Friday, October 4, 2013

MeAndBaby Bits (and a crap-load of pictures)

  • Hello friends!  (not technically a "bit" but worthy of its own bullet just the same.)  :)
  • The boys and I had a great summer.  We spent a lot of time in the backyard with a slip-n-slide and kiddie pool, at the local parks, and tried a few new things like our first visit to an indoor bounce play center.

  • I attended a Parents Without Partners event (mentioned here).  It was meh.  It was a gathering at someone's house with a bonfire, tree house and trampoline. He basically lives in the woods (while also being in the suburbs) and his yard is a bit rugged and on a slope.  Not ideal for toddlers with a 1:2 adult child ratio.  I was hoping to meet other single parents, and I did, but most of the kids were older than mine.  I'll probably try another event when my boys are a little older.
The Dynamo walking down one of the flatest parts of the yard.
  • The twins turned THREE at the end of August.  And, so far?  Hardest age to parent.  I had a party for them at a toddler gym and it was a complete success, however.  So much fun and it accommodated a wide range of ages.  
Fabulous D's boys helping out...

Cupcakes for all!  Yes, there are 3 candles on each cupcake!
We opened gifts at the party.  The gift-givers presented their gifts one by one.
Then it was the twins turn handing out personalized party favors...
  • The boys started at a new daycare this fall through the YMCA.  I was very excited for this change but not sold on it just yet.  They hated it at first but have adjusted pretty well.  Me? Time will tell but I am keeping an open mind.  
1st day of YMCA Preschool.
  • Awesome sitter moved away a few days ago.  I'm really sad.  She means so much to the boys, and to me.  

Rock adventures with Awesome (former) sitter in our back yard.
  • We got some early Christmas gifts: family memberships to our local zoo and children's museum.  I finally am able to take the boys on my own to both places so these are great weekend activities!  
  • Speaking of Christmas, Santa gave me a gift early too.  (The picture isn't great - it's much nicer in person.) Santa asked me to wrap it for him and put it under our tree to be opened with the boys.  He doesn't want them to think Santa forgot about Mommy.   
Initials plus birthstone necklace.  Love.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


My life is full of constant change.  Before the twins were born and before TTC, everything seemed to stay the same and while routines are a must for our family, change is inevitable.  As the boys grow, I have to grow too and adjust.  I have to remind myself of this often.  And it happens so fast, I usually miss the last routine, and the reason I had it in the first place. 

1.  Childcare

The daycare center the twins attend is charging a hefty additional fee for the summer.  I was not aware of this fee when I enrolled them and while I admit there is a tiny (so-tiny-not-worthy-for-the-table-of-contents) line in the Family Handbook, it does not say what the summer fee actually is. The summer camp cost for 18-month-olds to age three at my center is an additional $125 per kid and for kids older than four, it's $225.  There was a letter on the boys cubbies at pick-up one day last week saying it's due in two weeks and not optional.  My boys are too young to attend field trips so this charge is for in-house events.  When I asked the director about it, she said they plan to bring a bounce house in and have a reptile guy come in.  Big whip. 

I have two problems with this:  1.) Short of the blurb in the handbook, I didn't know about the fee.  It was never a discussion during my lengthy conversations with the director back in November and December before we enrolled.  She said, "We don't really think about it when it's so far away".  How helpful.  2.) The amount is excessive. If it was $50, I would probably be slightly annoyed but would pay it and forget it.  But $125?  I asked around on Facebook and found out some centers charge no fee up to maybe $50 for this age.  One friend pays nothing additional for her 3 year-old and pays $75 for her 7 year-old. 

Fortunately for me, my awesome sitter saw my FB post and offered to sit with the boys for the summer full-time!  She had been part-time before they started daycare and had not previously wanted full-time, not to mention, I could not have afforded to pay her full-time.  She offered to watch them for less than what I pay daycare.  Without the summer fee, it will likely be a wash cost-wise since I will have to provide breakfast, lunch and snacks now but still a savings overall.  This will be an adjustment for sure but I'm looking forward to it.  Since I work at home, I'll get more time with the boys and won't need to leave the house to take them to school.  They get a lot out of daycare learning wise and socially, so that's a small drawback but they'll be back there (or another center possibly) in September.   Awesome Sitter starts on June 24th. 

2.  Physical Support

As I've previously mentioned, the twins' only grandparent, my mother, moved six hours away in February.  The adjustment has been okay.  We have video chats at least once a week.  These calls are mostly great with her only saying a few silly things to the twins like, "Do you need a hug?" (really) and I think the boys look forward to the calls.  Her departure left me with less physical support and I'm losing even more later this year.  Awesome Sitter is heading south this fall and Fabulous D and her family are heading there too in December or January.  I've known these changes are coming and I'm really sad.  Selfishly, I want them all here for me and the twins.  They are our second family.  Fabulous D's boys and my boys are half-brothers and my boys ADORE her boys.  They talk about them non-stop. 

Having Awesome Sitter and Fabulous D nearby gives me sense of security for emergencies or sickness.  Knowing they won't be here has given me anxiety.  I really have no one else I can call in a pinch.  None of my other close friends live close by or are in a position where they could help.  Short of knocking on a neighbor's door for big emergencies, I'm stuck.

Now, before I get blasted for choosing to be a SMC, let me say, I know.  I know it was my choice to do this on my own.  It is my responsibility to line up help and I will do that.  This blog is my place to document my fears and anxieties and get support and advice from my blog readers.  That's why I'm writing about this now. 

I'll figure it out.  Like I always do. 

3. Joining

I've been toying with the idea of joining a local division of Parents Without Partners.  They have lots of events and after paying the $40 annual membership to PWP, admission fees to lots of places when attended as a group are discounted.  The group goes on hikes and camps out and has picnics.  Now, more than ever (see item 2 above), I need more people in our lives and short of my readers, I know no other single parents.  I don't actually have a lot of friends with small children in general and zero single ones. 

The initial meet and greet to join the group is at a coffee shop each month, kids welcomed.  Okay, but I have two toddlers who often want to go in two different directions. I might be able to park them in chairs and let them color (I probably will try), but me running around a coffee shop chasing after one or both doesn't sound too doable.  Not yet anyway.  This ranks up there with me taking them by myself to the public library and even the park.  If it's a big park, forget it.  I just can't. 

It is getting easier but really, I find this age to be harder than infanthood! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

More on Potty Training

First off, thank you for the supportive comments on my last post.  I appreciate it!

I wanted to elaborate on the potty training.  The boys occassionally use the potty at school.  In fact, the Dynamo actually POOPED on the big potty at daycare on his second day there.  Seriously.  And he was only 2 years and 4 months old at the time.  At home, both boys sometimes use the little potties I have set up in our bathrooms.  We talk about it all the time; sometimes they're into it, sometimes not.  The Dynamo has figured out that it's a good stalling tactic at bedtime.  I don't push it, scold, or reward short of big applause and high fives.  I probably should start to work on it more and find a reward system that works for us.  With Sweet Pototoe's allergies, we don't really eat sweets but stickers might be a good option.  (If anyone has any good recommendations for a sticker chart or other non-food reward system, I'm all ears!)

It's true - I can be lazy when it comes to potty training.  We have a night time routine and when I add the potty time in, it bumps our routine by up to 45 minutes.  And, I don't know if it is because they're boys, but they could care less if their diaper needs to be changed.  They rarely tell me.  They don't like the actual changing of the diaper and I do talk about how they won't have to have it changed when they use the potty, but unless it's a major blowout, and sometimes not even then, they don't ask to have it changed.

I do like their teacher but he ticked me off (obviously) with the lazy comment.  I told him what we do at home and he said "parents are lazy" right after I told him clearly meaning that I was.  He does know that I am a SMC and has said more than once how he thinks it's great how I became a parent.  He tells the boys all the time in front of me how their mommy works hard.   

He also thinks every kid should be potty trained by age 3.  I have a toddler book that says boys and girls are different and the average age for boys is 39 months.  I think my boys are on track.  Honestly, I hope they are completely diaper free soon and I will step up my efforts at home but please, don't call me lazy.  Or any mother for that matter.  That's just rude.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

May Mayhem

Wow, May was a crazy month. A few of the highlights:
  • First ever school pictures!  Not crazy about how the photographer combed the Dynamo's hair but otherwise I am hugely impressed.  I'm lucky to get them both looking at me at the same time let alone also smiling!

  • Local zoo trip. It gets better for the twins every time we go.

  • A full week of Jury Duty. Meaning I was picked to sit on an actual jury. I had it in my head I would be excused the first day for some reason. I have to say as much as I was dreading the process - driving into the city during rush hour, parking, paying for parking, etc - I really found it to be quite interesting. Fortunately (fortunately?) it was an attempted robbery and sexual assault case as opposed to the THREE murder trials going on at the same time. OH and they were filming the new Spiderman movie in my city the same week. Streets were closed and traffic altered but I got a few peeks of film making. And how cool is it that a big movie was filmed in our city? They changed it up to make it appear to be NYC with car chases and crashes. 

  • Mother's Day - The boys made these for me: 

  • Day Out with Thomas and His Friends event. The Dynamo wouldn't ride the train once we were seated but it was still a fun time. 

  • This happened: 

  • Our own jungle!

    Just after a storm passed through, I and a lot of my neighbors heard and felt these trees come down.  I was sure something hit the house!  Nothing did but it scared the shit out of me. It happened at about 9:30 PM and the boys were asleep.  Neighbors came from across the street to see my entire back yard encompassed with fallen trees.  Turns out a rotted Poplar tree fell at the base and took out part of my big Sugar Maple.  These trees outline the border of my back yard as do all the ones in the back.  One of my neighbors cut up the trees, took some of the good wood for his fireplace and he and his kids dragged the remains to the curb for our Village to pick up.  I'm so lucky to have such great neighbors.  Of course, now every time it rains and/or is windy, I wonder what's going to fall next.

  • Memorial Day - I took the boys solo to the Memorial Day Parade. This was a little victory for me as they are at the point where they don't want to sit in a stroller (or most any other place) for long periods of time. I managed to get their wagon in the trunk of my car with the handle pushed through the pass-through opening in the back seat (between their car seats). A bungee cord held the trunk down enough for me to see out the back window. It worked well. I wish I had tried it sooner - there were lots of trips where that wagon would have come in handy! But now I know for future. 
Waiting for the parade.

  • Parent/Teacher conference at Daycare. Let me start by saying how much I love the boys' teacher. The boys adore him and I think he is an excellent male influence where the boys are lacking men in their lives. That being said, he told me in so many words that I am lazy (in regards to potty training), that my boys should be drinking out of regular cups (they do when seated at the table, otherwise they use sippy or straw cups), and that they need more work on eating with spoons and forks (using one hand). He's not wrong, but, as is true with many of my blog readers I imagine, being told I'm lazy stung a bit. I'm exhausted and trying to stay afloat on my own with them as my first priority and maintaining my household next.

    He also told me that he has witnessed the Dynamo get winded and have labored breathing when playing. I've seen this too and we have a doctor's appointment on Friday to see what's up. Hopefully it's not a big deal. Asthma and food allergies are related but it's Sweet Potato who has the allergies. More on this to follow. 

  • Garage Sale (Technically June 1st but including with May because the prep time involved took days before the sale.)  What a PAIN garage sales are! I did sell some things and made some money and got rid of some stuff (which, yes, is the point), but geesh.  And I parted with some momentos of infanthood which was a little difficult but necessary. 

So far June appears to be much calmer.  And I'm happy for that!  Job is still going great - I wonder how I ever managed not working from home after doing it for nearly three months.    

I'm dealing with some internal struggles, too, right now.  I need to get them out and write about them because I know you all can relate and always provide so much support.  I think I'm a little bit in denial but I'll share soon.  Putting it here is my reminder and this will make sure I do talk about it.  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Oh Hiiiiiiiiiiiiii!

Hello out there!  (Or as the Dynamo would say from the top of his outdoor play set, "Hi Up Dare!"  (even though he is the one "up") and I would answer, "Hi, down there!"  And then we would reverse it.

I thought I would drop in for a quick update!

We are doing really well!  My new work-from-home job is awesome.  I feel really, really lucky to have landed this job.  It's challenging and a lot of work and I love that.  I feel productive which is a nice switch.  And I don't think I have to tell anyone the benefits of working from home.  I mowed the back lawn the other day on my lunch hour. 

And before anyone asks (although my readers probably know better), YES, the kids are still going to daycare.  When they are home, I can barely walk into another room without them needing or wanting something so there really is no way I could work if they were here with me during the work day.  I am amazed by how many people have asked me this and even mothers and a mother of twins!  My routine is great - I take them to daycare ("school") in the morning, come home and start my work day and then pick them up at the end of the day.  It's a nice separation of home/work life too with the added bonus of my own bathroom, kitchen, office (with windows that open), super casual clothing, and noise control.  It's a dream so far.

And speaking of work, I have to get back to it so I will leave you with some photos.  I've been trying to keep up/catch up on your blogs but not commenting as much as I should.  I will try to do more commenting soon. 

Waiting for Elmo and Sesame Street Live to begin!

At one of our favorite places: the local children's museum.
Reading stories before bed.

Crazy Hair Day at school.  (and a photobomber!)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

MeAndBaby Bits

  • The twins and I ended up with no plans this past weekend after a playdate was canceled and the weather was a little too cold to play outside.  This makes for a long weekend.  And, the boys have decided that they are no longer napping on the weekends.  (More on this below)  This makes for an even longer weekend.  When it's just the three of us from Friday night to Monday morning, and two out of three of us just turned two and a half, it can be challenging.  From now on, if we do not have plans, I am putting them in the car and we are going SOMEWHERE.  Even if we have to just drive around, we are getting out of the house. They need to blow off steam and I need for them to blow off steam.  I'm embarrassed to say I lost my cool and Sweet Potato now knows how to say 'God dammit'.  Not a proud mommy moment. 
  • I'm not ready for the boys to be done with naps on the weekends.  They are not ready either even though they may think they are.  When they graduated to toddler beds, we stopped trying to nap in their room and went to bean bag chairs and blankets in the playroom.  And it worked for awhile.  Over the past few weekends, it has gone from only one day for both kids to one day for one kid to no days for no kids.  They are great at going to bed at night and staying there.  I tried last weekend getting them to nap in their beds again and that was a no-go.  They nap great at daycare on cots.  I was thinking of bringing their sound machine back into the room to see if music might help but I can't find it!  I had to take it and everthing else out of the nursery and have slowly started bringing things back.  Thoughts?
  • I have two days left at my current job.  My new, work-from-home job starts Monday. (I have Friday off to finish getting my home office in order and run some errands.)  My plan is to really give this new company all I have professionally (something I failed to do at this job since I was so frustrated with the schedule and started looking for something new practically from day one).  I really hope this new job works out and I can do it and like it and they like me.  Stay tuned.
  • My mom has been gone for almost three weeks and sadly the boys haven't asked about her.  Her visits had slowed down in the months before she moved away already so that's probably part of it.  I have been talking about her to them and hope to get Skype set up so we can do some video chats. 
  • I belong to a food allergy support group for Sweet Potato's allergies and this weekend they are having a food-free movie night at the church where the meetings are held.  I'm excited about going - it will be the boys' first experience with the "big screen" and I hope they sit still.  We are to bring camp chairs or blankets.  I'm debating whether or not to bring their Thomas the Tank folding chairs, camp chairs for all three of us or just a blanket.  Little decisions like this can make or break an event.  Not to mention I have to carry it all and walk them up and down stairs in the basement of the church.  Wish me luck. 
  • It seems March is the month of events.  Along with movie night, Grandma's birthday and my birthday, we also have tickets to see Sesame Street Live on St. Patty's Day.  (Thank you, Sarah, for giving me the idea!)  I have enlisted a friend to come with us for the 11:30 AM show and I think I am more excited than the boys are. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Action Plan?

Last night I fell down the basement stairs carrying a box of books and pictures frames in preparation of converting my guest room into my home office for my new job.  I slipped on something I left on the side of the stairs and skidded down them on my back dropping the box with a loud crash and sending pieces of glass everywhere.  I hurt my back and it's sore today. I'm okay but it scared the shit out of me.  The twins were asleep two floors up with their door closed.  I was in my PJs and didn't have my phone on me.  What if I really hurt myself and couldn't move?  It would be a good twelve hours before anyone missed me.   

I lived alone for twelve years before the twins came and didn't give this a second thought.  Now that they're here, everything is different including me trying to take better care of myself for them. (and being less careless!)

I know it's impossible to predict something bad happening and the reality is something really bad could happen at any time.  How does one take precautions for their children just in case?  Is it possible?  Do any of you have any kind of check-in/action plan in place?  I'm not talking about a will (although I still need to finalize that).  I'm talking about an immediate need for help when you can't get to a phone.  This time of year I don't see my neighbors much.  I doubt they would notice if my car didn't leave the garage one morning.  My thoughts are all over the place today.  I think this back pain is making me nuts...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Thank you for the supportive comments on my last post.  I have a new job and start in two weeks!  I will be working from home and am very excited!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Potential Opportunity!

Last week I had two job interviews.  TWO.  With two different companies.  This week I have had two more interviews with one of those companies.  Over the past year I have had a handful of call backs for new positions, mostly from recruiters with jobs that either still entailed on-call/after hours work or that didn't pay enough for me to keep my house. 

Last week was the first actual in-person interview I've had since the one I had for my current job almost two years ago. 

I've been reluctant to say much to anyone about these possible opportunities because of the whole jinx factor.  The jinx factor was strong for me when TTC and, as silly as it might be, it has carried on to other parts of my life too.  But I can't keep quiet.  I might get an official offer TODAY from one of these positions! 

I would take either one of these jobs if offered to me and the one I haven't heard back from and that is slow moving likely doesn't pay as much as I would like/need.  I don't know the exact salary but they are a not-for-profit and when asking me my desired range, indicated that it was "slightly" high.  (But she said slightly like 3 times so I don't think slightly describes it.)

I'm sitting at my current job (with very little to do) writing this post and willing my cell phone to ring.  I've spoke with the two owners and the sales person and the person I would be reporting to spoke to one of my references yesterday and indicated they were very close to making me an offer.  This potential position would be a work-from-home opportunity with another software company.  They seemed pretty anxious to fill this new role for their growing-fast company and I would be thrilled to be able to tender my resignation and 2-week notice here today.  Thrilled. 

  • If this was to work out, I would no longer be required to be on-call the week of March 18th which would be through my birthday.
  • If this was to work out, I would no longer be required to be on-call for the weeks of Memorial Day and Christmas and I would no longer be the back-up on-call person for the week of the 4th of July.
  • If this was to work out, I would no longer work one evening shift per week plus one Friday night per month in which Awesome Sitter has to pick up the boys from daycare.
  • If this was to work out, I would no longer be required every 4 weeks to be on tap for middle-of-the-night-come-into-the-office software installs that no one told me about at my interviews.
  • If this was to work out, on my lunch breaks from home I could take my shower, do laundry, pick-up the house, and even run to the grocery store saving a ton of evening time spent doing these chores.  Evening time much better spent with the twins or sleeping!
  • If this was to work out, when the boys start school in a few years, getting them on and off the school bus might be easier.
Now before you think that I might be being petty about the on-call stuff since that is not uncommon in my field, let me explain the abuse of on-call that this company has.  On-call for this company means required weekend non-emergency work.  It means maintenance procedures that should/could be performed by other departments.  It means non-emergency administrative stuff that can easily be done during normal business hours.  To me, on-call should be emergency issues only: keep the customer running, answer customer calls, work customer high priority issues.  Only.  I was the only person on-call for my last job 24/7.  I did do some things from home after hours but I had a big window of time in which to complete them and the emergency stuff where I had to go in on a weekend or at night was rare because it was for true emergencies only.  Here, documentation (for statistics purposes and analysis) is required to be completed during off-hours.  A friend of mine who is a long-time partner for a consulting firm agrees - this is not what on-call should be.

If this was to work out, I might actually start to feel productive again and be happier and less stressed.

If either of these jobs works out, it would be a very good thing.  Stay tuned!

Monday, February 11, 2013

MeAndBaby Bits

  • The twins have been in daycare for 6 weeks.  And they love it.  And I love that they love it.  On day 2, the Dynamo pooped ON THE POTTY at school.  That happened before any pee on the potty took place and before any real talk of potty training at home took place.  I have had little potty chairs in our bathrooms for some time and both boys have sat on them in their clothes but really that had been it.  They both have now randomly pooped and peed on the potty at school and the Dynamo has now pooped and peed in his little potty at home.  This was a nice early bonus of daycare as I did not expect to be doing any potty training until at least Spring.
  • My mom is definitely moving.  And it's happening this weekend.  I'm sad that the boys are losing time with their Grandma but happy for my mom.  That's all I can say about this right now.
  • Work still sucks.  As in really sucks.  The after-hours rotation (and by after hours I mean in-the-middle-of-the-night for several hours) schedule has picked up as we have lost people in our department.  There is now the potential for some after hours event to take place for me every 3 to 4 weeks.  The anxiety I feel over this is extreme.  I've talked to my supervisor and the head of our department since this was not explained to me when I started employment.  Those chats have not gotten me too far. I have been actively looking for something new.  I think this will likely get worse before it gets better.  I'm trying to control the stress I am feeling from this worry so it doesn't affect the boys.
  • The boys are still doing well with speech therapy.  They are in session two times per week with their therapist now going to their daycare. 
  • One of the infant teachers at daycare commented how the boys look like me.  I told her I don't often hear that - I usually hear that one does and one does not (see this post).  She asked if Sweet Potato looks like his dad.  Instead of just saying yes which is sort of true since he has the characteristics of the donor and sort of not true since I do not consider the donor their dad, I told her and anyone else in earshot how I used an anonymous donor but Sweet Potato did have the same traits as the donor and so well, yes, the answer to her question was yes.  And then I apologized for over-sharing when, in fact, I'm not sorry but want them to know the boys' story as I am open about it.  It was slightly awkward as I was rambling on like I am here.  The teacher was great about it and said something like they hear a lot of stories and sharing was fine with them.  Or something. 
  • Toddlerhood is hard.  Age almost two-and-a-half is either more difficult than infanthood or I suppressed that past time in our lives and just don't remember it.  There are pockets of easier times like when the boys play nicely together and I can step out of the room but, as a whole, meeting both of their needs (sometimes at the same time) is overwhelming.  I'm trying to let other things go more - like the need to make sure the house is picked up all the time - in favor of spending quality, happy time with my kids. Along with that, I need and want more support.  I'm not really a joiner but I've been looking around a bit online for SMC and other single parent groups.  I can't seem to find anything local that appears to be current. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Unexpected Gratitude

She kept staring at the twins and then looking at me. "They look so different from each other."

I smiled at her.

She said it again, perplexed that twin boys could look anything but alike. "I mean, he looks just like you. And he... Did you get to pick?"

This caught me off guard. It was Christmas Eve at my cousin's house and his 20 year-old cousin on the other side of the family, a single mother herself to a 2 year-old boy, was intrigued.

"Pardon me?" I said, as it was sinking in what she was asking. Obviously I hadn't forgotten that my boys were conceived with anonymous donor sperm but it isn't something I had thought of recently.

"Did you get to pick?"

"Oh. Um, yes. I did."

"Did you see a picture?"

"No, I didn't see a picture first." (At least not for this donor as by the time I got to IUI #8, the fancy bank with the bells and whistles was out of my price range.)

"It's just [The Dynamo] looks just like you and [Sweet Potato]...." her voice trailed off.

"Right. He looks like the donor", I said.

"So you saw a picture?"

"No, (again) I didn't. He has the same traits."

"Oh so you know about him."

"Yeah. A little bit."

She and I were not close. I see her once, maybe twice, a year at a party or holiday. We had never talked about anything personal before. Obviously, someone told her how my boys were conceived and she was curious. I'm glad she was. I'm glad she reminded me of the questions to come. And of the wonderful thing an anonymous person did that enabled me to build my family.