Eleanor Hope

Eleanor Hope Salinas has arrived.  Slightly ahead of schedule, a little bit teeny, absolutely perfect.  She was born early in the afternoon on February 23rd, weighing 6 pounds and 13 ounces.  She has the exact same jet black matte of hair that her brother did upon his arrival.

IMG_1707The first month with her has been a whirlwind.  Two kids are a challenge.  Life in general over here has been an even bigger one.  But she is a tough girl and she has done amazingly to roll with all of it.

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Eleanor is a great sleeper, she totally ignores her brothers loud, but admiring, cries to her. “HI BABY SISSY!  HI! HI! WHAT YOU DOING BABY SISSY?!”.  She could care less about the incessant bike horn beeping or constant crashing noises or quick paced toddler stomping around the hardwoods.  She’s amazing when she’s cuddled close to me in her carrier.  She curls up even tinier and lays her head down and is completely content.  Whether we are hustling through the grocery store for yet another round of milk and applesauce or out in the bright sunshine watching Ike play outside or at the park.

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Ike and I struggled with a breastfeeding relationship from day 1.  We figured it out, through a mix of shear will, pain, and many many tears; but it took a long time.  And looking back, I don’t think we ever had it completely figured out, we powered through, but it was a tough 15 months for the whole family.  Eleanor on the other hand, latched expertly the very first time and has not looked back since.  Sure there was some pain and some soreness for the first few weeks.  Sure we had to wait an exceedingly long time for the real milk to start flowing (SIX DAYS of Colostrum!).  But we are in a groove and that is how I know, Ike and I never got it quite right.  This is the breastfeeding relationship that those happy people talk about, this is actually something I enjoy.  Not something I pretended to like so as not to be judged by the hippies and granola moms.  This is not something that requires powering through.

She has a bit of a temper though, and she absolutely HATES being naked.  This includes changing clothes, changing diapers, and baths.  All give her a glow of fire red anger and wild eyes and screams of utter torture.

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It’s all soon forgotten though, as soon as that teeny tiny newborn sleeper is buttoned securely and she is safely back in loving arms.  She forgives me every time, although her bright gray eyes (for now?) still look pleadingly at me as if to say “please oh PLEASE never do that again mommy!”.

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If we had a chance to create the perfect little person to add to our family, to choose every trait and aspect of her, she would beat all those qualities without even trying.  She is the best daughter, little sister, and grand-daughter anyone could ask for.

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Maternity Leave in America

Did you know, that in Sweden, Mothers AND Fathers are guaranteed paid family leave when a child is born or adopted?  Do you know how much?

SIXTEEN MONTHS!  That is 64 weeks.  That is 448 days!  That is time that the mother and the father can share to be with their baby (or child since they are entitled to use this time any way they wish for 8 years!).

Do you know what we are guaranteed here in America?

ZERO months, ZERO weeks, and ZERO days of paid leave.

As Americans, we tend to consider ourselves innovators, leaders, and generally superior beings.  We taught progressive thinking, freedom of speech, education, and the American Dream.  As a woman, and now a mother, my version of the American Dream has a few holes.

One hundred and seventy eight countries around the world guarantee paid leave for women to care for their newborn children.  Nearly 200 countries, surely our progressive nation is one of them right?  No.  We are not.  Women are guaranteed a job when they return from maternity leave, a time of 12 weeks.  But compensation is not required by law.  In fact, if you are a women in the workforce and you happen to work for a company with less than 50 employees (which accounts for about half of the companies in America), the company does not even have to retain your position if you take leave to have a child.

The “America Dream” is the idea that anyone, anyone, can achieve prosperity and success through hard work.  Should that include a caveat that you have to chose hard work at home or at a career?  Should it be a forced decision?  As women, don’t we have enough “glass ceilings” to shatter?

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How did it happen that law makers argue year over year about a woman’s right to choose, but not a woman’s right to chose both a career and a family?

Women make up just 14.6% of the executive leadership position for private industries, although they makeup 52% of the professional workforce.   Women in STEM fields see an even larger gender gap.  Is there a connection?  How many of us are feeling pressure to choose career over family?  How many of us leave the working world to care for our families  because there isn’t a good support system?  What are we losing as a country when women, successful contributors to our industry, part from their careers to care for their children?

I’m a little late for myself, since I didn’t do this research before or even during my own pregnancy. Maybe it was better, not knowing, because leave in the US is horrifically disparaging in comparison with developed countries around the world.

My specific company has no paid leave, but they have a leave package and short term disability options.  All of which is kept buried under a sea of HR documentation, none of which is readily available to employees or their supervisors.  I’ve been through the process now, and I am still not really sure how it all works.  At my particular building there is a parents’ network (as of 2015) and there is a mother’s room that is available should women return to work and wish to continue breastfeeding.  There is one room…ONE…in a building that employees about 8,000 people.  That room?  Has two chairs.  Two stations for TWO women to pump milk at once.  This is considered a nice benefit and a step towards supporting families and mothers and breastfeeding.  This is considered a luxury.

But it’s not all bad here in the good old US of A.  There are some important private sector companies who recognize the value of having women returning to the workforce after starting a family.  There are some shining beacons leading us in the right direction.

Google pays maternity leave for 4 months.  Now that’s not over a year like in Sweden, but it’s enough time for a mother and baby to get aquatinted and settle on some things like feeding and childcare.   Google recorded 50% fewer women leaving the company after they had children when they increased the paid time off.  So what could we gain if everyone had access to some kind of paid maternity leave?

Tech companies are actually at the forefront of this change in culture, offering more paid time off for families. Since those are our most “innovative” and “leading” companies, maybe we should all take note.

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Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Link Party

Is it all Coming to an End?

Anyone out there who knows me, like in real life, knows I’ve been complaining and whining about the hassle of nursing/breastfeeding for several months now.  And even before that, I was very much looking forward to leaving pumping and expressing milk at work when Ike turned one.  I want to be done with nursing. I want to have wine with dinner.  I want to retire the clickable nursing bras to the attic.  I’m so over it.

Well, Ike seems to be starting to wean. And I am devastated.  I know what I said.  And I think I meant it, I really do want to be done.  But the actually finishing makes me sad.  This wonderful roller coaster ride of a journey may be coming to an end.

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Ike’s totally fine going to bed with a bottle of cow’s milk.  He sleeps exactly the same.  He will accept a bottle instead when he wakes up during the night (yes that still happens).  He’s pretty much indifferent and I think that I have been unconsciously continuing despite him.  There’s been only once in the past two or so weeks that he differentiated to me that he would prefer to nurse over taking a bottle at bed time.  I obliged with no hesitation, but I think I could have urged him on back to the bottle with little resistance.  And this morning he asked for milk, and maybe he would have accepted a bottle, but at 4:45am, I’m thinking convenience.

For a while I wanted to keep going until he started school.  But I figure now is as good of time as any.  Especially since I don’t intend to continue very far into him beginning school.

Honestly, I am not sure what I am waiting for.  I did want this to happen.  I wanted to stop, but I also wanted him to want to stop.  Both seem to be happening, so why I am having so much trouble letting go?

Things I thought about Parenting, before I was a Parent

Wow, was I ever a judgey moron about parenting.  Even before I was pregnant.  What right did I have?  I knew nothing.  Ok, I still know very little, but I have completely abandoned my judgements and plenty of the ideas about how I was going to win this parenting contest.

First Lesson?  Parenting is not a contest.

I thought that being a parent was being on display for all the world to judge you in some almighty competition.  

So who were the winners?  They were the ones who did everything right, nothing taboo.  Those who were just crunchy enough to be called “cool parents”, just involved enough to be called “loving parents”, just crazy enough to be called “smart parents”.  Their children never misbehaved, they hit all their milestones approximately 25% early, they always measured spot on the growth charts, they made straight A’s, they were team captains, they were basically Stepford children.  

Lesson: I am not a Stepford wife, I will not have stepford children.  I do not actually want stepford children.

Who did I think was judging all of these well-meaning, but obviously failing parents?  Me, you, everyone.  I judged them.

  • That poor, tired looking mother who’s child was punching the floor in front of the new Ninja Turtles toy demanding that it be added to the cart.
  • That mortified couple who’s baby was screaming for an entire three hour flight despite being walked, changed, sung to, whatever, they were clearly disturbing my trashy romance novel, how dare they!
  • That scatterbrained parent that showed up to the library for story time a day late and an hour early.  Doesn’t she know how to sync her iCal to the library website?  What is this the stone age?  Who gets dates/times wrong?
  • That father dragging their toddler around Disney World on a leash.  What is she, some sort of animal?
  • All of those countless parents enjoying their meals and their spouses, while the children sat disconnected and fully engaged in some youtube video or Minecraft something or other.

Yep, I judged you.  And now, I am you.  And now, I understand.  I’m sorry for what I thought.

Parenting

The Kind of Parent I thought I would be then

(And the kind I am perfectly happy being now)

  1. My child will not have screen time of any kind until they are at least two, then it will be carefully limited to 60 minutes a day, not a second more.  I will not be the sort of parent that uses a television as a babysitter.   I will not be the sort of parent who allows their child to watch their favorite snuffiflullgans at the dinner table on my iphone.  I will not be that parent who hops up on the hour long flight, knocking over my seat mate to retrieve the ipad from the overhead bin as soon as the flight attendant announces that wifi is now available.  My child can turn on the television, record “Harry the Bunny”, and will sit approximately three feet away and watch an entire episode of Vocabu-Larry.  There are more kiddy apps on my ipad than adult/useful/productive things.  I will happily give my child BOTH of my phones and my husband’s in exchange for a meal that I can eat with both hands.  My child knows how to navigate to the Wheels on the Bus app from my phone while sitting in my lap on airplanes.  I now believe the screentime ban is a bit over-exaggerated.  
  2. My house will not be overun with toys, I will maintain a modern and chic decor while raising an angelic child.  Those magazines with homes that have the perfect number of magazines displayed on the glass-topped coffee table, the minimalist and bold color schemes accented by expensive vintage collectibles.  That is what I want my house to look like.  That will not change when I have a baby.  Ahem.  Read the puzzle floor.  There is a piece of furniture in the living room to house all the toys.  There’s an infant tub in my relaxing spa tub.  The bottle drying rack complete with pumping flanges has just recently been moved from front and center on the kitchen counter.  There’s pretty much baby crap in every room of my house. 
  3. My child will adapt to the schedule I set forth for him.  We have some dear friends that have two children now.  I remember when their oldest was a toddler and we would make plans for brunch or dinner or something and we would get a text an hour before apoligizing because “he just went down for a nap, and we really have to let him sleep otherwise he will be horrible to take anywhere, we are so sorry.” My pre-pregnant self would think, how sucky that must be to have a two year running your life.  I read more than a few books during my pregnancy and early in Ike’s infancy about E.A.S.Y. schedules and Baby-Wise-ing, and sleep training, and no-cry sleep training, etc etc.  Babies need a schedule.  Ike goes to bed at 8pm, unless we are out, or traveling, or he’s staying with his sister (or grandmother, or aunt).  Ike usually takes one nap a day, mostly in the afternoon (which means some time after noon), unless we are running errands then he takes two cat naps in the car, or no naps at all.  Look, I get why schedules are important, and I get why some parents need them to retain some order and sanity in their household, but I am apparently not that parent.  Ike is a perfectly happy person, he is not overtired, he is not cranky (usually), he doesn’t need the constraints because we are making our non-schedule, schedule work.  
  4. My child will eat what I put in front of him, I will not short order cook.  Those parents, you know, that bargain and bribe with desserts and extra screen time for “three bites”.  Those parents who ask “What do you want for dinner Timmy?”  That child who gets grilled cheese and chicken nuggets while the rest of the family eats roasted leg of lamb and winter ratatouille.  My child is offered what he is offered, we do not offer dessert, and he is too young to bargain with.  This is probably the only reason I do not beg, bargain and bribe, it’s probably only a matter of time.  I misjudged the amount of worry that is involved when a child does not seem to be getting the appropriate amounts of nutrition.  I have fallen victim to the “just eat something!” trap a few times.  I still struggle mightily with this one, but just having a child who will happily eat brussel sprouts and poached salmon is a pipe dream, and I see that now.  Sometimes we have to compromise for the good of everyone.
  5. I will take away the bottles and pacifiers at one year, not exceptions or extensions.  I will not have the five year old digging in my purse for a paci at the mall.  I will not be the parent explaining to the preschool teacher that he still needs his bottle to take a nap.  Ike still uses a pacifier (to go to sleep) and still has bottles pretty much as he did before his first birthday.  We are working on both of these, but the deadlines are not as important anymore.
  6. My child will not throw tantrums.  Ha.  Ike does this bent over dragging of his arm thing when I pull him away from something he wants.  He gripes and screams and everything.  Tantrums are just beginning and I have no idea how to deal . Mothers of ‘spirited’ children, your advice is so welcome, I promise not to judge anymore.
  7. I will exclusively breastfeed my baby until we are both ready to wean/he will only eat organic foods all the time.  I will stay off my soapbox.  I have judged parents who include McDonald’s into the weekly routine.  I have also judged parents who ask if every single ingredient in a restaurant dish is organic/locally sourced/no GMO.  I have judged parents who nurse at the playground.  And I have judged parents who mix a bottle of formula at the airport.  Breastfeeding is hard.  Feeding another person is hard in general.  I am now in favor of, just doing what you can do and surviving.  A McNugget will not kill him, a 6 piece McNugget every day might.  Nonorganic milk is not going to send my toddler into puberty overnight, but we still buy the $5 half gallons for home.  I made his baby food, and I do my best to cook well balanced, natural food meals at home, but sometimes we eat out, and sometimes he has a slice of pizza.
  8. My child will be on time with all of their infant and toddler and kid milestones or I will be a failure.  Ike was late to roll over and crawl.  He was early to walk.  He was on time to talk.  He was in the 25th percentile for weight at 2 weeks and in the 75th percentile at 6 months.  He is happy and healthy and smart as all heck.  We are doing just fine thank you.
  9. I will plan fun activities for my child every day, week, weekend, month.  I consider a trip to the grocery store a perfectly acceptable activity.  When it’s cold and gross outside (like the past two months), we are just fine to play in the house.  I still want to be that mom that has an abundance of play dates, and is a regular at the art museum and children’s museum, and the zoo.  I did not consider how much time and dedication these activities take and how little time is leftover after being a mother, wife, and full time worker.  If I ever find that extra hour in the day I will be better at this so I can stop judging myself!
  10. My child will be the best ______ (basketball player, pianist, student, painter, etc).  This is probably the most important lesson I have learned.  I want Ike to do what makes him happy, within reason of course.  If he wants to play basketball or baseball, great I will do my best to be at every single game.  If he wants to play the flute, I will not miss a recital.  If he wants to play World of Warcraft, or whatever fantasy role play game is currently hip, then I will do my best to at least understand the rules.  If it makes him happy, I will try to support him.

The moral of the story is, that a child does in fact change things.  Everything in fact.  It changes the way you think, the way you see others, the general layout and order of your house.  It changes.  But it changes for the good.  I am happily eating all of my judgy parenting words.  I was a know-it-all asshole.  The only judging I will be doing now is judging whether or not my son and family are happy and if we are doing all we can to stay that way.  Nothing else and no one else matters.

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Keep a Young Toddler Busy on an Airplane

We kind of fly a lot.  Probably not as much as some people. but probably more than the average people.  Ike definitely travels more than the average one year old.  Typically we are fortunate enough to be given a middle seat between two strangers who just love little kids.  They NEVER ask to be reseated when they see us coming.  Never.  Ike and I make it our mission to change their minds about traveling with adjacent to kids.  In order to be successful in such an endeavor we have to have some tools.

Our “Tools for Success”

  • Toys – Small toys, since the carry-on diaper bag will probably be packed with extra necessities, like all the milks, all the diapers, a ton of wipes for any and every spill that may happen, snacks, a change of clothes, etc.  The toys should also be somewhat quiet, so as not to disrupt our such welcoming neighbors.  A toy set with a ton of pieces is probably a no no, since they will inevitably end up in the seats in front of and behind you.  Our favs: soft books, toy phones (turned off), one or two Little People (Ike loves the super hero ones).
  • Food – pack them lots of snacks!  Puffs, crackers, bananas, string cheese, cereal bars, whatever travels best for you.  Sometimes the chaos of parking the car, getting the bus, checking the bags, passing security, etc can take longer than expected.  While we may be able to hold off for a meal, a toddler definately can not, and they do not hesitate to let you know it.  Pack lots of snacks.
  • Things already on the Plane – Part of what makes a kid so squirmy is the fact that they are in a new environment that begs to be explored.  Let them.  Within reason of course.
    • Those magazines in the back of every seat that say “take one, free”? Take it.  Let him tear it to shreds try to keep the shreds in your own seat), keeps them busy for at least 10-20 minutes.  Ignore the eye rolling when you hand over the ball of paper to the flight attendant (they said “ANYTHING you wish to discard”).
    • The tray table – figuring out whether to push, pull, turn, twist to get it to fall is a source of entertainment as well.
    • The window shade (if you are fortunate to have one) makes for an excellent game of peek a boo.IMG_9673
      Y
      ep that’s the straw from my drink, we were playing seal.
    • Ask for an extra cup when the complimentary drink service begins, the fact that it isn’t a toy and isn’t given to them by a parent makes a huge difference.  A nice, pretty, blond, flight attendant could give my son garbage and he’d treat it like treasure because he is a giant flirty ham.
  •  Hand Games – Itsy Bitsy Spider, Patty Cake, Where is Thumbkin?  Any, all, and over and over again.  These are particularly effective during landing when the patience of everyone is wearing thin.
  • ScreenTime – I saved this one for last, because I know that screen time is a Big Bad Wolf for children under two, but, desperate times.  When all else fails get out the ipad or smartphone.  We have a few Baby First shows and two or three apps for emergencies or when we’ve run out of all our other distractions.

Or you can always hold out hope that this will happen.

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Asleep in the most uncomfortable position. 

There are two main times on an aircraft where a toddler needs to be kept busy.

1. Taxi/Takeoff/Landing where the child needs to be seated and relatively still.  I usually distract with food, milk, a sippy cup, my phone during this time.

2. Cruising where we are afforded a little bit more freedom.  I let Ike down and he is happy to play on the floor for a while, and work on unpacking the diaper bag.  Sometimes we take an exciting walk to the lavatory to change his diaper.

 

How do you keep your kids busy on long flights or road trips?

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Ike’s Playlist

My favorite kind of music to listen to in the car is general pop, the radio station that usually has a sort comedy-type morning show and plays the same ten songs all day long.  Those songs that no one likes but always seem to get stuck in your head.  You know the ones.

Ike hates my radio stations.  So he has a playlist that we listen to in the car and whenever he needs a distraction.  I have a Spotify subscription that was mostly used for work, but now all my recommendations are Raffi, Dora, Sesame Street, etc.  Because apparently I play Ike’s playlist way more often than I play my own.

These are some of Ike’s Favorite Songs made for riding and dancing and general happy baby-ing.

Ike’s Playlist

  • The Wheels on the Bus (obviously!) by Raffi (also by Dora, kid zone, baby lullaby, barney, go fish, etc)
  • Victor Vido by the Laurie Berkner Band
  • Going to the Zoo by Raffi
  • Bananaphone by Raffi
  • Butterfly Driving a Truck by Caspar Baby Pants
  • Come On In by the Laurie Berkner Band
  • Five Little Monkeys by The Kiboomers
  • Apples and Bananas by Raffi
  • I’m Gonna Catch You by the Laurie Berkner Band
  • Shake my Sillies Out by Raffi
  • Elmo’s ALphabet Rap by Elmo (duh)
  • The Fox (What does the Fox Say?) by the Kidz Bob Kids
  • Down by the Bay by Raffi
  • Rocketship Run by the Laurie Berkner Band
  • Brush Your Teeth by Raffi

I think it’s pretty clear who our favorites are.  As far as kiddie music goes, Raffi and Laurie B are the least um..make you wanna pull your hair out songs.  They are catchy and snappy too so they tend to get stuck in my head a lot.

Follow us on Spotify if you have a child who needs distracting every now and then.

 

Mommy had a Tantrum

…and got a mani/pedi.  Everything is fine now.

I’ve been feeling a little bit stressed lately.  About almost everything I guess.  I didn’t realize how stressed until the exhaustion kicked in though.  Long story short, there was a little melt down.

We traveled to visit Grandma this weekend.  The flight to South Bend was delayed several hours Friday night, so we elected to go to Midway instead.  That flight was wide open and everything was going along splendidly, except Ike was not sitting in the giant honking carseat I had Isaac lug through the airport.  Then I remembered that in my infinite wisdom I had put Ike’s and my coats in the checked bag so we wouldn’t have to carry them through the airport.  The checked bag that was currently en route to South Bend, as we were beginning our decent into Chicago!  Where “the current local temperature is” 15 BELOW ZERO!  Again I must praise my mothering skills here.

Anyway, we made it without any baby frost bite.  Isaac and I even got to sleep in on Saturday morning while Ike got all caught up with Grandma and his best friend Jetta (the dog).  Then we were going to go out with some of Isaac’s friends to watch one of the playoff games, when I noticed that Ike’s little fake cough was starting to sound awfully real.  We stayed in, got a pizza and were pretty much up all night with a very pissed off baby.  We went to urgent care first thing Sunday morning.  Ike’s sick, with RSV again.  I’m worried, as well I should be as his mother.   The doctor was much more relaxed about it at urgent care, he prescribed an oral steroid and told us not to worry.  He said to give him steam baths and honey for his cough and wait it out basically.  I’m very grateful for his coolness.

On top of the sick baby and the blatant motherly ineptness, we met with a realtor last week and the whole “we need to move thing” became very real.  He wants to come to our house to evaluate it’s resale potential.  Our house!? Wait, a stranger is coming to our house?  We have to hid the crap!  Wait, this stranger knows where people hide their crap and would like to see those areas too?! And have them professionally photographed!?   (steam literally escaping ears as eyes spin around in my head).  We have too much stuff.  None of it has a proper home.  Most of it probably doesn’t need a home so much as it needs an extra large garbage can (or donation site).  I don’t even know where to start.  I still feel a bit overwhelmed thinking about cleaning out this house.  I’m going to stop rambling on about it now.  I’ll work on a plan.  Tomorrow.

With the realtor obviously came a mortgage broker.  I was feeling pretty comfortable with our price range for a new home.  Until I said it out loud.  To a person who now has access to all of our deepest, darker, financial secrets.  Crap.

All of this to say, I sort of blew a gasket.  I was all “oh my god I cannot get anything right, I’m failing at everything, someone save me from myself, no just leave me, save yourselves!”  Isaac suggested that maybe I take the afternoon to go do something for me.  Maybe I let him handle Ike, and dinner, and some of the daily clutter.  Maybe he has a point.

So I got my nails done.  I feel much better now.  Plus I got to take a power nap in the massage chair.

Rather looks like someone’s tried to put lipstick on a pig wouldn’t you say?  It’s an improvement at any rate.  Plus the nap was awesome.

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And Ike and Daddy?  They were home doing boy stuff and cooking me delicious shrimp tacos!

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I love them.  But I was very glad to have a break to get my head together.  I’m ready deal with the clutter and the house hunting.  Anything’s possible with pretty finger and toes!