Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy Holidays

I just wanted to put a note on this blog, wishing all of my blog friends and their families a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I plan to post more in the New Year, but in the meantime, just know we are well and hope that you are, too!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Not the End

I took a little break without really intending to, and I am honestly not sure how often I will be posting here in the immediate future. But I always hated it when a blogger just. . . stopped. It's like leaving the final chapter off of a novel.

So, here is where we are today. We have one amazing three year old little boy and one incredible one year old little girl. When it comes to parenthood, very little has actually turned out how I expected. Conception, pregnancy, delivery, post partum, a colicky newborn, the Terrible Twos and the Even Worse Threes. . . it was all far different than I had dreamed. I wouldn't change it for anything, because the way that it turned out was the way it was meant to be and led me to the babies that I have now. And all of those negative aspects of parenthood I just listed? They pale in comparison to the absolutely incredible things about parenthood that I can't even begin to put into words.

As I am writing this, it sounds like I am saying good-bye and I am not. I anticipate posting more here in the future, but I just wanted to put here how grateful I am for each of you that have stopped by this place. I have been offered hope, solace, comfort, camraderie, excitement, congratulations, and friendship here. I have had strangers become true friends and been invited to share incredible journeys with many more. This blog turned into so much more than just my happy ending, as I initially intended. . . it turned into a part of my life that keeps going.

So, though I might be more quiet here now, I am here. And still so incredibly blessed and thankful to share with and know each of you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

There Are Perks To This Job

After dropping the kids off this morning, I got picked up by an Enterprise representative and got the keys to my very own. . . GROCERY GETTER! That's right, my bridge rental is a minivan!

Full disclosure: I have been secretly jonesin for a minivan since, one by one, my other friends have succumbed to their increasing family size (and gear to take with said families) and gotten minivans. I have looked with envy at the various options. The storage! The third row of seats! The doors that automatically slide open and shut! SWOON.

I mean, c'mon. There is a reason that people buy minivans. And it isn't for the cool factor. It's for the convenience. And the ROOM for people and their things.

And it does have satellite radio! So you can rest assured that I will literally be rocking the Mommy Mobile.

I have a feeling they are gonna have to drag me kicking and screaming from this one in a few weeks. My real company car has a lot to live up to!

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Day

I have a fairly non-traditional job. Because of that, today really wasn't bad as far as first days go.

I didn't have to meet my boss until 11:00 AM. So I fed the kids breakfast and took them over to C's house at 9:30. I hung out with her until a little after 10, just getting them settled in. Will has been so excited to go stay with C and leaving him was no issue. Emma has been very clingy lately, so I expected a bit of Mama Drama from her, but she was engrossed in a book and her binky and she didn't seem disturbed. A text from C assured that all was well after I left.

I changed into some professional clothes and headed to meet my boss. He bought me a cup of coffee, we signed some paperwork, chatted about training and other logistics, and then I was on my way home. I pulled up just as the FedEx truck did. Four large boxes were being stacked on my porch. My computer, printer/fax, and study materials had arrived.

I spent some time getting my computer fired up, set up my voicemail, and then had to call in for a new hire conference call. Basic stuff, kind of boring, nothing surprising. . . except that the training schedule is slightly different than I been told that it would be and I will be gone an extra week in December that I wasn't aware of, on top of another week I will be gone for a regional meeting. So that was a bit of a "gulp" moment, but it is what it is. Nothing I can do about it now.

There were some pleasant suprises along the way. I got a call from corporate fleet services with my rental car information. I get my Blackberry tomorrow. Those are nice perks to be sure.

There was another conference call a bit later on with my new sales district with the obligatory "Welcome to the Team" introduction. Then there was a lot of discussion about sales and metric attainment and business planning. Most of it went way over my head, but that's to be expected.

Through out it all, my house was so. . . quiet. It's funny that they are so close (steps across the street), yet seem so far away. A few times, I found myself thinking that I was hearing Emma or Will upstairs, since the only time I am downstairs by myself is when they are napping. I would strain for a minute, listening, and then realize. . . they aren't here.

And that was it. I picked up the kids at 4:30. Not really bad for a first day. It still feels so surreal.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Last Day

Well, of course, technically, Sunday will be my last day before work. But today is my final non-work-work-day.

I don't really know how to describe my feelings today. Most of all, I think I am just ready to get this party started. The anticipation of the past two months has been brutal.

Will has been an angel this week. Seriously, his behavior has been a complete 180 from last week. He has been helpful, kind, funny, and sweet. Whatever was going on for those few weeks has, for the time being, seemed to have eased. It has made this last week even more wonderful and yet bittersweet, because there have been so many moments that were exactly as I pictured life as a SAHM would be. We baked cookies, did crafts, snuggled on the couch and watched a movie, and went on a few walks.

Emma was teething last week and earlier this week, so she has been super-clingy and all about The Mama. But she seems to have gotten her teething out of the way, too, and the last couple of days, she has been her usual, sunny self. She has such a sense of humor and is already my little prankster.

I definitely am feeling melancholy today. I know that this next phase of our lives will bring good and bad. But being a SAHM wasn't all sunshine and roses. There were days when I felt lonely, where I felt as if I was living in that "Groundhog's Day" movie. There were days when these kiddos brought me to tears, nights when M would come home and I would hand him a baby and walk outside to sit in the car for a few minutes (Mommy Time Out). There were definitely good days and bad days.

I am excited to be more financially stable. We have medical bills that need paying, a car that needs new tires, and so many things around the house that need fixing/replacing. It will be nice to be able to do all of these things and to get caught up. It will be nice to go the mailbox without cringing at the stack of bills inside.

I know our family will make it through this and find a new normal. Honestly, I am aware that it will likely be hardest on me (and possibly Emma). Nothing much changes for M, except for when I need to travel, but that is pretty minimal after I am done with training. Will is super excited about going to his friend's house to play every day. Emma is definitely going through separation anxiety right now, but we have been purposefully spending a lot of time at my friend's house this last month, so she would feel more comfortable there. I think she might have a few minutes of "Where are you going, Mommy?" each morning for the first few days, but I think she will acclimate quickly.

And as long as they are okay. . . I will be, too.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Just When You Can't Take Anymore

I have noticed a definite pattern with kids. . . THERE IS NO PATTERN.

Just when you think your baby/toddler/child is sleeping through the night, they start waking up.

Just when you can't take another night of being woken up several times, they start sleeping through.
Just when they are loving mashed potatoes and gravy with meatloaf for dinner, they start complaining when you make it for them.

Just when you have lost the recipe for the meatloaf, they ask for it.

And just when you are about to call the pediatrician for a consult with a child psychologist, because either your three year old is a sociopath OR he has been abducted by aliens. . .

He returns.

The sweetness, love, and light you have counted on returns.

The tantrums disappear.

Life is strangely peaceful.

And then the one year old gets a cold and starts breaking through their one year molars. . .

and it's back to the starting line.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Separating Anxiety

As the days dwindle on this phase of my life, I am feeling all sorts of sentimental. Being a SAHM has been one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life. It was my life-long dream and the fact that it's over . .. I honestly still can't believe it.

I know this next move is what is best for our family on many different levels. Like most things in life, there will be some not-so-great-things that come with it. I am both trying to stay in this spot and reach forward all at once.

I remember right before Emma was born, I experienced these same feelings. I knew everything was about to change. I knew it would be for the best and I knew it was a change that I wanted. But. . . it was still so hard to let go of the life I had been leading, knowing the way it would alter my relationship with both M and Will, knowing that things would never be the same. While I was incredibly excited to get on with the show, I also tried to cling to those last few days, make the very best of them. I remember the frustration I felt, that I should have been able to "do" those days better, but the exhaustion of pregnancy and my nerves challenged me, and those last few days felt chaotic and emotionally raw.

Well, here we go again. I am clinging to these last few days, knowing that our lives are about to change, that things will never be the same. With Emma going through a bout of teeting (three molars at ONCE) and Will going through The Threes, I definitely feel as if these days could be "done" better. I am nervous myself, wondering how I am going to manage the fine art of working outside of the home and parenting two children. Oh, and toss being a wife and CEO of All Things House in there, too. I know millions of people do it every day, but I know it is challenging. I know there will be good days and bad days and lots of in between days.

The only "cure" for this last time was just to DO IT; just to have Emma and get on with the new life. Anticipation is the worst emotion to me, because there is no action in it. Once I am started, we will all have the adjustment phase and then we can react to the challenges that we meet along the way. But we will be doing it, rather than planning for it or just thinking about it.

I think the biggest thing that I need to keep in mind is that, no matter what, my kids will still be my kids. I will still have a relationship with them, and even though it will look a bit different than it does now, that doesn't mean it isn't a good relationship - that it can't even be a better relationship! I just need to really, really believe that.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Follow Up

Lest anyone think that poor Will is still locked up in his bedroom, crying, he came out after his TWO HOUR tantrum yesterday and actually was a reasonable child for the rest of the day. We had a pleasant day. Since he had tantrumed through breakfast and refused his waffle and sausage, he was starving at lunchtime and ate almost an entire box of macaroni and cheese, plus chicken nuggets, and corn. He then took a nice, long nap, which allowed both of us some time to restore.

I read each of your comments (and the half dozen e-mails that I got) and I am both grateful that I am not the only one to encounter these issues, and also eager to try some new strategies. What we are currently doing isn't really working well, so I am always eager to try something different.

I do try to help Will express his feelings and attempt to empathasize with him through his tantrums. Especially when he first starting having these drastic tantrums that were so unlike what we had experienced before. I figured he was sick. . . or tired. . . or having an out of body experience. Over time, I have found that the problem is that though he will respond to that. . . he will then ramp up again when he realizes that he still isn't getting what he wants.

If I can catch him before he gets to the "Red Zone" of his tantrum, I might have about a ten percent chance of distracting or redirecting him. So, I do try. But. . . again, it's all in the timing. And if it is something he is absolutely set on, then it doesn't matter what I do to try and change things up. Putting him in his room is really just the best for everyone. It's best for him because it seems to be where he can calm himself down the best and it's best for me because I can keep my cool when I get some time away from the intense screaming. Also, please know, I don't just leave him in there by himself for the entire time. I go and check on him from time to time to make sure he is okay. I tell him he is welcome to come out of his room any time he is done crying. And when he comes out (done with his tantrum), I greet him as if he has been at sea for seven years. I tell him how happy I am that he is done crying and I immediately give him lots of positive attention.

As far as preventing a tantrum, goes. . . I give him a lot of choices through out the day ("Do you want waffles or pancakes for breakfast?", "Do you want to wear the digger shirt or the choo choo shirt?","Do you want to go to Safeway or WinCo to grocery shop?", etc.) and I don't care that he picks a specific utensil, shirt, crayon, store, toy, etc. The only problem with that is sometimes his requests are inappropriate or I simply cannot give him what he wants (my friend wasn't even home yesterday) and then. . . well, tantrum here we go.

I should point out that, in between tantrums and arguments, Will is still a wonderful little boy. His preschool teacher always compliments his "big heart" and tells me that when a fellow classmate hurts themself, he is the first to put down whatever he is doing and run to his injured friend to pat their back and ask the teacher for an "ice pack" for them.

The reason that this behavior tears at my heart the most is not the headache it causes me. It is the fact that he seems so desperately unhappy. I hate to see him so sad, angry, and frustrated. Up until a few weeks ago, if I had just one word to describe Will, it would have been "HAPPY". Now, I guess I would have to use the word "ANGRY", and that just makes me feel awful. It also makes me take a swim in the sea of Mom-guilt. After all, we are in the middle of a big change as a family. I have been gone more lately and will definitely be gone more very shortly. Has this shift caused this, or would it have happened regardless? No way to know, and soon this new way of life will become our new normal, and so if that's the cause, it should fade. If it's simply The Threes, well, that will fade, too. So, we'll never know. The important thing will be that he does settle down a bit and we are able to help him manage his temper and frustrations more effectively as time goes on.

In any case, I appreciate your wisdom, candor, and support. This parenting thing isn't easy and I am so glad to have you along for the ride. The hardest thing about being a mom (for me) is when I feel as if my kids are unhappy and I don't know how to make it better for them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So, What Is SO Bad?

****DISCLAIMER**** I apologize, in advance, for the liberal use of italics, bolded font, and capitalization (and some words? I used all three!) in this post. When you have a three year old, you will understand.

People always warned me about The Threes. I watched two of my close friends go through it with their kids recently. It didn't seem that bad from the sidelines, but they sure talked about it a lot. I noticed their kids seemed a bit more oppositional, listening a bit less, perhaps a tantrum or two more than usual, but they still seemed pretty "normal" to me. I knew, however, that I had heard from enough people that Three Sucks, so there had to be something to it.

So, at about six weeks into The Threes, I can tell you what is so bad about them. Perhaps you can prepare yourself better than I did. Probably not. But at least you'll know you are not alone.

It's the fact that, almost overnight, your sweet, aquiescent toddler (okay, so Will was stubborn before, but it was manageable) turns into their own person. And they don't want to do anything that you would like them to, just because you want them to do it (even if it's fun! even if it's something that they would usually want to do!). And they want to do everything themselves from putting on their shoes to pouring the milk to going to the potty.

What's so bad about that, you ask? Well, in and of itself, it is a very good thing. Having his own opinion about things, wanting to do things for himself, increasing independence. . . it's all wonderful. IN THEORY.

In PRACTICE, however, it is very, very tiring because it is NON STOP. From the moment Will gets up until the moment he goes to bed EVERYTHING is an argument. And it's so wearing, when the arguments are about things like which specific spoon he wants to use for his oatmeal, which specific pair of underwear he wants to wear that day, which grocery store he wants to go to, and you'd better believe it won't be the spoon, underwear, or grocery store I had in mind.

As a result of this, everything takes longer than it should, because you have to plan for this opposition. Sure, it doesn't always happen, but it happens enough that I have to be prepared. I had our "leaving the house" routine timed to perfection and now that's all screwed up. And things that used to be predictable and enjoyable are no longer such, because in the middle of, say, the tubby, he is suddenly going to want a certain type of bubble bath that we don't have. So all of a sudden, he is tantruming for this bubble bath that I don't even know that they carry at Target anymore. And even if I did have it, right that very minute? I can't give in to the tantrum, so he can't have it anyway. BUT!!! If I buy that bubble bath the next time we are at Target so this won't happen again? Nope, it's not that easy. Because when I use that bubble bath, he will want the one that I used the last time but didn't replace. BECAUSE HE WANTED THIS ONE! Two tubbies. Ruined. And tubbies were one of my go-to parenting tactics before when a day was going off the rails. Nothing is sacred anymore.

AND? Everything is dramatic. Before, if Will wanted something and it wasn't something he was going to get, I could distract him. That no longer works. And if he tantrumed before, it was a brief affair that was usually over in minutes. Now, once he gets something in his mind (yesterday, it was that he wanted to go potty at a specific store that we passed on the way home), it is GAME OVER. And the tantrums will last for thirty minutes or more and they are intense, with him turning purple with rage and screaming to wake the dead.

I am also dead set that we NEVER give into a tantrum. So even if he is asking for something that I would give him if he asked nicely, if he asks rudely and then starts tantruming, he is not getting it. So a lot of his tantrums are even more ridiculous because I would have given him, for example, asnack. . . if only he had given me a chance to say yes!

I generally ignore his tantrums. For example, right now? He has been in his room for over forty-five minutes. He is screaming. Why? Well, because he wants to go to a friend's house and stay there while I "go to work". As that isn't happening today, he is very upset. Once he gets to this point, there is no going back. There is no putting him in the car and making him go do something fun, because he won't be or have any fun. And I don't want to reward the behavior. So, Emma and I are downstairs in her playroom, while he is upstairs. Screaming. He came downstairs about five minutes ago and seemed to have calmed down a bit, but he revved right back up when he asked to go to the friend's house and I said, "Not today."

And the sad part is that Emma and I are dressed and ready to go. We were going to go to the kids museum and I had hoped to sneak in a Target trip. He loves to go to Target and get a soft pretzel (well, he used to, not sure where Three Year Old Will lands on the soft pretzel), so it used to be a fun errand. But now, the morning is being wasted on this tantrum.

In addition to the daily struggles, sleep is also disrupted. All of my friends found that night wakings and bedtime struggles started (or got markedly worse) at three. At two weeks into three, it happened to Will, too. My solid sleeper, three hour a day napper, never fights bedtime. . .is now waking two to three times a night, fighting and/or skipping naps, and bedtime has become a struggle. So, we are all getting less sleep, which of course, makes the daily struggles worse. It's a rather disturbing catch-22. Because, as I learned back when Will was a newborn, sleep begets sleep. . . and a lack of sleep makes everyone grumpier. Despite his advancing independence, however, Will fails to have this little thing called reasoning down yet. So I can't exactly say to him, "Hey, buddy, if you kept napping and sleeping, you might just feel a bit better during the day. And I know I would."

The other day, I was talking about this with another friend. Her children are a bit older and I wasn't really around them when they were in The Threes. I told her that I didn't remember her kids being like this. She assured me that they were, but I wasn't around it enough to really see it. And, she added, that if it made me feel any better, she thought Will seemed "normal" and like a nice little kid. Which did, actually, make me feel better. . . for about five minutes, until the next argument came up.

So, I think to sum it up: The Threes are exhausting because they are non-stop. It feels like I am in the middle of psychological warfare with a three year old. Who is sometimes winning.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's Official

I got my official offer today. I had been expecting it for awhile. I start October 24. Wow, just a little over two weeks away and everything changes.

***

Will continues to be three.

I know people warned me, but can I be honest here?

Three? It sucks. The tantrums are beyond anything I ever imagined.

There are moments when he is still my sweet Little Man. And there are moments when I don't even recognize myself as I parent him.

***

Emma took her first step (notice the singular) on August 21 and.. . nothing since.

One September 21, while I was on the phone wishing my dad a happy birthday, she walked across the living room. And she hasn't looked back. Today, I would call her a full-fledged walker.

She is in my favorite age. The Sweet Spot, I guess you could say. She has some personality, some attitude, some independence. But she still wants to please.

***

My life is in contrasts and changes lately. And I don't deal well with either. But I am managing, just like my little ones.

One haphazard step at a time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm An Auntie!

My sister delivered her first son, my nephew!, yesterday. It was a bit scary of a start (his APGAR was 1 at birth) and he had some NICU time after an emergency C-section, but he seems to be doing well now.

I won't get to meet him for awhile, as she doesn't want me to come visit until her in-laws leave. So, I have to wait a bit, but I am so excited to snuggle and love on him!

She just missed delivering him on the anniversary of her miscarriage. It is so funny to think that, last year at this time, we were all mourning the loss of her first pregnancy and now we are celebrating the arrival of Ben. I love miracles.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Now, I Just Need To Have A Party

I love having "go to" meals and appetizers, special things that I make when I am entertaining or celebrating. Lately, I am going more towards finger foods and apps when we are having people over. It is less work and people seem to really enjoy having a spread to dig into. It seems like a lot of work, but it really isn't, and most things can be made ahead of time so that you aren't doing a lot of work in the kitchen while everyone is enjoying themselves. It also tends to be kid-friendly and you can have a mix of healthy and indulgent choices.

Here is my standard appetizer spread that I have been serving lately. No, I don't always do everything here, but I usually do most of it. I mean, c'mon, variety is the spice of life, right?! What do you like to serve people?

Baked brie with sliced apples (I wrap and dress the brie that morning, and then just pop it into the oven about fifteen minutes before people arrive. The smell is intoxicating. I slice the apples the morning of as well and lightly toss them in lemon juice to keep them from browning.)
White bean dip (goes with the crackers and veggies) (The dip is best when made a day or two before to really allow the flavors to meld.)
Assorted whole wheat crackers and sliced cheeses
Black bean salsa and tortilla chips (I make the salsa, minus the avocado, the day before and add the avocado right before the party so it doesn't turn brown.)
Assorted raw veggies and a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (the veggies also dip into everything else) (Again, this dressing is best made at least a day before.)
Spinach Dip* (the crackers and veggies both are great dippers, you can also do thin slices of baguette) (Another dip that is best when made a day or two in advance - sense a theme here?)
Mini meatballs in a sweet n sour sauce (I love these meatballs, they are amazing and it makes serving so easy - just add the sauce (and I have also totally cheated and used bottled sauce before, too) and warm them in the crock pot. Done. But, if you want to make your own, you can make them and then freeze them to use when you need them. Equally easy.)
Steak Canapes (You can make the steak and onions ahead of time and then assemble the canapes and have them waiting on a baking sheet when your guests arrive.)
Assorted fruits and a fruit dip (if I am feeling really fancy, I will make fruit skewers)
I also like putting out dishes of truly kid-friendly things like chex mix, goldfish crackers and raisins. I find that the adults indulge, too!

So, as you can see, pretty much everything can be made the day or two before. . . and just put it out, warm it up, and dig in. I am now officially hungry.

*I do play with this recipe, but it is my favorite "base" recipe. The dash of hot sauce makes the dish. I use double the spinach listed and I also use marinated artichoke hearts. It gives it that extra yum!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mismatched, Mishmashed

It's so funny the spot I find myself in now. It's an odd place to be, where I don't quite fit in anywhere.

I am not quite a working mom yet. I am still home with the kids. I won't even be back at work for over a month.

I am not quite a SAHM anymore, either. My SAHM-friends are already making plans that won't include me. They aren't being exclusive, but it's a fact that I won't be able to sign up for Mommy n' Me classes that will go until December and I won't be able to help start a co-op art class that probably won't get off the ground until after the New Year. The reality is that our lives are already separating. We will remain friends, but things will change.

I have tried to stay in the moment, but it's also very hard to see all of the exquisitely tiny things that children do every day and know that soon, I won't be seeing them. Like Will waking up from a nap with bedhead and half-closed eyes, yet reaching for me for a sweaty, little boy-hug. Like making a tent in his bed and snuggling down with him and Emma and a pile of books and stopping to notice the perfection of their little feet. And though it sounds dreadfully "1950 called and would like its housewife back", I have enjoyed the little things along the way. I enjoy the homemaking part of homemaking. I love preparing dinner, I love slicing vegetables for a salad, baking a cake for dessert, lighting candles that smell of cinnamon and pumpkin, and tidying the house before M gets home (but I draw the line at fluffing my hair, washing the kids' faces, or making him a martini - he doesn't like them). It's not that I won't get to do these things anymore, but I know it, too, will change.

Lest I wax too poetically, let me also assure you that I have felt frustrated on days with no schedule, where I seem busy all day with nothing to show for it at the end. Days when dinner is the only thing burning and the house is a disaster when M walks in (and I am drinking a martini). The days when Will throws a legendary tantrum, that ends with me yelling at him and feeling badly and wondering if they wouldn't be better off with someone professionally trained on how to deal with a toddler. There have been days when I have looked at the long-neglected suits in my closet, packed carefully away in their garment bags, and thought longingly of putting one on and feeling that "I'm someone" feeling that you get when you slide them on (people treat you very differently when you wear a suit and have hair that is styled and make up that took more than two minutes to glob on).

So, as you can see, I continue to live in this in-between world, partially longing to stay where I am and partially excited to venture forth. October feels forever away and tomorrow all at once.

* * *

This returning to work thing is complicated. I have many thoughts and feelings that I can't share here in this public space. I can't really discuss much about work on here and I have come to the conclusion that it will be best if I have a password protected blog for readers that are interested in knowing more about our decision and personal things about my transition to a working mother. I will be keeping this blog open for general stories about Will and Emma, my continued thoughts on parenting after infertility and loss, and lighthearted reads about our lives together. If you are interested in following the less-public version of the story, please either leave a comment with your name and e-mail address or e-mail me with the information.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peyton

I have spoken briefly of Peyton here before. Last November, a former coworker's little girl was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

I remember the moment I found out. I had been talking to another former coworker and she asked if I had heard about Peyton. She was fuzzy on the details, but knew the diagnosis was BAD. I was FB friends with Chad still, so I hopped over to his Wall where I found out the name of Peyton's tumor, a Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), I did some research and found out that it was a death sentence.

Slowly, I came to learn more about DIPG and what it means when a child is diagnosed with it. I have watched as Peyton and her family have traveled a horrific road that is beyond comprehension.

There have been some bright spots along the way. Elizabeth Rudkin has to be one of the most amazing, courageous, composed women I have ever met. She is an inspiration. While caring for a terminally ill daughter, she has also somehow found the time to establish Peyton's Ranch, a non-profit matching sick kids with comfort animals. She also threw a "launch party" for Peyton that was the most amazing event I have ever been to (Of course, I overheard her tell someone that it had to be: It was Peyton's Sweet Sixteen, Prom, and Wedding all rolled into one event. Heart. Breaking.). Seeing something good coming from this tragedy does have a way of soothing broken hearts.

But nothing can soothe those who love and care for Peyton right now. She is dying. Watching a child die. . . there are no words.

Again, there are some bright spots. If you have a box of tissue handy, watch this video. Peyton's seventh birthday was Tuesday this is a video a friend put together of the day's events, which included a visit from one of Peyton's favorite artists, Mike Wagoner. What amazes me most about this video is what has inspired me this entire time: Elizabeth's calmness, ability to smile, and the fact that, despite being incredibly ill, Peyton looks so peaceful on her mommy's lap. There are moments in my day where, for whatever reason, I lose sight of what is truly important. Watching Elizabeth and Peyton together puts that right back into perspective.

In any case, if you are the praying time, please pray for Peyton and her family. If you are the positive thinking type, please send those vibes to them. They need them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Introducing Skittle

Last week, I noticed Will seemed to be talking to "himself" more often. I also noticed that these conversations seemed a bit one-sided, as if there was someone else in the room with them.

Turns out, there "is".

Allow me to introduce Skittle (I asked him and he doesn't need a blog pseudonym).

After careful investigation, we have thus far concluded that Skittle is:

1) 2 years old (He was 1 year old, but he shares a birthday with Will, so he is now 2.)

2) A boy.

3) Residing in the toy room.

4) Not a fan of cereal - he prefers hot dogs (with ketchup!) for breakfast.

5) Apparently responsible for an entire roll of toilet paper being unrolled while Will was innocently using the bathroom.

So far, Skittle is mostly well-behaved and we are enjoying his antics with Will. It is amazing what their minds come up with.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Doppler

Does anyone have a doppler they are interested in selling? No, it isn't for me, it is for a friend! That's right, the friend I talked about in this post is pregnant again. Please keep everything crossed that this time she ends up with a RLB!!!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

When Does It Get Easier?

So.

A decision has been made.

I am returning to work in October.

And I feel as if I can't breathe.

Every time I look at my kids, I want to cry. I know this will get easier, but it is hard right now.

Other friends that have returned to work tell me that the first few weeks of transition are hardest, as everyone settles into a new normal, and that it takes a few more weeks to reall get into a rhythm. When we looked at daycares last Friday, one of the directors told me, "Don't worry, all of the moms cry at first. The first few times you drop them off, you will cry, but then it gets easier."

I cried.

Later on in the tour, as we were standing in a hallway, a daddy/son pair walked by, the son appearing to be about Will's age. He was chattering non-stop about his day and seemed perfectly happy. They have obviously been through the transition and have emerged unscathed. So, we will, too.

In any case, for the time being, we won't be leaving the kids at a traditional daycare center. We have decided to accept my friend's offer and Will and Emma will spend their days at her house. She lives across the street from us. We can literally pluck them from their cribs and take them over in their jammies. This is one of my closest friends and Will is very comfortable at her house. I think the transition might be a bit more difficult for Emma, simply because she is at that separation anxiety age, though she is actually very independent even with that. I am a bit concerned about the longevity of the situation, but for now, especially in the beginning when I am traveling, it feels the most comfortable.

So, now, please tell me. . .

When does it get easier?

(Also, for those of you who are working outside of the home, if you care to share any tips on transition, day-to-day advice, coping and scheduling strategies, I would really appreciate it.)


Friday, August 26, 2011

Forks In the Road

Life goes along, you know?

Day by day, things go by, little by little. Most of life is really quite unplanned once we make the Big Decisions.

Then, every once in awhile, the Big Decisions come along. I have never really been good at the Big Decisions, mostly becauseI am not one of those people who just "live in the moment". I am a planner, always have been, and whenever I make a Big Decision, I see the long term effects of it and have to weigh everything carefully. Once I make the Big Decision, I am actually pretty good about living with it, but the making. . . oh, the making.

Walk with me.

The past three months, we have taken some big hits financially. You might remember, I got laid off from my part time job, which didn't make a lot, but was a bit extra each month. Hit #1.

Hit #2 was a string of health needs. Emma was in the doctor five times in one week. Long story. I also have been having more and more trouble with my neck. I cannot function when it goes out and my physical therapy is not covered until we hit our $2000 deductible and then it is covered at 60/40. I tried so hard not to get therapy the first two times it went out, but the cost was that I think I hurt myself more and have cost us more money in the long run.

The most crucial hit, however, was Hit #3, a change in health care plan at M's work, where the amount we had to pay went up - an increase was over $340 per month. Unfortunately, our insurance didn't get any better. We still have huge deductibles and then co-insurance and my PT is still not covered. I know this is hardly a unique situation. I don't really know anyone that has "good" insurance. But we had about two week's notice before the switch and increase went into effect and that's kind of a big amount to suddenly come up with each month out of a budget that was already tight. Before the increase, we had enough to meet our monthly obligations and a very tiny bit extra for fun spending, and that was about it. We are fortunate that we have a decent amount in savings, and so when something like the car needing new brakes comes up (as it did last month - July was a rough month), we have to take that money from savings. Which wasn't a big deal when it happened occasionally, but it seems to be happening more and more often. Yes, I know that is what savings is for, but as that amount dwindles, so does our comfort level. We went through our budget last month and got rid of anything remotely "fun", downgrading cell phone plans, cable t.v., etc., and the numbers are still falling a bit short.

Enter the Big Decision (which I haven't done a good job of suspense-building - I am sure you see this one coming).

I have a former boss who I worked for at J&J. Let's call him. . . Da Man. Well, Da Man has contacted me me about once a year with a diferent job opportunity since I had Will. He works for a different company now, but it is the same industry. Each year, I have been tempted to take the job offer, and each year, I have decided it wasn't time.

This past Monday, Da Man called. He has an opportunity for me that most people would kill for. Believe me, in this economy, Iknow, I am a LUCKY woman.

Here are the upsides (of which, there are many): I will actually make slightly more than I did when I walked away from my career three years ago, which. . . well, it's more than a good salary, with great benefits. The territory is small (relatively speaking - no overnight travel) and familiar to me (I worked it before). I will work from home (though not at home, I will need to be away for the majority of the day) and have some flexibility in planning my schedule. After I am established with the company (let's say six months to a year), getting time off for sick kiddos, doctor's appointments, special events, etc., is a non-issue. I have worked for Da Man before. He worked me like a dog, but he also thinks a lot of me, respects what I do, and is a family man himself so understands that they will still come first. To me, one of the hardest aspects of a new job is learning a new manager and how they "tick". I've got Da Man kind of figured out. I know how to keep him happy and what is important to him.

Here are the downsides: The training is in New Jersey. For three weeks. Unfortunately, I cannot come home on weekends and the kids and M cannot visit. For someone who has been with her kiddos 24/7 since they were born, this is hard for me to get over (yes, I know it is temporary, it still is something that is hard to deal with). There are national and regional sales meetings about once a quarter to bi-quarterly. Those are usually less than five days long, but it will still be hard. I hated them even before I had kids and only had to leave the furbabies and M. There are days when my schedule will be insane. Sales is sales. You go where the money is, when the money is. There were nights when I wasn't home until midnight and then would turn around and leave the next morning before the sun was up. Obviously, I have some control over this, but there will be times when I do not. There are field rides which are awful in length and intensity, and Da Man loved working with me. He worked with me a LOT (once a month or more). My world kind of stopped before when I had to ride with my manager. That is going to be hard with kids. I know I will reach a new balance and figure it out. It's just intimidating.

And, the ultimate downside. . . I will no longer be with my kids everyday. I know many of you, my dear readers, are working outside the home parents. I respect that with every fiber of my being. This choice is a highly personal one that has to work for each family and no one can make for anyone else. However, I think we make these choices and then live with them based on a tape we play in our head. So, let's say you work. Your tape would support that choice. Let's say you don't work. Your tape supports that. Not to say that either tape is wrong or right, but it's what keeps you going, what helps you feel comfortable with the decision you've made. And while I have heard some moms say that being at home wouldn't be for them, I really have enjoyed being at home (though I do spend a lot of time worrying about what the future holds) and spending my day with these two amazing little people.

We looked at several daycare facilities today. One was an absolute NO GO. I mean, I wouldn't leave my furbaby there. One was decent. One was your cadillac, top-of-the-line facility where our children will be taught Spanish, Manners, and Reflective Dance (I am not kidding). All of them made me cry. It's not that there was really anything wrong (with the last two anyway). It's just that they aren't. . . ME.

A good friend has offered to watch them, but my hesitation is that I haven't heard a lot of successful stories of mixing friendship and childcare. She also wants a "trial" basis and I don't know what we'll do if it turns out to be too much for her and then I've aready taken the job. I also think she wants a more casual arrangement, and I need someone who will be there when I need them to be (within reason).

M refuses to look off of Craigslist or do a state-licensed home daycare (for security reasons) and nanny services are so expensive that it would really negate the financial benefits of me returning to work. So. . . it's pretty much either finding a nanny through word of mouth or using a daycare center. But, I think we can find something. I just have to stop playing the tape.

So, my tape has been playing for a long time. It's hard to unwind that tape and start playing a new one. I realize I am fortunate to even have a decision to make.

I mean, we could keep hobbling along, barely making ends meet. This causes a lot of stress for both of us. Or. . . we could choose a different path where we won't have to hobble along.

So. . . I don't even know what I am looking for here. This is decision that we have to make together. I guess I just needed to put all of this down. And if I am quiet for awhile, you will know why.





Saturday, August 20, 2011

Happy Third Birthday, William Patrick


Dearest Will,

Three years ago today, you were born and my world changed completely.


This is what I wrote on your birthday, August 20, 2008.

The most amazing this has happened.
I am a mother. My husband is a father. We are parents and we are so in love.


This is as true today as it was when I first wrote it, if not more so. I am a mother. Not just any mother, but your mother. Your father is a father. Your father. We are your parents and we are so much in love with you.

If someone had told me that day in the hospital how quickly the time would pass, I wouldn't have believed them. And at first, to be quite honest, time passed rather slowly. Each day, though wonderful, was a battle as we figured each other out and learned to be a family. Then, somehow, we got into a rhythm. Each day got easier, better, and more wonderful than I could have possibly imagined. There were days when I literally pinched myself because I couldn't believe that my dreams had finally come true. You were everything I had dreamed of and so very much more.

You are a strong-willed little boy who is often determined to get his way. You have very definite ideas on what you want and when you want it. These qualities can make parenting you a bit of a challenge, but they will be assets as you grow. And while I do believe you will be assertive in getting what you want, I also know that you will be respectful in doing so. While you are not shy in asking for what you want, you are also not short in generosity, making sure that others get things, too.

Your heart is so big. You are so compassionate. You are the first person to ask a friend if they are okay if they fall down and to help them by getting a grown up. If your sister cries, you are on the run for a binkie or toy to calm her down.

When we gave you your big boy bed for your third birthday present, one of your first questions was, "Can Emma come up, too?" You love your sister, you love to include her in everything, you love to teach her things. You make my heart burst with pride over how you have grown so much Emma came into our lives.

Every birthday we hit is a milestone that brings mixed emotions. I am so glad to see you thriving, growing, and learning so much every day. With each new age comes new opportunities, adventures, and excitement. It also makes me long for the days when you were just a tiny baby in my arms. Those times were so fleeting and I have to admit, there are many days when I wish I could just go back there.

But then you say or do something so knock-me-off-my-feet-AMAZING and there is no moment I would rather be in than this one. You have made me a mother, made us a family, made all of my dreams come true, and made me so grateful to share all of this with an incredible human being. I am so proud of you, my sweetest (not so) Little Man. I am so blessed by you. Thank you for being born and changing me forever.


I love you. . . soooooo much.

Mommy



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We Both Grow

There are times in my parenting journey that I can feel it all slipping by too quickly. I just want to stand still and make time stand still with me.

Will turns three years old on Saturday.

Wait. [Cue screeching, scratching record sound.] What?

Will. Turns. Three. Saturday.

I can type it with as much punctuation as I want and I will still be in a bit of shock and a tiny bit of depression about it. My mom always says, "Well, you don't want the alternative!" No, I don't. I am so desperately glad to have healthy, growing, aging children. That doesn't mean that I still don't get a tug on the ol' heart strings watching them get bigger, more independent, and just a tiny bit further away from those little babies they once were (Emma throws tantrums now. TANTRUMS. Albeit mini-tantrums that are almost laughable when compared to the tantrums of a three year old, but tantrums all the same and certainly a harbinger of things to come.).

Given my "If I Could Save Time In A Bottle Mentality" I did something completely out of character two days ago. I was futzing around on craigslist, looking when I should have been listing (story of my life), when I found IT.

By IT, I mean the bed Will has been coveting since he first saw it at his friend's house in November. The last time we came home from this particular friend's house where they played in it most of the time we were there, he walked into his own bedroom, looked sorrowfully at his own crib-turned-toddler-bed and said, "I need a big boy bed, Mommy."

Well, see, here's the thing. M and I purchased one of those fancy schmancy convertible cribs. It was quite a bit of money and I sold M on the practicality of it. "It's the only bed he'll ever need!" I proclaimed in all of my seven month pregnant glory (even if more than we had planned on spending, the crib was still an excellent deal and the very last one - my hormones were telling me someone else would buy it if we didn't RIGHT NOW). Of course, I meant it then, but I hadn't counted on all of his friends having these super cool beds and him having this plain old bed that isn't really a bed. It was just a crib with the side off. So, my mind got to thinking (always dangerous). . . what about getting him a true big boy bed for his third birthday?

The bed is $199 (plus tax) at Ikea. The bed canopy is $40 (plus tax). The mattress that they bought is $99 (plus tax). Altogether, we are looking at over $350 for all of it with taxes. That was way out of our budget for a birthday present. And besides, as M loved to remind me, we bought that specific crib so we would never have to buy a bed for him again. So, no big boy bed.

And then, I found IT. On Craigslist. For $100. All of it. The bed, the canopy, the mattress. I figured it was already sold, so I e-mailed "just to see". It wasn't sold. It was still available.

I asked my girlfriend if she could possibly go with me to disassemble it and haul it in her much larger SUV. I figured she would have other plans. She didn't. She was excited and eager to help.

So, now all that remained was asking M, which I chickened out and did over text. I figured he would say a resounding NO. He actually did say NO, but it wasn't resounding and I was very persistent and convincing (also rather out of character for me) and he relented.

Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I went to retrieve the bed. We brought it home and put the pieces in our garage.

Suddenly, I realized what I had done (am I the only one who realizes the true impact of their actions after they have already done something?). I had bought a BIG! BOY! BED! which meant that I had to take down the crib. Allen wrench in hand, piece by piece, screw by screw; I felt as if I was undoing my heart. As I pulled the slats and rails apart, I cried. I remembered his crib going up, I remembered bringing Will home to it, I remembered sleep training, I remember crawling into it when he wouldn't sleep alone (oh, I didn't mention that before now. . . oops) I remembered not so long ago when I cried when the front rail came off. . . Can you just hear the faint strains of "Memories"?

I realized that this buying of a big boy bed was actually very symbolic. You see, I do want to keep him little, but I don't want to hold him back. I want to encourage his growth and development. When he is ready, I want him to step forward, whether it be from my arms, a crib, our family home, our neighborhood, and someday, far beyond. My job is to get him ready for those steps and then to encourage him to take those steps, cheering him along all the way and catching him if he stumbles a bit. So I dried my tears and looked forward to all of the fun times to come in this new bed.

When the bed was up and ready, the Big Reveal was pretty priceless. He was SO excited! (I have shared the video on Facebook, but I am not sure how to share video from my phone here. If we aren't Facebook friends and you want to be, let me know through a comment or e-mail how to find you and I will.)

Then nighttime fell and it was actually time for him to sleep in the Big Boy Bed.

TROUBLE.

He didn't want his new big boy bed any more. It might have been fun to play with but it was time to sleep and he wanted his crib.

At this point, all of the crib pieces had been hauled down to the garage. Since it was a Craigslist purchase, M had assembled the new bed without benefit of instructions (although, honestly, Ikea instructions are rather worthless), and we had spent the better part of a day on this project. But I still got down on Will's level and asked him if he really wanted his old bed back (and I really didn't know what he would say). He thought about it for a minute and then slowly shook his head. "No, I keep my new bed."

We took bedtime a bit more slowly and I crawled in with him for a few minutes to get him settled. I rubbed his back, sang him a song (or ten), and we talked about how big and grown up he is getting in his new big boy bed. He was getting sleepy and I kissed his little head, smelling his freshly washed hair. I loved on my baby for a minute before crawling out of the bed. I paused at the door, half expecting (and a tiny bit hoping) he would call out to me, but he didn't. He was ready. And so was I.

We both grew a little bit.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Live and Learn

My dear friend Ms. J wrote about a scary experience that recently happened with her daughter, Peanut. It reminded me of something that happened with Will when he was about the same age. I never wrote about it because. . . well, I'll be really honest, I was embarrassed about it. And though I am fortunate that most of the comments I receive here are positive (or at least polite if voicing disagreement), I have had a few negative comments from time to time. And if someone had issues with me letting my son go potty by "himself" at the zoo, I am sure that someone will have issues with this and I was a little too raw about it to blog it in "real time".

That being said, I am not a rainbows and lollipops parent. There are many wonderful things about being a mommy, but there are lots of things that are frustrating, embarassing, and downright confusing. And then, there are times when you mess up, plain and simple. Some time has passed since this happened and, as I was thinking about it today, I realized that sharing this story might actually be a bit of a PSA. Because other people might not think about things the same way you do, so even a loving family member can unintentionally put your child(ren) at risk.

Rewind to a little over a year and a half ago. It was late fall 2009 and I was just barely pregnant with Emma and Will was somewhere around 17 months old. Battling morning sickness and exhausted, I was laying on the floor of his gated playroom, listlessly watching him play when he toddled over to me and handed me a WET, CHEWED ON half tablet of mystery origin. A tiny bit of white powder was at the corner of his mouth, dismissing my fervent hope that a dog had chewed the unidentified pill. Fortunately, there was still enough of an imprint left that I was able to Google and figure out that it was. . . VICODIN. Only half, mind you. IMMEDIATELY, my mind freaked out, wondering where the heck the other half was. Oh, and WHERE IN THE NAME OF GRAVY DID THIS VICODIN EVEN COME FROM?!?! I had percocet following my c-section with Will and couldn't remember the last time I had vicodin before that. And super-healthy, surgery-free M hasn't ever been prescribed vicodin. Even if we DID have vicodin in the house, we keep all medications (even the "baby" ones) in a LOCKED cabinet far above young childrens' hands in our upstairs bathroom - and WILL DIDN'T CLIMB STAIRS at that age and we had baby gates at the top and bottom of the staircase.

After identifying the mystery pill, I immediately called our pediatrician's office, and was told to call poison control. That phone call might have been the lowest point of my parenting career. Calling poison control and admitting my child had a vicodin in his hand, that was clearly chewed upon, and that I didn't even know where it came from. . . yeah, my Parent of the Year Trophy definitely was a bit tarnished. Fortunately, the lady on the phone was very, very nice. She said that even newborns can safely tolerate small doses of vicodin and that unless he ingested more than half a pill, he would be just fine, if a bit drowsy. She said he could have taken several pills and still be okay. She gave me warning signs to look for and did suggest I try to identify the "source" just to make sure it didn't happen again and that he had, indeed, only had a half tablet.

I scoured our house, looking for stray vicodin. Then, coming up empty handed, I then started making calls to people who had recently been in our house. It was awkward, but I was desperate to find out where this pill had come from. Fortunately, I was only two calls in when I discovered what had happened.

Turns out, it came from my MIL, who had visited the day before. She keeps half vicodin tablets in a baggie in her purse for her geriatric dog who travels everywhere with her. The baggie was in her purse, but after checking it while we were on the phone, she realized it was partially unzipped and had spilled into (and apparenlty out of) her purse. She was POSITIVE she had 9 half tablets before and she had 8 in her purse now. And Will had found the 9th. I was all at once both furious and relieved. Will was fine, but I felt as if we'd had a close call. I (very politely) made it clear to my MIL that she was no longer allowed to bring any sort of medications into our home if they weren't in childproof containers AND I put her purse in the closet when she visits. She felt terrible about what happened (she loves Will more than life itself and would never want to harm him - she just wasn't thinking about the potential danger) and was eager to make sure it never happened again. Problem solved (though I still went through the house twice more to make sure there were no more halves that she might have miscounted).

This story serves as a good reminder that those that visit you might not be aware of the necessary precautions you should take when you have children around. Obviously, vicodin is a scary one that most people would think about taking special care with, but even the more "innocent" medications like acetaminophen can be dangerous in high doses. It is likely that most people who enter your home have medication in their belongings. It is a sensitive topic to broach with some people, but there are gentle ways to do it. If you have people visiting, especially overnight guests who might have a medicine bag with them, it is easy to offer them a special place to keep things where accidental access is less likely to happen (a locked cabinet or high shelf of a closet for example). I usually phrase it like this: "I can't guarantee Will, Emma, or our dog will stay out of your purse (or whatever personal items they might have brought). Can I put it in this closet for you?" I show them where I am putting said belonging(s) so they have free access to it, but it keeps the kiddos out and whatever they might have brought in. It also takes the burden off of them and places it on me and I don't need to get into the whole "are you carrying drugs" with you conversation. And yes, I also do think that it is very, very important to teach my children not to get into peoples' things and not to eat things that haven't been given to them by an adult they trust. But my children are still very young and I do not want the cost of them breaking a "rule" to be their lives.

So, all is well that ends well and I learned a valuable lesson. Hopefully, you can learn from it, too.

Without a call to poison control.

*If you have other suggestions on this topic or stories to share, that's great. If you disagree with how I handled this, that is fine, too. I am always eager to learn from others' perspectives. Just keep it respectful, please, we're all on the same team here!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Then and Now

Recently, quite a few of my blog friends have been having their second babies (I only linked to two, because the others are PWP). Most of these ladies have been with me from the beginning (or close to it), so it has been nice to watch their journies continue on to #2. All of them, of course, are rocking the mom to two thing. Hardly surprising, since they are awesome mommies to begin with.






Of course, watching them brings a mix of emotions to me. First and foremost, I am so freakin' happy for them. It really is a special (if a bit crazy) time bringing home a baby. There is also a bit of sadness thrown in, because I know some really amazing ladies for whom #2 hasn't happened yet, and I can imagine following these stories is more than a little bittersweet. It also makes me a eensy bit jealous. I don't really want a third, but that newborn phase is so fleeting that it makes me wistful that I'll never have it again. Lastly, in total conflict, it makes me a bit glad that I will never have that again. As wonderful as that newborn phase is, it is also incredibly hectic, exhausting, and emotionally draining, and I love sleep.


Where I am today is good.



I am really into a rhythm with my two. I am not at all afraid about going anywhere with them by myself. I am not the stay at home type of stay at home mom, so I was concerned about this heading into #2. I needn't have been. I go everywhere with my monkeys. Everywhere.



Our life has settled into a somewhat predictable routine. I am not nearly as. . . well, let's just say it . . . CRAZY about scheduling everything like I was with Will, but I still do like to keep things similar from day to day. I think kids like that predictability, and even if they don't, I do. I like knowing when I can schedule appointments and such and when I will have some (precious) Mommy-time!


Emma is beginning to truly communicate what she wants. She has a few words she can say, but her latest, "BITE!" when she is hungry is very convenient! This girl is hungry a LOT. She also can gesture wildly to things he wants (binky, sippy cup, toy her brother is playing with, etc.). Will is almost three (time needs to stop, I am serious) and talk about communication! Whew! He is also getting more independent by the day and can get himself (mostly) dressed, shoes off or on, and help me with all sorts of small chores. So, life gets easier as the two of them get older.


I felt as if the first year of Emma's life went by in an impossibly fast blur. I seriously don't know how a year passed us. She was born and then pop! she was turning one. I can only imagine this next year will scoot by even faster. I am trying to enjoy every moment, but I will admit, I often feel as if an entire day slips by without me even realizing it.


The other day, we were driving someplace when Will sneezed. Emma laughed. So then Will fake sneezed and Emma laughed again. Then. . . she faked a sneeze! Then Will laughed. They had each other in belly laughs within a few minutes. M and I were up front laughing, too. It's those moments that everything kind of slips together and freeze frames. And those moments are crazy incredible. They are worth every shot in the stomach, every failed cycle, every time in the strirrups, everything. But I am no longer in that place, that then. I thank God for that every single day.


To steal the line from a very cheesy American Idol song, "This is my now."


Monday, August 1, 2011

Because Sometimes, A Girl Needs A List

Sometimes, I look back at the day and I think, "What did I DO today?"

I saw this on A'dell's blog and thought it was pure genius. Because it reminds me that I actually AM doing something each day. . . even when it doesn't seem like it.

1. Woke up before the kids so I could make M breakfast (peanut butter on toast - hardly gourmet, don't be impressed).

2. Showered (you're welcome, World).

3. Made breakfast for both kids. Cleaned up (as in, tossed all dishes in the sink - the dishwasher was full).

4. Got both kids sunscreened, dressed, and ready for the day.

5. Got myself dressed and ready for the day.

6. Fed and put the dog out.

7. Went to have three estimates done on the car for brakework. Ugh. (But apparently vying for Top Secret Mom of the Year of Award, I took them to a park during each estimate - I have a feeling I will be waiting for my trophy for quite some time. . .)

8. Went to a friend's house for lunch so Will could play.

9. Put both kids down for a nap.

10. Put away folded laundry FROM SATURDAY (okay, so my TSM award might just be taken away for the delay).

11. Put a new load of laundry in the wash.

12. Played with both kids.

13. Made dinner for both kids. And didn't really clean up because I will be making dinner for M and myself later on.

14. Bath for both kiddos. This is where M comes into the picture and I come down to blog and do other non-kid-related things.

Still to be accomplished: Research "sour dough bread starters" (also from A'dell's blog) and think (notice I said THINK) about doing that. Put both kids to bed. Have a "dinner date at home" with the husband. Lots of Little Things that will bore you (like fold laundry).

What did you do today? What is left to be done?

Friday, July 29, 2011

He Is Three

I have two close girlfriends with children approximately 5 months ahead of Will. It is both wonderful and a bit unnerving all at once.

The wonderful part is obvious. Having close friends going through similar ages and stages is comforting. It's nice knowing that I am not the only one going through whatever the current challenge is. It's nice having a bit of a yardstick. Though all children are different and it's best not to directly compare them, it does seem as if kids do roughly follow the same patterns as far as development. It is also lovely to have playmates for our children and to know no matter what house you are at, there will be a variety of age-appropriate toys, a pack-n-play or two, a booster, etc.

The unnerving part is that I also get to see what happens with their kids before it happens to me. Five months is still a pretty big leap in preschool-aged kids, so Will is usually a step behind the two older kids.

At first, I would watch their kids change and think, "Wow, I am glad Will doesn't do that."

And then, five months or so would pass, and he would do that, too.

It works the either direction, too. I will watch their kids do something and think, "Hmmm, I wonder why Will doesn't do that."

Five months or so later, and he does.

So, watching their kids is like watching my future life in about five months.

About a month before their respective birthdays, both of my friends' girls' sleep fell apart. They started waking multiple times a night, fighting bedtime and naps, and having nightmares. I seriously can't remember the last time Will did any of those things. That is, of course, until this past week, when he started doing all of them and I remembered that we were a month out from him turning three.

About a month before their birthdays, both of the older preschoolers started throwing tantrums of gagantuan proportions and it was drama, drama, drama about the tiniest little things. Well, enter Will and tantrums over everything. Everything.

So, yeah, here I am. About a month before he officially turns three, I find myself with a "three year old" in terms of behavior. Now, I have heard from everyone that the Terrible Twos are little league when compared to the hijinks that a three year old brings to the table.

As with most things, however, there is the other side of the coin. Almost-three-year-old Will is incredibly sweet. His spontaneous hugs and kisses are so wonderful. He has so much compassion for a friend that is hurt, patting them on the back and asking if someone could "please get them a bandaid". He loves to "help Mommy" by doing all sorts of "big boy" things. He loves to read to himself and his sister (he has so many books memorized that it almost does seem as if he is reading - he even knows when to turn the pages).

He is good boy - with the attitude of a three year old. And I saw it coming yet couldn't really prepare myself for how it felt to parent a preschooler. It is exhausting on so many levels. I love the challenge, accept it for what it is. But there are moments when I am already counting the days until his next birthday. . . over a year from now! And then there are moments when I want to bottle up the sweetness and save it until I am 103 years old.

In any case, the adventure of motherhood is never predictable. I only hope I am fit to the task ahead!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Infertility, I HATE You

I had many IRL friends that I felt very "let down" by during our battle with infertility and miscarriage. It seemed my friends fell into three categories. Either:
A) they would avoid talking about it altogether and change the subject when I brought it up. I'd say about 50% of my friends fell into this camp.
B) they would say really hurtful and insensitive things and not just occasionally, but whenever we did talk about it. You know the usual platitudes and things that grate your heart and nerves to shreds ("It was God's plan." "When will you be "over" this?" "Well, something was probably wrong with the baby anyway."). I'd say about 25% fell into this category. Most of these friendships didn't survive this time in my life.
C) they were incredible supportive and our friendship grew because of it. I'd say the remaining 25% of my friends (which is still high compared to what I read on other blogs) really seemed compassionate. Even if they clearly didn't understand, they made an attempt to, and they listened to me when I needed it, distracted me when I needed it, and cried with me when I needed it.

Of the last group, there were two friends that I could really count on. Those were the two IRL friends that I spoke to almost daily and still do. Those two women were my touchstones. I will call one of those women Melissa.

Melissa and her husband waited a bit to have kids. He was in medical school and she was just starting her career. So while I was going through everything, she was far away from the world of TTC. Despite that, she remained compassionate and concerned, and was there for me during every single miscarriage.

Last July, she told to me that they were starting to TTC. I was so excited. Even though our friendship has stayed strong, the fact that I have kids and she doesn't has kind of separated us. Not in a bad way, but you know how it is. . . they never need a sitter, we can never find one, she wears suits and I wear spit up, they are jetting off to tropical sans kiddos vacations, and we are packing the grocery-getter and driving to the Great Wolf Lodge. I am not complaining, mind you, but I was looking forward to sharing these things with her and knew it would bring us even closer.

A few months went by with no luck. She wasn't overly concerned, but she asked me about charting, temping, and OPKs. I was happy to give her information, old charts of mine, and direct her to all of my favorite TTC sites.

After eight months of TTC she had her annual exam. She told her GYN what was going on and the doctor wasn't that concerned, but said they could run some basic tests, just to put her mind at ease. The bloodwork that they did uncovered a mildly elevated FSH and a luteal phase defect. With that discovery, her doctor also had her husband get a sperm analysis which uncovered morphology issues. Her doctor recommended that they immediately start Femara and IUIs to assist them in getting pregnant.

The first cycle, her lining was too thin and they canceled the trigger and IUI. The second cycle, she developed a cyst and canceled trigger and IUI. The third cycle, her lining looked great, but the follicle was too small to trigger, so they had her come back in two days and she had already ovulated on her own. She had little hope for the cycle.

In June, her sister-in-law told her that she and her husband were going off the Pill, just to see what happened. You guessed it, the sister-in-law told her last week that she got a positive pregnancy test. Melissa was convinced this cycle failed and she cried as she talked about having to watch her sister-in-law be pregnant so easily. She felt terrible for her feelings, but I assured her they were normal and in no way made her a bad person.

The next day, she called me and told me in a trembling voice that she was holding a faintly positive pee stick. I whooped and hollered and we cried together. She and her husband decided to keep their happy news a secret until an ultrasound, but her sister-in-law announced her news to the family at dinner this last weekend.

On Monday, Melissa was at a work meeting. Her coworker is nine months pregnant and so they had a baby shower for her. Somewhere between the cake and presents, she felt a tiny gush. She went into the bathroom and stared in horror at the toilet bowl filled with blood. From the stall, she called me, hoping for reassurance. I tried to do my best, I know miracles happen. I told her to call her doctor and get a beta.

The beta was dismal. She is miscarrying.

What. . . the. . . hell.

I just do not understand sometimes. I would NEVER wish infertility on any of my friends, even the ones who are no longer friends. BUT what I do not understand is why it seems to affect the most compassionate, wonderful women that I know. I am sure this is just a matter of perspective. I am sure it affects all manners of women, but I just get so tired of hearing and seeing about babies born to people who could care less, who abuse and neglect them and don't love them. And then my sister, my sister-in-law, one of my best friends. . . I see these women who would be the most amazing mothers suffering so very deeply in their quest to become parents.

And it makes me so angry. I am filled with sadness, yes, but also a quiet and honestly, a bit scary, RAGE. I want to yell and scream at somebody, but there is no one to "blame". And the very worst part about having experienced miscarriage and infertility myself is that I know that nothing I really say or do can truly HELP my friend at this point. I can be there for her and that does help, but I cannot take her hurt away. I cannot stop her tears. I cannot unbreak her heart. I cannot tell her that this won't happen again or that she will be pregnant again soon. I cannot tell her anything but the words that I heard so many times, and now had to say too many times to women that I love. "I am sorry."

And it makes me so angry.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I Survived

It was a crazy couple of days. I didn't take ONE picture, so I will save the official wrap up for when I get the disk of pics my sister and a friend took for me.

But it was a wonderful party and though I am exhausted to the core, it was everything that I hoped for. The best part was getting to love on my sweet little girl and see her enjoy her special day.

Pictures and more details to come!




Edited. . . pics starting to come in.


Feast your eyes upon the yummy smash cake and cupcakes that turned out JUST EXACTLY how I wanted them to!




And. . . oh, you guys. There are no words to fully describe how much I love this little girl. I am so incredibly blessed.


More to come.




Friday, July 22, 2011

In Which Katie Goes Party Crazy

I am not sure why I have gone so off the deep end (ha, ha, it's an "under the sea" party theme) with this party, but I have.

I have completely tossed my own good advice aside and done too much, not kept it simple, and pretty much created a crapload of work for myself.

However.

I am pretty excited. I do think all of this hard work is going to pay off. I think it's going to be an amazing first birthday party for one amazing little girl (who won't remember a thing).

Of course, there will be pictures galore to come.

Fingers crossed that it all works out (somewhat) as I have pictured it and that it doesn't rain. Pretty, oh, pretty please.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

So Much In Love

Okay, as I have said before, I get NO compensation for this blog or any products that I blog about! So, please know this endorsement is 100% FROM. THE. HEART.

Do you remember the chocolate story? Please click back if you didn't read it. It's worth it, I promise, plus it makes what comes next even more important.

Well, several different cleaners failed to get the chocolate out. I tried (my previous favorite) Folex (still swear by this for animal stains), OxiClean, SpotShot (another fave), and many more. But I still was left with discolored spots and definite stains in my carpet.

I have used this before. I didn't think it would work for this situation, but, friends, IT SO DID.

I wholeheartedly recommend this product. Use it, love it, have clean carpets again! TRUST ME.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy First Birthday, Emma

Dearest, Sweetest Emma Grace,

I may not have written as much during your first year as I did during your brother's, but rest assured, it is not because Mommy loves you any less. It is because you have filled Mommy's days with such laughter, love, and happiness, that I just don't have as much time to fill these pages. Each day, I wake up, excited and ready to face the day. Each day goes by in a blur. And each night, I go to bed and fall asleep almost as soon as my head hits the pillow. You and your brother keep me busy.

But not a day goes by that I do not think about how lucky I am to be your mama. You are quite simply the easiest, happiest, most wonderful baby girl that has ever been. From the day we brought you home from the hospital, you have been a great sleeper and awesome eater. Your quick smile and belly laughs have filled this house with joy beyond compare. When I see you and your brother together, my heart swells with the love that I have for both of you.

Now, don't get me wrong, Little Miss, you may be easy to please and happy as a clam, with a laugh that makes others laugh right along with you, but you are also fiesty, full of heart, and have a huge personality.

You like to tease people. You will offer me a bite of food and then pull it away and plop it in your own mouth. You like to play peek a boo with your daddy and steal his glasses. You like to play keep-a-way with your brother. And if you don't get something as quickly as your little heart desires, well, then we are going to hear about it!

But, oh Emma. Your heart is so big. You are so sweet and smiley. Everyone always comments on your big, toothy grin and how happy and content you always are. You love to imitate us. You will make just about any sound we do. . . except Mama, you little tease! Some of your favorite words are "sish" (fish), "Boo!", "ticky ticky" (for tickles), "tank too" (thank you), dadda, and Va Va Va Vee (for when we were trying to teach Will how to say "Vee").

Today, your grandma Jane said, "Just think about where you were a year ago and how happy you aren't there right now!"

And I thought to myself that the day you were born was the best day of my life and I would give a lot to be able to live that day again. Yes, of course, there were some stressful (and even painful) moments, but what I really remember was the peacefulness that came into my soul the moment you were placed into my arms. Those moments with just your Daddy, you, and me in the hospital were filled with bliss and happiness. I had waited my whole life to hold you in my arms, to kiss your sweet face, to count your fingers and watch them curl tightly around my hand. My whole life, I wanted to be a mommy, but I had no idea that what I really wanted was to be Will's Mommy and your Mommy. I had no idea what being a mommy meant until you and your brother arrived to show me. Each day, you teach me more and more about what it truly means to be a mother.

Today is your first birthday. I am sad to be saying goodbye to your babyhood but I am already looking forward to all of the wonderful and amazing times that we have ahead. Watching you grow into a toddler, then a little girl, and finally a woman will be the greatest honor and privilege of my life. I know I will make mistakes along the way, I know that there are times that I will let you down. Please know that I will always do my best to be the very best mother to you that I can be and to guide you a long the way, while also stepping back and giving you room to grow and conquer the world on your own.

Also know that there are times along the way that you will make mistakes. You will think you have let me down. I promise you this, Sweetest Girl: there is nothing you could ever do that would make me love you less. I will always be proud of you and humbled by the opportunity to be your mommy. All that I want for you is health, happiness, and faith in yourself. You will do amazing things, my wonderful daughter, and I will be there, cheering you on and bursting with pride. I can't wait to see who you become, because the person you are today is just a tiny fraction of who you will one day be, and yet you are already so amazing, I don't honestly know how you could get any better.

Yet I know you will.

With love forever and always,
Mommy

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ah, Iced Tea

I have always loved iced tea. My mom used to make sun tea in the summers and I loved having the pitchers of it in the refrigerator. I loved coming home after a hard day of playing and chugging a glass of the icy-cold goodness.

I have also always loved my iced tea very sweet. For this reason, I rarely order it in restaurants or have it at someone's house, because it is kind of embarassing how much sugar I like to add and I don't enjoy it if it's not sweet enough.

I still remember the day that I discovered sweet tea. I was at a work meeting, sitting next to a coworker from Georgia. He ordered iced tea at lunch and then proceeded to empty a dozen sugar packets into his glass. Be still my beating heart! I had found my iced tea soulmate! I couldn't help but comment that I finally met someone who liked their tea as sweet as I did. He responsed that he could fill the glass with sugar and it still wouldn't taste like his mama's, because to be real sweet tea, the sugar and tea had to be brewed together. Another girl at the table, also from the south, said she would make me some real sweet tea when we got back to our hotel that night (we were at a month-long training and living in hotels that were basically apartments, complete with full kitchens). So, on our way back from the meeting, we stopped at the grocery store for to to buy a 5 lb bag of sugar, a box of tea bags, and a huge glass jar. . . oh, and some mint, though I personally don't like mint in mine, but apparently, it is essential to "true" sweet tea in some areas of the south.

She then showed me the secret to making sweet tea. Now, I will tell you, if you like your tea sweet, you will like my sweet tea. If you don't like your tea sweet. . . well, I will make you a glass of plain iced tea because I like to be a good hostess. But my friends love it and request it at playdates and parties. I love to oblige. I have three sun tea jugs because I always have at least one in the fridge, cooled and ready to go, one out on my back porch, steeping, and one is usually at a friends' house.

This blog entry is not about my sweet tea, however. It is about how I found the best iced tea in the world. . . in Mexico.

When my husband and I went to Mexcio for our honeymoon, I was nursing a kidney infection, so drinking alcohol was out. I ordered an iced tea on our second day there and. . . oh mah word. It was the best tea I had ever tasted - it blew my poor lil' sweet tea clean out of the water. It was sweet, had a touch of citrus flavor to it, came with little slices of lime, and was amazing. I sucked down cup after cup of this amazing brew. Most restaurants had the iced tea in self-serve cannisters, so I started bringing my own water bottle and filling it up. I just couldn't get enough of this exotic brew.

When we got home, I tried to recreate the flavor, and I couldn't. I brewed my tea stronger, weaker, tried different brands of tea bags. I thought adding lime would help, it didn't. I thought adding lemon, maybe? It didn't work. Nothing could get me that taste. I had failed in my quest.

M heard about this iced tea for two freaking years. When we planned our return trip to Mexico for our two year wedding anniversary, I swear I was the most excited about having that iced tea again.

It didn't disappoint. I sucked down three glasses within ten minutes of checking in.

This time, I was determined to find out the magical secret to "Mexican Iced Tea". I asked the servers how it was made, but the language barrier seemed to make it impossible. They kept pantomiming a jug and scooping motions with their hands. Nothing there.

It was on our last day there that disaster struck - NO ICED TEA in the cannisters. I asked our server and she indicated it hadn't been made for the day, but she could make me one. Boy howdy, this was what I had been waiting for. "Yes, please!" I said, desperate for the recipe more than the drink itself.

I surreptitiously followed her so I could see her magic work from the behind the bar. Imagine my shock when I saw her pull a container of Lipton Instant Iced Tea with Lemon from under the counter and do exactly what the servers had been trying to show me with their pantomimes: The cannister opened and she scooped in the powder. Then she added the twist of lime and some ice.

That was it? My secret, amazing, only-in-paradise iced tea was. . . INSTANT? From a can? Oh, the woe.

Turns out that, yes, it was. I thought perhaps she had just made the instant because it would be the fastest way to bring me what I'd ordered. But no, I took a sip, and that was it. Instant iced tea was the elixir I had been searching for.

I came home, eager to spread the word, only to find that others apparently do not share my love of the instant tea. Friends tell me that I am crazy and that my sweet tea is so much better. So the dirty little secret in the back of my pantry is my Costco sized cannister of Lipton Iced Tea**. I highly recommend it.

But if you want to make the real deal, here is the easy recipe for sweet tea that a good friend from the south taught me. Great for parties, playdates (I use decaf tea bags, so it's even kid-friendly, though then I use a bit less sugar - boo!), bbqs, or just hanging out around the house.

Sweet Tea

■6 to 8 tea bags
■1 quart hot water (4 cups)
■1 quart cold water (4 cups)
■1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste - and I use 3/4 cup in mine)***

Step One:

Pour the cold water into the sun tea jar (this is important - most sun tea jars today are plastic and could melt or warp if you pour the hot water in directly later on).

Step Two:

In a sauce pan, bring water to a full boil over high heat. Remove from heat and add the tea bags. Allow to steep for exactly ten minutes, stirring very gently a few times during the steeping time.

Step Three:

Remove the tea bags and add the sugar to the HOT tea. Stir until fully dissolved.

Step Four:

Very carefully pour the hot tea into the cold water in the jug.

Voila! Put it into the fridge to cool. Serve over ice.

*Oh, and if you must have mint, add that during the steeping time and then strain it out. Lemon wedges are also a nice garnish.

**No, I have not been compensated for this blog, though if the fine people at Lipton wanted to send me some tea, I wouldn't say no! ;)

***Most sun tea jars are gallon sized, so I usually double this recipe.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This and That

I threw out my neck this Monday by . . . are you ready for this. . . getting out of bed. But because that is about the lamest story ever (and makes me sound 82), I am saying that I actually injured myself by sitting in the front row of the theater when we took Will to see his first movie this last weekend.

Well, actually, we didn't sit in the very front row. We were only four rows back, however, and I did feel as if I spent the whole time straining my neck. It was worth it, however, because Will loved the movie. He sat through the entire thing and only said things like, "Look, Mommy, it's Lightening McQueen! And he's HUGE!" He sat in his own chair for about half the movie and then alternated between our two laps for the remainder.

He was kind of a turkey after, though. I think he was just a bit overwhelmed by everything. We had gone to a birthday party earlier that day where he had his first bloody nose after a nasty fall on the playground. He was playing with some older kids who were spinning him on some sort of spinny-thing. He was having a great time, until he tried to get off and smacked himself good on the spinny-thing. He bled all over and gave me quite a scare. But five minutes later and a juice box later he was back out playing. It took me a lot longer to calm down.

Speaking of birthday parties, Emma's first birthday is looming. She turns a year old this Sunday. I am all sorts of emotional about it. I was giving her a bottle today and realized that we won't be doing bottles anymore soon. It made me very nostalgic and I actually started to tear up. Then she saw me and cracked a smile, formula running out the sides of her mouth, and it made me laugh.

Party plans are fully underway. I am starting to feel as if I have things somewhat under control. Well, I did, until I threw out my silly neck. Now I am a bit behind, but not much. I keep repeating my own advice: Remember the point of the party. All that really matters is that I have been blessed with the most amazing little girl and that she is turning one.

I do have one question, however. This is my menu:

Submarine sandwiches
Fish-shaped pbjs
Seashell pasta salad
Individual bags of chips
Cake (of course)
Soda, water, juice

Do you think I need to add a fruit of some sort? Like watermelon slices or grape bunches? I'd honestly rather not add anything else, but I also want to provide a decent lunch. Your thoughts?