhhh, nigh nigh.
Norah wrestles. Pulls Heather's hair. Throws her Bear Bear back over to Ryan and starts to make her way to the other side of the couch.
Ryan: Can we get a little juice, Mommy?
Heather: Ok!
5 minutes pass.
Ryan: Ok, honey, shhhh, nigh nigh.
Norah points to Ryan's nose, eyes, and mouth.
Norah: No, eye, mo.
Norah looks over to Heather and starts to wiggle again.
Heather gets up and leaves, as she feels Norah is too distracted by having the option to crawl back to Mom.
10 minutes pass. Norah falls asleep on Ryan. Ryan brings Norah to the crib and lies her down.
The end. 

As you can see, we have slightly different approaches. And ours sucks. And we're both well aware of it. So, you're probably wondering, why the hell don't we do something different? Good question.

I loathe CIO (Cry it Out). I can't stand to hear my baby scream desperately, not understanding why her mom and dad aren't coming to her side to comfort her; only knowing that she's upset and no one is helping. She's standing in her crib, shrieking for MA MA MA and DA DA DA, and is only answered by silence.

Dramatic much? Well, I am. But, honestly, I don't like it. Ryan, on the other hand, would prefer to give it a shot. I don't blame him-- it gets old. And it's a good thing to teach children how to self-sooth. I know all this logically. And I don't judge CIOers (much). But I can't do it.

So, we are going to sort of compromise. We're devising a new bedtime strategy. Operation: Be like Ralph and Kim. More details to come.