Sunday, June 24, 2012

Our First Week

Now, for the update you wanted. We survived our first week of work, daycare, commuting, and all else that entails! I would say we passed with flying colors with only small glitches.

If you will recall, a month ago Benjamin was having major separation anxiety. Whether I left him with mom, MIL, or even DH, he would spend the whole time I was gone screaming. It was not fun for anyone. Well, from the middle of May until I started work, I did not leave him with anyone like that again, not even ONE TIME. I kept saying "its not worth it!" and taking him with me.  Benjamin grew up SO MUCH in that month, I was hoping he had gotten over that anxiety as well. We had some evidence he had - he let DH take care of him more (if I was upstairs or whatever) and in general did not cry/whine for me to come and get him when others held him. But still, I was nervous about how he would react to daycare. I had this irrational scenario that I would get a call half the way through my first workday saying he had not stopped screaming since I left and someone needed to come get him. Or, even if they did not call me, if he screamed the whole first day how would I be able to face dropping him off the second day?

Luckily I did not have to deal with either of these scenarios. He was fussy for them the first day, and he did not want to take a bottle, but he improved even from the morning to afternoon. By day two he was doing even better. Day three, he stayed home w/DH because the flooding and treated it like it was entirely normal (did not miss me at all). By day four, Thursday, he took a normal size bottle and had a great day. Not all the kinks are quite worked out. He is not going down great for naps with them. They don't have the pitch dark or the white noise that we sometimes use at home to have him go to sleep on his own, and they are also struggling to put him down if they rock him to sleep. We had not had issues with that for awhile, but it has returned as a problem at home as well. I am sure we all will continue to adjust!

And my work week? This was a week of training, it is not very organized training though. I can tell you what I do now. Basically, when people are deemed eligible for Medicaid by their respective state, they get to choose which company they want their Medicaid through and my company is one of those options for many states (around 20 and growing I believe). The state then sends a huge file of all of the people who should be enrolled in the Medicaid program at our company. We run that file through a system that is supposed to automatically enroll them. My job will be dealing with all of the people who "fall out" of that system and do not enroll automatically for whatever reason, and making sure they get enrolled. I am, of course, not the only person who does this. There are three units that do it, and my unit is about twenty people. I think it will be interesting to learn all the ins and outs of the various state programs, but I do not think this job will be as challenging as my last.

The best part about my new "normal" day? Arriving at daycare to pick Benjamin up, and the way he reacts when he sees I am there. When I take him he grabs my face and coos and tries to eat me. its the most adorable thing ever.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Flood 2012

You probably would expect my next post to be about how the beginning of my new job went and how Benjamin is handling daycare. I wish those were the main things on my mind, but they are not. They have been "swept away" (forgive the pun) by the torrential rain and flooding in my city.

The last month has been very wet in general, lots of big storms, so everything was pretty much saturated. Then, within the past 12 hrs, it rained somewhere between 6-9 inches (depending on whose measurement you follow) over the entire area. The results? Massive flooding and flash flooding throughout the city and surrounding areas. ( Duluth is used to snow and blizzards, but not rain like this, not floods, not water damage.

Despite the police warning to not attempt travel, my company was open and as I am in training w/no leave time, I headed into town. Luckily DH's work was cancelled from the get go and he could stay home with DS, so I did not have to deal with daycare or the extra stop. Getting to work was a little bit of an adventure. I ended up having to cross several inches of water flowing over a road that I did not even know had a creek under it, and take a somewhat large detour around one of the more flooded neighborhoods. I arrived on time. They came in shortly after our shift began and said that the building was staying open, but that anyone who felt unsafe or was worried they would not be able to make it home was free to leave. At that time, I thought that things were supposed to get BETTER  throughout the day, so I said I would stay. About two hours later they came back in and said that there was more rain coming, flooding was worsening, and they encouraged us to leave. I took their advice and headed out, unsure how to get home as I already knew the route I came in on was closed. I took a round about back roads way, crossed through three more patches of water running across the road (though none as deep as the first), and over large areas where the road was covered in sand/debris. I did make it home safe, hyped up on adrenaline from the trip.

With all of us safe at home, my mind turned to the city. My first reaction was straight forward fascination. The power of nature, the destruction, a surreal admiration of all of the images of flooding and washed out roads. The second thing I thought of was selfish - how is that beautiful house we are supposed to close on next week fairing? My brother reported it at least has water in the basement, hopefully that is all. Will it delay closing? Is there real damage? My third realization was the reality of it all - the repercussions for the entire community. This type of damage is not going to get fixed overnight or even months. There is massive economic and physical fall out to come. Stores and restaurants are flooded and will take time to clean up, those are all people without jobs, and even people with jobs will have a hard time getting there for the foreseeable futures.  And that does not even mention all of the people who have serious damage to their homes, lost cars, etc. And that does not even mention that no one here has flood insurance. And that does not even mention that there has been all of this awesome progress and projects completed in the city recently - walkways, parks, etc, and so much of that is just washed away, and will not be a priority to repair with all else that needs done now. With all of this in mind, I am very sad for my city.

But my fourth thought of the evening is back to selfish stress. The uncertainty of it. I hate it. Will I need to go to work tomorrow? If I have a choice, should I try to go to work? Has the flooding peaked or will it get worse overnight as more water comes off of the upstreams? Will DH need to go to work or will his campus still be closed? If he has to go to work, and I have to go to work, will DS's daycare be open? What routes in town would get me from daycare to work? What if I take DS to daycare and then conditions change and I can't get back there?

 I try to remind myself that these problems are minor compared to what many people are dealing with in the area tonight, but as they are still my problems, I am still stressed out.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back to Work

Tonight is my last night as a "stay at home mom." Tomorrow I start my new job as an eligibility and enrollment representative for medicare and medicaid at a major insurance company. I am happy to start work. I think I will probably like my job, I think it has room for growth, and I like the company I am going to work for (we used to have their insurance and they treated us very well).

When I was pregnant "are you going back to work?" was a relatively common question, particularly often seeing as I believed most people who asked it had a preferred answer. It is surprising how often one feels silently judged as a mother/mother to be (I am actually working on a post about the so-called Mommy Wars, so I will leave further discussion of this for another time). The point is, my answer was that I would be home for 12 weeks, and wished I could stay home for more like 6 months if my job allowed it. Well, as life would dictate, I actually got to stay home with Benjamin for 24 precious weeks. Not quite 6 months, but pretty darn close. I wish that Ben was crawling or mobile, but he is pretty darn close. We are in a good place.

I am very anxious about leaving Benjamin at daycare tomorrow, but ultimately I think it will be good for both of us. I think I will like being back at work, and I think that once he adjusts, Benjamin will like being at daycare. We had his little friend over here last night, and he was very amused by the 7 month old who was crawling and climbing. I think Ben will be rolling and crawling in no time with examples from the slightly older kids and a bit more "floor" time. Plus, knowing he is getting all sorts of floor time and play time at daycare, DH and I won't have to feel bad if we end up holding him all evening.

So, wish us luck! It will be a rough few days, but I hope all of us settle in quickly.

DH Weekend

This weekend is all about DH.

Saturday, after training off and on (more off than on since we all got sick in March), DH ran Grandma's Half Marathon (formally known as the Gary Bkorklund Half Marathon. He ran 13.1 miles, and I think that is pretty amazing and awesome. It is certainly farther than I ever intend to run. And, as he ran it for the first time the year Benjamin was born, I think we may have a forming tradition on our hands.

Then, today is DH's first Father's Day as a father. I got him some framed prints of Benjamin for his office, including one that I put Benjamin's hand print on as well as the date and "our first father's day". We went up the shore for brunch, it was delicious. Now DH is playing with Benjamin, singing the words to all the songs just a LITTLE bit wrong, just the way he always does. He is a great father and we both love him!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Record Keeping and Other News

A Couple Memories I would like to jot down from M's graduation weekend:
- It was Chico's (school chaplain) last year
- Orchestra did a great arrangement of "Ashokan Farewell"
- On graduation day, Benjamin went down for a nap to an extremely loud rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" as played by the high school band
- They had a classmate who "beat boxed" for one of the singing arrangements
- The commencement speaker had four rules for life (1) Don't try to find yourself (2) Interesting is good, boring is bad (3) Even when its not OK, thats OK (4) We live through people
- It was hot but sunny and beautiful
- Everyone loved Benjamin's sun glasses
- My sister just looked really happy

In other less fun news, one of our cats is missing. The three cats have been living at my sister's garage (attached to the house, used more as a workshop than garage. A couple of nights ago my sister heard cat noises outside at night, and then she could not find little caeser. She tried to coax him to the door but there was no sign of him. They have not seen him since and they don't know how he would have gotten out. I feel really bad about it, like I should do something, but I don't think there is anything we can really do. There is a small chance he will turn up on his own, but I don't know. It makes me sad.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


After a busy weekend, in which my little sister graduated (Congrats!), the week is already proving to be a flurry of activity, of me trying to prepare mentally and materially for starting work on Monday June 18th.

So far I have:
- hit up Target to try and make sure we have everything for daycare and for me (lunchboxes, totes, hat and sunglasses to leave at the sitters, diaper cream, bottle to pump into, etc etc)
- mailed out mortgage documents
- found and signed the paperwork for home owners insurance for the new house
- worked on some father's day gifts
- planned the menu for this week and bought groceries
- scheduled a drs appointment and arranged for my records to get transferred to the new doctor
- arranged for Ben's vaccination records to go to his daycare
- finished getting Ben and me signed up for the online health portal

I still need to:
- take Grim to the vet
- go to the Doctor
- pack stuff for daycare and take it in
- clean my new/second pump and prep bottles for use
- practice pumping both sides at once
- do a "practice run" of getting ready in the morning so I know we will have enough time
- locate and pack important documents for first day of work
- get all my work cloths clean and together
- finish father's day gifts
- figure out what I will be eating when I start work and get it purchase/packed

Basically, I figure the more I can get done this week in terms of maintenance on long term issues (appts) and planning/practicing for when I start work. the better.

Despite all this planning I am still expecting things to go horribly wrong, because that is how I am.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

5 Months Old

Benjamin is 5 months old today!!

He told a joke the other day... at least according to my husband. According to my husband, their conversation went like this-

DH: Hey Benjamin! I can't believe you are already 5 months old!
Benjamin: Wow Dad! Its only been five months? It feels like a lifetime!!!

Yes. We are that corny. I love that joke, because to us it feels to brief, but to him its everything. It is crazy to think how much changes in five months. This morning we were thinking back to when he could not even pick up his pacifier, or when he could pick it up but not turn it around. So what is little Benjamin doing now?

Eating: He still is exclusively breast fed, no solids yet. He still is eating about every 3 hours during the day (and during bad nights), although in the last week he has been eating even more frequently again and I think it may be a growth spurt. On top of keeping him fed I have been pumping after he eats first thing each morning and I get 4-8 ounces each day this way, which all is in the freezer. He has become a very efficient eater so I can get him fed in less than ten minutes. He hardly ever spits up, and when he does it tends to come in spurts (a few days in a row and then back to nothing). When he does spit up its not much, and sometimes he is a ninja about it, spitting up on you without you noticing and without any getting on himself. Impressive!

Sleeping: His sleep varies greatly. Bedtime can be anywhere between 8 to 10pm. If it is late like 10pm its because he napped from 7-8pm or something... not sure how to fix that. On a good night, he will sleep from bedtime until 3am or so, at which time he eats, and then sleeps 3-5:30 or so, at which time he poops/gets gassy. If I get him re-situated he will then sleep longer, and get up anywhere from 6:30-8am. His bedtime routine is pretty simple and effective. When he starts to seem tired (like rubbing his eyes, getting a bit fussy, wanting his pacifier), I take him upstairs and change his diaper and put PJs on, read him a book or two, and then depending on the time either just put him down or feed him and then put him down. Sometimes I lay next to his crib for 5-10 minutes with my hand on his face holding his pacifier in (my parents call this the Vulcan Mind Meld move). Sometimes he does not even need that much. If it is a really "rough" night, I might turn white noise on the radio and set it to turn off after 10 minutes. Once I put him in his crib its usually less than 10 minutes to me being able to leave w/him safely on his way to sleep. During the day his napping is sporatic. Sometimes he wants to sleep all day, sometimes hardly at all. He still naps best in his bouncer chair under the bathroom fan. If he gets tired you can stick him in there and 4 times out of 5 he is asleep within five minutes. We also have been practicing going to nap w/out white noise and sleeping in the crib, and he can do these things now but will go down easier and nap longer with the white noise. If he falls asleep on your lap or shoulder and you put him down on his back in the crib he will immediately turn his head to the left and up and arch his back and expect a pacifier to be there, and when it is he goes to sleep.

Playing:  We try to get in a good mixture of lap time, sitting time, back time, tummy time, baby gym time, and confined time (this last meaning his car seat or bouncer chair). He likes all of these to some extent, but wants out of tummy time the soonest. He has yet to roll from back to front or to crawl. He can stay seated quite a long time now if he has something he is interested in to keep him engaged (and not looking for mischief). If he is sitting up he will strategically fall over to reach for things. He reaches for anything and everything and tries to put it in his mouth. If you don't give him something to old he will reach for the table, or shopping cart, or anything else nearby and try to eat it. He makes all sorts of fun noises including ear-splitting screeches, coos, giggles, snorts, grunts, etc. He loves when we sing and make hand motions, like Itsy Bitsy Spider or Patty Cake. he also likes to see people dance and will start wiggling along. He also likes when you make sudden noises, like going "boo" and slapping your hands down on his stroller. Sometimes he thinks we are really funny and laughs at everything. He is very ticklish when he is in a good mood and seems to actually enjoy being tickled. If he is in a bad mood or tired he is not ticklish. He likes to be lifted into the air and he likes when I kiss each cheek in rapid alternations. He likes to be carried around a lot, and he likes to be outside or out in stores etc looking around.

Toys: He still is a big fan of the crinkly books (or his one crinkly elephant). He also has a plastic Tigger that lights up and plays music which he seems to really like. He also likes to pull the ring on the Baby Einstein panda that I attach to his car seat so it makes music. He has ended up with several elephant toys because when it comes to choosing which animal to get of many toys, I get the elephant because I know the trunk will make it easier to grab onto. He likes to grab board books as we read them and he has one board book, actually from when my siblings and I were little, that is very small, about 3" by 3" that he just treats like a chew toy in general. He likes teething rings and pacifiers to chew on, but there is no real signs of teeth yet. I am sure it will come any day.

 Other notes: He still likes his baths and splashes a lot. We hope to incorporate a bath into his bedtime ritual eventually. He often pees when we change his diaper. He is wearing size 3 target brand right now. His clothing is 6-9 months, and he is outgrowing the smaller 6 month stuff rapidly. He gives me hugs now, puts one arm on each side and hangs on to me. He also likes to grab hair again (and try to eat it of course). He is still extremely sensitive to me not being around, separation anxiety, mama's boy, whatever you want to call it. He has a little baby acne again but nothing like it was the first go round. He does not like noises like sneezes or coughs and will even start to make a crying face if someone suddenly sneezes. When he gets wound up we call it his "mandrake" face, referencing Harry Potter, so we will say "don't go mandrake on me!!". He is just getting so big. When I feed him his feet just stretch out so far, its incredible to me. I have tried to measure him and he seems to be about 27" long now. His current pack and play is only 30" long, so we need to get into the new house so we can set up his crib!!

And now, for a video. Its not really funny or anything, just him sitting out on a blanket, doing what he does!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

There is much I could post about, but I really feel like the blog needs a quick break from "baby baby baby". So, instead I want to write a quick note about nature. To put it briefly, I love the natural beauty here in Duluth. It is one of the things I missed the most (right after my family). There is, of course, Lake Superior and all of its granduer- different moods every day. Today it was serene and peaceful, glossy and rippling, reflecting the greys and silvers and whites of a slightly overcast day. But besides the beauty of the lake there is the beauty of walking out of my parent's front door. We go on walks when it is nice, lately they have been down a little nearby dirt road, with a babbling creek and butterflies and singing frogs in the background. Sound idyllic? Trust me, it is. I took the pictures below on my parent's property. If I had the time I would take so many more! I was going to just post pictures but found myself writing a poem instead of captions...


Fresh Start
How would you like to stroll down an old dirt road?
Basking in sunshine, soft breeze through your hair,
The stream's water whispering sweet nothings,
Oh, how I love to be there.

How would you like to breathe in lilac?
Purple lush sweet scented flowers,
Memories blooming through life’s many layers, New and old thoughts fill up the hours.


How would you like to watch the storm come
Cloud banks tower to the top of the sky,
Sunbeams fighting to be the silver lining, 
As the tear ducts of nature open up and cry.

How would you like to wander down an old trail?
Sunset's stark shadows leading the way,
A choice murmuring through the pine tops,
Not even Frost could have dreamt up today.