Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Glitter, Hot Chocolate, and Mangers, Oh My!

We have a new Formspring question to answer today and I'm particularly excited about it. A reader asks:

Q: What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?

A: Oh, so very many fun things! I love holidays and any reason to celebrate in general, but there's something about the tinsel, snow, and hot chocolate-induced stupor of the Christmas season that I love the very best! I don't know that I do anything particularly exciting or unusual compared to everyone else, but I'll share some of our family's favorite traditions anyway.

First off, Christmas music, Christmas music, Christmas music. I can't say it enough. I'm not even going to pretend I wait until December rolls around to bust this one out. Pandora's general Christmas station is my fave, especially since I get to delete the annoying Christmas songs that normally would tolerate while wishing they would just forever disappear.

As soon as Thanksgiving has been seen out the door, the Christmas decor is well on it's way up. The tree is, obviously, the main event, but I find having little Christmasy reminders throughout the main living areas really festify (yup, made up word there) things. For me, personally, Christmas is when I let my early-adolescence glitter fetish out. As I've grown up, I suppressed my love of all things sparkle, but all bets are off come December 1st. Anyone who visits my house this time of year can attest to that.

I'm a big seasonal baker. So, it only makes sense that when the holiday season starts, the cookie sheets are almost constantly out...not to mention, it doesn't hurt any that it's finally cooled off enough by then to enjoy the little extra warmth in the kitchen that the oven brings. We're particularly big fans of ginger snaps in our house; my husband, especially, has an amazing knack of cooking them to a just-perfect soft perfection. If I'm being honest, it's not even just about the baked goods, it's the whole food kit 'n' caboodle. For example, I l.o.v.e. soups. So much, I'm occasionally tempted to have a steamy affair with them. Yes, I love them *that* much. So, hot soup+Christmas weather+warm bread=an absolute perfect combination. Throw in some peppermint hot chocolate next to a lit Christmas tree and honey, I am in heeeeaven. Then there is the holiday ham and the cheese balls and the little smoked sausages one finds at parties. See what I mean? This time of year is ALL about the food.

Lastly, I find that I feel most Christmasy when I actually focus on, well, Christmas. As in Christmas. There's something about teaching and re-teaching my children the true reason for the season year after year that helps me reaffirm my own testimony of Christ. I have a pile of Christmas books I read to my babies and my favorites, hands down, are the ones the tell the nativity story, even if it means that I'm re-reading the same ol' words day after day. I also made up a stash of wood blocks with nativity characters on them for the kids to play with and I love watching them act out the story of Christ's birth (when they're not seeing who can chuck them the farthest into the Christmas tree, of course :P). In particular, my favorite Christ-centered tradition is one that we just started last year. I have a simple box (currently it's a shoe box wrapped in brown paper, but I hope to upgrade it to wood within the next year or two) that represents Christ's manger. When the kids promptly obey, do something particularly nice or helpful, or any other good deed, they get to put little slips of paper, or "hay," into the manager in order to prepare for the birth of Christ. They get to pick a hay piece out (we have a bunch of different brown-toned colored slips), I write their good deeds on it, and they put it into the manger. It's a constant reminder of Christ throughout the season of His birth.

Well, those are the ways *I* get into the Christmas spirit. What I really want to know is how *y'all* do it...so, come on now, 'fess up!

ps-This post wouldn't be complete with a quick mention of our little elf, Demitri, that comes to visit every year. My yearly holiday blackmailing of the season ("don't make me call Santa's cell phone!") just wouldn't be the same without him!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jane Austen Fight Club

I just HAD to share this one...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

fyi

Glee makes laundry folding oh-so-much better.

(Thank heavens the show got back in its groove after this season's rough start)


Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm dreaming of...

Now that we've got the emotionally heavy stuff off our chests (which was wonderful, by the way, Aub :) ... I'm feeling a little frivolous. What can I say? The holidays are merrily approaching, as holidays are apt to do. It's seems that every time I turn around someone is pestering me about Christmas lists. To top it off, I recently read this post by my sister-in-law, Kim, which got me thinking about all the lovely (and not-so lovely) splurges around the holidays. With all these frivolous thoughts swirling about, inevitably, my thoughts turn towards the Great Wish List that I try to avoid thinking about for the rest of the year.

First off, I'm needing some (in the words of the immortal Georgia Nicolson) fabbity-fab shoes.


Or, more realistically, some wear-everywhere flats
Why don't we top it off with one of these cozy little numbers, perfect for winter snuggling with...


...a good book, of course.
Not to mention, my husband knows the quickest way to my heart on chilly nights.


How about y'all? What are some of your Wish List items for this holiday season?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Mantra: Personal Experience Part 3

Our new mantra has become: "Now we know why..."

1. Our kid has been a great sleeper since birth, nothing wakes him up. Phone calls, doorbells, vacuum cleaners, thunderstorms, tornado sirens... now we know why. (And here we just thought we were really great at this parenting thing).
2. He only had two volumes, loud and louder... now we know why. (Much to our embarrassment while sitting in the middle of church).
3. He loves loud music with a good strong beat... now we know why.
4. He wouldn't open closed doors, even though he was tall enough and knew how, unless we were behind him instructing him to open the door, he wouldn't do it... now we know why. (Turns out most children won't open doors if they can't hear what's behind the door).
5. He never babbled (not like his sister does), he just screamed (see #2)... now we know why.
6. The few words he did start speaking were mainly made up of vowels, because that is what he could here (for example a dog barking wasn't "Ruff" it was "uuu, uuu")... now we know why

We have found humor in the situation as well. For example, I told my husband the other day that when our son is school age and the students ask him what is in his ear he can say that it is an earpiece for the government and he is actually a secret agent, and then pretend to get a secret message and run away. We've also realized that when he is a teenager he can take out his hearing aids and pretend that he can't hear us when we say something he doesn't like.

The days go on and things are getting better. Like any big change your in life, it just takes some adjusting to, but the fact is you do adjust. When I first started writing this little series of mine, I intended it to be a one-article story. However, as I started writing I found I had more to say than just "here's what happened." It has been very therapeutic for me and I thank all of you who have read it through and supported me with your comments. My intention in writing this was to let everyone know you are not alone out there. Raising children is hard and things don't go exactly as planned. For whatever reason we seem to convince ourselves that this time life will do as we tell it to, but the Lord kindly reminds us that He is in charge. In part 1 a reader shared a link for the following story, I will end my comments here, but for anyone who is interested please continue reading. It spoke to my heart, and I can't wait to see what Holland holds for me.

c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......
When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."
"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."
But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around.... and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills....and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away... because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But... if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things ... about Holland.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Processing: Personal Experience Part 2

Then the emotions hit. According to the Kubler-Ross model I should be undergoing denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I seem to be making up my own stages as I handle my son and his hearing loss. I never went through denial or bargaining. The doctors showed me the results from four different tests and I can't argue with scientific proof. There is a small part of me that says "are you sure?" But the larger part of me wants to take action, it says "what do I need to do?"

Instead I go through anger, blame, guilt, frustration, and acceptance.

Anger - I'm angry with the doctors for not listening to me sooner. I was the one who initiated contact with an audiologist, no thanks to my pediatrician. I am angry with the health department and their not-accurate hearing test. Fluid on the ears?! HA!

Blame - this is the hardest one for me. I blame the doctor (see anger). I blame my husband, maybe he shouldn't have tickled our son so hard, thrown him up in the air, wrestled with him, the list goes on. As time goes on I blame him for working while I handle the doctors, insurance reps, babysitters, and therapy. It's a silly blame, but I often feel so alone in this. But mostly, I blame myself. Was there something I should have done differently? I had a rather perfect pregnancy, but maybe I should have drank more water, refrained from having that corn dog, been more careful about heating up my deli meat. Then there is the whole issue of the labor and delivery. Did his hearing loss occur after being in labor for 28 plus hours and pushing for two? Should we have opted for a c-section sooner? I can't bare to think about it. Or was it when my milk supply started to dry up and I didn't know it, not until he started losing weight? So many things go through my head. The geneticist reassures me that unless I was abusing drugs or alcohol or deathly ill during pregnancy, there was absolutely nothing I could have done differently.

Guilt - you would think the guilt would come from the blame, but this guilt hits me on my blindside. My son has only mild permanent hearing loss, as I start to talk to other families I realize their child's hearing loss is much more severe. They are going in for surgeries and wearing cochlear implants. I suddenly feel guilty for taking this so hard, for stressing out over the day-to-day maintenance of it all. It could be so much worse, who am I to complain?

Frustration - this one is much more complicated. It's the every day routine we are now in. It's the struggle to keep a two year old from pulling out his hearing aids, of searching the store for size 13 batteries, of cleaning and maintaining the hearing aids. It's the hours I now spend in the car as I take my husband to work, my daughter to the babysitter, my son to therapy, home from therapy, pick up our daughter, pick up my husband. How do I know when my son is being a two-year old and ignoring me or simply can not hear me? It's the application of the newest technique they've taught me at therapy, the phone call from his mother's day out when they can't get his hearing aids back in, the exhaustion of it all. It's the opinions I get from all sides of what I should or should not be doing. Sign language or no sign language? It's the realization that grandparents now seem to be afraid to take the kids for the weekend because the hearing aids intimidate them. But mostly, it's the frustration that both my son and I receive when communication fails. I can't understand him and he can't make himself understood.

Some days are rough. My husband comes home from work and takes over the bedtime routine. I curl up in bed, hiding from the stress that threatens to crush me. My husband comes in and holds me till it passes. He somehow transfers some of his strength to me. With a good night's rest, I will be as good as new to handle a new day.

Acceptance - it comes little by little as we fall into a routine. The hearing aids are staying on more often than not, his speech is progressing slowly, and we are making progress. I am learning as I go and have quickly learned to take it one day at a time. Line upon line, precept upon precept. I turn to the Lord in my thoughts and prayers more often. Our son will never remember a life without hearing aids and for him it will become second nature. I hope that one day soon it will become second nature for me as well.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Whirlwind: Personal Experience Part 1

"Your son has mild permanent hearing loss." The words bounce around in my head.
"Oh, okay," I say. "What does that mean?"
"Well, we want to run a few more tests to confirm our findings, but it will mean hearing aids and auditory and verbal therapy."
"Oh, okay." My daughter lurches forward and fusses, I hand her a toy to distract her. The audiologist peers at me closely, concern in her eyes. She is under the impression that I am taking this all rather well. I smile and nod as the audiologist and speech pathologist explain the steps we need to take from here, show me a chart of what my son can and can not hear. The information is thrown at me quicker than I can absorb.

It's not until I am strapping the kids into their car seats that my heart starts to drop. My son has hearing loss? HEARING LOSS! It was the last thing I expected to hear. Sure he had never passed his newborn hearing screening and is behind in his speech, but by golly, the doctors kept telling me it was just because of fluid in the ear. Take care of the fluid, take care of the problem. I was expecting at most that he would need tubes in his ears.

I call my husband at work. "How did it go?" he asks.
"Good, he was such a trooper, they did four different tests on him, plus some more stuff. Umm, can I pick you up for lunch?" I can't explain it over the phone.
"Sure..." he sounds hesitant. I am worried he has something going on, I can't go the whole afternoon without talking to him, my husband, my help meet. "No," he reassures me, "I can go to lunch."

He gets into the car and I start in on the explanation I've been reciting in my head for the 25 minute car ride to his workplace. "He will need hearing aids and therapy," I recite.
"Are you serious?" my husband asks.

Then come the phone calls, my side of the family, his side of the family. I spend all afternoon on the phone, explaining, answering questions I barely know the answer to myself. My mom's response is, "Are you serious?" Do I sound like I'm joking? By the end of the day I'm emotionally exhausted. We are going out for dinner that night.

Within weeks, the hearing aids are fitted, therapy is scheduled. There will be two different sessions, a one-on-one therapy and a class therapy. The important thing is to prepare him for school. Both sessions will be held weekly. Insurance does not cover hearing aids or anything hearing related. They will only cover the therapy if it is listed as a specific type of speech therapy. I will need to find a babysitter for our daughter twice a week. The audiologist instructs us on how to fit, clean, and take care of the hearing aids. The batteries must be replaced weekly. There is special cleaning solution and dry crystals and a container that the hearing aids must be kept in nightly. We will need to do a genetic test to make sure the hearing loss is not a sign of something bigger.

I suddenly feel very overwhelmed.

I've been in contact with the state's early intervention program. They will subsidize the therapy and hearing aid costs until he's three, when we will be turned over to the school districts. He will be reevaluated when he turns three.

It's been a few months later and I am still processing everything. An interpreter for the deaf asks me if I have reached the acceptance stage yet. I tell her I don't know. I've been told that we will go through the same stages of grief as one who has lost a family member to death. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance.

I'm not sure where I'm at in those stages, I'm just acting. I'm just taking it one day at a time, trying to do what's best for my child, and all the while worrying that it won't be enough.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Question & Answer: Election Time!

This question comes from an anonymous source:
What do you think about the upcoming elections? What is your criteria for a good governor?

Admittedly, we haven't been keeping up on politics as much this year. I feel like I have failed in my duties as a citizen, but the campaigning has been so nasty this year it's easier for me to tune it out than to listen.

So, to answer your question, we have a guest columnist today. My husband Carlin (who is also an engineer, hence the very technical response), makes a point to keep up on this stuff.

Carlin, take it away...

Election season. Ah, election season, when all the politicians try to convince you that words speak louder than actions. I have been able to vote now for 10 years and most of the time try to keep myself informed, but rarely pick sides early on. I'm not an 'activist' or tout any single political 'agenda'. I think there are merits and pitfalls to both (all) sides of the aisle. This year, 2010, however something changed. I think it's changed for a lot of people. The low-level hum of the political machine leading our nation in Washington has slowly grown to an obnoxious, tumultuous noise in every school, office and home. Something, in my view, happened to re-ignite the fervor/anger/passion of us normally 'passive' citizens. Some people point to one or two single things, like so called 'Obamacare' or the Bank Bailouts in late 2008/early 2009. But I think it's more complicated. There are so many things nation wide that points to the slow deterioration of the Bill of Rights. Judges ruling against our ability to photograph police action. Rulings that covert GPS tracking does not require a warrant. Our freedom of speech has been curtailed to 'as long as it doesn't offend me (and my lawyer)'. The adage "I disagree with you, but will fight to the death for your right to say it" has been amended to "I will fight to the death so you can not say it". All these and more are a catalyst that will ultimately enslave this nation as a Nanny-State, or, conversely lead to a revolution more wide-spread and violent than the one in the 1770s.

The most interesting facet of the elections tomorrow is to see whether or not the voting people give credence to the Tea Party's endorsements/rhetoric, either establishing them with real political power, or writing them off as a one-hit wonder. Again, I understand a lot of frustrations that the Tea Party gives a voice to, and think some things they say are a bit off. Some will mock those frustrations, when they run counter to their agenda, and others will fight for them. That's the wonderful thing about this Country though. We have these powers and freedoms as a people to do so. I think too many of us, including myself, were caught being apathetic toward the policies and laws being passed and rulings being made. We think "Well there are checks and balances in the government and it all evens out". But zoom out for a minute. Get a nation-wide view. Who checks and balances the government itself? What entity has the power to fire the House of Representatives every 2 years, the President every 4 years and the entire Senate every 6 years? Who keeps the metric system down? We do! Sorry got carried away with a Simpsons reference, but my point stands. When the people are apathetic and don't research and get involved to educate themselves on a little politics and social theory, the long arm of the law becomes longer and longer and longer. Power is intoxicating and sometimes our leaders get drunk. I think the elections and ballots is the true spine of this Nation and serve to balance (or disrupt) an otherwise run-away train of lawmakers.

A good Governor for any state or province largely depends on the individuals' personal requirements. Do you want the Governor to enforce XYZ law? Do you want him or her to support XYZ agenda? But since you asked me for my criteria for a good Governor, here:
•Engineering degree (critical thinking is required, with a heavy emphasis on facts).
•Police/military background. Knows what he or she is doing when giving orders and if those orders are feasible, adds 'executive' experience.
•Be a parent. The two Oklahoma gubernatorial candidates had a little spat over this, and yes, Mary Fallin, it was a dirty fight to pick, but I think the underlying issue is the elephant in the room. Nothing changes your focus, alters your world, or gets your head out of the clouds quite like having someone so completely helpless literally dropped into your lap. You think twice about pulling that trigger, you think twice about spending that frivolous dollar. Most leaders do have children, some don't, but I think all would be served to treat our state's budget like the family budget and the military like their own kids.
•When something goes wrong on his/her watch and it's his/her fault, have the freaking guts to get on TV and apologize whole-heartedly and unequivocally. Someone I know told me "Chivalry for the ages is accepting more blame than is yours and handing out more credit than is due."


Aubrey again, just to add one last thought. I have found that this year I am putting so-called "logic" to the side. Too many politicians who promise one thing and then do another, am I really surprised? No. But I've come to realize that what's more important to me right now is that I vote with the party who best represents my ideals and morals. This country was founded on religious principles and I best stick with said principles when voting.

Remember, tomorrow, November 2, is the big election day. Get out there and vote, voting one way or another is better than being apathetic and doing nothing at all.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Question & Answer

Our first question comes from an anonymous source. It asks: "how do you deal with getting a degree but staying at home to raise your children instead of using your degree?"

Good question and one that I don't have a simple answer for. You will often hear me muttering under my breath that I got a degree so I could stay home and wipe snotty noses, argh. Then there are the days when the kids are being super cranky and ornery and I think to myself, "I don't have to do this! I don't have to be here! I can put you in daycare and work outside of the home." Not to mention the temptation of money, especially when I think about it long enough. My husband and I could be making a combined salary of six digits! Think how fast we could pay off student loans, save up for future college funds, and the oh-so many more things you can do with money. Sigh.

So, how do I deal with it? I can separate it into three reasons for you.

First, I completed my degree for the sake of an education, not a career. Sure, I chose my degree with a career in mind, but in all honesty, I really just love learning. Ever read Harry Potter? You can compare me to Hermione. If I could, I would just be a professional student. There are so many things for me to learn and I want to learn them all. The hardest thing I've done was narrow my education down to one topic. I love going to class, feeling the textbook in hand, being challenged by assignments and exams. I just love it all.

Second, is the confidence that comes with a degree. I have that confidence that comes from completing something difficult. I have the confidence that comes with knowing I could get a job if needed. I can walk in to pretty much any job and not only expect, but demand a higher wage simply for completing a degree. When things started to get a little shaky at my husbands employment last year there was the confidence that I could go back to work and support the family until he found another job. That alone is worth all of my student loans.

Third, and most important in my mind, is the message I am sending to my children. Hopefully they will grow up knowing how important receiving their education is to their father and I, simply because we have received an education. I hope they will make it their goal. I am also sending them the message that they are way more important than a fancy resume with a nice salary. More specifically is the example I am setting for my daughter. I am showing her that an education is important and to receive it, even if you plan on staying home with your children some day.

An education is extremely important to me and something I plan to continue to pursue. It is the best thing I have ever done for myself and I am finding, the best thing I have done for my family.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

smirk

Because of where my oldest's preschool is located, there's a good chunk of very well-to-do families that send their kids there. You know what I've discovered?...

Money doesn't buy cute kids.
{smirk}

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I will not...

I will not kill my children.
I. will. not. kill. my. children.
I will NOT kill my children.
I Will Not Kill My Children.
I will not KILL my CHILDREN.
I will not kill my children.
I will not kill my children.
[cue the deep breath]

Here's hopin' my children make it to another morning. It's 10:00am and already one of those days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too sexy!

To run with Whitney's theme in the past couple of posts, I wanted to bring up sexiness. One of the things I miss the most is that feeling of being sexy. Remember what it was like to be at the store with your girlfriends picking up something as mundane as milk, but knowing you look hot doing it and that the group of guys who are getting eggs have stopped to look at you and your girlfriends?

Yeah, I barely remember myself. I now go to the store hoping I don't find snot on my butt (isn't it lovely when your toddler is just at that right height to wipe his nose on your bum?), smelling like spit-up, and feeling grody from all of the slobber, stickiness, and food that has been wiped on me throughout the day. I'm lucky to look half-way decent let alone sexy!

But then I get in my car. See, there is something special about being behind the wheel of a car. The power, the speed, the radio blaring. The fact that you are going just fast enough so that people see there is a cute girl behind the wheel, but not that she has pee on her shirt (oh, and if I roll my windows down it makes my hair look "wind-teased"). Stopping at a light and a cute guy pulls up next to you smiles and nods and you realize - he hasn't seen the kids in the backseat! I'm just a random twenty-five year old girl who, yes, will drag-race you to the next light. (Did I mention I have a bit of a lead foot?)

Ah yes, the car is the one place, that no matter what, I can feel sexy. What really makes me feel sexy is my husband. He loves to let me drive and whenever I pick him up from work he can't help but comment "You look sexy" and then give me light kisses on my neck.

So, tell me, are there times you feel sexy?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Got a Question?

Want to learn a little bit more about us? Want us to discuss a certain topic? Read something lately that you would love to hear what our opinion on the matter is? If so, put your question or topic idea in the formspring box in the right column.

We can write about what we think is interesting all day long, but even more fun would be to hear from you, our loyal readers. Direct the questions to one of us or both of us. Ask us something personal or not, we don't care, just ask. We will answer the questions as often as possible and as direct as possible.

So, bring it on like Donkey Kong. (yes, I'm feeling a tad-bit cheesy today).

Monday, October 4, 2010

I heard this song today and it reminded me of my last post. So...here's to the hope that we can all learn how to flirt like our husbands' teenage dreams once again.



ps-yes, I know there's an official music video version of this song, but I much prefer the live version. As an added bonus, it's significantly less skanky.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

what I miss most (part II)

You know what else I miss most about being single?

Flirting.

You see, I was a dang. good. flirt. I practically oozed hair flips, teasing smiles, and batting eyes from my pores, I swear it (ask Aubrey, she was there for it all). Being more then a bit of a coquette came so naturally to me, it might as well have been breathing. You see, not only was I good at it, but I absolutely loved doing it. Apparently, as the comments from my last what I miss most post led me to believe, so did a whole heck of a lot of you.

I adored the kind of flirting that Jennae mentioned in her comment, the casual flirting with the waiter, random guy at the store, etc. It was such a rush to know that someone found you funny, attractive, and put an extra bounce in my step (or should I say swing in my walk? ;). Then, of course, there was the more serious sort of flirting...the kind you did with a boyfriend or a friend you'd hope would become something more. That was the type of flirting where I pulled out all the stops. It was completely exhilarating...and often led to the type of butterfly-inducing make-out sessions that MeKayla and Liberty mentioned in their comments. The whole thing would just make me feel dazzling, beautiful, and witty. I would just sit back and soak the whole experience up like a sponge.

Now, for some reason, it's just not the same. Don't get me wrong, I'm still head-over-heels in love with my husband. He'll still occasionally chase me around the kitchen with water in his mouth and I've been known to put notes in his lunch (and not just to chew him out because he forgot to take out the garbage...again), but somehow the glitter of flirting is gone. I think, like Catherine alluded to in her comment, the surprise and suspense has pretty much gone...to the bedroom, that is ;) Not to be overt, but I think the fact that there is an actual ending to the game makes the whole thing a lot harder to play. I think I'm just less motivated to pull out my big flirting guns when I know that the end is going to be the same regardless of how hard I work to get it there. I like to hope, however, that maybe, just maybe I can bring this one back a little into things. Maybe a few more real live, out of the house dates and a few less TV shows while wearing pajamas might make a difference. A girl can dream, right?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

what I miss most (part I)

You know what I miss most about being single?

Dancing.

Now I'm not talking professional or even serious dancing...just the "getting your groove on" type. Serious or not, however, the mere thought of a good ol' hip-shakin' dance makes my heart ache something fierce. I don't know why, but it seems once I got married my opportunities for shaking my booty anywhere other then my kitchen just disappeared. I can count on one hand how many time I've done real-live public dancing since tying the know. O.n.e. h.a.n.d. folks, in over 6 years of marriage. Coming from someone who would go to at least one official dance a month in my single days (not to mention the innumerable spontaneous dances that seem to pop up like daisies when you're young), that is a drastic drop. I don't know that things are really going to change anytime soon. As I wasn't really the clubbing type pre-marriage (most of mine were done at at church or school functions or friends' houses), it seems a little silly to start that up three kids later. I've toyed with the idea of trying out a dance class (I just looove the idea of belly dancing), but lack of money and time have always kiboshed that. Really, though, it's not organized dancing I'm looking for. Instead, I long for the times when I could stand in a crowd of hot, sticky bodies and let the music move my body. Hip-hop, techno, country, oldies, even the ever-difficult-to-dance-to alternative...I loved and still love them all. And so, 6 years into my dance-less existence, I find myself, like a sneaky addict, trying to get a few mini-hits in when I can (in the car on the way to preschool, next to the stove stirring dinner, in my bedroom while getting dressed)...and still mourning the loss of it all.


How 'bout y'all? What do you miss most?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FYI: Recall

There's been a massive Similac recall for all of you who use formula or know someone who uses formula.

The formula I just bought yesterday is in this category.

To see if your formula is recalled go here: http://similac.com/recall/lookup.aspx

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sick Husband

My husband stayed home sick from work yesterday. He caught the respiratory virus that is going around and of course thought he was dying. Does anyone else's husband do this?

I was nice and made him breakfast, drugged him up, and took the kids out to the Zoo that morning so he could rest in peace and quiet. I was kind of excited to have my husband home, even if he was an invalid.

Then I realized how much having my husband home disrupts my day. Not only did I have my children demanding my attention, but now had my sick husband demanding my attention. He wanted to cuddle and watch movies all day since he wasn't feeling good, which would have been fine if our very active children would have desired the same thing. I felt like I couldn't get anything done. My email went unchecked, the house was ignored, and the kids wanted Daddy to play with them. My routine was completely gone.

By mid-afternoon I wanted him to go back to work. Instead I took a nice, long, hot shower. I was going to get some benefit out of him being at home! Does anyone else have this problem? Husbands disrupting the weekday schedule?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Whatever you do, don't drink the icky soap.

Yesterday evening, in the post-dinner rush (which is nothing like the pre-dinner rush, the pre-bedtime rush, the lunchtime rush, or the mid-morning rush, of course), Toddler mysteriously disappeared. I found her a short time later trying to wipe off her tongue with our kitchen towel. I followed her into the bathroom where she tried to wash out her mouth. When I asked her what was the matter, she informed me "soap icky." I agreed that yes, soap was icky, that she probably shouldn't eat it again in the future and went on my merry way. I know, I know, I probably should've been at least slightly concerned, but I had a Ralphie-esque from The Christmas Story picture running through my head enabling me to dismiss all worries ("It... It 'twas... soap poisoning!").

It wasn't until a couple of minutes later that I began to suspect a bigger problem. I picked Toddler up and noticed a distinct un-soap like smell on her breath so I told her to lead me to the "icky soap." Turns out what she decided to guzzle wasn't soap...but hand sanitizer.


big oops.

Figuring now was a good time for alarm, versus my usual live and let live mothering philosophy, I called in the cavalry...Poison Control (bless their hearts, they've been there for me countless times). We went through the stats: up to .5 oz of hand sanitizer (she emptied what was left in the bottle) of 63% ethyl alcohol in a 20-21lbs 22mo old (yes, she's small) equals what could possibly be one very drunk toddler. In the worst case scenario (where she drank everything left in the bottle), she would've had an alcohol blood level of .12something. To give all you other non-drinkers out there a reference point, the legal blood alcohol limit is .08. Let's just say she most likely would not pass the Walk Down The Line test. Brent (nice, non-judgmental Poison Control worker) told me to watch for staggering, extreme drowsiness, vomiting, or even table dancing.

As luck would have it, Scarlett had managed to spit out most of the hand sanitizer she put in her mouth and the aforementioned symptoms never came to pass (thank heavens). While she might have been a little tipsy (there was a lot of "ooo, look at the sky" wide-eyed moments going on), she was not, in fact, completely sloshed.

We'll have to leave the shirtless table dancing for some other time.


How about y'all? What's the craziest thing your kid has consumed?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ladies Night

Whitney and I decided it was time for a girl's night out. So, we packed our bags, kissed our husbands good-bye, and went to downtown Kansas City.

We changed our outfits numerous times, ate junk food, got in and out of the car without having to pack around diaper bags, strollers, car seats and kids, and acted like single girls our age do (except for the martinis and one-night stands).

We stayed at the Q Hotel,

walked around the Plaza,

and grabbed a bite to eat at Brio.

We looked at the many fountains in Kansas City and went to the local art museum and drooled over Rodin, Monet, and Oldenburg. What can I say? We had a love affair with art.

Aubrey in front of one of the Plaza's many fountains

One of our favorites painted by Mr. Vincent van Gogh himself
*dreamy sigh*

Badminton, anyone?

Whitney marching along with the metal pedestrians

We talked about EVERYTHING under the sun, stayed up past 2am, and just sat back and enjoyed ourselves.

It was exactly what we needed and I highly recommend it to others. What do you need? Here's a couple ideas: A best friend... or two... or three. A nice hotel, go ahead and spoil yourselves, especially when splitting the costs. Junk food (you know, the kind you gorged yourselves on as teenagers) and a couple very fun public place you can go and really enjoy without the kids. The only rule: no guilt. Don't feel like you're leaving your family behind, chances are the kids are having some great bonding time with their dads, and you will be coming home a much happier Mom.

One last thing: a BIG thank you to our husbands for encouraging our little weekend and letting us shrug off the Mom-ness for 24 hours. Where would we be without your love and support?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Consolation Prize

I've decided that when a Little Old Lady tells you that your children are beautiful, it's really her way of consoling you for the fact that they are also terribly ill-behaved.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

When Mama ain't happy...

Yesterday, in the immortal words of Alexander, I was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I even kinda, sorta wanted to move to Australia. all. by. myself.


I ranted, I raved, I eerily resembled a shrieking banshee, I'm sure. At least in the eyes of my children, anyway. My four year old even had the balls to inform me that I was "being a mean, mean mommy." The brave child and I then decided we were going to start over. I was going to try to be nice and he was going to attempt to be slightly more cooperative. I told him that I was going to do the dishes and he could pick up his room like I had previously been begging him to do and then we could see if we couldn't have a fun afternoon.

He retorted that I was, "still being a mean, mean mommy." I told him even nice mommies make their kids clean their rooms.

Ya know what, though? After about 20 more minutes of bellyaching, he actually picked up his room. A bit after that my 3 year old told me I was wonderful. Then the 21 month old went down for a nap and the older two actually helped me pick up a bit and then watched a movie quietly. If I hadn't seen the change for myself I would've thought that a Stepford Wives-like switch had happened. Instead, in reality, my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day somehow managed to turn into quite a pleasant one.

Now, I know this was more of an anomaly versus everyday life. I know that nine times out of ten I can be the nicest or not so nicest mom ever and my kids will continue on in their previously established moods. However, just this once, I was reminded that the saying, "When Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy," goes both ways. That sometimes, when I'm not happy, my children aren't happy...and when I am happy, my children might actually decide to be happy too.

So, while this insight most likely won't cause any huge tidal waves of change in my little corner of the world, I'm hopin' that maybe, just possibly, it might cause a bit of a ripple effect. Maybe the next time I'm having an Alexander-worthy bad day, I can just decide to stop.

stop the yelling.
stop the crying.
stop the threats.

and see if I can't just start the day over.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stressed

I've been a bit stressed lately. Why... is a topic for another day. Today's topic is the result of stress. Sometimes when stressed I get depressed. I shut-down. I don't want to do anything, see anyone, or talk to anyone. This happens rarely and is usually coupled with something else (ahem, pregnancy hormones pumping through my body). Normally I get agitated and focus my energies into cleaning.

And I clean and clean. In two days alone I cleaned my kitchen, living room, laundry (this included folding and putting away the clothes, which I hate), swept and mopped my entire house (which is no small feat considering my entire house, except for the bedrooms, is a combination of laminate and tile flooring), and dusted. All of this on top of my day-to-day taking care of the kids, making dinner, and the hours I've spent outside of the home attending to other things. What makes it even better is I haven't given in to the second part of my stress-ness - eating junk food. I like my comfort food and have been craving a nice juicy burger all week. Instead I've made dinner at home and kept within our new healthy-living eating habits. Tonight's menu: Veggie burgers, hopefully it will curb my burger craving. Hopefully.

My husband has said I need to get out by myself, maybe go to Barnes & Noble or something. However, due to obligations in the evenings between the two of us this hasn't happened yet. Maybe it's time to take this energy to the spare bedroom and finish unpacking and finally set up my office?

All of this has made me curious - what do other people do when they are stressed? Are you a cleaner like me? Or do you curl up with a pint of ice cream and a good chick-flick? And how do you manage your stress? Do you have a hobby that helps take your mind off things? Or do you go drool over all of the books at Barnes & Noble?

Friday, August 6, 2010

a plea for help

I know I don't usually go this route with my posts, but my good friend Mekayla asked me to help some good friends of hers, Steve and Nikki Gutierrez, and I'm more then willing to in any way I can.

Steve and Nikki were married on May 25th of this year. Less then two months into their marriage and just barely after they moved into their newly purchased home, Steve was in a very serious motorcycle accident. The other driver was cited, but Steve almost lost his life and then almost lost his right arm. At this point in time, it is believed that his arm will never properly function again. Other major injuries include a fractured skull, fractured vertebrae in his lower neck, a broken arm between his elbow and shoulder, and damaged ligaments in his left knee, not to mention innumerable cuts, bruises, and contusions.

The results of this poor couple's bad luck? Steve is going to need a lot of physical and occupational therapy and he likely won't be able to work for months or year (and even then having to deal with a damaged right arm). Nikki, his wife, has already had to miss a lot of work and is likely to continue having to miss a lot of work as her husband will require almost constant attention, especially in the upcoming months. To top it off, they estimate the medical bills alone could exceed $1 million dollars, only about one-third of which will be paid for by insurance, at best.

What can we do to help? Here's a few ideas...

First off, a website has been created for the couple at http://helpsteveandnikki.com/. Go there to find more detailed information, pictures, and updates as well as multiple ways to help support them both financially and emotionally.

Feel free to donate whatever you're comfortable with, even if it's just a few dollars. A few dollars from a lot of people can make a big difference!

Help to spread the word! Tell others about the website, become a fan of their facebook page, tell your friends and family Steve and Nikki's story, and so forth. There's also a list of possible ways to help spread the word on the website.

Offer words of encouragement to Steve and Nikki through the form on their website or via facebook. They've really been touched and encouraged by all of the comments so far. They literally had hundreds of fans the first day the facebook page went live at the end of last week and it continues to grow every day. It has been such a blessing to them!

Lastly, any positive thoughts or prays you can send their way are always, always welcome. I'm sure they need all the help they can get!

Thanks so much for your time and listening ear everyone! Here's the website for y'all one more time: http://helpsteveandnikki.com/

Monday, August 2, 2010

Where's Eye of The Tiger when I need it?

Recently I've taken up running. Shocking, I know. I enjoy my runs for the most part: they're a much-needed time-out before the littles wake up, there's the mild feeling of superiority one gets when healthy habits are being established, and, as an added bonus, I get to have the occasional guy check me out in my workout duds.

There is one thing that my morning runs are missing, however...

Music.

Those rare occasions in my life when I worked out regularly always had some kind music to go along with it, most likely because I'm a dance/aerobics girl. So, I miss it. To make a long ramble longer, what I'm really doing is asking for suggestions. What do you work out to? What gets your blood pumping and your feet moving? I have a few I like, but they're more circa 2002 (which would be the approximate time of my last I work out :P) and getting a little stale. So, how 'bout you?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Getting my craft-on... or not

I've never been particularly crafty. I once tried to sew shorts, one leg ended up longer than the other. Then there was my watermelon pillow, it looked like someone had taken "bites" out of it. There was the doll I made for my mother that she threw away because she mistook it for trash. Nobody ever wants to be on my team when we play Pictionary.

It never really bothered me before. Okay, so I didn't have an ounce of craftiness in me, that's what Hobby Lobby is for, right? But then I got married and started having kids. And my friends got married and started having kids. Suddenly I realized how crafty my friends are - I didn't even know Whitney crocheted until she made a blanket for my son! Shouldn't surprise me really, she always was the "artsy" one.

Then my Mom started in, "look at these cute curtains you can sew for your baby's room," "those pants are really too long on your son, why don't you hem them up?" "You bought this sign when you could have made it using the Cricut..." Then my friends started getting together for "scrapbook nights" and "craft nights." It was just getting worst. I mean, going over to my friends houses and seeing their cute decor or reading about there latest project on their blogs was one thing, but now it were infiltrating my social life!

And so I started having an identity crisis. I was avoiding the craft nights, crying over the picture that my husband hung too high on the wall, stressing over how blank my walls look because I don't have an eye for placement of pictures, and worrying that my bookshelf didn't look "balanced" because all it had on it was books.

I just always thought that I would magically become crafty, talented and clean when my children entered this world, but the truth is, I'm still same old me. My house has a slight disorganized feel to it with stacks of books, magazines, and papers that get dropped wherever I was reading it last. There's always clothes on the floor, toys scattered throughout the hall, and some new cooking project spread on kitchen countertops. I've embraced my bookshelves that only have books on it (I love my books) and my blank walls. I go to craft night to socialize and then drop by Hobby Lobby to buy a professionally made and really cute wreath to hang on my door.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Swagger Wagon

While watching the "Dad Life" video from Church on the Move, I came across this video, and well, it was too funny not to share. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Need a Reminder

Blame it on the heat, the close age of my kids, the constant barrage of company, blame it on whatever you want; but things have been a bit rough. When things get a bit rough, I remind myself all that is good and well with the world, or in this case, motherhood. So here goes:

*The smiles and hugs first thing in the morning. The excitement of discovering their surroundings. The thrill (and terror) on their face the first time they roll over. The sound of their laughter. Pausing in my rush to examine a beetle, splash in a puddle, and chase a bird. Listening to the babble and squeals of delight of my children playing together. Rediscovering favorite childhood past times such as playing in the rain and PBJ sandwiches. Watching their faces light up when you come home, or walk into a room after being absent for a few seconds. Seeing the love in their eyes when they see their Daddy. Reading them books. Playing trains. Holding them in my arms. Walking hand-in-hand. Watching them sleep. Feeling like my heart is going to burst from too much love.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Things I wish I had Known

A few of my friends are getting ready to welcome their first child into their homes and join the elite club that is otherwise known as Motherhood. It's made me think about what kind of advice I can give them, so I've compiled a list of things I wish I had known. Some of this stuff you can find in books (but if you're anything like me, you didn't know what to take to heart and what to ignore).

1. Things to bring to the hospital (besides the obvious change of clothing): nursing pads, nursing bra, feminine napkins, comfortable panties (especially if you're having a c-section, you don't want anything resting on your incision), and socks. Some things like feminine napkins and funny looking underwear will be provided to you by the hospital, take advantage of these and don't be afraid to ask for extra ones to take home with you.
2. Speaking of things to bring home with you: ask for extra diapers, changing pads, pacifiers, shirts for baby.
3. Don't be afraid to speak up for yourself in the hospital: if you're in pain ask for medicine, if you're hungry ask for food. Most nurses try to make sure you're well taken care of, but they are human and can't read your mind.
4. Wear your nursing bra at ALL TIMES! At night, at home, at the store, you get the point. Only take it off during showers, obviously. In fact, buy multiple nursing bras because the engorgement period can really make you run through them.
5. Set up a nursing station as well as a diaper changing station. Keep extra nursing pads, Lanolin, a bottle of water (you get really dehydrated while nursing), and crackers close at hand. You might even need washcloths and an extra bra.
6. Diaper changing station should include diapers, wipes, diaper cream (like Desitin or Butt Paste), and an absorbent changing pad. It's amazing what little babies can do.
7. Those first few weeks I would keep a basket for nursing and a basket for changing by my bedside for the midnight feedings. I kept an extra change of clothing for baby too, so I wouldn't have to rummage around trying to find some pajamas while bleary-eyed.
8. It's perfectly normal to not have a clue how to nurse - talk to the Lactation consultant before you leave the hospital to make sure the baby is attaching correctly. (Warning: they (lactation consultants) are very in your business and touchy, just to give you a heads-up in case you are a more private person).
9. Newborn babies make lots of funny, almost scary noises. Especially as they are trying to clear out their lungs of fluids. Remember if your baby is coughing and making NOISE then that means they are getting air, it's when they go all silent and purply-blue on you that it's time to panic.
10. Remember you're not alone. There are plenty of forums, blogs (like this one), and friends who are doing this too. Don't ever feel dumb asking a question or calling your pediatrician. OH and that's one more thing - if your baby is acting funny, and it's obviously not an emergency, and you're not sure if it warrants a doctor's appointment, just call the pediatrician and ask to speak to a nurse. A lot of times they can answer your questions over the phone and let you know if it is even worth coming in to the office.

So, those are just a few things I came up with. Let's hear it ladies - what kind of advice can you pass on to all those first time Moms.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Message From My Father

My father sent me this video this morning. It was a much-needed reminder that even when the world doesn't recognize and appreciate the importance of motherhood and the hard work that goes into it...that our Heavenly Father appreciates it. That He sees us and loves us, especially on the rough days. That He wants to help us raise up their sweet little souls to Him, He wants to help us find the patience to last the day, we just have to ask Him for that help.

So often the world gives us a line about "being a mother is hard work," but it's just another platitude to make us feel like they're recognizing us...but they don't. They dismiss what we do, insisting that we should do and be more, that mothering is something we could just as easily pay other people to do for us, that we're not doing enough or that we're doing too much for our children. But, our Father in Heaven really does recognize us.

I guess that's what this video meant to me. That He sees me and recognizes the work I do. That when no one else is up with me during the 2am feeding...He is. Even if it doesn't seem to matter to anyone else that the floor is dirty 2 seconds after I clean it and the kids don't listen when I try to teach them...that He sees that I tried in the first place.

Thanks for the reminder, Dad...both my Heavenly and Earthly one.



ps-I know, I know, I posted this on my personal blog too. I don't ever double-post like this, but after having thought about it for an hour or so, I decided that this was too important of a message not to share with everyone.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sometimes...

...my children just wear on me. They'll start in with their shrieking, whining, and bickering...and a weight on my chest will settle, dragging me down. They exhaust me. It makes me want to go hide in my room under my covers (which, in fact, is exactly what I do sometimes). I'll find myself begging, pleading with them to please, please just stop and listen to me, unable to muster the energy to push myself into the cacophonous fray. They'll cling and pull on me, crawling up my legs and into my head. Sometimes, I just want to peel them off like uncomfortable clothing, fold them nicely up, and stuff then in my closet. I'd take a deep breath and then go out to lunch, followed by some leisurely shopping. all. by. myself.

...for now, however, I suppose I'll just continue to rely on the occasional popsicle and the insistence that they must eat it outside.

Monday, June 14, 2010

So, when exactly did I become a Ma'am instead of a Miss?

...just wonderin'.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Buying a House

My husband and I recently bought our first house, and needless to say, I learned a lot. I thought I would pass on my new found wisdom (do you feel lucky or what?;). Whether it's your first home or you are a seasoned pro - hopefully there will be something in here for you.

First thing to consider when buying a home is the economy. The economy plays a huge part in how you negotiate, the prices of the homes, and whether or not you can get approved for a loan. Second thing to consider are your preferences and priorities. Both you and your partner need to discuss things like which side of town you want to live on and is it more important than space, how many bedrooms you want, bathrooms you want, and what is important to each of you. For example the kitchen is important to me while my husband wanted nice big living areas - these are the two things that make or break the deal for us. Have a firm idea of what you are both looking for when shopping for a house.

With that in mind here is what I learned:

1. It's a buyer's market, hands-down. We threatened to walk away several times on our offer and each time the seller called saying they would agree to our terms.
2. Even though it's a buyer's market, it's super hard to get approved for a loan. If you do get approved be ready to put down almost twice the normal down payment (especially if you are a first time home buyer, like us). The usual recommended amount is 3%, however we were asked to put down close to 6% (and we have a great credit score). The optimal number is 20% - you avoid PMI with 20% down.
3. Do not get emotionally involved, it's a business transaction. So what if you LOVE the house, if the seller is asking for more than you can afford, be strong and walk away.
4. Pay attention to how long the house has been on the market and look at the history to see why (if it's been out for over a couple of months). Our house had been on the market for over 6 months. This told us a couple of things, one, that we should ask ourselves why, and two, that the owner was probably anxious to get rid of the place (especially when we found it empty) which basically gave us the upper hand.
5. Be fair but firm in your offer, don't insult the seller with an extremely low offer, but do your research and know what you can afford.
6. Things that are negotiable: anything that is wrong with the house, this includes termites, crushed air-ducts, roof repair, etc. Also, you can ask for things to stay including refrigerators, washer/dryers, stoves and dishwashers are usually expected but make sure it is in your contract, and backyard pools, sheds, etc. Don't be afraid to ask for something, you are going to have to live there and you want the initial moving-in to be as pleasant as possible.
7. Put a clause in your initial offer that allows you to re-negotiate if the home inspection finds some major problems. For example, we said that if repairs came to over $700, then we were out of contract and could then renegotiate. This was a lifesaver as our inspection found termites, crushed air-ducts, and a few other problems that would have put a huge dent in our budget and made an already stressful situation even worst.
8. Get a home inspection. Termite inspections are required by the bank but home inspections are not. I would strongly recommend home inspections. Also, use inspectors that are not associated with the Realtor. Inspectors can overlook things so the Realtor can make the sale. You want an inspector who works for you not the Realtor.
9. Be aware of costs: you will pay a Good Faith payment usually $500-$1000, home inspections which can run anywhere from $150-$250, and closing costs which include termite inspections and appraisals.
10. Finally, and most importantly, do your research! Research the area of town, the neighborhood, the school districts, the going prices for other homes in the area, price per square foot, the size of other homes in the area, and have a firm grip on your budget.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Date Night Dilemma

A friend and I have recently started up a casual babysitting swap. She has three kids, I have three kids, all roughly the same age who manage to get along as well as any 6 kids can, ages 5 and under. We have similar parenting styles, our kids have similar temperaments, not to mention similar schedules too. It's pretty much a match made in heaven. There has been one bump in the road that I didn't plan on, however...

What exactly is one suppose to do when given the chance to have a regular date night? For so long, darling husband and I have only really gone out for planned events (get-togethers, long-awaited movie releases, holidays, family events, that sort of thing). So, when left with a few hours on our own...we end up semi-stumped. There's the ever-present option of dinner out or a movie, but those get old quick (not to mention pricey). I used to think I loved window-shopping on dates, but that was until I had no money and realized window-shopping is not all that fun when you take the shopping part out of the equation. So, what's a girl to do?

What do y'all do on the rare kids-free evening? Also, if you are in the Kansas City area, are there any fun places specifically that you think are worth the occasional splurge? Really, any suggestions (or commiserations) would be greatly appreciated!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Unlocking my child

I have a two year old son. Well, at least he will be two in the next few days. He doesn't talk much. I mean, he babbles a lot, but doesn't say much in actual words. He doesn't really form sentences and has a lot of made-up words that mean something to him and absolutely nothing to me. I can coax words out of him, but he doesn't voluntarily talk. I haven't been too concerned. Sure, other children his age or younger are speaking like little adults, my kid is just moving at his own pace.

I would probably be more concerned if I felt like he wasn't understanding things, but the fact is he understands a lot. I can say, "Son, pick up your toys and put them in your toy box." And he does it. When I say it's bedtime, he runs into his bedroom, grabs his stuffed football and climbs in to bed. He's also very active and figures things out quickly, maybe a little too quickly.

Still, the fact remains that he doesn't speak, and it is frustrating. I can't figure out what he wants sometimes which leads to tears and tantrums. People who are around him less really can't figure out what he wants since they don't pick up on his physical cues as much as I do.

Should I learn sign language? I always thought sign language was a bit overrated and just a new parenting fad. Then my husband's aunt came to visit. She works in early childhood development specifically with deaf children. Naturally she started signing with my son. In a matter of a couple of hours he had learned at least 10 new words and was speaking in short sentences. I'm not talking about he learned the signs for the words - I mean he was literally saying new words. I couldn't believe it. My husband and I sat down and started talking with her. What we found out completely blew us away. Studies are coming out showing that kids need more than one input to learn something. They use their senses to learn (smell, sight, taste, etc). Our son was hearing the words we spoke, watching the way our lips moved, and needed the motor input that sign language brings for his brain to connect everything together. That motor input was the key.

Basically, even though he is not autistic, he learns in much the same way an autistic child learns. I'm not a professional, but the way I understand it is it's like baking cookies. You have all the ingredients sitting on the counter. Separately they don't do anything, but when you combine them together (auditory, visual, and motor skills) they make cookies (or in our case, words).

Needless to say I went to the library and checked out all the toddler signing books and DVDs I could find. As my husband commented, "it's like we've unlocked our child."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Where's a Confessional when I need one?

I refuse to clean our bathtub. My husband does it instead. I'll do the rest of the bathroom, just not the tub. * Much to the Mister's eternal chagrin, I drink out of the carton...regularly. * I definitely don't shower everyday, and sometimes only once every 3 days and just put my hair up the other days. * I don't typically change diapers when they're wet, only when they're dirty (although that only works because I have really poopy kids). * Sometimes I spend the whole day blogging, checking my email, looking up random crap online, and reading, only coming up for air to get after the kids and give them nourishment. * I absolutely loathe most housework. I can do it and do it well (my mom's a clean-freak, so I've been well-trained), but I hate it. * I almost never make my bed. * Sometimes, I wish I hadn't married so young (19). * I'm jealous of girls that went on missions, they seem so accomplished and spiritual. * I'm a zit popper (drives my husband insane). * I was recently released from my primary calling at church and was immensely relieved. I was going crazy working with kids nearly the same age as my own children, and with all the insanity that goes with that. * Sometimes I wish I could show off a little cleavage on occasion. * I pretend to be a good mom who doesn't want to over-schedule her kids, but really I'm just too lazy to have much structure. * I cook fairly involved meals so I don't feel guilty leaving the housework undone. * I'm a little crazy about the state of my tupperware area. Every lid and bottom has a place and shouldn't be moved. * I'm cheap to a fault. * I didn't wear a bra occasionally during my senior year of high school. It was my way of rebelling without actually doing anything too horrible. Now I just wish I still had the boobs for it. * I'm insane when it comes to matching colors. I'll notice a non-matcher item from 20 paces, I swear it. * I exercise with (minor) make-up on. * I secretly like my butt. It's big and round and makes jean-shopping a nightmare, but after years of praise from some black guy-friends I had in high school, I've come to terms with my posterior. * I seriously think my kids are the most hilarious kids ever. Sorry, but I really, truly do believe they're funnier then your kids. Well, unless your name is Liberty...then your kids hilariousity might possibly trump my own. * I still get sick to my stomach when my mom or dad calls me casually into a different room. It's a throw-back from my childhood when that usually meant I was in trouble and they didn't want to alarm me, causing me to flee the scene. * I prefer hairy men to those clean-chested, clean-faced type. Pretty sure my insistence is the sole reason Spencer currently has a goatee.* I think my feet, toes especially are beautiful. They're my very favorite part of my body. * Speaking of which, I think un-painted female toenails are ugly. * I adore candy. I would eat entire bags of it in a single sitting if given the chance. * My house is currently a disaster, but I think I'm going to ignore it and go to the craft store instead.

There now, that was cleansing. Your turn...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Guilt

The other day I found myself alone in my house. This doesn't happen often and while I had a list a mile long of things to do, I found myself aimlessly flipping through channels on the TV just because I could without interruption. This landed me on the Ellen Show with guest Jennifer Lopez. I happen to like Jennifer Lopez and so I stopped to listen to the interview. Jennifer Lopez has twins about the age of my son and so the topic of motherhood came up. Ellen asked Lopez what the biggest surprise of motherhood is, that you always hear about how hard it is but it is worth it all and the best thing anyone has ever done. Lopez thought for a few moments and then gave the best answer I've ever heard. The biggest surprise of motherhood, she said, is the guilt. I found myself shouting yes at the TV. Nobody ever told me about the guilt.

You feel guilty doing something by yourself - whether it's taking a shower or going out for an hour. You feel guilty for not liking your body, for picturing where you would be without kids, for not wanting sex, for wanting to pursue your own dreams and hobbies. You feel guilty when the house isn't clean and if you clean it you feel guilty for taking time from your children to clean. You feel guilty when you serve chicken nuggets, french fries, and corn for the umpteenth time because it is the easy way out and everyone is satisfied. Then there is the guilt at the end of the day as you ask yourself were you the best Mom possible. Maybe I shouldn't have yelled at my two year old as he peed on my bed. Did I give my children enough hugs? Am I teaching them the things that are important for them to succeed in life?

As I write this my youngest is waking up from her nap and I feel guilty that I am not responding immediately. There is even a small amount of guilt that I took time to write this instead of doing my chores.

Nobody told me about the guilt and nobody has told me how to handle the guilt. So, it all builds up until it overflows in tears and hormones, usually directed toward my husband. And as he holds me and tells me it will all be okay I can't help but feel guilty that he had to come home to such an emotional wife.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Look at those Jazz Hands go!

My sister (one of our most faithful HCT readers) referred me to this video, another Anita Renfroe brainchild, after seeing our (A More Real) Love Story post. While I can't quite say that I look forward to having wrinkles, necessarily, I love Anita's healthy, yet hilarious, view on getting older. Enjoy!


Monday, April 26, 2010

(A More Real) Love Story

One of my friends linked me this video and it seriously made my day. It made me laugh...and almost made me cry it was so true to life. Hope you enjoy it half as much as I did!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We are sowing, daily sowing...

I was attending our recent Stake Young Women Leadership Meeting*. While there, we sung the song We Are Sowing, to go along with the idea of how we are helping to grow a garden of strong, spiritual girls. Well, not only did this song remind me of young women...but my thoughts eventually led, as they typically do, to motherhood. The song starts with the line, "We are sowing, daily sowing Countless seeds of good and ill," then goes on to describe all the different places these seeds could be sown. There are the good places, like in "rich, brown furrows, Soft with heaven's gracious rain," and not so good places, like those "cast out in crowded places, trodden under foot of men."


It just reminded me that through the day, I'm sowing seeds inside my children, both with my harsh words and my gentle ones. When I teach my children of Jesus...and when I unintentionally teach my children that yelling is an appropriate way to express emotion. Sorry to be such a downer...but I was actually really comforted while singing the song, because the overall message of it is that even though our good seeds often fall on deaf ears, that some of them really do fall in fertile places...that if we ask the Lord to "bid thine angels guard the furrows Where the precious grain is sown," that he really WILL help us in our teaching of our children and in their ability to listen and learn. It's tough work being a mommy, especially since I often wonder if all my children will do is remember the yells and time-outs and forget the frequent hugs, giggles, and kisses...but this song reminded me that with the not-so-great seeds we sow, we also sow wonderful seeds, "sown in tears and love and prayer." At the end of the day, that's all I can really do. I can go to work in my garden of children and pray for the Lord to help my seeds take root, growing healthy and strong.


*For those of you not members of the LDS church, Young Women is our female version of your typical church youth group and our Stake is our church's organization in the area we live in.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Love Whose Body?


What time is it, Readers?

You guessed it...time for another Media Rant by Whitney.

On the menu this time, my own beloved Vicky S. Let me start off by saying I LOVE Victoria's Secret. I really, truly do. I love their bras. I love their lingerie. I love their body creams. What I can do without is their recent hypocrisy. VS has launched a mini-line, titled 'Love Your Body' within their best-selling Body line. At first I was sort of thrilled to hear this. I envisioned ads containing women of all shapes and sizes a la Dove's Real Beauty Campaign. Ya know: young, old, short, tall, curvy, boyish, etc. Come to find out...mmmm, not so much. In fact, the ads contain nothing more then a line up of, you guessed it, perfectly proportioned models.


So, whose body exactly am I supposed to be loving? I can tell ya right now I'm not loving looking at stick-thin models with legs up to here, yet still magically having D-size boobs. Yeah, not in love with that at all, actually.


To top it off, the campaign includes a video of the models discussing all the different parts of a man's body they love. Again, how is this supposed to help me love my body? Watching a panty-clad model lounge about discussing how much she loves a man's tummy (while pointing out her own amazingly toned abs for inspection), does not make me LOVE my very own post-baby body. So, next time you attempt to help women around the world love THEIR bodies, why don't you start by actually loving THEIR bodies yourself? Sorry VS, but you reeeeally missed the mark this time.


For those who are interested...

The 'What do you love about a man's body' Video:



The 'Love Your Body' Commercial:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Breaking Point

I'm reaching the breaking point with my son. Seriously reaching the point where I want to return my kids. Can I return these for my old body, my sanity, and a new pair of hot high heels? Starburst jelly beans (which are my favorite and you can only find at Easter time) are my cigarettes (don't smoke or drink, so it's candy for me).

We are reaching the terrible two's. Some people say it only gets worst from here. I'm inclined to believe them. He's broken two of my dishes, tried to eat sunscreen, went around eating the old bread I had thrown out for the birds, covered himself head-to-toe in dirt (of course he was wearing his NICE clothes too), and tried dancing in the bathtub. Normally this would just be a normal day. I might feel exasperated, tired, a little irate, but I could deal with it. But nooOOoo - we have to add the hitting, kicking, throwing, and the temper tantrums. The full out, throws himself on the floor (sometimes with his little fists pounding the floor), screaming and crying tantrums. I'm becoming a pro at getting a diaper on a running, screaming 2 year old.

Today I wanted to throw myself on the floor and join him in the tantrum. The thought of what people would think of a mother and her son prostrate on the floor of WalMart screaming and crying is enough to make me smile (oh right - and keep from doing it). Then there's the crying. If it isn't one kid it's the other. The crying alone would make most people break.

Last night I went grocery shopping - by myself! Two blissful hours without kids. I came home to a giant hug from my husband. Apparently our daughter screamed the entire time for him while he tried to wrestle our son to bed. "I don't know how you do it, but thank you. You are a great Mom." He said. Today, I don't know if I can do it. So, I'm taking a very. deep. breath.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The "Those Moms" Myth

So often we, as mothers, heck as women, base our feelings about ourselves on a quick comparison to the other women and mothers around us. We view that ten minute interaction with them, and then continue to compare ourselves to it (typically negatively) for the rest of the day. Why do we do this to ourselves? Surely we know that what we're seeing can't possibly be the real them? Don't we? I realized during a conversation with my sister the other day, that I just might be one of "those moms" to a few women I know. Heaven forbid anyone think I'm a Super Mom. I'm here to tell you it's all crap. C-R-Aaaaa-P. To prove it, I'll be the first one on the chopping block:

Things That Other Moms Might See:
*I make my own bread.
*I sew.
*I cook a real dinner everyday, basically from scratch.
*My girls always have bows in their hair.
*I always have makeup on and my hair mostly done.
*I celebrate the minor holidays with my kids. St. Patrick's Day, Mardi Gras, that sort of thing.
*I blog regularly.
*When the need arises, I can do all sorts of other crafty things.

Now, let's take a look at that list again...

*I make my own bread.
(and somehow manage to under-cook, over-cook, or otherwise bungle it up regularly.)
*I sew.
(and would be lying to say I haven't cursed at my machine more then once while doing it.)
*I cook a real dinner everyday, basically from scratch.
(and somehow manage to burn, over-salt, under-salt, or over-garlic it regularly, not to mention it doesn't really matter what I put on the table, my kids aren't touching it with a ten foot pole.)
*My girls always have bows in their hair.
(and scream the entire time I'm putting them in, causing me to scream back at them. Oh, and if you ever see us at home versus out and about, chances are not only will they not have bows in, but they'll most likely be naked too.)
*I always have makeup on and my hair mostly done.
(that would only be because I reeealllly don't like how I look otherwise. That and I have the skin and hair of a greasy, mid-puberty teenager)
*I celebrate the minor holidays with my kids. St. Patrick's Day, Mardi Gras, that sort of thing.
(which, really, is only to give me something to fill up my very blank schedule with. My husband has his work projects to work towards, I have Cinco de Mayo.)
*I blog regularly.
(and spend waaaay too much time on the computer doing other things that don't fit in the "it's okay because it's an electronic journal" category.)
*When the need arises, I can do all sorts of other crafty things.
(and my house, routine, and children go entirely to pot for the week of said craft.)

...not only all those other things, but I yell at my kids...a lot, actually. Not only do I yell at them, but some days I long to return them to the counter in exchange for my pre-baby boobs, belly, and schedule. In fact, (dare I say it?) there are a lot of days where I really don't even like them, like at all. My house is nearly always a mess. Not just the "oh, don't look close, because I swear I have cookie crumbs on my spotless floor" sort of mess, more like "it qualifies as a national disaster, let's call in the National Guard" sort of mess. I nearly never dust and only scrub my bathtub when it's really, really gross. I live on string cheese during the day because I'm too harried to eat. I never exercise (and only manage to lose the baby weight because of the aforementioned string cheese diet). My kids are picky brats who manage to get away with murder all too often. In fact, during everything on that silly list up there, there's a good chance that my house is a mess and I'm yelling at my kids while doing any of them. Let's look at a few of the other moms I know:

Mom 1:
Has absolutely gorgeous kids that she dresses to the nines. Hair combed, curled, the whole she-bang. Not only are her kids gorgeous, but she's gorgeous. In fact, her house is gorgeous too. Yep, she's definitely one of "those moms".
(and her kids watch too much TV, she hates cleaning, spends a heck of a lot of time getting her and her kids ready to leave the house, yells at her kids a lot, and doesn't like to cook dinner if it involves more then 3 ingredients.)

Mom 2:
Manages to beat us all with having 4 fabulous children. They're adorable and always put-together. Oh, and her house...absolutely spotless.
(and she sometimes daydreams of stuffing all her children in a small box under her bed....and then leaving for the beach to go lay in the sun and read a book. The occasional
curse word? yep, she says it. And you guessed it...she yells at her kids too.)

Mom 3:
Has an adorable child, is always unruffled and patient, just a very put-together, on top of it girl. Not only that, but she's writing a book and has a small online business.
(...actually, I haven't figured out Mom 3's weaknesses yet...but because she's human, I'm absolutely positive she has some of them).

My point is not to point out the flaws of other moms, but to remind us all that they have them in the first place. Chances are, that those women that you're comparing yourself to are comparing themselves to half a dozen other women that too. Heck, you're probably one of the moms she's comparing herself negatively to too. None of us are perfect, none of us are Super Moms...actually, scratch that last statement. We're ALL Super Moms, simply because we show up each morning (especially if it's at 2:00am for nursing) and give ourselves to our children all day long. We breathe, sweat, cry, live for our children. We have the single hardest, most important job on earth because their world really does depend on us. So, instead of beating ourselves up, let's just try to build each other up, remembering that we're all in this together and we're all just trying to do our best. So, next time you see one of "those moms," instead of making faces at her in your head, give her a big ol' hug because she's probably having a bad hair day and has spit-up down her back.