Thursday, October 30, 2008

Funk on an Upswing

Forgive me if I am about to complain too much.

It could be that Faith didn't go to bed last night until after 1:00 for some mysterious reason. Then James woke up an hour later and when I sleepily felt of his skin I realized he was warm. He was running a fever and didn't feel well, he just wanted to lay on me as I rocked him. I gave him some baby motrin, a bottle, and my chest to lay tiredly on as we watched some middle-of-the-night television. Jeff, who wakes up at 4:00 every morning, found us on the couch and encouraged me to go back to bed. I couldn't fall asleep for another hour after that, though I was exhausted.

Or maybe I'm not in that great of a mood because after turning around my eating habits I've completely fallen off of the wagon. As my friend Mandie would say, I've fallen off the wagon and it has run over me. With Jamie's birthday and then Faith's less than two weeks later and then my own following hers less than two weeks again I sort of gave up on the idea that I could do autumn healthily so I've stopped trying and now I feel my pants fitting tighter, but you know what? Maybe I should lay off the popcorn at 9:30 at night. I know better. I KNOW BETTER. That's what bugs me the most, the backsliding.

It could be the lack of money. It could be that when I do feel inspired to find a job (even though Jeff and I decided that I should wait until after the first of the year) there is nothing, I mean NOTHING, around here. It could be that going away for the weekend without the kids was so enjoyable that now that I'm back to the whining and diapers and constant meal making and nap times that don't seem to happen that I'm disappointed. It could be that I'm disappointed for being disappointed, because that makes me a crappy mother. It could be that I didn't wash my face or brush my hair until after noon today, instead I just crept around here in my over sized sweater clutching a coffee mug, even though I will freely admit that I had the time, I just chose to not do it.

Blah. I am depressing myself.

Whenever I have days like this, a little funk that comes and goes, I always try to cover it up. I don't want Jeff to know because my bad moods drag him quickly down and then it becomes a Big Thing. I'm afraid he'll think it's something more than it is, so I try to fake happiness then I become resentful and boohoo, I just want to lay face down on the bed and tune the world out. Instead I held Faith close for awhile while James fake-cried to get to us and Faith, in some strange perceptive way, turned to look at me as if it were the first time she had really seen me all day and reached out and patted me, then turned away. And then it was as if a switch had been flipped. I splashed water on my face, combed my hair, and did laundry, washed dishes, made lists, held kids, and just started moving and feeling alive and normal again.

So maybe I am a crappy mother, but I have wonderful kids and they balance out everything.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Back Again and In Denial

Yesterday Jeff and I returned from a long weekend camping trip that was taken without the children. It was romantic, it was indulgent (as much as sitting in the woods for three days can be indulgent), and being without responsibility was almost intoxicating, making us giddy for no reason at all. We ate when we wanted to, took walks when we wanted, I read actual chapters on end with no interruptions and I even took a long fantasized about nap. When I wasn't stuffing my face or absorbed in a book, I stared at the campfire, one of my very favorite things to do in the world. I love to pull up a camp chair and settle down and just stare at the flames and let all thoughts speed out of my head, or maybe swirl around in a nonsensical way that is peaceful and soothing.

We took walks through the woods and along trails, the views where we camped were spectacular. The ground was covered in shades of bronze, gold, and burnt orange with the odd light green mixed in. We crunched through dry areas and I slid through the wet ones, glad that the path was so narrow that Jeff couldn't see my face at my near falls. We briefly entertained the idea of coming back out at night with a flashlight but decided that the chance of running into a spider-snake (the combination of each of our biggest fears) was just too horrifying to bear.

As much as we enjoyed ourselves, there was still that nagging, small voice in me that wanted to call and check on the kids constantly. “No one can take care of them like I can,” I reminded myself too often. Or I would bring up cute things they've done lately, things I'm sure I've already told Jeff about dozens of times, but he would still smile or laugh and then we would be quiet for a few minutes missing our babies like crazy.

Of course, they were fine. Jeff's sister did crafts with them (I felt like a failure when I saw that it IS possible to do crafts with toddlers, but now I've got flare for my fridge) and they ate well, slept well, behaved well, no accidents, no new bruises. It was a success. A success I'm sure my whole in-law family is glad is over.

Now this week has already started and Halloween is this week (I have no costume for James), Faith's birthday is Sunday (I'm still in sugar shock from Jamie's cake and have no presents, NOTHING), and Jeff has got days and days of work ahead of him. So I'm going to go to bed now, and pretend I'm still in la-la land of no responsibility and go read until I fall asleep and the book hits me in the face.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Un-parties and The Plots Against Me

There are many reasons that living out in the middle of nowhere can be amazing. For instance, this past weekend Jeff and I left the kids with their grandma while we went riding around in tiny neighboring towns and as we drove through a little farming valley I was struck by how absolutely beautiful everything was. It was like a scene from a movie or a postcard. It was sunk down in a valley, with tree-filled mountains rising on each side, the leaves had begun to turn, the rail fencing lined peaceful rolling pastures that housed old red barns, the road curved lazily as giant oaks leaned over the street, sigh, it was so soothing to see and this is everywhere up here, a picturesque scene in our backyard.

However, I couldn't find any place in a twenty mile radius that sold party hats.


Jamie's party was last night, held too late, with too few people and the only ones actually there during the whole lit candle singing part didn't actually SING, except for Jeff and I. Which was . . . awkward to say the least. It made me wish we had just stayed home, but oh well it was only next door and I would have felt slightly anti-social to have stayed home. Someday I will just accept the fact that I kind of AM anti-social.

I made a cake. It wasn't store-bought-pretty or anything, but it was really good and I just ate some and oh look at that, it's 11:45 at night.

So tempting.

James was good last night, waiting patiently until we finally let him dig into the cake and then he thoughtfully perused the toys that Faith viciously unwrapped for him. He got some firetruck thing that plays a little song that has already embedded itself into my memory and I keep hearing the sing-song tune and of course that's his favorite toy NOT the old-fashioned wooden ones that I tracked down and bought him. Those are already pushed to the side, positioned perhaps deliberately so that I will keep stepping on them and momentarily wishing that I still cursed the way I used to.

THEN today James climbed up on top of a counter, like Spider-Baby, and gleefully threw down my glass pumpkin which shattered into millions of shards on the kitchen floor. I yelled for Faith NOT to come in there (which, so stupid, I should have known that if I hadn't of said anything then she would have stayed happily in her room) so immediately she runs in asking “Why Mommy? What did James do? Why I can't be in here? Why? Why?” and I tried to keep them away as I swept up the tiny pieces and got three splinters of glass in the bottom of my foot. All the while, still not cursing. I deserve some sort of medal.

However, he's really cute. So, that counts for something.

Monday, October 20, 2008

James Stone - One Year

Continuing on this theme . . .

One year ago today I woke up with contractions, finally. Waiting around to go into full labor, and never doing so, Jeff and eventually went and got sandwiches. The man taking our order asked me when I was due and I still smile at the look on his face when I replied “Three days ago”. Then went back to my mother's house and we both took a nap for a couple hours.

We woke up that evening and the contractions were back but no one was taking it seriously anymore. My sister's ex had her kids for the night and she was planning on going out but had stopped by for awhile. My dad wanted me to show her some video of a high school football player on my laptop and while we were watching the contractions suddenly became more intense. I stayed silent with my dad on one side of me and my sister on the other side and when my sister cracked some comment about how I was going to be pregnant forever I told her no, I didn't think it would be long at all and told my mother to go ahead and curl her hair (my mother's hair has to be curled for every occasion).

I tried writing the times down, but my labor was following no sort of pattern whatsoever. I went into the back room to start getting things together for the hospital and it was getting late, almost time for Faith to go to bed so Jeff took her to go lay down and I was dimly aware that this was the last time I would see her as my only child and I knew that I should make this moment more special somehow, but my body was starting freak me out a little bit. Contractions came sporadically – two minutes then five then back to back, all the while becoming more intense. Jeff came back a little while later and watched as I doubled over holding onto the edge of the couch. When I straightened back up the look in his eyes held everything, concern and alarm and a question. “Yes,” I told him, “I'm calling the midwife now”.

I went into the hospital a few minutes later and was in extreme pain by this time. I remembered how contractions worked, coming in waves, peaking, and then easing back out. For some reason, however, mine stayed peaked for too long, I didn't recognize this intensity and it scared me. I didn't know how long I had, if I would be able to get my epidural in time, wishing they could just hurry me past triage because I was obviously in labor.

They moved me to a room at last and hooked me up to an IV. At that point everything seemed to move quickly, nurses coming in and out, my midwife trying to encourage me through contractions while promising me pain relief soon. I started to feel frantic when the contractions began but seemed to never end. I told Jeff to not let any of my family in while I was in pain like this. They came to insert the needle for the epidural and I tried not to move through contractions and waited for relief that seemed to never fully come. The IV felt like it was filling my body with ice water and I alternated between having contractions and shaking uncontrollably in between. Then, suddenly, they told me it was time to push. Jeff ran to get his mother, my mother, and my sister, the baby watching crew. The hospital room was not designed for many people and instead of them being able to stand back and not have to witness explicit delivery action, they had to stand near the foot of the bed. I remember wishing that they could stand somewhere else, but I really no longer cared at that point. I feebly asked the nurse if I could push the button for more epidural and she told me it would do me no good at that point, so I just tried to remain stoic.

The midwife told Jeff to stand beside me and I hoped he wouldn't pass out. He stayed way behind my head when Faith was born and I didn't think he could handle it. Actually, when James made his appearance the midwife took her attention off of the most pressing matters at hand to ask Jeff if he would be okay since he did a major jump-type of move. She told me to grab my baby so I reached down and pulled him to my belly.

I could sit here for hours staring out the door trying to think of the words to describe that moment and I would never be able to. To hold the child that was on the other side of my belly just moments before, to be able to look at his face, to see that everything was well, no, better than well, just perfect, was beyond amazing. I teared up, continuing to cry (and still shake) after they whisked him off. I kept looking at him and back to Jeff, my sister and mother and I kept saying “Isn't he beautiful? He is really so beautiful!” and they told me yes, he was.

He was actually born after midnight so his birthday isn't really until tomorrow, but that day leading up to his birth is etched upon my memory. Such a strange feeling to not be able to wait until you can see your child, but almost regret the end of a pregnancy, especially when you're not completely sure that you will have another one.

Once he was here though, I was in a constant state of wonder. I had forgotten how tiny babies could be. I had forgotten the non-stop all through the night care that they required. I had forgotten how I could spend hours staring at that brand new little face.

Since the moment I had found out I was pregnant with him everything suddenly became a comparison of the past – my pregnancy with Faith, how I found out, the due date, the birth, how he developed compared to her, their ages when they reached milestones and so forth. After awhile though, he wouldn't let me make the constant comparisons because he proved that he is his own person, he is James, full of a personality that is so HIM, his own way of learning things and his own method of experiencing life.

I have watched him for this past year, going from that tiny newborn to such a little character. He is incredibly loving and affectionate. He climbs everything he can, frightening me everyday with his death defying stunts. He is walking, more like Frankenstein's monster than a child, but he slowly lurches around getting to where he needs to be. He has slept through the night only once in the past year, keeping me hoping for a repeat of the miracle but only to wake me up every night at midnight. He wants to be held, wants to see my face, wants to be near me always. He won't let anyone else take him from me, howls when I walk away. He's chubby, has comical hair, bright blue eyes, soft skin, and gives slobbery kisses. He's my heart and I can't imagine that there was a time before James.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last Year

One year ago . . .

My due date was drawing closer with no sign of impending labor whatsoever. A usually happy pregnant woman, I was nearing that feeling that I could not possibly get any larger. I was walking every day and night, eating spicy foods, doing as many of the infamous labor starters that I could bear.

I was ready to stop being pregnant, but I was also trying to remember every moment of it. Most of all I was ready to meet my son.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lately, In Pictures

I really do have a camera. I just never do the whole camera-to-computer thing. When I finally do I have hundreds of pictures to sort through. I good intentions with this little blog. I thought I would have pictures in every post, that sort of thing. Let's pretend I did that, shall we? And now for catch up.

This is my artist's rendering of our cat, Chick. And then this is her.

Uncanny, no?

The new cat whose name has yet to be set in stone. Right now we rotate between Tiger Lily, Clover, That Calico Cat, That New Cat, or That Little Cat.

The famous "Letter Game" which Faith loves. Any time I get on the computer she starts to beg to play it. James, of course, does not want to be left out. So once I start it I can't stop it, my lap begins to burn from the laptop and I have children surrounding me and it kind of makes me never want to get on the computer.

Taking a walk over to Grandma's, with our giant dog Baxter. For some reason Faith is crawling like a dog. I'm surprised she didn't get accidentally trampled.

And for the finale, the classic reaching-for-the-camera shot. I can't tell you how many of these I have. And yes, my children are color coordinated for church. I can't help it.

I suppose it is time for me to finally put a picture with my blogger account, which is really rather hard. Today I was sorting through recent pictures and realizing I look OLD. With real lines around my eyes. I was tempted to use a more flattering picture from a couple years ago but that sort of feels like cheating.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This Season, Still

The days have gone from a warm, thick heaviness of air to a goose bump-raising chill. The leaves are starting to turn, the wind is whistling through foggy days. On nice days the sky is a crisp and clear blue, the air fresh, the sun still shines. For the past couple of days, however, it is like the setting for a scary mystery movie. It’s been a constant drizzle of rain, the sky never lightens from a deep slate color.

It’s starting to throw me off. Usually the first thing I do every morning is open the windows and doors and let the light in. It’s not doing much lately. I’m starting to feel like a hermit.

Luckily, the kids have hit a patch of awesome lately. Faith’s age combined with a new phase of less tantrums and more understanding is adorable and sort of amazing. She is starting to try to figure things out, why this happens or what to expect from people. She’s smart and clever. She comes out with the most precious things. She says “thank you” and “please”. She gives everyone kisses and hugs when she says goodbye without prompting from us. Right now as I am typing this she is stripping on the front porch while watching a “sick butterfly” (it’s like the scariest moth I’ve ever seen and it’s turning slow circles on the porch floor in a slow death dance), so I’m not sure how that ties into her learning manners and such, but there you go. When James isn’t climbing to the highest point in the house and balancing precariously on a countertop or dresser he’s playing with toy cars and building blocks. He’s starting to entertain himself or let Faith entertain him. They both love the kitten and he’s now saying “kitty” (more like kee-kee) which is his second word (the first is bye-bye). They are consistently happy children and it not only warms my heart but keeps a smile on my face as well.

This year we look forward to taking Faith to pumpkin patches and corn mazes, this year she is already talking about costumes and jack o’ lanterns, how ghosts are NOT real but ARE really scary. This year we’ll also take our children (plural!) out to hikes to warm our bodies on Jeff’s days off, we’ll take pictures of them together smiling and happy. I can actually be in the autumn pictures since I won’t weigh forty tons like last year.

Jeff’s about to be off of work for a week (this schedule is wonky, but I love it when he’s off) and we have so much planned that we will undoubtedly fall short of all we have to do, but I’m looking forward to the next week like a little kid would. I suppose I’m excited because I’m about to see autumn through Faith’s eyes.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


The other day I opened the front door and hollered for Jeff (because I live in the mountains and we holler, we don’t just yell) and Faith told me that he was down in the yard saying “here kitty kitty”.

While I think it is adorable how Faith can give accurate details about what is going on, I was more perplexed as to WHY Jeff was saying here kitty kitty when our cat (Chick the Cat, fat and white) was laying on her side at my feet like the big, lazy thing that she is. I went back inside to tend to whatever I was doing and forgot about it until a few minutes later when Jeff called me outside telling me to look what he had. In his arms was a calico kitten. I immediately switched baby for kitten (I am a sucker for kittens and puppies) and went to the rocker and declared that this kitten was sent to us for a reason. I expected Jeff to roll his eyes and maintain his firm position on his NO MORE BABIES NO MORE ANIMALS rule, but instead he just looked thoughtful for a moment and said that we would need to get her fixed soon.

In turn I just stared at him, my mouth might have been hanging open. Was this . . . my husband? Surely not. Was this a trick? Possible. But why? I was trying to figure this out as Faith squealed and laughed, delighted with this new toy, I mean creature, and I soon got distracted by setting up a makeshift home for it in our garage.

Jeff continued to be very easygoing about the whole cat thing, petting it as he went by or calling it kitty boots, which is his own little name for cats and I continued to be amazed and a little suspicious. Jeff was all for animals once, but more of a dog person and only really excited about getting our great dane as a puppy. The rest of the animals were sort of an act of surrender, his giving in to my endless begging with an air of resignation. We both came to the decision after having kids, however, that we just didn’t have the room, the finances, and the time for extra responsibility for any more animals. But seeing a helpless little kitten melted away all of my icy level-headedness, and I really didn’t expect Jeff to be the same.

When I talked to my mom about it she said something that made me think. “Maybe he realizes that your days are monotonous and he’s letting you have something that makes you happy and takes your mind off of it,” and I was really surprised. That my mother would put that together without me even telling her what’s been going on lately and that I didn’t think of it and that Jeff would do something sweet for the benefit of me.

Even though it means vet bills and another animal to take care of, it’s such a simple pleasure to watch a kitten do that butt-wiggle and pounce thing, all things playful and joyful attack. It reminds me that little bursts of happiness are found in the most ordinary places.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Time Away

I will be the first to admit that I’ve really got it made. I get to stay at home every day, I don’t have to wake up in a rush every morning and fight traffic just to go and spend my whole day at work. I can do what I want whenever I want and I pretty much love this.

However, two kids may not always want to do what I want, like when what I want is to go to Target and wander the aisles aimlessly for a couple of hours in silence. The children probably clap their little chubby hands with glee at the thought of making a shopping trip turn into their opportunity to shriek and scream and reach for breakable objects and pull hair and push each other and so the mere thought of doing something like that becomes a big, neon, flashing NO sign in my brain. So I don’t go out too often is what I’m saying.

Then I began to fantasize about small things. Reading a book in peace, or going out for a warm pumpkin spiced coffee and sitting at a table staring off into space, or sitting in a bookstore for an hour browsing novels and getting inspired. To take a walk, or go to a random store, or anywhere for that matter all alone. Let me say that again. ALL ALONE.

The story is always the same, though. Jeff works long hours and is exhausted when he gets home. We live out in the middle of nowhere so even if I wanted to escape for an hour, it would be another two hours to get somewhere and back. We don’t have the money to drop on expensive coffee or shopping. We don’t have the money for gas even. So my fantasies often stayed that way and never became reality and one day would end and another would begin and slowly I began to go a little bit crazy and maybe get a little depressed.

I mentioned it to Jeff awhile ago and instead of him saying something like “you know what honey, you always stay here with the kids and never go out and do something you would like to do so go ahead and enjoy yourself and I’ll stay with the kids” he said something like this “that’s not going to happen” and then I fumed and it turned into a stupid argument (because I don’t know how serious he was in the first place and I was in a bad mood already) and then it grew and I did the idiotic martyr move of “well fine I’ll just stay at home every day and never leave the house”. Well that sure showed HIM! I’ll just stay at home every day and never get time to myself! Oh. Wait.

Last week my husband said the words I needed so badly to hear. “You go ahead and take the car and spend the day doing what you want and I’ll stay here with the kids. Have fun,” and I grabbed the keys and sprinted towards the car and listened to my music and drove a little crazier than usual and suddenly I felt a million times better.

Once upon a time, before I became a wife and a mother, I was just Jenny. I had my own hobbies and interests. I liked to have time alone even before I was married. I liked my privacy and the occasional solitude. Now if anyone were to ask me to tell them about myself I would first say that I am a wife and mother, and truthfully those are the things that I am most proud to be. Once in a while though, it’s nice to be just Jenny again. A day alone here and there to just be me, and not everything else, is a salve to wounds that I don’t often realize that I have, and an opportunity to feel refreshed and relaxed. A chance to just BE without having to always DO. It’s also a chance to drive eagerly home to see the faces of the people I love most who are happy to see me return.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Quick Thinking - FAIL

“Ew, James! I smell the stank!” I announce. (I often announce things, like dirty diapers, or how I am now going to do a load of laundry when the children are the only other people in the house. I don’t know why I declare things like this out of nowhere. I can’t help it. I often break into song for no reason at all. It can be very loud to live with me.)

(People wouldn’t know this unless they are Jeff. I am really shy around everyone else.)

“I wanna see! I wanna see!” Faith screams as she runs into the room. (Faith has an odd obsession for wanting to be present during dirty diaper changes. It’s really rather disturbing.)

“You don’t want to see this,” I say. (I tell her this every time.)

“I gonna watch you, Mommy, okay?” (She says this as if she is explaining something to a very young child.)

“If you have to,” I tell her absently as I’m already starting the disgusting job of wiping slimy foul matter off of Jamie’s tiny rear.

“Mommy. What’s THAT?” (She is pointing to Jamie’s special parts.)

“His poopoo?” I say to buy some time as I hurry up the process.

“No, Mommy! THAT right there!”

“Oh you mean his pee pee?” (Yeah, pee pee. Code for the real word. I’ve heard other parents use that. Sure. Okay. This will work.)

“No, that’s not pee pee,” she sounds exasperated at my stupidity. (Of course! Because everyone knows that pee pee is urine, NOT a body part.)

“Damn.” I don’t say this out loud. Instead I say, “uhhh,” like the intelligent and quick thinking person I am.

“Uhhh,” I continue. (Do I give her the true technical term? I suddenly have a vision of her announcing what the names of Jamie’s parts are in church. No. I can’t tell her the true name. Must come up with toddler slang.)

“Umm,” I stall. (I don’t want to confuse the child. I imagine her saying that’s not a ball or that’s not a nut. Why can’t I think? I am the parent, why am I suddenly stumped by something so stupid? What the hell am I going to say when she asks where babies come from?)

“Mommy look! Clifford the dog is on!” she exclaims happily as she runs off.

I breathe a sigh of relief and look down at James who has been staring confusedly at me this whole time. “Ummm!” he suddenly says.

Great. Glad I’ve taught you something wise, son.