Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dear Zoe, I Will Always Let You Sit With Me

Today while Zoe was eating her lunch, I asked her if she liked ravioli.  It was her first time trying those delicious little meat-filled pasta pillows.  She got a solemn look on her face and nodded her head, and took a sip of milk.  I followed up the question by asking her if I could sit with her and eat my lunch, and she very emphatically shook her head "no!"

Well, then!

This has been coming for a while now, actually. Zoe's been growing right up and getting a little more independent every day.  It's really nice that she feeds herself, whether it's with her fingers or whether she uses forks and spoons.  I do miss snuggling with her when she'd have a bottle, but even while she was in that stage, I really did treasure every minute, because we both knew it wouldn't last.

She started eating "solid foods" last January.  Of course, "solid" means pureed this and that, and baby cereal.  The second day she got to eat "solids," she took the spoon out of my hand and tried to feed herself.  Then she realized how cushy it is to be "the baby," and at least let me spoon-feed her. That is until this week.

Sunday night, she didn't want me feeding her anymore.  She felt so strongly about it that she grabbed her plate and upended it onto the floor, much to Rozzie's delight.  A defiant little flicker flashed in her eyes, and I knew it was a toddler thing, and that I shouldn't react, because as such, she was partly looking for a reaction.  So I said "I guess you're full then!" and unstrapped her from her high chair and sent her off to play, and while I was cleaning up the dishes from the floor (Rozzie got the floor itself good to go), I humped up and bawled. 

It wasn't the food on the floor that bothered me.  I'm not raising a brat, but I do let her have her toddler moments.  She's seventeen months old.  Sometimes she pulls crap like that just to get a reaction.  Anyway, I'm not getting into a parenting debate with you, so if you're getting all up on your high horse on me, just stop reading and go tell your favorite teddy bear all your theories of how I'm doing wrong by my kid.  But I'm not interested in hearing them.

No, it wasn't the food on the floor.  It was that I realized with no room for ambiguity that Zoe and I have passed some kind of milestone.  She wants to feed herself, or if the look in her eyes as she upended her plate is any indication, she wants do feed her damn self! and I got her message loud and clear.  Our days of her sitting in her high chair and me sitting in the regular chair, blissfully scooping food from her dish into her mouth have passed.

So this week, we've tried it her way, her eating like a big girl.  And she's doing really well at it.  Great, actually.  Mornings, she eats yogurt with cereal mixed in, to make it a little thick, and also to make sure she gets her cereal in (it's recommended that she eats the baby cereal until she's 2, so I give it to her.)  I put the yogurt and cereal mixture into silicone pinch-bowls, because they were always easy for me to grip, and I can also get them scraped pretty clean with just a spoon, and also if they hit the floor, they don't shatter or really cause much drama, other than something for Rozzie to clean up. 

I wasn't sure how a seventeen month-old would be able to handle one of these pinch-bowls, but she wanted to give it a spin and I let her.  She had trouble with it when the tray was hooked to her high chair, so preparing myself for a mess, I took the tray off and handed her the bowl and spoon so she could see into the bowl without having to tip it way over to see what's in there.  She smiled at me, grabbed the spoon in her right hand and the bowl in her left, tucked her legs up into a cross-legged position while she sat strapped in her high chair, and proceeded to scoop the yogurt and cereal out of the bowl and into the mouth, looking at me the whole time as if to say "Bye now! Come back when I'm all done!"

"You doing okay?" I asked her.

She smiled, crinkling up her eyes, loading another spoon of yogurt and cereal into her mouth, and said "Mmmmmmmmm!"

I went and unloaded the dishwasher and got the dishes put away, and when I came back, I was surprised to see that she'd gotten her bowl almost as clean as I could when I fed her.

"Well, Kid, you're hired!" I told her, unhooking her high chair's seatbelt and letting her toddle around.

That's how we've been doing feeding time here at the zoo this week, then.  I turn her meals over to her and then go into the kitchen to get things done, so she doesn't think I'm hovering, but I'm near enough if I should hear that she needs me.  There've been no more upended dishes of food.

Her rejection of letting me sit with her today to eat my lunch while she ate hers won't be the last, I know.  I walked her road before, a long time ago.  I dig where she's coming from. 

Bittersweet.  That's the word for this.  Because it was wonderful having this huggy little snuggle-baby early on- when she was sleeping- when she was awake, even as a newborn, Zoe always had to be on the move, in her swing, doing SOMETHING!  She was like a little dolly.  The very first breakfast I ate as "Mommy" at the hospital, I sat at the table in my room and cradled sleeping Zoe in my free arm, and told her all about all the fun we'd have together, when she was a little bigger.  I told her how we'd go shopping together, and read books and do crafts and play in the yard, but right then, she was too small for all those things, so I'd just hug her and hug her until she was bigger. 

Even at the hospital, though, she was asserting her independent streak.  She and the nurses had a battle over her hat.  Every time she'd come back to my room from the nursery, she'd have on the cute little knitted hat somebody knit and donated (which I keep meaning to do, myself!).  As soon as the nurse was out the door, Zoe would have the hat pulled off.  If she was swaddled with her arms in, she would rub her head up against me until she worked the hat off.  If her arms were out, she'd just pull it off.  This was the first day she was on this planet.  The rest of our time in the hospital, she didn't wear the hat.  At home, she'd wear a hat when we were outside (but she didn't like it!)

So this day, I knew would come, and I know there are going to be many more days when my little chooby-cheeked cherub more or less tells me to skedaddle.  I'm trading cuddliness for fun, and I can accept that.  I just never would have thought these separate moments would take my breath away like they do, when we come to them. 

The thing is, no matter how many times Zoe tells me to skedaddle, no matter how many times she pushes me away, one thing she can count on is that when she needs somebody to sit with her, I will always let her sit with me.  Always.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

One Thing A Day

Waaaaaay back in September or October, I wrote a post about how messy my house is and how I need to get it cleaned up.  For years now, I've been getting FLYLady's emails about de-cluttering and chipping away at messiness in fifteen minute chunks.  I will say this, IF you actually do as FLYLady says, and do fifteen minutes of a task, eventually it does get done.  You can't misuse it and just do 15 minutes a day and call it a job well done when your house looks like mine.  It takes 15 minutes of work, 15 minutes of doing something else, and so on.  You have to come back to the task at hand and chip away at it until it's done. 

In FLYLady-speak, I've basically "fluttered" and then "crash-n-burned" over and over.  That doesn't mean FLYLady's a load of hogwash.  It just means I really need a slightly different approach to turning my home from freakin' pigsty to cozy and pleasantly lived-in.

See, I was never good at leaving something only 15-minutes' worth of done.  I was never good at leaving work with anything other than an empty inbox (the physical kind, not the email kind, although...)  Having something hanging over my head just sort of wears on me, and I obsess about it so by the time I get back to the task at hand, I'm burnt out on it. 

It's not the way to be, and I know this isn't what FLYLady intends with her fifteen-minutes at a time approach. 

The other day, I ran across a site that's something along the order of Making Organizing Fun or such.  That woman's approach is to size up all the things in your house that drive you nuts, organization-wise, and then take one per day and fix it.

This, I can do!

You see, it's kind of satisfying to me to start a project, work on it until it's finished, and then be able to be proud of my work.  The key is completing a task. 

I tried this out last weekend on my laundry area/changing table area.  This space in the house, which is really an extension on the far end of the kitchen, put the "hell" in "helter-skelter."  It's always been a difficult space.  Last Friday, I decided I'd had enough of the chaos and decided I'd change things around some.  I moved the changing area into a corner and made a folding area using two Rubbermaid folding tables.  I can store hampers under the tables, so it feels less cluttered. 

It looks really nice.  The space still isn't optimally functional or optimally good-looking, but that's okay, because when Shane got home, he looked around and said "What if we moved the laundry room upstairs to my office?"

I've wanted my laundry room upstairs since we were planning out the renovation.  I made a case for it back then and got shouted down by someone in Shane's family, who apparently gets more electoral votes than I do, on the grounds that "the washer could leak and make a mess."  Well, okay, I thought.  That's fair, because washers leak all the time, whereas toilets, sinks, and bathtubs NEVER leak, ever, and we have 2 bathrooms upstairs.  Yeah.  There are some things I'm bitter about.  I have some issues about this having less electoral votes to work through.

Anyway.  I'm happy that Shane's seen the value of putting the whole laundry kit and caboodle upstairs where we actually dress and undress.  His "office" has always had the feel more of big, disaster-area closet than "office."  It'll be heaven not to have laundry hampers in our bedrooms, to be able to keep everything in one room upstairs, a room with a window and a door that can be closed if we don't want to look at the laundry appliances.

Then I envision the place that is now the laundry room as kind of a mudroom, with one of those benches with storage for shoes underneath, coat-hooks above, and above that, storage for backpacks and hats. 

I mention all this because laundry and its flotsam has been a source of chaos in this house for ever.  I feel like getting that room squared away is going to help everything else get neater in the rest of the house.  Everything having a place makes it easier to put everything in its place!

Other spots I've cleaned up have stayed clean.  The family room's stayed uncluttered since October.  The coffeetable in the living room is not piled with two feet of debris anymore. you can actually set a plate or coffee cup on it - if you're trusting enough not to think a toddler or German shepherd isn't going to steal it.

I have a long way to go, getting my place less disastery.  But at least now, when people come in to my house, the first room they see is clutter-free and pleasant.  The downstairs bathroom is clean.  The laundry room doesn't look like a hiding place for ... I don't know.  Whatever would hide in a pile of wash and jump out at unsuspecting guests.  Eighty-five percent of the time, my kitchen island is cleaned off and functional.  It isn't perfect, but eighty-five still passes!

My house isn't perfect, but it's getting better, one fifteen minutes at a time, one task at a time. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Crime Eggs- 'Tis the Season

This is an oldie but a Goodie, first written as a note on my Facebook page in 2009.  I've learned very little about moderation in the last four years.
In a serendipitous response, a friend of mine saw a mother lode of Cadbury Creme Eggs at Wegmans not long after this post, and took a picture of them and sent them to me with the caption: "April-Crime Eggs for you!" It was an auto-correct slip-up, but we all agree- unless a grown-up  rations out the Creme Eggs to me one at a time, and hides them where I have no hope of finding them, when I see Creme Eggs, it turns into a crime scene. So Crime Eggs it is, because I think nothing of murdering three or four (or more) at a sitting and then going back for more.

I have a little problem with Cadbury Creme Eggs, meaning the kind of problem that I probably should wear a Chocolate Detector Ankle Bracelet and have Jenny Craig parked at the end of my driveway ready to throw me in a van and drive me to an undisclosed diet center if I exceed one Creme Egg a day.

So one Friday a few weeks back, I got up and did my usual routine of working out for an hour, showering, getting around, and coming downstairs for breakfast. Shane doesn't work on Fridays, so he was a little while behind me, coming down the stairs. So, I fixed myself a bowl of coffee, half-caf, with skim milk, a little sugar to take the edge off, and a healthy dollop of Reddi Wip, because coffee should be fun, after all. And what to eat alongside my big bowl o' joe?

On the counter, at that moment were: a bowl of Granny Smith apples, BSN Lean Dessert Protein Powder, and...

A four-pack of Cadbury Creme Eggs.

Guess what won? I'll give you a hint. It wasn't the apples, and I didn't whip up a protein shake.

In the space of five minutes, I'd devoured three of the four Creme Eggs in the box on the counter. The only thing that saved that last Creme Egg in the box was that I'd heard Shane coming down the stairs, and as he's a dentist, he tends to frown on Creme Eggs and candy in general, but gets really high'n'mighty when it's eaten for breakfast. So I hurried to get rid of the colorful foil evidence, and stood there at the kitchen island, eating the whip off my coffee as nonchalantly as one can with that much fat and sugar coursing through one's veins that early in the morning. Shane proceeded to get into the refrigerator, take out some eggs, and make himself an omelet. He did ask if I wanted one too, and I told him I'd already eaten.

Fast forward a couple hours, to Main Street in Wellsville. We've been killing time that morning, waiting for Rozzie to get finished and dried from her monthly bath at the vet's. We're not too posh to bathe our own pet, but she has a skin condition that requires their shampoo and a shot every few weeks, and as we live about 25 minutes from the vet's and it was one of those many days in the winter when about a foot of snow dropped out of the sky overnight, we didn't want to be running back and forth between Wellsville and home any more than we needed to. So we were trying to decide where to go to eat. It was too early for lunch, but I said I was starving, without even thinking.

"You said you already ate breakfast," Shane said.

"Yeah, I had a three-egg omelet," I said, again without thinking. I should learn to think before I speak, I guess. Because Shane stopped walking in the middle of the sidewalk, and looked at me funny. I should have just yelled "anarchy!" and run down the street right then, but I did not.

"Where'd you get the eggs for your omelet?" he asked.

"Out of the carton in the refrigerator," I said. I was already committed to the lie and had to follow through now, because they send people to rehab for things like this.

"The carton I brought home last night?"

"That's the one," I said. "Three eggs, right out of that carton you brought home last night."

Shane shook his head in disbelief and grinned.

"Well, then, I bought a magic carton of eggs at Jubilee last night, because when I opened it up to get eggs for my omelet, all twelve eggs were in the carton, still."

I knew I'd been caught.

"Yeah, about that," I said. "What I really meant to say is that I made myself a three-egg omelet with the Cadbury Creme Eggs on the counter, and I didn't so much make an omelet as I just ate them, one right after another, right out of their wrappers."

"What stopped you from eating the fourth one?" Shane asked.

"I heard you coming down the stairs."

Shane looked a little disgusted, but also amused. No van from Jenny Craig pulled up to whisk me off, but I noticed in any store we went into that morning, I was propelled past the Creme Eggs displays, and when we finally picked up Rozzie and got home, that lonely Creme Egg from that morning had disappeared.

That wasn't my last tangle with the Creme Egg Monster, though. It's a tough addiction to kick, and there is no 12-step program.

In a completely unrelated note, I'm working on losing about ten pounds that seems to have appeared out of nowhere these last few months, so if you see me out shopping and I'm in the candy aisle or eyeing the Reese Cups in the checkout lane, stop me. Use whatever force necessary. I'll thank you later.