Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Once Upon A Time

I wanted to write this post because I hear all the time, "life is not a fairy tale!" While that may be true as far as being able to sum up the vast majority of your years in a simple three-word phrase "happily ever after," the fact is that in a myriad of ways, life is very much like a fairy tale.

Let me count the ways:

In our house, it's more rare that someone isn't running out the door without a shoe. Or even pants. But usually a shoe.

In the original Little Mermaid (the one Disney doesn't like to talk about), when she gets her legs from the sea witch, the Mermaid's feet bleed and experience stabbing pain with every step. Last week, I stepped on a Lego brick. Enough said.

"Hey, mom, I forgot my homework is to spin gold into straw, and it's due tomorrow!! I need help!"
"Hey, honey, the church needs someone to spin gold into straw by Sunday, so I told them we could do it. Of course, I just found out I have to work late, so...can you help?" The worst part is, no one will take my first-born child as payment for anything. If I pawn the kid off, even for a few hours, I have to pay THEM for the privilege. What a rip.

I can only go to the ball if I get all my chores done too, and sure enough, they suddenly multiply.

According to my children, nearly all apples are poison. The only thing more poisonous are vegetables. And I'm the old hag peddling them.

You work and work and work, but when you finally get into a good deep sleep, someone wakes you up with a slobbery kiss, or an announcement that they peed their pants.

Slaying dragons? Who has an actual problem with dragons these days?! I am, however, a first-class under-the-bed-monster hunter.

Some days, I'm both Beauty and the Beast.

I've traded my voice for obeying before. It's involves even more yelling than you'd think, and it usually ends up as a raw deal all around, just like in the story.

Small people think my hair is a magical rope that can hold their body weight. It can't.

When I'm not looking, elves come into my home, but instead of helping with chores, they sneak food and make messes.

No, birds and mice don't actually help my kids get dressed. But clearly, someone is feeding them ideas, and that person or thing has never heard of a weather report or matching.

After a day of overcoming obstacles, battling tantrums, long journeys filled with trial, physical feats of strength and agility, excessive amounts of thankless chores, all while struggling to maintain grace, beauty, and sweetness, the prince strolls in just before bedtime, throws around a few goodnight kisses, and somehow, he's the hero of the story.

A princess lives here. With every last one of her related licensed products.

Every so often, I get to dress up and go out for a special night. Then the prince and I glance at the clock and drive home as if our car will turn into a pumpkin to avoid spending any more money on a sitter.

Our story may not be the "happily ever after" of little girls' dreams, but it's an ongoing tale of adventure, peril, triumph, comedy, and even magic. Not a bad narrative if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

It's Quiet...a little TOO Quiet

Since I wrote a post to whine and complain last month, I figure this month, I'll keep it more upbeat. I won't even mention the fact that while peeing in the potty is a huge success, we are still batting zero on the #2 front, and last week while we had company over for dinner Peyton managed to poop on the kitchen floor and then Sam stepped in it and started to shriek and cry. I just can't even talk about it. It's hilarious, but sometimes it makes me cry from embarrassment and there's too many conflicting emotions to handle!

This month, I'll talk about little Presley. Because she is a baby worth talking about! She's six months old now, and she is currently a perfect specimen of babydom (I know well enough to know that can change quickly, especially with the advent of teething). She is happy all the time, she loves everyone and everything, she smiles ear to ear constantly, and she even laughs and giggles when her big brother is all up in her personal space lying on her and smothering her with kisses. She loves her big siblings like crazy, even though sometimes when Sam holds her, Presley starts to slide down the couch precariously and it looks scary to me, Presley just laughs or does happy shrieks until I come "save" her. She's interacts with everyone she meets, and if she's on the ground, she just rolls around and plays with whatever crosses her path. She goes down for naps and bed easily. The only "complaint" I have is that she still wakes up every 3-4 hours to eat, but that's not much of a complaint, and if I do feed her, she falls right back asleep, or will put herself back to sleep in her crib even if you put her down awake.  If she can't find her binky she'll fuss for a couple of minutes and then just substitute her thumb. She thinks Sam's fart jokes are funny! (Which is good for Sam because the rest of us are pretty tapped out on the potty humor and no one else laughs) I usually have to wake her up in the morning or afternoon (sometimes both) to do the school run and she always wakes up happy. That's weird, right?

In fact, sometimes she's such a good baby that it freaks me out. I was actually happy when she made it abundantly clear she didn't like peas because at least she is capable of negative emotions (my future self just came back from Presley's terrible twos and kicked me in the shins for even saying that).

What Presley is NOT good at, is making me feel okay with the thought of being done with babies. Thanks a lot, Presley. I thought I would be so ready to be finished (since I probably have to be finished anyway), but she is just so cute and snuggly and such a joy to have around that it just makes me sad how fast the time is flying and makes me want to start over. I'm no moron though. I know loving the baby you have is not a good enough reason alone to have another one (especially if it's risky for your health). I know odds are just as good I could end up with another non-sleeper, or a colicky one, and then I will think the first six months is the longest time ever in the history of human existence. That's what I tell myself when I start thinking, "Hmmm, what are the actual odds a stroke will incapacitate or kill me? Is it worth it? Look at these thighs! Did you see these cheeks!?"

So then yesterday, when Presley got shots, I figured we might see some actual crankiness or she would feel lousy. She also has her first cold (which is nothing more than a stuffy nose--even her illness is low-maintenance). Sure enough, the shots did a number on her. Since she wasn't feeling well, Presley slept through the night. Uh huh. Then, every time I put her in her car seat to run errands, she falls asleep in there. She took a nap after school drop off, even though she slept during that too. When we took her brother to the indoor bounce house, her smiles were slightly smaller than usual, she sat on my lap for two hours looking around, and then she fell asleep on the way home. Next she ate, played with her brother, and is now taking another nap. Apparently, when Presley feels yucky, she just sleeps more. I kid you not.

I'm not sure where this kid came from. Either she's gearing up for one epically awful toddler-hood, or she should be nominated for sainthood now to get the process going. Only time will tell which.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Bathroom Business

If you're wondering where I've been, I really have no excuse for the lack of posts. I've just been super busy with life. And in fact, right at this moment, I should be finishing (okay, starting and finishing) sewing my Marge Simpson dress before our first Halloween party on Saturday, but instead I'm on here making a little post. This is mainly because I'm super lazy and have zero idea how to make the difference between my boobs, waist, and hips look somewhat defined while still only using a straight stitch and a single 3 ft strip of velcro. I'm going to channel my inner Project Runway contestant and "make it work," but first I'll give it even more of a think. Did I mention I'm lazy?

If I get them finished in time, however, our Simpsons costumes will be hilariously awesome. Possibly with the exception of Peyton, who is adamantly refusing to let us color his hair or skin yellow. Without that, he's pretty much a kid in an orange shirt and blue shorts. Every time I bring up how fun it will be to be yellow (and Sam already did it to show him what it's like), he just looks at me and says "Yeah...I not doing that." If it becomes a battle of wills, then trust me, no one will win, no matter the outcome. So orange t-shirt and blue shorts it is. No one will know who he is without the other four of us in tow.

But this post isn't about Halloween.

Actually, this post is going to be short because any longer and it will devolve into a litany of angry not-nice words I'm not allowed to actually say in front of my children. That is because we are attempting to potty train Peyton. Let's just say, a boy is a whole different ball game, and despite being 8 months older than Sam was, this experience is pretty much as much fun as banging my head against a brick wall. I suggest everyone reading this buy stock in whatever company makes Resolve carpet cleaner because we are going through it like water. It's only been four days, and I think there is more pee than carpet fibers on my floor. Sigh. Every time I start thinking "Maybe he's not ready after all..." and decide to give up, we end up having just enough success to give me hope. False hope, perhaps.

So today, I bought him some stickers to put on a potty chart. We had been using M&Ms but once he discovered that all it took was a few drops of pee in the toilet to get chocolate he began using that to his advantage a little too often (while saving the majority of the pee for his room). We went to the store and he picked out Angry Birds stickers (he is very much into Angry Birds right now). He was so enamored with his new stickers he kept staring at them as we shopped. In fact, he kept staring at them until he walked face first into a garbage can. Then a wine rack. Then I made him put them down until we got home.

Here's hoping that the hypnotic stickers are the motivation he needs to stop peeing his pants.

Friday, September 6, 2013

School Daze

At this point in time, Samantha has been in kindergarten for about a month. I was going to post on her first day, but I was busy moping/rejoicing, and I didn't want to jinx anything by saying she loved it in case she changed her mind on day 2.  After a month, she still loves it, and I love it too. She cried when she found out Labor Day was a three-day-weekend. When I realized she planned to fill that day fighting with her brother, I got a little emotional myself.
That's pretty much been the last month: me getting emotional. I cried a little at meet the teacher. I cried a little bit more after dropping her off the first day. Oddly, I cried the most after the first few days of school, on the first day I dropped her off at the curb and watched her walk to the playground alone instead of waiting on the playground with her until the teacher walked them into the building. She just looked so small walking along in the mass of kids. Even though it's just a standard-issue Princess backpack (sidenote: Argh! I'm so sick of princesses!), it looked like it would swallow her whole. And she's a tall kindergartner. Some of those kids look like they should still be in diapers when they're next to the sixth-graders.
I've gotten over it, however, and we're in a routine. Every morning, we wait in the long line of cars in front of the school for the gates to open indicating there is now adult supervision on the premises. We inch up to a reasonable place near the gate where a teacher is waiting to open car doors and help the little ones get out (This is especially handy since our car is a car-seat playground and Sam is trapped in the way back). After the door shuts, Peyton and I roll down the windows on his side of the car and as we drive by and she turns the corner at the gate, he yells "Bye, Sama!" and she turns back and waves at us. Then we close the windows to head back into the traffic leaving the school, and Peyton sighs and says "It's gonna be a willy lon day!" I'm not sure why he does that part, but he probably got it from me. It's our little system, and it works, five days a week.
Yesterday, though, as the teacher helped Sam get out of the car, I heard little voices yelling her name. There was a small group of kindergarten girls whose names I don't even know on the school side of the fence that were clearly happy to see her. Sam lit up, and booked it to the school faster than usual. The girls ran along on their side of the fence chattering away. In response to her brother's shout Sam waved over her head, but didn't look back. Today, it happened again, only this time, Sam didn't even wave. She didn't even hear us, she was already giggling and talking with her friends. This is as it should be, of course, but when Peyton said "Mama, Sama not look back!?" with a frown on his face, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.
Then, even though it had been a month, some tears welled up in my eyes yet again. Happy tears for Sam, who is joyful and has friends, loves school, and is learning. Sad tears for me, as my baby girl doesn't want to look back anymore. Sad tears for Peyton, Sam's very best friend who now feels a little left out of Sam's special circle. Happy tears for Peyton, who is finally getting some time to be the leader and not be in Sam's bossy shadow all the time at home. Scared tears for me, as I realize for the first time in her whole life, I have no clue or control over what kind of friends she is making. These are children thrown together largely by geography, not ideology, not shared values or experiences. How I hope these girls will always be as sweet as they seemed by the fence, not mean girls, or frenemies, or kids who want to push Sam away from doing the right thing. How I hope she will be a good friend who remembers what we've taught her about how to treat others...without losing herself. There were a lot of conflicting tears mingling in my eyes in that brief minute. I did not let them fall, but I expect there will be plenty of opportunities ahead in this motherhood journey when these tears can not be contained.
As everyone else as learned on this journey before me, these young days really do fly by with lightning speed. Soon it will be Presley's turn at the gate and I will be crying my hodge podge of tears yet again, for her, as I did for her sister and I will for her brother. Peyton, quickly recovered from his slight, snapped me out of my thoughts with his usual sigh and his declaration "It's gonna be a willy lon day!"
For the first time ever, I found myself hoping he was right. Even though I don't always feel up to it in the moment, I need all the time I can get.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Little Night Music

I went back to bootcamp yesterday. I'm pretty happy, after over a year of migraines and no working out through my not so pleasant pregnancy, to even be able to exercise, even though I am really, and I mean really, out of shape now. I never thought I'd be grateful to exercise, but perspective is an amazing thing. However, I am super sore after two days of workouts. Last night, I barked at Daniel because I went upstairs to find the baby's gripe water only to have him tell me it was downstairs. He "thought I knew." If I knew it was downstairs, why would I have hauled myself up the stairs when it's so painful for me and took me a pathetically long time to manage it? I may have asked that question less than politely. Sorry, honey. My thighs were about to give out on me.
But I went back, and overall (last night's episode aside), it seems to be improving my mood. Thanks, endorphins. 
The only downside apart from the aforementioned soreness is that it's early in the morning. Like unholy early, and I have to wake up before five to get there. I'm not the biggest fan of waking up before five. I'm so against it, I even try to avoid hanging out with people that do like it. Guilty by association with mornings.
So, after waking up at 4:45am yesterday, and putting in a full day (I tried this whole new thing--no naps for me I am supermom! I work out! Screw that. If the kids go down at the same time, I'm resting. Laundry can just chill a while), I was ready to crash by 9.  Baby felt differently, so at 9:30pm, she did go to sleep, and Daniel and I crashed hard. We slept like the dead.
For a couple hours.
First, the baby (who usually wakes up one time a night to eat and sleeps like a rock the rest of the time), woke up with a stuffy nose just before 1am. In a zombie-like state I just fed her and put her back down. Apparently, no one told zombie me about the change in schedule, and habits die hard. Since obviously food doesn't actually clear breathing passages, though being propped up helped for a while, baby was up again at 2. I fed her again and she fell back asleep. Thank heaven the house wasn't on fire, I'd probably just attempt to rock and nurse the flames and go back to sleep.
Sometime around three, we heard a new person crying. Our darling son was having some sort of night terror. That is daddy's to deal with. Its the only good trade off to me being the only one with "the equipment" to feed the baby in the middle of the night. Still, the monitor is right next to my face, so he was keeping me up. When he seemed to be calming down, the baby woke up again. This time I was awake enough to do the math (gracias, Peyton) and realized she had only slept an hour and didn't try to feed her again. I changed her diaper and sucked out her boogers. She hates having her boogers sucked, so there was a calm-down period. As the baby was falling back asleep in my arms, Peyton noticed his water cup was empty. Rather than cry or ask for more water through the door, he opted for a complete and total meltdown. Screaming, crying, throwing his cup at the door, throwing toys and shrieking "I neeeeed water!" between sobs. He was lucky he was still half asleep because at that exact moment, we weren't feeling a lot of mercy for an intentional tantrum. It took him a while to calm down too.
I finally laid back down to sleep at 4:10. My alarm went off at 4:45. I got my already sore butt royally kicked and dragged my already sore legs home just after six. Daniel, equally bleary-eyed but ready for work, informed me the baby had woken up at five and was still awake in her crib. As she thankfully dozed back off and I decided to shower and get ready before the school prep morning dash, Sam poked her head out the door and said "Phew! You're up! Can I come out? I've been awake forever waiting for someone else to get up!"
This might be the sleepiness talking, but I am 100% convinced that my kids have taught themselves to read and write--even the baby--and colluded to make a schedule and take actual shifts to keep me awake all night long while still each being well rested enough to keep me up all day as well. I just have to find where it's posted and destroy it to get back to my peaceful nights. There is simply no other explanation!

My conclusion might sound a little crazy, but all my fellow parents can probably relate. Who hasn't had a night like this with kids in the house?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Last night, the baby only woke up only once at 3am to eat. She slept from 10:30pm to 7am, which means I pretty much did too.
This morning, Sam came into my room while I was getting ready and made my bed, just to be nice. Then she did the same thing for her little brother, and after that, she got a bag and gathered up all the dirty diapers and took them to the garbage without being asked! When Peyton threw his hamper at her while she was walking down the stairs (can't win 'em all), he immediately apologized and gave her a hug without refusing five times first. Sam worked on a record amount of preschool pages, and actually worked carefully the entire time. Her brother didn't steal and rip up any of them. Peyton also let me change a stinky diaper without running away from me and trying to escape for 10 minutes before succumbing.
The baby had over 2 1/2 hours of awake and alert time this morning, but she was still willing to hang out in her swing while I did breakfast and showered and stuff. Usually she's asleep most of the time, but if she is awake, she wants to be held, so this was an awesome breakthrough. She then proceeded to fall asleep just before swimming lessons and stay asleep until we were nearly home. (We really hit the newborn jackpot with this kid)
Everywhere we have gone, Sam has held the door or gate open for everyone else to go through first. All hail Queen Manners! I didn't get hit in the face with a slamming door because the kids ran through and my arms were occupied even once, and it's usually a daily occurrence!
During swimming lessons, both older kiddos totally turned a corner and finally (after three years for Sam!) got completely into it, stopped fake crying, and quit being afraid. It was like they were competing to see who could be the best swimmer instead of vying for biggest wimp (in fairness to Peyton, he's never been afraid, he's just shockingly stubborn and doesn't want to do what the teacher says). Both begged for more lesson when it was over. It's pretty much a miracle. I had to make sure my sister was seeing the same thing, because at first I thought it was either a desert mirage, or hallucinations indicating I was falling victim to heat stroke. My goodness, it's hot outside. Why do we live here?
Sam told me I was a great mom. Yes, it was in context of asking if she could have both McDonald's and ice cream as a reward for her swimming, but I'll take all the praise I can get.
When the baby did start crying in the car, I overheard Sam singing and talking to her to try to cheer her up. I nearly melted. Figuratively and literally. Did I mention it's really hot here today?
After lunch, my sister offered to be in charge of all three kids during quiet time so I could go to the grocery store by myself. Do you hear me people? I went shopping, during daylight hours, by myself!
The store was massively packed, but when I hopped in the huge line, they opened another register and called me over, so I had to wait less than 20 seconds. When I got back, everyone was still in quiet time, or sound asleep. They are all still doing what they were doing, which is why my kitchen is clean, my dishwasher is running, and I have time to blog.

So, we are having a truly fantastic day at our house.  I can't even believe how well the kids are behaving. I've decided, if all this is indeed indicative of the fact that the pod people have invaded and taken over the bodies of my children...

Monday, June 3, 2013

Busy Hands

Sometimes, I'm convinced any (or all) of my children could make one of those Dos Equis commercials:

"I don't always accidentally grope you inappropriately, but when I do, it will be in public."

"I don't always vomit, but when I do, it's without warning."

"I don't always manage to pee around the diaper, but when I do, it will be when you're out of emergency clothing."

"I don't always mispronounce words, but when I do, I make sure they sound like vulgar names of body parts."
(This is a very real thing at our house. Peyton has decided his new favorite food is cherries. So, naturally, he pronounces it "titties." I kid you not. He is always announcing "I love titties! I want titties!" We have video proof. It's endlessly embarrassing in public, especially because saying "he means cherries" sounds so stupid. Titties sounds nothing like "cherries," and it's just bizarre to yell about your love for cherries. But it's true, and he does. Although the constant yelling may have something to do with how hilarious his father finds this quirk.)

"I don't always have public meltdowns, but when I do, you will run into someone you know."

and finally,

"I don't always skip meals, but when I do, it will be at restaurant. After the food has been presented."

Stay frustrated, my friends.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Awww, isn't he sweet?

Yesterday, I told Peyton it was time for quiet time upstairs. He didn't seem to have processed what I said, since he didn't mention quiet time, or head upstairs, but instead walked up to me and said "My turn hold the baby?"
I thought that was so stinking sweet. He wants to hold the baby? I'm melting!
So I went to get him situated and hand her off when I had an epiphany and added,
"But, you know, as soon as you hold the baby for a minute, you have to go up for quiet time still."
Peyton yelled,  "Nooo! I want to sit on da couch! I need to play! I need to go potty! I need some food!..."
He was still yelling out various excuses when I carried him up the stairs for quiet time.
Guess he wasn't going for brotherly love after all.
Presley should feel so used.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Buffet-style parenting

It seems to me that today, everyone wants to define your parenting style in a few quick words and stick you in a box. Are you an attachment parent?  A tiger mother? An anti-vaxxer? A helicopter parent? Homeschooler? Home birther? (I don't think birther is actually a word unless it's referring to people who are still trying to turn back time to 2008 and change the election, but I needed an -er word.) There's probably more, but my newborn eats every two hours and my brain is sludge, I call this period of life acute Mommy brain. Sidenote: there's nothing cute about it.
Of course, people who adhere to any of these ideals with total unquestioning devotion tend to be, in my humble opinion, more than a little scary. They are actually similar in many ways to cult followers, regardless of whether they worship at the altar of extended breast feeding (hello, lactivists, please don't storm my blog!) or the cry-it-out method. Thankfully, I've also discovered that these glassy-eyed cult followers are either largely imaginary, or remarkably few in number everywhere except the internet. Pretty much every parent I know is trying their best with every decision they make, but instead of adhering religiously to any subgroups' standard, they're plucking a little from column A, a little from column B, and a touch out of basket C. Of course, there's so many parenting decisions, eventually you get to jar 3423ZZ, but that's another blog post.
As I am a practitioner of this particular "method" and the term "seat of my pants parent" makes me sound like I don't care about the outcome, I have dubbed myself a "buffet-style parent." This combines my love of eating with my love for my children and family. If I could throw in a reference to sleeping, this term would encompass pretty much my whole heart.
Buffet-style is a simple philosophy. All your options are before you...take what you like, leave the rest for other people. Try new stuff. If you don't like it, go back and try another option. It's all good, but that doesn't mean it's all good for you in particular. It's okay, have three desserts. Okay, so maybe that last thing only applies to me at real buffets as well as parenting, but the beauty of the system is it's customizable, so that works.
Nursing, saving money on formula and boosting immunity? Sure, load up my plate! Then I'll go back in the line a few months later and realize giving the occasional bottle means I can sleep more than two hours at a time and dad can take a turn. Wait, I'll take a little of that too please! Co-sleeping is like a seafood dish to me, lots of people love it, I am not one of them, I'll skip that station. And of course, there's the healthy dose of vegetables no one really likes but you eat them to be healthy, or at least feel better about what else is on your plate. These can be represented with actual vegetables. The possibilities are endless!
If the game changes, you can change with it. When I was in the hospital, my mother in law said the kids were obsessed with Spongebob Squarepants. She said (correctly) that I had said earlier that my kids weren't allowed to watch Spongebob (because studies show its not good for preschoolers), and asked when that changed. I said "Oh, about 36 weeks into this pregnancy." Soon, when I have my feet under me again, Spongebob will go back to the depths of the sea until either my kids are old enough to be in his target demographic, or something else renders me completely incapable of parenting without a crutch. But it's all good. A month or two of Spongebob hasn't destroyed their developing brains. A few months of gummi prenatal vitamins instead of the iron-laden puke-inducing prenatals during pregnancy won't land my kid in my basement until age 40. In short, the only hard core philosophy I prescribe to with day-to-day duties is that flexibility is the key to a happy and healthy life. I'm gung ho about flexibility, considering I used to be the least flexible person on planet earth.
In many ways, I'm still inflexible, and that doesn't just refer to my performance in a yoga class (I'm just kidding, I would never attempt to take yoga in front of other people). I still have a rigid personality and I have very clear ideas of right and wrong. But I've learned that if I'm going to be intense and hard core in some ways, the only way to survive is not to sweat the small stuff. I want my children to grow up to be good people, good citizens, and kind. Whether I manage to raise them to these ideals or not makes the early years of pooping in cloth or disposables kinda pale in comparison.
And, despite what the parenting "dogmas" preach, most of the day to day decisions are small stuff. Its the character building, the loving, and learning we do with and for our children that actually matters. So let's focus on that, and leave all the other stuff on the buffet line, for each individual parent to taste or ignore at will.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Perspective, A Beautiful Thing

It's been almost a couple of weeks since Baby Presley arrived! Yea!
We are now adjusting to life with three children, as well as the whole recovery process, and a newborn on our turf, but after that pregnancy put me through the ringer, I'm very happy to report that I feel great! Also, after already having a bit of wariness towards them, I have decided for sure that people who declare they "LOOOVE being pregnant" are now filed away in the recesses of my brain right next to those people who tell you that high school is "the best years of your life." In other words, I'll be polite to them, but deep down figure they have a mental defect or are compulsive liars and therefore shouldn't be trusted. There is a huge amount of deep-seated discomfort there. The beauty of kids and pregnancy however, is that unlike high school where you (oh so thankfully) have only one shot to live it (Zac Efron movies excepted), with pregnancy and newborns, you can have multiple shots at it and multiple experiences. That's how I came to realize not all people who love the newborn stage are crack smoking lunatics...I had Peyton and realized that babies can be very different from each other. Not all of them spend their first months trying to beat their parents into submission through extended sleep deprivation. Anyway, it's nice to get some perspective on the whole thing and understand that some people do have easy or enjoyable experiences, but not everyone gets that.  Perspective and empathy, beautiful things...of course, I hope people who love to brag about how much they love pregnancy get slapped with a whole crap-ton of empathy the next time around, but that's not very beautiful of me, and I'm working on it.
So far at least, Presley is much more like her brother as a newborn (ie: she sleeps, and only cries if she actually needs something), and not at all like her big sister (who we love dearly despite her insistence that sleeping while being held and only in 45 minute intervals was starting life on the right foot). I am very much enjoying having an easier experience (especially now that my health problems have largely cleared up now that I'm not pregnant), but after going through what I went through with Sam, I am up to my eyeballs in empathy for my brother and his wife, who also got a non-sleeper. Maybe it's a first-born thing?

If there is anything I could rank as the best thing about having a third baby, and a good-sleeping baby at that, it's the perspective I've gained over the past two children, and the knowledge of how fast and fleeting these times are. While we are busier than ever, I find myself living in the moment and just enjoying the cuddles, the kisses, and yes, even the middle of the night feedings, more. I'm enjoying feeling confident in my decisions, not panicking about every new study that comes my way, and the peace I feel that everything will be okay that only comes from having been around the block before (even though I know new things will always come along). Also, there's a bittersweet feeling that comes from the knowledge that I may not be experiencing this again, that makes it all the more precious. I don't know what the future looks like for us, but I do know, I won't be putting myself at risk of leaving three kids behind if the issues I had in Presley's pregnancy would return in another. Maybe things will change with that with treatments and medicines, maybe they won't, but approaching Presley's babyhood as the last one I'll experience has certainly made it more valuable to me. I worked so hard to get her here safely, I feel very honored to be able to cuddle her now.

Today, I'm so thankful for the perspective I've gained because it has expanded my emotions in such a life-changing way. I wouldn't get getting the fullness of experience I am having now, if I hadn't earned it along the way. So, while I would never say I "looooved being pregnant" I will say, I appreciate the lessons it taught me to have gone through three very different experiences, even if some of them were less than ideal.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

You're Gonna Need It

Lately, Sam has been asking a ton of questions about how the baby gets out. She's extremely worried my stomach will explode the baby out, and I get that could seem like a legit fear at her age. Personally, I'm a little scared by the idea of a C-section myself, and that's hardy the baby "exploding" out, so I can only imagine how limited the options seem at 5. There's no exit!!!
Now, these are all normal things to be curious about, and she probably can't imagine the answers will be gross or potentially upsetting, so I'm not surprised nor upset she's asking them.
That doesn't mean I feel like answering them.

But, as I may have mentioned a time or two, deflecting Sam's questions is extremely hard to do for any extended period of time. She never forgets them. Minimizing information only seems to result in more follow-up questions. I figured I was either about to resort to a crazy lie about a cabbage patch (that she probably wouldn't buy), or I had to woman up and find a way to explain the truth that wouldn't be so gross or awe-inspiring she would feel the need to share the gory details at preschool's next show-and-tell. I often have a fear that some of Sam's more out-there questions will resurface and get me a call from the preschool teacher as Sam shares her new-found knowledge on various topics. I do not feel this fear is in the least bit irrational.

Finally, I found a video on Babycenter that seemed perfect. It was about labor and delivery, but it was computer-animation (therefore, no blood, screaming, or anything remotely traumatizing), and a side view cross-section (which pretty much eliminates Sam's ability to seek out or recognize equivalent parts on herself and worry about that). So it was all very academic, but would answer her questions.

Sure enough, Sam watched the video very intently, and as it got towards the end, she paused, looked at me and said "are they saying the baby is gonna come out that little tube?"

I said, "Yes."

Sam: "It's not gonna fit."

Me: "It stretches."

She wordlessly watched the rest of the video, made sure the baby would in fact make it out just fine. Then she turned to me with a deadpan face, said "Good luck" and walked away. She sounded exactly like the bad guy in Taken. She hasn't asked a single follow up question, or seemed upset at all in the days since.

Of course, there's always the option that she doesn't think for one minute that could possibly work in real life and I'll need all the luck I can get if I expect it to. I felt the same way when I first studied the reproductive system. Then again, I wasn't exactly five. Sam's always been advanced when it comes to skepticism and snark.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We're Just Very Friendly

Over the weekend, we took the opportunity to meet the new next-door neighbor who was moving in.
While we were chatting with her and with her dad who came from out of town to help her move, my usually somewhat shy, face-hiding son decided these people were a-ok, and wouldn't stop talking to them.
Then, he ran away for a while, came running back full tilt, yelled "Show 'em da belly, Mama!!!" and  yanked up my shirt for their benefit. Of course, I was pulling it down as much as I could and we had a fun little tug-of-war for a minute or so.
It is to our new neighbor's credit that she did not immediately turn that dolly around, re-load the Uhaul and slink away to saner pastures.
I certainly wanted to slink away. Just when you think your children have run out of ways to embarrass you, you learn you still had some dignity hiding in the corner you'd forgotten about. But you only realize its there as its leaving.

Welcome to the neighborhood. You'll find we are very friendly and love to share.
Sorry about that.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

And then...

Last night, Peyton came to me and said "I go pee pees from da wee wee!" (Sidenote: Thanks so much to daddy for teaching him that classy phrase.) Then he pointed at the toilet. Anxious to follow his lead, I said "You want to go in the big potty?" and he said "Yes!" so we went in the bathroom. We aren't trying to officially potty train him with a couple of weeks until a new baby comes, but if he's going to lead the way, I'm not going to tell him not to use the toilet. I am not insane.
He pulled the stepstool in front of the toilet and I took off his diaper. He stood there staring at the bowl for a while.
Then he said "I want da Elmo seat."
So I got out the Elmo potty seat and helped him sit down.
Then he sat there a while kicking his legs. After a minute or so, I asked if he was done and he said no and continued to just sit there.
Then he asked for some cars to play with. So I got him some cars, and he continued to sit there, playing with cars, doing nothing else.
Then he announced "I done!" which I assume meant done playing with cars because he still hadn't done a darn thing bodily function-wise. That didn't stop him from grabbing toilet paper to practice wiping, and then flushing the toilet.
Then I turned my back to get a new diaper and he took advantage of the opportunity to run away naked.
He ran into my bedroom, into my bathroom, and then, he peed on the floor squarely in front of my toilet.

And that, my friends, perfectly sums up why I hate potty training.
An exercise in frustration if ever there was one.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Rest and Relaxation

So, I bought this new little gadget to help me stay active after the baby comes, called a fitbit. One of the nutty little things it does is besides tracking steps and calories burned is to track my sleep.
That would be awesome, if it wasn't so darn depressing.
It tells you how long you slept and how many times you awakened during the night (like if you were tossing and turning and fidgeting, even if you don't remember it).
I've only had it two nights. The first night, it said I woke up 20 times. The second, it said 14.
The joys of late pregnancy!!!

I can hardly wait to see what it says when there's a newborn sleeping three feet from my bed. I'm betting it will be so sad it's funny. As a side note, whoever came up with the phrase "sleeping like a baby" should be publicly flogged. No one makes more noise, or wakes up more than a baby! Not even me when I'm super pregnant and apparently waking up 20 times a night.

Perhaps because I'm getting so little of the quality kind these days, I've become a little obsessed with sleep. I've been reading about helping babies sleep and sleep cycles (REM sleep vs. NREM sleep, etc.) All this research and in some cases, just fantasizing about sleeping, has led me to write my own sleep cycle.
This is my 9-month along sample pregnancy sleep cycle...keep in mind, this only includes the awakenings I'm aware of, so add in 10 or so more at random, just for funsies.
10:00pm: Set up insane pillow fort to attempt comfort (Mine requires five different pillows: Two under my head to prevent heartburn/nausea, one under my belly for support, one behind my back to stop pain, and a body pillow called a snoogle that is like a 8 foot snake to cover all areas not covered by the other four, including also going under my head so I have a three pillow tower).
10:05pm: Realize I have to pee/forgot to take my vitamin/didn't set my alarm. Try in vain to use the Force to summon spouse from downstairs for non-peeing tasks, give up and get out of bed.
10:10pm: Rebuild pillow fort
10:30pm: Fall asleep the first time
11:00pm: wake up with nausea or heartburn, despite three pillow tower. Debate whether getting up and rebuilding fort is worse than continued heartburn. Make decision and either lay awake wanting to puke, or get up, take a Tums and rebuild the fort. Lie awake waiting for meds to kick in.
12:00pm: Wake up with contractions and back pain. Debate flipping over, which is a five minute process. Spouse senses internal debate and flips over twice in a minute. Show off.
1:30am: Realize I have rolled about 15 degrees too far onto my arm (and tummy) and said arm is now dead asleep, attempt to correct the situation results in about 10-15 minutes of painful arm tingling and awake time. Wait until arm stops tingling to realize I have to pee. Upon return, rebuild pillow fort.
1:45am: Mom getting up to pee makes fetus wake up and want to party! Try to fall asleep during crazy fetus party. Luckily, bladder kicking is relatively ineffective since trip to bathroom.
3:45am: Awake from crazy horrifying nightmare. Realize odds of baby being born with multiple heads/in a stadium full of onlookers, or killer hunting down family/house exploding/etc. are probably very much in favor of not happening, but just in case get up and check on other two children. Return to bed and repeat fetus party and rebuilding of pillow fort.
4:45am: Pee break! Repeat fetus party, but tired of rebuilding the fort, opt out of belly pillow.
6:15am: Spouse is up to get ready for work. I realize the vital importance of belly pillow when I wake up with belly pain and contractions and frantically search the floor to get it back. Say goodbye to hubby, and finally, fall asleep like a bump on a log.
7:30am: Hear unmistakable sounds indicating other children are awake and the night is over. Good morning, Sunshine!

Repeat nightly, and resist the urge to punch anyone who says "You look tired!" daily. I'm almost at the finish line! Soon enough, it will be someone else's pee and poop breaks I get to deal with all night long.

Hmmm, when I put it like that, it seems strange to be this excited for it. Then again, nobody ever said parenting wasn't full of weird contradictions. I'm gonna go take a nap.

Friday, March 22, 2013

On the other hand

Daniel has caught himself a nasty cough and cold. In an effort to keep the germs confined so I don't catch it and cough out this baby prematurely, and to keep his coughing from waking me up during the precious few hours of sleep between pee breaks, he's been sleeping in Sam's room, and Sam's been sleeping either on an air mattress in the baby's room or in my bed. Whichever place strikes her fancy the night before. I'm not normally this loosey-goosey with sleeping arrangements, but I figure we kicked her off her turf and she was really nice about it, so in exchange, I'll give up a little control (if it kills me, which it might).
That how we got to last night, with Sam sleeping in my bed. Until about 4:30am, that is, when her eyes popped open and suddenly she was all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was unfortunately already awake with my mind racing about random stuff--as my mind tends to do. From 4:30 to 5:45, she giggled, and wiggled, randomly patted my back, turned her dream light on and off so my room was alternatively filled with stars and dark, and tried unsuccessfully to fall asleep.  Just before six, Daniel had to wake up to get ready for work, so things got really bad. She heard him come in and announced "Don't get scared mom, it's just daddy, getting in the shower before work."
"I know. I know. First of all, I've been wide awake this whole time, and second of all, this is what happens every morning. I know the drill." Of course, by this point I had to pee again, so Sam wanted to know why dad could be up, and I could be up (apparently however much I wished I wasn't didn't matter to her), and she couldn't be up! Then I heard rustling and talking over the baby monitor, even though it was still dark outside. Apparently this was going to be a party for the whole fam-damily. Peyton is usually pretty good about playing in his room until a reasonable hour, so I turned down the monitor and Daniel headed out the door telling Sam that if she couldn't go back to sleep so Mommy could get a little rest, she could go back to Presley's room and lay there until it was time to get up. Even though I'd told her the same thing 15 minutes before, threats from Mom means zippo next to threats from Dad, so she clammed right up and fell back asleep around 6:30. Peyton quieted back down too, meaning he had either gone back to sleep or found something other than his pesky toy hammer to occupy his time (the hammer being an early hour favorite!), so I could finally fall asleep again too.
But this was a school day, so the peace was not to be for long. When 8:00 rolled around, and the alarms went off, there were two very exhausted ladies who wanted none of it. I told Sam she had to get up for school, and the kid who was so gung ho about her alert state of mind at 5:00am was mean as a snake. "I don't want to get up! I don't care if I miss show and tell! Why can't I sleep longer?" You get the idea. At one point, when I tried to do her hair she cried because there was a cotton ball on the floor in front of my sink, and she didn't want to step on it because SHE WAS AFRAID OF IT. I kid you not. She cried and told me she was afraid of a cotton ball. That pretty much sums up our morning. We were running late because everything was a huge battle, and she was moving so slow because she was exhausted and the emotion roller coaster was on full speed.
She yelled at me because I had bought some of those moist wipes for the bathroom to help keep the kids a little cleaner, and she informed me that the wipes "make me poop more often and then I have to use the wipes more and I DON'T like them!" So of course, she couldn't brush her teeth in time because she had to take time to poop, which was my fault anyway, because I brought in the poop-inducing wipes. Again, I am not making this up. Maybe those things should come with a warning "Note: the mere presence of these wipes in your bathroom will alter the digestion of certain sensitive family members." I should sue.
That's how it went. We all have days like this from time to time, it happens, its hardly the end of the world. It's frustrating, but what are you going to do? For me, I just feel bad dropping Ms. Crabbypants off at school to be someone else's problem when she's like this (I also simultaneously feel incredibly grateful for the break, but who can blame me?), so I always apologize in advance if she's cranky. Last time she had a day like this and I warned Miss Carly ahead of time, when I went to pick her up, Miss Carly (who is a super sweet and wonderful teacher) informed me that even when I say Sam is having a bad day, she never misbehaves at school, so not to worry about it. She has never had a bad day at school. She has never been in trouble or had to sit in the cool down spot, or anything like that.
My mom reactions went something like this, usually in this order:
On the one hand: I'm glad she behaves at school. Really, I am. I don't want a bratty kid who can't control her emotions in public. I'm proud of her and proud to be raising a kid others can stand to be around.
On the other hand: What the heck, Sam? You can pull it out for your classmates and teacher, but you can't shake off the stink attitude for your mom and people who love you and have to spend all day with you? Can't you cut me a break!?
On the other hand: I get it. When I'm in a bad mood, do the young women I volunteer with deal with the fallout? Do my friends? Do the clerks at Wal-mart? No. My husband and kids do. If I'm spending all my energy trying not to lose it, I'm gonna exert that energy in public and when I come home and I feel safe around the people who love me anyway, that's when the guards come down and crap hits the fan. If I'm gonna sulk, no one is usually privy to it but them. I'm not going to tell some stranger he bagged my groceries wrong, no matter how flat the bread ends up, but you're darn right I'll point it out if Daniel if I find plastic dishes in the bottom half of the dishwasher, chances are I'll do it in terms far worse than the crime, to make up for my frustration about the bread. It's not fair, but in some ways, we all do it.
So, when I go to pick up Sam today, and Miss Carly tells me she was good (like she does every day), and then Sam gets in the car and pitches a fit about something insane, or cries at the drop of a hat, I'll try to remember my first reaction. I'll be glad she was able to hold it in for a little while, because I know how hard it is.  I'll be her soft place to land when she needs to erupt a little bit, because I do love her no matter what, and I can be there through thick and thin like her classmates won't. I'll remember that she is sleep-deprived today, just like me, and we're bound to bug each other a little bit.

Sam is just a person with a lot going on. Just like me. Just like everybody else.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Trials of Two

Just now, I heard Peyton burst into tears in the hallway by Sam's door. He was yelling "I locked OUT! I locked out!!!" through his tears.
Well, I'm hardly surprised by that turn of events. Sam was in there cleaning her room, and even at four (almost five!) she certainly understands the purgatory that is trying to clean with a two-year-old around. He seems to intuitively know how to most efficiently destroy your efforts, even though he doesn't mean to.
I went over and picked him up, gave him a hug, and said "I see, you are locked out, aren't you?"
Just then, Sam's muffled voice yelled through the door "I told him he could come visit for a minute, but I was cleaning, and after he stayed a while, he was messing up stuff and wouldn't leave when his visit was I had to do it!"
She thought she was in trouble, but I totally understand. We've talked to Sam before about how her room is her space and it's nice to play with her brother in there sometimes, but we understand that sometimes she also needs and wants her own space and that's okay. She also needs to respect Peyton's room as his own space. The problem is Peyton's room is upstairs and hers is right by the family room so no one seems to want to wander off to Siberia (if there's such a thing in a not-so-large-house) to play in his room. Besides, her room has all the good (read: easily choked on) toys he finds so irresistible.
I'm just feeling a little bad for my buddy-boo. It can't be easy to be barely two. You want to be in on everything. You think you are big enough to do everything, you talk a lot more than you could before, but you aren't big enough for most things and you can't communicate everything you'd like to--thus the tantrums. Plus, all the stuff you find to be the most fun, like throwing things, breaking things, shredding paper, is labeled "dangerous and destructive" by other people who clearly don't understand how satisfying loud crashes actually are!
Don't get me wrong, I know first-hand what a pill two-year-olds can be when you've got stuff to do. Yesterday I tried to iron with Peyton insisting on being underfoot and if that isn't a special form of psychological torture, I don't know what is!
But just for today, I guess, I'm feeling especially empathetic to my little guy who doesn't quite understand how little he is. Even though as I type this, he's sitting next to me picking all the sequins off Sam's homemade tambourine, and I know when Sam does finally emerge from  her room, it will get ugly in here. Can't blame the kid for wanting to explore and dismantle his world, can you? If it were my tambourine, I'd probably feel differently, so at least I'm feeling empathy for Sam too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

They've got my number

So, I've kind of been cracking up at the ads Facebook has been pretending are "suggested posts" on my newsfeed. Why, yes, who better to make a post about a particular beer than a pregnant Mormon? I should tell all my friends to buy this product I don't use! Thanks, Facebook, you're the best at giving me "ideas" on what to post.
I find fewer things more entertaining than when marketing departments seem to really miss the boat on something. I always picture a room full of guys like Don Draper sitting around trying to "get into the heads" of people they clearly have nothing in common with and zero idea about to get them to buy the product at hand, even though I'm pretty sure ad agencies probably aren't as much like Mad Men and my brain likes to pretend.
Today I found my favorite example of this ever.
On facebook, it "suggested" I share a post about tampons. Then it had a picture of a woman with a blissful look on her face that said "When you aren't worried about leaks, you can get back to doing more of the things you love." And, what, may you ask, does this woman love enough to get all blissful at the thought of doing more? Good question! This slender blonde woman was gracefully stepping of a bus, and behind her she was holding the hand of a child that appeared to be screaming. Perhaps they meant the little girl to look like she's laughing, but she was so far behind her mom, and the look on her red face suggested she was being dragged from the bus mid-tantrum rather than happily giggling behind her leak-free mother. 
Wow. These tampon people really got into the core of my mommyhood with that one. I can't think of anything I would love to do more of than ride public transportation with a tantruming child (Although, even riding a bus with a happy small child is pretty close to Nirvana, so only someone truly greedy needs the extra level of joy a public tantrum provides). Pure bliss! The only thing that could possibly turn this positive into a negative, would be a leaky tampon. It's like they are all mothers themselves! Perhaps, their next ad will feature a starry-eyed woman cleaning poop off of some white furniture, and then these wizards will have really nailed exactly why I love and choose this line of work as my life's effort.

I laughed really hard at that picture.

On a serious note, could these advertisers legitimately not come up with a heartwarming and moment of motherhood to showcase? Could they really not think of what a woman could possibly get out of this experience that would positive enough to want more of? Do they think so little of motherhood that screaming on a bus is just as good as anything thing else moms and kids do together? Assume we're all masochists anyway, whose lives are just moments ranging from heinously awful to slightly less horrendous? I've got to say, if that's really so, that makes me really sad. Yes, in motherhood there's poop (so much poop), and tantrums, and stressful situations, but that's not what we love and clamor for more of. There are so many rewarding moments in between. Dear ad people, if you really want to so see why I choose to be a mom, come follow us around for a few days. I'll show you the ropes and show you the actual "good stuff." Although I promise none of those experiences will involve me taking my two year old on a bus, specifically because I'm not a masochist.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Paging Dr. Mom

Since I just posted about how different my kids are from each other. I figured I'd cite an example I'd noticed lately, and that is in how my son and daughter approach medical care, particularly in regards to injuries.
If Sam gets hurt, she has always needed a bunch of extra cuddles, some serious love from Mom through her tears, and band aids. So many band aids. Character band aids. Regular band aids. Big and small band aids. Dr. Suess could have written a book "Oh, the Band Aids You'll Need!" The amount of bandaids has nothing to do with bleeding, or the extent of the injury so much as the personal emotion behind the injury. The more personally upset by it, the more band aids required. Even if she finds an old injury that she has no memory of getting, if she's upset she overlooked it--she's going to want a band aid to rectify her negligence, I call these "guilt-induced band aids." She also needs to be reassured that she is not going to die, won't get blood on anything, and that she will heal eventually. She needs regular inspections of her injuries (real or imagined) throughout the healing process. If she has a fall that doesn't result in injury, but she's afraid it could have under other circumstances, she will need a hug to get over her "near miss." She has been like this ever since she was a toddler learning how to walk. Whether that comes from being a girl, a parent of a paranoid first-time parent, just her own ingrained personality, or more likely some combo of the above, is a matter that could be debated all day.
Then there's Peyton. If Peyton falls down, he gets up and continues doing precisely what resulted in injury in the first place. If he falls down really hard, he might rub whatever hurts and say "ow" before continuing to do the same thing that got him hurt in the first place. If he drops something on a body part, he says "whoops." If he gets really hurt to the point that it actually slows him down, he will come over and wordlessly shove the sore body part up to my lips. Apparently this means "I need mom to kiss this better." If I don't get the memo, he will point to it, say "owie!" and shove the hurt in my face again. Once he gets the kiss, he happily runs away. Sometimes, we find very minor cuts or hangnails, etc, that have drawn blood, but it's long since dried and neither he nor I know from whence it came. On occasion, he manages to get hurt to the point that he does draw a decent amount of blood and he does need some mommy loves. This happened yesterday, he fell down and cut his eyebrow on the edge of the coffee table. Not deep enough for stitches, but faces bleed a lot, and it clearly hurt (this particular injury would have laid Sam out for a minimum of three hours). He came over for a hug, I held him and kissed him, and got a tissue to mop of the blood to make sure it stayed out of his eyes and off my shirt. By the time I got the tissue, he was over his need for love and wanted to go play. He really hates when I wipe his nose or his face. Trying to dab the active bleeding resulted in him kicking, crying, and screaming to "Get down!" Not out of pain or fear, mind you, entirely out of desire to go back to what he was playing with and get out of my arms and away from a tissue. He managed to squiggle away and I had to chase him down with the tissue three more times until the blood had clotted enough that I was no longer afraid he'd get it on my couch, which by then he was rolling on and jumping off as if nothing had happened. All told, he easily cried 10 times as long about me trying to stop the bleeding and holding him longer than his preference as he did about the actual injury. The only times he mentioned the injury after was if he would rub his eye and say "ow. whoops." having realized it was still sore to the touch.
So, yes, my kids are very different from each other, and Dr. Mom has to be very aware of that in my approach to treatment. The real question is: "Is there a middle ground between the hypochondriac Band Aid queen of the universe, and Mr. Courageous to the point of bleeding on the furniture?" Because I'd really like to find it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I Am Not the Same

It's interesting to me what jumps out at you at particular times in your life. Lately, as I've been reading anything about parenting, I've noticed a lot of comments along the lines of "kids are just different from each other. I've been the same with both (or all three, or whatever) of my kids, but they handled things (potty training, sleep, school, etc) differently, and different approaches work with different children."
Now, I am not about to dispute that kids show up with their own personalities. My kids were  radically different from the first hour of their lives (beginning with Peyton sleeping through his entire first day of life including his shots and medical procedures, while Sam opened her eyes, lifted her head, and from that moment forward, declared sleeping optional), and that has carried through their personalities to this day. A huge amount of what works or doesn't work for kids depends on the actual kid involved and their reaction to it.
What I find unlikely is the assertion that "I was the same for all my kids." I flat out do not believe that's possible. You may very well have used the same basic method for all your children, you may have used sleep training with all your kids, started potty training at the same time, what have you, but I simply do not believe the nuances of how we implement these procedures does not change from child to child. Pretty much whenever a significant person comes into your life, they leave you changed in ways large or small. When you a personally responsible for all of that persons wants and needs, and your decisions center around their well-being, you can not remain unchanged by the experience. People change over time. People are changed by environment. People are changed by available resources. It is strange to assume that having encountered at least two of those factors from child to child (other people and time, assuming we aren't discussing multiple births), and usually all four (people, time, environment, and resources), you remain utterly unchanged.
What I find even stranger about this assertion is that there seems to be a certain pride taken in that fact by the people who state it. Why? What is right or wrong about admitting that the passage of time, acquisition of knowledge, variance of experience, alteration of resources, and even a natural response to the way we react to different personalities has changed who you are and how you approach life, and consequently, each child in your home? It's a natural process to change, and everyone goes through it, why bother taking pride in a perceived, or at least proclaimed, lack of change in yourself?

I, for one, readily admit that parenthood has changed me. The fundamentals may not of have changed, I didn't change religions or core beliefs or my career in the time between Sam and Peyton, Peyton and present, but I am different. I learned how to preform the basics of parenting like diapers and feedings, with ease and confidence. Learning I could love another person completely and unconditionally, even when that person is very capable of being frustrating beyond reason, had softened a lot of my hard edges before Peyton even came along to continue the process. Other edges have become razor sharp, like the mama grizzly protective instinct in me.
I don't care what other people think if I know I'm doing what's right for my family and child--but that came after learning not everyone will like or agree with your parenting decisions through first-time mom bumps and bruises.
Since Sam was born, we went from a two income household with disposable income (ah, I remember that!), to a one income house that has seen ups and downs in this economy and had some very stressful times. After Peyton was born, we relocated, and that was hard for me emotionally, and was a major change in our environment.
I've made mistakes I didn't want to repeat, so I potentially went too far the other way. I've reacted to and in many ways balanced out the changes in my spouse brought on by these same factors that altered me.
In recent years, I've developed frequent and severe migraines, that I wish didn't have an effect on our day to day life, but they do, and have had a major impact throughout this pregnancy. Physical changes definitely have an impact.
I have made new friends, had old ones move or even pass away, and dealing with those losses definitely colors the lens through which I see and interact with my kids.
From a practical standpoint, Peyton's schedule has had to revolve around Sam's schedule in ways Sam's schedule never had to revolve around anyone but herself! She never had her naptime interrupted by a preschool pick up, but with Peyton, well he got used to sleeping in the car early in the game. He had to. Our world was more complicated and busy for him than it was for Sam. Even if I still wanted to hold him through all his naps and be his constant and only playmate (which I no longer think is a great idea anyway), I simply could not have done so. External factors had sprung up to make such a thing impossible.
I feel things more deeply.  I am hurt on a personal level with a perspective I didn't know I had been lacking, when I see other children suffering.  I'm more physically tired, but spiritually, I feel I've grown stronger. I have had experiences that have driven me to my knees in prayer and brought my relationship to God closer, and that effects every aspect of my life, but especially my relationship with my family. I know I'm different in other ways I don't even realize, and possibly never will. I don't have time for the kind of self-awareness that would require, I've got nearly three kids!

I've changed. In many many ways for the better, in some ways for the worse. Looking at these potentially thousands of changes in my life over the past few years, of varying sizes and degrees, even if I do the same process and same day to day things, can I say I did them exactly the same? Have I had the same attitude, confidence, or skill? Can I even say the same woman will be raising Sam and Peyton's baby sister as the one who raised Sam and many ways yes, but in some ways, perhaps not. All I really know is, just as my children are not the same person in a far more obvious way, I am not the same person with each of them.  In my mind, not only is that okay, but it encapsulates the entire reason we are here on earth--to learn, to grow, and to change. I really do believe, that for whatever reason, Samantha needed to be raised as an infant by the mom I was in 2008, but Peyton's babyhood needed the mom I was in 2011, and Presley will need the mom I will be in 2013...and if I'm not the mom they need, again I will change to become so. I've become tremendously sure that staying exactly the same is the only option we don't possess.

Parenthood is one of the most transformative experiences this life has to offer. Embrace the changes.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Silence is trouble, but so is noise

Today, I locked my bedroom door with Peyton in there with me so I could get ready for the day without him wandering through the house. This way, even if I was using the blow dryer or something and couldn't hear him, I knew he was close.
After a few minutes of quiet, I said "Hey buddy, how you doing?"
Radio silence.
I know from mommy experience that when you know the kids are near, but they aren't making any noise, something not good is happening.
Sure enough, I came around the corner and found him in the corner of my bedroom, knuckle deep into my cherry Chapstick. Apparently, it is delicious.

After I took away the tube, and since I was done with the blow dryer, I decided to open the door. This way, maybe he would have access to more toys and actually play with something he was allowed to have instead of finding things of mine! (This was a stupid theory, I really don't know why it seemed like it would work at the time).

A few minutes later, I hear "Thump!" and a loud crinkling sound at the bottom of the stairs. And then again, "Thump! Crackle! Thump! Crackle!" it was getting closer, which means something was coming up the stairs. Something loud and covered in cellophane. I walked out just in time for Peyton to slam his hand down on the very top stair (Thump!), and in his other hand, he flopped down a package of oreos, partially squishing the plastic tray in the process (Crackle!). When he saw my feet and looked up to see my face, he said "Hi mom. Have one? Have one please?"

Apparently, he'd used his two minutes of freedom to get downstairs, open the pantry, find the cookies, climb on a chair to get them, and bring them back up to me to ask for them. On the plus side, he brought them to me instead of just opening them and eating them (Thankfully, there were only three left in there, so it's not like he would have eaten himself sick, but on the other hand, who the heck leaves three measly oreos behind?). Clearly, however, nothing in our home is safe from this guy, and his toddler-y desire to get everything he sees or wants is now combining with the expanded physical skills and abilities of an older child.  It's the perfect storm of Peyton! Heaven help us all!

I also learned that silent Peyton is bad, and mystery noise Peyton is also bad. Basically, I assume a disaster is about to go down unless I can physically observe otherwise. Age two is going to be an adventure!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Samantha and the bee

Yesterday, Sam spent some time playing outside. It's been very warm, even for AZ, so she was sitting in the shade of the porch drawing with sidewalk chalk when she reappeared by my side. I'd like to say that I was very patient and loving, but yesterday, I was trying to sew a baby shower gift with a busted down sewing machine, so things weren't going well at all. In other words, I was neither surprised nor upset that Sam sought refuge out of doors.
But suddenly, she was back, and she had a question: "Mom, how to you spell 'No Bees?'"
Me: "You want to spell 'no bees?' What for?"
Sam: "There is a bee outside, and it's bothering me. I want to write 'no bees' on the sidewalk so he knows to stay out of my side of the yard."
Me: "Oh. Well, that's a very good goal, but Sam, bees can't read."
Sam rolled her eyes and looked kind of disgusted with me. "I KNOW bees can't read, mom. But they can UNDERSTAND things, so he'll fly over, see the words, and know that I don't want him around. Then he'll go away."
Me: "Well, here's the thing, Sam. The only way a bee will understand what the words say is if he reads them, and bees can't read, so..."
Sam cut me off: "I know bees can't read! But they can UNDERSTAND things!"
Me: "Actually, Sam, they really can't..."
Sam was very frustrated "I KNOW BEES CAN'T READ!"
I was frustrated myself at this point so instead of continuing the argument I just barked out "N! O!..."
and she ran outside to write her message for the bee. While Sam has gotten really quite good at writing individual letters, she tends to be more free form with her approach to order and spacing. She figures as long as all the letters are on the page/space, it's all good. She's been known to run out of room writing her name on a line so the remaining letters go where ever she feels needs some color. It's very cute, and funny, and yes, we're working on it before kindergarten.
A minute or so later, next to her pictures, there were large capital letters spelling out "SEEB ON!" I was just happy they were on the same line, even though there was no way even if a literate bee existed, it could "understand" it.
But I'd been put in my place, so she could deal with it.
Sure enough, about five minutes later, I hear Sam's breathlessly screaming "Help! The bee didn't get the message! HE'S CHASING ME!!!!" Then she ran in, closed the back door and stood there, catching her breath, and holding sidewalk chalk in her fist she'd been in too big a hurry to drop. "I think I'll stay inside for a while. He didn't get the message." She sheepishly set the chalk down and walked away.
So, I got a pretty good laugh out of that one. The bee, who probably wasn't even actually chasing her either, might have gotten a laugh too, had he been capable of understanding the situation.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Peyton spent most of last week sick as a dog. He was uncharacteristically cranky, he had a fever, and he just wanted to cuddle, when he wasn't trying to claw my eyes out. There was no telling when the loving cuddles would turn into eye clawing, so even though I love cuddles, I was more than a little flinchy when he would come over for some love. Seriously, he managed to draw blood from himself and his dad with his tantrums, clawing, and scratching. I'm lucky to be alive, people!
By some miracle, Sam did not catch it (and so far no one else has either, knock on wood), but because she was cooped up inside except for those blessed few preschool hours, and Peyton was in a shockingly bad mood, they basically spent five days at each others throats. Sam would get in his face, I would tell her to back off so she didn't make him mad or get sick herself, he would freak out and start screaming, and round and round we go. We pretty much didn't leave the house (or car for preschool dropoff/pickup) until Friday night. Wait, that's not actually true, on Thursday night, we tried to go to the store together for groceries, and that was simply a horrible experience that none of us want to remember or repeat. Although his symptoms were better, Peyton's mental state clearly was not. It was a ghastly couple of hours, and I was slightly traumatized, which is probably why I totally blocked it out.
To make matters worse, this just happened to be the rare Saturday Daniel was assigned to work a full shift, so by the time Peyton was feeling better on the weekend, I was so battle-weary and exhausted (see above ill-fated shopping trip) that I couldn't work up the energy or courage to take them anywhere that day either. Sunday was fine with church and stuff, but I had some extra meetings so we didn't go to grandmas like usual so it was pretty much another cooped-up day.
That brings us to today, which is technically a holiday, so no preschool for Sam, but too small a holiday for us to pass up a full day of overtime pay for Daniel, so once again, both kids, all day, no school, no reinforcements. One of Sam's friends called and asked her to come over and play. I almost kissed the mom, but I didn't want to do anything that would jeopardize the playdate, so I refrained.
I dropped Sam off for a couple of hours and hopped back in the car, glad she could get some time for fun out of the house, and I could get some alone time with just Peyton, now that he's back to human behavior. I got back in the car and I hear a little voice behind me say "Where Sama go?"
"Sam went to play with a friend for a while." I said happily.
Peyton started to get sniffly and said "Sama friend? Sama back?"
I said "She'll be back soon. After lunch!"
Peyton geared up the pathetic voice and said "Want Sama back! Sama back!"  He whined the whole way home about wanting his Sama back.

Figures. He'd rather fight with her than get along with anyone else. It's a sibling thing.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Third Time's the Charm

I've been thinking a lot lately about the differences between a first pregnancy and a third. It started when my official "Baby app" popped up a checklist and the item for week 14 said to "take a break from all the baby prep chores" and focus on being a couple with your partner. During my first pregnancy, I would have taken that advice very seriously, and forced myself to put aside what I was doing to get ready for baby (and I probably had a big list) and dutifully asked for an official date night, even though Daniel and I already spent every evening together. With this pregnancy, however, I instead wracked my brain trying to figure out what baby related chores I was supposed to have been doing? I couldn't come up with squat I had done or would have wanted to do this early in the game. Unless you count trying not to puke as a "chore" I had nothing, and didn't see how I could "take a break" from that anyway (if I could have, I would have done so and made it permanent). I found the whole thing quite funny, actually.
First and second pregnancies are different in a multitude of ways, but for me, they could be summed up in one word--GUILT.  Guilt that I wasn't going to be spending as much time with kid #1 after kid #2 showed up, guilt that I wasn't going to be giving all the same newborn attention to #2. Guilt about time spent on the sofa feeling lousy, guilt about chasing around a toddler on days I was supposed to be "taking it easy" for baby #2.  Guilt that buying stuff for baby #2 had a way tighter budget than baby #1. You get the idea. Lots of guilt. Boatloads of mommy guilt.  You name it, I felt bad about it, and worried about it. Nothing all that humorous there.
Baby #2 came, and life (predictably to the non-hormone riddled) managed not only to go on but was enriched, and all that guilt and worry turned out to be a massive waste of time. Having a sibling has been a great thing for both my kids that will (hopefully) benefit them throughout their lives.  Of course, being a mom, I didn't want to jettison all my mommy guilt, and potentially lose my modern mommy card, but I channeled it into different areas that I will someday realize are equally unproductive (but that day is not today, darn it, and you can have my guilt when you pry it from my cold dead hands!). Now that baby #3 is well on the way, I've mellowed even more as a mom. I have more experience with the process, I have more perspective on what's really important, but perhaps most helpful of all, I have more exhaustion that breeds just a healthy enough amount of apathy. I am not the overly-vigilant, baby book devouring, early baby-proofing, hypochondriac stress ball I was the first time around, and I think that's a good thing. So here are the differences I've discovered between number 1 and number 3. Maybe some of you can relate, others can judge me and feel superior, and some can maybe mitigate some of that guilt they might have about the future. I live to serve.

"How far along are you?"
Baby #1: "I'm 22 weeks 2 days, and my baby is the size of a spaghetti squash, crown to rump! She can hear my voice!"
Baby #3: "uhhhhh, I'm 18, no, wait, 20...hold on, I have an app on my phone for that. I'm 22 weeks! Wow, seriously? When did that happen? Going by so fast...oh crap, that means the glucose test is coming up."

"When are you due?"
Baby #1: "I'm due May 3rd, and this kid better not come late because my mother is flying in on May 2nd to help me at the birth!"
Baby #3: "Sometime in late April/Early May. My kids don't really believe in due dates."
***My personal favorite example of this is when I had to rush from a table at a restaurant due to morning sickness. While I was debating if my nausea was a bluff or not in the bathroom, the waitress asked if everything was okay with the food. Daniel told her everything was fine, but I was just expecting so I wasn't eating much at that time. She said "Congrats, when is she due?" and Daniel drew a total blank. He eventually came up with "Uh, Spring." Then to explain his vagueness, added, "It's still pretty early." He said he just panicked. I laughed. It was like 12-13 weeks in. Another 3rd time dad told me his wife's due date but when I talked to her about it, he was totally wrong by nearly a month. Apparently mommy brain is not a mommy only affliction.

Feeling Sick
Baby #1: Run-walk to the bathroom at work, taking different routes every few times so no one realizes just how often you're going. Especially the boss.
Baby #3: "All right kids, who wants to watch a whole lot of movies and Dora's today while mommy lies on the couch wishing she were in a coma?"

Nausea and Vomiting
Baby #1: Hubby dances around nervously expressing concern and asking what he can "do" to help. He brings you crackers and tucks you into bed to rest.
Baby #3: Child #1 keeps coming into the bathroom asking if 1) she can catch barfing, and 2) are you going to die? Child #2 pokes you in the eye and wants to play in the toilet. If hubby is home, his only job is to keep other offspring as far from mommy as humanly possible.

Food choices
Baby #1: "Every bite I eat is a bite for the baby too, I have to make them as healthy as possible!" Then reality and cravings sink in and you end up where you simply start with Baby #3, which is
"Pizza night again! Yea for daddy picking it up! (whispers to hubby) Maybe after the kids go to bed, you'll go get me a butterfinger blizzard, medium size? What am I saying, 'maybe' and 'medium'? Ha!"

Gender issues
Baby #1: "All we want is a healthy baby, boy or girl."
Baby #3: "Well, I have the stuff for both by now, so whatev." The difference is subtle, but it's there. *If you don't have one of each, everyone assumes you want whatever you don't have. This is pretty much the only socially acceptable time to indicate a gender preference, so if you have one, express away!

Body Image
Baby #1: "I am so fat, I had to go up to 'fat pants' and I'm only 14 weeks! I'll be in maternity pants in no time. I'm a whale!" Insert sobbing here.
Baby #3: Cracking out the maternity pants at 5 weeks. "It may not be great for the ego, but they are so comfy!" Please, someone tell me this is not just me, my kids love to make their presence known alarmingly early and then grow into the comfy mansion they've built for themselves.

Baby #1: Weekly "bump" pictures posted on all forms of social media.
Baby #3: Honestly, most of this "bump" is actually leftover from #2, so there is no freaking way I'm going to isolate it, memorialize it, and share it with the world. Feel badly about this at very end of pregnancy and take official "bump" picture on the way to the hospital.

Fetal Development
Baby #1: Sing and talk to baby in soothing tones. Desperately try to let baby to come into a warm and loving environment and instantly recognize mommy's calm and loving tone. Force Daddy to have long one-sided conversations with stomach so baby will recognize him as well.
Baby #3: Secretly know baby will mostly recognize sound of you screaming at siblings to please find their shoes and they wouldn't have this problem if they would just use the basket we bought FOR THAT PURPOSE!!!  Is worried baby's first cognitive connection is with the phrase "We are going to be late!" Realizes that even if this is the case, baby will still not be punctual as a child.

Following instructions
Baby #1: Refuses to carry anything weighing over 10 lbs, because doctor suggested keeping it under 50 lbs, and you can never be too careful.
Baby #3: Carries squirming toddler, gigantic diaper bag full to bursting, plus whatever came home from preschool that inexplicably can not be carried by person who carefully created it. Is that considered "heavy lifting?" Doesn't matter, no available alternative.

Aches and Pains
Baby #1: "I'm not sure what that twinge was, should I call the doctor just in case?" Continues with 30 minute internal debate that ultimately results in a call to the doctor.
Baby #3: "Ouch, that hurt. Man, pregnancy sucks." Goes about business as usual unless things get progressively worse.

Biggest Worries about Labor
Baby #1: "What if my water breaks in public? What if I can't get an epidural? (Or "what if I have to get an epidural/c-section?" if you're into the whole natural thing) What if something goes wrong? What if the hospital sends me home with false labor and I'm embarrassed?"
Baby #3: "What if the babysitter doesn't get here in time to watch the other kids and I have to take them to the hospital with me!?"

May your pregnancies be healthy, safe, and in a perfect world, guilt-free! Happy New Year, and if you made it through this whole monster post, congratulations, also, there is a good chance you are my mother!