Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Place to Call Home

I've lived in this house for over six years now, but somehow it's never really felt like home. I always felt like a long-term visitor in someone else's home. Slowly over the years we've made our place our own, but about as soon as I started to feel like I had a place here, we created two little babies who quickly turned into small humans who took over every corner of the house with their stuff! We had my oldest girl in the basement, but the great flood of '15 drowned her out, and we knew we had to make a change.

After exploring pretty much every option known to man, we decided to add on to our existing home. It had needed a lot of love for a long time, but we'd never wanted to commit to a lot of renovation for fear we might relocate one day and lose the investment. The windows and siding were original, built in the late 50s. The ONLY bathroom the five of us were sharing was a little 5x8 that needed a complete makeover.

We started discussing options and somehow happened to be at the right place at the right time when our friend Shane happened to be in ear shot. Before I knew it he had offered a good idea, offered to do the construction work, and drawn up a rough plan and estimate.

Then a whole lot of stuff happened that would take me years to recount. We had a January 1 loan deadline. We started framing in December. And that's about how the whole project went. Everything depended on someone else, and the next thing couldn't be done until the first thing was ready. On top of that, most of the people working for us had other jobs, their own farms, and other projects going simultaneously.

It was like my wildest dream and my worst nightmare all rolled into one!

And the DECISIONS! I always wanted to build a brand new home, but now I'm not so sure. I'll never forget looking at the chalk lines on the floor on a cold windy day and trying to make sense of them and decide RIGHT THEN where I wanted my toilet and my closet door. And that was the big stuff. Pretty easy. Then there were the details.

What color cabinets do you want? What type of wood? What color counter top goes with that? And what color are we going to paint the walls to go with the wood and the countertops? What about the flooring? Now we need light fixtures and faucets that mesh with what we've got going on here. Also switches and covers. Then what type of curtains? And do you know HOW MANY KINDS OF SHOWER CURTAINS THERE ARE??? Oh and don't forget handles and knobs for the cabinets. That go with the lights and the walls and the floors and the wood. AND THAT'S JUST ONE BATHROOM! It was a nightmare for someone like me, who isn't really picky, and has a hard time committing to one thing...because everything looks better than what we had!

There were a LOT of ups and downs. There were so many decisions to make, bills to pay, things to buy, things to do (hubby and I stained all the trim, did all the painting, and bought all the little stuff in a string of about 97 trips to Menards and Lowes). We spend Super Bowl Sunday flying across the state after more trim, staining the trim we had, and painting our room so that the carpet could go down on Monday and the furniture could be delivered on Tuesday.

Our carpet guy, Mike, came at the drop of the hat to get each room ready for the next step when we needed him to. Shane came at 7:30 one morning and did all the doors and trim before lunch so the next step could be started.

Then finally all the walls were painted and all the carpet was laid and all the furniture was arranged. I remember Shane standing in our hallway, which used to be our awful bathroom, smiling from ear to ear saying, "This is what I saw. The very first day we talked about it, THIS is what I saw, and there it is."

It is beautiful. All of it. It's well done and every detail was thought-out even when I couldn't foresee it. And for the first time in six years, when I walk in my front door, I feel like I'm HOME.

Before and After Pics

Here you can see the original bathroom on the top left. On the top right it is under construction. The bottom pictures show it after remodel, when it became the hallway. I circled the places so you can tell where it used to be!
This is the new main before pictures because it didn't exist!

New master bathroom

Our old bedroom

New bedroom

Living room - pre-makeover
Living room post-makeover



The Whole Enchilada:
New windows & siding on entire property
Remove old garage doors
New mechanical garage door
Remove old 2x16 interior porch
Add 8x16 wood deck
Remove old bathroom & add hallway
Add master bedroom with walk-in closet
Add master bath
Add guest bath
New carpet & vinyl throughout
Paint all
New trim throughout
New Furniture

The Thank-You List
Shane Dagget - J&S Construction - for bringing our dream to fruition, for all the hard work, putting up with me, finding us all the best deals and best subs, and doing exceptional work at a fair and honest price. We didn't have a labor 'bid' so I'll just say coming in under our expectation.
Jason Dagget - J&S Construction - for lending us your brother and coming over to help when needed. And all the input from how to fit a bath tub in our master, to the great light-switch-to-fix-a-hole idea.
Garage Door Mike - for doing a great job at a fair price in a quick and efficient manner
Bolivar Insulation - for our beautiful windows and siding, excellent customer service, and coming in under quote :)
Mike Coffey - Coffey Plumbing - for doing excellent work, all the plumbing advice, and coming in under quote...even AFTER adding a water heater we didn't anticipate :)
Mike Mitchell - Eldorado Flooring - for taking our handful of random carpet samples and shopping for us, finding carpet and vinyl exactly like we envisioned, installing it with little notice, working long hours and doing absolutely excellent work, and coming in right at quote.
Rodney Kilgore - Kilgore Custom Woodwork - for our absolutely beautiful cabinets and vanities, your patience with my decision making, your advice on wood and color choices, your assistance in handle choosing, and coming in at quote (but after we made actually under).
Robert Creasey - for also coming on our schedule, doing beautiful work, and coming in right at quote.
Gene Johnson - for great electrical advice, doing all our wiring and installation (including new fans and lights I added along the way) and coming in under quote.
Justin Loehr - for providing our metal to match the existing roof at a great price, and at the drop of a hat.
Cody Peery- Osceola Insulation - for doing all our insulation and coming out on a Sunday morning to fit us in your schedule.
Meeks Lumber - for all our lumber, delivery, returns. Excellent service and great prices.
The Captain - for helping remove siding and being an extra set of hands for Shane.
My husband - for not divorcing me after all this :) also for all his hard work on the trim, flooring, painting, and helping all the workers, his patience with my (lack of) decision making, constant trips to Sedalia, Springfield, and even Osage Beach, and letting me paint and decorate the bedroom how I wanted to...oh and for his hard work to pay for all this for the next 15 years..he's the best!

Friday, October 2, 2015


A few things you need to know about me before you can fathom the depth of my joy in this post:

1. We very rarely have an evening sitter for all 3 of our children. I can count on one hand the times we've been completely alone as a couple in the past year and a half. Simply eating at a restaurant together and not having children fighting, screaming, refusing to eat, needing food cut, etc. is a blessing in itself.

2. I've liked Jamey Johnson since 2008. I've been what you'd call a 'fan' since 2009, and by 2010 you could definitely call me a HUGE fan. Don't believe me? Look.

3. I started listening to Outlaw Country on Sirius XM this summer. A lot. It was there I first heard Whitey Morgan and subsequently bought his album.

4. Both Whitey Morgan and Jamey Johnson "starred" my tweet this summer, which was a pretty big deal.  

5. High Cost of Living is not only my favorite Jamey song, but probably my favorite song EVER of all time and all genres.  
I'd had tickets for months. This was my redemption. I'd had tickets to see him on the very same day 4 years earlier, and the show was cancelled at the last minute. I tried to manage my excitement and not let myself get too over-enthused, for fear it could happen again.

I tweeted Cash on KTTS several times, trying to find out if they were going to do a meet and greet. I had plans to be the first one at the door, even if it meant leaving home at noon. Much to my dismay, they were not. I called the venue to find out if the standing-area in front of the stage would be open as it had in concerts past. It would not. It didn't matter when I arrived, I had an assigned seat and there was no way I was getting any closer than row 3 (which is a pretty great seat, I'm not saying it isn't!).

As the day approached, I knew it didn't matter. I had a hotel reservation and a night out planned with my husband. Even if the show were cancelled, I'd still have a great night. I knew it. I could feel it.

We had dinner at Big Whiskey's. We were out and about early, so we hit happy hour. Side note? Best BBQ wings I've ever had, and THE best Long Island anywhere. Hands down. I was beaming as we walked down the block to the Gillioz. Already a great night, and the doors were about to open.

We trickled inside with the crowd, and I stopped first at the merchandise table. I started scanning the shirts and noticed they weren't Jamey Johnson shirts. No. They were Whitey Morgan shirts! What?! Nowhere did anyone mention him! My thoughts quickly became words.

"Oh my gosh. What! If Whitey Morgan is here, I'll just..."

I was quickly interrupted by sales dude.

"Yeah, he is. It was a last minute thing, him and Chris Hennesse, but we're so excited!"

It was all I could do to contain my enthusiasm.

So I bought 2 shirts. I went to the bathroom right away to don my Jamey Johnson shirt, and folded up Whitey for another day.

Chris Hennessee was great. Whitey Morgan and the 78s did not disappoint. It was nearly 9 by the time they left the stage, and I made a run for the bathroom before it was time for the concert I'd waited six years for.

Pretty soon the lights went down, and finally Jamey came out on stage. To say I was excited would be like saying the North Pole is chilly. He got his guitar ready, and played two notes before I knew he was playing my song.

The crowd erupted. I sang EVERY. WORD. (much to the dismay of those around me, I'm sure!) He followed it with "Place Out on the Ocean" which is another of my favorites.

I sat down and told Bryan that was it. I was completely satisfied and happy, and we still had the whole concert to see.

He sang all the good ones. He sang some old songs, did some covers, and a little before 11:30 called it a night.

I've never had such a great night.

We walked outside and started talking about what to do from there. Should we go out for a while? Big Whiskey's was just two doors down. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw some of the guys from the 78s just hanging out in front of the theater. I asked them for a picture and they happily obliged!

The more we talked, the more my wheels started turning.

"What if we just hang around here a while?" I asked Hubby. I mean...maybe he'll come out, too.

He told me he was sure that stoic Jamey Johnson wasn't going to come waltzing out the front door to hang out. I decided he was right. I mean, he DOES have a bit of a reputation for being...well...quiet. And maybe introverted, and not always social.

"Wonder if there's a back-door?" I asked him with a sly smile.

"We can find out. C'mon," and that was the first and hopefully last time in my life a man led me down a dark alley :)

We snuck down the quiet alley and I jumped the gun as I saw a group of people in the distance.

"Oooh!" I started.

"Don't think Jamey Johnson's bunch are in hoodies looking at their's probably a gang..."

We picked up the pace and made it to the back side of the theater on the next street. There was a small group of people in a sort-of line. Some of them had guitars and albums. And then I saw them: trailers. And vans. And that's when it hit me. They were waiting for him.

We stood for what seemed like years. I kept telling myself he wouldn't be there. He'd probably already escaped in some bus and these were just his 'people' getting the stuff.

One of the 78s came out and said he didn't know what we were all waiting for.

I lost a little more hope.

Then there was a light.  A flashlight.

It was one of the 'people' and he was holding the light so Jamey could see to sign.

Yep he was RIGHT THERE!

I couldn't believe it.

Finally our turn came, and I got to meet the musician I've idolized for years. And guess what? He was NOTHING like his reputation. He wasn't grouchy or anti-social. He was also shorter than I thought he would be, but that's beside the point.

I introduced myself, and told him I'd waited six years to see him in concert, and how much I loved the show. He said to me, in his quiet, baritone voice, "Well I'd say that's long enough!" We took a picture, he met the husband, and thanked us for coming out.

I started walking away and suddenly realized in all the commotion I forgot to have him sign my shirt.

I stepped back up to the "guy" and told him the dilemma. He told me he was sure he'd be happy to sign it for me and told me to stand next to him. I stood and waited through the rest of the line, then the guy explained and he smiled, and happily signed my shirt.

I told the mister that I could just die happy now, and that's just how I felt. I've never had a better night or been happier than I was that night. I'm so thankful for a husband who lets me be a fan-girl and takes me on stalking adventures and always makes the best of the little time we get alone. I'm one very lucky girl.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kitchen Renovation: Labor Day Weekend (literally)

We decided Labor Day weekend was a great time to get started on the kitchen. There were tons of sales going on, and we had an extra day to work.

The beginning was FUN!

Bringing the vision to fruition was exciting. While most things worked out that we had in mind, we had to tweak a few things, and we ended up having to run all over Sedalia to get our corrugated metal. When we picked a paint color, we quickly agreed on a shade, and later noticed the color name was "Farmhouse Red." It must have been a sign.

My favorite purchase was our flooring. We decided to go with a vinyl plank. I could bore you with all the advantages to using it, but I'll just leave it at this: cheap, easy, functional, nice-looking. If we were building a new home, maybe we'd splurge for fabulous floors, but the truth is, we're working on a 60 year old home and re-doing old cabinets, so we're looking for FUNCTIONAL and kid-friendly. This floor was perfect, and I absolutely LOVE how it looks.

When we finally got home, we were so excited to start working. We removed cabinet doors and hardware, and started sanding. We painted well into the wee hours of the morning. We were having a great time, and things were running really smoothly. We were excited to start again the next day.

 The next day we decided we'd really need to get the walls started and re-do the counter tops. We didn't have a sink or a counter top. so another trip to Sedalia was necessary.

We found what we needed, and it was time to start demolition. That's when things became UN-fun really fast.

Those cabinets were made solid and sturdy, we THINK by someone with a new nail gun and nothing but roofing nails. It was a nightmare. Hubby finally had to bring out the Handy Man to get the job done!

I guess this was the point where it started to get real. We were able to see exactly how much work was ahead of us, and if we hadn't already destroyed the counter top, I think we might have just forgot the whole thing.

Instead, we charged through, and my amazing husband installed his first sink and counter top all by himself, and actually did a fantastic job. With the cabinets basically done, it was time to start on the walls and floors. We laid the floor in no time, and it was so easy we thought we pretty much had things made. We started cutting boards and tin and began covering the walls.

Things moved along well, but before we knew it the weekend was over and we had forgotten to get trim, door hinges, and some other things, and we decided with all the money we saved (and with our pretty new kitchen) we wanted new appliances. So, we did what we could and put it away for another day.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kitchen Renovation: Pre-conception

Kitchen Renovation: Pre-conception

It's official. My family is outgrowing our home. After a lot of consideration, planning, and house-hunting, we decided to just add-on to what we already have. A bedroom and two small bathrooms is what we decided, because we need the extra room and a bathroom re-do above all else.

While we were discussing all this, we started toying with the idea of re-doing the kitchen.

"One day when we get the addition paid off..."

"If we have any money left after our add-on...."

We nonchalantly rattled off "somedays" at each other every time the topic came up.

As we got closer to working on our add-on, I started looking for decorating ideas on Pinterest (because decor before the foundation is poured is totally normal, right?)

As I was looking, I saw where someone had used pallet wood to re-do a wall. I loved it. I showed it to the hubs, and we started researching what it would take to do something like that in our kitchen. We could just do it ourselves, you know, real quick-like, and give it a little update, then do cabinets down the road in the future.

Because have you seen our kitchen?


Let me let you peek.
Is that shower board above the stove, or is it just really awful paneling? Either way I'm pretty sure it belongs in a bathroom...
The cabinets are solid, and very functional...but not so pretty. Someone made an attempt at the wallpaper, but even an act of God isn't getting that glue off, believe me. I tried.

I inherited this mess, mind you. I did not make it. It came with the whole husband package as-is, no warranty, no maintenance plan. Half-attempted to be fixed at some time by a former owner, and abandoned. I can't blame them. I'm not certain they didn't cement that wallpaper to the walls.

As we perused Pinterest to figure out how easily we could (or could not) apply the pallet wood, hubs mentioned a corrugated metal backsplash. Sounded interesting.



I found a corrugated metal and barn-plank wall!

That would be SUPER easy, and SUPER inexpensive, right?


And so, our DIY Kitchen Renovation 2015 has begun.

There have been bumps along the way, most of them at 3am or with 3 children standing in the work-space screaming about 3 different things (they say bad things come in 3s right? I'm buying that), but for the most part it's gone well....and we've done it ALL! BY! OURSELVES!

So stay tuned for all the crazy shenanigans, and for the BIG REVEAL, coming soon to a blog near you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Together Again

Well, I took a full week off from my relationship with Facebook. It went well. I felt less stressed and much less irritated on any given day.

However, I didn't realize how deeply Facebook has rooted itself in my life (YES, I'm placing ALL THE BLAME on Facebook!).

Chloe wanted to go to the 4-H open house, but didn't have the flyer. I needed a date and time. Guess where you can find that information? Facebook.

I usually eat in town on Fridays if I'm at the shop. I wanted to see what specials were offered and make a timely decision about where to get my lunch. Yep. Facebook.

I needed to contact a friend about something business-related. Oddly I don't have her e-mail address or phone number, because who needs those when you have Facebook?!?!

Also, my husband no longer had a 'wife' on Facebook. All the pictures we shared, he no longer had access to because I post them and tag him. I could no longer access our Girl Scout page. I wasn't getting school updates. When my bff text me asking if I saw her post about missing me, or the pictures of her new house, I had to say no, I hadn't. While my life was better in some areas, it was harder in others.

After weighing the options, I decided to take Facebook back.

Don't worry, though. We had a LONG talk. I think the deactivation showed FB that I'm serious and things HAVE to change ;)  So I've un-followed some of the most negative posters. I've adjusted privacy and news feed settings. And more importantly, I've taken a week to learn that I don't NEED to know EVERYTHING about EVERYONE at EVERY minute.

I hope that we can repair our relationship and not fall back into our bad habits. Only time will tell.

Friday, August 28, 2015

It's Not You, It's Me....Really....

Facebook is a tough bitch to break up with, and that's a fact.

I guess I better back up and tell you what brought me here. I guess it all started a few weeks ago. There had been a lot going on locally: accidents, untimely deaths, arrests, and, on this particular day, a baby died tragically in a hot car right here in our area.

Stories like that truly break my heart, and when it happens locally to acquaintances, to a child whose face I've seen many times in the area, it's crushing. As a mother, it's just too much for me to handle emotionally. Unfortunately, so many people are so OBSESSED with being the first person to "break" the news on Facebook, that my feed was clogged with the gory details and opinions of so many people. I was bombarded all day with the news, and had a knot in my stomach so big it hurt.

I decided I'd had enough, so I began the process of deactivating my account.

Oh Facebook, such a crazy, deranged lover you are.

If you think you're going to break up with Facebook all clean and easy, think again!
You see, first you have to choose to deactivate and manage to find the right security menu to allow you to do so.
Enter your password.
Yes, love, I'm sure.
BUT WHY?!?!?!?!  (No, really, Facebook wants an explanation for your deactivation).
I looked through the responses and a few of them actually applied to me.
*This is only temporary* or maybe *I spend too much time on Facebook*
I finally decided on a response, but before letting me deactivate, Facebook made some suggestions to me about how to solve my problem without deactivating!


It seemed like such a commitment to deactivate. FB warned me I'd lose contact with some VERY! IMPORTANT! PEOPLE! and asked how I'd feel if I didn't see their pictures anymore.

Ultimately, I compromised by logging out of the Facebook app on my phone. So if someone *needed* me very badly, they could still reach me. I could still peruse the site by top stories in the evenings, but not be constantly alerted and bombarded with drama.

But that wasn't enough for FACEBOOK. It started to stalk me. Sneaking me an e-mail or an unnecessary alert here or there. Creeping into conversations. Still tagging me. Getting my friends to use it, just so we could spend time together.

Finally, on Wednesday night, after I went to bed still talking about how irritated I was with something someone else had posted, and after thinking all day about something ELSE I had seen that BUGGED me so much, I decided to deactivate.

I didn't read any of the mumbo jumbo, just clicked through and turned it off.

If there's one thing I DESPISE, it's the "TAKING A BREAK FROM FB!" attention-getting status several hours before ACTUALLY taking said break, just to get one last attention high. So I didn't say anything.

It's been the most liberating two days. I had withdrawal at first. Looking blankly at my phone, wondering what to do, how to fill those empty seconds of a commercial break or how to occupy a 5 minute ride in the truck with hubs. What I have realized more than anything, is that instead of complaining about the drama other people were "forcing" me to read, I had the power all along to CHOOSE NOT TO SEE IT.

It's been a great 7 years together, but it's time for a change. Maybe FB and I just need a break. Maybe if we see what it's like without each other, we can appreciate each other with PROPER boundaries. Or maybe it's forever.

For now, I focus my social energy into my blog, and a few Instagram posts here and there. A snap chat to my hubby once in a while helps break up the day, and a few minutes watching the Today show instead of reading FB actually helps me be MORE informed in LESS time each morning.

There is NOTHING wrong with Facebook, the only problem was my addiction to it. So I mean it with all my heart when I say, I'm sorry Facebook. It's not you, it's me. I hope one day we can be friends, but right now I just need some space.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You're Gonna Miss This

The weekly trip to Wal-Mart is always interesting with a one and two year old. My kids aren't really fit-throwers (most of the time) at the store, so I don't really dread it, I just never know what to expect. The two year old is beginning to assert her independence. She wants to help with everything. Do everything "all by mah-self" even when she doens't have the coordination to do so.

Yesterday was a particular day in which she felt independent.

"I'm gonna walk myself," she proclaimed, as she stomped toward the automatic doors in her sparkly boots. She'd been in a good mood, and seemed to be moving quickly. My list was short. I decided to let her win.

"Ok, you can walk, but you have to stay right beside me, and don't touch anything unless I ask you to, ok?" I laid out the rules.

"O KAY!" She skipped, gallopped, trotted, tip-toed, wandered, did everything BUT walk, but she stayed with me. It wasn't long before she decided SHE would be getting the groceries. She tried a gallon-size jug of fruit punch. "WOW! It's pretty heavy!" she exclaimed, stooping over as she pulled it off the bottom shelf.

I had to thwart a few attempts at her sneaking in some extra items. She's young enough that she doesn't choose things she'd like (such as cookies or candies), but rather things that are light and easy to toss in the cart without me noticing.

We were almost finished shopping when we stopped in front of the Ritz crackers. The shelf was fully stocked, which caught her eye.

"PEANUT BUTTER CWACK-UHS!" she exclaimed. "OH goody, goody!" The Ritz were on my list, and they were on the bottom shelf, so I told her it was ok to pick out one box. Just as she began pulling the VERY bottom box from the stack, another lady started down the aisle.

As if timed, the whole shelf of Ritz fell like a Jenga tower, blocking the entire aisle and stopping the lady in her tracks. She politely waited while I helped stack the crackers back on the shelf. I was glad she was understanding, as I was becoming a little frustrated with holding up the traffic.

We got the boxes put back, and Kailyn took her place next to the cart and began galloping away saying, "Yee haw!" As the lady passed us, she stopped. She was smiling, but had tears welling in her eyes.

"I miss those days SO MUCH," she said sadly, but with a smile.

I watched her go about her business, and I saw myself as her in a few years. I could see me, looking at a tired, frustrated mother of three and seeing the blessing she couldn't see. Seeing the innocence and joy she takes for granted every day. It made me really look at things differently.

They say all the time "You'll miss this one day," but you never fully understand that until it's too late. I'm glad I had a glimpse of the future, so I can enjoy the present a little more :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Not Supermom

I don't like the whole "Super Mom" term. I use it in jest, but really I feel like it places unfair value on mothering. I feel like what I do is what's required of a mom. I don't have super powers. I remember the nurse at our pediatrician's office smiling sweetly at me once and saying, "You really ARE supermom." She was impressed, I guess, that I was toting 3 sick kids, one in a wrap, one holding my hand, and the other toting my diaper bag. I blushed, I know, and thanked her, but really it's just part of having three kids.

Yesterday, though, I received and unexpected comment that went a long way.

I was doing my normal Tuesday routine. I dropped Chloe at gymnastics, then headed to Wal-Mart with the babies to get the weekly shopping done (in under an hour). It's not the easiest task, but it sure beats making another trip, so it's what works for me. Being a baby-wearer, I strap Case on my chest, buckle K in the cart seat, and power through with my list. Usually we make it through without a problem, but I won't lie. There have been tantrums. I have left before finishing my shopping. I have forgotten important items, and I've even been late picking Chloe up.

But mostly it works.

I was almost finished shopping when I remembered K had been asking for "gwapes." I made a sharp turn into the produce section and headed back toward the grapes.

"POTATOES!" I declared, making an abrupt stop and turn. "I almost forgot the potatoes," I told K, who was oblivious as she had her eye on the grapes down the aisle.

"GWAPES!" she announced, pointing her little finger.

We wheeled around the guy stocking bananas and began looking at the grapes.

"Which kind would you like?" I asked her. There were three color choices, and I know she likes green, but I was feeding her autonomy.

"BLACK!" she exclaimed. She's still working on colors ;)

"There are purple, green, or red," I told her, pointing out each color.

"I wanna pickkum owt!" she said, standing up in her seat. I put my arm under her bottom and lifted her from the cart, trying to be patient while she scanned the bags. Don't forget, I have 18 lb Case hanging from my chest, and now 26lb K on my hip. She looked and looked, when finally I said, "You'll have to pick something or I'm going to choose for you."

"BLACK!" she yelled, grabbing the bag of green grapes.

Banana Guy snickered and I turned toward him, not sure what his comment was about to be, and ready to defend my poor color-confused 2 year old.

"And THAT is why I have so much respect for moms. One on your chest, one on your hip, and you're still so patient with her. A guy couldn't do it," he said, smiling.

And that pretty much made my day. Because yes, there are GREAT dads, but most of the time it IS the mom in the store handling all the children, meeting all their needs, getting everything on the list, and all the while remembering that Daddy likes a certain cereal, and sister is out of her favorite snack, and there might not be enough dish soap to get through the week (and I JUST realized I forgot to get dish soap).

And that doesn't make me Supermom, but if it earns me the respect of a single, childless, Banana Guy, that makes me proud.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Baby Isn't an Over-Achiever (He's Just a Baby)

The little stud muffin is 7 months old now. He falls right between his sisters as far as his size at this age. He's taller and thinner than Kailyn, but not quite so tall and chunky as Chloe was. Being the third baby, though, he's lucky to be measured at all.

I always thought that third (or last) child syndrome was born of not caring as much, having less time, or being more tired. However, I think now that I'm actually dealing with it first hand, I can see that it's actually born of experience.

Lately I've seen a LOT of braggy new mom posts on Facebook, and rightfully so. I was a first time mom to a first-born child at one time as well. And while all moms think their kids are advanced, mine really WAS advanced. She could count to ten before she could walk, which she was doing just after her first birthday. Her memory and vocabulary have always been off the charts. I, as all new moms do, attributed it to her fantastic genes (my half, of course) and my stellar parenting. I must be friggin Super Mom, right?

That's been the underlying gist of the posts I see. I've wanted to post my own satirical status about MY little guy, but I feel like it would come across as either bitchy or mean (toward the little guy).

So here it is.

My little guys is 7 months old. He spends the majority of his waking hours strapped to my chest in the single most important baby-item I ever bought, the Ergo carrier. He HAS rolled over a few times, but he rarely does. He can sit up now, but that is a fairly new trick. He isn't crawling yet. He won't eat solids at all, and he's tried everything from rice cereal to table food. He doesn't sleep through the night, he's the only one who's ever used a paci, and he hates his crib.

I'm not complaining. This is mostly all my doing, whether purposely or not. You might see this as a list of things my little guy falls short on, but this is actually MY bragging list.

I wear him around and carry him everywhere because he LOVES the security. He doesn't always have my full attention like the first-born did, but he always knows I'm right there, heart-to-heart with him. He's never in danger of being dropped or bounced in a shopping cart accident, because he was only carried in a car seat to and from the car.

He doesn't spend a lot of time lying on the floor, because frankly that's like putting a little lamb in the lion's den at my house. He does, however, enjoy sitting in his Bumbo, his jumper, or even on the couch where he can watch intently as his sisters inadvertently teach him the ways of childhood.

He's still exclusively nursing, which doesn't bother me one bit, but it's not for lack of trying. He's just not quite ready for solids, whether it's emotionally or physically (likely both) All babies are born with immature systems, including digestive. Why on Earth anyone deems it a "success" to shove processed, pureed carrots down a 3 month-old baby's throat I'll never know. Just because they can swallow it, doesn't mean their body needs it, or that they're digesting it properly.

This, in part, is likely why he doesn't sleep all night. A fully nursing baby digests quickly, therefore becomes hungry more often. The pediatricians recommend stopping feedings after midnight at 6 months. I did this with my first-born. I taught her to self-soothe by withholding milk and rocking through the crying. This guy comes to my bed (if he's not there already) around 2am and happily nurses and snuggles the rest of the night in our bed. I've not broken this baby because I know that "this too shall pass" all too quickly. Before I know it, he will think he'd rather die than sleep next to his weird old mom in her underwear.

You see, by the third baby, I've learned that loving is more important than pushing. I've learned that while it's important to teach your children things, it's just as effective to allow them to learn as they go. Who cares if your kid knows his ABCs when he's 18 months or when he's three? He'll need them for pre-school, so as long as he's prepared for what he needs, the rest of it is for the birds.

I've never known a child yet who graduated high school but couldn't go to college because he wouldn't get out of Mom's bed. I've not known a teenage boy who only wanted milk. While I've known a grown man or two to claim to have s#!t his pants, I don't think I've known one who wasn't properly potty trained. They're babies such a short time, and then we go rushing them to see what new thing we can "teach" them to do before everyone else, when in reality they can learn most of it without our pushing. They're built to learn, and I've found that letting them do so at their own pace makes for a much happier mama.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Party Like It's 1999....

They say two-thousand zero-zero party over, oops out of time. So tonight we're gonna party like it's nine-teen-nine-tee-nine! Nineteen ninety-nine!

It was our graduating year. Not just everyone has a Prince song for their graduating year. At that time we looked at those lyrics as a premonition. It was SO! FAR! AWAY! and when we got there, when we were 'grown' and out of here, we were going to PARRRRRTAY!

Now we're in our 30s. Some of us have teenagers, others have new babies, some have both! We are lawyers and businessmen, teachers, fathers, managers, and more. We're educated and intelligent. We've made mistakes, learned lessons, developed wrinkles and gray hairs (ok some more than others, myself included). Now to party like it's 1999 means to be young again, to party like we're not parents with responsibilities and jobs, but kids with the whole world at our fingertips and our whole lives ahead of us. It's funny how time changes so much.

I got my yearbooks out last night after reading a post about an old upper-classman on Facebook. I started with 6th grade and perused through to our graduation. I laughed to myself at the boys I drew hearts next to, the girls I exed out, and the comments I scribbled next to some of the pictures. For years I did not do this, as I thought the books were sacred and should not be written upon, but how I LOVE looking at it now. To go back and not only remember things, but to see the world again through my own eyes and a mind that's changed so much I'm not sure I remember that girl all that much anymore.

The best best best part of my little trip down Memory Lane was reading all the things written in ink inside the covers of the books. There's one girl who NEVER remembered to sign her name, but she wrote the same thing every year, so I know who it was. There are some inscriptions that are several paragraphs long, full of nick names, codes, and abbreviations (most of which I remember, but some that escape me). If I had a dollar for every time I found "L.Y.L.A.S." in those books I'd have a nice savings. There was a boy who left a cryptic message, that I now realize probably would have taken me on a proper date if only I'd been paying attention. One boy I "liked" off and on for years basically told me he was waiting for me and would always be there for me, but I hadn't read what he wrote between the lines until now.

I was left wondering so many things. Wondering why I didn't foster certain friendships. Knowing I succumbed to social expectations sometimes and didn't befriend someone because it might make me look 'lower on the totem pole' that I was desperately trying to climb. I smiled reading one friend's generic 'have a good year, you're a great friend' and realizing we weren't really even friends. She's someone now who is one of the first to comment on a picture I post or send me a message about something. With all the stereo types now diminished and the walls of high school crumbled, we're all not so different anymore.

I'm glad technology came through for us and we weren't restricted to having our classmates' permanent addresses and parent's phone numbers to contact them. I'm glad that when a classmate crosses my mind for some random reason, I can type her name into Facebook and almost instantly see how her life is going and who she has become. I can smile at children's pictures and notice how much they look like their parent at that age. Thank goodness for Facebook, right!

I looked at the past with new eyes. I read what wisdom and memories these children imparted on me and I wonder what they'd say now. Would they still find me funny and witty? Would they still think I'm boy crazy? Would they STILL use the wrong 'YOUR'? Would they see how much I've changed and realize it was a good thing, or would they see it as bad? Does it even matter? Maybe not.

But it's definitely interesting.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Birth Order: A True Story

I pointed out a little girl to a friend and said, "There's the proof of the birth-order theory right there." She looked at me with a quizzical look.

"That girl is the same age as Chloe," I finished. Her jaw dropped.

I looked over at Chloe, my first born, with admiration. She stood quietly in her short striped dress, a little taller than usual on her strappy silver heels, with new studs in her ears and her hair coiffed into a neat little bun. Her tapered bangs were swept neatly to the side, and her little Origami Owl necklace hung around her neck, full of charms that accented her outfit. A pink sparkle shone on her recently glossed lips. She's only seven, but she could have passed for sixteen had it not been for her size.

The jaw-drop was caused by the other girl, who is 'the baby.'

She had her arms wrung around her daddy's neck as he held her on his hip. She would have stood several inches shorter than Chloe, in her round-toed patent flats with buckles. She wore thick tights under a below-the-knee frilly dress. A stretchy, colorful beaded necklace encircled her neck. Her bangs were thick and cut straight across her brow, and atop her head sat a bow the size of my out-stretched hand. She was fully seven, but could have passed for three had it not been for her size.

Could it be different parenting styles? Different taste in clothing? A difference in what is deemed 'appropriate' for the age-group by each family? Possibly. But from where I stood I saw a first-born and a baby, born in the same year, who told completely different stories just by standing there.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Baby

As we speak, he is snuggled beneath his Ergo carrier, strapped to my chest, fast asleep. He's almost 3 months old, and still I haven't revealed his birth story. His birth announcements still scatter the table, addressed but un-mailed. His baby book is filled out to the point where I left the hospital, and it contains no pictures.

He is THE baby.

You know, the one that occupies most every family. The youngest. The one who gets forgotten, whose firsts don't always get documented. The one who wears hand-me downs, plays with used toys, isn't fussed over like a first baby. The one whose only pictures are part of a group of kids, or the entire family, if he has any pictures at all. The one who has three sleepers and a couple of 'going out' outfits compared to his older siblings who had an outfit and matching socks and accessories for every occasion, and were NEVER seen in their sleep-and-plays. He's the one who will be wild, won't be disciplined as sternly, will get to do things the big kids didn't get to do, and it will all be attributed to his poor, tired mother.

If you know THE baby well, though, you know he comes with another perspective. He's the one doted upon by his mama. He benefits from the years of parenting experience. His upbringing is more relaxed, and being the last, he is babied far longer than the first child who was expected to grow up and reach milestones faster than anyone else's child. Babying her would only hinder her progress.

Blake Shelton puts it pretty well...

"My brothers said that I was rotten to the core
I was the youngest child, so I got by with more
I guess she was tired by the time I came along
She'd laugh until she cried, I could do no wrong.
She would always save me, because I was her baby."

It's our song. I sing it when I rock him. I'll think of it every time he flashes his twinkly smile and gets away with something. I'll cry listening to it when he leaves home. We'll dance to it at his wedding to the woman who will never be good enough for him, but who I'll embrace with open arms because she makes him happy. I'll play it for his kids and tell them stories about his childhood.

He's my baby. My last. My only boy. He holds the keys to my heart.

He has a birth story, but it's not ten pages of details about morning sickness and contractions and hospital nurses. It goes like this:

My daddy wanted a boy, and my mommy didn't want to be an old mom, so they made me when my sister was a baby. The whole time she was pregnant, my mom worried she wouldn't have enough time or patience for me, she worried she wouldn't be attatched to me because I was a boy. Fifteen days before my due date, on my grandmother's birthday, the ONLY day my mama didn't want me to come, I came. When she saw me, she loved me, and she realized she wanted a boy more than anything she had ever wanted in her whole life. Even though she'd been through this three times, she was more in awe of my little miracle than she'd ever been. I'm her baby, and her only boy, and that means those sisters of mine don't stand a chance.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School. Eh.

I have mixed feelings every year about the old "Back to School" gig. Being a student for nearly 20 years, and working in the school system for nearly 6, I feel pre-programmed to HATE back to school. Even though I get to stay home, and even though it's a time a lot of SAHMs look forward to, I have trouble embracing it. While I am excited to have my structure back, I am going to miss my big girl. She is good company (most of the time), a great companion for kid movies, eating out, and shopping, and she is a LOT of help. She's my second set of eyes on baby girl. She's the reason I can shower EVERY day. On the other hand, she's a "MOOOOOOM!" when I'm on the toilet, she's the one taking Baby Girl's toys just to see her mad face, and she's the one leaving cookie crumbs, dirty dishes, and Barbie dolls in a haphazard trail that makes me feel like a dog chasing a coon. In addition to the effects on my home, there are the effects on my wallet. I DREAD the August bank statement, knowing it's like a second Christmas. I LOATHE that stupid school supply list, the worst scavenger hunt known to man. However, I LOVE our yearly shopping trip to Springfield, watching her define her style, helping her find matching shoes, and meandering from store-to-store looking for a good deal. Finally, there are the effects on my girl. It means no more staying up enjoying a late night pretend session with Barbie. It means no more 10 am snack, and no more Good Luck Charlie marathons on rainy days. It means no more runs to the lake, mid-day ice cream cones, or mid-week sleepovers with Nana. It's schedules and school lunches, early mornings and baths at 7, reading, homework, and exhaustion. It's also new activities, kids her age, a structured day, and back to a familiar routine. It's back to seeing friends every day, which can be a good thing, but for my big girl, it's often a struggle. She wants so badly to fit in and befriend almost everyone, but tries so hard and is often rejected. A lot of girls in her class are catty and mean already. They already judge each other based on what they wear, and who their parents are friends with. They sniff out weaknesses like a shark after blood. So it's back to not knowing if it's going to be a good or bad day for her. It's not knowing if she'll disembark the bus with a smile or in tears. It's not knowing if she'll be wanting to pick a fight to vent her frustrations, or if she'll want to sit on my lap, or if she'll just want to be alone. It's back to not being in control. It's giving her heart and emotions to someone else to handle. To mean girls, to ornery boys, to disinterested teachers. She's going from being adored by her baby sis and appreciated by her mom, to a place where she has to work to be liked, and even then fails. They say being a kid these days isn't easy, and that's for sure the truth. But no one ever warned me about the heart-break that comes with being the parent of a kid these days.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What the H-E-double L were we thinking?!

It's getting close to nap time. I know this because the little tantrums-for-no-reason are getting closer together and longer. It's almost like contractions before birth. At first it's just a little fuss here and there, then they become closer, and before I know it she's lying on the floor kicking her feet and crying because she tripped over her big toe and fell on her bottom. She's exhausted.

She fights sleep no matter how tired she is. She is so afraid she'll miss something. I have to send Chloe out of the room, fix her a cup of milk, find her little blankie and baby doll, and start rocking.

She resists the rocking at first because she knows what it means. She always resists it, but it's the only thing that really helps her calm down.

I rock furiously as she cries and pushes and kicks, trying to wiggle away from the wretched nap she so desperately needs.

I sing to her.

Rock a bye baby. She shakes her head no.
Twinkle twinkle little star. She screams louder.
Halleluja? I could use a little higher power right now.
Colder Weather. Zac Brown Band. Works every time. You'd think I'd try it first, but somehow it just feels wrong to start with anything but Rock a bye baby.

Exhausted and mentally drained from the fight, I try not to grit my teeth while I sing, and relax so she will settle. I think of the little bun in my oven sometimes and wonder what the hell we were thinking. Wonder if I'll be nursing a newborn while performing this whole routine in six months, or if she will grow out of it.

While I'm singing and thinking and wondering if I'm headed for the Looney Bin in the next two years, she starts to drift.

I notice my rocking has slowed, almost as if my body is in tune with her. She grabs tight onto her dolly, nuzzles her face into her blankie (why do kids like to sniff blankets anyway?), then, with her eyes closed, she lets out a muffled giggle. Her face is relaxed, and she's almost smiling as she falls away.

Her body is warm against me, and with her free hand she rubs my arm until she's completely gone.

I put my feet up, pull a blanket over us, and watch tv quietly, so not to disturb her.

And suddenly I know EXACTLY what the hell we were thinking. I wouldn't trade this for the world.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chapter 2: It's My Baby and I'll Wean When I Want To...

"...wean when I want to, WEAN when I want to! You will wean to when you want tooooooo!"

It's no secret I'm a nursing mom. I lie somewhere between a full bottle-feeder and a whip-it-out hippy mom. With this baby, though, I have found myself closer to the hippy end of the spectrum and liking it :)

When Chloe was a babe I was home with her for eleven weeks, then I returned to teaching. She went to daycare 8-4 M-F, so she was introduced to the bottle in the beginning, and though I didn't give her formula at all, she was primarily bottle fed. I nursed her at night and on weekends, but that was it. She was fully accustomed to the bottle, as she had to be, which meant she wasn't very attached to me. She also sucked her thumb, which led her to be an excellent self-soother (though brought with it a terrible addiction we still fight). At ten months she was pretty-well done nursing, and I was fine with that.

When Miss K came along, I wanted to be sure we weren't thumb-sucking again, and the Mister was adamant against the paci. So I fully nursed, and that was it. She never really took to the bottle, likely because I didn't push it. This had me tethered to her night and day, and while it was sometimes emotionally draining, it was also really great for both of us.

As she came on the six-month mark, however, the comments began pouring in. What's the worst is that they come from people I know and love who *should* be supporting my decisions, not questioning them.

When are you going to wean her?
Are you STILL nursing?
Isn't she getting too big for that?
Do you still feed her "like that?"

My easy answer? At what age would you wean from a bottle? Usually that ended the conversation. I don't know why it is anyone's business how long I nurse my infant. It would be different if she were five and I was going to the school at lunch time to nurse her. One day I told someone, when asked when I planned to wean, "Sometime between one year and when she goes to school."

I had every intention of allowing Kailyn to wean herself. She was very attached to me, and I really didn't have the heart to take away her one and only comfort item. However, as she got closer to a year, she became very demanding, making it impossible to go anywhere that I didn't mind feeding her in public. She began throwing tantrums if she couldn't nurse when *she* wanted to. Just before her birthday I learned I was pregnant again, and decided to go ahead and wean her at 13 months. It was a traumatic two-week effort for both of us, but now that she is happily drinking chocolate milk from a cup as a replacement, and using a blankie for comfort at night, there is nothing left to break her from, which feels like a huge accomplishment.

I had no interest in nursing a toddler and a new baby, and I knew weaning would be even more difficult if I waited too close to the baby's birth. Those two things alone influenced my decision. If I had not become pregnant, I very likely would have nursed her to 18-24 months or until she stopped on her own, whichever came first.

I've come to learn when you have children, you're kind of damned if you do, damned if you don't. Someone always has an issue with something you do, but in the end it's best to make your parenting decisions based on what you believe is best for your child, yourself, and your family. Now if I can calmly and rationally remember that as I go through pregnancy and infancy one more time....