Archive for June, 2013

Lifting the Fog

Friday, June 28th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
I have been back at work for a month now. Although Rory’s developmental progress has not missed a beat, my own adjustment to life as a working mom has been much slower going. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, from a purely logistical standpoint, my husband and I have slipped into a workable routine in the mornings and evenings. We are managing our time reasonably well, which is half the battle.

But the bigger battles are elsewhere. Namely, I am at war with the lingering fog of mommy brain. This battle manifests itself in multiple ways. First, it takes much more energy to stay focused than it once did. This is a new struggle for me; I have always been very intense and able to focus for hours on end. Now, I find myself taking breaks and losing my train of thought. That’s not to say I can’t gut it out when necessary. But it just isn’t as natural for me as it once was.

Second, I am finding myself less attentive to details. I have turned in assignments with typos–a transgression I never used to make. I have sent e-mails without the allegedly included attachments. And I have on more than one occasion hung up the phone for an important call without asking a necessary question.

Finally, and perhaps as a result of each of these transgressions, I am battling self-doubt. It is not as intense as a “I don’t know the answer” kind of doubt. Instead, it is more like the wobbly knees of getting back on a bike for the first time after a multiple year hiatus. Regardless, it is a struggle.

I keep reminding myself that all of this will improve with time. Perhaps once Rory stops waking in the early morning to nurse, the fog will clear once and for all. However, in the interim, I am building in plenty of time for breaks and making certain to proofread my work at least two to three times.

Berry Picking

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Keeping the boys entertained over the summer is no easy task.  I try to provide them with different activities to keep them occupied.  I thought picking strawberries at a local farm would be fun. We picked blueberries before, but since strawberries are Jack and Tate’s favorite fruit, they were more eager to get picking.  Initially, they weren’t too happy about being out in the heat, but quickly realized how much fun it was to find the bright red berries.  We were lucky to have a nice breeze to keep us cool.

Tate quickly learned how NOT to pick a strawberry.  He squeezed them tightly and his hands were sticky and bright red (at least they smelled good.)  After I demonstrated the proper way to pick, Tate was filling up our box in no time.  Jack knew to lift the leaves up to find loads of berries underneath.  I picked a few myself and mostly helped find bunches for the boys to pick.  It’s the end of the picking season so there weren’t a whole lot to choose from, but we were able to fill up most of our box.  For just a couple dollars and some hard work we had ourselves four quarts of strawberry goodness.

Later that evening we gathered ingredients to make strawberry shortcake.  Jack and Tate both helped prepare the dessert.  We topped it with some whipped cream and savored every bite.  There is nothing better than fresh strawberries on a summer day as well as two happy boys who were proud of their labor and hard work.



Happy Summer

Monday, June 24th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:

Wow, does time fly! It’s really hard to believe that next week we will be celebrating Independence Day and that the year is halfway over. I feel like it was just Christmas, and now we’re slathering on the sunscreen to go to the pool. It just officially became summer and before you know it, the leaves will be falling from the trees and we will be gearing up for another school year and football season.

We are really enjoying the warm weather while it lasts, especially on the weekends. Haley loves the getting in the water and long, lazy days spent at our large neighborhood park. We often grill out with friends or family, where the little ones enjoy playing ball and blowing bubbles. No day would be complete without ice cream, and finally we retire to the comfort of the air-conditioned apartment.

It’s so cool to see Haley enjoy the four seasons and experience all the things I loved to do as a child. Doing these simple but fun activities reminds me of what it was like to be small and carefree. When she was younger, I was trying to shield her from a lot of things. But as I see her grow older, smarter and more capable, I am more confident to encourage her to “go for it”. I let her try a Popsicle. I let her get wet in the sprinklers even if she’s not appropriately attired. I allow her to take a short ride on our neighbor’s scooter. I’m glad I’m loosening up, and I’m sure Haley is too! She loves taking part in all the season has to offer.

Stay cool!

Mommy’s Home

Friday, June 21st, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory is starting to show us how much he loves his parents. He has always watched us intently when we walk around the house, but now he is starting to react with positive emotions when we both come home from work. And I have to say, it is a great feeling.

Rory has not always been as outwardly emotional. When I would return home at the end of the day during my first week of work, I found Rory’s reactions a little underwhelming. I might receive a small smile if I was lucky, but generally, he seemed somewhat ambivalent. Odd as it may seem, I had been hoping he would be more excited to see me at the end of the day. I suppose I should have been glad to see him so happy at the end of each day (and I was), but I also had been expecting a little more fanfare.

I was upset enough at Rory’s lukewarm reactions during that first week that I actually dug out my trusted collection of baby books to see if there was a possible explanation. I learned that babies only really begin demonstrating love at around five months or so and felt a little bit better about Rory’s behavior.

Sure enough, like clockwork, shortly before Rory turned five months old, we started to see a new level of engagement in his demeanor. Now, rather than an indifferent glance when we come through the door, Rory puts his arms out, wiggles, and smiles as if to say: “Come give me a hug mommy!” or “play with me daddy!” True, he may also be saying, “I have a wet diaper!” but whatever the actual reason, I am thrilled to be watching him continue to grow and mature into a darling little boy. And I can’t wait to see which milestone comes next. . .

Fun in the Sun

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Today I’m writing my blog while sitting in a chair, feeling water rush over my toes and watching my kids make sand castles.  Yes, you guessed it…we’re at the beach.  Our immediate family met my extended family here for the week and are having loads of fun.  There are sixteen of us total, and six of those people are boys under the age of thirteen.  It’s a full house, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.

My kids are ecstatic to see their family, especially their cousins.  It’s been an all-out laugh fest since we arrived.  They are constantly playing games, swimming, digging in the sand, trying to boogie board, and eating up a storm.  All of this activity leads to well rested kids (and adults.)  You don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve slept past seven AM.  Yippee!

With a house full of family comes a house full of helping hands.  It’s been absolutely wonderful having extra eyes on my children at all times.  I can actually sit, relax,and close my eyes without wondering where one of my children is off running to at the moment.  As much as I love how active my kids are, it’s so refreshing to get a break.

I’m very thankful to vacation with my family.  It’s not easy to suit everyone’s busy schedules, but we try to find a time to plan something special.  The memories are priceless, and I’m happy my husband and I are able to provide our kids with a fun experience.  Happy Summer, everyone!

A Losing Battle

Monday, June 17th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Last week, Haley and I hosted her weekly playgroup. I was thrilled to have the girls and their mothers over to repay all of the times they so graciously had us to their homes. I cleaned the house, got special snacks and most importantly, tried to prepare Haley. She’s not always the best when it comes to sharing. I explained to her that her friends were coming over and she needed to share her toys. Her response “no.” I persisted, telling her if someone wants to play with her Barbie or her shopping cart, we say “Okay, here you go, you can play with it now.” Haley kept shaking her head no. She hated this plan. I was sweating well before the guests arrived.

Miraculously, Haley was really well behaved! She had a few of the moments of selfishness you would expect from a two year old, but nothing crazy. She actually played nicely and didn’t freak out when other kids wanted to play with her toys, even offering them up freely at times! I was thrilled. I felt like on some level, I had finally broken through!

That burst of pride was short-lived. A few days later, we had a play date with a much younger toddler. Haley was rough, stole toys and was bossy. “Go upstairs!” I heard. Then a few moments later: “Go downstairs!” Fortunately, I am close with the kid’s mom, so the whole situation was less stressful. Still, I didn’t like it.

I’m noticing that many parents are more laid back than I. They subscribe to the “let the kids work it out” philosophy.  I agree with that in theory, but when I see Haley not being nice, it just makes me cringe. I’m fine with letting nature take its course if Haley is the victim, but not the other way around. I don’t know what that says about my parenting sensibility! I also realize that at this age, almost all of this is out of my control. Haley is going to act up, and it doesn’t mean she’s a bad kid. I guess I feel like there’s enough nastiness in the world. Minimizing that behavior coming from my daughter is the least I can do.

Father’s Day Festivities

Friday, June 14th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
When we first learned we were expecting, I was very curious to see what kind of father my husband would be. Not because I doubted him in anyway, but because the whole notion of being parents was relatively foreign to us both.

As it turns out, parenting in our household is very much a team effort. We do our best to divide and conquer when it comes to househould and childcare responsibilities. I wait for the sitter in the mornings, he relieves her in the afternoon. We take turns with night-time wakings, and we do our best to alternate diaper changes when feasible. He washes bottles. I wash clothes. I put Rory to bed while he cooks dinner. There is no precise science to it, but it has worked so far.

While I was on leave, I read Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. In it, Sandberg discusses on the importance of finding a partner who is willing to be a true teammate when it comes to attacking the drudgeries of adulthood. Without the support of a true partner, she explains, it is nearly impossible for working moms to juggle all the ins and outs and intricate details of child rearing. Now that I am back at work, I am realizing just how right she is.

I do my best to thank my husband each day for all the support he gives around the house, though I probably don’t thank him enough. I am grateful for everything he does to keep our household running, and especially his flexibility and calm demeanor. And I am thrilled to have a chance to celebrate his new role as “daddy” this Father’s Day weekend.

Teary eyed

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

From Wednesday Mom – Janelle:
Living a military life has its ups and downs.  The deployments, distance from family, and last minute moves can all be rough on a family.  However, the relationships I’ve formed with many friends along the way has been incredible.  We all live in the same “world” and deal with the same issues from day to day.  We understand each other and help each other.  There is always some one who answers my questions about the best school, the best dentist and the best place to eat.  In fact, when we show up to a new place there is usually a welcome packet full of information.

Unfortunately, this week I have to say goodbye to FIVE of my dear friends.  They are like sisters to me.  I know I can count on them for anything… including watching my children on a minute’s notice. Our children attend the same schools, we exercise together, BBQ on the weekends, and occasionally go on day trips with and without our kids.  It’s unfortunate that all five of them are leaving at the same time.  I’m really going to miss them.  Two of them are moving internationally.  Thank goodness for video chats and social media.

I’ve been pretty bummed with “the end” sneaking up.  I do not like saying goodbye, but we’ve been lucky to know at least one person who already lives in the new town.  I’ve always had someone to call and help house hunt or give me information about the new town.  I have also reciprocated the help with others providing the same tasks. We all move around and sometimes we eventually meet up again.

My children have developed relationships with my friends children who are moving.  This has been the first time my husband and I had some emotional issues to face with our kids.  Jack is at the age where he understands he won’t be seeing his friends for possibly a really long time.  We showed him where his friends are moving to on his map.  We hope it will help him get an idea of just where in the world they’ll be.  Who knows, maybe someday we’ll make a visit.  Italy sounds really nice right now.  I am not a fan of putting my kids through sad situations, but I know they will make new friends along the way.

This is all part of being in the military.  I am a stronger person for having this life.  I’m confident my kids will be stronger as a result.  When my husband is out of town for a week I rejoice because it isn’t a month or six months (or longer.)  I try to tell myself “things could be worse” and I always have low expectations.  This way if things get out of control they can only get better.  Yes, there are days (many days) I wish I lived closer to family and had a “normal” life, but if I didn’t experience the life I have now I would not be the person I am today.

Adult Party Time

Monday, June 10th, 2013

From Monday Mom – Neetika:
Over the weekend, my husband and I hosted a small cocktail party at our apartment. A bunch of our friends came over to enjoy wine and spirits, hors d’oeuvres, and pleasant conversation. Everyone had a great time. I kind of hate to say this—but the best part of the night was that Haley was not there! I had no idea how badly I needed a night like that.

Most of the guests at the party were parents, so we spent some of the evening catching up on what the kids have been up to. But mostly, we discussed news, pop culture, work, etc. It felt great to have several uninterrupted hours to enjoy one another’s company and not worry or even think (too much) about the little ones.

We weren’t the only ones living it up. Haley stayed a Grandma and Papa’s house, and I can only imagine the debauchery that took place there. My parents let Haley get away with murder. I’m sure she ate whatever she wanted, slept when she felt like it, and basically ruled the roost. That’s okay. I think she deserved fun time just as much as we did.

When the party was over, it was bittersweet to go back to reality. I regretted that the childless fun was so fleeting; yet I couldn’t wait to see my baby girl. My world is certainly different with Haley in it, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Running On Empty

Friday, June 7th, 2013

From Friday Mom – Erin:
Rory decided that the day I returned to work was a good time to stop sleeping. The night before my first day back, my husband and I got no more than two consecutive hours of sleep at a time. Rory would roll from his back to his stomach and then scream in frustration because he could not roll back to his back. This continued the next night. Getting up and out the door in the morning is hard enough when you’ve got an almost five-month old. Add a lack of sleep to the mix, and the struggle becomes borderline unbearable.

We thought we had overcome Rory’s sleep issues over the weekend. I started adding in a “dream-feed” before I went to bed. By topping Rory off later in the evening, we were able to steal five hours of uninterrupted sleep before he started rolling onto his stomach and screaming. But, on Sunday night, the dream feed backfired. I accidentally woke him up entirely. Then, when I tried putting him to bed again, he cried for a solid hour and a half. We eventually gave him a pacifier, but when he spit it out a few hours later he began to cry again. And again.

Monday night was nearly identical, if not worse. He wasn’t hungry for the dream feed, and my attempts woke him up again. The rest of the night was broken up into 45 to 90 minute periods of sleep followed by 30-45 minutes of awake time. My husband and I awoke bleary eyed. And Rory decided to wake up an hour earlier than usual, too.

We dropped the dream feed on Tuesday night, but Rory continued rolling onto his stomach throughout the night. The longest span of sleep either of us had was about two and a half hours.

We are still working out precisely how we plan to address this recent bout of sleepless nights. In the meantime, I am thankful that my return to the office has been a bit lower-key than I had originally anticipated. As a result, I have had a little more time to ease into this new reality. And I am even more thankful for the freshly brewed coffee in the office kitchen.