Category Archives: The Dream vs. The Reality

labor pains for the husband (more out-takes from 2012…)

More stories from the last few months…

Actual text message exchange between my husband and me, two weeks before baby H was due last October.  My husband left for work that morning hoping to finish early enough to attend T’s class picnic dinner.  I texted him that afternoon, as I was packing the picnic basket.

The exchange…

Me:  “Leaving soon.  Should I pack a sandwich for you?”

His response: “WHAT?!  Leaving for the hospital?  Are you in labor?”

My response: “Leaving for T’s picnic.”

Send.

Then, unable to resist, me again…

“But I love that you think I would be at home, with three children, in labor, needing to get to the hospital, and would stop everything to text you and see if I should pack you a sandwich.”

My husband: “Ha, Ha.  I’ll take turkey.”

In all fairness to my husband, I did have him (and myself, and my sister who was visiting and helping us) spooked, announcing on several occasions that I thought I was in labor before the actual event.  The best false alarm was when I was having contractions 4-5 minutes apart while sitting on the couch, encouraging him to pack his bag and load the car.  When he was completely ready, I got up and said we should leave as soon as I had eaten something (knowing they wouldn’t let me have anything at the hospital…)  Mid-snack, the contractions stop completely and I said, “Huh.  I think the contractions stopped!  I really do.  I think we can just go to bed.”

To which my husband replied, “You’re kidding, right?  Because it’s 10pm, and I just chugged 3 Mt. Dews!

Sheepish silence from me.

Uncontrollable laughter from my sister!

(Oh, newborn baby H, the main thing you should take from these stories is that your daddy was very, very eager to meet you.  We all were.  And you made us wait 6 days past your expected delivery date!)

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Why? Which character did you think I would be?

So my brain has been operating on a delay recently…

I could offer a litany of excuses: long-term sleep deprivation, pregnancy brain (I hear recent studies show it’s a real thing, you know…), an overwhelming end-of-school calendar, low iron-levels (which mean fatigue and slower cognitive function, apparently), or simply the one billion distractions that hit every day and cause me to lose focus on whatever task was supposed to be at hand…

What was I talking about again?

Oh, right…My brain…

Anyway, I asked my husband last week if he had noticed that my mental capacities seemed to be failing more often during these frenzied last few weeks of school.  He wisely responded, “That is a trick question that I refuse to answer.”

But kids will always tell you the truth, even when you don’t ask them.

Perhaps that’s why last week, after S had to remind me THREE times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge

(seriously, three of those “What was I doing in the kitchen again?” moments within a span of ten minutes…)

Anyway, after she had to remind me three times that I had been walking across the kitchen to get her drink out of the fridge, I finally said, “I’m so sorry, S!  I think there’s something wrong with my brain today!”

To which she responded, “I know!  You’re like Dory from Finding Nemo!”

She then launched into the song from the Finding Nemo musical.  Dory sings,

I guess I should explain…
I got this problem with my brain…
Things get really scrambled in my head…
I have no short term memory…
I forget things almost instantly…
I’m not even sure what I just said…

La La La La La La La…

Can you imagine?!  With all our expertise in every princess and heroine to ever grace the pages of a storybook, I am most closely associated with the forgetful fish.

Oh well.  At least Dory is known for being positive through it all.  I’ll just try to focus on that part of it, and do a better job of emulating her cheery outlook.  How does her other song go, again?  That’s right…

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.  Everything will be ok…

I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me. (alternate title: photo of the week)

I call this photo: “I won’t eat it, and you can’t make me.”

Yes, he has THREE pacifiers in his mouth.

This was a failed attempt at going sans high chair.  He took one look at his plate, hopped up to get his pacifiers, then staged this little sit in. Of course, it was so cute that I couldn’t be too upset.  (His mama is a softie, after all!)

Two additional notes:

(1) We are back in the high chair now.  No more hopping up to get pacifiers at dinner.

and

(2) This is with ham, mashed potatoes, and bananas in front of him…all things he will supposedly tolerate.  You should have seen what happened when I added a green vegetable to his plate!

Love you, T.  Even when you spew half chewed peas onto my dinner : )

Yellow and Blue Make Green!

Yellow and blue make green!

I added an exclamation to that sentence because my kids are all excited about that fact this week.

Want to know why?

Well, this week I finally got around to cleaning one of the bathrooms, which involved squirting that blue soap stuff in the toilet, and one of the kids asked me what would happen if they peed on it.  It turns out that – even in toilets – yellow and blue make green.

I post this just in case you were wondering what we do around our house for entertainment and in the name of scientific discovery.

And to prove again my point that cleaning the house is pretty much pointless when you have young children: one step forward (a pristine toilet!), then two (green!) giant steps back.

“Help me… Help you… Help ME help YOU!”

There are so many moments when – as a parent – I am desperately trying to help my kids do something that is good for them (i.e. get into a carseat, put on shoes, change into a clean diaper, etc.),  and they are resisting with all their might.

In one of these moments today, I actually said the words, “Help me help you.  Help ME help YOU!”

As soon as I said it, I realized I had just quoted a movie.

Anyone recognize it?

Anyone?

That’s right.

In my moments of greatest parenting desperation, I inadvertantly channel (not Dr. Phil, not any of the great mothers I know, but the one and only…) Jerry Maguire.

I thought that was very odd of me, so I went to youtube and watched that whole scene of the movie (1 minute, 2 seconds).  To my amazement, it actually sums up the worst emotions of a parent quite well.

Imagine yourself eliciting stares in the parking lot of the pediatrician’s office because your child is screaming at the top of her lungs that she “will not ride in a carseat!”  Or in the bathroom at Target completely covered in poop because your 1 year old won’t quit squirming on the changing table.

While all of you is loving your children (as I do mine, always, even – and especially when they need it – in those hard moments!), wouldn’t a tiny part of you be thinking this?

Jerry Maguire:

“I am OUT HERE for YOU.

YOU don’t know what it’s like to be ME out here for YOU.

It is an up-at-dawn, pride-swallowing siege that I will never fully tell you about.

OK?”

[Jerry attempts to pull his own hair out, then continues…]

“Help me…”

“Help me!”

“Help me…Help you…”

“Help ME Help YOU!”

The best part is that after this rant by Jerry, Rod sums up what my family would absolutely be thinking if I were ever to say all of this out loud.

Rod:   “You are hanging on by a very thin thread.”

(He then adds, “…and I dig that about you”, but I don’t know if my whole family would agree with that part : )

Here’s the youtube clip if you want to see the whole scene.  You just have to (1) mentally replace Jerry Maguire with me, and Rod with one of my children, (2) remember that the “Help me Help you!” was the only part I actually said out loud, and (3) remain non-judgmental by recalling that I am either being screamed at in a parking lot or being smeared with poop or had just taken newly shooed foot to the face when this internal “help me help you!” rant started.

In that spirit, here’s the link (And yes, my kids make that same facial expression sometimes!).

“Help ME help YOU!”

Ha!

(At least next time I’m in one of these positions, I will chuckle to myself remembering the movie!  My kids – who I love always! – are going to wonder why – in these moments – I start calling them “Rod”…)

Unique experiences; equal love (Alternate title: seriously, why do the roses hate me?)

Our church hosts a Daddy-daughter Valentine’s Day dance for girls ages 5 and up.  That meant that this year, E (age 5) was able to attend with her dad.  So fun…

Unless you’re S, who (turning 4 less than a week after the dance) was both too young to attend and too little to grasp the concept of “be happy for your sister; your time will come”.

So with a goal of “let’s create a special event for both girls and encourage them to celebrate each other’s good fortune” – my husband and I came up with the following plan:

(1)  Thursday night: Dad would take S to a Valentine’s event at a local kids’ museum.

(2)  Friday night: Dad would take E to the church Valentine’s dance

Two great events, positioned back-to-back… a perfect way to celebrate each girl in a way that would be unique and fun.

To perfect the plan, we used info from friends who had attended the events in previous years to make the nights match as much as we could in terms of tangible experience. For example, since E was getting a rose from the church on her date night, I took S to a flower shop and let her pick out any one flower she wanted for her date with dad.  As it turns out, the woman who ran the flower shop so appreciated what we were trying to do that she gave S a whole little bunch of lavender flowers for her special date.  And the man at the ice cream store next door caught wind of it and gave everyone with us a free miniature cone.

Have I set the stage completely enough?  Is everyone ready for the disaster to unfold?

On Thursday night, S – who loves her dates with dad more than anything in the world – cried at the ice cream shop because she wanted mom to come on the date too.

Mom explained that she could come too, but that she couldn’t leave E & T, so it would be a whole family event.  That was fine with S.  In fact, she was thrilled.

I was suspicious, because I know S is smart.  She is usually about 10 steps ahead of me in the emotional game.  But I am learning, so on this occasion, I recognized what was coming, and made sure to carefully explain that while it was fine for the whole family to go to the museum if that was what S really wanted, that would not mean the whole family was going to the church dance the next night.  The invitation had only been for kids 5 and older; it was not up to us.

S said she understood.

The whole family had a wonderful time at the museum (although mom had only packed dinner for S since everyone else was supposed to be traveling home, which meant we all had museum-served yogurt-covered pretzels for dinner.  Oh well.)

The next night was dad’s date with E.

As anticipated, the wonderful S (who is really still so very little…) cried when dad left for the dance with E and reminded all of us that she had included everyone on her special evening.  Mom decided to cushion the blow by offering dinner in a bowl with popcorn and a movie.  (And may I say, “whatever” with regards to the rapid decline in my mealtime offerings that week.  I decided in that moment that the whole concept of good nutritional choices on any days near a holiday – including Valentine’s Day –  is overrated and bunk.)

While at the dance Friday, E sweetly (unprompted by any adults) put the director of the event on the spot by asking if she could take home an extra rose for her sister.

(I hope the sensitivity and niceness of my children is coming through here…S making every effort to be all-inclusive; E doing everything in her 5 year old power to include S in the fun.)

The director of the event (who is God’s gift to children and families, in my honest opinion…I just love her…) commended E on her thoughtful nature and selected the two most beautiful roses – and I mean absolutely equally gorgeous – one for E to keep and one to surprise S with at home.

But here’s what those equally gorgeous roses looked like after a few days.

Can you tell from the image that one rose is blooming beautifully and one is totally dark and shriveled?  Fortunately, neither girl is focused on which rose is whose.  (Thank goodness I put all the flowers in the same vase without even thinking.)

But seriously, what are the chances?

We did everything we could – not to treat the girls the same… but to make them both feel as loved as possible in unique ways.

My final attempt at conveying a positive message to the girls is posting this story so that if someday, they ever feel like someone is being favored, they can see how – from the very beginning (I mean they are too young to even remember these events!) – we were working very hard to celebrate them individually, in different ways but with equal vigor!

Even when the roses fail us, we will never give up on that effort!

(I may give up on the roses, though.  Can I ask again… what are the chances of that after everything that was done?!)

Oh well.

Love you, S.  Love you, E.  (Both of you, so much.)

(And T, so you will know you are equally loved and were not forgotten in this post, I will reveal that you enjoyed the yogurt-covered pretzels and popcorn more than anyone, and were the only member of the family who rolled through the whole week wondering what on earth all the fuss was about.  Ah, the joys of being one!)

The Big Picture

Great coloring T!

Impressive, right? I mean, a few months ago, we were eating the crayons!

Oh, wait…

"The Big Picture" doesn't always necessarily bring a desirable perspective. (Side note: I love that having a blog totally justifies the fact that when I saw this, I grabbed the camera instead of a sponge or a towel ! )

In case you were curious… (alternate title: my life in multiple choice)

Anyone curious about which of the following tasks is more difficult?

(A) Cleaning dog poop off a sparkly glitter shoe without removing all the glitter

(B) Changing a battery in our nursery’s smoke detector while standing on the baby’s glider

(C) Disposing of raw meat scraps (the icky trimmings that begin to smell grotesque after 1 hour in the garbage) while the disposal is broken

(D) Helping a one year old transition from 2 naps to 1 nap a day without disrupting the schedules of the other two children, or

(E) accomplishing anything at all on my actual “to do” list

The answer?  E.  Because (when I am not feeding, dressing, changing, driving, bathing, playing with, or hugging my children), things like A, B, C, and D seem to pop up unexpectedly and consume the majority of my day.

And, in case you were wondering about option ‘A’, you should know that even working with glittery poop is not glamorous.  Note to the general public:  the week before Halloween trick-or-treaters dance through your neighborhood in their favorite dress-up outfits and shoes is a particularly important time to scoop the poop…

Bye Bye, Butterfly! (alternate title: three year olds are not really known for their tact…)

E won’t wear her blue butterfly pajamas anymore because S told her it looks like there’s a piece of flying poop on the shirt.

I am sympathetic to E, who didn’t like hearing that at all.

At the same time, I’m not sure I can fault S.  I mean, I never would have noticed it before, but now that S has said that, take a look at the outfit…

DSC_0356

and a close-up of the shirt…

DSC_0358

At the age of 3, she might need to work on her tact a bit, but – heaven help me  – the child speaks the truth.

P.S.  Can you imagine the havoc S would wreak as a member of a manufacturer’s kiddie focus group?  I get tickled just thinking about it!

You said it, A. A. Milne! Now if only my kids would listen…

When I was pregnant with our first child (E!), my husband and I decided that our nursery would have a book theme.  We chose a few favorite books from our own childhoods, made copies of their covers and select illustrations, matted and framed those images, and hung the frames on the nursery wall.

Well, even though we moved from that house & nursery two years ago into our “new” place, I have never gotten around to hanging those pictures back up on the wall.

Part of the delay is that by the time we moved, we had spent several years reading to our children, and I really felt that we should update our book choices.  Instead of hanging up the pictures from the books that my husband and I had loved as children, I thought, maybe we should hang up images from the books our kids loved now.

Well, if plan A was “books from mom and dad’s childhood”…

and plan B was “books our children currently love”…

I am now officially moving onto plan C, because yesterday, while reading library books to the kids, I discovered p. 12 of A. A. Milne’s book “Tigger Comes to the Forest”.

Check it out:

DSC_0220

As a relatively sane adult pregnant with my first child, I probably would have never considered this illustration to adorn my sweet, sentimental nursery.

But I am now the very happy, still sentimental, but extraordinarily sleep-deprived mother of three…

…and this is absolutely going up on our nursery wall.