Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Patience Is A Virtue

I'd like to start off by saying that today I'm writing my 100th blog post! Yay! It's hard to believe that I've been writing on this blog for almost a whole year. I recall beginning last June, unemployed, depressed, and with little outlet for my complex feelings about motherhood and my life. I began blogging and it opened up a new world for me. There are times when things get hectic and I briefly ponder how long I will be able to keep up with it, but then something happens that inspires me and I run to my computer to write. It's also inspired me to write for other sites, like Random Blogette and Curvy Girl. This has not only brought new traffic to my blog but also has led to me finding some awesome writers that I'll be privileged to meet in person in a couple weeks at the Ohio Michigan Blogger Meet Up.

Onward with my topic today, which is patience. We've had a lot of wonderful things happen to us recently that have required quite a bit of waiting and praying. The first has been my husband's new job at a local police department. Jon has gone through years of military experience, schooling, and interviews to be able to begin his career in law enforcement. He has had many times where he has questioned whether it is worth it. He's made it to several second interviews only to be turned down. Jon turned his application into the particular department that has hired him two days after I had Amelia. That means he has waited 1.5 years for an answer from them. Through all that disappointment and hard work he has forged ahead and it has paid off. I am so proud of him.
Our family at Jon's swearing in ceremony
The other event that has required much patience is Amelia's sleeping arrangements. I have mentioned before that Amelia has never really been a 'good sleeper'. She seems to need less sleep than many other toddlers her age and sleeping through the night has taken a good deal of time. Frankly, I'm a little hesitant to discuss this here because I feel like I could be jinxing ourselves!

We have co-slept much of the time over the past year and a half with Jon sleeping on the couch (spare me your 'destroying your marriage' speech... it hasn't) due to Amelia's need for comfort nursing during the first year and snuggles since she has been weaned. Although it has been recommended to me upon several occasions that she needs to cry it out, due to my own personal feelings and beliefs, we have not gone down that road. That has required a lot standing my ground when speaking to others, many intense parenting discussions with Jon, and a lot of prayer and patience on my part. In the end, I've felt that Amelia has required a lot of response at night and that she would sleep on her own when she was ready.

Another piece of the sleep puzzle has been that our bedroom is downstairs while Amelia's room is upstairs. Therefore, when she wakes at night, we have to go through our dining room and living room, up the stairs, down the hall, and then into her room. NOT FUN. To salvage as much sleep as possible, it has simply been better for her to be in our bedroom. Recently, Jon suggested that we bring her crib downstairs and place it by our bed as he saw the signs that she could be ready for it (i.e., sleeping without being held and not waking much during the night). I felt that was a reasonable compromise and so, a week ago today we put her crib in our room.

Amelia has been up and down with how long she will sleep in her crib, but I would say that overall, this is a great arrangement for us and she is getting used to it rather quickly. Over the past week she has slept there for all her naps, and has slept at night anywhere from three to seven hours at night before she wakes up whining or crying. At that point, I scoop her up and we both sleep soundly until 7 a.m.

Last night was a particularly monumental occasion in terms of her sleep. We ate dinner somewhat late and were cleaning up the table and kitchen. Amelia looked at a couple books, then crawled under the dining room table and said "Night, night" while laying down. Jon and I looked at each other with disbelief. Jon shrugged and said "Worth a shot!", scooped her up, laid her down in her crib, sang a little song to her, and said "Goodnight!" while shutting the bedroom door. We could hear her babbling away in her crib, and I said "How long do you think she'll stay in there before she starts crying?" Jon responded "Five minutes." We continued picking up from our meal with our ears alert.

Alas, Amelia fell asleep on her own with no tears. Even more impressive? She lasted the whole night in her crib! I woke up at 5:30 a.m., made coffee and started up my computer and she woke up at 6 a.m. ready to start the day. Jon and I made a big deal out of it and I gave her lots of cuddles while she drank her morning milk.

I have to admit that patience is not always my strength. While I think I handle most of Amelia's bad days fairly well and have survived the past year and a half with very little sleep or broken sleep many nights, I can't say that it's always been a piece of cake. I do have to say though that being patient has definitely paid off. Going through this has taught me yet another life lesson on the value of being patient and sticking with what you believe in regardless of what would be easier or what others say to try to convince you otherwise.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Fun on the Farm

Saturday morning my family had the opportunity to see the farm where many of our vegetables will be grown this summer. We have joined a CSA (community supported agriculture) through Riehm Farms and will be picking up our 'share' of vegetables weekly at a local farmer's market. I'm really excited that most of the produce that we consume during the next 4.5 months will be grown nearby and pesticide free. I first learned about CSA's through books like The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball and thought it was an incredible concept. It's great to know that my dollars will go directly to a local family business, my food will be chemical free, and I will be helping the environment because less of my food will need to be shipped across the country or even from other countries. Of course, we also get the additional benefit of our food tasting better because it will be fresh.

The first thing we were able to do was look around the farm a bit. We walked through the greenhouses and were able to feed some of their animals. I think that this is a great opportunity for Amelia to learn early where the food that she eats comes from (or SHOULD come from), and she was enthralled by all the fun stuff to look at and experience:

We were even able to select our own farm fresh eggs for breakfast, which were mixed with broccoli, onions, and asparagus grown right in the soil we were standing on, and served with potatoes. After that, Amelia had her picture taken (several times) on the farm's tractor and we went on a hayride:

I was really surprised that Amelia enjoyed the hayride so much because she has a fear of most things that are noisy-- motorcycles, farm equipment, sometimes even our dog barking-- but the ride was so bouncy that she kept saying WEEE!!!! WEEEEE!!!!! At least until she got too hot and tired, and then a little whining started up. Luckily, we were about done with our tour at that point and were able to hit the road before she got too cranky.

The farm has two more events for CSA members in July and September, so you can look forward to more farm inspired toddler cuteness then :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Busy Bee

I have felt so crazy busy lately! I am easing into the role of high school counselor at the online school that I work for, but while doing that I'm still doing the data entry that I've been doing all school year. Add to that a toddler, exercise classes, a house to clean, my friend's upcoming wedding, various appointments, and the newest bundle of joy in our family, and you've got one hectic mama.
Mikey was a big helper during one of my conference calls this week.

Somehow I managed to squeeze in making it to the picture appointment that my mom had set up for Amelia. Here she is trying to rearrange the seats at the studio in order to make them a proper toddler jungle gym:

 See the intense look she makes when trying to accomplish something? Cracks me up every time.

I was also able to go help my cousin with Mr. Max a couple days this week and it was, of course, terrific. I love his baby cuddles and his round head covered in peach fuzz. I could just eat him up!

Amelia was my little helper and was generally very good. She had a bit of a rough time the second day, but right before we left the house, I discovered why-- her first molar has finally popped through. Well, most of it. There is still a bit of gum tissue that it needs to push through and it seems to be causing her a fair amount of pain. Generally she has no problems when teething except for a bit of difficulty sleeping or a little whining, but she had so much discomfort Tuesday night that we had to give her a dose of Motrin and a popsicle before bed. It did not, however, prevent her from practicing her chess moves while we were helping with the baby, which I think thoroughly pleased my husband since he is a big fan of chess.

My favorite, the 'cheese!' look :)
And that pretty much concludes my week! So glad tomorrow is Friday. I'm looking forward to trying out my new kayak Saturday afternoon and celebrating my friend's upcoming wedding at her bachelorette party that evening. Good times! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I'm In Love, But I'm Not Crazy

The best thing that has happened to me this week was this bundle of joy:
This is Maxwell. Isn't he so handsome?!? Technically, he's my cousin but since his mama, Rebecca, and I are so close, I'm officially "Auntie Amanda". I can't even express how thrilled I am with him already. Before we had Amelia, I was so nervous around babies because I had never had any experience with them. I would hold them more out of obligation post birth, but my comfort level with kids was pretty limited until they were up and walking around.

Now that we've had Amelia, I am obviously way more comfortable with taking care of babies and knowing their needs. I walked into that hospital room Thursday afternoon, demanded him from his grandma, gently scooped him up, and proceeded to rock him and pat his little bottom for two hours, minus the time I allowed Jon to hold him and when little Baby K (my nickname for sweet baby Max before we knew his gender and name) needed to nurse.

I am seriously excited to get back to the hospital today and hold that little bundle of love. I very reluctantly offered to not visit yesterday due to my cousin's exhaustion and recalling how hectic it can be with so many visitors at the hospital. I've taken a personal day on Monday so I can help out with little Max while his daddy is at work. All of my immense love for this wee one is leaving many people to ask:

"Do you officially have the 'itch'?"

They aren't talking about an STD, I'm sure. The answer to either scenario, though, would be a resounding NO.

You dear sweet people have been trying to talk me into getting knocked up again the second that Amelia had her first birthday. That's great for many mama's but it's not for me. Although I do indeed find it sexy to see my husband hold an infant, I have no great need to procreate just because I've been within ten feet of a baby recently. We do have plans to hopefully add to our family in the future, but it's not now.

In fact, I was just reflecting this week how nice our lives are at this point. As a friend's bachelorette party nears, I know I can go out without worrying about Amelia's feedings or how she'll sleep while I'm gone. She is down to one afternoon nap so going out to do things is way easier to plan, or even do spontaneously. Also, most nights Miss Amelia is sleeping all the way through. She has never been a great sleeper and it took her about a year or more to get to a place where she was not exhausting me with frequent feedings or needing to be cuddled throughout the night. As such, I'm in no hurry to add a little screaming infant bundle of joy to our family.

Instead, I'm happy to be the doting auntie, rescuing my cousin from baby/hormone induced insanity, providing meals that she won't have to cook, and being a loving caregiver that she can trust when she and her husband need a night out. When they arrive home, I will gladly hand Mr. Max back over and head home to a full night's sleep. This, of course, is why people are so anxious to become grandparents. They enjoy all the fun of babies and children without all of the work! As an auntie, I'm looking forward to the same privileges. And when we do decide to add to our family again, I know Rebecca will do the same for me, as she did when Amelia was new to the world and I was a frazzled mama.

I also know that when the time is right, Amelia will be an awesome big sister:
With all that said, here's to enjoying life. It's not about what everyone else wants for you, or even what we hope for in the future. It's about what we love, enjoy, and cherish with our friends and family today <3

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

One Ticket for Common Sense, Please

Last Tuesday, my friend and I headed out for dinner and a movie. We have been BFF's since third grade and recently have developed the ritual of a Tuesday night get together about once a month. We find a restaurant that has great deals (like the $2 off wine and 1/2 off sushi we enjoyed last night-- well, I did, she hates fish) and then head to our local movie theater which shows flicks for $5 on Tuesdays. It's a great mommy night out, we get to catch up on each other's lives, and we also get to see a cheap movie. You can't beat it.

So, after our meal , we headed to the theater to see Mirror, Mirror. We arrived right as the movie was beginning and took our seats. There were about four other groups of people already seated. We plopped down in front, put our feet up and were ready to enjoy the acting of Julia Roberts.

About five minutes into the movie, I heard a very familiar whining sound. It was for sure a toddler whine. My mommy ears perked up a little bit, since I can't seem to turn the darn things off, and listened for an emergency. Oh, wait, I thought, this is my night off. MY NIGHT OFF FROM TODDLER WHINING. Alas, there was no escape, because what appeared to be a mom and a grandmother had brought two very young children to the theater. If I had to guess, I would say one was ten to eleven months and the other was around 2 years old. Grandma walked to the entryway of the theater with the toddler (not OUT of the theater, just away from the seats), attempting to calm him. Then the baby started and mom took him down to the exit as well. Then all four of them went back to their seats. Repeat this about four or five times and you have the routine of the evening.

Perhaps the highlight of this child wrangling within the theater was when the grandma sat in our row, whispering into the toddler's ears threats, pleas, and promises, in an attempt to get him to sit still and watch the movie. When verbal attempts were ineffective, she placed her open hand across his forehead and forced him backwards against her chest in an attempt to lessen his movements.

Yes, lady. That's a good idea. Actually, what you should have brought was a toddler straight jacket because there is no way in hell a two year old is going to sit through an hour and 45 minutes movie. In a theater. Without cartoons in it.

While my initial feeling was annoyance that my attempt to escape little ones for the evening had been foiled, it quickly faded into feeling empathetic towards the tykes that I was trying to avoid. I am all about reasonable expectations for children. Boundaries, rules, and consequences are essential, but when you fold in something that your child is literally incapable of achieving, you are setting your kid up for failure. Can a two year old really sit quietly in a movie theater for almost two hours without disturbing others? No. Frankly, I know very few adults that can even accomplish that.

I am pretty opposed to age restrictions in businesses. Last year when one of the biggest controversies in the parenting world was restaurants that forbid children younger than six years old, it made me a tad livid. At the time, Amelia was about six months old and reaching a golden age where she was no longer fussy and would sit happily in her car seat while we dined. So for a business to say "Hey, you brought a baby, your money's no good here" really ticked me off.

Of course, one bad apple spoils it for us all. I'm sure that businesses consider permanently kicking out little ones when some parent lets their child squall even though the best bet would be to leave. Again, where is the common sense here? Amelia is 18 months old now and her tolerance for sitting is lower than it was last year. So what do we do? Stick to restaurants that are louder and have quicker service. That leaves us limited to mostly Mexican food and bar & grills. When we did attempt a nicer place a few weeks ago (a sushi place), Amelia picked that evening to throw a fit, who knows about what. So as my husband spoke to the waitress about getting our food to go, I walked around with Amelia outside. See? Common sense.

As a final thought, I have to wonder, was this night out even fun for mom and grandma? It made me sweat a little just watching them go in and out and begging the kids to be quiet. Personally, I would have spent the money on a rented movie and a cheap bottle of wine and stayed in for the evening.

I imagine in about a year (this would put Amelia at 2.5) Amelia might be ready for a mommy/daughter date to see a 75 minute cartoon based movie. As a lover of all things childish, I can't wait. But until then, Amelia will be at home with Daddy when I need to escape to see a movie.

What are your thoughts? What is the youngest age you would take a child to a movie theater?