Monday, September 29, 2014

Stories From Kindergarten

Today, I picked Jacob up from after-school care and as we walked to the car, this is what followed:   

"Did you have a good day at school?"

"Yeah."

"What did you guys do today?"

"Well, guess what? On the bus this girl's pants were unzipped and she didn't even know it and me and another person who is a girl saw her UNDIES!"

[Really kid?! I haven't seen you in nine hours and THIS is what you want to tell me?!]

"And during free time, I just wanted to sit at my desk and not play. And Mrs. P asked me if I was ok and I said I just didn't feel like playing. So she told me to come see her and count to 100. I counted all the way to 100 and she gave me a.......[Jacob paused for dramatic effect].....A STICKER!"

[Wow, a whole freaking sticker]

"And later we played Duck, Duck, Goose but the girls think Nick is cute so they picked him like ten times and they only picked me two times. Sigh. It's not fair."

[Really, I had no idea Duck, Duck, Goose was so riddled with hidden agendas. Hmmm, that just might explain why I was NEVER picked]

"And then during craft time, Madison took a glue stick and rubbed it all over her lips like it was lipstick and the teacher got mad."

[The teacher should give her super glue next time]

Jacob's school stories are the highlight of my days. Whenever I ask him how school was, I just never know what kind of answer I will get. My favorite stories are what I call Madison* stories. Apparently she is this girl in Jacob's class who has never been parented a day in her life. She sounds like an absolute disaster on two feet. And everyday, without fail, Jacob tells me some crazy thing that Madison did in class.

So far, since school started, Madison has:

Used a glue stick as lipstick
Pooped all over the classroom toilet
Colored on the wall
Stuck a crayon up her nose
Stuck a piece of bark up her nose
Tried to cut her lips off with scissors
Told the teacher that she didn't have to do anything she didn't want to do and stomped out of the room (which landed her in the principle's office)

And these are just the things Jacob has TOLD me about....I totally understand now why they say public school teachers are so underpaid.

Can I just ask one question? How come no one ever told me that having a Kindergartner would be so much fun? I've always known and treasured the joys of babies and toddlers (even when they are acting contrary, I just love that age). But in my 12 years of babysitting kids of ALL ages, I never appreciated the joys of Kindergartners. That is exactly what Jacob is right now-- a joy. I can't describe him in any other way.

I genuinely have fun talking to him and listening to his stories and observations. He is old enough to hold interesting conversations and actually contribute. But he is still young enough that he actually wants me to be with him at school. I am now convinced that Kindergartners are the perfect age. They are the best of toddlers and the best of big kids combined into one.

It was raining when I picked Jake up from school. He was so bummed he couldn't play outside. So I told him to take off his shoes and socks and just go play in the rain. He looked at me like I had just offered him a giant cruise ship full of lollipops. Here in Seattle, we can't let a little rain stop us or else we'd never leave the house!

 
Before bed, I pulled out some phonics books Jacob got for his birthday and pointed to a word and asked Jacob if he could read it, just out of curiosity. He looked at it, sounded out the letters in his head, and read it with ease. I was shocked. I pointed to another word and another word with the same results. One month into Kindergarten and this kid can read! What the heck?!

*name changed to protect the not-so-innocent

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Weekend Soup: Birthday, Baseball, and Parenting

I really enjoyed being Mom this weekend. I mean I always love being a mom, but some days are easier to appreciate than others. This weekend was far from perfect, there were times I wanted to scream, times I DID scream, and one very low moment where after a difficult and long shopping trip with both kids, I lost my keys somewhere IN my car and broke down sobbing in the middle of a parking lot at 7pm (spoiler: a good Samaritan stopped and helped me find them). But luckily, days as a mom are not defined by the valleys. They are defined by the many peaks that inevitably outshine everything else.

On Saturday we celebrated Jacob's sixth birthday. Six doesn't seem very old. Personally, I don't have a ton of memories of being six. But relatively, when I think about the day my first baby was born, six seems ancient. He's so tall and independent and capable and basically living a life completely separate from us now that he is in school. I don't even know the people he spends all day with (music teacher, computer teacher, classroom helpers, classmates). It's so odd to not be fully 100% immersed in your big kid's life. It's also so odd to look at your own kid and realize that somewhere along the way, he's become a real person and is no longer an extension of you.

What amazes me about Jacob are his emotional smarts. He is capable of understanding what other people are feeling, understanding how his actions affect how others are feeling, and shows genuine concern regarding the same. (Jacob told me the other day that their teacher gave each child a Skittle and Jacob gave his Skittle to another kid in the class for no reason other than to make him feel happy). I don't know how we are doing it, but we are raising an intuitive, sensitive, and caring child. And that makes me so proud. More proud than anything else. I've recently decided that as complicated and tough as being a mom may seem, the objective is simple and clear: teach my kids to love and be kind to other people. In my book, that is the benchmark which defines mommy success.

For Jacob's birthday we rented a party room at an indoor pool/gym. This was by far the easiest and least involved party EVER. First, Jacob is old enough to be a huge help and I totally took advantage of that. I made him pick out and assemble all the party favors and put him to work on what would have been most of my tasks. We ordered pizza from a place that was literally across the street. All that we had to bring was cake, drinks, eating utensils, and our swimsuits. The quickest and easiest party ever. And when we were booted out of the party room 2.5 hours later, we returned to a clean and organized home where we all took naps (it was heaven compared to the usual party chaos).

Family photo at the pool party room


Please note the frosting on his chin and the fact that there is no trace of baby whatsoever (sigh).
 


Watching Jacob open present was the highlight of the party for me (followed by listening to him dialogue with the adult guests- when did he become such a grow up?). With each gift that he opened, he displayed the most intense exuberance and excitement I have ever seen. He opened one gift that contained both a Lego set and a pack of gum. He opened the Lego set first and nearly screamed, while waving the set wildly in the air, "How did you know these are just the Legos I always wanted!" (even though I'm sure he hadn't seen this particular set ever before). And when he pulled out the pack of gum, he was equally wild with enthusiasm. He looked at the gum and exclaimed, "MINT gum! This is the best day of my life!" I was dying. He repeated a similar comment for every single gift, with genuine excitement.


"MOM LOOK. Star Wars Legos. These are my FAVORITE Star Wars Legos in the whole WORLD!"

"A NINJA TURTLE BOOK! I can read this with my new bedtime flashlight!!"

"A SUCKER! How did you know suckers are my favorite?!"

Present heads


The party was a success, with many thanks to my husband who did all the clean up and behind the scenes work and supervised the kids in the pool - ha, like I would wear a swimsuit at 37 weeks pregnant! Thank to my gigantic protruding belly, I'm pretty much uncomfortable every second of the day unless I am laying horizontal... as a result, I'm not much help, I'm very slow, and I'm often cranky. My husband was seriously the best!

37 weeks. I'm SO SO SO sick of being pregnant. I will hire a hit out on the next person who stares at my belly for too long, tells me I look like I'm going to pop (OMGSTFU), or asks me any questions about the baby (Is it your first? do you know what you are having? When are you due?). Praying every day that my water magically breaks.


Today after church and Jacob's Sunday school class, we hoped on a ferry to Seattle to watch the last Mariner game of the season. This is the first time we've taken the kids to a game and it was not the disaster I predicted it would be.

Post-church donuts on the ferry

 
Daddy hugs and tackles


Brotherly love
 

In fact, the kids were mostly very good. They enjoyed waving and cheering with the crowd although they were more entertained by making the bleachers their own personal jungle gyms and playing with a large cup full of ice than anything happening on the field. Ryan was solely interested in the mascot moose and kept asking me every ten minutes where he was.

Go King Felix!

 
Safeco Field

 
Ryan's lap bed for naptime.



Baseball games are so thrilling


Despite our busy weekend, I got a lot of chores done. And for probably one of the first weekends in months we spent almost the entire weekend as a family. This is a far cry from a typical weekend in which my husband and I split duties, errands, and weekends chores (and occasionally the kids) and rarely see each other except for dinner and bedtime. It was so nice to be together, even if I was just folding laundry or doing dishes while my husband worked on the computer and the kids tackled each other.



I sometimes get so caught up on life and chores that I forget to just sit back and soak up my time with the kids. Lately, with a third baby on the horizon and with a winding down of my schedule, I'm trying really hard to just appreciate their little personalities and quirks and focus less on getting stuff done and checked off my to-do list.

Nothing like having another baby to remind you how quickly it all goes by. I barely remember Jacob as a baby. I don't want to believe that the same thing will happen with Ryan.

Ryan is going through a phase where he is very affectionate (actually, now that I think about it, he's always that way). He randomly likes to reach out for my hand and rub it softly up and down his cheek. He often asks me to hold him in a voice that just makes me melt. He also gives what I like to call "forehead nuzzles." If I'm sitting down, he will approach me, put his forehead against mine, and just press forward or rub his forehead back and forth. It's so weird but so cute at the same time. Also, he makes me lay down in his bed with him every night until he falls asleep. Most of the time it drives me crazy, but sometimes I really look forward to it. He wraps his arm around me, holds my hand, recaps bits and pieces of his day ("I have fun at the baseball game. I clap and eat a hamburger and wave my flag and saw the moose.") and drifts peacefully to sleep.


Right now he talks in the sweetest high-pitched voice. My favorite thing lately is how he uses the word "actually" in many of his sentences. For example, tonight he told me he wanted pizza. Then he said, "Actually, I want a corn dog. No, actually, I want pizza." It's pretty funny to hear that word come out of a two-year old's mouth. Yesterday, he waltzed up to me and exclaimed, "I'm playing dinosaurs. Actually, can you take me outside?" It reminds me of the "apparently" kid (look him up on Youtube, he's adorable).

People often ask me how I feel about having a third boy. They ask me if I was hoping for a girl. If I want to try for a girl. If I wish I had a girl. And, you know what, I'm sure girls are awesome. But I feel so full of love and life with the kids that I have that I've never once felt that I was missing out on something. In anticipation of our third boy's birth, I don't feel anything but fulfilled and thankful and blessed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Too Big Too Fast

My new commuting schedule is really hectic. Every morning, I drop Jacob off for school before work. Every other day though, I drive to another city to drop Ryan off with my mom, then I drive Jacob back to our city for school, then I FINALLY head to city no. 3 for work. I do the exact reverse in the evening.

The driving itself isn't all that bad, but coupled with all the kid shuffling, kid organizing, and car seat exchanges, I feel like I complete a full day of activities before I even get to work. When I drop Ryan off in the morning, I meet my mom at McDonald's where I order (and not-so-patiently supervise) the kids' breakfast. Trying to separate from Ryan and get Jacob back into the car (there is a Playland...) can take many hair-pulling minutes.

Then I drop Jacob off at school (we are out of district so we don't get bus service), where he somehow cajoles me into waiting with him in the library before the school bell rings. We spend about 15 minutes coloring and visiting. This ritual makes me late for work (which requires me to stay 15 minutes late everyday), but it means a lot to Jacob and I get some good quality time in with him. Occasionally, other kids from Jacob's class will see us as they pass by in the hall and join us. Before you know it, I'm orchestrating an amateur drawing time for Kindergartners.

Every morning this week, we've designed Halloween pumpkins. Not pictured: vampire pumpkin, Ninja Turtle pumpkin, and crazy-eyed pumpkin.

Pirate pumpkin
 

Frankenstein pumpkin


When I finally peel away from Jacob and bid him adieu in his classroom, I indulgently stop by the drive thru Starbucks before pulling into the office parking lot. All of these activities, coupled with the usual tasks of packing lunches, getting kids (and myself) awake and dressed, and piling everything into the car makes for INCREDIBLY long mornings. Hopefully we will get into a smoother routine as the school year progresses....wait a second, I'm having a (third) BABY....ha ha ha ha, yeah right!

Anyway, I originally meant to write a post about my sweet and loveable Kindergartner and all the quality time we are now getting. So...

Frequently, in the course of getting him ready and dropped off for school, something will suddenly strike me and cause me to reel at how grown up he has become. The other day, we were walking to his school when he bounded up a grassy hill then turned around to tell me something. When he turned around, all I saw was a big kid. For a split second, he looked so grown up and foreign. "Who is this kid?" I thought. Seriously. This picture makes me feel like he's nearly 15, not just 6. His babyhood, which once used to consume every bit of me and our lives, is so far behind him that it's as mysterious as the creation of earth.

Big Kid Jacob: the image that brought many silent tears on Monday morning


A similar thing happened today when I went to his after-school program to pick him up. When I walked in the door, one of the staff members told me he was outside and directed me to a long line-up of kids waiting to be picked for dodge ball. There amidst the long line of real, legitimate Big Kids was Jacob, in baggy khakis, his navy blue uniform shirt, and a beanie. As my eyes scanned the line-up of kids, they almost refused to stop at him. They wanted to keep scanning the crowd for a disproportionately big-headed toddler with chubby cheeks and disheveled hair.


In those moments, I'm both insanely proud of who Jacob has become and, at the same time, gripped by sadness over the passing of time. You know what? Being a mom is so unfair. Our job is to raise our children. But our children being raised is also one of the most painful things that happens to us. It's rewarding and wonderful beyond measure. But it's insanely painful. Loving a baby and a child is harder than loving any other person out there. Because a baby and a child grow and change exponentially compared to adults. The person you love is never the same. It's almost as if you are saying "good morning" to a different person each day. While you get to know and love the new person, you have no choice but to say goodbye to the person you knew yesterday. Except.... that person leaves before you even get a chance to say goodbye.

As we walk to the car each day after school, I love to hear Jacob's stories about his day. I love to find out what parts of his day really stood out to him. For example, when Marilyn pooped all over the classroom toilet seat. Or when Vincent had to go to the nurse's office because someone elbowed him in the eye at recess. Or when Jailyn blew him kisses and drew him a heart picture. Or when they had rice krispy treats for their afternoon snack. Even when they have a big school event, like Johnny Appleseed Day and I try to ask him about the activities they did, it's these little observations and social interactions that stand out and are most important to him. Forget the fact that they made applesauce and learned how apples grow, Jacob wanted to tell me that Madison got in trouble for wearing a Batman t-shirt (it's a public school but they have uniforms).

Jacob's choice for Crazy Hat Day at school (Ryan got to celebrate too).

Friday, September 19, 2014

Great News

Now that my maternity leave is only four weeks away, I've been wondering how the heck I'm going to get through one more whole month of work. I'm mentally checked out and physically uncomfortable. I spend the first two hours of each morning feeling debilitatingly lightheaded and faint to the point where the only thing I can focus on is avoiding the temptation to lay down on the floor of my office. You know you are seriously ill when the only thing you desire is to lay on carpet that hasn't been vacuumed in months.

After I get over my lightheadedness (which randomly vanishes and is replaced by nausea sometime before lunch), it's nearly impossible to focus on work. Other things on my mind include: (1) how is Jake doing in school, (2) did he remember to put his sweater away in his cubby after recess, (3) the impending C-section and the many worries and anxieties that come with it, (4) having a third baby (the good and the bad), and (5) four freaking months of maternity leave! They will be glorious! If only they would hurry up and get here!

All week I worried that work would slow down now that people know I will be gone for four months, inevitably making the days even more laborious. Today at approximately 11:45am, everything changed!

Last year, I made a crazy decision. Tired of my 5 hour daily commute, I left a safe permanent job doing what I love (insurance defense litigation) to accept an uncertain temporary position which involved undetermined tasks and assignments likely including responding to public record requests and performing contract reviews (yuck!). I went out on a limb and applied, ultimately competing against 30+ applicants. I have no idea why I was chosen over all these people. But my guess is that fresh-out-of-lawschool lawyers are really the only people who apply for uncertain temporary positions.

When I accepted this job, I had no idea what I was getting into. I went into the interview not interested in the job at all (I had my heart set on another job for which I had interviewed). When the other job fell through and I was offered this job, I decided I was too miserable with my commute to NOT take it. The decision was not an easy one. It came with much anxiety and doubt. But I did what I always do: I held my breath, chose with my heart, and jumped in with both feet, without any regard to facts or reason or logic.

My first assignment was to help draft a summary judgment motion for a tort case. With that assignment, I instantly won over the supervising litigation attorney and earned a spot doing what I loved: litigation defense. The stars just seemed to align and I had never been happier. The proscribed six month stint ended and yet I stayed on, assigned to co-chair an August trial. While things seemed to work out beautifully, uncertainty always hung in the air. I went into work each morning knowing that any day could be my last.

And then......today, one year and fifteen days later, my leap of faith has paid off. This morning, my boss came into my office and shut the door behind her. Everything in my training and experience told me to be worried. But then I saw a big warm smile on her face and I knew she brought only good news.

She sat down and told me that one of the senior attorneys in the office is leaving. Then she offered me his position. A real position. A permanent position. With actual clients of my very own. I beamed uncontrollably and instantly said yes.

I will still be doing litigation. But I will also have new duties to go with it. My new duties involve code enforcement (and related litigation), condemnation proceedings, and various other tasks/clients. I will also be inheriting two big cases. One that is likely to be appealed to the State Supreme Court (which means I will likely be arguing in front of the Supreme Court!), and another that is set for trial next year.

Suddenly, my last four weeks have filled up with trainings and meetings and learning all the stuff I can from the attorney whose shoes I will be filling. I'm insanely excited! I'm legit! I'm permanent! I have real clients! AND my new job comes with a 20% bump in salary, which doesn't hurt. I still won't quite be making a real attorney's salary, but for a government job with substantial benefits and meaningful work-life balance, it's pretty darn good. (You can probably infer that my current salary is almost laughable, considering I've been an attorney for four years and don't do non-profit or public interest work!).

Now, instead of dreading the next four weeks, I'm already excited to return to work from my maternity leave!

Life Lessons: (1) sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, (2) everything always works out in the end.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

34 Weeks: Names, Update, & NSTs

We still have no name for Baby No. 3. I've been trying to convince my husband to let me name him after my favorite Seahawk quarterback, Russell Wilson. I've begged and pleaded but he is just not budging. So until an actual name is decided, I've just been calling the baby Russell Wilson in the hope that it just sticks. It's a long shot. A hail mary fourth down pass. But just maybe it will pan out. :)

My number one name choice right now is Eli. But my husband doesn't like it. Actually, I take it back. If I had my way, the baby would be named Roger after my dad. I know it's not a popular name but (1) it's my dad's name (obvious sentimental value), and (2) I really, really like uncommon/old-fashioned names, especially from the 50's (Betty!). Sadly, my husband hates this name more than any other name on the planet. My other top favorites are: Adam (which is a recent addition to my name list but has instantly clawed its way into my heart), Ethan, and Marcus. I'm also liking Edward. But guess what? My husband doesn't like them (are you sensing a pattern here?! ARRRG!).

Today I had my 34 week OB check-up. I've surprisingly only gained 21 pounds so far! And I only have 4.5 weeks to go, so unless DQ has a two-for-one deal on Blizzards for the next 4.5 weeks, this will be the least amount I've gained in a pregnancy. It might have something to do with the fact that I've been running regularly. I've been doing 4 miles at 8:45 minute pace about three times a week. My time has been amazingly consistent. And running isn't hard or uncomfortable at all. In fact, it feels GOOD, which is weird considering I have 18 inches of baby squished between my ribs and bladder. Running is the only activity I still enjoy. And it makes me feel great. And (despite a ridiculous looking mid-section), my legs look uncommonly muscular.

Unfortunately, at my appointment today my doctor asked me to stop running until I have a growth ultrasound. At my very first ultrasound, baby was diagnosed with Single Umbilical Artery. That means instead of two arteries in his umbilical cord, he only has one. This usually isn't a big deal and just means closer monitoring. For example, I get extra ultrasounds and weekly non-stress tests. Today my doctor said I was measuring small. I usually measure right on target but today I measured almost two weeks behind. Just to be safe, my doctor wants me to pause my running and have an ultrasound to check amniotic fluid and baby's growth.

I'm not too worried. I've learned to brush off the extra precautions that my doctor has taken this time around (as well as with my last pregnancy-- she thought Ryan also had SUA but when he was born we discovered his cord was normal) as procedural CYA efforts. It's just going to be really hard not to run.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing my baby on another ultrasound and enjoying the non-stress tests as excuses to lay back and take a nap! Lounging in a leather recliner with crackers and cranberry juice is pretty much a pregnant lady's version of laying on a sunny beach with a margarita.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Don't Even.

As excited as I am to have a baby, I think I'm equally excited to just NOT be pregnant anymore. I don't understand why people say they enjoy being pregnant. I hate everything about it.

Mostly, I can't wait for the stupid comments and constant remarks to end. Yes. I'm pregnant. DUH. Pregnant people get bigger. I own a mirror, thank you very much. The size of my belly is obvious to everyone, including me. I don't need someone to give me the stats on my appearances every single day.

I'm just so incredibly sick of it. Today when I was picking up Jacob from after school care a shirtless, backward-hat wearing 30-something year old man yelled at me from across the parking lot, "You look miserably pregnant." GEE, THANKS ASSHOLE. What exactly was the purpose of your comment, other than to be a complete jerk. Even if he was trying to be nice, why would he think I would want some random male stranger to publicly and vocally sympathize with me on pregnancy?

People at work are well-intentioned but I dread confronting any coworker because I'm tired of the inevitable comment about how big I look, even when it is prefaced by or suffixed by or sandwiched between a compliment. I'm running out of responses. Polite responses anyway. Thanks for commenting about my physical appearance (again), you are only the fourth coworker to make the same obvious observation about my belly this past hour. And I changed so much from when you commented yesterday. I really appreciate the update.

I just don't get why people are so uncensored about the physical appearance of pregnant women. It's ridiculous. We wouldn't tell a fat person that she is only big in her middle and the rest of her is normal. Why do people (especially people who aren't close friends) feel like it's ok to make the exact same comments to me? I wouldn't tell someone she has a giant pimple on her forehead. Why do people feel like it's fair game to make comments about my physical appearance every single day? Every. Single. Day. It's come to the point where I park my car at work, make a bee-line for my office, and try to hide there all day in order to avoid commentary.

I appreciate the kind smiles and the silent-but-knowing glances from strangers and passersby. I don't even mind the obvious stares all that much. I'm just sick of hearing what everyone thinks how I look. This is my third pregnancy. I've heard every "clever" remark there is. Seriously, unless you are going to offer me a chocolate chip cookie, leave me alone!!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

All My Babies Are Growing

We've almost survived the first week of Kindergarten. Things have gone surprisingly smooth. Jacob loves school and is excited to be dropped off each morning. He seems to enjoy the kids in his class as well as all the activities of the day. It's weird to try to piece together the events of his day from bits and pieces that I hear from him.

I got a little carried away with pictures...but my first baby is going to school for the first time so you'll have to forgive me.

Ready for his first day!

 
My boys :) I can't get over how big-kid-ish they both look.



On the first day of school Jacob only expressed one concern. He was worried that if a bully gave him a wedgie, he would stretch out his new Ninja Turtle underwear. I love that he didn't care so much that he would get a wedgie, just that it would ruin his underwear!

As far as I can tell, he hasn't encountered any bullies yet. Although, there was a little drama on his first day. After school Jacob took the bus to his afterschool care program. When I got off work, I was so excited to meet Jacob at the afterschool program. I got my camera phone ready, expecting him to beam with delight as he saw me and wanted to tell me all about his great first day. Except, when I got to the afterschool program, I saw all the kids playing happily except Jacob. He was sitting in the corner sobbing, his face and eyes completely red. My heart completely broke in two as I quickly dropped the camera phone into my pocket and gave him a big hug. He was so relieved to see me and I can't remember a time in the recent past when he has hugged me so tightly. Apparently he (1) initially missed his stop for the afterschool program and then (2) thought he was in the wrong afterschool program location. He was certain I wouldn't know where to come pick him up. Poor guy. I haven't been that heartbroken in a long, long time.

But I knew all the worry and drama had been quickly forgotten when Jacob woke up for his second day of school and exclaimed, "I can't believe I get to go to school again!" I took this as a good sign!

This year is all about the Ninja Turtles, obviously. Although you may not be able to tell, his lunch box matched his underwear.

 
Outside his classroom!


Jacob's seat at the all-boy's table. I LOVE Kindergarten classrooms!

 
I only cried a tiny bit after dropping Jacob off that first day. I was fine until I set him loose on the playground and walked away. As he ran towards the playground, he didn't look back at me once. As I headed towards the car, tears just came over me. I didn't really know why I was crying. But I couldn't stop. Maybe it was the realization that Jacob is one step closer to being independent from me? Five minutes and a skinny vanilla latte later, I was totally fine and ready to tackle my own day.

Now we've being doing this whole school thing for almost a week and in the four days since school has started I've already become sick and tired of making lunches everyday. And it looks like Jacob is going to have homework every single night. But he's an all-day Kindergartner....why the heck does he need homework? Oh and Jacob has already lost TWO sweaters at school! Ugh. This is a total pain in the ass because he has a uniform policy and I bought those two sweaters specifically to comply with that policy. I can't just send him to school in any old sweater. GRRRR!

Ryan has been enjoying having his grandma and his babysitter all to himself during the day. He asked where Jacob was once or twice but, other than that, he was fine being all on his own. I was definitely more emotional than he was about the fact that the kids would be apart from each other on a regular basis for the first time since Ryan was born.

Wanting to be a big boy like his brother, Ryan has been asking me to pack him a lunch for the day. He's quite the little independent man lately. He insists on dressing himself lately and I'm still amazed to see him disappear and then reappear wearing an outfit.

As much as he is a bog boy, he is very much my cuddly little baby. Ryan is very physical in all aspects. He expresses himself through touch and contact. When he is playful, he can be really aggressive. When he is tired or hurt, he needs touch. Every night when I lay next to him as he falls asleep, he reaches up and grasps my hands then he snuggles his head against my body. He falls asleep with his hands wrapped around mine. The other morning he woke up and crawled into my bed. As I slept, he began to pet my face and my hands. I'm still trying to figure out if that is creepy or sweet.

Yesterday I officially scheduled my C-section for baby number 3. Baby's birthday will be October 20th. I love knowing the birthday in advance. I don't love mentally preparing for C-sections, however. For most of my pregnancy, the thought of a second repeat C-section didn't bother me at all. I thought I would be an old pro and have little anxiety this time around. I think I was wrong.

This morning I pre-registered at Labor and Delivery and as the nurse was giving me instructions about not eating eight hours before hand and the proper way to shower before the procedure, I broke down and began to sob right in her office. Actually thinking about the details made it all seem so real and so close. The anxiety kicked in big time and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be a complete wreck on October 20th. Ugh, I remember shivering uncontrollably on that operating table, completely naked and vulnerable and helpless, and being overcome by a paralyzing and uncontrollable anxiety. My mind kept telling me it would be ok, but the rest of me would not listen. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I'm so not looking forward to repeating that situation.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

My First Baby Is Starting School

My first born starts school tomorrow. Kindergarten. He's never been to school before. No preschool or even daycare. We are definitely past due for school to start in this house. Last year, Jacob's fifth birthday was two days past the cut-off date for starting Kindergarten so we held him back. Although we didn't really have much of a choice, I think it has turned out to be a good thing.

As a working mom, I'm used to not being with my children all day. This is nothing new. It's not new for them and it's not new for me. So I'm not sure how I should be feeling about all this school stuff. Even though my life will go on as normal, things still feel DIFFERENT. I don't anticipate a big sob-fest after dropping him off tomorrow. Again, I'm used to being separated from him all day. But the fact that he is now a school-age child is certainly a sign of change and growth and the passing of time that would make any parent a little weepy and wistful.

Our last hurrah of the summer: an evening at the park. Special appearance: rainbow sherbert kids' cones.



There are also a whole new set of worries. Worries that I didn't anticipate that just kind of crept up on me. What if he gets hungry before lunch? What if he doesn't eat all his lunch and gets hungry later? What if he doesn't get on the right bus? How will he know what stop is his (afterschool care)? What if he can't sit still? What if HE feels sad?

Before bedtime tonight, I sat down with Jacob and carefully planned his lunch for tomorrow. I wanted him to be involved in the decision making so he would be more likely to eat whatever is packed. It feels odd to pack a school lunch. Am I really old enough to have kids who are old enough to be in elementary school? How can my first born already be embarking on this adventure into independence. Will he need me less and be less dependent on me?

Jacob is beyond excited. He has been excited for some time. I don't sense any hesitation or worry or sadness or anxiety within him. All I sense is excitement. This makes it so much easier for me to be excited for him. And so much easier for me to drop him off at school with the assurance that he will be just fine. And I'm sure I will be just fine too, despite the mess and mix of emotions that I'm still trying to sort out.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Vulnerability Of Being Mom

Tonight, I lay down in the bottom bunk of my son's beds. I snuggled up to Ryan as he tossed and turned and violently surrendered to sleep. He's always fallen asleep violently. Never one to drift peacefully, he flails about his mattress in protest until sleep eventually overcomes him.

He finally fell asleep and I lay there in the quiet room, surrounded by children's toys and tokens of days past (gumball machines, lego creations, art drawings). I started to reflect on a topic that my mind frequents these days--what it will mean to bring a third boy into the world.

I started to feel overwhelmingly vulnerable. For many reasons. The most tangible and obvious reason is the fact that I'm facing my third C-section. Even though this will be my third, the fear of not surviving is as strong as it was the first time around when, after two hours of pushing, my doctor's words harshly cut across the anxiety-ridden delivery room to announce, "C-section in five minutes." Her voice was calm and matter-of-fact, but they erupted intense feelings of horror and helplessness. Up until that point, I had never anticipated that I would ever require such major surgery and I knew nothing about C-sections. It turns out that knowing brings little comfort.

So I look to my due date with a mix of excitement and fear. Hoping to hope that I will survive another one. Staring down the very unlikely but still real risk of death. I know the chances are more than great that I will be just fine. But nothing is guaranteed.

But even greater than this vulnerability is the vulnerability that is inherent in being a mother. It's taken me a while to fully understand the consequences of motherhood. Six years into this adventure, I think I can finally put my finger on it. Occasionally, usually prompted by the news headlines of some tragic event, I go to a morbid place and I imagine what would happen if I lost my children. Just the thought makes me feel vulnerable and helpless. I imagine that if I were to lose my children, I would break down. I'd shut down. I'd crawl into ball on the floor and want to never get back up.

Before I became a mom, I was an individual. Untied, untethered, in charge. I controlled my feelings. I controlled my future (or so I believed). I was strong and independent. But the second my first baby was born, everything changed. And I didn't even realize it. Suddenly, I was tethered to this new soul, an impenetrable tie that could not be seen.

My body has created two boys (three boys). They are individuals, with their own choices to make, their own lives to live, their own paths to travel. They will grow up, severe their ties to me, and move onward. But I will never be free again. I am no longer an individual in charge of my own fate and my own future and my own feelings. My will to live is and will forever be inextricably tied to them. They are my first thoughts every morning and my last thoughts every evening. My life is now governed by their well being and their very existence. And this is scary.

If anything bad happens to them, I will feel it tenfold. I survived just fine before them. But now that my heart has known them, I don't believe I could survive in their absence. I can't imagine wanting to. They make me vulnerable. Each one adds to my vulnerability. Before they were born, I could hold my happiness close and keep it carefully guarded. But now, my happiness is tied to them. Everything important in my life now exists outside my own body (well, I guess 2/3rds of everything important in my life). This exposes me to an entire new world of dangers and harms and horrible possibilities.

Sometimes the vulnerability is so overwhelming that I feel like I'm suffocating in it. I read blog posts and news headlines and Facebook statuses of tragedy and sadness and I feel like I am standing on a tiny plank hovering above a deep crevasse. All it would take is a strong wind to knock me down. Strong winds appear to be randomly knocking down people around me. Even those who are faithful to God are subject to these tragedies. No one is safe from sadness and hardship and tragedy. And being a mother only ensures one thing: the pain of tragedy will be stronger.

I've been trying to think of a way to end this post on a happy note. But nothing feels genuine. Despite the darkness of this post, however, my heart is happy and full. The boys make me that way. They have given me a type of love that I never knew until I became a mom. And yes, it's a selfless, vulnerable love entirely dependent upon things beyond my control, but it's also the most fulfilling love that there is.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Great Staycation of 2014

I'm currently enjoying the exact midpoint of a week-long "vacation." This has been my first week-long vacation, probably since my maternity leave in 2012. But geez, it's been anything but slow-paced. We originally had planned a four day get-away down along the Oregon coast but had to scrap those plans when we realized that, although Jacob doesn't start school this week, he had several back-to-school activities on the calendar.

Plan B was quickly formed. Plan B turned out to be a staycation in Seattle. We live an hour-long ferry boat ride from Seattle but we rarely venture into the city. It's always such a long trip with the ferry rides. There must usually be a very compelling reason to get us to head to the big city. As it turns out, a two night staycation is the perfect reason!

Ferry ride


My husband was sick the first night so I headed out to the city alone with the kids. Just my 32 week pregnant self, a meticulously packed double stroller, and two kids. I thought it was going to be a disaster but the kids were very well-behaved. My guess is that this had something to do with all the new sights, activities, and adventures.

Miner's Landing
 

We spared no splurges. So of COURSE we rode the carrousel. I don't remember carrousels going so fast, or maybe it's the fact that there is another human protruding from my front, but I almost lost my balance several times.



Walking Pike Place Market for the first time that day. I LOVE this stroller. We have a double Mountain Buggy. This thing is intense. I've taken it hiking on steep, rocky terrain. I've run with it on every kind of trail/path you can imagine. But it has also proven to be an amazing everyday, city stroller as well. It turns so easily and feels light, even when it is carrying 70+ pounds of children. This is my absolute favorite possession on earth.


It was really awesome to see the city through the kids' eyes. Everything was new and interesting. Even the boring old things I had passed a million times during my Seattle commute days. The mundane became enthralling. The simplest things captivated their attentions and inspired their admiration. Kids are simply the best. And so are staycations! I've decided that staycations are awesome for at least three reasons: (1) you already know all the best places/attractions to visit, (2) you already know how to get everywhere and the best modes of transportation for doing so, and (3) the money you save on mileage/airfare can be spent on fun little splurges.

The city became Jacob's playground.


And I couldn't resist a picture with my celebrity boyfriend. Hey, he ran into MY lips.

 
The "Gum Wall" in Post Alley. The walls are COVERED in chewed gum. Some people were very creative and wrote their name in long strings of chewed up gum. The kids thought this was AWESOME. I'm pretty sure they loved this more than any of the expensive attractions. Go figure.

 
Jacob made his contribution to the Gum Wall.


My favorite story from the first day stars Ryan's special blanket. Ryan has a special fleece blanket that I sewed for him (see photos of the stroller above for a picture of blankie). One side has Elmo and the other side has monkeys on it. He sleeps with it every night. It goes wherever we go. It is the fifth member of our family. On our long walk to the hotel, it must have somehow slipped out of the stroller, un-noticed, while Ryan was napping.

We got to the hotel room, dropped off our stuff, went out to eat, then did a little shopping. We still hadn't noticed it was missing. After dinner we walked back downtown to the big Ferris wheel (my 32 week pregnant self did a HECK of a lot of walking and stroller pushing, I deserve some kind of award!).

As we were walking along to the waterfront, I spied a familiar object sitting in a basket attached to a bicycle that was parked on the street. The bike looked like it belonged to a "residentially challenged" person. The bike basket had a tambourine, a box of leftover food, and a pair of pants. Sitting on the very top looked like a blanket similar to Ryan's. "That's a coincidence", I thought and kept walking, "someone has a blanket like Ryan's." It took me a full second to realize that no one could have the same blanket as Ryan because I MADE his blanket!

I stared at the blanket in disbelief. "OMG, that's Ryan's blanket!" I checked all the nooks and crannies of the stroller to confirm that our blanket was indeed not there. I was in shock. I hadn't even noticed it was missing! And it had been about four hours since we must have dropped it. How insane that it would happen to appear right in front of us! This left me in an awkward position. The owner of the bike was nowhere to be seen. I thought I would find him/her and convince him/her to trade the blanket for a couple dollars. I wondered if I would have to plead and beg. Ryan saw his blanket and immediately started asking me for it in a sad puppy-dog voice.

I stood and stood. I looked around. And around. And around. I couldn't find anyone who might be the owner of the bike. A couple people were staring at me like I was a madwoman. And that's exactly how I felt. But I didn't know what else to do. That blankie is Ryan's prized possession. So...I did what I believe any mother would do. I reached in the homeless person's bike basket, sheepishly retrieved the blankie, and continued walking away as quickly as I could. I'm sure I looked strange. But all I could feel was relief at knowing that a disaster had been averted and Ryan's blankie was safe (although dirty and probably covered in germs). I also felt bad that the homeless person was minus a blanket...but not THAT bad.

I was still recovering from the whole ordeal as we made our second trip to Pike Place Market and down to the Great Wheel.






The famous Pike Place Pig. Ryan was perched precariously on his back and I was sure he would tumble down any moment. That didn't stop me from taking advantage of the photo-op.

 
We found this cool little park near our hotel. It's amazing how much a city changes when you don't visit it for nearly a year!
 

 
The kids were sad our hotel didn't have a pool (I don't know if any of the downtown hotels have one). So we improvised.
 
 
Ryan passed out quickly. It's hard work being pushed in a stroller all day!
 
 
Our first day was so much fun. That night was a different story, however. After dinner, I got sick myself. Runny nose, horrendous sore throat, fever, and chills. I somehow managed to tuck the kids into bed in a sickly stupor and then I simultaneously shivered and burned to death in my bed. I was so miserable. I don't remember being that sick in a long time. I was still wide awake at 2am. I felt like my head was going to explode from being so hot while my body shivered incessantly. I finally snuck out of the hotel room and found a vending machine in the lobby that dispensed Tylenol. I felt better after that but it was still a rough night.

The next morning the kids and I had breakfast at Starbucks. It was so fun to be out and about in the city with them.


Then we headed out to the Seattle Center to walk in the shadow of the Space Needle and hang out at the Science Center. To get there, we took to Monorail from Westlake Center. Aside from the Gum Wall, this may have been the highlight of their trip.


 
The shadow of the Needle.
 
 
I hadn't been to the Science Center since I was...probably 6. I remember my mom taking me to a brand new dinosaur exhibit featuring moving dinosaur displays. I was so happy to discover that the same exhibit was still a permanent feature! It was just as I remembered, except much, much smaller and much less scary.

 
There was a very cool bug exhibit which even had an 85 degree butterfly house. I almost died in the humidity of the butterfly house. But the kids loved getting up close and personal with the butterflies.



Then we saw a 3-D Imax movie about lemurs. Ryan refused to wear the 3D glasses after I snapped this picture. But that didn't stop him from enjoying watching blurry "monkeys" jump around the screen. He passed out in my arms halfway through and I nearly lost a limb from lack of blood circulation.


Later that day we met up with dad (thank goodness for reinforcements!). And took obligatory Space Needle photos.


I love this little man and his grin. For him, I'd stick my arms in a homeless man's bicycle basket any day!


My loves :)
 



Overall, it was an exhausting but fantastic trip! I loved sharing the city with them. Maybe we will return in a couple years when we are a family of five.