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Raising Maryland by Maryland Mom

I am a Mommy. That fact has absorbed me for the past two years, since the birth of my son, Dominici (Dom). Reaching this point has hounded my thoughts for more than a decade. My husband and I battled infertility for eight years before we were blessed with our first miracle, Rivelino (Rivi). Unfortunately, he was born too early to live, and now he watches over us from Heaven. His little brother fills our lives with joy (and our heads with gray hair). This blog is the story of my Mommyhood.
  • That's just how I blog

    To the average reader, my blog posts may appear to be effortless.  It may seem as though they simply spring from my pen…er, my keyboard…with no real work on my part.  That could not be farther from the truth. 

    In actuality, it takes me a few days to fully flesh out a blog (well, there are a few I did more quickly, but they are not my best work).  I carry a mini-recorder with me everywhere I go so that I can easily record random thoughts before they are lost.  It is either record my thought process or careen into the car in front of me while I juggle pen and paper…so I figure the odd looks I get are well worth our safety. 

    On most of those recordings, you can clearly hear Dom in the background, saying, “Mommy?  What are you saying?”  Every now and then, you will also hear me say, “Shhh…Mommy’s working.”  Then you will hear a huge giggle from Dom.  Yeah, it is work.  Fun work, but still work.

    So, on to my point.  Dom ate my mini-recorder.  Okay, he probably didn’t actually eat it, but the end result is the same.  It is gone, and I have been looking for it for a week.  I feel naked, and all of my great blog thoughts have disappeared somewhere into toddler chaos.  Hence, this completely random post about my missing mini-recorder.  Enjoy.

  • Two Teenagers

    I have decided that I must be entirely insane at the moments I catch myself wanting another kid.  Silly me – I forgot that they grow up…and I recently discovered that there is no way I could ever handle two teenagers.

     

    My niece, Summer, came for another visit over her winter break.  We looked forward to it for months (ever since her visit over the summer), and we counted down with Dom over the last few weeks of our waiting.  Because my nephew, who lives here in Maryland, had his winter break at the same time, I decided to host both of them.

     

    Two thirteen year olds.  In our two-bedroom apartment.  During the week.  I think I figured that they were old enough that they wouldn’t be too hyper or loud.  I was wrong. 

     

    On her own, Summer is silly and funny, but her volume is rather low.  But once Tommy was added to the mix, things got, well...out of control.  It isn’t that they are bad kids, or even that anything they did was over the top.  It is just that, well, they are teenagers. 

     

    They stay up all night and sleep all day.  They eat a lot.  They are trapped in that weird place between childhood and adulthood…and they think there is nothing I could possibly know that they don’t already. 

     

    So, should I ever again gleefully say that I can’t wait until Dom is able to get himself around, participate in school events, etc., please remind me of this moment.  Because, honestly, I am just so thankful I was able to send them both home.  And when Dom is a teenager, I will be stuck with him. 

  • Belly Buttons

    A week or so ago, Dom made an incredible discovery.  Until now, his pudgy belly has prevented the full exploration of his lower body.  He is losing the last of his baby fat (which means I am losing my baby, but never mind…).  In the bathtub last week, he stopped pouring water over his belly and craned his head upside down.  “What that, Mommy?”

    As I was only half-paying attention, I threw out a few random guesses.  “Cup.  Water.  Bubbles.”  Each guess was met with an aggravated shake of his head. 

     

    “No, Mommy.  That!”  He pointed to his lower tummy with a very concerned look on his face. 

     

    “That is your belly button.  That is how you ate while you were in Mommy’s tummy.”

     

    “Oh.”  Over the next few days, Dom inspected his navel often.  He has also pulled our shirts far enough up to inspect ours. 

     

    Fast forward to a few days ago, when we went to visit my sister and her family.  Dom played the belly button game with everyone there, and he spent the bulk of his time with Lisa (18) and Tommy (13), his cousins, and Tommy’s girlfriend, Kristin.

     

    It was a wonderful afternoon.  But as we drove out of their development, I nearly took out a mailbox.  All because my sweet baby said, “Kristin feed baby with belly button?  Lisa do it?”  Good Lord, I hope not.

    And that is not a conversation I am willing to have with a two year old, anyway.

  • Our evening (Or, why I need a boytoy to whisk me away for a tropical weekend)

    Dom has been sick.  I have been sick.  The hardest part of being a Mommy is taking care of your kidlet when you really, really need your own Mommy to take care of you.

    Tonight, a cranky Dom was sitting on my lap five minutes before his bedtime.  Daddy came at him with a horrifying instrument of torture - his Spongebob toothbrush.  During his mad attempt to escape, Dom jumped from my lap...and landed throat down over the arm of his potty chair. (You know, that potty chair that he refuses to use?  I'm sure he absolutely hates it now). 

    He cried, then he quieted down.  Of course, being the wuss I am, I nixed toothbrushing for the evening.  He was left with a huge mark across the front of his neck, and I immediately started having visions of his throat swelling in his sleep.  So I called my Mom, the ER nurse.  She calmly gave me a list of 20-30 things to look out for and a few things I could do for Dom...from this list, all I remembered by the end was "Popsicles." 

    So Dom ate four.  Not all at once - but back to back.  Shortly after he finished the last one, I looked at him and was horrified to see that his face was covered with a rash.  I have only seen my baby that outwardly miserable once...when he ate artificial food coloring in his first birthday cake.  So I ran to look at the "all-natural" popsicles ingredient label.  Red dye 40.  How is that all-natural?  How is that organic?  I dosed my little allergic reaction with Benadryl and waited.

    Thankfully, the Benadryl seems to have done the trick.  Dom no longer looks like a science experiment gone wrong, and he is finally asleep.  And, being the paranoid Mommy I am, I will be sleeping next to him tonight.  Yep, that will be me...curled up on the hard, cold floor with one arm uncomfortably tossed up over the mattress so I can be instantly alerted should something go wrong.  Since we're already having one of those nights, anyway, I may as well go all the way.

  • Goodbye, Capital Crescent Trail, Hello Purple Line

    As I said in my last entry, Dom and I took full advantage of the beautiful Spring weather D.C. has had lately by going on a lot of walks.  The majority of those walks took place, at least partially, along the Capital Crescent Trail, a biking/hiking path that connects Rock Creek Park and the Georgetown Branch Trail to the Montgomery County Park system. 

    We live in an area with no room to run.  The streets aren’t safe – even our dead-end road – because drivers are idiots.  The sidewalks are mostly along very busy Connecticut Avenue, so we have to hold tightly to Dom as we walk.  Parks?  I have ranted about the nonexistence of them in our area before.  The grass in our apartment complex is usually covered with pesticides, and the hills are too steep to run up and down, anyway. 

    So, in essence, the only time Dom is free to run on his own is when we walk along the Trail.  There, we can let go of his hand and let him do what comes naturally – running, spinning, walking backwards, looking for rocks, stomping in puddles.  The Trail allows him to be a kid.  And soon it will be gone.

    The State of Maryland, in cahoots with Montgomery County and a greedy developer (you know who you are, Chevy Chase Land Company) next year will begin building the Purple Line along the Trail.  No study has yet shown that the planned train line will actually reduce traffic, and the greedy developer’s part in all of this hasn’t been made public, but why bog ourselves down with details? 

    The plan calls for a pedestrian walkway just feet away from a high-speed light rail line, despite the fact that in no other place in the world has anyone been stupid enough to put pedestrians at such risk.  The quiet that now envelops users of the Trail will be no more – instead, it will be replaced by the squeaks and rattles of a train (I know the government says that the trains will be silent.  Yeah, right). 

    The rail line will destroy our community – the tracks themselves will bisect the small-town atmosphere we enjoy now.  A train stop will be built here, which gives the greedy developer (Chevy Chase Land Company) the opportunity to put in high-rises and way too much retail.  Street parking will be nonexistent, even for residents.  Traffic will be worse than it is now (and during rush hour, it is bad already).  The increase in visitors will lead to an increase in crime.

    The silence that gives me peace of mind when our windows are open?  The babbling creek across the street that soothes my soul when I am stressed?  It will be drowned out by traffic and trains.  The Trail runs 20 feet from Dom’s window, which will disturb his sleep.  And that situation exists all up and down the Trail, where homes were built close to the Trail for maximum residential enjoyment.  Some of those homes will have to be torn down to make way for the trains.

    Ah, progress…thy name is greed.

  • Oh, Spring!

    Oh, Spring, you deceptive tease!  For the past week or so, D.C. has been enjoying beautiful weather.  I mean coatless, you-could-wear-shorts-if-it-didn’t-make-you-look-like-a-dork weather (my apologies to those readers still shoveling out from their last polar freeze). 

    While the weather lasted, Dom and I took a lot of walks.  We ran into neighbors we haven’t seen since the first frost.  We went to eat at our favorite restaurant around the corner, and we made a few trips to the nearby grocery store so Dom could play hopscotch in their freezer section (I even jumped the hopscotch grid a few times).

    Then came the wind, which made the comfortable temperatures not quite as comfortable and apparently brought Winter back.  And made normally intelligent people not quite as smart.  For instance, the tree trimmers who decided that 40 m.p.h. winds were perfect for climbing into a bucket with a power saw.  I watched out the window as they were slapped by branches from all sides, and I was honestly waiting for someone to yell, “My eye!  My eye!” 

    But back to the subject at hand.  Spring.  I will miss you.  And, honestly, you need to stop taking orders from that damned rodent, Phil.  He lives in a hole.  Honestly – what can he possibly do to you?

  • Octomom

    I have a confession to make.  I am obsessed with news about Octomom.  You know, that woman who already had six kids, all of whom were living off of her parents, and then decided to have six more embryos implanted?  Which resulted in eight more mouths for her…er, her parents…er, the state of California to feed?

    I am disgusted with the entire story, to be honest.  If Octomom is given a TV show or book deal, I will boycott whichever media outlet is responsible.  There will soon be 16 people living in a three-bedroom home that can’t hold the eight people already living in it. 

    It isn’t just the lack of space, though, or even the fact that she had six embryos implanted at once, which probably wasn’t the brightest idea.  It is the fact that, since 2007, she has done nothing to support her first six children.  They live in her parents’ home, her father is reportedly going to Iraq to support the eight additional children, and her mother has stated that she can’t continue caring for the children the way she has been.  The kicker is that Octomom collected a settlement for an on-the-job injury from her last job and never told her parents…nor did she give them any portion of the money to offset their support of her children.  Instead, she spent the money on more in vitro. 

    This wasn’t an “oops, the needle slipped and I put too many in” type of deal…it was planned.  Poorly planned, but planned.  She needs to live with the consequences of her irresponsible decision.  Ideally, the state will step in to ensure the safety and well-being of all 14 children.  If Octomom’s mother is truly unable to help her anymore, then the state needs to decide whether it is in the children’s best interest to remain with their mother.  Not an easy decision, but one that needs to be made. 

    This woman couldn’t take care of her first six children, and now eight more are in her care.  That is incredibly scary to me.  And I don’t see how any media outlet or corporation could possibly spin this story to justify any sort of donation or deal for this woman. 

    And that is why I will boycott anyone stupid enough to even try to spin this tragic tale.  But I will still be watching the news coverage...you know, just to make sure nobody tries.

  • I try, I try!

    It seems to be taking longer and longer to go anywhere or get anything done these days.  This isn’t because I have become more disorganized (perish the thought!).  Rather, it is all Dom’s fault.  He is become more independent by the day, and he insists on helping with each task. 

    “I try!” is his mantra, and it is one I can’t say no to.  I mean, if I tell him that he can’t brush his hair…even though I know he will end up with a giant, messy Mohawk…he will spend his life unkempt.  If I tell him that he can’t spray the counters with cleaning spray…even though I know that he will also spray the cabinets, the floor, and the curtains…he will be a slob forever.

    So I have to let him try.  Everything.  For himself.

    And usually, it isn’t that big a deal.  So what if he takes 20 minutes to sweep a 2” section of the kitchen floor?  He is learning to contribute.  When we are ten minutes late leaving for a doctor’s appointment and he insists on putting on his own shoes, my patience dims. 

    Even then, though, I can take a deep breath and remind myself that, one day, I’ll long for the days he still needed my help.  And on that day, I will regret my impatience.

  • No Snowsuit is a good Deal

    Normal 0 <!-- /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> In my hall closet (which is now beautifully organized, thanks to my slight OCD tendencies), there is one part of the clothes rod that is virtually unreachable.  I usually hang things at that end of the closet that get little or no use.  Things like my dance shawls, Russell’s trenchcoat, and Dom’s snowsuit.

    While I was doing the gorgeous renovation yesterday, I removed all of the clothing so that I could weed through it for additions to my donation box.  I held onto one item much longer than the others.  That item was Dom’s snowsuit.  

    It is a red and navy blue snowsuit, and although it seems as sturdy and warm as it is beautiful, it has never been worn.  My Mom got Dom this snowsuit when he was still an infant.  She saw it in a store and couldn’t resist because it was such a good deal.  Or, rather, it seemed like such a good deal.

    Let’s be honest.  There is not much need in Washington, D.C. for snowsuits.  20 miles north of us and 20 miles west of us, blizzards pile snow shoulder-high.  But here, we only get an occasional dusting that melts by afternoon.  In actuality, no snowsuit is a good deal.  

    As I looked at the size label, my heart sank.  The snowsuit is a size 2T, and Dom now wears 4T in most things.  Odds are that he has already outgrown it.  However, the newscasters tonight called for snow.   

    So I am currently looking out the window, waiting for the white stuff to start falling.  On the chair next to me is the too-small snowsuit, which I plan to cram Dom into the second the snow begins to coat the ground.  Leaning against the wall is the sled that has lived under our bed for two winters, patiently awaiting its first use.  

    Come on, snowflakes!

     

  • Skating Fun!

    Our family has a new favorite winter destination.  Nestled in the middle of Rockville, with a Starbucks just down the block, is the Rockville Town Square Skating Rink.  I have written about the Rockville Town Square before in my "Swarm of Bees" entry.  During the winter, the movie screen is removed, and a skating rink takes its place. 

    We have made this skating rink a regular stop on our winter outings.  Because we usually go during the day, we find street parking near the rink.  Then we walk down to Starbucks, where I get a sugar-free, decaf, skim vanilla latte (yeah, suck all of the fun out of it, and that is my drink) and Dom gets a hot cocoa.  Then we head to the skating rink, window shopping along the way.  We sit at an outdoor table and watch the people skate by. 

    I have a bad ankle, and Dom isn't yet old enough to try to skate on his own, so this year, we are just watching.  Next year, perhaps I will be watching my own boy glide by.  If you are planning on heading out for some skating fun, keep in mind that the rink is occasionally closed while the ice is smoothed.  So you may want to call 301-545-1999 and ask if the rink is currently open.  But even if you forget to call and the rink is closed, there are tons of shops and restaurants in which you can pass the time until the rink is open again.  Or you can always wander into the gorgeous library to warm up.

    Rockville Town Square is located just off of 355, at E. Middle Lane and Maryland Avenue (the new Rockville library forms one side of the Square).  Parking is available in the large parking structure that adjoins 355, and parking is free after 7 p.m. and on weekends.  The skating rink is open Monday - Friday from 12-9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Cost is $8 for adults, $6 for children and seniors.  Skate rental is an additional $2.

  • I am a very happy Mommy tonight...

    So, we have a new President.  A lot remains to be seen - whether he will be able to turn our country around, whether he will be able to keep all of his campaign promises, whether his daughters will get even cuter as we watch them grow up...

    One thing, I am very certain of, though.  Today, as I watched the swearing-in ceremony with my son on my lap, I cried.  Not because I think Obama is a great guy (I mean, he might be, but I don't know him, so I am reserving judgment).  Not because George W. is now out of office (I actually LIKE the guy, silly me).  No, I teared up because I became suddenly aware of one enormous fact:

    My son will never know an America where people like him, people of mixed race or minority ancestry, have not achieved the greatest promise in America.  He will never know a time when someone like him was not able to be President.  He will never be able to hold up the color of his skin as an excuse for not attaining greatness. 

    It is as if an entirely new world has opened up.  Because these kids today?  To them, the swearing-in of a biracial President will be no big deal.  It will just be another swearing-in ceremony.  And that...that is exactly what so many have lost their lives to ensure.  Thanks to the sacrifices of those who fought for Civil Rights and those who fight for America herself, we have all achieved something greater - Dr. King's dream.

    For this reason, I am a very happy Mommy tonight.

  • Chocolatey Goodness

    Just before bedtime tonight, I changed Dom’s diaper.  Just as I usually do.  And just as I usually do, I took off the legs of his sleeper to pull them out of the way.  That is when something very unusual happened.

    As I pulled the legs of the sleeper skyward, a veritable cascade of objects poured out of them.  Raisins, organic candy-covered chocolates and Matchbox cars rained down on Dom where he laid waiting for a diaper change.  I waited a moment, trying to think of a way to phrase the question in my mind.  Basically, Why?  I mean, I know that Dom can take his clothes off.  I know that he can undo and redo zippers easily.  But why in the world would he stuff the legs of his clothes full of goodies?  One would think that it would be pretty uncomfortable – smooshy from the chocolate candy and painful from the pointy cars.

    Dom’s reaction was one of pure glee.  “Ooh – cars!  Chocolate!”  He popped a half-melted candy into his mouth while driving a car over his navel.  “In belly!  In belly!”

    I ran a bath to remove the chocolatey goodness and raisiny stickiness.  While Dom splashed in the bubbles, craning upside down to see his bellybutton, I finally asked him.  I simply asked, “Why did you put everything into your pants?”

    He gave me a simple answer.  “No pockets, Mommy.”  Ah…okay, then.

  • "Big boy"

    My baby is growing up.  It is completely, utterly unfair, but over the past few weeks, we have had three “I’m a big boy now” moments.  It may take me the rest of my life to recover from this heartbreak.

    Dom finally ditched Binky!  I was gradually cutting it shorter and shorter, and he finally got tired of holding it to his mouth with his hand and tossed it behind his bed.  We had two semi-bad days when he cried for Binky, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I feared it would be.  Last week, Dom searched through his memory box and found his first newborn Binky.  I went into his room to find him sound asleep in bed with the tiny plug in his mouth.  When he woke up, he gave it to me and said, “Big boy.  No Binky.”  Talk about bittersweet!

     

    And, yes, you read the above passage correctly.  I said I found him in bed…that means that he is no longer sleeping in a crib.  We converted his crib to a toddler bed nearly three weeks ago, and he did wonderfully.  For the first week or so, he didn’t quite know what to do with the freedom, so naptime simply didn’t happen.  I considered it a good day if he stayed in his room playing quietly for an hour.  Over the past few days, though, he has willingly climbed into his bed for a nap, so my fingers are crossed that we will soon have our routine back.

     

    Dom is also now the proud owner of his first electric toothbrush.  I finally got tired of fighting him and barely getting the job done, so he now has a Spongebob Spinbrush that gets the job done quickly.  Now if only I could teach him to brush his own teeth, instead of simply sucking on the toothbrush, we would be off and running.

     

    Next week, we are on to potty training.  I plan to lock myself into the apartment with a naked boy for several days.  By the end of the week, one of two things will have happened – he will be potty trained or I will be insane.  Either way, my worries will be over.

    But that is another blog.

  • Boys vs. Girls

    I have always said that I want all boys.  Deep down, I am convinced that, should I have a girl, she would be a girly girl.  I am as far from a girly girl as a woman can get.  As a kid, I played with the boys - I climbed trees and played in the muddy creek.  I would not know what to do with a girly girl...let's face it...tea parties are pretty boring.  And I don't own a single pair of heels in which she could play dress-up!

    So I had boys.  Dom loves sports and trains, trucks and balls.  Unfortunately, he has a wide streak of prissiness, too.  He can't stand to get wet.  Even in the bathtub, he freaks out if water splashes into his face.  Walks in the rain?  Puddlejumping?  Those can't happen here.  He takes one look outside, says, "Too wet!" and runs back into the house.

    Because he is a preschooler (it still feels weird to say that instead of baby), he loves to squish his hands into messes.  He loves Moonsand and Playdough.  He likes to help me shape cookies.  But the moment fun time is over, he immediately starts to whine while holding his hands out to me.  "Messy!  Mommy!  Messy!  Wash hands!"

    If Dom gets food or paint or marker on his clothes, he freaks out.  Lollipops, ice cream and chocolate must all be eaten with a wipe in hand, because he must have each sticky spot wiped away as it appears.  God forbid he be expected to lick the offending sweetness from his hand.  When I suggest it, he says, "Ewww, Mommy!  Yucky!"

    It seems that, no matter what sort of child a Mommy wants (a rough and tumble, messy boy in my case), she will get something completely different (like a boy who despises messiness).  And, since my boy is healthy and happy, I will stock up on Handiwipes and stain removal pens.  And patience. 

  • All Together Mommies

    One of these days, I will magically morph into one of those Mommies who have it all together.  You know the ones - they balance soccer, ballet and grocery shopping and schedule each dentist appointment exactly six months after the last.  They whip out their Blackberries in the carpool line and cross items from their to-do lists while they sing along with Baby Einstein CDs.

    None of that is me.  Well, I do have lists...a lot of them.  I just can never find them when I need them.  And by the time I do find a missing list, it is so outdated that I guiltily bury it in the trashcan while promising to do better next time.  But I never do.  I just don't have time to stay organized.  I know that makes absolutely no sense, but it is the truth.

    A few days ago, we were stranded with no diapers.  I had somehow used both of the diapers from my purse, and the spare diaper we keep in the car was missing...I vaguely remember something about a playground on a hot July day with Dom yelling that the seat was burning his butt as he was changed.  I guess I never replaced the emergency diaper.

    And that is the story of my life.  I am the Mommy who shows up at the playground without a snack and digs in her purse for gum while the other Mommies dole out animal crackers and juice.  I cruise into McD's for nuggets when lunchtime rolls around on busy days because I forgot the sandwiches on the kitchen counter.  I dig under carseats for toll money and am thrilled when my kid finds old raisins in the backseat because it means one less stop to get him a snack.

    So, in short, I will never be one of those all-together Mommies.  If I got a Blackberry, I would lose it within a week.  It would fare no better than my paper lists.  I do want to get more organized, though.  I am obsessively DVRing and watching every episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8 that I can...if they can juggle eight kids, surely I can handle one.  Right?  Right.

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