Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blood Brothers

Last week Nathan fell off of his scooter and got a nasty cut on his hip. We've been periodically changing the bandage and applying Neosporin to help it heal. Ryan has been witness to this each time. This afternoon when I was getting out the box of band aids, Ryan charged over to me and stuck his arm up. He kept grabbing the tube of Neosporin and touching it to his arm. I rubbed a tiny smear of ointment on his tiny arm and then he grabbed the box of band aids and held them up to me. I put one on his arm and he immediately ran over to Nathan and showed it to him.

If that's not the sweetest gesture of solidarity, I don't know what is.

Friday, June 27, 2014

The best of both worlds

When Nathan was born, I had an amazing work setup where I got to to work from home which meant Nathan only had to go to part-time daycare in the morning which is when I would get the brunt of my work done. Then I got to spend the afternoons with him and finish my work around his nap schedule. But when he was 10 months old I got laid off and had no idea what my next step would be. I was suddenly faced with the decision most women have to make when they become mothers, will I go back to work or will I stay home? I didn't want to do either.

I've heard many people say that being laid off was the best thing that ever happened to them. Although it didn't feel like that right away, it turned out to be true for me as well. When I thought about working full-time I cried that I wouldn't see Nathan enough. When I thought about staying home full-time, I cried that I would be bored. I wanted to work part-time but those jobs are few and far between and in my case didn't pay enough to cover the cost of childcare. So I explored my options and eventually decided to go back to school. I had always thought about becoming a teacher but the timing had never been right. Suddenly, the timing was perfect. I got to stay home with Nathan during the day and go to class in the afternoon/evening.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to stay at home with Nathan and eventually Ryan for so long but in the past few months, I have really felt like I needed more and am excited to be working again. It took me three years but I graduated last month with my Masters in Elementary Ed. Since January, I've been working full-time and although it was a LOT of work, I loved every second of it. It's the most tired and overwhelmed I have felt in a long time, it is also the most fulfilled I have felt too.  Being a full-time at home mom is incredibly hard work and I have huge respect for the millions of women who do it everyday. Working a full-time job and then coming home to take care of your kids is also incredibly hard work and I have huge respect for the millions of women who do it everyday! I feel very fortunate to not have to choose to do one or the other, being a teacher allows me a little bit of each lifestyle.

I worked as a first grade student teacher for four months and have spent the past two months working as a third grade assistant teacher. Most days I was able to pick the boys up by 3:30 and take them to a playdate, a trip to the library or just hang out for an hour in the backyard before starting the dinner/bath/bed routine. I love going to school each morning and I feel like the classroom is where I'm meant to be, but I also love being able to have some quality time together with the boys in the afternoon. And the best part of my job is it's officially summer vacation so for the next two months, I get to be a full-time, at home mom again!

I am excited to not have to rush around in the morning to get everyone dressed, and fed, and out the door by 7:45. I am excited to not have to pack lunches for three people every night! I am excited to have lazy days where we hang out at home and busy days where we spend hours playing with friends.

Will I miss working? Yes. Am I overwhelmed at the idea of having to entertain two maniacs for twelve hours a day every single day? Yes!  Will I be sad to go back to work in Sept? Probably. But I think knowing that my summer break is only for two months will make me appreciate being home with them more now. I plan on taking advantage of our freedom and making sure we have an awesome summer together. That's the plan anyway. Cheers to the summer!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'm embarrassed to admit Nathan isn't potty trained.
And I feel terrible that I'm embarrassed by that.

It's not for lack of trying! We have had a small portable potty since he was two years old.
And one of those little seats that rests on top of the regular toilet.
We have tried stickers and M&Ms and donuts.
We have potty books and potty songs and potty videos.

Nothing works.
The kid doesn't want to use the potty!!

Most kids want to potty train but have accidents.
Not Nathan.
He has 100% control over himself. He knows how to hold it and can tell me when he is about to go.
But he doesn't want to use the potty, if he has to go, he wants a diaper and if he's in underwear, he will just hold it.  And that can't be good!

I've talked to other moms, and teachers, and our pediatrician.
Everyone has a different opinion.

Talk about it more.
Stop talking about it.
Let him decide when he's ready.
Just take the diapers away.

He turned 4 in April.
He is in the largest size diaper they make.
We are on borrowed time.

For the past couple months we have not talked about it.
We've let him wear diapers and stopped pushing underwear.
But this weekend we decided to try again.

Last night we told him that we would be doing lots of practice using the potty and wearing underwear all weekend. He seemed excited about it.

This morning started with a standoff. An hour of him refusing to put underwear on and us refusing to put a diaper on him. He cried. He sobbed. He begged for a diaper. I held back my own tears. The last thing I want to do it traumatize him but I'm starting to think if we don't force him to do it, he never will!!!

He has underwear on now and seems fine with it. But we'll see what happens when he actually has to go.

I think every parents feels anxious about the big transitions their kids have to go through.
I worried about taking his bottle away and switching him to a cup. He did fine.
I worried about switching him from a crib into a bed. He did fine.
I worried about going back to work and putting him in daycare. He did fine.
But this is the one transition we just can't get past.
It is without question, the most difficult, stressful, frustrating aspect of parenting I've experienced in the past 4 years.

I keep telling myself it will happen eventually.
But honestly, I'm starting to picture him heading off to college, with a box of Pampers tucked under his arm.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's been one of those nights...

Nathan had a meltdown because he didn't like dinner. Salmon, zucchini and sweet potato.
Ryan somehow got his diaper off and played with the content inside. I won't go further into detail.
I tried to give Ryan a bath and he screamed and pulled and twisted so much that he fell several times and nearly cracked his head open. Then peed all over the floor when I was drying him off.
Nathan then had another meltdown because I wouldn't  give him a graham cracker. Sorry kid, if you don't eat dinner, you don't get a post dinner snack.
And when I went to pack lunches for tomorrow, I discovered the carton of milk had a hole in it and spilled not only all over my counter but also inside the door of my refrigerator.

We've sill got 25 minutes to bedtime but I'm going to go ahead and call it a night. I'm done.
Nathan can put himself to bed, right?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ryan's 1st Birthday

March 1st, 2013

Dear Ryan,

You normally sleep until 6 or 7 each morning. But when you woke up today the clock said 5:08, 3 minutes until you would turn one. Normally I would let you fuss and fall back asleep on your own. But not today. Today I happily went into your room and picked you up out of your crib. I kissed your nose and smiled at you. You smiled back at me with your big, bright, beautiful smile. I held you in the rocker and ran my fingers through your hair while I nursed you. We sat in the dark, in the quiet, just you and me while the rest of the house slept. I looked down at you, my precious boy, remembering all we've gone through in the past year and how much joy you have brought our family. I felt my heart swell with love and sadness at the same time. I'm so happy and excited for this milestone; you have grown into such a happy, smart, curious, fearless boy! And yet I also felt so sad because my baby is no longer a baby. 

There's no clock in your room so I don't know the exact moment it happened but I do know that at 5:11, the very same moment you officially turned one, I was holding you, my sweet boy, in my arms. Just like I held you one year ago in the hospital, with tears running down my face because you had finally arrived. 

I held you tight the day you were born. I held you tight today. And I will hold you tight for as long as I live.

Happy Birthday kiddo, I love you as high as the sky.

March 1st, 2014

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Party plans

Ryan will be a year in 6 days. I am having such a hard time wrapping my head around that and partly it's because I haven't given it much thought. Cue the "second child guilt".

We are having a small birthday party for him this weekend and I have barely prepared for it at all.

For Nathan's first birthday, I spent weeks making an elaborate poster with photos from each month of his life. I don't even know if we took photos of Ryan each month, but Will and I plan on sorting through what we have tonight and trying to come up with a few good ones!

For Nathan's first birthday, I planned a theme and ordered party supplies weeks in advance.
I may have been running around yesterday trying to find some last minute plates and napkins for Ryan this weekend and I definitely just placed a rush order on a birthday party website. (Fingers crossed my order ships in time.)

For Nathan's first birthday, I made his cake myself, a pretty good lion if I say so myself. For Ryan, that internet order I mentioned includes an edible decal that I will be slapping onto a sheet cake from the grocery store.

For Nathan's first birthday, I wrote down how much his first year meant to me so I would never forget what I was feeling.  For Ryan, I keep having moments of "Holy crap, I forgot Ryan's going to be 1 this weekend!"

I tell myself that with Nathan, he was my only child, I was home full-time and Will was home every night so I had free time to plan and prepare. This time around, I have two kids, I'm working full-time and Will travels so any spare time I have usually involves my butt, the couch and bad reality TV.

I know at the end of the day, it's not the party that matters. And I know that without question, I am just as excited for Ryan's first birthday as I was for Nathan's. It's just going to be a little more low key than it was the first time around. That can even be my theme, "Less is More."  And that's OK. At least that's what I'll keep telling myself all week while I scramble to pull this party together!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Student Teaching

I was laid off back in February 2011 and although that was one of the worst days of my life, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had always thought about becoming a teacher (and even attempted to teach Middle School in the South Bronx at one point but good god, that was scary and I lasted less than one semester) but kept finding reasons to put it off. So when I lost my job, I started to think about going back to school and for the past two and a half years, have slowly been chipping away at a Masters in Elementary Education.

Going back to school allowed me to stay home full-time with Nathan, and eventually Ryan too, and go to school in the afternoons and evenings. My parents have watched the kids for every single one of my classes and Will has done weekend duty while I have spent hours reading through textbooks and writing papers. Without them, I never could have completed my program.  I have taken all 10 courses and passed all of my licensing exams so now the last step before graduating is a semester of student teaching. Full-time teaching means full-time childcare for the boys though so I had to enroll them in full-time daycare. I've been home with Nathan since he was 10 months old and with Ryan since the day he was born. Sending them to daycare 5 days a week for 8 hours a day has been a huge adjustment for all of us and we've experienced lots of meltdowns (from both the kids and me) and even a sick day already.

We are slowly adjusting to our new routine and although I do not like being away from my boys so much, the good news is that I love, love, love being in the classroom so that makes it all a bit easier to handle. I am in the first grade and I love everything about it so far. My coordinating teacher has 10 years experience and I can already tell she will be a wealth of knowledge for me and the kids are so sweet, I already feel attached to them. I taught my first lesson yesterday, how to write the lowercase e, and led a community meeting this afternoon, teaching them that school is a safe space where they should always feel welcome and accepted. Next week I will take on the morning meeting and read aloud each day. Each week I will take on more responsibility and the goal is that for the last few weeks of the semester, I will have total control of the class.

In addition to teaching full-time, I will attend a weekly seminar as well as build an extensive portfolio of lesson plans and assessments. It's going to be a LOT of work and an extremely busy 3 months but I'm up for the challenge. After I graduate in May I will most likely look for part-time work until the boys are older but for now it's full-time whether I like it or not. I have made myself a countdown sheet, which hangs in my kitchen, over a bottle of wine and I'm hoping that will get me through the really tough days.