We Started Daycare

Hi folks.

Today, I am callin’ it as I see it, no sugar-coatin’. I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, the state I am in just plain sucks. And because I notice that ESPECIALLY when it comes to our kids, we have a hard time admitting when things are less than ideal. And I get it, it’s way more fun to post a pic of their toothy little grins with captions like, “First day of school smiles!”. But that isn’t always real life and we know it. So here on this little space of mine, I am going to keep it honest, as I always try to do.

I sometimes call it “pre-school” because well, that sounds better. And I know they color a picture or two, do a worksheet, glance at a flashcard – but when your 3.5 year old is there for more than 2 hours…sorry but that’s daycare. No way around it.

Clara started going half-days, 3 days a week a couple of weeks ago and the decision was NOT easy. Apparently I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I would have loved for Clara to attend one of the more bougie places near our office but doling out $1,700+ a month just is not in the cards for us. We were challenged with striking the right balance of finding a place that was somewhat close by, reasonably clean, had A.C, would take her not fully potty trained, had qualified staff, and of course, was within our budget. So we toured some places, thought more about it, and decided we needed to just pick something, try it out, and see what happens.

Well, here’s what happened.

Morning of her first day – out of a movie. All smiles. Backpack on. Front porch pic.

We dropped her off with no problem at all, except for the fact that as soon as we walked out I began to ugly cry.

I composed myself before getting into the office and the hustle and bustle at work proved to be a great distraction until we received this text in the late morning.

And you know, because I am dramatic and have a sizable anxiety disorder, I did not take this news well. May as well tell me the Titanic went down again, or Tom Hanks died. I immediately started to panic and wanted to go pick her up but her Grandma was already slated to be there in an hour and they said she was having fun.

As soon as pickup time rolled around, I anxiously awaited the text from Grandma. I was hoping to hear that she ended up having the best day ever. Then I heard my phone go off and opened the message to see this photo:

MY HEART. My stomach sank down through the floor and I swear I blacked out momentarily (ok I am being a tad dramatic here, but I am painting a picture). Luckily for me, I work with both my BFF and my husband and they immediately reminded me that she is a covid kid, who needed a structured environment with other kids. That this is good for her. Daycare just kicked her a** but she is ok. I knew she also had fun, socialized, and laughed. I knew she needed this.

I guess what I did not know is…this would be the hardest EFFING thing I’ve ever had to do.

I try to repeat calming daycare mantras to myself when I feel the sadness welling up in my throat. “She is only there half-days”, “It’s only 3 days a week.”, “This is good for her.” BLAH BLAH BLAH. Alllll I want to do is go get her. I want to scoop her up and never let her go. I want to do each and every hard thing for her. I want to be the one to trip and fall and scrape my face instead. I want to shield her, hold her, protect her.

But like duhhhhhhhh I know I have to let her fall. And struggle. And experience hardship. And worse yet, if I don’t – she will turn out all messed up. I guess kids are kinda like soufflés in a way, there are periods where you just have to let them be. And as much as you want to check on them, baby them to be sure everything is going well, you can’t or else it ruins the outcome. More than anything I want Clara to be a strong, capable, badass – and if I follow my instincts I might rid her of those qualities.

As I have stated before, I learn so much each and every day not only about parenting and my kids, but more than anything about myself. And life. How much perspectives can change. I learn how much I don’t know. How much I will never know.

*Insert Jonie Mitchell’s, “Both Sides Now” (world’s greatest song)*

You choose to bring a kid into the world and you have to keep it alive by doing everything for it. Then it grows and instinctively starts to walk, run, talk, etc. It no longer needs you as much. For me, this is SO hard to swallow. I feel cheated, like I wasn’t warned. Sometimes I feel like I am expected to just be OK with the changes that happen as she gets older, but most of the time all of the time, I need a minute. To feel the loss, to try and appreciate and accept the change. (deep breath) I can get there.

To get back to our story, David and I left work that afternoon and I got home to my tired little lass.

I basically did not want to let her go until she was struggling out of my arms. I also inspected her scrapes and her knee actually took the brunt of it. Kids are so resilient, man. Look at the smile on her little scraped up mug.

Since her first day, we’ve had good and bad days. Mornings where she cries, clings to my legs, and says “Mommy take me home!”. And then just today when David dropped her off, she said “Daddy you can leave” and she plopped right down and started playing.

(another deep breath)

I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions that I recall
I really don’t know love
Really don’t know love at all

Checking In

Today I thought I might provide a check-in of sorts. There is so much happening right now, with spring being well underway, summer plans being made and the possibility of the world opening back up looming. This is where I am at, in Portland Oregon, right now.

So – vaccinations! I find every social interaction as of late must begin with the obligatory vaccine catch-up. “Did you get your first shot?”, “How did you get an appointment?!” “Pfizer, Moderna or J&J?” We talk about the complexities of getting an appointment, the side effects, the new Brazilian and British covid strains. We are beginning to hug our grandparents, see friends inside and officially stop wiping down our groceries (although WE only did this for about a week). Is there a REAL possibility that we will be inside public places with other people, not wearing masks and (horror of horrors) not social distancing??!

Returning to our places of work, to restaurants and stores, to concerts and arenas and Chuck-E-Cheese. It has me feeling some kind of way. On one hand, I am elated to throw it back to 2019. To waltz into a crowded Goodwill, sans-mask, footloose and fancy free. Breathing in the mixture of must, body odor and Jean Nate, unadulterated. I am excited to see the look on my daughter’s faces when they get to interact with their peers again. And the way my husband’s eyes will sparkle when he comes home from playing basketball. I cannot wait to share that morning cup of joe with my coworkers again. All of these things give me happiness to no end.

But also – there’s this: I am an ambivert. Or, as I like to call it an introverted-extrovert. I like a variety in life. But the past year has really thwarted that extroverted side of me. I have settled into my quarantine nest and the routines that go with it. And even though there have definitely been exceptions, I have loved being around my family everyday. I also finally found joggers in tall sizes (Old Navy!). The introvert in me has been thrust into the spotlight. She has gotten used to it. It has become homey and warm.

We have all gotten used to certain things, haven’t we? To the awkward “covid shuffle” around the grocery store, trying to keep a gap between us. To the absence of invitations to parties, game nights and play dates. To air high fives and chest bumps. I have gotten used to the glares in the park we sometimes get when Clara is not wearing a mask. Or the dirty looks from others when she is. I am ready to wave goodbye to these things, but not to others.

I am not ready to drop Clara off at day care again. To miss the sticky hugs I get each morning after her morning waffles, or witnessing the sheer pride she exudes from completed the whole alphabet puzzle. I am not ready to only see my husband between the hours of 7:30 to 10:30 pm on weeknights. I am not ready to say goodbye to my cozy work-from-home spaces, complete with a dog on my lap and no makeup on my face. Most of all, I am not ready to say goodbye to the calm of a more simplified life.

Can we keep all the good, but not the bad? Can we all continue to stay home when we are feeling sick? And wear a mask if we are feeling sick, but need to go out? Can we work from home when we need to, without feeling guilty? Can we tell people no if we’re not feeling it, without making 1,000 excuses? I feel like there is so much we have all learned about ourselves over this past year.

What have you learned? What do you hope our post covid world looks like?

It is a New Year.

I feel like this is the celebration 2021 deserves.

And honestly, it’s the Peacock app for me.

Yes, The Office moved to Peacock. And for us anxious people who despise change (especially when it comes to our #1 comfort show) liked Jim, Michael and Angela right where they belonged, on Netflix. The move to Peacock means we must now download a new app? Pay more for the no-ad versions? Dwight, you ignorant slut!

But it’s not just The Office. It is of course, the senselessness that went down at the capitol building too. And the turmoil that has ensued since. It is also my grow-out. The rain. The looming 89273 days of rain ahead. And the 40 more after that. My mom-guilt. The fact that my twice weekly trips to Goodwill are all I have somedays. Or at least, that’s the way it can feel.

But then I realize that my gorgeous husband downloaded the Peacock app for me. And maybe my grow out is a look. And oh! Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race just started! And there is a stash of E’s leftover Halloween candy in the way back of the junk drawer. And really, could Clara be sweeter?? See, things are ok.

And before we move allll the way into this new year, let’s review the holidays. Because while they were covidy and weird, they were awesome.

For starters, I tried these KISS Jelly Fantasy Nails on my birthday and they stayed on for like 10 days!

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day here in Portland. A pretty big change from years prior, but I have to say – it was SO nice being home. It was David and I’s first time doing the Santa thing and we had so much fun.

I received the below sweatshirt which is just *chef’s kiss*.

Then we went to the Tri-Cities to see my family!

We discovered Clara’s affinity for a pepperoni stick.

And then it was her birthday party! Mickey Mouse theme of course.

Check out my visor! An antique find from Auntie Amy & Shannon.

I did my first high pony in her hair and omg I die.

So far our new year has been spent hanging up our amazing holiday gifts:

Starbucks runs

The infamous matte black tumblers!

And donuts.

Happy New Year!

That Quarantine Life Pt. 2

First things first – BLACK LIVES MATTER.

If I did not use my platform, humble as it is, to speak this truth I would not be able to ramble on about the musings of skincare, my family, or Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. I think we can all take the time to listen, open our hearts and our minds, educate ourselves and fight for justice.

We went down to a day-time peaceful protest in Tualatin a week or so ago to show our support. I understand that this topic and everything surrounding it is controversial and personal.  It was the first time myself or David had done anything like that before. For us, it was incredible. Moving, sad, thought-provoking, just…good stuff.

And now, onto the sh*t show.

Things have been interesting around here. Like the rest of the world, I too have been experiencing life in a new way. And in the interest of brutal honesty, I switched medications and that has helped IMMENSELY. To any of my anxious and/or depressed friends out there, please consider therapy and medication if you have not done so already. What a game changer.

The quick and dirty of the past month – Both David and I are still working from home. School is now over (as of yesterday) and Clara is nearly 18 months old! Here’s the happs –

Just because it’s the time of the COVID does not mean I have to let cute clothes for Clara go to waste. Case in point:

Her shoes!

The June weather has been, in a word, shittay. It has only been hot enough for the wading pool one or two times. But guys, I have hope.

So much hope that I ordered them these:

The crappy weather has not kept us inside. E has become a bike-riding fiend and quite literally stays out all day riding around with friends, and sometimes her baby sis.

We even happened upon a drive-by birthday party with an alpaca. And now the bar has been set.

Our time indoors has also not completely gone down the toilet. Well…not literally. Figuratively? Maybe.

For instance…

And…

Ok, there have been some cute moments…

As for me? Well, I think I sprained my toe. And DON’T come for my long-ass second toe. It’s a sign of intelligence. FIGHT ME. It also means it’s the first toe to get stubbed.

I also caved and ordered myself a matching  tie-dye “set” ala errrr girl on TikTok (btw follow me @nataliekmichaelis). It has not arrived yet, but here is the one I ordered (I got shorts instead of sweats). I am pretty psyched.

I also decided to take FULL advantage of my quarantine grow-out and baby bangs and achieve my ultimate 7th hair goalz.

If your 7th grade self is also jealous of this style, its time for a night cream. AMIRIGHT!?

In culinary arts, things have gotten pretty exciting around here.

I squealed when David came home from the grocery store with this. Loudly.

We got a Crumbl Cookie near us! Another squeal.

We behaved ourselves and only got two.

This is Buckeye Brownie and Churro.

They weigh like 8 pounds each and are sooooo good. I mean, crazy good.

Lastly, I got another voxbox from my good pals at Influenster with the some goodies, including this Gold Bond Neck & Chest Age Defense Cream.

Pretty excited about this stuff. Such a neglected area for me! Btw, if you do not have an Influenster account and have a decent following on social media (Facebook, especially) – consider signing up. You get free things, no strings attached. It is amazing.

That Quarantine Life

Hi there my pecan sandies!

I figured it was time to start writing about my experiences during this absolute bat-sh*t time.  Because once it’s all over and we’re back to normal (someone please reassure me this is going to happen) I am going to feel like I blacked-out. Like the past several months were just a bad dream. And, I KNOW. I know I am supposed to keep my chin(s) up, be #thankful for what I have and see the silver lining in all of this. But as I like to say, “first things first I’m a REALIST”. And the realistic part of me has nothing good to say about this…because it freaking sucks. It just, does.

Luckily, the other part of me loves a good meme. And watching people make asses of themselves on TikTok (I don’t care what vodka says, you still can’t dance).

So we laugh. We fight. We bicker about whether Mighty Ducks 1, 2 or 3 is the best (it’s 2). We make up new “house rules” due to shared unpleasant experiences. 4 people in a 1,500 SF house on a rainy day…need I say more? Especially when 50% of the people are scream-singing “Into the Unknown” or just plain screaming.

these are the rules so far

Whew. My back hurts. My whole back. Damn Ikea dining chairs don’t hold a candle to the ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chair collecting dust at my office. GOD stop complaining Natalie. Let’s get to it.

Food and bev has been top-notch. Not because I have turned a new leaf and suddenly started to enjoy cooking but because my husband shares my affinity for Digiorno. And the Rite Aid down the street always seems to have Lib Creek on sale for $5.98.

I should have warned you that some high-quality photos were in store, my mistake.

The girls, well. Clara obviously could GAF what is going on. She is just living her best toddler life, toddling around, getting in to sh*t she shouldn’t and learning words like “No!” and starting to hit me in the face. (ps i don’t even care that she hits me in the face, i love her sooooo much she is my perfect babyyyy). E is weathering the storm too. Poor thing had to turn 9 during all of this and took it like a champ. Here is what has gone down with them:

New hairstyles

ok she looks a lil crazy here

E being forced to become bffs with someone 8 years her junior.

in the television daze

This killed me. E dressed them up in her Uma (from The Descendents) Halloween costume. Major Toddlers & Tiara vibes.

why YES that is homemade cornbread on the stove!

Fort building.

Floor puzzle construction in a dazzling art smock.

Here is the “double decker” pb&j that E made because she was “so hungry” when we only had one precious loaf of bread left.

she barely ate half

Clara’s 15-month well child exam with our amazing pediatrician. We could only send one parent (hence the FT) and temperatures were taken in the car before they could come in. LOVE it.

As for David and I…we’re hangin. THANK BABY JESUS for good tv, puzzles, alcohol, you know. We are both working from home and trying our best at being parents. We look SO forward to our 8:30 ish alone time where we recently polished off season 3 of Ozark (HIGHLY recommend).

my home is SO clean

As for me…I have had my moments. I have run the gamut of emotions. One moment I am perfectly fine and the next I am in the throes of anxiety. Depression has also crept in…yuck. However I take a little comfort in the fact that I know I am not alone. The whole world is feeling this. So if everyone else can do it, so can I.

Here are some things that have helped along the way…

I MEAN

owwwww

My mom gave us a bag of “girl books” from her house recently. I found a few gems from my childhood including this one. I opened it up, found this message and yep, ugly cried.

Man I miss my parents. And our friends. And TJ Maxx. THIS IS HARD.

How are YOU surviving?

Clara is ONE

WELL. It happened.

And I tried so hard you guys. I did everything in my power. And it still happened. I am not okay with this for the following reasons:

  1. The older she gets, the bigger she gets. And the bigger she gets, the less she will let me hold her. And ALL I want to do is be able to hold her forever. Luckily, I am a pretty big lady so fingers crossed she will let me.
  2. Also, the older she gets, the less it is acceptable for me to bite her thighs, kiss the bottoms of her feet and nuzzle my entire face into her neck to the point where she is upset at me.
  3. Basically there is nothing good about her getting older.

On the day of her actual birth, we had a low-key family day.

I started it off with a rather dramatic cry. It just came out of me. Probably didn’t help that I listened to “Goodnight my Angel” by Billy Joel while I gave her a bottle.

Then I took her 1-year pictures in the chair and she was being so cute and funny.

Then, we got ready for her birthday outing! An afternoon at the Wiggle Room (a softplay center for babies).

Thanks to Auntie Meg for the matching hats!

And the next day, we threw her a birthday party. We did a Nutcracker/Land of Sweets theme and boy did Nancy go to town on the decorations! Clara is pretty lucky to have a Nana like her.

So adorable, yes?

I made her smash cake, which never got smashed.

I even bought an organic cake mix and used this bougie canned frosting that was like $6.99.

I am such a good mom, I know.

Clara Jane was just the sweetest she could be.

It was the best time ever.

We love this human so much. She has completely changed our lives and spreads the love where ever she goes. Happy birthday to our CJ!

Family Photos

WARNING! These were taken approximately 390834 months ago (or in early June) and therefore warrant the following disclaimers.

Disclaimer 1: I did not get my hair done prior to these photos.  I did have a haircut, but the color is REAL ROUGH. I know it’s bad and I’m sorry.

Disclaimer 2: The state of my hair is due to childbirth. If you are unaware, having a baby can cause hair loss. If you would like to know more or see additional unsightly photos, read this post.

I realize the first two disclaimers are about my hair. Believe me, there’s a reason.

Disclaimer 3: I did not look at this dress in a full, body-length mirror before these photos were taken. If I had, I would NOT have opted to wear an ill-fitting, unflattering garment simply because it was a nice brand in a nice color from the Rack for $14. Also, you cannot tell in the photos but it was stained AF. I made a poor, poor choice.

Disclaimer 4: I did not come prepared for these pictures. I did not bring a blanket, or any props or really anything at all.

Disclaimer 5: C and E’s outfits are just mehhhh. I chalk this up to my rampant indecisiveness that is a horrid symptom of my PPA. It came down to the wire on what they would wear and I just could not make up my mind for the LIFE OF ME.

OK, now that those are outta the way…feast your eyes!

Also, major hat tip to Liz Wade our photographer who was amazing, SO easy to work with, patient and talented.

After having lived through this experience (it was touch and go), I can now feel justified in offering up the following advice:

  1. Bring a GD blanket. Esp if you are taking outdoor photos.
  2. Before the photos, take care ‘ya business. Hair most notably.
  3. Dress up. This ones a personal pref, but I think photos look 823873 times better in more dressy clothing.
  4. Floppy sun hats are a YES for the littles.
  5. If your baby is still too young to sit up on her own, you best bring something to prop her up with! Or get yerself a GREAT photog like we did that can Photoshop out your hand that was holding the baby up (see pic of Clara sitting up as evidence, baby girl was being held up by David’s hand in this pic!)