Butterflies, Snakes, and A Few Other Things

It’s hot down South.   Nope.   It’s not just hot, it’s “I just sweated off my deodorant, walking ten feet to my car” hot.   It’s so hot that I can’t even bring myself to take my kiddos to our neighborhood pool because there is no shade.   They may be able to get in the pool and cool off, but I’m exhausting myself keeping sunscreen on them, making sure their little feet don’t get blistered on the hot concrete (they REFUSE their water shoes), and trying to keep myself from burning to a crisp.

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Fortunately, for the past two weeks, we’ve been in Rochester, NY where for the most part days there have felt like college football weather down here.   The mornings were crisp, light, and refreshing, with the occasional breeze wisping over your skin.   The nights were cool enough to sleep with a fan and window open, reminding me of the cooler summers of my youth when we would spend the night with my grandma who had NO air conditioning.   So, my boys and I have been spoiled for two weeks.   They’ve been outside a lot, minimal television and iPad usage, and exploring what’s around.  Now that we’re back home, well, it’s just too hot to be outside.

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Today, I thought we could remedy that by going to the Roper Mountain Science Center for the last day of their Butterfly Adventure.  I knew a big portion of the exhibit was inside, so we would be cool (when not in the simulated rainforest perfect for the living conditions of the butterflies), and the opportunities to explore and learn would be immeasurable.

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I’d head a lot about the exhibit before we left for NY.   Between packing and Vacation Bible School at our church, I didn’t have the opportunity to take the boys.   I decided that once we got back in town, I would take them before it ended.

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We go to the Roper Mountain Science Center at Christmas for the lights and easily the best Santa around, but outside of that I haven’t been to the center since my college days when I was in their planetarium for an astronomy class.   I’ve considered going on numerous occasions, but truthfully Henry is just exhausting and he seems to make things unenjoyable for Davey (and well me at times, too).

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I’m an early riser, so we left as soon as we were ready and made it just after the gates opened at 9 am.   The lines were not that long, perhaps a 15 minute wait, and the boys were able to pass their time cooling off in the water misters and drawing their own butterflies on the sidewalk with the chalk provided.   Davey continually asked questions since he had developed a fascination with butterflies thanks to this past school year where they watched a caterpillar become a butterfly.  Henry?   He didn’t care.  He was just along for the ride and eager to terrorize.

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I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we experienced wasn’t it.   We didn’t get to just see butterflies, but we also got to touch them, and even entice them over to us with our nectar wands, easily the greatest thing for Davey.   The butterfly adventure, was short, sweet, and to the point, but since you’re paying good money to get in, the center encourages you to check out the rest of what’s available which included a marine lab, an ecology lab, and a wildlife lab, which just happened to have  a corn snake ready to be petted.   Davey took one look at the snake and said, “no way”, while Henry wanted to hug, and squeeze it and take it home.   Henry couldn’t possibly get this from my side, this must come from his father’s side of the family (wink wink), snakes are not my thing.

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We spent the remainder of our morning “milking” a cow, which I found to be humorous for today’s kids who are completely clueless with the appropriate way to milk a cow.  Thank God for this country girl to show ’em a thing or two.   We toured backwoods homes, school houses that mirrored the one from Little House on the Prairie, and a farm.   We petted sheep, goats, chickens, and cows.   The boys washed their clothing the way my grandmother used to…an old washing board.   They thought they were to take the rags and clean the board, not that the board was to clean the rags.   Kids these days.

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While I’m sure we could have seen and experienced more, this oppressive heat just seems to be taking it out of us.  It’s difficult during the dog days of summer to find things to keep the kiddos busy, but today was definitely an adventure for the books.

I Did NOT Put This on My List

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of exhaustion, for those elves who’ve stayed up well past their near geriatric bedtimes to put together all of Santa’s toys.   It’s a morning of anticipation for little ones as they try to contain themselves inside their rooms until the appropriate hour to awaken mom and dad, aka the elves.   For our house, appropriate time is when the digital clock in the bedroom reads 7:00.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of overwhelming excitement as children tear into their gifts, eager to see if the Santa at the mall, or the Elf on the Shelf, really does communicate with the “real” bearded fat man.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of reflection on our lives, who we are, what we’ve been, and Who was born on this day to save us all.

Christmas morning for me?   Well, that’s a whole different story, at least for this year.   This Christmas, I spent it wrapped up under four blankets, while everyone else walked around in shorts and flip flops with the A/C blaring.  It was 70 degrees and humid.   And as the sweat dripped down my forehead, over my arms and down my chest, I shivered and ached away.   For Christmas this year, the old fat man brought me a 102 degree fever and a case of strep throat.

My boys opened their gifts.   Did I get to play with them?  No.   My family opened their gifts.  I opened my gifts, although my fever had me a bit on the dopey side so I didn’t realize how wonderful my gifts were until Sunday.   My husband made a fabulous French toast and sausage breakfast.   It smelled good at least.   My family (parents, aunt, cousins) came to enjoy Christmas dinner at my house.   Me?  I was quarantined upstairs.   There was no fine China this year, no drinking from my grandmother’s crystal, no eating in the dining room, while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole croon.   Instead they crowded around the kitchen table, but still enjoyed themselves all the same.

Today as I began taking down my Christmas decorations, an overwhelming sadness washed over me.   I missed Christmas.   In my 40 years on this earth, I’ve never missed Christmas.   It saddened me, almost as much as it saddened me when we realized we would no longer have Christmases with my brother nearly 10 years ago.

The days flew by, the weeks were inundated with parties, gatherings, socializations, but I still felt empty and I was hoping for that Christmas magic on Christmas morning.   I’m saddened over not enjoying a dinner with my family, it’s not every day when we’re able to get together like this.   I’m saddened over no family pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  We’re not guaranteed another day.   Which one of us may not be here next year?

My boys were clueless to mommy’s absence, thanks to Santa and my family.   I’m grateful for that.   Truly, I am.   I’m grateful for a family who gets along together so well that there was harmony between them and my husband in the kitchen.   They were apparently like a well-oiled machine.   “We just seemed to fit together,” my husband said.  “Least amount of stress I’ve ever had in the kitchen.”

I suppose I should look at this bout of strep throat in a different light.   At least it happened when my husband was home and didn’t have to work the next day.  He was up every 3 hours trying to get my fever to break.   At least I was able to actually get some rest while being sick, an anomaly in itself.   In the end; however, I keep going back to one thought over this horrible Christmas…what did I do so wrong this past year for Santa to feel like I deserved strep throat as a present?   How about just keeping me off your list altogether, Santa, if this is how it’s to be.

I hope you all had a wonderful, family-filled, waistline bulging, ugly sweater wearing, Christmas Story watching, action packed, and most of all BLESSED Christmas.

I’m Sorry, I Love You, Thank You

Those were the three words I said to my parents Wednesday night when they answered the phone.  I’d just spent the better part of my evening experiencing one of the most overwhelming, intimidating, mentally and physically exhausting excursions since giving birth to my two boys.   What did I do?  I went to Toys R Us to buy their presents from Santa.   Yep, my husband and I accomplished it in one fell swoop and if we hadn’t been beaten up so badly, we’d likely have done a jig, followed by a high five.

As with most things I encounter on a day-to-day basis, I find that I was completely oblivious to level of work my parents put into me and my brother.   As a child, I thought they were so mean, self centered, and slave drivers.  Yes, I did think the last thing especially when I had to mow the lawn on the weekends.   With each new day of me raising our boys, I develop a different level of respect for my parents, for their hard work, their resilience, their strength (both mentally and physically), their heart, and their intelligence.   It doesn’t seem to get easier as the boys are growing, just more complicated.

Wednesday, my husband and I walked into the doors of our local Toys R Us.  I stopped for a moment and looked around.  Skylander toys seemed to be yelling down at me from banners.   Queen Elsa and Princess Anna smiled devilishly at me, their backs against each other.  I could hear them laughing at me while saying under their breath, “oh, here’s a new one.   Let’s see what we can put them through.”

There were Paw Patrol toys, FAO Schwartz, Disney, Thomas the Train, Legos, Avengers, Star Wars, Barbies, bikes, balls, pretend clothing, books and games.   There were so many levels and dimensions of each toy and each brand that I slowly felt my anxiety start wrapping around my heart and lungs, constricting my airways and veins.   This experience was going to be the death of me.  I knew it.  I knew it, even though my husband and I had a plan and a list.  I knew it as I was entering the realm of medieval torture.

My husband grabbed a cart and we immediately went to the Paw Patrol toys and Transformers.   Henry loves Paw Patrol.   You name it and he wants it.   Davey is all about his Transformers and Avengers.   He’s a super hero kind of kid (both literally and figuratively).  And of course, we’re smacked with a double whammy, as Henry’s birthday is 12 days before Christmas.  Yes, I know, we planned poorly.

We looked at our watches, determining that we had exactly 45 minutes to accomplish our task and set out to get it done.   This proved to be a bit too ambitious on our part.   45 minutes is ample time to discuss the absolute atrocity of pricing a chintzy plastic toy $56.   45 minutes is not ample time to get presents for our boys.   It was ludicrous on our part.

After completing our purchases, which nearly required two carts, we set out to collect the boys from church and quickly whisk them away to bed.   While my husband separated out our purchases, making sure that we had both boys taken care of, I placed the phone call to my parents, and what my dad told me made me love them both even more.  Not so much for the gift, but for the fact that they were willing to sacrifice for both me and my brother.   What he told me made me proud, and made me want to be as great as the two of them, although I can only hope to be half as good.

In the early 80s, there was a huge toy phenomenon known as Cabbage Patch Kids.   They were everywhere and yet nowhere.   Every child in the country wanted one, but they flew off the shelves faster than a North American X15 Thunderbird.  I was one of those children desperate for a Cabbage Patch Kid.   On the Thursday before Christmas in 1982, my dad cashed his paycheck and then set out to find a doll.   For those of you unaware, Christmas Day was on Saturday of that year, so he admitted he was a bit delusional, but also desperate as he and my mom had spent the better part of 3 months attempting to get one for Christmas.  He told me that he didn’t care what color, shape, size, or gender my Cabbage Patch Kid was, he just knew that he HAD to get one.  It’s the only thing I’d asked for and he couldn’t bear to face his child without one.   He made his way to Service Merchandise and there were two on the shelf.  He grabbed one as another person was grabbing the other.

As he told me this story, especially the part of not being able to face his child without her gift, I started to tear up.   I get it.  I really do.   Every parent wants their child to be happy.   No parent wants to see their child sad.   Until I had children of my own; however, I had no clue how stressful and yet heartbreaking shopping for them can be.

So as he finished his story and I thought back to my experience only hours before, I could only say these words, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  Thank you.”  I’m sure I’ll be repeating these words to my parents for years to come, especially during this time of year.

On The First Day in Rochester

Aunt Dee Dee did for me…a fun-filled crafting spree.

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Our night was short and sleepless.   After the previous evening’s flight, we were all exhausted and Henry had given cry a couple of times during the night having woken in a strange place and in a strange bed, but we all made it, safe and sound, to Grammy’s house, and now we were heading out for an exciting morning of Pancakes and Pajamas at Aunt Dee Dee’s house.

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Rochester, during the winter, is known for its gray days, downtrodden weather, and temperatures much colder than this Southern ga’ls blood is accustomed to.   Today, Rochester did not disappoint…she held true to all of her “winterly” traits.

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So, we dressed the boys in their winter pajamas, put on their insulated snow boots, jackets and hats then trekked off.   When we arrived at Aunt Dee Dee’s, the aromas from the kitchen beckoned us in like the teasing finger of a wicked witch.     She had eggs on the stove, sausage and ham placed on plates, and was finishing off with silver dollar pancakes.   Homemade hot chocolate enticed us at the bar, and fresh fruit, which should be unheard of in these parts at this time of the year.   Did she pay high dollar to specially ship them in?

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The boys were excited and indulged in almost a dozen pancakes between the two of them, two slices of ham and a half dozen sausage links.   I suppose travel can famish the souls of toddlers.   And what a treat, to have their own special Santa “milk” jugs complete with straws, with which to put their hot cocoa in.   My boys are spoiled, but never as much as when they see Aunt Dee Dee.

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After our wonderfully fulfilling breakfast, we jumped onto the craft train that Aunt Dee Dee had scheduled.   The boys painted ornaments and decorated cookies.   And we even followed this up with a special surprise guest…SANTA!   That’s right, Ole Saint Nick decided to stop by Irondeqouit, NY to see the two little Doser boys.   Davey jumped ecstatically, eager to see Santa and fill his ear with all the goodies he desires. Henry? Well, let’s just say Santa is a little on the scary side for him.   We all, including Grammy, had to thaw the ice of fear that seemed to paralyze Henry, and after a few minutes he shuffled over to Santa, if only to give him a high five before scurrying off behind the safety of Grammy’s legs.

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I was told we’d have a special guest and I suppose I should have known it would be Santa, but my in-laws are great at planning surprises.   Santa was definitely the whipped cream on top of the Pajamas and Pancake breakfast. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay long, so the boys stood at the door and waved goodbye to Santa before we completed our day of decorating Aunt Dee Dee’s tree.

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Our trips are always exhausting, especially the travel, but there’s always one guarantee when visiting Rochester…my boys are never disappointed, and today was no exception.

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Welcome Back, Jasper

My father in law has a “thing”, I suppose you can say, about nicknames for his grandsons.   When Davey was born, he nicknamed him Jasper.   When Henry was born he nicknamed him Higgins.   Now, I know where Higgins comes from…My Fair Lady, Professor Henry Higgins.   Jasper?  Not quite so sure.

So, when Davey became old enough to start speaking, he referred to himself as Jasper when around his Guh Guh (my father-in-law).  It’s endearing for Davey and truthfully I enjoy it.   When my sister-in-law purchased an Elf on the Shelf for Davey years ago, we needed a name for the Elf and Davey immediately jumped on the name Jasper.

Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.
Jasper resting atop the miniature Elf tree.

With the onset of the holiday season and my decorating, Jasper was pulled out of storage and found his way onto the top of our Christmas tree.  Last night, when the boys got back home from church, I pointed Jasper out and explained his importance.  I suppose since Davey is older, he grasps the concept and I now find myself falling prey to the whole “Elf on the Shelf” ideas for this Christmas season.

When putting the boys to bed last night, I read the story about the Elf on the Shelf, substituting in Jasper’s name where relevant.  Davey became extremely excited.  He wanted to know if Jasper would really magically fly away and come back in the morning.   I told him, “of course,” and that Jasper’s sole responsibility is to tell Santa all about how well he’s behaved.

This morning when Davey awoke, he darted off to the bathroom and while on his way excitedly asked if Jasper was in a different place.   My first thought was, “oh crap!  I was supposed to move Jasper!   Crap!  Crap! Crap!”   I told Davey that Jasper was in a new place and that he could find him AFTER he brushed his teeth and put on his clothes, thereby buying me some time to unimaginatively move Jasper.

Where did Jasper end up?  On the elf tree in the kitchen.  I know, very lackluster on my part, but I can already tell I will fail miserably at this.   When the boys came downstairs, Davey immediately found Jasper, and heeding the words from the story, kept his hands behind his back, lest he be tempted to touch Jasper and force him to lose his magical abilities.   As I made breakfast, both boys sat in the floor looking at Jasper on the elf tree.  I asked what they were doing and Davey exclaimed, “seeing if we can watch some of his magic.”

Trying to spy some of Jasper's magic.
Trying to spy some of Jasper’s magic.

After school today, Davey asked me if Jasper saw how nice he was to his classmates and if Jasper would tell Santa.  Once again, I replied, “of course,” but secretly I’m already not liking Jasper.   We’re roughly six weeks away from Christmas.  That’s 42 days in which I will be required to remember to move Jasper each night when the boys go to bed.   That’s 42 days that I’ll have to despise all of you creative moms with your cute Elf on the Shelf pictures and your ability to actually remember to do this.   That’s 42 days of me constantly reassuring Davey that Jasper will not do him wrong.   That’s 42 days of pure hell as I’m frantically trying to remember and come up with great places for Jasper.

I’m only one day into our Elf on the Shelf.  One day, and I’m already despising the little flying pixie.   Stay tuned to see if I can manage to keep up the fiasco.

Just Another Day of Kiddie Conversations.

I am always amazed at a child’s imagination.   There are times when I’d love to be able to shrink myself and travel through the neurons and synapses of my boys’ brains.  I can imagine the sparks and flights of information travelling through the synapses to the various different compartments.   I often wonder if my brain ever held their levels of ingenuity, and if it did, has the daily drudge of grown up life completely snuffed out the existence of any of those sparks.

Henry is becoming a lot more vocal and his vocabulary continues to expand.   I’m still bombarded with the continuous dribble drabble of toddler speak, but for the most part he know what he wants to say and usually says it.

Davey is well past the standard vernacular of toddler speech.  I am amazed at how well he speaks and the inflection and tone with which he says things.   He is very good at enunciating his words.   Of course, having a mom with at least two degrees, one in English and another in Speech and Communication Studies and Political Science, only serves to either help him or frustrate him as I constantly correct his grammar and tell him how best to diagram a sentence and conjugate a verb.

***side note*** I don’t think my Political Science degree with have any influence on his learning.  And my Master’s in Business Administration may serve us when the boys become older.  Who knows?

Today; however, isn’t so much about how either boy is communicating, but more so about what they have to say.  I find myself chuckling at times, shaking my head at the absurdity of what I’ve just heard and the all out amazement with the things they develop.

Davey enjoys sitting in his room, perched upon his bed with books abounding fruitfully as if they seem to magically spring up from the never reaches of his mattress.   He, of course, “reads” each one and then turns to his pirate ship and reenacts what he’s just “read”.

As I sit here writing this, today’s conversation seems to have flashed forward a few months to Christmas.   Davey grabs my calculator and informs me it’s his mini computer with which he can text.   This is our conversation:

“Mommy, I need to text Santa on my computer.”

“Santa?  Why are you texting Santa?”

“I need to see if he was ok in daddy’s truck.”

“Why was he in daddy’s truck?”

He becomes exasperated and rolls his eyes at me as if he can’t seem to understand why I would ask such an asinine question before responding with this, “Because that’s how he gets to work, Mommy.  Daddy takes him in his truck.”   And then he walks off upstairs shaking his head at my apparent stupidity on the subject of how Santa gets to work.

Earlier, when I woke him up, he told his three good monsters who are strategically placed within his room every night before he goes to bed, that they were off work and could go home to their monster families. Interestingly, these monsters are the same every night, but they have different names, names I can’t speak, not because I would be banished for saying their names, but because I don’t speak “Davey” and can’t say the names.   These three good monsters are in his room every night to protect him from the bad monsters and they even made it on the plane to NY a few weeks ago!

I’m impressed with his creativity, his attention to detail and I’m actually a bit jealous of it.   As many of you know, I’ve begun writing some books.   I have a few short stories under my belt, but the illustrious novel I want to write seems to elude me.  I hit a constant creativity obstacle.  My child, on the other hand, seems to exude my much needed spark.   Once again, what I wouldn’t give to travel into his brain and see how it works.

We still have quite a few hours left in the day, so I’m sure our conversations will continue to grow and continue to astound and even stupefy me.   Maybe he sucked out all of my creative writing skills when he was still within my womb.  I don’t know if I really want to believe that, because it could mean my days of writing are over.

So This is Christmas

I awoke this morning to the news of so many children losing their lives at the hands of armed gunman. It’s not an unusual story to hear about on the news. Two years ago, a deranged young man took the life of his mother along with numerous elementary aged children in Newtown, CT before eventually ending his own life. Hearing these stories at a time when we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of the greatest child to be born, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is extremely heart breaking.

We are exactly nine days away from celebrating the birthday of Jesus, a child born unto this world who would ultimately die for our sins. This is a time of love, happiness, and joy, but yet it’s hard to maintain that level of enthusiasm when we’re inundated with so much evil and hatred.

As I continued to listen to the news reports throughout the morning of the children who died at the hands of Taliban terrorists, I evolved from a state of anger to a state of sadness. As a mother, my perspective on life and society is much different than what it once was. I find that I put myself into the shoes of other parents, that I find a way to empathize with them, and I pray. I pray that the Lord guides these parents. I pray that He helps them to heal and forgive. I pray that they never feel His absence.

And then, when I can no longer stay in the shoes of other parents, I look at my children and think back to my childhood.

Christmas was always a magical time. The days seemed infinite. The minutes ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve as we sat alongside the fireplace and watched television, listened to music, and told stories. I always worried we wouldn’t make it home in time for bed and that Santa would bypass our house. After all, he did have a lot of packages to deliver and he needed to get a head start.

When I was the age of many of these children killed in Pakistan today, the worst thing I’d ever seen happen was the Challenger explosion. It made me cry because it had been such a huge thing to have an average American, a teacher, going up in space. It was mechanical failure, not failure of society or the human heart like the majority of the tragedies are these days.

When I was the age of many of these children, I didn’t worry about my education. I didn’t worry about my safety at school, or that someone would try to deny me of it. I didn’t fear that at any point my city or town would be bombed. I was a child, living a carefree life. I was a child doing exactly what a child should be doing…not fretting about the insensitivities and violence knocking on my door.

When the shooting of Newtown happened, Davey was just over a year old. I cried for the longest time as I watched parents with children who would never open presents on Christmas morning. I sobbed uncontrollably at the thought that these parents would wake up the next morning and not see the smiles of their children, their laughs, and inquisitive natures. I thanked the Lord right then for my blessings and I hugged Davey harder.

This morning, I found myself doing the same thing once again with both Davey and Henry. What a gift these boys are to me. How wonderfully blessed I am to have them in my life. I can’t imagine waking up one day to the realization that their little lives were snuffed out at the hands of selfish, inhumane monsters. I can’t imagine how or why anyone would want to hurt children, the most innocent and pure of society. A child shouldn’t have to carry the burdens of this world. Jesus Christ did that for us. He suffered for our sins and yet we are still a horribly sinful world when things like the murders of innocent children is occurring.

On days like today, I find myself playing John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” in my head. How many of you have actually listened to the words? I’m not a huge fan of John Lennon, but what a wonderful song he wrote. He asks, “So this is Christmas. What have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun”. What have we done, as God’s children, this year? And then the tears start to fall when I hear him sing, “Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.”

As a Christian, I implore all of you to please think beyond yourselves. Think about, “the weak and the strong, the rich and the poor, for the road is so long.”

Don’t take a day for granted, don’t miss a moment. Hug your children, love them, and set an example for them. Think about those children who won’t get a Christmas this year, or for those who won’t breathe life again. Think about your childhood, be it good or bad, and want more for those who’ve come after you. Let the true spirit of the season overwhelm you and fill your heart with more love than you ever thought imaginable.

And That’s A Wrap

I’m always torn when the Christmas holiday comes to an end. There’s a side of me who is anxious to have my house back in some semblance of order, but then there’s the side who’s regretful as to how quickly the time passed and what I didn’t get to do. This year, thanks in no small part to the birth of Henry, a lot of the plans were left to the wayside.

We did; however, have the opportunity to make cookies with Davey. I did at least get two Christmas trees up (leaving the other 5 packed away in the attic for another year of hibernation). We were able to celebrate Christmas with my family, but as for my husband’s family in Western NY, we were forced to celebrate with them via Skype and Face Time.

Decorating Cookies
Decorating Cookies

I’d had grandiose plans of getting cookies and milk out for Santa and reading Twas the Night Before Christmas and The Christmas Story (directly from the Bible in Luke Chapter 2). I thought this year would be a great year to start that tradition with Davey. He loves to read and it just seemed like the appropriate thing to do. Alas, that was not to happen because Christmas Eve already seemed much too packed for him, not to mention the fact that he didn’t take a nap so he was suffering from a quadruple dose of the Terrible Twos.

Christmas has started taking on a new meaning for me, the older I’ve become and especially since I’ve become a mother. Gone are the days when I was anxious to open presents. Instead, they’ve been replaced with the joy of seeing my son open his presents. I loved seeing his expression, his genuine happiness and sincere hugs and “thank yous” to those who bought him gifts. I’ve enjoyed watching old classics that I grew up on like “Frosty the Snowman” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, with my son. He comprehends so much and nothing brought a tear to my eye more than the fact that he watched Charlie Brown so much, he was then able to learn the words to “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”

Unwrapping Presents
Unwrapping Presents

Fortunately, we have a wonderful church family who have been able to step in while I was on bed rest before Henry was born. Davey learned the true meaning of Christmas through them and even brought his Bible to me during the Christmas season and asked for me to read the story of Jesus’ birth. So, I did get the opportunity to read it to him, just not in the Norman Rockwell romantic way of sitting by the fire with our warm socks on, a cup of milk, cookies placed strategically on the table beside the fireplace, and Christmas music playing in the background.

As with everything in life, I have these grand visions and when I don’t seem to accomplish them I feel like I’ve had a huge let down, like my balloon has been deflated prematurely. I felt this way as I undecorated one of our Christmas trees yesterday. I took a moment to look at the new ornaments we’d added this year…one for Henry and his first Christmas, another for Davey (these two courtesy of my mom and dad), and three new “handmade” ornaments from Davey. I smiled as I remembered how excited he was to bring them home from church and school and how he’d chosen exactly where they needed to be hung.

Another Christmas has come and gone. We’ve added a new member to our family and celebrated our many blessings with family and friends. I’ve already started planning for next year, Henry’s first to actual participate, and I’m feeling with joy and excitement with the new memories we’ll be creating. And to all of you, I hope that your Christmas was as stressed and relaxing, happy and boisterous, and memorable and loving as ours.

First Week is in the Books!

I often spent many a night before Henry was born wondering how we were going to handle two children in the house. I pondered how difficult it would be with a newborn and even worried about my two year old becoming more rebellious than normal. I imagined everything I possibly could, most of which was bad, before we were discharged from the hospital. As the nurse was transporting me down to the car, my newborn son cradled into my arms, an immense fear seemed to take hold of me and I felt as if a heavy boulder was pushing down on my chest. Where was all of my excitement and bliss about my sweet little baby? Where were all the daydreams about a happy, romantic family ala the days of Norman Rockefeller or the Waltons? All feelings I’d had when my son was first born and placed into my arms quickly dissipated and reality set in. Could I do this? Well, let’s just fill you in on week one…

My husband had to work all week. There wasn’t a grace period of sorts like there was with Davey. He’s been promoted since the days when Davey was born and with that promotion comes much larger responsibilities. If he were in his old job, he would have been home, but if he were in his old job, I wouldn’t be a stay-at-home mom, either. So, Tuesday started out the first official day of being home with Henry and with Davey and it was a piece of cake. Davey had school, so my husband went into work late to take him. My mom and dad came to stay with me and help out with Henry. Piece of cake. Flash forward to that evening when my husband came home from work and informed me that he had to be in Pinehurst, NC for a job all day on Wednesday (a 5 hour drive from our house). As a side note, I hope the project manager for this job gets a bag of poop from Santa. Because of this job, the rest of the week became a catastrophe.

Wednesday morning, my husband took me and Henry to Henry’s first doctor’s appointment and my dad stayed with Davey. Thanks to the C-section and the pain medication, I was unable to drive us. At least the one side perk to this day was that Henry had gained 4 ounces in 2 days! He IS my little porker. After depositing us back at home with my dad, my husband drove back to work, got his rental car and took off east bound and down for NC. He was not to return until 8 o’clock that evening. Thankfully, my mother had arrived in the afternoon and we had a wonderful dinner. Now here’s where the week gets better (insert sarcasm) and once again I blame it on the Pinehurst trip. Did I say that I wanted Santa to leave the project manager a bag of poop? I did? Well, let’s make that a BIG bag of poop.

Thursday morning, my husband walked out the door for work only to find that the rental car he was driving had been broken into. Sigh. So, between entertaining my 2 year old and nursing my 6 day old, I had to call the police, file a report, get my husband back here, have forensics go over the car, contact the rest of the board on our HOA (I’m one of the V.P.’s), get a post on our neighborhood Facebook page, and call a locksmith. I hope this thief gets just as big a bag of poop as the project manager in Pinehurst. And oh, by the way, my parents informed me they could not come over first thing on Friday morning to help because their freezer had gone out and they needed to find a way to salvage a few thousand dollars worth of food. Again…sigh. Surely, Friday would be better!

Friday rolls around and to start the day off on the right note, Henry had started sleeping 4 hour increments at night! Woo hoo! Unfortunately, my husband didn’t get to really enjoy the extra sleep seeing as how he had to be on the road at 4:30 for another day of travel that probably would not end until after 8 o’clock again. It was ok, because I was hitting my stride with a toddler and a newborn. So, just when I thought everything was under control, we lost power. I called the power company while dealing with an antsy toddler and a screaming newborn only to have the lady tell me there was no power outage. I’m sorry!?!? Did we forget to pay our powerbill? Come to find out there was a fire at a local substation. We were without power for 3 hours. And while at first I became frantic, I quickly slid into play mode with my 2 year old while my one week old slept. The other plus side to the day was that at least my husband was able to come home early and we could go to a family Christmas party where I was informed that I didn’t look like I’d just had a baby a week before. SCORE! Insert a HUGE happy smile and even a happy dance.

So, long story short, I survived the first week. Davey is adapting very well to having a little brother. When Henry cries, he says, “Don’t cry, Henry, it be ok.” Every morning he greets Henry with a handshake and a “nice to see you, Henry.” Henry seems to enjoy the Mamaroo which means my hands are free to do a lot more. It may not be as glamorous or romantic as what’s portrayed in Hollywood, but it’s the most wonderful thing I’ve ever had. Here’s looking forward to the rest of our lives.