in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Friday, March 30, 2012

perpetual motion


the truck
john's toy of choice this morning was his dump truck. he rode it in circles around the house. he pushed it back and forth between the kitchen and the living room. he ran over the dog with it. he made periodic pauses to say hi to nana (NEEna!) who's visiting this week, or to mama. but then he kept right on trucking along.

i did capture him for just the briefest of moments, to snap this little pic:
mama's little imp
and then he was off again - playing ring around the rosy in the living room, running to the door saying "bye bye, mommy" and grabbing his red bucket like a purse.

i know all grownups say this about all kids, but it's true: if we could bottle just a fraction of that verve, that energy, and that gogogo, we could power the whole world in perpetuity. it makes me tired to see ... but it sure is fun to watch!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

been thinkin'

i've been thinking about john's birth a lot lately. about what an amazing experience it was for me, and how i wouldn't change a thing about it. then another blogger (c. jane kendrick, of course) shared the story of her own birth, as shared by her mother. and it made me realize, i never fully recorded the story of john's birth.

so, if you're not into birth stories, you can skip this post and i won't be sad. this one is really for me, and one day, for john. but if you enjoy a good birth story (as i do), i am happy to share with you as well.

***

part i: before it was real
when i found out i was pregnant, i sort of kind of maybe felt like i might want to have a natural childbirth, if at all possible. it sounded like a great idea. but anytime i talked about that - or even thought about it - i added this caveat: "but i've never done this before, so i guess we'll see!"

then i went to a seminar about non-medicinal labor pain control, and it was taught by a lady named rene'. rene' is a doula and founder of Birth Help, a doula service here in Baton Rouge. when i heard rene' speak, i remember thinking, "wow, if i had her help i could definitely do natural childbirth." i mentioned it to my husband when we left her seminar, and he said he was thinking the same thing.

so pretty much that day, we emailed rene', told her we wanted to enlist her services, and i committed to having a natural childbirth. and the more i thought about it, the more sense it made for me.

part ii: getting ready
we met with rene' about 6 weeks before i was due, to talk about our ideas of what our baby's birth would be like. basically, i told her that i had no preconceived notions, that i just wanted to go with the flow but have as un-medically assisted a birth as possible. my husband told her that he was sure i could do it and that he would support me however he could. we talked a little about a birth plan, but i never really solidified one - i knew from everything i'd heard that you can't choreograph a child's arrival on this planet.

what we did do was collect pictures for me to focus on to get me through the labor. me, hoisting a canoe over my head as i crossed a tough portage trail (to prove i can do anything i set my mind to.) the beautiful north woods of northern minnesota and the quetico in canada (to remind me of the peace i find there). and we collected objects to help with massage - big socks full of rice. my exercise ball. hand-held massagers. and we packed them all carefully into a bag to be grabbed on the way to the hospital - my natural childbirth go-bag.

if i'm bad a enough to do this, surely i can birth
a child, right?
where i would go in my head to find peace
when it got too tough.
but perhaps the most powerful thing i collected was my story about "african birthing woman." in my mind, i knew that at any given moment, there is some woman in a remote village in africa (or india, or malaysia, or south america - the locale is not important) who is leaving her mud hut. she will walk out from her home and find a tree. she will grab on to that tree, squat down, and quietly and steadfastly bring her newborn into the world. most likely, when the labor has passed, she will swaddle her babe, bring the child inside the mud hut with her, and begin to prepare dinner for her family or tribe. if she can do that, i thought, if she can do that in such unsanitary, unsupervised, uncoached environs, then surely in a hospital with the best medical care i can handle the pain of labor.

part iii: a wrench
on june 10th, when i was 37 weeks pregnant, i went in for my weekly checkup. i was at 3.5 centimeters (had been there for a while). i felt great. but ... my blood pressure was through the roof. i hadn't had an ounce of blood pressure trouble, so my doctor was immediately alarmed. they had me rest, then took it again; it was no better. my doctor disappeared for a few minutes, then came back to tell me she'd made arrangements at the hospital - they were waiting for me to check myself in for 24-hours of observation. if things got bad, they'd be inducing me that night.

i begged for one hour to go back to work and set things straight with my coworkers and boss. and one hour later, i checked myself into the hospital. they placed me in a labor and delivery room. i became more and more certain they were about to induce me. my heart sank.

my husband called my mom in maryland, and told her she best catch the next available flight. we knew this baby was coming soon one way or the other.

the good news was, when i was on bedrest, my blood pressure stayed low. and i had no protein in my urine, which would indicate larger problems (preeclampsia, etc). my mom arrived the next afternoon (friday), and they sent us home for the weekend. perhaps there was hope!

but alas: my doctor was going out of town for the weekend. she would be back on tuesday morning, and she scheduled me for an induction at 6:00am that day.

part iv: always ask
i called rene' to break the news to her: despite my strong desire not to be induced it looked like i had no choice. rene' asked, "why are they inducing?" and i couldn't answer. she said it sounded like a convenience (for the doctor) schedule, so i should call monday morning and ask them why i needed to be induced. and if they didn't have a really good reason, that i should ask to continue on bedrest at home, instead, to see if john would come on his own instead.

so monday morning early, i called the nurse midwife i was to talk to in my doctor's absence. she contacted my doctor, and my doctor literally shrugged and said, "sure, why not." they gave me a week: if the baby didn't come by the time i hit 39 weeks, they were inducing.

i never realized before then that you could ask questions like that. don't get me wrong - i won't question sound medical advice. doctors, after all, are trained experts. but if it feels like i don't understand the reason, i will ask until i either understand or change their minds.

part v: waiting
rene' suggested a few herbal supplements to take to ready my body for an easier labor - no induction agents, just preparations. i took them religiously. my fervent hope was that my son would decide it was time, and arrive on his own, before my new deadline.

and then, we sat around. thank goodness my mom was in town. we watched more law and order episodes than any human being should ever consume. i was a horrid patient - i would get up to make tea, my mom would remind me i was on bedrest and send me back to the couch. one day i snuck out to the drug store so i could blow up one of my focus pictures. i don't sit still well.

but sit still i did. and waited.

part vi: today's the day
on thursday night (june 17th) i didn't sleep a wink. i wasn't in pain, just uncomfortable in every position. i had to pee every 10 seconds. i was up and down and walked around the house most of the night.

by the time the rest of the house got up, i told my husband, "i think today is going to be the day." of course, he got a little frantic. "ok, let me call work and let's get ready for the hospital," he said. i calmed him, told him it wasn't time, and that he should head to work. he only works a half-day on fridays anyway, so i told him i would call him if anything changed but he would have plenty of time to get home in any case. the hospital is only 15 minutes up the road.

so my mom and i waited together a little bit more. we watched more law and order, believe it or not. and i found a contraction timer online, so i could hit "s" every time it started and "s" every time it finished, and it would time them for me. they were all over the map - nothing organized yet.

finally, by around 1130, they were consistently under 7 minutes apart. that was starting to get pretty close to the five minute mark they told me to look for, and i knew my doctor's office closed at 1 on friday. so i went ahead and called and asked if they thought i should head for the hospital or not. my doctor was already gone for the day, but the nurse midwife said, "sure, go to the assessment center. the worst they'll do is send you home."

i called rene'. she was at the hospital with her own daughter, who had just given birth to a child with some medical issues. they were at another hospital, but not too far from where i would be. i told her we would keep her posted - to stay with her daughter and grandchild, and we'd let her know when we needed her.

part vii: assessment
by now my husband was home from work, so we piled into the car and headed to the hospital. the contractions were getting faster, so i was glad we were on the way. when we got to the assessment center at 12:45pm, they made my mom wait in the lobby while my husband and i checked in - only one guest allowed with me in assessment.


the nurse measured me, and i was still only at 3.5 centimeters. i was a little disheartened - i thought surely we'd have made progress by now! but no worries, surely they would feel the contractions and now it was getting close to time.


the only problem was, they couldn't seem to get the contraction monitors on me correctly. they could get the baby's heartbeat, no problem, but according to the contraction monitor, i wasn't having contractions at all.


the condescending nurse said to me, "well, we'll just keep you here for a few hours dear, and see if you're actually going to have this baby today." (i know, i know - she probably sees false labor all the time. but a little bedside manner wouldn't hurt!)


they told me to lay flat on my back in the bed so they could keep me monitored. but that was horrifically uncomfortable, so every time they left the room i would unstrap myself and walk around. sometimes i would go sit on the toilet - surely they couldn't yell at me if i had to pee. 


and every time, they'd scold me to get back in bed, tell me they weren't feeling any contractions, and leave again. by now, i was feeling pretty rough. i could handle the level of discomfort i had right now, but if this wasn't even the beginnings of labor, how was i ever going to handle what was to come? maybe i wasn't cut out for this after all. my husband went out to the lobby to update my mom, and to call rene' and let her know we needed her. he could tell my spirits were low, and he and rene' agreed that we needed to get them back up before i gave up.

finally, i went to the bathroom again and there was a lot of blood. i knew this was pretty normal, but we buzzed the nurses just to tell them. their response? "it's probably from when we measured you earlier. get back in bed."

so back in bed i went. they strapped on the monitor, right as another contraction hits (they're two minutes apart by now). the nurse looked at the monitor and said (this is an actual quote): "oh, you're having BIG contractions!" (i bit my tongue and didn't say "no sh@#, b@#*, that's what i've been trying to tell you!") they decided they better measure me quick and see what was happening. so they measured me, and i was at 6.5-7 centimeters - roughly three centimeters or more of progress since i'd arrived. they panicked. they called up to labor and delivery and said i was coming. they didn't even put me in a wheelchair to take me upstairs - just pushed me on the bed into the big elevator, saying 'reassuringly,' "this baby is coming today after all!"

my husband ran to tell my mother to meet us on the fourth floor. then we hightailed upstairs.

part viii: labor and delivery
we arrived in the labor and delivery suite at 2:45pm, barely two hours after we got to the hospital. the nurses were running around like crazy - it must have been a quiet day, because there were at least six nurses trying to get me settled in, get an iv in my arm, etc. i have tricky veins, so it took FIVE sticks with the needle to get a line in. just as they got it, in walked rene' and her apprentice, who i'd agreed could attend my labor as well.

one nurse looked at me and said, "oh, you're going natural?" and everyone instantly calmed down. they had been scurrying to try to get me an iv line in, since they have to hydrate you for 30 minutes prior to administering an epidural. without that time constraint, things calmed down considerably.

someone finally let my mom in - she was panicked that she was going to miss the birth. the doctor walked in just behind her - not my doctor, as she was already off duty,  but the on-call doc from her office. i was a little nervous that this doctor might not be as open to natural childbirth, but she checked me out and made it clear that she was going to pretty much let me do my thing.

so i hopped up out of bed - still horribly uncomfortable to lay on my back. the nurses asked if i wanted the labor tub, but it takes up to two hours to get set up and we all agreed that we probably didn't have time. so i walked around a little bit, talking with my mom, my husband and rene'. every two minutes or so i'd have a deep contraction, but otherwise we sort of just ... hung out.

rene' suggested that i might be more comfortable laboring on the toilet - odd as it sounds, the nature of a toilet means that there's no pressure on your bottom, and she was right. it was very comfortable. so for about 15 minutes, we had a party in the bathroom. it was really kind of surreal - four of us in the bathroom, me on the toilet. chatting about whatever. OH WAIT CONTRACTION. now where was i?

finally at about 3:15pm i had a very big contraction, and i felt my water break. the nurses came to check it out, and said - yep, that's your water! thanks for being so considerate and doing that on the toilet, we have much less to clean up!

so back to the bed. the doctor checked me and said i was 10 centimeters and ready to go, so i could push when i was ready. i thought they'd keep me in the bed then, but in fact i was allowed to get back up. i stood next to the bed, and in between contractions i laid my upper body across the bed to rest. my "pit crew" would  race in - rene' with a honey stick, my mom with a sip of water, my husband with a back rub and sweet word.

i could feel the urge to push, but that's a very difficult thing to understand. push WHAT? how? when? so i sort of just kept doing what i was doing, to see what my body told me.

what i didn't notice (i was pretty intensely into the labor process by now!) was that there was a collection of doctors and nurses lining the room. apparently in addition to my support team, we had 8-10 other people in the audience. i wouldn't have minded at all, but i didn't even know! i also didn't know that my husband heard my doctor comment that one day she wanted to have her own children this way - but he felt much better about the new doc as soon as he heard it.

i naturally started to squat a little bit with each contraction, and to let out some pretty primal noises. rene' suggested that the deeper the noises i made, the more engaged my core and diaphragm would be, and the more conducive to labor. it was amazing how good it felt to let loose with guttural grunts and groans. she also said that the farther down i squatted, the more gravity and my natural pushing muscles would help the process.

so on the next contraction, i squatted low. i groaned deeply. and i pushed. i understood now, what pushing was. i couldn't have NOT pushed if my life depended on it. it was a full-body experience unlike anything i've ever felt.

and then it passed, and i rested.

on the third push, i felt what some have described as the "ring of fire," as my son's head first crowned into the world. it wasn't comfortable, sure, but it wasn't like i feared. none of this was like i feared. it was amazing. so difficult, yet so easy. so natural.

one more little push, and my doctor practically stood on her head to catch john as he entered the world at 3:45pm, barely three hours after i arrived at the hospital. i leaned on the bed, resting, while they checked him out. he was behind me, and because of the cord i couldn't turn, but i could hear him, crying. i was in tears of awe and joy and excitement as i was about to meet my son.

my husband squeezed my hand. my mom patted my back. rene' congratulated me. it was amazing.

part ix: after
they cleaned john up, of course. scrubbed him and weight him - the little peanut was only 5lb 12oz. he was all skin and bones and big blue eyes.

i had some minor tearing - my doctor described it as similar to a papercut - so they stitched me up. i barely felt it. i was on a natural high. they did give me a dose of pitocin, then, to encourage the uterus to contract, etc. i guess that's pretty common post-labor as well.

the nurse told me that if i wanted to, i could take a shower to clean myself up. since i had no medications in my system, i could stand up, walk around, bathe myself. she came with me to make sure i didn't get dizzy or weak from exertion, but i was able to take a shower pretty much on my own.

and then i settled into the bed to rest, and to work on nursing my son. and i reflected on how even though i didn't intend to, i really DID channel african birthing woman. right down to the squatting and guttural groans!

for the rest of our hospital stay, the nurses kept asking me if i needed a painkiller. i felt remarkably fine - normal, almost. tired, but that was all. i asked them once if there was something wrong with me that i DIDN'T need a painkiller.

and after the requisite two day stay, we were released to go home. we went home on father's day.

***

and here is what my efforts got me:
well worth it.

words

reading the mail.
and emptying the recycling bin.
but mostly reading the mail.
this may come as a surprise (insert eyeroll here), but i am a very verbal person. i talk too much. i probably write to much. but i'm also fascinated by words and language. even other languages. but that's a story for another day.

perhaps that general linguistic fixation is why john's vocabulary development is so amazing for me to watch. every day, he has a new word he's playing with. every day, there is something else funny that he's running around the house saying.

we've been working on manners a lot lately. instead of "MORE!" we say "more juice please." instead of "NO!" we're working on "no, ma'am." when someone gives john something, he says "thank you." (sometimes.) and this morning when daddy sneezed, he said "bless you!" (and then fake sneezed and blessed himself.)

so i thought i'd list a few more of my other favorite johnisms for posterity:
  • counting goes like this: "two ... four ... two ... four ... one ... five ..." (and i'm just impressed he knows the names of so many numbers - we'll keep working on the order!)
  • if you ask john what color something is, the answer is always "RED!" (with enthusiasm)
  • anytime he hears a siren outside the house, john says, "my fire truck!" and will not be persuaded otherwise
  • ambulances are "wee ooo wee ooos"
  • any machine that goes in the air is an airplane. except for hot air balloons, which are, of course, balloons
  • among john's favorite sesame street characters are elmo (of course), "bee bir" (big bird), "burrrr" (bert), and "ober" (grover)
  • when john wants to close a door - which he loves to do - he says "push"
  • he will say "i love you" when prompted, and sometimes just when he wants to, and he always shouts it and runs the words together: "ahuvoooo!"
i wish i could attach a little sound clip of each of those. they're so much cuter in his sweet little boy voice than typed out ... i also wish i could bottle up the sound of him saying "bye bye mommy. ahuvoo!" as i walked out the door this morning ... i'd save that away and could never have a bad day ever again, 'cause i'd just pull it out and hear my favorite words ever. 

and for a logophile/linguiphile, that's saying a lot.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

night/day

yesterday felt more like monday than monday did.

john woke up unhappy. he didn't want anything i offered him, didn't want juice, didn't want cars, didn't want to walk, didn't want to be carried, didn't want a new diaper, didn't want the wet diaper he was in. certainly it's not his fault - i think we all have those days. but as a mama - and especially as a mama with a limited time before we have to rush off to school and work - it is so difficult. all i wanted in the world was to make him happy ... but nothing did. no amount of me saying, "use your words, baby, and we'll get what you need" seemed to work - it was all no, no, no, and uh-uh.

he finally calmed a little (after one tantrum that left him laying on the kitchen floor yelling "no" at the top of his lungs while my husband and i went back to our room to get ready for work). so i picked him up off the floor, snuggled him close and told him i loved him. and we walked back to his room to get him dressed. but then on the way, he threw himself backwards in my arms and knocked the heck out of his head on the wall. so as he screamed "head ouch! mama! head ouch!" and cried at the top of his lungs, i tried to soothe him again and get him clothed and ready to go.

when we got to school, he insisted on being carried into the building. he finally walked when we were on our way into his room, and he even sat down at the table so he could have breakfast. but as soon as the teacher put a plate in front of him, he pushed back from the table and walked away.

you KNOW something's wrong when my little pig rejects his food.

i thought all day that i was going to hear from the daycare that john was sick and needed to go home. but somehow he made it through the day, and last night it was clear that he is fine, physically ... but he was extremely needy and clingy all night long.

poor child. i think he is so frustrated that he can't fully communicate what he wants to say to mommy and daddy.

***

but he must have slept well last night, because the silly bug that woke up this morning and said "no ma'am!" when i asked him if he wanted to get out of bed and said "uh-uh" with a grin when i asked if mommy could get up and go potty. and ran around the house happily playing with his cars. and asked very nicely for more juice ("more juice pease!"). it was like he was a completely different child!

and of course, i love him either way, and of course, we'll keep trying to understand each other so that when he's sad/hurt/angry/unhappy he can tell us what he needs. but i won't lie ...

when he grinned and said "mommy!!!!" this morning, i breathed a sigh of relief.

Monday, March 26, 2012

farewell, weekend.

i know i'm biased ...
but if you didn't just die of cute at least a
LITTLE bit you might want to get your
cute-o-meter checked ...
this was a very full weekend for our family. of course the big kickoff was sesame street live: elmo makes music on saturday morning. i knew john would be excited to see all the characters, my only concern was that the show came right around john's naptime and i hoped he wouldn't be a total grumpasaurus.

and lo and behold, he wasn't! he had a wonderful time playing with his friend hope at the river center before the show, and once we got inside he was utterly transfixed to see his sesame street friends dancing and singing up on stage. the light show had him literally oohing and ahhing, and he danced on his seat and counted along with the characters onstage. he was very excited to see bert (apparently bert is becoming one of his favorite characters). it was truly an awesome experience.

(a little side note to my high school friends ... they did a version of "fame" about the number eight. it was hysterical - i couldn't stop picturing our shs production of the show in 1998 and laughing out loud. "eight! i'm gonna count forever ...")

***

the rest of saturday was just a good nap and housework and errands. i did go for a run saturday afternoon in the hottest part of the day - not my wisest move ever, but i did survive! and sunday was a pretty normal day too, with church, more housework, and the dave ramsey financial peace university class my husband is facilitating sunday evening. 

(sunday was actually my husband and my sixth wedding anniversary! we didn't do anything super exciting - after all, we ARE trying intensely to get out of debt and build our wealth - but he surprised me with a sweet little present and we enjoyed our busy day together. happy anniversary, babe!)

john had a great time at the daycare during our class, and he must have played his little self out, because this was what i found in the backseat upon arriving home:

you know it's a good car-nap when you've
removed on shoe and you're still holding on
to your milk.
***
and this morning was another early morning for little bug. his latest trick is yelling, "no!" when i try to wake him up from a deep sleep. his eyes are still closed, but he's yelling and fighting any motion towards waking. but once i got him up and dressed, he was in a fine mood.

oh, except for the whole plundering and pillaging thing:

he is a viking, after all.
 

Friday, March 23, 2012

code name: houdini

have i used this pic before?
this is how i felt last night.
when i got home from work last night, buddy was out of his kennel. 

back about nine months ago, he broke out of and destroyed not one but two wire kennels. so we switched to the plastic travel-style kennel, and he's been great ever since then. until now.

i'm pretty sure it was the thunderstorms we've had lately that spooked him, but now that he's figured out how to get out, there's no keeping him in - even when he's not freaked.

my husband was at a meeting until late last night, and between being awake since 3:30am (see yesterday's blog) and finding the dog out of his kennel and being afraid to leave the dog in the house alone while i went for a run with john, i pretty much had a meltdown. i believe my text to my husband said, "i am not ok. please call me."

while i waited for him to call me back, i decided i was going for a run with buddy AND john. no, i've never successfully done that before. no, i've never even really had much luck WALKING with them both. but dammit, we're all a disaster at this point, how much worse can it get? (never a good question to ask, right?)

except ... it was great. i looped buddy's leash around my waist so i could have my hands free to push the stroller, and off we went. we did a total of 2.08 miles, 1.5 of them running. did buddy pull? sure. there were times we had to have a little chat about running with mom and how that means he can't run any FASTER than mom. but the wind in our faces, the physical activity, and the family time together meant that john, buddy, and i were all doing awesome (but tired) by the time we got home.

and then, buddy was great all evening. he was low key and fun, he played with john and hung out with us. even this morning he wasn't as up in my face as he often is when i'm getting ready.

so, a new commitment: as many days a week as possible, buddy, john and i are going running in the evening after work. it's a win/win/win situation, and you know what? it was actually pretty fun.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

our other child

luckily for buddy, this is NOT
his strangled body after he woke us
up at 3:30am due to storm anxiety.
when you have an infant, you sort of expect sleep to be in short supply. we got pretty lucky with john, who slept early and well, and with the exceptions of some spotty issues here and there we've slept pretty well in our house since he was born.

in fact, more sleep disruption probably happens in our house because of one culprit: buddy the dog. he's a great dog, don't get me wrong. and he's come a LOOOOOOONG way since he came to live with us around a year ago. but he is still utterly neurotic and nuts. he is afraid of his own shadow. he's afraid of loud noises. he's afraid of my husband about 25% of the time, strange men about 99% of the time (that 1% is my cousin ben, who buddy oddly loves). 

he doesn't pee when he's scared anymore. which is good - i spend MUCH less time mopping up dog pee.

but he does freak out at thunderstorms. and if you live in south louisiana, there are traditionally a lot of them.

like last night. buddy woke us up with his barking at 3:30 a.m. and nothing we could do would appease him - nothing. we never did make it back to sleep. he calmed down when he was in our room and resting, but he still would get up and whimper when there was a big thunderclap. or when he saw lightning outside. or when his superdog-spidey senses told him there MIGHT be a big thunderclap or lightning.

"but john's mom," you might be saying, "isn't that what the thundershirt buddy's wearing in that picture is for?"

"why, yes," i would say. "if only the velcro wasn't shot from being washed too many times and if only the new one(s) had already been ordered and shipped to our house."

instead, i gave my dog a benadryl. does that make me a bad doggy mommy? maybe. but buddy's mom works, and she had to get a LITTLE rest.

tired of my ranting? look at this instead:  


an oldy but a goody:
john's first mohawk. that's MY child for sure.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

the mouths of babes

yesterday as i packed up my breakfast and lunch to take with me (it's easier to eat on the road some mornings), i grabbed two little bran muffins that we make for portable breakfasts and put them in a tupperware.

around the corner comes john, screaming: "my cupcake!"

i didn't even KNOW he could say cupcake! i didn't even KNOW he knew what a cupcake was!

 i suppose it makes sense - he's around other kids all day, and he's watching sesame street and dora and thomas and who knows what else. but it still boggles my mind when he comes up with something like that.

and i must confess that there is a drop of bittersweetness to it - what other things did i miss, besides john learning to say cupcake?! i sometimes wish i could be with him all the time, so i could witness every little step, every little growth, every little development.

but there is a bonus to being a working mom who's NOT there every second: the little sweet surprises, like a torpedo-speed diaper-clad monkey careening into the kitchen yelling "my cupcake!" that's pretty cool, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

chaotic

john's favorite perscription from the doctor EVER:
run around in the backyard with no pants on.

yesterday turned out to be a pretty chaotic day, and one of those days when i am very thankful to have such a flexible workplace.

around 10am, i got a call from the daycare asking if i'd had john's diaper rash checked out by the doctor, and that if i hadn't i needed to come get him and he couldn't come back without a doctor's note that it wasn't something worse than diaper rash and contagious.

so i called the doc, got an 11:20am appointment, and high-tailed to the school to get john, then to the doctor's office to get his poor little booty examined. come to find out, the daycare was right on one account - it is worse than normal diaper rash, but it's not contagious. the solution? jock itch ointment - and per the doctor's orders, generic is fine.

the only problem? the generic is called "JOCK ITCH CREAM" in giant capital letters, with no brand name. awesome purchase for a mama to make with her 21 month old in tow!

back to daycare, ointment in tow, and finally back to work shortly after noon. and then i had to figure out how to make it into a productive normal day despite the wild ride the morning had been!

two things made all the chaos worth it. 1) following the doctor's orders to allow john to run around the backyard naked so his diaper area could air out (see pic above) and 2) this pic my husband snapped this morning while john ran around:

i'm up to something, mommy.
i don't know what yet, but just you wait!

Monday, March 19, 2012

i get it now


who needs a stinkin' leprochaun?

sometimes i see those beautiful "stair-step" families - you know, the ones where each child is precisely a head taller than the next child, each is more beautiful than the next, and you know that there's not more than two years between any two of them. when we lived in phoenix we saw them all the time, probably because of the large mormom population in that part of the country. (i'm not stereotyping there - there is a tenet of the faith of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints that encourages large families. i'm no religious scholar so i won't attempt to discuss the dogmatic specifics.)

when i saw those families in the past, i had two thoughts: 1) how beautiful and 2) how on earth does that mama do it? and maybe a third one, 3) why on earth does that mama do it?

but now that john's pretty officially out of the baby phase, i can understand it. i miss having a baby.

don't get me wrong: i would not change one single thing about john. i wouldn't give up this little-bitty-boy phase, with the learning to talk and learning what he likes and doesn't like and exploring the world. i LOVE where he is right now. and every time he changes, i love that step even more. it's truly awesome.

still, i sure do miss having a baby around.

and we will, eventually - our family's not quite ready to tackle that next step yet. and that's totally fine with me, because *i'm* not quite ready to tackle that next step yet.

but ... mamas with the beautiful stair-step families? i get it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

his own man

i'm not sure what i expected when i became a mom. i knew i was excited about it, i even knew it would be great. but i didn't anticipate what my favorite part would be: watching john change from a helpless baby to a real live human being with his own preferences and tendencies and opinions and drives.

some may say that at 21 months he doesn't have all that yet, but i submit that they've probably never spent time around a 21-month-old. exhibit a - a trip to the park:

at the park.
at the end of our neighborhood is a great little park. there are probably seven slides, multiple swings of different sizes, sand to play in, ladders to climb. when i ask john if he wants to go to the park, he says "whee?" (his word for slide.)

and yet, when we got to the park, all john wanted to do was run in the grass. forget the playsets. forget the sand and the other kids. sprinting back and forth in the grass was where it was AT, man. to each his own ...

exhibit b - morning time:

now that's a good sleep.
and a great sleep fauxhawk.
after i turned on john's light this morning, he muttered "no." i looked in the crib as i sang his good morning song, and that pic above is what i saw. surround by stuffed animals (hugging the ever-present kitty), eyes closed in denial. i could almost hear a much older version of him saying "gimme five more minutes, mom."

and every moment of every day, he seems to be expressing more and more of what he wants to do. and that is pretty freaking cool.*

* at least until he wants to do things like play football and jump off of high things. then i'll probably find it less cool.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

shortcomings

please, mom, no pictures! the flash ... oh, the flash!
one day, i hope john will thank me for sticking my camera in his face and trying to document his cuteness. for some reason, the way he looked sitting in the backseat of the car with i got to daycare this morning just made me want to capture him ... unfortunately, 6:30 a.m. with no light and the bright bright flash on my iphone didn't cooperate.

the flash-free version, which is mirky but lets you see what i was going for:
juice in hand, 'cuz that's how i roll.

i think i have identified the one universal subject that moms seem to agree on: our own inadequacy. our own not-good-enough-ness when it comes to raising our children. no matter what we're really good at as mamas, we're painfully aware of the things we "fall short" on.

we loudly lament our shortfallings. we don't do enough of this, or we do too much of that. we're too concerned about one thing, but we neglect another. we give them not enough freedom, or we don't intervene as often as we should.

but we rarely celebrate our strenghts - gracious no, that would be bragging! what kind of mother brags about her skills?

but let's try it, moms. i want to hear what you're great at. i want to hear about your greatest victories with your children. if you just can't let yourself trumpet too loudly, tell me your innermost concern about your weaknesses, too. but let's focus for a moment on what we do that's great.

i could use the ego boost, couldn't you?

my strengths (which really should be OUR strengths, since i couldn't do any of this with john's dad):
  • musicality (dancing, singing, drumming)
  • language (reading, speaking, singing)
  • letting him be his own dude and explore the world
and, my weaknesses:
  • hands-on crafty stuff (drawing, painting, sculpting)
  • structure (schedules and routines)
  • cleanliness (come on, i bathe him ... but really only when he needs it)
  • and many more.*
*(see? even there, i can't let myself imply i only have three weaknesses. only three strengths, fine. but suggest i only have three weakness? never. what's wrong with us moms!!!!!?????)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

progress

when i work out in the morning, i shower and get ready for work at the gym. my gym has awesome facilities, complete with hairdryers and the like; all i need to bring with me are my toiletries, my clothes and my towels.

now, i don't bring my big luxurious wonderful bath towels to the gym of course. that would be foolish. fortunately we have a motley collection of towels accumulated over the years: that one i bought for my first college apartment, that one we inhereted from friends when they moved, that one i accidentally stole from my dad's house one christmas, that one we bought after that crazy backpacking trip where we had to ford the raging stream ... they're all different colors and sizes and no two are the same.

the past week or so, i've found myself thinking each morning at the gym, "oh, i'm glad i got one of the bigger ones that will actually wrap the whole way around my body for the walk back to the locker room." (you know you've tried to wrap that too-small towel around you before, leaving you with the unenviable decision of what to leave bare.)

this morning, after having that same thought for about six workouts running, i had an epiphany. we don't have that many of the larger towels. it's not that i've been lucky enough to grab the biggest ones, it's that i have gotten just enough smaller that the littler ones actually wrap around me! i may have actually danced in the locker room when i realized that.

i shouldn't be too surprised, i suppose, but i find that weight loss - like weight gain - sneaks up on me. i *know* i've lost nearly 10 lbs. i *know* i've lost some inches. but i can go for weeks on end and feel like nothing's happening. so my towel revelation this morning was pretty uplifting ... and here's a novel concept: do the things you know you're supposed to do, and you will get the results you seek. why is that so hard?

and lest we stray too far from the topic at hand - being john's mom, that is - i'll share the one thought that helps keep me inspired even when i don't feel like i'm making progress:

one day, i want john to look at family pictures from when he was a baby and say, "wow, mom, you used to be fat!"

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

how did that happen

remember this lil fella?

right at nine months ago, john was taking his first steps. he started walking (per my pictures) on july 9, 2011, which makes it nine months and four days ago. this pic is a freeze frame from one of the videos of that first day on his feet.

i remember that like it was yesterday. he wasted no time: he stood up and walked eight steps the first time. we ran outside to show daddy, who was working in the yard. six more steps on the back porch.

back inside, and within the hour he was walking the whole way across the house. you know how some kids spend a few weeks making that transition from a few steps to actually walking? yeah, not this guy. he might have waited to 12.5 months to start, but when he started there was no holding him back.

and when i look at that picture, he looks so little and skinny. when i picked him up this morning out of his bed, he did NOT look little and skinny. he felt substantial and solid and big-boy-ish. he clung to my neck sweetly and snuggled into my shoulder. and then he said:
i love  you. i love you.
so you know what? i guess it's ok that time flies. it's worth it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

excuses/reasons.

'bout sums it up.
one great thing about working out: my brain doesn't want to focus on what my body is doing, so i get some great contemplating time.

this morning i contemplated excuses. and reasons. and whether there is a difference between the two. and if so, what it is.

see, there are lots of reasons i sorta fell off of the gym bandwagon. in early february, i was there every single day. that's not a sustainable pace for me, and i know it, but i hoped that when it "died down" it would be 3-4 times a week. and then john got sick, and i missed a few days. and then i went a few times. and then it was mardi gras and i missed a few days. and then i went a few times. and then ... who knows. some reason.

or is it a reason? we've been watching "the biggest loser" this season, and their theme is "no excuses." so what is the fine line between reason and excuse? i think it's legitimate that when i have to stay home sick with my son, my gym attendance drops off. but really, if i wanted to, couldn't i have gone in the evenings once my husband came home? or doubled up on the weekend to keep the intensity high?

and i'm not beating myself up here, don't get me wrong. overall, i'm doing way better at staying in the gym than i have in years. a few down times are bound to happen, and i feel good as long as i get back on the horse and keep on going.

so ... this week, no excuses. i'm doing another blitz-krieg week of daily workouts. which inspires me to do another blitz-krieg week of eating what i should be eating anyway. so hopefully at the end of this week, when i inevitably lose a little of that unsustainable momentum, i will fall back into a pattern of healthy behavior.

unless i have a REALLY good reason.

::sigh::

happy monday.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

saturday

there is no caption that can live up
to the cuteness of this picture.
but maybe i'm biased.
i don't usually have to work on saturdays, but today is an exception - we have not one but two events going on at the mall today, so i have to be here to play gracious hostess and make sure all runs as planned. (they are low-key and relatively easy events, which is why i popped into the office to check email and post this blog.)

since i had to work, i knew today wasn't a sleeping-in day. so i wasn't dismayed to hear a little voice talking to himself at around 645 - it was time to get up anyway. i went and got the little voice, and as soon as i walked into the room he said, "mommy! juice?"

so we took the juice and layed back in bed with daddy, and john happily drank juice while mommy and daddy snoozed. and that juice must have REALLY hit the spot, because as soon as the last drop left the sippy cup, john sat bolt up right and raring to go!

he climbed the bed. he climbed daddy and mommy. he ran and sang. he rode on his truck around the room. he jumped and yelled "up and down." all in about 4 minutes. so i decided it was time to haul myself out of bed and get ready.

i made it only as far as the bathroom, where as soon as i sat down to pee, the little juice-gangster in the backwards cap came in to see me. he looked at me, said, "more juice?" then stuck out his tongue and giggled.

you can't buy an alarm clock that is that effective at any store in the world.

Friday, March 9, 2012

the taste of silence is bittersweet

at first glance: a moment of heaven over breakfast
my husband left for work a little earlier than usual this morning, and my little bug must have been sleepy, because by the time i was out of the shower, dressed, and blow-dried, he was still snoozing away.

with a sigh of contentment, i listened to the silence of the house. silence, that rare gem. i'm not complaining - i love the hubbub of a full, loving house. but still, as i poured my soy milk over my generic honey nut cheerios (already placed in a bowl courtesy of my awesome husband) and grabbed my book, i thought, "this is heaven."

and for a few minutes, it really was. i didn't have to share my cereal. i didn't have to talk, or listen. i didn't have to pour more juice, or wipe banana off my work pants. i didn't have to tell john not to give his juice to the dog or to his stuffed tiger. i could just ... read. and eat. and sit. in silence. amazing.

but after a moment, i realized i was wishing john was awake. after all, these were precious minutes i could be spending with him! when you consider that we only have about four hours together on a workday, split between morning and night, this was *seriously* cutting into my time with my son! i was really going to miss him today, without starting my day off with his silly antics.

and just as i finished off the last bite of ceral and set my book down, i heard a little sound. "mommy?" said a happy little voice from back in his bedroom. so i got him, dressed him, and we played while i finished my hair and makeup, and talked nonstop on the way to school.

so yes, silence is golden. i enjoyed reading my book in peace ... but my heart sure lit up when i heard that little squeak, and i sure am happy i got some morning with my bug after all.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the creep.

video


just so you know, that video is completely unrelated to my blog post for today. but somehow it seemed naked without some direct john-content (johntent?) so i added a little hoop-action for your viewing pleasure. if you were wondering, he's saying "hoop hoop hoop" over and over again.

the creep
but what i am thinking about is the creep. not some unsavory individual, but rather the slow descent into disorder that overcomes my home. the onset of clutter, the encroachment of entropy. the inevitable downward spiral of disarray.

it starts so well-meaningly. on sunday, we did the dishes. every single one. we hand-washed the un-dishwasher-able ones. we scrubbed, we ran two loads in the dishwasher (because you know, it backs up. by the time you run it, there's a full load stacked in the sink). we dried every item, and put it carefully away when it belongs - because lo and behold, even clean dishes create clutter when you leave them out on the counter to dry.

and the counter looked awesome when we went to bed sunday night. it was a sight to behold, with the sparkling surface unobstructed in an expanse of kitchen orderliness.

two full days later, i am not 100% sure there is still a counter under the dismaying clutter of dishes.

how does one small family generate so many dishes? sure, we cook dinner each night and eat breakfast each morning, but we're not even THERE for huge chunks of time during the day! and we're not horridly dirty people - the dishes are rinsed and stacked. probably the dishwasher is full - but i haven't checked, so i don't know for sure. probably it is even full and CLEAN, but needs to be unloaded.

so why is it so hard to stay on top of the dishes? why, oh why, don't i just open the damn dishwasher, empty it, and reload it? why is there still a pot from last night's dinner waiting to be washed and put away?

a dear friend told me recently, "entropy always wins. it's a law."

and she's right, i suppose. but tonight, TONIGHT, i will do battle with that law. and maybe i won't beat entropy, but i will smack that sucker down and make it say uncle ... at least for a day or two.

ps got any awesome entropy-beating suggestions you use in your house? doesn't have to be dishes ... any ol' entropy is fine. i'm pretty sure we have every variety in one room or another.

pps if the video doesn't work, please let me know - i am getting an error but i'm not sure if it's just me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

what weekends are for

sweet.
it was a full weekend. we jam-packed nearly every minute of both days full of fun and love and family.

saturday morning was a day date with my hubby - we saw 'act of valor' in the movie theater. i can't remember the last time we went to a theater - it was a blast! the movie was amazing - you should definitely check it out. after the movie was our lunch date - also wonderful. thank you, husband, for a wonderful morning.

john stayed with auntie and uncle while we went on our date, and boy did he work hard! while uncle vacuumed, john followed him around the house with a dry mop, dusting behind him. john also helped auntie with laundry, played with the dogs, and attempted to help uncle with blowing off the driveway - but he didn't like the blower. needless to say, it was a full day, and that picture above is what we found when we went to pick him up.

saturday evening was family time at the house. sunday morning we got up for church and sunday school, then home for john's nap. when he woke up, he came with me to the lsu lake to walk around the lakes with one of our favorite people in the world. us gals walked our butts off, and john enjoyed quacking at the ducks and pointing out the water. it was a beautiful sun-shine-y gorgeous day for being outside.

and last night was dave ramsey's financial peace university, so it was great to see friends, share stories, and teach and learn more about our money.

so now it's hard to go back to the week - i think that's why mondays are so hard. it's not that i don't want to work, not that i don't love what i do, but boy would another family day be amazing.

'til next weekend, then ...

Friday, March 2, 2012

highlights

i'll just rest here 'til mommy finishes showering.
john has been in rare form. he played, talked, and ran after daycare yesterday, telling us all about his day. at dinner he ate more green beans than i've ever seen a kid eat. and he kept asking for more!

he happily took a bath and brushed his teeth with no complaints. we said goodnight to daddy and went back to his bedroom. normally i sing to john before he goes to bed - we sing the alphabet song, or one of the lullabyes i've written for him. but tonight, he decided to sing to me! so he sat in my lap and looked at me and danced while he sang his own little tune. i called my husband in and john just kept dancing and singing. i wish i could have taped it - it was the best. i am grinning now just thinking of it.

then this morning, john started to wake right as i was getting ready to get in the shower. (isn't that always the way? we have terrible timing!) so daddy went to get the bug up, and i got in the shower. the next thing i knew, there was some movement outside the glass shower door. so i wiped the fog off to look out, and there, curled up on the bathmat, was john. he brought his doggy and kitty that he sleeps with, and he snuggled up, resting while he waited for me to finish.

the rest of the morning was full of the normal shennanigans - john reading me his "things that go" book while i put on makeup, etc. in fact, john proudly pointed out the "'racker wiffa moo" in the book - for those of you not fluent in johnese, that's a tractor with a cow on a trailer behind it. and he yelled "duck! duck duck duck!" and then looked at me ... and then yelled "quack quack mommy!" since i clearly hadn't identified what game we were playing.

so what's it all add up to, those sweet adorable stories? my own little tgif. thank god it's friday, and i can't wait to play with my little bug all weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

a house divided

tigers vs. vols: the battle for john's loyalty
i love college basketball. like, LOVE college basketball. i don't follow it, per se, because frankly i don't have time. but if the opportunity arises to watch some ncaa hoops, i'm all for it.

of course my true love is maryland terrapins ball. i'm old school - i've never been to a game in the comcast center at maryland, but i rarely missed a cole fieldhouse showdown when i was there.

last night, john got his first taste of college bball! we went with auntie and uncle to watch the tennessee vols play at lsu. and therein lies the division.

i may not have grown up in louisiana, but i for-sure grew up cheering for the tigers. my dad is from here, and all of his family, so we are pretty ardent purple-and-gold. and my husband has really adopted the tigers, too, and we're pretty avid tigers fans at our house. except.

john's dad went to tennessee. and he wanted to dress john in orange for the game. i, of course, and my family wanted to dress him in purple. after much debate, we agreed: he could wear an orange tshirt with his lsu polo over it. daddy planned to whisk the lsu shirt off when it got too "hot" so john's true colors could be seen. and as it happens, john's undershirt was the right color: the vols wound up winning in overtime.

but more important than the shirt debacle is this: john loved the game. at first he was wiggly and unhappy to be confined. but then mommy started offering a running commentary and suddenly he started paying attention. the commentary was ridiculous - "look, john, he's dribbling the ball! oh, he threw the ball to his friend! now they're trying to put the ball in the basket!" - but it worked.

soon john will learn that march is the greatest month of the year. and maybe mommy will have an excuse to watch more basketball than she has in years - after all, it's bonding time with the little man.