Thursday, May 30, 2013

Staying Home

Hi Friends,

    As the school year draws to an end, I find myself feeling a little lost again. As I mentioned when I first decided to take a hiatus from teaching, teachers live by a different calendar than other working adults. The first month of the year is September, not January! Even though it has now been a whole year since I've been in the classroom, I find myself still going by that calendar. I am feeling the excitement and anticipation of the end of the school year as if I was still there. The last days of school were always long, but also some of my favorites. I was the type of teacher to party the last couple days--not cram in a bunch of tests and last minute assignments. After all, I wanted to walk out at 2:10 on the last day of school and not look back again until September as much as the kids did!

   Even though I was happy at my job, I couldn't help myself but to look at job postings every spring. This year is no different. I looked the other day, and let me tell you....there are a few jobs I am tempted to apply for. I even ran some scenarios through my head, but it always comes back to money. Unless these jobs are miraculously going to pay FAR better than my last job, we're back to the reason I left in the first place. I'm not willing to sign 2/3 of my paycheck over to a daycare provider. We also have the added complications of preschool for Connor next year (transportation), Bryce's PT and EI schedule, and the fact that I can't imagine sending Bryce to daycare, even though I'm sure he'd do just fine.

    This year of stay-at-home motherhood was probably the hardest year of my life. Dealing with two little boys is far more exhausting for me than dealing with 25 middle schoolers, believe it or not. I am still not convinced I was made to be a full-time mommy, but I also realize how blessed I am to have this time with my kids (even though some days I have to remind myself CONSTANTLY). There are days that I love being with them during the day. I am so thankful I was able to do music and ECFE classes with Connor. I love doing things like going to the zoo, or story time at the library. I love making Mickey Mouse pancakes on random Tuesday mornings. Those are the times I realize how lucky I am, and how much I love this time with my little ones. But it was a LONG winter, and there were days that we are lucky everyone survived. There were days it was miraculous I had any hair left in my head. There were days I wished with all my might that I was working.

    Just as deciding to leave my job was a huge internal struggle last year, deciding what to do next is my current struggle. We really could use some more income. Should I try to get a better paying job in a different field? Should I try to get a job at a public school, which would pay slightly better? Should I stay home until Connor is in kindergarten as I originally planned? I don't know.

    When Connor randomly tells me I'm beautiful, or that he loves me "the whole world", or Bryce smiles at me or gives me those big open-mouth kisses, the answer is pretty clear. When we're on our 6th poopy diaper or 4th temper tantrum of the day, the other answer is pretty clear. I guess all I can do is pray the answer will come to me. Maybe someone will magically call and offer me a REALLY REALLY good paying teaching job that I won't be able to resist :) While I wait for that to happen, I guess I will count my blessings (and poopy diapers) and enjoy the "summer vacation" that will always be "summer vacation", whether I'm still in the classroom or not.

Friday, May 10, 2013

9 Months!

      I cannot believe our little man is nine months old! I feel as though his first year is going soooo much faster than Connor's did. I think it's a combination of a lot of factors: his first month spent in the hospital, living in a cloud of shock and fear for a while, being busier with two kids, and the fact that he seems younger because he's not developmentally doing what most nine month olds are doing. The fact that we will be celebrating his first birthday in less than three months blows my mind. I realize that in the life and development of a baby, three months is a long time, but I just can't imagine him sitting in his highchair eating cake. I sure hope he can, though!

        Overall, Bryce is still a pretty happy-go-lucky little guy. He is starting to get much more opinionated, though. I have mixed feelings about this...I'm happy he's sharp enough to have an opinion, but missing the baby I could just lay on the floor while I get things done! He is wanting so much more attention and entertainment these days. He is a very social baby! He smiles all the time, has such an expressive face, and has this great chuckle that is coming more much easily these days. Bryce has also started completely melting his mama's heart by giving kisses! He has been giving kisses for a while, but I always just thought it was a reflex, because he would just turn into my face when I gave him kisses....but now, he'll actually grab my face and pull me in for a kiss on his own. Seriously melts my heart. Such a sweetie pie!

      Even though I was (falsely) hoping he would defy all odds and be the one person with Down syndrome who didn't have any issues or delays, I have been having to face the music a little bit more lately. I have been encountering a lot of frustrations and worries these days. Up until a month or two ago, I could say Bryce wasn't that far behind--especially when you looked at his adjusted age. But now, his adjusted as is almost 8 months and he physically is more like a 5-6 month old. At the end of March, I was so excited because it seemed as though he was figuring things out. He has started rolling all over the place and has made the connection that he can get where/what he wants by rolling and pivoting. He gets his knees moving like he's going to crawl, but is still not pushing himself up with his arms. He just does not want to support himself with his upper body. Six weeks ago, I was sure he'd be belly crawling by now....but then we hit a few rough patches that slowed him down. In mid-April, Bryce got the chicken pox and wasn't feeling well for a couple weeks (although he handled it like a champ!), and now he's been working on sprouting his first tooth. His physical therapist assured me that there will be times like this--if his body is busy with things like that, he's not going to have the energy to make progress developmentally.

    I don't want to use the word "frustrating", because he can't help it, but I'm just getting a little anxious. I knew this day would come, but it's still hard to face. It is really hard for me to watch him wanting to do more, but can't. It's like he's ready for more stimulation, but without being able to sit up, he is pretty limited. His inability to sit has been causing some difficulties for me--particularly when it comes to baths and eating. He is way too big for the baby bath sling, but he can't sit up well enough to bathe him any other way (at least not with only two hands!). He also is starting to be more interested in finger foods, but can't/won't sit up straight enough in his highchair to practice feeding himself.

     I have been consulting a book called "Gross Motor Skills in Children with Down Syndrome". It is a great resource because it has activities (with pictures) to encourage all the different developmental milestones. In the book, it explains that there are two different kinds of kids--observers and motor-driven. Bryce is definitely motor driven. He has never sat still in his life (I swear I could feel him moving by the time I was about 12 weeks pregnant). He even moves in his sleep! While this is good in some ways, it is not good when it comes to sitting. He has no interest in it, and the book explains that kids who are motor-driven feel restricted in that position. He can't move like he wants to if he is confined to his butt :) It would just make my life so much easier if he would sit up!!

    Even though I've been feeling emotional about him lately, I am coming around to accepting that he will do things in his own time. I've gotten better about comparing him to other kids--although it still stings to see pictures of younger kids sitting up--but I am just ready for him to be able to do more. I am thankful I get to have a baby for longer, though. He is such a sweetheart and I am so proud of him. His smile is still magical and the way that he watches and notices everything around him still gives me hope that he'll be pretty high functioning. I just think he has some of his father's stubbornness in him and he's not going to do anything until he's good and ready!

   Here's hoping time will slow down now that the weather is getting nicer. I'm not ready for this little love's first year to be over!

smiling through the chicken pox

nine months!