Tuesday, December 20, 2011

gc365

Hey family, friends, followers, infrequent readers, and stumbled-upon-by-accident-ers!  In honor of the fast-approaching end of the year I have done some thinking about what I wanted my resolution(s) to be for 2012.  I have already gotten halfway through the Ease Into 5K program, registered for a 5K at the end of January, AND am trying to consistently maintain a food diary with MyFitnessPal, so I felt that any kind of health and fitness related goal would be a little redundant (although of course maintenance will be key in 2012).  So I started thinking of other projects I would like to undertake and LO, unto me a new blog project was born!  And I laid it in a tumblr, wrapped it in a fancy template, and called it gc365.  My goal is to document my daily life through photos, one a day for at least a year.  A lot of people have done this "project 365" and had albums on facebook, but posting to Tumblr directly from my iPhone (yeah, I'm super fancy, y'all) is really ridiculously easy and I am all about simplicity when it comes to sticking with something.  SO.  I'll still be posting here as regularly as I can manage, but feel free to follow along with me on my photo journey as well... and prepare yourself for gratuitous cute kiddo photography, probably via Instagram.  What can I say, they rock a filtered photo.

Monday, December 19, 2011

adventures of bubba and the bug

(A beginning draft of a children's book I've been ruminating on...)

One day (probably a Wednesday), Bubba and the Bug set out on a grand adventure.

Now in most books about grand adventures, you begin with an "unlikely pair".  But Bubba and the Bug are about as likely as they come because, you see, they are brother and sister.

Bug is the fearless leader of the two, a singer, dancer, painter, lover of pink and voice of many a stuffed bear.

She's mostly the fearless leader because Bubba is a baby.

Most grand adventures also involve a great deal of complicated traveling, but Bubba and the Bug had nap times to consider, so for this grand Wednesday, travel was limited to wherever Fancy Car might take them In Town.

The Bug surveyed the land from her Special Seat and announced to Bubba that the adventures of the day would begin with errands.

But both were disappointed about the decidedly non-adventure-y feeling of errand running.

(What should Bubba and the Bug do next?  What do you think?)

Friday, November 18, 2011

letter to my (TWO YEAR OLD) girl

Laine,

Today I was folding and sorting some of Lawton's laundry, pulling out the newborn onesies and sleepers that are now too small.  As I placed them in their own little pile to be relegated to the attic I had to stop and catch my breath for a moment thinking of you, my big, beautiful, smart and sassy little girl, fitting into those same newborn onesies only two years ago.  Only two years and yet... two whole years!  I think only a parent can understand how a length of time can seem so long and so distant and yet have flown by.  I remember so clearly the doctor's appointment when I learned you existed, then standing on the balcony of our tiny one bedroom apartment going through my contact list to let everyone know I was PREGNANT (oh the joy and the terror and the triumph and the anticipation and the anxiety and the excitement wrapped into those eight letters).  And then 39 long/short weeks later, laboring for so long in the hospital and finding out you were a girl (!!!).  I remember bringing you home (to a TWO bedroom apartment), watching you grow, filled with anxiety and wonder and pride, moving you into our first home as a family, seeing you learn to crawl, start to speak, take your first steps...and all of this was just in one year.  And now you're two.

In your second year I found out I was pregnant again in January and had your brother on September 1st (it's been quite a year for both of us, sweetpea).  You went from being my only child to being my first.  And you became a big sister.  If I was proud of you before, I don't know the word to describe the swell of emotions I feel as I watch you with your brother.  Whenever people hear how close in age you two are they always ask me how you're doing... if you're gentle with the baby, if you're a good helper, how you've handled the changes.  My response is always the same:  you're a rock star.

Being a big sister is not the only thing at which you are excelling (and blowing Mommy's mind with).  Holy smokes, girl, are you SMART.  Your vocabulary has skyrocketed and your diction is truly impressive.  Even your pediatrician looked at me across the exam table with raised eyebrows when you started talking to him.  You speak in full sentences, connecting thoughts in way that sometimes surprises me.  (When I got pulled over on our way home from Augusta - NOT for speeding... apparently I didn't slow down enough when passing a police car - you were entranced by the police officer ("the man" as you referred to him) and asked if he was "like Robert", a police horse in a book we hadn't read in weeks.)  You're funny, precocious, flirty (btw, you may want to back off of Travis a little... aunt Chelsea might be getting a little jealous), stubborn, and sweet.  You love to sing and have really remarkable pitch for a 2 year old.  You take that "dance like no one is watching" quote very literally.  You devour books like candy (which you will also devour... like... itself) and have many of your favorites memorized.  You still sleep like an angel and eat like a champ.  You are learning so much so fast about being kind and sharing and taking turns... not that you always do it, because you are a willful and spunky little goober sometimes and certainly know how to have a fit with the best of them.  But basically what I'm getting at here is that I could not have asked for a more remarkable child.

Darling daughter, I just plain adore you.  You are beautiful to me and I can assure you that you always will be.  I am so happy to have added your brother to our family, doubling our number of children but exponentially increasing our joy, but you will always be my special girl, the one that shares my middle name, my first baby.  You light up my life, warm my heart, and fill my soul.  I am so grateful to be your mother.

I love you very much.

Mommy

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

schlumpy

Today has been one of those days in which I walked by a mirror at approximately 3pm, stopped, walked slowly backwards, and gave myself a good, long, horrified look.  No make-up, no shower, no change of clothes since I rolled out of bed at 6am to answer the call of a certain Mr. Fussypants.  A runny-nosed coughing toddler and a squirmy whiny baby will do that to you I suppose.  Motherhood is not glamorous, that's for certain.  But my oh my if it isn't rewarding... in it's own wearing-my-husband's-old-tshirt-and-yoga-pants kinda way.

PS - One of my little "rewards" turns TWO on Friday.  I'm working on her birthday letter.  And by "working on" I mean that I've thought about it, freaked out for a moment, and then wiped up some spit up or other bodily fluid from one child or the other.  (How much longer can I use having a baby as an excuse to not get much of anything done?  I've got a while, right?  RIGHT?)

Monday, November 7, 2011

semi-extreme makeover: bedroom edition

We moved into our first house when Laine was only about 4 months old.  I spent a lot of time and energy fixing up her room (transferring wall decals tediously from her old room on wax paper then obsessing over where it should go in the new room, turning her curtains into mounted canvas wall art when they didn't fit the windows, organizing her HUGE closet) and painting the rest of the house.  My mom and I matched wall colors to rugs and moved the living room chairs about 87 times and re-purposed the guest room closet into a tiny home office for Joe.  But in all of that, the master bedroom kind of fell to the wayside.  I found a paint color I fell in love with and my mother-in-law did a beautiful job painting the room and the attached bath, but that was about it.  We inherited our bedroom set from my parents when they got new stuff a few years ago (free = awesome) and while I was so happy to not have to scrounge furniture from thrift stores and yard sales, it's not really my style.  Our old bedding went into the guest room since it didn't match the new color scheme so we settled for an uncovered duvet and some new sheets.


 This is a pretty accurate "before" shot, although I did do an artsy project and paint a bunch of different red, black, silver, and white "C"s and hang them over the bed.  The jeans on the floor on Joe's side of the bed are also quite accurate.  There's nothing wrong with the room, it just doesn't do anything for me.  Yawn.

So as part of my Christmas list, I told Joe I wanted to finally do something about the room.  I started looking for inspiration pictures on Pinterest and trying to pin down (HA) exactly what I wanted to change.  But every room I liked had either white or black furniture and I just couldn't envision the room looking much different as long as we had this furniture.  And we can't exactly afford a whole new bedroom set right now.  Soooo...


We PAINTED it!

The transformation is not complete... we still have to paint the huge dresser that sits on the wall across from the bed, I think I'm going to take down the "C"s and put up a collage wall of black and white photos, I want to replace the lamps and the bedspread and my giant ugly alarm clock, move the hampers from the foot of the bed to somewhere that Joe's clothes might actually come in contact with them, put a bookshelf on the wall to the right for added storage options, etc.  BUT it's a great start.  We even managed to get the swirly carved thing off the headboard (and the dresser mirror) before we painted!  I'm really happy with how it changes the look of the room so far and it's definitely motivated me to continue working to make the room somewhere I am proud of and enjoy being in.  Here are a few more "during" photos...

 The nightstands getting primed and ready! (HA... I'm on a roll today, y'all.)

 Joe getting in on the action... and a glimpse of Bag-lady Laine in the background.

 The mirror that attaches over the dresser with the funky swirly thing that we managed to pry off.

My nightstand, painted and dry but still needing a little TLC in the decor department.
And a Fitness magazine.

Monday, October 31, 2011

BOO!


One of the best things about having kiddos is having an excuse to get crazy excited about the holidays.  And to go see all the new Pixar/Disney/Muppet movies.  Not that I really needed an excuse.

Anyway,  Happy Halloween from my little monsters!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

letter to my second-born

Dear Lawton,

Let me start by telling you how lucky you are.

You have a father whose number one priority is providing for our family and whose greatest joy is seeing you and your sister grow and learn. You have the most amazing big sister; she wakes up in the morning asking where you are, spends the day bringing you pacifiers, teacups, and plastic hamburger buns, and gives you a kiss goodnight when she goes to bed. Your extended family is exactly that- an extension of our family. Days after meeting you they had already posted hundreds of pictures of you on facebook. They adore you and will support everything you do for the rest of your life. Even your dogs are awesome.

Now let me tell you how lucky I am.

Almost four weeks ago, I gave birth to you, my beautiful and healthy baby boy, weighing in at only an ounce less than your older sister. You made me a mother of "two under two". You've brought even more joy to an already joyful family and even more light into an already brilliant life. You have shown me your father and your sister in new roles that make me love them even more. You are teaching me every day about the kind of mother I want to be and the kind of mother I am capable of being.

I miss nights of continuous sleep and days of guaranteed showers. I could do without getting spit up on 7,000 times a day and changing 10 cloth diapers an hour. I'm not a fan of screaming gassy fits and 2 hour feeding schedules. But all of that pales in comparison to the love I feel for you and how very, truly, wonderfully happy I am that you are part of our family now.

Welcome, son.


Love,
Mommy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

eight

Jaime,

I've lost count of how many times I have started to write and then deleted my first sentence. Even this one sat, cursor blinking at the end, for a good few minutes before I decided I needed to just keep typing. I guess part of the problem is that I don't WANT it to have been yet another year. Another year means another layer of memory worn away by time, another year that I'm closer to being older than you ever were, another year of art and stories and jokes and pranks that never were and never will be.

But I guess that's not the way to look at it. One of your good friends (and mine) made the point that the way to recognize the day of your leaving us is to bring a little bit of you back for those who knew and loved you and share it with the people who were never lucky enough to do so. "Go make someone smile for absolutely no reason. Or find a reason to laugh until it hurts. Or just do something completely unexpected." And that is what you would have wanted, maybe even expected, us all to do.

I can't help but indulge in a selfish moment of sadness, though. For the loss of getting to know who you would have become in your 30s (and 40s and 50s and so on...). For my children, who will never know you. For my mother, for all that she endured eight years ago and so many days since then and all of the memories that haunt her, as they do so many others who were there that weekend. For the dancers and the artists and the actors and the students that miss your presence both onstage and off. For the bear hugs that I miss so very much... so very often... even now.

At least I know, though, that I have grown into a person over these last eight years that you would have wanted to know. You'd be proud of the woman I am becoming, the man that I married, the children I am raising. You'd be amazed by my sisters, and by the little girls you choreographed for and mentored and teased and loved so much, now all stunning and successful women. There's so much you would love about being here now. And there are so many of us who wish that you still were.

I love you.

"What has small balls and hangs down? ... Just answer the question. What has small balls and hangs down? Right, a bat. So what has big balls and hangs up?"

Monday, August 1, 2011

a letter to my son

Dear Baby Boy,

I love feeling you squirm and kick and roll and punch, watching my body morph as you grow. I love pulling out all of the little tiny onesies and hats and sleepers and sorting them into piles, figuring out what might fit you... wondering just how big you might be when you make your debut. I love seeing Laine start to understand about you, hugging and petting and talking to my belly, welcoming her little brother before she even sets eyes on you (oh, and she HAS tested some of your toys for you... hope that's ok). I love knowing where you are at all times, safe and sound and warm and happy and QUIET.

But, darling son, now that it's August? You can come out whenever you're ready.

I love you already, so very much.

Mommy

PS - You have a very sweet face, little one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

mommyhood is...

Aiming all of the air vents toward the back seat on a 100 degree day (bonus points for being 7 and a half months pregnant).

Leaving the bedroom door open all night to be sure to hear those first little noises in the morning.

Timing your showers with an episode of Elmo's World.

Reading Sam and the Firefly 4,767 times. Which is probably about 4,765 more times than you actually wanted to.

Wanting to go in and watch your sweet sleeping one's face... but not as badly as wanting them to stay sweet and sleeping.

Relating to the parents of reality show contestants sometimes even more so than the contestants themselves (hey, proud mama crying in the audience... I totally feel ya).

Taking more pictures and videos over a year and half than the other 26 years of your life combined. And thinking everyone surely wants to look at them as much as you do.

Becoming fluent in toddler-ese.

Realizing a dream by driving home a Toyota Sienna, humming the "Swagger Wagon" song to yourself as you pull out of the lot (past all of the hot convertibles... which are just SO not practical right now).

Sunday, June 5, 2011

think on this

If you are a mommy (or a daddy), most especially of the stay-at-home variety, read this. I found that it said a lot of the things I have said or though about the importance and difficulty and monotony and wonder and drudgery and joy of being home with kids all day in such a beautiful, empowering way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

territorial

I've been determined since the moment I found out I was expecting #2 that I would keep up my gym routine this time and not turn into a York peppermint devouring walrus. So I've been half successful. (I love me some York mints, especially when I'm busy growing a human.) I still hit the gym 3 or 4 times a week, rocking it out on the spin bike or balancing my pregnant self on an exercise ball to do some chest presses. Not gonna lie, I expect people to be a little impressed when I waddle myself into an hour long group exercise class. I notice the double takes and a shoot back a hell-yeah-I-can-grow-a-human-AND-pump-it-up-WHATUPSUCKA look. It's a look I've really begun to master. I've got the pregnant girl at the gym act down pat. It's one of the perks, folks, what can I say? Doesn't hurt that there's not really any competition.

Until today.

I walked into my usual Thursday morning spin class and started setting up my bike and stretching all nonchalant-like when SHE walked in. Slightly sweaty like maybe she had been working out BEFORE class. Cute as a button. And very much pregnant.

Aw, heck naw. I've been dethroned.

Friday, May 6, 2011

will the real june cleaver please stand up?

I got a sweet note from a friend after my last blog entry thanking me for being "real" on my blog. She said other bloggers (and I'm sure other moms on the playground and in books and magazines and on TV shows) sometimes made her feel that she is falling short of some "good mom" goal and she appreciated reading that someone else might not have it all together either but still managed to get by, maybe even joyfully.


Here's what I want to know: where are they?


Where are all of these "got it together" mamas that we hold ourselves up to and constantly, helplessly, obviously fall short of? I’m sure even those intimidating women I see at the gym with their huge rings and coordinating gym clothes and mammoth SUVs and daughters with matching hairbows feel like they are falling short somewhere. Because most of the women I talk to - real women with real children and lives and husbands and houses that get dirty and laundry that's not done and frozen pizza for dinner - rarely ever seem to feel that they've "got it together". But what does that mean? Where do we get the idea from that mothering has anything to do with being "together"? In my opinion, it has much more to do with just being PRESENT.


Shortly after reading my friend's message, I read another blog entry about very much the same thing. Another mom who might not have a house that looks like the photos in a Real Simple article, but who has identified priorities for herself and her children. Her post centers, to me, around this little snippet of wisdom:


"And then I remember what my most important parenting job is. And that is to teach my children how to deal with being human. Because most likely, that’s where they’re headed. No matter what I do, they’re headed towards being jacked-up humans faster than three brake-less railroad cars.There is really only one way to deal gracefully with being a jacked-up human, and that is this: Forgive yourself."


Can I get an "amen"? How can we teach our children how to gracefully navigate life, mistakes and all, if we pretend to never make them?


At the end of her entry, this blogger asks her readers to leave comments telling what makes them a good mom. Not what they need to fix or forget to do or think that the lady in front of them at carpool does better, but what they do well all on their very own. I think for me it is that I do recognize every day that I am not a perfect mother or wife or housekeeper. My living room rug is currently host to enough dog hair to cover another good sized dog and there is laundry on the bedroom floor that has been there for at least a day or two. I'm not sure what we're having for dinner and it may very well come out of the freezer. But I love my daughter. I love being her mother. She makes me laugh every single day. And what I am good at is allowing myself to fall short of perfect so that I can find joy in those fleeting moments. I’ve found that for me to be a happy, and therefore I think a “better” mother, it's more important to me to BE together than to HAVE IT together.


Happy Mother’s Day, mamas. You’re all awesome.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

a likely story

If I write another blog entry about how I'm going to be better about writing more consistent blog entries, I'm going to be annoyed with myself. So suffice it to say that I really have no excuse other than my long queue on Hulu and a strong desire for afternoon naps. I would say that I also suffer from a lack of interesting things to blog about lately, but some of my most favorite bloggers post nearly every day and always seem to make themselves seem interesting, funny, thoughtful, or all of the above. Plus I have pretty much the most adorable genius baby (eek... I guess I should say toddler... that little stinker will be EIGHTEEN MONTHS old next week) ever in life, so writing about her alone should provide blog fodder for all eternity. I guess I just need to start looking at life through blog-colored glasses. Or just take a healthy dose of ego and assume that everyone finds my life fascinating.

Today I got to be a single mom for a day since Joe went to Augusta for his cousin's med school hooding (YAY Kate!). MAD PROPS to all the single mamas out there. On days when I don't leave home early to teach Joe doesn't usually come home until 5:30ish anyway, but those few hours of having both of us home to share parenting duties is such a joy, not to mention a relief. I just like having someone else there to make decisions, even if it's just what to make Laine for dinner. It's also much harder to be a single CAR-LESS mom, but Laine and I rocked it out today and filled our afternoon with an impromptu playdate with one of her many gentleman callers, a walk to the park (on top of my hour and a half at the gym this morning... wham bam thank you MA'AM... and you bet your fanny I'm bragging on my walrus-y pregnant self), peanut butter and "chocolate" (nutella) for dinner, and a late bedtime because Mommy is a sucker for "again" when it comes to lullabies. I like days when I feel like I am on top of my mommy game, because I know our little world is about to be rocked in approximately 4 months time. Sometimes that seems like an eternity, but on days like this when I did most things right and got some exercise and took a nap and I can sink onto the couch exhausted and satisfied with a quietly sleeping toddler and a sink empty of dishes at 7:30 ready to watch some American Idol... I think 4 months might be just long enough.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

IT'S A...

Because we can't do anything the "normal" way. And because my students are incredible.

video

Can't wait to meet you, little man. We love you already.

Friday, April 15, 2011

tina fey's prayer

(Sadly,) I am not Tina Fey. And so, since I can not be any funnier, more concise and direct, or find a better way to combine heartfelt pleading with wit and light-heartedness, I will just post her prayer for her daughter here. And then probably tape it to my bathroom mirror.

First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.

May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.

When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.

Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.

Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.

What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.

May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.

Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short - a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day - And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.

O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.

And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.

And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.

“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.

Amen.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

practice makes...

My darling husband emailed me an article the other day (with the subject line "article for blogpost"... he's so supportive and encouraging... and he likes to harass me) about a new trend of parents who don't enjoy parenting. Some of this article was very frustrating to me... study after study sited of why parents should be miserable, angry, exhausted, frustrated, and dissatisfied with their lives. And of course we all feel that way sometimes. Maybe even for an entire day. Perhaps even the bulk of an entire week. But my argument is that we have to remember the difference between our own happiness in the immediate present moment, and the fulfillment and satisfaction from creating a family that includes happy, well-adjusted, intelligent kids. I completely agree with the author of the article that we also need to acknowledge that our very ability to analyze our own personal day-t0-day happiness while raising children is a testament to the country we live in and the resources available to us. Our children are not out herding goats while we figure out how to feed them for another day. We can whine about not having time to fit in a yoga class. But I think the most important point the article makes comes at the very end:

Susan Callahan, co-author with Anne Nolen and Katrin Schumann of "Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too," points out that the intense focus on our children can lead many moms to resent motherhood. "We believe that parents, and women in particular, run into a couple stumbling blocks when parenting," Callahan says. "The three big themes tend to be perfectionism, multitasking, and stress." After interviewing more than 500 women while researching their book, Callahan says that she and her colleagues found that "perfectionism is the number one issue keeping modern mothers from enjoying the moment." "We are all so busy trying to be everything to everyone—and doing a stellar job while we’re at it—that we don’t have a spare second to plug into our own needs or desires," she points out.

This point was driven home to me personally when I was reading a parenting magazine last night before bed. There was a section devoted to healthy eating and an active lifestyle for children- something I am sure we can all get behind 100%, especially given the epidemic of childhood obesity in America. A sidebar caught my eye, informing parents that a serving of applesauce can have as much sugar as a brownie and a "turkey and cheddar on wheat has approximately 500mg of sodium" (GASP). Some of this options given (and these are the "good" options... not even the "better" or "best"... because, really, who wants to do the "best" for their kids?) are making your own breakfast treat with Greek yogurt, frozen bananas, honey, wheat germ, and a few semi-sweet chocolate chips or whole grain pasta tossed with a tomato based meat sauce- with grated carrots, zucchini, and wheat germ in the sauce of course. Now I am in no way poo-pooing these meal ideas. But in place of a good ol' turkey and cheese for lunch every now and again? Sorry Parenting: Early Years, I don't think applesauce for an afternoon snack is the dark horse problem behind childhood obesity. I just don't buy it (the idea... I DO buy applesauce... the unsweetened kind, of course). But now am I supposed to feel guilty when I slap together a PB&J for Laine's lunch? Should every lunch involve wheat germ (btw... EW)? How much pressure do we really need to add on to the already mind-blowing task of raising a decent human being?

I don't know how I feel about parents who find parenting to be depressing. I wonder if sometimes we do idealize the lifestyle, or perhaps look back on it when our children are grown with somewhat rose-tinted glasses. But don't we do that about everything? Was college really the "best time of our lives"? I think right now is pretty darn good in Casa Caldwell. And I think a great deal of why I am able to feel that way is because I know without a doubt that I am not doing everything right. I'm not feeding Laine flaxseed and quinoa everyday. I'm not reading every parenting book or following every guideline thrown at me by the pediatric association folks. I am not the perfect mom, but I enjoy my daughter and I try my best.

And I'm ok with that.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

self help

I feel slightly ridiculous saying this since approximately 4,003 of my friends are currently pregnant right along with me, but being pregnant for the second time is kind of a lonely experience. There is no What To Expect the Next Time You Get Pregnant When You Already Have a Brilliant, Independent, Busy Toddler book. I actually looked. Not for that exact title, obviously, but I did peruse the Family and Parenting section at Barnes and Noble when we took Laine to play with the train set develop her young literary mind. I scanned the shelves for anything about introducing a second (or third, or fourth, or eighteenth if you're the Duggars) baby into your pre-existing little family. Nothing. There were books on children with special needs, discipline, how and where and what to feed your toddler, baby sign language, baby underwater basket weaving, and how to control sibling rivalry once those other babies have made their debut and are fighting it out Darwinian style. But what can this anxious second time mommy turn to while awaiting #2? Even the best of the best websites for expectant mother (What To Expect, The Bump, etc.) don't have articles beyond "Are You Ready For Another Baby"? TOO LATE, The Bump. Now what do I do?? Of course the other moms in my life are a huge resource. My college roomie Katie is expecting her second (a little boy!) in August, and she and I discussed this very issue while our precious little firstborns were napping the other day. She told me that her husband sent out a message to their friends with multiple children asking what advice they wish they had been given when expecting (brilliant) and almost all of them said they didn't expect the guilt and difficulty of balancing the needs of their toddler with the demands of a newborn. Well... yeah. At least I know I'm nervous about the right things.

Of course I know that once BC2 is here we will adjust to the "new normal" of having two kids. Laine will never really remember a time before she was a big sister (I don't, and I was older than her when my sisters were born) and the guilt will fade as we learn how to balance their needs and divide time and attention between the two of them. But I knew the same things when I was pregnant with Laine: having a baby would be our "new normal", we would learn how to manage our time and keep our marriage a priority. But it was calming, refreshing, and encouraging to have shelves and websites full of expert advice and other people's experiences to guide me along the way and to remind me that other women- thousands and thousands of other women- have been through the very same things. I wonder why no one has capitalized on the needs and questions of all of us anxious, excited, terrified, and thrilled second time mothers?

Maybe it's time I wrote a book after all...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

work in progress

I was 18, almost 19, when Jaime died. A few weeks after the horrible news, the emotionally draining progression of events, the return home of my exhausted mother from the front lines of tragedy, the rocking of my little teen-aged world, I had to return to Berry College for my sophomore year. I didn't quiet know how to handle the kind of grief I was feeling. I had experienced death before, the loss of a grandfather and of a young friend to cancer, but I had been much younger and somehow their deaths, while profound and terribly sad, had seemed farther removed from me. I wrote bad poetry, I slept a lot, I cried even more. I had dreams about Jaime almost every night where he would come and tell me that it had all been a mistake and we would laugh about how dramatic everyone was together. And then I would wake up and start all over again. I went through what I see now as a pretty normal progression of grief: the anger and denial, the wistful nostalgia, the draining sadness and exhaustion. What helped me finally move forward toward acceptance was the very thing that had brought me to Jaime in the first place: dance. That March I was given my first opportunity to choreograph for Berry's annual dance concert. I couldn't imagine doing a piece that was about anything other than my feelings about Jaime's death. I threw myself head and heart first into my choreography, moved by the lyrics of the song I chose and relieved to finally have an outlet for the torrent of feelings I had been unable to articulate. I chose a dear friend to represent Jaime and three strong and beautiful women to portray the stages of my grieving process. I tearfully explained the story to them and they responded by working diligently to make the piece come to life. I cried every night watching from the wings, holding a picture of Jaime clutched to my heart.

This year I was struck by the desire to bring the piece back to the stage. Seven years have passed and I knew that I had enough time and space from the events to be able to focus more on the dancing itself. I also had students that I trusted to take the dance and do with it what my friends had done years before. I felt that there was potential in the work and I also felt that I needed to "finish" it.

Explaining the story behind the dance to my students was very different from telling it to my friends the first time. I didn't cry this time, although I did find it difficult to look at their sweet, shocked, innocent faces as I told them the hardest parts. But I also told them what Jaime had meant to me, how fun and funny he was, what a talented and inspiring man he had been not only to me but to an entire community. While the dance was about the hardest part of my relationship with Jaime - the end of it - it was also about all that had come before. And in the end, it was about moving on from grief. I don't think I realized that the first time as I sat with a mascara-stained face in the wings of the Rome City Auditorium. Only seven months removed from the loss of one of my dearest friends, I felt that the intensity of my grief would be a permanent fixture in my life. The dance was a small outlet for that intensity, a release. But this time, as much as re-staging the dance was cathartic for me, it was also a gift to Jaime's memory, an homage to the joy we had shared in dancing together. And while I don't know that I will re-stage this dance again, I have learned that my grief is as much a work in progress as this dance was. I know I will probably cry watching my students perform this weekend, and part of that will be out of sadness for what I have lost. But another part with be pride; pride for making beauty out of sadness, hope from hopelessness, and finding creation even in loss.

video

Monday, February 7, 2011

(another) letter to my firstborn

Dear Laine,

As you grow up, you will develop a long and ever-growing list of words to identify yourself. Some will be adjectives, but some of the most important will be nouns. For now, besides being funny and smart and stubborn, you are a daughter, granddaughter, toddler, and our firstborn. You added mother to my list a few years after your father added wife, on top of pre-existing words that I share with you: daughter, granddaughter, and, of course, firstborn. Because not only was I always a sister (at least for as long as I can remember), I was an older sister. An oldest. A first.

Darling daughter, in a matter of months you are going to add a very important noun to your list. One of the most important words you will ever define yourself with until you get married and have children of your own.

You, my baby girl, my first child, my daughter, are going to be a sister.

I can't wait to see you in this new role in your life and watch the things that you will share with your little baby brother or sister. While I am certainly anxious about having a baby less than two years younger than you, seeing what an amazing little girl you have become and are becoming every day eases my mind. Knowing how easy it has been to love you and to be your mother assures me that I will only find more love and more joy in mothering you and your sibling.

I know there will be difficult moments for the both of us. There will be disruption to our routine, exhaustion, jealousy, frustration, and confusion. But there will also be so much joy, my girl, and in no small part thanks to you and the light you constantly bring to everyone around you.

And even though you are adding this new special word to your life- sister- you are still and will always be my daughter. My oldest.

My first.

I love you,
Mommy

Baby C #2, due 9/6/2011

Monday, January 31, 2011

big girl

Yesterday, Laine had been playing outside ("side?"), dumping dirt back into the holes that Libby has been working tirelessly on. Joe brought her back in and I laughed at her filthy hands and the dirt that had somehow gotten into her shoes and in between her toes.

"Punkin, you're going to need a bath tonight! You are DIRTY!"

"Dirty!" she parroted. Clear as a bell.

Joe and I looked at each other wide-eyed.

"Did you hear that?" I asked him and Laine piled books into my lap.

"Yeah. She said dirty."

"Sometimes she just... astounds me." I murmured.

As soon as I said it I realized how true it was. Even though she has been mimicking words and learning new ones every day for months, there are moments when she looks at me and says something new and sounds so self-assured, so smart, so much like a big girl! Or I see her trotting down the hall to her room flapping her arms or carrying a book and marvel at how tall she is, how confident, how much of a big girl! Or I ask her to pick out a new book or go get her baby or take a drink of milk and she DOES it and I laugh a little to think that I am actually talking WITH my daughter instead of just TO her. And that soon she will be talking back in more than just parroted words... and then eventually, not long enough from now probably, she will be talking BACK to me. (That is one phase I am in no rush to get to.)

I know as she gets older (taller, BIGGER) that she will continue to get smarter, more confident, more self-sufficient... and I will continue to be more and more astounded.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

don't forget to remember

We forget so much as mothers. Of course we have to forget the pain of childbirth and the anxiety and exhaustion and crippling panicky moments of the first few months, at least enough to be willing to do it again. We forget how tiny they were, when exactly they rolled over back to tummy and tummy to back, how many times we washed yellowy newborn poop off of teeny weeny newborn onesies only to have them spit up on immediately after they came out of the dryer. We forget the name of the mother that we liked at the new mom group, even though we can remember their baby's name and when they (the baby... usually) had their last bowel movement and how they feel about breastfeeding in public. We forget what newborn baby feet smell like... before they start to smell like FEET (the true test of toddlerhood, in my opinion). We forget the mundane moments... and the miraculous ones.

Almost as remarkable as how much we forget as mothers is how much we remember.

We remember a whole new human. Their birthday (down to the minute), how much they weigh and how many inches long they are and how they rank compared to other growing little ones, the foods they like and the ones they throw at you in frustration and disgust, the words they know, the names of their friends (and the words they know and when they walked and ohmygodismybabybehindthatbabyamIaterribleparent?) and when the next playdate is. The words to the books you read over and over (and over) again, from Goodnight Moon to Yummy Yucky to My First Book of Colors. We remember how to translate "Sdat" to "What's that?" and we remember that it's important to try and answer every time, even when we've already told them too many times to count. We remember how much we've forgotten.

And then we remember to thank God that we live in the age of digital photography.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

sheesh

Remember that time I was going to make blogging more a part of my regular routine? Well, let's talk about what a liar I am. I don't even have good excuses, y'all. We were snowed in for DAYS and I still didn't blog. And trust me, I could have written a freakin' book on The Stir Crazy. Oh The Stir Crazy... sheesh. But ANWAYS. I've been inspired. And Marie, if you're reading, the inspiration is YOU. Marie went to my high school and has a daughter just a few months younger than Laine and she updates her blog with baby updates alllllll the time. The entries are always delightful, usually have pictures, and are just radiating the love that Marie has for her precious little one. Thanks goodness Laine and Libby (Marie's daughter, not to be confused with the Libby that usually gets the spotlight in this particular blog) can't read and compare notes because Laine updates certainly pale in comparison to Miss Libby's lately. So, thanks Marie and Libby for making me ashamed of my slackerdom and motivating me to follow your example.

Laine update, you ask? Well certainly.

Laine is a TODDLER, y'all. It's amazing to me how she has changed in the few short months since her birthday. She is walking/almost running everywhere now and picking up speed and confidence daily. She adds words to her vocabulary constantly and is becoming quite the proficient little parrot (which means Joe and I really need to watch what we say now! yikes...). She's still taking two naps but I think we're sneaking up on a transition to one (yikes again). She eats "table food" almost exclusively, loves her milk and (watered down but don't tell her that) juice in a sippy cup. She still loves her books more than anything and will get me to read to her for hours. She cracks up laughing- sometimes so hard that she falls over- when we add "sound effects" to her books, especially sneezes, "ouch", and "yucky" sounds. She is independent and bright, joyful and friendly, frustrating and delightful. In short, she is everything I would have asked for in a daughter and then some. How lucky am I?

Monday, January 10, 2011

s[no]w way!

How will I ever convince my 14 month old daughter (who experienced the THIRD SNOW of her little life today) that snow in the south is actually a rare event? I feel it's not convincing when we're blanketed with almost 8 inches of the fluffy (icy) stuff in one day.


Oh and really... how stinkin' adorable is she?