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My Word for 2014: Appreciate 1 January 2014

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I have several friends that instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, choose a theme word every year. I’ve never been big on resolutions, myself. But after thinking about it, I’ve decided to choose a word for myself for this year. Appreciation.

I have trouble appreciating things. It isn’t that I’m ungrateful. I am so grateful for everything I have. But I have a lot of trouble acknowledging and expressing my gratitude. I have lots of issues, and one of them is that I have this insane fear that if I acknowledge something good, it will go away, or that if I plan for a future event, it will go wrong or be taken from me.

I struggled a lot with this during my pregnancy and John’s first year. I hardly took maternity photos, I had a horrible panic attack when we went to register, I even delayed establishing care with an OBGYN. Because if I planned or admitted excitement or joy, then something might go wrong. I hardly have any pictures from John’s first year. Because if I celebrated his safe arrival, then he might have been taken away.

It’s entirely illogical, and I know that. But it is still a part of my psychology. I am learning to deal with it. To not be so afraid of living and experiencing joy – and loss.

So I’m going to try to consciously appreciate things this year. Not so much material things, though that too, I suppose. But express appreciation for my family, for my situation, for myself.

One of the things I’m going to try to do to this end is post a picture of John every day to an album on Facebook. I want to stop fearing that sharing my inner joy/appreciating my blessings will somehow jinx them.


I know this post has been less than eloquent. Oh well. My thoughts are still so scattered on the subject, and I have trouble finding words to express my feelings on this. But there it is.

Happy New Year.

Monies 26 September 2013

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I’ve started making money from home. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start trying to convince people to buy stuff from me or become one of those people you want to block from your Facebook newsfeed because the only thing they post about anymore is their business. (I have nothing against people who post about their work from home businesses, by the way. I have lots of Tupperware and pampered chef friends. But that’s not all they post.)

I have a very high respect for people who can sell. I managed to work retail for two years before it drained me. And some time before that, I managed three months at a call center doing inbound sales for a cell phone company. I hate selling. Even when I believe in the product. It’s great that some people can do it and enjoy it. I’m just not one of them.

Because of my aversion to sales, and public interaction in general, I’ve always viewed extra income as something that would be nice, but that wasn’t really attainable for me. Then I got linked to Swagbucks.

I think a lot of people have heard of them by now. Their hook is “get rewarded for doing stuff you already do online.” Essentially, what it is is you earn points for doing stuff. You can get them from searching the web through their search engine, or watching their videos, or playing their games, or shopping online from certain retailers, or completing tasks. Or some other things. You get the idea. So once you rack up enough points, you can cash them in for prizes. In theory, it’s a lot like an arcade: save your tickets until you have a lot, and you can get a cooler prize.

Except that you don’t have to save up. Because you can get an amazon $5 gift card for 450 points (“swagbucks”). And if you’re going for a different prize that you can buy through amazon, it probably takes fewer points to buy it with gift cards than from swagbucks with points.

That’s how I first got into it. I wanted an iPod touch. I figured I would earn it, get it free. I did the math, and using my points for gift cards rather than for the iPod itself would have taken something like 5,000 fewer points. That’s significant, since most stuff doesn’t pay out in big chunks.

I ended up getting an iPod as a gift before I saved enough points, so I didn’t follow that through all the way. But you can buy pretty much anything on amazon.

Maybe it doesn’t pay as well or as quickly as other work from home stuff. But I don’t have to sell anything or interact with anyone. In fact, with a bare minimum of effort, I can get five bucks every nine days. If you have a smartphone (or iPod touch), you can download the swagbucks tv app. You get two points for every five videos watched, with a maximum of 50 points per day. But here’s the great part – they play on an automatic playlist. So I set up my app to play sometime after midnight (nursing baby, remember?), and then just leave it. By morning I have an automatic 50 points. It’s pretty sweet. Five bucks a week isn’t much, but that’s for doing nothing. Not shabby in my book.

If this sounds awesome to you, you can sign up at http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/itsybitsyemu. (Or just swagbucks.com. But if you click that link to sign up, I get extra referral points.) If you don’t want to, that’s fine too. I mostly just wanted to share my happy. :)

Sometimes Babies Just Need to Cry 26 September 2013

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I can’t count the number of times I was told that during my first year of motherhood. The first time was by my father, when Cuddle Bear was only about three weeks old. We went over to their house for dinner. He got hungry and started crying. I went to pick him up and take him to nurse, and my dad said it – sometimes babies just need to cry. Let him wait until you’re done eating.

All I could think was…But he’s hungry. He should be hungry, he hasn’t nursed in two hours. It’s time for him to eat. He won’t understand my making him wait if I do that.

I took him and nursed him, then returned and finished my dinner. It didn’t hurt me at all.

You know why babies just need to cry sometimes? Because they need to communicate. It’s how they get mama’s and daddy’s attention. They need to cry to say, I’m uncomfortable! I’m hungry! You aren’t paying attention to my less annoying cues, so here: I’ll get louder! They need to cry so that we can take care of them.

Toddlers, on the other hand. Oi.

Cuddle Bear is a toddler now. He is willful and determined and fully lives the saying, “I don’t know what I want, but I’m going to scream until I get it.”

I didn’t ever let CB cry it out when he was an infant. I don’t believe in that, no matter how many people told me I should. But now, it’s changed. It isn’t that sometimes toddlers just need to cry. It’s that sometimes mamas just need to let toddlers cry. He woke up early this morning. He bonked his head and so he nursed extra. He was fullish from nursing, so he wouldn’t eat breakfast. He wanted to be held and carried by mama while grandma was here (who came over so I could work on a project). He still wouldn’t eat after grandma left. He would scream for oatmeal (ME-OH! ME-OH!), then when I tried to give him some, scream NOOOO like I was attempting to force it down his throat. Not that I didn’t consider it, I just know from experience that it doesn’t work.

Finally, I decided that I just needed to let him cry. Even just for a little while, so that I wouldn’t go insane. I knew he was tired and needed more sleep. I put him in his crib, told him (over the shrieks) that I loved him and that I would be back after he took a nap, and closed the door. I made myself some tea. In about three minutes, the screams subsided to silence punctuated by half-hearted cries. In another minute, he was asleep.

Toddlers don’t work like babies do. If I treated him like I did when he was tiny, it wouldn’t work. He won’t go to sleep while he’s being held anymore. He won’t calm down without being spoiled or catered to constantly when he’s like that. He just needed to take a nap. When he wakes up, I’m betting that he will be hungry and willing to eat, after which he will be a whole lot happier.

Or at least, I’m hoping that he will be. He might still be terror child, but at least I’ll have had a bit of a break. Because sometimes, I just need that. I need to let him cry for four minutes, so that I don’t go crazy.

Insomnia 21 September 2013

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I think I’ve figured out why I haven’t been sleeping.

The thing is, a small part (or maybe a medium-sized part) of me doesn’t want to sleep. Night time, late at night when it is dark and quiet, is the only time I am alone. The only time I can read, or be on my computer, or just sit or lie there, and not be interrupted or pulled at or need to do anything. And giving that up to sleep is hard.

I love sleep.

But I realized tonight that I also love alone time. Quiet time. Peace.

I haven’t had much of that since Cuddle Bear was born. I love him more than the world, and wouldn’t trade him for anything. But he is social to the extreme. Every day we have to be out of the house or he goes crazy. He doesn’t really play by himself. He wants other people around, to smile at him and talk to him, to smile at and to talk to and to perform for and to make laugh.

I am not extremely social. I like people, and I am social. But I could stay home for several days in a row without leaving, and be perfectly happy. CB goes crazy if we’re home for more than two hours. I imagine, from the way he acts, that he gets worried that the rest of the world has disappeared. It’s like he’s saying, “Mama! I haven’t seen anyone but you for a WHOLE HOUR! WHAT IF NO ONE ELSE EXISTS ANYMORE?!? WE HAVE TO GO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IS STILL THERE!!”

All this to say, my alone-time has suffered. And I think I’m making up for it by simply not sleeping.

I should probably stop that. It’s making other things suffer. Like…all of my daytime hours.

It’s nice to possibly figure it out, though.

Getting There 30 August 2013

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My last post earlier this month was tentatively optimistic. And then everything fell apart again. Like it has once or twice before, it culminated in HH confronting me about it and saying that he couldn’t handle it how it was. My problem is I get overwhelmed and when that happens, I shut down. I am not good at handling one thing at a time. So when there are lots of things, it doesn’t go so well.

I’m in counseling right now. Again. Finally. I miss my counselor from college so much. She was perfect for me. MC (My Counselor) is not perfect for me. She annoys me a lot. Maybe I just have too high of standards because K was so fantastic. But there are good things about her. For example, it turns out that her day-job (the counseling is a ministry through a local church) is home organization and decorating. So last session, she decided that our next few sessions, instead of meeting for counseling, she was going to come over and help me get clean and organized. It is way outside the job description, and I’m not sure if the pastor in charge of the program would okay it, but she was the one who suggested it, so I went with it.

She came over yesterday. It went so well.

She brought her 11-year-old daughter, who was fantastic with CB while he was up, playing with him and keeping him occupied, and was super helpful when he was napping, always asking what she could do and how she could help. I think I may like her more than I like MC.

Anyway, we got the kitchen, dining room, and living room done. MC scored a bunch of free stuff from a friend who was having a garage sale, so now we have more lamps and decorations, and a bunch of tubs. And she helped me organize. Yay! They are going to come back next week and we will do the bathroom and two bedrooms. Yay! I am feeling so much better about this. More confident in my abilities, more peaceful about the house. And CB does SO much better when the living room is clean. He won’t play by himself at all when it’s a mess, but when it is clean, he can go for thirty minutes or more without needing me to entertain or interact with him. Once his room is clean and organized, he will be able to play in there, too. That will be fantastic.

So, yay! Yay for help, yay for organization and cleanliness, and yay for positive updates.


Fresh starts 12 August 2013

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We’re starting this week with a fresh start. Handsome Husband is beginning his new job today. I’m meal planning and going to cook and we’re going to stop eating out. We’re going to follow a chores chart to keep the house in order.
The past doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that I’ve sucked at these things in the past. If I dwell on that, I will fail again. Fresh start. I’m worried, of course. It’s my nature. I worry about everything. Or at least, most things. But I’m working on it, fighting the worry, not letting it disable me. I think I’m making progress. HH is so encouraging and supportive. He really believes I can do this, which makes me feel like maybe I can. Maybe this time I’ll finally get my act together and do a good job. Maybe I can finally figure out how to be a good housewife and stay-at-home mama.
I feel like if I can just get some systems in place, establish a routine, I’ll be able to do it. The trouble comes in the establishing part of that. I am the least organized person I know. I’ve struggled with it my whole life. I don’t like messes and disorganization, but I have never been able to get away from it. Maybe now that Cuddle Bear is getting older and can play on his own more, I will be able to do more. I’m tentatively optimistic, which is good.
I need to clean the kitchen today. Desperately. If this is going to work, I need to get it back to clean. Full reset. Hopefully when CB is napping today I can get some of that done.
I know that everything will be easier once I’m following a routine and have my systems in place. And I think, for the first time, that I might actually be able to do it.

Night troubles 27 July 2013

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Cuddle Bear is having night terrors. It’s hard on multiple levels. The worst part is that I hate for him to be going through that. He wakes up screaming bloody murder, and I rush to get him. He’ll be all sweaty and frantic. When I pick him up, he throws himself against me and snuggles into my neck. I get him to our bed and latch him on to nurse, and he’s almost immediately asleep. He’ll nurse for maybe five minutes and roll off, dead asleep again. This repeats about once an hour. All. Night. Long.
Which brings me to another part of the difficulty of this. I’m not getting any sleep. I already have insomnia issues. Add to that getting woken up by a frantic baby every hour, plus the fact that I can’t sleep when he’s in the bed. And then there’s the times I can’t relax enough to fall back to sleep after I get him in his crib, because I’m just waiting for him to start screaming again.
So I’m exhausted. CB is over-tired. And we’re both awfully grumpy because of it. Poor HH. Today was so hard for all of us. Because apparently when CB’s sleep is messed up, he won’t nap. Which means mama didn’t get a nap, either. Poor daddy.
I’m told by a friend that it’s a normal phase that doesn’t last long. Of course, she didn’t define what not lasting long meant. A week? Three months? I guess we’ll just deal with it, but man does it suck.

27 July 2013

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I follow several “positive parenting” blogs and Facebook pages. A lot of it makes sense to me. But the problem is, things tend to be directed towards parents of toddlers or older children. When your child can understand everything you’re saying, and can express themselves with words, it’s easier to talk through issues and use gentle parenting methods. They never really address what to do with your one-year-old who bites and hits. Cuddle Bear doesn’t have enough words and signs to fully communicate, and there’s only so much I can do with holding his hands and saying, “We use gentle hands. Hands aren’t for hitting. Be gentle.” Holding his hands just makes him more angry. If it does sink in, it’s only for about five seconds; he’ll touch gently, then immediately hit again. And these blogs don’t say much more than “be patient, listen to the intention behind the actions.” Which is good advice, but not enough. What about when the intention to hurt me because he’s angry that I won’t let him do something dangerous, like chew on cords? He doesn’t understand what danger is or what big ouchie means. So he just gets mad. I understand the things they recommend for calming down children and helping them work through their emotions, they just don’t really apply to CB yet. It’s frustrating, and I don’t want to use fear. But I also don’t want to spoil him, giving him whatever he wants to make him happy and avoid conflict.
I guess I’m just really looking forward to when he can talk and understand me better.

Breaking up is hard to do 16 July 2013

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I’ve never had to break up with someone before. There was one guy in college that I had to tell, “I don’t think we’re looking for the same thing.” In that instance, he was looking for a wife, and I was looking for someone I could have an intelligent conversation with. But it wasn’t breaking up, because we’d only been on two dates. We weren’t in a relationship.

Now I need to break up with someone, and I’m terrified. Not my husband, love of my life, don’t worry. But I’m in a relationship that needs to end, and I don’t know how to do it. There is a local organization that helps low-income parents. One of their programs is a mentoring thing, where new moms get paired up with older moms. It isn’t counseling, just experienced support. I really, really like my mentor, S. But I just don’t have time or emotional energy to put into the relationship anymore. It’s supposed to be a year commitment. The thing is, I’m not really getting anything out of it, and there are other friendships and groups that I would rather give my time to.

But I don’t know how to break up with S. I’m so afraid of hurting her feelings, or making her mad. Or…I don’t know, getting in trouble with the organization, somehow? Not that I got in trouble when I very loudly and publicly cussed out my (crappy, flakey) former counselor before storming out of the building. And S is my last connection to the organization. So even if they get upset, it’s not like they can do anything.

I guess I’m just worried because I really like S. If it were a compatibility thing, or I hated her, I wouldn’t have such an issue. But it really is an “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I know I just need to buck up and talk to her about it. I just don’t want to.

Thoughts in the middle of the night 22 June 2013

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I love nursing my son. But sometimes I hate it. Like when his latch is bad and it hurts. Always on the left side. Maybe it’s not his latch; it looks fine. But I can’t think what else it could be.

I like zen mode in bejeweled. No pressure, just matching endlessly. No worries about saving your hypercubes until you’re out of other moves. Plus you can have the visual breath regulation thingy, which is cool. Hard to follow it when I keep wincing from the bad latch, though.

I need to remember to not play candy crush the same way I play bejeweled: “oo, if I move that there, and they fall right, maybe I can finagle them into position for such-and-such!” Bejeweled doesn’t have limits on how many moves you can take.

Cuddle Bear calls all electronic devices “beep beep” without regard to whether or not they actually beep. It’s pretty darn cute. Until he freaks out because I won’t let him chew on my iPod.


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