Thursday, December 30, 2010

My big announcement...

No, I'm not pregnant! I know that's what you were thinking...

So apparently I have (inadvertently) decided to take a holiday from writing on the blog, not because I don't love you, my readers and friends, or blogging itself, but because I have been so busy--and no, I haven't been doing tons of Christmas shopping. (Thank goodness for internet shopping. I have made a grand total of two actual Christmas related outings, but I have gotten about ten packages in the mail.) In fact, I have been far too busy contemplating, deciding, planning, and putting into action preparations for my new (part-time) career. I'm training to become a certified labor doula! For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, a doula is a woman whose primary purpose is to provide physical and emotional support to a laboring mom (and dad!). If you read my blog about the perfect birth, you've probably already figured out that I have an intense passion for all things birth related. Although I've had this passion since I was a teenager, my own two births made me even more convinced that moms need someone at their births whose only role is making sure they have a satisfying birth experience. However, having the two babies as a product of my two births, I felt like there was no way for me to start anything new, and there wasn't, at least until recently.

About a month ago (pretty much the same time I started my blogging hiatus), I had a mental (or spiritual, or both) breakthrough. It was like I suddenly realized that I could start the process of becoming a labor doula right now. After all, why not? Daniel is getting close to weaning (I think), which has probably been the major roadblock. I also realized that although I am still one hundred percent committed to being the primary caregiver in my children's life, that doesn't mean I have to be the solo caregiver one hundred percent of the time. I don't want my children to grow up thinking that my life revolves around them (although, for now, it does). I want them to socialize, to learn to be independent, and be comfortable in a variety of environments. The great thing for my personal situation is that being a labor doula would still allow me to do another one of my great passions, which is to homeschool my children, at least through the early years. After all, homeschool is the ultimate flexible situation. So having mentally worked through a lot of the things that were keeping me from taking on this new challenge, I talked through the idea with Stephen and a few other close family members, and decided to go for it!

Anyone who knows me well knows that once I make up my mind about something, I'm going to make it happen. Unless Jesus or a freight train stops me, I'm going to find a way. With that said, once I made up my mind to do it, I was registered for training within two weeks. I'll get to spend an entire weekend in January fraternizing with my fellow birth nerds, and learning a lot of special labor-aid techniques. Then, bring on the births, and bring on the babies!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Talk

I had a full conversation with Daniel tonight as I was finishing dinner.

Daniel: Chicken?
Me: You want chicken?
Daniel: Um-huh. Chicken?
Me: You want to get down?
Daniel: Naw.
Me: Where's your water cup?
Daniel: All gone.

So cute!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


So with Daniel's many, many food allergies, we have been eating a lot of the same old foods. Chicken, potatoes, green beans. Oatmeal. Beans. More chicken, more potatoes, more green beans. Needless to say, I'm ready for a little variety. However, my primary concern is finding fattening foods that Daniel can, and will, eat, especially since he is currently not even big enough to make it on to the growth chart. Choices are limited when you can't have any dairy products, nuts, or wheat, all of which are the standard fare for fattening food. I have instead found myself reaching for animal fat and various meat products to try to bulk up the calorie count in Daniel's diet.

One of the new foods we have recently tried, which I have discovered is chock full of all kinds of vitamins and minerals, and fat, and protein, is liver. Yes. Liver. I know, it's not a food highly esteemed in today's food culture, and there are toxicity concerns especially when eating industrial liver, but I think it may be unfairly despised. Following some reading (library books and, of course, the internet), I purchased, at our lovely local farmer's market, a pastured pork liver. I thawed it (it was frozen when I bought it), and luckily stumbled upon a recipe for liver in a book I just happened to be reading.

I can honestly say I have never cooked liver before, and I have never handled a raw hunk of liver, that is, before I sliced open that package. It was squishy and slippery, and a sort of burgundy red color. I chopped my (farmer's market) bacon and cooked it, rendering the bacon fat into the pan, cooked my chopped onion in the bacon fat, and as the wonderful smell of bacon filled the kitchen, I took my knife and started cutting the liver into slivers. It was a little bit like trying to chop up a very large oyster, the same soft and slippery, yet textured feel. Finally I finished cutting and scraped it into my cornmeal coating, then the pan. The cutting board looked like I had butchered an animal on it. (Apparently the liver is a very bloody organ, which I find funny, as I have never before thought of my liver as being rich in blood.)

I got my dish assembled; we were ready to eat. I tasted it myself. Not bad! The generous taste of bacon fat only enhanced the deliciousness of the dish. Even better, Daniel ate it, and he actually seemed to like it. Nathan, on the other hand, tried one bite and then said, "Mommy, I don't like it." Over the next two days, I cooked liver two more times as we finished off the package. The liver was delicious, as long as it remained pink. A couple of pieces reached the gray, rubbery stage. Those nasty little chunks made me understand how liver probably got its reputation as a gross food. I came up with a little ditty to solve all liver eating dilemmas.

Liver cooked right,
Eater's delight.
Liver overcooked.
Better overlooked.

Love your liver!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fifty First Dates--Minus Forty-Nine...

...or all about why I'm glad I only ever had to go on one first date.

Reason Number One: I'm not good at them (or so I suspect). Why do I think this? Well, because I'm horrible at meeting people. For one thing, I get terribly nervous. My stomach hurts, I sweat, and I often start shaking. I'm also horrible at making small talk, mainly because I only ask questions that I really want to know the answer to. This often means I skip the expected pleasantries and ask something that may be received as an invasion of privacy or an inappropriate question. (So you recently had a colonoscopy? What was that like?) I have zero tolerance for social lies. (How does this top look on me? Well, to be honest, not that good.) Perfect candor is great in an established relationship because you will always know where you stand with me, but isn't such a great thing when trying to navigate the maze that is getting to know someone.

Reason Number Two: I don't like to dress up. At all. Ever. Not even in blue jeans. I like my sweats, and I don't want the elastic waist to be too tight. Especially since the second baby. There's just no bounce-back left in my sad, saggy tummy. I keep hoping for a miracle, but so far, nothing. However, even back in my college days when everything was a little firmer than now, I still loved my comfortable clothes. I know the rule is dress for success, but they might as well say dress to compress. Fortunately, my husband loves me even when I'm rocking a fine pair of purple sweats. Not sure how that would go over on a first date though.

Reason Number Three: I hated the meat market that was dating. I had a guy approach me my freshman year and try to ask me out while telling me he thought of dating as an "all-you-can-eat buffet." Strike one and you're out, buddy! I never really thought the wardrobe approach the best way to start a lasting relationship either. (Hmmm... Let me try you on for size. Nope, not working, I'll cast you aside for my next selection.) Seems like a good way to practice ending your relationships, not keeping them for life. I'm not saying I think you're a horrible person if you dated two or three or ten people, only that I think serial dating to be, generally, unwise.

Reason Number Four: I love my husband, and I'm so glad we met, and married, young, so we could start our life together. I love that he indulges me in my crazy whims, and does it without making me feel like a crazy person. I love that he has made me become a better person (and it wasn't because he was trying to improve me; I would have hated that). I love that he never shied away from committing to me in a world where genuine commitment is so very rare. I love that he is the father of my two precious children, the one who plays peek-a-boo with them over the couch. I love that I didn't have to sort through a bunch of jerks to find the man who was right for me. I'm so thankful that God knew I could only handle one first date, and lined up all the details perfectly.

How perfect the equation: one first date+two people who fell in love=fifty first dates-forty-nine

Thursday, October 21, 2010


All kids have them: those cute things they say that you don't want to forget, but because you're so (tired, distracted, busy) you do, unless you record them right away! Some of the things Nathan has said that have made me laugh:

Yogret (sounds kind of like "egret")
Translation: Yogurt

Fruit Cottontail
Translation: Fruit cocktail

Stein-Stein Bears
Translation: Berenstain Bears

Ritz Crozalyn
Translation: Ritz Carlton

Translation: Sandwich

Fall's coming this winter!
Translation: hmmm...

Bonus entertaining Nathan moment:
The first time Nathan saw his big boy bed, he said "I can't believe my eyes!"

Monday, October 18, 2010

Good things are happening

I know a lot of the stuff I've posted about lately has been tough things, so I wanted to share a few of the things that have been going right lately.

Daniel has started sleeping a lot better, sometimes nine to ten hour stretches. Everyone who has been reading the blog will know how I feel about that. My brain has stopped feeling quite so much like cotton candy.

My house is clean. No, I didn't do it. My mother-in-law spoke my love language by sending me Lisa, a gem of a woman who calls her cleaning service a way to make money and a ministry. Boy, did she minister to me! She and her partner Angie cleaned, organized, and left our house sparkling and looking better than it has since we moved in.

It's fall. The best time of year for so many reasons. Not the least of which is being liberated from the oven which we call a Georgia summer. I love that first little bite of cool air. It makes me feel like anything is possible.

I found a multivitamin/multimineral Daniel can take. Maybe this doesn't seem like such a big accomplishment; however, I ran into a couple of obstacles during my search. Almost all infant drops only contain vitamins, and because of Daniel's dietary restrictions, I felt that he needed something that also contained minerals. Also, I had a difficult time finding a vitamin free of all the substances Daniel is allergic to, since even the hypoallergenic formulas contained rice protein. But I finally found something. It's an aloe and seaweed base, sweetened with stevia and flavored with elderberry. Best of all, when I started giving it to him, it didn't make him itch!

I have brand new winter clothes. Thanks to a couple of productive shopping trips (which I oh-so-rarely take) and a bag of hand-me-downs, I have plenty of long-sleeve tees, a couple of cute jackets and sweaters, and enough new pants to get me through the cold weather. And I bought a pair of brown, backless, fleece-lined heels, the first heels I have bought in years. We'll see how that goes. I'm reserving them for very special occasions only (read, no kids).

I have figured out a variety of foods we can eat on the allergy diet. We've eaten plenty of meat, potatoes and vegetables, but we've also had spaghetti (thanks to the corn and quinoa pasta I found), and nachos (with my homemade taco seasoning, just as delicious as the packaged stuff and without that unnatural orange coloring). We are, by default, eating healthier than we ever have, more fruit, more veggies, more beans. Fewer preservatives, artificial colorings, and sweeteners.

I could go on, but I need to wrap up this post and pay some concentrated attention to my two favorite little good things, one of whom has just covered his hands in stamp pad ink. Here's to the good life!

Define me

I am not defined by my problems. I am defined by how I choose to respond to my problems.

I am not defined by my struggles. I am defined by my resilience.

I am not defined by the events in my life. I am defined by the content of my character.

I am not defined by my pain. I am defined by my joy.

I am not defined by how I feel, how I look, or how others perceive me. I am defined by my place as God's child, by the way God sees me, and by the motives he perceives in my heart.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Perfect Birth Vs. the No-Regrets Birth

I recently read a blog about "The Myth of the Perfect Birth" and it prompted me to think about the concept of the perfect birth. I'm a dedicated birth junkie. I believe that how birth happens is important, and that "mother and baby are healthy" outcomes should not be the only goal (although they will always be the primary and most important goal). Between my two births, I have experienced just about everything possible in the birth world. I've had an induction, artificially ruptured membranes, epidural, and c-section (Nathan). I've had a home birth, labored in the water, no medication (not even a Tylenol), pushed the baby out in my own bed, episiotomy performed by my home birth midwife, stitched up by my hospital based doctor (Daniel). I think the only thing I haven't experienced is a short, uncomplicated labor (lucky me). So I well know that having the perfect birth can truly be an unattainable goal for some, particularly if your wishes for the birth involve more than getting the baby out any way possible. However, I do believe it is possible for any mom in any situation to have what I call a "no-regrets" birth.

I had a "no-regrets" birth with Daniel. I did not with Nathan. You might be sitting there thinking, "Well, duh. You finally got your natural, vaginal birth--and after a c-section, no less!" Actually, Daniel's birth would have been "no-regrets" even if I had ended up in the hospital having a repeat c-section (although I would NOT have been a happy camper). What made Daniel's birth "no-regrets" and Nathan's birth not was that, with Daniel, I made the best possible choices to promote the chances of having the birth I wanted. I advocated for myself. I stepped out (Stephen would say WAY out) of the box. I took risks, but they were the risks that I chose to take, eyes wide open. And if my birth had not turned out the way I had hoped, I would have known that I had done everything possible to make it what I wanted, and for reasons beyond my control, it was not meant to be.

I had to do a lot of emotional processing after Nathan's birth, especially since his birth was pretty much the exact opposite from what I intended. I wanted the complete natural package: make the big phone call ("I'm in labor, honey!"), labor in my home for much of the time, arrive at the hospital just in time to close the deal and push the baby out with lots of panting, sweating, and no meds. Snuggle baby for the prescribed hour before he was even removed from my arms. Nurse right away. Sometimes reality bites. Two weeks overdue, I checked into the hospital with an unfavorable cervix for an induction. Two Cervidils, lots of Pitocin, and one artificial rupture of the membranes later, I was in serious pain with no, and I mean NO progress. The doctor, trying to be positive, said, "I think you're about a fingertip now." Not what I was looking for, lady! When she said that sometimes having the epidural can relieve the pain and promote dilation, all my mental fortitude went out the window. After a horrible hour of waiting for the epidural man to arrive, I started to get some relief from the pain, but my blood pressure dropped and Nathan's heart rate dropped. The only way they could stabilize us was dropping the Pitocin levels. I remember them wheeling in the table with all the delivery instruments on it and thinking "But I'm not even dilated." I guess they had made up their mind that the baby needed to be delivered one way or the other, and the next cervical check would decide my fate. The news was not good. Still a centimeter. No way the baby was coming out that way. It was off to the O.R. The c-section could have been a poster birth for the doctors. Nathan came out pink and healthy. No complications with performing the surgery or the anesthesia. Stephen held Nathan minutes after he was born. I had to listen to his cry from my position, immobilized on the operating table. After a quick glimpse of him, Nathan was whisked off to the newborn nursery, and I dozed as they stitched me up, exhausted by the ordeal. It was hours before I saw him again. Finally, close to midnight, I sent Stephen to get Nathan, and told him, unequivocally, that he was not to come back until he brought the baby with him. I missed out on so many of the moments that were important to me. Being the first to hold the baby after he was born. Being there to watch the grandparents see the baby for the first time. Being there for those first precious hours of my baby's life. I was drugged, separated, and devastated. When my baby finally did arrived, wheeled in one of those little plastic carts, I clung to him. He was beautiful. Perfect. Everything I had longed for. Yet I couldn't let go of how everything had gone so horribly against my expectations.

To this day the "what-if's" swirl in my head. What if we had watched and waited for another day? Or two? Or three? How long would we have had to wait for my own body to initiate labor? What if we had done a slower induction? More ripener and more time before cranking the Pit? Or what if I hadn't let them break my waters? Would that have provided enough cushion to make the contractions gentler so Nathan wouldn't have been stressed by them? Or bearable so I wouldn't have had the epidural that initiated the decelerations? What if? What if, what if, what if?

I'm a person who wants to know. Even if the news is the worst, most horrifying news possible, just tell me so we can start dealing with it. Unfortunately, I'll never know if the cascade of intervention was responsible for the scar I now bear. I've worked through much of my emotional pain, although I still feel a pang when I hear a glowing new mom's story of how perfectly everything happened. I've come to a place of acceptance. I made the best decisions I could with the information I had at the time. I'm so thankful that my baby was born healthy. I'm so thankful that I healed well, and to this point, have experienced no complications from my Cesarean scar. I have so much to be thankful for, but it does not negate the way things happened or the toll it took on me. My birth experience was so far from the expectations that I had that I felt a little bit like I had planned a lovely trip to Paris but was shoved off with nothing but a parachute and landed in the middle of Nigeria. (I don't know anything about Nigeria. I really didn't want to go to Nigeria. But here I am in Nigeria. What do I do now?)

It took a work of God to accomplish my emotional healing. HE is able. Although I have questions, I no longer have regrets about Nathan's birth. But that is due to the greatness of my God, not the smallness of my problem (if you couldn't read between the lines, it was not a small problem to me). I am boasting in the Lord, because I am an overcomer. I have climbed this mountain, and He held my hand.

I knew pretty much as Nathan was being yanked from my abdomen that I would try for a VBAC with my second child. Although I did not know it at the time, I walked out of that hospital a very different person. While becoming a mother, I had found my voice, and I was ready to speak up for myself and my child, and all my future children. I did not know when I was having Nathan how much of an impact caregiver and location have on birth interventions and outcomes. After his birth, I became a research maniac. I read every book on birth I could get my hands on. I searched the internet. I joined ICAN's message board. I stared in (loving) disbelief when other mommies told me they were scheduling their elective repeat c-section. I obtained my records and pored over details of my scar placement and the relative risks of uterine rupture. I compared the risks of uterine rupture to the risks of catastrophic placental complications associated with multiple c-section scars. I found out the dirty little secret of obstetrics in the US: they smile and tell you you can have a VBAC while secretly sharpening their scalpel. You can have a VBAC, if you go into labor before 39 weeks, if the baby is perfectly positioned, if the baby is not too big, if you don't have any pregnancy complications. Perfect births happen rarely, but they almost never happen to a VBAC mom, probably because VBAC moms often have to overcome the issue that led to the initial Cesarean, whether that be a tendency to bake their babies longer (as I do), or a history of carrying their babies breech, stubborn cervixes, or a pelvic structure that does not lend itself to easy passage for babies looking for the exit. So to create conditions that only permit VBAC if birth is proceeding perfectly explains the abysmal VBAC rate in the United States.

That was when I started contemplating a home birth. Note that at this point, I was not even pregnant. I was crafting my master plan. I had discovered the secret. Having the birth you want is not a process of checking the appropriate boxes on your printed birth plan. Neither is it being in the right place in your own head, although that certainly helps. Are you ready? Here's the secret: you have to choose the right people to surround you during an extremely vulnerable time. I can be a bit of a control freak at times, so I was surprised to discover during Nathan's birth that although these people must obtain your consent before moving forward with anything, other people manage your birth. Particularly if you are planning a medication free birth, someone else has to be in charge while you breathe, scream, pant, and just try to survive while thinking that you'd rather be dead. And if you choose medication, it can dull your usually sharp faculties at the same moment you are forced to make life-altering decisions. What loving mom or dad can look at a doctor who is saying "Well, I'm a little concerned about this baby's well-being," and refuse any intervention to get that beloved baby in their arms safely? That's why it's important to know that your attending doctor or midwife knows your wishes, has your back, and that you can trust them not to recommend anything to you until it is definitely necessary.

I think if you're still reading, you might be a birth junkie too, but, believe it or not, I have more to say! I haven't even started on my journey with my little Daniel. But it's time to post and save Daniel's story, and the rest of my thoughts, for later. Until then, happy birthing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Family Vacation

Day 1:

We plan to leave for the beach as soon as we can get ready, but do not set a departure time. We finally pull out of the driveway at 12:30.

The kids whine a lot, and can only be silenced by copious amounts of sugary snacks.

Five minutes from the condo, Nathan has an accident because he can't hold it. (He told us he had to go five minutes before it happened).

We arrive at the condo and find there is no crib. Apparently, everyone thought someone else called on it.

Stephen calls for a crib and they won't be able to bring one until morning.

Daniel runs around the condo at 3:00 a.m. I try to corral him and get him back to sleep.

Day 2:

Crib does not come first thing in the morning as promised.

Husband stays in sleep coma until after 10:00. Kids whine, disobey, and generally annoy their mother.

Stephen heads to Walmart. He plans to call on the crib if it hasn't arrived by the time he gets back. I sit on the couch, growing increasingly desperate.

Still no crib.

We find out the ball has been dropped again, and a crib was not even on the way. We are told a crib will be here by bedtime.

I have emotional meltdown. I feel like crying, but instead take out frustration on husband and children. (Make them get me a crib, NOW! YOU are not the one who got no sleep last night!)

CRIB ARRIVES!!!! Daniel is so tired that he is almost as thrilled as I am to see it there. He takes a blissful, three-hour nap.

Nathan finally gets to go to the beach for the first time on our trip after dinner.

My tummy is upset because I have been eating too many sweets.

Day 3:

Nathan wakes before eight. I lock bedroom door to keep him from waking up Daniel. Nathan breaks sunglasses trying to pick lock.

I try to remove very full bag from trashcan. Bag busts. I pick up diapers covered in chicken bones coated with oatmeal.

Husband is in sleep coma again.

I relieve frustration on blog, and hope I won't have anything to add to it except what a great time we had for the rest of our family vacation.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Another Passy Episode

I took the boys for a walk this morning. I wanted to get out and enjoy the cool weather before the weather turned warm, so we left early (for us) at 9:30. We had a lovely walk around our 1.5 mile circle, that is, until about a half mile from home, I realized we were missing the passy that had been in Daniel's mouth when we left. I dug around in Daniel's seat, hoping to find it crammed under one of his legs. No luck. I turned the stroller and walked back a few paces, trying to spot it on the ground. As I needed to go to the bathroom rather urgently, I decided to walk the last half mile to home, relieve myself, get some water for the boys, and walk the circle again to find the rogue passy.

Now, my boys love going for a walk, but they have about a thirty minute tolerance for the stroller, plus Daniel was overdue for his morning nap by the time we started our second circle around the neighborhood. Five minutes in, Daniel was crying. Ten minutes in, screaming. Fifteen minutes in, full-blown meltdown. No sign of the passy.

To distract myself from the natural disaster in the front of my stroller, I listed all the upsides we were enjoying thanks to the lost passy.

1. The seatbelt straps of the double stroller were tested against the full might of a fifteen-month-old's tantrum, and were not found wanting, although he did manage to pop out one side of the removable stroller shade by vigorous flailing.

2. My patience increased. (Lord, don't I have enough patience already?)

3. I had an unplanned double workout today. Thanks to the screaming, I walked faster and my heart pumped rapidly.

The downside: I found the passy about thirty paces back from where I had noticed it missing, and my child screamed all the way home.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What to eat

"What am I going to eat?" Usually a question I ask while peering into the recesses of the refrigerator, but a question that took on a whole new meaning for us this past week. We went to the allergist Tuesday and after a screaming, thrashing ordeal drew three vials of blood in order to do food allergy testing. The doctor tested for ten different foods, all of the most common allergens plus cashews, almonds, and rice. Friday the nurse called and said the doctor wanted to speak to me. As I sat waiting on hold, I thought to myself that Daniel must be allergic to something, because if he wasn't, the nurse would have just told me.

When the doctor started talking, I found out that Daniel was allergic to eight of the ten foods the doctor tested for: peanuts, cashews, milk, eggs, wheat, almonds, soy, and rice. I've never even heard of anybody who is allergic to rice! The only two foods we tested that he wasn't allergic to were fish and shellfish. I sat there stunned and tried to ask a few intelligent questions. I confirmed that since I'm still nursing Daniel, I would need to eliminate all of the same foods. When I hung up the phone, I felt like a deflated balloon.

Philosophically, I'm always for whole foods and making meals from scratch, but realistically, I'm tired, and sometimes, I just want to pop a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner. Unfortunately, the list of forbidden foods could easily be the ingredient list for any American convenience food I could think of. Pizza? Obviously not. Sandwiches? Nope. Hot Dogs? Maybe without the bun? Can't have that either. Fast Food? Restaurants? A minefield waiting for an allergic reaction to happen. I was overwhelmed. Completely, utterly, absolutely overwhelmed.

Once I finally emerged from the initial shock, I decided I needed to take action. Specifically, I needed to make a list. So I listed all the foods that we could have. It looked like the world's healthiest diet, except for the bacon. Tons of veggies, seafood, all kinds of meats, fruits, and obscure grains like millet and quinoa (so obscure that blogger's spell check doesn't recognize the word "quinoa"). Olive oil, grape seed oil, canola oil. Well, I have been trying to lose weight...

Friday, September 3, 2010

What nobody told me about being a parent

Nobody told me how stressful parenting is. Seriously. Like, being an air traffic controller pales in comparison. After all, not only are you responsible for saving lives, but those lives belong to tiny little beings who are more precious than anything else in all the world to you.

Nobody told me how messy it gets when children are around all the time. No matter how fast a mom moves to clean up, the children will always move faster to make a new, and probably bigger mess.

Nobody told me that being a parent means you don't get to sleep ever again. After a baby wakes you up every single night for months, your body forgets how to sleep through the night, even when the baby does.

Nobody told me how quickly your ideals can go down the toilet. Like when your picky 15-month old child will only eat beans, meat, and baby food. Although the faint hope remains that he will someday eat a balanced diet, you find yourself immensely grateful that he eats anything at all.

Nobody told me that raising two boys was like refereeing a never-ending hockey game. Someone is always running around, getting in a fight, hitting someone, or taking something that belongs to someone else.

Nobody told me how easy it would be to forget how much you wanted your children before life became catastrophe following crisis, or how you would have moments where that mother-love for your children would flash so clearly at the oddest of times.

Nobody told me that to love your children with all your heart can be the most exquisite pain and the most beautiful pleasure.

If somebody had told me, I might have been too afraid to embark on this journey, but I would have missed out on two of the greatest joys of my life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I conquered!

Our sluggish kitchen drain was getting worse and worse, and my kitchen was getting dirtier and dirtier. Thank goodness for my dad, who is one of those people who can fix anything. (I'm one of those people who doesn't know what to do with anything that falls under the category of "home repair.") I was speaking to him on the phone and mentioned my sluggish drain problem. I told him about the boiling water and the baking soda/vinegar combo I tried. He recommended plunging the sink. Never would have thought of that!

After sterilizing the plunger (the only one we have has been in the toilet), I went to town on the drain. I guess I had some built up tension from the stress of the last couple of days. To appreciate the full humor of the situation, you must understand I was standing on our step stool with one foot on a drain plug in one side of the sink, vigorously plunging away at the other side. Five good plunges later and all that manky water just drained away beautifully making such a loud sucking sound that Nathan looked up from his playing to ask what it was.

With so many things feeling out of my control, it's good to be empowered by a victory over one of the smaller, but oh-so-satisfying to resolve things.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Like, Whoa.

I'm taking a deep breath because the last couple of days have been a doozy (spell check does not recognize doozy as being a legitimate word; trust me, it is, and I know exactly what it means). First, I had something funny going on with my email. Several emails had apparently been sent from my email and bounced back as spam, but the emails did not show up in my sent folder. Stephen and I tried to figure out if my email account had actually been breached or if the information had been obtained through some other means. I changed my password. Then the new password didn't work. It was a mess. Finally, we seemed to get it all straightened out, although I was left feeling violated by some nameless force in cyberspace.

My kitchen sink has been draining (or not draining) in an increasingly sluggish manner, which has had the effect of making me even less motivated to wash dishes. It has also burped nasty food bit laden spurts of water whenever the dishwasher has been running. I've tried pouring several large pots of boiling water down the sink with no effect, and tried the baking soda and vinegar mix followed by boiling water. Time to move on to some hardcore Drano, I guess, although I hate using any kind of caustic chemical.

Fortunately, Nanny volunteered to babysit Saturday night, so I was able to postpone cleaning the wreck that is my kitchen until another day. Stephen and I headed out to the Village Cafe for a wonderful, delicious dinner. We talked, we ate, we ate some more. Then we paid with our credit card. Or thought we paid. When Stephen checked the ticket to add the tip, he noticed that the receipt said "Sale forced." Hmm. We remembered that we had received new cards in the mail about a week ago and they were still sitting in the envelope under the loveseat. Stephen said he thought the new cards had new numbers. We called the waitress back over to the table. She went back to verify the sale went through. Stephen used the internet on his phone to check if the number had, in fact, changed. I sat at the table and tried not to stress over the increasingly complicated transaction. Once the waitress came back to the table, she said it hadn't gone through, so we provided another card, and, having finally paid for our meal, left the restaurant.

This paragraph will probably contain too much information for some of you, so if you're one of those TMI kind of people, skip immediately to the next paragraph. For all of you who want to know every single gory detail, later that night as we were coming home from our date, I started feeling my bladder spasm, and instantly felt paranoia gripping me. I knew it was a bladder infection coming on. If you have had a bladder infection, you know that it is a horribly painful condition that can have a surprisingly rapid onset. We went by the grocery store where I picked up some 100% cranberry juice. I've never had alcohol, but I have a feeling 100% cranberry juice is about on par with straight vodka, in other words, something you resort to only for the purposes of getting drunk fast, or a desperate attempt to knock out a bladder infection that's brewing. I chugged a few ounces of cranberry juice. We started watching Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I spasmed. I chugged some more. I put a glass of cranberry juice on the bathroom sink which I chugged in the middle of the night. I chugged a glass of cranberry juice the next morning. Still spasming, but without developing further symptoms, I decided, cautiously, that I may have escaped my potential fate this time. I decided to make a chicken broccoli casserole.

We sat down to the table and started eating. I picked out the chicken, broccoli, and rice for Daniel, who can't have milk or wheat products because of his eczema. He ate hungrily, but after a few minutes he started scratching at his head and face. Scratching while eating is not that unusual for Daniel, so I didn't think much of it and continued feeding him. A few minutes later I looked at him and his eyes looked red and swollen. Then I noticed that his bottom lip had puffed out. I went straightaway to the cabinet and gave him a large dose of an antihistamine. Stephen and I tried to decide if we needed to take Daniel somewhere. I called Walgreens to see how long it should take before the medicine kicked in and the pharmacist said it could take up to half an hour for the medicine to be metabolized. Daniel continued to swell. We decided we needed to head to the urgent care down in Griffin. Stephen put Nathan in his seat while I frantically grabbed a diaper and a passy. We arranged for someone to meet us at urgent care and pick up Nathan. I monitored Daniel to make sure he was still breathing okay as his lips and eyes swelled up to epic proportions. We arrived at the Urgent Care only to find that they had changed their hours a month before without bothering to update their website. We passed Nathan on, and jumped back in the van to head down to the hospital. As soon as I walked in the emergency room door, the nurse at the desk saw Daniel's face and rushed us back to a room. Someone started checking his lungs, which thankfully sounded fine. They tried to put in an IV line to get medication in his bloodstream. Tried the elbow, couldn't get a vein. Tried a foot, no luck. Tried his hand. By this time, Daniel was screaming, and I was feeling increasingly desperate. Finally they decided to do an intramuscular injection in his leg, a steroid shot in one and a shot of benadryl in the other. After that, every time someone tried to touch Daniel, or I even tried to shift in the chair, he would start to cry. He feel into an exhausted sleep on my shoulder. Meanwhile, we anxiously watched his face for signs that the swelling was going down. Two hours later, the lip had finally deflated, and we headed home.

Today, Daniel is much better, although I am left wondering exactly what triggered such a reaction. I set up an appointment with an allergist, and we will probably need to do some testing. I really hope we can pinpoint what caused the reaction, so I don't feel like there's an unknown menace always waiting to pounce.

Oh, and I never did get a bladder infection. Chalk it up to the cranberry juice, or maybe it was all just mental to begin with.

Like I said, doozy. Take that, computer spell check!

Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm exhausted. After a pregnancy, a baby who woke every night until the next pregnancy, another pregnancy, and a baby who still wakes up just about every night, I'M TIRED. I feel like a broken record because the overarching theme of every day is fatigue/tired/exhausted/want a nap/want to go bed/want my children to go to bed/want my children to stay asleep. See a recurring message here? MAMA WANT TO GO SLEEPY!

For me, the worst part is not the physical exhaustion, although that is hard to cope with. I don't like feeling like I am in a constant fog. I don't like feeling the last bit of my energy seeping out of my toes into a watery puddle on the floor. I don't like being too tired to exercise (If you've read some of my other blog posts, you know how I feel about exercise).

But the WORST part of being so tired is the emotional toll it takes. I am not an emotionally unstable person at my deepest, well-rested core. I am normally very even-keeled and easy-going. However, the key to maintaining my serenity is sleep--and lots of it. I'm a nine-hours-and-sometimes-more-than-that-a-night kind of girl. I'm a don't-even-think-about-waking-me-up-until-it's-morning kind of girl.

So after a thousand and one nights of little chunks of broken restless sleep, I'm a little irritable. Sometimes I'd like to cry, but I can't muster the energy. Sometimes I get really mad. Sometimes Dr. Jekyll competent and loving mom morphs into Mr. Hyde who wonders what to do with these kids now that she has them.

The thing that makes the ugly green monster now inside me rear its ugly head the most is, not surprisingly, when people tell me about how their (6 month old, 3 month old, 4 week old) baby is now sleeping through the night. If you are a mom who has told me your baby sleeps through the night, I still love you and bear you no ill will. However, at the moment I heard those words, I may have given you a blank stare while thinking unspeakable thoughts (something like "AaaggGGHHHH!!!!").

I know that my littlest one will eventually sleep well every night in my head, but my implosive, exhausted emotional center says "How long, Oh Lord?" Yes, I have prayed, and continue to pray that my baby will sleep. I have also laid in the bed in the middle of the night hearing a screaming baby and prayed things like "Please, just make it stop. Why are you doing this to me?" and other equally irrational things.

Oh, and until I'm past my present exhausted, emotional state, please do not tell me you know how I feel unless you have walked in my shoes (back and forth to the crib four or five times a night for innumerable nights). Going to bed late and feeling tired the next day is not the same thing. Having to get up a couple of times a night with a small baby for a couple of months is not the same thing! Being tired by your own choosing because you didn't go to bed at a reasonable time every night for months is not the same thing!!

If I seem a little extra emotional today, chalk it up to the caprices of nature. Daniel slept from 10:00 last night to 7:00 this morning, but just as I was sinking into a desperate, delightful sleep last night, an extremely loud thunderstorm began that kept me awake until after 12:30. So yes, I'M STILL TIRED!

Not by the book

I love books. I am always reading something. When I want to undertake a new project, the first thing I do is check out a few books from the library and read up on the subject. It was a book that originally inspired me to start gardening. I love all kinds of books, but especially non-fiction. I just want to know about stuff! So of course when we were expecting Nathan, I read lots of books and added a couple of my favorites to our personal library. (Just in case you were wondering, my all time favorite baby book just so happens to be called "The Baby Book" by William and Martha Sears.) Just like most new moms, I thumbed through the book to figure out when fevers were high enough to merit a trip to the doctor, what the right dosage of Tylenol was and whether to use it when Nathan was fussy for no apparent reason, and how to start him on solid foods. Most of all, I wanted to know, was this (bowel movement, skin rash, spit up, weight loss, weight gain) NORMAL. With Nathan, it pretty much always was. Of my two boys, Nathan would most closely fit the book parameters of normal. In fact, as a baby, Nathan was abnormal only because he was such a super-good baby. He hit all his milestones at the appropriate times. He ate a full feeding of rice cereal the first time we fed any to him. We could take him anywhere and he would be happy. As long as he wasn't hungry or tired, he never cried. However, he didn't sleep through the night until he was twenty months old. Newly pregnant with Daniel, I simply couldn't continue getting up with him every night, and after a couple of nights, he started sleeping through. About three months into my pregnancy, we just gently and easily weaned him from nursing with no trauma to mama or baby. He was not by the book; he was better than I could have ever expected.

Then we had my other, absolutely not-by-the-book baby, Daniel. Daniel did not sleep, cried a lot, and wanted to nurse all the time. He developed severe eczema (extremely itchy, red rash over his entire body) at about eight weeks. I had to put socks over his hands to keep him from scratching until he was bloody. He also teethed constantly from six months on. (He already has about twenty teeth.) When it was time to start solids, I discovered that he wanted nothing to do with any solid food. No fruit, no veggies, no cereal. He dropped into the bottom 10th percentile for his weight. The books had no answers for what I really wanted to know. How do I make this child eat? How do I relieve the endless itching? How do I get a full night of sleep when I can't let my baby cry it out? I didn't know, and they didn't either. It made me feel a teeny, tiny bit better that even the so-called baby experts wouldn't have any idea what to do with my baby.

Daniel's a little older now and we've figured a few things out. We've found a lotion that helps his skin heal faster when he does scratch it up. I've discovered that he loves a few foods as much as he despises others: sweet potatoes, meat, and beans, which I can pretend is a relatively balanced diet. And one would hope that we could have a break from teething since the only ones not already through are the two year molars. And Daniel has had several nights recently where he has only woken up one time. I, on the other hand, have struggled with insomnia, no doubt precipitated by spending a year of my life getting up several times a night.

Nathan is a bright three-year old who continues to be pretty easy-going, except when he tackles his little brother eighteen or twenty times a day. We're starting to learn his letters (which is a whole new kettle of fish; teaching my child how to read is much, much scarier than potty-training). He has continued to flourish, despite the massive drains on his mommy's time from his little brother. I am so thankful for the resilience God gave to children. He loves to sit with Mommy and Daddy and read our favorite Little Critter books.

Since I have tagged Daniel as being a difficult child, I want to add this caveat. Lest you think Daniel has been a burden without a return, let me tell you that, like a lot of children with physical problems or special needs, he is so full of love. This morning as I washed the floor in the kitchen (on my hands and knees, because I hate mops), he walked over to me and put his little arms around my neck. He also still sits in my lap and snuggles, something Nathan only did at this age if he was nursing. There are rewards!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Plethora of Problems Keep Me From Fitting in Fitness

Normally, I am the queen of at-home exercise. I have a DVD library so that whatever mood I'm in, I can step with Cathe, get my groove on with Allison, find my zen with Sara, or practice pilates with Ellen. My daily exercise is a huge source of stress relief for me, and boy do I need stress relief, especially on days when the monster eczema rears its ugly head. I look forward to Daniel's nap time as my mini-vacation from the demands of daily life. I know, a lot of people probably can't relate, but I like exercising. Stephen and I used to make fun of a t-shirt created at Berry College with a list of natural highs, but exercising really does give me a wonderful, natural high.

So you can imagine my frustration at the onset of multiple exercise inhibiting issues. Some of the issues have been plaguing me off and on since Daniel's birth, such as a general feeling of instability in my pelvis and ongoing back pain from my little Daniel who loves to be toted. However, I know these stresses are part of the job description for mothers of small children, so I just worked through it. I actually decided, after trying an extended rest period that did NOT help, that I just needed to work all those areas and attempt to strengthen them. Anyways, I was not letting those aches and pains hold me back. But a few weeks ago, I started having nagging pain in the joint of my big toe, phantom pain that came and went with no obvious cause. A couple of days, the pain was so intense that I was hobbling around gingerly. I decided another rest was in order. After about ten days of no exercise, I was ready to start back. I did a couple of days of workouts; the toe wasn't worse, but wasn't all better, so I decided to employ the same, grit-my-teeth and get through it strategy I had used for my back.

Well, that same day I bashed my little toe into our kitchen step stool. I felt no pain for about two minutes, but soon discovered that was only because my toe had been completely numb. When the feeling came back, it HURT. I felt like I might have even broken it. Of course, the injury necessitated more rest, although I did go ahead with an upper body strength workout. Another week later, I have decided my toe was not broken, although it has turned a lovely shade of periwinkle violet.

Today, I finally attempted a full body, low impact workout. It went well. My toe was a tad sore, but not a major issue. However, when it was time for the relatively intense Pilates floorwork, Nathan (who was not sleeping) decided it was the perfect time to come lay on Mama, lean on my legs that were hovering in the air (making my major ab work more intense than I really wanted it to be), and generally sit or stand anywhere that would disrupt my good form. Ah well, life with small kids. I love 'em, but they are demanding, even the good ones like my two precious boys. And what little kid can resist the human jungle gym that is an adult laying on the floor with limbs splayed in all directions?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My big boy

I've written a post about Daniel, so I thought I'd write a few things about Nathan. He's still a really easy child. Of course, we have to train and discipline, but he's usually pretty responsive (for a three year old). He's got a strong grasp of language, but he's still working through some of the more obscure wordings and pronunciation. He says "yogret" instead of "yogurt," and "mans" instead of "men." He also misunderstands what we say sometimes, although he's always listening. The other day we dropped by Publix and were looking for apple fritters for Papa, and he kept saying, "Where's the apple critters?" Today I was talking to Stephen and I asked if he wanted to go today to get Nathan's C-A-R-S-E-A-T, and Nathan heard me spelling and said, "Mommie, I want a C-G-A!"

I'm afraid Nathan has inherited my wicked sweet tooth. Today we went to Truett's for ice cream, and he ate a cookie and drank a third of my milk shake (and would have drunk more, had there been any left). He loves marshmallows and cookies. However, he also eats many healthy foods. He LOVES creamed corn and corn on the cob. He also likes roasted zucchini, pan sauteed green beans, and grape tomatoes straight from the plant. Another favorite is cheese (something else I think he probably inherited from me).

As far as toys are concerned, Nathan has two favorite things--balls and cars. He loves kicking balls, throwing balls, hitting balls with a baseball bat, and sleeping with them in his bed at night. He plays with his cars like they're little people. "Hi Percy, what are you doing?" The cars go to the grocery store, they play at the play ground, they go to the Mexican restaurant.

When it comes to going places, Nathan is his father's son. Stephen just about goes stir-crazy if he has to stay at the house all day. I, on the other hand, could stay home for days on end, and find myself getting stressed out if I have to run errands on too many consecutive days. Just about every day, Nathan wakes up and one of the first things he asks is "Where are we going today?" On the days when I have to tell him we're not going anywhere, he's always so disappointed.

Now that I have two kids, I see even more clearly that each child is very much an individual. My two children are already very different, but I love them both with such overwhelming love. A couple of nights ago, I was putting Nathan to bed in his crib. I tucked him in, looked over the side and said, "I love you, Nathan." He looked straight up in my eyes and said, "I love you, Mommie!" Now those are the moments a mommy lives for!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Prince Caspian, the Movie: Regrettably, a Bummer

So I watched Prince Caspian for the second time. I tried to get into it. I really wanted to like it. I think it is so important to support family friendly movies no matter how cheesy they are, because they are so few and far between. Prince Caspian from a movie standpoint was very good. No obviously amateur actors. No cheap looking movie sets. No low-budget screenwriter. But I couldn't get past the gigantic gaps between the Prince Caspian C.S. Lewis introduced me to, and the Prince Caspian I saw in the movie.

Caspian in the book is uncertain about his fitness to rule as king. He fears that he is not ready to rule Narnia. He does not, however, have an unbridled sense of revenge towards his uncle that leads him to raid Miraz's castle (something which does happen in the movie).

Lewis's Peter tells Caspian early on that he did not come to claim the kingship for his own, but to help him regain his throne and establish Caspian as rightful king. Movie Peter has constant outbreaks of aggression towards Caspian as they engage in some kind of primal male posturing.

Oh yeah, and Caspian and Susan never have a barely cloaked passion for one another. In fact, in Lewis' book, there is no special chemistry between Caspian and Susan--ever.

I understand that of the seven Chronicles in Narnia, Prince Caspian is possibly the least movie-friendly book (the only rival for most boring movie screenplay being The Silver Chair, comprised of a long journey in the wilderness ending with one dramatic scene). The plot of waiting, gathering forces, trying to decide what an absent Aslan would have them do is not exactly thrilling big screen material.

Nonetheless, to depart so far from the character of the book as to, in my opinion, tamper with the integrity of the story, is intolerable, and that's the reason I won't watch Prince Caspian again, unless I just happen to forget how disgruntled it made me (I am still operating on about 65% of my ideal amount of sleep!).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Something to celebrate

I am gearing up for the Tour de France, running from July 3rd to July 25th. Last year I watched every bit of the last two-thirds of the race, and I was into it. Sometimes this amuses me since, growing up, I abhorred all sports save the two weeks of Olympics of which I watched as much as I could. So what happened? Well, babies happened. Any mama who has nursed a newborn knows just how much time you spend sitting on the couch milking. For those of you who haven't nursed newborns, the answer is A LOT.

With Nathan, I whiled away the hours by getting into golf (one of the sports I loved to hate as a child; isn't it funny how time changes us?). For Daniel, the sport was cycling. (Stephen keeps hoping I will pick up football as the next sport of choice; I told him we'd have to have a lot of kids, running out of other eligible sports for that to happen. In fact, the only sport I find more distasteful than football is fighting.) I watched these men push themselves to the limit, as I was pushed to the limit with a newborn who cried a lot, nursed a lot, and slept very little.

I didn't know that my own challenge would continue, day in and day out, for over a year. Actually, Daniel slept eight and a half hours without waking up last night. Unfortunately, I couldn't fall asleep until after four, only two hours before he did wake up. Yes, I am tired. But what's new?

Anyways, watching the Tour provided a much needed distraction for me. I was inspired to keep going, even as I had to keep going. After all, if these men could push themselves until their lungs were gasping for air and sweat dripped off their noses and fogged their sunglasses, when they didn't even have to, I could keep stumbling to the crib every two hours to feed and soothe my precious baby who depended on me for everything. So day after day, they fought to wear the yellow jersey, and I fought to keep going. It was the perfect sport for a time when I needed to see others persist through hard stuff.

So this year, as I watch, I will be cheering for more than my favorite cyclist. I will be celebrating getting through an impossible year. I will be celebrating the possibility of sleeping more this year. I will be celebrating Daniel, who is healthy and curious despite his skin disorder. I will be celebrating the Lord, who has carried me when I could not keep going on my own. I will be celebrating the prize that lays before me, and striving for it. I will be celebrating the joy of being a mother, the longest endurance marathon I can think of.

Oh yeah, and if my guy wins, I'll celebrate that too...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mommy Guilt

Okay, another moment in the hall of famous mommy guilt moments. I was feeding Daniel a little bowl of spaghetti sauce--maybe the messiest meal ever, especially since I was feeding him with the tip of my index finger. Because of his eczema, I try to be very careful not to leave anything on his skin for long, especially an acidic food like tomato, so I was frequently wiping his mouth off with a wet baby washcloth. About two-thirds of the way through, I glanced at the washcloth and was horrified to see hundreds of little black spots all over it, looking very much like mold. That's right, mold. Don't ask me how it happened, or even what was on the washcloth, but I felt terrible. Here I was, wiping my baby's sensitive little face, right on the mouth, with a cloth covered in who knows what disgusting substance. Not my best moment.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Shop at home

I was reading a magazine article about saving money. As expected, it was filled with the usual line-up of suggestions: don't pay fees on your credit card and checking accounts, use coupons at the grocery store, eat at home more. However, one tip did jump off the page as a fresh take on too much consumption.

Ready for it?

Shop your home. The article went on to say that most of us have made purchases of clothes, movies, and other sundry items that we have never worn or used at all. This started me thinking. I definitely have books I haven't read, games I have never played, and movies that I haven't watched. I thought about how much I already have that I could be enjoying if I would just get it out and utilize it.

I also have a ton of books and movies that are ready for a rerun. I think there's two kinds of people, those who do reruns and those who don't. For those of you who don't, the library and Redbox are probably your best money saving friend. However, for me, if I love it, I can never get enough of it. Just ask Stephen, who retreated into his sound blocking headphones while I watched Sahara last night for the fourth time (What can I say? I love a good, cheesy, action comedy!). And I've read Anne of Green Gables so many times that I literally wore the books out and am now preparing to replace them.

Shopping my home works for my kids too. Case in point, today I took out a Fisher-Price barn that had been in storage for a couple of months. Nathan acted like he had been reunited with a long lost friend. "My barn!" And Daniel gabbled and cooed the whole time he opened and closed the little doors, picked up the little animals, and slid the rooster back and forth.

So anyways, although I don't know that I'll give up shopping entirely, I am going to try to make sure I am maximizing my use of the things I already own, because if I'm not using and enjoying them, then they're just another thing that needs to be cleaned. (And we all know that's not going to happen!)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Pants Challenge

Daniel's first birthday is coming, and as it approaches, I have been doing a lot of reflecting, on things like how little sleep I have gotten in the past year and how much sugar I have eaten. (It takes a lot of sweets to keep going on very little sleep.) I've also been thinking about how said sugar habit has kept me from losing--you guessed it--the last five pounds.

Now I don't tend to obsess about the numbers on the scale too much, but I do have one big motivator: I want to wear my pre-pregnancy wardrobe again. My all time favorite khaki pants. My hot pink pants that I wore to my rehearsal dinner. And, of course, my skinniest skinny jeans. I've cut myself a lot of slack this past year because it's been one heck of a year, but I'm ready to give my best effort to getting rid of enough of the baby weight to wear my old clothes. Therefore, I am embarking on the Pants Challenge.

My goal is to get back into at least one of my old pairs of pants by August first. There. It's out there. I'm committed. Time to ramp up the exercise, go to bed early and take naps (essential if I'm going to cut down on the sweets), and control portions. If I do meet my goal, how do I plan to reward myself? How else? By getting some brand new pants.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sweet little Daniel boy

This post is all about my littlest sunshine, my huggable, snuggable little Daniel. I just took him for his nine month check-up (at ten and a half months) and he was in the fifth percentile for his weight. Between his skin issues and his major aversion to most solid foods, it has been really hard to keep him gaining weight. I'm trying a new strategy though that I hope will plump him up a little. I'm feeding him three meals a day of his favorite foods: sweet potatoes, carrots, and fruit, as much as he will eat. Then, I'm trying to introduce a greater variety of foods little by little. I don't know what to do with a picky eater. Daniel may be a second child, but Nathan was such a good eater that I have no experience with feeding a picky child. He doesn't like textures. He won't eat food that's too cold. He doesn't like the taste of green vegetables. Mainly, he likes sweet, smooth and slightly warm foods. Sounds a lot like breast milk, doesn't it?

Despite his teeny tiny size, he's getting around wherever he wants to go. He has this funny little crawl that's halfway between a regular crawl and sitting, but his own little style does not slow him down. He's also pulling up. I love it when I'm sitting on our couch and all of a sudden a little face pops up wearing the proudest expression of delight.

His favorite toy right now is a bendy straw. Yesterday he played with a straw for about two hours. He carried it around with him and held it in one hand as he picked up toys with his other. When I hold the straw in front of him, he breaks into a big grin like I've just offered him the best thing in the whole world. He also loves music. When we sit him down in front of the piano, he touches the keys one by one like he is playing his own special melody. Anytime he hears music, he perks up. I won't be surprised if he turns out to be my musical one; he already loves it.

Daniel's had a tough start to life. From the ambulance ride to the hospital after his birth to the endless itching and skin rashes, he's had a lot of stuff to deal with. But he doesn't know his life has been hard, and he is the most precious, loving baby I could have ever wanted. As I look at his face that has just popped up beside me again, I'm thanking God for entrusting me with this precious life for this time, and resolving to be faithful, in teaching him, loving him, and fattening him up, to the best of my ability.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ghetto Gardening: This is how I dig it

I'm in my second season of gardening. I guess that makes me a seasoned gardener. It does not, however, mean that I know anything about what I am doing. Now in classic Erin style, I've read multiple gardening books over the winter off-season, but reading books does not a gardener make. I have a few massive challenges between me and that luscious veggie harvest that I covet.

First and perhaps most insurmountable, I am trying to garden in a brick. You know that flaming orangey red Georgia clay? Yep, that's what's sitting about six inches under the surface. Here is where the books have failed me. Somehow, all these awesome gardeners who write books do not live in Georgia and do not try to grow plants in Georgia clay. One man recommended digging down 24 inches for the healthiest plants and the best ever vegetables. Not going to happen! After about twelve inches, the only way to proceed is with a pickaxe.

The other tiny little problem I have is that gardens take time, lots and lots of time. So do children. I have both. Obviously, my children take precedence, so often, the garden suffers. Dirt isn't dug. Seeds are planted. Plants aren't watered. There is however, one thing that I am good at, mainly because it requires little time and no attention--making compost. I have tacky piles of rotting plant and veggie matter all over my garden patch. All I have to do is dump my compost bucket every couple of days and let nature take its course. When I scooped out some compost to mix around my tomato plant, I was ecstatic to see earthworms. Sometimes, it's good to be excited about the simple things.

Anyway, I like to call what I do ghetto gardening. The two main features of ghetto gardening are a gardener with little time and even less money. Recently, right after I transplanted a couple of my tiny, fragile tomato seedlings, we had a frost warning. See my creative, cheap frost cover for my plants above. I hope that somehow, probably by no doing of my own, my garden will suddenly blossom and we will be inundated with fresh veggies. But if it doesn't, I'll continue to be excited about all the small successes (some of my seedlings are still alive) and mourn the failures (some of them aren't), and most importantly, consider it all a learning experience. If the end goal is learning, even the failures are a success as long as I learn from them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The lost passy and my hubby the hero

So the past couple of days, Daniel's eczema has been terrible. Like, he's screamed for thirty or more minutes at a time and I've had to physically restrain him from tearing his skin to pieces. Needless to say, this shreds my nerves pretty quickly. Yesterday was pretty rough, and Stephen did not even get home until after I was in bed because he had some school something until late.

Today, when Stephen called during his break to check in on us, he got more than he bargained for--a full ten minutes of me having a nervous breakdown on the phone. I talked about how I didn't think Daniel's eczema would ever get better, I would never sleep again, and I was a horrible mother to Nathan because I had to focus so much attention on Daniel. When I get into this state of mind, only two things seem to help: a long nap or somebody taking both the kids so I can be alone.

Knowing this, Stephen hurried home after school and as soon as I nursed Daniel, took both boys outside for a walk. Forty-five minutes later, I was much saner, and not on the verge of flying into a million pieces, though still in a somewhat fragile, stressed out state. When I went out to reclaim Daniel, he was fussing so I looked for the passy in the stroller. It was not there. I hurried to Daniel's room to get a spare for him.

Daniel has a very close relationship with his passy. He loves his passy almost as much as he loves his mama. I love his passy because he loves it. We have three passies, the exact same design, and I cannot rest unless I know the location of at least one passy. I also have a strong aversion to losing anything. So when the passy showed up missing, I was not happy. After watching me wandering down the driveway and scanning the street for signs of the missing passy, Stephen decided the only way I would move on from this problem was if the passy was found. So he got in the car, and drove away to scan the road for the missing passy.

A few minutes later, he returned, passy in hand. It had been found, dropped on the road, half a mile from our house. I breathed out a long sigh of relief. The passy was found. It had not been run over. Funny the things that make a mommy happy. You would have thought someone had handed me a hundred dollar bill.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just a mom

Oh, no, I'm not tired. I really prefer to get up every three hours of the night every night for a year. Doesn't everyone?

Well, I really don't feel like eating by the time I've got dinner cooked. I'd rather just fix all the plates and cups and then leave the table to nurse the baby.

Yes, I would love to use that snotty scrap of toilet tissue off the floor, so you just go ahead and take the roll in your toy shopping cart.

I find that tripping over toys really keeps me on my toes, so why don't you just go ahead and scatter them all over the floor.

I prefer to carry a screaming baby around until my back aches. After all, it's such a good workout.

It doesn't really matter if I look haggard and unkempt. I don't ever have a chance to look in the mirror, and if I did clean up, the kids probably wouldn't recognize me.

Please, don't take my picture. I probably don't want to remember what I look like anyway.

No, I don't need sleep, food or a break. After all, I'm just a mom. Everyone knows moms can keep going on love alone, so why mess with a good thing?

Monday, April 5, 2010

What a mess...

Here's what happens when extreme Type B meets and marries even more extreme Type B and then they have children.

Yes, this is my kitchen. It actually looks like this 90% of the time: dirty dishes on the counters, toys strewn across the floor, and basically not a clean surface in sight. Now before you clean freaks show up on my doorstep, Clorox spray in hand, rest assured that the kitchen is cleaned every day or two. I just can't seem to get ahead in that cycle of meals, dirty dishes and washing. Somehow I'm always one (big) washing behind. Only once have I had something actually start molding in my kitchen from lack of cleaning. After cooking hamburgers in my George Foreman grill one day, I left some wet paper towels to soak the especially gunky surface and before I could clean it off, they dried. After the cycle repeated a couple of times, I noticed it--mold. Eww. Nonetheless, I finally got it clean, thanks to some bleach. We have since eaten a meal cooked on the same grill without getting ill.

This is also what happens when tired mommy tries to cook delicious dinners from scratch for the family and runs out of energy before clean up commences. Or as soon as the food is prepared, everything falls apart. You mommies out there know about this. Daniel starts crying, hungry and wanting to nurse. Nathan is hungry and wants his plate fixed, his cup filled, his fork delivered to the table. I'm lucky if I get to take a couple of bites of my own food, much less worry about restoring the kitchen to a pristine state. I hope to one day be able to keep my kitchen clean most of the time, but today is not that day.

However, it is a sign of spring that I do have a desire coming over me to sort, organize and get rid of some stuff. My current project is the toy monster. I'd like to get a handle on the toy situation before someone breaks a leg. Stephen and I are tired of tripping on toys in the living room, kitchen, bedrooms--well, basically everywhere. I've decided I need a multi-pronged approach, one that includes some training on picking up after yourself for Nathan, some new toy boxes, and getting rid of some toys.

Surprisingly, this is as difficult for me as it is for Nathan, especially because I'm not too sentimental when it comes to stuff. My stuff. Stephen's stuff. But not the toys. I'm flat out attached to the toys--the same toys that I hate when I stub my toe in the middle of the night. They're like part of the family. I can't bear the thought of Nathan asking "Where's my bear (truck, ball)?" and knowing that I gave it away. Sometimes I feel like there's enough in this world to disappoint my child. How can I add to that disappointment? But then I see the tantrum in the grocery store line and I'm reminded that a childhood free of disappointment is a sure recipe for a brat.

So we are getting rid of some toys. I pulled them all out today (even the ones I had bundled away in temporary storage) and dumped them on the floor. Nathan was elated. I realized why it has been so hard for me to sort the toys that need to go. He loves them all. When he finds toys I've had put up, it's like being reunited with a long lost friend. "My dump truck!" After boxing the few toys that I knew he didn't play with much, I've embarked on a fact finding mission, to observe which toys get played with the most. Once I've got my information, I'll pull a reverse Santa Clause. Bye, bye toys. Hello, floor.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Shoes

I bought shoes today. Two identical pairs of gray Asics accented with cranberry, gel insoles, size 8 medium width. These are the first shoes I have bought in more than two years. Ever since Nathan's birth, the advent of my life as a stay at home mom, I have worn a wonderful pair of brown, earth-girl looking sandals. My sandals have been my summer shoes, my winter shoes (worn tacky with socks showing), my gardening shoes, and my walking shoes. I have bought the exact same shoe three times to replace the old worn ones, keeping the old worn ones anyways because I couldn't bear to part with them. They are the perfect shoe for someone who, like me, does not like shoes.

My feet like freedom. I am the barefoot queen of my own home. So what would possess me to run out and buy shoes? Well, in a word, Cathe. For two years now, I have been exercising barefoot in my own home to a variety of workout videos--pilates, yoga, in-home walking, The Firm, etc. I love exercising barefoot. I feel like I use better form and pay more attention to proper alignment which is easier on my knees and back. Earlier this year, I decided to use some of the money we got back on our tax return to purchase a health club grade exercise step and a couple of Cathe Friedrich workout DVDs to ramp up the intensity a little bit. Since the only tennis shoes I owned were a horrible pair that constricted my toes and rubbed blisters on my heels, I decided to give it a try with just my socks. Low impact stepping may have been okay, but Cathe is all high impact, high intensity, all the time.

After a few workouts sans shoes, my feet began complaining, so I resigned myself to getting some shoes. If there's anything I hate more than wearing shoes, it's shopping. Shopping wears me out more than a vigorous, sweat poring off my body workout. But it couldn't be helped. So this morning I headed out to the shoe store with two kids in tow and a resolution to find comfortable shoes. Thankfully, I had Mimi with me too. She kept track of Nathan while I juggled Daniel while trying on twenty plus pairs of shoes. After the entire bench was piled with teetering stacks of boxes, I finally found them. I walked around, did jumping jacks, pointed and flexed, and still my feet felt good in them.

I wanted to take advantage of the buy one, get one half off special so I continued to look for another pair of shoes. The pile of boxes grew as I tried on low heeled sandals, flats, and some ugly, chunky things that were comfortable until my feet started to sweat in them. By this time, we had been in the store almost two hours, I had taken Daniel for a nursing break, and my shopping energy was quickly flagging. I decided the best bargain was to get two pairs of the comfortable shoes and run for it. So here I sit, two pairs of gray and cranberry tennis shoes richer, waiting for the acid test of shoe comfort--a heart pounding, foot pounding, Cathe workout.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My Real Life

I've wanted to start my own blog for a while now, but I got stuck on the name. I have a real problem with names. I can't remember them, and when it comes to deciding on a name, it takes forever. It took years for me to settle on my first son's name. Let's just say I was glad I fell in love with someone who liked the name Nathan James. Days after Nathan's birth, I started thinking about another boy name. After all, I was seriously short on time. Two years later, Daniel Luke was born. I had two middle names, Luke or Isaac. I loved the sound of Daniel Isaac, but couldn't bear the thought of his initials being D.I.S.

So, you can imagine that naming a blog was not as simple as sticking a few words together. It had to be just right. It had to mean something. A couple of days ago I was in the shower when the name came to me. (The shower is one of the few places I have creative thoughts these days, mainly because it's the one place where I'm not juggling a wiggly baby and a preschooler who likes asking why.) I want my blog to be about real life, no pretense, no prettying up the truth, because I want people to know about my life, in all its wonderful, awful, messy reality.

I think sometimes that's what we need more of. Don't misunderstand me. I love reading about people's successes. Goodness knows there's enough bad news in the world, and we need to spread every positive, uplifting story we can. I find myself inspired by others who overcome the odds and achieve something. But there's also the part of me that thinks, wow, I haven't done anything like that. How did she train for a 5K and work a full time job? How did she find time to sew all those cute clothes for her kids while simultaneously feeding them, playing with them and keeping the peace? Or, my most recent nemesis (the cake, not the person), how did she bake that perfect looking cake from scratch? I don't like any of these people less for their successes (indeed, I would like to borrow their success for my own life), but sometimes, what I need to know is that there is another mom out there whose house is messy more than clean. Or someone else who still hasn't lost the last five pounds to get back in those pre-pregnancy pants.

I just want to celebrate the reality of my life as it is, the bad and the good. Yes, I'm trying hard. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes, I have an epic failure. But mostly, I just continue living my life day by day, getting some things right, but letting other things slide. After all, who really can do it all and be good at it? If you can, please, do me a favor and don't tell me about it.