Thursday, June 30, 2011

And The Rockets' Red Glare ...

Dear Persons Celebrating the Fourth of July Early,

I understand the obsession with watching things explode in the sky. Bright colors! Neat!

However. I do not understand the obsession with watching things explode in the sky prematurely, before the actual holiday for which they were intended.

Wait, do you even know the holiday of which I speak? Or do you just see "Bart's Fireworks" on the side of the road and get giggity giddy because Firework Day is closely approaching? Yeehaw!

You see, this is where I think we have a lack of understanding for each other. I have small children who need to sleep. It's just something they do. Large explosions in the sky can prevent that from happening. Also, I am pregnant, which can just make me plain mean, and when you couple a mean lady with two sleepy children, it's dangerous. More dangerous than, say, explosions in the sky.

So, tonight, as I type this amidst the fireworks show outside of my house, I would like to say that if I wake up to a toddler poking me in the eyeball because he was awakened by the aforementioned blasts, then this firecracker will be at your front door to wag my finger in your face and to confiscate your explosives until Monday.

Until then, you can light matches.

Yay! Liberty!

Most Affectionately Yours,


Thursday Randomness.

* I am now obsessed with making s'mores in the microwave. I stack a little chocolate on top of a graham cracker and top it off with marshmallow. Then I start the microwave and wait until the marshmallow begins to balloon up ... then I snatch it out and place another graham cracker on top. It all melts together. Amazing.

* I have recently discovered the joy that is makeup remover wipes. Confession: I do not wash my face before bed. Thusly, these wipes are what I believe to be the next best thing.

* I am eleven weeks today. I can't believe next week I'll be out of my first trimester. Crazy.

* At one point today I was cleaning coffee out of the carpet, opening a can of corn, and texting. I'm not sure how all three were accomplished at the same time, but they were, and I am proud.

* I made manicotti for the first time last night. Huge hit.

* The nurse checked my chart today and confirmed that this was my fourth pregnancy, correct? I told her yes, that the first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. She then raised an eyebrow and proceeded to tell me I have been pregnant every year since 2007. I think my head exploded.

* Naomi just crawled in with a graham cracker in her hand. She found my stash.

* Speaking of my daughter who inhales everything, she is still in the 28th percentile for her weight. I'm fairly certain she will be her father, who had knobby knees until after college.

* Caleb just crawled in my lap and we took this picture. I love him so.

* Now this same Cub wants to sing a song. So, see you later!

Have a lovely day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Tip For Tuesday.

Don't decide to wash your sheets right before dinner. You will forget about them and when bedtime rolls around you will find them soggy in the washer.

Experience is speaking at 10:27 when this lady would much rather be sleeping than blogging.

The End.

Have a lovely day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Peace, Wonderful Peace.

On Friday we headed to the lake with the kiddos and spent the afternoon playing in the sunshine. By the time bedtime for Naomi rolled around, she was ready. Exhausted and cranky, we tucked her into the pack 'n play in her grandparents' room where she promptly conked out. An hour later, her cries could be heard echoing through the house, so we went in and got her and tried to figure out what was wrong. We decided it was because she was in a new place (we haven't been to the lake house since she was a few months old) and decided that maybe upstairs in the closet in our room would better suit her, since it would be pitch black. Pitch black usually works in a crisis situation.

So I lugged the pack 'n play upstairs and settled her down. Within a few minutes, she was asleep. Ahh. I stayed up a few hours later and finally headed to bed around 11:00, the first one to go to bed (I married a family of night owls). I crawled into bed with Cub asleep in the trundle next to our bed and Naomi asleep in the closet. My eyelids were heavy from the fun but busy day (and from my daily task of gestating) and I lazily checked Facebook before drifting off to sleep.

A few moments later I heard Naomi fuss.

But it wasn't an angry fuss. It was a happy "I just woke up!" noise. As in, "Wow, what a great nap I just had!" I pulled the pillow over my head and pretended I couldn't hear her. Surely, she would simply conk out once she realized it was still sleepy time right? I laid there and heard her continue to talk to her blanket and then she began speaking very angrily to her blanket and then she began to cry. For fear that she might wake up her brother, I decided I needed to go get her. By now I was beyond tired and a little cranky myself as I swung my tired legs over the side of the bed and slumped to the closet door. I opened it and picked up my little ray of sunshine, who cooed happily in my arms. I mumbled that she really needed to go back to sleep. I'm sure she understood me very clearly, based on her rapid arm movements and giggling.

So, I did the Mom Swing and slowly rocked her in my arms back and forth, standing in the dark closet, singing our lullaby for Mouse, "You Are My Sunshine". I sang it softly and she settled into my arms. I felt her grow heavier and heavier until I was sure she was asleep, or at least close to it. I gently leaned over the pack 'n play and set her inside when her little eyes popped open and she started to cry. I scooped her up again and started rocking back and forth and singing, barely keeping my eyes open. I lost my place with the lyrics at some point and I'm sure the words sounded like "You aw ma sumshinbth" as they slurred with my ever-growing weariness. I felt her grow heavy again but I didn't want to risk a premature landing, so I sat on the closet floor, criss-cross applesauce, rocking Naomi in my arms.

And I'm not sure if it was a second wind or a just a Mommish change of heart, but I was suddenly very content there on the closet floor. My usually-squirmy baby girl was lying still in my arms, snuggled close to me in the darkness. My change of heart changed my tune and I found myself singing "Count Your Blessings" to my little Mouse, softly while she started to fall asleep.

And then I started to feel a little badly for Mouse. She had had a long day, she was way overtired, and now she had to sleep in a closet. I couldn't blame her for having a rough time falling asleep. And again I found my tune changing to the chorus of "Wonderful Peace", a hymn that my family has sung for years:

Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace
Coming down from the Father above,
Sweep over my spirit forever I pray,
In fathomless billows of love!

All I wanted for my daughter at that moment was peace and I sang it over her in the darkness. It's hard to explain the poignancy of that moment, except that it was one of those moments where everything else disappeared and it was just she and I, in the quiet, together. Even after her heavy eyelids shut, I rocked her quietly and closely there on the floor for a while longer, cherishing the moment.

She stayed asleep all night.

As I thought about this today in the sunshine of the afternoon, it all seemed to sound a bit dramatic, what with hoping for peace and being so tired in the late hours of the night ... but the daylight always seems to make the nighttime moments seem insignificant. But the nighttime moments are significant. And I found myself looking at that moment with a sense of gratitude--the joy of cradling my precious girl. When I did finally lay her down, I crawled over my big boy in his bed, snuggling his Nigh-Nigh, bedheaded and sleeping with his mouth wide open, and when I pulled my covers up to my chin, my heart was full. And my husband, who had been downstairs and had missed all of the action, completed that fullness when he crawled into bed only moments after myself. My little family, my whole world, contained in one dark room.

I can sacrifice some sleep to appreciate that.

Have a lovely day.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Love {Bubbly Bread}.

The other night I casually checked my email and saw that I had a message from my Mom. I opened it to find a recipe for some bread I had eaten when I visited her last and I can't exactly explain what happened to me, except that at that moment, that very moment, I HAD TO HAVE THAT BREAD. Something about it ... the texture, the taste ... the thought of it completely consumed my brain.

I had been fighting a cold all day but there was no keeping this preggo down. I jumped in my super van and headed to the grocery store, coughing into my elbow and clutching the steering wheel with Cruella DeVille-esque determination. Once inside, my makeupless and showerless self flew the aisles, grabbing what I needed, and made it home in record time. I whipped up the bread and sat on the couch tapping my fingers impatiently while it baked.

Let me say for the record, I do not bake.

If a recipe card says "let it rise", I toss it over my shoulder and thumb through until I find one that says "So easy a gorilla could do it" and even then, my chances are slim. To me, baking involves a bit of science, a subject of which I am a terrible student. I have only two things to which I claim to have any baking snobbery: 1) I insist on making my own buttercream frosting and 2) I make some mean Russian Tea Cakes. But that's it. Oh, and I make my own pancake mix. But then I burn the pancakes, so it doesn't count.

So! Baking. This particular recipe makes me giddy because it does not involve rising and it does involve sugar. Score! The bread is dense and sweet. Amidst my crave-tastic fury, I did manage to take a few (lame) pictures with my phone to document the occasion (hence the pictures will have a yellow-ish and blue-ish tint, sorry), as I figured the outcome would make decent blog fodder. And, because the recipe is too easy not to share. I did not burn the bread but instead descended upon it with maniacal fury, with the wide eyes of my husband staring aghast through the whole feeding process. The bread was hot and sweet and chewy and YUM. I politely offered my husband a piece but snatched it back mid-bite and devoured it. It was fierce, folks.

Fierce and AMAZING.

So! The recipe:

3 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 sugar (or 1/3 cup if it makes you feel better)

12 ounces Perrier

3 tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a loaf pan and set it aside.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and sugar.

Add the Perrier.

Combine. Drool.

Dump in loaf pan (the mixture will be sticky). Drizzle melted butter on top. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Ta-Da! Deliciousness! The final product won't be this ... yellow. It was the camera, remember.

This is all that was left when I started this post and, sadly, that perky orange plate is now empty.

But this happy tummy is quite full. :)

Have a lovely weekend, friends. And enjoy.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I realized I never wrote a Father's Day post, so we'll go ahead and call this one it.

This is one of the best memories I have of my Dad.

When I was a kid, I really wanted a slip 'n slide. A specific slip 'n slide, in fact, that was advertised throughout morning cartoons and the TGIF line-up. I can't remember the exact name of this particular piece of slippery plastic, but I remember the sing-songy slogan that accompanied the commercial: "You run! You slide! You hit the bump, and then you DIVE!"


On the commercial, the slip 'n slide looked enormous. It showed teenager-sized kids running at full speed and then in slow motion it showed them landing on the slip 'n slide with huge waves of water pouring over them. After sliding down the massive slide, they would hit a huge bump and go plunging into the pool attached at the end. Sheer watery perfection.

My Dad knew how much I wanted this slip 'n slide and since California summers are a tad toasty, he decided to take me to Toys 'R Us one day to buy it. I was giddy. We searched the store until we found the massive display ... and saw the box that the slide came in. It was tiny. My Dad read the measurements on the box and realized the slide was seven feet long. He grimaced and put his hand over his head to show me how tall seven feet was. My little heart was broken. The commercial had LIED! With my head down, I told him it was okay, I didn't need the slide. And we left the store.

However, instead of going home, he took me to a hardware store. Puzzled, I followed him inside as we wandered to the back of the store. He pulled out a box labeled "BLACK TARP" and raised his eyebrows with a very sneaky smile. I had no idea what his plans were, but we bought the box and headed home. I went to my room while Dad stayed outside and a little while later, he called me down. I walked outside and couldn't believe my eyes:

Down the slope of our front yard laid a massive black slip 'n slide! It was five feet wide and thirty feet long. My Dad hooked a sprinkler up to the top, squirted some dish soap at the starting point, and had thusly created the most impressive and amazing slip 'n slide I had ever seen. My jaw dropped open in amazement. I jumped up and down, giddy to try it out. Within minutes every neighborhood kid was in our front yard, mesmerized by the massive piece of summer fun sprawling down our lawn.

We used that thing until it shred to pieces.

I thanked my Dad profusely, but I think it was the change in my countenance that pleased him the most. And now, as a parent, I get it.

Happy (late) Father's Day, Dad. :)

And thank you for the "above and beyond" moments.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Few Words Wednesday: The Party.

Thanks to a wonderful family happy to attend, hot glue and burnt fingers, sales at Hobby Lobby, a talented Cake Connoisseur, a few tears, a lot of laughs, and one sunny afternoon, Naomi's party was a memorable one.

(The cake was perfect.)

(Amazing sausage rolls, you can find the recipe here!)

(Sioux City Root Beer, Stewart's Cream Soda, and pink lemonade!)

(Birthday girl blowing kisses!)


(We have amazingly crafty relatives--woot!)

(Not sure what to think ... also, note my ever-growing baby bump!)

(The cuteness!)

(Baby blues.)

(Blowing kisses while relaxing outside after the party.)

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. I can't believe you're not a baby anymore!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Last Question (I Think ...)!

What are the pros and cons of having children close together?

I read this question shortly after I took my pregnancy test and I think I buried my head in my arms, right here at the computer, laughing and shaking my head. I could answer it with two, but I have absolutely no idea how it will be three close together. THREE. Phew. That's still crazy to me!

But, like I said, I can answer that question with two. Obviously, this is spoken only from my own experience, so my answer will be subjective, plus, it is comprehensive only up to one year, as I have only had two kids for one year. Ask me again in ten years and my answer might be a tad different.

We found out we were pregnant with Number Two on Cub's Number One birthday, which was thrilling for us. They are twenty months apart. As I sat down to type this and put my thoughts in order, I realized how much of it was really dependent on my kids' personalities. Which brings me to the conclusion that there are some aspects of having kids close together that just depend on the kids! For example, the pending arrival of Baby Sister meant that we chose to move Big Brother to a big boy bed at an early age--sixteen months--and he did just great with it. But, I had comments from a few people who told me he shouldn't leave his crib until he was at least two, possibly three, and that I was hurting him developmentally. That's all fine and good if you want to wait until your baby is three, but mine was fine at sixteen months. See? It's not good or bad if you do it earlier or later (as long as they're ready), it's just different. Naomi could be (and will be) a totally different story.

So, let me try to approach this a different way. The basics. Some pros of having kids close together from the Mom's perspective could be that you are, to some extent, still fairly familiar with the baby stage. Sleepless nights and breastfeeding weren't totally erased from my memory yet, so they were easy to transition to after Naomi was born. Our baby gear was still within reach and we remembered (for the most part) how to operate the infant seat and set up the pack 'n play. Cub will never have a memory without his sister, which is neat to think about.

Some cons could be convenience. It's tricky to take an infant and a toddler anywhere and I'm assuming it's probably easier if your older one is, well, older! We learned the value of parking next to cart returns and being willing to accept that entering and exiting the car could take just as long as the shopping trip in the beginning! Once we got the hang of it, it was fine, and all of the time spent training Cub how to behave in the grocery store before little sister came along definitely paid off. Also, it can be tricky just caring for both in general. Even though Cub was old enough to do some things on his own, he wasn't (and still isn't) completely independent. Again, this just depends on personality, but a twenty month old and a newborn both require work from Mama, just on different levels. And Cub still needs help getting dressed, brushing his teeth (I choose to supervise that!), sometimes getting his shoes on, getting food (he can't exactly microwave his own mac 'n cheese yet!) and things like that. They both require sippy cups to take to church. They both require snacks on trips. It's just the fine art of remembering TWO of everything. Even though it becomes habit, I've still left the house short a cup a time or two, and that's just part of it. But, it also becomes a great time to teach the older kiddo responsibility and Cub has loved being in charge of gathering his own things when we leave (again, something that still requires some supervision!).

There's a pro to every con, you know?

It definitely keeps you en pointe as a Mom. When Naomi was born, I simply surrendered to the fact that I would probably live in chaos for a few months, possibly a year, and I was fine with that. Accepting the pending change for what it was helped me transition to it more easily. I made an effort to get out of the house with both kids as soon as possible, just so I wouldn't grow too comfortable not going out at all (and for Cub's sake, who loves running errands). But, there were lots of occasions where going out just wasn't going to happen, and that was fine, too. You just roll with the punches and do what you can. I can definitely tell you that the supreme title of "Super Mom" that I so desperately tried to attain with one child fell off the priority list completely with two. Having two kids close together has been the most humbling, wonderful experience of my life. Naomi was a much harder baby than Caleb and I just had to grit my teeth and push through until she turned a corner at seven months and became happy smiley easy baby. But it was seven months--seven LONG months--before we got there. Cub was easy at seven days. Transitioning not only to two children but also to a hard baby was no easy task, but oh my goodness, it was a wonderful one. God used that time (and still uses these times) to show me my need for Him and His graciousness to me in allowing me to experience these things in the first place. There are days where I feel like I'm running the gauntlet and other days where I feel I am witnessing heavenly grace firsthand. I am shaped and formed as a person, not just as a Mom, more and more every day.

My advice to surviving kiddos close together the first year?

1) Accept that two close together is going to be a big change! Toss expectations out the window and enjoy the ride. Your life will form a rhythm again soon enough, and for now, embrace the round-the-clock feedings and pajama days with both of your kids.

2) When you get your brain back, plan, plan, plan. When you run errands, be strategic with where you go and when. Map out the grocery store. Write your list in order of the aisles you will hit first. Planning takes time but pays off once you're there. Bring your sling (or carrier). Pack a snack. You can do this! And, if you only make it out of Target with some saltines and a gallon of milk, keep your chin up, wipe your eyes, and praise God for the Chick-fil-A drive-thru!

3) Get a really great double jogger. :)

Great question for a really great experience.

Have a lovely day.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Because I Forgot.

The kids had spent the night at their grandparents' house and I was looking forward to a day of kid-less bliss, doing whatever I wanted, which included some shopping for my little Mouse's first birthday party, a hair appointment, and ending the day by going to a show with my mother-in-law.

I woke up early and decided to get a few chores done while my little "helpers" were away. As I scooped an armload of laundry out of the dryer, I stopped short when a thought suddenly hit me:

I left the coop open last night.

Josh and I had gone out for an evening swim and I opened the coop since I knew we would be outside with the chickens.

And I totally forgot to close it and lock it up.

I dropped the laundry and yanked on my galoshes before swinging open the front door. An unseasonably cold wind hit my face and raindrops fell harshly from the sky, foreshadowing what I was about to discover. I slowly walked around the side of the house and saw Henrietta standing next to our neighbors' barbed wire fence. When she saw me, she ran. The wind whipped my hair and when I pulled it away from my face, I saw what I feared the most: Something had come in the night and killed most of our chickens. I won't go into detail as to what I saw, but I had to turn away. I walked nervously to the coop and peeked inside, to find it dark and empty.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I ran inside to tell my husband. He came running out in the rain and stopped short at what he saw. I was so glad the kids weren't there to see it. He picked up what the wild animals had left behind and then crawled through the barbed wire fence to look for Henrietta. The rain was still coming down and my hair and sundress were soaked. I stood at the fence and called for her, but she was gone. Together we walked the length of our land, trying to find more chickens. We counted eight of the twelve were dead, all of the Ameracaunas and one of my banties. Three of the banties had simply disappeared and Henrietta had run away. I walked back to the coop and lamely turned the heat lamp back on, hoping the chickens that were alive might see it and come back.

When we came inside, I couldn't keep the tears from coming. I sank onto the couch and wiped my eyes while my husband, now late for work, squeezed my shoulder and told me it was okay. But it wasn't okay. It was totally my fault. I knew when we got the chickens that we would probably lose some. But I didn't know it would be my fault. When he left, I started sobbing.

I called my Mom and through ugly heaving sobs told her what happened. Of course, my Mom grew up raising chickens to eat, so they never attached to them as pets--I'm sure my blubbering about what she saw as chicken dinner was a little odd to her. But, she was compassionate and sympathetic and I appreciated that. I know they're "just chickens". But they were such a fun part of our lives here--the kids loved them and we loved them, too. And it was just so ... horrible. A horrible way for them to die. And it was my fault.

I dried my hair and changed clothes, preparing to leave for my hair appointment. When I opened the garage, I looked over at the fence, and there was Henrietta--and Pearl! Two of my beloved banties, alive and well. I ran over to the coop and ushered them in. They are totally unscathed and I've never been so happy to see, well, poultry.

As the day has worn on, I've tried keeping this in the proper perspective--the kids are fine, the house is fine. They were, I guess, just chickens. But I find myself getting teary at the thought of losing them and at the thought of what I saw this morning. I wasn't raised on a farm. I'm not used to animals dying. I hope I'm never used to animals dying. I just hate that this probably wouldn't have happened had I locked up the coop.

Anyway. I don't really know how to end this because I'm still sad and I know we can always get new chickens. But I'm kind of ready for today to be over.

That's all.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

She's One.


Happy Birthday, Ma Petite Souris.

How I love you so.

(You can read her birth story here.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I've always been a big advocate for family dinners.

My family always gathered around the table at the end of the day as I grew up, so I figured it would be a natural occurrence for me when I became a wife and a Mom.

So, I worked to make it happen. When Cub was a baby, I tried holding off his feeding until my husband came home. It was stressful at times, but I was determined to make it happen. As he got older, it became easier and eventually our little family of three ate together every night. It was still a bit of a challenge to hold Cub off until my husband came home, but we made it work.

Then, enter Naomi.

I still tried to get the four of us at the table when my husband came home, but oh my goodness, sometimes it was tough. And, recently, it's become a ridiculous aggravation. The kids eat lunch at 11:00, so attempting to hold off dinner until 6:30 (even with an afternoon snack, or a pre-dinner snack) became a daily battle. I would try to time dinner to the second my husband walked through the door, but what he walked into was a bit of chaos. Naomi was hungry and fussy, seeing as her bedtime is around 7:30. Cub would be cranky because Naomi was cranky. And, when they didn't like what was being served for dinner, the chaos became a war and my husband, fresh home from work, was smack-dab in the center of it. Tired and hungry kids greeting a tired and hungry husband made for one really aggravated and exhausted Mama.

So, with a huge load of guilt, I decided to let it go.

Last week, I started feeding the kids their own dinner (typically a version of what we're eating) at around 5:00 or 5:30. When my husband would come home, the kids would play and he and I would eat at the table together and talk about his day.

And, oh my goodness, it's been amazing.

The kids are happy. My husband is happy. And, on the weekends, eating together will be a give-in. But I've realized that, for us, at this time in our lives, pushing the event of eating together when my husband comes home from work creates more stress than is necessary. And, since my husband and I are able to eat much more quickly when it's just the two of us, it leaves more time for all of us to end up in the pool, spending the evening together and having fun. Oddly enough, the time is more quality now that we have separate dinners.

So, you can shame me. You can tell me I am deteriorating the fabric of America. One day I aim to accomplish the lofty goal of meals together--I mean, I believe it's hugely important, hence our emphasis on it during weekends and early weekday evenings. But, right now, with two toddlers, it's just a little tough to try it when my husband gets home late.

I guess this was just another example to myself of how I hold on tightly to something without realizing it's causing more harm than good. I'm so much for the principle of eating together that I wasn't realizing that it wasn't serving its primary purpose: Quality time. Now we've figured it out. For this season.

And that's all!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Preggo Questions I've Had Thusly:

1) How long have you known?

A really long time. As in, a few weeks, which is a long time, considering I'm only eight weeks along. I must have found out at the earliest possible time, which is ironic, because I took the test simply to rule it out because I am terrible at keeping track of things, not because I thought I could even possibly be pregnant.

2) How far along are you?

Eight weeks and a few days.

3) Have you heard the heartbeat?

Yes, my prerequisite to sharing the news a la the Internet. I heard the heartbeat at 6.5 weeks. I know there is still the possibility of something going wrong, even though my doctor says everything looks great, but we are thankful for things looking good thus far.

4) How are you feeling?

I'm feeling quite pregnant! Nauseous and exhausted. I've only actually thrown up a few times (I'm sure you wanted to know that) which is actually pretty good considering my previous pregnancy symptom track record! I'm borderline hypoglycemic in general, which contributes to my queasiness, so I have to time when I eat and what I eat. Lots of protein, a bit of sugar here and there (meaning: DARK CHOCOLATE, yum). ;)

5) Was this pregnancy planned?

Ahh, the first question my doctor asked me! :) I'm going to try and answer this very carefully. I want to say that I personally know and also know of several amazing families who are trying and waiting to have children. I get frustrated when people treat pregnancy lightly, acting like it isn't a big deal to get pregnant, or they freak out when they don't get pregnant on the first or second try ... when there are families who have been trying for years. It's a sensitive topic, so I want to treat it sensitively. That being said, we were not necessarily thinking that something like this would happen, but it did, and we are absolutely overjoyed and humbled. We love being parents and are excited for the adventure ahead!

6) So ... how far apart will your kids be??

Cub and Naomi are 20 months apart. Naomi and Baby Bean will be between 18 - 19 months apart. I anticipate that I will be in hiding for roughly five years. :)

7) Hence, the new house?

Ha ha, no, this isn't why we bought the house, since we didn't see this coming (ever)! But, we are thankful that all of our kids will have room to run and play, and thankful that this was all coming together in perfect timing, unbeknownst to us.

8) Hence, the minivan?

Yes, hence, the minivan. I even have a plan on how I'm going to seat the kids (you can go ahead and laugh at me): I'm going to put Cub and Naomi in the back seat and put Baby Bean in one of the middle row captain's chairs. I'm going to fold the other captain's chair into the floor, so I can step into the van and have instant access to all three kids. See? I'm so lame! I already have a plan for car seat situating! You can call it over-thinking, but I call it SURVIVAL. I have to feel like I have some sort of idea of what I'm going to do with three kids in three car seats! ;)

9) Hey Katie, didn't you donate most of your baby clothes?

Yep! Dumb!

There you have it, friends! I've received emails and Facebook messages saying that Blogger isn't allowing some of you to post comments--I don't know what the deal is! I'm sorry, but thank you so much for your well wishes!

Have a lovely day.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another Question ... :)

(This question was on my Facebook wall and was not posting on my blog, for some reason!)

Do u plan on having more children? You seem like having 2 kids is effortless(I know it's hard) but you make it look very easy;)

First of all, thank you for your kind compliment, saying that I make it look easy. However, it makes me wonder if I'm accurately portraying my life here. I guess I tend to focus on the good and not the bad, hence, lots of happy posts, but, let me tell you, life gets rough here!

Take today, for example. There is a broken slinky on the kitchen table. Two piles of folded laundry sit on the bench at the foot of our bed, waiting to be put away ... and they've been there for two days. There is unopened mail on the island in our kitchen, a few dishes in the sink, and books spilled all over the floor, pulled from their bookshelf in the play room. I myself am unshowered, wearing my default sundress that I wear when I don't know what to wear (the same one I'm sure I've worn at least once this week already), my hair pulled back in a bun, with only a dab of eyeliner and mascara for the day. There are chores to be done but I frankly don't know where to begin, so I find myself getting nowhere. My attitude has been less than pleasant today, because today has simply been a bit "off", and feeling discombobulated is one of my least favorite things. I tried taking the kiddos swimming in our pool by myself for the first time and it was nothing short of an epic fail, thanks to the inaccessibility of our deck and pool (purposeful for the safety of our kids, but also making single-parent-swimming nearly impossible) and after I finally hoisted the kids onto our deck and got them dressed and sunscreened and floatied and ready, I realized the water was ice cold, and as soon as little tootsies hit the water, complaining ensued. The undoing of the aforementioned preparation took a long time and when I finally had the kids stripped down and in the house, Naomi left a present for me on the carpet, before I was able to get her in a diaper.

Just one of those days, you know?

My Mom called to ask me a question and a thirty minute conversation ensued, with me blabbering and blubbering and feeling altogether frustrated and helpless. With a side of self-pity. These days just happen. They are just hard. For no good reason, some days seem destined for a do-over right from the beginning.

I cleaned my closet in hopes it would help me feel better. It did a little.

That is in response to making it look easy. Truth be told, some days are easy. Some days are hard. But when I pick up Naomi and she snuggles into my neck, and Cub runs up to me from behind and hugs my legs tightly, I can't help but smile. The Mousie giggles, the talkative Cub who now narrates everything going on, prefacing every story with a prolonged, "Um ....", it's all a blessing. And imagining my life without those things seems unfathomable. When the walls close in and I just wish for some refreshment--a break from the mundane (laundry, dishes, laundry, dishes, laundry, dishes), I am reminded (constantly reminded) of how good I really have it. It is very humbling, to say the least.

So, do we plan on having more? Good question. I'll get back to you on that.

Thanks for asking these questions. I really needed to type this post today.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Well, I Caved.

I've never wanted a minivan.

In fact, the thought of driving a minivan was suffocatingly uncomfortable to me, like trying to squeeze into a sweater that doesn't fit. There was something about the stereotype of a minivan that wedged itself into my brain and made me think that there was no way, no how, I would ever drive one.

I think, for me, it boiled down to one thing: Sex appeal. Yep, I said it. Bearing two children and caring for them had done enough wear on my body, so, buying a minivan felt, to me, as though I were hammering the final nail in my Sex Appeal coffin. Goodbye, attractive wife. Hello, SOCCER! I mean, I love being a Mom and obviously the changes to my body were well worth it--good grief, they were beyond well worth it. And, being a Mom brings out an awesome sexiness to my husband I wasn't expecting (lots of honesty here, sorry!). However, my life did not drown into my children and amidst the diaper changes and juice stains I do attempt to maintain some sort of attractiveness, be it a shower or, at least, mascara.

And, beyond that, it seemed to me that a minivan represented the next stage in life. I'm not sure how to explain it, but for some reason it seemed like I could have kids and still be young and fun, but owning a minivan would change that by somehow vaulting me into the next stage of YOU ARE A MOM AND ONLY A MOM AND HAVE NO OTHER IDENTITY, something of which I was a tad leery.

I guess it just boiled down to the shallow fact that it is possible for me to allow myself to find my value in inanimate objects. Which is, in a word, lame. Lamer than a van.


A lot of my friends, nay, most of my friends are moms who drive minivans. And I've never thought twice about it. But for the aforemetioned sex appeal and identity crisis reasons, I assumed I would simply be an SUV mom forever.

But you know what? Sometimes things don't always turn out the way we think they will. So, we found ourselves perusing the minivan market and settled on this one. After driving one, my mind sort of flipped a switch and I was able to see the car for what it was--an extremely functional vehicle that would experience these early years with me. A poor vehicle who's seats and floors would undoubtedly be covered in spit-up and food stains, with french fries wedged under the front seats. The car just needed to survive these crazy years of kiddos. Then, a few years down the road, perhaps I could buy that dream SUV. But for now, a van suddenly made sense.

We were able to trade our old car, pay a small bit, and buy this baby outright, which was a huge blessing. And, after driving it for a while now, I'm in love. I get it. The automatic doors. The stow-n-go seats. Lots of buttons to push to make everything open and close. I get it. It's convenient. And right now, life is very much about convenience!

So, friends, meet a very recent Van Convert.

It was a very windy day when we bought the car, obviously.

But see? I'm smiling. I'm smiling because I get it now. I will still carry my big bag and curl my hair and wear sundresses. In my minivan.

So, next time you're in the drive-thru at Starbucks, stuck behind a van, cursing the existence of vans, take the time to think that perhaps you are behind a recent Van Convert who, like you, hated the thought of the V-A-N, but decided that perhaps, for her family, it was just the best way to go. For now.

And then pay for her drink. Because chances are she's there because she desperately needs a morning pick-me-up. :)

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Puddle Jumper.

(Look! I put a random stock photo of a child that is not mine on my blog!)

Our house came with a circular above-ground pool. It wasn't anything I was necessarily wanting, but my husband, ohhhhh my husband, he saw it and fell in love. As long as he was cool with the maintenance, then I was cool with using it! :)

Having the pool has turned out to be an amazingly wonderful thing. The kids and I can swim during the day and every night after dinner, we all go for a family swim. It's kind of like being on vacation every night. So fun! Now, the random stock photo image above is to give a shameless plug for these amazing floaties known as Puddle Jumpers. These awesome floaties have revolutionized the swimming experience for our little man. Our little Cub has always been a bit of a fish, firstly with a little inflatable boat before he was a year old, then with holding on and swimming around with us last summer, and now these things. When the hot weather arrived, I first bought Cub a pair of arm floaties. He didn't like them one bit and was afraid of going underwater. Some friends of ours had a Puddle Jumper for their daughter, so I went to our local Wally World to get one for Cub (I found it in the life jacket section, but I do not think it technically qualifies as one ... at least we wouldn't use it as one on the boat!).

Oh my.

Within a few minutes, he was swimming by himself around the pool. The floaties are made of the same material as a life jacket (not inflatable, but foam) and the section across the front gives them extra support to stay above the water. Oh my goodness, it has been so amazing to see Cub flourish and swim on his own when he wears his Puddle Jumper. He also feels safer about going underwater and will jump in by himself. How fun!

Sadly, I don't have any really great pictures of him wearing his Puddle Jumper, so the stock photo will have to do. But trust me, the smile is the same!

Have a lovely day, friends!

Monday, June 6, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream ...

What was your philosophy when it came to babies and sleeping? Did you do a sleep training program (Babywise, Ferber, etc.)? If so, when did you start? Did you soothe your babies to sleep?

This is a great question--one that I think every Mom faces at some point during their child's infancy. If you had asked me this with my first child, I would have had an absolute, no-questions-asked response. However, now that I've had two, I've become aware of my fantastical ability to stick my foot in my mouth.

Based on extensive research (aka having two children), I can say, with confidence, that every child is different. However, there are some general principles in which I believe that provide a sort of rough outline as to how I approach parenting at this stage: Consistency and routine. Not scheduling, but not winging it, either (well, not winging it every day, at least ... ha ha). When Cub was a baby, he put himself on an easy routine, simply because he was breastfed. Every three hours, my milk let down on its own (how crazy is that) and I knew it was time for him to eat. Badda-bing, badda-boom! Very easy. With Naomi, she was more of a hard case to crack. She was fussier and wouldn't stay on a routine, but then would suddenly fall asleep while playing on the floor. Totally random. When she was around seven months old, a routine finally stuck and she's done great with it ever since.

I am a huge advocate of the consistent pattern of "Feed Wake Sleep" or "Eat Activity Sleep". I think it's important for babies to learn to fall asleep on their own, without needing a bottle. Sometimes this happens from Day One, sometimes it doesn't happen until a few months down the road. I do think "crying it out" is okay to some degree. I think it's good for babies to feel confident falling asleep on their own. However, I do believe there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. I don't believe in shutting the door and letting your baby scream for two hours. I do believe in shutting the door and letting your baby cry for ten minutes, and then you go and check on them, and maybe they cry for ten more minutes, then you check on them. Again, every baby is different. I think rocking and snuggling is immensely important and should be done, no matter what your philosophy. But when it comes to actually falling asleep, in our family, we advocate falling asleep on your own (after lots of rocking and snuggling).

I think it's just important to look down the road and envision how you want things to be. We let Cub fuss himself to sleep at an early age and it paid off as time went on. I always rocked him before bed, but would lay him down just before he fell asleep. Sometimes he hated it, but eventually he started drifting off on his own with no problem. But, it was a battle I chose to contend with early on rather than later. Having a five month old fuss before bed is way easier than having a one year old scream from their crib. Or a two year old, for that matter. Again, this is just what my experience has shown me--maybe another Mom's experience has shown her something else.

As far as when to start, that's something you as the Mom need to decide. Get to know your baby and know his/her needs. Cub was a super-chill baby and did great fussing it out at around two months old. Naomi dealt with stomach troubles and just seemed a little more fragile to me, and we didn't officially let her fuss it out until she was several months old. Maybe we could have started sooner, but my intuition told me otherwise. Both babies fall asleep great on their own (although they both can still be rocked to sleep, which the grandparents especially appreciate!). There just needs to be a good balance of "What are your needs?" and "Welcome to our family, this is how we operate!"

One book I loved was Secrets of a Baby Whisperer. I read BabyWise and used some of its principles when Naomi was an older infant, but I do not agree with their somewhat heart-less approach to scheduling. But, that's just my opinion! I think it's immensely important to get to know your baby--to read their cues and learn their mannerisms to make sure you're laying them down when they're actually tired, and so on. Baby Whisperer encourages this and I love it.

Oh, one more thing! As far as soothing goes, Cub spit out his pacifier at one month and chose his thumb. He still sucks his thumb, but only when he has his sleep toy, Nigh-Nigh (a very loved and well-worn stuffed lion). We made it a point to teach Cub to put Nigh-Nigh back in his crib after he woke up, so he knew Nigh-Nigh was only for sleeping. I think this helped to keep him from sucking his thumb any other time, since Nigh-Nigh was always out of reach. With Naomi, she loves her pacifier, so that's how she soothes. When she's two, the paci goes (that's the plan, anyway!).

I hope that answered your questions! Sorry for the very long response. :)

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hi! I'm the Mom! I Panic!

I am interrupting my question-answering to write a brief post concerning a particular complex from which I apparently suffer:

Mom Panic.

Let me rewind. Friday was a rough day. I had a photo shoot fall through, totally my fault, and it made me sick to think I had disappointed a potential client. My plans for the day included going to the zoo with some friends and I was happy to go hang out, but the day had already started out on a sour note and I am the kind of person who holds onto things longer than I should. Naturally, the day was destined for ruin. As we perused our way through the lions and bears, the hot Oklahoma sun beating on our shoulders, I started to get cranky. Naomi slept soundly in the stroller but Cub was on the ornery side, lagging and taking his time (not) obeying. My patience was short and I found myself getting snippy. Towards the end of our zoo excursion, my friends suggested going to lunch. Knowing I was cranky and the kids were on the brink of nap time, thusly making them a bit cranky, I wasn't so sure that going to lunch would go over well.


I didn't want to be that Mom.

You know. The Mom who never does anything spontaneous? The NOT FUN Mom?

So, we went to lunch.

The restaurant is one of my favorites in town, but it doesn't have a play place, which means the kiddos would have to sit and be good (eek). While I was happy to devour some fish tacos, I was not so happy to have to police my one year old and two year old while we ate. I felt sorry for myself. I had a bad attitude.

I was SNIPPY. I was HUFFY. I was worried about the kids' naps, worried about getting both of them fed, worried about the pile of tortilla chips and quesadilla pieces forming under the table, worried about the people next to us having to listen to my kids whine, worried, worried, worried. At one point, my friend asked me if I was okay, and it was then that I realized my worry and panic was very obvious to the rest of the group. And then I was embarrassed. Sure, I had chosen the "fun mom" route, but I was anything but fun. Naomi started losing it halfway through the meal, so we ended up leaving early. Now I felt like I had let everybody down and I wanted to just go home and sulk.

I had allowed extenuating circumstances to set the tone for my day and while I do find that to be somewhat understandable, I hated how it brought out the "panic-y mom" in me. The Mom who freaks out in public places. When we only had one kid, going out was no problem. Now, we rarely go out to eat, simply because eating out with two toddlers takes a lot of work and it's easier to eat at home. So, sure, maybe I had the right to be slightly cautious at the thought of eating out, but the panic? It seemed a little unnecessary.

So, I'm just wondering--do any other Moms out there panic about these kinds of things? Do you ever worry that your kids are upsetting everyone around you and you get huffy and snippy even if everything is probably fine?

Or am I really, really weird?

That's all. Have a lovely weekend, friends.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Few More Questions ... :)

I received these questions via a Facebook message, because the comments weren't posting. Weird. I'm sorry! Here you go:

What is a typical day like now with 2 kiddos?

I usually wake up before the kids and start a pot of coffee. If I'm on the ball, I read my devotion and post what I'm thankful for on Facebook. Then I start breakfast and the kiddos wake up. We eat breakfast together which is all kinds of a hilarious mess, and then we sing a song or two at the table. The kids play while I load the dishwasher, and then Caleb gets dressed (Naomi takes a morning nap still, so I keep her in her pj's). We go outside to feed the chickens and then Naomi goes down for her morning nap.

While she's sleeping, Caleb and I do "school" together using this curriculum. I know, the website looks a little cheesy, but trust me, the curriculum is great. We choose a few of the activities and work on our letter and number of the week, read the Bible story for the week, and do a craft or dramatic play. It all takes about twenty minutes. Then we read books and play puzzles, and I try to sneak in a shower while Caleb plays in his room.

When Naomi wakes up, we either eat a quick lunch or head out to run errands. This is my "window" between Naomi's two naps and before Cub's afternoon nap. We run errands and sometimes grab lunch. Once we make it home, we eat lunch and the kids go down for their naps. During this time I give myself thirty minutes to nap and then I try to be productive the rest of the time (this doesn't always happen ... but I try!). When the kids wake up, we go outside and play and I'll leave the door open when I come in to make dinner while the kids stay outside. Then Dadda comes home, we eat, play more, and then it's bath and bed! Then my husband and I hang out and have our time.

Having two little ones is a lot of fun, but it does take a little extra planning. Remember the "window" of time? I know that's the prime time to get things done because both kids are awake and happy. If I cut it too close to nap time, then YIKES. Two cranky little ones out running errands can go downhill quickly. It's all in the timing and it took me about seven months to figure out how to do it with both! We're pretty consistent every day so the kids know what to expect, which really helps. But, don't get me wrong--sometimes the days seem to be destined disasters from the moment we wake up, and nothing goes as planned. Sometimes Naomi doesn't want to take her first nap. Sometimes Cub is extra cranky. But, that's why I write what I'm thankful for every morning on Facebook--it's hard to have a bad attitude when you realize how you are blessed. I'm thankful for my children, no matter what. Even if our days look a little more like a hodge-podge of randomness rather than a seamless stream of productivity, I'm still thankful for them. These days are precious and go by way too quickly!

I know several people have asked, but your loyal readers are dying to get a peek of your new home.... or better yet a vlog post :)

Ha ha, a vlog post! :) Thank you for wanting to see our house! I haven't really shown any pictures because the decorating process has been slow-going. We're busy here at Footy Pajamas! I guess it doesn't matter if there are things on the wall or not. I have my decorating budget, but actually going out and finding what I want takes time. I don't want to fill the house simply to fill it--I'm not personally a fan of decor for the sake of decor--so I want the money to be spent intentionally and thoughtfully. Unfortunately, finding that kind of time can be tricky! I will happily do a post once things are a bit more to my liking--but they will probably come one at a time.

For now, here is our playroom/schoolroom/reading room/etc. room. This was the formal dining room, but we knew we wouldn't use it as such at this point in our lives, so it sat empty for a bit. It has columns and is open to the entryway, so I was worried about making it a play room since it is the first room people see when they walk in the house. Then I realized ... who cares? The people that walk into our house are either our friends or family, both of whom wouldn't mind one bit how we chose to utilize the room! Now it's the coziest room in the house and I love piling the kids in the chair and reading together.

More pictures will come, when I get to it, I promise!

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Toddler Transition.

I have a 15 month old son and another little one due in October. Any advice/suggestions on how to make the transition easier for my son once our new addition arrives? :)

First of all, congratulations! The more the merrier. :) It sounds like your little ones will be about the same distance apart as mine. As far as preparing Caleb for the transition, there wasn't much that could be done as far as trying to explain it. He would say, "Baby in Mama's tummy!" but he really had no idea what that meant. I just tried to get him used to what it would look like having a baby around. I put a doll in the car seat carrier, the swing, etc. I still don't think it really mattered much to him, but at least I was trying!

There was one thing we were very resolute about and that was celebrating our last weekend with Caleb before his sister arrived. I was induced, so I knew when the baby would be born, but this would work even if you had a general idea of your due date. We took the whole weekend to celebrate Cub and prepare the house, together, for the new baby. We baked cookies with blue and pink sprinkles, to celebrate both baby sister and big brother, and Caleb happily decorated them. I made a "Welcome Home, Nomi!" sign and Caleb "painted" it with finger paints (more like smearing than painting, but it worked!). I still have that sign tucked away in Naomi's nursery. Then we took Caleb to the zoo and out to this really fun pizza place for dinner. The whole weekend was about having fun and being excited about the changes to come and I'm so, so glad we chose to do that.

As for the actual transition of having a new sibling, that's just a work in progress! Every toddler is different with every baby. Some toddlers are immediately in love with their new sibling and want to hold them, feed them, etc. Cub wasn't quite that enthusiastic--he liked Naomi at a distance, but that was it. But, when he realized she was here to stay, he started warming up to her. Now he misses her when she's gone and he's definitely taken on the older sibling role of showing her how things are supposed to be done. :) My advice for the actual adjustment stage would be in two parts: Firstly, when the new arrival is an infant, let the toddler "help" you by grabbing diapers, throwing diapers away, hunting down pacifiers, etc. The more they feel included with the new baby, the better. Secondly, when the kids are old enough to start interacting, give them time to do it alone. I try to give them some time to learn to play together on their own, instead of rushing in to moderate as soon as I hear a squabble.

Don't get me wrong--you'll need to teach your toddler how to play, too! It's important for toddlers to learn how to play with infants and it's important as the Mom to be sympathetic to both parties. Caleb should learn to share, but it also stinks when your little sister invades your space and messes with your stuff. I've taught Caleb that when Naomi takes a toy he wants, he should gently take it back and give her another toy in its place. She doesn't really care (yet) and it teaches him how to be proactive with her, rather than simply defensive.

I hope this helps! Congrats again on the little one, how fun!!

Have a lovely day. :)