vivi

I Worry About Breastfeeding ALL THE TIME (no I don’t.)


This post is sponsored by Similac.  I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own.

moosh and mozzi.

In the early haze of new motherhood I was overwhelmed with guilt over not being able to breastfeed. While the two mammary glands attached to my chest look promising, the truth is they are milk duds. For whatever reason mine simply don’t work despite every reasonable effort I made to become the sole food provider for both of my babies. I would plan feedings so I wouldn’t have to pull a bottle out in public. The shame I felt whenever I mixed formula in front of a breastfeeding mom was overwhelming. I always felt like I had to justify myself, tell everyone how hard I tried because I was absolutely sure everyone was judging me.

Turns out I’m the only one who really cared.

You want to know how often I worry about breastfeeding now?

Exactly never.

You want to know how much guilt I’ve felt over the last ten years for not being able to breastfeed?

Exactly none.

my baby and me.

The only time I even think about breastfeeding anymore is when Addie brings home a 100% on some test she didn’t even study for. Back in 2004 a few hard core lactivists made me believe that if I didn’t exclusively breastfeed Addie, her health and intelligence would be forever compromised. Yet every time Addie dazzles me yet again with her smarts and kindness I want to hold her up like Simba on Pride Rock and yell “LOOK! IT DIDN’T MATTER HOW I FED HER! SHE’S WONDERFUL!” to all the mothers struggling with their own decisions on how to best feed their babies.

Two weeks ago Vivi told me she hated me. Last week she found a tube of lipstick and finger-painted an entire wall bright pink. The last two mornings she has located a permanent marker and colored her entire body blue, as well as written her name on several walls. Someone needs to tell her if she’s going to commit such heinous acts she shouldn’t sign her name or leave evidence all over her own body. I have a hard time believing she’d be any less of a toad had her milk come from my body and not a can.

November 2014

Here’s what I’ve learned about kids — some days they will eat Brussels sprouts, quinoa, and kale without complaint. Other days the only nourishment you will be able to coerce into their little bodies consists of grape skins and a handful of marshmallows. Some days they will be obedient little angels and other days it’s as though hellfire is pouring forth from every pore of their being. Some days they will get along with their siblings from sunup to sundown while other days you will feel like a referee at a bare knuckled boxing match.

It’s not like you didn’t try.

You’re just working with what you’ve been given. We all are. As long as we’re all doing the best we can each day (and some days are better than others), nothing we deal with is a direct result of what we fed our babies on the day they were born or how we have loved them every day up until now.

Addie puts up with so much from this goon.

I accept you. Hopefully you can accept me and my wildly inappropriate toddler.

(P.S. Does anyone know how to get petroleum jelly out of a stuffed bunny?)

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Vivi-isms: Part 2

So that's how it's going to be, Wednesday. Challenge accepted. ????

When Vivi isn’t meowing at me (her preferred form of communication over the last several months) she has squeaked out a few Vivi-isms.

“My favorite shape is a heart. Daddy’s favorite shape is a square, LIKE HIS HEAD.”

*****

This:

Try. Just try to pick one thing about this photo. (Taken last weekend by @justshireen) #PartyHardVivi

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“My nickname is Sticks, you can call me Sticks.”

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“Dad? Why do you have lady legs?”

*****

This:

This won't be the last time, either.

*****

*Playing in her room, stands up, walks over to the cat, squats in his face and farts on him*

*****

“Santa puts his hat on and hos, hos, hos, errywhere!”

*****

“I’m going to go play with bodies (Barbies), in the body (Barbie) house.”

*****

This:

batman and rainbow dash

*****

*Upon replacing her beloved fruit snacks with dried fruit nuggets*
“Vivi, do you want one of your new fruit snacks?”
“No, I’d rather have tomatoes.”

*****

*Getting ready to leave for Click Retreat*
“Why can’t I go on your boatcation?”
“Because this boatcation is only for grownups.”
“But you got to go on my boatcation. I let dad come too.”

*****

“Vivi! When’s your birthday?”
“May the fourth be with you.”

*****

*Cody catches Wink in a game of tag*
“Vivi! I caught a cat! What should we do with it?!”
“KILL IT.”

*****

*Vivi coming out of the bathroom*
“Everything go okay in there, Vivi?”
*Holds up her hand and uses it as a puppet*
Hand puppet: “NAILED IT.”

*****

"SHHH! I'M DOING MY NERDS!" (Translation: Vivi is calming her nerves.) ????????

“SHHH! I’M DOING MY NERDS!” (Translation: “I’m calming my nerves.”)

*****

Vivi: “We don’t go to outer space anymore.”
Cody: “Why not?”
Vivi: “Because we don’t have any helmets.”

*****

pancakes2

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2014 flu bye.

Vivi

We all ended up with various stages of the flu over Christmas, all of us except Addie. I take this as proof that she has officially outgrown that kid thing where they lick weird and random stuff. Vivi on the other hand, stand close to her for too long and she will for sure lick you.

Vivi

I’ve been stuck in a bit of a funk, the fourth annual Midwestern winter funk.

A friend’s dad has been struggling with depression and anxiety for a long time, and earlier in the month he tried to take his own life. Her dad and I are very similar in how we experience our depression, and I wonder if there will come a time when I’m just too tired to fight back against my depression. Like if my emotional strength is similar to my immune system and over time it will just grow weaker until it betrays me and takes me out.

If that’s the case, is this the happiest I’ll ever be?

Don’t think about it too hard if you do deal with depression because it will make you really depressed. (Which is why I stopped thinking about it and focused more time and energy on petting my cats.)

Who else is excited for a shiny fresh new year? I’m okay to see 2014 change over, even if it changes over to three more months of cold gloom.

At least it won’t be 2014 anymore!

Vivi

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on infertility, four years later

When we were trying to get Vivi here, my entire though process revolved around getting and being pregnant. Every decision I made in or around my house included the fact that one day a baby would be in it and so I had to plan accordingly. I’d think about what kind of baby gates I would need and where, I thought about where I would store toys and how we would arrange car seats and strollers. I’d think about holidays with a baby and how long we could travel with her as a lap child and I’d think about how many times we could go to Disneyworld before she was 3. I fantasized about how I would spend my days with this baby, how I would document my pregnancy and what I would do differently in regards to labor and delivery.

I knew she was out there waiting for us. I felt it, I just didn’t understand why it was taking so long to get her here. (I get it now.)

I also knew I wanted another girl. Yes, healthy babies above all else, la la la, but I wanted another girl.

So what does life feel like now? It feels complete. I don’t think about getting pregnant, my mind doesn’t revolve around pregnancy math and fertility appointments. I don’t feel a nudge that someone else is out there (something I felt STRONGLY even when Addie was only days old) and there is no second guessing our decision to be done even under the spell of a tiny newborn. We’ve cleaned out the closets and rid ourselves of baby stuff.

It feels really good.

We’re meant to be four. Four is good. Four feels right. Four is right for us.

I look forward to the things we can do together, as well as the things I will soon be able to do once Vivi is in school. I have all these projects and jobs I’ve wanted to pursue for years but didn’t or couldn’t because I was either too caught up in wanting to be pregnant, being pregnant or keeping a baby alive. I would never say the time I spent trying to get pregnant was wasted, the things I learned about myself, about Cody, and about other women are invaluable. They were lessons on empathy and compassion that can only be learned the hard way, and unfortunately I did hurt people in my single-minded and obsessed desire to have a second baby. I while I regret hurting others, I appreciate the subsequent lessons on redemption and forgiveness.

If you’re not sure you’re done? You probably aren’t.

If you know there’s someone (or someone else) out there waiting to join your family, don’t give up. Even when you’re convinced you will be swallowed whole by disappointment, jealousy, and pain—don’t give up. Six years felt like an eternity, but now that she’s here, those six years were nothing when compared to what I get to experience every day with these two little girls. It only took six years and nine really hard months to make the most spectacular thing I’ll ever witness, these two together.

November 2014

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929 words

1. We call Addie 'Addie Paddy Puddin' Pie' which gets shortened to Paddy then lengthened to Paddy Wagon.   2. Vivi may be the best photo bomber in the universe, as she silently walked right in front of Addie and did this as I took the picture, then silent
You know that “picture paints a thousand words” cliche?

I tried finding a thousand words about a picture when I was in Jr. High as part of some school assignment and you know what? It’s hard as hell to come up with a thousand words about a picture.

But this one, (well, that one ^ up there ^) I may not have a thousand words about it, but I do have an awful lot of feelings about it. I may even have a few hundred words about it.

I took this on Saturday at a pizza place Urban Spoon told us about in Brandenburg, Kentucky. We spent the morning at Squire Boone Cave where Addie and Cody ziplined and Vivi managed to trip over every single rock on the ground. I took it because we call Addie Paddy Wagon and have for a really long time. Cody started singing “Addie Paddy Puddin’ Pie” to her years ago and as nicknames go, Addie Paddy Puddin’ Pie turned into just Paddy then into Paddy Wagon. I still call her Paddy most of the time, I sometimes wonder if people actually think I named my child Patty and if they judge me for it. (Not that I care, because I don’t. People name their kids much stupider things than Patty.) Anyway, that’s why I took the picture, because she’s our Paddy Wagon and there was a paddy wagon. (It’s also why she’s pointing to the sign and to herself.)

Beyond the Paddy part, those shoes she’s wearing are the only pair that really truly fit her right now. Somewhere over a two week span in the summer the kid’s feet grew TWO FULL SIZES meaning her feet are real close to being the same size as mine which is weird because didn’t she just come out of me? And the t-shirt, we got it from Kohl’s last year and it was easily the best mom-override I have ever enacted. (She didn’t want it because she didn’t get it and I said “I DON’T CARE I GET IT AND IT’S FUNNY AND YOU’RE GOING TO WEAR IT.” It’s now one of her favorite shirts and people comment on it all the time.) Those legs? Still not sure where she got those stems from because both Cody and I are far more trunk than stem in the leg department — always have been.

Now let’s talk about this restaurant. The food was amazing and we learned if  starved our kids for an afternoon they could eat a teenage boy under the table. It was called Jailhouse Pizza and it was built in an old jailhouse where Jesse James once did time. Before we went in we saw two confederate flags which will always be weird for us and just outside the restrooms there was a framed hangman’s noose on the wall, we suddenly wondered what we had gotten into.The women’s cells were on the lower level (and yes, you could eat in them) while the mens’ cells were upstairs (you could also eat in those as well.) Our waitress said something about the floor but with Vivi being Vivi nobody really heard what she said. As we were leaving I showed Cody a hole in the floor they had covered over with plexiglass that we had missed before. Addie ran upstairs to dance on the glass floor above our heads and that’s when we realized we were standing right below a trap door where hangings used to take place and our kid was dancing where people had died.

While the noose on the wall in front of us made more sense, we were all a little unsettled by the realization.

Now back to the photo and the other person in the photo. You know her as Vivi, we know her as Buddy, Vivi-inator, Vivienne Jean Baby, Veevster, Veever Believer Bear, the Vivster, Tiny Dancer, Medium Sized Dancer, babydoll, the little one, the Vivmonster and the loud one. She was wandering around minding her own business but when she saw me raise my camera to take this picture of Addie she walked right in front of her and struck this pose for no other reason than to be kind of weird, funny and obnoxious in a way only Vivi can truly pull off. Her shoes once belonged to Addie and every toddler should have a pair of Keens. The cowgirl suit also belonged to Addie (a gift from my grandma) but Addie never actually wore it. Vivi found it in the dress-ups the day before our trip and never let it leave her body except to sleep, and even then we had to coax her out of it. In the morning she woke up, put her Sheriff Callie suit over her pajamas and only then would she agree to eating breakfast and having her morning pee. There was a hat too, but the hat was holding her acorn collection in the car.

These two little girls fight like crazy, and I mean like literal crazy. Addie gets all pre-teen passive aggressive, eye-rolly and foot stompy while Vivi gets all toddler-hulk-scream-rage at Addie. The two fighting styles don’t match at all and it usually ends with Cody and me screaming “JUST LOVE EACH OTHER” because trying to reason with both of them at the same time is like trying to reason with a cat who is dead set on eating a pissed off wasp — everyone loses. But they still love each other for a few minutes each day and those few minutes are magical.

bus stop vivi

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Vivi-isms

Adam and Vivi-0175

*farts* “Whoa, that was my butt waking up.”

*****

*seated at a very busy restaurant, large man walks by* “That’s a very big boy, I’ll bet he has a very large bellybutton on his butt. But you don’t. You have hair!” (Butt Bellybutton = Male Genitalia.)

*****

*Addie comes home from school, Vivi is very excited. She hugs Addie then disappears. Addie sits on the floor to do homework. A few moments later, Vivi shows up naked and waggles her bare rear in Addie’s face for absolutely no reason.*

*****

“Vivi! Don’t lick the walls!”

“Why?”

“Becau…*LIIIIICK*…se.”

*****

“Okay, poo-poo-head.”

“You don’t call me, or anyone else, poo-poo-head. Understand?”

“Yes. Sorry…pee-pee-head.”

*****

Vivi is eye level with Cody’s butt bellybutton at the moment and is obsessed with randomly throwing punches at it. I’ve heard Cody yowl from three rooms away more than once.

*****

“Will you please cut a banana for me?” *proceeds to cut banana for Vivi and serve it on a plate* “NOOO. YOU CUT MY BANANA AND THE ROCKET SHIPS ARE GOOOONE!” *melts into hysterical tears.* For the record, banana “rocket ships” are the pointy bits at each end I generously trimmed off because Addie never liked their total lack of symmetry.

*****

“What’s your new friend’s name?”

“Piper!”

“No, Harper.”

“Parper!”

“HAR-per.”

“PAHR-purr.”

“Harper.”

“Piper.”

“Whatever.”

*****

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random ankles

Last week Cody took Vivi into the restroom at a restaurant so she could do her business. When she was done, he asked her to stand with her nose in the corner so he could do his as well.

Afterwards she burst out of the restroom and shouted “DAD DIDN’T SIT DOWN AND HE PEED OUT OF HIS BELLYBUTTON!” as soon as she saw me.

Threenager.

Last night on FaceTime she asked my dad if he was pregnant.

She also currently hates trees. (She has for awhile, one evening she simply got out of the car, looked around and said “I hate trees.” Her position has yet to change.)

She blames all of her farts on the cat, even at two a.m.

She is terrified of spiders and believes that any injury or illness is called an ‘ankle’.

We’re all headed out on a cruise next week in order to answer the question that has been plaguing Cody and me since our first cruise, can you actually leave a cruise relaxed if you have a toddler in tow? (Specifically a toddler like Vivi?)

She woke me up by throwing (her clean) underwear at my head and screaming “MOM I’M HUNGRY.” this morning.

I WISH I WAS THIS EXCITED ABOUT SWIMSUIT SEASON! (suit from H&M)

I took both girls to the library this afternoon, and without getting too specific — Vivi has had some trouble when it comes to potty training. Today I was the mom who had to pull her toddler out of the children’s section of the library, as she screamed and sobbed “I don’t want to go!” I knew she had had an accident, and in an effort to keep drama to a minimum I didn’t fully survey the damage before heading straight for the restrooms at the front of the building. It wasn’t until we made it to the front (after walking by dozens of people) that I realized her accident had made a much bigger mess than I had ever anticipated. Add in the fact that she insisted on keeping her skirt above her head as we walked out…and I’m really sorry to anyone who was at the library today.

*insert defeated sigh*

It was one of those moments when I want to tell those who choose to be child-free, “YOU MADE A FINE CHOICE FOR YOURSELF. I ENVY THAT YOU WILL NEVER BE COVERED IN POO AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY.”

Tonight that little toad crawled into my lap smelling of soap and cookies and said “You’re the best, mom.” and I thought “You know what? I kind of am.” and I realized that even though I don’t love this job all the time, it at least has enough perks to keep me around.

Her eyebrows more accurately represent what's lurking inside her, not that impish grin and button nose. #WolfInToddlerClothing #WatchOutBoyShellChewYouUp

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an hour with miss vivienne jean.

“LET’S GO TO THE PARK! I’m going to bring all my bunnies. Can I wear them in my backpack? I want little bunny on the outside. BUNNIES! WE’RE GOING TO THE PARK!”

#BunnyWearing #MultiplyingLikeRabbits

Nothing but smiles and giggles the whole way to the park, no complaints, no signs of distress, nothing but shiny happy toddler. She even found a big rock and declared it “…big enough and clean enough to be my rock.” Whatever, the kid loves collecting rocks. Just ask our washer and dryer. She collected a dandelion bouquet for me and we jumped over all the “hairy sidewalks.”

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PARK! SWINGING! SLIDES! MERRIMENT! JOY! Bark in my shoe. MORE SWINGING! UNDERDOG! SUNSHINE! PLAY PLAY PLAY!

Under Vivi underdog.

“Time to go.” You see, as the mother I am able to calculate the amount of energy needed for Vivi to make it home without a meltdown in the middle of the street or me having to carry her three blocks. Compound that knowledge with the amount of energy already used at the park and divide it by the previous night’s sleep as well as the fervor in which breakfast was eaten multiplied by how much water she drank compared to her last potty break, it was time to go. Parents? You know this math.

Something in my math was wrong and everything went to crap less than half a block away from the park.

You guys? We forgot the rock. The big rock that was clean enough to be hers.

Forget that I managed to keep Vivi alive, pull of 27+ flawless underdogs, and keep all three bunnies accounted for, the rock was somewhere all alone.

I knew we couldn’t go back for the rock, her little tank was emptying fast and if we went back for the rock there would be even more tears, sobbing and my arms full of 35+ pounds of sweaty terror in my arms for five blocks.

There was foot stomping. There was wailing. There were heartbreaking sobs when I wouldn’t let her pick up a decorative boulder from someone’s yard.

At some point during the first street crossing, we lost a bunny — only we didn’t realize it until half a block later.

“You sit here and watch me go back and get your bunny, okay?”

IMG_20140819_214113

*sniff sniff hiccup* “Okay.”

The sniffs turned to wild sobbing demands as soon as we started up again “I WANT TO SNUGGLE! I NEED A CUPCAKE! DADDY! MY SISTER! I JUST WANT TO WATCH MICKEY MOUSE!”

I tried to distract her with a dead fish, but she wanted to pick up the dead fish to replace her big clean rock so I had to distract her with a pile of rocks instead.

IMG_20140819_214017

With a rock in each hand and two bunnies under her arm (by the way she was PISSED when she saw that little bunny had snot and tears on him. LIVID. “THROW HIM AWAY!”) we were only two houses away from home, Mickey Mouse and snuggles. In an attempt to wipe hair from her tear soaked cheeks she ended up clocking herself in the head with one of her replacement rocks.

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By then she just gave up. Life just wasn’t worth living anymore. In one short walk back from the park she realized how cruel life can be and crumpled into a heap 20 feet from her own front door.

Basically it’s how every adult wants to act when life gets real crappy but we’re not allowed to because we’re adults.

Next time you see a perfectly sane adult lose their mind, think of the sobbing toddler inside them who just wants a clean rock to call their own and a snuggle with their mama.

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