Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Confessions of a Libibliophobe

Have you ever done something for which you are completely and utterly ashamed? Every time you are reminded of the offense you get sick to your stomach? I am about to confess to you something along these lines.

I am really a book thief. I've been masquerading as a suburban wife and mother for the past several years to keep my library crimes hidden. I turned in a library book late. Before you say 'No big deal.'... like six years late. Worse? It was Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. In large print.

When my husband and I first married and moved into our new home and city, we both got library cards. I was so excited! (yes, I get excited about such things) If I remember correctly, I went back that same week and checked out a book, The Hiding Place, which in fact became the book. I never returned to the library again. (oh the shame!) I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but The Hiding Place became, well, hidden. For several years.

I wish I could say that I just uncovered it this past week, but no. (my cheeks are burning just typing this) I think I came across it during my pregnancy with Claire who is now almost two. Ouch. It was in a drawer. The guilt immediately descended on my body when I saw it. My inner dialogue went something like this: "I've got to return this book. But it's going to be a terrible ordeal and I am pregnant. But it's a library book! It's too far and I'm pregnant. But it's a library book that I stole borrowed! Remember, I'm pregnant? It's a library book...for the visually impaired. Then there is the whole public shaming in the library thing, the stocks, who knows! Pregnant people probably shouldn't return library books. I'll return it after I have the baby when things settle down (hahahahahaha! So naive.)." And no, to my knowledge I am not schizophrenic.

And I closed the drawer. Shameful.

I forgot about the book for a while until it made a brief appearance when we were getting ready to put our house on the market and baby number two was on his way. I added 'return long over due library book, save up for $5000 fine and remove speck giant log from my eye' to my long to do list. It didn't get checked off. The book went back in the drawer while we were showing the house, but I would think about it every now and then and yet it always seemed to be when the library was closed.

This was also about the time that I was uber pregnant, having a hard time getting around, chasing a one year old and preparing to move. There were no free moments, everything had a cost. Yet the book began to plague me. All I could think about was someone with very thick glasses running their finger across the books only to find it missing. For the last six years. Just call me Lady Macbeth.

I had Keaton and we decided to stay put in our house. I came across the book again. (insert shame here.) This is ridiculous. I obviously have a fear of returning an overdue book to the library. What is that even called? Libibliophobia? Worse, my neighbor across the street is a librarian and I was beginning to avoid making eye contact with her. Sin, even "little" sins weigh on you. I decided I would return the book that week.

After the kids went to bed, I headed to the library to turn myself in. No need for children to witness their mother's public shaming. I was a ball of nerves.

I half expected the Library's Most Wanted List with my mug on it to be on the bulletin board or for an alarm to sound the moment I walked through the doors.

Nothing happened. Maybe the library's bouncer was on break. Then I started getting paranoid.

Was that librarian staring at me? She's looking at the book. Does she have an ear piece? I swear she's talking into an ear piece, probably alerting the library crime squad of my presence. It's all over. Joey's going to have to bail me out of Library Jail.

Rather than have the library crime squad tackle me, I decided to go straight to the front desk. I got in line behind an elderly Indian gentleman who eased my stress considerably by surprising all of us with his inquiry as to when a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey would be available. And I thought I was going to surprise them - thank goodness for this guy!

It was my turn.

I was going to be really mature and classy about the whole thing and just tell them the truth. Before I even got to the desk, I started spilling my guts and groveling. Really, really I love books! I am a friend of the library, champion of literacy!

The guy behind the counter took the book and said "2009, huh?", turned to the seasoned librarian next to him and asked if she had received a returned book older than this one. Thankfully, she had - 1999. I asked him about the fine, prepared to write a big one. Ten dollars. Then he asked me if I wanted to renew my library card. What? You still trust me? I was expecting to have my license revoked and was mentally preparing to explain to my children why mommy couldn't take them to library story time until the year 2030.

Grace is a beautiful thing. The worse of it all was when the librarian said it was a shame that I hadn't been to the library to check out a book that whole time. Now, that was a burn. I felt like I just missed out on the last Book It sticker to earn a free personal pan pizza.

Why am I telling you all this? We all have our stuff that we hold onto because of fear. Sometimes it's silly like a library book and sometimes it's serious weighty stuff. But it's all extra weight. I just wanted to encourage you to just turn in the book. You'll feel so much better.

I'm sorry to Ms. Ten Boom, to have done such a disservice to her book and especially to those who needed the large print edition. You can add 'crimes to the visually impaired' to my list of offenses. I must also apologize to my Dad, who has visited the library weekly ever since I can remember and who has also probably never turned in a book late barring an Act of God or because he picked it up for me. And then yes, there is God, we've talked numerous times on this one.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Canadian Voodoo

About two months ago I opened our front door to find several gently used children's books on our porch. At first I was puzzled as to who would drop off books, but then I opened them.

I don't know what gave it away first - husky dogs, hockey, Inuit children or Parliament Hill. And then there was the maple leaf on the cover of one. It had to be our thoughtful Canadian neighbors. Don't you love people who love your children? It was so sweet of them to think of Claire.

Claire immediately wanted to read her new books. Two of the books are counting based, one with a map of Canada and one is a book about a Canadian goose. Most of the content is along the line of "There are six hockey pucks." She thought the hockey pucks were poop. It's an easy mistake.

She loved the books. We read them several times throughout the day. I added them to the bookshelf and called it a day. Like most of her books, I figured she would cycle through these over the next few days since they were new and then they would most likely fall in with the rest of the books on our reading rotation. Not so.

These books have some crazy Canadian powers. One in particular, "the red one", we read at least once daily. She's started "reading" in her crib before she falls asleep and asks that "the red one" is in the bed with her during naps and at bedtime. Or "Goose", the one about the Canadian goose (not to be confused with "Duck and Goose", a delightful tale about a duck and goose who team up to find a pumpkin.)

Claire has been calling black birds "loons" and there's a good chance that she thinks football players play "hockey". She loves me to tell her the name of each Canadian province on the map. She's Canadian obsessed.

This may be why she also loves a book entitled 'Snow'. We like to read practical literature around our house - content that can be put into every day use around the streets and suburbs of Houston, Texas.

I feel the need to get her a few books with American symbols and maps just so she doesn't become disappointed when she finds out that she is not Canadian. And I better not tell her about their bacon. The girl loves bacon and she doesn't need to know that they have a variety all of their own.

In the meantime, I'm brushing up on my knowledge of Canadian provinces - every day - several times a day. Eh?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

We Welcome You To Munchkin Land

At about 3 months after having Keats I felt like we were finally out of the Infant/Going From One Baby to Two Babies Coma. A few reasons for this:

For starters, we started getting sleep. We got a whole lot more sleep with Keaton during the first month than we did with Claire and overall we shouldn't even complain as both kids slept through the night fairy early. Shh...please don't tell anyone this. I know, there are some 12 year olds who still aren't sleeping through the night and there are so many parents who aren't getting ANY sleep. I am so sorry to bring up the 'S' word. I know it's a painful topic for many. Plus, I don't want any of these folks to kill me in my...not even going to say it. Seriously, I think water boarding may be a lesser form of torture than no sleep.

Talk about a game changer. One does crazy things without sleep. You may almost take a swig from your child's bottle out of delirium...and not know the difference. You may fight about ridiculous things with your spouse like what's the best way to stir a bottle - clockwise or counter clockwise. You may find non-perishables in the refrigerator...like toothpaste. Like I said, things get crazy. Coffee can only do so much.

You know that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opens the door to Munchkin Land and everything turns from black and white to technicolor? That's how it feels the first time your baby sleeps through the night. 'Whoa! The world is beautiful! Has that water always been blue? Those are some ruby red slippers! Wait, that flower is really a munchkin's hat? What?!' I've watched the Wizard of Oz one too many times. I hope you have too because if not, that munchkin line may be a little strange for you. I can't help it, I never miss a good munchkin reference.

Keaton has been in his own room for close to two months now. We moved Claire into her room and crib a little after her one month milestone. We took longer with Keaton simply because we didn't want him to wake his sister in the next room if he woke up 3:00AM.

Do I love looking over at my sleeping baby next to me in his sleeper in the middle of the night? Yes, of course! Do I also like being able to sleep soundly through the night and if I happen to wake, look at my sweet sleeping babies in the monitor? Why yes, yes I do! Either way, I still get to look at my sleeping baby, but the second option gets us all better sleep and the odds of the toothpaste being in the fridge are a little lower.

There are a few other side benefits of moving Keats into his own room. Joey and I literally could not hear each other talk over the multiple sound machines located at each "sleep station" around the house. And at night we had one sound machine in our room for Keaton and Claire's sound machine blared over the monitor which we cranked up to hear over the in-room machine. Confused yet? We needed walkie talkies just to speak to each from one side of the bed to the other. 'What?! You want to go to the zoo? It's 11:00 at night! Oh...I love you too.' And heaven forbid the electricity blink out, startling us all awake with the default heartbeat setting. (Who uses that one anyway? It makes me feel like I'm in a horror film and brings my stress level up 500 notches.)

Another awesome thing is that I am no longer a hobo when it comes to getting ready. Prior to Keaton sleeping in his own room, one child was always sleeping near the place where you needed to shower or dry your hair. There was no safe zone. It was chaos getting ready. I couldn't remember where I left anything because I may have showered in the guest bathroom, dried my hair in the hallway, put on makeup in my bathroom and brushed teeth in the kitchen. It was the progressive dinners of getting ready. This may not bother some people, but I felt like I was losing my mind and all too often, my hairbrush.

We're also starting to settle into a semi-routine. I am learning how to juggle the schedules of a four month old and an almost two year old. Our house is beginning to look less like a bunch of babies had an all night frat party. For someone who craves order, this really helps my every day sanity. There are things that are still a whip, like getting out of the house and the bath/bed routine, but I feel like we have our head above water most of the time now. From what I can tell, there will always be tough stuff in each stage. We just started Keaton on solids and potty training for another someone is just around the corner (maybe, I'm still building up my own courage).

I have loved the last four months (Who am I kidding? I've been in a coma for the past year! Pregnancy does that to you.), but I am super excited about everything on the horizon. It's so much fun to have two kids in different stages because it doubles the excitment. One of them is always doing something fun. I wouldn't trade one sleepless night or coffee induced wake time for this. They make everything full of life and color and really, sometimes it's practical and doubly refreshing to keep your toothpaste in the fridge.

Friday, June 26, 2015

I Don't Know My Social and My Name is Epidural {Keaton's Delivery}

It's funny, despite delivering a baby roughly 18 months prior to having Keaton, I still forgot what to expect. Ok, I knew a lot more going into this delivery, but couldn't for the life of me remember what the days were like last time leading up to labor.

'Braxton Hicks versus real contractions'...I can't tell you the number of times I Googled this for BOTH pregnancies. 'Signs that you're in labor' - that was another one of my Google favorites. I really had few signs last time until my water broke. I didn't have to go through the wondering whether or not I was in labor and last time I assumed I would be right at my due date or after with a first baby. Instead, I was ten days early. This time I was afraid I was going to miss the cues. In my opinion (at least having had two kids), labor is not like remembering how to ride a bike. It's more like you know you're going get on something that will take you to the end point, you just don't know what kind of transportation you'll be using. Sure, it could be a bike like last time, but it could easily be a jet...or roller skates. You could have to hitchhike. I'm super analytical. Can you tell?

We were supposed to induce that Monday, a week before my due date, because of his size. He measured three weeks ahead for much of my pregnancy and with my history of previous gestational diabetes and Claire having been 8.6 pounds at ten days early, the doctor was thinking he would be at least a ten pounder if we waited until my due date. Turns out she was right.

My water broke again this time and a week early on Sunday. However, instead of a 6AM wake up call it was a 12:30AM alarm. What a difference this made! Instead of having a full night's sleep, we began labor on sleep fumes. Thankfully, my parents were already staying at our house that weekend and my mother-in-law came in a few days prior as well. Claire was well taken care of and we didn't have to worry about last minute preparations for her. This had been a big concern of mine. We made it to the hospital thirty minutes after my water broke, also completely different. Last time I got up and showered, shaved my legs, fixed my hair, put make up on, did a little online shopping...you get the picture. During my last several appointments my doctor stressed that we needed to get to the hospital immediately because of how progressed we were. I took this very seriously for a few different reasons.

First off, I wanted the epidural. This was a driving force for me. My pain tolerance isn't the best. I admire all you ladies who can labor for two days naturally, but I had to call uncle. Last pregnancy I got the epidural around a 7 and thank heavens because I didn't have the baby for seven more hours. It allowed me to rest and prepare for delivery instead of run into a wall to knock myself out. Mascara, clean hair, brushed teeth...these were all secondary concerns. I went into Operation Get Epidural mode. (P.S. I did brush my teeth)

And then there is the whole I-Don't-Want-My-Husband-to-Deliver-My-Baby-in-the-Car thing. Or at home. Again, kudos to those who have had home births. I second the words of Prissy from Gone With the Wind. "Miss Scarlett, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!". Beyond putting a kettle of hot water on to boil, getting clean towels and some twine, I really wouldn't have a clue. (I may have watched too much Little House on the Prairie growing up and I don't think my husband has ever watched any so we would have really been in a bind. What if we couldn't find the twine?)

We peeled into the hospital parking lot. Parked and ran (ok, waddled) to the door. It was locked. A gracious person walking by told us we had to go around to the back. Last time we just walked in through the front door. We made it to the ER entrance to check in. I think I made everyone in the waiting room uncomfortable. By this time the contractions were getting pretty serious. They were coming very close together and strong so I was breathing like Darth Vadar on steroids. Every question they asked me I wanted to say 'Epidural, yes'.

After what felt like an eternity, they brought me a wheel chair and took me to the delivery room. Apparently, that night they had several women show up in labor. A lower pressure front moved in and everyone's water broke. The nurses seemed surprised that I was at a 7. Yeah, no kidding. Our main nurse also said that this was the lowest carrying of a baby at this point - whatever that means. Again, wasn't news to me. I was ready to have this baby and had been for a while.

Things were a whirl in the room and a nurse was asking me for things like my social security number and date of birth - over and over as it was mistakenly deleted after she typed it in - over and over. Were they going to ask me to walk a straight line next? I wanted to yell "Can't you see I'm having a baby here? I don't know my social and my name is Epidural!". Instead, I answered each question obediently through gritted teeth and Darth Vadar breaths. After all, these were the people with the meds.

That's when I heard it. My ears must have been tuned into the word. The nurses were off to the side in discussion and I overheard them say "I don't think she's going to be able to get the epidural in time." Joey told me later that he heard them say it too and he didn't have the heart to tell me. Wise man. I was in full on denial, kept asking for it and they said they were waiting on my labs to come back. I was trying to stay calm in between tracker jacker contractions, but all I could think was that it's going to get worse and wondering if anyone has passed out from pain during labor. Like I said, I was trying to stay calm and focused.

Maybe it was because I looked completely desperate or maybe they didn't think I was going to make it, but the the guy with the meds made a Superman appearance even though my lab results never did. I would imagine many a woman in labor would kiss that guy if she didn't have to remain stone still while the epidural was being injected. (It's amazing how you can make yourself sit still through a contraction when you know you are getting an epidural) And this time the epidural worked on both sides immediately. Sweet relief.

It was all gravy after that. Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but at least I had time to catch my breath for an hour or so before pushing. I also was able to calm down and think about what we were there for - meeting our sweet boy. We had Keaton within around three hours of arriving at the hospital. The nurses were all surprised at how big he was.

I remember hearing his robust cries and felt so relieved and happy. He's here and he's ok. They gave him to me and I was completely smitten. I got more skin-to-skin time with him than I did Claire. I think they took her away to get cleaned up pretty quickly. They let him stay with me as long as I wanted. It was a sweet time.

I just remember thinking about it in that moment and taking it all in - at least as much as I could grasp. This little person - has been inside me for the past nine months. This person didn't exist nine months ago. And then they just did and feel like they always have existed. It's crazy. It's overwhelming. It's all worth it. So worth it.

Friday, June 19, 2015

About A Boy

Until April 26th, only one boy has ever had my heart. And now there are two. One is 6'4, tall, dark and handsome. The second, had my heart while he was only 9.5 lbs and 20.25 inches long. It was love at first sight - or even better - love at first breath.

Keaton came a week early (for which I'm so thankful - see 9.5 lbs above) at 4:31 AM, April 26th. My heart melted and somehow grew all at the same time. You know that question you have in your mind as a parent of one - wondering how it could be possible to love another child just as much as your first? Yup, what they say is true. It just happens. You know the minute you hear or see that little one that instead of splitting, your heart will expand. "And the Grinch's heart grew three sizes that day." That's how it's been falling in love with my husband, my daughter and now my son - more love than I would ever think my heart would be capable of holding. God's design for our physical hearts is one of beauty and resilience, but the abilities of the intangible heart blow my mind.

He looks so much like his big sister did when she was born with two exceptions. His hair has a strawberry blond tint and his skin seems to be more fair. His eyes are blue right now, but we will see which color they land on over the next couple of weeks. This kid has some hands and feet! The nurses kept commenting on his feet and one even made an extra footprint for us because she said she thought we would want to have it. Footie pajamas are out of the question unless we cut holes for the toes.

We were in newborn clothes for a day or two when we got home, but then I realized they weren't fitting him. I then did the same thing with three month clothing. And then I finally woke up to realize my infant looked like a body builder who wears shirts a size smaller than necessary. At eight weeks he is wearing six month clothing and it's snug. At this rate, will probably be in six-nine months tomorrow.

Keats is the sweetest thing. This little guy seems to be laid back. I'm pretty sure it's in his nature, but then again he has to be with a 20 month old big sister "showing him the ropes". He's also a snuggler. So fun! He stops crying the moment you hold him. He smiles all the time and holds his head up very well. You know, I would call his smile more of a grin. It's so cute! He rolled over from tummy to back the today, but I'm unsure if it was a fluke. He is also such a grunter. By this I mean he's rarely quiet, even when sleeping and makes grunting noises constantly. You would think he was climbing Mount Everest or competing in an Iron Man event.

He slept six straight hours last night. Good morning! It really was. Getting several consecutive hours of sleep is such a game changer. We will see if he keeps it up.

I have a feeling the picture above may be a good example of their relationship. Claire loves him so much and Keats loves her enough to take hair in the face. There is something about watching your kids love each other that makes your heart swell. She calls him "Keat-Keat" and asks for him first thing in the morning. She pats her little hand beside her to indicate that she wants Keat-Keat to sit next to her. This could be on the changing table, high chair or in the bathtub. Needless to say, Keat-Keat is not always able to comply with his big sister's demands. We've also found out that infants are not big fans of pretzels by a similar scenario. Claire "helps" burp and feed her little brother at times. The latter brings to mind the phrase "force feeding", but it's still sweet. Claire embraces the idea of sharing is caring and piles all of her favorite stuffed animals and pillows on her brother. She also has an ear out for her brother's cries at all times. He will be napping and she'll run up to me saying "Baby crying". I'll say "Baby Keaton is sleeping." and literally a second later there he goes. Baby crying. I'm not sure if she's in tune with him or he's in tune with her.

This little guy is precious and is so loved. And then there were two...