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MG and Updates

First of all, I’d like to take a quick second and apologize, so to speak, for my last post.  Even don’t enjoy reading that one.  It is obvious it was written out of a place of stress.  I’m over it now.  I nearly delated it about an hour after writing it over delayed embarrassment, but then realized all of you that subscribe already have a hard copy in your inbox.  It was pointless at that moment…so….

Moving on…

Today I’m not in that place of stress anymore, I’m just feeling a bit sad for my eldest.  Eleven months ago she was struck with some kind of severe stomach bug that did a number on her body and left her with what is a hopefully temporary, but still devastating in the moment condition, called gastroparesis.  I’ve alluded to it here and there but I don’t think I ever fully wrote out my feelings on the subject because well…I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Up until mid-July of last year, MG had a completely normal and healthy relationship with food.  I, myself, have some sensitivities and so I was always careful with her and things like gluten and dairy.  It seemed like a healthy enough balance that we wouldn’t keep gluten in the house, but to allow her to have things like Cheerios in the church nursery or cupcakes at a friend’s birthday.  Yogurt and cheese were commonplace in our house but she never really took to milk, and since I don’t care for it either, I never pushed it with her.  The only thing I noticed was that if she did not have gluten for a long time and then would eat it, she would break out around her mouth.  It seemed minor enough not to warrant a change in behavior but it was something I mentally took note of.

Fast forward to late July.  Our family went on a little vacation that month and we were exposed to a stomach bug.  MG got it first, but had just a minor reaction.  A couple days passed and I thought we were through with it.  But then…she got it again.  And then one by one we each contracted it, over the course of about two weeks with MG having relapses every few days.

I took her in to see a doctor after the third day of vomiting.  She reassured me that sometimes viruses can last up to two weeks in children and possibly MG became reinfected as we were passing it around to each other.

So it was put to bed for a few days.  And then, it struck her again.  Again I called her pediatrician.  She told me not to come in but to call if she wasn’t over it in a week.

A week felt like a lifetime to watch my little frail girl suffer again.  Not to be melodramatic but this week was literally one of the worst of my life.  On the days she would be sick, we would be awoken to MG vomiting in the bathroom (she nearly always made it to the toilet and it just made me weep to think this little 3 year old already knows how to drag herself to the toilet in the darkness of the early morning without even alerting us first).  This would come around 4-5am.  Then she would lay on the floor by the bathroom and sleep for another few hours.  She would want very little to eat for the day, maybe some toast and “fizzy drink”.  She would lay in her bed and watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat (it was one of the few children’s movies we owned and we didn’t have cable.  Later we wisened up and started checking out more movies from the library).  Too tired to play, she would sleep off and on throughout the day and then fall asleep exhausted in her bed at night.

The next day she would wake up, a little off, but fine and we would grow optimistic that the terrible illness that had her in its clutches was behind us.

And then 1-2 days later she would relapse and we would start the terrible cycle over again.

At the end of the week, I called the Ped and begged her to see us again.  She seemed rather surprised to see us and a little alarmed too.  She immediately referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist and our appointment was just a few days later (I think at this point it was September).

I was very pleased when that Dr. immediately seemed to recognize the problem (we saw three other doctors over the course of that month and none of them could tell us anymore than  it was just a long-lasting virus). She diagnosed MG with “stomach-emptying syndrom” or gastroparesis and put her on a special diet.

When you have this condition, your stomach doesn’t clear food out as quickly as it does for someone in good health.  So you feel fuller more quickly, you are more prone to stomach upset and bugs, and you have to watch what you eat as high fats, high fiber, high acids, and dairy seem to set stomach aches on the mild end to vomiting and diarrhea on the more severe end.

The diet was pretty stringent and our whole family shifted to accommodate her while we adjusted to this change.  Eventually we added fiber and fat back into her diet, but in moderation or else she would get a stomach ache (still ongoing as of this month).  Dairy has been a constant issue ever since and will still set her off violently if she is exposed to it.

Unfortunately she has had two of these “violent” incidents since first meeting with that doctor back in September. The first one was because this doctor told us “processed dairy” like cheese and yogurt would be okay.  MG heard “cheese” and begged me for some for lunch (I had taken her off of it when the stomach bugs were reoccurring.  I conceded when the doctor said it was okay but we paid the price for it.)

The second time happened about a month later when I didn’t ask enough questions at a potluck and she was exposed to it again.  Both of these times brought me to my knees and after the second time especially made me strictly guard everything that went into her mouth.

We went back for a follow-up appointment in December and the Dr. seemed pleased with her progress and then dangled a little hope for us that maybe in 6 months we’d be able to reintroduce dairy, slowly.

Well here we are six months later.  MG has held onto this hope that after today she would be able to start eating cheese and yogurt again if nothing else.  It is amazing how much she picks up on as I never told her this would be a possibility nor tried to encourage it.

I’ve also been similarly pleased and a little heartbroken for her as she carefully tries to explain her “condition” to other kids.  “My doctor shut me off of dairy” she says confidently when trying to relate to other kids. Some mistake this for a sense of pride when she talks about it but I know that it is different.  There is a sense of sadness that I intone when she says this but at the same time, she is unwavering.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her cry over it was after the very last incident.  We ratcheted down on her diet again to give her stomach time to heal.  We were out of town at the time and thankfully found a Chick-fil-a to eat lunch out (fast food places are nearly impossible on this diet).  I wouldn’t let her have ketchup to dip her grilled nuggets into because it is high in acid.  She broke down in the booth.  Not in an agressive temper tantrum, but in silent tears.  This was by far one of the lowest points for me.

Fast forward to last night.  As I was getting her ready for bed I explained that she was going  back to her doctor in the morning.  She was laying on her back and she pumped her arms and legs in the air and said, “I can’t wait to be on dairy again!”.  I tried to explain that the doctor might not give her the green light yet and even if she does, we would have to take it slow.

It was too late though, the hopeful seed was already planted.

This morning we saw the doctor and she asked the usual questions.  She seemed a bit concerned that MG hasn’t put on weight since December (and she is already on the slight side).  She asked us a lot of questions about her appetite and we addressed some concerns.  At the end, I could feel MG staring at me, waiting for me to ask the question.  I did.  The response was that dairy would not be a good idea at this point and probably not until she turns 5 or 6.

I waited until the doctor left and then looked at MG.  She asked me what that meant and I explained that we would have to stay away from dairy for a little longer.  “Like how long?”  “Until you get a little bit bigger, like 5 or 6.”

Her face fell and she got really quiet.  She said, “But that’s not fair.”

She was right, and I knew it.  And I could only agree with her.

So another year we will press forward of bringing “special” dairy free snacks to Sunday school and birthday parties, and always packing lunches for dinners out.  If I’m being honest, I’m mad that this is the way things are for her.  Four year olds should be able to eat whatever they want without having to worry about stomach aches and doctor visits and having something strange about them that sets them apart from their peers.

And she knows it too.  But that little frail one is pretty resilient (and she comes by it honestly).  And so we press on.

-smk

Summer Break under the stress

Summer break officially began for us sometime last week.  But it seems these past 8 days or so have found N and I trading kid duties while we both work on our “second jobs”.  (his being doctorate, mine being Sweet Mama Makes).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a welcome relief from the pace of normal life, but I don’t think either of us are feeling very well-rested.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so frenzied is that I just launched a new line of Shorties and Bloomers  (I’d add pictures, but apparently my Internet connection will only allow me one at the moment).

Since this was my first time making them, I had to create the pattern, perfect it, make one in each size in the range, make an example in each fabric to give customers an idea of what they would like, press them, photograph them, write Etsy listings for them, and then advertise and sell them.  And finally to create them!

This has been an interested venture to say the least and not all of my handmade things have been very successful sellers, but I’m thankful for what I am learning from being my own businesswoman.  And while I don’t think SMM will be a permanent fixture in my life, I am counting all of the life lessons I’m learning.

So far in the 9 months Sweet Mama Makes has been opened,  I’ve noticed a predictable cycle…first I drive myself into a frenzy, then I get overwhelmed and swear I’m going to quit after the next round, then I take a few weeks off and enjoy it so much I say I’m never going back, then I get that itching urge to create again and then make something I want to share.  And on it continues.  I do love having an outlet that lets me express myself when the urge strikes but I also realize I’ve got to find a better way to balance my time or else I’m going to burn out quickly.

I’m just nearing the end of a frenzied period and taking some time off this week to create for myself (the girls really).  I saw this Eric Carle fabric and had to have it.  Today it turned into a pinafore for Bea.

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We’ve also been pre-gaming for an upcoming vacation (where we can’t wait to rest HARD).  This means we’ve given up refined sugar for 2 weeks (honey and maple syrup are okay). I’ve been eating a lot of desserts like “ice cream” made out of frozen bananas and “brownies” with an avocado base.  I don’t hate it…but that first vacation shave ice sure will taste good.  So will that first vacation night of sleep.

Bring it on,

smk

Summer and Kittens

Although there is not much new around here, I’ve been itching to write something this entire week.  I said at the beginning of the year that I was going to take a more spontaneous approach to the blog and it seems like the desire comes in 2-week spurts. 

One small, but exciting bit of news: we got kittens!  We’d been talking about doing this for maybe a year now. When N opened up the barn this spring to find a toss bean bag broken open with its contents strewn everywhere (dried corn), he soon discovered that mice had gotten in.  With the barn being right next to the field, it only makes sense that it would be a harbor for them.  He set traps but that’s when we started to have the serious talk about whether we should add some kitties on land patrol, if you will.  

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Plus, what is a farm without farm cats? :)

We didn’t pursue the thought too much, as it doesn’t seem like kittens are too hard to come by, especially out here in the country.  We just figured when the time was right, the right ones would come along.  Sure enough, we saw a few signs in yards that said, “free kittens” and one of them worked out.  

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These two kitties are sisters and were abandoned by their mom at three weeks (mom and dad both were strays, mom stumbled into a neighbor’s garage to have her kittens…can you imagine???). There were three girls, the third one was placed by a friend.  With these being barn kittens, we thought two would be a good number because they can watch out for each other and keep each other company.  

So far, this theory has proven true.  They sleep, eat, and play together.  It is adorable.

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Just like two human sisters I know…

And have they ever been a source of entertainment for us!  Of course, MG is obsessed with babies, so she babies these kittens and they are too little to say otherwise.  She carries them in baskets and in their arms.  N and I always sneak out to the barn after the girls are in bed to get some uninterrupted kitty time.  This has been a stressful week for both of us, but there is something about petting (two) kittens that evaporates your stress level.

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The black one is my favorite, she is quick to purr and more playful than her dainty sister.  Her hair is black but long and tipped with gray/white. She has a small diamond of white under her neck.  I’ve always loved long-haired cats so I can’t help but fawn over her looks.

The grey tabby is cautious and timid.  She does not love easily but tolerates being held for a lot longer (she will nap in MG’s arms as she is transported on many adventures).  The black one is always the aggressor in play but the tabby is the stronger eater of the two.  All this strikes me as ironic because she is the runt.  

We didn’t bring the kittens home the same day we looked at them.  We waited 24 hours to talk through all the details and buy supplies.  In that time, we also started brainstorming names.  We liked literary names, famous sister names, names that connected us to our past or present.  MG liked princess names.  

N said that MG would get to choose one and name it and since Bea was too young to name the other one that I could.  Fair enough.  He did use it as a learning opportunity for MG, saying, “names are very important.  We spent a long time thinking about your name and your sister’s name, because it is something that sticks with you your entire life.”  He told her she had to think about it and not tell us the name she chose for 24 hours.  When we picked the kittens up, she could then bestow it.

She instantly agreed to these terms and said she already had a name picked out.  It was the same name she had liked since yesterday, she said.  I, of course, assumed this meant “Snow White Rapunzel” or “atticus the girl” as she had been throwing out these suggestions all day.  But something in her confidence made me think she was hiding something a bit more clever.  

Sure enough, she chose Teacup, which was a huge surprise to us because we’d never heard her say this previously.  Apparently “Teacup” is a “disney palace pet” that belongs to Princess Belle.  So it has the Disney connection but thankfully not an unbecoming princess name.  I do think it’s an unintentional but very fitting choice for such a small, dainty little thing.  You did good, MG.  

Since we weren’t going to have a pair of say, “Scout and Boo”, “Charlotte and Fern”, or “Delta and Dixis” the naming options for the black one were blown wide open again.  I narrowed it down to a few choices, “Minnie the Mouse catcher” (I liked it because it fit our disney year), “Little Black Olive”, and “Junebug” (we picked them up on the first day of June).  But after hearing Bea say, “Bird-EE”, I was sold.  And that’s how Blackbird AKA Biridie and Teacup came to be.

As I mentioned earlier, this has been a stressful set of weeks for us.  N is wrapping up his school year and his summer break officially started yesterday.  It was a sprint to the end, especially combined with doctoral summer classes which are on more of a condensed schedule over the summer.  

I introduced a new product to SMM which meant a lot of time spent perfecting the pattern, photographing, and writing listings for it.  It was a successful launch so now I have to fulfill these orders and if that goes well, then I will probably offer it again in some new fabric choices.  I’ve already been scoping some out (fabric shopping is an addiction), but I also need to figure out what to do with the ever-growing mound of scrap fabric I have.  I have soooo many ideas of things I want to make for the girls, my shop, the house, myself.  This summer will afford me the time to pursue some of those ideas but I also don’t want to walk away from the summer feeling like I spent the whole thing working.  

Summer is typically a little slice of relief for our family.  We soak up time together and N gets to join us on our day-to-day life.  There’s always a few hiccups as we adjust to each other’s rhythms but by the end of the summer we are so enmeshed that it is painful for him to return to full-time work.  

On his first day off yesterday, he gave me the day off to tie up the ends of my launch and took to the girls to story time after making waffles and before smoking some meat for dinner.  We reconvened for dinner and ice cream and separately, but both around the same time, the girls took tumbles and needed some comforting.  They both refused my arms and went straight to Daddy.  

One day with Daddy…that’s all it took for me to be dethroned.  One day.

-SMK

Happy Birthday, Bea

Today marks the second year of life complete for our Bea.  What a great two years it has been!

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Bea was born early in the morning of May 18, 2013.    I held her with a second-time mother’s confidence and also a second-time mother’s love.  Loving her and all of the wonderful things that came with her, came easily.

Bea was an easy babe from the start.  Still to this day, it is rare for her to have an “off day”, be fussy, or to not have a toothy smile pushing up her chubby cheeks no matter what the day brings..

When she walks, she bounces, curls dancing behind her.  There are two things that strangers always comment on: her smile or her curls.  bDSC_0172 2 bDSC_0178_2

The only trial she’s given us is keeping her safe.  She is curious, a risk taker, and a mouther.  Each day that has brought us closer to the two year mark has helped me breathe little sighs of relief as she learns boundaries and we are able to communicate more effectively with each other.  Still, we have a much better ER track record with this one (0 times vs. 4 times for MG), and despite being a mouthy baby, she does stay relatively healthy.

Watching the sister relationship grow and form has always held intense interest for me.  MG has played a mothering role in Bea’s life upon meeting her and it has yet to cease.  Bea only half-heartedly accepts having another “mother” in her life.  I think it is only as of late that she enjoys MG’s company and companionship.  This is one of our most earnest prayers that their relationship will strengthen and flourish.

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One thing I have noticed lately is that whenever MG is not around, Bea is a bit lost.  She looks for her, asks about it, and doesn’t seem to know how to entertain herself when she realizes she is on her own.  Sharing a room, I think, has brought them physically, as well as emotionally closer.  They both find one another’s presence reassuring.  I do not regret that decision one bit.

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Bea is a great source of joy in our family.  She keeps me lighthearted when I am feeling off.  She shows her love with kisses and full-body hugs.  She is loud and boisterous and social, in a way I find totally intriguing.  I often catch her waving at strangers and they find her perma-smile nearly irresistible.

As I look ahead to year three, I anticipate many big changes coming down the lane….losing paci, potty-training, moving to a “big girl bed”, and joining us for the church service (rather than the nursery).  Year three is a hard year….but I do think our joyful little girl will do just fine.

Dearest Bea,

I’ll never forget the morning you joined our family.  I was waiting for you with big hopes.  I had spent many days hoping for you and many more hoping for your arrival.  I hoped you would be many things: a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  

In your two years of life, you have been a delight to our hearts.  You took all of my hopes, embodied them, and then completely surpassed them.   I can’t imagine there was ever an easier baby born.  Your sister has taken great joy in you and that has brought great joy to me.  You have brought something to our family that only a last-born child can bring…a sense of wholeness. 

Your personality is one that will be envied by many.  You are nearly unaffected by your surroundings, but are happy and content no matter the circumstances.  You are engaging and kind to strangers, welcoming to your friends and family.  I never worry about leaving you with others because I know you will just be yourself the entire time I’m away.  

Your personality, and the many people that love you, will help carry you through this big year full of changes. You are eager for some of the change, I can already tell.  Having a big Sis to look up to definitely gives you some hopes to aspire to.  But you get to do them your own “Bea way”.  That is the fun part about being the youngest.

I cannot imagine our family without you, though only two years ago, that’s where we were.  In my heart, I always knew there was something missing and you came along and filled that hole right up.  

I love you so very much,

sweet mama k

also, a video

Updates

The well has run dry.  I’ve been searching for my creative vein lately and all I can find is unsatisfying dust.  It seems as though I can only tap into this creative source so much before it blows and then I must search for a new avenue to draw from again.

A dear friend encouraged me to write again today…and well here I am, plopping away at the keys, not sure what’s going to come out, exactly.  But writing is a discipline and I don’t intend to ever let it go completely.

It’s 8:07pm and I am typing this on my favorite spot on the couch, feet propped up.  I had to perform tricks and jump through fiery hoops to get an internet connection.  I am typing to the hum of the massive tractor that is tilling our fields and which I find rhythmic and  comforting.

It has been a long evening, one in which I’m parenting by myself; and though the girls have been saints, it is still exhausting.  I’m praying they will need little from me in this next hour so I can use some reserves on this post.

Being a year into this house, I suppose it’s time for some updates.  But I can’t promise any pictures, not tonight at least.  So words, for now.

Since my last update, we have actually finished a few rooms.   The entryway and library are both complete.  That is a very settling feeling as it it is the first thing we see when we walk in the door.  With the addition of some new artwork and exposed pipe shelves, the living room is complete as well.  I’m sure I will still layer in a few pieces here and there but that is the fun part; filling a space with the things that make you happy.

The kitchen is our main push this month.  We’ve been fridge shopping, purchased subway tile & hardware, added a new light fixture, and N is building some new upper cabinets.  I promise pictures when it is complete.

We’re going to skip the laundry room for now, as it hasn’t been touched, nor does it feel like a priority.  Maybe not even a 2015 priority.

Going up the stairs, the stair runner is down, a gallery wall lines the steps, and there is a nice little vignette at the top.  All that is left to hang is a large family picture.  After the kitchen is complete, we will shift our attention to this hallway and add new flooring and light fixtures.  That should be easy to get to this summer.

Finally, we have the bedrooms.  All three need a little TLC, some paint in one, and some decor.  We did something we’ve been talking about for nearly 9 years and purchased a king size bed.  We moved our queen to the guest room, but both beds still lack a character giving headboard.

When those are complete, all that’s left is the bathrooms.  Both could use a partial, if not complete makeover.  We’ve had a few contractors over to  give us bids.  We’ve only received one bid and it was astronomical.  Even if we did scrape together the money to do it, we would probably never recoup it in a resale….so for now, we will probably stick to things we can DIY ourselves…new floors, shower curtains, countertops, and paint.  Our ultimate hope is that by the end of this calendar year we will be 95% done with house projects and can finally feel at rest in our schoolhouse.

Bea’s birthday is in just 4 days.  My parents gifted her a Jungle gym which seems perfect for our adventurous climber.  My dad and N stayed up late putting it together last night and it matches perfectly with our playset. I’m excited to add to this a sandbox for her birthday.  Every schoolhouse needs a play ground, no?

I’m intentionally slowing down on SMM.  Not as in taking less orders, but just purposing my time so it doesn’t consume me.  I never imagined it would take so much of my time, but it takes as much as I give it.  I’ve started giving myself my evenings back to work on fun things or relax and it has made a world of difference in my stress level.  When N has a few days a week off this summer, I plan to ramp up my output a bit more.  I have some ideas of new products to add, I just temporarily burned out the creative flame to pursue them.

Speaking of summer, I am mentally there, though not yet physically.  The weather has greatly improved my mood and all winter coats, gloves, and scarves, have been packed away.  This is the time of year where we start making our summer plans.  This gives us the final push to make it through the last trying weeks but also helps us not to waste our summer days away and forget about the memories we want to create as a family.

Our saintly neighbor tilled up our vegetable garden today.  Our seeds and seedling will go in the ground in between the promised rain storms this weekend.  I’m setting low expectations for our output this year.  I’m just hopeful that it is enjoyable.  That will be enough for this year.

I’m reading a book right now that I don’t really like but that everyone raves about the ending.  I’m only reading it to see how it ends.  Sometimes a good ending is enough to turn my opinion 180 degrees.  Does that make me fickle?

-smk

 

Queen Bea

bDSC_0176_2Right now I’m sitting in our upstairs landing, typing this.  It’s the same chair that I used to nurse and rock her to sleep in, every night. I have to chuckle because at this stage, it’s hard to even imagine her sitting on my lap for any length of time.

In just three weeks, she will officially turn 2.

bDSC_0177_2It’s hard to believe it but in 2015, our house will be free of diapers and pacis, maybe even cribs (not for good, hopefully, but for now).

The memories of newborn Bea seems hazy and a little golden.  A very sweet time in my life, full of God’s promises and feeling particularly close to Him.  And two moves later, it is getting harder and harder to remember specific memories, just feelings.

bDSC_0172_2In the last two-three months, I’ve noticed some big changes in Bea.  She is starting to become a more fluid talker, adding in a few new words each day.  And MAJOR–she now calls me “Mommy” (we skipped right over “Mama”!). I don’t know why it takes my girls so long to address me (MG was closer to 20 months, Bea 22), but it never fails to feel completely wonderful and validating when it does come.

Her talking at first came on her own terms.  Now she is starting to repeat words after us, if we ask.  Also answering questions like, “how old are you?” and “what do you want to sleep with?” (“puppy”) are the new norm.

Our relationship has grown by leaps and bounds now that we can communicate.  It is so lovely to have two little beings that can retrieve items and follow simple commands.  I feel like I am heaving a big sigh of relief after the past year of being completely necessary for every waking minute.

bDSC_0175Now that the weather has turned, we’ve been stretching our winter-atrophied muscles outside as much as much as possible.  That experience is also night and day different than last year.  She plays, rather than wandering around.  She stays near by, rather than wandering around.  And if she does take a notion to wander, she gauges me first to see if she is within bounds.  What a huge difference this makes!

One thing that hasn’t changed…she is still just as yummy as she has always been.  Her full cheeks are nearly edible, her skin is just so soft, and she really cares for physical affection in a way that MG doesn’t.

Something that still blows my mind is comparing the two girls and where they are, developmentally, right now.  MG is picking up extensive vocabulary at a rapid pace, following along in the rabbit trails of our “adult” conversation, and learning new concepts everyday.  To think she has really only been talking since she was Bea’s age–two and a half years ago–that is amazing.  Double Bea’s age and she will be there very soon too.  Oh how they grow, Mamas.  This is nothing to sneer about.

XO-smk

Woffrakeleys do Disney

(started this draft a few weeks ago, finished it today :))

Just returned from another dreamy spring break in sunny CA.

The girls and I left a few days early and looks like we narrowly escaped the return of winter back home.  Snow, wind, and below freezing temps always like to make one final appearance in March (sometimes even April :-o) and I’m hopeful that this is IT.

Meanwhile, the weather out there was 70’s and sunny every-single-day.  It lifted my spirits and gave me the energy that the first day of spring always brings.  Mmm…the smell of sunscreen alone is enough to give me a Spring contact high.

We spent our days (pre-Daddy) hanging out with Granny and Grampy.  Thanks to our extended stay last winter, we have a little routine worked out that we seem to ease right into.  We hit up some of our favorite spots and added some new ones with the girls in the morning.  The afternoons were for rest and decompression, the evenings spent chatting around the table and walking the dog.  Baths, reading, and bed to follow.

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The girls made me so proud on the plane ride(s) out there.  Being by myself, I always feel a little vulnerable; but thankfully this wasn’t the first time doing it so I knew what to expect.  Last time we flew in the late afternoon and got in way past bedtime.  This time we flew early, early in the morning and landed at 10:30am, CA time.  The morning travels seemed to go a little more smoothly, in my opinion, and even though the girls didn’t nap (Bea started nodding off at the descent of each flight), they seemed to enjoy the trip as they knew what to expect.  (Jamba juice and silly putty being at the top of the list).  Also, I brought our cracked iPad on a whim and let Bea do her damage on it (the only app she will play is Peek-a-boo pets but she will spend about 20 minutes rearranging apps and pictures before becoming tired of it).  That seemed to help a bit too.

Daddy joined us on Saturday, as did Mary and Joel the day before.

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We had four short days to cram in our favorite restaurants, games, and even a little pool time, before jetting off to Orange County.

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We were up at 3:40am to fly (cheap flights & only an hour versus a 6+ hour drive) and we were in the park doing activities by 9:15am.

I was expecting a huge crowd with long waits due to spring break, but I couldn’t believe how much we were able to do and see in our 48 hours there.  MG wore her new Aurora gown both days and we saw nearly all the princesses and rode all of the kiddie rides.  Day two we did Toon Town (Mickey and Minnie’s houses were extra fun) and California Adventure (Frozen Fun,meeting Elsa & Anna).

We stayed out late each night and the lack of sleep/naps barely slowed us down.  We were running on adrenaline and Dole whips.  The girls really hung in there.  Both cat napped in the stroller and on Granny’s lap the first day.  We went back to the room to nap on the second day but it wasn’t enough time for MG to nap and she fell asleep on the 9:15 bus ride home, waking up only to change out of her dress-up and secure the well-being of her new Rapunzel doll.

Of course no memory making trip is complete without a video, courtesy of yours truly.  Enjoy

One Mile

I wake up rather blearily at 6:30am.  It comes after another late night of creating but those are my favorite ones to burn the candle for.

I lay in bed a little while, savoring the warmth while it lasts….read a few words in Leviticus and try to make sense of them in my foggy state, check my email on my phone….and ….I hear the unmistakeable padding of footsteps approaching my bed.

My first little wide-eyed thing joins me in bed to tell me about her dreams and that she’s hungry, really hungry, for breakfast.  And we barely make it through plans of pancakes before we hear Bea shouting to us.  She sounds angry that she’s the last one up today.

I glance at the clock, trying not to be too disappointed that my best laid plans of beating them out of bed didn’t work today.

Still smelling of sleep and popped dreams, we make our way downstairs and to the breakfast table.  MG wants dry toast (still recovering from a stomach bug), Bea wants peanut butter toast and a clementine.  I make her an egg but she won’t touch it.

Breakfast doesn’t last long, but emptying and refilling the dishwasher, starting a load of diapers in the wash, wiping down the counter and table, prepping chicken for dinner in the crockpot, and sweeping the floor always seems to exact no small fortune of time from our day.

I mentally go through my plans and feel a small wave of anxiety.  It’s Wednesday, house cleaning day.  Which means we don’t have any agenda to leave the house and it also means I have two main objectives to accomplish with the girls underfoot: cleaning and exercise.

Cleaning for me always begins in the heart of the home, the kitchen.  All is right in my world, it seems, if my kitchen is clean.  I gather my supplies and begin to scrub; I beg the girls to find something to engage in.

MG is easy.  She has planted herself at the bar and wants to play with “soft sand” (kinetic sand) .  I take a break from the sink to gather some kitchen utensils for her to make the play time more fun.  Meanwhile, Bea has dragged over a chair and is begging to join in.

MG doles out a small portion of sand  for her along with a few unwanted utensils to play with.  I make the most of these 8 minutes to wipe down the stove.

“Mommy, Bea’s eating the sand!”  I wash my hands, wipe out Bea’s mouth, wash out Bea’s mouth, wash my hands.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Bea continues to return to the scene of her crime, undeterred by the grittiness in her mouth and the disapproving warnings of her mother and sister.

This last time requires yet another hand washing and I feel the pain shoot through my fingertips as I subject them to the steaming water, lye soap, and a rough cotton towel.  They crack and bleed, tiny red rivulets in protest to their harsh environment.  Soft, feminine, pretty hands have been sacrificed to winter and making and child-raising.

I put my foot down and send Bea away from the counter.

“Mommy, is it time to watch a show yet?”

“Nope, not until I do my exercise. You’ll need to find something to play with until then.”

But I don’t know what to do.  

I suggest 3-5 things.  All are met, predictably with negative responses.

“Okay, well I just have to clean the bathroom, vacuum & mop the floors, and clean upstairs and THEN it will be time to watch your show.  I’m sure you can find something to do until then”

I resume my work, but it seems mere seconds before I hear, “Mommy, Bea’s coloring on herself.”

Which is followed by, “Mommy, Bea’s got the scissors.”

&

“Mommy, Bea is eating play-doh”.

How silly I am. Where do I get off thinking that a 22 month old would need anything less than constant supervision?  With little time to reconsider, I shimmy her up to the table, open a yellow can of doh and buy myself just a few more seconds.  I realize it will mean another pass of the vacuum, another wipe of the table, and perhaps even a few pieces “disappearing”, but in that moment,  it’s an exchange I’m willing to take.

Finally the main floor is clean and I move on to the second floor, brigade in tow.  MG has joined me in the fun and is “dusting” directly underneath my feet.  While we focus our efforts on the master bedroom, Bea opens MG’s sock drawer and pulls apart every single pair and then throws them around the room.

As MG and I are piecing this misfortune back together, Bea uses to her arms to counterbalance her bodyweight and slides herself triumphantly onto the bathroom counter.   Pleased with herself, she climbs into the bathroom sink and turns the water on, all over herself.  From this perch, she opens a clear plastic tube of tiny hair elastics using her teeth and exuberantly pours them out, raining them victoriously all over the floor.  When the shower stops, she examines the tube carefully to see that a few dozen still remain in the container, globbed together at the bottom.  She forcefully gives it another shake, emptying it this time, to her satisfaction.

Finally it is time to vacuum, which is the final step in the cleaning process, and I feel the tension hinging on this last item.  MG is about to break with the anticipation of her show.  Bea is crumbling under the pressure of having to entertain herself.  I am just dragging myself to the finish line in the hopes  that this will ever be done.

As I’m vacumming our bedroom, I glance down and see a stray Color Wonder marker peeking out from underneath our bed.  I briefly consider assuming the posture of the three other bodies who live here and passing it by unaware.  But then I realize with a sinking feeling that I am the mom now and being the mom means that no one else is going to come behind you and clean up the things that you don’t want to.

In duty only, I pick up the marker and put it in my pocket with a mental note to return it to its rightful home.  “If not me, then whom?” I think.   And that question takes me down a really short and winding trail that reminds me of how exponentially weighty my role in this family is.

At last I wind up the vacuum cord and alert MG that I am finally done cleaning. At the sound of my voice, Bea comes bounding towards us, suspiciously covered in Tinkerbell stickers.

It’s 11am and I glance down at my Fitbit…and I realize…you have now walked a mile in my shoes.

-smk

 

 

Updates

Bea is quickly catching up in size to MG.  They are now sharing some of the same clothes.  Today MG took Bea upstairs, changed her diaper, and dressed her in one of her Aurora nightgowns.  It was a little loose and saggy on her, but precious none the less.

Every meal is a battle with MG. “how much more do I have to eat?  I don’t really like that.  I just want noodles with no sauce.”  Bea multitasks with her spoon and fingers; stuffing gobs of runny food into her mouth with abandon.  And then firmly but politely asks, “more? more? more?”.

The girls are still sharing a room at night.  MG claims she can’t fall asleep without “telling stories” first.  The only person who is privy to these tales is Bea….but she usually falls asleep before the ending.  Every once in a while we will walk by and catch a snatch of monologue.  Stella is a brand new baby.   Isn’t she sweet? Princess Aurora gets sick a lot and has to sleep with a bucket.  Prince Phillip is coming to rescue us but we have to be quiet so Maleficent doesn’t hear us.  There are songs, there are villains, a lot of princesses and babies, but they always end well.

They say that children make sense of their world by processing them through story.  And I guess in many ways, that still makes me a child at heart.

-smk

Vignettes

Today was a work-out center day.  Which means that instead of waking up at 6:30am to run before the girls were awake,  I didn’t get up until 7am. And we all go to the work-out center together where I will run, shower, and get dressed by myself, or something humanizing like that.

It was also Tuesday which means that the pool is open and I try to take the girls there after my workout is done once a week as a sort of bribery/good job you survived the childwatch program today.

Tuesdays are slower days and usually it’s just us and a collection of our gray-haired friends there.   How they cluck over MG & Bea.  “They are just so sweet.”  “I look forward to seeing them here.” “They look like they could be twins!” <–this one always baffles me, but I smile with pride anyway and use one  of my saved up responses like, “well people say that about their daddy and me.”

We go to the locker room first to hang up coats and drop our bags.  One of our special friends is in there.  She has her cellphone on her this time and shows us pictures of her granddaughters who are the same ages as these sisters.  She talks to the girls like one of the good grandmas..getting down on their level and asking them pertinent questions, about Disney princesses and the like.  She’s one of our favorites.

The girls walk confidently into the kidzone.  No hiding behind my legs and barely even a goodbye.  They know the place (and its toys well). The older of the two teacher exclaims, “hi girls!”  and puts matching clips in their hair while I’m away.  I like her too.

I run on the indoor track.  I developed a fear of treadmills when I started experiencing lightheadedness during runs.  The fear of fainting is gone, but I haven’t been on a treadmill since.

I run long enough to block out the noisy basketball players and sink deep into my thoughts.  I pray over a few key things on my radar and let excitement wash over me as I think about some future endeavors.

Just as I’m starting to sweat and become out of breath, my time is up.  I go to the fitness center to lift some weights. Today is arm day.

I try out a machine I’ve never used before and realize that I still have the extremely self-centered middle school phobia that everyone in the room is watching me.  I fumble through it and figuratively pat myself on the back for doing it anyway.  A quick glance around the room tells me there might have only been maybe one person watching me.  I think they were trying to figure out the machine too.

It’s been an hour since I dropped the girls off and it’s time for me to shower.  The locker room is filled with old ladies in swimsuits and in various states of undress.  There is something about being old, and nearly nude and vulnerable that brings out the sisterhood of friendship.  One woman who I swear is 80 was offered an extra towel by one of the staff (and they are s-t-i-n-g-y about extra towels).  I witness another pair help each other out when one’s shirt becomes stuck behind her neck.  It reminds me of my little ones.

As I’m wrestling with my combination lock (which always brings a bout of anxiety, thank you middle school gym class), I see in my peripheral vision, a lady round the corner, stop, and walk back by me.  She opens her mouth and I assume she is going to ask me a question about a class or directions to the gym.  She says instead, “I’m just wondering where you get water shoes.”  She’s looking at me, but then she’s looking past me and I too turn to look, now involved, by proxy, in this conversation. Another gray lady, decked out in polka-dotted swimwear, is reaching into her locker and answers, “Oh anywhere.  Kmart, Meijers, Walmart”.  I know she is a state native because she pluralizes Meijer.

After the inquisitor exits, she confides in me that her water shoes are really old and she doesn’t remember where she bought them.  I realize that when she says really old,  she means they could be really old.  Like older than me old.

I make my way down to pick the girls up from their designated room.  MG is sitting at a table, playing with a princess castle (surprisingly not in front of the tv).  Bea is in a box of blocks. The older teacher says, “why do you have to pick up the good kids?”  I smile and say, “were they good?”  “Oh they are always good.  This one (pointing to MG) is the quiet one and this one (pointing to Bea) is the busy one.”  Yes, that is my observation at home as well.

MG has a forlorn look on her face as I approach.  “They turned Sofia on.  I tried not to watch but I just kept looking.” (we had asked her not to watch this show at home because it has some things that have negatively influenced her).  I am proud of her effort and can’t help but smile at her honesty.  She can’t let it go, “I just kept looking.  I tried really hard but I was interested in what Sofia was doing.”

“How was your hang-out?” she asks.

We head back to the locker room (third time if you’re counting), this time to put on swimsuits.  An elderly friend approaches the girls as we are about to walk out and says hello.  Bea walks to her with arms outstretched in a hug invitation.  The friend can’t resist.  Not many people can.  “I bet she would go to anyone”. she says approvingly.  MG has to be coached to say “hi” to people.  When she does, the word sounds like “hi” but the tone sounds like “goodbye”.  It doesn’t matter, Bea has smoothed things over.

The girls hold my hands as we walk by the pool.  There is a water aerobics class in session and Bea waves unabashedly as we walk by.  There are audible coos and awe over the girls.  We are the only ones under 50.

We stay and play until our stomachs and beds beckon us home.

I counted on three separate occasions, “you are such a good mom” spoken to me today.  How could you not love this place?  Good for your body and heart.

-smk

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