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Briana: Destructo Girl in Disguise

Published September 22, 2013 by jessicalynndunning

Is it possible for a baby to reach “Destructive Toddler” status before she has taken her first independent steps? If so, Briana is most definitely there!

I woke up this morning to find that David had dozed off on the couch while watching Briana. I can only assume that’s what happened, because the pile of neatly folded clothes I had left on the couch was strewn all over the floor, the diapers had all been pulled out of the Pampers bag and thrown everywhere, the Playstation controller was covered in drool, her toy bin was upside down (the contents, of course, all over the floor), and the blinds on the sliding glass door were all askew. Quite the little hurricane, my daughter is! 🙂

Setting aside her destructive tendencies (and we all know it’s really exploring and curiosity anyway), I am quite proud of my little munchkin. Her favorite phrase right now is “uh oh” and she says it all the time! With many different meanings. 🙂 “Uh oh” in a questioning tone when she purposefully drops her toy over the side of her car seat, “uh oh” in a firm tone as she knocks over her blocks, “uh oh” said in an actual “uh oh” tone when she knows she’s in trouble for pulling on the blinds or pushing the buttons on Daddy’s PS3 (this kid is GREAT at ejecting DVDs and Blu-Rays), and “uh oh” said in a tone of delight when my in-laws dog sniffs at her toes.

Her vocabulary is small, but I feel like she is really catching on to the rhythm and flow of speech. You can really tell when she is curious about something, because you can hear the questioning note in her “babbling.” And if she’s showing you something, even though it’s a string of random sounds, I swear it’s like she’s telling you about what she’s holding out in front of her. “See mom, this is what this is!” Her exclamations of excitement when she sees the dog have a definite “Look at that mom!!!” sound to them. And she definitely knows what an angry tone is. She doesn’t just immediately dissolve into tears or wailing every time she’s upset now. She screws up her face and frowns and sternly babbles at me. “Deh deh deh DA! Da da da deh deh DA!” Not every time, but sometimes. It makes me laugh.

She loves pushing buttons right now, on remotes or controllers or toys or pretty much anything. She has also discovered that doors are fascinating because they swing/move back and forth. Every time I am holding her and I walk through a doorway, I have to be careful she doesn’t jerk me up short by grabbing onto the door and holding on as tight as she can. She likes to grab the edge of the door and push it and pull it to watch it swing.

She’s eating more “real” food now, and fewer baby purees. Pasta and cheese and chicken and veggies…things that are easy for her to pick up. I got her a “My First Plate Set” at Walmart the other day. It came with a little baby safe fork and spoon. Too cute! She ate her pasta and veggies out of it last night…of course she was eating with her fingers, but she enjoyed chewing on her fork and spoon. 🙂 She has mastered the sippy cup, as well, and will drink from a regular cup if you hold it for her. I have been too afraid to try just handing her a regular cup…she likes to throw things right now, and I don’t think that handing her a grenade filled with liquid would be a good parenting decision!

Briana still isn’t quite walking on her own, but she is needing less and less help every day. The other day she was holding onto just one of my hands and she stood up and took two tiny steps. She loves walking in between David and I, holding onto each of our hands and just going as fast as her little legs can carry her. I think once she realizes she doesn’t need us for balance, we’re going to be doing a lot of running to catch up!

She has figured out how to crawl up onto the couch. I seriously watched her the other day use a stuffed toy as a stepping stool to get herself up easier. Um, excuse me? Slow down a little bit, baby, I’m not ready for this yet! She’s also discovered what fun laundry baskets and empty toy bins are…though I took the laundry basket away after she was sitting in it and it tipped over and she hit her face on the base of the lamp. I felt SO terrible…she still has a mark under her poor little nose.

I’m sure that I’m forgetting a ton of stuff and will think of it later, but this is what currently comes to mind. She is turning one soon! Can you believe it?! I can’t. I’ve been thinking a lot about the day she was born in the last few days. When they took her and put her on my chest that first time, how happy and overwhelmed with love I was. And I look at her now and how much she has grown and changed and…it’s just incredible!

Just a heads up, when she turns one, I’m starting a new blog. I’ve already come up with a name for it and reserved the url, aren’t you proud of me? I used it as a blog title a while back and just really loved it! “Mommyhood in Motion.” What do you think? I haven’t posted anything there yet, but the url is http://mommyhoodinmotion.wordpress.com/ and I plan on starting to blog there instead of here ON her birthday. I am hoping everyone follows me over there! I explained before, but just in case you missed it, I feel like my “new mommy” days are kind of coming to an end. And also, we plan on having more kids…so blogging under the url “brianasmommy.wordpress.com” wouldn’t really work out once that happened! You should all go follow the blog now! That way you won’t miss anything when I do the switch in November. 🙂 Hope to see you over there, too!

Still a New Mommy for a Little While Longer

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The Ongoing Tornado That is My Life

Published September 22, 2013 by jessicalynndunning

I was looking around our somewhat tiny apartment last night, thinking about our previous apartment with it’s beautiful open floor plan, high ceilings, spacious kitchen, utility room, and third bedroom. Moving out of our old apartment complex and into this one was incredibly hard. I had dreamed of living in a place that nice for a very long time. Not that our current place is unpalatable or anything…if I had never lived in Wildreed Apartments, I wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with our current apartment at all. But I did live there, and this apartment feels like a definite step down. That being said, it’s still our apartment with our rules, our belongings, and our space. And now we have to let this apartment go as well.

David has been on medical leave since July. I’ve been trying not to really get into it, because it’s not really something I’m prepared to share details about, but I can no longer keep it off of my blog, because it’s really affecting our lives in a major way. Since he is unable to work for the foreseeable future, and we have run through all of his vacation pay and have yet to see a cent from his short term disability pay, and I make much less money than he does and only work 30 hours a week…we’re worse than broke. We’re in the hole.

(And let me head off all of the “well then why did you go to Disney World” questions with a couple of statements: a) we finished paying for that long before David went on leave and the food and hotel and transportation are all included in what we paid for, so we literally spent less than 100 dollars the entire week we were there, b) the doctor said she thought it would be a good thing for David to take this trip, and c) I looked into canceling the trip, and we would have lost so much money by the time we knew we were in a bind that it wouldn’t have made a difference…the plane tickets were non-refundable, and that was 1000 dollars I wasn’t willing to lose, add in the penalties for canceling so close to the trip and I just felt it wasn’t worth it. Oh, and let’s not forget that even if we hadn’t gone on the trip, and gotten what little money back that we could, it wouldn’t make a difference: we’d still be losing the apartment.)

We are moving in with my in-laws.

I love my husbands family, and I love that they love us enough to help us out right now when we really have no other options. I’m extremely grateful. And incredibly depressed. We lived with my in-laws before when we were just starting out, and I learned something about myself that I hadn’t ever really realized before: I’m an incredibly independent person who bristles at depending on someone other than my husband and myself for food and shelter. I’m sure that I’m not alone in that.

Even setting that aside, moving back in with them, even temporarily, feels like such a step back in our life journey. I hate that we have a child and we’re having to move back in with my husbands folks. It feels like we’re failing our daughter in such a fundamental necessity: provide her with shelter. We won’t be providing the shelter anymore. And while in the long run, who provides the shelter isn’t anywhere near as important as the fact that she HAS shelter, doesn’t make it feel any better.

This is supposed to be extremely temporary: ideally 6 months, and no longer than 8 months…TOPS. Just long enough for David to get back on his feet and back to work, and then we’ll find our own place again, sans roommate this time, and actually, for the first time since six months into our marriage, have a place that is just ours – just my husband, myself, and my daughter.

I’m feeling wary about moving back in there for other reasons, too. I’m worried there will be clashes about parenting stuff. I’m incredibly insecure, in a lot of areas of my life, but one thing I stand firm on is what I want for Briana, and what I don’t want. Moving in with her grandparents is going to be hard, because I’m worried there will be disagreements, and I don’t want it to turn into a battle or anything. Before, it was just me and David. I’m not sure how adding Briana in is going to change the dynamic of us living there, or if it will at all. I’m a worrier…so even though I know I shouldn’t create trouble where there might be none at all, I’m worried anyway!

Anyway. I’m trying to look at this as an opportunity to not only catch up, but to pay off some of our credit card debt and get our finances in a better place so that we can start saving for a house. We had already decided that this is what we wanted to do before I finally admitted to myself we couldn’t hold onto the apartment any longer. So I’m trying to view it as a stepping stone to being debt free, rather than viewing it as a step back in time. Trying being the keyword there: I haven’t fully convinced myself yet.

Sorry for the long rant. I’ll write a Briana Update Blog soon, I promise.

Defeated Mommy

Miserable Mommy?

Published September 14, 2013 by jessicalynndunning

I went back to work on May 24th after blessedly being able to stay home for six plus months with my baby girl after she was born. So it’s been nearly four months since I went back. The first day was heart wrenching, the first week was torture, the second week was hard. I figured that I would get used to it as time went on – leaving Bri at home and heading off to make money. I mean, mothers (and fathers) do this all the time, right?

And I suppose it has gotten a little easier. I mean, I don’t cry every day now…I manage to hold the tears back. It’s only once a week or so that I let them come. When people at work ask me how I handled coming back to work with a baby at home (which a lot of customers seem to feel is their business when it comes up that I have a ten month old daughter), I literally choke up and have a hard time answering without my voice breaking.

Please don’t snicker and roll your eyes. I’m an emotional person, but that doesn’t make me stupid, right? I mean, I cannot possibly be the only mama out there who has to work and wishes with all her heart that she could be a SAHM!

I loved being home with my baby and not missing a single moment. I loved being there to wipe away every tear and respond to every smile and belly laugh, to watch as she explored this great big world where everything is new and fascinating! And while I still get to spend a large chunk of the day with her, I’m not there in the afternoons. I’m not there for dinner or bath time. And dammit, I’m not there for bedtime. Bedtime is so special to me.

Bedtime is special because when I was home every night, that was our special time. Daddy and Uncle AJ would head off to their respective bedrooms and go to sleep, and Bri and I would cuddle on the couch because she just wasn’t ready to sleep yet. Our little night owl would stay awake so late! But this mama is a natural night owl, too. So we’d snuggle, and I might watch a show or read a book (out loud, so she could enjoy it, too), or maybe we’d just sit there and take each other in. And when she got a little older, and she started to go to sleep earlier, I was still the one who put her to bed, because that was our time.

It seems silly sometimes, given that I was with her all day, and David was at work…you’d think that bedtime would be his, but somehow it became mine, and I cherished every moment. Even the “rough” nights when she fought sleep like it was her mortal enemy, when I occasionally lost my patience and had to call in backup (David, lol), I was almost always the one who finished out the bedtime ritual and put her in her sleeper and later her crib. We had a ritual, and then I went back to work and I lost that, and it really kind of hurts. And now, on the nights that I am home from work for bedtime, I somehow always miss out on putting her to bed. She and David have their own routine now, since it’s him five days out of seven, so when I try, she gets riled up and won’t sleep. I know I keep harping on it, but it’s heartbreaking. I miss our special time together.

As a working mom, I still get to see a lot of moments and cherish a lot of laughs and silliness and discovery and fun. But I miss a lot, too. I miss it because I’m not there. She’ll only be this little for such a little while. And in just four short years, she’ll be in school, and I’ll have to let her go and discover things without me, and let her tell me about them later when she comes home.

But in the here and now, everything in me is telling me that I should be at home with her, cherishing it all every second of the day. And I can’t.

 

I’ve been talking to David about trying to find a position as a nanny or before/after school care babysitter type person. A few people had suggested it before when I needed to go back to work, but I didn’t think I could find anything quick enough (that would bring in enough money for us to pay our bills) before we’d be really in a tough spot, so I went with the quickest solution and went back to my old job (though at a different location). Now, I have a job, and I have money coming in, so I can take the time I need to try to find a nanny or babysitting position. If I find the right one, with enough hours, I can still bring in enough income that we can survive, and I can bring Bri with me to “work.” I didn’t think David would go for it, as he kind of hemmed and hawed about it before I went back to work, acting like he wasn’t sure how he felt about it. But he has been surprisingly supportive. When I told him how heartbroken I was every time I had to leave her, and how I literally cried all the way to work some days, he didn’t hesitate to tell me he would support me in whatever I wanted to do. (Though, of course, he did point out that “whatever I wanted to do” did not mean I could give up working entirely, because we do need an income from me to pay our bills.)

I’m feeling excited and hopeful, but also nervous. Taking care of other people’s kids is something I’ve done before, babysitting and such, but I wasn’t a parent then, and I didn’t realize how important a job it was. Does that make any sense at all? Ha! Sometimes I feel ridiculous.

Anyway, my long-winded rambling (oh, woe is me) has probably scared off the majority of my readers tonight. I just felt like this decision was important, and I wanted to share it. *shrug* Maybe it’s only important to me. But since this is my blog, you’ll have to pretend it’s important…or quit reading it! 🙂

In Disney World

Published September 1, 2013 by jessicalynndunning

I am writing to you from Florida. I was going to say “sunny Florida” but it was pouring down rain when we got here. We’re talking buckets…they stopped delivering luggage to the terminals because of “extreme weather.”

I am on a Disney World vacation with my little family this week. “Why are you blogging then?” I can HEAR you roll your eyes from here.

I am blogging because it is 1:34 in the morning (FL time) and my husband and daughter are sound asleep. And while I wish I was also asleep because I am exhausted, I drank two Cokes with dinner in an attempt to rid myself of a headache from you know where, and now I can’t sleep. Such is life.

I thought I would blog about getting here. New parents worry about getting places. I was dreading the trip today. Security with a stroller and a baby and four carry on bags (two for baby) and one car seat bag (just in case there wasn’t room for her seat on the plane)…it wasn’t something any sane person would be looking forward to.

My in-laws came with us in our van this morning so that we wouldn’t have to load our car, unload our car, load their car, and then unload their car. Less steps equals happiness when you’re a parent. (Plus, they drove our van home for us and we didn’t have to pay for parking…score!)

I was a nervous wreck this morning. I was so afraid we would forget something (we forgot something) or put something in our carry on that wasn’t allowed (I will get to this later), that I was a serious basket case.

We made it to the airport on time and my father in law and husband loaded our plethora of junk on a luggage cart, and we did the whole bag drop thing. (Which still left us with a stroller, carseat in carseat bag which also contained diapers and wipes for the trip, two duffel bags, a backpack, and a diaper bag…not to mention the baby…)

My in-laws couldn’t go past security so we got in line ourselves…duffel bags piled on stroller, David with carseat bag on his back, me with diaper bag and baby, backpack underneath stroller.

I was sweating and feeling panicky. I could tell David was nervous too. We piled all our junk up there and the TSA guy was so kind and helpful. We had to take our liquids out, and declare the formula and baby food for Briana, and also put all the formula and baby food in a separate bin so it could undergo “additional screening and testing.” But he was so nice and patient and took us through it step by step. And since there is a Family Line at security, everyone behind us was being patient, too.

So I took out all the baby food that I remembered packing in the carry on luggage and followed instructions. They took the formula over and did some test on it and brought it back an said we were good to go. I started putting everything back together and putting the baby food away (which had been cleared). I had packed an entire four pack of baby yogurt in the bag, and it was cleared.

Meanwhile, another TSA agent came over and stated that he needed to do additional screening on our backpack. I thought it might be because of something called MagicBands in our bag which are basically wristwatch looking things that are in beta for Disney park tickets. Anyway, they were in a box and all contain chips of some kind so I thought that was it.

The guy eventually brought the bag back over looking perplexed and apologetic at the same time, holding a single container of baby yogurt in his hand. “Well, this is over the three ounce limit, but it’s baby food…but I can’t test it without opening it…so…”

I was not going to tell this guy that I had already been cleared for four additional containers of baby yogurt that was already put away. And I wasn’t going to cause a holdup or start an argument over a container of yogurt I hadn’t even remembered packing. So I just told him to throw it away. “Are you sure?”

Well, man, you aren’t going to let me take it through…what else was I supposed to do with it, mail it home? “Yes, I’m sure, it’s not a big deal.”

So, disaster averted, violation of personal space complete, let’s find our gate!

And we did find our gate. And we found the only available seating which happened to be in a row behind someone who was stretched across an entire row of seats napping. Briana needed a diaper, so I opened her diaper bag to get what we needed. Her diaper bag has Velcro.

The man sleeping apparently woke up (I was kneeling on the floor and didn’t notice) and after David walked away to change Briana’s diaper, this guy made a huge deal about stretching and yawning and making “Oh I just woke up” sounds. I glanced at him and just kept organizing our stuff, since we needed to gate check the stroller and I needed to find out if we could take our carseat on the plane for Bri or not.

The guy called me a bitch. Wasn’t brave enough to say it to my face, and said it just quiet enough that if I said anything to him he could pretend he hadn’t said it or hadn’t meant for me to hear.

And notice he waited until my husband walked away? REAL brave, dude. Real brave.

Of course, in the moment, I didn’t say anything because I didn’t feel safe saying anything. I was half afraid that if I did say something and it escalated, neither one of us would be allowed to board our flight. I considered talking to a flight attendant or something because it made me extremely uncomfortable, but that felt like tattling and I doubted they would do anything.

So I let it pass. I told David what happened once we were on the plane and he was FURIOUS, but we both agreed not to rock the boat.

Of course, halfway through the flight I started thinking about what happened and I was absolutely furious. And I knew EXACTLY what I should have said to him! Ugh. I know I am not the only one this happens to…but it is still insanely aggravating.

Anyway that whole story was off topic.

I did find out there was room for Briana’s seat, and we boarded and got all set up during the early boarding process.

I was armed with tons of tips from my aunt and uncle and many others about traveling on a plane with a baby. I had a bottle ready for her to suck on during our takeoff (helps with ears popping and such), I had a bunch of brand new never before seen toys for her to play with, and snacks and bottles galore for her to eat. I had blankets and burp rags and wipes and diapers and everything else I could possibly think of to entertain, comfort, or mollify my child.

She was an angel. She played in her seat for quite a while. She took a nap and then ate and played some more. We hit some pretty bad turbulence so we put her back in her seat and she was fine with that…she took another nap. She loved her new toys and smiled at everyone who walked by. She let us change her diaper in our laps three times when the seatbelt light was on without a fuss.

She was such a good little girl!

She gave a high five (newly learned skill) to the flight attendant who brought by her official Wings (since it was her first flight) and flirted outrageously with the woman across the aisle from us. Such a cutie.

Without my aunts advice, the flight would have been a nightmare…with it, it was the same as flying without a baby. Actually, better for me. I used to have anxiety up in airplanes, especially if I had to sit anywhere other than the aisle seat. Claustrophobia is no fun. Today, I sat in the middle seat on a five and a half hour flight and felt no anxiety at all…well, except during the thunder storm turbulence, but that wasn’t really related to my claustrophobia!

If you’re a new mom or just parents going on their first flight with an infant, my aunt (and uncle, lol) tips are as follows:

If you aren’t buying a seat for your baby but want to try to have a seat available for her, book a window and an aisle seat…the middle seat is almost always the last to be booked.

Bring brand new toys to keep baby’s interest.

Give a bottle or sippy cup during take off and landing. It helps with the change in pressure. Briana didn’t fuss at all either time.

Bring two changes of clothes for your baby, and a change of clothes for yourself…”wearing a poopy shirt for five hours is no fun.” Bring large ziploc bags for messy clothes.

Bring food for three more hours than you think you need (same goes for bottles).

If you are checking a carseat, stuff your diapers (the ones you aren’t using on the plane) in the carseat bag…they don’t charge for the carseats or strollers that are checked!

Bring Lysol or Clorox antibacterial wipes and wipe down every surface on your row that baby might touch or chew on. (I forgot to do this today, shame on me.)

I am sure I am leaving some tips out, but those are the ones that came in super handy today. My aunt and uncle are awesome people with awesome advice.

That’s all I got folks. Hopefully I can get some sleep now!

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