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Taking Off

October 30th, 2007

Casey and I are preparing for our first major trip without Kenny.   We will be gone for four full days.   I am sick in my stomach just thinking about it.   Though I know that I will be fine and he will be fine, I feel as if I am scheduling an elective amputation of my right arm.  

Kenny and I are together all the time.   I can’t even imagine four days without his little face, his little voice and his endless questions and laughter.   I know, I know… this had to happen sooner or later, and he’s two!   But it doens’t stop the anxiety.

We’re going to take the advice we got from Milaka and have a little something for him to open every day that we’re gone.   I’m also going to tape up four pages on his wall with pictures of the days, so he can count the time until we’re back.

He’s going to be FINE, I know.   It’s me I’m worried about!!


A Night Out with Hector

October 28th, 2007

Kenny has had an imaginary friend for some time named Hector.   Hector is a little monkey (not dissimilar to Curious George) who is always around and looking for a good time.   We tell Hector stories at bedtime, we pretend Hector is going to the potty with us, taking baths with us, and baking cakes with us.   So for Halloween, we got Kenny a monkey costume,  and of course we had no problems getting him into  his  “Hector clothes”  for our Church’s annual “Trunk or Treat” bash.


I’m not sure if it was totally clear that he was a monkey (I heard some folks say, “Look at that little mouse!”) but Kenny had a blast looking at all of the “funny guys” as he called them, and trying to recognize his friends in their get-ups.   We took Dudley, too, and he was a champ, letting scores of kids pet him and crowd around him.   We couldn’t get a costume for him in time, but he was a hit all the same.  

Kenny  had a little confusion over the candy thing, too… as people handed him candy, he assumed that it was time to dig in right then, so we curtailed the treating at about four trunks.   Two lollipops and a box of junior mints later, he was getting the jitters, so we packed into the car and headed home in the dark, stopping on the way for some Chinese food…


At bedtime, when he asked for a Hector Story, we re-lived the “party” for him, talking about all the friends and funny guys we saw, and all the candy we ate, and how much fun we had.   After kisses, I was walking out when Kenny suddenly piped up, “Mommy…. where’s God?”   Several of his story books have characters talking to God, or stories about God, and he’s asked where He is several times, so I sat back down and  tried  to explain it a  little more clearly;  that God is everywhere… “He’s at our house, at Grammie’s house, at Aunt Kim’s house, at church… anywhere we are, God is there with us.   And we can talk to Him anytime.   All we have to do is say, ‘Dear God…’ and tell Him whatever we want to say.”   He was quiet, and I said, “Do you want to talk to God right now?” and he said, “Dear God!… You say it, Mommy.”   So I said, “Dear God: Thank you for our wonderful day.   Thank you for our party tonight and all of our friends and the funny guys we saw…”   and he jumped in, “And tank you for Mister Hank and for potty treats.   Amen.”

“Mister Hank” is a friend of ours from church and our small group whom Kenny just loves, and the trunk next to his at the Trunk or Treat  was handing out M&Ms… (which we call “potty treats” in our house, because that’s the only time he gets to eat them).   Amen, little guy.

Hanes for Kids!

October 25th, 2007

Just as Kenny and I were beginning to contemplate life outside of diapers, we took an exploratory trip to the local department store to buy some “big-boy undies” in hopes of motivating him to use the potty more consistantly. Though we bought several packs, I was hugely disappointed at the fabric quality and the super-itchy tags in the back. No sooner had I tucked these away and grudgingly bought another package of Huggies, I got an email from Hanes asking if we would consider trying out their new kids’ line.

Just in the nick of time. The Hanes kids’ products are everything I wanted: soft, durable, easy to care for and comfortable. In fact, Hanes has launched a new section of their website devoted to all things Kids. They cover infants through preteens with their signature soft cottons and washing machine-resistant colors. The styles are “hip” and the variety sure to please even the pickiest 11 year old tween.

The athletic socks they sent Kenny were his favorite… thick and cozy, and just right for running around the house in the fall. The kids’ sweats are really nice,too; they are a shade lighter weight than your typical sweats and very comfortable.

The website itself is easy to navigate and conveniently organized. They have sizing charts and even a section to “design your own t-shirt.” Go check it out! (And buy something for yourself while you’re there!)

Preparing to Skip Town…

October 25th, 2007

Casey and I are going to be leaving Kenny for the first time for more than 24 hours next weekend.   We are actually going to be gone four full days, and Casey’s parents are coming up to take care of our little rascal while we are soaking up the sun in Mexico, attending a Founder’s Weekend for an organization we are a part of.

Kenny has done great the previous times we’ve left him.   Twice with my parents and once with Casey’s (actually once with my sister, too, but we had just left before he woke up and were home by nap-time).   They all claimed he barely noticed we were gone.   But I somehow think that he’s going to catch on when we’re not there for four bedtimes in a row…

Do any of you have any advice to offer on “preparing” your toddler for a long absence?   I haven’t told him yet that we are leaving… he knows that his grandparents are coming, and he has slyly asked, “Where you gonna be?” because he knows that usually when they come in town, Mommy and Daddy have a lot of date nights.   But I was going to wait until just three days or so before we left to really tell him.   I was thinking of drawing out a big calendar of the week for him, and drawing out what he would be doing all the days until Mommy and Daddy got home.   I’ve done that before when Casey has traveled for several nights in a row, to show all that we’re going to do “before Daddy gets home.”

Any other ideas?   Do’s and Don’t’s?   Should I leave a mile-long list for the in-laws, or just relax and trust that all will be well?   Should I call while we’re away, or would that be harder on him?   Advice, please!!

Bedtime Comedy Hour

October 24th, 2007

Kenny is a prettyverbal kid.   In addition to talking in endless paragraphs and questions, he has memorized several of his books and the songs on his favorite CDs.   One of the things I am most proud of is that he can recite The Lord’s Prayer along with us at bedtime.   He doesn’t get every single word, but he’s awfully close and it warms my heart to hear him say it along with Casey and I.

But tonight, he got a case of the giggles and quite purposefully shouted, “Forgive us our Dodos, as we forgive the Dodos against us.”

Yeah, someone’s been sneaking out of bed to watch The Late Show…

Book Review: The Other Mother

October 23rd, 2007

The Other Mother, by Gwendolen Gross, published by Shaye AreHeart Books, 2007

I have to admit when I first read the tag-line on The Other Mother, by Gwendolen Gross,   I almost let the novel pass me by: “A gripping story that takes both sides of the Mommy Wars.”   This novel happened to arrive the week I temporarily lost my sanity and posted my opinion on Moms who put their kids in day care and call it school.   Weary from the loads of both hate mail and “you go girl” mail, I thought that reviewing a book on the so-called “Mommy Wars” was the last thing that me and MommyBlog needed.   I am so glad that I dug in instead.

I stayed up late and read this truly compelling novel in two nights flat.   The Other Mother tells the tale of two neighbors: Tess, a stay-at-home mom of three, and Amanda, a pregnant working woman who intends to return to her career after her maternity leave.   Within months of living next door to each other, an unexpected event has Amanda and her husband, along with their infant daughter, moving into Tess’ house.   As Amanda’s maternity leave ends with no nanny or day care yet selected, Tess offers to become a temporary nanny until a permanent solution arises.

The absolute uniqueness of this book lies in the fact that Gross so deftly tells both sides of the story, with characters so rich and real they could be you and me, it becomes nearly impossible not to root for both characters.   The tension she invokes that lies not only between the two women, but within themselves, is absorbing; in this novel, both are right, and  both are  passionately committed to their separate ideas of what being a mother means.

My favorite aspect of the novel were the descriptions of the love and frustrations each woman experienced with her children.   The scenes where Amanda is nursing in those early weeks of “the thick trall of milky exhaustion” made me believe that it was just yesterday that I’d brought Kenny home from the hospital, nursing around the clock, and swamped with love as he tugged at my breasts.   And the moments when Tess tries to reason with her two-year-old daughter, all the while knowing that there is no reasoning with a two-year-old, made me cackle at my own occasionally inane attempts to reason with Kenny on an adult level.   Gross’ writing is raw in depicting the heart of a mother, and the struggle that we, as women, have with our own identity.

I believe that all mothers have a nagging fear that we are doing it wrong, or at the very least, not doing it right sometimes.   The Other Mother captures all of those insecurities and whirls them around in the blender, challenging you to see the other side of the story.   There were moments of reading where I found knots in my stomach, and moments where I thought, “Ok – I think I must be doing the Mommy thing OK.”  

I think this is an excellent book for any mom to read – whether your children are infants, toddlers or teenagers; whether you work at home, away from home or find that your home is your work.   I promise that you will not only see other moms differently, but that you might see yourself a little differently, too.

Please visit Gwendolen Gross’ website: www.gwendolengross.com, for details on where to buy the book, and to read other reviews.   She also hosts an online writers workshop for moms who want to write, which I am still getting the nerve up to jump into.   Happy Reading!

Baby Mine

October 22nd, 2007

Today is the due date for the baby that we lost in March.   I have carried around a lump in my throat since waking and I feel like there is a brick sitting on my chest.   It’s not that I haven’t grieved in one way or another since that day we lost him, but there’s a more real sense of loss knowing that today is the day I would have met this new little one.

Casey had a piece of jewelry made for me… it is three pendants: the middle is yellow gold with an emerald cut diamond and the two on each side is white gold with princess diamonds… He designed it from Isaiah 49:18 which says, “…all your sons gather and come to you… you will wear them all as ornaments.”   The center pendant is for this baby, due today, and the two on each side for the twins that we lost in July.   It is the most beautiful necklace I’ve ever seen, though wrapped in it’s beauty is the sadness I carry, knowing that I will never hold those children on this earth.  

I don’t have much else to say.   Kenny and I have kept busy today sitting in the backyard blowing bubbles and wading on the sandy beach in our backyard below our bulkhead, thanks to an extra-low tide and an 80 degree day.     I’ve let mind-numbing housework devour the quiet of his naptime.   And I look forward with hope to another little one some day…

Time to Think

October 21st, 2007

Casey and Kenny and  I just got back from a “Founders Weekend” for a group we have been involved with since we were dating called The Clapham Institute.   My parents were both there as well, so my mom graciously took Kenny for several of the conversation sessions so that I could participate.   All I can say is, my head is full.

During the long drive home, I had time to muse about the discussions we had: on “re-framing” the conversations we have about our faith so that it is coherent to the people we encounter.   In other words, instead of “witnessing” to people by bashing them over the head with the four spiritual laws, we engage those people  in conversations about what is relevant in their lives.   We talk about the way things ought to be, the way things are, the way things can be and the way things will be.   We talked about investing in people and learn what they love, so that we can in turn meet them in a conversation that gives pause to say, “Huh.   I never though of it that way… ”  

The whole idea of re-framing our conversations and learning a new way to engage people grips me.   Though most of the applications were to the business world, I can see plenty of ways that I can put these ideas into practice in my own little sphere.   Too often as a Mommy, I get  trapped in the trivial and temporal conversations of “what my kid did” or what gripes I have about this or that.   I know that it’s natural to talk most about whatever is at the forefront of our daily lives, but there can be a point when I say, “I want to talk about more” and I deliberately bring up a topic or ask a question to someone that has nothing to do with their identity as a mother or wife and everything to do with the real, thinking, feeling person that they are.

I started thinking about my friends these days… and what do I really know about them?   I know the facts of their current lives, like the nap-habits of their kids and who hates to cook and who is having a rocky time with their marriage.   But I don’t know anything about what these friends think about the wider world outside our homes and our churches, or  about the dreams they have for themselves outside of raising their kids.   I have no idea how, if we started really having conversations with each other instead of “chats,” we could bind together to have an impact on each others’ lives.

Sarah Zacharias Davis wrote a  thoughtful book called Transparent in which she explores the question, “What if we all just told the truth about how we are feeling?”   She challenges us women to get behind the mask we all wear with each other and just be real.   I thought about that throughout this weekend… can I raise the bar on my relationships with people and be real about more than just the surface facts of our lives?   It’s time to think…

I Want to be the Next Food Network Star…

October 17th, 2007

I was the “guest” speaker at my own MOPS group today.    I actually did a cooking demonstration along with a talk on meal planning, cooking with kids and making the most out of our opportunity as moms to nourish our families.

It was a load of fun, but I am exhausted!

Between the hours of preparation and the sleepless night of butterflies in the stomach, I feel as tired as I did when Kenny was still nursing through the night.   Casey was pretty excited with the “leftovers” of fajitas and tex mex salad that I served up tonight, so I was all but off the hook for having to cook dinner twice in one day.   I have to admit, ever since Kenny was a newborn (and I nursed him every hour and a half for a half an hour, filling the time with compulsively watching the Food Network)  I have harbored a little fantasy of having my own cooking show.   Not that I have anything fantastically different than any other Food Network diva, but just because I think it would be a real kick.

Since Kenny was old enough to sit in a highchair, I have entertained him night after night with my own cooking expositions – he now has a special “kitchen helper”stool and we do everything together – he dumps the baking ingredients in the bowl and helps stir them, he watches as I chop, fillet, butterfly and otherwise manipulate raw ingredients into what dinner is to become.   The more I talk as I cook, explaining what I’m doing, the more fascinated he becomes.   Maybe that could be my “thing” – an entire cooking show made to entertain a toddler and get a gourmet meal on the table at the same time…

On another note, I realize that this is the second Wednesday with no book review, but I promise to have one next week.   I was recently sent a novel by the author Gwendolyn Gross, The Other Mother, and I’m nearly done after two sittings… it is fantastic and hooks me in way past bedtime.   The book jacket says that it’s about the “mommy wars” of stay-at-home moms versus working moms, but it is so much more than that.   It is a drama that any mom, at home or working in a corporate high rise, can relate to.   So I promise a full review next week.   In the meantime, check out her website!

A Case of Pillows

October 16th, 2007

I went in to check on Kenny during his naptime, and this is what I found:


Apparently, during his usual pre-sleeping romping in bed, he worked his way into the pillowcase, and fell asleep there.   I couldn’t resist a picture… even though  the flash  woke him up a little…


But he fell back asleep right away.   He’s been that way for over two hours.

It seems Dudley taught him all about snuggling in the pillows, because I went back downstairs and found this:


It’s hard to tell, but Dudley has wedged himself behind the couch cushions and is in a little cave.

Those are my boys.

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