Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Santa and All That Hooey

Dave and I have made a scandalous decision. A decision that will make you question our American-ness.

We've decided not to perpetuate the myth of Santa.

If there comes a time that our children choose to believe, we will let them. I fully expect conversations and questions about him, but I will probably answer most of them with "What do you think?" I'll glady give them the history of Santa and other Christmas traditions. I don't care if they read books or watch movies about him, but I don't think I can actively pretend that he exists. I don't think they'll need me to. Ella is pretty good at pretending without my help. She spends 90% of her time in an alternate reality; guess who doesn't exist there yet? Santa. Guess who does? Baby Jesus. And Mary. And Joseph, and wise men, and evil King Herrod that did Bad Things. Shame on him.

This is a lot of the reason we've come to this decision. She very much understands that we celebrate Christmas because of Jesus.

She does recognize Santa. She will get gifts at Christmas, but only one of them will be unwrapped and none of them will be labeled from Santa. When she is asked the question, "What is Santa bringing you for Christmas?" She responds with a look of confusion. If the asker continues to ask, I usually just prompt her with, "What do you want for Christmas?" The answer: baby dolls. (I think I need to discuss the student/teacher ratio with her. I believe 10:1 is high enough.) Because we've had several of these encounters, it occurred to me that she doesn't understand the whole Santa concept. Then it occurred to me that she doesn't understand because we've never taught her. We decided we are okay with that. We haven't been to see him this year because, let's face it, it would be a waste of our time. I refuse to make her sit on a stranger's lap for a picture, so there's no point in going. We're okay with that, too.

The whole "be good or Santa won't bring you anything" thing is just a load of hooey. I will not say that to them because it isn't true. Santa doesn't decide who I buy gifts for or why, and there's no reason to malign the Christmas spirit with idle threats that will just worry them. EGR would worry.

Christmas is magical. It is magical because there are pretty lights to look at on the way home in the evenings. It's magical because there are cookies to bake and share with our friends. It's magical because there are decorations  and toys that come out for only a short part of the year. It's magical because there are gifts to give and receive. It's magical because an angel announced the birth of a newborn baby who would be our Savior. I would hate for it to lose it's magic when they realize one day that Santa isn't real.

Some might say I am perpetuating the myth of Jesus. Maybe they are right. Maybe He isn't real, maybe He wasn't born of a virgin, and maybe He didn't die for me, but I've chosen to believe all of that. The only way I will get confirmation of Him is through death. That's called faith. 

I know, without a single doubt, that a strange, old guy does not enter my house in the dead of night (via chimney or otherwise) to leave presents under the tree. I know this because I spent many years spying on my parents, and now I'm the one who puts the presents under the tree.

The Christmas traditions we are establishing are about spending time with family and celebrating the birth of the newborn King. We decorate our tree, make cookies, look at Christmas lights, read the story of Jesus, participate in Night in Bethlehem, and exchange gifts. This year, we are adding a new tradition, something I've wanted to do for years but I felt silly about until I had a preschooler. We will be baking a birthday cake for Jesus.

So, in our house, Santa's role in the Christmas Chaos (which is a limited edition, speciality version of our regular brand of Chaos) is supporting at best. I hope it stays that way.

Merry Christmas! I hope your holiday is magical, however you choose to celebrate it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What will I teach my children about sex?

This topic keeps making its way to the front of my mind – because of things I’ve read and things I’ve witnessed – so I guess it’s time to write about it.

My beliefs about sex are biblical. Not “because the Bible says so” biblical, but “the two shall become one flesh” biblical (1 Corinthians 6:16). I believe, through my own experience and validated with scripture, that sex is a gift given by God to be shared within a marriage.

If you are thinking you need to stop reading here because I’m getting ready to beat you about the head and shoulders with a Bible, please give me a few more minutes.

The verse I referenced above says, in full: “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For ‘the two’ He says, ‘shall become one flesh.’” As a harlot would be any woman who shared her body with a man outside of marriage, please replace the word “harlot” (and all its connotations) with the word “woman” or “man” as the case may be.

In plainer words: When you have sex with someone, you bind yourself to that person for all eternity.

Now, that’s just something worth considering. It’s also the root of what and how I will teach my children.

Christian or not (so strip out the biblical reference if you need to), there is no denying that when you have sex with someone, you give that person a little piece of yourself. If you have sex with multiple someones, you give a piece of yourself to each of those people. You are no longer whole. If you decide to marry someday, you will give your husband or wife a partial you AND a piece of all the people with whom you’ve had sex.

So what will I teach my children?

I will teach them that sex is fun, it feels good, it’s intoxicating, it’s normal, and if you feel shamed by it, something is wrong. I will also teach them that it’s powerful, it will turn you inside out, it can scrub you raw, it can bind you close, and it is a vital part of marriage. It should be enjoyed within the confines of a mutually respectful relationship. It should never be used as a weapon or a means to get something you want.

In my fantasy world, they will listen to everything I say on the subject and wait until they are married (to virgins). In reality, I expect them to make their own decisions about their bodies and the best I can do is equip them with knowledge. So not only will I teach my beliefs about the sacredness of sex and the value of abstinence, I will also teach them some science.

I believe sex education begins at birth. It starts with forming strong attachments and mutually respectful relationships with parents and caregivers. It means freely giving affection and constructively criticizing, so as to build them up rather than tear them down. Before they start making decisions about sex, I want them to have confidence in their value as people.

It also means giving them the proper labels for their body parts. It means teaching them that those parts are private and that aside from assistance with using the bathroom, diaper changing, and doctor visits, no one should touch them except the owner of the parts. It also means allowing them to explore their own bodies and teaching them that the exploration of private parts should be done in private.

As they get older, I will make sure they understand human reproduction: the hormones, the organs, menstruation and its purpose, and how a pregnancy is created. They will know about sexually transmitted diseases and how they are contracted, including touching, kissing, and oral sex. They will not only learn the short-term effects of the diseases, but also the possible long-term effects. They will know about and have access to birth control.

They will learn all of this from me and Dave, because this is a subject so important that I am not willing to entrust it to anyone else. Not church, not school, not peers, and definitely not society. My kid will be the reason your kid comes home asking about sex, not the other way around.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

4 Nights in a Stable - Light of the World

The whirlwind I stepped into last Wednesday finally set me down in my house again last night. We, Dave, Luke and I, spent four nights in the stable as Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus for our Night in Bethlehem program at WBC. We, Ella included, also attended a family Christmas gathering, a birthday dinner, and a preschool Christmas musical. In the spare moments, I squeezed in 10 loads of laundry, a trip to the grocery store, 2 dishwashers full of dishes, and a last minute trip to the pediatrician. It's time to take a breath.

While four nights in the stable was a big committment that completely disrupted our routine, I am so very grateful for those hours of sitting quietly with my husband. If I've been busy, he's been completely overwhelmed. It was really nice to be in his presence without rushing here and there while trying to have adult conversations in code and spelling. It was cold. We were tired. I couldn't have been happier. I hope that we were a blessing to the families that attended the event, but I know that the biggest blessing I received was a few moments of peace.

Since I was a little girl visiting the live Nativity at church, I've wanted to be Mary with the baby Jesus. Here he is, Luke, as our Infant Lord.
With the help of Aunt Jessica, Ella finally fulfilled one of her goals at our first Christmas gathering of the season. She has been on a quest for a "wittle Tiana" to complete her set of princesses for months now. (If you don't know, Tiana is the princess from The Princess and the Frog.) Aunt Jessica searched high and low, thought we were playing a joke on her, and finally found little Tiana. I only hope we have another moment this Christmas as magical as the one where Ella opened that present. Her reaction was priceless: large gasp followed by, "We got her!" Full of wonder.

She also made it through her Christmas musical, Jesus: Light of the World. She was a ball of nerves on the way to school last night and she melted completely down as I was dropping her off. I had to peel her off of me and give her to her teacher. By the time the show started, she had recomposed herself and she did great. It was obvious which parts were her favorite because those were the parts she actually sang or did, but she stood in her place the whole time without any tears, accidents, or other wild scenarios that were playing through my mind. I think I was just as nervous as her at the beginning. I was so proud of her. She was just relieved when it was over.

I also cleared the memory card for my camera, so I have a few other pictures to share. Dave took this one on our date with her to see Disney on Ice. Princess Wishes, of course.
I look forward to embarrassing her with this one some day. 
 This is what happens when Big Baby doesn't get enough sleep.
This is my almost 4 month old son trying to see what his sister was doing. He gets positively angry if you try to sit him down and even angrier when his legs get too tired to hold him up any longer.
This sight swells my heart. Dave-o has learned to appreciate the beauty of holding a sleeping baby. He did not want to get up to go to my birthday dinner, and he made me take this picture before he would move.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thirty is the New Twenty

Today is my 30th birthday. I don’t really care about the number, and I certainly do not want to relive my 20th year, but I have made a couple of concessions to thirty.

1. I upgraded my moisturizer from Neutrogena Oil Free SPF 15 to a day cream with SPF 25 and a night cream for 30 year old skin. I’m still using the Proactive, though; having thirty years under my belt has not stopped me from breaking out like a teenager.

2. I’ve joined the ranks of the pedometer wearing exercise crazies. I have a lingering blood sugar issue and my doctor told me to walk more. But, the truth be told, I’m doing it for the money. I earn 60 Healthmiles for every 7000 steps I take through my company’s fitness program, and then I get to cash in my miles for gift cards. Watching this little thing count my every step really has motivated me to move more. I’m not above marching around the house at bedtime to get the last 1000 steps or clipping it on for a middle of the night run to the kitchen for infant Tylenol.

Would I relive any of the past 30 years? Maybe the 19th - that’s when I fell in love with the man God made for me. And, I wouldn’t mind having my 23 year old body again. I really should have enjoyed it more. It’s ironic that I’m so much happier in this 30 year old body, that’s stretched and scarred and 25lbs heavier, than I ever was in my younger body. Maybe that’s because of wisdom or maybe it’s because of motherhood, but I’m certainly glad I no longer obsess over 5 lbs lost or gained.

Would I do anything different? Nope. While I’ve made plenty of mistakes, I do believe that the life I’ve lived makes me who I am today and I would not change that.

Have I learned anything? Ha! I haven’t stopped learning things and I hope I never do.

- I’ve learned that even though it chaps me, it usually is best to suck it up and be the first to apologize in a stalemate.

- I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut. Words don’t need to be said just for the sake of saying words.

- I’ve learned to be more flexible and to let others be in control. Sometimes.

- I’ve learned that I can only do what I can do – in 8 hours, in 24 hours, in a week, and I don’t stress about what doesn’t get done. It’s always there when I get back to it. Especially dishes and laundry.

- I’ve learned to give myself a break sometimes. It makes me a better person.

- I’ve learned to indulge – in a caramel latte, expensive conditioner, a fat book that I’m just going to read in a day’s time and give away, whatever.

- I’ve learned to give things away. It clears my mind and helps someone else.

- I’ve learned when to compromise and when not to. Most things are negotiable, but a few will never be:
     1. The path to Heaven.
     2. The sanctity of marriage.
     3. My relationships with my children.
     4. My right to decide what or what not to do with my body.
     5. The genius of J.K. Rowling.

- I’ve learned that the things I like least about myself are the very things that will mock me in the faces of my children. And I’m learning how to deal with that.

- I am still learning how to walk around in this world with my heart outside of my body. I think that one really might take the rest of my life.

So, here’s to 30. I hope the next thirty find me as happy and satisfied as I am today.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Big Baby's World

I'm pretty sure EGR spilled the beans last night on what was supposed to be a Christmas surprise for me and Dave. A couple of nights ago she needed a camera to take a picture of her babies. We found her a little digital photo keychain that never worked like it was supposed to, and she's been using it as her camera (after Dave confiscated the binoculars that she was using as a camera). I assumed this was just because we had Christmas pictures taken recently, but last night she was telling me at the supper table that she was taking pictures of the babies to give to their mommies and daddies. I asked her if her teacher has been taking pictures of her at school and she confirmed that she has. I see a photo gift in my near future. By the way, this is also the reason we don't discuss secrets in front of her. She may pretend that she doesn't know how to talk around most people, but I will eventually find out all the goods when she acts it out in play.

Because she is so involved in her classroom when we get home in the evenings, we've resorted to moving her little table into the kitchen so that she can eat with the family and still make sure the babies get their lunch. After lunch, they have rest. Every available flat surface in our Big Room (dining room/sitting room) has a baby napping on it covered neatly with a blanket. The bottom drawer of the changing table where I keep receiving blankets is empty. When nap is over, she tosses the blankets under the end table to store them until the next nap time. I've learned a lot about her teacher's mannerisms from watching her teach her babies.

She has handled not having milk to drink amazingly well so far, and she's pretty much opted to just skip any type of milk until she can have cow milk again. She has had a couple of cups of my milk (we call it Mommy Milk) but that was only when she really wanted some milk. At bedtime the other night she was trying to convince me to give her some cow milk. She told me, "I'm feeling better. I can have cow milk now. My nose feels better." I told her she still has to wait until we see the doctor again; she opted for water that night.

As further proof that she pays attention to the conversations around her, especially if they are about her, every time I do something that the allergist told me to do she asks me, "Who told you to do that?" I've gotten that question about the milk, the new purifier in her room, the allergy covers on her pillows and mattress, the pillows I used to prop up the head of her bed, and the cats new outside home.

Last night she opened the door to let Georgia inside (!) and Gypsy came in. She went running after her saying, "Mom, Gypsy came in!" I told her I would catch her and she went and closed the door! I didn't realize she had gotten tall enough to open the door and close it back again. She has really been in a helpful phase lately. When I put the mattress cover on her bed over the weekend, she actually stood on the opposite side and helped me pull it up. Then she pulled up the sheets while I tucked them in at the bottom and she put the pillows on the bed. Two nights in a row, she has washed her own hair in the bath tub (and done a pretty decent job of it) and tried to rinse it. She can almost brush her teeth by herself now, I just give them a good once over when she's finished. She has a screaming fit if I've already put all the laundry in the washer or dryer before she gets there. That is her job now. It's amazing.

I've recently learned that her family (Big Baby's family) has a house in Birmingham with two dogs - a big dog and a little dog, and a baby sister.

The H. Luke Update
Luke is serious about the hand play. I watched him reach and grab over and over last night until the got the one toy he was reaching for on the high chair tray. He loves all the dancing and singing Santas and reindeer and dogs, etc. at the various houses he visits, and when they are playing he needs to stand on the floor and dance with them. He has already developed a love for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. If it is on in the room with him, he will contort his body until he can see the TV and then he watches wide-eyed until it goes off. He has also discovered he can blow bubbles with the large quantities of drool dripping from his mouth.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Big Baby Only Wikes Cow Milk

It seems so fitting that the week when Ella cuts her last tooth is the same week that Luke cuts his first tooth. I got visual confirmation during Mr. Dentist time two nights ago that Ella's last molar is finally breaking through the skin. I haven't gotten a good look at Luke's new tooth yet, but I can feel the sharp little edge of it with my finger. Plus, we've wiped buckets of drool off of the child's mouth - upgrading from burp cloths to receiving blankets in the process.

Sweet little Luker is another sponge, soaking up all that happens around him. He has learned to scream a la EGR, and he sounds just like her. Right now it's cute and funny; 18 months from now I'll be banishing him to his room when he won't stop.

He is getting really good at grabbing things with both hands and putting them in his mouth, and he's starting to show preference for certain toys. Given a tray full, he always goes straight for the little plastic rhino that Ella gave him from the elephant train. Before you go thinking "Oh, how sweet," let me inform you that she no longer "wike[s] rhinos." But, she usually is very sweet to him.

She had her follow-up with the allergist yesterday and we did the skin testing. She did fantastic. She cried silently through the whole process and several minutes afterward, but she sat very still and didn't try to scratch. Considering what I was expecting to happen, this was nothing short of a miracle (and thanks for the prayers, too). I'm pretty sure the crying was more due to being touched repeatedly by a stranger than from the actual testing because she never indicated that it hurt, but she flinched every time the nurse touched her. She is my child through and through. I require a healthy respect for my personal space and so does she.

I was really hoping to hear that she only has seasonal allergies, but we weren't that lucky. She is mildy allergic to milk, cats, feathers, and weeds and trees. So, my milkaholic has to quit the dairy for the next 6 weeks so we can see if that's what is keeping her stuffy and infected. She gamely participated in picking out soy and almond milk at Pugits, but she didn't want to taste test them last night. I gave her plain soy milk in her cup this morning and she took several sips of it before she asked me to dump it out because she doesn't like it. She flatly refused "Wuke's milk" when I offered that, but I think I might try just giving it to her like I did the soy. I will gladly go dairy-free and pump for her if she'll drink it. We also have vanilla soy and plain almond milk. If she'll get over the fact that it's not cow milk, I think she'll like the vanilla soy because it tastes a lot like the "milkbox from Starbucks." Also, no more cheese, yogurt, ice cream and sour cream for 6 weeks. It's not going to be easy on her, but I think we'll end up being able to add that stuff back in occasionally once we finally get rid of this sinus infection that she still has.

She's back on antibiotics again and the doctor increased her Prevacid from once a day to twice a day because she's still having bouts of reflux and the nasty bedtime cough. The doctor still believes the reflux is the main problem, and I still agree, but we are also eliminating the allergens in an effort to get her well.

Jewel and Gypsy became outside cats last night. The nurse told me we didn't have to get rid of them, just keep them out of the bedroom and off the furniture. Yeah. I fixed them up with a warm blanket and the food and water bowl in the carport. They thought they were just having a picnic until I turned out all the lights and they realized I wasn't going to let them in at bedtime. It sucks, and they really played it up, fluffing out their fur and crying at me with sad eyes.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Foto Fun

Between my knack for closing my eyes whenever a camera is present and Ella's inability to sit still, capturing a photographic moment of the family is interesting. These are a few from Thanksgiving, which is when we usually take a Christmas card picture. My sister was the photographer, but she did get to join in the fun.

Look at all those teeth we've worked so hard to grow. The last one is finally coming through this week.
Busy in the new playroom - which, by the way, she told her teacher she is thankful for.
She is probably looking for a lipstick or an eyeshadow in that purse. The girl already loves her cosmetics.
My sweet boy. He really could not be any more different from his sister. I think they will balance each other very well one day.

 My sister and I being silly.
 And Dave, making fun of us.
 I think this is my favorite one of the day.
Classic Roper family picture.
We did get a decent one for our Christmas card, and hopefully I will find the time to address them before Christmas.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"He did it again."

I am a hypocrite.

In the last week, I’ve had conversations with two different people during which I was reminding them that holding on to anger just makes you bitter. My heart is full of anger and I have not been able to let it go. I’m not sure if I’ve really tried. I have talked to God about it, but it’s like that old dish rag I just keep taking back from Him and wringing more dirty water out of. Like I think He can’t handle the job.

The truth is, I like being mad. I like to wallow in it and think about all the things I want to say, even when I can feel the bitterness taking over, turning the edges of my soul black. Anger is much easier than hurt, which is what I know will take its place when I finally let it go. So, I keep taking it back and squeezing more out until I’m just tired, but it doesn’t go away. And it doesn’t change anything.

We, my family and I, are rapidly approaching a very upsetting anniversary. The anniversary of a Sunday afternoon when I was snuggled on my couch with a sick child when the phone rang and it was my mother, who greeted me with: “He did it again.” Those are four words that are forever etched in my memory. The “he” was my youngest brother; the “it” was his second suicide attempt. We had only found out a couple of weeks before that his previous accidental overdose was actually his first suicide attempt.

I sat on my couch and cried and screamed for Dave to come upstairs and hold me. All I could think about was how I would explain to Ella that Uncle Joshua died.

He didn’t die. He spent one night in the hospital and was sent home the next day. We still don’t know why they didn’t keep him there. We spent weeks terrified that he would try again. Every time the phone rang, every time we passed an ambulance, I wondered if he had made another attempt. All the drugs in their house were hidden and under lock and key. We were cutting meat with butter knives because the sharp ones were put away somewhere. He was under 24 hour supervision. Suicide watch. Weeks turned to months and the security slacked up, as my mother and stepfather tried to find some semblance of normalcy again, whatever that may be. It was a life-changing event, and like a rock dropped in a mud puddle, it rippled outward to affect more people than he will ever know.

And, I’m mad about it. Still.

I’m mad when he doesn’t get out of bed because it sets a bad example for Ella. I’m mad when he does get out of bed because she loves him so much and I don’t trust that he won’t do it again. I’m mad that the chances of her attempting suicide are increased simply because he, an older family member, did. I’m mad that I’ve had to seriously consider changing child care arrangements, maybe even quitting my job, to limit her exposure to him. I’m mad that I feel like I should be defending him when people ask about him, but I’m too mad to find any empathy in my heart for him and then I feel guilty. I’m mad that I feel guilty about that. I’m mad about how his actions have affected the relationships around him. I’m mad that he can’t stand face to face with me and talk about it, or even admit that he did it. I’m just mad.

And, I don’t understand.

I don’t understand what makes someone decide that their very best option is to take their own life. Pack a bag and leave? That I understand. That I’ve done. But kill myself? Not bloody likely. I cannot imagine a circumstance in which I would feel like that was my only option.

So here I am, now, renewing my effort to pray without ceasing for him, for my family members, and telling others to pray also, when it occurred to me that my heart is full of anger. That I cannot pray, and that I cannot pray effectively, because of my own bitterness. So now every prayer I pray starts with, “God please take this anger from my heart. I know I keep taking it back from you, please forgive me for holding on to it.” Until I let it go, nothing I do or say will help the healing. I need a new perspective. I need to see some change. I need some sign that there is hope that this situation we’ve been fighting through for nearly a year isn’t just going to end up in more hurt and loss.

These are just a few very scary national statistics for you (from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention):

• Over 34,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year.
• Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States (28,628 suicides).
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.
• A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States.
• Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
• There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides for every suicide death.
• Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 24 million people.
• More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).

The phone number you should call if you or someone you love is in danger of committing suicide:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Goodbye Diapers

Today is the fifth day since my sweet daughter officially became a panty-wearer. It's the third day since her last accident. I am so proud for her. She is loving being able to handle her potty business without my help, she just lets me know when she's finished so I can empty the bowl for her. I was a nervous wreck when she insisted on wearing panties to school Monday, but she has done fantastic.

I don't know what exactly pushed her off the diaper cliff into a pile of princess, dog, frog, duck, kitty, Dora, and Sponge Bob panties, but I'm glad she finally made the leap. We have had numerous conversations during which I've told her that if she doesn't want me to change her diaper she needs to be wearing panties and using the potty. We have read Diapers Are Not Forever countless times. Then Grandmother had what might have been the eye-opening conversation with her when she pointed out that I don't wear diapers and neither to any of the other grown people in her life. It was that afternoon that she started wearing panties full-time, except for overnight. The first night, when I put the diaper on her at bedtime, she had a fit because she didn't want to wear it and she waddled around the house trying not to let it touch her.

It will be a while before I will let her wear panties at bedtime because she's not staying dry overnight yet, and she only wakes up after she pees in the diaper. However, we've put a new routine in place where she must use the potty as soon as she gets up in the morning. Two out of three mornings I've had to bodily put her there and make her sit, but she did it. Why do kids hate using the bathroom first thing in the morning? She tells me she doesn't need to. As if. I know that if the diaper doesn't weigh five pounds, she still has to pee.

The pooping still needs work, but she - WE - are working on it. She did try to poop in the potty last night as I read a large stack of books to her (which gave me flashbacks to potty training with my brother), but we finally opted for a diaper because she just couldn't make it happen and supper was on hold because Luke was requiring Dave to play with him. We will just keeping practicing that part until she gets it.

In other EGR news, she is practicing for a Christmas musical at school. I have no idea what song she is learning, but I do hear her saying "Hallelujah" occasionally and she's been reading to her babies/students about a newborn king. She found some Little People farm characters and she's pretending they are the baby Jesus. I think she's ready for me to bring out her Nativity set - which I can't wait to do, the day after Thanksgiving.

The H. Luke Update
Luker is up to his usual antics of cooing, talking, smiling, and flirting with everyone. He fusses at me in the evenings if he hears Dave come in but I don't hand him over to him. He does look forward to seeing his Daddy. He sat in the basement with Dave and I while we worked on Project Christmas over the weekend and I set him up in the bouncy seat with a musical walker toy in front of him. That child figured out that he could kick the walker and make the music play. He's wearing some 6 month sized clothes and they fit him all too well.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Reflux Part Deux

EGR visited the allergist this week and we found out that her reflux is a probable cause of her chronic sinusitis. The doctor offered an upper GI study, but I opted for a trial on the medicine instead. I see no reason to subject her to that test when we know she has it and she's been medicated for it before. She is now taking Prevacid once a day, and because the pharmaceutical world obviously thinks it's funny to watch harried mothers give young children medicine, I have to break open the capsules and sprinkle the granules on her food or in her drink. Yeah right. I put it her drink the first day and after one sip she said, "Mama, what's in my teeth?" I told her it was surprise. She didn't argue, and eventually the granules do dissolve so she just drinks it down. When she was on Prevacid as a baby, she ate chewable tablets. Do you think they still make those? Of course not. That would be too easy to administer. I really have beef with the pharmaceutical industry. It should just be easier to give kids medicine. Anything nasty tasting should be administered via a patch between the shoulder blades - especially narcotic pain medicine. Why should they have to suffer because it tastes bad and you can't reason with a toddler? Sorry, I'm ranting.

She no longer has to take the antihistamine the pediatrician prescribed, but now she's taking Singulair instead. It is a very tasty chewable tablet, so bedtime medicine got slightly easier in that regard. Unfortunately, she still has to use her Flonase, but I only have to do one spray in each nostril instead of two. Oh, and I should point it to the side of her nose, not straight up and down - making it that much more difficult to administer it to a wiggling child. The allergist told me to do it after she falls asleep. I gave it a try; she jumped right up after the first spray. Why does nose spray have to be sprayed so accurately?

We have a follow up appointment in two weeks, and she'll be having allergy skin testing done that day. I did get reassurance from the nurse that it's needle-less, but it will still be a bunch of scratches with little plastic sticks. I started praying last night that she'll be cooperative that day because it will be very traumatic, even without needles, if I have to hold her down for it. The whole process lasts only 10 minutes, but any mother knows how very long 10 minutes can be.

My gut tells me that the reflux is the cause. It's something that's been tickling my mind for weeks, so I'm happy to be treating it again. Her sleep has already improved dramatically after two days of new medicine. I'm quite sure reflux is the reason she sometimes cannot make her "mouth be still."

The H. Luke Update
H. Luke is three months old today. We are running into a pesky problem with that one. He's bored, but he is still a bit too wobbly on the top to put him in the Exersaucer or Johhny Jump Up. For now, I'm putting him in the high chair with a tray full of toys to work on putting in his mouth. It does keep him occupied for a while. The real issue is that he wants to be down in the floor doing what Ella does. His very favorite thing is when she interacts with him, even if she's taking things away or not being nice. He doesn't care, he just loves her attention. Yesterday, he sat up in my lap, holding my fingers for balance, and had a tea party with her and the babies.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I'm so tired of snot.

My snot, Ella's snot, Luke's snot, even Dave has snot. I'm tired of wiping it, blowing it, sucking it, and medicating it. When will it end? The amount of medicine Ella is taking right now is ridiculous. Last night she came into the kitchen as I was preparing her drugs and just started picking up syringes and trying to take it herself - four of them and nose spray. And, by the way, giving nose spray to a 2 year old is not a fun chore. She hates it, I hate it, and half of the time it goes in her eye as she turns her head while I spray it. Grrr.

Then...Then she goes to bed and just as she's falling asleep, she starts coughing and she has so much gunk in her throat and she coughs so hard that she throws up. Poor kid.

I spent so much time at the doctor's office during my maternity leave, I feel like we need to add the pediatrician to our Christmas card list. She's on her fourth round of antibiotics since mid-September and I just got a call from preschool to pick her up because she's running a fever and coughing too hard to sleep. We have an appointment with an allergist tomorrow for allergy testing, but I'm skeptical. She's been taking allergy medicine every night for weeks and I can't see that it's doing anything.

I think I might go pull my hair out now.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Back in the Grind

Maternity leave is officially over and I am back at work today. So far, I've been very productive. I've socialized, put in my vacation requests for the rest of the year, and pumped 8 oz. of milk. Shortly, I'll go find out what form my work torture will assume, but for now, I'm updating this blog while I have access.

The leaving wasn't as hard this time as it was with Ella. In part because I've been leaving her for two years, and in other part because Luke is just different than her. I don't have the intense worry about how he will handle being away from me like I did with her. I miss his cuddly little self already, but I don't fear that he's screaming his head off in my absence. He laughed and talked all the way to Grandmother's house this morning and he gave me a giant grin when I kissed him goodbye.

EGR was completely excited to get back in the routine. The first thing she said when she became aware that I was dressing her awake was, "We are going to Grandmother's house?" She disappeared as soon as we got there, but she did spare a moment to blow me a kiss and say, "Bye, Mom" as I walked out the door. My, how she has grown up. I really can't even call her a toddler anymore. Preschooler is much more accurate.

The morning was amazingly smooth. EGR came to my room and went back to sleep before I got up to shower and H. Luke woke up at the same time, ate, and went back to sleep. I woke them both up in time to dress them and roll them out of bed and into the car. The beds aren't made, but the kitchen is clean and I didn't forget anything so I'll call it a success.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Bits of Fun

Today, I noticed some blue Bic scribbling on the wall in my living room. The likely culprit was sitting in the floor reading her books, so I asked her what it was. I expected to hear something about how Big Baby did it, but as usual, she surprised me when she matter-of-factly stated, "A snake." I laughed. Hard.

Some amusing person put little tubs of Play-Doh in the treat bags at her class party last week, so of course when she found it she needed to play with it. I've been limiting it to the table on the porch for now, but then I realized that there is a beautiful thing about Play-Doh. It's technically a food product. She has given it a taste and spit it out, but Sweet Georgia Brown doesn't care that it's virtually tasteless, she eats it because it's food. I don't think EGR has realized that it is slowly disappearing. Now that I've got someone else to clean it up, I'll be a little more willing to let her play with it in the house. Then I'll check the yard for technicolor poop.

The H. Luke Update
H. Luke is happy as ever, and maybe even happier now that he's figured out how to get the trunk of his little stuffed elephant into his mouth for chewing. He's been working hard at it for about a week, and he finally got it yesterday. I swear the kid is teething already.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Happy Halloween

I think, in an effort to not celebrate Halloween on Sunday, we (Collective we, not me specifically because I think it's a load of dookie to trick or treat on Saturday just because Halloween is on Sunday, but that's a post for another day.) successfully stretched it into 3 days of observation. I'm glad it's over. I've had enough tantrums brought about by too much sugar, too little routine, and too little sleep. By Friday afternoon, we had a pink scull ("It's not scary") full of candy and three treat bags. We had also seen a giant chicken walking up and down Main street and had many discussions about whether the chicken would hurt her. I think she was too worried about the chicken to notice the very scary masks that kept passing by our stroller. However, by Sunday she had forgotten about the chicken and was slighty terrified of the Cat in the Hat. That did not make my life easier.

This picture sums up the evening.
This was the first picture of the afternoon. Just look at them. They look like they are about to wreak havoc on the world.

Next year, I have to think up something calm and happy for thier costumes because these ended up being a self-fulfilling prophesy. I could not get them back in thier box fast enough.

Maybe they'll be snails. Or sloths.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Stink.

I got a fresh perm in my hair yesterday and when I got to Grandmother's house to pick up my sweet children I was greeted with a less than warm welcome. EGR ran up to me and stopped short a few feet away. She lifted her nose into the air, took a big sniff and backed away. She wouldn't come near me and if I tried to get close to her she moved away. This went on most of the evening, along with lots of discussion about why I stunk.

I had a feeling bedtime would be challenging because of my smelliness. I laid down next to her, keeping as much distance between us as possible. She kept scooting to the opposite edge of the bed. She wiggled and flopped and yawned until I finally asked her if she would like for Daddy to snuggle her since he wasn't stinky. She said yes, so I called him in. He cuddled her close and talked to her about my stinkiness. As if I weren't even in the room, she told him, "I don't want she to stink." She did ask me to sing Bingo to her and she finally fell asleep.

Later, Dave told me I smelled like I'd been in some kind of nuclear reaction but my hair was pretty. I'm still trying to accept that as a compliment. Personal stink is my weakness. I can barely tolerate others' stink (I wonder where my daughter gets it from?) and I work hard to not be stinky. Telling me I stink might be one of the best ways to insult me and make me feel self-conscious so it's no surprise that I woke up this morning with a small complex and nearly washed out my new curls before it was time. Instead I just pulled them into a ponytail and persevered. Tomorrow, clean hair.

In other news.. last night while Ella was running naked after her bath she told me she was going to potty standing up like a boy. Being unable to follow up on that bit of information because I had an actual naked boy on the changing table, I called in Dave for back up. When he got to the bathroom, she had already peed a gallon in her little potty, dumped it in the big potty, opened the cabinet and got a wipe, wiped her bottom and threw the wipe away and she instructed him how to transform the potty chair into a step so she could wash her hands. All by herself.

This morning I woke up to the noise of Luke making his morning poop. He was studying the ceiling in concentration. I leaned over him and said, "Hey!" and he answered me with a giant smile. Smiling wake ups are so much more pleasant than screaming ones.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have I told you about Big Baby?

Because one of the reasons I write this blog is to document my children's lives (I'm not good at filling in blanks in the baby books), I would be negligent if I did not write about Big Baby. I'm not talking about the Toy Story 3 character. Nope, Disney-Pixar really owes me money for that one, but I probably won't pursue it. I'm talking about the original Big Baby.

She came into my life circa 1984-ish as a Christmas gift (I think). At the time, she was nearly as big as me and looked very real - more real than she looks now with her floppy head and wonky eye. What can I say? She's nearly 30 and gravity is getting the best of her. From the time I met her she was full of mischief. She once kicked a jar of dill pickles off the shelf on aisle 3 in old Lucky's, and she's still up to mischief today. While I was pregnant with Ella, I used her to practice tying my wrap and putting a baby in it.

Ella inherited her sometime when she became interested in dolls. I encouraged her to name her, but she was, is and always will be Big Baby. All at once and separately she is Ella's daughter, grandaughter, student, babysitting charge, and alternate reality. She acts out her world on Big Baby and she uses her to process all that is happening around her. If you hang around long enough, you will hear her talk about Big Baby and all the things she does. She often uses my cell phone to call Big Baby's mama. Big Baby currently has a sinus infection and her ear hurts. She has to wash Big Baby's jacket because she throws up on it. She drops Big Baby off at her grandmother's house and picks her up after work. Big Baby has a cat named Cripsy who kills rabbits, mice, chipmunks, and turtles. She might be the only one who speaks Ella's other language - the one she reverts to when you ask a question she doesn't want to answer or when she just gets too tied up in her story to slow down and use the English words she knows. Big Baby does everything she does and some things she wishes she could do.

Without further ado, meet Big Baby, who is currently wearing Luke's hand-me-downs.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Vomit Chronicles: Second Installment

I said I would write about spit up, and I'll try to include that here, but there have been more vomitous episodes since my last post so I thought I'd just prove how normal vomit is in our lives.

Last week, Luke was strapped down on the changing table, watching the animals sing and dance above him when suddenly a small geyser erupted out of him. Puke shot into the air and over the side of the table into the baby bed. I had to change all the bedding and, in moving the bed to take off the bumpers, I also found a large puddle on the floor. It must have run down the crack between the changing table (which also got scrubbed) and the bed. The poor kid looked at me with eyes the clearly said, "What the bleep was that?"

Tonight, bedtime with Ella was perfect. Daddy said goodnight early so she didn't get wound up while we read our story. The lights were out, she finished her milk, and we were working through the wiggling phase. I had reminded her couple of times to be still. She coughed. I was on alert. Then she said, "Mommy, I can't make my mouth be still." And threw up all over the bed. What must she have thought when I squealed and jumped out of reach? Okay, I didn't squeal. I'm more seasoned than that.

We went straight to the tub, her freaking out, Luke screaming because she was freaking out. Dave stripped the bed and grabbed Luke from his bed and I stripped the girlchild and bathed her. Again. She was already telling me she wouldn't throw up on Minnie - meaning her Minnie Mouse pajamas that she was about to put on since she had thrown up on her dog 'jamas. I asked if not being able to make her "mouth be still" is what it feels like when she is about to throw up. She said it is, and she also said she felt better and she could make it be still now. Let's hope so. I think we'd both like the clean Dora sheets and Minnie 'jamas to stay clean tonight.

Spit up - let's just leave it at Luke has a t-shirt he obviously doesn't like because he spits up on it as soon as I put it on him. Every time. And, it's not the milky kind of spit up that doesn't really stink. No, it's the yucky, half-processed, curdled milk spit up that reeks.

There you have it. Now, go and enjoy your kids who have control of their bodily functions.

Friday, October 22, 2010

He's Big. He's Big and He's Strong.

Luke had his 2 month check up yesterday. He weighed in at 12 lbs. 4 oz. and he was 24 1/4 inches long. Unbelievably, coming from two short parents, he's in the 90-95% for his length. He's a full 2 lbs. heavier and 2 inches longer than his sister was at this age. He showed the doctor his trick of standing on his own two feet, which led the doctor to comment that he will probably walk early. I'm not sure I'm happy about that prospect; I know I'm not ready for him to grow up so fast.

He cried a cry I've never heard before when they gave him the four shots, and then he just stopped and he was fine. I couldn't believe it. He did have sore legs and a tummy ache last night, but seems to be doing just fine today. He went to my doctor's appointment with me this morning and flirted with the nurses. They loved his one-dimpled smile.
These are my sweet sleeping babies. I love it when they sleep later than me.
You can see in this picture that EGR is like a heat-seeking missile when she's sleeping. As soon as I moved from my spot between them, she found him and snuggled up.
Here he is snoozing on the couch like his father.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quotes from Around the House

"Goldfish." - Ella, muttered sleepily when Dave kissed her goodbye at 5:45 this morning. She always knows when he has food, no matter how hard he tries to hide it.

"I love that Daddy. He's a sweet Daddy." - Ella, when I told her she had snuggled up with Daddy during the night.

"I don't wike trains." - Ella, this morning when we finally got to school after driving all over Calera to get around the train that was blocking our crossing. She was mad because the carpool line was over and I had to walk her inside.

"There is not a mouse in my shirt!" - Me, when Ella freaked out while cuddling at bedtime last night.

"Don't drink the water!" - Dave, to Luke while he was bathing him. Luke tries to catch the drips from the rag in his mouth.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Moments That Make It Worth It

Many days, sometimes many moments of many days, EGR's two-ness gets the best of me. The bull-headedness, the tantrums, the general disagreement with everything - in other words, her completely normal toddlerhood, just wears me down sometimes. But there are those moments that make it worth the struggle. Moments that melt my heart or just plain amuse me. These are a few recent ones.

I've been trying to praise her specifically for things she does that I like. For example, I might tell her, "I had a good day shopping with you today. Thank you for holding my hand while we walked in the parking lot and saying goodbye to the baby dolls when it was time to leave." This has led to her praising me, and it's so sweet. She tells me, "Thank you for having a good week with me, Mama." Once, upon parking in our driveway, she said, "Good job driving, Mom."

I recently painted her toenails pink at her request. A few days later she asked me to paint my toenails pink to match hers. I did, and now she tells me, "Thanks for painting your toenails pink like mine, Mom."

I think the best compliment I've received lately came from her. The child thinks everything stinks, and makes no bones about pronouncing things stinky - including me. I've never heard her say anything smelled good, until the other night. I was cuddling her at bed time and she turned her head into my neck and took a big sniff. I laid there waiting for her to tell me I stunk (because she has before), but she said in her sleepy voice, "You smell good, Mommy." I was so proud, I bragged about it to Dave.

We've been working hard on manners, so I've really been modeling them for her when I make requests or when she does what I ask of her. This results in lots of spontaneous "thank yous" and gradually more "pleases". It has also led to the most polite disagreement I've ever heard. When I ask her to do something she doesn't want to do, she'll respond with "No, ma'am!"

The other morning, I left her sitting with Luke at the breakfast table and when I came back into the room I overheard her talking to him. I don't know what all she said, but I heard her tell him, "There she is Wuke. Mommy's back now."

She has nicknamed her brother "Luker" which she pronounces "Wuker." It through me for a woop, I mean a loop, the first time I heard it.

Just this morning, she was trying to convince me to let her wear her black Mary Jane shoes to school. She knows that she has to wear tennis shoes so she can play on the playground, so when I told her she had to wear tennis shoes today, she told me the playground had moved to someone else's house. I had to bite my jaw to stop the laughter. I also have to give her credit for formulaing what would have been a very logical argument, had it been true.

H. Luke can't talk yet - well, not intelligible words anyway - but he makes it worth it when he smiles his toothless, one-dimple smile at me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Teething Fairy

The Teething Fairy visited us last night. Please do not confuse her with her sweet sister, The Tooth Fairy. She doesn't bring gifts and take teeth. No, she brings teeth and bad dreams of mice and bugs and lizards and things.

Last night, her plague of choice was a mouse. A mouse was in Ella's bed and I could not convince her otherwise. When I went into her room, she was screaming and running for the door. I couldn't even get her back in the bed. I turned on the light, ripped back the sheets and shook out the pillows to prove to her that there was no mouse. I think I said that phrase a thousand times. Once the light was off again, every lump and wrinkle in the blankets was a mouse.

I tried another tactic. We went to the laundry room for the fly swatter to kill the mouse. I swatted and swatted and swatted the bed everywhere she saw the mouse. She was still worried, so I called the cat in to sleep with her. I finally had to just put her back in there and cuddle her to sleep. That was no easy feat as she kept twitching and waking herself up each time she fell asleep. So, I invented a technique I call the Hand Swaddle where I held her hands and feet in my hands until she was asleep.

When I finally left her an hour after I went in there, she was sleeping tucked in with the fly swatter on one side and the cat on the other. My husband, my sweet sweet husband, thought it was hilarious when I explained all that had happened in the last hour. All I could think was, "I hope she uses that fly swatter to kill that stinking fairy."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Pumpkin Patch

Ella had her first field trip last Friday to the pumpkin patch. Although the day started with vomit (Yes, yes, it did. As we turned into the parking lot, the car sickness she was holding at bay got the best of her.) and it ended up being 100 degrees on that beautiful October day, we had fun. I think she might actually have had more fun without us, but that's not how preschool field trips work, so we got to have fun, too.

Here are Dave and Luke having lunch in the complete chaos that was the picnic pavilion. Did I mention that every other daycare and preschool in the area also had a field trip to the pumpkin patch that day? EGR on her mission to find the perfect pumpkin. With all the things we did, this was when she was most comfortable - trekking through a field of pumpkins looking for the smallest one she could find. She kept telling me, "Are you coming, Mom? We are almost there, Mom!"
We found it. The perfect pumpkin. It even has a handle. We also bought a tinier one in the gift shop to keep it company on the dresser in her bedroom. This was the hayride to the patch to pick out the pumpkin. Luke slept through most of the trip, and woke up twice to nurse. For the first time ever, I had a stranger approach me while I was nursing and it was to compliment me.
I'm so glad Dave got this shot because it only happened once. Ella has developed a fear of inflatables - so weird since we previously couldn't drag her out of them - and I carried her to the top of the slide and slid down with her. I thought she would decide it was fun. I was so wrong. She screamed bloody murder and cried giant tears all the way down. I felt so guilty when I realized she was truly terrified and not just afraid to try something different. I had fun though; I slid by myself 3 more times and made Dave try it, too.
This was Ella's first pony ride. She didn't want to do this either but she told me later that she liked riding the big horse and she wants to do it again one day. It was actually a very small horse, but compared to the miniature pony she got to pet that day, it was huge. The Learning Farm (a.k.a. petting zoo) was fun except for the bossy woman running the joint. She made us leave the little piglets before we were finished looking at them. Oh, and I got scolded for picking them up. How was I supposed to know I couldn't pick it up after she already told me I could pick up the baby bunnies? Ella enjoyed petting the animals that would let her and feeding them hay, which then turned into putting hay on them, but whatever.

It was a fun day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Vomit Chronicles

I was told recently about a 3-year old we know that has never thrown up until this week. Never. The burning question in my mind upon hearing this news: Where do I get one of those kids?

While I feel bad for the child because is must be disconcerting to throw up for the first time when you are so cognizant, it is mind boggling to me that a kid could eat, sleep, ride in the car, take medicine for three years and not throw up. Is that even possible?

Between us, Dave, the grandmothers, and I have cleaned up countless gallons of vomit. Vomit is so much a part of our daily lives that we actually have rules about it.
1. No fingers in your mouth. (This one prevents accidental vomit when she is exploring too deeply with all four fingers.)
2. If you throw up, you will clean it up. (This sounds harsh, but when you have a kid who can vomit at will, you have to do something to deter it.)
3. You must eat something before we ride in the car in the mornings. (Otherwise, she will throw up, typically as we turn into the parking lot wherever we are going.)
4. You must eat something before you take yucky medicine. (This rule was added just this morning when the yucky stuff bounced right off the bottom of her stomach, back up her throat, and onto my kitchen floor. This counts as Lesson 3 in the Second Medicine Wars.)
5. If you throw up your medicine, you just have to take it again. (See #4 above).
6. No opening the diaper can and sniffing it. (Yes, she does this and her sensitive gag reflex can't handle it.)

Vomit started early and often in EGR's life. Read here for our experience in The Evil Place when my very young baby puked so much that we had to have the lady with the mop clean it up. When she was merely an infant, she got car sick and still does. We've gone to great lengths to prevent and prepare for vomit. We've drugged her with Benadryl (it works). We keep a vomit cup in the car. In cold weather we put her jacket on backward over her carseat straps so we just have to shed one layer to clean up, and we keep an extra in the car. We always have a change of clothes for her. We've developed efficient techniques for cleaning puke out of the carseat buckles. We've trained her to puke in the cup, in the toilet, leaning over the hard floor with her feet spread wide so it doesn't get on her. We recognize the cough that means it's coming up, even if she's sleeping deeply. She pukes when she's riding, when she swings too long, when she smells something nasty too early in the morning, when she has sinus drainage, when the medicine is just too yucky, when she melts down completely, when she's in full tantrum - the possibilities are endless, really. Inevitably, if she has eaten shrimp (and she eats piles of it), she throws up later that night for some reason or another (No, it's not because she's allergic to shrimp, it's just coincidence.)

Even Luke, in his long 8 weeks, has thrown up on me so many times I've lost count. And, if the kids aren't throwing up, the cats or the dog leave a pile for us to find. Indeed, vomit is a part of our daily lives. It's so routine that it would take lots and lots of persistent vomit to for me to even consider that one of them might have a virus. Ironically, stomach virus is not one of the reasons Ella has ever thrown up.

Stay tuned for the next installment: Babies Who Don't Spit Up: What's that about?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Second Medicine Wars

EGR is fighting a nasty sinus infection right now and we just started the second round of antibiotics for it. She handled the first round very well - Omnicef, once a day for ten days. Day 10 got a little tricky, and included the second doctor's visit because I hadn't seen any improvement. Now, she has to take Augmentin and Mucinex twice a day, for ten days. We've gotten most of three doses in her, but it hasn't been pretty. Some things we've learned:

1. Even though she weighs nearly 33 lbs. and I'm newly recovered from a C-section (sort of), I can still hold her down if needed.
2. Spitting the medicine out really isn't worth it because then she just has to taste it again.

I hate holding her down and she hates being held down. Proving that I can really encouraged her to cooperate because I only had to do it for half a dose before she decided she would take it. It still isn't easy. The process requires an audience of people, animals, and toys that might need to know how to take medicine, counting, cheering, and bribing, but three doses are in. I'm hoping that she'll figure out that just swallowing it and getting it over with is easier than all the protesting.

This morning, Georgia, Gypsy, and Luke had to be present to watch her take it, she chased it with Diet Dr. Pepper, and I served her cheese Doritos with her biscuit for breakfast. Whatever; the medicine went down (after the first attempt was spit down her shirt). She tells me she doesn't like taking it, it's yucky. It is; it really, really is yucky. I think she's been very brave since she realized just how yucky it is. This morning, once she settled in to eat her Doritos, she told me, "I wike Motrin. It doesn't taste yucky." Poor kid.

I think the Mucinex is working already to clear her head, but I have instructions to bring her back Monday if she hasn't improved signficantly over the weekend. I'm ready for her to feel better. I need for her to feel better.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Oh, the drama...

Her ladybug sticker washed off in the bathtub.

I stepped on her foot.

She forgot to ask for her new lipstick until bedtime and her heart is broken that she has to wait until tomorrow.

She couldn't find her frog (it was in her hand).

All of these things inspired fits of tears this evening - between 7:15 and 7:45. I'm not talking about little tears; I mean great big, blubbering, slobbering, sobbing fits. It's pitiful. I just keep taking deep breaths and repeating to myself: "This too shall pass. This too shall pass."

I didn't have the heart to tell her that the ladybug sticker wasn't going to survive another bath. I think 2 is as many baths as can be expected for a sticker. She was hilarious, sitting in the bathtub with her arms propped on the sides so the stickers wouldn't get wet. All that's left now is the nasty sticky stuff that we will have to soak/scrub off over the next three days. Apparently, a sticker that would normally fall right off of a child's arm becomes cemented on after soaking in warm water.

I had a small meltdown myself last night after putting her to bed. Sometimes it just hits me that she's growing up so very fast. I can't figure out how she is two years old already, and as I laid beside her, studying her sweet face, I had a vision of her 16 years from now. I left her room and cried about it. No one ever told me it would hurt so much to watch them grow up. I think this is all hitting me a little hard right now because it's pretty likely that Luke is my last baby, and he's already outgrowing his 3 month sized clothes! Plus, I'll be going back to work in about a month, so I'm trying to soak up as much of his tiny babyhood as I can. If only there was a way to let them grow up and keep them little and cuddly, too, for those times when you just need to hold your little babies again. Two-year-old Ella is so much fun, but what I wouldn't give to hold her again when she looked like this.
I feel like everyone expects her to be even more grown up than she is because we have Luke now, and that's frustrating for me. Even I am guilty, but I'm trying to remember that she is only two. Just because she looks and talks like a three year old, doesn't mean she is as mature as one. One day, she was the baby, the next, everyone expects her to be grown and stop acting her age. When I realized that, I felt guilty. When I started thinking about how that must seem to her, I felt a stab in my heart. I pray constantly for guidance in raising her (and now Luke) - that I'll be able to teach them how to behave while still respecting them, that I won't completely screw them up, that I'll be strong enough to let go over and over again as they grow up. I'm doing the best I can, I think, and I hope that will be enough to grow them into successful, productive, empathetic, content, God-loving adults. He gave them to me to raise; I know He will help me do it.

The H. Luke Update
He was 7 weeks old on Wednesday. Monday, he rolled over from his stomach to his back. When I hold him in my lap, he will lean on my shoulder and stand up until his little legs just get too tired to support him. Just today, I watched him try to sit up straight from a semi-reclined position. I knew he was strong in the womb; he really is. He already plants his feet and scoots backward out of his diaper while I'm changing it. Like I told Dave over and over again while I was pregnant, he is a whole other ball of energy than Ella.

He consistently smiles and coos now in response to us, especially me and Ella. He loves the bouncy seat and the mobile above the changing table, otherwise he wants to be held so he can see your face or crunched up in a ball facing outward so he can see the world (depending on the time of day). Just as Ella does, he amazes me. He is beautiful and different and I love the smell of him. The smell is another thing I wish I could preserve for eternity. Heaven will smell like clean clothes and my babies' heads.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Few Pictures

This spunky face says it all, and look at the smirk on his. I think there's trouble in my future.
EGR really wants to play with him but right now she settles for holding him and chatting with him. This morning he was making noises and I asked her what he was saying. She said, "He's saying 'Elwa!'" Indeed, it did sound like he said, "Ella." He probably did.
This was his first bath as a real boy - sans cord stump. It fell off 2 days shy of 3 weeks old.
First day of church - 10 days old.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Overnight in the Roper House: A Sneak Peek

Last night was magical. Both kids were asleep for the night by 8:40, and after the evening meltdown, an early silence was much appreciated. I actually got a chance to lie on the couch by myself and have a conversation with my husband. It was glorious.

I went to bed a little after 10, and I knew that Luke would be awake soon because his last feeding was at 7 pm. He woke up at midnight and I nursed him and put him back in his little bed. When he woke again at 1:20, I realized that there was another little body half on top of me and I had my arm wrapped around her. I had no recollection of her getting in bed with me. I rolled her onto Dave's pillow and sat up to nurse Luke. Dave came to bed then (I've said it before, don't ask about his night time habits.) and I told him, "There's a pixie on your side. You can try to move her back to her bed."

He scooped her up and stepped two steps out of the room when I heard, "Miiiilk." I started laughing, then she realized he was carrying her and she said, "I want to go see Mommy." He put her back where she was, left the room for a few minutes, then came back with her milk cup. She was asleep, so he took it back to the kitchen and did something else before he came back and moved her over so he could get in bed. She responded with, "NO!" I said, "Shh, he sleeps in this bed, too." And she said, "You're a sweet daddy." All of this while she was not really awake.

We sleep in a queen-size bed. Luke's bed is a side-car next to me. There's just not enough room to sleep that many people for more than a couple of hours of early morning snuggling, so I told him I would take her back to her bed when I finished feeding Luke.

I put Luke back in his bed and got Ella up and into her bed. Then we had to get up again for the milk cup. We settled into her bed and I heard Luke's protest: "Aaack! Aaack!" Dave came to Ella's room and said, "Just take her back in there and I'll sleep in here." I said, "Just let me get Luke, and sleep in your spot." He brought Luke to me, who immediately stopped crying when I tucked him in on the other side of me. We slept like that until 3:00, when I woke up and moved Luke and I back to our bed. He woke up shortly after that to nurse and didn't want to go back into his bed so I tucked him into my armpit for the rest of the night. I think I nursed him once more before Ella came back in during the 6 o'clock hour and we cuddled three in a row until it was time to get up. I'm not sure what time Dave left for work, but it was before Ella came back. I vaguely remember hearing his alarm at 5:00. I don't know if he was in the bed then or not.

The best part was that no one pooped, so I didn't have to change a diaper until it was time to wake up this morning.

I woke up amazingly rested.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Laaaaaid Back

This is how Luke fell asleep while I was wearing him last Sunday at a baby shower. He loves to sleep with his head in the weirdest positions. He loves to sleep. I love that he loves to sleep.

He does wake up a couple of times at night, which I fully expect to continue for a long time. What I was not expecting was this weird, almost telepathic connection between my children. HOW does Ella know every time he wakes up during the night and at naps? I pick him up and feed him before he cries, yet she still wakes up. Is he sending out a bat signal I don't know about? I wanted my children to have a close relationship, but I think this level of closeness might make me lose my sanity.

The EGR Update
Aside from fully frustrating me with her sleep regression, her uncanny knack for pooping every time I sit down to nurse, and her pretend crying every time Luke cries, she's hilarious.

On the way to school yesterday, she asked me, "Where is the gun?"
Me: Um, did you say gun?
EGR: Uh-huh.
Me: We don't have a gun.
EGR: Grandma does.
Indeed, Grandma does have a gun. And it stays at her house.

On the way home from school, we had another discussion about not touching the door handles while we are riding in the car (the child locks are on, by the way). It went like this.
EGR: You don't want to see me touch it?
Me: Touch what?
EGR: The door?
Me: Oh, the handle? No, you cannot touch it. I don't want you to fall out of the car while I'm driving. What would I do if you fell out?
EGR: You would pick me up, kiss me, and put me back.
She has an answer for everything.

The director at the preschool stopped me last week to discuss moving Ella up to an older class. Her verbal language is apparently pretty advanced compared to the other kids in her class and they want to move her to a class with other kids that talk as well as she does. The kids in the new class are six to nine months older than her and potty trained. She could be potty trained, but she hasn't made that decision yet. Dave and I decided to give the move a try and see how it goes. I'm thinking she might have been getting bored already, and I'm hoping an older class might help with some of the regression we are seeing at home. I'd also love for peer pressure to work it's magic in the area of potty training.

She had a trial period yesterday just to see how she'd react to going into the class with the other kids, and she did great. She wasn't even hesitant or shy with them. Today is the first day they were sending her to the new class from the start, and she was excited about it so I can't wait to hear what she has to say about it this afternoon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Our Toilet Saga

Over the weekend, Dave realized the basement toilet was leaking. He soaked up the mess with towels and turned off the water. He thought. Tuesday, he realized the water wasn't off because the valve was broken and there was water all over the floor again. He soaked that up and set up a bucket to catch the drip.

Ella came upstairs and announced, "Oh gosh, our potty's broken." As if that's the only one in the house.

Dave and I discussed a plan and I added "toilet guts" and "quarter-turn shut off valve" to my list of things to get the next day. I could hear water dripping into the bucket from the kitchen. It wasn't pretty. On the way to Lowe's, we discussed again and decided to just go ahead and buy a new toilet. The one in the basement was probably put in when the house was built. It's ancient and it has issues - issues other than the leak.

With my entourage in tow, we went to Lowe's and shopped for a toilet. I finally found the same one we just put in our new bathroom and I had my personal Lowe's assistant load it up for me. He was happy to help. Dave got home and assessed the situation again only to discover that the ancient toilet is cemented to the floor. He replaced the shut off valve so we could turn off the water and loaded the new toilet back into my car so Luke and I could return it and follow the original plan of getting the toilet guts to repair the old one.

On the way to school this morning, Ella asked me if Georgia was in the back (she usually goes to school with us) and I explained that she wasn't because the toilet was back there and I had to take it back. We talked about the leak and that Daddy had fixed it all the way to school. In the carpool line, the lady who always gets her out of the car greeted her like she has every morning for a month. For the very first time, Ella actually responded. She said,"Our toilet is broken." I burst out laughing. Then she continued with, "Water is leaking." I could hear her telling the lady all the way in the door about Daddy fixing it and making it better. Who knew a broken toilet would finally get her to talk to the carpool teachers? One of the ladies told me, "She's such a grown up in that little body." Indeed, she is.

The EGR Update

If you pay attention to her ongoing dialog while she's playing, you will hear her "reading" her books to her babies. She has many of them memorized now. You'll also hear her read her Bible, which could be any random piece of paper she finds; I think it's because of the Bible story pages they use in Sunday school. She reads it like this, in her reading voice: "The Bible loves me this I know, Jesus tells me so." I love it.

She also pretends to be the teacher now and I've heard her tell her students that she was going to paint their hands for their mommies and daddies, and to "put your hands together; we are going to say the blessing." I've heard her sing the blessing once, but she won't do it again. When I ask her what her students are learning at school, she tells me "Jesus." I have to hand it to the Concord program, Jesus is the prevailing theme there. She's learning all kinds of things: colors, letters, shapes, songs, stories, manners, etc. but Jesus is the one thing she always comes home with.

The H. Luke Update

The Little Man has started to coo at us - usually when Ella and I are having breakfast and he's sitting at the table with us. He's growing so fast, it's already time to clean some clothes out of the dresser - many of them he has never even worn because they are long-sleeved and/or footed. I also think I need to take the extra head support out of his carseat, but he still needs it. I may need to just go ahead and adjust the straps for him. I have a feeling we'll be buying him a convertible seat before he's a year old because he's going to outgrow the infant seat.

He also does something I thought only happened in movies. He cries to be laid down. Then he goes to sleep. Without help. It only happens for the naps that occur early in the day, but still, EGR has never ever done that, to this day. The only time she falls asleep without help is while she's riding.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Prelude to Menopause

At my two week postpartum check up, my doctor gave me one of his prepared speeches about the state of my body. It went something like this.

"Women your age are either pregnant or not pregnant, but really there is a third state after you have a baby that is more like menopause. You'll experience nightsweats, mood swings, etc due to the changes in your hormones.. blah blah blah."

At two weeks postpartum with my second child, it wasn't necessary to tell me I'd experience nightsweats. Holy puddles, they started before I even left the hospital. There is nothing like sitting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby and feeling the pool of sweat between your boobs run downward to be soaked up by your shirt. Nothing like wet hair sticking to your neck so that you have to pull it back in a ponytail. Then, then as you sit out from under the wet sheets that you previously didn't need, you quickly turn into a drippy popsicle in the air conditioning and ceiling fan (both of which you can't live without). I'm constantly sweaty, cold, sweaty, cold until morning. Yeah, no need to tell me I'd experience nightsweats - how about telling me when they will end?!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Little Waitress

Apparently we eat out a lot because there is a new game in our house. Ella has a little black, flip open note pad that she uses to take our orders in full Waffle House style. It goes like this.

EGR: Mommy, what you have?
Me: Eggs and sausage.
EGR: (pretending to write on her pad) You want milk?
Me: Yes, milk, too. (she writes)
EGR: (flipping her pad closed, smacking it on her thigh, and tapping her foot) That all for you?

I couldn't help but laugh. When she's in the basement, she's a high tech waitress using a Texas Instruments graphing calculator to take our orders. Oh, and don't forget the kids' Coke.

Last night at the supper table, we had some conversation about using our forks correctly - i.e. not raking our food into the floor with them. When said fork disappeared a few minutes later, Dave asked her if she was still using it.
EGR: Yes.
Dave: Where is it?
EGR: I'm just holding it in my toes.
Me: Because toes are a perfectly logical place to hold a fork.

Again, I lost it. We didn't even correct her that time because both of us were laughing too hard.

At bedtime now, I have to tell her to stop talking and that we can talk about XYZ again in the morning. First thing this morning, she restarted her line of questioning about Pop's CPAP machine. She's quite the interrogator. I think she could break down any criminal out there with her persistent questioning on every tiny detail of any subject.

The H. Luke Update
Luke made his acting debut as the baby Jesus in church Sunday morning. He did great; he slept right through until our part was over and then he was ready to eat.

Last week we started him on Zantac for reflux. Saturday night I decided not to give it to him any more because it upsets his stomach so much that he cried more than he did with just the reflux. I think I'll be taking him back to the doctor to talk about this.

We've indoctrinated him into the bath and bedtime routine and now I think he really looks forward to it. I bathe him in the little tub on the bathroom counter while Ella plays in the big tub. He'll sit in the warm water and listen to her until she's finished playing, then he's ready for bed.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

My KidS

That's kids with a capital S because now I have more than one. A good friend of mine told me multiple times during my pregnancy that adding the second kid was a major adjustment for him, and a lot more work than having the first one. His kids have about the same age difference between them as mine. I took his warning in with a grain of salt, but I have to say that there are times when I think he's exactly right. And, there are times when I feel like I've found my stride and I'm handling this transisition very well. It depends very much on the quantity and quality of sleep I've had.

I've never tip-toed around the fact that the middle of the night is the most challenging part of motherhood for me. This time is harder, partly because I have two to parent, but mostly because I'd gotten so accustomed to one wake up for less than 20 minutes. I've had to make a big effort to adjust my expectations back to the newborn phase. Luke only wakes up a couple of times, but it takes a whole lot longer to get him back to sleep because we have to go through the whole nurse, burp, poop, change, swaddle, etc. routine each time. It's helped for me to think back to Ella's first few weeks and remember that I did the same things with her and this is normal. I was just less prepared for all of the middle of the night awake time this time around - which seems weird to me since I've done this before. It is doubly challenging when Ella wakes up, too, sometimes more than Luke, sometimes at the same times, sometimes because his crying wakes her, sometimes her crying wakes him - it's enough to make me curse under my breath as I trudge through the house in the dark.

Luke is more receptive to Dave cuddling him to sleep than Ella ever was, so he's been able to tag team with me on nights when it's really rough because they are awake and crying at the same time. Ella doesn't mind me bringing Luke to her bed to nurse while I sit with her until she falls back to sleep, but he sounds like a very noisy piglet while he's nursing so I often wonder how she even falls asleep at all with all that noise. She does, but some nights I have to tamp down my frustration when she keeps sitting up to look at him and my frustration with him at being so loud. (I told you, I'm at my worst in the middle of the night.)

Luckily, Ella is at an age and phase in her life where she seeks Dave out and he is very effective with her. The perfect timing of this is an answered prayer because I've really needed his help with her in the last three weeks. It's been very humbling to admit that there are times when he is more effective at parenting her than me. That's one reason why kids have two parents, I guess, but it's humbling for me anyway. It also makes me love him so much more. It's been cool to see how I've fallen in love with him differently with each kid.

But on days when it's good, it's so good. When I finally had a few hours alone with both kids to figure it out by myself, I felt so validated. I managed, they were both happy at the end of it, and there was peace in our house. I've had a lot of help from my family since I came home from the hospital because I really, really needed it. My recovery has been harder this time; I had a lot more pain and obviously a lot more to handle with a two year old. However, having someone with me all the time seems to negatively affect Ella's adjustment to sharing me. Sharing me with Luke hasn't been a problem, but sharing me with the grandmothers is more than she can handle at times.

Overall, I think she's adjusting well to being a big sister. Her new relationship with Daddy has really helped in times when I can't do what she wants/needs immediately and when she needs some focused play time. She may still choose to wait for me to be available, but Dave is an option now - and often a preference. She eagerly waits for him to come home in the evenings so he can play with her. She understands that all the things I do for Luke are things I did for her when she was a baby and I validate that every time she talks about it. She loves her little brother, and there is nothing sweeter than watching her kiss, cuddle, and talk to him.

He loves her, too. His eyes light up and he seeks her out when he hears her voice, and he is content to sit and watch her for a long time. I know that there will be times when they drive each other nuts, but I'm very happy that they will have each other.