Friday, May 30, 2014

Big, scary grad school

So I got into grad school. 

Not the education program I wanted, but instead into the liberal studies program Caleb just finished. 

And I kind of feel like I don't know what the fuck I'm doing. 

I love school, always have. I love learning and discussing ideas and becoming engaged in new material and that feeling of satisfaction that only comes from finishing final exams. I love it all. School, especially college, made me into the person I am today. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and at times to my personal limits. I was forced to grow. I had some amazing accomplishments and some huge mistakes. It was certainly never easy, but it was good for me. I came out of college more educated, self-aware, and socially conscious. 

Naturally, I've been itching to get back into the swing of school. I'm dying to have adult conversations about intellectual subjects. I want to go In depth  about subjects I'm interested in. I want to reignite my academic passions. I'm much more a person of ideas than things or actions. 

But as excited as I am and as naturally school comes to me, I am terrified of starting this program. 

I'm scared I'm not "smart" enough for this level of academic rigor. I'm scared I don't have enough time. I'm scared that I will have nothing in common with my classmates. I'm scared being a parent will make this harder for me. 

I made the mistake of Instagram creeping on some of the people I know who are , ready in the program. Where my Instagram feed is exclusively pictures of my child, theirs are filled with art and esoteric books and music and nights drinking rosé and discussing French poetry. That is NOT me or my life. I'm a full time mom. 

I fully believe that having my child gives me a more nuianced and interesting perspective on life. Being a parent makes me a more dynamic person. I have perspective now that just isn't possible without having a child. But is that perspective academically relevant? I can't help but feel unqualified for a program focusing on liberal arts when my days are filled with Sesame Street and the itsy bitsy spider. 

I suppose I'm just feeling very insecure and unsure of my place back in academia. I'm in such a different place in my life than most other 24 year olds I know. 

I know I can do this. I know I am, in fact, smart enough. I know it will be good for me. I know I will grow and learn even more. 

But I'm still pretty sure I may have an anxiety attack before my first class. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A day in the life #2

I wrote out our daily schedule back when Wilson was 4 months old. To say the least, our days are now drastically different. We have a really good routine at home and we follow this schedule every day. I'm having so much fun with Wilson right now. This almost 9 month old stage is just the best. 

8:00- Caleb leaves for work and wakes me up. I lay in bed and check email and Facebook. 

8:30- I hear Wilson wake up. He usually will play for 10 minutes and then starts yelling for me to come get him. 

9:00- While I make Wilson's bottle, he watches Sesame Street. He takes his medicine and slowly drinks his bottle while watching Sesame Street. 

9:30-10 - Play time in the living room. 

10:00- Wilson and I eat breakfast. 

10:15- He watches the last half of Daniel Tiger while I rock him to sleep. 

10:30-11:45- nap time 

12-1- Caleb comes home for lunch. Wilson eats some of whatever we have for lunch. 

1:15- Wilson has another bottle. 

1:30-2:15- play time. 

2:30-4:00- nap time. 

4:00-5:00- play time. 

5:15- Caleb gets home from work. Wilson takes a bottle and I start making dinner. Wilson and Caleb play while I cook. 

6:30- dinner time. Wilson eats vegetables and sometimes what we eat. 

7-7:30- We try to pick up and spend time together. Sometimes we go outside and play. 

7:45- Bath time. Some days he plays in the bath 30 minutes and sometimes it's only 10. It depends on his mood and how tired he is. 

8:15- Pajama time. Changing his diaper and dressing him these days is like wrangling a wild animal. It takes twice as long as it should. 

8:30- We turn the lights down and read a story. 

8:45- Wilson takes his last bottle and gets very sleepy. As soon as he finishes, I rock him and pat his back. He is usually asleep in 10 minutes. 

9-9:45- I watch tv while I rock Wilson. He seems to sleep much better if I rock him at least 30 minutes before I put him down. I don't mind one bit. 

10:00- I put Wilson down and get in bed. I get ready to do it all again the next day. 

That may seems overly scheduled, but it's really not. Wilson has lots of "free" play time and I'm not an absolute stickler for the schedule. But we are both happier the closer we stick to this. 

Also, someone asked me the other day what I do all day. And I replied that I take care of Wilson, attempt to keep the house clean, and cook. This person kind of rolled their eyes and said that there was no way a baby took up all my time. Very obviously, by what I wrote above, he does in fact take up all my time. He actually takes up more of my time and attention than he did when he was an infant. Keeping up with a crawling (and cruising, attempting to walk), learning, exploring kid is work. Exhausting, day long work. But it's also the best job I could ask for right now. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

3.5 day weekend

Friday, Caleb took off work at noon so we could drive up to Southaven for his sister's high school graduation. How the little girl I met when she was in 6th grade is now a college bound, young adult is beyond me. I can't believe how fast it seems she has grown up. It makes me feel OLD. At the ceremony, I realized that I used to baby sit the valedictorian of the class. I'm so so so old. 

The graduation didn't start until late, so Wilson got to spend the night with my parents. We were able to go eat in downtown Memphis with all of Caleb's family plus some of Pace's friends. The food was good and We had fun spending time together, but we were out until 1 am. I haven't been out that late in a very very long time. I paid for it the next day. 

We had only planned on staying one night, but we ended up spending the whole weekend in Southaven. We got to spend some rare time with Caleb's brother. We were able to go shopping and get Wilson clothes that will hopefully get him through the summer. I also got to go to the movies for the first time since Wilson was born. 

I love spending the weekends with our families. Wilson has new places to expire and people to play with. Caleb and I can go out on our own, which is always a treat. There is so much to do up there. I always said I would never ever live in the suburbs, but they certainly have their benefits for families. I understand their appeal much more now that I have my own family. 

On an unrelated note, my phone is on its last leg and just barely works. I'm getting a new one this week (hopefully) but I haven't even able to take hardly any pictures of Wilson in about a week. Which, I know that isn't very long, but multiple times per day he will do something cute and I'll reach for my phone only to remember it doesn't work. It bums me out. 

Please ignore how mesy my table and bar area are but I can't get over this picture. The vacuum cleaner scared Wilson so Caleb turned it off. Wilson was so offended that he just laid in my arms and pouted for 10 minutes. I didn't realize Caleb was taking this picture or I would have sat up straight. Ha. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Over the weekend

Friday, Wilson took his first real steps. My 8 1/2 month old took his first steps. Where is my baby and who is this big kid that replaced him over night? 

The first ones were by accident, I think. He had pulled himself up on the edge of the couch, and I was sitting in the middle of the floor, maybe 3 feet away. I was talking to him and he just let go of the couch and wobbled to me. It happened so fast, we were both in shock. I could see him thinking "Did I just do that? How did I do that?"  

Friday night, Caleb and I got on the floor with Wilson and got him to walk back and forth between us, probably about 4-5 feet. Sometimes he would lose his balance and fall, but more often, he could keep his balance and take little steps. It was amazing. I cried. 

Since then, he hasn't been quite as successful. He seems scared of falling. He can stand unassisted, but he is hesitant to move his feet. Silly boy. Caleb said his little legs may be tired from all the walking he did Friday. 

Saturday, we went grocery shopping. I have been trying to come up with food options for Wilson and Saturday, I found my solution. I bought several fresh fruits and vegetables like pears, apples, broccoli, carrots etc. I got home and chopped them up, blanched them until the got soft and then frozen them in individual portions. I made Wilson nearly 20 portions of food for less than $5. Carrots, for example, cost $1.29 for a Gerber single serve package. I made 8 servings for .79 cents. I was proud of myself. It did take me nearly 2 hours of prep, chopping, cooking, freezing and packaging, but the money we save is 100% worth it. It's so nice that I can go to the fridge, pick out his food, microwave it for a few seconds and fresh fruit and vegetables are ready for him to eat. Mom win. 

We went to the park Saturday evening. On the way back, Wilson grabbed my finger and bit it pretty hard. I told him that it hurt, and he started crying. Maybe he felt sorry? 

Sunday, we stayed at home. We trimmed our hedges and I used our George Foreman grill (that was a wedding gift) for the first time. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Late and early mornings

The day before yesterday, Wilson gave me a great nights rest and slept from 9 pm to 9:15 am. I woke up feeling rested, happy, and ready for the day. We both were in great moods and played all day long. I felt like I really had the mom-thing down pat, that I was finally hitting my mom stride. Things were getting back to "normal" and I wasn't a slave to Wilson after all. 

O, what wishful thinking. 

Last night, Wilson didn't go down until around 10pm. He was over-tired (partially my fault for making Caleb keep him up while I watched "Greys Anatomy") and fought going to sleep so hard. When he finally went to sleep, I crept into bed. But I was. wide. awake. So I watched "Iron Chef" and played on my phone for hours. I drifted off to sleep around 1 am. Then my stomach bug decided to come back and I woke up with a stomachache at 4. I laid in agony until it started subsiding around 6, when Wilson started crying in his crib. Not his "I accidentally woke myself up and just need you to come comfort me" cry. No, this was his "OMG! MOM! DAD! WHERE ARE YOU? IM SCARED AND FREAKING OUT AND I NEED YOU RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!!" cry. The one that takes him hours to calm down from. (PS- Do babies get nightmares or night terrors?) Grrreeeaat. I ask Caleb to go get Wilson, in hopes he will work some baby magic and get him back to sleep. Instead, Caleb brings Wilson to our bed, plops him down between us and promptly turns over and starts snoring again. Ugggghhh. Of course, Wilson doesn't want to cuddle in bed, so up we get. At 6:30. After I went to bed at 1 and have been up since 4. I do our morning routine (three freaking hours earlier than usual) and get Wilson back to sleep around 8. I try to sneak him into his crib, which Caleb did with ease two days ago. No dice. Wilson wakes up immediately. So we rock and I watch Bobby Flay make breakfast in an attempt to keep my eyes open.

And I laugh to myself. Today, I do not have the mom-thing down. Today, I feel defeated by my 8 month old. Today, I'm counting down until Caleb gets home. Today, I am not super mom. 

But I think most moms ride that rollercoaster, too. Some days we have our shit together and some days we are barely staying sane. Recognizing this duality really helps me soak in and enjoy the "good" days. And remember to laugh through the "bad" ones. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why I hate Facebook

**I want to clarify that this post is not about anyone in particular. Just a rant that's been building up. I'm certainly not trying to offend anyone or call anyone out. These are just examples off the top of my head and don't reflect anything specific**

I've really been thinking about social media lately. About how huge it's presence is in everyday life. About how it serves some good purposes and some very bad ones, too. About how it is abused. About how it brings people together. It's quite the philosophical conundrum for millineals. 

Apart from this blog (that I maintain 100% for myself and don't care if one or three million people read it), I try to keep my presence on social media (like Facebook and Instagram) minimal. I do post a ridiculous amount of photos of Wilson but that's about it. The only reason I post pictures of Wilson is because the majority of my and Caleb's family are also on Facebook. Even though our family is stretched across the country, they can still watch Wilson grow. I think that's great and I'm thankful we have the tools to share Wilson with our family and friends who love him even though they have never met him. In the same fashion, whenever something exciting happens in our lives, like our new house or Caleb's graduation, I share that so our family can know what's going on with us. And I'm not going to lie, it feels good to see positive comments. 

But much of what is on Facebook or Instagram is either unimportant, self absorbed, or downright mean. People say things in comments that I am sure they would never say in real life. Or the thing that drives me absolutely up the wall is the ambivalent, passive aggressive status update "rant". Why? Just why would you air your dirty laundry on a public forum? 

I try not to let things like that get to me. To just write it off as other people living their lives how they want. Who am I to judge? But over the past year or so, the negativity has really gotten to me. It got really bad while I was pregnant, damn hormones. I would go on Facebook to check up on friends and family only to be flooded with status updates full of hate and bigotry. Some days I got sad and cried. Most days I got angry. So for the sake of my blood pressure, I made a rule. If anyone posted anything that was racist, sexist, homophobic, hurtful, or unnecessarily rude, they got deleted. No second thoughts about it. And it felt good. I instantly felt like my page became a more positive place, filled with fun pictures, funny stories, and life updates. What I imagine the intended purpose of social media to be. 

But then, as my friends list grew smaller and my tolerance level lower, I had to decide if I was willing to possibly burn some real life bridges by hitting the unfriend button. Because up until that point, everyone I had deleted was only peripheral to me. A high school friend, a long lost cousin, a friend of my parents. People I don't see or interact with. I was ok if they were offended by my online actions. But did I really want to offend Caleb's grandmother? My aunt? My parents? Should I stick to my guns and delete their negativity or grin and bear it? 

Ultimately, I chose to take the high ground and give those closest to me a pass. Because the last thing I need while trying to eliminate online negativity is to start a real life arguement. 

But that's the very thing that bothers me the most. That we as a society value online interactions as much if not more than real life. Instead of calling a friend on their birthday and having a conversation, we write on their wall or post a picture of them or write a status update. Why? Because it makes us look like good friends. We publicly share our love for our friend so everyone will think, "oh, Nicole is such a great friend to post about X on her birthday!" But how does that friend feel? If we don't engage in a conversation, we never know how that friend really feels. Maybe the friend is having a bad day.  Maybe the friend needs someone to talk to. Maybe our friend needs a friend. A status update is not a conversation. It is not checking in on someone. It is a selfish act aimed at not making a friends birthday special but instead meant to make the updater seem superior. It's phoney at best and hurtful at worst. 

It just seems to me that social media isn't so much about being social. It's a new way to keep up with the Jones' or even continually one up the metaphorical Jones'.  And I've had enough of it. As hard as I try, that one up attitude can get to me. I feel guilty for not posting a cute collage of me and my mom for Mother's Day. "If I don't, then people will think I don't love my mom, right? Will my mom be offended if I don't show the appropriate amount of public affection? Maybe I should call her then post a transcript of our conversation on Facebook. Would that satisfy the need to share?" Those thoughts sounds crazy but seriously run through my mind all the time. As someone who does not like publicly showing emotions, this gives me real anxiety. And I know it's a completely unnecessary anxiety. 

I don't know what to do about it. I don't want to delete my Facebook or Instagram. I honestly enjoy keeping up with my friends and family. I like supporting my friends with a "like" on the album of cat pictures. I like congratulating my friends on their job promotion, graduation, new baby, etc. I love sharing my son with people who care for him. Social media is great in that respect and I don't want to lose it. But at the same time, the bad almost out weighs the good. I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before someone's real life feelings may be hurt by what I do (or don't do) online. And I don't need that. No one does. Social media isn't supposed to rule a life like that. I'm not about keeping up appearances. I'm about what's real. 

So I don't know why I felt the need to rant on this. It's just been on my mind a lot lately. And hey, in a way, I just did the very thing I ranted about hating. But this is my space to say and do what I want. 

Graduation + Mother's Day

Saturday, my super brilliant husband graduated with his Master's degree! He worked hard for two years while juggling a pregnant wife, a newborn, and a full time job. Despite all those things competing for his attention, he stayed focused on school and graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. I'm really proud of him. I hope that Wilson will see his dad's dedication to lifelong learning and follow in his footsteps. 

Mother's Day was really low key. Wilson spent the night with his grandparents, so I got the luxury of sleeping late and waking up slowly. We were lazy all day until we had to go pick up Wilson. Unfortunately after dinner, I got hit with a stomach bug that I am just now recovering from. (No, I'm not pregnant. It's really annoying that is what people automatically assumed whenever I feel bad these days.) I didn't get any decent pictures of us as a family, only the random selfies that Wilson and I take almost every day. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Things I want to remember about pregnancy and birth

I don't know why I didn't write about my pregnancy very much. I loved being pregnant and I was incredibly happy and cheerful. Perhaps it was too busy enjoying life to stop and write it all down. But there are certain little things I would like to remember, for future reference. 

- In my first trimester, I craved sour things, especially lemons and sour candy. I'd cut up a whole lemon and put it in a water bottle, essentially drinking straight lemon juice. 

- I didn't have very much nausea. I took half a phenergan every night for about 6 weeks, but it was mostly precautionary. The couple of times I did actually get sick, I happened to be at restraunts.  It was a little embarrassing. 

- I never go to bed early, but for the first half of my pregnancy, I would go to bed between 7-9 every night. 

- I cried over some ridiculous things. I cried because I wanted some butter cream icing. I cried because I wanted a straw for my ginger ale. I cried because I missed Caleb when he went to work. But I usually only cried for a little bit, and then would laugh at myself for being silly. 

- I ate 58362956 turkey sandwichs from subway. Don't think I've had one since but I joked that I was going to give birth to a turkey melt. 

- For the last month of my pregnancy, I drank half a gallon of milk every day. We would literally buy 4 gallons a week.  I craved it non stop. Caleb would just stare at me while I pounded back glass after glass and it felt completely normal to me. I didn't realize how crazy drinking a gallon of milk in two days was. 

- I cried at every sonogram. And Wilson always had a fast heartbeat. 

- I "nested". I thought that was a silly notion until one day around 33 weeks I got an intense urge to clean everything! I probably did more than I should have moving and lifting things. 

- Caleb only missed one 15 minute doctors appointment. 

- I gained almost exactly 40 pounds, 12 of which happened in the last two weeks. 

- I had contractions regularly, but I didn't know that's what they were. I thought Wilson just had his foot or booty in a weird place. I didn't find out those were contractions until I was in the hospital and hooked up to the monitor and could watch the contraction waves. 

- I drank 2 liters of water every night and peed 10 times per night. It was a viscous cycle and I tried not to drink so much water but I could either be uncomfortably thirsty and not pee or drink and have to get up. It was a lose lose situation every night. 

- I had great nurses in the hospital. One was young and had dropped a baby a few weeks before. One had been a labor and delivery nurse for 45 years. One had a little girl with cancer. One was named pauline, which is my middle name. One was super preggo herself. They all were so helpful and nice to me and my family. 

- Speaking of family, my family took over the waiting room and birthing suite. My parents, brothers, and all 6 grandparents were there when Wilson was born. Caleb's parents and siblings got there a few hours later.  So we had like 15 people there for us. We kinda took over the whole labor and delivery floor. 

- From the time I decided to have a c section to the time Wilson was born was less than 1 hour. My doctor delivered Wilson on his lunch break. 

- My doctor went alligator hunting the night before Wilson was born. That is the most Mississippi thing I can imagine. 

- The morphine they gave me after the c section made me crazy itchy all over. 

- Caleb had to help me shower and go to the bathroom for about a week after Wilson was born. He did some gross things for me and I really appreciate it. 

There are probably more things and even more that I've already forgotten but I'd like these funny , small, tidbits written somewhere so I can look back and laugh in 20 years. Or give Wilson's wife some advice in 30 years. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What our days look like

I am guilty of taking about 483 pictures a day of Wilson. I can't help it. The kid is cute. So here is just a sampling of what our days look like recently. 

Spaghetti for dinner was a hit, obviously. 

Post-nap sleepy eyes. 

We live a 10 minute walk from a park and we love it. 

Wilson is not very interested in his books. Our books on the bookshelf, however, are some of his favorite toys. 

He knows how to take a selfie already. 

This is what the living room looks like first thing in the morning. It is promptly destroyed. 

Passed out. Not sure how that's comfortable. 

He always has such an indifferent look on his face when we go outside. I think he likes it. Maybe. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Wilson -- 8 Months

8 months. My baby is 8 months old. This time 8 months ago, I was making the decision to get this baby the heck out of me and to have a c section. Still one of the best decisions I've ever made. But 8 months ago, I couldn't imagine the big, playful, expressive boy I would have now. The fact that he has grown so much in only 8 months continually blows my mind. We were playing on the bed last night and I kept getting glimpses of Wilson where he looked like a toddler, not a baby. He just seems big and grown. 

- I'm guessing Wilson weighs 21 pounds and some change. He hasn't been weighed since his 6 month check up, but he doesn't seem to be packing on the pounds as quickly as he did when he was littler. We did measure him last week and he is 29.5 inches long. 

- He is still wearing size 4 diapers and probably will for a while, which is good because we have kinda amassed a stock pile. His clothes are some 9 month but mostly 12 month. Some 6-12 month pants still fit. Last month I was missing seeing him in onesies, but now I adore all of his little t-shirts. 

- Thankfully, Wilson has gone back to sleeping throughout the night. He goes to bed around 9 and wakes up around 8-8:30. About once a week he will sleep super late until 10 or so. Those mornings are the best. 

- Naps are still a struggle. He fights them so hard. He screams and hits and pulls my hair. It really breaks my heart. He is always so tired and needs to sleep but does not want to give into it. It sucks. And I'm still rocking him through 80% of his naps. I tried letting him cry it out once, but that backfired horribly. So, I'll keep rocking him. He takes a morning nap from 10:45-12:00 and a afternoon nap from 2-4. We decided to cut out his evening nap and it helped him sleep better at night. 

- Wilson cut two teeth at the beginning of this month. One came thru on a Sunday and the other popped thru by Thursday. And he has been a much happier baby since. He has just recently learned to "use" his teeth and now bites and chomps away at his food. 

- Eating is another struggle for us. He has essentially quit eating his puréed baby food. He does not like being fed. He wants to feed himself. Which I am on board with, but I struggle to find things to feed him. He eats bites off of our plates but I would like him to eat healthier options. We tried the "gerber grabber" ravioli and carrots and he ate those really well but the salt in those is super high. I think I'm just going to have to start cooking him his own veggies and things. 

- He takes a 9 ounce bottle in the morning, 8 ounces at noon, 8 ounces before dinner and then 10 ounces before bed. 

- Snacks are probably his favorite things in the world. Rice puffs, potato puffs, Cheerios, and cookies are like his baby crack. I seriously have to limit what I give him because he could easily eat 2 dozen at a time. 

- He is crawling now! He doesn't do the classic knees and hands crawl, however. He tucks one leg under him and then uses the other to push with. It works exactly like crawling, it just looks very awkward and hilarious. He is getting super fast and can go from sitting to crawling in seconds. Trying to get him to be still is impossible. Most of his 8 month pictures looked like this:

And this:

- In addition to crawling, Wilson is pulling up on everything. The couch, our legs, chairs, his crib, everything. And he is ridiculously good at it and so quick. He likes to practice his balance and lets go of whatever he is holding on to, but he falls pretty quickly. He loves to practice walking. He really just wants to stand all of the time. 

- He can say mama, dada, and baba on command (most times). We tell him to say "dada" and he will start babbling "dadadadada". He babbles a lot now, especially if he is tired. He also makes a funny noise where he makes an "ahhh" sounds and moves his hand across his mouth. So silly. 

- I always said I wouldn't let Wilson watch tv, but well, I do. Not a lot, but if I need 20 minutes to shower or do chores, I put him in his saucer with his cup and snacks and put on "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood". It's a fool proof way to make him happy and content. It's funny because Daniel Tiger is about the only show he is actually interested in. But he lights up when he hears the theme song. And I'll admit, it's a pretty cute show and teaches important social skills. We have watched the first season on Netflix 3 times already and I sing the songs in my sleep. 

Likes: his duck bathtub, Daniel Tiger, his cup, snacks, Sadie and the cats, his grandparents, the park and swing set

Dislikes: diaper changes, changing clothes, going to sleep, being left alone, being told no, riding in the car when he isn't sleepy