Month: January 2012

Let it be known

That on this day in January, 2012, 
Windows were opened,
Walks and runs were taken {without 1441287 layers}

Spirits were lifted.

And the entire household sighed.

Yard sales however, were not being had.

Closets were not being cleaned out.

Ducks were not being fed.

And that hour of sleep has, most assuredly, not been lost.

So it’s not spring yet.

 

 
But until then, we’ll take it.
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Fourteen

Careful steps. New teeth. New words .  Squeals of delight > “I’m gonna get you!!”.  Giving her a g i g a n t i c head start.  Needing lots of kisses and hugs > I fell down/bumped my head/closed my hand in the dishwasher.  Obessssssssssessed with drawers.  Giddy at the sight of her toothbrush .  Blowing kisses.  Pulling Johnny’s picture off the fridge <“hi!  Hi, dog!“>.  Time to get a dog??  Reading to herself.  Patting the pages of the book.  Stroking the lamb’s thick, wooly coat .  Patting chest.  Loving peanut butter and cheese and water.  Not loving milk.  *Index finger out, gently lower, push the button.  Look of delight.  I made it do that! Repeat.* Dinnertime conversations only understood by 14 month olds “Gwa halla ma moo DOG me mamama gwar gwar dog”.  Carrying objects from room to room.  Hiding them in new places.  Pointing to baby and blankie after a nap  .  Wanting to snuggle with mama, baby, and blankie after a nap.  Mama > yummy. Pointing to Atticus, “DOG!”.  Mommy, “cat!”  MG, “DAT!”.  Just past double her birth weight.  Still.  Wearing size 3 diapers.  Still.  Strangers, “Oh, she’s so…petite!”  “I don’t know how she can walk on feet that tiny.”  Frankly, I don’t either.  Reaching out for Mama/Daddy/Grandma/Papa/Granny/Gramps > pick me up now, oh pretty pleeeeease?!  Swimming lessons. Letting messes be made so that other ones can be cleaned up.  Sleeping 12 hours at night.  Napping once or twice. First “pigtails” > two person job.  Our sensitive girl = dissolves into tears at a shake of the finger, “no”, or a stern look.  Sometimes it’s really hard not to laugh.  Sweetness.  Delight.  Careful steps.

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Birthday Recap {part 2}

Although I loved the timing of the pregnancy and the time of year I gave birth, I hated that MG’s birthday fell between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I mean, isn’t there already enough to look forward to during that time?  But in honor of first birthday code, we decorated the house and planned a big bash, the likes of which will never be seen around here until….oh maybe year 13?

Traditionally, we decorate our house for Christmas the night of Thanksgiving.  It took some convincing, but Daddy agreed that this year instead of decorating for Christmas, we would decorate for the party to be held the following weekend.  He did, however, still get his Christmas music.  C’est la vie! (oh and the Christmas decorations did eventually go up, post-party)

Birthday party stats:

  • Number of guests: 42
  • Number of out-of-town guests who came in for the big day: 4
  • Number of cakes: 2
  • Number of unrequested presents: an unbelievably generous amount
  • Number of minutes spent on Pinterest combing for ideas: 91984150650
  • Number of minutes spent making those stupid, stupid tissue paper poms: 127481579

  • Number of minutes MG stayed dressed for the party: 45
  • Number of anti-climatic minutes spent watching her ever-so-gently not smash the cake: 16
  • Number of minutes I was able to squeeze hours of footage into for a first birthday montage video: 12.15
  • Number of pounds of brisket left over from the party: 15.  Yes, that’s right 15 pounds.
  • Number of mac n cheese 12-serving foil pans still in our freezer: 3
  • Number of Mommy freak-out moments that we didn’t have enough food: 3 (good thing I called and upped the pounds of beef 😉 )
  • Number of birthday meltdowns: none?  (well, not including the pitiful slumped-shoulders-post-party bathtub cry.  I mean, it was her party afterall.

And that, my friends, is what I call a pretty successful first birthday bash.
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Birthday Recap {part 1}

First birthdays are something to be celebrated.  After a year of completely overhauling life as you know it and centering your life around the complete care of a helpless creature; the entire family encircles you to recognize the great achievement in surpassing year one.   Some may say (and many did say this to me), “You think this is hard?  Guess what, it only gets harder .  ”  These are the same people who like to inform you while you are mid-bite of a chicken sandwich “did you know that 90% of chicken you buy today is contaminated with asbestos?” or while you’re jogging along the side of the road, “you know the chances of you ruining your knees far outweighs the chance that you will one day dieee of a heart-attack.”  Party Poopers.
I am still new and quite helpless to this parenting thing, but I disagree.  I don’t think it does get harder.  Maybe emotionally harder as you watch your kids get hurt.  Or spiritually harder as you watch your kids rebel.  But physically?  I dare you to find anyone who is more sore, frazzled, or tired than a new parent.  You’ve just spent a year learning how to survive.  Survive on little sleep, on achey backs and arms, on emotions so full they can’t possibly be taxed any more without danger of bursting.  And that is hard.  So hard.   But so.worth.it.
And then suddenly you find yourself at the end of year one.  And maybe by then your baby has learned to sleep through (most) nights and self-soothe and sit, and play, and babble, and crawl, and maybe even walk.  And you think back through all that you (three) have accomplished that year and suddenly birthdays aren’t just “oh hey, I’m another year older, but I don’t feel any different-weird.  Let’s have some cake.  Oh presents?  Fun.”  They are victories. Huge, g i g a n t i c victories.

 

On MG’s actual birthday,  the day began, as usual, around 8:30am.  She was standing up in her crib grinning at me as I greeted her with a morning-voice rendition of “Happy Birthday to You”   (let’s just say that video will never see the light of day)  She smiled, and more appropriately giggled, as I finished the song (which as you begin to solo sing this, you realize for the sake of everyone’s comfortability level is about 1 minute too long)  I knew then that this would be an ordinary day, but not without little touches of magic sprinkled throughout.  It did not disappoint.  A mid-morning text from Daddy. “Happy Birthday, MG!  So proud of what you did last year.  Best thing you ever gave me….My family.  Love ya girl.”  At lunch, birthday cards floated in from the mail. Unexpected ones brought tears to my eyes.  (“they care about this day being special just like I do”)  Daddy came home with a few homemade gifts from MG’s ‘entourage’ at his work.  For dinner, Papa and Grandma took us out to our restaurant of choice {a local Cajun eatery}.

MG devoured most of my chicken-cheese etouffee and garlic bread, but I still managed to sneak in a few bites as the grandparents distracted and entertained her.  She was in the most loving and delightful mood. Maybe she sensed it was a special day.  After dinner, we ate orange cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting.  Her first intentional introduction to sugar.

She approved.

After dinner, she was (i.e. we were) spoiled with gifts from the Grandparents.

And as we drove our babbling girl home in the car, we exchanged looks.  We both felt this aura surrounding the day.    It  felt as though God had given us an extra gift that day:  a sweet little baby girl who was joyful and mellow, who clapped and shrieked at the appropriate times, and who kissed her grandparents without prompting.  Sure, it still would have been special had my little drama queen been present, but instead we had one of those surreal days:  Where you glimpse into the future.  Where you step back in the moment and are overwhelmed with how beautiful this scene is.   Where you don’t hardly want to breathe on it for fear of contaminating it.  This day was quite better than we ever, EVER could have possibly imagined.

So here’s to year two–may it be as ever magical and wonderful (with many, many more nights of sleep) than year one!

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On Death

“Some morning, I pray, I’ll have the good happiness of ‘the man who woke up dead,’ who Burley Coulter used to tell about.”  -Wendell Berry, Hannah Coulter

Sometimes you get fixated on a thought and it keeps swirling and swirling around in your head until you finally hammer it out on “paper”. Today is just one of those days.
Death is scary.  As much as we try and control our lifestyle by watching what we eat, exercising, and taking our vitamins, we ultimately have no say in the time or manner that we are to die.  We hope it’s without pain and regret.  We hope we will first enjoy all of life’s pleasures.  We hope that it comes at a time when we long for it sweetly; fully knowing it comes with some suffering but great joy, much like the birth of a child.
Death is even scarier as a Mama.
I think about Daddy’s grandma who we lost about this time last year.  Her death came with much striving as she had suffered a debilitating stroke 9 months before.  We mourned the loss of her life long before we mourned her death.  Her absence at Christmas was more profound the year she was alive than the year she was gone.  After she left us, we mourned and rejoiced.  We rejoiced for her to leave behind her broken body and become fully new in Heaven.  We mourned for those she left behind and for the way they would now muster up their life and start over, without her in it.

“And so I learned about grief, and about the absence and emptiness that for a long time makes grief unforgettable.”  Wendall Berry, Hannah Coulter

 And so, I think about my life before MG.  Of course I was afraid of the pain of death, that’s part of being human.  And I knew there would be people here on earth who would miss me.  But they would cope; and remember me in little stories and remind themselves that I was in a better place.  N would miss me the most, but he too would eventually put me behind him and move on.  And I was okay with that.  I still exercised, ate carefully, drove cautiously, but I lived with a sort of reckless freedom.  God was in control of my life, not I.
   But now, now I am invested.  And while her life is no longer completely sustained by me, I worry about my daughter.  There is still so much I have left to teach her and learn about her and experience with her.  I worry that if I leave her now that she will never understand how much I love her.  {And so I overcompensate by taking tons of pictures, sentimental videos, and writing sappy letters to her.}  I worry that whoever would be left the task of raising her would leave out the grand experiences I have planned and the lifestyle I have chosen for her.  I worry that they would not be able to love her as much as I do because they did not carry her in their body, or cry over her beauty when they first met her, or wake up in the middle of the night to pour their life into her.

    To think about losing her is a thought that is buried deep in my heart that I can’t even access right now.  It aches too much.
    And Daddy?  Don’t even get me started on him.  I’ve never needed a man like I need him now.  For us to lose him seems incomprehensibly atrocious.  It would be easy to find someone to love us again.  Easy to find someone to replace his income and replicate our standard of living.  But it would be impossible to replace him.
    Sometimes when I lay awake at night and have access to all of my fears, I try to control them by coming up with survival plans.  I think about if we lost him how we would have MG’s grandpas walk her down the aisle and I’d have her uncle teach her how to change a flat tire.  But you know what I can’t seem to get past?  Who’s going to take her to “Daddy’s Beauty Shop” and sing the “Beauty Shop song”?  Even I don’t know the lyrics to that.  And I have figured out what I am most afraid of: that he will be missing, not in the big milestone moments, but the tiny daily ones.  We are invested, he and I, in this parenting thing.  And there is no one on earth who will love and raise our daughter with me like he will. 
     And that’s why I only let my mind go there in the dark of the night or the early morning;when I have nothing else to distract me.  Because I can’t come up with a good plan for the future without them in it.  And today I am stuck there.
       But then I am reminded of this quote.   

 “Cowards die many times before their deaths;  The Valiant never taste of death but once.  Of all the wonders that I have yet heard, It seems most strange that men should fear; seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.”  Julius Caesar

    I am not in control.  Of life or death.   Gone are the days of reckless freedom, but instead of replacing them with continuous worry, I can replace them with prayer. And you better believe I pray and pray a lot for the life and well-being of my baby, my husband, and myself.  Daily, nightly, any time the nagging worry and anxiety that seems to plague me as a new mom come into mind…I pray it away.   Because there is nothing that I can do to change the future that is assigned to me and I am not going to let that worry steal my joie de vivre.  Not today.
   
Thanks for allowing me to wax a little poetic today.  XoXo, 
   

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Sickies

We’ve had snow around these parts lately. I can’t complain too much because our winter has been mild and Oh so nice.  Running outside, with a babyin January?  check.  

One thing that hasn’t been so nice to us is our immune systems.  I think getting pregnant with MG took my immune system and completely knocked it out.  I mean, after teaching for 4 years, I had the sick tolerance of an ox.  I hadn’t thrown up in, oh say, a decade.  (and that in itself was one isolated incidence). I hadn’t had a cold since I could remember.  The flu shot?  Never have gotten it, never have needed it.  Well, ever since the moment I got those two pink lines on a stick, all immunity was thrown to the wind.  And now I am slowly, but surely, rebuilding.  Colds and sinus infections, GI bug–thrice, and now…oh yes…the flu.  
 I have to admit, I used to be prideful about the flu.  I mean, “isn’t it just like a really bad cold?”  Oh how those words haunted me on my death bed last night.  Shivering with a fever and achey all over, and with stomach cramps and GI bug on top of it…I’m sick, y’all.  Thankfully, the version MG got seems to be only located in her continuously draining nose and eyes…and she is in a lot better spirits than I.  
 Daddy is just fine, thank you very much…Is playing nursemaid to his two sick girls, and is living to tell about it.  
{sidenote: there’s nothing like falling in love with your husband all over again over the way he brings you ice water in bed, with a straw.  it’s almost worth being sick over.}
 And while laying on my sickbed, I have had a lot of time to think about how I really feel about being sick:

  • They say that Mom’s don’t get sick days.  Well guess what…when your hubby has 49.5 sick days to spare and a heart of gold, you do.
  • I guess I am kind of glad that the doctor guilted/forced me into the flu shot for MG…against my better judgment
  • It’s nice to be able to kiss your baby because you’re both sick and you don’t have to worry about passing it on and {see previous}
  • I hate missing out on events.  Swim class, Girls Night Out, Small group fun night, etc, etc.  Each one feels like an immense loss.  But I am thankful for the reminder that our life is busy and plentiful…in a good way.
  • I’m really, really glad we chose this month to activate our free month of Netflix.  We’ve used 3/4 email addresses so far, so we have to activate sparingly.  A few hours with the Sister Wives later, and I’m pretty sure that our decision was a good one.

  All that is to say, “Take that, immune system”. And I’ll see you, flu, in another decade or so.

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Sickies

We’ve had snow around these parts lately. I can’t complain too much because our winter has been mild and Oh so nice.  Running outside, with a babyin January?  check.  

One thing that hasn’t been so nice to us is our immune systems.  I think getting pregnant with MG took my immune system and completely knocked it out.  I mean, after teaching for 4 years, I had the sick tolerance of an ox.  I hadn’t thrown up in, oh say, a decade.  (and that in itself was one isolated incidence). I hadn’t had a cold since I could remember.  The flu shot?  Never have gotten it, never have needed it.  Well, ever since the moment I got those two pink lines on a stick, all immunity was thrown to the wind.  And now I am slowly, but surely, rebuilding.  Colds and sinus infections, GI bug–thrice, and now…oh yes…the flu.  
 I have to admit, I used to be prideful about the flu.  I mean, “isn’t it just like a really bad cold?”  Oh how those words haunted me on my death bed last night.  Shivering with a fever and achey all over, and with stomach cramps and GI bug on top of it…I’m sick, y’all.  Thankfully, the version MG got seems to be only located in her continuously draining nose and eyes…and she is in a lot better spirits than I.  
 Daddy is just fine, thank you very much…Is playing nursemaid to his two sick girls, and is living to tell about it.  
{sidenote: there’s nothing like falling in love with your husband all over again over the way he brings you ice water in bed, with a straw.  it’s almost worth being sick over.}
 And while laying on my sickbed, I have had a lot of time to think about how I really feel about being sick:

  • They say that Mom’s don’t get sick days.  Well guess what…when your hubby has 49.5 sick days to spare and a heart of gold, you do.
  • I guess I am kind of glad that the doctor guilted/forced me into the flu shot for MG…against my better judgment
  • It’s nice to be able to kiss your baby because you’re both sick and you don’t have to worry about passing it on and {see previous}
  • I hate missing out on events.  Swim class, Girls Night Out, Small group fun night, etc, etc.  Each one feels like an immense loss.  But I am thankful for the reminder that our life is busy and plentiful…in a good way.
  • I’m really, really glad we chose this month to activate our free month of Netflix.  We’ve used 3/4 email addresses so far, so we have to activate sparingly.  A few hours with the Sister Wives later, and I’m pretty sure that our decision was a good one.

  All that is to say, “Take that, immune system”. And I’ll see you, flu, in another decade or so.

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Five years

Five years ago today, we signed our lives over to the bank.  We spent about 3 hours signing and dating on the highlighted line and then tentatively stepped into our house.  Ours.  It was brand new.  The walls were completely boring white.  There was still sawdust around the baseboards.  The carpet had no tread marks.  There were no stains anywhere.  It looked and smelled fresh.
It didn’t take us long to leave our first mark.  It was snowing the day we moved in and despite our best effort, we still tracked in mud (from our still-un-sodded yard) and wet snow onto our brand new floor.  But we were too excited to care much.

We eagerly brought in box after box of our very few earthly possessions.  All that we had to our name was a mattress and box-springs, a hodge-podge of gifts from the wedding, and a couch and chairs we had purchased second-hand literally days before the move.
The first wave of reality sunk in as it grew dark and  became very apparent that we had no curtains or blinds to cover any of our windows. Not even our bathroom was safe from a peepshow to the entire neighborhood.   It would be several days before we would get all of the blinds up (and we made-shift curtains until then, and just kept the house….extra-dark)…but those are just one of many, many things that we added with our bare hands to our house.

Clearly, we purchased this house as a “starter home”.  It had enough room to grow, but not contain a large family which we still hope to someday have.  When people asked us how long we planned to stay, we would always answer “three years…at the very most five.   Well, I guess that means we’re moving tomorrow!
Since then, we (or I guess I should say N and my father-in-law) have painted every single corner, added 4 ceiling fans, 2 back-splashes, a half-bath and a built-in book shelf.  We’ve filled in the landscaping, seeded the yard (numerous, numerous times), and added a lava rock garden.  We paved around our landscaping, added a side-patio, built storage into the garage, turned a closet into a fully-functioning office, changed out light fixtures, added multiple shelves to our closet (did I mention that I like jeans??), hung paintings and pictures, purchased just the right furniture and spent week after week cleaning it, straightening it and learning every square foot of it. We repainted the front door and added  a storm door.  Now it really has become ours.  Every stain in the carpet and scratch on the wall is from us.  Every paint color was lovingly picked out and applied just so.  Each room has been organized and detailed with just the right amount of furniture and decor.  We know the exact route to take from our driveway to Wal-mart/church/work depending on the time of day.  We have casual relationships built with many of our neighbors and can just about spout off most of their names on a given street.
And I’m not ready to leave.  This is the house has seen us fall in love, re-work our budget, and create new projects.  This is the house that I brought my baby home too.  This is the house where my cat has made his bed.  This is the house where we have created and celebrated Christmas traditions.  This is the house that I have organized just the way I like it.  This house has been our refuge after traumatic days at work.  This is the house we looked forward to returning to after vacation. This house is the very first thing that we owned together.
Every year we go out on our “anniversary of owning a house” and celebrate/lament being homeowners.  Tonight we will remember five years of very ordinary but special memories…and we will laugh and scoff about our young pride five years ago.  And while I have no idea what the future holds, I am glad there isn’t yet a FOR SALE sign in the yard.  Because I guess I can still see us living here for another three, at the very most five more years.

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5 years

Five years ago today, we signed our lives over to the bank.  We spent about 3 hours signing and dating on the highlighted line and then tentatively stepped into our house.  Ours.  It was brand new.  The walls were completely boring white.  There was still sawdust around the baseboards.  The carpet had no tread marks.  There were no stains anywhere.  It looked and smelled fresh.
It didn’t take us long to leave our first mark.  It was snowing the day we moved in and despite our best effort, we still tracked in mud (from our still-un-sodded yard) and wet snow onto our brand new floor.  But we were too excited to care much.

We eagerly brought in box after box of our very few earthly possessions.  All that we had to our name was a mattress and box-springs, a hodge-podge of gifts from the wedding, and a couch and chairs we had purchased second-hand literally days before the move.
The first wave of reality sunk in as it grew dark and  became very apparent that we had no curtains or blinds to cover any of our windows. Not even our bathroom was safe from a peepshow to the entire neighborhood.   It would be several days before we would get all of the blinds up (and we made-shift curtains until then, and just kept the house….extra-dark)…but those are just one of many, many things that we added with our bare hands to our house.

Clearly, we purchased this house as a “starter home”.  It had enough room to grow, but not contain a large family which we still hope to someday have.  When people asked us how long we planned to stay, we would always answer “three years…at the very most five.   Well, I guess that means we’re moving tomorrow!
Since then, we (or I guess I should say N and my father-in-law) have painted every single corner, added 4 ceiling fans, 2 back-splashes, a half-bath and a built-in book shelf.  We’ve filled in the landscaping, seeded the yard (numerous, numerous times), and added a lava rock garden.  We paved around our landscaping, added a side-patio, built storage into the garage, turned a closet into a fully-functioning office, changed out light fixtures, added multiple shelves to our closet (did I mention that I like jeans??), hung paintings and pictures, purchased just the right furniture and spent week after week cleaning it, straightening it and learning every square foot of it. We repainted the front door and added  a storm door.  Now it really has become ours.  Every stain in the carpet and scratch on the wall is from us.  Every paint color was lovingly picked out and applied just so.  Each room has been organized and detailed with just the right amount of furniture and decor.  We know the exact route to take from our driveway to Wal-mart/church/work depending on the time of day.  We have casual relationships built with many of our neighbors and can just about spout off most of their names on a given street.
And I’m not ready to leave.  This is the house has seen us fall in love, re-work our budget, and create new projects.  This is the house that I brought my baby home too.  This is the house where my cat has made his bed.  This is the house where we have created and celebrated Christmas traditions.  This is the house that I have organized just the way I like it.  This house has been our refuge after traumatic days at work.  This is the house we looked forward to returning to after vacation. This house is the very first thing that we owned together.
Every year we go out on our “anniversary of owning a house” and celebrate/lament beinghomeowners.  Tonight we will remember five years of very ordinary but special memories…and we will laugh and scoff about our young pride five years ago.  And while I have no idea what the future holds, I am glad there isn’t yet a FOR SALE sign in the yard.  Because I guess I can still see us living here for another three, at the very most five more years.

Hello, {small, private} world!

What am I doing here?
I told myself I would never.
I started…and then stopped.  And started and stopped.  And deleted.
And here I find myself again.
I have lots of good excuses why I shouldn’t be:
  • Time: why add another thing to my already busy list?
  • Privacy: why open our lives up on the Internet where literally ANYONE can view our day-to-day?
  • Superstition: is it just me, or does it seem like anyone with a blog has really bad things happen to them?
  • Comparison: it’s easy to read blogs and think “she has more than me”, “she has her life together better than I do”, etc, etc.  Do I really want to be a joy thief for others?
  • Unoriginal:  There are so many blogs out there.  So many.   So what would I add to the mix?
But then I came up with good reasons to negate all of those good excuses:
  • Time:  I set a reasonable time limit for myself (2x a week).  If I’m too busy for that…than I’m too busy to blog. 
  • Privacy:  I will be very careful about what pictures I show, details about our life that I post, and probably won’t even use our real names.  Do to hubby’s “high-profile” job…this is just a necessity.
  • Superstition:  I’m not superstitious.
  • Comparison:  If I’m completely honest about my life, hopefully it will not steal but bring joy to others as they relate to my own
  • Unoriginal:  My blog is hardly new.  But it is the only one about MY life.  So I guess that makes it original.  Plus it’s January.  And January always seems like a good month to start something.  So here we go.
As you can see, this has been no easy decision.  This blog is not something that I have entered into lightly….
Here is what I’ve promised myself:
-write at least 2x a week
-if it goes longer than a month without writing, it’s time to reevaluate
-I will never just “stop writing” one day.  To me, these always feel like a bad break-up with no closure.  I will say my goodbye when the time comes.
-I will always, always, always, put my family’s privacy first.  If I feel like that is being violated, I will stop immediately.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s begin.
My name is Sweet Mama K.
It’s nice to meet you!