I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Parenting before noon

The same conversation keeps happening to me. When I say "happening to me" it means I'm answering questions and talking about a subject that is really a non-issue in my life. But yet, this subject comes up A LOT. It's not controversial or altogether interesting - it is the issue of what time my kids wake up in the morning (and likewise how late they stay up at night).

It's true that parents do spend a good chunk of their day contemplating mundane details of their children's lives. We care more about their lunches, outfits, playtime activities, etc. than our children do. Parents also often question whether they are making the right choices. Can I buy non-organic milk because it is affordable? (I feel just a little bit guilty every time I do...) How much television is stimulating without becoming mind numbing?

But I'm not concerned with their sleeping schedules. At all.

It is also true that parents have the distinct ability to be overly critical of other parents. Most of the people who hear that our kids sleep in just accept it as another part of life. Some are jealous. (And to those who have children who are early risers, you have my utmost respect. I've woken up early with both Ayla and Jackson - it's just not a consistent occurence. If I could choose, I wouldn't do any parenting before noon.) And some parents are overtly sarcastic and rude. If they see us out before noon, it's "Ohhh! Good morning!". They can't seem to distinguish the difference between not being able to get up early for anything or simply choosing not to. If we don't have anything pressing to attend to, why in the hell should I be bothering sleeping children at 7 am? One particular unemployed family member who happens to have the most erratic sleeping schedule on the planet, is the most persistent in bringing up this subject. I know it is mentioned with the specific intent to try to embarrass us and Gregory and I end up feeling like we have to defend ourselves.

We like the way we sleep. It fits with our lives and work schedules. Gregory and I work a combination of days and nights, which means we are home at different times than the "traditional family". On most Tuesday afternoons you can find all of us at home, lounging in our pajamas. It is one of Gregory's days off and I don't start until five. Fast forward to Friday night at 10 pm and I might not have started bath time yet. Try calling us at 8 am on a Saturday morning and I promise you'll get voice mail. Why? Because it works for us.

And for all of the people that need reasons for why I'm not rising with the sun every day, here they are:

  • No one is in school. Ayla will have preschool next year, so we are choosing to spend our time at other classes in the meantime. Dance class or swim lessons or reading hour at the library. I'm just not going to choose the earliest session. Jackson's agenda extends to walking down the street to the park - and amazingly, it's there in the afternoon as well.
  • Gregory and I have chosen to work opposite shifts to keep our kids out of daycare. Therefore, we don't have a lot of time together from day to day. Sometimes we aren't sitting in the same place until midnight after one of us returns from the closing shift at either restaurant. Other couples catch up over dinner after 5 pm. We hang out a little bit later than that.
  • I'm not a morning person and never will be. I've tried. For years, I woke up to the alarm at 5 am and worked the corporate job I hated. Now add kids to that scenario. I would be sleepwalking through life right now and I certainly wouldn't be as patient with my two lively kids.
  • Most importantly, Ayla and Jackson don't know the difference. They are still developing normally despite the fact they sleep in until 10 or 11 am. Shocking! These are precious years when they aren't overscheduled with activities and can wake up leisurely in their own home.
  • It just isn't logical to put half of our family on a different schedule. I like to get as much sleep as possible (though 8 hours seems to be the max I can achieve). If I'm not getting into bed until 2 am, why would I intentionally have my kids waking up at 7 am?
I think part of this judgemental attitude ties into the overall disdain for a non-traditional arrangement. We're not losers because we work at night and on weekends. I am not a bad mother because I need to have an outside career. Gregory is not a failure as a man because he'd rather be home making bacon and eggs. In fact, we work about half the time for the same amount of money. Set your alarm to that one!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pictures to prove it...

Spanks and Flaps

Perverts! Why are you reading my post about spanks and flaps? So what if this is what I do in my spare time, does it have to be shared on the internet? Yes, yes it does. Because I'm talking about tap dancing. I am re-learning how to flap and spank (a backward flap if you must know) and shuffle and perfect those tricky time steps. It's been more than a decade since I found myself in a tap class, sweating, concentrating and having the best time ever.

I spent a majority of my youth dancing at Carol Leone's in Moon Township. That's not an exaggeration. Let's try to figure this out. I started at age 3 and stopped at 17. For the last six years, I spent about twelve hours a week either in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical or pointe class. Six years times 12 hours times 40 weeks a year.... 2880 hours just in the later years, approximately 120 days. That's quite obsessive considering it wasn't a competitive sport.

But, after graduating high school and moving on to college, where things were either too serious or too rudimentary - I took up ballroom dancing. My boyfriend at the time joined the Penn State Ballroom Dance Team with me and we actually started to compete. Yeah, the competitions attracted a lot of nerds, but I had a great time. There was even a blue ribbon for beginner Rhumba, but you know - it's not all about the ribbons! :)

The catalyst that brought me back to Carol Leone's is Ayla - she is 3 years old and I wanted to see if dance would be her thing. I have enrolled her in the creative movement and gymnastics there and so far she has chosen to "sit on the bench and relax" instead of jumping around in circles with the other little girls. I help with her class, so I don't mind - I still get to wear my ballet shoes and dance to the Locomotion.

I have such ridiculously fond memories of dancing with my friends at Carol's. We carried our obnoxious tendencies into the studio and would yell every time the teacher would say our chosen word of the day, or do all the warm-ups backwards on the bar. One friend, who I won't incriminate, always farted during the "serious" stretches and I still crack up every time I think about it. We were never made to feel badly about our bodies (or at least I didn't) - it wasn't that type of dance environment. We had fabulous teachers who dedicated hours of their lives teaching us correct posture and rewinding videos to perfectly dissect a music video.

And while Ayla is warming up to the idea of dancing, I'm going to take advantage of the adult tap class. It is taught by the first dance teacher I ever had, she was great in 1983 and I'm appreciating her on a new level as an adult. Our tap class was great tonight, ranging from a few girls just out of college to some pretty rockin' older ladies. The muscle memory is bringing me back to place where I can jump across the floor with taps on my shoes, thinking "toe, heel, step, dig, repeat!"

Are you thinking it can't get any better? We tapped to Michael Jackson - all my dreams are coming true.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Holden Beach, the Last Part!

This blog is a lot like the ongoing to-do list that I have in my head. It doesn't quite matter when I get things completed, as much as the satisfaction of doing it, well, eventually... For example, I'm almost done with our honeymoon scrapbook. I have started Jackson's first year digital scrapbook and occasionally I look at a quilt that I started in high school. I think about this stuff in between cooking and cleaning up dinner or late at night when I can't sleep.

So, more than a month later, I am finishing up the Holden Beach vacation trilogy. It's at least one more thing I can cross of my list of neurotically-charged tasks.

Gregory had booked us a hotel in Roanoke, VA to break up the drive home. We had stopped in Charlottesville, VA for the return trip in March and we enjoyed seeing a new city and giving our kids the opportunity to stay in a hotel. Or, as Ayla calls them, "swim-hotels". It's also nice to just have some time as a little family unit and decompress before jumping right back into our work schedules.

We said goodbye to family at the beach house and hopped in the car for a 6-hour drive. Both of our kids were so sun-kissed and energized by the vacation that they blissfully slept and made it an relatively easy trip. (Any trip with two toddlers has to be categorized as "relatively easy". )

The hard thing about traveling with kids is that you have to worry about getting where you want to go, eating, drinking, going to the bathroom and keeping them happy the whole time. Sitting still is not on Ayla & Jackson's list of priorities. Once we arrived in Roanoke at our swim-hotel, it was getting close to dinner time, but yet, we had to give these two crazies a chance to run around.

A little dip in the pool, and we were ready to find a place to eat. We consulted the GPS and the little advertising pamphlets in the hotel lobby and tried our best to pick a place that appeared kid-friendly. The plan was to avoid all of the chain restaurants we have at home and try a new steakhouse. We put the address in the GPS and navigated our way through the nearby shopping plaza. And as we pulled up... it was closed with glaring out of business signs! It was so pathetic I had to laugh. It was off to Red Robin.

Our meal was good, we managed to keep all breakable items out of reach and keep all good foods within reach. One pet peeve: having lame, boring people stare at us while we eat. So Jackson is waving at every person that near our table, especially people working in the kitchen. And Ayla announces a few bites into her chicken skewer that "I have to go poo-poo!" Gregory and I are both trying to have an alcoholic beverage and the contents of the sugar caddy are on the floor. But we were seated in one of those long rows of individual tables with one side being a continuous bench... and we always have to be put a little too close to people not interested in talking with each other, but with staring at us. Not a judgemental staring, but we are just fortunate enough to be the focus of their attention for the 1/2 hour because the tv's are too far away.

After some surprisingly good kids meals, we headed back to the hotel. The pack-n-play was set up in the bathroom (Jackson should be getting used to this right now!) and we tried to get Ayla to fall asleep while we watched some television. We're not like most parents who pass out alongside our kids at 9 pm... it's just too hard for 2 night owls to handle. But Ayla wasn't having it. She wanted to chill with mama and dada on the couch. It is our vacation, after all.

The next morning, we took another swim and I inadvertently stole breakfast from the restaurant. I just kept strolling in and out of the a la carte area grabbing a yogurt here and a danish there. I thought breakfast was included in the room! Oh well. I know for a fact that most of that food just ends up in the garbage, so I was just saving them the trouble.

The second part of our drive always includes the back, winding hills of Virginia. They're beautiful, uncrowded, picturesque... and they make Ayla throw up every time. We always get duped, thinking we've made it and give her the bottle she's been begging for and then all of sudden, we hear the dreaded cough, cry and "I don't feel good" before vomits starts flying. I had a bag ready to go, but Ayla can't manage the projectile and it sailed right over my open bag. On her fuzzy, on the carseat, on her clothes, on Jackson too! It makes me very happy that I'm not sitting in the backseat. The good point is that she is a tough girl and recovers quickly.

But, it's our only route to get home without ending up on the other side of Pennsylvania and we get to stop for beautiful photo ops.

We made the rest of the trip without incident and knew that the arrival at our beautiful home was what we all needed. (Refer to the Refrigerator Zen post). We enjoyed yet another relaxing week at Holden Beach, but it was time to jump back into our crazy lives.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sewickley Police Beat

Anyone who grew up in or near Sewickley is probably familiar with the "crime" section of the Sewickley Herald. It is always titled, "Sewickley police respond to a variety of calls"... and it never fails to entertain!

In a small community like ours, the gossip is rampant and even the printed newspaper gives in to our sick need to know all of the nasty details about a person's run-in with the law. The paper never hesitates to give full names, addresses, etc. when reporting that a local has been incriminated or arrested for any given crime. I think that's a little mean. Maybe because I've been hit personally in the past. I have never been arrested OR listed in the crime section of the paper - but my father was in late 1980's. He was charged with a white-collar crime of taking money from the bank where he worked. It is what it is - definitely not legal and definitely not right, but did it need to be publicized to our neighbors?

I can understand warning the public about a person who has been continually busted for DUI's or for any sexual assault. But, honestly, do we need to know when someone hasn't paid their property taxes? If it's not a danger to me or my family, I don't need to know the details. Nine times out of ten, the section is just humorous - a bona fide waste of ink and paper.

- "On Sept. 10th police were dispatched to Davis Lane for a report of a man yelling into the woods. Police arrived but found no one."

Riveting, right? Almost every entry ends with "police found nothing" or "area was abandoned". The paper is almost teaching us how to play pranks on the police (not that I would ever do that and risk getting MY name put in the crime section!) They never find anything on these dispatches!

-"On Sept. 11th around 6:20 pm, police were dispatched to the 400 block of Walnut Street for a group of juveniles skateboarding in the street. Police told the kids to move along."

WOW. Really? Who the eff cares? I want to read that the police scolded the tattle-tale who called them in the first place for (1) being lame and (2) wasting everyone's time. It's just so stereotypically Sewickley. Not that I mind the low crime rates and minor issues of random strangers yelling into the woods (maybe he was just angry at a squirrel?). But what makes it Sewickley is that this news is printed on the 2nd page and read by all. And then we blog about it. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Michael Jackson died

Master of the obvious, I know, but this is what Ayla has been telling everyone she has met all summer long. It must have been a monumental event in her 3-year old world. "Dead" is a new word in her vocabulary (thankfully), but that doesn't mean she gets the concept. She will say, "... he was dying and dying and dying." She just knows that it was, and is, a big deal. Both Mommy and Daddy cried. We started playing his music non-stop and the old posters went up in her little brother's room (more on that later).

It has been a few months since I shockingly saw on the news that MJ was hospitalized... and then that he had passed away. I was at work, trying to convey to my co-workers that, yes, seriously, I was upset. Don't misinterpret this - I couldn't care less about celebrity gossip. Yes, it's always sad when a person passes away, but just because I saw them in a movie doesn't make it personal. I didn't know them and nothing gets on my nerves more than a mediocre celebrity becoming infamous just because of an untimely death. The actual people in our own lives deserve more attention. But, with that said, my man MJ is an exception to that rule.

First of all, I was a product of the 80's. Anyone growing up then can pinpoint a time in their young childhood when "Thriller" debuted on Mtv or watched Moonwalker endlessly or made up dances to his music at slumber parties. And this wasn't an individual obsession, my entire family was there. It was the only time Mtv was even allowed. John Mayer said, "A major strand of our cultural DNA has left us. RIP MJ. I think we'll mourn his loss as well as the loss of ourselves as children listening to Thriller on the record player." So true. The loss of ourselves. We have somehow connected a love of his music and dancing to an innocent, happy, awe-struck period in our lives.

Secondly, I never grew out of that. A good friend and I once dictated letters to Michael onto a cassette tape. This was around the time of "Heal the World" and the Free Willy movie. We told him how we thought he was a wonderful person and his lyrics really meant a lot to us. Yeah, we were dorks, but I never did that for any other celebrity! I could totally relate to seeing people freak out and faint at his concerts, how would YOU react if you really saw the moonwalk in person? And when I watched the "Remember the Time" music video, I saw my life's dream as becoming a back-up dancer for MJ.

Then came the poster in college, given to me by Jenn. Quite possibly the greatest gift of all time. Most of the pictures are posted on Facebook, but this poster followed me everywhere I went. Yeah, it's funny to joke about grabbing his crotch or the white glove or a high-pitched, "Hee- hee"! But you know it's cool. Deep down, you know it. Don't deny the King of Pop.

And Michael was there at every wedding, every party, every time you made a mix tape for someone. So many happy memories shared with our friends and family - there's Michael making you dance like crazy. "A slave to the rhthym," as he put it.

Thirdly, can you guess why my son is named Jackson? Yeah. I like him that much. When Gregory and I were first dating, we thought Jackson Michael would be the coolest name for a baby ever. We've edited it a little since then, but thankfully, I married someone who shares the same adoration for MJ. I seriously doubt I could be with someone who disagreed with me on this. Just like politics, religion, child-rearing... there are some core values that have to be shared!

I just watched the Oprah show yesterday where she showed portions of her original 1993 interview with Michael Jackson. (Yet another moment in time that I remember sitting down with my entire family to watch it.) And, I'm realizing that the other side of it, is that I'm sad that in life MJ was so sad. He had all the things we spend our lives trying to attain: money, recognition, fame (in some respect, we all want it), opportunities to travel, etc. But when those gifts come to you at the age of 6 or 7 - you can't live a normal life. The poor man couldn't have both. While we can pinpoint the happy moments in our lives when we watched a video premiere or felt moved by "Man In The Mirror"; he was at yet another point in his career. Must be weird to be on the other side of that.

But, in death, Michael Jackson has impressed yet another generation. Albums are still best-sellers and I know my own kids will know his music. Hopefully all of the negative media can fade away and we'll be able to just appreciate how unique his status in our lives really was.

If they say, why, why? Tell 'em that is human nature
Why, why does he do me that way?
If they say, why, why? Tell 'em that is human nature
Why, why does he do me that way?
I like livin' this way, I like lovin' this way

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Thank you for the music

Thank you, ABBA, for the music. Yeah, I said it, I'm an ABBA fan. And so are a lot of other Pittsburghers, apparently. Let me explain...

Last week, Erin, Gregory and I went to see an ABBA tribute band at the Benedum Center. Maybe their music has gained more popularity recently due to the musical Mamma Mia! (which should not be compared to the movie Mamma Mia!, which was horrendous). But ABBA has always been near and dear to my heart. In fact, the first I ever listened to them was at Erin's house in high school - and I've been in love with "Take A Chance On Me" ever since.

Gregory and I went to see Mamma Mia! the musical in Toronto right after we were married. It was the mini-honeymoon. This is when I introduced him to the beauty of a four-person (two couples) group in white spandex, singing about Fernando and Waterloo. We've been listening to the soundtrack in the car and Ayla is also becoming the avid fan. On her list of favorite songs, it is first "Quiet Girl" (or, more commonly known as "That's Not My Name" by the Ting Tings), second "Mamma Mia" and third, anything else playing on B94. But I'm getting away from the point!

So, I was hooked on ABBA in the '90s... the other people at this concert, however, have probably been hooked since the '60s. I'm guessing this because they were old. Almost all of them. We should have known how this crowd was going to behave by the high percentage of animal print blouses.

The show was great. It was highly enjoyable to see a bunch of Swedes dancing around on the stage in clogs (this was the men, by the way!), pure white get-ups and rocking the keyboard. Two of the original band members were there, playing saxophone and the drums. But, in the end, the show on stage was secondary to the show in the audience.

Erin said she had been to some eclectic shows - but this might have won the award. It takes a special kind of music to make these geriatrics bust a move. Of course there were a few teenage girls who stood up and danced just because they knew they looked cute and were trying to get attention. But the majority of people dancing, clapping, bopping their heads, were very old AND not very rhythmically inclined. The lady in front of us sure did clap along - but she never, not once, hit the beat. That takes a distinct non-skill in listening. But she was loving it!

We had a great time crowd-watching and dancing to the music (on-beat I might add). I'm proud of Pittsburgh and its' ABBA fans.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Holden Beach, Part Birthday Bash

You never know which part of the Holden Beach vacation is going to come next! Well, it's Ayla's birthday party!

This is the second year in a row that we've spent Ayla's big day at the shore. I think it's pretty cool that she gets to celebrate while on vacation (come to think of it, what part of a toddler's life isn't vacation?). We had been talking up the party for about a month, saying "You're going to have a Wall-E party at the beach!". I always thought kids who had summer birthdays were really lucky - they could have pool parties OR have their birthday announced at camp. It's weird, I know.

August 14th was our last night before departure, so Gramps & Nano treated us to take-out chinese food. It was a much smarter plan this time around to eliminate as many leftovers as possible on Friday so we weren't stuck with too much food and too little cooler space on Saturday morning. All I had to do to prepare for the party was make cupcakes. Luckily, Gregory helped and commented on the overly-stickiness of the batter and I realized I had forgotten to add water. Apparently, my brain was sunbathing and I almost ruined the party! But the cupcakes were successfully baked, frosted and adorned with Wall-E decorations.

Aunt Margaret and Gamma joined us to make the night even more exciting. But, as with any important evening, Ayla was NOT on her best behavior. There was a tantrum about the outfit, about where she would sit, about who could touch the balloons (certainly not Jackson!). I even had a tantrum and told her I wasn't coming to the Wall-E party. She responded with a crying tantrum. She won.

But once we had all been fed chicken and broccoli - and cupcakes were served, all was well. Ayla received some beautiful presents, and more tutus to add to her collection. We were true to our word and really did make it a Wall-E party by giving Ayla her own "plush" Wall-E and Eve. As soon as they were taken out of the gift bag, they must have been overcome with love - because they started to kiss. (?)
Our little girl is so lucky to have a family that loves her so much. It's a given that as her parents, we'll put all of our efforts into celebrating three years of knowing Ayla. But to have her aunts, uncle, grandparents, great-"gamma" and great aunt (sorry Margaret, we don't think of you that way - just being technical) there too, that means everything. She'll never be able to fully appreciate how special that is, simply because she has it.

I can't believe we've actually celebrated her 3rd birthday already. She was just born! She was a tiny baby who needed to be walked up and down the hallway for hours. She was learning to crawl, then walk, then talk... and now, count to eleven, try to read, sing songs, ride a bike, give wonderful hugs and ask the question "why" about a million times a day.

Happy Birthday, Ayla! I know the journey from 3 to 4 will be amazing. We love you. (And someday you'll appreciate that your parents are weirdos!)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Drawing goes digital

Our dining room table is covered with markers, crayons, crayon paper (which is ripped into tiny little shreds), stamps, lined paper, construction paper, coloring books and Moonsand. It's craft heaven. I've partly given up on cleaning this area of the house because even if I organize and stash the art supplies away at night, they are magically back out on the table by morning! Ayla stealthily slips down the stairs in the morning and helps herself to some drawing AND occasionally some candy. ("But I'm getting a treat for being good in my bed!")

Anyways, in the past couple of days, Ayla's art has gone digital. That's the normal thing now, isn't it? Do they have computer lessons in pre-school? I've seen Bert making digital images out of his oatmeal on Play With Me, Sesame.

Gregory is teaching our daughter the nuances of using the mouse and choosing colors to create her masterpieces. Here are some of the prototypes, soon to be submitted to PIXAR for consideration:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Holden Beach, Part Pictures

The photogenic Abell clan deserved a post with only pictures, so here goes!

Apparently, Jackson likes his solo time on the beach.

A nature walk with Nano

Ayla is enthralled with Uncle Raul

Gotta love their faces...
The only time throwing sand is allowed.

Ayla loves throwing her laundry...

Where's Genevieve?
Teen model shoot!
My feet (and poison ivy) enjoy the water!

Rachel's baby talks to us!

The infamous Chinese cat hat!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to school, back to school....

"To prove to Dad that I'm not a fool..." Every time I see a commercial about back-to-school shopping or an ad in the paper, I hear Billy Madison singing that song in my head. Back to school.... it really is one of my favorite times of year. Of course I'm sad to see summer end and I'm not the biggest fan of cold weather. But in September, at the beginning of the school year, so many things begin. Another grade, first semester at college, last semester of college, new classes, new activities, etc.

Maybe I'm just proving how much of a nerd I really am, but now that I'm officially out of school, I really miss it. I miss learning (gasp!!!). I might even miss homework. But I always loved the excitement associated with moving forward another grade in high school or moving to a new place to start college or going back to dance classes at Carol Leone's. I got to see my friends again (after all those promises to hang out over the summer that never quite happened as much as you would have liked). Even back-to-school shopping was a thrill. Pencils, notebooks (left-handed spiral bound), paper, Trapper Keepers(!), clothes, shoes, shower caddy and all of the things to fill a dorm room.

I remember all of the places I've been in the start of fall. So ridiculously long ago, when my family got in the car to drive me to Purdue - my first year of college! I moved into THE smallest dorm room of all time in Meredith Hall where I was paired up with the perfect roommate for me. I was probably wearing my lame overalls and sporting my backpack. My sister, Eve, walked down the hall first and knocked on the door. When Sara opened the door, Eve must have panicked and just stared at her. I don't know if Sara thought she was getting a junior-high prodigy roommate, but it broke the ice and started a friendship that I still treasure today. Along with Amy and Jen across the hall, we explored the campus together, joined APO and followed Amy on adventures with ROTC friends. We took the hike over to a far dining hall for chicken fingers on Thursday nights. We dressed up for "pimp and hoe" parties and spent all of our money in the convenience store downstairs while watching ER.

A transfer to Penn State, after hustling with 18 credits of summer classes and one spot in the overflow study lounge! Once I set up my bed-tent, it was quite fun. There I met Kate, who is crazy in a very good way, and some others who were crazy in a bad way. There I met Liz who later was my confidante apartment-mate who listened to me through a very emotional year.

Countless moves in apartments, where I shared my life with friends like Darcy (who always made delicious coffee and made me laugh) and Ilyse (who made me laugh even harder and helped throw the best Halloween party ever.) So many times, I loaded up the car with clothing, groceries, laundry detergent, hangers, those expensive textbooks and picture frames.

So, September always brings back those memories. Now I have children who will very soon start the process. I'll feel conflicted and terrified the first time I put Ayla on a school bus, but I know she'll be entering the same journey. It's good for us to meet new friends and new challenges. Perhaps that's what I really miss. We spend the first half of our lives with constant change - new subjects to learn, new friendships and old friendships falling apart, new goals and new ideas. Then - we get jobs and settle into a career, and all of a sudden you realize that consistency is now the new ideal.

Here is a picture from my first grade class, I dare you to look at it and not feel some kind of wistfulness for that back-to-school feeling! All we had to worry about was whether our lunches were adequately packed with PB&J's and Billy Madison's favorite, Snack Packs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Diaper Catch-22

Instead of the highly anticipated Holden Beach, Part Two (insert sarcasm here), I've decided to post an update about Jackson's butt. Seriously. It's not a happy butt right now. And as a parent, I'm pretty obsessed with the happiness of my childrens' butts.

We've gone down this road before. It's a tiny red dot one minute and the next it is a raging rash. But when you combine an upset stomach, cloth diapers (which I truly adore except for this one annoying quality - they exacerbate any slight irritation) and Jackson's sensitive butt - you've got an apocalyptic situation!

We had been concerned about the bright red quality of Jackson's poor little butt, and the pediatrician had not called back with a prescription cream. When I got home from work last night after ten, Gregory had just put both of our children to sleep. The inconsolable screaming began at 10:45. Anyone who knows Jackson will attest that he is NOT a fussy baby. He will cry maybe once every few weeks. But last night, he was shrieking, screaming and shaking with pain. That's when I lost it.

It was off to the tried-and-true emergency room at Sewickley Hospital. Perhaps I'm a little bit of a spaz, but when it's late at night and your otherwise passive baby won't even be held... it's hard to be rational. The best part was that I drove Gregory's car, a manual, and literally yesterday was the first time I'd driven it alone. I probably looked like a crazed mother at midnight, stalling and revving the engine down the highway. (Let's not even mention when I had to use reverse in the tight hospital parking lot.)

All of the scenarios pass through your mind, especially after reading our go-to parenting book The American Academy of Pediatrics Age 1-5. Rotavirus? Food poisoning? Dehydration? His lips looked awfully puffy. Allergic reaction? And this damn diaper Catch-22. The wet diaper is causing the horrible dermatitis but you have to keep the diaper on - we have a wet-vac, but I certainly don't feel like using it every 15 minutes.

The emergency room doctors and nurses are always wonderful, though, making an unpleasant experience just a little bit better. The best part is they never make you feel like you're overreacting (even if you are). For some reason, the staff we saw last night were all men and they were especially sympathetic with Jackson's condition. No man likes to see another man like that! They had all dealt with the same situation with their own babies, and showed no problems helping me gently rinse his chafed butt with water every 10 minutes or so.

(FYI: It may seem counter-intuitive, but they advised that they LAST thing you should ever use on a rash is baby wipes. Say what? Yeah, apparently they burn like hell. Makes me all the more wary of the chemicals in those things. Luckily, we are stocked with cloth wipes that are just soaked in water.)

We were given the prescription to stock up on Pedialyte, Vaseline and lots of naked time. His tears in the ER proved that he wasn't yet dehydrated and while the rash looked terribly painful, it wasn't infected. And I was rushed out the door so I could get to Giant Eagle before the 1 am closing.

He is looking better today and sucking down that Pedialyte. Aahhh, the details of our lives. Babies and butts. And that's the end of the story about Jackson's heinie.