Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Supermom only flies at night and wears high heels

This morning was a break from my normal routine, which basically includes getting out of the house before anyone else is out of bed and driving to work in the dark. Nope, this morning when my alarm went off at 5:30 AM, I looked over at the blonde curls splayed across my pillow. Sophia had managed to sneak into our bed again in the middle of the night, but this time I had not sent her back to her room. I remembered hearing her coughing, so I assumed that she was catching the cold that her brother had over the weekend. Tallen ran a fever on Sunday, so I knew we had a 50/50 chance that I would be staying home with a sick little girl today.

I reset my alarm for 7:30 but was awake by 7:15 AM. I felt Sophia’s head and was surprised that she felt cool. No fever, maybe I could go to work today. Trey opened his eyes and I told him that I was waiting until Sophia woke up to see if she felt okay to go to preschool. His voice croaked as he told me he wasn’t feeling well either. Crap. Tallen and I had our share of sickness over the weekend and now we had passed it around the entire family. I got out of bed hurried to get ready before Tallen woke up.

While I was standing in my closet trying to decide what to wear, I heard Trey calling my name. I had forgotten to bring the baby monitor in the bathroom with me so I did not hear that Tallen was awake and crying in his crib. After a dry diaper, a change of clothes and cup of milk, I put Tallen back in his crib while I went downstairs to make Sophia’s lunch for daycare.

Last week, Sophia’s teacher told Trey that she was still hungry every day after lunch and we needed to pack her some more food. So I added some cheese and crackers in with her turkey sandwich and fruit. I even packed my lunch for work before heading upstairs to wake up Sophia. I still wasn’t sure she would feel well enough for preschool, so I crossed my fingers as I felt her head again. She felt a little warm again but she had been snuggled up against Trey sleeping. I shook her shoulders and her blue eyes snapped open. Sometimes Sophia starts talking the minute she wakes up, and today was one of those days.

“Why are you still here mommy?” she asked as she popped up in bed and crawled towards me.

“Daddy doesn’t feel well, so I am taking you to school today” I said.

“No school” she said, frowning.

“But you get to see Mrs. Stacy today” I reminded her. She loves her preschool teacher and does not normally ask to stay home from school. Was she feeling bad or did she think that I was staying home from work without her?

“I am dropping you and Tallen off this morning then I am heading to work while Daddy stays home to rest” I told her.

Sophia sighed, “Oh-kayyyy”.

Sophia followed me to the bathroom while I got some medicine for Trey. As soon as he drank the syrupy orange liquid, he sat up and headed for the bathroom saying that he was going to be sick – so I hurried Sophia out of the room and told her it was time for breakfast. We got Tallen out of his crib and went downstairs. I re-heated some Mickey Mouse pancakes for Sophia. “No syrup,” she said, “I want them plain like you give them to Tallen. Plain milk to drink too.”

Wonderful, I thought. After all the Halloween candy she received on Sunday, I am totally okay with giving her less sugar for breakfast. I added some blueberries to her plate, let the dog out and went back upstairs to get dressed. Tallen was walking around yelling “Coco” and opening all the cabinets in the kitchen with broken child-proof latches. When I came back downstairs, I found him on the kitchen floor surrounded by his old bottles that had been stashed on the shelf behind the sippy cups.

Sophia refused to get dressed until she had eaten every bite of breakfast, so I spent five minutes watching her exaggerate her chewing as she ate one blueberry at a time. The dog was barking at the door ready to come in and Tallen was holding his cup upside down watching the milk dribble out on the floor.

At that moment, the first thing that popped in to my mind is - This is why I am not a stay at home mommy. I do not have enough patience to deal with this stuff before I have even had a chance to eat breakfast. I cannot be Supermom in the mornings!

This is not entirely the truth, but I do have a hard time with the whole morning routine of getting kids up and ready for preschool and daycare – because I never do it. I am much better at getting kids fed, bathed and put to be in the evenings. My Supermom cape only flies after 5 PM.

I stayed patient and finally got Sophia changed out of her pajamas and into clothes for preschool. Final check before we went out the door: Jackets and shoes on, lunch box packed, and something to drink for each child. Purse, keys, workout bag and lunch box for me. The bottles that Tallen had scattered all over the kitchen floor would have to wait until later.

I was carrying Tallen in one arm and holding Sophia’s hand with the other as we were walking into preschool. She looked down and said “Mommy, why do you have those shoes on?” I glanced down at my shoes. They were black loafers that I bought last winter for a business trip to Europe. I bought them because I knew I would be walking in the snow and needed some comfortable shoes instead of my usual high heels.

“I wore them because they are comfortable and I had to take you and Tallen to school today. Do you like them?” I asked.

“No,” Sophia replied. “They look like Gran’s shoes. Why don’t we give them away to someone else? Is that okay Mommy? Can we give those shoes away?”

Although I was a little hurt by her criticism, I was proud that Sophia had been listening to me the night before. We were talking about people who are less fortunate than us and how we can help them. I pointed out that some kids may not have as many books or baby dolls as she does, so we picked out a few toys to give to charity.

I looked down at my comfortable shoes and decided that they could go to charity too. My legs look better in high heels anyway.

Supermom will just have to fly in her high heels from now on.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An Update on Pastor Andy McQuitty

I meant to post this over the weekend but I was too busy enjoying the beautiful weather here in Texas. Trey, Sophia, Tallen and I have been spending all of our time outside playing and visiting with our neighbors. This if my favorite time of year and I am trying to enjoy it while I can (and before it turns too cold).

Many of you have asked about our pastor, Andy McQuitty, who was diagnosed with Stage four colon cancer a little over a year ago. He has been in remission for over six months and is still in chemo. I think I will just let him fill you in on the details...

October 1, 2010
My Dear Friends,I know it’s a bit of a shock to receive this note from me. It’s been a long time since I’ve written. You’re probably thinking that’s because I’ve been distracted with an annoying brush with cancer, and perhaps concluded that the cessation of these notes must be due to Pastor Andy’s becoming debilitated, deranged, or even deceased.
Just to let you know, I’m rehabilitated and definitely respirating (notice I said nothing about derangement, that will have to be your call). And I’m back. Hope that’s good news for you. I know it is for me! Now I’m not quite all the way back, but I am getting there. Which leads me to realize it’s high time I gave you an update on where I am in my little grudge match with this stupid disease!
As you may know, I got a second clear PET/CT scan on August 11 which means that for six months, stage four cancer has gone into complete remission in my body. As a result, doc has dialed back the chemotherapy both in frequency and toxicity. I’ll have another scan in December, and if it’s still clear, chemo will end and I’ll receive my official “get out of jail free” card. Prospects are this will be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received. All I can say is, O come, o come Emmanuel!
Even as I navigate these last months of chemo, I’m feeling stronger. Yes, chemo is still chemo, and my family and IBC staff still have to deal regularly with my “chemo brain” forgetfulness. But I’m feeling better, doing more (preaching and leading and dreaming and working and writing and loving life), and getting increasingly pumped for that day sometime after Christmas when, Lord willing, I can be 110% back in the saddle here at IBC.
From my heart I thank you all for your prayers and love and, yes, patience, through this last long 14 months. For you, and to God, I am eternally grateful!
I’m also deeply accountable. It’s no secret that statistically I should be making birdies on golf courses in Heaven right now instead of continuing to make double bogeys here on earth. I believe my life and increasing health and strength is nothing less than God’s miraculous response to the sustained and faithful prayers of His people. In other words, like Hezekiah in the Old Testament (2Kings 20), He’s chosen to extend my life—for a reason. Unlike Hezekiah in the Old Testament, I steadfastly do not want to blow my second chance and botch up the work God wants to get done! Therein lies the sense of accountability.
That’s a rather negative formulation of what I’m feeling, so let me rephrase a bit more hopefully. I’m excited to be here and convinced that God has some big plans in store for us all at IBC as we follow Him in days to come. I’ll keep you posted about that through these little notes if you like.
Bye for now, and 10,000 Blessings,
Pastor Andy

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mommy is Mean

I am a mean mommy.

Just ask my four year old daughter.

Earlier this week, Sophia was downstairs watching TV before her bedtime. I had left her in the living room while I went upstairs to change Tallen's diaper, put on his pajamas, and read him a book before I put him down in his crib. When I left the living room to go upstairs, I told Sophia that she had to go to bed once her show was over. If I give her a warning, she usually agrees and life goes on as normal. This night she agreed and she even SHOUTED up the stairs to let me know when her show was over.

Then I turned really mean.

I asked her to come upstairs AND to bring her bunny and blanket with her. Bunny and blanket were the same two items that had been in her arms the entire time she was watching TV, but had been discarded on the couch when she walked across the room to the bottom of the stairs to SHOUT at me that her show was over. When I asked her to bring them upstairs, she crumpled into a ball on the floor and started crying because, get this, she was too tired to go walk three feet back to the couch to get her bunny and blanket.

"You do it!" she whined as she flopped around on the floor. "I'm too tired to pick them up."

"No, Sophia" I replied. "Mommy is not walking downstairs. I am going into your room to pick out your pajamas. If you want to sleep with your bunny and blanket tonight, you are going to have to bring them upstairs all by yourself."

"I can't do it," she says as she spins around on wood floor, refusing to look up at me.

"Sophia, I told you to pick up your toys. I need you to walk over there, pick up your toys and come upstairs to get ready for bed." Hearing the stern sound of my voice, I start to waiver and actually consider walking downstairs to pick up her toys. If I try to put her to bed without them, it will cause a bigger tantrum and then it will take even longer to calm her down.

"Ohh-kay," she huffs and picks herself off the floor. I am actually amazed that she finally agreed, but the battle is not over yet. I watch as she slooowly tiptoes back to the couch. If she can't make her mommy come down and get her beloved bunny, at least she can delay her bedtime by another 30 seconds by moving as slowly as possible.


We are having another issue with Sophia's bed. Once we actually get her into bed, after the protests to read one more book or complaints that she didn't get to tell mommy/daddy (insert the parent who was not responsible for bedtime duty here) goodnight, we can't get her to actually STAY in her bed all night.
Over the past two weeks, Sophia has been getting up sometime between 2 AM and 4 AM and coming into our bedroom. I usually hear her coming down the hall, followed by the creak of the bedroom door as it opens and the sliver of light from the lamp downstairs spills over the covers of my bed. She quickly zeros in on the easy target - her daddy. She knows that if she asks him to sleep with us, he will willingly pick her up and plop her down between us in the king size bed.

Last night when I picked up Sophia from daycare, I turned into mean mommy again.

"Sophia," I said, "We have to talk about you sleeping in mommy and daddy's bed. You can come into our room in the mornings, but not until it gets light outside. You have to wait for the sun to come up before you can get out of your bed, do you understand?"

"But I love mommy and daddy!" she replies.

"We love you too sweetie," I say, "but mommy and daddy are not getting enough sleep with you waking us up in the middle of the night. If you come into our room tonight and it is still dark out, I will make you go back to your bed, ok sweetie?"

"I just want to bis-it you mommy, I love mommy." Her voice is sweet but I stand firm in my role as mean mommy.

"I'm sorry Sophia, but you can't sleep in our bed."

She doesn't reply so I glance towards the backseat and see her slumped down in her booster seat, defeated at the thought of sleeping in her own bed alone. I don't mention it again, although it crosses my mind as she is getting ready for bed.

In the middle of the night, I am awakened by the sound of her bedroom door opening. I turn over and look towards our doorway. After about a minute, the door slowly creaks open and I see her blonde curls silhouetted against the light shining in the hallway behind her. As she walks over to her daddy's side of the bed, I sit up.

"Sophia, it is still dark out. I need you to go back to your room and sleep in your own bed, sweetie."

She stands still for just a moment, then turns and walks out, closing the door behind her. About 30 seconds later, I hear her bedroom door close and the squeak of her bed as she climbs back in. Then a low, pitiful moan as she starts to cry... "Mommy and Daddy," she whimpers. "I want Mommy and Daddy."

My mean mommy heart breaks. I lie still and after a few minutes she is quiet. Soon she is back asleep, in her own bed. I glance at the clock and it reads 4:21 AM. In less than two hours, I have to get up for work but at least I have a chance of getting some sleep without a wiggly little four year old in the middle of my bed. I fall back asleep quickly, because it is exhausting being a mean mommy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What really happens on a family vacation

Last weekend, we took a five day vacation up to WV to visit my family. I try to get back to WV about once or twice a year but it is getting harder to travel as our family gets bigger. Traveling with kids has always been a challenge and there have been many times that we have vowed to “Never fly again” or “Never drive again” with young children. But several months will pass, we will forget the bad times and I start missing my family again so we endure it. We will always need to take long trips with our kids and as a result we will have lots of stories to tell. So if you ask me how my vacation went, I will probably tell you that we had a great time, but this is “What really happens on a family vacation”

1. Something will go terribly wrong while you are traveling. This was our first plane trip as a family of four so it was the first time we had to deal with two car seats. I decided to check Tallen’s seat with our luggage and bring Sophia’s booster seat on the plane. (I was excited to learn that car seats do NOT qualify as luggage and therefore was not charged the $25 baggage fee to like our three pieces of our luggage). At baggage claim, Trey grabbed the car seat off the conveyor belt and was shocked to find that it was SOAKING WET. Our other three bags, however, were mysteriously dry. After fighting with the ticket agent, paying an extra $50 to rent a car seat, then realizing that our luggage and wet car seat would not fit in the trunk of our rental car… we had to upgrade to an SUV for only double the price before we could finally start our three hour drive from the airport to my sister’s house in WV.

On the day we headed home, we had to drive three hours back to the airport before our 2 ½ hour flight to Dallas. After a quick stop at McDonald’s turned into 30 minutes of playtime for Sophia, we raced to the airport, dropped off the rental car, and argued with the agent about the actual cost for the rental car. With no time to continue the argument over the rental charge, we checked in for our flight, paid our luggage fees, prayed that our car seat would arrive safe and dry in Dallas then did our best to rush through security with a stroller, a booster seat, a diaper bag, two carry on bags, Sophia’s backpack, two hats, a belt, and four pairs of shoes. (Really, the baby had to take off his shoes to go through security)! Since I had forgotten to empty the sippy cups of their suspicious contents, we had to wait while the security agent tested a cup for explosives before we could gather up our crap and run to the gate. I wanted to high five Trey when I saw they were still boarding. Five minutes later we were settled on the plane, only to sit there for another hour in a thunderstorm before we could even push back from the gate. We landed in Dallas about an hour late, but our car seat was dry this time.

2. There will be a potty incident. Of course Tallen picked the two worst times to dirty his diaper on the plane. First was during takeoff, when we had another 15 minutes before the seat belt sign was turned off. I finally gave up waiting and walked back to the bathroom so we would not have to endure the smell any longer. On the flight back, he did his business during beverage service. Perfect timing if I wanted to piss off the flight attendant by making her move the beverage cart.

3. Schedules and bedtimes will not be followed. Midnight, that was Sophia’s average bedtime for the four days that we were in WV. Even with the time zone change, that is a full two and a half hours later than her normal bedtime. Naps were scarce for both kids, and they usually took place in the car while we were driving. One day, I even let Tallen sleep in the car while the rest of us cooled off at the pool (although I did leave the car running and walk over to check on him every five minutes).

4. Sleep arrangements will be scattered. When we visit family, we usually end up kicking someone out of their bedroom so we have a place to sleep. This time we managed to kick two of my sister's kids out of their rooms. We tried to let Sophia sleep in a bed by herself but she preferred to sleep in bed with me. Trey didn't have enough room in the bed with us girls so he slept in the bed Sophia should have been in, and Tallen started out in the bedroom with me but was moved to the playroom after the first night.

5. No one will eat sit-down and eat a wholesome, nutritious meal the entire trip.
Pizza, hot dogs, potato chips, ice cream, biscuits and gravy followed by more pizza and ice cream. My excuse is that I only get to eat favorite foods in my hometown once or twice a year but by the end of the week I was feeling sick. And I think I gained about five pounds while I was there too. Blah.

6. I will forget to pack something. This time it was bug bite medicine, swim diapers, and socks for Tallen. All of the minor necessities that I did remember to pack (baby monitor, extra wet wipes, toothbrushes, nail clippers, favorite blankets and bedtime books) will be overshadowed by the one thing that I forgot.

7. One of the kids will refuse to speak, talk to or hug a family member. This will usually happen with aunts, uncles or cousins that they don’t often see, which I think is understandable. However, I cringe when the kids refuse to let my mom or sister hold them. Living so far away leads to sporadic visits, so I know my kids do not have the same connection to my family that I do but it still breaks my heart when they don’t want to spread the love.

8. We will still cry when it is time to go home. I always cry when it is time to leave, mainly because it never seems like there is enough time to visit. But this time it was hard on Sophia to leave. She cried because she missed her new best friend and cousin, Allie. The girls were inseparable the entire trip. They walked around holding hands, took their baths together at night, wore matching nightgowns, played Barbie dolls and video games together. When it was time to leave, I had a hard time explaining to Sophia that Allie could not ride with us to the airport and she could not go back to Allie's house. It was sweet and sad at the same time. They will not see each other for another six months at best.

It is difficult to travel with kids but it is nice to know that we are making memories. So even though we vow "Never Again..." it only takes a few months before I started planning our next trip.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Journal to Tallen

I keep a journal for myself, just a way to keep track of little events in my life. I also have a journal that I write to Sophia and one that I write to Tallen, which I plan to give to them when they are older. I don’t have an age in mind of when I will give it to them, but I want them to know what they were like as children, their little milestones, the struggles and joys that I faced as their mommy. Below is a page from Tallen’s journal entry this morning.

July 1, 2010


Yesterday was a big day for you. You had tubes put in your ears in the morning. It was the first time you have ever had surgery, so I was a little scared. Daddy and I were both there with you – we let Sophia spend the night with Opa and Gran. The surgery was quick and the doctor said you had a lot of fluid in your ears. Now that it has drained, you will probably be able to hear better - sounds will not be as muffled.

In the recovery room, you screamed and cried for about twenty minutes when you started waking up from the anesthesia. You were furious at the little heart monitor that they put on your foot and you pulled it off twice. Finally, they gave us the OK to go home. You were still crying as I strapped you in the car seat. You threw the stuffed monkey that the nurse had give you at me and you pushed the cup of apple juice that I offered you away. But by the time we got home, you had calmed down and actually started to fall asleep. I think that the graham cracker I gave you helped. You held it up to your mouth all the way home even though you didn’t really eat it.

Gran came over at lunch to stay with you the rest of the day. Sophia was disappointed when she looked in your ears and could not see the tubes that the doctor put in. I headed back to work.

When I got home that evening, you were sitting on the kitchen floor looking up at your daddy. He turned around and told me that you had been walking all over the place. I carried you out to the backyard where Sophia was playing with her dollhouse people and put you in the grass. I was shocked when you didn’t cry (you normally hate when nature touches you) and you took about 15 steps towards me! You can walk now buddy. What a big boy! We love you Talley!

Love, Mommy

**Picture of Tallen before he went back for his surgery, much happier than he was in the recovery room.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Who did you say your mommy was?

Long story short, around lunchtime yesterday Sophia fell and hit her head on the edge of the coffee table. There was lots of blood (or so I hear because I was not actually home to witness the injury, thank the Lord) and Trey quickly rushed her to the doctor. About an hour later, Sophia left the doctor’s office with one staple in her head to close the wound. I didn’t make it there in time to witness the stapling of my daughter’s head, so I met up with Trey and Sophia for ice cream afterwards. I sat there in amazement as Trey told me that she laid on the table, held his hand and DID NOT EVEN FLINCH when the put in the staple.

Later that afternoon, I took Sophia shopping for a “prize”. In my opinion, if you can sit there while some man puts a staple in your head and not shed one tear, you definitely deserve a prize. On our way to the store, Sophia and I had the following conversation.

Sophia: Mommy, when you were a little girl, did you have staples in your head?

Mommy: No Sophia, I never had staples.

Sophia: Well Daddy and I had staples.

Mommy: Did it hurt when the doctor gave you a staple?

Sophia: No, but it hurt my baby doll. (She holds up a little doll in her hands). She has staples in her arms. She hurt because she is little. I didn’t hurt because I’m a big girl.

Mommy: You are a big girl Sophia. I’m glad it didn’t hurt.

A minute goes by while Sophia is quiet.

Sophia: Mommy, when I was a baby, I was a shark.

Mommy: A shark! Wow, that is interesting.

Sophia: Yeah, Mommy. When I was a baby, I was a shark and I bit my mommy’s finger!

Mommy: You were a shark and you bit my finger?

Sophia: No, you were not my mommy. My mommy was… Minnie!

Mommy: Minnie? As in Minnie Mouse?

Sophia: Yes, Minnie Mouse was my mommy.

Mommy: I want to be your mommy. Why was Minnie Mouse your mommy?

Sophia: Because she was the first name I could think of.

Another minute goes by while Sophia continues to think.

Sophia: Mommy, when I was a baby and I was a shark, you were a little girl so you could not be my mommy.

Mommy: Yes I could Sophia. You were a baby just a few years ago and I was your mommy.

Sophia: No, you were a little girl when I was a baby. And you lived in heaven and you had a staple in your head because you were not borned yet.

Mommy: (no words for a few seconds, because I am speechless. How can I argue with that?)

Mommy: Well Sophia, I am glad that I am your mommy now.

Sophia: Me too.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I blame the Dinosaurs and Allligators

No one is getting enough sleep in our house. I blame the dinosaurs and alligators. Apparently the dinosaurs hang out in the shadows of Sophia’s bedroom and only come out in the middle of the night, usually around 2 or 3AM, when she is supposed to be sleeping. I search for them every night before bedtime, looking behind the dresser, beside the nightstand and in the closet - but I have never seen them. They must be world champions at the game of hide and seek or maybe they are invisible to adults, choosing only to make an appearance once the bedroom door is closed. And the alligators, well they tend to hide in the bathtub. How can a three (almost four) year old be expected to go the bathroom by herself when an alligator is right there on the other side of the shower curtain?

The only safe place from the dinosaurs and alligators is MY bed. My bed must have a magical force-field around it that repels these scary, sharp toothed creatures because I have never seen one of them in my room. Somehow in the midst of a room filled with these prehistoric creatures, Sophia manages to make her escape. She climbs out of her bed, rushes past the bathroom that has a bathtub full of alligators and runs down the hall to my bedroom. Did I mention this happens sometime between 2 and 3 AM? You know, when most parents are SLEEPING so they can get up early and go to work the next day! My rule has always been that everyone sleeps in their own bed with the rare exception of when a sick child needs adult attention. So Sophia knows to wake up her Daddy first and ask him if she can sleep in our bed, because there is a high probability that Mommy will say no. When kids are in our bed, I have trouble sleeping and when I don’t get enough sleep, I get grumpy and when Mommy is grumpy… well, that’s not going to turn out good for anyone.

So I have been awake since 3 AM this morning, unless you count the brief period of time where I dozed off between 5:30 and when my alarm went off at 6:00 AM which I don’t think actually counts as sleep. Once I wake up, I have a Very Difficult Time falling back to sleep at night. This is why I keep a stack of books and my laptop beside my bed, to occupy my mind until sleep starts to seep in again. However with Sophia in my bed, I could not turn on my laptop or lamp so I just lay there in bed while she rolled, kicked and twisted in the sheets. After a few hours, Trey had enough of her wiggling and carried Sophia back to her room. She whimpered a little but stayed put in her bed until she fell back asleep, safe from the dinosaurs in the shadows.

I wonder if it is actually my bed that keeps the alligators and dinosaurs away or maybe it is my imposing physical presence. Yeah, I guess not. Maybe if I started sleeping in Sophia’s bed at night, in there with the dinosaurs and next to the bathroom with the alligators, I could get more sleep than I have the past three nights. We need to come up with a plan to keep these creatures away. Does anyone have any experience dealing with monsters in your kids rooms?

Monday, June 14, 2010

A cause for Alarm

This morning at 4:45 AM, an alarm went off in my house. It was not my alarm clock that fills my bedroom with the sounds of the radio at 6:00 AM each morning. It was not a car alarm from one of the neighbors’ cars or a tornado alarm in the distance. This was a loud, strange sudden beeping that startled me from my sleep then immediately paralyzed me with fear. In my muddled confusion, I guessed that it was the smoke alarm but before I could sources the sound, it stopped just as suddenly as it began.

The sound had also jarred Trey, who is usually a very heavy sleeper, awake. I told him he needed to get up and check the house. I still wasn’t sure were the sound had actually come from with the elaborate setup of two baby monitors and multiple smoke alarms in the house. Over the monitor, I heard Sophia moving around in her room followed by a rising wail as she started to cry. After Trey walked into her room, I heard her say that she was scared so I told him to bring her into bed with me. Sophia crawled up beside me in the middle of the bed and I covered her with the sheet. After his sleepy but thorough check of the house for smoke, Trey stumbled back into bed beside us.

Adrenaline from the abrupt awakening still pulsed through my body and I vibrated with alertness. Lying on my back with Sophia’s feet pressed against my leg, I listened to the sounds of the night with heightened awareness. Less than 15 minutes had passed when a sudden popping sound echoed downstairs. I woke Trey again and demanded that he get up and check the entire house again. With still no sign or smell of smoke and a security check of all the locks on the doors, he conceded that he were safe. He thought that what I had heard was the sprinklers turning on at their scheduled time of 5 AM.

Sleep was out of reach for me now, so I lie in bed thinking of all the reasons for the smoke alarm to sound, but no answers came.

Sophia was startled again by my alarm clock at 6:00 AM.

“What’s that” she asked, sitting up in the middle of the bed as her blonde curls stood out wildly from her head. I told her it was just time for me to get up for work, so she dropped her head back on the bed and was asleep again in seconds. At that moment, I envied the trust and faith that children have in their parents, that belief their parents will always make sure everything is ok.

Unnerved and unbalanced, that is how I started my day...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Nothing is lurking in the shadows...

As with most newly married couples, there is a certain path of responsibility that is traveled in life. Before couples jump into the big commitment of having children together, they usually test the waters by getting a pet. Some couples will treat their pets like children, choosing to spoil and pamper them. They allow their pets to sleep in their beds, dress them up in little pet outfits, and pose for family pictures by the Christmas tree with their pets. Trey and I are not that type of couple.

Before I met Trey, I had a pug named Kacie and a cat named Bella. When Trey and I got married, he basically had to accept that I came with a pet package and he chose to adopt my pets into his family. With Kacie it was pretty much love at first sight. Kacie was an adoring, loving, sweet pug packed into a broad 26 pound package. She was not exactly the type of dog that you allow to sleep in your bed, because she was heavy and snored loudly, but she was the best dog that I ever owned. Trey agreed and they quickly developed a devoted affection for each other.

It wasn’t quite the same with my cat Bella. I adopted Bella at a SPCA event when I lived in Louisiana. She was a cute little puffball of a kitten and the adoption volunteer told me they guessed she was a Siamese/Himalayan mix. Just six short weeks before, I had put my nine year old Himalayan cat named Chubby to sleep due to medical issues. It was such a painful experience that I vowed to never again own a cat. But that little puffball tugged at my heart and I wondered if she could soothe the stabbing pain from losing Chubby, so I signed the adoption papers and was the owner of a new kitten once again.

To be quite honest, Bella and I never really bonded. She was more of an attack cat that hid in the corners and behind furniture, then leaped out when I walked by, either scaring me or biting my ankles and drawing blood. Within a few months my sweet little puffball had grown into a menace that literally climbed the walls; she used her claws to hang from the shower curtain, she sharpened them on the door facing in the bathroom, and she terrorized my 26 pound pug who was literally three times her size. Maybe it was her start in life as an orphan, her Siamese nature, or her jealousy of Kacie - but Bella has had a bad attitude from the beginning. Bella’s one redeeming quality was rarely seen but it was the quiet comfort by her presence. Whenever I was sick, hurting, or deeply sad, she found her way to me and lay nearby. It was as if she sensed my pain or sorrow, and she would not leave my side until I was feeling better. She lay in my bed for a week after I had jaw surgery. Each time I was pregnant, I would find her in my bed each night, curled up under the covers beside my legs.

However, as soon as I was feeling better Bella was back to her old tricks; like running at my feet when I was trying to walk down the stairs and tripping me, attacking my ankles when I walked through the kitchen, biting my hand when I petted her more than three times, sneaking up behind me when I sat on the couch and swatting me on the head when she felt that I was her way. Bella was a long haired cat, so she sheds in big white clumps which were also the reason for the hairballs that she threw up all over the house. We tried to shave her long hair about once or twice a year, but this involved sedating her because she attacked the groomer before and that did not make anyone happy.

A few months ago, pretty much after Tallen started crawling, Trey and I discussed the possibility of finding a new home for Bella. In the past, I had been reluctant to even consider this possibility because of the promise I made on the day I adopted her. She was my responsibility to care for and provide for, she just didn’t show her gratitude often. Recently, Bella’s hair was shedding in clumps again and we had to make sure Tallen didn’t pick it up and put it in his mouth. Both of the kids appear to have allergies (sorry kids, you get that from your mom) and the cat hair did not seem to be helping. Bella had not been getting much attention or affection lately, due to the busyness of taking care of two kids and her lack of status in our house before the kids even arrived. The final decision to look for a new home for Bella came after an incident that could have been much, much worse. While Sophia was walking down the stairs, Bella raced over her feet and tripped her, making her fall down several steps before she stopped on the landing. Sophia was scared but unhurt, this time. That same week, Bella had tripped me while I was carrying the baby down the stairs but I managed to grab the handrail before I fell. Again, the fall could have been much worse and we didn’t want to take a chance that it would happen again.

The next day, Trey called the local animal shelters and we started asking around to see if anyone wanted to adopt our cat. Unfortunately, not many people want to adopt a 9 year old cat that swats, trips and bites people. Ultimately, I refused to let Trey take Bella anywhere but a no-kill shelter but those were full, and to be quite honest, even thought she has caused me hurt and heartache for almost the past decade of my life – I could not bring myself to go through with the act of giving her away. So Bella stayed, still lurking in the shadows and occasionally leaping out to bite my ankles. This spring she started going outside more, enjoying the backyard and digging up the newly planted flowerbeds. We let her go out as much as she wanted, because it did cut down on the amount of hair that she sheds around the house. We still find ourselves picking up clumps but just not as often.

Friday afternoon while I was at work, Trey called me and said he needed to tell me something. Bella was missing. Before he called me, he searched all over the house and could not find her anywhere. He said he didn’t remember letting her go outside, but that he could not find her anywhere. I was not surprised or even worried because I sort of remember letting her go in the backyard the day before. Neither of us could remember the last time we had seen Bella, although I remember hearing her crying outside the bedroom door the day before, while I was getting ready for work. I told Trey to check all the bedrooms and the closets, because Bella often finds odd little cozy places to take a nap; like in the laundry basket, between the pillows on the bed, or on a stack of blankets in the guest room closet. Trey had already checked every room in the house and even looked for her outside, but Bella was gone.

Once I got home from work Friday evening, I did the same thorough check of the house. Every room, every closet, the backyard, the garage, the front yard; I walked around calling her name but she didn’t answer. Trey said that her disappearance was an answer to our prayers, Bella was finally gone, but at the same time he felt a little bad. It had been over 24 hours since the last Bella sighting, so based on the rules that apply to a missing person, our cat was officially missing.

Still no sighting of Bella. My emotions are mixed at this point. I still believe that she can turn up any day – cats have a knack for finding their way home. But I also worry that she is hurt or overheated and unable to get home. We had bobcats in the neighborhood that were sighted chasing household pets and earlier this year several pets went missing. That haunts me, thinking she could have been attacked by another animal. The best theory, which Trey is clinging to, is that someone found Bella wandering around the neighborhood and picked her up. Hopefully someone is caring for her and adopting her as their pet. But that theory also seems too easy after our recent issues with Bella. This whole disappearance is what we have been wanting – but I feel guilty for being thankful that she is gone.

The house does feel a little empty. Bella has been a constant presence in the background of our life; slinking up the stairs at night and into the bedrooms, curling up on the back of the couch, or hiding in the laundry basket – usually on top of freshly clean clothes. So basically I have mixed feelings. Sadness, guilt, relief, but what I am missing is closure.

A few days after we moved into our house almost six years ago, our pug Kacie disappeared from the backyard while we were at work. Kacie had always been an outdoor dog and when I lived in Louisiana she had plenty of room to run and play during the day in addition to a cool spot in the shade on the porch of the storage shed. Once we moved to Dallas, we lived in apartments for about a year and a half so she spent a lot of time on the outdoor patio. We were excited when we bought our house that she would have the freedom to run around the yard again. But just a few days after we moved in, Trey came home to find the backyard empty and Kacie was nowhere to be found. Suspiciously, two men had been working in the back yard to install the cable, although they claimed they had never seen a dog. They also had limited English speaking skills so we never really understood the details of how they were in our backyard but our beloved Kacie pug was not.

So we have been through this before, the disappearance of a pet. When we lost Kacie, I spent hours walking through the neighborhood calling her name and knocking on neighbors doors to ask if they had seen our dog. In no time, we had fliers up on every street corner offering a reward for her return. Sadly, we never found Kacie. A few months later, after the sorrow and sadness had finally started to soften, we decided to get a new pug puppy. That is how we got our Coco Puff. Adopting Coco as a little puppy was our first big step towards responsibility together as a couple. Coco will never be a replacement for Kacie but she was the first member of the family that Trey and I added after we got married. She was ours and we promised to raise her together.

This time there have been no fliers on the street corners. I have not searched the neighborhood for signs of Bella. No neighbors have been notified of her disappearance. I’m not sure if we are resigned to the fact that she is already gone or if we are afraid that we might actually find her. I feel guilty saying that. I do think it is best for our kids that she is gone. On Saturday, I told Sophia that Bella was missing and we had not been able to find her. Then I asked Sophia if it would be okay if Bella did not come home. Sophia looked at me and said “I don’t want Bella to come home, I don’t like her.”

So sad, but so true. I can only hope that Bella has found herself a better home, one where she will be loved better than we can love her.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fun Foto Friday - Beach style!!!

Last week we were in Destin, FL for our family vacation. The kids LOVED the beach and they played non-stop!

We spent one day on the boat and this was Tallen's first time on the water. He had a great time watching the waves!

Going out to eat is my favorite part of vacation. Sophia looks forward to eating out too.

Tallen loved the beach. He could not wait to get down in the sand and get his hands dirty.

Our last day was great and for our last night in Destin we had a relaxing family dinner together at Baytowne Wharf.

Our vacation in Destin was so much fun!!! Really, the kids had a blast!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother's day is not always Happy...

It’s 9:00 AM on a Friday morning and I am driving to work with tear stained cheeks. I have already cried about three times this morning and I am emotionally drained. In about 20 minutes I will have to walk into my office, so I better pull it together soon. But the sad, lonely look Sophia gave me this morning when I dropped her off at her preschool class flashes across my mind. Guilt washes over me and my eyes begin to blur again with hot, wet tears.

Mommy Guilt is unique for every mom, although I would estimate that 99% of all the moms out there experience it in one form or another. For me, Mommy Guilt is defined as the guilt of being a mommy who hurries off to work every morning before her daughter wakes up and asks her to stay home. The guilt of being a mommy who (GASP) actually enjoys her job and (can’t believe I am going to admit this) does not spend every day longing to be a stay-at-home mom with her two children*. The guilt of being a mommy who was has been so tired that I once offered my husband $100 if he would get up and feed Tallen a bottle at 2:00 AM and let me stay in bed. The guilt of being a mommy who, by the end of the day, is so drained that I have rushed through Sophia’s story time just so I could get her into bed and have a few minutes to go read a book of my own.

Earlier this morning, around 7 AM, I went downstairs to the kitchen to get Tallen’s bottle ready. As I reached for one of the clean bottles that I had left on the counter the night before, I remembered that I had decided to start weaning him from his bottle and switching to a cup. So instead of a bottle, I filled one of Sophia's old training cups with formula.

Back upstairs in Tallen’s room, I lifted him out of his bed and laid him on his changing table. Once I had changed his shirt, I handed him the cup. For the past few weeks, we have only offered him water in his cups so this was the first time he was actually drinking formula. He took the cup, put the spout in his mouth and gummed on it for a minute before he thrust it back at me. This happened about three times before he realized I was giving him something other than water to drink.

After changing him, I sat down in the chair and laid Tallen across my lap while he finished his cup. It suddenly hit me that in just a few weeks, my baby boy will turn One and I officially have a toddler. This "baby window" is slowing closing and I will not have many more chances to sit here in the mornings, feeding my baby a bottle. For the first time that morning my cheeks grow hot with tears. My baby boy is growing up. I am going to miss this.

I take Tallen into Sophia's room to wake her and her eyes light up with excitement when she sees that I am home.

"No school today?" she asks.

"Oh Sweetie, you still have school today. I am home so I can take you to school this morning. I am going to go have breakfast with you and all of your friends." Today is Muffins with Mommy at her preschool and I am going into work late so that I can share a blueberry muffin and apple juice with my little girl.

Whenever Sophia wakes up before I leave for work in the morning, it throws off her schedule and this morning is no exception. I have to raise my voice more than once while trying to get her ready for school. I count to three then try to make a game out of getting dressed but my patience is wearing thin. Tears sting my eyes when I hear myself yelling at her for the third time that morning and I hate hearing the frustration in my voice.

Soon we are holding hands and walking into her preschool. Sophia takes me to her room and gives me a handmade card and two fresh flowers. After I squeeze myself into one of the tiny chairs at the child size table, we eat breakfast together with two of her friends. Finally, I walk her to her room and give her a hug goodbye. She runs away from me and tries to hide in the corner, yelling that she does not want me to leave. We are both in tears at this point and one of her teachers come out to coax her into the classroom. She finally agrees to go pick out a book and join her friends in the circle on the floor but that sad look she gives me when I start to walk away breaks my heart again.

After I pull into the parking garage at work, I check my makeup in my visor's mirror. A little bit of lipstick helps me look presentable and I take a deep breath as I get out of the car and head towards my office. I look down at the hand made card from Sophia in my hand. It is covered in finger paint and pink glitter and inside it reads "Happy Mother's Day, Love Sophia." Finally, for the first time today, being a mommy brings a smile to my face...

*I am not looking for a debate here on stay-at-home-moms (SAHMs) vs. working moms here. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my children and I look forward to seeing them every day but being a working mom is what works for me and my family.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Blogging Conference Confusion

It all started when I thought about looking for a blogging conference. Blogging has become so mainstream in the past half decade or so, that the number of conferences available to Internet addicted folks (like me) is overwhelming. In order to narrow down my choices before I could decide which conference to attend, I had to ask myself this question. “What type of blogger am I?”

Am I a mommy blogger like the women on Babycenter.com? Most of them are stay-at-home moms so I have a hard time identifying with the struggles they face. Then I think that maybe I should define myself as a “working mom” blogger. But to be honest, I try not to write about my work on my blog. My career in petroleum engineering is very structured, analytical and I always strive to appear professional in that setting. My blog is more laid back, humorous, personal, and is an outlet for me to express my creativity. If you met me in a work setting, you would meet a very different Stephanie than you would meet at say, at a blogging conference.

Once I started trying to decide what type of blogger I am, I found it easier to determine what type of blogger I am NOT…

I am a Christian, but I do not write regularly write about my relationship with God so I would not say that I am Christian blogger like Angie Smith (Bring the Rain).

I love to read, mainly books that you would find on the best seller’s list, both fiction and non-fiction but I have not found time to be in a book club or discuss the books that I read. (With the exception of this one review I did two years ago). Note to self, write a blog post about books that I have recently read. Book giveaways are not something I promote, because I get most of my books from the library and they might frown on me giving away their newest releases.

I am a member of the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) but I would not consider myself an arts blogger like my friend Denise. We often attend a lecture series together sponsored by the DMA but I rarely get around to writing a post about these events. We are going to hear Laura Bush speak about her new book on Friday, May 7th so I will try to get around to posting about it in the next week.

I am definitely not a style blogger. It is sad to admit this but more than 75% of the clothes I buy for myself or my kids come from the following stores… Target, Old Navy, Baby Gap or The Childrens’ Place. I do buy some of my clothes for work at Ann Taylor Loft (outlet store) or New York and Co. I have three pairs of black high heels (not a designer name among the three) that I wear with my standard work outfit of black pants and blouse or cardigan sweater, so it is safe to say that I am not up with the current fashion trends.

I am also not a food/diet/exercise blogger. My blog posts are not about my goal to get back in shape after having Baby T (one year ago this month), so that I can break out my bikini at the beach next week. I do not write about my goal to eat REAL food and to cook most of the food that my family eats. We visit local farmer’s markets for fresh produce and this year we planted our first vegetable garden, but I will probably never get around to posting about that either.

Once I exhausted all the categories of blogs that I did not fit in, I decided to look back through my posts and see what theme emerged. And I think I finally found it. Family. My posts are about what goes on in our family. Yes, most of my blog is about the kids because they are cute, funny, and a constant source of inspiration. Without them, I would not get to write about potty training, traveling with kids, tantrums, mommy guilt, mommy-daughter playdates, sickness and snot.

Because I write about my kids so much, I think I can elbow my way into this exclusive "mommy blogging" clique and try to to find a place to fit in. But I am still stuck scoping out a blogging conference to attend. BlissDom, Mom 2.o Summit, The Relevant Conference, Bloggy Boot Camp, Casual Blogger Conference, evo '10. Wait, those last two look really cool and branch out beyond "Mommy" territory. One of them in particular is so HOT that it sold out six months in advance (BlogHer), so I can cross it off my list. Others I have already missed in 2010 so I will put them on my calendar for next year, but I need to keep track of how far in advance that I need to register. Are there any tips from you other bloggers out there? Is anyone going to be attending a blogging conference this year? This would be my first time attending a conference so I need some advice from experienced bloggers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't drink the water...

Tallen has learned a new trick, which he performs every time I give him a bath. When we walk in the bathroom, I stand him up next to the tub while I turn on the water. As the tub is filling up with about two to three inches of lukewarm water, I get him undressed and let him practice his drumming skills on the side of the tub, preferably with a bottle of shampoo or a hairbrush. I can’t resist letting him stand there naked beside the tub, drumming away in delight while he shows off his chunky bare backside. (No, I will not be sharing the pictures of my naked baby boy on this blog out of fear that he will hate me in about 10-15 years).

Once the tub has been filled to the proper level (enough to clean the kids but not deep enough for them to make waves that splash over the edge), I turn off the water and check the temperature again. Although it was lukewarm when I turned it on, I make sure it did not spontaneously turn boiling hot while I was watching the naked drummer boy performance. I pick Tallen up and dangle him over his special bathtub seat which is secured to the side of the tub (yes, I freak out about holding a slippery baby in the tub) until I can manage to get both of his feet in the leg holes. He shrieks and starts splashing away and… he goes PEE-PEE in the water. Yes, a little stream arcs up over the edge of the seat that secures him in the tub. He looks down, surprised that it is coming from his lap, then looks up at me and claps. If I am quick enough, I cover him up with a washcloth so I am not a target of his stream. (Yeah, maybe that was too much information). Admittedly, I am too lazy to take the time to drain the tub and fill it up again so I just continue bathing him.


Earlier this week I was giving both of the kids a bath at the same time. They were playing their usual bath time game of “Who Can Shriek the Loudest and Bust Mommy’s Eardrums?” They also like to play this game when I am driving in traffic or when Trey is on the phone for work. I think Tallen was winning this time, his shrieks were bouncing off the bathroom walls and I had to resist the urge to cover his mouth with my soapy hand just to have a moment of muffled silence. Sophia was also playing with a cup that I use to rinse the shampoo out of the kids’ hair and I warned her not to drink the water.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because Tallen went pee-pee in the bathtub before you got in and if you drink the water, you might be drinking some of his pee.”

She looked at me warily, as if she didn’t really believe that Tallen’s pee-pee would be in her bathwater but she decided not to risk it and put down the cup of water that was halfway to her mouth. (Really, why does drinking bathwater appeal to every child under the age of 8? Do they not realize that once they get in there, that water is disgusting?)

“Why did Tallen pee-pee in the water?” she asked.

“Because he is not big enough to pee-pee in the potty like you and me,” I tell her. “He does not know how to go to the potty yet.”

“Mommy, I’m a big sister. I can teach Tallen how to potty!”

Sophia turns to Tallen in the tub and starts tickling his toes, talking to him in her singsong big sister voice. She tells him that she is going to teach him how to go pee-pee in the potty. "Pee-pee in the pot-tee, pee-pee in the pot-tee," she sings over and over.

You go for it sister. You teach that boy how to go potty. And while you are at it, could you also teach him NOT to pee-pee in the bathtub? Because I just watched you turn your back to me, trying to hide as you took a drink from the shampoo cup. Disgusting…


One more thing… Why are babies’ pajamas so hard to get on after you give them a bath? Tallen is usually still a little damp from the bath water and even a little sticky if I have just put lotion on him. His arms get stuck halfway through the sleeve of his shirt and the opening for the hands is three sizes too small. He risks losing a finger every time I try to squeeze his little fist through the hole. Seriously, if he grows up with a pinky missing it will be because I broke it off trying to get him dressed for bed. I will then blame you, Baby Gap, for making pajamas for some skinny prototype baby model that does not exist. And for making such cute pajamas that I buy them anyway!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun Fotos (from Good) Friday

We took a road trip to Louisiana for Good Friday for a Crawfish Boil and to visit the extended Suire family.
"I've been in the car for 8 hours today and NOW you want me to go to bed? Not gonna happen, Mom"

Boiled Crawfish!!!

"What are those things that daddy is eating? Boiled Crawfish?
Please don't make me eat that for lunch!"

"My ears hurt and I am grumpy, quit taking my picture."

"Even though I am grumpy, I still like taking pictures with Gran."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Sophia and her Padan at the camp in Louisiana on Good Friday,
Blowing Bubbles...

Friday, April 9, 2010

How I spent my "One Day Without Shoes"

Well, going a day without wearing shoes was harder than I thought. Most of the day I was within the confines of my own office and although my feet did get cold, I was pretty comfortable going barefoot. However, I did feel it would be more sanitary to put my shoes back on before going to the bathroom. But slipping back into my shoes reminded me that I had the option to avoid the dirty bathroom floor, unlike the many children in developing countries are going barefoot and are constantly aware of the ground in front of them.

I had my annual physical scheduled that afternoon so I had to leave work early. In the car I decided to drive without my shoes on but I hesitated when it was time to walk into the doctor's office. Should I slip my shoes back on or boldly walk in barefoot? Apparently, I am not so bold...

Later in the day, after I had picked up the kids (and taken Tallen BACK TO THE DOCTOR AGAIN to check for an ear infection), we were home getting ready for dinner when Sophia suggested that we have a picnic outside. She asked if we could put a "rug" down, which I assumed meant a blanket for our picnic. I quickly agreed because it was a perfect day to head outdoors without our shoes and enjoy the late afternoon weather in Dallas. I grabbed a blanket and walked out to the backyard and onto the grass. Sophia walked to the edge of the patio and stopped.

"Come on, sweetie," I said to Sophia. "Can you help me spread out the blanket for our picnic?"

"Mommy, I can't walk on the grass without my shoes."

"Yes you can. " I turned to look at her, standing hesitantly at point of the yard where the concrete patio ends and the grass begins. "The ground is not wet and the grass is soft," I said.

"I don't like how it feels on my feet," she tells me again.

I was shocked to hear that my little girl does not like to walk on the grass barefoot. I turned to look at Trey, but he was busy holding a somewhat grumply baby boy on his lap while gliding in the rocker under the pergola. Any other time I might haved tried to convince Sophia to run through the grass barefoot, but right now I knew she was hungry which meant she might be near the tipping point of a tantrum and I REALLY didn't want to push her over the edge. So I shrugged my shoulders and spread the blanket out onto the grass at the edge of the patio so Sophia could step right off the concrete onto the blanket. She happily leaped onto the blanket and sat down in anticipation of our picnic. Sophia invited her dad and brother to join us for a family picnic and Trey (with his soft spot for his baby girl) sat down on the blanket to join us, even though he had already eaten dinner.

I spread out the food (Sophia said we needed LOTS of food for our picnic) and we ate our dinner barefoot on the blanket in the backyard. Just to let you know our picnic assortment included: a chicken sandwhich, carrot sticks, red bell pepper hummus, pita chips, dried cranberries, almonds, strawberries and animal crackers. Not too long after we started eating, Sophia said her feet were cold so I went inside to get her some socks. Once again I was reminded of my children's abundance of their basic needs while children in developing nations live in poverty and struggle for food, shelter, clothing, socks, and shoes.

While Trey was giving the kids their baths, I headed to the grocery store. Knowing that I might be denied service if I entered the store without wearing shoes, I put them on one last time. As soon as I got home I took them off again and headed into the kitchen to cook some lunch for Trey and I to eat the next day. Once again, I noticed how cold and hard the tile floor is in the kitchen. My feet were already tired from going barefoot most of the day but I finished cleaning up and finally sat down around 9PM last night.

I cautiously looked at the bottom of my feet. They were dirty, but not too bad. My feet and my legs were aching and I was wishing for a foot massage. What if I had to go through this every day?

I have to agree that IT'S HARD WITHOUT SHOES. So today, I am going online and buying my first pair of TOMS shoes. My purchase will allow for one pair of shoes to be donated to a child in need. And I get a really cool, comfortable pair of shoes to wear. Now I just have to pick a color...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Day Without Shoes

I am going barefoot in my office today. I wore my black heels to work but they are now tucked away under my desk. Although I will slip them back on to walk to the bathroom or the company break room, most of my day will be spent barefoot.

Why? I am participating in the "One Day Without Shoes" awareness campaign. TOMS shoes started this campaign to spread awareness about how something as simple as a pair of shoes can impact a child's life. It is hard for me to imagine living a life without basic needs like food, shelter, and even shoes. So today I am taking off my shoes and choosing to experience what it would be like to worry about each step that I take without shoes. You might want to point out that it is pretty easy to walk around barefoot in my office, I have already found that the carpet is soft and I am not worried about my feet getting cold. So when I get home later this evening, I am going to take a walk around the neighborhood without shoes.

I think I am already inspired to buy a pair of TOMS shoes, because I know that my purchase will provide a pair of shoes for a child in need (as part of the One for One movement).

So if you are inspired, get barefoot with me today. You might get some strange looks but it is for a good cause.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Down with the Sickness...

Tallen had a virus two weeks ago, so I spent the night watching over him and praying for his fever to go down. He had gone to bed a little early (7 PM) but woke up at 11 PM with bright red cheeks and he was whimpering more than crying. 104.3. Seeing that temperature on the thermometer erased all thoughts of sleep from my mind and I shifted into crisis mode. Tylenol was dispensed and I gave him a lukewarm bath in the sink of my bathroom so his whimpering would not wake up Sophia. I rocked him for about an hour while he tried to find a comfortable spot in my arms, then we both gave up and I put him back in his crib. I spent the night lying on the floor of his bedroom so that I could jump up and feel his forehead every 30 minutes. I considered calling the doctor around 3 AM but from past experiences, I knew what she would tell me... Alternate Tylenol and Motrin, give him a bath, dress him in light clothing, offer him fluids and try to keep him comfortable.

By 5 AM his fever was below 100 so I crawled back in bed for about an hour of sleep. At the doctor the next day, she confirmed he had a cold (virus) and an ear infection. Awesome.

We tried to keep Sophia away from her brother but telling her not to touch him, kiss him, or play with his toys is useless. It's like putting a swing set in the backyard and then telling your child "Don't play on the swings! They are too dangerous." That child is going to go right for that swing. So when I told Sophia, "Don't touch his toys" she looked ran over and picked up his toy that he had just thrown on the floor and watched me as she slowly handed it back to him.

A few days later, Sophia started to complain that her tummy hurt. Her appetite disappeared and her eyes were red and itchy. I attributed it to allergies (springtime in Dallas) and gave her some Benadryl before bed. Instead of feeling better after a few days, she started running a fever so we caved and called the doctor. I hope they are sick of seeing my family in their office, because I am not excited that we make almost weekly appearances there. The diagnosis was strep throat, double ear infections, and a rash. They started her on antibiotics and said she would be contagious for the next 24 hours. Double awesome.

Two days later I was calling the doctor again about Tallen. I thought he might have the same rash as Sophia but HE WAS STILL ON ANTIBIOTICS so what could they really do for him at this point? The nurse said we could bring him in to make sure the antibiotics were working (excuse me, but isn't that they point of giving my child the medicine) and to see if his ears were clear. Other than the rash, he was a happy little boy so we waited. Actually what happened is Trey and I left the kids with his parents and took off for the weekend. We had scheduled a three day getaway to Austin and we NEEDED to go. Really bad. At this point, Trey had taken off five days from work to stay home with kids (and I took off one). I would like to take this time to explain that I work for a company that only allows ten days a year of personal time off (including sick time for your kids) while Trey runs his own business and makes his own schedule. I'm not a bad mom - he just has more flexibility than I do.

So we left town for approximately 48 hours. It was a wonderful, relaxing, stress-free, kid-less weekend. I highly recommend it to every married couple with small children. Get over the guilt and get away if you can.

When we walked in to pick up the kids on Sunday evening, Tallen looked up from where was playing on the floor and starting waving his arms with excitement. His smiled stretched across his face as he scrambled to his knees to crawl over to where I was standing. I picked him up and hugged him tightly. He wrapped both of his little arms around my neck, squeezed and did not let go for almost five minutes. I was over the moon.

Did I tell you that Tallen knows how to give hugs? He really does. He wraps those arms around you and pats with one hand. If you are really lucky, or if your name is Mama, he might even give you a loving, open mouth kiss. This was really sweet right up until he cut his first tooth a few weeks ago. Did I forget to mention that he cut his first tooth the same day he had a fever and had a virus? Triple awesome.

Sorry to say that we made our weekly appearance at the pediatrician on Monday. The crankiness set in with Tallen on Saturday night (yes we left a sick baby with his grandparents for the weekend and everyone survived). Apparently he has an ear infection in the OTHER ear. After a full 10 day treatment of antibiotics. Quadruple-freakin-awesome!

The best part is we have already scheduled our follow-up visit to the doctor next week. They want to check his ears again to make sure the new antibiotic that he started on Monday is working. We are scheduled to go out of town for Easter weekend and we would like to leave town AND RETURN with a healthy baby. Is that too much to ask?

By the way, Tallen has cut three new teeth in the past three weeks. His smile is so stinkin' cute now - I will try to get a picture soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fun Foto Friday

Sophia noticed my pedicure and decided she wanted her toes painted.

After her toes were polished, she was so happy that we matched!

I love spending special time with my little girl!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

An early morning cry in the dark

This morning Tallen woke me up with his cries around 5:30 AM. He could have been crying longer, but the monitor was turned down low and his cries did not penetrate my sleep. My alarm had just gone off and I had pushed snooze for the first of four times when I heard him whimpering in the distance. I had to push aside the fog of sleep and the urge to stay in bed. After actively listening for about two minutes, to determine if he was going to go back to sleep or work himself up into a full blown fury, I pulled the covers aside and got out of bed. I pushed to button on top of the baby monitor to illuminate the video screen and saw him standing in his bed. By the time I got to his room he was sitting again, but gnawing on the side of his crib bumper. I realized his two bottom teeth, which are still swollen bumps below his gums at this point, must be causing him some pain. After I changed his soggy wet diaper, I gave him some Tylenol. He sucked hungrily at the medicine dropper and cried when I took it away, so I knew he was hungry.

In the kitchen downstairs we both blinked at the brightness of the light, then looked at each other and giggled. There is something special about being the first two people awake in the morning. The stillness surrounds and buffers us from the realities of the world. Tallen watched as I prepared his bottle, waiting patiently for me to finish before he started grabbing for the nipple to chew on as I carried him back up the stairs to his room. I sat down in the soft yellow chair in the corner and put my feet up on the ottoman. He grabbed the bottle with both hands and brought it to his mouth, dripping a little bit of milk on his cheek. His long legs draped across my lap and his head rested in the bend of my left arm. With his left hand still holding his bottle, he reached up to touch my chin with is right hand. “Mama,” he was saying to me silently. I have a book of baby sign language and I have been showing him the sign for Mama. With my palm open, I tap my chin with the thumb of my right hand. “Mama,” I tell him. This morning his soft little fingers brush my skin before cupping my chin in his palm. It is a silent language of our own, something only the two of us understand. I lay by head back and closed my eyes as he slowly drank his bottle. After awhile, his sighs broke the stillness and told me he was almost finished. I turn my head down to gaze at him in the darkened room. My eyes had adjusted to small glow from the nightlight and I could make out his eyes that were drooping, the bottle smooshed up against his little nose, his shirt pulled halfway up exposing the white skin of his round belly. As soon as the bottle was empty he dropped it on the floor and rubbed his eyes. I sat him up, pulled him close to my chest and he laid his head on my shoulder. His breath began the slow and steady rhythm which meant sleep was near. After a few minutes I stood up, walked over to his crib and leaned over to lay him down. He stared at me silently for a few moments before he turned over on his stomach to sleep. I hated to turn and leave but the sun was coming up and it was time to start my day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My fear of the F-word (no not that one)

I often talk about my desire to be a writer, although by having a blog I guess I could qualify as a part-time writer. One of the things I often wonder about is why I never explored writing as a career path when I was younger. Looking back it would have made sense to be interested in writing, as I have always been an avid reader. Journaling has been a hobby that I started very young and still continue to do today. I even started a journal that I write to Sophia, that she can read when she is an adult so she can experience how it really felt for me to be her mommy. I really wish I could find the journals from my teenage years but I think they were lost when we sold our house after I graduated from high school. Those boxes were divided among storage spaces of our extended family and have never been found. Looking back I can see that writing should have been an obvious option, but only recently have I realized why I never pursued this path. It was quite simply my fear of Failure.

I have always set high expectations of myself and have been my most own harshest critic. In fact, I have always strived to be the best in all of my endeavors; academically, socially, and physically. In elementary school, I raced to finish a test or assigment during class. I took pride in being the first one to turn in my answers (and to get them all right). Once I got to middle school, I think I concentrated more on being the biggest flirt than on the best student – but still I was striving to be the best. In high school, I really put the pressure on myself to succeed. My academics were my first focus because I needed to get a scholarship if I wanted to go to college. I took advanced placement (AP) classes, became an officer in student government, joined the math and French clubs, was the editor of the yearbook, and studied hard to get good grades. Cheerleading was also a major part of my life growing up. I was a Varsity cheerleader from freshman to senior year and I tried out for All-American squad every year at cheerleading camp.

I had a need to succeed.

No only did I have this need, but I also needed to be recognized for my success. I wanted an A in every class, to be surrounded by friends, to be the best cheerleader on the team. Something as simple as cheering for my high school football games would lead to an inquisition for my mom afterwards. How did I look out there? Did I do my best? What could I do to improve? My report cards would be displayed with pride (only straight A’s were allowed). Anything less would be devastating – not to my parents, but to me. I got a B in gym class my freshman year of high school, as sports were not my area of expertise and we had been graded on our foul shots during that six weeks grading period. The fact that I can still remember that grade shows me how much the fear of failure shadowed my thoughts.

In fact, sports were an area with a huge potential for failure for me so I simply chose to not expose myself to that possibility. I refused to try most sports unless I knew I had a high potential to succeed. Cheerleading, gymnastics and dance were areas that excelled so they were the focus of my childhood, high school and college years. Softball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, and tennis were all sports that I feared. Basically any sport that involved a ball was, to me, a potential for a broken nose. I could not imagine letting anyone see me performing poorly, so I refused to even try. I think this fear held true for many of my decisions in late adulthood, it was not just limited to sports. I pursued a degree in engineering simply because I was told by my math teacher that I was good at math and science.

In the past few years, I have been attending the Arts and Letters Live series that is sponsored by the Dallas Museum of Art. During this time I have been able to listen to several accomplished authors speak about their books and their writing process such as; Anne Lamott author of Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith and Bird by Bird, Elizabeth Gilbert the author of Eat, Pray, Love, Sue Monk Kidd author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, David Wreblewski author of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (an Oprah’s book club selection) and just recently new authors Joshua Ferris & Adam Haslett.

These authors often talk about the pattern of failure that is necessary in the process of writing. It took a while for this to sink in for me, the concept that accomplished authors experienced failure on a daily basis before they reached success. I have also had to redefine my definition of success when it comes to writing. Originally, I only considered success as a writer in terms of writing a book and getting it published. And of course making some money in the process. My definition of success is much narrower now. I write because it captures the moments of my life for future reflection, it allows me to share my thoughts and experiences with family and friends, it is an outlet for my frustration, and sometimes it makes me happy.

Recently I told Trey that after years of trying to find contentment, happiness, success or whatever it was I was searching for in early adulthood… I think I have finally come to a place of contentment. My career is petroleum engineering is (re)established, I have a happy marriage and I have two beautiful kids. I have learned to stop searching for the next thing to make me happy and learned to find happiness in the little moments of each day. Of course this doesn’t mean that our life does not have its crazy, overwhelming moments. We have small children, so our life is loud and messy most of the time.

I am currently reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, where the writer took a year of her life to focus on twelve resolutions to improve her happiness. I’m sure that most people would agree that there are things each of us could change in our lives to make us happier. However, I also agree with the concept that Rubin endorses, that the journey is just as important as the goal. Growth in my everyday life is what should bring me joy.

That is why I have turned back to writing in recent years. It has always been a deep desire, but one that I was never willing to tackle. I would not take the risk because of my fear of failure. I guess now I have reached the realization that my enjoyment of the process overshadows my fear. And as many wise authors have recently shared, failure is part of the process of writing. Failure can actually make me a better writer if I am willing to grow as I learn from my mistakes. Motherhood has taught me this lesson well, failure will forever be a part of motherhood but it is still one of my greatest joys in life. So although I may still fight it, fear it, and let it find its way into my mind when I sit down to write - I have come to accept that it will be always there. Failure. I always hated that F-word. But I have decided that I will no longer let it keep me from writing.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Fun Foto Friday

"MAMA... MAMA... MAMA..."

This is how I found Tallen this week, standing on the other side of the door of the bathroom while I was getting ready for church. He was so proud that he learned how to pull up to standing, but I think he really needs to learn how to SIT DOWN on his own!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Fun Foto Friday

Hey Mom! Look at me driving!

Only sixteen years until I can do this legally!

Is it too soon to ask if I can borrow the car?