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Friday
Apr182014

Weirdness

Things are weird lately. Mike is out of work and staying home with Mo, which means they spend their days together while I go to work, and they've developed a nice little routine. It's wonderful. But then I get home from work and I've missed the whole thing, and I hate that. I'm still her mama, still her favorite when it comes down to it, but the fact that I'm missing out on so much of her life is much more apparent now that Mike isn't missing it, too. 

To add to the new household dynamic, we've got a temporary tenant living in our guest room. She's a high school senior that my mom knows who needed a place to go. We offered our extra room to her at the end of January with the understanding that a) she would pay us a small amount of rent, and b) while we had room in our house for her, we didn't exactly have room in our lives. Meaning, we have so much going on and it's a very delicate dance to keep it altogether, and if she was going to be in our space, she couldn't disturb our routine. Or our peace. It needed to be NO maintenance. 

Well, it hasn't been that exactly. We should have known. But now we're counting down the days till she's scheduled to move out. Not because we dislike her. It's just not easy fitting another person, a stranger essentially, into everything else.

Work has also been more stressful than usual the last few weeks. Fortunately, I really enjoy what I do, but lately, by the end of Monday I can't believe it's not yet Friday.

Usually I have yoga to help balance me out, but I had to miss it two weeks in a row, then our instructor took two weeks off (a group of coworkers and I pay someone to come right into work and we do yoga in a conference room), and now I haven't had a moment of savasana in a month!

So things are weird, and I'm ready for them to go back to normal I think. Of course there's always this to cheer me up...

Mo in carriers with Mom

 

Tuesday
Apr082014

Minus one job

When one of the two breadwinners in your household loses his job (because his position was eliminated for financial reasons), you try to focus on the positives. Because even though we rely on both of our incomes to make ends meet, when Mike lost his job recently, there were definitely worse scenarios we could have imagined. 

CONS

  • It sucks to have to leave your job on someone else's terms.

PROS

  • He gets full pay for a couple months. HUGE pro! We're saving what we can in that time.
  • If he's not employed by the end of that time, he will hopefully be eligible for enough unemployment to buy us a little more time.
  • We pulled Mo out of daycare for the time being, and that means she gets to spend time with Dad, who can do the fun things that (most) stay-at-home parents do with their kids!
  • Our daycare was incredibly understanding, offering to hold her spot for as long as possible. And also offering hourly care as needed if/when Mike has interviews.
  • We've been pretty good about our budget lately, so it was easy to identify some temporary changes we could make. 
  • I participated in a poverty simulation recently, and yeah, it could be a hell of a lot worse!

All that said, we are still a little nervous. I mean we have no reason not to believe that everything will work out fine. For the better, even. But there's just no telling. We pretty much need for Mike to get a job equivalent to or better than the one he left, at least in terms of pay and benefits. Unless we want to sell our house. Or go to jail for not paying our student loans. Pretty sure you go to jail for that.

We're not interested in relocating, but if you happen to have any connections or job leads in West Michigan, please let me know! Mike comes from the food industry (not just cooking, not just restaurants), but is open to career changes if an opportunity presents itself.

Also, bonus Mo photo. Monus photo? Bonus Moto? Monus Moto? No.

Mo's monster hat

 

 

Monday
Mar172014

Mo - Fourteen months

Since last time I wrote, Mo has grown up so much, or at least it feels that way. She is a very strong walker now, she almost never crawls, and something about that full transition has flung her into kidhood and out of babyhood. She has the cutest gait too, I wish I had a good video of it to share. She holds her arms bent at her side, puts her head forward, and takes deliberate little steps. It's quite the opposite of her cousin Will who throws his shoulders back, lets his arms hang at his side, and steps like he just got out of a saddle. The other thing that made this transition official was her new shoes. Previously, we only really put her in (used, hand me down) shoes to keep her feet warm, but when she started walking we decided she should have some new shoes that her feet could form to. So we bought these:

With walking comes adventure. Mo is all over the place. Our first floor is a circle that connects the living room, kitchen and front room (office, dining room, whatever else we can squeeze in there), and she likes to walk around the circle exploring everything she can. She gets into the drawer full of ziplock bags and pulls them out one at a time. She explores the shelves full of knick knacks and makes a mess of my chachkies. She digs through the trash and the recycling, and brings us gifts of empty pasta boxes and torn up paper. We love to watch her explore, so as long as she's safe, we let her check out the nooks and crannies of the house as much as she likes. (Although we have been setting some limits. No cat food or water because, ew, such a mess! And no bathroom trash because you never know what's in there!)

Mo loves to give kisses, and we love to receive them! She has been blowing kisses for a long time, but now she puckers up and lays one right on our lips. I request about a thousand kisses a day because it is the sweetest thing in the world. She also gives hugs. I love to crouch down, put my arms out and ask for a hug. She waddles over to me, arms raised and falls into me. I'm not sure there's anything better. Sometimes she even pats my back. Where did she learn that? Maybe it's intuitive, affection for those you love. 

She has learned some more signs. She now knows: eat, all done, more, sleep, milk, and sometimes love. "Eat" is her favorite. She walks around all damn day telling us she'd like to eat. And she does! Girl loves to eat. She went through a very short phase where she turned down most of what we offered, but I now think she was just teething or not feeling well because her appetite is back and bigger than ever. She doesn't eat large meals, but she snacks all day long. That's healthier right? I think I've heard that...

One of her new things is walking around with a blanket over her head. She throws it over herself and just stands there. Or tries to walk around and falls all over everything. It's the dorkiest thing and I love her for it. 

Mo still doesn't have a lot of spoken words. I worried that maybe the signing was hindering her verbal language, but I've read that kids can learn both at the same time. Of course I've read the opposite too, so who knows. But if I'm honest, she only really has one word (or phrase really) that she uses correctly and consistently: "uh oh." She can say mama and dada and lots of of other sounds, but she doesn't really assign them to things or people. She used to say a form of "thank you" but not really anymore. She uses the word "dinnuh" or "uh dinnuh" for everything. At first I thought it was dinner, then I thought it was her way of asking for something, then I realized she uses in all kinds of circumstances, so I think it just means, "I have something to say." I'm not worried about her communication though. She is very expressive and has no problem telling us what she thinks or needs, and at 14 months, she's not expected to say a lot.

She still loves to read. She has her reading nook, and she also likes to grab a book and bring it to us. She will hand over the book, then turn herself around and plop down in our lap or between our legs. See? No need to say "read" or "book." Just hand over the book and sit in the lap. Message received! 

Basically I love my girl with my whole heart. I wish I had the privilege and option to spend even more time with her than I do!

Monday
Feb242014

Mo - Thirteen months

I'm not officially doing monthly updates anymore, but here's a little look at what Mo is up to these days, for posterity's sake. She was 13 months on Valentine's Day, and she celebrated by bringing Valentine's cards with plastic bracelets to daycare. From her friends, she got a bunch of cards and treats, as well. 

She has sprouted a bunch more teeth. I think she's up to 10 now, though she doesn't let me peer into her mouth often, so it's hard to be sure. I do know she recently got her first two molars, one on top and one on bottom. She was a cranky drool machine a couple weeks ago, and I suspect that's why. We bought these teething pod things that have clove and other natural ingredients that apply with a q-tip. She loves the taste (they smell like tea) and they seem to help.

This is not a demonstration of her teeth, but rather her sometimes wild hair.

She went through a short phase where she was testing how much of a reaction a good screaming fit would get her. I think she learned quickly that it's not much. She would scream and cry, complete with snot and spittle, for no reason. But her mother is very stubborn, and I was able to ride out these fits with no problem. Mike was a little more delicate about the whole thing, but pretty quickly Mo figured out that hysteria was not the way to get attention.

Mo took her first official steps on January 25. Two very intentional, very clear steps. And over the next month she gained more and more confidence. A lot of people said that one days she'd just take off walking, but that's not her way. That may be true for some kids, but Mo was very deliberate about learning to walk, understanding the mechanics. I could actually see her processing what she was doing and learning from it. She'd take two steps, then five, then a couple days after she turned 13 months, she set a new record at 10. This past weekend we were at a hotel overnight with my whole family, a Christmas gift from my dad and stepmom. I think in order to try to keep up with the big kids, something clicked for Mo. She walked across the hotel room, at least 30 steps, and then she did it again and again. By the end of the weekend, we declared her a walker. She still crawls of course, but she actually chooses walking as a mode of transportation, not just when prompted. It's funny because my niece learned to walk on a family vacation a few years ago. I guess it's a thing.

She has a new favorite lovey. This time it's a little puppy she got from her great grandparents on her birthday. She still loves to sleep with it, and takes it with her when we let her. She's giddy whenever she sees Pup Warner (that's what we've named him)!

She now has three signs that she uses with fluency: all done, eat, and more. She's starting to figure out sleep, as well. She claps, she waves, she blows kisses, she plays peek a boo, and she does "so big!" That last one is interesting. It's not something we ever did with her, and one day recently I was like, that's the quintessential kid trick, I should teach her! I showed her about three times, and she had it down. It amazes me how quickly she can learn things now.

We had some friends over recently, and they have a 20 month old. She and Mo played together. That doesn't sound like anything great, but it was the first time I reallys aw Mo play interactively. She parallel played for a long time, as is normal for that age. But with this girl, she was chasing and laughing and interacting. Playing. I suppose she does that at daycare a lot now, but since I don't often get to see her with other kids, it was amazing to watch.

Earlier this month I left Mo for two nights in a row, the longest I've ever been away. It meant there was a whole day, from morning to night, that I didn't see her. I've been with her for at least a part of every day her whole life, so that seemed huge to me. She was fine of course, in very capable hands. The first night I was gone, we FaceTimed, and it was kind of awful. At first, she was thrilled to see me - laughing, babbling, giving kisses, reaching for the phone. But then she realized she couldn't actually get to me, and she immediately began to cry. It was heartbreaking because there was nothing I could do but hang up and let Mike comfort her. We did not do FaceTime again.

I say it all the time, but Mo is such a joy. She is so damn good, so happy and easy-going and joyful. I love spending time with her, and I love having her in my life. Thanks for being the best Momo Doan!

Tuesday
Feb182014

Will we have another?

That's the question we get asked a lot now that Mo is a year old. And the answer is simple: Yes. If we are lucky enough to do so, then yes, we'd like a second.

The more difficult question, and the one we ask ourselves all the time is: When? That answer is much more complicated.

When Mo was born, well right after she was born it was too overwhelming to even contemplate doing that craziness again! But after awhile we started to talk about it, and we thought the ideal scenario would be for me to get pregnant around Mo's second birthday, so January 2015. But it's not that simple for a lot of reasons.

1. Complications

It wasn't exactly easy to get pregnant the first time. It took a year and some minor interventions (Clomid for ovulation) to get pregnant, and then it was ectopic. It took another round of Clomid to get pregnant again, which fortunately resulted in a beautiful, healthy pregnancy, birth and baby. There is just no guarantee I'll get pregnant again, and in fact there is reason to believe I may not, or at least that it will not be easy. I always try to remember to use the dislaimer "IF we have a second child..."

2. Cost

Daycare is killer, man. We just cannot figure it out. It is our second largest monthly expense after our mortgage. A second child would essentially double that, making it our largest monthly expense by a long shot. I've been hoping and waiting for a miracle that would allow us to afford child care for two children, and it just isn't happening. 

One major thing did happen which could lead to a miracle: Mike's mom is hoping to retire later this year. She has offered to watch Mo twice a week. This is an unbelievable blessing. I know many people that have help from their family, and I've always been outrageously jealous. And now here it is. I've hesitated to say anything or to make any plans in that direction because we have had a few promising possibilities before that have fallen through disasterously. But it's at the point now where I need to start considering what this might look like.

Here's the thing. Our current daycare does not offer part-time pricing. It's the same weekly rate no matter how much you bring your kid, so that would do nothing so save us money. We need to find something else. I've been asking everyone I know, again (remember I did this over a year ago when we were searching for Mo), and it still blows my mind that nobody I know can give me a recommendation. Everyone suggests a daycare center, which we cannot afford (part-time rates are more than what we pay for full-time care), or they suggest the state child care database, which is great but incredibly overwhelming. So far I've gotten one recommendation for an in-home provider, and that person has no openings. How do I not know ANYBODY that uses daycare in this area?!?!

Anyway, my hope is to find a place to send Mo three days a week that will save us enough money to make it even remotely possible to rearrange our budget to allow for child care for another baby.

The other part of this is that we need to cut costs in other ways, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know. Here's what we have so far:

1. Try to pay off our car loan within a year to free up that amount by the time a baby is born. Pray that neither vehicle needs to be replaced before Mo starts kindergarten (and therefore frees up the amount spent on her child care)!

2. Switch to a low cost, no contract mobile provider as soon as our Verizon contract is up. We'll be sacrificing some quality in coverage, but we spend a ridiculous amount right now.

3. Find Mike a higher paying job. I already made an important career move last year, so it's his turn. We really need for him to make more money, but the job search has lead to nothing but dead ends and disappointments. We're no longer relying on this to happen, but it sure would be nice.

We already pay as little as possible on student loans, and we can't do much about our mortgage. We've worked with a financial coach to get on a realistic budget, and we're not big spenders to begin with. But I'm open to any other suggestions that have worked for you to cut costs!

3. Timing

I'm ready now. If you took away the complications and the cost concerns and the fear (see #4), and you told me I'd have a wonderful pregnancy and birth and baby, I'm ready now. I'm trying really hard to be responsible, to get our ducks in a row first, to consider all the possible outcomes, but part of me wants to forget all that and just go for it. I have major baby fever. Watching so many people around me get pregnant and have babies is really making want another. If I were to get pregnant now, Mo would be almost 2 when she became a big sister, and I think that's perfect. 

But my heart and her age are not the only things to consider, so we are waiting to even try.

4. Fear

I'm scared. Not of having two children, although I know that won't be easy. I'm scared of all the things that can go wrong. My best friend lost her baby in a very complicated and devestating way when she was less than 24 weeks pregnant. Another person I know lost her child after just a month due to the baby's heartbreaking health complications. So many of my friends have had miscarriages or pregnancy complications. I, myself, had an ectopic pregnancy.

I read a blog recently about someone who discovered at birth that her daughter had Down syndrome, and although it all turned out wonderfully, the way she wrote about how much it rocked her world filled me with fear.

It seems like I'm surrounded by stories of all the things that can go wrong, and I often think that I have my miracle, I have my blessing. I've already been unbelievably lucky once, how can I possibly expect to be so again? How can I even think about taking that risk? Shouldn't I just leave well enough alone? 

I really am full of fear about this. Sometimes I lay awake at night, consumed by these thoughts, wondering if I should even think about tempting fate for the selfish desire to have another baby.

...

So yes, we want a second child. But it's so much more complicated than that.

Isn't she going to (hopefully someday) make a great big sister?