Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas outfits

We had our third "First Christmas" in a row this year! It was Caroline's turn and she was SO excited about it she pooped her pants (haha!). Really, though, she WAS excited about some very cute Christmas outfits she received, so I had to oblige and take the week to try them all on. She sure was festive! Thanks to everyone who supplied such great gear! And if you see her wearing them a few weeks after Christmas, don't mind me, they're just too cute to put away after wearing once, AND the 12 days of Christmas actually come AFTER Christmas, so I figure I've got until early January anyway.
Bustin' a move to "Jingle Bells"
Caroline throwing up some of her own moves
Her pirate eye in her Christmas onsie, the least cute of all - probably because I bought it. Typical.
Not a Christmas outfit, but it's rare that she showcases BOTH eyes, so I had to include it
Mom actually got dressed and ready! A Christmas miracle!

Monday, December 20, 2010

...and here we all are

It's a little tricky to get the entire family in one photo, and FORGET getting everyone to smile at the camera, so this is what we've got so far. Hope you like it! If not, well, YOU take the picture next time, eh? Actually, my sister Elsha DID take a picture (seen here), and it turned out about the same. Soon we'll hit up an actualy photo studio, I swear :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sometimes

Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Story

Here's the story of Caroline's delivery - a short story about a very short delivery! I went into labor at 11:30 p.m. when my water broke. We rushed to the hospital while a friend came to the house to stay with the boys. We arrived around 12:15 a.m. and when the nurse checked me I was already at 9 cm. Only a few minutes later I had the overwhelming urge to push and about four great pushes later, at 12:39 a.m., Caroline was born! Thank goodness we got there so quickly!
For more invested folks, like my sisters (oh, wait, they've already heard it!), here are the little details. I'd been dilated to 3 cm for a week, so all week I'd been physically preparing for labor. You know, the important things like getting my bags packed, picking out an outfit for me and the baby, and giving myself a nice pedicure and shaving my legs (easier said than done!). I went to my OB for a regular checkup Tuesday morning, and having my cervix checked immediately started up some contractions - nothing strong or regular, but definitely crampy and uncomfortable. I remained crampy and uncomfortable for about 4 hours before deciding this was stupid; I knew just a little nudge would gets things moving from unproductive to full-blown labor, so the boys and I hit up Walgreens for some castor oil. Worked last time, worked this time (if you couldn't guess the end of this story)! I took some about 4:00 and remained crampy and uncomfortable the rest of the evening before going to bed at 8:00, figuring things would get kicked off in the morning, much like Eli's delivery. I caught a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, but at 11:30 woke up to some strong, regular contractions. During about the 4th contraction I heard/felt a "POP!" and it immediately turned into the most intense contraction ever - like night and day! From that moment on contractions were SUPER hard, right on top of each other. Judging from my very wet lap, I rolled to the slide, smacked Joe and said "my water broke! call Kathy!" and then ran to the bathroom where the fun began (or is being in labor NOT fun? I forget...) Luckily my friend Kathy must have played sports because she put in some serious hustle and got here faster than I knew it was possible from her house, a solid 10+ minute drive; she stayed the night with the boys while Joe and I threw ourselves into the car (OK, I may have had help getting thrown) for the 15 minute drive to the hospital. Joe was a controlled speeder (15 over isn't bad, right? The 3 cops he saw on the way didn't think so, or didn't want to mess with the lady screaming in the front seat [yes, I get very loud during labor]) and the lights were all flashing yellow (except the red turn light he blew, which I thanked him for during labor, it's THAT BAD of a turn to wait for) so we got there in record time.
Admission was pretty quick, considering, but I had registered at the hospital that morning (procrastinator that I am!) and the person entering my records put down January 22nd as my due date, saying if I went over my due date I would get kicked out of the system and then have to fill out all the info again, only during labor. Whatever, I didn't care if she changed the date so long as I was registered, but the NURSES cared because they thought I was delivering a baby 6 weeks prematurely! So they were scampering for a preemie tent and all kinds of high-tech gear before I caught on to the error and assured them I would be delivering a healthy full-term baby. All in all, I'm kind of impressed I caught on EVER because as soon as I got into the delivery room I the nurse checked me and I was already at 9 cm and within 4 or 5 contractions I was feeling the urge to push, so by golly I was PUSHING! The doctor hadn't even arrived! I guess the doctor played sports, too, because she hustled and was scrubbed up by the time the baby was crowning, about 2 pushes later, and she delivered the shoulders, about 1 push later. Also, it must have been a contact sport because Joe said she was punching me in the leg and throwing elbows trying to get my attention to tell me to STOP SCREAMING and PUSH. I was unaware of her agressiveness, being preoccupied with pushing, and she was unaware of my auditory intensity; that is, the more intense things get, the louder I get. I'm not screaming in lieu of pushing, I'm actually AIDING my push because there is more energy in me than I can simply push out my hoo-ha at one time. Anyway, 4 great pushes and I'd had a baby within 20 minutes of arriving at the hospital! Ahhhhh, it was SO GREAT to be done! My recovery has been amazingly quick, even quicker than recovering from Eli (assuming I don't act retarded and try to conquer the world and end up hurting myself), and right now the most sore part of my is my TAILBONE from SITTING and doing NOTHING in the hospital for 2 days - ahhhh, sweet relaxation!
Now I have had three VERY different birth stories so I feel like I can throw in my 2 cents on things. Actually, it's my blog so I can throw my 2 cents around wherever and whenever I want to, but experience maybe buys me FOUR cents of authority... so for naysayers who have only had short labors and assume that long labors must be less painful and intense, you are mistaken! Even long labors end up painful and intense, only by the end you have SUFFERED through hours of extremely painful contractions and you are physically and mentally exhausted. At least with this labor I was well-rested and just kinda skipped first, second, and third base and headed straight for home! Even without the epidural I was hoping for (I've already earned me medal of honor with one drug-free labor, I was hoping for some medical relief this time) I would say it is hands-down WAY better to just get it done. There. 2 cents.
For my 2 days in the hospital the boys visited 3 times and are IN LOVE with their baby sister. Patrick takes great pride in his ability to be gentle and to help out. Here he is helping keep her quiet by patting her while he watched a little TV :) And here he is helping give her pats while she was freaking out wanting to nurse - she's already a hungry little monster! He kept apologizing, "I sorry," possibly thinking it was his pats that were making her cry. Or apologizing that mom wasn't feeding her, I'm not really sure.
The nurse helped out by taking a quick photo of the whole family. I am still in shock that we have three kids - Heaven help us, and pass the advice!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caroline Noel Jacobs

So, Kirsta and Caroline are still at the hospital but Patrick really wants to share pictures of his new little sister with the world so I guess posting this is up to me.


Here she is, Caroline Noel Jacobs......... 7 pounds 2 ounces, 21 inches long and making her appearance to the world at 12:39 am this morning.

Kirsta and Caroline together after the quick delivery.

And some photos with proud big brothers and a happy mom. (Poor Kirsta. Patrick and Eli didn't give her any rest from being a human jungle gym in her awesome moving hospital bed)




Patrick couldn't wait to hold Caroline when we got into the room. I think the look on his face says it all.... he is pretty happy to be a big brother to a little sister. He already told me that he loves Caroline the most (sorry Eli).

I guess I will have to ask him again in about 14 years when he is having to share a bathroom with her in the mornings. I bet his opinion will change and Eli will be back in the running as his favorite.


















Monday, December 13, 2010

Trains

We visiting Grand Junction for Thanksgiving (I know, been a while!) and though Joe had the whole week off work we weren't sure I would be able to avoid working, with Black Friday in retail and all that jazz. We wouldn't know my schedule until very close to time, too close to buy tickets for a decent price, but we wanted to have an adventure and have the boys ride the train, so we settled for a nice compromise and Joe took the train with Patrick down the Junction while Eli and I drove; that way we had a car in case we needed to be back early for me to work, with the added bonus that the train ride is 7 hours and Eli was probably going to be a terror by the end of it. Joe said they had a good time, though after about 4 or 5 hours Patrick was just ready for it to be over, and after 40+ tunnels he was a little freaked out by tunnels... but maybe we'll do it as a family in a few years! Excellent viewing car views! I love the drive to Junction because of the scenery, so I can imagine I would love it even more from a train. Patrick had lots of leg room! He really wanted to touch the train wheels, but dad said no. As we guessed, the best part about trains is being outside the train looking at it - once you're stuck inside, the luster wears off.

Why fight it?

It's been too long to try to catch up, so I'll just start back on random posts about random things and you can fill in the large gap that yes, we are doing well.

We were given a bird feeder during the summer but never actually filled it with birdseed until this past week, when Joe bought birdseed for an acticity with his sunday school kids at church. We were very excited to see the birds flock the the feeder, and the boys loved to watch, since it's right outside our patio doors. A few days later I set out our pumpkins, which we never carved, since it was time to get rid of fall decorations and put up Christmas stuff. I suppose I could have painted Santa faces on them instead of jack-o-lanters, but I decided to feed the birds/squirrels with them. I cut them in half and sure enough, birds and squirrels alike were attracked to such yummy fare. Now this probably would have happened eventually, but my pumpkin enticements may have expedited the process, and the squirrels found the birdfeeder and have turned themselves from "cute li'l backyard critters" into "annoying backyard pests that scare off the birds and climb all over our porch and DO NOT scare away when you go outside - CREEPY!" So Joe took matters into his own hands, literally, and brought out his air rifle. I thought FOR SURE we were going to get the cops called on us by our neighbors, guns ARE loud, ya know! But it turns out that air rifles are not quite guns and are NOT loud so Joe had ots of fun popping off a few rounds at the bold squirrels. He claims his rifle needs to be sighted in, since he never got a kill shot, but I think maybe he just didn't want to kill them in front of Patrick (I do NOT think he's a bad shot, he's shown me up plenty of times before!). It probably wouldn't have mattered, Patrick was loving the action - when one squirrel darted away before Joe had a shot Patrick ran outside and yelled "come back, squirrel! My daddy wants to shoot you!" Ahhhhh, CLASSIC.

Now just le me know if you want to stop being friends because we are too hillbilly, I'll totally understand :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sleeping Beauties

We've found the boys in pretty funny sleep positions lately, so we had to take some pictures.
Although I've never before been a fan of such long, dark hours I am really starting to LIKE it! Eli goes to bed when it's dark (6:00 or soon thereafter) and wakes up when it's light (7:30) - it's crazy! Such great nights have whittled him down to one nap during the day, but whatever, it's amazing to have such a quiet evening. Where I used to dread the evenings because from 5:00 I'd be longing for bedtime that was still hours away, now it's, "5:00! Dinner, baths, pajamas, and I'm DONE!" Likewise, Patrick goes to bed at 7 and gets up at 7, so the long, dark wintery evenings are beginning to be something I look forward to. Happy sleeping!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Belly

I guess I've updated on the kids but have done a decent job of leaving Joe, me, and my waistline out of the picture (literally, there are extremely few photos of us). Me and the waistline have been MIA for good reason - we're getting to THAT stage of the game, where it's nice that I'm obviously pregnant, but not nice that my face feels the need to also be carrying around some extra weight, like if I didn't get my standard 6 meals a day my body could feed off my cheeks and chin. Case in point:Not the most flattering, and I'm not even seriously tucking my chin! All things considered, I'm thinking of switching my MO to "likes being pregnant" (which is good because I've been pregnant roughly 27 months of the 42 months we've been married); there are downfalls (and double chins) but there are also naps, fun maternity clothes, and the general miracle of life that I am reminded of every time there's a foot in my ribs. I like when people ask about my pregnancy, I even like when people want to tough "the belly," but I have to admit that I am kind of a brat when it comes to discussing the gender - I am very lucky that I am healthy and the baby looks healthy, and that's really all anyone can ask for! But when I mention (or people see) that I have two boys they assume I must be DYING for a girl. To date I have had NOBODY ask, "are you hoping for another boy?" but countless people HAVE asked, "are you hoping for a girl?" And maybe I get bratty because actually I WAS hoping for a boy! I've got the right size clothes in the right seasons, all the right toys and books, I know how the clean the nooks and crannies on those seriously poopy diapers, and I wanted our kids close in ages so they would be great playmates. I couldn't ask for much closer than 13 months, and I'm sure they'll play together, but they just play differently! It can't last the same way that my sisters and I played Barbies when we were 6 and now scrapbook together when we're 26. So while I was looking forward to a guilt-free couple-year break without pregnancy and babies, now I feel like there's a little bit of (self-applied) pressure to try for another girl after this one's born so SHE'LL have someone to play with when she gets a little bigger. Which, of course, could backfire and she'll be the meat in an all-brother sandwich, but at least we gave it a try! Anyway, here's me and baby #3 at 33 weeks.

Now for Joe - there's no real reason he hasn't been mentioned much. His winter scruff would hide a double-chin, too, so no reason I don't have any photos! Shame on me. He is busy at work, as usual, continuing as a Project Engineer at the CU dorms job. For a few glorious weeks I gave up getting up with him before he left for work because the boys were both sleeping until 8 a.m., so I slept in, too. He usually leaves around 6:30 a.m. and gets home at 6:30 p.m., Mon-Fri with the occasional Saturday shift as well. When CU is done in the spring we don't know what's next, so we'll just wait and see where he'll be commuting - hopefully not far! He's doing incredibly well, though, he is very good at his job and looking forward to becoming an Assistant Project Manager in the next year or so. While we miss him tons during the day (Eli gets up at 7 and goes to bed at 7, so he only sees him 30 minutes a day) we appreciate how he provides for our family, and the boys always get their "dad time" on Saturdays while I go in to work for a few hours. It works out nicely to have at least a little balance that way.

This weekend there is LOTS of balance because I don't have to worry about anyone! Joe took the boys to his parents' house for the weekend; he's going hunting nearby for a few days for deer/elk, so they'll have a sleepover while he has a campout! BRRRRRRR! I'm totally nervous but I also realise that worrying won't change anything so I've made a list of things to keep myself busy while they're gone, like update my blog (done!) and do a whole heap of scrapbooking.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Birthday

Happy Early Birthday, Eli!
Let's see... one year ago I was feeling some nasty effects of castor oil and hoping for the best...
We celebrated early as a family because I forgot to request Tuesday, Eli's actual birthday, off from work. We didn't mind having cake a day early, though, and we didn't think the kids would, either. Patrick helped me bake, sample, and decorate the cake. Eli also sampled, and they both approved. We ate cheesy hamburger helper for dinner in honor of Eli, who I knew would scarf that down since cheese and noodles are his favorites. After dinner was cake and ice cream (of course), and unlike for my neice Amelia's 1st birthday I put this "1" facing the correct way. I'll get the hang of these so-called "numbers" one of these days!Eli immediately picked up his entire slice of cake and Joe and I were excited to see him shove it in his mouth, but after picking it up he just didn't know what to do with it! He held it for a few minutes and we had to help him out by putting it back on his tray and feeding it to him (which he gets bored of quickly) and then letting him feed himself. He loves to use utensils, so if he's bored of the eating process I just bust out a fork and he's got a second wind! Even pb&j is better when eaten with a fork. He polished off his slice and BOTH boys had to head to the bathtub before presents, hence the pajamas. Eli had no idea what to do with the gifts, even though I made it as easy as possible - he likes the destroy the REST of the house, but pull tissue paper out of a bag to uncover a surprise? I think not! So Patrick helped, and immediately commandeered each toy as it was uncovered. He got some movies (OK, the movies are for Patrick right now, but Eli will enjoy them eventually) and an electronic book that sings and interacts and some wooden toy food for the play kitchen. I've been so looking forward to the play food - the boys love playing with the kitchen and I've had it equipped with empty spice bottles and juice boxes, but the pretend stuff is SO CUTE! Eli liked to eat the pretend stick of butter and Patrick poured me juice and heated me up a package of bologna as a sandwich - yummm! I'm looking forward to seeing how the gifts play out over time - sometimes the things you think will be GREAT are dusty and forgotten and the things you'd never expect are their favorites. Then again, sometimes you're right on the money. I think these gifts are all right on the money!

Halloween

Halloween was awesome! My pictures? Not so much. We had a great night hanging with friends, having some heartburn-inducing chili for dinner (washed down with a heartburn-inducing glass of water - I'm definitely need some heartburn prescription!) before we headed out for free candy. Patrick was excited to be a dino until he learned Anna was going to wear a costume, too, then he wanted to go as a costume... and on the way to their house he kept saying "I see Halloween!" We got to explain that Halloween is a day, not a place, and costumes are what you WEAR, not what you are DRESSED AS. Pretty tricky! Anna (aka Mary Poppins) was always the head of the trick or treating pack, but Patrick and Isaac (aka Bert) caught on quickly to the drill.

Step 1: say "Trick or Treat," preferably to the person passing out candy, but often to a yet-unopened door, or not at all if that person was anything scarier than a normal human being.

Step 2: Hold out bag, but as often as not get all flustered by the crowd and forget to actually GET the candy.

Step 3: Say "thank you!" and try not to fall down the stairs. Isaac's hat hindered his line of sight (I guess I got a good shot of THAT) and Patrick's dino feet were twice the size he's used to, so this was probably the hardest one of all!
Eli chilled with mom or whined with dad (dad's good, but he's no mom) and generally enjoyed the amazing weather without feeling the need to ask for candy on top of it all. This isn't exactly the best view of Eli's costume, but you can be sure he was a darn cute dino, possibly even an overheated one. The weather was CRAZY nice!
Anyway, our holiday turned out wonderfully, but I'm glad it's over! I never really got into the spirit, so I just felt guilty the whole time like I was gypping my kids out of some amazing childhood experience! Pretty sure they're not going to remember that we never actually carved those pumpkins we bought... maybe next year :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

obsession

Patrick is obsessed with dinosaurs, as I've mentioned, so the logical choice for a Halloween costume was a dinosaur. Luckily, I also found one in Eli's size (though I didn't take a picture of it - where Patrick was reluctant to ever take his off, Eli is reluctant to ever put his on) so we've got TWO scary dinosaurs this year. So anyway, if you see a T-Rex in your neighborhood, don't be alarmed! Just give him candy and he'll go away :)
Check out that tail! He likes to "bonk" with it, like an Ankylosaurus.
Roooooaaaaaar! Scary headgear. It gets played with more than it gets worn (he likes to eat his plastic dinosaurs with it). We'll see how many houses it lasts through (my optimistic guess is 3).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

walk this this way

I wanted to post this video when it was fresh; now Eli is much better at walking than this, even. I think he practices in his crib after naps because I don't remember that Patrick got the hang of it this quickly. From taking his first steps only 2 weeks ago, now he can stand up unassisted in the middle of the room to start walking, and even change directions. What a big guy!

I looked out the window and what did I see?

A HAWK! Eating his breakfast on our woodpile, which was kinda yucky (especially when he flew away and left some bloody scraps and feathers), but mostly it was really awesome! Patrick was pretty excited about it, too, and Eli was so excited he decided to scare it off by banging on the windows. Thanks, li'l buddy :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Updates on Patrick

Building a bridge for his dinosaurs to fight under.

In general, Patrick is good - just an awesome 2 1/2-year old who surprises me every day. He's not good at the moment, though; he picked up hand/foot/mouth disease and has had the WORST TIME of it. It gives kiddos rashes on their hands and feet and possibly bum, then sores in their mouthes. Both boys got it, both had mild fevers, both had mild rashes, but while Eli got over it, Patrick has the sorriest looking mouth you've ever seen - he won't stick out his tongue to show Joe, but I've seen at least 3 horrendously large, white, broken clisters on the bottom of his tongue, and I'm assuming he has others around his cheeks/gums/etc. We heard it was pretty mild, Tylenol should get him through the trauma of eating, but NOT SO. It's been 72 hours since he had any solid food, poor guy, though he keeps asking for it and then BAWLING as soon as he puts it in his mouth. Day 1 we figured this would be quick, so we stuck with milk and gatorade. Day 2, still no go on anything but liquids, so we added fruit & yogurt smoothies to the mix. Day 3 we realized we could be in it for the long haul, so breakfast yesterday morning was a smoothie with a banana, peanut butter, milk, and 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal - breakfast from the blender! He drank it all down, but hasn't had anything since. We read it generally lasts about a week, but COULD last 2-3 weeks... this morning he woke up in good spirits and hasn't taken medicine in over a day, so I hope we're on the downhill slope! I am already dreading that this may be a long winter with lots of illness unless I quarantine our family until May of 2011, which brings its own set of things to dread, like cabin fever a la "The Shining."



But whether it's 2 more days or 2 more weeks I know he WILL get over this eventually, so up until now, and after this bout, here's what Patrick has been up to: spending lots of time on his own. Every day he is allowed to watch a movie while Eli takes a nap. Since he stopped napping movies have been his "down time" and generally stave off evening tantrums, with the added benefit that I get to take my own nap during this time. He initially woke me up numerous times for his needs but has become completely independant lately, which is AWESOME - he can go potty without any assistance whatsoever, he has one glass of juice and knows he won't get another snack til I wake up, and when his movie is done he takes it out of the DVD player and puts it on top of the TV (which he turns off) and then goes and plays by himself until I get up. It's CRAZY, and I like to think he is exceptionally self-sufficient for a 2-year-old. Am I right? He plays trains, reads himself books, digs in the sandbox, gets out all his dinosaurs for a dino-brawl... I've said before that my house is not baby-proof, it's Patrick-proof, and this is just an example of that. Let any other 2-year-old loose in my house without supervision and it would be destroyed, I'm sure.

Outside of my nap time and his play time, he is currently obsessed with dinosaurs. We get the $1 dinos from WalMart, which have the names on their tails, and he is incredible at remembering and pronouncing their names - not just T Rex, but Pachycepholasaurus and Parasauralophus and ankylosaurus... and he corrects me when I misname one! Heaven forbid! So we read lots of dinosaur books and got him a dino costume for Halloween, I figure it's a good love to encourage! Certainly I can think of much more annoying things that kids falls in love with... He is still the world's sweetest boy and LOVES to snuggle and read books, indicating how many he'd like to read by holding up that number of fingers - sometimes ten, sometimes two, depending on how long he's trying to put off bedtime. No matter how many books we read, though, he still wants "four minutes 'fore bedtime," silly boy. He pets my face and smiles and tells me "you happy to see me!" to which I am required to answer "I'm always happy to see you." If he gets in trouble his defense is "you happy to see me!" with a sob in his throat and a tear in his eye, or if I'm yelling at him he yells at me, "you happy to see me!" so because I'm happy to see him (aka I love him) I can't yell or get him in trouble, I guess. I've been working on explaining the difference between me loving him and me NOT loving that he just hit Eli :) He likes to look at pictures, and my scrapbooks have made a handy reference to how babies grow and his family on both sides, but he often requests pictures we don't have, like "daddy and Fafa on an airplane." Sorry, bud, I don't have pictures of EVERYTHING! Hmmmm... there are 10 bajillion things to write, but I think this is quite long enough!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Updates on Eli


Eli has by far the most to update on - it's been such a busy month! He started standing solo, gradually going from 2 second to 10 seconds or more, but before he even got very good at that (honestly, he's still not a pro) he decided some steps were in order. He started walking nearly two weeks ago, Tuesday night while I was at work. What a li'l stinker, walking for daddy and not me. Joe was on top of it, though, and got the camera out for a few quick videos for me. Unfortunately I can't seem to post them, I'll try again soon. His walking style is like "lead with your arms and head, and hope your feet follow," he's not timid at all! Probably from having a brother that beats on him no matter WHAT he's doing, so he might as well be walking away and bonk his own face in the process.

He's also been talking a lot more and started babbling "mama" - guess that makes up for showing dad his walking skills, huh? He got his 8th tooth - I guess I'd better be including him in our nightly teeth-brushing bedtime routine! He likes to read and will mostly sit still with Patrick on my overloaded lap while we browse a few board books together. His favorite thing to do is follow Patrick around, and when they play outside they can stay out there, alone, doing their own thing, for over an hour! It's nuts! I'm so grateful we had them so close together, they are wonderful playmates. Other than playing mini-me, he likes to load/unload toys/diapers/utensils from bins, and throw things upstairs/downstairs/in the trashcan. He will crawl from the living room across to the kitchen trash just to throw away his perfectly good toy, unassisted. He's our little helper :) He still takes a bottle, but I hear 12 months is a good time to wean kids and it will give us a bit of a buffer before baby girl arrives so SHE can have a bottle if she needs one (I plan on nursing, but am definitely more open to bottles after the good experience we had with Eli), so it's good that he is also comfortable using sippy cups of all kids, plus straw sippies like Patrick uses. HE'S probably ready for some switches, from formula and cow's milk, from rear-facing car seat to front-facer, from bottles to sippy cups, but I am not. In my head he is still my baby, and babies don't do any of those things.

Maybe it'll hit home a little more when the BABY baby arrives and all of a sudden he's like Goliath - a walking, babbling, self-feeding Goliath. But then again, I'd like it if he could stay a baby for just a few more months, he was such a good one! I miss you, baby Eli!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

de-funked

I made good on my promise to avoid blogger until at least October, meaning no posting as well as no reading (really the source of my troubles, it doesn't take too long to post, generally). While at first it felt tough, after a while I appreciated the extra time and tried to make good use of it elsewhere, which really paid off. So for a quick recap of my month...

After leaving off on the most sour note I can imagine, Joe and I had a few days of intense discussion about housework, jobs, child-rearing, etc, and after much gnashing of teeth we came to a remarkably simple solution: after we put the kids to bed we should clean together for 20 minutes. I will continue to do my best during the day to keep the house from burning down or being overrun with garbage, but since we both know that wasn't cutting the mustard, we will combine forces. 20 minutes is quick, so we don't feel like we're losing our evening to cleaning, and with 2 people doing it it's really equivalent to 40 minutes of MY time, so a lot gets done. And what doesn't get done probably wasn't that important anyway. This isn't a hard-and-fast rule, either - if the house is good enough for us and we're just not feelin' it, forget the 20 minutes. Like I said, it seems pretty simplistic after all that I wrote, but it seems to solve the problem of me feeling overwhelmed and him feeling like it's still not good enough.

Enter problem #2, where barely 2 weeks later Joe thought it was another *really good idea* to drop bombs on a pregnant lady and tell her "I don't feel like we're in love anymore." THAAAAAANKS. Because you telling me I wasn't good enough TOTALLY made me feel in love with you, too. Fortunately, I suppose, we lost that loving feeling (whoa-ah, whoa-ah, whoa) at the same time, so we were both ready and willing to work on it. Also fortunately I happened to be reading a relationship book at the time that gave me some insights and ideas. So while the bomb should have been pretty big, it was more like a dud, and within the hour we'd made a pact to start ACTING like we were in love. We weren't missing anything huge in our marriage, but we were missing the little things that add up to something that feel huge, so we each need to work on adding back the little things, like giving REAL kisses when the other gets home, hugging more often, calling during the day to check in, leaving little notes, bringing each other surprises from whatever we were doing that day, etc. Everything that's natural when you're dating and wooing but becomes a bit of a chore when you've already got your plate loaded with kids and home responsibilities. We even went on our first date in a long time, and it was a huge success! I was only in charge of picking the babysitter instead of the date, time, place, etc. BIG step in the right direction!

September was an eye-opener for me, I suppose, that marriage is work. When you're so in love at first it seems like it could NEVER be work, and *obviously* people who have to work at it are doing something wrong or weren't really in love in the first place... but that's ridiculous. From the first week we were dating I KNEW that Joe and I were meant to be together, always. Perhaps somewhat thanks to that knowledge, and thanks to growing up a bit, I know it's still true, but I also know things take work. Time. Effort. 110% from both sides. And if I ever considered starting again, it would be just that - starting this saga ALL OVER AGAIN. And NO THANK YOU. Marriage is difficult, but dating? Life decisions? Blending families? Falling "out of love" and into habit again? It seems roughly 1,000,000x easier and more fulfilling to keep working at it and get it right THIS time. So Joe and I will keep plugging away at reconnecting and I will keep plugging away at being my own personal best. No, not the World's Best Housekeeper, but simply my personal best. And let's anticipate doing this again in a few months because 2-3 nuclear-scale meltdowns a year seems pretty standard for me. Sound good? Good.

I'll update on the boys soon, they're a whole different story!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

So long for now

I went outside tonight to clear my muddled thoughts; the wind and I had a good talk. I couldn’t think inside, where all my guilt lay – it was smothering me like a thick blanket, musty and stuffy, but the wind blew my thoughts clear and let them reorganize and settle so I could see them laid out before me. I think I should go sit in the wind more often. The trouble with thoughts laid bare is that they are not always pleasant. The truth, or truth as it may seem at midnight, is often NOT pleasant. My thoughts tonight were not pleasant. Not of a disturbing sort, but of a depressing and self-evaluating sort. I suppose I should speak to the wind more often for these night-time evaluations, for I have a fear of a lonely funeral, with an obituary that has not much to say because the list of good qualities and deeds was so short. Nobody lists the depressing things in an obituary. But that’s for much later in my life – in fact, the end of my life, whenever that may be. Tonight my thoughts were on myself, which is another unfortunate place to lay your thoughts – it seems wasteful and selfish to take time to consider yourself, inside and out, when you know that nobody else in the world is really considering you, for they are too busy considering themselves. But since I was the only one awake, I had to do it alone. I came to a few meandering conclusions, which I cannot neatly sum up because they are hardly concrete an only barely put into discernable form. But I’ll try, simply to be cathartic.

The generally summary is that I am not, nor will I ever be, enough. I am not a very good mother; I do love my children, but I am not a very good mother, and those are two very different things. I’m not saying they would be better with anyone else because I think that is untrue. They both love me so unfailingly, in spite of my countless faults; a sweet, na├»ve love that does not count the number of fish stick lunches and short-tempered flare-ups. It's good for us to be together, but it would be better if I were better. I am also a very poor housekeeper, to put it plainly. I love having a home, and I like to see it clean, but I dislike putting forth the effort it requires to keep our house looking the way I really love it to look. I don’t mind doing one cleaning project at a time, but the overwhelming number of projects and the never-ending cycle makes me put it aside for a few more minutes, during which another project gets added to the list. I don’t wash the frying pan after breakfast and before I know it, it’s time for lunch and now I have TWO frying pans to wash, which makes me even less inclined to roll up my sleeves. Perhaps it is laziness, perhaps it is merely complacency (not that complacency is not a sin, I am intimately acquainted with my sins), but it certainly is an unappealing character trait and even I am disgusted at myself that I can turn my back on a sink full of muddy dishes that is beginning to smell. That is bad when you are disgusted at yourself. The wind understood me, though, and did not complain. My dear, sweet, loving husband also listened before he went to bed, though it was admittedly his complaints that brought me to my knees. On-edge and grumpy from the moment I got home from work, where I thought I was doing my best to support our family without deserting our family, he claimed repeatedly that he was fine… until the moment he discovered an accidentally broken DVD, when he was admittedly no longer just fine. “We” are careless with our things, and blame must be placed, a millstone of guilt hung shamefully around your neck, and the neck must always be mine because I am the only one who is always home. Even on nights when I am at work, I was home the rest of the day so the evening’s difficulties are my own fault.

I try to be a good wife. I explained again to him tonight my theory of my ring – he gave me a stunning 1-carat solitaire when he proposed marriage and I vowed then, to myself, that I would not let down my end of the bargain – I would be a 1-carat wife. I would serve him hot homemade meals in a clean dining room on clean dishes, and he would be seated surrounded by happy children, clean and well-clothed, and next to a happy wife who had done her hair that day. He works so hard at his job to provide me the opportunity to be this person, he puts stock in me because he believes I will put it back in him. But what am I? What do I do? I have just admitted my failings of home and motherhood, which means I must rightfully admit my failings as a wife, though there is nothing in the world I strive so hard to be as a good wife. I do not clean my home because I enjoy cleaning or because it brings me any great personal satisfaction; I clean my home “so that daddy can be happy when he gets home,” I tell our sons. When daddy is unhappy at home it is because, in her heart, mommy knows she is a failure and has not lived up to her personal vow. Daddy says it’s not true, but the implied and accusing “you” instead of “we” when discussing that carelessness speaks for itself. I told him how embarrassed I am, how terribly guilty I feel when he does housework. I blush when he picks up the broom to sweep the kitchen; I feel a knot grow in my ever-expanding belly when he picks up a fallen chair. He says this should not be true because he is not unhappy to help, but then I know this is untrue because he does not help unless he is unhappy. He does not sweep unless the sandy floor is driving him nuts. He does not pick up the chair unless it has lain lonely and neglected for over a week with no justifiable cause. “We (you) are so careless with things,” yet just last week I threw away a new bucket that was full of hardened mortar that he had not rinsed out, ruining the bucket. I tossed out a wooden airplane, a gift for a 12-year old that was purchased for a toddler, yet he was upset when the toddler broke its wing. Even the crusted bucket of mortar bears my seal of guilt, though, for I should have been able to work on the bathroom while he at his never-ending job, or perhaps I should have rinsed it out for him as the least that I could do after he did such an amazing job laying tile during those long evenings after work. But I didn’t, and the mortar hardened, and I am continually careless and wasteful. The jesting phrase “this is why we don’t have nice things!” felt heavy and burdensome tonight, and my laugh was only one of mild hysteria as I sat crying in the night, repeating “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” And really, that’s it – I don’t know. Don’t know why I am still crying, don’t know why I began crying in the first place – Joe was so good to bring down his walls and talk to me, where I know 3 years ago we would have gone to bed in silence and the gloom would have lasted for days. His reward, of course, is a snotty nose and red-rimmed eyes from a woman who should pull herself together and just clean the house and cook the meals and do her hair and dress the kids, but I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know… I don’t know what else to do.

So tonight what I need to do is let go. What can I let go of that doesn’t hurt any of the things that are already suffering at my careless hand? I cannot be more lax on the house or Joe will surely go insane, I can’t be less interested in our children because they are already ones who need my attention MORE, and I can’t backpedal and become a worse wife because that defeats everything. One big thing that I can give up is blogging. I’ve spent so much time typing this out tonight, which was cathartic for me even as it cast a dreary light on me and my marriage, which is actually NOT dreary (but who would believe me after this?), but blogging takes time it is pretty addictive. A seemingly easy way to pass 5 minutes, but 5 minutes turns into 50 and suddenly we’re back to having waffles again for dinner because I didn’t drag myself away from the computer to cook something healthy, and Joe is coming home to a messy house where toys get stepped on and broken. So I am taking a personal-growth hiatus until at least October. If I can grow into the responsible adult I should be, though, where the “to do” list gets shorter rather than longer by the end of the day, I might let myself come back for some quick updates on the boys. No long ravings about myself, I promise. In the meantime, feel free to stop by our house, I will have a much cleaner home to visit and things will be taken care of for once; perhaps I’ll even have to drop the self-deprecating housewife humor if I find I am decent at cleaning. So good night and goodbye.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Day, Sunshine


I've really enjoyed the warm summer sun drying our clothes on the line - it certainly saves on our energy bill (especially since our ghetto dryer doesn't turn off by itself, which can be a bummer if I remember that 3 hours or so ago I started it - whoops!), it saves me from having to fold a load of hot laundry, and it saves our poor house from getting any hotter from an accidental 3-hour dry cycle. What's been the best, though, is seeing the little kids clothes on the line - it just melts my heart every time! Even as Eli is sitting under the line tossing damp clothes out of the basket and onto the dirt, driving me nuts, the clothes ON the line still make me smile. I love having the sweet baby girl stuff up, but it's even more fun to see it next to the boys' things, realizing what a full family we're going to have. The baby girl stuff is from a very generous friend, and I'm having SO much fun getting all the clothes ready for her arrival, even though it's months away. Gotta line-dry while we can!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Diagnosed

Patrick got a runny nose on Sunday, which is no big deal... well, should be no big deal, but when he gets sick it seems to go straight to his airways. A puny runny nose ended up giving him some serious wheezing/coughing attacks! So we finally got him an appointment with an asthma specialist and they diagnosed him with asthma - THANK GOODNESS!! We were going to be pretty annoyed if they sent us home without any answers or better ways to deal with his attacks because, quite frankly, taking a nap with the nebulizer on is not my idea of a good day.
His diagnosis doesn't mean much, actually - the nurse gave him an allergy test where they exposed his skin to 32 general allergy triggers like cats, dogs, pollen, etc, and he tested negative for everything except cats. Since he doesn't have allergies it is much less likely that his asthma will be life-long, he'll hopefully outgrow it by about age 6 as his airways get bigger. Until then, though, we're able to use much better medications for asthma that can not only help when he has attacks, but also PREVENT attacks. Next time he has a runny nose, we'll be aaaaaaaaall over those meds, and we are looking forward to a MUCH better, less sick winter than last year. Never thought I'd say it, but yay for an asthma diagnosis!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Funny girl

My friend clued me into a blog aimed directly at me - a blog for Not-Very-Good Housekeepers. Ahhhh, finally I can bask in the humor of someone who GETS IT (or perhaps just that she ADMITS IT) rather than trying to measure up to someone whose blogs read like a laundry list of "ways my life is better and more put-together than yours" (which their lives undoubtedly are, but do I need to know? Is that good for my mental well-being? I think not).

It was especially good timing that my friend clued me in, as I had just read an article about housekeeping from someone who admitted they hated it (ME!) and I recommended it to her. Turns out, it's the same person! The outspoken blogger happens to write articles for Parent's Magazine every now and again, and this was one of those articles. Very good stuff! So check her out, she's very funny, and please recommend other links you enjoy - parenting or otherwise. Just what you like to read to blow off steam. Thanks!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Company's coming!

When I hear that phrase, I like to gear up and really run myself ragged. My mom was good at cleaning the house thoroughly before company came, and I thought she was crazy when I was growing up but now I have inherited that mentality, with my own crazy twist on it that makes NO SENSE. See, she adopted cleaning projects to make things look good. I adopt major projects that are INTENDED to make things look EVEN BETTER, but then invariably my ideas backfire...



Some examples:

1. Living in our tiny 1st apartment I was very excited for my family to visit when Patrick was born - we'd just gotten home from the hospital after my c-section, been there one night, and I was trying to pick up the house and get things ready. I maybe have even put in a load of laundry. This isn't anything extraordinary, except that I'd just had a baby via major abdominal surgery, and I should have been RESTING. An hour before they arrived my c-section site began bleeding, I'd developed a hemotoma and had to go to the ER the minute they walked in the door, then stay in the hospital the entire time they visited. The doctors said it wasn't anything that I did that brought on a hemotoma, they just happen, but still, I SHOULD HAVE JUST RESTED.



2. Still in our first apartment, 3 months later, my family was coming again to visit, and though my house was clean and I'd healed up nicely, I wanted to make EVERYTHING sparkle, including Patrick's bottles and my breast pump (like anyone but me CARES about my BREASTPUMP) so I put them all in a nice big pot to boil and sterilize. Then I walked off and went babysitting for 3 hours, coming home to fire trucks, doors busted open, and an apartment that reeked of scorched plastic and rubber products. I SHOULD HAVE JUST RELAXED.


The most recent example is from this past weekend, when we had ALL our company come at once. We had weeks upon weeks' worth of notice, and we've had our downstairs bathroom in need of repair since the day we moved in, but you know what seemed like a really good idea? Tackling this gargantuan project exactly one week before Joe's parents came to town! DUH! And exactly one week and 1 days before MY family came to town! Everyone knows projects don't go as planned, schedules get pushed back, a weekend projects turns into a month of weekends, but we were pretty sure we could still squeeze it into working order if we really pushed ourselves. So we did! We stayed up until midnight most nights for the entire week. This probably wouldn't be such a big deal, we'd just be extra tired, except that Joe got exposed to strep throat and with a SERIOUS lack of sleep his body and immune system were running on empty, so when he got sick he ended up getting sooooooooo sick. I've never seen him in such bad shape! By the time both our families came to town our house was not only in shambles from an unfinished basement bathroom, but Joe was nowhere to be seen - he was sleeping! He slept probably 14 hours a day for 3 days straight, and when he was awake he was thinking about going back to bed. Strep hit the day we were going to grout the tile, so since we couldn't grout we couldn't move the washer and dryer from their prominent positions in the family room, so you could hardly squeeze into the guest room, and the downstairs bathroom was DEFINITELY unusable since, without grout, we couldn't even replace the toilet. Joe's parents got to town first and were planning on staying at his grandma's house for the first few days of their visit, then come stay with us, but thanks to Joe's malady and the wreck of a basement, NOBODY ended up staying at our house... even though everyone was visiting us!

Next time we have company coming I am going to force myself to sit on my hands or read a good book or update my blog so that I don't get all motivated to do something stupid. I think our company would have a much better time in an intact house with intact family members. Our apologies to everyone who visited, but we still had a really great time getting together and showing off our un-grouted bathroom/laundry room. Come again soon, we'll have it completed and you can even access the guest room if you want to stay the night :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dino's and big bro's

When Patrick was a baby everything was new and different and SPECIAL, oh so special! I was pretty sure he was the only baby who did what he did when he did it... not that he was advanced or anything, but it was always surprising to me when we'd hang out with similar age-babies and "hey, they can crawl now, too? Well, I suppose that makes sense..." Now that Eli's got 3/4 of a year under his belt I have had many opportunities to see very similar things at very similar ages and, looking back, I realize Patrick may not have been so completely unique after all. As the demotivator reminds us, "You are unique - just like everybody else." I certainly don't DISLIKE it, I think it's wonderful! And helpful! And fun! Knowing what to look forward to next, knowing better to enjoy it while it's here, and then having something to compare it to side-by side. Like these little videos of our boys at 9 months, roaring like dinosaurs. The difference with Eli is that we HAVE dinosaurs to play with and Patrick models how to use them, so the roaring seems less random. It's so nice to have a big brother to show you the ropes :)
Here is Patrick roaring at nothing in particular while we wait for the doctor.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Our house, in the middle of the steet

We really are in the middle of the street, so maybe that song applies to us... I'll have to actually listen to the lyrics next time...

But let's talk about my house. OK, I'll talk, you listen. Our house has done a lot of wonderful things for us - it shelters from the cold, wind, rain, or blazing sun, it keeps us warm in the winter and doesn't give us heat stroke in the summer (it doesn't keep us cool by any means, but that's an upcoming project, you can be sure). It gives our kids a place to play, and a big yard to run around in. It gives us lots of chores, but we try to make those as much like play as we can (I just need a little bit more of Mary Poppin's talent). It gives us space for our gardens, which will be replanted this fall since I missed out planting summer stuff this year. It gives us a safe place to sleep each night. What it's given Joe and I, though, that we are sort of ridiculously grateful for, is PROJECTS.

When we went house hunting, we wanted a home that needed a lot of TLC without needing a masters electrician's or plumber's license. This helped with the initital purchase price of course, but it has also helped us hone our skills and our relationship. We've had tons of fun painting, scraping and retexturing ceilings, relandscaping, knocking down walls, laying tile, and drawing up plans for future projects as we go. I would say that the planning is more fun than the actual work, but that just isn't true - especially with Joe. During projects, especially in tough spots, I keep expecting Joe to give up, lost his cool, and kick a hole in the wall, and so far? Zero holes. Cuss words, YES, but holes? No. In fact, he's actually very friendly during physical labor, which astounds me! So I know that as we approach a project it will mean not only are we getting rid of something ugly, we are replacing it with something beautiful, and in the meantime I get to spend extra time with Joe who will be in a good mood because of all of the above. It's GREAT! So with an obvious break in work this weekend due to visiting relatives, we have been having a great time re-doing our downstairs bathroom and laundry room. The bathrooms in our house didn't make much sense - we only had two, and one was directly connected to the master bedroom, and the other you have to pass through the utility room to get to. The first we remedied a while back, but this downstairs bathroom has (until now) been the ugliest, most dysfunctional room in the house since we moved in. We ripped out all the flooring and made it one cohesive floor, and fresh paint has certainly helped, and while we still have quite a bit left to do, I wanted to get these before/after photos up because we are just so dang proud of our handiwork! And pride is just what homewornership is all about!

Standing in the utility room, looking into the bathroom. The bright blue bath set doesn't help anything, but let's be honest - it didn't really hurt, either. Notice the change in flooring, from really ugly fauc-wood parquet laminate to really ugly faux marble tiles. There was a 1/2" difference in height, too, since they laid the tile on plywood subflooring (which, when we ripped up the tiles, was black with mold and mildew [or mild-eeeeewwwwwwww!]).
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Awesome wood towel bars, and a counter that made it next to impossible to access the toilet tank should you have an issue.
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Awesome paint job
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Awesome un-grouted tiles used as a backsplash... but also set on top of the existing backsplash. Does that make any sense at all? Anyone? The cabinet had also sustained a fair amount of water damage from some plumbing incident that must have happened before we moved in. Yech.
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Same white/gray faux marble tiles. Seemingly good from this side, when you went to the crawl space it was obvious they had to be ripped out completely, wall and all, because the entire peice of drywall was molded through. We didn't want anyone falling into the crawl space mid-shower, should the moldy drywall decide to give out. .
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This is the floor when we had ripped out the tiles and linoleum, and the green is a GOOD thing! It's a moisture barrier for concrete basements to avoid future issues with adhesion due to damp flooring (the reason they laid plywood down the first place, we think). Although necessary, it sure made the basement look (and smell) pretty funky! .
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Joe bought a small tile saw and just went to town, meauring and cutting and laying out, and it turned out SO WELL! I was so proud, when he decides he's going to do something, he just jumps right in and learns as he goes. I didn't get any shots of that part of the process, but here he is grouting them all in. .
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And here is Eli and I sponging excess grout off the shower tiles, which I grouted (sans Eli) .
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The new floor - all one level, all one design, all looking 1,000X better than before! .
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Our new sink base/countertop. It's not a good picture of it, but it's a nice stain on the wood and a solid surface countertop with an awesome seamless square sink. It has yet to be connected, but isn't it a ton better than the other one? Yeah, we thought so, too :) .
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Lastly, our new shower. Joe simply sawed out the walls with the other tile, we re-drywalled with hardi-backer, which DOES NOT MOLD OR GET DAMAGED WITH WATER (why didn't they use that in the first place?) and then laid these great new tiles, complete with accent border and cool embossed accent squares at the top.

Now, as well as having a fantastic new bathroom (hopefully completed this weekend, just in tome for NOBODY to use it since they've all gone home) we have lots of fond memories of working together and making our dreams happen, one ugly room at a time. Ta-da!