Category Archives: Introspection

I Feel You

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I feel you, little wiggler.

Squiggle jiggling in my belly. Topsy turvy, throwing punches, pushing boundaries already.

I know that it’s been crazy and you hear me talk, talk, talking to your brothers and your daddy and to dear God for some more patience.

I feel you when you’re sleeping, lying heavy, snuggly still, squirrelled down tight in my middle, floating easy.

I know I’m moving, hustle bustle, doing life that you can’t see yet-but I feel you.

Little one, I already love you, and my thoughts sneak slip you in between the hurry and the hassle in our happy hectic home.

You belong, my tiny thumper, with your flips and flops and pokes, as your brothers pat my belly with sweet questions and silly sounds. They feel you.

Your daddy knows you. He’s already planning, number crunching for your life, nothing but the best for those that are his-and you are. He feels you.

Sneaky ninja, I feel your tiny flutters, subtle nudges, as I lay awake at night. I treasure our conversations, our few quiet moments uninterrupted. I love to feel you, you are precious, you are special, you are mine in a way no one else is.

Baby, baby, I do feel you, we all do.

Ants in my Pants

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Two things:

One: The AC broke again recently and there was a bit of a kerfuffle over getting someone out to check it and then some finger pointing amongst the technicians and since this is the fifth time the AC has broken (6th time for the unit since the fan broke once while it was on heat not AC) in a year’s time we have been a bit frustrated. Usually we are both pretty “roll with the punches” when it comes to housing simply because we know this one-like the housing we were in at Ft. Rucker- is really old. But honestly, with the hassle of dealing with the housing company here at Bliss, it is not worth the few hundred a month we pocket in BAH to live here. It would DEFINITELY not be worth putting up with all this crap if they were taking all of our BAH. The thing is, if it was a civilian apartment when the AC broke (which we’ve had happen) or our own home (which we’ve had happen) the problem would be FIXED and not left to drag on for a year. But this is a particularly crappy housing company for a military base, so…

Two: I hit third trimester today and I’m nesting. It always strikes me a little differently with each pregnancy -although if I get an overwhelming urge to deep clean a bathroom or hands and knees scrub a floor, watch out I’ll be in labor in a day or two max. This pregnancy it’s been the little things that are bugging me. Like, I have a container of lotion that I have moved three times today because I cannot for the life of me figure out where it HAS to be. It needs a spot, a home, a place to call it’s own… this is true of every toy I pick up, every craft, every pencil. I can’t be in Brian’s room for very long because their are too many homeless cords lolling about. The problem is, without the tiny house I am refraining from buying organizational stuff because we can’t know what will or won’t work until we have the house. Talk about some serious frustration! I am desperate to find homes for every doodad I pick up, but all I can offer them is temporary housing until our permanent abode is complete. It comes in waves- I’ll have a surge of energy and impatience and try to pick up every blessed trinket in this house, and then I’ll retire to the couch and sulk because the task seems insurmountable. Hormones, yeesh.

All this to say-I REALLY cannot wait for the tiny house. I may be anticipating the arrival of the house more than the birth of baby 3PO. Not because I’m not excited about baby’s arrival-I am!! More because I don’t mind being pregnant and am enjoying having curves and feeling all the kicks and squirms- so I don’t feel like rushing the process any…at least not yet. The tiny house I want rushed. The tiny house I want finished yesterday. We finalized kitchen cabinets today and are, ironically, discussing air conditioners with Greg now, ha!

Also, I’ve been asked by several friends about the boys and baby in the tiny house. The boys will be in bunk beds in the gooseneck portion, and the bottom bunk will have a pullout trundle under it for when baby gets older. For the first probably year or so, I will be downstairs on a twin mattress with the baby-I do not feel comfortable taking an infant up and down a ladder into a loft, so downstairs I’ll be. We have been looking into mini cribs and we may put the crib upstairs in one of the lofts after a certain age IF our design for being able to completely close off the loft space from floor to ceiling is doable, but I’m not making any decisions until we are at that point. Truth is, babies stay babies for such a short amount of time. Even if we manage to keep this one in a crib until two (something I don’t think either big brother made it to, ha) that’s only two years.

We’ve also been asked about, ahem, “married people time”-which is actually a question asked frequently in the full timers RV group, lol, and most answers seem to revolve around waiting for the spin cycle of the washing machine. 😛 There were other solutions offered, and honestly nothing crazier than strategies I’ve heard from plenty of parents with small children, haha.

Any other questions? Please help distract me until we finally get our home!

 

 

Decisions, Decisions

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We are, to my knowledge, still waiting on the trailer. However, because Greg and his team will be looking to make up for all the delay (they have other houses to work on after ours) he’s going ahead and ordering all the appliances, flooring, etc for the rest of the house. Which means in the past week Brian has received and answered a slew of emails-like over fifty, no joke-verifying what we want and what needs to go where. This has resulted in us changing the refrigerator, losing an inch or so of loft height to accommodate our shower, moving the bathroom wall out 14in to put the hot water heater and electrical box inside (water heater won’t fit under the kitchen counters), changing the shower walls, re-configuring how we are attaching the tv, deciding on a range hood, and a host of other details confirmed, ordered, and decided. Brian is still going over the electrical schematic to see if and where he can place a recessed outlet for the tv and speakers so they are wired directly into the wall, we’ve decided on the light switches we’ll use initially, we still have to figure out how to make the bathroom vanity mirror work with the window (to trim or not to trim?) Basically, we were twiddling our thumbs and getting impatient waiting on the trailer and all of a sudden Brian is rubbing blood shot eyes in front of the computer screen researching range hoods, electrical outlets, etc., and we gave the boys their tablets in Lowe’s to look at cabinet configurations in relative peace. It’s been busy.

When a big event or change or move or anything that I’m anticipating (good or bad anticipation) is set to occur, I am a champ at compartmentalizing and distancing myself from the whole thing until it’s on top of me. With the mindset of, “I’ll make it work/worry about it when it gets here” I can ignore stuff for ages. This makes me a grade A procrastinator, by the way, but it also has it’s perks since I don’t find myself completely wrung out by worry/anxiety/emotion until AFTER said event/change/move has happened. With the tiny house, distancing myself has kept me from feeling overwhelmingly frustrated because I want to be in the house NOW and have wanted to be in said house since we first started talking about it. But standing in our current kitchen, debating what to do with an extra drawer in our tiny house schematic (yes, an EXTRA drawer-and this is with us including a junk drawer!) I had one of those goosebump producing waves of, “OH MY GOODNESS WE ARE GETTING A TINY HOUSE IN A FEW MONTHS.” It was fun, made me giggle like an idiot and even though the feeling has faded somewhat in the hustle of everyday life (I mean, I do also have a pregnancy coming to completion in August, that has also been somewhat on my mind, obviously) it is feeling more “real” every day.

I am praying that this transition doesn’t completely flabbergast the boys too badly. If their track records with travel and vacation are any indication, it won’t be at the beginning that they resist the tiny house, it’ll be a few weeks after we’ve moved in that we’ll start having outbursts and meltdowns and emotional chaos. They really are tough little guys, they did a fantastic job on vacation. Started to get a little rough towards the end with fussing, meltdowns, and attitude, but it was such a whirlwind two weeks I was really expecting a lot worse. The amount of travel they’ve accomplished at their tender ages of 4 and 2.5 is pretty astounding. Cade has been on 19 flights, Zane has been on 16. Together they’ve done at least four 12 hour road trips (Cade’s done a total of 7 (!!) including our initial drive down to ‘Bama, plus 2 more 12 ish hours when he roadtripped with Brian one way up to Va), two 7-9 hour trips (Colorado and back) plus an extra two for Cade when we went to Louisiana before Zane was born, and this past beach trip makes two 5 hour drives for Zane, and four for Cade since we took him to the beach somewhere between 3-4 months old. Add in the countless 1-3 hour trips exploring nearby areas from beaches on the Gulf to national and state parks around Ft. Bliss and the boys are seriously pros at travelling. I think this may be one of those things that make us an obvious military family, haha.

Anyway, that’s all I have as an update for now. We’ll probably head out after nap to look for more items that we need to verify before they get ordered. Can’t believe it is almost June! Initial projection was that the house would be done by the end of July, with the trailer delay I’m pretty sure that’s not gonna happen, but still-so close!!

Tiny Thoughts

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Do I have pictures? Nope. I know, I know, I KNOW people want to see the tiny house, I want to see the house, too! But I can’t show you something that doesn’t exist yet. We’ve experienced several delays-almost entirely due to the trailer build. The house build was set to start the third weekend in April but we had to wait on the trailer, then it was the first weekend in May, then the second, then the third….now hopefully by Memorial Day the trailer will be done and the house build will start. Greg, from Rocky Mountain Tiny Homes, has been fantastic, none of the delays are within his control, but I think all of us are chafing at the bit to get this started. The SIPS have arrived and the windows are ordered, we’ve finalized exterior paint colors and interior walls and floors, and now we wait.

In the meantime, I’ve  joined two facebook groups devoted to tiny house living and full time RV living respectively and it’s been good to take my theoretical ideas of what tiny house living will be like and stacking them up against other people’s real experiences. Here is my number one takeaway from all the discussions, critiques, debates, rants, etc.

It’s going to be difficult at times, but no harder than any other type of living, and the benefits are worth it for us.

Here’s the thing, we are a military family. Our life is weird and hard already, with frequent separations, frequent moves, minimal say on where we go, when we go, or what our living space will be like when we get there. PLUS all the fun of knowing your spouse could be injured or killed on the job (and this does not apply to “just deployments”). Unless you’ve experienced it, it isn’t something you can completely relate to or prepare yourself for-it’s really challenging. BUT there are definite perks, including the joy of reunions and the closeness of the community and the frequent strengthening of my faith, my marriage, and my love of people. I prefer to focus on the perks of being a military family and also not play the one up game, because you know what else is hard? Two career spouses who find themselves passing like ships in the night in their dream forever home in their dream city. Their apathy and resentment and loneliness building unless they make some hard choices about their careers, their lives, their relationship-which is confusing because the world tells them “You have it all!”and yet they struggle with desperate depression. Or those living below the poverty line struggling to make ends meet, trying to provide everything they can for their children, not knowing whether they’ll have a job tomorrow. Or those in the police, firefighting, or EMS world who not only work bizarre hours, but also face dangerous situations on a regular basis PLUS the emotional and mental toll of the horrible crap they witness daily. So you know what is hard? Life. Relationships. Singleness. Parenthood. Infertility. Too much. Too little. The military life. The civilian life. The 9-5 life. Shift work. The entrepreneurial life. LIFE is hard. And seeking “easy” is futile and thus stupid.

You need to seek out your hard and lean in instead of constantly looking for an escape. Which aspect of “tough” do you thrive in? Or, simply, what part of tough are you in NOW whether you like it or not. You need to find the challenges that strengthen you-or occasionally break you-to make you take stock of your life and your habits, and you need to continue to fight through the tough you’re in the middle of and seek out the positives and the joy. Ask for help, get support, try new strategies, keep on plowing through instead of bemoaning that things aren’t “easy”. Growth isn’t easy, but stagnation is definitely not pleasant. I’m not saying you shouldn’t enjoy luxury, but rather you can’t really enjoy luxury unless you can appreciate what ISN’T luxury. Remember summers as a kid? Longing all school year for summer, for the luxury of no tests, no assignments, no classes, no pressure….and then about two weeks into June everyone goes nuts with boredom. I am a firm believer that we need to constantly be balancing the challenge and the luxury in our lives-swinging too far in either direction is damaging, and pursuing just one or the other is equally damaging.

Yes, living tiny seems extreme to some in our “Bigger is Better” culture. It flies in the face of the standard tradition of “keeping up with the Jones’s” (although there are a few of those out there who judge tiny living on the “tininess” of a space-like you can get extra brownie points for smaller square footage *HUGE EYEROLL* human nature, you are ridiculous). But, it’s our type of crazy. Our type of challenge. The  benefits-for us-outweigh the projected struggles. I don’t believe this type of living is for everyone, BUT I do believe that more people would greatly enjoy the benefits that come with overcoming the challenges of living with less and are too quick to write off minimalism or tiny living as “crazy” or “impossible”. We straddle a funky line when it comes to our tiny house, since Brian prefers all the perks of a normal sized house and is not at all interested in “roughing it” with things like a two in one washer/dryer, or a tiny fridge, or no oven, or any other cuts that often happen to free up room. So our “tiny house” is well over 400 feet of livable space. Sure the ceilings are a bit lower, but the shower will be normal sized. 😉 Living tiny does not have to mean joining a political movement either, or becoming a conspiracy theorist, or a hippie, or even a hermit. The people choosing to live small are truly a varied bunch and it’s really cool to see the different lifestyles and points of view that make up the tiny house and full time RV communities. Honestly, not much different than an ordinary slice of suburbia-except on a smaller scale (HA!).

Even if going tiny is not for you, I will add my voice to the chorus of the current minimalism movement. I am definitely pro-less stuff. We had SO MUCH STUFF that we never really used, that just became holding containers or flat surfaces to stuff MORE unnecessary stuff onto. I had dozens of half completed projects, mountains of “things I was going to fix or re-purpose”, duplicates of every blessed cooking gadget imaginable, heaps of towels, boxes of organizational containers (oh the irony), and furniture that just took up space and scraped up shins. Having just what I need plus a few extras is a really, really pleasant way to live, and it greatly deepens my appreciation of those “extras”.

That’s all for now! I promise I will post pictures as soon as I have any. 😛

Parenting is an Ultra Marathon

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I think I’ve finally found an analogy that works for me. Cade and Zane are three and two respectively and they drive me up the wall daily. I love them. They make me laugh, give me plenty of snuggles, and their inquisitive, quick little brains fill me with joy and wonder as they make developmental leap after leap. They also fight like cats and dogs, wail like fire sirens, make an incredible mess, are chronically hungry, and don’t let me sleep. I get so frustrated on a daily basis that I decided having a third child was a GREAT idea, and so now as I yell at everyone to go to time out for fistfighting for the umpteenth time in an hour, I also beam with joy as I gasp for breath after said yelling because this pregnancy has given me every symptom in the book and I’m so thrilled to be preggo.

This doesn’t make any logical sense, friends. Why would I want more children when the ones I have already habitually drive me nuts? Why would I dream about a bigger family when I can barely hold together our family of four? Why would ANYONE in their right mind run for thirty three miles or more straight?

I can’t explain it because the reasons change all the time, but the fact is, even remembering how much training and running for ultras SUCKED, I also remember the runs that felt fantastic, the small moments of euphoria during the race (that aid station with chocolate donuts, Brian making me laugh so hard I tried to feebly push him into a tree), that feeling crossing the finish line and the glow that lasted for weeks afterwards. Now, added up by time, the hard, uncomfortable, unpleasant times heavily outweighed the happy moments. But those happy moments, the satisfaction, the feeling of growth and accomplishment, those made it all worth it. And make me want to do another one.

Just so with parenting. I treasure the happy moments with the boys, I replay them in my mind, I try to encourage repeat moments every day, and even tired and frustrated I try to make sure I am actively engaging so that I make the most of this stage and age. But right now, the frustrating moments outweigh (measured in time) the happy ones. I still KNOW, however, that it is totally one hundred percent worth it, and I am growing in so many ways as my children grow. And so I’m excited about getting to “do another one.” 😉

 

 

 

Blog Move!

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Not this one. I have another blog. But I figured I’d share on here just in case anyone was interested. I moved my health and wellness blog over to my own domain here. I’m in the middle of figuring out how to balance my time between family, “work” (which includes the health blog), and “me time” (which includes THIS blog) since my forays into coaching have been surprisingly successful and picking up steam. I’m not looking to make this a career, but I am finding it fulfilling and enriching to help people on their fitness/wellness journey’s-I’m even getting used to the cliches, haha. So check it out, and subscribe if it peaks your interest!

So Fast

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Tomorrow Zane turns 16 month and Cade is chugging on closer to three years than two. It is cliche, but it really does go by so fast. Some of that quickness is what makes it so frustrating. You struggle to engage, find the positive, enjoy their quirky littleness because you KNOW it goes by so fast and at the same time you’re struggling to set a routine, consistently guide and discipline, and get the laundry done. My boys are so big, and so different then when I first held them frog snuggled on my chest, tiny (and not so tiny) snores and curled fists and fuzzy heads. Now they chase each other around, hit each other with toys, hide in the cabinets, and snuggle in the same bed with giggles and shrieks.

It’s like as soon as I figure out ONE thing that works, oh hey, they don’t do that anymore. I was laughing with my mom about how as soon as you figure out what signals a kid gives for teething (Cade just wanted to eat everything until you gave him actual food, Zane hits himself in the ears, face, head repeatedly) they are pretty much almost done teething. Parenting is almost entirely hindsight these first few years. So you try to be proactive, and you try to stay on top of the latest research, and you try to trust your instincts, and your try for the love of all that is good in the world DO NOT HIT YOUR BROTHER WITH YOUR EXCAVATOR to keep hold of your temper.

And I find myself saying completely weird things, “No, guys, we’re all done with the dishes. ALL done! All done!” as I wade out of my kitchen-turned-pond. And completely normal things, “Please take your shoes off inside. Don’t touch the stove-hot! Can you find a toy for Cade, Zane?” And my day is an endless cycle of imaginative play and practical refereeing. I told Brian I had become “THAT mom” when Zane faceplanted on the sidewalk for the umpteenth time and busted his lip for the umpteenth time and was bleeding down his front for the umpteenth time, and as I carried him to the house (for the umpteenth time) I was very carefully angling his bloody face away from my jacket and telling him I knew it hurt let me just get a wet cloth. All of my clothing is accumulating bloodstains, mostly on my shoulders, for where little boys who face plant like to lay their bloody faces. I’m so used to the blood-but I’m tired of the bloodstains. And both boys are typically more irritated at the interruption of whatever activity they are pursuing then the actual physical discomfort. I moped Zane up, he kept crying, I took him back outside and put him down and he stopped immediately to go in search of his toys. Boys.

Two nights ago Cade decided that there was a bear at the end of the hallway. So I sat in the living room and told him to go see the bear and say, “Hello, bear, how are you?” And if the bear was friendly he’d answer him, but if the bear was grumpy he’d growl. He’d get to the edge of the hallway and turn around and run back going, “I’m scared, mommy!” with a big excited grin on his face, his little body tense. I told him it as ok to be scared, that having courage and being brave meant finding the bear anyway even if he was scared. So he ran halfway down the hall and then tiptoed to the end and I heard a giggly little voice go, “Hello, Mr Bear.” to the closet door. I pitched my voice from where I was sitting and said, “Why hello, Cade, how are you?” And with giggles and an earsplitting grin he came racing back down the hallway saying, “It’s a friendly bear! A friendly bear! Make it a grumpy bear, mommy.” And we repeated the whole thing, this time with a growly snarl at the end and shrieks of laughter as he and Zane pelted back up the hallway. Zane followed Cade around through all of it, the running, the tiptoe-ing, the laughter. We repeated it up until bedtime.

Little crazy people. Cade has become such a little person in his own right. He gets anxious about going to church because there are, “too many people.” Brian puts Cade in with the twos and I put Zane down across the hallway. They have one way glass on the big windows so we can look in without the kids noticing, and Brian shook his head and said, “He is so my kid. Look, he grabbed a chair and took it to the exact same spot at the end of the table I put him last week (regardless of all the empty chairs this week). I had told him he could, “Just sit here at the head of the table, you don’t have to play.”” And there he sat. He was still there when we came back, although we did see him get up and play for a few seconds before returning to his chair. He likes things just so. He carries his snugglies around and feeds them and puts them in his chair and covers them with blankets. He likes to talk about his day at dinner and he takes FOREVER to finish eating. “What did YOU do today, daddy?” “You like your food hot! Mommy likes her food hot. I don’t like MY food hot.” “Zanebug is making a mess!” (true story). Dinner is a long, drawn out affair.

He’s been asking a lot about Vera-one of the twins we played with daily at Ft Rucker-and will even reserve toys for her and tell me she needs them, “This is for Vera, mommy. Vera needs this. You need to give this to Vera.” It breaks my heart, we miss them so much, and he still remembers them enough to ask. He told me today, “Mommy, I miss Vera, and I miss August, and I miss Mom Mom. I don’t want to be in El Paso.” And then a switch flipped and he wanted to “mountain climb” Zane’s crib so he ran down the hall. Meanwhile, I’m an emotional puddle on the floor.

Zane, on the other hand, oh man my Zanebug. He is fully at that “separation anxiety” thing that is typical at this age, but even without that he is SO much more physical than Cade! Don’t get me wrong, Cade likes to hug and snuggle and kisses-but Zane likes all that PLUS more. He is constantly tackling my knees when I’m walking or standing. He doesn’t want up, necessarily, he just wants to be in contact with me. He LOOOOOVVVEESSS to wrestle. He wants to be flipped, upsidedown, spun around, and generally mauled-by me specifically. I can tell when I haven’t been physical enough with Zane because he starts acting out. Zane relates to EVERYTHING physically. If I get two or three good wrestle sessions in a day with Zane he is pretty content to go about his business-but if I don’t then he is a clingy, whining, wailing, temperamental MESS.

I talk to Zane-and Cade does the same (mimicking me), we have little “noise” conversations, and he is attempting to mimic sounds more and more. Just ask him what an owl says, or a cow. SO funny! He doesn’t like the outdoors quite as much as his brother. Don’t get me wrong, he still likes to go outside, but he’s done and ready to come in much quicker than Cade. In fact, I don’t think Cade ever really wanted to come inside at this age, we typically had to force the issue or bribe him. Could have something to do with how bitterly cold and biting the wind gets here, or the fact that some of the gusts have knocked Zane flat on his butt-we’ll see if anything changes in the spring. He is still my picky reader- certain books are great, all the rest are ignored. And he approaches play differently then Cade. Cade enjoys the social aspect along with the “doing” of a thing. He’ll play ball with mommy to play with mommy PLUS throw a ball. Zane is just content to play by himself with a ball until the ball doesn’t do what he needs it to, THEN he needs mommy to get involved. And then usually he stops playing and simply tackles mommy.

The yo-yo-ing of independence and desperate need for attention can get a little trying for me, since one moment it is all the warm fuzzies as they giggle at each other and then the next they are both wailing around my knees or hitting each other. I need so much patience to get through the day, I am in a constant state of prayer. And yet I LOVE their antics. They make me laugh at least 5 times a day with their silly, endearing, adorable behavior. Time marches on, they’ll be different and the same tomorrow. For now I need to get myself to bed. 🙂

Thank Goodness for December 26th-31st

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As many know, I spent a month living with my parents and shuttling the kids back and forth between their house and my inlaws until the week of Christmas-at which point my husband and everyone else in my family arrived for pure chaos. We arrived back in El Paso on the 28th. We are slowly remembering how to breath. It was great to visit family, and something I think is very important to do for the kids since we’ll be moving all over the place throughout their lives and I want them grounded in family.

But now we’re finally home and we can relax. The flight home was miserable-don’t ask-but we made it! We opened the door and Cade ran around inside, his entire body fizzing with glee and excitement and a slightly manic grin on his face. He is SO HAPPY to be home. And we were greeted with the remnants of the snowstorm that dumped on El Paso. As snow storms go-it really wasn’t, especially when compared to snowy climates like Maine-but as snowstorms in a desert climate it was significant. I mean, for an area that usually sees zero snow, 6 inches is a big deal. Cade LOVED the snow-stepping, poking, scooping, licking…SNOW ALL THE TIME FOR EVERYONE! Zane, on the other hand, whined like an offended cat until someone kindly took  him back inside and removed his snow gear. I think this was mostly due to me putting socks on his hands in place of mittens (which we don’t have) but in general he’s the first of the two to want to return to the stable indoor clime even without snow.

The boys have changed so much over our vacation. Both hit a growth spurt, Cade shot into 3T clothing in length but we’re back to having pants hit the floor since he’s thinned out. He’s also become more articulate and his problem solving capacity has expanded, typical progression for this age (although I still think he’s a pretty smart cookie. 😉 ) Zane has been the game changer, not just with the physical developments (growth spurt plus all four molars) but with his cognitive ability exploding and his social attitude flip flopping. Gone are the days when I was the only one to satisfy his need for a hug, now he’ll crawl into almost any lap and rapidly engage in play with whomever. He’s quick to grab a chair or box to climb on to reach something above his head, and he understands SO MUCH of what you say to him. He follows increasingly complex commands (Please go find and get YOUR water-not your brothers-and place it on the table). And he anticipates my next move when I reach for clothing, or utensils, or even just walk in to certain rooms. Sometimes I think he knows what I’m going to do before I do. He has added a few words to his vocabulary, like “Go” and “Nana” (banana) and he says Unh Unh and Uh huh for No and Yes. He also said, “Coco” -the name of my SIL’s dog- several times.

Speaking of dogs, Cade fell in love with a cock-a-poo named Ginger-technically my SIL Jessica’s husband (Joe)’s dog. Ginger and Coco are the dynamic duo-with Coco being all of the dynamic and Ginger just providing the “hey, there are two of us!” duo factor. But to this reserved, prefer to be cuddling, doesn’t like walks puppy, my exuberant, not always gentle, super fast zoom running son latches on to like a leach. We saw Ginger on the first weekend we arrived and again over Christmas, and everyday in between Cade asked about her. When she reappeared at Christmas all he wanted to do was hold her-and he did a really good job! He even told me at one point that, “I have to be careful because Ginger is fragile.” We have dubbed a similarly colored stuffed puppy “fake” Ginger in her honor, and she is the first toy he habitually carries around. It is so sweet and kind of hilarious all at the same time.

I am so thankful for this breather between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I have so much I want to prep for this coming year-resolutions, plans, goals, whatever you want to call them. But they do take some preplanning work and these few days have been great for that. I love New Year’s Resolutions. 🙂  Also, since we just had Christmas we are continuing to purge the house of unnecessary stuff. Too much stuff, can’t stand too much stuff. I’m even eyeing the bookshelves to see what I can pare down *gasp*. Here’s to less stuff in 2016!

I’ve got to go wake the boys from nap. I’m hoping tonight they actually sleep past 5am (Zane, I’m referring to you…).

The Gift of Gift Cards

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This is one slightly harried mom’s perspective on gift cards-and how they are absolutely fabulous to receive as gifts.

I know a lot of people feel like gift cards are a cop out, a last minute, “crap, I didn’t get anything for so and so-let’s just grab a gift card.” We’ve all been there-as participants on both sides-so this does happen.

Low denomination gift cards are also becoming a standard generic “Thank you” gift for a variety of businesses. Big or small, from church to chain foods, nothing says “Christmas” to your employees/volunteers like a $10 Starbucks card (oh wait, they don’t celebrate Christmas. MY BAD. Chick-fil-a, then).

But for me- the mom who is wearing holes in her jeans and various toddler blessed grime on her 5 year old sweaters-gift cards are a blessing. A beautiful, intentional, amazing thing-and here is why.

First- Christmas lists. Christmas lists as a child involved huge toy magazines, a variety of colored writing utensils, and convoluted ranking systems that required several drafts before perfected. There was price consideration, bedroom space allocation, whether your sister asked for the same thing contemplation-it was complicated, people, and I had allllllll the tiiiime in the woooorld to finish it (Ok, not entirely, lists have always been due by October 1st in my family-a rule that does get bent on occasion but not by much).

Now I have two exuberant boys who are rough and tumble-VERY rough and tumble. My brain is exhausted by the boo boo kisses, the ongoing argument in my head of whether I should put them both in helmets, the clashes of will, plus meal planning, laundry, dishes, workout, cleaning, grocery shopping… Now you want me to come up with things that I want for Christmas in a timely and organized manner? Ha. Haha. HAHAHAHA

Gift cards, y’all. I want gift cards. Or for you to just get me something. I can tell you vague information about what I’d like at some point, but I don’t have anything I am really craving unless you count the desire for a full time cook and a maid. This year I was smart and had started creating an Amazon wish list any time a random “Oh, that’d be nice” thought crossed my mind, but don’t be prepared for anything fancy. The only thing (besides the cook and maid) I really want for Christmas is a butter dish. Yes. A butter dish.

Second-restricted shopping. There are a few stores that I would LOVE to be able to shop at (online, of course, I dislike in store shopping) but anytime I’m like, “Oh THAT’S cute.” at a Zulilly Ad on facebook or “Ooo, I love the color of that” to my friend’s Instagram selfie, or even the random wistful, “Someday I’d like to wear more dresses then pants” I switch back over to writing my list for groceries, contemplating things for the boys, and generally ignoring the shopping impulse altogether. This is good for our budget, and I truly enjoy being a stay at home mom, and I don’t really mind wearing the “momiform” everyday, and, and, and…  gift cards to specific stores slice through all of that. If I get a gift card to Athleta-I am the only one in my household who can wear those clothes! ME. I have to shop for me. There is no way to negotiate, I am held hostage by a gift card, and it is my contractual obligation by accepting the gift to utilize the fullest amount

Lastly-experience. I loathe physically window shopping-seriously one of the most pointless exercises ever. My husband hates questions like, “What would you do with a million dollars” because it is all fruitless speculation until you get a million dollars. I don’t mind fruitless speculation because I know the odds are it’ll never happen so it takes the pressure off. He, however, likes to window shop. What is the point of dealing with bad parking, crowds and the assorted smells/looks/accidental physical contact, a hundred thousand items you aren’t in any way interested in, while looking at things you can’t afford or aren’t going to buy any time soon. What is the point of acknowledging you maybe would like that thing just to not get it? What is the point of reminding yourself habitually that you can’t have nice things?

Ok, the last part might be a bit of an exaggeration, but still. Window shopping=exercise in pointless aggravation. But give me a gift card, force me to shop at one store, just for me, online, money in hand so to speak…. Oh man. During that golden nap hour I can peruse the pages, tabbing, selecting, comparing-knowing that in the end I MUST get something. It is bliss. It lets me step away from being a mom and just do something simple for the pleasure of doing it. There is almost a pang of regret at checkout because the experience is over, I have done the shopping, I have used the gift card.

Honestly, that last point is pretty much my favorite part of gift cards. I like the actual transactional part of buying something. You could probably get me a gift card to Lowes and I’d enjoy it just as much. I like spending money, and gift cards let me spend money and forces me to spend it on myself-the person in my household I am least likely to buy anything for.

So don’t knock the gift card as “unfeeling” or “impersonal”. It’s what I really, really want for Christmas.

Cade: Version 2.5

Standard

Two and a half years. Whew. That’s just weird. I feel like I should really stop calling him a toddler-because he doesn’t toddle any more (if he ever did). No, my little man full out runs. And climbs, and jumps, and slides, and swings… From thundering down the hallway on hands and knees to climbing playground apparatus that 4 year olds are cautioned away from by other parents- Cade has maintained his on the go, gotta move energy. We take a walk after dinner on the sidewalk in the neighborhood. It’s a quarter mile to the playground and Cade runs it. And runs most of the way back. Sometimes we pick him up for parts of the way back-but that’s usually because he’s already run so much back and forth between us that he’s probably run over a mile already. His language is increasingly easy to understand, and his concepts get more and more involved. His imagination has taken off and I LOVE it. From building “rocket ships” with his blocks, to giving us imaginary money to buy imaginary things, to the silly, goofy conversations we have during the day. He really is a small boy, not a toddler. He has the grasp of basic logic “If I do this, then this should happen” and tries to twist his understanding of concepts like sharing to suit his needs, “I want that! Share that with me!” (No, you may not have Daddy’s power drill…) *grabbing Zane’s water* “Zanebug is sharing with me, mommy.” (Mhmmm, I’m not sure Zane is doing so voluntarily..)

He is also fully in the two year old phase. Every boundary presented is tested. And tested again. And again. And again. Then he goes to bed, wakes up, and REPEAT. Somedays I feel like he spends most of his time either on the wall in time out or with me “talking” with him about emotions and what they are and how to react appropriately, and no, there is never a good reason to hit your brother in the face with the tape measurer…

BUT my little Caderade is such a sweet, sweet guy. He is all about the hugs and kisses-and not just for himself! If Zane falls Cade’s immediate response is, “MOMMY! Zanebug got a boo boo! Pick him up and kiss him!” He tries to get Zane to calm down if he cries at night. Granted, it’s usually by shouting, “CALM DOWN, ZANEBUG, CALM DOWN!” which isn’t super helpful, but if I go in and tell him to sing a song instead he’ll tell me in the morning, “I sing songs to Zanebug in bed to calm down!” He also always wants to help.  ALWAYS. It gets very hard to think of tasks for him to do, but that is pretty much his favorite thing ever. He’s been, “helping” Brian change out a few light bulbs in the cars and it is ALL he wants to do all day long, “Help Daddy fix his car? Help fix cars? Go outside and help Daddy fix car? Help fix Daddy’s car outside?” It’s like he thinks if he just rearranges the words in his question he may get a different answer. One of the easiest ways to redirect him if he’s whining is to ask him to help do something. Now, it has to be a task that is toddler enjoyable (like, take your underwear to your room) and not toddler boring (put your shoes in the shoes box). I don’t make the rules, so sometimes I suggest the wrong task and we have meltdowns, but hey, that’s life with a two year old.

Since putting him and Zane in the same room the interaction between the two of them has increased. As in, there is more deliberate playing together and less of Zane just ruining whatever Cade is trying to play with. Cade loves to feed Zane and bring him his water, and today he came right up to Zane’s chair, stares intently at Zane, and goes, “Zanebug not talking.”

Not yet, little man, not yet. But when he does I’m sure y’alls conversations will be both the highlight of my day and drive me crazy.

OH! And the singing. Cade loves to sing. He is currently on an, “Itsy Bitsy Spider” kick-but don’t be misled, it isn’t *just* the Itsy Bitsy Spider on repeat. Oh no. There are variations. Sometimes he yells it, sometimes he sings it very slow and monotone, sometimes he shouts it choppily-like a rap, sometimes he whispers it, sometimes he uses the tune but fills it with nonsense words, sometimes he uses accents (of what languages I’m not sure), and sometimes he combines all of the above techniques. The only thing he insists on is that it is, “DOWN came the sun, and dried up all the rain and the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the WATER spout again.” There is no convincing him that the sun comes UP or that the extra WATER in front of spout does not belong. He tells me, “No mommy, you are singing silly words again!” Silly mommy.

I think that’s all for now. I have a billion conversations that happen that I want to record, and I forget them before I manage to write them down, sigh. I’ll try to be better about it, I love the way he thinks at this age. 🙂