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New Digs!

Hey! Jen made me a shiny, purdy new blog – you should go check it out!

My new link is:  http://emilyshollow.com, so, you know, if you need to update links, that’s that.

Degree of Difficulty

I am no longer sure of the context of this (Twitter conversation? Chat with a friend? A dream?), but I was thinking about the different forms of parenting I’ve done in the past 3.5 years.

  • Full time SAHM. For Xander’s first year (plus a few months), I was a home with him with no other job.  At around 6(ish) months I found a mom’s group to join and that really helped me to feel less lonely and floundering as a new parent. I think this would be one of my biggest pieces of advice to a soon to be mom (or dad) – find a group. Any group. It’s less about the kids in the early years and more about you, so make it people that YOU like.
  • SAHM and part time WAHM. After we moved to Vermont I started teaching some online classes. Classes ran (run) five weeks at a time, and initially it was about 15-18 hours a week, give or take. I would do the work during nap times and after Xander went to bed. I still do this occasionally, though not as often, because now I have another job. So far, this has been the hardest version of mom-ing I’ve done. It was hard to find enough time to get the work done; I stressed about his naps and how easily he’d go to sleep (or about going into labor with Luna). It always felt like a panic to get everything done and still be the “main” parent during the day.
  • Part time WOHM. This is where I am now. I work out of the home two days a week for about 6 hours each day. As the semester picks up I’ll have more at home work to do with grading. I am really loving this scenario. I like getting out of the house and being a professional and interacting with other grownups. I like using the skills I went to college and grad school for. I even like being a little nervous, and feeling like I want to perform my best. I also like that I’m able to do it part time, and still be home with the kids on the other days.

Now, obviously, this is just my experience. There is no judgement whatsoever about what any other parent chooses to do. Love staying home or hate it, there’s nothing WRONG with any of it.  I’m fortunate to be where I am now, that I can do both. In a few years I’ll likely look for full time teaching work, and (hopefully) the work I’m doing now will put me in a good position to do so.

I should also point out that John is also a college faculty member, so he is home much more than the typical working parent/partner. So I’ve always had a lot more support and time during the day than many SAHMs. We may never be rich, but we do have a lot more time to spend together and with the family, so for us, we’re happy with the choices we’ve made.

Flu Boy

John and I were watching TV on Sunday night when we thought we heard Xander give a little cough. But he didn’t wake up and it didn’t happen again so…meh.

We heard it again a few times on Monday night, and it was most definitely a REAL cough and not a “I’ve been on too many airplanes lately” sort of cough. Then Tuesday morning he had a medium high fever. He also started having a runny nose, so I thought it must be a cold.

But he didn’t really seem like himself, so I called the doctor. By the time we went in to the office, it had been 4 hours since I’d given him any Motrin, and his fever was 105.  (The quote from this experience is “Mama, my whole Xander hurts.”)

Poor Xander!

They swabbed him for strep, and he fell over (against me, not on the floor) while we waited for the (negative) results, so I let him rest his eyes on the bench for a few minutes.

Xan Flu

He has the flu.

His fever spiked again last night (106. SIX!), and I panicked and called the ped’s office back. They blamed my thermometer and said to pay more attention to how he was acting (very sick). But, we got it back down, he went to sleep, and as of right now he is fever free.

He’s still not quite at 100%, obviously, and I’m not positive that his fever won’t come back, at least in part, tonight. But he’s a bit chattier, and asking for crackers (and cupcakes), so it’s much better than yesterday.

I feel very badly because he’s the only one of us who didn’t get the flu shot; I even made an appointment for him to get one, but he had an ear infection (or something) that day, so the doctor and I decided to scrap it until he was better and I could come in with just him (instead of him and Luna). And then in all the holiday prep I just forgot.

So take note: get your flu shots!

 

Back!

Well.

That was an adventure.

We are finally back home in VT, where it is warmer than about 80% of the country (OK, probably not 80%, but I’m not listening to your math-y talk). I’m sure it’ll go back to normal in March, when I’ll still be bitching about blizzards while everyone else is posting those “legs by the poolside” selfies.

Anyway, I’m still a bit fried. We got in late Saturday, after several cancellations and a near stranding in Detroit, and I started this semester’s classes with an 8AM this morning. All things considered, it went well. For a Monday.

Christmas was fun, my brother’s wedding was wonderful, John and I are newborn level exhausted because Luna decided that the vacation was a good time to teeth and regress and be a general (but adorable) pain in the backside non sleeping baby.

But I’m glad to be home, and I’m glad that Downton is back on, and I’m glad that our heater decided NOT to be broken, after all (that was a fun little surprise to come home to).

I hope you all had a nice Christmas/Festivus. I’m pretty excited about starting 2014. I think it’ll be a good one.

2013 Wrap Up

(I wasn’t going to post this this year, because I’m still at my parents’ house and Luna is WonderWeeking and teething and it’s hard to find quiet time to get anything done, but you know? I really like the wrap up post, so I’m going to do it in bits throughout the day. I do NOT have the slideshow, though. Sorry. But I don’t have my pictures here. You’ll get a Luna slideshow on her birthday in a month or so (OMFG), so you can wait, yes?)

Here are previous years: 2012, 2011, 2010

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

I got a new teaching job. Technically I taught last year, too but online, so I’m counting this as new. I had a girl flavor baby. I pushed the limits of sleep deprivation (more so than with Xander).

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Here are the “goals” I made last year: get back into shape post baby (combination of working out (I’m thinking pilates) and eating well), more writing and photography, more attitude adjustments as needed. I…didn’t really do any of this. See: had a baby, got a job. I would say that, yes, these are the same things I want to work on this year. I signed up to do this The Amazing Year Workbook 2014 to help me actually articulate my goals and try to set some tie to really focus on myself. I also joined a gym with a corporate discount via John’s work and conned talked a friend into joining with me for some accountability.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yes! Me! Also my other friend had a baby girl a few months after Luna was born, AND my friend back in CA had a baby girl over the summer AND lots of my Pocket Friends had babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No.

5What countries did you visit?

None.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Here is what I said last year:

This answer will be much the same as last year. I want to maintain some sense of self that isn’t tied in to being a mom. I no longer feel like “just” a mom (can we all say AMEN), but I still don’t do a lot of stuff that reflects who I am apart from my child (soon to be children). I want to hold on to that internal, creative life, no matter how small it becomes with the new responsibilities of another newborn. I want to maintain relationships with MY friends, as women, not just as parents to Xander’s friends.

This year, again, is much the same. I’ve made steps – I’m working out of the home,  I have attended some writing workshops to get back into some form of creativity, I’m working on strengthening and maintaining relationshps.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

February 2: Luna’s birth
December 27: My brother’s wedding

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Having Luna and starting the teaching job at the local college were both big achievements.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Lack of patience, again. But I am working on it, and improving (I think). I’m also not so great at being patient with MYSELF, which is something I really want to work on. On a more surface level, my house is a disgusting pigsty and man, do I need to get back to a regular cleaning routine (“back to” HAAA. Ha.).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just a bad ear infection, but nothing major.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

A few sessions with some house cleaners, hands down.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Random stuff, mostly kid related.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Having Luna, seeing my big brother get married.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

Little Talks. It’s a song I had liked, but Xander also learned how to operate iTunes and has been playing it NONSTOP for months now. It’s lost some of its bloom for me.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you: – happier or sadder? Happier.  thinner or fatter? Thinner, I mean, I’m not pregnant, but I’m also at my heaviest non-pregnant weight.  – richer or poorer? Financially poorer. (Always and forever).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Taking time to myself – reading, writing, photos. Sleeping (ha). Getting out of the house. My homebody-ness is getting stronger each year.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Less berating myself for being “good enough.”

18. How did you spend Christmas?

In AL with my parents and brothers. It’s been a mixed bag. Great to be with everyone, but the travel this year was very hard (mostly because of the kids).

19. What was your favorite TV program? Probably the same as last year: Elementary and Person of Interest. The Daily Show.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I didn’t do nearly as much reading as I’d hoped. But titles that stand out: Code Name Verity, Elanor and Park.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Anything that’s not The Wheels on the Bus.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I don’t even know what I saw this year: The Hobbit, The Hunger Games (which is funny because these are the same two movies that I saw last year.)

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 34, and we had a nice, quiet night at the house with a really, really good cake.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Again, having some sort of creative project going.

25. Redacted for Stupidity

26. What kept you sane? My family. Reading. Twitter.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.

I learned a lot about myself as a parent this year, and parenting in general. That being a mom is an ongoing process – kids change, we change, everything changes. What works today may not work tomorrow, and it’s OK to “change your mind” about how to do things.  That letting go of anger and irritation is challenging, yes, but not impossible, and so very worth it.

Advent-less

We somewhat quickly abandoned the Advent Activity Calendar.  It was proving to be a bit too much, for both me and Xander. He was getting overly excited and not having as much fun with it, and I was just getting cranky.

We’ve done some, and I’ll still break out some of the activities to do, but not in any official sort of capacity. His favorite so far was making the button craft. Though, he eschewed the idea of a button tree and opted for, as Jen put it, a Button Snowstorm. So.

IMG_0141

Other ones we’ve done with moderate success:

  • “Cookie” baking. (Really: melting kisses on pretzels and topping them with M&M’s)IMG_0137
  • Ornament making. This was a mixed review. He kind of enjoyed it, but he also got mad that we weren’t just emptying the entire bottle of paint into the ornament.IMG_0048 IMG_0050
  • New book from our Elf on the Shelf (yes, we Elf; yes, I know, you hate it). I actually did this one twice. Not wrapped. Just the elf, hanging out by a book.
  • Coloring on snow was….not a big success. It was too hard for him to hold the bottles with gloves, but too cold not to wear gloves. Also the red food coloring just looked like we murdered someone in the driveway. (WE DIDN’T, NSA, DON’T WORRY.)
  • I tried taking him to see Frozen, but that was a complete and utter disaster.
  • Tree cutting and decoratingIMG_0019 IMG_0013
  • Trainhop and meeting Santa (this was a two for, which I didn’t know – I thought we’d have to make a separate Santa trip, so I was happy.)IMG_0068 IMG_0079
  • Instead of a Christmas movie, we’ve done a few Christmas episodes of his favorite shows/shorts of movies. We may watch one when we get to my parents’ house, though.
  • Foam gingerbread houseIMG_0082

I think that’s it. I’m actually really good with deciding to “quit.” It wasn’t going to be worth it, and I didn’t want fights over something that was supposed to be fun for all of us. Someone wrote (probably Moxie, it sounds like her) to always chose the relationship with your child over the memory making activity (I’m sure I”m butchering that, but the sentiment is right). Doing the other activities when we have free time is working out well, and it also lets Xander repeat the ones he’s liked the most without me stressing out about missing that day’s assigned activity.

Christmas Babies

Now that my cards have been sent and (mostly) received, here are the pictures I ended up putting on them. (I’m sorry if I didn’t send you one, but I was terrible at keeping track of who had sent us cards and saving addresses, plus I’m cheap and only ordered, like, 25 cards. Next year I promise to do better.)

Luna christmas 13

And…

X Christmas13

Cute, aren’t they? I rather like them.

(Xander was actually harder to photograph than he usually is, because he’s in that weird 3.5 year old fake smile sort of phase.)

Gifts for the Kids

This is a blatant consumerism post, so if that bothers you, then you can go look at this instead.

Anyway, K just posted what she got her kids for Christmas, and I’m nothing if not a copycat.

Because we’re traveling for parts of the holiday, we’re doing some presents at my parents’ house and the “big” gifts will be waiting here for them when we get back.

XANDER

1. Tractor

All Xander has asked for for the past six months is a blue digger tractor. Lo and behold? Ha! Not gonna happen. I can get a pink one, apparently, but he wants blue.

Thank goodness for eBay. I was able to procure this little beauty. It’s not huge, but it’s big enough to play with (like, not a matchbox car size), and it’s blue. It came all the way from England.

Tractor Pic

2. Trampoline

His big gift from us is a mini trampoline. He’s a three year old with tons of energy, and winter here is LONG, so I really wanted something he could do that would let him be active. I got it on a flash sale sometime around Black Friday/Cyber Monday/WhateverDay.  My plan is to have it in the basement where it’s carpeted and somewhat less dangerous.

Trampoline

3. Books

I went a bit Book Overboard this year, but he’s really getting into stories and reading and I wanted to ride the wave while I can.

I got him: Not a Stick, Dragons Love Tacos, and Journey

Not a Stick pic Journey Pic Dragon Taco pic

4. How to Train your Dragon

He’s starting to really enjoy movies (I love it when he anticipates something funny and starts laughing uncontrollably minuets before the joke happens), and I really liked this one. I think he’ll dig it.

Dragon Pic

5. Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game

Because it was on Zulily.

Squirrel Game pic

6. Craft Supplies

Xander loves doing “projects” and especially projects that involve gluing weird stuff onto other stuff. This was also on Zulily. It’s actually much bigger than I expected it to be, so this will be waiting for him at home along with the trampoline (note: don’t shorten to “tramp” when referring to things you got for your children).

craft pic

7. Woody!

(Added later). I almost forgot about Woody! Xander has been in a MEGA Toy Story phase, so I got him a talking Woody doll. I got it from the Disney store, because its was ridiculously cheaper than on Amazon (like $15 instead of $40).

Woody pic

I haven’t really done much for stockings, honestly, but I figure we can hit Target once we arrive (OMG TARGET!) and get some crayons, candy, coloring books, socks…stuff like that.

LUNA

Since she’s still so young, we’re not going for equal number of gifts/equal costs just yet. So.

1. Soft Rocker by Rockabye

I didn’t see this type of rocker with Xander until he was too old for it but I love them. They are so cute!  I got her the adorable little dino one.  This will be at home.

Rocker pic

2. Shape Sorter

Because why not, right? John and I both wanted to get her a few baby toys that are JUST hers, rather than ones that Xander still sort of remembers being his and thus grabs from her hands at first sight.

Shape Sorter pic

3. Books

Baby Pride and Prejudiced, because come on.

P&P PicI also got a few Sandra Boynton ones at Marshall’s.

For her stocking I was thinking of an empty roll of TP and some dog hair.

Having a birthday on Facebook and Twitter and a blog is pretty much the best thing ever.

It was a nice day. Low key and pretty mellow (well, as mellow as it can be with a 3.5  year old and a 10 month old), which is exactly what I wanted. John picked up an amazingly delicious cake at a bakery downtown, and Luna actually took a morning nap just when I wanted her to. So. Winning all around.

A while ago I told my mom that what I really want is to go shopping for ME and only buy myself things that *I* want, so when I get to Alabama, and when my brother’s wedding is all done, we are going to go shopping. I’m quite excited. I’ve been pretty good at cleaning out things that either don’t fit or I don’t care for any more, but I have NOT been “good” about replacing items, so my wardrobe is pretty limited these days. I really want to keep building up things that are cute but casual, that I can wear to teach and look like a grownup but not like a misplaced executive.  (I basically want to wear leggings and tunics all the time, but maybe fancy ones?)

Speaking of my brother’s wedding. I bought this dress to wear, and I am thinking leopard print shoes and… I don’t know what else. A necklace? Dangly or short? I’m terrible at this.

Today was the final day of my in person class at the local college and I brought donuts in to congratulate my students on completing their first semester of college. I’m quite pleased with how the term went and am really looking forward to next semester.  I’m also looking forward to this break, though, and having more adults to children when we take our trip.

Waxing and Weaning

Ha! A clever title. Even if it doesn’t ACTUALLY make sense.

Here is my dilemma, Internets. Luna hates bottles. HATES. They give her tiny infant rage. (She once grabbed the nipple of the bottle and squirt its contents into John’s face while yelling at him. So.)

Starting in January, when she’ll be 11 months, I will be teaching two in person classes, twice a week. So I will be gone from about 7AM until about 1PM two days a week.

Right now I’m only gone “long” one day a week, and for five hours, not seven.  We used to have the sitter try to give her some formula, but quickly abandoned that idea and so now Luna gets a pouch at lunchtime and waits for me to get home for nursing. It works out OK. I do pump, because I’m scared of my supply crashing, but it makes me somewhat irritated because I essentially pump and dump, since Luna will have nothing to do with expressed milk.

So. My question.

What do I DOOOOO?

Seven hours seems like a long time go without nursing and have her maintain an interest in it, and I’m not really sure I want to wean her completely. I mean. I could, I guess. But I like it. And I fought hard to get here.

So, I see my options as:

  1. Continue what we do now, and hope that 7 hours of no nursing and no bottles is not the switch to weaning her.
    1. Pump and dump like I do now to maintain supply
    2. Forget pumping, because it sucks, and cross fingers that my supply doesn’t vanish
  2. Wean her
  3. Try giving her expressed milk (or other milk, or “milk” like rice or whatever) in a straw or sippy cup

At 11 months I don’t really see a point in trying to persuade her to take a bottle, since we’ll just be trying to take it away a month later.

She’s pretty good at using a straw cup, but I haven’t given her anything but water in it. It also isn’t very leakproof, so I should maybe look into other cups.

So….I guess I really am already planning on option 3 (my pump is barely hanging on, but I think it’ll continue to get the job done) and I just want you tell me that it’s the right choice and will all be fine, and also tell me your favorite baby straw cup.

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