Thursday, December 31, 2009

My prayer for 2010.

2009. Eh. So many good things happened this year, so why do I feel like "good riddance?" I don't know. This was a hard year in alot of ways, most of which I've kept from this blog. Pay cuts for both me and TH. Furloughs. Ever-growing demyelination lesions on someone's MRIs. Parents in the hospital, other family members going through painful divorces and illness. Finding out we closed on our house three days (THREE DAYS!!) too early to qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. That one crappy week at the end of my maternity leave when we had $3.49 in the checking account yet somehow managed to stay in the black until the next payday. Losing our last grandparent right before Christmas.

Of course it wasn't all bad. I mean, we did have this:

J turns 3.
Quote: "I'm a big boy now!"

And this:

TH finally finishes his M. Ed.

Quote: "Look at me, all educated and stuff!"

And of course, this little guy:

Jr. is born 9.29.09.

Quote: "My hair looks like shag carpet!"

Like alot of people, though, we kind of lost some optimism this year. TH and I find ourselves on many nights laying in bed worrying about the future. Will we still have good jobs next year? TH works for the government, and I'm in a profession that requires people to spend money on their dogs and cats when they might not be able to feed their children. Will our house ever regain its value? (Unlikely anytime soon). If, God forbid, we lose our health insurance, could we afford the medication one of us needs? (Probably not, we're talking meds that cost in the four figures for a month's supply without prescription coverage. Chew on that for awhile.) So much uncertainty, a feeling that we've had a few times before but never this intense.

So instead of resolutions, I have a prayer, my hopes for 2010. Not that I don't want to lose those last 10 pounds of baby weight, but I've got other things on my mind this year...

My Prayer for 2010

Heavenly Father,

Please watch over and hold our little family in the coming year.

Give us the foresight and willpower to save our money when we would have more fun spending it.

Grant us the grace and wisdom to appreciate our jobs and paychecks, rather than griping and moaning about petty office "hardships" while we drive past people on the unemployment line.

Encourage us to be peaceful about changes that may be out of our control, and to remember that there is a Plan for us, even if we can't always see what it is.

Remind us to wake up each morning with a fresh perspective and faith that each day is a new day with new opportunities.

Remove hate and anger and jealousy from our hearts, as we don't know what hardships and trials motivate others to behave the way they do.

Give us patience to parent our children lovingly, even when we have a really hard time doing it. Help us cherish these sleepless nights with our baby and remember that they are only this small once.

Give us the strength to deal with our illnesses and infirmities while retaining an open and optimistic spirit. We know that every challenge is given to us for a reason.

Remind us every day that our marriage is a sacred covenant that should be nurtured despite the exhaustion and chaos of our daily life.

We don't know what lies on the road ahead. But we do have faith.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Well, we know the Hot Wheels company won't go out of business this year.

Christmas Morning 2009

Christmas is over, and here I am back at work trying to recuperate from the utter exhaustion of a fantastic but really tiring day. Everyone is finally feeling better, so at least the kids have been getting some sleep - including Jr. who has taken to his new sleep routine pretty well and has been consistently blessing us with only 2 feedings a night for the last few days. It's funny how once you have kids you get used to lack of sleep, before I would have cringed at the phrase "2 feedings a night," and now when I hear that I think, "Eh, that's pretty good!" But I digress.

Christmas with kids is so much more fun than Christmas with two grownups. TH and I didn't even get each other gifts this year because we're being oh so practical, saving up for a kitchen makeover next year. This is the first year that J seemed to have some inkling as to what was going down on Christmas Eve, but he's still young enough that he was completely SHOCKED when he came downstairs and saw all the presents (and I quote: "Why are all these toys down here??"). He really was a good boy this year, especially becoming a big brother, so Santa was very generous. And the cars and trucks obsession continues for another year, with Hot Wheels being the word of the day. Everything was Hot Wheels - new Hot Wheels cars (he now has well over 100 little cars that have made their way into every fricking nook and cranny of our house), Hot Wheels playsets, and for the first time, the fabled Hot Wheels Racetrack. Which, by the way, took OVER AN HOUR for a certain husband of mine to put together because he kept playing with it. Tonka trucks were also a big hit, as well as an extremely (EXTREMELY) boring DVD about construction sites, fire trucks, and planes that J has wanted to watch non-stop since he opened it.

He has no clue what's going on. Look at the bags under his eyes.

So many Hot Wheels, so little time.

The other favorite toy is an airport playset that TH was sure J wouldn't like, but I knew from watching him play over the past couple of months that he would love it. I think 3 is the age of imagination. When J plays, he's started to make up imaginary situations and add voices, and I'm always amazed at the things he says because they give me a glimpse of his view of the world. When he was playing with his airport set, I heard him pretending to be a flight attendant, telling one of the little people "Excuse me, sir, would you like some pretzels or water? How about some french fries?" and pretending to put the little people through security, telling them they "have to take your shoes off--but don't take your socks off, the floor is dirty!" It was pretty funny.

Look, a cute little baby with a cute little "My First Christmas" outfit! Notice the artful use of the baby to cover up Mommy's double chin situation.

I was just happy to have our little family all together, healthy and happy, on Christmas morning. Christmas this year was overshadowed by sadness, because TH's grandmother passed away suddenly last week so he was out of town until late Christmas Eve at her funeral. She was a wonderful lady with the sweetest personality, and although she lived a long life her passing was still a huge shock to TH. It's so strange to think of our grandparents all being gone now, and our kids will never know them. When people say that J he looks just like TH, what they're really saying is that he looks just like TH's dad because that's who TH looks like, and so what they're REALLY saying without knowing it is that he looks just like TH's grandma, because that's who his dad looks like. When we look at J and Jr., she's there, in their faces, along with all of the other grandparents that were gone long before Jr. was even a thought in our minds. So Friday was kind of bittersweet for us, watching our little kids have fun in the innocence of Christmas, but with the family's loss reminding us how quickly it all goes by...

At the end of the day, tired, happy, and piled up on Mommy.

After multiple attempts at a self portrait, this is the best I got.

Full view of the new outfit from Granny.

Visiting friends on Christmas: it's enough to wear a baby out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Yep, we're parents.

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. A blur of coughing, sneezing, congestion, vomiting...cold and flu season this year has pretty much kicked our whole family's butt. It started right before Thanksgiving--A MONTH AGO--and is still ongoing, although everyone seems a little bit better this week. It's been one of those long, drawn-out illnesses that started with TH, spread like wildfire to me and J, seemed to skip Jr., subsided for about a day, then sprang up again with me and finally Jr. last week. There's nothing as pitiful as a baby crying so hard his face is red but you can't hear it because his voice is so hoarse. And the coughing. The coughing! Weeks of coughing in the middle of the night, that annoying kind of cough where you try to stop. but. you. just. can't. stop. coughing. The coughing led to several horrid sleepless nights, because Jr. was still sleeping in bed with us and every time he would finally fall asleep one of us would start coughing and wake him up, and then he would need to nurse, but couldn't nurse well because he was so congested, so he would start crying and coughing, and on and on.

So one night last week we made the somewhat dumb decision to attempt to transition Jr. into sleeping in his crib, in his room, right in the midst of Cold and Flu Hell Week 2009. Maybe we weren't thinking straight. The first night went alright, I guess, with Jr. waking up about 5-6 times. This being our second rodeo our expectations for these types of nights are much lower, so we pretty much knew that the first night or two we'd be up all night, but we knew that if we kept at it he would get used to it eventually. So the second night, I fully expected to be up several times again but hoped that we would all get at least a little bit more rest. Everything started out well. We managed to bathe both kids and in the process give them both a "steam treatment" for their congestion, get everyone dressed for bed, and get our new bedtime routine (TH handles J, and being the "milk truck" I handle Jr.) finished by 8pm. Jr. was cooperative, settling into his Miracle Blanket without a fight for once and even drifting off to sleep in his crib by himself after a little rocking chair time. J was his usual crazed-right-before-bedtime self but fell asleep almost instantly once his light was out. TH and I crept back to our room and for the first time in 11 weeks watched an episode of Dexter together. Success!

Or not. Around midnight, Jr. was amazingly still asleep but I was startled awake by J, who had silently come into our room and was standing right next to my head in that creepy little kid way where they somehow will you to wake up without making a sound. "I need a new shirt," he said.

"What happened? Did you have an accident in your bed?"

"I threw up on my shirt. And on Pandy." Pandy is his panda bear. Great. Vomit clean-up in the middle of the night. So TH got up and started stripping sheets while I changed J's clothes. Problem solved, everyone went back to bed (after a little mini-tantrum about not being able to take vomity Pandy back to bed with him.) One hour later, I heard J coming back down the hall to our room, and before I could ask what was wrong he stopped in the door and I heard the distinctive sound of more upchucking. "He's barfing! Get up, he's barfing again!" TH jumped up and ran J into his bathroom, and while I was trying to find the carpet stuff to clean up the new mess, Jr. started wailing. So I abandoned the carpet and went to attend to Jr. TH was left to change PJ's once again and get J back into bed. Just as I came out of Jr.'s room, as TH was tucking him in, J suddenly sat up, leaned over the side of his bed, and vomited again, all over himself, the floor, the side of the bed, and TH. So we started stripping sheets AGAIN (at this point we'd all been up for another 45 minutes), and as we were getting J settled down Jr. woke up again, and when I went into his room and reached into the crib in the dark to pick him up I put my hand in a pool of vomited milk.

So there we were, TH scrubbing the carpet in J's room and changing sheets for the second time in 2 hours, me changing crib sheets with a crying-but-pitifully-hoarse baby laying on a blanket on the floor, and everyone coughing and sniffling and generally miserable. It was one of those times that is funny when you look back at it, but very unfunny when it's going down. As TH and I met up at the washing machine an hour later, he turned to me and said, "You realize we're washing vomity kids' sheets at 3am."

"Yep," I said.

"I guess we really are parents," he said.


Friday, December 11, 2009


Two years ago, we thought we were done having children, that we were fine with having an only child. Despite the usual 3-year-old insanity, J is a great kid, the answer to our prayers in many ways. Financially and logistically, we got into a really good groove over the past couple of years with just the three of us. Everyone was receiving enough attention, and there wasn’t really a great reason to rock the boat.

But everytime I would get together with my sisters and we would reminisce about growing up – the good, the bad, and let’s face it the sometimes really ugly – I couldn’t help but feel that for J to grow up an only child would be a disservice to him. Being a twin, I’ve never known a single child’s life – I’ve always had a sibling. Someone to play with, someone to talk to, someone to get in trouble with and to tattle on and get them in trouble. Sure we had our rough times (especially the teenage years – good God I don’t know how my mom survived 3 girls in high school at the same time!), but now that we’re adults the biggest blessing in my life besides TH and my boys is my relationship with my sisters. As J got older I also started to realize that having a little “competition” for our attention is also not a bad thing – one advantage of having siblings is realizing early on that you’re not the only person on earth.

Over the last few weeks I’ve started to see little signs here and there that J has warmed up to having a brother, and seeing the two of them together warms my heart in a way I didn’t really expect. Now that he’s used to the whole baby routine, J has become so helpful, getting diapers for me, looking for a dropped pacifier, helping at bathtime (his FAVORITE thing right now is helping give Jr. a bath.) He’ll come get me if the baby is crying, and when the music on Jr.’s bouncy seat goes off J will restart it without us asking. He’s stopped being jealous about breastfeeding – so much attention on the baby!—and will sit next to us patiently during feedings. The best part has been the social interaction between the two of them. Jr.’s favorite person on earth besides me is J, hands down. He turns his head towards J’s voice, and when J gets all in his business to “show” Jr. his toys (i.e. thrust them into the baby’s face until he goes cross-eyed) Jr. smiles and coos, and J exclaims “He’s smiling! He’s smiling at me!” It’s so freaking cute! When Jr. is having tummy time on the floor, J will lay in front of him encouraging him to hold his head up, telling him “Good job, baby! You’re doing it!” I love seeing them bonding with each other and starting their own little relationship that they’ll have for the rest of their lives.

Of course being siblings means there is some rivalry already, too. J has also started making random comments like “I want to put my foot on the baby’s head” or “I want to take the baby’s blanket off and make him cold” or (I kid you not) “I want to throw Jr. up into the fan.” He says all of these things in a very matter-of-fact way, and I try not to pay too much attention to it. I remember being the older kid—my younger sister and I have the exact same age difference as Jr. and J—and well, sometimes it gets old watching the baby get fussed over all the time. So I tell J it’s okay if he doesn’t always like the baby, and that I understand if he feels left out. And usually J will think about it, and earnestly tell me, “But I do love my baby brother, Mommy.”

I think having Jr.was a good decision for everyone.