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Turner’s first Christmas is in the books

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday with their families. We certainly did! With Turner being only seven months old, I didn’t expect much out of his first Christmas. He can’t really open presents, the lights of the tree didn’t really awe him, and we couldn’t play any fun Elf on the Shelf games, but despite being skeptical, it was a wonderful first Christmas.

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My house currently looks like Santa threw up on it. The Christmas tree, which is still up, has spread pine needles all over the floor, we have toys and clothes scattered all over the place, and left over cookies and food is stuffed in any cabinet we can find. I think the mess is a good indicator of how much fun we enjoyed as a family and let everything else go.

Our amazing family and friends got Turner more toys than he could possible ever even realize he has. He may be able to give each one of them at least one good play by next Christmas. He was definitely spoiled rotten.

I was afraid of what this Christmas would be like, considering it was the first Christmas since my dad died. I was really afraid I would be sad and not be able to enjoy all that I have been blessed with, but I wasn’t sad. I felt comforted, as if my dad was right there with us. Last Christmas my dad got Turner a set of rattles. I saved them and this Christmas wrapped them up and let Turner open them for himself. It was nice to still have a piece of my dad here. I plan to of course save the rattles and have threated Andrew with his life not to throw away the box. Since dad died before Turner was born, those toys were the only thing my dad was ever able to get for Turner. They are more important to me than I could possibly ever explain. After Christmas with my family, I went to my dad’s gravesite. I wanted to take Turner there, but he was sleeping so I went by myself. I haven’t found full closure yet, but being able to go there and talk to my dad helps a little each time.

Andrew said for the beginning that he wanted one of Turner’s big gifts this Christmas was to be a rocking horse. So Andrew picked one out and even though Turner has some growing to do, I can tell he is going to love it. I also love the fact that Turner can save it and give it to his own child one Christmas. I am a lush for things like that.

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Presents weren’t the only thing Santa brought this year, he also delivered me a nasty cold. I am not quite over it yet, as I sit here hacking at my desk, but I am definitely on the mend. Luckily, Turner has seemed to pretty much avoid it other than some congestion that has him frustrated.

All in all it was a perfect holiday from start to finish. Time with family and friends is the perfect medicine for the soul. Without a doubt, this Christmas has reaffirmed how blessed I am.

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Oh, and tomorrow hopefully I will have time to post photos from Turner’s seven month, New Years themed birthday party we are throwing him tonight!

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The riddle of who to buy gifts for on Christmas

Side note: When I left for work this morning, Turner had not woken up for the day yet. Probably because around 5 a.m. this morning he decided to have a little party in his crib, but to leave for the day and not see him, heart breaking. I always at least get a few kisses, but this morning had to settle for a smooch on his head. I am sure this will happen more and more as he gets used to our new schedules, but I don’t like it one bit. So I have decided, I am probably only going to work a half day because there is no way I can go until 5:30 p.m. without seeing him. No way.

So, I need some advice (like always). What is the gift giving etiquette for Christmas when you have children? So far, there are several people who have gotten Turner Christmas presents, not me and Andrew,Turner. Do I give these people gifts? I know it is just for Turner and in the past they haven’t ever gotten Andrew or I gifts, but with this being the first Christmas with a baby, its different. I just don’t know what protocol is.

If it were up to me I would give everyone a present. I love giving gifts. I love being the reason someone smiles. Andrew thinks its weird and that I make people feel awkward if I give them gifts without getting one in return because it makes them feel bad for not getting me one.

For example, my best friend for the last 20 years (since we are about 5 or 6) came to visit from New York this weekend. It was her first time visiting Turner and with it being the holidays, she got him tons of awesome gifts that he just loved. While she and I do care packages for birthdays on occasion, we don’t really exchange Christmas gifts. But going to her family’s house on Sunday empty handed, knowing that she had gifts for Turner, made me feel awful. I feel like I should have gotten her something. But if I got her something, then she would feel obligated to get me something and the cycle never ends. I don’t feel obligated to give anyone a gift. Like I said earlier, I love giving gifts and would and actually do, get gifts for strangers if I think they need or appreciate them. But I just cannot get a grip on the protocol for this type of thing. (This is a prime example of what Andrew calls me thinking too much)

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Like we do every year, we will be going to have Christmas with Andrew’s stepfamily. They are amazing people and I absolutely love all of them. While we plan to get gifts for Andrew’s grandparents and great grandparents, there is a shady area on the rest of the family. If it was up to me, I would get his aunts and cousins gifts as well. Andrew said he has never gotten them gifts and doesn’t think he should. Well this year is a bit different because his Aunt had an adorable baby girl this year. So naturally, I want to get the baby a gift. Andrew liked the idea, so we did. But the problem we have now is, Andrew’s aunt has an older son, a teenager, and I do not know if we get him a gift. Andrew said he hasn’t ever gotten the teenager a gift and doesn’t know what to get him. I think its courtesy, plus, I like buying gifts. I cannot predict if Andrew’s aunt will get us a gift or if she will get Turner a gift, but I know her parents will, so its the polite thing to do, right? (If Andrew’s family is reading this, that may make things a bit awkward, and just pretend like you haven’t seen it, and if you were not planning on getting a gift, don’t feel obligated either)

It is all rather confusing. Turner’s God parents gave Turner a precious gift at church on Sunday. While I already have a gift for them, not just because they are Turner’s God parents, but they are also my pastor and his wife and Ruby’s (my sister) in-laws. Generally I wouldn’t have gotten them a gift, but I came across something at the store that I thought fit them just right so I got it. If that hadn’t been the case, since they got Turner a gift, does etiquette call for me to get them one in return?

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If anyone would like to solve this riddle for me, feel free because I am stumped!

 

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Finding a way to sleep soon is a must

I understand I have been neglecting my blog, blame it on the move, the new job, the holidays, whichever you need to, but really all apply.

So, while this seems to be a reoccurring theme on my blog, here is yet another post about my complete lack of sleep and how it is driving me crazy. With the new job, came new work hours. We are getting up an hour earlier, and it has thrown Turner for a loop. Right when he got used to sleeping in the new house, I changed his routine, and so now he has released the demons on me and is completely preventing me from sleeping longer than 30 minutes at a time.

To be fair, I sleep great from 9 until midnight. But I hate that I am having to go to sleep at 9, miss time with Turner and Andrew, just to get any form of solid sleep, but its my only option as of late. Take last night for example, because our schedules are a bit shifted, we couldn’t keep Turner up later than 8:30 p.m. despite our efforts. Even before putting him down for the night, Andrew warned what trouble that would bring me in the night, and that is exactly what it did.

I slept until about 11 p.m., then every 30 to 45 minutes I was up with Turner. Only twice to actually feed him, one of which was paired with a  diaper change, which usually never happens, but I am assuming the time shift is not just messing with Turner’s sleep schedule. After a diaper change, a feeding, and then restless laying in bed for what seemed like hours on end trying to solve world hunger in my head, I was able to get to sleep for what amounted to a whopping 30 minute sprint before Turner woke me up.

Andrew conveniently sleeps through it all (or at least acts like he does). And when I was complaining about it this morning, his solution was for me just to sleep through it as well, which is nothing short of wishful thinking. If Turner so much as rolls over in the other room it seems to wake me up. Sometimes I stay in bed, hoping he will figure out whatever it is that woke him up, fix his blanket or find his pacifier, then go back to sleep. But after so much time and being completely woken up instead of being able to remain in a zombie like sleep state, I reluctantly crawl out of bed and go to Turner’s room. Generally my nightly visits are nothing more than finding his pacifier for him or cranking up the mobile. While these minute or less visits are simple, having the occur every 30 minutes has been excruciating. Every once of my being wants to down some Nyquil and call it a night, but I know that is just not an option. But I have to sleep.

I am sure this first week on the job I have seemed so out of it, but I just can’t help it. Its hard to fake being alert. Coffee has seemingly replaced the blood in my veins and I have drank so much caffeine, I may be able to see electricity, but the connections in my brains are just too tired to make any sense.

Someone come make him sleep. Or convince me its ok to spike his bottle with a good old fashion drop or two of whiskey ( I am only joking.. at least for another day or so…). I welcome any and all advice. I even tried bringing him to bed with me and Andrew, but by 3 a.m. he had already woken up five times. I am at the end of my rope and am far too tired to hold on much longer.

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Just a quick post about a newly discovered mom superpower! Like all forward thinking, rational people, I am terrifies of spiders. Not any spider, but ones that are large enough to give me a light back ride yes those are horrifying! 

Well, I was getting ready to feed the dogs the other morning and what comes scurrying across the floor? Because of the ginormous size, I first thought it was a small adult baby in a spider costume, but the. quickly realized it was an actual spider. To my surprise, I didn’t run screaming away, but instead, in true relentless murderer fashion, I shamelessly beat the spider to death.

The second I saw the spider the only thing I could think about was how my son crawls on that floor and it just was NOT big enough for the both of them. I went into mother bear mode and before I could even feel a flicker of fear, I did what I needed to do to protect my sweet, innocent baby bear. 

Mom superpower: knowing no fear when your little prince is in danger! 

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Making memories this Christmas

A small idea I had last year made me so thankful this Christmas. I don’t know where I saw it, I am sure it was on Facebook, or Pintrest or someone else’s blog, but when we were decorating the Christmas tree last night, an ornament in the very bottom of the bin made me so happy. 

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When we took down last year’s Christmas tree, before tossing it in the trash, I had Andrew saw off the bottom of the tree, so the following year (this year) I could turn it into an ornament. I had completely forgotten about it, but after all the other ornaments were hung, the piece of wood reminded me of last year and mine and Andrew’s first Christmas together. I was so excited to remember last year and so happy I thought to save that piece of the tree. 

This year, I plan to save the bottom of the tree again so we will have a piece of the first tree Turner ever had. I have debated about if I want to do it every year. If we did it each year, and write a special memory on each ornament, eventually, years done the road, we will have enough for the entire tree to be decorated with nothing but memories from past Christmases. I think I like the idea. It was something so simple, and didn’t cost a dime. 

Turner didn’t have any great reaction when we turned the lights on for the first time, but he does like to look at them. I can only imagine how difficult it is going to be next year when we he is crawling around and getting into everything! 

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Juggling housework and parenting

First, I just want to thank everyone who took the time to read my last blog post. While it was one of the most personal things I have blogged about, I am grateful to have a blog community to share my story with. Today’s post is going to be a little more on track with things I have learned since becoming a mother.

Everyone always has advice for new parents. Even when you are no longer considered a “new parent” there is always someone who has a better way for you to be doing something. In all the advice I have received since becoming a parent to my son Turner six months ago, no one was kind enough to give me the heads up about attempting to keep a house clean, work a full-time job, AND keep a happy baby. That is some advice, I wish someone would have shared!

Before becoming a parent, my house would slowly get cluttered day to day and then about once a week, or once every two weeks, I would spend an entire Saturday sprucing the place up. I would designate a day for cleaning and get the job down in a couple of hours, all in one day.

Well, as a parent, I am sure you are well aware that it would be pure magic if you had an entire day to devote to anything, in fact, I wish I had a couple of consecutive hours to devote to anything! But, it is just not possible. Part of being a parent is also finding the abilities to be a master planner. And whereas, 24 hours in a day, which if you are like me, you are probably awake for a good 19 hours a day. But even that, is not enough time. So I have found it easier to look at things in the big picture. Instead of trying to keep cleaning to a days time, I think on a much larger scale… I take the whole month. Just the comforting thought of having a month to clean my house, is enough encouragement, but even with 30 days to do the work, you still have to space it out.

I try to break my cleaning schedule down to plan to do about 25 minutes of cleaning every day. Sometimes that cleaning gets done at 3 a.m. after Turner wakes up to feed, but between working full-time and running around with him, sometimes thats the only free time I have!

Get a piece of paper and write down one task to accomplish a day. Here is an example:

Day one: Clean toilets

Day two: Vacuum and sweep living room

Day three: Deep clean kitchen

Day four: Clean porch

Day five: Clean bathrooms

I am sure there are not 30 things that need to be done, so if you come up with 15, you can repeat the list throughout the month to let everything get done twice. That also gives you an easy out, if the porch is clean by the second time it comes up on the list, you get a day off. And months with 31 days, thats a little reward for some “you” time as well.

Doing a little bit everyday is not always enough. There are things such as laundry, dishes, the things tossed in front of the door every afternoon, that really pile up and can clutter a home quick. You have to have a plan to tackle those things too. But as long as you have a plan, and stick to it, the house doesn’t seem so big and impossible to keep up with it.

The best thing you can do for your kitchen is wash the dishes after every meal. It is a lot easier to find five minutes to clean off a handful of dishes, then to spend 30 minutes a week tackling the monster in the kitchen sink.

While it may not seem cost effective, the time saved by doing smaller loads of laundry is invaluable. My entire life I have always waited until I had a “super” load of clothes before I would do laundry. Now, understanding the time it takes to get those clothes washed, then having to break it down into four drying cycles because no dryer can handle drying a “super” load of clothes on one wash, I find it to be easier to stay ahead of clothes when broken down into smaller loads. Its also way less mentally exhausting to put away a small load of shirts, versus every dirty cloth in the house. Another trick I have found it to group dirty clothes together. Wash kids clothes at once, or a load of towels. That way, you aren’t going from room to room to put it away or running around trying to find hangers and the right drawers. Its much easier to plan to do a small load of towels, or a load of kids clothes then a mass pile of whatever anyone threw in the hamper.

Its innate for us to empty our pockets and our arms as soon as we entire the door at home. We just want to unload whatever baggage we had from the day. That usually leads to a cluster of junk in the front of the house, and if not tackled right away, just keeping all the things sorted becomes a full time job. Its a lot easier said than done to put this area of the house off limits. We are all going to continue to unload as soon as we walk in the door. Whether its shoes, jackets, or backpacks, its inevitable. To keep this area of the house condensed, designate an area by the door to unload. By doing that, things don’t get as spread out, and it will be a lot easier to scoop up and clean up later.

Being a parent is only about 30 percent caregiver. The job is combined with parts housekeeper, master scheduler, chef, chauffeur, and whatever odds and ends we found ourselves becoming experts at. Whatever our children we need, we find a way to do, no matter how difficult. Sometimes, we even surprise ourselves when we are able to make the seemingly impossible a reality.