Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bib line

Necessity... the mother of invention.
 ~ Plato

This is my first parenting shortcut. Parenting chores are endless: laundry, taking out the diaper trash, picking up toys, and worst of all: the hand-washing bottles and toddler dishes. I swear I do this all the time. If both boys are asleep, you're sure to find me at the sink, catching up on the mountainous stack that has appeared in the past couple hours. 

Sure, I've gotten a little lazy about it: just washing the one bottle I need rather than the whole sinkful many times, just to need to keep doing that before every bottle. Last week I realized by slacking on the hand-washing, I had run out of bibs so I tied a still slightly damp one around Brandon's neck and he lost his cool. That was not acceptable. These bibs take forever to dry atop dishes in the drying rack. So I made a bib line. Now my bibs dry very quickly.

Yes, I understand that this looks tacky, but it is oh so practical! The water drips right into the sink so I don't have to wipe anything up. I've given up having a pristine home for the time being anyway - I have a toddler and an infant - shit accumulates. I'm a realist - I know expecting perfection is just insane at this point.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Parenting blogs

If you have ever read a popular parenting blog (like this one), you know that the comments are filled with parents ripping each other apart for being too neglectful or too smothering. Everyone is telling each other how to parent - everyone thinking their idea is the way for all children to be raised by all parents. There are countless books and philosophies and workshops to teach people how to parent correctly. I think it's ridiculous.

I think if you are a parent, you should be doing what you feel is best for your child. You are teaching them based on the way you feel they will learn the best. You are punishing them how you feel is most effective. Just because another mom does it another way doesn't mean you're right and she's wrong or vice versa. When did parenting become a "you're doing it wrong" instead of a cooperative "hang in there" nod to each other at the park? Why are people treating this like political parties of the attached or detached parenting styles?

I think we all form our own parenting style based on what we've learned in life ourselves - we will mix what we did like from our own childhoods with what we wish we had had. We will incorporate some of what we've seen from other parents that we respect. Some parents will be loose with rules and end up being their children's best friends. Some parents will run their household in strict order like an army general. Who are we to say that someone else sucks at parenting? None of us are doing it right all the time. Parenting is constantly evolving along with us and our children. We will learn what does and doesn't work for our own children and for us.

Our children will all turn out to be different people with different ideals. I sincerely hope all of us that have been blessed with the title of a parent are giving it our best shot. If we all just thought about what type of adults we want our children to grow into and then raised them based on how we think we can best instill those values in them, I think we would all be doing a pretty damn good job. Enough shit-talking each other already! The greatest compliment I could receive is that I'm a good parent, just as the biggest insult is calling someone a bad one. Quit bashing each other already and concentrate on your kids instead.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Family home for sale

My Grandpa's house went on the market this week.
This is the most sacred place in the world to me. I wrote about it here once upon a time.
It's been seven years since my Grandpa passed, but his home has stayed in the family - being rented out.
But my mother and her siblings agreed the time has come to sell it.
My mom sent me the link to the listing. It looks so empty without all our memories crammed in there.

They cut down the giant tree that housed the birds and squirrels my Grandpa loved to feed.
Gone is all the furniture - the organ, the wood-paneled bubble TV, the broken Papasan chair us cousins used to sit in when we played Sega Genesis in the basement.
Our pictures no longer line the hallway.
I smiled to recognize the hideous wood paneling and that bathroom zebra-print floor. The bones of the house are still there, but just the bones. None of the guts that made it so special to me.

I am sad that this house is going to be owned by someone outside our family who has no knowledge of the eight children who grew up here and their twenty-four grandchildren who spent holidays here. But I hope they enjoy the creek and the strawberry and raspberry fields and the woods and the old barn. I hope they can appreciate it in their own way, even though it won't be in the same way any of us appreciate it. I hope they feel the complete peace that comes from being somewhere special. I hope it becomes a sacred place to some other family like it was to our's.

People give pain, are callous and insensitive, empty and cruel...but place heals the hurt, soothes the outrage, fills the terrible vacuum that these human beings make. ~ Eudora Welty

(I don't know how many times I've used this quote already - I seem to always be thinking of it)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

3 months

Look who just turned three months old. 

 A half of a half of a year old.
For three months I haven't worked, but instead have taken care of my beautiful boys.

Best three months of my life, hands down.
I know them better than anyone does and love them more than I can explain.
There is something in raising up children that teaches hearts to love again in a whole new way. 
 Loving anew. Loving from the very beginning of time for someone. 
It's pretty special. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

fleeting time

I don't have many pictures of me with my boys since I'm usually behind the camera. But Steve snapped this one yesterday and I love that I have a picture with me and my tiny boy before he gets less tiny.
They grow up so fast. I can hardly believe that in two years Holden will be as advanced as Brandon is now. He will be rolling over and sitting up by summer's end. And maybe, just maybe, Brandon will be sleeping in a big boy bed and be potty-trained by Christmas.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Parenting philosophy

Someone asked me once what my parenting philosophy is.
"What the fuck is a parenting philosophy?" was my response.
I guess it's answers to all these questions that you agree upon with your spouse before your child is even born.

ie: Will we spank him? Will we let him cry or run to him? Will he sleep in our bed or in his crib? 
Blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, Steve and I didn't do that.

I guess my parenting philosophy is to do what I feel is best for my child. And it is constantly evolving along with my child. So maybe I'm not the most prepared person by not having a parenting philosophy. I'm more of a figure-it-out-as-it-happens kind of person.

My parenting philosophy is to be an active mom. And not just in the sense that I work out and keep my body moving (although that too). I mean when I'm with my child, I am also present. I found the first few weeks I was looking for distractions whether it was the TV or checking the internet on my phone. And I hated myself for it. So I deleted those apps off my phone and stopped watching TV during the day unless they're asleep and I'm working out.

I will be present in the moment with my children when they want me to be. I will play playdoh with Brandon and push trains around on his train table and hold him tight when the stampede scene comes on during The Lion King. I will dangle toys over Holden and sing silly songs to him and cuddle him and smooch him. And when they want to be alone, I will let them. Brandon can play quietly in his room or his crib or go to his grandma's house to play sometimes. We all need isolation sometimes.

My boys and I are figuring it out together. My "philosophy" with working out has been "do better than yesterday." I guess that is my philosophy in parenting, too. Learn from my mistakes. Make them learn from theirs. Make more mistakes. Learn from those ones, too. Repeat.

Friday, June 20, 2014

I've never:

On Monday I peeled an orange for the first time. It made me think of that game "Never have I ever." Here are some other rather commonplace things that I have never done:

1. Mowed the lawn
2. Broken a bone
3. Got my passport
4. Been to Disneyland or World
5. Got a manicure or pedicure
6. Been to a Cornhuskers or College World Series game (which might not sound like a big deal to you, but here in Omaha, it's practically a crime)
7. Done my own taxes
8. Learned how to French braid (I'm embarrassed by this. I will watch a YouTube video and figure it out today)
9. Posted a picture of my food or "checked in" on Facebook
10.  Been in a helicopter (this might not be commonplace, but I've been watching The Bachelorette and I swear all of them have been in a helicopter)
11. Had braces
12. Eaten asparagus
13. Gotten a tattoo
14. Spelled "camaraderie" correctly (yes, I just got the red squiggly line and changed it)
15. Had jury duty (this makes me sad - I would love to be summoned)
16. Worn Uggs or Crocs or really any "trendy" footwear
17. Owned a Barbie
18.  Skiied or snowboarded
19. Had a drink with soy or chai in it or understood what that meant
20. Watched The Godfather, Goodfellas, or Gone with the Wind. I haven't read the Harry Potter or Twilight books either, for that matter.
21. Been to a wine tasting. This is a real shame.
22. Worked retail
23. Watched a soap opera (unless Dawson's Creek counts. James Van Der Beek is my boy!)

There are also so many  more. I have, after all, lived a rather sheltered life. Which isn't all bad, by the way.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

My sons' father

Father's Day came and went and I wasn't cliché by writing something about how great of a father my husband is. But I will now. Because he is. Every day he comes home from a long day at work and without me nagging or asking, he changes the boys' diapers. He plays with Brandon outside in our muggy, humid, bug-infested backyard. He watches Oliver and Company on a loop with Brandon. He plays with Holden until he coos and then tells him to say, "dada." 
 
There are so many other things, too. Things that aren't so blatantly obvious: like how hard he has worked over the past few years to set us up with this house and so that I can stay home with our boys. And how hard he continues to work and how he challenges himself with new tasks.  
And possibly the most important way he is a good parent to his children is in loving their mama. A couple of weeks ago I was in our other car behind him at a stop light and he was unaware it was me. He told me when we got home that he had checked me out in the rear view mirror and said to himself, "that girl is hot. She looks kinda like Holly."
We are all so lucky to have him around. The best choice I ever made was saying "yes" when he asked me to marry him.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

kids say the darndest things

When is it that you stop marveling at the adorable things your kids say or every new thing they've learned? I haven't stopped yet with Brandon. I think everything he does is just amazing. He is this precocious, smart, adorable little ball of energy. Here are some of my favorite gems from him so far:

Me: "I love you Brandon!"
Him: "Yeah."
Me: "You're a man of few words, huh?"
Him: "Mmm hmm."

The other night he was drawing with markers and I told him it was time for bed. "Ten more minutes," he said. He didn't say it like a plea, more like a gentle command. I obliged him in his confidence.

Yesterday upon seeing my new water tumbler: "Whoa, check it out!"
Of course I immediately texted that to Steve because I had no idea where he picked that up and Steve reminded me that the chihuahua on Oliver and Company says that.
Note to self: Brandon watches that movie WAAAY too much. (And, every time he watches it he says, "I want kitty" and I'm not obliging him that).

Awhile ago Steve and I cleaned out the basement so today he brought up some of the items we're keeping. One of them is a Dan Marino medallion in a velvet box.  (If you're thinking this sounds like absolute crap, it is. If you don't personally know a sports fanatic, let me tell you: they think the most chintzy, gaudy, kitschy trinkets are treasure just because it has their sports team or their favorite player on it. It's ridiculous). Any way, Brandon just saw the velvet box and said, "I do!"

I had just finished a run on the treadmill and was dripping with sweat when I came up to pull Brandon out of his crib. He looked at me and said, "Mama: shower!"

And a couple Fridays ago before my weekly donut run:
Me: "Brandon, do you want to go get donuts?"
Brandon: "Yeah, and coffee!"

Let me remind you, he is only two years and two months old. I think he is brilliant beyond his years. My suspicions were confirmed when I met our new neighbors across the fence tonight. First, a cute antedote from my new six-year-old neighbor:

He was clearly coveting our swing set and mentioned our slide is bigger than his.
"Yeah, I suppose our's is sorta big," I said, totally trying to downplay it although I'm well aware that our playset is badass.
"It's like little big or big little," he said.
"Yeah, that's a good way to put it," I agreed.
He looked at me like I was illiterate and said, "or you could just say 'medium'."

Since I'm marveling at what a six-year-old says I doubt I will ever outgrow this bragging about my son's adorable lines. I guess people like me are why they had that show. Anyway, back to Brandon being smart: the six-year-old neighbor boy told me how old he was so I had Brandon tell him his age, too. "He's only two?" he asked incredulously. I smiled. "I know," I agreed.

Monday, June 16, 2014

incorrigible Peeping Tom

I am not shy about admitting that I am an incorrigible Peeping Tom. I have never passed an unshaded window without looking in, have never closed my ears to a conversation that was none of my business. I can justify or even dignify this by protesting that in my trade I must know about people, but I suspect that I am simply curious. 
 ~Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck

I am on a Steinbeck bender. I can not get enough of the guy. It all started with Of Mice and Men. Then The Pearl. Now I will not stop until I've read every word the man has written. I read the paragraph above last night and smiled. That is me. I have been looking in medicine cabinets since before I even knew what I was looking for. I love to find out about people, whether or not they've invited me to.

I was at the grocery store supermarket today (I hate that we stopped saying "supermarket") and was eavesdropping on a clerk and a customer's conversation. The clerk asked the woman what she was going to do for the day. The woman said didn't have anything pressing that needed to be tended to, so she was planning to sit at home and watch the rain. I love that she is watching the rain - I picture her on an Adirondack chair in her screened-in back porch with a mug of coffee, watching nature's violence.

Most of us take those free moments to stare at the television or do something else that is an entirely mind-numbing waste of time. But not this woman. She has her priorities straight. I am finding in my joblessness -- in my ability to be my entire self free of persuasion at all times -- joy in those simple pleasures. I am slowing down. Not everything is a deadline or a rush or a hurry. Some experiences are worth having.

But I will still be a total bitch to the person in front of me at a stop light that texts through the entire green. Some things will never change. But happily, some will.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why I still read books

It seems that every time I talk to someone about a story, they ask, "did you see that movie?" Because nearly every good book is turned into a movie sooner or later. I get it - books aren't for everyone. Who wants to sit down and read for a week when you can get the synopsis in two hours while also updating your Facebook status and checking out Kim Kardashian's latest bikini Instagrams? We live in a world of instant gratification, and books have not adapted to it.

But for me, even though I know the movie is just a Netflix click away, I still reach for the book. Why? I could write about this forever, but let me sum it up in a nutshell: imagination. When you read, you visualize the scenes and people with your imagination. The author sets up the idea for you, and your mind does the rest. In the movie adaption, you see the producer's version of the story. You see his imagination's interpretation with the actor choices, the sets, the way they speak. The story is speaking to him and then to you, rather than you interpreting it yourself.

The beauty of books is that the same story can mean something to different to everyone who reads it. I read the same two books every year and each time I notice something else, discover an adage I hadn't before. Movie characters often lose the dimensions and layers you get from a book character. You don't hear their thoughts and identify with them in your own way because they have been canned for you. They are instant soup. They are not a stew that has been simmering all day, the flavors mixing together and your home smelling better because of it.

This is not just about books anymore. Often times we select convenience over quality because of time. We have only so much time, and we don't want to spend it on something we don't see the value in. But often we never learn of something's value because we're not willing to invest our time. This world is pushing us away from what we used to value. Why call someone when you can text them? Why visit someone when you can Skype? Why make a homemade quilt when you can just buy one? Why do experiences even matter? Isn't it just the end result that we're really after?

So in not so much of a nutshell, that is why I read books. The experience I get from reading a book - the interpreting it myself - that is what I love so much about stories. We all see the world through our own glasses. Stories show us another perspective. And by reading it through our own glasses we can see the proximity of other perspectives. The world has not yet become so automatized that we have lost touch with each other completely. Or at least, I choose to believe that because I'm old-fashioned and still read books.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Greeting cards are a racket

Cards are ridiculously expensive. So you know what I do? I make photo cards and go pick them up at Walgreen's an hour later. Photo cards are usually $1.33 with the discount of the week.
And they're a lot harder to throw away with the personalized letter and pictures.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

crib time

It's time to move this handsome little devil out of the bassinet and into a crib.
Brandon isn't ready for the bed though, and we only have one crib.
So instead of stressing us all out about the big boy bed situation, we're going to see if we can find another crib for a couple months. Happy boys make a happy mama.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Longacre Park

In September 2006, right after returning home from our honeymoon, Steve and I moved to Fairview Heights, Illinois. Across the street from our little apartment was Longacre Park. I went there nearly every day, sometimes twice to walk or to run. I have never loved running as much as I did there on that trail. 

Although it's been nearly seven years since I've been there, lately it has resurfaced in my mind, probably since I started running a lot again. I smile before I fall asleep at night, imagining the trail and remembering every inch of it. Remembering it makes me happy. So I want to write it down, for when I can no longer remember it without reading this. 

It's a 1.5 mile track, and I start right before the 1.4 marker. I run across the street - it's only one lane going each way, but it's busy nonetheless. My feet quicken naturally once I cross off the sidewalk onto the grass, for there is a sharp yet short slope down to the trail. Once I hit the trail, I turn up my iPod. There is a quick turn and a cluster of trees. I can see the pavement ahead now.

1.5 Marker - flat, short and winding tenth of a mile - there is a field to my left and there are people throwing around a frisbee. In front of me, cars are pulling into the park. I cross a short bridge, then make sure no car is about to hit me and I cross the pavement to the start of the trail.

Beginning marker - there is a drinking fountain here and then the trail turns sharply to the right and climbs a hill. The hill isn't too high, but is the highest one on this trail. I take the hill on my tip toes, which always eases my hatred of hills for some reason. The trail here is matted dirt and a lot of pebbles, large and small. To my left is a field that doesn't seem to get much attention. To my right is a thin row of pine trees separating this trail from the road that runs next to it here.

.1 Marker - the top of the hill. I take a deep breath and exhale slowly. There is shade here from the pine trees, and then the trail turns left. I can see the lake - it is a quarter mile away by way of the trail but only 100 meters if you run down the hill from where I am.

.2 Marker - the neglected field on my left, a picnic table on my right and now a hairpin turn, taking me back towards the road, but this time down a small hill, over a tiny wooden bridge. Now the lake is directly on my left. I switch my iPod to an upbeat song because I want to finish running around the lake before the next song ends.
.3 Marker - the road on my right is high above me now, the lake is sunken down from there. There are people walking slowly, many feeding the ducks in the water. There are people with cameras, with seemingly nothing to do or nowhere to be. It is nice to see. I sprint here, wanting to get out of there way, let them get on with doing nothing.

.4 Marker - here the trail turns around the oval bottom of the lake. This part is always hard for me, for some reason. Up ahead on my right there is a an access road for maintenance crews and drunk people, perhaps. I see a groundsman on a riding lawn more and pick up the pace, self-consciously.

.5 Marker - the easy part before the next marker, and the last full tenth of a mile before I'm out of the lake area, but for some reason, I don't enjoy it. I'm too worried about all the Canadian geese around me, imagining my presence will piss them off and they will begin attacking my simuntaneously.

.6 Marker - there is a slight hill here, and people everywhere, milling about. Some people on dates are having picnics, other people are waiting for someone who is in the bathroom, which is a wooden building here. I always hurry through here, too, eager to escape the ducks and the people I don't know.

.7 Marker - I look for cars again here, although they rarely drive this far into the park. There is a pop machine here, and I always think this is such a great idea and every park should have one. I love the last half of the trail here - this is where only the exercisers go. There is no lake and the scenery isn't particulary beautiful, but there is camradarie in those of us who are still pushing along.

.8 Marker - a field on my left again, some boys casually tossing around a baseball. Here is where I see the lady who was walking in the opposite direction when I started. I look at my mileage and estimate how much faster than her I am going. I calculate how far I should be when I see her next and determine to make it a little farther than that.

.9 Marker - I just crossed over another tiny wooden bridge. There was one of those long forgotten wooden exercise contraptions with instructions on doing pull ups. The trail turned, and I started to lose motivation so I switched my iPod to a power girl song.  This next stretch is straight and I need to sprint here again like I did back at the .3 Marker.

1 Mile Marker - The field is on my left, which gives me some comfort in the company of strangers, because on my right is a thick grove of trees and shrubbery. There are rabbits darting around. I know on the other side of it is a neighborhood, but I can't help but think of what a great place this would be for a lurker. It is dusk now so I speed up in the paranoia that there is a stranger in the shrubs, planning to grab me. I will outrun him.
1.1 Marker - there is a baseball field on my left now. There could still be a lurker on my right. I don't allow myself to slow down until I make it around the corner.  The trail turns left as soon as I pass home plate. I run away from the shadowing trees and bushes and now I can see the parking lot from here. I slow down a bit, telling myself not to slow all the way to a walk. One time I ran by here and there were a few kind women with a cooler handing out ice cold bottles of water. I always hope they will be here again, but they never have been since.

1.2 Marker - the trail turns right and there is another baseball field. I am running by chain link again, this time it is butted right up against the trail - I could drag my hand along it if I wanted to - which is discouraging. I can see the busy street I need to cross ahead of me and I power through, even though I'm panting and exhausted. Once I reach home plate, the trail turns around to the left.

1.3 Marker - the busy road is to my right,  trees here on the left, and there is a nice scattering of crunchy leaves on the trail. They have just erected the "Seasons Greetings" sign for the impending holidays. This part of the trail is where I decide whether I'm going to veer off for home or run another one. I can run another one. 

This is where I learned to love to run. I hope to one day run here again, and relive all of this. I don't know why I would ever be near East St. Louis, but if I'm ever passing through, I will stop and lace up my Sauconys and run four laps like I used to.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Beautiful sleep

At the hospital, they must have swapped out my baby with a French baby. Because Holden already does his nights. Two months old, and he sleeps until morning! Until this week, he woke up between 5 and 6 for his first feeding, but twice now, he has slept until 7a! Then, of course, because I am a woman of leisure, I hold him in bed until he falls back asleep and we're usually up for the day between 8:30 and 9a. Sorry to the other couple who got my crabby, moody baby. I'm not switching back! I'm the most well-rested mother of an infant there ever was.

Holden is now into size 3-6 months, but I probably could have hopscotched this size altogether. Per the tags, he is only a half pound away from the next size. There is not enough time in this size for all the clothes he has! I think I must have thought everyone buys 0-3 month clothes, I should stock up in 3-6 months. It's ridiculous, really, that this kid has more clothes than probably both his parents combined. Here is one of his few non-hand-me-downs.
Last night, Brandon didn't want to be alone. He kept saying, "baby in crib!" (he hasn't mastered articles yet). So I obliged him for a few minutes. He is so happy when he is next to Holden. It's amazing that just a couple months ago he didn't know the joy of being a big brother. Now, he can't get enough of it.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Woman of leisure

If I were returning to work, this would be my last week of maternity leave. Monday I would be at work: waking up at six something, dropping the kids off at daycare at seven something, then rushing home at five something to start dinner and spend a few precious hours with my kids. I would have spent the last eleven weeks worried about who is fucking up my work back at the office and what a mess I was going to return to (yes, I think I can do my job better than anyone else can).

But instead, I've been calm. I have been a much more laid-back version of myself than I knew existed. Of course I have still been moody at times, but I have chilled the fuck out, for the most part. Not having the stresses of work weighing on me has been good for me. I can handle the kids and their poop blowouts and their moodiness, because it's something I want to do. I'm not doing this for a paycheck. I'm doing a job I love, not working a job that stresses me out and keeps me awake at night.

I think we all wondered if I could stay at home, since I really threw myself into my work before. Thankfully, the answer is yes, I can do this without getting bored. Because I don't sit around watching daytime TV. I exercise and I write and I take the boys on "field trips." We read books together and play endlessly at Brandon's train table and sometimes I just stare at Holden's beautiful face while he smiles and coos at me. The days fly by.

I could do this. I could be a woman of leisure that doesn't work an 8 to 5 job. I could retire and not be bored at home, staring at a wall. Because I have hobbies and goals and ideas. I think that is what it takes to stay sane - projects and activities that make you happy. Because if work is the only thing that makes you happy, are you really that happy of a person? I know without it, I'm much better off. A woman of leisure - put that on a business card and let's call my career a wrap.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

baby weight

I haven't been average weight for my height (or what I call thin) since before Brandon. I used to exercise a lot and the first year Steve and I were married, I actually looked pretty damn good (which for me is in the 140s). Since then, I have still exercised pretty regularly - always keeping goals and trying pretty hard to hit them, just not with quite the same intensity as the first year of marriage. Then I got pregnant with Brandon and didn't worry about working out since I was going to get fat anyway.

I weighed in at 183 the day Brandon was born. Within three weeks, I was down to 167. And I have never been that low since. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism about six weeks after Brandon was born. I probably used that as an excuse to not work out as much and not to watch what I ate. I have a god damn condition, after all. How could anyone expect me to be healthy? I stopped watching what I ate altogether and indulged in whatever I felt like. E.L. Fudges? Sure! A quart of ice cream? Don't mind if I do! Donuts, donuts, and more donuts? Yes, yes, and yes!

Before I got pregnant with Holden, I was already wearing maternity jeans. I never even packed them away after Brandon was born. In fact, those are the only jeans I have worn for about the last three years. I was back up to 183 when I became pregnant with Holden. I was even less healthy in Holden's pregnancy than I was in Brandon's. I ate a lot of Peanut Buster Parfaits and Lamar's donuts. I don't think you can even imagine how much I mean when I say "a lot." Steve used to joke that the guys at Dairy Queen had my Peanut Buster Parfait ready for me each night at 8:40. I can count on one hand the amount of times I worked out.

I weighed in at 203 the day Holden was born. I was hoping not to break the 200 mark, but I didn't do much to stop it, either. When I got home from the hospital, I was only down to 189. Which I thought was rather ridiculous, considering Holden weighed nine pounds himself, plus I hear the placenta is another five. There is a lot more to losing baby weight than just giving birth though, unfortunately.

So I made a goal for myself to get healthy again. I can do a much better job of parenting two young boys if I have more energy. So I stopped eating so much shit. I don't drink a pop every day now (in fact, I rarely do at all). I have limited my Lamar's donut runs to once a week (you have to have something to look forward to). The Dairy Queen guys have either wasted a shit ton of Peanut Buster Parfaits or stopped having them ready for me. And I started exercising.

I made a goal of logging 45 miles in May. In my prime, I would log 100 miles a month, but I had just got cleared to exercise again and wanted to give myself a little breathing room as I got acclimated to it again. I finished up the month at 69 miles. On top of that, I also did pilates, yoga, or free weights and crunches 18 times. I had a weight goal of being somewhere in the 160s by June. I didn't quite hit that goal - I was at 170.4 at last weigh in - so just a half pound away. But what is more important to me than the number on the scale is being healthier. And I am certainly that!

Of course, I have a long way to go. Being healthy never quits, so I keep goals every month regardless of my weight. I still eat out and drink blended coffees. I just do so in moderation (or more of a moderation than before. I don't think I will ever sacrifice either to less than twice a week). I put away those god damn maternity jeans. I should burn them, really. I am a more active and happier person already, and it has only been a month. I'm hoping by the end of the summer you won't be able to tell by my body that I have birthed three children.

My favorite part of my walk/jog

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Just two?

Within an hour of me waking up after Holden was born, Steve and I vowed we would stop at two children. We were not going to have any more. We weren't going to talk about it anymore - two was it. The experience was traumatic and we have said from the beginning that two boys would be our ideal family. And here we are - at exactly what we had dreamed of.

But...

I can't help but wonder if our decision is the right one. Both Steve and I have more than just one sibling. I ask him, "can you imagine your family without your little brother?" and of course he can't, and of course I can't. Our little brothers complete our families. Of course we wouldn't have known there was something missing if we had never met them, but something would have been missing. We know that now because we know life with them.

The Mormons believe that before people are born, they live as souls, waiting to inhabit a body. They believe that when you feel that a spirit is wanting to join your family, you give them a chance to do so. I think that is beautiful. And also, dangerous thinking to someone like me - I would never stop having kids. I feel there will always be room for one more child for me to love. I would want to give bodies to all the orphan spirits and would end up with my own reality show ala the Duggars.

Perhaps I will always feel there is something missing from my family because Gracie is a part of a different one. Perhaps I could have six or seven more kids and still wonder about the ninth or tenth child - what he would be like and how we could possibly live without knowing him. I did not know I would love being a parent so much that I would want to do it over and over again. But I do. As Holden outgrows each stage, never being able to relive it with another baby feels sad to me.

So we agreed on two. I believe I actually started that conversation. But I never promised I wouldn't wonder "what if?" Because I know I always will.