A day in the life (7I7 Day 2)

Welcome to Seven Posts in Seven Days, Day 2! If you are new to the party, this week I am joining Jen and legions of other bloggers in writing a post every day. My plan is to use each post to highlight one of my favorite bloggers and imitate a little of what I love about them. Yesterday we talked about blogging phenom Grace and I got honest about the rough patches of mothering a toddler. Today we’re going to talk about Ana of Time Flies When You’re Having Babies. How awesome is her blog title, by the way? So witty, that Ana. Ana and her husband have three daughters and another bambino on the way. She’s Catholic, hilarious, and she lives in South Bend- what more could you want? Sometimes I fantasize a little about moving back to the Bend, going back to my old job at the Center for the Homeless, becoming real-life besties with Ana and Katrina, and raising my family in the shadow of the Golden Dome. Matt could design cars for Studebaker… oh wait. Right. Back to reality. Anyway, whenever a new post by Ana comes up in my feed reader, I click it right away, but I click it EXTRA fast when it’s one of her Day in the Life posts. I LOVE those because she keeps it real and doesn’t sugarcoat all the crazy that comes with mothering little people. I guess maybe I’m also somewhat nosy and I like knowing how other mamas get through the day, especially the infamous post-nap pre-dinner home stretch. Ana’s posts always leave me feeling like we mamas are all doing the best we can, and it’s enough.

So without further ado, here’s what Monday was like in our casa…

7:32 AM: Mary wakes up and cries out for me. She’s still half-asleep, so I nurse her for a couple minutes and lay her back in her crib, hoping to buy another half hour of shuteye.

7:39 AM: Mary is fully awake and raring to go. I lay in bed with my eyes closed and nurse her for as long as she’ll let me. I really need to start going to sleep earlier.

8ish: Coffee’s ready and Mary and I settle on the couch for her morning Sesame Street. 2-3rds through the episode I finally start to feel the caffeine. I read blogs on my phone and check up on instagram while she squeals over Elmo’s World.

9 AM: Elmo’s over and I deny Mary’s requests for another episode. I fetch her morning yogurt and pour myself a bowl of cereal. Mary finally admits that the yogurt is all gone and we wander around getting dressed for the day.

10AM: We’re in the car on the way to a play date at the Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve.  I’m nervous because I organized this outing for several other moms and I’ve never been to this place before. The director assured me by email that their natural history museum is toddler-appropriate, but that sounds like it could go south quickly…

10:30AM: I needn’t have worried. The nature center is darling. There are stuffed animals for the kids to point at, animal pelts to feel, and a toddler corner with books, puzzles, and stuffed animals. A volunteer puts out craft supplies and soon we’re all making birds out of paper plates. Mary impresses me with her glue stick skills- where did that come from?

glue stick master

 

11:30 AM: We say goodbye to our friends and head back towards home. We stop at the grocery store to grab a few things (mainly juice for Daddy- he’s had a head cold and has been drinking nearly half a gallon a day) then we pick up Chickfila for lunch because- surprise!- Daddy’s coming home to eat with us!

12:45 PM: We chow down and tell Daddy about our morning. He’s never come home for lunch before, so this is a treat. He had to pick up some parts that were shipped to our home address. Mary enjoys telling Daddy about the birds she saw through the window at the Nature Center. Daddy and I pretend to understand what she’s talking about, making out the occasional “bird” “cheep” and “sky!”

1:15 PM: Matt’s on his way back to work and Mary and I play on the floor with her toys until naptime. She particularly loves ordering me to lay down on the ground, bringing me a book to read to her, then straddling my back while I read out loud.

2 PM: Naptime. Ahhhh. Mommy takes a little snooze too.

3:15 PM: Mary’s awake and grumpy. I placate her with string cheese, sliced grapes and another episode of Sesame Street. I used to be quite strict about only one Sesame Street per day… then it became one Sesame Street and one Curious George… now most days we have a morning and an afternoon Sesame Street. Sigh. I try not to feel guilty while I read my current library book on the couch (Divergent by Veronica Roth, in case you’re wondering).

4:30- 6:30 PM: My least favorite hours of the day. Does anyone else struggle with the tedium of toddler games? I fold a few loads of laundry in between many many exciting rounds of feed the baby doll, put the stuffed animals to sleep, and her absolute favorite, jump/spin/ run fast.

6:30 PM: While a veggie burger heats up on the stove, I invite Mary to help me make homemade Lara bars. She enthusiastically helps me add ingredients to the food processor and we’re having a grand old time right up until I invite her to press the pulse button. The loud noise of the nuts and dates rolling around terrifies her and even though I promise her that I won’t turn it on again, she whimpers whenever I pass the kitchen counter for the rest of the night.

7 PM: I present Mary with a cheese- and ketchup-covered veggie burger, a chunk of (not homemade) Lara bar and some apple slices. She goes straight for the bar and downs it. Then she ditches the pita bread around the burger, takes a few bites, and decides to just chew the cheese and ketchup off the top instead. The apples receive a nibble as an afterthought.

Mary's motto: Never waste cheese.

Mary’s motto: Never waste cheese.

7:30 PM: I declare dinnertime over and we get cleaned up. Mary helps me straighten the play area before bed. I would say I remember to ask her to do this about half the time? A third of the time? But I really should do it more often because she’s actually helpful at putting stuff away and my motivation to clean toys after she goes to bed is pretty much nil. She even sings a version of the clean up song while she hands me toys: “Keen up, keen up…” (repeat, repeat, repeat)

7:45 PM: Mary’s in her jammies and we snag a quick bathroom selfie before toothbrushing. She’s down for anything that delays bedtime.

If I snuggle you, you'll forget about brushing my teeth, right?

If I snuggle you, you’ll forget about brushing my teeth, right?

8PM: We’ve read a bedtime story, Mary has nursed, and I finally lay her in her crib. She flips over to her stomach and closes her eyes. Ahh- another day in the books.

Many apologies- that was super long, and this is the edited down version! Check back tomorrow for more. I’m going to join Hallie for Five Favorites 🙂

Seven Posts in Seven Days: An Homage

7 day blog challenge 7 posts, 7 days

Jen of Conversion Diary fame has set out to write seven posts in seven days and she’s invited anyone and everyone to play along. My first reaction: Yeah! I should do that! My second reaction: Um- how long does it usually take me to write seven posts? Seven months would be a generous underestimate.  Third reaction: What on earth could I write about for seven days?

Oh bother.

I pondered long and hard while my wee one ran out her energy in the mall playground. Well, let’s be honest- it was more like think, start to have an idea, jump up and mediate a toddler scuffle, think, recover spot in previous train of thought, remind my kid to wait her turn on the slide… etc. etc. But at long last, I had an epiphany. I enjoy reading many excellent blogs every day. My seven posts should each be an homage to my favorite bloggers!

Homage (n.): Shameless rip-off of better writers’ ideas, disguised with sincere praise of their blogging prowess

First up: Grace of Camp Patton. I doubt Grace needs an introduction, but just in case, she’s a fantastic Catholic mama to four darling kiddos (one’s still an internal baby) and she writes about their shenanigans with a heaping helping of honesty. Her husband is in residency and his schedule makes my husband’s look easy, especially since residency lasts a whole heck of a lot longer than launching a vehicle. Grace is well-named because every time she describes another toddler escapade, she handles the situation ten times as gracefully as I would have (and she finds a way to laugh about it, too).

One of the things I really love about Grace is that she’s isn’t afraid to be honest about motherhood. It’s hard work. Rewarding, of course, and fun most of the time, but really, really hard. In Grace’s honor, I’m going to make myself a little vulnerable and be honest too.

Here’s the truth: I had no idea what reserves of patience I carried within me until I had a child. Every day she reminds me that we humans exist to love and serve God and one another. Without her, I would still be so wrapped up in myself that I would never be able to spot the road to Heaven, let alone fit through the eye of the needle one day. In her own tiny tyrannical way, she’s making me into a saint.

And not a day goes by where I don’t resent her for it, at least a little bit. 

Toddler behaviors I could do without, among many:

  • Kicking and screaming in the car for no apparent reason except maybe because she sensed I was enjoying my moment of quiet in the front seat
  • Sudden dislike of food that was acceptable, even loved, quite recently
  • Constant “Uh? Uh?” asking about something in the house or drawing my attention to something
  • The need for my attention all. the. time.
  • The carrying on that takes place every time I announce she needs a diaper change

And if her shriek could come down a few decibels, that would be lovely, thanks.

A C. S. Lewis quote comes to mind. I’m paraphrasing because my books are in storage in Michigan, but essentially he writes, “My life is like a poem that God has written. He will keep erasing and rewriting me until I am perfect. I just wish he wouldn’t work at it so hard.” Serving Mary (and my husband too) will be my path to Heaven- but it’s going to be a long journey.

Day 1- in the books. See you tomorrow for a Day in the Life ala Ana of Time Flies When You’re Having Babies.

Whoops, pardon me…

Dear sweet Mama we met at the library storytime last week,

I put my foot in my mouth last week, and I’m sorry.

It drives me crazy when other people imply that my job as a stay at home mom is easy or relaxing. So when you asked why we had moved to Louisville, please know that I was nervous and speaking faster than I was thinking when I said, “We’re here for my husband’s job. It’s just for eight months, which isn’t enough time for me to get a job, so I’m just hanging out with my daughter and having fun with her.”

Mary loves her books!

Mary loves her books!

Ugh, I can’t believe I said that. Being a stay at home mom IS a real job. It’s actually more real than a job that comes with a W2 since it’s my vocation and life purpose. And to go even further and imply that this job is EASY? I mean, I love the little monster, but keeping her safe and happy and healthy is a never-ending task. Babies are hard work, pure and simple.

One of Daddy's favorite books plays a prominent role at our new children's library area.

One of Daddy’s favorite books plays a prominent role at our new children’s library area. Right after I took this picture, she bolted into the quiet grownup area.

I guess I said those things because I’m still trying to feel at home in my new role. I never planned on being a stay at home mom. I was raised by a hard-working mother who successfully juggled her medical practice with motherhood. We all heard the stories growing up about how women can achieve just as much as men professionally. I just finished getting my masters in social work in order to be successful in my career. I mean, we define ourselves so much by our jobs. “What do you do for a living?” is a common small talk question. I guess I’m just not used to saying, “I’m a mom. I keep house and cook for my family. I take care of my husband so that he can work long hours and provide for us. I am trying to raise my daughter to be a kind and loving soul.”

Mary tried her hands at coloring after a storytime session at the local library.

Mary tried her hands at coloring after a storytime session at the local library.

At the same time, I am so grateful for this time with Mary. She’s learning every day and I get to be there to see it. She’s a wonderful little partner as we explore a new town together. It’s a blessing and a luxury that we are in a place financially where I can be at home with her.

Mary's favorite part of going to the park has to be woodchips. Or other kids. Or other kids with woodchips.

Mary’s favorite part of going to the park has to be woodchips. Or other kids. Or other kids with woodchips.

So, other mom whose name I didn’t catch because you made a hasty departure after my faux pas, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to put you down or make your life’s work seem less important than that of our employed sisters. I’m just new to this party and trying to figure it all out. Be patient with me, though- I’m getting there.

Wheeee!

Wheeee!

An afternoon with Mary

Fotor0503133912

 

1. Oooh, a book!

2. Gotcha!

(happily redirected to another activity…)

3. Five minutes later.

(quick babyproofing effort by Mom…)

4.  Ten minutes later. She’s persistent, I’ll give her that.

A New Start

Yesterday was a big day for Mary and I. It was the first day of a new chapter of our lives: I am officially, completely, a full-time every-day stay-at-home mom. 

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I have been psyching myself up for this change for months. Yep, months. Staying home postpartum with Mary was not the happiest time in my life, and I know there were hormones and postpartum depression and brand new baby and brand new mom and YES, things are different now, thank God, but still. Still. I’m scared-nervous-excited-worried-hopeful. But I have a plan! Which always makes me feel better.

Step One: Find our Village

For the past month or so I have been scoping out Mommy-Baby playgroups online. We’re lucky to live in an area where there are lots of families and nice parks and things to do. Mommyhood was NOT meant to be done alone, I firmly believe. Mary and I were signed up for two playdates yesterday… mildly ambitious? Instead, we ended up here again:

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Ugh, the doctor’s office, We’ve been here four times this month trying to ditch an ear infection. The good news is she’s on the mend. The bad news is we’re not playdate-ready just yet.

Step Two: Find Fulfillment

Being a mom is tedious. It just is. There’s only so many times you can change a diaper or spoon feed some yogurt before you’re just, GUH! I NEED FULFILLMENT! I think the trick is going to be listening to that need, calling it fair and legitimate, and working out a solution. Maybe I’ll craft or read during Mary’s naptime. Maybe I’ll look up a new baby game or activity on Pinterest to play with Mary. Maybe I’ll take a few minutes at night to write a note to a friend. There are lots of options. The only wrong choice is to pretend that I don’t need fulfillment. Yesterday, I worked on making decorations for Mary’s birthday party this weekend. Can’t show you yet, but look for pictures next week!

Step Three: Ride the Wave

Mamahood isn’t fun all the time, but the good thing about Mary’s age is that even when she’s unhappy, her mood will change for the better before too long.

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Step Four: Listen to those who came before (i.e. Don’t reinvent the wheel)

I’ve checked out a book on stay-at-home parenting from the library. (Hi, I’m Laura, I overplan.) I’m always on the lookout for wisdom from other moms. It’s the main reason I read blogs. We’re in this together, am I right?

Christmas in the Mitten State

We celebrated Christmas as a little family on the feast of the Epiphany. It didn’t make much sense for us to haul our presents for each other down to Georgia for Christmas, only to pay to ship them back to Michigan again. Plus we got to have a Christmas-morning-esque experience just the three of us, which was pretty special. Mary’s favorite part of the gift-giving was certainly the wrapping paper:

My favorite part is how she keeps looking at us to make sure she’s allowed to play with the paper. “Are you guys sure about this? This seems likes something I shouldn’t be allowed to play with…”

Dusting off and starting again

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When I reread the last post I wrote on this blog, I feel like it’s from another lifetime. Those first few months with a baby were so hard. I read that post and remember a new mom trying desperately to find equilibrium. Life is so different now. It’s not that I have parenting figured out- in fact, Matt and I have at least one conversation a week about what we need to do differently/ better in how we parent Mary- it’s that I’m more confident in my role. I know my kid now, and I know she loves me. Everything else we learn as we go.

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I’m hoping in this new year I will have more time to write my thoughts here. I’m not making any grand promises or resolutions. I have one more semester of graduate school, but it’s heavy on internship and light on class, so my homework load should be easier. We’ll see how it goes.

Speaking of new years resolutions, I made just one: to cook 52 new recipes this year. It’s simple, it’s attainable, and it will give me joy to feed my family new and different things. Theoretically.

Last night was Night One in the recipe challenge, and let’s just say we all hope that future recipes go more smoothly. Matt came home from work late after a rough day, and I had promised him a homemade meal. He found an apartment cloudy with smoke and this waiting on the stove:

2013-01-02 20.23.47

It’s supposed to be Honey Mustard Pork Chops from this recipe. Needless to say, I don’t recommend the recipe. Matt swears it wasn’t so bad despite the charring…

I had made sweet potatoes to go with the meal, a crowd pleaser in our house. As we crunched our burnt chops, I commented to Matt, “At least I can’t mess up sweet potatoes.” Then he cut into his potato, bought at the store just the day before, and found this:

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Seriously? Seriously. Sigh. One recipe down, 51 to go…

Still here

Image

When you have a new baby, everyone asks you how you’re doing. All the time. Explaining how life is after having your first child is like trying to explain what smelling is like to someone who can’t smell. Our lives have been completely and totally changed. How are we? Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Slowly getting the hang of things. Sometimes miserable because we have no idea what’s making her cry. Sometimes thrilled because she’s done something new and we’re so proud of her. Mostly just tired, and looking forward to the time everyone promises is coming- the time when things are “better.” Staying home with an infant all day, every day is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’ve had help, thank heavens, in the form of grandparents visiting as often as they can, but for the most part it’s just me and the baby, trying to figure each other out and not go crazy in the meantime. It’s super lonely and frustrating and I’m pushing through because she deserves this from me- but “better” could hustle up a little, thank you. I’m just saying. Til then, I am holding on to the truth that serving her is my vocation and my purpose for right now. How are we? We’re just fine.