Life as a queen in a land of many kings…

I’m One Proud Mama

I keep noticing all of these special moments scattered throughout our day-to-day lives that I’d like to record before the days pass and the memories slip away, and this seems like a fun place to do it despite my failure to keep this blog up to date.  Westin, in 2,000+ words and countless amounts of love, here’s a random summary of your life right now as a two-and-a-half year old!

Names:  You still insist that your name is “Me!”  You are learning to say Nanie, Pappy (“Poppy/Puppy”), Mem, and Pap-Paw.  You have also started saying the names of your friends, like “Tal” and your own version of Talia, “Ash” for Ashlynn, “Keeg” for Keegan, “Peit” for Peityn, and Nate.  You have also learned the names of your caregivers, Ms. A and Sally.  You still call Morgan “dog,” although it sounds more like “bog” or “bock.”

Manners:  You cover your mouth when you cough (and even request a tissue when you need to blow your nose).  You say ’cuse me, sorry, please (“pease”), and thank you.  You like to help with little tasks.  “Me help?” you ask.  You like to give kisses or get Mommy and Daddy band aids when we have boo-boos (“bee bees”).  Sometimes you even give kisses to your toys if they get hurt.  You also like to share your Cars gummy vitamins (“Dars hum”) with us and take special care to pick out one for each of us every night.  You say, “Night, Daddy!” when we go to bed and are learning to say love (“lub”).  Recently when I told you I love you, you said, “Lub Mommy.”  Sometimes you just smile in response and acknowledge your understanding by sweetly saying, “Uh huh.”

Letters and Numbers: You know that W is your letter.  You point to it and exclaim, “Me!”  You can say the letters E and I and often recite the entire alphabet using just those two letters.  “E, I, E, I, E, I…”  Four is your favorite number, and you insist that you are four, although you are learning to say the other numbers too and are even starting to show them to us on your fingers.  Just like the alphabet, you count repeating the number four over and over again, annunciating the word differently each time.  “Four, four, four, FOUR!”  I often wonder if you are reciting these things correctly in your head and just lack the ability to pronounce them. 

Colors:  For a while you were really attracted to green.  Now blue seems to be your favorite color.  You have a turtle that projects stars onto your ceiling at night, and at bedtime you insist on the blue stars (“boo dars”).  Although you can’t say many color words yet, you do seem to recognize a lot of colors by sight and can group items according to color. You often point to colors (or numbers…or letters) and say, “Mommy?” asking me to say it for you.  Then you point to the next one and repeat and so on.

Music:  We listen to the Cars Song and Story CD (Cars/”Dars” music) and Toy Story Song and Story CD (Woody/”Wee” music) in the car a lot.  Daddy gets tired of listening to them on repeat, but I never mind your requests.  Lately you have also been asking for “happy music,” which is If You’re Happy and You Know It.  You listen to the song, clap along, and exclaim, “Me happy!”  You LOVE dancing and really get into the beat of the music.  You often stop in the middle of playing and break out into dance moves if a commercial or show or movie plays a song you like.  Often you grab me by the hands so I will join you.  You also have a new obsession with the Pete the Cat (“Pete Cat”) CDs and the accompanying storybooks.  We always listen to the CDs in the same order, as dictated by you:  “shoes” (Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes), “butt’n” (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons), and “other shoes” (Pete the Cat Rocking In My School Shoes).

Outside:  It is so fun rediscovering the world with you.  You are always eager to point out the “dars” (stars) and “mouse” (moon).  You often say “More mouse!” sometimes asking to spot another moon or sometimes finding the same moon again, and I tell you there is only one moon.  You like to look at pine needles, and I tell you that’s what Christmas trees are made of.  Lately you have been exclaiming “Know!” and “More know!” when you see snow.  We recently hunted for pine cones in the melted snow.  You were excited to point out each one you found.  You still exclaim whenever you hear a plane (a habit that began last summer), and we quickly search for it in the sky before it passes by.  A few weeks ago you asked to see the fish in our pond, and I explained to you that they are hiding at the bottom of the water until it gets warm again.  I’m reminded that all of these things are new to you and were once very new to me too. 

Inside:  Hide and seek is one of your favorite activities!  Usually you ask me to hide with you and then holler for Daddy to find us.  “Da-eee, me hide!”  We say “Shh!” and smile and giggle while we wait for him to find us, and once he does, you squeal with excitement and say, “More hide!”  Your hiding places are very clever—in the bathroom, under the dining room table, beside the bed, under a blanket, and virtually anywhere that you can hide your face even if the rest of your body is still showing.  At Christmas I had an artificial poinsettia sitting out, and you stood next to it repeatedly and hid your face behind the flower.  You also like playing with your cars and choo choos and often ask me to join you.  “Mommy pay dars?”  We also pretend to “fall” on the floor and then we “help” each other up.  This can go on for quite some time.  You also like when I chase you around the house or when you run past Daddy and he tries to catch you.  Your laughter is a joy!  You still enjoy bath time and playing with your Cars bath toys, “bubbies” (bubbles), and fun water coloring tablets.

Brains:  I realize all the time how smart you are even though it often takes some decoding.  Sometimes I just lack the ability to understand what you are telling me, and sometimes you just aren’t able to vocalize all the things that I know are in your head.  You make so many neat connections to things.  For instance, you once pointed to a picture of a jellyfish and said, “SpongeBob!”  I thought, ok, sure, SpongeBob and jellyfish both live in the ocean.  Then later I noticed that jellyfish often appear on the show and are sometimes even a symbol for the show.  Your little brain remembered that!  You also named your Cars songs “Chick music” (Real Gone) and “Mack music” (Life is a Highway) because the songs play in the movie while those characters are on screen.  Again, it took me some time before realizing what you were trying to tell me by mentioning those names each time the songs came on.  Lately you have been very excited when you hear “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”  I couldn’t figure out why that song in particular stood out to you, and then it occurred to me you recognize it from your favorite Sesame Street DVD.  One time you asked to watch Cars, and when we asked which one, you showed us your toy Holley to indicate that you wanted to watch Cars 2.  You are also SO good at puzzles.  You learn them so quickly, even those marketed for ages 3+, that often they do not remain challenging for very long.

Memory:  Going along with your brains is your memory.  You can recall far away things like the “beach.”  It also broke my heart to learn that you could recall hurting your arm on Christmas Eve.  You were a trooper through the experience and we thought it was a blessing that you would be “too young to remember,” but about a week afterward, you were able to recall which arm you hurt, that it was your elbow (you pointed and said “here”), and that the injury occurred while you were “high” up in the air.  Two months after Christmas you spotted your Santa jammies and exclaimed, “Ho ho!”  You didn’t even say “Ho ho” at Christmastime, but it was there in your mind somewhere.  Sometimes you remember activities and games we made up days ago and you want to play them again even though they are not always as fresh in my mind or Daddy’s.  I know some people claim children don’t remember anything up until a certain age, but you prove to me the opposite.  I know these things will not be long-term memories, and I have to wonder where those memories and experiences go, but things stick with you and you are building upon those experiences every day.

Art:  The other night you asked me to draw “Mee Mouse” (Minnie Mouse) over and over again.  You have been telling me you are drawing things like “Woody Hat” and “Mack Face” (what we call the scene in Cars when Mack is making faces at his own reflection on the rear end of the truck in front of him).  I’m amazed that your scribbles mean such specific things to you.  Lately you’ve had a fascination with my markers and colored pencils.  Of course they aren’t washable like your own–you proudly show off the marks you draw on your fingers!

Characters:  You have such a growing list of TV and movie characters you’re interested in.  Your interests include “Pirate” from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, “Fia” from Sofia the First, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, IronMan, SpongeBob, Mickey Mouse and Friends, Cars (you can say “Ma-er” (Mater), “Weegi” (Luigi), “Harge” (Sarge), and Sally), Planes, Happy Feet, “Other movie” (Despicable Me 2), “Choo Choo” (Thomas the Train), “Wee” (Woody) from Toy Story, “Bird movie” (Free Birds), Olaf from Frozen, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, “Dora,” and the list goes on…  Most mornings we watch part of Thomas the Train and Play with Me Sesame before going to daycare, and you are learning to use the “mote” to help turn the TV off.  (You also like helping to turn lights on and off.)  You are quick to spot your favorite characters on things when we are out shopping, and most days you request to wear a specific character shirt, jammies, socks, or shoes.  A regular shirt just won’t do!

Food:  You remain a very picky eater and a self-proclaimed vegetarian.  Typically the only meat you will eat is bologna sticks.  You never eat much in one sitting.  You love gummies (“hum”), yogurt smoothies, applesauce, pizza, popcorn, Teddy Grahams, Goldfish, strawberries (“bees”), Craisins, pancakes, cheese, grilled cheese, and cereal (especially Lucky Charms and “ball cereal,” which can be either Trix or Cocoa Puffs).  You love chocolate milk and juice and request your juice by character name depending on who is on the bottle or juice box:  “Wee juice” (Woody juice), “Dars juice” (Cars juice), “bird juice” (Big Bird juice), etc.  We worry that your diet doesn’t consist of the proper variety or nutrition, but you are thriving and growing taller by the day!

Words and Phrases:  You impress me with new words every day!  Some words you repeat once and never say again and others quickly become a part of your regular vocabulary.  You repeat a lot of what I say (like “Belly hurt”) and a lot of what you hear on TV (like “All aboard!”).  Some words you can pronounce clear as day, and others have your own special sound.  Sometimes I have a hard time understanding what you are trying to tell me, and we both get very frustrated.  You repeat yourself over and over to the point of yelling the words at me, and I have to think through what we just did and what you just saw to hopefully figure out what you mean.  I used to ask you to show me, but that doesn’t work as well anymore since you aren’t always talking about physical things.  I love that you are vocalizing things so much and that these things are important enough to you to keep repeating until I understand.  I keep realizing lately that someday you won’t call Morgan “bog” and fruit snacks will no longer be “hum” and your sweet “pease” will be correctly pronounced as please.  And so I felt it important to capture all of your unique pronunciations here before they are gone.  Already it seems like a distant memory that “ball” was your first word and “ba” once meant ball or dog or balloon depending on the context.  I won’t ever get 2.5-year-old Westin back, and all your special words will too quickly be gone from my life before I even realize they are missing.

Potty Training:  I think “Potty Bribing” is the more appropriate term because we are rewarding you with prizes (“pies”) for using the potty.  You first showed an interest in using the potty at 18 months, which was very young.  Though we never used the potty regularly, you grew eager to use the potty when given the opportunity and even started telling us when you needed to poop.  That ended this past fall.  You screamed and cried if we asked you to use the potty, and you denied pooping in your diaper every time.  You continued to use the potty at daycare though, so I never pressed the issue and knew your interest would return again someday.  That interest has come in the form of sticker charts and prizes!  Although you are still sometimes resistant to use the potty at home, you are usually eager at the chance to earn more stickers and prizes and are even starting to tell us when you need to use the potty again sometimes.  You like to stand to pee in your frog potty and even aim, which I find impressive!  You wake up with a dry diaper most mornings, so I am confident we are slowly headed in the right direction toward a diaper-free life!

Books:  In addition to Pete the Cat, you love any Cars book and most any other book with your favorite characters.  You enjoy counting books and color books and books from the “My First Look and Find” series.  You also have a Curious George book you really like.  Sometimes you sit through a whole reading (or even ten books in a row), and other times you turn to the last page and say, “E I” for “The End,” although it is starting to sound more and more like The End.

Affection:  Sometimes you like to give hugs and kisses and high fives, and sometimes you don’t.  Sometimes you play hard to get.  You like to snuggle when you wake up and cry out for more if I get up from our snuggles too soon.  Sometimes you gently push my head onto the pillow so I will lie down next to you.  Sometimes you don’t want to let me go, and sometimes you say, “Bye, Mom!” and push me away.  Most days you exclaim, “Mommy!” or “My mommy!” or “Me Mommy!” when I get to daycare and you run to me with open arms.  I get a big hug and then you run off to play some more.  It’s the best feeling in the world, and I cherish all the hugs and kisses and snuggles knowing someday they will not be as plentiful.  This morning as we were walking out the door, you said, “Hold me pease,” and I was glad to.  I hugged you and remarked that someday you will be too big for me to hold but I will still have big hugs for you then and I will hold you as long as I can before that time comes.

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For the love of Faye

Something I looked forward to this year was taking Westin to visit my grandma at her nursing home.  I was always squeamish about exposing his little immune system to all that lurks inside the home, so I limited his visits to warmer months when the weather was nice enough to visit with her outside.  I had done this last year when he was not yet able to walk, and it brought Gram (and onlooking residents) such joy.  I knew she would be delighted by my walking, talking, dancing Westin.  But on March 19th, those visits I so looked forward to were taken from me.  My grandma was taken from me.

Gram had been in poor health for years.  Strokes, heart failure, cancer, diabetes…we wondered what would take her from us and feared with each new illness and setback that it might be her last.  Still, she persevered.  She fought harder than we probably gave her credit for and amazed us with each comeback.  But the thought always lingered in our minds:  we could lose her any day.

In her final years, she suffered kidney failure and received dialysis treatments.  She became confined to a wheelchair, and in time we started to notice she wasn’t often present in mind.  She was surviving, but in a lot of ways she wasn’t alive anymore.  Just a week before her death, hospice had told us she was in the beginning stages of the end.  They felt she still had months to live but hesitated to say a year.  We were prepared to make the best of the time that remained.

And then, suddenly, there came the call that she had passed–quickly, peacefully, but without any warning.  I think her body had just had enough.  Despite all the times we wondered if she would make it through surgery, all the times we wondered how much more she could take, the news came with an unexpected shock.  It happened, it was over, and we were left to try to make sense of it.

My relationship with Gram, whether or not she knew it, had been strained from my early teenage years and on.  I understood why, I accepted it, I told myself I would have no regrets, yet when she died, I wondered if I should have done more, visited more, laughed more, hugged more, kissed more, loved more.  And now, I would never have the chance.

When she died, I didn’t know how to mourn, I didn’t know how to feel.  There was a numbness.  And a guilt that I wasn’t grieving enough.  Didn’t she deserve for me to grieve more?!  I was sad, but I didn’t cry.  I missed her, but I felt it was a blessing that she was no longer suffering and she didn’t have to experience a slow, difficult death.  I wished I could have visited once more, kissed her once more, told her I LOVE YOU once more, but no regrets!  Remember–I told myself over and over, no regrets.  It happened, it was over.  I had to accept it.

At her celebration of life service, there was an emptiness–this feeling that she should be there.  All the people she loved the most were there to celebrate her, and she couldn’t be there to experience it.  I imagined how she would have smiled.  How she would have laughed, her belly jumping up and down.  How the grandkids and especially the great grandkids would have absolutely delighted her.

It saddens me still that she never got to meet toddler Westin, only infant Westin.  She never got to see him running around, playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie, giving his cousin Talia hugs, eating cookies and fudge made from her recipes, and smiling while going down the sliding board like he did at her service.  At least not in this world.

It has been over four months since she left us, and I’m finally starting to come to terms with this.  I’m thinking of her more and more, and at the most unexpected times.  Quietly, softly these thoughts of her hit me.  I have even shed some tears, tears I have waited more than four months to cry!  I’m recalling some of my fondest memories and savoring each and every moment spent with my Gram.  I’m remembering so warmly the Christmases she spent with us during my childhood.  The way she rubbed my back and comforted me back to sleep when my parents refused my request to open gifts at the reasonable hour of 4 a.m.   The blankets she crocheted for each of us grandkids one Christmas.  (She was always crocheting something.)  The tubs of baked goods she gave us for more recent Christmases.

Then comes the reality that this will be the first Christmas without her.  Very suddenly one day, it came to me that Gram still needs to be part of Christmas, the way she was all those years ago.  I need to make her a part of my Christmas.  And so, after some thought, I purchased an angel cookie cutter ornament that will hang on my Christmas tree in her memory.  Gram was an avid baker.  My famed sand tart recipe came from her.  I think of her often when I bake.  The ornament represents her, our angel.  It represents our Christmases together.  It represents our shared love and talent for baking.

Because it happened, but it isn’t over.

I lost my Gram.  My mom and aunts lost their Mommy.  We lost a woman who remains a piece of each of us.  I’m finding there is a happiness, a peacefulness that comes now in remembering her not through tears and sadness but through warm childhood memories.  It has been over four months, and the questions of why and how, the feelings of guilt, of feeling like I never shed enough tears have lifted.  It has been more than four months, and finally I am feeling something I can start to make sense of.  Now there is this blessing of delayed grief, of resolve, of not feeling so numb.  And it feels so good and so right to remember her and love her and long for her in all the sweet ways a granddaughter should long for her Gram.

I miss her.  I miss that there will never be another Christmas, another crocheted blanket, another tub of cookies, another belly laugh, another smile.  But I am so proud of all the ways she lives on in me, in my son, in every tray of fresh-baked sand tarts I pull from the oven.  She is the daffodil smiling in my garden, the honky tonk to my badonkadonk, the blanket that embraces me, the Christmas spirit that lives on in me.  She is my Gram.

She is our Faye, forever.

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Life As “Mama” and Aunt “Apple”

Being queen is hard sometimes, and my royal schedule has kept me so busy that I’ve failed to keep this blog up to date!  Do you remember that post, “Talia May Turns 1 Today!”?  Well, Talia is now two!  And what about my post, “Happy 1st Birthday, Westin!”?  He is now 22 months old, just two short months away from his second birthday.  Like many parents, I sit back often and wonder where the time has gone.

The days, weeks, and months have not passed idly.  Since the last time I wrote, we took Westin on his first ever vacation to Ocean City, MD and then a subsequent vacation to a cabin in Pine Grove, PA.  Westin got his first haircut and many more teeth (his first eye tooth came in this Sunday!).  We also enrolled Westin in parent/child swim lessons, which gave us something fun to do to help pass the cold, winter months.  We participated in our fourth March for Babies walk, personally raising $1028.73 out of the $4372.72 our team raised for the March of Dimes.  And we’ve enjoyed celebrating holidays and birthdays with family members throughout the last many months too.  
My husband, Matt, was promoted to a superintendent position at his job.  He is often overwhelmed by all the new responsibility, but I am so proud of all the ways he strives to do a good job.  He takes his work very seriously, and I admire his work ethic.  Despite all the added stress of his job, he is still a fun and loving dad, and we share many moments of complete awe as we enjoy watching our little guy grow up.  
Our dog, Morgan, is now an estimated six and a half years old and lovable as always.  He is tolerant as Westin learns to pet instead of pull, to kiss instead of hit, and he shows patience now that Westin helps to prepare his food bowl (a chore Westin gets very excited about!).  Westin loves, loves, loves Morgan.  He calls for him when he is not in the room and waits at the top of the steps to make sure he will be joining us any time we are about to head downstairs.
And Westin…I don’t even know where to begin.  He remains the center of our world, and watching him learn and grow and imagine and create always brings such joy.  He tests our wills at times, and other times he just makes us smile and remark what a good boy he is.  He is sweet and cuddly and wild and crazy, and there is certainly never a dull moment with him around.  I think he is so smart and am amazed by how well he remembers things after only seeing or doing them once.  His latest fascination is fastening the clips on his high chair.  He will do it over and over again, asking for my help to unfasten them each time.  He is getting really good at putting puzzles together but asks for help sometimes, and he is really particular about lining up all his toy cars and then putting them all away.  He loves stickers and can ravage a whole page of stickers within minutes.  He is showing signs of independence and pushes my hand away when he wants to do something on his own.  And he is even using the big boy potty an average of once a day!  We haven’t attempted actual potty training yet, but I sensed his readiness when he started pointing to his dirty diapers.  Now he points to his belly when he needs to go potty, and his eyes grow wide with excitement every time he goes.  He even tells me, “More, more,” if he isn’t done.  He totally “gets it.” 
Westin does not say many words yet, but he communicates well in other ways and I notice him attempting to add new words to his vocabulary all the time.  He has the basics covered:  mama, dada, dog, uh huh (yes), uh uh (no), ow, uh oh, hot, more, and so on.  He loves to look at books and point to objects and count or let mommy and daddy name what he is looking at.  He is OBSESSED with Disney’s Cars, so often we are looking at Cars books and naming the characters to him repeatedly.  We also have a picture book of family members, and he points to each family member as we read their names.  He likes pointing to body parts and having them named as well, and he will excitedly lift his shirt and show off his belly if asked where it is.  He loves dancing and has moves far more impressive than my own.  He moves exactly to the beat of the music, sometimes even just to the music from a brief commercial on TV, and then asks for more when the music stops.  
Westin and my niece, Talia, are a perfect pair.  Talia really looks out for Westin and has come to expect to see him every time she goes to Grandma’s house.  “Wes come.  I need Wes.  Play with Wes?”  We also hear a lot of, “Wes too,” and, “Talia too,” because she likes for them to do everything the same and everything together.  They get so giddy when they first see each other.  They smile and point at one another and then set off running circles around Grandma’s house.  They share a special bond, and we often remark how happy we are that they have each other so close in age and so close in friendship.  Westin also has two cousins who live out of state, and though we don’t get to see them often, we cherish the moments we share with them.  The oldest is only five months older than Westin, and the two of them hit it off every time they are in town.  They make really great playmates, and I’m so in my element watching them, giving piggy back rides, and playing Ring-Around-the-Rosie.  I love being a mom, but being an aunt is pretty special too.
As for me, I continue to juggle the jobs and joys of family life.  Some days I am treated like a queen, and other days I feel like Cinderella, always hopeful but struggling to get ahead.  There are clean days and messy days.  Stressed out days and relaxed days.  Fed up days and patient days.  Every now and then there are I-need-a-glass-of-wine-before-bed days!  But mostly they are just happy days and loving days and take-it-one-day-at-a-time days.  And I love all of those days spent with my three kings.
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Happy 1st Birthday, Westin!

Westin, you are one!  It was such a happy occasion to celebrate your first birthday, though I’m still in slight disbelief that a year has passed already.  (True shock set in when I bought your #1 candle.)  I look at you and still can’t believe you are mine–and even better, you are mine forever.  I hope someday you will know the joy you bring me!  I’m so lucky to be your mommy!

Your birthday party was this past Saturday.  Close family and friends joined us to celebrate YOU!  You were a little sleepy and a little shy, but you shared some smiles with us when singing Happy Birthday and eating cake.  You got such a fun variety of new toys, clothing, books, and snacks as well as an heirloom toy box from your Great Grandpa Hoffman and collectible John Deere tractors and model cars from your Great Grandpa Schroll.  These gifts were all picked out and given with love, and though you don’t understand that just yet, you do at least enjoy exploring all the bright, new things that have taken over our house!
I took the day off work to spend with you on your birthday.  It was a sentimental day for me, and I wanted to enjoy every moment of it with you.  Highlights of our day include an early morning nap when you fell asleep on my chest; singing, dancing, and laughing to the “Skinny Marinky Dinky Dink” song; and playing peek a boo with Morgan!  That evening daddy and I enjoyed watching you dig into a very special birthday cake Great Nan made you, just like the one daddy had for his first birthday too.  
At your one-year check up today,  you weighed 18 lb 9 oz and measured 29 3/4 in.  You’ve gotten really tall since your last appointment three months ago, but your weight is holding steady.  The doctor advised a diet of foods dense in nutrients to try to help you gain more weight.  I know you’d enjoy fattening up with daily servings of ice cream, and we’ll continue to offer one of your favorite foods:  cheese!
When you were born, it was my goal to breastfeed you for a year.  We did it!  It’s one of my proudest accomplishments in life.  There were times I HATED pumping milk for you while I was at work, but I felt it was too important to give up.  Lately you have had your share of sickness (pneumonia, croup), but I hope the love and time and care that was put into making sure you had only mommy’s milk will help give you a jump start for a healthy life!  It’s amazing to me how my body was designed to provide for you, and I’m thankful breastfeeding has worked out for both of us.  I’ve enjoyed the closeness and the snuggles it brings with a little boy who is otherwise on the move constantly.
You started crawling Memorial Day weekend, and ever since then it’s been go, go, go.  You crawl to us and grab at our legs or reach up to be held–it is the greatest feeling to be so wanted and so loved by you!  If we’re lucky, you give us an open-mouth kiss when we scoop you up in an embrace.  About a month after crawling, you started pulling yourself up to stand.  At first this took a lot of trying and sometimes some assistance, but before long you were standing up and down, up and down with ease.  You look like such a little person standing tall and upright!  Then came cruising along furniture and walking while pushing your activity table or push walker.  When you get going, YOU GO.  I love the thud of your little feet.  You used to stand with two hands touching something to stay balanced, then you started relying on only one hand, and now you stand hands free.  You step between pieces of furniture if they are close enough together, and you are even taking one or two steps at a time without any support!  You seem so proud of your new discoveries and abilities, and we know it won’t be long now until you start walking full time!  
Along with this new mobility, you have learned how to stand and reach for things on our end tables, and you also now stand and reach for any snacks we may be enjoying while sitting on the sofa.  We’ve been sharing a lot of food lately and also our drinks since you are more fascinated with mommy and daddy’s cups than your own sippy cups.  It’s pretty entertaining because you and Morgan both stand in front of us waiting for food.  More and more at mealtime you prefer to feed yourself, and when you are done, you throw your leftovers on the floor for Morgan one piece at a time.  You enjoy watching him scramble to devour the food.   
You still love bathtime and have a new fascination with unraveling the toilet paper roll.  You love crawling through the house but pause often to make sure someone is coming after you.  You love these games of chase and laugh heartily when you hear us coming and try to make your getaway.  A lot of times I exaggerate my footsteps just to get a bigger reaction out of you.  You now climb stairs with ease, clap your hands, and stick your hand out like half pointing and half waving.  I always encourage you to say ‘Hi’ when you do this.  I usually get more of an “Eh,” and you have also been saying “Ba,” which might mean ball.  Nanie and Miss A said they heard you say “Uh oh,” but I haven’t noticed any true first words yet.
You love your toothbrush and smile when you see it.  (You now have seven sparkly teeth that we brush each night before bed!)  You like to turn the pages in your books and love touch and feel books.  You also like to stick your little fingers in lots of fun places where they shouldn’t go…like in the dog’s water dish, or the potted plant dirt, or the VCR.  I think you understand “No,” but you usually just smile and continue with whatever you were doing when I say it.  You have a very bad habit of biting me (most often on my shoulder), and I have bruises to prove just how ineffective that yucky “No” word has been at teaching you not to bite!
Your first year is over now, but there are still a lot of firsts for us to look forward to–like your first words and your first trip to the beach next month!  You don’t look like such a baby anymore, but that’s ok because I love the little boy you’re becoming.  You’re our world and our dream come true.  When we found out we were going to have a baby, your daddy looked for a shooting star to make a wish for you, our baby-to-be.  He didn’t find a star that night, but I realized days later he didn’t need to–you are our star.  You are everything I love and everything I live for.  Happy Birthday, Baby!    
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The Big Ten

No, as much as Matt would like it, I’m not talking about The Big Ten Conference; I’m talking about Westin turning 10 months old today!  I’m talking about 10 fingers and 10 toes that just keep growing.  I’m talking about countless late nights and even more smiles.
We’ve entered a very fun stage of parenting.  Westin is crawling and reaching for favorite toys and people.  He is very interactive, responds to facial expressions, and loves singing, dancing, and playing peek-a-boo.  He babbles and squeals with nearly constant excitement and is equally vocal about letting us know when it’s time to sleep.  Sometimes he hums and sings while nodding off.
I’m astounded by all the changes that take place in the first year of life–how a helpless infant becomes mobile and vocal, how an eternally sleepy soul becomes lively, how a seemingly blank slate blossoms into a personality.
Westin, at 10 months, you are positively charming!  Your blue eyes still get lots of comments, but people have started talking about something new:  your hair.  There’s quite a difference comparing your 6-month picture to your 9-month picture.  Now your hair is long and thick and curly and light brown instead of the dark head of hair you were born with.  Your traits resemble all of your daddy’s features at your age, so much so that people call you Little Matt (LM) and Matt, Jr. (MJ).  I was told I was just your incubator because you bear little resemblance to me!
You have so many favorite activities, and you keep exploring new things.  Baby proofing has become an ongoing process now that you’re on the move.  Sometimes it seems like you get from one end of a room to the other in the blink of an eye.  You are fascinated by cabinet doors that open and close, and you like to play with spring door stoppers and cabinet door handles that jingle .  You like to try “big boy” things like mommy and daddy’s ice pops and drinking from mommy and daddy’s glasses.  You can grasp food now and feed yourself small snacks. 
Things that supposedly calm other babies make you excited, like baths and your crib mobile.  You also love the vacuum!  Lately you’ve taken great interest in the basket of onions and potatoes in our kitchen.  You like the dry, crunchy onion skin and leave pieces of it crumbled all over the floor.  You also enjoy drumming on flat surfaces, standing at the tub edge watching your bathwater pour out of the faucet, and rolling a ball back and forth.  You are still quite fascinated by lights (and fireworks!) and smile and sometimes even giggle when you see them.  I believe grabbing Morgan’s tail was your main motivation for learning to crawl, as it is still one of your favorite things to chase after.
You now have five teeth and show them off frequently with wild smiles of glee.  Much to my dismay, you recently started grinding your teeth!  This seems to happen most during meal time.  You are eating three solid food meals a day and trying new foods and textures.  You recently enjoyed a few bites of ice cream!  
Diaper changes have become a challenge.  You just want to move, move, move.  I used to love diaper changes because it was a chance for us to interact face-to-face.  You shared many of your first smiles and giggles with me during diaper changes, and I savored those moments, even the messy ones!  Now you are twisting and turning, and the only giggles I seem to get are when you make a game out of escaping me–and win!  You are also crawling and reaching during bath time, which presents new challenges, and dinner has to be perfectly timed before you get too tired and want nothing to do with your food.   
We recently watched the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie, and you loved all the high-pitched singing.  You always turn your head any time there is music on TV.  Your favorite song is Row Row Row Your Boat.  We sing during happy times, but I also keep it in my arsenal to try to cheer you up during fussy times too.  We sing a lot during the car ride to and from daycare, and we talk about the things you are going to do and the people you are going to see each day.  
In just two months we’ll celebrate your first birthday.  By then you could be walking!  You are trying so hard to pull yourself up to stand.  It’s really been neat seeing you process (and practice!) each new stage of mobility.  Crawling certainly wasn’t something you learned from us, but you did it!  I love watching you scramble across the floor to a favorite toy or new curiosity, your butt bobbing in the air.  Keep growing and learning, and I will keep loving you always.

Busy, busy bees

I feel like so much has happened lately, and we continue to be busy, busy, busy.  April was a truly joyful month!  It started with Easter, which to me is a season of love, hope, and joy.  The world comes alive again, families come together, and I am left feeling so blessed and loved.  I’m overwhelmed by happiness every time we gather with family and I see how many people Westin has to love him, care for him, and guide him.  That is so, so important to me, and I hope he will some day also value all the amazing, loving support that surrounds him.  My heart breaks knowing there are children in this world who are lonely and hungry and unloved, who are physically and verbally abused, who don’t know the comforts of bed time, who may not even have a bed…but I feel assured that will never, ever be my son.  There are far too many people looking out for him, and what a lucky boy he is because of it!
Following Easter, Matt and I celebrated seven years since our first date.  Even though we don’t do anything to recognize this “anniversary,” I always like to take note of the date and reflect on the beautiful journey we’re traveling together.  Seven years may not be that long compared to a lifetime of marriage, but it’s a sweet beginning nonetheless.  Our first date, our first kiss–those were the start of many wonderful things…new love, new hope, new dreams, and new family.  Seven years later, there are still so many “new” moments we experience no matter how many anniversaries we celebrate.  I fall in love with him all over again all the time, and I think that feeling of “new love” is so important to a happy marriage.  We aren’t perfect, we have our little fights, we get grumpy sometimes, we get annoyed with each other, but there is always something that renews us in our love for each other.
Flash forward a bit more.  We celebrated Talia’s first birthday.  We went to market.  I baked, planted flowers, went to yard sales.  We went out for breakfast and got the usual comments from strangers admiring Westin.  We met baby Robby and still can’t believe Westin was ever so small.  We napped together.  I took Westin to visit his Great Grandma and enjoyed an impromptu picnic with his grandma, Talia, and Great Aunt Denise too.  I played peek-a-boo with Talia.  I went to church with my mom and grandpa and rocked my sweet baby to sleep in my arms after he tired from “singing” along to the hymns.  The list could go on and on.  All these little things make life so good, so sweet, so simple.
We ended April with the March for Babies walk in support of March of Dimes.  We got involved with the walk when our friends started a team in memory of their son.  To me it was a special way to support them while helping a good cause.  I became quickly passionate about the charity because of their baby boy, and it’s been amazing to see the outpouring of support they’ve received and how their son has made such a positive impact even though many of us never had the chance to meet him.  Now that we’ve been blessed with so many healthy babies (their daughter, Westin, our nieces), it’s still a nice way to give back to those who aren’t as fortunate.  Despite having some brief emotional moments to realize why we walk and who we walk for, I felt it was just a wonderful way to spend the day as a family.  The weather was gorgeous this year, and there is such a bright, positive energy at the walk.  I was glad to have Westin be a part of it.  He smiled and squealed as he bounced around on Matt’s back, and he was such a happy reminder of why this charity matters.
May is upon us now, and we kicked the month off with a Kentucky Derby party.  Matt is a huge fan of horse racing.  His grandfather used to own race horses, his dad grew up helping with them, and now horse racing is a passion the three of them share together.  They get rowdy cheering on their horses, but it made for a fun excuse to get together with family and friends and wear obnoxious Derby hats for the occasion.  Dress up isn’t just for little kids, you know!
Amidst all the fun we’ve been having, Westin finally got his first two teeth at 8 1/2 months old.  He got his top left tooth last Thursday and his top right tooth this Monday.  He has been a champ about teething, and despite missing his toothless grin, I’m really excited for the cwazy wabbit smiles we’ll soon see once his teeth come down the whole way.  I’ve started offering him some finger foods, but unless its a dissolvable food like baby puffs or yogurt melts, so far he just gums the food and lets it hang out in his mouth, never swallowing it.  We continue introducing new foods to his diet–yummy things like apricot, and gross things like pureed chicken.  Pears seem to be his favorite, but peaches, blueberries and apples, and apricot mixes also seem to please his taste buds.  If he starts to get fussy during a meal, I sometimes say, “Busy, busy bee,” emphasizing the buzzing sound.  I did this randomly one day, and ever since it has been a great way of distracting him enough to get him to take a few more bites.  It’s a fun little moment between the two of us, a daily dose of giggles to give us the break we need from real life as busy bees.
Westin is trying so hard to crawl.  He lunges toward his favorite toys, favorite people, and of course his favorite puppy, but he hasn’t quite figured out how to maneuver his legs.  We encourage him and praise his attempts, and I enjoy watching him try and progress.  When he first started lunging forward from a sitting position, he didn’t even know how to support himself on his arms, and he’d face plant every time.  Then he learned how to fall to the ground more gracefully, almost as if intentional.  Then he learned to hold himself up but didn’t know how to free his legs underneath him.  Now he can free his legs but can’t hold himself up on them and flops to the ground to do push ups.  I realize being a parent that there is so much about our daily lives that we take for granted.  Basic things don’t come as inherently as they may seem.  There is a lot that we must teach ourselves and be taught, and the amount of things babies learn in such a short time and their persistence to keep trying is inspiring in a way.  Unlike adults, they don’t give up out of fear or frustration!   

In addition to his attempts to crawl, Westin has been developing some dance moves.  This mostly consists of bending his legs repeatedly to jump in our laps.  He does this now without much encouragement, whereas we used to always initiate these little springs and bounces.  He also sometimes straightens his legs when we try to sit him down–a very obvious way of telling us he’d rather stand for a while.
Bath time has changed quite drastically.  I used to let Westin lie on his back in the tub, but when he started insisting on rolling over, I knew it was time for something new.  Now he sits up, and since I don’t have to worry about water getting in his ears anymore, I fill the water higher, much to his delight.  He splashes with his hands and reaches for his floating rubber duck.  I also sometimes flip him over onto his belly and hold him up in the water so he can kick and “swim.”
Westin now smiles at us from across the room.  When he plays and “talks,” he sometimes seems like such a little boy.  I catch glimpses of him and just can’t believe how big he’s gotten and how much he looks like his daddy.  His hair is getting longer and wavy, and the resemblance to Matt is there now as much as ever.  Sometimes he looks scruffy because of bed head, and I think it’s the most adorable thing.
Westin has also started this thing where he randomly blows/whistles.  It sounds kind of like someone trying to blow on their food to cool it off.  Again, it is so neat to see him experiment with his vocal capabilities.  Cries, coos, squeals, giggles, and raspberries–he has quite a dictionary of baby sounds.
This weekend I’ll celebrate my first real Mother’s Day as a mom, not just a dog mom or an expecting mom (though those were wonderful “mom” roles to celebrate too).  I’m quite looking forward to it!  Westin and Matt got me peridot stud earrings to match the necklace Matt got me of Westin’s birthstone before I had to go back to work after maternity leave.  They are so good to me, and I wear those stones so proudly!  I think of my baby so often, and then I see or feel those peridots and think of him some more!  Our weekend should be fairly low key but enjoyable as always.  We’re having a picnic with my grandma (and mom, aunts, cousins, and brothers and their families) Saturday and then breakfast with Matt’s parents and grandparents Sunday.  
I’m joyful as ever to be Westin’s mommy, to watch him learn and grow, to share in his smiles and wipe his sweet tears.  I’m thankful to my mom for being the kind of mother I can model myself after, to Matt’s mom for raising him to be a thoughtful, loving husband and father, and to the generations of moms before us for growing our family tree and making “us” possible.  
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Talia May Turns 1 Today!


My niece, Talia, celebrates her first birthday today!   Talia, what a joy you are!  One year ago, we all waited with anticipation to hear about your birth.  You arrived on your due date, and after nine months of waiting, we were all so excited to meet you.  My parents were so proud to take on their new role as grandparents.  You were the first of many good things–the first grandchild, the first girl, and Westin’s first playmate.  How lucky he is to have a friend in you!


It has brought us so much happiness to watch you grow.  In such a short time you’ve gone from a 7 lb 12 oz baby girl to a wide-eyed, chipmunk-toothed, crawling, talking bundle of fun!   Already you can tell us that a cow says “moo” and an owl says “who.”  I can’t wait to see all the other things you learn.  I have enjoyed your kisses, your dance moves, your wild smiles, and your squeals of happiness.  You’ve shown me just how special it is to be an aunt.  Watching you play and interact with Westin has sometimes made me laugh that genuine, happy kind of laugh that just feels good.  I hope we can laugh like that together some day.


Talia, after you were born, your mommy told me she missed seeing her poppies bloom while she was at the hospital.  I knew then that despite her disappointment, those poppies really don’t matter anymore.  You’re her poppy now, her most favorite flower of all.  She can watch you blossom and bloom throughout all the seasons.  You won’t wilt, you won’t fade–your vibrance will bring us cheer always.   GROW…show us what a beautiful little flower you are.


This weekend, I so look forward to gathering with our family to celebrate YOU!  What a happy occasion it will be to share in your smiles and dream of new dreams for the year ahead.  You are so loved, baby girl, and I hope you feel the warmth of that love every time we’re together.  Your mommy, daddy, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and more–we’re here for you.  Let our love be your comfort, your guide.  Let it build you up into a confident and independent little girl.  The world is yours!


Happy Birthday!  We love you!!!

XOXO with love and giggles

~ Auntie, Uncle Matt, and Westin

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Even My Bad Days Are Good


Lately I’ve been feeling resentful about being a working mom.   We don’t have a big house.  We don’t drive new cars.  We don’t go on lavish vacations.  We live a simple life (one I’m proud of!), yet it takes two full-time incomes for us to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.  I always knew it would be this way, but I can’t help but feel frustrated that I’m gone 10.5 hours a day while someone else enjoys the pleasure of my son’s company.


I’m proud to earn an honest living, and I understand the benefits of being able to provide for our family.  But I’d give it up in an instant if given the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mommy.  I’m grateful to get every other Friday off work, but I’m always so backed up with chores and errands that I spend the day playing catch up–it’s never the free day to spend with Westin like I wish for it to be.  The rest of the weekend usually passes by as a blur, and I’m left experiencing this continual disappointment over how little quality time I get with him.


But it goes beyond that.  Right now, I blame the fact that I’m a working mom for everything.  It’s the reason I have to pay $45 a week to put gas in my car.  It’s the reason Westin’s 6-month portraits have yet to be framed and proudly showcased on the wall.  It’s the reason my husband and I haven’t had the time to sit down together to plan a much-needed vacation.  It’s the reason I miss out on sunny days outside with my baby.  It’s the reason frequent nighttime feedings are so frustrating–I wouldn’t care if I still had the prospect of sleeping in or napping like when I was on maternity leave.  And of course it’s the reason my house is never clean.


Maybe I’m just making excuses.  Maybe I just have a case of “the grass is greener.”  But undoubtedly life would be so different if I had the joy of being a stay-at-home mom.  I know the reality of it is probably far from what I imagine.  I know my house would still be dirty because my desk job would be replaced with the challenge of entertaining my baby all day.  I know the financial strain would cause problems in my marriage.  But still I like to wonder, “What if?”  Because as one of my stay-at-home mom friends recently explained it, even the worst day at home is better than the best day at work.


Thankfully, working mom or not, the joys of motherhood still abound.  Suddenly we’re the parents of a seven-and-a-half-month-old baby boy!  At his recent check up, Westin weighed 16 lbs 3 oz (11%) and was 27.5 in (64%) tall.  The doctor estimates he might grow up to be about 5’10” (surpassing me and Matt) and assured me Westin’s weight is quite healthy despite being low compared to others his age.  I was never concerned since he has the iconic fat baby thighs, ankle rolls, and wrist folds to love–he’s just lean everywhere else!


Westin is now wearing size 3 diapers and size 6-9 month clothing.  When I first unpacked his new wardrobe, I thought for sure everything would be too big.  It fit perfectly.  In fact, in just a few weeks, it seems he is already outgrowing some of his 9-month sleepers length wise.  I look at him lying in his crib and just can’t believe how tall he has gotten.  His proportions are becoming more like a little boy than a baby.


Westin now “eats” (translation: spits out) a variety of pureed baby foods–one meal in the morning and one in the evening.  His appetite seems to match his size because he only eats about 1/2 to 1 oz each sitting.  He has tried peas, green beans, avocado, sweet potatoes, squash, prunes, apples, pears, peaches, and bananas.  We’ve also given him yogurt melts, but we’ve found that Morgan enjoys eating them much more than he does.  We also recently introduced Westin to a soft-spout sippy cup.  He’s very excited and curious about it but can only drink from it with assistance.  If he holds it on his own, he either uses the handle as a teether or tries to position it in his mouth like a bottle or with the spout upside down.  All part of the learning process!  He has drank both milk and water from it (water is a first),  but milk is of course his favorite!


Westin is mostly quiet and observant, but sometimes he gets in these wild fits that we just love.  Something snaps, and suddenly he is a different boy.  He shrieks with happiness.  He raises his eyebrows.  He bangs toys.  He stands up straight in his jumper.  We tell him, “Oh my goodness!” and “You’re so silly!” and sometimes “What a crazy boy!” in response to his yells.  The laughter it inspires is uncontrollable.  It’s a joy to watch him explore the world and have fun in the process!


Westin now rolls over with ease.  He can roll both ways, but he prefers rolling back to belly.  When I lay him down on his back, he instantly rolls over to practice striking a Superman pose or planking.  No signs of crawling just yet (and still no teeth–everyone keeps asking).  He also recently started sitting unassisted, and it has been so fun watching him interact with his toys now that he can actually sit and play.  It gives me a small break to get things done and know that he’ll be content.  Matt is loving all the new activity and feels more comfortable caring for Westin now that he is so easy to interact with.


We limit TV time, but on the rare occasion we let Westin watch, he voices his approval for Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with small giggles.  (Inevitably, the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song gets stuck in my head for a few days.  Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggety dog!)  He also strains his neck to catch a glimpse of whatever TV shows we might have playing in the background, and he is fascinated by the computer screen and my cell phone.  I think he has tried to send a few text messages to his grandma.  He and Matt are already fighting over the TV remote too.  In an attempt to chew on it, Westin has changed the channel, turned the TV off, and muted the sound.


Westin LOVES Morgan.  Seeing how he adores that dog as much as I do melts my heart!  He follows him with his eyes wherever he goes but particularly loves watching him run through the room or play with a toy.  The result is usually wide, curious eyes and smiles.  Sometimes just watching him wag his tail is enough to make Westin happy.  He giggles at the sight of Morgan the same way he does his TV shows.  He pets Morgan, pulls his hair, and sometimes shares his leftover food, whether strewn on the floor or stuck in between his little fingers.  I tell Morgan all the time that he has a new buddy…he just doesn’t know it yet.  By the time Westin is walking and throwing toys and offering up his ice cream cone, I think Morgan will understand the value of our little man.


Bath time remains a fun event in our house.  The kicks and splashes get bigger and bigger, and the smiles are always heartwarming.  Those wild, happy shrieks I mentioned usually accompany bath time (and diaper changes too).  When the fun is over, I dry Westin off, slather him with lotion, get him dressed and warm, and then show him his clean, handsome self in the mirror.  This always makes him smile–apparently he finds himself as cute as the rest of us!


Bedtime has been more of a challenge lately.  My once-good sleeper is going to bed later, waking more frequently, and having a harder time going back to sleep.  We have some really good nights, some really bad nights (with 2 a.m. play times!), and some nights that are just so-so.  We’re not really sure of the reason for this change, but we’re hopeful it’s just a phase!  In the meantime, mommy and daddy are feeling a little more tired.  Mommy especially.


I realize after writing this that the good in life still far outweighs the bad.  And I know there are so many other mommies out there sharing my frustrations, living my joys, and trying to find that perfect (maybe unobtainable) balance.  I know that wading through the challenges will make us stronger, and I know the good moments will continue to push us through all the rest.  And if we’re really lucky, we’ll get a few naps along the way!  (Please, I could really use one right now.)


Living Life, Making Messes

Remember that New Year’s resolution about cleaning the refrigerator?  Well, after months of trying to convince me to undertake the chore (“It’s easy” and “It’ll only take a few minutes”), Matt finally tore apart the refrigerator and cleaned up the dried, spilt Kool Aid and other crumbs of yesteryear.  That “quick and easy” task ended up being divided between two days.  Coming from the kitchen, I heard several curse words and the banging of refrigerator drawers.  I silently laughed to myself as his temper grew hotter.  Easy?  I knew better than that!

The refrigerator sent him into a cleaning rampage.  This happens from time to time, and these rampages are a bittersweet experience for me–sweet because someone other than me is motivated to clean, bitter because he blames me for most of the messes (despite my earlier claim that I make only 10% of them) and because most anything that gets in his way ends up in the trash.  ”We’re slobs!” he declared.  ”We need to do a better job taking care of things!”

It was funny to see him experience the frustration I feel every week as I tackle a mountain of chores.  Finally, he understands, I thought.  I told him I’m glad to see him take an interest and that maybe together we can keep up with things because I obviously haven’t been able to do it on my own.  To his credit, he does help.  And we’re both to blame for making messes (and not cleaning them).  But we’re by no means slobs.  Our house is simply lived in, and I try to remind myself of this on the average day when I look around and cringe because our humble abode isn’t even close to anything you’d see in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  (Does anyone’s house really look like that–so bright, sparkly, and pristine???)

But not all messes are bad, I’m learning.  In fact, the mess of squash or sweet potato smothered all over Westin’s face is one I’ve quickly learned to love!  The spray of orange baby food across his booster seat tray makes me laugh.  Surely, he’s more interested in his new-found talent for blowing bubbles than he is in the pureed mush I keep shoveling into his mouth!

Baby food is only the beginning.  I want Westin to grow up and make messes.  I want him to finger paint and play in the dirt and splash through the creek in our backyard.  I want to feel frustrated that he got grass stains on his new shirt or that he walked through a rain puddle in his “good” sneakers because these are all necessary parts of childhood.  I want him to have an imagination.  I want him to explore and play and feel that the world is his to discover.  I want him to go outside on nice days instead of sitting in front of the TV.  I want him to bake with me and throw sprinkles all over the kitchen and kiss me with his flour-covered face–his bright, blueberry eyes the only thing showing through.  I want him to have fun and to laugh and to revel in the joy of mess making.

Of course, I also want him to learn how to clean up the messes he makes.

I’m in the habit of trying to do just that each night before going to bed.  Empty glasses go in the dishwasher.  Dirty burp cloths go in the hamper.  Abandoned toys go back in their basket.  Stray bills and junk mail get piled neatly on the dining room table.  I brush my teeth, take out my contacts, and head upstairs, but there’s one last thing I do before turning out the light and settling into bed.  I tiptoe into Westin’s room and check on him one last time.  It’s the same thing every night.  I see his chest move up an down with each breath, and from the glow of the hallway light shining outside his bedroom door, I study the shadows and contours of his face.  ”He is perfect,” I think to myself.  And with that thought, I drift off to dreamland feeling that this life, and it’s many messes, is perfect too.

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A fresh start!

Yesterday I was in one of those moods.  There wasn’t really anything wrong, and yet I felt like I was at odds with the world.  For one, the Cleaning Fairy forgot to visit my house this weekend.  I was really, really depending on her, so you can imagine how let down I felt when she didn’t come.  I had had this great idea that in addition to my regular weekly chores, I’d make a list of special, less-frequent chores (wiping down the kitchen cabinets, cleaning the oven, dusting the baseboard trim) and aim to accomplish one a week so that little by little, the whole house would be cleaned on a regular basis without any huge efforts or whole-day cleaning frenzies.  As it turns out, I didn’t even find the time to do my weekly chore of vacuuming let alone begin to tackle the list.

That’s what started it.  Then I looked around the house and only felt more infuriated.  How, if I just picked up the house yesterday, does it need picked up again?  Why is there pee on that part of the toilet?  For that matter, why is there pee on any part of the toilet other than in the toilet bowl?!  And who keeps getting toothpaste residue all over the bathroom sink…and the bathroom mirror???  AH!  Surely, I decided, I make only 10% of the messes at home but clean up 90% of them.  It just didn’t seem right.

I fumed over this throughout my work day while also contemplating Westin’s newly-erratic sleep schedule.  I thought through all the reasons he might be waking up more frequently–teething, hunger, just wants mommy.  I was frustrated.  Not frustrated with him, but frustrated that my sleep was more interrupted than usual.  Most of all, I was frustrated that my baby was waking up in need of something and I didn’t know what it was.

Then I picked Westin up from daycare and had the heart-wrenching realization that daycare just isn’t a substitute for mommy.  This is nothing new, but in my already-sensitive state, it hit me that there are times throughout his day when he just wants some extra snuggles from me and I’m not there to give them to him.  I am absolutely confident he is receiving good care.  He’s in a small, home daycare setting.  He smiles when I drop him off and he smiles when I pick him up.  I’ve never doubted that his every need is being met.  His every need except for mommy…

We went home and I held him and cried.  He smiled at me, and I cried some more!  But then, a little bit of that grumble, grumble feeling lifted.  For once, I did not take my bad mood out on Matt.  The evening passed by too quickly, and though it felt like I’d never have the chance to get my shower and prep Westin’s bottles for the next day, I managed to get everything done and still get to bed at the usual time.  And Westin, the dear boy, only woke up once last night, which is the norm.

Sometimes a good cry and a good night’s sleep can fix everything.  I’m still not sure about “the list,” but today I’m starting fresh, new, and happy.  I can’t wait to get home to my three Valentines!  I’m feeling thankful for all my loved ones this Valentine’s Day and thankful that I’ve outgrown the single, 17-year-old April who wore a homemade “LOVE SUCKS” tee on this once-dreaded holiday.  Love makes the world go ’round–let’s give it a little spin!

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