Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Letter to My Child(ren)

You are constantly surpassing expectations for me, kiddo.  Santa brought you some big boy undies for Christmas and you've yet to have an accident.  Though I know I've just completely jinxed myself with that statement, I'm so very proud of you.  You seem to be ready for the next step even before I am these days.

Speaking of Christmas, we had so much fun decorating with you this year.  Every ornament you pulled out of the box illicited a "Wow!  Look at this one!" response from you.  Even Daddy (who is generally a Scrooge when it comes to the tree) got into it this year because of your excitement.

You are still completely goofy, and I absolutely love that about you.  Just the other day, you insisted I read Dr. Seuss with a stuffed frog on my head.  I have to say, I didn't think Seuss could get sillier, but once again, you proved me wrong.

You appear to be listening to us, and even parroting back some of our behavior now.  We give you lots of choices to prevent meltdowns because you feel empowered when you get to choose, even if we've given you only two things to pick from.  Now you give us choices all the time, too.  Here's a conversation from our car ride to daycare the other day:
You, holding up two matchbox cars: "Mommy, do you want the lellow car or blue car?"
Me: "Um, I like the blue one."
You: "Okay. You want it be quiet or loud?"
Me: "Quiet."
You, whispering: "Quiet--okay."

2011 has been a big year for you and 2012 promises to be even bigger with a new brother coming.  You're going to make such a good big brother.

I love you more,

Baby Doc,
You are quite the kicker, kid.  I feel you all the time.  And BIG kicks, too.  Kicks strong enough to knock something off my belly if I was to balance something there.  Not like I do that or anything (wink, wink). I've been sleeping with my belly in Daddy's back every night and you've kept him awake a few nights with your kicks.  He still doesn't understand how I sleep through it.

I've also been having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions lately, but if I drink plenty of water, they go away so nothing to be worried about.  We've still got three-ish months until we meet you and somehow that seems so far and yet so close.

I've been getting so curious about what you'll look like, what your personality will be like, etc.  Will you be blonde-haired and blue-eyed like your big brother, or will you be dark-haired and dark-eyed like Daddy?  Will you be goofy like Gavin and me or will you be more serious like Daddy?

Whatever you're going to be like, 2012 is going to start out with such a blessing in our household.  I can't wait to meet you.

I love you more already!

Friday, December 30, 2011

December Gavinisms

Me:  "Gavin, what do you want for Christmas this year?"
Gavin: "Ummmm...I want...a pony!"
Me:  "Please don't tell your Great-Grandparents."

On his visit to see Santa this year:
Santa: "What would you like for Christmas this year?"
Gavin: "A Christmas box."
Santa: "Oh...well, what would you like inside the Christmas box?"
Gavin: "Nuttin. Just a Christmas box."
Santa to Mommy: "Well that one should be easy!"

On his second visit to see Santa:
Santa: "What would you like for Christmas this year?"
Gavin: "I a big boy now.  I need big boy underwears."

Upon seeing the advent wreath lit up at church:
Gavin:  "Those candles for Baby Jesus birthday!"
Me:  "That's right, buddy."
Gavin:  "I help him blow them out."

Upon seeing a wedding picture of Ryan and me:
Gavin:  "I gonna get married when I bigger."
Me:  "Well, who are you going to marry?"
Gavin:  "I marry you, Mommy!  And Daddy!"

Singing Christmas carols in the car:
"We miss you Merry Christmas, we miss you Merry Christmas....aaaaaannnnd Happy New Year!"

A Tale of Seven Christmases

Ryan and I have eight sides of family.  Divorced and remarried parents on both sides—you do the math.  It makes any holiday a little crazy.  The multitude of celebrations over a short period of time absolutely wipes us out.

Christmas is no exception, and usually happens over at least a two-week period for us.  All the places to travel to, all the gifts, all the food—it can get to be too much. 

But on the days we’re feeling overly swamped, or we’re just plain pooped and don’t feel like going anywhere else!—we remember how blessed we are to have all of these people, even when it gets a little crazy.  There are those in the world who have no one, including over 40 orphans in Russia who would gladly give their last possession to have just one of our sides of family.

We are so very blessed.
Christmas #1  Reading with Grandpa Dave and Grandma Charlene.

Christmas #2  Thank-you hugs for Great-Grandma Wanda.

Christmas #3  G-Jo loved her photo book from Gavin.

Christmas #3  Fartless Beer Bread for Ryan.  We haven't tested it out yet.

Christmas #4  Gavin loved his new flute so much he did a little happy dance.

Christmas #4  A surprise marshmallow fight blew Gavin's little mind.  Notice all the mini ones on the floor.

Setting out cookies for Santa.

Christmas #5  Big boy undies from Santa in Gavin's stocking!
Christmas #5  Annual Christmas morning self-portrait.

Christmas #5  Helping Daddy open gifts.  Gavin's new play kitchen is in the background.

Christmas #5  A card for Mommy and Daddy.  It's cheesy, but I love this stuff.

Christmas #6  A new train set from Uncle Adam & Aunt Jahlynn!

Christmas #7  A generous Christmas gift from Great-Grandpa Clifford.
See what I mean?  So very blessed.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Obligatory Santa Post

If you'll all remember, this is how last year went with Santa:

But, wait!  What is this?  Is that Gavin actually sitting with Santa this year?!
And what is that on his face?  A smile?  I mean, he almost looks excited.  And lookthere was also talking.
The conversation went a little something like this:
Santa:  "What would you like for Christmas this year?"
Gavin:  "I a big boy now.  I need big boy underwears."

I think Santa will be happy to oblige him.

I am so proud of my big boy this year.  He's going to make such a good big brother in a few short months.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Traditions—Old and New

I love Christmastime.  It’s a time of year when we’re generous and forgiving.  It’s this season full of miracles, overflowing with love and steeped in tradition.

I love that I’ve plugged in the same “ugly Rudolph” every year since I was a child, and that Gavin and I hang ornaments on a felt Christmas tree every day to count down to Christmas—just like I did growing up.

I love that the same stories are told around the dinner table every year.  The one where everyone broke the gold forks reserved for special occasions, or the one where my cousin drove her pink Barbie car right out of the box, or the one where everyone wrapped my gifts (and my car) in red yarn because I complained that it was “kid wrapping.”

I love that at Christmas—we make time for old traditions, and that it's okay to make new ones.  Because Ryan and I are kids of divorce and have SO much family, it’s been really important to us to make new traditions that are just ours.

I love that one of those new traditions, especially now that we have a child (almost children—plural!) is Christmas in the Park at Longview in Lee’s Summit.

It’s pretty magical.  Can’t you tell from the look on that face?

I love that this year, I introduced Gavin to an old family recipe passed down from my Great Grandma Fox.  He helped me make “krumkrockers,” (at least, that’s what my family has always called them).  They’re Swedish cookies she made every year at Christmas, and they get their unique shape by baking on pieces of semi-circle guttering.  I have some of the old gutters she used, and I cherish getting them out every year to bake with.

I love that even though I never really got to know her, I feel a little closer to her at Christmas, and I think she’d really appreciate her recipe being passed down to another generation.

I love Christmas traditions because they help us remember what this season is all about.  It's not the decorations or the stories or the cookies, it's the love that's in and around those things that matters.  A love so graciously given to this world so many years ago.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Poem on Poetry

I haven't written many new poems since I finished my Masters last spring.  My brain just needed a break after several intense years of work on a collection of poems.  But lately, I've picked up my favorite pen again and started bleeding on the page.

Because that's what it's like, writing poems.  It's this equality of love and loathing that churns out something that's never quite finished.

I think that's why I love the poem below so much.  I took a translation course my final semester of grad school and translated this poem from Polish (with the help of some very talented Polish-speakers).  Though the author intended it to be about translating poetry, I feel it translates well (pardon me there--I had to do it) to the writing of poetry as well.

On Translating Poetry
By Zbigniew herbert
Translated From the Polish

Like a drunken bumblebee
he sits on a flower
until its slender stem droops
he bobbles into its ordered petals
like the pages of a dictionary
he struggles toward the center
where scent and sweetness live
and although he is weak
and lacks taste
he seeks
until his head bumps
the sunny pistil

He’s already at the end
it’s too difficult to pierce
through the flower’s cup
to reach the roots
so he struts off proudly
and loudly buzzes:
I was in the middle

to those who don’t believe
he shows his nose
dusted with pollen

24 Weeks

Posted late (again!), but at least the photo was taken on the right day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Big Brother Gavin

Yesterday, Gavin wore his "Big Brother Gavin" shirtthe one I ordered for him on Etsy to announce our pregnancy months ago.  I found myself completely overwhelmed at the sight of him, and wishing I could bottle up these last three months before Baby Doc makes his entrance.  

I had this same feeling before Gavin came.  This intense need to capture every moment of time I could when "us" meant just Ryan and me.  It was incredibly sad to think about that time dwindling, and that it would never again be the same "us."  

But then Gavin was born, and he was this piece of "us" we'd been missing and didn't even know it.  He made me fall in love with Ryan all over again.  The way I felt watching Ryan be a father to this new little person I loved more than I knew I could stunned me.

It still surprises me that when Ryan and I go out for a date night, or spend time away from Gavin, at least half of our conversation is spent consumed by him—silly things he's said, goofy things he's done, or how much his orneriness can equally frustrate us and make us laugh.

So now, I can’t help but mourn these last few months of what our “us” has become.  Everything is about to change again.  My baby won’t be my baby anymore.  He’ll be the big brother, my older child, my first son.  

But because I’ve done this before, I know about this piece of our family puzzle we’ve been missing.  I know that even though I’m sad now, when Baby Doc gets here, he’ll fill up a hole inside us that we didn’t even know existed.  And I can’t wait for that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sick Sunday

Let's just say our very early Sunday morning went a little something like this:

Puke, crying, cleaning, "My tummy hurts!" more puke, more crying, more cleaning, shower...and did I mention the puke?

Oh, yes, and this:
Me, trying to pry Gavin's lovie from his hands:  "You got sick on it, buddy.  It's dirty."
Gavin:  "It just wet, Mommy. I shook it on the floor."
Me:  Audible sigh

Not to be outdone, of course, Abner took a look at the mess we were dealing with and thought "You might as well clean this up, too" as he took a huge shit on the floor.

Ryan and I could do nothing but laugh, at that point.  At least, I think we were laughing.  There might have been a few tears.

But, even with all of that, there was also a lot of this:
I think we're even.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Letter to My Child(ren)

I missed you like crazy when I was in Russia.  Loving on those kids made me miss you that much more, and made me realize even more how blessed you are.  You have two loving parents, a multitude of doting grandparents, great-grandparents, uncles and aunts...and even a few family friends who claim you as their family.  Even when the multiple family get-togethers all occur on the same day and we feel like pulling our hair out trying to be "fair" and get to all of them, we are SO blessed to have them.  I hope you'll understand that one day.

While I was there, we were able to Skype a few times and that made the separation a little easier.  You were definitely comic relief for me on a very emotional trip.  One night, you wanted to read a book with me and chose Go the F*%k to Sleep off of the bookshelf.  It's a hilarious book, but clearly NOT meant for children (though it is illustrated like a children's book, hence your confusion).  We'll have to put that one higher up on the bookshelf.

Your new favorite phrase is "Weeeell..." as in "I'm stalling because I don't want to do something."  Here's a typical conversation with you lately:
Me: "Gavin, it's time to take a bath."
You: "Weeeeell...I just playin."

I got you some pull-ups last week and you love them.  Serious potty training started Thanksgiving weekend and you're doing awesome.  You stay dry all day as long as we remind you to go.  The poop thing might take a bit longer.

We also moved you from your toddler bed into a full-size "big boy" bed and you love it.  You picked out rocket ship sheets and couldn't wait to get them on the bed.  You look so tiny in that huge bed that it made me a little weepy the first time I saw you in it.  I realized after we put the bed together that it also means we won't be rocking with you every night.  The rocking chair moved to the baby's room, and we read books and sing songs in your bed now.  You're SO big now, and couldn't be prouder of yourself.

I'm so proud of you, too, and wish I could just bottle up your sweet littleness right now before it's all gone.

I love you more,

I hope you like this nickname because it's what we've gotten accustomed to calling you.  It's your brother's fault, really, considering he wanted a "baby doctor" for the first several months of your existence.  He'd also like to name you either "Princess" or "Snow White," but that's where we're drawing the line.

Daddy and I have our name list narrowed down to three names we like now, one of which is consistently rising to the top.  We won't share your name until you're born though, so Doc it is for now.

You're kicking like crazy now, especially in the evenings.  Gavin got to feel you over Thanksgiving and I wish I'd had a video camera to capture your first interaction together.  His little eyes just lit up.  I just can't wait to see the two of you together once you're here.

Most babies will not have this story to tell, but you went to Russia while in utero this month!  You made me a little more tired than I was on the trip last year, but otherwise, it was a perfectly healthy trip for both of us.  One ride on the subway was particularly crowded and you voiced your dislike of the conditions by kicking a strange Russian man in the back.  I'm not sure if he noticed, but it sure was a big kick.

Keep growing and stay healthy.  I'm so excited to meet you 4-ish months!

I love you more,

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Gavinisms

After a particularly adult-like fart:
          Me: "That was a Daddy toot!"
          Gavin: "No, that was a Gavin toot!"

Passing by the tarp-covered pool in our subdivision:  "Summer is closed."

When measuring me with Daddy's measuring tape:
          Me:  "How tall am I?"
         Gavin:  "Bigger than me!"

On noticing his diaper was very saggy:  "Oops!  My butt fell out."

Pondering his size:  "I little and big!"

On growing older: "When I bigger, I be a grown-up man!"

On my return from Russia:  "Mommy!  I been looking for you!"

On Thanksgiving Day:
          Me: "Gavin, what are you thankful for?  What makes you happy?"
          Gavin: "My family!"

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for.  So much, in fact, that it’s hard to write a post on thankfulness, especially after just coming back from Russia.  I see our excess here—ads screaming at us to BUY ALL THE THINGS! and it’s contrasted by the barrenness of the lives I’ve connected with there, halfway across the world.

I recently heard the quote: “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”  With that in mind, here is my thankful list:

My Faith
I'm thankful for a God who loves me in spite of myself, and that believing in something bigger than me humbles me when I need it most.

My Family
Those who raised me, married me, and made me a mother.  I thank you for your constant encouragement, unfailing love and uncanny ability to put up with my shit.  And to my “family” who is not biologically family, including 40-some orphans in Russia—thank you for expanding my heart to include more than I knew it could hold.

My Friends
Those I lost long ago, those I'm still close with, and those I've yet to meet.  Thank you for letting me cry when I needed to, for making me laugh out loud when I needed that more, and for your general awesomeness.      

My Career
I'm so thankful for my job.  Not just that I have one, especially in this economy, but that I get to work on product every day that makes people smile, brings people closer together and adds a little meaning to their lives.  

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.  May yours be as richly blessed as mine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

20 Weeks

I took pregnancy photos every two weeks with Gavin.  I haven't been that good this time—partially because I'm so caught up in life that I forget, and partially because I look back on those photos now and think, "OMG!  What the hell was I thinking taking those photos of myself.  I look like hell!"

I know, I know...pregnancy is beautiful...blah, blah, blah.  I don't feel beautiful. I feel huge. Already. But, I don't want this little guy to get slighted so I'll post pics once a month for him.  And for all of you who've been bugging me.  

Already this one's a little late in posting since I'm technically 21 weeks now, but that's okay.

A Poem on Russia (sort of)

I wrote this after I came home from the Russia trip last year.  I felt like I'd made no difference, except in myself.  If you read my last post on the trip, you know I feel differently about that now.  I'm not quite ready to write poems about this year's trip, but I wanted to put one out there about Russia.  

One Week at Velikoretskoye Orphanage
For Nastya

Put your light in my eyes and let me see
that my own little world is not about me.
                                    —Matthew West

I wanted to tuck her into my womb—
keep her safe and make her my own.
Her eager eyes and clinging arms
should run in my veins—her memory
beating through me with every pulse.
When I breathe, it should be her orphan
scent that billows into my lungs,
like the dusty lace curtains in her room
mingling with foreign skin.

She let me into her world for a week
and all I did was collect her gapped smile,
and high-pitched staccato laugh
to take home as souvenirs.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Russia Recap: The Kids

People, I went to Russia at 5 months pregnant.  Who does that?  That’s the question I got before I left, while I was there and once I got back.  Once I got home, I found myself asking the same question, and I can’t believe I actually did it. 

But when I really stop and think about it, it’s not a surprise at all.  Last year, the trip ruined me.  I came home forever changed because of the people I met and the lives I was so privileged to touch.  Maybe it was because I was looking outside of my own world and doing something bigger than myself.  Maybe it’s because God used me to love on some kids who desperately needed love and acceptance.   Whatever it was, those kids stormed into my heart and set up camp last year.  How could I not go back?

Last year, my purpose for the trip was to meet Nastya, the little girl we sponsor through Children’s HopeChest.  Ryan and I had sponsored kids before through other organizations, but we sent our check every month and that was that.  This was an opportunity to actually meet this little person and get to know her.  It was an opportunity to actually become a part of her life. 

What I hadn’t expected was the bond I would form not only with Nastya, but a dozen or so other kids at the orphanage.  These kids are so hungry for love, and so desperate for someone to know them and remember them that bonds formed quickly and deeply.  I’d fallen in love with them and knew my life was forever changed. 

Still, I left the orphanage last year wondering if I’d made any real difference for them.  I only spent six days there, and they were still orphans, after all.  They’d been abandoned, abused, and neglected most of their lives.  And their future didn’t look that rosy either, not with society saying that they’re unworthy, unlovable and unwanted.  How could six measly days change anything in their world?

This year, I saw just what a difference six days can make.  Because we’ve consistently sent a team to spend six days with these kids every single year, they’ve come to trust us, and that’s a big deal for a kid who’s been let down his or her whole life.  It doesn’t matter that our team changes members or that we do different activities every year—what matters is that we are there consistently, every year, telling them they’re important and loved and that they matter.  What matters is that we remember them. 

Because I told these kids they were important to me, it suddenly made them feel like they were important in the world.  Little comments I made about how tall they’d gotten or how much their hair had grown acknowledged their existence.  Nowhere else can they see themselves through the passage of time, except through our eyes, and the photos we leave behind of them.

I knew I'd been changed when I came home last year, but I didn't entirely realize what had happened until I went back.  When I gave up my PTO at work, left my husband and child for ten days, used savings for an expensive trip—I'd sacrificed.  And because of that sacrifice, my reality shifted.  My friend, Steph says it well when she says, "it's eternal love manifesting in our world."  Because I was willing to sacrifice, God was able to use me to make a difference to a group kids halfway across the world.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Drumroll please...

It's a boy!
And as you can see from the photo, he was NOT shy about showing us his junk.  Gavin wasn't either.  I think I'm gonna have a couple of show-offs on my hands.

He was perfectly perfect in every way.  Just look at his sweet little face.
When we ask Gavin if he's excited about a baby brother, his reply is "or a baby doctor."  I think the excitement will come later.  I'm already all misty about the thought of brothers.  I think it will suit me to be the mother of sons.  Totally outnumbered, but totally in love.

Monday, October 31, 2011

A Letter to My Child(ren)

When I found out I was pregnant with Gavin, I started writing to him in a journal.  I wrote to him about once and month, updating him on his latest accomplishments, world happenings, etc.  I still love to look back on it and see how he's changed, and even how I've changed as a parent.  I hope one day he will, too.  Now that we've got another little one coming, I thought two journals would be a little much, so I thought I'd write to both of them once a month in a letter series here instead.  Here's the first letter:

Every time I write to you lately I’m saying “when did you get SO big?!”  But it’s just the nature of your age right now, I think.  You’re growing so fast that I don’t think I can even capture it all from month to month.

Your language has exploded even more.  We have full conversations now with back and forth banter and giggles (p.s. I love that you have my sense of humor).  You’re even “reading” your favorite books to us.  Almost every day on the way to school you bring Eight Silly Monkeys or one of your mini nursery rhyme books and recite it to me in the car.  I hope your love for language now extends into a love a reading later.  Your word nerd Momma has her fingers crossed.

You tell us all the time “I a big boy!” and “I do it by myself!” and show us you can do just that with little things like swinging on your tummy in our backyard, kicking at the ground beneath you to propel yourself  “super high.”  You’re growing less cautious (which makes me worry!) when it comes to climbing and jumping.  The first time I saw you scale your swingset’s six-foot rock wall by yourself, I thought I was going to have a heart attack.  But you turned around with a huge smile and said, “I did it, Mommy!”

You haven’t lost your sweetness, and I’m hoping that’s stuck on your for life.  If a character is sad on TV, you blow them a kiss.  When I lost it one day because Abner is getting old and tripped over his water bowl for the second time in an hour, spilling water all over the kitchen, you came and sat with me as I mopped up the floor and said, “It okay, Mommy.  I here.”  You gave me kisses and hugs and said, “Now you feel better?”  Almost every night at dinner, you say “Thanks for cooking dinner” to whomever placed dinner in front of you that night, even if it was just our favorite take-out.  You’re so polite, and I love that about you.

You’ve also had two pretty big milestones this month.  We took the front of your crib off to make it into a “big boy bed” for you and you’ve done great.  Only once did you get out of your crib before we told you it was okay.  Now you wait for us to come get you every morning.  And just last night, in your own words:  “I poopie in the potty!”  You were so excited and proud of yourself, and so were we.  We’re going to start some real potty training in the next couple of weeks—you’re very interested, and want to be just like your friends at school, so I think the time is right.

That’s it for this month.  But that was a lot!  I’m so proud of the big boy you’re turning out to be, and I can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve next.

I love you more,

I finally felt you kick this month, and it's made things so much more real.  I'm already almost halfway to meeting you, and I couldn't be more excited.  

Tomorrow is THE sonogram.  The one where we'll get to see you moving, your little heart beating, and find out whether you're a boy or a girl.  We're hoping you cooperate and show us the goods.  I can't wait to talk about names for you and figure out how we're decorating your room.  We've been waiting to do any of that until we know.  Maybe I'll drink a bottle of orange juice.  That seemed to work to get Gavin moving, so we'll see how it works for you.

The books all say you're the size of a bell pepper now, and it still amazes me that we'll be able to see so much detail, even at that size.  Keep growing and moving, little bean.  I can't wait to see you tomorrow!

I love you more,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Kick in the Bladder

I've been waiting for this.  I actually told someone two days ago that I was sure I'd feel it this week.  I was 17 weeks with Gavin when I first felt his kicks, and sure enough, this little bean is right on schedule. I like this about his or her personality already.  

Speaking of the his or her thing—we find out the sex next Tuesday.  I am equally excited, nervous and sad.  Like Megan, there's just something about the time of wonder and daydreaming whittling down that is unsettling.  Our lives could take two totally different directions based on next week, and I can imagine it both ways.  

A little boy to wear all my favorite outfits from when Gavin was a baby, brothers hanging out together, confiding in each other, becoming the best of friends.

Or a little girl to dress up in frilly things and hair bows, be protected by her older brother, and girl talks when she's older.

Either way feels like some kind of loss, though either way is really a win.  And I know when I lay on that table and see little arms and legs thrashing, a tiny heart beating, and I’m told everything is perfectly perfect—that’s all I’ll really care about. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Gavinisms—The Musical Edition

Gavin loves to sing.  And when I say loves, I mean he sings All. The. Time.  He sings at dinner, in the car, while he's playing, when he's taking a bathyou get the idea.  So, I thought this month's Gavinisms could include his own lyrics to two of his favorite songs.  Enjoy!

“Skip to My Lou”
            Skip, skip, skip to lou,
            skip, skip, skip to lou,
            skip, skip, skip to lou
            skip to lou my diamond.

            Fly in da butter, shoo fly shoo
            fly in da butter, shoo fly shoo
            fly in da butter, shoo fly shoo
            skip to lou my diamond.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame”
            Take me out to da ball game,
            take me out to da crown.
            Buy me penis and crack-a-jag,
            I don’t care if ever get back
            Cuz it’s roof, roof, roof
            for da home teen,
            if they don’t win it’s a shade
            Cuz one, two, free strike out
            at the ole ball game!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go Mizzou!

Though I'm not an MU alumnus, I do consider myself an honorary tiger.  It was my school of choice, the school I'd pictured myself attending, the school I still wish I'd gone to, the school I would have attended had it not been for the huge scholarship UMKC offered me.

Life is funny that way.  Because of the money I saved, I was able to purchase my first home right out of college.  I might never have dated and married Ryan, and we might never have had these 1 1/2 kids we love so much.  I would have taken the journalism route instead of creative writing, and might not have this awesome job I get to go to every day.

Do I regret not going to a big campus school?  Sure.  But I wouldn't trade where I am now for anything.

Fortunately, Ryan, Gavin and I got to show our MU pride and visit the homecoming parade this year.  It was the 100th anniversary of homecoming at Mizzou (where, by the way, homecoming was invented).  We had so much fun, and a little bit of that regret is now in the past.  And who knows...maybe there's a future tiger in our family.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Toddler (and not-so-toddler) Transitions

Gavin sometimes has a hard time with transitions. We’ve learned to offer several warnings during playtime before we move to bathtime.  And we always talk about what he’s going to do at school when we’re in the car on the way there.  If we forget, or we’re too rushed, we end up with a limp noodle on the floor begging for “one more minute” of whatever activity we were doing before it’s time for something new.

This weekend was full of transitions and Gavin did great even with a seemingly endless number of planned activities. 

We went to the zoo Saturday morning with friends Rachael and Livvy.  Grandma Clifford joined us, too.  Appropriate, considering Clifford the Big Red Dog was there that day.  Gavin and Livvy ran through the entire zoo, racing each other from one exhibit to the next and climbing on every rock that came into view.  He fell asleep in the car as soon as we hit the highway. I don’t remember the last time that happened.

 Saturday night was dinner at Stroud’s with Grandpa and Nana Green, and Uncle Adam and Aunt Jahlynn. Gavin gobbled down chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and green beans, but surprised me when insisting, “I don’t like gravy.”  Somewhere, I’ve gone wrong.  Thank God I still have several more years to shape his tastes.  He spent the entire meal in the restaurant high chair.  He hasn’t sat in one of those for more than a year.

Sunday morning was our fall family photo shoot and Gavin spent the hour shouting “cheese” and playing in the autumn leaves (photos to come soon).  I spent the hour wondering who stole my baby and replaced him with this kid who is just So. Freaking. Big.

Our visit to the pumpkin patch later that day is where I realized Gavin isn’t the only one who has a hard time with transitions.  I was the one with a lump in my throat when I told him to “watch out for the babies” playing near him.  And it was me who teared up when I took the annual photo of him and Ryan in the pumpkin patch sign.

Now, I do have to take into account that I’m pregnant, and therefore hormonal, but I keep going back to this thought that next year, it won’t be just us at the zoo or the pumpkin patch.  We’ll have this other little person—a baby—as a part of our family, too.  It’s going to be a HUGE transition.

And something tells me Gavin’s going to do better with this transition than me.  Maybe it’s his little voice repeatedly reminding me: “Mommy I not a baby.  I a big boy!”

So right now, I’m appreciating those “baby” things he occasionally does, like falling asleep in the car or sitting in a high chair, because in five-ish months, he won’t be the baby anymore.  In five-ish months, we'll be a family of four.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Back in Time

I wrote most of these things a month or two ago.  Before we were ready to shout our baby news to the world.  But, now that our secret is out, I wanted to share what I was thinking at the time.

July 18, 2011
          I'm pregnant--and SO excited!  The peeing on the stick thing was a technicality really.  I knew.  I knew it from the moment it happened.  And now, it's really real!  I apologize in advance for the amount of exclams in this entry, but if I'm allowed exclams in life, it should be over news this exciting!  I wanted this so badly, and though this tiny little baby is barely a millimeter long, it became so much more real when we saw that faint pink line this morning.
          Baby, you're going to have the best big brother any little boy or girl could ask for. He's so fun, so sweet, and I hope the two of you will be the best of friends (though I understand the occasional knock-down, drag-out fight--I have siblings of my own). I can't wait to meet you, and love you, and nom on you to my heart's content (or at least as much as you'll allow).

July 28, 2011
          I bought the first little outfit last night.  It's a romper because OMG what's cuter than a baby in a romper?   It's gray (very unisex) has a koala bear on it with the caption "I love snacks."  I mean, who doesn't love snacks?  It's adorable, but more importantly, the first thing I've bought for this baby.  Since I'm only a few weeks along, it's hard to remember this is real, not just a hope anymore, but REALLY real. A mere 8 months from now I'll be meeting him or her!  I couldn't be more excited.  And I can't wait to see some baby chubs in that romper.

August 8, 2011
          We had an early sonogram this morning and got to see a little heart fluttering!  It was still tiny, tiny, tiny, but we could see (and hear!) the beat.  The sonogram technician said the heartbeat was already 125 beats per second, which is really good for this early. I'd had some cramping and the sonogram ruled out any problems.  Everything looks good and right on track for an April Fool's Day due date. And, it's NOT twins--thank God!
           AFTER the appointment, however, I had to go have blood drawn for the normal blood testing and almost passed out at the lab.  I ended up on the tile floor, knees up, the phlebotomist fanning me with a thick stack of papers.  I was so embarrassed that I couldn't stop apologizing.  She just kept saying, "it happens all the time, sweetie" but that really didn't make me feel much better.  Apparently I've gotten a little soft when it comes to blood draws.

August 22, 2011
          We told Gavin the big news yesterday.  A sweet little smile came across his face when we showed him his shirt that said "Big Brother Gavin," but I still don't think he quite understood.  When we told him there was a baby in Mommy's tummy, he said, "I have baby in my tummy!"  He's into wanting to be like us lately, so I guess that makes sense.  When we asked him whether he wanted a baby boy or a baby girl to live with us, he said, "A baby doctor!"  Apparently there are high expectations for this little one already.

September 6, 2011

          I visited a cardiologist for the first time in my life today.  I've been having lots of heart palpitations, sometimes up to 30 times a day, and my OB/GYN was concerned so she referred me.  Turns out I have Mitral Valve Prolapse, which is pretty common in women between 20 and 40.  The cardiologist wasn't concerned, and said I wouldn't have any ongoing issues with it, but because my blood volume is doubled right now thanks to pregnancy, it's just causing this problem to be more prominent.  Most people don't even realize it's happening. 
          I was totally freaked out about going to the appt. today, and walking in the office and being the only 20-something in a sea of 60- to 70-somethings didn't help much, either.  But, I left feeling relieved, and much less stressed, which in turn will probably decrease the palpitations, too.  I just didn't want to go in there today and be told I couldn't go through this pregnancy because of my heart, or that the baby would be hurt because of it, etc.  I'm a worrier.  It's what I do.  This baby's barely the size of a lime and I'm already worried sick.  I thought second babies were supposed to be less stressful.    


September Gavinisms

I love, love, love toddler language.  The way they put things together and mix things up fascinates me and, I have to admit, tickles my funny bone.  So, for your own personal enjoyment (but mostly my own), I'll post my favorite "Gavinisms" every month.  This month's is particularly fun--enjoy!

In response to either Ryan or me saying "I love you": "I love you sometimes."

The "I love you" response when Gavin's feeling particularly lovey: "I love you always and forever."

After putting on Daddy's deodorant:  "I smell like a man."

When asked whether he'd like a baby brother or baby sister: "I want a baby doctor."

When asked what we should name the baby: "Princess"

To Ryan after getting out of the shower: "Put your robot on, Daddy."

To me, while patting my pregnancy-hormone-enlarged chest: "I feel the baby, Mommy!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Depth of an Emptied Dishwasher

It's poem-posting time again and today, you get a love poem.  Let's all say it together now....ahhhhhh.

This is one of my very favorites from my Master's portfolio, mostly because every time I read it, it helps remind me just how lucky in love I am, even on those days (and we all have them) when we're not feeling quite so loving.

Big-gesture Love
For Ryan

I wished a lover would graffiti
my name on the underside
of a bridge or fill my house
with thornless purple roses
after our first big fight.
I always wanted the proposal
at a sold-out baseball game—
our faces large as houses
on the jumbotron
when I said Yes.
I wished for big-gesture love
and got you—
the one who warms my blanket
in the dryer before bed, stays
up all night when our baby
is sick with croup, and always
lets me choose our Friday night rental.
I wished for my name written
into a song’s chorus
before I knew the depth
of an emptied dishwasher.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I’m 30 today!  THIR-TEE.  I’ll let that sink in for a minute.  It definitely took me a minute this morning.  Maybe even thirty.  (See what I did there?) 

It’s not that 30 is a bad age, or 30 is old (because it definitely is NOT!)—it just sounds like a grown-up age, and there are some days…okay, many days that I still don’t feel like a grown up.

But then I look at my life and realize I’ve been sitting in adulthood pretty comfortably for a while now.  I have a loving husband—truly my partner in life. I have a brilliantly handsome little 2 ½ year old son. I have a job that many dream of having.  I don’t have to go to work every day—I get to go—and I love that. I have friends who stick by me and call me out when I need it. I have family who loves me unconditionally—even at my worst.

I am So. Very. Blessed.

But the icing on the proverbial “birthday” cake today is that I am also pregnant with our second child. See what I mean?  So blessed. 

So—from where I sit, 30 may be “grown up,” but it’s also incredibly happy. And awesome. And better than I ever imagined.