Monthly Archives: August 2015


I’ve been struggling. There does not seem to be an area of my life that is not filled with stress.

I am behind at work. Like REALLY behind. This is problematic, sure, but there are a few different levels of this. First, my annual review is in October. I need to be caught up for it. Second, some things are shifting. The senior member of our department is taking on some responsibilities with other departments that could possibly lead to a promotion there for her. This means I am taking on more responsibilities in our department. My boss is going to retire in the next two to three year. The senior member of our department planned to apply for her job. If she takes this other promotion that is unlikely. There is a person between us in seniority but she is incompetent and close to retirement as well. My boss and I are very close and she would want me to take her job. This means that I need to get my act together and catch up and prove I can take on extra responsibility. I struggle so much when I am behind. I feel like I just can’t ever catch up so why try. This leads to a lot of sitting at my desk feeling overwhelmed. (Also, pumping at work is hard. It’s hard to do stuff while pumping and whenever I get on a roll I have to stop to pump.)

Financially things are tight. At one of the jobs Lesley is leaving she got no paid time off so we lost a chunk of money going to MI. We had our second half of our CSA payment due this month as well. And we bought a rug. And I have poor financial management skills. I knew we’d be tight next month but money always shifts when you quit a job and start a new one. It seemed as though we were going to be pretty far behind until November. Gus’ birthday is Oct 2nd. It seemed we could not buy him the one present I wanted to buy him – a $30 doll.

Our house is trashed. I can never clean it. Gus is the destroyer. I got sick this week and then we just got behind.

Our childcare needs have changed with the new job. Our sitter doesn’t want to do five days. We need five days. Our sitter is pregnant and often sick. We have no back up. She won’t be able to work tomorrow. Lesley is out of town for the night. I have no one to watch Gus.

So, that’s how I have been feeling. And that’s how I felt today when crying I emailed my friend today and just crumbled.

And then the weights lifted.

I’m still behind at work but I’m going to sneak home a few things I can do at home to help feel a bit more on top of things. Hopefully this will be the kickstart I need. (Although I am open to suggestions of what you do when you get too far behind!)

I calculated wrong because the paycheck I thought we would lose by Lesley changing jobs we won’t lose. Her pay period is delayed two weeks so she’ll get two checks when she leaves. This means we can buy Gus this doll for his birthday AND feed the dog. We’ll still be a bit behind but we’ll catch up just fine in October.

Because I don’t really have childcare tomorrow I will be home and can clean! Yay! Also, it is supposed to rain (THANK THE GODDESS) so I can stop feeling guilty about not mowing our weed garden of a yard for a day.

In crying to a different tonight she told me that a friend of her’s asked her if she wanted one day of childcare because she is looking for a kid or two one day a week. We got put in touch and I am meeting with her this weekend to see if it’s a good fit for Gus to be there on Wednesdays. AND, she can do on call care so if our sitter is sick I don’t have to keep missing work. This is a huge relief. And my friend is able to watch Gus for a few hours tomorrow while I go to work for a bit and meet with a client in crisis I did not want to cancel on. These things are huge, y’all. I know I have talked a lot about the isolation I feel in parenting but it’s been a constant struggle. I thought I built a village before having a kid. I was wrong. I’m building one now. I feel it today and feel a bit more hope. Also, in this I should give a shout out to R who was ready to watch Gus despite living 45 minutes away and Tracy who watched Gus longer than usual today so I could work longer and Lesley could leave town for her work retreat (for a job she is about to leave. There is white water rafting.) even though it is Declan’s birthday and her mom is in town. Village, y’all. I’m starting to feel it.

So things feel easier. Not easy, but like we can manage. This morning I thought the weights were drowning me. Tonight I feel like I can cut them loose.


A big change.

An update: Gus is on the mend. Last night he slept better and I feel slightly human. Our self diagnosis is that he got roseola. We also discovered this week that he needs to be moved up to the next slot for his car seat straps so there was a growth spurt in there. And he has the entire outline of a top tooth that is going to bust through any minute. So in one week we had a growth spurt, an illness, and teething. Super.
As for the tomatoes: We have completed 17 quarts of whole tomatoes, 31 half pints of salsa, and 8 pints of enchilada sauce. We have one more round of enchilada sauce to go and then the rest are going to be diced tomatoes. With any luck they will all be done tomorrow.

About a month or so ago Lesley applied for a full time job at the local university. A friend works in a neighboring department and put in a good word and also helped Lesley with the application. While we were in Michigan she got called for an interview and had one when we got back. At the interview she was super awkward and thought it was pretty much over. She got an email they were calling her references so we knew she was still in the running. Tuesday she got a job offer.

Our plan had been to work towards her decreasing her hours so this is pretty much the opposite of that. But it is such an amazing opportunity. She’ll like the job – it’s not totally what she wants to do long run but she’ll do fine and she’ll be in the university system and can move around in the future if she wants.

This new job brings a few bad things and many good. The first bad thing is that one of us is currently home with Gus three afternoons a week and we will lose that. That also means increased childcare at an increased cost. So those things suck and are a bit of a hard pill to swallow. But the good far outweighs the bad: Benefits which she doesn’t really have now (including paid time off!), no more working Sundays (which she currently does), and long term University employee’s kids go to school cheap.

The biggest benefit of this job is the pay. It’s not so much that she is making more than her current jobs but the long term earning potential. She’ll continue to get raises and when we both reach the top of our page ranges we’ll be doing well. We’ll be doing well before then, too but with paying childcare costs equal to our mortgage payment sometimes I forget that. We’ll have a bit more money in our pocket each month now and as we get debt paid off will be doing even better. That’s still a long ways off but we’re making our way there and this job gives me reassurance that we can get there.

So good job to m’lady. I’m excited to get our weekends back!

Urgent care and tomatoes

One of my biggest concerns about becoming a parent was that I am not a patient person. I knew this, Lesley knew this, and we forged ahead. This negative trait of mine shines especially bright when someone I love is sick. When Lesley is sick I can be caring for two days. No more than that. After two days I am annoyed. We have stuff to do, she’s not helping out, and I just have to sit around all day. I didn’t know what this would mean with a child. Would I make it past two days?

We are on day four of Gus being sick. Two days is all I can take.

In the middle of the night Wednesday he was tossy and turny and felt warm. We dosed him with some motrin and went back to sleep. I didn’t even take his temperature which shows that I can make as many rules as I want about when I will medicate my kid and when I won’t but at 2:30 in the morning if motrin will get him back to sleep motrin it is. Come Thursday morning we sent him off to Tracy’s and went to work. When we got there to pick him up around lunch time he had just gotten motrin dose two. He woke with a fever, became fussy and super clingy, and we got there just in time to take him home before poor Declan lost it over Gus hogging his mama. Lesley was home with him in the afternoon, the fever persisted, he stayed grumpy. Thursday night was bad, Lesley stayed home Friday and I came home at lunch time, and we dealt with a fussy baby who would only nap being held and moped around the rest of the time.

Here is where we made a major mistake. We chalked this all up to teething. When we saw his pediatrician on the 4th she said 6th tooth would come any day. We saw his gums and agreed. This was worth than his normal teething, sure, but it was about to pass as the tooth popped out. We figured it would only last a little longer and went to a local farm and bought 63 pounds of tomatoes to process over the weekend. We added these to the roughly 30 pounds at home we had already picked up. No problem, we thought.

Friday night we went back to Tracy’s to have dinner with their family. He was okay through dinner and a little playing and then crawled in my lap right there and went to sleep. We came home and things were less than awesome. Saturday: mostly terrible without a fever but with a first birthday party for some of his buddies thrown in. Saturday evening: terrible. Sunday morning: Started off okay, still no fever. Waa waa but we were surviving. We took our usual 3 mile walk that we take on Sunday’s to meet Lesley at her work and come home with her. When we got to her work I noticed a rash on his face. We took the dog home and Gus to Urgent Care.

The good news is there is nothing super wrong with him. The NP we saw looked him over, swabbed him for strep just in case (negative), and sent us on our way with instructions to keep him hydrated. We came home and he took a three hour nap. He woke up in a worse mood than he went down in (which was pretty freaking bad).

I’m just no good with this. He basically is crying whenever anything slightly bad happens which is not his style. He =’s walking and falls on his butt? Cry. He can’t figure out how to put a toy in a bucket? Cry. I stop him from doing something? Cry. Cry. Cry. He won’t nurse or take a bottle (although he nursed well before I got him down for the night tonight) so when he is not screaming in my face I am pumping because I have to. Guess what he does while I pump? Cry.

Lesley is much nicer and more patient than me but at the end of her rope, too. She’s held him through many naps (now he is back to napping on his own, thank goodness) and has sang songs to him but one can only take being grumped at for so long and we have hit out limit.

Tomorrow my dear sweet wife is staying home with him again. I don’t have the time off or it would really be my turn. After being grumped at by him since Thursday afternoon (except for some breaks today to go to work and play hockey) I am not sure how she does it. I don’t know what we’re going to do if he does not start feeling better soon.

As for the tomatoes? We got about 30 pounds done. They are canned and on the table. They are the whole tomatoes which take the longest to process but in some ways are the easiest work. By Tuesday night we need to have salsa and enchilada sauce done because these tomatoes won’t last. It’s at this point in the post I have so much to say about wishing we had help or family near by or a stronger community and how I miss my best friend and wish we didn’t live on opposite coasts and that our closest friend here wasn’t allergic to all our animals and that our other closest friend who would be here helping with everything didn’t move back to stupid canada but that pity party is a post I’ve written and am too tired to write now. Instead I’m going to enjoy the momentary quite, finish my glass of milk which doubled as my dinner, and go to bed because while two is my limit for how many sick days I can handle I’m still Gus’ mom tomorrow on sick day five.

A toddler

I realized when composing this post in my head that I don’t know when a baby really becomes a toddler. Like all important questions in my life, I asked wikipedia.

So a toddler is a kid from one to three, sure, but if you look at the milestone lists that characterize a toddler we’ve checked them all off, save one – saying three words. At ten months old, I think we might have a toddler.

While on the vacation from hell, Gus started taking a few steps. We expected this – it was long my guess that he’d start to walk in Michigan. Last week these steps became more – we no longer count to see the record for most amount of steps taken. Saturday he figured out how to stand up in the middle of the floor – our seemingly last obstacle. Yesterday I noticed that he is putting his arms down when he walks.

It’s mind blowing how fast this happened and much he improves every day. We’ve never had him wear shoes (he had a few pairs he wore a couple of times but he hated them and we felt it was better for him not to wear them so didn’t push it) so now we have to work on that. He’s not steady enough to be walking on pavement yet. YET. That will come soon.

In addition to walking he’s developed many other skills. He waves which is adorable and floppy. He points at stuff although it’s not a finely honed skill quite yet. And most fun for moms, he learned how to open cupboards. I really didn’t want to baby proof but came out of the bathroom the other day to find him under the sink chewing on cleaning bottles. The cabinet locks arrive today.

The good news for us is he is not that destructive. Our entertainment center is shelves with many board games at his level – he hasn’t touched them. He doesn’t pull stuff out of drawers – of which we have many he could reach and open. He has even chilled out on pulling ALL of his books off the shelves. I know that this can (will) change but I am enjoying it now.

I love watching all this stuff happen. I love thinking about what will happen next. Did you know that a developmental milestone between 12-14 months is hugging a stuffed animal? Be still my ovaries.

  Figured out the cat door.
  His new toddler Tula. 

A bully.

I’ve been trying to sort out how to write about our trip. In doing that, I thought I should figure out what makes me most upset. As I have been trying to do that I have not found an answer but instead just got more upset. I’ll do the best I can writing about it here.

Part 1: My dad’s. This part was fine. My dad was good and we saw some extended family. My dad’s girlfriend’s kids came up for a day and I got to meet them. Her son is gay and came with his partner and her daughter came with her husband and 14 month old. The biggest bummer there is that everyone had fun while we hung with Gus. It’s not that hanging with Gus is not fun but we didn’t get much chance to chat with adults. The 14 month old sat perfectly still in her grandma’s lap for over an hour. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

Part 2: Lesley’s dad’s. This was also fine. It was a bit stressful after the dog bite incident but mainly because her dad kept the dogs in the garage a big portion of the day and you could tell he didn’t really want to so we felt bad. We did not insist upon it though so whatever.

Part 3: At my mom’s with friends visiting. This was terrible but not in a vacation ruining way. It deserves a whole different post you’ll get to read later.

Part 4: The bad stuff.

The reason we chose to go home when we did is because back in November my mom asked if all her kids could devote time to come together the last week in July. We were planning on being there at some point during the summer so said sure. In the coming months my brothers and sister committed and we all planned to be there overlapping days.

Parts of this were stressful. The night brother 2 and sister got there they wanted to go for a drink downtown. Gus was asleep and my mom offered to watch them. I had three ounces of pumped milk but he only goes to sleep feeding and had already been up a half hour after we put him down which sometimes signals a rough night to come. I didn’t feel I had enough pumped milk to leave. Additionally, Lesley was really tired and didn’t want to go out. I can go without her, yes, but we get a chance so infrequently I wanted to go with her. We declined which led to a lot of hounding from my family because they all thought I was being absurd about the milk situation. I said I could go the next night, spent the next day pumping whenever I could, no one went out. Cool.

The next night all siblings were there. My sister talked about taking the kids to the beach to watch the sunset. I checked the sunset time and asked for a half hour warning of when we would go so we could get Gus a bath and put him in pajamas hoping he’d fall asleep on the way back. I was told I had a half hour. I picked him up and as I was walking into the house everyone decided to leave right then. When I got pissed my mom came in the house, screamed at me in front of Gus, my niece, and my nephew, and told me we could catch up. Cool.

For the most part we did our own thing. Lesley’s mom lives in the same town so we saw her. We sat alone at the house. My mom took my sister and Brother 2 and his family on her boat but not enough room for everyone. We could go another day. We did not go another day. We went for lunch one day and when Gus was fussy we started to walk around while people finished lunch. They were suppose to call us when they left lunch. No one did. We walked back to the house. My mom wanted to take all the kids to a bird exhibit thing at the library. It started at 3. We got home at 2:30. Brother 2, who was not with the group, texted me and asked where everyone was. I didn’t know so he asked my sister. They all went straight to the library without telling us. We got in the car and drove there and for the bird thing all kids had to sit still and quiet. We sat in the hall alone with Gus. The comment I heard from many people was with a large group you can’t please everyone. Sure. But it just felt the entire time like there was no desire to include us. Gus is younger than the kids and naps twice a day so I get it but still. My sister and brother 1 barely interacted with him. My mom put him in the stroller and took him for walks a few morning which was nice, yes, but pretty much the only time she spent with him. There were other kids around and they are older, more interactive, and more demanding of attention. I get it, but it’s still hard.

The biggest problem though was my brother. Brother 1 is a jerk. I used to think that he was a jerk sometimes or had a mean sense of humor but he is a jerk. He makes racist comments that no one calls him out on (they’re not threatening so no one in my family sees it but in my mom telling a story about how a man had broken in to her garage years ago and was caught on the roof of a nearby house my brother was sure to point out that the man was black and if he wouldn’t have smiled he would not have gotten caught). His homophobia was a bit better managed this trip but I’m guessing that was only because we didn’t spend much time with him. (My sister’s boyfriend though, when talking about taking his grandma home some fudge, did make a fudge packing joke. Sigh.) Beyond the racism and homophobia though, my brother is a bully. He makes constant mean comments that no one calls him out on because they are “all in good fun”. But they’re not. It is exhausting and when I ask for it to stop I am told to lighten up and drop it.

The worst case of this was Wednesday night. Wednesday was bird day so I was already, admittedly, on edge. My mom had planned a big family dinner with our family and her friend and her family. Appetizers were at 5:30 and at 5:15 Gus was still asleep from a late nap. We told folks to go ahead and we would get there as soon as we could. When we walked in at 6:30 brother stood up, clapped, and shouted “Congratulations on finally making it!”. I was annoyed and told him that was enough. My mom said to relax, all in good fun. Lesley spoke up and said, “It is not in good fun. He needs to stop.” Later in the evening Gus was cruising around a chair and knocked the chair over (he was in no way hurt). My brother shouted, “Mother of the year right there.” Meanwhile, his five year old was standing outside on a table spinning an umbrella around despite being asked multiple times to stop.

At dinner we really hit it off with some of my mom’s friend’s kids. There was talk that after dinner grandmas were going to take the kids and parents were going to go get a drink or two. I asked my mom and she said this was fine, happy to do it. Brother 2’s wife went back to their hotel with their girls so it would have been Gus and Brother 1’s two boys. We went home to get Gus to bed before leaving. It was a struggle to put him to bed (tooth 4 is now in and tooth 5 is in the place where when the gum wears down throughout the day you can feel it but not fully in yet) and we were still working on it when everyone else came to the house. My brother dropped the boys off and left – the three boys, Les and me, my mom, and my stepdad were left home. We almost get Gus to sleep when my mom goes to put the two boys to bed in the room next to ours. My 3 year old nephew proceeds to scream bloody murder and bang the bed against the wall for an hour and a half. We took Gus outside and sat with him while it was loud and then sat downstairs with him and got him to sleep while it was only kind of loud upstairs. Once 3 year old fell asleep we took Gus up and laid him down. Then we discovered that in getting him to go to sleep my mom had fallen asleep with him – guess we weren’t going anywhere.

The next morning we got up and my brother was passed out on the couch with his boys on top of him. We went for a walk as they were in our play space. When we came back my mom made a comment about how the three year old was not her favorite person right now. I commented that it was not his fault but my brother’s. She was silent. Brother went upstairs to continue sleeping. My mom fed the boys breakfast and my sister took them swimming, allowing my brother to sleep.

No one acknowledged that we got screwed. My mom said later that she should have taken 3 year old downstairs so Gus could sleep. I said it wasn’t about that – we wanted to go out. In ten months we have gone out three times. We don’t have family close. We don’t have evening babysitters. My mom said she would watch Gus on Thursday. I said no. We are happy to be with him, it would just be nice for someone to take care of after bedtime so we could go somewhere. Additionally, it was the idea of going somewhere with other people. Out of three babysitter nights only one was something we did with other people. No one invites us out. We see a lot of each other. We were invited out with people we were getting along with and couldn’t go because my mom can’t manage his boys and ours. And it was never an option for us to go instead. My nephew has this problem whenever left. My brother knew it would happen. My mom knew it would happen.

My brother does not take care of his boys. He has them part time and often is with my dad (they own a cottage together) and just has my dad watch them while he does other things. My dad exploded on him about this last weekend. My mom watches them and just puts up with it. He doesn’t ask – he tells her. Her watching them means that she doesn’t have the time to spend with us, or my child, because she has to focus her energy on them.

Writing this it sounds so petty. I’m done with my brother. I’m done with his “joking” and his lack of regard for other people. I’m done with his absentee parenting. It comes down to the fact that I was Gus to have good male role models and my brother is not who I would pick. I told my mom I’m done with him. I said in front of him that we will not be seeing him again. This was all before he mocked his kid for stuttering. He turned to him and said, “Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-Why? How do you like hearing it all day?” When he moments later went inside I asked my mom and step dad if that was what just happened. Both of them fully denied it.

But I’m upset with my mom. I’m upset that she doesn’t stand up for me. That she excuses all of his behavior. That she lets him get away with it. Lesley is upset with her. When I try to discuss it I get yelled at. I feel like the trip was a waste of time and left not wanting to go back. Left not wanting to talk to my mom. I’m hurt but know I can’t have an honest conversation with anyone so where do I go from here? I am giving myself a month break from talking to my family – maybe in that time I’ll figure it out.