Subtle Shifts

It didn’t happen all at once.

It never does.

But this weekend we finally were blessed with a slow, no agenda Saturday so I decided to do one of my good Saturday House Cleanings that I haven’t been able to do in months.  You know, scrub everything really well all at once.  The kind of clean that when you go outside to get the mail and come back in it smells like a mixture of lemon Pledge and Windex? Yeah, it was awesome.

But once I had the house all cleaned, and Charlie was napping and Cort and Eddie were outside, I saw what had happened while I bustle through our days.

The subtle shifts that have been happening in our house.

Once all the toys had been properly put away to make room for vacuuming and dusting, I saw the empty space where the baby swing once stood.

I saw the spot next to the couch where we used to keep the bounce seat.

I noticed that I could see our side table’s shelf with a picture of Cort and me because it wasn’t covered by the boppy or the bumbo seat.

The chunky trucks Eddie used to play with were long stashed in a drawer and out the table was a magnetic “discovery” truck set that involved fitting pieces together.

In the past nine weeks that I have been back to work, my infant very slowly morphed into a clapping, laughing, rolling, army-crawling baby.

When I wasn’t looking, my toddler ditched his diapers and his squeeze tubes of yogurt and grew right up into a Big Boy.

My baby feeds himself puffs and melon and banana.

My big boy assembles trucks and builds towers and asks questions and washes his own hands and face after dinner.

My baby has 3 and a half teeth.

My big boy stands up by the toilet to pee.

The infant carrier has been permanently stuck in my truck and a convertible seat has been installed in Cort’s truck.  Eddie has upgraded his car seat to one that can convert to a booster and is good up to 100 pounds.

I just filled a tub with out-grown 6 months clothes to be stored away, possibly forever.

I filled another tub with 3T shirts and pants that don’t fit anyone in this house.

Eddie asks me big questions that I don’t know how to answer.

Charlie needs me less and less for things like falling asleep and holding his bottle.

It’s so cliche to say they “grow up so fast,” but they do. And it happens right in front of you without you knowing…until it’s too late.

Charlie’s chubby little hands with the dimples remind me that Eddie’s are thinning out and feel rough from play.  Charlie’s complete trust in us to always be there for him reminds me that Eddie is developing doubts and fears.

This juxtaposition of having an almost 8 month old and an almost 3.5 year old reminds me that they are little for such a very, very brief time.

Each age and phase is so short, so fleeting.

Charlie’s days of being a squishy little pile that just eats and sleeps are completely gone.  I know the days were fading when I went to work 9 weeks ago, but any hint of them is completely gone now.

I really do love this new shift that is happening, it’s just shocking to me how it seems to come out of nowhere, yet at the same time it’s been happening every day right in front of me.

One day this…

And then all the days that feel so much the same, but are subtly very much different happen.  And I have this…

They amaze me every single day, these creatures I am blessed to call my sons.

Even if they are growing up way to quickly.

how i met your father

From the first time I ever plopped down next to him on a school bus headed for the Michigan Adventure physics trip, I knew he was going to be my friend for life.

I wasn’t even in physics anymore, but had convinced the teacher to let me come along. Not because I was so interested in physics, but because it was the end of my senior year and I would rather be waving my hands above my head on the corkscrew than explicating a Keats poem.

After climbing the familiar black treaded steps, I took my first look at who was going on this trip with me.

Almost all juniors and 100% male.

I picked a familiar face and walked purposefully toward him, “Hey Curly.  Can I be your seatmate for this adventure?”

“Of course,” he smiled easily sliding over toward the window.

I sat down casually on the green vinyl seat waving off all the protests and seat invitations from the other guys.   As soon as the bus roared to life, and Huong turned around and sat down, I decided to get to know my new friend better.

“So,” I asked looking past him to the outside brick wall of our school, “do you have a girlfriend?”

The bus hadn’t even left the school parking lot and I asked the doozy question right off the bat. I had to know if this day was going to be flirty or just friendly. I am not sure what I was hoping for.

“Sort of,” he answered.

“How do you ‘sort of’ have a girlfriend?”

“She lives in Caledonia.”

“How did you meet a girl from way over there?”

“Boating.”

Our conversation…and our future… took off as the bus lurched forward.

This week’s prompt was to write about a school trip.
This was the most important school trip of my life.
We didn’t actually date for another 10 years, but that is another post for another time.

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teaching isn’t just my job, it’s my job.

Thanks to the makers of Pine-Sol® for sponsoring my writing. A study shows a clean smelling home can help children succeed, so Pine-Sol® is supporting Reading is Fundamental (RIF) this year. Click “Like” on Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page here and they will donate books to RIF!
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I don’t remember books not being in my life.

Growing up, the bottom drawer of my dresser was so full of children’s books that the bottom eventually fell out from the weight.

My  mom always had a pile of books on top of the refrigerator from the library, and a few more on the front seat of her car waiting to be swapped out for new ones.

My dad was always reading the newspaper.

We had a set of encyclopedia and a set of childcraft encyclopedia.

Words were my life from early on.  In grade school I lived for scholastic book orders.  In middle school my mom brought me piles of books home from the library.  By high school?  I had decided that I wanted to read–and talk about those books–for the rest of my life.

And so I became an English teacher.

I have worked for over a decade encouraging kids to read…to entice them into becoming life-long readers.

The school I work in is filled with students who didn’t have their own books as kids.  They come to us behind…because they don’t know what it’s like to have books in their life for fun.

Not a couple years ago, after about 90% of one of my classes failed to do a short assigned reading assignment, I polled the class with this question: “How many of you had your own books as kids and were read to all the time.”

One girl raised her hand (she did the assignment, by the way).  I died a little inside.

That same year our school started doing RIF (reading is fundamental), a program that gives students free books.

I was suddenly aware of the gift my parents had given me.

Also that year I found out I was pregnant with my son.

Immediately, I gathered my favorite childhood books and piled them in the room that would be his.

I would sit in the middle of the room and read the books out loud to my dancing fetus.

A year later, I was reading Green Eggs and Ham to a squirmy infant.

Not long after that, we traded the “paper pages” for board books because he wanted to handle them and gnaw on the book clumsily turn the pages himself.

Now, as a 20-month old, he brings me book after book to read.  He points out the letters to me and says some of them.  He points out the kitties and the dogs and the moons and the balloons.

I burst with pride when his little finger points at the pictures as I read the words…as he examines each page before we turn it.

I know this is what my parents did.  And I know it is a large part of why I became a successful student…and teacher….and writer.

It is never ever too early to start reading with your children.  Each time you choose to put down your phone, or step away from your laptop (in my case) to read with your child, you are sending a message about what is important.

Each time your child sees you pick up a book or newspaper instead of watch a reality show?  You are showing your child where your priorities are and what you see as valuable.

Your child…and education are important.  Show this to your child.  Read with him/her.

Don’t forget to click over to Pine-Sol®’s Facebook page to support our children’s success. I was selected for this Pine-Sol® sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

Today my post for The Red Dress Club is over at my other blog. Please click below to go there.


It’s What is Not Said

“Though he probably says about 50 to 70 words now, your child may understand as many as 200 words, many of which are nouns. Between 18 and 20 months, he’ll learn words at the rate of 10 or more a day.” (Babycenter.com)

He dances and runs and jumps.

He holds a pencil correctly and inquires about letters on everything.

He will bring us book after book after book–especially My Truck is Stuck and Where is the Green Sheep?

He has recently discovered lying on his tummy in the bathtub in order to “swim”.

He runs at me with his full speed to hug me.

He blows sweet kisses and waves to me at bedtime.

He wants me when he has an owie or is super sleepy or has a nightmare.

His first word was “octagon” while playing with a talking puzzle.

Now he says “up” and “moo” and “aw bye” and “bawl”.

Other words are just one syllable or sound of the whole: “bon” for (banana), “juuuu” (juice), and “onnn” (one)

And every single night, he asks, “da ee”?  (daddy)

He is an amazing, loving, sweet, vivacious….20 month old.

My 20 month old.

The boy who turned me into a mother, but has never uttered a word to prove that.

Yes, his actions show his love for me.  I do not doubt his love.

This isn’t about his love.

I know he will say it.  I know.  I know he will say it to the point that I am sick of it.  I have been told that over and over.

But I still long for it. I fixate on it.  I beg him to say it.

Not just because I want to hear, “mommy,” but because he is 20 months old.

I have already heard what you so many people have to say:

“He is a boy; he is naturally slower.”

“My nephew/my friend’s son/all my kids/husband/I/aunt’s cousin’s nephew’s daughter didn’t talk until they were well over two.”

“As longs as he is interactive…”

“just keep talking to him; he’ll come around…”

“DON’T WORRY.”

I know that it’s technically not that out of the ordinary, and it’s not something to be truly concerned about.  I know this.

But as he babbles and “talks” and says words, I can’t help but think about how he doesn’t have close to 50 words, like babycenter.com says he should have…and I am mostly ok with that because his babble says he is on his way.

What I hate?  Is that he says “octagon” and not “momma”.

I have struggled for everything with this little boy.

It was a challenge (and many MANY blood draws and pills taken) to keep him in my tummy.

It was a painful battle to like him when he was my tiny miracle through all the crying–both his and mine.

I had to claw my way out of a deep, ugly hole to enjoy the little things like the way he turns into me when he is sleepy.

We are so similar in temperaments that when there is frustration between us?  It is a challenge to not kill each other.

And yet?

There is no word in his vocabulary for me.

Does he have one in his head?

Does a small voice in his brain shout it into the echoes of his heart when he sees me or scream it desperately in his soul when he is afraid?

What does that word sound like on his lips?  In my ear?

I am a mother.  HIS mother.

But no one in this world calls me that.

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3010

It was always hot.

I was the only one who thought so.  Everyone who walked in was delighted by the coolness compared to the triple digit temperatures outside.

But I was always sweating.

They even gave me a fan, but that just made me shiver from the sweat that dried on my exhausted body.

The room was more spacious than anyone expected.  We quite easily fit five members of my side of the family along with three of Cort’s in addition to the three of us.

And it still felt big.

But maybe that is because I suddenly felt small.

Even with the throngs of people coming in and out?  I felt that we were shielded somehow.

This was a room for miracles.

(Even if my miracle happened downstairs in a different room.)

I had everything I needed contained in this one room:

A Styrofoam cup full of ice water.

Sleeping pills.

My meals delivered.

My laptop and my phone.

A private bathroom with a much used grab bar.

A doting husband.

A happy baby (yes, I said happy).

In this room…

I slept better and harder than I ever have in my life.

I sniffed my baby’s head for the first time.

I sweated, and pushed, and cried, and shed all inhibitions in exchange for feeling better and having a healthy child.

I trusted completely.

I healed.

This room took care of our needs and made it ok for us to be partitioned and sheltered from the rest of the world.

Life was out there…moving and growing…but in here?  In this room?  Time stood still.

We were a small family:  a mom in her adjustable bed, a dad resting on a small couch, and a son swaddled and asleep on his father’s chest.  In the dark room we watched the Detroit Tigers sweep the Cubs.

We witnessed the departure of the King of Pop.

We absorbed the fall of an Angel.

We marked the exit of a treasured Announcer…all while being disconnected from the world…as a family.

We felt safe and untouchable here.

That is why, as I stood at the window in the first real clothes that I could squeeze into in days with my baby in his first real clothes of his life, I cried.

As my husband took our bags to the truck and prepared to usher his family…not just his wife…to their home, I wept.

This room was were our family had begun.

This was all my son knew of the world.  He was safe. I was safe.

Nothing touched us here.

And so much would once we left room 3010.

psst.  I am over at my friend, Natalie’s blog, Mommy of a Monster and Twins, today too sharing about a Monster Mommy Moment of mine.  Please tell me you can relate to this…it will make me feel so much better!

pssst again…I am trying to win a grant to fund my trip to BlogHer.  If you are on facebook, please click here to vote every day!

just right

Sometimes…

it’s the little things…

like gifts from friends…

O Canada...how i love your treats...

freshly painted toenails and sipping wine with your husband…

do these feet say "let me entertain you?" like the color's name says?

trips to the bookstore…

i may have a wide variety of interests right now

tiny reminders…

yeah, I know. I just have to open my laptop!

lunch with no flying food or tantrums…

mmmm...best. bread. ever.

my favorite flowers…

and yes, I kissed him on his two-lips when he gave these to me.

little hands wanting to make letters…

E...D...D...I...E...

a reminder that someone is getting a cousin (or two) very soon!

hooray for cousins...

wait...does this mean I have to share Granny?

And my two very best guys…

handsome and cutie

…to make me feel like everything in this world is just the way it’s supposed to be.

that everything is just right.

——-

interested in the journey and adventure of Eddie’s cousin(s) coming home?  Check out Cort’s sister’s blog for more details.

uncomplicated love

The big brown chair.

When it was purchased there was no emotional expectation.  No one foresaw any moments to be had in the chair except lazy ones that matched the couch.

But the lack of expectations was a mistake.

That brown chair has become ours.  Mine and Eddie’s.

We melt into each other in that chair just minutes before bedtime.

He has his little yellow and green pipy and his well-worn lamby.

I am squished to one side in my fleece bathrobe while he is in a little ball on a pillow next to me.

My head rests ever so close to his soft, blond curls.

He is busy watching Wheel of Fortune and rubbing one of lamby’s ears across his nose.

He suddenly stops and turns to look at me.

Our faces are so close his little button nose is almost touching mine.

I can smell the lilac night time lotion on his skin.

A smile spreads suddenly under his pipey, and he quickly grabs the pacifier out of his mouth and leans in, mouth open.

His small, warm mouth covers mine quickly.

He giggles and whispers, “pssfff psssfff psssfff.”

His hand touches my check and he giggles again.

And just like that he pops the pipey back in his mouth and snuggles down under my chin.

But for me it is not over.  I sit their smiling and glowing from within.

My baby boy loves me.

Most people would stop here and say, “of course he does.”

But it hasn’t always been so evident to me.  That is the curse of PPD.

Those few minutes in the chair are ones that I will pack away in my heart and keep for always.

I wish Eddie could somehow also keep those moments in his heart.

Someday when he is a grumpy, angsty teen.

Someday when everything I do is wrong.

Someday when I am not there.

I wish he could see us like this.

Because it pains me to think he would forget these fleeting moments.

That he would forget the love between the two of us.

Completely unconditional with no complications.

she taught him to dance

He swooped in with one arm around my waist and grabbed my other hand in his.

As we glided around the kitchen floor, I asked him,

“Who taught you to dance?”

“My mom, of course,” he replied and nuzzled his face into my neck.

His mom.  Of course.

She taught him to dance.

to open doors for ladies.

to do laundry.

to do dishes.

to help anyone who has his/her hands full.  figuratively and literally.

to iron.

to pick up the tab.

to listen to girls.

to hug often.

to help around the house.

to say, “I love you” freely.

to be the nice guy…even if it means finishing last.

He was her blond, curly haired little buddy.

His dimply smile was his first “I love you.”

He was her first.

He made her a Momma.

She taught him to dance.

And so he glides through life as the kindest, most generous man I have ever met.

He waltzes through my days as my best friend.

His smile makes me better.

As I swoop Eddie up and bounce around the house with him in my arms to dance to whatever tune is in my head, his blond curls bob.

His dimples become deep caverns echoing his sweet laughter.

He throws his head back and squeals.

And he buries his face in my neck.

And I wonder…

Will he be kind?

Will he be generous?

Will he be respectful?

Will he tell his wife that his mom taught him to dance?

 MommyofaMonster This post was featured!

I was syndicated on BlogHer.com

snow much fun

I have not been feeling well today.  Not at all.

So I am not feeling very scribe-ish or posty this evening.

Instead, I will just give you some pictures of my boys.

We live in Michigan..West Michigan.  So we get lots of lake effect snow, however compared with the rest of the country, this has been a fairly mild winter for us.

This weekend we finally got “play-able” snow.  After nap on Sunday, I got Eddie all geared up, Cort got himself geared up, and my matching men went out to play.

do these pants make my boo-tay look big?

the snow is THIS way!

come ON, dad!

Let's go explore, my little mini-me!

I need a shovel for the clubhouse!

exploring the winter wonderland.

We tried to get him outside with out the pipey in his mouth, but it is his saftey lovey when he is nervous…and the snow made him nervous (which I can TOTALLY relate to, little bud!)

They probably were only outside for 20 minutes, but it wore the little guy out…slept like a log that night.

Now I can’t wait for Cort to take him on the sled so I can sit inside alone and sip hot cocoa!  Yay!  Such fun Michigan winters bring!

psssst!  Today?  Wednesday?  Is your LAST CHANCE to enter to win a copy of Show Me How! It’s a great book with zillions of activities to keep the little ones busy when you DON’T want to gear up and play outside!  Enter now! Giveaway ends Wednesday, 8pm Eastern time.

until the next break

This evening I started typing up a McFatty post.  It was full of goals and plans.

I got about halfway through and Eddie demanded a bit of attention, which I freely gave because I will be seeing much less of him starting tomorrow.

Within about a half a second I realized he was tired, so off to the nursery we went.

As I sat down to rock him, he nestled his little head up against me chest and pulled lamby up to his nose.

Since he has gotten so much bigger, he prefers to sit on my lap backward and wrap his legs around me so he can still rest his head against my chest.  Lately, he has also taken to wrapping his non-lamby arm around me too.

We rocked in silence for about three or four minutes.

The only sound was the humidifier and the random creaks of the old rocking chair.

I nuzzled my nose into his fluff-pile of blond curls and whispered my realization,

“I am really going to miss you tomorrow, bubs.”

He made a very soft little chirping sound and looked up at me.

I could just see his big, dark eyes staring up at me in the dark.

I kissed his forehead.  He made the kissing sound behind his pipey and smiled up at me.

We did that back and forth a few times until he let out a big sigh and snuggled back into me.

I rocked silently for a little bit before I just stopped and sat.

I knew he could get laid down in his bed with no problem, but I continued to sit.

I could feel his little heart beat against me.  His breathing was getting heavier.  His arm or leg would twitch every now and then.

I stroked those soft curls finding a little tangle or remnant of dinner here or there.

He smelled of baby lotion and a wee bit of garlic from dinner.

He smelled soft.

These past two weeks have been eye-opening for me.  Eddie has started to form words. He signs things without being prompted to do so.  He looks to me to tell him things. He wants to learn from me.

He also needs me.

Run-by huggings and kissings have occurred.

My legs get embraced while I bake or sort mail.

And tonight…in the rocker…his arms hugged me.  his eyes smiled at me.  his sleepy little self snuggled me.

We sat that way until he pointed sleepily to his crib.

As I laid him down and tucked him in.  His little hand went up and waved.

I melted.  And made myself push down the anxiety of being away.

I will miss this boy during the day tomorrow, and Tuesday, and each day after that while I concentrate on other people’s kids.

Until a break brings our focus back to each other again, please let me find peace.

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