Thursday, December 8, 2011

Now is the time to....

....take a crazy holiday photo

Not sure why things got so goofy so quickly, but it sure was a lot of fun.  (Probably had something to do with that self-timer that just always seems so hilarious at the time)  Enjoy!













And here's one trying to be normal "for the record": 


Ah, don't you just love the holidays!?!? 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pawprints on my Heart

Before C was born, I spent two months in a rental house with my dog.  My husband slept at the rental house, but basically spent from 5:15pm-2:00am working on our remodel across town.  Occasionally I would haul my giant body out in the cold to deliver a pizza and a six pack of beer just so I could see the man.  But usually, I would throw on comfy pants, peel and slice about four oranges (my only real pregnancy craving), and dive into a book or hunker down in front of the computer (we had no cable) with my loyal gal by my side.  Literally.  We would relax and cuddle and I would whisper promises of never-ending love to her.  

 It was just me and her.  (Please excuse the random junk in this pic)




She was not just the family dog, she was the family.  We were "those people".  You know the kind-- you probably have neighbors or friends like us--the kind you roll your eyes at, right?  The kind of people who think having a dog is like having a kid.  (HA!)  Who can't imagine loving someone more than their dog.  Who stress out when the store is out of a particular kind of dog food or treat. You're getting the picture, right? 


The kind of people who not only buy their dog stockings, but fill them with more treats and goodies than some kids probably receive from Santa.


















Still not convinced?  We were the kind of people who baked organic homemade dog biscuits.

















And braved the cold (I was 8 months pregnant in this snowshoeing photo)--- so that rarely a day went by that she did not get "big exercise"



















We "tried" to take family photos with her.



















This one is probably one of my favorite pictures ever!



















We played and laughed and lived.




But then this happened:


And all those promises that I had whispered to her during our time in the rental were broken on the spot. 

That was almost two years ago.  And while it didn't happen overnight, I slowly fell out of love with my first four-legged true love.  The stress of a fussy baby, a "new" house, unpacking, hormones, marriage, life in general.... just didn't leave a lot of patience for an 80 pound fur ball that only seemed to be in the way.  She was loud and clumsy and, well, let's just say she seemed to have missed the "Labrador Retrievers are such smart dogs" gene.  (She's very special)

There were more than a few times that M and I would joke about sending her to a farm but only recently did the idea actually sound tempting.  And when it did, I sat down and did some thinking.  What had changed?  Was it really her?  Or course we know the answer so I vowed to try to change things.  Maybe not go back to considering her my child (that would be super weird since I have a human kid now) but at least try to include her again.

In trying to think of how to rebuild our relationship, I decided that the best thing to do would be to walk.  M and I agreed that I would walk Maddy when he comes home for lunch-- just a short little mile walk every day-- to the park and back.

Today was our first lunch date and I think it went well.  She seems calmer tonight and there is a good vibe in the house.  I know I'll still get frustrated with her, and I know things will never be the way they were before C, but I have to remember that I love her and she really is still a part of this family. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving...

Although the historically incorrect Pilgrim/ Indian story drives me crazy, I am thinking that I should at least pause and acknowledge what I'm thankful for.  So here are my sincere, truly thankful acknowledgments:

Of course I'm thankful for my family.  Everyday I feel fortunate to have a healthy little boy, who is turning into such a cool little person.  I'm thankful for my husband--who puts up with my typical womanly mood swings and loads the dishwasher in addition to completely manly tasks too.  I'm thankful for my parents, grandparents, sister, and in-laws-- and that they and their families are well & healthy too. 

My friends-- Seriously, some people are lucky enough to have one amazing friend--true friend-- in their life.  And honestly, I have more than one!  (I know, can you believe it?)  I love them all in different ways-- and can't imagine being who I am today without being shaped by most of them.

My job-- I love that I get to keep my professional foot in the door & do the job I love, while devoting every afternoon to my family. 

Our house--especially my big kitchen and our finished play room downstairs

Our community-- Okay, I'm being tricky here b/c Grundy isn't necessarily my favorite place but I'm very thankful for it.  I love feeling safe, I love the small town atmosphere, and I love raising my kid here.

All of the above are true, but here are some more..... shallow (?) things to add to the list:

*Electric Blankets
*Starbucks Drive Thru
*Target
*Mascara
*Pony tail holders on windy days
*Audio Books
*Sunroofs
*Binkies
*Smart Phones
*Amazon.com
*Fitting into my pre-pregnancy clothes
*Nursing (so that the above was even possible)
*Dove Chocolate
*Spahn cottage
*Sirius XM Radio
*Town Parks
*Washing Machines (who is going to invent an ironing machine?)
*Treadmills & Bike Trainers (not that I use these things anymore)
*Relax Reisling & New Age Wine
*Digital Cameras
*Summer Vacation, Winter Vacation, Spring Break
*Pumpkin Pie (on Thanksgiving) & Creme Brule (on date night)


Happy Thanksgiving! Gobble Gobble!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let's Get Our Scrap On!

Two weeks ago was my "big scrapbook weekend" as M has begun to lovingly call it.  Where "the black bag society" packs up tons of "supplies" into "totes" and heads of to scrapbook.  What started as a one time get-away, has become something of a tradition-- a girls crafty/ scrapbooking weekend that gets inked into the calendar a full year in advance.

I absolutely love that weekend.  It's two days of sorting & organizing pictures, cropping them, scrutinizing paper and page layouts, meticulously cutting out tiny embellishments, punching tiny brads into tinier holes, adding borders, mats, stickers, ribbons, and glitter to make a scrapbook page beautiful (in the owner's eyes anyway).  It's using vocabulary words that our husbands might not even know the meaning of.  Words like: brads, Xyron, tearing tool, self-healing mat, cartridge, sticky dots, grommets, Cricut and Silhouette are just a few. 

I love having individual time to work on C's 1st year scrapbook (of course it won't be finished by his 2nd birthday-- who do you think I am?) and our 2009 trip to Washington DC (not sure if that will ever be finished either).  And every November, I try to scrapbook the photos from the previous December (hey, better late than never, right?) But for me, it's more than the scrapbooking.

I love that I can look forward to one weekend with some awesome women.  Two of my favorite college friends are always there, and I always leave feeling like I connected with someone new.  This year, another gal and I burned the midnight oil by chatting until 3:00 am.  Now remember people, I have not willingly stayed up until 3:00 since WAY before C was born!  But it was so great to connect with such a neat person.  I love that while I miss C like crazy, he and I both know that we'll be okay for a weekend apart.  I love that my parents get some un-interrupted and un-chaperoned time with their grandson.  (I know things like ice cream before bed and donuts in the morning are happening and I love that too.) And I love that M gets to enjoy a little bachelor weekend at home where he can lounge around watching his DIY and gross man shows without my complaints, eat cereal for every meal, and leave the kitchen messy--before he completes several household projects and tidies the house up on Sunday.

This year I felt a twinge of guilt as I packed up for the weekend-- feeling like I should want to take a day off to hang out with C not my scrapbook friends. But as soon as I saw him dive into the toy boxes at his grandparents' house, I knew that this would be a fun & exciting weekend for him as well.  I'm hoping this tradition continues because it seems to be a favorite for everyone involved.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Are These the Golden Years?

I don't know how to start this blog any other way than to say that I think I'm basically obsessed with my kid.  I've become the mom I didn't think I would ever be.  I think it's finally "clicked"-- I feel totally and completely 100% in love with C almost all the time.

So here's the thing:
I'm worried about losing this feeling!  

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people tell me, "Oh just wait until......"  This has been going on from the moment I announced that we were expecting.  

"Oh, you're not getting morning sickness?  Just wait until nothing sounds appetizing."
"You're still feeling fine?  Just wait until you're nine months pregnant!"
"You want to have a drug-free birth?  Just wait until you're in the most pain of your life!"
"You think having a 4 month old is bad?  Just wait until they start crawling!"
"You think crawling is bad?  Just wait until they start walking!"
"You think things are good now?  Enjoy it because wait until he's three!"
"You think he say's 'NO' now? Just wait until you have teenager who talks back!" 

But honestly, as C has gotten older, he's been much easier to handle.  Maybe my view is skewed because he was such a fussy baby--so any toddler fit pales in comparison to 4+ hours of evening crying.  And I've come to realize that when I tell people that things are going well, then they're going to point out that I better cling to this feeling because surely it is fleeting and bound to get about a thousand times worse at some point in the near future. 

Up until now, I've LOVED watching C transition from phase to phase.  It's been so much fun to listen to his vocabulary expand and to see his comprehension really start kicking in.  I love watching him become  a little person and honestly, I've welcomed each new phase with open arms.  I've been excited to watch him grow up and get bigger and become more independent so I don't know why I should stop that now---I think it's just because I'm hearing so many negatives about "what's to come". (People want others to be happy.... but not "super happy")

The bulk of my job relies on me developing relationships with children, and maintaining them so that (hopefully) they feel like they have at least one advocate in the school building.  Of course, there are many other things I need to do in my job, but I see building relationships as my #1 priority.  And, I feel pretty confident in doing this.  But, I think a lot of teachers would feel this way and I also think most would say "it's different with your own kid".  So my question is, "Does it have to be?"  How can parents and kids come to know each other and respect each other as people --before the kid is 25 (I think that's the age when I finally realized my parents were actual people).  How do I keep my cuddly little mama's boy from turning into a sassy, rude, teenager? How do I teach him that it's okay to be sensitive and emotional but still be a rough & tumble little guy?  How do I encourage him to hang out with his family--even when he's at a point in his life where his peers are the most important to him?  Am I really going to look back on his toddler years as the best years of "us"?  In other words, "Is this as good as it gets?"  Or is it actually possible for us to grow together--to get to  know each other as individuals and hopefully enjoy each other's company every now and then?  


So right now, I admit that I'm kind of feeling "super happy" when it comes to C.  He's at such a great phase.  He is so curious, he's such an explorer, and he definitely has his own thoughts and ideas!  (This can, at times, be maddening as I pretend to be a detective and decipher the meaning of his words using his limited vocabulary) I love so many things about being a "toddler mom" but I'm just a little apprehensive that this tiny moment of parental bliss will be gone before I know it. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sneakers and Santa Hats

June 19, 2009 was the last time I really participated in exercising.  Two days after that, I found out I was pregnant and that was that.  Oh sure, I walked and swam right up until C was born, and went for tons of walks after C was born, and even took the jogging stroller out a few times.  But I haven't "trained" for anything since then.   And while I'm honestly not really missing it, I feel like I should get back in the loop.

I'm a little hesitant because training now will require me to either

a) get up super early to run outside (like 5:00 ish)--- this is NOT a desirable option to me

or

b) jog on the treadmill during C's nap-- this is NOT a desirable option to me either.

I don't mind getting up early, but then I MUST take a nap.  Remember, I'm a mandatory 8-hour sleeper (thus the reason the first five months of baby phase were excruciating for me).  And I don't really mind jogging mid-day during C's nap but I detest running on the treadmill.  (Plus our screen is broken so I can't even stare at the seconds ticking by or watch the little dots light up around that imaginary track)

However, I realize that I MUST just do this.  Before C, participating in (I don't want to misuse the word "compete" because I clearly do not compete with anyone during these things) races was a pretty large part of my life.  I love having something on the calendar to work towards, I love being held accountable for exercising, and most of all, I LOVE race day.

So...... I am very tempted to dust off my running shoes, don a Santa hat, and sign up for the annual "Snow Shuffle" in Cedar Falls.  This would give me about a month to go from zero to 5K which may be a bit ambitious but I think I could at least finish.  Since I haven't even gone for a jog in a year, I have yet to state a formal goal-- but I think it would need to be similar to my 2004 marathon goal-- finish the race.  However, as the cold air begins to settle over the midwest, I'm also a little tempted to just spend that training time under a blanket with my knitting needles or a good book.  I know I SHOULD just sign up for that race, but...... can I?  Will I?  Do I really want to?  Augh! I don't know-- and I really need to get off the fence.  If anyone wants to join me,  I'd love some merry companionship!!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh Mexico!

Four years ago, one of my best friends married an awesome person on the beaches of beautiful Mexico.  The wedding came just two months after my own beachy wedding, and nobody had to twist my arm to take two vacations in one year.  Unfortunately, M couldn't attend the wedding due to his busy work schedule, but my best friend in the entire world jumped at the opportunity. Let's call this friend "Duet" (she's a pianist, and my choice of partners if I ever was in a duet with someone)

So "Duet" lives in Phoenix and decided to meet me in Mexico.  Our planes arrived a few hours apart and we both took separate taxis to the resort.  (I'm not sure I would do this in 2011 though)  We were only gone a few days (I think we flew out on Thursday and came back on Sunday--I only took off one day of work for this trip!) but it was the best "girls trip" ever.  We were a couple for the weekend-- and it was awesome.  Being in a beautiful tropical location with your best girl friend--amazing.


Here's the two of us during our night on the town: 


Now, Mason and I have gone on two "big" vacations and while he is the love of my life, and my best best best deepest loving friend, a best girlfriend is just.....different.  When Mason and I have gone on vacation, we talk a lot, but don't spend endless HOURS of non-stop conversation.  We laugh and chuckle, but don't find ourselves having belly aches from a memory that is so absurd and random and hilarious.  We admit that we feel bloated after indulging in too many cocktails and rich food, but we don't compare stomach rolls or flabby thighs.

I'm not saying that I would rather go on a vacation with my girlfriends than my husband because there is nothing better than getting to spend time with M away from home.  But our Mexico trip opened my eyes to the importance of keeping friendships with girlfriends just as alive.  When Duet and I were in Mexico, we vowed that we would take a similar trip someday-- even if we had children--we would make it happen.  Of course, neither of us really "got it" when it came to what that meant-- and now that we both have little ones, it's easier to understand how people gradually put these kinds of promises on the back burner.

But as I think about that vacation four years ago, I have a deep thankful feeling for the amazing girlfriends in my life.  I hope I'm lucky enough to spend many more years with them and create many more memories.  And now after this trip down memory lane, I have something stirring in my belly to round up my girlies and head somewhere warm-- or at least somewhere with a heater, some cocktails, and maybe an indoor pool.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Heap-a-Week Challenge

So this friend of mine has organized a "Heap-a-Week" Challenge via facebook.  The goal is to organize your life one "heap" at a time.  And, by pacing ourselves throughout the year, the idea is to sort through and organize 52 heaps of junk in your house. 

Since I'm a sucker for organizational tasks (I was always the kid in elementary who loved when we got to stay inside for recess to clean out our desks) I had to jump on this opportunity.  However, truth be told, I don't really have TONS of "heaps" to organize.  I LOVE to throw things away!!!  Unfortunately, this has gotten in the way a few times when I've inadvertently tossed things I didn't mean to.  (The worst was the day I took my dry cleaning to Goodwill--- sad sad day-- and some lucky gal hopefully found several pairs of $90 Express pants on the $3.00 rack---I think I did lose sleep over that one but lesson learned!)

Anyway, I decided to participate in the task.  I haven't finished making my list, but here is my start.  I won't clutter up my (oh-so interesting and entertaining) blog with descriptions of every heap, but here are a few:

* mail storage
* "games" shelf in basement
* scrapbook shelf in basement
* small file cabinet (I have NO idea what is even in those two drawers!)
* "technology" drawer-- every possible cord, camera, charger, random manuals, etc.
* large storage shelf in laundry room
* laundry room cupboards
* jewelry "baskets"
* bathroom drawers/ medicine cabinet
* kitchen medicine cupboard
* kitchen placemats/ reusable bags/ misc drawer
* cookbooks
* knitting yarn
* guest room closet
* old letters

I decided to begin today with the jewelry one.  I usually wear earrings and a necklace, and end up taking them off in random places-- thus, there are earrings in lots of drawers, on top of the coffee pot, next to the sink, on the arm of the couch, etc.  The necklaces tend to get tossed in a bathroom drawer when I'm getting ready for bed.  But here is the before & after--

Before--baskets of random jewelry.... and perfume (that's probably another heap)


And after-- (used my new Lia Sophia boxes to organize long necklaces, & chunky bracelets)


I love how it feels when something is newly organized!  Now if only I could keep it this way-- 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Cows and Tractors and Horses...NAY!"

Earlier this year, C's daycare provider moved into a different house.  Now, instead of a 6 block commute, we have to travel almost five miles to her house.  Fortunately, it's on my way to work and a blacktop behind our house makes it a nearly direct route.  Along the way, we have an amazing view of Iowa cornfields (and bean fields too).  We pass two houses with cattle, and one with horses.  We pass a bridge, a stream, two trails, and a park.

While these landmarks may seem insignificant, they sure are conversation starters for an almost 20-month old.  During the morning ride, the sun streams in through C's window--sometimes this bothers him and he shouts, "No-No Sun!"  (a trick Daddy taught him instead of crying about it).  Other times, he points to it and excitedly shouts, "Sunny!  Sunny!  Up!"  When we pass the fields with combines already harvesting the crop, he says, "Big tractor!"  He points out the "Wad-ow" when we see the stream and loves looking for "Moos" in the field.   During the afternoon drive, he points out the park and the fact that there is a tiny little "nay" to ride there.  He always looks for the real horses on the way home, but sometimes they are not in the field.  Then he tells me, "Nay. nigh-night".  I will usually say, "Yep, and Charlie is going to go nigh-night when we get home."  Lately, the answer to this has been "nope."

On Tuesdays and Thursdays we take one of C's daycare friends to her preschool class.  She tells me what they ate for lunch and whether or not C was good at daycare.  She explains the games they played at the park (usually "Mr. Bear" or "Mr. Fox"--where they have to wake up the bear or fox and he chases them. --but not the babies because they're too little) and tells me whether or not she had a happy, sad, or mad morning.  She likes it when I quiz her about what baby animals are called (baby cats are called kittens, baby hedgehogs are called hoglets, etc.)

Yesterday, as I was driving, I realized how much I love these "car conversations".  When C's friend was chattering on about the noodles at lunch, and C was looking at her and parroting her words, I couldn't help but fast forward a few years.  What will it be like when C is in preschool?  Will he have a little sibling that he adores like his friends adore him?  Will he excitedly point out horses to a little sibling like Kaden does to him?  I love the idea of happy car conversations and chatty little voices in the backseat.  (Don't get me wrong, I understand there is a reason parents use the phrase "Don't make me stop this car!"-- but for the most part, I think travel time is usually a content time) And while that day hasn't come yet, I'm definitely enjoying our little fragmented conversations about the world that zips past us on the way to daycare.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Catching Up

You may have noticed that I posted a few blogs all at once.  My confession is that I have lots of blog ideas but seldom act upon them.  Sometimes I even go so far as to type them out and then they sit buried in my computer until I'm motivated enough to post them.  I try to avoid posting all of the negative ones--thus making it appear that I'm a happy-go-lucky and positive person.  Fortunately, most of you know me and have probably heard me vent about these things that are not posted--so are probably not fooled.  Anyway, my goal is to try to post a blog more frequently-- maybe not every week, but at least once monthly.  And I'd really like to write about something other than my kid, but he just consumes my thoughts and energy.  Someday, I promise I'll post something not related to parenting!  But you just might need to give me a few years. 

Professional Party Goers!


Our past two weekends have been incredibly busy--especially for the Spahns, who usually prefer staying home in comfy clothes and watching reality TV.  But now that C is a little older and more portable, we've been venturing out, skipping a nap here and there, occasionally eating dinner 2 hours later than normal, and...... the world has kept spinning!!  (Last year at this time we really did believe we would not survive if we deviated 2 minutes from our schedule--and I'm still not convinced that we would have)

But here's a little glimpse at our busy October weekends:


Friday, September 30   
Cedar Falls Oktoberfest --chilly night but fun to get out and about!



Saturday, October 1     
Iowa State Tailgate with Keninger Family--so so much fun!  Even though they will never get me to wear ISU gear, it's still great to see everyone. Next year we will have to come early because the time went way too fast (didn't help that the only thing I did was chase C around). 
Grandpa & his grandkids--I love this pic!


Sunday, October 2       
Nora's Baptism in Waukee-- Such a sweet baby!
Congrats Nora!  
C thought the water was pretty cool.  I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to let toddlers swim in the Holy water but I don't really remember all the Catholic rules. 

After getting kicked out of the Holy water, being chased by Daddy was another fun option.


Family Photo taken outside of Brett & Marlene's House
All American Family of 8


Wednesday, October 5        
Family walk out on the Nature Trail-- gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous night to be out and about.  In a previous life, Mase, Maddy & I would have walked the mile stretch before turning around and coming back.  Now, with C leading the way and exploring everything in site, we only made it about 100 meters before running out of daylight and having to turn around.
Three of my favorite heartbeats....


Thursday, October 6
Leaf Raking!  C had his first "lesson" in raking leaves.  He is Mr. Serious when it comes to this task. I thought he'd be smiling like crazy but he was very determined with his job.  It was pretty dang cute.




Friday, October 7
Field Trip with Nicole's Daycare kiddos to the Barn Stahl Petting zoo.  Two hours was NOT enough time for all the things we needed to do.  Highlights included: huge swingset/ tree house (omg, makes me so nervous that C can climb a ladder!!), playing in the box filled with corn, feeding goats, playing basketball in the hayloft, and jumping in an inflatable castle.
C likes looking at the animals.....from a distance.  He is not thrilled with them possibly touching him.  I've got to get this kid on a farm more often.   



Saturday, October 8
UNI HOMECOMING!  Yay!  Now, I am biased but purple & gold is WAY cooler than red & gold!  (that jab is for all of my ISU family members) The weather was super warm and C couldn't get enough walking, football, and Doritos. 
Football, sippy cup, Doritos, crackers, cheese....what could be better? 


Playing in the leaves.  There couldn't have been a better day for playing in the leaves.  It was warm with a cool breeze--perfect for tossing leaves in the air. 


Sunday, October 9
C's new playset!  We've been talking about looking for a playset in the spring and we happened to talk with a neighbor about buying theirs.  Mase drove the forklift over & brought it back in 2 or 3 loads.  (This is a benefit of living in a small town where you can just drive a forklift with a swingset on it down the road, and a benefit of being married to the manager of the lumberyard) They loved the idea of us taking it away for them and we got a "new to us" playset.  C was thrilled-- I can't wait to have something entertaining for him in the yard.

C tests out the swing while Daddy tries to make it level. 

What a busy weekend!  Maybe things will slow down in the future....somehow I doubt it though. 

A Little Vent about the USPS

If you know me, you probably are aware that I am NOT a fan of the United States Postal Service.  I think I may have been at one time, but in the past few years, I really have not found any reason to love this so-called “service”. 

Now, I love receiving snail mail as much as any other person, but I also pretty much rely on e-mail for the majority of my correspondence.  I understand that the post office is in financial dire straights but quite frankly, I’m not really surprised. 

Here are a few of my thoughts: 
  1. I am no logistical analysyist, but to me, it does not make financial sense to ship packages halfway around the country “in route” to the destination.  I would like to note the following package tracking that I recently received.
    • Shipped from Oklahoma City, OK
    • First scan in TX
    • Second scan in AL
    • Third scan in LA
    • Fourth scan in (honestly) CO
    • Fifth scan in IA (yay!)
    • Oh wait….. Sixth scan in  (again, honestly) ME
    • Seventh scan in IL
    • Eighth scan in IA

So I probably could have driven down to OK to pick up this package faster than it arrived.  It was sent on the 8th of September and received on the 3rd of October.  Hmmm.  I’m shocked that people choose UPS or FedEx. 

  1. Now I am not a marketing major and don’t really get that sort of thing but usually, when a company has a monopoly on an entire industry….say, stamps for example, they usually come out on top.  You might argue, “Nobody uses stamps anymore—except for junk mail”.  You’re telling me that stamps are the only way that the PO was ever in the black?  If so, that’s a pretty risky strategy. My point is that here we have a company that offers similar services as UPS and FedEx AND they are the only ones that have stamps!  And they are broke? 

  1. Perhaps some of the reason that people would rather not deal with USPS is because of their stupid rules.  If you mail something in a Priority envelope (even recycled) it MUST be sent priority.  If you bring in a package and ask to borrow some tape, you BUY your own conveniently located on the “supplies for sale” wall.  If you pay with your credit card, it MUST be signed.  It cannot say “please see ID”.  Even if the person working is your neighbor and has your house key—hypothetically speaking here. 

For those of you whom work for the USPS or have loved ones that do, I am not suggesting that I don’t appreciate and like the workers!  In fact, they are the only good thing I can think of about this place.  I just wish the USPS would hire someone with a bit of marketing sense and make this totally potentially profitable organization a little better.  In the meantime, I’ll keep "supporting" and using our GC PO--- just complaining under my breath at the same time.  

A Little Bit of Nostalgia--

(Originally written Aug 23, 2011)


It never ceases to amaze me how a scent can bring back such vivid, strong memories.  Combine that with a song and wow, it’s like being transported back in time.  This morning, the air was cool and crisp without a drop of humidity.  There was also a sound in the air--we Midwesterners could instantly pinpoint the time of year based on the sounds alone—the combined chirping of birds as well as Cicades—both noisily buzzing away.  Summer is ending. Fall is coming.  Today was the first day of school.

As I dressed C for daycare, it dawned on me that in four years, I’ll be dressing him for his very first day of school as he heads off to kindergarten.  We’ll take pictures of him in his shiny new clothes and super fast tennis shoes holding a backpack filled with spanking new school supplies.  If he’s anything like his momma, he’ll be thrilled to get to school, see his friends and get down to business.  If he’s anything like his daddy, he’ll be thrilled to get to school, see his friends, and get outside for recess.  

Before having a baby, I assumed all of my childhood memories belonged only to me.  I remember posing for our photos on the first days of school, and walking off to Fairview Elementary School.  I remember holding hands with my friends and eagerly sharing the details of my day with our family.  But now, I’m realizing that I actually share many of those memories with my parents—and they must look back on those years gone by with a pang in their stomachs too.  

As I was listening to “the oldies” station on my morning drive, I felt transported to the past as Dave Matthews easily sang through my speakers.  I think the combination of the perfect fall atmosphere, laid back music, and Chanel Allure perfume made it impossible for my brain to ignore:

 The year was 1996.  I was a freshman at Coe College in Cedar Rapids.  I had arrived on Coe’s campus with more self-assurance and eagerness than anyone should ever be allowed.  I thought I had an adorable decorating sense (if you think bohemian chic is cool), a fine literary palate (having read all of the books by Christopher Pike, Danielle Steel, and Mary Higgins Clark), and an easy-going way of making friends (my last friend issue had been in middle school).  Little did I know that that first year at Coe would be such a rich learning experience—and I’m not talking about academics.

I had such a difficult roommate situation, which lead to a really difficult transition to school.  Luckily, one of my best friends in the whole world was at school with me—but he was busy playing on the football team and transitioning easily into the college scene.  I, on the other hand, was learning just how sickening homesickness could make a person feel.  I missed my family and my high school boyfriend more than I though possible.   Of course, this was before cell phones (wow, was there ever a time?) and long distance calling was expensive—which made conversations rare and sometimes even more heartbreaking. 

Eventually, I found some amazing people at Coe, and latched onto them!  They helped me realize that perhaps things weren’t as terrible as I thought.  They introduced me to other great people and by the spring semester, I think I actually felt happy. 

While that fall was definitely one of the most difficult transitions I’ve ever experienced, I had no idea what was ahead of me.  Looking back on my 18 year old self, I realize how naieve I was—in so many ways.  I think I took myself way too seriously—and the important stuff way to casually.  I had no concept of “bad”— missing my boyfriend was the worst thing I had endured. I had no concept of money—but I will admit that writing a $4,500 check to cover one semester struck a little chord with me.

And as I look back on that 18 year old “self”, I realize that my parents were there—watching that 18 year old person transform right before their eyes.  I’m sure that they also have a memory of this moment in my life—but of course, it’s through such different lenses—those very special “parent lenses” that you can’t really understand until you become one. 

I think about all of the changes that happen with C on a daily basis—and sometimes I get a little sad when I think about progressing to the next phase.  I honestly try to stay “in the moment” as much as possible (which is why I’m probably so tired!) and capture this time before it slips away.  And while we begin to create childhood memories for little C, I realize how cool it is to put on my “parent lenses” and file away my version of those same memories in my head.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My New Favorite Author

When I was a kid, I loved "Ann M. Martin".  For some of you, that name may mean nothing.  For others, you instantly think of those pastel paper-back books with the little blocks spelling "The Babysitter's Club" across the top.  She was my go-to favorite author.  I loved most of her books, and liked all of them.  Before her, I was addicted to Beverly Cleary--and read every single one of her books. As I grew up, other authors were added to the list--authors I could always count on to deliver a good read.  Names like Christopher Pike, VC Andrews, Mary Higgins Clark, Jody Piccult, and of course, JK Rowling. 

I LOVE TO READ.  Of course, I wish I had more time to sit and read--but I've begun to take advantage of audio books and try to carve a little night reading into each evening before bed.  In 2008, Mason gave me this new contraption called a "kindle" for our 1st anniversary.  "Paper" is the traditional 1st year anniversary gift, and he reasoned that books are made from paper and someday, most people will read books on something like this "kindle".  Nobody that I knew had ever heard of a kindle--and honestly, i thought it sounded kind of stupid.  Why pay for books when I can go to the library?  But after figuring out how to use it, I began to love my Kindle--and now it's a regular piece of me--usually found on my nightstand, the ottoman, the kitchen counter, or in my purse. 

Anyway, after finishing "The Hunger Games" trilogy, I was in need of something to read.  I didn't have time to run to the library, and found a book on my Kindle that I downloaded a long time ago.  The book was titled, "The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes" by Diane Chamberlain.  I didn't think it sounded great, but I was out of options and started to read. 

Once I began that book, I'm pretty sure I neglected most of my daily chores and activities.  It was one of those great stories--the kind of book that is hard to put down at night and makes you feel like some kind of a drug addict as you crave your next fix--another chapter--or maybe two as soon as possible! Although there were parts of the book that I wasn't crazy about, I loved the way the author made me care about her characters, and I loved her style of writing.  I read books for entertainment and for the story-- I hate when authors get caught up in the details of things and the history of those details.  Chamberlain is fantastic at weaving together a well thought out story--that keeps you turning pages until the end.  I'm so glad I stumbled across this book--it's always great to have another author you can always count on!




You can find more about her here: http://www.dianechamberlain.com/

PS:  I just HAD to read her latest book, "The Midwife's Confession" which was also wonderful.  I don't think it was as great as Cee Cee, but still pretty dang good. 

What a Fair Day!

Last weekend I took my family to Spencer to:
a. see the grandparents and great-grandma
b. visit the Clay County Fair

Now apparently, the Clay County Fair is the "Greatest County Fair on Earty"--or it used to be.  I think it was the largest county fair for a few days, but I'm sure that's not the case now.  It is a big fair, but I grew up with the CCF practically in our backyard so I never considered it much of a treat to witness.  If I remember correctly, the fair became especially appealing around 5th or 6th grade when my parents allowed me to hang out with some friends at the fair for a few hours... un-chaperoned!  (Then the fair seemed really cool)  In high school, I don't really remember hanging out at the fair--except for maybe doing a few midway rides here & there.  (I'm thinking there may have been some really romantic carnival induced memories that slipped through the cracks in my memory vault--thank god)

Because the CCF takes place in September (as opposed to the grueling summer months of most county fairs), I don't think I took part in it after my senior year.  Honestly, I had no desire to really hang out there again.  (Although, fair food sure is enticing!) But isn't it funny how you view gross things like county fairs with different lenses when you are constantly looking for toddler entertainment?  Suddenly, this smelly, greasy, boring, fat-people haven becomes an educational, fun, exciting, opportunity!

As we strolled through the fairgrounds, C was all eyes and pointing out everything to us.  He especially loved wandering through the barns, petting the baby animals, drinking his first lemonade, looking at the trains, and climbing on the big tractors.  The weather was gorgeous--although a tad on the hot side as the mercury rose to the high 80's.  After three exciting hours, we were all ready to take a nap, but had to gobble up a few Tom Thumb Donuts & Kiwanas Ice Cream before leaving the grounds. 

Teaching Grandpa about the Ag Careers at the Extension Building

Posing for a quick pic with Grandma

Looking a t a baby goat-- I think they were 4 weeks old

And a 2 week old piglet.  Sooooo cute! 

"Toooo-Tooos!"  ---scrambling to get a little taller to look in the window.

Perhaps the favorite part of the fair--a balloon!

Charlie thought we should buy this camper.  It was quite comfy!

Sneaking a little lemonade behind the stroller.

You gotta love a shoulder ride!

Monday, September 5, 2011

How Do You Take Your Coffee?

It's a simple question--but now, in the Starbucks age, there are literally hundreds of answers to this question.  (My personal favorite Starbucks order is: Grande iced, white chocolate mocha, skim, zebra style, with no whip)  But at home I just drink coffee.  With a lot of milk.  Actually, some might argue that I drink milk with a splash of coffee--which is probably more accurate. 

His & Hers morning coffee.
 Anyway, as Mason made the coffee this morning, I asked myself, "What does coffee mean to people?"  There are so many things about it that I love--aside from the taste and the little jolt that keeps my caffeine headaches at bay.  Words that instantly come to mind:

Warm
Comfort
Home
Safe
Peaceful
Promise
Productive
Energizing
Relaxing

I grew up in a house where coffee was made every morning.  It signaled the beginning of a new day.  The sound of the percolating, the smell of the brewing, the sight of the hot caraf filling with steamy black liquid--all meant one thing--it's time to start the day!  There is something promising about a morning-- so many things on a to-do list, so much productivity that is yet to be accomplished.  And it's weird because when a coffee pot is on, it's just part of this equation.  Yet, coffee is also a relaxing thing too. As a kid, I witnessed the grownups in my life drinking coffee after supper--especially when birthday cake & ice cream were involved.  It was a part of sleepy Sunday mornings, and leisure snow days--where we would all stay in our jammies until we absolutely had to get dressed.  My parents even drank coffee out of little blue mugs when we went camping--although I have no memory of what they used to brew it. 

Both sets of my grandparents (minus my Grandpa Bernie--who much preferred juice or ice water) were also coffee drinkers.  Mornings at my Keninger grandparents were spent with coffee and donuts.  And I'm pretty sure that every meal ended with a cup of coffee as well.  Mornings at my Bomgaars grandparents were spent with coffee and crossword puzzles.  I also remember them drinking evening coffee while visiting with the grownups (and probably listening to an Iowa game on the radio).  

So it makes sense that now, when Mason & I drink coffee in the mornings, I feel so....grownup and at home.  And when C points to my mug and says, "Acky? Hot!" I realize that his life will also be influenced by the sights and smells of this hot black beverage. 

C's first taste of Starbucks....Strawberry/Cream Frappuccino ---He was very impressed! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Day of Dipes... (my on-again, off-again relationship with cloth diapers)



Before C was born, I promised myself that we would at least try to use cloth diapers.  I had tons of reasons for doing so-- but at the top of the list was my crunchy inability to cope with throwing so much plastic into our landfills.  I also hated the idea of poopy diapers lingering around in our house (I don't know of any "diaper geenie" that actually wisks the dirty diapers out of your house) and thought maybe we could save some $$ by using cloth as well.

Now 18 months later, we've used both disposables and cloth and there are definite pros and cons to both.  Surprisingly, flushing the poop from the cloth is really not an issue at all.  (And for any exclusively nursing mamas out there, it's EASIER than disposables as you don't even flush them--just drop the poopy ones right in the washer.  Crazy easy.)

We use cloth about 50% of the time.  C uses sposies at daycare, and I try to keep him in cloth at home.  (Sometimes I still like him to nap in sposies as he tends to wake up when he wets his cloth dipe)  Depending on the type of cloth, I take them on short outings (like heading into CF for the morning or for dinner) but have learned that disposables are much easier to use when traveling  (simply take up less space if nothing else).  However, since my mom doesn't mind using cloth, we usually bring cloth to Spencer.

I've used a TON of different brands--and they have tended to serve us well for different stages.  C's chunky body makes finding a good fit difficult but we've finally found some that we like.  He is also a VERY heavy wetter, so finding something that is absorbent enough has been a challenge too.  Right now, we have a stock of GroVia AI2's (all in two's), and a bunch of gdiapers (with AWESOME cloth inserts) that we love.  And there is nothing cuter than those trim little gdiapers.

(you can be the judge of the cuteness--would have liked to take the pic on the table each time, but this guy is just too wiggly now to hang out that long in one place!)

Tots Bots Easy Fit
GroVia AI2 (Seaside Stripes)

Size Med gDiaper  (oh my gosh, these are sooo cute!!)

And if you're on the fence or think some of us CD moms are totally nuts, here are some of my personal pros and cons to the whole CD issue:

Among the things I love about cloth:
* They are stinking CUTE-- oh my gosh, C runs around in a diaper without pants just because I love his fluffy cloth butt.  Nothing cuter.  Period.

* They always are on hand.  We never run out!

* There is never poop sitting around in a garbage (or "diaper geenie") in our house.

* You can never "waste" one-- (if he soils it right away it's no big deal--just toss it in the wash!)

* They really are easy now--most go on just like a disposable and with a diaper sprayer, taking care of poop is a cinch.

* Cloth wipes--LOVE them.  They are soft, grippy, and don't ever make things messier.  Love them.

Things I don't love about cloth.
* The red marks.  They never seem to bother C, but having elastic around your thighs & waist tends to leave marks, even if it's not tight.  Especially if you have....a'hem.... a chunky body.

* The smell.  We've come up with a routine to toss the used dipes (in a cloth diaper bag) to the laundry room until they can get laundered.  They don't smell until you put them in the wash-- and it's not the poop smell that's strong--it's the other.  But hey, it lasts about 5 seconds as they are tossed in the wash so not really a big deal.

* The addiction to buying them.  I'm always looking for more soft, cute, diapers and trying new ones.  Thus, using cloth has probably not saved us a penny--but I'll argue that they have saved a few plastics from going into the ground.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer's End...



Tonight is the last night of my summer vacation.  Tomorrow, I’ll shower early, actually dry my hair, dig something other than a t-shirt out of my closet, swipe on some mascara & lip gloss,  grab a clean outfit for C and take him over to his daycare.  I’m hoping he doesn’t cry “Mama! No!” as he realizes I’m walking out the door of Nicole’s house, but I am guessing that will be the reality.  And then I’ll get in my van and drive the 18 miles to work while listening to Van & Bonnie broadcast live from the State Fair. 

In some ways, I’m ready for tomorrow.  Honestly, there have been more than a few days where I’ve wished for the school year to be here.  Actually, it’s mostly just wishing for the routine.  In my old age, I’ve realized that I like schedules.  I like routine.  I like knowing when I will wake up and when I will go to bed and how many hours I have to accomplish (or procrastinate) on a task.  I like that my job is scheduled, yet different every day.  I’m never bored and never lack things to do.  I rarely do the same thing two days in a row—and it keeps me hopping. 

And while I have love love loved being home with C this summer, I have to admit that entertaining a toddler from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm (naptime) and then again from 3:00pm to 8:00 pm (bedtime) –that’s 11 hours of daily un-interrupted Mama/ Charlie time people!—well this can get a little…tiring/ challenging/ boring each day.

But today, I kept thinking, “This is our last summer day buddy!” and I tried to savor every minute of it.  In some small way, I think C sensed this because he was super cuddly and affectionate (even more than usual).  Aside from a tiny (and predictable) morning fit, he was such a happy camper today—making it that much harder for tomorrow to come. 

And looking back on our summer, I’m really happy with how it went.  Of course I would have loved to have more time to sleep in, play in my yard, swim laps outside, or get my road bike out on the highway but I’m realizing that those things might just be on hold for a few years.  Instead, I spent my summer:
  • Waking up early
  • Peeling Cheerios off the floor
  • Packing snacks into Tupperware
  • Wiping dirty faces
  • Going on walks
  • Playing in the sink
  • Coloring
  • Swimming with an inflatable turtle
  • Changing (lots of) diapers
  • Cutting grapes in half.  And then in half again b/c I’m paranoid of choking.
  • Playing pee-a-boo
  • Reading board books
  • Trying to find decent lunch options
  • Telling the dog “no no” (and subsequently teaching C that this is the only thing we say to dogs)
  • Giving “horsey rides”
  • Playing at parks
  • Giving baths
  • Visiting the library
  • Listening to bandstand music
  • Going to playdates
  • Visiting out-of-town friends
  • Going to the zoo

I did not get our basement organized, or finish a bunch of knitting projects, or draw illustrations for a children’s book, or read tons of professional literature.   I didn’t get back in shape or resume my love of yoga.  Instead, I hung out with a toddler (and a big, annoying, sweet, slobbery dog) And while the list of things I did could actually go on for pages of “mundane” and “non-productive” things, I have a really satisfied feeling.  I am grateful that I had these moments to spend with C.  I feel lucky to have been given all summer with him—and even though he won’t remember the way we spent our days, I’m pretty sure they are memories that I’ll never forget.  And just when I get a little misty eyed about going back to work, I nudge myself into remembering that I have the best of both worlds.  After a morning of work tomorrow, I get to scoop up C from daycare at 12:30 and love him up until bedtime.  Now I can live with that. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Some Beach....

I'm not sure what it is about our Grundy Center Aquatic Center but it seems to bring out the "beach" or maybe "bee-otch" in me.  I take that back.  I totally know what it is about the pool that brings this out.  It's unsupervised children.  

The other day, it dawned on me.  I am "that" mom.  You know the kind.  The ones you see scolding someone else's kid, or telling another kid to wait in line, or deliberately taking time so that the antsy kid behind them has to (gasp!) wait for a second.  I'm not sure if this is due in part to being a teacher, or being an ex-lifeguard, or being a mom.  Or maybe it's just a little bit of all of these that makes me feel entitled to disciplining someone else's cherubs.  That added to the fact that, if you are not going to watch your kids, then I am.  Dammit. 

Example #1:  Future Firefighters
Our pool has a fabulous splash area (perfect for toddlers).  Water splashes out of the ground and the kids love running through it.  This area is mostly for younger kids, but every once in awhile some super cool older elementary kids find themselves there.  The big draw for them are these "fire fighter" nozzles that spray water all over.  Apparently it's awesome to turn the things on full-throttle and soak your brother or little sister with them.  Anyway, I was helping Charlie slide down this (super awkward) turtle slide when I saw two girls head over to the hoses.  I trotted over to them and (in my best teacher voice) told them I needed their help to keep the water away from the babies (there were several toddlers playing there at the time).  They nodded and went back to spraying each other. 

No sooner had I gotten Charlie situated on that damn turtle slide when a giant gush of water sprayed right across his face.  Of course, he started screaming as I'm struggling to not kill myself as I stumble down the slippery turtle steps.  The little girl (with zero common sense) hadn't even noticed the commotion she was causing and continued to keep the spray directly on us. 

I marched over to the two girls and asked them what they were thinking.  Here I had trusted them to help me out and they didn't even listen! A poor baby could get very scared, not to mention hurt by that water and apparently they didn't even care.  (I knew I had their attention when lips began to tremble)  I asked them if they knew any babies and if the thought those babies would want water splashed in their face.  I asked them a few more guilt-ridden questions before they headed back to the pool with their friends.  Did I make them sad? Yes--the one cried.  But did I inhibit them from bothering the little ones for the rest of the time?  Yep.  Mission Accomplished. 

Example #2: Circus Monkey
This example also takes place on that stupid turtle slide.  (Charlie really loves it, but the main problem is that the "designers" of the slide weren't parents.  The thing is super wide--making it impossible to hold onto your child from the side.  The steps are slick plastic, so while it's intended for toddlers, those just mastering the walking thing seem to have trouble.  That's all.)

C and I were starting to head down as this little boy was climbing up.  I glanced around and didn't see a mother watching him.  (Shocking) So, I told him that he needs to go around to the stairs.  He looked at me like I was an alien and kept trying to climb the slide.  Eventually, he slipped and slid down the slide so C & I had an opportunity to go down.  But just as C was "landing" the kid comes flying down the slide and slammed into him!  Oooh, mama bear was pissed. 

"Hey! GET over here!" I called to the little boy.  He was both young enough and dumb enough to listen. I asked him to look at me and told him that C was crying because someone (you) just ran into him.  I also said something about accidents happening, waiting your turn, being patient, and looking out for little kids.  Then I said, "Where is your mom & dad?" (It was family swim time) He replied, "I don't have a dad".   (I thought to myself, "oh shit Karah.") I asked him where his mom was and he pointed her out to me.  ("shocking" was my first thought when I realized to whom he was pointing)  I told him he needed to go tell her that she is supposed to be watching him, not talking on her phone or he is going to get reported to the lifeguards.  (I thought that sounded very "law-enforcement" ish for a little kid)  He went right over to her, but I doubt that he told her everything.  If nothing else, he quit screwing around on the slide and C & I enjoyed our remaining pool time. 

Conclusion:
I have a deep bitchy vein that runs through my body.  I like to think of myself as a pleasant person, but I'm willing to voice my concerns as well.  And while some mamas out there might be offended when someone else disciplines their child, my response is this:  You are right.  YOU should be the ones watching them, teaching them, and telling them no.  It is NOT my place to do so.  However, if you are not going to do these things, then I am. Period. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Here's to Wonder Woman!

Wonder Woman does not wear a cape.  She wears glasses, khaki shorts, knit t-shirts, and flip flops.  She straight-irons her hair and brushes on a little makeup.  She greets the day with a smile and mentally prepares for her highs and lows.  She doesn’t fight aliens or super heroes, she doesn’t conspire against villins or kick-box people to the ground.  She can’t fly but she can move super quick.  I know because I was there.  I just spent two days with this woman. 

Yesterday I returned from St. Louis where C & I were visiting a college friend of mine.  We had planned this trip months ago—just after her third baby was born.  Since I have my summer off, we decided a mid-week get-together would be perfect, and it was. 

I was very….apprehensive about the 5 1/2 hour drive with a 17 month old, however, he was a perfect traveler and I couldn’t have been more impressed with him.  We arrived at on Tuesday afternoon and met my friend’s adorable 6 month old baby, and her super sweet daughters (ages 3 and 5).  We spent that day playing, snacking, coloring, and navigating the stairs (definitely one of C’s favorite things to do when he finds himself in two-story homes).  We went for walks, played at a park, played outside, built sand castles, played hide and seek, read books, painted pictures, and ate numerous snacks.  In the middle of this, my friend & I would try to have some conversations—undoubtedly always interrupted by her daughters or my C.  

The interruptions came in the form of quiet requests (Mom, can you…..?), silent demands (C tugging on my leg and whining), howls (someone banged their head into the steps), yells (“She took my….!!”), protests (“I don’t want to…..”), and cries (a baby who had rolled into a “stuck” position).  We would respond to the issue and then continue with our talk—simultaneously happening while creating some kind of art masterpiece or constructing some type of block structure. 

It was really a fun time and all the kids loved playing with each other (for the most part).  But what I was most impressed with was my friend’s ability to glide through the chaos and still remain calm and light hearted.  She was amazing to watch—I’ve never really be in the life of a “stay at home mom of three” so it was incredible to be a part of.  I couldn’t help but be amazed at her ability to balance her attention with each child, work through their squabbles, and sit down to play with them--all while providing snack & meals, keeping her kitchen and their faces clean, and setting up/ tearing down the giant blow-up water slide in the backyard.  Not to mention she was nursing the little guy all the time too! She never came unglued when someone had a meltdown (whether it was her offspring or mine), or appeared the least bit frazzled.  She would shrug and go about the next item of business. 

Now, while I was overwhelmed by her “mom-ness”, her ability to do this certainly comes as no surprise to those who know her.  Afterall, this is the same college girl who cooked real homemade meals, made birthday cakes,  cleaned the bathroom, changed her bed sheets and the oil in her car regularly, drove the intoxicated roommates home, and created Halloween costumes.  She’s always been one to take care of others—to help people out, and she is awesome at it.  But the really cool thing about this person is that she thinks it’s no big deal.  She doesn’t think she’s “Mom of the Year” and she confesses to having moments of desire to be alone in her house without her children.  She admits fully to getting frustrated with the kids, and sometimes wishes that she could head off to work for a few hours each day.  But, she knows this is where she is supposed to be at this moment in her life—and she embraces that.  She keeps a level head and a sense of humor, especially when responding to shouts of “You’re a Mean Mommy!” with “Yes I am!”  Her kids are certainly lucky to have her in their life, but so am I.  I feel like I can take away a few gems from her home and implement them in ours. 

And tonight, I'd like to propose a toast.  To this WONDER-ful woman in my life.  Whose house is never quiet, whose patience is always tested, whose work is never done, whose feet are always tired.  But whose paycheck comes in the form of kisses, hugs, memories, and the knowledge that she has given her children the best gift they could ever have--her time.  




 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dare I Say....

.....I'm enjoying being a mother.  (shhhhh!)

Now, I'm so hesitant to even post this blog because I'm terrified that the feeling is fleeting and I'll return to my more "normal" motherhood feelings soon.  But, I just have to explain this crazy feeling I've had for almost two entire weeks. 

When my parents brought Charlie back from his "Spencer Vacation" (only a 16 month old could find Spencer totally exciting), I was thrilled!  For the first time in his life, I missed him---really missed him, when I was away from him.  Unlike the majority of my peers, who claim to be heartbroken every time they are separated from their cherubs,  I usually am...well... fine with my alone time.  (and secretly love it)  But this last time was so different. 

Mason and I were at the cottage in Wisconsin and while we had a nice time up there, my heart was aching for C.  When I called my parents, I could hear him chattering away in the background.  They messaged me pics of his daily adventures and texted little things that he said.  During that week, he gained enough confidence to start walking alone (we'd been working on that since the middle of April!) and picked up a few more words.  After six nights away from him, it felt like he grew up and I had somehow missed out. 

And then it clicked.  Some mommy-thing inside me just seemed to snap into place.  Maybe it's because he is super attached to me lately (this can be super annoying but I'm trying to embrace the fact that he wants me and that I'm his first choice out of every other person in the entire world) but there's something that is directly connected to my heart when his little voice says, "ma-ma'.  And it seems to have a direct link to my patience and tolerance. 

Now, unfortunately, it has taken me 16 months to be more patient and understanding with my child (and granted, this might only be a phase), but at least it happened.  Every day C seems to be doing more, exploring more, learning more, speaking more.  He is changing right before my eyes.  And, like so many people told me (but I refused to believe), things are getting easier as he gets older.  His little personality is starting to shine through.  Like all of us, he has gems of his personality (his giggle, his cuddly nature, his love for animals, the way he'll curl up in his chair and read books) and duds too (he hates to be woken up too quickly, and he has an incredibly stubborn streak).  But honestly, as I get to know him more--and understand him more--it's becoming easier to cope with the daily grind. 

This past week, he had a tooth breaking through.  He was incredibly whiny, sad, clingy, and stubborn.  He didn't eat much, insisted on being carried, didn't enjoy playing.  A few months ago, I think I would have left him in his room to sort out his feelings alone, but now, I realized that something was amiss.  This wasn't our normal-happy little guy, & I assumed it was a tooth.  And now, after having been through this routine a time or two, I could tell myself that it wouldn't last forever.  A little extra TLC and cuddle time somehow got us through the week. 

Today, C's been in a super mood--of course, I'm scared to publish that for fear that it might somehow jinx this afternoon's mood--but I'm doing better at taking it all a day at a time, and soaking up the good times--that are greatly outweighing the bad these days.