In light of recent news, I have decided to change my blog background (again). I am pregnant! I am trying really hard to be positive and cheerful, as all expectant mothers are expected to feel. But I feel like crap. The only thing that makes the morning sickness a little better is eating. So I spend most of my day eating this and that. It makes me feel better for about 2 seconds, and then I feel like I am going to lose it all. So why did I spend all that time eating if I am just going to throw it all up anyway?
Morning sickness baffles me. My mom and sister never had a day of morning sickness. I spend the first 20 weeks wishing I could crawl in a hole. I am great my last trimester. I am active until I go into labor. And even then, I don't know I am in labor. "Just gas pains," I told my husband the last two births. Famous last words. I commend mothers that do natural births. They are strong women. But I tried it, and it was not pleasant. I am pretty sure everyone in the Labor and Delivery wing of the hospital heard every scream, shout, and wail.
So the baby is due in October. Hopefully, Benjamin won't have to share his birthday with a sibling. I will be finding out what it is. Mostly because if it is not a girl I will be spending the rest of my pregnancy convincing Olivia that life will go on with three brothers. I am still trying to figure out the logistics to everything. I am a planner. Maybe that is why human gestation is 40 weeks. Lots of time to plan.
So Shabby Blogs recently changed their server and discontinued several of their backgrounds - including my cute, happy, bright flowers. In response, I have changed my background to dead trees and old wood because without my happy background I feel dead inside. It is amazing how attached I got to that background. It's not like I blog regularly enough to even see the happy flowers. But until I find something just perfect, enjoy the dead trees.
A couple weeks ago I went upstairs to grab some recipes, leaving Ben and Ethan downstairs in the toy room - or so I thought. I was upstairs for maybe 5 minutes. When I came back downstairs Ethan was sitting at the kitchen table coloring, and Ben was MIA. I kept calling his name, but still no Ben... until I heard the splashing. I raced down the hall to see Ben, with a huge grin on his face, coming out of the bathroom sucking on a toy that was dripping wet. Since he can't reach the sink, I knew there was only one place the waterlogged toy could come from. The toilet. My fears were confirmed when I saw water all over the floor and toilet seat. Ben just giggled. He had discovered the coolest thing ever. I dry heaved a little in my mouth. Fortunately, the water was clear. I think I would have died if the water was anything other than clear.
I took him upstairs, took off his soaking clothes and gave him a bath. As I reached across the counter to grab his towel, he swiped the bar of soap and started sucking on it. That's right, Ben. Wash that mouth out. (Wasn't it Freud that said oral fixations are tied to issues with the mother? What could I have possibly done in Ben's 13 months that could make him drink out of the toilet, suck on soap, eat spiders (live ones), or chew on wood chips? Just thinking about it all makes my stomach churn.)
Since that day, I have often found Ben playing in the toilet - sometimes with a toy, sometimes without. So far luck has been on my side and the water has been clear every time (knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, and every other superstitious way to unjinx myself). I'll just keep feeding him yogurt, and hope that Olivia remembers to close the lid and shut the door. But it is only a matter of time when that won't work anymore. Hopefully by then, he won't have a craving for toilet water - and not the good smelling eau de toilet kind.
How is it that two months go by in the blink of an eye? Fall is over, at least by my calendar, and we settle in for the winter. So here is a brief look at our Fall.
Olivia is on a soccer team. She was a little hesitant at first. But by the end of the season she was "The Most Improved Player."
In October, Ben turned 1, he started walking, and he had his first encounter with sugar - lots of sugar. After eating his birthday cupcake, he looked a little glassy-eyed. But even I look that way after a good dessert. It's part of growing up, or in my case, it's part of dealing with the daily stresses of raising 3 kids.
We made our annual pilgrimage, okay it's only a few miles away, to the pumpkin patch. The kids love the jump house more than anything. But the stinky "farm"animals are a close second. I love all the pumpkins; the different shapes, colors and sizes. They remind me of Fall, the changing leaves, cooler weather, and turkey. Fall used to be my favorite season. Lately I have been FALLing out of love with FALL because now Fall reminds me that Winter is coming, and with it, cold and flu season. Yes, I have issues. So, I think Spring will be my new favorite season.
We had a local photographer take family pictures with all the changing leaves. She does beautiful work. I highly recommend her.
We went to Virginia City, a fun little mining town built up on stilts. Grandma and Papa Wiest were here for that, making it a ba-zillion times cooler.
And, I turned 33. But I hear 40 is the new 20 so things can only get better from here, right? I had an amazing birthday. Doug took me to Sacramento for a night of shopping, dinner, and quiet. It was so nice. It almost made me wish birthdays came bi-annually. Wait, let me do the math on that.... Nope. Nevermind. I will just stick with one birthday a year.
Ethan is the worst back seat driver. Every time we get in the car, I get instructions on how to drive and what I need to improve on. Here is a sampling of our recent dialogues...
Ethan: What's that?
Me: What's what?
Me: What? (This continued on for another three minutes, by which time I was getting completely annoyed because I knew he had more comments on my driving.)
Ethan: That clicking.
Me: Oh, you mean the turn signal.
Ethan: Yes. Why did you turn it on?
Me: It means that I am going to turn.
Ethan: Why do you need it?
Me: It lets people know that I am turning.
Ethan: How can people know if you are turning? They can't hear the clicking in our car.
Me: When I turn on the signal there is a light that flashes on the outside of the car for other drivers to see.
Ethan: No there is not, Mom. You don't know what you're talking about.
He constantly asks driving questions dealing with the function of the car, directions, and traffic lights - his favorite. He tries to rat me out by telling Dad that I always run red lights. What Ethan doesn't understand is that he is looking at the wrong lights. As we move through the intersection he sees the lights out his window for the oncoming traffic which is red. He does not believe me when I say the red light is for the other cars. He is certain I am running the red light. His incessant comments drive me nuts. Now that Olivia is in Kindergarten I hear a lot of his commentary on driving. Just wait until you are 16, Ethan. Just you wait!
I vowed I would never own a mini-van. My life changed 5 years ago when we bought the Odyssey. I have been converted to the ways of the mini-van. I always laugh when I see the "Swagger Wagon" commercials on TV. Hilarious. So to all you non-believers (I used to be one), this is proof of the awesomeness of mini-vans.
A couple weeks ago Olivia had the opportunity to perform at Hot August Nights with her ballet group. It was a 50's inspired theme. The little girls wore poodle skirts, with pom poms in their high ponytails. The performances spanned 4 nights. The first two nights I navigated the crowds, did her make-up and hair, prepped her costume, corralled the other dancers, and kept Ethan and Ben occupied, by myself. The third and fourth night, Doug was there which made it considerably easier (and more enjoyable). Olivia did so well. She did one dance with her age group, and then she also participated with the older kids in a West Side Story dance. Olivia is a gifted dancer. She dances in Walmart, school, parking lots (much to my chagrin). The rhythm pulses in her veins.
Here are some pictures of Hot August Nights...
Ethan enjoying some of the yummy food. Who doesn't like meat on a stick and chocolate-dipped ice cream?
Olivia is fearless. She loved these bouncy things. She didn't weigh enough to bounce high, so Doug would pull her down and release. She went flying!
Whenever I go out with the kids I am a sight to see. I am sure all the people that see me wonder if I have ever heard of birth control, or at least have heard of waiting more than 2 years to have another child. Because Doug travels so much, and because when he is in town he is usually not home until 8:00pm, I do our shopping with all the kids. Let's do the math on that:
3 kids + 5 years old and under = C.I.R.C.U.S
It's official. We are a traveling circus. Ethan frequently has HUGE meltdowns in the store; Olivia always decides that she has to go to the bathroom which is always on the opposite side of the store we happen to be in at the time; and as for Ben, well, as long as he has his binkie or a bottle he is pretty content. But there are times when we are just not meant to go shopping. Case in point....
Several years ago I was shopping at Target in Las Vegas. Ethan was 1 and Olivia was still 2. I was trying to shop for wedding gifts from a wedding registry list. Nightmare! By the time I found the right aisle Ethan was screaming. But I couldn't just give up and come back some other time. That only meant I would be taking a risk that this would happen again. I am no poker player, but I understand my odds with kids. As I stood there looking for some great gift, that was only going to be returned anyways, a man walked up to me and said, "You need to shut him up! I can hear him from across the store." I am not usually the type to engage in arguments. I avoid confrontation. Fight vs. flight? I choose flight. But not that day. I turned around, followed that man, (with one finger pointed, the other hand planted on my hip, and my voice seething) and exclaimed, "Excuse me? If you are so bothered, maybe you should be the one to leave. Last time I checked Target was a family store. Not that you would know anything about children, obviously."
He walked off, and I was left there. I was furious. No, that's not enough. I was livid. I was beyond words. That was the first time I felt like I could have walked up to a stranger and punched him in the face. But who would watch the kids if I was hauled off to jail for assault? And besides, what kind of example would I be to my kids? I was proud Olivia saw me stand up for myself and for my family. She still asks me why that man was so mean. I tell her, "Some people just don't get it."
What has happened to manners? To decency? To kindness? I can be carrying the car seat in one hand (which now weighs over 30 lbs with Ben in it), and dragging my two other kids in the other hand, trying to get a door open and people not only don't open the door for me, but they cut me off so they can get there faster. "Watch out. Here come the crazies. Better get in the store before they cough on me and I catch it." I mean, really? Really? You are really going to cut me off and not even get the door? And it is not just young, oblivious teenagers. It's people my age and older - men AND women.
So please, to the three people that read my blog, get the door for someone today. Be a little more observant and a little less rushed. Sometimes it is the littlest things that can make someone feel noticed, appreciated, validated, alive.
Monday was Olivia's first day of Kindergarten. She was a little nervous Sunday night. In fact, she fell asleep nuzzled in my arms gently weeping. It is nice to feel like she still needs me for something other than making her food or entering the password so she can play on my phone (although she could probably do all that without me too).
What happened to my baby?
It was Olivia that first taught me how to be a Mom. She taught me about a different kind of love. And she continues to teach me. She is sweet, tender, happy, sassy, full of life, and full of potential. I am so proud of her.
My parents are amazing. My dad is 80 years old. He runs or works out at the gym on almost a daily basis. He makes super smoothies in his Vitamix, full of vitamins, minerals, and who knows what else. He is the epitome of health. My mom is 79 years old. I believed she was "39 and holding" until I was about 12. She is still so active. She travels to Reno frequently to help me while Doug is travelling. She has come to my rescue during my darkest moments of morning sickness. The kids love her and they wear her out. I hope to be as healthy as my parents are when I am their age. Heck, who am I kidding. I wish I was as healthy as them now.
While waiting for Olivia the other day at ballet I noticed an article posted on the door. It was hilarious. I chuckled to myself, putting my own parents in the elderly woman's shoes. Go granny!
It reminded me of the time that my mom returned ice cream to the store because she was convinced it had gone bad. The polite clerk inspected the ice cream and kindly informed her, "This is Vanilla Bean ice cream. The little black specks are vanilla beans."
Or there was the time my mom purchased Chips A Hoy chocolate chip cookies, and when she opened them there wasn't a chip in sight. Once again, my mom went back to the store (maybe even the same store, years later!), seeking a refund. Again, she got an explanation. It turns out it was a promotion and she won a prize. $500 to be exact. See, someone really does win those prizes on the side of food containers.
My mom's "moments" happen with food. My dad's "moments" happen with gravity. Usually in the form of a fall. He has fallen down stairs, fallen on ice, fallen off stairs.... Every time he bounces back and says he is fine. "Just a few bruises," he says. But that's ok because chicks dig scars.
Despite their senior moments, my parents are vibrant, healthy, resilient people. I have been "born of goodly parents." They have taught me so much - lessons that have come from years of experience. I think because they are older than most parents of people my age, I have a greater well of wisdom to draw from. I hope to draw from the well for many years to come.