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.

HSM’s Ultimate Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s day is around the corner, y’all! I am ashamed to admit prior to having Amelia I never thought much into Mother’s Day. I know, I know, I’m a terrible daughter. I mean, I love and appreciate my mother every day, but now having a child myself, I am way, way, way into Mother’s Day. Not so much because I love presents and cards and flowers (well, I mean, I do), but because I am into showing my love and appreciation to the mothers in my life way more now that I too am a mother.

I know gift giving can be difficult, and because of that, I have put together a neat little gift guide. Fellas, if you are looking for ideas, chances are something on this list will work (I am into almost everything on the planet at least a little, and I am very much a typical “girl”, so chances are something on this list will work for your leading lady). Mamas, feel free to forward this to your man, use it for ideas for your mom or MIL (or important mother figure in your life), or even buy yourself a little something. You deserve it!

Almost everything on this list is less than $50, because I know I am not the only person that needs to pinch their pennies, but everything is lovely and thoughtful, and a lot of it is even useful. A lot of it is also frivolous because sometimes gifts should be.  Don’t say I never did anything for you.

For the Coffee Lover

Adorable coffee cups (Like these, these, or these)

A French Press. I LOVE COFFEE. I seriously have two coffee makers on my counter, but I don’t have one of these, and the more I read about them the more I want one.

For the Tea Drinker

Ridiculously cute, vintage tea cups (use these, these, or these for inspiration)

A tea kettle. I always made my tea in the microwave (all the hard core tea drinkers are gasping in horror right now), until John got me a tea kettle for Christmas. I won’t say it changed the way I drink tea, but it is adorable and nice to have.

Loose leaf tea/infuser (I love this robot infuser and want him for myself!)

Tea brewing system. John got me this Tea Forte tea brewing system for Christmas, and I love it. It’s a really convenient way to make loose leaf tea!

For the Wine Aficionado 

Wine glass charms (How stinking cute are these? I am seriously in love with them.)

Stainless steel wine glasses. Summer is upon us after all, and summer is the season for picnics, outdoor concerts, and camping. While I am not above drinking wine out of a Dixie cup, every now and then it’s nice to look cool and classy, no?

In-bottle aerator. You know, if you care about things like “letting wine breathe” instead of just immediately chugging it out of the bottle. Oh, is that just me? Never-mind then.

For the Foodie

Spiral Vegetable Slicer. Making your veggies look like pasta is ALL THE RAGE on Pinterest right now, y’all.

My Family Cookbook. Better than a box of recipe cards.

For the Stylish Mama

Fun jewelry! Not necessarily even nice jewelry, just something fun, like a cool statement necklace or chunky bracelet.

Birthstone earrings. Especially good if she already has a pendant or ring with your kid’s or your birthstone.

A cute clutch (pair it with an invitation for a fun night out if this is given to your wife, hint hint)

A subscription to Stitch Fix (I haven used this for myself, but I really want to, and I have heard great things about it. You could also do BirchBox or Ipsy if makeup is more her bag).

For the Artsy-Fartsy Mama

Fun, original artwork. Etsy is a great place to go for stuff like this! I myself am partial to this, this, and this.

DIY something with your kids. Pinterest is filled with easy crafts to do.

For the music lovin’ mama:

CDs. Does anyone actually buy CDs anymore? If she has a band she buys all the singles on iTunes for, get her a few of their CDs, especially if they have older stuff she doesn’t know. Or rebuy some of her favorite CDs from high school or college, especially if it’s band you both loved and the songs have significance.

Cool old vinyl

Make a mix tape! Fill it with songs that mean things to her, to you, to you both, and to your kids.

For the Nerdy Mama (I told you I would have something for everyone)

Harry Potter nerds: This, this, or this, all awesome.

Doctor Who nerd. I never was able to get into Doctor Who, but even I still find this, this, and this cool.

Supernatural nerds. If you can’t get Jensen or Jared to make a personal appearance at her house, this or this is a good consolation prize.

Random things from around the Internet that I think are cool

Because who doesn’t love cheeky embroidery. I would want any of these in my house.

Personalize your voice sound wave. This is just plain awesome.

I feel like even a brown thumb like me could handle the moss in this adorable, recycled wine bottle terrarium.

Beach lover? Then she needs this!

If you are willing to spend the big bucks, this “A History of Existing Life” framed print is awesome.

These engraved, stackable rings are beautiful, but again, cost a lot of money.

My favorite online places for gifts: Etsy, Amazon, and Uncommon Goods. Sale sites like Zulily, One Kings Lane, and Rue La La are also great, but products often have short shelf lives and long shipping times, thus requires forethought.

Also a good idea: Hire a photographer for a family session, and whip up a cool gift certificate (this is pretty easy in almost any desktop publishing software, and there are plenty of free templates online). Most moms wish they had more pictures of them with their kids. I for one am always saying we need to do a family portrait session, but never seem to get around to doing it. Bonus: Everyone knows at least one budding photographer that needs material for a portfolio, so you can even do it on the cheap.

And don’t discount the power behind homemade cards and breakfast in bed, either!

#worldstoughestjob

Click for source

Click for source

So, I’m late to the party, as per usual, but I finally watched the #worldstoughestjob video that has gone viral. I watched it at work, which was both stupid and smart.

It was stupid because it made me cry, and I didn’t wear waterproof mascara today.

It was smart, because I really needed to watch it.

I wrote about my current trouble at work a few weeks ago. Things aren’t getting any better (if possible, they are getting worse).  I have been feeling pretty worthless. Watching this video reminded me that I am so much more than an employee. I am Amelia’s mom. That’s the best job in the world, and it pays dividends over anything else I could possibly get, ever. Even if the pay is actually $0.

It made me realize if they can post a fake job description describing motherhood as the toughest job in the world, I should put it on my resume. After birthing a child and taking care of a newborn, infant, and now toddler, I definitely feel like I can handle any other job.

Employers often view motherhood as a detriment to a potential/current employee. Probably because they think you’ll be calling off every other day for an ill child, or so I’m told. I’ve found the fact that I need a traditional 8-5 schedule to be an issue for a lot of employers. Whatever. I guarantee there is nothing any job could put me under that is more difficult than my true “fulltime job”. Plus, my “associate” is awesome and thinks I’m a rock star, which is more than any other job could ever do.

Potential employers, hire a mom (and if you’re in the Indy area, hire this mom). You’ll be thankful you did when you need a band-aid or an afternoon snack. I promise.

A different way of dealing with things

It’s Friday! I don’t know about you, but it has been a long week over here. Since my last post, I’ve been working hard trying to focus more on the positive in an effort to reduce stress. And I’ve been told you “get what you put out there.” It’s hard for me, because “positive” is not my default. Generally speaking, I am not a very optimistic person. Which is sad, because my life is awesome, but I let myself get caught up in the less favorable parts of it often.

Whenever I find myself getting stressed out by one of these things, I’ve been told to think about how its presence in my life is actually something to be thankful for. It’s basically an exercise in being grateful. It’s also a good reminder to make the best of whatever situation God has put you in.

This hedgehog knows what's up.

This hedgehog knows what’s up.

I had “a moment” at work today, and I spent a few minutes doing some light journaling about the things that were stressing me out and why I should actually be thankful for them. For instance:

My job: Nothing stresses me out more than my job. But I have a job, and at least I have an income and health insurance until I am able to find something that is a better fit for me and my family.

Daycare: I spend an inordinate amount of time feeling totally guilty for sending my child to daycare. And writing the check each week is painful. But A is thriving at her school. She loves her teachers, and they adore her. She is learning so much and doing really well there.

My student loan: Of all the expenses I have, the one that annoys me the most is my student loan payment. It physically hurts me to pay it each month. The past couple months, I’ve started to regret my decision to get my master’s. But, what’s done is done, and no matter what happens, I have a really great education, which is a luxury not everyone gets, and it’s something no one can take away from me.

Bills, bills, bills: Who doesn’t hate bills? But, having them means I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, clothes on my back, and I can provide everything I need for my child.

Being alone most of the time: John’s job has him out of town a lot, which means I am on my own with A 90% of the time. This is really hard, and it’s super easy to get sad about. But, he is following his dream and building a future for our family.

It’s helpful to look at these things in a different perspective. Because really, letting those negative emotions run my life isn’t helping. The things that trigger anxiety aren’t going anywhere, so it’s better to process them in a healthy way. Plus, it’s exhausting to cry more than twice a week.

In other news, A turned 18 months old last week, which is just crazy. I am hoping to have a post dedicated to her year and half old self up soon, if she ever let’s me take pictures of her. Toddlers, man, they have a mind of their own.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Where I’ve been

So, it’s been a few weeks (three, to be exact) since I’ve blogged. It’s not because I’ve forgotten, or haven’t had things to write about, because every day when I get home from work, I think to myself, “I should blog…I need to write…I have to write…” And I often find myself thinking, “This will make a great post…I can’t wait to write about this.”

And then, for the past three weeks, I haven’t.

I don’t really have an excuse other than pure exhaustion and what I believe has been a bad case of the winter blahs. I just haven’t had the energy to summon up a coherent thought. If I’m being entirely honest, a lot of this has to do with my job right now. To be frank, my work situation isn’t great. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve cried at work the last few weeks. I’m not an expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s a sign something is not right.

It’s carrying over a lot of stress and anxiety into my personal life. I’ve always been prone to stress and anxiety, so this level of stress on top of daily life stress, is really affecting everything rather negatively. It’s hurting me, my family, and my ability to be a productive member of society. I’m starting to think maybe I should talk to someone about it.

I have always been independent, almost to a fault. I don’t like asking for help. I don’t like feeling like I can’t do it by myself. I don’t like not being able to fix the problem by myself. It’s hard to admit when you can no longer do something on your own. It’s hard to admit something is not working, especially when you so desperately wanted it to work, and thus feel like a failure. It’s hard to open your heart and soul to friends, family, and strangers on the Internet. It’s hard to change. But the hardest thing, I think, would be to continue to live in unhappiness because I was too proud to ask for help.

Life is balancing act, and unfortunately I’ve never been very coordinated. Bear with me while I learn to balance better.

Baby talk

When A was born, I swore I wasn’t going to be the parent that worried about when my kid did anything. As long as her doctor was okay with her development, I would be too. So far, for the most part, I’ve done pretty well at this. Believe me, though, it hasn’t been easy. Man, parents can sure be petty braggarts, can’t they?

“Oh she’s not crawling? Little Bobby started crawling at three months old!”

“She hasn’t started feeding herself? Susie has been using a fork and spoon since we started solids.”

“You mean you haven’t even introduced her to the potty yet?”

Most of it is silly, and I don’t really care. When it came to gross motor skills, A has been consistently average. She rolled over at five months, crawled around 10 months, and walked around 13-14 months. She’s also always been small for her age, so I figured that had something to do with not making the early adopter marks.

There is one thing, though, that has had me mildly concerned the past couple months, and that’s how few words A is saying. She “talks” a lot, as in vocalizes, but she isn’t putting sounds together sounds to make words. At least words that I can decipher, anyway. She says “da da” and “ma ma” but usually in long strings of syllables, as in “da da da da” or “ma ma ma ma,” which she does with most consonants, and I’m not 100% sure she is saying them with meaning attached (although I know she knows who we are).

Truthfully, most of the time I have zero idea what she is saying (she knows exactly what she is saying though, and she says it with real conviction, let me tell ya). I just kind of go along with it. I make it a point to speak slowly and tell her what everything she’s interacting with is. The other night she had pulled her socks off and was carrying them around, and I must have said “socks, you have your socks” fifty billion times.

I know she comprehends what we say because if we tell her to do something, most of the time she will do it. In face that night when I asked her where socks go, she tried to put them on her feet. She gets it, she just can’t say it. She can’t say no, but she will shake her head when she doesn’t want to do something. “A , can I have a kiss?” *emphatically shakes head*

Honestly, I  only had a passing concern a couple weeks ago that maybe it was something I should talk about, at her next well baby visit, if you know, it was still going on then. Until this weekend, when we went to one of her little friend’s birthday parties. I noticed there may be a bigger difference in her and other kids her age than I thought. There was another little girl there the same age as A. Not only was she physically bigger than A, but she was much more vocal. Ironically, she has the same name as A and was born five days after her, so they are very close in age. She was talking a lot, and very clearly had what I think would be an expansive vocabulary for a 16 month old. Granted I am not an expert, but still, all of these things led me to believe she was at least 18 months old, maybe even closer to two, so imagine when my surprise when she is the same age as my child.

It was also during this time I realized how much more reserved A is than other toddlers her age. Where the other kids (between 12 and 16 months) were playing with toys and interacting in the same general vicinity of each other, mine wanted nothing to do with any of it. In fact, she went in the opposite direction of the toys and the play, preferring to romp around the near empty kitchen. Eventually, I got her to go into the play area with me, and she was glued to lap for a good half an hour. It wasn’t until a couple of the kids and most of the adults at the party had left before she finally ventured off my lap and started playing.

Clearly, she is shy, which isn’t a bad thing. I was shy as a kid. Hell, I still am shy. She could be introverted, and there is nothing wrong with these things. It was the first time I was able to watch her with other kids her age, since in the mornings at daycare she is eating, and by the time I get her she is over tired and ready to melt down. It just wasn’t something I noticed until she was around very boisterous kids her age.

Which is not to say A isn’t boisterous, she is, just usually only when she is at home, with us. And granted, there were a lot of things about this weekend that may have caused her to withdraw and be quiet. Just like gross motor skills, verbal communication doesn’t happen at the same age for every toddler. She has a lot working towards her being later in talking. She’s the first child; there is no older sibling to teach her to talk. She’s in a daycare, so she interacts (I’m assuming she isn’t completely antisocial at daycare, at least I hope not) with kids the same age as her with varying levels of verbal communication skills. I’m sure they all understand each other perfectly and are plotting world domination. Totally possible. Probable even.

So for right now, I’m not going to worry about her speech too much, but I am going to keep an ear on it, and maybe ask daycare to as well, and bring it up with her doctor at her next well baby visit. And until I’m told otherwise, I’m going to enjoy her sweet little babbling, because as long as she isn’t saying real worlds, she’s not mimicking all of the bad words Mommy accidently says. Oops.

Gratefulness

Happy Thanksgiving! You know, I don’t do the 30 days of Thanks thing on Facebook, because I don’t really care to post that much on Facebook, but I did want to take a moment today to count my numerous blessings.

I am thankful for our families. They have been extraordinarily supportive of us every step of the way, especially during our move this year. I am grateful for their endless love and guidance. I am especially thankful for A’s grandparents. John and I are extremely lucky our little girl has such loving grandparents, and we’re very lucky to have the amazing parents we have. It warms my heart to think how much our little girl is loved by everyone around her.

I am thankful for my husband, who puts up with me no matter how whiny and annoying I can get, which is pretty whiny and annoying. I am grateful for his patience, his love, and his positive spirit. I am especially thankful I married the only man who is able to make me laugh and smile even when I’m my maddest, even if that trait annoys me from time to time.

I am thankful for our friends, both old and new. We’re lucky to be surrounded my such great people, both close and far in proximity. I’m grateful for all of the new friends A is making, too.

I am thankful for all the career opportunities we have now and will have in the future. I’m extremely grateful we both have stable jobs in an unstable career climate.

I am thankful for the house we call home. I am especially thankful for the working heater this Thanksgiving, since it is freaking cold here (the coldest Thanksgiving in almost a decade in Indy, apparently).

I am thankful for our new city and our new state. It was no secret that I was not super excited about moving to Indiana. It’s not a state I ever saw myself living in, but Indiana and Hoosiers have been some of the nicest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. We’re finally really settling in here, and it’s really starting to feel like home. Dare I say it, I am grateful to live here. It’s a beautiful state, a beautiful city, with some beautiful people.

I am thankful for the food in my fridge and pantry. I’m grateful I’m able to feed my family this Thanksgiving, our first Thanksgiving on our own, just the three of us. We’re going to have a modest little meal (the classic Thanksgiving meal, but scaled down, and with a few substitutions), but I’m thankful for my cooking ability to prepare it.

I am thankful for you! I started this blog as a way to document my journey through pregnancy and parenthood, and while I hoped people would read it and laugh or smile or commiserate, I never expected it. I am so incredibly grateful for every like, every comment, every view. Y’all are the best. I love each and every single one of you.

Mostly though, I am thankful for this little girl, who lights my world up with love every single day. photo (73)