Monday, October 31, 2011

The Little Details

Today is most likely the last day of the last full month that I’m a mother of one. It feels pretty surreal, especially considering how quickly these last nine months have gone by. I can’t help but think about all the things I wanted to get done that are not done:

Start on Baby Boy’s scrapbook. I haven’t even purchased his scrapbook. In fact I’m not even 100% finished with Hannah’s first-year scrapbook.
Stock the freezer full of meals. I was far too exhausted to do much of anything my first time around with a newborn, so this sounds like a great idea, in theory. Unfortunately, I enjoy having leftovers too much to ever actually freeze anything. I foresee a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup in our future. Good thing one of the easiest meals is also the hubby’s favorite!

Get the house impeccably clean and organized. Thankfully, nesting has somewhat kicked into gear, and I have found the energy to get some of this accomplished lately. It just never feels complete, but I suppose it never will.
Make the most of this last little bit of time with just my sweet little girl. Fatigue has made this a challenge, but I hope I’ve been able to do this as best as I can. No doubt Hannah will love being a big sister, but things are about to change in ways that we can’t even imagine. The past two years have been so precious… and so fast.

I know I’m more prepared than I think. Eventually I’ll get into a routine, and everything will fall into place. And none of this really matters anyway because all I’m going to want to do is love on my two babies. I’ll forget why the rest of it seemed so important.
So tonight I'm letting go of the little things and simply enjoying my evening with my loved ones.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letter to Hannah: The Day You Came True

Hearing a baby’s heartbeat for the first time can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of a parent’s life. It can also be one of the most overwhelming and life-changing.

I was so anxious at my 12-week appointment when I was pregnant with you. I’d had a miscarriage many months earlier, and so far this new pregnancy had not been without complications and concerns. I didn’t know what to expect, but I just tried not to think about the possibility of things going the way they had before.
Your daddy sat in a chair next to the door, and I hopped up on the exam table. We didn’t say much until the midwife entered, and then we spoke to her briefly about my medical history and health. She talked about prenatal care. Then she pulled out her little black handheld Doppler.

 “Let’s take a listen.”
Dear God, No matter what, I know it’s going to be okay. I can be okay, whatever the outcome. It’s okay.

She poured the gel and pressed the Doppler to my tummy. I laid in silence, clenching my fists and straining to hear that precious sound as my own heart raced. It will be okay. Last time we never made it to this point.
She slowly navigated the Doppler around my abdomen, pausing occasionally. Nothing. Just static.

God, just help me to be okay. I’m giving it up to you. I know you’re in control.
I felt numb as she continued the search. More static. Agonizing seconds of no recognizable sounds.

“Where are you, baby?” she murmured as she listened closely.
No matter what. I’ll be okay.

And then, finally –

“There!” she said.
I was already crying, my body shaking with emotion. I let go of every sob I had held in for weeks. The tears and anxiety poured out, and the relief and hope flooded in. I covered my face with my hands and just let myself weep with joy.

Daddy came to my side and rubbed my arm gently, his eyes full of understanding.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for this blessing. Thank you for this hope.

That’s the moment I let myself start dreaming of you, the moment you became real. It’s the moment I let go and held on all at once. It’s the moment my new life began.

Hope after a miscarriage

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Costume FAIL

One Halloween night many years ago, I dressed up as a vampire. Now my frugal mom was never one to spend much money on our costumes – understandably, since they only get worn once – so my sisters and I often had homemade touches to our attire. Mom decided that since I was the “undead”, it was vitally important that my face was white. Finding a household product for such a purpose proved to be a difficult task. We didn’t have any sort of powder…Flour?...No, that wouldn’t do the trick…Ah, yes, of course…Noxzema.

costume FAILFor those of you unfamiliar with Noxzema, it’s a deep cleansing facial product that, oddly enough, contains many of the same ingredients as my beloved VapoRub. However, I most certainly do not have the same nostalgic feelings toward Noxzema as I do VapoRub, especially after this particular night.
When she applied the greasy goop, the first thing I noticed was how badly it stung my face.

“It’ll go away,” my mom assured me.
Eager to get started on the trick-or-treating, I accepted this explanation and chose to ignore the stinging sensation. We set out into the neighborhood.

The stinging did not go away.
My eyes watered and my skin burned more with each step we took. But I was determined and was not going to let some minor inconvenience like my face melting off to get in the way of my candy-collecting fun. I persevered through the pain, even though the vapors made my eyes feel like they were peering into the vortex of a steam engine.

When we returned home, I quickly removed the toxic mess from my face and happily munched on some chocolate, minimally affected by the ordeal. On the plus side, I probably had a really clear complexion for several weeks afterward.
When I recently reminded my mom about this particular incident, she was ready with the phrase that all parents must keep handy when their kids bring up these types of memories:

“You lived.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's A Zebra! I Mean...A Boy!

I’m going to wait on announcing the baby’s name until he gets here, but I will say that for some reason, Hannah can’t say it. She apparently thinks I’m giving birth to a baby zebra because when we ask her to say her brother’s name, she says excitedly, “Beebra!” I can assure you that his name sounds nothing like zebra or ‘beebra’, but who can understand the mind of a toddler?

Hopefully Baby Beebra’s sister will get the hang of his real name soon because I am 34 weeks pregnant today. Hannah was born at 38 ½ weeks. It’s amazing that I could possibly only have a month to go – or less – before this new little one gets here.
baby daredevil
I know that for the most part, raising a boy will be the same as raising a girl. All children need love, attention, guidance…the usual. But I keep hearing all these stories about wild acrobatics, broken bones, and extra trips to the emergency room. Are boys really that much more rowdy than girls?

Hannah may be a sweet, pleasant little girl, but don’t let that fool you. She’s always had a bit of a daredevil streak in her. She used to enjoy blindly running around with her skirt on her head, and she frequently attempted to play with mom-unapproved ‘toys’, such as the cheese grater.
But for some reason I have a feeling that her antics won’t even begin to compare with the stuff that the little boy comes up with. Perhaps I just know his daddy too well.
So tell me, moms with boys: Is Hannah’s assessment of her brother as a wild animal not so far off?
Should I be preparing for insanity?

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Ode to the Swing

When we were dismissed for recess during school, most of us would make a mad dash for the swings in the hopes of being the first to snag one of those coveted little contraptions. It was a rare occasion for me to actually get one, as it seemed like there was always another class that had been released early, and my heart would sink when I would round the corner and see that they were already full.

In an effort to make the swing-nabbing fairer, the teachers came up with a “brilliant” plan: If you wanted to swing, you could stand near one of the swingers and count to sixty. The swinger would then have to relinquish his spot and give you a turn.
The problem with this is sixty seconds is barely enough time to get the swing to full speed and enjoy a good ride, not to mention the poor shy kids who did not have the guts to participate in this plan. There was always the chance you’d end up choosing a little punk who’d refuse to get off once you’d counted, and I never wanted to risk having to spend my recess tracking down a teacher to tattle to.

But one glorious day I actually managed to find a free swing right at the beginning of recess. Oh, how happy I was! Those swings were BIG, and you could go HIGH. And I did. I pushed and pulled my weight until I had that thing flying so high and so fast that I thought it might break.
I was elated. I felt like I was soaring into the clouds, my little heart pumping wildly with joy. I was exhilarated by the whole awesome experience - the wind in my hair, the sun on my face, the strength in my body as I pushed myself higher and higher. I was unstoppable.

ode to the swing
“Fine! I’m telling!”
Shocked, I looked down to see an angry kid beginning to stomp off across the gravel. He had counted to sixty, and in my state of euphoria, I hadn’t even noticed. I skidded to a stop as he smugly returned.

After giving up my beloved swing, I spent the rest of recess walking around the playground, deflated and discouraged. I could have counted to get the swing back, but I likely would have had to give it up sixty seconds later anyway. And I knew that after such an abrupt disruption to my psyche, it would be impossible to get back what I’d had.

I love that I have that brief moment of bliss to look back on. It’s a shame that it couldn’t have lasted through the whole recess, but I suppose it was an important life lesson to learn. No matter how hard we try to hold on to those idyllic times in our lives, they are so, so brief, and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid the interruptions. But we’ll always have them in our hearts.
Always, always, always enjoy the ride. Because none of us ever has any idea how long it will last. And when you let someone else have his turn, go ahead and let it last the whole recess.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Autumn Musings

Well, we “got our pumpkin patch on” this weekend, and a fun time was had by all! Since the weather has been so nice, we ended up going back to the same place as last year, and hooray, this time it was much cooler! There also seemed to be a lot more going on this year – more animals at the petting zoo, a bigger hay bale maze, tire swings, and a bounce house (Hannah’s favorite!). I love making these kinds of memories.

autumn musings pumpkin patch field

picking the pumpkin with daddyAt one point I found myself watching all the other families walking around and thinking about how fortunate we all are to have the freedom to do stuff like this. Despite the economic hardships that so many of us are facing, we don’t give it a second thought that we can go on a peaceful outing with our families. It puts things in perspective when we consider what is going on in many other parts of the world, and when we consider what hardship truly means. Most of us never even worry about what the day will bring. Not that we should – especially when we know that God is in control and working all things out for good – but it was just a thought that gave me great peace. I am thankful.
I think about not taking things for granted a lot more these days. Hannah is more precious to me than anything I’ve ever known in my life. I always thought that I understood the love that a mother has for her children, but I had only scratched the surface until I had a daughter of my own. Growing up I had a sense of fierce protection for my little sisters, and a love so deep and strong that I knew I would give up my life for them and do anything to keep them safe. That’s the way it is with my babies, but on a level that I never could have imagined before.
tire swing pregnant bellyHannah is my best little friend, and it’s exciting to know that our bond is only going to grow stronger as time passes. When I look back at all we’ve experienced together as a family, I feel overwhelmed with awe-inspiring joy at the beauty of our life. And when I look forward to the future, I feel breathless with anticipation in knowing that we are only going to grow richer in love.
I pray that there are many more breathtakingly beautiful excursions in store for my family, and for all of you and yours as well.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Toddlerisms: Playin' With Doh

Hannah is at this insane stage in which she constantly repeats everything she says to the point that it drives us completely bonkers. I’ve mentioned her tenacity before, but I think it has reached its pinnacle. At least I hope it’s the pinnacle.

She’ll bring me a container of Play-Doh and say, “Open…open…open…open…open!”

“Okay, Hannah. Just tell Mommy one time. And what do you say?”
“Open peeeeeeeease.”

The phrase “one time” still hasn’t quite sunk in, and she seems to believe that she just might get lucky if she asks for enough things. She’s also figured out that it doesn’t hurt to be cute either.

“Mommy…want juice. Want juice, mommy. Want juice.”
“No more juice. You can have some water.”
She smiles sweetly. “Waaaant….cookie?”
I stifle laughter and watch her little wheels spinning as she tries to think of something I might say yes to.
“No cookie right now. We’re going to eat dinner soon.”
“No, Mommy is making dinner right now.”

So my life at this point seems to be a never-ending procession of toddler desires, coupled with some major abdomen acrobatics to remind me that more of this is on the way!
pregnant play doh mama
Thanks for the flattering sculpture, honey
And speaking of Play-Doh, Clint has discovered the art of making a snake out of it, much to Hannah’s disapproval. I told him this was not the best idea, but there is no stopping him when something is “hilarious”. And he is pretty clever with the Play-Doh.
So now whenever he gets the dough out and starts forming it into a tube shape, Hannah says, “No, Dada! No snake. Gitchoo, gitchoo!”
To his credit, Daddy always reminds her that he won’t ever let any real snakes get her. Then they make some nice animals together - like monkeys and puppies - before they happily put the dough away.

Five minutes later we hear:

Monday, October 3, 2011

October Daze

Ah, October. The month of cooler temps, leaves turning beautiful fall shades, crisp breezes, sweaters and hoodies…

Except that we don’t have any of that where we live.

Though the weather is slightly cooling down (you know, to like, 89), it’s nowhere near the brisk, invigoratingly cool air that I long for this time of year. This is the time when I miss the mid-south the most.
So when October rolls around I inevitably end up doing whatever I possibly can to achieve some sort of ‘fallness’ in my life. This past weekend I made sure we started the month off right with a trip to Oktoberfest. It was hotter outside than I would have preferred, and I couldn’t try out any German beer, but I enjoyed a corned beef sandwich and Hannah’s dancing.

Next on the list is my favorite – the pumpkin patch. I loved, loved, LOVED it last year, mainly because Hannah had so much fun and the pictures make it look more autumn-like than it actually was (notice the t-shirts and shorts).

This year we’re going to try out a different farm in a cooler town, so maybe we won’t be taking our hayride in the scorching sun. Fingers crossed.
Finally, rounding out the month is Halloween, a holiday I’ve always loved. I like the parties, fun costumes, scary movies, creepy cupcakes…all of it. I’m excited that this year Hannah might actually have a clue that something fun is going on, but I’m convinced that nothing will ever be cuter than last year’s costume.

little red riding hood costume
So there’s my plan, though what I really want to do is head to Michael’s and buy up every autumn decoration I can possibly find. I’m just going to have to resist the urge since we’ve got baby expenses to consider, and instead I’ll light up some pumpkin-scented candles, toast some pumpkin seeds, and look forward to the hubby’s annual carving creativity.
scary jack o lantern

Happy October!