Just Call Me Gumby

Disclaimer: This post is going to be a venting session. Here it is, 3 1/2 months since my most recent post, and all I’m going to do is come here and complain. But this is my little space on the internet and my prerogative I guess. So here goes.

 
JD has been on a “normal” schedule for several months now and it has been blissful. I finally feel like we can be a full-time team with household and parenting duties. We cook dinner together, I go grocery shopping by myself(!) while he keeps L at home, I can count on him to pick up L from daycare when I have an appointment or have to work late, and I even get to sleep in sometimes on weekends. You know, normal things that become somewhat of a novelty when you’re married to someone who works non-traditional hours.   (Side note: I have no idea how parents with 2 unpredictable schedules do it).

So one evening, he comes home and tells me that he’s been put on a special project that will allow a small group of officers to focus on a specific problem area in the community. This in itself is great news- JD has felt for some time that something along these lines needed to happen and he is very excited to be included in it. I am happy for him because I know how much it means to him.

 
Of course, there is a catch. He goes on to tell me that he will be working different hours while on the project and will be transitioning to the new schedule in only a few days. Being a planner (and the administrator that keeps our household running smoothly), I immediately start asking questions. What would the hours be? What days would he be working? Would we know in advance? Would we be getting a schedule mapped out? My mind raced with all the things we had coming up, including 2 trips up north for a wedding and a graduation. We had counted on him having those weekends off. We had counted on him being off duty by 4pm so we wouldn’t be up all night driving.

 
He didn’t have those details yet. They were still being ironed out at that point, but he was under the impression that it would be a lot of night shifts. I didn’t say anything for a minute while I processed my frustration, then sighed, kissed him on the forehead, and told him I would do what needed to be done to accommodate his schedule.

 
Just call me Gumby.

 
As it turns out, the new schedule IS mostly nights and evenings, and while it’s not completely sporadic, it’s very difficult to track.  (Want to plan something with us a month from now?  Too bad, I have no idea if he’s working.)  Also, I anticipate it will change at some point- likely at the last minute. Regardless, I will be here to take care of L and manage whatever comes our way because that’s what I have to do. Being a LEO Wife means always coming second to the needs of the city and the whims of the department. When your spouse is assigned something, there are no other options. There is no opportunity to sit down and talk it over. No chance to weigh in on the impacts to your family life. (I can tell that the schedule change is starting to bother L. She sees him less on this schedule than she did on his regular patrol schedule and keeps asking where daddy is.) The demands of the police department make for an unbalanced family life. It gets old.

The real icing on the cake is that he can’t come home with me for my stepbrother’s wedding because he has to work that weekend now.  So I get to make the drive with L alone and I had to call my family last-minute and inform them that JD wouldn’t be coming.

The good news is, I’m not bitter about it.

Just kidding, I totally am.

 

Dear Loralai – 3 Years

Today is Loralai’s 3rd birthday!  She has been excited for her birthday ever since she finally realized Christmas was officially over.  Tonight, we’re celebrating by taking her out for a pancake dinner (her response to this was to throw her arms up in the air triumphantly and yell “yay pancakes!”…. my thoughts exactly, kiddo).  In keeping with my tradition, here is my annual letter to her.

 

Dear Loralai-

My favorite memory this year was taking you to the mountains on our first vacation “just the 3 of us” and it was such a perfect trip.  We had amazing weather and managed to strike a perfect balance between fun and relaxation. The highlight of the trip was our day at Tweetsie Amusement Park in Blowing Rock, NC.

You’d been excited to ride the train for weeks before the trip, so when we finally arrived and boarded the train, you were in heaven!  But, I was surprised to discover how much you loved the “big kid rides.” Once you had enjoyed the carousel and mini-airplanes, you started eyeing the tilt-a-whirl and ferris wheel.  You asked to ride them, and the mom in me hesitated. I was afraid you would get scared and it would ruin the day, but I wanted to let you try, and boy am I glad I did! I still remember you giggling on the ferris wheel and your gleeful yelling on the tilt-a-whirl.  I felt like a kid again, just seeing the joy on your face and hearing it in your voice. Mostly, I was proud of your fearlessness and admired the fact that you weren’t intimidated by anything. I certainly wouldn’t have done any of those things at your age!

To me, that trip really sums up this year. You are confident and assertive but joyful and effervescent. These are things I couldn’t have taught you- they’re just innately you. I’m proud of that, but also in awe of this little person I made, who came along with all these amazing qualities I didn’t have to teach her.

You are a little ray of sunshine and bring your dad and I so much joy. Waking up is easier when you gleefully announce “the sun is awake!” Errands are more fun when you’re excited for a ride in the “wagon” (shopping cart) or eager to help me by putting things on the belt at checkout. Daycare dropoff is a breeze because you’re always excited to go play with friends. You are cheerful and enthusiastic all the time.  We couldn’t have asked for a better kid.

So thanks.  Thanks for making the day-to-day fun, for bringing so much life and happiness to our little family, and for making our parenting journey so, so worth it.

Love you so much,

Mommy

 

 

 

Halloween and Life in the New Neighborhood

So, I’ve never been huge on Halloween, but it’s one of those events that has taken on new meaning since having a kiddo. Over the past few years, I’ve rediscovered the fun of dressing up and have had fun coordinating costumes with L. I’m trying to take advantage of it for as long as I can. I know there will be a time in the not so distant future where she’ll pick something I’ll have difficulty coordinating with… or worse, she won’t WANT me to coordinate with her. So, this year I took hers shopping and let her pick which costume she liked. She picked the bumble bee, so I naturally had to be the beekeeper. Fortunately for me, this was relatively easy (I like to coordinate, but I’m also lazy so I’m not the type to spend hours planning and crafting an outfit). I already had rain boots and a straw hat at home, so I ordered a painter’s suit and mosquito netting off Amazon (seriously, I have an Amazon problem… Prime has been worth every penny). Here is the end result:

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While this wasn’t L’s first Halloween, this was the first year we took her out Trick or Treating. We probably could have taken her last year, but she was just as content handing out candy, so we didn’t bother taking her around the neighborhood. Now that we’ve moved, there are a lot of families in our new neighborhood, including our neighbors who have 2 little boys around L’s age. So, we made plans with them and another one of our friends with 2 kids to go out together.

As suspected, L followed the lead of the other kids and picked up on the concept pretty quickly. She followed the others up the driveway and I watched as she politely held up her bag, then gleefully ran back down the driveway to show us her treat. “Mama, look!” she cried as she opened her bag so I could see, “I got candy!”

“That’s great, honey!” I replied, almost equally as thrilled. Her excitement = my excitement.

She ran to the next house, and the house after that, and the one after that. This trend continued for the next few blocks, until she had a half-full bag of candy, which is quite a bit for a kiddo her size.

We headed back to the house, and our neighbor set up his fire pit in the middle of the cul-de-sac and blocked off the street so the kids could run around safely. The adults enjoyed pumpkin beer while the kids had a blast goofing around with each other till L was so exhausted she asked to go to bed (parenting win!)

There’s something about this new neighborhood that makes me feel like our family found the place we are meant to be, live, grow… like we are finally, truly home. Without siblings of her own, nothing makes my heart more full than watching L play with the other kids in our neighborhood. As for JD and I, we’ve made some pretty good friends of our own. We had amazing neighbors at our old house (who we are trying to convince to follow us to our new neighborhood), but now we have a community of people we love.

Dear Loralai- 2 Years

Happy Birthday, Loralai.  This time 2 years ago, I was sitting in the hospital room holding you.  I had gotten very little sleep and was completely exhausted, but the sun had risen and was shining through the blinds and I was so content to sit there and stare at your little face.  I had never seen something so amazing in my life.  So glad you found your way to us.  Here’s your 2 year letter.

 

Dear Loralai-

It’s hard to sum up this year concisely, since it was so full of changes.  You went from a quiet, happy baby, to an on-the-move, bubbly toddler.  This was the year you took off, literally.  Right around your 1st birthday something seemed to trigger inside you, and you quickly transitioned from an occasional step or two to a full-fledged walker.  It’s been exciting, fun, and exhausting all at the same time.  I must have spent the majority of the last year chasing you, but it’s been worth every hurried step.

I’ve loved watching you explore and learn.  Being with you reminds me to find joy in the little things in life- from a plane flying overhead to puppy kisses to a pile of leaves.  You remind me that some of the most mundane things in life can be exciting when you stop to take them in.  I love seeing the world through your eyes, because it gives me a fresh perspective on everything.  It’s all beautiful and new.  You know that house near grandma’s house with all the holiday lawn ornaments?  I used to hate it- I thought it was hideously tacky and created a traffic hazard.  This year?  I was glad every time we drove by it, because it delighted you so much.  Perspective.  You’ve given me perspective.

It’s funny, there were times where we were just a mama and toddler.  You whined about snacks and cried when you were tired and sometimes I got frustrated along with you.  All the while, I tried to keep you healthy and cheerful and start to build a foundation for the things I need to teach you, from nutrition to manners to how to brush your teeth.  But there were other times where we were transcended all that.  You were my little buddy, my weekend companion when daddy had to work and my snuggle buddy on lazy evenings.  This year, we laughed, played, danced, sang, and cuddled.  This year we bonded as mama and daughter, not just baby and parent.  That was this year’s greatest gift.

Can’t wait for another year of fun.

Lots of love,

Mommy

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Worst Show Ever

It was a rough weekend on our household. L came home with a stomach bug Thursday that JD contracted on Sunday. So far I’m feeling fine and praying that by some miracle I’m able to avoid the nastiness. I spent the majority of the weekend disinfecting, obsessively washing my hands and running constant cycles of bedding, towels and blankets through the wash.

Because of this, the weekend was what I’d call a “lazy parenting weekend.” Translation: L watched a lot of TV. I know it’s not good and I really do try to limit it, but sometimes you do what you gotta do. #momlife

When L does watch TV, we generally put on Sprout, an all-preschool channel that has good, surprisingly tolerable programming. Well, tolerable except for one. Caillou.

F*#%$@ Caillou.

JD and I both loathe this show with passion. Naturally, L loves it (seriously, it’s like toddlers have a 6th sense for doing exactly what you don’t want them to do).  I can summarize every single episode like this- Caillou does something mean to his younger sister/friend/classmate. He then proceeds to whine for the majority of the episode. Finally, his parents/teacher teach him a valuable lesson and he apologizes, while still managing to sound whiny.  The end.  Not only is this kid miserably rude, but his voice is like nails on a chalkboard.

Seriously, who put this show on TV?

My 2 Year Old, The Insomniac

So, Loralai stopped sleeping.

Okay, not really stopped, but these past few weeks have been a little rough (at times, a lot rough).  Previously, night after night, we’d been able to  put her to bed in her crib at 8pm and she’d fall asleep quietly without complaint.  Then one night, everything changed.  She threw a fit, crawled out of her crib, and it was game over.  Since that night, she’s practically refused to nap during the day (previously, we were still getting a good 3 hours out of her), and every night we wait for her to get sleepy, but she’s literally bouncing off the walls till 11.  JD and I have barely had a moment to ourselves in weeks, and I’m clinging to my last shred of sanity.

My biggest frustration with this is that it’s a problem seemingly without a resolution.  I’m not really sure what the cause of all of this is… 2 year molars/teething?  2 year sleep regression?  Separation anxiety?  Some hellish combination of those 3?  And without an explanation, I don’t know how to resolve it.  It’s killin’ me.

The weird thing is, she wasn’t cutting back on sleep before this happened.  She wasn’t showing signs that she needed shorter naps or less nighttime sleep, but since cutting back so drastically, she hasn’t been acting tired either.  She is full of energy and literally bouncing off the walls till 11pm, even if she skips her daytime nap altogether.  Plus, even after she goes to bed so late, she’s not really sleeping in a whole lot.

We did end up taking down her crib and moving the toddler bed into her room, because she continued to crawl out of her crib after that first time, but she doesn’t seem to be upset about the bed or having trouble with that transition.  She actually loves the bed;  she’ll sit in it and look at books during the day, and once she does fall asleep, she’ll sleep soundly in it throughout the night.

Most nights, the only way to get her to fall asleep is to let her lay in our bed with us.  She doesn’t want to be left in her own room by herself (we’re talking screaming her head off without any sign of relenting… “crying it out” isn’t an option with this kid).  It hasn’t really mattered what time we brought her to bed with us, she still won’t fall asleep till 11, but when she is finally sleepy, she’ll curl up next to me and ask me to hold her hand (in a lot of ways, this has been very sweet, but after a few weeks of this, also somewhat irritating).  After she was sound asleep, we could move her to her own room and she’d sleep fine in there, but her clingy-ness is what’s making me wonder if this is a separation anxiety thing.

Last night, at 11:30, I’d lost all patience and stuck her in her own bed.  She cried for a few minutes, then fell asleep.  Not sure if this is a small victory, or if she was just too exhausted to fight it anymore.

My office has been closed for the last week for a “winter break,” so we’re back to our normal routine starting Monday.  I’m hoping that getting back into our usual work/daycare routine will kind of force her back into her usual schedule.  She can’t be staying up till 11 if I have to wake her up at 6:30…. Or at least I hope she can’t continue staying up till 11.

Lord, help me.

Halloween Recap

Although this wasn’t L’s first Halloween, in some ways it felt like it.  Last year, she was only 9 months old, so Halloween equated “this bulky thing you put on me is weird and annoying, mom.”  She looked darn cute though!

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This was also the first year since JD started with the police department that I can actually remember him having the night off.  We debated taking advantage and actually taking L trick-or-treating (who knows what his schedule will look like next year), but decided she’s probably still a little too young.  Instead, we hung out on the porch and handed out candy.  As it turns out, L was probably just as happy doing that anyway.

I was a bit worried that all the kids in costumes would freak her out, or that she would catch on to the fact that she was giving away all of our precious candy (leaving none for her), but she actually took on the role of Official Candy Giver-Outer enthusiastically.  She spent most of the evening parading around with the candy bowl, and when she saw kids coming up, she would take a piece of candy out of the bowl and put it in their bag, then wave as they walked away and say “bye!”

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It’s funny how parenthood makes you see things from a fresh perspective, how something like Halloween, which I stopped appreciating several years ago, is new and exciting again.  Now I get to see things through L’s eyes, and there is so much joy in that.

My Experiment: Social Media Blackout

Remember when I vowed to stay off all social media platforms (including the blog) for a month?  Here’s how it went…

 

Day 1: All social media apps have been removed from my phone.  It actually makes me a little anxious to be making this commitment. I feel like I’m going to be MISSING SOMETHING. I have to remind myself to be rational. We were all just fine before social media. If someone needs me, they can always call, text or email me (novel concept, I know).

I pop dinner in the microwave and instinctively reach for my phone to pull up Facebook or Twitter. It reminds me why I’m doing this. Social media is a borderline addiction, and it’s sad that I can’t wait patiently for 60 seconds. I’ve gotten into the habit of occupying every second of my day.

 

Day 2: JD is working this evening. I look down at my phone, ready to select a social media app. Realizing there are none and I’ve committed to a month long blackout, I feel… almost… alone. I wonder if social apps genuinely make me feel less alone, and more connected to other people when JD is working nights.

 

Day 3: JD has a sudden clutter attack and wants to sell a bunch of stuff in the attic. He is a pack rat, so I want to take advantage of his sudden change of heart. Doing so means downloading the Facebook app so I can post to a local buy/sell group and keep up with anyone who expresses interest in buying.  I am slightly disgruntled that he is already making me break my commitment, but I legitimately log on just long enough to post the item for sale.

 

Day 6: I’m finding that I don’t miss social media much. There are occasions where I’m bored and tempted to go online and peruse some feeds. There are also times where I want to turn to it for a fix after a stressful day or to fulfill that guilty pleasure need. It’s like a gossip magazine in that way. You hate to love it, but you do. And there’s something both wrong and completely satisfying about reading it, but I haven’t cheated. I’ve come close- very close- to opening up Facebook to poke around “real quick,” but talked myself out of it.  For me, this isn’t just an experiment, it’s a test of willpower and I’m determined to prove I can do it.

 

Day 10: JD posts a picture of me and I get an email notification. I log onto Facebook to make sure it’s not a horrendous picture that I need to untag. I don’t count it as cheating, although I do accidentally start scrolling through my news feed and have to stop myself.

 

Day 11: I go to my local police wives group to post regarding a July event. (Still not cheating, I knew I would have to use Facebook for some events.)  I don’t scroll through my news feed, but can see the first few posts before I pull up the group page. Two posts, both braggy, both annoy me. For the first time, I’m really relieved to not be using Facebook, and realize this experiment may result in me changing how I use it going forward.

 

Day 18: I cheated today, and I’m okay with that. I’d had a long day. JD was on night shift and the baby was asleep. I was relaxing, sipping on a glass of wine, and I wanted something mindless, gossipy, a guilty pleasure satisfaction. I initially resisted, but eventually decided I was okay with the cheat. I checked Pinterest and Facebook. It was glorious, no guilt. Totally worth it. But what’s more important is that the main objective of my experiment is still working. I’m avoiding social media as a compulsion, as mindless way to pass the time. I even cut back on the blogs I was reading, realizing I read so many of them for the sake of reading them, not because I found them particularly interesting or relatable.

 

Day 26: When I look down at my phone and see the date, I realize I only have a few days left of my experiment.  I’m enjoying this time, so it’s almost sad in a way, but I’m really glad to see that I’m not so desperate to get back that I’m counting down the days.

 

Day 32: A friend has to remind me that it’s August.  My month is officially up and I hadn’t even noticed.  I’m in no hurry to get back, but am looking forward to writing some blog posts and sharing some pics of L.

 

Conclusion:  I truly enjoyed my social media-less month.  The beginning made me realize how addicted to social media I was, and my hiatus forced me to do exactly what I wanted- be more present in my day-t0-day life.  I wasn’t distracted during a conversation with a friend or while L savored a spaghetti noodle.  Going forward, I will continue to use social media to stay connected with friends and family, but I’m going to commit to only using it at certain times of the day, not obsessively.  And if things get out of hand again?  I have no problem taking another break.

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.