Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Kids

I remember how weird it felt the first time I referred to my children as "the kids." Now, I'm ALMOST used to the plural form. And I'm PRETTY used to framing the two boys in my camera lens. I've KINDA gotten used to doing twice as much laundry. But the way they interact with each other, gets me every time.

Today after church, some women came over to coo at Ryan. Jacob, being the natural chatterbox that he is, started jabbering away about his favorite toys, his favorite TV shows, his upcoming birthday party, and what he had for breakfast. One of the women said to me, "It's so sweet how Jacob rubs his brother's leg as he talks." I thought that was a perfect example as to how Jacob has naturally taken to brotherhood. His affection for Ryan is so genuine that he shows it absentmindedly.

In the mornings, I groggily and regretfully drag Ryan and myself out of bed and walk into the living room where Jacob has already claimed his spot on the couch for morning cartoons. When Jacob sees us, his eyes light up. He bounces off the couch, charges straight for us, and exclaims in a high pitched voice, "HI RYAN! YOU'RE AWAKE. YOU'RE SO CUTE!" Forget me. I'm practically mince meat.

Jacob loves to kiss Ryan with sticky, slobbery smooches. He loves to rub his head and tickle his feet, sometimes a little too enthusiatically. He also loves to narrate everything that is happening. "Hi Ryan," he says in a sing-songy voice, "Mommy's changing your diaper. Do you like that? She wiping you with a baby wipe."

Today, when I fed Ryan bananas for the first time (which he LOVED- he fussed when I took too long between spoonfulls), Jacob insisted on helping. Ryan did so well with the spoon. Even when Jacob was practically shoving it down his throat.

(Hurry up! Give me more!)

Ryan is super tolerant and doesn't seem to mind the rough affection from Jacob. In fact, Ryan is becoming increasingly more interested in his big brother. When Jacob talks to Ryan while I'm feeding him, Ryan will turn his head away from the bottle in search of his big brother. He loves to sit, and from across the room, watch everything Jacob does. He barely bats an eyelash when Jacob sings too loudly in his ear, dangles a toy a hair's width in front of his face, or grabs his hands to play patty-cake.

(My big boy has been grabbing his toys for weeks)

Ryan already hates to miss out on everything his brother is doing. While Ryan will tolerate being on the floor for playtime, he prefers to be vertical so that he can see what Jacob is doing. Much of the day, we let him hang out in his walker (his feet don't touch so Jacob takes him for "rides"- Ryan has always had an incredibly strong neck) or in his Bumbo. The baby playmat doesn't get a ton of use anymore.

Ryan has definitelty started to recognize his name. I love how he breaks out into a wide grin when Jacob calls him and they catch each other's gaze.

Back to Jacob....I wish he would hurry up and turn 4 already. Whenever he tells people he is 3, they always look on in disbelief and I have to explain that he is ALMOST 4. Jacob's vocabulary is so impressive. The other day he asked me for a treat at the store. When I said "no," he replied, "Uhhh, I'm SO disappointed. That same day, he correctly used the following words: ridiculous, embarrassed, and frustrating. Whenever he hears a new word, he always asks me what it means. And he REMEMBERS. If anyone has any tips on explaining "shame" and "interesting" to an almost 4 year old, I'd love to hear them. Cause this is all I got:

Jacob: "Mommy, what does 'shame' mean?"
Me: "Shame is when you see someone leaving a dorm room early in the morning wearing the same clothes as the night before."

Jacob:  "Mommy, what does interesting mean?"
Me: "Interesting is what happens when Mommy takes a Vicodin with her Big Girl drink."

Today, we were in the car running errands and I was listening to news radio. Jacob was listening too, as he usually does, and asking me questions about everything he heard. "Mommy, what does 'dim' mean? Mommy, did an asteroid kill the dinosaurs, just like that guy on the radio said? Mommy, the guy said asteroids hit the earth everyday and they just burn up before they hurt people." Then we had an intelligent conversation about asteroids and planets and the dinosaurs. My mind was blown.

(My Spiderman)

Today, Jacob was really frustrating. He had so much little-boy energy to burn off and I had no energy to take him to the park. We were butting heads all day. He kept repeating all the words I said. He was doing the opposite of what I told him to do. He was hanging on me and getting underfoot and making messes everywhere he went. It wasn't until the end of the day, after I put Ryan down for bed and we sat together playing games, that it hit me. In his own little way, he was just begging for some attention, some friendship. His little devil-self instantly transformed into an angel the second I sat down to give him one-on-one time.  I immediately felt bad for all the times I told him or showed him that he was in the way.

Sometimes it's hard to remember that our kids are people, just like us. They need the same things we need: love, attention, interaction, socialization. They just don't always know how to ask for it. When I feel like I'm having a "rough" day with Jacob, I need to take a breather and focus on changing myself. Usually, he's just reacting to my attitude and lack of attention.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Who Needs A Roomba?

Who needs a Roomba when a baby is much cuter? And doesn't even take batteries!

(I call it the BROOMBA)
His feet don't quite reach yet.

So he needs a little help from big brother.

Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the couch, catching up on celebrity gossip.


Yesterday, I returned to the road for my first run since throwing out my back last month. When running feels so good, who needs therapy? I felt nothing short of amazing during my run:

As I run, my shadow follows behind me, cast to the ground where it passes quickly over dry grass, flowers, and road ditches. Nothing but my own body, my own muscles, my own sweat, propelling me forward. I'm aware only of the regular panting of my breath, the rhythm of my Nike Pegasus shoes hitting the pavement. Wind whips around my ears, muting all external sounds so that the pounding of my heart reverbrates loudly. My legs and lungs are burning, endorphines pulsing warmly through my body.

I'm alone with my thoughts, which wander freely, grazing on memories, future dinner menus, weekend plans, and ambitions. For 3 miles, I am just me. Not a mom, not an attorney, not a wife. Just me. I am suddenly calm, relaxed, at peace. My life is in perspective. I feel balanced. Worries roll out like a tide. In their place, the simple sensation of feeling alive and aware of every muscle in my body. That feeling, as warm as a sun-beaten tide pool. Everything is fine.

My legs keep a steady pace as they take on the incline of the bridge. I'm running, suspended high above the inlet, above city level. The smell of saltwater becons memories of carefree childhood beach days. The crisp peaks of the mountain ranges to my left and my right, a mix of inspiration and intimidation, goad me forward.

I arrive one block from my house. My spirit wants to go on, but I'm anchored by my body, tired and sore. I'm tethered home by the stitch forming at my side. Wistfully, I jaunt up the front steps. My body a little more worn down, my mind a little clearer. I pause my conversation with myself and brace for the return of life and responsibility. As I unlace my shoes, I silently vow to return to the road, and to myself, tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I return to work in exactly one week.

I can't explain why I feel this way, but the thought of next Wednesday brings me feelings of panic and sheer terror. This is the same feeling I had on April 9th, the day of my c-section. As soon as I got to the hospital, I just about broke down and had a panic attack, sobbing uncontrollably and telling everyone I wanted to go home (I even told the anesthesiologist to "stop talking" at one point. Good thing I can laugh about it now)

The thought of Ryan not being an arm's length away overwhelms me. Thinking about dropping off my baby in the morning induces the feeling that I'm suffocating. Thinking about how I won't be able to bounce him in my lap, kiss his cheeks, pinch his legs, or sniff his hair for 9 straight hours, five days a week, fills me with total despair. I don't know why. There is no room for logic. I just can't control it.

I've done this before, with my first baby. But  I don't remember feeling this horrible when I left my 4 month old baby and returned to law school. In fact, I only remember feeling excited. Why is it different this time around?

Motherhood has definitely made me a softy.

Suddenly, nothing at the office seems as important as being with my baby. Note that I said "baby" and not "children" -- I have a much easier time dropping off Jacob. Probably because he is a walking contrarian and a tornado of attitude...a cute tornado.... I will miss Jacob too. I'll miss our little sweet moments together in the mornings, our adventures, science experiements, his enthusiasm over discovering discarded trash, and his little quips. But he's rather independent now and I know he will be just fine away from me for 40 hours a week. He's done it before too.

I''m pretty sure that once I get my head back in the game, I will be fine too. I'll get used to a new routine. I'll enjoy new challenges and successes. I might start to enjoy not having two kids hanging on me constantly. The quantity of our time together will decrease but the quality of what little time we have will improve dramatically.

But I'm still afraid of missing Ryan's "firsts." I'm afraid of other people "replacing" me. This is silly, but again, I'm not being rational. I'm afraid not so much that he will need me, but that I will need HIM.

Because I'm really going to miss this:

and this:

and this:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


For the last three days, Jacob has been begging me to make lemonade. I offered to pour him a glass of any one of the different types of juice living in our fridge. I offered to buy him lemonade. No. He wanted to MAKE it. By squeezing lemons.

So I added lemons to my grocery list.

At the store, Jacob made a bee-line for the produce aisle. He carefully selected 5 lemons. He placed four of them in the cart but refused to part with the fifth. "No mommy, I want to CARRY it!" he said as he craddled in his hands as if it were a precious treasure.

For the next three aisles, he tossed the lemon, dropped it, kicked it, rolled it, squished it between his hands, and rubbed it all over his cheeks multiple times. Poor lemon. Remind me to NEVER buy that kid a hamster.

The lemon went "climbing"

It participated in an art project

Then it went to "jail."

Then it went to visit its "friends"

At the check out counter, I placed the lemons on the moving counter thing. One, two, three, four lemons. Where did the fifth lemon go? I scoured the cart. I scoured Jacob's hands. Jacob must have left it somewhere- maybe he set it down and forgot about it during his "I want yogurt. I want some RIGHT NOW" meltdown. OR maybe that poor lemon had finally made its escape.

Oh well, I could make lemonade with four lemons.

We paid for our goods, drove home, and put away the groceries. I set the four lemons on the table with a juicer.  Ryan, sensing that I was about to do something that requires concentration, decided to fuss in his carseat. I reached down to pick him up and discovered......

.......the runaway lemon.

At the end of the year, I'm going to have to write Safeway a huge check to compensate them for Ryan's shoplifting habit.

The second I sat down to get started on the lemonade, Ryan started shrieking for food. Jacob saw me preparing a bottle and approached me, scoldingly, "Mommy! What are you doing? You're not making my lemonade!"

"I have to feed Ryan first."

"NOOOOO!" he whined. "I want lemonade."

"Ryan is hungry and he needs to eat first."

"But I can't wait!"

So we compromised:

Notice how thrilled Jacob is to be feeding his brother?

While Jacob was "volunteering" by feeding Ryan, I got to work on the lemonade. I cut the lemons in half and started juicing them.

Ryan was soon done with his bottle. I set him in his Bumbo on the table so he could watch. Jacob thought juicing the lemons looked like fun and begged to help. I gave him a lemon half and showed him how to twist the lemon on the juicer.

He twisted it once, decided it wasn't that cool afterall, and  proceeded to lick every inch of that lemon half from rind to middle. He pulled the seeds out with his teeth and spat them all over our work area. Then he squeezed the lemon between his two hands, dripping juice all over the table. That kid, he's SUCH a big help.

I finished juicing the rest of the lemons and whipped up a batch of lemonade using the recipe that Mommy On The Floor posted. It's amazing, by the way!

Jacob took one sip and declared that it was WONDERFUL! Then told me he didn't want anymore. When pressed further, he said "I don't like lemonade....I just wanted to have some lemons."

*SLAP!*......That was the sound of my hand hitting my forehead.

Shaking my head in frustration, I reached over the table to get Ryan out of his Bumbo. My middle section landed in a puddle of cold, sticky, rogue lemon juice. At least, lemon juice is a nice change from spit-up.

Monday, July 23, 2012

DIY Baby Carrier II: The Baby Backpack!

What is more fun than babywearing?! Ok, maybe a lot of things....BUT if you make your own baby carrier, it can be a lot more fun. This tutorial is a little more advanced than my basic baby carrier but it is still super easy!

I present to you the Baby Backpack

All you need is a child sized back pack and a pair of  scissors.

1. Select a child-size backpack. I found this at Value Village for $3.00.

2. Cut holes in the bottom. The holes should be about a hand's width apart. And make sure they are wide enough to fit your baby's legs through. Wouldn't want to cut off circulation, would we?

3. Insert baby.

This can be worn on the front....Or even on the back:

Don't let the face fool you. Ryan loves it.

Isn't that cute? All those moms with fancy-pants wraps at the playground will be so jealous!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

In Defense Of Sweatpants

Hi. I'm on maternity leave and I wear sweat pants. Well, yoga pants to be exact. Guess what? I also don't shower every day. And I don't care what people think about it.

I've been following the comments to LL's interesting post reacting to recent articles about Marissa Mayer and her planned short maternity leave. I have to say that I find most of the comments unhelpful on the discourse of the "mommy wars."

I think what everyone is trying to say is that there is no one-size-fits-all shoe for motherhood, maternity leave, and working mom balance. Unfortunately, people still like to throw their own judgments around or act like everything was easy for them.  And the people who act like it's so easy really do a disservice for those of us that struggle.

First of all, I'm on maternity leave and I wear yoga pants... a lot. My kids don't care what I wear so I throw on what I WANT to wear. Then I can laugh at myself for wearing yoga pants all the time. Why does it matter what I wear anyway? It's just going to be covered in spit-up. I'm not trying to impress anyone. I'm not trying to say "I recently had a baby and I look so awesome and put together." If I have to make a 5 minute run to the store for bread, I'm not going to spend 10 minutes to look all purdy for the cashiers. I don't care what they think. I'm going to wear what is comfy and right now, while I still have a pound or two to lose, my normal jeans are not comfy.

Also, I don't take a shower everyday. So what? My mornings are hectic. Those of you who did take a shower everyday of your maternity leave, good for you! Sure you can sit there and say how easy it is to run into the bathroom for a quick 5 minute shower (seriously though, who takes a 5 minute shower? Not ME!). But it's not that easy. It's never that easy. If I really wanted a shower, sure, I'd find a way to take one. But unless I have an appointment somewhere, my mornings are usually busy sweet-talking and nagging my son into eating his breakfast- every bite is like pulling teeth. Or getting my baby to take a nap. He's an excellent night time sleeper but a crappy napper and I have to literally rock him to sleep and then continue to hold him to keep him asleep. Showers are not the first thing on my mind or my morning agenda.

Some moms keep their older children in day care or school while they are on maternity leave. If I remember correctly, LL might have done that? That would sure make my mornings and afternoons 50% easier. But not all of us can do that.

Finally, I envy those of you who say that you could have gone back to work 3 weeks after having your baby. That's really awesome. I also envy people who didn't have to struggle with going to back to work. It's great that your whole world didn't flip upside down after having a baby, that your priorities never underwent a huge upheaval. It's awesome that you never questioned whether you would stay on your ambitious career path or throw it all into the wind to be a stay at home mom. I envy you because I struggle with it every day.

I really don't want to leave this guy...

It's true that you don't know how you will feel until after your baby is born. You won't know if you will have your same career ambition. You won't know if you will suddenly melt into a puddle and decide that you never want to spend a day apart. Unfortunately, a lot of women do not even HAVE a choice.

When I was growing up, I always knew I wanted to have kids. But I also knew I wanted to have a challenging career. I was worried how the two would go together but I brushed that worry aside and never gave it much thought. I went to law school and during that time, I had a baby. Since the day my son was born, I've struggled with the following questons: "What do I WANT to do?" and "What is right for MY family." I still don't know what I want. I still don't know if I will ever know what is best for my family. So I'm winging it for now.

The things I didn't think about where: "What do people expect me to do?" "Will people look down at me if I make X choice or Y choice?" "Will I be letting women across the country down if I throw in the towel and decide I want to be home with my children?" "Will I be sending a poor message by leaving my children with others while I work?" I didn't think about these questions and I don't think any woman should have to. Each choice should be bourne on the needs of the mommy and her family. Who the hell cares about the rest of the garbage.

I think a lot of my struggle has to do with the fact that I had a stay at home mom. Growing up, most of my friends had working moms. I felt bad that they had to go to after-school care while I got to go home to my mom, who always greeted me at the door, asked me about my day, and had a snack waiting. I'm not saying that that is the best way to be raised. I'm just saying that's how I was raised and I wish I could give that to my kids. So yes, I struggle. Everyday.

I think most people do struggle. Even long after they make their decision (no matter what that decision is, they still struggle. Everyday you do your best. All you can do is hug your little ones as much as possible and go to sleep knowing that you are trying to do your very best. And if what you are doing stops workng, there is always tomorrow to change things.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Date Night

Today, my husband and I had an evening out without the kids. It felt amazing to have some time away. Funny though, whenever we go out on dates, we spend a good portion of the time thinking and talking about our kids, how cute they are, and the funny things they say.

Since Ryan was born, we've been on 3.5 dates. That's a lot for us. We probably had that many in the entire YEAR before Ryan was born. I hope we can keep it up because days like today keep me sane. It's like hitting the "refresh" button on your life.

For the past couple weeks, I started weaning Ryan. At first I felt guilty for weaning him so early but I wanted to make the transition back to work go as smooth as possible and I absolutely hate pumping. Even more than I hate making the bed! Ryan's been great about it and took to the bottle really easily. He doesn't seem to care either way. I mean, he will already put anything in his mouth that gets between his hands and his face.

Ryan is now drinking from a bottle for half of the day. I feel SO relieved. And, of course, with that relief comes guilt for feeling so relieved. Mommy guilt is strong with me. No matter what I do, I will find something to feel guilty about. Anyway, it's such a relief knowing that other people can feed him when necessary. And I love that he gets to bond with his grandparents, his daddy, and his brother during feeding time. And I love not accidentally flashing people in public. Oh and I most specially love that I can enjoy a date night completely interruption free and without stuffing a pump in my purse.

Ryan is happy. I'm happy. We are all happy!

Our date started by going to see The Dark Knight Rises in the brand new, fancy downtown theater. 5 years ago, we never would have thought that Bremerton would be cool enough for a theater. Between the theater, the amazing downtown parks, fun and funky new restaurants, and weekend events (this weekend some of the streets were closed off for a Brew Festival), our little neighborhood has really turned around!

The movie was so freaking good. At the beginning, I was a little unnerved about going to see it after the tragic shooting in Colorado. And during the first hour of the film, I kept fearfully checking the Exits and getting myself all worked up. But I finally relaxed and got lost in the film. I can't say it enough- the film was SO GOOD!

Afterwards, we walked downtown and watched the participants of the Brew Festival and we grabbed some dinner. It was incredible to be able to eat a meal without having to pick up a fussy baby or cut someone else's food or wipe someone's butt (Somehow, whenever I'm eating lunch, Jacob decides it's a great opportunity to go poop and then I have to stop, mid-bite and go wipe him. Bu-bye appetite. Toddler butt-wiping is going to be the new mommy diet.)

We saw this piece of art on our walk downtown and my husband and I got into a semi-heated debate about what type of animal it is. So, I need to take a poll....what do you think? Cat or bear?

The best part about date night is always picking up the kids. We both feel refreshed and become almost giddy with excitement to see them again. My new favorie thing is to see how excited Ryan gets when I walk into a room. When he sees me from across the room, his eyes lock in on me and his little legs will start kicking like crazy. He looks like a marionette that is being controlled by a spastic puppeteer. So adorable.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ridiculous Questions And Ridiculous Answers

When your kid turns 3, be prepared to field some interesting questions. Because, the questions.....they will come. And they will be weird. Bonus mommy points if you can come up with equally weird answers.

Based upon the questions that Jacob threw at me this week, these are the things toddlers really want to know:

1. "Do goblins brush their teeth?"

     Appropriate Answer: Aside from Uncle Leroy, Goblins do not exist.

     My Answer: Yes. Every time they eat a little boy. Who wants little boy fingers stuck in their teeth?

2. "When people are bad, do their bones melt?"

      Appropriate Answer: Being bad does not usually cause someone to experience physical harm. Being caught, now that's another story.

       My Answer: Every time you leave your toys out for Mommy to step on, your bones will shrink one millimeter. That's why old people are short-- they left out their toys many times.

3.  "If we have more babies, then will we have more mommies too?

      Appropriate Answer: No. The stork brings babies. The stork does not bring mommies.

      My Answer: If Daddy spends one more weekend working on his junky old car, Mommy might trade Daddy in for a second mommy. Mommy could really use her own housewife anyway.

4. "Are spiderman's spidey senses in his heart?"

      Appropriate Answer: Yes. (Cause really, who wants to go into the metaphysics of Spiderman with a toddler?)

      My Answer: And in his pants. (*cough* erotic Spiderman dream *cough*)

5. "Where do T-rexes sleep?"

     Appropriate Answer: Dinosaurs died many years ago. They do not exist anymore. But maybe there will be nice dinosaurs in heaven?

    My Answer: T-rexes sleep in beds. DUH. They don't really like bunk beds though because their arms are too tiny to climb down the ladders and so they get stuck on the top. They also sleep in fossil beds (hee hee).

Hooded Pool Robe!

We discovered an awesome new park near our house: an outdoor heated kid's wave pool! It also has a little circular pool for tots and a BATH warm (which is much warmer than normal "heated" pools) splash pool with pool toys, stationary water guns, and fountains. It is so amazing. And since it's run by a nearby city, it's amazing affordable. Kids 4 and under, get in free (JACKPOT!).

I've only known about this park for a week and we've been there twice already. The first thing Jacob says when he wakes up is "Can we go to the pool park?" And the last thing he says before bed is, "When we wake up, can we go to the pool park?" Obsessed? Yes.

Using a pattern I came across on Pinterest, I made Jacob a Spiderman pool robe just for the "Pool park." I made my own little changes and added a hood. When Jacob saw it (and the Spiderman applique) he freaked out. I took photos of my crafting so that I would remember how to make more in the future. This is my first tutorial, so bear with me!

  • 2 bath towels
  • scissors
  • pen
  • sewing machine
  • fabric for applique
  • bias tape
  • buttons/snaps
1. First, find two beach towels. I got these at Fred Meyer for $2.50 each! Score! Cut each towel to the desired length. I made our robe 30 inches long and it was perfect for him- he's about 40-42 inches tall. I used one of Jacob's t-shirts to determine the length. Then I folded each towel in half, lengthwise, and cut.

 Save one of the scraps ("remnant pieces") to use later to make a hood.

2. After you cut both towels, place the towel pieces on top of each other so that the hems are lined up. The hem will become the bottom of the robe.

3. Mark a t-shape on the towel to form the basic shape of the robe (see red marks in photo below). I started with the measurements suggested in the other robe tutorial and played with them a little to come up with the following measurements (note that every towel brand will come in different sizes):

4. After you draw the pattern, cut.

5. To make the neckline, start with one piece of towel. This will be the front of the robe. Measure a semicircle neckline shape about 8 inches across and 2 inch from the top.

6. Now make a similar neckline shape on the other towel piece. This will be the back of the robe. Make this one 8 inches across and only 1 inch from the top. 

7. To make the hood, grab one of the scrap or remnant pieces. I cut about 2.5 inches off the side so the the total side measured 22 inches long. The hem piece (the left side, in the picture shown) will be the part of the hood that goes around the face.

 8. Then fold the piece in half, keeping the hem piece to the left. Measure along the bottom. It should be at least 8 inches long to match the necklines. You may want to add an inch or so. For some reason, I didn't make mine long enough- I think my neckline ended up longer than 8 inches wide.

9. Sew the back of the hood (the opposite side of the hem and marked in the photo below with red marks), you ca sew a straight line or give it a slight curve.

 10. Cut the front piece of the robe in half.

11. Sew on any decorations or embellishments.

It helps if you have a cute little helper :)

He wanted to get in on the sewing action.

 12. Turn one of the front piece so that the back is facing up (the embellished side will be facing away) and place it on top of the back piece. Match the pieces up along the sides and sew as shown by the red marks in the photo.

13. Do the same for the other front piece.

 Then turn the pieces ride-side-out.

 It's coming together!

14. Add the hood. Open up the hood like shown in the photo below and piece the bottom of the hood along the neckline. Pin it in place, wrong sides together, and sew. Like I said, my hood was too short to cover the entire neckline, so I just centered it and hemed the rest of the neckline that wasn't covered by the hood. If your hood is a little bit too long, then sew the ends first. You can gather the extra fabric in the back and make a pleat or two.

15. Now just add bias tape (or you can just turn the edges in and sew a hem) to both front sides where the robe opens. Add snaps or buttons. Finish the embellishment details.

And you're DONE. Ta-da!!

I want to make one for me now!