Wednesday, January 30, 2013

WWSD? Not what I did.

There's this woman at my church. I've watched her for a while now -- the way she parents her children, how she reacts to her children, how she disciplines. She's kind of my hero.

 I guess you could call it a mom-crush.

The thing I admire most about her is the way she always maintains her calm when you just know everything in her wants to be anything but calm. Her children are well-disciplined and they respect her, but I've never seen her over-react. I've never heard her raise her voice. Her look alone usually melts her children into submission.

I want to be just like her.

I often find myself in the middle of difficult mom situations asking, "What would she do?" and if I'm honest, it's usually the opposite of what I want to do. And most times? I fail. I allow myself to get frustrated and I react accordingly. Like yesterday.

Yesterday had failure written all over it from the start. When I fixed Cohen's breakfast, I used up all the milk. I knew I had until 1:30 to get us to the grocery store so I could have milk by his naptime, but honestly? I just felt too lazy. So I put off the grocery store as long as I could, even considering giving Cohen apple juice for his nap.

By the time noon rolled around, Cohen was showing me all the signs that he was getting ready for his nap. And I was still unshowerd, undressed, and unmotived to get that milk. After a meltdown over a missing sock and a mini-tantrum involving a thrown monster truck, I decided it was time. I brushed my teeth, put on a hat, and pack up my kid to go to the store. And that's when Cohen decided he did not want to get in his carseat.

We're talking trying to throw himself out of my arms. Screaming. Crying. Fighting me every step of the way until I finally lost my cool. He was in his carseat, arching his back and attempting to slide out as I was trying to get the harness on him. I snapped. Instead of walking away to breathe, I pushed his head back against the seat and raised my voice at him. Not cool. His heart was broken and I felt guilty immediately.

Cohen screamed at the top of his lungs for the first half of the trip. Each time he screamed, I could do nothing but roll down his window and let the shock of cold air stun him until he quieted down. Once he quieted and I had calmed down, I began to explain to him through his whimpers that I knew he was sleepy and hungry and sad. And I was sorry that I got mad at him. But he could not yell and scream at me, ever. He responded with lots of "Otay, Mommy. No screaming." and more whimpers that would lead to more crying.

About 10 minutes in, I asked him what would make him feel better. After all, we had a grocery store to get through, and I was not looking forward to it. He whimpered, "A milkshake, Mommy."

Ok, kid, I'll get you a milkshake.

And you know what? After that, he was back to old Cohen. No more whimpers or tears or screams or kicks. He got his milkshake, and I got a happy kid all the way through the grocery store and back home again.

Being a mom is hard, y'all. It's a constant battle of emotions, of second-guessing myself, of overwhelming feelings of guilt and failure. I want so badly to be a good and loving mother to my children; I pray daily for the wisdom I need to raise my boys the way God wants me to. I know He will bless that. I know there is grace with the Lord when I screw up, just like there was grace when I apologized to my son for acting in anger.

But, I still can't help but wonder: What Would She Have Done??

Best Laid Plans (Alternate Title: My Child is a Turd)

So I had a grand idea yesterday to do a sort of "day in the life" post. I planned to take a picture every hour to make a type of story board of what our typical day looks like. It started out like this:

I woke up when Cohen started rustling around in his room. I waited in bed a few minutes until he had woken up and was ready to greet the day.

After breakfast, we enjoyed some train play.

Then we got excited about the nice weather and an impromptu trip to the park.

Cohen played hard for a good hour. We met a new friend. He pooped his pants twice (Cohen, not the new friend.)

After the second poop, I decided it was time to go home. I bribed Cohen with a cookie and promises of a hot dog, and we made our way. I got lunch prepared while Cohen played with some bananas. 

And then I noticed the dog outside, chewing on one of my son's toys. I felt the blood begin to rush to my face as I stormed out the back door towards the dog. He'd been stealing and destroying Cohen's toys lately, and I was about to make him regret it.

Until I heard the back door slam shut.

And saw my son, watching me through the glass door, turn the little knob and lock the door.

My heart sank. I was locked outside. My child was locked inside. In the kitchen, no less, a room he's not typically allowed in, and so he was having great fun exploring the most dangerous room in our house.

I managed to get him to the door and asked him to open the door. He tried, but he couldn't figure out that lock. Panic increased as I begged Cohen to unlock the door. He smiled at me in a Mommy's gone crazy way, crawled through the doggie door, and hugged my legs. I cried. He patted my thigh. "Don't worry. Be happy, Mommy!"

And so we were stuck in our fenced-in backyard with no phone and a dog I wanted to murder. It was just after noon. I knew my neighbors were at work. I knew my husband wouldn't be home until 6. I knew my child still had a dirty diaper, an empty stomach, and was thisclose to needing his nap. 

I tried to crawl through the doggie door, and got my head and one arm through before I gave up. I tried to climb the fence, heard the wooden board crack, and decided that wouldn't work. I peeked through the fence and waited for the elderly man who always passes my house on his afternoon walk. I called out to him when he appeared. He looked around and began to walk faster past my house. 

So then I picked up a large rock. I had seen in the movies how home invaders could so easily break off door knobs. I figured I could do the same thing. I slammed the rock into the door knob, effectively denting and chipping black paint off the door knob. Frustrated, I went to work with that rock, banging into the door knob until my hands began to bleed and the knob was essentially just a flattened piece of metal. The door was still locked.

Cohen began to cry. He was hungry and dirty and sleepy. I sat in the back yard and rocked him. We rocked for what seemed like an hour, but I'm sure it was no more than 10 minutes.  Time dragged by. We played, we sang songs, we waited. I heard the high school bus drive by. I knew it was about 2:30. I also knew that in 30 minutes, our neighbor's son, who has special needs, would be dropped off my his school bus. His mother meets him in the driveway every day. 

I waited by the fence that separated our large properties and listened for voices. When the bus passed my house, I waited. I heard my neighbors talking to the bus driver. I began to call out to them.

Hello? Excuse me! Hello? 

I stopped and listened. Nothing. Visions of that elderly man running away from me popped into my head.

Hello? It's your neighbor. I'm not a murderer! I'm stuck in my back yard. I need help! My toddler locked me out of my house! Hello?

I heard them talking to each other, and then the woman called out and told me she was coming. God bless her.

She passed her cell phone over the fence, and I called Travis. And, I'm not kidding, the minute he answered the phone, Cohen came running up to me, screaming and crying and flailing his arms. He had been playing in an ant bed, and they were all over him. So I'm calling my husband from a strange number while ripping off Cohen's clothes and brushing off biting ants. I think the conversation went something like this:

Travis: Hello?
Erica: Hey. You need to come home. I'm locked out of the house. Cohen is covered in ants. I've been here since noon. Oh, this is Erica.
Travis: OK, I'm leaving right now.

Poor man didn't know what was going on, but he managed to make the 45 minute trip home in record time. He was impressed with the work I had done on the door knob. He was impressed with the work those ants had done on our son. He replaced the door knob and hid a spare key in the back yard.

Needless to say, today I haven't left the playroom. No use taking any risks, you know? We've got some scary weather going on this afternoon, and all I can think is thank goodness I didn't get locked out today. 

And also that I need to teach my kid how to unlock a door.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Menu Planning Monday v.2

How is it already the end of January? Wasn't it just Thanksgiving? Who pushed the fast forward button?

This week marks 1 month that I've planned out meals for my family at the beginning of the week. It has created a pretty significant shift in lifestyle for our family and has kept me accountable at meal times. I can no longer use the excuse, "OH! I forgot to thaw the chicken! We'll have to go to Waffle House tonight!" I am the master of finding ways to get to Waffle House... oh hash browns. I have also begun to include Travis in the planning, and I think he likes knowing what to expect for the week. I know I do. Organization and structure: you are my friends.

Last week, due to a bad crampy day on Wednesday, we dined on exquisite cheeseburgers and french fries from Wendy's, and even though I had a legitimate excuse for not cooking dinner for my family, I still felt incredibly guilty. So we had the pizza bread on Thursday and kept the chicken pockets in the freezer for this week. The beauty of frozen leftovers.

Here's this week's menu, provided I don't find an excuse to get us in front of a waffle and an order of hash browns, scattered and topped. It is the end of the month, and the end of my January grocery budget, so I had to dig in the freezer a little to create dinners this week.

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Fish sticks
Macaroni and cheese
sweet peas
dinner rolls

Edit: this got moved to Wednesday night, and the enchiladas were delicious. The white sauce tasted more like a gravy, and if I had left out the green chiles, it would have been more like a chicken and dumplings meal.
White chicken enchiladas
black beans


Edit: This meal got moved to the following week.
parmesan pasta


Edit: This meal got moved to the following week.
leftover Creamy Chicken Pockets (frozen from another week)
rice pilaf
green peas
dinner rolls

Family Date Night!

Kitchen's closed

Spaghettios after church

Friday, January 25, 2013

23 Week Bumpdate

How far along? 23 weeks, although I look like I was close to 30 weeks with Cohen. And I'm feeling about like that too. 

How big is baby? Baby is about 11 inches long and weighs just over a pound now, about the size of a large mango.

Movement: So much movement. It surprises me, actually. He's most active at night after Cohen goes to bed. He usually moves and kicks continuously for about 3 hours at night. 

Sleep: I am sleeping like a log right now. The only times I wake up in the middle of the night is when Cohen wakes up for some water. And when he wakes up in the morning, it's always hard to roll out of bed. I'm not taking any more naps these days, but when Cohen goes down for his nap, I do use that time to rest.

Best moment this week: I started thinking about the baby's room this week. I think I have an idea of what I will do in there, and that's getting me excited.

Miss Anything? I already miss sleeping on my belly, although the body pillow is helping me out a lot. I also miss not having backaches and feeling fatigued all day (but really, with 2 kids, what are my chances of not feeling fatigued when this guy comes?).

Food cravings: Little Debbie snack cakes. Ooooh, I could eat the whole box if I knew no one would judge me. I also get random cravings for pancakes and hamburgers.

Anything making you queasy or sick: I am trying to pinpoint exactly what it is that is making me feel like I'm 10 weeks pregnant again. Grease? Dairy? Eggs? Something doesn't sit well with me. Also, cooking ground meat totally turns me off.

Gender: Baby boy!

Labor Signs: Nothing, and hopefully nothing for a long time. I have been dealing with lots of cramping and lower backache this week. I called my midwife on Wednesday, and she confirmed that it was probably due to lots of stretching and growing. We are keeping an eye on it though. Lots of Braxton Hicks, too.

Belly Button in or out? In. It's stretching and shallowing out a bit, though.

Wedding rings on or off? Wedding band is way too tight, so it's off. Engagement ring is holding out though.

Mood: I think it depends on who you ask! I feel good emotionally. I'm really enjoying being pregnant and feeling baby boy move around.

Looking forward to: Next week I'll be 24 weeks -- that's a big deal because it means doctors consider him "viable" if he were to be born at or after 24 weeks.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Toddler Talk

It could just be because I'm his momma and think he hung the moon, but I seriously think everything Cohen says is hilarious.

This age is tons of fun -- not so much for the boundary testing and tantrums, but for being able to sit back and watch my child play with words and figure out how to get those thoughts in his head out into the world. Toddlers are silly people, I tell you.

Cohen says so many things that catch me off guard or make me giggle or tear up, and I catch myself making a mental note to remember what he just said forever. But that's not working too well for me these days. Seems I'm forgetting everything. So I figured I'd use this space to record some of the best things that come out of my kid's mouth, and I'd love to hear about the silly things that your kids say as well!

In the grocery store, after I had just put a package of toilet paper in the cart:

Cohen: What's that?
Mommy: That's toilet paper. We use it when we go potty.
Cohen: Daddy goes potty.
Mommy: Yes, he does.
Cohen (loudy): Daddy poops!
Mommy (laughing): Yes, Daddy poops.
Cohen (as we passed by each stranger in the store for the rest of our shopping trip): Hi! Daddy poops!

At our evening prayers one night after being at church with his friend, Ava:

Cohen: Dear Jesus, thank you for Ava. Ava take my Goldfish. Ava take my juice. Ava take my car. Daddy take my football. Amen.

Makes me glad I didn't do anything to cross him that day so he didn't have anything about me to tattle to Jesus.

Cohen: More snack, Mommy?
Mommy: It's all gone. You ate it all.
Cohen: More snack?
Mommy: It's all in your belly.
Cohen (lifting up his shirt and looking at his stomach): No snack,just baby.

After singing 4 rounds of If You're Happy and You Know It, I had run out of ways to keep the song going, so Cohen picked it up:

Cohen: If you're happy and you know it ... shake your hiney! (followed by some very skillful low-to-the-ground booty shaking).

At bath time, I dropped a bath fizzy into the bath. We usually have fun with the fizzies because they turn the water different colors. This night, we used a yellow bath fizzy:

Cohen: Bath time! Bath time!
Mommy: What color is the water tonight, Cohen?
Cohen: Pee pee.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A New Baby

I don't know if this is a secret or not, but almost immediately after Cohen was born, I wanted to have another baby.

Crazy, right?

I'm serious when I say that I had not been discharged from the hospital after Cohen had been born when I looked my husband square in the eye and told him we would try to have another baby in a year. I'm pretty sure hormones played a part, but I also knew that our plan was to have 2 children, and I wanted them to be as close in age as possible.

We didn't make it to Cohen's first birthday before we decided we were ready for another baby. We made it 10 months. And even though it took a little while to become pregnant with Cohen, and I knew in the back of my head that it would probably take some time with #2 as well, I was super impatient.

Month by month passed us by with no pregnancy symptoms, negative pregnancy tests, and broken hearts. I looked to each new month with excitement and anticipation and expectation. Vitamins, supplements, planning, timing, praying, crying, moping, ovulation tests, a friend's new baby, feeling sorry for myself, committing to trust in God. 10 months passed by with no new baby.

And then September rolled around. I had been charting my temperatures religiously, and I was beginning to get excited: I was seeing the tell-tale rise in my temperature. Each morning, it rose higher and higher. Each day, I promised myself I'd wait one more day to see my temperature rise before I broke out the pregnancy tests.

One Friday, 2 days before we were to go on our cruise, I couldn't take it anymore. My temperature skyrocketed, and I just knew. I took a test and sat on the toilet and stared at it as the first line appeared and then, slowly, a second line began to show up. Tears, thank you Lord prayers, ohmygosh repetitions, giggles, and more tears. A sigh of relief. Finally, a new baby.

We told our parents and a few close friends pretty early in the pregnancy, but for the most part, we enjoyed our little secret. I never thought that was a secret I'd ever want to (or be able to) keep, but I was surprised to discover that it was kind of nice and pretty easy. Finally, a few days before Thanksgiving, we made it to the second trimester. 

And the cat was out of the bag.

We're now more than halfway through this pregnancy. Time is flying past me; May is only a few months away, and, good night, we're not ready yet. I'm taking my time with this little boy, enjoying every moment of pregnancy, making the effort to store to memory the way his kicks feel and how active he gets when he hears Cohen's voice. I'm spending these last few months being intentional about loving on Cohen and giving him as much quality one-on-one time as I can.

We are so excited about this little guy, and I thank God every day for such a special blessing.

Menu Planning Monday

So, a new thing I want to try: sharing my meal plans. I have only been serious about meal plans for a few weeks now, but it has been such a great thing in my life and for my sanity (and for husband's belly), that I want to keep it up.

And what better way to keep up with a new skill than to be held accountable for it?

And what better way to be held accountable than to blog about it?

Here goes. I will link to the recipes I use. Heck, I may even write separate posts about some of the best meals we eat. Because I'm crazy like that.

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green beans
dinner rolls
Edit: this dinner was sooooo good. It was so easy to prepare, and it did the work all on it's own. The stuffing was nice and soft and the flavor was amazing. Travis did request that I cut the chicken breasts in smaller pieces next time. Good old fashioned comfort food.

baked tacos
black beans
Spanish rice

parmesan pasta

leftover Creamy Chicken Pockets (frozen from another week)
rice pilaf
green peas
dinner rolls

Family Date Night!

Kitchen's closed

grilled cheese sandwiches
tomato soup

Back in the Game?

Hi. Remember me? Seems I dropped off the radar for a good 6 months.

Yeah, sorry about that.

The good news is I didn't die. We're all thriving over here, so that's good. In fact, we've been doing a bit of multiplying. What? Yup, we're pregnant! With a little brother who should be making his way by the end of May. Smile.

So, let's rewind a bit. I believe the last time I checked in was to share our cruise vacation back in September, but even before then, my posting had become scarce. There were a few reasons for that, but I will firmly place morning sickness as reason #1. I found out about Baby Brother 2 days before we left for our cruise, and I began feeling sick and sleepy and all around worthless on the cruise. I also think I was a bit burned out from blogging; I had a dwindling list of things to write about and felt that I'd rather not post anything rather than post useless, random stuff. Finally, I was beginning to feel a bit worn from exposing my life and my family's life on the internet. The primary purpose of the blog is and has always been to share stories and pictures with family and friends, but the fact is, this is the internet. And on the internet, anyone can  see what I share. Even people who I don't want to share information with.

But the fact is, I miss blogging. I miss having this place to share stories and pictures. I treasure the year I have documented on this blog, the ups and downs I recorded. The pictures of Cohen. The truth is, when the blogging stopped, so did a lot of the picture taking. I want to get back in the game.

Things will probably change a bit because, hey, my life has changed a bit. I have ideas for new things I want to talk about and a new little person I want to talk about. So stick with me. I'm back.