Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Video: grunty giggles

We spent last Saturday at home, doing nothing but enjoying each other's company. It was like maternity leave all over again. This is what happens when new parents have plenty of time on their hands.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Correspondence with Cole: four months

Dear Baby Cole who is hardly a baby anymore or so it feels,

So much has changed in four weeks, so much so I feel like childhood is slipping through your chubby little fingers.

Today you turn four months old. Happy birth date.

Three weeks ago I returned to work, sending you to a sitter we adore. She’s patient, she’s hard-working, she has high standards and lives life low-key. I cried the morning I dropped you off, right in front of her. I couldn’t even hold it in. A blubbering banshee. And while she's awesome, if the feminist movement was about choice, I never got one. Staying home with you was never an option for me.

Part of me resents that.

Why must the cost to live exceed a young family’s earning potential? Even with two incomes, we struggle. A couple generations ago, mothers home with children was the norm. Now it’s a luxury for the wealthy or for mothers who’s children outnumber their shoe size. I’m angry at our country’s workaholic, high cost, high-needs transition. But then I remember: my role as a parent is to turn you into an adult. Not baby you forever.

So part of me is glad to return.

It's good for you to learn new faces, new people and a sense of independence. It's good for me too.

It's good for me to have purpose. Not that you weren’t purpose enough, but if I didn’t shower, you didn’t mind. Hygiene is held to a higher standard in public, however. And I appreciate that. Plus, extended periods at the office mean extended periods away from you, so even more, I appreciate the time we do share. And for the mothers who work part-time, it’s my belief they’ve captured the best of both worlds.

Your sitter tells me you roll and roll and roll like a rolling pin flattening Aunt Bev’s cut-out cookies. I’ve witnessed you roll once, but not multiple times. That’s because your father and I hold you every chance we get. We only have you a few hours a day now instead of all of them, so we soak and savor every droplet. Guilt envelopes if we leave you alone, kind of like how I feel now, knowing you’re awake, but leaving you to yourself anyway.

Right now, you’re in your Pack N’ Play, supposed to be sleeping so mama can write. Instead, you’re immersed in deep conversation with the TV stand, so I eavesdrop while you coo and squeal. I’ve read it’s good for babies to have a little alone time, to see their surroundings at their own pace, to stretch to reach toys and observe the world around them. But I still want to cradle you in my arms at every opportunity.

At four months, you can hold your head up and even reach objects hanging from your jungle gym, a present from Grandma Jane.

At four months, you cry in your car seat, which isn’t entirely true. You cry getting into your car seat. Once inside,  you pass the 40-mile commute with your eyes closed... Even when my tires get stuck or check engine light turns on. Because 20 below and 12 hours of darkness isn’t enough: Mother Nature gives us car trouble too.

When your father and I learned of your conception, we high-tailed it to a car dealership where the vehicles stood high from the ground and batteries withstand 30 below temperatures. I spent a lot of money on a vehicle to avoid all the catastrophes of Winters 2008, 2009 and 2010 --> Part I. Although the car trouble is different this year, the catastrophe remains.

Driving to work on a double-digit below zero day, you and I were comfortable in our seats until my check engine light hollered "HOWDY" and the temperature gauge fell from comfortable, to freezing. Fearing I’d hypothermeate your little bones, I called a car-mechanic friend at 7:30 in the morning, crossing my fingers he’d pick up. He did. And when he inspected my car that evening, he did not find frozen snow like he expected, nor did he find any of the ailments that plagued my vehicles in the past.

He found a mouse nest.

A M-O-U-S-E nest. What he didn’t find, was the mouse(s). I blame the country. Oh sure, it can happen in the city too, people say. Well, it never happened to me. So I blame your father too. Living 100 miles from Starbucks was HIS idea. I don’t mind ambulance sirens and other city noises. At least you’re close to a hospital!

You’ll surely turn out like your dad, appreciating nature, peeing outside and shooting animals just for fun. But just know, my sacrifices exceed staying up with you all night (yes, still!) pinching pennies for your education and not my vacation account, and dressing and redressing after a digested-breast-milk christening. You can thank me for it when you receive the Nobel Prize, teach PhD students or win the jackpot or something.

And if you never do those things, do this: laugh. And know I will always love you. Always always always.



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Roley poley Coley

He used to react to tummy time like torture. His hands and feet flailing exasperation. Now, he lifts his head like a kite saying, hey yo, this is cake.

I fear the army crawl is not far behind...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blubbering at the babysitter

Everyday I come home and he's changed. He's a little taller. Rolls over further. His face, getting older.

When maternity leave ended, extended periods away from my son began. The other night I came home to Cole on the changing table and his father holding diaper wipes.

"I'LL CHANGE HIM!" I announced like the task was winning the lottery or eating grandma's oatmeal raisin cookies.

When Levi said he already had, it was the first time in my child's life I was disappointed about a diaper.

Most night shifts, I've come home to the baby already sleeping. That night, he was awake and wild and happy to see me. I swear he even smiled at my appearance.

So laundry and dishes and blogging take a backseat. I only get my son a few hours a day now, instead of all of them. So when I'm here, I save my attention solely for him.

With Levi watching Cole my first week back, I thought taking him to daycare yesterday would be just as easy as changing diapers in the dark, with one hand or any of the other mommy skills I've mastered.

But just as I needed to hone my Huggie skills, I'll need to master the art of the day care drop off as well.

I kissed my son's head, handing him to his new caregiver and passing my sniffles off as allergies. My tears, however, threatened to convict me. Cole, ever the feisty one, laughed and cooed with his new found friends.

I sauntered to my car, borrowed tissue in hand, searching for an explanation.

I'm not an overly emotional gal... and I know this woman provides great care. So what was my problem?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

For my family

It's been a tough week. And I'm not talking about my return to work. That seems like a minor inconvenience compared to the sudden loss of life and limb in my family.

* Cousin Brian Pfeiler, make that Sgt. Brian Pfeiler, of Iowa National Guard Company D 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry, stepped on a landmine while on patrol in Afghanistan and lost his right foot.

* Twenty-three year old Christian Sogaard, my mother's cousin's son, died in a car crash Tuesday. 

But those stories are not mine to tell.

Even so, it doesn't seem right to earn revenue on a post like this, so I removed the ads.

Aunt Donna in Oklahoma said a few photos of Cole might lift a spirit or two. And he likes to help when he can. So here they are.

Thinking of you Pfeiler and Sogaard families...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2010: The year of baby, car-buying, weddings and home ownership

 Found this survey on Peggy Sue's Perspective blog. She'd located it on MommyWantsVodka. The survey is a little narcissistic, but 2010 was a big year for me. Let's document:

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

Holy! You act like that's a one-part answer. To begin...

1). got pregnant
2). purchased a car
3). got engaged
4). got hitched
5). gave birth
6). moved in to the world of home ownersville

.... yes, in that order.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Every year I say: get healthier and lose weight. Last year, I got pregnant. So no, no I will not make any for next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Yepps. Me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

No. Thank goodness. I don't think I could handle any more of life's milestones last year. That and THANK GOODNESS no one died, but you knew that already...

5. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

* A better blog, one that helps people, provokes conversation and provides entertainment
* A Bobcat to remove the North Dakota snow
6. What countries did you visit?

None this year. Unless you count @nortonbrian's New Zealand photos on Facebook.

7. What date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
June 26, 2010 ---> wedding day
Sept. 22, 2010---> Cole's day

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


9. What was your biggest failure?

Not documenting enough of carrying Cole

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Do the fat ankles of pregnancy count?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

My Cole-mobile

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

all the awesome people who helped us finish and move into our new house. And! All the fantastic medical pros responsible for Cole's good health.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My brother. Jeez, Mike. That dancing on tables has GOT to stop.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Car, wedding, baby, house...

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

My wedding reception

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

"You and me together," Dave Matthews

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? neither. just more scared. Scared I'll mess my kid up for eternity

ii. thinner or fatter? well, I'm not pregnant anymore, so let's go with THINNER! Yey me!

iii. richer or poorer? financially? poorer. but richer in so many ways *awww*

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

blogging, writing letters to my son

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Lived alone in my apartment. It's kind of nice to have roommates again.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

I spent Christmas in Iowa. With more family members than in Levi's graduating class.

21. There was no #21. I don’t know why there was no 21.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?

23. How many one-night stands?

None. And even if there were, my DAD reads this!

24. What was your favorite TV program?


25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

26. What was the best book you read?

"What to Expect when Expecting"

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

the sweet symphony of a laughing baby
28. What did you want and get?

Well, not a No. 29 survey question THAT'S for sure.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

Does the TV series, "Dexter," count?

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

26, and Levi and I left Cole alone with a babysitter (his grandma) for the first time and had dinner

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Winning the lottery of course. But to win you have to actually play so I am probably not ever going to win it. <--- I copied this from Peggy Sue. It was the answer in my head before I read what she wrote. Basically, Peggy Sue telepathically plagiarized me.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Elast-o waist pants

34. What kept you sane?

My mom. She's insane enough for the both of us :)

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I used to heart Christina Aguilera. And then she used her divorce to publicize her movie. Two words: lame.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

I should know this one, but with all I had going on, I don't remember much beyond my four little walls this year. But I suppose I could fake it and say... Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Health Care Reform? Obama's Republican in Democrat's clothing-style tax-breaks?

37. Who did you miss?

My family in Iowa and Colorado.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Cole Ryan Anderson, obvs.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010:

Pills alone are an inadequate means of birth control! (Sorry 'bout that one dad, but the little kids need to know)

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:

Mmm bob?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Motherhood, the identity crisis

Tomorrow I return to work. Yes, Sunday. I'm in the news business. We don't sleep. Until we have babies. And then they keep us awake. But anyways...

Tomorrow I work and I have mixed feelings.

It's not like I want to stay at home. Financially, it's impossible and metaphorically, it's not who I am.

I am a writer, a reporter and an award-winning journalist. That's the argument I give myself, of course. But the other half of my brain is not convinced.

So I argue further:

After college, I sojourned to the Great Big North in search of Great Big Headlines and a Great Big Career.

To not work slaps all those college interviews and late nights in the face, not to mention the face of destiny who led me here in the first place, if you believe such a thing exists.

Behind a notebook, college-ruled, hand-held or otherwise, is where I belong. It's what makes me, me.

But now I'm a mother/Cole's mom.

And he makes me who I am as well. And with the help of his father and some prenatal vitamins, I also made him.

He's brand new, but he too, defines me. If a day-care lady changes as many of his diapers as I do, how much of his mothering is really mine? And worse, what happens when he rolls over for her before me? What if she teaches him to speak, to read, to pee in a toilet? How many tears will fall if he prefers her care, to mine?

Motherhood is such an identity crisis.

For a girl who never liked to cook, now all I want to do is wake early to make a hot breakfast for my working husband, read books to my son and create Eiffel Towers out of Popsicle sticks.

I'd read, I'd blog, I'd spend too much time researching stain-removal, decorating for Columbus Day and gossiping about events and people I don't even know.

That's how I want to spend my life.

Right now anyway.

Check back when Cole wakes up.

Baby's first New Year... and hangover

Just kidding mom...

May good fortune in 2011 smile upon you.

Happy New Year!