Friday, April 30, 2010

Becoming a Speaker, a Signifier, a First-Person Subject!

Jack is now talking! He and his sweet brother have both been making noises for quite some time like "da da da" or "bah bah bah", but Woody came up with his first official word -- "Uh Oh" -- about a month ago. He uses it in the correct context and on queue, so we call that a word. "Bye Bye" followed closely behind, along with blowing kisses with a hearty "Mah!"

Jack has decided to wait until this week to assert himself as a speaker of words. He started with "Yeah." It's really very sweet. He can tell by our tone when we are asking a question, and he'll chime in with a loud "Yeah!" From there, he began realizing that he gets a lot of positive attention when he makes new sounds, and especially if he repeats a real word. And boy, did he get a reaction when he used a word that meant something in context, like "yeah." He now says "E-I-E-I"; yes, as in "E-I-E-I-O". And he's been calling me "Boom Boom", but we're not sure how he got that out of "Mama".

Isn't it amazing how empowering it is to communicate? Yes; Jack has been communicating through gestures and screaming in pain or in excitement, but through language, a list of new possibilities opens up. We can object to ideas, agree with ideas. and even express our own ideas. Jack is becoming his own subject! I know I'm a nerd, but that's pretty cool, right? My babies are all, indeed, little people.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Stuff People Never Told Me about Being a Mom

Shame on all all of you! Why didn't you tell me these things? Kidding. I had a little poor me day this week, and I was thinking about how hard it is to be a mom. I mean, seriously. Nobody ever fully explained this, dang it. Well, ok, maybe they did and I wasn't listening. I guess that's possible ;) But, once I got over myself and thought about my life more honestly and objectively, of course I stopped whining and realized how incredibly blessed we are. But, just for kicks, I still made a list (boy, oh boy, do I love lists!) of what nobody tells you about being a mom:

1. Babies do not come to you in your timing, and it's not so simple to have a baby.

I mean, you just stop taking a pill or whatever, right? Nope. Took us 2 years to have Ellie, and then BAM, she was 18 months old and we were pregnant with twins! NOT in my timing. Not in the least. I have several friends with the same story -- trouble having kids, having kids when they weren't exactly in their well-crafted plans, etc. The up side: we're never really ready, anyway, and we have to learn eventually that we are not in charge here. You learn that real quick when life comes at you full force.

2. It's not a given that your kids will be perfectly healthy and come right home from the hospital.

I've gotten this one out of my system already, but I can't help but reflect. I NEVER thought for a second about having kids with special medical needs. Never. Why would you? That would be pretty depressing. My boys are so fun, and I know we can handle this with a lot of prayer. But I find myself wanting to stop young couples on the street, who might be taking the idea of having a kid so lightly and say (in the sweetest and most loving way possible), "Have you ever thought, just for a minute, that you might be getting more than what you're bargaining for? That your kids will need your constant care and support beyond the normal 18 years?  That what you think you want now might change dramatically once you bring that baby home? Oh, and that you might be bringing TWO of them home?" I'm sure they would listen to me and not think I was a crazy lady.

3. You will never feel like you are doing it right. You will always question yourself. And that's actually normal and ok.

For me, realizing this has been very therapeutic. Where are my kids right now, you ask? All three are behind me on the big bed watching TV and eating Cheetos. At 8 AM. Yep. Judge away, but they're happy and so am I. I try to trust the doctors, physical therapists, teachers, and whoever else gives us advice about what's best for the kids, and they do give us a lot of valuable tips. But I know my kids the best -- I have to go with my gut about what's best, what's just not a good idea for us as a family, and what they need the most. They need to feel important, strong, kind, and smart.  Keeping them safe, healthy, and happy comes first, and the rest, well, we'll figure it out (I hope).

4. Your heart always feels divided, no matter where you are: 

If I'm at work, part of my heart is at home.
If I'm out to eat with Chris, part of my heart is where the kids are.
If I'm at home and Chris is at work, part of my heart is with him.
If my boys are with me, but Ellie's away, part of my heart is with her.
If I'm home with the kids, part of my heart wants to be reading a good book, writing, or just being quiet.

You don't miraculously lose your need to be an individual when you have kids. Instead, I've just learned to deal with a constant ache, sort of, like I'm never fully in one piece. Of course, some days are the best of all worlds -- family time, husband time, alone time, work time -- but seriously, how often do those planets align?

5. Your ability to feel emotions goes, like, crazy off the charts, man:  Times 100 once you have kids:

pride, fear, sadness, hope,
relief, love, hate, joy, disappointment,
excitement, amazement, compassion,
contentment, defeat, and of course, surprise

Who knew?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good Times, Noodle Salad

Today, I'm thinking about some good stuff from a fun-filled three-day Easter weekend . . .

Daddy is off of work! We took a family trip to the Alexandria Zoo, where we saw monkeys, lions, pelicans, snakes, a jaguar, a cougar, a white tiger, huge turtles, flamingoes, peacocks, macaws, eagles, crocodiles, alligators, otters, raccoons, a fox, deer, tapirs (way bigger and uglier than on Diego, lemme tell you), porcupines, kookaburras, and lots of huge carp. We all did great, which was a pleasant surprise. Well, Woody did NOT like the macaws squawking so loudly. Had our only little meltdown over those pesky birds.

But, of course, Ellie's favorite parts were the Cheetos at lunch and the train ride. And Jack loved the train! He flapped his arms (danced) and waved at everyone as we passed by. So cute. It was a lovely day to be outside. Glad we got to go before the real Louisiana heat ensues. My highlight: Chris and Ellie were noses to the glass looking for the lions, right when a lioness passed directly in front of them. Scared the poop out of them! Now that's good stuff.

I was headed to the wedding of a dear college friend 2 1/2 hours away and to do some spring/summer clothes shopping for the kids, so Daddy was on duty. Well, Chris likes to be on the go, so first they had an egg hunt at church, which Ellie said was a lot of fun: balloon animals and egg decorating, and of course candy, lots and lots of candy. Then, they headed to KFC, their favorite non-Mommy eating spot. After a nap and a neighborhood walk (Ellie rode her bicycle the entire time!), they dyed eggs, had supper and baths and went to bed.

Exhausting, I'm sure. Chris is the "Wonder-Dad", always there to save the day. I had a wonderful time at the wedding and found some good deals in Shreveport/Bossier. Maybe, just maybe, these clothes will survive into the summer. A girl can dream.

Resurrection Sunday was here, so it's time to get to church! We all enjoyed celebrating what Jesus Christ has done for us. Gives me tremendous hope to talk about life everlasting and victory over death and over these feeble bodies of ours. Praise God. After Bible study, I volunteered in the nursery, but I ended up holding both of my own boys for most of the morning, since they thought I was leaving every time I put them down, rotten babies.

Then, a drive to Zwolle for lunch and fun with the Maw Maws, Paw Paw, and even some cousins! I miss my family terribly when I can't make it on a holiday. Just don't get to see Mama, Nene, and the girls enough :(  But Chris's family is just wonderful, so of course we always enjoy visiting with them. Highlight: Woody showing off and "talking" to everybody, especially Paw Paw Travis. Sweet boy. And strawberry shortcake: nom nom nom.

Monday is Here: So long, weekend. Even though it's my Spring Break from work, we'll have a busy week with no Nanny Nicole. So far, so good . . . coffee cup cheers to a great week ahead!