Posted by: cck | November 11, 2014

toof

And, while her father and I were fighting about laundry and dishes and sweeping the floor, my youngest daughter cut her first tooth. The night before her eight month birthday, C4 got a tooth. On the bottom. And you would never have known. Reminds me of her sister getting her first tooth during Christmas Eve Service.

It’s hard being a baby. The struggle is real. She wants to move everywhere – all at once. She’s, quite honestly, doing a good job of it. Slithering and pushing and pulling herself across the floor. Surprisingly, we’ve had good success leaving her in the pack’n’play with assorted toys. She totally entertains herself. C4 may start to whine, but all she wants is a little snuggle – then it’s diving back in to pick up where she left off gumming the wooden rhino or mauling a plastic turtle.

Today is Veteran’s Day, and K was off work. He’d intended to cross things off his (massive) honey-do list, but the nanny is sick. Again. And so he spent the better part of the morning delighting his daughters and then the afternoon at an informal job interview. He left during the best part of the day – naptime. I love it when the quiet steals across the house – both girls softly snoring in their respective rooms. The only sound is me furiously typing, trying to fit in a full days work in the space of a few hours.

C4 wakes up looking sort of stoned. C3 wakes up from nap with a cry. Today, there was no cry – just some banging. So, I strolled (strolling is the best sort of word for what I do with my walker) to see what was going on across the house. The smell hit me when I turned the corner. There she was – no pants (always a bad sign) with poop up and down her little body. She informed me she was okay, but she was trying to clean up. Indeed, she was. She had a broom and was rubbing poop into the floor. There were piles of poop around the room. This is the stuff of motherhood, I tell you.

Bathtime for everyone!

It’s 22 days till my surgery and there’s a long list of to-dos. I know it will all get done, because it always does. There’s three more weekends and one of them is a long weekend at that. I slept last night and I have confidence I’ll sleep tonight. This weekend, we’ll cross things off the list. We’ll play with our children. And the fights about the laundry and the dishes and the sweeping won’t seem as important or dire. This is hard, these things we’re going through.

Not as hard as the veteran who came home without a job. Or without a leg. Not as hard as a single mom stretching a paycheck. Not as hard as my economics final in 2001. It’s all about perspective, and I get that. We’ve had a tough, tough year. A new job, a new baby, a major car accident, and now a new hip. It’s put us through the ringer – emotionally, financially, and spiritually. I’m not complaining here as much as I am trying to make an accurate note of how this family survives life.

It’s a new tooth. It’s a poop-splosion. It’s afternoon bathtime with two giggling daughters. I’d say it is the little things, but these things that are happening to us aren’t little – they are just our things.

Posted by: cck | November 8, 2014

h-a-double-l…

Halloween was wonderful. It was cool – an almost first for the this neck of the woods. We went as Super Family – Super Momma, Super Daddy, Super Girl, and Super Baby.

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I made the capes and the shirts and the tu-tus. Because that’s my family tradition from way back. They came out great. I was really pleased with how cute the girls looked. C3 got into it this year – she even lined up all her stash on the couch afterwards. Counting and re-counting the candy that her father and I would eat after she fell asleep.

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I love these children. They are so full of joy and wonder.

Posted by: cck | November 8, 2014

the guts

Oof. That’s the sound I make when I move, when I’m still, when I’m breathing. Ooof.

I know the cartilage is gone between my femur and my hip. I’ve known it since September 23rd, right before our big Disney vacation. I’ve known that a hip replacement is inevitable. And now I’ve gone and scheduled it. After a few weeks (three) of becoming more dependent (back to the walker), more in pain (yow), and – according to K – making noises like I was in full-on labor, it’s time. It’s time for the surgeon to cut off part of my femur and put in a device. It’s time to join that club of THR.

At least this time, I get to plan. I get to put things in motion, clean my house, prepare my children. There is no drama in this – honestly, less drama than going into labor. I know the date when I will need to be in the big hospital in Tampa. I can move everything around it. I’ve all but finished Christmas shopping thanks to my Visa card and Amazon. I’ve got plans for the remaining weekends. I’m working on the plan to cover the kids with family and love. I made a list of what I’m packing for the hospital.

I’m scared, but this is nothing compared to what I’ve been through. It’s a one hour surgery, not seven. I won’t even have general anesthesia. It’s a three to four day hospital stay – not two weeks. I’ll be walking – on both legs – within 12 hours of surgery. I’ve got this. We’ve got this. And now I need you to get out of my way.

Are you wondering what to say to someone having a hip replacement? Let me help you out:

Don’t say the pain couldn’t be that bad. Shut up. Instead, just listen and agree. “Yup, that must really be awful.” “You are so strong.” “I can’t imagine what you are going through.”

Don’t second guess my decisions about pain control. You don’t know my family history or what I’m facing. A person’s decisions about pain control are not about being a tough guy or being foolish, they’re doing the absolute best they can. So, offer up, “I know you’re making good decisions about your health.”

Don’t ask me if the doctor is doing it this way or that way. Are you my orthopedic surgeon who knows all about the pins and plates he’s going to move? No? Okay, then. I’ve gotten a second opinion. I’ve researched. I’ve asked a lot of questions. Believe it or not, I’m actually a well-informed type of gal. Now, if you have a gadget that makes it easy for me to put on shoes – pass that along.

Don’t say tell me to ignore a birthday or holiday. Shut up. Instead, offer up encouragement: “You can do it!” is always a good one.

Don’t tell me about how the hip replacement didn’t help someone you know. I’ve had enough bad luck this year. I’m done. I am full of hope, so get out of my way.

Okay, those are the big ones at the moment. The whole thing scares the people around me. At church dinner on Wednesday night, I purposely sat with two folks who have had hip replacements. Both of them were encouraging and echoed the stuff I’m dealing with (see above). A friend offered up that this was gutsy – the knowing what has to be done and moving full throttle in that direction.

I’m so tired. I’m sitting here in a strange position – one leg up in the air because the knee can’t bear to be bent. One arm on a baby. It’s like some demented form of Twister. I want this phase of this adventure to be over. So. There’s that.

Posted by: cck | October 23, 2014

sometimes

Sometimes, she takes off her diaper in the middle of the night. And then falls back asleep.

Sometimes, she then pees all over her bed. And wakes up screaming because she’s cold and wet.

Sometimes, she can’t get back to sleep at 4:30 am. Y’know, it can be traumatic.

Sometimes, the only thing to make it right is to dress up like Elsa and get out some trains.

IMG_2876

I posted this on Facebook with the caveat: The days are long, but the years are short. I should have also mentioned how much I love the drive-thru at the local Dunkin Donuts.

Posted by: cck | October 2, 2014

there she is!

Despite my biggest fears, I have not dissolved into a puddle of ibuprofen and hardware.

Pain, pain, go away. At least I know I’m not a total wimp. The cartilage that exists between a femur and the hip – turns out, I don’t have it anymore. It’s called “rapid decline.” See also: traumatic arthritis. See also: total hip replacement in my near future. K and I are going back to the surgeon next Weds to talk strategy. I’m hoping to get it in during this health insurance calendar year – I’ve reached my out of pocket maximum! Yeah for the things that really matter!

We traveled to Disney World over the weekend. The first vacation as a family of four. The first overnight with Caroline. The first actual vacation days since Christmas. It was MARVELOUS. I cannot believe how well everything went. We also took the grandparents, my in-laws. I loved it. I never want to do a family vacation without them again.

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We landed on Halloween costumes, hastily decided while reviewing our packed October. Yes, we do a family theme – there’s been Princess Leia and the Flintstones. This year we will all be super heroes: Super Daddy, Super Mommy, Super Girl, and Super Baby. Fabric ordered; pray for my ability to sew satin (capes, just capes).

The brilliant M&A have started on Tuesdays and Thursdays… and I could not be happier. Having two days a week to *only* focus on work (or, ahem, updating this here blog) is lovely. It’s like my brain has a vacation. The kids love them. Montessori was definitely the right choice. It’s less chaotic, calmer, and the teachers have that special something that lights a spark in C^3. I can see her concentration expanding. My little engineer is making my life so bright.

C^4 is seriously a joy. The girl is happy all the time — full on serious faces, to be sure. But she pops up with a smile. She loves her sister and continues to watch everything she does. I take her with me to physical therapy – where everyone (everyone) stops to admire her chubby cheeks. She gets on the mat with me for my stretches and exercises and moves her legs to mimic mine. She’s not so sure about sweet potatoes, but spinach mixed with pears is a win. Late at night, after C3 has gone to bed, K and I cuddle with her. She loves to be kissed and to touch our faces. I forget, sometimes, the simple beauty of a six month old. She refreshes me, brings me back down to the land of simple, sloppy kisses. Of drool, on everything. Of eyes that don’t stop sparkling. Of a voice that hasn’t yet learned the word “no.”

After 3.5 years of being on contract with the Bar, K is finally off monitoring. No more random drug tests, no more mandatory meetings, no more monthly fees, etc etc etc. To celebrate, I’m taking him out for tiramisu on Saturday night. And we’ll use Purell too. Alcohol-absorption be damned!

Posted by: cck | September 12, 2014

the pain

So. I am incredibly happy to be walking. And driving. Mobile. Love it. Thankful. Really.

But hot damn. This whole thing is crazy painful. I thought I had a high pain tolerance, but it is getting worn down. The discomfort is constant. It is hard not to get snappy or complain-y or just generally unpleasant. And no one wants to hear that you’re in pain. Nope. They frown and try to spin in — “Oh, it won’t always be this way!” Sure, you’re right, dude. Suuuuuuuure.

I’m getting used to it. I’m getting used to waking up with pain so severe it makes me lose my breath, going to sleep by just giving up. I’m getting used to psyching myself up before I take a step, leave the house, hike my leg into the car, or get up from a sitting position. I’m getting used to breathing deeply with a smile plastered across my face so that I don’t scare my kids. Why is this so much harder than it was before? I swear it was easier to stand up before I could put weight on my right side.

This is bad. Like, cannot-catch-my-breath, tears-down-my-face, nothing-touches-it pain. The PT folks* tell me it might always be this way or it might only be six to 12 months of this. Now is the time that I have to dig deep for the ability to stay positive. I don’t know that I have the depths for this. Y’all, this is for real; it is hard. I have to believe it’s going to get better or I will just f’in lose it. How can I get through – at the best case scenario – five more months of this? There, I’m complaining. This is me not being positive.

I am probably doing too much, but everyone (including me) just figures I can handle it. I’ve had to complain at PT – don’t tell me to do as many as I think I can. I am an overachiever and I need you to tell me to stop. Because I am just going to keep trying, to keep getting stronger. I’ve been bringing C4 with me for the extra ounce of motivation. I’ve pulled back a little, set my alarm for ibuprofen, and am now letting people know that this is bad. We have Disney in two weeks people, this pain has got to go.

Maybe my 4.5 hour drive to Tallahassee (and 4.5 hours back home) wasn’t the brightest. Maybe it will get better when thunderstorms aren’t rolling in on the regular. Maybe I will just get used to the teeth-rattling pain. Or else maybe I will just dissolve into some stainless-steel hardware and a puddle of ibuprofen. I know I’m strong and I know I can get through this. I do not have a choice. Now, I’m off to scream into a pillow; no use scaring the chilluns.

 

*The PT folks are amazing. This is not their fault, and I’m not blaming them. They’ve been incredibly supportive and helpful!.

Posted by: cck | September 4, 2014

color me relieved

I am in a tizzy, a bit of a tizzy. The whole changing schools and changing up my schedule is daunting. I am daunted. I’m not even sure that’s proper English, that’s how daunted I am. I’m planning on taking my eldest out of full-time day care – and for the SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY putting her three mornings a week. Yes, instead of 40 hours a week of care, she’ll be getting nine hours of care. I am clearly insane.

Since Montessori is only three days a week, I will also need a nanny. Like, a real live Mary Poppins who will come to my house and take care of both girls. Now, let’s face it – I needed this no matter what I did with C^3. Having a baby at work five full days a week is tough. Of course, now I’m going to have both girls on MWF afternoons so… clearly I cannot do math. Anyway, I was full of angst over bringing someone into my home. I mean, my home is usually messy. There are often dinner dishes from the night before – you know the ones that won’t fit in the dishwasher – still on the counter. I do not want to be the gross house. The messy house, I can probably handle.

I posted on care.com – and received some really lovely responses. Oh, you’re a grandmother? Great. You want to be a pediatrician? Neat! But, it all left me feeling a little… uneasy. Until I realized that the perfect person was already in my address book. I just had to ask. And I did. And she said yes. And it will be just great. So, now I’m looking for a good toddler curriculum and there’s a big JoAnns/Michaels visit in my future for some craft supplies.

I am so freakin’ excited. And nervous – the two sides of the same coin. I’m so thankful for my friends who listened to me be a mess. And reminded me that nothing in this parenting journey is permanent – the only part that is permanent is the desire to do right by your kid. That’s enough, me thinks. Or at least, gawd, I hope it is.

So, I’m tickled that C^3 will be in Montessori – she calls it Mommy-sori. I’m tickled that I’ll have two days to just focus on work. I’m tickled that I can make this work. I like seeing my kids and now I’ll get to see more of them. Whoo boy. Somebody pinch me.

Posted by: cck | September 2, 2014

the gut

Motherhood, it’s hard. For those of us stuck on metrics of success, milestones are just not enough. Yeah! My kid can use a cup! Yeah! My kid can pee in a potty! Yes, I think she has 50+ words, but let’s not talk about how she says the word “fork.”

My eldest, easy-going daughter started in a new class two weeks ago. There are 15 children with two teachers – which is not a bad ratio. But, the two teachers need an assistant. They have forgotten my daughter’s snack, forgotten her special butt cream, not put on sunscreen, forgotten to give her half her lunch, not provided enough water… It’s just not the right environment for my daughter who does not make waves. Sometimes, with the adaptable child, you cannot use their positive outlook as a barometer of success. I have to listen and watch for cues. I have to trust my gut.

I gave it two weeks. Granted, she’s only been in school for seven of those ten days, but I gave it two weeks. Friday, they forgot to give her half her lunch – the half with protein. Of course, on the daily report card they said she ate all her lunch. The teachers are very nice, but they hail from Pre-K. Four year olds are different from two year olds. My kid is still a toddler. She still poops her pants. She still needs someone taking care of her in a hands-on way.

So, for the last two weeks, I called around to other schools. I toured. I thought about alternatives – all while giving her current school and class every benefit of the doubt. I did not want to be that mom. The mom who can’t handle her baby growing up. The mom that can’t let go. But, you know what? I am not that mom. I am not a helicopter parent; I am the parent of a two year old. Again, I refer you to the above paragraph – a two year old who still poops her pants. If I’m this hands-on when she’s seven, we’ll have a problem. My daugher is fiercely independent, charismatic, and vibrant. I am raising her to be exactly who she is.

10603747_10152341593368157_7098009266441579120_nBut I am her mom, not her aunt or her cousin or her friend. I am her mother and I know her like none other. I know that she needs lotion every night and every morning to keep eczema away. I know when she’s chilly and I know when she’s too hot. I know how to get sunscreen on every inch of her exposed skin. I know that she needs a lot of water. I know that she likes her hair up when she’s sweaty. I know these things and while I cannot be her primary caretaker during the day, I pay a premium for experienced people to play that role. I explain things to the daycare teachers. I follow up their lessons at home. I listen to them and provide feedback. Ugh. There’s a certain degree of “daycare sucks” no matter what you do.

Anyway, she’s going to start at Montessori – for which I am really grateful. The girl who can count to 20 and sings her ABCs so well – she will thrive in that environment. And if she doesn’t, it’s my job to find the environment she will thrive in. I can do it. These decisions are hard, the not knowing if you’re doing the right thing by your kid. First of many decisions like this, methinks.

Posted by: cck | August 20, 2014

all the things

Whoa. It’s been… an August? It’s been an August. Full of activity, sickness, health, and happiness – all the things so far this month.

10460229_10152310703693157_354582275893679214_nToday, C3 started in her 2′s classroom. She walked right in, said hello to her teachers (we’ve been practicing), and then started playing. I pray that they love her like her teachers in the 1′s did. I pray that double the amount of kids makes her strong and friendly. I pray that she continues to love counting and colors and letters. Oh goodness, I wish I could keep her with me. She’s so much fun right now. When someone says she’s a girly-girl, I nod and then also add – and a rough and tumble player. When they say she’s a tomboy, I remind them of her penchant for bows. My eldest daughter is all the things.

Last night, in the bath as I washed her still-puke scented hair, I was bathed in how much love and adoration I have for this kid. She drew a fish – coloring on the walls of the tub is a bathtime favorite – and this is all just the start of a whole new world of communication and struggle and growth and OHMYGAWD people. My daughter is growing up. My fears for her class, for her future – they are JUST beginning. The nervousness I felt on Meet the Teacher night is only the first of 18 years for this child. And then COLLEGE. Oh my, all the feels. All the things.

My little special snowflake is not more precious or unique than any of the other two year olds running around, but she’s my little special snowflake. I grew every piece of her when she was still brand-new and unharmed and smelling of heaven. I have poured my energy and soul into hers so she could grow and expand and have opinions different than mine. I have dressed her so others could see instantly what I know all about her. I still know when she falls asleep and the moment she wakes. My hand can comfort beyond all others, my kiss heal every hurt. She is still my very precious baby.

I want her to know that it’s good to dress up and have a bow in your hair, but at the same damn time it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of her appearance. I want her to know she’s beautiful, and at the same damn time that beauty is not only on the outside. I want her to know she’s brilliant and clever, but that doesn’t mean she won’t fail. I want her to be challenged and be safe. I want all the things for her. All the things. One of my friends had a challenge that asked if you could give your child one trait, what would it be? One mother said resilient; she said kind. I’ve been struggling with what thing I would bless on my daughter — balanced. I want her to know and live a balanced life. Enough smock and monograms, enough dirt and trouble, enough science and enough art. I know she is resilient and mostly kind and adaptable (my back-up trait for her). I want her to know ands instead of ors.

2014-08-09 18.24.23Our family – my sweet aunt and my in-laws – conspired to give K and I a day away. I had a massage(!) and K got a haircut. We went to a movie(!). We had casual sex(!). We ate dinner for two and a half hours(!).I drank multiple beers with dinner. And, y’all, it was so so good. It was the first real date we’ve had in MONTHS. There were no errands to run, no agendas. My in-laws kept C3 overnight, and brought C4 home around 9pm. It was so so so good. The hard part was putting the parenting hat back on in the morning. We all met up at church – C3 was thrilled to see us which is such a boost to the ego – but the reminder that no matter how good it feels to be just husband and wife, you’re still parents first. This is a short season in the whirl of our marriage, I know that. I’m glad that together we’re on the same page of how we want to parent, that we’re able to keep our marriage smoldering so that it ignites when we need it. I still wish he’d do the dishes without prompting, but goodness, I love this man.

I can walk. How about that. Or as C3 says, “Look at you, Mommy. Look at you!” Yup. I was expecting 25 – 50% (ie I could start putting 50% weight back on my right leg, for a month). The surgeon told me no restrictions – I made him repeat it over and over again until he was all NO RESTRICTIONS. He did tell me to keep my walker for a while till I felt stable. I kept it for about 12 hours.

PinsI can carry my children from room to room. I think of all the things – the alone time, driving, independence – the thing I missed most was being able to carry my children from room to room. It’s such a simple thing, moving a child. There’s a crying toddler or a sleeping baby, and I just couldn’t do it. Now I can. My arms have purpose again. There are seriously tears running down my face as I write this. I may walk with a modified-hunchback limp, but I can carry my kids. Also, both girls are smart enough to hang on like little monkeys as if neither trust my gait.

I do though. I trust my body. This ol’ thing has given me two babies and got me through the worst injury of my life. It has prevented me from the worst things I’ve thrown at it. And I am so thankful for it. Give your bodies a hug, y’all. That thing you lug around – the shell around your soul – it is very precious. It wants to do right by you.

Also, driving in my new minivan was awesome. Being all alone for the first time in three months was awesome. And then we all came down with the stomach flu. K got it first, then C3, then me. C4 missed it. It was miserable. C3 wouldn’t puke in anything, just throw her head back so it dribbled down her neck and into her hair. We started trying to catch vomit in towels. Which only sort of worked and resulted in so. much. laundry. We made it back though. At one point, K was all, “I couldn’t do this without you.” The next he was all, “You’re doing it wrong.” (See smoldering love above.) C3 was so pitiful I just let him yell at me because he couldn’t fix anything and he was sad. It happens.

It was a lot. August ain’t over. This summer we’ve bought two(!) new cars, a new bed, and now – a new couch. Our home is starting to look like an Ikea catalog outtake. No one has challenged us to the #ALSIceBucketChallenge. We’ve only been to church twice since the end of June. Last Saturday I took both girls to the park, all by myself. It’s all the things.

 

Posted by: cck | July 31, 2014

in the moment

I swear I won’t. When it’s happening, I swear I will remember the face, the smile, the smell, the light. I swear to myself I will remember every moment – the simple ones when K looks over to me and tells me he’s happy. The ones where the weight of both girls holds me down and anchors me. The ones where C3 gives me a hug and whispers, “I love you, momma.” Playing with playdough. Taking a walk with the new double stroller – K pushing me in the wheelchair while I push the girls. Making brownies. Picking out what to wear.

I don’t. I don’t remember them. They float by – and maybe, just maybe – if I’ve taken a picture I will remember them specifically in a year. Because right now they sort of all roll up into one ball of happy. I think the ball of happy is what sustains you when there’s spit up in your mouth, poop on your palm, sleep in your eyes. It’s why we all blog. Right?

This week’s moments:

The joy in C3′s face while watching “Into the Woods.” The girl gets into musical theater and I am now looking into local productions of anything. She was mesmerized. I found myself singing all the words – muscle memory from afternoons with my brother. I loved it.

Jumperoo time with C4 when she figures out the things that spin and shake and move. She’s so damn proud of herself, beaming from ear to ear as her muscles work just like she wants them to. She delights me.

C3 is doing gangbusters with her own room and her own bed. She’s only waking one or two times a night, which ain’t bad. When she wakes up, she wants to come into “Daddy’s bed.” It’s not mine. It’s just Daddy’s.

C3 doesn’t just have legs, she has gams. The girl is getting all shapely and long and I cannot believe she’s really, fully two. She still puts her head on my shoulder, and I treasure the feel of her bony jaw and soft skin.

C4 likes to fall asleep in my arms. Her head all smooshed up against my breast. Yes, she still eats for hours at a time, but she’s happy and fat. And I’m getting my clavicle back.

C3 rubs C4′s head. She giggles and nuzzles her and says, “soft.” The two of them… As much as I want C4 to stay a baby, the future of two girls playing together is there – visible. If only 3 would call her by name. She’s “baby” every time.

 

 

Afternoon Selfies

Afternoon Selfies

Take a picture, mommy

Take a picture, mommy

Jump!

Jump!

He just wants to be covered with kids.

He just wants to be covered with kids.

Her eyelashes are gorgeous.

Her eyelashes are gorgeous.

She's rarely, if ever, still.

She’s rarely, if ever, still.

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