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A year ago today, I started out the day looking a LOT like this and ended looking more like that.  Despite my obtuse exterior, I truly had no idea how much my heart–OUR hearts–would grow that very next day.

As summer fades to fall and we start putting away the shorts and pulling out the long sleeves, our family is inevitably going through a transition of our own.   As much as I possibly can, I’m savoring the last few days as the baby phase officially winds down.

But alas, with a kid whose nose is like a running faucet and the overwhelming temperament to match, the past few days have been hard to enjoy.  Like most families with kids in daycare/childcare outside the home know, if your kid appears contagious, he or she is banned!  Since Jeff’s been working crazy hours and I’m faced with monthly deadlines (my last for this publication!) the daycare logistics have been less than desirable.  Jack has been with me at work 1.5 days this week, home with me another and home with Jeff for half a day.    In those movies where they glamorize magazine editors, they don’t show the part where their baby completely MELTS DOWN on Park Avenue during lunch hour for every Suit on the east side to see.  To get even more graphic, since I wear black almost every day, I’ve started to look like a walking chalkboard– you know, with the runny nosed, clingy kid and all.

And to think, I once considered black a forgiving color!

But, it is what it is, right?

In a few hours, we’ll be on our way to Va. to celebrate Jack’s first birthday with family!  Yippeee and ughhhh!  And quite honestly, it’ll be, what we hope, the last major celebratory event outside of the state in which we live—aside from major holidays, of course.  Interpret it how you will, but times are a changin’.

We’re throwing a smallish family party on Saturday at Lola and Lolo’s house.  And from the looks of it, we may have the tailend of a storm for even more excitement!  Cross your fingers that it won’t rain!  Of all the things that haven’t been working out in my favor, I hope my kid’s party will be spared!  We are not driving 700 miles just to have waterlogged Lumpia and soggy cake!!

Either way, it’ll be a happy day!!  I can’t believe our boy is going to be 1!

I’ve got a heavy heart tonight–lots of stuff going on as usual. Jeff and Jack are both happy and healthy, not to mention tired and already in bed. As much as I need to crawl into bed myself, I need to do some housekeeping, or in this case, some blog-keeping.

We had a low-key weekend–we even found some time to nap for a few hours yesterday. We stayed local and did a lot of stuff in the neighborhood. We even found a new favorite lunch/brunch spot right on the water. The atmosphere was nice, the food was divine and you can’t beat the view! I loved the breakfast skillet, Jeff loved the Jersey Club and Jack, well, he loved the taste of crayons. We loved it so much, we went back again on Sunday after church.

After all the weekend fun, we all prepared for a new routine. As I sliced grapes in half and folded little boy t-shirts, I was multi-tasking in more ways than one. I was emotionally and mentally preparing myself for yet another change, one that would mean leaving our boy with strangers. Granted, they’re well-qualified and super nice strangers, but new people nonetheless.

Have I ever mentioned how much I loathe the unknown?

Like it always does, life always throws you curveballs when you least expect it. My mom, who has been doing the selfless and arduous trek every week to care for Jack, hasn’t been feeling herself. With the intention of her caring for her health before anything else, we reluctantly made the decision to put Jack in daycare. Huh? I'm going where?Because things came at us so fast, we never really had a back up plan for childcare. When things didn’t work out, one of us would take off of work and do it ourselves. This scenario was so different and complex, yet impossible to tread lightly. Our wonderful in-home childcare, thanks to mom, wouldn’t last forever afterall. It was a sacrifice from all ends, with much emphasis on mom’s end. In an area so fast-paced, but with little resources for affordable childcare, what’s one to do? We opted to go with a daycare that I checked out months ago. The owner, a well-spoken and highly regarded professional, is a young mom much like myself, so I immediately struck a chord with her the first time I visited the facility this past winter. Many months have passed and Jack has grown considerably since that visit. With that fervor to balance everything (and the backlash and criticism to go with it) not to mention life changing at such a rapid pace, we had to be ok with this decision.

So, I packed up some clothes, way too many cups and snacks and labeled everything just so. This morning, everything was positioned on the couch, just ready to go. I had the butterflies like it was the first day at school, except I wasn’t the new kid.

I could tell Jack was a bit confused as to why he was getting dressed up so early in the morning. I’m sure he was thinking, “but mommy and lola let me run around pantless at least until noon!” ha. Not today! We packed the car and headed to the daycare, just up the hill from us.

Bag is all packedIt was quiet when we arrived. Well, as quiet as a school full of kids under 3 can get. As soon as we walked up to the infant room, Jack reached out to one of the girls. It couldn’t be that easy, could it?

We put all his food away and told them where all his belongings were located as Jack scurried off into the corner to play with “new” toys. And like he does, he looked up to see if mom and dad were still around.

He knew.

As soon as we lunged towards the door, he yelped and flung out his arms.

As we headed for the door, I could hear his cry linger in the other room. My heart sunk to my stomach, and it took everything I had to not cry.

I must’ve clock-watched all day today. And cell phone watched. And voicemail watched.
No one ever called. Surprisingly, I even resisted calling the daycare just to check on him.
Of course he’s fine. It’s me that’s not fine!!

Once the three of us reconvened after the first day at daycare, we were all smiles and relieved. I immediately noticed some new scratches, but other than that, he seemed to enjoy his new routine. We like his teacher, the daycare and their curriculum. Outside of family or ourselves, we feel confident in our new childcare provider scenario. Millions of people do this everyday. I know we’ll be ok.

In an ideal world, one where money grew expediently on trees, we’d be home all day with him. Until then, this 3-day a week stint at daycare looks like it’ll be an interesting new adventure.

**
edited to add:
Morning of day 2, text from Jeff after drop off:
Crocodile tears

Text back from me 😦 😦 😦

I apologize for the absence. Lots of stuff transpiring over the past few days and weeks. Lots of stuff going on with me, but I can assure you that both Jack and Jeff are happy, smiley and wonderful.

As for me, well, as always, I’m a mess. My horoscope pretty much sums it up. Today’s horoscope should have been YESTERDAY’s horoscope.

Cancer You might butt heads with someone who has some measure of power over you today and while it might not work out all that well at first, it could turn into something really good and honest in the long run.

Why, you ask? Well, where do I even begin?

Do I start at the part where I packed my Jetta 7 years ago and left Va to pursue my journalism career?
Or do I start at the part where it’s a Dog Eat Dog world out there and that my magazine career is NOTHING like the movies portray?
Or do I just pick up here, the part where I’m a new mom who is running on fumes because the industry is dwindling AND the economy sucks, but is determined to further my career while STILL balancing work and life, who happens to be stuck working somewhere because of the circumstances.

Yeah. That’s where I’ve been, the sucky part.

For quite some time, I’ve needed a change. The hard part is, how does one go about a change when you’re juggling infertility and then pregnancy and then the transition of motherhood.

For all these reasons and more, women of our generation are getting married later and thus, having kids well into their 30s and 40s.

For the most part, my peers WAIT to have kids until they are stable in their career, working at a place that support such things as motherhood and expanding families.

I thought I was there…

Not quite sure what happened on my journey here, but I hit a detour way back. LIKE WAY BACK. And now, I’m faced with a lot of crucial decisions, with the most important one finding a professional balance once again.

Together with Jeff, I’m plotting this next phase in life. Yesterday someone assumed that All I want to do is stay home with my little man, implying that my quest for work/life balance is failing.

OF COURSE I want to be home with my kid. What mom doesn’t? But you know what they say about assuming.

In another tearful explosion at the scene of the crime, I had a revelation yesterday. I’m stuck not because of the circumstances, but because I let one of my priorities down.

I’ve been incredibly unhappy for quite sometime, and for too long it has overlapped into my home life. I may have been a little misguided for quite sometime, but things are changing.

As proven by my relocation 7 years ago + confidence in my craft + the determination to find that balance + the unflappable support system in my husband, friends and family, I’m all about proving some people wrong.

You CAN have it all. Just watch me.

My forehead is glittery, and it’s Monday morning.

Glittery? Yes, glittery.

Why?

Well, it goes a little something like this…our sweet boy started the teething process a few weeks ago. As many people have warned me, it’s a LONG process. (yeah, no kidding.) So, after a nice Sunday afternoon at church and then doing laundry at the laundromat for 3+ hours, we punctuated our weekend with an evening of fussiness and relentless whimpering. And when I say we, I mean Jack and me. Jeff wakes up super early to go pick my mom up every Monday morning in the City. I *tried* to let him get some rest, so I was on all night baby duty.

When I finally closed my eyes at 2:30 a.m. to go to bed, 4:30 a.m. came early. yeah, 4:30.

At 4:30, the boy didn’t start out crying…he was talking to his hands and then started screaming because his hands didn’t talk back. The screaming turned into whimpering and the whimpering turned into a full blown meltdown.

Intermittent fussiness, restlessness, clingy? It’s like the newborn phase all over again. I spoke too soon.

Poor baby. (poor mommy and daddy!)

I had 3, maybe 3.5 hours of solid sleep last night. I was teary-eyed and explosive when I got up. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pretty morning, either.

Going against my usual routine (unless I’m on assignment, I tell my friends at work that I won’t bother with the makeup,) I put on more makeup than usual, in hopes of disguising the bags that go down to my knees. We’ll blame it on delirium, but I grabbed some of this mineral powder, thinking it would help erase my pervasive signs of exhaustion.

I’ve sampled this mineral powder before–it’s good stuff–but I don’t remember it being this sparkly. Maybe this is why I don’t bother with makeup on the weekdays? “Soft-focus” must be fancy-talk for glittery.

Yeah. Not so much.

Glittery makeup for me on a weekday is, how do you say…ridiculous.

So, yes, that’s why I’m glittery.

Oh man.

It’s going to be a long couple of months.

Happy Monday, all. Be back with more when I finally wake up!

I’ve got a huge headache this morning, and unfortunately, I’m not exhausted from a weekend trip to the tropics. I had it for the duration of my long weekend after sustaining a minor mommy injury on Saturday.

The injury report goes a little something like this: On Saturday, I woke up at 5am to a wailing, hungry baby. I brought him to our bed, in hopes that I could feed him and we could sleep a few more hours.

FAT CHANCE.

In the process of positioning the hysterical and hungry baby in my sleepy haze, Jack pummeled me with his entire paw– with my eye wide open. I finished feeding him with one eye and one arm, as the other hand cupped the injured eye that was watering profusely. I couldn’t open the injured left eye, so I had to wake Jeff from his hibernating mode to help out in yet another one of my maniacal frenzies. After resting a few hours, I still could not open my eye. The eye throbbed as my head pounded with the same intensity. Since I couldn’t open the eye, I told Jeff that he should just go out and find me an eye patch with a skull on it and be done. pirate-eye-patch2.jpg

Since CVS doesn’t sell pirate paraphernalia, he brought back eyewash and eyedrops instead. Yarrrrgh. But of course, I couldn’t open the eye, so the eye wash wasn’t too effective.

So, just to make sure I didn’t have a punctured eyeball or whatever my imagination conjured up, Jeff lugged me and the baby to the ER. wheeeeee. By this time, my eye was watering even more since I was out in the sunlight. We spent quality time in the ER; me, slouched down asleep in my sunglasses, Jeff exhausted next to me, the baby in his bubble stroller (barricading the germs of the coughing nasties next to us.) I guess we arrived at the ER’s down time because I saw the dr. after a somewhat shortish wait. The dr. dropped a numbing agent in my eye so that I could actually open it and she could assess the situation. She then dropped some yellow drops in it, turned off the lights and checked out the injured eyeball with a black light magnifying glass gizmo.

Just as Jeff google-diagnosed, I had a corneal abrasion, which is the medical jargon for, you got your eye jabbed pretty hard by your 4 month old kid.

“Well that’s good.” the dr. said. “I mean, not good-good, but at least it isn’t lacerated.”

Lacerated? The baby books don’t say a damn thing about having safety goggles on hand.

Baby punch-out jokes aside, the scratch on my cornea was serious enough to warrant an Rx for Tylenol with codeine and some medicated eyedrops to ward off any nasty infections. Sleeping off the intense pain and resting my eyes on Saturday really made a big difference. I still have the lingering eye headache today, but nothing extra strength Tylenol can’t mask. (I guess a Codeine-induced nap isn’t too acceptable at work.)
And like Rachel Green, I just cannot “do” eyedrops. In fact, last night after washing my face, I went to put my eyedrops in and at least 7 drops landed on my shirt– my aim was that bad. Since I have to do the eyedrops in order to get some relief, I guess I have no choice but to try a little harder at actually getting them IN my eye.
So, while I might not actually have a black eyepatch literally in the diaper bag, with a kid whose limbs are constantly and erratically flailing, I’m totally considering it. It would sure beat another trip to the ER.

My mom’s been making the grueling 350-mile trip, twice a week, since I started working last month. We’re super-lucky. That, I know.

But, because it’s a family situation, nothing was never really defined; as in, how long would this arrangement last? What was going to happen if/when we move (away from the City)? What if I go nuts in such a small space with my mom hoovering over the baby? Just kidding.
But really? I’m not saying I don’t completely appreciate my mom’s gracious gestures of watching Jack as a newborn, it’s come to the point where we need to make some solid decisions about our future. We’ll be living in NJ for the long haul. And, as anyone knows that’s moved away from family, it’s difficult living so far away. But as it’s become more and more reinforced since Jack’s birth, it’s time for us to do things on our own.

What I’m talking about here is the arrangement of my mom traveling from Va. to NJ every week to be our childcare provider. It’s been a great ride, but I think I made the executive decision that it’s time to start looking. I haven’t spelled it out in so many words, but it’s been the unspoken next step for a few weeks now. With Jack being a little more self-sufficient as an infant, this spring, the plan is that we’re going to transition to a daycare scenario. I’ve researched the nanny route, looked into the home daycare scenarios, but at this point in time, since we hope to start off doing daycare in a part time situation, it looks like we may be going the out of home daycare route for now.

As much as I’d love to be home with him all day, I know that’s not in our cards– especially considering the higher cost of living in our area.

childcarecrisis1.jpgSo, on Friday, I started the daycare hunt– again. I have no idea what daycare is like in other parts of the country, but I’m assuming it’s similar.

Around us, daycares are structured like schools. Even the smallest baby has an agenda while at daycare. At the particular daycare I toured on Friday, the director showed me around and then described the “infant schedule” to me. Each baby was fed at their respective feeding time, based on what the parents suggested. They were changed every 2 hours on the dot. They practiced mobility, language, among other things each day. Since all the facilities in our neighborhood are in the 2K range or had 1 year waitlists, I chose to look at this daycare, located in a neighboring city.

Too far to walk, too arduous to lug a baby, I chose to drive over to the daycare. It was cold and street parking was at a minimum, so I had Jack in his Bjorn. When we arrived, it was late in the afternoon, so most kids were gone at that point. However, the few kids and babies that were left were all scattered around, doing their own productive little activities. The director showed me all the different stations and where Jack would be for most of the day. What was most interesting to me was the fact that Jack could be in a 4 baby to 1 teacher scenario OR for a few more dollars and much more peace of mind, he could be in a 3 to 1 scenario. Jack seemed to like the 2 teachers we met and bobbed his head along to their conversation. He drooled at the little babies that were around, too. I especially loved the way he looked around with so much interest at all the colors and lights in the place.
I left the daycare feeling a little relieved that the affordable places came highly recommended, the people were very kind and competent AND Jack almost portrayed a sense of approval. Having my mom watch Jack every day has been wonderful; however, even though she insists, it’s almost too hard to allow my mom to travel so much just to help us out.

When I first looked at daycare facilities last year, before I even started to show, I got a firsthand look at the mounting expense of childcare. Having received multiple emails after that post, and then going on to have many more conversations with other friends on that same topic, as always, we’re never alone. Childcare is so expensive, and with the media harping on the idea of a possible recession, I can already feel the tightness in my chest and I haven’t even stroked a check yet.

Our friend emailed me a link to this very timely article the other day. I’m sure many others can completely or at least, partially commiserate with my current woes. Aptly titled, the “Childcare Crisis,” I couldn’t have written a more appropriate headline myself.
The article basically laments about the mounting costs of childcare, and how dual income families, like us, are the norm, yet many still feel the crunch with the inherent expense of childcare in order to go to work.

Ah yes, it aligns with that work-to-live mentality. I can’t speak for everyone else, but working and then paying for childcare can be such a Catch-22. We have to work to pay for living expenses, thus we must pay for childcare. But what do you do when childcare eats most of your salary? (I mean, besides drink heavily? haha.)

It’s a shame that most middle income families, make too much to get help, yet it seems the middle income families feel the strain just as much. if not more. But still, it amazes me that there are people who continue to abuse the system when there are so many families who really do need help, not to mention the families that do the right thing. Like that dude I was stuck behind in line at the grocery store who bought a mountain of meat–over $100 in steak and shrimp–thanks to the government. blah.

Jeff and I moved away from families in search of better jobs and with hopes that one day, we would have the ability to care for our family. That day is finally upon us, so where does that leave us?

If I do say so myself, so far, Jack has been just fine. We might struggle with the distance from some family and some friends. We may struggle with long hours and crappy commutes. But, if all this sacrifice will allow for a happy and warm home, then so be it.

Now that this whole childcare search is upon us, all we can do is work harder to provide and continue to maintain a balanced home life. It’s such an upward battle, but then again, the giggles remind you that it’s so damn worth it.

We waited patiently in our designated exam room at Jack’s pediatrician appointment on Monday, while we watched the two doctors whizz by and visit the patients before us. As crying babies and toddlers served as the cacophonous backdrop, we shut our exam room door since Jack thought it was a good idea to chime in with his own shrilly cries.

I fed Mr. Hungry and 15 minutes later, still no dr. Not only was Jack getting impatient, but so were we since Jeff and I strapped the kid in his stroller and walked him to the dr, immediately as we got home from work. It was 7pm with no dinner, no doctor and nothing to do but wait.

After all that waiting during the dr’s office “rush hour” my attention span was shorter than a 3 year old’s. So, I picked up one of the many magazines that sat on the table next to the sink. I flipped through a coverless, tattered magazine and noticed a bunch of ads for products that caught my attention. As Jeff tried to shush the sleepy boy, I found myself buried in this particular magazine that I’d never read before. I went straight to the masthead and studied the magazine’s details, just like I always do whenever I come across an engaging publication.

I started reading an article and looked up to check and see if the door was still closed. It was. Sweet!

I closed the old magazine and hastily decided to help myself. Everyone takes magazines. I work for a magazine I thought, so I should take it for “research.” hahaha.

As I shoved the ragged magazine into the diaper bag, I looked up at Jeff and whispered, “You think it’s ok that I take this?”

He furled his brows and looked at me like I had 17 heads.
“Um. No, it’s not ok.”

I shot back, “Uh, it’s probably a comp copy anyway. I’m sure they’re just going to toss it soon. I mean, look at it.”

“Well, did you PAY for it?”
He didn’t even give me a chance to bitch back before he justified himself even more.
“So, NO, it’s NOT ok that you take it.”

In a very entitled and Tony Soprano-esque way, I put the stupid magazine back on the table and pouted in the corner, not because I couldn’t take the magazine, but because I knew I was wrong.

(There, I said it. I’m wrong A LOT and this whole admitting my wrong-doing is a whole new thing for me.)

If I learned anything from watching the Sopranos, it was to not steal magazines from the dr’s office. Clearly, mommy was not the moral compass that night, but I wanted that damn magazine! hahaha.

It’s noon and my little temperature ticker on my google toolbar reads 15 degrees. Of course of all days, I got caught in the jumbled mess that was the commuting chaos on the coldest day of the season so far. We might live one short mile away from the city but it took me almost 3 hours to cross the Hudson to get to work today.
the line for the ferry

And when I say choas, I’m not exaggerating one bit. It was a sea of misdirected, blackberry toting, cell phone yelling and frozen commuters like me that had to figure out contingency plans on getting to work.
Hoboken commute
It’s days like today I wish I could’ve stayed in my pjs for another hour and pursue my job as just mom today.

But alas, I was destined to do other things (for now) regardless of the weather and suspended trains.

This morning, I had an unplanned crashcourse on juggling– you know, the balancing act that is life.  With a broken boot in hand, it feels like I bombed.

Not too long ago, I was reading an article that profiled some uber gorgeous model who was fantastically rich and privileged and worked long hours for being beautiful.  The said model, who recently had a her second child, said something that was surprisingly quite prolific.  “For most working women, motherhood and life is a constant balancing act.  No matter how hard you try, it won’t always be balanced perfectly.  Sometimes, it’ll be 40/60 other times it’ll be 30/70.  But as a mother, it’s your duty to recognize which falls first.”

I read this article while I was still blissfully pregnant, oblivious to how hard everything would really be.  I kept telling all my girlfriends that I was determined to make it all happen– the ostentatious career, the booming social life, the well-rounded child and of course that dynamo relationship with the husband.

Who knew that I’d ever take a model’s words to heart?

In contrast to a beautiful weekend spent doing holiday things with my boys, I had such a terrible morning. First of all, my mom’s bus was over an hour late, which in turn made Jeff late since he goes into the City to pick her up.  Once they finally get back to our place, I’m running around like crazy to get dressed, make sure Jack is fed and make sure he has enough food for the day since I won’t get home until probably 9pm. And of course, I go to make coffee, toast a bagel and sterilize my pump parts and the goddamn fuse blows.
Of course it does.

Meanwhile, Jack is peacefully sleeping in his crib, doing that sleep-smile thing he does so well.

So, here I am in just my robe and a towel with no electricity. The circuit breaker is downstairs in the landlord’s apartment and of course only Jeff has the number bc I’m a jackass. But you know what? Jeff already left for work.

It took about an hour for the electricity to come back on and at that point, I’m sure I had tears streaming down my face. Not only had I hung up on my husband because I was bitter that he could leave for work, I had thoughts of my magazine deadlines that needed to go out the door the first thing this morning… and all I could hear was that resonating rumble of the bus outside our window that came and went without me every 10 minutes.

Ultimately, I knew I had no choice but to stick around to make sure the electricity came back on. It’s not like I could leave my mom and kid literally in the dark.

I was disgruntled and exhausted and it wasn’t even 9am yet.
And just when things couldn’t get any worse, as I was walking to work, I noticed my heel was wobbly. I looked down at the back of my boot and saw the heel all ragged–it turns out, the heel on my favorite black boots had just died.

Now that I’ve had several hours to breathe and regroup (somewhat) I realize that I still have a lot of learning to do– especially in the “you’re only human” category. On days like today and thanks to some wise words from some very awesome girlfriends, I have to remind myself that it’s all about Jack and Jeff and making us work. 
The rest is just extra.

It’s hard to believe, but after 2 months of maternity leave and working from home, I’m back to the painful grind.

I was up every hour last night, not because of Jack, but because of the anxiety of re-joining the rat race again. Actually, I started the waterworks before I even got out of bed. Every time I looked at his chubby little face, I was overwhelmed with guilt and the fervor to *try* and balance work and family. I cried before I left the house, I cried on the bus and I cried when I turned that last corner before I got to my office building. Needless to say, it’s been a teary day. Jack obviously didn’t know why mama was sad, but his adorable babbling somewhat made it known that I was doing the “right” thing by jumping back into the workforce.

I know I’m not the first mom to leave their little baby to go back to work, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier. I’m extremely lucky because Jack’s in the best possible care while I’m here all day (and night!) Having him home with my mom somewhat made that difficult goodbye a little easier. At least when I call home every hour on the hour, my mom doesn’t think I’m crazy… she knows!

It’s been a rough start, but I know it’ll get easier once I get acclimated with my schedule again! Now, the piles of mail and email– that will never go away! 17,000 emails and counting. Ack!!