...because we all have our motley moments!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Look out.... here comes Spiderman! (Doesn't he really look like spiderman? He thinks that he really is Spiderman. He doesn't even know who Spiderman is, he just loves all things "Superhero.")

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na.....BATMAN! (He won't wear the mask. He says, "It's too scary!" My husband thinks he looks like he is in the KKK.)

And our "Little Pumpkin"! (She is big and round and smiley. Even without the costume!)

Happy Halloween from our house to yours!

I'd love to see everyone elses little darlings in costume, too. Please show them off!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Take a Look

Kay, over at Pretty With Ribbons is hosting a giveaway this week. Head over to her site for a chance to win this beautiful zipper pouch! She is also including a matching tissue holder for this giveaway!

Voting and The Crud

Yesterday I voted and last night and this morning I kept getting so confused - Why are there still campaign ads on TV? Why does Barack Obama still show up on every site I visit? Oh, wait. It's not over until next Tuesday. I think there should be a switch on your TV and computer where you can turn off the ads once you've voted. I highly recommend this early voting. My husband and I went to our public library yesterday around 4:30 and there was a line! I have never waited in line to vote before. People were there of all races and ages and some even had their children with them, which I thought was cool. Of course, if I took my kids, Ethan would run around and probably knock over a voting booth and Micah would chew on my pencil and crumple up my ballot. Maybe when they're older. Anyway, yesterday was also the first time I was excited to vote. Not only for my candidate, but because no matter who wins, this election is definitely history in the making. When my sister-in-law told us she had voted early, my husband asked, "Did you vote for the black man or the white woman?" He was being cheeky, but there's some truth in his question. It is truly a historic occasion; I believe there will be record voter turnout and I am excited to see how it all plays out.
In other news, we have been having A WEEK around here. Both of my kids have The Crud. It started with Ethan as a normal cold, but has taken residence in his chest for the past 2 weeks. It has now been passed to Micah and his cough is even worse. I took him to the pediatrician who said it's probably RSV. He's getting better - sloooooowwwwwly. The lovely cold weather we've been having hasn't helped with these colds, but I've enjoyed it nonetheless, although I realized a little too late that my boys don't have enough pants or long-sleeved shirts. I also came to the conclusion that my husband and I are going to FREEZE when we go to NYC in 3 weeks (!!!). Ethan has also entered into a bit of a bratty stage. Everything is a battle. I can't wait until he's 14! Micah has started pulling up on things, so if you see him with bruises all over his forehead, that's why. This morning I'm thanking God for the gift of preschool. I should clean something, but I think I'll just sit here for a while and enjoy my chilly quiet house while Micah naps and Ethan learns. Or pushes someone down on the playground. Whatever.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

clutter is as clutter does

I am the exact opposite of Brystal. Don't get me wrong. I wish I was as organized as Brystal. I'm just not.

Clutter, Clutter, CLUTTER!!!! I can't stand it. I run away any chance I get. Don't I need something at Walmart/Publix/Library/Anywhereelsebuthome? If I'm home, don't I need to check email/cook/play with kids/make a phone call/clean up emergency messes?

I look at the papers/clothes/shoes/books/kids' artwork/photos and wonder where am I going to put everything? What do I throw away? What do I keep? How do other people do it? I feel paralyzed by the enormity of the situation.

I am trying to teach my kids how to organize - Hah! As I'm explaining to them why it's important to clear-up, their probably looking at MY stuff thinking, what's the dealio?

My glimmer of hope is that maybe one day I will be strong enough to just clean everything out and come up with some strategic organizational decisions.

Maybe today's the day.


I will start today.

Pray for me.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Giveaway

::Comments are now closed::
With the holidays around the corner, we have entered into that season of giving. We at Motley Moms are in the giving spirit, and are hosting a giveaway!

This giveaway is for one Ribbon Minky Dot Blanket, with a soft chenille front, smooth satin back, and personalized monogramming.
To enter, you simply need to leave a comment by Friday, October 31 at 11:59 pm. The winner will be selected randomly and contacted on Monday morning! Thanks for stopping by Motley Moms and good luck!
Take a look over here for more great giveaways!

My Name is Bryssy and I Have A Problem

(picture by Handmade Daily)

The problem is that I love to be organized. Super organized. Ultra super organized.(I've been called anal before - which I took as a compliment, actually.) I am known for making spreadsheets. Mail merges. Databases. Even the mention of these things kind of makes me glaze over. In a good way.

So, recently, I decided to re-organize myself. I wanted to get a new daily notebook and low and behold, Teresa, gave me this for my birthday. Not only is it beautiful and personalized, it works perfectly as my daily journal and organizational system.

I love to organize on my computer, my USB drive alone has hundreds of folders and files from years gone by. I love that thing. Seriously. But, I am not online every time I need to organize, so I use my daily notebook to keep me on top of things.

The inside of this notebook has sweet little pockets for pens and such. Of course, that's what I use them for. The larger pocket is perfect for stamps and return address labels. Underneath this, I stick the bills that I need to pay. A few little letter stickers decorated this spot. It reminds me that I need to look in there, too!

Simple Mom has the MOST EXCELLENT daily planner (she calls it the Daily Docket). I print this and shrink it to 75% for my daily planner use. I organize a week at a time using these in the very front of my notebook. Here was yesterday's plan. You can get your own Daily Docket here.

Simple Mom also has an awesome master grocery list. I shrink these as well, and put them next to the calendar for the month. I just printed a pretty calendar from A Print A Day to fit my page. I like to make is smaller than my page so that I can see the whole month but still have room to makes some notes on it.

On the next page, I just glued an envelope I made from an old calendar page so that I can store this month's receipts. The next page has our monthly budget (more or less) and I record our actual spending next to it. I find it much easier to input into my spreadsheet once a month if I do it this way.

I use the back of the notebook cover to store my blank Daily Docket pages and Grocery Lists. This notebook was just exactly what I needed! Teresa is GOOD!

I have pages in the notebook dedicated to Christmas 2008, Birthdays & Other Important Dates (by month) 2009, Home Ideas by Room, Looking For Items when I'm out shopping, and just random miscellaneous notes. I cut out little pictures or save notes about articles or brainstorm about blog articles I want to write. Once I fill this book, I'll get another one that fits my RadiCool cover.

I've used this system for a couple of years, and it works well for me. Tell me how do you stay organized? Do you? What works? What doesn't?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Sweet Little Giveaway!

Okay, I've got to tell you about this great giveaway over at Teresa's blog, Handmade Daily. She makes adorable stuff for kids and classic, retro-looking aprons and cute bags for the grown-up girls. She is giving away a small tote and crayon roll from her Etsy shop to anyone who comments on her blog! Go check it out!!!

Good luck, but I hope I win!

Our Battle with the Russian Government

Our battle with the Russian government began on September 1, 2004, and lasted for more than a year. After over 100 sleepless nights, countless prayers for our relief, two trans-Atlantic flights, a threat of arrest and thousands of dollars in legal fees, we emerged from the small dark Russian courtroom victorious. We were finally parents!

Today, we are celebrating our Family Day. It has been three years since the adoption of our son was finalized in Astrakhan, Russia. Astrakhan is deep Russia. We went to Cancun on our honeymoon, so I thought I was prepared to travel to a foreign country. When our plane landed in Astrakhan, I immediately decided that Cancun doesn't count as a foreign country.

We traveled to Russia on a blind referral, meaning we did not know how old our child would be or if our child was a girl or boy. Thank goodness Prilosect was released over-the-counter that summer! Here is a picture of our first meeting.
We met our son shortly before his first birthday. Per Russian law at that time, we had to leave him in the orphanage in Russia and come back six weeks later to finalize the adoption. Most women say they forget the pains of childbirth soon after seeing their new baby, and the same is true about our adoption journey. It was a stress-filled, nerve racking, roller coaster ride, but now only the fond memories seem to linger. Our day in court was challenging, but my husband did great! He had to make a speech about why we wanted to adopt this child and how we planned to care for him. His speech was so thorough that the judge did not ask him any questions, and our case worker was so proud of him! Later that night we went out to celebrate with the other American couple adopting through our agency. They quickly became our new best friends, and are now like members of our family. The next day was like a fairy tale. We took flowers and beautiful cakes to the orphanage workers as we picked up our son. I love this photo (my son and husband are on the left). We are leaving the orphanage and never looking back!

Even though our adoption only took about 14 months, our journey to our son was seven years filled with bitterness, disappointment and anguish. I wanted a child so badly, yet was never able to conceive. Our son too had a long journey to get to us. He is a survivor and a fighter. In Russia, when a child is placed for adoption, they spend the first several weeks of their lives in a hospital in quarantine to be sure they are healthy. Our son then spent the next several months living in the orphanage sharing a crib with at least one other baby. Because of this, Family Day at our house is a giant celebration. Three wounded hearts were united as one to mend together into a loving family.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This morning was a monumental one in our household. Our adorable little two-year-old son used the potty for the first time. He really used it. There was cheering, congratulating, sticker-ing, and even picture taking (Yeah, I know--I never would have done this had I not seen Kate Gosselin do it on her show. I thought it was disgusting when she did it, but I guess we can just add this to the list of how much of a hypocrite I've become since I became a mom...)

But here's the thing. If I'm truly honest I have to admit...I'm terrified of this new milestone. Things are changing around here, and I'm not big on change.

I know that the end result of potty training will be cheaper, but I'm sure we'll find something else to spend our once-allocated-for-diapers money on. It will probably be less work for me since I will eventually become a less integral part of the whole process once the diaper changing days are over, but what will I spend my time doing then? Is this the point where I get to start eating bonbons and watching soap operas? I'm up for more candy, but soap operas get boring after a while. Is he going to stop needing me now? Potty training today, off to college tomorrow...time is just flying by and I don't know what to do!

(taking a breath)

All right, sorry about that. I guess it's just that this morning was a clear example of something I've known for a while but have wanted to avoid. He's growing up and he won't always be the charming little guy he is now. He went to bed last night having never used the potty, and he woke up this morning a potty-goer. He will absolutely be a charming bigger guy, and then an even more charming even bigger guy, but I will always remember these days of new words and first times with fondness.

So, I'm going to spend this Sunday afternoon with our little guy, celebrating his successes, mending his boo boos, and thinking about today. And changing his diapers, if only for a little while longer.

My Motley Splurge

(Photo by Kay, Pretty With Ribbons)

This bag was created by Kay over at Pretty With Ribbons. I am now the proud owner of this truly "motley" creation. What I love about it is how she has put colors and prints together that I would NEVER think to group into one piece. It's beautiful and the perfect representation of motleyness: colorful and incongruent.

I love it!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Claiming My Adventure

Today you are You,
That is truer than true.
There is no one alive
Who is Youer than You.
Dr. Seuss

So, at MOPS on Thursday, we had such a small group, I thought I'd share some things we talked about during our Mentor Mom discussion with Miriam. We were talking about the loss of identity many of us face after becoming mothers. Many of us no longer have the time or energy to spend on pursuits solely for our own pleasure or personal growth. We forget who we are apart from the labels we have acquired: wife, mother, sister, teacher, daughter, etc.

Miriam's questions to us included:

"Are there parts of yourself you feel you've lost and you deeply desire to regain?"

"How do you define your identity? By your kids? Spouse? Career?"

And the last one was a doozy: "Can you believe that you were created with amazing potential and with gifts that only you can bring to the table? If not, what's holding you back from embracing this truth?"

Her challenge to us:

"Consider your own talents and interests God's gift to you. What is your purpose in life, and how can you use those gifts to fulfill God's plan for you? Carve a block of time from your daily mothering routine to focus on your own passions."

Hello, Motley Moms! This is exactly why I began this blog several months ago. It's my outlet, my sounding board, my connection to friends, my way of practicing one of my chosen crafts. I hope Motley Moms is a blessing to you as it has been for me.

Thank you all for all your witty words of wisdom, shining examples of motherhood at its lowest, and inspirational reminders of the blessings we enjoy in this life. If this is not your passion, figure out what is and make a bit of time to develop it. Go find YOU!


Donna, Motley-est Mom of the Day!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Writer's Block

I can't think of anything to write. Honestly. I am at a loss. We tried to start potty training this week, but it was such a disaster I can't write about it. I just can't. Ever since I started reading Rachel's blog I have wanted to do a list of 100 things about me you might not (want to) know. Don't worry - I won't do all 100 tonight - I'm not sure I can ever come up with 100. But here are the first 20:

1. I am a second degree black belt in tae kwon do.
2. I am an Apple/Mac snob. Seriously. I feel physical discomfort when I have to use Internet Explorer.
3. I have been to a New Kids on the Block concert.
4. I spent New Year's 2004 in Trafalgar Square with the rest of the UK. It was crowded. I did not like it.
5. I have seen Luke Perry's naked butt. I did like it :).
6. I am an only child.
7. I have a completely different set of morals while watching Alabama football. For instance, I can be heard saying things like, "Kill him! Make him bleed!", especially while watching the annual Alabama/Auburn game.
8. I have lived in 4 different states - Alabama, Tennessee, Montana, and Florida.
9. When I was a kid I was in a greased pig race and my parents made me ride in the trunk of the car on the way home because I was so muddy. They kept the lid open, at least.
10. I taught 9th and 10th grade English for 9 years before Ethan was born.
11. I don't have a gall bladder. I was born with one, it just had to be removed.
12. I was born in Alabama, ergo the college football fanaticism, tendency to say things like, "We can't go to Manny's! It'll be covered up!", and my son saying, "dawg" instead of "dog."
13. The day the final Harry Potter book was released, my husband and I sent our son to his aunt's house, bought 2 copies, and spent all day reading. We read so long we got sick, but we finished.
14. When I was 3, I could take apart and assemble an M-16. That's a Marine rifle, for those of you who are not firearm-savvy.
15. I have had the chicken pox twice.
16. I've already mentioned this in a comment on Bryssy's blog, but I eat M&M's in twos by color - brown, then yellow, then orange, red, blue, and I save the green ones for last. This is especially difficult in a movie theater, but I manage.
17. When I was in the 4th grade, I watched Star Wars every day after school. Consequently, I have seen Star Wars over 200 times.
18. I have an irrational fear of clowns.
19. My children were born within 3 days of being exactly 2 years apart. Did someone say "anniversary sex"?
20. By the way, I have a tendency to say inappropriate things.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Down To One

We're down to one dog. Let me tell you, the two dogs we got from Animal Control a few months ago are awesome dogs. The problem is that one of them just can't take all the commotion that kids create constantly, so we found Charlie a home last week.

I am happy to report that all is well with him and us. He is thriving in his new home with his new Mommy. She spoils him rotten and he gets to take 5, yes five, walks every day. He's allowed on the couch and has already made new friends. I think if Sasha (our other dog) knew how good he has it now, she would be begging me to send her over there too. Heck! I want to live there!

If you have ever tried to relocate a family pet, then you know how difficult it can be. I have tried relocating pets before and have had varying degrees of success. It is rare that everything just works out perfectly, but in my case it actually did this time!

Now that he is gone, I have to say that it is really nice having only one doggie at a time. Before, they were best friends and their human family was secondary. This doesn't go over very well with kids. I saw a few sad looks on my girls' faces when they got dissed by the playing dogs.
The following photo is an example of their happy faces now that our dog likes to play with my girls. This is a photo of Sasha and my daughter on the boat this past weekend.
I thought of a few more reasons why it is nice having only one dog.

Top five reasons for having one dog:

1. It's cheaper

2. Only one dog barking and/or pooping in the house at a time

3. The one dog is nicer to us

4. It's much easier to walk one dog on a leash. One dog is also nicer to other dogs in the neighbor.

5. You don't have to do everything in two's because you don't want to "hurt" the other dog's feelings (petting, snacks, walks, etc...)

Have any of you relocated a family pet? How did it go?
Totally unrelated...
Can I brag? This is my other daughter water skiing for the first time behind the boat. I'm a proud Mama! She's 6. I think I was about 25 when I first tried to water ski. She got up on the first try!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some Favorites

In the spirit of Karly's post last week. I though I would share some of my favorite blogs and websites with you. Some of these are on my bloglist, some are not.

A Yankee in a Southern Kitchen has some great, down home recipes. She has fantastic pictures, too. I have gotten many a good recipe from her.

The Pioneer Woman is just plain hilarious. Her cooking page has really super recipes. I also enjoy her ongoing story, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. It's about how she met and married her husband. Kind of Harlequin-esque. Good reading, she adds a new chapter about once a month!

Crafty stuff is everywhere on One Pretty Thing (thanks Teresa!). I seriously love her Daily DIY roundup. I try no less than 2 projects found on her posts every week. Love it. Seriously.

Vintage Holiday Crafts has a TON of free vintage clip art and cards. I love to print these and make my own tags and cards with these images. Totally rad.

The Lil Bee has all kinds of stuff. I like her writing and pretty ideas.

In my own mind, not so much in reality, I envision hosting all kinds of fun get-togethers. The Party Perfect blog has some really sweet ideas. I wish I had the time and energy to do this kind of stuff.

I found this site through a series of clicks and searches. It's in Japanese but easy to figure out. You upload a picture and it makes it look old and vintage. Sweet. Try it, it's kind of addicting.

Simple Mom totally helps me. Free downloads and tips. I wish I could be this awesome! Plus, I love her pictures. She is currently preparing for the holidays in a stress free way. Lots of great suggestions, I totally need this.

Home Ec 101 is so super fantastic. Being a Home Ec teacher myself, I love this site. It's organized into four basic categories: Clean It, Cook It, Fix It, and Wash It. A must read for moms. And dads. Basically everybody.

Baby Cheapskate posts deals on baby and young child stuff. A must read if you want a deal. For realz people!! You know I LOVE that!

I feel particularly bonded to The Lazy Organizer. She's like me, but way better. WAY WAY better.

And just a warning. I read Cake Wrecks, religiously. Seriously. I am known to take pictures of cakes and send them in. Professionally made cakes. Our WalMarts in town has some doosies!

What are your favorite reads?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Economics 101

You could spend hours analyzing news reports on unemployment rates, the cost of a barrel of oil, and the number of foreclosed homes, but you don’t have to be a financial wiz to know times are tough - just look at the price of a gallon of milk. In my former life, I was paid to analyze revenue and expenses, and account for inflation and potential growth for our company, so here is my “expert” and humble opinion. While our country may or may not be facing a recession, there is a big gray economic depression looming over my family.

In these tough times, we are determined to pay what we owe to all of our creditors and live within our means so that I can stay home with our son. Lately, living within our means is really cramping our style, and so I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my grandma and how she survived the great depression. She saved everything; nothing was trash. Bacon grease was saved in an empty coffee can to fry something else. All scraps of food went into a five-gallon bucket on the back porch to feed the chickens. She made her own jelly and canned everything that her garden produced. When she made a cake, it was from scratch, and many of the gifts she gave were handmade embroidered pillowcases or crocheted blankets. Even though she was very young during the depression, she never changed her habits.

I have also been spending a lot of time asking God to help me be a good steward of the money we do have. Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” It is still hard for me to accept what is a need in my life and what is a want, but God has been so generous to us. Here are some ways we have been enjoying his glorious riches on a shoestring budget.

1. Be creative. I decided to make my son’s Halloween costume this year even though I really didn’t know how I was going to do it. He wanted to be a pirate, so I was able to buy 1 yard of felt for $3.00. One yard was more than enough for his hat and patch leaving plenty left over for something else. Grandma would be proud.

2. Reuse. I wanted my son to have a swing. We left his baby swing behind when we moved, and I promised myself he would have a new one here. A local tire store let us have a used bald one for free, so all we had to do was buy the rope.

3. Treat yourself at home. We were lucky enough to find a lime tree in our back yard, so as the limes ripen, I am making some lime shake-ups just like at the fair. I love sweets, so I decided to make my own candy instead of buying it. This weekend I made some caramels to go with some apples, and some fudge.

4. Go green in cleaning. I found a great website today that gives instructions on making your own household cleaners out of cheap and environmentally safe products. These are the things my Grandma used to clean with. Check it out: http://www.thegreenguide.com/doc/120/diy

5. Reduce (this one isn’t for the faint of heart). Being the primary toilet paper user in our home, I have decided to limit small jobs to two squares. When I use the soap to wash my hands, I try to use a smaller dab. If I can cut my use in half, I am basically cutting prices in half too.

I hope this will give you some ideas for living it up at home, and if you visit my home, you might want to bring extra toilet paper.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ah, childhood...

I honestly thought I was getting the hang of this parenting thing. I was even starting to feel like I was becoming a fairly decent mom, if not a little motley. This week, however, I have encountered a whole new dimension to this childhood thing--I believe it's called "sibling rivalry."

Now, before those of you who know me start panicking thinking that I have acquired a new child on my little road trip, I'm talking about my son's relationship with his cousin. No, they are not really siblings, but they are as close as either is going to get for a little while. My nephew has just turned three, and this is the first time he and my just-turned-two year old son have been in the same place since last Christmas.

Both of these boys are adorable, precious little human beings with such generous personalities when they are by themselves, but visiting my parents this week has opened up an enormous can of worms for their developing minds--they have discovered that indeed, each is not the only grandson, and that is not setting well with either of them.

The initial confrontation went something like this:

(Both boys are strapped in their car seats, laughing and giggling, on the way to the pumpkin patch.)

Nephew: Are we going to see Papa when we get home? (Nephew excitedly asks.)

Son: (Recognizing the word "Papa") My Papa!

Nephew: (Responding in an educational manner) No, he's MY Papa.

Son: (Sensing a reaction) MYYYY Papa!

Nephew: (Whining) NANA! He said he's his Papa, but he's MYYYYYYY Papa!

Son: (Loving the reaction) MYYYYYYYYYYYY Papa!

Nephew: Waaaahhh! He's MYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY Papa!!!!!

Son: (Loud squeal, slaps at nephew)

Nephew: Waaaaahhhhh! He hit me!!!

Son: (Pointing to nephew innocently) Mommy, [He's] crying!!!

This little exchange continued for the rest of the journey with various other things substituted for "Papa"--they contested the possession of Nana, both Mommies, apples, pumpkins, and of course, the moon (no kidding). There have been lots of laughs and fun times this week, but those have been accompanied by quite a few slaps and cries as well. They may have a confrontation and then be begging to take a bath together five minutes later, so it's been a little confusing.

I remember that as a little girl my sister and I fought quite a bit, and at least we don't really walk around slapping each other now, so surely they will grow out of this. For the moment, though, it's been quite a struggle to keep up with their mood swings. Honestly, sometimes it's hard to keep a straight face, too (especially during the "moon" disagreement). I guess it's just something to put in the "For Future Family Reunions" conversation file for use when they are in high school and are in need of some embarrassing childhood stories.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Excuses, Feeling Sorry for Myself...and a Warning

Ladies, I've got nothin' today. I'm sick. Little One's sick. Today was supposed to be her 2nd birthday party...The Very Hungry Caterpillar party. We just can't do it. The thought of her blowing snot on the cake as she blows out the candles is enough to make everyone wish they'd stayed home.

Besides that, she was up into the wee hours, completely wired and not herself at all. She was running from the front of the house to the back of the house, back and forth, back and forth. It was disturbing, to say the least (especially if you know how laid back she usually is). The cause: Children's Sudafed. It turned our calm, sweet girl into this frenzied streak. She woke up at 8:00 PM after going to bed at 6:45 completely exhausted. From 8:00 until about 11:00 PM, she ran back and forth, unable to relax or cuddle.

I'm not really sure when she finally went back to sleep. Paul stayed up with her, thank God. I was practically comatose from a long day of driving with my mom and sisters. We had my grandfather's memorial service yesterday at the National Cemetery in Bushnell (he was a veteran). By the time I got home last night, my voice was pretty much gone and my throat was killing me. I went right to bed and slept until Little One woke us all up at 6:00 AM when she ran out of her room and crashed into something in the living room. Nothing like being scared awake to get your adrenaline pumping.

So, we're off to a great start today. I hope your weekend is relaxing and fun. Try not to think of my misery. I wouldn't want my pain to mar your family fun.

Liz, now is probably a good time for me to start that list...I need to go find some paper....

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Love Story

When Ethan was born (I have decided to dispense with the nicknames, either out of cynicism or naivete, not sure which), I was in love with this tiny little baby. As soon as the nurse put him on my chest, I knew I wanted to do that again, I wanted another child. I had never felt such love. I walked around the house for two weeks with a dopey expression on my face, like a lovestruck teenager. I spent time just watching him. We napped in the afternoons on the couch, Ethan on my chest, scooting up so that his head was right under my chin. I would move him down so that I could breathe, and he would scoot right back up under my chin. Then something happened...
Ethan became a toddler. He walked, ran, talked. He had opinions, most of which were not aligned to my own. He napped in his own bed, when he napped. He hit, he yelled, "No!", he refused to hug his grandmother, refused to consume anything but goldfish and apple juice.
Where was my sweet baby, the one who lay on my chest, with his head under my chin?
It was an adjustment, to say the least. And it didn't happen suddenly - he didn't go from a babbling, gummy-smiling baby to a defiant toddler overnight. But I was certainly thrown for a loop. I still loved him, of course, but now I also fought with him, bargained, bribed, negotiated.
We napped separately, when we napped at all. I couldn't even see the baby in the face of this little boy, though I knew they were the same person.
It happened on our trip a couple of weeks ago. I was giving Ethan a bath and a look crossed his face. I saw him. I saw the baby he used to be. I nearly fell over. I also fell in love again. I looked at myself in the mirror and the dopey expression had returned.
I have another grinning, sweet, cuddly baby now - Ethan's brother Micah. I know that soon enough, he'll be an opinionated, defiant toddler. But I pray that I can always see the baby he is now.
When I was pregnant with Ethan, a co-worker gave me great advice. She said, "When my son was born, everyone said, 'Wait till he's two!' and I decided then and there to enjoy him at every age. I enjoyed him when he was two and I enjoy him now that he's a teenager and I'll enjoy him when he's forty. Enjoy your kids, no matter what age they are."
That's what I'm trying to do with my boys - enjoy them more every day instead of wondering where my babies went.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happily Playing

Happy Moments in the Sun Playing with Moon Sand

Sweet Sisters Playing Princesses in their Castle

Princesses Making Cakes

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Family Bed at our House

We have a family bed. Really. Seriously.

Because of my single mom status after THE Princess was born, it was much easier for me to have her near me to maximize our rest times. It was very natural and she and I had plenty of room, sharing a queen-size bed. After meeting RM, he understood that sharing a bed with THE Princess was something that we would need to do. I did try to put her in her crib a few times and it didn't go well. I would try to be tough but lay awake listening to her whimper. RM really couldn't take it and would go after her. Snugging her in between us, we all usually slept well.

When the King of the Jungle was on the way. We upgraded to a King size bed. Wow, what a lot more space!! No more toddler feet in the back or head!

When KOTJ came home, I didn't even attempt to put him into the crib. I immediately took him to bed with us. I never even looked back. Now, we all snug in together. I am able to nurse him at night with minimal disruptions to our rest. In fact, he normally doesn't even open his eyes, he just rustles in his sleep next to me and I know to nurse him. Early in the morning when the kids wake, THE Princess loves to move over to KOTJ and "snug him up," as she says.

Do I worry about SIDS? Not even a little. I sleep with my hand on his chest. It's a very light sleep. My mom calls it the "Mother's Ear." I don't worry about getting grief from the pediatrician, either. I am not too ashamed to admit that I don't tell him. He has to advise what the American Academy of Pediatrics says. It's a CYA thing. Plus, there is plenty of research that sides with me, too. But, really it goes back to the best advice. The advice my mom gave me.

"Remember that no one knows your family like you do. No one knows your children like you do. Do what you know is right for you and your family, even if it doesn’t agree with the ‘experts’ and even if it doesn’t agree with me.”

The family bed works for us. We lay, snugged together, in the gloaming, and talk and sing and love. I wouldn't change it.

I guess when more little darlings grace our lives...we're gonna need a bigger bed!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Motley-est Mom of All?

It's me - for lots of reasons.

1. I love Motley Crue. Dr. Feelgood was just released sometime around my junior year in high school, and it still makes my list of all-time faves. I can still remember where I was and who told me what they were talking about in track #9, and track #11, "Time for Change", is still one of my all time favorite songs.

2. Based on hair alone, I am the motley-est. My husband, son, and I have just moved to sunny Florida from the Midwest, and my hair has had the hardest time adjusting. Did anyone see the Friend's episode when they went to the Caribbean and Monica's hair kinked into an afro? Well, my hair is kind of like that. One look at my MOPS international photo would prove it, but of course, I am not going to post it.

3. I am flawed and really trying to come to terms with it. I am a perfectionist. I have been a Christian since I was a young child, but for some reason, I never grasped the concept of saved by grace, not works. So, I judge myself regularly on where I miss the mark. If I am stressed, I'll be the first to snap or snarl at my dear and sometimes innocent husband, and almost everyone everywhere knows my son's name. If he doesn't walk up to them and tell them, they figure it out when they hear me yell it as I am chasing after him from 50 yards away. I know our son is God's perfect plan for our family, and he is an awesome and wonderful gift, but I regularly wonder why God didn't give each of us the same amount of energy.

4. The other moms in this group are fantastic - not at all motley. I'm not even sure where the name came from. I met Liz in the first week we moved here. She gave me hope that we had not ruined our lives by making this crazy move. I met Rachel next. I truly believe it was divine intervention that willed me to go to the library that day. Rachel told me about MOPS and lots of other great programs for Alex. Then, she even introduced me to her friends. These girls have been so kind to me and Alex. They have taken us in as family, and they are as great as their blogs. They really do live the way they write. I can't believe God has given me such a wonderful support system in this hot and humid new land.

So, as the motley-est mom of all, I'm not sure what I can bring to the table. It probably won't be tips for teaching your four-year-old manners or even how to walk from place to place instead of running. Maybe I'll just spend my time telling you about how great and wonderful my little boy is - how he is another perfect gift from God that I don't deserve, but more on that to come.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Old Kentucky Home

Oh, the sun shines bright...

On my Old Kentucky home...

On my Old Kentucky home far away.

This week I am going where I consider to be my "home" at this time of year. Florida is wonderful, and this is our new home, but a voice on the wind still calls to me when the leaves begin to turn and paint the rolling hills...

On a lighter note, check in next Sunday for what are certain to be funny stories from the road involving 16+ hours in a car with a two-year-old!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chicks 'n Ducks 'n Geese Better Scurry...OR How to Achieve Dork Status In Just One Post

Here's our dream car...a real "Surrey With the Fringe on Top!" (My husband and I met when we starred in a little theater musical production of Oklahoma!...if you've never seen it, then the Surrey reference doesn't make sense...he sang this song to me every night). It already has two child seats on the front, so we wouldn't need carseats. You can even get little electric motors for these to help you pedal up hills and stuff. And a cool basket trunk for the back. And I love the Uga horn!

But if we decide to go for another one of these...

...then we'll need one of these instead...