2.24.2013

Swimming Lessons: Should Progress Be More of a Concern?

W has been in swimming lessons since June 2012. We go once a week. Same pool, same lane, same teacher, same routine... Same level. We take him to a swim school. It isn't cheap, but my goal was for him was to be comfortable with water by the summer of 2013 and I was confident that would happen at this place. He didn't need to learn to swim in a year, just develop a comfort level in the water.

He doesn't love swimming lessons. He likes it, but it's often a struggle to get him out the door and there is a lot of whiny questioning of how long he has to take swimming lessons. My answer to him is always the same: "Forever. You will be in swimming lessons until you are a good swimmer, which will seem like forever." 

There are six things he has to master before moving on to the next level and he's done four of those things. While there has been plenty of improvement, he still won't let go of the instructor to try to float on his back for five seconds. Until he does that he'll stay at the level he's at.

His instructor looks at me each week and assures me W is doing better. I tell him that I know, but I can tell he expects me to be more frustrated. I'm a competitive person by nature. But this is one situation when I'm going to focus on the improvements that I see in him every week, rather than what the school uses to determine his progress. Is it wrong that I'm not?

2.17.2013

Nanny Break Up

"It's not me, it's you." That's basically the text I received last week from our new nanny. After a search on Care.com, Neighborhood Parents Network, and through my own personal network, I chose who I thought was really the best fit for our family. If we were dating, I would say that I made the safe choice, someone that I was comfortable with, seemed fun, but wasn't out of my league.

I went back to work last Monday, but she needed an extra week due to an unexpected death in her family, so I took off the rest of the week. I spent a couple of days introducing her to the kids, showing her around the house, brought her to preschool. After Day 2 I received a text message at 1 am. She informed me that she wasn't going to return the next day, because she "bit off more than she could chew." I saw the text at 3 am and spent the next few hours freaking out.

I don't have any hard feelings for her. I'm thankful that she was honest with herself and me. This isn't an easy job. A four year old, 20 month old, and three month old is a BIG job. And B is incredibly active. But I warned her about all of that and she said she was up for it. I was up front about what our life is like. There was no sugar coating it. Looking back, I was probably ignoring the fact that she didn't jump in as I would have liked, allowed me to change most of the diapers, make lunches, and kept repeating how fun and energetic the kids were again and again.

In her defense, she started at the most complicated time in our house... Matt had been caught in New York the weekend before and a lot of the stuff we were planning on doing wasn't done. We had been rearranging furniture and bookshelves. I wanted to see if things would grow on me, but they only cramped our house and made it feel crazy. So, there were things out of order (that's a generous way of explaining it). A had an ear infection and I was averaging maybe four hours of sleep each night (she spent the days crying and I looked/acted like a zombie). To compound these issues our house cleaner was here, which is tough in a house as small as ours. It was a lot. And we probably didn't put our best face forward. But, seriously, if she couldn't handle the worst, then she's not the right person for the job.

It just feels weird to be broken up with by a nanny via text message. I don't have any closure. It sucks. Luckily we didn't have cell phones when I was in high school, because this is no way to end a relationship.

The thing that makes me feel the worst is that W and B really liked her. Just today W was telling Matt how fun she was and when I went to his preschool on Friday, I was complimented on my new nanny choice by the director. That stung a little. Once a relationship is over you don't want to hear about how great your ex is, right?

So, I did what happens after a break up. I went back to the safe place. I altered the days that I need childcare and hired back a former sitter who I know will be reliable for the couple of weeks while I find a permanent replacement.

This weekend we put the furniture back where it belonged, packed up all the books we didn't need, and got better control of the house. I took a break from searching after having Childcare PTSD. But tomorrow I'll jump back online and start the long process once again.Wish me luck.

2.13.2013

Five Days Apart Makes Me Realize We Can't Live Without Him

I've lost two uncles. Both died tragically, leaving young children and grieving wives behind. Because of that Matt and I have generous life insurance policies. You just never know. I'm realistic and have always thought through how I would survive if something were to happen to Matt. Pay off the house, get all of us in major therapy, quit my job,focus on the kids... All the big picture stuff, not necessarily the day-to-day stuff.

Then Matt was out of town on business last week. What was supposed to be a quick Wednesday to Friday trip to New York ended up being a four night stay thanks to the monster blizzard that hit the Northeast. It was my first time being alone with all three kids and - go figure - Baby A got an ear infection, B's night terrors returned for a couple nights, and W just spent time missing his dad and coughing (thanks, asthma!). Parenting without a partner in the best situation is not easy. This situation pretty much sucked. We had a lot of help from my mom and a sitter. The timing was tough, though, and I averaged about two hours of sleep each night.

On top of all the kid stuff, I just missed having him around. Matt and I don't spend many nights apart. It's not a weird, co-dependant thing, it's just that neither of us have had to travel much for work or anything like that. This was the longest we've spent apart and the longest our kids have spent away from one of us.

I came to this conclusion: I really love my husband. I'm not good at the emotional, lovey stuff. I'm better at a self-deprecating sense of humor or making a joke when I'm uncomfortable dealing with emotions. But, he's a great dad, a really great husband. and our house is different when he isn't here. I love having an engaged partner, but the day-to-day stuff isn't nearly the same when they're gone. It only took me a few days to figure that out. I can't imagine if it was a lifetime.

This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

2.03.2013

We Kinda Ate Glass For Dinner, But What Matters Is We Ate Dinner

I'm juggling a lot these days and a lot of balls get dropped. A lot of stuff just can't get done (like putting away laundry), but a good control freak like me has to pick and choose battles. The battle I seem to have picked is dinner. I can control dinner. So, I make it every day. I try to meal plan each week and rarely order in. It's not easy. I often do it in steps throughout the day, starting with chopping in the morning, then perhaps sauteing around lunch, etc. etc. If I have help with the kids I might throw together soup and leave it on the burner for the rest of the day.

I've also gotten really creative, because sometimes I can't get to the grocery store for a couple of weeks. So, I have to make do with what we have on hand. As an excellent impulse buyer and a total sucker for a deal, we have plenty of goods and a freezer full of stuff. So, I'm always able to get by.

I threw together what I could find the other day... Chick peas, frozen butternut squash, sweet potatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, chicken broth... Flavored it with some cinnamon and curry and thyme. It was fast, a five minute stew I threw together while I had some help. It sat on the stove for the afternoon.

Later, during the 4:00 meltdown/introduction of tv time, I decided to quickly unload the dishwasher. While moving too fast, in too many directions, I somehow knocked a Pyrex bowl out of the cabinet. It hit our silestone counter top and shattered into about a million pieces. And when I say shattered I mean SHATTERED. I was covered in little glass pieces. It filled the dishwasher, was all over the ground. I screamed at the barefooted B who was just entering the kitchen asking for crackers. And then I spent 40 minutes cleaning. 40 MINUTES. Baby was crying, brothers were bickering and whining about needing snacks, little pieces of glass were stuck in my hands and feet. And I imagined missed little pieces that would no doubt find their way into little feet. It was hell. Seriously.

Once everything was as glass-free as I could get it, I realized that I had uncovered dinner for a quick taste test. I couldn't imagine that the glass made its way into the dutch oven, but couldn't guarantee it hadn't. I looked through it. I took a few bites. I couldn't bear to throw it away. So, I made the kids mac and cheese or something. They ate and I put a few spoonfuls in a bowl. I figured that if I found glass it would be a sign that Matt and I shouldn't eat it. The first bite... CRUNCH. Glass right away. So, I threw away my bowl, but still left the rest on the stove top. It actually pained me to imagine my time and efforts, not to mention delicious, healthy food just get thrown away. What a waste.

Matt came home, we agreed to throw it away and have cheese and crackers for dinner once the kids were sleeping. It was 8:30 by the time everyone was settled. We were hungry and Matt thought it smelled good, so he might as well take a taste. And then it tasted so good, he might as well eat some of it. And little by little we each carefully, slowly ate a bowl of glass-free stew. The rest went into the garbage.

But, seriously, that was some damn good stew...