Thursday, February 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Little Blog!

Dear Fine Readers,

One year ago today at 7:18 P.M., You'll Be Fine. I Promise. was born. Look at how much we've grown! We learned how to make dinner with children and debated the pros and cons of taking kids to restaurants. We shared our fears, our dreams, and our little quirks. I gave you some pointers on how to shop with your kids, how to keep your kids entertained on the cheap, and how to understand your child's emotions. I told my silly stories about naughty dogs and goofy kids, but I also opened up about love, loss, and struggling with the trials and tribulations of parenthood. It's been a fun ride and I hope you'll join me in another year of laughing at ourselves and learning to take it all in stride. I mean, really, we're just raising the next generation... no biggie, right?

When I started this blog, I was a stay at home mom. I was able to write once a week. I spent a lot of time with each story. I shared each post like a new mother shows off her newborn's pictures. I would obsess about traffic numbers. I would check to see where I was ranked in Google searches. I had visions of what my blog will look like when it grows up. Now that I'm back to work and the blog is a toddler, I find that I'm lucky to steal a moment to check the comments and type out a post every other week. I still love my blog. I still talk about my blog and want everyone in the world to read it, but I've slowed down on the "new mommy" habits. I realize that my little blog is growing everyday and one day, I'll look back and say, "Look how big it is!"

To celebrate the first birthday of You'll Be Fine, I decided to buy my very own domain name. I wanted to make this blog official and all professional-like. Well, it turns out, it's not easy to buy your very own domain name and transfer a blog. In fact, I think it's safe to say it's easier to change a toddler's poopy diaper in the backseat of a two door car than buy a domain name and transfer a blog. Like a tired yet determined mother baking a birthday cake for her child's 1st birthday party, I tried to set this all up last night. Around midnight, I shut down my computer satisfied with the fact that I now own a domain name AND I did not actually delete all of my posts when I accidently hit the "delete blog" button. With a toddler stride, I hope to get everything transferred over and start on a redesign soon.

My daughter, S's 1st birthday cake. It was Curious George.
It was also my very first cake baking experience.
I stayed up well past midnight the night before her party trying to get the icing face just right.

I am so thankful for all of you and that you read my blog. I love hearing from you. If you haven't already, become a Fine Friend on the You'll Be Fine. I Promise. facebook page. I post extra goodies and special announcements on there and I encourage everyone to join in conversations and share their stories. You can also follow me on Twitter and Pinterest. As my daughters say: "Hey other kid! Let's be friends!"

Happy birthday little blog. (Damn, I should have baked a cake so I could make a wish...)


P.S. Which YBFIP post was your favorite? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Robbing Peter

Alarm rings at 5:00 A.M.

Hit snooze about 5 times. Make that 6.

Oh God. I'm exhausted. Where did the night go? Didn't I just go to bed? I dreamt about work. That should count as a full day's work. I think I'll ask the boss about getting time and a half for REM Sleep work. I really should get up. I've got a long day ahead of me. I need to let the dog out, feed the dog, take a shower... did I put the laundry in the dryer last night? Damn it. Okay. There goes my charcoal gray cardigan option. I think my black sweater is clean. I'll wear that. Did I set the coffee maker to auto brew last night? YES. Thank you me from last night. You're the best.

Roll out of bed. Start the morning routine. Walk around the house in the dark to avoid waking the kids. Step on the dog's chew toy that squeaks. Might as well been an air horn. Youngest daughter, B, wakes up and starts crying very loudly like she does every morning since the second day of work. I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL MAMA!

Rush, rush, dress, dress, brush, brush, search, search, pack, pack, nag, nag... Where the hell are my keys?!

Drive to work.

Seriously, people! What happened to Atlanta radio over the last three years? There are five stations and they all play the same bubble gum Taylor Swift song at the same time. I'm only in the car for 15 minutes so I can't hear the results of the morning show DJs' riveting debate on the pros and cons of breaking up with someone via text message.

Type, type, answer call, answer call, double check the numbers, type, type, staple, copy, type, type, call, call, ask question, delete, type, report, repeat.

Drive home from work.

Damn you, Taylor Swift!

Meet older daughter, S, at the bus stop. Get a big hug and "guess what happened today, Mama!!" Try to follow the latest First Grade drama. Attempt to steer the conversation to focus on what she learned that day. Climb back into the car to pick up B from daycare. Get the warmest welcome from B. "MAMA!!! I MISSED YOU!!!" Try to follow the latest daycare drama. Attempt to steer the conversation to focus on what she did that day. Arrive home and get mauled (lovingly) by lonely dog. Check the house for carnage the dog left behind after 8 hours of being home alone with only the sound of Animal Planet on the TV.

Snack, homework, reading, play time for the kids, play time with dog. Bill pay, answer personal emails, light housework, and start dinner for me. Wait for The Hub to walk through the door. Sneak off with The Hub to chat about our day while the kids are playing. Have to cut conversation short because one kid did something to make the other kid mad.

Eat, clean, baths, books, kisses, feed fish, good night.

Go to sleep girls!
I mean it!
If I hear one more peep come from that room, you're grounded forever.

"You better go to sleep or I'll send mommy in there!!" - The Hub

Make lunches, lay out clothes for tomorrow, pack school bags, set coffee machine. Crash on couch and flip through the channels and doze off in the middle of The Big Bang Theory. Where did the day go?!

I really should be writing...

That's pretty much my day during the week now. I know employed parents out there are nodding their heads in agreement. Maybe even shaking their heads and saying, "Girlfriend, you have no idea what I have to do everyday." Some of you crazy people can add sports practice, music lessons, Girl or Boy Scouts, gym workouts, baking homemade bread, reading Tolstoy, working a second job, belly dancing, tweezing your eyebrows, and breathing. (How the hell do you manage it?) I know what it's like to be a stay at home mom. This is also my second round of being an employed mom. Both lives are challenging. Both lives have perks. Both lives are good and hard in their own way. I just didn't expect the transition from one stage of life to another to be so... well... exhausting.

I'm struggling to find my balance. I still want to do all the things I did when I was home all the time, but I also want to do well with my new job outside of the home. I'm not used to being "ON" all day. I have to be pleasant and professional even when all I want to do is lay on the floor with my daughter and watch Dora the Explorer. I can't believe I just wrote that. I can't stand Dora the Explorer. I have to be focused when I want to zone out. I want to do housework during the weekday, rather than on the weekends. Okay, let's be honest... I don't want to housework anytime. Oh, and the laundry piles up in record time now, not because I haven't done it, but because I am wearing different clothes everyday. I seriously considered wearing my PJ's to work. I miss wearing PJ's all day.

The simple fact is, we need the second income. I am so ridiculously grateful for the job and I like it 95% of the time. I think I'm pretty good at what I do. I have my "kick ass" moments at work. I still have my "kick ass" moments at home... they just rarely happen on the same day. I feel that in order to get everything done, I have to rob Peter to pay Paul. To get more time with my family, I let the house go. When the house gets messy, I get antsy and we have to play "find the kids' shoes" when the bus is coming up the street. To get my house in order, The Hub and I do housework on the weekends. I even try to do a little bit of housework each night to lessen the weekend chores. By Friday, you can't even tell I cleaned on Monday. I feel like I have to schedule every minute of my week. I'm not good with schedules. I'm motivated by mood. I do things when I feel like it. I don't have a internal clock and it takes so much self discipline to do what I have to do. It also takes self discipline to slow down and do things I want to do without guilt. Like read extra bedtime stories. Snuggle with The Hub. Play with the dog. Lay on the couch and do absolutely nothing. Write.

I know it's only been a month. I know I'll pull a Stella and get my groove back. It took a while for me to get used to being a stay at home mom. It'll take some time to get used to being employed. Tonight, I will set up the coffee maker, pack some lunches, lay out clothes, and set my alarm for 5:00 AM. I might wake up and attack the day with gusto. I might wake up and join B in a good cry and yell, " I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL MAMA! Either way, it'll be fine.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Crying Wolf

I've been a mother for over seven years, but I still don't really know my kids' cries. People say that when you become a parent, you'll learn that your child has different cries: A tired cry, a hungry cry, a sad cry, a fussy cry, a scared cry, a dirty diaper cry, a bored cry, a pain cry... the list goes on. When S was born, we jumped at every noise. If she sighed a little differently while sleeping at night, The Hub and I hovered over her and watched her chest rise and fall, just in case that particular sigh was her last breath. Morbid, I know. But, these are the scary thoughts that plague the minds of new parents. With time, you're supposed to figure out the different types of cries. Each baby is different and each baby produces unique sounds. I'm here to report that it's not always that easy. Somehow, I failed to acquire the ear for cries.

S would cry everyday about something. She would cry if she woke up too early or too late. She would cry if she didn't like the meal we served her. She would cry if someone looked at her too long. She would cry at the end of her favorite cartoon. She would cry at bath time and bedtime. It was like living with a toddler with PMS. I'll admit, I'm an emotional person, but even in my lifetime, I've never cried as much as she did those first three years. During one especially emotional month, I asked her pediatrician if she needed Prozac. He assured me it was "just a phase and she'd grow out of it." He was right. Around the age of four, S stopped crying everyday. 

The problem now is that her cries are inconsistent with the cause of the cry. If she has a serious crash on her bike, she might shed a few quiet tears. If we turn off her cartoons, S will reenact Sally Field's cemetery break down from Steel Magnolias. I just can't judge the severity of the problem based on her reaction. Recently, S was running down the hall with our dog, Bailey. Bailey is a 65 pound pitbull who truly believes she is a little lap dog. 
Me: Stop running down the hall, S.
S: Bailey and I are playing chase and having fun. I'll be careful.
Me: Seriously, stop running. You'll get hurt.
S: I won't get hurt, mom. We're just playing.
Me: Fine. Don't come crying to me when you do!
S: (calmly) Mommy? I fell down and hit my face.
Me: See?! Told you so. Go sit down.
S was really quiet and I started to feel bad for not checking on her. So after a few minutes of gloating in my mommy wisdom, I checked on S. It turns out that Bailey suddenly turned in front of S mid run and tripped S. S fell forward and smacked her face against the door frame. The few minutes I left her alone on the couch, a goose egg bump formed on her cheek and within a few hours, she had a dark purple bruise that covered her eye and half her face. S barely cried.

My younger daughter, B, (age 3 1/2) has one cry. On a scale from one to ten, it's an eleven. It doesn't matter if she's a little moody or seriously injured, her default cry is that of a wild animal being skinned alive. She will tilt her head back, close her eyes, open her mouth, and wail. I believe she is part banshee or we have a Death Metal frontman somewhere in our blood line. It's a blood-curdling noise and will turn your hair white. No joke. I really should buy stock in Nice and Easy 118 Natural Medium Brown. 

Basically, B "cries wolf." Every "bad" situation is an emergency. Every moment of discomfort or pain is of epic proportions. It's go big or go home. I can only hope that B will turn off the daily waterworks around her fourth birthday. 

That is why I can't figure out my kids' cries. Or screams, for that matter. When they are playing in the other room, I'll hear some serious shrieks and a desperate call for MAMA! I'll jump up and run to the room, half expecting to see blood or an exposed bone. 

Kids: Oh Hi, mommy!
Me: What is going on? Why did you yell for me like that?
B: We're playing Monster Attack and S is the mommy* and I'm the baby and S is trying to save me from the monster.
S: Yeah, mom. Why are you so upset? We're playing nicely like you told us to.

*Due to the high frequency of confusing a cry for the pretend mom with a call requesting me, I added Rule #264:
Whereas, We have taken into Our Royal Consideration the need for active imaginations and play to further our offspring's overall development, let it be known from this day forward, all imaginary maternal guardians will be addressed as "Mother." Her Majesty The Queen of the Household (your real mother), shall only acknowledge and respond to "Mommy, Mom, Mama, Ma." Any person in violation of said rule will be hung from their toes and given cold oatmeal for breakfast.

In order to make sense of my kids' cries and screams, I have devised this chart which shows the appropriate cry/scream for any given situation. Before anyone decides to have an emotional reaction, they must first refer to this chart and adjust their intensity accordingly.

Terese Lavallee
There better be a Honey Badger in that room or you're all in big trouble!
(Click on chart to enlarge)

I know that once the kids become more proficient with the English language and learn to better articulate their feelings, I will be able to decipher their needs with ease and accuracy. I encourage the girls to "use their words" and calm down when trying to explain what happened to make them so upset. It takes time and patience... something that I still work on everyday. I have learned to not react to every cry and scream right away. Unless I hear glass breaking, smell smoke, or worse, complete silence, most times, my kids are okay. We have health insurance so when the inevitable trip to the ER happens, we're covered. Like their bodies, they are growing into their emotions. I try to remember what my pediatrician said whenever our household is in the midst of emotional chaos: It's just a phase and they'll grow out of it.

... Until they become teenagers.