So I'm done with school for the year (hopefully semi-permanently) and it is officially summer. Lots of big plans in the works. One is to write here more often, like a form of therapy. Second, I need to organize just about everything in my house. It is a disaster. Third, we are going to travel a little and spend time with family. My mom is coming for a visit soon, and then I am bringing the kids to Disney with a friend and her two little ones. Big fun, can't wait!!!
The first thing we did with our summer vacation time was to put up a swing set in our back yard. I use the word "yard" very loosely here. I live in a townhouse and our yard is really about the size of our living room. Technically, there are parks around and we could use swings there, but then we have to wait our turn, and it IS summer in Miami, so it rains like every 5 minutes. Better to have a swingset right outside our door so they can play for 10 minutes at a time and then come in to prevent melting, literally!!
So, off I went, hunting for the smallest swingset I could find, hopping from toy store to super Walmart and back. We finally found what we wanted and brought it home to begin assembly. Now, it might not seem like a good idea to begin assembling it at 6:45pm, but it's Miami, people, it's about as hot as the devil's testicles here during the day, so.... off we went. Well, the little diva did NOT want Mama out of her sight, so I kept getting called back in to tend to her whiny highness. So hubs worked on by himself with the occasional help of our 11-year-old nephew (right, by himself!). I heard the occasional swear word coming from the back of the house, but there wasn't much I could do about it with the kids and related duties at hand. After I got the baby to bed, I went out to help. Thinking that we'd be done soon, I let the little man stay up to see the project finished and try out his brand spankin' new swingset, about which he was squealing and jumping up and down excited.
Right, well, I'm wondering if the instructions that are included in the box are like a cruel joke or if they just forgot to pay someone to write them. There are precisely 12 "steps" in these instructions. They are so detailed and explanatory (dripping sarcasm), like "Attach legs to corner fittings". They show a picture of the hardware involved, but actually, they put the really really important information, like which way the pieces should go, in tiny print to be sure that no one, like a man who would be assembling the dumb thing, would ever read them. So we got this thing about 90% assembled, and it is 11:30pm. Great. I call the kid outside to let him test out his new swing set. All that's left to do is to hang the swings, and I figure he can "help" us do that. Well, hmmm..... turns out, the top bar of the set was supposed to have round holes on tip and slots on bottom. Right. Ours had the slots on top and round holes on bottom. So the swings couldn't be hung until we took the ENTIRE thing apart and flipped the bar right side up. Doh!!!!! After a little explaining and a promise for endless swinging in the morning, little man was allowed to climb on the bars, slide a few times, and then he was sent off to bed, a grumpy little beast. Hubs and I then proceeded to dismantle the set, flip the bar, and reassemble. Did I mention how fun it is to fit the screws into the holes and get them threaded into the screw-catcher thingies in the dark?!?!?! We got done at 1:30am. My legs are now beautifully decorated with these lovely red welts from the mosquito festival in my back yard, but we are the proud owners of an adorable little swingset (which we upgraded to include the tire swing and baby swing, of course), which thankfully does fit in our itty bitty postage-stamp-sized yard. See?
And now we have some very happy campers! Woohooo for summer!
So my daughter has started doing this thing where, when she really likes something and wants a bite, she opens her mouth as wide as she possibly can, from across the room, and will proceed to run towards you in this position, until she gets a mouthful. In this picture, it's her abuela's arroz con salchicha (rice with hot dogs for the non-spanish speakers) - big hit.
I wanted to share this because it serves as a reminder to me to take life in and live it to the fullest. My fierce little girl certainly knows how. Being a mom has taught me great lessons. :)
Went to Orlando this weekend to celebrate the sweet 15s of my niece. Here's a couple snapshots. Too tired to write anything anyway... still adjusting to the work schedule, and not very well I might add.
I can’t believe it’s already been a whole year since you entered our lives and changed everything forever. Before you, your Mommy and Big Brother were best buds and did everything together. In fact, I was worried that having you would somehow take away from our relationship, but in fact, you made me realize how much more there is to being a Mom. You are such a different little person than your brother, right from the very beginning.
When you were first born, I was just amazed by you, your tiny little fingers and toes, the cute little birthmark by your eye, and the pretty little smile that you used to flash when you were sleeping. You were a very good sleeper and loved to cuddle. Grammy and your Auntie held you almost non-stop for the first few weeks you were home. You were good at eating right from the start too. Your tummy was like a clock and nursing you was pretty easy once we got used to each other. You were so much fun to show off, with your adorable little outfits and your sweet cuddly personality. About the only time you were grumpy was when you didn’t get to eat the instant you demanded.
As you grew, you took the cuddle factor to the extreme, and I became YOUR person, the only one who was able to hold and soothe you. You would scream if anyone else dared to try and hold you for more than 3 minutes, even Daddy! You knew exactly what you wanted and you let everyone know when you weren’t getting it. While this was sometimes exasperating, I can’t tell you how honored I felt to be so loved, and let me tell you, I loved you every bit as much and then some. My daughter, I can’t believe I ever thought I could live without you. I was so lucky to be able to stay home and love you non-stop for the whole first year of your life.
Our life this year has been fun, spending time with you and your brother, making new friends, visiting the parks and just watching you learn and grow. I have learned all kinds of new things by having you. I learned to use and have loved using cloth diapers. I know you probably won’t know the difference, but your little bum has contributed almost no trash to the landfills to sit and haunt us forever. And let me tell you, you rocked people’s socks in those cute cloth diapers & your little dresses.
Over the last few months, your personality has really blossomed, and I think that you are going to be very much like me. You are curious and adventurous to a fault – often climbing where you shouldn’t and falling off of things. You are stubborn and will not give up when you want something. You stand up for yourself when you think someone has done you wrong – just ask Big Brother what happened when he wouldn’t share his toys. You’ve started to become so much more independent. When you started walking, you began your new adventures on your own, and happily walked (or pushed Mater) all around the playground without even looking for me. You’re not afraid to ask for help, you grab my hand and insist that I help you climb up the slide so you can hang out on the jungle gym. Your cuddliness still shows through though, because you love to give kisses, to just about everyone you know, but especially Big Brother. You are a great little communicator, not only have you mastered the sign language that I’ve shown you, but you mimic the sounds of so many words. It cracks me up when you make an animal noise (elephants, monkeys, dogs, ducks – lots of ducks) or say “Goo Gur” after I tell you what a Good Girl you are.
I think you’ve recently figured out that you have a Daddy and are starting to fall in love with him, just like I did. Every time you see Daddy’s picture anywhere in the house, you point and say “DaDa”. And now you show off for him and try to get his attention whenever he is home. How can he help but melt when he hears your little laugh or you flash him those big brown expressive eyes? I don’t mind sharing you, my sweet girl. I’m so proud of you, I could burst. Can’t wait to see what the next year brings.
So, I'm writing for 2 reasons today. One, because Aunt Becky told me to, and Duh. We do what the Aunt Becky says, right? Just kidding. The real reason I'm writing is because it's either this, or I go lay on my bed and cry. Since I get really fugly and all purple-puffy-eyed and can't breathe through my nose when crying, I decided this might be the better option.
This week has been more than a little rough for me. It started off with my grandmother passing away. She was a very tough old broad. She made it to 85. In fact, I celebrated her 85th birthday with her last week while I was home visiting family. She thought it was her 82nd, but whatever. She's been declining in health lately, as well as in memory/cognitive function. She recently broke her leg doing absolutely nothing that we can determine, just osteoporosis. Well, we thought she wasn't going to make it through that, but thankfully, she stuck around a few months and I was able to get my kids on a plane (actually 2 planes and I did it by myself - really wouldn't recommend that!) and get my butt back home to visit with her. I'm so glad I did. She so enjoyed seeing my little ones. Unfortunately, my mom wasn't able to join us because she would have had to drive 21+ hours through some bad weather and my mom really doesn't need to be doing that, given her age and health either. Also, there were financial factors. Well, the day after I got back home, I started getting emails from my aunt and it was bad news for Gram. She went down hill in a big way very quickly. To make a long story short, I'm very thankful we got to see her before the inevitable happened, and I'm also thankful that my mom was able to get up there and see her one last time and be with her at the very end. I'm also glad that she is not in any more pain. I wish I could be with my family now, but I made a choice to go before rather than after this sad event. I think it was definitely the right one. Still miss my family though.
The other thing that is really bothering me is my return to work, which will happen this coming Monday. I'm totally not ready. I wanted my house to be somewhat clean and organized... it's not at all. But that's beside the point. I'm not at all happy about this change. I want to be home with my kids, spending every day watching them grow and change and learn things. I want to be the one teaching them new things. I want to know exactly what's going on with every little detail, because that's the kind of mom I am. I know my kids inside and out and I live for that closeness. I do NOT want to hand over my kids every morning so I can go babysit teach a bunch of snotty teenagers and only see my kids for 3.5 hours before they go to bed. I am doing this under financial duress. If I don't go to work, I will lose my job permanently, and while I could probably handle that, I would have no health insurance and little to no income. I am willing to sacrifice many things to live off just one income, I have no problem with that, but like so many others, we are dealing with serious negative equity in our house and will likely have to move in the next few months. Moving is expensive and going without health insurance is just a bad idea (especially since I have something causing pretty bad reflux that requires a camera down my esophagus to check out).
I have been giving the kids a little time at daycare here and there to kind of warm them up a little. Since it's the same daycare my son went to, he doesn't mind returning and is actually looking forward to the playtime with his old friends. This is fine for a 4-year-old who will soon be going to school anyway. However, my soon-to-be one-year-old is not at ALL happy about the daycare situation. The other day she cried for over an hour straight and walked around sadly looking for me. When I brought her home, she clung to me all day like she was afraid I was going to leave her again. This drives me insane. Yeah, I totally know that she'll adjust eventually and to most people, this is not that big a deal. Well, to me, it is. I'm hurting over it. I'm also not happy that it's going to change our breastfeeding relationship, because she'll no longer get to eat when she feels the need to and I will only have one opportunity to pump per day. She'll be forced to drop one feeding each morning that she's used to. And she'll be stuck on a schedule that probably is not to her liking. She is a grazer, she likes to nibble all day. Now she'll get snacks at snack time with everyone else. She probably also won't get her diaper changed as often as I'd like, and this kinda matters with cloth diapers.... She's going to be tired and hungry and feel abandoned all day. Great. Just fucking great. This is not how I like to treat my baby. I'm sorry if I'm being dramatic/hormonal/oversensitive whatever. This is how I feel. VERY NOT HAPPY.
Going to go eat ice cream and watch Grey's Anatomy now. Comfort food and DVR, I don't know if it will help, but it's what I got. Currently, husband is working his tail off and won't be home for a while. Oh, let's not get started on the husband/work-widow issue.... that's another sore spot right now. Skinny cow ice cream, here I come...
Ok, So I realized that I've blogged almost exclusively about mommy stuff, and not much about dancing or anything else. So I went back through my pictures, looking for any that are not mommyful. You know what I mean- hair messed up or just completely not done and looks like I just rolled out of bed....not a dollop of makeup.... frumpy everyday clothes that didn't seem frumpy until I saw them in a picture.... Yeah, those. Well, I had to go all the way back to October, to my freakin Halloween picture. Because that's the last picture I have of me not looking all mommyful. Ugh. The pic is cute, but not quite what I was looking for. I'll share, because I'm nice like that and don't want to leave you hanging. (I'm the one in blue, and it was a theme party, BTW. Aren't you proud of my mad hairdo skills?? 'cause I totally was.)
Seriously, I need to work on this. Because, like my friend Aunt Becky, I'm trying to get a little more, well, me-ish. I'm working on dropping the last of the baby weight, but this not having anything remotely recent that doesn't scream "I belong in one of those pictures on the PeopleOfWalmart website", well, it's just not acceptable. I am a salsa dancer for christ's sake! Yeah, yeah, I'm a mommy too, but there has to be room for being unmommyful more than say once every 8 months. Here's what I used to look like before baby #2 (but after baby #1!!!):
I don't necessarily want to go back to performing, since it is such a time hog (or do I?) but I've definitely been making an effort to get out and dance more than once in a while. I at least want to hit a dance social once or twice a month, and maybe even hit a club every now and then. Of course, I always feel like complete dog butt the next day because I get home around 2-3am and kids do NOT. EVER. sleep in. But, usually, I suck it up and move on. Maybe if I get into the habit, it won't even seem like such a sacrifice. It's actually lucky that dances don't happen at more reasonable hours, because then I'd never get to go.
So, my fellow Interneters... What do you do to feel all full of YOU and not all mommyful? Or if you're not a mom, what do you do to feel really alive and not all consumed by your obligations and such?
Well now.... You would think that after having my son and going through the whole process of raising a baby to a little man (he's turning 4 tomorrow!!!!!), I'd have some idea what I was doing with this whole mommy business and would at least TRY to avoid some of the "mistakes" I made with child #1. Oh no. With each child comes a whole different set of circumstances and issues to bite you in the butt, specifically designed so that you never really feel like you know what you're doing. Anyway....
When my darling little daughter was a teeny babe, she would nurse until her teeny tummy was full and would fall asleep so full and content, and she would usually sleep right through the whole night, even waking at a nice beautiful hour like 8:00am. Great. I have been blessed with children who sleep. Um, yeah, right. As she grew, she began to stop falling asleep at the breast. Instead, she would nurse and then lay on my bed and toss and turn until she got comfortable, and then she would fall sound asleep. Then I would move her to her crib and life was good. Uh huh. A little more growing and suddenly, going to sleep was no easy process. She would nurse, stay up for an hour playing, and then get cranky, lay down on my bed and toss and turn, eventually falling asleep. Well, when this process started taking a few hours and as I lay there next to her in the dark wishing she would just go to sleep already, I got a little miffed. Oh, and I forgot to mention, not only was she not going to sleep easily, but then she was waking in the middle of the night one to several times, and each time would only go back to sleep if nursed back to la-la land. So many nights were spent with her in my bed for many of the wee hours (=me and hubs not getting good rest). Joy. So I got busy reading internet sites and books from the library about sleep training and here's what went down.
First of all, the ol' "cry it out" (CIO) method was just not a feasible option because my little ones share a room. If she's up all night screaming, so is the little man, and my life would fall to pieces as everyone became more tired and more grumpy. Nix that idea. I did try the CIO by putting her to sleep in the playpen, where she takes her daytime naps. She wasn't having that. I have on my hands a girl who gets more agitated the more her crying is ignored. This method did not get her to sleep. At. All. On to the next idea. I decided we would pull out some tricks from raising the little man... music. I dug out an old CD I made for him, with classical music and some pretty soothing stuff with waves crashing in the background. Sure makes ME sleepy. So I put her in the crib in the dark with the music and rubbed her back, shusshed till I got lightheaded, and prayed for her to fall asleep so that my back muscles would stop screaming "uncle!". This process would often take about an hour, sometimes more. Okay, this game was starting to suck.
Then I had an epiphany. I was taking evening walks around the neighborhood as part of my getting back into shape routine. Unfortunately, the motion of the stroller and the evening hour was causing her to take a snooze while I walked. I had to give up my only "me" activity to keep her awake during the post-dinner hour. This didn't exactly make me happy, but a mom does what she's gotta do. I stopped walking and tried the above method again, with the modification that I started giving her the last nursing in the dark with the sleepy music. Bingo! It took a few nights of cranky baby, but suddenly, bedtime shushing routine was cut to about 20 minutes. After about a week of this, the routine got even easier, I didn't have to do the shushing and back rubbing. I just laid her in the crib after the milk and she tossed and turned on her own to get comfy and after 10-15 minutes, voila! Granted, she still needed me in the room and I was laying on the floor just waiting, but hey, I thought that was fine and dandy. Just a few more days, and the routine got even easier (I didn't know it could!) - after milk now, she's pretty much unconscious. I lay her in bed, kiss my son, and walk out, a FREE WOMAN!!!!!
Now, during this whole sleep training fun, she was still waking in the night asking for milk, but she has not woken in the last few days. The only downside to all this is that she is getting up at 6:30am and I am most definitely not a morning person. However, I have no complaints. In about one month's time, I went from cranky baby filled evenings to getting completely kid-free time after 9pm!!! I don't know what you'd call this method, or if it would work for anyone else, but it worked for us and I am a much happier woman. I get to walk again, just after the kids have gone to bed, so it's actually much better exercise and more me-ish because I can actually carry on a real conversation with my walk buddies. Yay!!!!
The end. :)
I absolutely love your show. My kids (ages 4 and 10 months) know the sound of your theme song and love the part where we all dance along with you. I'm writing, along with a lot of other moms, to ask you to feature cloth diapers on your show. Why, you ask? Well, because cloth diapering is something that moms these days should really know about. It's not all icky rubber pants and scary diaper pins. Cloth diapering has become modern and easy and takes no more effort than pushing a button on your washing machine. And more importantly, it is something that we, as an educated nation, should be concerned about. Disposable diapers are filling landfills at an astronomical rate and it is just absurd. Besides that, most of us are really feeling a pinch in our wallet these days and cloth diapering can save moms a ton of money. Not that it's a major concern, but cloth diapers are also really flippin cute and fashionable too. So in the interest of our environment, the health of our little ones' bottoms, and saving moms money, I think this would make an excellent topic for your show, and with Ellen talking about it, who wouldn't want in? Here are a couple pics to show that these are "not your mom's cloth diapers" and hopefully, you could think of a cool game to make out of it. I will definitely be on the lookout for it!
Lots and lots of Love, Jennifer (and my super model daughter)
Nope, not me.... I didn't find my 10-month-old daughter (who can't yet walk, by the way) sitting on the play table when I came downstairs. And I TOTALLY didn't grab the camera to document it. Nope, wasn't me. :)
And no, not me... I'm not sitting here writing a blog post when I could be napping or looking for the elusive folder of teaching documents that I really need to find. Nah.....
Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.
Ok Internet... (as in the very small number of folk who actually read anything I write) :)
March is quickly approaching, and this will be the end of my "maternity leave" at work. In other words, if I don't return to work in March, they will give my job to someone else and I will have to reapply and go through hell to have anything even vaguely resembling my job back. So this post is a cost/benefit analysis of sorts. Feel free to weigh in on the topic and let me know your opinions.
I have really enjoyed staying home with my kids for this year and think that there have been way too many benefits to count, but among them, I think
1) My kids are WAY healthier than they would have been at daycare. Gabriel used to have ear infections about once every month or two. He's had one cold. That's it.
2) I've been able to breastfeed my baby girl on demand whenever and wherever she needed it. I have felt some amount of guilt at only going 9 months with my son because I went back to work and it totally caused our schedules to get out of sync, resulting in too little milk and me being bitten instead of getting to feed my rambunctious baby. Now, he did great, don't get me wrong, but I was trying to make it to a year or beyond. I think I will definitely get to one year with the little princess, but going back to work will probably put a big damper on the nursing.
3) I haven't missed any baby firsts with her, I've been there for every milestone and captured an enormous amount of her development on camera. I think I will now need a new hard drive, but that's okay!
4) I feel like I know my son much better than I did when I was working and only spending 3-4 hours a day with him before he went to bed. I've realized many nuances of his personality that escaped me before. He will be going to pre-K this year, so I am so glad I took the opportunity to get closer to him.
5) I've been able to cloth diaper the baby and feel good about my diminished contribution to global destruction. I had no idea there was so much to learn, but now feel like a cloth diapering veteran.
Now, here are the reasons I might want to return to work:
There is the obvious benefit of having income, which is no small matter these days. Housing market has literally clobbered us financially.
Health insurance. If I don't go back in March and I lose my job, then I have none. Adding me to hubs insurance amounts to paying another (very ritzy) car payment but with no car!!!
Not returning to my job now and wanting to later will result in enough paperwork and ass kissing to make me want to jump off a very high cliff, a pretty tough thing to do in Florida. It may even be entirely impossible to get back into my (really awesome) school. This is a big district and I really wouldn't want to teach anywhere else.
There will be no one in the house all day, so it will remain as clean (okay, as dirty) as I left it each morning. Most of the mess making will occur at daycare and I will not feel as though I spend every waking moment cleaning the house.
I will more than likely lose the rest of the baby weight (which is only 5-10 pounds) very quickly because teaching is exhausting, there's no time to eat, and my school is so huge it is a workout just to get to my classroom in the morning - especially since I'm always late and have to sprint!!
I will only have to teach for the last quarter of the year, and the majority of work has already been done. I will have less than a quarter to teach//grade and then just review stuff. Pretty light duty compared with starting the year new.
When I am at work, I can actually kind of focus mentally. I've said many times that working is easier than being at home with 2 kids all day, which has made me feel like my brain is made of swiss cheese - full of holes. I have the CRS syndrome. I hardly ever think about anything that doesn't relate to preschoolers or babies. Not that teaching 9th graders really amounts to mentally challenging exercise, but it is a step in the right direction.
So, I have this huge decision to make, and I'm not even sure that I will get to make it. Finances might deem it necessary that I go back. But it is still weighing heavily on my shoulders. I will probably feel guilty either way, because that is what moms do, but I just don't know if I can leave my little ladybug. Look at her!!!
A girl from Massachusetts goes to Florida for grad school for biology and becomes a salsa dancer. Then she gets married to an awesome lawyer-athlete and has 2 kids and falls in love with cloth diapers. Talk about random... here we are