Saturday, September 29, 2012

Circling The Wagons

Well I should have known better than to type the words "things are easy!"  I totally jinxed myself with that last lovey-dovey post.  Oops.

I spent all day Wednesday soaking up every last ounce of baby I could get my hands on!  I stared at Margot all morning long.  We swapped smiles and coos, she grabbed my fingers and my hair and batted at my nose.  It was glorious.  I didn't let her leave my side all day.  I was too afraid I might miss something important.  I took her to see my Nana and we were sitting outside, enjoying the beautiful fall sunshine when.....I got THE CALL.

Sylvia had a fever. 

She wasn't allowed to go to school on Thursday.

You have got to be kidding me.

I left Nan sitting outside on the patio and raced to the daycare to pick up my poor, sick baby.  I made a flurry of phone calls to secure my sub for ONE MORE DAY and to let my principal know how sorry I was that I wouldn't be at school on my first day back from maternity leave!  I repeated over and over, "I promise, I'm not making this up!"  Because, truth be told, I was so relieved to have an excuse to stay home for one more day.  I was awarded one more day!!

Well, sweet Sylvia made me work hard for that one extra day.  The poor little thing was an absolute mess!  Wednesday night, her fever was so high that she was getting loopy.  She couldn't talk to us and her eyes were all glazed over.  I was scared.  I called the doctor who told me to keep trying to get her to eat and drink, keep an eye on her through the night, and to bring her in for an appointment in the morning.  Sylvain finally got her to talk and to smile and to start acting a little more normal.  Then, there was a beautiful thunderstorm outside and that really helped lift her spirits! 

The doctor assured us that she didn't have anything serious (thank goodness!) but her fever was still high on Thursday evening, so I was starting to panic about school.  I couldn't miss another day.  Sylvain decided to stay home with the girls (I didn't want to send Margot to day care because Sylvia wasn't going and Sylvain wouldn't be down the hall.  I know, it's crazy, but I just couldn't do it).  Friday would have turned out fine, except Margot is so darn FUSSY about taking a bottle!  She has never taken one from Sylvain, so I decided to go in to school for the morning and come home at lunch time. 

My students were great.  They are such a wonderful group and I can't wait to really get into the swing of things with them this year.  But I won't lie - I was glad to be home by noon, nursing my little Muffin and snuggling with my Nugget.  Both of those girls needed me - they needed US.  Sylvia's fever was gone, but everything hurt on Friday afternoon.  She'd say, "I hurt, Mommy!" and I'd say, "What hurts, honey?" and she'd scream, "IIIII hurt!"  Poor little thing.  She didn't want to get off the couch, she wanted Mommy or Daddy at her side constantly, and she watched "Tarzan" all the way through, from beginning to end!  It took both of us to take care of both of them, and that's when I realized that we made the right choice.  We had to circle the wagons.  We had to lock the doors, ignore the phone calls, and cancel all of our plans.  We had to focus on the demands and needs of two tiny girls who needed us and we had to constantly support each other when we were about to LOSE IT.  Thanks to that poor, sick toddler, and that silly, stubborn baby, I think I can confidently say that yesterday was the hardest day of my parenting life.  It was no fun. 

Today, everyone is better.  Margot is eating from a bottle.  Sylvia is playing and running and sleeping and negotiating like normal.  I went in to my classroom this morning and got ready for Monday.  Sylvain worked on some house projects and now he's at the UK game.  I put both girls to bed without any fuss from anybody, so I can tell we're back on track!  Phew!

So, Monday morning this wagon train will haul out.  Everyone will go where they're supposed to go and it will be a welcome change of routine!  We'll all be exhausted and confused, and The Girls will be needy, but that's okay.  We can always circle the wagons again in a couple months and get ourselves straightened out!   

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Taking a Minute to Breathe

Is there anything more delightful than a three month old's squishy-faced smile?  Or two sleeping babies in your house?  (I know, Sylvia's not a baby, but...but...YES SHE IS!)  We are totally sitting in a sweet spot right now and I feel like every single second of life at our house is a gift and a blessing beyond measure, beyond anything I could have ever hoped or wished for.  I know these moments come and go.  I know that we're on the up swing of a raging cycle that's about to take a major turn when I go back to work, but for today, things are sweet and things are easy and things are gooooood.

One of Sylvia's favorite phrases lately has been "I'm so haaaaappy!"  She has some other less savory phrases that I'd rather not remember forever, but this one is my current favorite.  Tonight, we had to run to my Mom's house to look for a lost library book and she was playing with a game that her Mamie gave her for her birthday.  When I took her out of her car seat I said, "You really like your game, don't you?"  She said in a very mature and grown up way, "Yeah!  I do!  It makes me so haaaappy!" 

So many things that Sylvia says sound like they came right out of my own mouth.  She's a tiny little recorder, playing back all of my words verbatum, which is usually funny but sometimes...not so much.  Good example: She runs up to Margot and sings, "Hi there, my sweet girrrrrl!  Are you talking to me?  I hear you!"  And she sounds EXACTLY like me, which is totally weird.  Bad example: She got mad at me for trying to change her diaper (the nerve, right?) and she curtly demanded, "Go away Mommy." Then, when I didn't go away, she COUNTED at me!  She said, "One......" and I thought this is not happening, my child is not giving me the one-two-three count, then she said louder, "TWO.......!" and by that time I was done changing her diaper, thank goodness.  I don't even want to know what would happen if that girl ever reaches three.  Just like she's never had to find out what happens when I reach three!  He, he...the count works on everybody.

Margot has become a total flirt lately.  She's madly in love with her little cow, just like Sylvia was in love with her duckie.  I don't know what it is about those vibrating toys, but my girls are suckers for them!  She sat up in her bumbo seat for the first time today (I know, they've been recalled, but I had it on the floor and I was right next to her so...don't judge!).  She's finally starting to understand how to "play" with someone or something.  She doesn't hate tummy time as much as she used to.  She's becoming more and more FUN every day....and now I have to go back to work.  Boooo Hooo!!!  Oh well.  I have a day off in October.  Then before I know it, it will be Thanksgiving and Christmas...and then SUMMER!!!  I'm counting down the days already!

Here are some pictures from the last couple weeks.  We've been busy!

Our neighbor's backyard, along the creek.  A great place to explore this time of year!

Sylvia "reads" to Margot every morning.  It's totally adorable and makes me want to ugly cry.

Baby Claire made a new friend at Mom and Jay's bonfire.

Roasting marshmallows with our buddy, Charlie.

This one makes me warm and fuzzy inside.  Playing on the hammock, bellies full of s'mores, laughing at each other for no good reason.  Love.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Three Months

Dear Margot,

You are a three month old little lady!  To be honest, I've been dying for the three month point to arrive.  I knew it would find you calmer and happier than you were a month ago.  Sure enough, you're one happy baby!  You're finally starting to figure out how to get yourself to sleep, although sometimes you still need a little help from us.  You are smiling and cooing and showing us all kinds of sweet baby love these days!  We're all in heaven.

Our next hurdle to tackle is that darn bottle!  Listen, babe.  I have to go back to work next week, so it really would be in your best interest for you to start drinking from a bottle.  I know that you hate it.  You hate every bottle we've tried to give you.  A tiny, secret little part of me loves that you're so attached to me and that you prefer to nurse.  It gives me a little bit of satisfaction to know that at least we're getting that right! The rest of me is really trying to care about the bottle and get you to take it.

While we're on the subject, let's talk about school.  We have five more days together before Mama goes back to work.  I was thinking about that last night while I was putting you to bed and it breaks my heart to know that you'll be spending most of your day with someone else and coming home to me at night.  Our bedtime nursing sessions are my favorite, but I'm sure they'll become even sweeter and longer once school starts. 

But here's the thing.  I know you're teeny tiny, and I know that TONS of mothers and babies go through this and I know you'll be just FINE.  So, just in case you're not fine and you can't really tell me (because you're teeny tiny, remember?), I want to write down lots of words of encouragement and love for you (or maybe for me?) in this letter.  Here it goes:

We love you.  Daddy's going to take you and Sylvia to school every morning, and I'll stand in the driveway and wave goodbye as my entire heart goes driving away in one car.  I'll probably cry when you leave, but then I'll be super busy and the rest of my day will fly by.  YOU will not cry as you leave, you'll hopefully be asleep or close to it.  You might start to cry when you get to school, and you wake up and you realize that you've never been here before and you haven't seen your Mama in a while.  I didn't leave you.  Don't freak out.  I'm just in another place for a little while and I'll see you again soon.  Daddy is right down the hall and Sylvia will be with you ALL DAY!  You'll get to see her smiling face whenever you get sad or scared.  So please be okay.  Please know that the folks taking care of you are sweet and kind and wonderful, even if they're not Mama.  Please know that I will think about you every single second of every single day and I'll send the ladies at school LOTS of text messages asking about you!  Since they are awesome, they'll send me pictures.  Hopefully ones of you smiling.  It's going to be okay.  We're all going to be okay.  We love you.

Also, one more thing about the fact that you've been alive for three months - Sylvia.  I think the two of you already have some secret you're not telling me.  I can see it in your face when you look at her.  Your face already says, "I know!  Should we tell her?  No?  Okay...hehe."  That's cool.  I'm glad you guys are connecting and bonding and building the world's greatest relationship.  I can't think of a better person for you to love most right now.  But let me remind you that she tried to drag you across the floor by your feet, so you might not want to trust her too much, at least not while she's a two-year-old.  Someday the two of you can help each other make good choices, but for now, watch your back.  She's sneaky!

All of my love, sweet Muffin.  You're the greatest baby in the history of the world, ever!  Good luck at school.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I Should Have Said to Evan

Thanks to my youngest brother's visit last weekend, our Labor Day festivities were extra special!  Evan has been in the Army for about a year now, and he's been stationed in Tacoma, Washington since the spring.  He is a well-trained infantryman, and from what I can gather, he has one of the Army's most dangerous jobs.  He goes in first.  No fear, all guts.  I was very afraid that when he came home he'd be all hard and scary.  But he wasn't.  He was....grown up, confident, and eager - just all around mature.  It was weird to see him that way, because he's always been so little to me, but now he's larger than life. 

We had the luxury of spending every day with him during his long weekend leave.  After my parents picked him up from the airport, they brought him straight to our house!  He met Margot for the first time and played with Sylvia, who must have seemed twice as big as the last time he saw her.  We all met for dinner at Dad's house on Friday, then again on Saturday with the extended family and lots of friends.  On Sunday, we had some people over to our house to watch the UK game (what a bust, it's gonna be a long season) and on Monday we went to the airport to say goodbye.  I feel so fortunate to have spent so much time with him, but this weekend seemed to just slip right by us and I found myself clinging to him extra tightly on Monday afternoon.  I made sure to pay attention to his shoulders when we hugged.  They're so much higher now than they ever used to be.  And I put my hand on the back of his head, trying so hard to say all the things I thought I'd be able to say, but only getting out the words, "I love you so much," and "Be careful."

You see, Monday was extra hard because this fall, he'll begin his first (and I pray ONLY) tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Writing those words sends chills up my spine.  I'm so excited for him and so, so scared.  I know it's what he wants.  I know he is well trained.  I know that nine months will fly by.  Speaking of a nine month deployment - I think the only thing scarier than waiting for a baby to be born would be waiting for your baby brother to come back.  All this time, I've been so glad that our troops are leaving that place, but as soon as I heard he was going to AFGHANISTAN I wanted to shout "WAIT!!!!!!!  Everybody go BAAAAACK!  Get back over there!  Evan's on his way now, so every single soldier who ever left needs to go back and make it safer for my little brother, okay?  Thanks."  The rational side of my brain knows that he can take care of himself, but the crazy emotional side of my brain thinks, "How in the world will he survive without any of us there to take care of him?"

On Friday night, he and I were pushing Sylvia in the swing in the backyard.  We were talking about his deployment and he said that when he gets back from Afghanistan, he plans to spend most of his time in that backyard.  I think that's a really good plan.  I wanted to tell him, "Look at Sylvia's face.  Look at how happy and content she is to sit in a swing and stare at the trees and feel the breeze in her hair.  When you get homesick, and you will; when things get tough, and they will; when war gets messy, and it most certainly will; just close your eyes and think about pushing Sylvia on a pink plastic swing in the backyard.  Listen for the crickets and the cat climbing the swing set.  Swat the mosquitoes away from your skin and let your eyes land on that little girl's smile.  Know that what you are doing is for her.  For me.  For all of us here who love you so, so much.  You'll be there and we'll be here, but you can feel us and we can feel you.  When your nine months are over, I expect to find you here.  Ready to push a swing and drink a beer and chat with your sister."  That's what I should have said.  But I think all I said was, "We'll miss you, Ev." And that's the truth, too. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Nosy Neighbors

Look who's been hanging out in our back yard every night! 

A mama and her baby.  I wish I got a pick a few months ago when the baby was teeny.  Alas, I was busy with my own teeny baby.
 The mama isn't scared of us AT ALL.  In fact, I'm way more afraid of her than she is of me.  I could probably walk right up to her and touch her if I wanted to, but when I get as close as this, I get visions of being trampled to death by a mad mama deer and I don't get any closer.

I think they are beautiful and I want to make them my pets, but Sylvain?  He hates them because they ate everything in our garden.  I say, if a neighbor came to our door and wanted all of our green beans and lettuce, we would happily share, so I don't know what the big deal is!