Why swim lessons were one of the smartest things I did for my baby this winter

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Before winter set in I had a plan set up to make sure we got our butts out of the house and didn’t just wander Target for hours.  I researched a few places and decided that I would stick not just my baby but myself in swim lessons.  I can swim but she can’t so it becomes a mommy and me thing.  We are on our third session and let me tell you, I freakin love it.  Truly.

Every Friday I load us and our gear in the truck and head into the city for our 30 minutes class.  We chose a place that starts babies as young as 4 months old.  Our class holds up to 7 babies and their mammas.  The locker room is hot as hell but at least your little one doesn’t freeze to death and the pool is kept warmer than your average.  So the worry I had about dunking my kid around in the cold rooms and water after being outside in the cold is not that much of an issue.

The other moms are all really great and very laid back.  Our teacher is a college student who not only knows her shit but my kid will go to her.  If you have read long enough, you know my child doesn’t go to anyone so this is huge! Cora willingly takes her turn with her to practice jumps and to go down the slide.

Before we started, I remember thinking this was probably going to be pointless considering her age but I could not have been more wrong.  We have had some of the same friends in our class since we started and I have seen progress with each and every one of them.  Cora can climb out of the pool on her own, knows how to sit on the side, jump in, go down the slide by herself, knows to hold her breath under water, knows how to blow bubbles, isn’t afraid to be dunked, and last week, for the first time she did her back float by herself. She has such a comfort level in the water that I know it took me forever to gain as a child.

It took me awhile to realize that this isn’t just something to fill our time but something that she will carry with her for the rest of her life.  It is about safety in the long run as well. I’m here to tell you that if you are on the fence about it, do it.  But mamma, you have to shave those legs and keep the bikini line clear for the entire winter because it is always swim suit season when you have to get in the pool as well!

 

 

 

How many kids do you have?

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Yesterday I took Cora to the park and a mother pulled up shortly there after.  Her 8 year old son jumped out, she left the car running and soon followed him.  Eventually Cora realized there was a big kid to follow around and the mother and I started chatting.  She asked how old Cora is, mentioning her 14 year old daughter was sitting in the car.  The daughter, deciding she is to old for such things, would rather sit on her phone.  The mother saying how frustrating it can be and how much she misses the age Cora is now.  How the time flies.

Is Cora your only child?

Pause.

This should be an easy question but it never has been for me.  In the past when it was just Rebecca and I, I would pause.  I would pause because my journey of parenthood isn’t relatable.  Parents ask normal follow up questions that I can’t simply answer without them becoming curious or asking further questions and what was supposed to be mindless chatter then becomes something further.

Here I was, standing with another mother, who had a same age child and we should have been able to share conversation.  She couldn’t relate to me though. I glanced at her daughter sitting in the car and wanted to say “At least she isn’t pregnant.” But instead I glanced away and said “Yes, Cora is my only child.”

It has always been an odd questions for me to answer and part of me feels guilty for just saying this is my only child, digging in the sand.  I’ve lost one little girl to heaven early, I’ve lost another to strange life circumstances and yes, this is my one little.  This mother didn’t care about my motherhood journey though.  She was just making small talk, as our children played, on a beautiful Monday afternoon.

We all have our own parenting struggles, our own journey.  Hell, maybe this mom had one of her own but glossed over it just as I had. Good thing we don’t have our life stories stamped on our foreheads.  There are a million ways motherhood can be tough, this is just one of mine.

Preschool debate

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My sister came home last night and a discussion was started about Kindergarten and what kids will need to know by the end of the school year. She happens to be a preschool Montessori teacher and was commenting on one of her kids going on to a mainstream, public Kindergarten.  The parents expressed concern over what is expected of their child next year and how it compares or does not compare to the type of schooling he has received so far.

I am a bit appalled at the long list of things these kids are required to know before even entering kindergarten.  All of the rules and stipulations.  What happened to simple socialization and learning the basics from a teacher?  All for parents to complain about all of the volunteering and money dumped into it? What happened to kids playing, learning to share, and learning from one another?  When did it become a thing that a kid has to exit kindergarten knowing how to write a novel and have basic algebra down?  Okay, maybe I’m being drastic but hear me out.

My sister and I have had several conversations before about public schools versus Montessori teaching and other methods. I can tell you from mother to teacher there are a lot of things we don’t agree on.  Slowly I have come to realize that my husband and I are really going to have to start sorting out our feelings on an education direction with our little one.  Quite frankly I find it to be a bit overwhelming on what to do for those first few years.

It’s not that I’m even worried about her keeping up in school.  Our pediatrician has had conversations with us about Cora being a few steps ahead of the curve for her age. Our doctor has just suggested we keep up not with her age but with where she is developmentally.  So if she needs to do things a 24 month old does instead of her 18 month age, then do that.  So we do that.  But does that mean we put her in the early preschools that start as soon as 2 years of age?  And what does she gain out of it that I can’t just do for her at home?  OR why the heck do I even need to do preschool?  Again, why can’t we continue our learning and socialization at home and with her part-time daycare till its time for kindergarten?  Why are parents so hell bent on preschool?

Don’t even get me started on the discussions I have had with my public school teacher friends.  I get why people start homeschooling.

I guess it comes down to this for me.  I’m not ready for the world of schooling yet.  Your kid is only little so long and only at home for so long before they go out into the big world.  Hell, my own mother kept my brother back one extra year because she wasn’t ready to send her baby to preschool.  I’m not so sure what the hurry is and what preschool offers my kid that I can’t provide in the real, everyday world.  It seems childhood gets shortened a little more with each generation and I want her to enjoy it as much as possible.  Once she starts school, that is it.  It is the same as becoming an adult and getting your first job, exciting day one but then you realize that is it, there is no going back.

I honestly didn’t think I would have so many all over the board feelings about this.  I honestly thought I would send my kid to preschool when the time was appropriate and get on with it.

So what are your thoughts and experiences?

Easter Weekend

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We don’t normally go into Easter weekend with any grand ideas or plans.  Our childhood family traditions have died away and we tend to just wing it each year.  Even my Catholic self has let go of the pressure of going to mass.  I don’t go any other Sunday, why fake it?  I’m fine with it all to be honest.  The normal holiday season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc) is stuffed full of tradition, a million plans and commitments and each year it gets more difficult.  Easter has this way of sneaking up on us and being a bit more relaxed.

For the first time in several weekends, my husband was around for the whole weekend.  The weather looked to be warm and perfect.  The only plans we had were for my in-laws to come to dinner on Sunday.  Friday night I let Cora sit in her high chair and dye eggs.  I didn’t care about the mess or doing anything perfect.  We dunked her in the tub when she was done and put her to bed.  Cracked but colorful eggs drying on the counter.

We found ourselves, with Cora, lazily running errands on Saturday.  No hurry, no rush, no excitement.  A lazy lunch, letting her run crazy at Babies R Us to pick out new stuff, a trip to Home Depot where we bought everything we didn’t plan on and we let other families rush around us at Target while we picked out our own dinner items I had yet to really plan for.

Sunday morning, there was no rush for much of anything.  In fact, Cora was still asleep at 8:30, which has never happened. It caused the hubs to go in and wake her up because he started worrying.  The mamma in me knew better than to wake a sleeping child so I just sat and enjoyed my coffee.  Cora finally came out and played with the little Easter basket of goodies we put together for her.  We pulled on clothes and headed out in the beautiful morning to plant the trees we bought on a whim the day before.  We taught Cora how to dig up the earth, hold slimy worms and put it all back just a little bit better than how we started.  Five new trees now lined our backyard and I felt a bit closer to God in that moment than I think I would have in church.

I made the full meal of ham, potato’s, corn….etc. We sat with the in-laws, drank wine, cleaned up, let the baby run and collect eggs scattered in the yard. She napped, we sat in the sun, we invited friends over, we sat around the fire-pit, we watched the sun go down, put the baby to bed, poured more wine, laughed and enjoyed the evening.

It was an unplanned weekend with zero expectations but it became the holiday weekend full of memories that I can never replace.  I’m learning more and more that if I just let go of that need to create perfection, it will just find me.  I can do that quite often but I do struggle around any holiday, especially since having Cora.  I want her to have the memories that I hold dear from my own childhood.  But traditions and memories can’t always be forced, some times they just have to happen.

I can tell you, this weekend, I often took a step back and really looked at my life.  The safety of our home, a great husband, a healthy kiddo, and a kick ass dog.  I saw it in those moments when I stood with my husband, outside, and watched a huge storm roll in through the night sky.  I saw it when my daughter ran between us, and explored all the landscaping at Home Depot.  I saw it as friends popped in for a drink and a sit down around the fire as the stars exploded around us.  It is during those little moments of life that we truly live and I’m so grateful for it.

I hope you all had a great Easter weekend!

Living safely versus living bigger

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My husband came home last night and looked defeated.  We sat and discussed what was going on with his job.  The issues that have come up.  A normal ebb and flow to a  company but sometimes it wears you down and this is what is happening to him.  He is loyal to his boss but at what point do take a leap for yourself?

We are finally at this place in our life where things are good.  Settled.  Calm.  We have a nice home, a good marriage, a healthy baby, a house full of love and laughter, supportive family, our bills get paid each month, we vacation a bit each year and we each have job security.  We don’t have much to complain about honestly and are very grateful to be at this place in our life.

So as I looked at him last night I thought about what it meant to be comfortable and living versus getting out of our comfort zone and living greater.  I’m not saying going sky-diving or moving to India but what is next for us?  Are we the type that are totally fine just coasting now or are we ready for our next adventure?

We have been moving fast since the day we met and we made this decision to slow down once we had Cora.  We wanted to enjoy this time with her but the baby phase is quickly giving way to the toddler phase and we are suddenly faced with a new reality.  What does the next several years of our life look like?  What is next on our list?  His busy season at work is already starting and he never saw Cora last week during the week.  That will happen again this week.  His body slows down a little more each year from the physical demands and the grueling schedule leaves me taking care of everything else.  Do we just stay with this because it works?  Because it pays the bills?  Because he is good at it?

or…..

Well, we don’t know what the alternative is.  Over the years he has thrown around ideas for other career possibilities. We know we may or may not want another kid.  We know we want to build on more land.  We know our list of places to travel grows each day.  We know we may not stay in the Midwest for forever.  We know we want to keep things exciting instead of complacent.  We know we don’t want to miss out on something great because we have fear.  We know we don’t want to get in the habit of just getting through each week instead of living more in each day.

In the quiet of our peaceful kitchen, where I could just say leave things as they are, I told my husband to shake it up a bit if he wants.  I told him we should start thinking outside the box and if we have to take a leap of faith to do that then I feel like now is a good time to do that.

Basically we don’t feel like this is it. If that makes sense.

We feel ready for a new chapter that seems to be a blank page staring back at us.  It may not be written in the next month or even in this year but we plan on starting it.

 

My kid is a binky baby and I don’t care

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We are coming around on 17 months in this household and Cora’s two favorite things are her blankets and binkies.  Every time she falls, gets sleepy, needs a cuddle or really any moment, she needs one but prefers both.  Thankfully she isn’t attached to a specific blanket or binky but does love them all.

I wanted my child to be a binky baby.  I seriously hoped that she would not be one to hate them because I wanted the mute button, I won’t lie.  My second reason was because I was a thumb sucker. As in, I was probably 13 before I quit and my Mom tried everything to get me to quit but ultimately, you can’t take that away. A binky you can.  To my happiness Cora took to that binky the day she was born and hasn’t turned back.

I remember around the 9 month pediatrician visit, the doc was discussing getting rid of the bottle and I asked her about her thoughts on the binky.  She told us they don’t get too fussed about getting rid of the addiction till around 2.  She fully believes it helps them and parents get through the teething phase and lord knows the teething phase in our household is anything but fun.  She had a much greater concern over getting rid of the bottle by 12 months which we successfully mastered.

From there, I honestly haven’t given it a ton of thought, my girl and her addiction.  She will play without one during the day and knows they aren’t allowed at the high chair.  She does know where the binky bowl is and is magical at pulling one out of thin air.  Sometimes she likes to chew on two at once. (Teeth!)  At times, when she pops one in her mouth, she has the same look on her face that I do when I take the first sip of wine after a long day.  She certainly requires one for naps, car rides, bedtime and some soothing in between. I’m careful to keep them boiled, replaced when need be, and age/size appropriate.

I have started to have a few comments from people regarding her little attachment.  Perhaps she likes it a bit too much, perhaps we should start getting rid of it now….everyone has an opinion, horror story, advice or made up knowledge on the topic.  Then I realized I am starting to let go of a lot of this “society baby requirement” shit more than ever.  While I thought we were fairly good about letting a lot of it roll off our backs, there are some things I wasn’t as good about.  I’m currently giving zero fucks about her binky situation.  I’m not going to research it, I’m not going to worry about it…nothing.  I’m going to pop one in her mouth tonight if she screams at me, that’s what I’m going to do.

Do I want my kid to be the 3 year old talking around a binky? No.  But the girl isn’t even two yet so can the lady in the grocery store cool her shit just a notch? Just trying to keep her from burning down the house can be exhausting enough!  I figured we will start a 12 step program with her over the summer with a goal of it to be almost gone or gone by the time she turns 2 in October.

Goals I tell you.

What are your binky stories?

 

Mommy Group of 2

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I haven’t made it a secret that I’m just not in to the whole mommy group thing. Mainly because I can’t find one and my kiddo hates people.  However a friend on FB posted that she was looking to start a mommy group or needed someone to just hang out with because she is a SAHM of three kids.  Our husband’s were deployed together and they come to a lot of our parties.  The hubs and I have gone to dinner with them a few times but aside from that, the men are more friends.  However, I was all for spending some outside of the house time together to entertain our kids!  So we started a mommy group of two:)

Our first meet-up was at a kids gym and the place is genius.  Our kids didn’t play together but that’s okay.  They ran around and wore themselves down. It was nice to get out of the house on a Monday in the dead of winter.

We have since had a couple more meet-ups and I see some problems arising that I feared would. She talks.  A lot.  Which is fine, except it is about their marriage and how bad it is.  Constantly.  In front of the kids.  I mean, I should be getting paid a therapists rate.  I have tried changing the subject but other subjects have become a problem and all of this is stuff I don’t find appropriate to be said in front of kids.  I’m beginning to think she has one topic and that is anything that is filled with drama.  Can we just talk about teething for a minute instead? Because fuck teething.

Through out these meet-ups, Cora and her 2 1/2 year old are slowly playing together a bit more but we do have the problem that her daughter is a bit more drama filled and lacks some manners.  (Her mamma used these words before I did!)  You get that with any age group and it is a good learning time but if mamma isn’t using it for a teaching moment then…it becomes an issue.  Especially when my kid is getting the brunt end of the screaming, hitting, non toy sharing.

Which leads me to yesterday where I felt that neither Cora or I wanted to go hang out with them.  We just went to their house to play and she stayed glued to my lap and my ears were burning on the topics at hand.  We skipped out early and headed for Panera instead.

I feel for this woman in her marriage, I do.  We all need someone to talk with but I think there is a time and a place.  I would be much more apt to letting her vent if it were over a glass of wine without little ears present.  It seems each meet-up is going downhill a bit more and I’m wondering where and when the line should be drawn?  Or is this just normal in a mommy group of two?  I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of this mommy world stuff.

I do not always have my shit together

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I was up all night with Cora, again.

We rocked in the rocker for a couple of hours, again.

She would scream hysterically when I laid her down, again.

Teething has reared its ugly head, again.

I’m tired, again.

Recently someone asked me how I always had my shit together.  I laughed.  I don’t.

There are days I’m too exhausted to care.  I come home from work and put on last nights dirty workout clothes. Some nights it is a frozen pizza instead of whatever was planned out earlier in the week.  I run on a large latte from the drive thru in the mornings.  I snap at my husband for not hearing the hysterical screaming through the baby monitor the night before. I want to cry at my desk.  I feel guilt for being happy to drop the baby off at daycare and then miss her during the day.

I do not always have my shit together.

I wish my sister could put her water glass in the dishwasher at night.  I wish my husband would pick his pajamas up off the floor and at least toss them on the bed.  Why am I the only one to put a new Kleenex box out? I have meals to think about, lunches to pack, floors to scrub, dog food to stop and buy, a dog to walk, a workout to shove in at night for my sanity and books that pile up to read.  My Mom calls to tell me that Rebecca is having a boy. I don’t know what to do with the information so I shove it to the side like other things.

I do not always have my shit together.

I work at a job that means nothing to me but I give it 100%. I work to increase my sales, market and tend to our current customers.  I also look for new jobs occasionally in case I am missing the perfect opportunity.  I remind myself that my career is on the back burning and that was part of the deal to only working part-time.  Raising Cora comes first.  I stop looking at jobs and accept what I am doing, again.

I do not always have my shit together.

A few weeks ago my husband tells me he feels as though I do not appreciate how hard he works for this family.  I do tell him this often but in that moment he didn’t feel valued.  I had a hard time validating his feelings, I won’t lie.  He is a good Dad, a good provider, he works his ass off for us BUT then bad mornings happen and bad days happen and mamma over here is doing everything else.  And suddenly I’m having days where my shit is not together because I have a lot on my plate that a lot of other women have.  As women we are still managing a house, a family, a career, meals, oil changes, bills, babysitters and back-up babysitters, and, and, and…..a mounting list of other things.

So on the days where you feel like you don’t have your shit together, that is okay.  Remind yourself you are doing the best that you can and then support another woman.

Tomorrow I will probably have my shit back together and you will too.  Tomorrow I will get out the door on time, bags packed, house picked up, dinner set out to make when I get home, and I will be happy to see my husband walk through the door. The baby will sleep through the night, I will get in a good workout and happily go to bed.  It will feel as if my shit is back together.  It does happen.  Those days do out weigh the bad days.

As for today, I need a nap. Cheers to all the hard working women out there today.