Thursday, January 27, 2011

The End of a Search

Well one of our searches has finally come to an end. Our childcare search has ended. And just in time. I go back to work on Monday. As of yesterday we had no concrete plan aside from having my mom fill in as the temporary nanny until we could find a permanent solution. And Mr. Cob's mom had even planned to come in from Chicago to serve as temp nanny #2. And both grandmas are still helping us out by watching Lukas over the next two weeks. But as of today, we now have permanent childcare set up to begin the middle of February.

I received a call this morning from my #1 choice for daycare letting us know that a spot had become available. I honestly started crying on the phone with the woman. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. The daycare is just two miles from my office so on slow days I can pop in during lunch to see him and get a baby hug from my little man. This helps soothe the pain of having to go back to work after spending the past 3 months with him every day all day. I have conflicting emotions about the transition. I have no doubt that tears will be shed on Monday. I anticipate crying most days next week. But I'm also tying to stay positive and am hoping for the best. And the one thing that is helping the most is knowing that I have choice. I can always change my mind if I go back to work and it's horrible, maybe we will eventually decide that it's better for our family for me to stay home. Who knows. Maybe I'll be happy going back to work and Lukas will thrive at daycare.

I'm just going to take it one day at a time. You can't always plan for how the future will turn out.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


There are many words I could use to describe myself at any given time.  And the word changes often depending on my day or situation.  But there is one word that has constantly applied to me since the day I was born: little sister.  (Ok, that was two words.)  I have just one sibling. My big brother B.

He is three years, three months and four days older than me.  And since I can remember, I have looked up to my brother.  Sure we had your normal sibling rivalry growing up, but I've always loved him. 

B and I have been through a lot together over the years.  When I was eight years old we moved across the country from California to Virginia.  He was the only person I knew aside from my two cousins who lived in the town.  He was my playmate, my friend, my protector.  A few years later our family experienced a random, traumatic event (especially traumatic for a ten year old little girl).  A construction worker building the house next door to ours burglarized our house, but my father returned home in the middle of the robbery.  My dad, being the smart, quick-thinking man that he is, wrote down the license plate number of the car parked in the driveway.  Luckily my dad was not hurt and the men just left the house and thanks to dad's quick thinking, the police were able to track the license plate number and find the men.  The night before the trial for the burglary one of the men came back to our house and shot multiple gun shots at our house.  One of the bullets penetrated the front wall of the house and stopped at the wall that lead into my bedroom, on the wall where I was sleeping in my bed.  Again, luckily no one was injured, but I was traumatized.  I couldn't sleep alone for months.  So my big brother let me sleep in the extra twin bed in his room.  He did all he could to make me feel safe again.

We then moved to Massachusetts before I began the sixth grade.  Again, I knew no one and B was my only friend.  As a freshman in high school, most big brothers wouldn't want anything to do with their little bratty sister, but not B.  He was always there for me.  He came to my swim meets to support me and drove me around when he got his license.  But then in 1996 he graduated high school and moved to Richmond to attend college and I moved to Georgia, where I again knew no one.  But this move was different because my big brother wasn't there with me.  It was by far the hardest move we made.  But we stayed in touch and have only grown closer over the years.

I was lucky enough to live in the same town with B for a few years after law school.  And as I've already mentioned on here, he moved to California in June.  This time he was the one to make a big move and it has been difficult in many ways.  I wish I could have moved with him to be a friend and a support, like he has always been to me over the years.  But my life is here, in Atlanta.  So we'll have to settle for visits, which luckily we've been able to have multiple times since June.

I just returned from ten days in California visiting B with my mom and Lukas.  For me, it was a wonderful trip.  I was able to see where B lives (which is in a house with an amazing view of the ocean in a great town north of San Diego), see where Stu goes to school and even get a massage at the Chopra Center where B now works.  He shared his new city with us - taking us for walks on the beach, to his favorite restaurants and stand-up paddle boarding, his new exercise.  But mostly, we stayed at his house and talked and just spent time together.  It was precious time and I truly now believe the your time is the best gift you can give anyone.

I wish he still lived close by.  But I wish that for selfish reasons.  He's pursuing his passion and career and I'm so proud of him for taking the steps to reach his dreams. 

I love my big brother and am sad to have left him.  But now I can look forward to our next trip together, whenever that may be.  And while the two words "little sister" describe me, when I think of my big brother, I now also think of the word friend.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a close bond with their sibling.  But I am blessed to have him as my brother, and as my friend.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Learning to Parent

As I am just entering the world of parenthood I find myself observing other parents as they parent their children.  My hope as a parent is to just be the best parent I can be to Lukas and any future children Mr. Cob and I may be blessed with.  Lukas didn't come with an instruction manual, and as far as I know, no child does.  So as a parent you do what you think is best at the time.  You have to read your child and put their needs before your own and just have faith that you won't screw them up.  At least that is how I feel as I begin this parenting adventure.

In my 9.5 weeks as a parent, I've already questioned most things I've done.  Am I letting him swing in the lamb swing too often/too long?  (One parenting book I read says you should only let your baby in the swing for 30 minutes twice a day max.)  Am I feeding him often enough?  Am I feeding him too much?  Should I let him cry when I put him to bed or pick him up and rock him/feed him/sing to him until he falls asleep?  Is it OK to take him out in public when he's so little?  Should I let him use a pacifier?  Is it OK to have the TV when Lukas is awake?  What if he starts watching it?  Surely he's too little and the TV is bad for a baby, right?

These are the questions I'm constantly asking myself.  And I know that this is just the beginning of my journey parenting.  Lukas is a baby and in the end I believe that as long as his basic needs are met (being fed, changed, loved, cuddled, etc.) he will be just fine.  But as he grows, I'm sure my questions will grow with him.

This week I've been observing my older brother parent his two and a half year old son.  I've learned some "tricks" to help outsmart a toddler.  But mostly, I've seen that children really do just need to be loved and allowed to play.  My brother is an amazing father.  I've enjoyed watching him interact with his son and vice versa.  My nephew loves his dadda.  And dadda loves Stuie.  I can definitely learn some things about parenting from my big brother.  I'm lucky to have him in my life and have him a few steps ahead of me in this parenting game. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Miraculously my mom and I escaped from Atlanta right before the big snowstorm of 2011 hit.  We were scheduled to fly out to California on Tuesday afternoon, but the weathermen were predicting that the storm would hit Sunday evening.  So mom, being the determined woman that she is, promptly called Delta and switched our flight to Sunday afternoon.  We were confirmed on the flight but were not assigned seats.  Being not-too-frequent flyers, we didn't exactly know what this mean.  We now know it means the airline overbooked the flight and you don't actually have a seat.  Well we got to the airport extremely early (since we brought 9 week old baby Lukas along with us), checked our bags and proceeded to the gate.  The flight didn't "open" for check in until 45 minutes before the scheduled departure, but mom got in line 20 minutes earlier than this and just stood there.  So she was first in line to be assigned a seat.  Or so we thought.  We learned that there were 7-8 people confirmed on the flight but seatless.  We were two of these people.  The gate agent told us that we'd just have to wait and see.

So we waited.  They began boarding the flight and still we waited.  About 10 minutes before the flight was scheduled to leave, the our names appeared on the "cleared" list, which meant we had seats!!!  I went over the gate agent  and she told me that she bumped us up to the top of the list to get seats since we had a baby and my mom had been so kind even given the situation.  So thanks to the random stranger at Delta, we got our seats on the plane and left for California.  Lukas slept almost the entire flight 5 hour flight.  He is becoming quite the world traveler.

We arrived in California around 3pm PST, just as the snow storm hit Atlanta.  Since Sunday, the city has more or less shut down.  Schools have been closed, grocery stores have been without food and car wrecks are on every corner - or so I hear from Mr. Cob and the internet.  I haven't actually seen any of the footage on TV because my brother (who we are here visiting) doesn't have a TV.  And it is amazing.  I have not missed the TV once since we have been here.  In fact, I love not having a TV.  You are forced to spend quality time with the people around you and talk.  I don't miss the shows I usually watch or the seeing the news.  It has been great to tune-out this week.  While I know that I can't convince Mr. Cob to get rid of the TV (he has to watch his Cubbies, even if they're losing...), I at least want to have a big family without a TV in our next house.  I want a space for family and friends to congregate where there is no distracting TV.  For now, I'll enjoy the rest of our trip tuned out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Over 35....whatever

My biggest stresser since having Lukas has been getting dressed every day.  Not in the sense of "I can't find time to shower and put on make up because this baby is so demanding," but rather in the "what the hell do I fit in today?!?" sense.  My size/shape seems to be continuously changing.  So those size 14 Levi jeans I bought only fit for a week and then (thankfully!) were too big.  I then found a pair of size 12 Lucky Brand jeans for $30 at TJMaxx (I'm all about the bargain shopping, especially for these transitional clothes).  They still "work" but they are very baggy in the booty (not that I'm complaining about a pair of pants actually being baggy... this is all good since it means my booty is decreasing in size...but baggy pants don't look good on anyone).  I don't want to keep dropping money on new pants, but at the same time, I have to put clothes on every day.

Well over the Christmas holiday, I found the perfect pair of jeans that make me feel great!  And they're a size 10!  Yay!  These are now my favorite jeans and are unbelievably comfortable.  What jeans are they?  They're the Not Your Daughter's Jeans in trouser style.  I LOVE THEM!  They have a higher waist than all the normal designer jeans and so there is no "muffin top" effect.  The secret is a criss-cross panel in the front that tucks in your stomach - they are like control top jeans!  And they shape your booty.  I read somewhere that they're meant for women over 35, but screw that - they're perfect for the post-baby body.  And actually, I love them so much that I'll probably keep wearing them once my body is back to its usual self.  But the best thing about the jeans I bought - the cost.  I found them at Nordstrom's Rack for $29.97!  They're typically over $100 in the department stores.

I may not love my body right now.  But it's true that a great pair of jeans can make you feel like a million bucks!  These jeans make me feel great.  And I have the best accessory to make them look even better...

Monday, January 3, 2011

I Lied

Yesterday I said I wasn't going to give you a daily update of my 2011 resolutions.  But I changed my mind.  However, so as not to lose the few readers I have, I'm not going to dedicate one post a day to the resolution update.  Instead, I've created a new page titled "2011 Resolution Tracker" (see it up top?).  I'm going to keep track each day of how I'm doing sticking to the 5 resolutions.  So feel free to check in on my progress or not - just figured I'd mention it!

So far day 3 is going good...exercise and meditation done!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolution Update

2 days into 2011 and you'll be happy to know I've stuck to all my resolutions so far.  Yes, yes, I realize this isn't some monumental feat.  But maybe by publicizing it, I'll remain motivated to stick to it.

So here's the Sunday recap of my resolutions:

Saturday, January 1:
Res#1 - I created our weekly meal plan for the week, realizing I also needed to plan out the lunches as well as dinners.  This helps accurately account for leftovers and when they'll be eaten.  On the agenda for this weeks dinners: lasagna x2 (thankfully given to us by a friend), winter beef stew (to be cooked tomorrow night), sloppy joes, grilled cheese & soup, chicken burgers and leftovers.
Res#2 - I did a 40 minute Zumba DVD and a kettlebells DVD.  And yes, I'm incredibly sore today.
Res#3 - I spent 10 minutes cleaning the kitchen (emptying and reloading the dishwasher - this alone took ten minutes.  Did I mention there are only two adults living in this house?  How in the world we generate so many dirty dishes is beyond me.  Although, I'm using it as a good sign that I'm sticking to resolution #1 - eating at home more = more dirty dishes.).
Res#4 - I set up auto payment into our savings ($350 2x/mo) and spent 30 minutes on categorizing our December expenses.  Christmas throws budget trends off track, but at least it gave me an idea of where our money is going.
Res#5 - I meditated for ten minutes last night.  I only looked at the clock two times in this ten minutes.

Sunday, Jan 2:
Res#1 - stuck to the meal plan and shopped for the remaining groceries needed to complete the week's meals.
Res#2 - ran 4 miles on treadmill (did I mention I'm going to run a half marathon March 20th and I just started the training program this week?  More on that in another post...)
Res#3 - 10 minutes spent putting clean laundry away and picking up the bedroom.  I also spent like two hours re-organizing our kitchen after a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond - my kitchen life is going to be much happier now (in hopes of continuing with reso#1)
Res#4 - Ok, so we did spend some money at BBB - but I had a coupon, so that helps with the financial responsibility.  And we didn't buy any "extras" at the grocery store.
Res#5 - 10 minute meditation done.  I looked at the clock 3 times.  This meditating thing is going to take some work.

So far, 2011 is going great.  I promise not to give you a daily update on the resolutions, but for now I felt like sharing.

Baby cries.  Time to eat.  Him, not me.  I have to remember reso #2...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011 Resolutions

Happy New Year!  2010 was a pretty great year for the Swans, but we're excited to see what 2011 will bring.

Each year I always make a list of resolutions.  I have a hard time paring the list down and it usually ends up way too long and I stick to them for a week or two and then everything falls to the wayside.  But I always make resolutions.  I can't help myself.  It's something about a new year and a clean slate.  So, inevitably I've been thinking all morning about my resolutions for this year.  I usually do pretty generic resolutions - e.g. lose weight, save money, etc.  But this year I decided that I needed to think about my general goal and then pick a specific action to resolve to follow in hopes of actually following through with the resolutions for more than a few weeks.

Here are my resolutions for 2011:

#1 (GOAL: cook more meals at home/eat out less) - RESOLUTION: To prepare a weekly meal plan each Saturday and follow said meal plan.  Good thing I already created this handy dandy meal planner sheet.  I now just need to use it and STICK WITH IT.  I have a really bad habit of planning something for dinner and then deciding that I'd rather order in or go out to dinner.  Lukas has curbed our going out to dinner, but we've still jumped ship on our good plans to cook dinner to order pizza or pick up Mexican.  And it's usually me, not Mr. Cob that wants to veer off course.  It ends now.  I'm going to become a better cook and save money in the process by eating at home.

#2 (GOAL: get in shape and lose the baby weight) - RESOLUTION: Do some sort of physical activity for 10 minutes 6 days per week.  We now have a treadmill, so the least I can do is walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes each day.  Or do sit ups and push ups for ten minutes over the course of the day.  And hopefully most days, once I get started and do the initial 10 minutes I'll feel good and continue for a longer work out.

#3 (GOAL: keep a cleaner house) - RESOLUTION: Clean/organize the house for 10 minutes each day and clean the bathrooms each Tuesday.  I once read in a magazine that a good way to keep your house tidy is to set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes each day and devote at least those 10 minutes each day to picking up/cleaning/organizing around the house.  Be it folding laundry, doing the dishes, picking up toys, etc., this small task of cleaning 10 minutes a day can go a long way to keeping the house more orderly.  And I hate cleaning the bathrooms, but I figure that if I just decide to always clean them one day a week, then perhaps I'll stick with it and each cleaning won't be so bad.

#4 (GOAL: save money) - RESOLUTION: Put a little more thought into purchases before they are made; pay off any credit card balance each month; use to see where our money is going and change our habits where necessary; and set up a monthly automatic savings payment into our savings account.  Now that we have finally paid off the credit cards, I do not want us to carry a balance on them again.  This is definitely doable (assuming we both keep our jobs, etc.), but I'll admit that I don't always think about what I'm spending my money on, so I just need to be a little more aware of where our money is going - which is where comes in.  I've signed up for an account but don't spend time using it wisely.

#5 (GOAL: stay happy/positive) - RESOLUTION: Meditate 10 minutes each day.  When I was pregnant I listened to a relaxation CD each day and found that this quiet time really made me feel good and refreshed.  Since Lukas' arrival I've stopped taking this time each day to just relax and be quiet, but I think it would benefit everyone in the family if I took just 10 minutes a day for myself to turn inward and reflect/relax/recharge.

Here's to a happy and productive year!