Monday, May 30, 2011

I am a tad OCD and other maternal realizations

I had a realization about motherhood this weekend.

After attending three different events and encountering three completely different sets of people, with three completely different sets of expectations about the way my motherhood should be executed, it hit me:

There's really no right way to do this.

Motherhood, that is.  (Alright, so I'm a little slow on the uptake.  Seems like the 4.0, college - no, Masters - grad should figured this out a little more quickly.)

It hit me on my third round of "oh you shoulda..." in, "Oh, you shoulda brought the pack and play!  You could have put her to bed here!  Don't want to let her get too well-routined, she'll start to run your life!"
..."Oh, you should take that plastic spoon away from her so she doesn't trip and ram it into her brain and bleed all over our lovely brickwork."
..."Oh, you shoulda stayed home!"  (Insert look of judgement.)  "It's important for children to have routine so they don't turn out socially imbalanced and odd."

Whereas I would never take the pack and play, because I know that Leah doesn't do well in unfamilliar situations and wouldn't settle down for bed.

Whereas I elected to let her play with the plastic spoon, because nothing else at the event was small-child friendly and it's really, really unfair of me to tell a nearly-15-month-old NO at every.single.turn. when she's just behaving like a nearly-15-month-old. (Besides, at this BBQ she had already picked up and licked a rock.  I mean, come on.  Plastic spoon, or rock?!)

Whereas I got her home a little past her bed time so we could attend the event at all.  Besides, wasn't I just accused of letting Leah "run my life" by someone else?  Now I'm too liberal on the rules?

In other words, my version of motherhood is never going to look just like someone else's.  I refuse to accept that my version is any less valid, however. 

Doesn't make me perfect. 

Doesn't make them.

So, in honor of my new revelation, here's my attempt at tackling this monumental task called raising up a person out of nothing, and a resource.

Yes, I recognize that I am a tad OCD.  Maybe more than a tad by some standards. 

Last summer, I stumbled upon a website called Inspired to Action that was all about the idea of professional, intentional motherhood.  Motherhood that tackles the job with the same passion and dedication that one might tackle, say, a JOB. 

I love it.  And it works for me. 

When I teach, I use the concept of backward design.  In short, I figure out what I want the kids to know and be able to do, I identify exactly what that looks like, and then I write daily lesson plans that address the big goals. 

This process of starting my mornings helps me to do just that with my motherhood.  Time to work out.  Time to study God's word.  Time to prayerfully and planfully begin my day and my week, and ensure that I'm taking time to address the big goals I want to address as a mom.  Otherwise, it's much too easy for me to lose sight of big goals in the fray of minute little tasks.

I've had to amend my list, too. 

Notice, nowhere on here does it say, "change diaper" or "put Leah down for her nap."  This is my list of BIG ticket items to accomplish each day.  I'm discovering that I can't always do that in between all that other stuff

But, it's something we're working on. 

And it helps me to ensure that my priorities are in there somewhere, too.  GodFamilyMe.  All of these need to be tended and nurtured in order for my sanity to remain intact. 

So, with a nod to all the mistakes this mom is going to make along the way, here's hoping I can do a few things right. 

Even if I do let my daughter run with plastic spoons.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Act of Faith

I got a few interesting comments about my trying to get pregnant post.

One of them shook me a little.  The gist of it was this:

Why are you telling everybody about this?  This is so personal!  Nobody wants to hear about your sex life!

And to that I have to reply: I have no intention of telling you about my sex life.  That is personal.

So why am I writing about trying to get pregnant? 

Because last time, I was all about the fear.  The worry.  The despair.  The desperate hope that I could get pregnant and carry a baby.  Each day before I got pregnant felt like a battle between my head and my heart.  When I did get pregnant, I fought that fear again, pushing it down and trying to have faith.  And let's not even get into the struggles I faced in battling fear after she was born.

This time around, I'm trying to be a whole new Melissa. 

This Melissa is all about celebrating.  Celebrating the process.  Celebrating when it happens.  Celebrating whatever happens with my pregnancy, should we get that far. 

And, although I won't announce it to massive amounts of people - I'm talking to you, Facebook - I won't hide my pregnancy through the first trimester because I'm worried about loosing the baby.

If it doesn't end the way I want it to, I'll deal with that too.  Not to say I wouldn't be devastated and heartbroken, because I will.  But I know that sometimes, God's blessings and mercy are demonstrated, not in the light of our lives, but in the darkest hours.  (And, with any luck, you won't have to remind me that I said all of this.)

Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Fear is banished.  Faith is in. 

Besides... things worked out pretty darn well last time, if I do say so myself!

Bringing you along on this journey?  That is my act of faith.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Just how "non-toxic" are we talkin', here?

I am a perfect mother.

OH - sorry.  You couldn't see it, because this is a blog, but what you missed was me laughing hysterically as I tried to type that sentence. 

Okay, so I might not be a perfect mother, in the traditional white-apron, high-heels, tidy-house sense.  But I do try.  Really, I do. 

I mean, look at my sweet little pumpkin and her art project.

Look at how well-thought out and intentional I was about introducing her to art projects for the first time!

Note the painters tape, put down to prevent her from pulling up and eating the paper.  And, of course, I had to use painter's tape because it would come up easily without leaving any of that nasty tape-essence behind.

And how well I modeled using markers!  Doesn't this look like it's going well?!

C'mon.  Props for that, right?

So when this happened...
...and the marker went right in her kisser and she sucked up a BIG OLE' MOUTHFUL of Crayola, it's okay, right??  Because I made such a good attempt.  That's what counts.  Besides, they're non-toxic markers. 

Admit it.  I make you feel better about yourself. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Making feet for little shoes

I cannot imagine any circumstances under which this would be too much information.  But, if you're easily offended, well... it's probably time to read another blog.

We're going for it.  We're getting back on horse.  (Yep - I went there!)

In other words...
the time has come to try for baby #2!

I just like to keep everybody posted. 

So say a prayer for us, will ya?  I'm trying really, really hard not to be in control of or anxious about this one, keeping in mind that God does all things in His perfect timing.   

Psalm 37:7: Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.

And we all know how good I am at waiting patiently.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The one where mommy held another baby

If I had any illusions about bringing another baby into our family easily and without any fireworks, they are hereby dispelled.

Today, we went to visit Auntie Jessica and baby James. 

Leah is always a bit reserved when she's not in her comfort zone, but she usually gets along quite well with Auntie Jessica.  Sure, she's never her comfortable, relaxed, talkative self, but she tends to do okay.

Things went fine, until Mommy tried to hold baby James.

Then I had a totally different child on my hands.

She was easily upset, cried each time she fell (which she never, ever does.  She's usually so tough I'm amazed), walked around throwing things and generally creating chaos, and pulled on my leg while yelling "UP!" (completely breaking my heart, I might add).

And she has been off all day, even back home. 

It must be nice to be the only baby!  LMS 8 days old
Ahhh, things.  They are a-changin'!

All in all, big transitions will be in store for my dear heart, who, I'm sorry to inform her, will not remain an only child forever if I have anything to say about it.

Poor little pumpkin.  I think I traumatized her.  And probably Auntie Jessica, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's pink, because no other baby will use it


I wanted to buy everything in pink from the moment I found out Leah was a girl.

The crazy part?  I've never even liked pink! 

I blame my mother.  She went off the deep-end and attempted to drown me in pink when I was a child.  So I revolted.  I liked green and purple and blue and yellow; anything that offered me a little variety.

And then that darn cake came back pink.

Somewhere deep inside me, a floodgate opened.  Suddenly I needed to define my baby.  She's a girl, and baby girls need pink. 

Not to mention, society has given us a wealth of opportunities to declare, "MY BABY IS A GIRL!" in everything from bedding, bouncers and high chairs, to wash rags, pack-and-plays, swings and so much more.  (And let's not even talk about the clothes, it's just too obvious.)

I restrained myself.  I went for the green bedding, a neutral pack-and-play, and a black car seat and stroller so that other hypothetical future babies would feel free to be boys, should God divine it that way.  That's just good planning, after all. 

But this?  This I couldn't resist.

Besides, as my husband reminded me as I debated about getting a neutral one... she's going to be sitting in some version of this carseat for the next 6 plus years. 

Realistically?  No other child of ours is going to use this car seat. 

So it's pink.  And I am quite happy about it. 

The fact that my baby is in a front-facing, big-girl car seat is a totally different story.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dramatic Endings

Getting to the end of the school year always feels like coming to the end of a marathon.

Now, I suppose that's not really a fair comparison, seeing as I have never actually run a marathon, but for the sake of this metaphor, I'll stick with it.

We had a wonderful school year.  This year's group of 8th graders was fantastic.  Sometimes it seems that kids just aren't willing to work with you as a teacher. 

What?!  You ask in disbelief.  Teenagers who don't want to cooperate with adults?  Unheard of!

But, it does - on occasion - happen. 

And as a teacher, my job gets really difficult if kids simply don't want to go where I'm leading them.  The whole teacher/student relationship is based on an illusion of power (which - shhhhhh! - I don't actually have), and if they dig their heels in and refuse to go with me... well, there's not much I can do about it. 

Last year's group was like that.  I don't know for sure why.  They just didn't seem to have much buy-in.

This year's group was a totally different story.  Not only did they buy-in, but they went above and beyond what I hoped for. 

So we'll suffice it to say that it was a relatively easy year, as these things go.

Until the second-to-last day, which should have been fun.

We took the 8th graders to Elitches, as we always do.  The forecast was projecting rain (which it did), but we went anyway. 

Fast-forward to the end of the day.  After riding a grand total of 2 rides, and getting rained out of an additional two, we discovered that a tornado had touched down just a few miles from the school.  The school had been on tornado watch and a lock down for half of the day. 

Soaking wet, we waited with 200 8th graders in the atrium at Elitches for an hour and a half for our buses to arrive; they'd been delayed because of the weather. 

The kids were pretty tough and amazingly well-behaved, all things considered.  But it was a sad way to end a really spectacular year.  I would have loved to give that groups of kids a better send off!

Talk about going out with a bang...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Can you explain where the time has gone?

Today is the last day of school.

First, I have to say that I have absolutely adored my 8th graders this year.  They are probably the best group I have ever taught.

Beyond that, though, can someone just explain to me how it's possible that it is May already?  And not just May, but late May.  A hop, skip and a week away from being June!

I honestly feel like this year is going faster than ever before.  Much faster than last year, but perhaps that is because it took us so darned long to get to March last year. 

I cannot believe that nearly 3 months have passed since Leah's birthday. 

It really is true what they say: time actually goes faster once you have children. 

Although I am completely, uterly and whole-heartedly excited to stay home with the little (and I have so, so, so many wonderful things planned for us this summer!  Enough to deserve its own post.  Let's just suffice it to say that there is a binder involved), I also have to admit that I am in awe of how quickly the year flew by. 

And can I just take this time to let it be known: I LOVE SUMMER!!!!!!  So let it begin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oh how I love him


...He makes me coffee in the morning

...He makes me lunch to take to school

...He fills my car with gas sometimes when I'm too tired

...He kills all the spiders

...He mows the lawn

...He gives the little her bath before bed

...He gets me flowers for no reason

...He is just as excited as I am to expand our family

...He snuggles with me at night

...He makes me laugh

...He gives good hugs

...He lets me watch ridiculous TV shows and never complains

...He changes diapers

...He is a good daddy

...He's my best friend

Sunday, May 15, 2011

These are the moments I ask myself: Do I miss it?

I spent a vast majority of this day cleaning someone else's house. 

And I'm a really, really good cleaner.  That's the miracle of OCD.  In fact, I don't think I ever went through the whole "nesting" phase during my pregnancy.  We just called that "Saturday." 

But it's totally worth it, because this little guy comes home tomorrow:

You'll forgive the lovely picture.  I mentioned I was cleaning all day, right?

Baby James is about as sweet as they come.  And so teeeeeny tiny! 

I was surprised though by how very different holding him was than holding Leah.  Of course, God designed it that way for a reason... I shouldn't feel that deep emotional attachment for someone else's child.  But I didn't realize just how different the experience would be. 

Even though he is beautiful, I could give him back to his mommy without hesitation.  When Leah was out of my arms, there was a physical ache.

He is just gorgeous, and smooshy, and adorable, and I do love him.  And the difference between James and Leah?

Kind of astounding!  It's amazing how quickly we forget where they came from and just how very far they've come!  14 months ago, she was quite literally in James' place!

And although that newborn phase was awfully sweet...

...I have to admit that I like where we're at now even better! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Once upon a rainy day

...A beautiful baby boy was born.  And he was safe, and healthy, and loved.

His mommy had an easy delivery - 6 hours from start to finish.  So quick that I regretted my trip to Starbucks, because it cost me being in the delivery room (even though I tried to compensate by going 100 mph on the high way... hee hee). 

So quick that mommy asked for an epidural, but it was denied on the grounds that they could see a head.

She did amazingly, and her son is incredible.

And the new family of three was taken to the exact same recovery room that we had: 311.  It brought back the most amazing flood of memories!  Things that seemed so insignificant at the time, I even forgot to blog about them.  Like...

- the football hold while nursing -

- those gigantic disposable underwear they give you.  So delightful! -

- the fact that I sat up every single time she needed to nurse, despite my C-section.  Why, oh why did I do that?!  I could have been lying on my side all that time!  She had nursing down about 4 minutes after her birth! -

- Boppy.  How many, many hours I spent with Boppy wrapped around me -

- How awful it is when the medical people try to give you detailed instructions about medications when you've just had a baby.  They really should write it all down and stop wasting their breath.  I couldn't pay attention to anything but Leah -

- How difficult it is to have your brand new baby held in someone else's arms, even in the same moment that it is wonderful -

- Telling Andrew not to make me laugh, because laughter hurt my C-section incision.  A LOT! -

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I can't wait to watch my beautiful friend be a mommy, and today, that dream officially became a reality.

The beauty of it is that she gets to do it all over again tomorrow.

Welcome to the world, James Michael Churnside.  We're all glad you're here!

Spoiler Alert: There will be a baby!

9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14.

I sitting in the waiting room at Boulder Community Hospital - the same hospital we welcomed our little miracle one year, two months and four days ago.  This time, Auntie Jessica is doing all of the heavy lifting. 

My beautiful friend is about to have her beautiful baby boy. 

I couldn't be happier for them!!!!!!!!

Baby days are the BEST!!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Things I'd never admit to in public

I like to fancy myself a pretty open person. I don't keep many secrets (come to think of it, do I keep any secrets?). I can't hide anything, because if it crosses my mind, you're probably going to see it on my face. That being said, there are a few moments I'd prefer to keep to myself.

So naturally, I'm going to share them with you.

1. I cannot even begin to remember how old I was, but for a while I was totally hooked on Star Wars fiction. Not fan fiction... I was pretty little and didn't even know that existed. But fictional stories that expanded on the original Star Wars films. Yep.

2. Until college, I thought the word sandwich was spelled with a /t/. Sandwitch. And yes, I was already an English major at that point. Yep.

3. I once convinced my sister that I had seen Bigfoot. As in sasquatch. Using walkie-talkies, I pretended to be out in the woods behind our dad's house in Conifer and wove this whole fantastic story about seeing him (it?). Really, I was sitting on the back deck the whole time. She believed that story and told people about it until she was like 12. Yep.

4. I read Jurassic Park when I was in 4th grade. No - that's just the set up to the story. The rest of it involves the fact that I read the sequel, The Lost World, when I was in 6th grade. And then I wrote Michael Crichton to tell him about how much I hated the casting of the movie Jurassic Park. And also to ask if I could audition for the movie version of The Lost World. Yep.
5. I dreamt about snakes for the first 8 weeks after Leah was born. I have absolutely no idea why. I am terrified of snakes, and I dreamt about them regularly during those first 8 weeks. Yep.

6. I cried so hard during the first 15 minutes of Up that I couldn't watch the rest of it. I was too upset. And don't even talk to me about Toy Story 3, it's just too painful. Yep.

7. My deepest ambition is to be a stay-at-home mom. I love my job, but I love the idea of professional, intentional motherhood more. I think it's womanhood at its very finest. Yep.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Get out your dancin' shoes

There is a famous saying that Ginger Rogers could do everything Fred Astair could do, except backwards and in high heels.

I'm convinced this quote is actually about motherhood.

No offense to all the daddies out there, who are awesome in their own ways.

But mommas?  You just can't compete with them.  Partly because doing things backwards is hard.  Partly because if men wear high heels, they stop referring to them as men. 

So to all the mommies out there - those who are, those who have been, those who will be, those who long to be - I salute you.

And your high heels.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Reflections (Ramblings?) on Motherhood

Baby fever has begun here in our house.  I am fortunate to know no less than four beautiful mommies - including my very own BFF - who are waiting to go into labor at any moment. 

My role in this is very insignificant: I just keep waiting for that phone to ring.  Me... who never, ever, ever answers her cell phone and often takes full days to respond to text messages since I didn't know one came in.  Now I'm glued to my phone 24/7. 

Ring ring.

Jessica's having her baby!  I have to go to the hospital!  I scramble to find my phone and frantically yank it from whatever remote pocket of my purse it happens to be in. 

Nope.  Just Casey.  (And yes, I appreciate how terrible it sounds when I'm disappointed that my husband is calling me.  Let the judgement begin.)

And of course, it takes me back.

Reaching that moment?  Utterly life-changing. 

There is simply no way to be ready for it.  One moment, you're you - albeit you King-Sized, but still  you - the next, you're someone completely different.  You're someone's mother.  You are responsible no longer for growing a person; now you're charged with a more significant task: molding and shaping the life of a human being.

Being a mom is hard, no doubt. 

In so many ways, that first year is not what I expected.  It was infinitely more challenging, because the learning curve is so steep.  Everything is new, and as a mother, your approach to everything is completely different. 

It's more than just being a mom.  It's figuring out how to be a wife.  A worker.  A cleaner of the house.  A grocery store shopper.  A driver.  A chef.  A daughter.  A friend.  And still there is that monumental task of figuring out and caring for the beautiful individual you have been blessed with.

In other words, there are many opportunities to fail in each of these role.  And as a new mom, you do.  Often. 

But God is kind.  These are things you don't know yet, on that day when you hold that little miracle in your arms.

Besides, when it comes to motherhood, I firmly believe imperfect is the new perfect.

I changed my font at