Monday, August 30, 2010

Those Magical Numbers

As a mother of two young children, I have to confess something: I don't really like having a newborn. Don't get me wrong. There isn't much better than holding your sweet, tiny newborn in your arms. I have felt overwhelming love for both of my children from the moment they were born. In fact, I felt that love the whole 9 months I carried them in my tummy.

But, I can still admit that having a newborn is one of my least favorite things. When I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I was most overwhelmed by the thought of having another newborn so soon. I felt like I had just made it out of the dark ages. In fact, I had just made it out. My daughter's first birthday was the day of my LMP, and therefore, the beginning of the 40 week countdown to a newborn. And for me, the first birthday is a major milestone.

Once my son was actually here, and I was walking him around the house for the one-hundredth time, I remember thinking, "If we can just make it to 3 months, things will get easier." And we did, and they did. And although I try to cherish every precious moment with my children because I know they will grow up too fast, there is a secret side of me that lives for those first year milestones; one step closer to that fabulous first birthday.

3 Months: The first of the great milestones. This is the point (in theory) that fussiness starts to slow down. Finally, my babies are happier for more than 5 minutes at time. This means fewer trips walking around the house, bouncing the baby, and maybe a few dinners actually sitting at the table.

4 Months: Old enough (according to some people, me included) to let a baby cry-it-out when going to sleep. That doesn't mean Mommy is ready, but at least you don't have to feel as guilty when you turn the monitor off just for a few moments of silence.

6 Months: Half-way there! Probably sitting up. This may seem like a tiny accomplishment, but it means so much as a mother. Finally, you can set the baby down, even on hard floors. They can ride in the grocery cart and sit in high chairs! Hard to explain why this is so great; trust me, it is. And solids are great too. I am finally not the only source of food and that is so freeing.

8 Months: It just gets better! I really do love 8 months! This is the moment when you start to realize that your baby is understanding LOTS. Their personality starts to shine and are easily entertained. Plus, finger foods start about now. Sometimes you just need to be able to occupy a baby with a graham cracker.

1 year: All the hard work has paid off. Baby is starting to communicate, eats regular food, drinks regular milk, sleeps through most nights, and is endlessly entertaining.

And it just gets better. Everyday is better than the last. In fact, today is really fantastic - my son is 8 months old today. I can't believe we made it, but here we are. Although I look at his newborn pictures and wonder where my little baby has gone, I can't help but be pretty happy right where we are.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A-Camping We Will Go

For my daughter's 2nd birthday, she received a kid's camping set. Fun, right? At first, that is what I thought. It seemed like a great gift! I used to love making forts and tents as a kid, and when I was a teacher, the students loved when we did a camping theme and set up a tent in the room for reading and playing. The preschool teacher side of me loves stuff like this. I studied early childhood so I could do things like this - have a theme and set up fun, hands-on activities for the kids to do all week. For camping, we would set up a tent, build a fake fire, go on hikes around the school, eat marshmallows, read books about camping, pretend to go fishing, etc. I LOVED it. In fact, although I personally feel that I am supposed to be at home raising my children, I must admit that every now and then, I miss teaching preschool and all the fun ideas I could come up with.

So, why not do these awesome activities at home with my children? When I was pregnant with my daughter I honestly believed that staying at home with her would be just like having a preschool in my home. I dreamed of doing weekly crafts, art projects, and even themed snacks. Yet, somehow my dreams of an incredibly creative, stimulating environment have given way to real life. Sure, I still fill my kids days with plenty of stimulating activities - we paint, we sing, we dance, we read, we do science experiments in the bathtub and we have a lot of fun. But we also do laundry and vacuum and go to the grocery store. In her two and a half years of life, we have probably only done a handful of crafts and very little theme based play.

Until this week. Honestly, I have kind of been avoiding the tent. Not sure why because I really was excited to receive it. I think it just seemed bigger than I could handle. But this past weekend, I finally braved the tent. Oh, how I wish I had done it earlier! It has been so much fun. She has been playing in it almost non-stop. And it even motivated me to build a pretend fire for her to roast marshmallows. I bought her a book about camping and we have been talking non-stop about camping. I am even trying to convince my husband to take her camping for real. (Notice I am not planning on being included in this fabulous learning experience)

And the tent has even come with an unforeseen bonus: naps. As I think I have posted before, my daughter does not take regular naps (even though she really needs them). She has a rest time everyday where she must stay in her bed, but she only occasionally falls asleep. She usually just plays in her bed for a couple of hours. So, when she asked to nap in her tent on the first day, I was more than a little hesitant. But, I figured, it can't be much worse than her bed because she doesn't sleep in there either. I agreed but with strict rules that she could not bring any toys into her tent. And guess what? She slept!! In fact, in the last five days she has slept four - in her tent! I had every intention of letting her nap in the tent for a few days before I took it down. But now, I just can't bring myself to do it. I am enjoying this extra sleep (for me and her) too much. I may never take it down. Surely it's okay to let a child take naps in tent forever, right? Although I can't get my hopes up. Next week, I am sure I will report that naps are once again a thing of the past. But for now, I am getting what I can. And I will do it as long as it works.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I'm having one of those super motivated afternoons. You know the kind where you feel like you could conquer the world (and your kids and household). I get these feelings every now and then and always swear that this time I really will keep up with everything I need to do. I usually make a series of lists (I obsessively write lists even on ordinary days) and prepare to get back in a routine. I think my motivation today was a direct result of both of my kids napping for over 2 hours - at the same time! Here is a list of some of the things I decided to change in my life:

1. I will clean up the kitchen COMPLETELY every night after dinner. That includes wiping down the high chair and removing random pieces of food from the kid's seats (i.e. dumping it on the floor so the dog can eat it)

2. I will be better about making my daughter pick up her toys immediately after she uses them instead of having a huge cleaning party every couple of days

3. I will do my Bible study every day. I started a One Year Bible study almost exactly one year ago. I picked up the study in the middle, on August 21st, and am currently on the readings for December 20th. At this rate it will only take me three more years to complete it.

4. I will lose these last 15 pounds. This is a post of it's own.

5. I will follow my cleaning schedule. I have an elaborate house cleaning schedule that includes "zones" and daily chores. I'm pretty sure my favorite part of this cleaning routine was making the schedule and all of the lists that go with it.

6. I will vacuum the house twice a, I probably won't.

7. I will wipe down my bathroom counters everyday after taking my shower and putting on make-up. I used to do this before kids and it really does make a huge difference in your life - especially if you shed like me.

8. I will exercise. When? I haven't quite figured that out yet.

9. I will put away clothes as soon as they are out of the dryer. I will no longer throw clothes that I know are clean into the dirty clothes basket just because I don't feel like hanging them up.

Just a few of my motivations for today. Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Mom's Best Friend

Almost every time I am at another mom's house, she at some point apologizes for the way her house looks. Maybe it's the dirty dishes still in the kitchen sink, or the wet diaper that hasn't made it to the trash can yet. Sometimes they apologize for the massive amounts of toys that I have to step over or the crusty food that is on the ground under the dining table. And occasionally, I will be warned before I have to open a door that she had strategically left shut - you know, the door to the room that guests aren't supposed to ever see so you throw everything in there and don't worry about cleaning it.

What the other moms don't realize, is that nothing makes me happier than to visit another mom's house that is just as messy as mine. Or even better, to visit a house that is messier than mine. I have to admit that I get just a little satisfaction in knowing that I am not the only one living on the brink of chaos.

Any one who knows me (especially anyone who has ever lived with me) knows that I am not the neatest person. In fact, I can get really, really messy. But the funny thing is, I have always loved organizing and really DO enjoy living in a clean house. Yet, no matter how hard I try, it seems impossible to keep everything picked up. This is really hard to explain to those people who are naturally neat. I just can't do it.

As my mom friends are apologizing for their messy house (which secretly makes me happy), they are failing to notice that we are not sitting at my house. Even though I know they don't expect my house to be clean, I still have trouble letting people come over if our house hasn't at least been vacuumed to remove all the dog hair. But I always reassure my friends, saying, "Trust me. My house is just as messy as yours." Except for one thing. I don't have food on my floors.

And, no, this isn't because I have some great obsession with cleaning my floors or because my kids are just really neat eaters. This is because I have a dog. A big, annoying lab/husky mix that I don't really pay much attention to until meal time. Every time I drop something on the floor, she comes running over to eat it up. In fact, even if she doesn't come running right away, I just leave whatever I dropped on the floor, knowing she will eventually be by to pick up after me. Saves me a lot of time and energy. Just the other day, I dropped an entire bowl of baby cereal upside down on the floor. No problem here. Just called in the dog and she licked it right up. Gross, huh? Well, at least my floors are clean.

Now, if I could just figure out how to keep her from shedding, she might be the best thing I own.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sick Day

It's been a long time since I have blogged. So many reasons. First, the Internet at our house was broken. Then, we got really busy in the evenings and I couldn't bring myself to type so late at night. Then, we were preparing for a week-long vacation. Then, we left for a week-long vacation. And then we came home from vacation 2 days early because we were sick. And that's where we are right now - at home, still sick.

Really sick, too. Like 102 degree fever for an 11 hour drive with one sick baby and a broken DVD player sick.

Too sick to take care of the kids. Which is a problem when you are a stay-at-home mom and that is your job. We don't get sick days like everyone else. I can't call my boss and explain in an overly dramatic sick voice that I can't come in to work and then spend the day sleeping and watching TV. Instead, I have to hope that my husband doesn't have a super important meeting that day. Luckily, my husband was planning on being on vacation today anyways, and he willingly volunteered to stay home.

And yet, I still didn't just get to spend my day sleeping and watching TV. Don't get me wrong. I tried. But at 8:00 this morning I could hear the baby squealing downstairs. I tried to tune it out but I kept wondering, "What if he needs me and my husband is just trying to hold out because he doesn't want to disturb me?" So, I went downstairs to check; of course, he was just fine without me.

In fact, the whole day would have been just fine without me. But as a mother, it is REALLY hard to just sit on the couch and watch your husband take care of the house and the kids. I was feeling pretty lousy, yet, I couldn't help but feel a little bit guilty that I was catching up on all my Tivo'ed shows while someone else was doing my job. It is my job. Currently my identity is Mom. Really tough to let someone else do it - especially if they don't do it exactly the way I do. My daughter wore her pajamas all day. In fact, so did my son. The only thing served for lunch was chicken nuggets. Nap was a little later than usual. But, you know what? My husband spent almost the entire day on the floor playing with the kids. Playing pretend store and shooting the basketball and having a lot of fun. Made me remember that my job is a lot of fun. I can't play all day everyday because there is other stuff to be done. And I do think we should wear real clothes on most days. But honestly, I have the world's best job. Even if I don't get any sick days.