Category Archives: Family Life

Surprise!

Since almost anyone who reads this knows me personally, I probably do not have to announce that THIS post was a bit premature.

When I first began acknowledging the possibility that I might be pregnant, I decided I was probably overreacting.  I’m getting older and my body isn’t going to work like clockwork anymore.  As the days passed, it became harder to deny.  When I finally took the test and was faced with the reality that we were bringing another child into the world, I realized just how much I’d been in denial. Baby

Once the initial shock and panic wore off, there were many things to consider.  Where will this new child sleep? Will our family fit in our car? How will we pay for two in day-care?

Surprisingly, I also felt irresponsible.  I am a highly-educated woman with a full understanding of how reproduction works.  How could this have happened? I mean, I know how it happened, but still…..  I’m such a control freak about everything – how could I have let this happen?

Once we reached the point when we were ready to tell people, I was shocked at how many of my friends – very intelligent, well-spoken women – confided in me that they too had been surprised by their third child.  There is a whole community of unexpected third babies out there I never knew about.

Jim expressed concerns about our third child one day knowing she (yes, it’s a girl) was not planned.  I completely understand why he feels this way.  No one wants to be an “oops” or considered a mistake, but I don’t see it that way.  She is not a mistake, she’s a surprise.  I suspect, although we had never envisioned our lives with her, once she’s here I imagine we will not be able to imagine our lives without her.

Talkin’ Toddler

ToddlerToddler-speak is one of my favorite things to observe.  Listening to them explore language is so fascinating. 2-yo is right in the thick of this developmental stage and he is not afraid to try new phases and words.  Some of my favorites include:

“What da Heck?!”

He learned this one from his grandfather.  We scold him every time he uses it, but he seems to enjoy the reaction it gets.  I guess it could be far worse.

“Udder-buddies”

He uses this word in place of “everybody” but I think he’s really saying “other buddies,” as in, “there’s me, then there are the other buddies.”

“What’s your name, dude?”

No idea where this came from.  He just started using it.

 “Pup-take” and “Pan-take”

Sounds that come from the back of the tongue are particularly difficult for 2yo and he’s only mastered saying them at the ends of words, so this is how he pronounces “cupcake” and “pancake.”

 “Ightning A-teen”

I suspect this is also how John Travolta would introduce “Lightning McQueen” at the Oscars.

 “______ening”

Recently, 2yo has started adding “en” before the “ing” in most words.  So, “working” becomes “workening” and “pooping” becomes “poopening.”  As in, “(grunt) no I not poopening in my diaper! (grunt)”

 “Butt”

Our poor friend, Brett.

 

 

Past Bedtime

I’m showered and in my pajamas, reading a book in bed.  The kids have been tucked in for two hours at this point.  Suddenly, I hear a door open.  I’m not sure which child is up until our door is opened without a knock.  In toddles the cutest person in our house, all smiles and giggles.  He rushes to my side of the bed with a big smile and a “hi mommy!”monster

This is a parenting test.  I know what I’m supposed to do.  I’m supposed to get up and walk him back to his room, explaining that it’s bed time and he needs to stay in bed until it’s light outside.  He needs to learn that night time is for sleeping, not for playing.  He needs boundaries.

My mind flashes to the future.  I see the cutest person as a teenage boy.  Perhaps he’s moody and sullen.  Maybe he’s a polite, well-spoken young man.  If he follows in the footsteps of his father (who followed in the footsteps of his own father), he’ll be a smart-ass with a beautiful heart who will do anything for anyone in need.  No matter who he becomes, he’s not going to want to snuggle in bed at night and, quite frankly, neither will his mother.  This moment is a fleeting opportunity.

So I grab my smiling, giggling little boy and lift him into the bed.  He immediately snuggles up to me and I feel the softness of his fleece footie pajamas – the ones covered in “ah-panes!” I kiss his head and we tickle and giggle together.  He sucks his thumb and tucks his head under my chin.  As I hold him close, I’m reminded of how children seem to be shaped to fit the contours of our bodies.  In a few years, he’ll feel boney and angular like his sister, but for now he still feels like a baby with his squishy legs and round belly.

After a few minutes, I pick him up and carry him to bed.  I tuck him in and kiss him, telling him he needs to stay in bed until morning.

And he does.

Test passed.

Birthday Lesson Learned

Recently, 6yo became 7yo.

Because weekdays are bad for everybody, her birthday party was held on a Sunday.  It was a small affair with family and a few close friends.  No theme, just some cute $.97 disposable table cloths, a few balloons, and cake that 7yo specifically designed herself. We barbequed some chicken and ate fresh-picked sweet corn.  Nothing big, nothing expensive. hopebday

Last year, when she turned 6, the birthday production was much bigger.  The Saturday before her birthday, there were two parties.  The first was a kid’s pirate themed party, complete with crafts, a scavenger hunt, a pirate-ship cake, and a giant pile of presents. I had ordered every pirate decoration offered from Oriental Trading.  Kids left with eye-patches, telescopes, plastic gold doubloons, head scarves, candy, and a treasure chest they designed themselves. Once the under-10 crowd dispersed, we were joined by family and a few close friends for a second, more low-key party (and a second cake).  On the actual day of her birthday, Jim and I took her downtown to celebrate with dinner at the restaurant of her choosing and stops in all of her favorite local shops followed by desert in her favorite ice cream parlor.

At the end of 2012, when I was working to organize our photos for the year, it became apparent to me that we may have gone overboard.  So, this year, we decided to scale it down a bit.  As I was putting the tablecloths on the folding tables in our yard, I second-guessed myself for a moment – would it be enough?  Will she be upset that this year’s festivities don’t compare to last year’s?

Of course she wasn’t.

Not once did she say “aren’t more kids coming?” or “why aren’t there games and prizes?”  She thought her birthday party was perfect.

Lesson learned.

 

 

Rocks….so much fun.

I love rocks. Who doesn’t?

Granted, they’re not very fun when you’re digging….or when they hit your car…..or when you’re caught in a landslide…or when you’re being stoned to death.

Other than that, rocks are awesome.  After all, the wise man built his house upon the rocks. If he was really wise he would’ve built his house on Boulder Field because those rocks have been there for 20,000 years. But he didn’t, so the government took it over and turned it into a tourist attraction.Hickorya6

There’s some story about how glacial melt caused rocks to break and somehow magically end up there, but I choose to believe that there’s really an Asgard ship (Stargate, not Marvel) hidden beneath the 12 feet of rocks.  One day, when we need it, those little gray geniuses will send us a code to turn it on and Richard Dean Anderson will fly it out of the ground with his mind.

Or not.

Until then, tourists will skip from rock to rock (some more gracefully than others) and write stupid stuff on them, like “I love Betty” and “Shane rocks!”  By the way, very funny, Shane (who writes his name with an S shaped like a lightning bolt).  How clever of you to demonstrate your understanding of homonyms on a 700 pound rock that was just minding it’s own business.

Is it August Yet?

Despite common assumptions, most teachers do not go into the profession because they have off for the summer.  I would be perfectly fine (in fact, I would prefer) if the school system changed to be year-round with shorter breaks between semesters or trimesters.

That being said, the summer does have its advantages.summer

Some things I love about summer include:

  • Morning snuggles with my kids.
  • No make-up!!
  • Sometimes, I don’t wash my hair for days.
  • Grocery shopping during the day.
  • The possibility of squeezing in a short nap in the afternoon while 1yo takes his.
  • Less pressure to get to sleep at a decent hour.
  • The absence of the dark cloud that hangs over Sunday night.

Even with all these benefits, it’s at this point in the summer that I start to feel the itch to go back to school. I am not disciplined enough to be at home all the time.  I admire stay-at-home-parents who can keep their families on a productive schedule, but I am not like that.  I thrive when I’m busy.  In fact, I would even go so far as to say that I am a better parent when I am busy.

I may eat my words next week when I’m gone all day to teach at an integrated arts camp, but I suspect not.  In the meantime, I will continue to wear ponytails and declare afternoon snuggle times.

The Witching Hour

My children are generally happy and content kids.  When I’m home with them in the summers we have very nice days.  During the school year, they are both happy where they are.  They are easy to manage and fun to be with.  The older one is very helpful and creative. The younger one is still extremely cute and takes nice long naps in the afternoon.  They make life pretty easy.

But every day has a witching hour. Your family probably has one, too.witching2

For us, it usually falls around 4:00, right as I get home from work.  Suddenly, everyone becomes whiny, bored, and hungry – despite having just had a snack an hour ago.  You don’t want to give them more snacks because dinner (which you’re trying to get started) is just around the corner.  The little one is grabbing at your leg saying “Up! Up!” and you eventually have to put him on the other side of the gate so he doesn’t get burned or trampled. He starts to cry as he attempts to climb the gate, all the while still screaming “Up!UUUUUPPP!” witching1

The older one, having used up all of her allotted TV time earlier in the day or week, is now “sooooo boooorrrredd” and “no” she doesn’t “want to go outside and play.”  Trying to be a hands-on parent, you invite her to come help with dinner.  When she enters the kitchen, the little one screams louder because he’s not also allowed in the kitchen.  Eventually, he starts throwing things over the gate, some of which land in the dog’s water.  In attempting to help pour ingredients, the older one ends up spilling something on the floor.  Even though you maintained your temper, she starts crying inconsolably. You can’t believe there are still four hours until bedtime.witching3

At that moment, your spouse walks in the door from work.  All you want to do is shout “Please take them! It’s been a long day and I’m just trying to make dinner!”  But you can tell from his face that it’s been an exceptionally long and stressful day for him, so you decide to give him a chance to settle himself.  Somehow, after burning a few things (and possibly yourself) you finally get dinner on the table.  You carefully portion out the amounts of vegetables everyone is required to eat before they can leave the table.  You then get up three or four times to get the forgotten spoons, condiments, and napkins.  Finally, you get to sit down to your (now cold) dinner.  Whew.

Jim and I have both played this role.  It’s just part of the parenting journey.   Years from now, when we come home to a quiet house and fix our simple dinner-for-two, we may even miss it.

For now, I’ll just make sure there’s always a cold beer in the fridge to have after dinner

Vacation, in Two Words

After a 10-hour drive that turned into a 13-hour drive home (due to traffic and potty stops), the kids and I are back from vacation.  I won’t spend 1000 words or more recounting every fun thing we did.  Here are some highlights in two words or less:

Wave jumping:DSCN0023

 Sand play:DSCN0100

 Mmm.….seafood:vacafoodMmm…..water ice:DSCN0042

 Big fishies:Aquariumb3

Family Fun:DSCN0104

 

We missed Jim very much, but otherwise it was a wonderful vacation!

 

Road Tripping

This week, while I’m on vacation, I’ll be blogging from my phone. Expect some weak editing. But go ahead and judge. I’ll be in a beach chair soaking up the sun with my toes in the water.

The kids and I spent 12 hours driving to our beach vacation destination yesterday. Overall, it was a successful and exhausting drive that we get to repeat in reverse in a few days.

This is not the first time I’ve taken a road trip without Jim, but it is the first time I’ve travelled by myself with a one-year-old. Fortunately, my kids are 5 1/2 years apart, so my family comes with its own little Mommy’s Helper. She’s great — you should get one. All of 1yo’s needs can be tended to by his big sister next to him.

Also, although I never really use Siri (on my IPhone) other than to antagonize her by asking for definitions to dirty words, she is now my best not-actually-alive friend (sorry, Teddy Ruxpin). I just plug my phone into my car’s speakers and turn on the Apple driving directions app and Siri becomes the best navigator anyone could ask for. She even gave me incremental warnings for upcoming turns. Not once did she wait until I passed an exit to say “Oh, that was it!” She also let me pick all the music.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to the drive back, but I am looking forward to seeing Jim when I get there. I’m also optimistic that the kids and Siri will be as cooperative as they were on the way down.

20130617-203946.jpg

Fatherliness

Happy Father’s Day to anyone who has or has been a father.

Here’s shot of my father, with my family, looking fatherly at a wedding in November of 1983:

I think my favorite part is my brother's face.  At just under 2, had had no idea why he was in a white tux carrying a pillow.

I think my favorite part is my brother’s face. At just under 2, had had no idea why he was in a white tux carrying a pillow.

 

Here’s a shot of my father with the father of my children:

Any guesses where they are in this pic?

Any guesses where they are in this pic?

 

Anyway, father-filled or not, I hope everyone has a wonderful day today.