29 September 2011

Of Taking Steps

Over the past couple of days, the burden of the tiny being growing inside of me has begun to take its toll on my body.  Already simple tasks are becoming more difficult.  Bending compresses the little one inside and I feel it immensely - so I already (at slightly past halfway to the goal) have begun to avoid this motion to the best of my ability.

This shift has led to a sudden urge for my baby boy to learn to walk - finally.  I lament over the fact that by this point in his sister's life she had just begun to run from room to room, while he has yet to take his first timid step on his own.  I am not sure how much longer this bulging belly will allow me to bear the weight of a toddler-sized child in addition to a growing fetus.

Thus, walking practice has begun in earnest in our home.  And Emmett actually seems to be enjoying it.  He takes pride in hiding his tiny hands in ours and boldly, yet confidently, taking one stiff-legged step after another. He may not be able to even hold his own weight on his two legs, yet, but at least he's showing interest in upward motion.

It's all about the baby steps.  Literally.

28 September 2011

Of Emmett's Game

Every day when I change Emmett's diaper, he has a favorite game he plays.

Each morning, I will remove his pajama bottoms and drape them from the bar on the end of his changing table* until I need them again.

And each morning, Emmett watches carefully for me to release his clothing on the table, at which point his little monkey feet grasp the pants to pull them up to his hands where he happily pitches them over the side, either into his crib on his left or on top of the trash can to his right, wherever Mom is doing a worse job of goaltending.

The first couple of times he did this, I thought it might be an accident - as though he felt something at his feet, wanted to see what it was and then thought it wasn't very interesting, so he tossed it aside.  And this may have been how it started, but now it is definitely deliberate.  And he will monkey anything on the end of that table into his little grubby hands - a burp cloth, the clean diaper that is waiting for his tushy, his shirt for the day - whatever.  And each item gets tossed happily out of Mommy's easy reach.

Despite the number of times he has been swatted for this very same behavior, he seems to find even more delight in our game each day.  In fact, this afternoon, before nap time, as his tiny feet grasped for his jeans, there was a devilish little grin on his face and a very mischievous chuckle.

Yes, he definitely enjoys his antics.  At least he's amusing someone.

PS I have, actually tried, holding the clothing tight under my arm while I work on the diaper, at which point he tries with all his might to tug them out with his hands.  No one ever said this boy wasn't determined.

*For those visual folks who need help forming a mental picture, this is what his changing table looks like, including the fun little bar at the end from whence his clothing hangs, which is the source of all my son's amusement.

27 September 2011

Of Morning Troubles

Look at me, blogging so blasted early in the morning.  Those of you (as in, most of you) who read my blog haven't even read last night's entry, and here I am throwing another one at you, typing at a time that only I would consider unnaturally early (as in this is just about the time I'm usually rolling over, looking at the video monitor, wishing silently I won't see any children moving and then telling myself they'll be okay for another couple of minutes because I still need that extra five minutes [at least] for my brain to open up and decide to really get out of bed).

Yes, I'm lazy.  I know this.  Get over it.

This morning, however, I was wrenched awake by a sound through that very monitor of a gag followed by a choke.  I was almost sure it was Emmett and continued listening for further sounds (such as the small coughing that followed) to indicate he was okay - I had almost satisfied myself through sound alone that it was just saliva when the good parent in me decided I should actually look at the monitor to be sure my babies did not need my assistance.

The screen flashed to a view of Micaiah's room just in time for me to see her place her tiny ear against her bedroom door, listening for any signs of life to indicate she could effectively knock on her door and receive a response (her favorite method of getting out of her room lately).  Then, after a brief flash over to the non-movement in brother's room, where he was sleeping serenely, I saw her once again, wander back to her bed and simply stand there, staring, as though she was not sure what to do with it.

Uh oh, I thought, it must have been her I heard and there must be a mess to clean up.  Yippee.

Pulling all my pre-8am gumption (as in none), I hurried to her room, where she introduced me to the puddle, yes puddle, of urine on her bed.

Now, let's remember, my brain is not functioning properly yet (it hadn't had it's five minutes to open up) and my eyelids are still at half-mast.  I slowly begin to process through this.  She was wearing a diaper.  And, yet, she has a puddle.  What kind of diapers does she have?  Were they really so low quality she soaked through an entire puddle?  Wait, no, they were Huggies.  We like Huggies.  So, how . . .?

And then she lifted her nightgown, without my even asking, and I saw underwear.  And the mental processing continued.  Oh no, Philip forgot to put her in a diaper last night, this would be where the puddle came from.  No, wait, those are not the same underwear she was wearing yesterday.  And they're inside out . . .

And just as I realized that, she answered my unasked question, "I break my diaper and I put on underwear."  At which point she pointed to her right and, sure enough, laying in front of her door was a half-torn diaper just laying there (or, what I mean to say is, it was in some dark corner I would never have seen because there is no way her room is cluttered enough that I would not notice a half-open diaper laying right in front of the door).  And all the pieces started to come together.  Yet my brain was still not comprehending.

Because something about it being not 8am made me think that I had to understand my daughter's mental processes before we could move on.  So what followed was a series of questions like, "Why did you take off your diaper?" to which I received three-year-old responses like, "Because, I take it off and it over there."

More confusion, furrowed brow, "But why did you take it off?"

"Um, because I break it and take it off."

Clearly we were getting nowhere.  Someday I'll understand three-year-old logic.

For now I have to settle with repeating myself over and over.  "We only put on underwear if we're going to use the potty when we need to - not if we're going to potty in our beds."

"Ok.  Is it breakfast time?"


26 September 2011

Of Anticipation

I don't know if it was a result of posting about my baby struggles or not, but this morning I woke up and realized it was the first time this entire pregnancy I was actually looking forward to the arrival of Baby Penguin. Not to say it was the first time I was happy about our third little blessing, but the first time I remember feeling anticipatory.  As though I couldn't wait for February to come and for little one to make his or her entrance into the world.

I'm looking forward to the contractions - yes, I like contractions (and if you dare to remind me of this statement as I am in the throes of labor, you will be risking your own life - be warned).  I like the feeling that my body is doing exactly what it should and that it can handle this process.  And I almost can't wait for the day.  Woohoo!

Of course, I know the dangers of wishing away time, so I will not do so.  I know there are many wonderful memories to be made among the four of us while we wait for the newest member of our budding family and I do not wish those moments to hurry.  But neither am I wishing time would slow down too much.

Hi, there, Little One kicking my belly, I'm your Mommy and I can't wait to meet you!

25 September 2011

Of Struggling

I have been putting off writing this post for some time now because I recognize there are many out there (both those non-Christian and also many Christians, including those I know and respect) who may not agree with me.  And as previously discussed, rocking the boat scares me.  But as this blog serves as a journal-of-sorts for me, I feel it important to share a recent struggle I had with God.

About a month or two ago, I stood in church, attempting to offer worship through song - a particularly favorite method of mine - but finding myself unable to truly connect with the words.  If I was entirely honest with myself, I had felt this way for a number of weeks.  It was as though I no longer believed the words and my faith was slipping overall.  And I did not know why.

Longing to find the source for these feelings, I thought perhaps I could trace them back to when I first began in my unbelief.  I initially thought I would never be able to pinpoint an exact moment, but almost instantaneously, it popped into my head: the moment I found out I was pregnant.

And then I got scared.  How could I admit this to anyone without sounding like a horrible mother?  One was supposed to rejoice in pregnancy, especially considering I never wanted to stop with just two children - so a third should not have been so faith-shattering.  And, yet, for weeks I had been hiding behind a facade.  I wanted this child, definitely, but just not so soon after the previous one.  Having a positive pregnancy test the day after Emmett's first birthday would not be how I would have planned it.

This is where my faith comes in.  And herein lies the controversy.

When Micaiah was only three months old, we acted on something I had been feeling for a long time.  We stepped out of the realm of birth control and into the idea of completely trusting God to open and close my womb according to His will.  It was a little scary, to be honest, but my argument for birth control was always, "If God really wants us to have a baby, He can do it - birth control or not.  So, we're not really trying to stop Him."  And I realized, if that was how I truly felt, why was I taking a pill every day?  To give ourselves a warm fuzzy feeling of control?  Because control is definitely my idol.

Thus, we gave it up.  We gave up the control we tried so desperately to cling to and we handed over the responsibility of planning our family to the One we knew could truly be trusted to do it right.

I know this is not always a popular topic and I do not wish to open a can of worms.  I do not look down on others who have not made the same decision, because I truly do feel as though it is a personal conviction.  Like I said, control is kind of an issue of mine, so I really felt God was calling me to give it up.  But it may not be your issue and it may not be your calling.  That's not between me and you, that's between us and God.  It is truly my desire that none read this blog as my saying I know the one right way of planning families - because that would just not be true.

But as I said, this is the path we have chosen.  And I truly trusted that God would honor that.  What I did not realize was that my belief that "God would honor our decision" was my telling myself that He would continue to give us children on our preferred timetable.  I did not (and do not) want 18 children (or even close).  I did not (and do not) want to be pregnant for the rest of my child-bearing years.  And I told myself that God knows that and, thus, He would follow my plans - as a reward for trusting Him.

Funny how that's not how He works.

Thus, that positive pregnancy test scared me.  Not because I did not (or do not) want this particular baby, but because of what I felt it represented for our future.  This baby was coming earlier than I wanted.  And if this pattern were to continue, we'd have a dozen kids before we knew it.  What was going on?  What was God doing?  I had trusted Him.  And now I was not so sure that was the wise thing to do.  Could He really be trusted?

And this was where everything I thought I knew about God began to crumble.

I feared what others would think - that we were being irresponsible or just plain stupid.  And it's true - the first question we received from almost everyone was, "Was this planned?"  Because it is a common belief in our culture that planning our families is what the responsible adult does.  Were we being irresponsible?

So there I was that Sunday morning a month into my knowledge that a baby was on its way, ready or not, crushed by the reality that I no longer trusted God, because it felt like He had failed me.  I was scared of Him and did not know if His plan was truly what I wanted.

And, yes, it's scary to be that honest with so many people (though I can probably rest assured that this post is too lengthy for the average reader and no one will have made it this far - whew! ;) ).

The amazing thing, though, is that like so many recovery programs tout, the first step to overcoming a problem is recognizing you have one.  And this was the place I found myself that Sunday morning - acknowledging my problem.  And simply being able to name my fear and proclaim it back, in full honesty, to God was a breath of relief in itself.

Over the next days and weeks, as I talked to my husband and read through Scripture, I began to fully understand what I had always been taught.  God's ways are not our ways.  Though this timeline is not what I would have planned, I know we will be blessed through this child and whatever else God chooses to give us along this path called life.  Giving control to God did not mean I should expect Him to work as I demanded - that was counter-intuitive.  Though I had physically given Him control, I had not done so mentally or emotionally.

And, yet, what has my control of my life ever produced other than bitterness, anger, rivalry, jealousy and, well, everything falling apart?  And what has a history of following God's leading produced?  Joy in unexpected outcomes, peace, friendship and love.

Why would I ever trust myself over Him?

Thus, here I am - still struggling occasionally, but definitely on the road to mending.

And this is what I know:

God is faithful.  God is forever.  His love never fails.  And I am grateful.

24 September 2011

Of Our Little Postal Carrier

One of Emmett's favorite activities is the daily checking of the mailbox with Daddy.  This used to be Micaiah's job, but after awhile, she seemed less interested while his excitement grew, so while she still gets to join them if she puts on her shoes, Emmett is there rain, snow or sleet (alright, the snow or sleet hasn't been an issue yet and we may have to hold him back when it is, but it won't be his choice, trust me).

When he hears the garage door opening, to signal the arrival of his Daddy for lunch, I can quickly hear the slapping of his pudgy hands on the floor as he races over to the door to greet his "Ba-ba!"  And as soon as he is in Daddy's arms, he points to the nearest door, demanding, "Ma!"

My favorite part, though, is when they return.  Emmett always has at least one piece of mail in his hand, which he promptly hands over to me.  Then, one by one, Daddy hands over the rest of the letters, catalogs and bills while Emmett passes them on to Mommy.  Mail delivery is truly his calling.

Yesterday, while cleaning the dining room table, I came across a letter that needed to go into the mailbox, so, with other cluttered papers from the table still in my grasp, I hurried out to the box to stick the envelope in.  Emmett watched and hurried to see what was going on.  He arrived to the glass door just in time to see me returning with papers (the ones from the house) still in my hand.  The world may as well have ended.  Did Mommy really just check the mail without her little mailman?!

I tried my best to explain that Daddy was still going to come home soon and he would still get to check it, but I don't think the concept is within the one-year-old capacity of understanding.  Poor thing.  I was a traitor.

Don't worry, when Ba-ba got home, the world was right again and my little man proudly handed over our weekly K-Mart ad.  Whew.  Disaster averted.

Who won't be making that mistake again?

23 September 2011

Of New Worlds

Philip and I went to our first Chinese buffet tonight.  This may not seem that exciting to you, but after years of us both agreeing we did not like Chinese food and being adamant about this fact to others, it was a huge step.

The door really started to creak open when Philip first began regularly attending a Thai restaurant with some co-workers about a year into our marriage.  Though the job and the lunches didn't last more than a summer, his new desire for Spicy Garlic Chicken did.

Thus, we began exploring frozen food kits that might scratch his new itch, but the idea of actually using our sparse "Dining Out" budget to venture into a restaurant of Asian descent was not high on our to-do list.  After four years, however, of grocery store Wanchai Ferry and my own varieties of stir fry, I decided it might be our time to cover new ground.  And so we did it.

I figured a buffet would be a good idea, since we're still new to the Chinese food market, but it did lead to some awkward moments for newbies to a restaurant where everyone is clearly a regular (Do we seat ourselves or wait?  Now that we have a table, do we jump right to the food line or wait?).  Many of our questions came with the whispered response, "Let's just see what the people at that table over there do."  Plate in hand, we both moved slowly down the line of heat lamps and serving platters, carefully reading the yellow tags above each item (which was kind of key at first, since everything on the first table was the same golden color of fried batter - I wasn't sure I'd even be able to tell what I was actually eating when I got back to the table).

We finally found our groove, though, and after ingesting one delectable bite after another, picking through one tiny portion after another and finding none I did not think divine, I finally had to admit to Philip, "I think we have to start telling people we like Chinese food.  In fact, if I were honest, I'd say I love it."

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?  I am a changed woman, indeed.

22 September 2011

Of His First Boo-Boo

Emmett's favorite place while I'm cooking dinner is always right there in the kitchen with me.  Sometimes he happily plays along in his sister's miniature kitchen, pulling out all his favorite toys and rifling through the cabinet, as he knows he's not allowed to do so in the real kitchen.  Sometimes, though, he throws caution to the wind and decides to push the boundaries.

This evening, as he was testing to see which cabinet doors could be pulled open without Mommy protesting, he found (for the first time) the area where I store all of our empty food jars that I hope someday I will actually use.  Realizing a) he was opening a cabinet door (which is off-limits in and of itself) and b) this particular cupboard was filled with breakable glass, I quickly reprimanded him and then moved on with dinner preparations.

Yet, it was only seven seconds later that I heard the unmistakable sound of glass hitting our tile floor.  Lovely.

As I whirled around, seeing our son surrounded by broken glass, I rushed over, yet not before he got a particularly large piece in his hand.  Panicking, I gingerly took the dangerous shard from him, inspected his hands for any sign of injury and, finding none, spanked his hand, scolded him and set him far away from the scene.  But being home alone and still having to pick up this mess before either child tried to investigate further, I made a quick mental checklist of how to clean up glass and did a mad dash to the pantry for a paper bag to hold the very sharp edges.

And it apparently took that twelve seconds for my son to crawl his little hiney back to the scene of the crime and pick up yet another offending piece of glass.  And this time he wasn't quite as lucky.  By the time I got to him (again) there were traces of blood on his knee (even his sister was concerned as she asked, "He hurt his leg?").  I whisked him off to the counter to do a close investigation to determine the source of the blood and traced it back to a small drop on the ring finger of his itty bitty left hand.

If you've never experienced it before, the sight of blood on your child almost makes you want to cry and definitely made me want to call my husband and demand he rush home to help me deal with this disaster.  And then I pulled myself together and realized I could handle cleaning up a tiny cut and also manage to remove the dangerous glass from the floor before further injury was incurred.  I just knew I could do it.

So, with the help of big sister, who stood calmly by her brother the whole time, whispering reassurances like, "It's okay, Emmett.  Your hand be okay" and delivering soft kisses to his cheek, I soaked up the blood (which seemed to be never-ending for such a minuscule infraction), dotted it with Neosporin and placed the tiniest band-aid I could find around his little finger.  Micaiah warned him gently, "Don't take off the band-aid; it make your finger better."

Then, while his little guardian watched over him in our bedroom, I quickly and effectively cleared the kitchen of all danger.

Disaster averted.  And I didn't even have to call Philip.


You'd think this was my first child.  This little Penguin has no idea what it's getting itself into.  It just better stay out of the cabinets, that's all I have to say.

20 September 2011

Of Babies and Bellies

We learned today the reason my husband won't be able to feel this baby moving anytime soon, and the reason all the kicks I've been receiving have been to my internal organs, is not due to an unnecessary excess of fat cells in my middle region, but rather because the placenta is forming a cushion between my child and the thin layer of skin separating my uterus from the outside world.

While better for my self-esteem, it does make me sad that think I will be the only the one enjoying the movements of this new life inside me (though I maintain hope that as this child grows, that placenta won't be able to stop it from showing itself off to the world just a little).

Speaking of my middle section, by the way, I think it important to note that there comes a point in the pregnancy (a point at which I definitely find myself these days) wherein it is no longer a compliment to say, "You're 20 weeks pregnant?!  You're not even showing!"

Please.  If this is how I look when I'm not pregnant, steal all the cookies and chips from my pantry this instant.

Just saying.

19 September 2011

Of Trying Again

An interesting development lately: while Micaiah, as the elder and, as a three-year-old (though new to the age, she has been acting beyond her years), has, to this point, been the greater discipline problem, Emmett has begun to emerge as a daily source of frustration in the art of effective discipline.  Our failings in giving the proper attention to his training thus far are beginning to show.

Our son does not seem to understand that "No means No, mister" or that toilets are not toys.  Lately, as I plop on the couch at the end of the day, breathing a sigh of relief that we made it, yet again, to bed-time, I find that most of my frustrations of the day actually came from keeping up with our little man than trying to keep his sister in line.

I mean, it's great that he's finally earning his own attention, but maybe we should have worked harder on positive reinforcement rather than inspiring the desire for negative feedback.

This parenting thing is just a constant cycle of fail/regroup/try again.  So here we go, trying again.

18 September 2011

Of Tiny Movements

I don't know if it was just the reality of seeing our little one on those flatscreen televisions at the ultrasound office, but it seems it was that very night I started feeling this penguin waddle around for real.  Of course, the movements are still small.  At first they were only felt when I had my belly compressed for some reason, either sleeping at night (I'm a belly sleeper, always - who kind of has to re-adjust as this particular belly gets larger) or just sitting with my knees up on the couch.

But I guess when you consider our baby now weighs 12oz, only slightly larger than a soup can, it's no wonder its presence is starting to be made known.

And I love it.

For one thing it seems to be the only person on this earth who appreciates my singing (though it could be because it is muffled to its tiny ears), as this afternoon, I sang a few bars of a familiar song and immediately felt a little kick when I stopped - I imagine that to mean, "Keep going!" rather than "Thanks for stopping, Mom" - it's my imagination, let it wander as it may.

And currently, I think he/she knows we're talking about it, because it is moving like crazy as I type.

The only downside: it seems, also, to have found my bladder.  Sigh.  I was hoping it would take a little longer for those tiny arms and legs to meet its favorite punching bag, but such is life as a pregnant mom.

17 September 2011

Of Talking to the Sun

Earlier this week, Emmett and I had a bad day.  His understanding of the word "no" has diminished quite rapidly lately.  Or, rather, his understanding remains the same, but his proclivity to respond appropriately has definitely dwindled.  Thus, by the time Daddy got home, Mommy needed to get away.

Having a few errands to run, anyway, as soon as dinner was over, I gathered my purse and my coupons (always a necessary task before heading out the door).  Noticing the signal of Mommy leaving, Micaiah asked what I was doing.  Her response, then, was, "I want to go to the store, too, Mommy!  I miss you!"

Well, how can a Mommy say no to that?  So it was that mother and daughter headed out on a little errand-running date.  I love having alone-time with my little girl.  Mainly I love not going to the store alone, but also not having to carry a baby.  A walking child is lovely.

As we headed to the car after our second stop, I noticed the moon was beginning to rise - always something exciting for Micaiah to see.  After I pointed it out, she gasped at its beauty and said, "I say sun we see moon."

"Ok," I said, "you tell the sun we see the moon."

"But where is the sun?"

Seeing then, that while the clouds beautifully displayed the remnant's of the day's glory, the sun, itself, had already settled in for the evening.  "Oh, well, it looks like the sun is already asleep," I told my little inquisitive one.

She addressed it anyway, "Sun, we already see the moon.  Good night, sun!"

She makes me smile.  A lot.

16 September 2011

Of Child Labor

The other day, I decided to ask for Micaiah's help in getting the house clean.  Though she initially wavered (she always does until the idea becomes her own), she eventually wandered into the kitchen, pulled her little red stool up next to me at the sink and watched intently as I washed.  Then she noticed something exciting in the sink: "Bubbles!"  Suddenly, housework took on a whole new thrill level.  She had to be involved!

On my next to last pan, she finally asked, "Can I wash that?"  I told her I had something special for her to wash: the cooling rack I'd used for her birthday cupcakes (that was not even really dirty - thus, relying on a three year old to get it "clean" was irrelevant).  I suppose I didn't have to worry about the thoroughness of her work.  She stood at the sink for a solid fifteen minutes, rubbing the washcloth (not the scrubby fabric I usually use because it was deemed "yucky") lightly over the rack, back and forth, over and over.  I asked every couple of minutes, "You done?"  "Not yet!"  And so she worked.

When she was finally finished, I rewarded her for a job well done.  I drained the sink, re-plugged it, turned on the warm water and poured in some soap.  A fresh sink filled with bubbles just for her.  I might have just given her the "one hundred thousand dollars" she thought she'd found in her birthday card the day before for the amount of joy on her face.  And so she played, standing on her red stool at the sink, blowing the bubbles from her hands and "washing" herself with the dishcloth.

I wish everyone was so easy to please.

I asked Philip if he thought anyone would fix our cars (which have recently decided to fall apart) in exchange for a sink-full of bubbles.  He doubted it.

15 September 2011

Of Her First Purchase

A few days ago, we received a toy catalog in the mail.  As our daughter highly enjoys all things book-like, she was eager to turn the pages, but after about a half hour of perusing, she itched to know what all those words said and begged me to read it to her.

Not really thrilled at the idea of reading toy descriptions, I recognized that to a three-year-old, words are words, and she just wanted to hear them.  The fact that the accompanying pictures were fun toys only made this better.  Thus, I dutifully read through the first couple of product descriptions with her in my lap taking in every word and pointing out the greater points of each individual toy.  And I do mean each individual toy - she would not permit me to skip one page (thought she was not the wiser when I began reading only the first sentence of each advertisement, rather than the full, detailed account).

What I loved, though, was how, although she was certainly fascinated by the toys presented, covetousness never really seemed an issue.  She wanted to hear about the toys, not necessarily own them all.

That was, of course, until she saw a photo of a girl drawing on her teddy bear.

"Look!  She draw on her bear.  That's not nice!"

"Well, actually, with that bear, it's okay.  Because, see, you just draw on it and then you can put it in the washing machine and it comes out all clean, so you can draw again."

I kid you not, the excitement in the room sky-rocketed.  Her eyes were on fire as she considered the possibility of a doll (one of her favorite things) she could color (one of her other favorite things).

"I want to draw bear!!!"

Remembering the "hundred thousand dollars"* she received for her birthday only days earlier, I made her a deal, we would talk to Daddy about spending some of her money on the bear.  And, so we did.  And he agreed.

For the next 24 hours, whenever she thought about her purple bear (the color she decided she would get), the bubbling excitement sounded something like this:
"I get bear.  And I use my money and I draw and then I machine!"  (I'm not sure what she thought "machine" meant, but she was pretty excited about it.)

Thus, last night, after watching Baby Penguin on the TV, we headed on over to Toys R' Us and found this on their shelves:
And now Micaiah is the proud owner of her very own Doodle Bear - purchased with her very own money.  I'm really not sure if I was more excited than she was because this was our daughter's first independent purchase - in that she had money and she had a goal, set all by herself, without us pushing her to pick something or prompting her to spend a coupon.

She sure is growing up.  And a lot of times, it's pretty fun to watch.

P.S. As she pulled out the markers for the first time this morning, there was definitely a gleam in her eye - the thrill of feeling like she was doing something she shouldn't, but knowing it was allowed.  She even announced cautiously as she very slowly moved the colored tip toward the fabric, "I'm going to draw on my bear . . ." as if to say, "Last chance to stop me!" And with each swish of the marker and push of the stamp, she giggled, as though getting away with something.  She cracks me up.

*The aforementioned amount received for her birthday was the result of a little girl watching too much of The Chipmunk Adventure.  The real amount gifted to her was, in actuality, much, much less (and more reasonable).

14 September 2011

Of Surprises

We had our 20-week ultrasound today - which any seasoned parent will tell you is the much-anticipated gender revealer.  Let me just post the spoiler here and now - it's a Surprise!  That's right.  For now, no one but our ultrasound tech knows if this thing is coming out boy or girl.

She did, however, print out a (presumably) lovely photo depicting our little one's secret and sealed it in an envelope for us so we could decide later if we want to spoil the surprise or wait until Christmas morning - figuratively speaking.  In this case, Christmas morning would most likely be sometime during the first week of February.  I only use the analogy because it's the same one I used in convincing Philip it would be more fun to wait.

In the past, the ultrasound date itself has felt like Christmas morning - receiving the gift of the knowledge of what I am carrying inside me.  The anticipation was so great I cried the morning of Emmett's ultrasound when they had to re-schedule (though that was also because I had planned to hop on a plane that same afternoon and give my family the news in person - something we never get to do, and those hopes were dashed with that phone call - sad, sad day).  But with Baby #3, I honestly haven't felt the same way.  I think it's due mostly in part to the fact that I am truly ambivalent to whether this baby is male or female.  I am so happy with either option, the not knowing isn't really killing me.

Thus, I feel like finding out now would be like sneaking into Mommy and Daddy's closet to see what they bought me four months before I actually get to unwrap it and play: thrilling at the moment, but kind of disappointing when it's time to take off the bow (though this is where the analogy breaks down, because I can't really imagine being disappointed, ever, at the birth of a child, but maybe you know what I mean).

So, yes, for now, Baby Penguin has its own little secret and it's not telling - yet.

P.S. I also feel it's important to add because, in reality, it is much more important than the big, "What is it?!" - Baby Penguin is first, and foremost, healthy and whole.  Everything looked great and he/she is still on the right growth track.  Yay!

13 September 2011

Of Boys and Girls

When we first began the potty training adventure, I began the task of accruing an acceptable amount of cotton training pants so we would not have to rely solely on the disposable variety.  Thus, when I saw good quality training pants on clearance at our local Supercenter, I snatched them up.  The fact that they were mostly blue (with other primary colors) in nature was irrelevant to me.  Girls can wear blue, and, besides, soon enough (hopefully sooner than someone else waited) we'll have a potty training boy in this house and he won't be using the cute pink florals of his sister.

I thought she was so cute toddling about her in white/blue/orange/yellow/red striped undies.

But that was last time around.

Today, deciding to pull out the underwear again, rather than sticking to bare-bottom-ness, I reached for the closest pair: my favorite blue stripeys.  And I asked Micaiah, "Do you want to wear these ones?"

Her eyes widened and she whispered (for the first and only time this morning, despite my repeated commands to do so), "Those are boys!"

My first thought: "Who told you?!"

When did that little girl grow up?

11 September 2011

Of Emerging Personalities

I'd heard so many times before how different one child is from the next.  Clearly, I've seen it in my own family, just among my siblings and I.  Though we share similarities born from shared experiences and DNA, we are definitely distinct individuals.

I just don't think I realized how quickly we would see this in our own children.

While they both love to talk and (as a "consequence" are slow to develop physically) and to dance and both maintain mellow attitudes on a typical day, slight differences are beginning to emerge.

We've discussed before Emmett's love for playing ball.  These are his favorite toys and he will seek them out anywhere he goes.  When he's angry, we can toss a ball at him and all will be right in the world.  He can also throw amazingly well - he has one powerful pitching arm!  Meanwhile, Micaiah always seemed to lose the ball behind her in the wind-up and has still not improved her athletic skills by much.

Micaiah is a neat freak.  The idea of anything "yucky" just turns her off.  A thread on her bed, a crumb in her carseat, these are just not tolerated.  Emmett couldn't care less.  He crawls around eating the food he tossed on the floor previously in the day (or, I mean, how could he do that when I vacuumed it up immediately, of course?), he'll finish the food in his bowl and use it as a hat, sprinkling crumbs through his hair.  He doesn't care.

We definitely find ourselves saying more often these days, "Micaiah never did that, did she?"  And it's fun.  I love watching them diverge and, yet, complement each other nicely.  They're a perfect pair - soon to become part of a Terrific Trio.

10 September 2011

Of Turning Three

Three years ago today I was drugged and exhausted and my precious new baby girl was secluded in the hospital nursery, being closely watched for possible infection.  Today, that little girl is a crazy ball of energy that seems to mature with each passing hour.

We spent the day celebrating by heading to the Oklahoma City zoo (for the first time ever), where she enjoyed seeing the animals' eyes (that was seriously the aspect she was most thrilled about before going and even after getting home - she is so weird).  While the day was exhausting for everyone, the animal tour ended on a high note with the giraffes and zebras, who were much more engaging and less depressing than every other animal on display in their non-natural habitat.  Even Emmett, who should have been passed out in his stroller by that point perked up, pointing and waving at the tall creatures, exclaiming, "Gira!"

After dragging ourselves back to the car, we made one more stop - to spend Micaiah's $3 coupon to Toys R' Us courtesy of their birthday club.  Heading to their cheap-toy aisle, she played with every option, testing them all before making her choice.  But since her heart had been set on a "fish toy" ever since we told her where we were going (her randomness really surprises us every time), she wisely selected the bathtub fishing game and placed it in the cart.  Handing her toy and her coupon to the cashier, after announcing, "It's my birthday today!", she seemed like such a big girl.

The day ended with the making and eating of birthday cupcakes with some time for dinner and present/cards between the two events - though Emmett never stopped eating (we're monitoring him closely for signs of pending explosion).  Her gift from Aunt Dia of a doctor kit left us all concerned with her doctoring skills and sincerely praying she does not go into the medical profession (unless cutting your patients open with the scalpel and then eating them with a spoon and saying, "Mmmm" is part of the Hippocratic oath).

Yes, I'd say she had a very wonderful birthday and will be very glad to see it gone.  Until next year!

09 September 2011

Of a Superhero Birthday Party

The primary purpose of our trip 'cross the Midwest this past weekend was to join in the first birthday celebration for our beautiful niece.  This wonderful event (the party, not the actual birthday) occurred on Sunday and followed a superhero theme.  All guests were invited to dress as their favorite superhero.

Now, we don't tend to have any comic book costumes on-hand, so I was drawing a blank as to how into this dressing-up concept we needed to be.  Emmett has a Superman t-shirt and Micaiah has a crocheted blanket I tied into a cape when I was younger, which has remained such ever since.  I thought that would be as far as it went.

And then I thought to ask Micaiah who her favorite superhero actually was.  I expected an answer along the lines of Spiderman, one of the cartoons she watches with Daddy on Netflix.  But, instead, her response was immediate, "Word Girl!"

For those of you non-PBS watchers (or, rather, non-PBS-Kids watchers), Word Girl is the nerdiest super hero out there.  Only the best for our girl.  I realized, though, that nerdy as she may be, her pink(ish - depending on the light) costume may actually be simple enough to replicate.  And, even, better, she has a monkey side-kick - the perfect role for little man.

This, then, became my goal:  make our children resemble this picture in less than 36 hours (yes, I asked her this enlightening question the day before we hit the road):

On top of my limited time-frame, I also had to figure in the fact that we have been in the midst of a season-long heat wave here across the midwest, so a long-sleeve shirt and leggings were probably not the best option.  Thus, I decided our children would don Word Girl and Captain Huggy-Face's summer ensembles.  Digging through their drawers, I found just the right pieces and made a plan.

And for only a couple of hours work, I would say these aren't half-bad:

In fact, the greatest amount of work actually went to Gram, who knitted those headbands on her hours-long road trip to Silver Dollar City, per my last-minute request.

Unfortunately, my thinking ahead kind of flopped, as the weather peaked at about 75 degrees that day.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Either way, she had a blast in her costume, as ghetto as it may have been.  And Emmett even kept his hat on most of the day (only after his sister strategically killed the antenna, though, which had been uncomfortably poking him in the head).  What cuties!

And with even less planning, Philip and I decided to get in on the act:

For the un-informed, this was our inspiration:

Fortunately, other than the $2.25 we spent on fabric, the rest of our ensembles were also from found/borrowed items - I say "fortunately" because we wore them for all of about five minutes before feeling awkward enough to dress like normal people again.

Either way, we had a great day celebrating little Amie with her family.  Micaiah enjoyed meeting Amie's cousins on her mommy's side and Emmett, as always, enjoyed the food.

Flying elephants and super-heroes - what a weekend!

08 September 2011

Of Silver Dollar City

Apparently returning from a relaxing four-day weekend into a crazy hectic schedule can put some strain on a mama.  Sorry for my two day absence - I'm sure you were drastically concerned for my well-being.

I have really been wanting to document how much fun we had over the weekend - more than what the photos captured, but I don't want to bore anyone, so I'll try to make it fun, short and not-boring.  For now, let's just focus on Friday.

And let me tell you right now, if you ever want to go to Silver Dollar City, go on a week-day during the school year.  Because the Friday before Labor Day weekend was amazing as far as crowds go.  Also, it is apparently a good plan, as well, to head over during the Southern Gospel Festival if you're a thrill-seeker, because the other fans of this particular shindig are not so much the roller-coaster crowd, if you catch my drift.

Now, all of this would have been wonderful if I were actually able to ride anything that moves, but being 18 weeks pregnant is not very coaster, or swings, or log flume, or anything amusement-park-esque friendly.  But such is my fate - if I ever actually get to enjoy a non-crowded day at Silver Dollar City wherein both the weather and my physical condition all work together in a perfect storm which allows me to actually enjoy the rides, I may just die of shock - and miss it all anyway.

But the important thing this this time around wasn't getting on the adult rides, but rather seeing the joy on our near-three-year-old's face at just about everything she saw.

Friday was almost all about her.

Exploring the water games and air guns at Geyser Gulch, watching the excitement on her face in picking the purple elephant to fly in with Daddy, seeing her lift her arms as she zoomed in the kiddie coaster or hearing the "Ah-ooh, ah-ooh!" as we spun about in the teacups (I actually got to ride something with her!).  These are the things that made this trip the absolute best we've ever had.

Emmett didn't have such a bad time either.  Crawling around with the foam balls in the air gun room, simply cruising in his stroller, waving to his sister as she zoomed past on yet another ride, all of these seemed to keep our little man content.  But his very favorite part, by far, was the saloon show.  Our guy loves to clap and dance, so the old-time piano music and girls in frilly skirts dancing on the stage were almost more than he could handle.  The almost-endless supply of popcorn didn't hurt, either.

Toward the end of the day, Micaiah and Emmett got to build their own stuffed animals (well, Emmett had a lot of help) and they walked away with a white ballerina teddy bear (named Tawna, Tawnie or Tawnanie depending on the day or hour you ask) for Micaiah and an as-yet nameless basketball playing monkey for our little monkey (who also happens to love to play ball - in fact, the detachable ball around the animal's wrist may or may not have been more exciting to Emmett than the monkey itself).  I loved watching our little girl clutch her shopping bag proudly, so thrilled about her new creation that she picked out all by herself.  It made her seem like such a big girl.

The big, exciting day was topped off, then, by a freak rain-storm that hit while Gram and I entertained the kids back at Geyser Gulch and Grandy and Philip were boarding their last coaster of the day.  Fortunately, while Gram's shielding the kids from the gale-force winds blowing rain clear through the covered play area and my guarding the strollers under the only cover I could find were slightly traumatic, it was at least much less painful than what the men experienced - pelting rain at 66 mph.  I hear Philip spent the whole ride with hands in front of his face as a make-shift shield from the barrage.

Fortunately, all of this hit during the park's last operating hour, so we hurried (as quickly as we could through the mass exodus of sopping wet tourists) back to our condo to dry our clothes and enjoy birthday gifts for Micaiah (with s'mores rather than cake).

A grand day, overall, and one we won't soon forget (even if she does).

05 September 2011

Of Many Travels and Many Smiles

What a LOOOONG Labor Day weekend we have enjoyed.  I honestly underestimated how much fun could (and overestimated how much car time should) be packed into four and a half days.

I really do plan to tell you all about it later, but for now, here are a few ton of photos to tide you over.

Happy Belated Labor Day to all!

03 September 2011

Of Expansion

I've really been meaning to actually take semi-regular belly shots, but, what can I say?  This is our third child. Being a third, myself, it hurts to say that - but, really, you've seen a belly grow once or twice it kind of loses its flare.  My belly will always be my belly.  But, when this baby comes out, it will definitely be its own person and the excitement should rev up from there - no worries, third child!

But, back to business, so, here I am, nine weeks late with the first belly picture (well, nine weeks late taking it, posting it even a week later), begging your apologies.

Penguin is definitely beginning to make his/her presence known (though, keep in mind, this belly was also slightly inflated with the likes of Red Lobster's Butter Shrimp with Crab Sauce - yum)!

01 September 2011

Of God Lessons

Last night, as I was buckling Little Miss into the car after Puggles (the two and three year old's version of Awana), I took a glance at her coloring page, depicting a platypus (the mascot for Puggles - not sure how that works out) with arms outstretched to the sun, covered in purple, brown and green crayon markings and, realizing I needed to do better this year of assuming she paid attention in class, I asked her what that was in the picture.

"That's a sun."

"Oh, and who made the sun?"

"God."  Oh, Mommy heart is just tingling - and then she continues, correcting herself, "No, God didn't make the sun, God made the light."

Well, she's getting there.