Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Reminder...

I'm not sure I have the words to adequately express what I want to say, but I'm going to try my best.

This morning was the CURE Childhood Cancer's Lauren's 5k/2k run and picnic.  Our friends Emily and  Chris organized a team to fund-raise and run in memory of their son Marco who died from a rare form of brain cancer this past Fall.  Marco was only 9 months old.  His time here was far, far too short.  Team Marco raised over $10,000 for childhood cancer research and the morning was a wonderful way to honor Marco's life and support his parents.  Emily and Chris hope to make it an annual event.  We'll be there every year that we can.  I sincerely thank all those who donated to my fundraising efforts.

On the 30 minute car ride to the event I said to Mr. Cob that I was glad we were doing the run.  He said he agreed.  And then we both started tearing up remembering why we were running.  Then I started crying again as we drove up to the parking lot.  People were wearing tee shirts encouraging a little boy or girl to fight through his or her cancer.  Others had on shirts "in memory" of another child, and again I was reminded of why we were there.  We were running because our friends' baby boy had died of cancer.  I could only imagine how Emily was holding up.  My heart was heavy especially for her this morning.  Since September she's been a mom without a baby.  There are no words to make that fact better.

I ran the 5K alone this morning - Mr. Cob stayed at the finish with Lukas and Emily and some other friends.  We were running late so I barely made the starting line in time and wasn't able to meet up with Chris and the others from Team Marco who were also running the 5K.  So I put my headphones on and started the race.    And then as I was running, I began crying again.  The race course was lined with signs and pictures of children, both alive and fighting, or others who were no longer here with us.  The signs had words from loved ones telling their babies to fight and how proud they are of them.  Or others remembering a 20 month old girls beautiful smile.  A man in front of me had a shirt on that read "Growing up is hard enough without cancer."  It all was very powerful.

I'm not sure if it would have had the same effect on me if I didn't have a child of my own.  Or one who was only 3 weeks older than Marco.  But the first thing I did when I finished the race was hug my little guy.  And thank God that he is here with me and he is healthy.

Then I got angry.  Angry at all the mommyblogs out there who write about how difficult their days are raising their kids.  The Huffington Post made one blog Mommastery go viral with the author's post, Don't Carpe Diem, about how she doesn't like people telling her to enjoy these moments with her kids.  And one of the top 25 Mommy Blogs out there, Motherhood, WTF regularly posts about how her son is driving her crazy.  I know these blogs are meant to be cathartic for the writers, and to make other moms know that they're not alone.  And I get that.  This mom thing can be really hard.  But this morning I was just thinking about how Emily and Chris would LOVE to have a difficult 5 year old boy to fight with every day.  And I wondered where the love went from these moms.  Are their posts overly exaggerated for effect?  Or do they really not enjoy most days with their kids?  I don't know exactly what I'm trying to get at.  I guess I just feel like people take their lives for granted.  We take our loved ones for granted.  But the only certainty in life is death.  We just don't know when.

So rather than complaining about our kids and finding their faults, I wish all moms could step back for a second and remember that our kids are a miracle.  Remember that feeling you had the very first time you laid eyes on your child.  Hug them.  Laugh with them.  Play in the dirt and ruin your clothes with them.  Love them.  Always and wholeheartedly love them.  Because they're not guaranteed to be here forever.

A parent should never have to bury their child.  But sometimes that is God's plan.  And if your baby were to leave this Earth tomorrow wouldn't you want to know that you spent most of your days with them showering them with love? 

I know I'm not perfect and don't always find love in the mundane tasks of motherhood.  But this morning was a wake up call for me.  I am lucky to have a healthy child.  Hopefully I'll have many years on this Earth with him, but in case I don't, I plan on making the most out of each day I do get with him.  Life is a gift and being a mom is the best thing in the world.  Hug your babies tight and give them extra kisses tonight and every night.  You just don't ever know when that kiss will be the last one you give.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Last Chance to Donate

Mr. Cob and I are running in a race this weekend in memory of Lukas' friend Marco was died this past year from a very rare form of brain cancer.  He was not yet even a year old.  Marco's parents are our good friends Chris and Emily and we're running in support of them as well - they have lived through a parent's worst nightmare.  Any donation is much appreciated!


Here is the link to my fundraising page in support of TEAM MARCO: http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/ryanswanson/18th-annual-laurens-run

Thank you to those who have already donated!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

TTT - Make a Friend

My Toddler Tip for this Tuesday is more of a mom tip than a toddler tip.  So forgive me.  But take my advice.

Find some like-minded-mom friends and get together with them often.

When you birth that sweet little baby, your life changes.  The pregnant woman and the new mom who emerges from the delivery room are two different people.  At least for me they were.  And as much as you tell yourself that you won't let having a child change you, it does.  So don't fight it.

But that also means that your friendships might change. If you're lucky, you'll have a close friend who gives birth around the same time as you, so you can talk about poop together.  But if not, make a new mom friend.  And don't be shy about it.  Don't let your insecurities get in the way of striking up a conversation at the park or at daycare drop off or in the diaper aisle at Target.  

Having a network of mom friends is a mom's saving grace.

And if you're a working mom, find some other career-driven mommas and befriend them.  You may think they don't have time to add a new friend to their already busy schedule, but odds are that if they're a working mom, then they're pretty good at the juggling act.  And while I don't know from experience, I'm guessing SAHMs find  solace in mom-friends just as much as working moms.  Middle of the day play dates anyone?

If you're lucky, you'll find some working mom girlfriends who will meet you after work for a glass of wine and help you solve the problems in "your world" while the kids are still playing at daycare.  It's open until 7pm for a reason!

Being a mom can be a hard job.  Having other women to help you through it is crucial.  They'll make you feel better about your kid being the biter of the bunch when they share that their kid throws things.  They'll give you a hard time about giving in to your toddler's demand for "momma milk" while reassuring you that you'll know when you're ready to stop nursing.  And best of all, they'll laugh with you through the journey.

So the next time you have an opportunity to make a new mom friend, get over yourself and say hello.  You just might make a life-long friend.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Do Struggle

Ok.  I'm ready to talk about it.

I've been hiding behind pictures of my insanely cute little guy for a week or so now.  The truth is that I've been having a rough time the past few weeks with the whole working mom gig.  So much so that I had a mental breakdown last week and found myself in a puddle of tears at the kitchen table.  I feel like I am failing at everything.  My son doesn't get enough of my time.  He says a new word every hour it seems and I'm missing it.  The teachers at daycare are there hearing him speak.  Not me.  Not his mom.  I'm worried I am going to look back on this time years from now and regret choosing to work rather than stay home and raise my son.  (Here I go again with the mom guilt.  I know.  I need to let it go, but I can't.  That's been the struggle.)  Why did I decide to have a child if I'm not the one with him 24/7? The guilt is slowly choking me to death.  I hate the mom guilt.  But I fear its real and the constant nagging feeling in my stomach is finally taking over.  I think I've made the wrong decision.

I've also been in a lawyer rut. That statement alone starts to go against my "don't blog about work policy", so I'll stop with saying this: I just don't love the law some days.  But there's that whole 12 years of schooling plus 4 years of college and then additional 3 years of law school.  And the diplomas sit on my wall staring at me.  And the student loans haunt my nightmares.  Should I really just throw away my career, my education and stick my husband with all MY student loan debt so I can stay home with Lukas and "raise" him, which let's be honest, I might hate. 

Then two weeks ago it finally hit me over the head.  It is time to quit.  It is time to sell my briefcase and pencil skirts and trade them in for jeans and an apron.  I was done.

I quickly looked at the numbers and realized that financially we could survive on Mr. Cob's income alone.  And by survive, I mean have about $750 every month for food, gas, diapers, haircuts, toiletries, the dog and cat and any additional "life" costs that arise.  Fine, whatever.  We can do it.  A lot of people make it work on a lot less. I can give up shopping completely.  I can give up going out to lunch or dinner with friends.  I don't need to drink coffee or get bikini waxes.  All that matters is that I am home with Lukas.  Mommy will be raising him and all will be right in the world.  All he needs is me and all I need is him.

So I took my budget in hand as ammo and told Mr. Cob, I need to quit my job.  Now.

I probably should've approached him with more of a plan, or more sobbing.  Let's just say I surprised him and his initial response was not "ok love, whatever you need".  And at that moment, I knew what I needed without a question or doubt in my mind.  I'm a mother who needs to be with her child.  At any cost.

Or so I thought.

Mr. Cob and I agreed that we'd need to try out this new budget for a while and see how it works in reality.

And then I let it all sink in and started imagining this "new life." 

This new life would have Mr. Cob as the sole breadwinner and his career would take the spotlight.  Right now, we share the spotlight.  We make career choices together, but if I stop working, then I started to worry that I'd lose a bargaining chip.  Hum, I realized I'm not sure I'm prepared for that.  My dad's job took us all across the country when I was growing up.  I know my mom wasn't happy about some of the moves over the years and I don't want that to be me.  I don't want to be stuck following my husband wherever his job my lead us.  And I'm not implying that Mr. Cob wouldn't consult with me or that we wouldn't make future decisions together.  It's just that if my job is still in play, then I'm assured a spot at the table.

Then we met some friends out for dinner.  And then we talked about how that'd have to stop if I quit working.

And the brunch out the next day would be a thing of the past as well.

And Lukas' excitement about going to school to see his little friends would go away too since school would be out of the budget.

And then I spent the day with a dear friend who works part time and spends two days a week home with her toddler.  And we talked honestly about how staying home with kids is hard and doing it day in and day out can be exhausting, especially if you no longer have the money to do the fun things you enjoy doing with them.  And then I read some more blogs from moms who stay home with their kids. (Interesting that there are many lawyer turned stay at home mommies out there...) One told me to get ready to embrace McDonalds and having your kids watching Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and any other cartoon that will give you a break.  The blog also said to embrace drinking wine and ignoring your kids.  Because apparently that's what you have to do to make it through the day as a stay at home mom.

Maybe this is not what I want.  Maybe it's not even what's best for Lukas.

I realized if I quit working then there's no money left for vacations or flying to visit relatives who live a plane ride away.  That wouldn't be better for Lukas.  That wouldn't be better for me.

And Lukas, he is THRIVING right now.  He is a happy kid with an infectious laugh and huge smile.  All. The. Time.  Am I really going to risk screwing that up by changing his whole world so that I can stay home with him.  (Because of course, his staying at home with me is the best thing for him.  Period.  End of story.  I can teach him better than any school.  Right?  Maybe it's not).  He seems to be doing just awesome with the power combination we currently have going of school-mommy-daddy rearing. Why mess with something that is clearly working?

And then we went and spent thousands of dollars renovating our backyard and driveway.  Nope, we wouldn't be able to do any more house improvements if I stopped working. 

There was more to think about than just my emotions.

So after talking to Mr. Cob about the ins and outs of what this "new life" would look like and talking to my amazing working mom friends and my own mom, I've made the decision to continue on as a working mom.  I think it's best for Lukas.  I think it's best for me.  I just needed Mr. Cob to agree that if I need to be a stay at home mom, then we could make it work.  I think I needed to know it was an option if I really really wanted it.  And I needed to take some time to evaluate how life would change if I did stay at home and I don't think the grass would be greener.

But I also don't want to have the mom guilt for another 18 plus years.  So I'm letting it go.  I'm not going to allow myself to get bogged down in the guilt any more.

I'm a working mom.  I love my kiddo.  And it's OK that he's at daycare 8 hours a day.

I know this won't be the last time I go through this exercise.  I know there will be other days where I cry and question my decision.  And maybe in the future the outcome will be different.  But for now, I'm going to hold on to my high heels and keep going with this juggling act.

So now you know what's been on my mind lately.  Nothing big.  Just life.

I Can't Stop

He's just too dang cute. We had a great weekend. Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Other Stuff

I know I've been neglecting the blog the past week.  It's not for any other reason than that I've been busy with life.  You see:

 The Spring Bonnet Parade at Primrose was last week...


I had a bit of meltdown over life.

Lukas threw up in the middle of the night and slept right through it.  Scary and gross.

I stayed home from work to take care of the little guy.

My mom recovered all our couch cushions on our porch.  Here's a sneak preview before the big reveal to come later.


We had our entire backyard dug up, leveled and re-done.  It is awesome.  And green.  It was not.  Green, that is.  We now have sod and flower beds with no flowers.  Our budget could only go so far.

Lukas loved the tractor.


We're having our driveway torn up and repaved next week.  I'll share pictures of the finished product then.

Oh and then I got the stomach bug and felt like I was dying.

So that is why I have not written in a while.  I'll be back soon.  I promise.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

TTT: Stay Dry

This is a simple tip.  And one that most parents might already know, but recently I had a friend say she'd never heard of this, so maybe it's not a well known thing.  If you don't use them already, I suggest going out and buying these before night night tonight:

Nighttime diapers.

I don't know how they magically keep your kid drier than regular diapers, but they do.  And a dry kid = longer sleep at night for the kiddo.  Longer sleep at night for the kiddo = more sleep for momma.  More sleep for momma = happier momma.  Happier momma = happier household.  Am I right?

I've used the Huggies nighttime diapers and the Pampers nighttime diapers and they both seem to work about the same.  I've even found that Lukas will take longer naps on the weekend if I remember to put a nighttime diaper on him before his nap.

So give them a try if you don't already use them and let me know how they work.  Does your kid sleep longer?  Here's hoping!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TTT - Snap To It

Just about every week I put some piece of clothing on Lukas only to realize it's way too small and in the  bin for future babies it goes.  And then there are the other times, like last month, when I bought my 16 month old little guy a pair of 18 month shorts (figuring he is closer to 18 months than 12 months at this point), only to have them fall down to his ankles.  Talk about pants on the ground.

It seems that kids clothing sizes are all over the board and you never really know whether something is going to fit.  Perhaps some of y'all are more patient than I am and you actually try the clothes on your kid before you buy them.  But not this momma.  I have a secret weapon when it comes to making pants and shorts fit my bambino.

The Dapper Snapper.

It's a "belt" for kids.  And it is magical.  Check it out here.  I found them on Babysteals.com so you might be able to find them on sale, but I would buy them at full price in a heart beat!

My dapper dude

Monday, April 9, 2012

You're Not Alone

Have you ever been up at 3 o’clock in the morning, rocking your teething baby to sleep for the third time in two hours?

To read the rest of this post, please click here to check it out on Dr. Z and Friends!  If you like it, please leave a comment on the Dr.Z site and/or share it with your friends!!! 

Thanks - I'm still so excited about my other blogging adventure with Dr. Z!!

Guns, Horses & Meat

I was a country girl this Easter weekend.  The highlights of which included riding a horse for the very first time, shooting a 20 gauge shotgun and breaking my vegetarian streak by consuming steak, fried chicken and pulled pork all within a 48 hour span.


My little Easter bunny
We spent the weekend at a hunting lodge in South Georgia with a group of friends and their kiddos.  Lukas loved the fresh air and took a 3 and half hour nap one day!  I enjoyed hanging with my girlfriends and my two boys.  Lukas and his friend Elise even did an Easter egg hunt! I thought they were too young and wouldn't catch on to the hunt part, but they did - I'll post some pictures when I get them uploaded.  It was a wonderful weekend getaway. 

In the meantime, here's a video of my little guy from last week.  It's long, but the entire thing cracks me up. This is such a fun age!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

17 months

The little dude is just shy of 17 months.  This is an AWESOME age.  I think I've said that every month since he was born.  But for real.  This age is fun.  So what is he doing now -

New words:

Elmo - But he thinks its a a two syllable word.  As in El-mo.  With the mo sounding deeper than the El.  It's really cute.  He's also obsessed with El-mo.  He has two books and an El-mo airplane.  And as he reminds me every time we brush his teeth, his toothpaste is El-mo branded too.

Nana & Pop pop - he knows who they are and gets very excited to see them on Skype

Stu - he loves finding pictures of Stu and is silly excited when we Skype with Stu

Milk - he's actually saying the word now and asks me for milk!

Water/Wa wa - self explanatory

Bike - We're going to have to purchase a little bike for him soon.  He now points out EVERY bike we pass on the road and ever bike sign posted on the roads.  Look around you the next time you're driving.  There are a LOT of bike signs.  Share the Road.  Our car rides are now VERY loud.

Ba-bye.  This is accompanied with his kingly wave and followed by whatever he's waving to.  As in "ba bye wa wa" (in the tub) - "ba bye bike"(at the park) - "ba bye up" (to my dad).  Does this qualify as a sentence?  I think it does.

New Animal noises:
Monkey
Gorilla (while simultaneously pounding on his chest)

New signs:
PLEASE (we thought this was hungry, but no, turns out he's been politely asking us for things.  usually food, so hungry wasn't too far off)
More please!  He puts the two signs together!!!
Squirrel (because this was a useful sign for us to teach him)
Bird
Butterfly
Dog
Thank you (we're working on this)
Gentle (as in stop hitting the dog.  Or mama)

He hugs now too.  My friend just emailed me with this: "Did Mr. Cob (she used his real name...) tell you what the boys did this morning? We were waiting for the elevator, I put Rome down and Lukas came running up to him and they hugged! Cutest thing ever!"

My little man is a hugger! 

And he gives kisses and blows kisses.

This is an awesome age.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Man's Best Money Pit

I asked Mr. Cob to check and make sure our Health Savings Account couldn't be used for our pets.  They're our dependants, right?  So I think we should be able to use that money for their vet bills.  It makes sense to me.
 
These pets are ruining our financial well-being this month.  Wrigley's breakdown: 2 nights at the Emergency Vet followed by 2 nights at the regular vet.  6-8 x-rays.  IV fluids.  3 antibiotics.  And an ULTRASOUND.  Are you kidding me?  And they never could conclusively pinpoint the source of her bowel explosions.  Pancreatitis was the diagnosis.  The cost: roughly 4 months of Lukas' daycare tuition.  Or two mortgage payments.  Or the entire principal amount of our smallest student loan.  Or a year's worth of our car payments.  Or a nice vacation.  You get the point.  But she's part of our family, so there was really no option.  We had to do everything to make sure she didn't die.  Because the first vet was pretty sure that's where we were headed.  Luckily, thousands of dollars later and modern veterinary medicine, our girl is fine and back to her normal self.
 
But apparently the cat was feeling left our.  She must've been jealous of Wrigley's time at the vet.  So beginning last Monday she went on a litter box strike.  Leaving little presents in the living room and urinating in the corner of Lukas room. It's awesome.  Really.  So she got her way and off to the vet we went.  $219 later I was told that she might have a UTI.  She might be in pain from a tooth cavity that will need to be removed at some point.  She could just be mad about something.  Or she is depressed and kitty Prozac might help.  A-mazing.
 
I asked the vet if we got a two for one special on the Prozac, because I'm gonna need some if this continues.
 
He laughed.
 
He thought I was joking.
 
I wasn't.
 
 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TTT - No. Seriously! Stop.

With the warm weather we've been experiencing in Georgia over the past few weeks, Lukas and I are enjoying more time outdoors.  Many days he'll run up to the front door, stand up on his tippy toes and try to reach the handle.  Finally he looks at me and makes his intentions known.  So we go outside.
 
We are in the process of re-doing our backyard and Mr. Cob has sprayed round-up the past three weekends, so our backyard isn't kid-friendly at this time.  Instead we end up in our front yard, which has some grass, but Lukas doesn't seem to have any desire to play on the grass.  He is more interested in walking up and down the sidewalk.
 
He's pretty good about holding on to my hand and listening to me when it's time to turn around and go the other way.  But we are having a problem with teaching him not to walk out into the road.  I don't know if I'm expecting too much from an almost 17 month old, but he understands when I say NO (as evidenced by his look of sadness and instant crying upon hearing me say No to him), so I figure it can't be too early to teach him that he can't walk into the road.
 
I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing, but I'm trying to be consistent with my approach.  If he starts walking towards the road, I sternly say NO and stop him.  I then crouch down so I'm on his level and explain that the road is not safe and we can't go onto the road.  I give him a hug, tell him I love him and then I let go of him.  If he goes for the road again, I rinse and repeat (stop him, firmly say no with a serious face, repeat my schpeel about the road, hug, love, go).  Then I tell him we're going inside if he goes for the road again.  And when he goes for the road again, I say no, etc. and then I follow through on my promise of going inside.
 
He cries and is upset that I'm taking him inside, but I'm hoping that my actions will teach him that he needs to listen and not do things that are unsafe.  I have no idea if it's effective or if he's too young.
 
But in trying to teach him about safety, I'm realizing that the word "no" can be very powerful, and I do think it has its place when teaching our children.  But I also think I need to be careful about using the word No, because I'm now sensing that it can lose its gusto if I overuse it in non-serious/dangerous settings.  I want Lukas to know that when I say No to him, I mean it and that I'm stopping him from doing something that is potentially harmful or dangerous to him. 
 
I'm curious how other parents are teaching their kiddos about outdoor safety and safety in general.  Do you use the word no?  Do you think "punishing" a 17 month old by bringing him inside when he doesn't listen to me is too harsh?  Is it ineffective?  Any advice or things you've found that have worked?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Clearly a Bad Idea


I thought L could handle some yogurt on the go.

Nope.  He can't.

I feel bad for the car seat, really.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Week 4 - what!

So I'm still not eating meat.  Well, not regularly.  In the past three weeks I have eaten meat exactly two times.  Once was last Saturday at a friend's BBQ.  I was eating the corn salad someone had made and didn't realize until about five bites in that the delicious flavor in the background was bacon.  I kept eating it even after this realization.  And I went back for seconds.

And Friday night my mom made one of her famous homemade Italian sausage pizzas.  I asked her to leave me a cheese slice.  But one slice of her pizza is not enough, so I had a second slice that was topped with Italian (turkey) sausage.  I had another slice Saturday for lunch.  There are some things that just taste better with some meat.  This is why I can never become a full-fledged vegetarian.

So I haven't gone out of my way to eat meat.  In fact, I've gone out of my way to not eat meat.  And I realized this week that eating a vegetarian diet does not necessarily mean a healthy diet.  Especially when eat out at restaurants.

Between our puppy being sick last week and Mr. Cob's sister visiting, we ate dinner out three nights last week.  The first restaurant (Big Tex in Decatur) left me with few vegetarian options: a portobello burger (I hate portobello mushrooms so that was out), a grilled pimento cheese sandwich on Texas Toast or a salad.  I opted for the pimento cheese, which was tasty, but I could feel my arteries clogging with each bite.  So much so that I ran five miles on the treadmill that night.

The next restaurant (The Marlay House) had more veggie options and I went with the Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Granny Smith apples, walnuts and red wine vinaigrette.  It was a bit disappointing and I can't pinpoint why, but I won't be ordering it again.  I did get a side of the garlic rosemary roasted butternut squash which was AMAZING.

The last night of eating out (The Pullman) I ordered a fried green tomato sandwich on focaccia bread.  It was good but felt equally as unhealthy as the pimento cheese.

So from a health standpoint, I don't think eating vegetarian is necessarily the way to go when dining out.  Or maybe the restaurants we picked aren't the healthiest of places in general.  I do think when I'm cooking at home, vegetarian is the way to go for me.

And I keep finding amazing vegetarian recipes.  For lunch today I made this grilled focaccia panini sandwich - it was one of the best things I've ever eaten.  Seriously.  This was another Pinterest find.  You can check out the original recipe, but the short version is this:

Cut focaccia bread in half (we used the cheese flat bread from Costco)
Spread each side with pesto.
Layer of mozzarella.
Layer of thin sliced tomato.
Salt.
Pepper.
Layer of sliced red onion.
Fresh chopped basil.
Layer of avocado slices.
Put bread on top.
Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, flipping half way.
Or use grill.  Or panini press.
Enjoy.
Wish you'd doubled the recipe.