Monday, February 27, 2012

pinterest

Okay, I've joined Pinterest and have started to set up my boards. I love the concept, but here's my question: how much of what I pin will I actually make use of? Or is that not the point?

It is fun to browse, though. And dream.

Friday, February 24, 2012

eight weeks in

Believe it or not, I've been back at work for eight weeks already. Today, Mason finishes his fifth week at daycare.

The mornings are a flurry of busyness, trying to get everyone up and ready and out the door. We all go our separate ways and run, run, run at our respective jobs all day. (Assuming we stay there all day. Mason's already been sent home early from his job twice for sicknesses: cough/congestion and eye discharge that turned out to be a symptom of a double ear infection. And wouldn't you know it that both times he was sent home fell on Thursdays, my teaching day? Ugh!) I pick up Mason in the evenings and deal with Mr. Grumpy (because he hasn't slept much) for an hour or so before starting the night-night routine. Brad, if he's lucky, races in just in time to kiss Mason goodnight. Brad and I stumble wearily downstairs, clean dirty bottles, assemble clean bottles, make bottles for the next day, and deal with expressed breast milk. If we're lucky, we shovel in some dinner, unload and load the dishwasher, make our own lunches for the next day, fall into bed, and get up to do it all over again.

I am exhausted. But, I know that if I stayed home with Mason all day every day, I'd feel just as weary. Having a young child equals fatigue--there's no way around it.    

My semester is in full swing. My days are busy and under former circumstances, they would be flying by. But, they drag on because my mind and heart are elsewhere. I miss my baby. Being separated from him nine or more hours a day and only seeing him awake (and if it's in the evenings, he's tired and fussy) for an hour or two is tough. Somehow, I thought that I would miss him less as time went on, but that hasn't happened. Brad and I try to make the most of our weekend time with Mason because we hardly see him during the week.

Juggling my job, marriage, and family is a lesson in humility for this former perfectionist. I used to think I had it all (mostly) together. Now, I feel like I'm not doing anything well. I go through the motions, but have moments when I feel seriously inadequate as a mother, wife, friend, and employee. Mommy guilt constantly lurks over my shoulder. Brad and I are sometimes like two ships crossing in the night because we are so busy and exhausted. I love my friends, but please tell me, how do I fit them in? I used to care deeply about my work. Now, for the moment at least, it is a necessary evil.

Imperfect is my new perfect, at least for this season.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

my breast friend

Deep thoughts during my new past time:
  1. When Mason looks at me, he must see a juicy steak and a loaded baked potato.
  2. Drat! When will I learn to pay more attention? (while frantically trying to shut off the pump as one of the little snappie bottles overflows onto my pants, chair, desk, floor, you name it.)
  3. How much liquid gold did I just waste? (while frantically wiping)
  4. Will my files/office chair/desk calendar/you name it smell like sour milk forever? (still wiping)
  5. I love this, but it doesn't help my attention problem. (See deep thought #2.)
  6. Did I remember to close the blinds on my office window? Do I dare turn around to check?
  7. Did I remember to hang the do-not-disturb sign on my office door?
  8. Does so and so know what I'm doing while writing this email?
  9. Why does the UPS guy show up with a package for me while I'm pumping? Does he know what I'm in the middle of? Ew.
  10. Why does it take longer to set up and clean up than to actually pump?
  11. How can I avoid running into my boss in the community kitchen while I'm sterilizing my breast shields?
  12. Now I understand how a dairy cow feels.

Friday, February 17, 2012

winter blooms

My summer annuals don't understand that it's winter.





Shhhh. Please don't tell them.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

nap woes

Mason, ages ago
Calling all experienced mamas! I need some help.

Important background info:
  • From his early days, Mason took to an eating-playing-sleeping schedule.
  • He has always been a good sleeper, at night and during the day. 
  • At his two-month appointment, Mason's pediatrician said that he was sleeping a little more than the average baby his age.
  • Prior to teething, it took no more than five minutes to get him down for a nap, and he would sleep for around 90 minutes without much fussing.
  • Once teething kicked in (right before Christmas), getting him down became a little more difficult (it took maybe 10 minutes instead of five) and he would fuss during naps and require soothing.
  • We have had some issues with the 45-minute intruder, but Mason can normally soothe himself or be soothed back to sleep.
  • When the grandparents watched Mason for three weeks before he began daycare, they kept him on his schedule without too many problems. He fussed during most naps, but he still slept a decent amount.
  • Mason's first two teeth have come through in the past two weeks.
  • We went cold turkey and weaned him from the swaddle a week ago. He's done great!
The current situation:
  •  Mason's been in daycare for three weeks now, and he's not sleeping there. The first two days, he didn't sleep AT ALL, which he had never done in his life. He was an absolute wreck by the time I got him home, begging for night night at 5 PM.
  • The daycare is in a typical Capitol Hill rowhouse that's been gutted, so everything's in one large room. There's not a separate nap room. The teachers claim that they dim the lights for naptime.
  • Mason's daily log shows that most often, he sleeps for 10-20 minutes at a time, sporadically throughout the day. There have been a few rare occasions where he's slept for an hour.
  • I asked one teacher how well the other babies sleep there. She said, "No one sleeps here, at least not more than 20 minutes at a time."
  • I have talked to his teachers about his lack of sleep several times. I have given them tips. I have made requests. I have communicated my expectations that he needs to get at least two good naps in during the day. And by "good", I mean over an hour. They smile and nod and say "Okay", but when I pick him up and find that, again, he's slept little, they try to tell me that he's just not tired and he likes to play all day.
  • The center just opened and is not at capacity yet, so Mason has plenty of attention. The ratio of caregivers to babies right now is nearly 1:1. I don't believe he's neglected, or that they're too busy for one of them to spend some time trying to get him down for a nap.
  • I also don't believe that he's "not tired". Clearly, when I pick him up at night, he is exhausted. On the weekends, he acts tired at his normal naptimes.
  • He still naps well for us at home on the weekends (except the weekend we went cold turkey and took the swaddle away, but we've recovered from that now).
My questions:
  • It's been three weeks. Do I just need to be patient and hope that this will work itself out?
  • Are my expectations that he gets at least two good naps at daycare unrealistic or unreasonable?
  • What, if anything, can I do about his not sleeping there?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

birthday rain check

Three years ago, Brad and I demanded a rain check for Christmas--we missed it because the stomach bug invaded our home.

Sadly, the same thing happened on my 38th birthday. I woke up feeling nauseated and spent the rest of the day wearing a path between my bed and the toilet. No family outing to Eastern Market for breakfast. No cards and cake. No time with my two sweet boys. No Palena. Instead, Brad spent the day caring for Mason while I laid in bed, miserable, feeling sorry for myself and missing them both.

The good thing is that a birthday is only a day. I still turned another year older. And today, I feel much better and am thankful for generally good health. Lord willing, the three of us will go to Eastern Market for breakfast next weekend, and Brad and I will dine at Palena in a month, or whenever we can get another reservation. We will eat my birthday cake today, and Mason will give me his little present. This year, today will be my birthday. That's right!

Now I'm praying that I don't regift my lovely birthday present of the stomach virus to my two sweeties (or anyone else).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

costco

Gentle Readers, please educate me on Costco. I've never stepped foot in one. Are the savings worth braving the craziness that everyone complains about? What are the best deals or the must-buys at Costco?

Big stores like that tend to overwhelm me, which is why I avoid them.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

more writing

Because I need another commitment in my life, I have a new occasional gig: writing for one of my neighborhood's blogs.

Check out my first post!

Monday, February 6, 2012

hard, yet so precious

Brad and I are just over four months into parenthood and our revelation is this: it's hard.

I think the reasons parenthood is challenging differ by family and situation. But, can we all concur that it's outrageously difficult at times?

Lately, Brad and I have been talking more and more about the stresses associated with this season. Not that we're no longer joyful--of course we are and we praise God for his gift of Mason every day. But four months in, we find ourselves at a junction: our new normal, which still doesn't feel completely normal, and remembering clearly the time, freedom, and resources we had before Mason arrived. It's an interesting place to be. There's obviously only one way forward, and in some ways, that path will eventually lead us back to the things we're missing right now.

One day, my house will be quiet and clean again, and I will have all the time in the world to read, write, cook, garden, and run. Brad and I will have the flexibility and the finances to go out on a whim or just to stay home and hang out without interruptions. We'll have more time just for us. My yard will return to its pristine, perpetually blooming state. But when that day arrives, the house will seem tomb-like and my yard will look fake because it's so perfect. Brad and I will have hit all the restaurants and movies we ever wanted to and I will be too old to run. Instead, I will long for these days of coos, smiles, and cuddles, even if they're peppered with fussing, teething, and tantrums. I will miss caring about and for my baby's every need. Lord willing, Mason will grow into an independent, responsible adult. But, he'll always be my baby.

Yes, this season of new parenthood is difficult, but it's also fleeting. Even the hardest days are precious. As a working mama with what feels like no time with my baby, I understand that more than ever now.

Friday, February 3, 2012

blog recs?

Thanks to those who recommended I check out Once a Month Mom. I love this site!

I'm now encouraged to clean out and freshen up my Google Reader account. Specifically, I am looking for well-written blogs that focus on the following topics: parenting, living simply, gardening, and couponing. I've discovered some great blogs from friends' recommendations--please share your favorites!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

the cheapskate within

I grew up with a frugal mama who taught my siblings and me to carefully unwrap presents so that she could reuse the gift wrap. And yes, I'm talking about wrapping paper and not just gift bags. (Who doesn't reuse a gift bag or two?) Whether you're a spender or a saver, we all have things we're cheap about.

Although I'm not a savvy grocery shopper, wasting food bothers me to the core. I schedule "clean out the fridge" nights on our weekly menus and make entire meals out of the dabs of things I find there. I find uses for spoiling milk, dwindling produce, and stale bread. I grow my own lettuce--I love picking just the amount I need for a particular meal and not wasting greens that wilt before we can eat them. My new freezer feeds my inner cheapskate when it comes to avoiding and eliminating food waste.

Now that I'm looking to cut corners in new and creative ways, I'd love to hear your ideas. What are you downright cheap about?