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We ran away! (But we came back.)

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Gareth and Emmeline are playing at Bik-Bik’s house. They prefer going alone because they get spoiled more when I’m not around. Only their grandparents are truly capable of giving them the love and admiration they feel they deserve. Josh and I are just here to spoil their fun most of the time. Josh is working the evening shift tonight, so we decided at the last minute that I’d drive him in so we could go out for a quick lunch date. When you have small children, spontaneity is extremely rare and much appreciated. Nothing makes my day quite as much as, “Hey, the kids aren’t here. You want to go out to lunch/dinner/coffee?” 

Josh’s carefree nature was one of the first things I loved about him (you know, back before we were dating, when we were “just friends”). He broke me from my addiction to post-it notes. I had every list, calendar, dispenser, tape, and cutesy hot pink thought-bubble shaped sticky pad imaginable. I was a bit of a planner. Josh balanced me out with his attitude of, “So what if it’s not on your to-do list? Let’s go spend two hours browsing the bookstore. I’ll buy you coffee!” 

Of course, that all changed when we became parents. Thankfully Josh’s spontaneity wasn’t the only thing I loved about him because otherwise we would probably not still be married. I remember how hard that first year was. I spent a lot of time crying about how it seemed to take two weeks of planning just to make a quick run to Wal-mart. Sometimes I still feel like that: “So I’m going to go to Sam’s and Publix on Thursday, and Friday I’ll go to Aldi and Kroger. Can you make sure I wake up early so I have enough time to get there and back before you need to leave for work?” But five years and a couple kids later, I expect it, and I don’t cry about it (much). And as a side note, Josh was very thankful for my uber-planner side when his life was crazy with grad school. Unfortunately, by that point everything was on Google calendar so I never had any excuses to buy post-it notes. Sad.

It comes down to this: If you are about to become a parent, your dating life is about to be very. very. different. It’s OK if you want to cry about it. And for everyone else, here’s my helpful suggestion: If you really want to show love to young parents, call them up at the last minute and surprise them with free babysitting. They will love you forever. You will be their hero. They will talk about it for months. “Remember when so-and-so offered to babysit completely out of the blue? They’re so nice. We should bring them cupcakes/macaroons/whatever dessert is trendy right now.” 

Sleep, sleep, my kingdom for some sleep

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I wasn’t planning on writing anything tonight. But when I sat down to watch TV, Gareth, the resident bedtime drama queen, started screaming bloody murder because “Your gro’mup show HURTS MY EARS!!” And I’ve learned that I can’t win that battle. So I’m sitting in a quiet room waiting for him to fall asleep. I’m also caffeinating, since Josh won’t be home until later tonight and I don’t like to fall asleep until he’s back. When he works nights I really miss having our German shepherd mix in the backyard.

Josh rolls my eyes when I refer to Gareth as a drama queen. Even though he totally is one, and “drama king” or a gender neutral “overly dramatic person” just don’t have the same ring. Boys can be just as overdramatic as girls can be. Everyone says Gareth will outgrow this before he goes to college, but I’m not so sure. His dorm applications might say “Can’t fall asleep without cuddles. Can’t sleep on dirty sheets. Will flip a lid if someone is watching TV while he’s trying to sleep. Has woken up at least once almost every night since he was born.” 

I read a blog post that was aimed at mothers of newborns, and in an effort to be encouraging it said something like, “Don’t worry, this period won’t last forever. Your baby is going to start sleeping through the night eventually.” My first thought was, “HA! That’s if you got one of the good ones.” But of course it’s not nice to scare off the parents-to-be. Best to just let them find out on their own that they may never get a good night’s sleep for the rest of their lives. OK, I’m sure that’s not true. But it might be a few years. 

Gareth is a very cute, charming child. He’s bubbly and affectionate. He loves smiling for his picture. He’s funny, silly, and ticklish. Since he’s the baby, I tend to fuss over him more than his big sister. It’s unintentional, and I do try to be fair with compliments and affection, but honestly it comes easier with Gareth because he seeks it out. (Emmeline is a super-cuddler, but you have to remember to initiate it.) All that to say, since Gareth is the baby he gets most of the “Oh he’s so cute and happy and charming!” But while he may be great at emotionally manipulating you into thinking he’s all kisses and giggles all the time, let me just say, that he. is. a. horrible. sleeper. 

When I write blog posts I ask myself, “Would I want my teenage kids coming back and reading this?” And that generally keeps me from complaining about them too much. But I just want to say, Teenage Gareth, if you are reading this, it has been almost three years and you have not gone a solid week without waking your poor mother and father up at night. You refuse to spend  the night at anyone else’s house, and your Aunt Alyssa is the only other person in the world who can get you to fall asleep quickly (be extra nice to her, because by the time you’re in your teens she has probably babysat you a lot for just that reason). We love you to the moon and back, but we are tired. And you owe us, Son. So get a good job, because when the early dementia sets in due to chronic sleep deprivation, we’re sending you the medical bills. Of course, by that point, your older sister will probably be running the world, so stay on her good side and maybe she’ll loan you the money to pay them. 

Gareth is asleep now, so I’m going to go scoot my recliner very close to the television and turn my “gro’mup show” on at a very low volume. 

12 Weeks

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Baby Size: A lime. We went to hear the heartbeat this week, and in addition to the heartbeat, the doctor pointed out noises that meant baby was kicking. It’s still too early to feel anything, but it’s nice to know there’s a healthy, growing baby in there.

Foods i’m loving: Carrots and ranch dip, pastries (I keep craving chocolate croissants and cheese danishes), Jeni’s ice cream. Jeni’s is so rich a little goes a long way. I can barely finish one 1/2 cup serving.

Foods i’m hating: Onions. Henceforth they shall be stricken from all recipes. I can do some leftovers now, but not too many.

Sleep: I’ve got a little bit more energy now, so I can make it through the day without having to nap. That’s encouraging.

Symptoms: Still nauseated but not as much as before. I have a lot of back pain when I’m pregnant (chronic back problems and pregnancy don’t mix), and that has already started to get worse. I’m used to managing it though, and I can usually find the right mix of rest, exercise, and heating pads.

What i miss: Meal planning, oddly enough. I’ve pretty much given up on that, since I don’t really know what food is going to sound good from one day to the next. I’ve tried a couple of times to just eat food anyway because it’s what I had planned for the evening or because I didn’t want to waste leftovers, but it leaves me sick every time, so I’d rather just take it one or two days at a time. Also, I miss advil. I have an awful sinus headache today, and I just want some Ibuprofen.

What i’m looking forward to: In a couple of weeks I’ll be in the second trimester which means I’ll start feeling better. Putting food aversions behind me will make life easier.

Emotions: Optimistic. I’m so thankful I’m not working full time. It has taken a lot of the emotional pressure off of me this pregnancy. It’s nice not to feel like I have to perform a job to someone else’s expectations. Being a stay-at-home-mom has its challenges, but since I’m my own boss I get to decide what I’m capable of accomplishing in a day. Sometimes I wake up feeling miserable and knowing that my productivity will be limited to keeping everyone fed and making sure we all nap. I’m at peace with that even if I do wish those days never happened. When I was pregnant and working, I couldn’t just decide, “This week I’m not going to do any work at all, but I am going to take long lunch breaks, nap for 2-hours each day, and go home early.” With the first two pregnancies I was in denial about how it would affect my productivity level–mostly because I had a full-time job to perform regardless–but my energy levels aren’t the same because everything I’m doing right now–even sleeping–I’m doing while I grow a human being. I can never stop multitasking. Admitting that to myself and adjusting my expectations accordingly has left me happier in my third pregnancy. Overall I haven’t been the depressed, anger-ball I was the first two times.

Family life: The impending arrival of another child has woken me up to how much I do for the kids each day. I baby Emmeline a good bit, and  that needs to stop. So I’m trying to do better about:
1. Teaching her to do chores and help with housework
2. Velcro her own sneakers (Yes. She can’t even do Velcro herself. Mom fail.)
3. Towel herself off after her baths.
I’m also trying to be more intentional about making her share her room with Gareth. The new baby will probably go in her room, so I want her to stop thinking of it as all hers. And don’t feel sorry for her, because she has two hours of alone play every day, so the child gets plenty of space and privacy.

We’re also easing into potty training Gareth. We haven’t taken away his diapers yet, but we need to soon because he’s taken to it pretty easily. I hope he’s easier to train than his sister was. It would be nice not to have two in diapers this September!

Valentine’s Day

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Josh started a new job, and he’s been working a lot of nights. I’m still getting used to his new schedule. The kids see him a lot more since he’s home in the mornings, but I’m usually a sleepy, sick, pregnant grouch in the mornings, so it’s not exactly lovey-dovey quality couple time. Although he’s always good about waking up first with the kids so I can get a little extra sleep. He’ll turn on cartoons and feed them and come back to snooze for an extra hour. I try not to kick him out of bed when he climbs back in next to me after I’ve already migrated to the middle of the mattress and no longer want to share. 

The kids are spending the afternoon having Valentine’s fun with their grandma (“Bik-Bik”), doing crafts and eating heart shaped pizza. I had the house to myself and thought I’d nap, but ended up spending two hours reading instead. Then I looked up, realized it had started raining at some point, and I was reading a book in a completely dark house with all the curtains shut. I find quiet and isolation relaxing, but every once in a while a little voice in my head will say, “Turn some lights on, and stop being creepy.” By the way, the book is Gone Girl, and it has sucked me in. It has more language than I’m comfortable with, but by the time the cussing got really bad, I was so hooked on the story it didn’t matter anymore. So far the twists in the story have all lived up to the book’s hype.  

For Christmas Josh asked for tank slippers, and it is a very long, complicated pattern that I started sometime in November and didn’t get finished for Christmas. So I thought I’d make them his Valentine’s Day present instead, but every time I work on them I get cross-eyed and nauseated, so they may end up being an Easter present instead. I told him I was determined to finish them even if they killed me, and they very well might. 

And Josh is working again tonight, so it’ll probably be butter noodles for dinner and an early bedtime for the kids and more quiet, quiet, quiet for me until Josh gets home. I don’t mind the quiet most of the time. Sometimes it gets to me after dark, and I wish I wasn’t allergic to dogs so we could keep a nice, semi-threatening German Shepherd mix lurking around (like the one we had to give up who was loving and loyal and smart but could also kill a possum and come out of the fight completely unscathed). I’ll just have to content myself with the neighbor’s cat who wanders over into our backyard and kills the mice for us. 

So nothing super exciting or romantic to report for Valentine’s Day over here, just a big helping of real life. But I suppose someone who will still stay married to you even though you nag him, hog the bed, compulsively over-dramatize the benign details of daily life, and change your mind about what your love language might be almost as often as you change your socks is better than some drug store chocolates. And actually, we are going out tomorrow night. Josh promised he’d take me out to dinner and be chatty. 

9 Weeks Pregnant

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Baby Size: A Grape. I wanted to plan ahead and have something to show Emmeline each week, so she could see how big the baby was, but I’ve been so sick and tired it hasn’t happened yet. 

 
Foods i’m loving: Strawberries, sometimes pickles, Lipton Nooble Soup, hummus (but only the blandest flavors) and pita chips, and Girl Scout cookies (except not the actual Girl Scout cookies but the cheap Keebler knock-offs), also whatever might appeal to me at a random moment when a food whim strikes. 

Foods i’m hating: Leftovers, the right food at the wrong time, the wrong food at the right time, anything too salty, sugary, garlicky, spicy, dairy-ey, anything too anything. 

Sleep: All the naps! This is completely unscientific (you’re shocked), but I figure since I’m sleeping for two, and a normal adult needs 8 hours, I’ll just double that number. But yes, if I can get a tight 12-16 hours then I can function like a normal, non-pregnant person.  

Symptoms: I don’t have a sensitive gag reflex, so I rarely throw up–even when I get the stomach flu. Nausea for me is this constant, pressing, dizzying feeling that never goes away. Although I am taking medicine for it now that has taken the edge off some.  

What i miss: Pregnancy hormones make me feel like someone has flipped on a crazy switch in my brain, and they won’t flip it back off for 9 months. I miss having normal emotional reactions to daily life. It’s a full-time job (for which I don’t have the energy) just trying not to be the crazy pregnant lady who cries and screams at the drop of a pin and is convinced no one loves her and she’s horrible and greasy and mean and alone.    

What i’m looking forward to: It’s going to be so much fun to share this pregnancy with Emmeline and Gareth. Emmeline is old enough now to have some understanding of what’s going on, so even though this is my 3rd go round, everything is new and exciting again through Emmeline’s eyes. She likes finding out how big the baby is getting, she’ll get to come to the 20-week ultrasound for the first time, and she can’t wait to see Mommy’s belly get big. Gareth is just his usual funny, little brother self. I told him I had a baby in my tummy, and he shone a flashlight down my throat and called, “Baby? Baby!” then he told someone I was having a baby monster because, “Mommy ate ‘da baby.” Now he’s over the whole thing and when I talk about the baby he’ll either remind me that HE is the baby, or he’ll just tell me, “Stop talkin’ ’bout your baby, Mommy.” Josh and I are taking bets on how long the new baby will be home before Gareth tries to bite it.  

Emotions: It’s very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in my head at the moment. Emotions range from, “I’m so excited and thankful to meet this new little blessing! Children are wonderful and this is a special, exciting, hopeful time” to “What were we thinking?! Why on earth did I want to do this AGAIN?! Josh, this is all your fault!” But overall I’m excited and content. I’m trying to focus on the second trimester, when I know I’ll feel better, and we’ll get to experience all the fun firsts of pregnancy, such as finding out the sex and feeling baby kick and move. (It’s cute when they weight about 2 ounces. When you have a 7-8 lb watermelon karate chopping your ribs it’s not so fun.)   

Museums

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My parents got us a Frist membership for Christmas. Josh and I love it for all the free dates. Trips to the art museum together give us something to talk about on dates so we’re not tempted to revert to calendar and kid conversations. Of course, the Frist also has a great kids section with arts and craft stations, and I can’t resist the opportunity to try and give Emmeline and Gareth a little bit of culture.

We took them to see Norman Rockwell, thinking they’d like it since he painted a lot of children. He had quite a few paintings from the Civil Rights movement, which of course our kids are too young to understand. Living in such a diverse city, they’re used to seeing people of different nationalities, and they don’t think anything of it. The picture, “New Kids in the Neighborhood” caught Emmie’s eye.

 

“New Kids in the Neighborhood” by Norman Rockwell

She asked Josh, “Daddy, why are those kids being mean to the other kids?”
Josh answered her, “I think it’s because they think they’re different.”
Emmie was really upset by this and answered, “But, Daddy! We’re all the same!” That got a few awes from the crowd.

Then last week The Hermitage had a free day so a friend and I packed up our kids (five between the two of us). I don’t know if our kids got anything out of it–they seemed to just want to run from one room/building to the next, and there was plenty of space for them to run around. I’m still awarding both of us lots of “Good Mommy” points for going. But little kids and old houses don’t mix. Thankfully, there were a LOT of kids there that day, so it wasn’t like ours were the only ones who wanted to touch every piece of handpainted 100+ year-old Parisian wallpaper and lean on every original bannister. So at least I had plenty of company when the volunteers looked in horror. Emmie said her favorite parts were “the secret trail” (a wooded path in the back of the property) and the smokehouse (because she likes bacon). Gareth spent most of the time complaining about  being in his stroller and making it clear that it was “very bad day, Mommy!” but when we left he cheerfully told me, “Want go ‘nother museum!”

Happy 2014

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I haven’t blogged in a while because I got busy with Christmas. I crocheted several presents for the kids (and I’m still working on Josh’s German Panzer tank slippers, which just may be the death of me). It left little time for other hobbies. I enjoy crocheting, mostly because it lets me think I’m sitting still without actually having to sit still, but the main reason we made presents this year was just to save on money, so don’t be too impressed with me.

Emmie is turning five this May, so we’re easing into kindergarten slowly. She got several new schoolbooks for Christmas. Doing school, which at this point takes about an hour total, is probably one of her favorite things to do. I haven’t even given her all of her new books yet. As a reward for finishing a school lesson, I’ll get out another new book for her. It’s brilliant. If she never learns anything her whole life and just always stays this excited about learning new things, then I will be a happy mom. She also got her first chapter books–Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I’ve always loved Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and Emmie’s been really getting into them with me now. Mrs. Piggle Wiggle has got to be some kind of cultural prophet. Who needs Parenting Your Child with Love and Logic when you have Mrs. Piggle Wiggle’s brilliant cures? Also, when I was kid I used to dream about living in an upside down house.

Changing the subject now. I have ticks and habits and things I say to the kids much more than I realize I do, but spending all day at home with them, apparently I’ve rubbed off on them more than I knew, and the results are usually pretty entertaining. They’re both obsessed with certain things being clean–with Gareth it’s his hands, and with Emmeline it’s her teeth (the dreaded “sugarbugs”). The other day the two of them were playing superheroes and villains, and this was how the game went:

Gareth: I’ll save you! Oh no! I’m dirty!
Emmeline: The sugarbug is coming, the sugarbug is coming!

Can’t you see the graphic novel now? Mr. Clean battles his fatal enemies: germs and cavities.

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