Sunday, March 30, 2008

Here we go...

Today was my last day of maternity leave. In the morning, I go back to work.

Now, I love my job. I am VERY fortunate to get to teach wonderfully creative and interesting young adults who want to be in our school, and generally like my classes. I work with kind people, and am supported by wonderful parents. The curriculum is motivating, and my classroom is comfortable.

But I love my children, too. And my job takes me away from the two people I love best in this world. And that sucks.

There are 11 weeks left in the school year. It will be busy - long days that are too full. But I'm going to do my best to get through it with some measure of grace. I am vowing to not complain. I am working to view it all for the good things that it brings. And we're going to make it through.

Wish me luck!

Friday, March 28, 2008

He's amazing...

You know what? This little guy is pretty amazing.

Yeah, obviously we think he's adorable. He's got great eyes, and an adorable smile. When he's got you one-on-one, he babbles forEVER! Even the slurping sound he makes when he sucks on his fingers cracks me up.

But the thing that is most amazing to me is just how easy he is. Mr. Laid Back. He can just chill out in his bouncy chair as the world goes crazy around him - and for long periods of time. Not much gets him too riled up - very much like his dad. But he's a lot more smiley (which is extra cute when you don't have teeth). It makes my life so easy, and has made our transition to a two-kid family rather simple. After all, he's content to just go with the flow.

I'm so curious to see who our amazing little boy turns out to be. And for his sake, I hope that he hangs on to his ability to take life as it comes. That trait will serve him well (and maybe a little of it will rub off on his mama!).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wonderful Day....

I've been working so hard at enjoying every last minute of my maternity leave that I haven't had a chance to post much recently - so I hope to do some catching up over the next day or two...

But I have to say that we had a WONDERFUL day last Saturday! One of those that just doesn't come along very often. And the great thing was that it was all about Max.

First was Easter Eggs. Last year Max got to color a few eggs, but it was a very fast process, and he wasn't sure he was into it. This year started out much the same - for the first three eggs he dipped them halfway into the dye and called them done. But then the switch went on. He realized that despite getting his fingers messy, dying eggs was fun, and he wanted to do as much as possible. Now, I'm a pretty traditional dye-er - one, maybe two colors per egg. Not Max - eggs moved from cup to cup to cup until it seemed the shells just couldn't hold any more color. Forty-five minutes after starting, we had to put an end to it. But great fun was had, and the eggs turned out beautifully.

Then the evening was even better.

When Max was about 14 months old, he fell in love with The Wiggles. While we really try and limit his TV exposure, every night before bath he would get to watch a 30 minute episode of Greg, Murray, Anthony and Jeff dancing and singing. And far more often than we would like to admit, Dan and I would be humming "Toot, toot, chuga chuga, big red car" as we cleaned up the kitchen. So when I found out that they were coming to town, Dan and I decided that we should surprise Max.

So Saturday afternoon we told Max that we were going somewhere, and that it was a surprise. We took the MAX train into town - which, to be honest, was the big surprise as far as Max was concerned. He was so interested in seeing everything, and that didn't stop when we got to the Rose Garden. Even sitting down inside surrounded by people covered in Wiggles paraphernalia, he wasn't sure what we were dong there. It wasn't until the Wiggles themselves came on stage that the "surprise" was revealed.

Now, I often forget that when Max is REALLY excited or overwhelmed, that he gets very quiet. That's exactly what happened - no big shouts or screams - just a gleam in the eye and a gaze that didn't shift for the entire hour and a half concert. It was beautiful - he was so happy to be there. And while it isn't cool to admit it, so were Dan and I. I found myself tearing up. Truly, there is nothing better than the absolute joy of your child. Just one of those moments I hope I never forget.

So, overall, it was a wonderful day. And Max thought it was pretty good, too.

Friday, March 21, 2008


Back when I was a newbie mama, I attended a group for new moms at the hospital where Max was born. And in that group, we were "assigned" playgroups for moms with babies the same age as ours. Now, I'm not a joiner - it just isn't my thing. But for some reason, I signed up - and that playgroup has been a wonderful sanity saver ever since.

We started meeting when the babies were around 5 weeks old - there were about 12 mom/baby pairs in the beginning, and we would rotate from one house to another every week. Originally, the babies would lay on the floor, or be cradled in arms as we shared concerns and questions that we were facing at the time. And I have to confess - in the beginning, I wasn't sure that I really fit in, or that we would meet more than a couple of times. But as I got to know these women and their darling babies, I became rather attached.

Here we are, two and a half years later, still getting together. Our group has gone through some changes. We are down to about 5 "regulars", and 5 more that make it when they can. We have new members that have joined us, and we are all on our second round of babies. Our two-year-olds no longer lay on blankets - they are too busy playing house or basketball, running around the playground, or talking to each other in the most adorable conversations. We don't meet every week, but usually three out of every four.

This morning, playgroup was at our house. Now forgive me because I'm feeling all nostalgic, because I've only got one playgroup left before I go back to work, but really, it was the perfect morning. Sitting around with some wonderful friends talking about our day-to-day lives in that comfortable way that happens only when you aren't afraid to let the real you be seen - so satisfying. Nobody pretending to be perfect or have all the answers. Nobody afraid to offer support or encouragement. The "big" kids running around playing together without a fight or arguement - and really not needing us for more than the occasional potty or snack. The "littles" being rocked, nursed, and slung in ways that are second nature to the veterans that we now are.

In a society that has turned mothering into a competitive, isolationist experience, I am so fortunate to have found my "commune", working together to nurture each other and each other's children. I'm just so lucky...

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day...

I know - this post should all be about the luck o' the Irish and green beer and partying. After all, "Patrick" was my maiden name, and this is a holiday that is practically sacred for my family. Rest assured - the corned beef is in the crockpot, potatoes in the oven, and cabbage is on the stove. But my mind is somewhere else today.

It was on this day four years ago that we lost my Grandma Patrick. And today I'm missing her more than ever. For so many reasons.

Wasn't she a beauty? I don't honestly think she ever would have thought of herself that way, as a self-described tomboy who grew up on an Idaho potato farm. But the rest of us saw it. She was amazing. My grandpa was the wonderful public volunteer, the business man, the person they named an elementary school after - but he wouldn't have been any of those things without her. She was the behind-the-scenes support. The party thrower, the household manager, the encourager, the cheerleader. After all, she was the mom.

A mom of four boys- something I am only now beginning to understand. Mine are still so young, that I know I still don't have a clue in the ways they will make my heart race, make me gasp, make me worry. But she had lived to tell the tales. She had the wisdom of when to worry, and when to let it go. She knew the fastest way to the ER, and when a wound could be healed with neosporin and a band-aid. She could fill hungry tummies with the best of foods, and swim with the best of them. She was a true "Boys Mom". And I really wish she was here to help me understand just what that is going to mean for me.

In so many ways, I want to be like her. She was the one who taught me to love the Blazers. She was the one who could get dirty in the garden and bake a mean batch of chocolate chip cookies. She loved you just the right amount to make you feel cared about without being smothered. She carried on great conversations, and never cared if they were only with herself. She loved her children and her husband above all else, and supported them in every harebrained scheme and lofty aspiration. She gave of herself, without giving herself away. And she knew how to play.

So, today, I'm realizing just how lucky we were to have her.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

So excited....

I am just so happy right now! I feel as if a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders. No, the extra 10 pounds I have hung on to since delivering Luke is still here - but this is even better! I get to go back to teaching half-time next year!!!!!!!


Yes, I still have to go back to full-time this spring. And yes, the budget won't have a lot of "wiggle room". But I am just thrilled. Dan and I took a hard look at finances, and saw that we could make it work. Then yesterday I met with my principal, and she was very supportive. The leave forms (since I will be taking a halftime leave) are all filled out, and HR has been notified. SO, barring any bizarre circumstances, it's all taken care of.

To be honest, I never expected that it would work out. I figured that with the childcare expenses for two, we would need my full income. But it will work, and life in our home should be more sane because of it.

Working half-time is my ideal. It gets me some adult contact and a life separate from my role as a mom, but still with enough time in the day to do chores and be a mom that can spend quality time with her kids. When I am working full days, I get home at 4:00 (still early, I know) and have 60 papers to grade and lesson plans to write. When I work half days I get home at noon and only have 30 papers. It allows me to do a better job both at school and at home.

I can't express how much I appreciate the sacrifices that Dan is willing to make for this to be able to happen. I hope that he can see how it will benefit him, too. Not only is a happy mama a good thing for the family, but it gives a more time for house cleaning, laundry, making dinner, and other errands during the day so that our evenings run more smoothly. It is important that his life is improved because I am home more, too.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh...already, life feels better!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It's starting....

Pretty much from the moment I knew I was pregnant with Luke, Max knew. In fact, he told his dad (by way of a big brother onesie). And the moment we found out that we were having another boy, we have talked to Max about what it means to have a brother.

Throughout my pregnancy, we read a lot about babies, and talked about Luke. I would try and have Max feel his kicks, and we would ask his opinion about names. It was funny - he never seemed upset or happy. Just indifferent, maybe.

About three weeks before our due date, as baby talk increased, Max's attitude also seemed to shift. He would tell people that mommy was getting bigger and bigger, and that "Baby Uke" was going to come out soon. He would also tell Dan and I that he was "sooo excited". We were happy that he was viewing this life change as a positive thing, but also believed that he wouldn't really know how he felt about having a baby brother until Luke got here.

Now, I fully expected Max, in all his passionate splendor, to really come unglued when Luke was born. But really, he didn't. He also didn't jump for joy. In almost anti-Max fashion, it was like not much had happened at all. Like his world was pretty much unchanged and he just didn't really even notice the creature in the corner. He would look affectionately at him when asked, or when others expected him to interact with Luke he would. But there wasn't a whole ton of interest there.

But it's over the last couple of weeks, all that seems to be shifting. Suddenly, it's like the light has turned on and Max is fully aware and interested in everything Luke does. Better yet, Max seems to really be enjoying Luke. As Luke has started smiling and "talking" more, Max has really started to see him as a little person. He wants to be near him all the time -
he holds his hand, talks to him (and for him in adorable one-sided conversations), is on the bed during diaper changes, and sings to him while I am in the shower. Yesterday he even asked to hold him!

This new interest isn't without concern - we had to talk about the fact that babies heads are fragile (yes Max, like eggs), so we don't jump near them or on them. And picking Luke up isn't the best idea. But when we went to the doctor's this afternoon, Max was there to sit on the table with Luke, telling him in the sweetest little voice that it was all going to be ok.

I can't even say how much all of this excites me. No, I don't think that this means that from now on they will always be best friends. I'm sure I have years of warfare ahead of me. But in this moment of time, I'm getting a glimpse of the relationship that I want them to have. Max is loving Luke. What more can I ask for?

And tonight after dinner, Max looked at Luke, turned to me, and said, "I'm so excited Luke's here."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The "titles" just don't matter...

I grew up in a really "traditional" household - mom, dad, and sister. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were also pretty straightforward. It wasn't until Dan and I got married that I learned about the world of step-parents and such. I gained a mother-in-law, a stepfather-in-law, a father-in-law, and a stepfather-in-law, and as an adult had to figure out how all that worked. Fortunately, in Dan's family it works rather well. And while it may seem like it got even more complicated this year when my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law divorced, for us, nothing changed.

Here's what I've learned - the titles just don't matter. Even though Robert and Mary aren't together any more, we all still love Mary and want her in our lives. We still consider her family, and Max calls her Grandma Mary.

This last weekend, Mary, Carrie (my sister-in-law), and Garth (her boyfriend) came to visit. It was the first time Mary was able to meet both Garth and Luke (Luke and Garth met the day Luke was born, but that's another story). Within minutes, things felt easy and natural - lots of updating on family, laughing at Max, and cooing over Luke. And when Marian and Tom (Dan's mom and stepdad) came for dinner the "mixed" families didn't seem at all strange. It's wonderful when fantastic adults can get along together because they are great people, and not get caught up in how akward things are supposed to be.

Max was in heaven - surrounded by people he loves and who all love him. Luke was a pretty happy camper, too (but isn't he always?). And the rest of us just enjoyed good conversation and spending time loving each other. Because while the "titles" haven't been hard to overcome, distance is a much bigger annoyance.

But that's what airplanes are for, right?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Recent Maxisms...

He doesn't yet mean to be, but boy our kid can be funny. The things he comes up with amaze me. Thought I'd just jot a few down before I forget them.....

- "Man overboard, the sailors cried" - heard first while playing with a new toy at grandma and grandpa's, but soon became the refrain any time he jumped off anything.

- "forlost" - a combination of forgot and lost, used when describing something that is missing. Example - "I forlost my shark."

- "Can I kiss Luke's penis?" - He was just working his way down Luke's body while showing affection - and couldn't figure out why the answer was, "Um, that's not a great idea"

- ending stories with "and so it is."

- "I'm the boy pansy" - while pretending to be a young male chimpanzee (a current favorite game)

- "Well, actually...." - Seriously? You're two and a half!

Every day brings a new one. I love it - he's becoming a little person at such an alarming speed! Now if only I could help him understand that I'm not laughing AT him....