Posted in Children

8 months

Hey sweet Emma!

You’re a little doll, dear.  As beautiful as ever, and growing so big.

For a while now you’ve been belly crawling, but this month you decided to try out the old hand and knee crawl.  It’s still a bit clumsy, and you really only do it when you don’t have a shirt on.  I don’t think you like the feel of the hardwood on your belly.  But you still prefer the “wounded soldier” crawl and drag one leg behind you.  You’re pretty fast at it too!  You certainly don’t let many things stop you either, that’s why your daddy calls you his little 4 X 4.  It’s so fun watching you explore your new world, and learning to be so independent.

You are pulling yourself up now to every surface that you can reach.  The ottoman, the dining room chairs, the toy box, the drawers in the kitchen, and mostly my pant legs.  You are a brave little thing, taking one hand off while standing up.  You think you are much bigger than you really are.  But I love your confidence and hope you always keep it, with humility of course.

Although your only 8 months old, the tag in your clothes says 12 months!  Thankfully, you haven’t had to go to the doctor since your 6 month check-up, so we don’t know how much you “officially” weigh, but when we weigh you, our scales here say about 19 pounds.

You have 2 new teeth, but you are a nonconformist, and decided instead of getting your two upper teeth like you’re supposed to, you might as well be a vampire for Halloween, and have cut one fang, and are working on the other.

Have I ever told you how smart you are?  Your mind works constantly.  You are super observant, and want to know how things work, like your car seat buckle, which I’m afraid you are certainly going to figure out.  You are trying real hard to patty cake right now, and I know you understand everything I say.  You yourself are a jabber box too.  You have all kinds of new sounds, you can say bye-bye and are practicing wiggling your fingers.  You talk all the time and I wish I knew your language.

I am trying real hard to be the best mommy I can.  Sometimes it’s frustrating because I don’t have an instruction manual for you, and I’m not sure if I’m making the right decisions.  Please always know you are loved immeasurably, dear one and I’m always thinking of you.

I love you!

XOXO,

Mama

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Favorites

I did not marry a literary kind of man.   I, on the other hand, love books, articles, the written word.  I come alive in bookstores and libraries calm me.  I love the smell of a new book, the way it has a little creak when you open it.  I do not own an electronic reading device and I still make trips to the local library to choose my books.

When I read something that speaks to me, whether it’s a book, a character, descriptive language, a quote, whatever, I always want to share it with someone.  This someone happens to be my husband.

I don’t know how long after we were married, after I had orated paragraph after paragraph of various topics to him, that  my husband informed me he hated being read to.  It just about broke my heart.  So now, I carefully choose my sharing times and always ask him if I can please read something to him.  He’s never told me no, he just endures it.  As is the husband’s job in marriage.  It should have been in the vows.

But before you start feeling sorry for me, just know that my little girl, EK, loves books.  Even thought she is only almost 8 months old, she shows delight in them.  She loves to pull every one off the shelves, chew on their covers, and eat their pages, which I think must be a sign of fondness.  Or genius.  Or perhaps just a nutritional deficiency, I guess only time will tell.

I get a free magazine called The Country Life.  It comes out quarterly and gives tips and inspirations for country living.  Things like how to arrange a fall flower container and the top 10 tools needed to get your home ready for winter.  Stuff like that.

But the very last part is an article written by a guy named Brent Olsen.   It’s very excellent writing in my opinion and makes you feel like all is right in the world.  So I asked my husband if I could read it to him, and even he agreed it was good.

And because I love to share things that speak to me, I now share it with you.

“Fall is a wonderful time of year.  A deep breath on a crisp morning expunges moist, stale pockets of air that have been cluttering your lungs all summer.  There’s a sense of urgency, an acceleration of pulse and ambition that turns the tired, sweaty trudge of summer into a brisk walk through falling leaves.  Winter is about enduring and dreaming, spring is unreasonable optimism, summer is growth and fruition-new potatoes and fresh tomatoes.  But fall is for planning and preparing.

It’s also about sitting on the patio in a worn wool sweater and warming your hands one the swirl of steam rising from a coffee cup.  It’s about walking across a darkened yard and seeing a flight of geese cross the face of a full moon.  It’s about settling in, relishing the sights and sensations of a world slowing down.

A house warmed by the memory of a sore back and splinters, and a kitchen table blessed by food there as a result of dirty fingernails, sunburn, and compost is a great and generous gift.  Enjoy your fall—we are each granted a finite number of them, and it is a vast mistake to let any go by without cherishing the moments that make them real.”

Fall and words:  these are a few of my favorite things.

And you?  What are your favorite things?

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children, Family

Feeding the Big Chickens

We recently had a family picnic at the park.  It was a beautiful September day and we were in the big city, so we decided to grab a couple burgers and enjoy them under the treetops.

The park has a big lake with walkers and joggers circling it.  A few fisherman had cast their poles into the water and were waiting patiently in their lawn chairs.  A sweet elderly couple sat at a picnic table, his arm draped around her shoulders, enjoying the day.

 

We sat right at that other picnic table fighting off the flies.  I watched  that little old couple and my thoughts turned romantic.  I smiled at the idea of  how sweet and long-lasting their love is.  Like something Nicholas Sparks would write.  And then as I eavesdropped a little more, I discovered that they weren’t an old married couple after all, but new companions.  He was telling her about the time when he was twelve and they visited Wisconsin.  He talked about the war.  She asked questions about his former marriage.  As we got up to leave, I snapped their picture, glad to know that new love exists.  That little white-haired couple lifted my spirits and reminded me that no matter how old you are, there is still time to make new friends.

We saved a little bit of our hamburger buns for the ducks.  Is it just me, or do you get a little wigged out when all the ducks start surrounding you, crowding into your space, honking and quacking?  I was attacked by a duck once, I guess you could call it that, and ever since that experience, I’ve been a little gun-shy.  Or duck-shy.

EK has a way of expressing her delight.  She OH’s.  When she sees that little black baby boy on the Pamper’s box, she says Oh, Oh, Oh, but drags it out.  She Oh’ed at the ducks and the swans.  I wonder what her little mind was thinking of those gigantic birds.  Maybe something along the lines of “Whoa man, that is one big chicken.”

She was just as curious as they were and when it mistook her bare toes for bread crumbs, she didn’t cry, she just Oh’ed at it.

When all our hamburger buns were either eaten or growing soggy in the water, we took a little stroll around the lake and enjoyed the moment with dreams of many more to come.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Children, Family

sleeping, eating, and other motherly woes

Of one thing I’m certain:  each day that I’m given is more proof of how little I know.

We’ve all been there, a time in our life when we thought we knew it all.  When we stuck our chest out and announced, if only to ourselves, “I got this.”

For me that was 7 months and 3 weeks ago.

 

Before her.

But now those days are over.  Although I’ve always felt like I relied on God, I can tell you that this day, today, without a doubt, I desperately need His grace, His direction, His wisdom, combined with His mercy and goodness and provision, tossed in with a good handful of His forgiveness and a shake or two of second chances.

Raising a child is hard. And I have a good one.  She’s not difficult, really.  Perhaps a touch stubborn and spirited.  She doesn’t sleep like other mother’s claim their babies sleep.  And she doesn’t eat like she’s supposed to.  She’s adventurous and bold, she’s determined and serious.   Sometimes she’s playful and occasionally you could even say she’s sweet.  Each day I ask God to help me and to forgive me.

If she has trouble sleeping, it’s because of me not her.  I have 0%consistency in my day.   Schedules are for trains.

If she has trouble eating, I’ll take the blame on that too, although she’s the one with her lips clamped together.

I’ve scoured the internet for help on every parenting subject that one could encounter with an almost 8 month old. (because the internet doesn’t lie)

*Breastfeeding
*co-sleeping
*baby wearing
*sign language
*pacifiers
*teething
*crawling
*separation anxiety
*night weaning
*sleep training

Plus lots more.
Through my hours upon hours of research, I’ve discovered there’s basically two camps of parenting.

1) “the force your baby to do what you want” camp

2) the “forget about your life, it’s officially over, make concessions for your baby’s needs” camp

I’m no longer looking for advice, I’ve received enough.  So really, you don’t need to give me any, but I will allow you to commiserate with me all you want!

I’m just writing to air my frustrations, state my opinions, and talk out loud.

Case in point.  Sleep trainers suggest that I put her in her crib for naps and at bedtime when she’s drowsy but still awake.  Not to rock her or nurse her, or give her any sleep crutches what so ever.  After placing her in the crib drowsy, but awake, she is supposed to put herself to sleep.  All on her own.  This has actually happened a time or two when she was smaller.  I can actually testify that when she’s in her appropriate window of sleepiness, as long as she’s not teething or gassy, when her diaper is dry, and her room is the correct temperature, as long as her nose isn’t stuffy or her socks aren’t too tight, and as long as the moon is in the second house, she will actually go to sleep.

But most of the time, when I put her in her crib, I get this.

Now, how can I tell her no and lay her back down, when for the last two weeks, I’ve been clapping and cheering every time she pulled herself up to standing?

Then she looks at me with this face of “aren’t you proud of me for pulling myself up, that’s a new trick you know mom.  When I’ve done it before you’ve danced a jig”, and yes baby I am so proud of you, and then she gives me the “aren’t you going to pick me up and hug me.  I’m whimpering over here?”

I’m at a crossroads.  If I pick her up, then she won’t understand she’s supposed to lay down.  And if I tell her,”no, lay down”, she won’t understand how proud I am of her for working so hard to stand up.  During this sort of dilemma, my maternal instinct usually wins.  The one that says love and comfort, hush her cries, make her feel safe and loved.  I know I’m reinforcing undesirable habits, but I can only pray that I’m building trust and reassuring her that she needn’t worry about her needs being met.

After giving this parenting gig a go for the last 8 months, I’ve come to some conclusions.

Of the little I know, this is what I know:

  •  All babies are unique.
  • I must figure what works best for my family.
  • If the situation isn’t a problem to the family, then the family shouldn’t let society (or the internet) convince them it’s a problem.
  • There’s really no right way to do this.
  • Most other mothers must be liars, wanting others to believe they have dream babies, or it’s been so long ago, they’ve forgotten.
  • I don’t have the answers and can only do my best.
  • I’m going to mess up everyday and I can only hope she doesn’t turn out to be Jeffrey Dahmerish.  Or worse.

 

God bless all mothers, everywhere!

 

Posted in Family

Picture Perfect

After we buried my dad February of last year, I drove back to Texas basically with a pickup, plants, and a photograph.

The pickup still sits in front of my yard, longing for a spin around town.

The plants, I’m proud to say, are flourishing.

And the photo sits on a shelf in my dining room.

It was one of his favorites.  At one point, being technologically disinclined, he asked my sister to put it as his profile pic on his Facebook page.  I don’t know how he expected her to do that, as he had the picture in a frame two states over, but nevertheless.

It’s a tiny picture, maybe a 3 X 5 in a cheap brass frame with parts of the frame chipped.  It displays a much younger us.

I remember the day.  Thanks to a generous landlord aunt, my sister had recently scored a cheap one bedroom rent house, albeit in need of some TLC.  I was helping her paint, when our dad showed up to check on our progress.  I’m covered in paint.  He’s not.  The hat I’m wearing leaves me to question.  Was I painting in that hat or was it on his head and I put it on mine?  I don’t recall the detail.

On the back, he’s written, “me & ang, yukking it up in ’91”

I can’t remember the exact conversation, but I know it went something like this:  my sister holding a camera, my dad draping his arm around me, my sister telling us to say “cheese”, and right before the camera snapped, my dad sucked in his gut, and I busted out laughing.

“Yukking it up in ’91” he called it.

If I’d  known then that we had only twenty more years together.  Twenty years.  It sounds like a long time when you say it, but it sure goes by fast. What would I have done differently?  Anything?

Throughout those years, we had many more times of “yukking it up”, and I’m grateful for every one of them.

But I can’t help but wish we could have one right now.

Miss you dad.

Posted in Children

Under the weather

It’s September 15th, or is it the 14th?  Regardless of the number on the calendar, it is my favorite time of year.  It’s a dreary, overcast day and my thoughts bounce around randomly, like an annoying fly trying to find a place to light, but never satisfied for long.

I’m feeling a tad under the weather, which seems fitting with the forecast.  I want to curl up in bed with a book and hide all day.  I would too, if I didn’t have a 7 month old competing for my attention.  She’s a bit under the weather too, and just wants to be held, but doesn’t want to sit still once I pick her up.  She’s obsessed with reaching and grabbing everything from the side table, attempting to climb on top of my head, or rubbing her face frantically in my chest, smearing snot all over my fourteen dollar sweatshirt.  Desperate for a reprieve to blow my nose,  I did the bad mom thing.  I turned on the TV.

As most of you probably know, we don’t have TV.  I can see you scratching your head now.  How can I turn it on, if we don’t have it you ask?  Well, we have an actual TV, but we have no cable, or satellite, or even rabbit ears.  We do own a DVD though, so I dug through stacks of exercise tapes, sneezing and coughing as the piles of dust billowed, and discovered a cartoon belonging to my niece.  Kung Fu Panda.

Since EK only gets TV time when we’re visiting someones house or when she’s watching Blazing Saddles with her dad, which is so appropriate I might add, I thought this was a win-win situation.

I imagined her in a TV daze while I vegged out in an antihistamine induced state of mind on the couch.

Turns out, she doesn’t care too much for pandas.  Or Kung Fu.  A matter of fact, I think I heard her say, “Pandas?  We don’t need no stinking pandas.”

I’m left with no other option but to sit here with EK on my head, watching a cartoon mouse with a Fu Man Chu do jujitsu, using the sleeve of my sweatshirt to wipe my nose.  Good thing it only cost fourteen dollars.

 

 

Posted in Children

The toughest job

When I was a teacher, just a few short months ago, I used to believe teaching was the hardest profession there was.  In fact, I’ve been known to tell people that very thing.

Now that I’m a stay-at-home-mom, I have changed my opinion and believe mommy hood is the hardest job there is.

More than likely if I was an artist, I’d think that was the hardest profession to be had.

The toughest job, I’ve discovered, is the one I’m presently working.

Suzanne gave me a devotional book for moms.  “A Time-Out for Busy Moms”.   I’m not sure if that really exists.  The book was in good condition when I first received it, but now the edges are ruffled and torn, tiny bite marks have dried the corners.  When I sit down to read it, EK is usually in her  favorite spot, my lap, and she would rather chew on it than let me read it.

She is a blessing and a challenge.  The simplest things are no longer simple.  Showers, toilet breaks, eating.  She has no regard for my basic needs.  She is an infant.  A selfish, needy, narcissistic little baby, just like every other baby that was ever invented.  She is at my feet when I fix a cup of coffee or when I wash the dishes.  If I walk away, she scuttles after me dragging her leg like a little hermit crab calling “mama, mama, mama”.  When she’s not at my feet or on my lap or in my arms, I must watch her like a hawk.  She’s exploring and discovering and learning things the hard way, like how a mousetrap feels on her little fingers.  All this, and we’re not even in the difficult age yet.  Give her enough time and she will be putting Cheerios in the toilet and displaying her artwork with permanent markers and nail polish on the dining room table.

To date, the biggest mess she’s managed is unloading about 15 wipies one by one, only after tasting each one first.

 

And yes, I took a picture.

I know other moms have this thing figured out.  They are doing a better job of it I know.  Their babies sleep through the night.  In their own beds to boot.  They eat their veggies and take a bottle so their mamas can leave them for more than three hours at a time.

I ain’t gonna lie, it’s a tough gig, and I’m doing the best I can.

Today she fell asleep in my lap and I was able to pick up my mommy devotional book.  We rocked while I read and it was one of the most peaceful and gratifying moments I could experience.  As I gazed down at her sleeping face, the corners of her mouth turned upwards and a small smile spread across her mouth. I imagined the angels were whispering in her ear.  I couldn’t help but smile too.

In the big scheme of things, this baby stage is such a short time in the span of her years.  Instead of wishing this and wishing that, I need to learn to appreciate every nuance and detail.   Before you know it we’ll be driving her to college.

I’m sure when I leave her in the dorm room, she won’t be the one crying then.