Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I hate you mom!

As the mother of three girls, I knew that I would hear these words regularly as my girls reach adolescence. Little did I know that adolescence now begins at age 4!

I love my children. I tell myself this all the time. I often need reassurance as we struggle through issues dealing with the birth of the new baby. My Megan, my middle child, my cuddle bunny, my squeezy-hug giver, is at times more moody than her big sister. When Sarah was born, we knew almost immediately that she would be the emotional and moody one (I have been told that she comes by it honestly). Megan was different, she was more independent, yet more affectionate. Things have now changed. She must have told me that she hated me at least 5 times yesterday. What is interesting is that in between these tantrums and name-calling, she will sit in my lap or tell me I'm beautiful.

The counselor in me knows that much of this is due to Emma's arrival. We have actually been working on her behavior all summer and it has improved. When adolescence does arrive, I have a feeling that I will realize that this is only the tip of the iceberg!

Beach Bum

Last week we went on a family vacation to Dewey Beach, Delaware.

Dewey Beach.
Where is that?
Just south of Rehoboth.
Oh, never heard of it.

This is the typical conversation I have with most people when I tell them where we usually go on vacation in the summer. Often I get, "isn't that a gay beach?" or "I used to party there when I was in college".

My family has been going to Dewey Beach since long before it was a popular party destination for the "college-age" or "got-my-first-real-job" crowd. I remember when there were only a handful of houses and condo buildings. I'm pretty sure the farm on the bay side was still there when we would go as a family in the mid-1970's. Now it is a housing development. The location we stayed at this year (we rarely stray far from the New Orleans Street location of my youth) actually stands on the spot where a little old lady's house used to be amongst the sand dunes. As children, my sister and I, along with family friends, would play games in those dunes and wonder about the woman inside the house.

Dewey has changed over the years, but yet it has stayed pretty much the same. It is a laid-back beach where the locals and regulars all seem to know one another. You are within walking distance to stores and restaurants. Yet there is no boardwalk crowd (a good thing for us, but a drawback for some). The same families have been running the businesses for decades and are very welcoming. My mother gets a kick out of her interaction with the man that runs Vavala's (the local newsstand/beachwear store/post office). He has been there for years and is probably in his 80's. This year, we took to calling him her boyfriend. The girls got a kick out of that one, especially Megan, who went with mom every morning to buy her copy of the Washington Post.

Poor Pat married into this family of beach goers. He is not a beach bum in any sense of the word. He tolerates it and enjoys playing with the girls, but he does not get upset if the forecast calls for cloudy skies. He would, however, love to swim in the surf. Unfortunately this year, and most years, the water was just too cold. He has put me on notice. Next year he would like to go south for our vacation where the water is clearer and much warmer. I have a feeling that the Outer Banks of North Carolina will be our destination. I will not enjoy the 7 hour drive as compared to our 3 hours to the Eastern Shore, but I am not sure I have a choice.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Backyard Battle

There are several battles being waged in our backyard at any given time. I get a kick out of watching the fights through my kitchen window.

The cause of most of the fighting is backyard bird feeder. Earlier this summer, after careful deliberation and discussion with a salesperson at a local store, The Backyard Naturalist , Pat decided to change our bird seed to all sunflower seeds. It took a while for all the birds to come around to it, but now the feeder is frequented by many birds, especially cardinals. As it turns out, our already greedy squirrels love it too. There is a constant power struggle for control of the feeder. The birds almost always win.

A happy beneficiary of this fight are the NUMEROUS rabbits in the neighborhood. Not only do they enjoy the vast amounts of clover in our yard, they are happy to munch on the fallen seed as well. I can tell these animals do not care for one another as the squirrels chase the rabbits away. Usually, the rabbits will not venture under the feeder, unless the squirrels are gone.

The other feeder that has generated quite a bit of interest this summer is the hummingbird feeder. We have at least two pairs of hummingbirds that frequent the feeder and there is often a great deal of buzzing going on as one of the pairs feels it is their turf. Unfortunately the birds now have to put up with the hoards of ants and wasps that have discovered it. We have always battled the ants, but the feeder has never attracted wasps and bees before. I feel bad for the hummingbirds because they are definitely skittish around the wasps and end up drinking only in short spurts.

I am not sure if I should intervene in these battles of nature, but there sure are interesting to watch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Feeling Froggy

"It's not easy being green"...Kermit the Frog

I've always been a recycler. Ever since the City of Rockville dropped a recycling bin off at my parents house when I was in high school, I have dutifully put the glass, cans & paper where they belonged. However, I have never been one of the zealous crunchy green people.

I was thrilled (while there were news reports that others were terribly upset) when the county delivered the BIG BLUE BIN. This gigantic rolling bin was for all paper products. No longer did we have to break down cardboard boxes, put newspapers in paper grocery bags, or wait for a special pick up for glossy magazines and phone books. The county declared that they would take everything! I manage to fill that bin up every week with junk mail, shredded documents, newspapers and paper packaging for other household items.

I was vigilant in my plastic recycling as well, constantly checking the number on the bottom to see if it was recyclable. While surfing the county's recycling page on their website, I was upset to learn that I had been putting things in the recycle bin that were not recyclable. evidently, only narrow neck plastic containers were accepted. [This has recently been changed and now we can recycle margarine tubs, takout containers, yogurt cups, etc.]

My husband has always supported my recycling efforts, but was definitely not as into it as I was. That all changed when he begrudgingly went as a chaperon on our 7 year-old's class trip to the recycling center. As gross and loud as the place was, he came home with a wealth of information and has begun to get more involved in our efforts to be green-ish. We are now discussing plans to set up a compost bin in the backyard and have slowly started to replace appliances with more energy efficient models. Much of what we are doing to be even slightly green-tinted have come out of an effort to save money. As I look at some of the changes in our behaviors (rinsing out paper towels to reuse them to wipe down the counters, using dishwater to water the patio plants, etc) I realize that when I used to complain about my parents being cheap, they were really being green long before it was fashionable.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Naptime Conquered

Ever since Emma was born, 10 weeks ago, I have been trying to get her on to some type of a normal schedule. Her routine has been wake, nurse, sleep, wake, cry, scream, nurse. Repeat until mom goes crazy. I had tried everything to get her to take a decent nap. I was able to get her to sleep in her car seat for an hour or so at a time. But never in the crib. This past weekend I tried swaddling her (we do this at bedtime). I had tried this method weeks ago with no luck, but decided to give it a go one more time.


She has now taken decent naps since Saturday. It may be too soon to declare victory, but I am happy to be able to get a few hours a day to do something other than soothe a fussy baby. This may be a problem for our hectic summer schedule, however.