The Spirit of America

A and I have safely made it to Massachusetts in one piece! All in all, our trip up here went really well. I don’t think things could have gone much smoother. A did great on the plane, in spite of a very early wake up call. I’m already thinking about all the posts I’m going to write about traveling with a baby when we’re home!

We’re all settled in for the next four days at my aunt’s house on Cape Cod. Posting will be light till we get back next week since I only have the iPad with us. Hoping to post some pictures throughout the weekend, though.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

Busy as a bee

Happy Memorial Day! Let’s all remember those who have fallen while serving our wonderful country. You are all so brave, and we are all so thankful for your sacrifice.

Do you ever sit down at night and not remember getting ready that morning because it literally feels like 50 years ago?

I feel like I can never get everything done in the day, but at the end of it, it’s lasted for… With the holiday weekend, work was crazy and exhausting last week. Every day I got home from the office and felt completely drained. There were conference calls and meetings and unexpected crises and I am just over it.

I have so much to do before A and I leave for Boston this week. I started packing everything up, but that in itself seems like a huge task. I made a list of everything I need, and it feels like it’s a lot of stuff. My suitcase that was always so huge and seemed bottomless when I was filling it for me now seems awfully small. I did get everything together (I think) for the plane trip up there. I’ve been doing research on traveling with babies, so I definitely will have a blog post when this trip is done about what worked and  didn’t work.

On the bright side, this long weekend has been wonderfully relaxing. My best friend Emily is here for a girl’s weekend, which has included a lot of junk food, cheesy romantic movies, Say Yes to the Dress, and wine. In other words, a perfect weekend. We also took A to her very first LSU outing yesterday! It’s hard to believe she is eight months old (yikes, I really need to take her pictures and write her eight month letter; add that to the to do list) and we’ve yet to bring her onto campus. It was really hot, but it was fun to see how much things have changed since I graduated four (!) years ago. This weekend was Bayou Country Superfest so it was also fun to people watch and listen to some music without having to pay the $50+ to go to the actual concert. She even met Mike for the first time.

It also gave me some much needed practice using the Ergo in the hip carry position.

geaux tigers

Today there’s not much on the schedule. A is napping, and I’m relaxing with a latte. Even though I still feel completely overwhelmed with all I need to get done (cleaning, laundry, errands, oh my!), I’m trying to enjoy myself on my day off. This week is definitely going to be another busy one, but at least it will be busy for really good reasons.

The first bump

A has always been a clingy baby. She’s a lot like me in that she loves company and does not play well alone. If it were up to her, she would be permanently attached to my hip. I would love to be able to indulge her in this, but she isn’t exactly getting any lighter, plus it’s not realistic. I am extremely adept at doing things one handed, but some things require two hands.

The hardest part of the day right now without John is definitely morning time. Having no extra set of hands at our busiest time is a challenge. I do my best to get as much done before A is up and ready for the day, but inevitably there are things I need to do after she’s up, which means I have to put her down.

Anyway, what I’m getting to is, this morning I put A down while I was getting her bottles packed up for daycare. I usually put her in her highchair, but this morning I figured it would take longer to wrestle her in there than it would to just get the bottles and go, plus she’s starting to test her mobility so she doesn’t like being constrained. So I just put her down on the floor outside the kitchen. A has taken to rocking back and forth whenever she gets excited, and after I put her down this morning I was singing and talking to her to keep her from getting upset. She was rocking and sneezed a HUGE sneeze at the same time. The sneeze caused her to tumble over. Unfortunately, she did not tumble backwards, where there was a pillow to catch her, but instead she tumbled forward and to the side, where she caught her forehead on the edge of the door frame.

I was only about a foot away from her and was able to scoop her up a nanosecond after it happened, but it was about two nanoseconds too late. There was screaming. And there were tears. Oh, were there tears…

After she calmed down, I looker her over and there appeared to be no permanent damage. She was all smiles when I strapped her into the car seat and was happily handed over to her teacher at daycare. About ten minutes after leaving, though, I got a call from daycare about the “huge knot on her head,” and I automatically felt like the crappiest mom ever.

I explained to them what happened, they said okay, and I spent the rest of my day vacillating between worrying daycare was going to call Child Protective Services and report me for abuse and contemplating leaving early to take her to the doctor to have it checked out. I ended up trusting my instinct, that she was fine, and if there was anything truly wrong daycare would call. They never did. When I picked her up this afternoon, she was The Happiest Baby again. The first thing I did was feel her head, and the “huge knot” appears to have gone down significantly without bruising. And no one called CPS (go figure). No one even mentioned it when I got her.

I know this is the first of many bumps and bruises she’ll get, and they’re inevitable, bound to happen to all babies as they grow. But I still feel bad about it. As moms, what we want more than anything is to protect our children from everything that can hurt them, and in a small way I feel like I let her down.

Which is stupid, because judging by the smiles and sugar she’s been giving me all evening, there is no love loss between us. I guess we’ll just chalk this one up to mommy learning experiences.

The easiest way to make labels (really)

Yesterday I posted about the teacher appreciation gifts I made/put together for A’s daycare. All of my effort (and it was minimum) was put into making the labels. But personalized labels do put a nice touch to things. And knowing how to make them quickly, easily and cheaply is an awesome skill to have in your back pocket.

First things first, I am not a super duper creative or artsy person. Really, you can ask anyone. I don’t really have an eye for design. Even with these shortcomings, I’ve found I can still make pretty cute labels, which means you can too. And all you really need is Microsoft Word.

If I can do it, you can do it!

If I can do it, you can do it!

Sure, there are better graphics programs out there, but better = more expensive. And Word is probably already on your computer, making it cheap and accessible. Plus, it’s pretty user friendly, and since you’ve probably been using it forever, there’s no learning new software. Ding ding, we have a winner!

I originally wanted to type out a tutorial, but it got too long and too confusing. Instead I will refer you to someone who already did so, and much better than I could. Just a Girl and Her Blog has an awesome guideline for it. Go there. Learn.

I have a folder of saved images I use specifically for these kind of projects. If you Google image search “chevron”, “stripes”, “polka dots”, “plaid”, etc, you have an endless supply of fills. Saving them gives you a plethora of options in one place. I mentioned yesterday that is my favorite resource for fonts, and I wasn’t lying. Most fonts are free for personal use, and there is literally a font for anything you could ever need.

Of course, these resources can do a lot more than make labels. Anything you could possibly want to print and make pretty you can make: Stationary, gift tags, invitations, stickers, etc. I’ve already started designing A’s birthday invitations using them. And once you realize how much fun it is, you’ll want to make a label for everything.

Even babies appreciate teachers

This week is “Teacher Appreciation Week” at daycare. I didn’t even know daycares had teacher appreciation weeks? It makes sense, lord knows they do work their butts off. I don’t think I could be in a room with five crying infants, or 10 curious three year olds, for that matter. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, as all the teachers at A’s daycares are amazing and definitely deserve more than a week’s worth of appreciation.

But, if I’m being entirely honest, I kind of inwardly groaned with the handout was sent home last week. I think I said something similar to, “Great, as if I needed one more thing to do,” later that evening. Luckily, daycare made it easy and practically laid out what to bring each day. Monday was breakfast foods day, Tuesday was candy/sweet treats day, today was “take and go snacks” day, and tomorrow they’re having a luncheon for all the staff.

With John leaving, I needed this week to be as easy and painless as possible. I also needed it to be as cheap as possible. I still wanted to have a little fun with these gifts. I settled for store bought/packaged snacks and personalized labels. On Monday, I got mini donuts, and I put this label on the top:

Picture 5I found adorable orange and white polka dot ziplock baggies in the dollar section at Target, so on Tuesday I filled them with M&Ms and Hershey Kisses. I slapped this label on a bag for each teacher in A’s room:

Picture 2For my “take and go snack” I got Teddy Grahams in those little lunch box bags. I put two in each baggie, and taped this label to the front for each teach:

Picture 1Those labels weren’t my best work, but I only had about five minutes total to get them done. I love for things like this. I was able to get really cute symbol fonts of food and teddy bears.

Tomorrow is the teacher’s luncheon. The first day they had sign up sheets I quickly signed up to bring brownies. I didn’t want to be the sucker stuck bringing a casserole or meat dish. I went super duper easy and just got a mix, which kind of breaks my heart, but I don’t have the energy to bake from scratch tonight. They are currently baking and making my house smell amazing. When we’re ready to go tomorrow I’m just going to pop this label on them:

Picture 4All in all, this week was easier than I anticipated it. I enjoyed having an excuse to get a little creative and DIY something, even if it as simple as a printable label. And I spent less than $10, which makes it an all around win.

Lights will guide you home

Today was a very bittersweet day. This morning I said goodbye to my husband, and I watched him drive off to start the next chapter of our life. Without me, and without our baby.

John will be in Indy for four and a half months by himself. Long distance isn’t new to us. We were apart for a year while I was in grad school in Boston. This isn’t the first time or the longest time we’ve done this, but it is the first time we’ve done this with a baby, making it significantly more difficult for both of us, for different reasons.

John will not only miss me, he’ll miss A tremendously. He’ll won’t be here for her milestones, both big and small. He won’t be here for all the little day to day moments either, like belly laughs and bath time. I’ll not only be missing John, but I’ll also miss having a partner to help me with all the other little things, like laundry and meltdowns.

I’m also left with the challenge of packing and moving our entire existence almost 1,000 miles. No big deal.

In a small way, it will be like being a single parent for a few months. Luckily, I have a great support system of family, friends and co workers to help me through it. The hard part won’t be finding help, but rather me not being too stubborn or scared to ask for it.

I miss my husband. I know this is what’s best for our family, but I’m still sad to be without him.

And I’m scared to do this parenting thing on my own.

On “doing it all”

A SAHM friend of mine recently went back to work part time a couple days a week. She was lamenting to me how overwhelmed she felt. She made a passing comment, “I don’t know how you do it all.” (meaning work full time + mama)

The answer, of course, is I don’t. I don’t even do half. I’m lucky if I do a quarter, some days an eighth, of what needs to be done. I’ve learned in the past eight months, that when it comes to motherhood, prioritizing is key. That often means dishes stay dirty for many days, and clothes stay unfolded on the couch for much too long. It means my house is usually less than presentable, my cupboards are often bare, and we eat take out more than I’d like to admit.

In my opinion, “doing it all,” is overrated. I used to feel bad that my house is a wreck, and I don’t always get to make A’s baby food fresh and organic, but feeling bad about it doesn’t automatically make my house clean, fold my clothes or stock my fridge. It wastes valuable time, time I’d rather be spending with my family.

I’ll admit, it’s not always easy. Sometimes I get caught up with anxiety that I can’t get everything done. I have to remind myself to take it day by day. I ask myself, “What needs to be done right now?” It’s usually not nearly as big a deal as I made it out to be.

For instance, this week is “Teacher Appreciation Week” at daycare. Each day has a theme for what to bring. Yesterday afternoon I was PANICKING because I hadn’t got anything yet. Actually I was having a full on meltdown because John leaves for Indianapolis tomorrow, and all the stress I was carrying came out as “I HAVEN’T GOTTEN ANYTHING FOR A’S TEACHERS YET.” But that’s another story for another post. Anyway, I had to remind myself to take it one day at a time, and I just made sure I had what was needed for today.

So that’s what I do. I clean when I can. I cook healthy meals when I can. I draft blog posts during downtime at work (like now!). And in between I do whatever time allows me. Because I work full time, I have to savor every second I have at home with A. So if that means I spend more time playing than cleaning or writing or doing laundry, I’m okay with that.

We don’t have to “do it all” to be a good moms. We don’t even have to do half of it. We just do what we can, when we can. So far, A hasn’t loved me any less because our house isn’t always clean. And that’s good enough for me.