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Tuesday
Nov282017

My husband lost his job and it has been amazing!

I don't believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe that some things just happen, and then other things can happen as a result. Often those "things" are bad, and the "other things" that follow are good, and while I don't believe the good things are the reason for the bad thing, I can look back and see that one probably wouldn't have happened without the other.

When I returned from a weeklong cruise vacation with my sisters in late October, I learned that while I was gone, Mike had lost his job. My knee jerk reaction was "Oh shit," but very quickly I thought "It sucks now but this is opening the door for something else." I thought maybe a better job for him, but it turned out to be something completely different.

It's a bit of a long story, but the outcome is that we pulled Drum out of daycare and he will be staying home with Mike during the day; Mike will be working a part-time job in the evenings and on weekends; I will remain in my current job; and through a twist of random luck, we discovered a preschool that was momentarily offering a deep discount and staring December 11, Mo will be enrolled there. (Bonus that it's at a school that we'd love to send her for elementary school, and the preschool enrollment guarantees her a spot in Kindergarten!)

So basically we're going from two full-time jobs, full-time daycare, and almost full-time preschool to one full-time job, one part-time job, no daycare, and (severely discounted!) preschool. It's a BIG change, and a bit of a risk because my income is meager, but so far I'm loving it.

Here's the thing. I know being a stay-at-home parent is no piece of cake. There's no way, had the tables been turned, that I would have decided to stay home with Drum. It's not my cup of tea, and it's difficult in a way I'm not interested in. BUT! With one parent at home during the day, the dynamic of our lives has changed dramatically.

I had no idea how hard I was working to hold the pieces of my life together until I didn't have to anymore. Basically since having Drum, we've been maxed out. We just didn't have the capacity (financially, emotionally, etc.) to do all the things that were demanded of us. We were dragging ourselves and the kids out of bed every morning, rushing everyone around to get out of the house on time to make it to our jobs, working all day every day during the week, coming home and trying to squeeze a number of things into our evenings - dinner, errands, housekeeping, quality time with the kids, quality time with each other, tying up a million loose ends, and maybe a moment or two to breath - all before falling into bed and doing it again the next day. Weekends were a whirlwind of trying to accomplish the hundreds of things we didn't get to during the week, while also maybe fitting in a moment of fun as a family.

Despite all of our hard work and exhaustion, we had no extra money. Not one single dollar was left over after bills were paid, groceries were purchased, and vehicles were fueled. We do not live an extravagent life - both or our cars are older and have been paid off for years, our mortgage is less than rent on many one-bedroom apartments in the area, our technology is minimal and old, our biggest extravagence is the one-device Netflix subscription for $7.99 a month. We had reduced expenses as much as possible, worked our asses off, and still barely made ends meet because, to be frank, we both chose careers where we are underpaid for our skills and talents. And we had very little help. Our families, while usually there for us in a pinch, are busy with their own lives. We don't have a network of friends or neighbors to call on. And despite always thinking "Someday I want to make enough money to pay someone to clean my house!" we don't have a cleaning service or a lawn service or a meal service or a grocery deliver service or any kind of paid assistance with the daily grind like many of our peers do.

And while I could go on and on about pay inequity (I work in the non-profit sector and get paid far less than people with the same education and skills who doing essentially the same job in the corporate world), what really made things so difficult was not the money but that everything was so hard and we were so maxed out, and yet we had so little to show for it. Looking back, I realized I was in survival mode. I was just trying to survive each day. I didn't think too far into the future because the thought of holding it together for more than one day at a time was overwhelming. I swear I aged more in the last two years than I did for the 15 years prior.

And I know, wah wah, #firstworldproblems. When I compare my life to so many otthers, I know my problems are not big problems. But my point is that it was hard for us, and then things changed, and now I don't feel like I'm drowning in my own life anymore.

Because! Even though Mike has Drum with him during the day, it's not the same as working a job all day. He has to take Drum with him to run errands, he has plan around Drum's nap, and he has to entertain a 2 year old while he gets stuff done around the house. But it's now an option to get shit done during the week, an option we haven't had in years. Aaaallll those things that we could never get done Monday through Friday, that we were cramming into the weekends or never accomplishing at all, he now has the option to do during the week. This weekend we jotted down a list of things that needed to get done this week:

  • Return the tables and chairs we borrowed (from three different people all over town) for Thanksgiving
  • Return the library books
  • Drop donations at Goodwill
  • Buy the few remaining Christmas gifts on our list
  • Call Mo's old preschool
  • Call Mo's new preschool
  • Go through the kids' winter gear and determine what we need
  • Go to Once Upon a Child to buy new (used) winter gear
  • Deposit Drum's birthday cash in his college fund

That doesn't even include cleaning, yardwork, and other things that have to happen on a regular basis. Without exaggeration, that list would have taken us weeks if not months to accomplish. We made the list on Sunday, today is Tuesday and he's gotten most of it done (he's not a very good retail shopper so he's struggling with those tasks!).

With so many things off my plate and off my mind, I've been less stressed at work and at home. I can focus on my job without a thousand personal tasks taking up mental space. I can focus on time with my family without also trying to multi-task my overwhelming to do list. That's not to say I don't still have a lot to do - there are some things I just do better! - but I can physically feel the relief of so much stress leaving my body since we made this transition.

My only small feeling of doubt about the whole thing is that we completely pulled Drum from daycare. I think daycare is really good for kids, and ever since we moved him to a new facility this summer, I especially thought it was good for Drum and his development. He will love his time home with his dad, but I do wonder if we're doing him a disservice by taking him out of that environment completely. 

Our plan is to live this scenario until Mo starts Kindergarten in the fall and then reassess. We may choose to keep going for another year or two, but when Drum is 3 or 4 I think we'll want to get him in preschool and then we'll have to completely rethink our situation. But who knows what our lives will be like then. I never could have predicted we'd be in the situation we are right now! 

Mike didn't lose his job for a reason, but that unfortunate event sure did open the door for some really cool changes.

Wednesday
Nov082017

Drummy is two years old!

[I wrote a long, heartfelt post about Drum for his second birthday and the whole thing disappeared without explanation. I was furious and frustrated, and this is my best attempt to recreate it with my hands balled into fists.]

Two years ago my life was made forever more incredible with the birth of my son. He has been surprising me and challenging me since day one. If you recall, I sat through the whole anatomy scan assuming I was looking at my daughter. Then at the very end it was revealed we were having a son. I was shocked but not at all disappointed. It took the next 20 weeks to adjust my vision of my family, but as soon as he was born I knew I was meant to have a son. This son.

He came in a rush. I spent almost 20 hours in intense and unrelenting back labor with Mo, so I was prepared for much of the same with Drum. It was intense and unrelenting back labor, yes, but only four hours after the first contraction, he was in my arms. He continued to surprise me at home. Not that Mo was a piece of cake as an infant, but I was not prepared to spend 90% of my waking hours on a yoga ball. And I had no idea how to deal with the persistent gas Drum experienced. But we got through and that first year was suddenly over. This last year flew by, too. It seems like I was just watching him tentatively eat his first birthday cake.

When Mo turned two I wrote about what you would notice about her if you met her, and I’d like to do the same for Drum. First, you would notice that he can be a bit bashful at first. Not as painfully shy as I was as a kid, but it can take him a bit to warm up to people he doesn’t know. Actually, even with people he does know. He prefers to stick close to me until he’s decided others are cool.

Once he does let loose a little, he can be really silly. You would probably see him doing his gymnastics moves, maybe attempting a somersault. His signature move is to take a wide stance, lean over and touch the ground, then kick one foot in the air. He thinks he’s pretty cool when he does that. He also does this ridiculous thing where he spreads his feet wide, hunches over, and waddles around. This is a sure sign he’s in a silly mood!

If you met Drum, he would probably ask you to read him a book or twelve. And he would probably ask you for a snack. Or twelve. And he would say all of this around the bida (pacifier) in his mouth. He loves to point out animals and knows all of their names. He loves to point out colors too, although almost every color is orange to him. It must be his favorite.

Probably the thing you’d notice most if you met Drum is that he’s often snuggling with me, or even climbing my body like a tree, trying to get as close as possible. His favorite spot in the world is on my lap, one hand behind my neck playing with my hair, sometimes a cheek pressed against mine. He’s pretty obsessed with me, and I’m pretty obsessed with him. I didn’t know I would have a son, but now I can’t imagine my life without him.

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Happy birthday Boo Bear!

Monday
Oct022017

Drum - 23 months

Gah! He's almost TWO! Time is so slow and so fast, and somehow we got here. I love to watch him grow up and I'm so happy he keeps developing and thriving, but I also love that there is still some baby left in him. I'm excited for him to reach two, but I'm sad to say goodbye to one.

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It's funny, I wrote this about Mo when she was 23 months: "I hear and read and witness regularly how difficult toddlers can be, but I often can't relate." Well, the universe was like, HAHAHA! Can't relate? Here's Drum. Now you can! You're welcome. To be truthful, he's still a lot easier than some of the stories I hear about other children, but I can now absolutely relate to what it means to have a difficult child. He's not bad - he doesn't really get into things he shouldn't or cause too much mischief. He's just so emotional, so grumpy, so discontent much of the time. I keep hoping it'll get better, but I hear that two can be worse with the inability to manage emtions. We'll see.

I feel kind of bad that I'm always writing about how much he challenges, but it's so all-consuming that I can't write about him without mentioning it. Now on to the other aspects of Drum.

He loves to cuddle, especially with me. He loves to play with my hair. When he's upset, once he gets to a place where he'll accept comfort, he needs a paci (his bida) and my hair. He says "hair" and reaches around, then rests his head on my shoulder or cheek.

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He loves candy and "cheats" (treats). He likes to whisper in my ear - it's usually just nonsense, but he's mimicking his sister and loves it. He's now using a booster at the table instead of a high chair. He knows his animals so well! His teachers even said he knows more animals than older kids in his class. He's starting to learn colors a bit. His default is orange, but he knows what the names of other colors are. He doesn't quite associate the names with the correct colors yet, but he's working on it. He's talking a ton, stringing words together. He has the sweetest little voice and the most infectious laugh.

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Drum is finally get his canine teeth. Those suckers held off a long time, but I now see all four starting to peek through. I also wonder if he's getting any molars because he's particularly agitated lately. We're not yet potty training, but he likes to sit on the toilet. He knows when he has to poop and he often asks to sit on the toilet (though mostly he just squats and announces what's happening), but he's yet to produce anything there. We did intentional potty training with Mo aorund two and a half, so we'll wait until at least then to get serious I think.

He's my boo bear, my sweet boy. I love him so, so much!

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Monday
Sep042017

Drum - 22 months

A few days ago Drummy turned 22 months old. He's closing in on two years really fast! I'm not sure a whole lot has changed in the last month. He is still doing well at daycare. He still gets in trouble for pulling hair, but when I talked to the director about it, she had a great response. She said they don't "criminalize" kids for normal age-appropriate behavior, and they just want to be on the same page as us so we are consistent in regards to our response at home and daycare. They want to see him be successful as much as we do, which is a good feeling.

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Drum is definitely talking a lot more. His language caught up to what's "normal" for his age a couple months ago, and it continues to expand. I swear he picks up a new word every day. He strings a couple words together now, mostly things like "my shoes" and "Obie night night." Usually he's talking around a pacifier because he's now addicted to his "bida." He used to enjoy it and it was a good tool when we needed it, but now he NEEDS it just about all the time. I'm totally fine with it for now, but I dread the day we have to break the habit.

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He has been sitting on the toilet quite a bit. Still nothing happening there, but he'll even ask to sit on the toilet when he knows he has to poop. One of these days something will happen there, but for now he likes the novelty of the potty seat we put on the toilet, and ripping off the toilet paper. He actually likes to have a diaper on, which is interesting. Mo has always loved to be naked, but Drum doesn't like to have a bare bottom for too long. He'll run around in nothing but a diaper, but if we take the diaper off, he'll pretty quickly bring us a diaper to put on him. He hates the act of getting his diaper changed though. Go figure.

Drum still loves shoes. I bought him some new (used) sneakers and he's so proud of them! He likes hats too. He's suuuuper into books. We're at that stage where I sometimes want to hide all the books because I've read them all 1,000 times. But I'm actually really glad about it because for so long he hated to even be in the same room as a book!

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Oddly, his appetite has all but disappeared. Maybe that's not odd. I remember Mo was a great eater at first and then suddenly not. I don't remember when that happened, but maybe around the same age. He's not super picky, he still likes a lot of things, but he just doesn't eat much of it. Except candy. He'll eat the shit out of some "teets" (treats).

He's still nursing. I've been trying half-heartedly to put some parameters around it. If I'm around, he'll ask to nurse when he's hungry, thirsty, bored, upset. It's always been easier to just let him. What do I care? But in the interest of eventually weaning, I try to redirect him if he doesn't really need to nurse. For instance, he nurses when he first wakes up and thats's fine. But then he wants more milk 10 minutes later, and that's just not necessary.

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The last two weekends Mo has been out of town with family, so Bro has been an only child. In some ways it was nice because he got some special attention, and life is just easier with one kid. We even went grocery shopping as a family! But it was also interesting to see him try to figure out how to occupy his time. Not that they play together all the time, but his world is just different when we're home and Mo isn't around. I missed Mosie a ton (things just aren't the same without her around!), but I enjoyed a little extra (and rare) one-on-one with my baby boy.

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Tuesday
Aug012017

Drum - 21 months

My baby is so old! Twenty-one months now. I need that emoji of the face that's like WAH! 

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This is the age Mo was when I got pregnant for the first time after she was born. That pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and I was laid up on the couch wallowing in sadness when I wrote Mo's 21 month update. I'm sure glad not to be in that state now!

Drum is a great kid. I joke a lot on social media about his grumpiness (#restinggrumpface), but truly he is spectacular. He's curious and funny and loving. He does this surprised face that makes me laugh every time - he'll make the face over the smallest things because he's so full of wonder. He likes to stand next to me on the couch and the trust fall into my lap. He never hesitates, he knows I'll catch him. He also likes to stand on my lap and try to balance for as long as possible, and every time he makes a face that says "Holy crap, look at this!"

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He recently "graduated" from his intervention services. We started that service because his speech was a little delayed (and it was free - I take anything free!), and we also discussed some behavioral concerns. But since his speech is now "right where it should be," he no longer qualifies for services. I'm proud of the progress he's made, and I love his little voice. Seems like he has a gazillion words now, but some of my favorites are his mispronunciations. He says bid-oo for birdie, byda for paci, nack for snack, bee for all bugs, wush for fish.

He also LOVES to read books now. He has four favorites and the thing they all have in common is flaps. He just loves a good flap. He's not at all into TV. I wrote in Mo's 21 month update that she would watch a lot of PBS while I was recovering from the miscarriage, and that surprised me because Drum has almost zero interest. And it's not for lack of exposure. Mo gets to watch some TV after school, so it's there for him to watch, but he doesn't.

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We recently went to my relative's cottage in northern Michigan and had a lot of fun. Drum slept in a pack n play in a camper (the cottage is small and there were almost 30 people there, so we slept in a pop up), and he napped and slept through the night like he always does despite the late loud crowd of people. He enjoyed the hammock and visiting the little nearby lake. We also spent some time at a quiet beach on Lake Michigan. He didn't go in the water, but he played in the sand. We visited some big sand dunes and he had fun watching Mo climb and run down them (he wasn't interested in trying it himself).

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Unfortunately, Drum has been sick a lot lately. Recently he caught a virus that had him out of daycare for five days. Backup care is a real struggle for us, so five days in a row was not easy to figure out, especially because it was a week when I couldn't miss a lot of work. I guess he's still adjusting to the new germs at his new daycare, but man. And I'm still nursing him, isn't that supposed to help? So much for that theory. ;)

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Daycare has been going really well. He has bonded with a couple of his caretakers, which is a huge help. It's hard to drop him off not knowing what he really thinks about these people, but they have told us that he's gotten attached to a couple, and that they just adore him. And I can see in his interactions that he's feeling more comfortable now that he has "his people."

In three months he will two, and that blows my mind. I often forget he's not a baby anymore. It all moves so much faster than my brain can process.

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