Friday, November 22, 2013

Overheard in the Robinson household

Vol. 4

Pat: Graham, why are you fighting this? A lot of people would pay money to have someone wipe their butt.


Pat: Remember when I woke you up last night because I thought Graham was crying?
Me: Yes, it was 6 a.m. and he wasn't crying.
Pat: Well, after I checked the monitor I heard it again and then I figured out what I was hearing.
Me: What?
Pat: My nose was stuffed up and making noises when I was breathing.


(on a road trip to Findlay, Pat was driving)
Pat: If you really love me you'll give me that cup so I can pee in it.
Me: What?
Pat: Is there anything in this car I can pee in?
Me: Are you joking?
Pat: No I'm not joking. I really have to pee. I'm about to pull down one of these country roads and go.
Me: No way. Then you'll get ticks.
(Pat pulls off onto a side road and starts getting out of the car)
Me: You can get a ticket for this. Then you will be a sex offender.
(Pat pretends to check the pressure on his tire and pees and then returns to the car)
Pat: I have a stone stuck in my knee. But that needed to happen.


Tis the season to be thankful

I saw this link of Facebook and I thought it was a great idea. The author encourages readers to take the week leading up to Thanksgiving to list reasons why you are thankful for your husband. If you list seven items a day and then one on Thanksgiving, you will end up with 50 reasons you are thankful for the man you married. I saw this on Wednesday, when you were supposed to start, and I am just getting around to in on Friday. Shocking, I know. So I have some catching up to do.

There are a lot of reasons why I think this exercise is important for any couple, but for me particularly, I feel like I've taken him for granted since having Graham. I have put everything I have into being the best mom I could be and I have neglected many other areas in my life (just ask my friends and family who probably think I've fallen off the face of the Earth) - including my marriage.

I followed the Babywise book for getting Graham on a schedule and teaching him good sleeping habits from a young age (not opening the debate about Ferber vs. Sears) and one of the components they stress in this book is "putting your marriage first for the child's sake."

So far, I have become one of those mothers that puts their baby before everything. And I'm not saying that is bad, either, because I view it as the most important job I have ever had and I want to make sure I'm doing it well. But I don't want to become one of those couples whose whole life revolved around their kids so much so that when their kids grow up and move away, there is nothing left of their marriage.

This exercise is going to be really important for me to remind myself that I have been taking Pat and our marriage for granted and I have so so much to be thankful for and my husband Patrick is at the top of the list.

Reasons why I am thankful for Pat:

 1. He's a nice guy.
 2. He's a great husband.
 3. He's an awesome dad.
 4. He views our marriage as a partnership and does a lot around our house and splits all the responsibilities with me.
 5. He's a hard worker.
 6. We have fun together.
 7. He loves me exactly the way I am.
 8. He takes care of our house and yard work.
 9. He's a good sport about my crafting "projects"
10. He makes me laugh
11. He complements my personality and helps to balance me out
12. He is laid back and goes with the flow (and hopefully it will one day rub off on me :)
13. He keeps me warm when our bedroom is freezing
14. He takes care of me when I've had too many cocktails

To be continued...

Sunday, August 04, 2013

The path of most resistance

There is the path of least resistance and then there is the path that I think will be even less resistant than the path of least resistance which actually turns out to be a path with crater-size resistance. Are you following me?

Six months ago, when Graham was ready to start eating solids, I decided I was going to make his baby food and save us some money. I was convinced I could make it cheaper and then also make foods that aren't available in the store to broaden Graham's pallet, if you will.

In the interest of saving money, I didn't buy the baby food-making blender that I really wanted and instead used the blender we already owned. I had intended to blog about my baby food making experiences long ago but never got around to it. Maybe it's best.

A few months ago, my post would have been all rainbows and butterflies. Because that was before I realized that sometimes making your own baby food doesn't save you money but actually costs you more. The day I realized that we were actually spending extra money to make Graham's fruit puree was similar in feeling to the day I realized Santa Claus wasn't real. Absolutely devastating.

I felt sick when I thought of all the Sundays I spent standing in the kitchen for the entire day making baby food, my feet and back aching (seriously) by the time I was finished. I actually paid money to work my tail feathers off on the Sabbath Day? Unbelievable.

But it wasn't all a complete waste, the optimistic side of me argued. Cauliflower is still one of Graham's favorite foods and it is something you can't buy in the store. And frozen veggies are actually very cheap and do save us a moderate amount of money (not enough money, though, the pessimistic side of me says).

So I decided to continue making select veggies and cereal, since my doctor told me the baby cereal has absolutely no nutritional value. And it was going great, until today when I had my blender filled to the brim with oatmeal and bananas and an entire stove top filled with other veggies waiting to be pureed next when out of nowhere my blender died. That sickening feeling returned.

Let me get this straight: Now my baby food making labor has actually cost us our blender, too? I'm not typically a quitter. When I put my mind to something, there is usually nothing that can get in my way - except a broken blender. It has really taken the wind out of my sail and I'm thinking that maybe buying baby food isn't all that bad after all.

Cauliflower is overrated anyway, right? Mostly water. He won't even miss it.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Overheard in the Robinson Household

Overheard in the Robinson Household, volume 3

Me: I'm a terrible winker.
Pat: You really are. Probably the worst I've ever met. Not that I go around asking people to wink at me...

Me: (hand Graham a tiny, age-appropriate piece of avocado)
Pat: Geez! You might as well feed him a golf ball
Me: Are you serious?
Pat: I guess I'm a little paranoid.


Me: I would have been a terrible wife in the 1950s.
Pat: Heard that. I would have divorced you already.


Pat: (pulls up picture from google) Does this look familiar?
Me: No, why would it?
Pat: It's Jabba the Hutt
Me: Okay?
Pat: It looks just like your baby picture.


Me: That's the smallest avocado pit I've ever seen.
Pat: That's what she said.


Pat; Is it a sign of the times that I just found a dollar in the street and the first thing I thought of was, 'is there poop folded in the middle?'
Me: Pat...
Pat: I'm serious, that's the first thing I thought of.
Me: Well, was there?
Pat: No.


Me: Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego, anyway?
Pat: I don't know but I loved that show.
Me: Did you have that game on your computer at school?
Pat: No. 
Me: Did you have Oregon Trail?
Pat: Heck yeah.
Me: Did you die of diarrhea when playing it?
Pat: No, but that's probably how I would die on the real Oregon Trail


Pat: Looks like the neighbors have a little beer pong action going on. Should we go show them what we've got?
Me: No. We don't have anything anymore.
Pat: Yeah, that's true.


Me: Can I offer you some tic tacs?
Pat: I'd love some. Especially since I didn't brush my teeth this morning.
Me: You haven't brushed your teeth at all today?
Pat: No. I forgot.
Me: (hand him some tic tacs)
Pat: I'm going to need more than two.
Me: Yeah, I guess so.


Pat: (starts doing some weird dance move to the music)
Me: (start dancing too)
Pat: I'm not dancing. I'm stretching my wrist.
Me: Oh. I thought we were having a dance party.
Pat: What kind of dance move did you think I was doing?
Me: I never know with you...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Graham's crawling video

I can't believe that when the month of July started, Graham wasn't crawling at all. Now here it is, halfway through the month and not only has he perfected the crawl, but he's now pulling himself up on furniture and walking alongside of it.

It is amazing how quickly these developmental milestones happen. Such a fun, scary and exciting time in our parenting quest. It's fun to see him mobile and to be able to call his name and have him crawl to you. In fact, it melts my heart every single time.

Life in the Robinson household is very different, that's for sure. On Saturday, I was in the bathroom getting ready and Pat was in the kitchen. Graham spent his time crawling back and forth between the two of us (and seeing what trouble he could get into in between). We had to keep yelling to one another "He's coming your way."

I love the new noise he makes when he crawls now. That is new just this week. You can kind of hear it in this video I made. Now if he could figure out how to carry his ball while crawling, I think his life would be complete.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Emscapades - Pawley's Island round two

Emscapades, Volume 3

This Emscapade once again took place on the beach of Pawley's Island, South Carolina. Again, taking a stroll along the beach, only this time it was at night and the sky was pitch black. The beach was pretty empty with the exception of a group just next to the deck leading up to our beach house.

Pat and I had just finished our walk along the beach and stopped to pause for a moment and listen to the roar of the ocean waves. After all, there are few better sounds in the world, right? We found ourselves both looking up and gazing at the stars when all of the sudden we hear someone from the group next to us start making bird sounds.

"Ca caw, ca caw," he yelled. Pat and I looked at each other, chuckled a little and then went back to our star gazing and wave listening. The bird sound happened again. "Ca caw, ca caw." This time we completely ignored the noise and continued looking up at the stars when all of the sudden, there was a guy running right up to us.

To say it caught us both off guard is an understatement. I would go as far as saying, it scared the crap out of us! The guy, obviously quite "spirited" as my dad would call it (also known as wasted), was holding a drink, naturally, and was wearing khaki shorts and a beach shirt that was appropriately completely unbuttoned and hanging off his shoulders on each side. And he had brown hair down to his shoulders. Of course he did.

I believe Pat was the first to speak by nervously saying, "duuuude." I think what he meant to say is "what the heck are you doing running up on complete strangers in the dark?" But instead, all that came out was, "duuuuude."Which was more articulate than what I came up with which was...nothing.

"You guys didn't answer the bird call," the wasted beach bum said. "Didn't you hear me going, 'Ca caw, ca caw?'" Luckily, I believe his question was rhetorical as he didn't give us enough time to respond before he went on to say, "You're supposed to answer back with 'Ca caw, ca caw' when you hear the bird call so I needed to come and check you guys out."

He then took off into the dark and ran back to his party, his unbuttoned shirt flapping in the wind. Pat and I asked each other what the heck just happened and then decided it was time to call it a night and head back to the house, locking the doors behind us. 

I couldn't make this story up if I wanted to.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The nine month mark

The ninth month mark in this parenting game has been the most interesting yet. In the beginning it took six weeks just to get a smirk, now I blink and Graham is crawling or pulling himself up or even standing on his own for a few seconds.

Gone are the days when he laid still for diaper and wardrobe changes. Now it's more like wrestling an alligator just to get him changed. A screaming alligator at that. Although he has less teeth, he does bite. Oh yeah, that's another new development.

Now that he has both top and bottom teeth, you have to be on high alert when his mouth is anywhere near your skin. He bit me for the first time at a funeral home when I was talking to the family and wasn't paying attention to him. And it wasn't a quick bite, his jaw was still clenched on my shoulder when I squealed and caused a scene.

That wasn't the only scene he caused at the funeral home that night. He also pulled my shirt down, exposing the entire left half of my chest. Luckily it wasn't my skin being exposed but rather my light blue bra. It wasn't until Pat nonchalantly said, "you better watch your shirt." It was quite an eventful evening.

This is what I'm talking about. Everything is extremely eventful with a nine month old. It's an extremely fun and extremely interesting time in his development and thus our lives.

His nine month doctor's appointment was extremely interesting. At his six month appointment, he laid on the exam table calm and still while they took his measurements. Those days are over. The nurse couldn't even mark where his feet were because he wouldn't lay still long enough. When she finally got the feet marked, he destroyed the exam table paper before she could get to his head. So she had to start all over.

Gone are the days when I could sit him in the middle of the living room floor, go use the restroom and come back to find him sitting in the same spot. Now I leave the room for a minute and not only is he no longer in the exact spot where I left him, but he's not even in the room anymore.

I literally can't take my eyes off of him for a second. I turned away from him to hang something in his closet, he was sitting right in front of me. Next thing I know, he had tried to pull himself up and went tumbling backwards and hit his head.

And the biggest changes of all are the changes to his sleep habits. Yes, we have been spoiled rotten with a baby who has slept through the night since six weeks old so you might not feel bad for us. But starting with our first night of vacation, all eight nights of vacation and the last four or five nights, he has been waking up in the middle of the night and staying awake for an hour or sometimes two.

Could be teething, could be wanting to show off all his new tricks, could be the fact that we ran to him every time he cried on vacation to keep him from waking other people up, could be a combination of all of the above. No matter the cause, we want our good sleeper back.

Nothing keeps you on your toes more than being a parent. Just when you think you have things figured out or get used to the way things are going, they change again.

Sure it's crazy, embarrassing and eventful but I am still loving every single second of being Graham's mom. That being said, I wouldn't hate it if diaper changes went back to being easy and no longer felt like rodeo wrangling. Not going to happen, is it?

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Emscapades, volume 2

This Emscapade took place on the beach of Pawley's Island, South Carolina. I was taking an innocent stroll along the ocean shore, Graham in tow, when I got caught in the middle, literally, of an exchange between a grandma (I assume) and her grandson.

As Graham and I were walking by, the grandma to my right, the ocean to my left, the grandma started yelling toward the ocean in her deep southern draw (sounded more like a West Virginia accent than a South Carolina accent, but what do I know?) to "wipe your hands."

The next thing I know, the boy she was yelling to is wiping his sand-covered hands all down my chest, belly and thighs. My jaw dropped to the ground as I looked down and saw the massive amount of sand that was now all over my black bathing suite and shorts.

Next, I looked down at the boy, fully expecting to see a little three-year-old looking up at me and realizing I wasn't his mom or his Grandma or whoever he thought I was, and panicking.

Instead, I saw a five or six year old look up at me, grinning from ear to ear and marveling at his clean hands and my filthy bathing suit, before running away. His reaction only added to my previous state of shock.

My mouth was still open when the grandma, who witnessed the entire exchange, quickly came over to remedy the situation.

She said to me, in her thick southern draw, "Sorry about that. He do know better, but at the same time, he don't. You know what I mean? He do, but he don't." I tried to comprehend what point she was trying to make but I think it became clear to her that I didn't know what she meant at all, when I was still standing there speechless. I said nothing.

She diverted her attention to Graham who was resting on my hip throughout the entire incident and added, "Well ain't he a cutie?" Again, I said nothing. There aren't too many times in my life when I have been left speechless, but this was one of them.

Needless to say, our beach walk ended early. I turned around and headed back to our house where I proceeded to jump in the pool as what I saw as the best and fastest way to get the massive amount of sand off my body.

That quickly became our motto for the rest of the trip. "He do know better, but at the same time he don't. He do, but he don't."

So what do you think? Was this a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or just like I am a magnet for random conversations, am I also a magnet for random kids to use me like a hand towel?

Monday, July 08, 2013

Emscapades, volume 1

I can't take credit for the witty title of this post - my SIL Traci coined the phrase. But what I can take credit for are the crazy shenanigans, also known as Emscapades, that seem to follow me wherever I go - especially the grocery store.

Just ask Pat, who will tell you this is one of the many reasons he hates going to the grocery store with me. I am a magnet for strangers starting up conversations with me. And in my opinion, contrary to what Pat thinks, I don't believe I do anything to provoke it.

It can be something as simple as me standing in the line at the grocery store checkout with burgers and hamburger buns in my shopping cart. The woman in front of me sees the ingredients and says, "looks like you're having a cookout..." and then proceeds to tell me all about the picnic in the park she just had in which a family of racoons came down from the tree and took away their food.

Seriously. Other than the contents of my shopping cart, I did nothing to lure that woman to share her story with me. And there are many, many more examples of such occurrences. My last two trips to the grocery store involved a woman telling me about her love for Reese's peanut butter cups as she reached over me to grab one and went on to tell me all of the other peanut butter products on the market right now that I should try - including peanut butter pop tarts, and a mom telling me about her son's obsession with any type of food that contains carbohydrates). Both are true stories.

As I'm sitting here reflecting on the situation, I'm realizing that unfortunately, the common denominator is not the random people around me - they are always different. And sometimes, these Emscapades happen alone without a random person. The common denominator is me. Maybe Pat is right.

Have you ever seen those flow charts that ask you questions and depending on your answers, take you in completely different directions? Pretend that one line is Pat and one line is me and our reactions to such situations dictate the direction of these random conversations. We would both handle them very differently and thus, would have very different outcomes.

Take the raccoon picnic lady, for example. I wouldn't say that Pat would respond in a rude way, per say, if she would have made the picnic comment to him in the checkout line. But I would argue that he wouldn't engage in a conversation. He would probably politely smile or give one word answers to her questions and comments. Therefore giving the conversation nowhere to go but fizzle out.

I, however, would never want to be perceived as rude so I do engage in these conversations. I give more than one word, short answers and am genuinely interested (most of the time) in what they have to say. I like to talk. So sue me.

I've had a few of these Emscapades recently that I've been told are "blog worthy" so I decided to start this series. Rather than go back in time and share every checkout experience I've had at the grocery store in my lifetime, I'm going to start with the most recent occurrences which include the last week in June to present. Then I will try to keep up with the series as they happen.

Sound like fun?

To be continued...

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Game changer

Graham crawled for the first time tonight. He has taken a few forward motions here and there, one knee in front of the other, but for no more than three crawls at a time.

Tonight, he went the distance. All he needed was a worthwhile prize at the finish line: His daddy. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly these milestones happen. All day today he was trying to crawl, would give up and then resort to the army crawl. Then all of the sudden, it just clicks and he's crawling. I was fortunate to get his first crawl on video, which I'm quite excited about.

You will notice in the video that he could have kept going if he didn't get distracted by the large piece of mulch on the floor. He loves to find random objects that don't belong on the carpet. It's a really fun game we play. I vacuum, Grady drags the mulch in on his paws, Graham finds it and tries to eat it. Repeat.

We are very proud parents at this moment. Proud and nervous. We fully recognize this is a game changer. When I look at our floor, all I see are extension cords (one of which he has already had in his mouth), surge protectors, sharp dog bones, etc. Needless to say, we have some work to do in the baby-proofing department.

But the outlets are covered. So there's that.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Overheard in the Robinson Household vol. 2

Pat: If you didn't know any better you'd think we were feeding an army.
Me: We take taco night very seriously in this house.
Pat: You've got that right. It is our heritage after all.

Me: Don't grab my fat chin. How do I get rid of that fat anyway?
Pat: Start doing chin exercises.
Me: I do, every time I talk.
Pat: Then you should have the skinniest chin in the world.


Pat: I ate one of Graham's blueberry puffs and then took a drink of my summer shandy and I was pleasantly surprised. Want to try it?


Pat: Will you hold this for a second?
Me: You mean, our son?


Pat: What do you think Jesus would say about your breath?


Pat: He (Graham) is not going to start shitting his brains out now, is he?


Pat: That was my first outdoor asparagus pee. It was weird.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tragedy in a mother's eyes

The motions were all the same with Graham's bedtime routine last night. I rocked him, we read a book, I kissed him goodnight and I put him to bed. The motions were the same, but the emotions I felt while doing it were different.

The devastating tornadoes that ripped through Oklahoma yesterday hit me much harder than I would have expected. It is so true what they say. Your perspective on everything in life is different after you become a parent.

This is not to say that before becoming a parent I wouldn't have been sad about the lives lost. I absolutely would have. But the report I heard about the elementary school that was completely destroyed and the students in grades kindergarten through third grade that were unaccounted for at the time of the report left me feeling completely overwhelmed with sadness.

The first thing I thought about was how horrific it must have been for the parents of those children. To arrive to scene of total wreckage where just hours before a school existed. A school where they dropped their students off like any other day.

The reporter said they were keeping the parents outside of the caution tape so the search and rescue team would be more successful in hearing the cries for help. How terrifying and helpless that must have been for the parents. I felt a level of empathy I never could have felt before becoming a parent myself.

Of the 51 lives lost, twenty were children. My heart breaks for the parents. I am so sad for the entire city, but my heart aches for the parents of the children who died.

I learned at a young age that life can be taken from you in an instant. But sometimes I think I still get complacent. Even though I've experienced tragedies and even though I try so hard to have an attitude of gratitude, I know I still take life for granted sometimes. I think we all do.

It's unfortunate that sometimes it takes a horrible tragedy to remind me that tomorrow isn't promised.

So even though the bedtime routine last night was the same as every other night, I hugged Graham a little bit tighter and held him a little bit longer than I did the night before. And as I stared into his beautiful blue eyes, I counted my blessings and was thankful.

My thoughts and prayers are with those in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

3:30 a.m. parties aren't what they used to be


Party in Graham's crib last night at 3:30 a.m. Those onesies have a whole new meaning to me now and I don't quite find them as humorous as I once did. When I went into his room to see what his deal was, he greeted me with a huge smile and continued to smile at me the entire time I changed his diaper. I think he really was hoping for a party.

And the "party" wasn't over until about 5 a.m. Needless to say, mamma and papa Robinson were a bit tired on this hump day. But I can't complain. Since he was six weeks old, this is only the third time we've been up in the middle of the night. He is a really good sleeper and I know we are lucky (although I'm convinced it isn't just about good luck. Sleep training must play some role, too. I highly recommend BabyWise and/or 12 hours sleep by 12 weeks old).

So why did he wake up? While of course we don't know for sure, we suspect it has something to do with the fact that it was 74+ degrees in his room and we had him dressed for a winter blizzard in long-sleeved, footed pajamas as well as wrapped in his swaddle blanket. In case you were wondering if we have aced this whole parenting thing since I last wrote, you just got your answer: Nope. We still have no idea what we're doing.

But we're still loving every second of this crazy ride. We signed Graham up for swimming lessons and have had three lessons so far. Each week I think he enjoys the water more. What is not to love about splashing water in your parents' faces? He might not make many friends in the pool if he keeps it up but we are so enjoying watching him have fun in the water. Summer should be really fun.

Since he is enjoying the water so much and sitting up so well, we decided maybe we should stop using his infant bather and let him sit and splash around in the tub. So I tried it. By myself. Not a good idea.

It was like sitting humpty dumpty in a tub and waiting for him to fall over. He was kicking and slipping and sliding all over the place. I was holding on to him for dear life, trying to prevent him from hitting his head on the porcelain or face planting into the water. Turns out, he's not quite ready to sit in the tub by himself. Lesson learned.

Sadly for me, I also found out that Graham has about the same tolerance for my shopping trips as his dad. The only difference is, Graham starts crying in the middle of the store and gets much quicker action than Pat does when he complains. This is the miracle Pat has been looking for and I wouldn't be surprised if the next time Pat is stuck shopping with me, he tries out the new trick.

After several months of making my own baby food, I finally sat down and did the math to see "how much money I was saving us." Much to my dismay, I found that in several instances not only am I not saving us money from the store-bought baby food, but I am actually costing us more. I was pretty darn deflated after finding this out.

But alas, I continue to keep making it. There are some foods that are cheaper to make yourself (sweet pototoes, peas, green beans) and there are some foods that Graham loves that you can't buy in the store (avocado and cauliflower). So those foods, I will continue to make myself and the others, I will start buying in the store.

In hindsight, I really should have done the math before spending hours in the kitchen making baby food. But as I've been saying over and over again for the last (almost) seven months, live and learn. I plan to write a blog about all that I've learned (some the hard way) on the baby food making journey. Stay tuned.

Graham is almost seven months old and still has no teeth (or hair). As for the hair, I think Graham already has more than I did on my first birthday. I knew we would have bald babies. As for the teeth, my mom said my siblings and I all got our teeth late - around eight months - so maybe Graham will be the same. But given my dental history, Pat is more concerned about whether or not Graham will even have all of his teeth. Isn't he sweet?

No, he really is. I don't know what I would do without him or how single mothers do it. Pat is truly wonderful. Yes, he may not wash the bottles as thoroughly as I would and continues to use dryer sheets with Graham's laundry even though I have asked him not to, but I know I am pretty darn lucky to have a husband who works long hours and even though he's tired when he gets home he's still excited to play with his son (and see me) and helps out a ton around the house. And by "helps out" I mean he does more housework than I do.

I really think I got the better end of this whole marriage deal but for some reason, Pat thinks he's lucky, too. Not a day goes by that I don't reflect on how happy and blessed I am. I absolutely love our little family, chaos and all.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Overheard in the Robinson household

Me: We are missing a nipple.
Pat: (starts laughing)
Me: Graham is five and a half months old. When are you going to stop laughing every time I say "nipple?"

Me: I don't feel like I'm seeing results from working out yet.
Pat: I do. When I saw you on the jumbotron, I thought you looked really skinny.

Pat: Have you seen my phone?
Me: Nope.
Pat: Can you call it?
(his phone starts ringing somewhere)
Pat: I hear it but I can't find it. Call it again.
(his phone starts ringing somewhere)
Pat: I found it. It was in Graham's nursery (where our son was already asleep for the night).
Me: Did it wake him up?
Pat: I don't think so.

Me: Do you know where Sophie is?
Pat: No...that scares me that Grady got her
Me: Can't find her anywhere. Have you seen her since this weekend? Maybe she's still in the car?
Pat: Perhaps. I haven't seen her for a while.
Me: I found her. She was in Graham's swing.
Pat: And she's not in a heap of bile in our yard. We all win.
*Sophie is not a living animal but rather a baby teething toy. No animals were hurt.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Parenting status remains at rookie

Someone asked me recently how I'm adjusting to being a mom. The answer to that question is an easy one. I love every single second of it. It is hands down the best and most meaningful job I've ever had. Nothing in this world makes me happier.

From the moment I held Graham in my arms for the first time, I forgot about what life was like before he was here. Everything has more meaning now and I am overwhelmed every day by how much I love him and love being his mom.

That being said, five and a half months into this gig and I still have no idea what the heck I'm doing. If a "mom of the year" award really did exist, I do something on a daily basis to ensure that I would never receive that award.

HEADLINE: Inexperienced parents pinch son's leg in car seat, cause scene at wedding

People (namely my father-in-law and my husband) had been telling me for a while that they thought Graham's car seat was getting a little too snug. I knew that he is supposed to fit in the car seat until he weighs 30 pounds and he only weighs 15.

So basically I ignored them and continued to try and shove him in the car seat, justifying the fact that he cried every time you put him in there with the argument that some kids just don't like being in car seats. Seemed logical enough.

That is until two weeks ago when we were at a wedding trying to get Graham in his car seat before leaving. Between the tight car seat and his thick corduroy pants, we accidentally pinched his leg in the car seat buckle (and by "we," I do not mean me. Sorry, Pat). At that moment, while he was screaming in pain, I decided that maybe Graham really was too big for his car seat.

On the way home from the wedding, I did what any good parent would do: I googled it. As it turns out, there were several reasons to explain why Graham was no longer fitting in his car seat. First of all, I learned that once your child is no longer a newborn, you are supposed to take out the extra padding to make more room.

I also learned that once the straps start becoming snug, you are supposed to adjust them to make them longer.  Who knew? Definitely not me. So we did both of those things and miraculously, Graham started fitting in his car seat again and no longer screams when you put him in there. Lesson learned.

HEADLINE: Mom remembers opposite of what she is told, sets son back developmentally due to improper use of exercauser and jumperoo

Right around the time Graham was born, or maybe even before, I remember several people telling me how important it is to make sure only the tiptoes of baby's feet can touch the ground when using the exercauser or jumperoo. It is important for their development, they said.

Recently, when Graham reached the age when we could start using these toys, I had forgotten the reasons behind the importance of only a baby's tiptoes touching the ground when using them, but I remembered vividly people telling me to make sure of it.

So I did what any good parent would do: I googled it. And sure enough there was an article about the importance of making sure your baby couldn't touch their feet flat on the ground when using exercausers and jumperoos. I shared this information with Pat and we made sure to set them high enough that only his tiptoes could touch.

Last week, my father-in-law brought to Pat's attention that he thought we had the toys raised too high and that he thought Graham should be able to touch his feet flat to the ground. Pat defended me, sweet guy, by saying, "Emily read an article that their feet shouldn't touch flat." It didn't seem like Pat's dad agreed, but he didn't push the issue.

Well, just to prove that I was right, I decided to call my sister, one of the people who informed me of this issue, so she could remind me why it is so important. When I asked her, she practically yelled at me and told me that I had it backwards: It is important that their feet touch flat on the ground, not the other way around.

A few important lessons learned: 1. If you tell me something, I will remember the opposite of what you said. 2. you can find articles on google to support anything - right or wrong. 3. Pat will believe whatever I tell him - right or wrong.

But seriously, there seems to be a lot of conflicting information around this topic. And since I bought both toys used, I do not have the owner's manuals for either product.

HEADLINE: Mom forgets intended use of diaper bag, carries it around for show

Graham got baptized on Saturday in Mansfield. Shortly after we arrived to the church, it became clear that Graham had a poopy diaper. So I went to the diaper bag to grab a diaper, only to find that there were none. That's right. Not one diaper located in Graham's entire diaper bag.

It wasn't like I could even discreetly go and tell Pat that we had no diapers. We were all in a small room gathering before the baptism started so everybody there was aware of the poopy diaper and thus became aware of my lack of diapers in the diaper bag.

It was definitely one of my prouder moments as a mom. So my options were - have Graham wear one of his cousin Harper's diapers, who is ten months older and in diapers two sizes bigger, or leave him in the poopy diaper until we went back to my parents' house where the twenty diapers I had packed for the weekend were located.

Then I remembered that several months ago, when I was still feeling like my organized self, I had put a diaper changing kit in the door of my car, for emergencies such as this. Unfortunately, several months ago Graham was wearing size 1 diapers and is now in size 3, but it was a diaper nonetheless. Even though the diaper was too small, I still felt I had somewhat redeemed myself since I was able to show everyone that I did have a diaper.

Crisis averted and lesson learned (I hope). I wish I could say this was the first time I had been caught with an ill-equipped diaper bag but it's not. And I'm sure it won't be the last. But at least I remembered the diaper bag. That is an improvement over Graham's first doctor's appointment where I showed up with no diaper bag and no diapers and he ended up having two pees and one poop.

While I could go on and on with more examples of all the things I have and continue to screw up as Graham's mom, I won't bore you any longer.

Before Graham was born, everyone told me my "maternal instincts" would kick in and things would come naturally. I assumed this meant that when these instincts took over, I would just magically know what to do in every aspect of being a mom. Not so. 

The reality is, there are no owner's manuals or instructions that come with kids. If such a thing did exist, believe me, I would know because I read a lot. But everything you read emphasizes the fact that every baby is different and the best thing you can do is let your baby teach you all that you need to know.

So that's what I'm doing. And I'm learning a lot. Unfortunately, I'm learning at a glacial speed and many lessons I'm learning the hard way. But one thing is for sure: It may be the most difficult and confusing job I've ever had, and I might mess up, a lot, but I've never been happier.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Alcohol is not my friend

It is 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. And not just any Saturday night: It is the Saturday night before St. Patrick's Day. So what am I doing to celebrate?

I am sitting in my basement, alone, listening to the ocean waves from Graham's nursery on the baby monitor, watching Hart of Dixie on Netflix and I just finished a glass of milk and some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

It seems the days of green beer might be a thing of the past for me. I did contemplate putting green food coloring in my glass of milk, though, but decided it would be too much work.

If you would have told me a year ago that this is what the future had in store for me on St. Patrick's Day, there is no way I would have believed you. Two years ago on St. Patrick's Day, I was sick and had to work and yet I still went out after work. Last year I was pregnant but still partook in the festivities (minus the beer, of course). Let's face it: I love a good party and any excuse to dress up and have fun.

But do not mistake this as a cry for pity. Far from it. There is no way that I have ever had a St. Patrick's Day in which I was happier than I am right now. I got to spend the day with my husband and our son (taking him swimming for the first time). And with the precious few hours I get with him during the week, I like to spend as much time with Graham on the weekends that I can.

No green beer and no St. Patrick's Day parade could ever make me feel as fulfilled and happy as spending my days with my sweet little man (and my big man, too).

Besides, if I were to partake in Cleveland's St. Patrick's Day festivities, I can assure you the outcome would not be pretty. It seems as though it might not be just green beer that is a thing of the past for me but rather alcohol in general.

I'm quite embarrassed to share this story, but since the basis of my blog has always been and probably always will be centered around making fun of myself, why should I stop now?

The story is about me drinking too much. I know what you're thinking - this is not something new and different. And you're right. Just another tale of Emily drinking more than she can handle and then getting sick and hungover.

So what makes this different than any of the other countless times this has happened to me in my life? Several factors. One difference, and something that makes this particular story much more embarrassing than it would have been a year ago: I am now a mom. I am responsible for taking care of another human being. A child's well being depends on me and yet, I am still behaving like a child myself.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not naive enough to believe that the act of giving birth alone magically turns women into responsible human beings and good mothers. All you have to do is watch the news to know that is not the case.

But I do think if there was a certain moment in your life when you should probably grow up and stop drinking like you're still in college, it would be when you become a parent (or perhaps when you graduate from college).

In my defense, though, it is not as if I ever think to myself before going out, "I'm going to get so drunk tonight." I never actually intend to get drunk. I always just intend to have a good time. And while I do not need alcohol to accomplish this goal, I happen to enjoy the way it tastes (going down, anyway. I actually despise the way it tastes when it's coming back up).

So all too often, I get caught up on the moment, the party, the evening, whatever it may be, and I do not stop drinking when I should. And I always pay for it the next day. But in the past, I've always been able to lay around on the couch the next day and "sleep it off" if you will.

Well let's just say, there are no "off days" when you become a parent. There isn't time to "sleep it off" which makes mom hangovers the absolute worst kind of hangover.

I have had two "mom hangovers" sine Graham was born which have taken place the only two times I have drank since he was born. Each of these instances have been brutal reminders that I am not 21 anymore and that I have become a serious lightweight since being pregnant and having a baby.

Seriously. It's quite unfair what happens to women. You go an entire year without drinking, watching your favorite seasonal beers come and go and desperately waiting for the moment when you can enjoy a drink or two (or three, four or five). Your mind seems to forget about the fact that you haven't drank in an entire year but your body does not. I assure you, your body does not.

The first incident was on Christmas night. I had a few glasses of wine and a mixed concoction that my step-mom made for me. I know it was some sort of pear drink and I know that she has a tendency to make them strong.

The night ended with me sitting on a saddle in their house, sending Pat a text message telling him that I was in the bathroom about to get sick but was written in cryptic code and made no sense and then crawling to bed. I am not sure how many times in my life I will continue making the mistake of getting drunk in front of my drug and alcohol counselor father, but apparently I haven't learned my lesson yet.

Needless to say, the next day was very rough.

The second incident was more recent and perhaps more severe. Pat and I decided to go on our first official date since Graham was born and celebrate Valentine's Day. So my SIL came over to watch Graham for us while we went out.

We started the evening by filing our taxes (we are very romantic these days). We then headed downtown for a nice dinner and an evening at the casino. In six hours, I had about four or four and a half drinks. More than I needed for sure, but nothing too crazy.

I fell asleep (or passed out) in the car on the way home and by the time we were in our driveway, I was throwing up in a pile of snow (completely wasting all of my delicious and expensive meal). Pat had to get our snow shovel to bury my puke. Classy.

The fun doesn't stop there. It took Grady about five seconds upon being let outside to find the puke pile. The next morning, all I could think about was how miserable I felt while all Grady could think about was the buried treasure in our yard. It was Filet Mignon, after all. A huge step up from his usual diet of bibs and burp cloths.

Every time we let him outside, he went straight to the pile and kept eating it and all of the snow around it. I was having a hard time stomaching it, literally. I already felt super nauseous and now I had to watch my dog eat my puke.

Pat headed to the grocery store while I stayed home and tended to my upset stomach, my pounding head, and, of course, our son. My hands were pretty full and the last thing I needed was to keep letting Grady in and out of the house and then having to wipe all the snow off of his paws before letting him back in. So I started ignoring his pleads and whines.

Grady was following me everywhere I went, whining at me to let him out. But I wasn't going to let him fool me. I knew he just wanted to eat more snow puke. When he went to the back door and peed, however, I realized too late that he did, in fact, really need to go outside. The entire time he had been following me around, he was peeing.

Turns out, when your dog spends an entire day eating snow, he will also spend the entire day peeing. So the rest of the afternoon I was on my hands and knees, with an upset stomach and a pounding head, cleaning up the maze of pee that was all over our house.

After feeling completely sick and miserable on top of feeling regret that I was wasting time I could have been spending with my son, I decided once and for all that alcohol is not my friend. From now on, I'm setting a two drink limit for myself.

Anyone want to take wagers on how long it takes before I am "re-learning" this lesson about my lack of tolerance for alcohol? Summer Shandy should be hitting the stores any time now...

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The working mom woes

Wow. I'm terrible at blogging. I wasn't awesome at it before having a kid and now with the kid, I'm even worse. I started this blog after my first week back at work, so over a month ago, and never finished or published it. So while Graham is napping on this Sunday afternoon, I made it my mission to finish it.


I'm not going to lie, I definitely shed a few tears on my way to work on that first Monday morning. It was not easy to leave my baby boy. One of the positive aspects of having a 45 minute commute is that I have a lot of time to think (this can also be negative, too, depending on my mood).

I had 45 minutes to talk myself out of feeling sad and talk myself into feeling really lucky and blessed. So I did. And it worked! And the glass half-full attitude lasted all week long. And to be honest, it wasn't a stretch because I really am lucky and blessed.

I was feeling a lot of emotions on that first day back to work but some of the emotions I wasn't feeling were fear, guilt and worry. I am lucky to have my father-in-law watching Graham so I didn't have to worry for a second that Graham wasn't going to be well taken care of.

I didn't have to feel guilty about leaving Graham with a stranger and wondering if he would be scared or feel unsure about who he was with. And I didn't have to fear that the person taking care of him wouldn't love him or do things with his best interest in mind.

So the first week went really well. The positive attitude remained, the work days flew by, I was super busy and it was really nice being around my coworkers again - I really work with a great group of people!

But by week number two, I was feeling worse than I did during the first week. I cried more during week two than I did during week one.

The new schedule was and still is a huge adjustment for all of us. Graham has never been an awesome napper, but as I'm learning, he naps the best for me. And unfortunately for all of us, when he hasn't napped well during the day, he is not enjoyable to deal with in the evening.

So after spending all day waiting to see him and wanting to soak up every second with him that I can, I get home to a tired, fussy, baby who wants nothing but to take a nap. And it makes working so much harder for me.

I had the luxury of being home with him for three whole months so I know exactly when his happiest and most fun moments are, and those are not the moments I'm getting in the evenings. Whenever someone asks me how I'm doing being back at work, my answer is simple. I love my job, but I love being a mom more and I would trade in working to be at home with him in a heartbeat if we could afford it.

All the moms that have been through this tell me, it will get better and it just takes time. Well, I will be the first to admit that I am a control freak and I'm horrible at waiting it out and letting things settle in. When there is a problem - I want to solve it right away and I want to be the one working on it, not someone else.

So even though we are super lucky having Pat's dad being the one to watch him during the day, I still want that person to be me. Because no one else is ever going to do things exactly like I would, and that is so hard for me.

I want to be at home figuring out what I can do to improve Graham's bad napping and I want to make it my mission to figure out what needs to be done to fix it. I'm not naive enough to believe that if I were home everyday that he would all of the sudden become the world's best napper. But at least then I wouldn't drive myself crazy wondering, "what if we tried this," or "would this have helped?"

I knew there was one thing I could do differently to help Graham get some more sleep. I had been waking him up at 6 a.m. Not because I had to, but because I so desperately wanted that time with him. I wanted to be the one giving him his first bottle and I wanted to have that hour with him before I left for work.

And it was wonderful. It was a great way to start my day and if the evenings were bad, at least I had that hour in the morning with him. But then I realized how selfish that was to wake him up when I really didn't have to and take away an extra hour in the morning he could be sleeping.

So I stopped. And it honestly broke my heart to do it! I think that was why the second week back to work was so much harder than the first, because I was losing that extra time with him. I only see him for about five minutes in the morning to wake him up and change his diaper. :(

So now if he has to nap in the evening to make up for lost naps during the day, which he almost always does, I'm only getting about two hours with him a day.

It's just not enough. I don't know how working moms do it. I just can't imagine two, or even three, hours in the evening with him during the week ever being enough.

Full disclosure - I'm a spoiled brat. I get a work from home day on Thursdays. I know how lucky I am and I absolutely love that day. Because he still naps three times a day (and because he naps pretty well for me), I actually do get a lot of work done, too.

I'm so very thankful to have this extra day with him and I know that it should be enough and I shouldn't be complaining, but even with that extra day with him, I STILL don't feel like it's enough. When I am with him, I am the absolute happiest I have ever been in my entire life. 

Some women say they could never be a stay at home mom - they think working makes them a better parent and they need that balance and adult interaction. I can totally see and appreciate that perspective. In fact, I had the same perspective before Graham was born. I used to say the same thing.

But now that he is here, I know I am not one of those people. Although I do get satisfaction and enjoyment out of completed projects and a job well done, my self-esteem doesn't come from my work and I feel like the most important job I could ever have is being Graham's mom.

Now I just need to figure out how I can manage to spend every day doing it.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

The day has come

My baby boy is three months old today. I would say, "where did the last three months go?" but I already know the answer to that since I spent them attached to my pump. But I'm sure they would have gone by quickly no matter what.

And now the day has come when I must return to work. I won't say that I've been dreading this day because it wasn't until recently that I even realized how very sad I would actually be to leave him. I've always said I could never be a stay-at-home mom because I enjoy working and the adult interaction.

I'm learning there are a lot of things "I've always said," before I became a mom which turn me into a hypocrite on a daily basis. My new mantra since becoming a mom is, "never say never." The truth is, your perspective on just about everything changes once you become a mom - at least that's the case for me.

I was never going to give my kid a pacifier. That is, until he was screaming in the middle of the night and I couldn't get him to stop. I didn't think twice before popping that pacifier into his mouth. Never say never.

I was never going to let my baby sleep in our room for longer than the first month - that is until I had this baby and was terrified of not being able to see his chest move in the middle of the night to make sure he was breathing. Never say never.

And now I know that I could definitely be a stay-at-home mom (although a part-time job working from home would be the best case scenario for me). Never say never.

Even though my passion for working isn't gone, my perspective of being a stay-at-home mom has definitely changed. I would miss working because I do enjoy it, but I enjoy being a mom so much more than I could ever enjoy working.

The hardest part for me is thinking about someone else spending more time with him than me. Someone else being with him for those important milestones - the first time he grabs something, the first time he rolls over, the first time he sits up, his first word, his first get the idea. I want so badly for that person to be me.

The rational part of me knows that the moment won't be any less special when it's the first time I am seeing it - regardless of whether or not he has already done it for someone else. The rational part of me also knows that millions of women return to work every single day, leaving their babies with babysitters or in daycares - sometimes leaving them with complete strangers.

The rational part of me knows how very lucky I am that I am leaving Graham with his Grandpa and my biggest fears are whether or not Graham is going to get too spoiled by being held all of the time versus worrying about whether he will ever get held at all.

The rational part of me knows how very lucky I am that I have had three months of maternity leave to spend with him. Many of my friends and family had to return back to work after only eight weeks. I am so lucky to have had this extra month and I did not take it for granted.

But as Graham's mom, my rational side is overshadowed by my heart and my overwhelming love for him and all I can think about is how much I love spending every second of the day with him. Well, maybe not EVERY single second, but I am really going to miss spending my days with him.

In an interest of "faking it until you make it," as Dale Carnegie would advise, I am trying to focus on the positive side of things and there are some things I'm looking forward to about returning to work.

I'm looking forward to all the adult interaction I will have. Although I spend plenty of time each day talking to Graham, it will be nice to interact with people who can actually answer me when I ask them questions or who can tell me what they are thinking or why they are crying (although I'm guessing the only one who will be crying when I return to work is me).

I'm also looking forward to getting back into a routine that requires me to shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, do my hair and makeup, and eat regular meals. I think this will be good for my mental and physical health. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate staying in my pajamas all day either, I'm simply trying to focus on anything I can turn into a positive about returning to work.

And not that being a mom isn't challenging - it definitely keeps me on my toes and requires me to use my problem solving and multitasking skills on a daily basis - but I am looking forward to being challenged again professionally with deadlines and goals.

I love the people I work with and I love interacting with the students. I don't love the commute but I'm going to be working different hours to try and avoid too much traffic.

So yes, there are lots of positives to returning to work - not to mention the importance of bringing in an income that we definitely need to keep this house up and running (and of course a few clothes in my closet :).  

Millions of moms do this every day. It’s normal to feel sad about it. He’s going to be very well taken care of. Interaction with his Grandpa and his cousin Harper is going to be a very positive thing for him.

I know all of these things but yet when I think about that moment when I leave Graham tomorrow morning for the first time, all I can do is cry.

Can you blame me for not wanting to leave this face?