Our New Normal

Now that’s I’m home full time with A (at least for the time being) my day is completely different than it was a year ago. Ironically, last year around this time, I published this post. My life has done a complete 180 since then.

My day is now, obviously, structured around A. The last time I was home with her like this was my maternity leave (one thing about that time that is similar to now, she still wants to be on top of me almost 24/7, except then she wanted to be held and now she just wants to be able to drape herself all over me). A typical day with just me and A, i.e. a day that John is flying, looks kind of like this:

My day still starts early. My alarm goes off at 6:30am, because if I don’t get out of bed early, I will have zero time to myself. This is my time to shower, eat breakfast, and drink my coffee in peace. I also use this time to figure out what the hell I need to get done. Do I have a deadline? Are we almost out of milk? How the hell am I going to keep my child entertained all day?!

Once A is up around 8am, we have some snuggles. This only lasts until she starts demanding breakfast, which doesn’t take too long. Once she is fed, if the weather is nice, we’ll go for a walk. If it’s a grocery shopping day, we’ll go do that. Once either of those things are done, A will color or play for a little while.

I’m trying to keep A on a schedule similar to the one she was on at daycare (I am assuming she will be back in daycare at some point in the hopefully near future), which means she eats lunch early, around 10:30am. And then she naps.

I really, really, REALLY need that nap because it’s really my only time to work. This is when I write. It’s also when I apply to jobs. I feel like I am trying to fit an eight hour work day into this two hour window.

After nap time, I try to take her outside if it’s not too hot. She likes to pick up rocks, twigs, leaves, flowers, and bring them to me, or “blow” bubbles. If I’m feeling really brave, I’ll take her to the splash park or the regular park.

Once we are both too hot to endure being outside, we come in for a snack. At this point I have to admit I usually put a movie on for her, because I just need a few minutes to sit. She loves the Tinker Bell movies and Frozen, so I know if I put one of those on, I can buy myself 20-30 minutes of quiet.

We’ll spend the rest of the afternoon playing and reading until it’s dinnertime. Once dinnertime rolls around I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, because once dinner time is over, it’s bath time, and once bath time is over, it’s practically bed time. A is in bed between 7:00 and 7:30pm. (We had to put up blackout curtains in her room since it is still broad daylight at 7:00, and she was refusing to go down until it got dark. Which doesn’t happen until after 10pm now.)

Once she is in bed, I pick up the house. Then I make myself a cocktail, and if I’m feeling up to it, I’ll write some more. If I’m not, I veg out watching Netflix. My head hits the pillow around 10:30.

The days John is gone are extremely long. Last week he was gone for four days, and towards the end I was about to lose it. I now realize how much I took getting a break for granted before.I especially realize how much I miss having a support system to rely on. It was nice having so much family around when we lived in Louisiana.I could always find someone willing to take A for a little while so I could get things done or just have some time to relax.

I try not to dwell on hard it is, or how stressed out I am, or how lonely it is being all by myself with her, but sometimes it’s hard not to. Dwelling on it doesn’t help, but sometimes I just can’t help it. I’m trying to remember that this, like all things in life, is temporary. This too shall pass, and all that jazz. In the mean time, I know A is very thankful to have me all to herself for a while, so I’m going to try to focus on that.

For the love of lovies

When A was about 9 months old, I introduced her to a lovie. John had just moved to Indy, and for whatever reason, I just felt like she needed an attachment object and that it was the right time for one. I picked up a set of Aden & Anais muslin security blankets at Target on a whim, mostly because I thought they were adorable.

While she took to sleeping with a “blankie” immediately, it took her a few months to really attach to it. By the time we moved to Indy, she was up to “must have to sleep” level of lovie dependence. Now, three and a half short months away from two years old, we are at full on lovie love in our house.

We are up to four lovies in the rotation, and at any given point A will have anywhere from one to all four on her person. I tried to keep it down to two, but she is like a bloodhound with those things and finds them no matter where they’re hidden. When we get her out of her crib in the morning she gathers as many as she can (typically all four are in bed with her).

I let A dictate when she wants/needs a lovie, for the most part. If she has one in her hands when we leave for daycare, I let her take it in the car. If she wants to take it in with her, that’s okay, but if she chucks it across the backseat when it’s time to get out, I let that be okay too. I always try to keep one close though, because if we’re out in public and she starts to meltdown, the touch of her lovie can delay it, at least for a little while. If we don’t have a lovie when she wants it? Get ready for defcon 5, because She. Will. Lose. It.

I don’t know how long she’ll need/want her lovie. Just like her thumb sucking, it’s not something I plan on stopping just because she reaches a certain age. Both things help her self soothe, and I feel like she will phase herself out of it when she’s ready, which is definitely not now. She is so stinking cute with her lovie trailing behind her, like a little girl Linus (which we have taken to calling her; this child has so many nicknames).

Plus, I took my blanket to college with me and actually slept with it until A was born and we started co-sleeping, and I like to think I turned out kinda normal.

Unexpected challenges

When John took this job, we both knew he would be traveling a lot. It’s the cost of being married to a pilot. When being out of town is your husband’s profession, you have to expect to be on your own a good bit of the time. I knew this going into it. I try not to complain about it too much. Plus, if he’s grounded for too long, he gets SUPER cranky.

The past couple weeks John has been flying a ton due to the company being short staffed. He has only been home a day at a time, and his schedule is extremely erratic. He is living his dream, and working on building a future for us. I understand it is for the best.

But there is someone in our house who does not understand this and is not very happy with it. The past couple weeks, A has been moody, aloof, and difficult. She has been crankier with me lately, which I attributed to her changing nap needs and probably teething. She has been more difficult at daycare, which is really atypical because she is usually an angel for her teachers (she loves them). It wasn’t until I noticed her acting particularly, well, rude, to John the other morning that I put two and two together.

John got home from a trip late the other night, after A had gone to bed. When I got her up the next morning and brought her out to see him, she pretty much totally rebuffed him. She didn’t want to be held by him. She didn’t want to give him kisses or to get them from him, either. She didn’t want to play with him.

“I think she’s angry with you for being gone.” I told him.

He looked so heart broken in that moment, it made me want to cry.

I tell her when daddy will be home, but I know she doesn’t understand. She understands he is gone, and then he’s back, and then he’s gone again. She can’t comprehend “Daddy will be back on Tuesday,” or “Daddy will be back in two days,” because she doesn’t know what those things are. She doesn’t have any concept of time past what is happening RIGHT NOW. She certainly doesn’t comprehend why her daddy has to go away so much, even though I tell her why every day. I tell her daddy loves her, and because he loves her so much, he is working as hard as he can to make sure she has everything she needs and wants in life. I tell her that, but I think I tell her more for me than I do for her.

I know eventually she will understand. Eventually she’ll be able to comprehend time, and we’ll be able to have fun counting down to when Daddy is home (especially since I’m sure Daddy will bring her cool surprises from all of his destinations). There really isn’t a cure for this “problem” except to wait it out. Some things just don’t have easy solutions.

 

What’s in my toddler diaper bag

You know, I’m always amazed to find how many searches of “what to put in my diaper bag” or some variation thereof bring people to this blog. My original diaper bag post and my travel diaper bag post get tons of hits still months after I posted them. Now that A is a toddler, my diaper bag has changed a lot, so why not give the people what they obviously want and cover that too.

The best part of having a toddler is they require way less stuff than babies. Leaving the house used to take for-ev-er because there was just so much crap to haul. I was constantly restocking my diaper bag with burp clothes, clothes, diapers, and everything else under the sun. Now, I can just throw a few things into my everyday purse.

I carry the Michael Kors Jet Set Travel Tote as my everyday purse, so if you prefer a smaller everyday purse, you will probably not be able to do so, but if you are a big purse person like me, it makes it easier.

purse

whats in my diaper bag now

Diapers/wipes: I mean, this is still a given, except now I only have to bring 2-3 instead of 10.

Sippy cup: I pack an empty sippy cup for water if we’re going somewhere to eat or to a friend’s house. If we’re running errands I make sure it’s a very, very, VERY leak proof cup, and I put water in it.

Snacks: My favorite on the go snacks are Earth’s Best Happy Snax, Plum Organics Super Puffs, good old Cheerios, or any kind of fruit pouch. The best snack container? Tupperware. The kind with the screw on lid.

Small toys: I always pack a few of A’s favorite smaller toys. Right now it’s a small board book, her Sesame Street phone, and Elmo keys.

Not pictured: Hand sanitizer, tissues, lotion, extra lovie.

What I DON’T pack anymore: Burp clothes (no spit up, no need), extra clothes (unless we’re going somewhere for longer than 2-3 hours, she’s had a diaper blow out in the past 24 hours, or I know the weather will be bad), bibs (if we’re eating out I always order not messy food).

This is probably the “bare minimum” of what you need. Granted, this is for short excursions, such as errands or play dates. If we’re going somewhere for a full day or longer, obviously we pack more. But for the weekly trip to the grocery or Target or a lunch/dinner out, these few, essential items are all you really need for a toddler.

There’s a first time for everything

There are certain firsts in your child’s life you know are inevitable, and you look forward to them. First steps, first word, first time sleeping through the night…you get the picture.

Then there are firsts you don’t expect, or at least ones you don’t anticipate and look forward to. First time they get sick, first time they get hurt, or you know, the first time they are hospitalized due to either.

Let’s back track a week. A week ago I picked up A from daycare and heard the words no mother wants to hear: “Don’t panic but…” She had tripped and hit her eye (close to the brow) on the corner of the bookshelf. She had a bump and it was red, but they iced it and she appeared to be no worse for the wear. I figured it would bruise up the next day, and it did, leading to her very first black eye.

I was pretty proud of how I didn’t freak out about it. She is starting to run and she trips often, so this didn’t surprise me at all. I took it in stride…and started calling her Bruiser.

Fast forward a few days to Thursday. The bruise was starting to go away, but her eye was draining yellow gunk. My mind immediately went to pink eye, but I hoped it was just because she’s been congested lately. Friday morning, while I am getting ready for work, I heard A crying in her room. This is highly unusual, normally I have to wake her up in the morning. I went into her room and found her with her eye completely swollen shut.

I had an internal debate whether I should take her to the ER, but decided to call her doctor first since it was almost time for the office to open. I scheduled a 9:45am appointment (the earliest available), and planned on getting there early. When we got to the doctor’s office they took one look at her and let us go straight to the back. Once the doctor saw her, she immediately told me she thought A needed to go to the hospital, as these types of infections can be very dangerous. She needed to go right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Keep in mind, John is in Nashville, and I am 1,000 miles from any family member. Having your child in the hospital is frightening and difficult, and these fears are compounded when you have to do it on your own. (It should be noted I’m pretty sure John was freaking out more than I was.)

She was admitted to the children’s hospital not too far from where we live around 10:30am on Friday. If you’ve never been so lucky to be admitted to a hospital for anything, let me just say you are not missing out on much. There was a lot of debate over the course of treatment. CT scan or no CT scan? IV antibiotics or oral antibiotics? In the end they decided since her eye was moving the infection was limited to her outer eye and not behind the eye, so they would wait on the CT scan and spare her the agony of an IV and see how she did on oral antibiotics. The official diagnosis was preseptal cellulitis.

From top left to bottom right: Tuesday morning (after hitting her eye Monday), Friday morning (at home), Friday afternoon (at hospital), Saturday morning (at hospital).

From top left to bottom right: Tuesday morning (after hitting her eye Monday), Friday morning (at home), Friday afternoon (at hospital), Saturday morning (at hospital).

 

If you’ve never spent a day in the hospital with a toddler, do your best to avoid it. It’s a lot like being in a cage with a bear cub. She was all over everything, trying to get into everything, and she just about lost it every time any medical professional tried to do anything to her. We were also in isolation, so we couldn’t leave the room, which made matters worse. Getting her to sleep in the prison cage crib was a challenge unto itself. It didn’t help that every time she fell asleep or got comfy it seemed like it was time for them to give medicine or take vitals.

Luckily her eye looked a thousand times better Saturday morning. After one very long day, a restless night, and a long morning we were discharged.

I really do have to say it all could have been so much worse. A handled the disrupt in schedule well, and in spite of being poked and prodded she was a total trooper. It helped that the hospital had a ton of toys and books she never seen, I let her watch more TV than she watches at home, and I ordered all her favorite foods from room service.

I’m very proud of how brave A was through this whole ordeal, but I’m also proud of me for staying as calm as I was. It would have been easy to panic, and part of me wanted to, but it wouldn’t have helped anything. It would have made things harder, for both of us. If this ordeal taught me anything it’s that I am strong enough to handle just about whatever motherhood throws at me. As of today you can’t even tell anything happened to her eye, and we’ve both just about recovered from the trauma. I am very happy and relieved to have my sweet, healthy girl back.

A few of our favorite things

It’s another cold, snowy, miserable day in Indy. I’m sick, A is sick, and it’s been really hard to get motivated to do anything the past couple days. My messy house can attest to that. So, it’s going to be a fun post today, y’all, because I need something light and fun. Today, let’s talk about some of my (and Baby A’s) current favorite things! This doesn’t need too much of an intro, right? Right, so let’s just jump right in.

1. Avent Natural Drinking Cup–I bought this a long time ago, and for whatever reason it has been sitting in the back of the cabinet, forgotten. We rediscovered it, and it’s been our go to cup. Toddlers can drink from all around the rim which makes for transitioning to a grown up cup easier. Plus, there aren’t forty bajillion pieces to clean. I’ve already put three more in my Amazon cart for Valentine’s Day and her Easter basket.

2. Stonyfield Yo Toddler Organic Yogurt Pouches–A loves loves LOVES yogurt. She hasn’t mastered eating with a spoon yet, so if she gets yogurt it means I have to feed it to her, and it’s always challenging because SHE wants to do it HERSELF, and it’s always a mess. I saw these at my last trip to Target, and I didn’t even care they weren’t on sale. She has mastered eating out of a pouch, and now she can enjoy her beloved yogurt ON HER OWN.

3. Look and Find Book–I bought this specific book for A last Easter, and she is obsessed with it now. She brings it to me several times a day. She doesn’t get the look and find part yet, but she loves the pictures. It’s not really a read to me type of book, but I make up stories based on the pictures and scenes and point out the different things to her. She really loves to hear me make the animal sounds, and she will “roar” or “moo” with me.

4. Aden and Anais security blankets–Having your child take to a lovie is both a blessing and a curse, I think. On the one hand, this calms her down almost instantly, and if it’s in her hands she will go right to sleep almost anywhere. On the other, if she’s got it in her hands she’s sucking her thumb, and I am not looking forward to the day we have to break both these habits which are now very clearly linked. But for now, A’s lovie is basically a fourth family member. We have several of them so there is always one laying around. She has one with her always (except at daycare, even I know better than to let her take it there).

5. Tea Forte tea brewing system–Obviously this is one of my favorite things not A’s. John got me this for Christmas, and I’m pretty obsessed with it. I’ve been drinking a lot of loose leaf tea lately, so if you’re in to herbal teas and such, this is a really easy way to brew it. The infuser is way easier to clean than others I’ve had.

Out of curiosity, how would y’all feel about me posting recipes here? I’ve been back to meal planning, which means I am cooking most nights of the week. Most of the things are easy to prepare and use very few ingredients, which means they are great for the working mom, or any mom, set. I’m thinking of doing a weekly feature on Wednesdays for weeknight meals, but wanted to get some feedback first. I would even consider doing contributing posts from other mamas with awesome recipes if that is something anyone else is interested in. Let me know what you think!

The Best Things About Having a Toddler

A is being very toddler-ish today. More so than usual. Temper tantrums, refusing food, screaming for no reason, knocking her cup and plate off the table, pulling the socks I just put on her feet off. You know, all the fun quirks that come with this age.

It’s been a frustrating day. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said, “No,” or, “Please stop,” or, “Don’t do that.”

This toddler age is without a doubt one of the single most infuriating phases of a child’s life, but it’s also adorable. It’s filled with challenges, precociousness, and funny/precious moments. I love the latter and am learning how to respond appropriately to the former. On days like today, it’s helpful to remember all the good things about this age.

She is learning so much about her world. And she shows it in the cutest ways. Yesterday we went to the store to get new shoes and basics for A, and when we were checking out I said, “She’s looking at your cool new shoes,” (I got her a sweet pair of light up sneakers, she’s gonna be the coolest kid at daycare) and A kicked out her feet, looked down at her shoes, and pointed, as if to say, “I have shoes, look at them! I love shoes!”

She is starting to show signs of affection. When A was a baby, I knew she loved me because she would smile when she saw me. She still does that, but she’s also showing other forms of affection. She makes my day when she runs up to give me one of her open mouth kisses, or climbs up on my lap for a snuggle. She even started giving hugs lately, in which she will pat your back. It’s the sweetest.

She is growing into her own little person. It’s during this time this toddlers really come into their own. A’s personality is really starting to make itself apparent. It’s fun to watch her react to different situations. She is definitely shy, more introverted, hang back in the wings type. It’ll be interesting to see if she is always this reserved or if she gets a little more daring as she gets older.

Her attention span is getting longer. It’s nice that she can focus on one thing longer now, which means she doesn’t get bored as easily. She loves bringing me books for us to read together. Oddly enough, her favorite book right now is a book about Thanksgiving. This longer attention span also means it’s much easier to take her places.

Speaking of taking her places, she is much easier to transport. No more having to worry about packing the world to go to the grocery store, or planning my day around mealtimes and nap times. For the most part I can just throw a couple diapers, a snack or two, and a sippy cup in my purse, and we are good to go.

I know we still have a ways to go in our toddler journey, but I also know for every frustrating moment we have, there will be way more sweet moments. She’s still the cutest thing, even if she does drive me crazy sometimes.