The Challenge

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Days 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Well, I'm a real loser at the daily blogging thing.  But - I'm STILL super grateful. 

Warning: This post may refer to breastfeeding and the associated body parts and/or apparatuses used to facilitate said feeding.

Day 19: Kia
Today was grocery day.  Boy and I ran a few errands after picking up our groceries as well, including a large mirror for the bathroom.  I managed to fit Boy, the stroller, the groceries and the mirror in my beloved 2011 Kia Optima.  We've had the car for over a year now and I've never regretted that car choice for a second. 

Day 20: Naps
Last night was rough.  Boy was up a lot, leaving both of us pretty exhausted today.  This afternoon we snuggled up together on the couch and took a nap together.  It was so warm and relaxing napping together - what a rare treat!

Day 21: My breast pump
I spend about 45 minutes a day tucked away in a small recording room at work to ensure that Boy gets breast milk to eat while I'm away.  I've been doing this three times a day since I came back to work 9 and a half weeks ago (longer then I was on maternity leave - time keeps mooooving!).  I'm still a little shocked sometimes that we've never had to supplement and that he's only had breast milk from the day he was born.  This is something I'm really proud of.  I wouldn't have had a problem, really, if supplementing had been necessary, but I'm glad I've been able to [with the help of my trusty Medela pump] provide for him even when it has been hard.  I remember the first few days back at work and seriously wondering if I'd be able to a) provide enough and b) do this three times a day, every day.  And here I am now, still pumping and sticking to it.

Day 22: My fam
This week is Spring Break at school for the hub.  I took a half day at work so we could finish (ha, right) the bathroom.  After finishing the repair in the drywall and texturing, we had a bit of a wait time.  The weather was approaching 50 degrees, so we put Boy in the stroller and the pups on their leashes and went for a nice, long walk.  It was beautiful and so much fun to be out as a family.  We don't get to do that much since we are really never together during the daylight hours.  I love my fam so much and just love every minute we are together.

Day 23: Pay Day
The 15th (tomorrow) is pay day - and that always rocks.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Days 17 and 18

Okay, okay.  So I'm not fully back into the daily blog swing.  I've got my reasons - but part of this whole guiltless thing would indicate that I don't have to make excuses for myself, so I won't. 
Day 17: Daddy

Thursday, while I was at work, I got a text from the hub containing a photo of Boy smiling big and happy from his play gym.  Such photos have a way of filling my heart to capacity.  I was just struck with such gratitude that Boy has such a great daddy who is able to care for him every day.  That I've got someone who is able to send me pictures throughout the day and make sure I don't miss out on any of the fun stuff going on while I'm working away. 

Day 18: Paint

Today is PAINTING DAY in the bathroom.  After work, Hub and I are going to meet at the hardware store and pick our final paint color.  Then, we're going to go home and get our paint on (well, actually I may paint while Hub works on homework and entertains the boy - but he'll be watching me paint).  If you noticed, the picture of my floor from the last post is rendered relatively ugly by the fact that the greenish wall hue totally clashes with the new, warm brownish hue of the tile (with some blue accents).  I've hated the wall color since we moved in, but we knew we wanted to do an overhaul of the bathroom, so we held off on painting until we repaired the wall and removed the old vanity. 

Paint can just make everything feel different and better - and it's not too much work, either.  Especially for a room as small as our bathroom. 

So, I'm excited to get those walls painted tonight and then put in the vanity and toilet tomorrow and watch our bathroom makeover come to a finish. 

How many people do you know who DIY'd their bathroom makeover with a 4 month old baby?  It's pretty empowering.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Days 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16

Sooo, it's been a busy past few days.  I have been writing down each day the thing I intended to blog about (so I'm maintaining my attitude/challenge of gratitude!).  I'm going to catch up quickly today and hopefully get back to my daily blogging. 

Day 10: I am thankful for March.
The promise of spring to come. 

Day 11: I am thankful for being a grown up.
Hub and I had a new bed delivered yesterday.  It's kind of life changing what having a real bed can do for a room.  I LOVE it and it makes me feel so much more grown up to have a nice, new bed (considering our previous bed came from Ikea's as-is section for $35 - oh, how our lives [and budget!] have changed).

Day 12: I am thankful for a husband who's willing to join me as we step outside our comfort zone.
We took on the task of remodeling our bathroom this week.  Today we tiled.  Neither of us has ever tiled before or really had any idea what we were doing.  But, a little YouTube and some fearlessness and we have a beautiful floor!

Day 13: I am thankful for little celebrations.
Boy celebrates his 4-month birthday today.  What an exciting day.  I can't believe how fast times seems to pass and I'm so grateful to celebrate each day he's been here.

Day 14I am thankful for Cadbury Easter candy.
Cadbury Mini Eggs make life so creamy and delicious.  And they always remind me of my best friend, because without her, I definitely wouldn't fully appreciate their amazingness.

Day 15I am thankful for time.
I'm a little sad I didn't get to write a full post about this, because I was feeling really contemplative and wanted to talk about how amazing every moment really has the potential to be.  How we can waste so much of the time we are given with negativity or regrets, which just tarnish the moments we are approaching.  But, I'm just trying to catch up here.  So, maybe just those thought nuggets can get your own brain going. 

Day 16 (Today): I am thankful for my upbringing.
I was discussing with my mom the other day the fact that I really have no qualms about my upbringing/childhood.  I have nothing but fond memories of my school days, my home town, my friends, etc... Don't get me wrong, it's not like there isn't anything I'd do differently (namely my crappy job of keeping up with people post-high school), but I look back on those days and really just feel so grateful for it all.  Now that I'm a mom, I really hope I can help Boy to grow up in an environment where he feels loved and encouraged and happy. 

Hope you are all feeling grateful after all that! 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day Nine: No Guilt

I am thankful for: My decree to give up guilt.
Today was a really good day.  A really good day.  We had a work-from-home day due to the blizzard conditions in our northern town.  This meant that Boy, Hub and I were all in the same house for nearly the whole day (the weather had subsided by the time Hub had to go to work).  This meant I got to sneak up and kiss my kid when I went for a yogurt or a soda and I got to feed him instead of pumping every three hours. 

And after Hub went to work, Boy accompanied while I did dishes and sang to him (something that made him smile so big his face must have hurt!). 

Then, after a short nap, we had story time, bath time, and bed time.  It was one of the best evenings I've had with Boy in a couple weeks.  And here's why:The past 2 weeks, I was doing 6am trainings a couple days a week.  The trainings were good and I was happy to do them, but they rendered me super exhausted by the evening hours and I found myself pining for the time when Boy would be ready for bed. 

Thankful Moment: He was also coming down with an ear infection last week, so he wasn't as much his good natured self - so glad he's feeling better.

And, yes, I felt SO guilty for that.  I want to soak up every minute I can of his awesomeness, so to be counting down the time until bedtime made my heart just hurt.  But each day I reminded myself that guilt wasn't allowed and it was okay to be tired.  This got me through.

And then today I got to enjoy the evening without feeling guilty for the days that were hard, without feeling like I missed something by not having every day be like today.  Today was enough.  It was enough to live in the moment and enjoy every second I had - without harboring guilt for any other day that might not have been as great. 

I'm thankful for the constant reminder I have to stop myself from being my own enemy. 

I hope you enjoyed your leap day.

Day Eight: Antibiotics

I am thankful for: Antibiotics

2 years ago (my, my, my - how the time FLIES) just about this time I was sitting in a hospital room after my body had an intense allergic reaction to an antibiotic I had taken.  This was not the first allergic reaction I have had.  Antibiotics and I just don't get along very well. 

This week, however, I am SO grateful for them. 

I was playing with Boy over the weekend when I noted that he really got mad when I laid him on his back.  I couldn't set him down for anything.  Not even to play.  This was unusual.  Later, I noticed that he was tugging and pulling on his ear a lot. 

I had read that this could be a symptom of teething, so we played a little game and I checked his mouth for teeth buds.  None.

Thankful Moment: Teething at 3.5 months - no thank you.

Next up on the list of possible causes: Ear Infection.

So, Monday morning we took boy to the doc's office to have his ears checked.  Sure enough, infected. 

Now it's Wednesday and he is already feeling so much better.  Not perfect, mind you, but much better.  I'm so grateful for modern medicine and that my little tiny man doesn't have to be in pain for very long.

So, I am thankful for antibiotics. 

(I also realize I'm writing this Day 8 post on Day 9.  There will be another post today yet!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Day Seven: Chobani

I am thankful for: Chobani Greek Yogurt

I started a "diet" of sorts today.  I have a big family get-together coming up in April and I'd like to lose a bit of weight before that event.  As a part of that diet, I've planned out my between-meals snacks to keep from getting too hungry.  Given that I'm nursing, it doesn't take much for me to get hungry, so I really wanted my snacks to pack a punch [of protein].

I'm a big yogurt fan.  However, traditional yogurt is a bit high in carbs for my taste (just from added sugars).  Then, there's Greek yogurt - with twice as much protein and typically more natural sweeteners, I'm game. 

I've tried a few brands of the Greek stuff - and some of it is hard to eat.  It's got a bit of a bite.

Well, my local store recently started carrying Chobani brand Greek yogurt, so I decided to spend the extra quarter and give it a try this week. 

Life. Changing.

It's creamy and smooth and sweet and without that bite to it. 

So, I'm happy, full of protein and ready to lose this baby weight and get back to my old self. 

Thankful Moment: I like the mental shift that comes with focusing on healthy eating.  One day in and I already feel better. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day Six: Schnauzer

I am thankful for: my schnauzer

Such is the life of a dog.
I am a creature of routine.  I operate best when my life follows a routine of some sort.  For me, this means that my Saturdays include meal planning and grocery shopping and my Sundays involve church and cooking/food prep for all our meals for the coming week.  Today, church was canceled due to snow, so cooking was the only thing I really had on my "to do" list. 

Thankful Moment: I really enjoy church, but I hate driving when it is actively snowing, so it was nice to not have to worry about trying to drive in the snow with Boy in the car.

Those who know me best can tell you that I'm not the most coordinated.  Also, when I'm cooking on Sundays, I'm typically preparing multiple meals simultaneously; this means there are a lot of ingredients on my counter and going into pans and bowls.  Often, ingredients do not make it 100% into their desired location and they land on my floor. 

Cue: Schnauzer.  Sunday is probably my miniature schanuzer's favorite day of the week.  He sits dutifully by my side for 3-4 hours while I cook and nothing hits the floor without his taking notice and cleaning up said item.  I've yet to drop something he is unwilling to clean up for me. 

This includes, but is not limited to: olives, pasta noodles, ground beef, butternut squash, vodka sauce, mushrooms, and eggplant. 

Without him, my cleanup would be a significantly bigger pain (and let's be honest, the cleanup for 4-5 meals is already a pretty big ordeal). 

So, today, I'm very grateful for my dear little schnauzer who thinks everything is delicious. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Day Five: Baby Giggles

I wonder if interpretive
dance is included?
I am thankful for: Baby Giggles

Boy is ridiculously good about sitting in his bouncer.  He loves the vantage point of being able to see everything around him.  I take full advantage of this whenever I need to get something accomplished, like take a shower or straighten the living room. 

Today, the task was putting away groceries.  I put his bouncer on the island, secured him safely inside it and began emptying the grocery bags.  I was explaining each item to him as I put it in its proper place.  This was entertaining to him and he was smiling big while intermittently voicing his opinion, when my elbow (or possibly my still-large-from-pregnancy-and-my-love-of-pizza hip) hit the button on his bouncer to begin playing the [terrible] lullabies that Boy loves so dearly. 

I know all of the inane little tunes by heart at this point, so I started singing along with it and doing some interpretive dance for him.

At this, his smiles gave way to full-on laughter (he's still young, so it's not those big baby-laughs you might be thinking of, but it was as big as his laughs currently get).  Of course, with a response like that, I couldn't stop.  I turned on our favorite Michael Buble Pandora station and sang and danced for him until he drifted off to sleep. 

Thankful Moment: I downloaded a ringtone of a baby laughing and that's what I hear whenever my mom calls - it never ceases to make me smile.

Had anyone else been laughing that hard at my dancing, I might have had to have a good cry, but his laughs warmed my soul and made me so grateful for him and the silly moments we have together.

So, go have a good laugh.  It is undoubtedly the cure for whatever it may be that ails you.

Day Four: Every Other Friday

I am thankful for: Every other Friday.

Note: The majority of this post was typed on 02/24, but I wasn't able to finish it...since it was one of those Fridays, so my evening was full and computer-free!  So, you will be seeing two posts today.

Hub and I have worked alternating schedules every since Boy was born.  This works out great in that Boy is always in the care of either Hub or I, we don't have to deal with daycare (minus a few hours a week when the hub is in class), and our income hasn't taken much of a hit having a third member of the family. 

Thankful Moment: I love having a third member of our family.

This schedule is a bummer in the fact that Hub and I rarely get to spend much time together.  The exception to this is every other Friday (and Tuesday, technically, but Tuesdays aren't weekends).  Every other Friday, Hub doesn't have to work, so we have the whole evening together as a family. 

We can go out to eat, shop, watch shows, hang out - whatever we want.  And it's great! 

Part of looking for these things to be thankful for really means focusing on the little things that bring joy into my life, and any time I get with my boys is really the best part of any day. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Day Three: Google

My mother also has aspirations to be a pirate - so
I have selected this logo in her honor, matey.
I am thankful for: Google (the Search engine, specifically)

I am a naturally curious person. I think I get it from my mother. I think she'd love to be a fact checker for a newspaper. There is no fact or tidbit or morsel of knowledge that doesn't seem to fascinate her. As a result, I like to know stuff. Not any particular stuff. Just stuff.

So, the fact that I have Google in my pocket (literally, I have an Android phone with a special button just for my searching needs) is endlessly helpful in helping me procure the answer to all of life's little questions.

Thankful Moment: I suppose this really means I'm thankful for the Internet, as a whole, for being filled with all the answers to life's most pressing questions. But, specifically Google for making it sooo easy to find what I need.

As I pull of a search history on my phone and computer, here are just a few of the recent searches I have done:

1) How old is Kiefer Sutherland?
2) What is the past tense of the word sh*t (sorry to offend anyone...this was important knowledge).
3) Pedestal sink with side cabinets - image search
4) How to increase breast milk supply?
5) When does the next season of America's Next Top Model start? (WEDNESDAY. Mark you calendars).

So, what have YOU Googled today?

Note: I have purposely withheld Kiefer's age from this post - how many of you are going to go Google it now...or already have?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Day Two: Sleep

I am thankful for: Sleep

A few moments ago I layed Boy down in his crib for bed.  He fussed for, oh, 60 seconds and then closed his sweet little blue eyes.

Thankful moment: I love those blue eyes.  I love my hub's blue eyes and I fully expected my kid to inherit my chocolate brown eyes, due to the "dominance" of said eye color. But those blue eyes steal my heart away each time I see them.

I am 10 ways past exhausted tonight. I've been waking up at 5am the past few days to conduct employee training for co-workers at 6am.  And tonight I'm feeling the worst of it.  The minute he closed his eyes, I felt my body just relax and prepare for sleep.

Before I heaved myself onto my bed and joined the little one in wonderous slumber, however, I came downstairs to write this post.  And, naturally, the number one thing on my mind is sleep.

Last week about this time, Boy figured out that he could sleep 7-10 hours stretches at night.  And for the first time in 3 and a half months, my body got to learn how that feels, too.  And, boy, does it feel good.

I'm thankful for the patience and endurance my body and mind have had during this long stretch of sleep deprivation.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to nourish my boy, despite the unfortunate hour on the clock many nights.  I'm thankful that the little one has always been pretty good about going back to sleep after middle-of-the-night feedings.  I'm thankful for each precious hour of sleep I'm able to get.

Speaking of which, I'm gonna go do that now...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Day One: Safety

I am thankful for: safety.

Yesterday, over my lunch break, I went with Hub and Boy to take my mom to the airport so she could return home after her little visit to see her grandboy.  On our way to the airport, it began to snow.

After dropping her off, Hub, Boy and I returned home so I could grab my car and get back to work.  I was running a little late, so, exercising poor judgment when driving in the snow, I was driving a bit too fast.

There is a freeway on-ramp not too far from my house that is raised high above the freeway.  As I made the turn to enter the ramp, I felt the traction slip out of my 1990's winter junker.  At this point I'm fairly sure I suffered a small heart attack as I imagined rolling down the hill toward the freeway. In a car with no airbags.  In the snow.

Thankful Moment: Better the junker than the new car.

I quickly gathered my wits about me and regained control before anything terrible could occur.  As I drove [carefully] back to work, I could not deny my overwhelming sense of gratitude to be safely on the freeway.  I realized how much of my life is spent in a car and how fortunate I have been to always arrive at my destination in safety.  I'm grateful for the reminder to take it easy and not compromise my own safety by rushing.  I'm grateful Boy was not with me as I learned this little lesson.  And as I sit here now, squeezing Boy's little fingers and kissing his perfectly round cheeks, I'm grateful for the safety and warmth of our home and the joy we have together.

Now, quick, it's Fat Tuesday - scarf down another cupcake before it's too late!

Monday, February 20, 2012

40 Days

Things you should know about me:
  • I'm a new mom (to, what may be, the most handsome baby boy ever - and I'm surely not biased).
  • I work full-time (and am the primary breadwinner for our fantastic fam).
  • My hub is a full-time dad (at home with Boy during the day), full-time student, and works full-time nights and weekends.
  • I like to cook, clean, sew, and all the other "housewifey" things I never have time to actually do.
  • I'm passionate about fitness - although the size of my current post-baby waistline might not indicate such.
  • I have two little dogs (a Shih Tzu and a Mini Schnauzer) who are fantastic little guys. 
  • I'm a people-pleaser; I dislike conflict and I try to be all things to all people, an exhausting task. 
Recently, as my maternity leave was drawing to an end and I was preparing to return to work, I remember, distinctly, a conversation I had with my mother. 

"Mom," I told her matter-of-factly.  "I know what I'm giving up for Lent."

This was particularly surprising to her because, at the time, Lent was still 2 months away and I do not belong to a religion that specifically participates in this ritual. 

"And that is?" she replied, sounding a bit perplexed.


Leaving my 9-week old son to return to work was about the worst feeling in the world.  But, it's far better for our family at this time for me to work.  Moreover, I knew it was going to ruin my time WITH my boy if I was hanging onto guilt over all the missed moments.  I knew I'd suffer as an employee if I spent my days feeling guilty for being there.  I knew I'd suffer as a wife if I felt guilty for not finishing the dishes each night or for letting the laundry pile up a day (or two) too long. 

I knew that if I let the guilt in, it would grow like a tumor and spread throughout all aspects of my life - and I couldn't let that happen.  Instead, I had to let the guilt go and hang onto the joy of each moment of the day. 

So, here I am, 2 days away from Lent and ready to take on my guilt-free challenge with a little twist:

Each day for 40 days, in an effort to remind myself not to
hang onto any guilt, resentment, anger, or negativity, 
I will blog about the things I am grateful for that day. 

I can't think of a better way to stick to my goal and count down the days until Easter - perhaps the most glorious holiday of them all. 

I encourage you to do the same.  But, if not, at least join me each day to focus on the things that fill life with joy (and a healthy dose of humor along the way).