Friday, September 23, 2011

An Answered Prayer

I'm super excited about my new job. I start Monday, and after meeting with the superintendent and principal today, I am even more overjoyed about this position. They seem to be very flexible and also are interested in me moving into a school counseling position next school year. This is great news because A) I'm spending thousands and thousands of dollars on my education, so I feel like I should be using it, B) I will have a significant pay increase and C) I will be able to work from home full time.

I cannot describe how happy I am about all of this. When I found out that my position was being cut at my old job, I was devastated. While yes, I would be able to spend time with my daughter, I loved my job and my co-workers. Beyond that, I constantly worried that we would have financial difficulties. Every article that appeared on Yahoo about the recession resonated with me, and I worried that at some point, maybe bad things would happen, like us foreclosing on our home. I'm an anxious person, so I get right down to it immediately and worry that the biggest disaster will happen. Not the best way to cope with a job loss.

After I moped, cried, and practically had multiple panic attacks about how things would play out financially, I prayed. And prayed. And prayed. Harder than I ever have in my life, except for maybe when we were trying to get pregnant. I don't talk a lot about my spirituality because I feel that it is a lot like my sex life. It's really no one's business. My husband is the opposite. There is no bigger joy for him than to debate religious philosophy. Sometimes it drives me nuts, but other times it comes in handy. Because, if ever there were a time that I needed someone to remind me about God and the miracles He works, it was now.

I'm not going to preach about going to church or why you should pray too. It irritates me when people push their religion on other people. But I do know this-- had I not lost my job, I would still be there. I would have missed my daughter figuring out how to stand up by herself today. I would have never taken the risk of trying to find a new opportunity that would allow me to be home more often. In my view, God created a way for this to happen. And, I'm ever so grateful.

This is not to say, of course, that I won't be griping about co-workers or the difficulties of working from home or any other of life's daily irritations within the next month or two. I'm only human. I get frustrated and annoyed. But for right now, I'm savoring what it feels like to have everything fall into place, to have faith, and to be grateful for what you are given.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Simply Amazing

I've mentioned it before, and I've been especially reminded of it this weekend-- my favorite part of being a mom is watching Amelia develop. I find it simply amazing. Within the last week, my daughter has learned to turn herself in a different direction while sitting up, can crawl over things, has started doing this funny little downward dog pose (I think she's trying to figure out how to stand!), and last night she learned how to clap.

What I enjoy even more is that once Amelia learns how to do something, she has it down completely. The first time she really clapped was last night at my parents. Then this morning, there she was clapping in her exersaucer. She was almost as fascinated as I was. She'd clap then open her hands wide, staring at them in amazement. Then she'd clap again and squeal in delight. It totally made her waking up for the day at 4:15 a.m. worth it.

Maybe this isn't as spectacular as I try to make it sound. Perhaps parents that have three or four kids think this is no big deal and think that this is just a new parent thrill. I pretty much doubt that, though. If it was not truly amazing, then parents would not constantly quiz each other-- is she crawling yet? Speaking? Any teeth? Sometimes these questions are asked out of competition, but other times I know they are asked with this intention-- have you witnessed your child learn all these delightful and new things?

There are more elements to it like the surprise of it. Amelia will do the same things for a week or two, maybe longer at times. Then, BAM, much like this past week, she learns several new things at once. And, there is being able to witness the lightbulb moment when your child puts it all together. It's hard to describe the look on her face, but when Amelia understands a concept, there is this expression in her eyes that says "OOHHH!!!! THAT'S how I do it!"

I will admit that I completely suck at keeping track of these moments in her baby book. Most of it is blank from 3 months on. I randomly think with guilt at how I really need to record these moments for both Amelia and myself. Despite that, I will never forget the thrill of seeing her discover new things. It is, I think, why mothers endure the sleepless nights and selfless days. Because nothing, nothing,  is sweeter than this look on your child's face upon making a new discovery in life:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Babysitter Conundrum

I mentioned recently that I will soon have a new job. I've been pretty vague on details because it has taken a while to hash things out with my new employer. It is an online charter school to which I have applied to several different positions. Although I am a licensed school counselor, I had hoped that even if I couldn't do what I had been trained for initially, perhaps I could start in a different position then become a school counselor with them later. This is exactly how it's turning out. My position will actually be as an advisor, with the added responsibility of entering in transcripts for the academy. This is great because the added responsibility brings with it extra income. The downside is that I will have to work out of the office part time.

We are really grateful that I've A) found a job and B) found a job that eventually will lead to me working from home full time. However, because I'm working out of the office this school year, I also have to find someone to watch Amelia. Frankly, I'd rather have another root canal than search for childcare.

My two gorgeous girls <3
I think I speak for the majority of moms when I say that finding childcare is no fun. My most basic anxiety here is that I worry someone will hurt Amelia. Maybe all moms don't have this particular fear. Maybe they just worry about overall care in general. All of those worries are completely valid. As a counselor, I've worked with enough abuse and neglect cases that I cringe when I have to find a new person to watch my daughter. In addition, I watch too much TV at times, and this includes Dateline and Law & Order SVU. Nothing good can come from watching these shows, FYI. They make an already anxious person want to down a bottle of Xanax.

If we were rich, I would have just hired her last sitter as her permanent nanny. On the other hand, if we were rich, I wouldn't work. Her last sitter was patient, kind, young and energetic, and only caring for her own 2 1/2 year old during the day. It didn't hurt that her daughter LOVED Amelia. While I hated leaving my little one every day, I was comforted by the fact that she was a minute down the street, was receiving great care, and was spending time socializing with another child. And, being that I was working in a small town, it was pretty easy to verify this person's character. All I had to do was mention in passing who Amelia was staying with, and I heard how terrific she was.

Now, here we go again trying to find someone just right to watch my daughter. I can't seem to convince my mom to retire, nor can I figure out a way to convince Amelia's Aunt Mandy that quitting her job is financially feasible. Enter Facebook. Thank you, God, for making this piece of social networking not just simply a waste of many hours of my day. All I had to do was post a plea for babysitter references and someone that I've known for years and years volunteered to watch Amelia. She's six minutes away from the office. She has a little girl for Amelia to play with. Has daycare experience. Hallelujah. Of course, my mom needs to have some grandchild fun during the week to so she has claimed Wednesdays. Even better.

Guess I will save the bottle of Xanax for another time.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

September 14, 2011: Amateur Updates

So I've been super lazy about posting lately. Frankly, I've had few ideas for new posts. Until the last couple of days, things had been running pretty smoothly in our household. It's been lovely. However, once you kind of get into a mommy groove where a daily routine is followed and life is not disrupted by teething, illness, something in your house breaking or blowing up, or some other major stressor, new ideas can be hard to come by. Not as fun for my readers, but like I said, it's been great for me.

I was going to write this nice post full of gratitude because of all the delightful things in my life lately, but while I'm still entirely grateful and feeling blessed, Amelia is sick for the second time in two weeks. UGH. And, there is a possibility that her top two teeth are coming through. DOUBLE UGH. So my already not so good sleeper has been a completely awful sleeper for the past three nights. The cherry on top being that she was up for an hour at 3 a.m. This is by far my least favorite sleeping affliction.

Therefore, because my brain is fuzzy with lack of sleep, all I can manage is listing the recent events in our life:
  • We'll start with Amelia. I think by far her most amazing development is her ability to feed herself and drink from her sippy cup. We've been giving her finger foods probably for the past six weeks, so this isn't completely new, but in the past week or so it's really struck me how amazing this is. We can chop up most of what's in our meal, put it on her tray, and she eats away. From completely helpless to I can feed myself in ten months is awesome. Watching Amelia develop continues to be my favorite part of mommyhood so far.
  • She continues to struggle with becoming very anxious and upset when I have to leave her, which is really hard on both of us. Luckily she has her select few favorite people that I feel entirely comfortable leaving her with and that she will not burst into tears and snot the second these people touch her. Despite being a huge mama's girl, as well as very stubborn, she also has a great little sense of humor. She often shakes her head no at anything, throws her sippy on the floor when she's done drinking (this isn't always funny-- but when she drops it on the poor dog's head, I definitely have to hide my giggles), and she loves to honk our noses. She also seems to be very social with other children, which I think is terrific. 
  • Jon and I have had lots of great things happen lately, mostly in the financial department. He got a nice bonus at work, we will soon be receiving a nice little sum from ODOT for a sliver of our land (and I might add, half of the sum they are giving us is for the dead tree on that land. Would life not be perfect if you always were paid to have your problems removed?), and we got a nice new flat screen TV with the gift cards Jon received for his birthday. 
  • I also have a new job pending. Thank you, God. While I love being home with Amelia, not having a second income is rather nerve wracking and something that causes a lot of anxiety for me on a daily basis. The bonus of this new job is that while I may have to work out of an office at first, I should be working from home within a year. Excellent. 
That's all that I have the attention span to update on for now. I was going to add a cute video of my little chunky monkey getting into mischief, but Blogger won't upload anything this morning, so I guess it will have to wait.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Innocence Lost

We are definitely a book worm kind of family. Our coffee table is covered with books-- cookbooks, novels, how-to books, poetry, and now, children's books. I was thrilled when we were getting Amelia's nursery ready to take my childhood books out of storage and place them on her shelves. I added to her collection whenever I saw books on sale and envisioned many hours of reading time together.

Reading time is starting to be particularly enjoyable because Amelia is really beginning to understand that a book is more than a teething toy. She leans forward with interest when we read and helps us turn the pages. She particularly enjoys hearing a story after she wakes up from a nap so she can be cuddled.

It was with this in mind that I grabbed a couple of Golden Books off her shelves earlier this week after she woke from her nap. Randomly I grabbed two of the silver spined books with a smile, looking forward to holding Amelia close and rediscovering the stories of my youth. One of these books was The Lively Little Rabbit:
Looks sweet and whimsical, does it not?

I sat Amelia on my lap, held her close, announced the title of the book, and cracked it open with a smile. The only book I really remember the storyline of is The Poky Little Puppy, since I made my mom read it to me repeatedly. We began our story, Amelia looking intently at each page. Blah, blah, blah, there was a lively little rabbit, blah, blah, blah, happiness, blah, blah... wait, what's this?
A mean old weasel that EATS LITTLE RABBITS FOR BREAKFAST. WTF?!? I paused and looked at Amelia, debating whether to read on. Well, I mean, she's only ten months old, and it's a children's book, surely it will not get worse.

It did get worse. Much worse.

So, on we read, the bunnies devise a plan to stop the mean old weasel, working with some wise owl (which, um hello Mr. Author, owls freaking eat bunnies too, I looked it up) to fashion a dragon costume and scare off the weasel. OK, well, things are looking up for the bunnies. Surely they will scare the hell out of him so he doesn't eat the precious little bunnies.

Nope. There was a fatality. In the freaking Golden Book about sweet little bunnies.

And not just some foolish wandering bunny to teach any kind of lesson about following rules or anything like that. No, the weasel EATS THE GREAT GRANDMOTHER BUNNY. They even specify that it was great grandma on dad's side of the family. As evidenced here:

I was stunned. I don't remember death in this books when I was little. Perhaps my parents skipped over these parts, or maybe it just really isn't the big deal I'm making out of it. We finished the story and I put it off to the side to show Amelia's daddy when he got home from work.

As I shared the story from memory with him, Jon was also rather shocked. To show him that I really wasn't making it up, I showed him the book. After looking at the worst pages, he flipped it over to the back cover to see if the description involves the harsh reality of life and death in the animal world.

No description. Just this general happy talk about how lovely and innocent Golden Books are:
Really, Golden Books?!? Your books entertain, inform, stretch the boundaries of the imagination??? I suppose discussing how death occurs in nature is informational, but I was hoping to hold off on that part of Amelia's education at least till she's, oh, I don't know, walking or potty trained. Here, sweet little baby, let's read about animals eating each other, isn't that nice?

And here I should probably point out that I'm not a naive person. My family eats meat, my dad used to hunt. I've seen a dead deer in the back of his truck, and though seeing it made me cringe, I ate that venison (don't give me that poor Bambi crap, where do you thing your hamburgers come from? They didn't magically grow in the refrigerator case at the grocery store). I have no issue with Amelia knowing how nature really works and so forth. I just didn't anticipate that occurring at ten months of age or from one of my sweet childhood books.

I guess this does teach me an important parenting lesson though-- always preview your children's books, movies, etc. before just forging ahead and letting them read/view it. You really can't judge a book by it's cover!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Five a.m. Dialogue with My Brain

It is before six in the morning, and here I am, typing away. Not because Amelia slept miserably. No, I would say this was one of her better nights. I'm up because I can't sleep. This never happens to me. I ADORE sleep. Prior to motherhood, I was a minimum of eight hours a night sleeper. Ten or eleven hours was stellar. I've been like this for as long as I can remember, sans childhood when I would think of every last excuse to stay up just a bit longer. My mother likes to remind me of this frequently... "Boy, Amelia sure is my little party girl! Not you, you were a sleeper. Great sleeper as a baby. Never gave me trouble..." Uh huh, thanks for that reminder, Mom.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m., fed and cuddled my little darling. My first thought was "Wow, she waited longer than usual for her middle of the night feeding, that's awesome!" I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. I dozed till 4:30. Looked at the clock. Decided I was uncomfortable and would risk rolling onto my stomach, potentially waking the baby. Ah, success. Should definitely sleep well now!


This was about the time I started having an interesting conversation with myself. I wonder if this is what insomniacs go through.


What? What the hell? Go to sleep, brain. Amelia is sleeping, we need sleep.

Umm... well... I was thinking we could get up?

 ?!? WHAT?!? It's early!!! Go to sleep, let me sleep! It's raining and cool and cozy, we could be getting lovely sweet sleep right now. Be quiet.

Well, don't blame it all on me, YOU are the one that drank that diet dr. pepper in the afternoon.

So what? It tasted good and I was still dragging from Labor Day.

Uh huh. Dragging. Is that what they call it?

Yeah, OK, so I had a few drinks, whatever, GO TO SLEEP!

... It's been five minutes. Can we get up yet? You could have a peaceful cup of coffee and surf the net while the whole house is sleeping! Wouldn't that be terrific?

Oh, wow, yeah, that would be really nice, especially with the rain, you know how I love the... WAIT, no, no way, it's still really damn early, and you know I can almost never sneak out of bed without waking Amelia. This is a bad idea, leave me alone and go to sleep.

No, listen to her, really, she is sleeping well! We could pull it off.


Sigh, OK.

{Five minutes pass}

I was thinking... it's cool out today, we could bake? Want to? Huh? That pumpkin bread pudding you've been wanting to try? Soup for dinner?

Yeah, this would be a great day for it! And I have to go grocery shopping to do anyways. What else should we do? Can't run this morning and don't like to take Amelia to the gym in the morning, I don't like the daycare lady that covers the early shift. We have some cleaning to do, so... HEY, WAIT! Why are you bothering me again??? Ugh, it's only five, we have been up for a half hour.

Yeah, I know, I keep telling you, let's get up! PLEEEEAAASSSSEEEE?????

Sigh. Fine. You win.

And so, I slowly worked my way out of bed. It was rather Mission Impossiblish, as Amelia is so mobile that I surround both of us with a fortress of pillows in case she wakes in the middle of the night and attempts to escape. I lit a candle in the dining room so I wouldn't wake Jon, started coffee, turned on the laptop. Thirty minutes later, Amelia was up. Now she is watching Baby Einstein and despite two cups of coffee, I'm tired enough that my eyeballs practically feel fuzzy. I foresee an afternoon nap in my future... unless my brain spoils it for me.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Coffee Break

Despite Amelia's snot, it hasn't been a bad week. As stubborn and determined as she can be, Amelia usually stays in good spirits when she's sick. She also seems to have chilled out in the 'whine until Mommy walks me around the house' department. Generally she can talk Daddy into it when he gets home from work, which is nice for Mommy's back.

Although it has not been so bad, I still hit a wall Thursday. I'm not quite sure what happened, but my overall theory is this: you can only spend so much time with someone, whether they are your own flesh and blood or not. Jon thinks this is amplified by the fact that I still co-sleep with Amelia. I think that's complete crap, as somehow I sleep better at this point with her by my side than when she's upstairs. Either way, by Thursday afternoon, I was texting Jon frantically, begging him to watch Amelia for a bit so I could escape.

Jon replied with a 'What in the hell's your problem, calm down, I'll watch her, you don't have to beg!' response. Which is true-- as Amelia gets older, she does better and better with her daddy and he has no problems watching her. I actually think I have some guilt about asking him to care for her. You are saying "WTF is your problem, Amanda? He's her daddy, there's no reason he can't care for her in the evenings." I think of it this way, though: Jon heads off to work everyday while I'm at home, and he still has several property maintenance things that he has to do on our two acres in the evenings. So, when he comes home and I practically throw the baby at him, I feel like I'm shoving one more thing onto his plate. As a result, I rush back home quickly when it's 'mommy time' and probably don't ask for that time as much as I should.

A second issue is, I always realize that many things that I do during mommy time, I could do when I have the baby in tow, so I often back out of time that I could be spending in solitude. Pondering going to a local coffee shop always makes me wonder, what will I do there that's so different from what I do at home? I can both read and browse the internet while watching Amelia, even if I do feel a tad guilty (you see the running theme here-- mommy guilt) about plopping her in front of the TV so I can partake in some kind of activity that doesn't involve diaper changing or episodes of Sesame Street.

I pushed all those thoughts aside when Jon arrived home that evening, dumped many baby belongings out of my bag, packed up my laptop and books, and left the house, radio blaring. That right there was worth the time out of the house. I've had to change very few of my listening habits since most of the music I like is not vulgar in nature, but I do miss the outrageous volume I indulged in at times while driving my car. Parking my car behind Panera and not having to double check my bag for diapers, wipes, toys, cheerios, and sippy cup, nor having to either carry a car seat which is ever increasing in weight or lugging out the huge stroller was freeing too. Not to mention, it is absolutely delightful to get on facebook without having to bounce a baby on my knee or respond to some kind of insistent fussing.

It would seem that God was trying to show me that more frequent mommy time is a good thing, because starting at that time, a string of unrelated positives started happening. Or, maybe I just noticed the good things because I wasn't frazzled any longer. I found a twenty dollar bill in the bottom of my bag. I got a positive e-mail about a job opening that I REALLY want. We had a terrific afternoon yesterday getting ice cream and going shopping. I got an interview for aforementioned job. We had an awesome time as a family at a high school football last night, and I got to catch up with one of my friends at the game.


It's with this in mind that I'm starting to pencil in mommy time. MOPS group, coffee at Panera, movie with a friend, whatever. My new goal is to start doing this for myself at least once a week. Pushing aside my time because I want to be a good wife and mother was clearly working against me. Giving myself the time to hit the virtual 'refresh' button is not only a gift to myself, but a gift to my family. I came home that Thursday evening with not just coffee breath, but a smile on my face, hugs to give, and patience to pass around. Definitely a lesson learned while on the path of parenthood.