Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review

This year kicked off with me being let go from my job in my third trimester of pregnancy. Although that was humbling and humiliating, it ended up being good for us as we finally decided I would stay home after Holden was born. I spent the two weeks in between being let go and starting my temporary job finishing the toy room.
February was cold, and I was fat. I worked my temp job, Brandon spent his last full month in daycare, and in my free time, I finished Holden's room.
 
 With March came Holden's arrival. He came out with a bang and has been making a racket ever since!
In April, we had Brandon's second birthday party. I learned how much I hate throwing birthday parties. I was thankful for my mom's and my friend Anni's help. C-sections are no joke!
In May, I began working out. I started slow (very slow!) In all the time I wasn't working out, I was hanging out with the kids, taking them to the children's museum, shopping, or anything else to get out of the house and feel like regular people.
I don't remember much about June, but here's a picture of Holden at three months old. I think I mostly ran outside while Steve golfed on the weekends. Obviously it wasn't eventful.
 
In July we cleaned out our house, had a garage sale, then painted our house blue. 

 In August, I agreed to run Hood to Coast. I took Holden with me since he was a free lap child, and he met his Washington family.
 
Then football started! The Dolphins got our hopes up just to dash them once again. I made it to final two in our Fantasy Football league just to lose by four points to my brother. Football disappoints us all yet again. It's a love-hate relationship. A lot of it is hate.
 October meant the botanical gardens, the pumpkin patch, and trick-or-treating! Holden wore a hand-me-down costume that was much too small for him and Brandon cried when my sister and I tried to spray his hair black to make his Jake costume look more authentic.
November was about as eventful as June. There was Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday shopping. Other than that, I'm not too sure what went on.
 This month we traveled to Washington for Holden's first Christmas. My children are perfect travelers. Not so perfect on land though, as Brandon needs to learn to share and Holden loves to shriek. We loved all our adventures in 2014 and plan on many more in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Oversharer

I used to hate that I am a sharer. I share information I receive, and can not keep a secret. I don't even like to try keeping a secret, actually. It makes me anxious. When people preface something with, "you can't tell anyone this," I am curious, but it is probably best not to tell me. I will tell someone. At least Steve, maybe more people. I thought of this as only a bad quality, until I read Lena Dunham's book, and realized that if the world was full of only secretive people, we would never make any advances. It's not a bad thing. Not always, at least.

I read Gone Girl and was disturbed by the meticulous secrets Amy kept. The story seemed so implausible to me because I can't imagine keeping a secret for more than a month, let alone years. I do remember trying to be a private person, long ago. But the problem with that is that I come from a family of sharers. OK, busybodies. I kept diaries that were discovered. If I told one person something in confidence, it was leaked nearly instantly and soon people I didn't want to know knew too much about me. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So I gave it up and just joined in on the sharing.

Word spread because word will spread. Stories and secrets fight, stories win, shed new secrets, which new stories fight, and on.
 ~ China Miéville, Embassytown 

It works for me, really, since writing is my life passion and in order to write, there must be something to write about. I am officially embracing it now. I admire those of you who can keep secrets, but as for me, I will share

Monday, December 29, 2014

Two pictures

We just returned from our Christmas vacation in Washington, and I've got a yoga DVD and a hot bath calling my name, so I will just quickly post a picture of each of my boys this Christmas.
Steve got me Photoshop Elements for Christmas, so be sure there will be more pictures, once I edit some of my terrible ones into acceptable ones.
 
Hope your holidays were merry and bright!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

List to tell people

I think about making a list of all the things I need to tell people before it's too late. 
~ Jonathan Tropper, This is Where I Leave You

I read this and knew immediately that I must do it.  There are people very important to me that I appreciate and admire and never told them as much because it's so cheesy and awkward. Do you remember that scene from Sex and the City at the spa where they talk about a girl who isn't ashamed of being naked in front of people because she's "from a naked family"? Well, I'm from a family that doesn't speak our mushy feelings. But I can write it. So I have started it. Within minutes, tears were streaming down my face because of all that was inside of me that had been left unsaid. It was cathartic and needed - and that was just the beginning. I've only written three paragraphs so far. One day I will give these words I write to the people I'm writing them for.

The things left unsaid stay with us forever.
~ I wish I was Here movie

What I wasn't expecting when I began thinking what I would write was what I would learn from what I didn't write. We hold onto bitterness and resentment, but when you go to write down what it is you'd like to say to people, the mean and petty and vindictive just don't seem important at all. I've never regretted biting my tongue from saying something mean. But we all regret not saying how much we love and appreciate people. 

The important thing about life is love. Everything else is just a distraction. 
~ A blog comment I read (Original source unknown or was actually a blog comment)

Monday, December 15, 2014

"breast is best" only works if your breasts work great and your sanity is not in jeopardy

I'm a good mother. At least, not a bad one. OK, I'm a mother, and I am assigning myself adjectives that you may or may not agree with. The fact is, each day, my sons wake up to see the next one. They not only made it through the last day alive, but they spent a few minutes of it reading books, helping with chores, and not saying, "no mama!" in a fit of rage. So you agree now, right? "Good mother" suits me.

The thing with motherhood is that you're not the only one. You'll never be an expert in your field. When I had a job, I could talk above people's heads and say pointless corporate words in succession until their eyes glazed over and I could feel important. But with parenting, you don't lose people halfway through a story. They get it. Their kid eats and shits and complains too. Nothing you can say they haven't seen themselves. So as a mother, you never really feel like you've "made it" or are good enough.

By far the worst parenting judgment I've felt so far is with breast feeding. Full disclaimer here: I tried to breastfeed. I really did. And not just while I was in the hospital and the lactation consultant and nurses were forcing me to. I mean, once we got home, I even whipped my breasts out more than once and my babies sawed my nipples into whittled toothpicks with their razor gums. I had to have something to bite on the entire time, because the pain was worse than the C-section pain.

When I told someone who breastfeeds without problems how bad it hurt when my kids' turned me into some common dairy cow, she said, "you mean the pain was your uterus contracting, right?" like I didn't understand where the pain was coming from. The uterus pain was nothing compared to the nipple pain. I quit breastfeeding each of my boys after four days, so they each have an equal shot at being brilliant. I didn't want one to turn out to cure cancer and brag about how his mother breastfed him longer than his layman brother. No one gets advantages over the other! See, I told you I'm a good mother!

It got to the point with Brandon where he actually pulled a blood vessel through my nipple and a lump had formed in one breast. I know other women have this happen and they persevere through the pain, but to me, my sanity was important in my children's upbringing. With Holden, I was dreading each feeding, biting on a washcloth or an old work stress ball each time he clamped down, and screaming and writhing in pain. I switched to formula for each of them, but both switches were hard for me. I journaled about it, tears streaming down my face, feeling like a failure. Steve tried to console me and told me life would go on and we would all be fine. He was right. We are all fine. The kids are alright.

It was only last week when I finished reading Tina Fey's Bossypants that I finally saw breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding as a personal choice, rather than a parenting victory or failure. It's only today that I can finally blog about it without feeling ashamed and guilty. I will always do what is best for my children. And if having a snarling, angry mother writhing in pain was best for them, sure I could have breast fed longer.

Let's make a pact: you don't berate me for not breastfeeding my kids for more than four days and I won't berate you for letting them suck your tits when they have full sets of teeth in their mouths. Let's all do what is best for our families and stop telling everyone else our way is the best way.

We made the switch to an all-formula diet. If you've ever opened a can of infant formula mix, then you know it smells like someone soaked old vitamins in a bucket of wet leaves, then dried them in a hot car. Also, formula is like forty dollars a can. They keep it locked up behind the counter with the batteries and meth ingredients. That's how bad people want this stuff! 

However, the baby was thriving. I was no longer feeling trapped, spending thirty out of every ninety minutes attached to a Williams-Sonoma Tit Juicer. But I still had an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. I had failed at something that was supposed to be natural. 

I was defensive and grouchy whenever the topic came up. At a party with a friend who was successfully nursing her little boy, I watched her husband produce a bottle of pumped breast milk that was the size of a Big Gulp. It was more milk than I had produced in my whole seven weeks -- I blame Entourage. As my friend's husband fed the baby, he said offhandedly, "This stuff is liquid gold. You know it actually makes them smarter?"
"Let's set a date!" I screamed. "IQ test. Five years from today. My formula baby will crush your baby!" Thankfully, my mouth was so full of cake they could not understand me.
~ Tina Fey, Bossypants

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Smile for the camera

 I can't look at this picture and not laugh. He is such a silly baby.
 We have had a surprising warm snap around here. I mean, fifty some degrees! I ran outside last weekend and looks like I'll be able to do it again this weekend. No complaints here!
 I took a picture of Brandon the day we moved him into his car seat, so I also took one of Holden. You can tell they're brothers. They both have what my dad would call "smiling eyes."
 And here is his regular smile. Check out all those teeth!
 Brandon found my old digital camera in a drawer. He has been saying, "smile for the camera!" and "say cheese!" I took a look at his pictures. It's hard to tell if he has any skill yet, since he seems to prefer capturing his own fingers.
 Scooting around on his bike in the basement. Steve asked Brandon if he remembered who got it for him and Brandon replied, "Santa Claus!" (it was actually from Grandma and Grandpa)
Who is photobombing whom?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

SuperMom

Growing up, my mom could do anything. She could remove a sliver with tweezers and a straight pin, get my drawstring back through my hoodie using a safety pin. She could mend pants without making it obvious. Hell, she could even sew our clothes (and accessories). She could cook a Thanksgiving dinner, repair Christmas lights, assemble an IKEA bookshelf, style our hair using pink foam curlers. My mom is the oldest of eight kids, grew up on a farm, and was very active in 4H. I think that must be the triple threat of domesticity.

It seems like these days, I don't know anyone who is very domestic. Even people I know who claim they like to cook seem to just make a lot of quesadillas and pastas. Hell, even I can do that. These days, if a mom can use Google, owns a Crockpot, and can thread a needle, I would call that a triple threat. Probably because most moms work nowadays. There is barely enough time in the day to prepare for the next one. Perfecting the art of motherhood? When?!? I can seriously only think of two moms I know who stay home with their kids. Two! When I was a kid, I could only name two moms that worked. Being a mom is definitely a full-time job. But the fact is, in order to raise kids, often you have to have another full-time job to afford it. Less than 30% of moms stay home now.
True, today there isn't a need for that Pioneer Woman type they had back then, since most of us live in Suburbia and can drive to a tailor. Thankfully, none of us are going to be Little House on the Prairie-ing it any time soon. But I still like the notion of a mom being a bit like a SuperHero. You can throw anything at her and she will get it done. I don't want to be the mom that's always offering to bring the plates and napkins. I am determined to be a mom with some actual mom skills. I am one of the minority that stays home now, so if anyone has time to do it, it would be me. And no, I don't have that much time, either. Writing this blog is probably my only free time for the day. Maybe tomorrow I'll work towards the Mom/SuperHero thing. Today, I will just try to get try to get by. Chipotle for dinner, anyone?
Here is a sampling of the dresses and accessories my mom made us through the Christmases. And the magic horror of pink foam curlers.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

projectile vomit and potty training

Steve and I often marvel at how Holden has never been sick. We chalk up our good fortune to not sending him to daycare. Just another wise parenting choice we have made! We are awesome at this! And then on Monday night, he got sick. Monday night was the first time I've ever seen projectile vomit. It actually happens; it's not just in the movies. Vomit can come out of a mouth and go somewhere other than down. It went in my eye, in Steve's beard, and over every stainable fabric in the room. I would have laughed if I wasn't so freaked out. There is nothing funny about a child under the age of one being in any danger whatsoever. Sometimes I even worry the TV could give him seizures, that's how anxious I am about babies. It doesn't help that when you're pregnant you are pumped full of terrible scenarios that could happen to your baby! SIDS, suffocation by crib bumper, drowning in the bath tub - parenthood preparation is basically just worrying on crack.
He woke up in the middle of the night screaming. This kid is loud anyway, but his pain scream is unbearable. I thought it was a death scream. At 5 a.m., I called our pediatrician's on-call nurse. She spoke to me a little too calmly like I was worrying over a god damn spider crawling towards me, not like my baby could be dying. She explained that there was really no need to do anything besides give baby medicine for a "low grade fever." I didn't think 102 was low grade. In fact, my hasty internet search told me to go to the Emergency Room if his fever was over 100.4, so if anything, I thought I was under-reacting. At a more godly hour of the morning I texted my friend the nurse to be get some affirmation from another mother with nurse training that my son would live. She shared my concern, but also affirmed that he would live. Just what I needed to hear.
I think we're out of the woods now. I mean, he actually cracked a smile for me today. And per the usual, he tried ripping the Christmas lights cord out of the outlet and chewing on things he has no business chewing on. He is basically like a puppy but with opposable thumbs and better height. So, your worst nightmare. And that's when he's healthy. So glad he is back to himself.
 
Brandon was a near angel for me while Holden was screaming incessantly. He quietly entertained himself. And yes, I discovered later that he was playing with hairspray and screwdrivers, but nothing blew up. He found the infant pacifiers because I left the lock off the medicine cupboard, but I can live with that.
 Yesterday while I was addressing Christmas cards, he climbed up on the desk so he could help.
I was sitting at my desk again today (this time I wasn't being quite as constructive, just trying to find what I should buy with my Gap Cash), and this time he pulled out this typewriter. This was my mom's high school graduation present and as I have a bit of a fetish for typewriters and she has no use for it, she passed it along to me. Now apparently I passed my fetish along to Brandon because he was mesmerized. "I'm playing the computer, mama!" he reported with glee.
Let's be honest, I kind of let this kid run amok and do his thing this week. And don't mind all the pants-less pictures: today was my first attempt at potty training. I heard that if you just put them in underwear, after they pee themselves, they'll want to use the toilet because they won't like the sensation of it running down their legs. Well, my kid didn't seem to mind it at all. He peed through four pairs of underwear and never once notified me. I just kept discovering it when I would try to force him to use the potty and his underwear were already wet. Well, no one said parenting would be easy, right? Or maybe I just didn't take them seriously when they said it was hard. Nothing is hard for me! I'm awesome! Oh wait, parenting is. I'm not that awesome. I was awesome at not having to do anything hard, I suppose. But these new twists and turns that these kids keep throwing at me can't actually be a skill people inherently have. I think we all just learn what to do as it happens.

You shouldn't be putting all this pressure on yourself. They don't start this age. They don't start out as big as Max. They start out little and tiny and they don't talk or do anything but poo. You can handle that. And then eventually you work your way up into insanity.
~ 11.6.14 episode of Parenthood