Friday, December 31, 2010

a never-ending circle

December 31, 2003...

The weather was cold, freezing even, but it didn't matter.  I was wearing a matching red cami and skirt with a slit so high, you would only see on me nowadays if I completely 'biffed' and tore my outfit.  My 'coat' was nothing more than a thin black cardigan...nothing too heavy that would impact my drink-holding or 'dancing' for the evening.  My stilletos added an extra 4 inches at least to my nearly 6 foot stature; but being on the arm of a guy who stands at 6'9" made it ok to be that tall.  We were heading out for a fun NYE celebration...but at the time I had no idea what Randy had in store for me.

Prior to heading out to celebrate...Randy had a secret!

As we were celebrating and waiting for the countdown to midnight, Randy set his plan into action.  During one of my potty breaks, he managed to chat with the deejay and make the arrangements to have the microphone and 'center stage' on the dance floor.  My best friend Jill was in on the secret, and was vital in making sure that I'd get out onto the dance floor (after all, I was standing at 6'4", wearing all red, and am very obviously a 'white girl from Philly'--dancing isn't my forte). 

Returning to the crowd, I was obvlivious to the 'attack' I was about to ensue.  The deejay gave his 'cue' to Randy and he suggested we head to the dance floor.  An empty dance floor wasn't the most promising environment for me to maintain my image as an innocent by-stander simply wanting to enjoy the crowd, the drinks, and the celebration at midnight...but I relented. 

As we reached the center of the dance floor, I turned to see my 'so-called-best-friend' had abandoned me and was standing in wait amongst the crowd that was encircling the 'floor o' embarassment'.  As I turned back to Randy to suggest getting another drink rather than dance, my eyes did not find his face.  I knew from experience at which angle my head needed to be tilted in order to see him, however he wasn't there.  Quickly I realized that he was kneeling (internal monologue: "Tying his shoe, maybe?  no...his shoes didn't have laces.  Is he really drunk and going to fall over? no...we haven't been here that long and he's only had 2 or 3 drinks.  Did he drop something?  yes, maybe he dropped something.  Get up, Randy!  I look ridiculous standing here like an over-sized plastic stake from my childhood croquet game!")

But no, he didn't drop anything.  In fact, he found something.  In one hand, he found the 'on' button for the microphone he was holding, and from the depths of his pocket, he removed a box.  A small, black velveteen box with a hinged lid.  His head lifted in my direction as he opened the box and turned on the mike.  I was speechless (no small feat, for those of you who know me well!)

Randy introduced us each to the crowd (goodbye role of 'innocent by-stander') and spoke about how love is like a cirle, a never-ending ring...just like the ring he was displaying for me.  I'd love to say I remember each word he said, but of course my mind was racing (as was my heart), and unfortunately he didn't write it down, like we did our wedding vows.  But, in the end, I nodded my acceptance to his proposal and he relayed that to the crowd as an overwhelming 'yes'.  The ring was slipped onto my finger, and the celebration began (or, rather...continued). 

With much thanks to my dear friend, Jill...we have photos to capture the memory of that evening.  The only downside of the documentation is the physical evidence that I once had a flat and toned tummy that I willingly (and apprarently, proudly) showed off.  *sigh*

And thus began our 2004...and our life 'together'.  We continued celebrating and rang in the new year as 'the future Mr. and Mrs. Conley'.  It seemed so strange at the time, and what's strange now is that it's been seven years since that night, yet I can close my eyes and it seems like it could have been last month.  When I open my eyes however, I look around and see what these past 7 years have become. 

We've been through a lot...not just a long-distance relationship prior to our engagement, but a long-distance engagement (for a while at least), moving 1700 miles away from *home* not just two days after returning from our honeymoon, two new jobs, a new puppy, the surprise of our first pregnancy, purchasing our first home, renovations within the home, the birth of our second child, adopting another dog (as well as a cat), x-rays and broken bones, the unexpected loss of Randy's dad, our third pregnancy, and the countless memories we've created in the midst of the 'madness' of life. 

As we happily announced our engagement on New Year's Day to part of my family, this photo was taken:

I can only help but notice how young and innocent we were.  We had no idea what our future held, but we knew we were in it together.  Add a few pounds, a few wrinkles, and a few gray hairs...(yes, I'll admit it, it's me!), and we still don't know what our future holds, but we know we're in it together. 

Seven years ago tonight, the word 'yes' changed the course of my life in ways that I can only begin to describe as fantastically, amazingly indescribable (yes, it's a bit oxymoronic--get over it).   Love to my hubby tonight and every night...and here's to yet another amazing year with you by my side!  I love you!...

...Ya goof ball ;)

Happy New Year everyone!!!  Wishing you a safe, healthy, and prosperous new year!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

if we only knew...

Today I met my dear friends to give them some guidance on their baby registry.  As first time parents, they are entering into this experience with wide-eyes, and a whole range of emotions.  They recruited me to 'show them the ropes', and give them insight into the necessities for bringing a little one into the world.  What a fun little honor...and I was happy to oblige.  So, off we went, to Target and BRU (Babies R Us), the quintessential mecca for mommies-to-be. 

As we roamed up and down the aisles, scanning item after item, comparing prices/features/colors, I was providing the happy couple with insight, ideas, and inspiration.  I'm generally not an overly opinionated person (this statement will come as a shock to many people I'm sure!).  Well, let me rephrase this.  I have have strong opinions about many things (thank you, Italian side of the family), however there is a big part of me that falls under the category of 'people pleaser'.  I want to be liked, I want to make sure others are happy.  So giving my so-called 'expert' opinion to my friends presented me with a challenge.  'What if they don't like the item/design/style/performance of the thing I urged them to register for?'  'What if they think I'm ridiculous for telling them they 'need' all these things--only to discover down the line that they could have gotten by without some of it?'

I found myself using the phrase 'personal preference' a lot today.  Because that's what a lot of parenting is.  Sure, there are countless books out there that give advice on pregnancy, infancy, toddlerhood, and all the way up the age scale.  But, with that plethora of information available to you, it still is up to you, the parent, on which advice you will take to heart and which you will take with a grain of salt.  It's only natural for 'experienced' parents to offer advice to those with less experience.  For example, I remember when Gavin was just 3 weeks old, and I received quite a bit of unsolicited advice from a mommy whose baby was 4 months old.  Really?  You mean to tell me that in those 13 'extra' weeks of mommyhood you have unlocked the deepest, darkest secrets of parenting?  You've mastered it all, know it all, and are qualified to teach it all?  Yes, your kid is older.  Congratulations.  Your biological clock was just slightly faster than mine.  Here's your prize.

I'm not gonna lie.  I offer advice.  But I am very cognizant of the way in which I offer my advice, because it's not always what you say, but how you say it (I swore I'd never turn into my mom, yet here I am using her infamous phrase that I heard from her on a daily basis as a teenager!).  It's a challenge not to fall into the 'advice trap' when you're around a group of mommies.  Mommies are a competitive species.  Some mommies are so headstrong, so deadset on their 'personal preferences' for parenting, while others have this incessant need to hear their own voice and be told their doing an amazing job.  It's the combination of those two mommy personalities that you've got to watch out for.  Those are the mommies I observe and mental a BOLD FACED mental note of their ridiculous ways so that I'll never become like them.  (However, as I type this blog about mommyhood...I fear I'm sounding hypocritical.  Please know that is not my intent. I have my parenting preferences, but try to keep them to myself, or if I do share, I want them to come across in terms of a funny anecdote from my personal experiences.  I also don't need to hear I'm doing an amazing job.  It's refreshing to hear, but I know I am each day when my kids hug me or smile at me.  That's all I need.)

So today, I had my friends asking my input on their registry choices and I faced a dichotomy.  Do I...A.) offer advice by way of my personal opinion, or B.) let them make their own choices, without my input.  If I chose option A, I had to tread carefully so as to not become one of 'those' mommies, because it's easy to get sucked into the whirlwind of mommyhood chatter.  So option B is looking more like a wise choice, right?  Well, at first, yes.  I didn't run the risk of suggesting something that made me look like a mommy who has fallen victim to the clever marketing schemes 'baby gear' designers use to trick people into thinking their parenting experience isn't complete without their particular product. 

But then I took a moment and look at my friends' faces.  Their eyes.  The worry, the apprehension, the overwhelmed anxiety they're experiencing is evident in their saucer-sized eyes.  Parenthood is the single most exciting and thrilling experience of my life, and I know it will be for them as well.  But parenthood is also a bigger range of emotions than that.  And right now, my friends, who are just barely parents, are facing a fearful realization.  They need stuff--and they don't know where to begin.  I had no choice but to select option B, and just revert to my careful and contientious manner of offering advice.  Thankfully, it worked, and after about 4 hours and 2 different stores, my friends are able to check off a big part of the preparation for baby.

This whole experience took me back 5 years.  Randy and I were wandering aimlessly through the aisles of BRU, eyes pretty much the same size I saw on my friends today.  I was completely overwhelmed, excited, anxious, nervous...etc, etc.  Being 1,700 miles away from *home*, away from family, away from anyone and everyone who could give us advice was not the ideal situation.  Yet there we were.  Scanner in hand, we generated a registry full of what we thought would help create the best environment for our growing little buddle of joy. 

I empathized with my friends today, as they painstakingly chose the *perfect* items for their baby, however at the same time, I had a great feeling of accomplishment.  I've been there, in their shoes, and have survived.  I remember agonzing over the specific color/design/brand/style of each baby item I brought into our home, only to look back and realize that those details aren't what I remember most about my kids as babies.  It's hard to tell an excited couple that, though.  I want them to go through the whole process that we did, because without going through that, you don't have the opportunity to one day say, "if only we knew then what we know now".

 We were so scared...but so happy...
Our first official family photo, May, 2006

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

clean sweep!

I have a dream. 

I have a dream that some day my house will be clutter-free.  That my children's toys will magically find their proper home, as opposed to the random and often times annoying places that they are neglected (i.e. those damn green army guys camouflaged on the carpet...I've stepped on at least three of them recently).  I have a dream that those random little kid's meal toys will stop multiplying when I'm not looking, so that when I throw them into the trash, that is where they remain, never to be seen again.  In this dream, the kids will know how to properly sort their toys and will keep them in that orderly fashion when they have finished playing.  They will have about a fourth of the toys that they have now...and be doubly content.  I have a dream that I will be able to look around my house with a satisfaction that, yes, I am a well-organized mommy with a home that doesn't resemble a day-after-free-for-all-shopping-spree-at-toys-R-us.  *sigh*...what a great dream.

<Snap> back into reality as I look around the house and see toys.  Not just toys.  But  There are toys in every shape, size, color, volume, and texture imaginable.  I'm not alone.  Every single mommy knows this feeling.  Being on the brink of a new year, and experiencing the stirrings of my nesting instincts, I've decided we need to do something about this.

Today, we did.  Well, at least we started.  We'll call it a pre-intervention.  I'm actually in the midst of it now, however I took a break to eat and wait for bedtime, as the kids might spaz over some ridiculous McDonald's toy that I'm going to throw away.  They have the most random obsessions over toys at times.  Especially B.  Gav at least has legit toys that make sense to cling to.  His army guys.  His action figures.  His Star Wars light 'savers' (gotta love 4-year olds!).  But B?  She will choose something ridiculous, like a piece of a play set that makes no sense unless you see it within the context of its original home--take for instance the plastic stick/marshmallow combination.  The other day, she would not leave the house until it was in her purse.  Apparently our quick trip to the store may find us in a remote campsite location where we'll obviously want to roast the plastic marshmallows.  Ya neva' know. 

Randy and I took a trip to the store to purchase some storage containers and a shelving unit.  Randy's input is 'we're buying s*** to store s***'.  I look at it as organizing.  True, both of us hate clutter (see my dream above!), however Randy is just as content to box it all up and put it into storage, to be forgotten about, and ignored.  Whereas I want the kids to have access to it without needing me to move the box of Christmas decor--but I want it to be kept neat and clean and orderly.  My current school of thought is that we use color-coded plastic tubs.  Pink for B and green for Gav.  When the third one comes along, we'll decide on the color we need (no, we won't tell you). 

I started the task while the kids were having dinner.  The living room floor was covered.COVERED with crap.  Not literal crap, just random, disorganized, and homeless toys.  At one point, I shared my thoughts on my children's ridiculously large collection of 'toys', however I chose to use a more colorful word.  To which B's response was, "mom, I have a lot of crap".  Joy.  So now, not only are my children ridiculously spoiled, but also share my same not-so-nice vocabulary.  I'll be getting phone calls from the school in a few years.  I'm already preparing for this fact.

So I guess it's back to trying to organize the chaos.  The toys.  The childhood.  Because that's really what it is...their childhood.  Yes, it drives me crazy that it's scattered throughout every room (literally, every single room) of the house.  Yes, it drives me bananas that as much as I want my kids to learn to appreciate everything that they have and everything that they are given, it seems like they have so much that it's more like 'second nature' than, "wow!  a new toy!  thank you (insert gift-giver here)!".  And yes, there are days I yearn for the clutter-free home, a home that resembles more like the model homes we love to tour than Santa's workshop.  But then I think about what these toys mean.  They mean we have kids.  They mean we have a family-a family that's growing, and learning, and changing all the time.  They mean that I feel so blessed and fortunate for all that we can provide for our kids, and all that our kids receive from others who are able to provide things for them as well.  They mean that our house will some day be barren of toys and we will be sitting here, wishing it all to come back--even if just for a little while.  These toys mean we have a life.  A life that I absolutely love and wouldn't trade in for anything.  Not even a professional organizer.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

thoughts on three

Christmas is over, the anticipation and excitement that filled our house for the past few weeks has shifted into happiness over the plethora of toys that now inhabit the few barren spots we once had in our house.  Our children were once again spoiled, as were Randy and myself.  My hubby surprised me with a new Kindle, complete with the thought that 'now I can read more' :)  I am so appreciative of the gift, as I had wanted one with that very thought in mind.  I am currently in the process of finishing Portia de Rossi's memoir and am excited to do so for several reasons:  a.) it's wonderfully written, intense, and insightful into her struggle with self image, b.) the accomplishment of finishing a book is always a great feeling (especially finishing one in just a few days), and c.) I now can move onto reading the first book I've put onto my Kindle, Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Of course, I have a few other 'paper books' that I have yet to read, but the 'newness' of this technological excitement has me craving the final page of Portia's story. (I plan to finish tonight after posting this :)

So that leaves me to tonight's post.  Tonight my kids and I were watching The Rugrats Movie, which brought back a bit of nostalgia from my earlier years.  I loved that cartoon growing up, and it was cute to see the characters I once watched on TV *star* in a full-length film.  The general concept of the movie was there's a new baby on the scene (in the movie, it's a brother...but we're not telling you if our life will imitate art in this case!), and the older brother (along with his friends) are quite taken aback by his presence.  I left the kids in the living room to make some dinner for us, but heard them chattering while I cooked.  The conversation went something along the lines of this:

Brynn: Gavin, is dat the baby brudder?
Gavin: yeah, they have a new baby and he cries a lot.
Brynn: mommy has a baby in her bewy.
Gavin: I know this, Brynn. 
Brynn: it's a baby gi-waffe
Gavin: no, it's just a regular baby, not a giraffe.  Mommies can't have giraffes.
Brynn: I fink it's a gi-waffe.
Gavin: whatever, Brynn.  The baby will come in April and you'll see it's not a giraffe.
Brynn: I fink it will cry 'wah, wah, wah'
Gavin: I hope not, Brynn.  That will be really loud for my ears.

I was smiling as I listened to this interaction for several reasons:  a.) I love the little conversations that my kids have with one another--it reminds me that they're little people, with their own opinions (more on this later), b.) Brynn's pronounciation of her words cracks me up,  c.) Gavin's rationalization and dismissal of her random thoughts is adorable (i.e. 'whatever, Brynn'), and d.) Brynn is convinced that we're having a baby giraffe.  This fact of course, is based on the fact that she's 2 1/2 with a steel-trap memory.  I asked her one day if she thought it was a boy or a girl, and she said girl, then boy.  I joked that it wasn't a boy nor a girl, but a giraffe...and it stuck.  So, we're now calling 'baby', 'giraffe' (well, at least Brynn is)

As I was cooking and listening to my kids, I replayed their conversation, only this time my smiles started to give way to the realization that this whole baby thing is really happening.  Of course, I know it's happening each time 'giraffe' kicks me or wakes me at 4:30 am to pee; but the whole concept of 'baby' in our household is taking shape as we enter into 2011. 

See, April sounds far off...but really, it's not.  I just got my '24 week' email from The Bump, and am reading that giraffe is now the shape of a papaya (of course if it's a Conley, we know that it's a papaya with REALLY long legs!).  We're just about into the third trimester, the last trimester, and then before you know it, we'll have a new member of the family, a crying member of the family, a member of the family who will require a lot of mommy (and daddy's) attention, which will take away from Gav and B...the latter of whom requires a TON of attention!. 

Randy reminds me all the time when I say "we are going to have three kids", that I was the one who thought of this idea.  He was totally content with playing man-to-man defense, rather than having to play zone defense, but the thought of three was far more thrilling to me, and what can I say...happy wife, happy life ;)

I'm watching and listening to my two 'little people' however, and am realizing that parts of this movie could potentially ring true in our household, for we never know what this little giraffe has in store for us.  My mom (of three) has told me 'by the time the third one comes along, they have no choice but to go with the flow'...which I'm hoping is the case.  But there's that transition part.  That introduction part where we are getting to know who this new little person is and they are trying desperately to figure out what the hell happened to the quiet, peaceful little life that they once led inside my belly  (I know, my grammar...'they' does not mean 2 babies as both my brother and Gavin have questioned!).  These thoughts swirled around as I watched the scene in the movie where Tommy, the older brother, is overcome with jealousy as his mommy and daddy spend all their time consoling a crying baby brother.  Tommy is hiding in the closet of the nursery and sings his own rendition of the lullaby he just heard his parents sing, only changing the words to suit his own needs: "Baby, please, rest your head. Now it is time for bed. Please stop. Don't you see ? I want mom and dad for me."  *Thank goodness Randy wasn't home at the time...I was teary-eyed and he wouldn't have let me live that one down.*

Yes, we are beyond thrilled about the excitement of a new little life...and yes, I'm emotional, hormonal, and well, my thoughts are scattered (moreso than normal), and swing is all directions, all the time (my poor husband!).  It's reconfiguration of family dynamic that is exciting, anxiety-causing, and overwhelming at times.  When Brynn was born, Gavin was just 22 months...still a 'baby' in a sense (especially in the whole diaper-sense!).  He wasn't quite able to verbalize any of the opinions that he had about his new little sister.  He might have acted out a few more times than normal, but overall he was really cool with it.  Easy going, and just chill (thank you, Randy, for providing that gene!).  But now, instead of a toddler with very little input into family changes...we will have a 3 year old (who is VERY opininated), and a just-about-five-year-old, who is not quite as opinionated as his sister, but still tells us how he's feeling.  Often.  Yikes.

I know we'll make it work.  I know that we'll have our times of trial, tribulation, exhaustion, tears, and jealousy.  I know we'll make it work.  I know our family will be happy, will be complete.  I know we'll make it work.  Even if we have a giraffe. ;)

Sending love...from baby giraffe!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Eve contemplations...

It's one of my absolute favorite nights of the year for so many reasons.  The nostalgia of Christmas Eve is so prevalent this evening, especially as we were tracking Santa on NORAD, setting out the cookies, and reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas all before getting the kids tucked into bed and off to dreamland.  Okay, so we never tracked Santa on NORAD as kids, but the rest of the stuff was pretty much standard.

Since our kids are still young, Randy and I take advantage of Christmas Eve to create our own 'couple's tradtition' and have filet and crab.  The kids would love it I'm sure, (Brynn especially), however they're also equally satisfied by Kraft mac n' cheese and Tyson chicken nuggets (dinosaur-shaped, obviously).  That happened to be their meal of choice this evening, to which I happily obliged, since it required little effort on my part and I knew that Mr. and Mrs. Claus would be up later than our usual getting things ready for tomorrow (and, apparently, blogging ;).

After the kids were sleeping, I was finalizing the last of the dinner preparations, and just smiling to myself as I recalled Brynn's reaction to bedtime this evening.  A typical bedtime routine involves tears, but tonight she was so excited to close her adorable doe eyes because she saw where Santa was heading (thank you NORAD).  While we were enjoying our meal, Randy and I had a chance to have conversation without risk of being interupted.  We could discuss whatever we wanted!  Of course, our conversation shifted at some point to the kids and their joy and excitement over the entire concept of Christmas. 

I remember being so excited every Christmas Eve night, as the anticipation of what awaited me beneath the tree practically boiled over.  I never dared leave my bed, for fear that Santa wouldn't stop by on his whirlwind trip around the world.  Gav and B are pretty much the same way...Gav often tells me that he can't sleep well (mental note to metion this to the pediatrician at his next check-up), but tonight he told me, "I'm going to make sure I sleep, cause Santa won't stop if I'm awake.".  B had her eyes closed from the moment her little ringlets hit the pillow.  Both of them have promised to wake us before heading down the stairs, so it will be interesting to see who wakes up first...them, or the little one who enjoys using my bladder as a personal trampoline, generally at 5:30 am.  Whomever it is...the kids will be pleased by the generosity of the big guy in the red suit, as well as family members from all over the tree.

I'd like to write more, however I anticipate a very early morning followed by a long (and potentially noisy!) day.  So tonight, we extend our most sincere Christmas blessings to you and your family.  It's time to nibble some cookies and drink some of milk before heading to bed to wait for the pitter-patter of excited little feet!  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

ode to oscar

This evening, I reminded the kids that this will be the last night Oscar (our Elf on the Shelf) goes back to the North Pole to report to Santa, because tomorrow night, he will be riding back on the sleigh with Santa after he’s dropped off their presents.  Shockingly enough, both their plates were cleared at dinner, they were relatively nice to each other, and I had zero arguments as they went up to bed.  Randy and I (well, I) am relieved in a way that I don’t have to remember to make sure our ‘little buddy’ is in a new spot each day, since there have been about 7 times this year that I woke in a panic in the middle of the night, run down the stairs, and moved him quietly in case the kids came downstairs before me in the morning.  One less thing in my nightly routine!  However…Randy and I have realized the *beauty* of this creepy little creature and are somewhat sad to see him go.  So, tonight, I dedicate my post to him…

From Thanksgiving night until Christmas Eve,
You’ve lived in our home, and at night you would ‘leave’.
Up to the North Pole, to report to the boss,
To list who was naughty, who deserved a present loss.

After the kids have been tucked in their beds,
Mommy’s been forced to think with her head.
To remember the places that you’ve hidden before,
To find a new place, with surprises in store.

Then in the morning, the kids would awake,
They dash down the stairs to see which spot you would take.
All day you would sit there, with your creepy little eyes,
Playing the role of one of Santa’s spies.

You made sure they behaved, you kept them in line,
Your presence was noted, you were somewhat of a shrine.
When they were naughty, they were sorry and sad,
Your disappointment meant more than their mom’s or their dad’s.

“Oscar is watching” is what we would say,
And suddenly tears and fighting vanished away.
But when they were good, oh, you’re the first that they told,
To make sure Santa knew their halos were shiny and gold.

Their excitement is building, as is our fear,
For Christmas means presents, but you’ll be gone for a year.
Packed away in the storage, among garlands and lights,
We’ve lost our leverage, who will settle the fights?

We’ll miss you, dear Oscar, you creepy old elf,
The house won’t be the same without you on the shelf.
You’ve served this family well, you’ve brought us some peace,
Rest up and enjoy, because next year, the family will increase!

Farewell Oscar!

our faithful holiday companion perched on holiday decor

wise beyond his years...

Tonight I had a major ‘mommy gut check’.  Definitely not something I’m proud to admit, but recently I’ve been questioning my capabilities as an ‘all around great’ mommy, especially when it comes to my oldest, Gav.  He’s just 4 1/2 years old, but of course since he’s the oldest in the family, and significantly taller than most (ok, pretty much all) of the kids his age, I tend to do exactly what I get annoyed at others for doing–expecting more of him.  I know that I’m a ‘good mommy’ in the way I keep him fed, clothed, entertained, and overall ‘happy’, but it’s the more ‘intense’ part of mommyhood that I feel my talents might be needing a bit of refinement.

I’ve heard it countless times, and am guilty of repeating it as *advice* to those friends of mine who are expecting their second child.  The transition from zero to one is definitely a shock, but going from one to two…that’s the true challenge.  Ok, not the most profound, nor helpful ‘advice’ for a mommy to hear…but in my opinion, it has definitely proven to be true on many occassions (i.e. daily).  So many plates in the air, and never quite enough hands to keep them all spinning…scheduling naps/feedings/changing/showers/cooking/cleaning/SLEEP!  Then, as they grow, the challenge of scheduling is now compounded by maintaining sanity among fights/bites/hair pulling/toy stealing/random owies.  Think lots of tears (both kids and mommies), lots of kisses and hugs, and possibly a few extra glasses of pinot noir.  I’m proud to say I survived that stage with most of my sanity (thanks mostly to that pinot noir!), but now I’m entering the next stage…having opinions–and stating them–frequently.

My daughter B is 2 1/2 going on about 20 and is a complete and total firecracker personality.  If I weren’t currently pregnant, I’d be drinking as we go through this potty training escapade (refer to my previous post–the living room floor has been *christened*, and my foot was what made the discovery).  B has this whimsical approach to life that has my husband and I convinced that she’ll end up barefoot, wearing a skirt made of wheat, dancing on Pearl Street in Boulder (nothing wrong with that…just a different kind of lifestyle ;)   Ever since she’s been able to talk, B has mananged to make things quite adorable, in her own little way.  Her rabbit-toothed smile and Cosmo Kramer hair style has you wrapped around her finger from moment one.  More often than not, it’s daddy who is wrapped around her finger, and mommy falls in a close second.  Enter the developing problem.

I’ve realized that our adoration for those little rabbit teeth and approach to her 2 year old life with reckless abandon is starting to impact the way in which B is viewed by older brother.  Sure, ‘she’s a girl’ is a great concept when explaining why we let her get away with things that had previously been a faux pas, however in a 4 year olds’ eyes, it’s not an equitable explanation.  And now, we have some explaining to do.
Tonight, I had my little ducklings follow me up the stairs so that I could tuck them in, sing them a song, say prayers, and count the number of ‘sleeps’ until Santa comes.  Check, check, check, check for Miss B, although she wasn’t happy about it.  Then it’s Gav’s turn.  I get him to the point of being tucked in and am deciding on a song when he relalizes one of his ninety ‘lovies’ is downstairs–’free colors mank’ (that’s three colors blanket to the layperson).  I sigh, and head back down to find it wrapped haphazardly around yet another stuffed animal on the couch.  Why I didn’t just grab the stuffed gorilla, I’ll never know, because when I arrived back up in his room I was met with sad eyes and a plead for said animal.  *Audible sigh* and a not-so-nice thing to say, and I’m back downstairs rescuing the lone lovey from the couch.
Upon entering Gav’s room, I noticed the most heartwrenching scene.  My preschooler, tucked with covers up to his chin, thumb in his mouth, Eeyore peeking out from his grip, and tears.  Tears, brimming at his eyes.  As I write, my own eyes reflect the image I saw because the memory will be with me forever.  Immediately, I go over to his bedrail and lean down, face-to-face.  I ask him what’s wrong, prod him to talk to me.  I want to know, but am scared to hear his response, for I have a strong feeling I know what it is.  My fears come true when he tells me, “Mommy, you are mean to me.  I’m just a kid.”…  I can’t even see, my eyes blurred with the reality of my fears coming true.  I lay down next to Gav to have a talk.  Words exchanged, tears shed (primarily mine), and a ‘pinkie square’ deal at the end…I turn off his light, shut the door, and slide down the wall, burying my head in my lap to mask the sound of my sobs.

My husband, my rock…the person who can rationalize anything for me, isn’t home (secretly, I’m thankful, because I cannot get myself together!).  He calls shortly after I text him to tell him how I’m feeling like the worst mom ever.  He’ll be home in a few minutes, but wants to hear what happened.  I relay the details to him, holding back sobs as much as possible (fail).  I explain how we’re harder on him than we should be, how he views the injustices of his role in this family, all because he’s the oldest, and doesn’t have the same personality type as his sister.  I fully expected my husband to call me crazy, and tell me he’ll see me soon.  It only sort of happened that way.  He said he’d be home in 15 minutes, so we disconnected.
After finishing his huge sub dinner (mmm…#13 Mike’s Way from Jersey Mikes), my husband explained to me that while yes, we might be a little harder on Gav than we need to be, there is a purpose behind our parenting style.  It’s just that.  We parent.  We expect him to be responsible enough to remember to bring his own personal belongings up to bed with him.  We expect that he can get dressed himself and clear his plate and help out with letting the dogs in and out of the house.  It’s helping him to become a responsible person, rather than a helpless, dependent slug like so many kids are becoming.

But it’s those little things.  Those things that I am overreacting about, that need to change.  Things like a little spill, or tears over his sister choosing the same snack, or frustration over his favorite team losing.  These things that seem like he shouldn’t have let happen, things that seem silly to me, or things that seem like something that he just needs to ‘get over’.  All of these ‘things’ aren’t just ‘things’ to him.  While I’m viewing them as a molehill because I know that there are far bigger fish to fry in life, he’s seeing them as a mountain.  My newest resolution is to start to see these molehills for the mountains that they truly are, because, as Gav so heartbreakingly reminded me…he’s just a kid.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

lil' miss independent

Meet B.  My 2 1/2 year old who has a personality that’s quite unique for someone of her tiny stature.  Granted, she’s quite tall for her age (as if she has a choice with a daddy who stands at 6’9” and mommy who is just about 6′!), but to watch someone who stands at just about 3 feet tall stand defiantly with her hands on her hips, or crossed angrily in front of her (both common scenes following the ‘evil word NO’ in our household) is quite a funny little sight.

B came into this world with very little difficulties, but shortly after bringing her home, I realized that she most definitely has her own agenda for how her world revolves.  She and I didn’t necessarily ‘mesh well’ when it came to nursing, so much to my disappointment (both psychological as well as financial!), she became a bottle baby at the young age of 1 month.  Faster than I can really recall, she grew to become the age where we could start her on baby food.  Rice cereal and oatmeal at first, followed by fruit and veggies…just like Gav, right?  Wrong-O!  I remember the first time we had B taste some rice cereal.  My dear friend Jill was visiting from Philly and was going to be witnessing a momentous occasion in my young daughter’s life…or so I thought.  Donning a fresh bib and drool-free bib for the photo-op, B sat comfortably in her baby papason as mommy neatly prepped a spoon with a *delicious* bite of flavorless cardboard-like mush.  I think I’ll let the photos do the talking…


And that face pretty much sums up B’s response to any sort of solid food from that day until she reached the age of one.  Nothing, not even the ‘good stuff’ (peaches, mashed sweet potatoes, hell, even french fries!) could change her mind.  Did it ever occur to her that formula is ridiculously expensive?!  I joke with my mom that B knew this fact, and didn’t care.  She wanted what she wanted and no one was going to change that.
Welcome to our life with B.  That strong-willed personality has since become stronger and more defiant at times, although don’t get me wrong, she is just as good a little girl as her brother is a little boy.  B’s main focus in life is to make herself the main focus of life.  Anyone’s life.  Everyone’s life.  When I run errands on weekends, B comes with me.  Crooked arm with her hand facing outward, purse filled with the essentials: princess cell phone, lip gloss, Cinderella clip-on earrings, and a plastic tiger (you never know when you’ll need one), B is the epitome of a ‘mini-me’, minus the plastic tiger.  Her spitfire personality lights up the store, and she saunters through the aisles, narrating her life in her adorable voice at an audible level, specifically to attract the attention of those around her.  It works.  She is pleased.  Her curly hair or friendly smile is typically the topic of conversation, but she’ll take any compliment.  Any.  And that which she does not receive, she seeks out.  Piercing eyes stare into you until you realize that this darling little creature is ogling you like an art museum exhibit, silently questioning why you are not calling her adorable as she believes you should be doing.  Once you do as she is subconsciously summoning you to do, she is pleased and frolics off down the aisle toward her next ‘victim’.  Sweet lord, please help us when she is a hormone-crazed teenager.  I think her father is in the market for the ideal fear-inducing ‘dad prop’.

Today, we had a lunch date with my dear friend Annette.  Being in the midst of potty training, we’ve been relying on dresses while at home, as they make the whole process a little easier on us all.  As B was chosing her attire for the day, she felt that an adorable sundress would be the most appropriate choice, despite the 40 degree temperatures.  Defiance, foot-stamping, and an intense level of negotiations that could contend with both Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey, and she’s donning a much more weather-appropriate frock.  Next comes hair.  Although she has very little, we have found a few products that we’re experimenting with to give the poor girl a style less reminiscent of Cosmo Kramer.  I honestly don’t think it would matter though, B would ‘make it work’ even if her hair was a disastrous mess (some days it is!).  Her ‘look’ was complete and we were nearly ready to go.

But wait!  What’s this?  B requests a photo shoot.  Not in so many words, but she told me to take her picture.  I did.  She wanted to see it.  She looked.  She asked me to take it again.  This went on for some time, until she was pleased with the results.
Welcome to life with B…

There were quite a few photos (nearly 40) that did not ‘meet her approval’.  God help us. :)

resolution time!

Ok, it’s not technically the ‘new year’, but it’s definitely close enough…
A blog is born.  I’ve been toying with this idea for quite a while and of course the concept of ‘new year, new you’ provides such a perfect platform for doing so.  So…here we go!

I used to write emails on a monthly basis; filling in the family on the goings-on in our household, sending coordinating pictures; and adding my own personal ‘spin’ on this crazy thing we call life.  My friends and family who recieved the emails would tell me I should write a book.  I don’t know about all that, because my life as a mom is just as *normal* as any other.  Take tonight for instance.  I’m chatting on the phone with my mom while cooking dinner for my adoring family, when my young-and-in-the-process-of-potty-training daughter comes running into the kitchen to tell me she’s gone potty.  I abandon the onions, garlic, and green peppers in the saute pan to go check out her success.  As I enter the living room, I realize the potty chair is empty, but the once barren carpet area beneath my foot is not.  Apparently, the extra 3 feet to the potty chair was just too much, so the carpet provided a comforting spot to *go*.  See?  Totally normal!

I guess I should back up and explain the name.  Currently, I’m a busy working mommy of a pre-schooler and a toddler (yes, that darling child mentioned above!), and am just under 6 months from turning ‘that number which shall not be named’.  I know, I know…it’s not ‘that bad’, but for me, it’s definitely a strange thing to have to acknowledge.  I suppose the fact that I’ve been married for more than 5 years and have 2 kids already is strange–considering it was like, yesterday that I was just a 20 year old college student with far less responsibilities (and far less gray hair and crow’s feet!).  Sometime around my daughter’s first birthday, I realized that while I once thought two kids was my ‘magic number’, this was no longer the case.  And thus, the convincing began.  My husband wasn’t totally on board, giving such *convincing* arguements such as ‘NO’, and ‘we have a boy and a girl, what more do you want?’.

Sometime around last summer though, something changed…and he was convinced!  Fast forward to present day, and we are currently about 24 weeks along in this our third (and, yes, LAST–promise, babe!) pregnancy.  Our due date is mid-April, which puts all three of our kids’ birthdays right in a row (March, April, May).  Now, my ‘BIG DAY’ is June 6th, which means that I’ll have all three of my kids by the age of 30.  My own little personal goal I set once I realized that I was wanting another baby.  Hence, the name was born.

I know I’m probably not the most interesting person, and that my stories aren’t the ‘be-all, end-all’ of motherhood, so my intentions aren’t really for anything other than a place to document what things I always say I’ll get around to writing down in baby books, but never really do (not to mention my second child doesn’t even HAVE a baby book), a place to post some photos that capture those little moments that might make me cry tears of frustration at the moment but will give me tears of laughter later on, and a place to keep memories of my children–of my life–so that someday we can look back and remember ‘how we were’.  Because, afterall, 30 is just around the corner and who knows how fast that next decade will go!

Until next time…