Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Encouragement

Life lately has been a happy blur of busy-ness. As in, not stressful "I'm SO busy" busy-ness; but happy, crawl into bed satisfied too late at the end of each day, busy-ness. 

Will has been helping me do the dishes a lot. Its his new favorite. Not so much mine, seeing as how he always manages to get water and soap EVERYWHERE... but I do love encouraging a spirit of helping in him. ;) And it is much more productive than tv!

Come to think of it, that spirit of helping is the common thread through all of Will's interests nowadays. Here he is helping me do my mat workout...


And helping me finish the grocery shopping...


We went to Charleston for a weekend at the very sweet invitation of Sarah. It was overcast and rainy the entire visit, of course, because winter hates me, but we had a perfectly lovely time anyway. I really needed to become friends with Sarah right when I did. She is the kind of girl and mother who is refreshing and inspiring all at the same time. If all this blog gives me in the end is getting to meet and know Sarah Pankus, I will walk away satisfied. 


We hung out with our 3 collective little boys in her spanish-moss shaded apartment during the rain. We took turns running around the block in the marshy neighborhood and watching the babies. We drove out to the beach for lunch and a few hours of the afternoon, and let my antsy Will run his energy out. 

She made us an amazingly juicy steak dinner on Saturday night, which we, (Sarah's sister-in-law who is also my friend Jess) and I, devoured gratefully. Wine and laughter late at night, hot coffee in the morning and the entertaining antics of our children filled the weekend.


I think we need the challenge of making new friendships more than we realize. New friends are able to ignite a spark in us that an old comfortable friendship might not have. New friends open up new ways of looking at life, new truths about ourselves and others. New adventures. You get that experience in college, and its incredibly growth-inducing; but its so much harder to make new friends as a mama. Mothers are intimidating; women tend to be critical enough, but throw in a passion about motherhood and doing everything right for your babies and you have a whole hugely intimidating dynamic. 

But as hard as it is, I have come to the conclusion that it is even more important. It is easy to get into ruts as a mother... ruts of discontent, or insecurity, or anxiety, or PRIDE, or vanity, or unhealthiness,  or know-it-all-ness... these ruts can keep us from really enjoying our experience of motherhood and, more crucially, our children. 


Being around a new friend whom I find so inspiring and lovely was exactly what I needed to help push that "Reset" button, and renew my own zeal in pursuing the kind of intentional life I so deeply desire.  And the "around" part was kind of the clincher. I had more time to think about it at a Mother's Night In reflection night for my MOTs group at Church. We had pizza and wine and chatted about everything, ending the night in a heart-stirring reflection in the quiet, dark Church. 

The reflection was about Martha and Mary, and how the real problem with Martha was not that she was too busy - she was after all working passionately for the Lord, which is good! - but that she was anxious. That she was comparing herself with others - and not to encourage them or to grow herself, but in a spirit of criticism.

Blogging these last few years has been like a training wheel to help me continue to make new friends as a new mama. It helped me get out of my comfort zone a little, and meet some amazingly cool people. It helped me to have a creative outlet, to start writing again. To put myself out there. Now I feel like its gotten a bit stale, like I need to take the next step and start looking for ways to encourage others as I throw myself happily and more invisibly into the work that is given me. 

 That girls weekend in Charleston with Sarah, I realized I am craving that encouragement IN PERSON. Its in person that you can really see the full dimension of someone's life; its only in person (at least for me because I am a total extrovert) in a real conversation, that you can catch that contagious spark of excitement... that thing that C.S. Lewis so impeccably expressed: 


I have been able to get by and be so inspired by blogging, emailing, commenting and the like, to forge these essential new and growing friendships. But now - having the privilege of group texts with some of these people, long phone calls with others, and a whole weekend at the home of one... I am realizing I need to apply all that energy I had been using for the blog, and throw it into these blossoming relationships IN REAL LIFE.

I would do both if I could... but as anyone knows who has had the misfortune of being stuck on the phone with me a mother who is constantly interrupted to discipline her toddler - time is of the essence and the energy to focus even more so! It was doable with one, but I am finding that with the two boys I just don't have the time to write for my job, take care of my family, take care of myself, nurture my friendships, and write here. 

(Will peeing at the beach like a little redneck. I had no other choice). 
I will not delete the blog... But I'm only going to post very occasionally, and mostly about my babies.  I'm just feeling like I've plateaued with the blog - and I desperately need the challenge of this new season of growth, so I'm jumping into it with everything I have. I need to seek ways to encourage others and be encouraged in return, I am craving some invisibility, and a more hidden life. I need to reach out more in humble little ways.
"Gently encourage...
and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.
Be patient with each person, 
attentive to individual needs. 
And be careful that when you get on each other's nerves
you don't snap at each other.
Look for the best in each other, 
and always do your best to bring it out."
1 Thess 5:13 MSG
That right there is what Martha didn't do. She could have done it along with her work for the kingdom of God, but she was too caught up in criticism and anxiety to feel energy for encouragement. And it seems like she allowed herself to get burnt out. We women especially have such a desperate need to keep the tank full! If we allow ourselves to run on empty, we risk hurting ourselves and those around us. 

In order to prevent burn out, I have to check up on what is still filling up the tank and what is just a waste of time. For now, blogging isn't recharging me like other things. I will probably miss it if I take a sabbatical, and that will be a good thing. But right now, I need to find a new way to recharge. To seek encouragement and to give it in return.
For the next few months you will find me running my little heart out (no more walk breaks y'all!!! Woop woop!), cleaning up our weedy backyard, toting Will to swim lessons, painting a few rooms, talking on the phone more, visiting those I love, going on date nights, inviting people over for dinner, taking little trips and adventures with my family, soaking in the sunshine with a good book or two, and making new friends. Maybe I will blog about it... but probably not. 
Here's to a beautiful summer ahead! Look for the best in each other!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Couch to 10K Training Plan - INJURY PROOF!

Per request - here's my running training plan. I found it on some random message board; allegedly it was the plan used by the Army to train enlistees quickly, but without getting them injured (?). No idea if that is accurate haha, but it did work wonders getting me in running shape injury free. 

I used it originally to train to run in Vibram Five-fingers without hurting my feet (you have to think of that process as weight training for your feet and be VERY cautious so as not to tear a tendon or ligament). Therefore, I was extremely diligent about never adding more than 10% to each week. I have highlighted the changes I made to the plan, just for the extra careful ones like myself! This is also a great training plan for increasing your speed, because you really can push yourself to run much, MUCH faster when you know you're about to walk!

Let me know if you use it! Happy Running!



Week 1:
Go to a local track because the distances are exact. Once on the track walk 1/2 lap, then jog 1/2 lap, walk a half, jog a half for 1 mile. You will alternate jogging & running 8 times (4 each) and complete 4 full laps, that's exactly 1 mile. Now no matter how good you feel, go home. Do this 4 to 6 days a week. Never less than 4 days or more than 6 days weekly.

When you complete 4 full laps, that's exactly 1 mile. Now no matter how good you feel, go home. Do this 4 to 6 days a week.

Never less than 4 days or more than 6 days weekly.

NOTE: I do this week via my Nike Run app because it tells me when I've gone 0.25. So I walk the first 0.12, and then run until the voice over tells me I've reached 0.25 - and so on for a whole mile. That way I don't have to be looking down while I'm running.

Week 2:
(4 to 6 days per week) Start with a 5 minute warm up walk, then alternate walking & jogging and walk only half the distance of each jog, as follows:
Jog 0 .25 mile (one lap) then
Walk 0 .12mile (1/2 half lap)
Jog .50 mile (2 laps)
Walk .25 mile (1 lap)
Jog .25mile (1 lap)
Walk .12mile (half-lap)
Jog .50 mile...go home
                                                                  Total Weekly Mileage: 8-12 (depending on whether you run 4 or 6 days)

(Again - I do this w my phone on the Nike + Running app!).

Week 3:
5 Days this week:

Day 1: Brisk 5 minute warm up walk, then:
.50 mile jog, .25 mile walk, .50 mile jog, .25 mile walk, .50 mile jog. total 2 miles. go home
Day 2: 5 minute warm up, then: .75 mile jog (3 laps) .50 mile walk (2 laps) .75 mile jog. total 2 miles. go home.
Day 3: 5 minute warm up then: 2 mile jog (8 laps) NO WALKING!!! Catch your breath and go home. good job.
Day 4: Repeat day 3
Day 5: Repeat Day 2.

                                                                                                                      Total: 10

Week 4:
5 workouts this week.
Day 1: warm up, then: .50 mile jog, .25 mile walk, .75 mile jog, .25 mile walk, .50 mile jog: total 2.25 miles. go home.
Day 2: warm up, then: 1 mile jog (4 laps) .25 mile walk, 1 mile jog. total 2.25 miles. go home.
Day 3: warm up, then: 2.25mile jog (9 laps) NO WALKING! Day 4: Repeat Day 2
Day 5: Repeat Day3
                                                                                                                 Total: 11.25

**** Here we go! All running from now on! ***** 


Please stay on the schedule and go no further than the schedule suggests!

Week 5:
Warm Up! Then jog 2.5* miles 4 to 6 days.
                                                      Total: 12.5

Week 6:
Warm Up! Then jog 2* miles 4 to 6 days. (*Yes, cut back, let your body consolidate it's gains).    
Total: 10-12 mi

Week 7:
Warm up! Then a 3 mile jog. You are ready for a 5K for fun. Not one this weekend? Here's your weekly 'Stay in Shape' schedule.
Day 1: 3 miles
Day 2: 2.5 miles 
Day 3: 3 miles
Day 4: 2.75 miles
Day 5: 3 miles
                                       Total: 14.25

Extra Week:
3 mi every day, 5 days    
  Total: 15 

Extra Week:
3 mi every day, 4 days, plus one 4 mile run (total of running 5 days)
Total: 16

Week 8:
Day 1: 3 miles
Day 2: 3 miles
Day 3: 4 miles
Day 4: 3 miles
Day 5: 4 miles
                                              Total: 17

Extra week 
Day 1: 3 miles
Day 2: 3 miles
Day 3: 5 miles
Day 4: 3 miles
Day 5: 4.5 miles
                                           Total: 18.5

Extra week:
Day 1: 3 miles
Day 2: 4 miles
Day 3: 5 mi
Day 4: 3 mi
Day 5: 5 mi
                                            Total: 20

Week 9:
Day 1: 4 miles
Day 2: 3 miles
Day 3: 5 miles
Day 4: 4 miles
Day 5: 5 miles     

                
                                        Total: 21
Extra week:
Day 1: 4 miles
Day 2: 4 miles
Day 3: 5 miles
Day 4: 6 miles
Day 5: 4 miles

Total: 23

Week 10:
Day 1: 5 miles
Day 2: 4 miles
Day 3: 5 miles
Day 4: 6 miles
Day 5: 5 mile
                                              Total: 25 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Blues

Spring is hard on me. 
I love summer so much. I love the way I feel in my own skin...
 ...being outside all day
...the heat! (even in my third trimester last summer I didn't complain once about the heat. I'm so used it after living my whole life in the southeast I don't even notice it, honestly)
... being satisfied by eating salads and fresh fruit because
... all the best healthy foods being in season and tasting unbelievably good
... the long evenings, and having energy to actually enjoy them
... the green everywhere
... running around in a cheap little sundress and Jacks and no makeup and feeling more beautiful than any other time
... driving with the windows down
... I could go on and on.

Spring, on the other hand, is tantalizing for me. Especially this year. Yesterday, the weather app promised me the day would get up to 62 with sunshine. It was dank and cold and by 5 o'clock they changed this forecast to "Observed High: 49". 
WTF.
I have been plowing through it, and I think I will make it. ;)
But I couldn't blog in this state. I couldn't do anything but bake (hello, muffin top)... die on Tumblr over gorgeous summer images (which I am, clearly, sharing with y'all now)... and deal with Henry teething. 
This gets me through:

And this...


And...


And my 10K training plan. I have forced myself to run even in the yuckiness only because my injury-proof training plan (used it two years ago to superb results) starts out with the most frustrating intervals; my first nonstop run will be in 2 days (but who's counting!) after three ish weeks of starting this training plan... I am already building the perfect playlist and daydreaming about how glorious that first *real* run will be. 


*that is NOT me running. Shocker. I think that mayyyy be Kourtney Kardash. But whatevs. It captures the essence of running for me. When I am running shape. ;) *

Speaking of playlists, I bought Bey's new album a few weeks ago I COULDN'T CONTROL MYSELF... Talk about feeding the summer crave! OMG. Every song has me dying for hot sidewalks and long lazy afternoons. 


Its a seriously artistic and addictive album. As Shosh would say, "Like, a-MAZE."

Another new album I am totally addicted to (currently listening to on Spotify... waiting for the new month to justify buying it. But that WILL happen)...

 Supermodel

The best is definitely "Coming of Age". Wow. It is so so so good. 

What has been keeping your chin up?
Oh! Also! happy first day of Spring!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

3


My little boy turned 3 a few weeks ago. I have kept meaning to write a post about him - about the changes I have noticed cropping up so suddenly and startlingly - about his little adventures, his frustrations, and his sweet nature. 
I felt too emotional every time I went to write this post so have had to keep leaving it. I know. I am officially ridiculous.
Three years ago, February 25th, Baby Will made me the happiest mama in the world. 

Despite his intense and highly-dramatic nature, he was as thrilling as he was challenging.


I feel like I actually get to appreciate him for his own individual, adorable self more since having another baby - because Henry emphasizes character traits in Will that I may have thought were just common to every baby. 

While Henry appreciates lying down all spread out, Will was quite different. My delivery nurse had to finally tell me to cosleep - AT the hospital! - because both of us were at a loss to get him to settle down and everyone was exhausted.

This kid is tenacious.


Will has always been assertive, dramatic, and bossy. He knows what he wants in life, that's for sure. And he is hard to dissuade. ;)

I have been remembering one special moment with him over and over again... I was never comfortable with co-sleeping. I know people who do it well, but at the end of the day, my mom never did it (this despite homeschooling and ecologically breastfeeding for 2+ years; she cites the story about Solomon and the mother who crushed her baby as freaking her out lol. My mama is very much a "charismatic") - so it was quite foreign to me. Even after that night at the hospital, I was determined to get him to sleep in his crib. The first night I attempted this, it was brutal. Will wailed and sobbed inconsolably - my little week old baby! - and when I looked at the clock, I despaired to realize he lasted from 7 til 11:30, with no sign of tiring any time soon. My nerves frayed - the crying of that first baby is so much harder to listen to, is it not? - and my body literally begging for sleep, I finally gave in and laid down in the bed in his nursery, setting it up according to the guidelines I had read on safe cosleeping. Jason handed him to me, and we laid him down at my side. That screaming baby quieted at once, made a satisfied little grunt, snuggled up to me (I know it sounds crazy to talk about an infant snuggling, but he did) and immediately fell asleep. I couldn't even get him to latch on to nurse. He just wanted me. 

I will never forget that moment. 

I ended up successfully sleep-training him according to the Ferber method at 6 months - and I don't intend to cosleep again; it wasn't the perfect fit for me... I need structure, a disciplined routine, and precious alone time with my husband. But I will always cherish those months of snuggling with my brand new first baby. 


...This baby who, two days ago, corrected me for the first time when I called him baby. I have always called him baby ["Yes, baby?" "No, baby"... etc] and he has always loved it. But the other night, as I was giving him the "one last cuddle" that he demanded, I whispered: "I love you my sweet Baby." Will stopped sucking his thumb to say, "No. I'm not a baby. I'm just Will."
"Well, yes," said I, rubbing his mop of hair off of his forehead. "But you're my Baby Will!"
"No," he said solemnly. "I'm a big boy Will."



He started calling me "Mom". Though he forgets often - thank the LORD - and reverts to Mommy. He is a big boy though. At his 3 year well check, my tall slim little man looked so grown up. He is perfectly proportionate, right smack in the 50th percentile both for height and weight. He told our doctor, "I left MY doctor at home." He kept insisting on this. I finally realized he was talking about his plastic stethoscope ;). 


He loves his baby brother. The moments of semi-ignorant aggression stopped as soon as Henry got mobile; Will is now completely preoccupied sweeping all of his toys out of our Hippo of a Henrin's determined path.


I started attending a Lenten Biblestudy with my friend Camille, and the second week, when I went to pick them up from childcare, the ladies could not stop talking about how hilarious a pair these two are. They said that when they had to change Henry's diaper, Will happened to look up and, upon seeing Henry's vacant spot, yelled, "WHERE is Henry?! Where is my brother?!"

They directed him to the changing table, whereupon he marched up and demanded of the little old lady changing Henry: "WHAT are you doing to my Henry?!"


They are such a match for each other. Will a nonstop chatterbox, Henry an agreeable little listener. Will loving constant attention, Henry delighting in making little lover eyes at all of us.

Will hopped up to me while I was working on this post and tearing up over all his old baby pictures. I showed them to him, but after a minute of studying his small self, he said simply, "But where's Baby Henry?" And that's all he wanted to talk about. 

Apparently, he already cannot imagine life without his chubby little brother. 


That picture cracks me up because it so perfectly captures the essence of their personalities. Will is a bouncy little Tigger to Henry's Pooh Bear. 

I just can't wait til Henry can catch up with Will a bit more, physically speaking. This was him the other day at the park, watching Will try determinedly to climb UP the slide:


Hahaaa! Oh my goodness, I love these guys. I am so unbelievably blessed that I get to spend my days with them.

Though I am not a super mom, by any means - you guys, I couldn't even throw Will a birthday party! Two weeks out, I realized, uh oh... this ain't happening. I did start a Pinterest board to plan for it. And pinned two things. When I asked him what he wanted for his birthday, Will just said, "A Birthday CAKE with Blue on it!!!"

Will's favorite person in the world is my littlest brother Joey; he is the picture of pure delight following Joe around in my parent's big woodsy backyard in the peaceful South Carolina countryside; so we decided last minute to go for the weekend and have a nice little birthday dinner for our boy. I just wanted him to feel special and have "Happy Birthday" sung to him. 

His Gobby showed up too and surprised him with the most amazing Curious George Publix birthday cake. OMG. It was amazing. 



He was overwhelmed.

I don't think it had entered his wildest dreams that there was such a thing as a birthday cake with blue on it AND George. 

Soooo yes, this birthday included no themed decorations, no homemade organic cake, and zero cutesy activities - which is humbling for me, because lets be real, you do those things for your "kids", but also to be able to tell other people about it. ;) I mean, you have to keep up with Pinterest! Its slightly embarrassing when other moms ask you what you did and you're all, "Ummmm..." I sincerely admire mama's who make a big effort for each of their children when they have a lot of them... Its definitely important for your child to have one day of the year that they feel like princes. So don't misunderstand me - I'm not anti-birthday parties. Lol. I was just... not into going all Pinterest on my 3 year old's birthday when he really wanted nothing more than a fun cake and lots of happy attention.

But despite his un-photogenic birthday... generic Dollar Store balloons and streamers which we threw up haphazardly in the Dining Room during his nap time on Saturday... with one gift to unwrap from his parents (a soccer ball and swim lessons for next month), his cake was perfection and the Birthday serenade was raucous... and I think Will truly felt special. When Jason tucked him in his cot on the floor that night, he asked Will, "Did you have a happy birthday, big guy?"

"YES!!!!" said Will emphatically. "And tomorrow issss Christmas!"

Clearly, the attention and celebration were addicting. He had to find a creative way to keep the momentum going. ;)

Some things I love about 3 so far? He is more cuddly. Not all day of course, but when he feels like it - at least once a day - he initiates "a kiss and cuddle" and its amazing.



And he doesn't think he still needs a nap, but if I cajole him to go lay down for a little rest with his favorite book [Richard Scarry's "Cars and Trucks and Things That Go"] he always falls asleep. And sometimes if we miss the nap due to errands, he passes out in the car and fills my rearview with the picture of a sweet little cherub.


There are daily tantrums, HUGE disasters (my house has literally never been messier)... and very trying moments. But man, I will miss this age. The hilarious moments, the amazing conversations, the weird and funny combination of child and baby. 3, I think I love you. You are pretty darn cute.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Brothers.



These two. 


I wasn't going to put them in the same little bedroom. Our house isn't large, but it has four small bedrooms, one of which is being used for the tv/office. So we have two bedrooms upstairs that are available for our children. 

From the day we found out Henry was a little dude number two, I have planned for them to eventually share a room. We don't live in town with a lot of family, and I wanted a permanent guest room if at all possible. The better to bribe the grands and aunts for free babysitting with ;). 

But obviously the sleep-scheduling thing was totally overwhelming for me. The mama's I surveyed seemed to agree that it was just better to wait til they were a bit older... like a year or so. And that was my plan!



But WILL had other plans. First of all, he started a weird phase sometime after Thanksgiving of being "scared" at night. I say that with quotations not because I am a mean mom, but because he never watches, hears, smells, or sees ANYTHING scary. Because all he ever watches is Curious George and... cmon dude. Not fooling me.

But I also remember vividly imagining things and terrifying myself as a very small child alone in my bed as well, while my little brothers got to sleep together every night, lucky ducks, so who am I to raise an eyebrow? It was especially hard when I'd go to tuck him in and he would cling to my neck, begging me to "kiss and cuddle".

So Jason and I were trying to deal firmly AND sympathetically with that dilemma.

Then, when I moved Henry upstairs a couple weeks ago during my Warrior Mama week, Will came bouncing into the room as I was screwing on the fourth side of the crib, which had been off for the last 8 months since Will was using it as a toddler/training bed. 

"Oooh Mommy, is Henry sleeping with Will?! Will and Henry sleep in the Blue room? Right Mommy, RIGHT." (This is how Will shmoozes us over. He says that "right!" with such happy, confident, self-assured certainty that it is SO hard to bust his bubble. He's a smart one. I don't do whining - it turns me into Rodmilla faster than Drew Barrymore can screw her mouth sideways - but the cocky, happy little "like a boss" method gets me every time, not the least because I am often too busy hiding a laugh to stand strong.)

Will asked me when he and Henry were going to sleep together in that little upstairs room with the blue curtains at every nap time and every bedtime for the next 4 days. I finally told him that when Daddy and Uncle Mo were able to move the bed in there, it was all his.

We finally did it. And I felt like I had to at least give him a shot because he seemed to want it SO badly. 

My brother came by one Saturday afternoon and helped Jason move the bed into the baby's room. This is what Will did immediately, right in the middle of the sunny day:


You could see the pure delight and excitement on his face. He loved the fact that the bed was next to the window, and he loved loved loved the idea of sleeping in a "boys room". Suddenly, there was this whole concept of him and Henry as a unit  on there own. He could not get us out of that room fast enough that night. "Ok, Mommy, go out. Bye bye." (I am really not exaggerating). 

That first night, he was really quite well behaved, considering. He is just old enough for me to be able to talk to him about what my expectations of him are, and what the consequences will be if he doesn't listen. The mere threat of having to go sleep in "the green room" by himself if he was loud, was more than enough to keep him relatively quiet. 

The next morning, Jason and I woke up to hear the sounds of Will and Henry giggling at each other in the monitor. I snuck up there to surprise them - and they were just laying in their beds and looking at each other as they giggled and squirmed in delight. 

Two weeks later, he springs up the stairs and into his bed when I have nursed Henry and come out to tell him its time. He is honestly excited to go to bed! There have been a few bad evenings, but nothing so bad that we had to actually move Will to the dreaded "Green Room" (that's the quite lovely guest room btw, lol). 


I love how much he loves having Henry, and that he won't ever have to be alone and scared in bed again. I love that it already makes such a difference to him having Henry's company. And I LOVE waking up to sweet little giggles in the monitor. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Being a Boy Mama

SIDENOTE: you know your Southern accent has gotten much, much worse than you had realized when, every time Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" comes blaring through the car stereo, and you enthusiastically belt it out along with her (duh)... you go: "So you wanna play with my jig... wait, what is a jig again? I'm getting old and uncool..."

No, I'm just a redneck. 

"Magic", not "Mahh jig". 

Every time, people. Every time. 


There is something special about being a boy mom. Granted, there is a lot of poop, fart jokes (right away), obsessions with peens from day 1, impatience, hair-pulling and crazy pent-up energy like you don't even know... But what you don't quite grasp ahead of time, which more than makes up for all the exhaustion, is the very real sense in which you are the first, great love of his life. 
Surrounded by my husband and my little men, I am wanted and adored more than ever before in my life. I feel guilty about how greedily I luxuriate in this fact. Last week, I received the first legit open-mouthed kiss of Henry's whole existence. It was slobbery and amazing. He grabbed me, got this crazy determined look in his eyes, went in for the kill (pulling my hair and rubbing his drooling, toothless mouth from side-to-side a few times over my entire face)... and pulled back with a half-shy, half-cocky smile of "Yeah, did ya like that?!"
 I look over at Jason occasionally with a half-apologetic smile as Henry is on one hip, blue eyes mooning at me besottedly, fat paws patting my cheeks with awkward affection, and Will is dangling from my various extremities, singing a made-up song that is usually along the lines of "I want to cuddle and kiss mamaaaaa!" Poor Jason. I would be happy with a whole litter of crazy boys, but someday I do hope we have a little baby girl, so just he can experience this special little baby romance for once, as I did with my Daddy. I adored the man. Conversely, my boys love their daddy, but I am enthroned Queen of their Hearts, for sure. 



The other night, Jason and I were chatting as our whole little family was squashed into the upstairs bathroom while the boys were getting bathed. 

Will was playing quietly and happily with his letters as we talked. He kept holding up letters and fact-checking - "K is for Kallah, right Mommy? That's for Mommy, right?!  W is for Will! J is for Jason! Right Daddy? Right!"... and so on. It was kind of exhausting. We have learned to usually just automatically affirm his fact-checking. "You are SO RIGHT, Will." And everyone is happy. 
So, we weren't paying much attention to Will's literary abilities. 
But as we were about to pull them out, I looked over Will's shoulder, and what I saw made me mouth tremble a little involuntarily and my throat feel funny. I grabbed Jason's sleeve and silently pointed when Will wasn't looking.
Mommy and Will, W and K, smashed together in a special place of their own. 
You could not have put them more closely together. 
It was the dearest and sincerest "Valentine" I have ever received. 
[Poor Jason... as you can barely see, his "J" is relegated to the corner. I am fairly certain he will get his recompense when they're a little older... they will want nothing more to do with me at some point, I am sure. Sooner than I'd like to imagine right now. The sad part about this baby-love is that it has a very short expiration date.]
I will cherish the memory of this stinky, messy, slobbery and sometimes-draining baby-boy-love long after they've abandoned me for twiggy little teenage girls with braces and sports bras. And sometimes, if I think about it long enough (like long enough to drag out a whole blog post)... I get to thinking: I really hope I am setting an appropriate example for them of the self-sacrificing, life-giving, peace-nurturing love of a good woman. Its so easy to get caught up in yourself, you know? This mama has this awesome series going where she challenges herself to stop with the self-hatred, obsession with imperfection, and over-all staring morbidly at your bellybutton. Its all too tempting to think you aren't hurting anyone but yourself by indulging in malcontent, especially when it comes to the way you look and feel about yourself... 
It does matter. Its a really intimidating and tear-inducing realization... but I am given daily evidence, from sloppy kisses and awkward little professions of undying love... that whether or not I set that example intentionally, I am their prototype. 
I do not take this lightly. But I need to be aware of it more.
True story: Will kept trying to bring his cars into our picture reel. He held up various players in front of the camera and babbled about them. 


Guess his love for me is rivaled by another love.
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