Now, this doesn’t seem all that bad, right? Just clipping a few fingernails and toenails every once in a while, right? No. Absolutely not. There is no way to describe the magnificent torture that is making sure your babies/kids’ fingernails and toenails are groomed appropriately. Not only do they have to be short, but they also have to be rounded, with no snagged edges or corners. Otherwise, it looks like your kid pissed off Edward Scissorhands.
The jury is still out on the best way to trim these flimsy but sharp daggers on the ends of our sweeties’ fingers and toes. I have friends who bite them off, but that still churns my stomach to think about. They tell me, “You can feel their skin better that way, and it’s easier not to cut them while you’re doing it.” What I hear is, “You put your kid’s fingers/toes in your mouth, bite down really hard, and hope you don’t taste blood.” It’s a bummer that however you do it. I just take a pair of those “Safety 1st” clippers and pray.
You know what else is a bummer? The fact that, like everything else on a baby, those nails grow with supernatural speed. If I want to “grow out my nails” – something I occasionally want to do to prove my femininity – it takes me weeks. EK and J both seem to need their nails cut every three days. (Note: It’s possible that part of the reason for the too-often need to cut their nails stems from the fact that I can never seem to cut all twenty in one sitting.) I should probably do EK’s about that often, because nowadays it seems there is always gunk underneath them: dirt, food, and ????
If I can manage it, I pass the job of nail cutting to someone else. Grandparents, Hubby, and probably strangers do a better job than I do at keeping those nails groomed. My mom can somehow get the job done if the kid is in a highchair. Why this makes a difference, I’m not sure. I have tried it, and I still have the same amount of success I would if they were on a roller coaster. Maybe they can tell how nervous I am?
Do you have tips on how to get my least favorite dirty job done? Powers of distraction or methods to calm, perhaps?
How often do you pray for what you want? A friendship to mend. A job opportunity to work out. A boyfriend to pop the question.
I bet those things don’t work out like we plan as often as we wish. We lose touch with the friend. We don’t get the job. The boyfriend says things “aren’t working out”. And we are left hurting.
It sucks down there in the pit… the pit in which we feel we’re stuck after every situation that ends a different way than we plan. How will you ever forgive that friend? What will you do since you couldn’t get your dream job? Will you find a love as good as the one you had?
Friends, these are valid questions. I won’t tell you they’ve never crossed my mind, or that they shouldn’t cross yours. It’s the human experience, wondering these things. But listen to this: That isn’t what God has for you.
There are incredible plans for you. He knows what you need. Isn’t that comforting? What a relief! Even when you’ve had the wrong idea all this time, He’s had the right one. God has fashioned a perfect journey, and you’re already on it. It might not be easy. It might not be safe in our personal bubble. But it is GOOD. His highest for you is so much more wishing and wondering. He has a perfect place for you to be. He has the perfect way and time for you to get there. He will lead you to the perfect brothers and sisters in His name.
There are so many clichés that non-empathetic people love to use… mostly ones that we don’t want to hear. God’s timing is perfect. Hindsight is 20/20. When God closes a door, He opens a window. Blah blah blah. Of course they’re true. They wouldn’t be clichés if they weren’t true. But who wants to hear that?! I want someone to say, “Yeah, that’s an awful feeling. I’ve been there.” and then pray for me. I know that God has a plan. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t hurt. I know an amazing future is ahead – but that doesn’t mean I’m not totally impatient waiting on it!
Take heart, right now. His best is on its way. I promise. He promises. Pick your head up, trudge up from the pit, and shout to Him, “I’m ready! I want to trust You and move on!” He will pick you up and help you onward. And if you need a sister to pray with you and for you and hold your hand, I’m your gal. Or connect with a church. Or find a fellowship. Reach out. I can’t do it for you (believe me I would if I could). If you can’t muster up the faith that He has your best, call on someone to believe it for you. He has it. His best. For you. Always.
Everyone does it. Whether they do it at home, out in public with the masses of other people doing it, or downstairs in the basement of their apartment complex, we all do it. Yep. Laundry. In our home, this chore can quickly become the bane of our very existence. For one, neither Hubby nor I are very good at it. Yes, we understand the mechanics. Yes, we can do each step involved in the process correctly. However, we aren’t great at completing all the steps in a reasonable amount of time. Hubby packs the washer, but the clothes don’t usually get into the dryer. I pack the washer, move them to the dryer, and even get them out onto the guest bed (Official Hsu House Laundry Station), but I very rarely fold them. I walk downstairs to the guest room to find my underwear, my favorite jeans, or the kids’ pajamas on a regular basis.
So Hubby and I created (on the spot, of course, because we are he is super witty) a little thing we call “Laundry Blitz”. It’s when we put on some music or a movie on the laptop, and wash/dry/fold as many clothes as we possibly can. Sometimes, if things aren’t that bad, it takes us about 30 minutes to get everything folded, separated into the room it should be taken, to put away. Every once in a while Once a month or so, it’s so bad that it takes the two of us a couple of hours (or several shorter sessions) to get everything done. More often than that, I bring up a basket of clean clothes, and never put them away. Then, you guessed it. Those baskets sit until we’ve worn all the clothes in them and they go back downstairs to be loaded again.
I know we have four people, but we all wear more than one outfit a day pretty often, especially the kids, and theirs aren’t often re-wearable. Does anyone else have this problem? Anyone have any great ideas about how to tackle and keep track of the laundry situation?
EDIT 07-02-14: A friend sent me this pic, and I had to add it! Enjoy the irony.
I love consignment stores. Specifically, I love the consignment stores in Winston. Our house is furnished almost entirely with furniture from these various stores, sometimes fixed up, sometimes changed a bit, and sometimes looking exactly like it did when we bought it.
Yesterday, I bought two old, wooden filing cabinets. They are sturdy, made of solid wood, painted white and distressed (probably from actual use). Right when I saw them, I immediately thought of the storage they would provide in my son’s room. The general idea is toys in the bottom drawers, clothes and blankets in the upper drawers. His room has mostly dark furniture, so I saw the white cabinets as an opportunity to brighten up (add some color to?) his room.
Right away, I knew that even if I didn’t do anything else, I’d have to find new drawer pulls. Those look like filing cabinet pulls, don’t they? They look a little too industrial to use in my 6 month old son’s room. I texted Hubby’s cousin Elizabeth, who is an artist and master of restorations (her blog is here). She is my go-to for advice on projects and furniture design, if I’m looking to change/update something (and also to have a cocktail with). She told me if I didn’t want to paint the fronts, I’d better keep moving and find something else. Well, I liked the storage and space so much that I figured painting the fronts was doable. I’m also thinking about putting a thick coat of lacquer on the inside of the drawers so they don’t snag clothes, blankets, etc. So here I am, with a new project. Good thing I have Elizabeth to call and ask a million questions of.
Today, all I have managed to do is clean them with a wet cloth and remove the drawer pulls. They’re currently spread all over my living room, drawers out, the pulls and screws collected inside one of the drawers. Since it’s already close to my bedtime, I’ll be starting on the next thing tomorrow… you know, like picking colors and designs and such. Didn’t want to overwhelm myself by doing everything at once!
Any suggestions on an easy fixer-upper? Or a suggestion on paint or lacquer for me?
Let me make this clear before I get started: the plight of which I speak isn’t the babysitters themselves. Oh no, our family is blessed with wonderful, sweet babysitters who love and take good care of our kids, including several family members. No, the plight is a different beast altogether.
The plight is the leaving. The preparing for every possible scenario that might occur. The feeling that your phone must be on loud and in a visible spot at all times during whatever it is that you are doing away from the kids. The hoping you don’t get the phone call you’re waiting for. The sneaking out (I know- sneaking causes a whole set of issues- we don’t always do it) while they are distracted doing something else. The feeling that you’ve forgotten to mention something, or forgot to leave a certain item in plain view, or forgot to get cash to pay the sitter with. You know what I mean.
The plight of leaving your kids with someone else must get more comfortable at some point, right? I mean, beyond the missing them and hoping they sleep well, it must get easier the older they are. I remember as a kid, my parents leaving meant that I could probably play board games and watch movies and eat cookies and stay up late with a sweet older girl who would serve, for several years, as a role model and favorite person to see on the occasional weekend my parents went out. But right now, with my two year old and six month old, leaving means that I better have my daughter fed or she won’t eat. And Frozen in the DVD player. And a swaddle (she will NOT sleep without one) ready for emergencies or bedtime. And I better have my son in a happy mood, in his pajamas, with everything he needs for bed already in his crib. And several bottles made and ready to go, because if I only leave one, he will wake up every two hours till I get home and need one. Hubby can’t relate to this, because I have self-diagnosed OCD and he is as laid back as they come. See why we fit together so nicely?
Often, we are lucky enough for our babysitters to be grandparents. They know routines. They know what to do in case of a meltdown. They know where everything is in the house (or in some cases, baby stuff is all there in their own houses). They are familiar, safe faces and personalities. And praise the Lord, they are free. But lately, even they have a little resistance from the too-smart-for-her-own-good toddler. My mom doesn’t like to do bedtime with her right now because she gets up so many times before she is finally down for good, and when she gets up and all she finds is my mom, she is likely going to melt down. Why? No good reason. She loves my mom. She knows Hubby and I are coming home. She has everything she needs (full belly, clean diaper, swaddle, animal friends, etc). She just needs extra love right now, in this stage of her life.
Now, I will say two things, and they are in no way supposed to sound pushy. They are simply my opinion. First of all, the plight of leaving shouldn’t make you feel like you can’t have a date night, or go out with the girls, or even just see a movie by yourself if that’s your thing. We all need a little sanity, a little freedom, and a little time where the company can form complete sentences and drink a glass of wine. Secondly, if you’re in a committed relationship, it is really, REALLY important for you to have some time with your significant other alone… by yourselves. A revolutionary thought, i know. This is my opinion, but I’m also sure it’s true. Your relationship needs time that isn’t interrupted by kids’ meals, baths, naps and bedtimes. Make your person a priority. Don’t read that as “neglect your kids for that person”, but read it as a call to not neglect that person for your kids, if your person is important to you. Hubby and I love spending time together with the kids. We love spending time together at home after the kids are in bed, by ourselves or with friends. But we really appreciate a night out, just the two of us, slowing down, reconnecting, and getting to know each other better. It’s a time to see him as Hubby instead of Dad, for me to be a wife instead of just Mom, and to revisit hopes and dreams and careers and thoughts on life in general, instead of schedules, kids, bills and housework. Remember that time? Yeah. We were living the crazy life. We were doing what we wanted to, when we wanted to. We don’t really want to go back there, but a few hours of doing just that is exactly the therapy we needed.
This morning, Hubby and I took the babes to Toys R Us. We needed a new exersaucer (or something similar) for J to practice standing and stepping in. Why don’t we just use the one we had with EK? She’s only two; it can’t be that old. Glad you asked, friend. In fact, it wasn’t that old, and J did use it. Both my kids loved it. EK would stand next to it and show J how to make sounds on all the little attachments.
One day, EK decided that since J wasn’t standing in it right that minute, she’d like to give it a try, for old times sake. So she climbed in and acted like a baby for a while. I was at work, Hubby was working on his laptop and J was playing on the floor. Since she seemed happy in there, Hubby just let her hang out. (Disclaimer: I would have done the same thing.) After a few minutes of happy playing, Hubby noticed an odor. And some squishing. And EK rubbing her hands all over the top of the toy. And you can guess what was happening (I really gave it away in the title). Weak stomachs, stop here. It’s going to get graphic.
She had pooped, wiggled around a little too much and gotten it out of the diaper, and then stuck her hands down in it to see what was going on down there. And then chaos really ensued. Because she couldn’t get out, she was grinding the poop into the bottom of the toy, which just so happened to be a piano keyboard (aka lots of cracks for the poop to get into). The fabric seat was covered, and all the toy attachments on top were covered too. It’s a miracle that she couldn’t get out, so the mess was (semi) contained. Hubby ended up throwing away her clothes and the toy, and giving her and himself a bath. It’s really too bad- we loved that thing.
So there’s the story of why we needed to get a new exersaucer. Do you have any similar stories?
(By the way, we ended up with a Bright Start Cute Critters Activity Jumper, and we love it!)
So, Hubby’s parents have a lake house. They are the sweetest for sharing it with their three crazy sons and their families. As my toddler takes to water like a fish, she is especially grateful for a day at the lake here and there. Hubby’s mom has been giving her swimming lessons at the pool, and she is f.e.a.r.l.e.s.s. She is actually getting the hang of the kicking and keeping her face out of the water. But she always wears her Puddle Jumpers (I mean, hey, she’s two). These things are lifesavers (pun intended?) because they are a lifebelt and “water wings” combined. Also, they’re covered in a fabric similar to what all swim suits are made out of, instead of the blow-up, bare plastic, scratchy arm bands. There’s honestly no way she could get out of them, and that’s my favorite part. I don’t have to worry about her jumping off the tube or treading water without holding onto someone. She’s afloat in an actual life preserver (seriously- it’s a certified life preserver, can be used on the boat, etc). Our Puddle Jumpers are from Costco, but they’re available at Amazon, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us, Target and more.
Speaking of useful things to have when swimming… that little bathing cap? Totally a Target find. It’s the Circo Infant/Toddler Floral Swim Cap, and it’s on clearance, so hurry! There’s a slightly different one that’s pink and not on clearance, but still with the little flowers attached.
I don’t have a picture (unfortunately) but J has some trunks and swim shirt from Carter’s that we LOVE. He also borrowed a straw fedora from a friend, and looked like a stud muffin.
Bottom line: Hubby and I have been blessed with water babies, and we are glad, because we love the water, too (and the sun, and the boat, and the water skis/wake board)! However, I hope I haven’t passed on my pasty white, easily sunburned skin; we’re of course greasing them up with Blue Lizard, but hopefully they won’t get sunburned just from walking to the mailbox like I did as a kid!
We’ve had two day trips to the lake so far this summer, one a couple of weeks ago, and one just yesterday. It’s only an hour away from home, so a day trip is easier than an overnight trip for us right now. Both times, we had some trouble with naps. When we’re at home, EK takes one big afternoon nap most days- she’s trying to drop it and I say, “Heck no!” because we all need a little break, right? J still takes several naps throughout the day. Anyway, on both trips, EK fell asleep watching a movie in Hubby’s mom’s bed (not at ALL typical) because she wouldn’t go to sleep the way she normally does (sippy of warm milk, blanket, kisses and leave her alone to sleep). J was so excited with everyone and all the sunshine that he would only nap if someone was holding him (typically he lays in his crib just fine for at least 45 minutes, and sometimes 2 hours depending on the time of day). So naturally, by the time we had dinner, took the evening boat ride, and packed into the car, it was meltdown city for the first half of the drive, and passed out kiddos for the second half, throwing off any semblance of a bedtime schedule we had left. But hey- this is going to be our summer, so we will figure it out! We have such a fun time that honestly, it doesn’t bother us that much.
Here are a few more photos from the trips:
Photo credit for the photos in this post goes to my fabulous father-in-law!
Do you have any swim wear recommendations? Suggestions for balancing rest and play on a day trip? We need to hear them!
Here I am, sitting on my school laptop, on my very last day at school. It’s definitely bittersweet – with a little more bitter than I expected. Don’t get me wrong… it is SWEET! But I have a few tears in my eyes as I think about this part of my life drawing to a close. I have made some sweet friends here, ones I hope I don’t lose. I have gained a lot of experience, professional and personal, that I plan to be able to use again once my kiddos are all in school and I’m back in the teaching saddle. I love this school. I love the kids. I love the parents. I love the staff. But things are changing; there was bound to be an overhaul here, and I just happened to go out right at the time of the changes. Maybe the timing was for the best – God knows what I need, so I guess it really is.
But I will say this: It’s been long and hard. In some ways, it’s gotten easier (my feet are wet, I know what I’m doing, and I’m more comfortable in the classroom every single day). In a lot of ways, personal/family-wise (being a working mom, nursing while working, missing milestones, scheduling around my work and Hubby’s work) and job-wise (lack of job security in NC, frozen pay scale, more and more requirements with no return) it’s gotten harder every year. I’ve been out on two maternity leaves with barely any pay (if you’ve taught less than ten years, you don’t have much time accrued to spend on long-term leaves), I’ve breastfed babies after going back to work, one of whom (EK) didn’t nurse. I’ve missed first steps, giggles, get-togethers, and family time. Lord, how excited I am to be around for all of that. To nurse my baby several times a day instead of pumping all the time. To see J crawl, and then walk for his first times. To take EK to her first day of preschool instead of just hearing about it from Hubby. I’m going to be a full-time mom! Woo!
So, in honor of the day my life is totally changing, a toast. I likely will be toasting this with Hubby, with a drink in my hand, around 3:00pm today. Here’s to God’s timing being perfect, to working moms who are missing things, to stay at home moms who are sacrificing everything to be home with their little ones, to teachers in the trenches who do way more than they get paid for, and to my family, who supports me, loves me, and makes it possible for me to do what I love. Cheers.
Here’s a little background information on EK to make this story a little cuter.
As soon as she started sleeping through the night, she started sleeping late. I mean… really late. There were times she’d sleep till 10:30am. It didn’t even ruin her nap for her to do it! She’s always been a great sleeper. This (calendar) year, she has gotten a brother, moved to a big girl bed, and stopped sleeping so late. The “spring forward” really screwed us big time. What had been happening was she’d wake up around 7 or 7:30, roll around a little, play with her animals a little, and fall back asleep. I was always gone for work, and Hubby sleeps hard and sleeps late, so he wouldn’t hear her if she wasn’t making a LOT of noise.
When she moved to a big girl bed (it’ll take a whole post to explain how that went down), at first she didn’t even realize she could get out by herself. She did pretty much the same thing she had done in her crib. But soon, I knew she’d figure it out. She typically gets up, comes and gets in the bed with Hubby and me, rolls around, brings in 17 books and reads them, plays on our phones, and MAYBE goes back to sleep for a few minutes. If it’s before 6:45 or so, I put her back in her bed and tell her to try to get back to sleep. Often, she is content to lay quietly with us and snuggle till we get up. Sometimes, she’s running around the house, screaming like a banshee, “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeat! Foooooooooood! Juuuuuuuuuuuuice!” I don’t know where she gets her food-related impatience from. *bats eyes*
This morning, J got up a little earlier than usual, about 7. He typically sleeps till 8. His sleeping hasn’t been as good this past week, because he’s rolling to his belly, and then can’t get back over to his back. So I went in, changed his diaper, and hunkered down in the (La-Z-Boy) nursing chair with my coffee and a book to nurse him back to sleep. Usually if he’s up early, the first time he eats he’ll snooze a little longer. After a few peaceful minutes, I hear EK’s door open. Pitter patter… Pitter patter. J’s door opens; a tiny face peeks in. Cue her face-wide grin that I can’t get enough of.
She tiptoes over to us, points, and says, “Baby!” because it’s the only thing she will call J. She scratches her chest (I think she gets it from Hubby), looks down, realizes her pajamas were actually just a t-shirt last night, and looks up at me in surprise. This is where it gets really cute: she throws up her index finger, in the “I have an idea!” way, says “Pants!” and runs out of the room. She comes back in with a pair of pants she’s been dying to wear that are still too big (long-waisted, skinny gal that my daughter is).
Trying to distract her from the pants so I can hide them again, I tell EK to bring me a diaper and wipes so I can freshen her up. J is too distracted now to nurse anyway – he’s a typical lazy guy. She brings me these items, and also the pants (how does she keep getting them?!) so I go ahead and change her diaper and put on the giant pants. Then I have an idea: What if I can find a makeshift belt? She’d be so happy! The first thing I think of is ribbon – no way, packed up in the basement, and it only comes out at Christmas. Then I spot a Mardi Gras-style beaded necklace on the floor. I grab it, and wind it through the loops on the too-big, turquoise jeans with anchors, because my daughter is super trendy. Immediately, I see on her face (“Belt! Belt!”) that I’ve made her morning. She hasn’t even asked me for juice yet, so I know I’ve been blowing her mind with this belt thing. Honestly, it didn’t even work (there’s still a huge gap), but she’s got shiny beads attached to her favorite pants she’s never been able to wear. So what does she do? Go running and yelling into our bedroom to show a snoozing Hubby her new belt.
This, folks, is the reason I wanted to stay home with my kids, at least for a little while, at least while they’re tiny. When I have to be at school at 7:30 and I have late sleepers, I miss these cute morning antics. Mornings are the most easygoing hours for most kids, and I’ve been so sad to miss what happens. Hubby is great about sending me sweet photos of morning snuggles, playtime, or silly breakfast happenings. But I am so blessed that we have decided I can stay home and experience them for myself. A teacher friend of mind gave me the best advice I’ve heard yet: “You’ll never regret staying home with those babies. Even if you have to eat pork and beans for dinner every night, you’ll never regret a minute.” So yes. I’m doing it. And I’m a happy mama.