Friday, February 28, 2014

Moving FOURward

Four.  Wow.  Four?  Really?  Four.  Already?  Four.  Only?

Today Charlie turned four years old.  And like every birthday post I've written, thinking back about the last few years leaves me in some sort of wrinkle-in-time/ head shaking/ confused state.  In some ways, I can't believe I have a four year old.  And in other ways, I cannot believe that Charlie has only been part of our lives for four little years.  How can that be possible?

Four sounds so much different than three.  As Charlie has been on the verge of four, I've glimpsed how things are changing with him.  Four is not Three.  Four means thinking more independently and taking more risks.  Four means gaining confidence and mastering physical tasks (like pretending to snowboard from the couch to the ottoman to the floor, and sliding like hockey players across the slick hardwood floors).  Four means mastering independently writing his name and taking the first steps toward actually reading.  Four means watching a little personality blossom and hearing uniquw and original thoughts on his lips.  Thoughts that were not repeated phrases he heard from his parentes, but real original Charlie thoughts.  (And just for the record, these thoughts are often profound, sometimes hysterical, and occasionally probably should be cause for concern)  Four means saying goodbye to the phrase "I have a toddler" and practicing the words, "I have a little boy".

I LOVE having a little boy.  I thought I loved having a "1"-year old.... only to have the "2"-year old phase blow me away with enjoyment.  And then "3" came around. And while "3" was challenging in ways that "2" wasn't, it was also gratifying.  In my experience, children are like wine-- they seem to get better with age.  (Don't worry, I work with school aged kids and I have served some time in a middle school so I know this will come to a screeching halt at some point.)  So while I will always have a soft spot for the little baby that came into our lives four years ago, I'm so glad he didn't stay a baby and has turned into an amazing little boy. 

This is a bit of Charlie during age three:
* was very independent

* would cry for a looooong time if doesn't get what he wants.

* learned that crying doesn't lead to what you want-- tantrums lessoned a LOT

* didn't understand that wanting something doesn't make it appear.  For example, he wants tape when we're out of tape.  I mention, "we're out"-- so he cries with the hope of it appearing.  So I do this rain-dance type thing and ask for the tape gods to drop tape out of the ceiling and he looks all hopeful but then cries when nothing happens.  Same with cereal.  Same with Applesauce.  We've had this dance many times and you'd think he'd learn.

* DID learn that wanting something doesn't make it appear!

* Plays well independently, but also sometimes needs interaction.

* Is still attached to Mama-- which can be slightly annoying when we play with new friends, or ones we haven't seen for awhile.  It takes a good 30-60 minutes for him to 'warm up' to everyone.

* Still has some separation anxiety--  After missing 10 days of daycare over Christmas break, he cried for over a month every-single-morning at daycare drop off.  It was heart breaking and maddening and annoying for both of us.

* Is super imaginative. Will play with craft puff balls forever.  Personifies everything-- like cars, little people, trucks, the farm animals.

* Is really into making "ah-ventions" out of Tinker Toys.  And they are pretty innovative if I do say so myself.

* Loves "guys".  Action heros, football guys, Smurfs from the McDonalds Happy Meals.

* Is obsessed with Minions.  Obsessed.

* Loves playing with anything having to do with rescues, dinosaurs, and super heros. Or Minions.

* Has sensitive eyes & often wears his sunnies during breakfast because "My eyes haven't dajusted yet."

* Is very strong willed-- aren't all three year olds?

* Tried a stint with being bossy-- especially to Mommy and Daddy.  This didn't end well for him and we think he's catching on.

* Loves playing rescue.  Often puts on his fire chief helmet and runs around shouting "Wee-ooo-wee-ooo... I'm on it!"

* Loves watching Diego.  Insists that he says, "Edimaday" instead of Activaday. Runs around the house with Mason's belt on rescuing people and things.

* Had some favorite tv shows, such as: "Paw Patrol" "Diego" and "Team UmiZoomie".  Then his parents downsized the Dish Network subscription and Lost Nick Jr.  So now he's into public tv shows like Wild Kratz, Curious George, and Word Girl.  And he watches the occasional Antiques Roadshow which happens to be one of his father's favorites.

* Has said goodbye to afternoon napping, except for on the rarest of occasions.

Phrases and Charlie-isms:

Recent Charlisms:
* Uses the word "Totally" and "Definitely" a lot.  As in, "Does Ama play the violin as well as that man on TV?"  "Definitely.....Not."

* Says, "I'm on it!" when playing rescue or anything involving his attention.

While eating spinach salad at dinner:  "I never knew humans eat leaves! I thought only caterpillars ate leaves!"

Watching Despicable Me 2, a minion is in a coconut bra on the beach with a cocktail in his hand.  "There's you, Grandma Carol!"

* Has a heart of gold, and could quite possibly be the most tender-hearted little boy I've ever met.

After having a day of tantrums and being tired, I was tucking him into bed.  He scooped my face into his hands and looked me straight in the eyes.  He said, "Mommy?  Even when I'm sad and crying all day and being mad, I still love you in my heart.  My heart loves you all of the times."

Painting his dump truck craft together: "Mommy, yours looks really pretty!"
"Thanks, Charlie!  Do you know what that's called?  When you say something nice to someone else?"
"It's called a compliment.  So you just gave me a compliment."
"Yeah.  And some people just call that love."

This morning we enjoyed sprinkle cake donuts and will feast on noodles for supper. Tomorrow we will celebrate with family, friends, and minion decorations.  Sunday we're headed to Cedar Falls to catch flying pancakes at the Maple Syrup Festival.  I think I already have perma-grin.  All is well.

Cheers to my little boy.
Love, Mama

Couldn't resist adding this one.  Introducing my babies to each other, four years ago.
We had lots of snow in 2010, but didn't experience the "Polar Vortex" like 2014, which meant plenty of walks-- the first at the tender age of five days old.  

Does anyone else think he looks exactly the same?  And I love that this is still his favorite sleeping position.  

Monday, February 24, 2014

Reading and Risk Taking

Last weekend, I drove to Madison, WI to audition for a spot in the Madison production of "Listen to Your Mother".  This is a national show, hosted in 32 cities around the US that "gives motherhood a microphone".  I'm not exactly sure how I even stumbled across the show, but I've been aware of it for quite some time.

Thirty women were given audition times and I was one of them.  I needed to read an original piece that had anything to do with motherhood.  The author/reader didn't need to be a mother, have a mother, write about their mother, etc.... the only rule was that motherhood had to be the star of the piece.  Oh, and the piece couldn't be longer than five minutes.  (ouch!)

In the past month or so, I've been doing a lot of reading and re-reading and writing about our miscarriages and sort of coming 'full circle' in my recovery process.  As I've mentioned on this blog, I really feel that the topic of miscarriage is so seldom talked about and discussed, that it almost carries a shameful or embarrassing burdon with it.  And, since it is so common (about 1 in 4 women will have at least one miscarriage in their lifetime), it almost seems trivial, or like it's an almost extraneous part of motherhood.  Many women only discuss their pregnancy losses long after the fact, after much healing and recovering has taken place.  When they speak of them, their emotions aren't as raw and their thoughts aren't as jumbled as they may have been at the time of the loss.  Those hearing the stories without the raw emotion behind it may just view miscarriage as something that happens to many people.  Something that is common, and nothing to be worried about.  Because of this, I wish that this topic was discussed more.  I wish women had the courage to speak of their losses and share their experiences with others.  And I wish that those listening would gain more of an understanding about the process, about the emotions that go along with such a loss, about the transformation that comes after such a thing.

Unfortunately, I think most people are uncomfortable hearing such stories-- especially when they haven't been through it themselves.  Pregnancy loss is really impossible to understand and though many people try, it's also really impossible to relate to unless you've been in that situation.  However, unless women keep sharing their stories about loss and healing and recovery, I don't anticipate this changing in the future.

For this reason, I wrote a piece to read at the "Listen to Your Mother" audition.  It was basically a combination of several blog posts with a few new paragraphs.  It was so difficult to condense down into a five minute version, but I managed to do it.  I felt very strong about the finished product and went to the audition full of confidence and great expectations.

But as I entered the audition room, and stood across a table of four women and read my piece-- something that was so personal and so close to my heart and so emotional-- my confidence wavered a bit.  And I don't know about you, but I would much rather read from the podium on a stage in front of 200 people than read in private room in front of four eager faces.  My voice cracked and I worried that I was rushing.  Would it be over five minutes?  Would they enjoy it? Was it too depressing?  Is "motherhood the star"?   Somehow, I made it through the whole piece and the panel of women collectively exhaled as I wrapped up my reading.

As I left, they thanked me for coming and wished me safe travels back to Iowa.  I left feeling more nervous than I had been when I arrived-- what did they think?  Was it too much?  Was it not enough? Did I say what needed to be said? Maybe I should have read something funny-- I think I can be funny.... maybe?

Ultimately, I did not get chosen for the show.  Twelve women are chosen and as the panel informed me, the casting really depends on what submissions they receive as a whole and how the pieces fit together to form a show.  While I knew being chosen was a long shot, I still felt that pang of rejection when I read the "Thanks for auditioning!" email that came a week later.

Part of this hurt comes from knowing how personal that piece is to me-- how important I feel it is to share the story.  The other hurt comes from plain ol' rejection.  It's easy to turn on the negative internal dialogue: "Why did I even do that?" "I should never have even auditioned" "How embarrassing that I even read my story".  Even writing this post is difficult for me-- why do I want to admit that I tried something that didn't even come to fruition?  Shouldn't I keep this a secret?  But after giving this some thought, I realize that I'm glad I took the risk and went ahead an auditioned.  When I think about things I'd like to do or accomplish in my life, I think I often hold back because it means I won't have to be rejected.  I'm great at risk taking when the odds are in my favor-- but how risky is that?  I'm great at sharing my thoughts or ideas in the presence of like-minded individuals, but often stay quiet in arenas of differing views.

Not only did this audition twist my arm to really think about my miscarriages and form a well-thought, concise piece of writing, but it made me step out of my comfort zone.  I risked putting myself in front of others and not getting chosen.  And now, standing on the other side of that fence, I realize that perhaps I needed this.  I put myself out there, I didn't accomplish what I sought, but I'm still standing.... and feel even more empowered to try again.  

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

He Speaks my Language

More and more, I'm noticing that Charlie and I seem to be connected in the deepest and most unexplainable way.  Except that, it's not really unexplainable because I'm guessing many mothers feel deeply connected to their children at some moment.  But lately, I'm feeling like Charlie and I have been perfectly matched as mother and son.

Our match isn't perfect because we get along perfectly, in fact, it's sometimes the opposite.  I find myself widening my eyes, holding my breath, and telling myself that someday I'll be sad when he goes to college.  But we interact well and get along great more days than not, which makes me feel like I'm finally doing something right when it comes to this parenting gig.  And while C's personality can be maddening sometimes, it seems to make sense to me.

I understand his dislike of being talked to and tickled and touched right away in the morning.  I understand being so frustrated with life that you just hunker down with a pile of books until you're calm again.  I understand only wanting to eat cookies and brownies and sugary cereal.  I understand wanting to stay in the bathtub for "only a few more minutes".

But the other day, when this conversation took place on our drive home, I truly felt like we were soul mates.  Finally, someone in my household feels the way I do.

C:  Mommy?
Me:  Yeah Buddy?
C:  When is it EVER going to be summer again?
Me:  Oh honey, let's not even go there.
C:  But when am I EVER going to be able to play on my playset? And go to the park?  And play outside?
Me:  Sweetie, if there was one thing I could give you in this world, it would be summer all year long.  And we would go to the park every day.  Just like we do when it actually is summer.
C:  I don't like the snow.
Me:  Tell me about it.
C:  It's just too cold for me.
Me:  I hear ya.
C:  It's so cold and snowy and hard to get warm.
Me:  (Wheels spinning in my brain.... would my loving husband maybe be willing to move somewhere warm if Charlie brings it up?....)
C:  Probably I just need some hot chocolate when we get home.  Right away.  Then I'll be okay.

Ah, he hates snow and he thinks chocolate will solve his problems.  This kid and I truly are connected at the deepest level.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Meal Planning 101

We've been planning meals in Spahnville forever.  I honestly can't remember when we started or how I operated before doing such a thing.  And now, it's just part of our weekly routine.  And since an overwhelming majority of my blog readers (three of the five people who read this blog) have requested some ideas, here's the last two weeks' Spahnville menus for ya.

Week 1:  Summer Theme (In a futile attempt to deny that winter is still happening)

Sunday: Hamburger lettuce wraps, black beans, spinach salad with strawberries with Poppy Seed Dressing  (Combine and whisk the following together, then pour over salad:  1/2 c mayo, 1/4 c sugar, 2 Tbs white vinegar, 1/4 c milk, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp poppy seeds)
Monday: Seared Grilled chicken breast, caprese salad, fruit (oranges, apples, raspberries)

Tuesday:  Salmon & poached egg spinach salad

Wednesday: Out

Thursday: BLT's (Mason does a BLT lettuce wrap, I use Udi's bread), "No-potato" salad (I don't use as many eggs or it tastes too much like egg salad to me.  And I like to add avocados.)

Friday: Crockpot Lasagna (GF noodles), spinach salad
(Making lasagna is the crockpot is super easy.  Don't pre-cook the noodles, just layer all your ingredients like you normally would, but place in the crockpot and cook for about 3-4 hours.  Sometimes I wait and add the cheese on top the last hour or it gets over done.  Also, you'll need your meat/red sauce layer to be a little runnier than normal as it tends to dry out a little more than in the oven.)

Saturday: Spaghetti Squash Casserole, fruit

Week 2:

Tacos, refried beans, apple slices

Mediterranean Chicken, Spinach salad

Chili (with corn bread muffins)

Leftover Chili  or chili dogs or pigs in a blanket (Charlie)

GF pancakes (we use this gluten free flour because it substitutes cup to cup, which makes things super easy), eggs, sausage links



Now, copy these down and then share your meals with me!