Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I Never Asked to be my Child's Blankie

When she was tiny I tried every pacifier under the sun without luck.

I have attempted every lovey I could find.

I have tried stuffed animals.

I have tried baby dolls.

I have tried blankets.

While she loves each of these items to varying degrees and enjoys taking one or two to sleep with.  There has only been one thing that has proven time and time again to make my child feel secure.


On the one hand this is great.  It is awesome that my presence brings such security to my amazing little girl.  The problem is that my absence seems to bring the polar opposite.  She.is.a.mess.

She has had babysitters since she was 3 months old.   I have been taking classes since she was four months old which has resulted in babysitters and her daddy being the one home with her several times a week for over a year now.   Our parents have watched her for date nights and medical appointments.   It's not as though I have set up this world where only mommy will do.  However, somehow that has been and continues to be Isabella's motto for all of 2018:(.

I feel like I have tried EVERYTHING.  Making sure she knows I'm leaving.  Making sure she knows what's happening in advance (but not too far in advance).  Having distractions on hand.  Having familiar favorites on hand.  Consistent people babysitting.  Having a goodbye routine.  Giving her indicators of when I will be back in language she understands.  Giving her opportunities to spend time with adults who aren't me.  Social stories that explain what is going to happen.  Songs and stories about grown ups leaving and coming back.  NOTHING WORKS!

Interestingly while something like 25% of children suffer from separation anxiety, there is only ONE book written on the topic:

Fingers crossed there is a silver bullet in here somewhere!!!    

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Lordy, Lordy Look Who's 40!

The local paper growing up would have section where people could acknowledge important/milestone birthdays.  A popular catch phrase was always "Lordy, Lordy Look Who's 40!".  When I would skim this section way back when I always had it in the back of my mind that these people were "old", that 40 was just one stop away from being a senior citizen, and that the bulk of their lives were behind them.  Not surprisingly age (and math) help me to understand that each of these things is far from true. 

Instead I am a firm believer that 40 is the new 30.  Who else but a newly minted 30-something would be raising a young toddler, be working toward a degree, and looking to embark on a new career:)?  So while enter this new decade I truly only see myself as one year oldER, rather than old.

At the beginning of the month, J.T. had told me to not making any plans for my birthday.  I was curious what he had planned.  In the weeks leading up to my birthday I went back and further wondering if he was throwing me a surprise party or not.  This mental back and forth went down to the wire finally landing on not when we rolled into our driveway and there were no cars in sight.  So i truly was surprised to walk into our house where I found family and friends calling out "Surprise!".

So sweet and such fun:).  He had worked with our friend Amy who does an amazing job with event planning and everything turned out so nice!  Well done, J.T. (and Amy!), well done!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Broadening Horizons-Toddler Edition

When I envisioned being a stay at home mom watching other kids in a kind of home "preschool" setting was always a part of the vision.  However, in reality that's not quite the work I was cut out to do.   Should have been clued in when I could only handle teaching kindergarten for a half day, but I still thought it would somehow magically be a good fit.  Ha, ha...the last year has taught me that toddlers are VERY different from one another and I can only "differentiate instruction" for a couple at at time:).   That said, I feel like the current scenario has been great.  Isabella plus two other toddlers close in age allows for us to do some structured activities and keep her entertained during free play.

Last month I got a a car seat for AJ for our car.  That way it would be super easy to do field trips on the days I just had two kids (or maybe attempt to run an errand or two here and there).  We have done some story hours and gone to a place called the Playhouse which is basically like a play room with toys, kids and other moms which allows all of us to get out.  Through our adventures I have to learn three things:  1.  My child really likes to be on the go  2.  Both kids enjoy playing in different settings  3. My Monday through Friday child gets upset more easily in larger groups and could probably use some more exposure to bigger groups of kids more frequently

AJ is away for a long weekend so I used one of my Iz and me only days to check out a kids gym called Romp N Roll.  LOVED it!  We had tried a place in the spring but it seemed overprice, too structured and not very big.  This place was huge, offered art and music on top of gym and while they offer structured activities here and there fully understand that kids will come and go as they please at this age.  Unfortunately the place I don't like is right around the corner and they one I do like is a 25 minute drive from us.  But it's a trade off I am willing to take.  The owner even said she would give us the sibling rate once I explained the situation with AJ so I just needed to get his parents on board which turned out not to be a problem at all.

I also used this opportunity to let them know what I was thinking about preschool for next year.  I think that it's important for Iz (and AJ) to start acclimating to bigger groups of kids and working with adults who aren't their parents.  I would love for them to go two (maybe three) mornings a week.  This would also allow me the opportunity to possibly do some online instruction or adjunct teaching (fingers crossed I will be finished by then!).  Again, his parents were totally on board.

Now begins the fun part...figuring out the right fit for Iz and AJ. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Slowing Down

You may have heard of Rachel Hollis' book Girl Wash Your Face 

I had heard people talking about it for a while now, but after hearing about it like three times in a week I decided it was finally time to give it a shot.  While Rachel and I shared some of the same lies we tell ourselves which was insightful, what was even more insightful was digging deep and looking at the lies I tell MYself. 

In her book Rachel talks about how aging causes people anxiety.  This is a part of the lie she calls "I should be further ahead by now".  She spoke through the lens of the anxiety coming from people not having accomplished the things they had set out to do and are worried that with each passing year the potential for accomplishment decreases. 

I am an exception to her argument.  I have accomplished every task I have set out to achieve:  I am a college graduate who taught, served as a school principal at a school I started (more accurately helped to start), and am most of the way through earning my doctorate to embark on my second career.  I am married, have a child, and two dogs.  I own a home just outside of an urban area in North Carolina.  I remain as close as I can to my family when I live 8 hours away.  These accomplishments have come through the grace of God and my own efforts.  However, at what price have they come?

Despite adequate sleep, good health, and average for 2018 stress, my memory feels comparable to swiss cheese.   Additionally, despite each of the three things I just mentioned I often feel tired, have to be in bed by 9 most nights of the week, and while I often feel content, I don't often feel as joyful as I am sure God has intended for me to be.  I believe my drive has served as a double edge sword-helping me to achieve my goals with the potential opportunity cost of not taking the time to fully appreciate them.

I feel like I have often displayed gratitude for all I have, but have become greedy.  Once I have achieved one goal I am instantly on to the next, often working on multiple goals at one time.  As I enter my 5th decade it is time to put the brakes on my consumption of goals and take the time to both enjoy God's many blessings and the fruits of my labor as well as take the drive I once put into achieving personal goals into pursuing God and my place in His story. 

Clearly the first step of which is to start pumping the brakes on this semi-disastrous break neck speed dissertation I've got going on and the other ways in which I am using my time and mental energy.  With any luck, maybe I can also begin to fill in the holes in my memory.  That would be the icing on the cake!   

Sunday, October 21, 2018

It's the Great Pumpkin, Isabella!

In my last few years as a principal I became familiar with the term "heavy lifting".  It was an important strategy to implement for super busy children (particularly those of the ADHD variety).  Now being the mom of a SUPER busy kiddo, heavy lifting is a very integral part of our daily life:).

In vaguely related news, we finally made it to the pumpkin patch today.  I say finally because ya know what they say about the best laid plans right?  ::insert massive eye roll::

I did some research trying to pinpoint the best local pumpkin patch for Lil' Miss Constant Motion and found one 30 minutes away with a playground-score!  I was pretty sure pumpkins would hold her attention for all of 0.5 seconds and hay rides for not much longer than that so was happy I found a place where we could get a pumpkin, get a few pics, and entertain her in one fail swoop...well that was the plan anyway...

Couple of hours and two major glitches later this plan was toast:(.

We always take both dogs to the groomer at the same time.  We nearly always have them back about four hours after dropping them off.  These tidbits were important to the success of today's plan.  Today was of course the exception to that rule. 

The game plan was to leave for the pumpkin patch by 2:30.  Isabella had been waking up like clockwork from her nap at 2.  That gave her 30 minutes to wake up, snack up, and Bubble Guppy up before we took off.   That also allowed for us to return by 5:00 to pick up the dogs who I had dropped off at the groomer at 1.

Wouldn't you know sleeping beauty chose today to break through her 2:00 wake up time?  2:00 gave way to 2:30.  2:30 became 3.  As the minutes starting creeping past 3 which led to the need to revisit the game plan.  I could have woken her up, I guess.  However, I am a firm believer in that as long as they haven't been sleeping more than 3-4 hours you don't wake sleeping babies unless the house is on fire.  There was no smoke so I wasn't touching that option with a 10 foot pole. 

I was irrationally freaking out a bit when PetSmart called.  "Perfect, " I thought, "We can go and get the dogs now and then don't have to worry about being back by 5 so we were still in good shape-yay."  That fleeting thought lasted all of five seconds when the super chipper voice on the other end of the line explained she was just calling to get my email address as she had dressed the dogs up in costumes and wanted to send me the picture-smh!  She sounded more than a bit surprised when I politely (I hope!) declined and asked when the dogs would be ready.  She explained that she needed a little more time, but that they would definitely be ready between 4-4:30 which meant we still had to be done pumpkin-ing and be back to get the dogs before 5 when they closed. 

Cue more irrational frustration for yours truly.   

A new google search showed there was a small pumpkin patch a little ways up the road from us so that became plan B when Isabella finally graced us with her presence at 3:30.  We wound up not getting a pumpkin for ourselves as the smallest one was at least 20 pounds and the parking lot was about a half mile away.  We also traded a playground for Isabella attempting to lift said 20+ pound pumpkins. 

And my hunch about the hayride not being a slam dunk was confirmed but was made bearable with a snack cup of Goldfish and an appearance by some well timed neighbor dogs.    As you can tell by this picture "bearable" was the key word!

But we did get some cute pics:)

Not a home run, but at least our annual pumpkin patch tradition continues on!

Monday, October 15, 2018

My Poor Baby (Please send wine!)

Apparently Isabella's teeth are firm believers in the buddy system-they only come in groups!  At the rate we were going (stuck at 8 since like March) I assumed as her peers were getting visits from the tooth fairy, Isabella would still be waiting on a full set.  Over the last couple of weeks we have had between four and six teeth entering the scene (including two upper molars). 

If knowing how many teeth your kid has is part of the criteria for mother of the year then I'm out.  Her mouth is tiny, she doesn't like to open it and even when we do the turn her upside down trick I STILL can't seem to get a good look.  However, I know for sure that two bottom teeth are almost fully in place and I saw at least one corner of those gigantic molars on each side.  I also feel like I see something near the front of the top, but don't know for sure.  Combined with occasional bouts of extreme fussiness without other cause I feel like I can say with great certainty she is teething.  The request for wine are what I am sure are doctor's orders;).

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Bartering in 2018

I love to see when my friends post professional pictures.  Be it wedding, baby, family.  I enjoy looking at the glimpses the photographer is able to capture that most of us miss.  Well-full disclosure-there are some often used newborn poses that creep me out, but I assume I am alone on this front so will blow right past those.  Beyond that I love the smiles, laughter and lighting a professional photoshoot provides.   All of that said, I am unfortunately cheap.  Cheap + the cost of professional pictures=a drought of professional photos in our lives.

The only time I have regretted this was for our wedding.  We paid for the bulk of our wedding ourselves and there were many, many things I wanted to lay out $2K for before paying a professional photographer.  So a friend took photos. Unfortunately the friend's camera had a chip in the lens of which she was not aware.  As a result all of the photos she took has this blurry dot:(.  The good news is that even in 2010 there were lots of good shots taken by several guests using cameras and fancy phones so after the initial disappointment wore off we were able to assemble a nice wedding album at no cost.

The only time we have had professional photos taken was for our adoption photo book.  It was a requirement from the wonderful people at Lifetime.  I was able to find a photographer who was willing to do a minishoot at a discount so we had professional photos taken on our fifth wedding anniversary.  There was one we really liked.  The rest? Eh.  The photographer had a great portfolio, so I can only assume we the subjects were the problem.

When Isabella came on the horizon we used our camera (a nice Christmas gift from J.T.'s mom a few years ago) for baby announcement photos and maternity shots.  Got some good ones.  Then when Isabella was born we used the camera again for her newborn pictures.  The good news?  We got some good ones of her.  The not so great news?  The only "good" photo of the three of us is right after delivery catching a glimpse of the top of my head.  To be fair it was months before a "good photo" of me was taken so that may have all been for the best!

My sister-in-law has served as a good reminder to make sure we take regular family photos so we have a good one from 5 months and 11 months.  However, none catch that special family look the professionals get.

What does any of this have to do with bartering you ask.  Well let me tell you. 

A neighbor I have never met recently lost her 102 year old grandfather and the family wished to to do a photo slideshow at his celebration of life ceremony later this month.  She did an all call for help.  I enjoy putting these things together so I volunteered.  I hadn't considered charging until she made me an offer.  Turns out she is a professional photographer and offered to do a photoshoot in exchange for the slideshow.  It was a done deal.  This is what bartering of services looks like in 2018.  I like it.