Thursday, September 1, 2011

Mommy Guilt

I have honestly not been one to feel a lot of "mommy guilt" when I do things for myself (which then leads me to feel guilty for not feeling guilty) but I sure got a strong dose of it this afternoon. I was playing dinos with Kaityln when she started making her baby triceratops cry. I asked her why she was crying and she said that her mommy and daddy weebles were up in the treehouse and she missed them. I told her to call them down to her and so she did and then her poor baby triceratops started crying harder. She told me that her mommy and daddy told her no and they were too far away to get her.

A year ago this scenario would be pretty innocent play, but right now I know that it is a direct effect of our current situation. Brian is gone in California and I know that she misses him a lot and although I have been here with them all summer, she has spent several weekends with each set of grandparents away from me. The time I have spent away from them has been CRUCIAL to my sanity, however seeing its effects on my poor Little Nunnies breaks my heart. So now I have to decide if the space and time I need to decompress is worth Kait feeling like Mommy and Daddy are "too far away". Being a parent is full of difficult decisions.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What is wrong with your eyes?

One thing that I am determined for my girls to have and appreciate is confidence. They are going to be growing up in a time when there are a million negative influences on them, telling them what "beautiful, smart, successful" looks like. And it might not always look like them. I do not want them to grow up thinking they are anything less than they are and it is such an easy trap for girls to get stuck in. Pretty much every girl/woman I know has struggled with some sort of insecurity and the degree of that struggle can literally be life-threatening. This is the last thing I want for my wonderful girls, but I also know that instilling confidence in young girls is sometimes easier said than done.

I was blessed growing up in a family that CONSTANTLY told me how smart, pretty, funny, I was. In fact, I probably developed an OVER-confident view of myself because of all the praise I received. Turns out though, God put me in the right family because if I hadn't had that view of myself, what happened to me at 15 years old might have proven to be too much.

Not everyone knows this about me, but I have had some pretty serious thyroid issues since I was 15 years old. Typically thyroid problems don't begin until women are middle-aged, however I was one of those "lucky few" who developed problems early and will therefore deal with it my whole life. I was diagnosed with Graves' Disease just after my 16th birthday. It is an autoimmune disorder that basically stimulates thyroid production. (You can read more about it here.) In my case, I also developed Graves' opthalmopathy, which was what led me to go see a doctor in the first place. Basically, one of my eyes started to bulge out of my head and my eye-lids couldn't completely close around my eye. It was such a gradual change that it wasn't until it was VERY obvious that my mom decided it was worth a trip to the doctor. As soon as I was seen by our family physician he made a referral for an endocrinologist and highly recommended I make an appointment with my opthamologist as well. I spent the next month or so in and out of doctors offices trying to figure out the best way to deal with my condition. I was put on medication to regulate my thyroid levels, given a TON of lubricating eye drops and gels, and told I could not wear my contacts while my eyes were so bulged out. I had been wearing contacts since 6th grade, so being forced to wear glasses for an unknown amount of time was torture enough. I was given hope that EVENTUALLY they would be able to do surgery to try and fix my eyes, but until they were sure that they were not going to keep changing, I would have to wait. I spent my entire Junior year of high school wearing glasses that I hated, and fielding countless questions about "what is wrong with your eyes?" Unfortunately, that was the nicest way people would go about asking me. I had everything from young children to grown adults basically insult me and very rudely tell me that I looked weird, ugly, like a freak. No joke. I still can't believe that there are people in the world with so little tact that they would verbally attack a teenage girl. I could have easily gone into a depression and refused to go out into the world, for fear of what people would say or think of me, but I decided that I was stronger than that. I consciously decided that I would still go out with my friends, go to football games, and basically enjoy my life, despite what people had to say. It was not always easy, and I'm sure I did my fair share of crying and questioning why it was happening to me, but I am proud of myself for not stopping my life.

I was able to get one of my eye surgeries about 10 months after my diagnosis and could wear my contacts about 2 months after that. That surgery was pretty invasive and I had to wear a patch over my eye for 2 weeks. It did not completely fix the problem with my eyelids, so I had to have another surgery a couple years later so that my eyelids would finally completely close. After the second surgery I had both my eyelids stitched shut for a week. That was quite a weird experience.

Because of everything I had to go through with my eyes, I developed a very thick skin. I learned how strong I could be and how to have confidence even though I "looked like a freak." I am thankful for having gone through that experience because it really did make me a stronger, more confident person. Even though I am thankful for the lessons I learned, I truly hope my girls never have to go through such an extensive trial of self-discovery. Nobody wishes hardships upon their children, and I hope that they are able to have confidence and self-worth without having to go through something so hard. But if they do end up having some disfiguring condition, I pray that they are able to get through it and come out the other side, better, stronger people.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kaitlyn, nose, and a bunny...

It's a good thing that moms develop some kind of sixth sense about their children's cries otherwise, you might not realize that a sudden outburst of tears during nap time is the result of a 2 year old attempting to retrieve something that they have shoved up their nose. Good gravy it never ends!!!

I knew that this particular cry was not just a refusal to sleep and that there must be something physically wrong with her. I assumed poop. Because that is almost always what the problem is 30 minutes into nap time. Well, I was half right. There was a poopy diaper situation. However, the more pressing matter was the very small crayon my child decided to put up her nose. I traipsed up the stairs, wipes and diaper in hand, prepared to change and send back to bed, but as soon as I opened the door, she started yelling about her nose and a bunny. It did not take me long to understand what she was talking about. We recently bought the girls these cute little bunny crayons that they have both been carrying around with them for days. Well, key word being LITTLE. I have never had one of my children put something in their nose, but I guess there is a first time for everything!

 I had her tilt her head back and sure enough I could see the end of the crayon just out of reach. I tried having her blow as hard as she could while I held her other nostril closed. Nothing happened. So plan B, call our wonderful pediatric neighbor to come to our rescue. Yet again. He was over within 5 minutes and had it pulled out within 30 seconds. Crisis averted. I seriously have no idea what we would do without Dr. Wilhelm. I suppose we will find out soon enough what life is like without a trusty doctor just around the corner once we move.

Here is the bunny culprit complete with boogers on the crayon. Crazy child!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Uncertainty, Separation, Stress...

We finally got the official news we have been waiting and expecting, for months now, however the reality of the news is not quite what we had hoped for...

Brian got orders for Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado Springs and his report no later than date is October 14th which is pretty much what we were expecting. The part we were not exactly prepared for is that his training is going to be three months long (July-Sept) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. That is what is going to make for a very stressful period of transition for me, three small kids, two dogs, a cat and a turtle!!! Basically those three months will leave us homeless. We will not be able to stay in our house on base here, but I do not want to move to CO without Brian and without any type of support system. So our alternative is to go back home to Texas for those three months, which is awesome in theory, but in reality, is going to be CrAzY!

As any mom who has traveled with small kids knows, not having your own space, things, or routine, is a stressful situation to be in, especially when you have to do it husband-less. I am completely unsure of how we are getting down there, how much stuff we will be able to take, and where we will live once we are there.  All this uncertainty is especially frustrating because we are going to have a 2 month old baby to factor into this plan. Newborn babies are hard enough to deal with in the best, normal circumstances, and this is far from that.

I worry for my girls who will be old enough to understand how different things are going to be. And that this will be their first time away from Daddy for this long a time. I worry for Gregory not having a stable introduction into this world. I am sad for Brian being away from his family for so long and missing out on Gregory's baby-ness. And I am definitely worried about how I am going to handle this transition, especially with postpartum hormones to contend with. The only thing I can do is count on my faith that God has a plan for our family and that even in this stressful situation, He knows what He's doing. I usually have a pretty care-free attitude about things and handle change well, but even this feels beyond what I can handle. I would appreciate any prayers and advice for getting through this minimally scathed. I suppose this is just a taste of what military life can bring you. Uncertainty, separation, stress...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Weekly Activity Update

So far my plan has been working out so well and I couldn't be happier with the results. Not only are the girls enjoying have planned activities everyday, but I am loving the feeling that I am being productive everyday. Even the days the girls stray from the original intent of our activity, it is still something different and fun that they are doing/learning and that was part of the point.

This is an activity that I have done since before Kait was born, but they LOVE it and for most of winter, this is the only way for our NoDak kids to enjoy the snow. Usually they are content with just spoons and the snow, but this day they decided that their animals needed a snow adventure. This kept them entertained for almost 40 minutes, which is like a lifetime in the lives of two pre-schoolers!

I was just telling one of my friends that play-dough has been a "forbidden" activity in my house since Mack was a baby because she has ALWAYS put things in her mouth. It was not until recently that I have been able to let her play with it without her eating it. And sometimes she still does! But despite my reservations, I broke down and made some for them to play with. Needless to say they both loved it! 

We actually enjoyed a "warm" day last week so I decided to take advantage and do some good 'ole hop-scotching with the girls! Unfortunately, this fun outside day was followed by an entire week of sick kiddos which was an adventure all on its own! 

As most of you know, potty-training has been quite a struggle for us, but both girls have started getting the hang of it! We couldn't be prouder of them :) 

These foam abc's have driven Brian CRAZY since we got them so we had them packed away for a couple months. I decided that since I am trying to teach the girls the alphabet that it was time to bust them out, despite the mess. Turns out it was a GREAT idea! 

 Mackie's Artwork! She decided she wanted to do "story time" like at the library and then after we finished reading How Does a Dinosaur Say I Love You? she asked me what the craft was. So we decided to play with some of our dinosaur scrapbook paper and this is what Mack came up with.

This is one of my favorite activities so far. Mack already has her numbers 1-10 down, but Kait is still learning so this was a fun one, especially for her. I just used foam craft paper and some beads I bought from a friend for 50 cents!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Amazing Opportunity

Today I had an epiphany! Ok, that might be a little strong. It wasn't actually an epiphany since it is something that I have already realized but never fully appreciated. I have an amazing opportunity that a lot of moms don't have and I have not been taking full advantage of it. My family is blessed in the fact that I do not have to work and am able to stay home to raise my girls (and soon-to-be-boy). I always wanted to be a mom and actually be the one to raise my children, (I am in no way saying there is anything wrong with working moms, I just always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.) but I feel as though I have not been using this opportunity to its fullest. And I could give you a long list of excuses, the highest of which might sound something like "Winter in Minot is so long and there is only so much you can do inside" but as I just said: these are excuses.

Well I am going to make me new "hobby" geared towards what I already should be doing. Daily activities with the kids. There are too many days when we really don't do much of anything, and it is just plain laziness on my part. I have a lot of ideas of how I am going to implement my new plan and I think that the easiest way for me to accomplish this is through weekly lesson plans. Yes yes, this is the teacher part of me coming out, but I did get my elementary ed degree for a reason, people! I am going to *tentatively* plan out our week with at least one activity. We usually are out of the house in the morning, so many of these home-activities will be after nap time, but those days we happen to be home all day we might just have to up our activities to two a day. I definitely plan to take the majority of my teaching cues from the girls. If they don't seem interested in what the activity is, or start to take it a different direction, I will gladly follow their lead. I want this to be a pleasant and fun experience, while also being educational.

We don't actually have a lot of fun craft materials, so I think I am going to have to start collecting things like construction paper, paints, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, etc. I also need to start saving things from around the house that we can use, like toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, tissue boxes. I might have to ask Brian to add a "craft allowance" to our budget...

So if there are any must-do crafts that your kids love, (or you love), please pass along any ideas! I will do my best to document our activities and see how dedicated I can be to this new project! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


As some of you know, we recently acquired a cat, but as might not know, it was definitely against my wishes. We already have two dogs and I feel that they are more than enough, but Brian's heart is EXTRA large when it comes to stray, sad animals, so we brought home a cat. The girls IMMEDIATELY attached and started saying it was Gregory's kitty. (Mack calls Kasuka, Mackie-Kasuka, and Digo is Nuggie-Digo) So needless to say once the girls fell in love and declared him Gregory's there was no fighting against it.

I have managed to find a teeny place in my heart for this kitty (Dini) UNTIL our home began to smell like a giant litter box! Part of it is that my super-sonic-pregnancy nose can smell better than the average person, but part of it is that he has not been fixed and is reaching "maturity". Meaning he has felt the need to spray in random places. Luckily none of those places have been carpet, but the trick is finding out where he has been sneaking his potty breaks. We have made an appointment to get him fixed and that should help.

So instead of plunging into my hobby-finding quest, I spent the day deep cleaning my whole house. Vacuuming, steam-cleaning, mopping, bleaching the bathtub, (because yes, that is one of his favorite spots), and using an absurd amount of febreeze and air fresheners. Now the annoying thing of this is that I can't actually tell how much difference it has made. I need to leave the house for awhile and then come back in and smell. That will be the true test of my cleaning-frenzy. I will apologize ahead of time if my attack plan has not worked and you walk into my house and wonder why it smells like a cat. Hopefully this will NOT be the case anymore.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Talented Friends

So as I was looking through my facebook today, I realized how many talented friends I have. I have friends that can sew amazing things, take beautiful pictures, write eloquently, build furniture, make up kid-crafts, dance, knit, crochet, cook, bake. You name the hobby and I have at least one friend that does it and does it well. In realizing all my friends amazing talents/hobbies, I realized that I seem to be lacking any. At all. Don't get me wrong, I know how to knit, and cook, and can do some crafts (as long as I have some kind of instruction), but I haven't found something that I am passionate about. Something that I do and do well. The only real hobby that comes to mind is reading and I feel like that is somewhat of a "lame" hobby because nothing really comes out of it. There is nothing to show after I read a book, except that I could tell you about it.

Until this point in my life I felt like I didn't need a hobby because I was in college, and then I became a full-time mom, and it seemed as though there was no time/point. Lately however, I am starting to feel as though I should be doing more. I have three hours everyday during nap time when I could be doing something, but usually I eat, nap, read or watch tv. And granted, I am pregnant and my energy level is not where it normally is, but I still feel as though I could be doing more. So I have decided that I am on some kind of hobby-finding-quest. I would love to be able to find something that I enjoy and am good at. I will keep you updated on my progress :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

not going to die of scurvy...

So during the month of November I accepted and completed (for the most part) a "Thanksgiving Challenge" in which I would share (Facebook) things I was thankful for. One of my "thanks" was to my parents for raising me in a household where veggies and fruits were in every meal. At the time, I didn't truly appreciate the values they were instilling in me. Not that I fought against the veggies; I actually thoroughly enjoy my vegetables.
Well today I feel as though I fully accomplished one of my daily goals! My girls (and myself) ate our daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies! YES! I was quite proud of myself for getting them all in in one day. Problem is, is that it is one of my mommy hang-ups. I find myself stressing out on days when we are out of all our fresh fruit and veggies and the commissary (grocery store) is closed and I have to feed my kids (GASP) raisins! In the grand scheme of things, my kids are not going to die of scurvy if they don't eat an orange every day, but somehow I have it in my head that they NEED a certain amount of fruits and veggies or I am failing them somehow. I do realize that it is irrational to put SO much pressure on myself for their fruits and veggies, but I don't want to not think about it either. I guess there are always things that we, as moms, find to stress about. I am not the type of person to stress too much about things and usually just go-with-the-flow, but for some reason, when it comes to fruits and veggies, I am a stickler for that daily recommended amount! I do hope that it is something that my kids will appreciate (or at least tolerate) and implement in their own lives when mommy isn't around to enforce it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Family Updates

So I realize it has been awhile since I have documented the family's latest accomplishments/personality traits and habits. I am constantly amazed by my beautiful girls and how fast they are growing up. It is hard to believe that Kait is already 2 (and 2 months) Mack is 3 (and 6 months) Gregory will be here in 2 months, I will be 26 and Brian will be 30 this year!!! It just seems impossible, and yet, here we are!

She is a dinosaur LOVING little girl. Her dinosaur obsession has been going on for almost a year now and if anything just seems to be picking up speed. She is able to fully draw a t-rex, a "broccolisaurus", and a stegosaurus. All of which actually look like dinosaurs. It is pretty incredible. She has started to use scissors and glue on a regular basis. She can count to about 20, can sing her ABC's and can name several letters, knows all her basic colors (her favorite color is green like dinos), "reads" (memorized) about 6 books. Her favorite letter is "B for bear" which was her first obsession before dinosaurs came into her life. She sings songs that she makes up all the time, but especially when she is in bed. She loves to play outside in the snow and wishes we could go out more often. She likes to play library and dinosaur museum. (Yes those are games to her). She is starting to understand how board games work, but doesn't always have the patience for them. She asks to do her workbook almost everyday. Mostly because it has stickers and the girl loves stickers. She is still NOT potty trained which is probably our biggest challenge with her. She has great manners and I absolutely love that when she says thank you to people she is always very specific about what she is thankful for. (Ex. When leaving a friends house she said, "thank you for letting me read your dinosaur books!") She has a hard time at meal times because she eats like a bird, but she is not a picky eater which is good for us. She has been known to fight over broccoli and frozen peas with Kait and loves to eat any frozen veggies I pull out of the freezer. She goes to Awanas every sunday which is a Sunday School program offered by the base. She is happy-go-lucky and smiling about 85% of the day but her determination and independence make for some hard-headed moments with her. She makes collections everyday and most of the time they are of COMPLETELY random household items. Tags from teddy bears, clothespins, pieces of paper, etc. Anything that she gets a hold of has the potential to become another treasure to add to her collections. It's funny because she has pretty much always made these collections and I used to think that it was just an age thing and that every kid did that. Turns out, it's a Mack thing. I'm sure I could go on and on for awhile, but this pretty much covers the gist of all things Mack.

Kaitlyn is hilariously awesome. If she thinks that she is doing something naughty and you give her any kind of shocked/disapproving look, she cracks up and does it more. She loves to "steal noses" and then eats them. And laughs an evil little laugh. You think I would be making that up, but I am definitely not. She is OBSESSED with our new kitty, Dini. Even when the kitty swats at her and gives her scratches, she still goes back for more. She seems to be a bottomless pit when it comes to eating. We rarely have to tell her to eat more. She can count to ten and can count from 4-10 in spanish. She loves to watch Dora and is a little too intrigued by Swiper (the naughty fox). She can talk in relatively clear sentences now which is a relief to me because I was starting to worry that she wasn't using consonants when she talked. She loves music and sings to everything. She likes to play with legos, weebles, little people, and of course dinosaurs. In fact, she can name quite a few dinosaurs that most 2 year olds would not know. All because of her sister of course. She is very stubborn and is easily upset, but is becoming happier and happier everyday. She used to be a very grumpy baby, but has found that now that she can vocalize her wants/needs she doesn't have to be so upset all the time. She is pretty good at using the potty but we are still a ways from having her fully potty-trained. This is Kait in a nutshell.

I will have a better Gregory update after Wednesday. I was supposed to have an appointment last week but apparently pregnancy brain got the best of me and I missed it. As far as I can tell he is doing quite well. He is moving around A LOT and it is definitely not always comfortable. I have been having braxton hicks pretty regularly which are also NOT comfortable. So far this pregnancy has probably been the hardest physically, but compared to many women it is still pretty easy. I am currently 30 weeks along, which should mean 10 weeks left. This is when I will probably start to get nervous at every appointment though. When I was pregnant with both girls, they stopped growing between 34-36 weeks. No one knows why, and they obviously still came out healthy and with no medical problems, but it is still a nerve-wrecking thing when something is wrong and there isn't really anything you can do to fix it. I just know that I do not want to be induced again, but I guess I will just have to wait. And maybe this boy will be different and won't stop growing! That is the hope!

Brian is ready to find out what his next assignment will be (as am I) so we can start planning. There are so many things that happen and things to think about once you know where you will be going. He is also looking into starting his Master's degree. He has been looking into different programs that offer on-line courses. He says he doesn't want to actually go to class so that he isn't missing family time, which the girls and I appreciate. It is one of those things that he has to get done in order to become a Major in the Air Force though, so eventually we will have even less time with him once he has started that.

I actually don't know that I have a lot to say about just me. It's hard to talk about what *I'm* doing that isn't directly related to the rest of family. I guess that's what it is to be a mom and a wife. Pretty much all of the things I am routinely involved in (MOPS, playgroup/playdates) all revolve around the fact that I have these kiddos. Even just being pregnant means that I am not just me right now. Which might be why I really dislike pregnancy. I have a very clear sense of who I am and having someone else directly connected to me is slightly disconcerting. It throws me off. And I know most women love being pregnant and think it is just so amazing, but I just don't. Sorry. I don't. Besides all that though, I am ready for Minot summer, however we do seem to be having a crazy warm front lately and a lot of snow is melting, which I am loving! Being able to be outside makes all of our lives easier, so here's hoping for an early spring and early summer!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Breaking Point

So I've been meaning to write this blog for about a month and a half now because that is approximately how long ago it happened.

This is one of those ridiculous moments in parenting when you realize how SEVERELY outnumbered you are and that sometimes you have to go to extreme measures to win certain battles. Our battle had become nighttime. Not bedtime necessarily because my girls have always been pretty agreeable about going to bed. No, instead the battle would start hours after we had gotten them in bed and thought they were sound asleep. Then we would hear them. It would start off innocently enough. Some girly giggles. Some random thumps and bumps. Eventually these seemingly innocent noises would turn into sounds of something more serious. Sounds of naughtiness! And so it would become apparent that some parental intervention was necessary if we had any intention of getting a full nights sleep. Well, it turned out that our girls had discovered the fun of opening up dresser drawers and throwing clothes all over the room. This behavior went on EVERY night and EVERY nap for about two weeks. We tried all kinds of discipline tricks and punishments. Nothing was stopping these two. This all came to a breaking point one night when we hit an EXTREME wall.

We had managed to get them to go to sleep WITHOUT any dresser drawers being opened and emptied and we thought it to be a small miracle. We were wrong. Around 2:30 AM we started hearing those "innocent sounds of fun" however you know that anything making them that happy at 2:30 AM is anything but innocent. So grudgingly we both get up out of bed to see what is making them squeal with delight. First red flag that things are not going to end well is that we hear their door open before we have even made it out of our bedroom. As we open our door we see that they are heading for the stairs using the light FROM THEIR BEDROOM. When did Mack get tall enough to turn on her lights?!?! Not only that, but Kaitlyn is COMPLETELY NAKED! Immediately our patience is gone, and we start herding them back into their room to find what can only be called a true disaster zone. They have opened EVERY SINGLE DRAWER and emptied them throughout their room. Kait has stripped off her clothes and diaper (despite having access to many many clothes) and PEED on the carpet (and if you know how housing is about carpet cleanliness you can imagine how much my blood pressure spiked). We were horrified that our sweet little angles had become these demon children in one night! Somehow we managed to clean up their messes, at least as best we could at 2 in the morning, put Kaitlyn in the crib in the baby's room, and took away all of their stuffed animals which is the equivalent of torture in this house.

Exhausted, we return to our sanctuary after a seemingly endless battle and then it all starts to hit me. We are about to have three of these. Three children that will run our lives unless we can find a way to control certain situations, like these. The main thought that kept scrolling through my head was, what if something like this happens when Brian isn't home??? How can I be expected to care for a newborn AND deal with two out of control pre-schoolers when my husband is gone as often as he is?! So after a brief meltdown, we came up with our solution. It had to be drastic since their actions were CLEARLY drastic.

We decided that the first thing to go would be their dresser. It needed to be moved out of their room because they obviously could not handle the temptation it presented every time they were left alone in their room. Next we decided that they didn't really need a lightbulb. If Mack thought she could turn the lights on in the middle of the night to play, we would just take that option away altogether. Third problem to handle was Kait's propensity towards nakedness. This we decided to tackle with button onesies, and safety pinned footy jammies. Once we had a clear plan I felt significantly better and was able to sleep. I was comforted that between the two of us, we could come up with creative ways to avoid problems like these without having to resort to extreme punishments directed at our children.