I’m not the first parent to say, “my kid is getting too old, too fast,” or, “he grew overnight!” But I feel like I can officially be grouped into the nostalgic parent club.
Tonight is the second night of introducing the bed rail. I took off one side of his crib yesterday, and thankfully we have had no issues thus far. It’s weird to think about how high the crib setting was just two short years ago. And at school, Wes has transitioned into the early twos class. The new kids in his former class look reeeeeally young. He was a champ today and “talked” about his day all the way home.
Even though most people have recommended we wait to potty train until he is closer to age 3, Wes is showing more and more interest in the whole process of going to the bathroom. He understands where the urine comes from, that Mom and Dad also “go potty,” and that he is still to young to use the toilet, so he potties in his diaper. He gets it. I don’t know how, but one day something clicked with him. With all these new changes happening at once, I find myself living with a little boy – not a baby.
I really enjoy watching Wes grow up. I don’t wish him younger, and I certainly don’t miss the early days of confusion and sleepless nights of anxiety. That’s not to say that I didn’t like baby Wes – I just have made an effort to enjoy each stage of his life as best I can. However, tonight I’ve reminisced about little gurgles, spit up and tiny hands that used to be part of our daily routine.
We have a neighborhood-wide yard sale day this weekend, and I’m planning to get rid of some things sitting in our basement and closets. I am detaching myself from lots of baby gear and doing much better at lending things to families with new babies, but there’s still many things not being used. Big tubs of baby and little boy clothes are filled to the brim, and they keep getting put in the sale pile and then taken out. I’ve even gone through half of the clothes and separated the pieces I just have to save, thinking that will help me justify selling the rest. But there’s still this weird feeling of saying goodbye.
I don’t want to be attached to stuff. Truly, I have everything I need to survive and then some. So why do I hesitate so much about the baby stuff? I mean, even if we do have another kid, all this stuff is replaceable, right? We’re not planning on kid 2 at all. At this point, we’re happy as a family of 3 and will leave the future plans to the guy upstairs. I do think (often) about another child, but it’s time I continued to live as normal and give my existing kid the love and parenting he needs and deserves.
I’m kinda excited to share my summer months with a little boy. And Steven has been waiting for these days since, well, forever. So, I guess now’s the time when I say something cliche, like, “can’t we just freeze time?”
Over the last few months, Steven’s been watching multiple ESPN documentaries from the 30 for 30 series on Netflix. I figured it was as good of title as any for chronicling 30 stories – or in my case, observations and thoughts going forward – after my 30th birthday last week.
People have asked me if I feel any different, and besides the fact that I have been sick with a flu-like virus all week long, I really don’t. However, it got me to thinking about this milestone birthday year, where I am, where I’ve been and what the future looks like. I guess I better backtrack and say, yes, I might feel a little different, but it’s a feeling of anticipation and not of “age.”
I’ve never really thought of 30 as old, but I have been mindful of the history of Jesus. He was 30 when he started his three-year ministry, and I’ve looked up to this age as a landmark year to start a new decade off on the right foot. Good timing, too, because we just finished a sermon series on modeling Jesus and making every effort to live like him. To further prove a point, I received my annual birthday letter from Mr. Dan Stroup last week, and wouldn’t you know that’s exactly what he wrote about? Mr. Stroup was my middle school teacher. He is an amazing man for many reasons, but thankfully CBS Evening News picked up on one reason and aired this little segment a few weeks ago. I’m pleased to be among his 2,800 former students that receive a birthday letter every year.
So, where’s the list? The full list is written in my personal journal, but I’ll share three (which is a dividend of 30!). I don’t want people to get the impression that my life is all bells and whistles and everything is perfect. If you’ve read my blog much at all, you’ve seen my struggles with certain issues, and they affect many of my decisions and thoughts. Turning 30 is a pretty good reason to adjust some of those thoughts toward a straighter path.
Contentedness - I’ve touched a little on this before, but it’s something I’m daily striving for. This falls in basically every area of my life right now: family planning, our house, cars, vacation, jobs… I do love my life, but there’s always something more that would just “make it better,” you know? A house with a second floor would be great for those rough nights with Wes, but we’ve learned to avoid the squeaky wood planks in the floor. A nicer car would be great and would last us for years (I’d really like a Subaru Outback), but we’ve appreciated that we currently don’t have a car payment. And while I’m ready to talk Kid #2, Steven isn’t interested to venture into a family of four. I’m learning that our family unit is pretty great as it is. One of my aunts said once, “when you’re aching for a new baby, hold the ones you have tighter.” I think about these words often, and I’ll tell you, it helps.
Generosity - Sure, we tithe and give to those who ask, but I can do more. One example: I’ve kept all of Wes’ baby things with the thought that we might use them again. I guess it’s still possible, but my attitude of clingyness has been pretty horrible. I failed to lend out my maternity clothes to a coworker, and I felt terrible about it her whole pregnancy. I mean, I borrowed tons of maternity clothes and have accepted hand-me-down toys and clothes for Wes from others, so why not do the same? I’m slowly giving away Wesley’s outgrown things, and I’m doing a much better job of not attaching memories to everything. What’s the point in giving if you don’t do it lovingly?
Hospitality - Before we became parents, we had people over all the time. YouTube parties were a hit, and we’d have nearly 50 people in our little house. I was much better at keeping house at that time, and I’ve gotten busy and lazy. I am embarrassed to have people over, as I have little confidence in the cleanliness of all surfaces and of my cooking and baking skills. I think Pinterest has derailed me. There’s no way I can keep up, but you know what? People probably don’t care all that much. I feel like we’ve lost connections with some of our friends over the years, and I want to repair what I can, develop deeper relationships and form new ones. My parents have a solid group of friends that have been close for over 30 years. I want that. And I want that for Wes, too.
Lots to think about in the next ten years, but I’m ready.
I haven’t posted many videos in a while. Here’s a few of Wes to brighten up your day.
We posted this particular video on social media earlier this month because it’s so darn funny. Here’s Wes asking Siri (iPhone 4S) some tough questions. (You might have to turn up the volume on this one.)
Fascinated with rain at his grandparents’ house. And getting soaked.
He jabbers all day long, though he doesn’t have too many legible words. Just over the last few days has he added this phrase to his vocabulary.
I know technically Sunday is the beginning of the week, but I’m adopting today into the weekend and saying that tomorrow, Monday, is officially next week. And I’m so ready for it.
This week has been one for the birds.
Monday started just fine, and I actually thought, “we’ve made it almost 3 weeks since Wes was last sick!” I jinxed myself and soon after received a phone call that Wes developed a 102.3 degree fever at daycare and needed to be picked up. As I was driving to get him, I received a text message from Steven that bombs went off at the Boston Marathon finish line. My immediate response was for him to check in with our friend Jonathan, whose sister was running that morning. (Thankfully, she is ok.) We watched the news in horror that evening.
The next morning, Steven’s car didn’t start. (And we JUST spent $$$$ on preventative car maintenance!) It worked out, since I had to keep Wes home with a fever, anyway, for Steven to drive the other car. It’s currently still sitting in his work parking lot after it stalled again later in the week.
After a suuuuuper long day Thursday, we were ready for the end of the week. More terrible reports on the news that evening regarding a fertilizer explosion in a small town in Texas. 15 dead, hundreds wounded and missing. Friday morning we awoke to a buzz of overnight developments regarding the Boston marathon bomber suspects. We caught a little of the updates, then broke for one of Wesley’s last First Steps PT sessions (another post, another time). During physical therapy, Steven became feverish and I knew he had picked up what Wes had earlier in the week. We all cuddled in bed, watching the entire Boston area on lockdown. Scary. So, so awful.
Wes typically gets so worn out from PT that he was ready for an early nap. The rest of the morning was spent in feverish fits and breaking news. We finally tore ourselves away from the TV for the afternoon so that Steven could get ample rest. While we did very little on Saturday, I feel like we exhausted ourselves by sickness and national terror, then celebration as the second suspect was brought into custody.
None of us slept well Saturday night, which was the one thing we all needed to get back on our feet. Poor Wes hasn’t been diagnosed yet with asthma or specific allergies, but we have treated his flair ups as such. The best way to alleviate constant coughing from drainage, which then causes wheezing and difficulty of breathing, is to sleep upright in a chair. Needless to say, it’s not very comfortable for either of us. Steven actually spent the night in the basement to try to catch some zzz’s, though his fever kept him from resting regardless.
And today? I purposely left Steven at home while Wes and I went to church followed by lunch out. The hope was that he would be able to finally sleep. Not so. But! At least I got the little guy tired enough to rest for 3 hours this afternoon. It’s now Sunday evening, and I’m ready, so very ready to say goodbye to this week.
My heart and prayers go out to all the families affected in the neighborhoods of West, Texas, Watertown, Cambridge and surrounding Boston areas, and I thank the families of the first responders and police forces for sending their loved ones out to protect the people. And all the volunteers and doctors and nurses treating the wounded. This country may have its hiccups, but there is no shortage of giving people – especially in a time of crisis and emergency.
I’m pretty sure I’ve hit on this point before, so call me paranoid, I guess. I’m in this weird limbo of sorts because Wes is one of the only kids I know who attends daycare. There are a few, though usually the kids in my life are watched by a relative, dropped off at a caregiver’s house, or they have parents who work from or stay at home. I don’t think one is a better option than another, but it does cross my mind a lot.
It makes it tough because I can’t really talk through my troubles with many people and sort out my thoughts.
We’re about to transition Wesley into full-time daycare. Currently he attends 3 days a week, coupled with my mom watching him one day, and I the other. When he was still a tiny little guy, my friend Jillian watched him until he turned one year. He’s been enrolled in part-time daycare since then. My paranoia arises even when I type this.
Will we be able to afford it? His school is highly rated, which means it’s worth the money. But. Three days to five days is a big financial jump. I often find my job, of which I love, and of the not-for-profit salary margin, and the words, “importance” “worth it” and “selfish” in the same thought-sentences. It’s an ongoing battle in my brain.
Will we miss out on his childhood and developments? In other words, will I regret this decision later on? He’s only this age once. I don’t know how to answer this question.
Will he get enough rest? On days at home or at his grandma’s house, Wes will nap an average of two hours. However, with all the distractions at school, group naptime is usually about one hour, tops. He is a tired mess of a crank-ball by the time I pick him up. We struggle to get dinner on the table, eating is a challenge, and BOOM, it’s time for bed. I think we spend less than two hours with Wesley every weekday. It’s pretty crummy.
Will he ever stay healthy? I and his pediatrician are looking forward to the end of cold and flu season so we can kick these frequent winter illnesses in the rear end. With a kid who likes to touch his face, we’re pretty much doomed until Kindergarten.
And, of course, what will people think of us? I have to admit that I do think about how others view us. I know it doesn’t matter, but it affects me. His daycare, for instance, doesn’t cloth diaper. So, we’ve had to change our ways, and I feel a little guilty for not upholding my original plans. I feel like I’m now in this outsider realm of “failed cloth diapering parents.” Why, why does it matter? (Besides saving the environment?)
But then again, I weigh all the positive outcomes of his experiences. His school is a sigh of relief. It’s just down the street from my job, and I can be there in a heartbeat in case of fever or emergency or whatever. He mingles and socializes, which I know is a struggle for him. He learns to trust and obey authority. He learns to share and be part of a community. He learns! I mean, some days I have no idea what to do other than explore the outdoors or draw on a coloring page or destroy a block tower. These are teachers with real-life lesson plans geared toward specific developments of his brain’s age.
It amazes me how much he knows at nearly 21 months old. I’m super proud of him. I wish I could have taught him some of the things he shows me, but I don’t know how to teach him. I know how to love him and encourage him and support him, and I will.
The thing is, I want what’s best for our family. I know I am more fulfilled and happy and successful when I am employed in a wonderful position such as my own. Yes, even on the difficult days, I know this. My time, though it may be limited, with Wesley is more enjoyable when I’m applying and challenging myself during the day. I better appreciate and cherish the laughs and tears and snuggles with my son. I also know that my husband is proud of my accomplishments. He is proud of me! Ain’t that something?
So, I guess our situation may change down the road because I’m obviously still struggling with inconsistent thoughts. But for now, we enter full-time daycare. It’s a family effort. We’ll all feel the change.
Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, the day of celebration. And yesterday was Good Friday. But what about that day of gloom in between? No one seems to recognize it, but I have always considered it one of the worst days of limbo each year.
When my grandma was admitted to the hospital, we knew to say our goodbyes. I was 15; insecure and troubled with my own inner struggles. She was one that I connected with; I wanted to grow up to be like my grandma. She was kind, gentle and had a full heart of love for everybody. And she never lost the chance to tell us grandkids so. But she had not been herself over the last few years; dementia had nestled into her mind and began to do its unfair damage. It’s such a cruel disease. I had slowly said my goodbyes to the grandma I knew up until the hospital.
The followers of Jesus didn’t get a chance to say their goodbyes over the course of time. Not like I did with my grandma. Of course, he gave them plenty of advance notice, but chances are they were just typical people who didn’t understand his meanings until much later.
Grandma went to be with God pretty soon after she was admitted. Or so I remember. In my memory, it was time. I had let her go, and I didn’t weep like I thought I would have. There was no easy way for the followers of Jesus to let him go. They had to watch him be tried, beaten and torn in two. They watched their beloved hang and bleed, and I can only imagine the sounds of sorrow, anguish and pain from those who loved him as he breathed his last.
They were able to finally say goodbye when he was placed in the tomb. They probably felt defeated, confused and so, so tired. It wears the body down to mourn that hard. I mean, you probably remember the last time you cried so hard your eyes burned. That’s not something you forget – because all your energy is seeped out into tears. I wonder what the memorial service for Jesus was like. Did the soldiers gawk? Did they feel the tiniest bit of pity for the survivors? Did Jesus’ followers try to comfort each other?
The funerals in my family are more like celebrations. We love seeing everyone and catching up. It’s a morbid way for a family reunion, but I am blessed to know that most of my family members know Jesus, and so, it is not a doomed situation. We grieve together, but then we remember. You’ll typically find us laughing and smiling. And I really think that’s how my passed family members would want it.
And then? After the burial? Everyone’s supposed to go “back to normal.”
I seem to remember holding it together pretty well during my grandma’s funeral. But man, those days following were tough. I think it hit me all of a sudden, and then I was expected to reenter into those difficult and challenging adolescent days. People don’t think to check up on those who’ve lost a loved one very well. I think I could have benefited from a caring person who understood that I hadn’t fully finished mourning. I still have days where I think fondly of her, even all these years later. I know she is with Jesus, but I am selfish and wish she could have met my husband and son. These are the days that I pull out her old jewelry, a memento.
What about the followers of Jesus? What could they have been thinking? Did they feel tricked? Did they even think at all? I have to believe that those who continued with their lives “as normal” the day after Jesus’ death had the most faith in the entire world. They must have known it wasn’t the end.
Seriously, Day 2 is more gloomy and horrible than Good Friday to me. I am grateful to know the rest of the story, and you better believe I’ll be celebrating in the morning!
We had our first naked baby accident-on-the-floor tonight. I feel like we’ve reached a major milestone.
Wes escaped a diaper change, as he’s been much more fidgety and unhappy about laying down on the changing pad these days. He used to just lay there, patiently. Not anymore. He grabs hold of anything he can and uses it to turn over the nearly 30 lbs of him and climb to his knees. That little naked behind was so funny that I just let him go with it.
He ran up and down the hallway stark naked for about 5 minutes. Pure glee! Something about no clothes – and especially no diaper – is thrilling for little people. And it makes us adults laugh!
After running from me to Steven and back again, he suddenly stopped, looked confused for a second, and then started peeing. He looked down and quickly back up at us with sheer terror.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
He ran to me, still peeing, slipped and fell. I had to stifle laughter because the poor kid was so scared. This was the first time he has peed without his diaper on and noticed. I hugged his little naked self and told him it was okay, it happens to everyone.
His head nuzzled my neck and it was pretty adorable overall. (Until I had to wrestle getting a diaper and pajamas on him!)
And for the next few minutes, he kept pointing and grabbing at his diaper, like he understood what happened. Hmm, maybe potty training, which is in the waaaay future, won’t be as difficult as I keep imagining question mark?
Photo credit goes to my gal Nikki who caught this amazing moment a few weeks ago at a friends’ house.
I haven’t written much about our dogs, Jake and Lucy, lately. We’re not the type of people who toss the dogs to the side post-baby, but I rather like to think of them as additional toddlers in the house. Okay, so, they don’t take up all our time anymore, we don’t go on as many walks and they spend more time alone than before Wes was born. However, they still hog our bed at night, cuddle on the couch and enjoy lots of snuggles.
Since the dogs aren’t first priority anymore, I’ve noticed some things.
1) The back yard is full of poop. Gross. I spent 45 minutes filling a trash bag full of old dog doo so that I don’t have to watch every step that Wes takes this spring. We haven’t ever really worried about this because we rarely had people stomping around in our yard, and frankly, the lawn mower pretty much took care of our needs… Double gross. But I’m now actually really excited to spend more time outside, running, chasing and kicking balls around.
2) Our house reeks of dog. I used to be much better at keeping up with the dog smell around here. Now I feel like it’s gotten waaaay out of hand. I also used to blame the smell on my super pregnant nose, but I don’t even have that excuse anymore. If I complain about the stink, I can only imagine what people think when they visit. Just cleaning the couches and rug doesn’t cut it.
I think I’ve pinpointed the problem – Jake’s mouth. Seriously. His breed (Italian Greyhound) has frequent dental issues from their lack of panting. His breath has been pretty foul lately, and I think it’s past time to get these rotten teeth extracted. He’s going to be one of those old, toothless dogs – we’ve already pulled several over the years.
To make this post even more gross, here’s why I think our house – mainly our living room – smells so bad. Jake grooms frequently; pretty much any time he gets comfortable, he finds the need to lick everything. And occasionally he misses and ends up soaking whatever he’s laying on as well. Enter stinky couch!
Of course, we’ll have a whole ‘nother smell issue once it’s warm out and the dogs “sweat.” Ick.
But now that I’ve totally convinced some of you to never invite a dog into your family, here’s the absolutely wonderful things about our furry kids.
They love Wes. I mean, truly love him. They follow him around the whole house. From Day 1, they were smitten.
Through Jake and Lucy, Wes learned how to love pretty quickly. Parental love and dog love are two completely different things.
They are guardians. Sure, they’re not very frightening, but they try to sound so to all those who pass by our big picture window. It’s kinda endearing to know that they want to protect this “pack.”
Once they get over your presence in the driveway, and we greet you at the door, they will love you to pieces. And lick your ears. Everyone kind to us is welcome in their domain, haha. In fact, they may sit in your lap. At the same time.
They make Wes laugh. Hearing his laugh makes me laugh and life is grand.
They let Wes poke, prod and pull. Well, Lucy does. Jake doesn’t like to be disturbed when he is napping, but who does?
They provide wonderful company when Steven is out of town and when Wes is asleep. I’m never alone.
So I guess the dog smells, once addressed, can be tolerated for the sake of everything above. And even cleaning up dog poop is pretty manageable.
My heart is not proud; my eyes are not haughty. I don’t concern myself with matters too great or too awesome for me to grasp. Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself.
Psalm 131:1-2a NLT
Antique White or Ivory Lace? Do you realize how many various shades of white paint you can choose from? I brought home at least 15 different swatches to find the perfect shade for our living room. This will be the third color the walls have seen since we moved in six years ago. You know what’s funny? The walls were white – or Bone Satin – when we bought the place. I can’t seem to find the right “aura” for this particular room. Yellow was short lived, and the current brown is just so dark. I need light, airy space in there…I think.
I’m not going to pretend that I follow the ancient psalm above. My resolutions for 2013 weren’t publicly announced, though I did tell myself that I would practice being content with my life. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I remember, and trusting the Lord has always been a difficult task. So when I poorly jerryrigged a new rod and set of curtains above our big living room window today, I nearly broke down with shame when Steven came home to find my disastrous attempt. He was able to pull them directly off the wall, and they clattered to the floor. I was so ready for a new look that I didn’t care to make sure it was safe.
Here’s the thing. I like our house, but it’s certainly not my dream house. It’s been a wonderful place for us as a newly married couple with furry friends. Sometimes a tiny kitchen is cozy and quaint, and original hardwoods, glass tile and Formica are sought-after in certain markets. While I love the features of our home, I’ve struggled over the years with being happy about its layout. Entertaining people in a small house can be a challenge, and add a toddler to the mix… you get the idea. So small updates, like my curtain and paint idea, have been my go-to remedy for rekindling that first house love.
Sure, you can tell me that it’s all good, I was just excited about decorating, right? Right. I am. And don’t get me wrong, we will install them (properly) soon enough, and we probably will get a wall color picked out eventually. But the point is this: my focus isn’t aligned. I’m not practicing contentedness.
I could easily put the blame to Pinterest or other social media. Everyone posts happy news because they want to celebrate with others, and why not? I do it, too. “Yay! I just saved $173849128374 on my grocery bill!” or “Hooray! Look at these before and after photos of my closet organization!” Some friends have good baby news, some are building a new house, some are going on vacation or bought a new car. While I am happy and rejoice along with them, I know that I’ve taken it to heart in a negative way. I’ve been downright jealous.
Surrounded by family and friends, a wonderful job, a sturdy roof over my head and reliable car to drive, I still long for more. Once the curtains are hung in a newly painted living room, the sting will likely lessen for a while. Then, inevitably, it will creep back. I’ve got to get a handle on this contentedness thing before it consumes. What kind of example will I be for Wes if he sees my unhappiness? Will he think that his love isn’t enough? That things are good for only a little while?
Oh, dear. I guess I’ll start small – like, with the living room. If it doesn’t turn out like a photo on houzz.com, it will be alright. After all, the whole goal for my white wall haven is to provide a feeling of calm and quiet. For Pete’s sake, be still, Leah.
I generally try to keep this blog positive and non-complain-y, but I have to break the rules occasionally. After all, what is the point of journaling (face it, I don’t blog for money or recognition, so therefore this is my public journal) if it doesn’t act as a release of some sort?
It’s been a tough week of Mom Guilt. And you know what else I’ve realized? I really suck at homemaking.
My job doesn’t typically include grant writing, but occasionally I assist here and there, and one of my proposals is due this coming Monday. It’s done and just needs to be printed and copied multiple times, and I am certainly grateful that I started working on it three weeks ago. But sometimes deadlines press so hard on me that I can’t think. I press onward to beat the deadline… like several days before, if I can. If not, I stress out about all the kajillion things that could stand in my way and make me miss the deadline. Ugghhh my brain!
Enter yet another Wes sickness. This time it’s just a low grade fever and runny nose, but I actually got annoyed at my son for being sick. As if he meant to get in the way of my deadline! And then… it hits.
I have it bad. I feel torn between work and home life. What’s the boundary? If I’m not in the office, or heaven forbid, miss the proposal deadline, what will happen? Will I be needed? YES. Of course I will. That’s why I have a job.
If I’m not at home to comfort my feverish child who just wants his mom, what will happen? Will I be needed? YES. Will I be missed? DOUBLE YES.
You know what’s funny? I don’t consider myself stressed out right now. I tell myself I “just have a lot going on,” but when I look at my work load, I realize that I probably am stressing negatively. In fact, I had a near breakdown this evening when I accused myself of dinner failure. You see, during this week of approaching deadline, I found two large bags of potatoes in my pantry. For some crazy reason, I decided they needed to be eaten RIGHT NOW so that I wouldn’t have to throw them away (sprouts were everywhere). The night before I had attempted a new recipe that involved way too many cloves and not enough orange slices and it was pretty much horrible. And then, these potatoes… bah. My attempt two nights in a row was disastrous. WHO can mess up freaking potatoes?! This girl. I’m a hot mess.
And that week-old load of clean laundry that needs to be put away was ignored again today. Somehow denying it my attention serves as punishment. “Nuh uh, you don’t GET to be put away because of that crazy potato incident!” See? It makes sense.
Wes picks up on it. He was cranky today, too. When the sun decided to make a presence, we headed outside and soaked up our Vitamin D and felt tons better. He’s so much like me that way.
Thankfully the proposal is done. I had the day off work today anyway, and it worked in my favor. But I need to remember to reevaluate my priorities. My family comes first and foremost. I need to take a chill pill and relax more. On purpose. Even if I don’t feel stressed out, you know? Be present with myself and my husband and my kid. And heck, I threw out the potatoes anyway.