Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's Called the 'Robin Thicke Normal.' And I like it that way.

I think that  in the heart of every mom is a place (some bigger than others) where she just wants to feel as though she’s like every other mom. Normal. The same.  Healthy. Whatever you wish to call it. It's the feeling that you get when you want to know you're doing a decent job. Sure, your kids are alive, but are they actually thriving? Is it 

It’s a feeling that we as humans feel, to some degree or another, throughout our life. Checks and balances. Am I doing what every other person seems to be doing? Am I doing it right? Am I sticking out?  Does this feel authentic? There is a time and place for sticking out, I should know. But, the truth is, when it comes to mothering… there is a good way to stick out and a not so good way to stick out. I can manage both pretty well. Good, in that I feel I do a heck of a job teaching Chloe how to communicate well and be a fun toddler instead of a nightmare toddler. Bad, in that I listen to Miley Cyrus (oh, get over yourself) too much.  But, here’s the deal. Most of the time, even I just want my mothering style to fit in.

So, here’s the deal. This morning I took Chloe to my MOPS meeting with me. Why is this news worthy? Because Chloe has never been watched by anyone other than family. Ever. Why? Because we’re fortunate enough to have all of our family in town and I’m fortunate enough to work part-time. Plus, my mother is God sent. Truly. So, today was a big deal for me.  

I chose to take her with me for several reasons. 1. I assume she is getting to the age where she would enjoy socializing with little people her age (which is true) 2. It would give my mom a break (even though she has never asked for one) and 3. I wanted to be like everyone else in MOPS that drops their kiddos off with snacks and smiles to play in the church nursery until our meeting is over. It seemed legit and normal and a good idea. And legit is good.

And please don’t misunderstand me. It IS a good idea, it’s a GREAT idea. MOPPETS (as the kiddos are called) is a really amazing community of moms/helpers who volunteer their time to watch our little ones while we enjoy fellowship, food and friends. So, the problem is only with me, not anything else.

Here’s the problem. I’m a spoiled rotten mom. It’s not that I love my child any more than others. It’s not that my child is better than others (okay, maybe a little). It’s that I’m SPOILED ROTTEN. For those of you that know me, you probably aren’t very surprised at this point. Dropping off Chloe (to a complete stranger) was rough. As it is for any mom. But all I could keep thinking is that this very kind person doesn’t know that Chloe likes ice in her ‘agua’ or that she enjoys talking on random objects that she knows is really a ‘phone’ to a 4 year old girl named Addy that she doesn’t really know and lives in NC, or that she likes to Eskimo kiss every 14 seconds. Or that you need to sing the ABC’s, but let her sing the letters C, G, P, V, and Z. Or that she enjoys wearing a bow for a moment and then wants to hold it for the rest of the day. Or that she likes to growl like the Lion on Baby Einstein and for you to pretend to be scared.

But, as I walked away from her in that tiny little room and up the stairs for my meeting, I let all that go. I realize that’s normal to feel that way and I wanted very badly for her to enjoy her playtime, so that all my worries were swept away. I wanted to let her be Chloe.

So, at the end of the meeting I went back to the nursery to pick her up. I was met by a stroller (for 8 kiddos) in the hallway filled with 3 screaming babies and my little girl with big red eyes (and a scratched eye lid, but those things happen). She looked up and me and said “mama” with outstretched arms and a very pathetically sad face. Perhaps she practiced it, because she is, after all, my child.  I don’t care either way. She could have easily won an academy award. I literally died inside. I picked her up and she just melted into my arms. The teachers said she did great but was bored (being one of the older kiddos in the group) and seemed to get upset when another little boy starting crying.  Then, as I was leaving they mentioned that every time she went to the door, she would call for me. Excellent. I’ll just leave the knife in my chest, thanks.

But as I walked to the car, I told myself that she was fine. She survived and I survived. Now I was normal. Phew. A normal mom who enjoyed the time away. But, I didn’t feel good about it. Why? It wasn’t MY normal. And the interesting thing was that our devotional today was about just that.
Mothering with Grace. Mothering your children in a way that only you can do; in a way that only YOU were made for. 

This spoke to me for several reasons. 1. My normal doesn’t fit for everyone. I’m loud, my child is loud and my household is more than some people can probably stand. I let Chloe defrost more food than should be allowed for the sake of play. (She is currently eating frozen green beans out of the bag…hmm…that can’t be good). I encourage her to dance around the room to Robin Thicke in the mornings for exercise.  2. It’s okay when something doesn’t fit. Live the life you want to live. Be the parent you want to be. God has great plans (especially since 99.9% of the time they are not mine). This all sounds nice, but the truth is today was a small little thing but a big lesson for me. I have to just be Chloe’s mom and not the mom I think I need to be for whatever stupid reason.

Again, I’m incredibly fortunate in that I can CHOOSE to keep my kiddo at home because I have my selfless mother right down the street. I know that privilege. But, I also realize that it’s a HUGE privilege to be able to choose between that and an amazing church nursery. What I realized today is that it’s just not for me. I also learned today that God will prepare me in due time for the first day of school. (And Lord knows we have some work to do).

But, the truth is Chloe is 21 months old. She’s teetering on toddlerhood, but the truth is she’s MY tiny, little (9 lb) baby.  She won’t remember this experience or ever know the difference between staying at home and going to MOPPETS. But, what I hope she will know and experience one day is the gift of choice and Mothering with Grace. Or, as I like to call it, Mothering with God and Robin Thicke on your side.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Vacation from a vacation, anyone??

Oh, Mexico! The land of never, say never.

After two blissful (mostly, details to follow) weeks in the Mexican sun I've learned several new things about myself. 1. If I could get hired to read all day on a beach I would quit my current job. 2. I'm a parent with no backbone. 3. Two weeks without much Internet access is completely divine. Also,  I've decided I rely too much on Facebook for spreading the news of our silly little lives. So, here's to half-year resolutions and hoping it doesn't mean half-effort. Blogger's paradise, here I come.

So, Mexico. Ejole! What. A. Trip. Andrew and I have never done the entire two weeks before and I think we learned that with kiddos, its a bit long. Without them- total bliss. :)

The trip started (as some of you know) with a decision to make about our car seat dilemma- to take or not take. We took after we realized that our transfer ride requires one, but does not provide one. Let me just say Thank you sweet little seven pound (maybe He was bigger) Baby Jesus that we took it. The airplane ride TO Mexico was a little slice of heaven. That is, once Chloe stopped kicking the seat in front just because she could. So here come the first of the 'never say nevers'...she watched a movie almost the entire trip. I said I would never let my child be completely enthralled with said entertainment over reading, playing games or talking with us. I LIED. Baby Einstein is not only crack for babies, it's crack for parents who need quiet. (I'm not kidding, I think it really might be telepathically providing my child with crack and I'm fairly okay with that at this point). She's obsessed.

So, anyway, she watched her videos, ate crap I swore I'd never feed her (details to follow) and really enjoyed sharing (at full volume) all the words she knew with all the people around us. Luckily her version of "Doodie" is really cute. Yes, you are correct. We are now talking about feces.
It really wasn't that big of a deal to carry (we bought a rolling bag) and she enjoyed being able to sit in her "Adda" for the entire trip. My girl makes up words... so what. At the point at which we deboarded (is that a word? it is now) the plane, Andrew and I were high-fiving and thinking we were Master Parents.  Oh, did God think that was funny.


Anyway, we got to Mexico and life was good. Great. Had a beer and some fresh guac poolside when we arrived. Fantastic. Blissful, in fact. Chloe began her fascination with salt and pepper shakers and was all smiles, which meant so were we. These two weeks were gonna fly, I just knew it.

Then... it was nap time.

Okay, fine. Crib is already in the room. We can head up, I'll finish up the book I'm reading only to start another one (it is vacation, after all) and Andrew can take a nap. We decided that although it would be ideal to hit the sand, we could both handle a few hours of downtime on our porch while Chloe naps.  [Cue creepy laughter again.]  We get her ready, blanket in hand....and...wait for it.....

I realize I have a tendency to exaggerate things when they are bad, good, happy, sad all the time but seriously, I'm quite surprised the Mexican CPS agents weren't at our door (do they have those?). She had lost her friggin' mind.

I'll fast forward a bit and share the special details of the next few hours. After my attempt at playing the 'calming, but firm mommy' for about 30 minutes I went out on the porch and fell asleep. SO???? don't judge.

Andrew picked up where that pathetic excuse of a mother left off and proceeded to hold Chloe in his arms for the entire two and half hour nap she took. TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I woke up on the balcony to drool and this. Oops.

Some might think he deserves an award, I say he's just trying to make me look bad. And it worked. Chloe was afraid of her new room and had some trouble adjusting. But, the adjusting didn't come to an end just yet.

Dinner is great. Amazing company, good wine. Parents rock. Let's all hit the hay for a fun day in the sun. Sounds good, right? WRONG AGAIN, NIMROD.

We again placed Chloe in the crib (which I believe was made that afternoon by two chipmunks with deposable thumbs. Barely. Hanging. On. She sat up, stared at me while I left the room and then let out a zinger. She cried for the next hour. And parents out there... you KNOW how long an hour is. So did our neighbors. They were pounding the floors, ceilings, walls. It was a special evening. But it wasn't over after an hour. Nope.

For Chloe's next trick she will sleep while standing the FREAK up. Yep. Here is the proof you thought didn't exist.

TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I can't make this stuff, folks. TWO AND A HALF HOURS OF SLEEP STANDING.  At that time (let's see, about 1:45 a.m.) I begged Andrew to go get her. **SIDE NOTE, CONFESSION AHEAD**

I have always, always, always sworn I would not have my child sleep with me until they walked their little heinie downstairs for a bad dream or something. (I'm not a monster). But, as a baby, I SWORE it wouldn't happen. Well, it happened...for 45 minutes.

Andrew went and got her and laid her in between us. I figured it was harmless for the first night and we were both exhausted (yes, even after my 2.5 hr nap...i said no judging). She had been sound asleep already, so I figured there was no harm. But there was...literally. After another hour of giving her self a standing ovation for no apparent reason in the total dark, pinching Andrew's nose and pulling my little side hairs (those hurt like you wouldn't believe), she was up and ready to party. It is now 2:45 a.m. Andrew got up (read: parent of the century), rocked her for 30 minutes and put her back in bed (ahem, with us) for the remainder of the night (or until 6 a.m. when he was promptly kicked in the face with a tiny little ninja foot).

Welcome to Paradise. Only thirteen more days to go.

But the truth is, it was paradise. We had perfect weather, lots of fun family time and lots of laughs and time spent doing nothing. It sucked to see the Spurs lose (mostly because I'm married to Andrew) and because also because we wasted five good nights of delicious dinners for take out to watch them blow it away. But... even those nights in were amazing and fun. Mainly because I have a fun, amazing family. Here we are watching the Spurs win. 

See? We're fun. Everyone tends to their own personal chaos and it all just works.

And Chloe LOVED being outside all day. She would do it every day if she could, but it is hotter in Texas and there is no beach or awesome poolside drinks. So, I say no. But, she would. However, Chloe's idea of Mexican Riviera vacation is a bit different than, say, anyone else's on the planet. You might be thinking she would enjoy a bit of baby pool action, followed by a quick diaper change and a fun-filled session of sand castle building and snacks? No.

Our days were filled with finding rocks in the flower beds, riding the elevator up and down and up and down and up... you get the picture. And then getting in the water, out of the water. In the water, out of the water. And finished up with carrying the side tables under each umbrella. Carrying them where, you might be asking? Anywhere. Carrying tables IS AWESOME.

trying to decide if it's worth her time. 

playing by the trashcan with a bucket full of rocks and a nifty plastic table. my girl was in heaven. hey chloe- the beach is the other way. pshhh. babies. 

not a lot of people know this, but plastic side tables are very versatile. they can be carried, yes. but, they can also be placed on top of lounge chairs as well.

          in the water and out of the water, 100% of people surveyed agree that she is adorable in Mexico.

 so, yes. much of our time was spent at the baby pool, hanging out with other babies that weren't as cute and begging the waiters to make the trek over to the loser pool to bring us drinks. but honestly, we wouldn't have had it any other way. the view is better when you're smiling. or something like that. or maybe nothing like that at all.

here are some fun pics of fam, fun and friends. wow i'm a good writer.

us and the 'rents on a fun night out to dinner. they are easily the most generous people in the world.

 my whole world at the beach. one of them is having more fun than the other. don't guess. it's actually depressing how quickly this moment was over.

this was taken seconds before she realized she was sitting in sand.

   the first day out at the beach! (after the night from h-e-double hockey sticks).

                                                 yes, i know how lucky i am.

its funny how many pictures we took of Chloe in the sand. it happened as many times as you see pics and not a moment more.

                                                    my beauty.

oh,  and i almost forgot to include a picture of my second never say never. see it and weep. i did. but you know what? it wasn't my idea (the waiter brought it to the table) and it worked like a charm. so SUE me. i got to eat some bread without having to share. worse things have been happened.

(and my third never say never may or may not involved my daughter sucking ranch dressing off a french fry and then eating them. WHAT? quit judging, it was honestly Coco's fault.)

oh, and this definitely happened. just wanted y'all to see it, too. also, it should be noted it was 8 in the MORNING. this = awesome. (and yes, i'm going straight to hell. see you there.)

just a mom. a mom shopping for crap in a Mexican tienda. with a shopping cart made of small baby crates painted bright colors and tiny, crooked wheels. no biggie.

             what a fun night full of mariachis, big margaritas and REAL MEXICAN FOOD! yummo.

Coco and Baby Luke! The happiest baby on the planet... who did a great job of showing up his older cousin in the pool. The man has some serious swim moves.

                                       my amazing parents and a big a$$ margarita.

i've decided this is the only way traveling for two weeks with an 18 month old sounds like a good idea.

                   cute babies headed to playa del carmen!

the beach gang- andrew, dad and patrick were off playing golfo.

                after an amazingly delicious lunch at the mayakoba resort. truly a stunning place.                
                                           (brooker was off scuba diving in Cozumel).

just another day in paradise.

my parents even babysat one night while andrew and i went out with brooker and shane!

super excited to finally meet him. great company, great dinner! our only group pic also included my aura. its a bit cloudy and overbearing. hmm. weird.

date night with a hottie in mexico. lucky me. 


                      almost famous.

 it rained a few days, which as the whitest member of my family,  i have grown to appreciate. everyone sees the clouds and frowns. i see them and say, THREE CHEERS TO THE TANLESS NERDS! 

so all in all, we had a blast.

oh, who am i kidding? no story is complete without an ending. and boy do we have one. if you are still reading this, i'm sorry i'm a long-winded writer with little to no apparent skill. but, bear with me for one more paragraph or three.

so for most of the trip (and i do mean 12 out of 14 days) Chloe had a small rash on the back of her knees. we all assumed heat rash, as it went away each night after she cooled down and had her bath. some days it wouldn't show up at all. but on our way home, the rash returns with vengeance. she gets a low grade temp and i'm worried at this point she may have an allergy to something or *gasp* have an ear infection. she goes to bed the night before we fly home and wakes up with a slightly worse rash. no fever. no other symptoms. by the time we get to the airport the rash is uglier, bigger and now on her neck. awesomeeeeeeee.

long story short (and i do mean short)... remember our first night in Cancun? sleep-standing, tantrums, no sleep and a swift kick into andrew's face? well, TAKE TWO. although this time it involved, NO SLEEP whatsoever, and a busted lip on MY FACE direct from Chloe's head. different night, same ol' pathetic story. PLUS... are you ready for this?

a diagnosis of impetigo. if you don't know what it is, consider yourself lucky. if you do,  at least I have some of your pity as a consolation prize. thank you.

and whoever said they don't give out free souvenirs in Mexico? Not I.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Vacations, Poop and Eggs. In that order.

Out of the bloggers abiss and back into the attempt to keep things fresh. So much has happened since the last post that it's not even worth explaining. So, I'll just start with quick recap of the last few months... Plus, who am I kidding? I post everything and anything on Facebook, anyway. Andrew says Facebook knows before he does (and he's probably right).

Let's see... Andrew and I took our FIRST post-Chloe vacation to Santa Fe alone and it was fabulous. Three full days of eating, treating ourselves to the Inn at Loretto Spa (ahhhhmazing) and laying low. Santa Fe feeds my soul in a way that only Santa Fe can. Andrew loves it too, but definitely humors me as a walk around deeply inhaling every five feet and telling him what we can do when we retire here.  I finally got to the Georgia O'Keefe museum and was a bit let down. It was primarily her early art and I was interested, but had been excited to see her beautiful flowers. Eh. Oh well, we still learned that she was as fascinating as I had assumed. Anyway, the weekend was exactly at we needed. Although, I must say, that was about as long as I would prefer to be gone from the Bee Bop at this point.

Next up was our vacation to see Brooke (Auntie Bubs) in North Carolina. We have missed visiting over the past year due to Chloe's arrival and the craziness that ensued with having a baby. So, Andrew and I were excited to finally get Chloe up there for a visit. As you can see below, at the beginning of the trip we were smiling. All of us. Happy. Excited. Travelers.

No pictures were taken at the end of the five hour trip in order to protect the innocent. And, just to clarify NO pictures were taken throughout our travels back home to San Antonio. Reasons to follow.

For those of you that followed my blog back when, I wrote a little ditty about a day trip to Fredericksburg, Tx that we took when Chloe was 8 weeks old. It ended badly. As in, Chloe was wearing new overpriced tie dyed "Keep Austin Weird" onesie...three poopy explosions later. Well, this didn't involve three poopy diapers, but DID involve one poopy explosion during take-off and a hand/wrist/arm (being of the mother kind) full of poop. Did I mention it was during take off? Well, it was. And I'm talking wheels coming up from the ground, seat belts fastened, no turning back tack-off. I look down and Chloe is working hard at something in her pants. I'll save you the gory details, but I will tell you this occurred AFTER a previous three hour flight that was supposed to take two hours (due to headwind?) and a fussy baby who noted that she was uninterested in flying again as we boarded the plane. Cue the poop.

And yes, there was a poor victim sitting in our aisle because we cheapies didn't buy Chloe a seat. #firsttimeparentsarestupid

However, I will note that each time we boarded a flight (going and coming back) we bought every person around us a $5 Starbucks gift card. It was pretty nice of us, I must admit. Why? Buying their patience, duh. Andrew told each person that Chloe bought them a cup of coffee in appreciation for their patience. Haha. It worked. Not a peep about our stinky, loud, attention-demanding daughter.

Anyway, back to the poop.

So the wheels pull up and the poop comes out. I cringe because I'm not sure what to do. It stinks. I'm hot. I'm tired and about to lose it. But, before I do... I came up with an ingenious plan to get rid of the smell. I did what I assumed any sane, reasonable person would do. I went in and got it. Yup. Without a blink I looked at Andrew and said, load me up with wipes. Wrap my entire fist in them...I'm going in.

Before you judge, hear me out. I knew it was going to smell. I knew she couldn't sit in it. I knew I had Arm & Hammer bags to throw it in. I *thought* it would stink worse to change her standing up between my legs (as I had done with pee pee diapers the entire trip) {stops to take a bow}. So, I assumed I had only one option and that was to excavate the poop.

Andrew looked at me with crazy eyes. I didn't care. If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. He grabbed the wipes, I wrapped my hands and without another word, my hand was so far in her diaper I didn't know which way was up. About the time I realized she had pooped up her diaper and it was now covering my upper arm and now her shirt, she let out a mighty scream to alert the plane of my wrong doing. At that point, while trying to distract her and terribly failing, I've decided that I can't pull my arm out without getting poop on the seat in front of me, so I take one for the team, pull her against me and pull out. Now, perhaps you read my assumption above that I hypothesized it would stink more to change her or to let her sit in it. That was incorrect. What stinks more, I learned, is to hold the poop in your hand in in the *fresh* air. Who would have guessed?

At this point, Chloe is screaming, I need a towel to wipe the sweat dripping off my brow and I am quickly thrown right back into that bathroom in Fredericksburg, Tx. A place I never, ever wanted to visit. Andrew is still staring, mind you. He opens the Arm & Hammer bag enough for me to drop my findings and immediately seals it (those don't work to appropriately mask a smell in close quarters, FYI). I begin to clean myself as my daughter decides she wants to sit on the floor of the plane instead of be cleaned. And I let her. Sue me. She sat in what was left of her mess for the rest of the plane trip and I continued to stink until I arrived home to shower. No superhero moments at the end of this one, ladies and gents. Just a stinky mom and a stinky daughter.

On a positive note, our money wasn't wasted on those gift cards though. They earned them, don't you think?

Once we got there, life was good. The weather was freezing according to my standards and we had some rain, but it didn't matter because we were finally seeing Brooklyn! Chloe loved every bit her of her non-baby proofed apartment and Brooke was a great sport while watching her things get rearranged. :) We ate lots of great food and had amazing hang out time.  Brooke and I even went to the George Strait finale tour and had such a fun night! It was weird to see him in North Carolina and I must admit I was a bit of a Texas snob that night. I may not be a real cowgirl or come close, but I know what a real one looks like and honey, y'all ain't it. :) Plus, George loves us better because we live in the same town and he just likes me better because I said so.

Now if we could only get Auntie Bubs to move back to Texas (cough cough cough) things would be great!

 When she got home, she had her 15-month appointment filled with undesired shots and lots of TLC. She did great and is in the 71% for height, 35% for weight and 80% for head circumference. Just where we want her... healthy, happy and big-brained.

 After her appointment, she called all her friends and let them know the shots weren't THAT bad.

Then, we met Coco, Aunt Andrea and Baby Luke for lunch. She is getting to be so sweet with him and it makes my heart happy. Although, being sweet with him usually involves trying to poke at his eyes. 

It also involves, smelling his feet. 
What kind of cousin would she be if she didn't make sure his feet didn't smell? 

The next day was Passover (actually it started while we were gone) but we finally got to celebrate with family Tuesday. Chloe had a great time playing with her family and getting all the Ross love possible. Here are some pictures of her second Passover! She even partook in a Ross style Harlem shake. Amazing fun.

Here she is dancing with Great Grandma Hana!

 Getting lots of love from her G.G. & Grandpa Steven!
 G.G. & Great Grandma Hana!
 Getting lots of help negotiating Afikomen from Cousin Allison

 And lastly, playing with her favorite new found toy, the dog bowls. Keep it classy, Chloe.

Next up was Easter with her Murphy family and, as always, she had a blast! We had so much fun with her this year because she actually kind of cared, in a mostly not caring way. She went to church and made it through approximately 12 minutes without trying to get out of the aisle. She tried to eat her dyed egg, successfully hunted for Easter eggs and even got a bite of a vanilla cupcake (Lord have Mercy). She loved every bit of it.
 Her Easter Bunny loot!
 Obligatory church family photo.
 Serious 'bout those eggs.

 Any good egg hunt ends with a Easter basket swing session.

And that brings us up-to-date. Chloe is loving life. We are loving her (and life) and enjoying each day. She is NON STOP. Says about 8 words (mostly) and is LOUD, happy and FUN!

Peace, Erin