Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Baby is 1

Such a bittersweet moment. My baby boy turned 1 yesterday. The past year has gone by so quickly. I guess sleep deprivation can do that to time.

He is at such a glorious age. He is fun and happy and sleeps well, but as soon as he takes those first steps he won't be a baby anymore...he'll be a toddler. He is very close. He received a shopping cart walking toy for his birthday and he loves doing circles around the living room, but he needs help to make the turns. He will also briefly let go of whatever is holding him up.

He is such a Momma's boy and loves me so much. Will he ever love me this much again once he wants to do everything himself and can say 'no'? When my first son turned 1 only a year and a half ago we thought he was so big. And while they have changed so much from those first days and weeks he is still a baby and I can see that now with my second. Now that I understand how fleeting babyhood is I am able to enjoy it so much more. I try to breathe it in and seer it in my memory everyday.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The job of a mother

I'm not huge on forwards, especially if they say you have to send it to so many people or something bad will happen or to get something good, but this one just made sense to me and made me feel good. It also brought a few tears to my eyes. Motherhood can be a thankless job, but we all do it for a reason, actually many reasons. Enjoy.

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'

Obviously not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that grad uated sum a cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England ..

Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.

I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription:

'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:

No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.

They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.

The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.

And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does.
We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Road Trip

The fam went out of town this weekend to visit some friends and have a little collage reunion. A 2 & 1/2 year old and 1 year old are totally manageable in the car for three hours when there is a parent with two free arms able to turn around to offer toys, books, dropped sippy cups, and snacks repeatedly. It is a little bit of a different story when the only adult in the car is driving. Such is the situation I found myself in on Sunday when we left my husband behind for a work conference and I drove the three hours home on my own with the boys. The first hour and a half was great! They were asleep. The next 20 minutes were not bad, but then the kids were over it. My1 year old was hitting his cranky time, anytime after 4:30, and my toddler was insistent that he needed his shoes on even though he had to have them off when we got in the car. I tried some different music on the radio for a little while and finally had to give in and sing songs for the rest of the ride. Old MacDonald and the Wheels on the Bus were big hits. All in all it was not bad. My toddler is usually great in the car and I could have wished for a little more on his end. The baby has never been one to be soothed by the car, but he gets better all the time. I definitely know I can handle it and I didn't even have to pull over and set up the DVD player. I'm sure it will be necessary in the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My First Pie

I have been doing an apple unit with my day care kids and we read "The Apple Pie Tree" by Zoe Hall which goes through the yearly changes of an apple tree and how the family makes apple pie after the harvest. My 2 and 1/2 year olds don't have enough prior knowledge to know what making a pie is like so I decided to make one with them. So became my first pie. I made the crust in the food processor last night and refrigerated it for today. I rolled the bottom crust out while the kids were arriving and let them watch. When my one year old went down for his nap the bigger kids sat at the island while I cut apples and gave them some to try.
Here's the inside!

They helped dump the ingredients in and tried the dough. The crusts were the hardest parts as I thought they might be. I'm sure it takes practice. I may not have put enough ice water in since they kept cracking when I tried to roll them out. I had to pinch and push the bottom crust a little to get it to cover and the top ended up with some patches. Oh well. You need vents right? Once it was cooked you couldn't tell as much. It tasted good though, nice flaky crust and sweet, not too mushy apples.
My first pie cooling on the window sill, how old fashioned.

Between the kids all having some and my parents coming over for dinner and dessert there was only one slice left. Thank goodness there wasn't extra for me to eat and eat and eat. I'll definitely do a pie again. Hopefully I'll get my own deep dish for Christmas and won't have to run over to my mom's at 6:45 in the morning to borrow hers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What do I stand for?

Last night I heard a speaker who is a mayoral candidate and an alumni of my same sorority. She spoke to us more as a sorority sister than from a political standpoint. The gist of her speech was that life is constantly changing and you have to know what you stand for as you move through different stages of your life. So, I've been thinking about what I stand for. I had so many ideas running through my head of what I stand for and I've narrowed it down. I stand for integrity and love. To me those encompass being honorable, gracious, courteous, loyal, principled, and respectful. Now I just need to make sure those emanate from me in my daily life.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The holidays are so exciting now with kids to thrill and decorate for. I was so eager to get my box of Halloween decorations out and get it all up. Boy was I disappointed with my box only produced a few fun things. The small ceramic jack-o-lanterns on the mantle and one big one in the front yard have been quite impressive for 2 year olds. I've added a "spooky house" as we call it, a Lemax on the counter with a witch flying over it. The flashing lights are a big hit. I've also added a store bought fall wreath that I added ribbon to, a store bought glittered 'trick or treat' sign, and stick on bats on my living room mirrors. My project of glittering bones has stalled many times, but I finally have some up on the mantle in a square vase. They might move when I get the rest finished. My son's first birthday is a few days before Halloween so we're going with the theme, possibly every year until he gets tired of it. I'll be able to grow my collection a little each year and know that it will actually be seen.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Get rid of the baby stuff?!

I'm just not ready. We're having a garage sale, but I'm not ready to part with all of the stuff that came along with my boys (now 2 and 1/2 and 1 year). I'm still holding on to the hope that my husband will give in and we'll have just one more. I've always wanted a bigger family. Growing up it was just my brother and I and he is 7 and 1/2 years younger than me. I just feel like there is another baby waiting to join our family.

When our second was colicky and would start crying at 7:00pm every night and go until 10:30pm or 12:00am or 1:30am it was so stressful and exhausting that he said we were done. Then our baby boy turned into a sleeper and we thought we'd try again this fall. But our other son was 2 and all that it entails. A lack of listening skills and again with the sleeping problems. It takes, on average, an hour to get him to sleep at night with someone in the room with him. He won't stay in his bed or even his room. And again we decided our hands were full.

I'm hoping next fall will be good timing for us to think about it again. In the last three months our older son is already showing signs of improvement and I am hopeful for his third birthday. By next fall the baby will be leaving babyhood behind officially by Halloween so if we can conceive before he turns two we can get well into 2 and 1/2 before a potential third baby arrives.

So, for now I'm holding on to my baby dreams and all that stuff too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola

So, the pork chops turned out really well. Definitely cooked, but not dry or overdone. It was easier than I had expected since my mom came over and fed the baby and my husband took the toddler with him to Costco. My husband isn't big on tomatoes so it isn't his favorite, but hey, it's a home cooked meal, right?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's for dinner?

This is something I struggle with nightly. I've tried planning ahead. Use some time on the weekend to plan the whole week. This is actually very effective and helpful, but I let the weekend time slip away from me, not that it even takes that long. So why don't I do it then? I'm a procrastinator to be sure.

Okay, so dinner tonight. Pork chops because they are already out of the freezer. What to do with them? I scour,, and looking for my answer, an easy recipe with ingredients I actually own. This routine happens at least once a week. For tonight I choose a Giada De Laurentiis recipe from The Food Network, Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola, which I have actually made once before and I think they were good.

Now if I can only get my toddler watching mindless TV and the baby eating some finger foods stuck in the high chair long enough to have the chance to get dinner on the table before 10pm.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Why would I read a vampire book?

That's what I thought... Especially for a book written for young adults, i.e. high school girls. But everyone else had read them. A friend from high school, my cousin, my cousin's wife, then this summer my mom read all four books, and the final straw was when I found out my totally normal friend was reading them. I decided to borrow Twilight from my mom to see what everyone was talking about. Big mistake. I became obsessed in an instant. For three weeks, as I read book after book, I stayed up way too late (especially when one of the kids would wake up 10 minutes after I turned out the light) until I started to get a sore throat. I ignored my poor husband. Every minute I could get I was reading! When the kids were sleeping. While laying on the floor while my boys played around me. Forget housework. Thank you notes from the baby's baptism, not done. Invitations for his first birthday party, delayed. I was a delinquent mom and wife. I couldn't believe how into those books I got. If you have not read the Twilight Saga yet I implore you to do so. You will not be disappointed. Do it now. Make sure you read Twilight before you see the movie that comes out November 21. Let me know what you think. Enjoy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Stay At Home Mom becomes Work At Home Mom

I'm living my dream. I have ALWAYS wanted to be a mom. I always knew I would stay at home with my kids if at all possible. I guess I actually became a work at home mom before my first son was even born. While working with a friend of mine, who also turned out to be pregnant and due a month after me, I suggested that she keep me in mind if she didn't already know who would be caring for her child after the birth. She said she would talk it over with her husband, but she was pretty much in. We ended up both having boys and they are only 10 days apart. So in August of 2006 when they were 5 months old I became a work at home mom. I felt like our little family could use a little extra in the finance area. At least I could make the car payment. I also get to stay with my kids and I think my friend feels like she has someone she can trust to leave her son with.

I guess my services are wanted because another friend asked if I could watch her daughter too. In the state of California you have to be licensed to watch kids from more than one family so I set off to figure this all out. In my home day care I currently watch 5 children including 2 of my own, four of them are 2 and 1/2 and my other son is 1. Hands full? You bet! And I wouldn't have it any other way.