January 27, 2011

I'll Watch Yours, if You Watch Mine

Babysitting swap is the best idea ever! Today my next door neighbor dropped off her extremely adorable four-month-old son and headed out to a dental appointment. Later on, she came over and watched H while I (drum roll, please) cleaned the house. (It’s ok to be jealous of how exciting my life is.) We both got important things done, and no one had to pay someone to watch kiddos.

It was also a chance for a preview of life with two. (No, I am not pregnant. But we will eventually have more children.) Originally I thought that I’d have H down for her nap before they came over. And Rachel thought that C would be down as well. How easy could that be?

H was not yet down for her nap. C was way too interested in H to take a nap. We tried a little baby in his bouncer while I nurse H to sleep action. Too boring for C. Back downstairs we trudged, and I wrapped C so he could be out of toddler range but stay in sight of the excitement. Secretly I was hoping it would put him out. When H was that age, wraps were the easiest way to put her to sleep. After many struggles against sleep (H was sooo interesting!), he finally went down. Then I had the dilemma: A) do you take the sleeping baby upstairs to put him down and leave the toddler downstairs where she will probably cry? B) Or do you try to take her upstairs while trying to keep baby asleep and hope that she doesn’t climb into the bouncer and then cry when you try to get her out while trying to put the baby down? I went with A.

H did indeed cry, but not too much. C stayed asleep. Then it was scoop up toddler and get her down for a nap. Exhausting!

At the same time, it was so great to see H with the little one. She clearly wanted to help and was so curious about him. We are learning that while babies do have eyes and ears, it’s better not to poke them when announcing their body parts. Also, fingers should only bend one way. Don’t worry, no one got hurt.

I was afraid that H would be jealous of me playing with or holding C instead of her. Overall, she was pretty ok with it. What was hard was when she did want to be picked up. I couldn’t carry both of them up the stairs at the same time, and I only had one hand to help H going down the stairs. The logistics of two will definitely be interesting. I keep reminding myself that H will be even bigger whenever we have number two and she’ll probably be a lot more independent. I can’t really picture it.

Thankfully, the experience did not scare me off of having more. H is going to be a really great big sister and a very good helper for Mommy. She’s already practicing with Bear and Monkey. They get carried and shushed, and she gives them drinks from her cup and takes them to sit on the potty. A babysitter in the making.

Practicing her skills with Monkey. His feet were cold, so he needed socks.

Lastly, what shocked me was how small a four-month-old is. I’d heard parents say so many times that you forget how small babies are, but I just had one (20 months ago). Picking up C, and wrapping him, really drove home his tininess. I threw the wrap around, felt for his legs and only got my own hip. His legs were so short, and once he was in the carrier there was no bulk to him at all. I didn’t have any trouble reaching in front of me to wash my hands or help H. It doesn’t seem so long ago that H was that age. She’s very small for her age, but she’s huge in comparison to C.

All I can say is what every mother throughout time has said, “How do they get so big?”

January 25, 2011

It Bugs Me Every Time

Today on the way home from running errands I heard “Name” by the Goo Goo Dolls on the radio. This is probably the 6,349th time I’ve heard it. I went through a period in college where I was a pretty big fan. Every single time I hear this song, however, there is one lyric that drives me mad! (For anyone who needs a refresher, enjoy the music video.)

At one point the adorable Johnny Rzeznik sings:

Scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there?
Did you get to be a star?
And don’t it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are

See? Adorable.

I’ve been told that the song is about a college boy trying to get a college girl to spend the night with him. He promises not to tell anyone if she does. For my purposes, however, it doesn’t really matter.

Every time I listen to this song and he sings, “And don’t it make you sad to know that life/ Is more than who we are,” I answer, “No!” Thank God that life is so much more than just ourselves. What sort of petty world would it be when our own wants and needs were enough to make a life? The whole thought seems so self-centered.

There is a whole lot more to life than who we are. There’s love, joy, and family, not to mention war, strife, and poverty. Beyond material things, there’s God (or whatever higher power you hold dear). There’s hope, grace, and kindness.

I say take heart in the fact that our lives are just tiny pixels in the big picture of life. Think of it as one of those photo collages where lots of tiny photos make up one bigger image. We are each a tiny photo. None of us can see the bigger image, but we know it’s there. And that is why I am not sad to know that life is more than who I am.

January 23, 2011


We have just returned from our first weekend sojourn to the land of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (or Mc-Dix-Hurst)—final resting place of the Hidenburg. While this is clearly a place of history in the chronicles of aviation, it does not change the fact that the base is in the middle of nowhere. There are empty fields on all sides. It claims to be in the town of Wrightstown, NJ. Let me tell you, Wrightstown could probably fit inside the confines of the base with room to spare, so it might be more accurate to say that the town is next to the base.

I have heard pretty much nothing but bad things about this base for the almost eight years we’ve been in the Air Force. Mostly these bad things have directly related to location, i.e., New Jersey and the sprawling non-tropolis of Wrightstown. Having now seen it with my own eyes, the rumors appear to be greatly exaggerated.

Within 30 to 45 minutes of the base is every type of shop you could want, in addition to restaurants galore. Truth be told, the immediate area surrounding the base puts Dover (capitol of the fair state of Delaware) to shame. While some (my husband) will forever hold jug handles and the inability to pump your own gas against New Jersey, it really isn’t so bad. Far better a location then perhaps a base in Oklahoma that shall remain nameless.

What shocked me most, however, was my TLF (temporary lodging facility to those not in the know). They’re designed for families who are moving out of/in to the area, and are meant to be a cross between a furnished apartment and a hotel. I had visited a newly renovated TLF in OK and was hoping that this might be as nice. So much better!

This is when I started kicking myself for not trying to push Josh to get a TLF as if we were spending the whole time with him. We had a one bedroom model (there are two bedroom units as well). Full living room with pull out couch, full kitchen with dishwasher, kitchen table with six chairs, full size washer and dryer, flat panel TVs with DVD players, and a pack-and-play and high chair! None of which, however, would change the 60+ hours a week Josh will be working.

This was universes removed from the conditions they expect of the students in OK. After our horror this fall I was extremely skittish to commit to spending the whole time up there. Now I know; you must check out the accommodations first. Even Josh was a little regretful—more so while I was doing his laundry as though I were his mom and he were in college. I even brought him up leftovers to stow in his microfridge. It was great to spend a few very ordinary days together as a family. It’s good for everyone, and I’m very thankful that we are close enough to be able to do it.

Just when I was thinking that things were going right, however, the Air Force stepped in and set my world right. My reservation was apparently a fluke. All of lodging is booked solid for the next month. Sigh.

January 18, 2011

A Joy Every Day

I seem to have been doing a lot of griping about motherhood of late. For a change of pace, I think I’ll gush over my amazing and beautiful daughter for a while. Pull up a chair.

We just got H’s big, first year photo album printed on Shutterfly. The thing is massive because I couldn’t miss an instant. At the end there’s a family portrait of us at her first birthday. I included a note about how much of a joy she is and how much we love her. Josh read this note over the weekend, cocked an eyebrow at me, and asked, “A joy every day?” Wise ass. But yes, every day. There has never been a day in her life when I didn’t scoop the child up, smother her face in kisses, and tell her that I am the luckiest mommy in the world.

There are also many many days that I just wish she’d nap longer so I could savor the sweet quiet. This is normal.

The pressures of single parenting (intermittently) can make it hard to savor those “I love my kid so much I’m about to explode” moments. But you have to try because those are the moments that remind you why you signed up for this insanity.

H just learned to give kisses. Before she would occasionally stick her open, drooling mouth somewhere on your face and that was her “kiss.” Just the open mouth, no pucker. Cute, but gross. A month or so ago, she took Bear (her favorite stuffed animal) and laid him on the floor in the middle of a burp cloth and leaned over him. I snuck around to see what she was doing. She was kissing his nose—much like I kiss her when I’m changing her diaper. I had to literally stick my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing/crying at how friggin’ adorable it was.

Ever since then I’ve been trying to get my own kisses. Bear is nice and all, but Mom is better! It’s taken weeks, and of course Daddy got kisses before Mommy, but every now and again I get a kiss. No matter how crap your day is, a kiss from your daughter makes it better.

This phenomenon is not unique to me or my family. It’s universal. The problem comes when it’s the end of your day and you’re exhausted. You think about what you did and did not accomplish and the battles you fought over food, TV, toys, you name it, and it’s too easy to focus purely on the negatives—on all the times you had to say no.

I task myself, and I invite all of you, to try to end each day with remembering something wonderful my child did. It might be kisses or a new word or giggles as we chase each other around the house. Whatever that good thing is, that will be my best accomplishment. My daughter will grow up happier, healthier, and more loved because of that thing. Our lives together and our memories of this time will be brighter.

So tell me, what wonderful thing did your child do today?

January 11, 2011

There’s Super Mom and Then There’s Super Mom

I am trying to learn that it’s ok to be a little overwhelmed as a mother. I have such a great mother. She stayed home with us until we went to pre-school. This was old-school four-year-old pre-school. And I loved it. I grew up wanting to be at home with my kids. Now that I have a 19-month-old terrorizing me, I sometimes question this whole “at home with mom all the time” thing.

It’s hard for me to compare my situation with my mother. And in truth, when we’ve spoken about it recently, things were not so 50s sitcom perfect as I understood them to be as a child. But part of the reality of being an Air Force family is single parenting. I have a wonderful, loving husband who is a good, attentive father. He’s just not always in the state/country.

Life as a stay-at-home mom is entirely doable when your husband lives in the same house as you. We are extra lucky because Josh often comes home for lunch, providing us an extra break. The ability to make dinner without screaming or wearing a baby is huge. Getting to sit quietly while Daddy and baby have bath time is re-energizing. Then you have the weekends where there is the actual possibility of sleeping in one day.

None of that happens when your husband does not live in the same house.

I’ve come to know that I’m good for about two weeks before the constant mothering starts to tear significantly at my patience. This makes me feel like a bad mother. Somehow I think that I should be able to take all the moods, fussiness, boredom, and destruction every day, all day. No one can.

I don’t know why, but I have this idea of mom equaling super hero. Of course, as a mom you are a super hero to your kids. You sing songs, fix boo boos, play games, and rock to sleep like none other. You are number one when it comes to hugs and kisses. But that doesn’t mean that you have to like doing all of it all of the time.

We have a challenging time right now in our family. Josh is going to be gone pretty much for six months. There are going to be a lot of times when I just want to lock myself in my room and cry. But, damn it, I don’t have to do it all! I’m giving myself permission right now to stop trying to do it all.

I am going to do everything I can to find a caregiver once a week for a few hours. A break is so revitalizing for me. The three hours at night that are filled with dirty diapers, dirty dishes, and frantic laundry do not cut it. And wanting a short break from my beautiful, wonderful daughter doesn't make me a bad mom. The thought of spending uninterrupted time with a latte and a book in a coffee shop sends shivers down my spine.

I remember in Date Night when Tina Fey fantasizes about “a quiet room, where I can eat my lunch with no one touching me. And drink a Diet Sprite.” You get me, Tina Fey. You get me.

January 6, 2011

Boobs Are Good

Facebook apparently feels that breasts in any form are obscene. This is unfortunate because it has caused them to remove, reinstate, remove, and reinstate again a fan page called The Leaky B@@b. It’s a blog all about breastfeeding. Yes, they talk about breasts. Yes, there are pictures of women breastfeeding their babies. No, none of it is obscene.

I find it rather shocking that this is even an issue in what are supposed to be informed times. But clearly, it is an issue. So, in a show of solidarity for breastfeeding advocates in general, I’d like to draw a little attention to the situation. Feel free to post on Facebook that you’d really like to be able to have a resource to get help and information on breastfeeding. They need to know that this is a big deal to a lot of people.

The bigger issue, of course, is not any one site. I’ve not used The Leaky B@@b much myself. It’s the fact that breastfeeding and breast health are being confused with pornographic representations of breasts. It seems clear that this is a matter of software being coded to flag boobies, any boobies. Facebook needs to update their software to make it a little more discriminating, or at least allow page owners to flag their pages as being health-related perhaps.

In the meantime, I hope that Facebook realizes the error of their ways. If you’d like to read about the issue from the source, visit The Leaky B@@b and check out their press release. As of this moment you can also check out The Leaky B@@b’s Facebook page, but you might want to hurry before they remove it again.

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