Friday, September 27, 2013

Read Me. READ ME. REEEAD MEEEEEEE!!!!



My sweet Henry is about one month shy of his second birthday. These days it seems he is growing and changing quicker than I can catch my breath. He is learning new words and making connections and this whole big world that we live in is brand new in his little eyes. He marvels at bumblebees disappearing into foxglove blossoms and he will toss stone after stone into a rippling puddle just to watch splash after splash.

And, as toddlers do, he is bursting to share his newfound knowledge with whomever he can.

“Mama. Mama! Mama! Mama! MAMA! MAAAA-MAAAA!”
"MAMA! AIR-MANE!!"

“Yes, what is it, Sweetie?”

“Rain.”

“Yes, it is raining, Sweetie.”

Unfortunately, if one does not show the proper amount of enthusiasm towards the event that has peaked his interest, he will throw his entire being into ensuring that one fully understands the remarkableness of said event, his volume and urgency increasing with every declaration.

“Mama! MAMA, RAIN! MAAA-MAAA RAIN!! RAAAAAIIINNNNNN!!” 

“YES! RAIN!! It IS raining, Sweetie! You are SO smart to notice it is RAINING! RAIN! I see the RAIN!!”

Occasionally, his little toddler self will encounter something so amazing, he will insist on sharing his discovery with every person in the vicinity.

“Mama, bug. Mama! Bug! MAAA-MAAA! BUUUUUUUUG!”

“Yes, Darling, that is a little bug! A BUG! How clever you were to see it! A bug, that’s right!” (I've got this little song and dance down pat by now.)

“Dada, bug. Dada! Bug! DAAA-DAAA! BUUUUUUUUG! ” 

For whatever reason, my husband does not always hear this first round of exclamations. Sometimes I even have to give him a little nudge for fear my son will continue to yell about insects all day long. 

“Hmm? Oh, yes, Son, a bug.” 

“DADA, BUG! DAAAA-DAAAA! BUUUUUUUUG!”

And so it goes.


I sometimes imagine the scenario that would play out if I utilized a similar communication style in my everyday life. Say, when I discovered those adorable leopard print ballet flats at Target. 

Me: “Excuse me. Excuse Me! EXCUSE ME!! EXCUUUUUUUSE MEEEEEE!”

Random Target Shopper: “Um, yes?”

Me: “Shoes.”

Random Target Shopper: “Uh…yeah…shoes.”

Me: “EXCUSE ME!! SHOES! SHOES! SHOOOOOES!! SHOOOOOOOOES!!!”


Thank goodness we all grow out of that phase, right? It would be pretty crazy if grown adults needed the same sort of attention and affirmation as egocentric toddlers.

I mean, sure I’m writing this blog all about me and my cute kids and all of our activities. But it’s not like I hit “post” and then sit around and wait for “likes” or get downright giddy if I receive a comment. 

Oh. Wait.

Ok, so maybe I haven’t out grown it after all.

On that note, here are a few of my favorite snapshots from the summer:

Cute, right?


CUTE, RIGHT?


CUUUUUUUUTE, RIIIIIIIIGHT?!?




Thursday, September 19, 2013

How We're {Really} Doing




A friend recently asked, “Can you believe it’s been 6 months?!”

Yes. Yes, I can believe it. 

For us, it has been a long, hard 6 months. Perhaps because it feels like we have been awake for most of it.

Having a baby is exhausting. Having a baby and a toddler and a preschooler is, well, even after searching the thesaurus I cannot find a word that adequately describes our level of fatigue.

Some people decide that having one child is what’s best for their family. Other families thrive with five. I think our optimal number was two.

Going from 0 to 1 child completely kicked my butt. Then I seemed to get the hang of it and going from 1 to 2 wasn’t nearly as difficult as I'd anticipated. In fact, I was doing pretty well with two. They were fed, clothed and bathed on a regular basis. I made my own baby food, played educational games with them and all the toys were sorted by category in their own picture-labeled bins.

And then number 3 came along. After the newness wore off and my Vicodin prescription ran out, I looked around at the wreckage that used to be my home and thought what. have. we. done???

(Incidentally, the boys couldn't be happier about their new sister, especially the fact that Mommy found it a little difficult to supervise them every minute of the day. They celebrated by creating a giant Cheese-It slip 'n slide in the kitchen. One-year-old Henry marked the occasion by eating his sister's umbilical cord.)

Needless to say, we’ve lowered our parenting standards just a tad.

Good-bye home-cooked, organic meals; dinner tonight is soup from a can! Kids, meet your new babysitter: his name is Television! Who needs to bathe every day? Not this family! Weekly baths sound good to me!

And I don’t feel guilty about it. (Ok, that’s a lie. I feel guilty constantly. It’s what we moms do best.)

If one more elderly lady approaches me in the grocery store and tells me to enjoy every minute of motherhood because it goes so fast, she is going to get a swift karate chop to the throat. (Ok, I wouldn't do that, but I will call her a meddling old hag…in my mind. So there.)


The other phrase I hear constantly whenever we go out in public is, “Wow, you’ve sure got your hands full.” Yes, I have a baby strapped to my chest and 2 bickering children crammed in the cart with barely enough room to fit anything else except maybe a tube of toothpaste and an apple. I do have my hands full, but this statement always strikes me as odd. As my most favorite comedian Jim Gaffigan says, "That's like me going up to a guy in a wheelchair and saying, 'Looks like you're not doing much dancing lately.'"

I normally muster half a smile and respond with “Yeah.” My friend Kaylyn suggested I come back with, “Yes, and my heart is full also.” (I tried it once. I was met with a blank stare.)

One time all 5 of us were at Lowe’s (taking up 2 carts) and a very refined gentleman sporting ripped jeans and a mullet felt it was his duty to weigh in with his enlightening opinion, “Well, y’all just don’t know when to stop now, do ya?  Y’all do know where babies come from, riiight? I can getcha a book on it!” (In this situation Kaylyn says the appropriate response would be for me to place my arm around my husband and remark, “Well, look at this stud! Can you blame me?”)



Yes, it has been a difficult transition and friends often ask me how I’m doing. I'm never quite sure how to respond.

Do I go with overly optimistic? Oh, we are doing wonderful! We are just so grateful for our 3 little blessings and I am so incredibly fortunate that I get to be with them EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF THE DAY!!” (Maybe not. With that degree of cheeriness I might be the one getting karate chopped in the throat.)

How about slightly hysterical? I HAVEN’T SLEPT OR SHOWERED IN 3 DAYS *sob, sob* I HAVE DRIED POOP ON MY SHIRT AND SPIT UP IN MY HAIR *sob* AND ALL I’VE EATEN TODAY ARE SOME STALE GOLDFISH I FOUND IN MY CUPHOLDER!!

The reality is a combination of the two.  I normally just tell people, “We’re doing good.” And you know? We really are.


It’s been a learning curve and one of the most important things I’ve learned is that I can’t do it all. And I can’t do it on my own. It takes the proverbial village.

My dear, sweet husband, often after putting in 10+ hours at work, comes home and dives right in to the household duties. He will do bath time, bed time, dishes, laundry or whatever else is needed. As Jack says, “Daddy’s a BEAST!”

Friends have delivered meals to our doorstep and family members have pitched in every way possible and WE. ARE. SO. GRATEFUL.

And there’s Jesus. He’s helped too.
I’ve done a lot of praying over the past few months. At first, my prayers went like this:

God, puh-leeease make her go to sleep!

Lord, if you would just make them all stop screaming for 5 minutes, I promise to only let them watch Christian videos!

Really, God?? Projectile poop?!? That’s actually a thing!?!?!

Then, one morning, somewhere around month 4, I was feeling particularly desperate. Lord, I’m not expecting it to be easy, but is it always going to feel like so…much…work?? Am I going to have to give myself a pep-talk to get out of bed every day for the next 18 years??

And then it dawned on me. Instead of asking God to make my life easier, why not ask him to help me love the life I have?

Because, after all, there is a whole lot to love.

A verse immediately came to mind, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” I Thess. 5:16-18

And I have been dwelling in those words.

I’m noticing the smiles instead of the stains. I’m thankful for the falls and the fights because I have the privilege to help them back up and point them to Him. The sleep deprivation hardly even bothers me any more (totally kidding, it still sucks).

When our biggest problem in life is the chaos created by our 3 beautiful, healthy children, we really can't complain.

There are still (many) moments like this:
Can't a momma get a potty break??


But I’m choosing to focus on the ones like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_MQ8nYDcac
video


So how have we been doing?

It’s been a long 6 months. It’s been a hard 6 months. It’s been a fantastic 6 months.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FOUR: When Your Baby is No Longer a Baby


My boy turned four this summer.

Today I watched him write his name. He slowly, painstakingly scratched out each letter, his tongue poking out in concentration. J…A…backwards C…crooked K.  

And I marveled.



This was the newborn who peered at me with squinty eyes, his little head bobbing as he stretched to see my face. “I’m your Momma,” I whispered when we were finally alone in that hospital room, convincing myself more than telling him. He blinked at me, his tiny brow furrowed. I was expecting to experience a spiritual moment in which we would instantly bond and choir of angels would chorus in unison, but instead I felt…nothing. This could be anybody’s baby. He doesn’t feel like mine. Who is this little stranger peering suspiciously at me?

And now he is four and he is writing.

Today I listened to him tell me all about preschool and how he played pirates with his friends and sang a song about a cat who wore shoes and ate a popcorn snack while wearing a silly hat and how it’s not ok to hit people unless someone is trying to kill you.

And I laughed.

This was the baby who cried at night when he was supposed to be sleeping and I cried too because I just didn’t know what to do. He cried when other people spoke to him while we were out in public and I worried and fretted because I thought he was an anti-social hermit baby. Sometimes he cried during the day no matter the amount of rocking or patting or cajoling I would do and I would yell, “Just tell me what you want!!!”

And now he is four and he is communicating. And he is so funny.

Today I watched him run. He started at the top of the driveway and raced to the bottom, head down, fists clenched, feet flying. He ran like his daddy runs: with strength and a purpose. “How fast did I go, Mommy?” he asked, circling around me to take another pass.


And I couldn’t answer for the knot starting to form in my throat.

This was the toddler who, on this very driveway, brought me little autumnal gifts as I sat soaking in the last warmth of summer. “Mama!” he declared as he proudly presented me with a large yellow maple leaf. Next, he ambled over with a smooth round walnut. My pile of presents grew and my heart swelled as I watched my little blonde boy examine the dirt for the perfect specimen to bring his mother.

And now he is four and he is running.

His chubby cheeks have been replaced by a mischievous little boy grin. He is long and lean and surefooted. He pours his own drinks, puts on his own clothes and writes his own name.

Tonight, as I was tucking him in, I discovered something in his drawer of “special treasures.” It was a love note I had quickly scribbled on a napkin and stuck in his lunch box one morning, almost as an afterthought. “I didn’t use it, Mommy, cause I didn’t want it to get dirty. I'm keeping it forever.”

The little stranger that made me a mother has grown into a boy I love more than life itself.

I miss the baby that is no more and I cannot wait to watch the man he becomes, but today, I am holding tight to four.

My boy is four.


Monday, September 2, 2013

$ Our Pricey Sofa $


When I was pregnant with our first child, John and I went couch shopping one Sunday afternoon. We soon came across a gorgeous sectional sofa that would fit perfectly in our new home. It was a bit pricey, but hey, it’s an investment piece, right? (And by "a bit pricey" I mean I am way too embarrassed to ever tell you what it actually cost.)

“Are we sure this is the couch we want?” I asked John. “You know how hard kids are on furniture.”

“Yes,” replied my wise spouse, “because we will teach our children to respect our things.”

Of course that logic seemed perfectly rational to me at the time. Four years later our sofa has been the victim of everything from forgotten popsicles to toddler scribbles and, on one occasion, an entire bottle of balsamic vinaigrette.

Oh, but when the sofa was new and our first little baby was not yet mobile, back when we thought we had this whole parenting thing under control, we had rules to ensure our sectional stayed looking pristine. Shoes were not allowed on the sofa. Eating was not allowed on the sofa. My husband even came up with a rule that we should rotate our seating positions so that each cushion received equal wear. (Yeah. I’m not the only perfectionist in the family.)

We actually bought a warranty to protect our investment and, let me tell you, I used the heck out of that thing. Until the last time I called and they gave me some crap about the overall condition of the sofa being too poor to qualify for the warranty service anymore. Jerks. (Not that I'm still mad about it or anything.)

But I digress.

Here is how we used the sofa before we had children: 


Sitting.




Here is how we now use our sofa:

Cuddling




Hide and seeking




Fort making


Team cheering



Spaceman launching
video

Baby napping


Cartoon watching


Cave exploring


Mountain climbing?


Our pricey sofa is currently covered in tiny fingerprints, smudges and even some crusty slime droplets. Goldfish crackers and superhero action figures can be found smashed between the cushions and John and I are now much more concerned with dodging little boy acrobatics than rotating our seating positions. 

Yes, our pricey sofa is no longer pristine.

But you know what? I think I like it better this way.

"I totally respect the furniture, Dad!"