Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Excursions

We had a pretty low key Thanksgiving this year.  Since we are still living in the apartment we decided not to cook a big bird and all the fixins' (because that would heat the entire apartment) so instead we ordered a meal from Whole Foods and Brian's parents came up from FL to eat it with us.  Of course Monkey loved the food (and is continuing to eat it as we speak) and it was pretty good - but I still can't wait to make a homemade Thanksgiving in my double ovens next year.

While Brian's parents were here we had a little day trip out to Lake Lanier.  It's this beautiful lake about 1 hour north of Atlanta that has a couple of islands.  It's super popular in the summer with all of the water sports, but it was still beautiful to walk around in the winter.

Here is what it looked like when we went up:

Before we began our walk we had to do 2 things.  First Monkey fell in love with a stuffed dog he saw (and thus continues his dog obsession) so of course we had to buy it.  You'll see it in most of the following pictures.  Second, Monkey explored the pool area and of course ended up at the trash can (he is often drawn to trash cans - what does that mean?).

And then we were off.

Monkey walked all over the trails at the Lodge at Lake Lanier (and notice that he didn't always carry his own stuffed animal).

He got to ride on Daddy's shoulders.

And, we even found a slide for him to ride down with his doggie.

And of course the walk ended with Monkey finding a stick.

I love when we get to take Monkey on all these trips.  He gets to be outside and explore.  And I get to stand back and let him explore.  I've recently realized how important it is to me that Monkey see this world as something intriguing and exciting rather than something scary.  I want him to be excited about what he is doing now and what could happen next.  And my job is to be off to the side, supervising and ready to swoop in when real danger presents itself.  And I think Monkey appreciates this freedom.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Fork

Last week Monkey decided it was time to use a fork. He was very vocal about it so I gave him mine (I wasn't prepared with an age-appropriate fork in the house). And... you won't believe it... but he actually used it. He speared a piece of chicken and put it into his mouth. Now he gets his own fork at every meal. While he often uses it to smash the food or move it around, he does spear something about 4-5 times per meal.

Of course, I tried to get him using a fork on video and this is what I got:

By the way, if you know someone who has a messy eater, these bibs have saved my kitchen floor (and it's much less embarassing eating out now).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

15-month Peds Visit

We went to the pediatrician today (yippee).  I sometimes wonder about the intelligence of pediatricians.  Because I don't understand placing an almost-15-month old in an itty bitty room and then make them wait for 50 minutes.  I understand the doctor is busy and that other parents have questions and that children get sick and need emergency appointments... but then let me go back out into the big waiting room where there are more toys, a TV, and the outside world to entertain Monkey.  When I asked the nurse why they don't do this (because you see I'm called into the room on time for the nurse to weigh and measure monkey... then the doctor comes 50 minutes later) she said that would mean parents would need to re-dress their child and that would be inconvenient. Oh yeah, I get it.  That would be WAY more inconvenient that trying to convince Evan that the one book in the entire room is exciting over and over again.

Anyway, I have some shocking news to report.  I am the mother of a blondish, blue-eyed, tall and lean toddler.  I know your shock... but I swear I've checked with Brian on numerous occasions and he says that Monkey was never out of his sight from birth.  I mean, let's do a quick comparison:

You know what I'm saying? 

Anyway, here are his stats:

Weight: 21.8 lbs (38%) - I attribute this to the fact that even though he eats everything, he never stops moving... I mean never.

Height: 30.5 in (67%) - getting closer to me every day

Head: 19.2 in (99%) - yup, still huge, but I just don't see it

He also got a Hep B shot, Polio shot, and a flu shot.  He was such a trooper.  He cried after the stick but quickly got over it.  His legs must be sore though because when he touches them he winces.  My brave little, tall, blonde, blue-eyed, lean man.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For Nora

So, not sure if you are aware of it or not, but I'm an SAHM (as I'm called in the blogosphere or on the Internet).  To those of you not technically plugged in all the time, I'm a stay-at-home-mom. 

Recently a friend of mine asked me about my experience as a SAHM (I swear I didn't forget Nora).  She asked me about "my" experience because hers was a little different than mine.  She started out as a SAHM and decided to go back to work.  And I thought this might be a good post topic since I've run into people with so many different thoughts and ideas about it.

But, before you read on, let me give some information about this post.  This is not a post that will decide which is a better option for a mother.  I believe there are pros to being a SAHM and pros to being a mom that works outside the home (just to be fair, let's give them an acronym too - MWOH).  I believe there are cons to being a SAHM and cons to being a MWOH.  And I believe that the choice is personal to the individual and the family (for those where being a SAHM is actually a choice - for many people, sadly, it is not).

And another point, before you read on, if you are someone who comes to this post with the pre-conceived notion that being a SAHM is a cakewalk and the easy choice made by lazy people (and I have been told this) then you will not enjoy this post.  For me, and remember this is my story, well because, it's my blog and I can do whatever I want, being a SAHM is not an easy choice at all.

Let's start with how I got here.  When Brian and I met, one of our pre-marriage conversations was about children and whether or not I should stay home.  I wanted to stay home.  At that point in my life I had a job, not a career, and felt I could walk away from it easily.  My mom was a SAHM, my sister is a SAHM, and it just seemed to be the choice I wanted to make.  Brian agreed that he would prefer me to be a SAHM (I secretly think he chose this because he had images of Donna Reed - that I would cook, clean, set up parties, always have my hair done and make-up perfect, etc, etc, etc... poor delusional man).  So, when I finally got pregnant we revisited this topic and found out that we weren't as black and white as before.

First off, I had a job I actually liked and wasn't sure how I felt about leaving it.  Secondly, we had more bills than we did when we first met and even though Brian was making more money there would be a lot of sacrifices.  We talked about it a lot and honestly, the deciding factor was my salary.  Because, while I liked my job, I wasn't making tons-o-money at it and it turned out that if I continued to work then most of my salary would go towards daycare.  This didn't make a lot of financial sense and it pushed us to the decision for me to stay at home.

Me staying home meant we had to look very closely at our finances and figure out how we were going to make it happen.  We made changes in our eating out lifestyle (Chili's and their promotion of eating 2 for $20 became our splurge), we cut out any miscellaneous bills (bye-bye phone... we only used our cell phones), I became the one who did the ironing, cooking, and anything else we used to pay for.  And out of this emerged my #1 fear of being a SAHM: Money (specifically having enough).  I spend a lot of time looking at our finances, figuring out where to cut corners, and basically just worrying about money.  This makes Brian insane because about once a month I turn to him and tell him we need to cut back on spending.  I probably have a little obsession but I think it's a normal obsession when you're a SAHM.

Now, let's look at my responsibilities as a SAHM.  To put it blankly, I take care of the house and all its contents.  My responsibilities include: grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, decorating, organizing, ironing, running errands, finances, and taking care of Monkey.  As a sub-set, the responsibilities of taking care of Monkey include: feeding him three meals and two snacks a day, changing his diapers, bathing him, dressing him, getting up in the middle of the night with him, soothing him, teaching him, disciplining him, etc.  Now, Brian does help me with the running errands, decorating and taking care of Monkey, but everything else is pretty much me.  My day begins at 7:00 PM and if Monkey sleeps through the night, it usually ends around 8:00 PM when I've completed my last chore.  But I'm on call all through the night if Monkey needs me.  Now, none of the above should sound shocking to any mom, whether a SAHM or a MWOH.  Sadly, the responsibilities don't change for moms and in fact, they've probably been the same responsibilities of moms over the last few centuries. 

For me, what makes being a SAHM a difficult choice, was the realization that I have no idea what the hell I'm doing.  Turns out I don't know a lot about children.  I don't know how to balance being a mom to Monkey, a wife to Brian, and the keeper of the house.  More often than not, the cleaning and the laundry fall to the wayside while I tend to one of my men, little or big.  There have been many days where I've fantasized about going back to work.  In my fantasy, I would drop Monkey off at a daycare and he would spend his day with people who are fully equipped to take care of a 14-month old.  He would be stimulated by the professional childcare providers, he would be socialized with all the other children (another of my fears, that I'm raising a child who has no idea how to socialize with other children his age), and I would be in a job where there would be clear indications of success and failure.  And then I remember that financially it wouldn't be worth it and that the daycare wouldn't have pants hangers for Monkey to play with and that wouldn't be fair to deprive Monkey of that. 

This fantasy usually comes on the days where I lose my cool.  When Monkey is being a typical 14-month old and I react irrationally to him.  The day care fantasy is often followed by the fantasy where my children are in school and I can clean the toilet without being interrupted.  That fantasy is followed by the one where my children are in college and I can do weekend trips with my husband again.  And then Monkey does something cute and I'm back to my reality and I remind myself to enjoy this time because all the fantasies, except for the daycare one, will come true.  And sometimes, this day turns into a week.  But so far the week is the longest it's lasted.

Because, for me, being a SAHM is extremes.  Some days I can't imagine how lucky I am to be able to do this.  And other days I wonder why I hate myself so much that I would choose this every day.  Some days I love spending time with Monkey and other days I go to the grocery store just to be able to talk to people who use more words than grunts.  And here is the most amazing part, to me, I'm not yet at the point where I would say that no matter what I've made the only choice right for me.  I think I have, today at least, but ask me tomorrow, it could be a whole different answer.

So, Nora, to respond to your question, I'm still not sure what is my experience of being a SAHM.  It changes weekly, daily, and minute-by-minute.  It hinges on how I'm feeling physically and emotionally, how Brian is feeling, and how Monkey is acting.  So far, I can't think of a job that would make me want to leave my current one, but that doesn't mean that the job isn't out there.  For right now, I'm content with where I am and each day I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing.  But who knows, maybe I'll figure it all out someday, get bored, and need a new challenge (although I highly doubt that).  The only definite I can tell you is that I'm learning more about myself as a SAHM than I have at any other point in my life and I'm intrigued by what I'll learn next.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Typical Day

Monkey's new favorite toys are a spatula (not featured here), a feather duster, and the carboard part of a pants hanger. He pretty much carries all three with him at all times. Oh yeah, and the blinds in our apartment.

Tell me why we buy children toys again?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Not About Monkey

I know this is surprising to most of you... but I do have more going on in my life than how cute Monkey is (not anything that is more important though).  One of the "other things" in my life is the building of our house.  Yes, there is an actual structure.  I wanted to share with you the process as it unfolds.

This is our lot before anything happened - about one month ago. (Ignore the box in the lower right hand corner - this is a screen shot from google maps since we didn't take a picture of our lot before)

It was hard to see how anything was supposed to happen here.  But, 4 weeks ago, this is what we saw:

Our lot had been cleared.  And then we went away to DC and came home to this:

Then, this past Sunday, we had a walk-through of our house (well, Brian and I walked through and Monkey made it known to everyone how unhappy he was that he wasn't allowe to walk through as well).  And here is what our house looks like now:

This is our living room. The photo is taken from the inside looking out our front window.

This is one side of our house.  The elevated deck is actually a screened in porch right off of our living room.

The part covered in the paper is our dining room (downstairs, though French doors), kitchen (window over my sink), and slab patio.  Upstairs you see the windows of our master bedroom.  And you can kind of see how we already have shingles on our roof.

Apparently we didn't take that many pictures of our current phase but we'll keep on shooting.  The goal is that by this weekend we will have siding and all the inside stuff will start.  We still have a completion date of the middle of January so cross your fingers because it's time to leave the apartment and to stop paying to store the rest of our furniture.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Monkey Play

I promise this will be worth it. Wait for the laugh. I just feel bad for all of you that you don't have access to this pure joy on a daily basis like I do.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween 2010

Yes, I'm behind... again.  But I have a very good reason.  I'm currently participating in NaNoWriMo.  And no worries, I'll give you the quick explanation so you don't have to spend your precious time searching for what this is.  NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month."  It's where you join this group (no fee, purely on your own promise) and attempt to write a 50,000 word novel from November 1 through November 30.  Roughly this comes out to about 1,666 words every day.  For the last two days I've made the count by giving myself a couple of hours at night to write but this means something else has to get sacrificed and as you may have figured out... it's this blog.

But, I'm still doing it.  Just not as often as you might like.  But cut me some slack... 50,000 words is a lot.  Go ahead, you try it.

And now on to Halloween 2010.  Monkey went as The Incredible Hulk (he was a monkey last year so we couldn't replicate that).

And since he wouldn't wear his Hulk "hat" for very long, Mommy had to wear it for him.

We started off Halloween on Saturday night by attending the EAVoween.  Our neighborhood (the East Atlanta Village) sponsored an event downtown where between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM all the businesses hand out candy to children.  They also have activities like face painting, ghost stories, and other things for when Evan is older.

He loved walking around but he wasn't so sure about all the costumes.  Every time one went past (about every 10 seconds, he stopped what he was doing and stared).  Eventually he ended up on Daddy's shoulders.

Then, on Sunday, we went to Boo at the Zoo.  More little people wearing costumes, more staring by Monkey, but also the addition of a Petting Zoo and one pine cone that became Monkey's obsession.

It's hard to believe that just one year ago Monkey as only 2 months old at Halloween and we were just excited he let us prop him up on the couch for pictures.

My little man is growing up.  I'm not sure I'm mature enough to handle this.