The mother I could be

I am not always the mother that I could be.

For example. Sometimes I do an awful lot of couch-cushion parenting. I know better, I know that very little (if any) quality parenting has ever been accomplished sitting down. I know that repeating myself just dulls the message, that raising my voice doesnt actually make it any easier for a toddler to hear. But sometimes? Sometimes you can find me saying over and over (and over) again to "get OFF the table, please", instead of just getting up and removing him from said table. Sometimes I even make idle threats...thus ruining my constancy as a disiplinarian.

And sometimes I just clean all the toys at naptime. I know better than that too. I know I should always take the extra time to do it with Zeke, I know by taking the easy way to a cleaner house I am depriving him of gaining innumerable lessons (organization, self sufficiancy, pride of ownership, problem solving) not to mention teaching him that messes get magically cleaned up by someone else if ignored. But some afternoons I'd rather do the 5 minute job than the half-hour one.

Sometimes when trying to get out the door in the morning I yell, I yank, and I am all-around impatient. I know that toddlers have a hard time transitioning from one activity to the next. I know that they take lightyears to get their coat on, that they absolutely MUST do it themselves, and that socks have to be put on just so (and that "just so" can be a fickle beast, requiring numerous tries). I know that if we are late it's because I didnt plan enough time to get ready, not because Zeke is trying to be onery. But I still get impatient...I still sometimes yank and I still sometimes yell. I am ashamed, yet I do it.

I know it will be missed, and that it's precious, and that it's priceless...I know it's an opportunity for so much teaching and so much bonding...but some nights when I make dinner I sigh when Zeke pulls up his chair to help me.

When I leave something down that I shouldnt have and it creates a mess/gets broken I sometimes blame the babe instead of myself.

I could go on and on. And other times its different. But just so you know, sometimes I reaaly am not the mother I could be.

And suddenly he grows up

This week I am realizing that my little baby (well my biggest little baby) is grown up.

Evidence #1: He has switched completely over to big boy cups at meals. As in NO LIDS. We're still using tippie cups when we are out of the house (obviously) and often I can get him to still use one for his water between meals but more often then not he is even insisting on a real cup then too. And you know what? We havent spilled all week. Well take that back, I knocked one over with my elbow the other day at lunch. Zeke promptly got a rag and mopped it up for me saying "its ok, its ok".

Evidence #2: Zeke doesnt move into our bed anymore in the mornings. As long as he doesnt have a nightmare he stays in his bed straight until 7am when he runs to us yelling "Hi!". I have to say...I miss my sleepy early morning cuddles. My son is finally fully night trained and I would pay 100 bucks to have him waking up again :(

Evidence #3: Just watching him play with Preton...
I dont care how often I read that toddlers their age dont actually play together, they just play side by side. Because turning 2 and 3 respectively this summer, those boys are playing TOGETHER. There is back and forth, there is cooperationg (usually when getting into something naughty). Preston is the obvious ringleader, due not only to his advanced age but to personalities...but I dont think anyone watching would call it side by side play.

Kim and I were reminiscing (right before this check out what's in the fridge episode, in fact) about the summer we became freinds and how Zeke was a teeny little newborn and Preston a barely-toddler. How time has passed! And before we know it they will be off to kindergarten! Its so easy looking at this picture of them to imagine them as gangly 12 year olds doing the exact same broad shouldered men...

Be still my beating heart!

At least I have my Malachi. He wont go and grow up on me...right?

Lol, Zeke just announced that he is daddy, put his coat on (backwards) and told me "bye! kiss kiss! I work!"

Dont judge us

This game wont come back to haunt us at all...

A Month

I cant believe its already been a month. I also cant believe Mal has managed to outgrow his brother, but at 12 1/2 pounds...and over 25 inches, it seems to be true.

Malachi is doing beautifully. Im afraid there might be some small food sensitivity, he has gas at times and the stinkiest diapers EVER. So far Ive eliminated milk, soy, gassy veggies (like broccoli), and nuts with no difference. Right now Im on tomatoes. Also I gave up chocolate for lent. He seems a bit better (maybe?) so we will see what happens when I reintroduce tomato later this week, and gorge on chocolate on Easter. If its not those either I dont even know what to try next and might just give up. It doesnt seem to bother him terribly but he's such a low-key baby I'm not sure how much he'd let us know even if it was bothering him.

But yes, Mal is about the happiest and quietest kid you can imagine. As long as he's in mommy's arms that is. But that is where babies belong anyways so I dont mind too much. He loves mommy and he loves brother Zeke...daddy...not so much. Zeke also went thru a short mommy-only phase, and it really really hurt Josh's feelings and injured his confidence in his fathering abilities. This time around he just shrugs his shoulders, babies will be babies after all. It probably also helps that Zeke thinks Josh is pretty much a god.

He is holding his head up now, and I'm starting to do tummy times with him. He will do it for 10 or so minutes as long as either Zeke or I lay on the ground with him. He's also doing active, awake runs of a good 3 or 4 hours which our new pediatrician is absolutely thrilled about. She was pretty thrilled about everything Mal does ;) which guaranteed her continuity as our pediatrician. I refuse to employ doctors that dont see my children's inherent genius, lol.

I was actually sad to see Dr Morgan go, Ive never had any issues with him in the last year and a half and I know I'm a sometimes obnoxious patient that argues just about every procedure. He always let me go my own way, however, and I appreciate that. But he's not on the provider list of our new insurance, which means our co-pay doubles.

This new woman is wonderful though. WONDERFUL. A. like Dr Morgan she supports that I home-birth, that I partial-immunize, that I dont circumcise, that I use antibiotics only as a last resort, and that I'm controlling Zeke's vesicoureteral reflux homeopathically, as well as refusing all the x-rays that are "regular procedure". That in itself is hard to find. But she also B. comes to your house!!! and C. Is knowledgeable about breastfeeding (which Dr Morgan was all...the man said some stupid things). I don't really expect a pediatrician to come to my house or to know anything about breastfeeding (especially a male pediatrician). But honestly, the two are so soo very nice I think maybe I should.

Zeke is also doing well. I havent picked up any toys with him in a week because he only plays in the kitchen and backyard now. He will play outside all day if I let him (and if it wasnt still pretty cold I probably would) and now cooks every meal with me, plus a few pretend ones in between. He is a master at measuring, pouring, and stirring, let me tell you.

He's also been having some awful awful nightmares lately. We arent sure what to do about them. We've always been careful not to let him watch any upsetting TV or video games so we also arent sure where they are coming from. He will just be screaming and screaming in his sleep "ahhh! no! no! noooo!" and then wake up hysterical in his bed and crying out for daddy. Either that or running into our room at full speed.

We've been comforting him as well as we can, and then he spends the rest of the night in bed with us literally clinging to Josh like his life depends on it but I wish there was more that we could do. I try to talk to him about it in the morning but since he's still pretty much pre-verbal I dont know if he really gets it or not. Any advice?

I want me a wife

Let me start right off the bat with a disclaimer that I've never actually seen the tv show Big Love. I dont have cable and I dont watch much TV...I watch House obsessively, The Office when I get the chance, and Josh and I are still wading thru the first season of Mad Men on DVD (we have been at it for months at the pace of about 1 episode a month, lol). So even if I DID have cable I'd probably never manage to get thru the first season.

But from my understanding its about a man with 3 wives. And let me tell you that other than the whole sharing a husband thing, that sounds to me like a really amazing idea. (And to be honest there are certain nights when I wouldnt mind pimping Josh out in order to get some help around here) I heard somewhere (and I cant place where exactly so it may not be true) that in the show each wife has her own house and then their backyards all connect. Totally awesome, although sharing a house would cut down on cleaning....

This obsession of mine began when I read a back article in Mothering Magazine about generational housing (kids, parents, and grandparents all in one house). It stewed for a while there, the idea. Then in the latest Mothering there was another article about the same thing, and a family that was purposfully building a house with 2 small apartments attached for the grandparents. That brought it back to the forefront of my mind, and right after my mother in law had left her week-long visit to help with Mal.

Before kids, the idea held absolutely no magic for me. But after kids...just think of the support! Someone else to hold a baby for a little while, someone else to do the dishes for once, someone else to talk to during those long hours with only children under 2 for company!! And family would really be the best because you have to love eachother, its the rules.

Alas I have no parents, parents in laws, or siblings that would be willing to come to spokane and live with me. Lame.

So my next idea was a commune! I will start a commune! We will go slightly outside of city limits and raise our children all together, homeschooling together, and making meals together, and have a joint garden!! And we wont force anyone to wear creepy amish-like clothing either! Unfortunately Josh doesnt think he's cut out for commune life. I am still talking to him about it but I might have to put the idea on a back-burner until he dies or something...

But then I learned about Big Love. And after much thought I had to throw out the idea of polygamy...but I could still force/cajole some freinds into buying houses adjacent to mine. The one next door is already empty...

What should probably be a few different blog posts

I forgot about this picture until I found it on my camera today. My dad made Zekey a robot costume while my parents were visiting a while back. He played with it constantly for about a week, at which point it was destroying in a failed attempt to use it as a slide.
Thank the heavens for 3 day weekends. I was able to fit in not only one on one time with each of my boys but even one on one time with my husband (I very cleverly pushed Zeke's entire day's schedule an hour ahead on Valentines day, which resulted exactly as planned with in him in bed asleep at 7:30 none the wiser and the two of us able to enjoy a nice romantic dinner with just a newborn in arms...and since Mal went to bed himself around 9 we even then got *gasp* alone time). Josh also got one on one time with each of his sons this weekend. Zekey enjoyed this so much that when Mal fell asleep and I went to join the two of them for their joint nap Zeke pushed me off the bed and told me "no". I went and slept on the couch.

Now that I think about it, not only did I get one on one time with each of the 3 men in my life, I even got an hour completely and totally to myself, my first in over a month. My Valentines gift from Josh was the ability to take a baby-free bath (and also a surprise flower delivery, though I had said no "real" gifts this year). Josh got the above mentioned romantic dinner, as well as the delicious velvet cake balls that Zeke was kind enough to help me make.

Zeke is my little helper in all things. Especially in cooking and dishes. Its amazing how having a newborn in the house serves as a reminder of how much Zeke has grown and developed. It has only made us closer. Its funny how I've taken for granted the way I can talk to him now, and how much that he understands. I often feel like Zeke is my little partner more than a plain dependent. He can grab me a diaper and wipes for the baby, or help me set the table for dinner, and often he gets to Malachi and comforts him with binky or soft touch or turning on the vibration in his chair before I can.
He is growing up in so many ways. Not only does he have his face and body parts, the hand motions to all of our nursery songs, counting to 3, and all the animals and their sounds down pat but I recently discovered that he knows all his colors as well. For a long time I've thought that he just knew the colors yellow and red but he picked a colors book from the library this week and went on to name them all (poo-purl was my personal favorite). I guess next I will have to start on his ABC's, which I am sad to admit I have done nothing with because of my sheer overwhelment with the idea of teaching someone to read.

His intelligence is almost scary at times. Especially during those "he is always listening" moments, like when I mention to Josh that we need to go to the grocery store today and suddenly we notice Zeke putting on his shoes and coat. Or when he learns to open YET ANOTHER kind of child safety lock. Its a good thing that Im not huge into child-proofing and a great thing that I keep very few toxic cleaners in the house, because that kid breaks into any child proofed container after a few hours of studying. I have resorted to all of my non-homemade cleaners being kept in the basement (he loves to clean so much that these are irresistible to him) and not allowing Zeke to even look at child safely locks anymore.

I just finished the book The Highly Sensitive Child. It was recommended by a friend who read it and immediately thought of my Ezekiel. It was good timing for me because I have been thinking alot about the balance of nature vs nurture lately.

As in, Zeke is very sensitive. Im not talking about emotionally sensitive, by the way, although that is part of it, but sensitive to outside stimulus. For example he thrives off of a predictable schedule and an uncluttered environment, he is overwhelmed by loud and/or crowded places, he is easily upset by tense or dramatic TV, while he is very adaptable in the long run he is slow to accept new situations and people, ect. How much of that is nature (ie that is the way he was born) or nurture (that is the way he was raised).

The book's stance is that most of it is nature, and that 15% of people are born highly sensitive. It goes on to describe and explain what high sensitivity is and how it works and give tips on how to handle this in your child, as well as point out the wonderful things about this, lets admit it, sometimes frustrating personality trait. The best part of the book for me, however, is just the reassurance that its probably nature. Being highly sensitive myself (I also hate loud noise, thrive off of schedule, cant stand clutter, always overwhelmed, and cant watch horror movies, tear jerkers, or CSI-type TV) I've always been slightly afraid that I created this monster. Well, I guess either way I did but at least I did it genetically and not by poor parenting. ;)

The book has a great chapter on the 9 temperament traits. The Positive Discipline series also goes into that and while I totally recommend any of the Positive Discipline books, this book xplains them a lot better. The 9 temperament traits are the kind of thing that I just eat up, although I fully realize their uselessness. If you know who your child is, and the way they are, what is the real use in putting a label on it? But anyone that does Facebook quizes totally understands the draw.

Anyways, Zeke is up so I better jet.
But real quick, before I forget, at the grocery store an elderly lady said to Josh and I "He's very friendly isnt he?" reffering to Zeke. Let me assure you, I love my child, I love his sensitivity and there are so soo many great things that come from it. But one thing that has come from it is the fact that that no one, NO ONE, has ever EVER called Zeke friendly. Ever. There has never been any reason to. He is so very shy and so very untrusting of strangers that his typical response to them is either hiding or glaring.

Yet she called him friendly...because he WAS.

Josh and I literally walked 4 more steps and then did a happy dance.


What kind of a world would we live in, I wonder, if parents treated their children with the respect that they give to any stranger.

Ive just heard people say the absolute stupidest, meanest, most unthoughtful stuff to their kids lately. Its almost as if we dont realize that they are people too and deserve the same basic decency as everyone else.

Think about it. If your spouse falls down you dont tell them "You're fine, get back up." You ask if they are ok, you go to help them up. If your friend is having a rough day and overreacts to some situation you don't tell her "Well someone is cranky today arent they?" No, you give her the emotional support she needs, you listen to her vent a bit. If you are upset at a co-worker's or employee's behavior you dont call him out in front of everyone, you discuss it in private.

I know that kids are kids, and that we are adults, and that because of that we are on a level above them in a way. But still, I think the world might be a little better if maybe we gave a little respect. Little things like not embarrassing them by sharing information you know they dont want shared, asking their thoughts on the little things that affect their life so much, treating their emotions as real, their opinions as valid.

Just think how amazing it felt as a child when an adult listened to you, I mean really listened to you as if you had something to say that was worth hearing. Maybe it shouldnt have felt so amazing...maybe that's just the way it should be.

Anyways, Im working on red velvet cake balls for V-day so I better run (I was going to make petite fours and then decided it was WAY too much work, if you have 5 hours or so I cant recommend this recipe enough but unfortunately I don't have that kind of time this year).

Keep your eyes out for some future posts I want to do on Zeke's newest talents (including knowing his colors!!) and my newest obsession with wanting a "sister-wife" Big Love syle (honestly the whole sharing Josh thing is mattering less and less in mine eye...)

A Mal post

The way Mal curls his body into mine is a lovely reminder that I am very literally home to him. My body, its distinct temperature, scent, and rhythm was his home for a long 9 months and a few weeks will not, cannot, change that. I am soaking up every second of it because a few short months can and will.

It is so rare that Zeke crawls into my arms these days. And even when he does that sense of folding, almost melting, into one is no longer there. Zeke's body no longer remembers what it means to be one, even if mine does. And even though my body does remember, his weight and the way his suddenly oh so long limbs overwhelm my enveloping arms, spilling over in all directions, reminds me that time has passed.

It passes so quickly.


Friday was our first really bad day around here. Zeke was having one of those days. One of those days where he just could. not. behave. It quickly escalated into me having one of those days. One of those days where I just can. not. be. patient. The mixture of which resulted in poor Malachi having his first one of those days. He soaked up all the tension and stress in the house, not to mention the screaming (I will admit both Zeke and I were screaming at times) and could. not. sleep.

By the time Josh walked into the door I had Zeke locked in his room, crying, Mal in the swing, crying, and I was in the kitchen attempting to make dinner and you guessed it, crying. It was my first anxiety attack in maybe a year.

One thing that having Mal has taught me is how truly not normal my hormonal response to having Zeke was. I have always been prone to anxiety and obsessive compulsiveness. I have known these terms, and that I have a tendency toward them, since early high school. You would think I would have recognized, therefore, what was happening. But still, in those early weeks and months after Zeke was born it was all too easy to ignore the signs that something was wrong. Or to shrug them off. Or to tell myself it was just me being me. Or that postpartem anxiety was MORE than what I was experiencing, that I was blowing things up and making a mountain out of normal mommy behaviors.

But it wasn't normal. Everytime he cried I would go into a full panic attack. Sweating, beating heart, racing thoughts, panic. Every time. And Zeke cried a LOT as a baby. I checked his breathing hourly, if not more, all night long. I thought about SIDS 24/7. I raced around the house all day. I couldnt sit, I couldnt be at home, I had to be doing doing doing all the time. Almost daily I broke down into obsessive worry about some little thing.

And partly because I thought it was normal, and partly because I knew it wasnt normal and was ashamed, I told no one.

A friend of mine recently blogged about the postpartem depression she experienced after the birth of her second child. Her honesty in admitting what she went thru inspired me to admit my own battle with postpartem anxiety. Ivory linked to this amazing article about the signs of postpartem depression as well as postpartem anxiety, and I will do the same.

Its just so easy to shrug the warning signs off. Its simple to pretend that everything is ok, out of fear, out of shame, out of simply not understanding that its not.

But please. Dont.

Mindfulness as a Momma of 2

Ive written before about my goal of mindfulness and my related hatred of multi-tasking. Mindfulness, to me, is basically being conscious at all times (or as much as I can be) of what I am doing and why I am doing it. I try to eat with mindfulness, actually tasting and experiencing what I put in my mouth. I try to raise my boys with mindfulness, conscious of what I am saying, what I am doing, and what I want them to gain out of it. I cook and shower and clean all with a mindfulness towards what I am doing. It is difficult to explain, I suppose. But too often we race thru life and never stop to EXPERIENCE. The simplest moments can be full of so much grace and beauty. Multi-tasking makes it almost impossible to experience or enjoy what you are doing. And so I have long waged a war against it.

Yet I have found this week that multi-tasking is unfortunately a fact of life as a mother of 2 children under the age of 2. There have been definite moments where my goal has not been mindfulness so much as survival.

I realized this the other day as I nursed Malachi while wearing him in a sling, read Zeke (perched precariously on the counter) a book (thank the Lord I've memorized most of his books), and made dinner (which is in itself multi-tasking...baking bread, stirring soup, fixing a salad) all at once. I wasn't thinking about any of it. Or more correctly I was thinking about ALL of it, which left me no room to experience any of it.

But I am learning to enjoy those moments in their own way. Because, after all, they are only moments. Another time I will be able to nurse Mal in quiet and gaze into his eyes as he gazes into mine. I will think about all my hopes and dreams for him and I will breathe in the scent of him and know that this time together like this is so sooo short. And next time I read to Zeke I will have the time to relish in his questions and in his comments and wonder at how smart he is getting and laugh at all our inside jokes and point at the particular bunny that we always always point to. Another night I will perhaps make dinner in peace and I will enjoy the sticky resistance of the bread dough and the beautiful color and crispness of the carrots I am shredding for the salad and enjoy the deep aroma of the soup boiling on the stove. I will be able to stop to be thankful for the blessing of so much good food, and I will think about how this nightly service of dinner-making so wonderfully represents my love for my family.

Of course on yet another night I will be sticking a pacifier in Mal's mouth to get him to wait 5 more minutes and plop Zeke in front of some cartoons only to realize we are out of some essential ingredient and then call Josh to pick up a pizza on his way home from work. But that is ok. They are only moments. And its in the most hectic of moments, I'm finding, that a split second of mindfulness brings the most joy.

Amid all the chaos that night I had just a second, a tiny second, where I had the clearness of mine to think "I can do this. I AM doing this. My days will never be so joyfully hectic again."

I will miss you Doritos dipped in sour cream

Like most women I keep quite a few different sizes of pants around. There is the size I actually wear most of the time. Then there is the size that I like to call the "day after" pants. As in what I wear the day after Thanksgiving, the day after my period starts, and the day after I decide I seriously need to stop dipping my Doritos in sour cream and calling it lunch (or even better, first lunch). Those pants have just a tad bit more forgiveness, if you know what I mean. Then of course there is the mandatory pair of pants that I will never actually fit into again but I still hang on to. In my closet this is a size 6 skinny jean that I swear to God my skeleton couldn't wear. I've had 2 children 9 pounds and hips are forever wider then they were in high school.

(Maybe unlike most women I also have an amazing bra collection ranging in sizes 32C all the way to 36F stored under my bed. I could start a Victoria Secret franchise under there if I didn't have to keep them all because who the heck knows where I will settle out in the end.)

But anyways, among all these pants in various sizes there are the jeans that I find myself wearing today. I keep meaning to throw them all away. I swear to myself that I wont ever need them again. But I do. I always do. I would have gotten rid of them if I wasn't too afraid of the possibility that I would have to go thru the embarrassment of buying more.

I am sad to admit that despite all the yoga and all the healthy eating and all the toddler chasing, I gained over 50 pounds during this pregnancy. 50 pounds!! Almost twice as much as I gained with Zeke. And so, while with Zeke I walked out of the hospital and right back into my trusty day after pants (day after you have a baby, dontcha know)...with Malachi I find myself 2 weeks later and still 15 pounds plus.

Luckily my fav. pair of fat pants are super cute size 10s from Maurices. The 10 doesn't sound so bad in my ear and since they usually look ridiculous large on me I don't normally get to wear them. I might throw them in every load of laundry I do for a couple weeks...

Zeke being Zeke (with bonus Mal pics)

I've raised my son right.
No words are really necessary, are they?
Yes, those are pants on his head. My son is a fashionista.
Remember what I said about being a fashionista? I dont take it back.
Helping daddy bathe brother.
Josh is an expert at putting babies to sleep.
He was really really impressed with himself.

I was afraid a new baby would mean less pictures of Zeke, when in fact it has meant more because while a camera is always out, newborns rarely do anything worthy of taking a picture. Malachi is a doll but all he does at this point is dirty his diapers, burb like a teenager, and look cross eyed at you.

Anyways those were the outtakes from the last half of our Grandma Melanie week.

The family bed

(A picture of one of our first naptimes. Dont I look properly exhausted and swollen?)

Laying across our bed this morning was (in order) Ziggy, Me, Mony(on top of me), Mal, Josh, then Zeke. And as I gazed across this scene the term "family bed" got a whole new meaning. 2 adults, 2 children, and 2 cats. Thank the Lord for king size beds but even if we didn't have one I dont think we would do it any other way.

We love sleep sharing around here.

Ezekiel spent the first 6 months of his nights split between his bedside bassinet and snuggled between us in our bed. We plan on Mal doing so for about double that time. And Josh and I both dread the day that the early morning hours don't bring the pitter patter of Zeke's feet into our room to join us, blanket and baby Burt tucked under one arm and a quiet "up up" coming from his lips. So I guess I forgot to add Burt in the bed line-up. He is always there as well. Not only did Josh insist on sleeping on that cabbage patch doll for the first oh...18 years of his life...Zekers seems intent to do the same. Burt has a way with Clark boys.

So co-sleeping is obviously a big part of our life right now. And like I said. We love it. It gives us all a better night's sleep since the baby is happy and I can just roll over when it's feeding time. The newest studies say it lowers the risks of SIDS. It increases attatchment since it adds all that lovely bonding and snuggle time.

And I was going to go on about it but I hear a toddler crying so I better run. Life with 2!