Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This, too, shall pass… This, too, shall pass

Today marks day 4 of Ella’s execution of Operation Sleep Deprivation, Fall 2011 Edition. Seriously, is she observing the 1 year anniversary of her brother’s newborn weeks for us?

If you have a sleepless infant, stop reading now. Seriously. This isn’t going to be encouraging for you.

She’s 3. Except for a few brief weeks when she was 3 months old, she has been a notoriously horrible sleeper. She was 2 before she started sleeping through the night at all. She was 3 before she was doing it with any sort of consistency, and by “consistency” I mean a few nights a week – not all of them.

You know what is consistent? A few things.
  • Sunday nights. She is going to wake up at least twice on Sunday night. Is it because the weekend has a different routine than the weekdays? Is it because she’s had 2 days with me and she knows we go back to Grandmother’s/work on Monday? Probably both things.
  • Exhaustion. The more tired she is, the worse she sleeps. It takes longer to get her to sleep and she wakes up over and over, usually with nightmares about things in her bed. It is very hard to break this cycle, and it leads to whining (which feels like it sucks the life force right out of me every time I hear that grating voice).
  • Milestones. Her milestones, seen and unseen, have always been a source of nightwaking and now it seems that Luke’s milestones are also a source of nightwaking – for her. I can mark on the calendar when she’s going to have a rough couple of weeks of sleep – December and June, her birthday and half-birthday months. Sometimes, we even get some quarterly disturbance in March and October, though, blessedly, these phases have lessened as she’s gotten older.
  • Change. Vacation, the start of school, new sibling, new cousin, rearranging of furniture – all of these things disrupt her sleep. When we rearranged her bedroom to fit more furniture in there for Luke, her sleep was disturbed for a week.
  • Illness. This one is obvious and expected, but still, consistent.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know.

Maybe because I’m completely frustrated in my exhausted state because it’s been so much better lately and now we are back to a pattern that resembles that awful period when she was a teething, six-month-old and I swore I would never bring another baby into this world. It’s even harder on me when the disruption happens after a long period of magical, good sleep. It’s a hard expectation to reset, that one about getting 2 consecutive hours of uninterrupted sleep at a time.

Maybe because despite what everyone would have you believe about their perfect little babies sleeping through the night from day one, I know that’s not true for most people and I want you to know that you aren’t alone if you have a bad sleeper.

I’m telling myself again, “This, too, shall pass, this, too, shall pass.” It’s my mantra in times like this, times when I understand why sleep deprivation is a method of torture for prisoners of war. In a day or two, it will start to improve and we’ll get back on track for a while. Maybe I’ll figure out what caused this most recent disruption, you know, if she starts solving algebraic equations with her M&Ms at supper or something.

So, parents of non-sleepers, know that you aren’t alone and it will get better. Eventually.

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Sister is a Rock Star

This is Jake’s birth story, told from my perspective.

August 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm
6 lbs. 14 oz.
18 inches

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Rebecca called after her weekly appointment to tell me that she was dilated approximately 4 cm and her doctor didn’t think she would make it another week.

Friday, August 12, 2011
We emailed all day and she was having contractions 20 minutes apart.

Saturday, August 13, 2011
I called her at 10 am to check in because we were headed to a birthday party and I didn’t know if I’d be in cell phone range. She told me she wasn’t having any contractions, but she was cutting the bushes in her front yard. (And I thought, “Uh-hmmm, she’s having that baby this weekend.”)

At 9:30-ish that night, she texted to say that she’d been having contractions 8 minutes apart for a while. She didn’t want me to come because they weren’t painful and she wasn’t sure if it was real labor. We decided we would head to bed to get some rest, just in case it was a long night. I packed a bag for myself and readied some things for the kids in case I needed to leave them overnight. As it turns out, it was a rough night, but it wasn’t because of Jake. On top of me not being able to go to sleep because my mind was racing, Ella and Luke both woke up multiple times that night.

Sunday, August 14, 2011
I called her before church to check in and she said she was going to time the contractions for an hour and get back to me. I got a text from her as we arrived at church saying they were 6-7 minutes apart and still pretty much painless. Again, she told me not to come yet. They were going to breakfast, and she’d check in when they got back.

At the end of church, I got a text saying the contractions had stopped once she showered and was up, moving around. We texted back and forth during the day about things she could do to try to start them back up, and then I took a big fat nap with Luke while Ella played at Grandmother’s house.

We went to my dad’s house for his birthday supper (because August 14 is his birthday). Rebecca got up to use the bathroom before she fixed her plate, but she came walking back into the room with a funny look on her face and said, “I think my water just broke. I felt the pop.” Then she walked all the way to the other side of the kitchen and stood there. (She later told me that she was trying not to drip on the hardwoods.) I brought her a towel and she headed to the bathroom. She changed pants and confirmed that the water was clear. It was about 6:15 pm.

In the middle of that happening, Ella was getting very concerned about all the activity, so I explained to her that while babies are growing in their mommies tummies there is a bag of water that they swim in, and that when it’s time for them to be born, that bag breaks and the water comes out, and that is what happened to Aunt Becca. It was time for Jake to be born.

Much to my family’s consternation, Rebecca decided to sit down and eat before she headed to the hospital. The contractions started then, and she timed them. They started at 4 – 5 minutes apart but were very quickly 1-2 minutes apart. Jan packed her cheesecake to-go, and then hurried them out the door. They had to go to their house first to get their things.

I finished my supper, ran home and packed bags for the kids. In anticipation of me being at the hospital all night, they were going to spend the night with Grandmother so that Dave wouldn’t have to wake them up even earlier than normal to take them there the next morning. Then I headed to the hospital.

We all (Nathan and Rebecca, me, and our friend, Kendall) arrived there at 7:30 pm.

Rebecca was changing into a gown and waiting on the nurse when I found her. She told me the ride there was excruciating, and “This is hard. It hurts!” I said that I absolutely believed her. They made her lay in the bed for half an hour to monitor the baby and answer all the questions between contractions. This was also excruciating for her. I could tell, because she was arching her back and curling her toes. The contractions were one on top of another at this point, so she was barely getting a break. The nurses struggled to get an IV line in between them.

When the nurse checked her, which took forever, she said she felt like she was at 6 cm but she had a hard time finding her cervix because the baby’s head was so low. This information made me stop and think, “Hmmmm. I bet she won’t be 6 for long once she gets upright.” Rebecca was a little disappointed that she was only at 6.

Finally, they took her off the monitors and she went to the bathroom while someone hunted down an exercise ball for her to sit on. When she came out, she sat on that ball and groaned, saying, “This thing is heaven.” She sat on that ball and held our hands and breathed in and out, slow and easy for the duration.

The lights were low, her Chinese restaurant music was tinkling in the background, and we were whispering if we talked at all. We just sat there in the quiet, breathing with her. I’m not sure how long we sat like that because I lost track of the time (and the clock in the room showed military time – which I am horrendously bad at translating to real time). I think it couldn’t have been more than about 45 minutes, maybe an hour. At one point, she did say that she was afraid to push and she just didn’t know how he was going to come out; she also started shaking. I think those were classic signs that she was in transition, but otherwise, she appeared very calm and quiet.

Eventually, the on-call doctor came in and checked her. She was complete (10 cm). She didn’t feel pushy and wanted to get back on the ball, so that’s what she did. The doctor left and we commenced sitting with her while she breathed. If she was getting any break between the contractions, I couldn’t tell because she never lifted her head or said anything. The only indication that she was having contractions was the squeezing of our hands and the very controlled breathing.

Then, less than ten minutes later, she suddenly launched herself onto the bed and said she needed to push. I doubt I’ll ever see a 9 1/2-months-pregnant woman move that fast again. She started pushing on hands and knees, but turned around to sit at the end of the bed after a few pushes. They broke the bed down so that she was pretty much sitting in a squat, and that’s how she pushed him out. She did try to lie back to rest a couple of times, but it hurt too much. The pushing contractions spaced out a bit, as I’ve read that they do, and during those breaks she looked as if she was sleeping. Maybe she was. I’ve heard that women do that. Even during pushing, she was very quiet. The doctor commented that she couldn’t even tell when she was contracting because she was so quiet. We did remind her to catch her breath and slow her breathing during contractions, but really, she just looked like she’d done this a few times before. It was amazing.

Jake was born at 9:42 pm. Two hours and 12 minutes after we got to the hospital. I think she pushed for about 40 minutes. It might have gone even faster than that, but he “threw [her] and elbow,” as she put it, on the way out. He came out with his head cocked to the side, like he was trying to bring his shoulder out with it. Once he was on her belly, she said, “I can’t believe I just pushed that out.” (I stupidly remarked that he was tiny. Note – that’s the wrong thing to say to a woman who has just pushed a baby out of her body. Just sayin’.)

She had a couple of abrasions, but she didn’t tear. The doctor was wonderful – she just sat back and let her do what she needed to do.

Jake swallowed a belly full of fluid, so he required a little extra work, but he pinked-up quick and he went with her to the postpartum room.

She said it was the hardest thing she’s ever done in her life. Now she’s considering running a marathon (she’s done a half) because if she can push out a baby, she can do anything. And by the way, Nathan was amazing, too. He stayed calm and composed, putting cold rags on her, holding her hand, and doing whatever she needed.

I’m so proud of her.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Reconciliation: When You Break the Rules

I posted the other day about our rules for fighting, and then I went home that night and broke rule number 1: Be respectful.

It was bedtime. I could hardly hold my eyes open. Dave had already retired to the couch and crashed, after giving up in the middle of a reading of The Berenstein Bears Go Out to Eat. Ella was still flopping all over the bed. I tried all my usual tricks of getting her to calm down and be still, but she was persistent. I even tried just going to sleep while she wiggled, but she has an annoying habit of waiting just long enough for me to doze off and then asking for water, needing to potty, covering my mouth and nose with her hand so that I snort awake dramatically. You get the idea.

I finally lost it and snapped at her. I can’t tell you my words; I just know the tone was U.G.L.Y. What was even uglier was her reaction. She hunkered down into her pillow with her blanket up to her ears and whimpered.

Now, while quiet, still, and calm was the end I was going for, neither of us liked the means to get there.

I laid there for a few minutes, enjoying the peace, and feeling like the speck on top of chicken poo. I could feel her feeling like that, too, and I knew I had to fix it.

I leaned over and whispered, “I’m sorry I talked to you in my rough voice. I love you.”

She said, “Mommy, next time, at bed time, can you just use your regular voice?”

And, so here I am again, in this place where I publicly wander through parenthood, trying not to screw up my children, with the reminder that even when you break the rules, you can still make it right.

Conflict doesn’t have to be THE END of a relationship; it’s a crossroads where decisions are made and growth happens. Sometimes it sucks deep and wide to admit your shortcomings and apologize for something you did or said (or didn’t do or say), but it’s the next step, the thing you have to do to move forward.

And, you know what else? Following those rules takes practice. Lots of it, especially with those who really know how to push all the right buttons and raise your blood pressure – you know, the people you love most. But they are the most important ones, see? Love for someone isn’t a free pass for behaving like a donkey’s behind and then pretending like it never happened. Just because that person will probably forgive you in their next breath, doesn’t mean you don’t owe them some follow through - an acknowledgement of your bad behavior and an apology.

So, despite the fact that – no, because she’s an adult-in-training, I apologized for my bad behavior. She needs to see me mess up, and she needs to see me make it right. How else will she learn?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reason # 231 Why Nursing is Convenient for Me

The Nap ‘n Nurse.

Definition: Me and Luke tucked into bed together, nursing and snuggling through a long, fat nap. (Like, two and half hours long. It’s that good.)

Oh yes, it is one of my favorite things about nursing my babies, the Nap ‘n Nurse. They sleep longer. I sleep longer. They are so cuddly. And, when they are latched on to nurse, even the ringing phone doesn’t wake them (usually). It’s fabulous.

It’s especially fabulous on a Sunday afternoon following a very sketchy Saturday night of “sleep” – you know, one of those nights where there is more waking than sleeping. (If you don’t know, good for you and aren’t you special?)

So ladies, when you decide to nurse your babies, make it a priority to learn how to nurse in the side-lying position. It’s a bit tricky at first, but it’s worth practicing. I promise.

August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month, so I couldn’t let it get by without a post about nursing.

Why else is nursing good for me? I’m glad you asked!

1. It’s readily available whenever I need it. There’s always more, and it doesn’t require any preparation. I don’t have to worry about forgetting the milk, or the bottle, or the bottle liner, or the cup, or the lunch because I’m carrying all that with me all the time.
2. It gives me a perfect reason to sit on my boohonkus. And to nap.
3. It burns 600ish extra calories a day. You know that extra fat you gain around your butt and thighs while you’re pregnant? Yeah, that’s especially designed to store energy for making milk. If you don’t make the milk? I guess you get to keep the butt. (Seriously, this is the smallest my butt has ever been. Ever.)
4. It makes taking care of a sick baby so much easier. Throwing up? Nurse. Stuffy nose? Saline drops, then nurse. It makes the duration of the illness shorter, too.
5. It empowers me.

Why did I choose breastmilk over formula? I’m glad you asked!

1. It’s the best. Hands down, no argument, it’s the thing that was made for feeding human babies. No other milk comes anywhere close. Formula has its place (and it’s place is 4th, after feeding from the breast, pumped milk and donor milk), and I won’t judge you if you choose formula, but I feel so passionately about the healing, perfectness of breastmilk that I will give mine away to other babies that need it. In fact, I feel so passionately about it, that I would probably attempt to relactate if anyone in my immediate family was ever diagnosed with a terminal illness.

That’s it. I was going to make a longer list about all the benefits for me and my babies, but that’s been said better and more officially, so I’ll just leave it at this: Breastmilk is best.

It’s not always easy. In fact, the first few couple of weeks can be very hard, but it’s worth the work to get to the other side.

Here are some resources, in case you are looking for information.

The Many Benefits of Breastfeeding

Getting Started

About Formula

And, as I’ve said before, my go-to resource for questions and troubleshooting: Kellymom.

And, finally, I leave with you with a moment in time. I’m so happy to have this picture. It shows so much: one pair at the beginning of the journey, and working hard to find their way; the other nearing the end of theirs. Nothing makes a baby seem to grow up as fast as another new baby.
Rebecca and Jake (5 days), Me and Luke (12 months), nursing our babies

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It's Official: Luke is 1.

Somehow an entire year has passed since this happened.

Luke, in utero on his birth day
Dang, how did I ever fit him in there?! Dave took a picture of me in the waiting area outside the OR right before we went in for all the pre-op stuff, and I am not kidding when I say it looks like I’m holding a beach ball under my shirt. And, I was wearing one of Dave’s XXL shirts!

Here he is, minutes after we met face to face.
Luke, minutes old
He was such a quiet, cuddly baby. He’s still a quiet, cuddly toddler – except when he’s yelling at his sister, but sometimes a man just has to stand up for himself.

Here he is now. He’s finally doubled his chin, but he’s still a skinny little thing.
Luke, 1 year
At 12 months old he is a walking, talking, eating machine. The child loves to eat; what he does not love is being fed snack when he knows that real food (read: supper) is cooking. I have to banish him from the kitchen until it’s time to eat because he drives me nuts, climbing my leg, lunging into the pots/pans/oven when I pick him up. He doesn’t care if the broccoli is raw, he’s ready to eat!

He says a bunch of things:

Mmmmnak (snack)
Up we go
Soft touch
All done
Dog dog
Thank you
I love you

And he sings – the ABCs, M-I-C-K-E-Y, God of Wonders, and other sing along songs. (Obviously he sings them in Jibberish, but you can pick out the tune.) He loves music. When we play in The Big Room, he goes to the radio and stares at it so that we know we need to turn it on. Sometimes he dances, if he really likes the song.

He reads; he loves books. I put all the board books on the shelf that he can reach, and I often find him sitting in the floor with books all around, studying. He demands that we read a stack at bedtime, and then I have to hide them to get him to go to sleep.

He walks and climbs. He already knows how to go up and down stairs. He knows how to back off of the couch or bed feet-first. He thinks he can step into the bathtub by himself, and he would if there were a step stool in the bathroom.

He sneaks and opens the potty, plays in it, and closes it back so we won’t know he’s been there – all in silence. He pulls off pieces of toilet paper and tears them into tiny bits, strewing them through the house in his wake, like a flower girl.

He loves the play kitchen and the McDonald’s drive-thru. He makes a cell phone out of anything, including his hand, and walks around talking on it all the time (“Hey!” “Hey!”), sometimes he gives it to us to talk, too.

He plays peek-a-boo, especially when we are waking Ella up in the mornings and he’s finding her under the covers. He also plays patty-cake, and he rolls the dough. He folds his hands for the blessing, and then he claps for Ella after she sings it.

He started “school” Tuesday (he’s going to Mother’s Day Out twice a week), and he loves it. When we went to Meet the Teacher night, we had to drag him out of his classroom.

He’s already cut his nursing sessions down to sleep times (most days), and he usually wakes up twice over night to nurse and cuddle.

He has four teeth and another one about to pop through any day.

Edited to add: He weighs 20 lbs. and 14 oz and he's 30.5 inches long.

He’s a happy, affectionate, active toddler who is, quite literally at times, running head first into his second year. One year ago today, God blessed me with another amazing child, so different from his sister, yet a perfect fit in our family.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham

We had our first literary - science experiment over the weekend. Dave and Ella have been reading Green Eggs and Ham lately, so she requested green eggs and ham for lunch after church.  We made a stop at the grocery store for ham and food coloring, then we got to it. Here they are. Interestingly, I had to add a few drops of yellow food coloring to the green to get this color. The green coloring alone made them look teal.

Green eggs and ham

I was going to mix the ham in the eggs so it would be green, too, but she just wanted regular ham. Dave couldn't believe I could eat green eggs because I have issues with food not being the color it's suppsed to be, but he didn't know that this wasn't my first round with green eggs and ham. I did this experiment myself as a kid, so I'd already dealt with most of my problem about eggs needing to be yellow. I did have a brief moment of squeamishness as I put the first forkful in my mouth but I got over it because green eggs are just as yummy as yellow ones. Given the fact that Ella ate three plates full, I think she enjoyed them, too.  We also had to read the book while we ate.
Ella - She will eat them with a book.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday, Bloody Friday

If Ella is a test of my patience, Luke is a test of my nerves. And, at this rate, I’m going to have nerves of steel (or maybe none at all?).

Less than an hour after my arrival at work this morning, I got this phone call.

Me: Hello?
Grandmother: (baby screaming in the background) We’ve had an accident. There’s blood.
Me: What happened?
Grandmother: (over screaming baby) I don’t know. Can I take him to Dr. Downthestreet?
Me: Yes! What happened?!
Grandmother: I’ll call you back from the car. I can’t hear!
Me: (Waiting, waiting, waiting. Debating driving home right now. Waiting some more.)

Five-ish minutes later
Me: Hello?
Grandmother: He fell and hit his mouth on his push toy. He’s bleeding a lot and I can’t get him to open his mouth. I’m going to take him in and see if they’ll look at him and see if I need to take him to the other doctor (the pediatrician) for stitches. I’ll call you back.
Me: Do I need to leave and meet you there?
Grandmother: No, I’ll call you back when I know if we have to go to the other doctor.
Me: (Waiting, waiting, waiting).

Another ten-ish minutes later.
Me: Hello?
Grandmother: Okay, once we finally got his mouth open, we could see two perfect tooth marks in the top of his tongue. He didn’t bite it all the way through.

She took him home to give him Tylenol and put him to nap. Poor kid. He tripped over some other toys he was playing with and fell on the push toy.

Mouth wounds bleed a lot. Like, ridiculous amounts of blood that make it look much worse than it is. I learned this from Georgia’s puppyhood. Knowing this tidbit might be the only reason I kept my head while I sat here waiting.

So yeah, nerves of steel. And gray hair.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ropers' Rules of the Row

A friend asked me the other day if Dave and I ever fight.


He is a lawyer; I am a know-it-all. It’s our nature.

We debate often and heatedly about non-personal topics (like the legality of surrogacy, the acceptability of homosexual clergy, and the financial impact of breastfeeding on the nation – to name a few recent topics of discussion) for the purpose of entertainment.

We fight, over personal stuff, occasionally. The last real fight I can think of happened about 8 months ago, and like most of our fights, it was over something ridiculous. Namely, the garbage can he gave me for my birthday. (Yes. Yes, he did, and it wasn’t a nice $100 one, either. But that's another story.)

We have a short list of, until now, unwritten rules we follow when arguing. Really, when generally interacting with each other. These rules apply to us and the children (though, obviously, they are still learning how to incorporate the rules into their lives).

1. Be respectful. This is pretty much the number one rule in our house in every situation, and it absolutely applies to arguing. “Be respectful” encompasses tone of voice, words, touch, etc. We do not tolerate rude, condescending voices or name calling. We do not tolerate angry or unwanted touching.

2. Listen. Really listen, not just sit quietly, formulating your next point in your head, while the other person is talking.

3. Explain your perspective. Essentially, this means tell your side of the story using “I” and “me” instead of accusing the other person. This makes number 1 easier.

4. Problem solve. Work together to find an acceptable solution for both parties; look for compromise.

5. Time out. If it all goes south (like it did in The Great Garbage Can Fight of 2010), take a break and come back when you are in a better frame of mind to apply rules 1 through 4 above.

These rules have gradually come into effect over the course of our marriage, to protect me from cross-examination and to protect him from my tendency to control everything. It gives us both a voice and a safe place to use that voice.

The rules also work in discussions with others (outside of my household, I mean), though often number 5 gets invoked a bit sooner if the other person isn’t following the same rules.

I won’t tolerate being disrespected by anyone.

I won’t argue with someone who will not listen.

I won’t argue with someone who refuses to move toward solving the problem.

In those three scenarios, number five is invoked and I walk away. Whether I come back to resolve the discussion depends on my level of investment.

And thoughts about my level of investment are what prompted me to write this today. I stupidly entered into a debate about c-section and birth trauma, and very quickly remembered why I operate within these five rules. Then I walked away.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Luke's First Birthday Party

He doesn't actually turn 1 until the 18th, but we had Luke's first birthday party over the weekend. It was a splashing good time.

Luke, floatin'

We opted for partying early because his soon-to-be born cousin, Jake, is due the 25th,  just 4 days before he was due, and well, Luke was born the week before that, so we didn't want to take any chances with making any hard decisions about attending a party or a birth. I would have hated to call all his guests to tell them his party was postponed indefinitely because, well, a birth is a bit more inflexible than a party date.

He had a blast. He floated for a while, then decided he needed to jump in like the big kids. He would stand on the side and lift his foot like he was trying to take a step up, and that was my cue to "jump" him into the pool. The he laughed and turned back toward the side to do it again. I had to drag him away from this game so we could eat cake.

He just looked at us all like we were crazy while we stood there looking at him, waiting for him to dig into his cupcake. I know he must have been thinking, "This isn't the first time I've eaten cake, people. What is the big deal?"

Then he ate cake and passed out. He power napped through the end of his party, so we took the presents home and opened them later. Ella very generously offered to open them for him while he slept, but I declined.
Sportin' his Mickey ears during a power nap
He got lots of fun things.  A stuffed Mickey, a backpack, a couple of little car playsets, including Batman and Joker - which he promptly grabbed, put to his ear, and said "Hey" when I was trying to show him how to roll them on their track. Like his sister, he apparently knows how to make a cell phone out of anything - even his hand. He got clothes, a new book, "flashing" cards, and a bouncy horse that sings and gallops. He hasn't quite figured out how to get on and off of it by himself yet, but it's only a matter of time until that thing gets a run for it's money.

And now he has a car of his own. He jealously guarded it when Ella tried to take a turn, and I can't say I blamed him. The receipt of his car marked the end of her car's time out. It's been in time out for about two weeks because there was a tussle over it, resulting in a bitten baby finger. It was an ugly scene that I feel certain he will make up for by running her down just as soon as he figures out how to make his car go forward.

Since he already knows how to drive it in reverse, I know it won't be long before we are hosting a full-fledged demolition derby in our Big Room. 
Driving his car

Wednesday, August 03, 2011


Lately I've been feeling like if I have to brush one more little mouth full of teeth, I might lose it.

Like, if I have to say:

"Sit down in the tub."
"Take your vitamin."
"Go potty."
"No you can't have a snack, it's almost time for supper."
"Be still."
"Chairs are for sitting."
"What are you eating?"

...one more time, I might lose it.

Like if I hear one more screaming protest about "I want Diet Dr. Pepper!" I might just lock myself in my bathroom.

Then I started thinking and I realized it's been 6 weeks since I had a break. A real one, I mean. More than the 20 minutes I finally get to myself right before bed when I shower in peace. More than a hard won nap with my children. More than staying up way too late to finish a book (The Help - oh so good!). More, even, than my regular lunch hour that I often share with friends.

I mean a break where I get to do something I want to do while my children are having their needs met by someone else. A break where I come home and the things that need to be done are already done.

So when the opportunity arose to have dinner with a friend after work, I jumped at the chance. I set up the crock pot so supper would be ready. I laid out the Prevacid and a syringe for Luke's antibiotics, so the medicine would be ready. I prepared Ella for the fact that Daddy would be picking them up after work, feeding them supper, and putting them in the tub (Luke doesn't care).

And I went to dinner, where I spent 2 hours eating a meal that I didn't cook (or clean up or portion out into kid sizes) and having an uninterrupted adult conversation.

I feel like a new person.

After just 2 hours, out of the last one thousand and eight.

When I got home, I was greeted at the door by a sweet dog and a freshly bathed toddler. The kitchen was almost completely clean (Dave was finishing up when I came in), and Ella was playing in the tub. I still had to brush her teeth, but in my new frame of mind, it wasn't irritating at all.

At bedtime, Ella peppered me with questions about my "grown-up time":
"What did you eat? What did you drink? What did Ms. Kathy eat? What did she drink? What was your waitress's name? What did you talk about? What else did you talk about?" I felt like I was reporting after a first date.

This morning, Dave filled me in on the details of their evening, and it made me feel even better to hear how well it went.

And, now that my sanity is restored and my nerves are calmed, it's time to schedule a date with my husband. A real one. Without kids.

So, balance. It's really important.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Snack Time!

Luke, loving yogurt melts.