We “Leveled Up” As Parents

Christmas came and went. Christmas really is completely different when you experience it through the eyes of your children.

Last year, our little girl was only a baby. She didn’t really understand what was going on. This year, with a toddler? So sweet.

We got our daughter a tricycle. My husband put it together in the garage and we put it next to the tree after she went to sleep on Christmas Eve.

Her face when we put her on it! I thought I would melt, she was so happy.

Of course, it has been pouring all yesterday and today, so we haven’t got to take her out on it since Christmas, but still…

It is adorable to watch her, but really reiterates how quickly she is growing up.

Just ignore me as a sob in the corner over my baby getting so big.

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Thanksgiving Break is Serving as My Sick Day

Teachers are given very few sick days each year. We work with children (who bring every disease EVER into our classrooms year-round) and these days count for when we are sick/have jury/go on vacation/etc. If you use all of your days and then you need to take another day for any reason, it gets deducted from your pay. There is a nice feature where some of your days are eligible to be “rolled over” into the next school year if you do not use them (even if you change districts, they follow you); these are the days appointed by the state, the other days are appointed by the the local district and do not roll over. This was very convenient when I had my baby, because I had saved up those days since I started teaching (we were trying to have a baby for quite awhile) and was able to get paid for three and a half weeks of my maternity leave.

Teachers will therefore try to save their “state” days to roll-over in case you ever want to go on vacation/have another baby/whatever. Since “local” days do not roll over and expire at year’s end, teachers use all the local days first.

Last year I used all of my sick days because I had a newborn. She had pediatrician appointments. She would get a fever and I would have to go get her from daycare. She was sick with an ear infection. Teething would cause her so much discomfort.

My husband and I are both trying to save up sick days as best as we can for this same reason this year. We rarely take sick days for ourselves unless we have to.  Something like the flu. Bronchitis.

I have already used two this year: one for a mental day after a really bad depressive episode that has led me to change therapists; the other the day I took my GRE.

I am still immensely sick, though. I am trying so hard to not have to take another sick day since break is only 8 school days away. DON’T WASTE A DAY NOW. The baby hasn’t needed me to take any days yet, but goodness knows that the moment I use up all of my days will be the time when she gets really sick and then I will get docked pay to stay home with her. Isn’t that a proven fact? You use all of something thinking that you have enough and then find out you totally did not have enough?

Yes, I know people may think “But it is only one day you would take. How can that be that big of a deal in the end?”

Because the school year calendar is in no way actually two equal semesters. The fall semester is 16 weeks of in-class days. The spring semester is either 20 or 21. We are in week 11. Mathematically, I am not even a third of the way through the actual school days. Winter is not in full force here. My toddler is in daycare. The percentage of her getting sick over the next three months is statistically high (and would match up all of her colds and bugs from last year, which she kindly gave us as well).

Plus, it is only eight more days of teaching. EIGHT.

Surely I can make it, right?

I am a woman. I am used to being sick and not getting to take a break. To still having to do things at work, for the kids, around the house, function. Insert stereotypical “man-cold” comparison joke here and you get the point.

But, man. Please get here, break.

My Toddler Climbs Stuff

Apparently I am raising a mini dare devil.

Yesterday morning, I was washing my face and suddenly………

THUD.

Silence.

“Wahhhhhhhhhh!”

I sprinted into her nursery, and there was my baby sprawled out on the floor.

She had tried to climb out of her crib. And succeeded. She just didn’t stick the landing.

After being cuddled and kissed and checked over a million times, she was fine. We are planning on dropping the crib to the lowest level today. I was nervous about it not being done yesterday, but we just didn’t have time. Thankfully, she did not attempt any overnight climbs.

Later that morning, she decided it was important to try to climb up onto her play kitchen when she was playing with her daddy. My toddler is very small, but the kitchen was not built to hold 20 pounds of toddler.

It tipped.

She fell.

She conked her head on the corner of the play refrigerator.

I was in the office and heard a loud wail from the living room. I went running in and there was already a huge goose egg forming on her head. The swelling subsided within an hour, but there is still a bruise.

That afternoon, she decided to try to climb up onto my exercise bike. She fell and scratched her face twice right on each side of her nose. No bleeding, but two big scratches.

The scratches and the cuts make her look like she got into a fight this weekend. I can only imagine what her daycare thinks, her coming in all banged up.

You would think that all of these accidents in one day would maybe teach her to stop climbing so recklessly.

You would be wrong. She scales things with abandon.

You might also think that we are doing a terrible job of supervising her.

You would also be wrong. I was literally sitting on the floor with her in my lap and within 3 seconds she had climbed onto the exercise bike pedal. Despite me reaching over to grab her, she managed to climb it and fall from it that quickly.

Girl is fearless.

Apparently, girl is also clumsy.

Another Work Conference

But not me. My husband.

He left this morning. He will be gone throughout the week.

We FaceTimed him just before bedtime and I could see that he was getting some idea of what I went through a few weeks back.

You don’t think it will be hard. It’s only a few days, after all. But she is growing up SO FAST. She is a full-fledged toddler now. She is just obsessed with running all over the house and trying to climb everything, all while chattering away.

Meanwhile, I will see pictures of her on “this day last year” and she was SOOOOO TINY.

So yes, it sucks to be away from her for even a handful of days since you don’t know how much she will have changed.

We are starting to teach her to swim, too. She loves being in the pool. I also am looking into some form of gymnastics class for her for fall.

I just want to make sure she has everything she needs. To be able to grow up knowing that she is capable of anything.

Uh oh. She just started crying. So for now I will make sure she knows that she can always snuggle with me when she has a bad dream.

Cooking is Important to Me, But Not to Him

He doesn’t mean to, but my husband occasionally makes me feel really terrible about myself.

Or maybe he does mean to.

Who knows, who cares.

I really love to cook. I blame it on my Italian heritage. My grandma always relished in cooking for her family and meals became more like parties. Good food, good conversation, good times. I was so looking forward to having a family that I could cook for myself.

Before I got married, I wasn’t too big on cooking on the daily. And I mean COOKING. Like, from scratch stuff. I don’t mean I never ate. In the sense that, I loved to cook but I never really saw myself as being enough of a reason to cook. So I would make super basic, super easy meals. Whenever given the chance, I would cook up a big meal for friends, like Friendsgiving. Cakes and cookies for birthday or celebrations. But when it was just me? Not worth it.

When my now husband and I got engaged and moved in together, I began cooking dinner for us. He had been living the bachelor life for so long that he stored stuff in his oven. I enjoyed getting to cook for him, for us.

Once we got married and I started teaching, time became scarcer. I still cooked for us, but I found a nice “menu” of 15-ish meals that I could rotate through on weeknights when time was harder to come by. I could try out new recipes on the weekend and see if I was able to add them into the rotation.

For the record, my husband hates almost all vegetables. I’d try to incorporate them in different ways, but most of the time, it was all for naught. Since he would often throw them out, it seemed a waste to buy zucchini just for me. (Yes, there is that thought again.) The rotation was healthy-ish but not as healthy as it could be, without additional veggies.

Our daughter is 15 months and eats what we eat. She is an excellent eater. She will try everything. I make it a point of her seeing that we are eating the same things as her and we all eat together. I want her to be healthy, so I have been replacing many of the old “stand-bys” with meals that have protein, starch/carbs, vegetables. We have fruit for dessert.

I have read so much about how important it is for her to be given a wide array of foods early. For her to see us also eating these healthy foods. To not see disordered eating. As someone who has battles eating disorders, this is a big deal to me.

My mom is incredibly skinny. Like uncomfortably thin. The large reason for that now is due to medications she is on, but she was skinny when I was a kid, too. She didn’t think she was. She would make dinner for my brothers and me, and she might have a small salad. Or cottage cheese. I grew up seeing her do a plethora of diets. She always was trying to lose weight. I became a teenager and my body changed. I was not a skinny mini like my mother. I was curvy. Yet I had spent my whole childhood hearing that she wasn’t skinny. Oh God. I must have been a cow.

I stopped eating. I developed anorexia. There were times I would pass out. I got into trouble for this. So when I felt like I was bout to pass out, I gorged to curb it. Then I would feel guilty and throw up later. I developed bulimia.

I ended up hospitalized for a short while. I am constantly aware of this still, in the sense that I will make myself eat something (even just a protein pack) if it has been too long since I have eaten. By keeping myself on a pretty regimented schedule, I don’t let myself fall back to these old patterns.

But this is not the point. So I will get back on track.

I do not want my daughter to see this. So we all eat the same thing at dinner. When I make us breakfast on the weekends, we all eat the same thing. She will see that it is alright to eat healthy!

I give my husband the smallest portion of vegetables out of the three of us and he still doesn’t finish them most of the time. Eye rolls for days, but still not the point today.

I have mentioned to him several times that the honest highlight of my day is our dinner time together. I love to cook for my family and eat with my family. Cooking is my love language to them.

My husband made an off hand comment tonight about how dinner was prepared. I told him what it was because I was just trying to engage in conversation and be a part of something. He went off on me saying that meant I was trying to correct him all the time because all I ever do is correct him and who cares, it’s just food anyways.

Oh.

It didn’t occur to him that this felt like he was essentially saying that I am wasting my time cooking for them. That food is such a small, insignificant thing. That my loving contribution amounts to nothing. It would be just as fine for me to throw together something in 30 seconds and yell out “Slop’s on!”

It hurt. It also made me feel really lonely.

Old me would have just stopped cooking. Let him figure out what he wants for dinner himself. But it isn’t like I can just NOT cook tomorrow. My daughter needs to eat.

I felt really underappreciated for something that I thought I was doing as a sign of love.

This House Elf will just go back to the dirty corner I sleep in, hoping that someday Master will recognize me as an equal.

 

Father’s Day is Hard

I made it through my conference. It was hard and it reaffirmed that I am officially the worst at making friends. But I will tackle that issue another day. Maybe tomorrow? Anyway, today I want to talk about my dad.

My dad and I have a weird relationship. We have a weird history to go with it.

  • My parents divorced when I was about 8.
  • They had a nasty divorce with a long, drawn out custody battle for my brothers and I.
  • When I was about 9, I found my dad doing something that I do not want to go into, but just know that even as a 9-year-old I knew it was wrong.
  • We ended up with a custody split about 60/40 mom/dad.
  • As a teenager I still didn’t have complete trust in my father.
  • I also was going through a rather rebellious phase as a teen.
  • My father and I got into a lot of arguments about my choices. One finally became too much.
  • He threw me out. I was 15.
  • I did not return to stay with my father from then on. I stayed with my mother full time.
  • My father and I did not speak again until I was about 21. I was moving out of state because I was transferring colleges. I had e-mailed him to let him know.
  • We slowly tried to repair our relationship.
  • Things were actually at an all-time high when I was in college. We communicated via phone and e-mail. I never saw him. But we were on good terms. I had grown up and so had he.
  • I got engaged and asked him to walk me down the aisle.
  • Moment of truth: I did not think he would say yes.
  • He did and I am very glad he did.
  • He walked me down the aisle and instead of a father/daughter dance, he played me a song on his guitar. It was the Iz rendition of “What a Wonderful World/Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. It was absolutely beautiful.
  • I (after a several-years-long battle) became pregnant.
  • While I was pregnant, we got into a heated conversation on the phone due to my father and my difference in religion.
  • We did not speak for awhile.
  • I called him after I gave birth to let him know he was a grandpa. His response? “Oh, yeah, your brothers told me.” I had called my mom and then him. My mom had informed my brothers. It wasn’t like I was calling him so much later. He quickly excused himself, without so much as a congratulations.
  • This pattern continued for awhile. I would try to call to tell him about his granddaughter. He would avoid the subject at all costs. When I had spent years saying I never wanted children (karma is awful, right?), he would always say that time would tell/I’d be a good mom/he couldn’t wait to be a grandpa. Now he was and he didn’t care.
  • It finally reached a breaking point when I texted him some pictures of my daughter. His response? “Got em”.
  • I cut off all contact at that point. I was sick of making myself upset over him. He knew my number if he wanted to reach me.
  • He called me one day, almost a year after my daughter was born. He wished me happy birthday. I let him know that it was my brothers’ birthday. We chatted about very superficial, topical things for about 10 minutes.
  • I have heard from him once more since. Another random 5 minute phone call.
  • He has never inquired about his granddaughter. He has made no show of interest in meeting her.

So I am having to relearn about Father’s Day. I need to wipe my slate clean of all the negative connotations the day has so I can celebrate it with my husband. He is an amazing father to our daughter. He deserves it.

And naturally I was not actually home on Father’s Day this year due to the conference. I clearly need to get better at this.

But I am trying.

We celebrated on Thursday. I made breakfast. We went out for lunch. I got specially made matching shirts/onesies for them.

I do want to keep improving, though. I need to let go of my issues with that day and make it about my daughter and her daddy.

The Tummy Bug Has Hit Our House

There is nothing worse than watching a tiny baby projectile throwing up. It was everywhere. And there was nothing I could do.

She woke up Friday night around midnight, bawling. I rush into the nursery just in time to see her throw up all over in her crib. This is the first time she has ever really thrown up (not counting major spit-ups when she was tiny). She was still groggy from being asleep, obviously not feeling well, and now confused by all this stuff everywhere. I quickly swept her up into my arms so she would stop rolling in it. Stripped her down, got her clean, changed her crib sheets, and got the laundry going.

She was still miserable and we followed a similar pattern the whole night. Since she didn’t want to be alone, we alternated holding her. We both got puked on multiple times. We just kept her in a diaper at this point, no jammies. Continuous cleaning, continuous laundry, continuous attempts to calm and comfort her.

She finally fell back asleep at 6:30. She was only able to sleep for an hour before the whole cycle started again.

We called our pediatrician and they asked us how soon we could get her there. We hustled the poor mini to the doctor’s office.

Apparently there is a bad stomach bug that has been going around the local pre-schoolers and the doctor says it has spread to the little siblings. Unfortunately, at this age, there is nothing we can do but let them slowly work it out of their systems. To try to combat dehydration, she is on Pedialyte and has one yogurt each night. Otherwise, we are supposed to let her eat and drink normally in the hopes that she can keep something down.

She refused solids all through the weekend. But she was drinking her Pedialyte and milk, and she would eat the yogurt.

Thankfully, she hasn’t gotten sick since Monday.

It was awful, though. She’d throw up and look up at me, crying, like “Mama, why aren’t you helping me?”

I’m so thankful she seems to be on the mend.

Unfortunately, my husband and I have now caught the bug.

But at least it isn’t her!