Friday, February 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes - My First!

So, first things first, because I know everyone (yes, I am in denial that nobody reads this blog) is dying to know if I really did jinx myself with the previous post regarding my boys and their most angelic and saintly behavior, or if they returned to their true run-wild-through-the-house-nekkid-and-screaming-selves (this only happens after bath times.  Honest.), the answer would be a resounding....yes!   Consider me jinxed.
I don't think I even got that post finished before Joah awoke from his nap way too early with a serious case of bed head and an even seriouser case of bad attitude.

And as if I needed any confirmation of the fact that I had been delusional, the following day, the cashier at Walmart, after following the standard script ["Are they twins?"  No.  "How Old Are They?" Three] decided to really boost my optimism by dramatically and emphatically stating "Oh,  three years old is the hardest age!"   I think she was trying to be sympathetic, and maybe her comment might've been ever so slightly prompted by the fact that the boys were at the time having their version of a pillow fight with the two bags of miniature marshmallows I'd put in the cart with them, but it kinda just killed any glimmer of hope I may have had that this next 6-12 months was going to be a tip-toe through the proverbial tulips.   Anyhow,  to answer the question "Does One Week Make A Trend?", the answer would be Nope, Nunca, Nein.   But all you mothers out there already knew that didn't you...
Keeping with the flow of the first quick take...miniature marshmallows.   I could pretend that the reason I made a very rare and very dreaded solo sojourn into the world's largest retail store with the boys was to get food for my best behaved and most loved kid.   That is, our dog, Sage.   But that was really just a cover for my newest addiction that really fueled the journey.   I needed to get more supplies for rice crispy treats, or as Joah says "Kwis mus tweets",  which for the longest time, had me thinking he was asking for more Christmas tree. Thank goodness I was wrong because I wasn't looking forward to putting up that tree again  and hanging Easter eggs on it (although they do that in Appalachia, only the trees are growing in their front yards, so the idea isn't that far-fetched.  No, I'm not making this up).

When I was a kid, my mother made rice crispy treats but she never really mastered them...they were always kinda soggy and she always put peanut butter in them, which I'm sure made them healthier, but also left me longing somewhat for the true, sugar-fat-and-starch-only version of the original.   I made my first batch a few weeks ago, not following a recipe, of course, because I hate taking direction (just ask Tom) and they turned out just like my mother's, sans the peanut butter of course.  Chewy. As in not crisp.   So, apparently there was more to it than I realized.   I begrudgingly forced myself to follow the recipe that just happened to be on the side of the box (how did they know!) and the outcome was sticky, crispy! perfection.   The boys (and maybe their mother) can't eat them fast enough.  
And just for the record, my mother may have never mastered kwis mus tweets but she made up for it with her pies!

Tom has been gone all week to some kind of ski-part-time, work-part-time conference in Utah.  Yeah, a dirty job.   Reminds me a bit of when I was in the government and there were a lot of "conferences" and "seminars" planned in January and February in places like Orlando or San Antonio or Phoenix.
I am lucky that Tom doesn't travel much but in some ways, that makes his being gone even harder to deal with.  I guess you could call him my "crutch" and I mean that with the utmost endearment.
So, to make his being gone more bearable, I decided to make a list of all the pluses to being home alone with just the boys.   Here's what I came up with:

a) I get to eat lots of "girl food", e.g,  salad, avocado, kiwi fruit.  You know, green stuff.

b) I get to sleep in.

Well, the latter didn't really happen, but it seemed plausible considering Tom usually (inadvertently) wakes me when he goes to work at 5:30 a.m. so with him gone, I imagined I could at least make it until 6:30 or maybe even 7:00, which would've been divine.  But Joah had my number this week when he decided to re-vert back to co-sleepng each morning between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m. and when you are sleeping next to Joah, it's a bit like being too close to a foraging armadillo...lots of snortin' and thrashin' and showing no awareness whatsoever of its surroundings.

And as far as the pluses, to Tom's credit, that was all I could come up with.  And after a week of salad, I'm kinda ready for some meat, so hurry home, Tom!  I need BBQ.


The most traumatic point of this week would have to be scheduling Joah for a tonsillectomy in March.  I was totally on the fence about this decision but the poor kid has tonsils the size of miniature marshmallows (trying to stick to a theme here) and he sleeps like..well, you already know.   The doc says they need to come out, and the sleep study confirmed it.   So, it appears inevitable.  I am starting prayers now for our little guy, in hopes that the 2 week recovery period the nurse told me to prepare for is more like 2 days, but yeah, I'm probably dreaming.   Feel free to add your prayers to the kitty.

Has anyone besides me just stopped looking at the weather forecasts altogether?   I mean seriously, how much more can a southern girl stuck in the midwest take?   If you read this post, then you know the woodcocks were due back any day, and sure enough, the day after that post, we heard the familiar "peent" in the backyard.  Joah just loves watching them.   I wondered if the birds would display when the temperatures were below freezing and Joah and I can confirm that yes, they do.   They will display when it is 21 degrees actually and in a blowing snow.  A fact that I wish I didn't know from experience, mind you. Woodcock love must be a powerful thing. 

So, I thought I'd do this 7 Posts in 7 Days thing, and had a good start until Tuesday, when the internet gods (aka our cable provider) decided to kill our internet service for 18 hours starting around 7 pm Tuesday evening. So, I was off the hook!   I hope I didn't disappoint my one dedicated blog reader out there.   Maybe next time.

Last, but not least, I've been working on our infertility story.   It has been a bit of an emotional journey as I write it and I still have mixed feelings about sharing it because it is so personal, but so many others have shared their experiences on their blogs and their stories really have helped me, so I figure maybe I can give a little back.   I will probably post it as a series during Lent.   Seems appropriate because those years were really the Lent of my life, so far.

And that's it!  Except, it appears I need to practice the "Quick" part of "Quick Takes".  
Have a great weekend.   Looks like we'll be watching it snow...again.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Theme Thursday - Fences

This is my first Theme Thursday but thought I'd give it a shot.

These photos were taken last October (when it was still warm) in Kansas City, MO.

My "three" boys were doing their all-time favorite hobby, railfanning.   Ever heard of it?  Me either.  But apparently it is a huge past time for lots of people, most of them with the Y chromosome.  

So, if you are ever in Kansas City, Union Station is an awesome place to fan some rails.  Plus, it meets all 3 of my criteria for being "Toddler/Pre-Schooler Friendly" because it is
1) Free - at least the parts we visited
2) Has (relatively) clean bathrooms (also saw a "Mother's Room" for nursing moms)
3) the rail yard overpass is FENCED.  

As a bonus, to get up to the overpass to watch trains, the boys love to ride on the "alligator", which would be the elevator to the rest of us.

Happy railfanning!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Does One Week Make a Trend?

So, before I even start writing this post, let me just say that I know I am totally and completely jinxing myself by writing this and there will no doubt be a follow-up post in approximately 30 hours, or maybe 3 hours, from now with a title something like "What Was I Thinking??"  but here goes anyway...

It is probably mostly wishful thinking but it seems like things are getting a tad easier (just a tad) in the parenting department around here.  You could say that I've been waiting for this moment [for 3 years 7 months and 1 day, not that I'm keeping track or anything].

I remember when John was born, everyone told me "the first 3 weeks are the hardest."  Oh my, no they weren't.  What they really meant was "the first 3 months are the hardest."  Then they said, "after they start sleeping all night, it gets easier."  Well, not so much, considering as soon as John started sleeping through the night, tah dah, here came Joah!  Then they said "after they can talk" it gets easier. Hmm, I don't recall it being exactly that way unless hearing the word "No" repeated over and over in stereo was meant to boost my parenting self-esteem.  And then came the running and the shrieking and the "do by self" and well, I can't recall anything getting easier.

"Don't worry, Mom, in a few years, this will be a piece of cake."

Maybe it is because I really have no idea what to expect with each new stage that comes, or maybe it has something to do with having two boys so close in age (Mom's of twins are my heroes!), but after going through simultaneous baby days and toddlerhoods , it's pretty durn hard for anyone to convince me that "it's going to get easier."

"Nothing to see here, Mom...move right along."

But lately, as in the past 7 days, things do seem a bit easier.  When I say "John, you need to wash your hands",  he surprises me by washing them.  When I ask Joah to come to me, he (somewhat indirectly) comes. Granted, he is going through the "I'm a little kitty" stage now and responds with a series of "meows" and sometimes I do have to encourage him by saying  "Here, kitty kitty" and opening a can of tuna (just kidding on the tuna part) but still, he comes.   And yesterday, during Mass, Tom commented that this had been John's best behavior yet and I gave Joah an A- for being quiet (but he still got a D+ for sitting still).  We didn't dwell on the fact that we still have to sit on opposite sides of the church so that the boys can't "interact" during Mass.   One small victory at a time here.

Tom and I would like to think that our learn-as-we-go method of parenting is starting to yield the desired results, but that is probably giving us way too much credit considering the many crash-and-burn results we've experienced in the past.  I am guessing this has more to do with just their age and not a whole lot to do with us, as much as we wish it did!  If these past 3 years have taught me anything, it's that I know a whole lot less about parenting than I thought I did (before I had kids, of course).  If I were to write a parenting book, I would title it "100 Things I Don't Know About Raising Kids."   So, I'm mostly hoping that just leading by example captures 99.9% of the necessary elements that kids need in order to become productive members of society.  Or at least keeps them out of jail.

One millisecond before the boys play the old "divide-and-conquer" trick.  

Joah turned 3 a week ago and marked the day by having not one, not two, but three major tantrums that involved lots of running down the hallway and slamming of doors.   After his third timeout, Tom looked him in the eye and said "Okay Joah, today is the last day you get to act like a two-year old;  after today, you can't act that way again."   Was Joah listening?  So far, so good.   Does this mean having two 3-year-olds will be easier than having two two-year-olds?   I'm not counting on it, but I do hear that it gets easier.

Yep, piece of cake.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Waiting for Woodcocks

Ah....spring!   Well, it ain't here yet but it's getting closer.   After this finger-numbing, nose hair-freezing winter, any glimpse of spring is like a, well, breath of fresh air.  

So, fresh air was on the menu today, and the boys were like uncaged little animals, running here and there and following the breeze.
Spring Fever!

Nope, no eggs yet...but soon.

Exploring the snow-flattened field of big bluestem.

We spent the past few days in Kentucky and as we made our way east, we watched clouds of snow geese circling empty croplands as they flew ever so slowly northward.   "Look at those snow geese!" I exclaimed to the boys, to which John astutely replied "How do geese make it snow?"   

While in Kentucky, we heard the first thunderstorm in months, and with it came the wood frogs, crawling out of their hiding places and looking for puddles in the woods.   The elusive hermit thrushes made gentle "clucks" as they peeked out from behind hemlock branches.  American robins fought over earthworms emerging from the saturated soils while their cousins, the bluebirds, tried to convince each other of who had the best song.   The woodcocks were arriving in the fields, where they waited for sunset in order to perform their aerobatics.

As I watched my two little boys scamper through the woods today, enjoying this brief winter reprieve, I thought about how so much of life is cyclic, filled with warm days and frigid days, periods of sunlight and periods of darkness.   Sometimes, the winters of our life feel a lot like this one has, like they will never end or we will not survive to see them end.   But, the winters always do end and with God's grace, we survive them. 

I realized that God asks no more of us than he does of the smallest creatures.The snow geese do not question their struggle as they fly north every spring, facing headwinds and blizzards.  They instinctively know how to focus on what lies beyond the struggle and somehow, this knowledge is enough to overpower any inclination they may have to surrender.   Does God give them the grace to do this?   Perhaps.   And if so, how much more grace does he make available to we humans?  We, who are made "in His image" and who He loves more than any of his other creatures?   

There is great meaning that can be found in our daily struggles if we focus on what lies beyond them and don't surrender to our sufferings.   And when I lose sight of that, God tries to remind me with flocks of snow geese moving under the stars and the return of a woodcock flying across the moonlight .   

Friday, February 14, 2014

Our Most Special Valentine

Tomorrow is my baby's birthday.  I call him my baby, but he'll be a whopping 3 years old so that's not a baby anymore.  But when you know he is most likely your last baby, it's hard not to want to keep him a baby.

And tonight, on the eve of his birthday, there is a full moon.   My husband reminded me tonight that three years ago, I had mentioned the full moon to my baby's birthmother after meeting her.  Her due date had been February 23, but a full moon was before that.  "Have your bag ready on the full moon" I jokingly had told her.   And sure enough, she went into labor just a few days before the full moon, which was also Valentine's Day.  So, a full moon on Valentine's Day brings back that memory.   And I wonder if she is thinking about that too, as she looks up at the full moon on this Valentine's Day.   I hope her heart is filled with the peace and love she deserves. How humbled I am at her incredible love for the baby that she placed in my arms.  I pray that God blesses her a hundred-fold for the gift she gave me by letting her baby become my baby.

There's a lot of negative publicity in the mainstream these days about adoption.   I just read another one today.  And it always make me sad.  Because instead of focusing on what the child needs, what is best for the child, the stories usually focus on the parents and what they want.   

It is hard to focus on what is best for someone, especially when you know, deep in your gut, that choosing what is best is going to rip your own heart out.   But that's what real love is.  Real love sometimes requires doing the hardest things imaginable at great cost to ourselves. One glance at the crucifix shows us that.  How often do we really ever receive that kind of love in our own lives?  How often do we ever give it?

That is why my baby's birthmother is the bravest, strongest, and most loving person I have ever met.   Her heart was completely broken by the fact that she was giving the baby she'd come to know over the past nine months to me and my husband.  But she knew that watching him grow up without the kind of family she'd with a mom and a dad who loved each other, and a sibling to play with and share life with, and a home full of faith and commitment and respect...she knew that watching him grow up without that would break her heart even more.   She loved him that much.

And so, on Valentine's Day, my husband and I eat chocolate and trade cards and small gifts.  And then we ask God to look down upon the two people out there who gave us the greatest and most precious Valentine we have ever received.   May God bless them with love in abundance, as they blessed us.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If You Can't Beat Em...

So, this is the beginning of who knows what.   I'm not sure where this blog is heading but something is pulling me to do it so here goes...

I had no idea what a blog was until somewhere around 2008 even though I'm guessing blogging had been around well before that?  That's Clue # 1 about me...I'm not exactly a social media connoisseur ("con-noyse-sir" as my DH likes to say) and am certainly not Generation X or Millennial, or any other generation that can't remember life before The Internets.   I barely do Facebook even though I set up a Facebook profile around 2 years ago.  I naively subscribed just so I could view a friend's photos and after I  finished viewing the photos of her first deer (Clue #2 - country girl here), I realized I couldn't figure out how to unsubscribe, so I guess I'm stuck there for life.   However, maybe figuring out this blog stuff will inspire me to figure that out too...maybe.  For now, don't look for me on Facebook.   Which probably begs the question "why am I blogging?"...obviously not for fame or fortune.

Anyhow, back to 2008.   I was 39 then (Clue #3, I'm old, well, at least older than most of the other bloggers I read, but I can explain that in a little bit), and honestly, I was in a dark place.   It's called Serious Depressive Disorder Caused By Infertility, or SDDCBI for short.   Well, let's just say I Googled something like "Catholic, infertility, hope" in search of anything that would make me feel 1) less depressed, 2) less isolated and 3) not be all about IVF (that's the Catholic part).   And walla, I found the first blog I ever read, which was this.   I thought, "wow, you mean there really are other women out there who believe what I believe and are going through the same thing I am?"   It was some much needed comfort to my breaking heart.    I didn't become a serious blog reader at that time because I was working full time and really doing everything possible to deny my SDDCBI, but on the days that denial wouldn't work, I would read the Catholic infertile blogs and the strength, conviction and amazing insights into faith and prayer that these wonderful women shared really got me through some rough times.

Fast forward to 2012.   In March of 2012, I handed in my resignation after a 21 year career in the government and officially became a SAHM.   My two boys were ages 13 months and almost 20 months at that point (odd age difference to be explained in future post), and although I did the part-time working thing for a while, I had gradually come to realize that being home with them every day was what I really wanted (how that evolved will be a future post).   So, DH took on the role of being the breadwinner and I was left at home with the bottles, diapers, board books and no real idea of how to fulfill my new role. After about one week as full-time SAHM, it dawned on me that I was going to be all alone for 10-12 hours a day, 5 days in a row, every single week with the two little munchkins and that adult conversation was going to be seriously lacking. So, to the Mommy blogs I turned.   And as days turned to weeks, turned to almost two years now, I found that I wanted to be a part of this virtual world of Catholic women who live their faith every day in every little detail of their lives.  I pray that I am up to the task.

So, here I am.   And what do I have to contribute?   Probably not much.   But I still read the infertility blogs, and I'm still right there with them, waiting, praying, for that baby that may never come (we are waiting to adopt again) so maybe I can share some of that.   And I love the Catholic mommy blogs, because I am still learning how to do this mommy-thing, and to a lesser degree, I'm still learning what living like a Catholic means, too.   So there will be some mommy-blogging goin' on here as well.    And lastly, I want to share some of the joy I have found by having a serious addiction to the great outdoors.   So, lot's to talk about and maybe someone out there will find it helpful or at least entertaining. Or maybe not.  

Oh, and one last thing, given my almost total cluelessness when it comes to creating blogs, I have no idea yet how to incorporate things like images and hyperlinks (do they still call them that these days?), gadgets and navicons into a blog.   Heck, I don't even know what a lot of that stuff is yet (although I am quite pleased that I did figure out how to incorporate a link to another blog).  So, this blog is a work-in-progress and if you have any helpful advice for a novice, feel free to share.   I'm trying to figure it all out toddler nap time at a time.    Stay tuned.