Sunday, July 28, 2013


It's difficult for me to believe we've come to this point already.  It seems like just yesterday it was August and I was looking forward to his arrival. 

Almost an entire year has passed with our little guy - and oh it goes so fast!

At 11 months:

Logan weighs 21.8 pounds.  Wears size 3 diapers (when he wears disposables) and size 3 shoes.  That's right, he's reached the shoe-wearing phase of life.

He is hanging on by a thread in his 12 month clothing.  I am pretty sure he's going to last the summer, but for fall I'll definitely buy 18 mo.  He's not quite long enough for them yet, but getting him in and out of the 12 months is more and more challenging by the day.

{18 months - don't they fit nicely on our not yet one year old?!}

He is loving anything that allows him to stand.  Chairs, tables, walkers, cabinets, Mommy's legs... he's not particular.  As long as he can pull himself up, it's a winner in his book.

I've even caught him standing independently on an occassion (or two).
He has mastered the "traditional" crawl, as opposed to his army crawl.  Now, he barrels straight-armed across the floor.  It reminds me of a certain German dictator everytime he picks up his arms, except it's totally cute (and completely non-threatening).

He's a total whirlwind of motion.  I love these pictures:

...because they very acurately capture how difficult it is to take pictures of my little tornado. 
He still loves sister.
Pretty much more than anyone else.
If he could, he would do everything big sis does.  He desperately wants to be big.  He loves to swim, to dance, and he is a seriously good singer.  The kid can match pitch legitimately. 

His most frequented words are Mama, Daddy, Sis, This, That and Doggy.  If you are small and furry - anything from a bunny to a Sesame Street puppet - you shall be dubbed "Doggy."  If you ask him how old he is, he will hold up one finger. 

He also now gesticulates.  A lot.  He's super serious, and he wants everyone to know it.  "THIS!"pointyfinger for emphasis.  "THAT!"hand out Don'tCryForMeArgentina-style.  We're either raising the next JFK, or he'll become some sort of dramatic Shakespearean actor.

Pretty much the day after he turned 10 months, he gave up eating mashed baby food.  He now eats all the big boy stuff, and is downright insulted if you offer him soft fruit.  He'd much prefer the entire apple - that's right, the whole thing.

He still nurses 4 times a day, but (don't tell him) this will be ending tomorrow.  He's going on cow's milk, and we'll see how that goes.  I imagine he won't be giving it up without a fight.

He takes two naps and sleeps from about 7 to 5:15 on the dot.  I think we're about ready for the one nap transition, which might encourage him to sleep a little longer in the morning (please, please please love: tired mommy).

He loves to ride in the car and does a great job when we're out and about.  I can't tell you how many comments I get on how sweet and smiley he is, and it's true.  He is a little ham when we're in public, even though he does that cute little coy smile and look away gig when strangers talk to him. 

He has the greatest relationship with his grandpa.  Those two are just peas in a pod.  I love it, and I think he looks an awful lot like grandpa.

He is so silly, and is still enjoying his play time and anything having to do with toys.


He is a very, very good helper.  He adores the dishwasher, and likes to be involved when I'm in the kitchen.  Which, by the way, makes everything super easy on the dinner front.

He gives the greatest kisses, and lots of them.  He likes to suck and make the POPing sound when he gives kisses, so you're sure to come away with a lot of slobber love.

He truly is one of the most sweet and affectionate little guys I've ever met.  He is in a hugely adventurous phase of life, and I'm sure it's going to result in a tired mommy and quite a few ouchies, but it is so much fun to watch him take on the world.

We are so beyond blessed to have this boy in our family.  Boys are awfully special, and we think our little guy is tops.
Even if all my pictures are blury...
Happy 11 months to my beautiful baby boy!  WE LOVE YOU!!!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

She will go first {and I will gladly eat my words}

Remember when we talked about my shy, reserved child who has to scope everything out before jumping in? 

Generally speaking, this is just part of who she is, and I absolutely love it.  She's not the child who is comfortable in big crowds or classes, she doesn't join in on a whim.  Love.

Well, we've found an exception to this rule that I love equally as much.  Enter Leah, master of the pool.

My kid has always, always been a water baby.  She looooooves to play in the water.  She always has.  So I signed her up for independent swim lessons this summer, and the child absolutely blossomed.

Gone was my shy, reserved little girl who waited for everyone else to go first before jumping in.


Suddenly, she was outgoing.  She was determined.  Without bias (okay, well, maybe a little bias), she was the star student.  She did everything the teachers asked of her, and she did it crazy well.  She was completely without fear, hesitation or  concern. 

Sometimes, she was bold to the point of being pushy.  She wanted to go first, and more often than not, she did.  (The whole concept of waiting in line isn't one we're familiar with.)

She loved jumping in the pool.  Loved it. 

And every single day, when everyone else had already gotten out of the pool, she asked if she could do it again.  And she totally rocked it. 
That sweet child of mine.  We're talking absolute head-to-toe transformation.
On the last day of classes, they opened up the big water slide.  The other 4 kids in the class all sat on the teachers' laps to ride down the slide.  Not this girl.  She put on her life jacket and jumped down that slide all on her own, even though it scared her a little. 
I could not be more proud of that big girl.  Her momma was kind of a water baby, too, so it's fun to see her love something that always meant so much to me.  More than that, though, watching her gain confidence and come out of her shell and find something she excels at and enjoys - wow.  It makes me appreciate just how much she's growing up, and what a cool little lady she's growing into. 

Not to mention, she's pretty proud of herself (in case you can't tell). 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Report from the trenches: Outlook grim

The vast majority of our days are happy ones. 

Sure, there's a scuffle here or there over important things like whether it's appropriate to use the entire roll of toilet paper to wipe our bottom, or a bout of screaming when she can't get her arms through her shirt all on her own.  Of course, Logan likes to add his voice to the mix when Mom has to, you know, not carry him around all the time.

But overwhelmingly, the three of us get on super. 

Today, though, was one of those days.  To the max.

For starters, I realized one of my parenting nightmares.  Logan took a little dive over the edge of the shopping cart and landed on his head.  Ugh.  Poor little sweet guy.  The worst part is that it was completely my fault, because I'm that mom who didn't use the seatbelt on the shopping cart, inviting said disaster. 

You know those moments when you see another parent do something really, obviously stupid and you think to yourself, well this isn't going to end well?   Well, today I discovered what it feels like to be on the other end of that equation.  It's not much fun.

I need my petrified new mom goggles back.  The ones that make me worry about everything that lives, breathes, moves or stands still.  The ones that help me avert disasters before they start.  The trouble with this whole thing the second time around is that I no longer see every single posibility.  I see them instead through the filter of what I know I need to worry about with Leah.  I still think like Leah's mommy.

And peeps (at the risk of comparing my children): Logan ain't no Leah.  I've been awfully spoiled with that one, because she hasn't given me much to worry about at all.

Both of my children possess the amazing superpower of knowing intrinsically what danger exists in a room.  It's just that Leah would size it up and avoid it, where Logan isn't happy unless he's doing something potentially risky.  He's the kid who pulls electrical cords out of outlets for fun, and sucks on the pulley string on the blinds.  If it could possibly cause him severe harm, you'd better believe that's what he's going to want to play with. 

So I've always known he's in for a few more bumps and bruises than sister ever had (which, let's face it, was pretty much none).  Knowing that didn't make this experience any easier. 

One trip to the pediatrician and a lot of guilty tears later, and everything is fine.  Thank the Lord.

My big girl, though, either decided she needed to be part of the action or was actually traumatized by brother's accident.  Let's just say that she was sent to bed at 6:30 with no bath, story, prayer or song.  Which doesn't happen often.  Or, well, really at all. 

When I went in to say goodnight, she broke down in sobs.  The kind of sobs that make you feel terrible as a parent, because they were accompanied by, "I'm so sorry mommy.  I really want to change that behavior."  (Cue the mommy guilt again.)

As I kissed her goodnight, I whispered, "I love so many things about you, sweet girl.  I think you're the neatest little girl I know.  You are kind and generous, and I know that your great big heart always wants to do the right thing.  I think you made some poor choices tonight, but you know what?  Tomorrow is a new day, and a new chance to make good choices.  And whether you make good choices or poor choices, I will always love you very much." 

She smiled a teary smile and gave me a hug. 

I'm so darn proud of those babes of mine. 

I hate the days when I can't wait to just be done and send them to bed.  As this day came to a close, Mommy needed a break.  A nap.  A moment to breathe.  A stiff cocktail. 

Tomorrow, we'll try again.  Hopefully, less the drama. 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Confessions of a scaredy cat

When I tell people about Casey's new gig and the fact that he's going to be out of town a lot, I always get this reaction:

"I don't know how you do it!  That sounds really hard!"

Okay.  I guess.  But it is what it is, and you kinda just do what you have to do, ya know?  We all rise to challenges and figure out ways to overcome them.  And that's totally how I feel about Casey being gone.  I'm okay like 95% of the time on my own.

But (cue total moment of embarrasing admittance) I suffer occassionally from... wait for it... paranoia.  And, I might also be afraid of the dark.

Me during the day: calm, cool, relaxed, totally not worried.

Me at night: Human version of a chihuahua hyped up on 'roids convinced that that girl from The Ring is going to come out of the TV every time I change the channel and absolutely positive the shadow on my lawn is actually some Norman Bates wanna be serial killer coming to hack me with a chainsaw.

You know all those horror movies where the girl is washing her face, and then when she opens her eyes there is someone standing behind her, waiting to murder her?  That happened to me.    ....Alright, so it didn't actually happen to me, but God knows it could if I wash my face when it's dark and I'm home alone. 
It's a constant conundrum. 
What's that?  You think I should have outgrown such childish behavior?  Well, let me just remind you about what always happens to "that guy" who's all, there's no such thing as (insert scary horror movie character here).  Don't be such a scaredy cat.  That's right.  That guy always bites it.  Now you feel bad, right? 
So I find crazy reasons to stay awake.  Hmmm, interesting.  I seem to have placed Pride and Prejudice next to Anna Karenina.  Better stay up and re-alphabetize all these books.  OOOOOH!  Look what's on TV!  I could so totally use a set of new towels with cats on them. 
Anything to avoid turning out the light.  Because, you know, lights are total murderer deterrant.
And God help us all if a door should mysteriously (aka harmlessly because of air flow through the hallway) open or close.  That's an obvious sign of a ghost/demon/zombie/all three.
There's prescription drugs available for this, I'm fully aware.  It's just that somewhere in my formative years I developed a love of horror movies and mysteries.  Which is why, like a chump I watch the zombies even though they literally keep me up at night, most especially when my husband is away. 
I'm trying to filter out these types of movies and TV shows, because I'm pretty sure they're a lethal cocktail for my overactive imagination.  And I NEED SLEEP!!!  Of course, two nights in a row I watched Kevin Bacon take on a women-killing serial killer (darn you, Kevin Williamson) because I like it even though it's totally campy and makes me jump at every noise.  Gah. 
Evidently, I'll never learn. 
So if you're ever awake at 3 a.m., think of me.  Because chances are I'll be awake due to some nondescript noise that would never haven woken me if Casey was here.  And probably also biting my nails and hiding under the covers. 
Besides, if I pull the covers up, no harm can come to me.  That's the rule.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Life lessons and a side of fries

The story starts with me not being able to sleep.

For reasons I'll tell you about tomorrow, I went to bed at 1, woke up at 3 with a big girl in distress because she couldn't find her water, then again at 4 with my Iwannanurse! screamer.  I got suckered in at 4 a.m. - no doubt in part because I hadn't had any sleep - and mistook his regular screaming for an actual emergency.  Then, since I'd gone in, he was reallymad because I wouldn't nurse him and so he screamed inconsolably for like an hour and a half.  Poor little guy. 

{Yeah, I kinda blew that one.}

And that was how day six of single parenting began.

Fast forward a few hours.  We're out running errands.  I'm hefting my wiggly 20 pounder while trying to simultaneously not give him brain damage by dropping him on his head and hold the hand of a girl who is alternately skipping and then slowing down until I'm practically dragging her.  All while also trying to avoid traffic and not drop the groceries.  Think Frogger with a few more complications. 

By the time I get the car loaded with kids and bags, all our tummies are rumbling and the thought of making lunch, then putting kids to bed, then cleaning up the mess from lunch seems really overwhelming. 

When I don't sleep, sometimes facing the day feels a little like that Greek myth about the king who had to push a massive boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down and start all over. 

So I did what any good mom would do in my shoes: we spotted the Golden Arches.  Air conditioning, a play place, clean up as simple as dump it in the trash.  Sign me up!

One of the only places to sit was in a booth behind a guy working on his laptop.  Which of course made me cringe because we're about as far from a "conducive work environment" as humanly possible, unless you're accustomed to working in the middle of a verbal tornado.  Or a maybe a lab that declaws cats.

We had lunch, Leah had a great time playing in the play place.  I even splurged and got everybody icecream, which isn't my usual MO.  (Future children take note: tired mom is super cool!)  We'd done a pretty good job.  Nobody killed anybody, I'd managed to save my sanity for the moment, and I was fairly sure we had only disturbed laptop guy a handful of times.  At least, he hadn't given us any dirty looks or packed up and moved as I'd anticipated he might. 

As I stood up, wrestling Logan, Sassy and helping Leah jump down from her seat, laptop guy turned around. 

"Ma'am, can I just tell you..."

Eeeeek.  I gulped and my heart sank a little.  An apology stood ready on my lips.

"...listening to you parent your children was the best part of my day.  You are a really great mom.  You handle them both with such gentleness and love, I hope that someday I'll find a woman who will be such a caring mother." 

My mouth kinda hung open and my eyes got teary.  I'm sure that if he'd anticipated my over-emotional response, he would have reconsidered his compliment.  I managed to mumble my thankyous without hugging and kissing him like I felt that I could. 

This happens to me a lot.  A lot.  And almost always when I'm at the end of my rope and need to hear it most of all.  I don't know who these angels are out there, but I am so grateful that they speak up.  I'll never be able to convey just how grateful I am for their kind and reaffirming words, which, as moms, we all desperately need to hear. 

That saying we used to have in elementary school, the one about how sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me?  Yeah, I don't agree with that at all.   Words are life itself.

And sometimes, when they come from unexpected places, they are just what you needed to keep on keepin' on. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

We're only shy when there's a camera around

We haven't had family photos taken since Leah was six months old. 

But, since just a few things have changed in that time, we decided that the time had come.

And guess what?  Taking family photos that involve four people is like sixteenbajillionty times harder than taking pictures with only three. 

Here's a little smattering of some things that were said that day:
Look at the camera.  Logan!  Logan!  Look right here!  Please stop picking up that pinecone and look at the camera.  Don't hit your brother.  STOP!  That's water, please don't go in.  Let's try another one, both kids are crying in that frame.  Pull your dress down, we don't get naked in public.  Ooops, my eyes were closed.  Honey, stop putting sticks in your mouth.  Tickle, tickle!  SMILE!  Please stop wiggling so you don't get dropped in the pond. FOR THE LOVE...! IF YOU TOUCH THAT GOOSE POOP SO HELP ME...

I won't tell you which statement goes with which child, it'll spoil the fun. 

All the same, we were able to capture some really nice shots.

We had them taken at Hudson Gardens, which is an awesome location.  But it didn't help that the wind was blowing like crazy, and both kids and the momma were allergic to pretty much everything.  And it was like 5:00.  Why I scheduled pictures during the Witching Hour, I'll never know. 
Oh well, live and learn.   


At the end of the day, I won't remember what a challenge it was to get these images.

I'll just remember how precious our little people were in the summer of 2013. 

Hooray for family! (and photos, too.)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I hope I'm not screwing this up

He screamed at me with very little interruption for five hours this morning.

That's not hyperbole.  I'm not trying to win you over with my sad story of being alone with a 10 month old.  He literally screamed at me for very nearly five hours.

Largely to tell me that he's protesting my veto of the 4 a.m. feeding.  After nearly eleven months of this waking up through the night, I'm all nope, you're done, it's time and Logan's all good luck with that mom, 'cause I'm not giving up without a fight.  And then he was completely exhausted for his 8 a.m. nap, which of course translated into no nap and more screaming.  I'm really, really working hard to phase out the screaming.  So far, it's Logan ten, Mom zip. 

It usually doesn't phase Leah, but in the car she held her hands over her ears and kicked my seat.  "Mommy, Logan's screaming so I have to kick your chair."  I translated that into, I'm feeling really frustrated about all the screaming.  I'd like it to stop and I can't do anything about it.  Me too, kid.

Fortunately she had a super good day to ballance out her brother's melting.  Which was lucky, because some days they tag team me.  And let me tell you: that girl can really push my buttons. 

The trouble is that her heart is so huge and her spirit is so loving, it is a daily challenge to keep her in line without breaking her.  She so desperately wants to do the right thing, and then of course she's three and human, which sends things into a bit of a tailspin sometimes. 

Jammies, lotion, milk and one story later, I watched his little eyes flutter, heavy with sleep.  He cups my chin with his little fingers and grins at me through the tired and I'm the one whose melting.  I hate that he has to scream it out.  I hate that he's not comforted to sleep the way his big sister was.  I hate that I make things worse by going in to check on him instead of better.  I hate that I can't go on letting him nurse to his little heart's content.  But I'd like to think all of those things are helping him grow. 

He goes down without so much as a peep

With a few minutes to ourselves, I watch my big girl tenderly swaddle her baby doll, rocking her to sleep.  "This is the most precious thing God ever gave me" says the most precious thing that God ever gave me.  My heart might explode.

It is a daily challenge - moment by moment - trying to make choices for these two that make me the mother each of them needs to grow into his and her best self.  Trying not to sacrifice everyone's longterm benefit for convenience in the short term.  To work within the framework of who they are and what they need without imposing who I am and what frustrates me. 

Everybody feels this way, right?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

On labor, forgiveness and a third time around

Watching my best friend have a baby was one of the super-coolest of the super cool moments. 
I heart this photo.  For reals.

For several reasons: 1) because watching a person come into this world is, like, overthetop amazing.  2) It was nice to see that labor and delivery can go the way it's "supposed" to - in other words, if she'd been doing this 100 years ago, both Jess and Lauren would have been totally fine (whereas I'm pretty sure I'd have lost both of mine and/or been dead...).  3) It gave me a new sense of accomplishment over my own labor.

Because, here is what a new mom looks like after 4.5 hours of labor:
Peaceful, relaxed, kinda glowy.
Here is what I looked like after 24 hours of labor:

Like I'd been through a war.  Like the postergirl for abstinence: Hey kids, keep your knees closed, or you'll wind up looking like THIS! (dramatic music plays.)
I've had a fair amount of guilt over the way my labor played out.  I wanted so badly to do the natural childbirth thing, and instead I put myself and my sweet little guy through hell.  His poor, poor head.  My poor everything. 
As I've re-played it, I keep thinking how I "should" have done things better.  I should have held on longer once the pitocin started.  I should have kept pushing so we didn't have to use the vacuum.  I should have been stronger; tougher.  The should haves have plagued me more than a little since August.
After watching Jess, I've finally given myself permission to let all that go.  My misconception is in thinking that people who are able to have truly "natural" childbirths are some sort of superhero and I am not. 
Here's the truth: Jess had 4.5 hours of labor.  Her entire labor from start to finish was less than the time I labored on my own on pitocin.  Not that she is any less awesome for having done it by herself - it's amazing - but I've been comparing apples and oranges.
The truth is that after about 45 minutes of intense, transition-level contractions, she had a moment where she didn't think she could do it anymore.  The contractions were heavy and coming on top of each other, and she was overwhelmed and worn out from having one big contraction.
This was my experience on pitocin.  Once that medicine hit my system, I never had a moment of peace again.  My contractions definitely peaked and lessened, but they never, ever went away.  And they were tough.  I always suspected that laboring on pitocin was a lot like laboring in transition, and after watching Jess, I'm convinced that's accurate - at least for me.  After 45 minutes of this she nearly called it quits.  I did more than five hours on my own, after already doing 12 hours on my own and with no end in sight.  And the knowledge hanging over me that I'd likely need an epidural anyway. 
She pushed five times and a baby appeared.  I pushed with absolutely everything I had for over an hour and still couldn't get him out.  Evidently, I had to push him from like my trachea.  At the end of her experience, Jess was totally wiped.  Exhausted.  I'd been awake close 40 hours in a row and had no food or water for at least 16 of those.  Exhausted?  I needed a whole new word to describe where I was at.
It sounds like there is a jugement or comparison here, and there isn't.  She did an amazing job.  Period.  But all this time, I've felt like I somehow didn't do an amazing job, like I caved early or didn't try hard enough.  If I could have done just a little bit more...
Now that I've seen what it takes under absolutely ideal conditions, I no longer feel that way.  I kicked ass - for hours and hours - even while I was getting my own kicked.

People who do this big job without meds are awesome.  And super lucky that their bodies are able to work flawlessly and easily to make that possible. 

We learned a lot.  And the crazy thing is that after all that, I still hope to go back and do it again.  We'll have to seriously weigh the options and consider whether to go the c-section route, because I can't willingly put another baby through that horrible experience.  The difference between my sweet baby Leah, who was alert, head up, nursing well right off the bat and my poor tiny, cone-headed, dazed Logan was truly alarming. 

But oh how worth it those precious little people are. 

I changed my font at