I'm passionate about philosophy, but after having my girls I'm even more passionate about Mommy Matters

Sunday, June 8, 2014

I Don't Know What To Say... "I'm Here?"

     So, life keeps getting more and more insane. The longer I'm alive, the less I know. Seriously. Squeeker loves to pull everything apart, no book is safe, no DVD CD untouched, and she can run now... she says, "Please" (sounds like peace) and "Thank you" (sounds like da-doo) often now, I'm raising such a polite destroyer.
    She really is incredible, I love it when she surprises me by figuring out how to open something new (even if it's also annoying), say a new word, use a new sign, use a new facial expression. I don't ever go a day without smiling. She is becoming an expert on pointing to her nose, and picking it, as well as a proficient animal noise maker, 'hee-haw' for a donkey is her newest one. Some days she refuses to eat anything except yogurt, fruit, and peanut butter sandwiches. At lease she's eating. We go out on new adventures everyday and she loves reading books, as well as throwing them... sometimes at my face and then runs away laughing.
      On a different note, Husband was offered a salary and benefits position as an associate engineer last Thursday. He has decided to accept it and will be starting June 16th on a new team, working on things that have to do with magnets and ultrasounds that I don't understand. Pretty cool stuff, yeah my husband is amazing. We are so happy and relieved, the journey to paying off our student loans has begun. It will be a rewarding and arduous one I'm sure.
      I have given up on having a separate writing/philosophy blog, I've been trying to do too much already. However, part of that too much, I have been working on a new blog with my friend: Folded Pages Distillery. This blog is freaking awesome, you should really check it out. We mostly write book reviews, but we also do book giveaways and go to local readings/signings and post about them too. It has been time consuming, but a lot of fun and a good productive hobby for me.

Folded Pages Distillery with Peter Heller (Dog Stars & The Painter)

 Folded Pages Distillery with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl. (Beautiful Creatures series)

Folded Pages Distillery with Shannon Hale. (Austenland, Princess Academy series)

 Folded Pages Distillery with Ally Condie (Matched Series)

       Yesterday I went to a writing conference in Provo, called "Writers for Life". It was fun to go to and I learned a lot, I especially loved hearing from Lisa Mangum, Josi Kilpack, and Brandon Mull. The conference turned out to be informative in a surprising way though, It made me realize two major things: 1- I can be a successful published writer if I want to be. I have all of the tools I need, I know what to do and I love doing it. I just need to really want it and do the work. 2- I don't really want it or the work, not right now anyway. 
     After getting home and discussing the conference with Husband, as well as going over my notes and personal feelings about writing, I decided to pray. Basically I told Heavenly Father that I want to be a professional published author and also strive to be the best stay at home mother I can be. After telling Heavenly Father what I had decided and thinking about how all this would would mean for my future, immediate and otherwise, I began to feel anxious and ill. I got a bad feeling about that decision and decided to ponder more. After much thought and some more prayer I came to the conclusion that focusing the amount of time and effort into my writing that would be required for me to become publishable is just not what I should be worrying about right now. 
     A few incidents through out the day solidified this as I was meditating on it, there was a woman with a baby, she was walking up and down the hall trying to console it as it cried continuously. I found myself unable to think about the lecturer or my writing for the moment and my motherly instincts overtook my brain, saying things like, "The baby is hungry" and "Go fix it." Another odd experience was when I was on my way to the conference and trying to enjoy the idea of having an entire day away from home and Squeeker to dedicate to my own personal writing pursuits. Instead of feeling particularly happy and excited about this I became sad and suddenly wished I had Squeeker with me, that it would be worth it to not be able to read while riding the TRAX train as long as she was sitting with me.
      Basically, I already have a job. I'm a mom. I love writing, it's part of who I am and it always will be, but I can't get distracted from what's really important right now. I will still write ideas, pieces of dialogue, create characters and poetry, but I'm not going to think about the publishing industry or try to do too much by way of writing. I need to be there for my family, and I've decided that I can't do that enough or in a satisfactory way if I'm worried about revising my book, getting the ending just right, finding an agent or publisher, going to writing conferences often, traveling for book readings and signings, etc. I want to be the one who is invested in my children's lives a futures, the one who takes them to soccer, swimming, dance, piano, whatever and cheers them on everyday. This is my job and even though it has been very hard for me to understand and get used to, every time I pray about it I know that it is what I'm supposed to be doing. 
       One last thing to rant about: why do so many people in the world complain about how their parents weren't there enough, or didn't care in the right way, or weren't ever listening to them, but then they turn around and stigmatize stay at home parents, underestimating their impact. These people obviously understand the importance of a parent's investment in their children's lives, or the lack thereof, but they still think stay at home parents are lazy or uneducated or whatever, instead of encouraging them to continue because they are trying to be the parent who is always there, always trying to care in the right way, always listening. "What do you do all day?" Many ask me, I would ask in return, "What is your nanny or day care professional doing with your kids all day?" and "Why is it OK for someone to choose this as a profession and be paid for it, but it's not OK for people to choose this profession and not be paid for it?"
      Anyway, my own mother was a working mom and she was amazing. It can be done well and I don't judge those who do, I get it and that was always my plan too, but now I know that I can't do anything else. Not because I'm lazy or uneducated, but because it's my calling in life, I feel it above everything else.  

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Times, They Are A-Changin'

     So, Husband graduated last week. We're all grown up now, right?


     Whether or not we are actually grown up, we are now on the path to more adult responsibilities and never looking back. This marks a time in ours lives when suddenly things that didn't matter at all, and seemed like eons in the future, will matter a lot. Like buying a house, buying a minivan, going on family vacations without a dime to spare, health insurance benefits, life insurance, etc. It's kind of scary to think that these things are now within reach. Everyday there is something changing and new going on, but it somehow means more now that the major decisions are thrust into our hands.
     Squeeker is talking more and more now. I'm going over colors, numbers, and the alphabet with her every morning (signing while saying them and pointing to examples in her books). Everyday she manages to say something new, like "diaper" or "yellow". It's amazing and I love it, she is going to be a very very talkative person throughout her life though, so be prepared. I'm trying to be. 
      Husband is applying for full-time engineering jobs, he has had a couple of interviews, and we are hopeful. As of right now, however, he is still working as an intern full-time and it looks like he will be able to keep that job until he gets a new one. We are blessed and everything is working out somehow. 
      I am still going though an existential crisis, of sorts, and am writing everyday. I have still been submitting my work to poetry competitions. A friend and I are brainstorming and working on a new website/blog that will have author interviews and book reviews on it as well, she writes articles for the Deseret News and for some reason wants to work with me making some hopefully really awesome stuff. This friend and I are still helping to take care of twins in our ward twice a week, but their family will be moving in July and that won't be an added responsibility anymore. I'm torn about it, I'm grateful for the experiences and Squeeker's ability to be versatile because of the work we have done with them, but I am also happy to get more of my time back.
     Everyday is a new step, something else to keep track of and a new experience. It is exhausting, but I love it. So, that's my little update. Also, the new kids museum at Thanksgiving point, The Museum of Natural Curiosity, is amazing! A great place for kids of all ages, Squeeker could have spent weeks there and been happy. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Reading, Writing, and No Arithmetic

Squeeker's Birthday was awesome, I can't believe she is 14 months already!

     So far this year has been wonderful, horrible, and crazy all at pretty much the same time. Squeeker and I have been sick four times already, mostly just colds, but dang those colds know how to stick around. I have been having many family/personal issues that I will not divulge here, but I hope it is sufficient enough to say that I have been an emotional wreck on more than a few occasions. As for the good things, I have been reading and writing A LOT. These are my go-to coping mechanisms, thus I have been surviving by escaping and discovering new landscapes. 
     These are all excuses, reasonable or not, for not being more consistent at blogging this year. I have been writing, yes, but mostly poetry and fiction. My poetry page will reveal a couple of new poems, as well as a few revisions on old ones. I have also been submitting my work to poetry competitions in the hope that someone other than my mom and husband will read them. "Eve in Her Garden" has recently been accepted into the semi-final round of a poetry competition put on by Eber & Wein Publishing. I am now also qualified to have it published in their amateur poet anthology. If it makes it to the final round then I will also be eligible to win a cash prize. I'm trying not to get my hopes up for more, because at this point I'm just thrilled that my poem will be able to be printed and read world wide in the years to come. Hopefully more good will come of it and I will get more of my writing out there, but for now this is enough to make me feel validated.
     I have also been working on some longer fiction pieces, but I can't even promise to myself that I will finish them. However, a poet did tell me earlier this evening to, "Persist. Persist despite everything." I will. It has always been my dream and I am blessed with a husband who is loving and supportive of all that I do. My daughter is proving to be very supportive as well, as long as I work on my writing while she is asleep. In all honesty, I wouldn't have it any other way. She comes first and she always will, I just have a very part-time job on top of my mommy duties now. 
     The reading has been very fun as well. To see all that I've been reading you can look at my Goodreads page and request to be my friend. However, I do want to highlight some of my favorites so far. Whelm by Dawn Lonsinger, a previous University of Utah professor of mine. Scrap Iron by Mark Jay Brewin, another amazing poet whom I had the privilege of meeting recently. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, this is her first novel, it was published just about a year ago and it has already been published in 20 different languages. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, I tried to avoid reading them but was hooked by the first chapter of the first book. Lastly, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, a poignant modern gothic tale that haunted my dreams. 
     Anyway, that was my shameless plug for following one's dreams and reading more books. I will try to be better at posting, but I can't promise anything. I will once again commit to updating my pic a week page though, that much I should be able to do. 

                             In case you don't know, that is me with Hannah Kent

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Lovies


     I've mentioned that since I took Squeeker's pacifier away she became attached to her "Lambie", well as I did more research on the subject of transitional objects I found that Lambie might not be the best companion. Here are some tips I found for parents concerning transitional objects, it was helpful. For instance, it has some safety precautions for choosing toys that are OK for your child to latch onto: "It's impossible to predict which toy or blanket your baby will latch onto, so make sure his/her toys aren't choking hazards. Pick playthings that are free of ribbons, buttons, and small plastic parts. Stuffed toys should be filled with cotton or acrylic batting, not beans or plastic beads." Another article I read set similar rules, including plastic eyes in the unsafe category because babies are stronger than we think and it only takes one time for them somehow get it off and swallow it. After reading these precautions I realized that Lambie breaks several of these rules, it has plastic eyes, it has plastic beads in the limbs, it has a zipper on it's back (because it is a Scentsy buddy and can have scents put inside of it), Lambie isn't machine washable, and to top it off Lenny the Lamb (Scentsy's name for this toy) was discontinued so I couldn't get a replacement if I ever needed one. Being machine washable isn't a safety thing, but a convenience thing and I wasn't sure if the stuffed animal would just fall apart after so many washings or if surface washing would be enough. Finding a replacement Lambie wasn't a necessity either, but in my research every parent and professional recommended getting at least one duplicate. There is always a chance of the first one getting lost, plus if your child is really attached they won't be able to sleep without that object and finding a time to wash the first one becomes difficult. In the end I decided Lambie needed to go too. 
     There are several sites like this one that highly recommend the use of transitional objects (also known as a "lovey" or "lovies") and say they are healthy for a child to use. Lovies facilitate a healthy way to cope with new or scary situtations, like sleeping in a new place or getting shots at the doctor's office. These objects help children to feel like they are not alone as they sleep through the night and make falling back asleep on their own easier. They also provide children with an extension of their room/home to take with them as they adventure further away and learn to walk. Taking in that information, the fact that I just took Squeeker's pacifier away, and my knowledge of how much Squeeker loved Lambie, I knew that I would have to do a sneaky switch with a safe and practical stuffed animal or blanket instead of taking all of Squeaker's prized objects away. I need her sleep still. 
     There are many websites, including this one, that have cute "lovies". I didn't want to spend a lot of money or have to wait for such an object to be shipped though. I decided that Lambie needed to be replaced quickly in order to make sure Squeeker took the replacement. These kinds of attachments are commonly made between 8-12 months of age and they only become stronger in the months following, if I waited too long she would refuse anything but Lambie. I wanted to let her choose something in person as well, see how she reacted to her different options, because for all I knew I would spend $30 or more and she wouldn't even like the one I picked.
     Of course I started by looking at the blankets and stuffed animals we already had, however none of them fit all of my ideal requirements or the safety guidelines and Squeeker seemed to prefer a stuffed animal over a blankie. We live near an IKEA and I knew they had cute stuffed animals, so I looked into them and found that they actually were safety tested. They have stitched/sewn eyes, no beans or beads, no ribbons or other potentially harmful qualities, they are machine washable, and cheap/easy to replace. Perfect! 
     The morning of the big switch I let Squeeker abandon Lambie on her own and carefully took it into my room, stowing it away in the top of my closet without her noticing. At IKEA we found several options, Squeeker loves dogs and chose a sweet looking dachshund stuffed animal. She held onto it tightly and didn't seem to be nearly as interested in the other animals. So far so good. I only bought one at the time, since I wasn't sure she would end up happy with it.
     I wasn't sure how nap time would go, but she didn't seem to notice much of a difference or care about losing Lambie. I was very pleased, but maybe it was only because she was excited about having a new toy. There were a couple of times when she pointed to the spot where Lambie used to sit on her bookcase and I started to put "Puppy" there instead. I also gave Puppy to her whenever she pointed at that spot, when she was grumpy or when she seemed tired. I guess that I picked a good time to transition her to a new object, either that or she didn't like Lambie as much as I thought she did. Maybe she wanted a puppy more all along, I'm not sure. Either way I am grateful that the transition worked out so well and I bought a second one for her, which I now rotate with every couple of days. When Squeeker was sick I went between them every other day instead because she kept getting snot all over one of them. 
     There are many more resources online if you are looking for more information concerning transitioning your child to a new lovey. My recommendation, do it early and make the first one disappear completely. I still haven't reintroduced Lambie and I don't think I will until Squeeker is older, there are still safety concerns with it anyway. I hope my Tale of Two Lovies, but mostly the information I put together here, helps you in your quest for the perfect transitional object. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Good Times, Noodle Salad


     My favorite line in the film As Good as It Gets is when Jack Nicholson's character says, "Good times, noodle salad." I quote it to myself often. In the context of the scene it is said when the three main characters are in a car, taking a long trip together, and discussing their woebegone lives.  Helen Hunt's character says, "OK, we all have these terrible stories to get over, and you--..." but she is then interrupted by Nicholson's character, who says, "It's not true. Some of us have great stories, pretty stories that take place at lakes with boats and friends and noodle salad. Just no one in this car. But, a lot of people, that's their story. Good times, noodle salad. What makes it so hard is not that you had it bad, but that you're that pissed that so many others had it good." The car ride continues with Hunt's character arguing that that wasn't the point at all or why they were truly angry. However, throughout the film (before and after this scene) Nicholson's character is proven right and this seems to be the source of their angst.
    The fact that these characters have sad stories and difficult lives is not necessarily why they are so distraught, we all have sad stories and difficult lives in certain respects, but they honestly believed that they had it worse than others in the world. They thought that some people in the world only had noodle salad stories, filled with good times, and that they had it worse than others. This is the trap that everyone falls into at some point in life, comparing one's self to others and falling into despair. Another line I enjoy from a film, Anne of Green Gables, is when Marilla says, "To despair is to turn your back on God." I have honestly found this to be true because when I pray and try to recognize God's love in my own life, I always have hope. If you are not a religious person, then I think it is similarly compelling to say that if you fail to recognize the beauty in the simple things, how amazing and unique individuals and the world are, is also to fall into despair.
     This philosophical tangent basically has been leading up to the fact that I love being a stay at home mother, I love being able to take advantage of community events and spend so much uninterrupted bonding time with my daughter. However, when Squeeker is frustrating and messy and sad, or I see a friend living the life I once dreamed of having, it is easy to fall into despair. That is when I think of good times (noodle salad) and the despair doesn't last too long. If the good times are hard to recall, it won't be much longer before my little girl smiles at me or I look at myself in the mirror and I'm covered in who knows what, then in that moment I can't help but smile again and know that it is useless to compare my life to another's. How could I be happier than where I am: at home, with my family? 
     I have read stories about, and also seen in my own life, women who resent being a "homemaker" and feel as though they are being cornered into a decade's past version of femininity. I truly believe that these women are also comparing themselves to others, and failing to see the good times in their own lives. If you don't want to be a stay at home mom, no one can force you to do that. Just go out and make enough money to pay for day care. If you feel the need to be a stay at home mom, then deep inside of you there is a desire and an ability to strengthen yourself beyond despair. It might take time and it might still be hard at times, but recognize that you have just as good of a life as anyone else, or at least you can have as good of a life an anyone else. Everyone has some noodle salad and everyone has a sad story. Don't let being a mother be your sad story, let it be the greatest adventure that you have ever dared to dream of having. 
     Here are a few ways that I have made being a stay at home mother an adventure and not let myself fall into moments of despair:
  •  Continue with a similar, if not the same, morning hygiene routine that you had before having a baby. This might mean that your baby has to play with some toys alone in their crib for awhile (or screaming with some toys alone in their crib for awhile), play in a bouncer while you get ready, or maybe you can manage to get ready while they take a morning nap, etc. I have found that I feel like I'm myself and have better self esteem when I get ready in the same way, wearing makeup and outfits I feel cute in, pretty much every morning. 
  •  Take advantage of free days at local attractions. Squeeker and I have gone to a free day at the local aquarium, zoo, and The Natural History Museum of Utah. We go with a friend of mine who has a daughter about 7 weeks older than Squeeker and they have a good time together. These outings make me feel active and we get to see things that we normally wouldn't bother going to. 
  • We also do as many free activities as we can, such as walking, going to the library and a local farm with a hay ride and animals. These activities help us to connect with our community on a regular basis and get us out of the house as often as possible. This website might be helpful.
  • We have also started a 12 week dance class for children ages 6-24 months. During the summer I plan to sign us up for a swimming course together. Not only do we get out of the house for these kinds of activities, but we get to socialize with other people we don't know. It is good for me to meet more mothers and good for Squeeker to meet other kids of varying ages. 
  • Have some personal shopping time and at least one other monthly personal activity. At least once every month or two I ask my husband if he can take care of Squeeker for a couple of hours on a Saturday and I go shopping by myself or with one other friend. This makes me feel like I can breathe and enjoy some time out in the world without stressing about Squeeker or putting her desires before my own. I also joined a book club when Squeeker was about 4 months old and I attend that for a couple of hours once a month. I love to read and do my best to read the book while Squeeker is napping or after she has gone to bed at night. I love discussing books and their themes, as well as philosophical underpinnings, so I think this club has really helped me to remain well balanced. 
  • The final thing I have noticed really helps me is basically what I already stated earlier, I keep my Heavenly Father and his love in my heart. I pray and I strive to be the mother of my child that He would want me to be, because she is also his spirit daughter. I try to stop and breathe in the fresh air. I point out the pretty things in the world to myself and to Squeeker. I let myself ponder upon how amazing it is that I am witnessing a life unfolding before me, I'm seeing Squeeker experience everything for the first time. There are good times and noodle salad everywhere, if we only choose to see it. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Big Baby Steps!


     The last couple of weeks have been very eventful in our home. The holidays were rough on Squeeker, although she did have fun opening all of her gifts and getting all of the attention. She seemed very pleased to be home again and settled into a comfortable routine quickly. 
     This routine, however, included a new form of entertainment. The likes of which included throwing her pacifier out of her crib during naps times and screaming as though she was being tortured to death until I went in and gave it back to her. She also started to reach for her pacifier more often, paying attention to where it was and being ten times more fussy if I took too long giving it to her when she was going down for a nap. I've had her down to only getting the pacifier at nap times and bedtime for months, but these signs made me decide to take the next big baby step and take the pacifier away for good. It has been five days and I am very happy with my decision. The first couple of days were difficult, namely nap times were filled with screaming herself to sleep and sleeping more irregularly. However, now she is starting to even out and understand nap time in a new way, as well as sleep her usual length of time again. A few weeks ago Squeeker started to reach for her stuffed animals and grow more attached to them, snuggling them and gabbering in her baby language to them. One of her stuffed animals in particular, the Scentsy Buddy 'Lenny the Lamb', has become her favorite and I think it made this transition away from the pacifier easier. I am grateful because I think it is cute to see her cope and find comfort in her "Lambie", plus I would much rather see her toting around a lamb stuffed animal than growing more and more fond of her pacifier. I am grateful that we used the pacifier when she was younger, it made public outings easier and taking naps in strange places easier, but it was becoming more of a burden than a help. I think overall it was the right time. 
     Apparently Squeeker decided that it was also the right time to start walking because she has now taken about 5 steps and is standing on her own often. We went to a baby movement/dance class for the first time this week and it will continue it for the next 11 weeks. I think that it helped her to see some bigger kids walking, as well as help her to become more excited about moving on her feet. They started with some simple ballet moves and more infantile forms of fun dances like "head, shoulders, knees, and toes". Squeeker loves music and dancing. 
     She also recently learned how to suck through a straw and has started to use her sippy cups more, as well as a new cup I bought her that came with a straw. I have started to transition her little by little to drinking some of her milk, like at lunch time and during snacks, out of these cups instead of using her bottles. I was talking to a friend, who had recently been advised by her son's pediatrician, to try to get rid of bottles completely by around 12 months of age. So, since we are rid of the binky, why not get rid of bottles in the next few weeks too?
     I can't believe that my baby is 11 months old, those first few weeks of her life went agonizingly slow at times, with my uncertainty about how to best manage having a new baby and the debilitating exhaustion, but now I'm scared to close my eyes around her because I know I will miss something. I love witnessing her becoming more independent everyday.
     On a very different note, Squeeker got some yeast on her bottom around the New Year's holiday and I didn't know what it was at first. I figured out that it was yeast by doing research online and then confirming with a nurse over the phone. The rash lasted for days without getting better or worse, not responding to the normal diaper rash cream I use. The nurse recommended an over the counter remedy, as aposed to getting a prescription for Nystatin. The cream I used was LotriminAF, an anti-fungal jock cream. I used that every 6-8 hours and it cleared up within three days. It was amazing and I didn't notice any adverse effects on the cloth diapers I used while the cream was on her bottom. I think it washed right out, or else I didn't use the cream enough to create a barrier on the diapers, which would result in them repelling water/not soaking as well as they should. I'm so grateful for modern remedies!
     To conclude this post of taking big baby steps, Squeeker has been learning some words and I can tell that she understands me more and more. She says things like "uh-oh", "uh-uh" (sometimes while shaking her head vigorously, "hi", "Mama", and "Dada". I think she understands, or at least generally grasps the meaning of each of these terms. She definitely knows who Husband and I are and that we are "Dada" and "Mama". I love hearing her call me Mama, or point at pictures of me and say, "Mama" over and over again. With this further understanding, however, I feel that I am getting closer and closer to a point where I will have to start figuring out consequences for Squeeker. It isn't enough anymore to simply redirect her attention anymore because she keeps doing the same things I don't want her to do over and over again. I know that she understands that I don't want her to do them, so how can I further deter her? What kinds of punishments or consequences are fitting for babies her age? Squeeker is entering that abstract area between baby-hood and toddler-hood. I'm just not sure what to do with her sometimes. I guess that's why we have to take things in "baby steps".