Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Husband, House, and a Whole Lot of Crazy

So, my husband came home.

What a deployment, let me tell you.

I won't lie.  Being left alone with two under 2 since mid-winter may be one of the hardest things I've ever done.  Deployment is always hard, but with a new-new baby and a crazy 20 month old who turned into a crazy 2 year old (how's that for redundant?) while he was gone?

We're all lucky I didn't turn into a hardcore drinker.

Oh, I kid.  Kinda.

But yes.  He is home.

And I have never been happier to see him, if I'm being honest.

Then, well, we bought a house.

I know. I know.  We're nuts.

But we were on a time crunch.  Because, well, he deploys again.  And I will need medication if I have to move alone with my two progeny, my giant dog, and all our stuff.  So much stuff!

So we found a house, and we are moving, like, now.  We're homeowners.  I'm not sure who decided we were mature enough for that.  Probably the same person who decided we could handle two kids.  (What were they thinking?)

Oh, hold me.  As some of you know, I've been blogging for five years, and you all have seen me through several moves.  Suffice it to say, this isn't my most favorable of circumstances.

Luckily, we're moving like 10 minutes away, and we have drawn up about 41 different schematics and game-plans, and my husband will be nominated for sainthood any day because he's humoring my list of lists and color-coded "What We Will Pack In What Order" itinerary. 

Meanwhile, Ella is so verbal and bossy and demanding, she might as well be sitting for the bar.  She'd make a darn good 2-year-old lawyer.  And Glory is army-crawling and getting into things and growing and, well, I blinked, and she became mobile at 5 months old.

Hold me.

Oh, and I'm working on getting accredited in something that's really important to me; something I have a passion for.  Which I can't share yet.  But I will soon.

I want life to slow down, but it's not.  I've given up hope it will, and I'm just holding on now.

Which is why my presence here is, and will continue to be, sporadic.

When I can, I will.  And when I can't, well, you see.

I know it's not just me.  So many of us who have been working this gig pre-marriage and pre-kids are blogging less and less or not at all.  We pop in and pop out.  No time for commenting when read blogs.

I've debated shutting the whole dog-and-pony show down, but I just can't.

Mostly because I need this space to speak out when I can.  And talk about my girls.  And give a little virtual wave when necessary.

I hate it, but it's the only way I can keep going right now.

Along with parenting, moving, and living as a military spouse.

No matter how random my posts become, this is still a very special place for me, as are the people who read it.

So, in short, I appreciate your patience, if you're still reading here.

That means more than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

She's Different

I went to get a hamper full of dirty laundry out of our room yesterday.

I left Gloribeth grabbing her toes on the play-room floor.  Ella traipsed after me.

I was gone for all of  20 seconds.

And when I returned, I found Glory across the room, rearing up on her hands, grabbing at a clean cloth diaper through the slats of another laundry basket awaiting folding, and shoving it in her mouth, nomming on it hungrily.

People, she isn't even 5 months old.

Later that night, she was sitting propped up against the hubs while I bathed Ella.  When I turned back around to say something to him, she was still sitting there.  This time, unassisted.

Laughing away.  Giggling and smiling with her baby belly poking out of her pajamas while she sat there by herself.

Ladies and gentlemen, she's not even 5 months old.

I am in big, big trouble.  I haven't a clue what to do with this.

While Ella was ahead of the game verbally and comprehensively when it came to developmental milestones, her physical skills came about at the average age.  Some of them were a bit slower, even.

She walked a few weeks after she turned 1.  She crawled around eight or nine months.  She inched everywhere on her belly around 6 or 7 months.

But Glory is doing that now.  I haven't a doubt she'll be crawling about in less than a month.  Movement-wise, her and Ella are almost night and day. 

She already tries to grab the dog, her sister, library books, cell phones.  She is unhappy sitting still unless she's being ferociously cuddled or nursed.  She is motivated to get across the floor and uses ever muscle fiber to do so, even when her development delays her.  She grunts in frustration and determination.

Ella, however, was happy just to sit there.  Sit there and focus on things and stare and look deep into the meaning of life, it seemed, at a mere 5 months old.

Glory? I have never met a baby that smiles more.

She's got this light that makes her ever-lovable.  She is by no means quiet, but she is gentle.  Even though she's a mover and a shaker, she burrows in when she's sleeping and bats her crystal blue eyes at you when she awakes, and she bares her little soul just like that, and you love her.  You can't love her enough, in fact.

And thus, she is so different than her sister.

Not in the lovability factor.  The world is Ella's oyster, and she has adoring fans everywhere she goes. (We seriously can't get out of the library during certain hours for all the other people fawning over her, impressed with her speech; she orates regularly, there, right at the library book drop-off bin.)

But their little personalities? Oh, so different.

Ella wasn't a huge mover, but could sit forever and flip through books, sitting in one place, by 6 months old.  She's also incredibly feisty in personality.  She's our fighter, stubborn to the core.

When she was a baby, and even now, she made you work for those smiles.  We had song-and-dance routines to get her to giggle.

But you raise an eyebrow at Glory, and she breaks into peals of laughter.

And while I can't make it through a day where I don't hear "Oh my gosh! They look so much alike!" I'm beginning to realize they couldn't be more different.

Which is why I sometimes struggle to find their similarities at all, even in photos. 

They are two different little angels in my life.  My fiery little fighter who runs about owning the world. And my kind little angel who charms her way into your heart with an easy smile.

Ella is me, in a nutshell. Intense. Interested. All in.  And she adores her daddy.  He is hands-down her favorite person, always has been.

Gloribeth is her father.  Easy-going.  Kind. Soft-hearted.  And she's all mine.  I walk in the room, and she literally leaps out of my husband's arms to get to me.  At just 4 months old.

He came home from his last deployment and had to agree that her love for me was special.  But he did this while our 2 year old was glued to him, afraid to let go of the love her life.

Ella was a huge comfort nurser.  Glory just likes to be rocked and nuzzled.  Ella would scream if anything was wrong.  Glory saves her cries for very clear and specific reasons.  Ella was particular.  Glory makes do. 

It makes me sad, a little.  I'm already mourning the baby she was.  She's growing so fast, and the innocent love she shows me makes me so happy. I already miss it, and she's not yet at the stage where she's dropped it for angsty, romantic teenage-dom.

But I know it will pass.  And I know she will grow out of it.  And just like Ella's affinity to talk to me 24-7, I know I will miss it when it's gone.

Because, yes, it's true.  I already like different aspects of their personalities.  And I already know my favorite pieces aren't the same in each girl.

With Ella, I always knew what she was thinking.  She got me, too.

With Glory, she loves me a lot.  She makes me feel like a good mom, even on the days when my mom-soul is dragging.

Our relationship is just special.  And so is mine with Ella. 

Special.  But different.

So much so that I don't even notice their likeness anymore.  I focus on the blue eyes of my second-born and the beginning stages of what looks like blond hair.  Then I stare at the green, ever-changing eyes of my first-born, hair already darker than mine was at that age, and I can't help but think they are so different to me.

Ella is Ella.  As the first-born, she has worn the path and prepared the way.

But like any good second child, Glory may follow, but has routes all her own to explore.  She's already exploring them, in fact.

So, yes, she may look a lot like her big sister.  But she's not.

She's special.  She's amazing.

She's different.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

In Honor of Independence Day...

... You can find me over here today, blogging about my life as a military spouse, once again.

I am forever grateful for the freedoms gifted to me from the service of many men and women in this country, including my husband.

And as always, I am honored to share the badge of "Navy Wife" with many other women celebrating our nation's birthday today, without a spouse nearby but ever-close in our hearts.

So please go to Salute to Spouses and check out my blog and the blogs of other wives like me.

Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tired

I hit a wall sometimes.

A big, tired wall.

I don't want to be touched.  I don't want to be talked to.  I don't want to see anyone or go anywhere or do anything.

I want to wear pajamas and sip warm teas and coffees and read books in my bed while occasionally watching a movie.

Doing so was always a rare occurrence in my life when I was a grad student.  When I was a professional.  When I was just a wife.

But as a mommy? It just doesn't happen.  Ever.

Even if the hubs isn't deployed, I don't have sound-proof rooms in my home.  We don't even have a bedroom door that locks.  I can't even take a 20-minute nap without Ella running in, yelling, "Mama! Mama! Mama!"  Or a baby needing to be nursed.  Or a question about where whats-its are.  Or some indiscernible screams that last just a little too long till I can no longer relax and I have to go out and see what's going on so I get up only to find out Ella and her father playing a Who-Can-Scream-the-Weirdest? game which is no big deal until I'm spotted and can't escape back to bed because someone needs a snack, hug, drink, toy, or new diaper.  And only mama can do it.

Meanwhile, I'm getting angsty.  Upset. Resentful.

I sleep very little.  I spend an inordinate amount of time taking care of food and home and family.  And I get shabbier and shoddier and more and more tired.

When the hubs is deployed, it's even worse.

And - full honesty - that's where I'm at right now.

I just want to take a shower, grab a nap, and read a book.

But that can't happen.

So I'm not in a pretty place.

Yesterday, Ella was tired, and the day was winding down.

On a whim, she decided to make it rain. With pumpkin seeds.

OK.  She's 2.  No big deal.

Until she didn't pick them up. And we had to several rounds of time-out, some severe talking-tos, and over an hour of tension.  I have never had her look at me like she did.  I've never yelled at her like I did.

It was ugly.

And though part of it was just the situation, at least a tiny bit of it was the fact that, simply put, I'm done.

I love my life, and I don't need a vacation.

I need a break.

But since that isn't going to happen, I'm kind of stewing and upset at myself all at once.

This, too, shall pass.  It's just my life.

But it just isn't my favorite part of life, that's for sure.
***
Be back more when I can see the sunny side of this gig I've got going.  Thanks for being understanding.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two-Year-Old Talk

So Ella all but came out of the womb talking.

A lot of her friends say a few words and phrases by 2 years old.

Ella talks in sentences, nay, paragraphs.

It's her thing.  She didn't wean early, walk early, or become some scientific phenom by 18 months of age.

But man alive.  This girl inherited the gift of gab. 

A lot of people with a toddler and a baby get "out touched," i.e., feel the urge to scream if one more little hand grabs their skirt and pulls.

I get out-talked. 

Which is saying something because, dude, I'm a talker.

A big talker.

But what I wouldn't give for five minutes of peace these days.

Yet, to no avail.  She talks.  I listen.  And I record a few tidbits so you can enjoy them, too.
***
Ella is potty-trained.  But she still requires frequent reminders to hit the bathroom, otherwise she gets really caught up in playing, and I'm left with a pee-pee trail from the toys to the commode as she makes an unsuccessful attempt to dash there.

So, I find myself working "Do you have to pee?" into conversations about colors and shapes and the proper way to "gently touch" little sisters all the time.

One such day, while discussing green beans in the kitchen, she made a funny face.  So I asked, "Ella, do you have to go potty?"

She immediately responded without skipping a beat.

"No, Mama.  I pooped last week."

Well, then.  I guess we're good.
***
I was looking through old photos, and she was perched over my shoulder.

She pulled out one of the hubs and me from a stack of wedding photos.

She pondered it and talked about "mama's pretty dress" for a while.

Then looked at my husband and yells, "Oh, dere's a cute dada! Dere's a cool dada!"

Funny, huh?

I thought so, too.  I also thought we were done, but we weren't.

Anyone who comes near our house has to see the picture and hear her say "Dear's a cute dada!  Dere's a cool dada."

I'm letting it go, simply because she's only got five, 10 years max, before "cute" and "cool" aren't going to ever proceed her father in her vocabulary ever again.
***
Going hand-in-hand with the potty-talk is the undie talk.  And Ella is downright obsessed with her "big-girl undies."

Last week, I found her sitting on the floor at my mother-in-law's feet.  In the bathroom.  Which she'd barged into so she could "See Gam-ma's big-girl undies, mama?"

Everyone cool wears big-girl undies, according to Ella.  And if she sees yours, it's sure to strike up a conversation.

Which is why just yesterday I was in the bathroom counting everyone we knew who wore underwear.

"Yes, Mama wears big-girl undies.  And Gam-ma wears big-girl undies.  And Ella wears big-girl undies. And Nonnie wears big girl undies..."


The list kept getting longer and longer with any potty-trained female she could think of.

Until, finally, she summed it up.

"Pop-Pop wears big-girl undies, too."

Pop-Pop, my dad, now needs an adult-sized pair of Dora the Explorer boxer-briefs.

He has to represent the  big-girl undies well, female or not.
***
Ella often says really long sentences, but because she talks really fast, she tends to get words mixed up.

For instance, Marvin the Dog got a hold of a stuffed monkey she has and pulled its arm off.  I set it up on my desk to mend later that week, but every so often, she comes back and insists on re-capping the story.

Which, initially, was presented like, "Marvin for lunch ate the arm monkey, too," instead of "Marvin ate the monkey's arm for lunch, too."

Luckily, we curbed that.  Well, most of it.

She still walks around observing things (me making sandwiches, for example) and asks, in very disjointed word flow, "Mama, what's dose sandwiches doin'?"

It's so incredibly cute, I can't fix it, even as an English teacher.

As far as I'm concerned, she can talk like that till she's 45.
***
I was getting dressed like I do every morning when Ella walked up in front of me, put her hands on my shoulders, and goes, "Mama! Pitty eyes!"

I was fairly heartened until a few seconds later, when she looked a few inches south and goes, "Mama's boobs pitty, too!"
***
When we were flying to Arizona, we had spent a lot of time talking up airplanes with her.

Well, somewhere along the line, Ella dubbed them "big, old panes."

Never airplanes.  Or even just "planes."

We were flying on a "big, old pane." End of story.

So imagine her shock and surprise when she say a long line of aircraft out the glass airport window while we waited to board our flight.

"Mama! Look! Look!  Another big old pane!  And another big old pane! And another big old pane!  And another big old pane..."

You get the picture.
***
Back to the potty-training.

Ella was cooking with me and didn't get to the restroom in time when she had to pee.

As I'm wiping it up, she's trying to help me.  And she slipped.  And really went down hard.

It scared her more than anything.  But as she's wailing and clinging to me, she keeps repeating the same thing over and over again.  And I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.

Until I realize she's yelling over my shoulder at the dog.

"Careful Marfin!  Don't swip in the pee-pee!  Ella swipped in the pee-pee!  I don't like that swippin' in the pee-pee!  Don't swip Marfin! Don't swip in the pee-pee Marfin! Ella swipped!..."

Luckily, Marvin listened.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Flower Girl

Last week, I braved a cross-country flight with the girls to go to my baby brother's wedding in Phoenix.

Well, I didn't just go, per say.

Ella was in the wedding. 

She was their flower girl.

It was a lovely wedding.  Lots of planning and time and effort went into it, and it couldn't have been more beautiful.  And my 2 year old was a piece of the puzzle.

I got on the plane to Arizona sweating.  I lost sleep over it, people.

Toddlers aren't known for being cooperative under pressure.  They can be gun-shy.  (Ask any parent who tries to get them to say "Hi, Grandma! I love you!" on Mother's Day.) And you put them in a big, white, pouffy dress, and they are either going to roll in dirt or tear it off the second you relax.

Plus a three-hour time change?  Staying in a strange time-share for five days?  In a dry-dry-dry heat in June in Arizona?

Heaven help me.

Luckily, Ella rose to the occasion.  I may have pumped her full of snacks and made every single person in that church ooh and ahh over her gorgeous little dress, but she owned it and looked adorable walking down the aisle, holding my dad's hand.

She was a hit.

Until 9 p.m., when the dancing and fun really got going, and Ella had a tantrum because she couldn't join my brother in removing his new wife's garter.

So, we left.

Thank God my old college roommate has relocated to Phoenix and came to the wedding.  I'd never been able to schlep a tantrum-ing toddler, pouffy dress, diaper bag, and baby - in heels! - out of the country club, back to the condo, and into their beds without her.

It was a whole different kind of wedding experience.

We're a week and a half out, and I'm still tired.

And I went to bed by 10:30 p.m. on the wedding night.

Though there was the flight back to Georgia, where both my children screamed for about 30 minutes, and on the second connection, Ella threw a knock-down, drag-out tantrum for at least an hour, making me that mom.

It was so bad that I am basically a shadow of the woman I used to be.

The flower girl killed me, you see.

Well, that and spending an hour in the bride's room, surrounded by adorable, perky, beautiful 21-year-old bridesmaids, who made me feel like a fat, saggy, frumpy, old toad.

I adore my brother and my new sister-in-law.  And being there for their wedding was exactly I needed to do.

But I am also darn glad he's the baby of the family, and we're all married now.

Because I don't want to do that again any time soon.
***
Be back later this week when I am no longer traumatized by the stares of those other patrons on the ill-fated plane we took back home.

Never again, I tell you.  Never again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sassy

I don't know if there are words to describe your relationship with your first-born.

It's a mix-up of such crazy intensity that it only pails in comparison to something otherwordly and neon.

While we jokingly call them the experimental model, they are so much more.

They are loved and cared for and watched over with such a deep passion that at the end of the day, they leave us spent.

It's why mothers worry about having enough love for a second child.

When you are so wrapped up in the relationship you have with a first-born, it doesn't seem possible.

My Ella is all of the above and more.  She was who I'd prayed for for years: The baby that would make me a mama.

And when she came splashing into my arms two years ago tomorrow, I was forever changed. 

I have never worried more.  Cried more.  Given up more.  Rejoiced more than I did over this child.

Even now, with my heart as equally in love with her little sister, she still is the primary source of my anxiety and tears and sacrifice and joy.

Glory has a relaxed mama.  A mama whose done it before.

Ella gets the intense version of me; the mama who has never done any of this before.  Ever.

And for that reason, I will forever worry I am never mom enough for the spitfire that broke me in on June 12, 2011, and continues to do so every day.

There are so many words to describe my first-born.

Fiery. Intelligent. Precocious. Talkative. Social. Motivated. Earnest. Kind. Charming. Strong-willed. Precious. Spirited. Independent.

Sassy.

She earned that nickname almost as soon as she opened her mouth.

She thinks the world is hers.  It is bright and beautiful and amazing and approachable, just like she is.

She has always done things as exactly as she saw fit.  There is no rushing her, and at the same time, there is no catching her, either.

Nursing. Sleeping. Eating. Walking. Potty-training.  All of it was done to her specifications when she saw worthy.

And with that stubborn streak, she makes me laugh uncontrollably.  She makes me angrier than anyone else ever has.  But she makes me love outside my potential over and over and over again.

Last night, before bed, she was doing her typical "If I just keep talking and moving, I won't fall asleep" routine.  I was next to her in bed, rubbing her back, singing.  But she wasn't having it.

She sat up and sidled over to me and her sister, who was perched on my chest.

She wrapped an arm around each of us and planted two kisses, one on my cheek and one on Gloribeth's, then grinned her sly little grin and proclaimed in the only tone she has - loud and distinct - "Sissy! I wuv you!" Mama! I wuv you! Sissy and Mama! Efferbody here!"

And that is my Ella.  Loving. Striving to maintain that social connection.  Opening her heart and loving so strongly everyone within arm's reach. And talking about it.  Effusively.  All while charmingly attempting to wiggle her way out of something she never intended to do.

And tomorrow, that Ella turns 2.

A big girl.  A kid.  Not a baby anymore.

I hoped to raise his spirited little lady, and though every day, it's a test and a challenge, I am so immensely proud of the fire plug she is.

She amazes me what she's capable of. What she says. What she does.

Her freedom and little dancing soul.  The tiny person who, after her birthday party last week, tromped about the house for several hours, butt naked save a pair of ladybug rain boots, dragging about a bouquet of leftover balloons, yell-singing, "Happy Birfday to lou! Happy Birfday to lou! Happy Birthday to Ella! Happy Birfday to lou!"

She isn't the sweet baby I cradled two years ago.  She's my full-grown child.  My toddler.  My newborn.

She's my 2 year old.

I love you, my sweet girl.  You'll never know how much until some day you have a child of your own, your first-born, who makes you pull out all the stops and gets the focus of all your new parent intensity.

You will pour your entire soul into him or her, like I did to you. 

And you will blink and find him/her walking and talking and dictating their own little life like they are more than 2 years removed from infant-hood.

It's the most heart-wrenching, amazing paradigm I think I'll ever encounter.  I think it's that way on purpose, so we welcome your growth instead of fear what happens when the baby in you is gone.

And, my girl, it is indeed gone these days.  You are skinned knees and dirty face and full sentences.  You aren't even close to being a baby anymore.

So, happy birthday to my big, grown girl, Sassy.  I love you so much it hurts.