Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Here's to April!

March has been a jam-packed month for us - I'll be so happy when it's over.

We've had doctor appointments, dentist appointments, hair appointments, preschool tours, sports classes, music classes, Master's classes, visitors, and visitings.

I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm hungry. I'm going crazy listening to the whirring engine of the "moving Thomas" that went under the couch where I can't reach it - 2 hours ago!

Budsy is still doing his weird wake-up-every-couple-of-hours thing, so my sleep is sporadic. We're working on it, but sleep training has it's own set of frustrations. Lack of sleep, of course, leads to my crankiness...

We have almost no food in the house. I am not exaggerating. Our fridge is so sad right now - four containers of yogurt, fixings for quesadillas, and half a bag of salad, but no salad dressing. We ran out of milk at dinner... I desperately need to go to the grocery store, but it's really difficult to do a full shopping trip with both kids, one of which is in the middle of potty training. So I have to wait for the husband to get home and then I get to drag my tired, cranky butt to the store at 9:30 at night.

And despite all of the craziness that has been our month, I feel bored...

We try to do something everyday - usually something that should take about an hour - but somehow it's all I get done all day! I don't know how it happens, but it does. I swear. We're not out of the house until 10:00. It takes a half hour to get anywhere and everywhere. We stay for an hour or so, then head home - another half hour. Now it's 12:00 and time for lunch. After lunch it's nap time. By the time Monkey is up from his nap, it's time to start dinner. After dinner, Budsy goes down for the night. Then it's Monkey's turn. The next thing I know, it's 9:30 at night and time to go to the grocery store!

Enough already! I'm ready to get out of this rut...

I know things will be better as soon as we get a handle on the potty training and I'm confident enough to really go out and about again. Meanwhile, it's just hard. I miss my friends. I miss going to the park. I miss Target.

So, here's to April... may it bring me a bit of sleep, some time with friends, and a regularly stocked refrigerator!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Potty Training *gulp*

Monkey has been ready for potty training for some time now. He's been verbally ready for over a year. He's been physically ready for a good eight months. We've been using the potty on and off for about six months. The hestitation has been on my part.

I didn't want to mess with the mess. The wet pee clothes, the disgusting poop underwear, the constant need to ask if he needed to go... I thought diapers were, well, easier.

He was probably truly ready back in September, but there were already big changes happening in his life. First, we went from a toddler bed to a big kid bed. Then, we were going to be going on a couple of weekend trips. Then it was November and the baby was coming. The timing just wasn't right...

And now, here we are. Diapers are no longer easier. Trying to wrestle a 32 pound, kicking, screaming, wriggling, defiant toddler out of and then back in to a diaper should be an Olympic sport. Plus, I'm already changing 10ish infant diapers a day. I don't need any additional diaper duty.

I decided to work with the momentum of a weekend around Monkey's cousin D. D is 9 months older than Monkey and Monkey basically wants to grow up to be D. Seriously. If I want Monkey to do something, I simply tell him that D does it. Luckily, D is a potty-using rockstar. So, when Monkey said he wanted to use the potty on Monday, I went with it and made my most recent major parenting decision.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 - remember the date. The start of some serious potty training.

So far, it's been a 2-steps-forward-1-step-back kind of journey. We've had a few pee accidents, but they seem to have subsided (for now). We had 2 days of pooping in the potty. Then my biggest potty training fear materialized. Yes, it was gross. No, thank God, we weren't really out and about - we were at my very understanding sister's house. Yes, I had to give him a bath. And now, we haven't had any pooping AT ALL for 2 days. *sigh*

In just 5 days, I've run a gamut of emotions.

Pride, joy, elation - he finally did it! This experience has reminded me how everything is new and exciting for a child. Monkey was so happy with himself on Tuesday, I wanted to cry...

Frustation, anger, irritation - he was just doing it! This has been a huge test of my patience as a mom.

I can only imagine how Monkey feels... One minute he's racing to the bathroom with a grin on his face, yelling about having to go pee pee, and then the next minute, he's throwing a fit because I won't put a diaper on him. His life as he's known it for the last 33 months has changed. Majorly.

For now, we're taking it one day at a time. I know this is the only way to do it.

I also know there's no turning back.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I'm exhausted.

I know this isn't unusual for new (again) parents, but it's really hitting me hard this time. Maybe it's because I'm older than last time. Perhaps it's because I had just gotten used to a full night's sleep again. Or possibly it's because I'm handling a toddler and an infant 14 hours a day.

I don't know why. I just know I'm exhausted.

Budsy is 16 weeks old now and at 15 pounds is physically capable of sleeping through the night. Yet he's still up every few hours at night and insists on nursing. It's driving me insane.

On average, I'm getting about 6 hours of sleep a night. Of course, this isn't 6 straight, restful hours of sleep...

I'm in bed at 10:ish. Asleep around 10:30.

He cries at 12:ish. I stumble down the hall, nurse him, change him, put him back to bed. Put myself back to bed. Asleep around 12:30.

He cries at 3:ish. I stumble down the hall, nurse him, change him, put him back to bed. Put myself back to bed. Asleep around 3:30.

He cries at 4:30ish. I stumble down the hall, pop the pacifier in his mouth, pray that he falls back asleep. Put myself back to bed. Asleep around 4:45.

He cries at 6:ish. I groan and kick my husband - your turn. I listen to him cry while my half-sleeping husband struggles to change him. I listen to his cries get louder as my husband brings him down the hall. I contemplate pretending to be asleep, but realize that it's a lost cause. I sit up and nurse him.

By 6:30 he's asleep again in our bed. I fade in and out of sleep while I try not to roll on the baby. My husband gets up to get ready for the day. Just as I convince myself that it's ok to grab 5 more minutes of sleep, I feel Monkey climbing up on the bed. *sigh*

I'm exhausted.

Monday, March 19, 2012

One on One Time

My mom graciously took Monkey for a day last week, giving me some quality one on one time with Budsy. It was really nice, but it got me thinking about a couple of things. First, I had completely forgotten how boring it is to entertain an infant all day - it's time to haul out the baby toys. And second, it really hit me that I won't have any significant one on one time with Monkey for another 9ish months and it kind of bummed me out.

For 2 1/2 years it was him and me together - day in and day out. The arrival of Budsy changed everything.

I rarely have focused playtime with Monkey anymore. All activities seem to be combined with baby care - nurse the baby while playing trains, burp the baby while reading stories, rock the baby while singing songs. I even front pack the baby during sports class! Budsy is old enough now to be put down for a while, but I'm still splitting my attention between both boys.

Play with Monkey while the baby sleeps, you say? Well, Budsy is a cat napper, which means he only sleeps for about 45 minutes at any given time during the day. One nap is during breakfast, one usually takes place in the car, one is during Monkey's nap, and one final, short nap is usually while I'm attempting to get something that passes for dinner on the table. I can catch about an hour of Mommy-Monkey time between Budsy's bedtime and Monkey's, but it's an exhausting hour for me and I wouldn't necessarily categorize it as quality time.

Part of the problem is that, by choice, I'm exclusively breastfeeding the baby on demand and that means that I have to be available to him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Even as he gets older and doesn't nurse as frequently, I'll still have to be there for him throughout the day. It will be like that until around Christmas when I'll start to really wean him. I can throw a bottle in there every once, but those of you that have nursed a baby will understand that I can't really miss more than one feeding.

This all adds up to mean that I can only spend limited one on one time with Monkey. I won't get an entire day for more than an entire year. And that really bums me out.

Monday, March 12, 2012

His Busy Life

It's been a busy 6 months and it's not going to stop any time soon...

Last Fall, my husband was given the opportunity to participate in a Master's Degree program through work. We talked it over, weighed the pros (free Master's from UCSD, educational advancement, potential career advancement) and cons (we're going to have a new baby in the house, extra work, less time at home), and decided that it would be better for him to participate now than in the future when we have an even crazier schedule and, possibly, more kids.

As a result, he now has his full time job working 40+ hours a week AND his 16-32 hours of class time, depending on the week AND ever-changing homework time commitments AND individual finals due every 4 weeks AND group finals due every 4 weeks! Throw in his commute time and as you can imagine, he's not able to be home very much right now...

When he is home, there are bills to be paid, finances to update, honey-do lists to tackle, kids to play with, and a wife to steal a hug and kiss from.

This ridiculous schedule will not calm down until June, when his classes are over. And things will not be back to "normal" until September, when the Master's program is complete.

Meanwhile, I am with the boys. A toddler and an infant. All the time. By myself. *sigh*

There are days at a time when he only sees the boys for an hour each morning. There are days at a time when he doesn't see them at all... I know it's been hard for him. I know it's been hard for me. And I know it's been hard for Monkey. Budsy's too little to know the difference.

I'm trying really hard not to bother him with extra stuff or ask too much of him.

I'm trying really hard not to feel resentful of his "freedom" on my tough days.

I'm trying really hard not to make him feel guiltier than he already does about not being home.

Had we known what we were really getting into, would our decision have been different? I don't know...

I just wish he was able to be here more. I wish he had more energy to play with the boys. I wish he could have a break. I wish I could have a break.

We keep reminding each other that this will ultimately be what's best for our family... But it's really hard right now.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Million Kisses

If I Only Had a Million Kisses - A Poem

If I only had a million kisses
I don't know what I'd do
How do you stop at a million kisses
When you have children two?

You start with them each morning
You end with them at night
You offer them all day long
Because that's what feels right

You dole them out with each hello
You add them to each goodbye
You hand them out for bonks and bruises
They are the remedy for each small cry

A million kisses would be gone like that
Most likely sometime before noon
A million kisses would be gone in nothing flat
Definitely too soon

You give them out for love
You give them out for fun
You give them out to soothe a soul
You can never give just one

You can place them on a little foot
You can place them on a hand
You can place them on a little cheek
It really makes no difference where they land

Kisses offer comfort
Kisses show you care
Kisses make things better
Kisses mean that you are there

If I only had a million kisses
I don't know what I'd do
How could you stop at a million kisses
When you have children two?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Preparing for Preschool

Monkey will be 3 in May. Three years old. Wow...

You know the saying? The days are long, but the years are short? All too true.

I've been lucky enough to be home with Monkey since he was born. I've been there to witness his first smile, first laugh, first food, first tooth, first word... I've kissed all the little boo boos and bonks. I've played countless hours of trains, cars, and blocks. I've read hundreds of stories out loud.

I've seen my son grow into an awesome little person. He talks proficiently and is quite articulate. He knows his numbers up to 20 and the alphabet all the way through. He knows his shapes and colors. He can throw a ball better and farther than some adults. He has a sense of humor and a sense of compassion. He understands more than I would have thought possible for a 2 year old.

I think I've done a pretty good job at my job of being a mother. But, now it's time for the next step.

Preschool. Wow...

He'll learn to follow directions, share, and make new friends. He'll learn to listen to a teacher, take turns, and be patient. He'll learn how to write his name, color within the lines, and cut with scissors. He'll bring home art projects and eagerly tell me about his day.

We've been touring preschools this week to see where he will best fit in come September. There is a lot to take into consideration - Two days or three days? Half days or full days? Church school or private school? Montessori or Piaget? Of course, from Monkey's perspective, he just wants a fun playground with lots of balls.

I'm excited for him to experience the next step of his little life. I want him to go to school and learn all these things. I know he's ready. And, believe it or not, I'm ready too.

Monday, March 5, 2012


There have been a lot of really tragic stories in the news over the last year involving children. I try to avoid reading or watching these stories, because they are so upsetting to me. It especially breaks my heart to think that a person, particularly a parent, could do something to hurt a child.

Each time a new incident is in the news, it makes me redouble my effort to be a loving parent to my children. Here are some things that I wish all parents would do...

Always tell your children you love them, every day. Yes, even when it's been a tough day.

Always take the time to play with your kids. I mean really play with them.

Always learn the words to their favorite songs and the names of their favorite characters.

Always listen to their stories, even if you've heard it before. It's important to them.

Always be willing to give out hugs and kisses. It costs you nothing, but can mean everything to a child.

Always offer them comfort when they're sad, hurt, or mad. They need to know it's going to be ok.

Always smile with them when they're happy. Share in their joy.

Always laugh with them when they're being silly or goofy.

Always encourage them to help others. It will teach them compassion.

Always try to exercise patience. They are young and don't know any better.

Always offer guidance, but let them ultimately choose their own path.

Always enjoy the cuddles. There will be a day when they pull away.

Always cherish the quiet moments.

Always take pictures and videos. They grow up so fast.

Always support them in their endeavours.

Always encourage them to try new things and do their best.

Always be a good role model. You are their first and most influential.

Always tuck them in at night, kiss their foreheads, and tell them you'll see them in the morning.

Always remember that you are their parent and that they look to you for all these things.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

When I Grow Up...

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. And a stay-at-home one at that.

I started babysitting when I was about 10. My dear aunt actually trusted me with my baby cousin! From there I went on to watching the kids of neighbors and family friends. By the time high school hit, I was funding all activities, clothing purchases, and gas money with weekend babysitting gigs. During college, I nannied over Summers. And even before I got married, I started thinking about the day we would be ready for a family.

What I never really thought about, was what I would do with myself in the meantime.

I majored in History in college. It was a subject I really enjoyed. Plus, it came easy to me and I knew I could ace the classes. It never dawned on me that I would have limited job options with "only" a B.A. in History. So I decided to pursue teaching. What else do you do with a history degree? Then, 2 months before graduation - my acceptance to a teaching program in hand - I decided I didn't want to be a teacher.

Now what?

My parents have never said anything, but I'm pretty sure they were worried about me. Four years at a private university, thousands of dollars of debt, and no plan!?

Luckily, they didn't have to worry long.

My dad was actually the one that got me connected with my first job interview. His boss's friend's boss (got that?) was looking for an entry level analyst at her environmental consulting firm. No experience necessary. Perfect.

And so, two months after graduation, I began my first real job as an Environmental Analyst. I was making $14.00 an hour and I was ecstatic! I had no idea what I was doing, but still!

It turns out that I was pretty good at being an Environmental Analyst. My major actually prepared me pretty well for this line of work - I knew how to critically analyze documents, I knew how to write in a way that the general public could understand, and I was great at doing research. All very useful skills in evironmental consulting work. I caught on quickly and got to be involved in a lot of really neat development projects during the boom of the 2000s.

After getting married, my husband and I decided to move to be near his new job, which meant I had to quit mine. It was the right thing to do, but it was also really hard. I liked my job. I liked my co-workers. I felt guilty for leaving a company that had taken a chance on me, even though I had no experience.

Plus, I had no idea what I was going to do next.

I tried to find work at another environmental company, but nothing panned out. Months went by and I was really getting discouraged. I finally started putting in applications at local cities hoping for a position in a Planning Department. I also enrolled in an extended education class on Urban Planning - anything to boost my chances of landing a job.

Finally, after being out of work for 8 months, I got the call! Entry-level, Planner I at the City of Oceanside. When can I start?

I worked at the city for 3 1/2 years before I had Monkey and I loved (almost) every minute of it.

The work was interesting and challenging. I felt like I was also doing something important for my community. Once I got the hang of it, I actually enjoyed the public speaking involved with Planning Commission and City Council meetings. It was rewarding to know that I was helping citizens with their housing projects and businesses. I learned how to manage a project team, how to manage my time, and how to conduct meetings. I found ways to balance the best interest of the public and the goals of developers. I discovered city politics. I met many, many interesting people and I made a lot of friends.

I believe working at the City of Oceanside had a lot to do with my "miss to ma'am" transformation.

As a result, one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make was whether or not to return to work after my maternity leave was up. I had always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I had found a job, a career, that I loved. I had NEVER thought about being in that position.

In the end, I knew that I could always return to the work force one day, but my children would only be children for a short time. It was with a truly heavy heart that I told my bosses that I had decided not to return to work.

I think about going back to work sometimes, but hopefully not anytime soon. I'm enjoying my time at home with my children. So for now, I just think of what I may want to do in the future. What will I be when I grow up some more? Will I go back into planning? Back to environmental analysis? Back to school to try something different?

Only time will tell.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Never Say Never

The most important piece of advice I could offer to a parent-to-be is "never say never".
It is something to embrace wholeheartedly as a parent. I promise that if you do, it will save you hours of frustration and guilty feelings. Never say never, because you will most likely be eating that word, along with a big piece of humble pie, at some point in your life.

Before becoming parents, my husband and I were notorious for being the "We will never..." couple. Not that we would ever say anything to an offending parent directly, but we definitely discussed the "never" scenarios with each other. We were going to be perfect parents, raising perfect children.

Well, I prefer my humble pie a la mode.
We will never let our children use a pacifier. It's a bad habit!
Ha! That idea flew out the window before the end of day ONE with Monkey. He just wouldn't stop crying in the hospital and after I had tried feeding him 6 times, changed his diaper 10 times, and rocked him for what felt like hours, I finally gave in to a pacifier. It worked like a charm! He quieted right down, was happy, and fell fast asleep. Lesson learned.
We will never order off the kids menu for our children. It's expensive and a waste! They can eat some of whatever we order!
And on the same note:
We will never let our children scream in a restaurant. It's so rude to the other customers - especially those without kids!
Guess what? I have a picky eater, a.k.a. a toddler. He doesn't want to eat my food. He wants his own food. And right now, all he eats is grilled cheese. I don't want to eat grilled cheese every time we go out. I want my own food. Plus, if I'm going to get through the meal without the screaming, I had better just order the dang grilled cheese!
We will never let our children run around like banshees in a store. It's ridiculous that people can't control their kids!
I promise you, I try really hard to not be "that mom", but there are times when it is flat out IMPOSSIBLE to keep Monkey still and anywhere in the vicinity of where I want him. Add the whole infant situation and there's no way I'm going to always have control. I try, I really do. But Monkey is smart. He figured out within days of Budsy's arrival that there are certain things I cannot do when I have the baby in my arms. Like run after him or grab him out from under a display table.

And this one is a doozy:
We will never threaten or bribe our children to get them to do or not do something. It's all about authority - who's in charge? You or your kids?! Teach your children to follow directions!
Wow! We were so naive!

There are a few things we've learned since becoming parents regarding this one:

First - When kids are toddlers, THEY are the ones in charge. Even if it's not apparent on the surface, believe me, they are. As a parent, you should try really hard to not let them know this. And, regarding directions, the saying is true - trying to get a toddler to follow directions is like trying to herd cats. Try it. You'll see.

Second - It's perfectly legitimate to NOT give a child dessert if they refuse to eat their dinner. It's acceptable, encouraged even, to go straight home if your kid throws sand/sticks/rocks one more time. And sometimes going to bed without books and songs might be just what a kid needs if they're throwing a temper tantrum at bedtime.

And Third - Regarding bribery... *ahem*... we try to limit the treats to a few a day. Now, don't worry, treats aren't necessarily candy and other sweets. They also come in the form of fish crackers, 5 more minutes, trips to the toy store (to play, not to buy - I'd be broke!), and episodes of Thomas the Train. But I tell you what, it's nice to have a few tricks up my sleeves to get Monkey to do things like put toys away, or get dressed, or stop whining because his train fell off the tracks yet again.

These were just a few of the "never" statements that were made over the years prior to having our kids. Over the last couple of years, I have luckily learned to live by my own advice - Never say never.

Who knows? I may even invest in one of those child leashes one of the these days...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Diet Starts Tomorrow!

It's no secret that pregnancy wreaks havoc on a woman's body.

You put on weight every where and in the oddest places (fingers? ankles? nose? I didn't sign on for this!). You can barely sleep. Your skin reminds you of being 15, in a bad way. Your hair goes through a bad hair 9 months. And your back aches likes nobody's business.

Then you have the baby and you think, thank God, now everything will go back to how it was before.

And that is where the big secret lies.

Your body doesn't go back to those pre-pregnancy days. Certainly not right away. And in some ways, never again.

For me, the biggest challenge with both my pregnancies was the weight gain. I knew I would gain weight while pregnant, but I wasn't prepared for how much weight I would put on.

With Monkey, I gained somewhere around 65 pounds. I'm not sure what the final number was, but at my last weigh-in a few days before he was born, I clocked in at 207! I'm only 5'4" folks! Obviously, I took the whole eating-for-two thing too literally. I had kept up with gym appointments the entire pregnancy, but it wasn't enough to counter the cravings. Apparently a slow walk on a treadmill for 15 minutes, three times a week, doesn't burn the number of calories in a large milkshake from In and Out - who knew?

I lost 20 pounds right off the bat, but after that everything stalled. I had always heard that breastfeeding helped you lose weight and I was counting on that being true. Well, this is true, but only to an extent. After 3 months, I was only down another 5 pounds. It took 4 more months to drop another 5 pounds. I found it to be really difficult to diet with a new baby in the house - I ate what I could, when I could. And forget about the gym - I couldn't stand the thought of leaving the baby for an hour, even with Daddy. I also found that my child hated the stroller and as a result, it wasn't at all enjoyable to go on walks.

After an entire year and very little progress, I knew I needed to actually start working at losing the weight. We were talking about having another baby and I dreaded the idea of putting another 60 pounds on top of the 30 extra pounds I was still toting around. So I dragged myself back to the gym and started Weight Watchers. Best decision of my life - I lost 20 pounds in three months!

In the end, it took me almost 2 years to take off the "baby weight". It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But, I'm proud to say that I actually ended up in better shape than I was before getting pregnant with Monkey.

So, when I got pregnant with Budsy, I was determined to do better. I really watched what I ate and I tried to keep up with exercise. I kept my cravings in check as much as pregnant-humanly possible. I didn't do great, but I did better - I put on 50 pounds.

Again, I lost 20 pounds right off the bat. From my previous experience, I knew that with breastfeeding I would lose about 5 more pounds during the first 3 months. So I decided to give myself that 3 months and not worry about actively losing weight - I would just try to eat as healthy as possible and not over-indulge.

Well, Budsy turned 3 months yesterday. I've lost 26 pounds since he was born. Now it's time to get serious. I have signed up with Weight Watchers online and I am determined to lose this weight. My short term goal - 15 pounds over the next 3 months. My long term goal - back to pre-pregnancy weight by the end of summer.

Wish me luck! Diet starts tomorrow!