Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back to Work

After a 10-week maternity leave, today was my first day back to work. Thanks to an early alarm and cooperative kids, everything went pretty smoothly for the first day with both of them at daycare all day. Ryan was excited to have Cohen with him and said he was going to "pre-tect" his "brudder" and tell everyone not to be wild around him. (Not that he takes his own advice. )  I am very grateful for the time I had away and think it was the right amount of time for me to get a mental break from work, time to bond and really be an attentive caregiver for Cohen, and even get quite a bit of time to spend with Ryan. It felt good being back at work, seeing my co-workers, wearing real clothes, eating a hot lunch with grown-ups and going a solid 9 hours without smelling like baby spit-up.

Do I miss Cohen (and Ryan)? Of course. Terribly. Was it hard to go back? A little at first, but it seemed to be easier this time. Maybe because I really enjoy the job I have to go back to and maybe because this leave solidified in my mind the decision to be a "work outside the home" mom. I manage my time better, am more intentional about the time I do spend with the kids, have more patience with them, and get an extreme amount of satisfaction from my work. I'm a D personality, results-driven, and it is hard for me to look at the end of the day with a meager (in my mind) list of tangible "accomplishments."  Being a mom is hard work. Being a mom all day and all night, day after day, is very, very hard work. I have discovered that I need different kinds of work.  I need to read library books before bed, feed babies, play race cars, change diapers, and be silly with my kids. I also need to interact with colleagues, analyze data, set goals, learn new things, and be part of an organization that affects thousands of people. I need to be needed, and not just by someone who needs me to watch the cool new way he's managed to get spaghetti sauce on his forehead or to wipe a puddle of spit-up off the third outfit of the morning.

I have become very aware that my coping mechanism any sort of conflicting emotions (including guilt) is compartmentalizing. When I am at work, I am at work. When I am at home, I am at home. Without a long commute, I've learned to transition very quickly between the two. Do they overlap? Of course. I check email on my phone and mull over projects when I'm not at my desk and I talk about my kids and wish for more vacation days to spend with them while I'm at work.  But, for the most part, I don't spend the workday wondering what the boys are doing every second and don't spend the nights and weekends obsessing over work. Do I feel guilty about this (both ways)? Yes. I want to be the best mom to my kids and the best employee to my company. But I also want to be the best wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, community member, etc. and I realize that I'm never going to be "good enough" at any of them, so I just have to find an acceptable balance. I cope with the guilt of not being "the best" at each of my roles by...compartmentalizing. When I get a feeling of guilt or the urge to make a certain part of my life a bigger priority, I quickly evaluate whether the feeling is strong enough to change my behavior. If it is, then I make a decision on what needs to change and work toward it.  If it's not, then I put it away and don't let it take up too much of my emotional capacity. 

For example:
Emotion: guilt over spending 40+ hours/week at work instead of with my kids
Options: quit my job and either stay home or find a part-time job
Evaluation: (extensive consideration of emotional & economical consequences)
Decision: keep my fulltime job
Possible gains from continuing to feel guilt when decision is not going to change: none

I'm actually writing this post after being back at work for more than a week (blogging, among other things, has taken a back seat as I'm trying to readjust to the new schedule, so please excuse the post-dating) and can collectively say I'm fine with it.

I'm tired (SO tired), I'm stimulated, I'm needed, I'm harried, I'm satisfied.

But, I'm still a mom. Just a mom who's "back to (a different kind of) work."

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wild Kratts

Wild Kratts is Ryan's current favorite TV show. It starts with some live action of the Kratt brothers talking about animals and wondering what it would be like to take on characteristics of the animals. After jumping into their "What if?" stance they morph into cartoon characters and then go on some animal adventures. Ryan learns a lot about animals and he loves telling us what he knows about aardvarks, termites, lemon sharks, cheetahs, falcons, etc.

The last few times he's watched it at home, he has gone into full action during the intro, acting out all the different parts. I have a feeling he doesn't do this alone when they watch it at daycare after naps and can only imagine this in stereo!  It's hard to see the TV, so it won't make a lot of sense if you haven't seen the intro, but I just wanted to post it to remember how much fun he has with this show.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Classic Faces

While Adam was gone for the weekend, I wanted to send him a picture of Cohen.
 The first few were pretty cute...

And then we captured a more accurate look...

Personal Pizzas

The boys and i were home for the weekend together while Adam was away at a football concert. One of the most challenging times to deal with toddlers is when I'm trying to get supper ready. He's hungry, we're out of ideas for activities, and all he wants to do is "help." So, I decided he could help me make little pizzas for supper.

We rolled out refrigerator biscuits, sprinkled them with a little cornmeal so the middles didn't get soggy, and brushed the edges with garlic butter. 

Then, Ryan spread pizza sauce on each circle.

We added pepperoni, cheese, and parmesan cheese and then baked them up!

Time for pizza!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine Cookies

I've been wanting to try a Lofthouse Cookie Copycat Recipe that I found on Pinterest, so I thought Valentine's Day was a good excuse to make frosted sugar cookies. I made the dough in the afternoon, refrigerated it for a few hours, then rolled, cut, and baked the cookies after the boys were in bed.

On Friday, Ryan helped me mix up the frosting and we got to work!  He picked out pink for the heart-shaped cookies and blue (his favorite color) for the circle cookies and of course, wanted lots of sprinkles! Giving him his own little bowl of frosting, own cookies, and a small dish of sprinkles is key, but this activity occupied him for almost an hour!

He was very proud of his creations, but always chooses a large cookie that I generously frosted instead of his own from the box. We froze about half of the cookies and put together some tins to give to my parents and Abbie and Wade since we were going to visit them that night.

These cookies bake up thicker and chewier than my usual recipe and I don't think they have that much taste, so they just become a vehicle to transport the frosting, in my mind.  I substituted almond flavoring for half of the vanilla extract in the recipe. Also, this frosting stays soft at room temp, so if you want to stack them, stick them in the freezer or fridge, then use a piece of waxed paper in between layers.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More Valentine Fun

Ryan and Cohen got a surprise Valentine's visit from Adam's parents the night before the holiday where he enjoyed playing with the Fishing game they got for him. He likes playing this game at their house but we were happy to see they no longer have fishing poles with strings that get tangled up every other turn! He also had a lot of fun with his card which included some punch-out cars and stickers for decorating.

On Valentine's Day morning, I served red heart-shaped (if you squint a bit) Almond Poppy Seed muffins. It was just a box mix that I added red food coloring to and put a marble in the muffin tin outside of the wrapper and I'm pretty sure I've eaten the majority of them myself, but you can't say I didn't try.

After supper, Ryan got to open a few more gifts. He was pretty enthralled with the unique book he got from my parents called "Press Here."  He also loved the Farm blanket my dad got on their church auction. I commented that it had lots of animals and a tractor, but he corrected me, saying it wasn't a tractor, it was an "Alligator." (It's a John Deere Gator.)  I told him it was for Cohen and him to share, so every night Ryan takes it to bed and assures me that "This is me and Cohen's blanket, but Cohen won't mind if I use it because he's not using it right now."

Ryan got a box of Valentine's Angry Birds gummies from us and it now takes approx 35 minutes for him to eat his snack because he role-plays all of the birds and piggies in an elaborate game of 3-D Angry Birds before finally eating them.

He also got some Valentine's from his friends at daycare and I'm pretty sure he is loving this holiday. It's kind of a hard one to explain because with other holidays we have to make a conscious effort to explain the real meaning behind the holiday and that it's not all about presents. This one? It's kind of all about presents...

Bath Time for Baby

Cohen has been enjoying his baths and since his leg seemed a little sore from the shots, I took his Doctor's advice to let him soak in a warm bath. He spent more time kicking than soaking, but I think he liked it!

2 Month Appointment

Cohen's 2 month appointment this morning went well and he is a healthy, growing boy!  Here are his stats:
  • Height: 24.5" (94%)
  • Weight: 14 lbs. 5 oz (87%)
  • Head: 16" (92%)
 He received one oral vaccination and then got a triple-whammy of shots in the legs, all at the same time. Oh my, you should have heard him! His eyes were so wide, face red, and he was crying a cry I've never heard before that sounded like he was saying "yeah, yeah, yeah" over and over. I fed him right away in the office, though, and he calmed right down. He's been cuddling most of the afternoon now with a few cat naps, but mostly just wants to be held.

Another great development to report is he slept his longest period ever last night, going from 9:00pm-4:30am, then slept from 5:00-7:00 again. After this he was pretty much up for the day, but if he could do this again, it would be great!

Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Ryan

Happy Valentine's Day! Love, Cohen


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

MIddle School Baby Shower

Today the Middle School where Adam teaches held a little baby "shower" for the 3 babies born to staff members this year. It was a short little "meet, greet, and eat cake" before their afternoon inservice, but it was a nice way to introduce the babies to everyone.  Ryan demolished a piece of cake and enjoyed playing with chasing his friend, Hudsyn and entertaining the adults with his antics. Cohen was pretty sleepy but got passed around several of the teachers. Thanks for your thoughtfulness, MOC-FV MS!

Super Hero Valentines

Last week, we spent a morning making Valentines for Ryan to give to his friends at daycare. After finding a cute idea for Super Hero Tootsie Pops on Pinterest, we went with that general idea.  The blue and brown lollipops got blue capes and Batman masks while the red lollipops got red capes and more generic masks.  Ryan colored the capes and applied a few stickers, then I wrote "Have a SUPER Valentine's Day" on the cape.

 He decided that one of the little girls at daycare doesn't like Super Heroes, so he asked if we could make her a princess one instead. So, I improvised a dress and a tiara on her mask. 
He also thought a few kids were too young for lollipops, so we put some signs on Superman fruit snacks. Now there's something for everyone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cohen: 2 Months

Sleeping: Cohen has been giving me a few longer stretches. Most of the time, he'll sleep for 4 hours, then give me another couple 2 hour stretches. It varies from night to night, but the most consistent scenario is going down at 10:00pm and waking up at 2:00, 4:00, and 6:30am.  He has gone 5-6 hours two different nights and I hope we can get this more consistent before I go back to work next week! He doesn't really like being swaddled and doesn't use a pacifier at night. He looks kind of lonely in the middle of his empty crib! He continues to nap a lot during the day either in the swing or bouncy seat, but not on any consistent schedule and usually in shorter increments.

Eating: Cohen is hungry every 1.5-3 hours during the day and eats each time he wakes up at night. He's had a few bottles from different family members just to get him used to it before going to daycare.

Temperament: In the last few weeks, Cohen has begun giving us some social smiles and coos, which we love! Ryan loves it when Cohen smiles at him or "talks" to him.  Cohen plays sometimes on his back on the playmat, batting at rings or toys, and he still hates tummy time.  He has a few fussy periods throughout the day, usually about an hour in the evening, and the best way we've found to sooth him is to pat his back while he looks over our shoulder, or to set him up on my knees so he can look around. Cohen seems to like his baths now that he can kick and splash a little more.

Activities: Cohen's been out and about more this month. He usually does great sleeping through church but is always crabby when we have Small Group at night. He'd gone to a few basketball games and usually accompanies me to the grocery store. He's spent some time with grandparents and has gone to daycare for a few hours during my doctor appointments.

Growth: Cohen is definitely filling out! I'll have an official height and weight later this week. He is wearing 3 month clothes but has grown out of a few 3 month sleepers already. His cheeks are very kissable and he still has a deep chin dimple. His eyes are still blue. Cohen's hair has starting lightening and falling out in the front except for a mohawk stripe down the middle!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cohen: 8 weeks

Basketball Game

On Tuesday night, all four of us headed to the MOC-FV vs. Sioux Center basketball game. I should learn my lesson to never put on my "final" shirt until right before we leave, and once again, Cohen spit up on my last clean purple shirt right before we left. Such is life. We arrived by the 4th quarter of the girls' game and made it all the way through the boys game. It was an exciting last few minutes, but the Dutch pulled out the W.  It is always so hard to find a seat and instead of being crowded with the carseat and everything, we opted for the corner on the visitor's side. Ryan did a great job at this game and didn't even pull out the ipod or the Skittles until late in the boys game.  Cohen did great sleeping through most of the game and Adam keeping him happy the last quarter by patting his back.

It was a late night, getting to bed at 10 on a school night, but Cohen ended up having his best night ever, sleeping from 11:00-5:30am and then again from 6:00-8:30am. Unfortunately, this didn't mean I got to sleep in a ton because we were supposed to have some workmen show up at our house at 8:00 so I got all ready much earlier than usual. Of course, it's now 10:00am and there is no sign of them, so I guess I'll just sit around and wait. So frustrating when I have to plan so carefully around Cohen's sleeping/eating schedule and have lots of errands to run and here I sit having no idea how long it will be until they show up. Oh well, at least I finally got some blogging done!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl

Adam and I haven't attended a Super Bowl party in a few years as we find watching with a group of people means we never really get to watch the game, the guys end up talking and the women end up chasing the kids or manning the kitchen, so I was just fine with staying home again this year.  We had cake and ice cream in the afternoon for my grandma's birthday and Ryan ended up falling asleep in the van on the 3-minute ride home (mid-fruit snack) so we just let him sleep from 5:00-6:30.

I made Super Nachos and then we woke up Ryan for some pizza, which he and Adam enjoyed at his table. (Well, Ryan enjoyed. Not sure this was Adam's favorite way to watch football.)

Ryan asked to go to bed again at 8:00, so we had a pretty low-key night.  Cohen enjoyed watching the game too although he wondered a little about what was going on with the 35-minute blackout.

 I was kind of hoping for a 49-er comeback, but ultimately didn't care that the Ravens won. We were just glad it was an exciting game worth watching!
I didn't see all the commercials with the running of food, putting kids to bed, and switching to other channels during the blackout, but I do agree with many others that the Dodge Ram ad featuring Paul Harvey's monologue on "So God Made a Farmer" was the runaway winner this year.