Let It End

To those in the know, or those who care who may not be in the know but want to be, I am happy to report that I have a total of 3 chapters left in my certification program.

I am so thankful that so many people supported me in this endeavor.  I'm a little nervous, of course, but more excited than anything.  I am equally excited that I must engage in a lifetime of learning.  I am required to continue taking classes and staying abreast of new technologies, information, and techniques in the worlds of fitness and health.  I've decided to specialize as well, but I'll spill the beans on that when I enroll.  Until then, wish me luck in this final push, and then on my final.


Best Day of My Life

Today, I woke up at 5:45.  I got up.  I had my first cup of coffee.  I read the day's news.  I had my second cup of coffee.  I studied.  I took a quiz.  I got 100%.  I rock.

Marcus woke up around 7:00.  I went upstairs, gave him like a million kisses, changed him and got him dressed.

We ate breakfast together.  We each had eggs, oatmeal, 1/2 of a peach that was as big as my face, orange juice, and yogurt.  I had my third cup of coffee.

We played for a little.  Then he wanted to take a nap.  It was 9:00.

I read some more.  I studied more.  I took another quiz.  I got 100%.  I rocked again.  It never gets old.

Marcus woke up around 1:00.

We went downtown to Natural Cafe and ate a beautiful lunch together.  He did funny things and I laughed.

Then we went to the pet store.  I knew he'd like seeing the adoptable cats.  He also liked the fish.  We saw dogs getting groomed.  We looked at the birds.

Then we went to the bookstore.  We saw lots of people.  Marcus signed that he was tired.  We came home.

I made dinner for Marcus.  I sat with him while he ate it.  Then he had a bath.  I read "Goodnight Moon."

I held him in my arms and sang, "Moon River."  I'd never sung it as a lullabye.  I loved it.

That was the best day of my life.  What's more?  I'm probably going to do something like that again.



Unsolicited Advice for New Parents

I've got a couple of friends who are new parents and parents to-be.  As somebody who's been a new parent, I recall vividly the lost feeling of arriving home with Alexandria, wondering exactly what we were supposed to do.  Conceptually, I understood that we'd undertaken the most challenging task of our lives, but she was just sort of sleeping.  Wasn't something supposed to happen?

I recall feeling nervous the first night, since we'd already experienced two sleepless nights in the hospital. I felt unsure and insecure in the face of a 7 lb. person who could only cry.  The next few months would not be any different.

Two weeks into our parenting adventure, I realized that I hadn't slept more than 4 hours uninterrupted, yet I drove, made food, did laundry, and attempted to keep house.  I operated in constant state of sleep deprivation.  About a month into it, all of my stores of joy and excitement were depleted.  I took the night shift, and stayed up until 12 or 1 am for the midnight feeding.  Many nights, I simply could not console our little girl back to sleep.  She cried, screamed, and wailed, and I could only hold her helplessly, many times in tears.  She often worked herself into such a hunger-induced frenzy that she didn't realize for many minutes that she could nurse.  I would sit exposed with a crying baby at my chest, weeping, praying for her to latch on.

It was not fun.  It was not fun at all.  Until I joined a Baby and Me class, I didn't know that EVERY other parent shared a similar version of the same experience.  I needed that information.  I needed to know there was nothing wrong with me.  I needed to know that I was doing a good job, but that parenting is really tough.  I learned that some days you might not want to get out of bed, and that's OK.  There might even  be a part of you that resents this little person who won't let you sleep.  If you're concerned about the way you feel, consult your doctor.

So, my unsolicited advice to new parents is to drop the myth.  Just forget everything you heard about this being the happiest time of your life.

The first few months with a baby may not be "fun."  Your baby eats, sleeps, and poops.  You are the sole provider of everything, and she gives little or nothing in return.  No smiles, rolling over, laughing...nothing.  You experience the bittersweetness of switching out Newborn clothes to 0-3 Months, and upward.  You get excited when she drinks 6 oz. for the first time.  She'll never be 8 pounds again!  But it's not fun.  You may feel too exhausted to enjoy it.

If you don't feel like every day is Sunshine & Roses, you're not alone.  Millions of parents feel the same way.  How can anyone be expected to feel joy while operating on 13 hours sleep in 4 days?  You love this kid so much and would lie on the tracks for them, but man, if they would only let you sleep once through the night!
Here's what I'll tell you, though.  It ends.  I found that around 3 months, parenting starts getting fun.  You'll wake up one morning and realize, "I didn't get up last night.  She slept through the night!"  They begin to smile, coo, and giggle.  They recognize you.  They start doing "cute" things, like putting rings in their mouths and shaking rattles.  From there, life gets crazier, and exponentially more exciting.

Remember that there's nobody in this world that will hold, kiss, hug, or tuck your child in more than you.  There is nobody in this world that your child trusts more than you.  It's not a small undertaking.  At the beginning, though, keep it simple.  As a new parent, your job is to keep your baby fed and clean.  Your job is to hold her and talk to her and comfort her.  If you're doing these things, you're doing great!  You're kind of like a robot (get up, feed, put to sleep, get some sleep, eat, sleep, get up, feed, put to sleep...), and in that role, you're doing everything your child needs.  Laying the foundation is not as exciting as building the house, but without it, the house will fall.  Build your foundation of love and trust, and your child will grow.

It gets easier and more rewarding, you just have to slog through these first few months.  Go easy on yourself.  That first smile makes it all worth it.  I promise.



Just Another Day

Dear World,

I am lucky enough to be a stay-at-home-mom.  What that generally entails is sleeping in, eating a late breakfast, catching The View, chatting with girlfriends on the phone, going out for lunch, an afternoon run or trip to the gym, 5 o'clock glass of wine, early dinner, reading, and bed by 10.  It's pretty nice.


I decided to track my day, minute for minute, to really catch a glimpse in the life of a hands-on stay-at-home-mom.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

5:30 - Marcus wakes up waaaaay too early.  Dave gets up with him, brings him in bed with us.
6:30 - Marcus wakes me up.  Start your engines.
6:35 - First cup of coffee, watch Marcus play
6:45 - Stand on the patio and catch 58 seconds of a gorgeous sunrise before I'm needed again.
7:30 - Make breakfast for Marcus.  Steel-cut oatmeal with peanut butter and 1/2 banana and strawberry yogurt
7:45 - Alexandria wakes up
7:50 - Make my last cup of coffee
7:55 - Make breakfast for Alexandria.  Cereal with milk and 1/2 banana, orange juice, and water
8:05 - Dave leaves for work
8:11 - Marcus shows signs that he needs a nap
8:14 - Continue laundry, fold clean clothes
8:22 - Put clean clothes away, make my bed
8:30 - Alexandria and I create an activity on the computer where she takes "inventory" of household items (lamps, pillows, chairs, doors, etc).  The word is accompanied by a picture of the item.  She chooses every picture.
9:00 - Alexandria takes "inventory" of household items
9:12 - I eat a breakfast of cereal, milk, 1/2 banana, and green juice
9:19 - Clean up from breakfast
9:21 - Alexandria asks for orange juice with food coloring
9:27 - I get to brush my teeth and take my vitamins
9:28 - Alexandria needs a band-aid
9:34 - Rotate laundry, fold clean laundry
9:43 - Alexandria done with inventory
9:45 - Begin making sunflower and zinnia seed terrariums
10:12 - Clean up from terrarium project
10:16 - Alexandria begins decorating a straw hat with leftover craft supplies
10:21 - I get dressed
10:29 - Read one article on Huffington Post!
10:33 - Rotate laundry, begin folding laundry
10:39 - Alexandria needs a snack
10:48 - Finish folding laundry
10:49 - I get a snack!  Fat-free strawberry yogurt, crackers, and 22 oz water.
10:57 - Begin recopying notes.  Just kidding.  Alexandria wants "help" with her hat
11:06 - Recopy notes, 2nd attempt
11:11 - Alexandria needs help.
11:16 - Alexandria does not need help.  She just wants me to sit there while she ate her snack.  We agree that I can sit 2 yards away from her while recopying my notes.
11:23 - Alexandria done with her hat
11:30 - Marcus wakes up, Alexandria directed to begin picking up from the hat project.  I get Marcus dressed.
11:35 - Alexandria is finished cleaning up from her project, and is asked to pick out clothes for our outing to the beach.  I finish cleaning up from the morning projects.
11:59 - Alexandria still not dressed, but does not want my help.  Both kids are playing upstairs.  I circulate the aquarium water.
12:30 - We finally leave the house, packed with snacks (2 apples, string cheese, small pita rounds, pretzels, and edamame)  We bring water, sunscreen, and hats.

outing... flea market, walk along the beach, play at the beach playground, sand too hot, kids are hot and cranky, and the elevator in the parking structure is broken.

2:37 - We're home.  We unload the car, get cool drinks, change out of hot clothes.
2:45 - Dave calls.  We plan the next two months around his travel schedule, including Alexandria's birthday.  Alexandria requests repeatedly to talk to Dave.
3:00 - Off the phone with Dave.
3:10 - Chit-chat with neighbor
3:18 - Alexandria tells me she wants to do "something awesome."
3:23 - Get kids in bathing suits
3:30 - Turn on sprinkler in back yard for kids to play
3:35 - Sweep the floor while the kids are outside
3:47 - Check email, and make plans for the weekend with family
4:28 - Begin making dinner for the kids
4:37 - Kids eat early (they've been waking up really early, so I'm going to try giving them another meal before bed).  I sit with them to ensure that Marcus doesn't throw his plate of food on the ground.  Marcus throws a lot of food on the ground.  I give up.  I call my mom to cement plans for the weekend.
4:43 - I eat again!  Vanilla yogurt with protein powder.
5:49 - Start the bath

This is usually the part of the night when the day begins to unravel.  Alexandria is tired and asks a million questions to which she knows the answer, or that don't have an easy-to-understand explanation.  For instance, she'll ask, "Mommy, what's that?" pointing to the shampoo bottle.  She knows it's the shampoo bottle.  I ask, "What do you think it is?"  "It's the shampoo bottle."  "Why did you ask if you already knew?"  "Why is it called 'shampoo'?"  Mind numbing.  "Why are they pajamas?"  "Why is it a rug?"  I have to walk away or I'll get too frustrated with the constant interruption to whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish, like getting Marcus dressed, putting toys away, putting clothes away, etc.

This is what we accomplished during the unravelling: kids take a bath, get out, get jammies on, Alexandria watched a Leap Frog video (rare), I read 4 books to Marcus, and then both kids got hungry again.  They ate an egg, cottage cheese, strawberries, half of a banana, milk, and yogurt.  Then we brushed teeth, sang a lullabye, did hugs and kisses, and went to bed by 7:45.

8:10 - Marcus starts crying, and just wants to be rocked to sleep.  I oblige.
8:21 - Start cleaning up from dinner: Clean dishes, table, and placemat.  I mop the floor because it's officially too gross to deal with.
9:03 - Done.

I take a few minutes to read the day's news and decompress.
9:45 - Dave calls to tell me he's on his way home.  He'll be home in 30 minutes.

I put out the trashcan, pick up odds and ends, and head upstairs.  I recopy notes until 11:30 and fall asleep after a few minutes of tossing and turning.

When the day is over, I have been without support for 14 hours.  In the process, I have:
Made 3 full meals and at least 4 snacks for the kids
I ate 2 complete meals and a several snacks
Washed dishes 3 times
Put away 7 piles of clothes
Changed 5 diapers
Wiped down the kitchen table 3 times, the counters 4 times 
Climbed the stairs 26 times, for a total of 540 steps (that's 1/2 of my 30 min. stairmaster workout at the gym!)
Studied for a total of 45 minutes for my new career.

Staying at home with a four year-old and an 18 month-old beats is the hardest thing I've ever done.  But, like I said in this post, it's the most satisfying job I've ever had the priviledge of holding.

I'll do it again tomorrow.