Thursday, January 27, 2011

Loving What You Have

This afternoon, Lauren and I were able to go to lunch with my good friend Bre and her adorable son Andrew, who is the happiest little guy I've ever met. He has the cutest smile and the best laugh. I'm surprised he's not spoiled to death! As I watched him interact with Bre, listened to him giggle and belly laugh, I realized just how much it bothers me that Lauren doesn't do that. She has her moments where she is super happy, when you can tell she's having a blast, but most of the time she's my serious one. If she does laugh, it's more like a cough, which most people would never guess means that she's happy. When people stop by and tell me she's cute she will very rarely smile at them. Often they will walk away with a confused look on their face, which just hurts my heart. I don't think she's any less cute because she won't smile, but it seems like other people do. (I know that may not be what they are thinking, but it's the way it comes across.)

After some moping, I realized that I was being completely absurd. She may not smile and laugh as much as I wish she would, but that just makes each time she does that much more special. It means she's really happy, and what more could I ask for? Yes, she's serious, but that's just who she is. She's an observer and a thinker. Sometimes you can see the little wheels turning while she ponders something.

She's beautiful when she's serious.

All of this made me realize that there are a lot of things that I look at in the wrong light. My weight, our rental house, my hair. Obviously, I can work out and eat better to change my weight, but there are some things that will never change that come from being pregnant twice. Instead of crying about those changes, I should learn to wear them proudly. It means I carried two beautiful children, and I feel so blessed for that. Someday we will be able to buy our dream house, our "forever" home, and this house will become a fond memory. Besides, I should feel lucky to have such a nice place to live. I know, especially in this economy, that many people are struggling to keep a roof over their families heads and here I am complaining because we don't have enough natural light. Crazy, right?

Now, my hair? I'll just have to learn to live with that. These curls aren't going anywhere.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

(Not at All) Wordless Wednesday

The phrase to best describe out household the past two weeks? "Sickly, but managing...barely."

Brenden was actually the last of us to catch the crud and he seems the least bothered by it. I'm not sure if he is actually past it or if it will hit him hard at the end, like it did with Lauren and I.

Poor Lauren has had a rough two weeks. First it was all the nasty gunk in her head, then an ear infection, and on top of that she managed to catch a week long stomach virus. Yesterday was the first time she had any formula that actually stayed down since last Thursday and today she finally ate real food and seemed to enjoy it. It was so scary to see her unable to eat and only want Pedialyte. She went from 20 lbs 5 oz down to 19 lbs 1 oz in less than a week and her hands and feet were never warm. I'm hoping we're past the worst of it and that she's good and healthy for a very long time.

Our 6 year anniversary was Monday and that night I started feeling terrible. I had been feeling cruddy for awhile but then the entire left side of my face just started to ache. It hurt to bend down, it hurt to blink. Even my teeth and the roof of my mouth were sore. I knew I couldn't wait any longer to head to the doctor. I was lucky to get in on Tuesday and she diagnosed me with an ear/sinus infection. If that pain is what Lauren was dealing with I'm not surprised she didn't sleep. It was terrible! Not much of an anniversary. Thank goodness we're really celebrating on Saturday!

Tim has been lucky. He did start to feel kind of gross but I don't think it got nearly as bad as any of ours. Let's hope it stays that way.

I hope everyone's families are past the nasty part of this season. Anyone else ready for summer???

Monday, January 24, 2011

6 Years...So Lucky!

There really are not adequate words to describe just how lucky I am to be married to such a wonderful husband and father. I'm not sure I could have dreamed him up any better.

I'm lucky that he walked into my bar on that Friday night and that the stars aligned for us.

I'm lucky that he was the man that I had my very first baby with, and that our son is just as amazing as he is.

I'm lucky that we were then blessed with a beautiful little girl who has made our family complete.

I'm lucky that he has such a great family that welcomed me with open arms.

Connie, the coolest mother-in-law ever.

I'm lucky that he accepts me for me, flaws and all.

I'm lucky that he spoils me more than I could ever deserve. The life that we have is better than I could have ever imagined.

My anniversary present. I love it!

Tim, I love you more than any thing in this entire world. Thank you for making me complete.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

There is no season such delight can bring
As summer, autumn, winter and the spring.
~William Browne

Who Knew

I remember the parent I was when Brenden was 9 months old. I was constantly worried about where he was, what he was doing, and whether he was on his schedule. He was fed every 2 hours, he took a nap at specific times (which means we missed out on some fun things), and we always knew what to expect. Was it strict for everyone? Yes. Did we do just fine? Absolutely. He thrived and grew and I'm pretty sure he hasn't suffered any negative effects from it. Was it perfect? Of course not. But I'm one of those people that believes there is never a perfect way to parent. We're all just limping along, doing the best that we know how.

The other day I realized that I am no where near the same parent I was then. I was sitting on the floor, watching Lauren crawl towards the sliding glass doors, impressed by the fact that the vertical blinds entertained her. She banged on the glass, checked out the floor vent, and then realized there was a balloon under the table. She squealed with delight and took off after it, grabbing it with both hands and gnawing on it like it was a big old apple. Suddenly, she remembered the dog food in the kitchen and she was off, which was my cue to go after her to save the dogs from starving.

"And...?" you're probably thinking. There is nothing surprising about her actions. She's a baby that is learning and exploring her surroundings. The change is me. Brenden would have neverbeen near those sliding glass doors. I'm not sure what would have scared me so much since they don't open on their own. He would have never ever been allowed to play with a balloon, much less chew on it. What if it popped and little pieces were all over the floor? What if he ate some of it? (Like he would have been thinking about eating anything after having a balloon pop in his face.)

Then, that night, Tim came home to talk about the budget with me. He had a piece of paper and a pen, and made the mistake of sitting on the floor, which is Lauren's domain. Within moments she was climbing all over him, intent on looking at the new "toys" he had brought her. It's amazing how difficult it is to juggle three small things like a piece of paper, a pen and a baby. Eventually, he gave up and let her happily crunch and chew on the paper, which entertained her for about 8 seconds. Did he give her one of the 384 toys that we have laying around? Of course not. He gave her THE PEN. Yes, my husband handed our 9 month old a pen, which she used to try to draw herself a goatee like her grandpa. (Which was hilarious!) I thought for sure he would take it from her after that, but no. He simply clicked it closed and handed it right back. And I thought he was the "strict" one.

The main difference between us then and us now is how we stress about the little things. Is Lauren allowed to do anything and everything she wants? No, but we aren't following her everywhere, worrying about what trouble she might get in to. Do we sit behind her, carefully making sure she never falls? No. We aren't watching her get hurt, but we aren't keeping her from trying out her new balance or the ability to sit from standing. Do I write down every little thing that needs to be done when we leave her with someone? Heck no. Anyone I leave her with is someone that I know will take great care of her, and Brenden, too. They won't follow every rule, and things will be done differently, but it won't bother me one bit. As long and they come back happy, healthy and in one piece then that is all that matters.

However, if they come home raving about how they were allowed to drink all the pop they want, we'll definitely have a problem. I have my limits.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

9 months old!

These are getting harder and harder to write. I plan on only doing a monthly write up of all the new things Lauren is doing until she is a year old, since so much happens in the first year, so only 3 more to go! My baby will soon be a toddler and I am just not ready.

She, however, seems to be running towards it full force. In one week she learned so much, and she hasn't slowed down at all. She is crawling on her hands and knees all the time and uses anything and everything to stand up. Her vocabulary, which is so strange to type, increases every day. Her newest, and most favorite is not "mama," it's "bubba," which Brenden took a little while to warm up to. Finally we convinced him that she was trying to say Brenden, but that it would take awhile for it to actually sound right. I think that since he has trouble saying certain things he can relate.

I'm so thankful that we know what she is allergic to so that she can try new things without having to worry about her breaking out or something worse. Just the other day she was able to enjoy pancakes with Brenden and she's even been given a few french fries to munch on. She still only has the two bottom teeth, which work just fine, but her two top teeth are really close to popping through. In no time she'll be feeding herself more than just puffs and little pieces of food, and my life will get even more messy.


Today we had to take her to the doctor because she just was not doing well with her cold. It turns out she has yet another ear infection in her right ear, but the doctor agreed with me that she should grow out of them without any problems. We did find out that she weighs right around 20 lbs, so she hasn't grown weight-wise in a few months but she's definitely taller, we just don't know by how much. She's good and healthy, minus the not-so-happy ear, and that's all that really matters.

Here she is, showing off how she learned to use her walker. It's only the second time she's ever used it and I think this is what will probably lead to her walking. ("Well, duh," you're saying. I just didn't think it would help. I thought it would allow her to get from one point to another, not actually teach her to walk. My bad!)

Lauren, we are so lucky to have you in our family. Your silly coughing laugh and the serious way you watch and learn is just amazing. But really, slow down a bit. You're going to give your mommy a heart attack!

9 months old!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Three Out Of Four

Three out of four of us are sick. I hope that changes a bit next week.

Last weekend Lauren and Brenden headed off to grandma Ginger's and grandpa Jim's house to spend the night so I could focus on cleaning. We were so busy during the holidays that a deep clean was definitely needed. I noticed that Lauren seemed a little stuffy but I wasn't too concerned. I thought it was just from being cold. By Sunday night I knew I was wrong.

She woke up on Monday morning with her hair stuck to the goop that had dried around her nose. It was terrible! (No, I didn't take a picture. I have more than enough blackmail/unflattering pictures and I don't need to remember that.) She had a low grade fever and was just cranky. This did not bode well for the rest of us.

By Tuesday night my throat felt like I had swallowed glass, which is the first sign of sickness for me. I woke up on Wednesday feeling absolutely awful. Tim had a ton of work to do so there was no way he could stay home to take care of us. I thought for sure Brenden would wear me out that morning but he lounged on the couch with me when Lauren was napping, which is his first (outward) sign that he isn't feeling well. That night the 3 of us went to bed, snotty, tired, sore and feverish.

Thursday was more of the same. Since Brenden wasn't feeling well he missed out on his first party at school, which makes me really sad. We went through an entire box of tissues and I finally figured out that swaddling Lauren was the best way to clean her nose. She's figured out how to flail really well, pull on my hands and yell "nah nah nah nah!!!" (Which is either "no no no no!" or she's yelling for a grandma to help her. Either one makes sense.)

Today Connie came and saved us all! Tim is out with the guys so I was going to be alone all day. I woke up at 5:30 am (Why, brain, WHY?!?) and couldn't get back to sleep. I took a shower, started laundry, cleaned the kitchen, started coffee and made everyone pancakes. I was exhausted by the time Connie made it to our house with some wonderful Chick-Fil-A. I very happily watched the kids climb all over her while I zoned out. When naptime rolled around I laid down, too, although Lauren was not in the mood. Poor thing was so congested she kept waking up. Plus, her two top teeth are really bugging her. Sick and teething does not mix well. Thank you, Connie, for taking care of us all!

Hopefully next week will be full of a lot less snot, although Tim's chances are not looking good.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Learning What To Expect

The afternoon after Brenden's first day of preschool was hard for me, to put it mildly. I wanted his experience to be wonderful, to pick him up from school and have his teacher gush about how smart he is and how much he seemed to love school. Obviously that didn't happen, and it bugged me until I talked to Tim and had time to process everything and understand just how much I overreacted.

I should never have expected so much out of him. It was the first time that he has ever been in that type of environment and the first time someone that wasn't his grandparents or one of our good friends watching him. He was so excited and when he's excited he can't sit still and he definitely doesn't listen. He was trying out new skills, around new kids, and at a place that he's never been before. The fact that he came home happy and didn't do anything outrageous should have had me jumping for joy.

I was definitely hard on the teacher, which I think was a combination of the above mentioned overreacting and an inability to ask the right questions. When I dropped him off this morning I told her that we had worked on listening, coloring and cutting and that I thought that the excitement had worn off a bit so I hoped he'd listen just a little better. I explained that I'd love to know what I can do at home that would help him in class and she really seemed to appreciate it. I don't want to be one of those crazy parents that hounds the teacher over and over and drives her crazy, I just want to be involved and helpful.

I think today, and the rest of the year, will be a lot easier now. I've always been a perfectionist but I don't want to push that onto my kids. I don't think I'm setting the bar too low for him, though. I still expect him to be kind, polite, and follow directions, I just don't expect him to be the most perfect 3 year old ever. (No matter what his grandmas may think.) :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday

This was our New Years Eve. It was AWESOME. Thanks for having us over, Stephanie and Thirza!

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Slow Down, Sister!

I remember Brenden's milestones vaguely. I remember about what age he was and how excited every new skill made me. He progressed pretty normally, doing something new every once in awhile, although he did learn to pull up and walk along furniture a full month before he started crawling.

And now we have Lauren, clumping new skills together, doing something completely unexpected, and surprising me every time I turn around. One day, when she was 4 months old, I laid her on her back on a blanket so that I could go to the bathroom and returned to find her on her stomach. I didn't even realize she was trying to roll over! Plus, aren't babies supposed to roll from their belly to their backs first?

She's been scooting around on her belly for awhile but I was completely surprised when she quickly and easily made her way up the tiny stairs in our playroom on her first try. Maybe she's been practicing while we're asleep?


This past week has been one thing after another after another. She's been pulling up on all of us for awhile, but just this weekend realized that furniture, toys and the baby gate worked just as well. Then she figured, "I'm already up here, I might as well shuffle along on my own, too! One handed? No problem!" She clapped for me the first time other other day, which Tim still hasn't seen, and started signing "All done." Two days ago I went to get her out of bed and found her laying there, watching her mobile turn. I have no idea how she turned it on. She clicked her tongue at me all day yesterday, while giving me high fives for the first time.

All done!

Today was no less full of new things. This morning I walked in to give her the pacifier back so that she could go to sleep. I stopped at the doorway because her head was not where I expected it to be. Yes, it was still on top of her neck, but I thought it would be on the mattress, where it normally is. Nope! She was sitting straight up, staring at me, with her pacifier firmly clamped in her mouth. When in the world did she learn to sit up like that?

Blurry cell phone picture for evidence!

Not an hour ago, during her 2nd nap, she was whining again. Back into her room I went, and again I stopped short. There was my daughter, who I thought might be sitting again, standing up in her crib. SO many new opportunities have opened up to her now!

I'll never fall asleep easily again!

I had just remarked to Connie, Tim's mom, today about how I keep thinking Lauren is going to walk early but that she'll probably be one of those babies that waits until she's completely ready to do so and it won't be for a long time. Now I'm scared that next week she's going to wander into the kitchen, walking like she's been doing it for years, all while fixing herself a bottle, or some other craziness.

My brain is not prepared, and neither is my heart. Lauren, slow down! You're my last baby and I'm not ready for you to be a toddler!

1st Day

The first day has come and gone. I got up early and got myself ready before either of the kids were awake and without the aide of an alarm clock, which is unheard of in our house. Brenden ate breakfast and watched Super Why while I got Lauren fed and ready to go. I was a nervous wreck! Did I pack the right things? Would he eat anything for lunch at all?

Ready to go!

Tim met me at the school to walk Brenden in, which was a big surprise for him. He went right in, threw his lunch bag in their basket, and promptly started playing with another boy. We said hello to his teacher, who looks no older than 18 but who I know is older and very qualified, explained a few things about Brenden, and gave him kisses goodbye.

I thought I would be a wreck, but the anxiety about the whole thing was much worse than actually leaving him there. Target is right down the street so Lauren and I spent about a half hour wandering around the store, comparing prices and wishing for a leather bench for my bedroom, before heading home. She took a nice long nap and I cleaned, folded laundry, and relaxed. I felt like a horrible mother! I didn't cry dropping him off and I enjoyed my afternoon. Am I really allowed to be happy he's in school?

I headed in to pick him up at 2:30 pm and found him sitting on the rug with the other kids, watching his teacher read a book. He was happy to see me, which was a relief. I was afraid he would cry because he had to come home! Then I asked his teacher how he did and all I got was a shrug and "He did okay." Um...just okay? Can we expand on this a bit? I asked if he was up to par with the other kids and what they were doing. "Yeah, he's about there." I wanted to shake her. Give me something to go on!

Eventually she said he could use some work on cutting and staying in the lines when he colors. I explained that he hadn't worked with scissors much because we have a baby in our house and there was no way I'd let him near her with those. Plus, I don't think the dogs would appreciate it, either. I asked if he ate lunch. Another shrug. "Yeah, there was a lot in there." I replied that I put a little bit of everything in there because I had no idea what he would and wouldn't eat when he wasn't at home. "Oh, that's smart!" she said. Not just 4 seconds ago you made it sound like I had done something wrong. The most helpful person was a little boy in Brenden's class that came up and told me that Brenden was still in the green, which means he didn't have to go in time out. Thank you, 3 year old, for telling me more than his teacher!

I think, because she sure as heck didn't come right out and say anything, his biggest problem is his listening skills, which are seriously lacking. I knew this, and even wrote it on the piece of paper that I sent in to describe him. She said something about how that was one of the big things he'd learn in school, but that's really all I got.

So, this is where I come out and admit I'm the weird mom that cried when I picked my child up from preschool, and not when I dropped him off. All of my concerns before made me nervous, but not enough to reach my tear ducts. But, not getting much out of his teacher about how he did, hearing that he needed to catch up and knowing that he didn't listen, all made me feel like a failure. I feltl like I failed to teach him anything up until now. I felt as though she called my son dumb. I felt like she was judging me. (Nothing like that was said, and I know I overreact and over-analyze, so after I cried to Tim I felt better. Tim's best point? "She couldn't find anything specifically bad to say, so he must have done just fine." True.)

All of those things were MY feelings, though. Brenden had a great time! He can't tell me what they did, or the names of any of the kids in his class, but he was happy to go to school, happy to come home, and happy to be going back on Thursday. I keep reminding myself that it's his experience, not mine. I glad that he didn't notice how upset I was. I know that he'll learn to listen and socialize correctly. That is what going to school is going to help him with, and I'm glad to have him there. I'd really like to be able to get more out of his teacher, and I think I just need to ask more specific questions. It's a learning process for all of us.

Not in the lines, and not the right color, but it looks great to me!

In the end, I would say the day was a complete success in Brenden's mind and just fine for me. I really need to not make this about how it affects me and worry more about how Brenden is taking everything. It's completely new and I have no idea what I'm doing, so the best I can hope for is to not make any big mistakes along the way. Someone remind me of this when I'm crying because Brenden failed his driver's test and he could care less, because I can totally see that happening.

Monday, January 3, 2011


I knew this day was coming fast. I had been waiting for it, planning for it, worrying about not starting it soon enough. Was he ready? Could we afford it? Was it the right place? Everything has now fallen into place. Tomorrow is the big day! I am all at once totally excited and completely petrified.

Tim asked me the other day what I was most nervous about. I rattled on about kids being mean, Brenden hating school, hurt feelings and lots of tears. Tim, being the more practical one, is more concerned with Brenden's safety. He wants to know that there are enough teachers to keep Brenden safe and make sure he doesn't get lost. He questioned whether they locked their doors during the day so that no one could just walk in and snag a child. It's the obvious difference between us, and most women and men. Emotional vs. Logical.

Brenden is one word...EXCITED. School is all he has talked about for the past 4 days. He wakes up yelling"I want to go to school!" He gets upset when we explain that he can't go to school yet. "Not yet!?!" And cue much crying. I don't think he really knows what to expect, maybe hours of playing outside or riding a scooter. He knows his friends Connor and Jake go to school so school must be something that he'll like. I'm hoping he's right.

I guess we'll find out tomorrow when I drop him off. Will he scamper away from me, like I think he will, or cling to me, which would be completely out of character. Will I be a blabbering, crying mess through it all or will I be able to hold it together until I get to the car?

I know that it's going to be strange being at home with just Lauren, which has happened very rarely. Tim actually had the guts to ask me what I was "going to do with all my extra time." I think I'll just laze around, eat bon-bons, watch soap operas...or maybe take care of the other child that we have. The one that just recently proved she most certainly knows how to crawl correctly but chooses to Army crawl on the hardwood because it's faster. The one that can now click her tongue, clap her hands, and recently pulled up on the baby gate and coffee table and then shuffled sideways. The one obsessed with getting into the dog food and trying to shovel as much of it into her mouth before we realize she's over there. She's a sneaky one! Extra time??? HAHAHAHAHA!

It's going to be a huge change for all of us, I'm just hoping to make it through this first week with as little complications as possible. Someday this will all be old hat, just our normal weekly routine. But, right now, all I can think of is how my baby went from this:

To this:

Yep, I need to invest in a huge box of tissues. The waterworks have already begun.

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