Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hey, Do You Have My Cool? I Seem To Have Lost Mine.

So you guys. Here's a fun fact about yours truly: I HATE conflict. I hate it so much that I will be patient with you for an inordinate amount of time even if you're mean to me or call me names or insult me. I avoid confrontation at (almost) all costs. This is the story of today. When I didn't avoid it. Because I got so mad it made me feel like I had a little, angry alien baby fighting to get out of my stomach in order to strangle something.
So once upon a time, I got called out on my parenting by someone on facebook. Not once, not twice, not even three times. In fact, it was frequent enough that I kind of lost count. And got more and more annoyed about it. And finally, I snapped. Because my telling this person that "I feel good about the decisions I've made here" wasn't enough. They would not let it die. They continued to berate and quiz me on my knowledge of 'fill-in-chosen-parenting-style-here'. 
Here's how I decided to respond. If you should ever need one, this can be used as a form letter addressed to whoever it is in your life that feels like they should be raising your kids:

Dear Person Who Thinks They Have All The Answers,

Quite honestly, this is not about [fill-in-chosen-parenting-style-here] to me anymore; it's about the lack of confidence you seem to have in my ability to make informed decisions in regards to my children. I find it insulting that you feel the need to abrasively defend your point of view when I was never attacking your opinion; I was merely stating mine. It was fine for you to tell me what you believed about it at first, but when I countered by saying I'd made my mind up about this and felt in harmony with the Lord, it would have been nice for you to then just allow me to make my decision instead of continuing to challenge my choice.
This subject is not one that I'm as passionate about as you are, which results in my not being as thoroughly researched as you. I don't believe that because I haven't researched as much as you have in this area, that I am making an uninformed or unintelligent decision. There are many parenting methods out there that I choose not to practice even though 'research' has shown that it's the 'right' thing to do. I don't believe in absolutes. I believe that since every child and parent are different, results will vary regardless of whether or not you co-sleep or don't co-sleep or exclusively breast-feed or use formula or cry-it-out or don't. There is no one right way to parent.
The choice to [participate in 'fill-in-the-blank-parenting-style-here] is my choice to make. And I get to also choose HOW I make that choice. It's okay that you feel like I'm not in harmony with the will of the Lord because I haven't researched 'enough' or haven't landed on the same side as you have on this or other issues, but I just don't really want to hear about your disapproval. I am far too hard on myself in regards to parenting as it is and I don't need other people scrutinizing and disapproving of the decisions I make.
I know this comes across as being harsh and I feel badly about that; but I've sort of reached the end of my ability to stay patient. I was patient 2 and a half years ago when you messaged me with a ton of information about why I shouldn't circumcise my son when I didn't even know you and hadn't asked for your opinion about it. (By the way, I'd already reached my decision about that by the time I received your message so my 'limited' research at least allowed The Lord to inspire me with a decision that aligned with yours in that area.) I was patient again a few years later when you turned my 'I need encouragement about breastfeeding because I think my milk is making my baby sick' post into a lecture as to why formula will make my son unintelligent and/or suffer from a long list of possible side-effects. And I was patient again when you refuted my claim that my oldest was exclusively formula fed from 4 months old and hasn't suffered AT ALL by informing me that 'effects aren't always immediately seen' as though I now have something horrible to look forward to because I fed my firstborn formula.
I appreciate your passion. I think you are an amazing parent. I respect and admire the decisions you are making for your family and I have every confidence that you will do your best for your babies, even though I don't agree with everything you choose to do. I hold my tongue when you post articles about parenting which differ greatly from the way that I do things. Why? Because I don't think that the way I parent is automatically absolutely right for everyone! I believe that you will be inspired to do for your children what is best FOR YOUR CHILDREN. And I wish you believed the same, but it doesn't seem like you do.
I hope that you can believe that my babies are in good hands. I hope that you will know how much they are loved. I hope you know how seriously I take parenting and how desperately I want to do the best for my boys. But even if you forget all of that, or just choose not to believe it, I hope you will remember that when I do mess up, the Lord- who loves those babies infinitely more than you or I can comprehend- will make up the difference.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Twice As Good: Part 2

Being as this was supposed to be a blog post about life with two children, I decided it'd be fitting to do it in two parts. I'm really glad I made that decision because the first part was a little intense. But honestly, it was a really good snapshot of the first three months of my little Samuel's life. Today marks three months exactly since he made his way into this big world of ours and I swear to you people, it's like a magical switch has been flipped for the last week or so. This is not the same baby. Okay, yes, he still would prefer to be held over pretty much anything ever; and alright, he's not afraid to let you know when he's unhappy, but my word. This child is laughing already. He coos and gurgles and squirms with glee. He smiles so big at strangers that it makes virtually everyone who looks at him say, "Woah! He's a happy baby!" which makes me smile inside because liiiiittle do they know...

I'm so excited to get to know who this little one really is underneath all the pain and misery he was in for the first few months. Poor baby.

So. The great, amazing, awesome, wonderful bits of being a mama with two:

1. You LITERALLY have super powers.
Your kids will be the first to really, truly believe in these powers. Gradually, their belief will be enough to convince your husband. And finally one day you will realize it: You are magical. Your cuddles make their cries stop within seconds. (Even faster than daddy's do.)  You can somehow carry three bags, two kids and one car seat even though you only have two hands. You can turn things that are healthy but nasty into meals that taste unhealthy and delicious. Your kisses (apparently) have healing properties. You can have an entire conversation about something deep and meaningful with your husband while both children are hollering in the back seat. You know where everyone's everything is. And you can clean around five rooms in the five minutes that you have until the baby wants to be held again. It's all rather astounding.

2. You have all kinds of new realizations about how astounding your capacity to love is.
The minute you see that new baby's face, all of your fears about not being able to love a second baby as much as you loved your first just melt away. Because dang. You love that baby. And then you wonder how many babies you could love as hard as you love the two you have and you realize you have the potential to never stop loving these little people and it's kind of addicting so you start to understand why people want 10 or 11 of them. Then your kid pukes and you think, "No. Two's good".

3. You get to watch your oldest become a big sibling. 
Which is magical. I can't tell you how much you will feel like your heart is going to explode with happiness when you watch your first kid hold your second kid for the first time. Those feelings come again when your oldest tells the youngest he loves him, or gives him kisses when he's crying, or gets really excited when he wakes up from his nap and tells you to 'get him up, quick!' And again when you watch your new baby's face light up in pure joy when he sees his big brother come in the room. (Disclaimer: This happy part of having two also comes with a side helping of anxiety when you realize that the two-year-old loves the three-month-old SO much that he wants to squish him. So there's a mixed-bag of elation and terror when the two-year-old wants to hold the baby again)

4. You are kind of a baby expert now.
Everything that was overwhelming with your first is suddenly a no-brainer. You don't worry nearly as much about things as you did with the first. You've figured out newborns. Bathing, feeding, changing, dressing, doctors... all of that is logged away in your brain and you can pull any of it back out quicker than you'd ever imagine you could. You feel like you're the baby whisperer. You figure you could probably write a book about mothering by now. It's very empowering. Of course, your second baby will throw a wrench in everything by being a completely different human being who won't take a binky or stop crying for anything ever for what feels like the rest of your life. But the mechanics of it all? Cake.

I'm sure as the years progress and I continue watching my boys grow up together and learn more about who they are, I'll be able to add several numbers to that list. I'm so excited to watch them navigate this world. I love that they get to grow up together. As tricky as it sometimes is with two so close in age, I'm really grateful that they'll have each other as a built-in best friend as they get older. Yes, it can be overwhelming. Sure, you feel stretched to the limit (and sometimes beyond it). And most nights you do collapse into bed feeling like you've been run over by a mack truck and wondering how in the world two such tiny humans can be so completely exhausting. But in all honesty, it's all completely worth it. The ins and outs and ups and downs and goods and bads all mix together into this cohesive, beautiful chaos that you wouldn't trade for all the structure and predictability in the world. Being a mama of two is hard and wonderful. And it will change and grow you in ways you never thought it could.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Twice As Good-Part 1

*Disclaimer: This post is part one of a two-part post about my life as a mother of two. It is possibly the more morose of the posts, but I promise the next part will be more upbeat.*

Funny story: Today while my kids were taking a nap (at the same time - may the napping gods continue to smile upon me) I thought, "Hey. I should blog. It's been a while." So I went to get our laptop only to realize that Shem had taken it to my parent's house in an attempt to study sans distraction.  Curses. Ah well, I thought, the blog will have to wait for another day. About an hour after all that went down, I got a message from my friend Natalie, who suggested I write a blog entry about life with two children; the pros and the cons, the good, the bad and the ugly, etc. Well. Dang. That was quite the coincidence. But alas, the little one was up and crabby (stop the presses, I know.) and wasn't even hinting at maybe possibly being okay with my blogging instead of walking and bouncing him.

Which brings us to the here and now. Every once in a while I make the right decision in regards to my second-born. This was one of those times. I let him cry for about two minutes in his swing because I had a strong feeling that he was fussy because he was tired and -huzzah!- he fell asleep again. My oldest is still asleep. In all that time he never stirred. Because he is a miracle child. And takes three-hour long naps.

And that offers us an excellent segue into why I've hesitated to write a blog about life with two: Aside from the fact that I really have close to no 'down' time, I also feel somewhat unqualified to paint an accurate picture of what life with two kids truly looks like because my sweet, lovely little Samuel is so far from being a textbook baby. It doesn't feel like I'm a mother of two. It feels more like I'm a spit-up drenched, hot mess, 'hey, look, my outfit matches this time', walking-around-like-a-zombie, breathing-and-counting-to-ten-every-ten-seconds-so-I-don't-lose-my-marbles,  inadequate, unequal-to-her-tasks mama who maybe bit off a little more than she could chew with this whole 'hey, let's have more kids' idea she naively proposed to her husband a little less than a year ago.

In my version of life with two, the experience can be summed up in the moments wherein both children are screaming in the back seat of the car on the way to the grocery store. One upset because he's (almost literally) always upset and the other because his shoes are on. Or something sensible like that.

Or during the times when Samuel has just puked all over the outfit I just put him in while his big brother is happily painting the table a lovely shade of green with his avocados. Or dumping all of the water out of his bath onto the bathroom floor.

Or those times when Luke loves Samuel SO much that he squeezes him just a little too tight which makes the (finally) quiet infant start screaming. Again.

Or the times when I'm scouring every on-line article I can find on allergies in babies or 'fore-milk imbalances' or colic in an attempt to find an idea that I haven't explored yet.

Or when I REALLY want some ice cream but I can't because I'm trying everything I can think of to help my little one's tummy to settle.

Or those times when I just cry because I don't have anything else to try and my baby is hurting and I can't make it better and that's just about the worst feeling a mama can have.

We call Samuel our little 'investment'. We're putting in all of this time and energy and work and sacrifice because we know that in the end, he is worth it. In a way I think all children are sort of investments. If they didn't return to us, plus interest, the amount that they suck out during these early years, I don't think anyone would ever voluntarily have children. But they do! Even my grumpy little man does...and will...

I sometimes wistfully remember those days when it was 'just Luke'. Even though it didn't feel easy then, I look back on it an long for the times when we went for days and days without hearing a single newborn have a melt-down. I longingly remember the days when it was only one dirty diaper and one bath time and one fit being thrown in the grocery store. But honestly, I wouldn't trade this moment in my life for anything.

Every day I go to bed feeling like I've been stretched to my absolute limit and then... I wake up and do it all over again. There is nothing more fulfilling than stretching beyond what you think you can handle and then going even further. And then at the end of it all, you look back and realize you've grown in ways you couldn't have possibly imagined. You are super woman. You can do anything. You can conquer the whole world if you need to.

I'm not quite there yet, but I have faith that I will be soon. I know that when this moment comes to an end, I will look back and be amazed at everything I accomplished and how much I grew and changed. And I'm excited for that. I'm undoubtedly in the Refiner's fire right now. He's making me shiny and new and perfect. He's buffing out all of my rough edges by giving me these wonderful babies and allowing me to love them with more power then I've ever loved anything and simultaneously allowing it to be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

What a blessing it is to love the thing(s) that grow you.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Lost and Found

All my life I've heard mothers say that having children sort of makes you lose yourself and boy let me tell you...that is not an exaggeration. 

I tend to create a highly romanticized version of my past self in my mind. I seem to remember myself as being far more disciplined and perfect then I probably really was. I lost a lot of weight after high school and taught myself to eat very well and exercise frequently. I studied my scriptures every day. My prayers tended to be more fervent and less 'let's hurry this up so that I can go to sleep already!' I read more often, wrote more often, played the piano and sang all the time, listened to music, hung out with friends every day, took spontaneous road trips, went running daily and wrote in my journal every night. Before I had kids, I had become, in large part, the person that I'd always wanted to be. 

And now I'm just Luke and Samuel's Mama. I cook for them, clean for them, bathe them, change them, cuddle and kiss them, read to them (and trust me, toddler literature is not as fascinating as you'd think. There are only so many one-syllable words that rhyme.) wake for them, dance with them and take them to play with friends and attend all manner of toddler-appropriate activities to keep them engaged, happy and learning.

I don't run any more. Eating healthy now means adding green beans to the mac and cheese. I have 20 pounds to lose as a direct result of having carried and delivered two healthy little boys. My prayers are (sadly) often a race to the finish line so that I can complete the next task or crash into my bed. My scripture study has become a one-handed activity done on my smart phone during my nursing sessions. Church is now a battle-field on which I often admit defeat and hand my kid Angry Birds just to keep him quiet. 

I have lost myself. 

And while I struggle to find myself again and reinvent this new Mama version of me, it occurs to me that losing yourself in exchange for giving someone else life might just be the greatest sacrifice you can make. "Greater love hath no man than this; that he lay down his life for his friends." 

My life has been laid down for you, my boys. I put myself away everyday so that I can give you the life and love that you deserve. My desires and fears and wants and needs are often put on a back burner in order to allow you the growth and happiness that you came here for. I don't know of any experience in life that better creates the opportunity to learn selfless service; to follow the example set by Christ and give your life for others. I'm grateful everyday that I am allowed to be your mother. I'm grateful that I am the one who can make you laugh. I'm grateful that my voice calms your cries. I'm grateful to be the person that you run to when you're hurt, embarrassed, shy or afraid. 

Even though she is (for now) slightly nondescript, I'm grateful to be your Mama.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Samuel: The Birth

Well holy moly. It's been an entirely ridiculous amount of time between blog entries. The thing is, is that I've got this new baby here. And a two-year-old. And almost no time when I'm laying around thinking, "Hm. What should I do now?" Also our new baby, (whom I love and adore) despite being the most phenomenal sleeper IN ALL THE LAND is quite a fussy little man when he's awake during the day. That makes things like cooking, cleaning, taking care of Luke and (blogging) very nearly impossible. Because even when the rare occasion arises in which I have two hands at my disposal, there is very often a screaming baby in the background to whom I am hormonally and biologically programmed to respond. When that response is delayed because I'm -oh I don't know- saving Luke's life or something, my brain explodes in a frightening array of emotions and it's very nearly impossible to concentrate on anything but the sounds of my shrieking newborn. So. Right now I find myself in this unprecedented moment wherein both of my babies are still asleep, Shem is out of town, and I'm being a little lazy (aka scared out of my mind about tackling the pile of dishes in the sink) Conditions are perfect for blogging.

Facts about Samuel:
He is my fighter baby. That kid survived a terrifying mess of problems while he was inside of me and then a handful of them when he was on his way out. He's such a squirmy, active little thing and he's been that way since he could move. He was even a little more active than Luke was when he was inside of me. Apparently all that movement earned him a good little knot in his umbilical chord. At some point, he wrapped himself up in that thing and cause a true knot which became tighter and tighter every time I pushed and caused his heart rate to decelerate. And it never came back up. So the on-call doctor who was delivering me suddenly became a raging lunatic psychopath who caused the entire already terrifying experience of having an emergency C-section to become actually psychologically damaging. He flew into a raging panic and started yelling at everyone and frantically wheeling me out of the room to the OR where he proceeded to yell at ME about how I was moving too slowly and was going to lose my baby. awesome.

They ended up putting me under (because the psychopath of a doctor was freaking me out so badly that I was literally screaming at them that I wasn't numb yet as he was poking at prodding at me after I was strapped to the table). Shem missed the birth. I missed the birth. Samuel was welcomed into the world not by his Mama and Daddy, but by a bunch of nurses who had been desperately trying and mostly failing to rope the doctor's crazies in a little bit. They took his vitals and the kid scored an almost perfect score on the Apgar test. Then they woke me up and let me feed him. I was so disoriented upon waking up, however, that I didn't register that there was a beautiful, brand new baby boy nursing in my arms. I was just crying and crying and asking if he'd made it...if everything was okay. After a few minutes the nurses and Shem finally convinced me that he was just fine and he was nursing happily and had scored a 9.9 on his Apgar test and so I just sat and held him and was finally able to be madly in love with him and in awe over his perfection.

Not the ideal delivery by any stretch.

I would have (eventually) been fine with a C-section if that Doctor hadn't been so panicked. Hadn't made me think I was losing the baby. Hadn't blamed me for it. Twice. I'm still so shaken about his behavior and about how badly I was treated by him that I don't ever want to deliver at that hospital ever, ever again. I've been struggling with the idea of ever even delivering again period. Let alone under similar circumstances in similar surroundings.

BUT in the end, my perfect, handsome, sweet little Samuel is here and I couldn't be happier about that. I can't tell you how good it feels to have a newborn in my arms again. It's completely addicting. No wonder I was so baby hungry. He smells good and fits right in my arms and has no choice but to snuggle with me. And he looks at things with utter amazement. I love to watch him discover the world. I'm absolutely in love with him. Even though he's frequently a crab-muffin when he's awake and not nursing. =)

He's almost 6 weeks old already! I just can't believe it's going this fast. As he gets older, he's getting a little calmer and is starting to have longer and longer awake stretches in which he just looks around pleasantly and takes in his surroundings.

Let me tell you the other miraculous thing about this baby who survived a car wreck, pre-term labor and a true knot in his umbilical chord:

He sleeps through the night.

I'm not kidding you people. This child has been sleeping through the night since he was 2 and a half weeks old. And I'm not even talking he sleeps four hours at a time. He literally sleeps. Through. The. Night. Like, last night he did 8 hours. The night before? 9. The shortest stretch he's had in a few days was 6. Even at the VERY beginning (like just a few days old) he'd sleep 4 hours at a time. What. Tender mercies, guys. Tender mercies. I'm convinced that this miracle was essential because it enables me to stay really patient with his fussy moments and with his two-year-old brother.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: all of this stuff is completely worth it. My body is not the same, I've been through the ringer in terms of pain and crappy pregnancy symptoms, my deliveries have both had a few hiccups but it's all completely worth it. I love being a Mama. I love it with all of my heart.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

My Baby Brain Is a Loser

My journal is lost.

About a month ago, I wrote an entry about our horrific car accident and I have absolutely no memory of where that entry was written and that was the last time I remember having that thing in my possession and I cannot for the life of me find it. Stupid lost journal of memories. Pretty sure I'm just going to go ahead and buy a new one so I can keep writing things down (especially since my kid is talking and when kids start talking, really funny things come out of their mouths and it all needs documentation.) and then I'm assuming that when we move or paint or something, the lost journal will reappear. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Basketball and Babies-A Hawks Family Adventure

Yesterday was so beyond normal. Other than the fact that my kid didn't take his nap, it was just a day in the life. In fact, it was the most normal day I've had since the accident. Shem went to work in the morning which meant that Luke and I got back to our 'normal' routine and I got a million chores done and we got to go and visit Grandma and Grandpa Heywood and go to lunch with my mom. So. Normal.

Shem had a church deal that evening and Luke and I went with him. Fun tip: If you're ever going to the stake center to support your husband as he is set apart for a calling, you should know that they probably want you in church dress. My flip-flops and t-shirt were basically the equivalent of screaming profanities. Loudly. During the prayer. Oh, and guess who DID scream loudly during the prayer? Right. Luke. So I took him out of the room to let him wander the halls.

Guess what? There was a basketball game in the cultural hall.

Have you met Luke? The kid is obsessed with that game. He took one peek through the crack in the doors before desperately pleading that I take him inside. When I opened the door, I noticed that the back area of the cultural hall (which in this particular building is a raised stage-type area) was chalk-full of all of the player's wives and kids. And they had extra basketballs up there. And they were just hangin out. And I knew a couple of them. So, we headed over there and I got some mommy time with other mommies and Luke got to clutch an extra basketball with as much love and adoration as a new mother clutches her newborn while he sat at the edge of the stage and watched the guys play basketball with an attention-span the likes of which no one-year-old has ever known.

(P.S. Shout out to Lori Moncur for watching the Duke while I went to be with Shem for his setting apart!)

So as I'm sitting in there, waiting for Shem, I start having Braxton Hicks contractions. Which are totally normal and I get them all the time. But these ones were starting to get more and more frequent. So, I made a mental note and then ignored them. Apparently, that made them mad because instead of giving up and going away, they decided to inflict small amounts of pain along with all the tightness. Still not entirely worried, I chatted happily and watched my kid watch basketball.

For about an hour this went on and the contractions were just not quitting. (As a side note, the game had ended which meant the court was open and my kid had a basketball in his hand. His determination to make it into that hoop knew no bounds. He played with a couple of other kids for that entire hour and STILL screamed bloody murder when it was time to leave. Dear universe, please let him get tall.) As Shem and I drove home, I casually mentioned to him that I'd been having contractions for about an hour and I was pretty sure they were consistent and thought we might want to time them just to be sure.

We timed them when we got home and sure enough, they were coming every 2 and a half to 3 minutes. Which is a great sign if you're full term! And is a really not great sign if you're not full term at all. Guess which one I am?

Let me tell you something about yours truly: I haaaaate being in the hospital. (I mean really, who loves it? In all honesty, I probably hate it a normal amount.) So my desire to go and wait for hours in the ER only to be checked into a room where I would basically be tortured with needles and intravenous drugs all whilst donning one of those super sexy hospital gowns was basically at a negative eleventy. But alas, after another hour or so and a shower for me (I refuse to be stinky and naked simultaneously in front of strangers) I laid down to count the contractions and like clockwork they came. Le Sigh. Also, they were still painful. Double le sigh.

I will now finish this entry in list form. Here is how the rest of the night went:

1. Adam and Shem gave me a blessing. Conveniently, Adam was already at our place because Shem had invited him over to play StarCraft in hopes that it would send his wife into labor during the night since that's what Shem was doing the night before I went into labor with Luke. His wife, Katelyn, whose due date was yesterday, never went into labor. Guess who did? Cruel irony.

2. Adam left.

3. We packed a bag for Luke and ourselves and called my parents to let them know we were on our way. (we'd already called them previously to let them know there was a distinct possibility of hospitalage. --It's a word.)

4. Stopped at a gas station for mixed nuts because hot dang I was hungry. Oh p.s. before we left, I'd downed 40 ounces of water because Mylinda (my sister-in-law who is a Labor and Delivery nurse) told me to. So. I reeeeeally had to pee.

5. ER. Ew. But if you want to be seen really close to immediately in an ER, tell them you're in pre-term labor. We only waited for, like, five minutes. Maybe.

6. Wheelchair rides are super awkward. And also secretly super awesome.

7. Met my labor and delivery nurse who was AWESOME. I wish I could request her for his actual birth. I loved her.

8. Monitors. One for contractions one for the baby's heart beat.

9. Suspicions confirmed: the on-call doctor and my nurse came in to inform me that I was indeed in labor. Treatment: IV fluids (let it be known that I knew that wouldn't work because I'd already downed 40 ounces of water in addition to what I'd already had to drink throughout the day.)

10. IV administration. Low point of the night. I wanted to vomit, pass out and die all at the same time. Which is stupid. Because how many IVs have I had in my life? That's right. A million.

11. 45 minutes of a super freezing arm and the worst television show ever made. TLC really has some winners. Long Island Medium? My only excuse is that I was too tired to search for something decent. Thank goodness they had a TV in there, though, because my sweet husband totally crashed in the highly uncomfortable chair they'd stuck in there.

12. The fluids failed. Shot time. Not nearly as bad as the IV, but still obnoxious. They shot me with Terbutaline which effectively stopped the contractions after another 45 minutes and also made my heart race and my body shake uncontrollably. Have I mentioned how much fun hospitals are?

13. We were discharged.

For some reason I have a sinking feeling that this might not be the end. My goal is to make it to my appointment with my OB tomorrow without having to take another trip to the hospital. (for reasons why I would hate my life if the hospital were the only option, please see numbers 5-12) I'm having contractions and have been all day long, but they are neither consistent nor painful so I've decided to just continue waiting and stay down a lot and drink tons of water and hope that these suckers don't get worse.

For the record, I went into the hospital on Katelyn's due date (April 16th) and was still in the hospital April 17th which is my friend, Nicole's due date. Funny joke, universe. We all really appreciated that.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

When It Rains.

It's been raining here.

I think most of the world would scoff at our idea of rain out here in the middle of this California desert. But really, we got a good two or three inches over the last few days. The parking lot in front of our apartment is very worn. My guess is that it's still the original lot that was put in when the complex was built 40 years ago. It's been worn down in the middle and is filled with pot holes, cracks and divots that make driving out of the lot at 5 miles an hour feel like you're off-roading in an action film. These defects become the most noticeable during and after the rare rainstorm we get. The entire northern region of the lot fills with water that - if you dare to wade through it- would reach your ankles at least. My husband and I have had a few fun sloshes through the crater to get to our car. Once, we even created make-shift galoshes out of plastic shopping bags. The idea was solid; the bags were not.

The analogy of rain washing away imperfections and leaving beautiful, clear skies is especially profound to me since I live in this valley who's air quality has several times qualified as the worst in the nation. After rain, everyone in Bakersfield is in awe of how beautiful this valley is. We all 'wake up' for a few days and basque in the splendor of breathing fresh air, seeing blue skies and being surrounded on all sides by beautiful, I-never-knew-they-were-so-close mountains. The remainder of the year, we are completely unaware of how beautiful this place is. And the only cure is two or three days of gloomy, wet, blustery weather in which virtually none of us can drive.

Lately, I've been experiencing a few storms in my personal life: Many whom I love are choosing things that are contrary to the teachings of the church. Many are wandering; lost. Some of these people are not only close to me, but actually helped me form and grow my own testimony. They all present questions and skepticism which have, on occasion, shaken my once very solid foundation. There have been financial struggles and mental health crises and our latest blow: we've been told that my husband is going to have to find another job as his boss is closing up shop.

From the outside, our little rain storms really don't look like much, but I'm afraid that I'm a lot like the defective parking lot in front of our complex, in that you can see where I am the weakest while the rain is falling. I flood very easily. Just a few inches of rain could very easily render me completely useless.

I'm so blessed to have a loving Father in Heaven who knows only too well that all I really need to be able to endure it all, is to see a little slice of blue sky through all of the clouds. Very frequently during my storms, He'll grant me the tender mercy that I need in order to continue pursuing that beautiful, clear day that He has promised will come.

Through our small trials- and through the big ones- the Lord has blessed me endlessly with slices of blue sky: a husband who's faith and logic quell all doubts that have ever been presented to us; a faithful mother who's prayers have kept a family spiritually fed; a hard-working husband and father who's thrift and industry has kept his family physically fed; prayers offered by friends on our behalf which have granted us peace, strength, and countless job opportunities; and a beautiful, sunny day after our three days of gloom in which my 18-month-old son gleefully jumped in left-over puddles while I happily noticed the picturesque mountains and remembered how beautiful this valley really is.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On: How I almost got arrested on Valentine's Day.

Once upon a time, I was running errands. Luke was bored. So I bought him a valentine's day dollar store balloon (I know, I pull out all the stops for that kid). I loaded him into the car, fixed his broken balloon (it was a dollar) and away we went. Five minutes later, Luke is happily banging his balloon around in the back seat while I speed down Coffee. All is well.

 Shortly after stopping at a red light, I hear a curious scurry of movement, turn around and there is Luke, STANDING next to his car seat, jumping up and down, laughing hysterically.

After a full minute of open-mouthed gaping and listening to my brain go, "whaaaa...?" I realize, I'd gotten so disctracted by fixing his dang balloon, that my baby brain forgot to remind me to buckle that stinker in. Then the light turned green. There was nowhere to pull over.

"SIT YOUR BUM DOWN!" I...very calmly scream at him.

He obeys. Thank all that is good.

I laugh nervously about his prior jubilation at having freed himself from his car seat prison.

We pull into the nearest gas station.
I wrangle him into his seat.
I narrowly avoid prison.

The End.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Kind of Mama I Want To Be

When I was thirteen years old, my mom made me really mad. I don't remember what our fight was about, but I remember storming into my room, slamming my door as hard as I possibly could and then sitting down to write an angry list entitled: "How I'll Treat My Kids".

The details escape me, but I'm sure the list contained vast stores of knowledge that only a thirteen-year-old who is fairly certain she's got the whole world figured out possesses. It probably had suggestions such as: "I will never tell my kids no," and, "I will always let them have dessert," and, "I will let them have sleepovers every weekend if they did their homework,".

Since that day, I've thought a lot about the kind of Mom I want to be. Especially lately since I' know...become a Mom. I thought it was high time that I make a new list. Especially now that more of my chromosomes are here and all.
The Kind of Mama I Want To Be

-I want to be actively involved in my children's lives at every stage.
      ~I want to crawl with them while they're crawling.
      ~I want to chase them while they're learning to run.
      ~I want to be at every game, recital and school awards ceremony and cheer louder than anyone else.
      ~I want to paint with them and wrestle with them and beat them at races into the ocean.
      ~I want to live at their level and see what they see; rediscover this beautiful world through their eyes.

-I want to be Patient
     ~I want to learn not to sweat the small stuff.
     ~I want to enjoy watching them as they learn to behave and take joy in my role as their teacher.
     ~I want to use spills, tears, cut hair, soiled pants and marks on the walls as learning experiences and stay kind as I try to help them learn.

- I want to be easy-going
    ~I want to let them jump in puddles and splash in the tub and sink.
    ~I want them to get muddy and messy.
    ~I want to give them dessert sometimes.
    ~I want them to stay up late sometimes.
    ~I want them to feel safe when they need to tell me something hard.

-I want to live in the moment
    ~I want to gaze into my newborns eyes forever while I sing him to sleep.
    ~I want to memorize what it sounds like when their one-year-old voices are learning new words.
    ~I want to breathe in the smell of them when they're tiny and have that newborn smell and never forget how warm they are and how perfectly they fit in my arms.
    ~I want to be completely present while they bang on the piano and sing at the top of their lungs.
    ~I want to take lots of pictures, write lots of memories and remember lots of moments.
    ~I want to remember that they are only young once. I want to let them be young while they are young.
    ~I want to hold them tight and help them learn that they are never alone; that they never need to be afraid; that there is hope and happiness and beauty all around them. No matter what.

I want to cherish every moment that God gives me with them and never forget that they are His.