Sunday, May 12, 2013

Not Another Christmas Letter

I am a competent mother...I am a competent mother...I am a competent mother.

If I repeat this enough times, my wish will come true.

The last eighteen months were rough. The never ending pregnancy. Three heartbroken endings. Finally, a perfect child to hold in my arms. And he was beautiful, sweet and perfect, I couldn't have asked for more.


Enter a whopping case of postpartum depression. A husband who works a lot and travels a lot for work. Here is newly outnumbered me, not coping well, starting a lot of conversations with my husband with "I know this is hormones and completely unreasonable, but I need you to humor me..." He is really an amazing man.

By the time I was coming out of it, winter was setting in, bringing with it Gus's winter psychosis. I can truly appreciate just how bad his cabin fever is now that he's outside for 8+ hours a day and is a mostly happy, well-adjusted three year old who sleeps and eats and plays.

I told myself I would write Christmas letters once we had children and had something to talk about other than our boring grown-up lives. Yet at Christmas time, I was too ashamed at having spent most of the year in the dumps emotionally. My children are great! bright! beautiful! it's me who can't get a grip...

Then at some point, everything just clicked. I could handle it. I'm spending lots of quality time with the boys. They are friendly and well adjusted. My marriage is doing well. We've finally settled in and formed relationships with people up here. My house still is never clean for a week solid, but the laundry and dishes are caught up. I haven't forgotten an appointment in six months. I feel this qualifies me for super-mom status.

I even made cookies twice in the last couple weeks.

So, God, where's our next baby?

We dreamed of a large family, but here we are 29 and 30. Two kids. Teddy is 14 months. When can I have another baby? I'm doing a good job now!

Now obviously I know that I'm not going to prove to God that I deserve another baby by keeping my house clean. Here comes the part where we have to live what we believe. We said we would trust him to give us the children he wanted us to have. I'm realizing now that not only does that mean the number of children, but accepting that he might want them further apart than I do. Not rushing his timing for our family.

While I was busy wrapping my head (and heart) around that little nugget I realized that Teddy is a gift from the same God that is not giving me another baby right now. Maybe Teddy needs me more that I realize. Maybe he needs to be my 'baby' for a little while longer. Maybe Gus needs his mommy not wrung out from another difficult pregnancy. It's obvious that both of them are thriving with the attention they've been getting lately. Maybe those three miscarriages were because my body needed more space between pregnancies. Maybe God is protecting me from that heartache again.

I have had a very hard time letting go of the image I had of our family of lots of children one after the other. (Also, I never pictured blond-haired, blue-eyed babies.) It's been a very slow process learning to trust God in all things, not just children, everything. The children have just always been the thing about our family closest to my heart, and having the control issues that I do, the hardest to leave to someone else's plan.

Around Mother's Day (and, I suppose, the rest of the year) I always drive myself crazy with second guessing myself and hyper-analyzing everything I'm doing right or wrong with my children. This time I think I'll just say, "Thank you God, for my wonderful little family, for these little boys, for their love and their hugs, for their sturdy little bodies. Thank you for the relationship they have with each other and with us. Thank you for their health. Thank you for trusting us with their souls. Thank you for giving me such a fine father, provider, partner and friend as my spouse. Thank you for this new peace that I've found with my life just the way it is."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Conversations About God: Part One

Rocking with Gus: always a bewildering experience.

Gus: "There ghosts."
Me: "There are? Where?"
Gus: "Ober there. In the dark. They scary."
Me: "Ghosts aren't scary." (absently, not really paying attention)
Gus: "Ghosts scary. I scared."
Me: (oh. hmmm) "You know what to do when you see a ghost?"
Gus: "Uh-huh."
Me: "You look it in the eye and say 'In Jesus name, go away!' Here you try it!"
Me: "Did it work?"
Gus: "Yeah, ghost gone."
Me: "Do you know why that works? Jesus's name is very powerful because Jesus is the Son of God. Whenever you need him, you can call him and he will be right there with you, even if mommy and daddy aren't. Jesus watches over you and takes care of you."
Gus: "Jeemus jump?"
Me: (huh?) "Does Jesus jump? I suppose he can."
Gus: "Yep, Jeemus jump high! And slide!"
Me: "I suppose he could slide if he wanted to."
Gus: "Yep, he slide down the big, big slide! Jeemus like ice cream?"
Me: "I would imagine that he does."
Gus: "Mommy, I like ice cream."
Me: "Me too baby, me too..."

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Love Means Yellow

We have some fun conversations while we are rocking at bedtime. Sometimes, if I'm really lucky, I just get to listen to how his little mind works.

Me: Gus, I love you
Gus: Momma, love you!
Me: Do you know what the word love means?
Gus: Yes! No!
Me: It means that you care so much about someone else that you try to do as much as you can to make them happy.
Gus: Yeah! Love! Yellow! Big bird, momma. See his head? (Big Bird was rocking with us) Oh! That's daddy! Daddy drink pop! Daddy cooking?
Me: No, daddy's getting kitty his medicine.
Gus: Daddy feed kitty now mommy, oh! there water! Daddy play in water! Feed kitty and play in water daddy, good daddy (I find it fascinating that the kid can narrate daddy's movements downstairs when he 'can't hear me' say his name in the same room). Hans nigh-night momma? All friends nigh-night? Trains nigh-night? Need eat? no...Speecee (Spencer) in mud momma, Hiro helper! Hey momma?
Me: What baby?
Gus: Love you momma. Night!
Me: I love you too baby.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Humiliated? Or Humbled?

"They are so darling!"

Checkout ladies love my boys. 

I HATE that by the time we reach the checkout, it's all I can do to grit my teeth and growl "Thank you," and listen to the cashier and patrons behind me in line coo to Teddy. "Oh you were an unhappy boy weren't you! I could hear you two aisles over! There, there now, dry those tears, aww, there's a smile! You're a happy baby aren't you!" And to Gus (as he adoringly strokes the top of Teddy's head and helpfully loads the conveyor belt): "What a good helper you are! Are you a good big brother? So handsome!" And to me: "Oh I remember these years. This is such a great age, cherish every minute, they grow so fast. You have some really great kids, you know."

Rewind a few aisles...Gus is throwing stuff out of the cart. I tell him no. He smashes chips or bread to let me know he disagrees with me. I tell him to stop and move yet another item to the overflowing bottom of the cart. Helpful patrons point out the stuff falling off the cart as I trundle down the aisles at warp speed. To express displeasure at being thwarted Gus reaches over the top of the baby seat and pokes Teddy's eyes (or hits him on the head, or pulls his arm, or something else guaranteed to provoke screams from the baby and wrath from mom). I give the whole if you want to ever want to eat ever again spiel...he may or may not get disciplined...usually I have to abort the shopping trip and leave immediately. When we get to the checkout, Gus is pretending he can behave for more than 12 minutes at a stretch if only I'll reconsider and not make us leave because he LOVES grocery shopping and it's SO MUCH FUN!! ("Store! Not bye-bye! Fun! Store! NO GO HOME!!! MY fun store! I be nice! Puh-LEEEEASE!")

And now, we get to go grocery shopping AGAIN in two days because I didn't get everything we needed.

That night, while rocking Gus for the second time because, "Need more rock, more hold, mommy PLEEEASE!" he begs to pray again. 

"What do you want to tell Jesus?"
"Tell Jesus I sorry."
"What are you sorry for baby?"
"For poke Teddy's eyes and make him owwies."


So this is me.

Cherishing every minute. Crying. Laughing. Rocking as many times as he wants it because he's rapidly outgrowing my lap. Leading him through repenting the first time. Repenting myself for not showing the same patience with him that God has shown to me time after time. Awed that our two-year-old desires to "Not make Jesus sad." Rejoicing over one less time-out a day. Thankful for the many, many opportunities to teach him how to behave in grocery stores.

They are pretty great kids you know...

Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. -Matt 18.4

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Come Join the Pity Party

It's just one of those weeks. The kind you have to write about or you'll cry... One of those weeks that even though you manage to take a shower every night, you still smell like you haven't bathed in a week by 10.30 a.m. The kind of week where every time you put the baby down he screams like he's covered in fire ants. The kind of week where your kitchen floor smells like baby vomit and oranges. One of those weeks where your husband brings home his ear plugs from work.

What is this? Teething? Even medicated, he's completely miserable. And then I looked in his mouth and it's completely white. Thrush? That's not an emergency. So I'll wait till tomorrow to get him looked at. So 14 more hours of dealing with a squalling 12 lb. bundle solo. The other boy is covered in a "heat rash" (says the allergist) that gets worse every day. Heat rash? It's been anywhere from cold to downright beautiful here. Is that worth a doctor visit?

Where is this stuff in the parenting books?

My industrious two year old has taken advantage of my somewhat distracted state to teach himself advanced climbing, beginner lock-picking with a twist-tie and fastball pitching with oranges and tomatoes.

At least one of us is having a productive day.

I need a high five. Or an expresso. Or a massage.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just 'Happy Mother'

So much has happened this year, but these two pictures sum up the best of what has happened to me between last Mother's Day and this one:

My first-born brought me my first mangled dandelion. I've been trying to think of a clever title for it. "Mangled Love" or "The Thought That Counted" or "Sob, Sniffle, Choke." Or how about just what he said when he handed it to me... 

"Here Mommy, I Bing You Frower!"

What a smart, calm, fascinating child Gus is turning into! I love that he genuinely seems to delight in my company (most of the time). What a joy this little person is that God sent to me to teach and mold.

The second wonderful thing that happened to me this year:

A long awaited child. Our answer to prayer. Our sweet, snuggly, charming, happy little boy.

My heart is full.

I am so blessed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Outnumbered Party of One

Depending on the age of your kids, this post will make you laugh, cry or be very very glad your kids or grown. Or you will think that I am extremely disorganized which means that 1)You are correct 2)You are a better person than I am 3)I'm not having the type of week that I can be happy that you have it all together so I don't want to hear about it. 4)I'm still new at this being outnumbered thing and the only way I'm not losing it is by telling myself that it (and I) will get better in time (like when the last one leaves for college...)

Some mornings make me want to cry...or nap...or never EVER leave the house ever again.

Here is an example of what might happen on any given morning that we have to leave the house early in the morning (before say...10 am).

Probably somewhere around 530 or 600: Teddy wakes up and wants to nurse. He is too tired to do an effective job, so he keeps falling asleep, and waking back up outraged and 'starving.' By the time he is actually done eating, it's 30 minutes before I have to get up and I'm so stressed about getting every possible minute of sleep I can't fall asleep until 5 minutes before the alarm goes off.

Alarm goes off. For a more concrete example, we'll say 700. I get up trying very hard to not wake the baby sleeping on my arm. I get dressed very quickly, use the toilet and sink two floors down so I don't wake the kids before I get a chance to get coffee made. The flush of the toilet wakes Gus. C'MON! I hear his door slam. I race up two flights of stairs to head him off. Too late! He jumps into my bed with the baby. "Hi baby!! Mommy look! Baby is awake!!" He gives him a germ laden kiss and a pat on the head then runs downstairs yelling "EAT-EAT!" Now the baby is screaming, but if I don't follow Gus immediately, half my fridge will be on the kitchen floor by the time I calm the baby and Gus will have picked out breakfast, whether that's strawberries and yogurt, or pickles, or raw eggs (apparently, eggs are "ucky" when eaten raw with shells on...). Why don't we lock the fridge? Well, that would require remembering to do so before bed...and knowing where the lock is at any given time.

I get Gus settled with an appropriate breakfast, dress the baby, nurse the baby, clean Gus up and get him dressed shoes and all which will hopefully stay on. It's probably somewhere around 740 by the time all this is done. My coffee is cold and untouched. I have not eaten. I give Gus a coloring book or other task that were I not trying to go somewhere would keep him occupied for an hour and put the baby in the bouncer. I start packing a diaper bag. I'm interrupted about 6 times by requests for food, Gus messing with the baby, Gus messing with the cats, random tantrums, wanton stuff scattering just to make me crazy, or going to the bathroom to eat toothpaste or "warsh hands" (and face and hair and shirt and floor). I'm trying so hard not to plop him in front of the TV all the time, partially because he becomes a miniature zombie, but also because if we have to leave before he's done with his "show," it will be a screaming, physical wrestling match to get him in the car. I digress...

I lose my sense of humor about the delays and strap both kids into car seats so I can finish packing. It's probably 830 by now and I'm still hungry and caffeine deprived...and LATE!

I do a once through the house. Do a cat head count. Double check that I have spare clothes for both kids and plenty of diapers. Make sure I have Blanket and Paci and 'Warter' (that's water for those of you whose toddlers don't have southern accents). Grab a granola bar and a Pepsi for me. Turn the car on. Remember that I forgot to give the cat his medicine which reminds me that I forgot Teddy's medicine...and oh, yeah there's a load of laundry in the washer that will be mildewed if I don't switch it before I leave but there are clothes in the dryer, where's a laundry basket to put these in!

 Run back in two or three more times to get so-and-so's casserole dish or that shirt they left over here the last time they were here or the paperwork for the doctor's visit.

Leave. Maybe make it out of the neighborhood or even to the toll road before I remember what else I forgot. Decide if it's worth going back for. Look in the rear view mirror. That's right, I was interrupted getting dressed. I forgot to comb my hair. AGAIN.

This last part usually has pieces that get missed. For example Thursday when I went to Michigan for the day (I was gone about 15 hours) I came home to find 5 trains in the toilet upstairs, the water in the downstairs sink running full blast, the cats completely out of food not that it would have mattered because one had been locked in the office and one was in the garage because SOMEONE opened the garage door into the laundry room. Once last week Gus went with no pants while his dried in the dryer because he soaked through his diaper and I didn't bring a spare. On a different day he went without a shirt while I hand washed it because an aunt spoiled him with chocolate...while a white shirt. (Chocolate is horrible to get out once it's set). Gus had to wear one of Teddy's diapers when I forgot to bring enough of his. If I forget the blanket or paci and we are going to be out of the house for naptime...oh man...

I feel that I am really at a disadvantage here because the same kids that make getting out the door so hard also stole pieces of my brain in utero. I pretty sure at my pre-children intelligence level I could have handled getting in a car and leaving even with two midgets in tow with a lot more efficiency (or more importantly, dignity).

I caught myself daydreaming on the drive to Michigan. In my fantasy world my morning looks like this.

My alarm goes off, I get dressed, grab my coffee and have a bowl of cereal that is NOT soggy from sitting for an hour while I'm constantly interrupted. I grab my keys, my phone and my purse (which has NOT unpacked itself while my back was turned and distributed it's contents to different parts of the house).

Then I LEAVE. Period.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Move Over Brother

We brought it on ourselves really...

Since before Teddy was born we have been promoting what an amazing helpful big brother Gus was. We may have to scale that back a bit...

"How nice of you to give brother gentle kisses."
"Thank you for bringing mommy brother's diapers! What a good helper you are!"
"Oh, that's so nice of you to give brother his paci when he's sad."

We were trying to avoid Gus getting jealous of the massive amounts of time and attention the baby would inevitably require, especially at first. We were completely successful. Other that getting mildly annoyed when Teddy nurses for more than 30 minutes ("Baby done eat-eat, no more milk, all done"), he seems to absolutely adore his little brother. Considering what a rough and tumble little boy he is, Rob and I are very relieved that he doesn't seem inclined to hurt him out of malice.

Gus tries very hard to help whenever Teddy cries. He would first find me and announce that "Teddy sad!" I would reply that I could hear that and thank him for telling me. Then he would offer me suggestions for fixing the situation. 

"Baby shooeys?" 
"Baby need milk?"
"Baby need paci?"

...Until this week. Apparently proud of what a great big brother/helper he is, he decided to help even when Teddy wasn't crying. Rob and I are a little worried (read: terrified) that he is going to love Teddy to death (or a broken arm). "Brother need eat-eat!" Or at least that was the explanation I got for why he fed the baby a peanut. Every morning this week he has woken the baby up with the comment "Need brush hairs in morning! Make brother look nice!" And then there was the heart-stopping few seconds it took me to cross the room when the baby started crying on the couch and Gus tried to pick him up to hand to his arm.

Yesterday I had laid the baby down for his nap in a little Moses basket sitting next to the couch. What this picture doesn't tell you is that the baby was sleeping just fine on his own. Gus climbed off the couch, shoved the baby to the edge of the basket, said "Move over brother," climbed in with him (waking the baby), put his arm around the baby, informed me that "I help brother sleep. Need go night-night"

Oddly enough, the baby nuzzled up to him and went right back to sleep. What a good big brother he is!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mr. Mom

How 'bout something different? 

This week was horrible. Rob was out of town for a budget meeting in Missouri leaving me home alone with two sick kids all week. I've barely learned to juggle two kids when they are healthy. Two sick kids? No one can help because we are highly contagious? I'm sure it's not that big of a surprise that Rob came home to an exhausted wife who hadn't showered in three days and two screaming kids. Welcome home honey! Yes we all stink, yes we missed you, oh, and I'm pretty sure there's leftover meatloaf in the fridge-help yourself! What? I can't hear was my week? Seriously?

Thursday night my phone disappeared. I found it Friday morning, checked my messages and discovered that we had dentist appointments that morning. We had already missed Rob's but I could make mine if I left immediately. Rob yelled "Just go, I got this!" I threw on clothes and left. I went to the dentist and then took the opportunity to go to the grocery store (I haven't been to the grocery store for more than milk and eggs since the baby was born). 

I wasn't even gone two hours.

I walked in the door to two screaming kids and an exhausted husband draped in stinky burpy cloths. He expressed wonder at the amount of poop an eight pound baby could produce and seemed annoyed with Gus's new charming habit of only needing things when the baby needs attending to. After professing my sainthood and apologizing in advance for having to leave me part of next week he politely asked me to wipe the grin off my face or at least stop giggling where he could hear me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Six Ounces

A year ago today, we had the second of three miscarriages. It was harder than the other two because we were 16 weeks along, had shared the news with more people, were a week from the "big" ultrasound. We were out of the first trimester, miscarriage shouldn't have been a concern. Then there was no heartbeat and worse, the baby was big enough that a home delivery was more than I could handle emotionally. Going through labor to deliver a dead child with Rob three hours away, home alone with Gus...I was pretty sure I would have crawled so far into a bottle it would have taken a while to dislodge me. I wasn't willing to test my weak faith in God's tender mercies to that extent. Instead we had him in a hospital and Rob was able to be there with me.

We named him Leo and he was perfect. So tiny. Six ounces. Ten fingers. Ten toes.

God was so, so good to us. I have no idea how we made it through that and the next miscarriage without ever blaming God or asking why. Somehow it seemed so foolish to question the plans of the one who made everything. He worked in my heart all through my pregnancy with Teddy, taking away the fear, helping me to rejoice in the life growing in me. He is helping me sort through the emotions and guilt for loving Teddy whom I never could have had if Leo hadn't died.

Today was a very bad day. Today it feels like I was punched in the throat. Today I can feel an empty place in my belly. But today, I also looked at our two children and I am so very thankful that I will get to hold them tonight as they fall asleep. Thank you Lord for letting me have these. I don't know why you needed them so badly, but take good care of my babies for me.

Happy Birthday Leo. Your mommy and daddy miss you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mothering a Giant

My son is huge. Physically, his so far past his age in development, motor skills, and overall physical achievements it sometimes a little gut wrenching. In some ways, this is nice. I almost never have to carry him anywhere, he helps himself to a good deal of food, he can climb to reach anything he wants. In other ways, it is very, very bad. He can climb to reach almost anything he wants and he outgrows his clothes every two months or so. Unfortunately (or fortunately) his mental abilities seem to have not kept pace with his physical development. While he may look like a three year old, he is very much a nineteen month old. He has no long term memory for what "makes ouchies," his vocabulary consists of "No!" "Mamamamama!" and "I need!" only deigning to use other words if he feels like being charming. Our wonderful child that preferred to be put to bed awake, now cannot be rocked to sleep. Having freed himself from the bondage of the crib, the hours of 9 P.M. to midnight now consist of returning him to bed over and over...and over and over and over. And of course, he has outgrown or outsmarted almost every childproofing measure we installed.

We have been coping with all of this with a measure of not-so-quiet desperation and extreme exhaustion, until last weekend. It has become rapidly apparent that he will outgrow his car seat in a matter of months. The next size up car seat is the booster with the back...and no harness! I find it very hard to believe that we are the only parents out there with a huge toddler and there is no way it is safe for him not to be in a harness. I'm having nightmares of him undoing his seat belt and climbing around the car. Nightmares of me having to stop every three minutes to put him back in his seat. Nightmares of being pulled over for my kid jumping on the back seat of the car. "Yes officer, I know my kid is unbuckled, why don't you ask him to sit down and stay buckled?"

We tried plopping him in every other brand of seat at several different stores in an effort to see if other brands ran a little bigger with no success. If "Go back to bed go back to bed go back to bed" takes three hours to be effective how can I hope that "Sit down and buckle up, sit down and buckle up, sitdownandbuckleup, SIT DOWN AND BUCKLE UP" is going to be any more successful?

Maybe I'll ask the paramedics for a child backboard to strap him to and toss in the trunk.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Budget Smudget

Rob and I began working on our new budget this week. We figure we have lived here for three months now so we have a general idea of how much it's going to cost us to live here. I went to update my old budget spreadsheet and discovered that it doesn't exactly reflect our current lives. We have been off budget for about eight months now with preparing to move, moving, and settling in here.

Our old budget made me want to laugh hysterically, cry, or shoot myself in the head. It had categories such as "entertainment" which included things like the symphony and movie theaters and fancy dinners. "Travel" which was trips to see family and drives under eight hours to friends. Needless to say, we don't drive anywhere more than an hour with Gus right now unless under threat of death and I'm pretty sure the last time I was at the symphony was while pregnant. We haven't gone to a movie since we took him, spent the whole movie in the hallway with Gus and the movie people took pity on us and gave us two free tickets, which we never got to use.

What was missing was even funnier. No category for buying a new wardrobe every two months for a sprouting weed. No category for a toddler eating us out of house and home. No category for bulk packages of smarties to use as bribes. No reflection of the quadrupled volume of laundry soap we go through now. No budgeted area for toys. No budget for my ruined clothing or shoes that have chunks chewed out of them.

Do they have boarding school for toddlers? Maybe that would be cheaper?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

One Year Pictures

Yes, I know they are really late (6 months or so). Thanks Becky for your help with these!

Friday, July 29, 2011


So many of the people I know that I was pregnant with are starting to welcome their babies. Still others are nearing their final month of uncomfortableness, waiting restlessly to join the ranks of the sleepless and exhausted yet again.

Me? I'm not sure where I'm at. I was warned that approaching the due date, the sharpness of my grief would reemerge and it has. Choking, aching grief. Deep sorrow at never being able to hold my baby, hear him laugh. A brother for Gus that he doesn't even know to miss. Another son for a proud papa. Another piece of our hearts walking around in a scary, dangerous world. Instead, he sleeps in a tiny heart shaped box. Forever safe, forever pure. Leo, we will miss you forever.

Through everything though, God has had his hand on our lives. He led us and comforted us through the initial shock and disbelief. To the doctor's surprise we were able to tell he was a boy so we could name him. He healed the raw edge of my grief. He took away my crippling fear over this new pregnancy so that I could rejoice in the new life growing in me. I may not be innocent anymore, but I am joyful over this new life.

What I am the most thankful for though, as September 13 approaches, is that there I am already, at nine weeks, visibly pregnant. I'm not sure how how difficult that day would have been without tangible hope for the future. I know that faith is the evidence of things not seen, but sometimes I think God knows that a visual goes a long, long way towards settling our fears. I know it isn't past yet but God is preparing me for that.

And then today, when I was laying there being thankful that I could see evidence of the baby, I felt the baby move. Unmistakably. I know it's really early for that, but I did not imagine it and it was exactly what I needed this week to help me through the renewed grief over a child that died while I carried him.

Even though Leo's death was God's plan for us, he did not lead us to it alone. He has been with us, comforting us every time grief threatens to overwhelm.

Faithful friend and father
I've called you through the years.
You've been great physician when sickness lingered near.
Through distressing moments your name is new and sweet
You've become comforter to me.

You are comforter that's who you are to me.
Comforter a name that fits so perfectly.
Peace that passes all understanding
Comforter is who you are to me.

To the grieving family who weeps for loved ones gone.
The pain of separation consumes another home.
On the waves of sorrow
You walk with perfect ease
Comforter is who the whole world needs.

You are comforter that's who you are to me.
Comforter a name that fits so perfectly.
Peace that passes all understanding
Comforter is who you are to me
-CeCe Winans

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Went to School for This?

Gus is sick...again. Some sort of generic intestinal distress. Practically this translates into about ten poopy diapers a day and a moderately disgruntled toddler. We've been quarantined...again. Nothing to do in the house but read, and read, and read, and read. Oh! and watch a million episodes of Thomas the Train. I think that the new baby should be one right now so he has another playmate (besides me). On the upside, he is very snuggly. On the downside, he is constantly getting his tears, slobber, milk and other less fun things all over me several times a day. He stinks, I stink. We are both in tears about half the day, him because he's miserable, me because I'm tired, oh...and pregnant and now apparently cry for NO GOOD REASON! I forgot about that part.

Today's schedule: 2 renditions of "How to catch an elephant" 3 readings of "I love you stinky face" One reading of "The lorax" "Sneetches" and "Bulldozers" a couple chapters of "Prince Caspian" and about a dozen times through "Freight Trains." Try to force a toddler to like toast. Change a million diapers. Change both of our clothes three times. Try to convince Gus not to chuck his blocks at my head. Give up on trying to keep him from throwing toys and decide to watch Backyardigans and Thomas the Train till bedtime.

Weeks like this make me feel that my education is being wasted.

I just keep reminding myself...this is a noble calling, right? RIGHT?!?!?!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Da Da Da DAH!

Rob and I are pleased to announce we will be welcoming a new baby in late February, early March.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Yesterday was one of THOSE days. You know, the days where if a miniature person touches you one more time you are going to burst into tears. Gus was clingy, and whiny, and tugging on me, and wanting held, and wanting down, and clumsy then crying every time he fell down.

He's teething. I get it. He's miserable. Three canines making their grand entrance in unison. Apparently the show is more impressive in slow motion. This act has been building for weeks and yesterday, the crescendo peaked and broke. Well...two of them did anyway.

I went to the garage to get him a Popsicle from the Popsicle shelf (yes we have an entire shelf for Popsicles) of the freezer in the garage. He followed me out there (because there isn't a way to lock the garage door behind me). My pantry is stashed in numerous places till I get off my exhausted bum and finish the shelving in the laundry room so Gus went through the stash in the garage while I searched for frozen delights. I turned around and saw him pick up a bottle of soy sauce.

"Hand that to me."
"Give it to mommy, now!"
"No!" and he turned and threw it at the garage door. It, of course, shattered on impact.
Popsicle forgotten, I yelled "Don't move!" I felt myself morph into my father, screaming at the kid not to move. I didn't understand how he though a teenager was stupid enough to run through broken glass. I get it now Dad...instinct.
"No!" Gus runs right into the middle of the mess.

My garage and child smell like Chinese takeout. Gus is screaming while I'm picking shards of glass out of his bare feet. I'm crying, shaking and a little overwhelmed. I give him a bath, stash him in the crib while I clean up the soy sauce (and a melted Popsicle).

Once freed he resumes his drive mommy crazy agenda. Whiny, crying, touching me, touching me, touching me... He refuses to eat anything, is pulling everything off the counters and shelves and emptying laundry baskets, holding down the water dispenser on the fridge. His diaper rash is only marginally better and every diaper change involves me pinning him down by a leg across his chest and dangling him from his ankles while he shape shifts into one of the torments of hell. Spinning on his head and everything...

He's been awake for two hours and I'm over it. In the interests of consistent discipline, he has been corrected...a lot.... By eleven A.M. he is in trouble at least every five minutes. I'm furious, shaking in rage, he's angry, hurting and acting out. We are testing each other's wills. I get the brilliant idea that we should go for a walk or something, get out the house, change of scenery and all that.

I go upstairs to change my clothes (again) and hear shattering glass. And screaming...

I run downstairs and see that he had been banging together little glass ramekins and one had shattered. He has glass in his feet (again) and about twenty pieces embedded in his forearms. We sit in a chair and pick all the glass out of his arms and feet. I strap him into his high chair while I sweep and vacuum. He screams and attempts to shake the booster seat off the dining room chair. In his rage he grabs a bag of potato chips sitting on the kitchen table and pounds it with his fists reducing the contents to crumbs.

I. Have. Had. It.

We do NOT smash potato chips in this house!

I lost my mind. I stood rooted to the spot, clenching the broom. I wanted to chloroform him, put him in a ventilated box and ship him to his dad in Alabama, throw him against a wall, cry. So cry I did. I left him in his chair, sat on the stairs and cried. How did I get here? How could a one year old have enough power that he could completely break me? I was supposed to be a great mom. I have been so patient, kind and firm with discipline up till now. And now? afraid to touch my kid because I don't think I can do it in love. Angry with my husband for having the nerve to have a job. Terrified. What if he gets deployed? This is us after one month of Rob being gone, how could I ever think I could do a year?

I called my cousin and told her I was coming over. I needed help. On the hour drive there, I prayed. Gus and I held hands, he sang to me and I prayed for me, for him. I apologized for being angry and losing my temper. I apologized for not being patient and yelling. I explained that his behavior had been bad and that it wasn't appropriate destroy things when you didn't feel good. I promised to do better as his mom, not a perfect mom, but a good one.

He just smiled at me, blew me a kiss, patted my hand and made train noises until he fell asleep.

I think I'm forgiven.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Man that fish was "This Big!"

I took Gus to the botanical gardens today in an effort to get some cute pictures. That was a complete failure. He did, however, really enjoy running around...and throwing his shoe at the fish...and attempting to jump in the pond himself.

Luckily the shoe landed on a ledge out over the pond, but out of reach over a rickety railing. As I was trying to figure out how to retrieve it, a really nice giant wandered up, took off his shoe and sock and retrieved it with his toes. Gus (and mommy) were very impressed.

After that fun episode, we wandered to the other side of the pond where Gus dropped to his belly, shimmied under the railing and had his head and arms into the pond before I managed to catch his feet. There I was, holding a squirming, dripping toddler by the ankle and briefly debating if I should hand off my camera to one of the other people there and ask them to take a picture of me and my 'catch.' He sure is longer than any fish I've ever caught!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Gus has a new word--


Most of the three hours back from Indy (in addition to most of the last two days) he tugs my hand points at something "Look!" Then I give whatever it is its name and he finds something else for me to name. I feel like Adam in the Bible.

Mama! Look!
That's a tree...
That's a truck...
That's the carpet...
That's mommy's toe...
That's grass...

It's a feeling of great power, being the namer of things. The up-to-no-good part of me wants to tell him something incorrect and laugh while Rob tries to figure out why Gus calls shoes flamingos.

The Land of Frozen Bounty

As much as I wish it were not so, I do not cook when Rob is away. Not even for Gus. Until he can demonstrate that my cooking can be consumed with as much gusto as Desitin or toilet paper, the hassle of attempting to grocery shop and later cook with him underfoot is just not worth it.

After three days in a row of PB&J for dinner I bit the bullet and went to Walmart yesterday to stock up on staples for bachelor cooking Sarah-style. First, I stopped at the gas station to buy a 16 oz bribe for good behavior. Gus was so proud going through Walmart with his blue slurpee. He held it up to show most of the people we passed with a loud declaration of "UMMM!" I was incredibly pleased with how easy his cooperation was to purchase until three blowout diapers later. Apparently blue slurpee doesn't love Gus as much as Gus loves blue slurpee.

Anyway, back to the food. My bachelor cooking stock up looks something like this:

Frozen chinese stir fry dinners
Frozen veggies for easy sides
Boxed pasta sides
All the fixings for eggs Benedict (because they are amazing!)
Frozen waffles
Fresh fruit for waffles, smoothies and snacking
Jimmy Deans breakfast bowls
Breakfast sausages
Smoked salmon for salmon Dijon butter on Italian bread (yum!)
Frozen pizza
Fish sticks
Frozen lasagna
Frozen chicken fettuccine
Fresh veggies for quesadillas

Add to this my holiday weekend stock up of meats (ribs, pork chops, chicken, hamburger, hot dogs, brats) and little man and I are set till Rob gets home. I plan on not going to the grocery store for anything other than milk for the next month.

Ah, elective laziness!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sarah Vs. the Black Thumb (part whatever the second)

After returning from Indy I wandered to my back yard to water my plants that had been neglected for four days. Apparently there was a really windy day at some point because the umbrella from our patio set had been whipped from its stand and the main post wrenched in two. Seriously...the metal just sheared off...I'm amazed.

Anyway, it landed on my garden. My heart stopped when I saw it. Rob has sincere doubts as to my ability to successfully grow a functional garden and I saw another year's efforts flash before my eyes. I peeked under the umbrella and dropped it in stunned amazement. Apparently it acted like a greenhouse. My tomato plants that I purchased at a farmers market three weeks ago at less than six inches tall are over four feet tall. Of course they weren't that big when I left so they are a sprawling undisciplined mess right now. And I have no idea where Rob stashed the tomato stakes and cages post move. Actually I'm not sure I have tomato stakes taller than four feet as it has been years since I had a plant get that tall.

So instead of trashing the umbrella or letting Rob fix it, I may mount it on a pole and plant it in the middle of my garden.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sarah Vs. the Black Thumb (part whatever)

My vegetable garden is in! HA! Stop laughing, it's only the end of June and in my family that's actually not half bad!

I am so not going to have vegetables before three feet of snow blows in off the lake in early October...

I'm telling myself this is so I can learn how to make seeds sprout (and I have the whole summer to try over and over again until I get it right. By next year, I might know what I'm doing.

That sounds plausible right?

Baby-proof? Ha!

"Never underestimate the problem solving abilities of those who really do have all day." -Andy Kerr

A checklist:

Baby gates-scaled
Lever style doorknob locks-conquered
Stove knob covers-mastered
Oven lock-Mom, this one only kept me out for a day, you're really going to have to try harder than this!
Adhesive strap type cupboard lock-ripped off (C'mon, I figured this out before I was ten months old!)
Interior mounted latch type cupboard lock-no problem, get a stick and scoot the chemicals to the opening, reach in and pull them out
Stuff relocated to higher ground-this only works if you bolt the chairs to the floor and take away anything I could stack and climb

To Do:

Lazy susan lock
Doors and cupboards locked with keys

Ahh! So far it's been a very productive month!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

What Goes In...

Today is diaper laundry day. Ah, the joy of discovery, consternation and straight up "What in the world?"

Let me back up...

Three weeks ago, I messed up and bought waaay too many hot dog buns. No problem, we'll have hot dogs for three or four nights right? Problem was I didn't have them all stashed in the same place so we would be to the last bun or two (and fantasizing about cereal, salad, macaroni and cheese--basically anything but hot dogs) and another sweep of the kitchen would reveal two more packages. If I had known that I had seven packages of buns I would have reversed my position on frozen bread and thrown those suckers in the freezer. To my credit, I did have Gus eat a slightly more balanced diet than Rob and I, even though I'm certain Gus was the one person in the family who didn't mind the "All hot dogs, all the time" state of existence regardless of what they do to his diapers.

So after two weeks of hot dogs for lunch and dinner...we go camping! Yay! More hot dogs! and marshmallows, and greasy burgers, and massive amounts of fruit and sand and rocks and coins and sidewalk chalk. This kid's digestive system is getting run through its paces. Lucky for me, I had opted for disposable diapers for the trip. If I were smart, I would have used them for the week after we got back while his system was still trying to sift through all that sludge.

This week's diapers have been by far the raunchiest diapers I have ever seen in my life. If I were pregnant right now, I would have thrown them all away and ordered new ones rather than having to look at a single one for a second time.

As if that weren't enough fun...we have had to sift and squish through every poopy diaper this week looking for the coin he swallowed (which I finally found today).

Incidentally...we start potty training tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grasping at Sanity

See that crazy lady with two carts? The one who is wearing a blissful smile like she's on a beach somewhere in her head? Don't judge me. Before today, in the last month I had been out of the house for a total of five hours...count 'em...FIVE hours without my child. Do you know what that sort of closeness does to a person?

My pastor's wife took Gus for me today for about five I could go to Walmart. I was supposed to go other places. I spent the entire time there. Having recently transplanted from a city with a reasonable cost of living and multiple grocery shopping options I was able to snub the blue and white wonder with all the ferociousness I possess. Now, we live in a place where we can't afford the milk. Seriously. Since I refuse to pay $4.00/gallon for the cheapest milk on the shelf, I now drive twenty minutes to grocery shop and I have a diminutive man on my hands that won't let me make more than one stop (no shopping the circulars or couponing for me for a bit!), I have been forced to choose between abandoning our savings plan or sucking it up and shopping at Walmart.

I was shopping for a 20 person camping trip this weekend so I guessed correctly and grabbed two carts at the beginning. Before hitting the grocery section I grabbed a gallon of bubbles and a pack of disposable diapers, immediately announcing to everyone that I was a mother. Probably every fourth person I passed had some sort of comment, either directly to me or whispered to the person with them.

"I wonder how many kids she has?"

"Boy you sure have your hands full, don't you?"

"Now there's a woman on a mission!"

"It's difficult for you to maneuver, let me get out of your way."

"Mommy! Mommy! That lady has two carts! Mommy! That lady has two carts! She has two carts! Look at how many carts she has mommy! Look! Mommy! She's getting lots of stuff mommy! Why does she need two carts mommy! Mommy! Look at that lady!"

"Did you hire a baby sitter or guilt your husband into staying home with them?"

Ahh, nothing like making yourself a spectacle. It was almost as bad as the time I bought twenty 100 oz. bottles of Tide at once, also at a Walmart if I remember correctly... Twenty bottles of Tide and a pack of Gum. $51.00 for three years worth of laundry detergent and a week of minty fresh breath. Totally worth the staring and whispering that followed me through the store.

I had so much fun I've almost forgiven Walmart for being, well, Walmart. Go ahead and stare people of Walmart, you may think I'm nuts but this is the most sane I've felt in three months!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Tuna Rain

Yesterday in a moment of mommy laziness, I dumped a pile of pasta salad on munchkin's plate and added some canned tuna to it in an effort to make it a more substantial dinner. While I put away the rest of the tuna, the child seizes the opportunity to fling tuna everywhere. The cats swarmed the kitchen, racing around, bumping into one another, knowing that any moment this glorious rain could come to an end. I couldn't stop laughing. Sarah couldn't stop laughing. And Gus, who usually gets yelled at for throwing food...was more than a little confused.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lingerie and Jet Fuel

Rob and I just celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary. Our celebration was very low key. We dined on fine hot dogs and exchanged gifts. Part of the lack anything more spectacular was that we don't know a babysitter yet and part was that Rob had to work that day. Part of the difference between that and previous celebrations was a not-so-subtle shift in what we find romantic.

Last week I unpacked a box labeled simply "pajamas." In in I found my wedding lingerie. I sat there holding this stuff in my lap and simply staring at it. Honestly, I had forgotten that I had it. I feel special if he doesn't go to bed smelling like jet fuel. I don't remember that being on my 'list of desirable qualities in a mate' list that I had. To romance me he must first bathe...yeah, not sure that ever crossed my mind as a form of romance. I'm also pretty sure that if he had offered to let me go the store alone to shop for paint six years ago I would have been annoyed that he wanted to get out of running errands with me. This time, it was one of the highlights of my month. Two hours completely alone? To shop for paint? Honey, THANK YOU!

Regardless, that night I put on the lingerie, feeling slightly idiotic (and amazed that it still fit), like he didn't know every inch of my body underneath it and love me despite my flaws. His comment, "I remember that stuff!" wasn't exactly what I was going for. We both got a good case of the giggles. It's what I imagine the great romances were made of.

We've hit that point in our marriage where we find intimacy in the knowledge that we have our whole lives to discover each other, that we belong completely to each other, that we are building something worthwhile together. Seeing him playing with his son is far sexier than him mowing the lawn shirtless ever could be. The emotions have burned off the relationship and what's left is solid, deep, it's commitment, it's our choice to stay together, it's grounded in God and the family that we have made together, it has been tested by distance, by loss, by tragedy. It isn't a piece of silk over exposed's better than that. It's knowing that whatever I need him for, he's there, that he is mine and mine alone. It's why I'll follow him wherever he goes even when it takes me from my loved ones. It's a bond that only grows deeper with every passing day. It's being willing to put in the work to have one love for one lifetime.

It's simple, it's perfect, it's happiness...

I didn't "fall in love," I chose to love him. I make that choice every single day. I'll make that choice over and over again until death do us part.

Happy Anniversary my love...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Poison Control

After a lovely breakfast, I was changing over laundry when I smelled diaper rash cream. I looked around the corner and found my son, slathering diaper rash cream all over himself and in his hair. An inspection of his mouth showed that he had also eaten some. I read the back of the tube which emphatically stated to call poison control immediately. I'm not sure why their number isn't already in my phone being as I call them at least twice a month but after I looked it up, I put it in my phone as my number one speed dial.

The nice lady laughed and said it was probably fine, but since it was in his eyelashes to put him in the shower for 20 minutes to do an eye flush. She also said that it might affect his diapers and cause vomiting later if he had ingested a significant amount.

While I had her on the phone, I asked about bug spray since he had gotten a mouthful of that yesterday. Apparently, high concentrations of DEET cause seizures in little kids so that is one more thing to worry about at our upcoming camping trip. I'm not sure it is possible to babyproof a campsite. Lock everything dangerous in cars? The fire too?

After we showered and he had a nap, I fed him a watermelon snack. Twenty minutes later he was throwing up what appeared to be blood. After a minor short lived freak out, I remembered what he had eaten and stopped looking for a local pediatrician. As a side note, I probably should get that lined up before it becomes urgent.

He seems totally fine now, but I have to wonder what is the attraction to eating stuff like that? Bug spray? dryer lint? diaper rash creme? crayons? play dough? febreeze? hair mouse? cat food? That stuff can't taste good. Milk out of a bottle? No thanks! I'd rather dump it in mommy's shoe and lick it up that way.

A Perfectly Normal Tuesday

While they are much funnier, I figured all my posts shouldn't revolve around how exhausting and humiliating being constantly outsmarted by a one year old is...

Today was one of my less hectic days...

We woke up and ate breakfast without incident. I spent some time in prayer thanking God for that. We drove to Valparaiso to hit the DMV (or BMV, even the web-site isn't sure which it is) to change my driver's license, registration and plates to the new address. I drove the same 1 mile stretch of Hwy 30 at least 12 times looking for the elusive-apparently-not-clearly-marked DMV/BMV while being serenaded by screams of outrage over having play time interrupted with meaningless adult errands. I found out the paperwork I brought was not sufficient (I would have thought that the mortgage paperwork would have been good enough coupled with a piece of mail with the new address, but I was wrong). We drove back home and Gus fell asleep as I pulled in the neighborhood. Lovely.

I let him sleep in the car while I packed a bag and a lunch for the beach. Our friends showed up and off we went to the beach. We got out of the car at the beach 10 miles from the house, all seven of us clad in some version of wishful thinking summer attire (to be fair, it was seventy degrees in my driveway). The beach felt like a balmy 50 degrees with a brisk wind. Within a minute of hitting the sand, Gus's teeth are chattering. I dig out an extra T-shirt for him and we eat a sandy lunch of salami, cheese and broccoli We let the kids play for a little under an hour before group misery over-rode the objections of the one child wearing enough clothing.

I brushed as much sand out of my car as possible, plunked the kid in the bathtub where he happily splashed for almost an hour. Once his fingers and toes had gone from blue to pink to white and shriveled, I dressed him and all but tossed him in the crib for a nap. I walked across the hall and collapsed on the bed. In the midst of reaming myself out for not taking advantage of nap time to get housework done, I got a much needed nap.

When the baby woke up, we went for a really long walk around the neighborhood, then Gus got out of the stroller and took off down the street pushing the stroller. We took the long walk again with him pushing the stroller the whole time. Then came a trip to CVS just for chocolate. When we got home I nuked a hot dog for him and he offered me a bag of marshmallows as an acceptable dinner alternative. After a parental talking to (and hiding the bag of marshmallows) he ate or fed to the cats most of the hot dog and tried to eat a spider for dessert. We cuddled and read several partial stories and then he went to bed.

This was a great day, considering what the last couple months have been like and I'm still exhausted. Maybe it isn't him, maybe I'm just getting old.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's that Smell?

Watching a child grow from tiny, squalling newborn into a robust toddler involves all the senses. The delicate feel of their skin, the amazing overnight changes visible in their features as they grow, the random things that end up in your mouth as a parent (saliva, pacifiers that have been dropped who knows where, occasionally some things much nastier) and of course the darling little coos to the ear splitting shrieks. But the parade of smells...there is just something about the odors of childhood that amazes me.

I remember when he was a newborn and I would sit and hold him with my nose pressed to his scalp, inhaling what has to be the most delicious non-smell food in the world. Two weeks later colic and a horrible case of reflux set in leaving him smelling like baby spit up most of the time, that sort of 'off' milk smell that doesn't discourage proximity but can usually be fixed by changing their clothes. The diapers of this period also weren't terribly off-putting, with the sickly sweet smell of breast milk poop.

Fast forward 8 months and he is a mobile stink machine on wheels. As a result of consuming copious amounts of table food and an inadequate digestive system, washing diapers had become a distasteful act, not to be done until absolutely imperative. On the plus side, the reflux had all but gone away and we went a couple months without him throwing up at all.

By the time he had been on cows milk a month I was back to doing diaper laundry every other day. Any longer than that in the diaper pail and an accidental breath through my nose left me losing me lunch in the trash can. These days find me wandering into a room olfactory stations blaring...what is that smell? I sniff high and low to find the culprit whether it be the smell of raw fear emanating from my cats, a week old bottle stuffed in a toy bin or the darling emissions coming from a 25 pound midget. Occasionally, I find that the lingering odor is smeared poop on my own clothes from (hopefully) the last diaper change. I can't begin to count the number of times I've smelled something in public and without breaking in conversation lifted Gus to nose level to smell his diaper. If it wasn't him, I've embarrassed whoever I was talking to that tried to stink and not claim it.

Today I walked into his room after nap time and smelled the unmistakable stench of vomit. I pulled him out of the crib and sniffed him down. Nope-clean. I smelled each stuffed animal and blanket as it came out of the crib. No dice. I found a sock at one corner of the crib that reeked and upon further inspection, Gus had removed it, thrown up in it and tucked in in the corner of the crib and taken a nap. None of the crib bedding smelled except where it had contacted the sock and his clothes were fine. Laying the sock on the ground while I stripped the bed I was distracted by a tug on my leg. Staring up at me was a sweet child. He grinned at me, said "Please?" and handed me the offending sock. Ugh...

And then of course there is the vague odor of urine that every toddler seems to have clinging to them. No amount of baby wiping or sponge bathing seems to get rid of that sour diaper smell the way their bottoms sitting in a bath tub for 30 minutes can do. Unfortunately Gus has eczema. He cannot be bathed everyday without breaking out into a ferocious rash that resembles what I imagine morphing into a lizard would look like. Most of the time he gets a bath every 3 or 4 days. So every 3 or 4 days, I hold him close and breath in his sweet smell.

I truly believe God eases us into this. If I had been handed as fully mobile, loud but not terribly communicative, drooling, sticky, stinky toddler that I have now, I'm pretty sure I would have feigned insanity rather than voluntarily taken it home with me. Lucky for both of us, they gave me a sweet smelling, mild tempered, tiny, angelic newborn. I was given an opportunity to love and grow attached to this wrinkled creature so now, when it vomits in a sock and hands it to me, I just sigh, throw the sock in the laundry and sent the midget on its way with a kiss on the head and a pat on the bottom. And then go wash my hands in bleach.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Don't Like Popsicles

Tonight's dinner was a little bizarre. My son ate a ton of salad, and almost no ribs, then played with and eventually discarded instead of devouring his Popsicle. I'm not gonna lie, I'm a little weirded out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The First Twelve

This morning Rob left for Phoenix. He will only be gone for 30 hours but I'm not sure his son will be alive when he gets home. It all started when I dozed off on the couch this morning while he was playing. I was abruptly startled out of said nap by a crack to the skull. Gus hit me in the head with a metal rod with enough force that it bled for a while and I'm going to have a goose egg for a few days.

A couple hours later I am strapping his car seat in so we can go get milk. This task takes about 45 seconds. In the meantime, he has let himself out of the house and goes running towards the street with me running and screaming after him. I watch in horror as he runs right out in front of a car. I am so thankful that the driver was not on their phone and was not speeding. They didn't even come close to hitting him. Rob called to see how things are going seconds later and I was still so shaken up I couldn't concentrate on what he was saying. Gus was screaming because I was holding him so tight and because he was subsequently banished to his crib while I finished strapping his seat in.

We went to the grocery store where he charmed other shoppers by throwing blueberries at them and playing peekaboo. Then he made some other shoppers grateful that theirs were grown (I know because they told me so) as he kept trying to launch himself out of the cart headfirst and screaming in outrage when I put him back in the seat.

When we got home I left him strapped in the car while I unloaded the groceries because short of locking the deadbolt behind me every time, there isn't a good way to keep him in the house while I'm outside. He let the whole neighborhood know what he thought about the situation. I can only wonder what some of our new neighbors think of us. I imagine most of them understand as probably nine out of ten of them have kids still at home but still....

While I put away groceries, he took them back out for me, then grabbed a bottle of hot sauce from the fridge and took a swig of that. Then for some reason, he wanted a drink (I couldn't help but laugh at that!) Then he spent a good five minutes grunting and straining trying to pick up the watermelon. Then he decided that rolling it down the stairs looked just as fun. I managed to get there in time to prevent him from sending the watermelon to a messy meeting with my carpet.

Then my oven told me it was preheated, I opened it, put the squash in the oven, closed the door, turned around and saw my son standing on the counter drinking out of the glass coffee pot.

The last few days he has discovered he can move the dining room chairs to reach stuff on the counters. Apparently today he discovered he can pull all the drawers out and climb them and sit and stand on the counters. This has the added bonus of allowing him to reach the stuff in the upper cabinets. Again I'm so thankful he didn't hurt himself, that I never got around to making my coffee this morning, that he wasn't scalded, that he didn't climb up on the counters where the knife block is, that he didn't bang the coffee pot on the sink that he feet were in and cut himself, that he didn't fish the butcher knife out of the sink, that he didn't fall and bust his head open or break his neck.

I am at a loss for how to deal with this. Telling him "NO!" takes months to sink in for any particular undesirable activity. I was in the same room and had my back turned for maybe 20 seconds. I can't never take my eyes off him. He can't stay locked up in his crib all day. The kitchen is as baby-proofed as it can possibly get and there is no way to gate it to keep him out of it completely. There are some things that need to be on the counter. I'm so frustrated right now and I'm hoping once he settles in he will calm down a bit. In the mean time, I'm scared to take my eyes off him. I think it's amazing the survival rate for boys is as high as it is.

I also think I'll take that straight jacket now dad!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Different Life

Yesterday was my second mother's day. While nothing was about the day itself was spectacular, it definitely gave me an appreciation for how different our lives are now than a year ago. A year ago I had a three month old and all I wanted was a really long nap and to be able to lay Gus down without him screaming.

How different our lives are now! Rob and I contemplate daily how any child of ours could think that 8.00 AM sharp is an acceptable wake up time when there is nowhere to be. I'm a little disgruntled about the hour because I prefer to be up an hour or so before he is, but I don't wake at 7.00 naturally or motivated by an alarm clock if there is nowhere I have to go. So for now, the baby is my alarm clock. I get him out the crib, turn him loose while I brush my teeth and hair and then go down to make our breakfast.

After breakfast we play. A week ago, we moved into a house much too large for us so we have a floor of our house that doesn't have any furniture. In the morning, Gus runs around this room like a crazy person while I sit in the middle and growl at him and pretend like I'm going to pounce if he stops running. Then we do something more calm like reading or practicing how to make snow angels on the kitchen floor so when the snow comes we're ready. Then mommy gets her computer time while Gus goes up and down the stairs over and over, working very hard to wear himself out for his morning nap.

Then we rock. Oh, how the rocking has changed over the course of a year. Last year he lay calmly and passively in my arms. This year, twice a day we have a baby's choice rocking session. Sometime he lets me hold him and we pretend he is a well adjusted, calm child. Sometimes he sits upright on my lap and we rock till he spaces out and falls over. A personal favorite of mine is when he absolutely wants to be on your lap but refuses to sit still and expects you to keep him from falling as he climbs up to your shoulders and hangs over the back of the chair or launches himself backward between your knees expecting you to hold his feet and rock as fast as you can. His new spin on rocking has us in side by side rockers, rocking back and forth and singing together until he is ready to climb the stairs and retrieve puppy and binky.

Then comes the cornerstone of my day...naptime. Half his nap is devoted to mommy time, reading, napping or eating if it has been a few days. The other half I use to do chores that are impossible when he is "helping," like folding laundry. He will hand me a piece of clothing, I fold it and put it in the stack, then he unfolds it and hands it back to me. While this will keep him entertained for hours, folding laundry is already at the bottom of my list of favorite household chores and I have no desire to fold the same shirt eight times. Right now, that half of naptime is being used to unpack items that aren't baby friendly, like medicines and soaps or picture frames and hardware.

All too soon, he is hollering to be let out of his crib. Depending on his mood, we have a brief snuggle session in the rocker, then he tears through the house like his diaper is on fire to do a cat inventory and make sure that they appreciate it the next time he is out of commission for a couple hours. Next is lunch which lately has been punctuated with "no," "off the table," "on your bottom," NOW!" We have started teaching him to stay seated in a normal chair at mealtimes as not all our friends and families have high chairs and most are not amused when he climbs on the dining room table during meal time and starts splashing in whatever they fixed for dinner and restaurants definitely don't find that sort of thing adorable.

Next we wash dishes which keeps him occupied for a good hour (what is it with running water and kids anyway?). Then the afternoon gets underway. This is the most entertaining and exhausting part of my day. On any given afternoon I will do 90% of the following activities: rescue a cat
pull something out of a toilet
take something sharp away from him
yell at him for chewing on an electrical cord
tell him to "Get down from there right now!" at least a dozen times
accept a few drive by hug and kisses attacks
put at least two dozen books back on the shelves
put the trash back in the trash can
tell him hitting mommy is not nice
kiss a booboo and/or pin him down while we stop a wound from bleeding since he eats bandaids
take a crayon out of his mouth
clean up a shredded piece of paper and/or take it out of his mouth
change his clothes at least once
hold him while he cries because he ran into a wall face first
pluck him off the dining room table four or five times
rewind a roll of toilet paper or stuff an entire box of kleenex or wipes back in the box.

Rob's mom commented yesterday that he must get all his energy from me because Rob was apparently not psychotic as a toddler. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. I did pray that the next child likes to play with his fingers, sleep and gaze contently out of a window.

The evening is the highlight of my day. Rob comes home, we have dinner and then we play. He learns his body parts and how noses are in the same place on mommy, daddy, and Gus. Gus shows us his belly button and how he can tickle himself. He practices counting on his fingers and showing how old he is. He practices pointing to the right color ball when mommy says a color and the right animal when daddy makes the noise they make. If he is cooperative, we read a story. Then Rob puts on waltzes and Gus takes turns dancing with mommy and daddy in the kitchen till it is time for jammies and brushing his teeth. Then daddy rocks him to Andre Rieu until bedtime.

After Rob lays him down, we sit at the kitchen table in silence for a while and drink our tea and enjoy the quiet, we wash dishes, feed the cats, switch the laundry and then head to the couch to read (me) and watch tv (Rob). Last year this would have been the productive part of my day, but now I feel I have been dragged into responsible adulthood by my one year old. I'm up at eight, in bed by midnight or one most nights, my dishes and laundry are done daily, we eat three meals a day, I can't finish a book a day anymore, I actually remember to get my mail almost every day, and most weeks we get to the grocery store. Happy mother's day mom! I give you maturity and responsibility!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Kind of Chaos

After weeks of being overwhelmed by all that has been thrown at us in such a short time, I finally woke up this morning with my head screwed on straight. I am ready! In the last month, we have looked for and found a house, had our offer accepted, done the inspection, applied for our loan, had the whole house struck down with the plague, and started packing. All this with only a few mental breakdowns. Now I have my deadline, I have a plan, and best of all...I have a list!

Yesterday, I went through a pile of mail four months deep and filed everything. I started to pull everything for taxes out so it doesn't get packed (I do learn something new with every move!). Patted myself on the back for not finding any unpaid bills in that stack (whew! can't say that has never happened before). I put aside everything needed to run errands today in an organized manner. Finally, while I was working I listened to a seminar on how to begin teaching discipline to very small children. I did a couple weeks worth of laundry, washed diapers, washed dishes, cleaned up the living room, got a massage and spent some quality time with Gus.

Today, I woke at an ungodly hour (did you know there is a 630 in the morning? I didn't...), ran errands for a couple hours before the boys woke up. Then I fed the small creatures of the house, picked up all the small bits of trash from the yard that have finally been released from the icy grasp of winter, worked in the garage for a little while, washed the fake greenery so it can be packed, and ran more errands at places that keep more civilized business hours. Now I'm blogging for the first time in a while and drinking a big glass of water.

Next on my list is packing the rest of the decor and breakables and then the serving dishes and more bizarre kitchen gadgets I can probably live without over the next month, canning supplies, and extra bedding. It is so nice to have my motivation and energy back. I am woman, hear me roar!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


After years of what felt like living in preparation mode for our lives, everything has come together...Right NOW! A week and a half ago, Rob got a phone call telling him he got his dream job, flying choppers all day, no politics, no babysitting grown ups with an overblown sense of entitlement. He was overjoyed. I was overjoyed. The baby was overjoyed. Mostly we were relieved. We have prayed for this for a long, long time and finally, everything is coming together. We will finally have a place of our own, to raise our children, to plant a garden, to create our own sanctuary of peace on a little piece of land. And oh by the way, he starts in a month. I'm down to four weeks to find a place and move before Rob is commuting from Indianapolis to northern Indiana to work. So maybe we are just going to have one more month of absolute chaos before I can have my oasis of calm.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A New Reign of Terror

A new reign of terror has begun. In the week and a half since I installed baby gates, Gus has had to turn to his creative side to wreak havoc on this house...and my sanity. I'm trying really hard not to stifle his creativity and independence but I refuse to let him trash the house as a recreational activity.

He really is an agreeable baby..."You locked me out of all the fun places so I will adapt!" In the last week and a half he has learned to increase his reach. Since all the fun stuff is up high, he has learned to climb a little. He can now reach about eight inches of our dining room table by simultaneously doing a pull up and swing his feet over to catch a dining room chair to free up one hand for grabbing. Practical implications of this are...he can pull the high chair off the table onto his head, he can get to a beverage left on the table...or food...or coins...or paperclips...or mail...or books...or candles (luckily it wasn't lit!).

He has learned that walking has a lot of potential for increasing his speed and is diligently practicing that. He can now successfully string together about eight steps at a time.

He has learned to operate the radio in his room. He turns it on, blasts the volume and sits in front of it and wails along with the music.

He has learned the joys of smashing smashable foods with his sippy cup, mostly cheerios and animal crackers into little specks of edible powder. Once he has powdered his food he then has the option of licking his fingers and picking up the powder with his spit or sprinkling the carpet with the powder. The ants and cats are a big fan of this activity and we now get to vacuum a couple times a day.

He has earned the love of the cats who suffer so much abuse (I mean love!) at his hands by playing the you lick it, then I lick it, then you lick it, then I lick it game with his food. Gross.

He has figured out how to get around the babyproofing on the entertainment center. He also likes to chew on DVD's.

I had him in the office BRIEFLY with me and he managed to bite a glass ball Christmas ornament in two and lick all the paint off. No he didn't cut himself, yes I am glad I put the Christmas tree behind a gate.

He can open the front closet and dig your salt covered boots out and chew on the soles.

He likes to fold the pages of his books. This is a welcome change from the ripping the pages out and eating them phase but it is a little weird.

And of course, there is the very fun pull all the wipes out of the box one by one game, but again, compared to other things he could be doing, that is relatively easy to deal with so I just make sure there aren't more than an inch or so of wipes in the box in the living room.

The joy he gets from destruction is so real and infectious that it's hard to be mad. My current schedule goes something like this:

Wake up
Change a dirty diaper while setting boundaries about when it's okay to stick your hands in your diaper (wait till after I wipe).
Set boundaries about tooth brush etiquette (no, you can't put my toothbrush in your mouth, or the kitty's mouth).
Set boundaries about food behavior (taking food out of your mouth and throwing it at the cats is bad, especially when it is cereal).
Put him in the kitchen with me while I eat, clean the kitchen, do dishes and start dinner.
Empty the washer of all the recycling that he has transferred from the recycling bin to the washer.
Put him in the living room to play while I work for an hour.
Come survey the destruction.
That puts us up to about morning nap time. I would continue, but considering my morning, I think I will get too depressed if I think about the rest of the day in too much detail.

This is for those of you who have children who are a little older, who talk back, have attitudes and all the other fun stuff that is in store for us down the road. I hope you enjoy hearing about Gus's antics and remembering when your kids were this age and you would seriously pay a babysitter just so you could have a cup of coffee in peace without him trying to grab it and dump it on his head, or burn himself by sticking his hand in it and sloshing it all over the both of you. I hope you enjoy it when I tell you this morning, I put on my coat, hat and boots, took a dining room chair out on my porch that has six inches of snow on it so that I could enjoy my coffee in peace. I hope you remember, I hope that you laugh, and I hope that you take pity on me and volunteer to take him somewhere, anywhere, away from here. Should that ever happen, I have big plans...I'm gonna take a nap!