Be Intentional….Be Content

On my first day back to work, I asked a couple of the ladies to go to lunch. I hadn’t caught up with them for a while. One of the girls was talking about how she was going through these really interesting changes after deciding to participate in Lent this year. She wasn’t participating in a religious manner, it just seemed like a good time to do some introspection. So she decided that for Lent she would give up her cell phone and all social media outlets (facebook, pinterest, instagram, etc.). She went all out even turning OFF her cell service.

We talked about the changes that she already felt and the reasoning behind her doing it in the first place. She said she is such an extrovert that she noticed she spends a TON of time using all of those “crutches” rather than being present in the moment.

What she has noticed most is that she is much calmer and content. One day she was waiting for a friend to meet her and ended up spending 30 minutes just observing her surroundings and thinking, where typically she would be spending that time on her phone not seeing anything or anyone around her.

I notice that is how our “phone/social media” culture is evolving. People don’t sit places and just relax anymore. Being alone can feel awkward, jumping on your phone and calling/texting/facebooking helps quell that awkwardness. I know that I’ve fallen into this abyss.

My first couple of weeks of maternity leave I was on my phone practically all day, reaching out to friends, looking stuff up, etc. Then it occurred to me “hey stupid, look down! Your baby is growing up right under your nose, be present, be intentional”.

I think we can all learn from my co-worker’s experiment. Put down the phone/computer/ipad/etc. Connect with your surroundings, talk to a person nearby rather than text a friend, just sit and reflect, or use your imagination (remember that thing we used so much as a kid? I miss that thing). Perhaps it would reduce the “island” feeling that I sometimes get while being surrounded by people. That’s my new goal. Be present, be intentional, be content.

 

Hi Ho, Hi Ho

Wow has it been 10 weeks already?

Apparently it has. I have one chunky 10 week old baby and a full-on 3-year-old (as opposed to an almost 3-year-old, which was the case as of my last post).

I chose to take a brief leave of absense from blogging…not for lack of post inspiration, because believe me there was plenty to write about, there just wasn’t much time. Sure I probably could have skipped an episode or two of Dexter and written a post, but seriously I made it all the way up to Season 6 and shit is getting soooo crazy!

Besides watching Dexter (and you know eating Bon-Bons with my feet up all day) I also got a lot of shiz done. Thanks in no small part to my MIL, I was able to tackle quite a few self-inflicted to do items. Now my first maternity leave I would never have thought to make a to do list. I was content staring at Jack for hours on end and going for walks and what not. Not that I didn’t still do those things with Drew. It is just I also realized what an amazing opportunity I had (and most likely would never have again) of a huge chunk of time around my house to actually accomplish things.

Another big difference is I decided to sleep train right away with Drew. Not like “officially” sleep train. Just go with that whole Sleep-Eat-Play thingy-ma-bobber that I didn’t read about until Jack was almost 6 months old and then the whole – lay your baby down to fall asleep in their crib rather than hold them for all their naps thing….which I most definitely did a ton with Jack. I just couldn’t resist having him in my arms. Not that it is easy to resist having Drew in my arms and he definitely spent a nap or two everyday on my chest (listening to Dexter). But IF, and this is crazy, you lay your baby down for one or two naps a day, then you can use that 30-60 minutes to get something done! Can you believe it? if you told me 3 years ago I wouldn’t have believed you.

So anyway, I abandoned my baby in his crib for a couple of naps and was able to knock out a few items. Granted I definitely would have been able to do SOOOooo much more around the house if I had had 10 weeks off with no kids, but it was the best of both worlds really.

Another big difference is I was much more equipped this time to get out of the house fairly often. Don’t get me wrong, that first trip with two kids by myself was stressful as shit! But then I started giving myself pep-talks. Por ejemplo (the culture is back!): “you can do this Natalie, it’s just two kids, it’s not rocket science! who cares if you are wearing yoga pants, have throw up on your shoulder and look like you’ve been electrocuted (thanks for that extra touch hair!), gawddammit you get out there and see some sunlight!”. And it worked! I took the kids to the zoo (had my MIL for that one, thankthebebegeezus), we went to the park a shit ton (by myself woohoo…..breastfeeding when there is wind is really difficult, FYI), went fine dining….um okay it was McDonalds….don’t judge, there is a play area, went to the rich-folks mall (I got “dressed” for that one!)…also for the indoor play area (yes, play areas are the theme here – 3-yr-olds are insanely energetic), and IKEA, where we not only ate! but also walked through the entire store with zero incidents….well except for trying to get him out of the kids slide/tunnel area, but ice cream is an insanely successful bribery technique.

Why yes, I do bribe my kid. More now than ever….again 3-year-olds…insane. I am not proud of it, but bribery is sometimes the only way to get something done without wanting to stab my own eyes out from tantrums and whining…..gawd how I hate the whining! I bribe with episodes of superheroes; with apples/oranges/bananas (hahah suckah!); and when it is time to bring out the big guns, I go for the ice cream/fruit snacks/suckers/loose change/20s/small countries/whatever is necessary – it all really depends on the level of escalation we are talking about.

So in addition to outings together, I also tackled a few things around the house. We broke down and bought a new washer and dryer….I hated to spend the money (especially while on unpaid leave), but our dryer was eating, on average, one article of clothing per load. And that fucker always chose the cute stuff. Like the moose antler hat that went with Drew’s moose outfit, or the monster truck shirt that Andy had just bought Jack for his birthday. How did it always know?….how? Anyway, we’d been dealing with it for more than a year and then we realized eventually we would run out of clothing to wear.

Once the new washer and dryer was in place it was washin’ time! Ooooohhh yeeeaaaaaahh! I washed so much shit. It is amazing that adding one kid actually exponentially increases your laundry duty and not just multiplies it….little math sentence there for ya! You’re welcome. Also we bought a washer that has a glass window in the lid and I scoffed at the store “why would anyone want a window in their washing machine lid?…that’s so silly”. But let me tell you, that first load of laundry I stood there like an asshat watching that shit. The barrel spun around “assessing” the weight and size of the load and redistributing it evenly, then it started gently adding water while spinning slowly to soak the clothes equally (wouldn’t want any of those clothes to get wet faster than the others…there would be hell to pay). It also has a detergent and softener tray that you slide out and then the water that comes out is being sprayed through that tray, because again, you wouldn’t want to just dump detergent on top of your clothes and then have some clothes elsewhere in the load not get soapy to a correct proportion! Apparently washing technology has gotten cray-cray advanced! So there was washing.

Then there was organizing. I organized our walk-in closet and put together my first week’s worth of work outfits for getting ready quick. We cleaned out and organized Andy’s garage. I raked up all the weeds, leaves, and dog poop that accumulates when you are pregnant in the Fall and don’t want to do shit….besides the snow covers most of that up anyway. Winning! I filled 8 of those giant paper yard waste bags and I still have a lower section of the yard to work on!….ahem…I mean no, our yard was in pristine condition…forget I said anything. That was the back yard.

Then I built a garden/retaining wall in the front of the house (FYI this causes a few days of backpain….not winning), again raked and got rid of debris, and got our garden beds prepped for planting (which I need to do like this week!).

I managed to rotate Drew out of NB-3month stuff (*tear*) and into his 3-6month clothes…I still need to finish rotating Jack into more of his 3T stuff…although that skinny boy still barely fills his 2T pant waistbands….so might just be 3T shirts and 2T pants for a while.

The biggest feat for the 10 week period was that I managed to go get groceries, do some cooking (GASP! whhaaaaattt?) and keep the house reasonable clean (which is like an hourly effort with said 3-year-old).

Also I managed to throw him a small Monster-Truck-Themed birthday party, do some sewing (not as much as I had planned), painted a room and touched up some scratches…and where a 3-yr-old drew all over the walls with marker. Awesome. Did our taxes…figured out health insurance for the boys….lots of other crap too. You know life stuff.   

Now I know if you look back on that stuff you are like ‘Pshaw Natalie, I could get all that done in 3 days off!’. But believe me, when you are working with tiny sporadic spans of time and also getting nourishment in your face, going to the bathroom, and sometimes showering, that is a looooonnnnggg list of things for 10 weeks off.

There was a ton more I wanted to do, but I am just happy where things stand. So there, now you are caught up on the “what I did last summer on my maternity leave” and now we can pick up where we left off!

 

 

MVP

Today I asked Andy if he wanted to come to the groundbreaking for my latest project next week. For some back story- he works nights so asking him to go to a day activity between the hours of 7am and 4pm give or take is obviously asking him to give up sleep… But this was something I wanted him to come to. Here’s the hilariousness that ensued:

Me: hey do you want to come to the groundbreaking next week….it’s at 9am?
Andy: (dramatically) oh then no
Me: why?
Andy: do you want me too?
Me: (sarcastically) no no….it’s fine. um yes, you’ve never been to one of my groundbreakings
A: yes I have!….yeah in San Diego!
M: The margarita place?
A: yeah! They were amazing (We used to go there for dinner and obviously margaritas every Friday night while we waited for the traffic to die down to go home)
M: no there was never a ground breaking (or a grand opening event that included the architects come to think about it….how sad)
A: whatever…that’s my favorite project of yours
M: what? You can’t just like that one because it has margaritas
A: well I do, no matter what other things you’ve done that will always be the most valuable project in my mind.
M: you’re ridiculous! (Busting up laughing)

Basically every project I have done since that restaurant has been a billion times more awesome and unique…but apparently only my projects where you can get delicious margaritas matter.

Screw you 100 year old school! You should have been a bartering college specializing in margaritas.

Complete

The body doesn’t easily forget: the longing, the heartache, the pain….they are readily recalled. But it doesn’t forget the good things either: the joy, the elation, the indescribable feeling of completeness.

I found myself awake at 4 am feeding a deliciously fat chunky man. When I saw the clock I couldn’t help myself but to watch the minutes slowly tick by and relive that day 3 years ago. That was the day I wanted more than could really ever be put into words. But for the sake of my boys I will always give it a try.

Three years ago right now I was working to bring Jack into this world. There was a gaping and immeasurable hole in my heart and he came right out and started filling it up.

I pulled his deep breathing and limp body close to me for a few moments while still watching the clock until he gently rolled back to his pillow. I kissed his head and felt his body sigh. I thought about how much I needed him….how much I need him everyday.

He shows me the meaning of all the good things: joy, love, fulfillment. And admittedly he shows me the meaning of the less than good things: worry, frustration, utter terror (boys are insane). But I need all those things to make my life whole.

Dearest Jack – you were wanted, you are loved, you complete me.

Happy third birthday.

20140314-051814.jpg

Getting Pooped On

Being a parent is really strange if you think too hard about it. I mean, think of your best friend, like your best friend ever and then imagine holding that friend in your arms, looking down at his/her face lovingly as he/she sleeps and then hearing him/her rip ass and shit their pants right on your lap….would you continue looking lovingly down at them? Probably not.

Now imagine your best friend throwing up in just the right position that it immediately drips down your cleavage. And they do this each and every day. Would you continue to oooo and ahh at your bestie after the first couple of times that happened? Again probably not.

As parents we get poop, pee, boogers, slobber, throw up, food, mud, you name it. But we still look at our kids like they are the most amazing and wonderful beings on the planet….well most of the time.

Drew is just over a month old. He is trying to figure out what his arms are for and to coordinate a smile. He obviously had his ability to cry coordinated just fine.

He loves to be snuggled closely in the shower and while he sleeps. He has become quite the chunky monkey and I’ve been told by several strangers now what a BIGGG baby he is….um thanks?

He still retains his “pirate eye”. I choose to believe he likes to open his right eye first to check things out. If they seem worthwhile he will then open his left eye to take in the whole scene. If it’s not interesting enough he will just go back to sleep.

As a result of Drew, Jack has really developed his imagination. He plays so well by himself and we can here him in his room talking about space missions and monster truck races and building castles, etc.

It is amazing and wonderful to watch. I still find myself looking at my kids…MY kids..and thinking how strange it all is. How strange that they exist at all, let alone belong to me. How strange that they are growing and learning and that I have a little part in that. What an amazing gift. My little pooping, peeing, vomiting, messy gifts.

20140304-142318.jpg

20140304-142258.jpg

Victory is mine/ours!!!

Drew takes a bottle!!!
I want to shout this from the rooftops!
DREW TAKES A BOTTLE!!!
For those of you still following from 3 years ago (you deserve an award) you might remember our bottle struggle with Jack. To call it a “struggle” is putting it lightly…it was bottle hell!
We tried every bottle known to man and every position/trick that anyone could think of…and I mean anyone. We looked online, spoke to doctors, to friends and family, hell! I talked to a lactation consultant about bottle feeding…which believe me was probably just as strange for her.
I can’t really quantify the amount of stress and worry that whole ordeal caused. Imagine spending 9 hours at work, 5 days a week, thinking about how your baby is at home starving and screaming his head off.
Now I will tell you (now that it’s over) and everyone will tell you that your baby will NOT starve. He/she will drink from a bottle rather than perish out of stubbornness. But try to convince yourself of this when you are a new mom full of hormones, worry and enough guilt to choke a horse….how much guilt would that be? I dunno? Just go with it.
I would rush home everyday and be taking off my shirt as I walked in the door knowing that Jack had spent the last hour or two in total meltdown mode. He would be frantic!
It took a good 6 months before Andy figured out the correct bottle/position combination to get Jack through a day and I was NEVER able to give him a bottle.
With Drew I was dreading the bottle battle starting practically from the day I got pregnant (bottle PTSD perhaps?). I pulled out our box of 20 different kinds of bottles in prep for his arrival and cringed at the thought of a repeat of Jack.
But this time I was going to do something different! I wasn’t going to listen to anyone. With Jack I read a TON! Too much really. And I listened to a lot of hippies….now being a hippie I wanted to listen to other hippies. But I think with bottle feeding it was our fatal flaw to listen to hippies and hippie-books.
Everyone said don’t rush bottle feeding. Just get breast feeding established and start gathering a small pump supply after a few weeks but worry about a bottle a week or two before you go back to work…poor choices!
Granted who knows how many babies refuse bottles? But I can tell you waiting as long as we did (which I think was 6weeks?) was too long.
So with Drew I decided to go early. I shoved the fears of messing up his latch or derailing bfing and decided to give early a try.
So at 2 1/2 weeks I gave him his first bottle. He was pissed for a few minutes but then seemed to realize there was milk in there…and being a milk monster he was like “MIIILLKKKK rrroooaaarrr!!!” And ate it up.
Not only did he take a bottle but he took a bottle from ME!! With a nice full boob right next to his face! VICTORY!!
Since then I haven’t gone crazy. One of us will give him a bottle every other day or so. But we don’t freak out if we skip a day. In another week or two I might get better about giving him one everyday so he’s ready for daycare, but for now I am just basking in our glory!
Yesterday I decided to get crazy and try a different bottle. VICTORY dos!!
This kid doesn’t seem to care where his milk comes from just put it in his belly!!!
Sweet relief!

Where’s your thank you note?

Today should be marked down in the record books. It was the first time I had to walk out of a store with Jack because he was throwing a fit.
…in hindsight he wasn’t actually throwing that big of a fit. He was just fussing a little because I put him in the cart rather than let him walk next to me.
I could have let him walk, but all I needed was a box of thank you notes to send out for Drew’s shower and all the people who brought us dinner after his birth. I needed one aisle that happened to be right inside the door. But as I was getting the cart, Jack was saying “I need an airplane!…I don’t have a motorcycle….I need a motorcycle” And his tone was semi-whiney. So I decided to pop him in the cart so we could make it a quick and efficient trip.
As I was standing in front of the thank you cards, just happy to be out and about in the sunshine (I mean seriously I made it out of the house with two kids just 3 weeks in, that’s practically a miracle!!). So when Jack started whimpering about not wanting to be in the cart, at first I tried to hold my concentration on the cards which cards look like us? …but then Drew started fussing and I was like “nope today is not the day” and I walked right back out of the store. I figured it was worth my sanity to not be that mother in the store with two crying kids that everyone feels sorry for.
We got to the car and I realized I have never talked to Jack about appropriate behavior in a store. At least not now that he has more of a grasp on things. Up to now we’ve done what maybe most parents do with their 2 and unders and say things like “Jack if you are good in the store we will have Mac and cheese for dinner” or even “we will get George fruit snacks”….hey, I am not above bribery.
But when we got home I realized we are entering new parenting territory…so we sat down and talked- granted for two minutes. He still has a ridiculously short attention span.
I told him that we left the store because he was throwing a fit and that we don’t throw fits at the store….
Alright let’s be honest….it still might be too soon for him to really grasp and absorb “expected behavior”…but it was super weird to find myself in this new realm of parenting- official parenting where you explain yourself and shit!
So yeah the thank you notes didn’t happen today…I guess we will try again another day.