Friday, January 31, 2014

Water boy

On an unseasonably warm January day, I took Brandon to the park. It's only a half mile away, so I strap him into his stroller and we walk there. I parked the stroller and we walked into the sand and up onto the big toy. We were playing for a few minutes before I looked over at the stroller.

Now let me preface what I'm about to say by saying I'm not a Sizest at all. In fact, I'm a bit on the chubby side, myself. But I do want to paint a picture for you of how disheveled this kid was, and that includes a comment about his weight. Get over it. You don't even know him.

So, when I looked over at our stroller, there was this chubby kid with a plumber's crack in full view. His hair was full of sand and his pants were not only too low, they were also too short. He didn't appear to come with any parents attached. Not only was he standing at the stroller, but he was drinking out of my water cup.

Now I'm very particular about my water cup. Every night I fill up this tumbler with ice cold water and drink out of it until I go to bed. It is my go-to cup and I don't like to drink water from any other container. But seeing that Grande Pig Pen's lips on my beloved straw was almost more than I could take. I soaked that tumbler for days in soapy hot water before I attempted to drink out of it again.

And, somehow, miraculously, I am drinking out of my beloved tumbler again. This is a giant leap for a previous germaphobe. There was a girl on my soccer team in high school that always asked for a drink of my pop and I always threw the nearly-full can away afterward. Her lipstick stains were too much for me. I am very weird about seeing lipstick stains or chewed gum or anything that I know is covered in mouth germs. It's a good thing this kid wasn't wearing lipstick.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

dress up

Brandon is a casual kind of kid. But he likes dad's ties.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dinner at the buffet

We have a one-week trial of a recruiting database at my work. "I'll get more than a week's use out of it," I say, "you should see me at a buffet."

But seriously - you should. I was raised by a very frugal father. He would take us to Old Country Buffet on occasion.  Whenever that happened, my sister and I would run laps around the cul-de-sac beforehand to make sure we were good and hungry to get dad's money's worth. "Have another plate," dad would say jovially as we ate like hogs. "We paid for it." And we would. I ate so much cheap cod and jello squares that my stomach would turn into a pond of it's own.

In sixth grade, I won a scholarship to summer camp. And I loved it. The next year, when there wasn't a scholarship available, dad assured me I could still go to summer camp. I would just need to pay for it myself. I saved my money from babysitting which I handed over to my dad to lock away in his safe. He would periodically pull my money back out for me so I could count it, even though I knew how much I had put in there. Mysterious extra $5 bills would appear and dad would smile and tell me that was the bank paying me interest.

As my adult years have gone on and we have become more financially stable, I haven't stopped being frugal. I clip and sort coupons to use on weekly grocery trips. I will complete a 10 minute survey on a receipt just to save $2. I take pictures of RetailMeNot coupon codes at home for the stores I'm about to visit in case I don't have an internet connection while I'm in there.

I'm not a freak that buys 200 cans of baked beans because they're on sale, but I also don't spend more than I have to. And I thank my dad for that lesson. If you want to have some money, don't spend it all. Dad could have paid for my summer camp each year, I know. But he was teaching me something more important - that I could, myself. And in that, he began teaching me to be an independent woman.


Monday, January 27, 2014

semi-retirement

In eight weeks, Holden will be here. There is so much to do. There are so many lasts with us now, and soon to be so many firsts. These are my last eight weeks of working for awhile. I found a new job which I plan to work at until Holden is born. Only eight more weeks of a morning commute and of picking up Brandon from daycare. It's hard to fathom. I'm not just going on maternity leave, I'm staying home with our two boys for awhile. I'm going into semi-retirement.

I don't know how it will shake out. But I do know that I want to spend as much time with my little growing boys as I can. Yesterday Steve and I took Brandon to the zoo and it made him so happy. I can do things like that with my boys, and not only on weekends. I read yesterday in a parenting book that no matter whether a mother works or doesn't, many times she will feel guilt regardless.

I can see that. I'm already feeling guilty that I won't be contributing to our household income. I don't want to turn into a crazy person because I never have adult interaction. I want to still feel the purpose I feel from doing my job well.  And these worries are while I'm still at work. But I'm hoping none of the guilt is quite to the extent of the mommy guilt I felt the first day I dropped off 12-week-old Brandon at daycare.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

toy room - phase 2

A few weeks ago, I decided to convert our dining room into a toy room. That was phase one. Then, having some time on my hands without a job, I overhauled into phase 2. Forgive me for not cleaning up the toys before taking the pictures. That's the beauty of a toy room - you don't feel compelled to clean in constantly because it's made for exactly this sort of destruction.





Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Perspective

Nine years ago, I was a senior in college. My parents had just found out I was pregnant. And in a whirlwind, my life changed. At my mom's orders, I moved out of my apartment, quit my jobs, and moved back into my mom's house. I found a new job. I transferred my language class to the local community college. Mom told me to start going to church every Sunday. I remember being angry at her for making my already tumultuous life even more so.

I remember being upset when she would talk to her friends about my situation like it was all about her. I remember hating my lack of privacy and being watched like a caged zoo animal. I remember anger and resentment. And now, I wish I had written down what I was feeling. I know why I didn't - because I was sure anything I wrote would be discovered and shared with others while I was living under mom's roof. But how I wish I had gotten those feelings out of my head and onto paper knowing what I know now - that I wouldn't always feel that way.

I'm reading a memoir written by both a mother and her daughter. The daughter is bitter and resentful at her mother. Nine years ago, if I had read this book, I would have identified with her. But here I am, a mother that hasn't even gone through anything similar to what this mother has, yet I find myself identifying with her rather than the daughter who I've actually had some things in common with. It's amazing how your perspective changes with knowledge and experience.

So many times we think we are right and people who don't share our viewpoint are wrong. But the fact is, we all see things the way we choose to see them and have different opinions based on what we've been through. Our beliefs and convictions change and evolve as we do. I wasn't right nine years ago. Neither was my mother. We weren't wrong, either. We were just seeing the same situation from two very different perspectives.

A remarkable trait that far too few people possess is truly trying to see something from someone else's point of view. We're all too blindsided by our own to even give a damn. But our viewpoint is only that - our's. The world is full of many of them. The narrow-minded will miss out on a lot of wisdom, knowledge, and experiences in their own self-righteousness. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Stairs

I've become rather crafty with all of my new spare time. I have been knocking out house projects left and right. I have painted the toy room and hung the curtains. Tomorrow we put in the new light fixture and I'm tracking my art orders like crazy. Once the artwork is hung, I'll post pictures of my finished project. I am very proud already.

I have also been working on other things. There is this little triangle of a wall on the walk up the stairs before the banister starts. I am filling it up with letterpress prints I found on Etsy. Have I ever mentioned how much I love letterpress prints or Etsy? One day I am going to get my own letterpress.

I made the picture on the left.
It's a brown paper package tied up with string.

I am on the hunt for a prints of cold coffee drinks, bubble baths, puzzles, and books. I found a rain print and a globe print that I will be adding to the wall soon. This is my happy place. I'll post a picture of the finished project when I make it that far.

Stairs never get much attention in a home. When we were kids, we didn't have a TV, but sometimes dad would bring his projector home from school and mom would pop us some popcorn and we would all sit on a step and watch the educational film, dust particles dancing in the light of the projector. It was a happy time. I love the stairs. My stairs refuse to be neglected. They will be dolled up with art just like every other wall in this house.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

haircut

Brandon got a haircut last week and just like that he went from a baby to a big boy.


Saturday, January 11, 2014

the terminated

Last Friday I lost my job. I was let go, terminated, dismissed. Whatever you want to call it. At first, I was upset. But a week has passed. And over the past week, the anger and bitterness has drained out of me like water swirling down the drain of a bath tub. I have had week to reclaim myself. I have had a week free of the pressures of others and week to be just myself.

I used to work at a place that fostered and promoted pettiness and backstabbing and gossip and dishonesty. And now that I'm removed from it, I see that all of that was becoming a part of me, too. I was a product of my environment. For over a year now, I've been stressed and anxious and losing myself. So although it wasn't my decision to leave, I've come to peace with the fact that I'm not in control of everything. Some decisions are made for me. And even though that wasn't my choice, I'm better as a result of someone else's choice.

Being let go had nothing to do with me - that has something to do with the person who made the choice. I see that now. So last week when I was ashamed and my ego was shot because of being terminated, those feelings were misplaced. Today I am healthier, happier, and a better person than I was a week ago. I have started working out again. I have projects to keep me busy. I am reading and enjoying my hobbies again. 

So what if I have joined the ranks of people who have been fired? I always thought it would be so terrible. And you know what? It's alright. Life goes on. Life gets better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

protection

I know growing a child inside of you is a miracle and it should be enjoyed at every stage, blah blah blah. But I am an impatient person and have always thought it takes too long and I want to meet my baby. But this weekend, my viewpoint shifted a little bit. I thought of what a cruel world is out there and how it is nice that for these nine months, my baby is safe and secure inside of me - protected from that outside world by the person who will always love him the most.

I thought of how I want to always be able to protect my boys from everything that is evil. And it pains me to realize that I won't always be able to. At some point, they will grow up. Their naïvety will wane (much to my dismay), and they will learn about the things in this world that I have tried so hard to shield them from. I can not stop that forever. I will try my damnedest, of course, but what I need to focus on is equipping them to handle it when they do encounter it.

My little boys will grow into men. And somehow, over the next twenty years or so, I am going to make sure they grow into the best type of men there are. The ones who are loving and smart and motivated. They will be all those things and despite the evil in the world, they will see the good, too.  They are going to know just how to handle the evil. They will be fighters like their mama - actively and boldy challenging the world.

You can change the world again, instead of protecting yourself from it.
~Julien Smith

Sunday, January 5, 2014

toy room

I was bored yesterday. So I converted our dining room into a playroom.

Before: 

After: 
 
This is just phase one. I plan to paint the room and hang artwork and put in a new light fixture.
Brandon's reading corner. We must have read "Giggle Giggle Quack" a hundred times this weekend.
 
I assembled the toy bins, then I labeled them, then I went to Michael's and bought craft supplies and hung up the flags I made. Brandon points at them and says, "pretty, mama."
I like to imagine he's saying it without the comma.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Pushover

I am a pushover mom. Seriously. On Wednesday, I poured Brandon some Fruit Loops for breakfast. He pointed at the cheese popcorn. So I let him have some of that. And then he pulled out the box of Rice Krispie treats. He had two. My parenting mantra has been, "it's not worth the fight." Real mature, I know. Who runs this house and makes the rules? My one-year-old.

So it's time I take back control. Tonight, I let him whimper until he fell asleep on his own. It kills me to hear him cry, but I am telling myself over and over that there is a difference between what he needs and what he wants. He'll tell me what he wants, but I know what he needs. He wants to stay up and play, but he needs sleep. He wants to eat cheese popcorn all day every day, but he needs a balanced diet. And maybe by letting him get what he wants I've also been giving myself what I want, rather than what we need.

I want a peaceful, quiet, hassle-free evening. What I need is a boy who learns that he is capable to fall asleep on his own. What I want is for Brandon to be happy in this moment. What I need is for Brandon to develop healthy habits.

I'm not a perfect parent. This is my first time raising a child. I have taken the easy road so far. It's time to take this responsibility a little more seriously. I'm not his babysitter. I'm his mother. Man, I'm starting to sound like every mom unliked by children universally. I remember how uncool those moms were when I was growing up. I also know how well-adjusted their children turn out to be.