Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not In Public...

Pursy's newest thing when I tell her not to do/touch something is to say "Mama only". This seems like a good idea until you are sitting with a group of friends at a playgroup and I say, "Pursy, do not put that blanket over your brother's face" and she responds with "Mama only"...

Monday, February 27, 2012

My Favorite Things Ed. IV

This week some of my favorite things involved some of my favorite people! Dear, dear friends of ours from State College came to visit and we gave them an "about town" on Pittsburgh. Those picture at the end of a LONG series this week. I don't feel it is inappropriate to have every new thing my children do be one of my favorite things. By the time I finish writing this, one of them will have mastered a new skill and I may never see the stages of the process again. Enjoy and be happy!


Big world, little baby...


 The next Fiery Furnaces?....

Dads and their boys celebrating Mardi Gras!! (masks on babies are delightfully creepy I decided...)

 Oh Abita, how I have missed you since we left Louisiana...

Pursy's Posse...

 Dada had to lift up his mask to effectively administer correction...

Purslane loves to crawl into Knox's play gym and just hang out...

Baby Mohawk!!

Knox found his toes. After the newborn frog leg phase, this is my favorite baby pose...

What does a crab say??

What does a mysterious, sultry camel say?

Kids in hats...
 Knox in a fleece with a Bumbo on a blanket outside...

Pursy playing soccer... the girl has some crazy skills

Day after Mardi Gras... Pooh partied way too hard

Loungy Pursy watching The Aristocats...

 Pursy running off breakfast at Pamela's in the Strip... crepe pancakes, mushroom and cheese omelets, chorizo sausage, blueberry blintzes... we all should have been out for a run!


 Happy little man Cole...
 
 I love these people!

The ladies walking through The Strip...


 Kim and her two babes...

Knox in his swaddler ready for bed but wanted to stay up and watch the Oscars with us...

Going out for a walk with babes in hats... thanks to my to last favorite thing- 50 degree days in February!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vaccinations Part II

Thank you everyone who shared your experiences and decisions about vaccinations. I admire how much thought, research and most of all- love- went into your decision making process. The bottom line is this- we all want what is best for our children. No parent wants to watch a needle containing a dead or inactive virus coming near their child with anything less than a 100% guarantee that it will do more good than harm. This is why the vicious criticism of other Mamas is so hard to tolerate. We love our babes and want to protect them. However, there is such a thing as making uninformed decisions and inadvertently causing harm, which is why I wanted to write about this topic in the first place.

God bless Jenny McCarthy, but her celebrity status and personal opinion vaulted the idea of autism and vaccines into the world arena. The tough thing about that story is that regardless how much research comes out discrediting that link, she will always have a son with autism. And her experience led her to believe that it was caused by a vaccine. Would her son have been autistic without being vaccinated? More than likely because more research on autism suggests a genetic component. But experience is powerful, as those of you who told stories about reactions your babes have had after vaccinations prove. Fevers, fainting, severe irritability- all these things were REAL and impacted how, when and even if you vaccinated further or with your next child.

I am on my second round of infant vaccines and it is scary. As a nurse I know more than the average bear about possible risks and side effects- not just of vaccines but any injection. And so I pray for the safety of the vaccines and the hands delivering them. What else can we do? If you want to read about my angst regarding receiving vaccines while pregnant: go here.

Those of you choosing not to vaccinate I would ask you to examine your reasons again and be completely sure they are not simply experiential. Pertussis has made a comeback in the United States, particularly in urban areas where lots of kids are in close quarters. If you are counting on herd immunity to keep your child safe from diseases that were eradicated, that may not be the case for much longer.

Those of us who vaccinate, are we just taking whatever shots the pediatrician brings in without question? As evidenced by some responses to this blog, every little body is different and reactions are rare but possible. Know what your child is getting and what to look out for. This can be a respectful and informative discussion if we all agree that the goal is safe and healthy babes. Much love to all-

*christy

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vaccinations

I usually stay away from politics or hotly debated current events on this blog because I really want visitors to my words walking away with something beautiful- a picture of my babes, a story about how great my husband is, something I learned from one of my colorful friends or the goodness of a random encounter. Beauty comes from the difficult things too and I want the grace of God to be evident in how I process the ugly bits and offer hope. I want to be raw and honest but a little restrained as well... I save the swears-packed rants for beer dates with girlfriends.. :)  The reason I write is to share my life and have a record of things as they happened so that our family can one day go back and re-read about the seasons as we go through them. I love writing and love even more when my life is worth writing about because of how much goodness is in it. People, places, food, holidays, etc etc- life is just precious. Thank you for reading what I write-

Today I am thinking about vaccinations so want to write about it and I want to hear what you think about it. PLEASE READ THIS NEXT PART. I understand that this topic is a hot one because everyone is affected by this subject and if you are a parent, you have made a decision about how your family "does" vaccines. I truly want to know how you came to your decision about whether or not to vaccinate, whether you follow the traditional schedule from the AAP or if you came up with your own schedule, how your child reacted to vaccines and where you found your information.

If you are willing to share, please simply share your personal experience and thoughts. This is not an opportunity to vent your feelings about how you feel about the different camps. Mamas take too much criticism from each other and I won't tolerate that here. But I am all about gathering information and sharing resources. If all you have to say is that you simply feel a certain way- share that! If you have a bibliography of articles you have amassed- share that! I know a lot of Mamas read this blog and all of us could use a little more information.

Here's mine: we decided to vaccinate both our babes following the traditional schedule from the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics). We held off on the Hepatitis B vaccine because we felt they were already getting quite a few vaccines at each visit the first two years and their risk of contracting this particular virus was the lowest out of all the infant vaccines. We will have them both get the 3 step series before we take them to Haiti but felt comfortable holding off for right now. Neither Purslane nor Knox have had any adverse reactions to vaccines, other then a little grumpiness or low grade temp. We did our research about vaccines on the Mayo Clinic website and the AAP website. Grant also has a background in public health and we have both worked in pediatric hospitals and treated babes with pertussis, mumps and even influenza. We decided the small risk of reaction to vaccines was worth the benefit of avoiding these diseases and the others prevented by childhood vaccines. So that is us and we are peaceful with our decision.

And you? Thank you in advance for sharing with grace and kindness...

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Favorite Things Ed. III

I decided Monday mornings would be a perfect time for the Favorite Things post because such fantastic things tend to happen on the weekend. We have Grant around, usually there in an excursion or two and at some point all four of us are in our bed. Memories are born on the weekend...

My favorite things this week (with photo montage):

Pursy trying out my breast pump..

Pursy thinks I am SO funny...

Knox and Dada hanging out talking movies. Head control time is so great!!

This little man is oh so high on my list of favorite things...

Knox and his BFF Monroe getting re-acquainted...

These Watlington boys will always be some of my favorite things...


Friends who love my children are priceless...

I am so in love with these girls!! Time with them refreshes my soul and makes me want to be a better wife, mother and human being. So, so rare you find jewels like this.

This is my photography professor and sweet friend Emily.


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

Who couldn't use an extra eyeball?..

Pursy (on the recorder) and Uncle Daniel (on the harmonica) playing a cross-continent duet via Skype.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Faith Restored in Humankind

Just when I start to think that everyone in the world is a murky selfish louse, I meet a beautiful human who restores my belief that if you look up from your own little universe for ONE SECOND and help a Mama out, you can become someone's hero. It also reminds me to look up from my own little universe and offer a hand next time the opportunity stumbles (literally) into my path.

Today I had a list of errands to accomplish before Knox-man and I jump in the car and drive to State College for a baby shower for my sweet Amanda. I needed to hit up Target for diapers and wipes, Trader Joe's for green juice and dark chocolate and the dry cleaners to drop off Grant's suit and get my scrub pants hemmed. For those smarties out there, that is 6 transfers in and out of the car with two babes, 3 opportunities for Pursy to run into a parking lot and a gazillion muttered prayers to God to allow evolution to macro evolve me another set of hands.

Target- success. We raided the clearance rack and found Pursy some cute 24 month clothes, diapers and wipes and I remembered we were out of toothpaste BEFORE I was in the checkout line. Trader Joe's- success means I only purchased the items I intended to buy and did not set Grant up to have a mini stroke when he checks our bank statement. At this point, both children are tired of being lugged around, tired of being good and probably have created something organic and gross in their diapers.

Dry cleaners. Pursy had taken off her shoes and socks as per usual and I decided to carry her instead of taking 30 seconds to replace the footware. Pursy in one arm, Knox in infant carrier in the other, suit tucked under one armpit and scrub pants... not sure how those got in. I literally fall in the door and the lovely angel behind the counter came rushing over. She took the infant carrier out of my arms, hung the suit on the hook and took Pursy behind the counter to play on the computer. In 5 seconds my world calmed down. We got my pants tried on and marked for hemming, changed Knox's diapers and Pursy's crabbing was silenced. Her name was Martha and her random acts of kindness changed that errand from a royal pain in the ass to a nice chat and encouragement from another Mama who had been where I was. Faith restored.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My Favorite Things Part II

Am thinking about making this a regular thing... it is always good to dwell on the little parts that get in line to create your life parade. I considered making it a Top Five list, but that felt too cliche. ("alright, alright.. she loves John Cusack..we get it already") So instead, whatever comes to mind gets on the list. Here are my favorite things today.

The fact that both Grant and I are okay forgetting Valentines Day. It started as a deliberate snub and now we both truly don't remember February 14th is a holiday. My friend Becki sent me a picture of the heart shaped waffles she made for her boys yesterday and I sent her back a picture of a pile of empty beer bottles. She loves me anyway. Particularly on Valentines Day.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bars. Tastes like dessert for breakfast.

Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on Travel Channel. He is such a pretentious douche to Americans (anyone catch his opinions about Paula Dean's diagnosis of DMII??) but so kind and respectful to the people in the countries he visits. A true culinary ethnographer.

Hearing Pursy say "Mama, hold you!" from her bedroom when she is awake from her nap.

Public transportation. Pittsburgh has a fantastic bus line and the stop two blocks from my house is where the 71B will take me down 5th Ave and deposit me in front of Presbyterian Hospital. No parking, no traffic, 15 minutes to read Bon Appetit and learn why southern soul food is making a comeback for foodies.

Giving Knox a sink bath and literally moving rolls of chub around to wash his arms and legs. He is so beautifully fat.

Dried bananas and strawberries. Pursy calls them "chips" and will eat them instead of just about anything else. They have made car trips so much easier... ever tried to feed a toddler applesauce or make sure she is chewing the grapes stuffed in her mouth while in the passenger seat of a car going 70 MPH?

The fact that Grant and I have the same idea of what makes a good dinner out. We like the same kinds of food, same style of restaurant and with the exception of how we like our meat cooked (I like it cooked, Grant does not) we can usually eat off each others plate. Where we have eaten the last month: People's Restaurant (yummy Indian food), Smiling Banana Leaf (yummy Thai food), TANA (yummy Ethiopian food), Smokin' Betty's (yummy Americana), Monks (yummy Belgian food) and Jake's (yummy sandwiches). Basically, he is up for anything and I really dig that about him.

The $5 jeans I found at the thrift store. Two pregnancies in 2 years left my body a little beat up and these jeans give my butt a fighting chance.

My brothers and sisters. Familial relationships may not always be perfect but sibling bonds somehow prevail. I am learning things about them as adults that I really love- like how my brother cares for his new wife, how my sister is training for an intense road race and my other brother has embraced another culture. I also discovered my new sister in law is open and direct about herself- a trait worthy of all kinds of love and respect.The four of them are very cool human beings and I am lucky to be their sister.

That's what is making me happy today. Already thinking about more good stuff for the next list...

Okaaay, come on...

Knox is our lover of sleep. Pursy has hated the idea, practice and enforcement of sleep since she emerged from the womb. We joke that she is so terrified of missing something cool that she sleeps with one eye open. But Knox LOVES sleep. He can sleep anywhere, anytime and seems to be lulled to sleep faster when there is chaos and anarchy throughout our home . That's why this morning,at 5:45 when he woke up, nursed and smiled at me- I was charmed but mostly still sleepy and optimistic he would go right back to sleep. He on the other hand, was AWAKE. So after a few futile attempts, we came downstairs and had some Mama/Knox time. Put Adele on Rhapsody (I needed to see what all the Grammy buzz was about), made some coffee and practiced having our picture taken.

You are welcome.







Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Fancy Hot Dog Night

I mentioned in a previous post that we started a weekly tradition in our home called Hot Dog Night. I wish I could say it was original, but I got the idea from another blog I read and it just happened to coincide with my love for all things ironic and delicious.

Week one- Indian theme hot dog with tiki masala chili, potato samosas and cucumber salad. Week two- Belgian theme with beer cheese sauce, pom frites and garlic aioli. Week three- Southern theme with chili and coleslaw toppings, thick cut french fries and Coke. Week four- Breakfast theme with Eggs Benedict hot dogs, hash browns, fruit salad and donuts for dessert. This was Grant's birthday dinner, so we went a little over the top.

The best part about Hot Dog Night is how conducive it is to inviting people over. Who turns down an invitation to be fed hot dogs? No one as of yet... which makes me happy with the friends we have collected thus far. Last night we shared our table with two mechanical engineers, one dietician, three nurses, one event planner for Carnegie Mellon, one nanny, one grad student and one PhD (abd).

My favorite part of this dinner party was the way it came together. When we lived in New Orleans, one of our favorite things about the community we had and the city itself was that we could start making phone calls around 3pm and by 7 our house was full of people, food and beer. People just loved to gather for any occasion whatsoever. We have missed that sort of jovial spontaneity and last night we felt it again. And Eggs Benedict hot dogs????... sublime.

February Milestones

February has been kind of a big deal around here... as every day passes, Pittsburgh becomes more and more our home and sometimes the little things that happen inside the walls of our home get lost. Because I am celebrating things like: first trip to the grocery store with two babes. Those of you who are used to shopping at grocery stores either tucked safe into strip malls or have their own exit off the expressway may not appreciate the props I give myself for surviving an urban grocery store, but others of you are giving me a virtual high five. The first gauntlet is getting in the store at all... the parking lot is populated by crazy yuppies driving either tiny Yaris's or enormous Suburbans. It is every man for himself when a spot opens up and accepted rules such as being closest to the spot or having your turn signal on are a moot point if some yahoo is running low on organic sprouted wheat bread and needs it NOW. Once I am in a spot- most likely 1/2 mile from the entrance of the store because I would prefer to have time to get the babes out of the car without someone honking at me or grazing my backside with their car door, I put Knox in his carseat in the back and begin negotiations to get Pursy into the seat in the front. She of course does not want to sit there because there is a seat belt, and she also remembers that when I talked Grant into coming to the store with us last weekend she sat in a small car attached to the front of the cart. When there are equal parts adult to child, those cars are a great idea. When there is only one adult who is not only trying to procure foodstuffs but also keep an eye on her purse and small child #2, an almost two year old with free will and selective hearing is not the best choice to not have strapped down. Babes in the cart, actually in the store and shopping begun, I have to keep one eye out for well-meaning elderly who are charmed by my big-eyed babies and often talk to Pursy a few inches closer then she would like. I do get a kick out of hearing "you have a shy quiet one, don't you?" when their attempts to talk to her are rebuffed by her mild discomfort with having a stranger reach out and squeeze her hand. Last weekend (aforementioned trip with Grant) a lovely 90+ year old woman with schizophrenia chatted us up about art houses in New York City and then offered to watch the babes at the cafe while Grant and I "had some time alone". I was on the phone with my mother in law while this was going on, so I was listening to her chuckling on the other end of the phone while I tried to gracefully explain that we actually enjoyed grocery shopping as a family but thank you so much for the offer. If I do survive all of this and walk out the door with groceries for the week and both babies, I usually discover some food item that rolled under Knox's car seat and we have now shoplifted. I don't know if I should admit this, but if it is under $2 I usually say of prayer of forgiveness and grace and get in the car. I'm sure it comes out in the karmic wash.

Purslane has spent the previous two months trying to master her sleep/wake cycle with little success. We are still waking up 2-3 times/night with her screaming at the top of her lungs in her room. We have tried sleep training, lights on/off, guard rail on her toddler bed, we are now at 4 stuffed animals plus a blanket that she sleeps with, bringing her in bed with us, rocking her to sleep, sitting outside her room so she can see us... and we have definitely stopped reading blogs and procuring advice because it is depressing. We have just accepted that this is our season with her and we just have to survive. And as Grant reminds me when I am whining in my sleep-deprived stupor that we are ruining her life by not figuring out how to help her sleep- this isn't what will turn her into a crack addict. So it isn't a milestone yet, but we are hopeful.

Knox is still his enormous charming mushroomy self. He has been attempting to roll over, but I don't think he has the muscle strength yet to move his fat little body. :)  He gets up on one hip and juuust... caaaann't... get over. But he is just fine to lay on his back and smile at whoever comes close. Pursy was the first one to get a laugh out of him, and it has become Grant and my mission to be the next one. While I was in my week of full-time orientation for my new job at UPMC, my mother finally convinced him it was better to drink breastmilk from a bottle then starve,so another milestone reached. He is also reaching for anything in front of him and finally got his fingers around the frog pull on his bouncy seat and we heard the tinny little song play. I remembered the day Pursy mastered that frog pull and I can't believe Knox is there already.

Grant turned the big 32 this year and we celebrated with Eggs Benedict hot dogs and a donut cake. More on that fantastic birthday dinner later.. He also turned in a completed dissertation to his committee last week and even though there are a few more steps before his defense, every word is on paper and now it's just revise, revise, revise. But the end is in sight- and we haven't decided whether the congratulatory party will be for him or me. I am so proud of him- this has been a long, hard slog but very soon he will be Grant Martsolf, PhD. He is already asking friends and family for the proper verbal acknowledgment and I enjoy watching our new friends try and figure out if he is kidding or not... he seems very serious about it. I told him I will call him Doctor Martsolf, but only in bed.

So life continues to change and evolve and we continue to try and keep up. I do enjoy every stage with these two little humans, but this one might be my favorite- holding Knox while he smiles and laughs at Pursy dancing and doing her "moves" to Scott Joplin records. Not a bad way to spend a day.

Pursy at a Sewickley basketball game...
 I do ridiculous things to see this smile...
 My sweet Mama with Knox... a little fatter because she persevered!
 Pursy and Dada checking out some lions at the PGH Zoo...
 At the Aquarium looking at some "fancy fish"...
 Here we are! A rare family photo..
 Crazy looking soccer player...