Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Remembering to Love My Baby

This afternoon Baby Charlie and I stopped for a visit at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  They had been out of town, and therefore had not seen Charlie for about a week.  As my mom took Charlie in her arms to hold him, she immediately started smothering him in kisses, telling him how much she loved him.

In that moment, I realized that sometime, somehow in the past few weeks, I had forgotten to love my baby.  My heart sank, and I was filled with guilt.  How could a mother forget to love her own child?

Let me explain.

When Jackson was born, I spent hours upon hours just holding him.  Looking at his face, kissing his squishy cheek, listening to him breathe, trying to make him smile, whispering soft "I love you's" into his ear.  I remember one day just holding him and sobbing, overwhelmed at the feeling of finally being a mother, realizing it was the best feeling in the world.  Up until about two months ago, he fell asleep in my arms almost every single night.  And he really was a perfect baby - hardly ever cried, cute as can be, just a happy baby.

I went back to full-time teaching when he was seven weeks old, so all I wanted to do when I got home from work was hold and love my baby boy.  Granted, so much baby-holding wreaked havoc on my arm, shoulder and back, but holding him was the absolute best.  All of that holding created a very close bond between mother and son.   School was stressful, of course, and there was always something going on, but it never seemed to interrupt my time with Jackson.  Loving him was easy because it was just him and me (oh, and Mitchell!).

Six weeks ago, Charlie joined our family, and we could not be more obsessed with him.  He is almost an exact carbon copy of Jackson when he was a newborn, so apparently we can only make ridiculously cute babies.  I probably spend just as much time holding Charlie as I did Jackson, but there are some major differences in our lives now vs. our lives then.

First of all, two years ago I only had the one child to keep alive.  Now, with two of them, I feel like at least half my day is spent being screamed/cried at by one if not both of my children.  Constant headache.  I fully admit my 2-year old watches an inordinate amount of TV (Netflix - a blessing or a curse?).  If not for Thomas & Friends and Dinotrux, I would never be able to survive a day with these boys.

Speaking of crying, Charlie is having a hard time figuring out the sleeping thing.  I have not had more than 3 hours of sleep at a time in the past month and a half (I think I've gotten just a couple 4-hour sleeps in there somewhere).  I am exhausted.  I feel like I shuffle around the house like a zombie most of the time.  If I leave the house without at least a little mascara on, I feel sorry for anyone I have to interact with.  I am so tired of being tired.

We moved into our new home about 3 months ago, and I am still living in chaos.  I don't have a closet yet (it's a work in progress), so all of my clothes are still in suitcases.  I have access to about 15% of my wardrobe, and it's the 15% that is maternity clothes, t-shirts and yoga pants.  We are currently in the beginning stages of remodeling the boys' bathroom (it was demo-ed in the initial remodel phase and has just been waiting for a little attention).  The study was the dumping ground for everything that didn't have a home when we were unpacking boxes, and not much has changed or improved in the last two months.  Chaos.  And I don't function very well in chaos.

Also, C-section recovery.

In the middle of all this, I hold Charlie.  Practically all day, it feels like.  What I forgot though, and what I just today realized, is that I should be loving my baby, not just holding him.

Despite all of the stress, the exhaustion, the guilt, the worries, the pain - I need to just love him.

Even when he is crying and fussing and screaming.
Even when I am tired out of my mind.
Even when I am trying to make dinner and he is wrapped around me.
Even when the house is a complete disaster.
Even when I haven't been able to get any online work done.
Even when he is spitting up all over me.
Even when he refuses to sleep in his crib.

I should be looking at his face, kissing his squishy cheek, listening to him breathe, trying to make him smile, whispering soft "I love you's" into his ear.

And I do.  I do love my Charlie Boy.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Recap

I have about half a dozen different blog posts in draft form (including Charlie's birth story), but for some reason the only thing I want to write about right now is the day I have just had.

First, Charlie's night sleeping is getting a little better (4 hour stretches, whoo-hoo!), but every morning at about 6:00 AM, I struggle with the decision to stay awake and get the day started (shower, clothes, food), or to collapse in my bed and try to catch up on a couple of hours of sleep that I missed out on during the previous night.  Getting a start on the day almost never wins, and this morning was no exception.

Once I actually did get out of bed (at who-knows-o'clock), I decided that today was the day I was going to start exercising again.  And by exercising, I mean simply walking around the block.  What would have taken a normal person (ie: a person not currently adjusting to life with a toddler and a newborn) about 30 minutes to accomplish took me no less than 4 hours to do: wash face, brush teeth, put in contacts; pull hair up into non-attractive messy buns; put on running walking clothes; find watch, sunglasses, iPod and visor; fill jogging stroller tires with air; get baby ready to go on run walk.

At regular 5 minute intervals, the task I was trying to complete was interrupted by one of my children.  So I stopped what I was doing to tend to the need or want of said child (who was usually crying).  After a massive meltdown involving Lightning McQueen and Mater toy cars, I finally gave in and put Jackson in front the TV so I could finish getting ready.  Miraculously, I somehow made it out the door and down the driveway (at 1:00 PM) with Charlie in the jogging stroller, sunglasses and visor on, music playing in my ears, ready to finally start moving my body.

I DID NOT EVEN MAKE IT PAST THE MAILBOX.  Charlie has a strong aversion to his car seat, and no amount of pacifier-stuffing or stroller-rocking was going to calm him down enough for us to make a loop around the neighborhood.  So back up the driveway, back inside, back to the chair.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening (and now late night) in my running walking clothes, alternating between being somewhat productive (working on the computer, making dinner) and trying to calm a fussy baby.  But, like, trying to calm a fussy baby every 15 minutes.  Not that I had hoped to accomplish grand things today, but I would have liked to have done something - for the house, for myself, for work - something that made the day worthwhile.  But, no.  The entire day was stop and go, stop and go.  One interruption after another.

And then, tonight before bed, this happened:

It is now 1:00 AM.  I'm still in workout clothes (which really just means that I didn't shower today).  I've been working on this post for about 2 hours because Charlie has apparently decided that sleep is not for him tonight (actually, I'm typing this one-handed because someone is hungry again).  The kitchen is a mess.  There are toys, pillows and couch cushions strewn across the living room floor.  There is a pile of clean clothes on top of my bed, waiting to be folded and put away

But, oh well.  There's always tomorrow.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to School

For the majority of my life (like, 25 of the last 34 years!), this time of year has always meant one thing: Back to School.  Whether as a student or a teacher, the end of August has been a fun mixture of all the emotions: anxiety, excitement, stress, relief, nervous anticipation, unexplainable giddiness.  Even now, as an online instructor, I think my year will always be measured by the beginning and end of new semesters.

But while my online class doesn't start for another few weeks, I have been feeling left out of all the back to school festivities this week.  True, I am so grateful to be able to stay home right now, but I definitely miss my school family.  Part of me still feels a responsibility towards my principal, co-workers, and especially my students.  I know the school continues to function in my absence, but still.  After spending five years helping to build a program and a culture, it's hard to let go.

I've been thinking, however, that even though I am not technically going back to high school this August, I am definitely going back to a different kind of school.  In what I hope is no more than a few days, I am going Back to Baby School.

You know how kids forget all that they learned the previous school year over the summer break?  That's how I feel right now.  It's been two years since I had a newborn...now tell me again, how do I do this?

How do you keep a baby alive?
How often do you feed a baby?
How do you get a baby to stop crying?
How do you change a baby's diaper?
How do you hold a baby?
How do you survive on only 2 hours of sleep at a time?

And don't even get me started on how you take care of a newborn AND a toddler at the same time.  That's college-level stuff, and I assume it involves a lot of show-watching and bribery.

So, back to school I go, accompanied by the fun mixture of all the emotions: anxiety, excitement, stress, relief, nervous anticipation, unexplainable giddiness.

Still not sure when my schooling will begin (please, please, please, don't make me wait another week!), but here's to a great year!

My First Baby School Instructor


For three of the past four school years, I have had a silly tradition to take selfies to mark the passing of the days and weeks.  The first year I did it, I took a daily outfit picture.  The second year, Jackson and I took a picture every Friday morning before we rushed out of the house.  Last school year, we continued the Friday morning selfie tradition.  He was definitely a less willing participant as he got older, and admittedly we missed a few weeks (mornings were and still are rough around here!), but it was something I looked forward to each week because it meant the weekend had finally arrived.

(Several people have inquired whether or not we will keep up our weekly pictures this year - and how in the world I'll be able to take a selfie with a child in both arms! - we shall see!)

So, without further ado, here is our #katiejandbabyjfridayselfies from the 2015-2016 school year.  Enjoy!

Thursday, August 11, 2016


A couple of weeks ago we celebrated Jackson's 2nd birthday, which is really weird because I'm pretty sure he just turned 1 a few months ago... but then again, when he woke up this morning, he looked like he was 4.  Time is not only flying, but also turning around in somersaults.

The day of his birthday was pretty unspectacular.  We had just moved into our new home, and everything was (and still is) a complete mess.  For all my motherly desires to make the day special, nothing was planned.  No cake, no party, no big presents.  Part of me felt like a failure, and the other part of me knew that it was all going to be okay.  The 9-month pregnant momma gets a pass on a few things, right?

But what started as an uneventful day actually turned out pretty great.  Grandma brought over balloons and Nothing Bundt Cake Bundtinis, cousins happened to be coming into town, Daddy had ordered a few small presents from Amazon, and to top it off, we decided to head over to Chuck E. Cheese's for an impromptu party.

A few days later we had a second (super simple) celebration with the other side of the family: pizza, cake, and a few presents.  The state of our house had not improved much, but I at least felt comfortable enough to have people sit in the living room.

A few things to love about my 2-year-old baby boy:
  • Although his diet seems to consist mainly of chicken nuggets and rye-ryes (French fries), he is an excellent eater.  Loves vegetables and fruit.  Can eat an entire avocado in one sitting.  Unlike his mama, he loves green beans.  It's not hard to make him happy in the food department. 
  • His expanding vocabulary impresses me daily... and keeps me on my toes.  He is now at stage where he repeats everything we say, so when I mutter "Oh, crap!" under my breath, I have to remember that I now have a little echo of "Oh, cap!"  I love that I can understand almost everything he is trying to tell me and take a weird delight in translating for other people.  
  • He told us the other day: "I need haircut."  Ummm, okay?  Since when did you start making decisions for yourself?  He is becoming very independent, which is awesome, but at the same time, we are staring the Terrible Two's right in the face, waiting to see who blinks first.
  • His smile, his laugh, his blonde hair that gets curly when long or humid or wet.  His sense of humor.  His growing imagination.  Everything about Jackson just makes him that much cuter.  Sometimes I can hardly stand how adorable this little boy is.  
So, even though I'm a little behind in documenting the event, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my soon-to-be-big-brother little boy.  We love him more than words can say.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

2 nights of family and fireworks.
Grateful for the freedoms we enjoy and the men and women who made it all possible.



Monday, June 13, 2016

5 Things To Do This Summer

The first week of summer is officially over... and I'm sitting here wondering what in the world I've accomplished.

I am a list person by nature - if I don't have a numbered, prioritized reminder of what I need to do each day, I feel ridiculously lost and unproductive.  Along the same lines, I really like setting goals.  And while my track record for actually completing said goals is debatable, the satisfaction of having made them in the first place is enough to make me feel like I'm doing something with my life.

So, here we are, a new season of life has begun (summer, stay-at-home-mom-ness), and I am feeling the urge to sit down and list my life away.  Usually my to-do lists and goals end up being an exhausting exercise in micro-managing my time and resources, so instead of trying to overcomplicate things, I've come up with just five things "to do" this summer, in no particular order...

1. Have Fun: So obvious, right?  I think most mothers of young children would agree, though, that sometimes you forget about having fun when every day is the same old-same old.  I remember last summer I became so weary of the daily monotony - morning jog, make breakfast, clean kitchen, laundry, clean something else, make lunch, nap time, laundry, clean something else, errands, make dinner, bath, bedtime, clean kitchen.  I was not very good at allowing myself to have fun each day, to enjoy the time I had with my baby boy.  It was still a great summer, but especially now that Jackson is older (almost 2!), I am realizing that there needs to be a little element of fun, big or small, every day.  The park, the pool, the splash pad, the library, the zoo.  A museum, an aquarium, an adventure somewhere new.  Making meals together, reading books together, playing with cars, blowing bubbles, building block towers and knocking them down, running around in circles (literally - he makes me run around the house with him), jumping on the bed.  For both of us, we need to have fun - not the overly-planned, super-elaborate, Pintagram-worthy kind of fun, but the ordinary, regular, natural, easy kind of fun.

2. Stay Active:  Last summer, Jackson and I went on a 2-mile jog first thing almost every morning.  Then school started.  Then I got pregnant.  Then school ended.  A + B + C = no exercise.  And yes, I am still pregnant, and oh, we are moving in about two weeks, but at some point the excuses have to stop, right?  If I can get in at least 30 minutes of some sort of physical activity each day, I'll be happy.  Even if it means 30 minutes of chasing after my child who has yet again run away from me (true story).  

3. Eat (Real) Food:  About three months ago, I simply gave up on making dinner for my family.  With the stress of teaching, being pregnant, buying a home, taking care of baby, and dealing with life, something had to go.  So making dinner went.  It was worth it to out-source that one meal if it meant I didn't have to worry about standing in front of the open fridge for ten minutes at 6:00 every night, wondering what in the world I was going to feed three hungry people.  So we learned to embrace take-out.  Now that school is over and I am not away from home for 10 hours a day, I don't really have an excuse not to provide some sort of nourishment that doesn't come from a box or a bag for my loved ones.  So having, preparing, and eating real food is a goal for me this summer.  Silly, I know, but when you consider that grocery shopping is my least favorite activity in the world (second only to folding and putting away laundry), this is going to be a challenge for me.  (And by food, I don't mean the overly-planned, super-elaborate, Pintagram-worthy kind of food, but the ordinary, regular, natural, easy kind of food.  Dinner staples in our house are hamburgers, chicken tacos, and pasta w/ meat sauce.  I have learned from bad experience that if it takes more than 30 minutes to make a meal, no one is happy.  Especially the one making it.)

4. Create Me Time:  This is really hard for me.  I forget to schedule/ask for/insist on/require/plan for time to take care of myself, and so I usually end up resenting others (husband, baby) for the perceived unfairness of never having time for my needs/wants.  Along the same lines of remembering to have fun every day, I need to remember to create my own me time. 10 minutes of reading a book just for fun, a quick power nap in the middle of the day instead of doing the dishes, not feeling guilty for playing a round of Two Dots while baby plays by himself, a pedicure once a month, 30 minutes spent learning something new (really want to experiment with bullet journaling, would love to finally figure out how to use my nice camera).  Above all, not feeling guilty for admitting that I can't do it all, that someone else needs to take over and handle the house, the child, the meals - I just need some time off.  (The Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner is a great reference for this kind of self-care.)

5. Don't Stress: Hmmm, maybe I should have listed this one first.  We just bought our first home and are in the middle of what has now turned into quite the remodel (new paint, new trim, new lights, new flooring, new doors, new pantry and laundry room).  We are supposed to be moving out of our current house and into the new one in two weeks.  I am about 30 weeks pregnant.  My 2-year old constantly runs away from me in public places (just yesterday at Wal-mart, no joke, he ran from the food aisles all the way to the opposite end of the store to the sporting goods section as I waddled behind him, softly yelling at him to stop, which he never did).  I am facilitating two sections of an online basic writing course for BYU-Idaho (20+ hours of work per week).  Stressing out comes fairly natural to me, so yet one more challenge.  I might need to have this tattooed on my forehead...

Or I just need to remember to have fun.  Which includes lots of "jump-a, jump-a!" on mommy's bed.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What have I missed?

I have been a high school English teacher for five years.  For the past two years, I have also been a mother.  I'm not gonna lie: it's been tough.  I know there are so many women that successfully work full-time outside of the home and are also amazing mothers to their children and incredible homemakers, but honestly I have struggled with being able to do it all.  At one point I had to accept that I would always be lacking in one area of my life (i.e.: cooking, cleaning) due to the demands and responsibilities of the other areas (i.e.: teaching, mothering, surviving).  It hasn't been ideal, but it's been a necessity in order to support my family.  

In two weeks, though, I will officially be a stay-at-home mom (er, rather, a work-from-home mom - online teaching is a wonderful thing!).  With Baby #2 coming in August, my husband and I knew that it was time.  It was a very bittersweet decision, but I feel very blessed that this will finally be a reality for me.

I've gotten a small glimpse of what "staying at home" will be like this past week as I've had to miss work to be home with a "sick" little boy (apparently it's bad parenting to send your child to day care with a rash).  Up till now, Saturdays have been my day to spend with just Jackson and I.  Unfortunately, I am usually so exhausted from the work week and also overwhelmed by all of the house things that need to be accomplished (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning, organizing - everything neglected Monday-Friday), that I am not a very fun mommy on the weekends.

The two whole weekdays that I have spent with Jackson this past week, though, have been the best.  We made Belgian waffles for breakfast one morning.  We played with blocks and cars.  We spent an afternoon at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  We played with pots and pans, pouring water from one to the other.  We went to the park.  We played with bubbles... inside the house!  Throughout these two days of just the two of us, I've been reflecting on the past two years of not being able to stay home and asking myself the question: What have I missed?

I went back to work when Jackson was 7 weeks old, and during the school year he has been cared for by my husband, Grandma and day care.  I know I have been there for the big things: first crawl, first tooth, first walk, first talk.  But what about the little things?  What have I missed out on by not being home with my baby boy?

I've missed giggles and smiles.  I've missed getting him up in the mornings.  I've missed being able to wipe away tears.  I've missed establishing a daily routine.  I've missed learning opportunities.  I've missed hugs and kisses.  I've missed noticing personality traits.  I've missed doctor visits.  I've missed feeding him.  I've missed trips to the library and the park and the pool and the zoo.  I've missed making friends for both of us.

Jackson knows his mommy loves him, and I know that I am his favorite (sorry, daddy!), but part of me will always be sad that I missed so many of the little joys of his first couple of years.

The other part of me is just so grateful and happy and excited (and a little nervous) to be staying home with not only one baby boy, but TWO baby boys come August.  I foresee many more morning waffles and trips to the park in my future... and messes to pick up, and diapers to change, and dishes to clean, and laundry to wash, and mouths to feed, as well as cheeks to kiss, and hands to hold, and little bodies to cuddle.  I can't wait!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Motherhood Is...

Obviously this is a couple of days late, but these thoughts have been going through my mind since last Saturday.  From my own experience, this is what motherhood is for me right now, in no particular order.

Motherhood is being the last person to eat, and then never actually finishing your meal.

Motherhood is hearing your name screamed at you at least 200 times per day (this Family Guy clip is making a whole lot more sense now).

Motherhood is thinking that everything he does is the cutest thing in the world.

Motherhood is knowing that literally every surface in your home is probably covered in snot.

Motherhood is feeling lonely.

Motherhood is learning to never close your eyes when he is sitting on your lap because you never know when he will decide to throw his head back and break your nose.

Motherhood is repeating the same request 10 times in a row with absolutely no response or indication of compliance.

Motherhood is intentionally letting him make a mess on the floor with food or water or whatever because it is easier to clean it up than deal with the tantrum that would follow if you had said no in the first place.

Motherhood is crying all the way home from a trip to the grocery store with him and then vowing to never again put yourself through that trauma.

Motherhood is wiping boogers off his face with the underside of his shirt... or in the absence of a shirt, just using your bare hands.

Motherhood is being patient, and then losing your patience, and then yelling, and then feeling bad about yelling, and then asking for forgiveness and a hug, and then trying again the next day.

Motherhood is feeling inadequate in every way possible.

Motherhood is knowing that you are his favorite person in the world.

Motherhood is watching him color all over the walls, doors and windows because you are just so tired.

Motherhood is being proud of every milestone, no matter how big or small.

Motherhood is feeling your heart grow in capacity and strength everyday.

Motherhood is thinking that you are doing it all wrong.

Motherhood is being the only person who can calm him down when he's upset.

Motherhood is teaching him to say "please" and "thank you."

Motherhood is reading the same book over and over and over and over (I'm sorry, Dr. Seuss, but could your books be any longer?!).

Motherhood is just wanting him to grow up to be kind.

Motherhood is watching him take risks and wanting to protect him from the dangers, but also knowing that you have to let him learn somethings for himself and you can't protect him from everything.

Motherhood is singing him to sleep.

Motherhood is being amazed at how much he has already learned in his short life.

Motherhood is making funny faces and talking silly and playing games and all-around acting like a kid yourself.

Motherhood is thinking that everyone else is doing it right and has it all together.

Motherhood is letting him fall asleep on your shoulder every night and not really wanting to put him in his own bed because you love just holding him.

Motherhood is not understanding how such a little person can be so gosh darn cute.

Motherhood is realizing that you will never be able to talk logic with a toddler.

Motherhood is trying not to fall into the social media lie that everyone else's life is perfect and clean and fun and worry-free.

Motherhood is thinking that your almost 2-year old is a genius because he speaks in full complete sentences: "I did it!" "I want it!" (as a bonus, your English-teacher heart is so happy because clearly he understands subject-verb-direct object sentence structure).

Motherhood is an endless parade of dishes and laundry.

Motherhood is loving someone with "so much of [your] heart that none is left to protest."

Old photos from December 2015