Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dreaming by Day

Stephen Richards said, "To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen."  In a day and a half, I plan to be dreaming by day.  For the past 4.5 years, I've wanted to be a stay-at-home mom.  Actually, as I was graduating college with my second BA, I was already planning in my mind how I could have a big family and stay home with my kids.  (Six years at UTK to stay at home... oh well, I enjoyed it).  However, the week before my maternity leave with Sammie was over, I stood in her room and cried my eyes out that I had to leave her to return to work.  I loved my job before that; I enjoyed my job afterwards; and ever since Lily was born, I've tolerated my job.  However, I have less than two days left there.  

Don't get me wrong.  It hasn't been bad.  I love the students I teach and many of the people I work with, and I enjoy working with Spanish and the yearbook.  It's just that my heart is elsewhere.  Part of it is down the hall, where Sammie has been in pre-school, graduating just a week ago.  I can't believe she's almost five.  The other part of it is about 15 minutes away, where Lily stays with a sitter every day.  It's a great situation, and I'm very grateful for the sitter we have, but she's just not me.  

So when we found out last September that we were going to add another baby to our treasure, David and I decided that it was time for me to stay home.  We've been working hard for the past (almost) four years to pay off all our debt except the mortgage, and with not having to pay childcare, we are ready to give it a try.  I'm sure it's not going to be easy, especially since we're used to having two salaries, but I know every minute will be worth it.  And I'm hoping to find some work to do from home so that I can continue to SAH til this little one is ready for school, at least. 

I have a week and a half (at most) til this little guy arrives.  Yep, after two girls, we have a boy on the way. I guess I'll have to amend my blog to say that a mother's treasure is her children, and not just her daughters.  My life will stay busy with trying to home school Sammie (who's just shy of the birthday cut-off for kindergarten), keep Lily from falling into the terrible twos (her birthday is in 2.5 weeks), take care of a newborn, and work from home.  I can't wait!  

It's been a long road, waiting for this day.  I've often found myself jealous of my other SAHM friends.  I'm sure my husband will be jealous of me getting to SAH, but he's said often that our kids need their mom at home.  I'm sure, at some point, I'll miss my teaching job, or the break from the house, but nothing can compare to seeing every first for my little boy, getting to teach Sammie to read, and never having to pry Lily off me when I have to leave for work again.  

A week or so ago, David and I were discussing whether we could make it financially, and I mentioned just going and finding another job and putting the kids in daycare within Sammie's earshot.  She immediately dissolved into tears, saying that I couldn't work anywhere she couldn't go.  She's been just down the hall from me, at school, for two years, and that's just about all she knows.  Her comment made me realize that I'm doing the right thing by staying with her in her formative years.  We might live on beans and rice sometimes, but we'll do it all together.  

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October moms have the cutest pumpkins

October has long been one of my favorite months. It's my birth month. It's a beautiful time to live in Tennessee. The trees are gorgeous with their reds, yellows, and oranges. The Tennessee Vols play Alabama. The tobacco barns are firing, drifting their smoke across the hills. And three years ago, my first daughter was born.

This year we spent her birthday in the Great Smoky Mountains. I had a teacher's convention there the week prior, so we just decided to make it a little family trip. My mother and father, and brother and sister-in-law came up for the weekend, and we had a great time! We did a little hiking, a little shopping, and a lot of eating. It was great having everyone together for Sammie's special day!

The next weekend was Sammie's birthday party. She is very much so a Tangled fan right now, so she asked to have a "Pincess" party. Her grandma made her two cakes, as always; one for just her, and one for everyone else. We had the party at a park nearby, cooked out, and all the kids played on the playground. Afterwards, just my family headed to the riverbank and ended the day with some fishing. Sammie was eating up all the time with her "favorite," Aunt Lindsey.

As if our month wasn't already busy enough, the next weekend was my school's fall festival. Each teacher/class was asked to run a booth. I came up with the idea of taking Khan, our Colombian Red-tail boa, and letting kids take pictures with him. Of course, Sammie was our first customer. We ended up taking somewhere 160-175 pictures.

Of course, since the 8th of the month passed, Lily turned another month older. She's now 4 months old! Crazy how time flies. To me, my girls look like twins born 2.75 years apart. But not everyone else spent as much time scrutinizing their faces as I have. Heh... I found this picture of Sammie on my Facebook, and held it up for David to see. It took him a minute to decide if it was Sammie or Lily. Only after noticing the baby in the picture had no hair, did he decide it was Sammie. I got him to take a picture of Lily and my phone. Multiple people have asked why I took a picture of me taking a picture; assuming that's Lily on my phone. Boy, do they look alike!

Lily also decided to start sitting up this month. I swear, she's going to do everything faster than Sammie did! It doesn't last long, as she's got some strong leg muscles, and likes to stiffen them up often; but she can sit alone for 10 seconds or so. The picture isn't her first time, but I did get my wish to witness the first time. It's something I prayed for often with Sammie, to witness all her firsts, and I'm currently praying for it with Lily, too.

To end our eventful month, we took our church kids to the pumpkin farm. Of course, that meant our girls go to go, too. We have a picture of Sammie in this pumpkin patch every October, so far. We couldn't miss out on the tradition. After taking a pic of her alone, we got this one of the two of them.

While pregnant with Sammie, I came across a quote that said, "October moms have the cutest pumpkins." I must say they do. I love my pumpkins dearly. And call me biased, but they aren't just cute, they're absolutely adorable!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It won't be like this for long

I'm sure most of you have heard the country song that inspired today's title. I heard it for the first time just days before Sammie was born. However, it's become even more of a mantra with Lily. It's especially poignant today, as I know that I have only 6 days left of maternity leave.

No part of Lily's life has yet to last long. My labor with her lasted less than 4 hours. My water was broken at 2:45 and Lily was born at 6:29, without time even for an epidural. Lily, with her head full of hair, came so quickly that the doctor never even made it in the room.

At less than two weeks old, Lily started sleeping through the night. She continues to this day, sleeping 7-8 hours straight, waking to join me in bed, then sleeping another 3-4 hours. This is one thing I do hope lasts.

Lily wasn't even a month old when she began smiling. Her smiles are huge, spreading ear to ear. Quite often, those smiles are accompanied by laughs and coos. At her 2-month check-up, her pediatrician said, "I can't get over how social she is!" My baby's already growing up too fast.

Sometimes I feel I've wasted her first three months. I'm fairly sure I've had a touch of depression, whether it be PPD or not. Being stuck in a house for 6 weeks straight (with a very energetic toddler, who is also stuck in the house, and therefore creates mess after mess) will do that to you. The speed with which those 3 months have flown by, exacerbates that thought. I've spent much of that time irritable and impatient. Yet, I've spent the great majority of that time holding Lily. Her grin annoys the mess out of me, in that, it is impossible to remain angry over anything when she flashes it. I was trying to feed her the other day, in a hurry to get to church, and she was doing her newest thing: grinning with the "food" still literally in her mouth. My comment: "Would you eat? Don't smile at me like that! It's impossible to fuss at you when you're being so dadgum adorable." Yep, we were late to church.

I was reading back over some of my musings from this time in Sammie's life, and came across this:

"I'm holding [my baby's] hand and I can't let go because, soon enough, she'll be letting go to blaze through the doors of kindergarten. Soon enough, she'll be in high school, holding some boy's hand...and then walking down the aisle to meet him... squeezing it as she bears his children. Soon enough, she'll be holding the hand of her own baby girl."

No, it most definitely won't be like this for long. But for today, I'm going to take the advice of Matthew 6:34 and let tomorrow worry about itself. For today, I'm going to hold my Lily, take in her smell, feel her breath on my cheek, and store many memories of her smiles. For today, I'm going to spend all day with Lily. For today, I'm going to make this last as long as I can.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

No more monkeys jumping on the...

For about three months, Sammie's favorite book was "No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed!"  I would read it to her, and she would yell, "No more jumping ON the bed!"  Finally, she found a new favorite book (much to my delight), and we put that one aside.  Every now and then, it makes a comeback though.

It is quite fitting then, that our closest "jumpy" place is called Monkey Joes.  It's about 45 minutes away from us, but today it was well worth the drive for her to be able to play in the air conditioning.  I mean, the heat index was only 105 degrees.  Of course, Lily came along. 

Sammie loves jumping on anything that bounces. When we visit the zoo, I have to drag her out of the bounce house. Today was no different. She started off on the slide (and begged me to come along). Then moved to the "mini-monkey zone."

She enjoyed this, especially as there were a couple of summer camp field trips there and everything else was crowded with the big kids. She used the little slide in there a few times, and then began flipping over it.

I had brought along a pocket full of quarters, and she decided she wanted to play some games. First, we took a break, then we played "Whack-a-Gator" and "Skeeball" over and over, until she had 30 tickets. (Well actually, until the big kids showed up and took over her games... Mama Bear ran them off, but she was done after that).

After the games (and a frog, dinosaur, and Smarties for prizes), she begged to play some more. She had decided she was big enough to follow the big kids before our break, and so she kept it up.

She loved the obstacle course bouncers. But her favorites were the slides. She'd blast through the course, simply to get to the slides. She flipped down them, went down them backwards, on her tummy, and any other way she could come up with. But they all ended the same, with a wipeout!

I had to drag her (not literally) out the door, crying, as she was begging to stay longer to play. I promised her we'd return sometime soon. School around here starts in about three weeks, so maybe after that, we'll have the place to ourselves. Or at least, maybe most of the kids will be Sammie's age. I count myself blessed to have another six weeks off to spend with my two girls. Maternity leave (even though unpaid) is so nice.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sitting in the middle of the bench

Barbara Johnson once said, "Love is what makes two people sit in the middle of the bench when there is plenty of room at both ends." Saturday, David and I celebrated our sixth anniversary. Of course, having two kids and little money, it wasn't meant to be a huge celebration. In fact, we began the day at my parents' house, breaking beans from the garden so they could can them. And if that's not enough, we ended the day buying groceries. But in the middle, we spent some time outdoors as a family.

We headed to Rotary Park, where we went on a short hike. The trail follows a creek, and though right behind Kmart, and across from the skating center, is quiet and peaceful. We spent a few days here while dating, after David's brother introduced it to us. In fact, on that very trip, David dropped me in the creek. He was supposed to be helping me down from the trail, but that didn't go over well, and I ended up soaked. We walked to that spot today, and found a new bridge built across the creek.

We enjoyed our hike, and David even took some time to teach Sammie about the power of water. Just look at the awesome grooves it cut through this rock.

And of course, I wouldn't be happy without taking some family pictures. We tried to get Sammie to take a picture of us, but she doesn't yet have steady enough hands. So after a blurry pic and one with our heads cut off, we gave up and did it the old fashioned way, by holding the camera out in front of us.

Afterwards, we took a couple more of us split up.

The following picture is a retake of one that I have from when we were dating (minus the kids, of course).

Sorry. I'm not sure why this one won't rotate.
It was a nice little reminder of our dating days, and a great way to celebrate our 6th anniversary!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nobody puts baby in a corner... but I do put mine in a wrap.

We're a family that loves the great outdoors. David and I met while working at a camp, and many of our dates were walking the fields and swimmimg in the creeks. When we say we're going to the Great Smoky Mountains, most people think we're going to Gatlinburg. While we may spend a few hours there, the bulk of our trip is spent hiking and camping in the mountains.

When our first daughter came along, we knew that our time outoors wouldn't diminish, we'd just take her along. However, hiking with a baby in your arms is not only annoying, it's also unsafe. So we decided to buy a Snugli to carry her in. The one thing that caught us off guard was how small Sammie was. Her first trip to the GSM was when she was just 13 days old. We put her in the Snugli, and headed out. She promptly began sliding out the leghole. Needless to say, we ended up carrying her in our arms for that trip.

On that very same trip, while spending a couple of hours in Gatlinburg, I looked at baby wraps. However, knowing nothing about them, I didn't purchase one. Soon, Sammie was big enough to use the Snugli, and use it we did. We took her to Burgess Falls when she was 8 months old.

And we took her to Rotary Park more than once.

And sometimes, Daddy would carry her.

This time around, however, I knew I wanted a wrap, so we could begin young. I did a good bit of research between kids, and finally settled on a Sleepywrap (much like a Moby). Now, there are major benefits to wearing baby (selfish mommies like me get to keep baby to themselves, baby bonding with Mommy, baby being able to hear Mommy's heartbeat at all times, keeping strangers' grimy hands off baby, etc), but the one that I was most interested in was having my hands free. Sammie is quite the Mommy's girl, and since she's so little, she still gets (and wants to be) held a lot. With a wrap, I can hold her and Lily at the same time, and still have one hand free.

So for Christmas last year, I asked for a black Sleepywrap. I should have practiced a few times before Lily came, but it just wasn't a priority. Due to lack of practice, I mis-wrapped her the first time I wore it, and she slowly slid down my chest to my belly. However, she absolutely loves being wrapped to me! We took her to the GSM, too. She went when she was eight days old, and if we weren't in the car, she was wrapped to me. Let me tell you, it was wonderful!

Since then, I've wrapped her through church, at the park, the movies, the zoo, the store (much easier than using two carts because the car seat takes up one), plus a few other places. Most of the time, she sleeps (it is called a Sleepywrap), but when she's awake, she chills like this.

The wrap was much cheaper than a double stroller, not to mention how easily it fits in my trunk... I often wrap Lily and stick Sammie in the stroller. Or if I must, I wrap Lily and carry Sammie. Sometimes, like at the zoo, I do both.

When people ask me about my nursing shawl, I tell them it was the best $25 I spent in baby gear for Sammie. Well, my wrap is the best $35 [my mom] spent in baby gear for Lily.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just making introductions

I've been meaning to do this for quite some time, but as life would have it, it always got pushed to the back burner. But I guess now is as good a time as any.

I've chosen to title my blog "A Mother's Treasure," a clip from Catherine Pulsifer's quote, "A mother's treasure is her daughter." I have two daughters, Samantha and Lilliana, and they are my treasure. While I love my husband (I obviously chose him), my daughters are my heart.

Samantha, henceforth known as Sammie, is 2 years old and is the epitome of Walt Disney's quote, "I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment." In fact, her desire to be constantly on the move is most likely the reason that she's almost three, and yet weighs only 25 pounds. She's our Tinkerbell, with white blonde hair, and standing a head shorter than most of her peers.

Sammie at one month old

Lilliana, aka Lily, is my newborn. Barely a month old, she is already standing apart from her sister. While Sammie never once spit up, it's a multi-daily occurrence with Lily. Sammie also rarely slept through the night (until we began co-sleeping). Lily has been sleeping most of the night since birth. Lily's hair is also dark, and there's enough for her to wear hairbows already. And Lily has chubby little cheeks. However, from a profile view (minus the hair), Lily and Sammie look almost identical.

It remains to be seen if they'll be my little "twins," or if Sammie will be "Cinderella" and Lily "Belle."

I chose Monkey Toes' Mom as my sign-off, because both of my girls have their daddy's toes. To put it in perspective, my husband's second toe is longer than my pinky finger (no kidding!). They both have super long toes, too. When Sammie was born, David nicknamed her "Monkey Toes." (She has at least 20 plush monkeys because of it). When Lily came along, it was one of the first body parts we inspected. In fact, before David had cut the cord, she'd been dubbed "Monkey Toes," too. So I'm their mom, the only one in the family without monkey toes.

So this is my blog. Expect it to mostly be about my "treasures," but since I find writing therapeutic, expect tidbits of other topics. I hope you'll enjoy reading our escapades.