10.11.2017

happily ever after

In honor of the tenth anniversary of tricking Jason into giving me expensive jewelry in exchange for bean soup for life, I have scoured the web-o-sphere for the following: Our Origin Story. It was hidden away on our old wedding site and it is only right and fitting that it is now forever established on our blog. May we ever be held to this true accounting should the years ever fade our memories.

***********

Once upon a time, or more specifically in the fall of 2005, there was a Sharayah and a Jason. Somethetimes they sat by each other in US History. And sometimes he would play guitar. And she'd like it a lot. Also they were both nerdy honors students who would hang out with their nerdy mutual friends.

That semester, they went on roommate date. But not with each other. But it was the same roommate date. And they drove in the same car. There was also one picture of them together, so draw your own conclusions.

Anyway, time passed, and they talked a lot. And talked some more. And then they would often go to Wal-Mart. And talk some more. Some weeks, there were many Wal-Mart trips, but they always had a reason to go. They were just friends.

This went on for many months.

During this time, through circumstances unexplainable, Jason took Sharayah to the 2006 HP Christmas Masquerade. He wore a nice suit, and she wore a pretty dress. Things started to look suspicious. They even had another picture taken together that night. That's two pictures. Come on. People might have started to talk.

Christmas break came and they didn't miss each other at all. Not any more than any other friends at school. Or so they said. There was an ice storm that January. There was much ice shoving, sliding, and other slightly questionably flirtatious activities. Jason also saved her from imminent death in a scary ice pit at least four times. Maybe five.
Then they probably went to Wal-Mart again.

That spring, they went to a cool, cool Underoath concert. Jason did not get lost on the way back. And it was not a date. They clarified this many times. To each other. There was also a Relient K concert. They went to that too.

Right before spring break, Sharayah wanted to run away to Mexico. Jason said it was too far. But he drove her to Riverside to skip rocks. It was an ok compromise. And they made a bet. Jason skipped a ridiculously large rock and Sharayah owed him big time: marriage in two and a half years. And yet, they still didn't like each other. "I really thought it was just a joke," Jason is quoted as saying. "And he knows he's lying," Sharayah quotes back.

They didn't miss each other during spring break.

Then came April 12. Jason left for some kind of nerdy math convention in Missouri. He left her at the bowling alley. She was actually sad. While he was away, something funny happened. Maybe he actually did miss her. Just a little. Back in Tulsa, another funny thing was happening. Maybe she actually did miss him. They were weird realizations.

When he came back that Sunday, they went to Riverwalk, but forgot to make any of their normal excuses (i.e. "I don't want to do homework anymore." "Let's go to Wal-Mart." etc.) Jason wanted to walk around. And talk. They went to a bridge and sat on a bench. And talked about things. By the end of the night, they'd finally admitted to liking each other.

It was about time.

With school ending, they decided not to do anything official since summer is a long time. The end of summer was three months away.

It was a very long time.

They made the best of it by talking on the phone every night. Sharayah thought it was cool that he would actualy talk on the phone with her now. She had never considered this perk to liking a boy. In June, Jason went on a cruise. On her birthday. He didn't let her go. She was sad. But he sent her a puppy in the mail and that made her a little happier.

And then it was June 20. He drove up to Tulsa and asked her out. It was a very good week. The two of them hung out every free minute they had. They ate foods, went places, and did some suspiciously coupley things (some say they even held hands). It was during this time that they decided they wanted to get married, though they weren't sure when. It was the first time they said "I love you" to each other. They were good words. And they were true. It is worth repeating, it was a very good week. But then it was over, and the two of them drove down to Texas. They talked about things. And the next morning, Sharayah went back to Tulsa.

By then, they were allowed to miss each other. And they did.

School started again in August and it was good. There were various sightings of hand-holdings, good hugs, and jacket borrowing. Sharayah was becoming a girl. And Jason was ok with that. They still went to Wal-Mart. And they still talked all the time. And he still made fun of her wearing pink. Things were normal, and very good. Going out was amazing.

Knowing they were going to get married, Jason and Sharayah went ring shopping. It was a rather couple-y experience. They walked into lots of stores with lots of shiny things. Most of them weren't any good, but there was one ring that caught their eye.

It was a pretty ring. It had lots of sparklies. It looked good on Sharayah's little finger. So Jason bought it.

Then one day (the exact date is lost to history [October 11]), Jason took Sharayah out to a nice dinner. She wore a pretty dress and he wore a nice suit. They ate good foods and talked about stuff. Then he took her to a spot - their spot - and they talked about more stuff. He said lots of sweet things to her. And he said she was his best friend. And she was his love. And he wanted her to be his wife. He got down on one knee, and held up the pretty ring, and asked the big question, "Will you marry me?" And since he was her best friend, and she loved him more than anything, she said yes.

Then they knew they would live happily ever after.

The End.

***********

Today marks ten years since that knee was bent and that ring given. A lot happens in ten years. Graduations. First apartments. More graduations. Cross-country moves. Jobs. Kids. More graduations. More cross-country moving and more jobs. First homeowner-ships. More kids. Life has been full.

Today was a rough day. It was long, filled with terrible napping [Finley], acting out [Lucas], and poorly handled impatience [me]. It all culminated with the bigger one walking smack dab through the littler one's poopy diaper that I had just removed. Just, stepped both feet right in it. It was a Monday disguised as a Wednesday. I'm sure of it. It was a day.

Jason asked me tonight if I would still say yes, yes to that question asked exactly 10 years ago [almost to the hour], if the only thing I knew about our future would be this day. This day with the 17 minute naps, the disappointment of a lost temper, and the poopy footprints. If I knew this day was in my future, would I still say yes?

A thousand times yes. Even if every day included poopy socks, I would say yes. Yes to Jason. Yes to marriage. Yes to our family. Yes to the future.

Yes.

9.11.2017

all the things you want to know

Today is an assortment of things kind of day, so this will be an assortment of things kind of post.

- Fall is in the air. I'm terribly excited. I am compiling a list of all the things I want to do in this beautiful weather. Corn-mazing, apple picking, pumpkin hunting... My insides are ecstatic. And the most exciting part is that it all leads up to Winter and the Christmas season. Somehow having two kids this year makes the approach of Christmas that much more appealing. Come, Fall, come!

- Lucas turns 3 in 3 days. How is this happening? I asked him what he wanted to eat for his birthday meal.
Lucas: "Banana muffins!"
Me: "Yes, you'll get a banana muffin, but do you want a special birthday meal?"
Lucas: "Umm... yes."
Me: "...what do you want?"
Lucas: "Umm... I will tell you on my birthday. On September 14th!"
I'll try again tomorrow.

- I really shouldn't be allowed to interact with the public. The other day I met one of Jason's former students and I'm pretty sure two of my three contributions to our "conversation" were "Who are you?" and "What are you doing here?" Who knew "What's your name?" and "What brings you back to MBU?" were such hard-to-phrase questions. Apparently I am only capable of talking to someone if they are a toddler or younger... My profuse apologies to anyone who encounters me in public at random. I promise I'm a nice person.

- With the cooler weather these past few weeks, I have been taking the boys out for brisk stroller jaunts whenever naps and motivation and moods happen to line up favorably. This morning we did almost 4 miles and, let me tell you, even with a relatively light double stroller (about 27 pounds) it is no joke pushing these guys up and down and around. With Lucas's 31 pounds and Finley's 16, it's a 70+ pound load and the smallest of hills feels like Mount Everest. One hill in particular I regularly consider telling Lucas to hop out and help push...

- I get such a sense of pleasure and accomplishment when I fill up another journal. The one I just finished is particularly special since it begins with "I think I'm ready for another baby" and ends with "Oh how I love this new baby." It contains the entire journey and I love it. Lucas helped me pick out my next journal... which is why I will now be writing in a book with a large skunk on the cover and pink and grey accent stripes. [Honestly, I love it.]

- Finley slept two 5-hour stretches last night. This would have been unheard of in Lucas's baby days. I think God knew what He was doing when he decided Lucas would be baby #1 and Finley baby #2, for so many reasons. Thank You, God, for your ever perfect plan.

- You know what makes me abnormally uncomfortable? Adults who are shorter than me. And because of this, I can abnormally quickly spot someone who is shorter than me, even if it's just a smidge. There may have been a woman at Costco, two aisles away, who I nonchalantly sidled up behind so I could prove to Jason that she was indeed shorter than me. Even this made me uncomfortable - not the stalking and sidling, but the four seconds of standing next to her and feeling that inch height difference. I may be abnormal.

And I shall close on that note.


8.07.2017

worth it

Our days are busier, filled with a fussy newborn who will only nap while being held and a cranky toddler who melts down about oatmeal falling off his spoon (direct quote, minus the sobbing: "Why is this happening? Why? Why?!"). Our nights are longer, filled with a half dozen iterations of nurse/diaper/sleep-for-an-hour. It's inevitable that patience runs thin, temperaments turn moodier, and responses come out snippier.

And with these undesirable effects of straight-up weariness comes the guilt. The guilt from not being able to hold it together for one more irrational, unanswerable "Why??" The guilt from not being able to soothe the wailing baby. The guilt from just wanting to curl up in bed and sleep. The guilt makes you wonder if maybe you aren't really cut out for this, maybe you don't have what it takes, maybe you don't have what they need...

And then your two-year-old suddenly looks at you, looks at both you and your equally weary husband... He looks at his mommy and daddy and matter-of-factly says, "You're a good Mommy. And you're a good Daddy." And he finishes his oatmeal.

The days filled with putting out fire after fire are worth it. The nights filled with everything but sleep are worth it. These boys are utterly and completely worth it. And Jason and I, even sleep-deprived and grumpy and beat, are exactly what Lucas and Finley need and want.


Sometimes you just need a reminder: We are good parents. From the mouth of babes.


8.02.2017

the boys

Boy One:

Boy One is amazing. He has tackled his role of New Father of Two with strength, energy, patience, and the ability to be once again okay with some varying amount of baby liquid on his clothes at all times. I would be an unshowered, snack-food-only-filled, overwhelmed mess of a mom without him. Instead, I am simply an unshowered, snack-food-and-regular-food-filled mom with a couple layers of sleepiness. Trust me, it's a night and day difference.

Jason successfully wrangled me through another 40 weeks of pregnancy and another flawless labor and delivery. He never teased me about my very sad, first and second trimester aversion to broccoli and tofu. He patiently walked with me through both of the nasty needle situations required by pregnancy. He gave up his side of the bed so I could sleep on my left side, even going as far as moving all of the contents of our nightstands from one side to the other. He then let me switch sides again a week later so I could be that much closer to the bathroom, though he didn't move the nightstands again... He picked up every piece of slack that I started dropping through the cracks due to lack of energy and excess stomach circumference. He took over every single part of Lucas's hour-long bedtime routine. He let me stay in bed in the morning while he got up with Lucas. He rolled me out of bed, pulled me out of bed, and pushed me out of bed, depending on what the situation required. He dealt with every unpleasant thing I didn't want to deal with. He even baked for me.

He got me through each contraction and didn't complain once about me grumpily demanding he read my mind during labor. And only once did he mention how hard I was squeezing his hand while I shoved a baby into the world. He was my rock. He gets even less sleep than I do post-Finley, but he still somehow magically soothes both boys to sleep I don't even know how many times a day.

I love Boy One. With every fiber of my sleep-deprived body, I love him.

Boy Two:

Boy Two is a daily fascination, a walking-never-stop-talking wonder, a veritable genius of a two-year-old. He seriously amazes me every day. I know I'm a tad biased being his mom and all, but by golly how in the world is he so smart? He is obsessed with letters and numbers. He counts all day long (everything is countable, you know) and can easily go to 100. Easy peasy. He understands the concept of ordinals and uses them perfectly ("This is blueberry number 34. This is my thirty-forth blueberry!"). He has recently grasped relative size and can now tell us that "three things are not a lot" when we mistakenly say something to the contrary (sigh, another parenting advantage/trick removed from our knapsack).

His latest impressive trick is knowing what letter a word starts with. We can give him a word and he'll sound it out. Paint? "Puh-puh. P!' Hammock? "Huh-huh. H!" Cardinal? "Cuh-cuh. Is Cardinal C or K?" We can take a word, change the first letter, and he'll correct us. For example, we say "flush and wash and be on our way" at the end of every trip to the bathroom, but sometimes we will change it up and say a different rhyming word like "day" or "pay" or "ray" because it makes Lucas laugh. One day, after using "zay" instead of "way," Lucas suddenly "got it" and exclaimed, "You used Z instead of W!" And, thus, a new game was born. He is also super interested in how a word changes when you remove certain letters. He covers up various letters and asks, "What this say now?" As it turns out, if you take California and remove the C, A, L, I, F, and A, you're left with the hilarious word Orni. "What Orni means?!" Cue the giggles.

Funny story: The other day Lucas was looking at one of his sticker charts and he suddenly said, "Mommy, where's the D in stickers? Where's the D?" I told him there was no D in the word stickers, but he insisted there should be a D and where was it. And then I realized the problem. Lucas has a funny relationship with S's, especially when they're at the beginning of a word, and while Jason and I easily understand when Lucas says the word stickers, he doesn't actually clearly pronounce it as "stickers." Instead it's more of a "sdickers"... which would have a D.

Related story: Lucas saw Home Depot today and asked what the orange words said. After telling him that the words said Home Depot, the name of the store, he asked, "But why is there a T?" He saw a T at the end of the word but didn't hear it when I told him the word. Ridiculously bright this one. Explaining why there are arbitrary silent letters to a 2-year-old is tricky due to their go-to response being "Why?" YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE TO EXPLAIN THEM TO A 2-YEAR-OLD. This is my life.

Lucas also has a very creative side. He makes up stories and scenarios about his animal friends. He is all about making up new "words," a pastime that can go on for hours. He loves, loves, loves to color with pencils, crayons, markers, or whatever else he can find. His scribbles often accidentally make letters (L's, V's, T's, "broken A's," and D's are the most common) and he always excitedly points them out to us. He is particularly fond of renaming his crayon or chalk colors. The other day alone, his colors consisted of beauties like "Holy Poly," "Might is Mortal," "Off the Cliff," "Gruffle Gruffle," and "Bees By My Head." He's the funniest little chap.

I have no idea what is "normal" or average for an almost-three-year-old. For all I know, these are all skills/interests that he should have developed months and months ago. But, to me, Lucas seems so extremely bright and he's constantly impressing me. His mind fascinates me. I can't help but brag on him. He's my little bright-eyed boy.

"Mommy, have you ever seen a day like this day??"

I love Boy Two. With every pitter patter of my bursting heart, I love him.

Boy Three:

Boy Three is the squishiest, jowl-iest little chunk with the most beautiful smashed-black-bean-colored eyes I've ever seen. He is six weeks old as of Tuesday and the Transformation is happening. Just as with Lucas, the six week mark is that magical time when one's sleepy, floppy newborn suddenly transforms into a legit baby with sparks of curiosity, bobblehead-like head control, and the ability to focus his eyes in a particularly soul-searching way. I love it, though I already miss his sleep-and-snuggle-all-day-long newborn days.

We still aren't 100% sure what color Finley's eyes are. Depending on the light, they look varying shades of brown or gray or sometimes even a hue of blue. They're fascinating. I think most commonly they are this interesting shade of Smashed Black Beans. If you are unfamiliar with this color, feel free to go smash some cooked black beans and see Finley's eye color firsthand. Or just take my word for it - they're beautiful.

Isn't it weird how you get the proudest feelings over the silliest things when it comes to your own baby? In particular, weight gain. Why is the weight of your baby even a mentionable? But somehow it is, and boy do I get the proud feelings each time Finley is weighed. Lucas gained a pound a week for his first five weeks, and Finley followed suit. His little brown belly has grown and grown. With each new pound that Finley has put on each week, I feel so much pride. It's silly, I know, but I am literally making a tiny person grow by feeding them milk that I somehow make without trying. It's a crazy phenomenon. Crazy.

Things I love about Finley:
  • His round ears
  • His happy gurgles
  • The tiny hair swirl at the front of his head
  • His sad frown
  • The way his eyes flutter open when he wakes up
  • His tiny dimpled knuckles
  • How he will snuggle on you for hours and quietly snuffle-huff as he sleep breathes
Things I am not a fan of:
  • His spit up (which Lucas never had)
  • His dislike of diaper changes
  • The way his oven-like body combines with my oven-hot body to make us a giant sweaty mess if I hold him for ten minutes
  • How he won't nap unless you let him snuggle on you for hours, while he quietly snuffle-huffs in your ear...
There are already so many temperament differences when I compare Finley and Lucas as babies. For starters, Finley's first restaurant outing did not result in inconsolable screaming like Lucas's. It was amazingly relaxed. I am more than curious to find out how these differences will play out as Finley gets older. 

I love Boy Three. With every breath I breathe in of his little warm huffle-puffle breathing, I love him.

*********

I feel like I should bullet-point some things for myself, despite not being one of "the boys." It's been a pretty long time since I've blogged, so I think it will be acceptable. [And according to Lucas, anyway, I AM one of the boys, despite being a girl so... take that] Since this post is already a novel and a half, I'll try to be brief. Ha.
  • I am currently all about the sauerkraut sandwiches. Oh my word. So good. I put sauerkraut on pizza once and it was delicious. Recommend x4.
  • I have a red vertical birthmark on the middle of my forehead. It is my own personal exclamation point that becomes more visible when I'm upset. [Beware the Asian.] Well, I am here to announce that I have successfully passed it on to both of my boys and I could not be more pleased. Seriously. Lucas and Finley both have it on their foreheads, a little less visible and off from center than mine but undeniably there. No one can do a kid switch with my babies - I've put my stamp of awesomeness on them.
  • I only have two kids [and that only for six weeks] and I'm already dreaming about minivans. I want one so bad. Even used, they're so expensive. Why? Doesn't the world know that the reason one needs a minivan is because of the money-eating children that you are raising? And now that I've done a cursory minivan Google search, Toyota Sienna ads keep popping up on my Facebook. Alas, we are still quite a few years out, Facebook.
  • A big book sale is coming up this weekend and I am beyond excited to peruse. For real. This was seriously my summer schedule of Exciting Things to Look Forward To: "Jason finishes the spring semester at work. Branson vacation. Meet Finley. Book sale." I may need Jason to give me a monetary limit. I want all the books.
  • How is it August already? I am soon to be left on my own with my two munchkins when Jason goes back to work and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit apprehensive. I hope I have what it takes and the boys are patient with me. 
I love my boys. All three of them. I love them all in incredibly different ways and yet somehow the same. It's weird but right. Bring on the adventures.

Six weeks in and I'm pretty sure this is the only picture with all four of us in it. We'll work on it.

7.12.2017

how it happened again

It happened once before. Sharayah enjoyed my take on it last time, so I thought I'd give it another go. It was similar to last time, only much faster.

Monday, June 19
We were really hoping for another due-date baby. Lucas was born on his due date, so we thought it would be cool. Our kids would just be really well-scheduled, punctual little fellows. Plus doctor-y things make Sharayah nervous, so she wouldn't like the waiting game and discussions of intervention options if the baby didn't come on its own in good time. Well, June 19 was the due date and we saw no signs of labor leading up to the 19th or throughout the day on the 19th. I guess it wasn't meant to be.

However, things did start to happen before June 19 came to a close. Lucas had been having trouble sleeping that night and I had gone in to get him back to sleep several times between 8 and 11pm. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were not going to get a due-date baby and nothing would be happening that night. We were tired and just wanted to go to bed and see if the next day would bring any signs of a labor. Right around 11pm, when I got back from one of my trips to calm Lucas and put him back to sleep, Sharayah said, "Well, you'll never believe me, but I think we need to call the birth center."

It wasn't labor yet, but suddenly it seemed like the birth would not be so far away. We were told to get a good night of sleep and call in the morning (unless things started moving along). I made some sandwiches to bring with us the next day and finished packing our birth bag, and we went to sleep. No due-date baby, but it looked like we wouldn't miss by much.

Tuesday, June 20
Real, definite contractions started in around 3am, waking Sharayah up for the night. That put her in labor on about 3 hours of sleep. Technically that's better than with Lucas, but for sure our kids do not want us getting sleep if they can help it. I vaguely remember her getting up (I just thought she was going to the bathroom) but she let me stay asleep for a few hours. In retrospect, I should have known. I think I woke up halfway several times in the next few hours and she was often not in bed. At any rate, I didn't get up until 6 something when Lucas was making noise. I took him to the bathroom and then downstairs to play, while my mom (in town to help take care of Lucas during new-baby-week) got breakfast ready for him. I went back upstairs to check on Sharayah, whose contractions were already intense enough after just under 4 hours that we decided to call in again. Contractions still weren't super regular yet (they were approximately 5 minutes apart, give or take 2, and lasting 45 seconds, give or take 15) but they were strong enough that Sharayah couldn't do much during them.

Now it was time to watch, wait, and monitor. If water broke or contractions got more frequent, regular, or intense, we'd call again. Otherwise, we'd call in a couple hours. Sharayah always seems to downplay this stage. I kind of thought we'd be spending the day waiting around and end up all night in labor with an early morning birth on the 21st. That actually would have matched very closely with Lucas's timeline (her contractions with Lucas woke her up at 4am one day, and he was born at 6:45am the next day). It turns out, things were actually already pretty far along. The intensity started ramping up fast. We got to the stage where Sharayah was pretty debilitated by the contractions and needed me to put strong pressure on her back throughout to help her cope. At 9am we made plans with the midwife to meet at 10am at the birth center. By 9:30, I called and told her I thought we better just go in. We are only about 5 minutes away, but between last minute goodbyes and instructions to Lucas and trying to get our things and a contracting Sharayah into the car, out of the car, and into the birth center, it was just about 10am anyway.

We went into the birthing suite and immediately the water broke. It occurred to me that things seemed pretty far along for the water not to have already broken. I guess it doesn't always happen in the same order. The suites at this birth center have big tubs in case anyone wants to do a water birth or just wants to be in the water to ease the contractions while waiting for active labor. The midwife offered to fill it, so we said sure. Sharayah had been back and forth on whether she wanted to try a water birth. She thought it might be neat, but she's so hot-natured that she wasn't sure she'd be comfortable in a tub. At any rate, Sharayah decided she'd give it a try to see how it felt and whether it made things easier, and she could always get out if she wanted. Meanwhile her contractions were seeming more and more severe. She got in the water and I sat on the side with my feet in so I could continue to comfort her through contractions. It was still only a little after 10, but she was asking how to know when to push. When contractions hit, they seemed to rack her whole body, and she would kind of curl up and to the side in the water. She started her crush-my-fingers-so-I-can-share-in-the-pain routine (which I still maintain is an oddly enjoyable way for the husband to get to participate). Still no broken fingers, but I think she came close again once.

Not long after getting in the tub, she kept saying between contractions that she felt like she needed to push. Last time we were in that almost-ready-to-push stage for what seemed like an eternity. I didn't want Sharayah to have to do that again. The midwife told her she was pretty much there and to go ahead when she felt like her body really needed to push. The pushing stage seemed way more intense this time. We had only been there a half hour and already Sharayah was getting extremely drained by the contractions and seemed to be pushing quite a lot. I knew from last time that pushing can sometimes seem like you lose most of the ground gained from a push as soon as it ends. We might be here a while, so I settled in for the long haul and prayed for strength for Sharayah. These pushes were really beating her down fast, and I wasn't sure how she could do it as long as last time. However, where Lucas seemed to take 1 step forward and 4/5 of a step back, Finley just seemed to keep making progress. The midwife told Sharayah it should only be a couple more pushes. I remember hearing that last time and it not quite being true. I prayed this time it would be. After a couple more pushes, there he was. I can never put into words the bizarre and amazing sight of my son's head and face for the first time, when only the head is out. Finley looked exactly like Lucas. It was even weirder because he was underwater. Suddenly we had two of them. We had to reposition Sharayah for the rest of Finley to be born. Then out he came. In one fluid motion the midwife "caught" him, pulled him out of the water, and set him on Sharayah. At 10:46am, less than an hour after we got to the birth center, Finley was born.

After that things are, or course, blurry for a while. During that time I cut the cord, which is disgusting, we got out of the water, and Sharayah got into the bed holding Finley. They asked various questions and checked various things. Finley was purpler than I remember Lucas being, but soon he was pinkish brown, or brownish pink. He still looked like a carbon copy of Lucas. He was apparently a good bit bigger, coming in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces. No wonder Sharayah was so ready to get him out. We ate some food and stared ate him for a while until it was time to go home. They talked to us about some stuff that I don't remember. Then we went home to introduce him to Lucas at around 2pm.

So, approximately 8 hours after the first contraction, less than an hour after Sharayah's water broke, and after not even a half hour of pushing, we had our second little miracle. It was every bit as intense as last time, all crammed into less than 1/4 of the time. So far Lucas has coped amazingly well. He loves his routines, and we upended all of them, but he's been a trooper as the 4 of us figure out what is our new normal (my mom had the nerve to go back home at the end of the week and leave us without a 3-2 advantage anymore). Finley is a great sleeper (in 2-hour increments while someone is holding him). We are utterly exhausted and having a great time having two little guys.

Yeah, we made this.
Finley was born on the 10-year anniversary of the day when Sharayah and I started dating. Two kids in 10 years is pretty good. We can probably top it.

Dear Finley,
Welcome to our interesting family! You will soon find that we are an unusual bunch. I think you'll enjoy it. We all love each other a lot, which includes you. I still can't figure out where the time goes while we're staring at you. You have perfect little feet and I still can't name the color of your eyes. I'm so excited to see who you are. I bet in a lot of ways you're just like your awesome brother Lucas. I bet in a lot of ways you are awesome in some other way totally unlike him. I can't wait to watch you grow up.
Love,
Dad

Maybe Finley is tired, too.

5.27.2017

growing up

Growing up is hard.

Watching my little boy develop and mature and become aware of more and more of life's intricacies is thrilling but also hard. He's only 2. My heart says that's practically still a baby, but my head can objectively see that this is so far from the truth. Mom-ing is emotionally hard for irrational reasons.

When Lucas turned 6 months old, it was quite the emotional milestone for me. He was sitting up and starting to move about and was sprouting his first toothbuds. He was legitimately not an infant anymore and it was difficult for my heart to accept. But time moved on, and the emotions eventually softened.

Somehow, his first birthday wasn't an emotional one for me. I was quite pleased with my newly walking, adorable as two red pandas, dancing chubster. Reaching the one year mark was just another day in the life of Lucas. The same went for his second birthday - no tears shed, no scrunched heart feelings, just normal acceptance of "He keeps getting older like he's supposed to!" I thought maybe I had lost the new mom feelings, the gut-squeezing desire for my child to stay tiny forever, or that somehow my emotional bond was becoming weaker/less emotional/more realistic as time passed.

But then when Lucas was 2 years 3 months 6 days old, he weaned. He nursed for the last time and never looked back. He didn't even have the courtesy to tell me it was the last time so that I could savor it. It was... devastating. I know that sounds dramatic, and my emotions may have been amped up from being 14 weeks pregnant, but it was a ridiculously emotional time for me. The slightest thought of anything related to nursing just set off the tears and feels. On the one hand, it was a relief to know that the mom emotions were definitely still present and strong. Clearly they were just casually lying in wait for the right gut-punching moment. But on the other hand, I felt like I had lost something so vital and so significant in my bond with Lucas, that now I was somehow less of a mom to him, and it was rough. Mom-ing is so emotionally hard for irrational reasons.

Since the Weaning of 2016, I have watched my munchkin just grow by leaps and bounds. Somehow he is surviving on normal people foods. He can deftly use his spoon to scrape off the tiniest pieces of food from his chin into his mouth. Our games of "chase" now require exerting energy and effort to catch him. He can repeat back word for word multiple sentences that we had no idea he was even listening to [which is always frightening]. He can make up elaborate stories and songs and thinks up questions that amaze me. He is a wonder. He is a full-blown kid, with almost zero baby-like tendencies.

Well, except for his swaddle.

His swaddle? Yes, his swaddle. That handy little velcro-wrap that you use on infants to keep their arms from flailing around and accidentally waking themselves. The piece of fabric that only goes up to a size Large for babies up to 6 months, maybe 9. The green and forest-animal-covered swaddle that can only barely be attached around his waist, that often comes un-velcroed in the middle of the night causing much sadness, and that we have had to sew up multiple times because his feet have worn through the bottom so that it's more of a skirt instead of a cozy leg burrito.That swaddle. Lucas, at the ripe old age of 32 months, weighing in at 30 pounds and measuring 3 feet tall, has to wear his swaddle every single time he goes to sleep.

That is, until tonight.

Cue the pregnant mama melodrama. When he decided, out of the blue, that he didn't want his swaddle tonight, something inside me crumbled. I don't know why. We have been trying for months upon months to get him to move past his swaddle stage, but every night we have lost the battle and we had honestly just given up and resigned ourselves to a leg-swaddled teenager. [We may have discussed multiple times making larger homemade swaddles to accommodate his growing legs... In all seriousness.] The swaddled legs gave him some kind of comfort and was apparently a very important part of his bedtime routine. It was one of those things that presented no real problem and just a little bit of inconvenience, so why fight it? Pick your battles. We apparently value an easy put down at bedtime over the appearance of a "normal" toddler. This should not be surprising at all.

Anyway. When I heard him say he didn't want his swaddle, my insides lurched. Who is this child and where did you put my baby? As we went through the bedtime routine, I kept expecting the swaddle demands to start but... they never did. And so here I sit, looking into the video monitor with a bird's eye view of my fast asleep, swaddle-less, legs-free son. And I don't know what to do with myself. It is so ridiculous to want to cry, but I have to keep squelching that tightening feeling in my throat. You hear about the milestones that your baby goes through, the first laughs and first steps and first words and first birthdays, but you never hear about the little milestones. The last time you look at your baby before seeing him as a toddler. The last time you have to comb sweet potato out of his hair. The last time you have to show him how to jump with both feet in the air. And the last time you have to make him suck in his big ol' belly to securely velcro him into his swaddle. Mom-ing is so, so incredibly emotionally hard for irrational reasons.

I feel guilty. For telling him to be a big boy. For always making him do things he clearly doesn't want to do. For gently manipulating him into thinking he wants to do something when it's really just me who wants him to do it. For always prompting him to be better, to learn and understand more, to see things from a rational point of view... In essence, to keep growing up. I feel guilty.

But at the same time, I feel pride. Every time Lucas excitedly "gets" something. Every time he joyfully sings the alphabet song. Every time he says, "I am impressed with myself." Every time he comes running up to me with his latest potty training report. Every time he corrects his own grammar. Every time he asks a ridiculously complex question. Every time he randomly thanks us for performing some menial favor - "Thank you, Mommy, for cutting my apple in little pieces for me to eat." Every time he makes just one more toddling step toward Big Kid-ness. I feel so much pride.

Mom-ing is emotionally hard for me, and it's a double whammy because I am not a huge fan of emotion. It is a constant balancing act between valleys of guilt and peaks of pride and joy and utter fulfillment. I would love to say, "I wouldn't have it any other way," but that probably wouldn't be true. I'd love for it to be all joy and giggles and good feelings and no tantrums and somehow keep my son simultaneously a baby and a capable, self-sufficient big kid. But I suppose this way, the real-life way, is better. Because with every step that Lucas makes into the world of Big Kid, I take an equal step of growth into Mom-ness with all of its heart-pounding excitement and gut-wrenching heartache.

We're both growing up and it can be hard sometimes, but I honestly could not have asked for a better little pal to do it with. Cheers, buddy. You are truly one of a kind.

Lucas loves putting clips in my hair - hair clips or chip clips, it doesn't seem to  matter to him.

You will always be my little boy.

4.04.2017

things a boy does

It doesn't really matter the question, the answer is almost always the same, five or six times a day: "'Cause I a boy and boys like <insert random activity> sometimes." I have no idea where Lucas came up with this response but it never fails to entertain [or disturb].

Some example queries:
"Lucas, why are you making a mess?"
"Lucas, why do you like that car?"
"Lucas, why do you have sauce all over your face?"
"Lucas, why are you playing tricks on me?"
"Lucas, why are you wearing an egg for a hat?"
"Lucas, why are you a contrarian?"
"Lucas, why do you want me in the kitchen?"
"Lucas, why don't you want me to kiss you?"
"Lucas, why do you smell funny?"

To be fair, "I a boy, and boys like to smell funny sometimes" does hold a good bit of truth, so I'll give him that one. But seriously, where does a little mind think of these things [and then stick to them with the tenacity of a python]?

I asked Jason today who Lucas got his odd duck-ness from and he just silently raised his eyebrows at me. Fair enough.

In other news, the marshmallow and I are plodding along. Week 29 is in that weird time period where it feels like D-Day is right around the corner yet also impossibly far away. If I want it to seem far away, I just tell myself I have the entire third trimester to go. Because, let's be honest, that last trimester when you basically live in the bathroom for half the day [Jason refuses to let me rig a just-for-convenience bed pan to myself, bah men] and spend the rest of the day trying only semi-successfully to comfortably sit, lie down, bend over, eat, roll over entertain a toddler, etc., it's an eternity unto itself. [I am honestly not complaining, just stating facts that need to be stated.] However, if I want it to seem like we're so close, I go through the following thought process:
-It's already April.
-In May, Jason is done with work.
-We then only have a month and a half to get ourselves prepped, physically and mentally, for munchkin number two.
-What.

On the prep front, there is also that weird limbo feeling, fluctuating between "We've got this" and "We are so not ready for this." There is the entire mental side of it, but there is also the more practical side [which we like to focus on because it is something we actually have control over]. We have to set up the marshmallow's new room. Sort through all of Lucas's old newborn stuff [how many breast milk stains on a onesie is acceptable on a hand-me-down?]. Wash.all.the.things. Figure out what things we'd wished we'd had on our first go-around and go on a shopping spree [JAMMIES WITH MITTENS].

Speaking of shopping, if you ever feel like you have this wad of unwanted cash or Amazon currency in your pocket and you're thinking to yourself, "I have absolutely no idea what to do with this richness. Maybe I should buy a melting face pig steamer or an Asian man wall decal or a set of finger hands finger puppets?" Don't do it. Instead, feel free to send it our way. We promise not to buy a headband with an attached mullet. We will only purchase things for the marshmallow. Promise. Or, feel free to browse our thrown together Amazon registry and grab up some of those diaper covers you've always wanted to buy but have never found an opportunity to do so! [Do not, however, under any circumstances, buy us a copy of this.] Logically, I feel like we've done this whole baby thing once so we technically shouldn't need anything this time around but babies always make logic kinda go out the window... We are preparing for the apocalypse here, people.

Since I have not blogged in such a long time, I suppose I should also supply some pregnancy-so-far details that I can reference in the future.

  • First trimester: So sleepy. And hungry. All the time hungry. Tofu and broccoli aversion [so much sadness]. 
  • Second trimester: Imagine a sloth. Imagine a Korean sloth. Imagine a Korean sloth with a fishbowl in its stomach. You are now accurately picturing me. Well done. 
  • Third trimester: We have arrived. Most days I feel pretty good and normal. 
    • By the scale, I've gained 12 pounds. By the mirror, I've gained 35. By my mind, I've gained 85.
    • My non-pregnant self sheds hair like a Great Pyrenees. My pregnant self sheds nothing. No more hair art in the shower. Sadness.
    • I can now eat two teaspoons of food per meal and feel like I can still breathe. Three is just asking for trouble. This does not mesh well with my desire to eat all the things all the time.
    • The marshmallow shakes my belly like a bowl full of jelly these days. He somehow knows when I'm trying to film it though and inconveniently stops whenever I pull out my camera. I think he's got a spy hole in my belly button.
    • I unashamedly use Jason to leverage me out of bed.
So. That's life right now. We are simultaneously winding down Jason's super tiring semester and gearing up for this summer's adventure of Vermette Family of Four. Here we come.

He's ready for anything.

2.15.2017

life according to Lucas

Cats make meowing sounds.
Chickens make eggs.
Owls make who-whooing sounds.
Crabs make underwater sounds.
Bees make humming sounds.
Dragons make puffing sounds.
Animals make pawing sounds.
Feet make footprints.
Bellies make belly buttons.
Mouths make tongues.
Noses make boogers.
Butts make poopies.
Tools make everything better.
Trucks make honking sounds.
Foods make tummies feel all right.
Trees make stumps.
Sun makes sunbeams.
Winter makes snowflakes.
Water makes puddles and drips.
Babies make crying sounds.
Mamas make food.
Dadas make everything all right.
Jesus makes "evah-thing"!

"I be Dada!"

1.20.2017

ramblings of a sleepy lady

Some days I feel like Awesome Mom of a Toddler. My kitchen is pretty clean-ish. I've played trains and chase and cars and tent and goose. I've remembered to drink water regularly. I've come up with a dinner plan. I've read fifteen books aloud on three separate occasions all before 1 PM. I might have even vacuumed several rooms of my perpetually dusty house. These are the days that I feel like a superhero. I feel like a rockstar. Another baby on the way? No problem. I've got this.

Some days I feel like I-Cannot-Handle-Another-Child Mom of a Tornado Beast. I can't see my kitchen counters and Lucas has dropped his lunch on the floor for the third time. I've sat down in the bathroom twice but have been interrupted twice to go diffuse this-is-the-end-of-the-world-and-I-might-be-dying wailing coming from the other room. I have to resist the urge to make a giant plate of nachos for lunch. My living room floor is a minefield of seven different toy areas and even suggesting some minor tidying elicits more of the above-mentioned wailing. All I want to do is curl up on the couch and go to sleep. But the tornado child instantly notices my fetal position, takes a break from emptying out his toy chest, and climbs on top of me saying, "Wake up, mama. No more sleep. Wake! Up!" Another baby on the way? Who came up with this plan? I'm done.

Today was one of those latter days. I'm so grateful to have a husband who comes home from his long day at work and immediately takes over childcare. He takes care of all the things. He walks into our battlefield of a bedroom, where Lucas has been wreaking havoc for the past 90 minutes, and doesn't even blink an eye. He stops to give me a hug and Lucas grabs his work pants and takes off down the hall. And... Breathe. Everything is better with Jason around. And THAT'S why I agreed to this second kid plan. It all makes sense now.

Growing a tiny human and raising a toddler who doesn't nap anymore is a challenge. I'm only 17 weeks along, but I want a babymoon, like, yesterday. Where's my time machine, unlimited resources, and well-rested child when I need it?! I spend a little time every day dreaming up fantastic, relaxing, vacation getaways to cope. But then I realize that even if I went on my vacation, I would still want to bring my little munchkins along and, let's be honest, rest and relaxation would naturally suffer a tad. So then I get a little more realistic in my dreams: I just want to nap once daily. Is that so much to ask? "Wake! Up! Mama! Open eyes!"

I love my life, just in a much more sleepy way than before. And I wouldn't mind some nachos.

Pregnant me does not do nice, put-together pictures. This is as good as it gets, folks. At least Lucas is a cutie!

PS. We got to feel the Marshmallow kick the other day. The feeling never gets old. It's like there's a kungfu goldfish in there. Magical indeed!

1.08.2017

time travel

Have you ever wanted to time travel? Of course you have. Here's your chance! So apparently I wrote the following post back in October. And because I do so hate to write words and have them lost to the winds (read: deleted), I am just going to throw them out here now.

So.
Close your eyes.
Think back to your October (if you want more specificity, October 18th...ish).
Read the following post. (You will have to open your eyes to do this.)

Enjoy time travel! It will probably be nowhere near as satisfying as you've always imagined it.

*************

Lucas and I like to roughhouse. We wrestle and squeal; I tickle him and blow raspberries on his belly; he climbs on top of me, tackles me in a hug, and inevitably [accidentally] kicks me in the stomach, digs his elbows into my chest, and headbutts me in the throat. Great times are had all around.

Life has reached an excellent level of normal. We are a family of three that thrives on routine. Our days are filled in ways I would have never imagined two years ago but I can't imagine them any other way. Our new normal is near perfect. (Oh, naps, why have you fled Lucas?) Life is good.

But the day comes in a toddler's life when he has to be told that his normal is about to change. That day came today.

We were playing our daily game of "hide," a game where the two [sometimes three] of us crawl under a blanket and hide from Puma [if we're downstairs] or the "blue bird with a blue beak with no wings and two feet to walk slowly who eats flies and brown food" [if we're upstairs]. As always, Lucas became more and more frenzied and would come dashing under the blanket, limbs a-flailing, drool a-dripping, eyes alight with the excitement of the imaginary bird having possibly seen him. And, as always, he clambered up me, knees finding purchase in my gut and feet kicking repeatedly as he attempted to get as high up on me as possible. Usually, I'm relatively okay with this rough treatment as it's a fun game and I love the cuddles and snuggles that generally result once he gets all settled in under the blanket tent. But today, today I decided it was time to gently change his normal.

I told him he should try to be more gentle. I told him I liked hiding with him but maybe he could try being a little calmer. I told him I would like to not be kicked in the stomach anymore. And I told him: "There's a baby in my belly."

That's right. A baby. In my belly. Again. [Okay, fine, technically not my belly, but the concept of a uterus is completely lost on Lucas. Trust me.]

We are stoked.

When Lucas heard what I said, it was the most amazing thing. He just froze. He instantly calmed. He stared at my stomach. He said, "Wooow." The expression on his face was incredible. Since he had no reason not to, he seemed to take my statement at face value, 100% literally. There's a baby in mama's belly. He had this adorably curious and awed smile and kept leaning his face in towards my stomach and then back out. "Baby..."

He is going to be an amazing big brother. I know it. And this new little marshmallow is going to be so, so, SO loved.


1.04.2017

busy things

Warning: most of this post is about what has been keeping me from blogging for the past 5 months, which is work. Skip to the end if you want to just read about the fun stuff.

The fall semester was very busy for me. Unfortunately, I wrote 0 blogs during that time. I was teaching two classes that I had never taught before, so I had to do all of my course prep from scratch for those in addition to updating my material for my other two classes.

The first class was Discrete Math. I am obligated by my absurd sense of humor to inform you that this is not doing math in secret. It refers to the study of discrete mathematical objects (as opposed to continuous ones - think things that are separated from each other, like integers, instead of things that run together in a continuum, like real numbers). The real purpose of the class is to introduce mathematical logic and proof technique, but that's extremely dry (actually, very interesting! but only to me...) so I taught it using topics in discrete math as a vehicle. It's a very common first course in proof and logic. This was one of my favorite courses in undergrad, and one of the ones that convinced me to become a math major (I was a math minor before I took it). In the class, I taught how to prove things using pure logic starting with basic assumptions. We started with basic properties of integers (odd/even, prime/composite, divisibility) and moved on from there. We covered a wide variety of topics after that, from recursion to function theory to probability and counting to graph theory. It was a lot of fun for me.

The other class was called Foundations of Geometry. You might think the word foundations implies it is like high school geometry, but maybe easier (the foundations are the beginning, so they should be easy, right?). Really, it is a course on building all of geometry from a small set of axioms. We built Euclidean geometry (which is what you learn in high school) as well as much of hyperbolic geometry (which is a very strange place indeed). We also discussed other possible geometries. The strangest thing you might have learned in my class would be that the universe is probably not really Euclidean, but some kind of mix between Euclidean and hyperbolic geometries. This means that some of what you learned in high school geometry is actually a lie. Most surprisingly:
  • Given a line and a point not on the line, there is more than one line through the point parallel to the original line (try drawing that to see that it's not what you expect).
  • The angles of a triangle actually add up to less than 180 degrees (the larger the area of the triangle, the smaller the sum of the angles)
  • There are no non-congruent similar triangles.
  • There is no such thing as a rectangle.
Weird, right? Luckily, when things are on a small scale (like the size of a solar system), things still look close enough to Euclidean that we can't tell the difference. So, engineers of the world, you can continue to use Euclidean geometry. While you're at it, stick with Newtonian physics. But if you work for NASA, maybe learn some hyperbolic geometry and relativistic physics.

I enjoyed teaching both of these classes. I was surprised how much I enjoyed the axiomatic approach to geometry. Basically, we started with the bare minimum assumptions, and then proved that the rest of what we know of geometry (and some stuff we didn't know) follows from those axioms using only pure logic. It was surprisingly interesting, and surprisingly difficult to teach. The main challenge was making it accessible. I spent countless hours on it, which is one reason I wrote exactly 0 blogs.

This spring marks the first semester in which I will not be teaching any classes that I've never taught before. All of my class prep will just be adapting what I did last time to make it better. This would have made it a very open semester for me, but we are starting a couple online classes that I will be teaching. You might think that it'd be hard to give an online class in math. Yep, it will be. We can't exactly just tell students to read the textbook and discuss it in an online forum. Instead, I'll be creating virtual lectures on my computer to closely approximate what you'd get in a classroom. I will make a video where I write on the screen like a whiteboard in the classroom, and narrate with roughly the same lecture I'd give in person. It will take quite a bit of time to create all the videos, but I'm hopeful that it'll go really well. Obviously in some ways it'll be harder for students - they can't interrupt me to ask questions - but it'll also be easier in that they can pause and rewind and re-watch anything they need to until they understand. And, of course, I will be available to answer questions online. This spring I'll be teaching both of the courses described above, but online. Let me know if you want to take one. Only partly joking.

So, enough about teaching. During all of this time, Lucas has gone from stumpy little guy saying 7 total words to basically-full-grown guy who says things everyday that I had no idea he knew. He's gotten really funny, too ("Mommy say wrong word," "Nap zero minutes!"), and to us he seems so smart. I have no frame of reference, but I'm constantly amazed by how much he understands and the complex thought patterns he displays.

One of my favorite things: whenever I'm playing anything with Lucas and he really starts to have fun, he gets all excited and giggly and shouts "Game!" One great game of note: he has me chase him around (or vice versa) and we each pretend to be something ("Dada 'tend piwate cat. Lukie 'tend monkey"). The game is called, simply, Chase. It is his favorite game in the whole world. In ideal situations, it is broken up by "Crash!"-es, which are: HUGS, after which I am assigned a new character to 'tend to be and we chase all over again.

To top it all off, Sharayah is cooking up another little marshmallow for me to play with, coming June 2017.

Yep, I have the best life in the world.