Monday, August 26, 2013

The Kidless Vacation

What can be said about the kidless vacation?  Plenty! This is my husband and I's first true vacation without our kid.  We had a little overnight trip to San Francisco four months ago but I don't count that.  This is a five days, four nights an ocean away from our child trip.  Being the loving mother that I am, I had mixed feelings about this whole expedition. I have seen my child at least once a day since the day he was born, that was twenty two months ago. We left him with both of our parents, so I know he is in good hands. My main concern was that he would ask for Mommy and Mommy wouldn't be there. Despite my apprehensions, I knew I would have to be a big girl and just go. Jim and I needed a little time away and frankly I did not feel like toting a toddler around Maui. So we packed up and left. 

Let me tell you something, you want to feel like the world's WORST mother on the planet, look at your child's tiny quivering lip as slow tears slide down his cheeks, and he reaches out for you but can't really reach you because he is strapped into his car seat and he says "No Mama, No" in a panicked tone you've never heard before while you say goodbye and shut the car door.  Yeah, that was horrific! So horrific that for one split second I almost told Jim he could go without me. I came to my senses quick enough though.  I sobbed uncontrollably on my way to the ticket counter and I'm sure people thought I was crazy, but what can I say.

Fast forward six hours and I'm finally relaxing in the sun, snorkeling, and quite frankly a little tipsy from the complimentary Mai Tais on the plane.  Oh and it's only noon, Maui time.  All amazing aspects of the kidless vacation.  Experts say it's healthy for couples to get away from their child so they can reconnect as a couple.  I'm sure that's true but it's about so much more than that.  It's about sleeping in past 6 AM and not waking up to someone screaming, "MAMA, MAMA, POTTY!" It's about going to the bathroom without an audience and someone asking, "MAMA, POO POO?" It's about flushing the toilet without hearing "BYE BYE POO POO."  It's about being an adult again, if only for a few days, and being surrounded by anything but Bubble Guppies or Good Night Moon.  It's about having to only worry about yourself and no one else. You don't realize the fact you are on constant high alert every second of the day until your kid is not around.

So all in all I am glad we chose to come to Maui alone. But with all that said I cannot wait until Thursday so I can see my little monkey butt again.  I miss him like crazy!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Mother's Day Run

I've been staring at the sign for the Folsom Run with Nature for a few months now as I drive to work.  When I found out I actually had the day off a few weeks ago I raced home and asked Jim if he wanted to do it.  Surprisingly he said yes right out the gate.  No prodding necessary.  So it was decided, we were going to kick off Mother's Day Weekend with a little 5K as a family.

So this morning we got up, lathered on the sunscreen, put Baby J in the jogging stroller and walked up to the starting line.  That's the nice thing about living in Folsom, it was a quick mile walk up to the start and we didn't have to worry about battling for parking.  Plus it was a nice warm up.

We did have to make a quick detour to the bike shop on our way up to put air in the jogging stroller tires.  They were closed but thankfully they have an air hose outside.

We made it to the start with a few minutes to spare.  When the "gun" went off we were on our way.  We were at the back of the pack because of the stroller and that was a little hard for me.  My original plan was just to do a leisurely, non competitive walk with a little jogging here and there if I felt like it.  Well that plan went right on the window the minute I crossed the starting line.  I discovered the racing bug never really leaves a person once you've been bitten.  My competitive nature came out it full force.  As soon as I had enough room I started running.  And I kept running.  In fact I ran almost the whole race.  I had set a goal of finishing in 45 minutes so I kept looking at me GPS to see if I was on pace.

When I was .84 miles into the race the lead runner passed by on the other side on his way up to the finish.  I have to admit that momentarily set me back but I persevered.  It was a kick in the chops though to think this guy was almost done and I had barely even started.  Oh well.

Along the course I ran into some friends from work and our neighbor.  That was pretty neat to see people I knew.  In the end we finished in 40 minutes.  Five minutes faster than my goal.  Now I know that sounds like a long time, and it is when you look at my past race times, but I was so thrilled.  That was a big deal for me.  It was the first time I have raced since the Boston Marathon in April of 2010, it was the first time racing with a jogging stroller and it was hella hot out!!

Overall racing with a stroller wasn't too bad.  I did find it frustrating when I couldn't pass slower runners or walkers with the ease of running with nothing.  There were a few times I had to go off on the shoulder of the trail to pass.  Baby J seemed to like it though.  He spent the last mile or so babbling so it was like having my own personal cheerleader along the way.

I think Jim had fun too.  After all this was his first running race and he kept up with me the whole way.  He even pushed the stroller the last 3/4 mile.  I asked him if he would do another race and he said yes so I'm thinking of signing us up for the Folsom Fire Cracker in July.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's All About Customer Service

If Baby J was given a customer service survey in regards to his feeding satisfaction I’m pretty sure I would fail.

Survey: Tell me about your wait time?

Baby J: Well sometimes I get right in, other times I have to wait.  Sometimes I have to wait a long time.  I’m not sure why the wait can be so long.  It’s not like there is anyone else ahead of me in line waiting for a turn.  I’m told I will be helped in a minute but that minute turns into two, then five, sometimes ten.  I try to be patient by sucking on my fist or my toes but there has been more than one occasion in which I was forced to scream at the top of my lungs for service.  I hate to resort to that but hey it works.  I get fed like that!

Survey: Do you feel you are treated with courtesy while feeding?

Baby J: I guess so, for the most part.  I mean I’ve never been dropped or anything like that.  I am repeatedly told to “focus” while I eat.  I’m not sure what that is all about.  It’s not rocket science to get milk out.  So I like to look around while I eat.  What’s so bad about wanting a dinner and a show?  Besides I’ve mastered the art of turning my head while keeping the nipple in so it’s all good. If I feel it slipping I just bite down to keep it from going anywhere.

Survey: Are you given undivided attention while feeding?

Baby J: Never!  She’s either half asleep, watching TV (which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t always some black and white show.  Sometimes I want to scream “get with it lady!  This isn’t the 1950’s), or playing on some black square with a big Apple on it.  She’s always on that thing.  I’ve sneaked a peek a few times and it’s always set to some word game or drawing screen.  Sometimes she gets so involved she doesn’t realize I’m done or I’m slipping off the pillow.  I usually give a swift kick or a little pinch.  Gets her attention everytime!

Survey: How would you rate your feeding experiences overall?

Baby J: I would have to say there is definitely room for improvement.  The milk’s pretty good though so I won’t complain too much.  Besides I have discovered the joy of farting while I eat.  It’s so liberating!  I just let them rip and then watch mama’s face scrunch up all funny.  She tries to scold me but I just smile.  What’s she going to do?  I have her boob in my mouth and I’m getting a tooth.  You do the math.  She’s just got to sit there and take it.  Oh yeah, I love my life!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

When it comes to In-Laws I totally hit the jackpot!  I love Jim's family and enjoy the time I get to spend with them.  My mother-in-law and step father-in-law are the BEST!  I can't tell you how many times we've asked them for something and they have both been right there to help.  Jim's step dad is super handy so he helped us build our fence, deck, as well as a few other things.  They have also helped us move a couple times.  Jim's mom watches Baby J every week and is nothing like the stereo typical mother-in-law.  Anne and David, you rule!!

On the other side of Jim's family you have the Young's.  These are some of the coolest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  I absolutely ADORE going down to the Bay Area to visit.  Jim's Uncle Rick is a huge Giants, Warriors, and 49ers fan just like Jim.  I never knew how much fun one could have just hanging out in a garage watching a game until I met them.  Those Young's just crack me up.  I cannot wait until Baby J is old enough to really hang out with them and watch the games and play catch in the front yard.  I feel so fortunate to have the Young's in Baby J's life; however, one person is missing and that loss makes me sad.

Tomorrow will mark the 5 year anniversary of the passing of Jim's dad.  It was a sudden, unexpected loss and I still think about it a lot, especially now that I have a child.  I loved Jim's dad from the moment I first met him.  He was an amazing cook and made the best fried chicken.  Each time we would go down to his house he would make it for me since he knew it was my favorite.  He was the nicest man you'll ever meet and a big ole' teddy bear.

I will never forget the last time Jim and I saw him alive.  We had all gone up to Reno for the weekend.  It was Jim's dad, his Uncle Rick, and his Aunt Doris.  We stayed at the Fitzgerald Casino right on the strip.   Home of the World's slowest elevators!  I'm not sure where Jim went off too but Jim's dad and I were hanging out in the casino playing 1 cent Caveman Keno for hours.  We talked and laughed and had a great time.  At one point he and I went over to the players club to redeem a prize and the man behind the counter asked if I was his daughter.  He said "she's my daugher-in-law and she is pretty special."  I'll never forget that.  He passed away a month and a half later.

It makes me sad Baby J will never get to meet this wonderful man because I know how much Jim's dad would have adored Baby J.  I think I am extra sensitive to this because I never got to meet my dad's father either.  Everyone tells me how much he would of liked me and how we would have gotten along so well. I've always felt like there was a piece of my life missing and it pains me to think Baby J is going to have the same feeling.

Of course we will tell Baby J all about his grandfather when he gets older and he is extremely lucky to have two other amazing grandfathers who love him to pieces.  I just wish he would have gotten to meet all the Young's.  The one thing I can say is that Baby J has his grandfather's blue eyes and that makes me happy knowing a little piece of him lives on!


Monday, February 20, 2012

Home Sweet Home?

Jim has Baby J at his mom's house tonight so I have the house to myself.  I figured it's been awhile since I've blogged.  Now that I'm back to work time seems to vanish plus I haven't been ready to write this post but I feel I need to do it as it will help with the healing process.  

Some people know and others don't but a few weeks ago my house foreclosed.  I ask that you read this entire post before jumping to any conclusions or forming any judgements. Let me give a little back story.  Jim and I bought our house in June of 2006.  We had just gotten married and isn't it the American dream to buy a home?  I knew a realtor from my old job and set up a meeting just to see what our home purchasing options might be in the future.  I never dreamed we would be able to purchase something at that time.  The more we talked the more it looked like we were going to be able to buy sooner than expected.  So we decided to go look at some houses.  Little did I know I would find something I loved our very first time out.  When I get an idea in my head I don't always think it through.  I become so focused on the present and the want that I don't look ahead to the future.  This has come back to bite me in the ass more than once. 

Jim was more apprehensive then I was when it came to home buying and I admit I persuaded him strongly into submitting an offer even though I knew he wasn't ready.  Had I listened to his concern I probably wouldn't be where I am today.  But I was young, feeling pressure from the realtor to "not let it get away," and in love with the idea of buying a house.

Our offer was accepted the next day and the whirlwind of escrow began.  This is when everything started to spin out of control.  The combination of our realtor's lies, the corruption of our loan officer and me being completely naive spelled disaster.  In the end instead of being elated to be signing closing documents I was crying.  At that point I knew we had gotten in way over our heads and I didn't know how we could back out.  I thought we were locked into the deal and that was it.  If only I knew we could have walked away.

While we could afford our mortgage it was by no means comfortable.  Jim and I were working at full capacity every month and just hoped nothing major went wrong.  If it did we knew it would wipe us out completely and we would be finished.

People tried to tell us not to worry.  We would "grow" into our mortgage as we got raises and things like that.  As we paid off principal our equity would increase and everything would once again be all right.  Perhaps this would have been true but we all know what happened at the end of 2006.  The housing market plummeted and continues to do so. 

Our neighborhood was hit hard and we eventually found ourselves more than $150,000 under water. This is when Jim began doing some serious research.  We knew something had to be done.  There was no way we were going to be able to recoup the equity we lost anytime soon or even at all.  The house was getting older by the minute and although we had been lucky to escape with little maintenance we knew this trend wouldn't last.  Loan modification was not an option we qualified for nor did we want or need to file for bankruptcy.  Jim finally came across a method to get out of our bad investment.  It was called a strategic default.  It is where a homeowner who is so upside down basically walks away from the home and gives it back to the bank.

We consulted a lawyer before proceeding with our plan.  The lawyer told us many people were doing what we were about to do and with new laws passed we would not have to pay taxes on the remaining principal like in the past (it use to be if your house foreclosed the loan balance was considered earned income and you were taxed on it.).  Had we refinanced it would have been a different story and the bank could come after you for the money.  But because it was original purchase money the bank had no recourse.

It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever made but in October of 2010 we stopped paying our mortgage.  In the meantime we attempted multiple times to do a short sale but Bank of America would not cooperate and approve it.  That in itself is a whole other story. 

I have had many emotions about this whole process.  In the beginning I felt guilty.  I felt I was contributing to the economic crisis not helping it.  I was scared of what life would be like once I lost my near perfect credit score.  I felt a sense of relief because I no longer had the burden of this outrageous mortgage resting on my shoulders.  I was angry at my realtor and loan officer for lying to me and more angry at myself for allowing it to happen.  But most of all I was sad.  Sad that it all came down to this.  My American dream was crushed.

In the end I do not regret our decision.  While it has been a rough road and emotionally draining it was the best thing to do for our family's financial future.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons along the way so I don't look at it as wasted time.  After all that Jim and I have been through I know if we can survive the strain this house put on our relationship the first years of our marriage, we can make it through anything.  I now think through big decisions and don't act on impulse or fantasy.  Most importantly I now know the importance of being educated when making a decision that could seriously impact my family's future and not to rely on others, especially if they stand to benefit from it.

I think I am finally at peace with this.  There is a song by Mumford and Son's called "The Cave" that makes me think of my whole house situation.  It has nothing to do with foreclosure but I was listening to it as I pulled out of my driveway for the last time and it just seemed to hit home. There are a few lines I think about anytime I start to get emotional about everything:

I will find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

'Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

One day I hope to buy again but I will go about it in a much more responsible way.  

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The First Week

Well I survived my first week back at work.  It was nice to see everyone but I missed being at home a lot.  The first day was the worst, as I knew it would be.  I woke up and felt completely lost.  It felt like the first week home from the hospital.  I didn't know what to do first or how I should proceed with the morning.   Baby J was still sleeping so I tried to get everything done before he woke up then I could just feed him and go.  To top off all the confusion I was crying nonstop so every few minutes I had to go and get a tissue. 

Baby J wound up not waking up on his own so I had to help.  This only made me feel worse because I was really messing with his routine and there was nothing I could do about it.  I fed him, burped him and put him in the car seat.  Thankfully he didn't cry like he normally does when being strapped in because I was already a basket case and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have made it if he had. 

The weather matched my mood that day as it was pouring down rain as I put him in the car.  It didn't bother him though, he was smiling and talking the whole way to daycare.  When we got there Michelle was waiting.  She asked how I was doing and I just burst into tears.  Seriously I don't think I have cried that much in a long time.  We had a brief discussion about when he woke up and when he last ate.  I handed over his diaper bag and finally Baby J and I walked out the door. 

My heart ached as I drove to work.  I was super early so I sat in the parking lot and called my mom.  Her and my dad both reassured me that I would survive, which of course I did.  When I walked into work my manager, Ginny, had a "Welcome Back" balloon, a vase of Stargazer lilies and a box of bagels waiting for me.  It was a wonderful surprise and made coming back to work a little easier.  She also allowed me all the time I needed to organize my new teller window and get back into the groove.  It was nice not to feel rushed right back into the job.

In addition to remembering how to do my job I also had to adjust to the new routine of pumping twice a day.  It was awkward at first but by the end of the week I was a pro at setting everything up and doing what needed to be done.  I'm also pleased that I have been able to pump enough milk for him to drink during the day so that I haven't had to dip into my stash in the freezer.  I was concerned about my milk supply crashing since I wasn't with Baby J all day, another worry to add to the others.

Throughout the day Michelle periodically sent me text messages as to how Baby J was doing.   All in all he did great all week.  The only issue we ran into was his napping.  He stopped taking his normal two long naps and only had a few cat naps.  I'm not sure what that is about.  This led to him being unbearably cranky all evening long and not sleeping as well as he had during the night.  I'm hoping this will change this week and he will go back to napping.  He also might be teething and that could be why he isn't sleeping.  Last night was the worst of it.  He was up every hour from 11:30 pm on.  Needless to say I'm pretty tired today.

On Thursday my mom watched him and they had a blast going to Mommy and Me and then to Costco.  In the afternoon they went for a walk.  On Friday Jim's mom sat with him.  It is nice to know I have our parents to look after him two days a week.  They both come to our house so Baby J gets to keep some of the same routine that we had before I went back to work.

I still wish more than anything that I could go back to staying at home with him.  I miss him like crazy while I'm at work and can't wait to get home every night.  Maybe one day I'll get my wish to stay home but for now I'm just thankful he is in good hands while I'm away.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reliving My Childhood


So it all started with scouring thrift stores for children's books.  And not just any children's books, ones I read as a kid but didn't already own.  As I looked though each title I would get all giddy and feel a warm tingle come over me when I would discover one of those books.  I would buy it and bring it home to read to Baby J and a flood of childhood memories would wash over me.  I then became slightly obsessed with rediscovering my childhood.

I went back through all the books I had saved from when I was young and read them again to Baby J.  I picked all my favorites like We Help Mommy, Bobby's New Clothes, Ox Cart Man, and Miss Rumphius, just to name a few.  My mom and dad must have read these to me a thousand times.  To this day my mom still can't read Bobby's New Clothes.

After I explored the books, I pulled out my Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby.  I LOVED these as a kid but the one thing I remember is they both took four C batteries and batteries were expensive so once they died I had to wait until I could scrounge up eight more before I could play with them again.  My favorite story was Uncle Grubby, it was the pink tape.  Teddy and Grubby find some Fob eggs so Grubby sits on them until they hatch.  Such a heart warming story don't you think.  Beats the heck out of me why it was my favorite.  I feel so warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.

This morning I went on YouTube and found a bunch of Reading Rainbow episodes.  Oh my life is complete now.  Reading Rainbow as one of my favorite shows.  After watching six episodes I had to tear myself away from the TV or I would have been there all day.  But then Baby J woke up and needed to be fed so I justified watching one more.  Yes the show was rather corny at times, but I still love it after all these years.  The skits, the stories, the trips to different places, all of it.  I think it's almost more fun to watch now because I've been to some of the places on the show and it reminded me of those trips.  Like the episode where Levar Burton goes to Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts or the San Diego Zoo.  You can really tell the show was from the eighties by the clothing.  There is one episode where everyone is wearing sweat bands, leotards over tights and leg warmers while practicing a dance routine.  It was classic.

I still have more to do in terms of rediscovering my early childhood.  I have a lot of Fischer Price Little People toys at my parents house I need to pull out and play with.  I'm not sure what else I have stashed there.  Hopefully I saved my Light Brite.  I would love to play with that right now on this rainy afternoon while drinking hot cocoa.  It sounds delightful.

Baby J will get all of the things I saved.  I hope he enjoys playing with my toys as much as I did.  Maybe he will save them for his kids and when he pulls them out he will have the same happy memories that I have.