Hybrid Mommy

I’ve been really torn and struggling with something, so I thought I’d put it out there and see if anyone has any advice.

There are the occasional times when I think to myself, “I truly have the best of both worlds.”

Two days a week, I get to 100% stay at home with my kids, wake up with them, spend the day playing, have lunch, put them down for their naps, all without having to worry about the clock. While they’re sleeping, I get to write, read, or clean up around the house (with a toddler who wants to do EVERYTHING himself, it’s usually the latter).

On the other hand, I also get to have a career. Not a job, a career! I get to teach English literature and writing, which has always been my dream. Not only that, but my husband gets to teach with me! We spend our evenings “prepping” for the coming days, discussing books, writing techniques, and how to better prepare our students for living Godly lives. While I’ve sometimes felt like he’s encroaching on my “turf”, so to speak (um, hello, newcomer to MY English world!), I recognize that we’ll never have to be one of those couples who says, “Oh, what did you do today?” We get to share it all!

Thanks to my awesome boss, who partially designed the class schedule around me, I work 10:40-12:10 M,W, Th, and then 12:45-2:15 M and Th. She did this to give me the ability to run home and nurse (good thing we live 90 seconds away!). She even scheduled classes so that Jesse’s prep period is when I’m teaching. If something ever happens with the boys, I have a sub right there. Thanks to this schedule, we will probably never need to use any of the milk I’ve pumped/stored! I also have awesome family to fully cover my babysitting needs!

In the evenings, I also teach piano lessons in short 30-60 min. clumps, here and there (about 6 hrs./week). This enables us to save close to $1500/month!

So I definitely acknowledge that God has poured out abundant blessings on us. I honestly don’t know how we got so fortunate. We don’t deserve it, that’s for sure.

That being said…being a “Hybrid Mommy” has it’s own unique set of challenges. I never get to fully immerse myself in one or the other. For example, I don’t get a lunch on Mondays and Thursdays– instead, I am running home in between classes to nurse Anthony. I am constantly juggling babysitters and feeding schedules, managing our bills, groceries and dinner schedule, cleaning the house and doing all the laundry, while ALSO creating lesson plans, grading papers and taking notes on books. In the evenings, I am running my piano business, which involves much more than just teaching. I feel like each is a full-time job, yet I’m forced to do them all in half the time.

Basically, this is an emotional rant more than a logistical one. I can do this without too much hardship. But I feel so torn between both worlds. It’s really hard to both work AND be a stay at home Mommy. I don’t think I ever realized that until now.

I also want to be fully present wherever I am. This is SUPER CHALLENGING when being a Hybrid Mommy. When I’m with my boys, I have to be thinking about what I need to get prepared for tomorrow in order to be ready for class. When I’m with my students, I am wondering in the back of my mind if the boys are okay without me (they are, 99% of the time. Gregory practically crapped his pants with joy when “NANA” came to the door yesterday!).

In fact, as part of my “first day” speech yesterday, I said, “Instead of spending time with the 2 most important little people in my life, I’m here teaching you guys English. It’s not because I need the money, it’s because I believe in what I’m doing. So don’t you DARE let me catch you dissing my class or my subject.” (I think I scared them, just a little bit 🙂 )

So it’s definitely hard to remain present, especially because I don’t compartmentalize well. I find myself wishing I was one or the other– a Fulltime working Mom, or a Fulltime Stay at Home Mom. But I know this isn’t me. I would (and have!) gone crazy just being home all day, and I would go crazy missing my boys if I didn’t get to see them until dinner time. I can’t imagine not being a Mommy, and I can’t imagine not being a teacher.

I’m very fortunate to have a husband who believes whole-heartedly that I belong in both worlds. He encourages me often, saying that because God gave me such a wide array of gifts and he would be sad not to see me use them. That definitely takes the pressure off.

But I still wonder if I am really doing justice to either job.

Then again, aren’t we all “Hybrid Mommies” of a sort? Being a mother requires one to always be multi-tasking. It’s always a challenge to remain “present”.

Does anyone else deal with this? It’s not quite “Mommy guilt”…but I can’t put my finger on what it is. Perhaps, simply put, it’s just, “Life”?

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Anniversary #6!

6 years ago today, Jesse and I vowed to spend the rest of our lives together. Boy, do we have plenty of adventures to show for those years! Not to mention our adorable offspring.

Jesse knows me so well that he picked the best restaurant ever for the occasion– Thomas Hill Organics in downtown Paso. They grow their own produce at their farm outside of Paso, and buy everything else locally. Their menu changes weekly, depending on availability. SO ME right now!

After a great dinner with one AWESOME glass of wine and even some beer, we left to rescue my mom and sister from AJ…you see, they offered to babysit. I left a frozen bag of milk, PLUS I pumped some right before leaving (he was asleep). Well, whaddya know, he doesn’t want to take a bottle anymore? Hmm. Granted, he’s only had 4 in his entire life, but his last one was only a few days ago! This little development should make things scary interesting for the next 8 months! Although it has the potential to be a logistical nightmare, a part of me kind of likes that he only wants me…

Anyways, back to rescuing my mom and Janelle from the screaming baby. They drove the 15 minutes to meet us in Paso, so we didn’t need to go far. I was able to nurse AJ (he nursed like he’d never nursed before, seriously. The kid GUZZLED like a tropical fern suddenly transported to the Sahara Desert), then give him back to my mom who drove him home.

The end of our date consisted of getting some frozen yogurt and reminiscing about the past 6 years and setting relationship goals for the next year (c’mon, it’s not a “Cone” date unless there are goals…).

As we drove back, I remarked to Jesse how COOL it is that we have 9 years of memories (6 married, 1 engaged, 2 dating) to look back on. Yup, it’s pretty neato.

Just so you can see how awesome and creative the menu was!

It’s such a cute little restaurant!

The wine was absolutely incredible.

Kale/avocado/mushroom salad

Jesse’s pizza with amazing cheeses that I can’t even pronounce

Trader Joe’s

One more reason to love living in a small town– everyone is extremely kid friendly and patient!

For the past few weekends, Gregory and I have gone on a “date” to Trader Joe’s for a few groceries. He has an absolute blast! I love it because it gives me the chance for some one-on-one time with my first little love. We even have a special song that we sing: “Gregory and Mamma, going to the store! going to the store! going to the store!”

They have these adorable kiddie carts!

Instead of pushing two carts, we put all the groceries in his! He was actually REALLY good at maneuvering this all around a semi-crowded store. He wouldn’t let me help him push in the slightest though, so I was a little nervous at times (two words: wine.aisle.).

The cashier was so kind and friendly, letting Gregory hand him the groceries one by one, asking all sorts of questions, making G feel grown up and useful.

At the end, they have a kiddie play station, so Gregory and I pushed the trucks for a few minutes before heading home

I Work Out

Although I’ve worried many times about how exercising will affect my milk production for Baby Anthony, Jesse and I have decided that it is absolutely essential for me to keep as a priority in my life.

True confession (that probably deserves its own post someday): I’ve been struggling hardcore with post-partum depression for the past month or so. All the crazy post-baby hormones have kicked in– my hair has been shedding like crazy, I feel like crying 99% of the day for no reason at all (and when there IS a reason…look out….), I feel sleepy ALL the time, despite the fact that Anthony sleeps through the night with small “dream” nursing sessions that neither of us really wake up for (so thankful for our co-sleeper!), I feel anxious and panicky almost all the time, and, most notably, I’ve become SUPER SUPER forgetful. As in, I lose my keys once a day (not like me), I pour a glass of water because I’m thirsty, then walk away looking for my glass of water….it’s bad.

I would like to say, first and foremost, that Jesse has been a Rockstar Husband through all of this. He is kind, patient, and hears out every irrational emotional storm. I think that dealing with someone who is depressed must be a lot harder than other trials, because it means you have to withstand the everyday. But instead of wearing down, Jesse has been stronger and more supportive than ever. In the spirit of seeing something good come from this, it’s that I become more and more assured, every single day, that I am Jesse’s first priority and that he will always be there to help me, no matter what.

But enough about that. Working out has been a HUGE help to me throughout this process. I’m making sure to eat plenty of (healthy) calories, and I’m checking my weight often to make sure I don’t lose any, so hopefully this won’t have any adverse side effects in the long run. I will say, however, that although I’ve made sure not to LOSE weight, I feel and look so much different than I used to! Almost all of my old clothes fit, and it definitely helps with my energy.

A rare picture of Anthony and I together

Here has been the routine that I have stuck with semi-faithfully for the past 3 weeks:

Cardio: I hate doing cardio, but I have established a habit of swimming laps at the gym 2-3x/week. I broke out my old swim team suit from the 7th grade (yes, I still fit in it! How weird, now that I think about it…). I can actually swim sets for 30 minutes straight, with small 30 second breaks in between each 100m! Take THAT 4 months post-partum!

This isn’t me, but I thought it was a funny picture 🙂

Strength: Okay– the name is TOTALLY silly. But this DVD WORKS. Even when I was in shape, I couldn’t walk for a day after I tried this thing. I’ve counted over 100 squats in the strength routine. My arms are like rubber afterwards…so tired!

Abs: Pilates are the BEST. By far. I lost an inch around my waist over these past 3 weeks, just by doing Pilates! I try for 20 minutes, 2-3x/week.

Flexibility: Last, but not least, I told you that Jesse and I are just starting to try out yoga. He does it every day, and I join in once or twice a week. We’ve used:

Anything by Shiva Rea is gold. Jesse found a bunch of free workouts online and put them on a DVD

Rodney Yee’s power yoga is HARD…we haven’t *quite* worked up to this pose yet!

Jesse’s also used the P90x Yoga, but I haven’t dared….

That’s it for now!

Gregory 22 Month Letter

Dear Gregory,

These letters are getting tougher and tougher to write! While I have plenty of facts to fill them with, I just don’t know how to convey the sense of love and wonder you cause your parents to feel. Every time you discover something new about the world, it feels us with unspeakable joy, as though WE discovered it too. When you enjoy an experience, Mommy and Daddy can’t help but smile at each other and say, “THIS is what’s all about.”

You had a bunch of new experiences this past summer. You went camping for the first time you can remember (the REAL first time was when you were 9.5 months old, but you were barely walking then). You LOVED LOVED LOVED the “riv-uh”, the dirt, the friends and family, all the trees. Your favorite game was pushing different objects around the campsite in the dirt, especially the broom and a metal spatula. You had a blast in the river even though it was freezing cold and you fell down a few times. You loved counting the trees (you count by saying, “Tree! Two Trees! Anuh Tree! Anuh Tree!”).

You’ve gone swimming only a handful of times, but you are so brave, floating on your back, turning over on your stomach and kicking, and even letting Daddy dunk you. You’ve also been to the beach quite a few times! The sand is quite a hit with you, whether we have a re-used starbucks cup for you to spoon with, or a real sand bucket.

You have had Dadda home with you ALL summer, which has been amazing for you guys. You’ve developed such an awesome bond that is so awesome to watch. He tosses you around and makes you laugh hysterically. He shares his “green” protein smoothies with you and teaches you how to be a gentleman in church. He’s usually the one who makes you your morning bowl of steel cut oats with blueberries, followed by a banana.

Getting thrown in the air by Dadda

Speaking of church, you still love it! You stand quietly at attention like no other kid I’ve ever seen (seriously, how did we get so lucky?). You like to kiss every cross you can find, saying, “craw! craw!” (cutest.thing.ever.). You swing socks or anything similar around the house in your hand like a censor, singing, “all-le-lewww-ya”, over and over for hours.

The after-church coma…too many cookies at coffee hour!

One of your favorite games is to count fingers and toes– yours, or anyone else’s. You go one by one, sometimes jibbering on, always with a huge smile on your face. Sometimes, you accidentally count one twice, but you don’t mind.

You also love to come in and name everyone in the room. The cutest is when you get to yourself. We ask you where “Big Brother” is, and you point to your chest and say, “MEEEE!” You use Aunt “Ra-rel” (Rachel), Aunt “Me-me” (Emily), Aunt “Ja” (Janelle), “Unk Jo” (Uncle Joe), “Poppa”, and, of course, “Mamma”, “Dadda” and “Wee” on a routine basis.

Hanging with “Unk Joe” on the beach in Ventura

You talk SO MUCH. Constantly, in fact. There isn’t a word that you won’t try and repeat. You know hundreds of them! Many of them take a special interpreter, but every day you are becoming more enunciated. Some of our favorite words: “peek-ulls” (pickles), “kee-kies” (cookies), “peed-uhs” (peaches), “bel-bow”, “bah-bel-bah” (banana), “nawg-neal” (oatmeal), “die-die” (your pacifier), “MAR-O!” (Mario, like the game you love playing with Aunt Janelle), “Bum” (helpful when we’re trying to change your diaper!), “Ra-relle” (Clarabelle). You string together a few phrases, like, “Bye-bye in car!”, “No, not now!”, “Shoes, peez, Dadda?”, “Mamma, down, peez?”, “Read book peez!” The other day, Mamma found some squishy oatmeal on her hand, leftover from cleaning up your breakfast. She said, “eww!”, and you thought it was hysterical. For a few minutes, you wandered around saying, “eww!” with the same little shudder. Sometimes, you will launch into a long, fast, garbly-gook sentence, and Mamma has to stop and say, “Gregory, I don’t understand!” You pause, puzzled, and then try again. You’re really quite forgiving when it comes to miscommunication.

The face you make when you say, “hmm?”

You can name all sorts of letters and numbers, even sounding most of them out. Sometimes, you even walk up to license plates and point them out!

You love being Mamma’s helper during the day. If she asks you to put away some clothes in the hamper, for instance, you not only follow directions quite well, but you LOVE doing it! Whenever you’re done doing something that Mamma or Dadda requested, you are beaming. We try to find lots of little “chores” for you to accomplish during the day, even if it’s something as small as putting away a dish into the sink.

exploring

Also during the day, you love to play Imagination Games. If Mamma plays with you, you love to flap your wings like a birdie saying, “tweet tweet!” or barking like a dog. Sometimes, she uses one of your plastic animals to pretend to talk to you, and you grab another animal and “talk” right back. You use tealight candles as your “makeup” jars and pretend to put stuff on your face.  We see you imitating the things we do, all the time! You even pretend to squat and pee on your little potty (speaking of which, we’re not sure when the potty training will seriously commence, hopefully by your 2nd birthday!).

pretending on the potty

Other things you like doing during the day: you love to color with chalk on our outside patio. It looks like a masterpiece, I tell you 🙂 You LOVE your tee-ball set in the backyard. You are still constantly throwing balls everywhere. You do not like TV, however, except for the occasional National Geographic movie Dad puts on for you guys (as long as it has lots of animals!). You love to color on a piece of paper. Mamma is hoping to make you fingerpaints and play-doh this week, so hopefully those will be fun! You still love reading close to a bajillion books a day, and your attention span allows us to read you the longer ones now.

Since you are definitely a toddler, we have had to punish you more lately. Usually, you don’t get your way, and you have a complete meltdown, complete with foot stamping and high pitched wailing. What we have noticed, however, is that as long as Dadda can get you to look him in the eye and he can talk to you about it (usually after a spanking or two for REFUSING to look at him, unfortunately!), your heart becomes soft and you walk over and say, “Sry, Mamma?” in the sweetest little voice. Unless you are absolutely exhausted for one reason or another, you are very easy to instruct. It seems as though you know that Dadda (usually the one to do the punishing lately) means what he says and that the quickest way to get back to all the fun and games is to apologize.

seconds later, you chucked that truck at Mommy’s head

You still have only been sick 3 short times in your life– at 2 months with a chest cold, 16 months with a runny nose and cough, and at 19 months with a high fever for 3 days. That’s it! You still sleep 12-14 hours at night, and almost always get a 3+ hour nap every day. You nearly have all your teeth (as far as Mommy can tell!) and will go to your first dentist visit next month!

Overall, sweet boy, you are just a joy to have around. You are curious, entertaining, loving (you almost always give kisses if Mamma says “please”!) and so smart. There are days when Mommy wants to find a way to bottle the very “essence” of Gregory right now. She always wants to always remember your baby-growing-into-boy smell, your chubby rosy cheeks, your blonde curls that are way too long because Mommy thinks your hair is too pretty to cut, your adorable Farmer Boy tan from wearing your “rash guard out in the summer sun, your stubbed toe nails from all your adventures….sometimes Mommy want to freeze you in motion and never let you grow up.

Playing with chalk in the back yard

Then again, you become more fun and engaging every day, so I guess we can allow it 😉

Love, Mommy

Worst Haircut ever

You really must listen to this interview of two sisters. The 5 year old gave her sister a haircut and, well, it’s hilarious…

http://www.prx.org/pieces/73865-two-little-girls-explain-the-worst-haircut-ever#description

School Days

NCCS Orientation Training Started this week. I was dreading it, because it signaled the end of our first summer break together as a family of 4. But the minute I was in that room with all of those wonderful people yesterday…I got super excited. We have such a wonderful faculty this year, and I’m really glad to be working with all of them! The math teacher, who is Jesse’s age and got her MA from Pepperdine, finally permanently moved nearby (last year she basically lived out of a suitcase!), so hopefully we’ll see more of her. The new Bible teacher is also an alum from my brother Keith’s class, so I’m sure that will only add to the new faculty dynamic.

Overall, it was such a fun 12-ish weeks of Jesse not working (I worked, but only 5-6 hours/week with piano lessons). I realize how completely BLESSED we are to have so much time off together. I don’t know many families that get this blessing– 12 weeks a year of paid vacation! Not to mention 2 weeks off for Christmas, 2 weeks off for Easter, random Mondays…yeah, it ALMOST makes up for the lower salary base.

This summer, we were able to cram in quite a few things:

*Moving. Yeah, it technically happened 2 weeks before school got out, but since we moved things over from my parents’ house slowly, it still counts. Actually, not everything’s been moved yet, so…

*Day/Road Trips: 1. San Francisco to see the Folsoms, 2. Agoura Hills to see the Unruhs, Shelbys and Ben. Pictures will follow…someday…

* Camping at Big Sur: TOUGH with two kids under 2, but still fun. 3 nights, 4 days! Wow, did we honestly make it through that?

* Weekend Trip to Ventura with my family

* Made it to the beach and zoo around 3-4 times.

*Decorated our whole house: With the exception of G’s room/office, I’m ALMOST satisfied. That’s saying a lot, if you know me. I hope to take some pictures this week. This actually took a ton of time, as I made lots of things by hand with my new sewing machine (I realize the irony of that statement). We also had a lot of things to organize, since they’d been sitting in boxes for 9 months.

* Got into yoga! Seriously! It started out as me mercilessly teasing Jesse about trying it out, complete with jokes about buying him a girly yoga mat (the most manly color I could find was turquoise…hehe), finding menstrual cycle yoga on YouTube, finding STRIPPER YOGA at a local gym (I’m NOT EVEN KIDDING), asking if he’s stretched his ovaries yet today….and now, I like it too. It makes me feel super energized and flexible. Not to mention, it’s something that I can aspire to. Some of those crazy positions? They’re sick, I tell you. So super hard and impossible looking. They make me hurt just WATCHING the video.

* Finished TONS of TV shows we’ve been dying to catch up on. This may seem lazy, but we love lounging around in our pjs, drinking coffee, laughing at a funny show together. So far this summer ALONE we’ve watched: 2 seasons of Downtown Abbey, 2 seasons of Game of Thrones, all 7 seasons of How I Met Your Mother, seasons 5+6 of Dexter (OHMAGOSH!), season 2 of Sherlock, season 1 of United States of Tara, and countless other Netflix shows. Not to mention the Olympics and So You Think You Can Dance! Basically, since it’s hard to get out of the house with two babies that are always napping or sleeping, you have to stay in, so that explains some of the TV.

Since we hope to have a few more summers together as teachers, I’ve thought of a good plan for the future. We sort of followed it this year, but it will hold as a good rule of thumb so we don’t waste our summer (or, worse, FEEL like we wasted our summer! 🙂

June: Rest and rejuvenation. Whatever form this takes is okay, whether it be sleeping until noon (CHECK!) or watching lots of shows we didn’t have time for during the year. Basically, whatever we decide to spend time on is OK, and we don’t need to feel guilty or worry about doing anything productive if we don’t want.

July: Travel. During this month, we can make it a point to go camping, visit friends, visit a monastery (Jesse’s dying to go), take day trips, etc. Big Sur always falls within this month, so that helps.

August: Study and Prepare for the School Year. This will involve making lesson plans, reading the novels for the upcoming year, organizing school papers, etc. For me, this involved coming up with a cleaning schedule, a new budget based on our savings goals and my new salary (I’m now teaching 2 classes instead of 1, and organizing a few more things. It also meant buying a few professional clothes for myself, seeing as I haven’t bought any in almost 3 years!

Alrighty, it’s back to lesson planning for me!

Soul

Have you ever heard an 11 year old sing Alicia Keys with such soul? Wow!

Anthony 4 Month Letter

Dear Baby Boo,

Here are just a few things that we love about you!

  • You are so chubby. The Doctor says you are 16 pounds, 8 ounces (90th percentile), 26 inches long (80th percentile). You have chubby rolls everywhere, and they are oh so kissable!

  • You have a smile that lights up your entire face and then some. I’ve never seen such beautiful big eyes that smile!
  • You just started rolling a few weeks ago. Back to tummy was first, but now you do both. Once you’re on your tummy, you pull up and look around, as though you’re about to crawl.

 

  • You are so interactive! You love watching your brother most of all, but you also love following people around the room and talking with anyone in front of you (you almost always light up and smile if someone comes up and gives you attention).

  • You are very ticklish. Whenever you get tickled, you give these small chuckles that sound a little like chirping.
  • A sure way to make you laugh is to bring your toes to your nose. Works every time! Also, saying silly things quite close to your face always seems to make you laugh.

  • You still make the HUGEST pouty face when you’re sad. Even strangers stop dead in their tracks to feel sorry for you—it’s that effective. You also have the loudest, most angry baby cry I’ve ever heard. But even when you get upset, you are made happy again almost instantly, as though it never happened. It gets rather infuriating for the person who was trying to calm you down, as they try to make everyone believe that just 30 seconds ago, you WERE crying, honest!

  • We think you might be teething, since you’ve had some drool, so we bought you your first teething necklace this month.
  • Your hair is still silky dark brown, and your eyes are huge and blue. You are also pretty fair skinned, although you’ve gotten a little bit of sun on the tip of your nose.
  • You still love being held, especially in the Moby wrap. This last weekend, Grandma held you for almost the entire day in that thing! You, of course, slept the entire time.

  • You have a bedtime of around 8pm, and you “sleep” until the next morning, waking up 2-3x to nurse quickly then fall back asleep. Once or twice this past month, you’ve been up every hour to nurse—growth spurt? Your sleepiest time, by FAR is in the morning, from about 8am-12pm. You almost always sleep that entire stretch (mommy, of course, can’t, since she has your brother to care for!)

  • You spend most of your time being held on someone’s lap or lying on your activity mat. You don’t tolerate your bouncy seat as well anymore. You also are growing out of both your swaddle and your bassinet—time to move to the co-sleeper!
  • You grab at anything and everything. It’s especially cute when you grab onto Mommy’s shirt while you’re nursing, as though you’re never going to let go.
  • You always have your tongue sticking out. Seriously. Adorable.

Also, this month you got to meet your god-sister Lola, AND go camping at Big Sur for the very first time! 3 nights in a tent, next to your Momma….it wasn’t easy, but we’re all going again as a family next weekend, so it can’t have been too bad, right?

Overall, Baby Boo, you are just a fantastic joy to have around. I hope you keep this cheerful personality for ever, because we love it!

Love, Mommy

Ventura Vacay

Since Joe is only here for one more week before heading back to Gonzaga, my mom arranged for us all to spend the weekend in Ventura. She got us a beachside hotel to boot (which explains all of our sunburns). We also did some shopping at the mall and some swimming in the hotel pool.

Jesse, the rebel

Gregory was super adorable

He LOVES the beach. I’m pretty sure he could spend an entire day playing in the sand

While this might look like Jesse shoved him under, he actually was pulling him up from a wave

The aftermath, being carried away by Dadda 🙂

Practicing a few yoga poses on the rocks….well, I WAS

 

I’m definitely not very flexible anymore (I used to be able to touch my ankles). Le sigh. The price of bearing children 🙂

Some handstands

Walking