Friday, 24 July 2015

Unnecessarily Stressful Situations

As a chronically anxious person, it's very easy to get wrapped up in big things. You know--death, the ultimate meaning of life, what will happen when I inevitably lose my job and people realize I'm not as competent as I pretend to be, and so on.  Those are the easy things. Anyone can worry about their own death.

But what's interesting is that the vast majority of thoughts that proverbially keep me up at night (proverbially because it's my baby that literally keeps me up at night) are those everyday awkward encounters for which there's no way to really prepare.

What encounters are those, you ask? WELL IT'S YOUR LUCKY DAY.

1. WHAT THE HELL DO I CALL MY HUSBAND'S GRANDPARENTS? No one told me how awkward this could be. Mr. and Mrs. Awkward sounds too formal, their first names sound too disrespectful, and grandma and grandpa/grampy and grammy/peepoo and moomoo seem a bit intimate for people I see or talk to once or twice a year.  On the few occasions I have to call them something I usually try to rush through it, which ends up sounding like "grampehehd."

2. Saying grace as an atheist. Do I look down? Do I close my eyes? Do I look around and plan which food I'm going to eat first? Do I meet eyes with the one other person who isn't praying at the table?

3. Being a baby conveyor. When I was pregnant, people I knew would touch my belly. Due to the nature of a bulging uterus and its requisite proximity to my crotch, it meant that hands were getting far closer to that area than I think they realized. In the same vein, now that I have to hold my kid constantly people often grab her feet, which are once again dangling directly in front of my crotch. 

4. Wanting to be friends with someone new. I am the worst at this. I'm admittedly a pretty needy friend. When I hang out with someone I want to tell them all the things right now and then the second they leave I'm convinced I've destroyed it with awkwardness.

5. Preaching. Every so often I get in a situation when a religious person talks to me about their beliefs in a sort of preachy way and I feel very oh god what do I do with my hands. While it is at least somewhat socially acceptable to preach religious beliefs, it is generally frowned upon to respond with, "yeah well I don't believe any of that the life we have now is all we have but thanks byeeeee." It's for this reason that the elderly Jehovah's Witness lady keeps coming to my house.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

A Year with Amelia

Two weeks ago, on July 11, we officially celebrated one year as a family. One year as parents, one year as a child on this side of my womb, one year of Cypress getting her eyes poked while we're not looking.

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This milestone was bittersweet, like just about everything else with a kid. On the one hand, it's a year. Even though it went by quickly, it seems like such a momentous period of time, especially given how much Amelia has grown and changed in that time. On the other, watching her grow and change--and subsequently become a lot more fun and interesting to be around--is probably one of my favorite parts of being a parent.

So I feel some nostalgia, which I may have indulged by digging out her "coming home" outfit and tearing up over how tiny it was, and joy and gratitude that I get the opportunity to watch her grow into a person.

We actually had a few birthday celebrations since Amelia has four sets of grandparents. We got several of them out of the way over the Fourth of July, but they were pushed through without much celebration since Amelia was incredibly overwhelmed and stressed from the new people and places (that deserves a whoooole other blog post, let me tell you).

On the actual day, we celebrated together as a family of three (+ a Cypress). We made a delicious flourless cake (so I could enjoy it) and gave Amelia her rocking pig. It was very subdued but perfect for where we are now.

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So there you have it, a whole year with the little bit that made me a mom, who challenged me in ways I never imagined, who showed me how fiercely I could love someone. I can't wait to see what the next year, two years, fifty years bring.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

We Love Our Patios

When we lived in Santa Fe we took it upon ourselves one summer to trick out our patio. Patio hangs in Santa Fe were amazing--we had a view of the entire city, there were no mosquitoes or black flies to ruin our good time, and the temperature was generally pretty reliable and/or perfect.

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I miss it. I miss those nights alone drawing closer and closer to our fire pit as the perfect temperature dipped into almost-uncomfortable.

One of the things that drew me to this house--aside from the fact that it was pretty much our only option price-wise that wasn't mostly dilapidated--was that it had a screened-in porch.  If you've ever been...well, anywhere that isn't the desert, you know that mosquitoes and black flies and other biting insects can turn any fun evening outside into...well, an un-fun evening inside. Because of that an enclosed porch is a necessity if you actually want to use it.  I was super excited about having another place to unwind at night.

One problem with Rob and I owning a house, however, is that we are really lazy and cheap. We talk a good game about making our house nicer, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of making it happen we postpone and postpone until we get comfortable living with whatever ugly part of our house we can't seem to get motivated about.

We spent six months with a door-less mailbox solely due to the aforementioned laziness. Our lazy game is on point.

Couple that with the fact that having a baby--especially a needy one like Amelia--makes literally everything you ever want to do impossible (not an exaggeration) and you have a screened-in porch with an ugly green carpet, years of pollen buildup, and an absurd number of dead bugs. In short, nothing anyone wants to hang out on or drink in.

Luckily we have family members who are willing to do this kind of stuff for us. My dad and stepmom came one weekend and decided that they were going to start the process of making our porch livable.

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We have a new (not astroturf-colored) carpet, mold-resistant paint on the ceiling, new patio furniture I picked out at Home Depot, and some outdoor patio lights. We rounded it out with some plants, a few holy candles to remind us of the southwest, a Yeti cooler that Amelia and I bought for Rob for Father's Day, and a bluetooth Bose speaker. Now not only is it a neat place to hang out, it's also an additional summer playroom for Amelia to wander around when she starts to get bored (which is a lot).

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The last two photos don't really show you much about the patio's new look (except for the nice grey carpet) but come on, aren't they adorable?

It's nice to carve out a little piece of normal back in our lives I guess, as small a change as it is.  I can't wait until Amelia is older and can chill out there with us at night without trying to pull plants down on herself. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

A Few Things

Amelia is almost walking! She took a few steps on her own the other day and seemed very proud of herself. Not so proud that she has actually started walking instead of crawling--crawling is still faster, of course--but she clearly gets a huge smile whenever she does it so I think we are close. The funny thing is that she only will try if I make a huge deal out of the fact that she is standing on her own. Kids nowadays, needing validation for every little thing right?

*~*~*~*~*~*

We are quickly approaching Amelia's first birthday! This is crazy to me. Though her first three months felt like 8 months, the rest of the months sped by. Imagine if we all developed as quickly as we do during the first year. We'd all be 70 feet tall and might be able to see through walls or something. Anyway everyone keeps asking us what we're doing for her first birthday. I really don't get my generation's obsession with first birthday parties. I mean I get it I guess. Doing something is cool--cake, booze for the adults, singing--but the separate cake for smashing and the elaborate favors and massive food spreads just seem excessive for a kid who can't reasonably be trusted with, say, a plastic bag or an unattended pool. Amelia's birthdays (multiple because she has many grandparents who want to celebrate) will have a cake from the local Hannaford, a bit of singing, and food afterward. Easy peasy.

The one place I did go overboard was her gift. It's a rocking pig!


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But come on, who could say no to it?

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I know I'm like, 10 years behind on this (which is approximately 35 years in technological time), but podcasts are amazing! And they're free! I've started listening to Last Podcast on the Left on Amelia's daycare days (since it's pretty raunchy in terms of language) and I am loving it. If you're into true crime and serial killers it is definitely for you. I've listened to episodes covering Columbine myths, Ed Gein, and Fred and Rosemary West so far. This is the only podcast I've listened to so far so if you have others you love please let me know. 

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Daycare is going well for both me and Amelia. I love having two free days a week. It's amazing being able to do everything I did before having a kid. The time without her goes by very fast, which is hard because there's a ton I'd like to do and...not enough time to do it. It's a cliche, but there it is. For her part Amelia is doing better and better in daycare. Her teacher picked up on the fact that she needs some space at least initially, and she has started to warm up both to her teacher and to the other boy that is her age. There's this little robot lovey I've been putting in her bed since she was born that has now become her comfort item, and she apparently carries it around all day which I think is adorable. I bought a backup one just in case we lose the one she already has.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

That's all that's going on here lately. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

On Daycare and Letting Go

Most of you know that I work from home. That didn't change when Amelia was born (though it did become more complicated).

For the past 11 months I have juggled work--including conference calls, computer time, and emails--and the constantly-changing needs of an ever-growing child. It has been a struggle some most days. I've had to explain random baby noises while I was on the phone with clients and bosses alike. I've had to put Amelia in her crib for 10 minutes (which did not go well, for the record) so I could finish a call or an email.

Rob and I have toyed with the idea of getting some help since Amelia was a few months old. We did a search for a sitter to come to our home, which fell through in a really disappointing way (seriously, if you are no longer interested, just tell me. Don't drop off the map. Lame.). Rob eventually got laid off for the winter so we put it off a bit longer.

Now that he's working again we decided to check out opportunities for daycare.

Long story short, Amelia starts soon She will be in daycare for two days a week.

I have a lot of feelings about this.

First off, I'm sad. Like every other parent ever, it's really hard for me to acknowledge that my kid is getting older, that sometimes (healthy) stress leads to good things, that I have to let go bit by bit. It's a big reminder that your job as a parent is to make yourself obsolete and thus by definition you are becoming more obsolete by day. I know that's somewhat dramatic, but I'm a parent and I'm allowed the odd period of histrionics.

I'm also nervous. When Amelia was really little and really colicky, the idea of having her in daycare scared the bejeezus out of me. I was convinced that only we understood what her colic was and only we could deal with it. If I'm being honest, I was terrified that if I left her with someone else they would hurt her. I don't mean to malign daycare providers--I know they wouldn't have hurt her--but my mind goes to some pretty dark places sometimes and I wasn't ready to let go of her just yet. I feel slightly more confident now, but it's still scary.

Finally, I am really, really, really excited. 14 whole hours a week to myself. One of the biggest challenges for me since becoming a mom is not being able to direct my time as I see fit. I report to the least logical, most emotional boss in the entire world and I am bound and chained by her schedule. It's exhausting and maddening at times especially as I watch work and chores pile up.

Regardless, when I look at this next step objectively I do think it's going to be a really good thing for the both of us. Letting her go is difficult, but the result has so far been consistently worth it.

Happy week, friends!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Water Tables and Other Simple Joys

One of the coolest things about having a kid is watching them discover the world for the first time. Like stuff you wouldn't give a second thought--wrappers, chapstick, matryushka dolls--they turn over and over in their hands examining every square inch.

It really shows you how much of a jaded asshole you've become.

I've had a tough time finding toys for Amelia that she actually enjoys and plays with for more than a few minutes. I've had a few good hits (that goddamn infernal learning farm, a crawl tunnel) but many, many misses (pretty much the entire basket of toys in our living room and everything "fun" I registered for).

Also it is very important for me to avoid unnecessary baby clutter. It's for this reason that we opted for diaper changing pads in lieu of a changing table (extremely happy we did that by the way, expectant moms). I don't want to end up with a ton of huge items that we have to find a home for after approximately 4 months of use.

But my kid gets bored easily, and it's really fun to buy her toys whenever I want. Especially since one day she'll be older and I won't be able to buy her random stuff every week without making her into an entitled douche.

I found that it worked better if I sat back and waited, noticed what she saw and what captivated her, and moved from there. And one thing she has liked almost since day one was water.

(Like every kid ever, I guess)

One time I let her play with some raised dog bowls we hadn't used for Cypress yet. I filled them with water and with splashing she'd emptied them within 5 minutes or so. When I took her away from them to get her dried off you'd have thought I was tearing her arm off for how loudly she howled.

Along with loving water she also has a strong dislike of something being taken away before she's ready or has lost interest on her own.

So I defied my own "minimizing clutter" rule and decided to buy her a giant, awkward, plastic mosquito magnet water table. It's shaped like a pirate ship.

And of course, it's probably her most favorite toy.

Aside from the stairs. She loves those things.

We've only let her use it a few times, mostly because our hose water is cold and I'm convinced she'd play in it until her arms froze and because getting her into her bathing suit and water diaper and ample layers of sunscreen is a lot to handle by myself. But every time we've done it you'd have thought it was Christmas.

Assuming she knew was Christmas was and how exciting it is, which she doesn't yet. But you get the point.

Anyway you can't argue with that smile.


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Saturday, 16 May 2015

Stuff and Things

I really miss writing.

I also miss reading and baths and vacations and roadtrips and uninterrupted sleep and normal bras.

They aren't lying when they say that time goes by faster with a kid. I keep thinking that it's only been a few days or a week since I wrote last, and when I finally come back it's been 2 weeks and the prospect of coming up with something to write about is just too overwhelming.

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But here I am, pushing through it.

Truth be told the last few weeks (months?) have been an absolute blur for a few reasons. Firstly, I have a baby and cliche cliche stereotype cliche. Second, work has been ramping up and since Amelia tends not to adhere to my work schedule I get a lot of work done in the evenings after she's gone to bed. Being a work-at-home mom is hard in a lot of ways I didn't really expect, or if I did expect it I didn't really have a frame of reference and it took me by surprise anyway.

I've been trying to eke out some time to myself here and there, reading books and getting outside to take pictures.  When your whole day is spent catering to the needs of a tiny dictator that looks like your husband and shares half of your DNA, little things like that take on a new meaning. It's nice to spend a little bit of time with things that don't need me, I guess.

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So in the last few weeks we had Mother's Day, my first. Funny story, we actually thought Mother's Day was the week before, on May 2. Well, I did, and Rob pretty much blindly follows my memory (or lack thereof) for dates. So for our pseudo-Mother's Day Rob made me chocolate-banana pancakes and bought me cookies. My friend Suze back in Santa Fe sent me flowers. We spent the actual Mother's Day weekend at Rob's sister's college graduation, which went better than we expected given the fact that we had a ten month old. It was nice to see family and for Amelia to get exposed to new foods and sounds and places.

Other exciting things are happening too. I'm starting to make other mom friends here, and now that the weather is finally nice I'm hoping we can actually start making play dates and so forth. Amelia is sleeping decently at night (knock on wood) and my allergies are starting to abate (double knock on wood). Rob and I met a person here who is Deaf, and after fingerspelling everything with him the first few times we met I thought I'd use the opportunity to teach myself American Sign Language. I've been practicing in the shower and also trying out new sentences with Amelia (who has started to mimic my signs by doing a sort of "one-hand clap" motion, which incidentally means "milk" in Sign Language). Anyway I haven't learned a new language in awhile and thought it'd be interesting to try.

So that's all that's going on here guys. How are you?