Saturday, December 18, 2010

Technology Native

I expect to have to negotiate with my husband over who gets to use the laptop. We both have business to take care of, guilty pleasures to feed, and online shopping to complete.

I really didn't think I would have to share screen time with Violet at the tender age of 2 and a half. Her love affair with the Mac started at the hands of my mom who introduced her to YouTube videos of kitties and trains. "Kitty Moobie!" is still one of the most common phrases heard pre-tantrum around here, but Violet's repertoire of computer activities is growing.

After she navigated away from the kitten movies I had pulled up on YouTube and found herself--no kidding--viewing a Dr. Dre video, I asked her if she'd like to look at Sprout Online. Her response: "Spwout Onwine Dot Com?"

It has taken her about 4 tries to learn how to play all of the games on the Sprout website. She is dangerous with a mouse and way more dexterous than I gave her credit for. She will play Barney coloring games for 30 minutes at a time.

I can't decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It's like the discussion Shawn and I had in Target as we fretted over whether or not to buy her the claymation Rudolph movie. She saw it on TV and loved it, but we were torn. A big part of what we both remember about the Rudolph movie was that the night it aired became a red-letter day on our calendars. We remember the music, the commercials, the splendor of it all. It was special because it was only available to watch once a year. Would buying the Rudolph movie for Violet cheapen it or lessen her enjoyment of it?

We came to the conclusion that Violet is not going to consume media the way Shawn and I did. Her budding computer literacy is an example of that. She lives in a world of On Demand Calliou and a never-ending stream of kitten movies. We grew up watching television specials once a year (with commercials!) and having posters of kittens (or, in Shawn's case, race cars). There is no way we can make Violet's childhood the same as ours, nor should we.

So we bought the whole damn Christmas Treasury including Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

But I'm not going to let her watch them after New Year's Day or before Thanksgiving.

There have to be some rules, after all.

Monday, November 29, 2010

An Alternative to Water Boarding

I can't for sure say how well this would work when cracking a terrorist, but it seemed to drive a Lhasa Apso to her breaking point.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Thankfully, I can truly appreciate my mom now that I am a mom.

Thankfully, a glass of wine cuts my annoyance at picking up crayons for the 12th time today.

Thankfully, I get to work part-time.

Thankfully, I have a daughter with a healthy body and inquisitive mind.

Thankfully, Scout doesn't have to be put to sleep immediately.

Thankfully, I live close to my mother.

Thankfully, Violet is sleeping like an angel.

Thankfully, my siblings are still a big part of my life.

Thankfully, our marriage is the safest place I know.

Thankfully, cleaning up dog whizz is less tedious when said dog is on her last leg.

Thankfully, I threw out the Halloween candy before the pies arrive.

Thankfully, I found volunteer work that feeds my soul.

Thankfully, little boys are a part of my life even if I never have a son.

Thankfully, Shawn doesn't pick on me for being a little soft in the middle.

Thankfully, I have nutritious food to eat and usually have enough sense to choose it over Kit-Kats.

Thankfully, there are still interesting people to meet, books to read, and places to visit.

Thankfully, I was plunked down in the right place, during the right time, and among the right people. I have never known war or hunger or poverty. Amazingly, I am surrounded by people who love me and care for me and who show me how to do the same for others.

I am so fortunate and so, so, thankful.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Bad Habit

This post has been a bitch to write. I write it because I believe wholeheartedly in the science behind it and I think parents simply aren't being given all of the choices when it comes to sleep. Humans have shared sleep for tens of thousands of years. We were designed for it. Our babies are expecting it. And, clearly, Violet rocks (in part) because of it!!

I spent the first Saturday of October at The Safe Sleep Symposium put on by Safe Sleep Indiana. I heard three speakers, all of them doctors, speak about how, where, and with whom, infants sleep the best. A lot of people may have been shocked by what these Notre Dame PhD's and MD's were saying. It likely isn't what you've been hearing from your TV or even your pediatrician.

They said that babies sleep the most soundly, the most safely, the most NORMALLY, with their mothers. The closer the better, as a matter of fact.

So why on earth are all of us terrified to take our tiny people to bed with us? Why are there billboards warning us to "Never Ever Sleep with Your Baby!" Why aren't our pediatricians offering us safe options for sharing a bed with our infants but instead suggesting that we let our babies cry alone in a crib?

I suspect the reasons are very complicated. I know that a lot of it is misinformation. No one in an authority role tells us that there are ways to safely bedshare. Because of that, we (I) fell asleep in a rocking chair at 4am while nursing, waking up scared shitless. Rightly so.

We (I) repeatedly put a newborn in a bassinet next to my bed and wonder what is wrong with her(!) when she wakes after 4 minutes.

We (I) lie to the nurse at the doctor's office when she asks the "Where does the baby sleep" question because when I answered truthfully--"With us" --I got the hairy eyeball.

I more than suspect that the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, a trade organization representing 95% of the prenatal and preschool industry, has a vested interest in seeing that parents are afraid to place their baby down to sleep in anything other than a JPMA sanctioned crib. The fact that the JPMA has co-sponsored the national campaign warning parents about the dangers of sleeping with their babies is reason enough to question the advice. I didn't notice a warning about the safety of cribs when 6 MILLION of them were recalled this year.

The biggest reason, though, that I think we are all frightened to death to sleep as humans have for, well, forEVER, is because no one admits to doing it. Or if they do admit to sleeping with their babies, the admission seems wacky. It is tainted because it comes from somebody fringy--too fringy to relate to. The parents who eat kefir and have chickens and still smoke pot.***

When more mainstream parents admit to bedsharing it is usually in a "We know we shouldn't but it just happened" kind of way. For instance: "We were so tired we all just collapsed into bed and didn't even realize that Janie was still sleeping between us. I hope it doesn't take a month to break her of her BAD HABIT."

I rarely hear parents who acknowledge the closeness and normalcy that bedsharing brings to their family. Discussions about how to make it work in the context of your life--how does everyone sleep? what time do you go to bed? is it every night? what about sex? will he still be in between us when he's 6?--these are the discussions that we need to be having about bedsharing and cosleeping. I usually don't hear parents whose little folk sleep with them who don't think this is some sort of terrible habit to be broken.

Some of the first candid, down-to-earth discussions I heard about sleep were with friends at my breastfeeding support group. When I heard these women relay their experience, it all started to click for me. No one was recommending I stand outside Vi's door while she cried. Shawn and I weren't bad parents for having Violet sleep with us. We were--dare I say, we are--very NORMAL.

Once I got over the vast majority of America (from Parents magazine--don't get me started on my loathing of that rag-- to my peds office), telling me that I should put Baby V down "drowsy, but awake" to establish healthy sleep habits from the start, I became comfortable with normal infant mother sleep routines. Instead of combing Parents for tips on how to traumatize my babe to sleep, I read tips for safely sharing sleep and was a changed mother.

Babies (and by babies, I mean people who are very small, wear diapers, have dimples, and can't cut meat), like to fall asleep close to the adult who can handle all the shit that they cannot. By close, I mean touching, if possible. The AAP now (finally!) recommends a "proximate sleeping environment" for infants. They go on to say, "The risk of SIDS has been shown to be reduced when the baby sleeps in the same room as the mother." And really, isn't SIDS what this whole scare campaign is about? They haven't recommended, and probably won't for quite awhile, bedsharing, but they are starting to see how key it is for littles to sleep close to bigs. How beneficial shared sleep is. How lifesaving.

Sleeping babies use their mother's bodies to help them regulate their temperature, regulate their breathing, and they rouse more frequently and easily than their solo-sleeping counterparts. (Trouble with arousal is a major SIDS risk.) Breastfeeding mothers who bedshare feed their babies more frequently, make more milk, and--hold on to your hats--report feeling LESS TIRED THAN THOSE WHO DO NOT BEDSHARE!!

More sleep for moms, huge benefits for babies, and listening to nature instead of crappy Parents magazine.

Three outstanding reasons to talk about bedsharing!

***I count quite a few kefir-eating, chicken-tending, perhaps even pot-smoking individuals among my favorite people and mean no disrespect. (Sharing a bed with a baby while under the influence of anything is just plain dumb, however!! I don't know people who do that!) I am just pointing out the fact that a lot of parents don't know what kefir is, think chickens still live in happy red barns, and haven't tried pot since that one night in college. We need to let them know that bedsharing is good for their babies, too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Lights come up on a warm living room scene.

Mother holds a very young girl close to her on the sofa. Father reads a book laying flat at the other end of the sofa. A dog is curled at their feet and there are toys scattered around on the floor.

Mother: (cooing) Are you my little snuggle girl?

Girl: Mm-hm. (She snuggles closer into her mother, they nuzzle. )


I wanna be tall like you and Daddy.

Mother: What?

Girl: I wanna be tall like you and Daddy. (sweetly, genuinely) I wanna be big like you and Daddy. I wanna be bigger like you and Daddy.

(Mother and Father's hearts break audibly.)

Lights dim.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

On marriage

I don't write much about Shawn on my blog because, really, what is there to say? He is so constant, so steady, so ready to rub a foot, or change a diaper, or squash a spider, it would seem like bragging.

Husbandness is Shawn. Shawn was born to be a husband. My husband, such a gift.

He is quiet but thoughtful. He is intelligent and modest. He is expressive but reserved. Shawn loves fatherhood like I love motherhood and we have joined together almost seamlessly as parents.

He lets me plan for Christmas tree placement in September. When I mentally move our family to London for a year, he goes with it and even helps me decide whether we'll store our furniture or sell it. Shawn eats fake meat on pizzas and on tacos with a smiling gulp.

Tonight, Shawn went to Birdy's to see Trampled by Turtles and I wanted to go but sitter money always seems frivolous and it was a late show (9p.m. start--yes, I am OLD), and it just didn't come together. I kinda miss weeknight dates to smokey bars to hear traveling bands with my blue eyed sweetie. I like seeing him navigate the crowd to find us a suitable spot to watch the show only to work his way right back to fetch me a beer. I love the way he'll drum his fingers on my shoulder sort of off beat when he really gets into the music. Shawn introduced me to bluegrass--a music I have come to love--and I like to see new bands with him.

I hope he's having fun. In the meantime, I am going to fall asleep in the shape of an X on the bed. I need some consolation, after all.

Friday, September 24, 2010


Like many conversations I begin, this blog will start with this sentence:

So I was listening to NPR yesterday and I heard the most interesting story.

It was about these physicists in Colorado who did actual tests on Einstein's theory of relativity by using an amazingly sensitive clock to measure time on a quickly moving train. What they found was that Einstein was right (of course) and time is not constant. The clock on the high speed train found time moved just a teeny-tiny bit more slowly than the stationary clock. How much more slowly? About 18 zeros after the decimal point of a second more slowly. Not a lot, but a bit.

This news is promising however. Because regular time is just going too damn fast. I think I'd be willing to become the Boxcar Kids if it meant a little longer at bedtime. More snuggles, more books, more talks about our day together.

I would take 18 zeros after the decimal point worth of more walks through the neighborhood.

Even though I'm growing weary of nursing in public, with my big girl baby, I know that those nursing snuggles are winding down so an extra billionth of a second would probably be welcome.

I wouldn't turn down an extra moment watching her take in a fall parade.

18 zeros after the decimal place wouldn't be close to enough time to drink in Violet's new love for dressing herself.

I'm going to hold out hope that these physicists will be able to translate 18 zeros after the decimal into some meaningful extra time for those of us watching our babies grow up too fast.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


It has been so dry here for the last two months, I feel like I am living out west again. Everyone's yards are brittle, the leaves are starting to turn brown and drop, and the farmers are calling it a year. So when the skies finally do open up, if only for a moment or two, rather than running inside to hide, we run outside to play! Yay, rain!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mother's Bias

There is no diplomatic way to write about how amazingly cute your kid is. No matter how poetically I try to phrase it, the truth is it's just going to sound like the gushing of a smitten mama. So I'll just photo brag, instead.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Love, Mommy

Dear Violet,

This summer with you has flown by, my dear. I know Daddy would agree. He's been back at school for almost 2 weeks now and I can tell by the way he struggles to leave our snug threesome in the morning that it's been a rough transition for him. Being away from you is so hard for both of us, but, alas, we like raising you under this roof and on these floors. So off to work we go.

And, you know what, I think you're pretty happy with our choice of sitter, anyway. Sometimes Daddy and I think that you might secretly want to live at Grammy's house. Or, not so secretly, even.

But we have had a great summer together, the three of us. Even if your memories of it don't make it to the front of your mind, I'll remember it forever. Thanks to Daddy's pictures, when we reminisce years from now, you'll be able to look back and see what we are talking about, too.

We'll tell you about how you loved underdog pushes in your little red swing and how the three of us looked like mosquito bait after standing under our big elm tree pushing you until the sun sank behind the house. You would always swing longer, if we'd let you.

Your intense love of all animals will certainly be something that will always define your nature as a child. You would have a petting zoo in our back yard if we allowed it. As a matter of fact, our uninvited feline family member, Henrietta, owes a debt of gratitude to you because her residence here was facilitated almost solely by you. Since taking on any more animals at this point is unlikely, we relished our trip with you to the State Fair this summer where you got to see so many great critters. The bunnies were easily your favorite at the time, but the nursing piglets and the jumping horses are what you keep talking about. The cows were so sweet, but a bit too large for you to trust!

And even though I love to brag about your healthy diet (you ate lentils with kale over a bed of brown rice for dinner tonight!) you, Daddy, and I SCARFED down some fair food!! We all shared a spiral cut potato and you had such fun dipping it in the neon orange cheese. You are from Indiana, after all, and who am I to deny you liquid cheese and elephant ears at the State Fair?

Your Daddy and I deliberated and debated and went back and forth more times than I can count when we tried to decide whether or not we should leave you overnight without us for the first time last weekend. We decided not to and I am proud of us for making the right decision. You are still so little, so uniquely OURS, I just don't think you were ready to be in the care of someone else (even the loving, wonderfully fun care of your Aunt and Uncle), for a full day and night. So we packed you up and took you to Michiana with us where you had a BLAST with your Grandma and Grandpa and we got to enjoy a great adult day at the lake with our friends. And you know what, Violet? When Grandma and Grandpa came to pick us up that night from the lake because you needed us, I was so relieved that we were spending the night with you! I thought I might have wished that we were staying to party with all of our friends, but you, little girl, you are better than any party around! We had so much fun the next morning during our picnic and creek-stomp with your cousins and grandparents. I wouldn't have missed it for the world! The giggling and the frogs and the cool creek water were such a perfect way to spend a day.

Here in late August, I am already mourning the end of this great summer we've made together. I know that we have a few weeks until the season officially closes, but if summertime were a weekend, late August is definitely Sunday evening. I rushed home from work this afternoon and deprived you of a nap so we could hit the pool at least one more time before it closes. Your tired and tanned little self is snoozing now, completely exhausted from sun and chlorine. I know there is lots of fun just around the corner, too, with hayrides and cider and campfires and costumes. I know, too, that we have lots more summers to fill up with memories, but for now, on this summer Sunday, I want to hold on to the two-year-old you for as long as I can.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Family of Three

Deciding to make a person is a huge deal. Or it should be. Shawn and I think so, anyway.

This little girl, this soul, this Violet, who showed up on our radar screen-- or at least our ultrasound screen--about 3 years ago, has upended the whole world. She reordered the way I look at work, at food, at birth, at money, at love, at music, at culture, at family, at marriage, at BLADES OF GRASS.

The willy-nillyness with which Violet's cells met seems insane to me now.

I don't see how we can have another baby without first commissioning a study or plotting a graph or at least making a budget.

How do we know this is the right time? How will I be sure Violet is ready for a sibling? Is there some sort of litmus test to determine if we can manage a baby AND an older child? Where can I get the guarantee that adding another Pierce won't be the end to the ridiculous wave of contentment Shawn and I have been riding for the last few years? What if #2 adds more stress than bliss? Would we be crazy to roll the dice?

The "It Will Probably Take A Really Long Time To Conceive So We Will Just Eschew Birth Control" method that brought Violet to Indiana now seems like a naive approach to family planning. People have asked me if Violet was a honeymoon baby; if Shawn and I wanted to celebrate our 1st anniversary with a newborn in tow.

The answer is no.

But of course NOW the answer is "Yes." A trip to Europe or a couple more months of newlyweddedness would have been fabulous. But not as fabulous as Violet telling me thank you after I sweep the kitchen floor. Not as magical as our family of 3 hiding in closets and bathtubs as we play hide and seek at 9:30 on a Friday night.

All of the things I worry about-- money, mostly-- but also the spacing between kids, the balance between marriage and parenting, the question of school and childcare, seem like enigmas. I just don't know that there will be a day when all of those ducks are in a row, when all of those concerns can be put to rest. We could bide our time, wait and plan, analyze every facet of each issue, and still decide next year might be better.

It was priority to me that Violet get to be a baby; that we not hustle her through her infancy because there was a fetus waiting in the wings. Violet would be 3 by the time another baby came on the scene. I think we've succeeded on that front.

Attachment is of the utmost important for me and I don't know how I could repeat Violet's 1st year with another baby. After our first 12 weeks together, I returned to work 32 hours a week leaving Violet with my Mom. Compared to most working moms, that deal sounds pretty cushy.

But I want more.

Ideally, I could be with Pierce Baby #2 full-time for the first year or longer. Mothering is a calling I feel more strongly than any other pull in my life and I would like to devote my all to it. Working apart from my baby for 8 or 10 hours a day feels unnatural to me. It depresses me. It makes me feel like a poor employee and a crappy mother. Before we add a person to the family I would really like to figure out a work/home balance that allows me to be the best mother possible to him or her. For me and for the baby.

Maybe the roulette method is the only way babies ever come along. Happy accidents, unanswered prayers, babies who were only sort of planned but were wholly wanted. Or maybe these questions that keep leading me to think "Maybe next month..." are a sign that I'm not ready yet. Maybe next year really would be better, more settled, lower stress. That annoying tick-tock keeps nagging, though, and I want to make sure that the clock doesn't make the decision for us.

I want Shawn and I to be the ones throwing the dice when we roll for 4.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Little Girl, Big World

At 27 Months, Violet:

Runs more than she walks.

She loves Dora the "Plorer."

Would have books read to her one after another all day long with a willing reader.

Loves her kitties (yes, plural, we've adopted the stray that's been in our yard for months) and generally is quite gentle with them.

Has a nagging fear of the vacuum.

Is a water-a-holic. Whether it is in the tub, the pool, the kitchen sink, or spurting from a hose, this kid is drawn to all things H2O.

Babies are fascinating to Violet (maybe she IS ready for a sibling?). She would really like to hold a baby but she'll settle for having one on her lap. Baby Ava is probably her favorite baby friend because Ava's mom lets her have lots of lap time.

Her favorite foods include popcorn, peppers, ice cream, noodles, corn, grapes, cheese, marshmallows, Aly's cookies, and hummus. She is not picky, however, and warmed my heart the other day when she ate a whole bowl of lentils and brown rice and then asked for more. I am really hoping she won't have to relearn how to eat when she grows up because she'll already be a health nut.

Violet loves her extended family. She sees Grammy and her Schroeder cousins regularly and they are a part of her daily conversation. She also loves her aunts and uncles (Aly for her cookies and singing, Jeff for throwing her around) and loves visiting with them. She doesn't see her Pierce relatives as much, but she still talks about them all the time. Grandma and Logan are two names that she uses alot when I hear her playing and imagining by herself.

She asks permission before she destructs a puzzle.

Outside is her favorite and she loves to go for walks. She likes to gather acorns and look for squirrels to feed them to along our route.

She has real friends. Ruby has been her friend since way back and is still her best girlfriend. Eli recently showed up on Violet's radar and she plays really well with him.

Her words are too numerous to list but a few favorites this summer have been sump-pump and HOME RUN!. She also asks questions that have no answer and I know this is only the beginning.

She loves to wear her jammies and frequently tries to change out of one pair in the morning into another pair for the day.

Shawn has definitely earned major points with Violet this summer. They are closer than ever. Watching their relationship develop has been the highlight of my summer so far.

There are many more things about Violet this summer that I wish to always remember. I knew, though, if I didn't write a few down, they would be gone forever.

The poem was right. Babies don't keep.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Angel of the Morning

There are not many decisions we've made as parents that have been easy. Some of the things that we fretted over long and hard at the beginning have now become no-brainers. Sleep is one of them.

When Violet was wee, well, wee-er than she is now, Shawn and I talked to death the pros and cons of how she should sleep, where she should sleep, when she should sleep. She got baths in lavender scented soap to calm her when she was up too late. I felt something like guilt when she slept in until 10am since I knew so many babies rouse before the sun.

Now at two and change, Violet sleeps as she always has, like Violet. She stays up late, she sleeps late, she likes to snuggle with her parents in bed, and she naps pretty well but not on any sort of rigid schedule. And it works for us. We are rested, Violet wakes up happy and ready for her day, as do we.

I never imagined we'd have a family bed, but the more I read, the more normal it seems. Baby mammals, from lions to deer to chimps, like to sleep in close proximity to one another for protection, for comfort and for socialization. No other mammal mother would put a baby to sleep in one nest and then go off to a separate nest of her own. It just wouldn't happen.

Our baby human seems to like it, too! She falls asleep most nights in her room, in her big girl bed, and then when she wakes, anywhere between 2 and 6 am, she calls for us and sleeps the rest of the night between me and Shawn. I'll be sad when our mornings don't start with this baby face cuddled next to us.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Anatomy of a Nap

There is no afternoon that is more perfect for a nap than another.

Two-thirty on a cold and dreary Tuesday gets top billing as a great time to curl up on the sofa because, really, what am I gonna miss? And that utterly forgettable Tuesday in February is a great time to snuggle in; grab a fleecy blanket, thaw a cold hand on a warm baby tummy, and wake up in the drear of 4:15 with the world outside looking exactly the same as it did when I shut my eyes. The winter hibernation doesn't require any shades to be drawn. The thin winter light isn't enough to keep anyone awake anyway. Actually, the low cloud deck is probably as effective as an OTC sleep aid for the insomniac.

That February nap has nothing on a summer nap, though. Unlike the February nap, when I grab the baby and head to bed because a) it's her arbitrary nap time, or b) I need to get something done without her meddling, or c) I thought it was 8:30pm because the sun never really came out, the summer nap is something we both earn. The summertime nap is earned through an early wake-up and a dip in the baby pool before a cup of coffee. A full-on chalk Monet on the driveway is proof that we've put in enough time to deserve a siesta. Throw in a game of ball, 20 minutes of swinging, an outdoor tuna sandwich picnic, and a lawn that's been saturated in bubbles, and 3:30 comes faster than I thought it could. I wipe the popsicled, sticky grass blades from our hands and legs and faces and head into the cool house for a well deserved rest.

I feel no guilt when I pull the black-out shades to close out the sun so we can dissolve into a snugly heap, undisturbed by the bright. The breeze occasionally whips the blinds open and the clacking of the shades on the window sill is the only nearby noise. The neighbor's mower and the chirping birds swirl like soft serve into the white noise that funds our sleep. Violet's sweaty head cuddles into my chest and I feel her warm shoulders, her moist forehead, smell her earthy, sunscreened babyness and I know that summer naps are my calling.

Whether I doze with her or leave her little, diaper-clad butt to be cooled by the ceiling fan's gentle breeze, it seems like these summertime naps are worth pausing everything for. Unlike the winter nap, where I sleep precisely because there is nothing to miss, the summer nap is an indulgence because of what we miss. The phone calls left unanswered, the dinner left unstarted, our pink skin untouched by the hottest rays of the sun.

Today marked the first day of my week and a half long "stay-cation" and I am looking forward to some summer naps with my two favorite Pierces.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Winter is Better

For blogging, anyway.

I always swore I wouldn't make excuses if I didn't post on this blog very often. I mean, it's a blog with a readership of 10 people. Most of you know why I've been too busy to blog. And if you don't know, this blog's for you.