Friday, September 30, 2011

The Incident

baby's bladder trampoline
Running out of room in there =
bladder trampoline for baby
Lately my bladder has felt like a punching bag/squeeze toy. I probably have to pee an average of 87 times a day, and although this is a normal part of pregnancy, the constant trips to the bathroom are starting to drive me nuts. On the plus side, frequent urination also brings to mind an interesting story from childhood:
One day in kindergarten we were in the middle of recess, and I was enjoying a game of tag (or something like that – it was 23 years ago, so I can’t say for sure) when all of a sudden I felt the urge. I promptly made my way over to the teacher on duty and asked if I could go to the restroom.

“Recess will be over soon. Can you hold it?” she asked.
I pondered her question. I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t want to disappoint.

“Okay,” I said reluctantly.

I made my way back to my friends. Somehow in my little mind I thought this was a test. The teacher wanted me to hold it, and I wanted to make her proud.

But the urge kept getting stronger. What had once felt like a slowly expanding water balloon was beginning to feel like an enormous tidal wave getting ready to burst through a dam.
My friends were standing around, talking and trying to decide what to play next. Gravity was taking its toll, so I sat down on the ground, hoping it would somehow make the discomfort go away. Stay in, stay in, I kept thinking. Please don’t come out. But alas, it was not to happen that way. The next thing I knew, a river was springing forth from underneath me and flowing down the pavement.

Maybe no one will notice, I thought.
One of my friends pointed to the stream. “What’s that?”

I don’t remember much after that, other than trudging back to the teacher and informing her that I had wet myself.

She looked dumbfounded. “I thought you said you could hold it.”

Um, lady, I’m five.
Morals of the story? Well, first, if a child tells you he/she needs to pee, then by all means direct the poor little thing to a restroom! This I know from potty training Hannah - children are so distracted at playtime that when they finally tell you they have to go, that means they have to go RIGHT THEN.

Secondly, don’t overestimate a child’s sense of judgment. Common sense and discernment are not things we are born with – they are qualities that develop over time. This is why kids notoriously never reveal they have to go potty until they have already been bundled up to go outside.
And lastly, don’t try to be tough or try to please someone else by “holding it in” – metaphorically speaking. I was the type of child who was a little timid and didn’t want to be a burden to anyone. Had I just been assertive and insisted that I needed to go right away, the whole incident could have been avoided. And I’m still a little like that, still learning how to let my needs be known without worrying that I’m putting someone out.

Folks, we learn a lot more from our playground days than we realize.
Now, I'm off to the restroom...again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Soothing Salve and the Sincerest Form of Flattery

i love the smell of vaporub
Aaaaaah, yes
Does anyone else have the problem of not being able to go through the medicine cabinet without opening the jar of Vick’s VapoRub and taking a big whiff?
Seriously, I LOVE the stuff. There’s just something magical about the aroma, that tantalizing mixture of menthol/eucalyptus/camphor. It must be a nostalgic thing since I always got it rubbed on my chest when I had colds as a kid…but all I can say is if I see a jar of it sitting there, I HAVE to smell it.

I suppose there are much worse quirks to have. My grandmother once told me she loved the smell of gasoline so much that it made her want to drink it. Yikes.

I got to thinking about this because Hannah just recently got over a cold, so of course I’ve had the delightful concoction nearby, and now Hannah wants a sniff every time she sees it. I’m not sure if she genuinely likes the scent or if she’s just imitating Mama, but it’s definitely true that kids are little copycats at this age. They are watching EVERY. MOVE. YOU. MAKE. That’s why it’s so vitally important to set a good example at all times. Of course, as humans and as parents, it’s impossible to be perfect - but we do have to be mindful of the little eyes that are on us.
Eventually, our kids are going to grow up and make fun of all of our idiosyncracies. I know this from being a daughter. (You’re welcome, Mom.) But right now I embody everything Hannah knows about the world, and that is a pretty heavy concept to think about. My actions shape how she learns to behave and adapt and interact. It’s such an amazing and scary responsibility.

Daddies are just as susceptible to this scrutiny, perhaps even more so when there are daughters involved. Hannah adores her daddy. Every day they go to the garden to see if there are any vegetables to pick. To her dad’s dismay, she routinely picks unripe tomatoes off the vine when he’s not looking and cheerfully displays them. She just wants to make him proud. Maybe that’s also why she sits at his computer with his headphones on and pretends to chat with her gaming buddies.

Taking over daddy's "man cave"
My children will always love me, but they won’t always revere me. They will realize that I’m flawed, that I don’t have all the answers, that I have silly quirks that drive them nuts...and that’s okay. I just pray that I will provide them with the best example I can possibly be. I just want to know that I have done all I can to shape them into strong, loving, beautiful souls.
And I also just want to know if there is anyone else out there who has a bizarre obsession with VapoRub…

Friday, September 23, 2011

Toddlerisms: Manners

Somehow we have managed to turn Hannah into a very polite little toddler. She says please, thank you, you’re welcome, I love you, excuse me, good morning, and my personal favorite, “happy to see you.”
teaching a toddler manners
Clearly the face of a polite toddler

It’s so funny to think about how she picked up some of these phrases, and I wonder how much she truly understands them. When she would wake up from her naps, our dog Lia would follow me to the bedroom and wag her tail excitedly. So I started saying “Look, Hannah. Lia is so glad you’re awake. She’s happy to see you.” Now Clint and I are greeted each morning with, “Good morning, Daddy. Happy-see-you, Mama.”

I love when we walk by someone in a store aisle and she says “scuse me.” It always puts a smile on the stranger’s face, and I can’t help but be proud. And it’s too adorable when she talks to her toys: “Scuse me, Elmo. Scuse me, baby.” However, I have to wonder what she’s thinking when her courtesy extends to inanimate objects with absolutely no anthropomorphic qualities. When we were playing on the bed a couple of days ago, she moved a pair of her underwear out of the way and said, “Scuse me, panties.” I couldn’t stop laughing.

I also sometimes wonder if manners have been a little too ingrained into our little one. Occasionally she gets stuck on one track and Clint has a little too much fun with it, as evidenced by this week’s most entertaining conversation:

“Thank you, Daddy.”
“You’re welcome, Hannah.”
“You’re welcome, Daddy.”
“Thank you, Hannah.”
“Thank you, Daddy.”
“You’re welcome, Hannah.”

It went on for a little longer. Lucky Hannah. She’s about to get a baby brother who will no doubt have his Daddy’s playfully annoying sense of humor.

But even as polite as Hannah is, nobody’s perfect, so some scenarios are going to take a little more work. Today in the car I changed the radio station, and with each new song I turned to, I heard a little voice behind me say, “No, Mama.” I returned to the original song. She said “yes” and began bobbing her head to the music. She’s not even two yet and she already wants to control the radio in the car. And I thought I had another ten years…

I always thought it would take a lot of reminders to teach a kid manners, but surprisingly, our observant little sponge picked it up quickly and easily. Turns out all it takes is parents modeling polite behavior.

Well, that and obnoxiously repetitive conversations.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Love, Faith, Trials, Blessings

Yesterday Clint and I watched part of the video of our honeymoon. Although it was only a little over seven years ago, I couldn’t help but think we looked so young.
young kids in love

honeymoon waterfall

honeymoon on carnival cruise ship
Amidst footage of us traipsing through island gift shops and aimlessly walking through the corridors of the cruise ship, there are actually a couple of nice candid moments. At one point I turn the camera on Clint and ask what he would like to say to our future children.

“I’m glad you’re not here,” he says.
What can I say? The guy has a sense of humor.

I ask him why, and he says he would most likely be spending a lot of time disciplining.
“Except for that one girl,” he says. “She’s probably pretty good. But the oldest boy…he’s like me. He’s a pain in the butt.”

It was such a great moment to reflect on because Hannah really is a sweet, well-mannered little girl (most of the time – she is a toddler after all), but since Daddy was right so far about her, his other prediction has me a little freaked out.
I know nothing about little boys.  Growing up, I was surrounded by sisters, so I felt pretty prepared when I found out our first was going to be a girl. Of course, it turned out that I was not at all prepared for the trials of a newborn, but that’s a story for another day. Luckily, I have no doubt that I will figure out how to raise a boy as I go because, well, that’s just how it works.

This pregnancy has felt so much different from the last in a lot of ways, and not just in a physical way, though the fatigue has pretty much kicked my butt this time around. I can’t decide if I feel more prepared now, or if I’m actually more scared because I know what to expect…round-the-clock breastfeeding, pacing the floor until the wee hours of the morning…basically, I’m terrified of the sleep deprivation. But at least this time I also know from experience the joy that lies ahead.
Whenever I start to feel a little apprehensive about what it’s going to be like to add another little one to the mix, I remind myself that there was once a time when I wasn’t sure if I would ever even get to experience being a mother. It took nearly two years of some dark, emotional days and a devastating miscarriage before Hannah came into our lives. I think back to that time and the fragment of a person that I became, and though I’m so relieved and thankful for the way things turned out, I sometimes feel a little guilty. I didn’t have to struggle through it for as long as some people do. My heart aches for everyone who is experiencing infertility or loss because it hurts on a level that, I think, others can’t truly understand unless they’ve been through it themselves. It feels so unfair to watch everyone around you get pregnant and wonder why it’s not so easy for you, why you don’t deserve to have your longing fulfilled too.

I know that God is big enough to give us peace and comfort even when we are filled with despair, and that’s my prayer for those who are going through such tough trials. His love is greater than any we have ever known, and that’s a reminder that often escapes all of us, especially when life starts to look nothing but cruel. I know there are times when it was sure hard for me to remember.
I look at those two kids on that video, so young and in love and unaware of the hardships that are in store for them, and I’m thankful that they started out with faith.

journey of faith
It has been an amazing journey, and there is so much more life to be lived. I can only hope that as new trials approach, I can learn how to face them with more strength and faith than I have in the past.

And I hope this baby boy is easier than his daddy expects, but no matter what, he is a blessing and a gift that I will always treasure.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daydreams and Thought Streams

I was such a dreamer as a kid. I would get so lost in my own mind that I would unknowingly make ridiculous or bizarre facial expressions and would not realize it until after someone else had already noticed. I would eventually look up to find the spectator watching me intently, with a look of either extreme confusion or dread/repulsion – I was never quite sure which. (Granted, this usually happened as I was staring out the window of the school bus, a place where kids tended to look at each other with repulsion.) I can’t really blame them because I must have been quite a sight. Why is that weird girl over there gritting her teeth and flaring her nostrils at nothing? But those experiences forced me to attempt to reign in my thoughts and emotions and make a concerted effort to keep them hidden.

Has that stuck with me? I think so, to an extent. I think we all have hesitancies about revealing our true thoughts and feelings, out of fear that others will find us odd. But the funny thing is that as a result of turning myself into a closed book, I often wonder if I’m generally misunderstood. I’d like to say that I don’t care what other people think of me, but I really do. It bothers me if I feel like someone has the wrong idea about me. After all, I don’t know who wouldn’t want to be friends with the co-creator of this awesomeness:

*warning – shamelessly unnecessary cute kid photo ahead*

child of a dreamer

I think about the way that my daughter makes me feel, and I hope that I am that for someone. I hope I am capable of giving affection the way she does, of bringing joy and laughter to someone, of just being a soul that other souls want to be around.
I know I can’t be that for everybody. In sixth grade we took some sort of social studies quiz about relationships and interacting with others. It was just a quiz for fun, but back in the day I took all quizzes pretty seriously, and being the typical idealist I was, I marked “True” next to the statement “It is possible for everyone to like me.” It took me a long time to figure out why I got that question wrong.

Thankfully, there are many times when I look at Hannah and think, I must be doing something right. It brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw her wrap her doll in a blanket, give her a kiss, and say, “Night-night, baby.” A few days ago I asked her, “Hannah, are you Mommy’s best friend?” I don’t think she has any idea what that means, but she replied, “Yes, Mama. I wuvoo,” and gave me a hug. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Ago

It has been ten years since the 9/11 attacks. TEN. YEARS. I can barely wrap my mind around that number. It has been ten years since I graduated from high school. Ten years since I started college. My daughter is nearly 1/5 of her way to age ten. This is not supposed to be a short time span. And yet when you remember something so vividly in your mind – like your false sense of security crashing to the ground and your awareness of evil in the world heightening – well, I suppose it will always seem like just a blink of an eye ago for you.

For me 9/11 occurred during the time in my life when I was standing on the precipice of adulthood, trying to figure out how I was going to bridge the gap before me without crashing into the abyss below. There I stood, a contemplative teenager who up until this point had all of these plans and dreams about how my life was going to go, and then suddenly I was forced to accept what I already knew but just didn’t want to acknowledge – my earthly time was fleeting.
Surely we all recognize the impermanence of life, but how often do we really think about it? 9/11 was a forced reminder. Life is full of loss and pain, sorrow and uncertainty…grief, suffering, heartbreak. But with all of that comes some pretty amazing things as well – compassion, healing, LOVE. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

It breaks my heart to hear all the personal accounts from those who were there to witness it firsthand. I know we all feel like we were right there with them when we think back to that day, our eyes glued to the TV as we struggled to fight back tears. But even though there are moments in life that look so horrific, what gives us hope are the moments that look like this:
capturing moments of love

I’m so thankful that this is what my life looks like ten years later and that freedom and security still exist so we can feel this way. I’m thankful for the heroes who make it possible, and I’m thankful that no matter what the world holds, our Creator holds the world in His hands.

Friday, September 9, 2011


Although Hannah speaks quite clearly for her age, there are some pronunciations that she hasn't quite mastered yet, so she uses her own special versions of those words.

For example, 'chocolate' is known as ‘colly’ in our household, and ‘moy’ means ‘more’. Moy is a word that we hear quite often. Sometimes the kid just doesn’t know when to quit.

And I’ve got to hand it to her – there is no better lesson in persistence than a toddler with an agenda. If I’m not paying attention when she comes to me and asks for ‘moy milk’ or ‘moy colly’, she reaches her little hand up to my face and tilts my chin down so my eyes meet hers. “Mama, moy juice,” she insists, her eyes ablaze with an intense, earnest expression that indicates the sheer importance of her request. Her determination often makes me laugh, but it also makes me think about why some of us lose that sense of perseverance as we get older.

Granted, some people probably never lose it, but I know that so many of us get complacent in life. Being content is certainly something to strive for, but there’s a difference between contentment and lethargy.

Sometimes I get frustrated with my own laziness when I consider all the things I could or should be doing. But maybe it just seems impossible to accomplish everything I want when I’ve forgotten what true persistence looks like. And there are so many things that I want to learn…and do…and be.

Maybe it just gets to be overwhelming when we pile so many things onto our wish list and then realize that life goes by in a flash. Or is it because our efforts seem to get thwarted so many times along the way?

I imagine God must find us rather amusing, as there are so many times when we truly, deeply yearn for something but can’t quite articulate it. That shouldn’t stop us – it doesn’t stop the kiddos. Perhaps it’s simply easier for a child to strive for what she wants, without cluttering her mind with expectations and apprehensions. She goes for it and puts her whole mind, body, and soul into getting what she wants, not letting any barriers or miscommunication get in the way…because when the barriers come down and the goal is finally achieved, the payoff can be pretty great:

“Mama, here. Towel!”

“I don’t need a towel, Hannah. I’m dry.”

“No, mama. Towel! Here!”

“No, thank you.”


“Baby, I really don’t need a towel…”

“Mama, towel! Towel!”

“Um…okay.” I give in and bewilderedly take the towel. “Thank you?”