January 17, 2018

Does this mean I need to wear pants?

Last year was the year of the stay at home me. I didn't work for a single day (unless you count my failed craft show) and got paid to stay home with the kids. It was lovely but the real world hit and, while I don't necessarily have to work for us to survive, if we want to maintain our lifestyle or have any extra money I really do. I don't actually mind working. I enjoy getting out of the house, and I'm one of those horrendous mothers that actually needs time away from her children. It's good for them, good for me, and good for our bank account.

Because 2017 was such a chaotic year, I actually ended up sending Parker to the sitter's (aka a friend's house) for three hours a week. I didn't really realise it but I was dealing with some anxiety that was manifesting through some physical symptoms. As soon as I started taking Thursday mornings for Molly and I those symptoms pretty much went away. Parker is a sweet child, but he's two. I'm not at all blaming him for my anxiety, but it was easier to get on top of it when I had a break. We also live far away from our families and I never got a chance to have any time with just Molly. It was also, and still is, incredibly valuable for me to have a few hours to spend with just Molly, put her down for a nap, then hammer some stuff off my to-do list around the house. My only regret is that I didn't think to do it sooner.

I started looking for jobs in November with a goal of starting mid-January. I've been working in government for several years and their hiring process can take a while. I also wanted to find something part-time that would be a good fit for us and me. There wasn't a big rush for me to start working again, so I could explore my options. 

I applied for so many jobs and only heard back from one. It ended up being the only job I was really excited about. I interviewed right before Christmas and they offered me the job last week. It was posted as a part-time position (hurray!) but will actually be full-time. While waiting for their offer, my old office called to offer me some vacation coverage hours. I wasn't expecting to get the job and, with the new casual offer on the table, was kind of hoping they were a pass. I got the call last Tuesday, the day before Molly's birthday, that they wanted me. It's way too good of an opportunity to pass up so I accepted, then spent the whole afternoon crying about it.

I'm happy I've got an opportunity to fill the position, but sad because it means working 8-5 every day and I'm not emotionally ready to leave Molly. She still wakes up at night. A week ago she was still nursing four-five times a day. She's my teeny tiny baby and nowhere near as independent as Parker was at her age. She still doesn't crawl.

So guess how fun this last week has been? Sorry, Molly, but it's been an intensive week of night sleep training and day weaning. She's done okay at the weaning, but decided to be contrary and work on her first teeth. Guess how nights are going? It's okay, I'm just raising a little drug addict now. I figure we're all in for sleep training this week and if it still hasn't taken by the time I start work we'll just consider it a lost cause.

If you're judging me right now I'll stop you right there. Child number one was so. very. easy. Parker slept like a dream. When we sleep trained him it worked and that was that. I have always tried not to judge other moms, but I seriously thought that parents that said their kids wouldn't sleep train just weren't doing it right. There was a small amount of judgement there on my side. 

Not anymore. I can't believe how different my two kids are in pretty much every little thing. If having Baby Parker was an ego boost on my superior parenting skills, Molly and Toddler Parker have served to humble me so much.

So there you have it. Change number one of 2018 is that I start a new job on Monday. There are a lot of good things about starting work, but I think the hardest transition is going to be for me, not being able to wear sweatpants all day every day. Lord, beer me strength.

January 02, 2018

I see you, 2017.

November and December got away from me, as time sometimes tend to do. All of 2017 kind of did. I blogged a grand total of 15 times last year. Compare that to 32 in 2016, 44 in 2015, 43 in 2014, 49 in 2013, 205 in 2012, and three times in 2011. I wasn't going to count back through my entire blogging "career" thus far, but it was kind of addictive so I couldn't help myself. In case you lost track, that makes this my 377th presently available post on this blog. Over the last six years there have been a post or two that have been deleted or archived for the greater good but, like some of my older stuff, they probably aren't worth remembering anyway.

If you're worried that this little retrospective is the prelude to my retirement, don't be. You're still here so you're clearly still invested (bless you). Dear friend, you can take comfort knowing that I have no intention of retiring Make Mine Decaf. I, too, am still here and I'm not going anywhere.

2017 proved to be a year of chaos. I'm not one to decide on a word for the year until after the fact (mostly because I really don't care) but at one point I thought my word of the year might be "sprinkles." I used a lot of sprinkles in the first half of the year and it brought me a lot of joy. Who can't find joy in rainbow sprinkles? Serial killers, that's who.

But, no, sprinkles didn't make the final cut. "Chaos" did, though.

I've never been big on New Year's resolutions. (Except for the one year in high school I didn't eat McDonald's for an entire year and beyond. For the record, it wasn't very hard.) I find January 1st to be an arbitrary date on the calendar that doesn't really mean much. Of course everyone plans on eating better but it's hard not to after the food marathon that is December (more on that later) but, other than that, nothing really changes.

I finished off 2016 with a bold statement: Bring it, 2017. Three days later I kind of started to regret that.

It didn't matter in the end, because Molly was born healthy and screaming but there was no denying that 2017 showed up and made a point that it wasn't just going to be an arbitrary date. (I sometimes think of last year as The Year of Molly, but that's kind of unfair to Parker so we won't pursue it any further.)

Spending an entire calendar year at home with two really little kids proved to be nothing short of chaotic. There's a lot more that can be said about that, but for now just believe me when I tell you that an 18.5 month age gap (I know, I can't let go of the .5. It feels important.) is straight up chaos. Looking back I'm not sure how I did it. At times it felt like an incredibly long year, but now it all seems like a big blur of sleep deprivation and decaffeinated coffee.

I had to let go of a lot of expectations in 2017. Molly, although incredibly sweet, is just not the easy baby that Parker was. We're a week away from her first birthday and I'm still really hoping we get her sleeping through the night by then. Forget next week's cake, that would be the best belated push present ever. I'm not holding my breath.

I've learned a lot about myself as a wife, mother, and person this year. If that sounds cliched it's because it is, but kids wreck you, guys, and I'm one good cry away from pouring my heart out in a deeply sincere Instagram post that ends with a #blessed.

On that note, I feel like I should appologize for treating my IG as a blog. And for just calling it my IG. I've been prioritizing my time lately and, it may not seem like it, but when I blog it takes about an hour to get a post out. This is partially because of the novellas I write, but also because when I'm only posting once a month I feel like my content needs to be a little more thought out than it was in 2012, the year of plenty. On Instagram it's so much faster, easier, and I don't need to consciously neglect my kids while doing it. I Instagram on my phone and blog on my laptop. It's easier to hold a phone over your head and out of your toddler's reach than a computer.

This past year has been hard in a lot of ways. There's been a lot of joy, but also struggles. The year didn't start off as planned and our new baby was more complicated than I'd expected. (Apparently it wasn't my superior parenting skills that made baby Parker so easy.)  There was also tragedy and heartache, parenting woes, and minor health issues.

I made a lot of new friends, found a new rhythm in our day to day lives, and kept two tiny people (never mind Karl and I) alive and well. If survival is how you determine success, then I'd say it was a good year. It wasn't a bad year, but I'm not sorry to see the back of 2017. Onward and upward to the future, where hopefully we all get to sleep through the night and Parker learns how to give foot rubs.

The coming year is likely going to be Chaos 2.0. There are big changes heading our way and with them comes a lot of stress. I anticipate that the next six months will give me a lot of grey hair and bigger eye wrinkles. (Seriously, when did I get old enough to wrinkle?) I'm really looking forward to the last half of 2018, though, because in my mind it involves a lot of sleeping.

So cheers to 2017 for the good and the bad and the babies. Thank you and goodbye. And cheers to 2018 for exciting new things, the terrifying unknown, and the year I blog more than I ever have in Molly's life.

November 03, 2017

Recent happenings

- I made a mobile for Molly's room when she was brand new. (I just realized we're almost 10 months in and I still haven't posted about her room. I know you're all dying to see it. I've taken photos, I just forget about them. Someday, friends.) I got the idea from Pinterest, and I got so many compliments on it that I thought it would be fun to make some to sell.

A much craftier friend than me suggested we do a craft show together. I spent most of September preparing for it, and explored my limited creativity to make some other mobiles, too. We decided it would likely be a one and done show, but we made a Facebook page and Angi saved us by making us some business cards so we didn't die out after the show. The show was fun and my friend sold a few things, but I don't think we'll do another.

- Parker is obsessed with Moana. My toddler has an idol. I downloaded a few of the songs for him and they are always stuck in my head. Fortunately, I don't actually mind Moana. It's a good movie, with a good moral, and the music doesn't make me want to rip my ears off. Every time I hear the song at the end of the movie, the "I am Moana" song, I get emotional. Every. single. time. And we listen to that song a lot. Thanks, Disney.

- October was hard month for Molly. She wasn't feeling great and it all kind of came to head this week when she got a cold and added suspected teething to it all. When Parker had days like that we'd just hit the couch and wait it out. I miss those days. Now we just try to survive.

Because she's been feeling not so great for a while, I put off sleep training Molly. A couple weeks ago she was up every hour for three nights in a row. I think that when it's time to sleep train you'll know, and I kind of knew then. It ended up being easier to do than I'd expected and I got five blissful nights without her. Parker, naturally, started waking up every night, something he hasn't done for almost two years, so that was fun. Because of the horrible pain trifecta sleep has gone out the window again. But, whatever, I know it can be done, and little miss has something coming for her this weekend. Assuming that something isn't teeth, of course.

- My Keurig is currently soaking a descaling vinegar bath and all I can think of is how much I want another cup of coffee. The struggle is real. 

- Karl wanted to take Parker trick or treating this year. I could not care less about Halloween now that I can't have Reese's, but I figured Karl wanted to get some free candy and Parker would be really cute. We got him a chicken/pimp costume if he refused to do up the jacket. I also scored Molly a flamingo costume at the thrift store for $6 so we decided to dress both kids up.

Molly had a hard day Tuesday but chippered up for the evening. Parker, on the other hand, cried every time we brought his costume near him. So he took his Darth Vader bucket door to door, dressed as a selfish toddler, and said "you're welcome" to everyone that gave him candy. He really got into the swing of things, but fortunately hasn't asked to do it again.

- I've decided to give up desserts for November. I think we need a break from each other for a while. You know, just some time apart to rekindle the fire in our relationship and get our priorities in check. When you have too much of a good thing it a) shows, and b) makes it less meaningful. My sister in law got excited about it and has convinced half her family to join in. I've got a couple other friends that jumped on board, too. I wasn't planning on making it a big deal, but clearly we need t-shirts (a size smaller than usual) and a hashtag. I'm thinking #nocaketilChristmas. It's a work in progress.

- We woke up to snow the morning of November 1st and just like that, all joy was sucked out of the world. Just kidding, but I still haven't taken Parker outside to play in it and he's going a little stir crazy. The problem is, I can't just throw him in the backyard in this weather and ignore him from inside. I should probably keep an eye on him because of hypothermia or abominable snow men. Friends, I'm from the west coast. We do not snow. I'm hiding in the kitchen while he plays with my blender (take a breath, it's not plugged in) on the other side of the cabinets.

- Now that it's November I need to start thinking about getting a job for January. Even typing those words gave me an intense amount of anxiety. I'm not made of the tough stuff that stay at home moms are, but I have a million feelings about starting a new job in a couple months and leaving my kids with someone else, and most of them involve synonyms for anxiety. This mother of two thing is Hard. 

- A friend recently told me she's expecting her third child and all I could think was, "WHY?" I love my kids, but I'm fairly certain that if I added another to the mix I would lose my mind. Case in point, Parker just put the plug for the toaster in his ear. He also put my hairbrush in the toilet this morning for the second time.

- I went for all you can eat sushi for the first time on Wednesday and I'm not sure why I'd never done it before. Not only was it incredible, but you got to order off an iPad right at the table. Technology! Next time you come visit, we need to go there. Karl "hates" (read: has never tried) sushi.

- I never go out for supper, but it's a wild week so I'm going out with my mom group tonight once the kids are in bed. I don't care how much snow is on the ground, there are fish tacos and a mojito calling my name. Especially because family flu shots are on the agenda beforehand. This group of strangers is helping keep me sane through the most chaotic year of my life and we're finally having our first kid-free outing.

- Have you seen Life in Pieces? It's my new favourite. I laugh out loud every time. I'm bouncing between that and rewatching The Office during naptime.

- Karl has to work every sixth Saturday and tomorrow is one of those days. I give myself a break from parenting on those days and we just watch movies. I might actually get us out in the snow in the morning if it's not too cold, but then it's Shrek all morning. Or Moana if I lose the arm wrestle.

- Finally, I joined a Zumba class. I've tried it a few times before and felt like a major fool, but this time is different. Maybe it's the lack of a mirror to see myself in, the larger class size, or the fact that I'm hiding in the back with a friend, but I love it. My moves leave something to be desired, but I take some satisfaction in knowing that I haven't fallen on my face yet. Close, but not yet.