What You Missed

I’m back, y’all!

Well, I survived my month of social media blackout.  Actually, I would say I more than survived.  I thrived.  A friend actually had to remind me that it’s August and the end of my hiatus.  I will be posting later this week about my social media-less month, but for now, I’ll just fill you in on what you missed while I was gone.

*I got a huge promotion at work.  Having just gotten a promotion last fall, it initially felt a little too good to be true, but I’ve been lucky in that some really good opportunities have opened up at the right times for me.  I’m really excited about my new role and think it will be a great path for me.

*My family visited during 4th of July weekend and it was great that they got to have some quality time with L.  My dreams of us sitting quietly and enjoying the fireworks as a family were dashed when L decided she wanted to chase after the fireworks instead (in turn, JD and I ended up chasing after her the whole time).

*We have continued to soak up summer and JD’s light duty schedule by doing things “normal families” do.  We’ve been able to go to brunch on the weekends, go to a nearby lake for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the sand, visit the playground, go on some low key hikes, and even squeeze in a few days where we did nothing  but sit on the couch and have movie marathons (ah, the gloriousness of being totally lazy).

*I started seeing a chiropractor because, as it turns out, carrying a person in your belly for 9 months can really jack up your back.  It’s amazing how much that goes on in your body is actually caused by misalignment in your spine.  Chiropractors are highly underrated.

*L’s new favorite thing is pooping in the bath.  I want it to be funny, but it’s actually quite irritating.  I spend a lot more time than I like to admit scooping turds out of the tub.  As if to make up for this, she’s gotten really good at giving hugs and even said “Wuv you” the other day.  Melt.  My.  Heart.

So, there you have it.  Our glamorous, riveting life.  Aren’t you sad you’ve been missing all of this? 🙂

Transition to Daycare

L has officially been at the new daycare for a week and a half and it’s been going relatively well. It’s still an adjustment for both of us, but I think we’re doing okay.

The weekend before she started, I was REALLY nervous about her first day. Obviously, I was happy and comfortable with the place I chose (otherwise I wouldn’t have picked it), but the transition was making me nervous. For a year, I was taking L to the same person (K) every morning; I was leaving her in someone’s home, an environment that felt intimate and nurturing. K and I had a mutual trust, and L’s smile when I dropped her off always assured me that she was safe and happy.

As much as I liked the new daycare, the teachers, and their philosophies when I toured, there was something intimidating and almost chaotic about the preschool classrooms to me. Her class is small- no more than 10 kids for her age group (and 2 teachers to corral them), but walking in there made me want to cry. Like I was going to be dumping her off, left behind to be just another being in a sea of children.

But beneath my insecurities and fears, I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing. L is a bright, curious, intelligent and social kid. Mom instincts told me she would thrive with the additional stimulation that a daycare center would provide. She is also easygoing and adaptable, so the change wouldn’t be too rough on her.

There have been some tears at drop-off, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s hard to hand her off to the teacher when she’s crying, shaking her head no, and reaching for me (kids have a funny way of making you feel like the worst parent ever), but the teachers have assured me (repeatedly) that as soon as I’m out the door, she’s done crying (I have confirmed that it does get quiet once I’m out of sight), and that overall she’s transitioning better than average and is happy to play outside, read stories, and make new friends during the day.

I don’t think either of us are fully comfortable with our new routine yet, but we’re getting there. In the meantime, I just have to trust my instincts and know that I did what’s best for her.

Upheaval

There is one word that comes to mind when I think of the past week. Upheaval.

The weekend started out fantastically. It was JD’s weekend off and his first weekend back on a day schedule for the month. We grilled out with our neighbors Friday and kicked off the weekend with drinks and plenty of laughs. Saturday morning L slept in till 9- 9!!!– and we went out for breakfast as a family. We had the whole weekend ahead of us- sunny skies, warm weather, and no plans. I was giddy with possibilities.

But it was all downhill from there.

JD went to the opening of a new skatepark in the area. BMX is one of his many hobbies, although he hasn’t done it in quite some time, so he was really excited for a local park to open up and get some riding in.

A couple of hours later, I got The Call.

“Don’t be mad,” he said as soon as I answered.

I immediately knew. I’ve been married to JD for 5 years. I’m quite familiar with The Call.

“You hurt yourself.”  (It was a statement, not a question.)

“I dislocated my shoulder,” he specified.

Saturday afternoon was spent at the ER, then JD followed up with an orthopedist on Monday. I had held out hope that surgery wouldn’t be necessary, but talking with the orthopedist made it clear that was the way to go. He’d torn ligaments and JD’s job depends on him being physically active and strong; we couldn’t risk him not healing correctly or fully, so we went ahead and scheduled surgery for Wednesday.

I was already feeling tired and vulnerable when I picked L up after work Monday. Unfortunately, the babysitter had another bomb for me.

“So, I have some bad news,” she began.

I immediately knew. What other news it could it be? What other news could she possibly share with me that would be considered bad? I could already feel the tears welling up.

She confirmed my fears when she said, “We’re moving.”

The tears came. She jumped up and hugged me. I assured her I was happy for her (her hubby got a job with the Sherriff’s department on the coast- how could I not be happy for a fellow LEOW?) but those tears had been building up for days, and I had just reached my breaking point.

When I drop L off in the mornings, I’m entrusting a piece of my heart to someone else. K has watched L for just over a year, and to lose her, the trust we’ve developed and, most importantly, the relationship L has with her, is almost unbearable.

As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I’m not Superwoman. These few days were overwhelming for me, but the good cry I had Monday night helped me take a deep breath and just move forward.

I started researching daycare centers in the area. As much as we’ve loved having L in an in-home daycare, she is transitioning to toddler, walking all over, exploring her world, talking more and more, and ready for more social interaction. I found a local daycare center I’m actually really excited about, and plan to visit in the next few days.

JD’s surgery this morning went well and he’s now on the road to recovery. It will be a long, tough journey.  Once he’s back at work, he’ll be off patrol and assigned to light duty somewhere (his worst nightmare). He can’t lift or hold L for at least 6 weeks, and he’s under strict instructions to avoid combat sports for 6 months (his other worst nightmare).  He does what little he can at home, but without use of his right arm, that’s not much. Poor little L doesn’t understand what’s up or why daddy can’t pick her up, which is hard on everyone.

The silver lining to these situations always seems to be the friends and family that step in and offer to help.  Many have offered to watch L, and David’s grandma stepped in last minute to pick her up at the ER Saturday afternoon then took her overnight last night since JD’s surgery was so early in the morning. We had a friend who let us borrow a recliner so JD could sleep comfortably (sleeping in bed is out of the question) and another friend who picked up the recliner and delivered it in his truck. Where we would be without these people, I’m not sure, but I can tell you we’re forever grateful for caring people who go out of their way to help out.

For me, I guess my new motto is, “Just keep swimming.”

 

Favorite Mommy/Daddy Parenting Moments

We have approximately 345,872 pictures of L.   From sleeping to eating to sitting in a Bumbo, everything your child does (especially your first child) is fascinating.  But when I look back through the pictures we have, some of my favorites are the ones that capture those mommy or daddy moments.  They are somewhat hard to come by, because half of the time we spend with L is not spent with each other, which probably makes them even more precious.

This is the first time I held her and the first time I really got to see her.  I couldn’t believe she had arrived, and I couldn’t believe she was ours.  She was beautiful and perfect and I could have sat right there holding her forever.

526533_10151329126286630_623289554_n

The early days.  I loved when she would just lay and nap with me.

IMG_0855

Love this pic for a few reasons.  1. It captures a rare moment when she wasn’t in a good mood, which I find kind of amusing 2. Look at that costume- adorable  3. I think I managed to coordinate us quite nicely 🙂

IMG_1572

I got this one by accident, and it turned into one of my faves.  It was post-bath and we were making funny faces in the mirror.  I grabbed my phone to try to capture the moment, but right before I took the pic, she turned and nuzzled her face into mine. ❤

IMG_2195

She has always loved books, and I love snuggling and reading her a story.  My sister took this one as I’m reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which just so happened to be one of her favorite stories, making it extra special.

IMG_2269

L reached walking age right before the weather started to warm up, making it the perfect time to introduce her to playgrounds.  I love setting her down and giving her the freedom to explore her world.

IMG_2219

She can’t get enough of the slide.  This is one of the times I actually don’t mind JD’s weird schedule.  We went to the park after he’d left for work.  Most people were home for dinner so it wasn’t overcrowded and we got some quality mommy-daughter time.

IMG_2377

 

 

This was the first time JD held her.  The fact that he is in uniform reminds me how he was on duty and had to race home to get me then race both of us to the hospital.  The look on his face reminds me how excited he was to finally meet her.

528917_10151324702951630_1099643994_n

Absolutely smitten.  Bonding time while listening to Jack Johnson.

IMG_0725

Love that smile- and it melts my heart to see how much they love each other.

935689_804458551859_584562208_n

This captures how a big, tough guy’s guy is always a sucker for a sweet little girl.

IMG_1097

 Manly man pulling a little sweetie in a little red wagon.

IMG_2259

In this one, L is watching JD leave for work and yelling “Dada!” out the window.  He said he turned around and all he could see were her little pigtails over the windowsill and his heart broke a little.  He had a hard time leaving for work that night 🙂

IMG_2376

Rock Star Status – Working Moms Do It All

It’s no secret that life as a working mom can be frustrating (I’ve blogged about that a time or two), but there are also days that are completely gratifying.  Those are the days I feel like a superwoman, where I feel like I rocked my job, I rocked my home life, and I want to run to the top of a mountain, throw my hands up in the air and yell “I CAN do it all!”

Yes, this thought has actually crossed my mind.

There are a lot of times where the balance doesn’t feel quite right- I feel like I’m either slacking at work or slacking at home.  But sometimes… everything just falls into place and I feel like I’ve hit the perfect balance.

I’m having one of those days.  Actually, I’m having one of those weeks.

JD worked night shift all weekend?  No problem.  L and I rocked Home Depot and the grocery store Saturday morning.  When L started to get cranky part way through our grocery shopping, I reinvigorated her with a snack, and both of us made it through our morning of errands without a meltdown.

Swimsuit season coming up?  On it.  I somehow have the time and the energy for the gym and have gotten in some killer workouts.

Relying on my hubby to get yard work done?  Nope, independent woman right here, folks.  While JD’s grandma watched L on Sunday,  I did the planting, mulching, and weeding by myself.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I did need my trusty hubby to get the mower started- but I blame our mower, not my lack of womanly independence).

And I didn’t stop there.

This mama still knows how to kick butt at work.  Did I give a presentation to one of our Executive VP’s this week?  Yes, yes I did.  Did I nail it?  According to the director, I did.

And in the midst of all this, L is still there, smiling, laughing, finding the greatest joy in the simplest things, like a balloon or pretending to offer an orange slice to me before sticking it in her own mouth and laughing.  She is the one who reminds me to stop, take it all in, and cherish those quiet moments- those moments where the only thing I’m “getting done” is watching my little one grow.  Those moments where she asks me to read Goodnight Moon three times in a row and where I see her little mind churning as we work through her number puzzle.

I am many things- a wife, a career woman, a landscaper- I do it all, but my most important role will always be mom.

Anniversary of My Return to Work

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of my return to work.  Although JD stayed home with L for those first few weeks back, this anniversary does make me think about what it was like to leave L with the babysitter for the first time.  (Side note: I’m not sure what’s with all this nostalgia lately).  Here’s the post I wrote (on my old blog) detailing my first day back…

 

7:00am: While feeding the baby, I notice a small red mark on her neck. It’s probably irritation from dried milk, but I’m tempted to call it a “big rash” and stay home with her for the day… or forever.

7:30am: Arrive at the babysitter’s house with 2 big bags of stuff. Wonder whether I compulsively over-packed like I always do, or if I’m just an organized and prepared mom. The babysitter greets Loralai excitedly and Loralai smiles back. I’m reassured that we picked the right caregiver for our love.

7:35am: I tear myself away as K (the babysitter) promises to text me pics throughout the day. I get in the car and pull away, determined to be a strong mama and not cry, but my heart aches. It’s like leaving a piece of my heart with a stranger.

8:00am: Arrive at work and give myself a pat on the back for getting both of us ready and out the door on time on my first attempt. Am slightly surprised when my co-workers don’t throw confetti to celebrate my punctuality.

8:05am: Wonder why K hasn’t already sent pictures. I mean, it’s been a half hour.

8:30am: Missing L like crazy. Realizing that this is even harder than when I first started work and left her at home with JD. Send my mom a sad text.

9:21am: Receive first pic from K. L is happily snuggled in the car seat taking a nap while K drives her daughter to school. Glad to see she’s not freaking out and that I’m not missing anything other than nap time at the moment.

12:10pm: Receive a video from K of L cooing. Miss her.

2:15pm: Pull up Google maps to determine fastest route to babysitter’s house. Determined to find a better way than this morning. I want to pick up my baby ASAP.

3:00pm: Receive another picture of L napping. Notice she’s wearing a different onesie than this morning. K informs me she had a diaper explosion. That makes me laugh. Our sweet L just had to break in the new babysitter right away!

4:00pm: Wonder if this day could get any longer.

4:29pm: Leave for the day. Am tempted to run down to my car but refrain myself. This is still a professional environment, after all.

4:45pm: Curse traffic. Also, stoplights. The afternoon commute seems infinitely longer than the morning commute.

5:00pm: L is still napping. K is talking quietly so she doesn’t wake her up. I don’t care, because I’m picking up my baby and giving her a huge kiss. L stretches but doesn’t fuss. I get a groggy half smile.

We head home, and suddenly nothing else matters.

Tears, Returning to Work, and Life as a Working Mom

Ever since having L, I associate different times of the year with my pregnancy or with the different stages of her first year.  This time of year marks my final days of maternity leave and my preparations to return to work.  It was, undoubtedly, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life.  I still remember the dark cloud that hung over me in those final weeks of leave.  I looked at my tiny little peanut who was changing by the minute, and knew, with overwhelming sadness, that I would be missing so much by returning to work.

Whether watching her play happily on her playmat or quietly holding her, memorizing her face, there was always, always the backdrop of sadness.

With tears streaming down my face, I thought, 10 weeks is not enough. It’s not even close to being enough.

Fortunately, JD was able to stay home with her during the first 4 weeks I was back at work.  It made the transition infinitely easier, but when I think back on those 10 weeks I had at home with her, I feel almost like I’m grieving something that I can’t ever have back.

The first few months back at work were hard.  I wanted to walk out the door and quit nearly every day, not because of work itself, but because it seemed dumb to be spending so many hours away from L instead of cherishing every second of watching her grow.  I gazed out the window and saw women with jogging strollers enjoying the morning sun.  I envied them.  I hated them.  I browsed real estate sites for houses out in the country, scheming for ways we could live off one income.

But, in time, that morning daycare dropoff became routine and I found my stride at work again.  I’m thankful to have a good job, especially when so many others out there are struggling.  I’m glad to have something that stimulates me, and I know that the time outside of the house spending time with other caregivers and kiddos is actually really good for L.

I still get a pang of jealousy when I watch a mom leisurely strolling down the street, or when a friend posts pics from a museum or a playground on a weekday, but I know in my heart, that is not my path, even if I will forever have mixed feelings about it.

I’m a working mom.  I love it.  I hate it.  I do it because I truly believe it’s the best decision I could have made for my family.

Thursday Tip- Teething Remedies

TeethingRemedies

As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, Loralai’s recent battle with teething has been hard… on everyone in the family.  There’s a lot of suggestions out there for teething remedies, and at this point, we’ve tried nearly all of them.  Of course, things that work great for one kiddo may not for another, but here is a wide variety of options, all in one place.  Good luck!

1. Hylands Teething Tablets: Probably one of the most useful things we’ve tried.  She loves them, they seem to help, they dissolve quickly on her tongue, and they’re homeopathic (hippie-tastic)!  These things are gold in tablet form.

2. Baby Orajel Naturals: I originally stayed away from Baby Orajel after I read about the risks of giving products that contain Benzocaine to babies.  However, I later found out that the Naturals version does NOT have Benzocaine in it, and it seems to help.

3. Amber teething necklace: Part-time and full-fledged hippie moms alike swear by these.  These  are NOT for chewing- there are oils in the amber that are absorbed by the skin and offer natural pain relief.  Plus, I get a lot of compliments on her “cute” necklace (of course, once I excitedly explain about the magic hippie beads, people seem sorry they brought it up).  To some, this may too new-age (and a little far-fetched), but I swear the worst days she’s had have been when she didn’t have the necklace on.

There are a ton of options on Etsy; I ordered ours from this shop.  Some parents worry about the necklaces being a choking hazard- this is where you just have to do what feels right for you.  Ours is very well-made and I’ve never worried about it falling apart or L being in any danger.

4. Baby Ibuprofen/Tylenol: These days, it seems that people are one extreme or the other when it comes to medication.  I’m only part-hippie.  While I don’t want to overmedicate, I do think that medicine is going to help more than hurt if she’s absolutely inconsolable.  I can’t blame her either- sometimes you just need the good stuff.

5. Castor oil: Mix a drop of this with a tablespoon of carrier oil (such as olive or almond oil) and rub on your baby’s gums.  I swear it works better and more quickly than the Orajel.  The one thing you have to be careful is that you dilute it, and when you dilute it, you have to use a carrier oil and not water.  Test on yourself first to make sure it’s not too strong and will irritate your little one’s mouth!

6. Frozen teethers: Not such a hit with her.  I think she doesn’t like that when she holds them, her hands get cold too.  I can’t really blame her for that.

7. Frozen peas/crushed ice: The frozen peas were recommended by my mother-in-law.  Because they’re frozen, they feel good on her gums (without making her hands cold like the frozen teethers), and once she gnaws on them a bit, they get mushy enough for her to swallow (though if you’re nervous about choking, a friend recommended crushed ice, which would melt).  The success rate for this has been about 50/50.  Sometimes it seems  to give her relief, sometimes it only serves as a distraction.

Some moms also use mesh teethers and put a frozen strawberry or something in there.  The mesh part eliminates the choking hazard and most babies love the strawberry 🙂  

8. Distraction: as mentioned in Tuesday’s post, good, old-fashioned distraction works wonders. As long as she’s busy playing and having a good time, she doesn’t stop to think about her teeth, but watch out when you put her in the car seat to leave or get up off the floor to do something else.  Game. Over.

 

Some things I haven’t tried-

Sophie the Giraffe: This is a must have for a lot of moms, but I hesitated from buying one of these when I read a review where a mom reported that her baby rolled onto it and one of the legs jammed down his throat (he was fine, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop worrying about it if she had one).   I later found this version, which eliminates the worry with the legs, and I kind of wish we had one because I think L would probably love it.

Vibrating Teether: The vibration offers a gum massage, although every time I think of getting one, I get a vision of L with a confused, panicked look on her face.  If I come across one, I may try it sometime, but I haven’t gone out of my way to get one.

 

 

I’m Baaaack

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week and a half.  I haven’t been neglecting the blog- as you can see, it got a bit of a facelift!  So, what little free time I have has been devoted to more behind the scenes type stuff rather than posting.

The past few weeks have been full of ups and downs.  L is full-on teething and miserable.  It’s SO not like her to be so unhappy all the time.  We’ve tried various remedies, and some have worked better than others but we’ve found that one of the best ways to make her feel better is just to distract her.  Luckily, we’re finally starting to see a spring warm-up, and there have been a few gorgeous days perfect for venturing out to the playground.

She was hesitant at first, but soon she was up stairs, down slides, and back up slides again 🙂

IMG_2178

Little daredevil- she actually made it up this slide almost completely by herself.  I only gave her a small boost.

IMG_2200

She climbed the stairs to this slide and flipped her legs around and slid down all by herself.

IMG_2183

Drumming with dad

IMG_2214

No time to pose for pictures, she had some sliding to do.

IMG_2218

Happy baby was able to forget about that nasty teething pain for a while.

IMG_2219

Look for teething remedies in this week’s Thursday Tip!