Friday, November 30, 2012

Brace yourself!

What's with the flurry of posting from me lately??!??  I actually do have an answer, but I'll leave that one to a later post.  I've had to start a list on those sweet little sticky notes that you can use on your desktop screen.  I'm rolling with ideas lately!  And I'm also enjoying just writing, taking some time to record some of my thoughts as of late.  I know that this isn't read a whole lot, and I'm okay with that.  This is more for me, an outlet to process what's happening with me.  And now on to the real purpose of this post (and enough of the schmaltzy-ness, eh?), so BRACE YOURSELF!

Except for me, it literally is BRACE myself lately.  Let's play 20 questions: what kind of brace am I referring to?  Here's my hint--it's one that I never thought I would need at 29 years of age.  I seem to be falling apart more rapidly than I anticipated.  The brace to which I am referring is ever so stylish, too.  Suffice it to say, you should all (all 2 of you) be jealous of me. 

When I was 19, I broke a tooth and ended up with a root canal.  Health issue #1 that happened far too early in my life.  That whole ordeal was way worse than the sum total of pain that I went through going through labor and delivery twice.  This new issue, thankfully, isn't on par with that level of pain.  If it was, I'd be in a sour mood for sure.  Instead, it's mostly noticed when I wake up: my hands are often numb.  At the beginning, I didn't think much of it; surely it's the type of thing that happens when you sleep in a funky position.  Except, I realized, I wasn't sleeping in any funky positions, nothing unusual at all in fact.  A few months later of me noticing this is happening, I mention it to Ben who flat out said--Get this checked out now.  You're not normal.  (I know, right...I totally set myself up for that on purpose because you all (again, all 2 of you) can't insert any snarky comments because you're reading this instead of listening to me drone on and on.)

So I did.  And 2 seconds into the conversation with the health professional, I was diagnosed: carpal tunnel syndrome.  Not cool, nurse-practitioner Whitney.  Not cool.  I'm (allow me to reiterate) only 29, which is still generally considered pretty young per society's standards.  And mine.  There has to be the proverbial mistake being made here.  Carpal Tunnel?  I don't type on a computer all day (ignore the length of this post). 

But I used to in the not-so-distant past between grad school and work.  And I mess around on an iPad way too much all day (check out the angle that you hold your wrist when you do this or I'll wager it's the same with a smart phone).  And I heft around 2 kids--16 lb. and 32 lb. respectively.  And I sometimes balance Audrey on my wrist/forearm so that she's "standing."  And as I've been paying attention these last few days, there are a whole bevy of things that I do throughout the day that probably aren't that healthy for the old nerves in the wrist. 

So I'm braced now, thankfully only at night because it's hard to even turn the lamp on/off with those on.  They're basically adjustable wrist casts.  It makes for some different sleeping positioning of my hands, but I'll take that over the next option. 

Surgery--psshhh no.  I'm way too young! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Trying New Things

This is Audrey.  She's my little 5 1/2 month old.  She had a milestone of sorts this week--solid foods.  Yum, runny oat cereal.  

 The above smile didn't last long. 

Then, the smile came back because we were done.  I forgot the funny faces that little ones make when they find themselves in the strange position of having their parent shoving plastic spoonfuls of stuff in their mouth.

I've been resisting starting solid foods (which is something of a misnomer--these first foods are pretty runny, maybe we should call them spoon foods instead) for a few reasons: I think we started Abby on them too early and I'm pretty convinced that it changed the way she nursed after that; it's just another thing to do/clean up/think about; I'm not looking forward to the smelly diaper bombs that inevitably come with spoon foods.  

 And look at these cheeks--akin to smooth, raised bread dough.  Totally smoochable!

Someone else in the house is doing something new lately, too--this guy!  Ben is starting to dabble in coffee drinking!!  I know!  Who would ever have thought?!?  He's growing up so fast.  :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pinching all of the pennies

My dad was the type of dad who threw a $20 my way just about every time I saw him on a visit throughout my time in college.  He was always good like that, taking care of his only little girl.  And I carried a part-time job all throughout college, so I was doing what I could to be financially solvent and contribute what I could against the crazy expensive cost of a private college.  In hindsight, I've realized the beauty of those $20 bills: there was absolutely no pressure in having such wealth in my wallet.  $20 for me lasted a couple of weeks, largely due to the fact that I was fairly stuck in a small town which at that time had neither a Starbucks nor a coffee shop for the majority of my time spent there.  $20 was a couple of trips to get ice cream, maybe some pizza or a trip to the Sandwich Cellar.  And my boyfriend was definitely not willing to spend money on pretty much anything, so the small influxes of cash were gifts of independence as well.  Now, $20 in my wallet is really more of a pressure to me: how long can I make this last? what do I need to use it for? do I really need to use it?  Cash is much too slippery for me now.

When we got married, I definitely took on a new title: CFO of the Cox household.  Without a doubt, I'm the primary banker/chief financial officer around here--the one who writes the checks and the one who spends the money.  I use my credit card probably 10 times for every 1 time Ben pulls out his plastic.  (Ironically, my credit card was the one that was lost en route the last time we got new cards.)  Suffice it to say, I'm very aware of everything that comes in and goes out monetarily.  And I do love me some on-line banking.

Here's the skinny, though.  And when I say skinny, I mean emaciated skinny.  I haven't had a paycheck come in for a few months now.  We're a one income family, and that's a budget waiting to happen.  That's also sacrifices that must be made by all--happily so.

Right now, we're down my Indy Star subscription, Netflix deliveries, and $100 groceries/month.  Clothes purchases are non-existent.  Date nights out might be a thing of the past (granted, they were few and far between anyway).  There's no such thing as "Let's just go to __________ for supper tonight" anymore.

Life is now a lesson in control and need versus wants and luxuries.  But, thanks be our financial adviser who smilingly (nonetheless) helped us realize that we have far more saved and accessible than we realized.  And it's not like we were blowing money left and right on crazy expenditures before anyway, but I will miss those impromptu runs to Culvers.  That trip to North Carolina next summer probably won't happen, either.  But faced with the choice of a vacation (sigh--haven't had a true vacation for 4 years now) or the choice of caring for my children full-time, it's been a no brainer for either of us.

Sidenote--this holiday season has been a stark reminder to me, yet again, of how truly difficult it is to avoid consumerism.  We don't practice the same fiscal choices as those of many/most of our closest friends and relatives, though it is tempting to simply do what everyone else does.  It's no small choice right now for us to throw down Christmas presents on par with what we are given sometimes.  And the lure of sales sales sales! is decidedly great and much too easily accessible.  A definite change that, I believe, will stick around long past when our bank accounts are on firmer footing is Ben and I have decided to eschew the giving of tangible gifts to each other insofar as we are expected to give each other gifts, so we do it.  Granted, we enjoy it of course, but experiences matter much more to us.  Our stockings will jingle with a little bit of chocolate, and we might slip a little token under the tree, but we're in 100% agreement that we don't need to buy a quota of stuff for each other.  We have a complete family, and that is one THING that will always suffice.  (And whatever we simply want, why ask the other person for it?  It's not like it's not my money either way whether I buy it or he buys it.  It's kind of a weird idea asking Ben to spend my money on something that I simply want, I think.)

Fewer pennies to pinch means better decisions will be made.  We are blessed indeed!

Monday, November 26, 2012

funnies & what-the-what's???


1.  Abby:  This is barbeque sauce and ketchup and Silly Putty mixed up. [deliberately stirring/sloshing a green ball of Silly Putty around in a cup from her kitchen set]
     Me: I have to eat that?
    Abby:  Sorry about that.  It's just the way it is.  You just have to deal.

Proof:  Abby is my daughter. 

2.  We avoided all meltdowns and anxieties at lunch today by employing the age-old parenting advice of operatic duets.  I refused to answer Abby whining about me surprising her with peas in her noodles (surprises are hard) unless she answered me in song.  And.  It.  Worked.  Like really--it worked.  I sang to her.  She (eventually) figured it out and sang her request back.  Giggle.

Proof:  There is more than one way to navigate a delicate situation.  And, humor almost always works.


1.  What is the evolutionary purpose of newborn babies having fingernails, let alone razor sharp fingernails?  Why can't they develop later, like at one year of age?  Teeth do.  Baby hugs are a double-edged sword (so to speak); we love them and Audrey gives them a lot.  But I also endure them because Audrey gives them a lot. 

2.'re on my I'm-irritated-at-you list.  C'mon.  You're not working for me today.  And you should be.  Quit it. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

a very bear-y Bearenstein Bears Thanksgiving

I'm pretty much stoked for tomorrow because IT'S THANKSGIVING! and WE GET TO STAY HOME AND HAVE SOME RARE FAMILY TIME!

We're on the 2 Thanksgiving schedule--one on my side and one on Ben's side.  Yay for that small number with our 2 fairly small families.  Case in point: 12 plates needed on my side, 9 on Ben's.  I know that there are people who love their big, boisterous families, but I'm pretty groovy with our small, semi-boisterous affairs.  Christmas time gets bigger and crazier, so Thanksgiving is perfect for some good chillaxing with our closest family peeps.

So far, my favorite moment so far happened at my parents' house where there is cable tv (we no longer keep up with the Joneses on that front).  I had a sweet little moment where one child was asleep, we were all in that happy, groovy, post-lunch place, the family room was vacant, and I had an opportunity.  Newspaper.  Couch.  HGtv/Food Network.  Allll mine.  Lovely.  And then my mini-me and one-and-only nephew showed up simultaneously, desperately working on me to find some sort of gibberishy Disney/Nick Jr. stuff.  I can still confuzzle my own kid, but my whipper snapper nephew can read the guide on the tv; he had me figured out pretty quickly.  Holidays with family--nary a dull moment.

Tomorrow, I want to have a new favorite Thanksgiving 2012 memory because for the first time since we've been married, we are going to be home with no familial obligations on Thanksgiving.  I, for one, am totally, totally (totally) looking forward to it.  And we're going to eschew the Hallmark Thanksgiving crowd in favor of the Cox Thanksgiving in-group.  (I feel that I would be ridiculed for what I am about to say should someone in my immediate family read this.  I'm not exactly "the same" as the rest of them.  I get made fun of/laughed at/ridiculed a lot.  I'm also the youngest.)  We are going to have salmon (wild caught, of course), not turkey.  We'll also have apple turnovers (with puff pastry, of course), not pie.  And we're going to not watch a) football (though we have no specific aversion to this...quite the contrary!), b) the Macy's day parade, or c) Charlie Brown.  Even better, we're not doing a single speck of shopping tomorrow, Friday, or anytime immediately after that (online or in stores).  We're going to play outside and do something for someone else.  It's going to be SWEET!

And why is it going to be a "very bear-y Bearentstein Bears Thanksgiving"?  Read The Bearenstein Bears Give Thanks.  We have (a lot).

Let the good time Thanksgiving fun roll! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

feeling cloth-y

We are cloth diaper believers!  Finally, after trial and error (and some were really boneheaded in hindsight), we are settled into a cloth diaper groove, and it is nice.  Just for kicks, we're also successfully practicing the cloth wipe revolution as well.  It took 2 kids, and 4 different brands of clothies, but I found some diapers that I adore (we used them for about a year and a half with Abby, went through a couple of brands, liked them and used them faithfully but were also never wholly satisfied with what we had).  Let's have a conversation about Flips.

*rarely leak--maybe once every couple of weeks
*cute as a button!
*the same super easy adjustment system that BumGenius employs
*not super bulky
*easy to wash
*easy to wipe out
*I'm a big fan of the cloth insert kind of diapers.
*not tight around legs or belly--and we have some chunky thighs to contend with

Who doesn't love a naked baby in a diaper doing tummy time?  So soft!  So dimply! 

We decided to go the cloth wipe route as well because my mother-in-law has this weird affinity for sewing.  I don't get it, but to each her own!  She voluntarily cut up soft, worn-out t-shirts, and sewed them into 6"x6" squares for us.  That combined with the pennies that it costs (if even that) per batch of soaking solution, and it's a serious bargain.  And since we're going cloth anyway, it's not extra laundry, and they're super duper easy to contend with.  And, they smell like a bath-fresh baby. 

For us, the answer is a snap--cloth diapers rock, and they are very little extra work.  I am a lucky mama to have a parenting partner all on board with this rationale!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I give thanks for faith

This is SO going to sound like a recording. 

We're in the midst...yet again...of some big 'ol life decisions.  The good ones...the ones that don't have ready answers.  And despite all of this, most of the time, I've maintained my calm about it.  Not always, but a few tears are par for the course with me.  (No kidding...I might have shed a few while making scrambled eggs this morning, and I don't know why.)

But I want this to be about goodness.  Positivity that I recognize and give thanks for.  Clarity in some ways that I have never (admittedly) taken the time to recognize before.  This fall has been something of a true sabbatical for me.  Thanks be to Audrey for many things, not the least of which is this and which she has had no control over.  I tell you what, we know how to have kids just right--the end of the school year absolutely rocks as a time to pop out a kid every now and again, at least when you're a teacher.  You get about 10 weeks of maternity leave gratis.  Thank you God for that huge gift--twice!  I'll reiterate this point again, what a sense of humor my omnipotent being has; I was somewhat stressing about this prior to Audrey (Ooooohhh woe is me!!!  It was so perfectly timed with Abby, this will NEEEEVVVVVEEEERRRRR happen again!!!  Touche.  I wish that I could put the correct accent in on that last word so that it didn't look touch-y, so to speak.)  And now, my rolly polly is 5 months old today, sitting up by herself pretty well, slobbering like a little lava flow of saliva, and throwing out cheeky grins left and right.  But, it's also now less than 2 months until I return to work, which doesn't seem like it's something that I should be worried about, but IT'S LESS THAN TWO MONTHS!?!??!?!?!??!!!!???!?!?! happens in my mind a lot.  You would think that I'd have this figured out by now. 

But we don't have a babysitter.  And not only that, I have one tenuous lead.  We're talking about a solid 1/3 of my take-home paycheck will now be exclusively for someone else to watch my children.  And, I could very feasibly have to only use disposable diapers--$100+ a month.  And, I could feasibly have to only use formula--$100+ a month.

This whole situation bites BIG TIME.  It's not that I'm really all that against child care for my children, but there comes a point when I think you just have to question what the purpose is. 

I ranting is largely negative.  Where's the positive?  Well, right here.

I am participating in a Bible study for the first time in my life this semester while I'm on leave.  Abby is going to pre-school and loving it and socializing and not painfully shy for the first time in her life this semester while I'm on leave.  I'm close to starting a small business for the first time in my life this semester while I'm on leave.  I'm busy busy busy, and loving it.  ME!  The one who swore up and down to Ben prior to children that I would never want to be a stay at home mom. 

God, you just never quit throwing me for a loop.  You got me again!

So here's to clarity of mind and peace with what will be.  You can't avoid God's purpose in your life.  I find comfort in this lately that if we make incorrect choices now, that God will find a way to pull us back to what he wants for us.  I have faith in that.