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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Or I'll just buy something that is decidedly NOT a clog

I ditched the clog fixation. I mean seriously, what was that?

I think all the analysis I did to put together yesterday’s post really helped make it clear that none of those shoes were really what I wanted. I should put that kind of consideration into every purchase I make, write out detailed pro and con lists, ask people for advice. Just think of all the money I’d save! (Not to mention all the time I’d waste…)

My brother and I ran into Kohl’s at lunch today because he had to get a few links taken out of a watch he got for Christmas (we work for the same company, in the same department, with the same boss… if you didn’t know). While he was dealing with his little errand, I ran up to the shoe department to check out their selection, to see if they had the perfect elusive clog I was desperately searching for, at a much cheaper price mind you. And they were all ugly. Because Newsflash! Clogs are ugly.

But they did have these cute little boots on sale, for $30. And they totally fit the bill.

Boots

Cute. Flat. Not bulky. Inconspicuous. Comfortable. Easy. Cheap. Perfect.

So behold, yesterday I was prepared to embrace my inner frump and purchase a pair of $100 clogs, and today, instead, I bought $30 boots from the juniors section at Kohl’s.

Yeah, I’m pretty much THAT all over the place in the rest of my life as well. Thanks for humoring me yesterday ladies.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sensible Shoes

Ok, so this is going to be a bit of a tangent from my normal postings of domesticated mom-ness, but bear with me. I need some advice.

I’m in the market for a pair of clogs. Yup, you read that right, I said clogs. FRUMP ALERT! Yeah, I know. Seriously though, over the last month I’ve come to the realization that I need the Minnesota Winter equivalent of a basic flat or moccasin, which is what I live in during the spring through fall months. Something with a little more oomph than a flat, that I can easily throw on with jeans or cords, or maybe even work trousers, that will not freeze my little toes off while I’m running multiple errands with Gus in tow, or trouncing through fresh snow in the darkness of my work parking lot at 5:00 PM, brushing off and scraping the windows of my car.

If anyone has a better idea than clogs, please, I’m listening. I simply can’t wear boots every day; they don’t work with all outfits. Skirts and dresses, sure, but it’s not feasible to do that every day, nor is it feasible to wear skinny jeans every time I go casual.

I’ve considered these cute oxfords pictured below, but when I really think about it, I only see myself wearing these with dresses and tights, skinny jeans or slim cords. If I threw these babies on with a basic pair of boot cut jeans I’d look like a little boy. Or just a really unfashionable, dumpy woman, stuck in the 90’s.

Steve Madden Oxfords

But hell, maybe clogs will just give me the same look?

I don’t know, am I being that person on What Not To Wear who keeps whining to Stacy and Clinton about how “comfortable” a certain pair of really ugly shoes are?

I swear, I’m not going to throw out all my cute heels and boots. It’s just, well, some days, when there’s a foot of snow on the ground and you’re looking at a day of doing the car seat dance with your toddler, (in and out, in and out, “Please cooperate honey, I know you’re sick of being repeatedly strapped into this thing, here, how about a cookie! And here’s your favorite book! {singing} The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout…”), well you know what I’m talking about. I need an easy pair of mom shoes that are not hideous and are not tennis shoes (puke).

So I’ve found a few clogs that might work, all of them have their own virtues and follies… you tell me. Which pair of only slightly offensive sensible footwear is worthy of my spending my Christmas money from grandma and grandpa?

1. I know these pretty much look like slippers, but they sure look sensible, and comfortable! And I like the red. If I’m going to embrace this kind of look, then why not do it with a funky color at least? These I would definitely not wear at work, maybe on the way to work, but I’d have to change into something once at the office. They sure look like good car-scraping shoes though. But definitely, ultra-casual. Too casual?

Clog 1

2. Gosh. I don’t know about these babies. Every time I look at them I change my mind about them. First I’m all, “cute details with the stitching, I like the buckles!” Then the next moment, I don’t even know if they’re even remotely cute. The width of the toe frightens me a little, do they resemble clown shoes a little too close for comfort?

Clog 2

3. Very simple, classic clog, but with a twist. And that twist is metallic? A little wedge? Hmm… I like the slight heal, but the metallic thing reminds me of Betsy’s silver spacey moon shoes from our freshman year of college. This could be shaky territory.

Clog 3

4. These are adorable. I mean right? Adorable. I could even wear these with a cute little skirt and tights, or a sweater dress. They are almost in that bootie territory, but not quite. Definitely chunky, but for some reason the chunkiness is not freaking me out. And chunky seems to sort of be coming back into vogue. I also like that the toe doesn’t seem so wide, it’s a bit more tapered than a lot of the other clogs I’ve seen. My only hesitation is the heel. Does it go against my driving need here for something that I will be able to slip on and run out the door with the boy? Will it go with a tee and cardigan, my basic at-home uniform?

Clog 4

5. I am a lover of all things moccasin, and these are cute… and simple, and inoffensive. And very Minnesooootan (said with my very best Midwestern accent). Not as versatile as the last ones though, that’s for sure, you can’t dress these guys up. But yeah, I like. And they’re on sale and much less expensive than the others. I could take my remaining $50 and go buy a sweater!

Clog 5

6. Gosh, I like the last two, and now the rest of these shoes seem really lame. These last ones especially, I mean, ugh. I don’t even know why I bookmarked these ones. At this moment I can find no reason to put these anywhere above any of the others. I guess they’re pretty classic Danish clogs. So there. With ugly buckles. Ok, no.

Clog 6

Ok, so there you have it. Now I’d like your opinions, if you have them. Which ones are contenders? Or are you still reeling from the fact that I’m considering buying clogs, and that I’m talking about them on my blog?

Ha! Clog! Blog! Sweet, an unintentional rhyme! Neato. Seriously though, help!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And so it begins

We’re in the home stretch, of the “Holiday Season” that is, and I could not be more excited. Per usual, it’s a little overwhelming, juggling both of our families and trying to find a way to actually spend quality time with everyone rather than feel like we’re constantly running from one place to the next. There always seem to be hurt feelings on someone’s part, but we really do try so very hard to make it work.

We kicked off Christmas last night at my brother’s house with a laid back night of Chinese take-out, a huge batch of my mom’s home-made Chex-mix, and pecan turtle cookies purchased from the local bakery down the street from my house. Dinner was followed by some competitive Wii tennis, a rowdy game of Pictionary, and Sid the Science Kid.

Re: Sid the Science Kid… our rambunctious little toddler had to be somewhat distracted whilst the adults attempted to play a board game. And for the most part, a few episodes of that strange PBS show did the trick, though Gus did steal the little plastic hourglass timer at one point. I won’t lie, getting it back involved a bit of negotiation.

Christmas Gus


After getting home last night at 9:30 and putting a very sleepy little boy to bed, I had the very sudden realization that the rest of our weekend looks to be insane. And that made me very sleepy as well. My friends, we are in for lots of CHRISTMAS over the next few days.

Tonight is Christmas with Dan’s immediate family. I can’t wait. There is likely to be insane amounts of shrimp and cheesy potatoes and cookies eaten, hilarious stories told, squeals from little children, manic dogs ripping apart wrapping paper… all the stuff that you can expect from a big family being together to celebrate the holiday. It’s hard to explain it, but the chaos, the anticipation, the wide-eyed babies… it’s just all so wonderful and insane. It is Norman Rockwell on crack. It is family to the nth degree. It is CHRISTMAS.

Friday I will hopefully have time to get a few of my last-minute things done, Santa still hasn’t wrapped Dan’s stocking stuffers that he went out and bought yesterday during his lunch break, and a long time ago I promised to bring a salad to my grandma’s, so that probably means a trip to the grocery store on Christmas Eve. Hmm… that sounds pretty much like my worst nightmare. Maybe I should try to take care of that today.

We attend church on Christmas Eve with Dan’s family and it’s my favorite service of the year. All the little girls decked out in their white tights and satin and velvet dresses with big bows, the beautiful sanctuary decorated for the holiday, and the countless familiar hymns… The closing hymn is always “Silent Night”, for which they turn down all the lights and pass out these little white candles to everyone in the church. It’s incredibly serene and beautiful, and every single year leaves me with goose bumps and a little lump in my throat as the service comes to an end.
We don’t make it to church very often throughout the year, but the Christmas Eve service is usually one that rejuvenates my faith and sort of inspires me to get more serious about joining a congregation. I’d like to really do that this year, instead of talk about it, and I think Dan and I have decided to become members at the Lutheran Church his parents belong to, and to really get more involved in their community. So hopefully we make that a reality in the New Year.

After church, this year we’ll be heading to my grandparents’ house for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner of potato soup, sausages and sour kraut. How very Midwestern-y German of us… It’s so funny to hear what every family’s traditions are, I love that they all seem to have their own very distinct way of celebrating the holiday. Especially here in the Midwest, everyone’s meals are so… well, weird. I’m not going to pretend that my grandpa’s (very distinct) potato soup (lots of onions, very thin cream based, mashed potatoes as opposed to chunks) is not a strange tradition to have on Christmas Eve. But for me, it is Christmas Eve. Just the smell of it brings back memories of thirty people all crowded into their tiny living room, opening gifts, one by one, youngest to oldest. My brothers and I sleeping on the floor of my grandparents’ porch, dreaming of Santa Clause and candy canes and scooters, while my parents sneak out to midnight mass.

On Christmas morning we’ll have brunch with my parents and brothers, and exchange gifts amongst my immediate family… then it’s off to Dan’s aunt’s house for more food and cookies and games and family.

It’s a lot. And my motto is definitely to “go with the flow…” Because if I think about the logistics… about Gus staying up super late 4 days in a row and how THAT might go, about fitting in his nap on Christmas day during the one-hour drive from my parents house to Dan’s aunt’s… about making sure we bring the right gifts to the right houses… it all sounds very overwhelming. But I do think it’s worth it, and it’s hard to complain about the fact that we have “too” much family to see over the holiday. We’re really so lucky and blessed to spend time with all these people we love so much.

Soooo… here goes nothing. Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

The tree is up! Saturday after Thanksgiving we drove an hour north to our favorite little family-owned tree farm and cut down a beauty. And this year we didn't inadvertently pick out a massive monster of a tree that would completely take over our sweet little old house with its charmingly tiny rooms and little walk-ways. Yay!

This place is really everything you could ever ask for around the holidays. It is quintesential Minnesotan. A family who runs it that remember you year after year, homemade spritz cookies, popcorn, and apple cider to warm you up, a bin of toys in the corner of the cabin for the little ones to play with, and plenty of room for little pent-up city dogs to run. The absolute perfect place for Gus to have his first dose of "winter wonderland".

Gus went crazy for the sled, even cried if we would attempt to take him out. He took a face plant in the snow at one point, but didn't seem to mind.

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He did plenty of exploring in his ridiculous outfit that is way too small for him and is made for big babies, not little toddlers. I bought that blue Columbia suit for him last year. Yeah, he's our little guy and we love him and his tiny-ness.

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Look ma! No hands! (He refused to wear his mittens, so he lost the priviledge of having hands.)

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Then he went on the swing with his cousin Megan (how cute are his little boots?). Not sure what to think at first, but then loved it. And again, cried when we tried to get him down.

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He loved when Daddy would throw the leaves up for Bella to go crazy at. What an insane dog.

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But yeah, tree is up, lights are on, and that's as far as we've gotten. And it's crooked and we can't seem to get it to not be crooked. Ughhhh. I think we may just have a crooked tree this year, because I can't handle any more putzing with it. So all my pictures of the tree may have to be angled like this, because it sort of disguises the bastardly crookedness.

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Doesn't look crooked from the kitchen.

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But yeah, crooked.

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Baby sneak attack!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On the other side of the dreaded Baby Cold

Wow. What a difference a week makes.

The fog of sickness has lifted from our household and we seem to be on the other side of that mess. And people, may I say, the other side is lovely.

Relief. I feel like myself again.

Gus slept like a dream last night. I woke up to him babbling to himself on the monitor in the middle of the night, and almost couldn’t believe my eyes when I looked at the clock. A quarter to two! What what?! I know, some of you who have good sleeping babies are amazed that I would be happy with being woken up at 2:00 AM, but honestly, that is HUGE for us. Gus is usually up around 10:30 PM, which corresponds to when we’re going to bed, at which time he refuses to go back in his crib.

When that becomes the norm, when there are too many nights in a row where I just finally go to bed at 10:00 PM because Gus won’t go back down by himself, I start to feel like I’m suffocating under the weight of the mass amount of nighttime parenting he seems to require. I resent him for not being able to snuggle up with my husband at the end of the night, laughing and talking about whatever it is we talk about as we fall asleep. I resent him as I lie in bed, starting at the clock, afraid to fall asleep because hearing him cry out right as I’m drifting off is just about the worst thing ever. I resent him on Saturday nights when we are hesitant to start a movie at 8:30 because it’s so unlikely that we will actually be able to get through it before he wakes up.

On Monday night, Dan and I started an episode of How I Met Your Mother at like 9:45, and when Gus woke up about 10 minutes into it, I released my inner five-year old, outwardly groaning as I whined, “He ruins EVERYTHING!” (I did not stomp your feet, in case you're picturing that.) To which my level-headed and wonderful husband replied, “No he doesn’t, you don’t mean that. It’s really not a big deal, we’ll watch it tomorrow.”

And he’s so right. This too, shall pass. I need to constantly remind myself of that, and of the fact that I am committed to this kind of parenting, because it is what I believe in. I believe that Gus will benefit from a secure attachment to his parents. He will be a better child, a healthier, more emotionally developed kid, because he has parents who were steadfast in responding to his needs, who didn’t leave him to cry-it-out, alone in the dark, hurt that no one is coming to his aid, confused by the fact that his only way of communicating is being out-right ignored.

When we decided to become parents, we knew it wouldn’t be easy, there would be sacrifices, and this first year (plus) of parenting? Well, I’m realizing it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s hard to have that kind of perspective in those moments of frustration, but I’m working on it. Dan is better at it than I am. He makes me smile on those difficult nights when I am feeling bitter and annoyed, when he kisses Gus’s little head as he lies between us nursing, whispering to me about how sweet and cute our little boy is, legs all curled up into me, his arm reaching up to touch the hairs on the back of my neck.

So last night I was almost joyful as I stumbled into his room, scooped up my baby, and climbed back into bed with him in my arms. He promptly fell back asleep after a short nursing session and barely stirred the rest of the night. Maybe once or twice more I nursed him. I don’t even know, but it was a great night. And when I snuck out of bed this morning and watched his little perfect eyelashes flutter while he slept, I remembered that this was all worth it. When I had to wake him up this morning to get dressed for Grandma’s house, and he proceeded to wrap his arms around my neck and burrow his head into me, smelling of apple-scented baby shampoo and just pure deliciousness, yeah. I remembered then.

This life is good. Not always easy. But really, really good.

We had our first appointment with our new pediatrician on Monday. Since he was about 6 months old, I've complained ad naseum about the fact that I hate Gus's doctor, and this week, we finally moved on.

I knew it was time, when I realized that I had continued to put off making his 12 month appointment because I dreaded seeing her so much, dreaded her judgement, dreaded the way she talked to you without making eye contact, or the way she would answer my questions with lectures about something else entirely. It was definitely time.

I am so relieved. This new pediatrician is so perfect for us.

Perfect example... Gus has been having constipation issues for a while now, the dirty details of which I will spare you , and we're sort of at our wit's end about it. We're constantly worrying about everything he eats, when the last time he "went", trying to get him to drink more fluids, it's exhausting. And Dan and I, being really adverse to using medications when there are more natural ways of approaching things like this, were both at the point where we were ready to medicate away, if it would solve this problem. Poor guy, it kills us.

Anyway, our doctor is not ready or willing to resort to that, and I took that as a really good sign. We discussed a lot of different methods of attacking the darn pooping issue, and I feel so much better about it.

Then there's the weight thing. Our old doctor gave me an insane complex about his weight, I swear she was "this" close to suggesting we supplement with formula on multiple occasions, all because Gus was dropping percentiles very slightly at each visit. New pediatrician didn't even say a word about it until I mentioned it, at which point she looked at the growth chart and said, "Looks pretty normal for a breast-fed baby, especially one that had such a high birth weight, they have a way of self-correcting for being born big. Slim is better! Considering the high rates of obesity in children, I prefer that they're in the lower percentile range. He is perfectly healthy, perfectly normal."

I was practically grinning from ear to ear. While my instincts had told me to ignore the stupid comments my mis-informed doctor had made, that hasn't always been easy. For a majority of his baby-hood, spurred by her comments, the thoughts were constantly in the back of my head, that I didn't produce enough milk for my son. That I wasn't enough for him, that I was going to fail at this breast-feeding thing. That by continuing, I was somehow not doing the right thing for him. Ugh. I wish I could make it so that no breast-feeding mother ever has to feel that way, it is such an isolating place to be.

I am so happy to have found this new pediatrician, all thanks to Dan's mom and Aunt. And as if I need any more examples of how much we jive with her, on the sleep front she recommended a book that I have already read, cover to cover, and loved, Elizabeth Pantly's "The No Cry Sleep Solution". I openly shared that we co-sleep, and there was no judgement, no pushiness, and instead she presented a relatively good case for why we might not want to wait for Gus to just magically start to sleep better, especially since it is causing us some issues during the week with napping when he's not with us. And she didn't simply present a good case for change, she gave us ideas for how to attack the issue, gently. Without crying. All while reiterating that if we're fine with how things are going, and aren't ready for a change, that we don't need to, and shouldn't push it.

So yeah, like I said, what a difference a week makes.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A good night's sleep. What's that like again?

Whew. It was a long weekend, and not really in a good way. Gus has been sick since Thursday evening, and has basically been terrorizing our household with his runny nose and neediness and inability to sleep more than 45 minute to one hour stretches. I am exhausted. He’s only had about three colds since he’s been born, but gosh, I forget how horrible they are until we’re in the trenches again.

Of course I got whatever he has, and tending to my poor sick child pretty much all night long has not helped with my recovery. I feel like death.

In related news, I’ve created a monster. My child is obsessed with his mama and basically only wants me in the middle of the night. He gets so worked up when Dan tries to take a shift, to the point that it will take him two to three times as long to get him back to sleep, so it just doesn’t seem worth it to switch off. Half the time I lay in bed listening to them in the other room, stressing out over Gus’s cries, getting frustrated that Dan can’t do it right. Also note: I am a control freak. So yeah, my control freak ways REALLY come back to haunt me when I’m sick and my child wants me and only me.

Last week we toyed with the idea of taking down Gus’s crib and setting up a Montessori style bed on the floor in his room. This would make it easier to help soothe him back to sleep in his own room, because when I am faced with the choice of the rocking chair or our bed, in my hazy middle-of-the-night state I will almost always choose our bed. And there he will stay for the rest of the night. If I could curl up with him in his own bed and sneak out when he falls back asleep, that would be a hell of a lot more preferable to the careful dance of leaning over the crib ever so slowly, trying to be as still as possible, inching my arm out from under him ever so carefully. I hate that dance. Damn crib.

We know we need to make some sort of change because we’re going on a ski trip in January with some friends, meaning we’ll be leaving him overnight for the first time. 5 days, 4 nights at my parents’ house. Good God, suffice it to say, I am freaking out a little.

So we need to get on top of this sleeping thing a little, try to get him to the point where he will sleep by himself in his own bed for a good portion of the night, and if that’s not working, at least get him used to having someone tend to him besides his mother and her almighty boobs. We decided against ditching the crib for good at this stage in the game, (mostly because we do like having a place in the house where he can be safely contained!). So we set up the toddler bed in our room, right next to our bed, up against the wall. So basically we are a bunch of hippies with a big old family bed that takes up our entire bedroom. The plan is to get him to sleep more on his own in that little bed, where he’s still within arms reach, he’s not alone in his room which we know he hates, and he can still be soothed quickly and easily when needed. And the best part of this arrangement is that it gives us so much more room. Like seriously, the extra space is a god-send.

Since he’s been sick this weekend, we haven’t seen much progress, actually it’s probably gone the other way as anyone who has dealt with a sick baby would probably guess, but hopefully the little change will be good for our family.

Seriously though, he is such a stubborn little stinker, the kid just wants to sleep snuggled up to you all night long. If he’s not face all up in my chest, he’s spreading both of his arms out to touch Dan and me, making sure we’re both still there, and sleeping spread eagle, taking up about ½ the bed himself. Last night I kept trying to put him in his own little side bed, and he would just roll and squirm over to me within 5 minutes. At one point, I think it was around 3:30 AM, he dive-bombed over my body to get between Dan and me. And when there was no room between us, he just snuggled up, closed his eyes, and decided he would sleep sprawled out on top of the both of us.

When Dan left for work this morning he was sleeping horizontally, half in our bed, half in his, his head in my armpit and his feet up on his pillow. I mean this is what I’m dealing with. Such a character, it’s a good thing he’s so gosh darn cute.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Monster Mash!

We had a wonderful Halloween this year. Lots of family, lots of laughs, lots of chances to dress up my little dude as the cutest dragon that there ever was with the most smooshiest cheeks and the most kissable nose and the most hilarious toothy grin.

First up was the annual costume party at Dan's grandma's house on Friday night. Another year where we waited until the last minute to find something to wear. Ugh. I hate last minute costumes because I am just not one of those creative types who can make something amazing out of empty paper towel rolls, duct tape, and old sparkly tube tops. But since I'm a procrastinator in everything that I do, most years I end up trying to come up with something just a few days before the party. This time, it was the day of.

Gus and I took a trip to the Halloween super store on Friday morning after I decided Dan and I would be a somewhat haphazard prince and princess, to go along with Gus's dragon diggs that we got months ago for about $7 at Costco. (What what!) Well... I couldn't find a crown for Dan to wear, and had to buy a child's sequined tiara for myself. Ended up spending $50 on that, a black hooded cape for Dan, and some stupid midevil looking weapon and king's crown. Thought, hmm... Dan could be an evil king holding me hostage in his castle, guarded by an adorable dragon? Ok, whatever. It's something.

I think Dan wanted to punch me when he saw the crown and strange spikey-ball weapon I spent that much money on. Also, the crown just was not going to stay on his head. It was cheap and rubber and a completely regrettful purchase. Then I tried on the pink strapless bridesmaid dress from Betsy's wedding that I had planned on wearing, and when zipped up, my boobs were absolutely crushed to the max. Those suckers were not going to last a whole night smashed like pancakes. (Damn breastfeeding!) So the dress was a no-go.

Instead, we dug out some wigs we wore a few years ago as Daphne and Fred. I sorta looked like Princess Fionna from Shrek when I put on this old vintage thrift store green dress that I had in my closet. Sorta. Well, the hair did. Sorta. Not really. (The Little Mermaid might have made more sense but I certainly was not going to wear a shell bra, nor would I be creating some sort of mermaid fin in the next hour.)

And Dan in that ridiculous 70's wig with my recently purchased princess tiara? Total Prince Charming. Basically him in that wig is just hilarious. So yeah, whatever. We had our costumes. No one knew who we were dressed as, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that we participated. And really all anyone cared about was that we brought our cute baby to the party.

The party was a blast, as usual. I love how the whole family goes all out with the costumes and childrens crafts, pin-the-tail-on-the-cat, and the toilet paper mummy game. It's all pretty awesome.

(Yeah, that's Gus's little blonde head sticking out of that pile of toilet paper. The mummy game gets pretty crazy, and where there's crazy kids screaming, there is my child wanting to get in on the action.)

Saturday evening we carved our pumpkins. Carving pumpkins with a toddler is a lot different than carving pumpkins without a toddler. Basically, there was no messing around with pre-printed templates and poking little holes for an hour before even getting to the carving. It literally took me about 4 minutes to carve Gus's little pumpking. I just grabbed the knife and went to town. If I'm honest, I think I like the haphazard "homemade" carvings we did better than any professional-looking template. Cause they're totally us, mistakes and imperfections and all.

We made a huge mess of the kitchen, and I completely forgot about my intentions to roast the pumpkin seeds until after they were all in the trash with the rest of the pumpkin guts, but it was so worth it to see Gus sticking his head in pumpkins, hesitantly squishing the cold insides between his fingers, wandering the house gnawing on the tops. (Raw pumpkin is ok for babies right?!)
Of course just as we finished them and were trying to take a good picture out on the front steps that wasn't blurry, my camera battery died. So you get lots of the before pictures, but not a lot of the finished products.

On second thought, maybe it was the hat. Gus just wouldn't sit still, and I didn't have the where-with-all to take a picture of the stupid pumpkins without my kid in it. Before the camera died that is. Oh well.

Finally, today, on the actual Halloween, we had a birthday party to go to. My grandpa turns 83 tomorrow, so the whole family got together to celebrate. I think once you hit 80, every party should be a big one! We skipped the trick-or-treating, because we were all three of us tired after a long day, plus Gus is 14 months old for goodness sake, and only this weekend had his first taste of candy. (I couldn't help it, I was hit by the holiday spirit!) But Gus of course went to the party all dressed up and adorable. And so you get just a few more pictures. Because I am obsessed with this kid!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shrug it off

There were a few days last week (Dan might say more than a few) when I was just, I don’t know… tired. Cranky. Sullen. Last week was just one of those weeks when I found it hard to cope with the drudgery of everyday life. I was worn down, glassy-eyed. Blank. I don’t know what was wrong with me, really it was nothing. It was a regular week, but for some unknown reason I was not of the frame of mind where I could just shrug stuff off.

Sometimes life just feels overwhelming. Our house is almost always a DISASTER. I’m not exaggerating. It is overwhelming. And I hate it, but I just can’t seem to dig myself out of the clutter, the dust, the piles of laundry, the dog hair. So I ignore it. I try to brush it off, tell myself that it’s not a big deal. But it sort of is a big deal, because when it gets that bad, I can’t relax. I tell myself that I’ll tackle one thing on the list when Gus goes down for a nap, but then, somehow, I waste away the majority of his nap emptying the dishwasher, wiping down the counters, organizing the mail. I still never get to the actual cleaning… the stuff beyond the everyday load of laundry, the sink full of dishes.

Speaking of Gus. The everyday mom stuff can be hard if you’re not able to get into the “shrug it off” mode. And last week that just wasn’t happening. I had a meeting one night that I had to go to right from work. I was feeling ok about it, actually feeling like it might be nice to have a day where I wasn’t rushing home to help get dinner on the table, struggling to get Gus to eat something, doing dishes, squeezing in some fun time with the boy, then onward to the bedtime/bath routine, getting his bag packed for the next day, vegging out in front of the TV for an hour with a glass of wine before going to bed by 10:30, only to be woken up by crying on the baby monitor within twenty minutes of my head hitting the pillow.

So yeah, I thought it might be a sort of nice break to not have to rush home for all that. I met Lisa for coffee, after which we headed to the meeting where I got to talk “business” with adults over a nice meal. But then the meeting went a bit late, and I felt guilty. I needed to get home. At nine I was finally home, and I immediately snuck upstairs and peeked into Gus’s room to find Dan rocking and singing to a little toddler who did not look like he was cooperating with this whole “bedtime” thing. So I took my boy and nursed him and a half hour later he was asleep in his crib. By that time, Dan was almost through with dishes and putting together everything for the next day, and instead of feeling relieved, I felt guilty.

Guilty for not being there to help out. Guilty for having spent absolutely no time with my kid the whole day. Guilty for being pretty much the only one who can (relatively) easily get my son down at night. Guilty that Gus went to bed so late and because the next day was Thursday, he would have to be woken up at 6:00 AM so Dan could drop him off at his parents. And then guilty for still just being super exhausted and worn down, despite a night off.

I don’t know, I just couldn’t seem to shrug anything off last week. I mean Dan had just spent the evening doing day-care pickup/dinner/bath/stories/bedtime all by his lonesome, but I was the one that got all cranky about it. From the guilt! Ridiculous.

It’s so easy to let the little stuff get to you. I’m always worried about how much sleep Gus gets, because the “experts” all seem to say he should get more, but he just doesn’t nap very well for other people, and he’s at three different places each week, making a routine really hard to come by. Some mornings when I’m getting up for work it is impossible to get him from our bed to his crib without him waking up. So on those days, he’s up at 6:00.

And then I stress even more because I’m dropping him off somewhere where he will probably not get much more than an hour’s nap throughout the day. And then if that’s the case he’s a crankfest when Dan picks him up. So he has to decide to either a.) put him down for a nap at 4:30 PM, meaning bedtime is inevitably pushed out to 9:00 and thus perpetuate the cycle of not getting enough sleep, or b.) keep a tired and weary little boy content enough to make it through dinnertime and a bath, then it’s bed by 7:00 – one whole hour after I get home from work.

One guess as to how many mornings I was able to successfully transfer Gus from our bed to his crib last week. Zilch. Nada. None.

Good news though, we’ve started out this week much better than last. Gus slept until 7:00 this morning, at which point I actually had to wake him up to get him dressed and ready to go to Jasmine’s. And then at Jasmine’s, instead of sobbing when I said goodbye like he has the last few Tuesdays, he smiled at me from her hip and looked excited to run around and terrorize the rest of her household. Thank goodness, because my heart just can’t take those tearful goodbyes.

I made a much needed hard-core trip to the grocery store this weekend, so the refrigerator and pantry are stocked, making week-night dinnertime much less stressful. And the cherry on top of that sundae is that I made a big batch of chili this weekend so we already have one dinner ready to go! Leftovers are awesome.

Also, I vacuumed the whole main floor yesterday, and Dan (is awesome) hung some hooks in our living room/dining room that I bought a few weeks ago. So there is finally a place to store and hang our coats/bags/miscellaneous items that usually end up on the backs of our dining room chairs.

At my ECFE class yesterday the instructor totally blew my mind during our talk about toddler eating. I stress out a lot about how much Gus is eating, because not only is he becoming so much pickier than he used to be, but he also seems to be eating so much less. I’ve tried to stay zen about the whole thing, I know that at this age he’s not growing as rapidly as he was in the first year of his life, and he doesn’t really need as much food as I think he does. But who am I kidding, I’m an obsessive first-time mom.

Anyway, my instructor is awesome, love her, and she showed us actual visual representations of the portion sizes a 12-18 month-old should get. One serving of cheese, for example, is a pair of dice. A PAIR OF DICE! Um yeah… so it’s probably a good thing, rather than bad, that Gus is no longer eating whole sticks of cheese in one sitting, and I need to calm down. As for grains/carbs, (i.e. pasta/waffles) a toddler’s portion size is about the size of two dominoes. Like for reals.

Consider my mind BLOWN.

And finally, last night we had one of those nights where Dan and I both kept prolonging bedtime for Gus, not because we were dreading it or feeling super worn out, but because he was just being so sweet and wonderful and hilarious and adorable. He was starting to get to that point of the night where we were crossing over into over-tiredness, but he just had us in stitches, chasing a spinning bowl around the dining room, uncontrollable giggling, I just didn’t want to say goodnight to him. He was just too much, makes us so happy.

So anyway, here is to a good week! Not like last week was even that bad, I made it through, even if I felt a bit like a zombie at times. Really, I should say, “Here’s to shrugging it off!” because that seems to be the moral of the story.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My way

I’m not going to pretend this is some sort of enormous revelation, but grilled cheezus if I am not at all the type of mother I envisioned myself being, way back when. “Way back when” being… I dunno, as a 22 year old newly married know-it-all? The girl who thought this family she married into had a bit of this crazy-hippie thing going on with their homebirths and homeschooling and non-vaccinating ways, and she was a little… dare I say judgy?

I give myself more credit than that, I didn’t openly judge any of the parenting and personal choices my in-laws made, but I certainly dismissed a lot of it as “out-there” and unquestionably not for me. I didn’t get it. I didn’t know. I was young, and I had only my own upbringing to fall upon as “the way”.

Well that and TV and the Movies.

I may have concocted somewhat of a Hollywood-ized version of what it was like or should be like to start a family in the 21st century. I saw myself as a latte-sipping, suit-wearing, daycare dropping off, city-dwelling, working mother of 2 (a boy and a girl of course). All of my baby’s clothes would be unique and perfect and come from specialty boutiques rather than big-box stores. My kids would grow up eating sushi and using sign-language, and would certainly be potty-trained well before the age of two.

They would be well-mannered little angels who always did as told. We would go to church every Sunday as a family and I imagined the compliments we would receive from the elderly couple behind us about how wonderfully behaved our children were. We would still travel as a couple quite often, I mean what is wrong with those people who can’t leave their children for someone else to watch? Cut the umbilical cord already!

My house would not be cluttered with offensive plastic toys and baby contraptions, specifically the living room would be off limits for those kinds of messes. Oh, and HELL to the NO would I be bringing my baby to bed with me, that is horrifying! Babies belong in cribs!

In short, my life would be somewhat of a cross between Ally McBeal and the movie Stepmom, except I wouldn’t be a stepmom, I would be the real mom, and I wouldn’t have cancer and my daughter wouldn’t be a total snot. That’s really confusing because I need to reiterate that I wouldn’t be divorced, and my husband would not have left me for a younger woman, and neither would I be that other woman. Basically I would just look effortlessly beautiful like Julia Roberts all the time, live in a fantastic and chic loft, and have some sort of amazing kick-ass professional career. And my kids and I would spontaneously break out into song in the car as a way of cool-mom/kid bonding.

Anywaaaaay….

What I’m getting at here is that it’s interesting to see where I’m at, a little over a year into this whole parenting gig. A lot of the clothes Gus wears were purchased at thrift stores and garage sales by my mom, or given to us as hand-me-downs from Dan’s mom. Otherwise they’re from Target, Kohl’s, JC Penny, or Old Navy. Gasp! All very mainstream, big-box retailers. My inner 22-year old yuppie is horrified when she sees another kid wearing the same Carter’s dinosaur onesie that Gus has. Yeah, not really.

My absolute FAVORITE place to buy baby/children’s clothes is from Comfykid.com, specifically, I am obsessed with Zutano baby clothes. And honestly, their prices are not that unreasonable, but when it comes to buying clothes that my kid is going to grow out of in a matter of months, $20 for a pair of striped cozy knit pants or ridiculously adorable coveralls with little aliens and spaceships all over them is even too much for me. So I save that website for when I need a pick-me-up that only periwinkle sherpa overalls can provide.

Again, I am getting off track, cute baby clothes will do that to you. The point is, any normal day, set me loose on the table of $4 basic sweatpants and t-shirts at Target and I’m good to go.

At about the 6-week mark of my maternity leave I had a meltdown when I realized I couldn’t fathom going back to work full time and bringing Gus to the wonderful in-home daycare we had set up. So now he spends most of his time with his grandmas while I’m at work just three days a week, and I couldn’t feel more lucky or thankful for how everything has worked out. We’ve been able to find the work-life balance that works for our family and of course it looks nothing like what I thought it would.

As for our posh sushi dinners, I don’t even like or eat sushi, so my kids will have to settle for deep-fried sunfish and popcorn shrimp at grandma and grandpa’s cabin in Wisconsin. Sign-language has been a big old parenting fail, something I talk like I’m going to do but don’t actually do, and future Alicia will worry about potty training because this one doesn’t even want to think about it yet.

And the rest of that about my perfect family with well-behaved children who clean their plates and quietly play with their educational/developmental toys in a very specific corner of the house? That doesn’t even sound appealing AT ALL. I mean who are those people? What kind of life is that? Where’s the fun, the spontaneity, the messes, the yelling, the chasing, the chaos, the laughter?

Anyone who knows me knows that becoming a mom has brought out my inner-hippie. I am officially down on The Man, I don’t seem to quite fit in with the moms at my mommy-and-me class, and my friends think I’m crazy because I still haven’t spent a night away from my 13 month old son. I had an unmedicated Bradley birth and am still breastfeeding with no plans to stop anytime soon. My baby spends about 4 hours, at most, in his crib every night, and the rest of it snuggled up next to me and Dan in bed.

He’s nowhere close to sleeping through the night, but I can’t let him cry-it-out. I just can’t. Life is so short, our babies are only young once, and I am pretty sure, one way or another, he’ll be out of our bed someday and I’ll miss his sweet breath on my neck. The inconveniences I feel today of co-sleeping will seem so trivial when my baby is no longer my baby and I would give my right arm to go back in time and cuddle him all night long.

So I pretty much break all the parenting rules, and let my instincts guide my decisions. I “get” why people homeschool (and there are so many different reasons). I “get” why some people choose not to vaccinate. And homebirth? Gosh, sometimes I think I might even consider it if the idea of cleaning up the mess afterwards didn’t appall me so much. ;)

Mostly I’ve learned that there is no one way to do this. We’re all figuring it out, we’re all doing what works for our families, and I’m ok with that. Dan’s mom wrote something in an email to me once that just said it all, explained perfectly how it feels to be in charge of a life. We were talking about child care, my “Tuesday nanny” moved away this summer and I had the daunting task of finding someone new to watch Gus once a week, and of course I was a wreck about it. My brother was a bit dismissive, said something like, “people drop their kids off at daycare everyday and they’re fine, you’re being crazy”.

And I know, I probably was being a little crazy, but no! He is MY BABY and he is helpless and I am in charge of making sure he feels loved and cared for and trusting of his environment. I get why someone without a kid might say that, but gosh, when it’s YOUR BABY it IS different. We’re not just talking about some kid. That’s my kid. Though these days I can’t even look at a child and think of them as just “some kid” anymore.

Anyway, my mother-in-law said this to me, “When you’re the advocate for someone so trusting and small and you’re leaving him there, all by himself… that’s a responsibility that feels very huge and serious.”

YES! That is exactly it! And that is exactly why we all need to figure out for ourselves how we’re going to do this parenting stuff, and we all will probably do things a little bit differently.

So yeah, I’m surprised by what end of the parenting spectrum I ended up falling on, that’s for sure, and it’ll be interesting to see what kind of mom of a preschooler, pubescent teenager, and adult I end up being. Life is full of surprises, it’s something new every day, and I can thank God that I didn’t have it all figured out at 22.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

One year


My baby turned one today, and I just couldn't be more proud of the sweet, rambunctious, adorable little boy he's growing into, but I think I'd prefer that he stay my little baby for a bit longer. Is that too much to ask? I'm in no hurry little man... got that?!

There's really no slowing down time though, I realize. It just keeps ticking by, and Gus keeps picking up more "toddler" tricks everyday. He really truly started walking over the last few weeks, to the point that it is now his primary mode of mobility. He charges all over the house, taking no prisoners. Vacuums, puppy dogs, laundry baskets, beware. Gus doesn't go around things, he goes through them. Rather than slowing down for obstacles, he charges at them with as much gusto as he can muster. The last few mornings he's started to toddle around in his jammies with this little Precious Moments doll that we got from someone at one of my showers, very random I know, you squeeze it's tummy and a little boy's voice says our bedtime prayer. Anyway, the doll has on top of it's head this little blue night cap with a white puff ball at the end of it. Gus sticks the puff ball in his mouth and frankensteins his way throughout the house with this big ole thing just swinging back and forth, back and forth in front of his chest. His eyes and his little devilish giggles saying, "Look mom, dad! No hands!" Gosh he makes us smile.

His first word was, of course, the dog's name (clearly Dan and I spend a lot of time scolding, calling for, and just generally dealing with her and her neuroses) and he chases the poor dear throughout each room of the house, from couch to couch, hiding spot to hiding spot, "Bay-ya, Bay-ya, Bay-ya!" All dogs are "Bay-ya". He looks down for her from his high chair when he eats, especially in restaurants, when he's throwing food to the floor like a maniac yelling, "Uh-ohhh!". Of course he shares bites with her, and then sticks the little piece of food she has just taken a bite out of back into his mouth. It is all very sanitary and not at all distressing for his poor mother.

Boys and their doggies right?

So we had the big, crazy, loud, extravagant, wonderful birthday party last weekend, and today was nice and quiet. Dan went over to my brother's house to help dry-wall his basement, and Gus and I had a nice morning running a few errands with my mom, we went to the mall and he got to play in the little play area for the first time. He finally fits in with those kids there, now that he's walking. Gosh, 10 months ago when we walked that very same mall during my maternity leave, him in the moby, me with my coffee, that just seemed so far away. And now we're here. A blink of an eye, and that first year is over. My baby.

So for now I'm going to hold onto every last "baby" thing I can and cherish it and appreciate it and remind myself how fleeting time is. I will nurse my boy all night, every night, if that's what he needs. I will rock him to sleep when he's awake at 4:00 AM and try not to frett over how perpetually exhausted I am. I will hold his bottle even though he really should probably be holding his own bottle by now. I will sing nursery rhymes to him, kiss his little perfect eyelids and neck rolls, squeeze his little tummy because it will be the lean and slender abdomen of a toddler soon enough. And if I want I'll dress him in cozy striped knits and little puppy dog moccasins instead of jeans and polo shirts. Just a little longer baby boy, ok?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Awkward is...

Having to answer a random coworker man's question of what I'm "cooking up in that bag?", referring to the Medela steam clean bag that is at that moment doing its job of sanitizing my pump parts in the microwave. And then having to continue to stand there next to him for another minute in the horrible silence that followed my answer. Maybe I need to think of a better answer than the truth?

The office cleaning crew busting into my (locked) office to empty my garbage can at 4:15, at which time I am in the middle of my third and final pumping session of the day. My light is on. The radio is on. A "Do Not Disturb!" sign is posted on my door. Apparently, these are all invitations to unlock my door and barge in! I have since taken to putting my garbage can outside my door during that third session. And a few times I have taped a sign to the actual door knob that says "NURSING MOTHER, PUMPING IN PROGRESS". I'd prefer to be a little more discreet about it, but it's better than jumping out of my chair, crouching behind my desk, and screaming, "PLEASE DON'T COME IN HERE!" as I realize too late that, yes, they are in fact unlocking and opening MY door, holy crap, holy crap, holy crap!

Realizing after having a thirty minute conversation with my boss in my office that I forgot to tuck away the tubing and zip up my pump bag sitting on the corner of my desk .

Ahhhhhh. The joys of pumping at work. Loathe.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

National Night Out

We did it. We actually went to our neighborhood’s block party this year. We always promised ourselves that once we had kids, we would get out of the house on National Night Out, we would make small talk, we would endure the heat, we would (gasp!) introduce ourselves to the neighbors.

Six and a half years. That’s how long we’ve lived in this house. But we’re introverts, homebodies, both of us terrified of awkward meet-ups, so we just weren’t comfortable participating until we had a buffer. As in… a CHILD.

Yay for buffer children!

Of course everyone was SO NICE. We got a lot of, “You’ve lived here THAT long? How have we never met?” and “When did you have a baby?! I had no idea, you sure were quiet about it!” and “I saw you walking the other day with a stroller, and thought, they have a kid?”

So yeah, all in all, it was a very lovely night. I’m glad we went. Gus seriously hammed it up for all the strangers. It was going on 8:00 PM, definitely pushing his bedtime, and he started manic laughing at everything this one man did, you know that hyper, uncontrollable laugh that almost sounds like it could turn into a sob any moment? His whole face would get flushed, his mouth wide open resembling a muppet, and he just would not stop. He had us all in our own fits of laughter, his joy contagious. What a lovely buffer he is, I love him so much.

I met a mom that lives down the street whose youngest is only about 4 months older than Gus. And Emily across the street has a son less than 3 months older. And I have so much in common with both women, parenting style wise, that it is just ridiculous that I haven’t made more of an effort to meet people before now. Already, within 10 minutes of meeting each other, the mom down the street and I were talking about the fact that our babies are in NO WAY sleeping through the night, which turned to talk of co-sleeping and extended nursing. Hearing about how her first child was a champion sleeper, sleeping through the night, in her crib, from the time she was 8 weeks old, and that now she has this 16 month-old that is so far on the other spectrum… I don’t know why that was so comforting to me, but Lord knows it was. Immensely. Then 30 minutes later I find myself in a conversation with Emily about having breastfed babies that haven’t necessarily followed the pattern for weight gain illustrated by the standard growth charts doctors and, consequently, parents place waaaay too much importance on (in my opinion, more on this topic here if you’re interested). It’s all stuff that I have stressed about, all stuff that at some point over the last year I have felt really alone in, sometimes even shameful or embarrassed of, and goodness, there are two ladies within walking distance of my home that I might have turned to if only I would have gone a little outside my comfort zone earlier. I’m such a dunce. ;)

In other news, I have lost my camera, and it is eating me up inside. It had pictures from Lisa’s bachelorette party, pictures of Gus and the cake Dan made me for my birthday (so sweet!), and who knows what else. I am so sad, and still trying to hold out hope that I find it. The last time I remember using it was at the park last Friday morning, I’ve called the local city hall, twice, and the local police department. Nada. I feel like I live in the sort of town where if someone found something like that at a playground they would turn it in. I really truly believe that, so I am hoping that means it’s somewhere insane inside my house, and not somewhere like, the trash. I’m hoping that I put it “away” somewhere ridiculous, like in the laundry basket or in Dan’s softball bag, when I was cleaning last Saturday. Ugh. It’s not even about the camera, it’s a simple point and shoot, can be replaced for probably about $200. I’m torn up about the pictures on there. Ugh. I am so sorry Lisa, worst bridesmaid EVER.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hair cut!

Here we are... I decided to get a few side-swept bangs, and he cut off a TON of broken ends. Lovely, honestly it feels like I lost 5 pounds, as strange as that sounds. However, I think maybe I inadvertently got a mom cut. Definitely borderline. Oh well, it was somewhat inevitable right?

Sorry about the b*t$h face. I should have smiled for the picture, it's not like I was having a bad day! Gus was in the middle of a glorious 2 hour nap, and I was all dressed in my very best beach-wear and ready to go meet my mother and sister-in-law and the kids at the pool. And I had time to do my hair, which was a bit of a miracle.

Also, please pretend you don't see the piles of laundry on the bed and the baby boy fingerprints all over the mirror. Okay? Our house is not what you would call tidy these days. Or ever. ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Better

It’s amazing what a good night of sleep and a whole hour to myself in the morning can do for me. I feel like I’m walking on air today. I am confident, energetic, and ready to take on the world. A total 180 from last week when I last posted. I felt frazzled and ho-hum. Today I feel beautiful and fresh, and just… happy.

Gus slept like an angel between us last night. He woke up just before midnight and I brought him into bed with us. I nursed him, snuggled him, and fell asleep breathing in his wonderful scent. And instead of tossing and turning, crying out in his sleep every thirty minutes, frantically rooting for me to nurse all throughout the night, he just slept. I’m sure he woke up a number of times to nurse, but it was peaceful, we were in our own little rhythm, and we were both able to get a good night’s sleep. And when I woke up at a quarter to six this morning to this little cherub still peacefully sleeping beside me, I thanked both him and God for what a gift it was to have a good night’s sleep. I’ve been racking my brain all morning trying to figure out what was different about last night, or yesterday, that he would have slept so well, but there’s nothing. So I’m not going to overanalyze, I’m just going to be thankful. (And hopeful… that those four top teeth he’s been working on for what feels like forever are finally completely through and done causing my baby so much pain... and that we have many more nights like the last ahead of us.)

The other reason why today is awesome? It’s Thursday, which means Dan leaves to bring Gus to my mother-in-law’s around 6:15, so I have the house, shower, bathroom ALL TO MYSELF. This morning was wonderful. There was no child fussing in the pack-n-play while I tried to shower and wash my hair as quickly as is humanly possible. Gus wasn’t tugging on my robe, climbing on my legs, or reaching into the toilet as I tried to apply makeup and style my hair. (I’m not sure you can call brushing and scrunching up my wet hair, which is what I tend to have time for when Gus is around, a “style” but we’ll pretend.) Anyway, this morning was lovely. I blow-dried and straightened my hair, used eyeliner, AND picked out a cute outfit.

Seriously, isn’t this outfit adorable? (Sorry, forgot to take off my ID badge for the pic...)

Tomorrow I am getting my hair cut. Woot! I have decided on some side-swept bangs, and will definitely try to post a picture if I think of it.

Also, the exercise thing is going pretty well, I went for a long walk on Monday morning with Gus, and I did a 3 mile run on the treadmill Tuesday night. If I can get in another run tonight, I’ll be meeting the goal I set last week.

And now the mommy guilt has set in, and I feel really vain and superficial having written about all this. Because compared to the other stuff going on in our life, like the fact that Gus has started to stand on his own and his first steps seem imminent, or that my Tuesday day-care lady is moving to Wisconsin and can no longer watch Gus as of August 3rd, talking about my hair and outfit, and exercise, seems just so… trivial.

Stupid mommy guilt. ;)

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fessing up

I feel like it’s time for me to own up to something. I have not been taking care of myself. Gus is ten months old, and for the past, oh, ten months or so, I have really just put myself on the back-burner. Everything has been for him. I shop for Gus. I take pictures of Gus. I read parenting magazines and baby blogs, books about vaccines and infant sleep, articles about baby wearing and attachment parenting. I seek out new healthy foods to feed him. I look for new places around the cities to bring him to. It’s just all about my baby, all the time.

When I’m out with friends or having a conversation with a coworker, I find myself going on and on about baby-related stuff. I have a hard time coming up with topics to talk about that don’t have to do with Gus or baby stuff. And while that’s ok some of the time, even most of the time, it’s not ok ALL of the time. I mean to say, I am a mom, and that is pretty much the most important, most defining aspect of my life right now. I’m cool with that. But it can’t be at the expense of everything else that used to define me. I’m still the wife of a husband who makes her laugh every single day. I still love vintage-inspired fashion, funky accessories, movies, television, red wine, ethnic food, talk radio, CNN, travelling. I love exercising. I love reading good books that aren’t written by parenting “experts”. There’s room in my life for the mom stuff and the “me” stuff. I just need to make room for it.

I need to do a better job about taking care of “me”. I’ve been neglectful, and I think it’s the reason why I’m feeling so frazzled. It sounds a little superficial, but how I look on the outside and feeling good about myself really does affect my daily outlook, my mental health. I haven’t had my hair cut or colored since Gus was maybe four months old. My hair is dry and cracked at the ends, I have little fuzzy two-inch long sprouts sticking up everywhere as a result of that whole post-partum hair loss thing. I have no idea what to do with my hair and how to deal with the re-growth. Simply put, it’s a mess, and it doesn’t help that I don’t have a lot of time to style it anymore. Half of the time I come into work or leave the house with scrunched up wavy wet hair. And it’s in a messy bun or a braid by noon. Gross. And it’s this hideous dishwater shade of blonde. My hair is just gross.

So yeah, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I need to see a stylist. I need to get the color freshened up with some highlights… or something. I don’t even know. I need to get a cut that is an actual hair-style, instead of just this grown out mess of a mop I’ve got. I’m considering long side-swept bangs again, but worry about the maintenance. I’m considering a short bob, but flash back to the near instant regret I have felt every time I’ve cut my hair short.

It’s not just the hair, I’ve pretty much let myself go in every aspect of my physical well-being. I have just become lazy about all of it, I’ve let everyday life sort of wear me down. I’ve got these haphazard caterpillar eyebrows that just drive me crazy every time I look in the mirror. It’s almost too overwhelming to consider tweezing at this point… I need a brow wax. I need to start working out again, my pants are feeling uncomfortable these days. I figure if I can continue to go for walks in the morning a few times a week with Gus, and can add just 30 minutes on the treadmill after he’s gone to bed a couple nights a week, I’d feel so much better. But I’ve been telling myself that for months. Last night was the first night I got on the treadmill since Gus was about 6 weeks old and I decided to start running again and it lasted about one week. Anyway, I need to make a commitment to exercise.

I also REALLY need to start eating better. What started out with a breastfeeding mentality that allowed “splurging” on desserts and junk food a little more often and being a little more generous with my portions has snowballed into overindulging every day and snacking constantly. I can’t keep using breastfeeding as an excuse to eat like crap. Gus is starting to nurse a lot less throughout the day, and I think that’s why I’m starting to feel uncomfortable in my clothes. I’m still eating like I’m burning 600 calories a day, and I’m pretty positive that is not the case. The last time I weighed myself I was down about 7 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight, and that was all due to breastfeeding. I’m pretty sure I’m no longer at that same weight.

Finally, getting dressed everyday has become a chore because my dresser and closet are so unorganized. There are so many articles of clothing that I never wear, and probably won’t ever wear, but I don’t get rid of them. And then on the other hand I’m still finding random clothing that I completely forgot about because I was pregnant last summer. The biggest problem is that I have been living out of laundry baskets for literally months now. I finally put away my laundry last week as I was trying to pack for the cabin, and it took me nearly an hour. I let the stacks of folded laundry just pile up in the basement, and the idea of putting it away became so overwhelming, I was either wearing the same stuff every other day or pulling out things that I hated from my closet because I couldn’t find anything amongst the piles of wrinkly laundry.

So this is me making myself accountable. I’m making a list. A doable list. A short list. Here’s the list. ;)

1. Make a hair/brow wax appointment. Before leaving said appointment, make another appointment for two months later.
2. Put laundry away after each load. This will take 5 minutes. Putting it off makes the task seem insurmountable. Do it NOW!
3. Hit the treadmill at least twice a week. Don’t get overwhelmed, this should only require a few hours, each week. You can find a few hours, don’t make excuses. If you have time for time-suckage television like House Hunters or Real Housewives of NJ, you have time to work out.
4. Stop buying so many unhealthy snacks, get them out of the house. Grocery shop once a week and make sure there is fresh fruit for snacking and fresh produce for healthy meals in the refrigerator.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Summer

I love the workdays leading up to a holiday. My office is a ghost town. Those of my coworkers that are here are in fantastic moods, planning for the upcoming long weekend, taking long lunches, lingering a little bit longer in the halls to visit and laugh. I don’t know why I like it so much. Maybe it reminds me of the last day of school before Christmas break, or a Thursday during finals week in college. The stress of everyday life has dissipated a little bit, and as colleagues or classmates or whatever you are, you’re all sort of banded together in your feelings of relief and anticipation. A collective “Phew!” if you will.

These past few weeks have been busy. To say the least. I suppose nothing even out of the ordinary has been taking up our time, it’s really been just the regular hustle and bustle of summer. Softball games, baby showers, parades, birthdays, barbeques, graduation parties. Good stuff really. Just busy.

Gus is enjoying the heck out of his first summer outside the belly. We spend as much time outside as possible, and even when he’s at “daycare” he’s having the full summer experience. Last week he played with the kids outside at Annie’s in the slip ‘n’ slide and sprinkler. Yesterday he had a blast splashing and kicking at the neighborhood kiddies’ pool with his grandma. (And wouldn’t you know, his other grandma showed up as well with a bunch of his aunts and uncles. And then so did Annie with her two kids… such a blessing living in a part of the city where it feels so much like a small town!) Monday he went to the park and had a little picnic with his future buddy Lincoln.

We go for long walks before his morning nap every day that I have off work. On Mondays and Fridays it’s just the two of us, but on weekends Daddy gets to come along. Gus is so fun, he watches intently when busses or garbage trucks go by, charms the elderly gentlemen who are regulars at the local McDonalds where I stop for iced coffee, kicks his chunky legs and grabs his little toes as we zip around the neighborhood and try to keep his big doggy sister Bella under control. On those walks, motherhood feels just exactly like how I always imagined it.

People spend so much time talking about the horrors of parenthood, they talk about how difficult it is, how you’re a sleep-deprived zombie for much of the first year, how a simple trip to Target and the grocery store can take so much planning and orchestrating. They talk about being frustrated with your body even ten months after giving birth. They say teething SUCKS, and mealtime involves you shoveling food into your mouth as quickly as possible, likely while standing at the kitchen counter. And yeah, that stuff is all SO TRUE. Somedays you find yourself saying to yourself, "Seriously? This is my life?" But gosh, all that stuff you dreamt about when you were big and pregnant, you know… rocking your baby to sleep in a moonlit nursery, reading a storybook together and pausing for the little guy to turn the pages with his fat little sausage fingers, eliciting squeals of pure joy as you push him on the swing at the park, and yeah… going for long walks together on beautiful, peaceful Minnesota summer mornings. All of that stuff is real too. And it’s so darn wonderful.

So yes, we’re enjoying our summer around here. We’re heading off to the cabin tomorrow for the 4th, and I’m excited for life to slow down a bit once we’re up there. Of course getting there, the packing, the shopping, the organizing, the laundry, that’s all definitely exhausting and stressful. But once we get there….

Yes, I can’t wait to get there and just… be. I’m so excited.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Baby Proofing

Gus took quite the digger this week, and it was TRAUMATIZING… for his mom that is. He seemed to have forgotten the incident entirely after about fifteen minutes had passed.

Ugh, he is just freaking insane, he’s so fast, pulls himself up on everything. He is not happy unless he is standing, and he prefers that whatever he is holding on to while standing be super tippy and dangerous. When we’re in the basement we have to block the stairs with baskets and toys so he can’t climb them. Because he can climb them like a champ, like seriously he’ll do the whole set of stairs in a matter of minutes, but he doesn’t realize that we would prefer not to be standing behind him all day long as he climbs them.

So we block them, and he does everything within his abilities to plow through our carefully constructed barricade. He gets himself wedged between the wall and the toy basket. He climbs ON TOP of one of those plastic stand-up toy table things to get to the stairs. This kid is seriously crazed.

He has this little yellow piano on which he feels it is necessary to perch precariously while digging in a big plastic bin of train stuff. Or he’ll stand on it like it’s a surf board as he’s pulling himself up on the couch.

Crazed I tell you.

Anyway, so the traumatizing incident…

It was around 12:30 on Monday afternoon, Gus and I had just had lunch and I decided to put in the Glee soundtrack and have a little dance party. He had loved watching Glee with me earlier, dancing up a storm being super adorable, so I thought, what a perfect antidote for the dreary, rainy, boring day we were having. DANCE PARTY! He was playing on the floor by the dining room table, messing with the rug, doing his thing, literally a yard away from me. I opened the disk drive on my laptop and all of a sudden, “BOOM! CRASH!” and then there was the horrible screaming. I look over and he’s underneath the dining room chair. I pick it up off of him and scoop him up and there is just blood everywhere, streaming out of his mouth. And he’s just screaming and it’s just the most horrible screaming I’ve ever heard. I FREAKED OUT. I will not lie. My baby was bleeding. The first thing I thought was, “What do I do, who do I call?”

Then I realized that I would have to be the mom here and handle it myself. I put a wet towel on his mouth and eventually it stopped bleeding, and his screams turned to whimpering, and my panic turned to sobbing and apologizing to my sweet little boy.

His upper lip started to swell, to the size of a grape, and to combat the swelling I got the bright idea to put a bag of frozen corn on it.

Bad idea.

That just made him angry, he’s swatting at me, furious, and somehow I lost my grip on the bag of corn and it went flying, and there was frozen corn all over the living room. Awesome.

Anyway, we’re pretty sure he bit his lip, there are a bunch of cuts on both the inside and outside of his top lip. The swelling has since gone down, but it hasn’t been an easy couple of days. That first day it would start bleeding again every time he stuck a toy in his mouth, or when he chewed on the edge of the pack-n-play, or when he rammed his face into his dad’s arm. Dan gave him dinner that night, and he’d throw a fit with every other piece of food he put in his mouth. Oh, and he’s got a big egg-shaped bump on his forehead where the chair must have hit him.

My poor baby.

And it is SO my fault. I knew those dining room chairs are tippy, and yet I let him stand up on them all the time. Ugh. I don’t know how to be more careful, how to watch him more closely. Already I feel like all I’m ever doing is running interference between him and the dog. Or I’m swiping him away from the car seat that he likes to try to climb on and into. Or I’m quickly running to close doors or scoop him up when he’s doing something dangerous. I want him to be able to explore and learn, but I swear it is a non-stop full time job keeping his environment safe for exploring. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to predict what might prove to be a hazard.

So yeah, I think I said this to my mother-in-law the other day, but this whole parenting thing isn’t going to just magically get easier is it? Certain things might get easier, but by then you’re facing yet another new challenge. Funny, baby proofing is the one thing I never ever really stressed about. I remember when we registered that it just seemed so far in the future that I couldn’t even comprehend the necessity. Funny. Ha ha. =(

Monday, May 17, 2010

These days

I can’t say it enough, I am so lucky to be able to work part-time, and spend my Mondays and Fridays at home with my little boy. He is such a joy, and I am so thankful that I can spend two full days every week, just the two of us, soaking up his sweetness, relishing in his giggles, planting kisses on his squishy neck.

Today was just lovely. Gus woke up so happy and rambunctious, he’s into everything and going everywhere these days, which is truly fun to be a part of. He’s pulling himself up, going after the dog dishes with gusto, challenging me to races to electrical cords all over the house. And he is constantly laughing! It’s so funny, I’ll be in the kitchen pouring a bowl of cereal, and I hear him out in the living room playing with his toys, babbling to himself, laughing like someone just told him the best joke.


He sees poor, tortured Bella, sprawled on the floor across the room, and he is off like a jet, maniacally giggling until he’s just about there and she finally gets up and scoots out of the way. She’s learning. She doesn’t like having fistfuls of fur ripped out of her butt, but she still tolerates him. She’s a good dog.

Oh, but there are perks to having this little munchkin take over our lives, and Bella has caught on quickly to those perks as well. Now that he’s eating table foods, she’s his best friend at mealtime. So predictable. I will just say, I’m thankful that we have a dog. Without her our floors would be even more disgusting than they already are. Tonight Gus and Bella had the same dinner as Dan and I, marinara sauce with sautéed onions and green, red, and yellow peppers over cheese tortellini. It was a mess, but a hit all around.



After lunch this afternoon Gus and I went outside for about an hour and a half and enjoyed this gorgeous weather we’ve been blessed with the last few days. He watched me water the flowers from a blanket in the grass, and amazingly did not take off after the hose. I saw him think about it a number of times, but for some reason he gave me a break. ;) Afterwards we lay on the blanket under the tree in our front yard, read books, played with toys, he climbed all over me while I tried to drink a Diet Coke and look through a catalog. He charmed the elderly neighbors with his cheesy grins. A perfect day.

Today was great. I’m thankful.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Weekend

Spring. It’s here, and I’m not exaggerating when I say it has made everything better. The windows are open and we have a breeze going through the house. I can hear the sounds of life being lived outside, roaring motorcycles going by, children playing in the street, birds chirping. The elderly man next door has a pile of “free” stuff on his front lawn, and he wanders back and forth from the house, all morning long, adding things, removing things, glancing over his little table. Picking. He’s such a putzer, and I sort of get a kick out of watching him in action. Dan just thinks he’s bat-shit crazy, but I think you have the right to be sort of insane once you get to your late 80’s.

Gus is napping. Last night was one of those nights where he essentially wanted my boob in his mouth the whole night. I didn’t get a great night’s sleep, but it wasn’t terrible, and knowing we didn’t have to be up for anything in the morning always makes those rough nights more tolerable. 6:50 AM though, was way too early for him to be rolling around on the bed and giggling at me. We stayed in bed for about as long as he would allow it, but there’s only so long he can entertain himself with a book and a stuffed animal. Dan finally got up to change his diaper, and I burrowed under the covers for just a few more minutes, the bed all to myself, it felt glorious.

Next thing I know its 8:30, and Dan is throwing my baby boy on the bed with me. “He’s ready for a nap already.” Deliriously I sat up and snuggled him into me, nursed him, and in no time he was fast asleep. What a little angel. But can I ask, angel, why must you get up so early only to be ready for a nap less than two hours later? This I do not understand.

Dan seemed a little salty when I came down, neither of us wanted to get out of bed this morning, but he did it, and he let me sleep. He’s a good man, a good father and husband, I am lucky.

Yesterday was just a lovely day. Gus and I played hard all morning, he’s moving around so much these days, and it’s so much fun watching your baby learn. He’s started to master the sitting to tummy maneuver, and vice-versa. So darn close to crawling, he gets up on his toes, sticks his little bum in the air, and rocks back and forth. He’s had to endure a number of bonks on the head, nose-dives into bright plastic toys, but he’s figuring it out. I watch him now, every move done ever-so-slowly because he is already learning from his mistakes. What a smart little boy. Babies are amazing.

In the afternoon we had lunch with one of my best friends, and went walking around the sculpture garden in Minneapolis, throughout Loring Park. It was perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a better day, catching up with a friend, enjoying our city, taking in the spring air and sunshine. Last night we went to Dan’s grandma’s house for her birthday, a delicious grill out, lots of family, girl-talk with my sisters-in-law, even Gus had a blast and he was up WELL past his bedtime. Again, perfect.

Better go get ready for the day, get out of this bathrobe. It’s Saturday and there are errands to run, another family get-together tonight. Hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weekend as much as I am!

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Wolf is Back

Last night was really rough, like testing my motherhood rough. We think Gus is teething. We thought he was two months ago, but alas, no teeth, so while I feel like I’m crying wolf every time I say it, if it’s not teeth, WHAT IS GOING ON little boy?! He was up fussing and crying like half the night, and that is not an exaggeration. He went to bed SO GOOD at around 8:00, and per usual, woke up to be fed around 10:30 when we were heading to bed. He fell asleep nursing, I plopped him in his crib, and then not 3 minutes later he was awake and screaming. So I went in, rubbed his tummy, tried to console him, and not until after I picked him up and rocked him for a few minutes did he fall asleep. So I put him in his crib again, and he’s awake immediately. Wash, rinse, repeat. I’ve been trying to help him learn to put himself to sleep, so I tried that. I sat on the floor of his room while he fussed, squirmed, and pulled out his pacifier, and when it turned to screaming after 30 minutes, I finally just picked him up again and tried to console him. He wanted none of that. He also wanted none of the boob. He was ok snuggling in bed with Dan and me for a bit, but then was pissed again. I don’t know when he finally agreed to just take the boob already, but he did, and he calmed down. Then I gave him some Tylenol, swaddled him up, bounced him around until he was asleep, and put him in his crib. He slept for a whole hour and a half, and I think that was the longest stretch of sleep I got the entire night.

The rest of the night was more of the same. By around 5:00 AM he was seemingly ready to be up for the day, refused nursing, and screamed until I put him in his crib and turned on the dream screen, which kept him happy for 10 minutes. Dan got up for work at 5:20, just in time to bring me my sad little baby. We just sat awake in bed for about 40 minutes, he played a little, fussed a lot. I got him a cold rag to suck on, he pretty much threw it back at me. Dan came up to kiss us goodbye at about 6:00, and found me with bleary eyes, spirit broken, holding my son, desperately wandering around his room trying to get him to go to sleep. And I just broke down sobbing. I can’t describe it, but being that tired, that frustrated, that early in the morning, something just came over me. I felt hopeless, alone, and also just so sad that my baby was clearly so unhappy, and there was seemingly nothing I could do about it.

Needless to say, Dan took Gus and got him to sleep, and went off to work about 20 minutes later than usual. And I got 2 glorious hours of sleep, in bed, alone. Those two hours and the coffee I had when I woke up are the only reasons I am able to function this morning.

Tomorrow I have to work, so if we are in for another night like the last, (which I am totally anticipating because if he is in fact teething I’ve heard it’s usually 3 or 4 similar nights before that tooth finally pushes through), then Dan and I are switching off. The other alternative ends with me spontaneously combusting.

So anyone have any good, natural (is that asking too much?) teething remedies, or is the best advice to just stick it out?

Friday, March 26, 2010

All I have time or energy for...

...are little tidbits, but I feel like writing. So here goes.

This morning I woke up at 8:00 AM (about an hour later than Gus usually lets me sleep) to my baby grabbing at my nose, grinning at me with dried milk all over his face from our sleepy night-nursings. Is there any better way to wake up? I live for mornings like those.

Dan and I procrastinated on doing our taxes, and now we can't find Gus's social security card ANYWHERE. I have absolutely no clue where we put it. Honestly though, can we be blamed for anything we did in those first few weeks with a newborn? It's all so hazy... I remember getting it in the mail, rejoicing over Gus's ability to now get a job and pay taxes, and then... like I said, hazy. Ugh. I'm not quite sure what to do.

Speaking of the little guy, he is driving me a bit crazy today. Fighting naps like it's his job. I got a very fussy baby down about 20 minutes ago, and now I can hear him on the monitor, cooing at the cieling, shrieking with delight at God know's what, and kicking the little hanging thing on the dream screen to make it light up and play music. Seriously, that's all you need child? 20 minutes? Yea, I don't think so.

Ok, the cooing has turned to crying. Gotta go. This is a sad excuse for a post, should I even hit publish?