Update on Life

Welcome back!

I’d like to say that I’m one of those moms that have everything planned out for each day and I have a schedule I stick to for me and my kids. But I’m not and I don’t. I’m winging it. Shit gets done though so I don’t think I’m going to change anything. Sometimes Michael will start on his homework right away in the morning and sometimes we don’t get to it until the afternoon. The day it was really nice out, he didn’t do any homework. Other than being inside to make meals and my classes I needed to be present for, we stayed outside. I loved it.

There are pro’s to being stuck social distancing right now. As much as being stuck inside drives me crazy, especially the days it’s not nice enough to go outside, I’m loving the time I get to spend with my kids. As we were sitting outside whatever day it was(they all blur together at this point) all I could think about was that those memories and moments never would have happened if Michael was in school and I was in school or at work. I get to be there for every new thing Willow learns and every roll she makes. She’s going to be crawling by the time this thing is over and I don’t have to worry about not being there the first time she does. One thing I always hated was that I felt like I was at work more than I was at home with Michael. If I wasn’t working I felt like I was failing him as a mom for not being able to provide for him. During this time it’s still super stressful trying to figure out how I’ll manage things but luckily there are things that can help me get through it and I finally get to spend that quality time with him. All the things that I didn’t get to experience with him when he was a baby, I get to with Willow.

But with every pro there’s a con.. Man I could use a break. Michael is starting to rebel and not want to do is homework or go to bed at night. He thinks he needs to be on his iPad all the time and I HATE when kids spend so much time on electronics. I have never and will never be that mom that shoves a phone in her kids face so she doesn’t have to deal with them whining. Michael can either spend his whole day throwing a fit about it or he can go play with his toys or go outside if the weather is nice enough. Back to the homework topic. I am doing terrible at turning his homework in. Mine is always turned in on time but I never think to get his in. I got a week behind before his teacher finally reached out to me and I forced myself to sit down and get it all sent in. It takes forever though! It’s the slowest process taking pictures of everything and each assignment takes forever to load and then even longer to actually go through. I do not recommend google classroom. As soon as I’m done getting all of his stuff loaded, Willow is usually mad for attention.

So as much as I love getting to watch Willow learn new things and grow, she is getting soooo clingy. Now is the time where it would be best for her to be in daycare so she learns that mom isn’t always around and that she can’t rely on the boob to sooth her all the time. She’s going through her “fifth leap”. I have an app that tells me when she is going through development leaps to know when to expect her to get fussy, TheWonderWeeks, I love it. Right now the leap she is going through is being able to tell that there is distance between objects. Which means now she can tell when mom leaves the room or isn’t two inches from her face. Since she thinks she needs all of the attention, I have yet to start and finish an assignment without having to stop and get her because she’s crying. I’m not complaining though, I knew what I was signing up for when I enrolled for school knowing I’d have a newborn.

Fluff Butt

Welcome!

A year ago I didn’t even know people still used cloth diapers and now I can’t imagine myself using anything else. Best decision ever.

First of all, so good for the environment. Disposables sit in landfills for years and the average kid uses almost 7,000 diapers in their life. That’s a lot of diapers. From birth to 6 months they average 1650 diapers. How many disposables have I bought from birth to 6 months for Willow? Around 650, and a whole box of them never even got used and I was able to give away. I saved around $320. That may not seem like a lot but considering that was only the first 6 months and I have another 2.5 years of diapering, it adds up. Especially since I now have a daycare that will let me cloth diaper there so I will never have to purchase another box of diapers again. Which really if I got in depth with the math of it, I will save even more now because every size bigger costs more. The box of 82 size 1 diapers cost me $26, a box of size 2 would cost me $26 as well but I’d only get 74 diapers. Size 3 for $26, you only get 66 diapers, and so on.

So cloth diaper expenses. I have 26 diapers and its more than enough to get me through the rest of diapering for her. So I seriously do not have to buy another diaper, ever. If I ever have another kid, I’ll be able to reuse the ones I already have. The first 12 I got as a baby shower gift so for my 26 diapers that will save me from buying 6350 diapers only cost me $120. I buy specific laundry soap for them which is 25 for a box and I didn’t have to buy my second box until last week. I’ve only invested $220 in cloth diapering so far, so unless I want to buy more cloth diapers(which is extremely temping, there are so cute!) I will only have to purchase laundry soap.

Did I mention how flipping cute they are yet?

Best pro to cloth diapering right now? I don’t have to leave my apartment for diapers and I don’t have to spend what little money I have without work on them. I don’t have to worry about not being able to find diapers while everyone is going crazy and stockpiling things. If I run out of wipes, I can just jump into using cloth wipes and save even more money there. Nothing like a pandemic to make me realize I made a good choice.

College Life

Welcome and Hello!

Is college as I expected it to be? Not really. I definitely wasn’t expecting a pandemic to happen in the middle of my first semester. What a twist.

I did expect it to be a lot harder, super thankful I was wrong on that one. Or maybe it is but because I waited to know for sure what I wanted to do and that I know I can’t mess up so I’m more determined to succeed. Or maybe the first semester is misleading and I have no idea what’s coming. I also wasn’t expecting to be so bothered by not having a 100% in all of my classes, like is that even possible? You’d think having straight A’s would be good enough but I jump on extra credit opportunities to get as close to a 100% as I can.

I wasn’t expecting to socialize with anyone while in school. I assumed everyone would be way younger than me, which I wasn’t totally wrong about. I don’t think there is anyone is my classes my age or a parent as well. I’m not expecting to leave school with any new friends but there’s a few kids that I don’t mind talking to. Honestly probably still not going to go out of my way to have conversations with anyone though, it’s a little hard to talk to people at a different maturity level than you, I tried.

The instructors have been way cooler than I was expecting too. I didn’t think they would be mean or hard asses like you read about in big fancy college settings but I never thought they would be as laid back as they are. They take school seriously and make sure everyone does what they are supposed to, but they also make sure we enjoy it along the way. Also, they are super understanding, I honestly thought me having to pump would be a problem that I was either going to have to fight or figure out how to manage but everyone went way above and beyond to find me a place and never made me feel like it was an inconvenience. I was also afraid that having my kids at home with me while I do the class meetings would be a problem. Sometimes it is a little hard to stay focused when Michael is constantly asking for things(even though I specifically send him to his room and tell him not to bother me) or Willow is demanding things. I’m still waiting for my luck to run out and have Willow start crying in the middle of me talking or presenting something though. But so far I haven’t been told it’s an issue and I’d like to think if she would start crying in the middle that they would be understanding about it.

I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect from college. Homework, tests, projects, the usual standard stuff that school requires. I haven’t had to write any long papers yet, but I don’t think I’d mind doing one or two, I like typing.

Biggest thing I did not expect out of school. Actually enjoying writing blogs. Somehow it’s therapeutic, mostly because I use it as a journal and I get to talk, well write, about things that I usually don’t get to talk about. I honestly thought it would be something I’d have to force myself to do the bare minimum every week just to say I did it, but now I catch myself looking at insanely long blogs and thinking, damn I need to chill.

College is great, I love being in school and learning new things. I could spend the rest of my life in school, studying, and learning new things and never get sick of it.

Life since Covid-19

Hello and welcome back!

I kind of went into social distancing in my last blog specifically with my kids so I’ll do a little update on how that’s been going since then and talk about how it’s changed my life with work and school.

To update, since my last post the daycare I work at decided to close for at least the month of April after there was a confirmed case in their county. Part of me was okay with this because it limits my exposure to getting anything, but the other part of me was upset not only because it was my income but also it was my only excuse to socialize. So now I get to figure out unemployment and all that fun stuff with everything else I have going on, fun. It’ll buff though, at least I have the option of unemployment and will still be able to take care of the bills I have without worrying about having to file bankruptcy when this is all done.

Next, kids. If I could, I would still send them to daycare everyday but I decided the best way to avoid any of use from getting sick is to keep us all home, all the time. I did a big grocery trip on Monday and don’t plan on leaving again until absolutely necessary. Which will be easy to do since I hate having to load up both of my kids every time I leave the house. Michael’s dad came in contact with someone who has tested positive so he won’t be going with him anytime soon. Willow’s dad recently lost his job so I thought he would take advantage of that and come see her as much as possible. I was wrong. Visited a little here and there last week and then went completely MIA last Thursday. Perfect timing, right when I needed his help the most with starting online classes. So now I’m trying to get her on a schedule that keeps her sleeping or happy during classes we do video chats on. So far it’s been alright, she slept the whole time today.

Having Michael home more often means I have watched soo much kids TV. Michael’s shows of choice range from Barbie to Highway thru Hell(trucking show). I never wanted to be that mom that lets her kids watch a lot of TV but on days when it’s not nice enough for a recess break I let Michael watch more than usual so he doesn’t get too bored being stuck in the house all day.

Michael and homeschooling. Man. Still not made to be a teacher. I don’t know how they do it, a whole classroom full of kids. I can’t even handle my own. It helped me gain a new level of respect for teachers. Michael can read a word and then on the next page see the exact same word and have no idea what it is. Example: one of his words he had to rhyme last week was light. Today the work light was in his readings and he wouldn’t even try sounding it out. Also I learned he was playing me on his matching assignments. He was asking for my help only because I would read the words for him so he didn’t have to try sounding them out. He wasn’t too happy when I realized it and made him start reading the words himself. Speaking of rhyming light, I tried to help him out by saying “you ‘might’ have to think of a new word” or “we can ‘fight’ about it”, anything I could think of with a word that rhymed without just giving him the answer. It didn’t help at all. So it’s still a learning progress for the both of us. On the bright side, he doesn’t have a lot of homework and hasn’t been fighting me on getting it done.

When it’s nice enough we take breaks outside and he gets to ride his new bike(:

Doing classes online. I’ll admit at first I wasn’t happy about moving online. I prefer to be in a class setting and I didn’t think I would like being online for everything. The biggest reason I wanted to do on-campus was because then I had to sit down and focus on the class and not risk being distracted by my kids. So now I just make sure Michael is upstairs in his room during video sessions because he’s annoyingly nosy and so far Willow has been okay but I’m sure my luck will run out eventually. Also, trying to do homework when I have to help Michael with his own homework, cook meals, do laundry, and feed Willow, it gets hard. I swear Willow knows when I’m doing accounting because it’s when she is the most needy. Accounting is my most time consuming homework and I’m lucky if I get through 3 pages of my working papers before she’s mad that I’m not holding her or nursing her. Breast feeding a baby while flipping through 10 different pages and a book is incredibly difficult, trust me I’ve tried. I succeeded but it wasn’t ideal. To be honest, I don’t really know how I feel about it all. One minute I will be thinking about how hard it can be but then I’ll remember the times I was able to get through stuff without any interruptions. Like today’s class meeting thing, Willow slept the whole time and Michael stayed upstairs, success. I’ve managed to get all of my assignments done on time, some even done early if they are available to do. I have been able to split up my time nicely between my stuff and my kids to everything has been running pretty smoothly here. Overall I don’t absolutely hate being online and if anything it made me realize I could handle an online setting and might see if I can just do all of my classes online from here on out regardless of when the school opens back up.

I really don’t know how I haven’t lost my sanity yet. I thought I would be having a mental break down by now but I’ve actually stayed pretty calm about the whole thing. As much as what’s going on sucks, it’s showing me that no matter what life throws at me, I can handle it and find the best way to get through it.

Social Distancing with Kids.

Hello! Welcome back.

I learned something very valuable while stuck at home with my kids. I could never be a stay at home mom.

Day one. It was pretty much like an extended vacation; we got to sleep in, no rush to get ready for anything, and we didn’t have to put real pants on. It was nice. Michael did his own thing switching between playing with his toys and going on his tablet, occasionally snacking, but mostly keeping himself pretty busy. Willow doesn’t really do much yet, just rolls around and demands to be fed every two hours. I debating getting all the cleaning and laundry done on day one so I could relax the rest of the time. I didn’t.

Day two. Michael was already starting to get restless and wanting to be anywhere but home and stuck with anyone but mom. Pretty much became a teenager and kept himself in his room all day with toys, tablet, and his Nintendo; only coming out for food, drinks, and bathroom breaks. Willow got a diaper rash and so I figured I would let her air out for a while. Laid out a mat and a towel on top then put her on it. Finally decided to do some laundry, while I was downstairs doing that, Willow managed to pee twice in two different spots on the towel and then get completely rolled off of it and then pooped all over the carpet and rolled around in it. I moved her out of it and back onto to towel while I went to get stuff to get her and it cleaned up. In the 6 seconds I was in the kitchen grabbing towels she managed to get rolled all the way over to it and in it again. Time to buy a baby gate. Other than that day two was uneventful.

Day three. With little sleep thanks to my lovely daughter cluster feeding all night, I was up way earlier than I wanted to be. Go downstairs to Michael on his tablet already, I’m about to take it away he’s on it so much. I can tell he is getting sick of being stuck at home with nothing new to do so by 10 am I was texting my sister seeing if there was room for him at daycare and off he went to play with friends. As if she knew her brother was gone and needed to take over his roll of stressing me out, Willow decided to be clingy. Which is a new characteristic for her, usually she’s pretty chill just hanging out on the floor by herself and with a few interactions here and there. Not anymore. She wanted to be held and fed 24/7. I got absolutely nothing done. Until I finally got her to bed at 9:30 and she’s smack dab in the middle of my bed while I sit here typing at the end of it hoping to not wake her up.

It’s still currently day 3 and I have no idea how I’m going to make it out of this social distancing alive. So many more events have taken place these past 3 days and I can’t even remember which day they happened to properly catalog them. It’s all one big blur and we aren’t even halfway done. Tomorrow I’m going to hide Michael’s tablet and make him go through his toys and do ‘homework’. Pray for me.

Top 10 products you need when breastfeeding

10. Nursing Cover. This is a must for nursing out in public. The wraps are lightweight so they are a nice breathable material for the baby and not uncomfortable for the mom.

9. Nursing Clothes. I highly recommend nursing tank tops and shirts. It makes nursing on the go so much easier.

8. Extra Storage Bottles. Sometimes you won’t be able to pump enough to make it worth putting in a bag to freeze it. It’s convenient to have something extra to put the milk in until you have a chance to pump more.

7. Bobby Pillow. This is a must have to make nursing a much better experience. It helps support the baby so your arms don’t get tired in the process.

6. Hands Free Pumping Bra. I waited to get one of these and I wish I would have had it from the beginning. It gets hard to balance what you’re doing or need to get done when you have to sit and hold a pump for half an hour. With a hands free pumping bra I have been able to do my hair and make up to get ready or eat a meal while pumping

5. Milk Storage Bags. This one is pretty obvious, you need bags to store the milk in. Having a bunch of frozen bottles in the freezer would just take up space. I use the lansinoh brand but I’m also a huge fan of the Kiinde bags, they are just a little more spendy.

4. Nursing Pads. These are going to prevent you from leaking through your bra and shirt. Also is it important to keep yourself dry because having too much moisture there can cause you and your kid to get thrush.

3. Pump Cleaning Wipes. Life savors. When you’re on the go and you need to pump it is so inconvenient to try finding a place to clean up your pumping gear but you can’t just leave the milk on it. So when I’m pumping in between class instead of having to take it all into the bathroom and have to clean it at the sink, I have just wipe it all down and be done with it.

2. An Electric Pump! Another obvious need. There’s no way your kid will be with you 24/7 that you wouldn’t need to be able to pump. I recommend the Spectra S1. Its a more portable one, you can charge it and use it without it being plugged in so its ideal for using when an outlet isn’t always readily available, or I have even pumped while driving.

1. The Haakaa Pump! This is at the top of the list because even before you start pumping you can use this to collect your let down and start building up a supply. You just put it on while you’re nursing and it collects the milk that naturally comes out as the baby eats.

Balancing Life

Hello again!

I never imagined I would voluntarily put myself into a situation where I was juggling so many different things at once and yet I find myself in the busiest time of my life all by choice. Having kids, going to school, working, breastfeeding, cloth diapering, and so much more and I wouldn’t change any of it. It gets stressful trying to find time for everything but when I remind myself that everything I am doing has a purpose and that it will be worth it in the end. I don’t get a lot of help from my kids dads. The biggest push to going to school was so I can get a stable job that pays good so I never have to worry about keeping a roof over my kids head or being able to feed them again.

To start with there’s my oldest, Michael James. He’s pretty easy to keep up with since he’s old enough to be in school all day but young enough to not have a lot of demanding homework. His only responsibility is to read a book every night and I love hearing how much progress he makes on a daily basis. It’s also easy to keep doing whatever homework I have while listening to him read. He gets himself ready for bed and usually doesn’t put up a fight when I tell him it’s time to. The biggest struggle I have with him is that I can’t really take him anywhere or do a lot of things with him now that Willow is here while she’s so young. He wants nothing more than to be outside playing in the snow right now but I can’t bring Willow out and I’m way to paranoid of something happening to him to let him go outside by himself.

Next is Willow Ann, to say she takes up the biggest chunk of my time is an understatement. As much as I love cloth diapering and am trying my hardest to stay on top of it, I end up getting behind in laundry and don’t have the time to get to it as often as I should. A lot of the time I end up doing it through out the night since I end up awake so often with her. I know all of the benefits of breastfeeding and I love the connection I have with her because of it, but it’s hard not to think about how much easier things could be if I gave up on it. I can’t remember a single assignment I have been able to complete without having to stop to feed her or to pump when shes not with me. Luckily pumping and doing homework is a lot easier than nursing while doing homework. I’ll take doing reading while nursing over trying to do accounting again any day. With the breastfeeding comes being woken up a million times a night, I can’t remember the last time I slept more than 3 hours straight and to be honest I’m not sure how I’m functioning anymore. Of course as soon as I get accustomed to my sleep schedule Willow got sick and now I spend most of my nights listening to her breath. I even spent $300 on an owlet sock to give me peace of mind, yet I am still so paranoid I can’t sleep.

I am impressed with my determination to still do as good as I can in all of my classes, I get as much done as I can in class unless I need to go home to pump. The two people that make juggling of it the hardest are the two people who drive me to getting up and going to class and getting my work done. I love that Michael can see his mom working hard on homework and feeling proud of the homework he does, he thinks it’s cool that we are both in school. Everyday we get to ask each other the same questions about how school was and what we learned that day. I feel proud of the grades that I have considering there were many times I questioned if going to school was a good idea and not thinking I could manage it was why I put it off for so long. I think it’s because I wanted until I knew it was absolutely something I wanted and needed to do that helps with the determination.

Now I just need that determination to be a good mom and good student to transfer over to being determined to keep my house clean. I need one of those signs to hang on my door about laundry piles meaning my kids have clothes to wear and dishes in the sink means they are fed. I personally things that upkeep on the house is the least important thing I have to worry about though.

Work is pretty easy to handle, I work at a daycare so I get to bring Willow with me everyday and on Fridays Michael doesn’t have school I get to bring him too. I love working with kids and I don’t know how I’ll say bye to them when I get a job here in Watertown. The only thing I don’t like about working on Friday is that it would be a perfect day for me to get homework and house work done while Michael is at school and Willow is at daycare.

It makes me think of one of the options for the blogs about a humble brag. I personally wouldn’t go on social media bragging about how well I’m doing in school and balancing being a single mom of two while I’m at it. There’s actually a pretty small group of friends and family that even know I’m enrolled, but it definitely doesn’t suck when those who do know about it say they are proud of me or believe in me.

Made it all the way to the end before Willow woke up and started demanding my attention. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Birthday Planning

Hello Again!

Lately my son has been talking about his birthday and what he wants to do for it, even though it’s not until June. It’ll be his 7th birthday and he’s pretty anxious to get older. So we have started planning it and trying to figure out what we want to do, where we want to do it and who we want to invite.

I would like to do a combined birthday party so both my family and his dads family can come to the same one, we will see if his dad will go along with it. Either way Michael and I have already agreed to doing it at the lake so we can do swimming and he is excited about being able to play in the sand. That is if the weather is nice enough, if it rains I honestly don’t know where I would be able to have it with that many people attending.

The most important part, at least to Michael, is the cake! He wants another construction themed birthday party and he wants my sister to make him the same cake she did for his 5th birthday. I was surprised he even remembered the cake and it took me a while to even find a picture of it so we could replicate it.

I probably won’t spend too much money on decorations since it will be outside at a public place and I’m not too worried about the looks since most of the kids will be too busy running around or playing in the water to care about them. I do have a few things in mind though.

I probably won’t do all of the ideas in the video but I will show it to my son and let him pick out his favorites to do. Since his obsession with construction has been since he was 4 it will more than likely be worth spending the money on because I might just end up using it again.

Even though it’s still a few months out I’ve even starting getting excited about throwing him his dream birthday party but mostly because his birthday means summer and warmth and I’m ready for beach days.

My Journey with Cloth Diapering

Welcome back!

This week I will be talking about my adventure with cloth diapering. I became interested in cloth diapering when a coworker, Heather, introduced me to it and after a lot of research I decided to give it a try. I did a lot of research and talked through all of my concerns with Heather. So far I love it. At first Willows dad wasn’t interested in it at all and it took a bit of convincing, but now even he likes them.

I started with looking into the diaper brands that are available and reading others reviews on them and their personal experience with cloth diapering. I also joined a cloth diaper Facebook page that helps with any questions or concerns regarding it. After reading into the wash routines and pros and cons I made the decision to give it a try.

Cloth diapers come in newborn size and one size fits all. After Willow was born I did disposables for the newborn size since I didn’t think it was worth buying the newborn size. I’m glad I didn’t because she was born at 8 pounds so she was already pretty close to the one size fits all minimum weight. I learned a “newborn hack” while doing my research and it allowed me to get started as soon as I got my first set of cloth diapers.

I got Alvababy’s from my family as a baby shower gift so that was what I started with. It was a little challenging trying to just cloth diaper when I only had 12 total. I felt like I was constantly doing laundry to keep up with it but I was determined. When we went places or I took her to daycare we still use disposables so that helped with keeping up with laundry. Once I was for sure I wanted to do cloth diapering strictly I invested in getting more. This time I tried Nora’s Nursery. And I LOVE them. The bamboo inserts work way better than the microfiber ones and I only have to use one insert instead of two reducing the size of them. Now I cloth diaper even when I’m out and about. I will start to bring them to daycare as soon as I get her into Little Blessings where I know they are okay with them.

Willow in a cloth diaper

I try to make it easier for everyone else who has to deal with them since it is my decision to do them and not everyone likes the idea. In reality, they aren’t any different or harder than disposables aside from the laundry aspect. The only difference is instead of throwing them away you put them in a wet bag. I have started to just keep the wipes in the diapers and I throw them away when I’m in the laundry process so when changing a dirty diaper no one has to worry about carrying gross wipes to a garbage. I also stuff them and pre-button them to make the process as simple as possible. So far the only people who don’t like them are the ones who don’t care enough to pay attention when I’m teaching them how to put it on.

Thanks to my cloth diapering journey I don’t remember the last time I had to buy diapers, which when you’re a broke single mom in college, it helps a ton. I plan to continue cloth diapering until she is potty trained(thanks to a one size fits all I won’t ever have to buy more diapers unless I want different designs) and if I ever have more kids I will use them for those as well.

Willow Ann

Welcome back!

Time to introduce the newest member of the fam, Willow Ann. She was born October of last year and is a little over 3 months old. Willow is highlight of Michael’s life and I couldn’t be more lucky with the love he has for her. She has been a great addition to our family.

Willow has a lot of my first. This is the first time I have exclusively breastfed for this long and I have also taken on cloth diapering with her. They are both a challenge but very rewarding. I never though breastfeeding would make my life easier and for the most part it has. Of course, sometimes it’s a little inconvenient to worry about feeding her or pumping but if I’m not in class I’m with her so its way easier to just feed her instead of getting a bottle ready. With cloth diapering there are challenges that make it not for everyone, definitely not as easy as disposable diapers but its also not as difficult as some make it out to be. Also the diaper covers you can get are super adorable and make it a little more worth it.

Some of my cloth diaper stash (:

Some milestones Willow has reached already is rolling and grabbing/holding things. With Michael he actually crawled before he bothered to roll, so having Willow rolling from back to stomach and back again already is a change of pace I wasn’t ready for. So I’m already preparing the house for her to be crawling around and getting into things as I’m sure she will progress through that just as quickly.

I honestly wasn’t ready to have a girl, Michael felt the same about having a sister. When we found out the gender it was around his birthday so part of his “present” was to come with to find out what we were having. When the ultrasound technician announced it was a girl, Michael dramatically threw himself on the floor and laid there. I couldn’t see exactly what he was doing but he made the technician laugh. It didn’t take very long for either of us to get on board with the new baby being a girl. He was just excited to be a big brother and I was excited for the new challenges and experiences that would come with her. Oh, and all the mommy and me outfits I was finally going to be able to buy!

Michael meeting Willow