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Archive for the ‘JS’ Category

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.

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Lighting

Some (ok one) of you asked about the Hue Lighting system I got for John’s birthday. It’s this.

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It’s a kit of three light bulbs, and a hub, that connects to your iPad or iPhone, and you can make all manner of lighting scenarios through your device.

It comes with various preset (beach, reading, hammock, etc…), or you can load an image into the app and select different points on that image to match the color to the lights. It’s really neat.

John has lots of really great images, so we spent a lot of time on Saturday night picking different ones and saving them in the presets.

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Birthday Cookies

I almost gave up today, on Day 2 of A Post A Day Month.  But I didn’t. I feel that I deserve some sort of reward. I also feel that feeling I am entitled to a reward for rambling about myself says quite a bit about me as a person.

Anyway. Today is John’s birthday! As to be expected with very small children, it was more chaos than relaxation, more frantic than celebratory, but still nice. We met up with some friends for lunch at a local pizza (oh, I’m sorry, Wood Fired Flatbread) place. I managed to procure a recipe from a restaurant that we used to frequent in San Diego and made it for dinner (I forgot to put salt in it, though, which, while healthier, did not make it taste any better).

And even though it felt wrong to do so, John requested birthday cookies in place of cake. I feel that I was robbed an excuse to make and eat chocolate cake, but, Birthday Boy and all that.

The cookies turned out quite well. Shortbread cookies with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.

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For a gift, I got him the Hue lighting system, thingy. It’ll also end up being part of his Christmas gift, too, since it’s somewhat pricey.

Three unrelated items:

  1. If you haven’t gotten the Hyperbole and a Half book, do so. It’s so funny you’ll wet yourself. In a good way.
  2. I had this great plan for DST and how it would work and not be that bad and then, OF COURSE, Luna refused to nap at all this afternoon and Xander is coming down with another cold, so come dinnertime everyone was cranky and tired and not at ALL in the mood to try and push bedtime back to make the morning more bearable and, oh, well. Best laid plans and all that.
  3. John is going to Chicago next week for a conference and I’m just not sure about solo parenting with two kids. Someone do it for me, OK?

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I feel like I need to literally dust this blog off. Luckily it’s not an actual thing and requires no dusting. LONG LIVE THE INTERNET.

Anyway, updating has become this Big Thing in my head that I need to do, and the longer I put it off, the more it looms, and in order to prevent it from becoming this insurmountable task, I’m going old school lazy and giving you bullets. As Xander would say, TAH-HAH!

  • Xander!
    • Xander is, well, about what we expected. He loves Luna. Loves her. “Want to touch the baby Luna!” is a frequent refrain around here. Which is oh so sweet, yes, and also terrifying because TODDLERS ARE CLUMSY GIANTS. I don’t want to give him a total complex, so I let him pet and kiss her, all the while just cringing over her wee, squishy head. He’s also a total and complete ASS with me and John. He’s fully in the terrible twos (yes, I know, “just wait until he’s three!”) and screams over everything, says no to everything, won’t eat unless it’s coated in sugar or in a cracker form, hits us over his timeouts, you know, HE’S TWO.
    • I don’t feel like I’m handing him particularly well, but I’m trying to cut myself some slack: it’s very hard to entertain a toddler while nursing a newborn who always (a.l.w.a.y.s.) wants to nurse, so yeah, we watch more TV than we should. I’m tired and hormonal and tired so, no, I don’t always reply with his screaming “NO! Don’t like mama! Go away!” with an understanding, “Oh, I’m sorry you’re angry, sweetheart, let’s talk about it.”  But I do try to make sure to give him some Xander Only attention each day, and to make sure he gets praise and compliments in addition to the constant “Shhhhh” ing.
  • Luna!
    • Luna is a newborn, so in many ways, there’s little to say about her. She is the poster-child for Dr. Sears’ attachment parenting. She likes: nursing, being worn in the BabyHawk (so she is close to the bewbs), sleeping next to me so she can eat all night long. She doesn’t like: anything else that doesn’t involve the above three things. It’s easier and harder. I know exactly what will calm her down (nursing!), I know she will nap if I put her in the BabyHawk, I know she will cry if I change her or hand her off to John to shower. But it’s also hard because, you know, I have other things to do. Like shower. SOMETIMES. Or read Xander a story, or just go in a quiet room and stare at the walls without anyone TOUCHING ME or NEEDING ME. But I know that it won’t last for very long, so I’m trying to savor what I can and just survive what I can’t and try not to get too smelly.
    • The pediatrician heard a heart murmur at her 2 week appointment, so we are going to the cardiologist later this month to have it checked out. Most likely it is a benign murmur – I have one myself, and will require nothing more than to be observed and recorded and then ignored. I’m still a wee bit nervous about it, obviously, because she is my baby and so little and well, you know. But I’m mostly trying not to think about it until it’s time.
  • John!
    • John is awesomely John and he’s home on Spring Break now (ha ha ha ha – spring! I WISH) which means I’m taking gross advantage of him and not letting him get a moment’s peace. This morning he took Xander out for cupcakes before I lost my everloving mind at the gazillionth rendition of The Wheels on the Bus.
  • Me!
    • Other than smelly! (It’s not THAT bad. I don’t think.) I’m actually pretty good! I was much more of a wreck in Xander’s early days, honestly. Less sleep because I was 1), doing that whole crappy feed AND pump every two hours thing and 2), afraid of co-sleeping. I have not pumped once for Luna – I just feed her when she’s hungry – and I’m much more confident in my own ability to make choices like co-sleeping (and to do so SAFELY, obviously). Sleeping with her next to me (or propped up with her on my chest) means we BOTH sleep much better. I wake up when she needs help latching on, or to be changed, and then we both go back down. Fin. This makes me a much better parent.
    • I’m not super great at leaving the house with both kids – it’s a hugely daunting task – so mostly I don’t. I’m lucky enough that even when John does have work, he’s home often during the day so I can wait for a time when he can watch one or both of them before running to the store. Or I let HIM run to the store.
    • I accepted a teaching job that starts in 2 weeks and I’m not sure that this was a wise choice. It is so hard to find any time at all to do something, let alone something that is actually REQUIRED to get done. But this time, unlike when I was still pregnant/delivering, I’m only taking one class, so hopefully it won’t be too overwhelming.

And that is where we are. Now that I’ve broken the wall of not posting, maybe I’ll be a bit more regular again. But, maybe nott.

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Up To

Xander started preschool today. SCHOOL! Sure, at two it’s probably more similar to daycare than “real” school; I’m not expecting him to come home reciting the periodic table, but still. School!!  My little kiddo. It floors me. I burst into tears in the parking lot after the orientation, so I was incredibly proud of myself for not getting at all weepy at the actual drop off today.

(It was early, and he was distracted by a crack in the sidewalk, so excuse the squint.)

And just like that, it seems, summer is over. It’s been a pretty low key summer, for the most part, but a great one. JS taught the summer semester, but was still home more than a “normal” job would have allowed him. The three of us hiked and visited farms and stayed in a cabin in the woods. Xander and I have gone on play dates, had cupcakes for brunch, poked ant hills, side walk chalked the hell out of our driveway. We’ve ended nearly every day with a family dog-pile/tickle fest and man, it’s been just so wonderful.

I love age two.

Here are some other snapshots of our lives the past few months.

                   
 
   

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I’m starting to notice that Xander looks so much more like a little boy than a baby these days. He’s longer and leaner, the dimpled baby joints giving way to gangly boy limbs. Not all the way. Not yet. His hands still look like little star fish. His face is still round. His belly still spills out of shirts. But still. It’s happening.

I didn’t have my camera with me today, so I tried to take mental snapshots to hang on to on those nights I’m waiting up for him, swearing that next time, I’ll REALLY enforce curfew (is that still a thing? curfew?).

  • Wake up time: He’s singing and babbling in his crib. When he sees JS come in to scoop him up, he flips over onto his belly, pretending to still be asleep – complete with fake snores.
  • Breakfast: Initial cheerfulness has given way to body shuddering sobs at the horror of being changed. He stumbles into the kitchen. “Xander, do you want milk?” I ask, holding out his morning cup of milk/kefir. “NO!” He sobs, launching himself forward onto the floor, balling his fists. “What do you want, buds?” “UP. UP UP UP UP,” he pleads. In my arms, he signs for milk.
  • In a jogging stroller, while I run with a friend: “Ball! Fofo! Shoe! Buh! Daddy! Doggy! Fofo!” Turning around to smile at me through the plastic window.
  • Nap time: Reaching eagerly for pacifier, hugging blankie to his chest, his head snuggling against my chin while we read about Thomas. Again. “Choo choo?” He points. We read it again and he squirms while he giggles. “Choo choo.” I sing “You Are My Sunshine” and lower him down into the crib. He cracks a sleepy eye and claps.
  • Dinner: We eat early, before JS gets home. He spoons rice into his mouth faster than he can chew. “Mmmm!” He digs through the bowl, finding all of the vegetables, winging them at the dog’s head. “Uh-OH!” He gulps his water down. “Ahhh!….Cookie?”
  • After dinner: we play a puzzle game on the iPad. He misses and misses and misses and finally gets it right. He stands, points to himself, and claps. He dances around the room, clapping. I dance and clap with him.
  • Before bed: JS is home, Xander sprints up and down the hall, chanting “do do do doop! do do doop!” while JS tosses the ball for him to chase.
  • He throws his arms around my neck, his grasp surprisingly strong. He lays his cheek against mine, then presses his wet lips to my ear. “Mama,” he breathes.

These days are so very long. By the time 730 rolls around, I’m all but ready for bed myself. But they’re so sweet, so great. I hope I remember the good, more than the bad.

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Three

It’s funny to me that Sunday marks just three years that we’ve been married.

I know it’s a cliché, but it feels like we’ve always been together.

There is no before. Just now.

 

 

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New Nighttime Routine

The hour or so between dinner and bath tends to get a little hairy, so JS came up with a great solution. It’s more interactive than TV, but holds Xander’s attention better than a book.

These boys. (And that dog.) I’d be lost without them.

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Home Again

Whew!

We’re back. And it’s good to be back. And also sad because: where’s my mojito?

The trip went something like this: The three of us flew to AL (well, Nashville, actually, but whatever), spent a full day there with Gramma and Pop-pop (we were going for the dull and traditional monikers of Gramma and Grampa, but Xander had other ideas about that), and then JS and I left for Mexico. And, yeah, I totally wept into Xander’s hair when I gave him his bottle the night before we left (early, so at least he wasn’t awake and screaming for us as we departed), but it was so, so, so wonderful.

JS and I spent most of our time just lounging at the beach, alternating between shade and sun, reading, listening to music, whatever. When we wanted a break from that grueling life, we went up by the pools and got a snack of sushi at the bar. Maybe an afternoon mojito, then dinner. We realized how incredibly lame we are in that we never adjusted to the time zone. So, we went to bed around 9:00, and got up around 5 or 6 AM. But, hey, whatever. We’re not exactly the college-spring-break-let’s-go-clubbing set, and sleep was always high on my priority of Things To Do.  Also? It meant that we got prime beach spots before all of the hungover kids finally stumbled out of bed at 1PM.

I took a mini trip and went snorkeling over a black coral reef (JS wasn’t into the boat ride and the undulating platform, so he opted out of this one). I saw Dory and some other brightly colored fish and had so much fun. The two of us took a half day trip to Talum, and we enjoyed checking out the ruins and taking some pictures, but were glad that we didn’t plan too many outings, because they are somewhat of an ordeal. It was really hard to top beach lounging, too. I mean. Come on.

My mom sent us occasional reports on what Xander was up to, which was perfect. Just enough info to make us miss him a little less, but not so much that we’d obsess over it all. (For his part, it sounded like had nearly as much fun as we did) (but without the mojitos).

Then we flew back to AL, hung with my family for a weekend, grilled some kabobs with my friend Paula and her little girl, and then it was time to come home.

We booked our trip through Costco, one of the all-inclusive deals, which, I know – it seems sort of generic or something. And as much as we would have loved to find tiny boutique lodgings and hop around to different locations and eat with the locals, it wasn’t feasible for us. And I have to say, I loved doing it this way. We could eat and drink anything at any time without worrying about the cost adding up (resort food and drink is insanely expensive). There were no hidden room fees or anything else that would have put a damper on the trip come check-out. The hotel itself was very nice, and the fact that all gratuities were included did nothing to affect the level of service we got from everyone.

ANYWAY, unintentional sales pitch aside, here are some of my photos (from the phone, OF COURSE; we only packed one real camera to share so I’ll post those pictures later). You know I trust you because I’m posting one of me in a swimsuit. I’m trying not to notice the extra 15-20 pounds there, OK, maybe you can do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Us

I was the first one to say “love.” It slipped out, unbidden, as we entered a parking garage at the outdoor mall.

“I heard that! You can’t take it back now.” He said.

The thought has never crossed my mind.

***

I think I knew that we were written in the stars long before we became an official couple. I was driving, him in the passenger side of my first New Car. Someone cut me off, again, in the rush hour of San Diego drivers headed home after work. I sputtered in futile anger. He shrugged. “For all I knew, he just got fired and his gal dumped him.”

I want that, I thought. That peace. That calm. That compassion for someone I’ve never met.

***

I hadn’t know him very long, only a few months, and only casually, when a violation of my home and body led to a breakdown of my spirit. He saw me at my worst, at my weakest, and it never phased him. He never treated me as fragile, never thought I wouldn’t be OK. He accepted the sadness for what it was and showed me that I was OK. That I’d be OK. He was kind, when others around me were not. He never left my side.

***

We met at work. It wasn’t a forbidden romance – we weren’t directly connected on the company flow chart, but I still wanted it to be a secret. Too many whispers and hushed stories have a way of ruining something that’s good. I wanted to protect it, to keep it safe, to keep it good.

We met at work, and at first it wasn’t anything. Friendly banter in the office. An extra copy of his course schedule in his inbox, just in case. A well timed lunch break. I couldn’t help but notice that he treated me as the same, as equal. A person, not a secretary (which wasn’t my job, anyway). He was the same with the office secretary. I liked it.

***

One of our first dates-that-wasn’t-a-date was a hike around a lake. We read the map wrong and ended up nearly ten miles away from the car. Downhill from the car. He gave me the last sip from the water bottle and flagged down a pick up for a ride. We sat in the truck bed with the dog they were training for rescue work. After we got home we went out for Italian food, watching the sun set over the pacific.

***

We had talked about marriage before, and the future and us and all the things that grown ups talk about when they’re in love. So when he asked me, in Golden Gate Park, if I wanted to marry him, I didn’t think much of it.

Until I saw his eyes and knew he meant it. Meant now.

“Huh? What? Yes!”

Afterwards, we touched the big oak tree that stood in as our witness. Thanks.

***

I crept back into bed, unable to hide the smile from my voice.

“What?”

I held out the stick, with one dark line and another fainter one.

“Does that mean…”

Some nine months later, I watched him meet our son for the first time. I saw the feelings I felt, but couldn’t articulate, on his face. Amazement, shock, terror, and pure, unadulterated, love.

***

It hasn’t been without challenge, but I can say that our relationship has always been easy. It’s so easy to be with him. So easy to love him. I know those around us, at times, had doubts. The age difference, the religion difference. But I’ve never doubted. He’s always been it. All I want. I can’t imagine my life without him. I can’t look at our child without seeing him: his eyes, his hair, his impish grin. It’s the greatest thing in the world, to see the two people I love most reflected in each other.

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