Friday, June 28, 2013

A Sleeping Child


These last few days have reminded me of a chapter I wrote in my newest ebook Diapers, Onesies, Stretch Marks- Oh My! In honor of surviving this week until Friday, I thought I would share this chapter with you and give you a slight nudge to go check out the rest of the book on Amazon. (-: Thank you to all of you who have read and left me such sweet and awesome reviews. Here's to motherhood- the good and the....well, not so good.

A Sleeping Child

They had been particularly naughty that day.

Screaming when I needed them most to be quiet, pulling out their toys from the bins after I had already picked them up for the bazillionth time that day, refusing to eat the dinner that I spent most of the afternoon making for them, running in opposite directions off the edge of the deck when I tried to get them to walk to the car, tearing the pages out of the books that were supposed to be read, whining the entire time they were in their car seats or grocery cart- my angels were transformed all day into….well, demons.

By the time bath time rolled around and they were throwing their toys out of the tub onto a wet puddle on the floor while simultaneously dropping little bodily “surprises” into the water that I found right as I lifted my “clean” babies out…I didn’t even like them.

I know I’m their mother. And I know I’m supposed to love them unconditionally, but I had had enough. My patience was stretched thinner than perhaps ever before.

As I carried them writhing and kicking to their separate beds, fed-bathed-in clean sleepers, I silently celebrated the end to a disastrous day. It’s not that anything dramatically horrible happened in the day (that I could at least get a story for my blog.) No, it was just moment after moment that was less than ideal culminating in a giant two against one fight for the trophy of control.

And I was losing.

A few minutes later when I went to check on them, they were both fast asleep (It’s amazing how fast acting out can wear you out, huh?)

After silently giving myself the point and final victory since I was the last man standing, I paused for a minute by their cribs.

Long eyelashes fell across flushed cheeks. Breathing was even; red lips slightly parted; pudgy hands relaxed against a blanket; the oh-so-active legs that had been running away from me all day lay still.

Maybe they were just storing up new energy to attack the next day. Maybe they were regretting how they spent their energy today (doubtful.) Maybe they were counting the ways that they love their mother (also doubtful.) Maybe they were giving into the weakness of their small frames only to wake up more powerful and stronger for a new day (very likely.)

Whatever they were thinking while they slept so beautifully, something strange washed over me.

Tension disappeared, my memory clouded the details of their disobedience and the entire day seemed much less horrible. A smile tipped the corners of my mouth and love that never truly left swelled to maximum capacity.

These are my babies. I love them- no matter how wretched the day.

Suddenly I missed them. They were right in front of me, but something about their angelic sleeping nature made me feel like I flown across the world for a weeklong business trip and hadn’t seen them since that tearful goodbye at the airport.

I missed them fiercely.

A short sigh in sleep and a burrowing in by a blonde head prompted me to reach down a hand to brush the strand of rebellious bang out of his eyes. As my fingers made contact with the deliciously warm forehead, something went dreadfully wrong.

The stirring seemed more pronounced. The legs started moving. A head shot up. Poised; ready for battle.

Hoping that somehow my body was obeying the “BE INVISIBLE” command that my mind was shooting it, I ran out of the room cursing my own stupidity. I tripped on a John Deere tractor left in the way, accidentally triggering the top button and I heard “NOTHING RUNS LIKE A DEER” followed by several loud beeps.

A cry. A sob. A scream.

And then of course his sister heard him and woke up to immediately match his impressive vocals with her wail, equally full of spit and vigor.

I ran until I was out of view, fell down onto my couch where I was supposed to spend the evening in quiet and peace, and wondered what it is about a sleeping baby that has the power to make it all seem magical and better…

…and why I greedily ask for too much and lose the power…every single time.

Chapter from Diapers, Onesies, Stretch Marks- Oh My! available on Amazon

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Woman Who Let Her Son With Down Syndrome Starve

Recently I saw a friend ask a question on Facebook- "When does my child with Down syndrome start to be a blessing? This is hard. This is not what I signed up for. When does the blessing part start?"

And without judgment, I understood exactly what she was saying.

There is this movement going around selling the image of children with Down syndrome as angels, blessings, gifts, and a sprinkling of fairy dust down onto your life.

In one sense, I totally understand the reason and the need for this advertising. The abortion rate for a child with Down syndrome is extremely high. I'm not going to say 90% because that number has been proven incorrect by recent studies. But let's just say the number is still staggeringly high because of misinformation, outdated ideas about Down syndrome, and fear as to how this will affect their family's life in the long term.


Therefore: the campaign to sell Down syndrome as a rockin' accessory that everyone should want!

And the world smiles and feels all warm and happy inside that the disability that used to be perceived as a death sentence is now something totally awesome!

But then, stories come out about a mother who so badly neglected her 32 year old son with Down syndrome that he died a slow, painful death of starvation and countless other medical issues that were never addressed. Her main concern when the ambulance came for the skin and bones of her son? That she would continue getting his social security check every month.

You can't help but wonder- where was her sprinkling of fairy dust? She had a child with Down syndrome. Why didn't her life transform into magical awesomeness of love?

This story makes me absolutely sick and heartbroken trying to imagine what was going through that mother's head to allow this treatment of her son who so badly needed her and to let it continue for so long. It's inhumane. It's disgusting. It's beyond sickening.

The world then looks back at the information from the campaign about the incredible magic of Down syndrome and wonders which is the true story.  A fountain of awesomeness? Or something that is so horrible that it's OK to treat that person as garbage?

I would venture to say that it is neither. It is exactly the same as parenting any other baby. There will be parents that enjoy the days, grimace at the rough moments, laugh, celebrate, work through each day with sacrifice and love, but relish in the good and find this parenthood thing to be life-changing in a wonderful way.
There will be those who aren't willing to make the sacrifices necessary. There will be those who always want to put themselves first and refuse to acknowledge that their life must change to insure the well-being and happiness of the child in their care. There might be those that just aren't capable of providing the sacrifices and life necessary to insure a happy childhood.

These horrific stories that show up in the news are a direct result of the choices of the parents- NOT the inherent worth of the child.

Whenever I say that having a child with Down syndrome is "exactly the same parenting as any other baby" I always hear well intentioned comments shouting NO IT'S NOT. To that I say- "parenting" won't be the same for any two children. Carter has struggles that frustrate me. Addison has struggles that frustrate me. They are totally different frustrations. It is frustrating to me that Addison will almost be four when this baby is born, but won't be functioning as a four year old to help out with the new baby. It's frustrating that she isn't potty trained yet. It's frustrating that she won't communicate with me. The first year of her life with the surgeries, oxygen, and g-tube days were very, very hard and oftentimes I wonder how we made it through.

But we did. And we continue to. Because parenting is all about sacrifice and loving through every day no matter what that day holds- whether surgeries or a play date. This is required of me for Addison AND Carter. It just means different things from day to day for each of them.

But I guess my point it- I wish that the campaign to fight against the abortion of babies with Down syndrome would stop swinging so far to one side because it's not fair to those parents who wake up with a 12 month old with Down syndrome who isn't even close to walking or talking, and they wonder when the blessing starts. I wish the campaign would describe Down syndrome as exactly what it is- a life. A valuable, important, human life that should be treated with dignity and respect.

Why can't we just say that it will be hard- but well worth it? If we say it will be hard, will people immediately jump to the "therefore that child deserves death"? Tell, me- what child is easy? What child has a guaranteed future? What child doesn't cause frustrations?

My daughter who has Down syndrome is not an angel. (BELIEVE me.) My daughter who has Down syndrome is not a sprinkling of fairy dust down onto my life or any more of a blessing than my son is who does not have Down syndrome. Her personality does include a lot of awesomeness and fabulousness but that's not because she has Down syndrome. It's because she is a little girl who loves to LIVE and experience the small pleasures of life. Every individual with Down syndrome will not have the EXACT SAME PERSONALITY. There will be a wide span of all sorts of temperaments because every individual with Down syndrome is HUMAN and unique.
To my friend who asked "When does the blessing part start" this is what I say:

As you go through each day, putting in the motions of mothering and wondering what the big picture will be, one day you will be surprised by the strong emotion that overwhelms you. This strong emotion will include part love, part disbelief that this is nothing like you imagined it would be (in a good way), and part extreme happiness that this is your life. Not everything will be shiny and amazing- but it will all seem somehow right. And good. And a blessing. I experience this equally with both of my children- at different moments in different ways.

I am not going to pretend that I know what it's like to parent an adult with Down syndrome. I don't. Parenting a 3.5 year old is an entirely different story. I recognize this. But I understand feeling overwhelmed. I understand not being able to handle something or cope. I wish this mom would have sought some help. I wish she would have realized that there is no shame in saying - "for the good of this child, I should not parent him" or "I need more of a break"- and get him the care that he needed. But there is shame in killing that child- day by day, missed meal by missed meal, refusal to care, refusal to love.

If any of you reading this blog ever feel overwhelmed in parenting a child with a disability- there is no shame in seeking help. Please don't take your frustrations out on your child. I get help. I have a PCA (Personal Care Assistant- funded through the state) who comes several times a week to give me a break. When we were overrun with therapy and doctor appointments, I would not have made it through without our PCA (who is wonderful). I do not pretend to be superwoman who can do it all. I am a selfish human who sometimes struggles with the amount of care required from me. A short break and a new perspective upon my return helps me more than I can say.

But even though at times it is overwhelming, even though at times it is hard, even though at times it is frustrating- I can think of no better way for me to spend my life than to nurture the lives of my two children. BOTH of them- equally deserving of life and love. Addison isn't more deserving than Carter because she is "special"...and Carter isn't more deserving because he doesn't have Down syndrome- they are both human, unique, special in their own way. Neither of them have a guaranteed future. Neither of them are guaranteed a tomorrow. But what I can give them is another day of building memories, love, and the care their bodies need to grow and survive. That's all that's required of me. One day at a time.

Friday, June 21, 2013

I laugh Because I Can

I have a great sense of humor. When something bad happens, or plans derails- I am pretty quick to find a laugh in the situation. No one else may understand what the humor exactly is...but I laugh anyway because it is just what I do. Besides, as someone who weird things just seem to happen to- I figure it is better to laugh than cry.

Nothing has stretched my sense of humor more than having toddlers. Two toddlers. Made up of one part adorable, one part sweet, and one part pure evil.

When Carter semi-climbed up onto the counter yesterday morning and pulled down the gallon pitcher full of milk onto the floor- I gasped when I heard the crash, but laughed when I saw the "innocent" look on his face and cute "uh-oh." (that clean floor was nice while it lasted)
When Addison used her couple of diaper-free minutes (trying to get rid of a diaper rash) to squat randomly around the house and drop little presents in unexpected places, I winced when I almost stepped on one and then laughed at the ridiculousness of it all before having a long chat with her once again about what exactly she thought her potty time was for. (no picture of this...you're welcome. Actually I did take a picture to text to Aaron so that he knew to be on the lookout when he got home.)

When I ate a cookie in secret and was discovered by both of them and they climbed like ninjas up to my mouth (I was sitting at the table) to attempt to pry my mouth open to grab some crumbs to "share",  I laughed at the intensity in their faces and felt no guilt because I had just fixed them an awesome dinner that they were about to eat.

When Carter grabbed my hairbrush off of the bathroom counter and spend long minutes (seconds) brushing his luscious locks of....shaved hair, I laughed because I thought it was cute he was trying to mimic what he saw me doing a lot even though he has practically no hair. But when I needed that hairbrush a short hour later and could not find it anywhere...I was no longer laughing. When I searched the entire house over and over and over until I started going crazy and then had to go to Addison's eye appointment with my new haircut looking like a rats nest flung over my head, I was ticked. When I asked him where he put my hairbrush and he sweetly said "Addison." I was not laughing. HE WOULDN'T TELL ME WHERE HE PUT IT AND I LOOKED HOMELESS.

(btw...all but the potty one happened yesterday...the day after this post)

It took a trip to the grocery store (after the appointment...of course seeing tons of people that I know at the grocery store) to buy a new brush, my cookie eaten in "secret", and a half hour of blessed silence while the kids watched "Elmo" to bring the smile back. By the time they were fast asleep- looking all cute and angelic in their beds, the laughter had returned.

It was ordained by the heavens that they slept a lovely 12 hours last night and let me sleep in until 7:30 this morning. Because not one cup of (decaf) coffee into the day and Addison had taken a bag of Costco toilet paper, thrown it into the bathtub, and turned the water on high. I laughed. But only because there were more cookies to be had.

I have a great sense of humor. Unfortunately my children seemed to have inherited this. Except their sense of humor has more to do with laughing AT me and the crazy stunts they manage to pull while I am selfishly doing stuff like making sure they have clean clothes to wear and fresh food to eat.

On a totally unrelated note...anyone want a couple of cute kids? They come with a backup hair brush, a bag of soaked toilet paper, and an overall stickiness that can only come from trying to bathe in a milk pool on the floor. (Sorry, no cookies will most likely be left.)
And now that I have properly entertained myself, guess that laundry isn't going to fold itself. If only that could be the twinsies next evil trick....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

That Sweet Neighbor Boy and a Zipper

Today I had a chiropractor appointment.

An appointment that I almost forgot about.

Mostly because today's schedule was full, and I was distracted. I had the rare treat of going out with a friend this morning. Breakfasting out, conversing and laughing- it was the real deal. And it was awesome. When I came home, not only had the children had a morning of hard play, but they had already been fed and were fast asleep. (I really have a fabulous sitter.)

Because of this, I was lulled into a false sense of security about the rest of the day. The house was quiet. And pretty clean. I climbed into bed with my computer and a bowl of fresh blueberries-still on a high from my morning out- and just relished the stillness.

It was then that I remembered the chiropractor appointment. I sent out some texts, rescheduling the afternoon to make room for the appointment. I realized that since I used my sitter time in the morning, I was going to have to tough it out and take the kids to the appointment with me. No problem! They were so quiet and peaceful...surely they could stay that way during a 5 minute chiropractor adjustment.

The time for the appointment was inching closer. The kids were still asleep. My worst fears were becoming my reality. I was going to have to wake them up so that I wouldn't be late for my appointment.

It's at this point that things get a bit hazy in my memory. I remember after waking them trying to get them dressed and find Addison's braces. I remember rushing them out to the car while enthusiastically shouting "CAR CAR CAR" to instill their usual excitement about a trip out. I remember the juggling game that is pinning them into their carseats. I remember getting stopped at every red light and a short trip turning into a long one. I remember arriving in a panic and out of breath- five minutes late for my appointment. I remember looking down and realizing that I was wearing flip flops instead of my supportive tennis shoes- guaranteed to earn me a lecture.

Now this is the chiropractor that I went to throughout Carter's entire pregnancy. For a while- twice a week. I have been going again for the past ten weeks to try to avoid some of the same hip/back pain that I had with Carter. We chat each visit about various things- enough to say that there is a rough history of knowledge present there.

But today was the very first day that I took both kids to an appointment with me. He had met Addison before because of the sheer number of visits during Carter's pregnancy. She tended to tag along more often than not. But he had never met Carter. Until today.

The visit went well (lecture about the shoes taking up most of the time.) The kids were whiny, but stayed buckled in the wagon and kept the shrieks to a minimum (win!)

But then at the very end of the appointment, the chiropractor pointed to Carter and said, "Now who is he again?"

"Wait, what?" I was confused.

"The little boy. Whose is he?"

"Um, mine."

"Wait. HE'S YOURS TOO?"

"Yeah, remember- you helped me through his pregnancy two years ago?"

"Oh man, I thought for sure you brought a sweet neighbor boy with you today. OH MY WORD THEY ARE BOTH YOURS."

At this point he turned a bit white and his eyes widened in disbelief. He had, after all, just helped me through a PRENATAL appointment and here I brought with me a wagon full of toddlers who still looked quite babyish themselves.

Meanwhile, I was encouraging the sweet neighbor boy to please stop kicking his sister in the head.

"Wow you have your hands full. No wonder you couldn't find clean socks in order to wear your tennis shoes today."

I held my dignity as closely as I could muster as the sweet neighbor boy began a crafty escape from his buckle in the wagon. Addison was crying because she had thrown her book out of the wagon and clearly it was my fault that she couldn't read it now. The wagon- tired from all our recent adventures- was creaking and groaning in protest as I tried to maneuver it out the door.

"They are both yours. I can't believe it. Wow you must be so busy. Gooood luck." He gave me a couple of extra back pats (free of charge!) while shaking his head and carefully backing away.

I smiled and kept my cool, telling myself that this appointment wasn't a total bust. I'm sure I did look like I was one missed nap time away from totally losing it- but I knew better. I had this.

And I truly believed it. Until I got home, unloaded Addison and the sweet neighbor boy, and discovered that the fly on my jeans was unzipped. And had been unzipped the entire appointment. You know when it's a really bad time to forget to zip your jeans? When you're all stretched out on the chiropractor table having your legs adjusted every which way to help with back issues.

Embarrassed? I don't have the energy to be embarrassed. The neighbors still haven't come to pick up their sweet little boy.

It's OK. The next time I see him I will have succumbed to the evil that is maternity pants. Because you know what maternity pants don't have? A zipper. Who cares about the expanding part. Those pants were invented for pregnancy brain. Pregnancy brain that refuses to remind you to take that one final zipping step.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I can't hear you to obey

Ever since we went to a new doctor and learned that Addison has hearing loss due to a problem in her middle ear (specifics to be discovered during a sedated test soon), her obedience has rapidly gone downhill.

"Addison, will you please walk toward the house?" As I lift her out of her car seat onto the path in front of the house. No response. Nuthin. Total ignore as she flies down the driveway toward the road.

"Addison, please don't dump out that bowl of snack." Nuthin. She dumps and then grinds them into the floor with a small victory dance.

"Addison please go to the bath." As I unbuckle her from the dinner table. Nuthin. She wanders off into the living room to find remotes to demand "SING."

"Addison, do you need to go potty?" Nuthin as she runs off to go terrorize Carter in a new, previously undiscovered way while gleefully going potty in her diaper.

I was becoming increasingly concerned about her hearing loss. Was I being too hard on her? I was disciplining her because she was disobeying, but was she disobeying because she couldn't hear me? It didn't seem fair to put her in time out for a command that maybe she didn't even hear? I started to rethink my entire parenting strategy and feel guilty for past decisions on how to handle her disobedience.

I was also becoming very frustrated. She wouldn't obey a single command- and Carter was learning and growing with his obedience like a champ. WHY WOULDN'T SHE OBEY?

The only logical assumption was that she couldn't hear me. The more I let up on her (because of this conclusion), the worse her behavior got.

And then, last week during music class (which Addison LOVES)...

The teacher said "Let's pretend to sleep on the floor" And Addison immediately dropped like she was born to pretend sleeping on the floor.

The teacher said "Tap your sticks together!" And Addison tapped her little heart out.

The teacher said "STOP tapping your sticks" And Addison stopped.

The teacher said "Find a circle on the floor and sit down." And Addison found a circle and plopped right down. No need to ask twice!

The teacher sang into her microphone "Yoo-hoo" and held the microphone to Addison's mouth and she sang back "Yoo-hoo" right in time.

The teacher said "Let's dance around in a circle." And Addison danced.

You get the picture.

After this class (and hearing another parent talk about how their three year old was going through a very stubborn phase), I realized- Addison might have some hearing loss (we'll know for sure after her test), but more importantly? She has the diagnosis of being a three year old. (A three year old who hates her mother...apparently.)

A very smart three year old who heard a doctor say that she couldn't hear very well...and immediately adjusted her behavior accordingly. A very smart three year old who knows JUST the right facial expressions to pretend like she doesn't understand and to send her mother in a tizzy, rethinking every single request and consequence.

You know you're a special needs parent when you're both incredibly frustrated and yet undeniably proud over the exact same behavior.  Now, if I could only figure out how to best my little genius at this game....we will all come out winners.

Anyone else go through a phase like this with your three year old? How long did it last? How did you work through it?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

He is passing her up

Something is happening that I knew was coming, but I guess I didn't realize how fast it would happen.

Carter is passing Addison up.

And I don't feel about this the way I thought I would.

I am so immensely proud of Carter. How fast he learns, how athletic he seems, how sharp his memory is, how he interacts with me on such a big boy level. In fact, so many instances I am shocked (in a good way) and oh so proud because of things he does or says and I wonder if this is part of what I missed out on with Addison's diagnosis.

The other day we were headed back from Costco. The kids were buckled up. We were leaving the parking lot. And Carter started saying "Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy. Mommy." I answered every time, but he waited until I turned around and gave him eye contact. Then, with a subtle batting of his lashes and cute little boy grin, he said "Cookie" with grave importance that clearly I had forgotten something. The last time we had been to Costco (over a week before) I felt bad that there weren't any good samples and I had been depending on that to be their snack. So I broke a cookie in half and let them eat it on the way home. I did that ONCE and he remembered enough to ask for it over a week later. And he only asked for it coming away from that one specific store- the one he had gotten a cookie from before.

Yesterday he was watching a few minutes of a movie and he must have gotten thirsty. I saw him go into the kitchen, open the drawer of bottles (since he can't reach the cups), take out a bottle bottom, go to the bathtub, turn on the cold water, fill up his cup, turn the water back off, and settle back in the living room with his drink and a movie. He never even asked me for a drink. He just got it. Mind blown.

Today in the grocery store we were picking up thank you candy bars for Addison's teachers. It was just the two of us and we were getting just the one thing, so I didn't get a cart. I let him walk on his own like the big boy that he has become. When I let him choose which direction we were to go? He walked quite confidently around several turns directly to the bakery section, went to the glass display case, turned to me and said "muffin." When given a choice, he directed me to the muffins (that is a pretty usual snack for us in the grocery store since blueberry is Addison's favorite) all on his own in the big grocery store.

You may be rolling your eyes at me because these are all very normal toddler accomplishments. I know that. But the thing is that Addison- my first born- at almost three and a half has never done these things.

With Addison I have been stuck in this weird/awkward toddler phase for a long time. She isn't a baby anymore, but she hasn't progressed into independent big girl. This morning before preschool she emptied out a bookcase, dumped a box of cereal all over the kitchen, and scattered a box of toys all over the living room. These are things that we have worked and worked and worked and worked on her NOT doing and yet she refuses to learn.  Therefore, at three and a half= stuck in awkward toddler phase.

Carter was in the awkward toddler phase for a while too, but now he is doing something amazing. He is growing out of it and making some serious progress with obeying. To this mother it's like watching the sun rise for the first time. It brings me hope that life can someday advance beyond a disaster of a house and frustration when it comes to obedience.

As the person who loves Addison and Carter the most, it is very obvious to me that they are working on different intellectual levels. As I watch the different ways they learn and work with them to grow- I can see it clear as day. I can see a bit of what Down syndrome has robbed from Addison.

I thought that this would make me feel bad. I thought that this would sting and hurt like crazy. I thought that I would be resentful of what Addison can't do. Or perhaps resentful of what Carter can do so easily.

But the truth is?

When I tiptoe into Carter's room at night to check on him, my heart swells with love and my eyes eagerly take him in. I see his tall frame sprawled out in his crib. I see chubby hands clutching his blanket. I see long eye lashes brushing his rosy cheeks. I see lips that are resting up to give me more kisses tomorrow. My love for him is so overwhelming I can barely stand it. He is my little boy. He is amazing. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings for him.

When I tiptoe into Addison's room at night to check on her, my heart swells with love and my eyes eagerly take her in. I see her cuddled up so sweetly on her new toddler bed. I see her curls resting gently on her pillow. I see her legs tucked up underneath her. I see lips that give the best smiles in the entire world. I see the closed eyes that I know are resting up to be full of sparkle and mischief yet another day. My love for her is so overwhelming I can barely stand it. She is my little girl. She is amazing. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings for her.

I thought it would hurt to see Carter pass Addison up. But it doesn't. It just is.

I am so immensely proud of Carter. I am so immensely proud of Addison.

Addison's accomplishments are quite different than Carter's. And on paper, perhaps she doesn't always come across so great. But in real life? Totally different story. I think I am the luckiest mother in the world to be able to mother and love two totally different, totally opposite, totally crazy children. Even though they are different- they are still equal. My son. My daughter. Two halves of my whole heart.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Pregnancy vs. Third Pregnancy

I've been laughing at myself a bit with how differently I think about this pregnancy than I did my first one. I'm not saying that these thoughts are true for every first time/third time pregnant woman. Just my own personal experience (with a slight exaggeration on certain points for the sake of humor). Enjoy.

Morning sickness:
First Pregnancy: The whole world needs to STOP and recognize how SICK I am and feel SO SORRY for me! I must lie on my couch for MONTHS and be pampered!!!
Third Pregnancy: Eh, life goes on. I'll carry a plastic bag in my purse.

The bump "popping":
First Pregnancy: Have I popped? Is this belly the baby or is it that huge burger I ate for lunch? Am I the right size for this number of weeks? Am I getting too fat too fast?
Third Pregnancy: Huh, a belly. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

Names:
First Pregnancy: I just had a positive pregnancy test! I must come up with a baby name RIGHT NOW. I must set aside EVERYTHING until I have a girl and a boy name chosen. NOTHING ELSE MATTERS.
Third Pregnancy: I hope my delivery nurse has a nice name that could be used for either gender.

Maternity Clothes:
First Pregnancy: Is it too soon to wear the closet full of maternity clothes I bought at four weeks? Does this make my bump look bigger or smaller? Should the band cover my stomach or not? Which styles make me look the cutest???
Third Pregnancy: Add extra tall black trash bags to grocery list.

Telling everyone:
First Pregnancy: I'M PREGNANT! Whoohoooooo!!!! When should I tell everyone? I want to tell them now, but is it too early? I feel like they can tell just by looking at me. This secret is killing me! MUST.TELL.NOW.
Third Pregnancy: I wonder if the family will notice when we bring another child to Christmas?

Birth Plans:
First Pregnancy: What will labor actually be like? Should I type and notarize my birth plan? Will it really hurt that bad? Can I make it drug free? Why don't people look me in the eye when I talk about my high pain tolerance? It's going to be so magical!!!!
Third Pregnancy: Is it too late to talk about a surrogate?

The Nursery:
First Pregnancy: I need a theme. The right colors. The room must be painted and ready to go by the time I hit twenty-five weeks. The crib and personalized bedding must be ready by thirty weeks. This is the most important thing that I can do as a mother. I need to make it perfect!
Third Pregnancy: A nursery theme? LOL. You're killing me here. Is "you-better-sleep-really-well-or-else" a theme?

Parenting Ideas:
First Pregnancy: I am NOT going to make all of those mistakes that I see my friends making. I am going to do it RIGHT and follow all the good things from my reading list of fifty of the best parenting books. I am going to rock parenting!
Third Pregnancy: I'm just going to take this one day at a time and hope that I don't screw my children up too badly. Those parenting books make awesome doorstops, and my friends are total rockstars that I learn from daily.

Eating:
First Pregnancy: I can eat ANYTHING I want! I'm pregnant! It will all go away super fast with breastfeeding!
Third Pregnancy: Yes, I absolutely CAN eat a second helping of that yummy cake. But I will regret it later. Greatly. Regret. It. The baby does NOT absorb the extra calories. My thighs do.

List of Dos and Don'ts:
First Pregnancy: OH MY GOODNESS I can't believe I almost drank one ounce of coffee over my daily limit. Phew. That was so close! I hope that my baby can forgive me (insert sob).
Third Pregnancy: Coffee. Necessary. Baby will understand once he/she meets siblings.

Gender:
First Pregnancy: Girl or boy? Boy or girl? Pink or blue? This is LIFE CHANGING, and I can't believe I have to wait until TWENTY WEEKS to know my DESTINY!
Third Pregnancy: We have one of each. This baby is getting hand-me-downs either way. As long as he/she looks good covered in little toddler hugs and kisses, I think we're good. Since I can't change the outcome whatsoever, I'm just going to focus on survival and not think about it too much.

Doctor's Appointment:
First Pregnancy: I cannot WAIT until my next doctor's appointment. I feel such a connection to my wee little baby when I'm sitting on that sterile table and hearing all about pregnancy from my fantastic doctor!
Third Pregnancy: I lucked out and found a BABY SITTER for this appointment, so I hope that the half hour of peace and quiet lasts forever and serves smoothies. Wait, why am I here again?

Anyone else notice a slight perspective shift from your first pregnancy to later ones? Dish! What comparisons put a smile on your face?

(I will do a post later in the week summing up our week of adventures. If you want to follow along daily, feel free to check us out on Instagram! user name: eanfe)



Monday, June 10, 2013

Creating Adventure Day 1

Today we began our 30 days of adventure. Because of the flexibility required of toddlers, weather, and tired pregnant mama- I have decided to take this one day at a time. Because of that I don't have our entire month planned out to share with you. This might be more a looking back share as in "look what we did yesterday" instead of what we're planning to do tomorrow. Also, I will not be doing a post on this every day. I just figured I would kick off the first day with an entire post dedicated to it.

Today we had a morning of speech therapy, and I had a doctor's appointment in the afternoon, so I figured we would take a walk down by Lake Champlain while we were already out that direction.

Of course, the day went JUST AS I PLANNED. As luck would happen (or perhaps, nap karma), Speech therapy did not tire out the children as much as usual. Therefore, they fought naptime, and didn't finally fall asleep until a short while before I had to wake them up for my 16 week appointment. Because of wanting to let them sleep as long as possible, we were then running late for my appointment. We hit every red light there and then were even more late. (We were thankful for Grandma's help with the kids during the appointment!) Once settled on the table, the doctor took forever to find the heartbeat (as in had to go get different equipment to try again. gulp.) We hit a lot of traffic trying to make our way to our destination, and I took a wrong turn and parked in a parking garage so shady I half expected my car to be sold for parts while we were adventuring. (See why I said flexibility will be the theme of my challenge?)

But once we arrived, we walked
and shared a gink
and learned how to say BIRD
and BOAT.
We stayed on the sidewalk and all walked in the same general direction (VICTORY!)
We charmed every stranger we passed by(and by we...I mean Addison.)
We rested on a bench
and located a cremee stand.
 This is where the serious education began.
 Eating a cremee = every Vermont child's summer duty. And to new little children- eating a cremee with just enough speed and circling of the cone as to not lose precious ice cream to dripping? This needs education. And lots of practice.
So there you have it. I get nervous about taking them on outings like this by myself because usually they run off in opposite directions screaming stuff like "KIDNAP ME!" But today they listened; they obeyed; they followed the scent to the ice cream. I'm going to call this progress. 
And when you look like this at the end of an adventure? You know it was a good one.
I loved the extra push to do an extra something with my kids this afternoon. Without this challenge, we would have just headed home after the doctor's appointment and avoided housework. This was a much more fun way to avoid housework. AND it didn't get any worse by toddlers tearing it apart all afternoon. WIN. 

If any of you are doing fun summer adventures with your kids- feel free to tell us about them in the comment section. If you want to tag a picture on Instagram use #creatingtoddleradventure and we can collect activity ideas that way too. I'm hoping at the end of this challenge to do one giant post of summer toddler activity ideas. If you want to be included in that post- hop on board! Don't feel any pressure to have to do one every single of the 30 days. Even if you only get a few in we still want to hear about them! And goodness knows they don't have to be elaborate ideas. Mine won't be! Sometimes your most basic plans can be the inspiration that another family is looking for. And if none of you want to join in the fun? Totally fine too. This challenge has already brightened up a Monday here. I'm hoping for a fun 30 days to focus on adventuring with my kids.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Creating Adventure

Ever since posting yesterday, I have done a lot of thinking. I have been a bit buried by life this week, but the thing that I felt the worst about? Was thinking that this would be my children's summer.

They are in such a fun, amazing stage. They are so curious about everything and all they really want is to live a life of happiness.

While doing some painting yesterday (painting is so therapeutic!), it occurred to me that one of the things that makes me the happiest and helps me forget whatever physical woes I might be experiencing with pregnancy is taking my children on adventures and watching them experience life to the fullest.

For me its easy to think "Oh this would be fun. The kids would love this! We'll try that....next week because I don't feel well today." And then next week rolls around and it doesn't happen yet again. But the truth is if I just push myself to go out with the kids, oftentimes the activity helps me get my mind off of not feeling well and tricks me into feeling just a little bit better. (The getting out the door part is the worst part.)

So while pondering how to fix this dilemma, I had this crazy thought that I wanted to challenge myself. A challenge to seek out and create adventure for my children at least once a day. And since I'm not sure how it will go- I limited the challenge to 30 days.

Granted, these adventures will most likely not be super fancy or elaborate- they may be as simple as taking their dinner out into the front lawn with a blanket and calling it a picnic. But it will be thinking outside the box. Getting us out of the house. Experiencing and creating adventure through the eyes of two toddlers- even if it wouldn't be deemed "adventure" by children even a few years older.

Since my husband works insane hours in the summer, oftentimes I feel tied to a very limited social calendar. This challenge will be me to stop saying "Well, if Aaron was home we could do this as a family" and to just DO IT with the children because they deserve more than my excuses.

I want to say that at least one of the adventures a week will include me making a bigger effort with my own social life (playdates, hosting barbecues, etc). My idealistic mind is saying "YES", but we'll see if that part actually happens.

As far as the other stuff goes (laundry, housework, dishes), I'm OK if I don't win any awards for that. Notice this is not a 30 day challenge to a cleaner house or anything. I haven't been able to stand spending any time in the kitchen the past few weeks because of morning sickness, and hopefully that will pass so that I can make awesome food for our outings. But I'm not putting any pressure on myself either way. This isn't about the food or the super clean house- this is about my kids.

This challenge is me making a conscious effort to focus on the one thing that is the most important thing in my life right now- my children. They will only be this young once, and I want to make this a summer full of memories. This challenge is me recognizing that I can't do it all, so I want to spend my energy where it matters most.

Anyone up for joining me on this 30 challenge to creating adventure? I realize this might sound a bit crazy coming from the lady who yesterday moaned about how she couldn't get up off her bed, but I think that a challenge like this is just what I need to make me keep going through the pregnancy sickness (since it probably isn't going away any time soon).

I'm going to start my 30 days on Monday of adventure creating (June 10th), and I will post updates and pictures of our adventures. I won't be posting every day. I'll just lump the adventures together into posts whenever I get the chance to post.

Also, I wish I could think of a better title. "Creating Adventure" is nice, but doesn't sound very original. Anyone have any challenge title ideas for me????

Now if you excuse me, I have to go make a list of potential activities. I bought a pass to Indian Brook Reservoir yesterday, the pool opens soon, and Lake Champlain is just begging for a lakeside stroll from us downtown....but 30 days is a lot of adventure for us to fill! Gotta have options... (suggestions for low-key toddler adventures welcome!) #creatingtoddleradventure

p.s. Thank you so much for all of your comments and emails yesterday. I love and appreciate all of you!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When You Get Knocked Down...

This is probably one of those posts that will get all typed out and then deleted because goodness knows we're not supposed to air any sort of dirty laundry on the internet. No sireeee. We are all supposed to be perfect and inspirational and never ever have a bad day.

I have weeks where I really rock out my job as stay-at-home mom. The meals are well thought out and perfectly executed. The laundry stays caught up with. The house is clean at least once a day. The children are taken on field trips, therapies, and play dates. Life is awesome and I spend most of my time overcome with thankfulness with how extremely blessed I am.

Other weeks are lived in a bit of a survival mode. All of those same things get done- just with not as much finesse and perhaps get done a day late and a dollar short. Because my personality thrives on survival mode, these weeks still lead me to believe that life is awesome and I am extremely blessed.

And then I have the rare week- like this week- where none of those things get done and I bribe my children with cookies to please leave me alone so that I can rest for just fifteen minutes longer. Yes. I really said that.

This pregnancy (up until this week) I have felt physically better than I did my first two pregnancies, but emotionally it has been way more rocky than both of the other two pregnancies combined. Add in a cold this week, some intensifying pregnancy sickness, and paying for overdoing it last week with extra exhaustion- and you have me at my very finest.

It all started last Thursday when I chose two minutes of blessed peace over checking what my children were doing. When I went to find them (after the very short two minutes), they had broken a piggy bank into my dresser. Glass interspersed with coins were everywhere. Tiny shards hidden in my pjs, larges pieces resting on the carpet- it was a mess. Thankfully the children weren't hurt at all, but I knew what  I needed to do- deep clean our master bedroom.

Our bedroom gets the least amount of attention of any other room in the house. Because I can shut the door, and the rest of the house (aka the visible part) gets first priority- our master bedroom gets shamefully awful. Every once in a while I have to set aside a day and bust through it. Glass hidden throughout one corner of the room? Seemed like a sign from heaven.

A sitter came Friday afternoon, and I tackled the large, much-needed project. Of course on that same day it was one billion and 92 degrees, so heat stroke very well may have been involved in this project.

I wanted to stop and rest so many times, but since I only had a sitter that one day I HAD TO GET IT DONE. Dripping with sweat and exhausted, I finished the massive cleaning project just in time (hours and hours later). Whoohoo! Success!

That night I collapsed on the couch. Saturday I felt super sluggish. Sunday I came down with a cold. And it's been downhill ever since. The positive side? I have a super clean, glass-free master bedroom to rest in. The negative side? My job doesn't stop so that I can rest.

The only moral to the story that I can come up with is that clearly cleaning is evil. But that doesn't seem quite right so I'll keep pondering it.

I share this because it's Wednesday, and I guess I should post sometime this week (although deleting this blog was definitely a thought these past few days of emotional and physical low.)

I guess I want to know- what inspires you? What kicks you back into gear when you want to stop? What instills the feeling of "life is awesome" even when you're flat on your back and feeling like absolute poo?

Share with me some happy thoughts. Pretty please? Because this week isn't over yet, and I want need to revive- for the sake of the cookie-eating children in my care.

Insert happy thoughts.......now.







Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Sore Throat And The Desperate Need

We were late to church- again. Those pesky ten minutes sneak up on us no matter how early we head out the door. We dropped the kids off at nursery, surprised when Addison decided to chose that moment as her first "THEY'RE LEAVING ME" fit.

We settled in the back of the church. I was happy that morning sickness chose to leave me alone this morning. I was feeling stylish and pretty in my favorite chevron black and white maxi skirt, with a black sleeveless top and a bold red necklace. I leaned into my husband's strong arm beside me and relished this opportunity to just be us.

It was a good morning.

Except for the small fact that I woke up with a teeney sore throat. As we rushed out the door with two dressed toddlers in hand, it was nothing a good throat clearing couldn't fix. But as I sat through the song service, testimonies, and announcements, this teeney sore throat escalated to an all-consuming painful thing that I couldn't take my mind off of. In fact, as the service went on, I pictured the little frog in my throat swelling to the size of my entire body- suffocating me- searing like fire in the back of my throat. I couldn't not think about it. And the more I thought about it- the worse it got until my breathing became tiny wisps of strangled fear. Fear that I would get one of those frantic choking fits right in the quietest moments of church- communion, anyone?

I wasn't going to make it through the service. Enter: request to husband.

"I really need you to go get me a drink."

pause.

I added (as an afterthought) "please." We were in church- after all.

"What?" He looked confused. Stricken. The sermon had just started and the congregation was all settled quietly in place. I had never made a request like this before of him, but I was desperate, and the frog in my throat had somehow paralyzed my legs. Plus, the drink station was at the FRONT of the church and a lot of people were watching.

After some hoarse whispers and the biggest cow eyes (yes that's a thing) I could muster, he begrudgingly got up to go fetch because it was clear that in that moment, I needed him....and his coffee fetching prowess. And he's super sweet like that.

He chose to leave from the back of the church, go down stairs and re-enter up in the front from a different staircase. I watched him carefully- his curly head bobbing up at the front of the congregation- trying to locate the decaf coffee for his ailing wife.

I (along with hundreds of other people) watched him ever so meticulously measure out just the right amount of cream and sugar until it was a certain color (he has a bachelors degree in chemistry- he is the master at mixing the perfect coffee blend.)

I could see that he felt rather sheepish about his delivery assignment, but he loved me so he was OK with enduring a little public show to get me my much-needed hot beverage. Plus, he had to sit the rest of the service next to my pinching fingers....jk...sort of.

His curly head bobbed all the way back to the door, and within seconds he was returning from the back of the church, awkward look on his face, and a steaming cup of perfect decaf coffee in his hands.

I had never loved him more. The frog in my throat began a farewell dance.

As my wonderful husband approached our pew, holding out the hot Styrofoam cup to me, something went a bit wrong. In his version of the story, my hand was unsteady when I took the cup from him. In my version of the story, the cup trembled before it made its way into my hand.

Whatever the truth (my version), in that moment suspended over me, the cup tipped. Just enough to send scalding just-the-right-color coffee all over my beautifully stylish black and white chevron skirt. As my thigh screamed from the burns, my skirt instantly became discolored all down the right side, and my husband's face became 100% more sheepish- I reached for the brochure on marriage counseling in the pew in front of me.

He took his seat next to me, offering up a used Kleenex out of his pocket to help mop up the spill. The people around us stared briefly at the husband/wife coffee spilling team and quietly asked- where were their drinks from the delivery boy.

I was no longer feeling stylish and pretty. I was covered in coffee. Now it had cooled down and was just a giant puddle of wet on my lap. But the sermon still had 40 minutes to go, so I tipped what was left of the offending cup to my lips, took a swallow, and instantly felt the world right itself.

Who cares that I was covered in coffee? I had a cup of the best coffee in the world soothing the scratchiest throat in the world while sitting next to the man who loves me the most in the world. It's settled. Coffee truly does possess magical qualities (except when worn on the lap as a puddle-like accessory).

I sipped slowly on that cup throughout the service- enjoying the brew, the creamer/sugar blend, and the memory of the look on my husband's face when he spilled the carefully obtained coffee all over my lap.  I leaned back onto my husband's strong arm as we enjoyed the moment just being us. Coffee covered, fit of giggles, wry glances between us- us.

I think for Father's Day this year one of his gifts might be a coffee stained tie. What? It will be a nice tie.