31 October 2010

Of Holding On

Little Boy's Latest Development:  He can hold his own bottle! (sort of) 

He has become much more grabby of late - playing with anything and everything he can get his hands on (including, of course, Mommy's hair) - and "playing" means gripping it with all his might and subsequently shoving it into his wide open, toothless mouth to be gummed to death.  Thus he enjoys his blankie bear (I just came up with that title, but I kind of like it) and his paci has taken on a whole new level of enjoyment - not just for sucking anymore as he pulls it out of his mouth and chews the hard plastic base.

And all of this activity has culminated in his ability to hold his own bottle - to a certain extent.  He still doesn't quite know how to handle his own strength and equalize pressure between arms, so he often knocks his milk source out of his mouth due to pushing too hard with one fist and not enough with the other.  Then his little mouth starts working like a fish gasping for water.  Little cutie.

He'll also chase his bottle if I decide to tease him by pulling it out of his mouth and watching his pudgy arms desperately grab for it and reel the plastic container back in.  It's a fun game. 

Well, fun for me.

30 October 2010

Of Chick-or-Cheaking

Tonight was Shawnee's official Trick-or-Treat evening (along with various other locales in Oklahoma and possibly elsewhere, frankly I don't feel the need to do the research on this one).  While caught unaware during our first year as official home-owners/candy-dealers (the first time I'd ever experienced a city just moving the observance of Halloween to whatever it night chose), I found myself completely prepared this year.  Well, prepared in that, in the absence of investing in other children's tooth decay, we opted to side-step them altogether by taking our own munchkin on her costumed parade down the street.  Nothing like avoiding the issue while earning free candy in the process.

And did she sure love it.

Micaiah quickly caught on to the routine, knocking on the door with her itty-bitty fist (and following the knock with, "Come in!" - clearly playing the roles of both parties on this one), waiting patiently for the resident to appear, stepping to the side so the door could open wide enough for her to hold up her McDonald's Halloween Bucket and declare, "Chick-a-Cheak!"  After a quick "Tank-u" she waited for Mommy (loosely disguised as the Mama Bear to her Baby Bear) to gather canned goods (to later donate to the local food pantry) from the suckered door-opener, she would step away, grab Aunt Dee-ya's hand and move along to the next free-candy-stop while Daddy and his Mini-Me followed behind.

Now, there was some trial-and-error, such as learning after a visit to our first stop that we don't just walk in to any random house that opens the door to us.  And, sometimes there's a step on the porch and even though it's dark we should kind of watch out for that before face-planting.  But overall, it was good.  She was a fan.

In case you need a visual of our little family "decked-out" for Halloween (I use the term lightly because we definitely put out minimal effort this year):

29 October 2010

Of Non-Existance

I have a confession to make:  Emmett is four and a half months old and we don't have his birth certificate yet.  Nor have we sent off for it.

For those who don't know, getting a copy of the birth certificate is not an automatic thing.  You actually have to pay for it.  And as I keep forgetting to budget the $15 and, more importantly, I keep forgetting to make a copy of my driver's license anytime I'm actually in a location where that would be possible, it hasn't happened.

So, according to our records, our son does not yet exist.


28 October 2010

Of Angela's Law

I'm writing early because I'm expecting my college roommate to arrive this evening for a day-and-a-half o' fun!  (Although in reality I've grown quite boring in my old age and I'm not so sure how we'll entertain ourselves, but I'm pretty sure I know a couple of little kids who may require attention, so we'll see how far they go in the entertainment category.)

I have, of course, been cleaning my home to prepare for this wonderful guest.  Yet, I find myself questioning why we all feel the need to do a deep clean before guests arrive, as if we're all trying so hard to not let anyone else know how we actually live because we assume everyone else does it better, and yet the only reason we assume such is because everyone else cleans before we visit - oh the vicious cycle our culture has created.  Thus, I've decided, while not necessarily shattering the cycle, I'm not kicking my tail to have this home spotless.

Because I live here.

And I have two children and a husband who also live here.

There has to be a natural train of thought that leads one to presume that messes are made and, yes, we deal with them, but I'd rather not pretend we live in a museum.  It's our home.  If you visit, you're family and you'll live.

On a tangential line of thinking . . . another idea occurred to me while sweeping - a perfect time for thinking, I'd say.  I now hold the firm belief that the amount of time allotted for cleaning decreases in direct proportion to the amount of people who live in the home creating messes which need cleaning.  We'll call this Angela's Law.  I would have made a line graph depicting the law further for those visual learners out there, but if I had the time to make superfluous line graphs, I'd have the time to clean my home.

Here is an example of said law at work:

While pregnant with my first child, I made it a habit to sweep and mop my floors weekly.  I loved the look of pristine hardwood-imposter laminate flooring.  It made me feel so domestic.  It helped that the floor rarely ever looked that bad in the first place.  Two inactive adults tend not to create much dirt.

That habit was dropped shortly after I began spending my time chasing a crawler around said now-non-pristine non-wood floors.  However, I had lately begun to pick up with the routine again and I've found that by the time my next-scheduled time arrives in which I pull out my broom and dustpan, my floors, particularly the area under our dining room table, look like an angry monkey found our cereal boxes.  If I haven't mopped in a week (or longer), my fake-wood floors are speckled with white drops of dried milk which have leaked from one of the twelve sippie-cups peppering our entertainment center, ottoman and side table.  This is ridiculous!  And if I wanted my floors to NOT look that way, I'd pretty much have to care for them daily and, let's be honest, the once-a-week thing isn't even happening as regularly as the name implies because I tend to be a bit busy with the other aspects of life - like feeding and entertaining my children.

And this ironic cycle of children creating debris while simultaneously sucking the time out of the day which would otherwise be used for counteracting their disarray is Angela's Law at work.

27 October 2010

Of Eating Disorders

My son is bulimic.  You wouldn't know it by looking at him:

But trust me, under that fat, happy smile is an insecure little man who, for some reason, feels the need to spit up everything he eats.  Or so it would seem.

Honestly, I'm not sure how he manages to pack it all on.  After nearly every feeding he'll soak himself in white upchuck.  It's not exactly my favorite part of the day, but so routine I barely flinch when I feel the warm liquid sliding down my arm (or my shirt) for the umpteenth time.

When we put him in his carseat, he's always dry; by the time we get him in the car, his shirt, arms, straps, and pretty much anything else he can manage, are sticky and reeking of rotten milk.  We can't keep enough burp cloths, towels, blankets, or any other semi-absorbent material on-hand to compensate for the liquid he loses hourly.  

And every time he's finished pouring out his entire lunch, he just looks at you with that heart-stopping grin, so proud of himself, and you can't help but somehow think that's just the cutest you've ever seen.  Even if super gross.

26 October 2010

Of Living in the Future

While watching a Back to the Future marathon on T.V. a month or so ago it occurred to me how close we are to the future as depicted in the second movie of the series.  I remember when the part where the future Marty McFly is fired via a VERY large video screen used to converse with his business associates, sponsored by AT&T, seemed just plain crazy.  And, yet, my children regularly interact with their grandparents through our own computer monitor.  We may not have ourselves hooked-up to a giant television screen (primarily because we don't feel the need to own one), but the basic concept, one that seemed ridiculous 20 years ago, is the same.  My daughter routinely sings with her grandparents, blows them kisses and gives them "hugs" via video.  How crazy is that?!

Now, of course, we don't have food-hydraters (nor would I really be interested in owning one should they even exist), nor is the dual-tie look considered fashionably forward.  And I've never been in a home with mini-fax machines in the closet, but who wants something so wasteful in today's paperless world anyway?

So, basically what I'm saying is that if the only futuristic aspect to Back to the Future Part II were the ginormous video call, we would SO be the future to which they are referring.

P.S. As previously implied, I am not extremely tech-savy, so if there are any issues with the above video, you'll just have to deal.  You should just be impressed that there's an actual video on here in the first place, rather than a simple link.

25 October 2010

Of Changing Seasons

Changing seasons for me now includes, along with the falling of the leaves, the blowing of the boisterous Oklahoma wind and the cooling temperatures, the switching out of my children's wardrobes.  We have been very blessed by family and friends with many gifts and even more hand-me-downs.  I have not once needed to buy my children any clothing (that's not to say I have not done so, but I rarely do and never out of pure necessity).  Thus, each new season means unboxing the previously stored used clothing and boxing up the  too-small pieces in her drawers to save for another daughter someday down the road. 

In the past this has been an exciting time - like going shopping.  It was so much fun to discover all the adorable clothing we'd been given and our beautiful children would now have the chance to wear.

Now, after two years of getting to play dress-up, the thrill has worn off a little and I primarily notice the fact that new clothes mean another season's worth of clothing my daughter won't be able to wear ever again.  While she hasn't yet outgrown her skirts and tank tops I know they won't fit next year.  She's growing and I can't stop her.

I haven't gotten to Emmett's clothes yet, but I know it'll be just the same - that precious boy is growing faster than he needs and is already comfortable in 6-9month clothing.  I'm just not sure if I can take it.

Motherhood is teeming with nostalgia.

24 October 2010

Of Being

Last night, after dinner, I noticed a certain twinge in the natural light peering in from our back windows.  I hurried outside, knowing it was a sign of the setting sun and knowing it had been cloudy all day so tonight's sunset would not disappoint.  And I caught it just in time.  That is to say, in time not to miss one moment of the fading light.

As I stood and watching, I saw the brilliant yellows, pinks and oranges fade in and out across the sky, illuminating the ripples in the remaining storm clouds and ending with a bright show of fuchsia along the Western horizon.

Philip came out to join me in the backyard and I decided this would be a wonderful moment to share with our little two-year-old - staring at the beauty of God's creation.  Thus, I tore her away from her half-eaten taquito and let her run her still-bibbed little barefooted self outside.  And she was pretty excited. 

Until she realized she wasn't allowed to run past the edge of our porch and all we were doing was staring at the sky. 

Her restlessness kicked in.  She wanted to run.  She wanted to play.  She wanted to sweep (our child has cleaning issues).  She did not want to stand and stare at the sky.

I suddenly remembered being young (as in, younger than I am now, but somewhat older than two) - those moments when my parents were simply trying to take in the beauty of living - going for Sunday drives, sitting around a campfire, just being.  And I remember wondering why they would force us to do something so boring and not attempt to entertain us for some further reason.  We're not driving for ice cream?  We're not going to play word games around the fire (I had somewhat of a nerd issue)?  Then what on earth are we doing?  Just sitting.

Thus, I know how she feels.  And, thus, I comprehend her youthful rambunctiousness.  And I do not want it to fade any quicker than it has to. 

But someday it will be nice to sit, with her by my side, just being.  And having that be enough.

(Emmett, by the way, totally gets it.  He was just fine sitting in Mommy's or Daddy's arms doing nothing more than watching the horizon.  Somehow I have a feeling that won't last.)

23 October 2010

Of Balding

My poor Emmett man is balding.  It's tough for me after having been so in love with his full head of precious hair since the day he was born.  To me, his spiky little hairs are what define his look and make him appear so clearly as a little boy.  Which is why, as I have attempted to rid him of his flaky scalp issues, I had begun to avoid the problem altogether when I discovered the process was increasing the rate at which is tiny little hairs were releasing from his head.

Last night, however, I could force him to endure his cradle cap no longer and I began, once again, to focus with more intensity on the scales atop his head.  After a bath with dandruff shampoo and a full night of intensive olive oil therapy, I almost wanted to cry as I combed out the flakes, watching one or two hairs detach from his scalp with every flake successfully pulled into his comb. 

Along with the aforementioned issues, he has also begun to form the typical bald spot located on the back of his skull from so much time spent laying - especially recently as his current favorite activities are badgering the toy lion which hangs from his play gym and kicking at the fish which activate the lights and music on his bouncy seat.  This rear bald spot has also extended to the sides of his head as he apparently enjoys looking from side to side as well.  Now, don't get me wrong, he doesn't appear as freakish as it may sound here - he still has hair, adorable hair, just not as much as he once did.  When combing his hair now I feel like I'm performing the comb-over of  middle-aged man.

He's just growing up too fast.

22 October 2010

Of Ruts

For the past four and a half years I have kept our shower stocked with Head & Shoulders shampoo.  My husband insists on it.  He's also rather particular about the type of Head & Shoulders - simply grabbing whatever happens to be in stock/on sale won't do.  Thus, as I've gotten more involved in couponing, I've been saddened over the deals of free shampoo I've either had to pass up or just donate to charity because my poor husband's scalp has special needs that just cannot be satisfied with any bottle of shampoo I pull off the shelf at CVS.  Every once in awhile there is a decent sale on my husband's hair cleanser of choice at which point I stock up - grateful that his precious scalp will not have to suffer the consequences of my free-toiletries-obsession.

Last night, while discussing our son's cradle cap issues that can only be solved with dandruff shampoo (like the Head & Shoulders I have so conveniently kept stocked) and inspecting a few flakes in my own hairline I expressed to Philip my slight concern that our children's scalps have little hope between his dandruff and mine. 

His response: "I don't have dandruff."

Why, then, have I been turning down bottles of free shampoo for the sake of his precious Head & Shoulders?

"Because that's what I've always used."


21 October 2010

Of Dwindling

Something I learned today: when you reach a "Normal" weight (a totally faulty concept represented by BMI but somehow it makes me feel satisfied with myself anyway) on the WiiFit, celebratory music is played while your Mii (the Wii representation of yourself, for those who may not be Wii aficionados) does a little happy dance.

That was fun to discover.

PS Shortly after I wrote this, Emmett made a very noisy ordeal of filling his diaper and he just stopped and looked at me wide-eyed as if to say, "What was that?!" At which point I had to remind him, "Don't look at me, you're the one who did it!" That boy makes me happy - even when he's stinky.

20 October 2010

Of Simple Moments

I know I've been dwelling on the small things lately, but that's where I'm living right now: learning to relish those tiny moments that string together to make life.

The Simple Moments of Today:
- After breakfast this morning, I followed Micaiah's instructions to sit on the kitchen floor while she showed me all of her favorite magnets.  Then got me "water" from her sink and fed me "cookies" (more of the magnets).
- The kids and I went grocery shopping and Micaiah did a really good job of staying close (she actually usually doesn't do too bad - and she did kind of unravel at the end - and she may or may not have opened a box of pizza dough mix [it could not be determined if she found the box in said state or did it herself] - but overall, she was good - she's only two, after all)
- After lunch, while Emmett napped, Micaiah and I went outside to play.  We had races, kicked her big blue ball back and forth and had a grand time playing with her Little Tikes Tree House.  She's so fun.
- While Micaiah napped, Emmett laid in his play gym and discovered the fun toys that tangle from the bars.  Later, during dinner, he learned how to make the music play from his toy lion.  He loved that.  And watching him grab for the lion was absolutely adorable.  I tend to forget to let him play, assuming he's still too little, but he's such a big boy and now that I realize what I've been missing out on, he's going to get a lot more play-time!
- After dinner, Philip and I had a good time swinging Micaiah and throwing her onto our bed.  Not to leave out Emmett, we did the same with him (in a much more gentle manner).  They both LOVED it.  Of course, we also jumped on the bed a few times ourselves, giving Micaiah quite the thrill as she watched us leap toward her.
- Before bed, I put in a DVD which came with Micaiah's Bible Story book - something she's had since she was born but we've only just opened yesterday.  We sang along with the Bible songs and listened to the stories on the DVD.  She really enjoyed it all and it was a nice way to wind down before bed (although apparently she didn't wind down enough - she tossed and turned for two more hours!).
- Our little girl had NO potty training accidents today (well, she had wet pants after her nap, but I'm ok with that for now) - only one underwear change all day!!!
- Before tucking Emmett in, he learned all about typical Pirate punishments.  Apparently the Cat O' Nine Tails is quite humorous.  Then again, this boy grins at anything.  He's pretty easily entertained.

And that was my day.

A great day, if I do say so. Funny how noticing the littlest things makes a day feel all the more fulfilling.

19 October 2010

Of an Ordinary Family

This evening, I paused while watching No Ordinary Family (an interesting show and the only one we actually watch at this point) to look around and note that we are, in fact, an ordinary family.  With Micaiah in my lap wearing her favorite Dora the Explorer nightgown (with Boots the monkey, of course!) sorting out her wooden puzzle pieces, matching the letters of the alphabet to their spot on the board while I encourage her and remind her, once again, that it's a "duck" not a "chicken", and Emmett sitting in Philip's lap, being teased as Daddy pulls his knuckle in and out of his mouth, letting him gum it here and there and, of course, the little guy gets a kick out of it. 

Yep, we're an ordinary family.  And I love it.

And speaking of the aforementioned Dora, a highlight of my day: watching Micaiah yell at the T.V. screen, "Salta, Boots, salta!"  And jumping as she said it.  If you understand why that made me smile, we should be friends - or I guess we already are if you're reading this.

On a side note: Emmett had his latest check-up today - 18lbs, 4oz and 26.5 inches long.  That's my big boy.

18 October 2010

Of Punishments

Our daughter is destructive.  It hurts me to say that because for so long I was proud of how gentle she was with her favorite toys: her books.  Even from five months old she would hold her books and stare at them in wonder.  She was never violent with them, didn't tear pages and was ever so gentle when reading.

And then, only when we're not looking, this tiny little page ripper comes out of nowhere!  Within the past couple of months she has wreaked havoc on countless books - tearing pages, covers, you name it.  She has not quite destroyed any volume more than packing tape could repair, but the results have been frustrating nonetheless.

Today was the last straw.  When I found her in bed this morning she was holding a part of the cover from her storybook from just last night.  After a sound spanking I explained to her that she could no longer be trusted with her books and, therefore, would lose the privilege of having them in her room.

Problem.  She has an entire six-foot bookshelf devoted to every children's book we own (save the six that are in Emmett's room).  Clearing the shelves and re-locating that many books in a location not easily reached by toddler hands is quite the feat.  And I knew only clearing the space within her grasp was not an option because our little girl is resourceful and I feared her risking her life just to gain access to one beloved book.


So, by this afternoon our bed was covered, and I mean covered, in hardbacks, paperbacks, board books and even volumes belonging to my mother when she was a young girl.  I've only just begun storing them out of sight from the little monster.

I have yet to determine how she'll earn them back, but I'll admit, the removing of the books had the unintended side effect of ensuring our daughter stayed in her bed after her nap - a goal we've been trying to achieve for months now.  With nothing on her shelves to pull out and sit with in the corner of her bed as she flips through the pages, there is little motivation for moving at all.  Kind of sad, but kind of refreshing.

Don't even bother reminding me that in the absence of written entertainment our child will soon be turning to the sunscreen, thermometer, lotion and wipes located on her changing table.  I just choose not to think about it.

17 October 2010

Of Building Vocabulary

The newest sign of growing up in our little toddler is her vastly improving speech which seems to be growing exponentially.  It seems just last week she was mostly just repeating what she heard.  And yet today, while Aunt Dayla visited, rather than saying "I wan hug" she ran to her aunt, arms wide open saying, "Give me a hug!".  Her "I you" has evolved to "I lull you" (still not quite "love" but at least we're no longer omitting the word altogether).  She responds to "Night night" with "Good night, Daddy!  Good night, Mommy!"

Every day I'm understanding her wants, desires and whines with just that much more clarity.  And that spitfire personality is also beginning to blare all the more.  We're going to have our hands full!

Oh, who am I kidding?  We already do.

In Emmett's world, Daddy held him by the hands today while he moved his feet forward, one by one, in a stepping motion - walking his way into his sister's room.  Of course, he has a long way to go before actually being able to support himself on those chubby little things, but he definitely seemed like such a big boy.

16 October 2010

Of Being Alone

Philip has been gone for most of the day being a boy and having a grand time with some good friends of his.  As he doesn't get much guy-time, I was happy to give him up for the day but wondered what I would do to fill the time - especially considering he took my laptop and, thus, my primary source of entertainment, with him.

His sister did a wonderful job filling the void by keeping me company and giving me a little bit of my own girl time, especially while the kids napped and we enjoyed a chick flick (and, later, some pizza while watching "Rella" - known to those with a wider vocabulary as Cinderella - with a certain little girl).  After she left, though, I just knew I'd be bored.

Turns out, after letting the little ones get some fresh air in the backyard, bathing the potty trainer who pooed all over herself and someone else's child this morning in the nursery, reading said toddler a bedtime story before tucking her in, preparing food for tomorrow's Sunday School function, baking myself a wonderful Molten Lava Cake (the second half of which will soon also be devoured), and feeding the current man of the house while watching yet another chick flick, I find I've spent all the energy stored up in last night's five hours of sleep and I'm quite ready for bed.

Thus, as soon as the credits of the aforementioned film begin rolling this wild party animal is going to bed.

I seem to remember alone time being so much more . . . relaxing before I was sharing it with two small children.  Relaxing, I suppose, but somehow much less fulfilling.

15 October 2010

Of Understanding God

While doing the dishes this afternoon, I put on a little mood music for Micaiah and I to move our hips to (because dang that girl is cute when she gets those legs going).  Toby Mac's Portable Sounds was my album of choice.  And by the second track the wheels in my head were turning.  Never before have I been hit by thoughts so profound to my tiny mind that I literally had to stop what I was doing just to process through it all.  As I stood, with the open dishwasher next to me, a sink of dirty kitchenware at my back, I simply stared in awe at my precious daughter who was making like a busy bee, alternating between dancing and doing her own dishes at her little wooden kitchen, feeling just a smidgen of what God must feel watching His children.

The thought that so captured my mind was brought upon by the lyrics, "I was made to love and be loved by You."  These words took me to Chapter 4 of David Platt's Radical, which we had discussed only the night before in Bible Study; it ponders the why of our existence on Earth.  As a Christian, I had heard many times before that we were created to glorify God.  And I would be lying if I said the thought didn't cross my time EVERY time I heard that, and even more so in the detailed description given by Platt, that such a reasoning paints God in such an arrogant light.

That He would create an entire world of people - over 6 billion of us at this point - just to worship Him.

To my human mind, I cannot fathom someone who would do that and not be considered full of himself.  And every time I have to remind myself that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are on such a higher plane than my own and I will most likely never understand.

But today I understood.

While looking at that wonderful little dancer, I asked myself, why did I have children? 

I know what we all say what we want for our children - for them to grow up, to be happy, successful (hopefully on God's terms and not the world's), and to impact the world around them.  But that's not why I chose to have children.  I suppose there was the small part of me that just thought that's what we do.  We were made to multiply.  But there is much more of me, that nurturing, motherly part that wanted a little one to love.  I just wanted to hold a baby in my arms, look at her with all the love in my heart and know, without a doubt, that she loved me, too.  It wasn't a need, per se, but it was a strong desire.

God, too, had that desire.  He, of course, is lacking in nothing and does not need our love - but, oh, how it pleases His heart.  We were created in His image to be loved by Him and also to love Him back.  Which is why He has never given up on the human race altogether - even if it just meant only sparing Noah.  It wasn't arrogance, it was love.

Because any parent will tell you that no matter how frustrating that little one can get - no matter the aggravation we experience or the deliberate disobedience we must punish - when those tiny arms wrap around you and you hear the little voice say, "I love you" in words which are barely comprehensible, your heart melts and you know you would put up with anything just for moments like those.

And so God does - because He loves it when we tell Him we love Him and when we glorify His holy name.

On a further note, we were all separated at birth from our Heavenly Father and every time one is "born again" and recognizes their "birth Father" there is a party up in Heaven.  And, thus, it is our job, as His children, to bring others back to the very one Who created them so they, too, can enter into that loving relationship.  We should yearn to see others proclaiming the Name of their Father in love.

We were made to love and be loved by Him.

14 October 2010

Of Bedtime Stories

From her first night out of the hospital Micaiah has had a bedtime story and a prayer nearly every night before being tucked in (some nights she's a little too cranky or we're a little too tired and we skip straight to the prayer, but those nights are rare, indeed - especially now that she's old enough to demand, "I want sto-wy!").  Her first story was "In a People House." 

I had so looked forward to mommy-hood for bedtime stories alone.  So much so that for our first year of marriage Philip very kindly endured my reading to him most nights before turning in.  Granted, I allowed his selections to be of a more grown-up nature - featuring John Steinbeck among others, but there were also times I turned to selected novels from when I was younger - such as my absolute favorite: Rimwalkers.

Since the time Emmett was born he has mostly piggy-backed on his big sister's story time.  Sharing my lap with a wily two-year-old isn't always easy, though, so many nights he waits in the living room, allowing his elder sibling to run in for a good night kiss after her story.  Then, after his bedtime snack, we snuggle in on the futon in his room for the latest installment of this book:
Pirates - a volume his sister has never read or seen - a book saved just for my little manly man.  Who wants to hear about Fancy Nancy when he can learn of perilous life on the high seas?  So far he loves it (well, I mean, he smiles at anything so it's hard to differentiate, so I'm transferring my own feelings to him).

Special times with my son: priceless.

13 October 2010

Of Waiting

Philip and I were asking ourselves the question the other day: "Why did we decide to potty train?"

Yes, in our minds, there was this pretty picture of no more stinky toddler diapers and only having to change one set of drawers before we headed out the door.  But I'm pretty sure that's all we focused on.

What we didn't consider was the worry every time we go out of whether or not there would be an accident.  How many extra outfits do we need?  Road trips?!  Can a toddler actually hold it until the next exit?  How will we ever go anywhere for an extended period of time again? 

In retrospect, maybe we should have waited. 

She could have figured this toilet thing out by the time she was thirty, right?

Just a Side Note

This is not today's official post about the goings-on of my life - that will come later.  But for now, I wanted to alert everyone to a new blog I've started devoted solely to listing my favorite deals I find both in stores and on-line.  If saving money is your thing, you'll want to check it out.  My list is by no means exhaustive or original, but if you're new to the idea of using the internet to save money, you'll want to see the different ways I do just that!

I know not everyone gets excited about my buying Toy Story on DVD for $7, but I know some people want to know how they can get deals like that, too.  Thus, rather than bore half my audience, I'll simply direct those interested to check out sensiblesteward.blogspot.com, which is devoted to all deals, all the time.

Until later . . .

12 October 2010

Of Growing Too Fast

Today was filled with those moments.  Those moments when I say to myself, "You're not old enough for this!"

- Emmett rolled over back-to-front.  He hasn't even rolled front-to-back again since that first day.  And yet, I laid him down for his nap on his back (like a good, culturally-brainwashed mommy) and when I checked on his monitor about 15 minutes later, he was snoozing soundly on his tummy.  When did he get old enough to roll both ways?!

- Micaiah has begun to use her potty training to her advantage.  Mommy's not paying enough attention?  "I want potty." (Because, you know, then Mommy has to sit there with her.)  I don't want to finish my lunch? "I want potty." (Because then she's allowed out of her seat rather than forced to finish her sandwich that moment - or rather, that worked the first time, not so much since then.) When did she get old enough to figure out how to manipulate Mommy?!

- When Micaiah woke from her nap and I asked her to potty, she refused.  Upon being asked, "Why don't you want to potty?," she very clearly, with face pointed downward, rolled her eyes and sighed, "Because . . . no want potty." - in a very distinctly teenager "why do I have to explain myself to you?" voice (also, this was her first time using the word "Because" - I'm so glad it was used in context).  I'll admit - this was also one of those cover-my-mouth-with-my-fist-so-she-doesn't-see-the-laugh moments.  When did she get old enough for this kind of attitude?!

My kids are growing way too fast. 

11 October 2010

Of Shrimp, Shopping and Shakes

It may have been a day late, but I just got back from a wonderfully spontaneous fake-engagement-day celebration with my handsome hubby (I used to hate that word but somehow it's grown on me).  Said celebration included two rounds of Endless Shrimp at Red Lobster (using a $10 coupon - of course - I can't remember the last time we paid full price for a date) wherein I felt like one of those sickeningly cute couples that sits on the same side of the booth - only we didn't.  But we did share our endless shrimp so we could see what we liked best before ordering more rounds.  The consensus, after agreeing that all (except for the Coconut Shrimp - I just can't handle a seafood that tastes like a dessert - that's just wrong) were quite scrumptious, was that the new Parmesan Shrimp Scampi was, hands-down, the winner.  Yum.

After dinner we headed to Gap.  I had purchased a Groupon a couple of months ago which allowed me to pay $25 for a $50 voucher to Gap.  Score.  I've used it as my motivation to lose that baby weight.  I actually had two benchmarks for my weight and spending my Groupon was my reward for hitting the first one.  I've been saving it for just the right sale and today's 40% off everything in the store screamed "Just the Right Sale" to me.  Thus, new pair of jeans two sizes smaller than what I wore right after Emmett was born?  Check.

The best part of shopping, though, was having my husband right there with me.  Knowing we were in a time crunch (we got there 45 min before it closed), he willingly followed orders ("Can you grab that one in my size?"), allowed me to use him as a human clothing rack until we got to the fitting room and acted as my personal dressing room attendant, preparing piles of "Yes" and "No,"  neatly folded from my discards - also offering his own opinion, of course, which was more than the typical male response of "Eh."  He was, in essence, the best shopping partner.  I love him.

And we topped it all off with Double Chocolate Fudge milkshakes from Steak n' Shake on the way home (don't waste your time explaining to me that this won't help me stay in my new jeans for very long - just let me live in the bliss of the moment).


That's what I call a date.

PS All of the above would not have been possible without our wonderful last-minute baby-sitter - Philip's sister Dayla.  Her love for our kids and willingness to work for free (even though we really wish we could pay her) are what make us eternally grateful to have her close by (well, that and we kind of like hanging out with her, too).

10 October 2010

Of Engagements

At the beginning of my senior year of college, the three girls with whom I resided and a fifth semi-apartment-mate all gathered together to bet on when we would each earn a rather important ring on a rather significant finger.  The cause for such an activity was because it was a given that three out of the five of us would, in fact, be planning weddings that school year.  Whereas my roommate, Jenny, and I remained blissfully single - we offered a true challenge to the game.

I would like to confess here that on that very night I knew in my heart I would, sooner, rather than later, be married to the precise man who is currently my wonderful husband.  But as he and I had not become an item, nor had we even begun to "hang out" on a regular basis, I feared setting my engagement day too soon and, thus, raising suspicion in the others (and, truthfully, so as not to get my heart set on anything too prematurely).  Thus, I chose a date far into the future (well, you know, five years seemed far at the time). 


It sounded like a good enough day to me.  The others felt sorry about my presumed pessimism about my romantic future, but I smiled to myself knowing my ring would come much sooner than anyone expected.

Fast forward five years and here I am.  Four (and a third) years into a marriage with a man a thousand times more amazing than I tend to give him credit for - better than I deserve by far.  We have two lovely children who have stolen our hearts.  We are daily growing more in love with each other, with our kids, and, most importantly, with our God.

I'm glad he didn't wait to put that ring on my finger.

Now, I'm not going to say that spending the day of my predicted engagement staying home from church sick, dealing with a diarrhetic potty trainer (seriously - could there BE a worse combination?!) who ended the day by vomiting various times throughout the house (by the way, did you know how difficult it is to remove regurgitated kool-aid from a white-ish carpet?) and doing about four loads of laundry - all of which had at some point been coated with some sort of bodily discharge - was really my ideal celebration. 

But the mile-long walk to support some friends - which gave my man and I a good time to talk and re-charge (with NO potty accidents from a certain little one!) - followed by authentic roadside tacos with carne asada went a long way in allowing me to declare that while I did not receive any fancy fingerware on this day, it was, in fact, a good day in the life of me. 

Here's to 10-10-10.

09 October 2010

Of Feeling Forgotten

I try to lie to myself.  I tell myself I am not one of those bloggers who quantifies her life by the rising amount of subscribers or the amount of written responses.  I tell myself it doesn't matter what people think because I'm writing this for myself - my audience is merely a mass accountability partner which motivates me to hold to my agenda of daily documentation of the small things.  I tell myself that.  But I lie.

I realize it's a lie when I do a quick glance at the number of subscribers each day as I log in.  I note, with a tinge of sadness in my mental commentary, the number has remained stagnant for a good number of weeks now. 

I realize it's a lie when I hope all day to receive just one comment on something I have written.  And when my heart does a little jump at seeing that someone has read the words I've typed and cared enough to respond (and not to offend either person or to say I don't appreciate their commentary because I so do, but somehow it means a little more when it comes from someone other than the women who gave birth to either myself or my husband - when it comes from someone to whom my daily ramblings shouldn't matter - but they somehow do).

And I kind of hate that.

I hate that I have yet to rise above needing to hear the responses of others to my personal digest of often insignificant thoughts and events.


And that's not even what I've come here to write.  I came here to talk about Emmett - the little man who is so often ignored in our bustling household only because he has yet to do much bustling of his own.  And I suppose that even this post - which was to be dedicated to the desire to devote as much time to him in this stage of his life as I was able to devote to his lovely older sister - has somehow become a metaphor for his entire life thus far.  Completely overwritten by the selfish needs of someone else.

Oh, I love that little man and I do hope someday he will forgive me for those days when it just doesn't seem that I care.  Because even though he won't remember days like today when we've committed so much time to teaching his sister to use the potty that we've barely noticed him at all, I know this won't be the last time he'll feel forgotten.  And I pray that even on days like today he'll always know that I love him more than my own breath - and more than any readers or any comments.

I love the smell of his hair and the feel of that cockatoo sprig as it brushes my chin when he rests his cheek on my chest.  I love that wonderful smile he is so ready to give whenever I spare just a moment to look his direction - so forgiving, so happy just be seen.  I love the tiny rolls in his chubby little thighs and how wide his eyes get when you talk to him about things he can't understand (which, of course, at this point, is just about everything) and then, after widening those baby blues/browns/grays (we've yet to decide), he breaks out the sweetest giggle.  I love how he coos for hours after his sister has gone to bed - for even now he recognizes this small window of opportunity, when she is resting, as the time to be heard.

I love him with every fiber I possess and wish with all my heart I had all the time to give him that I was able to give his sister.  And I love him because even at three and a half months he seems to understand. 

08 October 2010

Of Being PT

Once upon a time - about third grade or so - there was a hilarious joke circulating through our elementary school wherein the jokester would ask the jokee, "Are you PT?"  Much like the infamous running refrigerator there was no right answer.  "No?  You're not Potty Trained?!" or "Yes?  You're a Pregnant Teacher?!" (oh the creativity of the elementary mind).  Trust me, if you were in third grade, you'd be cracking up right now.

Now having fulfilled both criteria of being PT, however, the joke has lost a bit of its luster. 

Meanwhile my precious toddler had, until lately been just fine with not being PT in any form of the phrase.  Frankly, she'd probably still be fine with it, but we've decided to move her into the realm of the Trained.

Unfortunately, as nearly everyone knows, a toddler may not be moved into potty training by mere will.  But peanut M&M's and peanut butter creme-filled sandwich cookies can go a long way in the convincing process.

Thus, by the end of today (Take Two of Potty Training Day One - Take One having taken place in March), our little one has successfully used the potty three times.  Still a long way to go, but the process is moving along and we're glad for that - if not tired of spending quality time at our daughter's feet while she squats on the toilet and we attempt to persuade her to just do something, all the while singing countless renditions of the "ABC"'s and reading through the circa-1970's wonder "Teach Me About Potty Training" purchased at the library book sale two years ago.

Definitely looking forward to the end of the journey, but recognizing there is much road before us, we press on.

07 October 2010

Sometimes . . .

. . . when I don't understand what Micaiah is asking permission to do, I say yes just to see what happens.

. . . when Micaiah is in the other room and I hear the kind of quiet that can only mean she's doing something she shouldn't, I just close my eyes and leave her alone - because at least she's quiet, and if I don't know what she's doing I can't be mad.

. . . I put Micaiah's "artwork" in the recycling box.

. . . I leave Emmett unattended on the couch in precarious positions - but only for a moment.

. . . I let Micaiah lightly smack Emmett - because he doesn't mind and she thinks she's burping him.

. . . I'll read aloud the book I'm reading about potty training because she just wants to hear me reading and doesn't much care that there aren't pictures.

. . . I turn on Netflix just to watch her yell, "Swiper, no swiping!" along with Dora and Boots.

. . . I let Emmett stay in his crib, playing with his "breathable bumpers" just because it's so darn cute to watch on the monitor.

. . . I have to run two loads in the dishwasher within one day to make up for all the dishes I didn't wash the previous days.

. . . I only fold half a load of laundry and then stow the still-half-filled basket of unfolded clothing in the laundry room until guests leave.

Sometimes all of the above happens in one single day.

06 October 2010

Of My Helping Hand

You know your husband dressed the kids when:

- One of them has a large poo stain (set in, not fresh - Dad has some standards!) on the back of his shirt.  And he wears it anyway.
- Another one has her belly hanging out of her now-too-small 2T shirt.  And she wears it anyway.

You know you don't care about any of the above when:

- You're rushing to get dinner out of the microwave (don't judge me) and get all your things together to get out the door.
- All of the above happens and yet, all four of you make it out the door in time to visit a friend and her new baby and are still on time for church. 

I love having a helpful Daddy for my kids - even if things don't always turn out the way I'd pictured.

DISCLAIMER: Both of the above outfits were, actually, chosen by a hurried me - I just blame the lack of quality control on the manual laborer who actually stuffed the children into said clothing.

05 October 2010

Of Divas

My daughter is a brat.

I just had to get that out there.  I love her, don't get me wrong, but she can be such a punk.  Take, for example, her treatment of her loving Aunt Dayla.  When Aunt "Dee-ya" has been here and leaves while Micaiah is sleeping (just a theoretical), Micaiah will wake from her nap, come running out of her room with glee on her face shouting, "Dee-ya!" and then, upon not finding her, will ask sadly, "Where Dee-ya?  I wan Dee-ya."  So sweet, says you?  You're right, that is sweet.

What's NOT sweet is what happens when Aunt Dee-ya actually comes over for her next visit:

Dayla: "Hey, Micaiah!" (arms open wide for a hug)
Micaiah: NO!!! (runs away angrily)
Me: "Go show Aunt Dayla your fun socks!"
Micaiah: "No!  No Dee-ya socks!"

And, thus, Aunt Dayla is treated whenever in Micaiah's presence.  All I can say is excuse my daughter's apparent bi-polar nature.

Now, don't you try to defend my little diva.  You may say she's just upset that Aunt Dayla left while she wasn't looking.  But you would be wrong.  This is how Micaiah acts EVERY time - not just sometimes - EVERY time.  Poor Aunt Dayla has to earn her niece's affection all over again with every visit.

And she's not the only one. 

My daughter, who will say "Hi" to any stranger she meets in the grocery store will run away and hide from a friendly face at church that greets her first.  She, apparently, does not like being approached - she must first approach you. 

So, what we're learning here is: bi-polar and high-maintenance.

It's a good thing she's cute.

04 October 2010

Of Free Time

My poor hubby was sick today.  Not completely helpless, vomiting sick, thank goodness, but sore-and-uncomfortable-enough-to-not-be-able-to-focus-adequately-on-work sick - thus he called in and was blessed to sleep in until 11.  Jealousy is being tempered for the moment.

Thus, as there was an adult present to rescue our children from peril should the need arise during their nap-time, I was free.  Free to run around town and get some shopping trips taken care of without children.  That, my friends, is a dream afternoon for a young mom of two.  I found myself being the one letting others go ahead at the checkout line, one after the other - more time at the store means more alone time for me.  Is that sad?  I didn't think so until I saw it written down.

This is what my life has come to.

And, yet, I love it.

03 October 2010

Of Playing Favorites

There were many times in my past when I could not understand the concept of a parent not having a favorite child.  I know people.  And I know people I like better than other people.  It's natural.  I've been a teacher in multiple settings.  I have had students I favored over others.  I can't help it (and, no, I won't tell you if you were one of them); it's natural.

Thus, I feared, while pregnant with my second child, that I would fall prey to a smidge of favoritism.  And while I almost hate to admit it, I certainly would have guessed Micaiah would have a leg up on the competition.  While I was looking forward to meeting the little one in my womb, I knew Miss Micaiah was a tough act to follow and, let's face it, she had nearly two years on the kid - 21 months, really, to burrow her little self into our hearts.  And she'd done a great job.  She's an amazing little girl!

I was worried.

And then I met Emmett.  And my heart melted before me. 

I had absolutely no idea that after pouring out so much love for my first child I would be able to muster up the exact same amount for my second.  He is precious and a little heart-breaker already.

There are still days when a do a quick self-check.  I'm not picking a favorite am I?

And then I ponder. 

Micaiah has her rough days.  The days when a swat seems to mean nothing and there's just nothing Mommy can do to cause this little rebel to follow orders.  Days when I want to pull out my own hair.  When calling to mind those days I might think I maybe prefer the little man who does little more than sleep, grin and giggle - always gazing with complete trust and admiration.  He is pretty stiff competition for the little firecracker. 

And then Micaiah has days, or even just moments in the rough days, where she comes to me from nowhere, head pointed up, lips puckered, waiting for a kiss, or she'll crawl up next to me on the couch and lay her sweet head on my shoulder.  And when she randomly runs up and hugs my leg?  Be still my heart.  Compare that to nights when Emmett keeps me awake from 3:30am to 5am.  Mornings, really, when I feel I need sleep more than anything.  At least his sister knows her momma needs her rest.

I could list "pros" or "cons" all day (ok, mostly "pros" all day - my children are pretty close to perfection when it comes to pleasing my heart), but the facts wouldn't change.  There is no winner.  Only a parent of more than one child could understand the entire equality of my affection for both of my children.

They have their ups, they have their downs, but above all they have my love.  Utterly and completely. 

02 October 2010

Of Copycats

Micaiah is at that age.  The dangerous age when she enjoys pretending to be grown-up and in so doing repeats almost anything she sees.

A few nights ago, when she witnessed a friend receiving discipline she realized the teddy bear in her arms also needed a talking to and a little bit of a whoopin.'

Tonight, after I asked Philip to bring a chair into her room, I watched her march her little two-year-old self right over to the bedroom door, lean out like Mommy had done and yell, "Pill-up, eh gi bou [it's a rough transcript] chair!  Tankoo!"  (At least I tacked the "thank you" on the end, right?) - at which point we had to explain that, to her, he's "Daddy."

Not that I haven't been monitoring myself already, but I'm more closely learning the necessity to carve the knots out of my speech and actions that would hinder her development into a beautiful image of God rather than an ugly image of man.

"Help me, Lord."

01 October 2010

Of This Perfect Day

It's rare that I would ever designate a day as perfect - but I'm not sure there are many that could top the simplistic goodness of this particular October 1st.

I'm sure the fact that Emmett slept completely through the night for the first time ever (we're talking 9pm-8:30am) had a good bit to do with it.  The first night of more than 6 hours of consecutive sleep in three and a half months will do wonders for one's attitude.  Thus, I woke up at 7:45ish this morning to the sound of my adorable daughter, both of us refreshed and ready for a new day.

While she ate breakfast, I checked in with the WiiFit - my end-of-the-week ritual.  Down another 1.3lbs from last week (and that includes the stress-brownies I baked on Wednesday!) and only 4.2 pounds from hearing the tiny electronic voice pronounce, "That's normal!" for the first time ever (as opposed to the typical overweight or obese diagnoses).

After a nice morning meal for everyone, we all suited up for the day - Emmett donned the "Little Pumpkin" onesie that once belonged to his sister.  The season of being able to wear adorable jack-o-lanterns on one's front is a short one indeed, so we've got to hit the ground running with this one piece of October holiday wear in his closet.  And, thus appropriately attired, we headed to the grocery store.

Once upon a time we regularly ordered groceries from Angel Food Ministries, from whence came all of our meat supply.  A few months ago, however, I began to realize that with my affinity for coupon deals really taking over our grocery budget, I could use the same amount of money to get more food, food I get to pick myself.  However, I had so been in the habit of not buying meat, it's been hard to get back in the swing of things.  Today, however, I used the rather minuscule budget left for this week almost entirely on beef and chicken meaning we'll be able to move past meals of pasta, tuna casserole, eggs and lasagna for the first time in quite awhile.

Thus, unpackaging said meat and preparing it for freezing felt really good.  Especially being able to do so while my daughter quietly unloaded her groceries behind me on the kitchen floor (read: she sat with her basket of plastic food and deposited it all over the tile - but at least she picked it up later, right?) and my son napped for a half hour in his carseat.  The two of them also gave me time to get some dishes done.

The afternoon was spent doing puzzles with Micaiah and then watching "Finding Nemo" - during which she pleaded alongside Dory when Marlin decided to leave her behind.  Micaiah pointed earnestly at the clown fish and said, "Pees!  No go!"  Too cute for words, honestly.

After naps, Bible Study, laundry and a little bit of hulu, Philip arrived home and following a dinner of California Pizza Kitchen (yay for pizza Fridays and yay for coupons for pricey frozen pizza), we headed into the backyard to play with some new toys we recently ordered from kids.woot.com.

Finally, after a couple rounds of hide-and-seek (Micaiah is not so awesome at hiding - her "I wan Daddy!" tends to give away her location every time), a bedtime story, prayers and kisses, one little girl went to bed and after a bedtime snack, her little brother did the same.

Now, here we are, having finished watching our Friday night movie, relaxing.

Because that's what a good Friday is made of.