Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Years and Six Months

It's Amazing What Sleep Can Do

We are going on a week in our new "sleep pattern" and I cannot believe the difference in our family. Grant and I no longer dread bedtime, Purslane is back to sleeping almost through the night in her big girl bed and Knox is sleeping solid from 8 to around 6AM with one waking to nurse. I wake up happy to see my sweet family, as opposed to waking up after 2-3 hours of interrupted sleep mad at Grant for being a jerk in the middle of the night, mad at Purslane for screaming and waking up Knox and mad at Knox for not sleeping longer then an hour at a time. I was a grumpy, resentful Mama who constantly begged the universe to just let me SLEEP.

But this poor blog has been sadly neglected. Who wants to spend even two minutes of their day reading the sad incoherent thoughts of a sleep starved woman- even if I did have the time to sit down and churn something out that didn't make you want to go out and kick a puppy?

So here is a photo journal of life the last month. I should be the spokesperson for Physicians Formula Organic Lotion Concealer makeup. I actually don't look like a zombie in some of these pictures.

Go get a mug of coffee and settle in.. it has been quite a month.

Both babes got sick..

Easter Baskets
Same size diapers... we call them the Slim One and the Chubby One

Please focus on excited girl with the Easter egg and not Mama trying to grow out bangs...

Family picture with photo bomb by Grandpa Steele (Knox's namesake)

Notice empty bag of gummies on counter...
It's Time for Funny Faces!

I'm talking to the man in the mirror...
Playing together already...

My sweet Children
"Purslane,please give Knox some space!"

Okay, please don't judge my mothering because I took this picture while he is still crying.. I was so impressed with how far he rolled!

Our lovies- Liz and Jonathan Block on a very short weekend together in New Orleans

Love Pile
I am two.

I am 6 months

A weird picture, I know, but if anyone wonders why Knox is as gimungous as he is..check out the ratio of cream to milk.
My birthday girl

First grandchild gets undivided attention from Gramma and Grandpa!
Morning Lovies

First bites- avocado and bananas

David DeCastro who??

Anyone seen the owner of these shoes? I'm a-lookin' for him...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What to Expect When You're Expecting... Bliss?

The popular book What to Expect when You're Expecting has been on my top five list of books never to read when you are expecting since the day I read it cover to cover. After spending the rest of my pregnancy lying awake at night trying to imagine how I would modify all the baby clothes we had to fit a hermaphrodite, I started not only NOT recommending it, but being a lobbyist for the burning of this paranoia-inducing handbook. Thus, I did not read it's sequel, What to Expect the First Year.

Maybe if I had, I might have known what to do with two children under the age of two who both decided to boycott sleep at the same time. In other words, maybe somewhere in that book might have been the answer to the question in the back of my mind the last month.. "What the hell was I thinking?"

I have not been posting my Favorite Things because, to be perfectly frank, I have been having a hard time coming up with one or two things total, let alone a list a week. I don't know if what I am experiencing is depression or just sleep-deprived delirium but my days have definitely been longer then 24 hours recently. The time between when the kids "wake up" (a misleading term which implies there was a period when they were "asleep") and when I put Pursy down for a nap at 1pm lasts a lifetime. And then when she wakes up from her nap and before she goes to bed is another lifetime. Two lifetimes a day.

There are beautiful bits of rest in between. Sometimes I can drink enough coffee to feel awake and our days are full of park visits, coloring, block tower building and backyard blanket-lying hours. Sometimes Knox sleeps longer then an hour at a time and sometimes Pursy will be taken back to her own bed at 2am without screaming and waking up Knox- thus spiraling Grant and I into an entire quarter of man to man defense in which there is no shoulder to cry on because a child is already using it. It is in these moments when I am staring in the face of a child I would give my life for but who has stolen sleep and all it's benefits from me, I am grateful for the cloak of darkness and nighttime to hide my thoughts.

Mothers are not supposed to wish- even for a moment- that they were not.

Especially when I have been given two gorgeous, healthy babes who light up my life in ridiculous ways. There are parents of babes with illnesses who have walked through hell and back. And I am complaining about lost sleep? Yes,I am. Because every time I hear myself yell a little too loud or discipline Pursy a little too quickly I realize what exhaustion does to a Mama- and I feel guilt overwhelm me. Oh yes, on top of everything else there is the guilt. Not being enough, not doing enough, not encouraging or stimulating or teaching enough.

So I have decided to release myself from guilt about the whole sleep thing. Grant and I have made a decision that we never thought we would make, but in the two hours since I presented the idea to him on the phone and he agreed, I have felt hope. Hope for sleep tonite. Hope for no harsh words over the heads of crying babes between two parents who love each other so much. Hope for the patience and wisdom I pray for every night but don't think about during the crazy day.

So to myself and all the other parents out there who are struggling between the love they feel and the exhaustion, guilt and frustration that gets in the way, I say: Do what works for you and your babe. Ignore what you Expected and do what you Know. Love your babes how they need to be loved- and let's go to sleep.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To my Beautiful Baby Girl

Purslane Claire-
 Today is your last day as a one year old. Tomorrow you will turn 2, although your verbal skills and confident independence turned 2 long ago.. you are growing so fast. Today I took you to the park and while Knox played in his stroller with Sophie the giraffe, you and I went down the slides and swung on the swings together. I couldn't help but think that in this next year, you will probably outgrow your need to "hold your hand" while we go down the side by side slides. You probably won't need me to push you on the swings, and you most likely will stop checking over your shoulder to see if I am right behind you on the ladder. But today you needed me to stick close, so we did everything together.

If I let myself think about all the things you do and say right now that will fade as you continue to grow, this letter will be sopping wet by the time I finish. Fortunately I know you will continue to come up with new things to charm your Dad and I and make us run for the camera or just look at you and burst out laughing. You are such a cool kid and I am so lucky to be your Mama.

Some of your favorite things right now: you sleep every nap and night time with "Pooh/blanket". Pooh is the stuffed animal and blanket is a pink and brown fleece with your initials embroidered on the corner.They are a package deal and I shudder to think what would happen if they got separated. You love Yo Gabba Gabba, Tangled and Aristocats. Your favorite bedtime books are "Pancakes" (Eric Carle mini library book that you have mostly memorized), "Big Sister" (a book about introducing a new baby to the house) and "Dogs" (Dr Seuss' classic Go Dog Go. You still love bath time, brushing your "teek" and I can get you to do just about anything by telling you to "run fast!".

Food: First thing in the morning, if you aren't already in bed with us (sleeping alone all night in your room is a rarity) you get right in my face and your first words of the day are "want juice/water!". You LOVE green juice from Trader Joes, but definitely believe it comes prepared 50/50 with water. For breakfast you usually take down 2 blueberry waffles with butter, a banana and a cup of vanilla yogurt. Three or four bites in, you turn your plate upside down and dump everything on your tray- then calmly hand me the plate. Not sure how this ritual started, but the other night when you did it with a bowl of soup I wasn't too crazy about this habit. You are a great eater though, so I pick my battles and clean the tray. Lunch is either pastas and cheese with frozen peas right out of the bag (not sure about that preference either) or a "butter jelly sandwich". Dinner is whatever we are having, and like I said- you are a great eater. You try everything once and since we have established with you that if you don't like something new you have tried you may spit it out, there isn't anything I can think of that you have flat out refused. This makes me very proud of you.

Words: You are speaking in full sentences and I am amazed at your grasp of tense and possessives. Some of your classics: "No Pursy can do it", "Walk a big girl!", "Hims name is Knox", "Want juice water right now little bit", "One more chance" and "Come on, Mommy, come on!".  The other day I watched you set Pooh down on the steps and kneel in front of him- then you very firmly said "Looka me, Pooh. Looka me.". I guess you are listening to me when I am correcting you. :)

You have your two year old well child visit next week, so I don't know your exact measurements yet. My guess is that you will still be somewhere around the 25th percentile for weight- you are such a peanut. Your feet are a solid 6 and you are wearing mostly 18-24 month clothes. Although I can still squeeze you into my favorite 12-18 month dress- the brown knit one that you wear with pink and brown striped tights and your cowboy boots.

You have exceeded my wildest dreams for how incredibly cool I hoped you would be. You are happy and curious and funny and smart. And tomorrow you will be 2 years old. From the day you decided it was time to be born, you do things your way and do them in a hurry. I cry behind closed doors when I think about how quickly you will become a big girl, but I cannot wait to see more of the beautiful person you will become. I love watching you rock your brother's car seat when he cries and I am so proud when you pull a dandelion out of the yard and ask to take it to your neighbor friend Maddie. You are already thoughtful and kind, and I could not be more proud of you. Please hold my hand as long as you want- I love you with all my heart, my daughter.

Your Mama.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The new New Orleans

Our little family just came back from a weekend in our favorite city in the world- New Orleans, Louisiana. Here is what I love about it: everything. Food, people, beer, music, church, festivals, costumes, history, and the beauty of a cool breeze in the middle of a blazing hot afternoon. I love that Grant and I forged so much of our story in this city- decided who and what we wanted to be, together. Everything in this city was ours.

This weekend we shared it with two groups of people: our dear friends Liz and Jonathan Block and our children. To Liz and Jonathan we shared our memories, our favorite places and some new ones we had always wanted to try. To Purslane and Knox we shared the place where our family started, where their Mom and Dad fell even more deeply in love. Where we struggled and sweated and loved and played. The glory of Mardi Gras and evenings on the porch, and the pain of evacuation and goodbyes. And we remembered hard- we ate boudain at Ignatius, bread pudding at St Charles Tavern (not as good as I remember, but I was sober this time), fried chicken and red beans and rice at Willie Mae's, fried green tomatoes and catfish po-boys at Dick and Jenny's and hurricanes at Pat O's. It was a glorious culinary reunion.

New Orleans looks different when you are pushing a double stroller. There were no late nites on Frenchman Street or 3 hour meals at Jaqui-mos. Long walks through the Garden District were still beautiful but we noticed more of the stroller-halting cracks in the sidewalks than we did some of the houses on Grant's Garden District tour. We didn't eat at a new restaurant on St Charles Ave because they didn't have high chairs and Purslane loses interest in siting quietly in her chair while we eat a meal if she is not restrained. Louisiana still allows smoking in bars, so more favorite haunts were off-limits. This sounds like bad parenting that we would consider taking our children into a bar but during the day, bars in New Orleans are just great places to hang out and take a break from the heat- even with babes. (take that, Kelley's)  The plane flights were 75% okay but the final 25% flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh, both babes had had enough of traveling and it was definitely our turn to be the family on the plane that made everyone else wish they were NOT on the plane.

But that was the worst part about taking the babes to New Orleans, the rest of the time we soaked up everything we love about this city and shared it with them. Every street artist in Jackson Square took advantage of our slower pace with a stroller to give Pursy "free" balloon animals or bead necklaces or clever tricks... with a thinly veiled hint to her parents that a tip would be much appreciated. Purslane ate enough good southern food to make her Mama proud and slept through the night as a gift to her tired Dada. And we got to spend a few days with L&J celebrating his birthday with good beer, good beignets, good streetcar rides and good conversation. It was the new New Orleans to us. Very different from our life before we expanded our family and gave up the freedom to wander and stay up as late as we wanted. But next time we go, we will probably leave them with the grandparents and keep our city to ourselves until the babes are old enough to walk and enjoy the culture of NOLA. And who knows... one day they just might call it home. Just like we still do.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Newton's Third Law of Motion

Newton's Third Law of Motion says that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. I know this because I looked it up on Wikipedia. I opted out of Physics my Senior year of high school in order to take... (wait for it)... Finishing Class. Only at a southern boarding school can you receive credits for a class whose syllabus includes things like getting out of a car without showing your underpants and walking with a book on your head. There are pictures of this somewhere- me walking around a gymnasium in a purple plaid skirt down to my ankles with a book on my head.

This Third Law of Motion is the reality that has been the defining quality of my life the past two weeks. For every mess cleaned up, diaper changed and instruction given- there is an equal and opposite mess made, dirty diaper created and instruction defied. Here are some classic examples of Newton's Law of Motion going on:

1. On Thursday while I was trying to clean up the house in preparation for a weekend of house guests, I noticed some laundry detergent had spilled on top of the dryer. No big deal- a small puddle and a quick wipe with a dirty t-shirt from the hamper cleaned it right up. While I was performing this 3 second wipe, Pursy came up behind me and pulled the entire bottle of detergent off the shelf- spilling almost half of its contents on the laundry room floor. Third Law of Motion.

2. Potty training has casually begun at Chez Martsolf, and while we are not doing any formal routines or making her wear "big girl underwear", Pursy has been peeing fairly regularly and enjoying doing it on her own. One of her favorite parts- other then watching me do the potty dance- is the gummy bear she gets after every successful potty episode. Today she kept asking for "gummies" and after being told a dozen times that she only gets them after she goes pee on the potty, she seemingly gave up. I was in Knox's room putting away the clothes he has already grown out of, when I noticed I hadn't heard from her in a few minutes. She didn't answer me when I called her- multiple times. I was just starting to get nervous when I heard a muffled "Hi Mama!" from our bathroom. I walked in and found her sitting IN the sink, buck naked, with a mouthful of gummies, the empty bag next to her. She flashed me a huge smile- sugary sparkly goo mocking my prior denial of her request for candy. Third Law of Motion.

3. I like a glass of water before I go to bed. Usually I finish it before I go to sleep, but on Tuesday night I left about half of it undrunk. With an almost two year old who has a habit of wandering into our bedroom before the sun comes up, I should have put the glass up. In a drowsy early morning haze I heard Pursy say: "Pursy do it self" and I saw her take a drink of water. I mumbled something about being careful with the glass- before the words left my mouth I felt a wave of lukewarm water hit my back. Instantly awake and swimming in the half glass of water now soaking its way into the sheets, I watched her very carefully return the glass to the table. Third Law of Motion.

This is my life- seemingly small or benign actions result in equal and opposite reactions- usually requiring an enormous amount of time to fix or clean up. Dammit, Newton. But when all hope of getting ahead seems lost, at least I can always get out of a car modestly and walk a length of hallway with perfect posture.

Publishing a blurry picture so you aren't treated to a perfectly clear image of a pair of my underwear doing double duty as a necklace on my daily bringer of the Third Law of Motion.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

32 is the new.... somethin'

Today is my birthday. The big 32. Somehow I thought I would feel old. Mid-30ish. Sensible whole wheat waffles and 1% milk in my coffee. Cotton underwear and comfortable slacks.

Instead I feel surprisingly young. Grant and I stayed up until midnight watching the last season of Friday Night Lights and finishing a Basil Haydens. Today I watched Tangled three times with a sick toddler and a 6 month old who is very content to just sit in my lap and laugh. We ate string cheese with chopsticks for lunch and Grant took me out for burgers and beer for dinner. Tomorrow if Pursy feels better we will spend the afternoon at a park, probably drive to Bell's Optometrist to pick up my new Buddy Holiday style glasses and if we have time maybe walk to Tazza D'Oro to have an iced coffee. I have 7 herbs in little Bonnie pots waiting to be planted in wooden planter boxes, and one basil plant that will go into it's own sweet red stone pot because I love basil and I loved this pot the minute I saw it. Probably the oldest thing I will do tomorrow is take my Triple Omega vitamin to try and bring down my cholesterol level, which is surprisingly high for a girl who was a vegetarian for the last 13 years.

For me, birthdays are a reminder of how far I have come. I used to love my birthday because my Mom made such a big deal about them- it truly was our day. From the breakfast in bed to the cupcakes at school to the dinner of our choice- my Mom was amazing at reminding us that we were special and loved. Now I love my birthday because every year I know myself a little better. Am a little more confident in my place in the universe and feel a little more at peace with my faults. I have three beautiful reasons to work harder and love more- Grant, Purslane and Knox. God gave me quite a family in these people.

So Happy Birthday to me. I am a wife, mother, nurse, daughter, friend, auntie, sister, cousin, niece and granddaughter. And that did not happen overnight- it was 32 years in the making. Happy Birthday, dear friend. May this year give you more opportunities to love well and often. In the words of Kurt Vonnegut, "A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved."