Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Today I Took a Shower While My Children Cried. A Love Letter.

Dear Jon,

We've been married for over five years, so naturally we are totally over all that romantic crap like love letters. But what the heck. I figure we can bring it back, since you're deployed and all. And because you have nice legs. So here goes. A love letter. For you.

Nate has been throwing LOTS of tantrums lately. I've called my parents yelling and/or crying more times than I want to admit to someone whose job it is to fly a 45 million-dollar helicopter through the night. Yesterday, my mom assured me, "No, Bek, he's not a psychopath... he's TWO" for a good twenty minutes while Nathan sat pantless on the toilet, screaming his face off. I wish I could give you some background as to why that tantrum happened... and why it started on the TOILET of all places, but I'm as mystified as you are, Dear. He asked me to take him to the bathroom and for help with his pants and as soon as I put him on the toilet, he started wailing like a Chicken Fil-A cow at McDonalds. Sunday I stood, shaking and ready to sell my ovaries to the highest bidder, in the parking lot at church while your son arched his back and screamed like a ... psychopath... trying to ignore the appalled glances and sympathetic smiles from passers by. It took me 15 minutes and more patience than I have to even get him buckled into his car seat. Not to mention the hauling through the parking lot to the car with him under one arm and Evelyn sleeping happily in a sling while Nate bansheed it up. Or the drive home. Or the continuance of the tantrum once we got there. Or the daily mini tantrums we have. Every night I put him to bed and pray with him  for obedience and self-control.

I also pray for him sometimes.

I keep having moments in training our strong-willed son that make me want to call all of my friends who haven't had kids yet and congratulate them on their excellent life decisions.

The truth is, though, I like our kids enough to put up with wolverine tantrums. And that's a lot of love. When there's no screaming, I'm downright in love with the little sinners. So when you get home and your family is alive and healthy, no members of which having been sold into slavery, I do believe you will understand. Not because a more patient, loving person couldn't have done this job of mine better and with grace (and without complaint on a public forum), but because it's me. You already know my crazy. And I'm showing deployment whose BOSS with the help of family and friends and Stella Artois. So this is my love letter to you. I love you so much that I love your kids. Enough to not ship them to you with my letter of resignation. Enough to consider a homecoming gift for you that doesn't start with hyster- and end in -echtomy. Enough to give you a love letter that takes the time of two back-to-back deployments to write and looks like two tiny, smiling faces when your plane lands and you see us waiting for you.

Just know that a lesser man would have gotten a screaming box (with holes punched for air and cracker crumbs falling out) in the mail months ago. But because you are kind and strong and so good to us and you love us with every single part of your being, we love you, too. And because I love you, I'm writing this letter. It's a long one, but you're worth it.

Love, your wife.

PS... I really did take a shower while they cried, but Nate was being banished to his room for a rebellious revolution of the French degree and Evelyn was soon soothed to sleep by his wails, so I felt it justified the neglect. So... you're welcome...?

Friday, November 30, 2012

And Then There Were Four

I am wearing just my wedding band as I type this. I had to take off my engagement ring before I went to the hospital for the C-Section and I left on my wedding band in hopes that they would let me wear it into surgery, so that Jon would be there with me in some small way. It's been two and a half weeks, but I keep forgetting to put my diamond back on. I've been up a lot at night.

They even didn't let me wear the ring. I make jokes when I'm nervous and having a baby cut out of me without Jon makes me nervous, so I was cracking up the whole operating room. I'm a hilarious terrified person. Truth is, C-Sections scare the crap out of me. I become convinced that something will go wrong and my precious baby won't be alright. That the room will go silent and no one will tell me why. It's not really rational, but that's what comes of the unhealthy habit of putting off fears instead of facing them when they occur. They all smother you when you can't put them off anymore and your arms are strapped to a table and your baby's life is in the hands of someone else who raises goats in his spare time. No joke. My doctor is awesome. He raises goats. I even joked about it during the surgery. (I was nervous.)

While I was trying to figure out how the smell of the alcohol swab the anesthesiologist put in my oxygen mask took my nausea away, the doctor said, "Oh! She's breech! When did that happen?" Then, over the sheet he asked me, "She wasn't breech, was she?" and I tried to figure out if that's bad in a C-Section, but it was followed by, "It's okay, Just grab her behind the knees like this..." and a few moments later, the most beautiful sound in the world - a healthy (angry) baby wail - filled the operating room. Everything - the stress of finishing my stupid degree before this moment, the pain of not having my husband to hold my hand, the fear that something would go wrong - it all dissipated, showing its weight by its absence and tears of relief and joy rolled down my face, because she was okay. I could have bled out on the table right then for all I cared, but she was okay and the tech said she's so long and look at those feet and I couldn't see her, but it didn't matter, because she was okay. They brought her over and I managed to turn my head enough to kiss the face I could only really half see but already loved more than I could ever speak. She's okay. She's perfect.

Evelyn Kate Butterfield. 8 pounds, 5 ounces. 21 1/2 inches long. Born at 9:10 am on Tuesday, November 13th. And perfect.

Jon called his mom from the ship. She was waiting in recovery with Evelyn while I was still in the operating room, and he got to hear his little girl cry. The same cry that told me everything was okay reassured her daddy as well.

Phone calls can be disappointing during a deployment. What I want is to snuggle into Jon's voice and stay there in its comfort the way I would put on a cozy sweater and curl up on the couch. In reality, phone calls are like trying a sweater on in the store. You can feel how comfortable it is, but you can't receive the full measure of comfort from it, because it's borrowed. It isn't yours yet. It just fuels the longing to really, truly own it.

But this phone call with the newborn, healthy cry was different. It relieved all the pent up worry that something would go wrong and he wouldn't be there to hold my hand. It answered the countless prayers he'd sent up throughout his days flying and studying and eating crappy ship food that God would watch out for his family when he couldn't be there to see how tiny she was. And it reassured him that we were okay. It didn't matter that he'd been up late night after night and it wasn't so bad that he couldn't be there in this moment, because we were okay. I got to talk to him half an hour later, ring back on my finger, and we shared relief and thanks to a good God. It's hard doing things like that over the phone, but in that moment, there was mostly joy.

Evelyn Kate, you are so deeply loved. And we are so intensely grateful for you. "Evelyn" means "life" and Kate means, "pure". You are pure life, sweet girl, from your healthy cries to your wide, observant eyes, you represent the joy of life to us. Welcome.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sasquatch Wears Makeup

Obviously when Jon is gone there are beauty routines that just don't get much attention. Saturdays are the only days I don't have to wear makeup, so unless we have somewhere to go, I usually slub around, barefaced, in work-out clothes that never get to participate in actual exercise.

Poor things. They probably had high hopes of being owned by my sister, who is totally in shape and adorable whenever she works out. But instead, they got me. Fatty McPreggers with not an ounce of energy to even inspire a visit to the gym.

Anyway, I don't shave my legs as often as I do when the husband is home and with cooler weather coming (I'm keeping my fingers crossed), and with my belly obscuring my view of my legs more and more each day, pretty soon I won't have to shave much at all. When you think about it, I'm growing rounder and larger everyday and with my legs becoming less and less ... groomed... there may be reports of Sasquatch sightings in San Diego in the upcoming months.

But today I had church and a baby shower, so I was in the process of applying my war paint when Nate walked in to the bathroom. He steals deodorant, make-up, hair brushes, etc., so when I am getting ready, I have to keep all the supplies pushed as far back on the counter as possible and run interference with my hips. He had grabbed something - deodorant I think - which has not turned out well in the past. (Our only poison-control call concerned a small child consuming a stick of deodorant). So I traded him for a tiny tube of clear mascara, assuming that he wouldn't be able to open it. In addition to larger and hairier, I appear to be getting stupider. Yet another Sasquatch qualification.

He left the bathroom, talking to himself, pleased with his contraband and I continued to put on my face, listening to his happy jabbering, "Henry!"... "Henry... Eyes!" As I was musing on how nice it is to listen to contented toddler talk, it occurred to me that 'Henry' and 'Eyes' in the same sentence might necessitate a quick check. I peeked my head out to see Nathan with mascara in one hand and the applicator in the other, poking at Henry's reluctant eyelashes. "What a smart and observant child to know precisely what to do with a mascara wand," I mused as I lunged at him, hollering, "NO!" He squealed with delight at the commencement of a chase and ran, wand and tube held high over his head, into the living room, chortling. I prayed, as I often do during a "give-that-back-to-me--no-I-will-not" race, that he wouldn't fall and get a wand-full of mascara/fork/stiletto to the eye. He did not, thank God.

As a side note, when I get to heaven and God pulls out the list of my most frequent prayers, my number one will not, as you might suspect, be, "Please, oh please, let there be chocolate cake at this function," but, instead, "Please make that child go to sleep" and "Don't let him get hurt doing that!" in no particular order. But the latter will mostly be in all caps.

I caught him and took the mascara back. To his credit, there was little to no fussing. But episodes like this make me wonder. If he's SO observant and brilliant at noticing the precise way I do certain things - like apply makeup - why does he never take notice and emulate the things I WANT him to do? Like *not* hitting the coffee table repeatedly with a spoon and *not* jumping off the coffee table onto my pregnant, couch-ridden belly and *not* applying yogurt to Henry's ears, to name a few examples.

I'm going to start pulling out my makeup and, when he's present, saying to myself, "No, I will not touch this, I'm going to put it back in the drawer and then go and thank Mommy for being such a terrific parent."

I don't have very high hopes for the results, but it's worth a try.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Every night before I go to bed, Henry and I have the exact same routine. I don't want him to wake me up at 3am to let him out, but he's not super willing to leave Jon's pillow, where he is inevitably sleeping peacefully, and walk all the way outside, so I say, "Henry! What is it? Who is it? Go see!" and because he thinks someone is attacking the house, he jumps up with a rumbling growl and races out the open back door to bark like the world is ending. When he's done, he uses the facilities. This happens every single night and Henry has not once caught on that there is never actually a cause for alarm. He must think that burglars are particularly OCD about timing, but by barking his furry face off, he keeps them away.

Good boy, Henry. I support you.


Nathan is obviously the funniest kid yet born. He is, perhaps, one of the most hyperactive and rotten kids, yes, but also the funniest. Lately, when I ask him what he wants to do or where he wants to go, he gets super serious, crosses his arms over his chest like a disappointed boss and says, "Umm.... Elmo." Every time. Even when he's half asleep. It cracks me up. Sometimes he says, "Ummm.... eat" when I ask him what he wants to do, but "Elmo" is always where he wants to go. Life is so much simpler as a toddler. You don't have to make sense and people love it.


I have a friend with whom I haven't spoken in a good number of years who is getting married. I was not invited (I mean, we haven't spoken in years, so I'm not upset or anything. Now I don't have to buy a gift.) She keeps posting on facebook for people to send in their RSVPs and I have a nearly insatiable desire to comment, "Yes! I'll be there! And I'm bringing my toddler and my mom. We'd all like the filet mignon. Thanks! Can't wait! It's going to be so much fun!" I have up to this point resisted, but only because I can talk about it here. As awkward and hilarious (to me) as that comment would be, how much more awkward (if not slightly less hilarious) would it be if she reads my blog?


It is impossible to look professional while pregnant. Lord knows, I have tried. But the put-together bookends of styled hair and high heels are totally undone by an I-just-swallowed-a-watermelon-seed-and-what-they-say-is-true shaped belly.  Plus it's so personal. It's advertising to the world that A) you and your husband are making a family, which is not exactly career-building stuff or B) you guys are kind of irresponsible about protection. Irresponsibility also reflects poorly on an employee. Either way, it's like carrying around your personal information on display with a belly-button on top. And if you're lucky enough to appear tailored and professional, it will be at that moment that the tiny person living inside your uterus decides to perform water aerobics and your belly will start jolting around like there's a platypus trying to escape in the middle of a conversation with your bosses' boss. Which, you know, isn't very put-together of you. Don't bother to apply for the position. We're giving it to someone with control over their abdomen.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The One Where the Navy Writes Me a Letter

When deployment begins, so does chaos. It always seems that nothing goes wrong until after the ship pulls out and the big strong man is gone. Monday my computer broke. Tuesday the tire that needed a patch turned into four tires and a pressure monitor that needed all-out replacing. Wednesday my adviser had an issue with my internship (two weeks after he'd approved it) that, if left unresolved, would mean my internship didn't count and well over $2000 for this semester alone would be down the drain. He ended the conversation with, "Work harder". I hung up and ended the conversation with some choice words of my own, thankyouverrymuch. It got fixed on Friday, though. Saturday Nate and I spent a wonderful time with my cousin and her family that ended with Nathan pooping on their carpet. Which he hasn't done in a really really long time. And somehow it managed to escape his underpants AND his shorts. I suspect it had something to do with the funny, leg-shake, wiggle dance he did right before it popped out and rolled onto the carpet. I was good and embarrassed, especially because I'd just finished telling my cousin's husband, "Yeah, well we're still having issues with pooping. I mean. He doesn't poop on the FLOOR or anything, he just always asks for a diaper."

Yeah. Nathan totally heard that. "You think you have me trained?"

Oooh... Braxton Hicks. Hello, 30 weeks of pregnancy!

So last night Nate wouldn't sleep. He's been having issues with being willing to go down since he started part-time daycare a couple weeks ago, but since Jon's left, it's gotten a lot worse and he sobs when I leave the room. Last night was BAD. He was basically up most of the night. I gave up at 3 am and just laid in there with him. I also noticed that he seemed a little congested. Which turned into full-fledged coughing, sneezing and nose-running with a fever today. So that makes, what? Thing number five that's gone awry since the Man left a week ago... if you count a stray turd on my cousin's carpet as an awry thing. If not, then only four things have gone wrong.

Either way, today I got a piece of mail from the Navy. Up until now, I'd been answering incredulous comments of, "Surely the Navy will send your husband home for the baby's delivery!" with "The Navy don't care." But I was wrong. All this time I thought The Navy hadn't considered me at all and now here they are sending me a letter. It said something to the effect of, "We are willing to provide you with services pertaining to in-home consultations about the care of your new child." Which means, "We're concerned that you're going to start shaking your baby because your husband is deployed. This doesn't reflect well on us, so we're going to send people to teach you not to take out your angst on your child. Sincerely, The Navy, bringing PTSD to the home-front since 2010 "

Aww, gee, The Navy, thanks! You thought about me! But really, instead of that back-handed insult, I'd like to suggest something else. I don't need you to teach me not to beat my kids. If I was going to shake my children out of deployment-induced angst, I would have done so during this last deployment. The one that ended this past spring. Which is one summer ago. Have you forgotten so quickly? My request is this: I would greatly appreciate it if the admiral in charge of sending my husband away again could merely be present at the birth of my baby. In place of my husband, you know? It's not much to ask. Just a morale call, if you will. By the time Jon gets home from this deployment, he will have been gone 16 out of the preceding 20 months. It's a darn good thing he's worth waiting for. Since YOU, The Navy, don't really care about him being gone, at least show your support by letting an admiral catch the placenta. It really would mean a lot to me. In a cathartic kind of way.

Navy wives, bringing PTSD to Admirals since... well a girl can dream, can't she?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Once More Unto the Breach

This is how I feel about this deployment. Naturally, Shakespeare writes it better than I can and he totally doesn't feel sorry for himself like I do, so I'll let him do the talking. When depression gets you nowhere, "stiffen up the sinews" and take yet-another deployment like Henry V would (slightly *improved* by yours truly.) Also, say this aloud, vehemently and with a Scottish accent. Henry V may have said it with a proper English accent, but we're Americans. We improve on Shakespeare if we darn well please. Plus anything is convincing if said with vehemence and a Scottish accent.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a [woman]
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews
, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest [Navy Wives].
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in [America], show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for [all the women left behind]!'

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

To My Son, Whom I Love

Dear Nathan,

Today you threw a tantrum. This happens about 3 times a week, with some half-tantrums thrown in here and there. I don't know if it's is true, but I'm telling myself that this is normal for toddlers. It helps me cope.

Grammy made you some Thomas the Train pajamas and you love them. This is why you threw a tantrum: I dared to take them off and attempt to put you in clothes and you went all Mr. Hyde on me. But I want to explain something. It's not as though I was trying to put clothes on you so that I could take you to a Communist Torture Daycare and go get myself a luxurious pani/pedi. We need to go to the store, so that I can feed you and Daddy and your Poppa dinner. You turned into an evil alter ego of yourself because I want to make you a healthy, delicious dinner.

The French took theirs too far, but I wouldn't complain if you wanted to throw yourself a revolution for the glory of Reason every once in a while.

During your rage, I considered my options. I could commit a crime, then plant evidence in your diaper. Some jail time would probably make you realize how good you have it here. Plus I'd get to sleep and go to the bathroom in peace for a few days. I could also take you to Yellowstone and work out some of your energy by renting you out to hikers who want grizzly-bear protection (Grizzlies, like most mammals, are terrified of you). But the option I settled on is to sneak off to Russia and sell them a "weapon of mass destruction" in the form of a perfectly genetically-engineered, innocuous-seeming child, whom they could raise and use as a Jason Bourne-meets-Hulk agent. They'd totally buy into it and I'd get millions and also Patriot Points, because I (and the U.S. Government) secretly know that you're uncontrollable and you'd show all kinds of promise, only to rip open your tuxedo jacket and reveal an American flag t-shirt in the middle of your most critical mission that now ends with the destruction of the Russian spy network. Added bonuses are your future multi-linguility and a plane trip to Moscow for Mom every once in a while. Oh. And I'd totally get to play Spy, like I've always wanted to, during the negotiations. Everyone wins.

Except the Russian spy network.

Good thing they don't read my blog.

The entire purpose of this post isn't actually for you, though. I intend on reviewing it when you're heading off to Kindergarten and I'm crying at home, missing you. You're wonderful 70% of the time, but there will be times where I need to be reminded, my son, of the toddler years.

You are still the sweetest boy in the world,

Love, Мать (that's "mother" in Russian)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The One Where She Talks About Strippers

This weekend, we've been prepping the house for a new baby girl. Nate has officially moved into his big-boy-bed in the guest room that is now his room. His old room has been ransacked and repainted the loveliest shade of light dove grey (I like to spell grey with an "e" instead of spelling it, "gray", which looks ratty. I prefer British spellings of things, too, like "honour" and "colour" and "splendour" and "procrastinatour". It has the tiniest bit of snobbishness and I'm all about that.)

Part of Nate's new room set-up will be a cedar chest that I procured in middle school from a garage sale with homeschooler dreams of making a hope chest. I grew up and the chest has remained half-sanded and unfinished for the last ridiculous number of years. But there must be a thing in the boy room room for toy corralling, so today I sanded it down. When Jon and I attempted to sand the thick paint on the back, however, it gunked up the sandpaper and we realized we were going to need some paint stripper. Off to the hardware store.

We did stop at Costco, where I ate every single sample. I'm pregnant.

At Lowes, we walked up to the paint counter Jon addressed the paint guy, "Hi. I need some advice about strippers."

Paint Guy: "Uh..."

I walked away.

When I found the strippers, Jon and I proceeded to disagree about which formula to get. He wanted the one with skulls and warning labels. I'm growing a human being, so I can't be breathin' in fumes. Strippers are toxic. I don't want to be smelling strippers right now.

Jon asked a sales associate who quickly grew uncomfortable:

Jon:"The stronger stripper is better, right?"
Me: "Well, I'm pregnant. I need the non-toxic stripper."
 Jon: "Well, I'm the one doing the stripping."
Me: "If it's outside, I can do the stripping. It's well-ventilated."

The sales person walked away with a polite, albeit awkward smile.

Jon: "I think we should get this one and I'll do the stripping. You don't want to be there, anyway."

Jon won. Nathan and I played inside while Jon stripped in the backyard.

The cedar chest turned out great. I'm kind of excited about it. Totally worth paying for the stripper.

I'll post a picture later.

Of the chest. Not the stripper.

Friday, July 6, 2012

How to Stay Positive

It's easier to focus on the crazy things about parenting, especially here, since it's funny to read about someone's kid pooping on the floor, but sappy to read about the way the same kid says, "Hee-yo" for "Helicopter", no matter how adorable the parent thinks it is. (But it IS adorable.) This post is dedicated to Brett, who is as sick of hearing bad advice as I was when I was pregnant with Nate.

Parenting comes with lots of great moments that get memorialized in Hallmark commercials and lots of not-so-glamorous moments that get memorialized on my blog. This post is me leveling with the world and admitting that my kid is not worse than yours (except for the fact that he eats cockroaches and poops on my floor) and that I do enjoy being his mom (except for when he's squirting drool at cashiers).

I hated it when people told my first-time-pregnant self to, "Appreciate it now, you'll wish the kid was back inside in a couple weeks!" I mean... I get it now - why they said that. And it makes me laugh a little now. But it's not even remotely helpful. And it's true, what the nice ones say, that no matter how awful your kids may act, they're totally worth it. It's the most rewarding job I've ever had. It's just really hard to explain sometimes, WHY.

My son is in his crib right now saying, "Mommy" 54 times a minute instead of taking his nap. It's obnoxious, but endearing. And that doesn't make sense to people who don't have kids.

So this is a how-to. The bad times will come, my friends. There will be times when it occurs to you why people shake their babies. It is, of course, a terrible idea, but you know, these things occur to you at 3 am when you're boobs are leaking the milk that your sweet baby is screaming for but just. won't. EAT. And the good times are SO good that they make leaky boobs seem like a minor misunderstanding. Nothing is sweeter than a spontaneous toddler hug. I'd leak oceans for those hugs.

How to Deal With the Times that Make Parents Cynical and Obnoxious without Becoming Cynical and Obnoxious, Yourself:
1) Whiskey. It's not just for baby gums anymore.

2) Walking away. You don't have to hold the child that shall.not.stop.screaming. You can put his butt in his crib and walk away and punch the pillow. NOT your sleeping husband. Only the pillow. This is an important distinction.

3) Looking at your husband, wide-eyed, and shaking your head slowly. He gets it. He'll do the same. And in that moment it's you and him against the baby. Which, as awful as it may sound, is healthy. Jon and I rarely have experienced the alienation parents talk about from having kids, because we continually affirm that it's never one of us and the baby. It's always the two of us against the kid. Kids can't tantrum against a force like that... for more than an hour or so.

4) Keeping in mind that the baby will eventually fall asleep. I promise that babies can cry WAY longer than you think is possible, but they DO fall asleep and when they do, you should stuff a brownie in your face and follow suit. Don't forget the brownie.

5) This one is hard for me, but don't use the good, sweet times to get stuff done. Just because he's happy playing with his toys doesn't mean you should busy yourself. Stare at his fat little fingers. Admire the 23 folds on her right leg. Ignore the fact that he just swallowed a guitar pick and focus instead on the perfection of his nose. I could spend hours admiring the perfection of a baby nose.

6) When all else fails, and the person you and your husband created falls asleep and you have no reserves of energy or patience or happiness left, drink some water, wash your face, thank God for your child and find your husband to suggest whiskey tonics. Dads are always down for whiskey.

My child is now reading a book out loud in his crib, with the light on, instead of napping. That's not even obnoxious. It's really really cute. I love being his mom.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The One About Toddler Poop

It comes as no surprise to you that we sometimes have rough days here in the neighborhood. You already know whose fault it is, too. We've been trying to potty train Nathan. Yes, he's only 20 months and yes, that's really young and no, it's not because I'm an over-ambitious mom, desperate to drive her child to succeed. It's because Nate sneaks in the bathroom whenever Jon is peeing and stares and tries to touch the stream and Jon finally had enough and said, "That's it! He's getting his OWN potty!" So that's what happened. And he likes to pee in it. A lot. Sometimes I have to drag him away, explaining, "You've already peed three times in two minutes and you don't have any left, Son." He doesn't like being dragged away, no matter my sound reasoning.

Anyway, so peeing in the pot is going well. He did pee on my friend's couch the other day (FAIL). But mostly, he's good on the bladder control. Pooping, however, is TOTALLY another matter. As soon as he started peeing in the potty, he became terrified of pooping altogether. Now that he's naked or in undies all day, he's realizing for the first time that something comes OUT of him when he poops. He realized this when he pooped on the floor. Twice. And the patio. He freaked. Not. Okay. With. Nathan. In fact, he's pretty terrified and screams and wails when he feels it coming and even freaks out when I help him with his issues by putting a diaper on him. Not. Okay. With. Mommy.

Hilarious. I know. Laugh it up. Your kids will poop on your floor, too, one day. Then I will laugh.

Yesterday went like this: We had a nice morning and during his nap I prayed that I would start actually being patient with my son and stop acting like every bad thing he does is meant as a personal insult toward his mother. My job is to teach, not to react. But I suck at it, so thus the prayers. Fast forward to noonish - we're playing outside in the kiddie pool and Nathan starts kinda whining and bending at the waist and knees. He squints his eyes, "Poo!"
"Nathan, do you need to go poop on the potty?"
"Noooo" he whines and holds it in, quickly picking up a toy and pretending to be really busy playing.
*time passes and we go through this a couple more times*
Nate's dance gets a little more desperate. He starts shifting from one leg to the other, whining. He reached around and grabs at his clenched butt cheeks, "poo!"
"Do you need to go poop in the potty?"

I try to lead him in. Resistance! So I bring the potty outside. He pees in it and leaves. He gets the urge again, dances, whines and tries to drag the potty back inside, where it won't haunt him with it's incessant need for poo. So much panic.

"Nathan, do you want a diaper?"
"You have to poop in the toilet or in a diaper. Those are your only options."
"noooo nooo noooo!"
He starts to cry. I bring him inside. He starts to scream. I force a diaper onto his butt. He cries and tries to take it off. I force pants over the diaper, so he won't take it off. He whines and poops. I change him to intense screams of anguish, kicking and flailing. He kicks me in the throat and I make a mental note to bring that up at his wedding. I manage to diaper him. Now he's having a tantrum/panic attack/scream fest. I offer to pick him up and he hits me. I calmly ignore him and he poops again, so again, I change the butt to kicking and screaming and tears. He knows I'm the bad guy and that Daddy is out of town, so he starts to wail, "Heeeennry! Heeeeennnreeeeee!". Henry is unsympathetic and hides under the kitchen table.

We call my mom, because I have no husband at hand and I need someone who doesn't hate me to say something nice. She is shocked and positive that he must be in intense pain. No. He does this. He just hates poop. He screams for Grammy and finally poops again.... he loads that nappy up. Three dirty diapers in 30 minutes. Who says potty training saves diapers? I change him and put another diaper on, because, even though he's probably done, I don't want to even look at the toilet for the rest of the day. Good. He doesn't either. He gets happy. He is content to pee in the diaper for the rest of the day. I've maintained a semblance of composure and been patient throughout the tantrum.

One o'clock. Six more hours until bedtime.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Here it Goes Again

Blah... I hate it when Jon leaves. It's just a little pre-deployment workup and he's only gone for a couple weeks, but when I drop him off again and watch him say goodbye to our son, who holds his hands up in his car seat and says, "Up!", it just train wrecks my composure. It doesn't help that all the way back in the car, Nate incessantly asks for his Daddy. Knife twist.

So I had corn dogs for lunch and a guilt-induced salad for dinner. With banana pudding. Because, you know, I had a salad. So it's okay.

All those, "He's gone, he's gone and he's never coming back" feelings resurface. Depression rings my doorbell and asks to come inside. He wants banana pudding, too. He likes helping me eat dessert. We're kind of buddies that way. Except he never gets fat. So we can't be friends. I consider letting him in, but make him wait at the door. I share banana pudding with him anyway before I tell him to go away. He's ugly and stupid and I'm not being friends with him this time. Besides, I ate all the pudding.

I hate deployments. I hate the need for composure that goes hand in hand with the need to not stuff my feelings, because then I'll explode. Because I will. It's not pretty. It's uglier than depression-induced banana pudding binges. Well... almost. But I never balance at a happy medium between the two. I either break down and pout or I straighten my back and go on with life in a "Screw you, Navy! You don't ruin MY life" kind of emotionless coma. It's all a bit ridiculous. It leaves me exhausted and I crawl onto the couch at night and, entirely humbled by my inability to act like what I think grown-ups are supposed to act like, I ask God, again, to show me, again, how the Gospel is still saving me. From my self pity, from my fear and from my childish heart. And then there is peace.

Peace and also cocoa puffs, because I finished the banana pudding.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Buckwheat and Haystack

When Nate was little, Jon called him Buckwheat, which I think is adorable. When he got older and more... active... we started calling him other things. Like "The Terrorist". Anyway. Henry's nickname is Haystack, because he looks like one and he's lazy and I always thought that "Buckwheat and Haystack" would be a great name and idea for a children's book. This is an example of the sort of material we have accrued for one such book.

This happened this very afternoon. Buckwheat decided after a round of "chase the dog with the clatter toy" that he wanted to hug him. Haystack didn't put up with it for long, but the joy in Buckwheat's grin as he hugged the dog was enough to start this conversation after Haystack ran away.

"Henry, why don't you just let him hug you? He loves you. You should be nice to him."
*Buckwheat chucks a full water bottle at Haystack*
The dog looks at me with those eyebrows of his... See? My point exactly. No hugging... ever!

Minutes later, Haystack, in desperation, grabs his de-stuffed toy and brings it to Buckwheat, which he does when he wants to play tug of war, one of two approved activities for said child, according to the dog (the first being cracker sharing). Buckwheat wants to play dodge ball instead and heaves one at Haystack, successfully slamming it into his poor doggie butt. Eyebrows aim themselves at me and I give up.

Sometimes Haystack looks at me and his eyebrows talk. They usually say, "Nobody fed me today... or... ever... can I have your food?" But on occasions like this, they say, "Remember a couple years ago when I was the only child and life was quiet and simple? Yeah. That was nice... jerks."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Self Sufficient

It isn't exactly easy to figure out discipline. I want a happy, well-behaved child and, to this end, I have disciplined with different techniques. I have tried things. Things that don't work. I have tried things that kind of work. The thing that works very best is nap time. When my son is asleep, he never disobeys me.

Spanking is not very popular nowadays and I'm not here to defend it as an institution. If you can get your kid to listen by being very stern and looking deeply into his eyes while repeating commands, then great. When I do that, my kid laughs at me. Intensity does not equal intimidation with toddlers. If your child understands the concept of 'time out' and will sit in a chair and feel admonished, great. Mine has no problem staying in a chair. In fact, wouldn't it be so fun to stand on the chair? And lean waaaay off the back and grin at Mom? And hang upsidedown from it? Yes. If those things work for you, fabulous. Kudos. Congratulations. Maybe one day, I can have a child like yours and judge people like me who spank their kids. We'll talk then.

In the meantime, if spanking is the only thing that persuades my child not to run into the street, then I will spank. It's better than running interference with a car.

The point is this: My son has found a way out of every other form of discipline I've attempted and he just found a way out of the last one. He self-spanks now.

We were having a coming-to-Jesus moment over whether or not Nate should be allowed to pull books off the shelf and chuck them onto the floor. I was on the, "Stop doing that" side and Nate was on the, "Make me, Woman!" side. He wasn't obeying, so after a couple commands, I said, "If you touch it again, I will come over there and spank you." Naturally he touched it again, but before I could fulfill my threat, he turned to me and spanked himself.

I paused. Perhaps it was a coincidence. Nope. When he touched the book again and I smacked his little butt, he repeated the action with wide eyes and eyebrows raised. His little hand spanked his fat thigh.

Now what? I don't have to spank him anymore, I guess. I suppose it'll go like this:

"Nate don't do that"
Nate does it
"Nathan Scott, spank yourself."
He does
"Now don't you feel bad that you disobeyed?"

Self-spanking is the new thing. Easiest discipline I've ever administered. Now I totally judge people who put their kids in time out. Losers.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This is a picture of my Halloween pumpkin, purchased in October of last year and photographed this past weekend.

I left it on the porch throughout November because it was still appropriate as harvest decor. I left it out in December, because I didn't have anything Christmasy to put in the corner there and I didn't feel like moving it. In January, I checked to see if it was rotting or anything and left it out, assuming it would soon mold over, forcing me to stop being lazy and walk it to the trash. February came and it was still solid and golden orange and I thought it'd be funny to leave it till Jon got home from deployment at the end of the month. Folks, this bad boy is still there. It's the end of April.

My laziness always has an expiration date. Usually weeks, but with pumpkins, it's apparently a little longer. This is not about me or my lack of moral fiber anymore. This gourd looked at me and announced that it will not be rotting. In deference to it, I am leaving it be. I want to see how long this stand-off lasts. The only change I've seen is a slight lightening of the stem  I think it used to have a little more green/brown to it. I've checked underneath and it is as solid and dry as the day I bought it. San Diego, apparently, has the perfect conditions for pumpkin longevity.

I will keep you updated on The Pumpkin Phenomenon as (if) things develop. My new goal is for Pumpelstiltskin for him to make it to meet his replacement this coming October. A one-year-old pumpkin is something to be proud of, so I'm playing coach and taking all credit if it works and not sharing any, because in addition to being lazy, I'm selfish.

Whenever you feel like you've really accomplished something, I want you to think of this blog post and say to yourself, "Self, I may have accomplished something, but I sure as heck have never kept a harvest pumpkin alive and kicking for as long as Bek has. I should try harder." Then contain your disappointment and eat a brownie, because that's the best way to cure disappointment in one's accomplishments. Believe me. I sure haven't been comforting myself with pumpkin pie all this time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

An Open Letter to My Son

Nathan Scott,

You are a tornado of mischief and happiness. Many mothers write to their children as babies and say sweet, emotional things, but I know you, my Boy. You are not one to revel in emotionality. You are action and touching and moving and figuring out. The two emotions you partake in are as follows:
ANGER: When hungry, tired, hurt or mad at Momma. Manifestation: whining and screaming and smacking.
CONTENTMENT: Every situation other than anger. Manifestation: grinning as you systematically destroy my house as efficiently as you destroyed my navel while you gestated.

You know that I love you. You are quite fully confident in it, which is something I envy in you. I strive to take for granted how loved I am, as sky-is-blue fact and, like you, live a joyful existence in that confidence. And you love me, too. And you love your Daddy. You hug us around the legs and knock incessantly on the door when we're trying to use the bathroom and yell, "DA-DDEE!" and "MO-MEE" at the top of your lungs, just because you can.

Your current favorite toy is the squirt bottle Dad uses to wet your hair down before he cuts it. You grab it when you think I'm not looking, send a Dennis-the-Menace look my way and haul diaper to the other end of the house, where you proceed to moisten the couch, the floor, yourself and Henry with a malicious grin. Henry is not on the best terms with you right now, Nate. I hope this changes, but you don't tone down your tornado for anyone or anything and Henry is a peace-loving sort, easily overwhelmed by your intensity. I don't think he appreciates being squirted in the face, either. Something to consider.

By the way, I sat down to eat dinner tonight and got a wet rear. I know it was you and the squirt bottle.

Being your mother is a chronically tired thing. But it is also laughter. Lots of laughter. And joy. Your grin is fabulous. It makes me happy in a sunshine-and-chocolate-cake-in-my-soul kind of way. When I put you down to nap and instead you lay there saying, "tick, tock, tick, tock..." to yourself, I want to be frustrated with you, but I laugh instead. You are contagious, my Boy, but I've never enjoyed catching something quite this much.

I love you, you little Monster.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drool Frog

Jon had a late night flight tonight, so he got to hang out with us all day. We took full advantage, trying a new Thai place and alternately chasing Nate and pretending we didn't know him as he threw Bizzy Bear books on the floor at Barnes and Noble. It's ironic that, in order to fully concentrate on checking out books I might want to buy to read to my son (a sweet, albeit naive daydream), I had to completely ignore the fact that that same personage was climbing on the displays (which is not sweet... only obnoxious).

So we got fed up and went to World Market to strap him into a cart. Naturally, the browsing-while-confined thing doesn't suit the third member of the family, so we picked up a cheap frog bathtub toy - the kind that squirts water out of its mouth - and handed it over to buy us some time. Within feet of the frog display, he had chewed off the price tag, so we grabbed another and threw it in the cart, so that there would be something to ring up. When I got to the register, I pulled them both out with a, "So we don't want this one, but figured you needed a tag to scan, since he chewed the price tag off of this...one..." and as I said the second "this one", I squeezed it and a long, steady stream of drool shot out of the plastic frog at the cashier woman, splattering across the counter.

"Oh. Uh. Sorry... you don't have to touch that one... I'll just put it back in the cart..."

It's okay, she reassured me, with an "I hate kids" grimace... she had worked at Disneyland once. She then, painstakingly, wiped up the drool with a paper bag, holding it away from her with the very tips of her fingers.

Disney can't be a very clean place to work, but I bet no one water-gunned her with drool during her time there. Leave it to us to turn a dry bathtub toy into a working drool frog... no bath needed.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Cool

Jon is home, so I have ignored you all.

I knew having a kid would ransack my cool points, but there's something sweet and young and starry eyed about being pregnant with your first baby, so I held onto this idea that even after the ransacking, I would still maintain a degree of the joie de vivre that causes people to say, "You have kids? I never would have guessed!" That was dumb of me.

I haven't gotten a mom haircut, I wear skinny jeans and I listen to Adele. But the inevitability of my loss of coolness keeps proving itself. Strollers are great cup holders, but walk into Anthropologie with a kid in a stroller and you have to be wearing a dress or harem pants in order to make up for it. Walk into a store with a kid and no stroller and there's nothing you can do to make up for it, because you're guaranteed to be grim-faced and wild-eyed from fighting the wildebeest in your arms, whose purpose in life is to rearrange the jewelry display and throw chic pottery at the sales associate.

Target is the new Anthropologie. They get me there. They have big red wildebeest holders with wheels.

Jon and I ran away as soon as his parents came into town. They watched Nate and we tried to ski. I'll elaborate on my first-timer skiing prowess another time, for your reading pleasure, but know that my parents have been charged with neglect, having never taught me to ski, so that now, at 26, I fall down the intermediate slope like a stretch armstrong doll, picking up snide comments from the people on the lift overhead when I ski horizontally up snowbanks and land on my head and my feet at the same time. I wish I was kidding.

Yesterday when the in-laws were in town and we decided to go to Torrey Pines to hike along the beach-front cliffs, I surveyed my outfit. I had on designer jeans - my only redeeming outfit choice - that are high heel-length. I can't wear them with flats. I wasn't about to wear wedges on a hike (although in retrospect, I should have) and I was comfortable. So I put on tennis shoes. With jeans. In public. Which would have been fine had we only gone hiking. But we got hungry. Hiking does that. So we went to PF Changs. With my mom outfit. Let it be understood that my mother-in-law, who is also a mom, had on a cute outfit with chic flats.

I already felt my momishness when we walked into the restaurant. My hair in a messy bun, my zipped up hoodie, my mom shoes, my toddler running and shrieking and raising... heck. Everyone else in heels and tiny skirts and liquid eyeliner. Had I remembered make up that morning? I couldn't remember. I escaped to the bathroom, where three tiny, wobbly-in-high-heels lipstick princesses preened in the mirror. I had, indeed, remembered make up that morning, as was evidenced by the mascara, raccooning under my eyes. I walked into the stall and realized my fly was already down. Had been down the whole afternoon. Because, you know, it matched my outfit.

Moral of the story: never leave your house.

Or take a cue from your mother-in-law and care enough before you leave the house looking like Wal-Mart, so that you don't conclude at the end of the evening that you should never leave your house. And then, make rice-krispies treats. They fix most mom-things. But don't share with your kid. He doesn't need the sugar. You, on the other hand, most definitely do. Sugar and one of those people that tell you what to wear and make sure you don't leave the house looking like what you are.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Postpartum Regression

This might only be funny to parents. But since I'm a parent and I think it's funny, this is what you're getting from me today.

After Nate was born, every time I went to the doctor's office for him or for myself, I had to fill out a survey for postpartum depression. I always thought it was stupid, because I wasn't depressed. But now, looking back, I think I totally had a mild case of the post-baby blues. It's hard to differentiate exhaustion from depression... or hunger or frustration or happiness or any emotion other than exhaustion. But when I started to feel normal, I remember thinking, "Oh... this feels good. I like this better."

My friend was over last night and we were talking about what a joke these surveys are for someone who doesn't already know they're depressed or is about to go on a rampage. This is how I would mentally respond to the questions asked in the survey and this is why I didn't think I was depressed:

Do you still enjoy the things you used to enjoy?
I used to enjoy things like going to the movies with my husband and having a flat stomach and sleeping in till 9am and reading a book for hours and drinking alcohol or caffeine and taking a shower when I wanted to and skydiving and having a clean house. Do I not enjoy these things because I'm depressed? NO... I have a BABY! What new mom gets to enjoy things she used to enjoy? What new mom gets to DO things she used to enjoy? I actually never went skydiving. But I WOULD have enjoyed it and I can't now.

Do you find yourself unable to sleep at night?
This is a joke, right? Unable to sleep? HECK, YES I find myself unable to sleep! I have a newborn! Did you not consider that every single mom who takes this survey will be unable to sleep at night... due to the fact that it is a POSTPARTUM survey? What does this have to do with depression? This sounds more like a survey to ensure you have a baby in your house.

Do you find yourself feeling down for no apparent reason?
Nope. My child won't nurse, my boobs hurt, my stomach looks like a deflated, stretched out balloon and I haven't slept in weeks. No apparent reason? I have excellent reasons for feeling down. Must not be depressed if I have reasons for feeling like I do.

Do you get tired for no reason?
Dear survey writers, this is getting repetitive. Have you ever had children? I have one very small, loud and hungry reason for being tired.

Are you more irritable than you used to be?
Go flush your head in a toilet.

I guess that's a yes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

God Doesn't Babysit

Two days ago, while I wondered if the entire community could hear my painful, rhythmic breathing and if I would ever not sound like a dying rhinoceros when I run, my neighbor passed in her car and said, "Looking good, girl". I said, "I HATE RUNNING!"

This is true most of the time. I advertise the fact that I am not enjoying myself, because I am not, in fact, enjoying myself. But I've discovered that even when I don't like it, running is like a cleanse for me. I am not one for the green liquid stuff that you're supposed to drink for a week at the expense of all other food in order to purge your body of toxins, or whatever other nonsense people use as an excuse to lose weight and enjoy exploding diarrhea. If you want more toxin removal, get an additional liver implanted. Or run.

I know you all think I'm perfect. I have that effect on people - making them think I'm flawless and stuff. But sometimes I experience symptoms of being a normal person. I get depressed that I haven't seen my husband in over six months. I get bitter that the Navy is taking him away again three months after he will finally get home and I despair of ever feeling like our little family is where they should be (which is with me, rubbing my aching back and telling me how flawless I am). When I start to blame Henry for all my problems, it's probably time to go running. It works the poison out of my attitude and, in their mutual disapproval of me forcing them to waste their energy trotting through the neighborhood for the sole purpose of sweating, my brain and my emotions team up. If I'm angry, I can usually overcome it by introducing something that, at least for the duration of my run, I am angrier about: exercise. Works every time.

And you know, there's science stuff about endorphins and there's the fact that I'm so stinkin' proud of myself for being 'A Runner' that I slyly slip it into every other conversation I have with everyone I encounter.

The conversations that don't include running usually feature the fact that my husband is deployed and that's why my child is ransacking the books in Barnes and Noble. This is supposed to illicit pity, but I think they see right through me when my response to, "Can I help you, ma'am?" is, "My husband is deployed!"

Anyway. A run is like deployment. It's not fun and you go through cycles of, "I'm doing great! What a great runner/military wife I am!" and, "This sucks. This will never be over and if someone doesn't notice that I'm doing a good job and wearing my big girl panties, I'm going to eat Trader Joe's Tahitian Vanilla Caramels for breakfastlunchanddinner."

When I'm running, as with deployment, there are times when I don't think I'm going to have the endurance to not sit down and yell at passers by that everything is their fault, and so I pray, "please make me finish!" and God basically says, "You can do it" without saying anything, but every time I pray that, I know that my whines will get me nowhere because, I am, in fact, physically capable of finishing. I'm not really as strong or confident as I pretend to be, but I'm stubborn, which looks pretty similar.

Which brings me to my point. Sometimes I pray, "Please give me the strength to finish well" and He always does, but what I really want to pray is, "Please come babysit Nathan for me, so I can take a nap and then you can teach him all kinds of educational things because you're God and you know that stuff and maybe you can teach him to say, 'I appreciate you, Mommy. You're the best.'" But He never does that. My insight for the day is this: God doesn't endow us with so much strength that exercise or deployments are no sweat. He gives us just enough to finish. And that's good, because I'm so much more grateful for the gift, having experienced the struggle.

And also, He gives Trader Joe's Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. Because He saw Nathan climb onto the dresser yesterday and He knows I need them.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Virus of Death

I'm sick. Sick sick sick. You know how newly-discovered diseases are often named after the person they find the disease in before the person croaks? I am that person. I found a new virus. It's The Virus of Death.

A week and a half ago my throat hurt. Five days after that my dad came into town and I told him that my throat was more sore every time I woke up. We decided it was post nasal drip from allergies. The day after he left, I woke up in a lot of pain. It didn't go away and I was having trouble swallowing things. I barely slept Saturday night because of the pain, so I went to the ER on Sunday morning and got poo-pooed out with "It's not strep, so it must be viral pharyngitis". Which means that the cold virus got stuck all up in my tonsils, which were swollen and angry. As was my throat. And lymph nodes. I endured and felt stupid for going to the ER. It has gotten worse every single day since then. Yesterday it had been a week and a half and I wasn't eating or drinking much and I was taking (no joke) 1600 mg of ibuprofen a day. I went to the doctor and got poo-pooed away again. No fever. Not strep, so it must be a virus. Well DUH, I don't have a fever... I'm eating ibuprofen for breakfast, lunch and dinner! (breakfastlunchanddinner! SNL? No? Nevermind)

So today I didn't take the medicine and guess what? CHILLS! FEVER! THE PLAGUE! Oh, and the same painful throat that has been making me cry since Sunday. I did 15 hours of labor with no epidural and after 21 hours, I had a c-section. I know my pain scale. When I say my throat hurts like a llama who fell down some steep Peruvian mountainside with a Sherpa on his back, I mean it was a 7, folks. I didn't know throats could hurt so much. In fact, I've deduced that at night, little elves are crawling in through my nasal cavities to my throat and scrubbing it with sandpaper and gravel. Then they pour lemon juice on for good measure. Then I wake up and wonder if I'll ever eat again without feeling like I'm swallowing razor blades.

The Virus of Death.

So that was all background. Don't you love when people use social media to manipulate pity? I hate it when people do that.

Today I was g-chatting with Jon (yay!) and he told me not to leave the house before noon. I figured he was going to send flowers. Instead, a couple minutes to noon, my doorbell rings and TA DAA! Chinese food. Wonton soup, dumplings (!) and fried rice. From my favorite person in the universe. Who figured out how to order my sick soup of choice from a billion miles away in the middle of the ocean without a phone.

Best Husband Ever vs. Virus of Death.

The virus loses. Hands down. I am a happy woman.