Friday, January 28, 2011

Treasure

One of the blogs I read is hosting a giveaway for something I really, really want, so I’m (selfishly) not going to tell you whose blog it is….but the gist is for us to leave a comment sharing something non-tangible that we treasure.

I posted my reply, then read it back, and loved the sentiment so much, I decided to post it here for safekeeping….so I’ll always remember.

I definitely treasure the sound of my children's laughter RIGHT NOW, at this stage of their – and my – life.

Seth is just-3, and his laugh is loud and staccato, and half the time I'm shushing him 'cause the baby is sleeping, but he laughs so BIG and the joy just pours out of him.

Erin, tiny bean at 8 months, has a more mellow guffaw.  Really, that is the only word for it.  The very first time we heard her chuckle/chortle, it was directed at Seth -- he can make her laugh in a heartbeat.  He is for sure her favorite person, and I love the adoration I hear for him in her laugh.

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(note to self….try to capture the sound on video)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Darn you, Oso

Don't get me wrong.

I love Seth. I love doing stuff with Seth. I love healthy snacks for Seth.

But I was not in the mood to make fresh squeezed OJ just now. But.....

He saw the show, then saw the oranges on the kitchen island, and....now my counters are a mess, and the puncture wound from the paring knife is burning like a thousand suns.

But at least he's a happy (albeit sticky) boy:

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Thank you, Playhouse Disney, for quality programming that engages my preschooler when I need some downtime!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Scent dilemma

The aroma of apple pie and cinnamon gave way to peppermint and pine, but when the holidays departed, and the cold, dreary January days arrived, I found myself at a loss.

What scent (as in home fragrance) best fits January?

I have just a few more hours of burn time on my Yankee Candle Mistletoe, but then I’m out of ideas.

So y’all have any recommendations, on either brand or scent?  I’m all ears (or nostrils, as the case may be…)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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She’s all decked out in her Nonna’s snow suit (and I mean that literally – not in the sense of “Nonna bought it,” but in “Nonna wore it.”

My grandmother gave this to me a year or so ago, and we missed the window where Seth could fit into it, so I was sure to give Erin a turn.

Granted….it’s big.

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And because it’s so big, I have her in another bunting under this suit.  Which, in turns, make her SO bulky, she can’t even sit up.  (I have her propped up against the dining room wall in this shot.)  I’m telling you, the kid from A Christmas Story doesn’t have anything on Erin.

I was going to actually take her out in the snow for some pictures, but she is so mobile now, she instantly flips to all fours to start crawling….and in this get-up, she can’t move her arms, so she’d most likely just be laying face down in the snow, so…..

Indoor shots are all we’re gonna get, I’m afraid.  Not that it matters. She makes a darling snow bunny indoors, too!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Right out of the gate

2011 isn’t pulling any punches it seems.

Last week, I was struck with food poisoning, leaving me violently ill (and then subsequently, dehydrated and weak) for the better part of the week.  As I result, I was on two medications that are prohibitive to breastfeeding, which, as it turns out, was the final “nudge” I was waiting for to make weaning Erin a final reality.

Saturday night, Baby Girl drank the last of my freezer stash:

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And as of bedtime tonight, I’ll have been pump-free for a week.  It’s surreal, really.  With the exception of the 6 or so weeks between when we lost our twins and conceived Duncan in 2008, I have been pregnant or nursing for 4 straight years.  That’s crazy.

The upside of being done with pumping is that I now have the freedom to sit in a surgical waiting room for hours at a time without need to relieve myself.  And I’ll have just such an opportunity this week, when Jim goes it for orthopedic surgery on his left hand.

You see, back in November, Jim participated in our church’s annual flag football Turkey Bowl, in which he injured his left hand.  We took precautions, and had X-rays taken.  We were told that nothing too serious had occurred, and that things should heal on their own.

When we returned from our holiday vacation, Jim went to see a specialist, who was oh-so-comforting with the news: “you’re here about a month too late.”  Translation (and long-story-short), Jim needs surgery to repair torn tendons in his left middle finger, followed by 16 weeks of physical therapy.

Nice, huh?

Oh, did I mention that in the course of this injury, the X-rays, the MRI, and surgery prep, that Jim’s wedding band needed to be cut off?

Double nice.

So, that has how we’ve rung in the new year.  A major hormonal shift for me (which has made me a peach to live with, I know) and painful surgery for Jim.

I hate to even post this; I know it’s such a downer of a post.  But….it’s our reality right now, and it’s part of the reason I’ve not been blogging much.  Let’s try to leave things on a happy note, though?  How’s this:

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Erin is all set for the playoff games this weekend.  Go Steelers!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tick, tock, tick, tock

No matter how hard I try, the clock hands spin, and she grows and grows and grows.

Two years ago today, I found out I was pregnant with Duncan.  The emotions I felt were suffocating in their intensity.  I couldn’t have imagined what the coming months would bring….

But as I look at these pictures of my Bean, I can only be thankful that from the ashes comes beauty.  And I’m soaking up every minute of it.

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Monday, January 3, 2011

To think like a man…

I recently treated myself to a couple hours out of the house and an indulgent pedicure.  Apparently, on the same day, every other woman in my small town had the same idea, which gave me ample time to just sit back, relax, and read something without trains and trucks on the cover.

Even though I had a book in my bag, I picked up one of the salon’s glossy magazines, and I’m so glad I did, for buried deep in a fall issue of Redbook was the following article:

Like most men, I love the fact that Thanksgiving is all about food, family, and football. I have no qualms about eating until it literally hurts and then lying down in front of the TV to moan softly while I nurse a glass of scotch, watch whatever game is on, and hopefully digest enough of the pain away to be ready for dessert. The elders of the group are afforded the respect of easy chairs and couches, while the younger men of our tribe are relegated to whatever spots they can scrounge on the floor.

But my wife, Karel — along with the other women in her family — has never joined this Y-chromosome ritual. She does not give in to thoughtless gluttony during the holidays, or, for that matter, on any other day. It's not that she's a paranoid counter of calories or fat grams, it's just that she is aware of what, and how much, she is eating. It's like there's an invisible finish line of food that only Karel can see, and if she steps even a few feet over it, every time she sees herself in the mirror for the next week she'll grab her belly and say, "Look at how big my stomach is" or, "Look at how much weight I've put on this week." Meanwhile, I'm making the best possible use of leftovers by sandwiching turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans between two slices of chocolate-chip pecan pie.

The stories I hear from my guy friends go pretty much the same way. Their wives behave a lot like Karel, who gazes in the mirror and critiques every part of her amazing body. It's impossible for her to look at photos taken in the months after she gave birth to the kids without commenting on how "chunky" she was. She's forbidden me to hang up some of my favorite photos of her because she can see mysterious flaws or proportional eyesores that I and the rest of the world are completely oblivious to.

By contrast, when I look in the mirror, I don't see my faults. I stand there naked and make funny faces and flex muscles and never once see the pound or two that I gained over Thanksgiving — let alone the extra 15 pounds I've hauled around since my 19-month-old daughter, Josie, was born. All I'm thinking is, Hey, not bad for a 32-year-old.

Seriously, I understand that there are plenty of guys over 30 who are in much better shape than I am, but why would I compare myself to them? I might give myself a complex. Besides, I (and most of the other guys I know) realize that our looks played only a small part in landing our wives. Sure, they factored in, but they pale in comparison to our sense of humor, our ability to provide security, and that confusing, uncontrollable thing we call love. I may not know what it is, but Karel seems to see something in me that compensates for my concave pecs and deforested hairline.

I worry that she thinks it's different for women — that men fall hard for their looks, then expect perfect maintenance. But that's far from the truth. I may have noticed Karel initially because her personal-trainer-sculpted body had hills and valleys that would make Julie Andrews burst into song. But I'm here long after climbing every mountain because I fell in love with her funniness, her border-collie-like enthusiasm for life, and the nearly aneurysm-inducing sex. Guys may be shallow, but we're not stupid. We understand how the human body ages, and most of us have a fairly good grasp on the difference between fantasy and reality. I've never expected Karel to always look like she did when we first met. I thought she was stunning the moment I laid eyes on her nine years ago, and I thought she was stunning the moment she walked through the door half an hour ago — for very different reasons.

With the exception of a few tattoos, the Karel I married eight years ago looked like an alluring, 26-year-old blank slate waiting to be filled with stories, aglow in the possibilities of youth. But I imagine that staring at a blank page for the rest of your life would get boring, which is why it's so hard for me to understand how she can pinch and grab and criticize the parts of her that tell the best stories of our life. The scars on her belly, the changing shape of her breasts, the lines that are starting to appear on her face — these aren't imperfections; they're what keep me wanting to find out what happens next.

In a relationship where Karel is usually the sensible party, it's ironic that I'm so much more practical about body image. I know a day of gluttony won't kill me, and that health and beauty have just as much to do with your heart and mind as they do with your body.

So, reader, if somewhere deep down a part of you has always wanted to join the menfolk on the living room floor after Thanksgiving dinner, go for it. We'll share the scotch, we'll make sure you have a view of the game — hell, Grumpers might even let you wield the remote. And your guy will be thrilled to have your hot body stretched out by his side.

- by Redbook contributing author Aaron Traister

Wow.

Wow, and sigh.  Because I know that Jim feels the same way about me that Aaron feels about his wife Karel.  In fact, not even 24 hours ago, I caught Jim watching me as I got dressed for church.  I glared at him; he questioned my reaction, stating that he was entitled to “admire my wife.”  I retorted that he wasn’t – at least not while I was hiking up pantyhose.  And this debate ensued, that he thinks I’m beautiful no matter what, and I rolled my eyes and walked into the closet, and I hear him mutter from the bathroom: “try to compliment you, and I just get shot down.”

And I cringed.  Because this Redbook article was fresh in my head (but apparently, not quite sunk in).  I did brush off his [sincere] compliment [due to my own insecurities].  Shame on me.

So….I decided to post it here on Writer ChicI figure it’ll keep the concept of “thinking like a guy” more front and center in my psyche, and maybe encourage someone else, too.

What do you think, wives?  Is this a struggle for you, too?  I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one…

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And my 2011 word is…

I spent most of New Year’s Eve in a quiet place in my head and heart.  With my in-laws back in Ohio, my little ones asleep in their beds (my two little littles, and my big little, too – love ya, honey!), and no “come, frolic and celebrate and be merry with us!” invites in sight, my inner night owl had the freedom to soar.

I stayed up until about 12:30 finishing a pseudo-satisfying novel, and then crawled into bed, where my brain (over stimulated, I think, by the book’s could-never-really-ever-happen plotline) raced with snapshots from 2010, and then, as often seems to be the case, continued its reflective journey back through 2009, and then the fall of 2008 – September 2008, precisely, which has come to be the jumping-off point for the season of life I find myself in.

And I wonder, not for the first time: If I’d have known what was on the other side of my Olive Garden birthday dinner – if I’d have known how my life was about to completely change – would I have gone?

But lets dig back even further…….

If I had to describe, in one word each, my “grown up” years, it might go something like this:

2005 – upheaval   One might think a more “positive” word would (should?) label the inaugural year of one’s marriage, but, well, if I’m being honest here, 2005 kicked my butt.  Maybe someday, I’ll elaborate in a separate post.

2006 – settled  Our first home, promotions at work, the decision to begin our family – it’s as if we found our stride as married individuals and as a couple.  It was a wonderful, drama-less year, the likes of which we have yet to see since.

2007 – maybe relinquish?  With my first miscarriage, and subsequent high-risk, touch-and-go pregnancy with Seth (which included taking a 6 month leave of absence from a job I loved), I had to learn to let go of a lot of things – things that, as it turns out, weren’t ever in my control to begin with.  This year of preparing to become a mom laid an unshakable foundation for how I have, and will continue to parent.

2008 – explore  Explore being a mother, explore my partner-now-also-parent husband, explore a promotion, explore the continued signs of my “broken” fertility with the loss of our twins, explore “cleaving” in action.

2009 – resilient  Were you reading The Writer Chic in 2009?  Roller. Coaster.  The move, the surprise + on the pregnancy test a mere 6 days after the move, the break-in, Duncan,  the diagnosis, the first half of Erin’s pregnancy….  Yea, I’d say “able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed; able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” pretty much sums up how I came out of 2009.

2010 – hollow   That’s hard to admit, especially after proudly toting around the “resilient” medal circa 2009.  And again, maybe I’ll elaborate in future posts.  But, honestly, 2010 for me was really an exercise in survival.  A whole lot of going through the motions, biting my tongue, stamping down overwhelming emotions (often sadness and feelings of inadequacy), playing peacemaker to everyone but myself.

Which brings me to 2011….

There are so many words I hope come out as contenders when it’s all said and done in 12 months, but the one floating to the top of my wish list is restored.

The chinks that stressful parenting and too many long hours at the office have allowed to appear in my marriage – Father, please restore.  The energy and drive that dissolved in the emotional eating wake of 5 pregnancies, becoming a SAHM, and the dissolution of my parent’s 28-year-marriage – Lord, please give me the grace,and willpower to allow You to restore.  The joy I spoke of so firmly only 2 short years ago – oh, how I long for it to be restored.

And you, reader?  What wish do you have for 2011?  I’d love for you to share…

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