Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Birthday Love

Recently Judah turned 3!

He had a little celebration at his daycare (which also nicely coincided with his last day there).

I meant to give him a 'police' party but Target doesn't do that.  But hey, the avengers are kinda like police, right?

And had another party with his church friends.

I love that Judah was sucking on a blue marker right before this pic was taken.  Sigh.

And received the sweetest homemade card from his 5-year old friend.  Inside his friend wrote: Dear Judah, I love you.  Happy birthday!

Dear Hallmark--you should have a 'made by 5 year olds' card division.  You're welcome.

And while we're on the subject of homemade stuff, here's some pictures Judah drew that I will keep until the day I die.

Judah drew this at age 2.5 and it was the first time anything he drew actually looked kind of like something.  He very deliberately made it blue because policemen are blue, of course.

Judah and Picasso both had masterpieces and 'blue periods'.

This picture, done a month later blew me away.  Judah said "It's a whale mommy!"  Um heck yeah it's a whale!  It's a whale of a whale!  To be honest I don't think the spouse could ever draw a whale as good as this one.

I'm tempted to write out a bunch of 'progress reports' about Judah at age 3--the numbers he can count up to (sort of 20), the letters of the alphabet he knows (all of the capital ones and their sounds!), the milestones he's reached (potty-trained!) or has yet to reach (can't wipe himself). But that all seems a bit tedious...even for a proud mom!

So all I'll say is this. Judah was a difficult baby, a difficult 1 year old, a difficult 2 year old, and now a difficult just-turned-3 year old.

He always has and still does demand attention and energy that no reasonable baby/child should demand of adults. He rubs us raw and wears us down and seems to really enjoy getting on our very last nerve.

But he's also fun. And sweet. And kind-hearted.

And by the grace of God, truly ONLY by the sheer grace of God, we live to tell another year!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pillow Talk

Every night after putting Noah to sleep, I sneak into Judah's room to say a quick good-night.

I tell him I'll stay with him for 5 minutes only and we have some nice mellow conversations.  I always tell myself to digitally record them (if I can only dig out my old recorder), but I'm especially sad I didn't record tonight's conversation.

At least I can kind of reconstruct it here:

Judah: Let's snuggle.  Close your eyes!  You my father-wife (his term for husband and wife).

[We snuggle.]

Judah: Noah is our boy, he's Judah.  And daddy is...Noah!  Daddy is a baby!

[Judah giggles mischievously.]

Judah: When I grow up, I'm going to be a real daddy.

Me:  That's good Judah.  You want to get married?

Judah: Yeah.

Me: Who are you going to marry?

Judah: You!

Me: That would be great but I'm already married to daddy.

Judah: Uh...can I marry Noah?


Judah:  Can I marry Mur-Mur?  (One of his favorite babysitters.)

Me:  Um, sure.  But what about marrying Alexa? (A friend his age at church.)

Judah:  No, I can't marry her.  She's just a girl.  She's not a grown-up.

Me:  But by the time you grow up, she will be all grown up too.

Judah: Oh!  Or I can marry [Judah lists the names of other little girls at church].  Or I can marry Christmas...

At which point I crack up and realize he has no idea what Merry Christmas means.

Good-night my sweet boy.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Perks

I know I do a lot of complaining about parenting.  I can't help it.  Every day feels like a battle that saps me of every ounce of energy.

At 9 pm when the kids are finally both asleep in their beds, I am so mentally and psychically drained that I literally can not get off the couch on which I catatonically lie, staring out into nothingness like a trauma victim, for at least 20 minutes.

But of course there are unparalleled highs as well as lows.  Evidence that kids are awesome?

Exhibit A:

They love eating wooden apples while exuding chubbiness.

Exhibit B:

They love playing with rattles while exuding naked chubbiness.

Exhibit C:

They wear matching shirts.

Exhibit D:

Did I mention naked chubbiness?  Yes?  It's worth mentioning again.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Accidental Housewife: The Accident of all Accidents

I call myself the accidental housewife, because I really never imagined I would be a housewife.  And not just A housewife, but THE housewife.  I mean, is there anything more conventionally 'houswife-ish' than living in the suburbs with 2.5 kids?  But then again, I never imagined a lot of things about the way my life has turned out (funny story about how I became a lawyer--remind me to share that sometime).  It all seems like one long series of...well...accidents.

Well, technically, I don't believe in accidents.  I believe in Providence.  But I use the term 'accidents' loosely to mean something that was not chosen by me.  Sometimes, even diametrically opposed to what I would have chosen.

Growing up in a dysfunctional suburban family (oh how I identified with the movie American Beauty), I could think of nothing worse than continuing to live there as an adult.  I may have been the only person in high school to love country music and fantasize about living on a secluded homestead, growing my own produce and tending my own livestock.  And riding horses everywhere.  Gosh I love(d) horses.

In college, my ambitions took a more humanitarian turn as I fantasized about running an orphanage in some impoverished but happy place, like Botswana.  Again, there was a lot of growing one's own produce and tending one's own livestock, but with some schooling thrown in there.

I also considered joining a circus.  Or a musical troupe.  Seriously.

This was definitely not what I pictured...but it does feel like I joined the circus most days.

Suffice it to say--kids, green lawns, reliable 4-door sedans, and the rest of that was never in the picture.  I didn't want adventure per se, but I definitely wanted a good measure of novelty and...detachment, I suppose.  Being a parent, to me, was the ultimate act of attachment.  Forever you would be committed, responsible, and completely subject to the fate of another.  Talk about shackles.

In that sense, I really wasn't into getting married either.  Sure the companionship would be nice...but it had better be one heck of a companionship that would be worth the...shackling.

And then the accident of all accidents happened--the one that started a series of somewhat inevitable events that led to my, for lack of a better word, demise.

As a newly minted sophomore in college, I met the spouse.

Actually, now that I think of it, the word 'demise' is more than fitting.  I remember feeling that exact sense of finality and closing doors within a few weeks of our meeting.  This was it, I intuited.  The end of the line.

Here would be the person I would marry.  Here was simpatico and the sense of belonging that was simply impossible to pass up.  And he would definitely not be up for country farm-living, or touring with a troupe.

And then the spouse wanted to have a kid.

And then we wanted that kid to have a friend-for-life.

And then we wanted them to have good public education.

And it was impossible to find a work situation that allowed me to spend as much time with my kids as I would like.

And now is now.

Many times I think back on the person who dreamed of living anywhere but the suburbs and I just have to shake my head in wonder.  It feels like I ran to the ends of the earth (if only in my head), only to come back full circle.

But for all the novelty, freedom and horse-riding that has been conclusively given up, I actually feel surprisingly...full...and filled.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

And the Award Goes To...

Today I decided to leave Judah a little quicker when dropping him off at preschool. (The past few days I'd stay for 15-20 min.) It didn't go well at all.

After warning him that I would leave after 2 minutes and reading him a story, I promptly carried through with my words and moved toward the door. Judah was devastated--tears, screaming, clinging to me like a monkey clip-thingy, the works.

Instantly I regretted the decision to leave so quickly--obviously he wasn't ready for it. But there was no turning back now. I had to show Judah I say what I mean and I mean what I say. Besides, the preschool teacher was glaring at me and totally judging.

And so I left.

Poor Judah had giant tears streaming down his crumpled face, screaming like a torture victim. I felt bad, but honestly, not that bad. He was like this when he started daycare and he would probably be fine after 5-10 minutes. But still, it never feels good to see your kid completely fall apart because he needs you and you are LEAVING him.

This week of transitioning to a new school has been pretty tough on Judah. Always the picky eater, he never ate his lunches and had trouble going to the potty by himself. His teachers assumed he could do everything on his own but he needed help pulling his pants off (and didn't get the help in time resulting in several pee accidents).

On his second day the teacher reported that Judah cried a little during lunch. When asked why, he told her "I miss my mommy."

Another day when the spouse went to pick up Judah he was sitting off to the side on the benches, all by himself. The teachers explained that he didn't want to play with the other kids and just wanted to "wait for my mommy to pick me up."

Loner boy on the benches by himself.  At least he didn't wet his pants (again).

With all those images playing in my head, I drove home with a heavy heart and proceeded to put Noah down for a nap. Noah, going through some bad sleep issues of his own, proceeded to scream his ever-loving head off for 45 minutes while I "nap-trained" him, at which point I totally felt like I won the Mother of the Year Award.

Oh yeah, with all the ear-piercing screaming and crying today, I'd say it's in the bag.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The New Boy

Judah's first day at preschool went really well.

After meeting his classmates for about 5 minutes, he said "Bye mommy," indicating that he was basically ready for me to get back in my car and drive away.

Well that was easy!

Before I left he asked "When you gonna pick me up?"  I explained that after lunch and nap time and some more playing I would come back, just like at the daycare.  He said "Okay, hug (we hugged), kiss (we kissed), bye mommy."

So brave, so strong, my little big boy.

As always it was me that had the hardest time--wondering what he was doing and how he was getting along with the other kids.  It helped that there were some very adorable and outgoing kids in his class--3 of them instantly introduced themselves to me and rambled on about random things.  Of course, being the overprotective mom, I told them "I'm Judah's mommy.  It's his first day.  Can you help him get settled?"

When I picked him up at the end of the day he was sitting with his classmates playing with play-do.  He said he had fun, liked his new school, and had a good day.  He had one pee accident during quiet time and didn't fall asleep on his napping mat.  But on his daily report his teachers wrote that he had a great first day.

I hope things continue to go well, but I know at least one thing that's bound to get nasty--the germ situation.  They say kids get sick at least 12 times the first year they are in preschool.  Ugh.  Not looking forward to that.

My Big Boy

Tomorrow will be Judah's first day at his new preschool.

I don't know why I feel so jittery.

Probably because it's a big facility with 5 classrooms and about 20 kids in each class.  Definitely more "school" like than anything Judah's ever been at.  I hope he likes it.  I hope he makes friends.  I hope they remember to put his sun hat on him when he plays outside.

And I hope he'll be brave and let go of my hand when I drop him off tomorrow.

This is the photo I submitted to his preschool--he of the crooked smile.

My baby is all grown up.  He turns 3 the day after tomorrow, but it feels like he's already 4.  Probably because he's tall.  And because he says ridiculous things.  Like lately he's been calling me "old lady."  WHAT?!

And just yesterday he woke up screaming in the middle of night and said, "Mommy I had a bad dream.  I dreamed you were pushing out a baby."  HAHAHAHAHA.  Apparently Judah and his dad have the same kind of nightmares.

I reassured him that there was no baby in my tummy and it was just a dream, not real.  And then for the next 15 minutes he kept wimpering "no baby...there's no baby..."

I guess someone is not entirely thrilled about being a big brother, ha!

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

"There is a Friend..."

A couple weeks ago I had a very special treat--a visit from my dear dear friend Mandi with her sweet little guy.

Although we hadn't really seen each other in 8 years, she's one of those friends--the kind that you just know you'll cherish for all time, no matter how far apart you live from each other.  I'll never forget how floored I was when, upon hearing that I might not have someone to watch Judah while I went into labor with Noah, she actually offered to fly up WITH HER TODDLER AND INFANT to watch Judah for me.  If that's not a Proverbs 18:24 friend, then I don't know who is (well, other than Christ of course).

One of the last times we saw each other in 2005--6 moves, 3 states, and 4 kids ago!

When Mandi and I first met eons ago (before the spouse and I were even married), we instantly clicked.  So I suppose it wasn't that surprising that our two kids would click right away when meeting each other for the first time.  Almost immediately, they hit it off--giggling, running around, just good plain ol' toddler fun.  It probably helped that they are just 3 months apart in age.

We tried to pack in as much fun as possible while not wearing out the kids too much--going to the zoo, going swimming, toodling around San Francisco. Those few days flew by and too quickly it was time to say our goodbyes.

These guys gave some great goodbye hugs and kisses to each other.

The saying goes--I left my heart in San Francisco. But in this case, a big part of my heart just left.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Child-Free Life?

Wow Time Magazine, way to rub it in.

Ever since Noah was born I've been feeling kind of beat down by the whole "raising kids" thing.  I'm not going to lie--when I see couples with just one kid or no kids, I feel pangs of envy.

I half joke to all my friends that Judah was just entering his easy phase (after being an exhausting baby and toddler) and then we had to screw ourselves all over again by having #2.  Now here we go again with the whole exhausting ordeal--the sleep deprivation, the feeling like a hostage while nursing, the fussy crying, etc, etc.

Listen, I know babies are blessings and miracles.  I know we are lucky to have them.  They are little angels of love and sunshine, blah blah blah.  But frankly, until they reach age 3, they are also huge pains in the butt.

I'm not going to launch into a litany of all the ways I've been deprived since a child emerged from my womb since I've already documented them here and here.  But let me just say this--I actually looked forward to going into labor with Noah because it was the closest thing I've had to a vacation resort since Judah was born.

Once I checked into the hospital (aside from the whole annoying labor part), I could have 3 blissful days and 2 peaceful nights without my toddler constantly demanding, whining, crying and generally annoying me.  And all meals were provided.  I could finally just kick up my heels, put on a movie, and not get up for as long as I wanted.

In reality, the hospital stay sucked because Noah had jaundice and I had to wake up every 3 hours at night, schlep down to the NICU and nurse the kid.  But in theory, the hospital stay should've been awesome.

Anyway, to be fair to the whole parenting thing--it's probably not that bad if you have relatives nearby who can help.  But we have none of that.  I imagine it makes a big difference if you can get a break once or twice a week or even a big getaway break once or twice a year.

Nope, it's an all day every day proposition for us.  No sick days.  No vacations.  And most annoyingly, no evenings off.

So yes, I was salivating just a little bit as I browsed that magazine cover article.  And yes, I fantasize about having a child-free life.

But then I see stuff like this... makes me want to thank someone.