December 28, 2013

random thoughts: trouble going down

You know your husband is having a hard time getting your toddler down for the night when you hear the little one cry "Mommy.... hellp!"

December 11, 2013

random thoughts: blessed milestone

Happiness is sneezing and having your toddler turn around and say "bless you."

Blessed indeed.

December 9, 2013

i give up (for now)

"If it's the last thing I do, I will get out this door!" That's what I told my son and myself this morning as I shut the front door and headed for the car. Well, I did get out the door. 

It's been one of those mornings. Didn't sleep well thanks to the upstairs neighbor's floor giving a loud CRRRACCK!! as they walked around in the night (and a cold that's trying to catch me). My son is a little whiny from a cold that's caught him and some molar teething. I put together dinner in the slow cooker, something that was supposed to take 15 minutes that ended up taking over an hour -- especially once I found out my son had permanently relocated my can opener. It seemed the faster I moved, the slower I got things done.

And then came the battle of the jacket, the battle of the shoes, the screaming match getting into the car seat, and subsequent screaming once I got myself in the car.

It wasn't even 10:00 and I'd had enough. 

I got us out of the car and my son was perfectly content to march right back home with me where we stayed the rest of the day. I guess he didn't want to go anywhere, and he clung to me like static electricity as I cried a little bit, and then for the next couple hours.

I guess we were better off this way, and he's been pretty happy the rest of the day, which leads me to today's toddler tip from the trenches: If you have to move heaven and earth just to get out the door, sometimes it's better to just stay home.

December 6, 2013

random thoughts: passing the time in sub-zero weather

Indoors all day with a toddler? Just follow his lead -- roll around on the couch, throw some toys around, tickle each other, eat, nap, eat some more, and when all else fails blow bubbles.

December 5, 2013

learning to eat one pea at a time

I haven't been blogging much, mostly because I feel like I repeat myself (stress! insomnia! tantrums!) and am otherwise getting us ready to move in a couple weeks. That said, I'm taking a minute to document some minor milestones in my son's dining repertoire.

He's 21 months old now, and I'm not sure what kind of cup he should drink from or how adept he should be at using kid-sized flatware but I'm learning not to care about the little things. I know he needs to move away from sippy cups that could impact his teeth so, for the most part, he's using the ones that don't have the silicone mouth pieces. Whenever I remember, I give him a few tablespoons of water in a regular plastic cup so he can practice (which he's quite good at, but usually resorts to dumping food into it or tipping it upside down so that transition is a ways off). I offer him flatware at most meals and am learning to just not pay attention to whether he's using them or not -- except I make a point to encourage him when he does use them.

The milestones:

  • Recently I realized that he doesn't make nearly the mess he used to. I'm no longer the human Zamboni, wiping up gobs of food from the floor every day. 
  • He asks for milk by name. He sometimes asks for juice, but we almost never have any and therefore neither does he. He's better off as far as his teeth and temperament are concerned.
  • Yesterday he ate peas with his spoon. This is huge! It's always been finger food. Hey, I'll take a win where I can.
The yet-to-be-improved:
  • Throwing food, utensils, cups, plates, or whatever else is in reach continues to drive me batty. I give him a firm "no" and take everything away. If I can tell he still wants to eat, I hand it back with a warning, but the second time it happens the meal is over. 
  • Oatmeal still apparently makes a nice hair accessory.
I know, it's a process. And often I forget that he's not even 2 years old yet, so I take a deep breath and embrace him right where he is. Because he's beautiful just the way he is.

November 26, 2013

independence is overrated

I had things to do. Didn't do them. Tried to go for a walk around the lake but couldn't because of pulled muscles in both legs. Definitely didn't want to do chores, though that's really my job these days especially when the boy is in daycare.

This time, I wasn't bored. I was lost.

At the lake, I started wondering what in the world is wrong with me. Depressed? No. Anxious? Not at this point. Numb? I guess. What I really was, was lonely. Even though life with my son is a rollercoaster that never stops, I start to miss him when I'm by myself. I love my husband of course, and I love the days when he works from home. But after 12 years of marriage I'm pretty good at spending time on my own for short periods. I just don't want to (he feels the same way). I'd rather just be with my family.

When I was working, it was different. I was engaged in developing content, solving problems, and managing projects. I can't say I was emotionally invested in my work but it was certainly rewarding intellectually. But that time made family time all the more precious. It's just weird.

Being alone all day kind of sucks. It doesn't inspire me to pursue playing guitar (though I fantasize about it often), or kick-start me into cleaning house no matter how many times I pick up crumbs with my bare feet (as much as it pisses me off). I think I don't care anymore about being independent, being exceptionally self-reliant, or possessing much of the pioneer spirit that defines our great country. Instead, I wish my family lived in the same state. I wish I was wealthy enough to fly every year to see everybody (though now at least they don't have as many excuses not to fly here since we're about to move into a 5-bedroom house). I miss having work friends, even though they all fall off the planet the minute I leave a company (don't tell me this doesn't happen everywhere). I miss my best friend whom I emailed with almost daily while I was working, but has practically disappeared now that I'm not.

I think being a little co-dependent and admitting I need someone isn't so terrible. This from the daughter of one of the founding members of the National Organization for Women, and the granddaughter of a woman who forged a strong family almost in spite of her husband. Trust me -- independence and You Can Do It! is in my blood.

I decided today that I really need to work. I'm really trying now to find something, and would love to get going in January. I'm doing all I can from my end, but otherwise I have no control over what happens. It's not up to me and sometimes that's hard. I want to be able to make it happen and I just can't. Someone else has to decide that they want to hire me. Hurry up and wait.

In the meantime, I am going to make a stronger effort to practice gratitude in the moment. I am blessed beyond belief.

November 25, 2013

random thoughts: nobody ever said to never wake a toddler

If I can't remember how long my son has been sleeping, does that mean I have to wake him up?

November 24, 2013

of toddler fits and starts and teeth and beauty

Yesterday we went to a potluck. It was probably great, but we spent our time shoveling food down our throats while taking turns keeping our son from destroying the world at large. I think there was plenty of table conversation going on -- or maybe they were politely talking over our drama? Not sure. Doesn't matter.

I had thought I could sit at the table with him and give him some bites off my plate. Oh, the hilarity! "HA," my naivety laughed, "You have no idea who you're dealing with!"

Two more screaming fits later, we decided to cut our losses and exit before they served dessert. We weren't furious or humiliated, we just had no idea what to do other than remove him from the situation.

Then this evening, I served him some rice with a bit of sauce in it which he barely tasted and then threw on the table and on the floor. After throwing whatever else was in the radius of his flailing arms, my husband calmly put him in his room and shut the door. Where in the world did this screaming fit come from? I was nearly beside myself with frustration.

He calmed down. We moved on.

I was getting him ready for bed, and then I saw it -- the emergence of the tiniest white nub that is known in the parental world (well, my world anyway) as The Great Nemesis, or the Two Year Molars. Suddenly, the blinding fits of rage make sense (hell, even his dentist didn't see this three days ago so it's brand new).

I'm having flashbacks to when he was breaking the canines. That was horrendous as well, and lasted too long. This? I have no idea. I'm just bracing myself.

Of course, it's not all fits and starts. I have to admit that this age brings blessings that weren't possible even six months ago -- not only is he walking and running and curious about everything, but he's memorizing words and even two-word phrases at an amazing rate. When I walked in the door from the grocery store this afternoon, he came to me and gave me a hug. He's also capable of giving me the biggest, most beautiful smile that shines like a rainbow and melts my heart, and he's starting to try to return the phrase "I love you."

Yes, it's worth it.

November 23, 2013

random thoughts: deciding on a mood

You know it's a weird day when you can't tell whether you're depressed, melancholy, or just bored.

I'm going with bored.

November 22, 2013

moving right along

All the drama has been worked out. We're getting squeezed by our buyers to do extra work, we are squeezing our sellers to do extra work, and we will barely squeeze ourselves into our house the weekend before Christmas. It's all good though.

Yesterday I booked us a couple's 90 minute massage. Holy crap I had no idea how much I needed that! I can't remember the last time I felt that relaxed. I hope to do this twice a year.

Right now my son is napping after a morning that included play time, food fights (why do I bother feeding him hot cereal?), a quick dentist visit, and keeping from killing himself by sticking the end of the laptop power cord in his mouth. All in a day's work.

I guess I should eat some kind of lunch but the idea bores me. Fridays can be weird as I struggle to figure out ways for us to spend time together -- not so easy when it's 25 degrees outside and snow is on the ground. A good friend is coming over though, so we'll figure it out together. We'll play with the boy, hit the grocery store, get pizza for dinner, and watch a movie when he goes to bed. I love friend time.

November 10, 2013

let perseverance finish its work

My email devotional Friday morning started with this: "2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

I was struck by the gentle admonition to let perseverance finish its work. As if perseverance were a force of its own, part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit during times of testing. It feels like an invitation to patience in hard times. I let it sink in. The challenge of difficult times is persevering when we can't possibly know how long it will last. In this case, it wasn't long.

That morning we waited for hours for the seller of a house we wanted to call our realtor back. By 1:00 we changed our mind -- we had no idea why a seller wouldn't respond to a potential buyer, but we sniffed a problem so we moved on. We decided to put an offer on another house that we'd seen before and signed the proposed contract at 5:00. It looks small and dark on the outside, but on the inside it's big and beautiful and has been completely remodeled. Kind of like the Tardis (Dr. Who joke, sorry).

By 6:30 that same evening, they had accepted our offer without a counter. I cried a tiny bit with the news.

There were two reasons we passed on it the first time: one, we thought the price would be too high and two, the neighbor's house looked kind of run down and trashy and we thought jeez, what kind of stuff will we have to put up with? Fortunately, the seller had talked to them in person by chance and came away with the impression that they're poor but pleasant. It occurred to me early this morning that God may want us to be their neighbors for a reason. Just like He may have plans for us to use a five-bedroom house that we don't know about yet. That's okay. We'll just show up and obey.

November 7, 2013

is house hunting more stressful than an infertility battle?

Yesterday morning we got the news that our bid on a really cute house in a great neighborhood with lots of upgrades fell through. We were back at square one. Does that sound stressful? Not really. Except that we had already sold our condo and are on a deadline to find a house according to the contract.

My husband said that this whole shitbag is more stressful than our miscarriages, visits with the infertility clinic, and waiting for the results of those early ultrasounds. It's not for me to argue with him -- those are his feelings, after all. But it sure made me think.

Disclaimer: I would never EVER judge anyone else's journey -- this is only about ours.

I'm not sure whether it's the constant scrutiny of possible homes, seeing a bunch that are either great but expensive or affordable but scary, jumping through insurance and closing date hoops to see if everything can align properly, or what, but holy shit this is the most stress I've been under since I can remember. Yes, even compared to the long, dark valley of death known as our journey through infertility. Even compared to my weakest days as a middle-aged mother to a toddler. I have had moments when I've been crying and trembling, not knowing what to do next, and desperately crying to God to give me peace and wisdom.

Why is God letting us go through this the hard way? Why can't he just make it easy for us? Why am I letting it get to me so intensely?

Ridiculous questions, right? But questions we ask in just about every really difficult situation. I suppose it's because the stress is tightly compressed into a looming deadline that makes it harder. I know in my heart we'll find a house that's right for us. I know it will happen sooner than later. But I can't control it -- I can pick a house I like and want to make an offer in good faith, but the rest is completely out of my hands and I seriously hate it because I have to wait until the next day to find out what comes next. The dichotomy of immediacy and drawn-out waiting is agonizing. Our journey to parenthood, by contrast, was made up of days and months and years where we could completely lose ourselves in other things or spend time exploring issues. Not so with house hunting. It's hurry up and wait, be wise and make a good investment but don't fall in love with a house and start decorating it in your mind because you could lose it the next day. The search for a house could be over this week, or it could take another month. There's no way of knowing.

In this process, I'm trying to lean completely on God. I'm pretty sure there is a lesson in this to draw closer to Him, to really listen for his voice. The other day I was at the end of my rope, at the end of myself, and I asked Him to carry me. 

I have actually slept really well the last two nights and have found other things to think about (which is really handy). 

I am learning that when I hold on tighter to God, I can start to let go of everything else. 

To be continued.

November 1, 2013

anxiety and the search for a house

The good news is we sold our condo. The great news is we're shopping for a house. The bad news (if you can call it that) is we have 9 shopping days to do it. We looked at 5 houses yesterday and they ranged from mildly disappointing to holy-shit-this-basement-looks-like-a-scene-from-a-horror-movie.
So we decided to up the ante a little and look for a slightly higher price point. The photos look far more promising, so I'll be doing some exploring this morning while my husband is at work.

Meanwhile, said husband is in the middle of a very difficult negotiation with a potential employer. Talk about anxious.

Last night, despite my exhaustion, I drank my hot milk and took a melatonin that's mixed with some mineral that promises to provide stress relief. I wasn't taking any chances. I slept fairly well, but early this morning I had a nightmare that my computer started scanning and downloading people in the room -- kidnapping them into another dimension where I ganged up with members of my church, no less, to rescue them. LOL Maybe I've been watching Dr. Who a little too much.

October 30, 2013

random thoughts: the weightscalator

I went to yoga class after having missed the last 6 weeks. Nothing like that to make me feel 5 years older. Anyway, I suddenly realized that trying to stay in shape in my 40s is like climbing an escalator -- not only do I not get to the top, the pace gets faster and I either have to start running or stop and watch myself sink backwards.

!@%$ that's depressing. Oh well. Back to your regularly scheduled blog reading...

anxiety and the search for peace: part 3

In part 1, I admitted my battle with insomnia and identified how I would search for an exit route. In part 2, I talked about various Bible verses that I'm allowing to speak to me about experiencing God's peace. Today is an update on sleep and awareness of anxiety.

After a good couple of weeks reducing my normal 2-3 cups of coffee to just 1, I have to say that this is definitely helping. I love coffee but it's time to admit that the hormone changes brought on by pregnancy have probably made me more sensitive to caffeine. Some days we make half-caff at home so I can enjoy two cups, and occasionally I just have to have another half cup of regular. If I go over this limit I notice a difference at night.

Meanwhile, I am trying to get up before my husband and son to spend just a few minutes in prayer. Before the coffee is made, before the lights are on and the sun is up, I sit at the table or on the couch and pray. I am also trying to empty my thoughts and give God space to speak to me -- to listen for His voice and accept His grace. This is actually pretty hard, because like every mom my brain is multi-tasking on multiple levels and time zones and dimensions, and sitting quietly with God takes effort. But it's worth it. Because I come away with a renewed sense of God's peace in my bones, knowing that today is a new day.

Even on the days when I don't think I can last until bedtime because my son has been screaming about nothing I can identify for the last 10 minutes, I remember that I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)

One other thing I'm becoming more aware of is the sources of anxiety in my life. It's not hard to name a lot of them, but I'm starting to notice little things too and trying to do things to make them not so. Like using better communication with my husband, leaving the laundry in the dryer, or letting go of who buys our condo and waiting to see God work in that. The expression Let go and let God seems trite sometimes but doing so truly brings peace.

Have I had times in the last couple weeks when I wake up and my brain starts churning anyway? Unfortunately yes. When that happens, I'm acknowledging that I'm awake and I tell myself it's no big deal, that I can go back to sleep. One night I woke up and didn't realize that I'd already been asleep so I took NyQuil. As soon as I went back to bed I realized what I'd done. Ha! Pretty silly. Oh well. I also still wake up about four times a night, but I'm trying not to worry about that either.

The truth is that I will never run out of things to worry about. I will never have every need settled, every desire met, everything I want, every problem solved. That's just reality. That is also why Jesus invites us to let him do the heavy lifting and learn from him instead. It take conscious effort but it's worth it.

October 23, 2013

the daily battle and the perfect mom

Did I mention that my 70% sweet, wonderful, love-of-my-life son is a toddler? Okay, make that 90% depending on the day. We are now full-throttle into the game of the daily battles. What does he disagree about?

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Sitting in the chair
  • Changing diapers
  • Getting shoes on
  • Getting out the door
  • Getting in the car seat
  • Getting to the front door from the car seat
  • Brushing teeth (I'm talking WW3, people)
  • Getting off our bed, into his room, and eventually after 2-3 stories into the crib


From what I read, this is about him asserting his independence. Okay, that's understandable. So, being the diplomatic professional I was before I got laid off, I change tactics. I offer alternatives. I let him have his way for a few minutes before I carry him off slung over my shoulder. In short, I do whatever it takes to get from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. before crawling into the shower and pouring a 72 oz. glass of wine. (slight exaggeration)

One thing I'm trying is something called Toddler-ease, from the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block. It's a primitive way of talking to the boy in the heat of a tantrum -- to get his attention and let him know that I know how he feels. I've tried this several times over the last few days, and... I dunno. I'm not seeing much progress yet but I'm not giving up either.

The rest is a mystery. I know, I know, this will pass. New challenges will come and today's struggles will morph into memories of beauty and strength.

Today in my MOPS group (which is fast becoming a beacon of shared sanity in my ocean of mystery), a woman came to talk to us. I was an hour late, what with furiously cleaning the condo for a showing, but what I remembered from her wasn't in her talk. It was at our table later, where she wisely reminded us:

"There is no perfect mom. There is a perfect God working through you."

Amen to that. And what a huge relief to know that it actually doesn't all depend on me. I can point to Him as the ultimate authority and say that He has given me authority as a parent. That's a far more comfortable place to be.

October 14, 2013

random thoughts: toddler wisdom

No matter what you're doing, even if you've been hanging around the same person aaaaall daaaay looong, turn around, give your biggest and brightest smile, and say "HI!!!" What the heck -- say it three or four times in rapid succession.

Chances are, that person needs it -- like chocolate for the soul.

October 11, 2013

anxiety and the search for peace: part 2

I'm looking for "peace" and "rest" in the Bible and am finding things I've seen plenty of times before, but am giving them a chance to sink in. I need rest for my soul.

Matthew 11: 28-30 NIV says 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I really like The Message version too though.

Matthew 11: 28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Shortly after 6:00 this morning I got up, showered and dressed for the day, and started the coffee pot. Before turning on any other lights, I sat in the dark living room and prayed. Then remembered to be quiet and invite the Lord to speak to me. I wasn't sure how long I should wait, and I knew that was a sign of impatience so I waited a bit longer. The only thing I felt the Holy Spirit say to me was "Don't work."

Today? Next week? For a few years? I have no idea, but today is all I need. One day at a time.

one way to reduce temper tantrums

I recently discovered one way to bypass or reduce temper tantrums in our home: have various security objects placed in random areas. It could be a blanket or stuffed toy or whatever the child latches onto. I've seen it happen and it's kind of amazing.

Just thought I'd pass it on.

October 10, 2013

random thoughts: the numbers game

On days when it's just me taking care of my one child, I often feel outnumbered. That must be why it takes a village.

Know any villages for hire? ;)

October 9, 2013

anxiety and the search for peace: part 1

I am one anxious woman. From the time I get up until I go to sleep... well, assuming I get to sleep, I have a little rock of tension in my gut. It's the never-ending list of shit that has to be done, walking away from temper tantrums (literally), weighing a new top against a shrinking budget, cleaning the dickens out of the condo to sell it, blah blah blah. Not only that, but there is constant tension in my home from various sources.

Meanwhile, my sleep issues continue to escalate. If I fall asleep fast, I wake up about 5 times a night. Sometimes I am awake for an hour. Sometimes it takes over an hour to get to sleep. I try to do all the right things to get a good night's sleep: restrict alcohol and caffeine, exercise earlier in the day, have a bedtime routine, cut off nighttime electronics, and a few other things that have become my way of living. It feels like a lot of things I do during the day are to try to ensure a decent night's sleep, and I'm getting tired of being preoccupied with that stuff.

I usually drink half a cup of hot milk before bed. Depending on my anxiety level I mix it with a strong small cup of nighttime tea. On rare occasions I take NyQuil or ZQuil or whatever. Sometimes I take melatonin, but I hate it because it disrupts my REM sleep so I feel like a zombie the next day.

Once, I went to a general practitioner. His immediate response was a prescription. I tried it. It failed. I stopped. I thought -- is that his only answer for me? I know at least two women for whom a prescription is the answer. That's cool. I just have a feeling that God wants me to do something else. To dig deeper and search for Him in this.

So far, all I know is that I want to sleep well and I believe this begins with peace.

So that's what I'm doing (while I'm brewing tea and heating milk and whatnot): searching for peace and rest. I know that anxiety among women -- especially moms -- is pretty common if not assumed. So I'm documenting my journey in hopes that someone else might benefit from it and shorten their own.

My first baby step: cut back to one cup of coffee per day. This, my friends, is no easy thing. Exhaustion is usually beating down my door and threatening to take over. Caffeine is my morning crutch and it's hard to imagine having fewer than 2-3 cups a day. But I have done it before -- granted I was pregnant and didn't have much choice for the health of my baby, but still.

Here's to a good night's sleep. Stay tuned.

September 29, 2013

random thoughts: the scents of motherhood

I think the two most wonderful smells in the world are my son's head and crayons.

date night and the mom over 40

Date night started early yesterday at 3:00. My mom took on the gracious task of caring for our active, slightly-sick-with-a-cold toddler while we delivered a meal to friends with a newborn and went out to an early dinner.

How early? 5:00. Yeah, we're that couple now. The one who does everything ridiculously early because we loathe the idea of staying up late because the kiddo will never ever sleep in.

I got a table at a hot new restaurant (in a local rag's top 25 list) in a hot neighborhood that focuses on pork and does all of its production in-house. I'm talking sausage, brisket, belly - the works - with a dedication to local and sustainable food. In other words, trendy but a trend I love because it usually results in beautiful food.

We managed to take two hours over dinner - a rare treat on many levels. Near the end, I couldn't help noticing the swarm of yuppies surrounding us (partly loathing the Coach bag at one table, partly admiring the glossy hair and obviously expensive shoes at another). I thought it was pretty funny, all of the showmanship, but I caught myself being judgmental and stopped. Who am I to judge someone because they are young and have more disposable income than me? Why should I care if a guy looks like he spent three times as much on his casual outfit than he'll spend on an expensive dinner for two? I remembered that money doesn't equal happiness. So there's that.

Then there was the young man's hair two tables from us. I'm talking Brillo wig for a beard paired with a hairdo somewhere between Flock of Seagulls and that famous boxing announcer. It was ready to take off! I couldn't help giggling myself silly.

Having left the restaurant around 7:00, we wondered what to do with ourselves. Ice cream down the street? WAY too crowded (who wants to stand in line for an hour for a scoop?). Movie? Eh, too late to start that. We decided to have a beer at a local brewery, and drove over there to find they were about to close. We headed home just before 8:00 and called the evening a success (mostly a night is a success if we get home after our son has gone to bed). I mean, I just can't justify staying out just to prove that I can when I could be on my couch watching my nice TV in my favorite comfy clothes.

September 23, 2013

random thoughts: stayin alive

At times like this, when my son is taking a long nap, I feel the need to be "productive." But really, being productive on days when I take care of him by myself from dawn to bedtime means keeping him alive (even if it requires propping myself up with caffeine and cookies - a sacrifice I'm willing to make, or so my jeans would tell me).

rise and shine

My son didn't sleep so well last night. In fact, we took turns coaxing him back to sleep 3 times, and even then we'd hear him blabbing to himself. Did he sleep in this morning? Hell no. 7:00 found me bewildered at the sound of him chattering in his crib. Apparently he was hungry, as he drank his milk faster than I've ever seen him, and he's been harassing me for the past half hour as I prepare some oatmeal. My work is cut out for me today.

All I could think as I poured my second cup of coffee was "This is a test of the emergency mommy system."

In divine irony, today's devotional topic in my inbox is A Word for the Weary. "The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed." Isaiah 50:4 (NIV)

I'm ready for whatever you want to teach me, Lord.

September 18, 2013

random thoughts: saving on groceries

Want to save 1/3 or more on your groceries? Do what I finally started doing -- don't buy it until you actually run out of it at home. Revolutionary, I know. You're welcome.

will you have any more kids?

I hate getting asked this. It makes me uncomfortable. And yet, whenever I'm in the company of another mother we compare how many kids each of us has and one of us is bound to ask this. Heck, I've asked it myself when it seemed appropriate (then again, how would I gauge that?).

With a bit of hesitation, I said no. We're one and done.

She seemed slightly disappointed for my sake and gently asked why. I told her - I'm 44 and am already tired and overwhelmed, blah blah... her eyes got as big as saucers and she told me she never would have guessed. I smiled and said thank you (and seriously meant it).

Every time I say no, I feel a little sad.

We both feel like we should have two kids, but I couldn't tell you where this is really coming from. Maybe it's the fact that we both have siblings (never mind the fact that we all live separate lives two states away, making real relationships all but impossible). Maybe it's because that's more common than having one (and gee, we do want to be normal don't we?).

Last night we talked about this briefly, discussing how to build relationships with lots of friends and wanting to create the best possible childhood for the boy. Off the cuff, I realized the irony and said "I think the worst thing we can do as parents is somehow make our son feel like he isn't enough."

Ouch. Even as the words came out, it stabbed my own heart.

Occasionally I play the math game: If I conceived by Christmas, oh I'd be 45 when she's born (why do I think it'd be a girl?) and ohmygoodness that sounds so old. Then again, others have done it and lived to tell the tale. Then again, I feel incapable of being a full-time SAHM as it is to one child. I'd lose my mind, not to mention what's left of my figure, forever and I'd have two teenagers when I'm in the throes of menopause. Then again...

Ugh. We'd better be committed to whatever we decide, even if we decide that deciding is too hard.

September 11, 2013

is the journey still worth talking about?

Since I was laid off from what I saw as the Most Perfect Gig Ever, I have endured the range of emotions that come with it, looked at myself from different and new angles, pondered various employment options, thrown in the towel and pouted, and searched endlessly for the Next Most Perfect Gig Ever.

I think maybe it's not out there.

Instead, my daily life has become a series of small actions and decisions that happen in such rapid succession that I have little time to ponder the bigger ones. Who has time to think about a career when you're soothing away toddler tantrums, wiping yogurt off the floor, and trying to decide what might make a good dinner today and tomorrow and next week?

I haven't blogged much since the layoff, mostly because I don't have the opportunity to gather my thoughts long enough to type them out. I think about things that would make great blog subjects, though. Like the lesson we learned recently of how, even on vacation, we absolutely cannot share a bedroom with our son anymore (we wake each other up and the boy gets up too early for the day). Or the time I asked for prayer in church, and the young woman who prayed for me told me she had a picture of Jesus beaming with joy at me - letting me know that He is very happy with me (which made me cry with relief immediately, knowing that even though I feel like I'm constantly failing and falling apart, the Lord is happy with me -- and if He is happy with me, I feel far less pressured and far more successful). Or how thrilled I am to start going to MOPS meetings today, a grassroots support/sharing group (I seriously am).

But so often, I feel like my potential posts are just rants. Complaining about how tired I am. Wondering if I'll ever work full time again or if I can actually succeed as an independent writer. Musing about the book I'd like to write if I ever decide to implement the discipline. Whining about how overweight and unattractive I feel. Lamenting the fact that I can't keep up with my fave blogs because I can't remember the name of the Web-based feed reader I was using before I lost my job.

What's so interesting about that?

I'm considering hanging it up. Maybe I've said all I need to say about how hard this journey is and how wonderfully blessed I am to be on it. I dunno.

August 21, 2013

random thoughts: the new standard of clean

You would think that I would accept my fate as a parent of a toddler who's more interested in throwing food than eating it.

I have resigned to believing my feet won't be clean for the next five years.

August 10, 2013

the tug of war within

This evening, my son was finishing a bit of jello and drinking milk from his sippy cup. Well, that's a tidy way of putting what really happened - he was smashing the jello on his dinner tray and tipping over the sippy cup to get some milk to come out, then watching the puddle explode as he smashed it, then adding more milk, then more puddle smashing... You get the idea.

Normally I whisk everything away saying "All done!" to minimize the mess and to gradually guide him to just stopping or declaring "All done!" when he's finished instead of chucking food and liquids and containers every which way. But today I decided to observe him. I grabbed my phone and shot a quick video. I realized he'd figured out a way to sort of do finger painting with the jello and milk. And it was really kind of cool. Okay, so as soon as I shot the video I cleaned him up and all that, but still.

Now that he's only in day care 3 days a week, I'm starting to see what staying home really looks like. Granted, it's not the real thing. Not really - not when I have the place, and myself, all to myself for three whole days in a row, which most SAHMs don't have the luxury of. But it's starting to feel like... okay, maybe I really could survive this way. Maybe.

There lies my tug of war within.

Who's better off if I go back to work, really? Me? My retirement accounts? Costco?

This afternoon, I came home with the boy from a birthday party and he seemed to be confused as to whom he wanted to hold him. Daddy, then me, then no one, then Daddy... it was a bit awkward. I basically told my husband he needed to spend some dedicated time with our son to make sure that bond stays secure, especially with me spending so much more time with him. It came out a bit more simplistic than that the first time, but we talked about it later.

I want to think that my perfect vision of reality (working part-time until the boy starts school) really is possible. But I don't know that - not yet. I put out feelers, network like crazy, get my website and business networking profile spiffed up. And I wait. In purgatory. While the door of stay-at-home-motherhood creaks open just a bit more.

Meanwhile, I face the possibility of compromising or abandoning my prime earning years as a mid-career professional in my mid-40s (still trying to make peace with that mid-40s thing, but that's another blog post). I'll be the first to admit that I've never really taken my career as seriously as I could have - not until recently. And now that's all being called into question.

Just now I remembered something really important:

Sometime last year, I was at a small group (church) meeting and we were going around the room sharing how we picture Jesus. An image, a representation, what He means to us. I said that I picture myself in a little boat floating on a big ocean with whipping waves and storm clouds - and Jesus is the island in the storm. When, in fact, He's not just the island. He's the boat.

August 6, 2013

random thoughts: sometimes bedtime comes too quickly

I want to rock you, my son, in the rocking chair by the window, and sing you to sleep until the stars come out. But it's summer, and I would have to rock you for hours.

Your eyes are nearly closed, your head is already slumping against my breast, your lips are plumped out while you suck your middle fingers, and your other hand is slowly falling away from your lovey. Dreamland is snatching you away from me as you embrace another night of beautiful sleep. I kiss your head over and over, inhaling your scent in the dark of the room before I reluctantly lay you in your crib.

Lord, that I could hold you like this forever. A mother's indulgence. A love that knows no end.

August 4, 2013

the single (income) life

Since I lost my job a couple weeks ago, I've been doing a lot of searching. At first, I was searching for another job. Then I searched deeper to try and decide what kind of work I want (writing, of course - I'm not one of those who can do just anything and be happy). Then I looked for ways to trim the family budget.

And now? Well... right now, I'm letting that toy boat sit in the tub and float by itself.

We really are serious about selling the condo and buying a house. In fact, we've been serious for about seven years but the housing bust had other plans for us (not to mention debt, jobs, infertility, birthing, blah blah blah). Rather than jump ship and start renting, we waited. We've stuck it out in hopes that eventually we'd at least break even and we could move on. At long last, this has finally happened. We're not exactly living an episode of The Jeffersons, but still. The time looks right, we have a teeny tiny bit of equity for the first time in over a decade, and the interest rates are still comparatively low.

Plus - plus, we went to pre-qualify for a new mortgage and found out about a stellar program that has an income limit just barely above what my husband earns. It's based on projected income. And right now, that's not hard to project.

Gee, we're down half our income. Let's buy a house! Bla-hahahahahahaaaa....!

So this month, we're going for it the old-fashioned way: we're using cash envelopes for our most vulnerable (easy to overspend) expenses like groceries and eating out, and saving anything I earn. We've done it before. It's how we paid off more than $30k in debt early in our marriage (thank you Financial Peace University). And it's how we'll figure out whether I actually need to work before our son goes to school full-time. Lord, I hope not.

But we'll try it. If I have to make a different decision, I will. We are both sick of living scared and trying to play it safe. So there. :)  But I'm still keeping him in daycare three days a week. It gives me the margin I need to prep the condo for sale while I look for contract work, not to mention the physical break it gives me from utter exhaustion.

July 31, 2013

teething hell part 2

Apparently Junior is breaking in his 2-year molars. I say this based on the record amount of drool, constant fussing and crying, slight fever the other day, an input from the daycare ladies. I guess I shouldn't be surprised since he's gotten all the other teeth on a fairly rapid schedule.

Ugh. I was hoping for a longer reprieve from this, but as long as I know the enemy I can overcome it. My arsenal includes Advil, a mesh bag that I can put ice cubes in (a big hit), milk (sometimes that's all he wants at dinner time), distractions and more distractions (let's get the mail! walk outside! check out this toy!), and finally the patience that comes with knowing this too shall pass.

I have no idea how long these 2-year molars are supposed to take to come in, but I remember that the last few took weeks. Weeks.

Can I hope for a couple of weeks? Yeah, probably not...

July 24, 2013

if i could design my life however i want, i would...

That's usually how I try to answer the question of "I lost my job - now what?"

I mentioned last week how I was laid off after 3.5 intense years that saw me through our entire journey of miscarriages, infertility, depression, and finally parenthood. But now that this is gone, I don't think I want to go back to full-time. Not if I don't have to. Not if I have a choice. My unemployment benefits will be enough that I do have a choice, and can at least try to do something different.

One of my favorite bloggers has successfully made the transition to freelance writing with part-time daycare. I want that (I contracted for two years before my last job and I love, love, love it). So, we're retooling our old website into my personal portfolio and I'm putting out feelers to do contract or part-time work. I feel peace about this decision so I'll just keep moving toward this.

So often I tend to think in polar terms - it's either the right thing to do or the wrong thing - and I think I need a lightning bolt from God to tell me which way to go. But last Sunday's sermon (look for the 21 July posting which may not be up yet), a man's testimony about his journey through infertility and international adoption, shed new light on this and unraveled that knot for me. I'm sure that there are times when there is only one thing God wants me to choose, but other times - more often - the decision is mine to make and He's got my back. If I can't make a go of this within the year, I'll make a different choice. God's will is for me to trust him above everything else, and to keep my eyes on him while I navigate these choices.

In other news, can I just tell you how delighted I am that my son figured out how to put on his shoes? Granted, they're Crocs and he only had to slide his feet into them. But he's been trying to do this for several days, and the other night we saw him stand up and kind of walk stiff-legged like Frankenstein. It was pretty stinkin' cute. This morning he figured out how to hit a ball with a thick wooden massage tool that acted as a stick. I showed him how yesterday. Future golfer? Yeah, probably. ;)

July 17, 2013

unemployment purgatory

That's what I call it, and it seems appropriate. I have no idea what direction I'll move in, and the best I can do is wait. Do some chores. Buff up my resume and online profile. Pray unceasingly. And wait.

I've started looking at potential jobs, and some seem at least a little promising. There's only one problem: these are full-time positions, and I've been working 32 hours per week (4 days) so I can spend an extra day with my son. So my choices are to work part-time (which won't pay much especially in my field), work full-time and ditch the extra day with my son (an undesirable sacrifice to say the least), or try to get contract work (unstable in the best of times). Or I could say to hell with it and become a stay-at-home mom (unlikely, to put it mildly).

How does a person choose from a pitchfork like that? Ugh.

July 16, 2013

oh fuuuuudge...

... as the immortalized A Christmas Story little boy says.

I got laid off today. No severance, no nothing. Just dropped off a cliff. It was a very positive conversation, and they've offered to give me letters of recommendation, but that's that. So I stopped at the grocery store on the way home ('cuz what else am I gonna do?) and what songs do I hear on the speakers? "Here Comes that Rainy Day Feelin' Again" and "It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want to." Really? Really?... LOL 

Mostly I'm fine. My head is kind of spinning (no really, it is - I have a little stomach bug) and I'm in that nowhere zone. But you know what?

I've been through the hell of infertility, other layoffs, ruined relationships, and a handful of careers, and survived. This is a disappointment compared to that.

I'm not the director of my own life - that's God's job and he's way better at it than I am.

I have great friends, great praying friends, and great connections. After all, I have 15 years of communications experience to offer. I'm a great catch haha!

It's hard not to project, what with us getting ready to put the condo on the market and buy a house, the incredibly steep fee of daycare, blah blah.. Meh. It'll work out. It always does.

See? I'm already giving myself a pep talk, and I've barely sipped a glass of wine.

July 13, 2013

facing forward

I know you're not supposed to switch the car seat to forward-facing until they're two years old. But you gotta understand - my son wears a size 2T and he's at least the size of your average two-year-old. I checked the height requirements and he's very close. Plus, my husband plays rough enough with him on a regular basis that his neck has to be strong enough.

And then, this afternoon my mom went to put him in his car seat when he stood up in it and turned around to face forward, as if to say "I want to see where I'm going, Mommy!" I caved. I switched it around, and she graciously vacuumed the crunchy crusty stuff out of the car and car seat.

Another milestone. He was very happy as we drove home.

July 11, 2013

random thoughts: rush hour

My husband nudged me in bed this morning. "Hey, it's 7:40." BLAST OFF. You'd think a bomb went off and we were evacuating. Guess I'll set my alarm tomorrow.

July 6, 2013

the soldier

Yesterday my mom told/reminded me that "sometimes you just need a good cry." I don't think I listened, but I ended up crying in my bathroom about 10 minutes before I left to meet her and a friend for a beer.

This morning, I cried again at the table while my husband fed our son some oatmeal and my coffee sat in its cup getting cold. My frustration, anxiety, stress, and loneliness caught up with me this morning. Silently, I went to lay on the bed and cry it out a bit. I started praying in my mind, and just said "Lord help me."

Moments later, He gave me a hint of a picture of a soldier. I thought for a moment, and the words that gelled together were "A soldier never abandons his post, no matter how hard the battle gets."

A small idea, but it was enough to set me on my feet again and carry on.

Right now, hours later, I'm watching the boy while my husband runs to the hardware store. I just now watched him holding a toy and took his first real steps across the living room floor. Right in front of me. As if he meant it just for me.

I burst out in tears. Good ones.

I just took this photo to commemorate the day, since he was sitting next to me.

Thank you, Lord.

July 4, 2013

early morning brain dump - mommy guilt, independence day, and me time

okay, so today's blog is my attempt to empty my brain before the start of the day. it would be a journal entry if i felt like writing by hand, but this is a lot easier.

at about 5:00, i woke up, went to the bathroom, came back to bed, and soon after realized i wasn't going back to sleep. random songs started playing in my head - that's how i know. i could lay there with a pillow over my head, wishing myself back to sleep and listening to my husband snore peacefully, or i could get up and journal, a special me-time activity that happens about as often as i get a pedicure which is regretfully far too rare.

i hear some little bumps - is my son whacking his legs around in the crib? no matter. he'll go back to sleep.

fourth of july. independence day.

oh crap. yup, that's him - just said "HEY." go back to sleep, kid. i swear i'm not making any noise, and his door is shut.

we have no plans for this weekend - well, that's not entirely true. we invited my mom up for breakfast so we have an excuse to make an indecent amount of bacon and eggs fried in coconut oil (i'm gonna make banana bread too - why not?). we're meeting people for happy hour friday, and then joining a friend's birthday party dinner saturday evening before we sneak out for a date. i'm feeling good about it.

yesterday, i didn't feel so good about it. knowing that it would be the four of us for four days, i scheduled a drop-off for our son at daycare for monday. i'm giving myself the day off. i know i desperately need it. i've been slammed at work the last two weeks, and home life is a constant buzz from dawn to dusk. i have a really hard time sleeping anymore, and i know it's anxiety plus too small margins in my life right now. i know it's a season, and one of these days i'll wonder what happened to this little toddler who charms the pants off of me even when he's screaming his head off with tantrum #231.

anyway, guilt set in. i'm a crappy mom. why do i need a day off? what the hell do these stay-at-home moms do - take zanax? i'm sure i would lose my mind if i didn't work, and yet i'm so mentally and physically exhausted i can't help but wonder if i would feel "right" by napping every day when my son naps and scheduling the next play date?

it is what it is. we need what we need.

work is going extremely well. i got a tiny raise - just enough to bump me up to a personal salary milestone. it's humbling. and i'm working better, more efficiently and more effectively than ever. not a week goes by that i don't ask the Lord to give me his strength, and i believe this is his hand in my life because my work life is oddly successful to me. it kind of blows me away that, even though i only work four days a week (and one of them from home), i'm pretty sure i do the work of a regular full-timer. i also learned last week that i may become a client rep - a significant step up from my current role as a person who works alongside a client rep. it's more responsibility, which scares me but only because i'm a bit on the lazy side and am weirdly introverted when it comes to my clients (the group of lab researchers that i edit papers and such for). i realized earlier this year that i really have never taken my career seriously - oh, i'm very good at selling myself and getting good jobs with good companies with increasing amounts of responsibility, but when i get settled into a place i also get bored and restless. good grief, i think this is the first time i've really admitted this. i'm in my 40s and i'm not what you call established. i've figured out how to work things to my advantage and move up a notch every so often, but i've also put a really high priority on putting margins in my personal life and i don't work a single minute of overtime if i don't absolutely have to. for those reasons, how i've managed to be successful in my current job is a bit of a mystery to me.

through an odd turn of events i'm pill-free for the next month. i lost my paper prescription during the temporary move, then they called it in without the generic okay so i couldn't get them (i wasn't going to pay a $50 copay thank you very much). oh well. what's the worst that could happen? hahahahahaha...

i think i'll get a massage monday. the place we like to go is next to a really fabulous french bakery/cafe in a recently gentrified, snobbily high-brow-hipper-than-thou, walkable part of town called the denver highlands. it used to be cool and on the fringe, now it's irritatingly inviting.

damn. he's working himself up to a cry. go back to sleep! time for my second cup of coffee. maybe he pooped and needs a change? it would be cruel to let him stew in it.

i have a calendar print-out with every social circle event happening this summer, which is every single day. this is our church's latest creation - creating opportunities for people to just hang out and have fun together. it's alternating with short-term small groups, which i guess will start in september. we're desperate for social interaction, so we're trying some of them. saturday morning play dates in a park? instant win. friday evening at one of a dozen new nanobreweries? i'm so there.

the boy's early bedtime is a sacrifice for us. it makes it hard to do anything in the evening. but it's totally worth it. we get evening quiet/movie/margin time, he gets a solid 12 hours of sleep (usually). maybe when he's six i'll let him stay up until 8. ha!

i love cooking and meal planning and grocery shopping. i hate walking in the door at 5:30 and realizing i have 30 seconds to make dinner. but i found a recipe for sausage kale soup that i absolutely have to try. i tried kale chips a week ago. my son liked them. i thought they were pretty nasty. i told my girlfriend she needs to make me some kale chips or i may never eat this superfood. it's going into a soup where it can mellow out and be palatable, dancing around with the flavors of italian turkey sausage, mirepoix, and beef broth. sounds good, right?

silence. i think he went back to sleep. thank you, Lord!

we're gonna have some good family time, dammit. i think we'll try to go hiking today before it gets hot. afternoon? indoors somewhere. we have two museum memberships that we never use. i won't bother renewing until the boy's old enough to appreciate them - or when he's old enough to do their kiddie activities, which oddly is not far away. so maybe i better keep them up. ugh. i definitely need to drop the gym membership and switch to punch cards. we rarely go anymore. not worth $48/month.

it's 6:20. i think i'm done dumping my brain. going to sit on the patio and enjoy my second cup of coffee. happy 4th of july!

June 27, 2013

home is where your stuff is

That's what an old friend of ours used to say. And it's true, isn't it? Yes, I can be anywhere with my family and be at home, but I'd rather be at home with my family. Ha!

The hotel stay has been okay - not nightmarish, just not home. But the good news is that the contractor is working at lightning speed and we'll be able to go home tomorrow instead of Sunday. Two days early! Yippee!

This morning, the boy woke us up with a loud "HEY!" It was 5:45. For the love. He's been having a blast, happily exploring every crevasse of the hotel room. We've made use of the pool, too - not because we don't have one at home, but because this one is indoors so it's less of a hassle. I don't have to worry about dousing him in sunscreen, which is nice since he was born with that super fair skin that comes with red hair and a Viking lineage.

I stopped at home this morning to grab something and water the plants, and I have to admit that the new floor (even though the old one was less than two years old) looks even better. I glanced at the bedroom, and thought "Good grief - didn't we even bother to make the bed? What slobs..." I otherwise ignored the tornado disaster that it looks like now. They haven't replaced the carpet yet - I guess that happens today.

I know that a massive mess waits for us, but I don't care. It's one day at a time, one dusty surface at a time. This has been a decent experience, and a learning one, and I'll be really glad to get home.

June 24, 2013

moving out for a week sucks

A month or so ago, our water heater went out in spectacular fashion. Today, we checked into a hotel for six nights while the contractor replaces all of the flooring except the kitchen and bathrooms.

If you've ever moved, you know it sucks.

If you've ever moved out temporarily, you know it sucks all the more because you'll have to move back in to put your enormous amount of crap back into the same cramped little space and live with it some more.

For someone who's getting most of this paid for by insurance, you'd think I would be giddy with gratitude. Don't get me wrong - I'm definitely grateful. We'd never be able to shuck out the bucks for this otherwise (well, we wouldn't want to anyway). But holy crap, this has been hard.

We've been living in this condo for 10 full years. That's plenty of time to accumulate stuff no matter who you are. Insert a new family member, and suddenly you get clever and creative about repurposing or storing the things you really don't want to part with until you forget just how much you have.

Until the day you have to make the space ready for carpet replacement.

We gotta move. BAD.

Over the weekend, we boxed up stuff from bookshelves, end tables, and other surfaces so the workers can just shuffle them around. Then we had to pack up our own clothes and whatnot for a week's vacation. Only it's not a vacation.

By the end of today, I was drop-dead exhausted. The boy has been on pretty good behavior, thankfully, and was tired enough to go down at 6:30. I can only hope he sleeps well, as the hotel could only supply us with a pack and play - which would be fine if he weren't the size of your average two-year-old. So I rented a crib online and it'll get here tomorrow. Oh well. You gotta do what you gotta do.

When it's all over, the place will look really nice and it will take us one step closer to finally, FINALLY  putting the place on the market this fall (more on that later). So the effort is definitely worth it. Could they not have scheduled it the week of my cycle though? That would have been nice, but they didn't consult me.

My dear husband got takeout for us tonight, which we ate after the boy ate his "dinner" - cheese, crunchies, mandarin oranges, and milk (he wasn't interested in the pouch or it might have been a complete meal). Once all that was done, I realized something. We have a tub. A big, wonderful tub just waiting to be filled with hot water for soaking my tired old ass. And so I did. And it was fabulous.

I love soaking my head, and our water heater  at home craps out before I can fill the tub so I don't bother. I haven't had a tub soak since early December, which is a crying shame because it's one of the few truly relaxing activities that I love dearly. I used to head to the local hot springs for a good soak, but that was years ago, before the pregnancies, and I haven't made the journey since. I think they require bathing suits now because somebody violated the no-romancing rule, so it's a bit less appealing. I prefer to soak without such encumbrances.

I will not let tonight be the last night I soak in this hotel tub. It is one more big thing to be grateful for.

June 21, 2013

random thoughts: making dinner

Isn't there a recipe for throwing protein and veggies into a blender, tossing it with some cheese, and baking it in a casserole dish?

I swear that's all I want. I swear that's all my son will eat. I swear I will not raise him on cheesy toast and sweet potato fries if it kills me - and it probably will because I'll be too tired to do anything else.

new (to me) ministry: parenting after infertility

Okay, so I've just told you all that I'm procrastinating against a small mountain of work. Still true. When that happens, I'm usually randomly searching for who-knows-what on the Internet - trolling blogs, searching for new ones, getting caught up on Consumer Reports - anything to re-shuffle my brain until I'm ready to work again.

Anyway, I came across this website and I can't believe I've never heard of it. Then again, how does one hear of these sorts of things when infertility is usually a social taboo? And once you become a mom, it's all roses and rainbows and happily ever after, right?

If, like me, you've walked through the very dark valley of infertility (or still do) and are now a parent, you might want to check this out. Parenting after Infertility & Loss. They have a blog too.

Why would there be a ministry for moms like us? Oh, I can think of a few reasons. The odd combination of bliss + guilt + remembered pain, for starters. The agonizing decision of whether to try again or decide that you've been dealt the best hand you're gonna get and leave the poker table, for another.

Okay, I guess I'm ready to work some more. Happy Friday!

Sorry, was that a little abrupt? Almost like there's a bit more bubbling below the surface than normal motherhood angst and it's getting pushed down. ;)

random thoughts: procrastination maven

The more work I have to do, the less likely I am to do it. Friday afternoon has its sunny, lazy grip on my brain.

June 19, 2013

our anniversary and my reality check

This past weekend, my husband and I spent a day and two nights in Manitou Springs, Colorado. We stayed in an old, fully restored hotel and had a junior suite. The Cliff House is beautiful, and I definitely recommend it! My mom, God bless her, took care of the boy so we could celebrate our 12th anniversary.

We decided to do something neither of us has done: drive to the top of Pikes Peak, one of many fourteeners in Colorado (a fourteener is a mountain taller than 14,000 feet).

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful drive, and I was driving. Once we got above treeline, however, my perception started to change. It looked like we were driving alongside a cliff of rocks on one side and complete oblivion on the other, with nothing to keep us from driving off the cliff to our deaths. Observe (sorry about the clunky format, and notice the port-a-potties strategically located just in case you're about to wet your pants haha!):

It’s hard to get across what it looked like, but it doesn't matter. What happened was that I had a major panic attack. Palms sweated, heart raced, hands shook, and I wanted to cry. I pulled over. We tried to go on with my husband driving, but I couldn't shake the feeling no matter how much I used logic to try and convince myself it was no big deal. We had to turn around, with my tail tucked in. I already know that when the boy is old enough, we’ll try it again – even if I have to sit in the back seat blindfolded haha!

But the whole thing threw me off kilter. I thought I was over the acrophobia thing, based on my experience of being delivered from fear. Apparently not. Now I need to get back on the hobby horse and try again. In a few years. When I'm not driving. If I can wait that long.

Other than that, we had a great time just being and enjoying our married selves. But we missed the boy quite a bit - happy hour was spent scrolling through the past year's photos of him while enjoying a beer before dinner. It's all good.

June 12, 2013

my post pregnancy body 16 months later

Okay, this post is not about squeamish things. It's just about... physicality. I guess. Or rather, part analysis and part reality check.

I knew it would happen. They all say it will happen. But then when it happened, I thought maybe something was weird in my head.

It has happened. My body is not the same as the one that conceived my son.

I've seen pictures of women before and after who's very skeletal structure had changed - even in their faces (T.ori and I was not exactly looking forward to that. Now it's mostly a non-issue because I couldn't be more grateful for my son and I'm completely aware that it's not about me. But still, I have my pride. But why? Why do I have my pride? What price vanity? Do I have to wear mom jeans now? (please God, no...)

Okay, so here's what's weird. I'm almost the same size I was before I got pregnant the first time. Then there was the first loss, and the second loss, and that space of time before my son came along. And now? Uhh... the curves aren't quite in the same place. My waist is a bit thicker. The same clothing size just doesn't look the same.

About two months after the boy was born, I went to a physical therapist to address my nether regions. I felt like the muscles were sagging so much that they would fall out. That, my friends, is a weeeeeird feeling. She made it all better. Recently, I've gone back to the therapist to address my left hip, which is apparently tilted forward a bit (or is it backward? I can't remember). That's taking longer. And I do yoga, dang it! I should be in good shape, whatever that means.

Confession: I was a lifetime member of Weight Watchers before my pregnancies. Now? I find it hard to give a damn. But I am trying to give a damn, I really am. Just not as much of a damn as I should if I want to get back to fighting weight (which, at my 5 foot 9.5 inch frame would be around 160-165).

I want to get into my size 12 wardrobe. Then again, I'm not sure it's worth the effort. But then, I should consider it worthy because I don't want to spend my 40+ years getting fatter and sicker by the decade. I need to be here for my family. Health is seriously important. So is chocolate and wine and beer and ice cream.

I'm finding it especially hard to feel sexy these days - a feeling that comes in handy when you're married and want to at least keep the coals warm.

You see my dilemma?! Watching myself change physically is not so easy.

If any of you moms have advice in this area, please butt in.

June 4, 2013

what is it this time? oh, that's right - nothing

The boy is quickly becoming a crankypants hot mess on a regular basis (a.k.a Toddler) - I have already lost count of the tantrums that last anywhere from 10 seconds to 10 minutes (and, believe me, 10 minutes is a LOOOOONG time to endure one). When I'm at my wits end (is that wit's or wits'? I forget how many I have - I might be down to my last wit), though, I take a look at the blog Reasons My Son is Crying and I remember - my son doesn't need a reason to cry. He just needs to get it out of his system as he asserts his independence, or weeps for the lack of it.

This apparently takes several years.

I guess all I can do (besides fix that Manhattan the minute he goes to bed) is buckle up and remember that this roller coaster goes downhill a helluva lot faster than it goes uphill. Mercy.

May 31, 2013

random thoughts: the beginning of speech

This morning my son looked at me and asked me "Thegilthe?"

What the flip is that supposed to mean? I had no answer. I think I offered him some milk.

what a long, wonderful trip it was

We just spent five days and nights in southern California, visiting friends and family (I grew up there). I think this was an excellent study in reality vs. fear of the unknown. I’m always afraid the worst will happen when we travel or do something out of the ordinary, and I’m almost always pleasantly surprised and feel a bit silly for worrying so much. Almost.

I booked our trip months in advance – at first it was seven nights, but after a couple of months I had a crisis of conscience (I knew we’d be sleeping in a double bed and sharing the small bedroom with the boy), and reduced our stay to five nights. Boy am I glad I did – my son came down with an ear infection and we were in the doctor’s office on the day when we were originally scheduled to leave.

Then I worried about where my son would sleep. I found a service online that rents everything you can think of to make your baby or toddler comfortable – so I booked a crib and a changing table (since Junior is fond of flipping around like a fish out of water during changing times). I booked a rental car and a car seat so we wouldn’t be burdened with carrying it around the airport.

All I can say is, holy shit it’s expensive to travel with a little one. But they aren’t little for long. Next time I think I’ll bite the bullet and haul the car seat with us to save $65. That thing was definitely road-tested and I don’t think he was very comfortable in it.

Teething was another issue. He’s breaking in the last lower canine, and I had forgotten to pack teething gel or something to chew on. I did, however, have plenty of baby ibuprofen on hand which saved our sanity. Good thing they have stores in CA.

Despite the teething, expenses, and ear infection we had to deal with, we had a wonderful time. The boy slept great for the most part (we kind of ignored him when he started babbling at 5 a.m.), and we spent our days watching him soak up the generous affection of grandparents, cousins, and other relatives that took to him as quickly as he took to them. It was a beautiful thing, really.

One of the highlights was introducing him to his cousin who was born through the miracle of IUI about 12 hours before him. Seeing those boys together felt like a dream, like God was just beaming a big smile on our whole family and laughing at their antics along with us. (Until I told my aunt and uncle we were pregnant, we had no idea their son and his wife had endured infertility issues - imagine our shock in realizing our somewhat parallel journeys to parenthood!)

Like all trips, we were grateful to get home and everyone went to bed early that evening. And, like all time spent with family, we felt the pang that comes with the understanding that we all live so scattered from each other (except for my mom, and we thank God every day she’s here). The good thing is, we’re all about a two-hour plane ride from each other so it’s not too hard to book a visit.

Now we just need a big enough house to give them an incentive to come see us.

The day before we left, my stepmom gently asked if we’d be having another baby (can’t blame her for hoping). I affectionately looked my dad in the eye and said “There isn’t enough wine or coffee in the world, Dad. Sorry.” We honestly think we’re just too freaking old – starting a family after 40 is really, really, REALLY tiring – instead, we’re packing our son’s life (and ours) with playdates, church friends, and a really great daycare that we hope will become his school later on.  And, when he’s potty trained, probably a dog.

Here's one of my favorite photos taken on the trip. We went for a walk in a park surrounded by old oak trees, and he's wearing a t-shirt with a cape that the grandfolks bought him - it's so cute I can't stand it! There's something so adorable about this shot, something about boyhood and fatherhood that I can't quite put my finger on. I love it.

a tiny moment of beauty

Last night, I put my son to bed the usual way: Brushed his teeth (a sure way to make him scream until the very second I stop and praise him for doing a good job), changed him into his jammies, read a book with him, and then turned off the light while I rocked him in my lap and sang a lullaby. I laid him down in his crib and, instead of immediately rolling over, he looked up at me with his eyes wide open. I stared back at him in wonder -- it was as if he was memorizing my face, burning it into his brain. I caressed his cheeks and told him to go to sleep, and then he rolled over.

Just one tiny moment of beauty and wonder.

May 21, 2013

the indy 500 diaper change

Yesterday, the three of us were sitting in a restaurant with a friend (okay, tasting room of a local brewery where you can call a restaurant and have them deliver your food), and I mentioned the story of a couple at a Starbucks who decided to quickly change their baby’s diaper in the seating area since there was no changing table in either restroom (more on that here) and got treated pretty poorly – an employee tossed a rag at them and told them to clean up after themselves. 

Then, to my chagrin, I realized the boy needed a change himself. I assessed the situation in the women’s room – the single room was big enough to fit a rhinoceros but had no stall and no changing table; just a filthy concrete floor crawling with dust bunnies. I came back and DH and I decided to conquer this as a team.

Here’s how I envision the diaper changing if we could do it Indy 500 style, which we did:
  1. Lock the door
  2. Person 1 holds the child standing in the air
  3. Person 2 pulls down the pants, unfastens and removes the diaper, disposes of the diaper (Quick! We don’t want the child to pee on Person 1), grabs the fresh diaper, fastens it on the child, pulls on the pants, and puts the socks and shoes back on.
  4. Both persons tell the child he’s doing a Great Job! Such a good boy! Wow!
  5. Persons emerge 30 seconds later with freshly-diapered and slightly bewildered child.

But, you know, more often than not there is no Person 2 to help you accomplish this feat. That’s why public places with restrooms that are bigger than my bedroom (or any size, for that matter) should really invest a teensy bit of funds into a changing table. Really. No, REALLY. You’re doing the general public a big favor and admitting that small children do, in fact, exist. Even in tasting rooms. 

random thoughts: perfectly normal

Just sit in this phrase for a bit and consider it's wisdom: Perfectly normal.

May 16, 2013

constantly adjusting expectations

That's what parenthood is really about, isn't it? I mean, we all wonder what our baby will be like. Then we wonder when he'll sleep through the night, and eventually wish he'd go back to sleeping through the night. There's the ever-evolving body changes, food and beverage preferences, behavior changes that are wonderful to witness and often puzzling to say the least (Really? You're crying because I put you on the changing table?).

The more I research, the more I have to relearn the fact that I have to change right along with my son if I want to stay sane. I've been torturing myself over what to feed my suddenly-picky toddler and searching endlessly for meal ideas for picky toddlers. Then, this morning, I came across this little gem: "...a child who opened wide during the first year may become suddenly obstinate at some point during the second year, often between 12 and 18 months of age... This normal behavioral development is a nearly universal source of (usually unnecessary) worry for parents. Ensuring that toddlers really get what they need to eat has a lot to do with adjusting parental expectations." (emphasis mine)

Note to self: Okay, take a deep breath and remember your kid is NORMAL. He won't be doomed to a lifetime of fries and ketchup, dairy and crunchy, diabetes and high blood pressure, just because he goes through a phase of whatever the heck this is.

May 15, 2013

more on feeding the one year old

I'm flummoxed. Baffled. Bewildered. Even flabbergasted.

I thought the boy was into a variety of foods. Maybe it's the cafeteria food he's eating at daycare for lunch (which I'm convincing myself breeds picky eaters). Maybe it's because toddlers don't grow nearly as fast and just aren't very hungry and therefore have the luxury of being picky. Maybe he's just too tired to care about food by the time dinner rolls around. But this kid can barely entertain the notion of eating something that isn't dairy or crunchy. (Yes, I just used a noun like a verb for the sake of rhyming.)

I have this fantasy in my head that we're going to raise an adventurous eater; a kid who loves going out to restaurants and actually eats something besides mac & cheese and isn't instead predisposed to flick food onto the floor while my husband goes apoplectic with embarrassment and frustration.

Maybe that's the problem: the fantasy in my head doesn't match my toddler's eating whims.

Every day, I'm charged with deciding what's for dinner. In that decision I take into account whether the boy will eat it. Usually the answer is no. At this point, I either change my mind or have a backup plan. Usually the backup plan is enacted.

Last night was no exception. I placed him in his booster, presented him with some seaweed, watched him flick it to the floor, broke out the crunchies as the backup, watched him eat a handful of these, gave him seaweed a second time and watched him eat them with no problem, grabbed a few chunks of chicken (flick), carrots (yum), more seaweed (yum), cheese (double-yum), followed by some chunks of orange (sort-of yum, one flick). Determining that the last flick meant he was full, I gave him his milk. He had a few sips, then tossed it to the floor. I called dinner done at that point, and he held out his hands at that point for me to pick him up. I try to remember to smile so he doesn't think he's disappointing me.

Every day is a secret combination-decoding process that I am determined to solve. However, I'm learning how to live with the fact that, often, I don't solve the puzzle and just move on to the next day.

Maybe he'd like a finely-diced lasagna? I could certainly go for that. Maybe I should just feed him dairy, crunchies, and baby food until he's 5 years old - at least that way he'd get some veggies in that cute little belly!

Any suggestions?

random thoughts: sleeping

I wonder if the Proverbs 31 mother/wife/business owner extraordinaire ever had trouble sleeping, or if she was just so exhausted at the end of every day that she fell into a coma for 6 hours a night? sigh...

May 12, 2013

happy older mother's day (video)

DH actually found this and showed it to me. It gave me a warm grin. Please enjoy.

May 10, 2013

amazing mountains

Tuesday evening, our water heater went out.  Thankfully, we didn’t realize this until after we gave our son a bath (granted, it wasn’t quite as warm as usual, but he survived).

That evening I took a sponge bath with water heated on the stove. The next evening, I took a shower at our recreation center. Thursday, I didn’t bother. I was determined to get the thing replaced that day.

Thursday morning, I came home after dropping off the boy at daycare to find DH on the floor with a pile of rags. Turns out the broken water heater let loose a bunch of water which leaked into the hallway, into our son’s room, into the dining area, and even into the drywall in the spare bathroom. Instead of saying anything, I opened my mouth and started crying into my hands.

You see, as we discovered shortly after replacing this floor not two years ago, the cheap crap we bought from the enthusiastic and uninformative sales person is part particle board underneath. Read: moisture travels fast if it gets underneath. It got underneath and crept like the plague across our floor. Our floor is now ruined. The entire thing (hallway, dining/living room) has to be replaced.

The contractor, whom we adore because he’s honest and straightforward (and unfortunately didn't know before buying this floor), stopped by to assess the damage and outline next steps. The boards will be removed, the concrete floor will be sanitized to prevent mold, and dryers will be set up to dry the surface before the new floor can be installed. Depending on how many days it takes the floor to dry and how long it takes to get the new flooring in, this whole process could take weeks. WEEKS. In the meantime, the insurance adjuster is coming over today to see if he can agree with the contractor on what needs to be done. I’m just praying for God’s providence, which I’ve already seen in the man from our church who was able to come and install a new water heater yesterday (just in time for us to shower and wash a LOT of dishes before bed).

I wouldn’t care so much about the timeline except for the vision of this little red-headed boy crawling around on cement surrounded by dryers. For days. Maybe longer. Will we need to stay at my mom’s for part of this disaster? Maybe. Who knows.

Funny how life’s little hurdles become giant mountains when you’re trying to keep things sane for the sake of a little one.

This morning, I walked into my son’s room to get him up (I could hear him babbling in there). He saw me, sat up, and smiled big as the moon like he does every morning. We talked about whether he slept well as I changed him, handed him his toothbrush, and got him ready for daycare. I gave him his milk, brushed his hair, and started dinner in the slow cooker. It's been a good morning after a really hard week.

Every hardship is worth it. Motherhood is completely amazing even when I’m scaling mountains.

May 8, 2013

random thoughts: working rhythms

Last week I had almost nothing to do at work, and it was horrible. Today I have tons of work to do, but I'm surfing the Web looking for meaningless pieces of information about nothing in particular, procrastinating against the very thing I was dying to have a few days ago. Apparently I'm lazy when I am busy. That's my working rhythm.

May 7, 2013

random thoughts: juggling it all

Never mind juggling it all: I now consider it a success if I’m able to stay on top of meals and laundry – the rest can kiss my bottom.

toughing it out

“Overall, I think this was a pretty successful day,” my mom said. It was Monday, which is the weekday I have chosen to stay home with my son and give him one less day in daycare. She came over early that morning, and we shared some coffee cake and coffee before heading to a hardware store. After the store we headed to her place, and my son took a 1.5-hour nap. While he was sleeping, we poked around in her backyard, and I ended up sawing off a couple sections of tree roots that were pushing up patio bricks. Actually, I was kind of surprised I could do it so easily – proof that picking up a 25-pound kiddo about 342 times a day really bulks up arm strength.  After his nap and lunch, we stopped at the grocery store and then back to my place. She left to take care of some other business. And it was me and the boy until DH got home.

I’m not sure why, but Mondays have become incredibly exhausting for me. Maybe it’s picking him up so often (since he’s not walking yet). Maybe it’s managing him through the things-he-should-stay-out of, irregular teething pain fits, trips to the store or wherever else I can take him to get out of the house, fixing dinner, planning dinner, changing diapers while trying to keep him from jumping off the changing table… On second thought, it’s becoming clear to me why I’m so tired by 6:00 Monday evening.

I must be complaining about this a lot, because DH is starting to suggest that I consider going back to work Mondays and extending our son’s daycare to five days a week. I have a pang of guilt mixed with determination whenever he suggests it, though: guilt because I know how important it is for my son to have more time with us at such an early age; determination because… well, I guess I’m determined to tough it out.

I’m beginning to wonder if I can survive my own determination. It’s an odd type of tiredness I feel, like there’s not enough coffee in the world in the morning, not enough wine in the evening (though I keep that in check, too), and I can’t get to bed early enough. It makes me fully aware of my midlife status, as much as I resent the implication that somehow it’s okay to feel older and therefore weaker. A quick look at the bags under my eyes only confirms the obvious. I’m just not as physically resilient as I once was, and taking care of myself is more critical to my well-being and my ability to handle life’s demands.

I checked in with my best girlfriend, and she assures me that things will calm down when he gets a bit older – say, four. By that time, my son will be done with the odd napping and the teething and at least some of the tantrums (not to mention being potty-trained). I’ll probably be more intellectually tired then, but that seems more doable. In the meantime, I guess yoga is my second best friend. I’m in it for the long haul.

May 3, 2013

what to do when your child is crying

Run through the mental list: Diaper? No. Hungry? No. Teething? Possibly. Randomly cranky with no foreseeable resolution? Getting warmer.

Distract by walking outside.

Fix a Manhattan.

Sing a nursery rhyme.

Put the child down so he can bang his fists on the floor and get it out of his system.

Stare at him in disbelief.

Stare at your partner in disbelief.

Stare at your Manhattan in disbelief.

Cuddle the child. Maybe he’s hurt or in pain.

Hear your child scream all the louder because you accidentally squeezed him a little too hard.

Sit down with him.

Stand up with him.

Hand him a cracker. Peace in the universe at last.

April 30, 2013

teething hell

Yesterday was one of the worst crabby days I’ve seen in my son, as he is starting to break in the lower canines. Holy cow, this little guy would scream randomly and clamor for me to pick him up only to jump out of my arms, throw food and sippy cups, wail in his car seat, and generally be a pain in the patootie. Thankfully, my mom spent the afternoon with us and so it didn’t seem too unbearable. You know your toddler is cranky when a random Target employee says funny, friendly things to your kid in order to distract him. I think he ate six crackers in our attempt to basically shut him up (snacks are rare).

By the time I got home I was ready for an extra-large sized cocktail. Which I did indulge in, and it did calm my nerves.

Before I get too far with this rant, I should say that I had an attitude adjustment even in the middle of all of this. I’m part of the meals ministry at our church, and occasionally deliver a meal to someone who’s sick or just had a baby. Yesterday I brought a pizza to a house, and met a young woman from church who just had a baby. I didn’t know anything about their story, but she cheerfully shared with me. The boy was born breech two weeks early, and the next day had to have brain surgery for a hemorrhage. She introduced me to this sweet, little thing who had an oxygen tube taped on, and several inches of stitches all around his tiny head. He’s doing well, though, and is expected to make a full recovery. She was beaming with joy, and all I could think was what a miracle this child is.

Witnessing this beautiful boy who spent the first month of his life in the NICU made me grateful for a lot – not from a place of pity, but of awe.

This morning, Mr. Cranky Pants was giving us more challenges and I nearly lost my cool in my exhausted haze just trying to get out the door (not at him, though – just in general), but I got the job done. Nothing like a big traffic jam when you’re already 45 minutes late to give you a chance to breathe.

I was reminded of a saying from Winston Churchill: If you find yourself going through hell, keep walking. That's probably a bit dramatic for this, but I'll take it anyway.

April 23, 2013

Infertility is the enemy you know – whether you know it or not

Right now, 1 in 8 Americans is suffering from the pain of infertility. It may be temporary, it may be permanent. But it is devastating, heart-wrenching, and largely a secret.

From the perspective of a person who has walked this road, I cannot understand why the subject is treated with such secrecy – why it’s considered so private and so rare, and therefore so shameful. The moment I started searching for answers to my situation, I uncovered a universe of women (and men) searching for the same answers to their own circumstances. By following blogs of other women experiencing infertility, I have found a wellspring of support and courage that has been part of my healing, and the reason I sought treatment through counseling and prayer. Otherwise I would have figured it was over and done with and I had no choice in the matter.

The point is, we are not alone. We’re probably not alone even on our own block, let alone our neighborhood.

I admit straight up that I’m not a public advocate. I don’t think about my two miscarriages and subsequent diagnosis of infertility very often. But if I “go there” for more than a few seconds, the horrific pain of that time in my life still surprises me. It’s a potent reminder of the depth of suffering in this world.

I’m not an advocate, but I am definitely a supporter. I continue to blog in the hopes that someone will read my story and know that this isn’t the end, many things are possible, and God desires to bring healing to your heart first.

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I encourage all of you who read this to take comfort in the fact that you don’t walk this road alone. The greater the awareness, the easier it will be to find answers and get support for treatment: from friends, from family, from God, and particularly from insurance companies who can start to support treatments so we don’t spend oceans of money over the course of the journey.

April 20, 2013

loosening the reins

Tonight I'm re-typing the guidelines I've written down for daycare and babysitters. I was looking at the incredibly regimented schedule we had for the boy and was amazed at how much we were really operating by the clock. Well, maybe not that we were, but that we no longer are.

Example: I had set times for every meal, every snack, every nap, plus bedtime and waketime. Now? Uh... well, the bedtime and waketime are still set in stone - 7pm to 7am. But he's in transition from two naps to one so I can't really control that anymore. We're pushing him to stay awake until at least 10:30, at which point we hope he sleeps at least two hours. It's a total crapshoot right now. So, the meals and snacks are still kind of close but it depends on when he naps.

A complete reversal from my regimen.

At first it drove me a little batty (not that it's a far trip). I wanted to plan things around him. But I really can't anymore, so I'm starting to relax and respect the fluctuations of his rhythms. It still bugs me but I'm trying.

As for that bedtime and waketime - I will keep that 7pm bedtime in place until he's 12 if I can, so help me! Not just because he really needs the sleep, but also because it gives me a solid two hours to chill out every evening - and that's worth staying regimented for.

April 13, 2013

MOTHER'S DAY 2013: True Faces of Rising Number of Over-40 Moms Revealed

In a bid to dispel unfounded, negative stereotypes regarding maternal age—and uncover the real benefits to children of the dramatically rising population of women having children after 40— is launching the “Mother’s Day Album: For All Women on the Journey of Motherhood Over 40”

A leading support website for later mothers, says the free online gallery is set to reveal the true faces and authentic voices of the growing ranks of women creating “a mother of an evolution” at the very heart of the Western nuclear family. MORE.