Friday, March 30, 2012

Lots of Thoughts - Not Lots of Words

I blog for a living. It's like a dream come true. But there's a problem: it requires maintenance. Stop writing and the words stop forming themselves. Suddenly you have lots to say but no words to say it with, and no motivation to come up with them.

I've been off work for just over two weeks and am starting back tomorrow, at least with the blogging and blog management part. I need to come up with something to write ... and believe me, I have a load of things to say ... but I can't come up with the words to say them.

I'm writing here tonight to try to unclog the pipes. Call it "blogging drain-o."

In no particular order. And warning: this is going to sound like a lot of complaining ... I've determined that I'm OK with that.

-- I decided to switch Huck to formula. Everyone seems happier, overall. Including me. Let's ignore the crying child whose current crying is making me look like a liar.

-- I fell in love with a house, went and saw it, fell even more in love, was basically ready to sign a lease without Luke and ... the owner (a Sgt. Maj.) gave it to a couple who will "for sure" be here two years. I don't understand how that's possible. Nothing is "for sure" in the Army -- and when he asked me how long we'd be here I said "I think at least two years but nothing is ever sure in the Army." ... he should KNOW that. And if someone else said they will "for sure" be here for two years, they are lying. Because nothing is sure in the Army. NOTHING.

-- I am so tired of moving. I just want to live somewhere, in one house, for more than a year. The longest I've lived anywhere since college (that ended in 2004, in case you are wondering) is about 17 months.

-- I miss Luke. My missing-moments come in fives. Five days after he leaves is always really hard ... and when that heavy, aching weight of missing hits me again after being pushed under the rug successfully for awhile, I take a peek at the calendar and, sure enough, it's another five-date. Tomorrow, for example, is five weeks. And the missing feels like a huge backpack that I'm hauling around with me. I feel like I can't breathe.

-- To help me ignore the missing-weight I've been unbelievably productive the past two days. I'm just straight-up bored (the reason I'm going back to work early instead of waiting until next Wednesday). For example yesterday I: took Dave to speech therapy, wrote Luke, finally conquered my closet/drawers, sorted and organized all of my seasonal clothes, swapped out Dave's seasonal clothes, and dealt with this giant box of dishes we've been hauling around packed since Fort Lewis. ... and today? I hit four stores looking for Luke's foot powder, ran errands at the PX, grocery shopped, dealt with the world's most obnoxious plumber, shined my copper pots, dusted, vacuumed, cleaned my bedroom and bathroom, did four loads of laundry, folded all of it (a true miracle -- I hate folding laundry), did a little work, gave Dave a bath, packed a box for Luke, sanitized baby bottles, and other stuff I can't remember. I'm tired now.

-- And now an open letter to that plumber. Dear plumber: two days ago you called and asked if you could come fix the leak under our sink. I said that you could come any time before 4:30 p.m., after which time we would not be here. At 4:26 you called to check my address. I did not answer. When I got home I found a note on my door saying that you were sorry you missed us. Are you a moron? I said I wouldn't be home after 4:30. I meant it. And then there was today. Ah, today -- the day on which you called me at 7:04 a.m., woke me up, woke up my 3-year-old and sealed my distaste for you. You wanted to know if we'd be home around noon. I said we'd be out until about 12:30 p.m. at least. And so at 12:20 when you called wondering if we were home I was not particularly kind in how I informed you that, no, we were out - JUST LIKE I SAID WE WOULD BE. If I knew how to complain about you to your boss, I would ... but sadly I think you are your own boss. Please never come here again. Sincerely, me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Day for Crying and the Solutions

It was bound to happen sometime. I mean, I just had a baby for crying out loud. Tears are inevitable, right? And they'd probably happen whether I had a husband gone or not.

But the husband being gone sure seemed like a good excuse for it.

I managed to save them for bedtime, when I climbed into my bed and sobbed to my heart's content. Yes, it felt good. And yes, it did help.

Today the future is much brighter. But yesterday -- yesterday -- it all seemed oh-so-overwhelming. Huck wouldn't fall asleep on his own and instead had incredible quantities of air in his stomach which took him 45 minutes to burp up in between crying fits during what was supposed to be nap time. Dave was constantly acting out. I was tired. Mary is leaving Sunday ensuring that someday I will have to do my own dishes, sweep my own floor and fold my own laundry once more. A week and a half after she leaves I have to start working again. And I flat out missed Luke.

But a night of decent sleep puts everything into perspective and I was able to come up with the following solutions:

- Huck is probably burping up air because he is gulping air while he is eating. He is gulping air while he is eating because his latch isn't good and I can't hear him swallowing air because I'm so busy yelling at Dave to Stop. Climbing. On. Me. while I'm feeding the poor child. Solution: distract him with Mary and go somewhere quiet to feed the babe. Solution after Mary leaves = 20 minutes of Elmo/quiet feeding spot.

- Dave is acting out because everything is suddenly so different. Mary is great, but in some ways she's just another new person our house. Shew gives him attention but it's not the same as attention from Mommy. Solution: get back in our routine as quickly as possible and, when Mary leaves, ease back into it slowly solo. This means lots of park time, library, chickfila and park play time and classes at the Y. All should be easy to do with babe in tow. And someday Dave will get used to the changes and stop acting out. SOME DAY. (::: sigh :::)

- Mary is leaving and that's life. Solution: know not to sweat the small stuff. Make my daily to-do list, keep it reasonable and focus on time management and my new priorities. These are: feeding/loving on Huck, feeding Dave and myself, loving on Dave (by going and doing things that he enjoys, spending time with him, reading, etc.), sleeping and then everything else.

- I have to start working again -- no way around that, really ... plus I enjoy it (a lot). But right now I'm just too tired and too stretched thin so the thought overwhelms me. Solution: while getting back into my routine identify times in our schedule that I am filling with "other" stuff but could be working. Example: there's sure to be time in the evening/mid afternoon during naptime and kiddo bedtime that I'm not needing to sleep but am filling with other stuff. Working hard to get Huck sleeping longer stretches at night will be key to this. Last night he did two 4 hours stretches feeding to feeding. The night before he did one 3.5 hour stretch ... let's hope the lengthening continues, eh?

- I miss Luke. Solution: no solution, really. Pray really hard that he makes it straight through this school and keep reminding myself that he's doing this not just because of his career, but because he needs to on a personal level. And as his wife, it's my responsibility to support his needs even if I don't understand them ... just as he supports me whenever I want to do something bat crazy (like triathlon).

See? I have a plan. I like plans.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Precious Moments

I have 16 minutes until I need to wake-up my new son Huck for his first meal of the "night," trick him into going right back to sleep, and crawl into bed myself.

Yes, my "new son" Huck.

That's because on Wednesday after a super surreal six hours watching TV in the hospital, I pushed a whole human out my body. Bam. Done. And then I was escorted to another room, fed what may have been the most delicious Subway sandwich of my life and basically went on vacation ... if on vacation you are awoken once every three hours by nurses.

It was actually pretty great.

And now we are home - not quite back in reality, but home. Our dear friend and fake Mommy/Grandma is here for 10 days to feed and water Dave and I, play with cars on an endless rotation and burp gassy Huck while I take an afternoon nap.

We'll be really sad when she leaves in a week. And that's when reality -- REAL reality sets in ... me. alone. with two children. and a job starting back up a week and a half later.

Our plan of action for the next week is to ease back into real life as slowly and seamlessly as possible. We'll try different tasks and outings with the extra help along and deal with day-to-day things slowly so that I'm not overwhelmed when it's just me and not a single other person taking care of everything all the time.

Huck is as much of an angel baby now as his brother was at this point ... but he's only had three days to show his salt. Cross your fingers for me! Amys need all the sleep they can get or they are NOT very nice.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Parenthood = Low "Fun" Bar

Today was my last Saturday as a mommy of one. By next Saturday I will definitely, for sure, by a mommy of two.

I feel like this week should be full of things that only a mommy of one can do and enjoy, since life is, arguably, going to change very drastically very soon.

What should I do?

I was talking to Bestie Dana about this and she suggested I go grocery shopping alone because, as we know, that is a treat. And pretty soon it's going to be a treat that is doubly elusive. In fact, for a solid six weeks (at least after fake-mommy Mary leaves me on the 25th) I'll definitely have at least one kid with me at the grocery store. At least.

What happened to the days that grocery shopping solo was not a treat but, you know, normal? Oh, how the mighty have fallen -- when household chores by yourself are a treat, you know you've got a problem. Heck, going to the bathroom alone right now is a treat.

Low, low bar folks.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

... But TODAY Would Be Fine!

Dear H.W.,

I got a pretty decent night of sleep, despite spending an hour between midnight and 1 a.m. trying to decide if I was having "real" contractions, taking another shower (because I am weirdly paranoid that you will come when I have not showered recently), and bothering my doula over the phone. I think you dropped a bit, so I'm pretty much OK with you coming now and at least starting me on the path towards being more comfortable .... someday ... eventually.

Plus it would be super swell if you were born during the day, and not overnight. I have plans over night time. Those plans are: sleeping.

Dear David,

Please stop jumping on my stomach. I mean really, bro. It is not a trampoline.

Dear Weather,

Rain? Really? Because drying off the dog is exactly what I want to do right now.

Dear "Alias,"

I still love you.

Dear Army,

If you kick my husband out of that stupid school after all of this, I'm gonna come down there and kill you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not Today. No. Way.

If there is one thing you should know about me, it's that I. Love. Sleeping. I love it out of practicality - that enough sleep equals happiness, function, productivity and, frankly, a much more pleasant Amy.

Not enough sleep = the exact opposite.

Jesus, of course, knows all about this - which is why he gave me a magic baby the first time around who also loves and appreciates sleeping. When Luke deployed right before Dave's 5 week birthday, it was no big deal because me and the magic baby were quite happy together. And well rested.

Now, let's talk about Huck. We don't know anything about whether or not he loves sleeping. But we do know that he is coming soon -- and I mean SOON (we're inducing the 17th if he doesnt come sooner ... which seems to be a strong possibility from what the doctor said Monday). And we do know that regardless of how much an infant loves sleeping, he needs to eat in the middle of the night. Both mom and baby must suffer for a little bit.

The best thing I can do to prepare for this is sleep. A lot. RIGHT NOW.

Two nights ago when I was having trouble sleeping I popped some nighty-night tylenol ... the same Monday night. Last night I thought "surely we don't need to have that kind of hangover every morning," so I didn't.

I deeply regret this decision. I am now functioning on about 5 hours of tossing and turning. And since it would be just MEAN for a baby to born during the day after such poor rest, I am banning Huck from entering the world until tomorrow at the earliest.

All in the name of rest.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

... But I Don't WANNA Be Your Mommy Today

After almost a week of successful single parenting I hit the wall -- yesterday I just didn't want to be Dave's mommy anymore.

To be clear, it wasn't an "anymore, forever and ever amen" sort of thing. I just didn't want to be a mommy yesterday. For one day. One, glorious day where I could sit on the couch, watch Sense and Sensibility and NOT mitigate coloring/painting/alphabet/reading/puzzle/pretend food/cars/feeding/napping/diaper changing/bathing/peed-on-bedding drama.

One. Day.

Unlike the struggles I mentioned in my last post, where I battle double the love load as surrogate Daddy plus all the the extra garbage hauling work ... there really wasn't any extra work. I just wasn't feeling being Mommy OR Daddy.

I just wanted, for one day - one glorious day - to be Amy. Nothing else.

And so Dave made his weekly visit to the childcare center on post, while I trotted around town running errands (Total lie. No errands were run. Yesterday I got a haircut and a massage). And then I picked him up, came home, put him down for his nap, and collapsed on the couch in front of a movie.

The trouble started when he woke-up. ... and wanted attention. The nerve of that child.

And so I, Amy the not-mommy, ignored him ... and continued to sit on the couch and watch my movie.

This process lasted about an hour until he had became impossible to ignore ... and kind of stinky. So I changed his diaper and we went outside, where I, Amy-the-not-mommy, sat on the stairs and enjoyed a cooling breeze.

We ate dinner, I did the dishes (but not because I was a mommy - mostly because they were annoying), I helped Dave with his jammies with the end goal of ultimately bidding him a bedtime farewell.

And then I, Amy-the-not-mommy, found a little boy in stripy, footie PJs snuggled in my lap. And so I Amy-the-not-mommy, sat on the floor and sang lullabies to a poor, sad, neglected Daddy/Mommyless Dave.

That was when I changed my mind. I DO want to be his mommy -- in that moment there wasn't a way for me to NOT want to be his mommy. And maybe, when I act like a big selfish jerk, Dave doesn't want me to be his mommy, either. But he still loves me anyway. Isn't that nice of him?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Keeping Things Together ... Apart

Today included a variety of planning failure -- forgot to put on my watch, got buried under stupid stuff the moment I got out bed, Dave was especially needy and did not give me my counted-on 45 minutes of peace after breakfast.


And this is how life looks when the husband is gone. ... messy. Dave is particularly needy because he's missing his Daddy time -- right when I'm particularly busy because his Daddy is not around to help me. I'm trying so hard to give him the attention he needs and craves (if only to make-up for the Daddy Gap), but meanwhile feeling pressure from work, housekeeping, hauling heavy things that I usually leave sitting in a conspicuous place until someone else (ahem) takes care of them ... that sort of thing.

We ate lunch out. And then we ordered dinner out, too.

I feel only a little bit guilty about this, as you can tell. I'm going to blame Huck. What a bad child, making his mommy do bad things like eat really delicious, not healthy food. Bad!

But I DID manage to do everything on my to-do list today, INCLUDING blogging here! (TA-DA!) and reading to Dave. I am a MACHINE.

And now for facts that don't belong anywhere, but I shall share with you because the dog doesn't care:

- Dave may or may not think that the letter "A" is actually the letter "A Apple" and that the letter "Z" is not "Z" but "Zebra." He sees a "Z" he says "Zebra."
- Slightly related to the above. His overnight diapers, he informs me, have a picture of "poop" in the "bath" and a "zebra." Pretty much it's a picture of Pooh sleeping in a honey bowl -- the sleeping illustrated by "z"s. I can see how he got there.
- The other day at my OB appointment the doctor told me that Huck is "a good sized boy." Luke heard this as "he's a strapping man-child, like his dad!" and I took it as "OMG you are going to die giving birth to a FREAKING HUGE BABY." And that, folks, is the difference between men and women.
- Between the pilot of Burn Notice and episode three, the Fiona character basically lost an entire Irish accent.
- This day is coming up shortly. Wishing I was going to the Spouse Summit in D.C. so I could go by and say hello at Arlington on the day of. Tony -- I didn't know you at all, but I know your family now. You must've been a wonderful man to have such a fantastic group of people loving and supporting you.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How Many Days to a "Habit?"

I once read that it takes between two to three weeks to form a new habit.

I contend that this is only true for things we find unpleasant. For example: it would definitely take me three weeks of cleaning up dog-doo every day at the same time for it to be something that I do as a matter of course. But it took me approximately two days to form the "habit" of drinking a homemade latte every morning. And boy is that habit awesome.

There are a whole pile of things in my life that I would like to make habits of. Many of them are things that should already be habits but are not -- like wearing a watch so that we aren't constantly running just a tiny bit late. Or like spending at least 10 minutes a day reading to David and at least 10 minutes a day teaching him something.

You would not believe how much trouble I have making those happen.

You'd also be surprised by how much those two things - wearing a watch and working with David - go together. Every day I think "This morning we will sit down and talk about the letter "A" and then we will read a book!" And every day I get sucked into work or house keeping and then, before I know it, we are 15 minutes from having to leave for whatever appointment or play date or thing we have scheduled. The time always escapes me. And the person who suffers is always my sweet boy.

Today I made yet another attempt at starting those two habits. As soon as he got out of bed I put on my watch. I made sure that a good hour before we had to leave for his craft time at the post YMCA we were sitting at his little table, talking about the letters A, B and C. Then we colored some pictures, then we did some puzzles.

It was nice.

When we got home from craft time/a stop at the playground, we read some books before his nap.

And what do you know, I still managed to get done everything I would've done with that 40 extra minutes I dedicated to my little man.

(I feel like such a bad mommy).

Habit Day 1 - done.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Early Morning Trickery

... Or "how to trick myself into capturing productivity before 0800."

Most days I manage to get life started by 0600. That is, I am out of bed. I am wearing a shirt that is not what I slept in (but still in PJ pants). I am drinking my latte. I am pretending to do something productive.

And that's the key -- pretending. Because on most days, although I am awake and up doing something ... I am not being productive. I am cruising the internet, blowing time on Facebook, or really anything except something that actually needs to be done. And we wonder why a perfectly reasonable to-do list ends the day with some things still on it.

It's essential for me to immediately reign in my day the moment I get out of bed. To do so I've developed a few "personal best practices." Since you, obviously, are just itching to know what they are so that you can launch your morning into productivity overload, here we go:

- Get up at the same time almost every day. Once a week I let myself sleep-in to whenever Dave wakes-up. The rest of the time I thrive on the consistency of a 0530 wake-up. If I'm exhausted I take a 20 to 40 minute power nap in the afternoon.
- Get at least semi dressed as soon as I get-up. I don't want to waste precious, Dave-free moments in the shower (I can trick him into playing while I shower later). But I DO want to feel a little more ready for the day than I did when I was, for example, asleep. I wash my face, put on a clean shirt, that sort of thing.
- Make a to-do list before anything else (but after making coffee. Some things are just more important). If I do not make a to-do list and organize my thoughts and priorities right away, they get dumped by the wayside for several hours as I instead fruitlessly look at photos of bunnies taking baths.
- Focus on focusing. Working on that to-do list takes dedication. And every time my mouse wanders towards a Facebook link or an article on dresses made from recyclables I think ... is this on my list? Nope. DON'T DO IT.

I'm not saying these tricks keep me on track every day ... but they help.

What tricks have you found to getting your day off on the right track?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blog Agan = Home Again

I miss blogging for myself.

It's been more than a year since I graced this page with my typed words -- a very busy year. Most of my writing time is spent over at SpouseBUZZ, where I am the brand-spanking-new Managing Editor. I worked hard for more than a year to make that happen, knowing that someday the opportunity would come and they would actually hire me to blog about military spouse issues.

Come, it did. And here I am.

All work and only play in other places than on this blog (examples: racing, playing with Dave, etc.) has not left me a "dull boy." It has just left me with very little to say here.

Still, there's something cathartic about blogging my own thoughts about things that have nothing to do with (or less to do with) being a military spouse. In short, I've missed it.

Things that have happened since my post here last February:

-- Dave has become a giant.
-- We moved to Kentucky, a place that is windy and not nearly as pleasant as our last two duty stations. It is also a place that does not have lovely places to run near our house.
-- Luke got a desk job. I feel bored for him.
-- I grew 9 months worth of a new human ... one month to go and then he will be all cooked. And then you can all meet him.
-- I did three triathlons, a half marathon, a 15k, an Urban Adventure Race, the Army 10 Miler and a 5k. I was 12 weeks pregnant during my last triathlon. During the Army 10 Miler I was 17 weeks pregnant -- and I STILL managed to do it faster this time than in 2010. The 5k was done when I was 24 weeks pregnant -- the last "long" run I did was 7 miles at 22 weeks pregnant. Then my Achilles tendon started hurting. Then I stopped running. I blame the unborn child.
-- I traveled to D.C. and home at least three times (I kind of lost count, honestly) and visited Boise, California, North and South Carolina, Washington, Georgia, Florida, Ohio and possibly somewhere else I'm forgetting.
-- I went crazy for two weeks and we bought a dog.

I feel like I'm downplaying some sort of excitement - because that list makes things sound much more dull than they actually are.