Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nathanael's Birthday

Yesterday was Nathanael's ninth birthday. Ninth! Look at him!!! He has changed so much!!! I mean, I know it's supposed to happen but.... Yesterday I found myself staring at him a lot. He is really maturing. In his actions, the way he talks, the way he looks. It is thrilling to watch. But, at the same time, it kinda makes my brain hurt. Not that long ago, he looked like this...
This is one of my absolute, favorite pictures of Nathanael. From the top of his fuzzy head, to those well-rounded shoulders. Even that smear of carrots, like he was trying to put on lipstick during an earthquake. It never fails to make me smile (the kind of smile that ends with me in tears- oh, motherhood!).
And now he looks like this. So grown up! No food on his sweet, freckled face! My heart swells!

So, Happy Birthday to my sweet boy! I've truly enjoyed every day, from the moment I knew I was pregnant, to right now. I find it hard to believe it's been nine years. Until I do a little comparison...


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

On Being A New Mom...Again Part 1

As time passed, it became obvious that we were not going to have anymore children. That made me a little sad because, even though Nathanael has two older half-brothers, they are so much older than him that he still seemed like an only child. I always thought it would be nice for him to have a brother or sister to go through life with. But, as time passed and he got older, and we got older, we all moved on. We got rid of the baby clothes and gave away the bouncy seat and high chair. Dave and I even went on a diet. We were looking good and feeling good and promptly got pregnant. I don't think either of us have ever been so shocked about anything. Ever. But, God knew we needed a red head in our lives. Doesn't everyone?

And now there were two. No big deal, right? Dave was up to four after all, I only had two.


First of all, five years had passed since I last had a baby. It's unbelievable how much changes in only five years! Because we had gotten rid of everything, it was like we were first time parents again. That was hard to get over. It was so frustrating knowing that two years before, we had all we needed. Oh, well! Get thee to Target!

Next, we had this five year old who kinda knew what was going on, but not really. Nathanael expected his new brother to be born at the age of five years old. I think he would have accepted a four year old but this brand new blob was not what he had in mind. I don't think Nathanael has ever gotten over this age difference issue. I base my opinion on the fact that he still asks why he and Asher couldn't have been twins. (When I was little, I was expecting a baby chick or a baby sister. I got a baby brother. I understand.)

We had some adjustments to make with this new baby but other than that, I really liked being a new mom. For the second time. That's the key. Second time.

The labor and delivery thing was, dare I say, fabulous! I recall saying to Dave, as I held my new baby in my arms, "If this is what it's like to have a baby, I could do this again!" I think the only reason Dave didn't slap me was because I was holding our new baby.

Asher took to breastfeeding like a pro! I was like a pro! We could have gone on tour! That's how great it was.

I was still tired and hormonally all over the place but it was what I expected. I was prepared and knew that it would pass. Those first few weeks were really quite nice. I took it easy and let Asher lead the way. It was certainly freeing knowing that I didn't have to prepare myself and baby to go back to work. But what helped me the most was being able to draw on my own, personal past experiences. I knew those first six weeks were meant to be a time of recovery, adjustment and acquaintance. I enjoyed every minute!

Easter 2008


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Being A Stay-At-Home Mom

When I found out I was pregnant with Asher, the store that I was managing was in the process of closing down. My due date coincided with when the store would be closed so I new I would be a stay-at-home mom with my second baby. Won't that be wonderful, I thought. After all, Nathanael was a breeze to raise!

Oh, naive woman! I had conveniently forgotten that another woman had been aiding me in raising Nathanael thirty two hours a week. My goodness, days would go by when I wouldn't even have to change a poopy diaper! And, Nathanael was only one boy! Do you know how much difference there is between one boy and two boys? A LOT!!!

Staying home, mothering live and in person, 24/7. Oy! I still don't always get to go to the bathroom by myself. My "meals" are hit and miss. And, conversation? During the day, it's pretty surreal and rarely makes sense. (Just now, Asher started singing, "We're going to build a dam, dam, dam. We're building a dam! Dam, dam, dam, dam..." My ears are still ring from all of the sort-of profanity!) Being a stay-at-home mom is a bit like being in an absurdist's play. It doesn't make much sense, there's no way out,  and your brain hurts.

BUT...It has truly been an incredible experience. I am grateful that I get to do this. My husband is working a lot so that I can stay home with our children and raise them, full-time. I get to experience every first of Asher's. We are very close and we will hopefully remain that way. I enjoy taking care of our home and my family. Hopefully they all feel like it's a good thing, too.

There are lots of positives to this staying home thing but it is very different. I don't have anytime for anything anymore. When I worked full-time and had a baby, I had time to do... stuff. Now that I am home and have added one more boy...where did the time go? Seriously, I felt like I was making it through each day by the skin of my teeth. I still don't quite understand how it works out like that. More time = less time? It probably involves math. I don't do math.

I also felt guiltier. Go figure! I felt bad about letting someone else raise the first baby and I felt bad about staying home to raise the second baby. I felt bad for my husband who works so hard. I felt bad for Nathanael who had to be with a babysitter. I felt bad for other mothers who worked. I felt bad. Anybody else feel that way?

A couple of years ago, I got over it! I figured things out. Like, for one thing, my husband works hard at taking care of us and I work hard at taking care of him in return. Nathanael had a wonderful babysitter whom he adored and missed a great deal when he had to leave her. And, on top of all of that, I work really hard here! I have no excuses now for letting the dusting go by the wayside. My work day begins a about 6:30 and ends at, well, it doesn't end, does it. I'm "on-call" when I'm not actually "on".

It goes back to choices, again. I made this choice to stay home with Asher. Now I'm making it work! There are lots of sacrifices I've had to make. My social life is almost non-existent. However, I no longer feel bad about leaving my kids with a babysitter once in a blue moon. My free time is pretty short, too, but I've learned how to make the most of it. I also keep my eye on the prize. I know the kind of men I'd like my boys to become. I know that my time, now, is important in helping Nathanael and Asher become great men, husbands and fathers. The example I set as mother, wife and woman will help determine who they will choose to marry, someday.

Someday. For now, I am making the most of this time I have with my boys. It goes by quickly and I'll never have an experience like this again.


Monday, February 6, 2012

On Being A Working Mom

So, six weeks passed by. The first three weeks were long and blurry. The second three weeks went by too quickly and were filled with quite a bit of growth on the part of both mommy and baby. Now, back to work!

I remember taking my little Nathanael to the woman who would be spending thirty two hours a week with him. I remember being okay with it, at first. I took him to her house, informed her of the little things she needed to know and turned to leave. That's when I felt my face crumble. I held in the tears until I got to my car but I do remember having to rush away from the door. How was I going to make it through the long, eight hour day without crying myself into a state of dehydration?

You may be surprised to know that that was the last of the tears. The thing about going back to work after six weeks is that you're pretty busy. You have work to catch up on and oodles of socializing to do. You have to tell your stories to each new person who comes along and they will, in turn, feel required to share their stories with you. There was so much going on, I didn't have time to get maudlin.

And, as much as I missed my little baby, with whom I had recently formed a pretty strong bond, it was nice being on my own. I got to go to the bathroom, by myself! And, all of the other people around me who had to go to the bathroom, went on their own without me having to clean up after them. I got to eat ALL of my lunch. From start to finish, too. I got talk to other human beings that also knew how to talk. I got to have complete, uninterrupted thoughts! Bliss!

But better than all of that, at 5:30, I got to pick up my little boy who was so happy to see me. I don't think anyone had ever been that happy to lay eyes on me before. My heart soared!

How did I make it work? Well, there is certainly something to be send for not knowing any different. It is also about how you set your priorities. I didn't like being away from Nathanael so much but that was the way it was. So, when I wasn't working, I was with Nathanael. When he was real little, we'd come home, eat dinner and I'd hold him and play with him and rock him to sleep in my arms. On my days off, while he was awake, we were together: playing, cleaning, shopping. When he slept, I did whatever I needed to do to stay sane. I wouldn't say that I felt guilty about not being with Nathanael more. But I did feel that I did not need to spend MORE time away from him. My husband and I almost never went out without Nathanael. He was our constant plus-one. That was our choice and we made it work.

That's the secret. It's your choice. Make it work. When you become a parent your life/lives change. Forever altered, folks. You gotta get over it pretty quick or you will be very unhappy. I'm not saying you have to make your entire world revolve around baby. I don't think that's healthy for a variety of reasons. But, you do have to accept the fact that things are different. And, that they will be different forever!

My advice for you working moms who are trying to figure out how to do it all? Quit while you're ahead! You can't do it all. And, that's okay. You do what is important. Do your job well then come home and enjoy being a mom. Make sure you figure out your priorities. What is important for your family. For me, things like eating and clean clothes were necessary, but baking fresh bread and dusting? A dusty living room never hurt anybody, right?

Nathanael and I were (are) very close, regardless of the amount of time we spent together. And, his babysitter was a truly wonderful woman. We were very blessed in that regard. I am now a stay-at-home mom and am able to see how the other half lives. I do find myself wishing I could have experienced raising Nathanael full-time. I also realize that we would have probably had a different relationship. Plus, I'm not going to waste my time feeling bad about something I can't change. I don't have that kind of time, now that I'm a stay-at-home mom!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

What's on my work table?

A lot of red, that's what.

Red as in Red Riding Hood. Looks like that nasty wolf has been here, too.


Friday, February 3, 2012

Baking Day

I have decided to make Thursday my baking day. Each week, I'll make up a list of baking needs; bread, cookies, muffins, whatever. Then, I'll spend each Thursday baking. I find that, with something like baking, if I'm going to go to the bother of heating up the oven and tearing up the kitchen, I may as well go all out. So far, so good!

Wanna see what I made yesterday?

These are Chocolate Chip Clouds from Skinnytaste. They were super easy to make and are DELICIOUS! Seriously, make them. NOW! They are basically meringues filled with chocolate chips. YUMMY!

These are Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins, also from Skinnytaste. I made these last week and they were a big hit so I made them again. Make sure you either use whole wheat pastry flour or half wheat, half white flour. I also used about two cups of blueberries. Again, DELICIOUS!

Finally, I made chocolate muffins using a cake mix, one cup of pumpkin and one cup of water. Yummy and easy and crazy moist!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

On Being a New Mom, Part 2

*All of what I am writing about is based on my experiences. Take or leave anything you see below. It is all merely my opinion and a smattering of insight gained nine years later.

So, now that you feel like your old self, it's time to be a mom to this wee little baby. Right?

I really wish you could have your first child second. Once you get through being a new mom for the first time, combined with all of that great hindsight, you realize it wasn't as hard as you thought it would be.

Like breastfeeding. In my mom's day, when she had me, it wasn't done. In my day, it is done. So, I had this baby knowing that I would be breastfeeding him. Well, it wasn't happening. I don't know why. But I started to feel really bad about it, like something was wrong with me. At four weeks, I filled a bottle with formula and fed it to my baby. And we lived happily ever after.

I felt guilty about it, at first, like I needed to hide the bottle from the breastfeeding police. I got over pretty quick with the aid of some good, old-fashioned, deductive reasoning. I was going back to work when he was six weeks old. Because I couldn't even pump, I knew he'd be getting bottles for most of his feedings once I was back at work. Also, the poor baby was hungry! That's when I really felt bad. Because I was worried that there might possibly be a person who thought I failed as a mother because my baby was on formula, I neglected my baby's real needs. He slept better, he grew like crazy, I slept better. A good time was had by all.

Then there is the whole "where-should-the-baby-sleep" issue. Educational toys vs., well, toys. Organic vs. homemade vs. store bought baby food. Let them cry themselves to sleep vs. rocking them to sleep in your arms. Etc. Etc.

My advice? Do what you think is right. If it doesn't seem to work for baby, try something else. This is not rocket science. That little baby may be small, but he is also pretty strong and resilient. He is at your mercy, mom, so do what you think is right and he'll, usually, think it's right, too.

Also, remember that any habit or routine you start can be stopped. But you have to be willing to do the work involved in changing a routine or habit. What I mean is, if you like rocking your baby to sleep every night, go for it. Just know that someday, your little peanut is going to weigh fifty pounds and rocking him to sleep will cause your arm to fall asleep. You are going to have to help your child change their routine. But, don't be discouraged. It can be done. And, when you look back on that time when you had to wrestle your fifty pound peanut into their bed every night, you'll see that it actually only took two nights.

And, find some other moms to talk to. We may sugar-coat the whole miracle of child birth thing, but once we have that baby, we're ready to talk! You'll find that there are plenty of other mothers out there that are experiencing some of the things that you are experiencing. You are not alone!


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