Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tis' the Season




It's been two full weeks since I blogged. I miss my blog. I am struggling to find time for it. I am struggling to find time for a lot of things recently. You may be nodding knowingly, "Ahh, yes, the transition from one child to two..." But, I don't know if that's it.

I love this time of year. I love the decorations and the lights. I love the music.  I love the snow and the hot cocoa. I like nothing better than baking Christmas cookies and snuggling on the couch watching Christmas movies. I get immense pleasure out of giving the perfect gift to a friend or family member and watching their face when they open it. I love the church all decked out in candles and greenery.

But this year, I'm not feeling it and I don't know why. The most festive tasks are met with irritation and frustration. I find that I am checking off the boxes on the "to do" list more than actually enjoying any of it. I have been racing through present shopping, wrapping the gifts, baking the cookies, decorating the tree without having the time to relish any of the things I really love about this holiday.

I have to keep reminding myself to relax. To take it easy. To stop and take a breath. Maybe it is just the added stress of having a new baby at home and therefore, less sleep. But I think it might be me. I find myself becoming aggravated over the smallest tasks rather than taking pleasure in them. The tree decorating this weekend was met with impatience and a strong desire to just get it done. Combine that with a rambunctious toddler and a fussy newborn and it's a sure disaster. Not to mention that my crabby mood ruins the fun for the rest of my family. I don't want that. I don't want to take the joy away from my children or my husband. I don't want our first Christmas together as a family of four to be squandered in a flurry of to-do lists and obligations. I want to bake cookies with my toddler and I want to sing Christmas songs and look at the lights and spend time with my husband and enjoy my family.

Something needs to change. I need to change. My focus needs to shift from all that "needs" to be done to all that is happening now. I need to remember the reason for Christmas. The blessing that is Christ. The joy of this season. The miracles that we are given every day.



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super Mom

Being a mother of two is a tough gig. (Stop the presses! Breaking news!) I continue to feel pulled in all directions. I love my toddler but he does not react well to being told to wait. To give me a minute. To share his time with his sister. Really, I don't know a lot of adults who do well with patience so it's not that surprising that he struggles. But, it's a rough transition for all of us. I have less sleep and less serenity than I would like. I don't respond very pleasantly to whining or temper tantrums when I am crabby (or well-rested, for that matter).

Part of me is starting to wonder if some of this stress is self-inflicted. Yesterday, I wrote about getting to sleep in but then having to rush like crazy to get the kids out the door so the tot could be on time for preschool. As I was speeding (yes, speeding! With my two children in the car!) it occurred to me that my husband had offered repeatedly to take Ben to school. That had I taken him up on the offer, I could have had more time at home to get ready for my doctor appointment, feed the baby one more time, and still have plenty of time to make it to preschool pick up. That I might have been able to do my hair AND my make-up instead of picking between the two. Heck, I might have even gotten a shower or been able to finish my coffee! 

I don't know why I feel "less than" if, heaven forbid, I allow my husband to take the kiddo to school once in awhile. It's as if my letting him take over the school drop off somehow signifies that I have failed for that day. That I have not met all of my "mom objectives". That I can't hack it and have dropped the ball where so many of my fellow moms are succeeding. I can't explain why or where that comes from. But today I realized that sometimes I need to take the help when it's offered. There are plenty of times when I am wishing I had help and it's not available. I need to be able to accept the assistance with gratitude instead of guilt. Getting help from my co-parent doesn't make me a slacker mom or a bad mom. In reality, if it keeps me from snapping at my two year old for whining, it might even make me a better mom. 

Balancing act

I am unfamiliar with downtime. As it is now, any time I have that both kids are napping or otherwise occupied - I am spending it asleep. I look around my house where things have become piled on every counter and table top, toys are scattered on the floor, miscellaneous baby paraphernalia is strewn around the room and there are dishes in the sink. Not to mention that the check book needs to be balanced and there are miscellaneous phone calls and appointments to be made. It's probably pointless to say that I have had no time to do any of the above due to my annoying need for sleep.

I have recently had this feeling like I am just spinning plates over my head. I'd like to try to accomplish any of the other many things that need to happen but it seems like if I try to get anything else done, I will drop or break one of the spinning plates. It seems like I have all I can handle and that I am just barely making it day to day with the kids being cared for, fed and (sometimes) dressed. Don't misunderstand, I am not complaining in the least. I think I am just surprised by how much of my time is taken up with just the day to day activities of nursing the baby, feeding the toddler, changing diapers, cleaning spit up, rocking, reading, napping, bathing, and bedtime routines. I feel like I can't possibly accomplish one thing outside of our basic needs. Which is probably why I am finding additional goals like Christmas shopping, potty training, baptism planning, and budgeting so daunting. And is also likely why so many things but the very bare necessities have fallen to the back burner.

Until now.

Last night, I was recounting all of this to my husband and saying that if I could just get enough sleep at night, I could get some of these other things done while the kids were asleep in the afternoon. (I did not include blogging in my list because I feel that should just be assumed). Imagine my surprise when the baby who seemed like she would never go to sleep went to sleep at 11pm and we all slept until my nursing wake up at 2:30 and then went back to sleep a little after 3:00 until 7:00am*. Almost seven and a half hours of sleep in total. Which is how I find myself in a somewhat cleaner living space, with a balanced check book, phone calls returned, and dishes put away. Admittedly there is still plenty that needs to be done, but I've accomplished enough to enjoy these few minutes of writing and relaxing. Because it's really just a matter of minutes before nap time is over and the plates start spinning again.

*I should also note that as restful and enjoyable as it is to sleep until 7am - on a Tuesday this also translates to "late for preschool" as it is a physical impossibility to get us all out the door in an hour and 15 minutes. Which led to a very hectic morning making this peace all the much more appreciated.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Not enough hours

Try as I might, I can't seem to find the time to blog as much as I'd like. Our days are flying by in a whirlwind of nursing, napping, family visits and trying to get the every day things like showering accomplished.

But, I am blessed enough to wake up to this every morning:



And (with God's grace) to go to sleep looking at this every night:

I hope that soon I will be able to squeeze more than a few words in between those two events!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Month


One month ago today I became a mother of two. One month. A month of nursing aggravation, sleepless nights, house guests, sibling rivalries, parenting squabbles and aggravations. A month of baby coos, warm snuggles, big brother kisses, meals from friends, thoughtful cards and emails, singing, rocking and immeasurable joy.

It's the bitter sweetness of it all that I cannot ever quite explain. The struggle and frustration of feeling pulled in so many directions and never really fully meeting anyone's needs. The contentment of snuggling a warm soft baby against my chest. The pride at watching my son handing a toy to his crying sister in an effort to soothe her.  The peace of a quiet house when the stars (and naps) align and I can finally afford a few minutes to myself. The guilt because those few minutes really should be spent cleaning up the mess and catching up on "thank you" notes instead of blogging. The feeling of accomplishment at having made it through this first month without any major catastrophes. The sadness because this first month is already over and the days just keep flying faster and faster.

I am thankful for all of it.



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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sleeping when you can

When I was a first time mother, I was exhausted. All the time. I remember distinctly screaming at my newborn child one day because he refused to nap and cried every time I put him down and I was exhausted. I expected much worse the second time around. But so far (knock wood) it has been okay.

I think the reason for this is because I have become what I like to think of as a sleep scavenger. I will take sleep in any form whenever I can get it. This includes turning on a DVD for the tot and snoozing in front of the tv with him while the baby sleeps in her rocker. I have become artful at trying to encourage the baby to nurse and nap during the toddlers nap - scoring myself a minimum of an overlapping forty-five minutes of peace. This probably doesn't seem like much when you are only getting 4-5 hours of sleep at night, but couple that with grabbing an hour in the evening when the husband gets home or first thing in the morning when he's getting up and drinking his coffee and it can come close to a full night of sleep. Which makes it so much easier to relax and almost enjoy those 3am feedings.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Now We Are Four

Our days have been filled with nursing, diaper changes, spit-up, preschool runs, toddler tantrums and (when I am really, really lucky) naps. I have jumped full force in to being a mother of two. It's not what I thought it would be at all. It's harder, more tiring, louder, brighter and more exciting. 

When I was pregnant this time around, I had all these goals - I was going to do the "baby wearing" thing. I bought a Moby from a friend and a Mai Tai from a store. I wasn't going to use that nasty nipple shield - I was going to do the straight nursing thing. I was going to be patient with my toddler who would obviously be having some adjustment issues and remind myself that he was going through a transition rather than losing my temper and screaming like crazy at him when he started acting out. I was going to get up very early every day on little or no sleep and get showered and rearing to go so that I could get the kiddo to preschool on time, get my errands run, and clean my house. 

Let me just say that NONE of that is happening. Not a single thing I had planned for or anticipated has gone as I planned. The baby hates - HATES - the moby wrap. She cries as soon as I try to "wear" her. She is addicted to the nipple shield which I succumbed to using in a haze of hormones and fatigue at the hospital. I have tried repeatedly to wean her from it and she refuses to let it go. When she does latch, I am pretty sure it's incorrectly as it feels like she's about to pull my nipple off. I am weak - at this point, I prefer the shield! As far as the temper, mine runs rampant. I feel guilty constantly because my two year old is acting like, well, a two year old and I am frequently exhausted, losing my cool yelling at him and threatening time outs like there's no tomorrow. I keep trying to remind myself that this is a huge transition for him and he's struggling with sharing his space and (more importantly) his mommy, but in the heat of the moment it's hard to remember. And I don't even want to talk about how hard it is to get myself up and out of bed on the days of little sleep in order to get dressed and get the kids fed and out the door. 

So, being the planner that I am, you would think that all of this upheaval would make me miserable. Only it doesn't. It's not what I planned or pictured, but it's a different kind of wonderful. The baby is so small and soft and reminds me so much of her brother who now seems indescribably large by comparison. My toddler is struggling with this new arrival, but he shows a great deal of compassion and care for this new little person. He frequently orders me to "Go get her!" when she cries and he gives her his toys to try to cheer her up. I have explained the purpose behind burping the baby and why she gets fussy when her tummy hurts and he says to her "I am sorry you have bubbles in your tummy". I struggle to find one on one time with each of them, but am so glad for all of our together moments. I love our family. Our messy, loud, disorganized, fun family of four. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Stump

The baby's umbilical stump is mocking me. I know it's only supposed to hang out for 1-2 weeks but we are already at the ten day mark and it's still there. Everyone says how great it looks. It will surely fall off anytime now. And yet, there it still sits. Preventing me from using all the cute onesie/pants combos that are washed and hanging, waiting uselessly in the closet and the drawers. Keeping me from rolling out the tummy play mat to help my daughter work on her head and neck muscles as well as getting those air bubbles out of her tummy.

But you know the weird thing about the stump? I almost don't want her to lose it. Because she's that much bigger the day it falls off than she was the day before that. I am tired. I have been up every night for at least a couple of hours and sometimes for more than half the night. I get frustrated and cranky but I am in no hurry for the sleepless nights to be over. Because the day they are - she is that much older and grown that much more.

You see, I am pretty sure she is our last baby. We have a girl and a boy. What more could you ask for? Not to mention that being pregnant is kind of hard. Delivery and recuperation is even harder. Having a child who is sleeping through the night, able to do all sorts of cool activities, and becoming a fully functioning little kid and then having to hit the "reset button" to go back to the start with a new little one is one of the toughest parts. I am glad to have the opportunity to have all of these experiences a second time around but not sure I could swing it for a third or fourth time. Not physically, not financially, and probably not emotionally.

So, that means this is our last umbilical stump. Our last time to wake in the night and nurse and snuggle. My last time to see a baby roll over for the first time or catch her first smile or hear her first laugh. Every single moment feels meaningful and important and something to be savored rather than pushed past or wished away. So, Mr. Stump, you can stay for as long as you need to.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

She's HERE!

So this happened last Monday:


It was amazing. It was a completely different experience from the first time and still completely unforgettable. I was able to be present for the whole procedure which was unbelievable. It was simultaneously terrifying and breathtaking. Seeing my daughter for the first time is still indescribable. I am determined in the next few weeks to find a way to put my thoughts on paper if only to be able to capture the moment before it is fogged by the process of time.

We are all still in transition mode in this house and that coupled with family visitors has prevented me from having much time to blog. Though I strongly suspect that having two children to wrangle will also be keeping my blog time to a minimum. On the plus side, midnight and 3AM feedings have afforded me the ability to keep up on reading other people's blogs which is better than I could do before. I strongly suspect that my night time periods of consciousness are only going to increase for awhile. It's unfortunate that I can't figure out a way to breastfeed and blog simultaneously.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Peace

It's quiet in our house. It's one of those rare (and I am sure soon to be fleeting) mornings where everyone is asleep except me. I wish I was asleep but my mind was in overdrive after I got up for my nightly pee break and I decided to make the most of it and come downstairs to accomplish whatever I could in order to get a nice nap later. We'll see how that pans out.

Everything is ready to go. My bag is packed, her bag is packed. The car seat is installed. The plans are made. Our last check up is today and my pre-op appointment is Friday. Being the planner that I am, I would think this would help ease some anxiety, but so far it really hasn't. I have been assured by countless friends and strangers that a planned c-section is 1000 times better than an emergency c-section. That I probably will have an effective spinal block. That my recovery will be even better and quicker than last time. Every little anecdote helps, but I don't think I will finally breathe easy until I am on the other side and I have my own anecdote to add to the mix.

I continue to worry about that which is beyond my control. I fret that my son will no longer be an only child and that all the preparation we have been doing with him to try to make this transition an easier one will be useless as he will still feel jealous and usurped by this interloper. I feel anxious that I won't be able to split my time well between the two of them and that no matter what I am doing, I will feel that I am neglecting the other one. I worry that my in-laws staying for two weeks is a really bad idea and that the combination of hormones, sleeplessness, and lack of southern charm (on my end) will cause me to say some really inappropriate "Yankee" type things to my mother-in-law when she starts to get on my nerves.

In the end, all I can do is breathe and pray. Worrying about these issues that are so far out of my control isn't going to help them or make them go away. I have to continually work to remind myself that God is in control. He will guide this process for better or worse and my job is to let him. I read something recently that said worrying about things you cannot control shows a lack of faith and trust in God. It says that you feel you can do a better job steering your life than He can. I know that is not the case and so I have to keep working on giving it over and letting it go. It's a work in progress.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The benefit of experience

One of the great things about a second baby is that I've been here before. This time around I know stuff that I didn't know before. With the first one, at this point in my pregnancy I was just excited to meet the baby. (Actually, at this point in the pregnancy I had already had my baby since he was 2.5 weeks early). I didn't know that I was about to embark on a multitude of sleepless nights. Well, I mean, everyone tells you that but you really have no IDEA how physically tired you will be until you are there. I didn't know that I would feel so emotional about every little thing or be so worried about doing everything "right". Did he eat enough? Is it normal to nurse this long? Am I overfeeding him? Should he be spitting up like that? Should he go through this many diapers? Why doesn't he nap? Why is he crying? Should we call someone?

This time around I have the benefit of experience. I know that nursing is hard and it might suck (no pun intended). I also know that if I can't make a go of it, I am not going to let myself feel like the worst mother ever and that formula is not the devil's nectar. I know that there will be a lot of sleepless nights and that I will want to pull my hair out and there will be times that I feel like I can barely function. But, I also know that those nights pass and sleep does eventually happen. I know that sometime randomly my child will decide that naps are for sissies and that nothing I do is the right way to soothe her. But I know that she will eventually tucker out and allow herself to be calmed and cuddled. 

Best of all, I know what it feels like to hold that new little person in my arms. To smell their hair and feel that warm soft weight on my chest. To hear the little sighs when they sleep and watch them discover the world one tiny piece at a time. "Look! I have hands! They are attached to my body! I can make them move!" So yeah, this time around - I am just excited to meet the baby. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Cat is Leaving the Bag

This baby has been named. We had picked a name actually weeks ago and started referring to her by it to "try it out". Somewhere along the line the name we were trying became the actual name and neither of us could think of any alternative on our list that we liked better. We have also been referring to her by name in front of the tot and he knows her name. He calls her "Baby Sister (insert name here)".

But we are not telling people. I don't know why. I guess it's in case we don't stick with that name and decide to change it at the last minute? Or maybe it's because we don't want to hear "Really? THAT'S what you are naming her?" or see anything other than elation from friends and family when we announce her name following her arrival. Or maybe it's just that it's a personal decision and something we want to keep private and just "ours" for as long as possible.

In any case, our very smart toddler has apparently decided it's time to share. Last night, his wise music teacher asked "What is your sister's name going to be?" and he blabbed without hesitation. My husband said she looked to him for confirmation and he was so surprised by the sudden sharing from our son that he didn't know what to say. He ended up awkwardly admitting that yes, that was in fact her name but no, we aren't actually telling anyone. I guess we should have told that to our toddler...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Feels like old times...

Yesterday, I was tired. I had a restless night of sleep and was feeling incapable of managing my kid much less making it through the whole day and then working that evening. So, I cheated a little. I fed the tot breakfast and then I put on Toy Story and dozed on and off while he watched it.

Today I have been blessed by a bout of nostalgia as my little man has been reacquainted with Buzz and Woody. He has asked to play with them, been dragging them around the house and asking to watch the movies again. I watch him playing with them and cuddling them and I can't help but remember a much smaller little guy who dragged his bean bag Buzz every where. A tiny tot who still slept in a crib and insisted that his space ranger pal accompany him.

But one day, before I knew it, Buzz and Woody were relegated to the toy box. They were replaced by a shiny red Lightening McQueen and a Tow Mater. The Toy Story DVDs were no longer requested, instead Cars became our frequent favorite and our go-to distraction. In retrospect, it's all part of growing up. I was no different - Cabbage Patch gave way to Barbie which gave way to CD's and make-up. I know that there will be many toy stages between now and the time that toys become obsolete. But it still felt sad at the time and I could feel myself saying "Already? But he's too little to have grown out of something so soon!"

Imagine my surprise to find that Buzz and Woody movies can still hold his attention. That when we went to the play room, he dug them out of his box and was pleased to see his old friends. It made me smile to know that he still loves his first little friends. That he's really not as big as he seems sometimes. That he's still the same little boy who used to drag them around and say "to infinity and beyond" in that garbled, baby way that only Moms and Dads can understand. Welcome back, Buzz and Woody! You've been missed.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Overwhelmed

We have less than four weeks to meet our new little addition. I am prepared. I have freezer meals made. I have bedding and new clothes laundered. I washed the car seat, washed and reassembled the bassinet and the swing . Sorted through my breast pump apparatus and bought new tubing, shields, membranes and milk storage bottles. I have nursing pads and milk storage bags. All of our bottles, pacifiers and nipples have been washed and sterilized. I have a cleaning service scheduled to do a whole house cleaning the Friday before and I have my pre-op testing scheduled as well. I have the Baby Girl's bag packed and a list of what I need to put in mine.

You would think I'd be feeling pretty confident and relaxed at this point. Not so much. Suddenly I find myself overwhelmed with obligations. I have meetings to attend for the preschool fundraising, school board meetings, regular work responsibilities that have started to bleed into other areas of my calendar because of staff meetings and unexpected projects. The tot has preschool twice weekly but those two free hours two days weekly are already taken up with OB appointments, bible study, and other obligations.

I have been trying to get to this store in town that specializes in slings for baby wearing and even helps you try to figure out what type you like and how to put them on. I congratulated myself for calling the lady yesterday and setting up a consultation during evening hours so that the hubs could watch the kiddo while I am gone. No sooner had I done that than I find two separate emails in my inbox, one trying to schedule a meeting for next Tuesday morning and one for a meeting next Tuesday afternoon. Of course, I already have something scheduled on Tuesday morning and can't possibly meet on a Tuesday afternoon unless I pay a sitter. I felt like crying.

Admittedly, some of it is self inflicted. I have attended a Mom's Bible Study for the last couple of years but only recently did we decide to also join a group bible study at our church. It truly has been a great experience as all of the other couples' also have kids around our kid's age and they get to play together while we have dinner, share fellowship and talk about the study. However, trying to find time to both keep up with the study I am already in as well as read the chapters for this new study feels next to impossible. In addition, I have recently made plans with a new friend for tea and invited a neighbor and her girls over for dinner. Of course, I don't have a free night this week or next week to make them dinner but, for some reason, this was not part of my consideration when I extended the invitation.

I am finding more and more that I am looking forward to the birth of this baby. For the obvious reasons (Yay! A baby! Tiny baby toes and fingers! Lots of pink! My back will stop hurting! My nerve will stop hurting! My heartburn will disappear!) but also because it will force me to slow down. Physically, I will not be able to do very much for a few weeks and will not be able to make plans, attend meetings, agree to obligations that I can't handle. I am hopeful that this breather might help me to reset the clock. Knowing how hard it was with a newborn those first few weeks, I am guessing it will be even harder managing a small baby and a toddler. The positive side to this is that I will only be able to do what absolutely needs to be done and nothing more. I realize much of this time will be spent nursing, sleeping, or reassuring my toddler that he is still my favorite two year old. But, I am also anticipating some clarity from dropping away from the hustle and bustle for awhile. I hope to be able to get some perspective on what things are priorities and what things are just hollow obligations. God always gives you what you need just when you need it - I think this may be one of those times.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Where Have You Been?

I bet you are wondering. Nowhere cool. My birthday was a couple of weeks ago and I decided to celebrate by getting part of my finger lasered off. No joke. Well, not about the surgery part anyway. I have had a wart for the last 10 years under my fingernail. I have had it burned, chemically peeled, treated with topical ointments, taped, you name it. And it always grows back. My dermatologist finally suggested laser surgery out of frustration. Which is fine, except that I am still pregnant, so not necessarily the ideal candidate for a surgery.

But, I met with a surgeon and he insisted it would be fine and so then I did the necessary "obsessive-complusive" check-ins with my OB who also reassured me that I would be okay and I scheduled surgery. But the only time I could get it done was the day before my birthday. So, Happy Birthday to me - one less wart and one really sore hand. Which is part of the reason no one has heard from me in over two weeks. That and the fact that when I am faced with free time (aka during nap time) I have been faced with tough choices like blogging or sleeping. Sorry, I am weak and I typically choose sleep.

The joyful news is that I am now up and running again. I am still missing a finger nail (ewww - gross!) but the finger doesn't hurt anymore and I can do everything I could do before, including typing. Which has been a great relief given that I still have a two year old to manage in addition to the normal household craziness of laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, etc.

As for the toddler, he is doing wonderfully. He loves school and I have repeatedly had to drag him out of there when it's time to leave. I am starting to worry the teachers are going to expect an abusive or neglectful home life because of how vehemently he insists on staying to play. Unfortunately, he has just contracted some form of typhoid or bird flu or something and so must be quarantined tomorrow. So far, he has been too sick to make much fuss about it, but I am expecting some negative feedback once it's time to get ready for school in the morning. I can relate as I was looking forward to having 2 hrs of down time with nothing specific planned.

My husband insists the illness is the result of his wellness check-up this past week at the doctor. Something of a germaphobe himself, he is convinced that the waiting area is full of germs as are the exam rooms. I do have to agree that even though our pediatrician's office has a "sick" room, I rarely see people sitting in it but the main lobby is always full. It seems unlikely that all 30 people happen to be there for sports physicals and check-ups and not one has the sniffles. But, I also assume it's the nature of the beast - how can you expect to treat sick people without having sick people in the office, right? Though, I felt the "Mama Bear" rising up in me when the hubs told me he had mentioned something about our son getting sick to the receptionist when he brought him in this morning to get checked out and her response was something like "oh yeah, happens all the time!" Really? Really?!! You aren't going to be even the slightest remorseful or acknowledge that this might be something your office needs to take more care with preventing? Like, for example, strongly encouraging sick patients to sit in the sick room when they check in? Or making them wear masks or something?

In any case, having a sick toddler does provide a few benefits. This afternoon, he woke from a very restless nap crying in discomfort. I sprinted up the stairs and rocked him under his blanket. He was drenched in sweat but his head was cool (Thank you, Lord!) and so I just rocked and rocked with him until he fell asleep. What a wonderful feeling - the weight of that toddler body and the sound of his restful breathing! I could have sat in the rocker all afternoon were it not for his sister kicking me in the bladder and making me have to pee. I also have to point out that the illness has afforded me extra nap time which has translated to extra blog time. My next goal will be to actually go and read up on my friends happenings whom I have missed! Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

School Day

I am now the proud mama of a preschooler. Yesterday was our first day and he was so excited. I, on the other hand, was glad for the dark glasses that hid my tearful eyes. Watching him in the rear view mirror, sitting in his car seat, sucking his two fingers - he just seemed so small and much more toddler than little boy. I found myself overcome with the desire to keep him with me, I was half considering turning the car around and bringing him back home. But we made it to the school and he was thrilled to wear his back pack into his class. We found his cubby and hung his back pack. We put on his name tag and helped him wash his hands and then said "Good bye" and told him we'd be back soon. He barely glanced at us - "Bye Mommy!" and went right to playing. No tears, no fears. Just excitement. I hope we can start every school day this way.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

52 Days to go...

I am trying not to be a complete nut job but let's face it - I am. I have an app on my phone that "oh so helpfully" tells me how many days are left until my due date. The kicker is that I see that number and then have to subtract seven because my c-section is actually scheduled the week before we are due. EEEEEK! Who went and made that crazy decision? (okay, it was me). So today after work I am going to Babies R Us and however many other places to load up on whatever baby supplies we are still in need of. Thankfully, we still have a lot from the tot so we only need some odds and ends. I am nervous to see the total bill once all is said and done, but I know we will be glad to have everything we need.

Lest you think I am an overly prepared mama, I should confess that there is still a cardboard box full of bottles and nipples just waiting to be sterilized on my counter (where it has sat for more than a week) and I have yet to dig out the baby carrier or car seat base from the black hole that is our basement storage. I am assuming that it will happen at some point if we ever hope to take this baby home with us, so am in no rush currently.

Yesterday, I had a seriously uncomfortable pain in the top of my belly. It was a burning, pulling sensation. I was convinced I had a hernia and was afraid to move or do much of anything all day. Thankfully, I had a check-up yesterday afternoon and was able to tell my OB about it. She assured me that I did not have a hernia but explained that it was a nerve that was being aggravated by pregnancy. Guess how they treat it? They don't! She suggested cortisone cream or ice but sounded doubtful that either was very effective. All in all, a disappointing check up. But the baby is still good and that's the important thing.

In other news, the tot starts preschool next week! Pardon me while I sob uncontrollably for a minute. Okay, better now. When I first registered him for preschool, we weren't even expecting and my thought was that two hours, twice weekly seemed like a great way for him to get some socialization with other kids and make friends. That was when it was months away and a completely abstract concept. Now it's next week and I am over come with "No! Not mah babeeeeee!!!" and an urge to grab him and hold him forever. He is, of course, ridiculously excited to go to school and wear his new back pack. He wants to meet his teacher and see his classroom and play with the other kids. So, because of this, I am going to sit on my ever growing anxiety and sadness and say "YAY!" as much as possible so as not to put a damper on his experience. The things we do for these kids, right?!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Go To Sleep

When I named this blog, I had no idea how often it would come back up in my life. It seems that part of child raising is continuing to struggle with getting your child enough sleep. Now that we are big enough for a bed, apparently we are also big enough to get out of it and make a ruckus.

Every nap time and every bedtime starts out with getting rocked to music, getting in to bed, snuggling up and looking at the stars on the ceiling. By the time I get down the stairs and turn the monitor on, the chatter has started. Then, I hear the clicking start - which is the turning on and off of the nightlight. I can hear the moving around and the creak of the rocking chair.

After about forty-five minutes of this, I go upstairs and say very firmly (ala Samuel L. Jackson) "It's bedtime! Go to sleep, NOW!" and remove whatever offending stimulus (typically books) that has been dragged into his bed. Somehow, at least so far, within about 3 minutes of this visit, he rolls over and goes to sleep. For that time and that moment - the battle is won. Only to resume again the next afternoon and evening. My hope is that at some point, he will get that he eventually has to go to sleep and start doing it again on his own. The reality is, he may never get to that point and this battle may go on for the next decade or longer.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Pause

I have been having more anxiety lately about the end of summer. Now that the heat wave has finally broken and the weather is more tolerable, I am reminded that preschool starts in a few short weeks. I find myself feeling an overwhelming desire to squirrel away time for just the tot and me before our lives start to feel too busy. Before Baby Sister arrives and "mommy & Ben time" is hard to come by. But....

It seems that every free afternoon ends up getting something scheduled. It's a train ride with friends, an afternoon kite flying at the park, a morning play date, a trip to the zoo. It feels like every "free" moment ends up becoming filled with something and I am taken by an overwhelming desire to just stop time for a second so I can savor the smell of sunscreen and toddler sweat. The deliciousness of a warm little boy snuggled in my lap for a book. The joy of opening the bedroom door first thing in the morning and being greeted by a huge smile and "Hi there, Mommy!" in a delighted toddler voice.

Very soon, the days will be shorter and the weather will be cooler. And while we will have so many great new experiences - the addition of a new family member, the chance to make new friends at school, the holidays, - I still find myself wishing life came with a pause button.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Longest Morning

You know what you get when you eat cookies before your glucose test? An invitation to take another one! Another, longer, fasting version with many more blood draws. Joy, joy! I had to have the husband stay home with the tot for this one so I got up especially early in order to be at the hospital right when the lab opened. Unbeknownst to me at the time, the 3 hr glucose test doesn't actually start until after your initial blood draw comes back from the lab. So despite arriving at 7am rearing to go, my actual test didn't begin until almost 8am. At which point, I had to chug down the same sugary orange drink and then wait an hour to have my blood drawn...again.

Did I mention this was a fasting test? So I had not eaten anything since 8pm the night before. For some odd reason, where I was sitting just happened to be the area where every nurse, orderly and visitor had to walk through with their boxes of donuts and trays of cookies for patients and staff. I tried to go to the gift shop and browse at one point, only to find that the register for the gift area was closed and if I wanted to buy anything, I had to pay for it in the cafe. You know, right next to the freezer case filled with pudding parfaits and brownies? By hour three, I was starting to hallucinate, I actually got to the point where I would see women carrying in bags that I could swear held birthday cake and cookies but ended up only being clothes on a second inspection. (I can't imagine what these women must have been thinking walking by the wild-eyed, enormously pregnant lady who was drooling at them).

Finally at 11, I had bruises in both arms and was done with the last blood draw. I was also famished and wishing fervently that I had thought to bring a snack in the car. I did the next best thing and hightailed it to the nearest drive-thru to pick up lunch. I rarely eat fast food, but that didn't stop me from finishing most of my fries before I got in the door.

Thankfully, I passed the test with no trouble at all. Which means I can go back to my nightly habit of double-stuffed Oreos and milk. It also means that I will be mentioning all of this torture and suffering to my daughter when she is at the "I hate you" stage of adolescence and complaining about how I never do anything for her.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nine Years Ago

Nine years ago - 
I lived in Orlando and had just finished graduate school. I was working only part-time counseling HIV patients and their families. I had terrible debt from school and had never owned my own home. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my degree. I had never been out of the country. I had never owned a new car. I was not a mother. I did not attend church. I was focused on my career. I had only had one "serious" relationship that started and ended with lots of drama and tears. I didn't understand how to be a partner or a wife. 

Nine years ago - 
He got down on one knee and he said "I have no idea what the future holds. I don't know where we will live or what we will be doing. All I know is I want to be with you. Will you marry me?" I have no idea why, but every day I am so glad he did. 





Monday, August 8, 2011

Cool and Cloudy

Finally, the heat wave has broken here. Ironically as we had planned to go to the pool this weekend and it looks like it will only be a high of 81. Thankfully most of the week is in the upper 70s and low 80s. However, due to a very late bedtime for myself and a very early wake-up for the tot, my motivation to do cool fun things is nil.

I stayed up way too late watching some show about aliens taking over the world and helping my husband put together folders for a presentation he is giving today. I remember reading in sleep books when we were going through many restless nights with the tot that after a certain point of tiredness, you actually become OVER tired and make cortisol which makes it hard to sleep. I think that was my problem last night as I felt like I had a horrible case of the fidgets once I finally went to bed. I wonder if that's what keeps the toddler getting out of bed playing with his turtle night light well after he as been tucked in. In any case, he also has his father's early riser instincts and gets up by about 6:00 or 6:30 no matter what time he goes to bed. While I am grateful for this on some level as I know it will make getting ready for school easier in a few weeks, I am also wishing that he could discern the difference between Summer and Fall and sleep a little later for now.

So, despite the beautiful, bearable, PERFECT weather for walking and running and playing outside, we will likely be inside as I try to plod through the morning and keep my eyes open.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Inside the Mouth of the Gift Horse

This weekend was a weekend away for the husband and myself. We were celebrating our last "couples weekend" before the arrival of our next spawn as well as our upcoming wedding anniversary and my upcoming birthday. It seemed like a lot of good reasons to celebrate. So we packed a bag and went to the city for a romantic evening. My mother bought us tickets to a favorite musical and offered to stay with the tot overnight. I want to say that I was eternally grateful and that I spent the days and weeks prior to the trip in excitement and anticipation, but I didn't and I wasn't.

For starters, I have a hard time with receiving extravagant gifts with grace. I have no good explanation for this except that I always worry that the other person is expecting something in return from me. Either a like-minded gift down the road or some other feeling of indebtedness for the over-the-top gesture. Unfortunately, I think I have developed this anxiety from learning experience with various friends and family members. Oddly, I enjoy giving gifts and I try to never expect anything in return for what I give whether it's a frozen meal for a friend who had a baby or a new IPod for the husband. It irks me to hear people complain about the "ungratefulness" of others when they have been given a gift. I think because I don't believe someone should ever do anything for someone else with the expectation of something in return. In my mind, gifts should be heartfelt and not a quid pro quo arrangement. Ironically, because of that anxiety, I am sure I end up looking very ungrateful more often than not.

In any case, my other major concern was leaving my tot in the care of someone else. My mother, in particular. Not that she is a neglectful caretaker or an abusive person by any stretch. I think the problem comes in that she is MY mother and therefore has a tendency to disregard most instructions I give her because she is MY parent and therefore doesn't need me to instruct her on child care. Unfortunately, she and I have very different parenting styles, some of which is values based and some is because of generational factors. I also don't have the standard "She raised me so she can take care of him" to fall back on because she really didn't raise me. I lived with my dad most of my life and that may be another reason why she and I are on such different pages as parents. (There is also always the controlling part of me that absolutely hates to relinquish care of my child to anyone else because, let's face it - no one will do the job like I do!)

In the past, I have left long instructions for how to take care of Ben - what he eats, what his schedule is, etc. which my mother has mocked and mostly disregarded. This time, I tried to leave a very general list of what his schedule was and what he would typically eat for dinner and left it at that. All the way up to the trip, I agonized. I worried about her not putting him to bed on time. I worried about her getting him up too early. I fretted that she would take him out to play without sunscreen. I agonized that she would give him something with peanuts in it ( a huge no no in my peanut-allergic son!). Or that she would let him watch television that was too mature for him. Or that he would learn some of her more "colorful" vocabulary just in time for preschool to start!

In spite of all this, I kissed my son goodbye and drove off with my husband for a "fun weekend". And guess what? It was fun! We got to the city, stayed in a fancy hotel, did some shopping, had a romantic dinner and saw a great show. We slept later this morning (though not much - old habits are tough to break) and had a delicious breakfast. Best of all, we got to talk to each other without interruptions or distractions which is always my favorite part of any date. We still came home early because we missed our tot and wanted to see him before his nap.

When we got home, I found that many of the things I worried about had happened. He had a diaper mishap that resulted in a VERY early wake-up, he had played outside without sunscreen (twice), he hadn't eaten a great dinner or breakfast. But, he was fine. He was in one piece. And, best of all, he had a GREAT time with his grandma. In fact, when we came in to the backyard, I didn't receive the warm welcoming hug I had been hoping for - he started to cry because he didn't want to have to go inside and stop playing with my mom! I was a little bummed to not have gotten a warmer reception but so relieved to see that he had a good time.

The thing is, my mom isn't perfect, but she does her best. She's my mom and I love her. She does many things differently than I would when it comes to Ben. But, she loves Ben and he loves her and the fact that they can play and have such a great time together is a better gift to me than the fancy theater tickets or expensive dinner.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: I can do it myself

Simple BPM

The tot's new favorite phrase - whether it's helping make his lunch, feeding himself, reading a book, or putting away his toys is "I do it myself!" On some level, this thrills me. His new independence, his desire to learn new things and try to do more on his own. Of course there is also a tiny piece of me that is sad and feels a little less useful every time I hear it. 

Today we had a day all by ourselves. It started early when the husband left for the airport at 5am (never a good thing). I tried to rock my son back to sleep and get another hour or two of shut eye but it never really happened. So we got up and started what felt like a daunting and long day. I made both our breakfasts and my coffee. We cleaned up, got changed, and went to the gym. We came home and I got a shower while we watched Elmo and then we both played on the bed for a bit. Ben "helped" me make his lunch and ate most of it without a fuss. We were both tired by that point so I read to and rocked the tot and then grabbed my own quick lunch and a few winks myself. After nap time, we played some more together, I put on a movie, made dinner, cleaned up and we did the bedtime schtick. 

I am not going to lie - it was a very long day even with a nap wedged in the middle. I was tired by the end and looking forward to the silence at the end of the day. But, we made it the whole day. There was minimal yelling and no time outs. No frantic calls to the husband because I was at the end of my rope (not even when the tot locked himself in his own room after nap and I had to struggle to free him). No tears behind a closed door because "I can't do this! I need a break!' and best of all, I was glad of every minute we got to spend together. I miss my husband when he's gone, but at no point did I feel like I needed help. I was the sole parent all day and evening and I did it all by myself! No wonder Ben is so happy when he says it - it's a great feeling. 

For more bigger picture moments click here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Ribbons and Bows

I was excited to have a girl for about an hour. That was about how long it took me to go to Target and buy some cute baby outfits. By the time I got home, panic was starting to seep in. Girls are different than boys. Suddenly it occurred to me that I have no clue what to do with a little girl.

I know nothing about girls. I am sure you are thinking "Hello? You ARE one!" and I am, but I am not a girly girl by any stretch. I was raised by my dad. I don't know a lot about make-up, I can't french braid, and the main feature I look for in clothes is something that covers my nakedness and washes well.

A perfect example - I was browsing gymboree buying baby clothes and trying to decide between tiny dresses when it suddenly dawned on me that she'd have nothing on underneath. Maybe not a huge deal in June but kind of a no-no for a brand new person in October. I couldn't think what she would wear under her dresses and then I remembered...tights. Ugh! I hated tights! Those itchy scratchy things you had to wear under your dresses. I struggled sometimes to wiggle Ben into pants. I can't imagine trying to squeeze a squirmy infant into those snug things. I have a feeling my girl isn't going to be wearing a ton of dresses!

I keep having to remind myself that I knew nothing about boys before the tot got here and even now he still surprises me with what he knows, what he likes, what he can do. I know that it will be the same with a girl on many levels. I worry about all that she will go through. The extra pressure placed on girls appearances, body image, the "mean girl" drama, the self-esteem struggles. As soon as I start thinking of it, I feel overwhelmed and under qualified.

When we found out we were having another baby, I was over confident because I had "done it all" before. And there is a part of me that feels calmer about the new baby stuff because I know that eventually she'll sleep, eventually she'll be a champion nurser, eventually she will be able to sit up, stand up, and walk. All of these milestones will be reached and passed. Because many of them are developmental and as humans, we instinctively grow and progress. It's the other milestones, the tougher battles that worry me. Those are the hurdles that keep me tossing and turning at night. Those are the ones that will weigh on my mind and stay in my prayers for the next 18 years.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finally!

Let it not be said that babies don't follow their own plans. At least not by me. Given that I have waited an additional 8 weeks to find out the gender of this baby! But finally, FINALLY, we know!

Saturday we went to have a 3-D sonogram done. Part of the draw for this to me was that there is this service that allows family from far away to watch the sonogram on the internet. It seemed like a good way to get the grandparents involved when they couldn't be there. Also, they encouraged me to bring the toddler which I had been warned against at the doctor's office (because of the cramped quarters and the darkness - little ones don't appear to enjoy or understand the experience). So in addition to finding out the gender of this baby, there were a lot of good reasons for trying this service.

But let me just say, if you've never had a 3-D sono done, they are a little odd. It's interesting to see the baby's movement, the details that you'd never be able to discern on a regular sonogram, to know things like this baby snuggles up on my placenta. But the actual images? Well, they were a little creepy to me. Still, the whole experience was worth it because within minutes of getting slathered up on the exam table, the tech asked "are you ready?" and pointed at some vague object in the vicinity of the baby's legs. She typed on the screen - "It's a girl!"

I was stunned. And tearful. I think I might have said "Ben, you have a sister!" to which he looked up at the screen for a brief moment and went back to playing with his cars. (It turns out my doctor's office is correct - toddlers have absolutely no interest in this process). As soon as our appointment wrapped up, we went to Target to buy odds and ends. And girl clothes. Not a lot but a few. Because they are pink! And little! And cute! Bring on the pink ribbons and bows!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 135)

1) We are succumbing to curiosity and taking the advice of Heavenly Sarah. Even though the 3-D ultrasound images freak the husband out, I scheduled an appointment for one. Hopefully we will find out tomorrow whether we should be buying pink or blue baby items!

2) Today we are going as a family to see Winnie the Pooh. Ben has been watching the classic every morning for weeks. I feel I can quote this verbatim. Which is not a bad skill to have - I am sure it could be a very entertaining trick to perform at parties. Fingers crossed that this theater trip goes as well as the Cars 2 trip did and we make it through the whole flick. (I, too, love all things Pooh and would be sad to have to leave in the middle because my toddler is disruptive).

3) Recently we joined a couples' bible study group at our church. The couples' are almost all folks we know and like who have kids around the same age as us. They have been reading this book called "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs. So, we downloaded our own copy and have been reading it simultaneously on our kindles. I want to tell you that this book is amazing and insightful, but really so far I have found it repetitive and a bit sexist at times. It has however led to some hilarious discussions with the husband along with constant joking every time one of us says something critical to the other along the lines of "You don't respect me! Don't you know that I need respect!" and "You don't need respect, you are the woman! You only need love!" Lest you think we are just jerks - the premise of the book is that men need to be respected by their wives and women need to be loved by their husbands. Leaving me to wonder why women don't also need to feel respected by their husbands? Perhaps he addresses that somewhere in the book?

4) I have been struggling with the toddler's nap again. He recently had a bout of tummy upset that led to many smelly and very messy diapers. He seems to be on the mend now, but for whatever reason - during this time of illness, his nap seems to be disregarded. By him, not me. I put him down as usual and come down stairs and listen to him chatter until I can't take it anymore and then I go back up and say "Go TO SLEEP NOW!" which causes him to cry and become traumatized and (as you can imagine) does not lead to any sleep happening. So every day he has slept minimally or not at all during nap. And every night he has gone to bed early. And laid there and chatted for an hour or so before talking himself to sleep.

5) Next week I am single parenting it again while the husband is away on business. Expect another very whiny post about how hard it is and how lonely I am. Just wanted to give you a heads up.

6) I am starting to panic about being a mother of two. It is likely this will turn into a whole blog post, but as of now, suffice it to say that I am feeling stressed at the idea of trying to divide my time between the needs of the newborn and the wants/desires of my toddler. I become highly anxious whenever I imagine (incredibly likely) scenarios where the newborn needs to sleep or eat or some other silly thing and Ben is begging me to play or read or something and I have to tell him "not now". I imagine his sad little face and trembling lip and feel a knot in my stomach. I hope I am over reacting to how horrible this will be. Someone with more than one offspring tell me I am, please!

7) Tomorrow is my first prenatal massage! I am nervous but excited. I have had back pain most mornings when I wake up because I inevitably flip over on my back sometime in the night and sleep that way which is murder on the hips. Wouldn't you know it - this morning I woke up and did NOT have a sore back? Whatever, I think the massage will still be good.

Have a great weekend, blogosphere friends!

For more quick takes, click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Push Comes to Shove

Do you ever have one of those days when your gut instinct says "stay home" but you ignore it completely and venture forth only to return like a dog with your tail between your legs? The tot got up at 5:30 this morning. He was laying in his bed chatting. This in itself is annoying but only made more so by the fact that he stayed awake talking to his stuffed friends for more than an hour last night.

Because of this recent desire to socialize with his bedfellows, I had recently procured a "bunny clock" from One Step Ahead. The clock is adorable and easy to use. It shows a lighted up "awake" bunny when it's time to get up and a tucked-in sleeping bunny when it's time to sleep. I have tried to stress to the tot - "When the bunny is sleeping, you need to be sleeping. You can NOT get up unless the bunny is awake." At first he seemed to buy this logic but he has recently discarded it and gone back to keeping his own schedule.

In any case, we had a play date scheduled for the Children's Museum in town this morning. Unfortunately, it was scheduled for lunch time and I was concerned that because of the early wake up, we would need to be home for an early nap. But, I went ahead and got ready for the gym as per usual and we made it to the gym and through our shower and wardrobe changes without incident. So, against my better judgement (and gut instinct - see above) I packed a lunch and piled us both in the car and off to the museum we went.

Ben was very excited and started running from exhibit to exhibit as soon as we arrived. However, it only took a few minutes before the lack of sleep started to show. Initially it was just his running away from me and refusing to listen when I called him over. Then he began to get whiny about having to wait for the elevator and wanting to do the exhibits on the next floor NOW. Finally, he ran over to a little boy playing in the train exhibit and pulled a train away from him. When I told him to give it back and find another, he ran off with it and threw it on the floor! It was very clearly the end of the line for the little guy, so I returned the train to the boy and scooped up my own tired toddler. He fussed and cried the whole way out the door but as soon as we hit the street, he put his head on my shoulder and rested.

Once we got to the car and started home, he was a tired little zombie and all I could think was how bad I felt for bringing him out in the first place when he was clearly exhausted and needed to be in the calm quiet of home. Of course, I had pushed it initially because I felt guilty about keeping him home and bored all week during this heat wave and wanted him to have fun. But I ended up feeling just as guilty for taking him out at all. Sometimes I think guilt is a requirement of motherhood. In any case, next time I won't look at the current display of model behavior, but the past experience of dealing with an over-tired toddler before making these decisions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Buffer

I am "single parenting" it again this week. Only for a few days, but it feels like a really long time. It's not that Ben is an especially hard child to deal with or that he acts more defiant or impulsive than your average two year old. It's more that I don't have the additional patience needed to fill the role of two parents. My husband isn't the main disciplinarian or the person who does the majority of the child rearing responsibilities - as the person who stays home each day, that would be my job. But he is very much my partner in all things and it's hard when he's away.

For one thing, Ben is hysterical. He says things that crack me up and I find myself wishing desperately that my co-parent was in the room to share the moment. Today he threw his Pooh Bear down the stairs and as Pooh tumbled end over end to the bottom, he said "Silly Old Bear!" just like Christopher Robin. It cracked me up. I also over heard him "playing" with the cats in the playroom. He kept grabbing toys and showing them to Ella and Hobbes - "Look, McQueen!" "Ella, it's Handy Manny!" (Ella was, of course, unimpressed by this display and Hobbes actually left the room which resulted in Ben saying "where did Mr. Hobbes go?" in an offended sort of way).

Obviously the funny stories are still things I can relay later when my spouse returns to the homestead. The thing I miss most when he is gone is the buffer. I feel like I have a very slippery grip on my temper by the end of the day. I never really thought before about how much I look forward to that break that comes around at 5pm when the "fun guy" comes home and can entertain Ben while I make dinner or mentally check out and read a book or a blog for 10 minutes. Without that extra person in the room, I am the main source for Ben's entertainment and also the one who is continually trying to coerce him into picking up his toys, coming to eat dinner, getting ready for bed, brushing his teeth, etc. None of which he wants to do willingly, of course.

More than once tonight I screamed at him to "knock it off" when he was trying my patience. Of course, the first time it happened, his little smiling face crumpled up into tears and I felt like the biggest, meanest ogre of a mama that ever roamed the planet. I immediately hugged him and apologized for raising my voice. I explained that I was very frustrated that he wasn't listening to me but that yelling at him was NOT okay and that I never want him to be afraid of me. And silently, I wished with all my heart that my husband had been home to give me a breather before I raised my voice and scared my child. It's not that I needed him to discipline Ben or even to address whatever issue I had been trying to resolve. It's more about having the other person in the room to feel supported. To distract the toddler from dumping out the bucket of toys I just put away. To coax him into climbing the stairs when it's bedtime. To sit with me in the silent house after the day is done and savor the quiet. I miss my buffer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bittersweet

Our nursery is empty. This weekend our tot made the leap from crib to big boy bed. We weren't going to mess with it for a few more weeks. We had just had house guests, everyone was a bit tired and we were worried that it would take a few days to get thing back on track before we could even think of starting another transition. But the room has been ready for awhile and it seemed like every weekend on the calendar has some reason or other to postpone things.

Finally, Friday night we just decided to go ahead and plunge forth, assuming that if it didn't work out we could always stick him back in his crib and try again in a few weeks. We talked extensively with him about sleeping in his new big boy room in his big bed. His dad stressed to him that the big boy bed was "not for jumping, not for playing, only for sleeping". Later, after I had read to him and we were rocking he told me "big boy bed not for jumping or playing, only sleeping!" so it must have made an impression on him in some way.

I won't lie - our bedtime routine on Friday night was L - O - N - G! I dawdled through the bath and pajama routine. We read two or three short books, took a while to say our prayers and then spent quite awhile just rocking in the chair. I was so anxious about putting him in the bed. I agonized over what I would do if he cried and fussed or got out and chased after me. But finally, I knew I was going to have to see what would happen, so (crossing my fingers) I placed him in the bed and tucked the covers in around him. He snuggled right down with his stuffed puppy dog and I told him goodnight and left. Then I stood in the hall for about 5 minutes listening to his chatter and wondering if he would get out of bed or not. He didn't seem to be so I went downstairs and watched some TV with the hubs.

The tot continued to chatter over the monitor for awhile (extended, I think, by the visit his father insisted on paying him "to make sure he was alright" which somehow resulted in his being rocked some more - sucker!) but eventually he simmered down and got quiet. When we went to bed, we poked our heads in to check and see if he was in the bed or on the floor or what, and he was all snuggled up under the covers, sound asleep.

So, thus passes another hurdle of parenthood. So far anyway. Naps have been a bit rockier but overall, he seems to have settled in fairly well. Our only hiccup has been that he wants to get up and play as soon as he wakes up and we have continued to try to stress to him that he he needs to stay in bed until it's time to get up (i.e. when mommy and daddy come and get you and NOT before sunrise!). I have to admit - as relieved as I was that this transition went so smoothly (because really, with all of our other issues with food, sleep, potty, etc weren't we due for an easy one?) much like Heavenly Sarah, I was also sad that our nursery is now empty. "Not for long" say my well-meaning friends and family members. And they are right. But it won't be a Baby Ben in there anymore. That part of our lives is over and it's hard not to feel a bit wistful remembering what it was like when he was tiny. But when he was small  he couldn't give me hugs, pick out his clothes, tell me about his day or have long conversations with his puppy dog. Motherhood always seems to be an exercise in bitter-sweetness.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: The Thing About House Guests

It's not that they eat all your food, rearrange your kitchen or leave your house messier than when they arrived. It's not that you spend so much time having fun that the whole family is completely wiped out when they leave. It's not the added stress of trying to work around other people's needs that you normally wouldn't even have to consider.

The worst part of hosting the in-laws is definitely the broken-hearted toddler who cries when they leave. Whether I feel like being hospitable or not, whether or not I am relieved to get back to our routines and schedules, he is devastated that Nana and Poppa are no longer here to play. And because my desire for his happiness always overshadows my own feelings - I find myself counting the days until they come back.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

North vs. South

I don't drink iced tea. I don't even like it. I don't expect someone to hold the door for me everywhere I go, and I never think to ask if anyone else would like anything when I get up to get a drink from the kitchen. In effect, I am not southern. Not even close. I am very much a city girl from the Midwest. As such, my communication style tends to be assertive, even to the point of aggressive at times, and a bad word or two may slip into a heated conversation. (Hopefully when the tot is not within earshot.) On the flip side, my husband is southern. He is Georgia born and raised. His family is always polite and welcoming to guests, whether they feel like it or not. They drink tea with every meal. And it's not gossip, it's "sharing facts" about someone. As for communication - it's always polite, mostly surface level, and rarely if ever straightforward.

Of course, I realize this may have more to do with his family's culture than that of the South, but there is definitely a stark contrast between the way our two families operate. When my parents get on my nerves, I tell them. Usually in an offensive way. We have plenty of conflict in our family, but we tend to have it out and get over it. There is plenty of conflict in the husband's family as well, but it's never addressed and tends to fester. My mother-in-law is still telling me years later about the offensive thing my sister-in-law said to her "that one time". So, it's just a different environment all together. Don't get me wrong, I love my in-laws. They are kind, they are generous, they love me for no other reason except that I am married to their son. But when conflicts occur, I am clueless how to address them.

I bring this up because as you may recall from yesterday's post, they are supposed to be visiting on Saturday. But yesterday, my husband gets an email from his dad that they are coming on Friday. No explanation as to why they are coming a day early or even an acknowledgement of the inconvenience that might cause their hosts. My first response was "Tell them no, they can't come until Saturday" which was (of course) met with incredulity and "I can't do that!". It's not that I don't want them to visit, it's that I want them to realize and acknowledge that changing their plans lackadaisically is inconsiderate and inconvenient. However, my husband is insistent that they will not recognize having changed plans and will insist that they said Friday and he just misunderstood them. Because his listening skills are also suspect, this is a definite possibility.

In either case, it leaves me with one less day to clean and an ridiculous amount of anxiety about their visit this October. You see, they are coming to help with the new baby and, more importantly, to care for the tot while we are recuperating. Because, unlike my family, his family is quick to jump in and help even when it means a 15 hour drive each way and rearranging their own routines and lives to make it happen. (There are a lot of great things about Southern hospitality.) I am a planner and though I am not thrilled about having another c-section, the idea of being able to plan my child's birth and know exactly when I need child care is a dream come true. So, the thought that we might be expecting them to come on a specific day and stay for two weeks and they may come three days early and leave a week before we are expecting them to, keeps me awake at night. My husband has offered to address this with them but (as I stated) he was raised in the South and has the same discomfort with conflict that the rest of his family has. So, in effect, it falls on me to use my Northern communication style and explain in the nicest way possible that I need them to commit to an arrival and a departure date and STICK to it. I am hopeful for a brief, positive discussion about how we just need to have secure plans because of all that is involved with childbirth and toddler care. I plan to even be funny about how I won't be able to take the tot to school that week because driving on painkillers with a gash in your middle is not recommended so I really want to make sure they will be there. I am then going to pull out the calendar and write down the dates they agree to - in front of them- so they can see that this is the plan and they cannot change it without telling us in advance. My hope is that this will all flow nicely, we will have a good laugh and they will, of course, agree to being more consistent in the future. My expectation is that even if this happens - this will be one of those incidents that my mother-in-law will complain to my sister-in-law about for years to come. Such is Southern living.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peek - a - boo!

I haven't been hiding, I swear. These last couple of weeks have been pretty crazy. I spent last week in panda ears every day teaching preschoolers about God's love. It was incredibly fun and very exhausting! I would finish about noon every day and then grab the tot from the nursery, race home, feed him lunch and get him down for a nap. Then while he napped, I used my "free" time to eat my lunch, straighten the house, and prep for the next day's lesson. I was glad to do it but also glad when it was over. I haven't committed yet for next year because of our new edition this Fall. I want to play it by ear and see how easily he or she gets on to a schedule first.

This week has been chock full of crazy. I have every day planned out on my calendar and I have to say - in spite of my valiant attempts to plan ahead, nothing so far has gone as planned. My hair appointment didn't happen last night due to a scheduling error on the part of my stylist. She was very apologetic but it didn't change the fact that I still need my hair done and she isn't available for another two weeks. So I had to schedule an appointment at a new place (which is anxiety inducing to say the least). Yesterday, I got a call from my friend who's father was very ill and she needed me to keep her son for the night. This wouldn't normally be a big deal except for this being the week before my in-laws arrive and my strong desire to make my house look like I clean it once in a while. Also, Ben's last swim lesson was today. So my initial response was something like "I'd love to but..." but then she offered to get a sitter for Ben's lesson so I really couldn't say no. So we had two toddlers to care for last night and all of this morning. I had to then get them both fed and dressed and bring the other little guy home to his baby sitter before rushing off to swimming with my own little guy. While at the pool, I got a call from the man who is supposed to come and check our roof that he could meet me in half an hour. So, rather than shower and change the tot (as I normally would), I wrapped a towel around him, tossed him straight into the car and zipped home to meet the contractor.

Additionally, I have an OB appt. today which the hubs completely forgot about. So I was texting sitters at 9:30 last night. Praise the Lord that one was available. That also means that I had to get Ben washed, changed, and down for his nap in time for myself to eat and clean up the hurricane that the two toddlers had left behind this morning. Now I am trying to squeeze in five minutes of blogging before she shows up and I have to zip off to the doctor.

People say "Men plan, God laughs". I don't know if that's really true, I doubt God is that vindictive. But, if it is, he must be having quite a chuckle at me this week!! And THAT's why I haven't been blogging. But I miss my blog and I hope for things to simmer down by the end of the week so I can get back to posting exciting news like Ben's first movie experience this past week and our trials with swimming lessons. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Those People

The last couple of weeks have been crazy busy. Our basement project is almost finished! The carpet folks come today and we have a guy coming today or tomorrow to finish hanging the doors. Next up, the plumber will be installing the fixtures and we are all set!

You would expect now that the project is at it's end, I would have something profound to say about it like "Gosh, it sure was tough at times, but I am so proud of us for getting it all done." Well, I did learn from this project, but not like I'd have thought. You know those people who hire painters and cleaners and landscapers? The ones who would rather not do it themselves but prefer to pay a professional to handle the job? Well, we are those people. I would much rather pay someone to do the job that they are experienced doing, that they know how to do, rather than try to figure it out and go through hours of frustration and aggravation myself.

Both my father and my father-in-law have the motto "why pay someone money when you can do it yourself" and that's all well and good if you are a handy person but we really are not those people. My motto is "why do a crap job yourself when you can pay someone to do quality work?" My husband initially wanted to be the next Bob Villa, but after sweating through framing, insulation, painting and tiling the bathroom, I think he agrees he should stick to stuff he is good at and enjoys doing. We have both agreed that while we are very glad to have our basement finished, our next home will come with a basement already done.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Make New Friends...

It was a rough weekend. I am not at all sure how I feel about it, so maybe I shouldn't even be blogging about it, but whatever. I had some friends in town to visit for a "girls weekend". I have known these ladies for almost 9 years and even though we have lived far apart, we have kept in touch through regular (sometimes daily, even several times a day) emails.

Unfortunately, as there are three of us, sometimes the dynamics can be a little unbalanced when we are together. In the past, we have had great times and long chats but occasionally one of us feels left out. Recently, though, I have found more and more that I am the one on the outside looking in. I have no good explanation for this. It might just be my own sensitivity, but there are times that I have felt that the good natured teasing gets out of hand. This weekend was one of those times where it felt that it started on Friday night and didn't really let up until they left on Sunday. Add to that a few combative disagreements and sharp words over minor issues and it led to a very stressful weekend.

If I am being honest, I was glad to see them go. I ended up feeling that I was in a defensive position most of the weekend and it wore me out. I just felt rubbed raw by the end of it and wished that it had gone differently or not at all. I am sad about that. These women are/were a major part of my life and support system. But it left me questioning whether the hurt feelings and stress were worth the positive aspects of our friendship. I am sad to say, I still don't know the answer.

I suppose every friendship goes through ups and downs much like every relationship. It's possible that this is just one of those times. But it also left me wondering about my friendships with women and where they rank in importance in my life. Is it possible to outgrow someone as a friend? Is it unrealistic to expect to have a best girlfriend at this stage of my life when I am a busy wife and a mother of (almost) two? Many of my friendships with other women here in town are not as close as with these two, but are mostly positive interactions. I don't have anyone here besides my husband that I feel I could tell anything to, but I wonder if that's actually normal for this day and age. I enjoy the social interactions that I have and I rarely have a negative experience that makes me feel like I did this weekend. My husband has theorized that it's the stage of life that I am at - these two close friends are both in committed relationships but neither have children. He has suggested that my focus has shifted over the last few years which may make it harder for us to relate to each other as friends. I wonder if he is right on some level, but then I remind myself of the friends I have who are also not mothers and it doesn't appear to have had much impact.

This morning I received an email from one of the girls that I had an argument with over the weekend. She apologized for her reaction and explained her feelings had been hurt. I felt guilty as I hadn't meant to hurt feelings, but had also been feeling very defensive already by that point. I also greatly appreciated the email as it was expedient and very kind of her to think of me. It made me feel a little better about the negative situations this weekend as I still feel that she values my feelings whereas I was definitely doubtful about that last night.

The question for me now is "when is enough enough?" How do you know when a friendship has become unhealthy? And if you do decide that - then what? Do you try to change it? Or throw in the towel? The other factor that weighs on me (for better or worse) is that my son is getting older and more observant. I don't want him to think that picking on your friends is an okay way to behave. Or that getting your feelings hurt repeatedly is acceptable and tolerable. This realization that I am a model for him in most aspects of his life adds a whole other uncomfortable dimension to the situation because I obviously am forced in to action in a situation where I might normally be more comfortable just ignoring it and hoping it gets better on it's own. The question I keep coming back to is - what action? What is appropriate in this case? Is it an email explaining my hurt feelings? Is it diminishing or ending contact with these friends? I wish I had an answer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stinker

It was a long appointment. We got to see the arms, the spine, the heart, the head. We saw feet and some internal organs. What we did not see were any private parts! The baby was breech and backwards and refused to turn around to show us the goods. So, alas, the wondering and guessing will continue for another 2 months. I am now even more convinced it must be a girl, why else be so obstinate?

Pink or Blue....

Today's the day. Assuming our little peanut isn't too shy for the camera, today we will learn if our tot gets a brother or a sister this fall. Everyone has a guess. I posted an inquiry on facebook and the comments are divided right down the middle - 50/50! When I ask Ben, he says he wants a brother (not that I think he has any idea what that will mean to him). My husband swears it's a girl.

Everyone wants to know what I think. I feel like it's a girl. Mostly because this pregnancy has been completely different from my last one. I have had every pregnancy symptom ever invented. I went from nausea and exhaustion to heartburn, back aches and sciatic nerve pain. I even have a linea nigra line on my tummy! (It's probably odd to be excited about that but I really am. I think I might even take a picture of it!)

I think there are pros and cons to either one. If we have a girl, it will be new and different. Something we have yet to experience as parents, as a family. There will be pink things to shop for and dresses to buy. If we have a boy, we are already prepared for many of the things little boys bring. We have a lot of the clothes and toys a boy would need. We even already have a couple of boy names we are kicking around. Best of all, Ben will have a playmate, a counter part. Someone he can play in the rocks with and chase around the yard. Though, I suppose, a girl will probably do those things too.

Either way, we are blessed. Either way we have a new little person to love. Either way, our family is bigger, better, more complete.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Good Dad

It was the first truly hot day of the season last week, more than ninety degrees outside (of course, next week it will be back in the sixties. Gotta love the midwest!). My poor tot had been trapped in the house for so many days due to illness and cooler weather, I just had to let him out to play. We pulled out some swim trunks, sunscreen and the sprinkler.



He had a great time running and splashing in the water. He brought his cars outside for a "bath" and made a game of tossing them by the sprinkler and then running in to the spray to "rescue" them. Every so often he would run over to me, dripping wet with some request or other and I (not wearing swim apparel) did my best to keep him at arms length to avoid getting soaked secondarily.



Eventually, my husband came home and dinner needed to be started. So, he fired up the grill and I proceeded inside to husk the corn. My husband was still in his work clothes and was keeping an eye on Ben while trying hard to avoid a lot of drippy contact with our sprinkler kid.



At some point, Ben decided he needed more toys to play with and came to the door to get them. Of course, he has been repeatedly warned to stay off the cement stoop and not to play with the door, but naturally he forgets that within moments of hearing it. So he was climbing the stairs to pull open the door and he slipped and fell on the concrete stairs. He fell "tummy first" so no head injury or major damage, but it scared him and he started to wail. I was still in the kitchen and ran for the door just in time to see my husband drop what he was doing and scoop up our soaking wet son in his arms.



I don't know why but I felt overcome with emotion. Knowing my husband the way I do, knowing his strong preference for staying clean, for having things in order. And seeing his instinct to be there for Ben and to comfort him when he needed it most, no matter what the circumstance. I couldn't think of anything to say other than "you are such a good dad."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A healthy dose of perspective

Help4Joplin

This weekend was rough. The stress of trying to accomplish so many projects before the baby arrives on limited funds and with limited time is finally starting to wear on us a bit. The husband and I sat down on Sunday evening and had one of those frustrating discussions about where to cut expenses and how to save on Ben's new bedroom furniture. In the end, I just ended up more frustrated and annoyed as none of the solutions we came up with felt satisfactory. I went to bed that night and prayed that we would get some perspective and be able to prioritize our needs over our wants.

The next morning, I learned that while we had been arguing over toddler furniture and which carpet to put in the basement,  four hundred miles away my friend's town was being decimated by a tornado. While we were debating between ordering from fancy Pottery Barn or the more reasonable Target, others were losing their homes, their possessions, their lives. Suddenly I feel very foolish. My prayers feel silly and selfish.

I am relieved that Sarah and her family are okay. I am grateful to know that they all made it through the storm in one piece. However, I have seen the pictures. Sarah has blogged about the devastating loss. It is heart breaking.

To help Joplin recover and rebuild, Bigger Picture blogs will be hosting an auction on their site beginning at 8am on Wednesday, May 25th through Friday, May 27th. Here is the link. They will have a variety of cool products donated from all of these different places:

A Soft Landing
Jamie Shaw

Please go and check it out. The proceeds from the auction go to the Salvation Army to help aid the relief effort in Joplin. (It's a much more important thing to spend money on than a toddler bed from Pottery Barn.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

We are done with all of our regularly scheduled programming for the Summer and yet still I find that we are scheduled non-stop. Between play dates with our meet up group and other friends and catching up on lunches and other fun things that we couldn't do sooner because we had to run off to Kindermusik or swim lessons, we still find our calendar covered in plans. Which sounds stressful but actually is great fun. And serves the purpose of keeping me busy so I have very little time to obsess about our sonogram which is in one week! (However, this does not prevent nosy grandparents from asking about it in every interaction - "Do you know the gender yet? What do you think it is?" so the actual appointment is never really very far from mind).

We are also trying to get the basement finished so that the guest room can relocate and then the current guest room can be re-purposed to be the tot's new "Big Boy" room. This of course adds an additional level of complication to making plans and trying to accomplish important things like blogging seeing as how my usual time to blog is during Ben's nap and he hasn't been getting one on days that there are contractors banging around in the basement. This also eliminates my own little piece of downtime and causes things like mopping the floors to continue to go undone.

So needless to say, we need these activities to keep us busy, shift our focus, and keep us out of the noisy house. But I will surely be glad when things have calmed a bit and we can make it back to some semblance of a routine that includes nap times and a clean, quiet house.