Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Going Out With A Bang

I bet you are wondering how I spent the last few hours of 2008.

Reflecting on the highs and lows of the year?

Writing out my resolutions?

Stuffing my face with party snacks?

No. No. And no.

I spent my precious time taking care of this mess:

In case you can't quite tell, that is poop smudged all over Jack's face.  And yes, there is a vast quantity quite near his mouth.

The picture doesn't reveal that there was also copious amounts of excrement smeared up and down his legs and arms.

Oh yes, and my bedroom carpet, the dining room floor, my duvet cover and me.

How did this happen?

It is tempting to assume that I am an unfit mother and incapable of diapering my child, but don't think that.  I am pretty sure that gross and traumatic things like this happen to a lot, if not most, moms.

Somebody please tell me I'm right about that.

Moving on...

The Story:

Jack had been cranky all day.  Nothing calmed him down.  He didn't want to eat (which he usually loves to do) or play.  He took lots of naps.

By five o'clock he was just pitiful.  One thing that always works to cheer my boy up is a bath.  Usually it is part of our bedtime routine.  Bath, baby massage, bottle, bed.

In the recent months we've also added "naked time" to the mix.
I love naked time.  I love his squishy little bum and his rolly arms and legs.  So yummy!

I also think it is good for his little bottom to air out occasionally. You know?

So he crawls around for a few minutes, exposed, then I diaper him and we continue with bedtime rituals.  

Back to tonight, I decided to give him his bath early to see if I could calm him down for the evening.  We had a nice long bath.  I brought in extra toys.  He laughed and splashed. It worked like a charm.

When he was done I brought him out in his towel and let him crawl around.  As I've already explained to you, that is normal in our house.

While he was playing, I got sidetracked with FB, blogs, e-mail... you know how the web just sucks you in.  I could hear Jack playing, then saw him crawl into my bedroom.  That also is a totally normal occurrence in my house. My bedroom is super child-proof and I often let him explore there.

I was listening to him talk to himself and kind of guessing what he was doing.  Then it became very quiet.  I told myself, "just check this one last thing, then go get him."

Before I even navigated to my next cyber destination I heard it. I little grunt.  Then another. 

I bound from my chair and dashed to the bedroom.  Two steps away I smelled it!


Before I was even to the doorway I could see the smears on the carpet.  I found Jack standing, as pleased as could be, by my bed.  Brown, sticky lump in hand.  

I immediately scooped him up and brought him out to the smooth floor in the dining room, then called my sister (who lives in a condo below us).  I ran a second bath and once she arrived she put Jack in the tub while I took care of one of the most disgusting messes I have cleaned up in a long time.

Don't worry, for your benefit we made sure to get the photo-op before we washed his face.  We also made a sisterly-pact to repeat the story to his first girlfriend.  A mission which Andy heartily agreed to.

My Final Lessons of 2008:
  1. Be on friendly terms with at least one neighbor.  You never know when you will need a second set of hands.
  2. Naked time may be cute, but it is not without danger.
  3. Don't check e-mail during naked time.
  4. Baby poop may be littler, but it is no less stinky than an adult's.
  5. NOTHING is truly baby proof.
  6. If Jack is cranky all day, maybe he just needs a good BM.
  7. I am a good mom.  If I can handle a poop disaster and live to laugh at the tale, I can handle anything!
Okay, now that we have that mess cleaned up, on to the party snacks!


Red Shoe Revelations: Part II

Okay, so I broke my promise.  I should know better than to assume that any day will go the way I plan.

I am hoping you will forgive me when I tell you that instead of revealing my RSR:II yesterday I was busying learning the two-step with my adorable husband.  

This was a pretty major night since we have never, in our two years of marriage (and 7 month dating/engagement period) danced together.  Never.

Not once.

Until last night.  

We were both TERRIBLE, but we had a blast.

So now, on to last Saturday evening when I donned my Exhibit B shoes.

For Christmas, Andy surprised me with tickets to the Pacific Northwest Ballet's presentation of the Nutcracker. 

I really wanted to go before Christmas, but we decided that financially it wasn't the best use of our money.  Instead we made a plan to go next year as a belated anniversary celebration.  Do the whole dress-up, dinner out thing.

I was okay with that.

But I was even more okay when I opened my presents on Christmas Eve and discovered two tickets that Andy had sneakily commandeered by way of my equally sneaky mother. 

His hard work at making it a surprise was almost blown when Ellery wanted to tell me about the tickets early.

But that has nothing to do with my red shoes, so we'll save that story for another time...

So, I finally got the tickets and Andy's mom, Angie, offered to watch Jack.  

Earlier in the day I had been totally drenched in snow-muck, so I was so excited to redress and give the day another shot at being cute. 

Plus, what woman doesn't like to dress up when she goes out with her hunky man?

My mom had also given me a very swanky black jacket and I put it on with my red heels.  I remembered the afternoon's debacle, but my vanity won out.  I was determined to be fancy for the fancy Nutcracker.

So I got all dressed and pranced around the house, preening for Andy and his mom.  My heel-walk saying, "look at me, look at meee!"

We made our way out of the house and down the steps...

But my first step onto the side walk sent me right back up the stairs.  

I just KNEW that it would be foolish to try and make it through an evening with those shoes on.  
Another day would be fine.  But Saturday was just too melty and yucky.

So I went back upstairs, put on my ugly, snow-safe, clogs and then traded my swanky jacket for my still cute, but not special occasion worthy, green peacoat.

During my quick change Andy had warmed up the car and was waiting for me right outside our door.  I got in the car and he sympathetically said, "I'm sorry honey."

He knows how much I like being dressed up, and he knew that the weather was putting a serious damper on my style.  

But here was the moment that I had the chance to choose to either pout, and have my evening spoiled, or just roll with the punches.  

On our last several dates, 
I am ashamed to admit that I have been 
the most unpleasant version of myself.  
I have given into tears and tantrums 
and carried a dark cloud into our rare times 
without a babe.

I don't know why I kept doing that, 
but it was becoming an issue and I resolved to stop it.  
What husband is going to want to keep taking his wife out 
when all she does is complain and cry 
when he tries to do something nice.  
It just doesn't make sense.  

So there I was, in the ugliest pair of shoes that I own, on my way to the most extravagant outing, probably of the last year. 

But when Andy said, "I'm sorry honey," something clicked for me.  The dressing up is my thing.  Andy doesn't need me to be all dolled up to have a good time.  He just needs me to be happy and comfortable and companionable.  

Truth be told, he probably doesn't think those shoes are all that great anyway. 

So when I got into the car, I made a choice to not even mention the shoes.  I would carry myself and behave as if I was the hippest girl around. I would smile, I would laugh, I would flirt with my beloved.

And can I tell you what!

My decision to enjoy myself, regardless of my appearance, was honored. Our dinner conversation was significant, full of hopes for the New Year, thoughts on the state of the Church, musings of how we as a family can have a greater impact for the Kingdom of God.  

And our car ride was peppered with mutual admiration for each other.  My lighthearted attitude provided an open door for Andy to express his gratitude for something I had done earlier, a small act that had made a big impact on him.  I would never had known if I had let the storm simmer.

And while Andy was totally miserable at the ballet (he fell asleep in the first act) we both, with unspoken unity, resolved that the night would be a fun one.  I didn't shame him for sleeping, he didn't grumble about being there.

In the past I have let the small things become large.  I have let my evenings be spoiled by unmet expectations or minor offenses.  I have decided to be mad. 

What a waste!

I can build the habit of happiness.  I can make the choice to set aside my ideas of "perfect" and enjoy what is.  

For this New Year, I want to train myself to be content.  To choose levity.  To breath life into my husband and son with the words I speak and the peace I promote.  To be unruffled by the minors of this world.  

So, my dear red shoes, thank you for this lesson.  I am sure there are many more to be had.  But I will take a day, or month or lifetime to soak this one in.

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that."  
1 Timothy 6:6

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Red Shoe Revelations

On Saturday the snow was starting to melt, but because there was so much of it the side streets and driveways were treacherously covered in dark, gritty slush.  


Very gross.

I had planned to meet my good mommy-friend at, where else, Target.  We both had money from Christmas and were eager for an excuse to get out of the house and swap mommy stories.

On Friday I had ventured out with Lizzie to spend some of my aforementioned Christmas cash.  I had found not one, but two dazzling red shoes on super clearance.  

Exhibit A: Deep red flats bejeweled with huge, bright gems ($10).

Exhibit B: Shiny ruby heels ($12).

That brings my red shoe total to three, or four if you count my satin zebra slippers with red leather accents.

Is that terrible?

You are probably wondering if my revelation from God was that I had too many red shoes.  It wasn't.  Whew!

Maybe he is saving that for another day. 

I hope not.


You know how it is when you have new things to wear.  You want to show them off as soon as possible.  And, seeing as how I was cooped up for weeks and weeks and weeks (maybe I'm exaggerating, but only a little) I was excited about the prospect of being SEEN.  It seemed like a good occasion to christen my new footwear.

Because it was a simple outing and I only expected to go from my car to the store, I donned the flats.  Sure there was still snow on the ground, but by Saturday it was very melty, remember?

My house to the car.  Fine.

My car to the store. Fine.

Inside the store, waltzing around.  Dazzling.

But then we added a trip to my bud's house.  She warned me that her parking lot was a mess and impossible to navigate with the said slush.  But never fear, there was a "trail" from a nearby strip-mall that would take us right to her door, and the public parking was much better for little cars. 

Great!  More visiting time!

It turned out though that my bejeweled shoes were no match for the muck.  My first step out of the car landed in a puddle up to my ankle, completely submerging my new shoes in dark, oily, ice-cold water. 


The trail was no better. With each step, I saw my new, sweet slippers darkened, smudged, sullied by the snowy wasteland.  

I considered crying.  I considered whining.  I considered forgoing the whole visit in an attempt to save my shoes.

But my heart heard a little whisper.  "They are just shoes."

Okay, I realize that that may not be a major revelation to most of you.  But in the process of coming to terms with the mess that is motherhood, I have taken refuge in fashion.  I like looking together.  I like being "that mom" who makes it seem so easy.  

There is nothing wrong with looking good.  Or with my glittery red shoes.  But there is something wrong when they own me. Which I confess was starting to happen.

So as I sloshed through the puddles, and watched the toes of my shoes blacken (you can see it in the picture) I just smiled.  

I was with my friend, headed to a warm cozy house. I could have mourned the wreckage of my purchase, but instead, I choose to let it be.

We had a yummy lunch, lots of laughs and a successful hair-dying.  I would have missed out on so much had I been absorbed in the state of my shoes.

I wonder how many other moments in my life I need to say, "They are just shoes."?  "It is just..." I don't want to be a woman who is blown and tossed by the winds.  I want to be steady, secure, sure.  I do not want to be distracted by disappointments and miss the joy that is waiting to be lived. 

Exhibit A, the flats, were just the first taste of my realization.  The heels took their turn later that evening.  But I think, that part of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.  

Stay tuned for Red Shoe Revelations: Part Two.  


I promise.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I Learned My Lesson

Do you ever have those days, weeks, months, or years when you know you are learning something good?  Something that you need to hold onto and let become part of who you are?

I had that day yesterday.

I had simple opportunities to be disappointed.  Discouraged.  Frustrated.  

If I had decided to pick up and carry those emotions, I would have missed out on what turned out to be a wonderful day.

Something happened inside of me that allowed me to quell the rising dismay.  I saw my moment of frustration in light of a bigger life.  Why waste my tears, emotions, time on a reaction that doesn't reflect who I want to be?  Why buy into a mentality that I don't want to define my character?

Instead, I respond with grace, with peace, and yes, with joy.

I know this attitude wasn't my own.  It can only be evidence of God transforming my heart.  I am glad to say that He is working in me. That is what I want.  

I will tell you the story, but in a future post. At this exact moment I have Eggs Benedict to make and a baby to play with.  I will tell you though, my revelation came from two pairs of red shoes.  Who knew that God could speak through fashionable footwear?  But He's God and I'm thankful He speaks to me at all!  

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Sweet Moments

I hope you had a lovely Christmas.  

Mine was full of wonderful moments with my sweet, sweet family.  

Jack was loaded down with toys and clothes from all of his adoring fans.  I am embarrassed to admit that I was lavished with gifts as well.  I keep liking the idea of a simple, inexpensive Christmas, but I just like buying presents (and getting them!).

I received a new camcorder, so perhaps, when I figure out all of the nuances, I will be able to capture and share Jack's funny moments.

Until I am proficient with the moving pictures, these stills will have to do. 

Enjoy a glimpse of my beautiful family, in no particular order:

Happy Sisters

My awesome brother-in-law and nephew.

Grandpa Aichele and Jack

Jack's rockin' Christmas hair.  
Does anybody know of a good styling product for little boys? The stuff Andy and I use doesn't seem effective for Jack's do.
Oh my gosh, I love this baby!

Dane and Jack both opened most of their presents with Grandma and Grandpa Erichsen.  It was so cute to see my parents buried in a pile of paper, toys and babies.

Okay, this has nothing to do with Christmas.  It is just ridiculously cute.

Ellery giving Angie (my mother-in-law) the longest hug in all of Ellery history.  
Everybody was jealous

The Erichsen girls.  Doesn't Lizzie look especially beautiful?
And of course, everyone testing out Andy's new Wii ~ which is really quite fun.  Just let me know when you want to come try it out ~ our house is open!

This may have been one of my favorite Christmas' of all time.  And with that, the New Year looks bright.  I can't wait for the adventures of 2009!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I didn't end up getting ribbon.  

I called my mom to notify her that our yearly, unspoken competition to have the best dressed gifts is off.  

She was out of ribbon too, so it worked out.

This morning I noticed that I am nearly out of straws. Unlike ribbon, straws are not a frivolity.  They are essential to the smooth running of our house.

Somewhere in the last year or so, Andy and I both developed the habit of drinking out of straws. 

When you come to my house and I offer you a drink and you say, "Oh just some water please." I always ask, "With ice and a straw?"

Every morning when I wake up I make a cup of cold chai and drink it through a straw.  I like that the tea is not hitting my front teeth, leaving unsightly stains.  My dentist likes that too.

In the same way that I picked up fancy from England, I do believe our straw habit started on a trip to Thailand.

The summer after we were married we went with a small group of friends from church to Thailand.  Our good friend Leland had visited a church there and arranged for us to come help at an English camp.

It was a lovely trip and left a lasting impression on our lives (many of you know just how very lasting - but some things are just too personal for a blog, don't you think?)

So you are probably wondering, where do the straws come in?  

I'm getting there.

Our first week in Asia we participated in a cultural orientation.  We had classes each morning and then spent the day with some of the amazing Thai friends; seeing Bangkok and learn from them.

I loved listening to their beautiful voices, hearing their jokes, learning their animal sounds (a rooster here says, "cock-a-doodle-do" a Thai rooster says, "eggy-eggy-AY") and catching some of the "slang" of our international peers.

One of the most entertaining phrases was, "Hi-so." An abbreviation for "high society."  Anything rich or fancy was "hi-so."  The term could be used with admiration, scorn, excitement or simple factual descriptions.

The van we rented was hi-so.  It had twinkly interior lights and flip down tv screens.  That was fun.

During our meals together and trips to 7-11, we all noticed that our Thai friends used straws for any drinking occasion.  A bottle of Gatorade? Drink it with a straw. A can of Sprite? Drink it with a straw. A bottle of water? Straw. Everything.

The explanation was simple. Straw-drinking is much more fashionable, hi-so, than drinking straight from the can/bottle/glass.

Drinking without one was, not rude, but almost.  Definitely not cool.

So, while there, we drank with straws.  When we got home we didn't adopt the practice immediately.  It sort of happened gradually. I probably bough straws for Ellery or because I liked the colors, or for some silly reason.  Then, since we had them, we used them.  

And now, we use them every day.  

I love it. 

So, if you want to be FANCY and HI-SO use a straw.  I think you will be happy with the results.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Importance of Ribbon

Today my nails are painted a bright, Barbie pink.  I've been snowed in for what feels like ages  and my solution was to paint my nails. It only distracted me from the trapped feeling for about 15 minutes, but, hey, that's something.

You may be wondering, "Emily.  Don't you know it is Christmas?  Pink is not a very festive color.  Why not red?"

Well, the answer is that I just felt like pink.  Okay?  

If it makes you feel any better, the presents that I've wrapped are VERY traditional this year.  Red and green and that is it.  

Last year they were a lovely brown and gold and turquoise.  Sigh.  BEAUTIFUL!  And very elegant.

But this year, the classics called to me.  

I was feeling so smug about getting a jump on Christmas earlier in the month, but all of a sudden, the 25th is just two days away and I still have a pile of presents to wrap.  Albeit, most of them I am wrapping for other people, as in, I offered to wrap their gifts to loved ones, but still, the fact remains that I have wrapping yet to do.

But I'm thwarted.  I've encountered a problem.  

I have no ribbon left. 

Ribbon is essential!  

None of those plastic bows for me!  

Wired lined ribbon preferably. 

You are probably thinking, "Well Emily-of-pink-nails-even-though-they-should-be-red, why don't you just go get some more ribbon?"

The answer to that is not so simple.  

First, there is the issue of the snow.  

Who really wants to traipse around with a baby when it is frigid and wet and a little bit scary? Call me a wimp if you must, but all that festive frosting on the road is a little intimidating. Our little side street is still exactly the same color as the sidewalks, yards and roofs.  WHITE.

Second, there is the issue of... well... what to call it? Practicality?

Is it really necessary for me to spent $10+ on ribbon, just so I can show off my gift gilding skills? Like most, I went just a teeny-tiny over what I intended to spend on presents.  I just like giving people what they want.  

As the house-wife that I now am, I am very conscious that if Andy's job is to make money, my job is not to spend it, but to save it.  I tend to be a little self-indulgent (hard to believe, I know, but true).  That is a habit I am very much trying to break. So, is the purchase of ribbon just to satisfy my personal pride in presenting beautiful packages?  Or is it a legitimate purchase to help express my love for the recipients of gifts?

$10 could be put to lots of uses:
a new pair of pants for Jack
dinner at Gorditos (yummmmm)
half a package of diapers
a coffee treat for me and a friend to facilitate a much needed connection
admission to the Children's Museum
a box of crackers from Costco to stock Andy's lunch for a month

See.  Not so simple.

This quandary needs further reflection.  I think I'll feed Jack, take a shower, and see where the day takes me.  I have a feeling it will take me to Target and to the ribbon isle, but we shall see.  We shall see.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What They Don't Tell You...

Motherhood is an INCREDIBLE, life-changing experience.  One that moves you irrevocably from your old life.  The change is good, but as with any change, there is an adjustment period.  

The thing about a baby though is that you are always adjusting.  The baby grows, so you do to. The adjustment period never ends.

Let me give you a glimpse into the nitty-gritty, real-life world of Emily and Jack.

Let's start with the fact that as I type, Jack has crawled under his high chair and discovered a spoon dropped from a previous meal (and probably parts of that previous meal).  He is chewing eagerly on the spoon while taking momentary breaks to "push."  

Which means that in a very few short minutes a special smell will waft toward my nose and I will be called away from this note to change a diaper.

What they don't tell you before you become a mom is that you will actually think his pushing face is cute.  You'll laugh, you'll tell people about it, you'll change another diaper like it is no big deal, and tomorrow you will do the same exact thing.

Also, no matter what anyone says,
Pampers really are the best diapers.
There is a reason they are twice as expensive.
I hate it when you really do have to pay more for
better quality.
Pampers, I love you.
But I can't afford you.
What is a mother to do?

Moving on.

After about 8 months of perpetual regurgitation I think that Jack has finally outgrown that stage.  He was a champion of spit-up and although I swore it wouldn't happen, I fell into a routine of sweatpants and tee shirts at home.  The disappointment of getting dressed, only to be doused with white slime was too much.  

But we are past that now.

Or so I thought.

Last night we went on the a family outing (yay for family outings!).  I had just that very day purchased a lovely, v-neck sweater.  Soft and gray. Unsullied by the early baby stage.  

I cannot express in words how delightful it felt to put on something new and fresh.  I felt revived, I felt pretty, I felt like a woman.

An hour into our activity it was covered with baby-gross.  Not just a little dribble of formula.  But real, genuine vomit.  Complete with lingering sick-smell.  I wanted to cry.  But I didn't.

What they don't tell you about motherhood is that clothes are just clothes.  Things will get wrecked.  You will wear sweatpants to avoid the heartache. But you learn to smile and remember that you have a happy baby who loves you with our without bile adornment and you have a husband who will still tell you, "you look stunning" and hug you even if you don't smell nice.  

And finally, in this addition of "What They Don't Tell You..."

I was sick this week.  Really yucky sick.  Being sick with a baby to look out for is about the most miserable thing that I have ever experienced.  EVER.

-WARNING: disturbing, but real-life details to follow-

At one point I was sitting on the toilet, with the garbage can on my lap.  Losing it from both ends... and there was my chipper baby, holding onto my knee.  I could do nothing to usher him out.  I could do nothing period.  

Well, I did do something.  I had Andy call his mom.  She swooped into the rescue and relieved me for the day.  

What they don't tell you about being a mom is that you'll admit many times that you can't do it alone.  Your pride will be put in its place.  You will be given endless opportunities to say, "I need help."  You will learn to not only accept, but seek out help, or you will crumble.  

The list of people who have helped me is long.  I am grateful for each simple act of kindness.  

What they might have told you about being a mom, but you poo-pooed or simply forgot, is that it is a hard job.  It feels impossible some days.  But in each impossible situation you can choose which attitude you will adopt.  You can cry (and I do).  You can get angry (and I do).  Or, hopefully, you can thrive.  You can let your character be developed right along with each of your baby's new skills.  

To all of you moms.  KUDOS!  You are doing a lovely job.

To all of you pre-moms.  Well, just wait.  Enjoy what you have now, because you can never, NEVER go back.  Most likely though, you won't want to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jack's Feet

This is Jack's Foot. 
Cute right?

I especially love his peas-in-a-pod toes.  

But do you want to know the one downfall of these sweet trodders?

I can't buy his shoes at Target.  I buy everything at Target!  All of my baby-needs come home in the white and red plastic bag (unless I remember my reusable ones, which, I'll be honest, is only about two times in ten).  

For the last month Jack has been "that poor baby who doesn't wear shoes even though it is December."  I just didn't have any that fit him.  So, the other day on one of my regular trips to the Baby Mecca I looked for a pair.  I tried every option on his pudgy little foot.  If it fit the ankle, it was a good two inches too long.  Nothing worked.  

I've had this problem with socks before.  They all leave a ring around his calf because his legs are so chunky.  In fact, if Andy hasn't already told you this story, Jack has a big scar on his leg from his first few days of life.  When we brought him home from the hospital I put a pair of socks on him.  They seemed to fit just fine and he wore them overnight.  When I took them off the next day there was an angry red welt where the sock had been.  It actually broke the skin!  Now, almost nine-months later, the mark is still there.

That problem was pretty easy to solve.  Now I just buy socks labeled for 18-24 months or 2-3 years. Yes I know he is only nine-months old.  But we have to be flexible as parents.

However, I didn't know about the shoes.  I was pretty shocked that Target could let me down like that.  

So last night Andy and I were finishing up some Christmas shopping at the Mall.  We sought out the specialty (read, expensive) kids shoe store, hoping for some options for Jack.  

He got to have his foot measured and everything.  Jack stood up (with my support) and happily complied with what the sales associate asked.  He did it all with a big grin on his face. He just loves having a friendly face to gaze at. 

So Jack's official size is 2 and a half.  We were instructed to buy a half size big, so that he could grow into it.  

But wait, the woman pointed out a few sizes that run especially wide, so we asked to try those.  Let me just tell you now that those pairs were priced at $45.  Forty Five Dolllars!  For baby shoes!!!  Ugh.  But I thought maybe we would just tell grandma to get them for Christmas.  Andy's response to that was, "Babies don't want shoes for Christmas!" to which I laughed heartily because babies have no idea about the whole thing.  I was just going to wrap up a box with paper scraps in it and let Jack go crazy.  

Anyhow, I digress.

So we tried on these supposedly wide-running shoes and they were impossible.  Never fear, says our assistant, "They come in wide."  Did the wide work?  No.  Did we have to by EXTRA WIDE?  Yes.  Did we also have to buy special socks that didn't have a band around the top to cut into his leg and that are thin so that the shoe actually fits?  Yes.

Oh Jack, I hope we don't have to buy you specialty shoes the rest of your life!  Our budget can't handle that.  

Perhaps I should compose a letter to Target requesting that they carry extra-wide baby shoes.  Hmmm... I'll consider that.

Until then, if someone happens to have an extra pair of extra wide shoes, in any size, please, please send them our way.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Can Do That

I made them.

They are good.

I won't make them again.

It took ALL DAY.  As in EIGHT-PLUS hours.

I'm still tired from it.

BUT, I feel very proud for having accomplished it.  Especially considering my track record with other baked goods.

I'm also feeling smug for being in the midst of a two-baby day (meaning that I have Dane all day, which is A LOT of work) and having gotten in a shower and now stealing a moment to brag about my accomplishment.  I ROCK!  


I had a mini-realization this morning in the shower.  My life as a mom is not glamourous.  Before 9:00 this morning I had already been spit on, peed on, had slimy banana in my arm hair, changed a poopy diaper, been pinched, and done a ridiculous dance to please a 17 and 8 month old.

The fact that motherhood is not glamourous was not the revelation.  It was the fact that I expected it to be.  

A lightbulb went on for me.  

So much of my discouragement, frustration, sadness or anger comes from unmet expectations. Many, many times I don't even realize that I hold those conceptions of what my life will, or should, be like.  Once I see them, then I can work on adjusting to a more realistic appreciation for what my life is, rather than what it might be. 

I aspire to glamour.  In my hair, my fashion choices, in my home, in the way people perceive me.  But it is just another endless chase.  

A few entries ago I mentioned a sort of fantasy book series that I had enjoyed.  The tales blend fairy-folk and other mythical creatures into the world as we know it (cheesy, I know, but guys, I love that kind of stuff).  The author describes the fae as "wearing their glamour."  The idea is that they don't want people to see what they really look like, so the create an image to portray to the world.  

That is what I use glamour for too.  I want to hid behind an image that says "I've got it together."  But sometimes, I just don't. Okay, sometimes I DO have it together, but I've already done my bragging for this entry... 

I want to use glamour to hide fatigue, discouragement, indecision, boredom, and a myriad of other hard emotions that seem taboo.

What I want more, NEED more, than glamour is satisfaction.  Fruitfulness in the things that bless God's heart: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self-control.  

So instead of lamenting the fact that my life is messy, figuratively and literally, why not delight in the sweetness of what it is right now?  Today.  

Well, my time is up.  Messy babies are calling me to pull them from cribs and feed them and pour love into their day.  I can do that.  I can do it gracefully and honestly.  I can do that with no pretense and no need for a show.  And I will.

Here I come babies.  It is going to be a lovely day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Five-year Plan

I want these.

Jack's latest antics:
  • At this very moment he is rolling and chasing a foam soccer ball all over the dining room floor and sort of singing to himself.  I love watching him play!
  • Yesterday while I was feeding him lunch (little pieces of leftover dinner, because he's so grown up and can feed himself) he picked up a piece of chicken and held out his hand to me.  It took me a second to connect the movement to the intent, but he was offering me his food!  Awww!  Thanks baby!  So now I am in that "pretend eating" phase.  That's right, I'll be the mom making exaggerated chewing faces and swallowing noises for the next few months. 
  • When I'm bustling about the house, especially when I'm making dinner, I still have a little shadow.  It is so, so endearing!  It makes it a little hard to move though, because if I stand still for too long Jack climbs right up my legs and stands that way, gripping my pants.  His balance is precarious enough that if I move too quickly, down he goes.  So I stand motionless or do a VERY slow motion shuffle across the kitchen floor.  But mostly I just laugh and then carry him back into the living room so that I have about three minutes to stir, taste, plate, before he is back, clinging to my leg.  
Perhaps it is an indicator that Jack will be more proficient in the kitchen than his father.  

For the sake of my future daughter-in-law, I sure hope so.

Although, GUYS, Andy made me dinner last week! It is true!  And, I think with a some slightly modified grocery purchases, he is willing to make dinner once a week.  I cannot even tell you what a giant leap this is for all of Aicheledom!  

I used to joke that I had a five-year plan to get Andy in the kitchen.  (His joke has always been that he married me for the food - It's only a joke people!)

The first phase of my plan was to send Andy on little grocery runs, all by himself.  For nothing too crazy, but things not found in the Hamburger Helper isle.  Maybe some garlic.  Maybe some olive oil.  Maybe some pimento peppers.  

An example of items on the list I give him looks like this:  Fresh basil - it is in the produce section, in the refrigerator case, on the top left hand side, in a little plastic box type thing, it should be 2.99.  Avocado - not rock hard, not too squishy, it should just give a little when you squeeze it.  

One time he OFFERED to get my whole list (double digit items people!).  I re-wrote the list in order of how he would find it in the store, isle by isle.

You may think I'm over the top, but the point is for him to feel like HE CAN DO IT!  Make it easy.  Make it not a chore.  

This was the first step.

Truthfully, I didn't know what would come after that.  But I thought, hey, five years is a good amount of time, I'll come up with something.

The next step ended up being Eggs Benedict.  Almost every Sunday morning we sleep in, get up and make coffee and toddle around for an hour or so, and then I make Eggs Benedict.  It is not a good thing to eat if you are watching your calories, or worried about cholesterol, but if you want to make your taste buds happy, give it a try.   

Anyhow, Andy KNOWS how happy it makes me to cook with people, especially him, so one morning he volunteered to help.  SERIOUSLY!?  YES YOU CAN HELP!  Be still my beating heart!

His big thing is he says he's not creative, he needs rules, instructions.  Well, the part of our brunch that has instructions is the sauce.  It is just a packet of sauce mix to which you add milk and butter and stir.  

So now, Andy squishes in the kitchen with me to man the sauce.  I love it.  I am grinning ear to ear just thinking about it.  

So I guess sauce mix was stage two.  

Thanks to Trader Joe's, we now are in stage three (I have no idea how many stages it will take to be cooking buddies, but I am now VERY optimistic that it will happen in my lifetime).  TJ's has very yummy frozen food.  In particular, I am thankful for the Orange Chicken and the microwave rice.  Andy has made this twice now, very successfully (I did sneak into the kitchen and add some broccoli, but veggies are a few steps away I think, so I'm okay with that).

I wish you could know the multitude of emotions that swell in my heart as he brings me a plate of food that I didn't have to lift a finger to prepare.  Gratitude, adoration, pride, victory, burning desire (after all, it has to be worth his while, no?).

Ah. Happy sigh.

The fine and tender nuances of married life.  

Andy, thanks for being willing to try something that you think you'll (and probably do) hate, just to make me happy. I appreciate you, and your efforts, very, VERY much.


For those of you not in the know, 
that is a kiss noise.  
Like a highfalutin pair of ladies 
holding each other on the shoulders, 
with pinkies up 
and leaving an air kiss on each cheek. 
 "Muah, muah.  How aaaree you daaahhling?"
In our case it simply means,
"If you were here right now I would kiss you!"
Feel free to borrow it for all of your lovey-dovey needs.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snack Review

Okay, my current FAVORITE snacking items:

Salty: "Everybody's Nuts Pistachios" in Salt and Pepper flavor.  SO yummy!  And they are pistachios, so you have to work really hard to eat each one which, in theory, means you will eat less at a sitting than say, Smokehouse Almonds.  I get mine at Costco, but I'm sure they can be found elsewhere.

Sweet:  TRADER JOES CANDY CANE JOE-JOES!!!!! AGHHHHHHHHH!!!! They make me so, so, SO happy!  I got my first package last night and the first bite sent me dancing across the living room.  I am currently working my way through a stack by the computer.  If you do not have access to a Trader Joes, please, let me know.  I will personally guarantee that you are able to sample these delicious treats.  Excuse me now while I take another bite and groan with pleasure.  YUM!