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.