Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Lovies

About a year or so ago, I seemed to have this idea that Emma had found her lifelong lovie, her Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal. For those that need a brief explanation, a “lovie” is a child’s favorite comfort item/ best friend/ go to thing that they must have everywhere with them at all times. So for a while, I thought we’d lucked out and Emma had picked a stuffed animal to see her through the good and bad times that was a universally loved character and would be easy to replace should tragedy strike. I feel like there’s a Winnie the Pooh bear at every toy store, drugstore, airport, and roadside stand so we would be safe if he was to get lost or ruined at any time. 

Well the months passed and Emma’s monogamous relationship with Winnie the Pooh evolved into an all-out love fest that included Mickey Mouse, Curious George, Goofy, the velveteen Rabbit, and several baby dolls. I thought we'd dodged a bullet, my child didn't seem to have a preference for any one single item so there was no need to worry about anything getting lost, or accidently thrown out, or covered in vomit, or run over by a Mac truck. We’re good. And things stayed the course for a long time until slowly a few key players seemed to always find their way into Emma’s bed and then they seemed to find their way out into the living room with her and even sometimes into the dreaded car. It should have clicked then for me that the same two things kept coming with us wherever we went but me and my motherly buffoonery did not notice anything happening. Until one night…

I was peacefully sleeping, which I am so thankful to get to do these days, when I heard a cry come from Emma’s room. I got up to see what was wrong, went into her room, and comforted her until she went back to sleep. The next morning, I asked her why she was crying last night (thinking it might be nightmares) and her response came flying at me like a ton of bricks… “I lost my baby and I was sad mommy and I cannot sleep without my baby!” In slow motion but all at once, my eyes popped out of my head and my jaw dropped to the floor. Storm clouds quickly gathered over our living room and I swore I heard O Fortuna streaming in the background. I was suddenly acutely aware that my sweet slumberful nights now depended on a 13 inch piece of cotton with a fleece pink dress and two yellow yarn braids coming out of a Paddington bear like pink hat! 

I knew which baby she meant. I had purposefully picked this baby to be the “sleep in bed only” baby doll as the rest were always covered in dirt and dog hair the minute they left Emma’s room. I always make sure she has a few things in her bed to snuggle and that doll was one of them and now all of a sudden, it had become a necessity. To give a brief background on this particular baby doll, it was given to Emma by her great grandmother probably when she was about 9 months old or so. It was the first baby doll she ever received and I was weary about it (gender stereotypes and all) but Emma loved it so we kept it.  I thought for sure it was a specialty doll or something random and obscure that we would never be able to replace but…

There she is in all her ready to be ordered glory! Thank you internet universe! After that first bad night, I found the original baby stuck between the bed and the wall so… crisis averted! We’ve had a few close calls when baby does happen to make it out to the car or the living room (which I have been giving in on more and more…) but for the most part, there have been no loses. Since the first night we discovered Emma’s sleep depended on a baby doll, she has woken up a handful of times crying because she cannot find baby but each time it’s a quick fix (baby likes to travel to the foot of the bed it seems.) So there you have it, lovie #1.

My eyes just darted up and I realize this has become a long post already and I haven’t even addressed the SECOND lovie. Yes, we have been blessed with not one, but two items my child cannot sleep without/ has to have with her everywhere. This second lovie might be even more important than the first, it’s Emma’ s blankie. If you dare misplace Emma’s blankie, a toddler tantrum vortex, the likes you have never seen before, will swallow you up and drag you down to the flaming hot gates of HELL! You know, no pressure. The story of the balnkie pretty much parallels the story of the baby doll, only I was more aware that she had a dependency on it, I was just in denial about it for whatever reason. This blankie is a green, thermal, Gerber baby blanket that seriously is NO LONGER MADE (well in green). Being clairvoyantly savvy before Emma was born, I had ordered three of them knowing what dangers lurk out there for wonderful blankets. One of the blankets didn’t make it through an unfortunate diaper explosion back in 2012. The other two, thank goodness, are intact and still around after all this time even though Emma has definitely out grown them, yet still insists on using only them as a source of warmth. Literally she refuses to use any other blanket at night and will end up with either her torso or her claves/ feet exposed. It is great having two since we always have one while the other gets washed but that means both are CRITICAL. It’s like a ying and yang balance that gets thrown off if either blanket goes missing. And one day, one did…

It was a Monday and Emma was upset she could not find her blanket to take to school with her (which is forbidden because we’ve lost a big box store’s worth of baby inventory at daycare so yeah I let her bring them in the car but no further.) After a long search, a meltdown that I don’t even want to replay in my mind to describe here, and several frantic phone calls to the hubs, I was sure it was lost forever (this is the day I found out they do not make the green one anymore, they have white or pink but um yeah not the same). Anyways we finally found blankie in the back of daddy’s car. At that point I made it crystal clear to the entire household that blankie was to NEVER leave the house under any circumstances and we’ve been fine since. 

I’m not sure if one really reigns supreme over the other. Both seem to have the same mesmerizing grip on her. In a way, I’m glad she has comfort items to turn to if things ever get rough. I just hope we never have to part with the originals. 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Halloween Recap

It is November already! Once again, we have a month ahead jam packed with birthdays, baptisms, days of materialistic wonder, and hopefully not too much eating but before I look ahead, I want to look back and recap our Halloween adventures.

It all started the weekend before last. We had an awesome time at a friend’s Halloween party. I mentioned before we were laboring on some pretty awesome handmade costumes for the event. This year instead of going as a family theme like last year, I made the decision to do something different for us and Emma. I sort of wished I went the full on homemade family costume route but there is always next year…

Our theme for this Halloween was Robin Williams’ characters. Since most of the characters he played are professor types or plainly dressed men, we decided to pick two of the most outlandish character costumes. And thus Rainbow Ralph from Death to Smootchie and the genie from Aladdin were created!



We had a great time putting the costumes together. I really enjoy using my hands to create and I was glad I mustered up the time and energy to follow through on the costume. It took me weeks, only working a few hours at a time, to finish the rainbow layers on jacket (it was a plain woman’s suit jacket I got from the thrift store). It’s hard to tell but I sprayed it with glitter to make it shinier and added the large white collar out of foam. I glued some sparkles onto the hat and added gloves, a purple shirt, and a yellow bow tie and there you have it!
 
For Thomas' costume, we got the shirt and pants from the thrift store. The blue thing on his head is a swim cap we got at Rei. I felt like we would get kicked out of the place by the granola eating hikers if they dared to find out we actually bought a swim cap with absolutely no intention of using it for sport (other than the sport of showing off our awesome costuming skills!) The hair coming out of the cap was from an old wig and the sash was left over from an old costume. The cuffs were made out of the left over foam from my jacket collar painted gold. 



And as for Emma…Well really all the guess work was taken out of her costume. The costume parade at school was a nightmare and after her meltdown (partially pictured above) I was worried about what would happen later but, she really enjoyed herself on Halloween night (btw those are NON organic fruit snacks I brought to the party...NOT any Pintrestie wonderfulness - score one for the working mom). Once she figured out trick or treating meant she was getting candy at each hous she was super excited. We went with some friends around their neighborhood and stuck mainly to the houses with lights and decorations. I’m not sure what Halloween etiquette is these days. Do people go to all the houses on the street? I felt more at easy going to the obviously decorated houses instead. We only hit a handful of houses but Emma still enjoyed herself and her candy afterwards. 






It was a really peaceful and fun evening without any major meltdowns or costume malfunctions. All in all a great success for Halloween 2014! Feel free to leave a link to your Halloween recaps in the comments!

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Formula for a “Do It All” Weekend

(I wrote this post last Monday.)


It’s Monday and as I sit here, fingers grazing over the keyboard letters, I find that my eyes are not in sync with the rest of my body. My eyes have a mind of their own. They want to stop functioning while the rest of my body numbly soldiers on, like a twitching nerve trying to remember the movements necessary for survival. This is slowly becoming my reality every Monday. Rather than beginning my week refreshed after a weekend sabbatical, I find myself looking around in a half conscious fog desperately seeking out when the jig will be up, when I will finally be able to rest and recharge rather than fall fast and hard onto any random object below….pillow, couch, bed, pile of clothes in the laundry basket, wadded up pile of stuffed animals on the floor, this key board….really there is no telling what I might pass out on. The long and short of it; I am currently suffering from weekend ware out. 

I recently read an article with a study that found working moms spend just as much time with their kids as stay at home moms because they “cut back on their sleep and leisurely activities.” While I agree with this for the most part, I’m not sure we spend more time with our kids than SAHMs and I know for a fact both working and SAHMs sacrifice sleep and leisurely activities. However, as a working mom I am acutely aware of exactly how much time I do have with my child and how much I need to get done on a consistent basis in order to get the maximum amount of time with my child. To do this, my weekends are formulated down to the minute with very little “free time” or room for something unplanned to come up (like when my mom called me because she locked her groceries in her trunk and needed Thomas to get them out. Eeek mom! No time for that! Call pop-a-lock! – note I would not have really left my mom in distress and her non perishables to spoil in the car but thank goodness my dad figured out how to resolve the problem.)

Now I will share with you exactly how my weekends are planned. The formula is the same, the activities change. Let’s start with the closing bell on Friday night (aka when Emma’s head hits the pillow) this is when savvy time management me will start the laundry (note: this rarely happens as my brain is already too mushy to handle anything other than staring at bad reality tv.) So here we have it:

Friday Night: ME TIME :)

Saturday Morning: Once Emma wakes up, it’s like the starting bell, gentlemen start your engines! The time to get sh*t done starts now:
-New routine of Emma going potty first thing in the morning (10-20 minutes - this is not an exaggerated estimate)
-Turn on Saturday morning cartoons/ fix slightly more complex breakfast than normal (aka instead of cereal in a baggie, cereal in a bowl with milk and a spoon – fancy)
- I now have one hour until the allotted amount of toddler screen time is up (read) my child’s tv attention span fades. Run and do laundry I should have started last night, clean a portion of the house.
- When yum yums and tv no longer captivate my two year old, throw her the old iPod (gets same distracted child results as an iPad but half the cost) to eat into 15 more minutes of approved screen time while simultaneously grabbing extra clothes, snacks, water, milk, wipes etc. in order to survive a planned outing.
- Load up the car to head off on said outing which can go on no longer than the 12:30 hour due to pre-nap crankiness. Run around after child at said activity until my out of shape self is exhausted.
- Load up the car again and sing loud off key Frozen songs to ensure the toddler does NOT fall asleep before getting home – this is a crucial key element to any weekend survival.
- Grab sleepy toddler and run into the house and hope they don’t come out of their groggy fog long enough to notice you have placed them in their crib for a nap.
 
Saturday Afternoon: Once again the bell goes off and I now have t-minus two hours and counting to finish cleaning the house (vacuum, change out the laundry, dishes, etc.) before nap time is over.
- At this point on Saturday hubs usually gets home from work.
- Hold myself up on the wall trying to not fall asleep from exhaustion to fix an after nap snack that I know will most likely be rejected.
- After another few minutes of tv so mom can sleep on the couch with her eyes open, it is time for the afternoon activity (this is usually more low key than the morning activity but designed to get the after nap energy out.)

Saturday Night: - After that comes dinner, brushing teeth, potty, bath and bed which is utterly exhausting (even with hubby tag teaming)

Much Later Saturday Night: ME TIME: Complete all crafting activities I could not do during the day (aka: make Halloween costumes/ try to keep up with the Pintrest Moms) - pass out shortly after from exhaustion

Sunday Morning:  See Saturday morning dashes one thru three only this time add an even more elaborate breakfast with bacon and eggs (pancakes if it’s a solar eclipse)
- Time to load up for a trip the grocery store/ running errands (this weekend it was getting Emma new shoes)
- Back home after errands for lunch/ nap / during 2 hour nap: more cleaning / preparing for Monday (laying clothes out, packing lunch etc.)

Sunday Afternoon:  After nap = afternoon fun activity

Sunday Night: Come home, dinner, night night routine, dread Monday, pass out watching more bad reality tv

That’s it in a nut shell, that’s how I do it. I cram it all into two days and then I actually rest during the week after Emma’s in bed (which could soon be taken over by a second job, but we shall see.) I know I’ve done one of these kind of posts before but I just needed to keep reminding myself of how I am using my time and how I can make the most of it. I need to spread out more tasks during the week so I can actually put my feet up on the weekends. I also want to let other working moms know it is possible to have quality time with your child. You just have to bust your ass to get everything else done while they are sleeping which sometimes is not possible, but I’m there with you and I’m exhausted and my house is a mess but guess what, I don’t care if yours is too. Why? This….
 

 Happy Monday all!

Monday, October 6, 2014

What We’ve Been Up to Lately and Other Revelations

Happy October to ya! We have been on the go all month long already, so much so, that I kept skipping over the weekend of the 18th like it doesn’t even exist. I guess I really just want my friend’s party on the 25th to get here! I have been working diligently on my homemade costume and hubs is working on his too! As you recall Emma has fallen into the Elsa costume trap but I’m cool with whatever makes her happy and hey, it saves me from making another costume (although for the record I would make her whatever costume she wanted cause making fun costumes is kinda my thing.)  Anywho onto our Fall adventures:

We went apple picking! And then I went apple baking!
 




Soccer has been going well…for the first ten minutes of each practice anyway. See that playground in the background...apparently that is more appealing to half the kids on the "team" as they end up over there more often than not. Last Saturday 3 of the 6 kids at practice decided to make a break for it and there was no turning back. Guess who was one of the kids...


Emma met her little cousin for the first time! She went from curious to excited to unsure (while mommy (me) was holding the baby) but I think ultimately she decided her cousin is cool. I cannot wait to see these two grow up together and go to teenybopper concerts and the mall together!



We went to a Fall Festival in the next town over where Emma and daddy had a blast on all of the bouncy equipment. If you look closely it looks like Emma has a momentary look of panic on her face but let me assure you she was very upset when she found out her turn was over.


Finally, we went to my friend’s farm for her birthday where Emma spent probably 3 hours straight running around their big open yard with her new friend Evan and two yellow labs (she called them both Bella of course.) 


 Besides just getting out and about for some fun, I’ve been a lot more productive since swearing off letting things out of my control get me down. I have been cleaning and reorganizing the house. We’ve done several “purges” so far, but the “great purge” is yet to come…the attic… I’m not even sure I can bring myself to take before pictures of the space, but if I am feeling particularly vulnerable then I will share them. Here’s a quick look at Emma’s “playroom” (aka our old dining room – if you are wondering this is how the space previously looked before the onslaught of toys) reorg. 



I am really working hard to enjoy and care for the space I have to call home at this point in my life. At the same time, our family is working hard to move forward in the grand scheme of things. Literal blood, sweat, and tears are going into our small successes and you know, sometimes that makes crossing the finish line that much sweeter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Halloween Costume Explanation

There she stood, on the crossroads of a decision that could ultimately decide a big chunk of her fate. The decision was either or, one or the other. An unmistakable line was drawn between one side and the other. One side sparkled, the other, held promise. It was her second time in this place. Confusion and desperation engulfed the time sensitive matter. Based on several factors, once the decision was made, there could be no going back. It was absolute. 

Have you found yourself in this situation? I sure have…it’s called the costume isle at the store.  You might recall from my earlier post that I have been enjoying gender neutral bliss with my child. The store however is designed to deconstruct my happily constructed gender neutrality. It’s a dangerous place.  Somewhere along the way, I realized that Emma is old enough to pick out her costume this year (after all she is certainly capable of voicing her opinion whenever she gets the chance.) So I  took her to the costume isle a few weeks back, picked up a few choice pieces, and “gently held them up for her to inspect” read: dislocated my shoulder from fist pumping colorful cloth around in the air like a fabric obsessed lunatic screaming “look at this one sweeeetie!” (This is how I roll through life so hopefully my kid can deal with it!) Emma was having none of it. In fact, she was more excited about not being strapped in her stroller which she celebrated by running off. The second time yielded similar results only instead of running off, she was more enamored with the Christmas displays (I knooooow). She grabbed a huge (expensive) fluffy white bear and was pretty pleased with herself for scoping out such a treasure. Thomas and I convinced her to put the bear “back with her family” on the shelf. So, a $40 impulse buy was diverted but we had no forward movement in the costume selection department. 

I kept asking Emma what she wanted to be but I didn’t get much of a tangible response. She would just kind of look at me sideways like I’m nuts (which, well duh) but still I needed some sort of answer! I finally came up with a costume theme for myself and Thomas this year so I racked my brain for something I thought Emma would enjoy wearing, like really enjoy. I want her to get that childhood skip in her step, that twinkle in her eye, that evil look of “if you dare think of taking this off me I will cut you” when she put son her costume. There were only two costumes I thought would meet all of those criteria. One was a dinosaur costume, one of her new favorite things, the other….an Elsa costume. Yes, yes I KNOW! the sparkliest dress ever. I seriously endured way more anxiety over the decision than was necessary. I knew if I chose the Elsa dress what I would be…an enabler….that before you know it I would be dressing Emma up for Toddlers in Tiaras, swigging go-go juice, and eventually shelling out 20 grand for a wedding dress like those crazy parents do on tv! <--this is how my anxieties play out in my mind if you were ever wondering. 

After much more debate and several hundred requests to watch Frozen over the past few weeks, I caved…my child will wear a Halloween costume this year with ZERO originality but I think she just might be ok with that.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Soccer Mom Part Deux



I know what you are thinking; you flipped through your mental rolodex to remember this little post. So what the heck am I doing back in soccer mom status? Well, all pushy type-A parenting aside, I actually just wanted a scheduled activity that made sure we got out of the house for something other than running errands on weekends. So far we’ve had 3 “practices” with varying results.

The first practice was a throw back to last year’s terrible experience. After about ten minutes, Emma made it clear that she was not happy. In fact, she threw a huge tantrum that lasted half of the day. I pulled her over to the sidelines for a few minutes after the start to see if she would calm down. I even promised ice cream…ICE CREAM people…nothing. When I realized this would not be short lived I packed up and thus started the week long dread for the following Saturday. This time around though Emma has a better understanding of things and I was able to talk with her over the course of the week to encourage her for the following Saturday. Well it turns out I came down with a cold and missed the next Saturday. Her dad took her and low and behold not only did they stay the whole time, she had fun and even followed directions! If you know any two year old that is huge. Now granted, daddy might have stretched the truth just a little bit but I knew I would find out when week 3 came around.

Last weekend finally came and what I saw was amazing and wonderful. Emma actually paid attention and had fun doing the activities. Granted she did lose interest a few times and we ended up leaving about ten minutes early but still, I was encouraged that she actually listen to the coach and kicked the ball around. I am hopeful that she will find at least one sport she enjoys since both her father and I were athletes. If she decides to be a book worm that is fine too but there is really something inclusive and fun about participating in sports (ok that’s it for my sports psa I promise). But I will be scouring the web for my soccer mom suv magnet so be warned :)

Here’s to hoping for a fun rest of the season and an equally successful round of gymnastics in the winter. I hope no matter what activities you have planned, that you and your family enjoy this fall season! I am making sure we get out as much as possible before dreaded winter takes over. 


Spectacular



I am doing this new thing where I throw all caution to the wind. You see I came to the realization that I was boxed in; or rather I had boxed myself in. After a long and difficult summer and generally living a life where I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, I seem to have slowly started shutting off my ability to accept and even seek out happiness. I’m a hard person to crack a smile to begin with but nothing this summer was penetrating my foreboding existence. This summer delivered quite a blow and the devastation just keeps on coming. 

I wasn’t able to share this earlier, but a lot of what caused my summer gloom and doom was financial loss. Here we were, set to take on the world, ready to buy a house and even dive into the early stages of planning to expand our family and suddenly we were hit with a major financial blow. It is very complicated and I really don’t want to hash out all of the grim details here, not to mention the long, complicated process is not over. I potentially have months of waiting and fighting and misery ahead of me.

After a few months of embracing the lowest of lows, I am ready to soar the highest of highs! This is my life damn it! I will not sit idly by and let the universe crush my dreams. I’m not new to the whole “bust my ass to get what I deserve” thing. So, I’m taking on extra work where I can (hey if you’re looking for some of my Pearly Words I am available for hire as a part-time writer/ editor!) More importantly, my family will be moving forward with the plans we had before the devastating news. We are going to hopefully find a house and possibly even look to expand! Yes, the struggle will be super real, in fact we will have to work like we’re in our 20s again but those were some of my best times.


More importantly from all of this, I am embracing the smallest bits of happiness I find. Suddenly events and announcements that seemed totally lackluster are exciting and full of possibility! I’m even letting myself laugh at those dry jokes on tv and avidly seeking out any small form of joy I can. I am loving and laughing and living my life. I want my life lived to be spectacular. Thank you for the inspiration Robin.
If you would like me to sum this up in musical form, here you go.