Saturday, November 26, 2016

Kukowski/Kussard recent happenings per Katie

I think my original plan was to blog twice a week. That is funny as it has been about two months since my last post. Whoops! So now I will briefly bring you up to speed on our life the last two months…

We went to Florida for a week to visit with Brandon’s parents. It was great! Charlie loved the ocean and sand (after an initial freak out). We saw dolphins right out front of their home and spent wonderful quality time together. Brandon then headed back to Guatemala and Charlie and I went on to spend two weeks in Minnesota. I was feeling overwhelmed by motherhood and was in major need of support of friends and family.

Finally asleep on the plane

Watching the diggers at Grandma's

First Halloween 

While it was wonderful to be back in Minnesota and to spend time with friends and family, it was difficult to be away from Brandon that long. Charlie slept terrible and so I was exhausted and very cranky (my mom can attest to that for sure!! She was very patient with me through my emotional break downs). I was also very anxious for the 15-hour trip back home to Guatemala.
 The thing that is so true about this life we live is that most the things we spend nights worry about just never happen. Charlie did great on the trip home. That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t exhausted when we finally arrived but he did amazing!! I was very proud of him and of myself.

While we were away Brandon got himself into a nice work routine. Work is going well for him and we feel lucky that it allows us to have much family time together. Charlie is changing so rapidly and there aren’t many couples that get to witness it all together.

Brandon's office

While being in Minnesota I decided two things: that I need a break every now and then and that Charlie needs to start having some regular interactions with other children. He loved playing with Bjorn and Alma and it was fun watching him watch them. So now we have Anna who comes Monday’s and Wednesdays from 10am-2pm to watch Charlie so I can go grocery shopping, exercise, or just hang out. I also found a mommy/baby class that Charlie and I have started going to two days a week. It isn’t the greatest class but we don’t have that many options here and so we are taking what we can get at this point. It is nice to get out of the house with Charlie.

The house is becoming more comfortable. I managed to bring back a chair from Ikea in my suitcases and Brandon (with the assistance of Cruz) built as a daybed that we are using as a couch. Who knows how long we will be here at this point but I am done sitting on uncomfortable furniture!

It is getting busier around here as many people are escaping the cold. It’s fun to see familiar faces. My mom will be arriving in less than two weeks.  Brandon and I are thinking we may have our first night away together. In preparation for this we started night weening Charlie last night! It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. Hoping tonight only gets better!

Election night

Indigo dying sheet for our daybed


Katie, Brandon, and Charlie

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mom’s first weekend away

I pumped and pumped and pumped…and then I went away for 2 whole nights! I really needed some alone time as well as a few solid nights of sleep. I took a shuttle to Antigua with my friend Jackie. Antigua is about 2 hours away. It is a beautiful Spanish colonial town with cobblestone streets, fantastic restaurants, luxurious hotels, shopping, coffee shops…you know…civilization!

I slept in an amazing bed for 8 straight hours in a fantastic 6 room boutique hotel, had a massage, got my haircut and colored, sat in a sauna, had breakfast in an amazing garden poolside, ate great food, did a little shopping, and enjoyed my friend’s company in a cozy coffee shop. It was a weekend of self-care.  I find myself missing these luxuries more often these days. Being a mom is a very large job! (The following photos of the beautiful hotel we stayed in. There were so many amazing nooks!)

Brandon and Charlie did great. Knowing this makes it so that I am thinking about what/where my next get away will be. I still have enough milk in the freezer for another couple of days. Hmmm….

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Brandon is now working about 20 hours per week. We are starting to find a new routine that includes his work, my Spanish lessons, and the large weekly task of getting provisions in Panajachel.  Routine feels good. Charlie, however, likes to keep things interesting and so just when Brandon and I think we have found some type of nap/sleep routine for him he changes it up. For the past 2 weeks or so he has been refusing his afternoon nap. Makes for a long afternoon and a grumpy baby come dinner time.

Charlie's first play date. 

We are headed to Florida next week to spend a week with Brandon’s parents. I am excited to get away from home/no man’s land for a while. It is beautiful here and we are very lucky to be living here but I need to be back with family and friends every now and again. If we decide to live here longer we plan to visit the states a few times a year to meet our needs of spending time with those that we miss.

After Florida Charlie and I are heading to Minnesota for 2 weeks and Brandon will return home to Guatemala. Our last trip to Minnesota was so busy that it left me with my head spinning. I am going to make this visit different. There are still many people that I want to see but I am not going to put so much pressure on myself to get everywhere because being everywhere is simply not possible.

I am finally feeling like I am finding my rhythm as a mother. It has been really challenging for me up until just recently. I felt sleep deprived and very isolated.  As a new mom community is very important to the process of moving through postpartum. I do not have a community of mothers here to connect with and lean on and I believe that this was a major reason that it took me almost 9 months to feel like I have my feet on the ground.

I know that living here is our choice and that all choices bring consequences and compromises with them. I do strongly believe that even though I am lacking in a large community of mothers that we made the right choice for us. It is so amazing for both Brandon and I to be spending so much time watching Charlie grow and develop. AND our friends Chris and Erynne are moving back on Monday!! They have a two-year-old and having them around makes it feel less lonely in the parenting realm.  Oh, and my mom will be here for 5 weeks in December. All is well!

Waiting for my boat ride to Spanish lesson


Katie, Brandon, and Charlie

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Game Day

Charlie is 8 months old as of yesterday. This in itself is exciting but what makes it even more exciting is that he now fits in some of his Packer gear (exciting for Brandon).  This is Charlie's second game. He was 7 days old for his first game. Who knows if he will like football in the future but for now he is a good sport about it all. The house is happy because the Packer's are winning at the half. Happy Sunday!


Katie, Brandon, and Charlie

Thursday, September 8, 2016

It's been one year!

We have been here in Santa Cruz for one year already!  In many ways it feels like our home now. There have been moments when life is challenging that I want to move back to Minnesota because it is difficult to be away from friends and our parents and there are many comforts in MN. However, when I slow down and really think about our life I feel very content here.

The logistics of this place make it very challenging to have “date nights” and so we just haven’t. My mom is coming for 5 weeks in December and Brandon and I are really looking forward to having some dates while Charlie and his Grandmother hang out.

Charlie is crawling all over the place and has 2 teeth. He pulls himself up on everything and is able to stand independently for a few seconds before falling down. This kid desperately wants to walk. He is almost 8 months old. We are constantly baby proofing as best we can but accidents and injuries are in full affect.  He loves all solid foods. There isn’t one thing thus far that he will not eat.

My brother Charlie and sister in-law Colleen visited for 2 weeks at the beginning of August. It was amazing to get to spend the much needed quality time with them.  They are so easy to be with and were very helpful with Charlie. I joked that 4 adults to 1 baby feels like the perfect scenario.

One week after Charlie and Colleen left Brandon went to MN for a week to turn over one of our rental houses to new tenants and to talk with an old boss about some remote work opportunities. The weeks typically breeze by but the week Brandon was gone was so long. I know I have explained this in the past, but we live in a remote area where the only access to shopping/restaurant is by boat and my nearest friend is a 30-minute hike away.

The solo time with Charlie was a lot of work and also very successful. It made me very grateful for Brandon and all that he does and it also helped me to relax a bit. I was only one person and so Charlie was going to have to sit in his crib longer than I would have liked as I ran to the laundry room or went to the bathroom or took a breathe alone. Needless to say, we were very happy when Brandon returned…with a job!  That’s right! Brandon has a job.

I have been pumping like crazy trying to build up a supply so that I can take a few nights away. I had been thinking that I would take a trip to the states and meet up with some friends but have since decided that this would require 2 full days of travel and I don’t want to spend my time away in an airport. So instead I am going to spend 2 nights in a swanky hotel in Antigua.

I continue my Spanish lessons 4 hours a week and continue to wish that I knew more.  I have a great deal of respect for mothers that attend school. I find it very difficult to study and be a mother…I’m exhausted by bedtime and want nothing to do with studying.  

It is the rainy season/winter now so we do not spend much time outside. It is “cold” and the grass is usually wet from the rain the night before. When the sun is out we try to get in some much needed outside time.

Our next adventure is coming up sometime in October. We will be flying to Florida to visit Brandon’s parents. Flying with mobile Charlie is going to be different. The last time we flew he was 5 months old and not moving…


Katie, Brandon, and Charlie

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Computer has been at the doctor

So I spilled a glass of wine on my computer and that resulted in it being out of commission for about a month. It came home yesterday. Lots has happened since my last post but I need some time to compose my thoughts to make it all coherent. I will do this soon I promise.

Katie, Brandon, and Charlie

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sleep training for us all.

For the first few months Charlie was a good sleeper. Meaning that he would sleep about 4-6 hours at a time. The past few months were not so good. He had been getting up every 1½ hours and I had been nursing him back to sleep. This routine really had me in a haze of exhaustion.

Crying it out was not high on my list of things I wanted to do. I had been saying we should try it for probably 2 months but then didn’t because I just didn’t feel ready. I really enjoy cuddling and nursing him to sleep but it finally got to a point that I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was crying a lot because I was so tired.

I connected with many friends that had done the cry it out deal for their words of wisdom and support in preparation.  We really want to have the sleep in a better place before my brother and sister in-law arrive so we started this past Tuesday.

Many of our friends suggested that Brandon do the work and I leave the house because I would most likely cave and go pick up the crying child.  I agreed that the crying would be too much for me but didn’t know where to go so I decided that instead of leaving the house I would put on Brandon’s headphones that I got him and turn on the TV (our computer) as loud as it would play. That’s what I did. I shut myself in our room and escaped into the lives of The Real Housewives of New York.

Night one Charlie cried for 25 minutes before putting himself to sleep. He slept for 8 hours before I fed him and he went back to sleep for 3 more hours! The second night he cried for 3 minutes and followed the same routine as the night before. Night 3 there was NO crying. Last night was night 5 and he has gone down with no tears since night 3. We are a work in progress because we still need to work on removing the 2:30am feeding but for right now this is working perfect. We will tackle that feeding down the road.

 This sleep training really brought to my attention the fact that Charlie’s room really needing some decorating. We didn’t prepare a nursery before his arrival in the way that I most likely would have done if we had been living in Minnesota. You know what I mean: paint the walls, put up new curtains, pick out a comfy chair and a crib ect.  Instead we looked around the house at the furniture that was provided and moved items in the 90 square foot room that would work for what we needed. He has a small dining room table as his changing table, (his first changing table was the top of Kirby’s dog kennel) a side table that wasn’t being used as his bookshelf/toy spot, a small chair for me to sit in and feed him (NOT COMFY at ALL!), and a travel crib that my mom bought for him (first sleep space was a suitcase).

So I rearranged the furniture as best I could to create some wall space so that I could put some things on the walls. These are things that we already had of course. I do think that I am going to find a few colorful items to finish off the space. I also am planning to make a rag rug for the floor if and when I find enough sheets. Sheets are not an easy item to find here. I’ll show that rug if I ever get to it!

Tummy sleeping is a new thing.

Katie, Brandon, and Charlie