Thursday, November 8, 2012

So You Want to Know How Things are Going?

The other day a friend I haven't seen in a while said he was glad I was blogging again. I think he was being facetious.

I used to think blogging was hard when I had one baby. Psh. Way wrong.

More than two months since my last post. I hang my head in shame.

Part of the reason why I haven't blogged, and probably the biggest reason, is that I think my brain has died. I'm in this constant fog of poor memory and fragmented thoughts and sentences. I tried reading a book a few weeks ago. I reread the same pages over and over and finally gave up because I had no idea what I was reading. It wasn't even a hard book. I also have pregnancy induced dyslexia. I read words as another closely spelled word, i.e. "peace" was actually "beach". I missed a church meeting this week because I've forgotten how to read calendars. An attorney friend of mine is convinced I will at some point work for her part time. I keep telling her that the academic part of my brain that enabled me to do my awesome paralegal-ing is gone. I worry it may be permanent.

In my defense, I have two babies under 16 months. Two babies. Not two children. Babies. We put our trash out the other day and the trash people brought it back to the house and dumped it out on the front porch because we'd reached the weekly limit of rank diapers. [Okay that's a lie but don't think it hasn't occurred to me it might actually happen.]

I am the heaviest, most out of shape I have ever been in my life. If I tried to play basketball right now, I would die. Luckily my pre-Holden-pregnancy jeans still fit. But I could maybe fit a leg in my pre-Sydney-pregnancy jeans. Some overly cheery OB doc said that your body is its healthiest right after you have a baby. Bahaha! Where'd she get her degree?!?!

From my favorite TV show: "You joined a gym??" "Yeah." "When??" "After I had Rory to lose the baby weight." "Did you go?" "Heck no. I was WAY too fat."

I've told Jericho on a number of occasions that he shouldn't expect anything substantial for dinner until Holden starts sleeping through the night. We have a somewhat working system for nighttime Holden duty. The first plan was for me to take duty on the nights during the week when Jericho works and he would take the weekends. After the third night of doing this, I woke in the morning to Jericho saying goodbye as he left for work, crying before I could even say anything. I was practically sleep crying. I'd reached a new area of ways to cry.

We now share the nights. Consecutive nights is what brings on the psychosis. Sometimes we do every other night. Sometimes we each take one in the same night. Sometimes the plan falls apart during the night because one of us has become immune to the sounds of the waking babies. One of us being me. Seriously. Some mornings I have to ask Jericho if/when Holden woke up. Holden sleeps five feet from my head.

Holden eats all.the.time. Sometimes during the day he eats almost every hour. I'm glad I decided not to nurse because it would have killed me. At his two-month check-up, he weighed in at one pound shy of doubling his birth weight. The average time for babies to do this is 6 months. I worry what his teen years will be like.

I've managed to venture out of the house with both babies. My first destination: Target. It was awesomely therapeutic. I made it out to the van with two happy babies - Syd in the cart, Holden in the Bjorn- looking around for my Mom Award. My next destination: Harris Teeter. I have a Wal-Mart and a Lowe's Foods two seconds from my house and the Harris Teeter is twenty minutes in an entirely different city. The twenty minute drive was so worth being at my favorite grocery store and, the real reason I made the drive, to get Sydney to fall asleep. The cashier asked me how old my babies were. One month and 14 months. She said I had my hands full. Why, yes, I do. Thanks for noticing. She didn't even ask me if I needed help out. She called over a nice man named Lee and he wheeled Sydney and my groceries to the mom-mobile.

[Aside: Do you hate the comments about having your hands full? Sometimes I want to respond with things like- "Actually, not really. I'm practically a superhero at this whole mom thing and it's total cake. I'm thinking of going on fertility for the next pregnancy so I can have triplets. I'm that good at this."]

This is my world. Jericho asks what I have planned for the day. Oh ya know, feed babies, change diapers, and if I have time, I'll eat something, maybe go to the bathroom a couple times, and if I can swing it, shower.

My world may often bring me to tears or cause me to drive around my town for half an hour listening to the soothing sounds of Harry Potter while both babies chill out. But every day I get to see these little faces. Sydney is a nut that constantly makes me laugh at her nuttiness. And Holden is the most angelic little stud. He smiles and sleeps and eats and smiles. I know every parent thinks it but I know my babies are the best.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Birth Story/Timeline

I'm on the fence when it comes to birth stories. Do people really care? Should I post it anyway so I have the record somewhere? I usually just skim through others' because they typically contain lots and lots of details. Some of which kind of gross me out.

Sydney's birth story is more or less in my personal journal so I never put it on the blog. Perhaps we'll give it a go for Holden's story since it's much simpler.

In reality, I could probably sum up my delivery with Holden in about 2 sentences.

We'll stretch it out a little more for dramatic effect.

10:00 am-        Weekly OB check. No dilating. No nothing. No signs of early delivery.
7:00 pm-          Parents over for dinner. "I wouldn't mind having the baby early just so long as it doesn't happen this week and keep Jericho from going to Rob's wedding." [Rob=Jericho's BFF and he's in the wedding].
12:20 am-        Woke up yet again to discomfort and random contractions. [Been happening for a couple of weeks].
1:00 am-          Go online and re-read "real" versus "fake" contractions. Concluded still fell into "fake" classification. Cursed at fake contractions for not letting me sleep.
1:00-3:00 am-  Awake... time for cereal. Remember after I poured the milk that there's ice cream in the freezer. Blast!
3:30-                Sydney wakes up. Cause that's what she does now. Feed and play with Sydney. Put her back to sleep.
4:00-                Call midwife on call with explanation of mystery contractions. "Take a bath." "A what?"
4:15-                Take bath for 45 minutes. Woke up Jericho to update and explain why I was taking a bath at 4:00 in the morning. Read book. Timed contractions. Amazed I was able to fit in the bathtub with minimal water displacement.
5:00-                Contractions even out. Call midwife. Leave message.
5:00-7:00-        No call back from midwife. Contractions further apart and inconsistent but get more painful and like I could pee fire. Half-heartedly start packing my hospital bag, tell Jericho to do the same.
7:00-                Call back midwife.
7:00-9:00-        No call back. Put friend on alert to watch Sydney for the day. Put on makeup in preparation for gross post-delivery pictures.
10:00-              Call midwife. Talk to her this time. Tells me to come into the hospital just to get things checked out [since office is closed due to holiday] and since my contractions are so... whatever.
12:00-              Get to hospital. Check in. Meet with midwife. Checks my progress [Most painful part of the entire delivery. Imagine getting a tooth pulled via your sphincter]. Turns out I walked in there at a 5. "Good. If you'd said I was only at like a 1 and sent me home, I would have been so pissed." Smile at the comments of my obvious high pain tolerance. 
1:30-                Get epidural [b/c I'm not that tough]. Broke water. Dilated to 7/8. Let me sleep some with my happy, happy epidural. Jericho runs home to get all the stuff we didn't pack. Frown at my ugly toes that never got their pre-delivery pedicure.
4:00-                Check back. Dilated to 10. Wait it out a little because baby is still sitting high. "Page me when you start feeling pressure."
5:00-                Can't feel a single thing. Check to make sure baby hasn't come out without me knowing.
5:30ish-           Check back again. Baby time. "Push right here." "Where?" Laugh because still can't feel anything and have no idea if I'm pushing. "Am I doing anything??" Push as best as I can figure and then we have a baby. Done and done.

And that's pretty much it. The worst parts all happened before I even got to the hospital. I don't know how many times Jericho has pointed out how different this delivery was from Sydney's. I've had more complicated dental procedures. Clearly this baby knew it was time and got here without any fuss. Plus it also helped that my epidural was still there for the actual tough stuff this time. My first go round it didn't make any sense to me why people got epidurals because I still felt everything when it came time for the actual delivery. Mad props to all those that go sans-epidural the whole time.

Things were so different for this delivery. Not just the logistics but the overall emotions and atmosphere with this baby were so different. Nobody cried [except for Holden]. Nobody was leaving in a couple of days. Nobody was strung out on anxiety and lack of sleep and hormones. Nobody hesitated to send the baby to the nursery for the night. Nobody forgot to bring the Harry Potter DVDs.

This little boy was ready to get here. He started out without us knowing. And he pushed his way into this world two weeks early with no notice. My friend said of her two youngest that are closer in age that maybe in the pre-existence they were so close that the younger one couldn't wait to join the other here on earth. What a sweet thought. I hope that's the case with Sydney and Holden. I hope this means they'll be the best of friends and never ever fight and spend their days holding hands and singing Carpenters songs.

We're bottle feeding again and I'm totally fine with it. Nursing is beautiful and wonderful and instinctual for some and for some it produces panic attacks. Sydney was bottle-fed and she's a rockstar and so will Holden.

Welcome to our world Baby Holden! We love him so much already [even though he was way squishy newborn alien-like when he was fresh out].

And do we like the name Holden? I've concluded that I don't identify my babies with a name until they're more than a week old. Holden is still just "baby", "little guy", "buddy", "honey".

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Having a Boy

When I was pregnant with Sydney, before we knew she'd be a girl, I was weighing out the pros and cons of each gender. One of my biggest fears about having a girl was raising a teenage girl. There's a lot of drama-rama that goes on in the mind of a teen girl. I know. I was one. I worry about her being 12 and wanting to dress like she's 25. I worry about her listening to Justin Bieber-type blah. I worry about stupid boys disrespecting her. I worry about mean girls bullying her. I worry about her developing enough self-confidence and self-respect and knowing that the girls who put out at 16 are not cool and happy.

When I found out that this current pending baby is a boy, the worrying shifted, and if anything, got worse. I thought for sure, having a boy would be less worrisome. But raising a boy is huge, especially a teenage boy that has to learn how to be a man and all this stuff I don't know how to do. Luckily that's where husbands come in.

With a girl, I worry about protecting her and teaching her self worth and how to be feminine and kick-A at the same time. With a boy, I worry about him becoming a good, quality man in this world full of really, really crappy stuff. I remember a friend of my brother's telling me once the reason why parents worry more about their girls than their boys was that girls tend to get into trouble where the boys are the ones that start the trouble.

I'm a girl so I know how a girl's mind works. With a boy, I have no idea how his mind works, but I know what it's like to be the observer of boys and how it looks like their mind works. [Yes, you should bathe every day]. Therefore, I have some fears on how I raise my boy.

Here is my boy-specific wishlist.

...wants to go to college and have a career.

...shakes people's hands and looks them in the eye.

...knows how to talk to people face to face and not solely via electronic devices.

...finds enjoyment in going to church and learning the gospel and won't sleep through seminary.

...if skinny jeans for boys are still in style in 14 years, he will NOT wear them. not going to think bodily functions are the epitome of humor. Or will at least grow out of it by the time he's 12.

...finds the right friends and stands up for what is right.
...have hair like Patrick Dempsey.
...asks girls out on dates. And will open doors for them, regardless of how anti-feminist this will no doubt be by the time he's dating. And will talk to his date's parents with respect.

...never spends countless hours playing video games.

...gets a job. Any job. Saves money.
Do any of you mothers of boys have similar fears? One thing I'm grateful for is that my boy will grow up with a sister. I think boys with sisters learn valuable lessons on how to treat women. I have known plenty of high-quality guys growing up. Perhaps I should do a Q&A with their mamas to get some tips. Not in the least should be from my own mother and mother-in-law, since two of the best men I've ever known are my older brother and my awesome husband.
But times are changing. Things are getting a little ickier out there.
In Sydney's first days on this earth, I whispered all my wishes for her while I held her and fed her, i.e. "please don't hate me when you're 14". Now I'll do the same for my son in just a few weeks. He'll be new in this world, hearing his mom whispering pleas to take baths when he's smelly and not burp at the dinner table. That's not too unreasonable is it? What do you whisper to your sleeping babies?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stuff and Things

Jericho came home on July 4th. Since then my computer usage has dropped significantly. Partially because I hang out with husband and baby all the time. Partially because my computer chair doesn't cater well to pregnant ladies. Now that things have settled some and I hijacked Jericho's laptop and can therefore blog in my comfy bed, I've vowed to stop neglecting the blog. There may be a lot of posts very suddenly. My apologies if you get sick of me.

Like I mentioned, husband is home. He's been home nearly two months. He's back to work. And out of town. How mean is that? He's out of town for a few days each week but then we get him work-free for almost four straight days. I could complain but I'm very grateful he has a good job. And that I get him at home more days than he's away.

We got a van. It looks like this.

We are a van family now. It's a little weird. I'm having slight identity issues. I'm not just a soon-to-be mother of two but am also a van-mom. I'm 30 and I drive a minivan and almost have two kids. When did I grow up?

I have about 4 weeks left until baby boy gets here. It's the homestretch. A very uncomfortable homestretch. I'm not sure if I'm going to make it. Can you put yourself on bed rest? Does that make me a wimp? I'm so hot. All you people complaining about the summer heat, I don't want to hear it. Try being a walking oven in this heat. I sweat in air conditioning. No more summer pregnancies for me.

I used to think that having days spent in stretchy pants without hair or make-up done would make me sad. Turns out I'm fine with it.

Boy names are hard. I have this fear that any name we give him will be stolen by the girls during his lifetime thanks to people like Jessica Simpson.

I turned 30 last week and it's hardly phased me. Since it was a day of the week that Jericho was home, we got to go out for breakfast AND dinner. We took Sydney to Cracker Barrel for the first time. Baby loved her some grits and biscuits and gravy. I also convinced Jericho that since I'm now in my thirties, my birthday present should be decent skin care products to keep me looking like the young trophy wife that I am.

Parenting with a second parent in the house is revolutionary. I highly recommend it. Baby gets a parent that she can play with on the floor. I get to nap and take longer showers and without little hands yanking open the curtain. Go to the bathroom by myself with the door closed. I talk about things that need to get done and they happen. The floor gets vacuumed. Groceries and laundry are put away faster. Having a second parent is awesome but having a second parent that is Jericho is magnificent. I know what parenting-life is like without him and now know what it's like with him and am completely spoiled by the latter.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Year of Sydney

On July 29th, my wonderful baby turned one. 

Physical stats: 19 lbs, 6 oz; 28.5 inches tall; eye lashes- .5 inches
Favorite foods: yogurt, cheese, scrambled eggs, anything someone else is eating that she's not
Teeth: at least nine. accurate number is unknown due to tendency to bite any fingers while attempting to check
Walking: a lot, not all the time, but an impressive amount. she's a rockstar.
Fears: vacuum cleaner, blender, popcorn popper
Loves: crawling up the stairs, progressively putting everything in our house on the floor, cell phones, keys, baths, being the center of attention
Life aspirations: to take flight from the back of the couch, unroll the entire roll of toilet paper, own a cell phone, take up residence inside the dishwasher

One year ago, I had a new baby, said goodbye to my husband, and was staying at my parents' house while I adjusted to my new world. I reminisced with Jericho about those first nights in the hospital with our new baby. He remembers me crying a lot. I told him more about what it was like for me that first week that he left- the hardest week of my life. This year has been challenging, educational, dramatic, lonely, depressing, character-building, and precious. I'm still amazed that it's done. I owe so much to so many people for helping me get through it.

In the past year, I've spent roughly 97% of my time with Sydney. We've done everything together. I took her shopping and consulted her on purchases. We watched TV and I taught her the greatness of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. I took care of her every night when she woke up. Changed nearly every diaper. Given her 10 million hugs and kisses. Took naps with her on the couch. Cried with her. Fed her. Sang her songs with my winning singing voice. Snuggled and cuddled and nurtured her.

With all the priceless time I was able to spend with her over her first year of life, Jericho came home and after two days, she already liked him better. I think he's been sneaking her ice cream when I'm not around.

[how she gives "kisses"]

While this year was crazy difficult, the one least affected by it was Sydney and that's what we wanted. She will never know life without her dad. She'll never know how hard life was for her parents during her first year. All she'll know from this point forward is our happy little complete family.

Happy first birthday to my crazy silly baby. I'm continually amazed at how much joy she brings to so many.

Speaking of joy, here are some snippets of Sydney devouring her birthday cupcake. She made us proud.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

It's Over

We're done.
11 months and 4 days. Done.
Padabure. Padabure. Kick ball change. Jazz hands. Jazz hands. Jiggity Jig.
If I ever ran longer than 2 miles at once, I'd eloquently relate this to the end of a race and how there's all that overwhelming distance facing you at the beginning and all those painful times you don't think you're ever, ever going to finish. But I don't run so I'm just assuming it's something like that. 
As with all things, there is always an end. 
And we finally got there. 

The end.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Up With The Times

The other night I experienced a pretty good scare. My child is in the phase where she eats everything. EVERYTHING. It is one of her stronger dog-like attributes. One of her favorite things to gnaw on is my phone. As can be seen here:

She was happily gnawing on my phone when it rang and when I answered it, I could hardly hear the person on the other line [Jennifer Kennedy, what up!]. I panicked. Had she finally done serious damage to my phone? I realized she had been slobbering all over the ear piece and the sound seemed to be permanently altered. I took it apart and let it dry out for a while. It eventually started working properly again but during that brief window when I thought I'd need a new phone, I started doing some serious thinking.

Is now, finally, the time, that I may actually consider getting an iPhone?

I couldn't believe what I was thinking! It felt dirty and wrong! Yes, that does seem a bit drastic but it may help to read this post I wrote three years ago. You can just skim it. I won't be mad. The applicable part isn't until the end.

Done? Okay. Back to the issue at hand. As you can see, for years I have lived in open rebellion to the iPhone and any other smart phone. I don't see the purpose of being THAT connected to the internet world. I hate seeing families eating dinner where one or more individuals are glued to a smart phone. I hate seeing a mom stick a video playing on the phone into their toddler's face to quiet them down. I hate seeing pictures of otherwise mundane restaurant food jazzed up with instagram.

I am a bit of a Luddite. That is apparent in my typical aversion to the smart phone world. I like interacting with people. I like not being yoked to an electronic devise. I like doing things for myself and not relying on the conveniences of some smarty pants phone.

But the other day at the pool, my friend's baby was fussy and not falling asleep [she was in a car seat, not the pool] and she pulled out her iPhone, pulled up a Baby Einstein video, played it near the baby and the baby was out. Dude. That was pretty cool. Maybe not everything is so evil about having an iPhone...

Many of you reading this have iPhones. It's becoming the norm. So I turn to you to help me with my pros and cons. My biggest con other than the fact I'll feel like a sell-out and conformist is the money. I have a hard time increasing my monthly cell phone bill that significantly. Which, by the way, I haven't run this past the husband yet so this may all be a moot point because I'm sure he'll poo poo the idea from the moment I utter the word "iPhone".

Nonetheless, I will be ready for a new phone soon. There seems to be a decent amount of pros to having an iPhone. For one, when I do get a new phone, it'll be the same price if not cheaper than a non-smart phone.

So what should I do? What are the pros? Do they outweigh the cons? Did anyone else have a hard time with the smart phone transition? Or am I just being dramatic?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Things I'm Learning 2.0

Second pregnancy is easier and harder than first pregnancy. Harder because all the not-so-happy things come earlier and more noticeably, i.e. nausea, aches and pains, big belly. Easier because the time goes by much quicker. I'm already a couple weeks shy of 3rd trimester. Wha?!?

I have no idea how I'm going to continue carrying Sydney in her car seat as we both keep getting bigger. Maybe I'll prop her up on my growing belly.

I'm glad I'm showing more. Having a baby under one year old while looking only slightly pregnant made it look like I'm really holding on to the baby weight.

People continue to work to understand my current baby + new pregnancy situation. I met with a Doc at my OB that I haven't seen since the night before Sydney's delivery. He seemed confused why I was there again. "I think I remember you. But it was for a different baby??" "Yes. Back this soon."

The number one thing people tell you when they find out you'll have babies 14 months apart: they'll be the BEST of friends!! I haven't figured out if this is comforting enough to get me through the first year. [btw, one of the reasons I'm glad I'm having a boy - teenage girls 14 months apart would have killed me].

Not sitting at a desk all day is doing wonders for fat-feet syndrome.

I'm getting better at picking things up with my toes.

I think I lack the gene that allows me to find nearly any pregnancy photos cute and not incredibly cheesy. Or creepy. But those creepy ones I think we can all agree on.

The missing aforementioned gene may be a ruse for the fact that I will never, ever be a cute, photographable pregnant girl.

Ok, I do have a heart. I think this is freaking adorable.
Maybe I'll cave and try to do this with Sydney, if she doesn't eat the chalkboard first.


Friday, June 1, 2012

One Month

One month from today, Jericho *could* be home. The *plan* is to be in the states at the end of June and back in North Carolina by July 1st. This has been the *schedule* for some time and is holding *true*.

That means that one month from today, I *could* be hugging my husband. He *may* be holding his baby girl for the first time in six months. We *may* be a complete in-person family again.

In one month, I *may* officially end my tenure as a single parent, burning my single mom card forever. I *could* happily begin sharing dish duty again, laundry duty, cleaning duty, and baby duty. [My house won't really be any cleaner because I've done a pretty stellar job keeping it clean on my own. Respect.]

In one month, my house *might* not be so quiet anymore, my bed not so cold. I *may* be getting to talk to another adult every day. I *may* start annoying Jericho because I won't shut up.

One more month and I'll *probably* stop crying so much [although I'll still be pregnant so this might not change much]. I *may* not be eating my meals alone. I *could* start getting foot rubs again. I *might* be holding someone's hand and belonging with someone.

Only one more month... possibly, could be true, crossing our fingers, holding our breaths, maybe, just maybe, and my husband comes home. And home for good. Forever. Never to leave again.

I can make it. Right? 

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Envelope Please

One of the bummers about this pregnancy was that Jericho wouldn't be here for the gender ultrasound. I thought about waiting for him to come home in July and we'd go for another ultrasound so we could both be there to have the tech tell us what we're having but July is WAY too long to wait. So I tried to come up with a plan to make it seem like he's still involved in the big news.

And so I did this.

This is the super secret gender envelope. On May 2nd, I went to my doc and told the tech that I didn't want her to tell me the gender but then handed her an envelope and note card and told her to write it down. She knows that my husband is overseas so I told her my little plan and she went along with it beautifully. She never let it slip and when all the picture taking was done, she turned away and put the printed gender pictures in the envelope and never let it slip. She sealed it up and handed it over.

Then I put it in a "Happy Anniversary" card and put it in the mail to Afghanistan that day.

Jericho was then to get my letter with its secret contents, wait for a time when we could talk on Skype and open it for the first time. That way he would be the first person to know the gender and then get to share it with me. Men don't really get to have the same kind of pregnancy excitement as us women, and they're probably fine with that, but I figured this plan would at least make ME feel more like he gets to be as excited.

You probably don't really care about what I did and why so here's the real reason for the post:

What? You can't read what's typed on the ultrasound picture?

In teeny little letters is typed "I'm a BOY!!!"

So there ya go. We're having a boy!!! Since the beginning, Jericho has only referred to new baby in male pronouns because he was convinced it would be a boy so why refer to him as anything else. Because we both were preferring a boy for this baby, I was so sure that would mean this would be another girl. But nope! We get our boy. One girl. One boy. Next we just need a dog and picket fence and we'll have our All-American suburban family.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What It's Like

Today is my anniversary. I have been married for three years. It feels so short but yet it's hard to remember what it was like before Jericho. This anniversary I am celebrating alone. Well, technically I celebrated with the ultrasound tech this morning at my OB, but that doesn't really count.

Not counting the two little breaks when I was able to see Jericho, we have been apart for nine months. When he first left, those first few weeks, I finally understood what melodramatic people meant when they say their heart is breaking. I physically hurt. No one could ask me about Jericho. I couldn't talk about him. I fell asleep to an open laptop with a picture of us on the screen. I clutched my phone like a lifeline, waiting for it to ring or beep with some sort of connection to him. I eventually got over the shock of him being gone but I always had this feeling. Like the odd, slightly awkward feeling of having left for the day without putting on my watch, sensing something that should be there but wasn't.

I don't really know yet what it's like to take care of children with a husband so I can't really contrast what it's like to do it by myself. I can tell you what it's like to be on permanent diaper duty or feeding or rocking baby to sleep duty. Or wishing I had someone else to carry her car seat. Or clean the bottles for the thousandth time. I can tell you what it's like to keep track of continuous tearless days because I consider them an accomplishment.

I recently read a story where a woman described how her father taught her to swim as a young child. He picked her up and threw her into the middle of the pool. She gasped and choked and flailed in the water until he took her out. She caught her breath and he did it again. And again. Until she started treading water and keeping herself afloat. Some of you more independent, less needy people may not relate to this comparison but this is what it's often like to parent by yourself. Those moments of breaking take away all patience and calm and fill you with a need to cling to someone else, that the only way out of this is with the support that only a spouse can give. The moments come in waves. But eventually, your instincts of fear and need turn into ones of self-sufficiency and survival.

Jericho not being here as an extra set of hands to help take care of the baby and our house is only part of what it's like. Sure the logistics of being a single parent are a pain in the tush but it's doable. People can bring me meals or watch Sydney or mow my lawn and it's awesomely helpful. But nothing touches what it's like to be without my husband.

First of all, as great as my friends are, you can't kiss me. I'm sorry. No manner of babysitting or warm dinners make me forget what it's like to be kissed. Don't take for granted how magical it is to kiss your spouse. If they're there, go kiss them. Right now.

And while you're over there, talk to them for a bit. While emails and Skype are lovely luxuries to ease the pain of distance, having your spouse to talk to daily cannot be matched. The fact that I can't pick up the phone whenever I want and call Jericho to talk me through things or even more important, to be my confidant and support, to talk me down from my ledges, to hug me and scratch my back, is an adjustment that I still haven't made. It makes me convinced I always want to hold the presence of my spouse in my life with the highest regard.

I don't get to talk to Jericho daily anymore. The days I do get to talk to him, things are easier. Sure it makes me happy but it's more than that. I feel normal and complete. I'm Drew Barrymore on the days I meet Adam Sandler, singing my Beach Boys songs.

It's hard not to feel lonely when my house still feels like Jericho lives in it but I prefer it that way. I've purposely left some things the same as when he was last here. I haven't kept all his dirty clothes hanging out or anything. That's just weird. But there are still two toothbrushes in our holder. His dirty, outside shoes are still in the garage from the last time he wore them. I still sleep on my side of the bed and haven't morphed into sleeping diagonally with 20 pillows like I did in my single days.

I have a husband. I really do. He's just not here. And I'm grateful for every day that it still affects me.

I have a little under three months until Jericho comes home. Do you know what that's like? Have you ever seen Sense and Sensibility? There is this part at the end when Eleanor, who recently thought Edward, the love of her life, got married to someone else. Edward comes to visit and reveals that he is, in fact, NOT married, and Eleanor collapses into a chair with these choking tears and gasps because she can no longer contain her excitement to find out that he's not married and is there to propose to her. That is what it's like to think about my husband coming home.

Happy three years. May we never, ever, ever, ever be apart again. Ever.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Nine Months In, Nine Months Out

The progress from month eight to month nine has been huge. The change from immobile to mobile baby feels like a lifetime of difference. I sometimes long for the days when my baby didn't move. And didn't have permanent bruises from the learning processes.

I'm only adding a few pictures because not many are needed to illustrate what life is like now that I have a mobile baby.

Most of the video I take is for Jericho but thought I'd share this one with you. It makes me laugh. This is what crawling Sydney is like. The first crawling was in a perimeter of about 5 feet. Then slowly got bigger and is now limited only by walls and doors and mommy. It's hard to take pictures of her if I sit on the floor, because once she sees me with the camera, this is what happens. If I didn't know she was making a dash for the camera, I'd be afraid she was coming to eat my face.

Nine-month coolness: 
~rolling from back to belly (finally)
~still eats like a champ
~can grab finger foods and gets them in her mouth about 75% of the time
~roughly understands the concept of a sippy cup
~lost all interest in her toys and only has eyes for everything she's not supposed to
~crawling up a storm
~pulling up and standing
~slow shimmy around the ottoman while standing/holding on
~4 visible teeth
~occasionally lets me hold her while she goes to sleep. this is huge
~people's shock when they hear how loud such a sweet-looking baby can be

Smith Family Fun Fact: there is a picture of me in this same chair at about the same age. If I had a scanner, I'd have a super cutesy side-by-side comparison of us. We actually don't look that much alike.

Don't you wish you was as cool as me.

Oh and I am now 20 weeks pregnant. The half-way mark! More or less. And ya know what else? I get my gender ultrasound this week. Care to venture a guess?? But I'm not finding out the gender that exact day. I'll explain later. I hope my little plan works out because it should be cool. Time sure does go by faster with the 2nd baby. If I wasn't already growing out of my clothes, I'd probably completely forget that I'm pregnant.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The New Guy

When people find out I have a little baby and I'm doing it by myself right now, they say things [in soft, sweet, "bless yur heart" tones], like "Wow. I don't know how you do it", or "And you're doing so WELL." 

For one, NOT doing it isn't really an option. Doing it well? Doing it with patience and a happy-go-lucky grin on my face? That's just what I try to do in public.

I used to work in downtown Raleigh at its height of demo and construction. One thing I learned while working so close to the construction scene was how they handle the new guy situation [I actually have not confirmed this so I could very well be completely wrong]. One day while walking to lunch, I saw a group of workers with one guy wearing a different safety vest than the others. It said something like "danger" or "trainee" or "novice" or "new" on the back. I didn't ask them about it but concluded that on a construction site, it's important to note who the new guy is. Like the vest is saying, "I'm new so if you see me with a nail gun or blow torch, be on the ready because it is totally expected that I may injure you during my learning process but I'm new, so either help me out or cut me some slack."

I sometimes think moms need a vest. Mine would be a "new-mom-in-training" vest. Others could say, "potty training" or "teenager driving" or "24/7 colic". That way when you see a mom break into tears because they're out of her favorite shampoo, people will just know and say a little silent prayer or buy them an ice cream cone instead of thinking they're crazy. Or like with me, walking around with my one-socked baby or third day in a row without washing my hair, all judgements will be set aside.

The other day I was standing outside a restaurant with baby Sydney because she was being frustrating and noisy. [Most of the time when I take her outside places, it's just as much to calm me down so we aren't both being spastic in public.] A lady passed by and said with a smile, "I remember those days." It was a kind little boost. I didn't even need a vest.

Another benefit to wearing a mom vest is so the need for help can be implied. Even at this, my most neediest point in life ever, I don't know how to ask for help or what to ask for. People offer all the time and I honestly don't have answers for them. It's hard to say, "Just follow me around all day and do my dishes and put my clean clothes away and spray my face with water and hand me a towel." But, if I had a snazzy vest, I wouldn't have to come up with stuff. We could all know that when we see someone's respective mom vest to just snap into action. Because, I don't know about you, but I don't normally go about my day thinking up stuff for people to do for me.

As is true with most, I would love for my outward behavior to always proclaim, "I got this", but I have a feeling that's not going to happen for a while. Once my new-baby vest is gone, I'll be donning a toddler + 2nd-new-baby vest and I'll feel like the newby all over again. And yes, I'll be needing an ice cream cone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Eight Months in Pictures

March 29th, Sydney turned eight months old. I can no longer take my standard aerial shot to show how much Sydney has grown in the past month. She's too big and she's way too squirmy. A lot has happened with this little monkey in one month. I've taken a lot of pictures to send to Jericho because there are just so many great little things she's doing. So now I'm putting them on the blog because this is what I do now.

She smiles all the time but when she's not, those faces are just as great. The girl will stare you DOWN. 

We've discovered the swings. They're pretty much awesome. 
Her focus kills me. She's totally a tag girl. And remote controls. And my cell phone. Who needs toys?? And couldn't you just eat those cheeks!!!!
And I get my picture taken every now and then. At least my hair looks nice. As much as I love my house, my parents' house still makes for a better picture backdrop.
See. She smiles. 
This is what happens when she learns how to move on her own. I came back in the room and this was definitely not where she started. The drawstring on the shorts was far too tempting to stay where she was.
She's still a bit small for her big girl high chair. So she insists on sitting like this while waiting for food.
My sweet little baby got her first cold and subsequent ear infection last week. I thought this was good cause for making up her sick bed in mama's bed and letting her watch TV with me. Plus we only have one box of tissues and since I was still sick too, we had to share the tissues and humidifier. She also now thinks the bulb snot sucker is the devil. 
Playing in her corral of pillows. It's not to break her fall but to keep the little toy balls contained since she likes to roll them as far away as possible and mama gets tired of hunting them down.
And check me out! I grew things! I wish I had a picture of all the tulips in bloom. I planted 75 last fall. My yard was a-popping with color. [Pay no attention to my still-dormant grass.]

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I CAN Write Things

Jericho recently asked me if I had anything to blog about. "Nope." I got nothing. This year has been complete creative rubbish. If I didn't have my baby, I don't think I'd be blogging at all. I feel about blogging like I do about giving presents. I don't want to do it unless it's something totally stellar. If I write something that I'm not proud of or, even worse, something that people aren't going to read, I won't write it. But I have now resolved to make a greater effort to blog more, regardless of my worries. Think harder. Be more creative. Observe more. Write. Write. Write. 

Someone once told me I could find a story to tell about anything. I laughed and doubted his assessment. He then said "No seriously. Fire hydrants. Go." And then I proceeded to tell him a story about a series of paintings I did in art class in elementary school of a fire hydrant in various environmental stages. And that the reason I picked the fire hydrant as my stationary subject for the paintings was because of stories my mom told of growing up in downtown Philadelphia and playing in the hydrants during the summers. "See", he said. Fine.

I thought maybe I should take this route whenever I'm stuck on something to write about. Since I don't have a someone to give me random topics, I thought I'd consult this:

This is a Journal Jar. I think I got it as Mia Maid from one of my teachers. It's filled with little topics to write about if you're getting started with journal writing and need things to write about. The quote on top is from Spencer W. Kimball: "Get a notebook... a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels will quote from it for eternity." Bah! None of mine from ages 12-18 will be quoted unless the angels are sitting around for some comic relief, slapping their knees going, "Oh oh, hold on, here's a great one from the night of her first kiss."

I thought I'd write about the first slip of paper I pulled out but it said "Tell everything you did today." And MAN, would that be boring. So I kept pulling until I found one blog-worthy. I managed to find two that were nicely related.

What were/are your fears about getting married? 
What were/are your expectations about getting married? 

I'm going to answer this as best I can in past-Kelley thoughts since now that I've been married a whopping 3 years, my fears have changed and are fairly non-existent and are things like, "My marriage will end if I forget to pay the bills while Jericho is away." 

My greatest fear as a teen about marriage was that it would never happen because no boy would like me because all my friends at boyfriends and I didn't and I didn't have cute hair or cute clothes and I'd have to settle for some loser guy who couldn't do any better. My greatest fear as a young adult was that I wouldn't be able to find someone with whom to fall in love. I loved boys. I loved dating and kissing. A LOT. But I never had the love bug or the commitment bug. For a WHILE. It took a lengthy relationship and a very, very patient Jericho to realize I could do it. 

My young-Kelley expectations about marriage probably involved freakishly similar tastes in all things in life. Agreeing on all subjects. Laughing boisterously at the same jokes. Playing tennis on Saturdays in matching white outfits. Giddily in love every second of our lives. Once I got into the real-life dating world, my expectations were mainly centered on happiness. I wanted whatever it took to be happy forever. 

In one of our super final of all final conversations about getting married, I told Jericho I would marry him on three conditions. 1- He would always find a way to provide for our family. Always. 2- He would take me to Europe. 3- I can't for the life of me remember what the third one was. It was probably something like- Always tell me I'm drop dead gorgeous no matter how fat I get when I'm pregnant.

In all honesty, my fears/expectations changed once I decided to marry Jericho. One of the reasons I wanted to marry him was that I never feared anything. I felt so incredibly secure with what our future would be, our family, everything. It's one of the reasons this time apart hasn't been nearly as tough as it could be. Sure there are still "what ifs" in the back of my mind and I know things will come up as we go through life together. But part of my decision-making process to marry Jericho was realizing that the whole fears/expectations thing about marriage diminishes greatly when you are with the right person.

The End. I'll stop dropping my still-somewhat-newlywed pearls of marriage wisdom on you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Counting to Five

"Well, fear's sort of an odd thing. When I was in residency my first solo procedure was a spinal surgery on a sixteen year old kid, a girl. And at the end, after thirteen hours, I was closing her up and I, I accidentally ripped her dural sac, shredded the base of the spine where all the nerves come together, membrane as thin as tissue. And so it ripped open and the nerves just spilled out of her like angel hair pasta, spinal fluid flowing out of her and I... and the terror was just so crazy. So real. And I knew I had to deal with it. So I just made a choice. I'd let the fear in, let it take over, let it do its thing, but only for five seconds, that's all I was going to give it. So I started to count: one, two, three, four, five. Then it was gone. I went back to work, sewed her up and she was fine." ~ Dr. Jack Shepherd

Lately the question I get asked by nearly everyone is "Do you know when Jericho's coming home?"

Up until recently that question has had no definitive answer. For the past two months, Jericho and all his people have been strung along without any real goal to why they were still in Kuwait. They had little real work to do. They were forming various sports leagues and Jericho was getting a lot of gym time in [which I also benefit from so no complaining here] but none were clear on their purpose in continuing to be overseas. Morale was low. People were anxious to go home. They were told amorphous future plans with assumed possibilities that they'd come home early instead of keeping on with the bogusness of the past two months.

I usually spared people the long answer to the question and said, "We don't know but worst case scenario will be June/July but the way things are going now, they should be coming home early, probably in the spring some time."

As of this past Friday, I have a real answer. After two months of dilly dally, they decided to send his platoon to Afghanistan for 90 days and will be coming home for good in July. Jericho estimates a return date of July 24. So far, this seems like a bona fide plan, at least the most bona fide plan thus far, but Jericho assures me that "this is the army", meaning they could change their minds at will. Being in self-preservation mode, I'm now assuming this is the real plan.

I tried not to bank on the idea of him coming home early. I assumed I'd be doing the taxes, taking myself out to dinner for our anniversary, going to my baby gender ultrasound by myself. 

No matter how much I logically didn't assume he'd be here, I still found myself majorly ticked that coming home early was off the table. He'll be gone for another five months. Five more months of prego aloneness. Five more months of Sydney aloneness. On Friday, the day of the news, I had very heavy boots. Every time I looked at Sydney and her awesomeness. Every time I ate a meal by myself. Every time Sydney cried and fussed and I didn't think my arms could handle it anymore. I kept focusing on this giant spotlight of loneliness and fatigue shining on me for all the world to see.

And I was miserable. That night, after Sydney went to bed and I finally got a shower and I painted my toenails the happiest pinkest color I have, I let myself cry. I cried it all out. And then I was done. I fancy myself pretty heroic. I'm competitive and egotistical. And to feel like I'm falling down without a grip on any kind of safety rail is foreign and uncomfortable. It's why I don't ski.

So that Saturday I woke up feeling a million and one times more fantastic. I can't tell you exactly why. I just knew that I was done being afraid and pitiful. I counted to five, let in all my fear and sadness and self-pity, and then it was over.

On Jericho's end, they obviously would much rather be coming home, but going to Afghanistan to have real work to do is infinitely better than what they've doing in Kuwait. So for that, I'm happy. I'm happy that he'll be feeling useful and getting to drive big fun trucks around. I'm happy that now he'll be busy, the time will go by faster for him. I'm happy we'll still be able to communicate. I'm happy that even though he's going to where the real war is, he's in a super-duper armored truck that he assures me "is meant to be blown up and keep on going."

My last pregnancy, the countdown to birth sadly coincided with Jericho leaving. This time, the birth countdown [kind of] coincides with Jericho coming home. Look at that! I'm going to make a construction paper chain for my weeks of pregnancy/when Jericho comes home. Anyone else who has a countdown, feel free to join me in my juvenile construction paper excitement.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Sometimes you plan for things in life and everything turns out pretty great.

Sometimes you don't plan for things and everything still turns our pretty okay.

And sometimes you plan for things and Heavenly Father says, "Nope. Sorry. I like my plan better."

And you end up with things like this:

In case it's not crystal clear, that's a baby. And it's not Sydney.

At the beginning of this year, I planned to lose 150 pounds. I planned on fitting into pre-pregnancy clothes. I planned to go to the beach this summer in a normal bathing suit. I planned to run some sort of race with my sister. I planned to start tanning again [don't judge me]. I planned on playing more sports. I planned on doing some awesome activities for Jericho's and my 30th birthday celebrations, to include paintballing, bouncy castles, and zip lines. I planned to backpack through Europe. I planned to go on a cross country roller coaster tour. [Maybe those last two weren't actual plans.]

But instead this year, I will be planning for baby #2, due September 17, 2012. A mere 14 months after baby #1.

So here we go. We are super excited. A little overwhelmed. But still excited. I asked Sydney if she was ready to be a big sister and she seemed pretty cool with it. I'm 11 weeks along and so far, it's been a bit of a bumpy ride. My pregnancy with Sydney was way easy. This one so far has been a little harder. Not much, but enough that I want to whine and complain a lot and have someone scratch my back and make me food that doesn't make me nauseous. And since I'm still playing the single mom thing, I whine and complain to Sydney which doesn't provide as effective results. She usually just looks up at me [since I tend to make weirdo noises when I cry. I am not a graceful crier] and smiles or blows raspberries. She still takes it pretty easy on me and that's enough.

I am currently in great awe of mothers who are pregnant while caring for multiple children. All I want to do is sleep and eat toast and ice cream but my agenda alone no longer matters. The beauty of it is that it helps keep my mind off the tough stuff. I get to play with my happy baby all day and marvel at how on earth I can have another child as cool as this one. Which I will, no doubt.

I'll be honest, I'm a little hesitant to tell people about this pregnancy, like it conveys a certain amount of irresponsibility. Who has babies 14 months apart!? Ya know who? Teen moms that haven't figured out birth control. [But at least my babies will have the same father...] And I feel like people are holding back jokes. Come on. Be inappropriate. I can take it. I need the laughs.

It'll be so cliche when Jericho comes home [date TBD]. I'll be hugging my military husband at the airport with one baby on my hip and a giant tummy evidence of the one on the way. Perhaps the new baby's initials should be R & R.

And just for fun, here is the video I sent to the family to announce the pregnancy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinco (y Seis) de Sydney

Sydney turned five months while Jericho was here. This picture was maybe taken roughly around the five-month mark. She's clearly just as flummoxed as I am.

Now, my baby is six months old. Crazazee!

[she's getting harder to capture in chill-mode]

The following is info you may choose to read or not read. I understand that my child is not nearly as fascinating to you as she is to me. [Although she should be dangit.]

Favorite toys: hoodie drawstrings, mama's face, tags, her own socks, people's hands, her pacifier, a little orange monkey we named "monkey"
Favorite song: Intro to Bones or anything Beach Boys [I sort of make some of this stuff up]
Favorite activities: spitting, licking anything close to her face, squealing [and LOUDLY], yammering on and on about who knows what, making out with the inside of her carseat, picking her legs up and slamming them down on the couch/bed/crib [I can hear it downstairs when she's going to sleep]
New tricks: can kind of sit up on her own, is eating solid foods like a champ, takes our her pacifier and puts it back the right way and proclaims "Tada!"
Things that make her laugh: blowing raspberries on her tummy, tickling under her arms or her thighs, various other noises that mom does that will not be explained here b/c they are slightly embarrassing
Mom's new favorite thing: Sydney wakes up in the morning by squealing and blowing serious raspberries. Even if she's slightly fussing, the moment I walk over to her crib and say "hi" she breaks into wiggles and smiles. I'm encouraging Jericho to develop the same response.
Other continued favorite thing: she sleeps 11-12 hours straight every night. I continue to prance around in festive jubilation every morning.
Mom's least favorite new thing: Her preferred way to fall asleep is laying down instead of cradled by her mama. Sniff.
Other least favorite thing: she grunts/growls. Sometimes with enough gusto and volume that when out in public, people are surprised to see this strange noise is coming from a pretty little six-month-old girl and not a rabid beast that wandered into the local Target. 

And a few pictures so that Jericho doesn't think the thousands of pictures of our baby on the computer aren't for naught.

The first person in our family to cover herself and the floor AND the wall with sweet potatoes was in fact, NOT Sydney. [Also, my baby has a slightly wonky ear, her right one. You can see it in this photo. We thought she'd grow out of it but appears she isn't. I now dub it her Yoda ear.]

Can she be this chill all the time? Pretty please?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What We Were Up To

I sorta checked out from the Blogging/Internet world for the past couple of weeks. Why? Well. My husband was in town for two weeks. And it was glorious. We spent Christmas with both of our families at our house, blessed the baby on New Year's Day, dined with family and friends, had a date night, treated Jericho to much missed food luxuries from the States, and overall had the best lazy-days stay-cation ever. Jericho said this break was all about Sydney, which is what my life is all the time anyway, so it wasn't very tough to accommodate.

Forgive me, but I'm about to bust out some serious picture-ness. 

On the same scarf-buying Christmas present wavelength

I can't even tell you how precious it was to see her playing with Jericho. I have about five thousand pictures of just the two of them.

Helping daddy with taxes.
The girl loves her some TV. I think this one is while watching Top Gear. She likes the sounds the cars make. [So we say]

And some forced pretty ones...
I think I have a problem
I really couldn't stop...

I used a borrowed camera for this and some others. I'm considering "forgetting" to give it back.

That hat may be the best $5 I ever spent. [H&M for those curious]

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