Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

I am so grateful. For my husband's architecturally perfect nose. For my son's exuberance. For the blessing of them both. I am a wealthy person with a colorful happiness, thanks to these two.

I may be snarky and I may deal with life's difficulties by threatening to send my son to Cuba and take a nap until they return him with a bribe to never try that again, but I am so grateful for the rare 10 pm, when teething pains wake him up just enough to need rocking, when I get to hold his little, sleeping body long past the few minutes it takes to see him back to sleep. Because I love holding him, my sweet, monstrous little love. I love having my face on his soft head and quietly kissing him until I rally myself to put him down again.

I often curse the Navy for taking away my best friend, but this temporary absence does not diminish the depths of comfort, stability and peace my husband's love gives me. When I say I am a richer woman for having him, I mean I am fuller and continually grow in my capacity to hold the fullness that is marriage. The growing takes lots of commitment. Commitment to deny yourself the right to be angry. Commitment to make peace between two wholly different, but equally fallen persons. Commitment to not talk about sex in public. (Your voice is always louder than you think it is, Rebekah.) Commitment to a God who is the only foundation and salvation for this partnership.

"Thus far the Lord has brought us."

I am humbled by the gracious gift of my two loves. I am more humbled by the knowledge that God Almighty humiliated himself to be a man, that I might be able to comprehend Him. That He chased me down to tell me that, though I was less than undeserving, His love has caused me to be worth the salvation offered me. From utter darkness to warm sunlight. Merry Christmas. Merry day of Hope.

I am loved, so I am grateful. It is a beautiful Christmas, indeed.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Okay... Maybe You Should Have a Kid

Despite my last post, I really do think I'll keep Nathan. And if I wasn't sure, today God and Nate worked in concert to convince me that children can be useful.

In the past year, every time I go to DSW... and I know this is probably weird, but I don't care if you judge me... I always pray that I will find a pair of brown leather, closed-toed, pumps for an incredible deal. I'm super picky and super cheap. Needless to say, it's been a while.

DSW is one of Nathan's favorite stores. It has loads of shoes, all within toddler reach and there are aisles to run down, mirrors to breathe on and people sitting down, struggling to shove their feet into boots to stare at. Toddler heaven.

I hate going to DSW with Nathan. Because there are loads of shoes, all within toddler reach and there are aisles to run down, mirrors to breathe on and people sitting down, struggling to shove their feet into boots to stare at. Mommy purgatory.

But I had a coupon that expired today. So we went and I headed straight for the clearance racks, as usual, and put the child down to consider a pair of overly-priced-even-on-clearance-but-they're-Michael-Kors-so-I-love-them heels. My son immediately walked over to a box, pulled out two matching shoes, walked back over to me and chucked them at my feet. Two Nine West brown leather, closed-toed pumps. On clearance from $80 to $20. He grinned. I grinned back.

Finally something we can agree on.

With the two coupons I had, the shoes were five dollars. Total. And to add blessing to good fortune, I walked out of that store with two pairs of heels, one pair of Steve Madden socks (all my socks are developing holes) and one pair of lavender tights for twenty dollars. Total.

It doesn't surprise me that God answers my prayers, especially one as (pathetically) oft-repeated as this. And it really shouldn't surprise me that he answers prayers through my son. After all, despite my threats of selling him on ebay, Nathan is an answer to a year and a half of heart-felt prayer, himself.

It is exceedingly appropriate, however, that the answer to my prayers was chucked at me by my 15-month-old son. Literally.

That's so us.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Don't Have Kids

Jon loves being a dad. I get told all the time by spouses of pilots he's deployed with that he pretty much goes around proselytizing for parenthood. Which is really sweet. It warms my heart to see and hear how much he loves his family.

This is what Jon missed yesterday on our trip to Salt Lake City. This is the sort of thing that dampens spirits and makes people want to have their tubes tied. This is why I don't push my friends to have kids.

Traveling alone with a toddler is a very brave thing to do and I, therefore, am a brave woman. I packed very light, I had my brother purchase a car seat on his end, so I wouldn't have to check one and I bought a small umbrella stroller that I could check at the gate. I am brave and I am a savvy traveler. I am not, however, smart, because I did, after all, travel with a toddler by myself.

The first flight was fine. No real problems or anything. It was pretty much the same level of stress as taking a toddler to Costco and purchasing large items. Not fun, but not bad enough to make me avoid it. We landed, unruffled, in Phoenix, where we ate and I chased Nate all over the airport, hoping it would wear him out.

He was, indeed worn out and for the first forty minutes of the flight, he slept like a sweet little blonde angel with rosy cheeks and striped socks. If I could stop the movie there, you all would run to your spouses and beg for babies.

But, then, he woke up.

"But, then" is like the fine print on an "As Seen on TV" special.

He woke up a little off and started to cry, which soon turned to a scream. Screaming isn't fun, but it's totally doable. THEN he started to thrash. And kick and WAIL and SCREAM ('scream' and "SCREAM" do not mean the same thing). I am not kidding when I say I have never seen a child act the way Nathan proceeded to act for the remainder of the flight. It was like trying to hold an angry, rabid wolverine. On steroids. With a thorn in it's eye.

My child thrashed and arched his back and screamed and SCREAMED and turned in thrashing circles in my lap, trying to escape something like it was burning him. I had no idea a human being could act like that. The whole plane was either concerned or penciling, "Get Sterilized" into their day planners. I had the guy next to me offering to help, people in front of and behind me offering help, THREE stewardesses at ONCE standing at our row, asking questions, offering wet paper towels, food from first class and asking on on earth they could do to help.

It really was horrible. Purgatory is here on earth. It's called parenthood and I just made up for 26 years worth of sin.

I may not be smart, but I still think I'm brave and travel savvy. And I'm awfully good at pretending to be cool and collected. I stayed calm the entire 40 minutes he had his fit and I calmly walked off the plane (he had stopped crying from pure exhaustion by then) and collected our things and picked up our luggage at baggage claim and layered my wolverine for the cold weather and waited outside for my brother and only let out a few choice words when it took me 20 minutes to install the carseat and made it back to eat dinner and go to bed by 9:30, San Diego time. But when I wrote my "this is how things went" email to Jon, I cried. Because I only pretend to be calm.

Which is all to say, whatever you may hear from my husband, do not have children. A purgatory sentence is best served off a commercial airplane.

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Billy Goat Gruff

Recently Nathan has been trying to climb onto things. His little-boy-ness is so innate. Like climbing, for instance. In the past 2 weeks, I've looked over from the stove to see Nate with a desperate grip on the other side of a kitchen chair, grunting like an over-burdened ox and trying to heave his body up. In my infinite wisdom, I let him struggle. Not for his character's sake, but rather for my sanity, because I knew that once he could climb, it was all over... again... like when he started to walk.

The other day, I heard the familiar scrape of a chair being pulled out from under the kitchen table and the ox-grunts as he tried to climb, but when silence ensued, I looked up and he was standing on the chair, grinning like a fool at his mother as if to say, "Look what I did, Sucker!"

He then, being a newly established Billy Goat, proceeded to climb on top of the kitchen table.

In my infinite wisdom, I choose to empty the table of fragile items first, instead of hauling him to the floor, because I knew he would just climb back up while I was saving my hoard of breakables, that were up there for the sole purpose of being out of his reach. I got most of them and as I was going to grab the last one - a vase wrapped in paper - my own dear godzilla, destroyer of all that is good and holy, grabbed the corner of the paper and unrolled the glass vase onto the floor, where it shattered.

It wasn't even my vase.

And it was a special order.

Sometimes I get to this point in the story and I can't decide on the next line. A sentence is never enough to express my feelings, which are usually a mix of exhaustion, extreme exasperation and a tiny bit of hidden affection. He may be a horrible rotten monster who destroyed my body and is slowly chipping away at my sanity with his Billy Goat hooves, but he's my rotten monster. And for some unknown reason, I have a hard time being mad when he grins at me so endearingly with each new dangerous accomplishment.

Which is why babies have survived to this day. If they hadn't learned to grin before they were two, the human race would be extinct. And if we were extinct, there would be no one to feed Henry.

Therefore, God was not only looking out for the future of the human race when he programmed "smile" as one of the first learned tasks, but also for large yellow labs.

So I have a vase to replace.

And such is life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Haiku #1

Studying at night
The dog yawns at my hard work
"Laziness pays off"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Anorexia Lite

I kind of get girls who struggle with anorexia. I totally understand the need to act out in some way in order to feel in control when my situation is anything but controllable. And at times like these, when the husband is deployed, the baby has become a throw-everything-away-because-trash-cans-are-cool toddler and the toilet breaks and the care needs brakes, I consider the need to control things.

Don't get me wrong, though. I have a complete and utter obsession with food. I don't have the self-control to be anorexic. One look at a chocolate cupcake and I'm done. I read cooking magazines like romance novels. And just like romance novel readers imagine themselves in the arms of the shirtless, rippling-muscled Maximuses in the stories they read, I imagine myself slowly stirring the roux and steadily adding the cheese... maybe a little extra... like a block extra... and baking it for an hour with macaroni and bread crumbs and finally when the anticipation is too great, EATING the divine casserole for all it's worth and basking in the afterglow.

I'm a little hungry just thinking about it and I forgot what I'm writing about.

Okay, but the point is, I've noticed something about myself since the Navy kidnapped Jon. On bad days, when I'm exhausted and it's been rough and I find a toddler shoe in the trash AGAIN while looking for a sippy cup there, because I can't find it and that's where my offspring chooses to hide things, I rebel. Before bed, I survey the damage; it could be dishes in the sink or the remains of what used to be my makeup... and I do nothing about it. Let us be very clear it. It is not the exhaustion that keeps me from washing the dishes or my face. It's rebellion.

I get this little foot-stomp going in my brain and say, "I don't have to put up with it any longer! Too long have the tyrants of toddlerhood and housekeeping and beauty regimes held me under their power, but today I say NO! Yes, watching babies and cleaning house and trying to keep a bad complexion at bay all make perfect sense. But that's the problem. They're right. And rebellion requires a little bid of bad. So TAKE THAT, status quo! I'm NOT washing my FACE TONIGHT!"

After my personal revolutionary riot, I go to bed, feeling quite in control. It's anorexia lite. Act out without severe consequences.

Unless of course cold dish water is considered a severe consequence. Which, in my book, it kind of is. Cold dishwater is a personal pet peeve. Gross. So anorexia of all kinds comes back to bite you in the butt, I suppose. But at least I have a butt, since I never said no to that cupcake.

Have a butt to bite, Choose Anorexia Lite!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Gimme Some Advice

Today Nate got together with his best friend Braydon and they begged for candy at a local shopping center that was hosting a Halloween thing. Jon just sent us these awesome "Thai Boxing" shorts for Nate, so he went as a boxer.

We tried to get some photos before we left. Notice the chucks. Also note that he got abs added with eyeliner for the actual event.
One of the restaurants giving out candy was also handing out fortune cookies. Nate's said, "Many people are seeking you for your sounds advice", which makes me wonder. Do they mean sound as in *shriek* *yell* *holler* or are they referring to advice? Like the time we went to our friend's wedding in September and just as the bride was asked if she takes this man to be her blah blah blah, Nate yelled, "Uh-oh!"
That's probably what they meant.Here he is with abs a bit faded, but still visible. All that candy is totally going to ruin his 6 pack. Maybe he'll learn, "Look both ways before you cross the street".

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Dear Jon Letter

Why write two updates in one evening? Here is an excerpt of tonight's spousely email for your reading pleasure:

Henry won't shut up. He barks ALL the TIME now and he's SO loud and he won't stop when I tell him to and if you get a box in the mail with breathing holes in it, it might not be Nate. It's possible that I've sent the Navy a top-of-the-line alarm system that runs on table scraps. And by runs, I mean walks, because running is past the capacity of this particular model. It's slightly defective. But there's nothing wrong with the volume. This one goes to eleven.

I love you more than I love cold weather, chocolate cake, eyeliner, Henry, massages, boots, throw pillows, Stella Artois, cute undies, umbrellas, our Element, whiskey, clean sheets and cheese... combined... plus 20. Which is to say... a lot.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Look What I Found

This is what over ten pounds of baby looks like, four days late. I'm so glad he made it OUT and a year later looks like this:
The All Stars just melt my Southern California hipster heart.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Obla Dee Obla Da

We have mice. Which I do not approve of.

Correction: I do not approve of mice in my house. Despite Dr. Seussical rhyming, mice do not belong where people live, at least not while they still carry hantavirus. Maybe in heaven they will be disease free and we can contemplate their small furriness and twitching noses without spraying them down with Lysol. Until then, they aren't allowed in my attic.

Which leads to my dilemma. We set up traps and hid some poison up in the attic, away from the Man Child of Destruction and Eating Things That are Not Meant to be Eaten. And the practical side of me is content that the mice will soon be gone.

But the other part of me (not that there are only two parts of me - but these are the only two that pertain to mice) is a little stricken by the idea of killing mice. If perhaps there had been a book about giving a rat a cookie ... or if Beatrix Potter had portrayed mice as evil and not put sweet blue waistcoats on them ... maybe if they had red glowing eyes... I don't know.

I'm not even a vegetarian. But MICE. They're LITTLE. And CUTE. And I can just see the little mouse memorial service for the wayward teenage mouse who was warned against the evils of the trap, but didn't heed. Or the groups of maimed and brain-damaged mice in "Poison Eaters Anonymous". Call me ideological, but it's really hard to be responsible for killing cute things.

If only I needed to cause the death of sharks or snakes or spiders or cockroaches or fire ants (I. hate. fire ants.) or fascist, hairless cats... not that I want any of those to infest my house, but at least I wouldn't mind KILLING them.

But isn't that just the way of viruses? Hiding inside cute things to trick you into catching them? I mean, that's how the common cold gets around. Kids are cute, but when you get down to it, they're mainly just snotty factories of disease and malfeasance. Oh man. I came with that word all on my own, too.

But I didn't know how to spell it, so I had to look it up.

My point is, mice are really cute. And I hope they eat the poison but go off somewhere nice (and away from my attic) to die, so that their last hours are spend by the soft murmur of a peaceful stream.

That would help.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ostriches Make Terrible Parents

It's about time, right?

Some people need to talk issues out, but I typically go all ostrich and bury my head in the sand for a bit while the world careens on around my big exposed butt. Do birds have butts? Tail. My big exposed tail.

All that to say, I'm in Virginia and I'm getting to see people I love and attempting to see more people I love and mostly showing off my adorable offspring (which is not very ostrich of me, because I'm pretty sure ostriches make horrid parents). Nathan had a first birthday party yesterday and will officially turn one on Wednesday, which makes me proud and sad and hungry for cake. He's speaking now, but his only words are "Uh-oh", which was his very first word and of which he is exceedingly proud, and "mama", which doesn't count, because it doesn't mean "mommy", but rather, "I want that", which can refer to food, a toy, the bathtub... or his actual mommy, when he condescends to need me.

The other day I was at Potbellies (the glorious thing about that statement is that I have eaten at Potbellies like 5 times since I've been here (!!!) and I have no idea which time this was) and I was getting ready to leave, packing up diaper bag, purse and baby after tossing the trash. I was feeling efficient and capable, when Nate chucked his sippy cup on the floor. Without skipping a beat (and in that "you think way faster than you move" way), I simultaneously bent over to get the cup without putting the baby down and thought to myself, "I'm so much more agile than my mom or mother in law - they would take longer to bend over to get this". I was SO agile and swift that I smacked Nathans head against a chair next to me. He screeched and commenced wailing. And I was humbled. And decided that grandmothers know what they're doing when they stall before bending over. And also, I am, after all, an ostrich kind of parent.


So don't give up, I'll post birthday pictures soon. And the multitude of Nathan stories will commence. But if you're bored with toddlers and their ostrich mothers, let me know and I'll do something by myself to tell you about. Maybe like a nap.

Now I want chocolate cake and a nap.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

God Exists

I usually reserve serious topics for my journal. It's so much more fun to read things that make you laugh, but I'm going to deviate today. Feel free to skip.

After all that I wrote the other day and all the precious prayers loved ones offered for our tiny baby, we lost the fight. I went in to the doctor's office yesterday and there was no heartbeat. Silence has never been so painful.

I was thinking about it all last night - specifically why we didn't lose the baby right away - why we had to go through weeks of hoping and desperate prayer, all to have the same devastating result. But I've decided if we had to lose our baby, I'd rather it be like this. This child was so loved and so well fought for. Many people were praying and hoping. What better legacy could there be for a life, than to be loved hard and fought for desperately? What a beautiful way to leave and enter the arms of Peace.

We named the baby Jesse. It's suitable for a boy or a girl and it means "God exists" or "Gift". Jesse is a gift. A precious blessing we won't meet for a long time, but probably the only child we will have that will never know pain or suffering. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change..." No pain - only heavenly light.

And God exists. Even in this. Especially in this. When nothing else makes sense and I doubt everything, I can rely on two solid truths: God is big and He is good. Always big. Always good. And that is more than enough for me. I feel the pain. I am heartbroken. I feel so empty where I used to have a life inside. I long for my baby. I ache to tell Jesse how much Jon and I love him or her. But the only one who understands is Big enough to hold me and good enough to cry with me. And He's holding our gift, better and stronger and with more love than I could ever provide. Our baby is safe. With a God who is real.

Thank you, friends, for your prayers for us in these last weeks. God has been gracious to us. He has provided everything we need, often through you. Your support means more than you know and your love is remarkable.

"'Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you"
Isaiah 54:10

Monday, August 22, 2011

When it Rains...

My friend Mari has this phrase that she says and Jon and I say it all the time (I bet you didn't know that, did you, Mari?). When someone is ridiculous or something is stupid, she'll go, "Really? Really?!" The first 'really' sounds innocent and questioning and the second is dripping with sarcasm and half an octave lower. Ever since I experienced it in Pensacola, I have not found a phrase that more adequately fits my reaction to certain scenarios. Which is why I say it all the time.

Well, never has it been more appropriate. Please, pull up a chair and laugh with me at my past 4 weeks, shall we? You know how 'they' say when your husband deploys, everything will go wrong? Keep that in mind. You know how 'they' also say, "Go big or go home"? I'd rather go home, thank you very much.

Right before Jon leaves, I am finishing up a biostatistics class that I've been stressing about for a while. Right after he leaves I have the final exam. Right before he leaves we find out I'm pregnant (Exciting? yes. Planned? no. Overwhelmed? You bet your lily white!) Jon is due to make it back a month before the birth. That's nice of the Navy.

Right after Jon leaves, I start to hemorrhage. I never spell that word correctly. I always have to spell check it after three tries or so. But I go to the ER on Sunday, the nurse's office Tuesday, back to the ER again on Wednesday (more bleeding) and finally Wednesday afternoon, after two ER docs can neither confirm nor deny that the baby is okay, my OB spots a heartbeat. Relief floods. Then he tells me, the heartbeat is a little weak and let's just hold our breath, shall we? The following Tuesday (last Tuesday to be precise), I go back and the baby is doing great - growing and has a nice healthy heart beat. Oh but wait - there's pooled blood in my uterus. Up to the big ultrasound techs I go. Talk to the doc. Let's hope it absorbs.

Meanwhile, my momma flies out (GOD bless her!) because I was on home rest. What? Yes. that's bed rest without the bed. I think. No walks for Henry. No vacuuming. No anything that makes me feel useful. My mom and Mother in Law trade places taking care of Nathan and the laundry and the kitchen (etc) while I sit on my butt, going nuts because I hate having other people clean my house. But it's worth it.

I go back in tomorrow for more doc talk and my dad will fly out to help and will fly me and Nate back to VA for a month for some weddings and birthdays and lots of Potbellies.

Meanwhile, Henry has been getting into the trash and being kind of bad all of the sudden and Nate refuses to eat carbs or veggies or protein (that leaves fruit)... probably all because Jon is gone.

So TODAY, the friend that was going to stay and house sit and watch Henry had to back out... a week before we leave. That was fun. God provided, though, and I got another friend (I LOVE YOU REBEKAH CARTER!) to live here and take care of him. I have to give credit where it's due. God freakin' worked that one.

So when they say, "when your husband deploys, everything goes wrong", "They" have much wisdom.

But I hate them.

For being right.

I just want to turn to the universe and say, "Really? Really?!"

Saturday, August 6, 2011

It's Just That With Jon Being Gone, Nothing Funny Happens

But here are some smile-worthy things. Old pictures that I was looking through (I'm printing some to frame... we have not one framed picture of our son in our entire house... yikes).

Note the name of the beer is "Loose Cannon". How appropriate.

Uncle Andy
Poor tortured kid.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Back Home

I get weekly emails from Babycenter about the progress my child should have made by month and week. This week, it said I should consider vacuuming regularly at this stage, since he's probably going to try to put things in his mouth.

I'm not sure how I feel about baby center calling me out on my cleaning habits. You don't know me. You haven't seen my carpets.

Also, Nate is trying to walk. Here he is a couple days ago. Note the T-rex arms.

Here he is last night way past his bedtime, so he's giddy. Which means he's braver and more willing to try walking, but absolutely void of the will to balance. Nathan Reckless Butterfield.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go vacuum.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

How to Paint Your Nails... Mommy Style

Step one. Prime the suckers.

Apply base coat a couple minutes before you leave to run errands. It dries fast and if it gets smudged it doesn't matter.

Step two. Load the sucker.

Put the kiddo in the car and anything else you need for errands, then put your first coat of color on, wave your hands like you just don't care and get in. Alternate hands in front of the air conditioner vent while driving to the post office. Realize when you see something fly off your car that you left the bottle of nail polish and the package for the post office up there before you took off.

Retrace steps and be impressed that nail polish bottles survive flying off cars at 20 miles per hour.

Step three. Repeat.

Mail the package, reload the sucker in his car seat and apply coat #2. Repeat air conditioning drying aid while you drive to the library.

Step four. Repeat.

Return books, wait a long time to talk to the gal you need to talk to, reload the sucker in his car seat and apply the top coat right before you get in. But realize you left the top coat at home. Never mind... you managed to smudge your thumb anyhow. And said sucker bit your finger and smudged that nail, too.

Step five. Give up.

Go home, pour a glass of wine and decide you don't need lacquered nails to be pretty. You're not a woman, you're a mom. Paint your toes instead.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Neighborhood

Our neighborhood has an annual yard sale. That means hundreds of garages open for business within stroller-distance. I love a good deal and this year did not disappoint.

We got a Pottery Barn outdoor table for $40 (I found a similar one for sale new for close to $1000). With two hours worth of sanding and refinishing, Jon has it looking like we paid every bit as much as the comparable one online.
Total investment, with wood sealer included was $53.
Because we never carry cash, once we found the table, I PROMISED the woman selling it I'd be back with the money asap, if she would just hold it for me. We ran to the ATM and Starbucks, which was very crowded. When I finally got up to the counter, I ordered Jon's drink but got a venti, because, as I explained to the cashier, I could just sip off of his and I didn't have time to wait for them to make me my own, because we had to get back to this yard sale to buy a table for our patio.

And it hit me how very suburban mom I am.

How very mini-van I am.


We also scored a Bob Ironman jogging stroller, which retails for $365 for $20... (*cough* soccer mom)...

It's a little beat up, but the idea is to run fast enough that no one can tell. Just me and the blur of yellow swiftiness I'm pushing along.

Jon managed to get rid of the huge nasty green chair by putting it out for free.

Our attempt to do the same with Nathan was not successful.

Maybe they read my blog.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Is He Eighteen Yet?

People who read this blog and don't have children are going to pray to God for girls.

The problem with me (the only one) is that when my blood sugar gets low, I go psycho. I'm mean, I cry, I can't think clearly and I become convinced of things that don't make sense. When well-fed, I am eternally patient and logical and stuff, but forget to feed me and it's on your head.

Which is to say, I didn't get breakfast today. Or lunch, really (I tried to eat leftovers, but as always happens, Nathan was eating lunch and ate my food as well as his.) So when I was trying to do the dishes at 1 something, you can't blame me for letting Nathan play with the screen door, which sticks out a little from the door frame, leaving a couple inches of gap open to the front porch. Just enough for tiny arms to fit through. I imagine it would be a little unnerving to be walking by and notice tiny arms grabbing at the bricks and front mat, out from under the door. Nevertheless, It keeps him entertained and there's no harm in a front stoop, right?

So I washed and every 15 seconds (maybe every 25 seconds), I looked over to make sure he hadn't gone elsewhere. When he got bored and crawled over towards the dog's water bowl, I stopped him in plenty of time, only to notice he'd dragged in a funny looking leaf with him. Upon closer inspection, I realized (I cannot describe my horror) that it was the thorax of a particularly dead cockroach. It's legs and head were missing.

Poor Nathan. I grabbed him so fast and shoved my fingers in his mouth (at no other time would I ever willingly search a dark cavity for cockroach parts). I pulled out a leg.

Dry Heave.

My son ate a cockroach. This is SO much worse than the time he ate the spider. It was funny when he ate the spider. Cockroaches are never funny.

Imagine my face all screwed up and grimacing and nauseous. That's what I look like as I write this post. It gets even more grimacy with every "cockroach" that I type.

Does it make me less of a horrible, failure of a mother that I feel sick to my stomach about it?

MOST moms can leave their eyes off their 9 month-old for more than twelve seconds without said baby consuming a bug.

While sitting in the pharmacy last week, waiting for a couple prescriptions for the Bridge Troll, I chatted with an older Marine about having sons. He paused and said, "So... do you like being a mother?"

I don't suppose that it's such a strange question, but I delayed answering as I thought about the 104-degree fever and the emergency room visit three days prior, of the rash that brought me back to the doctor and had me sitting, waiting for medicine. I thought about how both times he's teethed, he pushed two teeth out at once, making everyone miserable. I thought about the spider. The way he glories in trying to eat dog food and splashing Henry's water all over the floor.

My answer is this. I don't necessarily love being a mom. I mean... I used to have things like sleep and manicured nails (well I could have) and time to read books. But I love being Nathan's mom. I love the way he grabs my shirt and shoves his face into my shoulder, giggling ferociously when his daddy makes faces at him. I love how he greets me, standing in his crib, grinning like a maniac when he wakes up. I love how he stands naked, peering into the tub, waiting for me to let him in to the water for bathtime.

I thought about changing the blog name to "Chaos" or "Bridge Troll Diaries", because I only ever write about the chaos that Godzilla Jr. brings to our lives, but I think the name fits. There goes the neighborhood. There goes the white picket fence, the clean floor and the bathing-suit body.

Here comes Nathan.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

He is My Child After All

Because we live in San Diego (you know what's next... I'm going to talk about the weather. That's always where, "Because we live in San Diego" is going...)

Because we live in San Diego, it's been in the seventies and sunny. In an attempt to look like I live in San Diego and not Fargo, I put on some shorts and laid a blanket in the back yard, carefully arranging lawn chairs and draping a blanket to provide shade for the baby, and we headed out to bask. I brought a cookbook, because I read them like novels.

And like novels, they fascinate me and distract me from the fact that my son is pulling up the grass by the roots and eating it.

As if our grass stood a chance without his help. I barely water anything.

Once I did look up from the page on Coeur a la Creme with Raspberries (I know you're about to google it, so let me save you the trouble... here and here)... so once I looked up and noticed my ruminating offspring, I grabbed a basil leaf from the garden for him to chew instead. The first one I picked had a spider on it and despite the fact that he's an experienced spider-eater, I threw it away and got him a clean one.

He loved it.

He may be blonde and have blue eyes, but he loves basil. He is my Italian son.

When we were in Bolivia, building an orphanage (which means, when we were in Bolivia, trying to keep up with the Bolivians who were building an orphanage), the construction workers chewed Coca leaves... as in Cocaine. It was addicting, but they did it because it kept them from feeling hungry, since they couldn't afford food for lunch.

That's kind of depressing now that I type it. But as we were leaving the airport, we peered into the giftshop, where a shirt read, "Coca es no droga" (Cocaine isn't a drug). As if that wasn't funny enough, the only person on duty in the Drug Control room was asleep when we passed.

I see, South America. It all makes sense now.

Basil. Coca leaves for babies.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


We had these friends in Pensacola (don't worry - it's not you, otherwise I wouldn't put it on the blog) who were total One-Uppers. If we had a funny college story, they had a funnier one. If we had a good recipe, they had a better one. They once stopped me in the middle of cutting onions while making dinner for them because I wasn't doing it right. Then finished cutting them for me. The "correct" way.


Anyway, Jon and I really don't like to hang out with that sort of crowd, but the truth is, we're closet One-Uppers.

When we were trying to get pregnant it seemed that everyone else was getting knocked up and we weren't. It was frustrating, to say the least. Then Matt and Ann (our wonderful brother and sister-in-law) announced they were having a baby. Then we found out she was a girl. Paul and Kristyn (cousins-in-law) were also having a girl, so when we found out we, too, were pregnant, we determined to have a boy. If we were going to be last, we were going to be different.

He was a boy, indeed. So when Ann and Kristyn gave birth to two sweet, 7 pound something babies, we determined to have a larger one (note: I was thinking like 8 pounds).

Skip ahead to labor day. Not the holiday, but they day I was in labor for 21 hours and had a C-section despite it all. As the doctors were wheeling me into the recovery room and I was wondering if I was ever going to be able to move my toes again, I looked up to Jon's triumphant grin as he yelled, "TEN POUNDS, ONE OUNCE!"

Once again, we had successfully one-upped.

I say all that to say this: Sadly, Nathan has inherited our One-Upping Gene. Evidenced in the post about those Jeans.

When normal babies suck on pacifiers like... well... normal babies, Nathan sucks on the whole darn thing. At once.

Par example:
That is an entire Soothie pacifier, shoved all the way in his big ole trap.

He's pretty pleased about it, too. (Even though it appears that Henry has had enough and is eating his head.)

And if you were about to get excited that maybe that mouthful of Paci might be keeping some of the drool in, you needn't:
Drool always finds a way.

In fact, there's so much room in there, notwithstanding the paci, he started trying to shove some of my hair in too:
He is gifted. Not in intelligence or agility like his little girl cousins, who have hit all their milestones much before our lumberjack, but rather in boy things. Like showing off how very much he can shove in his mouth at once.

I'm going to be the mom who gets the phone calls in elementary school that my son is on his way to the emergency room with an eraser/rock/locker shoved up his nose.

And I'm going to regret passing on that gene.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today Nathan Ate a Spider

The child is teething. He has cut one tooth and is working (violently and with much angst) on the second. Coincidentally, he has a cold.

There is no rest for the weary.

(I'm talking about me.)

So this morning, while his just-got-back-from-a-month-long-work-up Dad was on the ship, making sure fire doesn't destroy the helo (or something like that), Nate and I skipped church and were playing at the coffee table. He's just learning to pull himself up and it's a lot of exercise for the both of us while he figures it out.

Nathan has Go-go-gadget arms. Their reach is longer than their length.

I had moved most everything out of his way.

Perhaps a half hour before all this, I'd seen a tiny (TINY) spider crawling on the coffee table and debated killing it. Why should I? It was too small to bite anybody and I kill every other spider, so why not leave one? Anyway, I smooshed it with a tiny-spider-sized scrap of paper.

You can see where this is going.

In one of his various chin-ups, he landed on the floor and started fussing. When I picked him up, I realized he had a tiny-spider-sized scrap of paper in his mouth. I pulled the sopping piece out and looked for the smooshed spider, which was, of course, missing.

So Nathan ate a spider today.

Unfortunately, it seems to have had no positive homeopathic effects on his teething pain.

Maybe crickets?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Power Struggle

The two puppies are fighting over Henry's bone...

One puppy gives up and goes for the evidence...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From Now Until Maternity

Gluttony is okay when it's that or... oh I don't know... selling your son on Craigslist because he's decided to boycott sleep.

Because let's face it. When gluttony was listed with really bad things like murder and wearing white after labor day, the church hadn't taken deployment into consideration, which turns otherwise rational, mild-mannered mommies into Temporarily Single Mommies. And single parents have a free pass when it comes to gluttony.

Because they're tired and they could be selling their children on Craigslist, which, let's be honest, results in a much longer purgatory sentence.

I remember a conversation in college where I responded sensitively to a friend who was expressing how tired she was because her newborn daughter kept her up all night by saying, "Well, at least being up all night helps burn off baby weight, right?"

Oh yes. I am that sensitive.

She replied that it did not, because if she was up, she was hungry and snacked. So she gained more weight.

I'm not sure that I agree, however. I think that the stress of being woken up from peaceful dreams of watching your children go off to college to the jarring reality of trying to comfort an infant whose only problem is boredom is stressful enough to burn extra calories (I assume that little life experience leads to boring dreams. I have no proof, but it explains so much).

Which also makes gluttony acceptable. In fact, I believe it changes the nature of the beast, so that overeating is no longer gluttony, but survival.

Survival. Do it for your kids.

Or do it because of them.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lawn Saga 23

The grass still grows and I still have to mow the weeds.

Yesterday I had a squadron wives meeting at the house, so I had to pretend to be put-together, which includes having some sort of control over the backyard. I knew I could artfully place the curtains so that I wouldn't have to mow the entire lawn, but I still had to mow the visible and Nathan was not asleep.

So I stuck him in laundry basket with some toys and sat him next to Henry on the patio.He did great. He looked up every so often to make sure I was still pushing around the noisy thing and chewed on stuff the rest of the time. He even threw a toy overboard.

The curtain trick, by the by, did great too. I'm going to have to mow the rest of the lawn sometime, but not today. Today I make amends to my son for sticking him in a laundry basket on the back patio like a redneck woman from lower Alabama.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Elegance Rather Than Luxury

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common - this is my symphony.

William Henry Channing

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

God and Nacho Cheese

Nathan's reaction to low-calorie food

When I get to heaven, God's not going to have an awful lot to say about me... I'm not going to get one of the Patient or Generous or Kind prizes. Heck, I'm not even up for Most Improved (which always goes to the kid who didn't qualify for anything else). What He can say for me, however, is that I was grateful for my food.

I don't mean grateful in an "I once was starving and now I'm well-fed" way. It's more like, "I am truly giddy that you have provided for me with cheese and chocolate cake" way. It may be less moving, but BOY do I get excited about food. My pre-meal prayers tend to be heart-felt and full of enthusiasm.

With that understanding of my spiritual motivation behind us, you will no doubt understand how very thrilled... elated... I was when Taco Bell improved upon their Double Decker (which was almost perfect, already) by adding nacho cheese to the fatty fatty refried beans.
Praise. God. for Nacho Cheese.

It will be in heaven, with every single calorie and trans-fat that it represents. And maybe more. Because we all know that calories taste good. If a food item has 3 calories, it doesn't taste very good, but if it has 3000 (Bloomin' Onion, anyone?), it's delicious. Preservatives can ruin raw calorie flavor, but this really complicates the "more calories, more flavor" rule. That's why places like McDonalds and Chili's aren't very tasty, despite their high calories.

But Nacho Cheese cancels out preservatives, so Taco Bell is still okay.

All that to say, go to Taco Bell, eat that hydrogenated, trans-fatty, 89 cent-per-taco goodness and tell me it doesn't make you want to bow your sinner's head and PRAISE the LORD.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Good. Lord.

And I do mean, Good Lord.
The Good Lord has been working overtime since Nate was born. This chair is supposed to contain him with its seat belt, not enable him to bungee jump for dropped toys. I found him like this. I had left the room (but carefully buckled him in beforehand) to get my shoes and when I got back, he was upside-down and grunting, trying to pick up his toy.

Being the good mother I am, I took a couple pictures before righting him. I took these on my phone though, so pardon the graininess.

Once more, with both hands:

I might be in need of a nanny.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Blog is Like a Box of Chocolates

... and I bet you wish you knew what you were gonna get


My other half (the lawn-mowing, trash-toting, oil-changing half) is still in Nevada, so I'm still in charge of the outdoor portions of home. Nevada is the middle of nowhere. More on that later.

Unfortunately grass continues to grow after you cut it once. San Diego has also been quite rainy. Which (thank you, First Grade) makes grass grow faster. I've been avoiding it all, but today Jon called and let me know that he would be leaving a week earlier and gone a week longer on the next work-up than previously planned.

Since 'The Navy' is unlisted in the phone book, I attacked the lawn.

Well I tried.

I located the weed wacker and successfully turned it on for... 20 seconds. I think it needs more line. I don't know why it stopped. Henry walked outside as I was heading towards the lawnmower, my Plan B. "I'm a lawn guru," I told him out loud.

strut. strut.

I turned it on and started to push towards the grass when a BIG lizard ran out from underneath. I screamed and ran away.

('guru' is a loose term.)

I mowed the front but only like three swipes of the back yard.

The overgrown tomato plant got ripped out of the garden and lavender and chives joined the rosemary and romaine lettuce in its place. We'll see about all that. This was successfully done with no breakage or screaming. Except for the lettuce leaves I accidentally broke off. And the plant I inadvertently ripped out with the tomato.

I should stick to housework.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Therin Lies the Problem

When the husband is deployed, even if only for a month-long training, life goes on.
The sugar snap peas grow

The child grows

The grass turns into a Jungle of Amazonian proportions so that indigenous dogs must make pathways through the foliage just to do their business. A Jungle where ladybugs sway on the tops of tall grasses, two feet or more above the ground. A Jungle that rivals the chaos of the tomato garden.

In such a case... where domesticated backyard grows afoul, the temporarily-single, mild-mannered housewife must cry with Lady Macbeth, "Un-sex me!", a cry for the gentle nature of woman to turn hard and masculine in order to complete the work at hand.

(Although, unlike M'lady, I am not going to murder anyone. Just mow the lawn.)

I quoted Mrs. Macbeth as I grunted and sweated, the lawnmower becoming an extension of my arms as I hacked at the overgrown tangle of green. Ladybugs flew away in confusion (Ladybugs, it seems, procrastinate and would not survive any sudden form disaster, as they need the shaking of the grassy stalk they're resting on in order to feel the need to retreat.), weeds screamed as they were mown down, Nate screamed as he sat in his chair, frightened by the roar of the lawnmower (our neighbor came over and rescued him after a bit) (Apparently, temporary men make terrible mothers).

Here is the lawnmower posing with the last of the Jungle, which looks tame compared with the before picture above.

After finally mastering the Jungle, I quickly threw Shakespeare away and turned straight back into a woman, desperate for a shower and some chocolate.

"Woman, King of the Jungle", sponsored by the Navy and coming soon to a deployment near you.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Best. Costume. Ever.

Three years from now, expect to see Nate in this... with brown hair, for Pete's sake.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Mailman

My son has blue eyes and...sigh... light hair. I can't type "blonde". I can't. It's light brown. At the nail salon the other day, the Vietnamese women fawned over him, asking if he wanted a pedicure, what is name was... if his daddy had blue eyes.

No... his daddy has green/brown eyes... just like me.

What about his blonde hair? Does his daddy have blonde hair?

No... his daddy's hair is brown... like mine.


I felt compelled to defend myself.

Our mailman, I explained, is Filipino. So no need to worry there.

But in all seriousness, how did these two:
Make THIS baby:
Good thing he looks like his daddy's baby pictures.

Because the milkman is blonde.


Apparently we're not normal.
I left Nathan on top of his blanket and when I returned minutes later, his blanket was on top of him. Impressively, with the correct side up. Misuse of blanket.
Henry rests his head, and his toys in Nathan's seat. Perhaps he's playing house. Misuse of Bumbo.

Most heinous of all, I put my son in a girl's coat to see how it would fit his girl cousin. Misuse of baby. Big time.