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Showing posts from January, 2019

2019 Hello New Blog!

I have moved my blog over to this free Blogger site instead of using and paying (quite a lot) for hosting through GoDaddy. As a result, all of my past posts from September, 2013 through December, 2018 are archived under January, 2019. It didn't feel like I was using my blog enough to warrant paying for it, but I also didn't want it to disappear completely, so here is my compromise. If there isn't much going on over here, you can find my regular content over on the Idaho Falls Mom's Blog.

2018, December: A Year

It feels like 2018 passed in a blur. I'm not entirely sure what we did; I just know that I'm tired. SO tired! The year started with struggles. Ophelia wasn't eating and I wasn't coping. Fortunately, solids helped her, and this success combined with some therapy helped me. She then had a succession of ear infections and stopped responding to ALL the antibiotics so ear tubes went in. Life got easier after that. We did our annual trip to Yellowstone for opening weekend, Christian's parents came out for Easter, we spent a rainy weekend at Henry's Lake, we captured and looked after a giant caterpillar (Mr Happy), and Declan went to the theater for the first time to see Joseph. Summer brought gymnastics and swimming for Declan and a new venture with the Idaho Falls Moms Blog for me. Declan also attempted to bite off half of his tongue at school one day. My parents came out for five weeks in the fall and we enjoyed two wonderful cabin trips in Challis with boat rides…

2018, August: Idaho Falls Mom's Blog!

I'm incredibly proud to be a contributor for the new Idaho Falls Mom's Blog, which launched today! I'm hopeful it will be a great motivator for my writing, but also a way to meet local moms. I'm useless at meeting new people and this group should force me to be social - it already has once when we took our headshots (which look amazing, btw). Writing a post or two each month for the mom's blog means I will definitely be neglecting this site - so check out my posts over there. I plan to write about ARTitorium stuff, crafting with a toddler, and general parenting topics (next post - potty training!).

2018, May: It’s Mother’s Day, but who am I?

My husband recently got a new hobby. It takes him away from the house for a few hours one weekend morning almost every week. It's making him very happy and doesn't seem to cost too much, so I should be thrilled, but it's pissing me off. Why? I'm not entirely sure. It could be because it means after an exhausting week of working and dealing with the kids every morning and evening, I'm left alone with them for a few hours when I could really use some back-up. Maybe it's because I don't feel like I get to have a hobby of my own right now. Or it's because I'm so, so, tired and would like to take an undisturbed nap. Or have a lie-in. Or just sit in peace and quiet for 20 minutes.

Everything I do revolves around the kids: their interests, needs, attention spans, and schedules. I don't really mind this, I even enjoy it most of the time. I'm stuck in this weird place where I'm sad that I don't really have any friends to hang out with, but if…

2017, December: EAT Baby EAT (or Postpartum Depression SUCKS)

Ophelia arrived and we thought she was an easy baby. Easier than Declan, for sure! Then her two month appointment came around and we found out that she wasn’t gaining enough weight. In the two months since then, we’ve been back at the doctor’s at least every two weeks (and sometimes more) for weight checks. We’ve tried different formulas, different bottles, different nipples, and different positions. We’ve given her two different reflux medicines and probiotic drops. We’re working with an Occupational Therapist and talking about whether we need to see a GI specialist. We’ve tried fortifying the formula. We started solids early. The doctors are flummoxed and I am frustrated. The girl just does not want to eat. Every time we seem to be doing better and I start to feel hopeful, she plummets again. A slight fever or shots or congestion or a new person can send her spiraling downward and my mood right alongside. I was so excited to get through those first few weeks of baby blues without si…

2017, October: Kid x 2

It would be great if you could experience having two kids before you have the first. Oh, the things you would then appreciate when you just have one! I had no idea!
Mornings. It took me months to get into a good morning routine with Declan. Once we did, it was awesome. I would get up around 6, get ready, have my all-important cup of tea, then go get Declan up sometime around 7-7.30 and get him ready before we both left shortly after 8. My 30-40 minutes of peace every day was heaven. My chance to sit still, read a book, and drink my tea in silence. Now there's a BABY to fit in. A baby who is sorta on a schedule but not completely. A baby who can't hold her own bottle yet. A baby who can't be put down for very long. Argh. I miss my quiet cup of tea SO MUCH. But on days that I get everyone up, fed, dressed and out of the house before 9 I feel so FREAKIN' ACCOMPLISHED. Almost more accomplished than anything I've ever done in my career. It's absurd.Sleep. Declan ha…

2017, August: Oh Ophelia

Ophelia Rose arrived at 1.43pm on August 23 weighing 7lb 2oz! Her birth story could not be more different than Declan's. At exactly 39 weeks, my alarm woke me for work at 6.15am. I hit the snooze. When it went again at 6.24am, I hit the snooze, rolled over, and felt my water break. I hadn't felt a single contraction, so it was completely surreal to be telling Christian that I was in labor. I popped downstairs to tell my visiting parents that we were off to the hospital so they could get Declan up and get him to school, and we headed out. At the hospital, they confirmed I had indeed "grossly ruptured" and put me on a pitocin drip since I hadn't yet felt a contraction. I was undecided about an epidural this time, since part of me feared that the epidural was to blame for Declan's long delivery and the fluid in his lungs that sent him to the NICU. By 5cm, however, I was at an 8 on the pain scale and all doubts went out the window - the epidural man was called.…

2017, April: The Easter Egg Hunt

Last year we attempted to go to the local Easter egg hunt. We arrived a few minutes late because we didn't know any better. The hunt was, of course, over. This year we were determined to do better and arrived 15 minutes before the hunt was due to begin...

Now we just had to keep a 2-year-old from collecting any eggs until the siren sounded at 10am. Declan seemed to understand.

He was getting restless. Sneaking one foot over the line, edging forward on his bum, running away to try and enter from a different location...


Now he was done. He wanted to go home. Kept trying to pull us away from the eggs and towards the car. "Mummy go home! Mummy go home now!" Cried when we told him he just had to wait a few more minutes.


No siren.


The siren sounded! Declan suddenly did not want to collect any eggs. He cried if we tried to lead him towards them. Absolutely refused to participate.


Most of the eggs had been collected by normal toddlers. We f…

2017, February: Old Mom (Mum)

We took Declan to "Blast Off" for his second birthday. This is one of those places with ball pits, tunnels, slides, ropes, and random socks. (I think they call it "soft play" in England, though I don't know why, because not much of it is soft.)

Declan had a blast, and we had a great time chasing after him and rescuing him from tunnels. It was busy, full of young parents and crazy children. There was a couple there with a toddler and a baby. I was fascinated by them, because she looked at least as old as me (I'm 37). I wanted to go up to her and say, "hey, you're an old mom! Can we be friends?" But I didn't, mostly because I was scared she'd tell me she was actually the grandma. I'm not kidding. If we still lived on the east coast, I'm sure I would know many moms as old as me and older, but here? Most moms of toddlers are in their early twenties. That's around fifteen years younger than me. FIFTEEN. If she was in her forties…

2016, November: "Winning" with a Toddler

I was complaining to a friend yesterday about Declan refusing to wear a bib. She said "you know you get to win sometimes, right?" That stuck with me. I like to win, but how do you really win with a toddler? Consider the following and tell me which are the winning scenarios...? (Now, if you're a good parent you will tell me that my relationship with my kid shouldn't be about winning or losing. Yeah yeah, you don't know me at all. Everything is about winning or losing.)

One: Declan doesn't want to wear clothes. I could a) send him to school without a shirt in the middle of Idaho winter or b) force clothes on him which involves screaming, biting, kicking, and punching. Which is the win?

Two: Declan doesn't want to eat anything other than muffins for any meal ever (except at daycare, where he eats almost anything, which is both reassuring and annoying). Do I a) try to get him to eat something else even though he might then scream and/or whine for at least the n…

2016, November: How to not be an ASS about politics on social media

Hello. It's your lovely British-American friend here. I never post about politics. I rarely talk about politics (though my husband does - usually enough for both of us and then some). This will probably be my one and only vaguely political post, and hopefully it won't lose me too many friends.

I voted this morning. It was my first US presidential election, and I think you'll agree that it was a pretty shitty one. I'm not going to tell you who I voted for. I'm a strong believer in the idea that you never ask anyone about their politics, religion, or salary. If you want to disclose your beliefs that's absolutely fine with me, but I'm not going to. I am, however, going to provide some general tips about how to behave during election season (which currently seems to last about 400 years):
If you are passionate about the candidate you will be voting for and feel the need to share, then by all means DO tell me (and the internet) who you voted for and why. I am in…

2016, September: 100 Words

Declan reached 100 words today. (Realistically, he probably reached this number much sooner, since there are undoubtedly words that he uses at daycare that I haven't heard yet.) It's been a fascinating journey to experience. At his 15-month doctor appointment he had maybe five words. Now, at 19 months, he has at least 100. His speech has exploded with new words arriving almost every day. He knows colors, shapes, animals, vehicles... and SpongeBob, embarrassingly. (The full list of his first 100 words is below.)

100 words is a lot, but a long way from being enough for effective communication. This progression, and Declan's frustration when he cannot make us understand what he wants, has me thinking a lot about language development and about how many words would be enough?

I've followed the Nieder family blog/Facebook page for many years now. I discovered them long before I had a kid, long before we even thought that children might be in our future. I don't remember …

2016, June: Ten Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Make sure to move as far away from family members as possible so you will have no choice but to travel with your child. It is particularly important here to move somewhere that does not have a major airport nearby so you are guaranteed a trip with either multiple flights/layovers or a long drive.If you are driving long distances in the heat, your vehicle does not require air conditioning. The oppressive and extremely uncomfortable heat will be a welcome distraction from the monotony of the journey.Spend money on brand new toys for the journey so you can produce them at intervals to surprise and delight your child. You are guaranteed at least 20 seconds of entertainment before the toy is thrown under the seat or at another passenger. 20 whole seconds! The joy!Ask the flight attendants to please bring you your in-flight meals, cold drinks, and hot drinks all at the same time so you can practice your simultaneous juggling, wrestling, and contortion skills (here you are wrestling with the…

2016, April: Glasses for Declan

Declan and I visited the optometrist today. We've been noticing for a few months now that he has a tendency to cross his eyes. Both eyes occasionally slide to the center, but the right more than the left.

The doc said that this was caused either by overly tight eye muscles, which might require surgery, or by farsightedness. She put some drops into his eyes to relax the muscles, then used a retinoscope to shine a light in his eyes and take a look at the reflection off his retinas. She determined immediately that he is farsighted - severely in his right eye and moderately in his left. Farsightedness results from the eye being too short:
The good news is that as he grows, his eyes will grow too, and the problem will hopefully reduce. However, since the right eye is so much worse than the left, it is unlikely to go away completely (if the right eye grows enough to correct the problem, then his left eye will likely be too big and become nearsighted).

Long story short, the boy has to w…

2016, March: Survival tips from the first year

Declan is now one year and a bit. He's a ton of fun most of the time (some of the time he's whiny and annoying and picky about food, but the fun times make up for all of that). He still only sleeps through the night occasionally and we're definitely dealing with a nighttime-pacifier-addiction, but whatever. It's handle-able (see #3 below).

I received a lot of advice while pregnant and during Declan's first few months. Some advice was annoying, some might have been helpful but I wouldn't know since I wasn't in a place that I could hear it. However, a few tidbits were very valuable and will stick with me if I ever decide to be brave and have another baby, so I wanted to put them down on (virtual) paper and share them with you. So listen up (or don't, see #6 below) - especially if you have not yet had a kid and think that you might in the future. Nothing will ever prepare you adequately for the chaos, but these tips might help. And thank you to the wonderf…

2016, February: Changed Leader; Leader of Change

I just participated in the Idaho Change Leader Institute. This is a professional development program organized by the Idaho Commission on the Arts for leaders in arts administration across the state of Idaho. The concept began in Utah in 2003 (formally implemented in 2005), and is currently available in several states across the western U.S. There were twelve of us in this year's Idaho program, which took place in Boise. Executive directors, program directors, and all kinds of manager-types from arts councils, performing arts centers, and other arts orgs. Twelve strong, opinionated, passionate, sometimes-theatrical, funny, outspoken, overworked, creative leaders in one room for three days. It was interesting to say the least.
I didn't really know what to expect going in, and was mostly nervous about having to spend (i.e. waste) time participating in ridiculous ice-breakers and team-building exercises. I needn't have worried, however. While there were certainly group activ…

2016, January: Who Should Pay for the Arts

Working for a small nonprofit after the Goliath that is the Smithsonian has been an eye-opening experience. We're constantly doing - as my boss likes to call it - "the hustle." A great deal of time, energy, and resources is spent (and stress, sleepless nights, and several tears are experienced) while chasing funding instead of working on the mission, while the mission remains crucial to bringing in the money as well as being the reason we're all here. It's difficult to maintain that balance while keeping the organization afloat and the staff (mostly) sane. It's made me think a great deal about who should pay for what we do. I believe the arts are critically important and I am incredibly proud that a town the size of Idaho Falls (serving a population of around 100,000 in the city and surrounding rural areas) has art galleries, a large, historic theater that brings in nationally touring productions, and the-first-of-its-kind interactive art and technology cente…

2015, November: A Recipe for Better Bums

Declan has been suffering from bad diaper rash since his diet became more varied. So bad that it would bleed and he would scream and the usually-amazing Butt Paste did nothing. A friend's friend sent along the following recipe for homemade diaper cream, which is awesome and magical and wonderful and worthy of a blog post so that others might share in the awe, magic, and wonder.
1 large tub Aquaphor (or store brand version) 1/3 bottle liquid antacid (Maalox or store brand equivalent) 1/3 tube A&D ointment  Mix together in a large bowl, pop into tupperwares, apply to sore bottoms everywhere. The particularly amazing aspect of this concoction is that it easily spreads over other creams or ointments that you might be using (anti fungal or antibiotic - we're using both) without having to wait for them to dry, which typical diaper creams do not. You're welcome.

2015, November: Gratitude

It's my thirteenth Thanksgiving in America and my second as a bonifide U.S. citizen. I like the holiday primarily because I LOVE Christmas dinner and Thanksgiving provides a wonderful opportunity to eat it twice every year. And, even better, two lots of leftover sandwiches. Mmmmm. I also very much like a holiday during which people think about what makes them thankful. Facebook has been full of gratitude this week and it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. This is a time to be grateful and to count your blessings. So here are some of mine. In no particular order, I am thankful for...
Declan. Of course. Holy-mother-of-all-things-amazing he's just the greatest thing in the world. I can't believe he's real.My bed. Several years ago, Christian and I spent far too much money on a new bed (we even financed it forgoodnesssake). But you know what? It's been worth every penny. Back when we were getting up at 4.30am every day and getting home past 7pm it was amazing. No…

2015, October: Wisdom from the Eighth Month

Seven whole months ago I wrote the post "Wisdom from the First Month." I cannot believe so much time has passed and how much better I am now at dealing with everything parenthood has to throw at us. I also cannot believe that my tiny baby is now a crawling, sitting, standing, cruising, drooling, teething, babbling, wriggling, shouting STRONG miniature human being. Here are some more tidbits of knowledge and advice I have gleaned from eight months with the droolmonster:
You get through those tough first few weeks (months) and it does get easier/better/happier. In hindsight, the rough period seemed to last no time at all, though I know it felt never-ending while I was in the midst of it.Sleep is a rollercoaster. Declan started sleeping through the night at nine/ten weeks old. It was amazing. The world was a wonderful place to be and everything was shiny and happy. Then at four months he stopped. At five months he started doing well again with some major-sleep-training-effort f…

2015, September: Plagiocephaly, aka Declander the Amazing Helmet Boy

Declan started wearing a helmet last Friday. We knew he had a wonky head - for the first four months of his life he always slept in the exact same position - but we were hoping he would grow out of it. I knew I was supposed to be doing something about it (wedging him to sleep on the other side somehow), but it was enough of a celebration just to get the kid to sleep that I couldn't deal with anything else. At four months old he started rolling and would sleep in a variety of positions, but unfortunately the damage had been done.

At his four month check-up the pediatrician said it wasn't too bad and that we should just keep an eye on it. At six months, however, a different pediatrician said "hmmm. We should probably have a specialist take a look." The specialist came from Salt Lake City and said that Declan had a moderate case of plagiocephaly (wonky head) due to slight torticollis (weak neck muscles on one side). Now that he's holding his head up fine and sittin…

2015, July: Thank You, All of You

One of the reasons I am struggling with motherhood is because I'm an extremely competitive person. To the point that if I cannot be the best at something, I don't want to do it. If I can study to get better at something, I will. If it takes natural talent and I'm no good? I tend to give up. (Kind of like how Hermione was no good at flying and no amount of time in the library could help her). So I'm constantly annoyed that I can't study to get better at being a mother. That I can't get all the answers right and walk away with my A grade. And there's certainly no chance that I can give up.

I also have envy issues. Several friends have recently had babies. If their child didn't spend any time in the NICU - I'm envious. If they post a photo of themselves with their baby and their eyes are NOT puffy and bloodshot from hours/days/weeks of crying - I'm envious. If their baby sleeps - I'm envious. Social media paints an incredibly rosy picture of mo…

2015, June: Dealing with Daycare

I went back to work 14 weeks after giving birth and Declan went into daycare four days a week. I was fortunate that my employer was able to give me that much time off, even if it was unpaid. We are a very small organization and the loss of one full-time staff member means everyone else has to add even more work to their already-full plates. I am also lucky that they have agreed to let me come back four days a week.

I went back to work for two reasons. One, we need my salary. We can survive on Christian's pay alone, but I don't want to just survive. With my pay we can afford to do far more for Declan and can minimize the struggle. Two, it's better for all of us for me to be working. I always suspected I might not be a very good stay-at-home mum, and I'm not. Being back at work has made me happier, more patient, and overall just a better person to be in Declan's life. In an ideal world, I would be working 2 or 3 days a week instead of 4 for the same pay, but until t…