A Better Day

Photo by Caleb Woods. From www.unsplash.com.

Yesterday was a tough day. Since it was Saturday the whole family was home together. I had a headache all day. Abby was tired and crabby and did not want to listen at all. I must have been crabby too, because I heard “Mom, you mad with me?” about a million times. The baby wanted to nurse non-stop. My husband was busy working on projects around the house. Abby ended up going to bed two hours late.

I woke up this morning hoping for a better day and determined to make it one. “Mommy, you my best friend,” Abby said in her sweet little voice as I changed her pull up. “I love you eyes. I love you knees. I love you elbows.” She smiled up at me.

It will always be a good day when I hear that.

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Getting Used to Life with a Newborn Again

Photo by Jenna Norman. From www.unsplash.com

Baby Oscar is now six weeks old. I love having him lay all scrunched up in a ball on my chest. His smell and soft fuzzy head is intoxicating. This week he has even given me several early smiles (I swear they weren’t gassy ones!) It has been wonderful staying home and snuggling with him each day, but I am still trying to get used to having a newborn.

I had forgotten how many noises a newborn makes. Like his sister did, he sleeps in a Pack and Play in our bedroom at the foot of our bed. All night long I find myself sitting up and hurriedly grabbing my eyeglasses from my nightstand so I can check on him after being woken by a strange sound. In my already sleep-deprived state, I have often resorted to sleeping with my head at the foot of the bed, glasses on, positioned so that I can see over the footboard and side of the Pack and Play. He makes lip smacking sounds when hungry, grunts when trying to pass gas or poop, dinosaur-like noises when stretching, kittenish mews, sweet yawns, and pissed off crying screams.

Unlike Abby, who can generally tell me what is wrong or what she needs, I have been plunged back into “what does baby need?” I feel a little more skilled this time around, but it is still hard to assess when Oscar is screaming for no apparent reason. Is it gas? Is he hungry again, so soon? Is something really wrong? Is he over-tired? Too hot? Too cold? Did his sister do something? Was it a spider in his bed? A sleep-deprived brain can come up with anything.

Maybe it is just my anxiety, but I feel the need to check on him whenever I hear something odd, so I don’t get much sleep, even though he sleeps way more than his sister did at this age. You would think that since this is my second child I would be a little more relaxed, but I can’t seem to be. It doesn’t help that a trillion articles about SIDS seem to show up in my Facebook newsfeed each day, making me paranoid.

Another thing I have had to get used to is diaper changes. I must admit I have been peed on quite a few times. I was not prepared for the speed and accuracy at which my tiny baby boy is able to shoot urine. And the poop! This kid uses at least two clean diapers per diaper change because I swear it is his mission to poop as I am changing him or as I am dressing him.

He wants to nurse all the time, and as of yesterday, has gained almost six pounds since leaving the hospital. I don’t mind too much, now that we finally seem to have the nursing thing down pat. I have been trying to get him to take a pacifier, because I think that a lot of the time he acts like he wants to nurse he is just really using me as a pacifier. We’ve tried five different ones and finally found one he will take, but he hasn’t figured out how to keep it in, so unless someone holds it the pacifier pops out and he wakes or gets upset.

With Abby being older I had forgotten how restrictive it can be to have a young baby. He wants to be held all the time. Sometimes I don’t get to take a shower for a couple days. My coffee is constantly going cold before I can drink it. Often I am so busy I forget or don’t have time to eat. The cycle of nurse, change diaper, clean up spit up, seems never-ending. I am waking up every hour and a half again to nurse at night.

I am so relieved that Abby hasn’t shown any signs of jealousy towards her brother. I am sad because I feel like I have to pay so much attention to the baby that I don’t get to spend as much time focusing on and interacting with her. I try to give her extra attention when I can, but it is not always possible. Whereas she always wanted to sit on my lap, have only me get her a drink, snuggle with me at bedtime, etc., now it is “Daddy, come snuggle me!” that comes over the baby monitor at night. I must admit that I can’t help feeling like the third wheel now. I know how my husband must have felt when Abby was in the difficult stage where she only wanted Mommy.

I am so tired that I want to check out at 8:00 p.m. every night. I usually go to bed at 9:00. I feel bad doing that because it means I get little to no time to spend with my husband. No more Netflix in the evenings together. We barely get to have a conversation at dinner time between Abby talking or the baby crying. I hate it because I don’t want him to feel neglected. I miss spending time together.

All too soon my maternity leave will be over and I will return to work. It is going to be so difficult to know someone else is taking care of my baby, to wonder how both kids are doing all day, to know I am missing seeing my baby’s milestones while I am sitting at my desk. For now, I am going to enjoy it while it lasts.

Just Chill

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Having a two-year-old and a newborn is great, most of the time. Abby is old enough that she wants to be my helper. She enjoys fetching burp rags, throwing away diapers, and other small tasks. Other times, it can be an exercise in seeing how long I can keep my cool. Sometimes I swear Abby tries to find as many ways as possible to do the opposite of what I say.

Picture this: the baby is sleeping, Abby is quietly coloring at her small table while watching a cartoon, and I finally get a moment to have breakfast and a hot cup of coffee three hours after everyone else. Immediately, Abby is drawn to the noisiest toy in the room.

“Do not touch that rattle,” I say, “your brother is sleeping.” Her life’s purpose becomes to get that toy, make as much noise as possible, wake the baby, and deny me a much needed moment of peace, quiet, hot coffee, and a moment to myself. When my attention has turned elsewhere she picks up the rattle, shakes it in front of the baby’s face, gives him kisses, trips on a toy, and knocks over a bunch of other toys. “Leave your brother alone!” I hiss. Keep calm, she loves the baby, she wants to help.

“Why?” She asks innocently, although we have had this same conversation probably about five hundred times. She knows the answer.

“Oscar is sleeping, sweetie. You can play with him later, after he has woken up. Babies need a lot of sleep. I need you to be quiet for a while and leave him alone.” I get up to deposit my cereal bowl in the kitchen sink and come back to find her jiggling his bouncy seat and shaking a different rattle in his face. Ugh!

“Oscar, I love you. Oscar! Here’s your toy! Oscar!” She sings in a loud voice. He blinks and squints and squishes up his face before falling back asleep. “Mom, I see him?”

“Abby, please go sit down, away from your brother, and be quiet!” For about three minutes she complies, but then as if someone hit the reset button she is right next to him again. The color book and episode of PJ Masks forgotten.

“Mommy, me give him hugs?” She piles baby toys onto his lap. “Oscar, hi Oscar!” She yells. Luckily, he turned his head to the side and kept sleeping.

I drop the towel I was folding and pick her up. “Please, let him sleep.” I give her a squeeze and a kiss on the top of her head. “He needs sleep. I know you want to play with him, but I need you to let him be. You find something else to play with for a few minutes. I will finish my coffee and finish folding towels. He will wake up on his own when he is ready.”

I fold all of the laundry and walk around the loveseat to the linen closet, literally five feet away. When I glance at Abby she is focused on the TV and sitting on the couch. While my back is turned, for all of twenty seconds placing towels on the shelf, she has scrambled to his side, is rubbing his head with one hand, and is trying to unzip his sleeper with the other.

“Mom, he needs new clothes. I help.”

“Abby-” aaaaand cue the baby crying.

“Just chill out!” I say, not sure if it is to her, the baby, or myself.

OK, it was mostly to myself.

More Ridiculous Things I Have Told My Toddler

Photo by Viktor Hanacek. From www.picjumbo.com

Every day it seems I find myself saying something crazy to my kid. Most of the time I forget to write it down, but occasionally I remember. Enjoy!

1. You’d better watch out, you just about poked yourself in the eye with your toe.

2. Your chicken is not a phone. Eat it.

3. Your turtle doesn’t swim in milk.

4. Don’t rub ketchup in your armpits.

5. Quit licking your toe and go pee.

6. No, I won’t show you my boobs in the middle of Walmart.

7. Crayons do not work better if they are put up your nose.

8. You can’t look through my belly button to see the baby.

Our Family Weekend Activities

Weekends are always our family’s favorite part of the week. They are a time where we get to spend time together, relax, and have fun.

Let’s face it- life is expensive, having kids is expensive, everything is expensive these days- and our family is growing so we are trying to save money wherever we can. We try to fill our weekends with free or low cost activities that the whole family can enjoy.

Here is a list of some of our family’s favorite weekend activities.

1. Cooking breakfast – Abby and I enjoy making muffins together. She likes to “help” me stir the batter. Blueberry are our favorite.

2. Playing outside – We love to play outside. Unfortunately, the current degree Kansas summer weather doesn’t always allow us to do this. Abby loves to blow bubbles, draw with sidewalk chalk, look for bunnies in the yard, kick a ball around, or go to the park. This last weekend we gave her a play house for her birthday, so I know we will spend plenty of time in the backyard.

3. Library time – Saturday mornings are great for a trip to the library. Our local library has a wonderful children’s floor that lends books, music, movies, video games, and more.

4. Swimming pool – The local Aquatic Center charges $3.00 for adult admission and Abby is able to get in for free, so we can pay $6.00 for an afternoon of fun splashing around in the water on a hot day. There is a great children’s pool with a small frog-shaped slide and a fountain that sprays water down that she loves. We have lots of fun sitting in a double innnertube floating down the “lazy river” together.

5. Reading books – Abby is a bookworm and we spend a lot of time reading books out loud.

6. Art – We spend lots of time with coloring books, stickers, painting, and drawing. I love to watch her artistic skills develop.

7. Napping – Who doesn’t like to take a nap? Abby takes one each day and I like to get one when I can too. Sometimes we have an afternoon “snuggle nap” – I take advantage of cuddling my little one when I can, she won’t be little or want to snuggle with Mom forever.

8. Shopping/Window shopping – While shopping isn’t a free or often a low-cost activity, we often go shopping to get groceries as a family on the weekends. We also like to go window shopping and walk around the mall or Hobby Lobby for awhile.

9. Watching a movie – We often watch movies together. I try to pick something new each time, if given a choice, Abby would watch Moana, Trolls, Zootopia, or a few other movies over and over again.

10. Chores – This isn’t the most enjoyable item on my list, but we often do chores together. I think it is important for kids to learn and help out. Usually we pick up toys together or she “helps” me fold laundry.

What does your family do on weekends? How do you spend time together?

Finger Painting Father’s Day Project

With Father’s Day coming up, Abby and I decided to get creative this morning and make a present for my husband.  He doesn’t buy new clothes very often, so we had already bought him a shirt, but we wanted to give him something homemade as well.  We had to be a little sneaky and work on it while he was occupied, as it is Sunday and he was home with us.

I looked at several cute ideas on Pinterest, but several of the ideas required items I did not have.  I wanted to try to use supplies we already had at home if possible. 

Abby loves to finger paint, so we got out a piece of 8 x 10 construction paper and acrylic paint.  We decided to use different shades of green, which is my husband’s favorite color.  I draped her high chair and the table in plastic and placed an old towel on the floor.  At first she daintily stuck her index finger in the paint and made polka dots on the paper like she was afraid to get dirty, but eventually she got into it.

Abby’s finished painting, below.

After the paint dried we added some leftover colored letters from Hobby Lobby that I had used for another project.  The letters are a tad crooked and not quite evenly spaced, but we had fun.  She is learning her alphabet so we had to review all the letters several times and she was very picky about what colors we used.

Lastly, I framed the painting with a black 8 x 10 frame.  I could not find an empty frame in storage so I ended up buying a $2.00 frame at Walmart.

Abby is pretty proud and excited to give her picture to Daddy!

Are you making any projects for Father’s Day?  I would love to hear about them!

Being a Nerd and Owning It, or Just Be Yourself 

Photo by Derik Hussein.

I was a super nerdy kid.  I was never interested in sports.  I was involved in Girl Scouts from first through tenth grade.  I played three different musical instruments in the school band and participated in our church handbell choir for almost ten years.  From first grade on I wore glasses.  In the early years I was not particularly careful with them, so I was prone to breaking my glasses; I remember having a couple pairs held together with tape until I was able to get a replacement.  My mom encouraged reading early and I excelled at reading.  In second grade I could read at a fifth grade reading level, and the older I got the farther ahead of my classmates I read.  I remember once during library time I wanted to check out a copy of a children’s version of Moby Dick, but the school librarian didn’t think I should check it out because she believed it was above my level of reading and comprehension.  She quizzed me in front of the other students and I was able to take the book home.  My voracious appetite for books only grew as I grew older. I was lucky to have several adults who recommended or gave me books to read that expanded my horizons.
In elementary school I discovered the Star Trek and Star Wars movies.  In the fifth grade I began to beg my mother to let me stay up past my normal bedtime to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation on TV at 9:00 p.m.  I was made fun of for my glasses.  I was made fun of because I liked to read at recess rather than playing dodgeball or some other game I wasn’t interested in or good at.

When I was in middle school I became obsessed with reading science fiction and fantasy novels.  I devoured The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Of course, in middle school there is a change in school social structure.  Unlike elementary school where everyone is friends, middle school becomes divided into different groups and cliques form.  I always felt as if I didn’t really belong in a certain group and tried to hide my nerdiness, to no avail. My haircut, the hopelessly uncool clothes my mother bought, and my ginormous glasses all branded me as a nerd.  I attended a small school and never had a group of friends that shared my interests.  Recently when my husband and I watched Stranger Things on Netflix I thought,  “Wow, that’s the group of friends that I should have had as a kid!”

During my high school years I still felt like a nerd.  I got all A’s and was the editor of the school newspaper for a year.  I participated in the Academic Contest with other school students in our school’s League. I was a member of the Scholar’s Bowl and the National Honor Society.  I tried harder to be cool and hide my nerdy interests so that I would fit in, but I never really did.  I often felt ashamed that I was so “weird,” as other kids called it.  I never dressed right, never played sports,  never had the right car, the right hairstyle, the right interests, the right music, and whatever else was or was trying to be, have, or do.

After high school I took a semester off and traveled.  When went to college I slacked off my first two semesters and did not do well.  I had a somewhat late rebellious phase and was determined to not be the dorky person I had always been.  I lived a much more carefree and bohemian lifestyle for quite a long time, trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do with my life.  I remember having an epiphany at a Dead concert at Red Rocks.  I was having a conversation with an older couple who had followed the Dead for years.  They were living the lifestyle they loved.  They were doing what they loved.  They weren’t trying to be something other than what they were.  They were happy.

I had never lost my love for all things sci-fi, superhero, or fantasy.  I am a huge Doctor Who fan.  I love graphic novels and am chomping at the bit to read The Walking Dead Compendium 3, which I received for my birthday but haven’t started yet.  I am dying to watch the new Wonder Woman movie.  I could sit down and discuss at length why the newest Star Trek movies totally suck and why the newest Star Wars movies are fantastic.  

My husband and I have attended three Comic-Cons together.  They have been some of the most fun experiences of my life.  There were so many people there that were having the time of their life, surrounded by so many encouraging people who shared so many of the same interests, some of whom had dressed up as their favorite characters, not caring a bit what the rest of the world thought. 

I am tired of trying to fit in to someone else’s mold, of trying to be someone else’s ideal.  I don’t care if I wear more band or TV show themed T-shirts than LulaRoe leggings or skinny jeans.  I am happy with who I am, nerdiness and all.  I no longer feel like it is something I should feel ashamed of.  I have never been more comfortable in my own skin.  I no longer care to change who and what I am to make others like me; if they don’t, it’s not my problem.  Love yourself.  Be who you are and own it.  It’s the only way to be.

Five Reasons Why I Love Being a Mom

  1. There is a little person who loves me just as I am, fiercely,fully, and without reservation.
  2.  People always say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I look at raising a child as my chance to change the world, my chance to make it better by raising a good, kind, caring, conscientious human being.
  3. I get to watch her learn and grow and discover the world.  It is incredible to see.
  4.  She can always make me smile, no matter how sick or tired or sad I am.  
  5.  She makes me want to be a better person and strive to be better than I am.

Mom’s Marvelous Carrot Cake 

I love my mom’s carrot cake.  It literally is the best carrot cake I have ever tasted.

I am very picky when it comes to carrot cake.  I remember the first time I ever tried carrot cake: I was probably six or seven and my aunt brought out a cake after supper.  I was so excited that we were going to eat cake- then I took a bite and was immediately disappointed.  It was dry and had stringy carrots and my mom made me be polite and eat it all anyway.  I tried carrot cake other times as I got older, but never liked any until finally, Mom convinced me to try hers.  I still haven’t found one that compares.

I made sure to copy my mom’s recipe so I could share it with you.

Ingredients 

Cake:

  • 2 c flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c oil
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp.baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 c grated carrots (I prefer finely chopped in the food processor, rather than grated)
  • 1 c or 1 medium can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 c golden raisins
  • Optional: 1/2 c finely chopped walnuts 

Icing:

  • 1/2 c softened butter
  • 2 8 oz blocks of softened cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 tbsp cream
  • 3 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
  • In a large mixing bowl mix the sugar, eggs, and oil.
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add dry ingredients into the large bowl containing the wet ingredients. Mix well.
  • Add the carrots, pineapple, and raisins. Mix well.
  • Divide the batter into the pans.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of each pan comes out clean.
  • Allow the cakes to cool and gently remove them from the pans. Cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • With a mixer mix together all the ingredients except the cream and powdered sugar.
  • Slowly add the powdered sugar (This is where I usually make a huge mess)
  • Add the cream, a little at a time until the icing is as soft or firm as you prefer.
  • Place the first cake on a cake plate or in a cake keeper.
  • Frost the cake on all sides and place the other cake on top, then frost it. 
  • Gently press the walnut pieces into the sides of the iced cake.

Store in the refrigerator.  The cake is even better the next day.


The first slice of cake with a side of ice cream. Yum!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!