Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TTT - Play

Today's tip is a simple one.  But one that I think we need to be reminded of often, especially with leading such busy lives.  It can be easy to get caught up in the day to day stresses of life and work and getting dinner on the table and picking up the toys around the house.

Don't forget to take time to play.  Sing silly songs (and shake the sillies out).  Run around in the rain.  Jump on the bed.  Make animal sounds with your 2 year old.

Tonight, we left the dinner plates on the table, the bags from our trip unpacked and the mail unopened.  Instead, we played together and sang Old McDonald while Lukas danced and jumped on the bed.

I smiled and laughed more than I have all day.  I hope this video makes you smile and reminds you to take time out to simply play.

Michigan Getaway

We've been in Michigan the past four days visiting Mr. Cob's family. It was a great trip. Relaxing. Recharging. Much needed.

A few pictures from the lake...

Monday, July 30, 2012

You’re Not Alone: Trying to Do It All

My new post on DrZ is up!  Please check it out and leave a comment, like, and/or share!  Being a working mom is not an easy gig!  Enjoy!

You’re Not Alone: Trying to Do It All

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Serious Stuff Aside

If my blog had any sort of theme then this post would make no sense.  But it's not that sort of blog.  So I'm going to not talk about depression or Lukas or being a laywer or my mom-life or anything of any sort of substance for a second.  Because I have some breaking news to share.  Seriously, it's big.

Do you want to guess?

Go ahead, I'll wait.

I bet you didn't guess.

No, I'm not knocked up.

No, I am not the Weakest Link.

Ok, are you ready?

Here it is:  I have not washed my hair the last two days.  Today is day 3 of unwashed hair.

And yes, this is news.

I'm a wash your hair every day sort of girl. It is painfully obvious if I skip a day.

Or it was.

Until I found Suave Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo.  A.mazing.  Seriously.  Go buy it.  You'll love it.  You'll be able to get ready for work in half the time without having to blow dry your hair every day.  Which is huge if you're trying to get a toddler dressed and ready for school or handling a little problem like your A/C backing up and stealthily seeping water down your walls.

Oh yeah, that.  Our A/C had a little hiccup.  Our house now sounds like a wind tunnel and is housing 5 industrial sized fans, two dehumidifiers and is missing part of the laundry room floor and door frame.  Thank goodness for homeowners insurance.

And dry shampoo.

Some days it's the little things.

And let's be honest.  I was glad to have the antidepressant prescription today too.

Dry shampoo and zoloft.  A winning combination for life's curveballs.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TTT - Toddler Eating

A friend recently wrote me an email asking about kid-friendly food advice.  Her email was something to the effect of: So my kiddo is starting to eat more and more table food, and I am tired of making the same old thing for dinner each night.  Do you have anything that you make for Lukas that you freeze or make on Sunday and have for the week?  Anything that he really likes?  Could I have the recipe? 

Great question.  And one I don't have a great answer for in my actual life, but I do have some thoughts on what I would do if I were doing everything I thought of doing.  Do you follow?  If not, keep reading. (And if you followed that then welcome to my world!)

So my typical evening goes something like this:

5pm leave work
5:15ish get to daycare
5:30ish leave daycare
6ish arrive home
6:30ish Mr. Cob arrives home
7:45/8 Lukas to bed
8:01 at the latest, full glass of wine in my hand

Lukas gets fed somewhere between the time we arrive home and the time he goes to bed.  This is helpful to you not at all, I know.  (Bear with me. I hope to have a tip in here somewhere.) Mr. Cob and I eat either with him (but usually not) or after he goes to bed.  I'd love it if we all always ate together, but we don't.  It is what it is.  If we are all eating together, I usually throw dinner together while Lukas reads books or plays with his dinosaurs, trains or a puzzle.  I attempt to keep the TV watching to the weekends.  He is old enough now to entertain himself for the 10 minutes it takes me to throw a meal togehter.  So if something takes longer than 10 minutes prep time, I tend to not make it.

So that's the when.  But I think the question was more tailored to the what.

With toddler picky eat habits starting early, Lukas' likes and dislikes seem to change daily.  So I don't worry too much about what he's eating or how well rounded his diet is.  I focus more on making sure he is eating something decent by not giving him the option of any "bad" food.  I don't cook fried food or offer him sugary treats at night.  I offer him at least one fruit or veggie with every meal and hope for the best. I also always give Lukas at least one thing on his plate that I know he will eat.  For a while I thought I needed to give him real meals - you know, meatloaf or tacos or lasagna, but I let that go rather quickly because he hardly ever eats my "hard-cooked meals" and I realized that he's just as content to eat a banana, some black beans, string cheese and peas.  He eats really odd combinations of food, but he seems to like it.

Last night, for example, he ate nearly a cup of cut up strawberries, some bread, corn and one bite of turkey burger. 

If I have made dinner and it's ready when it's time for Lukas to eat, I give him a little bit of what we are eating and try to convince him to try it.  This doesn't always work.  What typically does work for us is to "cheers" food with him (strange, but effective).  (Imagine clinking wine glasses in a toast, we toast with food and "then we eat" and yes, we say it aloud).

As far as recipes go, I keep it pretty simple if I am cooking something for Lukas.  Here are some meals I'll make for him:

  • Quesadillas (cheese or chicken) with a side of black beans.
  • English muffin pizzas - you can hide some veggies under the cheese!
  • Grilled cheese with a side of grapes and peas.
  • Rolled deli turkey, slices of cheese and bread with cut up fruit (and yes, one would think that is just a turkey and cheese sandwich, but my little guy likes his sandwich deconstructed, so I skip the step of actually constructing it).
  • Mac n cheese made with pureed sweet butternut squash (see Jessica Seinfeld's book on sneaking veggies into your kids meals).
  • Breakfast for dinner - scrambled eggs (can add pureed cauliflower) and cheese, with bacon and pancakes made with pureed sweet potatoes and a side of fruit.
  • Spaghetti and meatballs - you can cut up veggies into the sauce.
  • Don't underestimate a good ole PB&J.
  • Cheese and spinach or meat tortellinis with tomato sauce.

I try to plan out our meals for the upcoming week every Sunday and then we do our grocery shopping as a family Sunday afternoons or evening.  That way we have food on hand in the house, which really can make or break any good intentions I have for eating in.  In the winter I'm a fan of the crock pot and I also keep a few prepared meals from Trader Joe's on hand in the freezer as a last resort.  Though we tend to go out to eat or pick up takeout before turning to the freezer.  I'd say we eat out 1-2 times per week because we just can't get our act together at the end of the work day.  Maybe sad, but true.

I hope this is helpful!  What do you feed your little ones for dinner?  Do you eat dinner as a family?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Therapy Has Been Good

I need to say a big thank you to my amazing readers, friends and family.  I didn't give y'all enough credit.  I thought I would be judged for admitting the truth about my struggles and for the course of action I'm taking to deal.  But I should've known that there would be no judgement.  The response to my last post was only that of love.  And understanding.

I was honestly shocked by the emails, texts and messages I received.  As it would turn out, I'm not alone in this.  Some of my friends who I have always thought had it "totally together" admitted to struggling with anxiety or depression, or both.  Others shared that they too were taking antidepressants.  And yet others shared the fact that they were in therapy and wished me well in my own.  This outpouring of support has been amazing.  So thank you to all of you who have shared your own honest, personal stories with me.  It means more than I can tell you.

I've had some insightful conversations over the past week that have truly helped me put things in perspective.   Some with friends.  Others with my fantastic therapist.  I realized that while I have always thought myself to be very open and honest on this blog, I tend to put a positive spin when writing about whatever it is I'm going through.  Perhaps without even realizing I was doing it.  I try to find the happy in everything.  I do believe happiness is a choice and most of the time I choose to be joyful and see the glass half full.  Or my writing portrays that.  I think in a way I've wanted to believe I could do it all with a smile on my face.  I wanted to hide the struggle and the questioning.  I wanted to give others hope that they could do it too.  I was putting pressure on myself to have it all together.  And that's just not what was going on.

The past few months have been a perfect storm of "too much" in my little life.  I stopped nursing Lukas, which alone was a highly emotional experience for me.  Mix in the change in hormones.  Add on extreme pressure at work, being at least 2 men down on our team for a few months, and my busiest month of billing in five years.  Throw in worry about my mom being sick (she's fine, we've thankfully just learned) and her and my dad going away on an extended trip.  A good mom-friend moved away.  All combined with feeling like I wasn't spending enough time with Lukas or my husband and never catching up on the laundry, the grocery shopping, phone calls with friends or partaking in my favorite hobby (writing).  The result was just an emotional meltdown.

I am thankful that the antidepressant worked so quickly.  I am thankful it was there to get me over the hump. I wish I hadn't waited so long to call my doctor to get the prescription.  I wish I had listened to my girlfriends when they urged me to call my OB.  Next time I will know not to wait so long.  Next time I won't allow myself to feel "defeated" for not being able to handle my mental health on my own.  Modern medicine is a gift and sometimes it is needed.  This time, in this instance, it was totally needed.

I'm starting to feel more like myself again.  I hope/think my post-weaning hormones are getting back to normal.  I no longer feel an immediate urgency to change something in my life.  My need to make a rash life shift has gone away.  Thankfully I didn't act on my swinging emotions without giving myself time to figure out what I really want.  I'm not sure what that is yet.  But I'm going to keep trying to figure it out.

In the meantime I'm going to give myself a break.  I'm going to take off all the pressure and just roll with life and see where we go.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Post that Vanished

So, some of you may have seen the below post on Tuesday of this week.  It was up for a few hours and then was mysteriously taken down.  And by mysteriously taken down, I mean I removed it.  I posted it without thinking too much about the consequences and about the fact that I was doing the one thing I try not to do: announce/elude to something on the blog before I've told my family and close friends.  So I wanted to take down the post and at the very least,talk to my mom.  Turns out she saw the post in the two hours it was up.  And the post wasn't even news to her - as I should've known, even across the country in California, she's known something has been going on with me.  Then after I removed the post, something didn't feel right.  I felt like I was hiding by choosing to stop writing, and that's not what I'm about.   In the event that other women are going through something similar, I've decided to keep writing and to open up about what's going on.  But before that, the vanished post:

TTT: Know Your Limits

This post is framed as a tip so that I don't miss a Toddler Tips Tuesday post.  But it's more of an admission and an explanation.

The truth is that I am overextended right now. 

Everything feels like "too much" and something has got to give.  Right now, the thing to give is going to be this blog. 

I love writing and I love sharing my parenting journey with all of you, but lately it is feeling like yet another obligation and a burden. 

I try to be as genuine as possible on this blog and I haven't been totally forthcoming lately, so rather than continue to pretend everything is sunshine and rainbows, I'm going to stop writing publicly on the blog for a while.  The post-weaning depression did not go away on it's own.  It got worse.  So I'm sure that has something to do with my overwhelmed feelings of late.  But I'm not prepared to share that personal aspect of my life just yet. I'm dealing with it and I hope to talk about that at some point, just not right now.

I'm continuing again to struggle with the pulls of being a mom and wife and lawyer.  So for the time being, rather than put extra energy into keeping up this blog, I'm going to focus on my family and try to figure some things out.  And I think I need to sort these things out privately, rather than in a public venue, regardless of how few people read this blog.

So thank you for following over the past few years.  I plan on writing again and picking this blog back up, I'm just not sure when that will be.  It could be next week, or it could be in a year.  At this point, I'm not sure.

So, let me explain.  The biggest things has been the fact that the post-weaning depression was real and really did not go away.  Here's the post I wrote a few weeks ago, but chickened out rather than posting:

Weaning Depression: Full Disclosure

So I have been debating whether or not to write this post. My general rule is not to post anything on the blog that could cause a phone call from my mom or close friends asking me something along the lines of "why did I learn about this from your blog?". This post will cause those phone calls. If you're reading this and you don't know about this yet, I'm sorry. I just haven't been up for talking about it.

The sadness, despair and tears after weaning didn't stop. Four weeks later, they were still there. It all came to a head last week. I couldn't stop crying at work. As in, had the door shut all day and just sobbed at my desk. Nothing was wrong, yet I couldn't stop crying. Everything seemed horrible and amplified. I called Mr. Cob at one point and cried to him and said that I just couldn't do it anymore. Everything was too hard. Work was too much and I just felt like I was failing. He told me to call the doctor. I promised I would, but was lying. Luckily, my phone rang shortly thereafter. A woman I consider my mentor called me and asked how I was doing. I said fine and she said "you don't sound fine." And the flood gates opened. And I told her how I just felt like I was constantly on the verge of a panic attack. How I was sobbing for no reason. How it just felt like too much. And she said she understood and that she'd had similar issues after weaning. And she convinced me to hang up the phone and call my doctor. Like, right now. So I did. I called my OB and talked to the nurse and explained what was going on. She talked to the doctor and then called me back saying the doctor was calling me in a prescription for an anti-anxiety/anti-depressant. And she gave me the name of a few therapists.

So I filled the prescription and have been taking it for a week. I was more depressed and sad the first two days. Part of me felt completely defeated for not being able to deal with this on my own. A part of me worried what my family and friends would think. A part of me worried it wouldn't help.

Day 3 I woke up feeling better. I haven't cried uncontrollably for no reason. I haven't had the horrible anxiety. I haven't felt lost or sad. I finally am starting to feel like me again.

And tomorrow morning I go to see a therapist. As a wise woman recently told me, a little therapy is good for everyone.

I don't want to take medicine for a long time, but I was to the point of struggling to function at work and get through my day. So I'm glad I called the doctor. I'm trying not to feel embarrassed. But for some reason I am. Even writing this post, I question whether I'll actually post it for the world. Actually, it's not the world I'm concerned about. It's those I'm close to.

So for now, the truth is that I am taking an antidepressant and I'm seeing a therapist.  These are big, personal things that I have very mixed emotions about.  But if I'm going to keep writing this blog, then I must keep being honest and right now, Zoloft and therapy are my truth.  Thankfully, they are also working.  More on that soon....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TTT - Water Babies

Cob here. Mrs. Swan’s month of insanity continues and so continues my ongoing series of shameless humblebrags cleverly disguised as tips. (Mom, just google humblebrag). It's summer time and you know what that means, its time to officially give up on the Cubs. Oh, and swimming, yes that’s my point swimming.

As Mrs. Cobb reminds me anytime I take a bath, I am not a strong swimmer. I don’t know why. My parents had me in swim lessons at 6 months old. You see my family has a lake house and my dad’s theory, and it isn’t a bad one mind you, was that if that kid falls in the water, we need to make sure he doesn’t sink like a stone – I need five or six seconds to jump in after him.

So though I am decidedly unstone-like (too much hair) I am not a good swimmer. I recall being in swim lessons and my younger siblings usually started at a higher level than and definitely finished all 12 levels, by the time I was even allowed me into the deep end of the pool. Talk about embarrassing. But let me should clarify. Though I am not a good swimmer, I love diving in the water and swimming around. I just get really tired, really fast, probably because I am doing it all wrong.

Mrs. Swan, was a fantastic competitive swimmer growing up. If she hadn’t torn her rotator cuff her senior year, she might have even given swimming a go in college. She is what we call a strong swimmer; I call her a show off. Nonetheless swimming and playing in the water is part of some of our fondest childhood memories. We want the same for Lukas.

So it is important to us that Lukas is at least comfortable in the water. Personally I hope he takes after Mrs. Swan in terms of ability, though both of us aren’t sure if we want him to be doing the whole swim team at 4am thing. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

So this summer’s mission is comfort. Two reasons. First, the water is a ton of fun, but sometimes kids get quite scared of it. Second, and more importantly, our family vacations involve the water, and I don’t see that changing for quite some time. With Mrs. Swan’s parents we typically go to the beach. With my parents it is the lake house, where Pop-Pop is constantly muttering about kids who sink like stones.

Our plan to make Lukas comfortable is going well, some might say swimmingly. (Yeah, roll your eyes. Whatever, you’re just jealous.) On Saturday, at grandma’s pool he tried to just walk down the steps into the water while we were still putting our bags down. It seems he is comfortable. Quite a difference, at the beginning of the summer he was very nervous around the pool.

The plan all started with running through the sprinkler. Lukas has water days at school every Thursday and while he was hesitant the first water day, seeing other kids run through it apparently told him that it was all right. He now goes nuts in the sprinkler and at the splashpark in the Old Fourth Ward of Atlanta. (If you are in ATL, check it out, it is just off North Ave., near the Masquerade. Pretty awesome).

So the sprinklers got him used to water and splashing, but it took some silliness to get him to actually enjoy going in the water with us. Initially Lukas did not like simply being held in the middle of the pool, swimming in our arms. He would get close to throwing a fit if you tried to take him off the steps at the side of the pool. We overcame that by me throwing him. No, not like that. Lukas loves to be thrown in the air and caught. I started doing this in the water and simply catching him as he meets the water. This got him used to water splashing on him and to submerging a bit into the water. Here is a tip though, make sure the kid is wearing a water shirt. I tried throwing him when he had no shirt on and catching him was darn near impossible. Apparently toddlers are very slippery.

So, he stands in shallow water, he will get thrown in the air, he tolerates swimming around in the middle of the pool with mama and dada. The last thing was going underwater. It had already happened once or twice, and it wasn’t even my fault – he usually fell over in a baby pool and went under – but it would really scare him. It would scare us too. Mrs. Swan and I had read that you should blow in his face and then just dunk him: apparently blowing in his face makes him hold his breathe. That system is all well and good, but the face blow/dunk method doesn’t give the kid much choice and at the end of the day, we weren’t convinced it was making him all that comfortable going underwater.

The solution was discovered by accident and like most of my parent breakthroughs it came about because I am a silly, silly man. I was holding Lukas and I dunked my own head, came up blowing water out my mouth and growling. He thought it was hysterical and starting point at the water saying “Dada… Dada! More… more!” So I kept dunking my head for about two minutes. I then was tired. And then it happened. He started bending his face to the water and dipping his face in. The game then became Dada tries, then Lukas tries. I am pleased to report that Lukas has since fallen over in baby pools and gone under, but he now comes up laughing, having held his breath the whole time. Success? Kind of.

One problem. When I taught him to dunk his face I would do an exaggerated inhalation. You know mouth open, audibly sucking in air. And I wouldn’t close my mouth until I started to tilt my head down. So of course, having never seen me close my mouth, Lukas started to hold his mouth open and stick his face in the water, with his mouth still open. For those of you scoring at home, this is not what we were trying to teach him. This is in fact the opposite of what we were going for. So, the new technique is to inhale, puff cheeks like some sort of chipmunk and then dunk our head. He has caught on, and is no longer trying to drink the pool.

So, is Lukas a fish? No, he is a little boy. Does he like to swim? I think so. Most importantly for us, he seems to not panic anymore if he ends up underwater. I suppose the take away point I got from all of this is that if you can make something that is scary, like going underwater, seem silly, even fun, it goes a long way to getting your child to see there is nothing to be scared of. So be a goofball.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TTT- Stay in Touch

Cob here.  I was initially concerned about my idea for this week's toddler tip since it is about Skype and I thought that if you are reading an online blog, odds are you know all about Skype.  However, I learned that Swans are Nesting has a significant number of print subscribers.  Apparently, Mrs. Swan has hired a number of paperboys in select cities who hand deliver her posts.  On days when Mrs. Swan has a couple of ideas (or drinks) in her, these paperboys need to leave class and Mrs. Swan provides them with a forged note from their parents.  Suffice to say, it turns out that there are many of you who will be reading this who have not heard of Skype.  It also turns out that many of those same people don't know what a computer is, but maybe my description of Skype will encourage you to finally give in and purchase an Interweb Box Machine (IBM).1

                Skype is a free program that you can download off the web (just google or Bing! It) that permits you to make video phone calls to anyone else who has Skype.  All you need to do is download the program, set up an account and you are good to go.  Wait… you also need a camera...  and a computer, print subscribers.  Also, the other person needs a Skype set up.

That's right.  The future has arrived.  Every movie about the future featured video phone calls, like Back to the Future (fun!) and 1984 (bad!).  My experience with Skype has been more like Back to the Future than 1984 and it is great for our family.  My parents are in Chicago, so they do not get to see Lukas very much.  So are my brother and sister.  My brother in law (Mrs. Swan's brother if you are scoring at home) is in California, along with our nephew STU! (that's how Luke says it).  The ability for them to see Lukas and for Lukas to see them routinely is invaluable.  No, it is not the same as seeing him in person, but anyone who asks my parents, or STU!, would say it is definitely worth it.

If you think your family members might be reluctant or if they are not good with computers ("The internet is a series of tubes!") you can kind of force Skype on them, assuming they already have a computer. Newegg.comAmazon.com, and even Best Buy have deals on webcams, and sometimes you can get a set of two or three, so you can pick up cameras for everyone you care about and want to Skype with.  That is what we did with my parents (though they are more computer savvy than most); we bought a two pack of cameras and gave one to them for Christmas. 

Now those of you who already know about Skype have probably fallen asleep by this point.  To some of you, this is yesterday's news.  However, I do have some tips and uses for Skype that I would like to share with you.  First, if you are buying a new laptop, and can afford the laptop with the built in camera, do it.  Here's why.  Sometimes Lukas wants to show Nana and Pop-Pop a new toy in his room, he will sprint from the living room, where we are talking, to his room.  He will not wait for the computer set up to be moved.  With a built in webcam – you can chase him to his room, doing your best to keep him on camera.  Also, when you get to his room, you can simply put the computer down and continue recording; with an separately plugged in webcam the process is a bit more difficult.

Second, having family and friends on the computer can help you get stuff done around the house.  No, you can't turn on the Skype and go wash your car, or paint the fence, but hear me out.  Sometimes, when I have to make dinner and Mrs. Swan is working late or out with friends, it sure helps to have Nana and Pop-Pop available to talk and entertain Luke.  He loves it when Nana sings itsby bitsy spider, and let's be honest, the hand gestures (brought to you by Skype) make that song.  It's a little light on plot – SPOILER ALERT – he goes up the spout again.  Many times that song, or the wheels on the bus (much richer plot, IMO), buys me some time to make his dinner.  Also, Lukas is particularly cute at dinner, offering Nana and Pop-Pop (that is, the computer screen) bites of olives or strawberries and basically showing off by how well he can spoon yogurt onto his shirt.  So I don't think I am out of line in saying that Nana and Pop-Pop like babysitting a little bit while I am making dinner.

If you live more than a few hours from grandpa and grandma, Skype can really help share the magic moments of your life with those you wish could be there with you. So consider this post my ringing endorsement of Skype.  In the words of Chicago legend Ferris Bueller "[Skype], it is so choice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

[1]  Full Disclosure:  Most, if not all, of this first paragraph is a lie.  You're welcome!