The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.
Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.
I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.
Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless. Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.
There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be. Then suddenly wasn’t to be.
I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.
I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.
I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?
We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.
Okay, here we go. I must start this blog with a disclaimer.
There are bloggers who make money blogging. I’m not one of them (although that’d be swell).
There are bloggers who have perfect pictures of projects that people pin on Pinterest. I’m not one of them. I don’t even know how to put a P on my pictures so that people could pin them on Pinterest (although that’d be swell).
I’m just a mom, who happens to blog, who is trying to celebrate my kid’s birthday in a fun way using ideas from Pinterest that I’ve stolen from other people who make money with their blogs.
You will not find anything original here. Or anything perfect. You might even see messy. Or real. And that’s my life. Judge not (that’d be swell).
So my little daughter EK turned 4 and she requested a My Little Pony party. My town (consisting of Walmart and 14 dollar stores) had absolutely nothing in the way of My Little Pony party supplies. So we stole the idea of using Rainbow Dash pony as our Lead Horse and combining rainbows with My Little Ponies, but mostly just rainbows. When I say we, I mean me. Because rainbow parties are cool. Rainbows are cool. She’s 4. And if I put a few ponies out and about on the tables, that’d work, right? (Secret: I don’t even think I had a Rainbow Dash pony out anywhere!)
Parties can get a bit out of hand these days. It seems like moms keep pushing the envelope. How big can they possibly get? I really really really really strive to have a simple party. But then suddenly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I look around and I’ve got ponies and rainbows and icing up to my elbows. And you know what else? I don’t even like parties! But I will tell you, that when my little girl walked into the room and saw the decorations, her little face lit up. She jumped up and down clapping. Ran over and hugged me around the legs. She kept saying how excited she was and it was right there in that moment, I realized that I may not like parties but my little girl will only turn 4 once and even if no one else came to help us celebrate, we will celebrate. It is her life. The day she came into our world and changed it forever. She is worth celebrating! The party may not have been picture perfect, but we had a great time and here it is.
I didn’t have time to get a great invitation together because at almost the last-minute, something came up and we had to move the party up a weekend. So I just did what we did in the “olden days” and bought invitations at one of the 14 dollar stores in town and handwrote the Who, What, When, and Where on the blanks ha!
Doing a rainbow theme is easy when it comes to decorations, because you can find the colors of the rainbow anywhere and everywhere. The backdrop in the following picture is made out of plastic tablecloths that are hung in the colors of the rainbow and the poufs and balloons are supposed to be clouds. I used some old banner and tablecloths from her 2nd birthday Sesame Street themed party and added them to save money.
Because our party was from 4-6, we served some hotdogs and chips. I also threw together a veggie platter, trying my derndest to use the colors of the rainbow, but really other than orange bell peppers and eggplant, some veggies just don’t come in the colors of the rainbow. Also a fruit platter, that when you look real closely may, in just the right light, maybe with one eye shut and your head tilted at a 30 degree angle, might look like a rainbow with some marshmallow clouds.
Our cake was a 5 layer rainbow cake following the colors of the rainbow. At first, I was going to make the batter and use food coloring to color different batches of dough, but at the store, I found already colored pouches of cake mix. It was still a booger to make (lots of dirty dishes) and cutting it was a chore, but it turned out fun. We added skittles to the outside for a little extra rainbow flair. J-Dub of course helped me with the cake as I was about in a near tizzy when it came to icing it and a full-blown tizzy at cutting that tall sucker. It started to look like the leaning tower of Piza. It was taking both of us to try to hold it up and cut it without making a total mess. I can’t say we succeeded on not making a total mess. It’s just a good thing kids don’t care!
For fun, we dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles. EK really enjoyed helping with this. Now, this isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a couple of tricks to getting the stick to stay put without breaking the Oreo into fragments. You get to eat a lot of broken Oreos while you’re doing this! Well, you do if you’re me.
I baked a few cupcakes and since there wasn’t too much chocolate and I personally prefer chocolate, I put some chocolate icing on these which turned our reminding me a little bit of hot mess of dog poop sitting on top of a cupcake, but if anybody else thought so, at least they didn’t say anything. Again, kids don’t care.
I always worry about the activities and games. I think it’s the school teacher in me. I have learned from a schoolroom full of kids that when their time isn’t filled with structured activities, they will find a way to fill it, and it may not be what you want them to do. So I always overplan on this part and they usually just end up playing their own games instead of mine. Maybe one day I’ll learn to relax and trust the process a little.
It worked out that since we lived in the country and EK’s daddy had a horse available, we were able to offer pony rides to go along with the theme of My Little Pony. We also asked a friend from church to come out and give each child their own “cutie mark” with face paint. EK wanted a piñata, and so a few kids got in on that, but we were running almost out of time and many guests left before this. Unfortunately, during all the hustle and bustle, I wasn’t able to get pictures of any of these activities.
I had also bought a little photo booth kit, you know one of those funny faces photo booths? I thought the kids would love this, but they didn’t. I practically had to drag kids into it to participate. For this age of guests, I think I should have put up a mirror near it, so they could at least see what the looked like before the picture was snapped. I did have a few willing participants. That’s EK in the cat eye glasses and a few of her cute friends.
Emma had a lot of fun with her friends and family and it turned out to be a great time. As soon as it was over, she said “I can’t wait to turn five!” She’s already planning her next birthday! Thankfully I have a year to rest!
It seems I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. Anyone else?
I love all the “stuff” it offers, the great ideas, the pictures of beautiful places, the words of wisdom it imparts. Like this one:
One of my favorites.
But I hate all the other”stuff” about it. The pressure it exerts to be the perfect, cutesy mom and do all the perfect, cutesy crafts; the outfits that look adorable and amazing on the model but will never look like that on me; the guilt I feel because it sucks my life right into it’s Pinteresty little claws and leaves me wondering where my day has gone and if I’ve fed my kid.
But today I’m feeling the love kind of day for Pinterest.
Today I have an Ode to Pinterest. A very short Ode.
Pinterest, oh Pinterest, how I adore thee
After 973 failed experiments ,
One finally worked
I attempted a chore chart for my pre-schooler. Technically a chore chart, but casually called a to-do list because that really sounds so much more grown up.
You see my biggest fear, my greatest ambition, my strongest drive as a mom is simply not to screw my kid up. That’s all I want. Really. I just want her to grow to be a well-adjusted, responsible, kind human “bean” that does a little bit of good in this world and casts a little light in a dark place. Is that too much to ask?
I’m trying my hardest to keep her from being an ingrate. An entitled, rude, spoiled rotten brat. Uh…it’s not really going so good some days.
It seems simple doesn’t it? Give her lots of love, boost her self-esteem, teach her manners and responsibility, don’t spoil her. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve read all the articles.
But it’s so much harder than that. Because this little human that I’m trying so desperately not to screw up, has a mind and a will of her own. And because there comes a time that your smart little girl who you’ve praised her entire life for being so smart turns into a little argumentative know-it-all in pigtails because she really believes she KNOWS IT ALL. And whose fault is that? (All heads turn toward me).
Just trying to build her up and not tear her down and what have I created?
So that’s when I have to take a deep breath and just keep on keeping on.
Side note: to all you parents of teenagers out there—-I really don’t need to hear the “oh you just wait. These are the easy years. It only gets harder” crap. That’s not exactly words of encouragement, in case you didn’t know.
Now onto the chore chart/to-do list.
I stumbled across it on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a try. Today was our first day with it and it worked beautifully! It was almost a game. A wonderful thing I tell ya.
I used this person’s idea
but instead of using a clipboard, I used a cutting mat because it’s what was here at the moment I got this wild hair.
These are awesome and have lots and lots of options for all age kids.
We went through looking and reading all the pictures and then I put four on her chart (not the four in the picture because I decided to take a pic after the fact and those just happened to be the four I grabbed.
She carried her chart around with her keeping track of her to-do’s (wished I’d gotten a picture of that), moving them to the DONE column as she finished. She was so proud. We added four more and she worked so hard to complete those too.
It was so fun, I think I’ll make myself one and I’m not even kidding. There’s just something about seeing those colored pictures and moving them to the DONE side that’s better than crossing out a to-do list, and I do despise a to-do list.
The most fun was the “pick up 25 things card”. There are always things out of place around here. Hair ties. Markers. Books. We made it a little race to see who could get 25 things put away first.
I used velcro for our chart, and the velcro kept peeling off the laminated cards so I’ll probably have to add a little super glue. I think using magnets on a cookie sheet would also work really well.
I’m going to adjust ours and use it three times a day. Once for her morning routine, once for her chores, and once for her bedtime routine.
Hopefully the eagerness on her part will continue and the consistency on my part will as well. Let me know if you try this, how it works out.
We danced in the rain, arms outstretched, face upwards.
We water-colored and crayon colored.
We cooked and sang.
We kicked a soccer ball and practiced writing the letter S.
We read books and looked for hidden objects in the pictures.
There are a million things my mind tells me I should be doing. Like packing to move 400? miles away. And cleaning the house. And fulfilling commitments that I promised I would do. I should be doing laundry and keeping a more daily skin regimen and I should not be eating icing from the can with a spoon.
I sneak in my “Me” moments, (which are not “Me” moments at all, but just the stuff you have to do to keep life running) at times when I can. I try so hard to balance the attention I give her with the other things that need my attention. Am I harming her more than helping, I can’t help but wonder. Will she turn into one of those entitled, selfish brats that I read so many articles about because of my “overparenting”?
Those are the things my mind tells me. And my heart tells me that sticky fingers do indeed wash and wearing the same jeans two days in a row is not the end of the world. That knowing she is loved and cared for is truly more important, isn’t it? Isn’t it the most important? My heart tells me this time with my daughter is short; shorter than I realize. I have friends posting graduation pictures of their children on social media, and I count the years remaining. Fifteen. I actually count those years more often than I should. Fifteen years until I can have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband. Fifteen years until I can sleep late again. Fifteen years until I can go to the bathroom without someone barging in. Actually, I have way less than fifteen, I know.
Motherhood is such a battle at times. Your heart battles your mind. Your shoulds battle your should nots. Your selfishness battles your self-sacrifice.
Some days I wish it were easier. I wish that I could be assured that everything I’m doing is right and good and that this little person is going to grow up with fond memories of family and fun and me. That she will possess responsibility, integrity, morals, and high standards. That she will grow up self-sufficient and independent, yet never act arrogant nor pretentious. That she will grow up and know love, and be able to show love to others. I choose to give her my time and my attention. I choose to help her know she is important and she matters. Only time will tell if I’m doing it all wrong.
We picked a fluffy dandelion and she asked me what I wish for. I looked into her deep brown eyes and said I already have everything I could ever need. I wish for her wishes to come true. She looked around the yard and saw her purple chair and said she wishes for a purple chair.
On this day a year ago, we lost my grandmother on my dad’s side. She was a beautiful lady who just happened to be born on my daughter’s birthday 94 years earlier. She left this world at age 96.
Because we lived a good distance apart, I don’t have a vast amount of memories of her, but the ones I have I hold near and dear. I have blogged about her before here. As a testament to her greatness are her children. I truly have never seen children love their mother so much. I have heard others, and have been guilty myself, of complaining about our moms. I have seen children growing frustrated with their aging parents and speaking harshly at times. But not my grannie’s kids. They loved her, doted on her, spoiled her rotten up until her last days. We can only hope to be as lucky in love.
I remember when I heard about her passing. We had known it was near, but one can never quite prepare themselves for the grief that comes. To be very honest, I was surprised at myself for my emotion that followed, but it was an emotion that I had never felt before. I don’t even know if I have the words to convey it. But it wasn’t just loss. It wasn’t just sadness. It wasn’t an empty feeling. It was a realization instead. A deep realization, that if the world follows natural laws, all the people who came before you will leave before you. Of course logically I know this, but she was my last grandparent remaining. My father had already died, and I realized that now my mother only remains.
I experienced a deep understanding that I am one living person left of being an orphan. I know it sounds ridiculous. An adult orphan. But my last grandparent dying made me realize that my mom is all that’s left of the people who, because of them, I exist.
Maybe no one else knows this feeling or maybe I’m just terrible at explaining it, but it’s what I know.
But anyway, time marches on, there’s nothing we can do about lost time or lost loved ones but to keep on living and remembering them.
The only thing that stays the same is everything changes. We as believers however, have a hope because of our savior that one day we will meet again in our eternal home where there is no sadness and there are no tears. Until then, we carry on.
Last night you went to bed as a two-year old and today you woke as a three-year old! But not technically. You actually have until 2:47 this afternoon until you can officially say you’re three. You are the absolute most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I love you so much.
You are smart, beautiful, and funny. I am easily entertained by your antics, whether it is the funny things you say or the silly eyes you make, you always can make me smile.
You enjoy coloring and painting. Of course you love your books as you always have, and your cat Rocky Muffin. You are super smart, knowing and recognizing all your letters and your numbers to ten. You have begun to know how to make the letter E, and then you just scribble some m’s like mountain tops and a dot for the A. You love all things princess related and we celebrated this past Saturday by having a Princess dress up party. Three of your friends joined us and we had the best time. Everyone had at least one wardrobe change. We played Hide the Slipper and Pin the Kiss on the Frog. Then we decorated foam crowns to wear. I had a lot of fun making you a cupcake princess dress and seeing your sweet face full of excitement. You were so good and well-behaved and truly acted like a princess should.
The funniest part of the story is that you are convinced since we already had a birthday party that today you are four years old. You insist that, “I’ve already been three!” You are trying to convince me to have a farm party for your fourth birthday. I hate to break it to you, but birthdays only come once a year. You need to not rush things anymore than they already are. It seems like yesterday that you were that bright-eyed, alert newborn baby.
You will always be my baby, no matter how old you get. I thank God for you everyday and for the time I have to spend with you watching you grow. You are my blessing, one I am ever grateful for.
It’s the dead, dark middle of the night. I lay here wide awake in eager anticipation of the morning. The house is slumbering, the only sounds are the ticking of the clocks and the occasional roar of the heater coming on. Visions of sugar plums, I imagine, are floating. J-Dub just went to bed a little while ago after staying up doing what dads do on Christmas Eve: screwing screws and fumbling through instructions entitled “some assembly required” when what that really means is, “assemble these million parts of nonsense with as few cuss words as possible”. After all, it is Christmas and there’s no cussin’ on Christmas. That’s probably a written rule somewhere.
Christmas present is different to me from Christmas pasts. I now anticipate the morning, not to receive, but to see that little face light up with the giving. The wonder. The magic. The joy of it all through the eyes of child.
I snuck out of bed and tiptoed into the dark to see what EK will see when she stumbles in bleary-eyed in the morning. There is a massive dollhouse; one that I never imagined would be that big. (I’ve got to get better at reading the fine print). And somewhere is the Beauty and the Beast movie, her own personal request to Santa Claus himself when she hesitantly sat upon his knee and whispered her desire.
Here’s a little before/after. The kids these days call this a Transformation Tuesday I believe, but I’m not sure whether I’m coming or going, much less what day it is for all that.
Last year’s Santa pic to this year. She actually sat on his lap this year, but still wearing the same look of uncertainty on her face.
Oh it’s fun really, isn’t it? I need to remind myself of that often. Having a little family of my own. Creating and making our own traditions and memories. I don’t want Christmas to be an elaborate affair. A few gifts, with the emphasis on the true meaning. This year, I followed this little mantra of gift giving: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read.
We began a Jesse tree for advent, working through the Bible stories leading to the coming of Jesus on that holy night. I was sewing the ornaments with a little felt and embroidery thread. We were gathering around a little tree in EK’s room reading the stores each night, but as in typical fashion, that kind of fizzled out. I think I made it through the burning bush. There’s always next year, right?
I’ve got promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.
We went and enjoyed the second annual cutting of the tree this year. I walked the forest along with my family trying to find the “perfect” Christmas tree. During the inspection of each tree, I composed a whole blog post in my mind about how “choosing a Christmas tree is like choosing a spouse” but as in typical fashion, I never got that posted. But it’s a no-brainer. You get it. There is no perfect tree, just as there is no perfect mate. But the moral of the story is: pick one you can live with. Learn to love their quirks and eventually they’ll die.
Um, maybe that’s not the best moral, but it’s the truth.
Well I’ll sign off now and try to get some shut-eye before dawn rolls in.