Friday, August 28, 2009

making the most of the mUnDaNe

i have been a little down.

and realize that this will be my 3rd negative sounding post in a row, so i apologize in advance. you think that would stop me from writing it, but oohhhhh no.

i will forge ahead.

because writing is my therapist, the free one that doesn't make me lay down on a couch and discuss my childhood. the one that just sits and listens as i vent and whine and complain about how things aren't going the way i had hoped, but doesn't say the words,

"you are such a baby!"

but instead, says nothing, and lets me figure out for myself that i am in fact, a total baby.


this last semester of ben's school has been hard. he has pushed himself to the limit i think, working very hard at school (pulling out awesome grades, btw) and then working thurs-sun nights working overnight graveyard shifts. thinking about the schedule he has been pulling, i'm not quite sure how he's alive right now.

i'm grateful for how hard he is working, for the sacrifice he makes and the length he will go to make sure we are taken care of. i thank God every day that i have a husband who will do whatever it takes for me and for our children.

the semester has been difficult for me too though. i know, i know. comparatively, to ben, i should just keep my whining mouth shut. but just because he's had it harder doesn't make things much easier on me, you know?

we only have one car. again, boo hoo. at least we have one car. i know, i get it. but with only one car and ben gone so much for the past 3 months, we have been cooped up with a capital C. it's too hot to go outside without your face melting off, and the pool has been out because leah has been too young to wear sunscreen.

i've pulled out as many tricks out of my hat that i can think of. bringing caleb's tent out, letting him put a slide in our front room, buying new games, puzzles, crafts, you name it. and luckily it's kept him mostly happy.

so why am i so down?

well i guess, because i'm not so easily entertained by markers and a coloring book. i got out my paints again and tried to let the creative juices flow, but instead just sat there blankly staring. i read a book, and tried to avoid the t.v. for my birthday ben bought a treadmill so that i would be able to get the exercise i've been craving that i can't get because of the blaring sun outside.

however, because of the lack of space in our apartment, the treadmill had to go in our bedroom. where the baby sleeps. so you see the problem with that scenario.

so for my birthday present...before i knew ben was getting a treadmill, i asked to go away for a weekend. to get to cooler weather, and just be....


whoever that person is. i haven't seen her in a while.
you saw how well that weekend panned out. i had desperately needed a break from my life and instead had returned disappointed.

but i tried to buck up, knowing that just a few days away from what i have now titled "standby nightmare 2009," i would be able to head out to utah. where even though i'd be traveling alone with my kids, i would be welcomed by cooler weather with open arms. and would be able to go outside, visit family and friends, get some much needed fresh air, and relax.

two days before i left, i began feeling sick. an insanely painful headache and sore throat. i tried to get rest, but was on my own doing laundry, packing, cleaning, and all that goes with planning an almost 3 weeks away vacation, and flying alone with two kids.

luckily, we made it through. even though on the plane ride there i thought my nose would explode due to the combination of clogged sinuses and altitude.

as we arrived in utah i was still not feeling well, but pushed through it so that we could make the most of our time there and spend quality time with family and friends. i wasn't sleeping well at night because i couldn't breathe when i lay down, and was sharing a room with my two kids so i had to smother my face into a pillow each time i coughed up a lung so that i wouldn't wake them up.

whatever, i deal with it.

then leah starts acting a little weird. not eating, runny nose. you know. there's a family party up at ben's house with people in town that i haven't seen and won't see for a long time, so even though i absolutely despise being the family that shows up with sick kids...we still go. (although, i want you to know that i did call ahead of time to let them know and ask if they still wanted us to come because i was fully prepared to stay home.)

the next day, leah starts throwing up. after the 3rd time, she just stops eating.

that night at dinner, caleb throws up.

i just can't believe my good luck!

we spend the next 3 days inside. me doing laundry non-stop, running up and down stairs, trying to not focus on the fact that i am playing the role of single parent yet again...which is pretty much how i've felt for the past 6 months. (did i fail to mention that ben wasn't in town yet? this was his finals week so he was coming out a week after us...just after the kids get all better. nice.)

and this is when i have to admit--i got a little ticked off.

i mean, seriously! every time we come to utah we get some sort of violent illness. last time caleb was throwing up every 20 minutes for about 7 hours.

so i'm sitting downstairs after both kids are finally asleep, feeling sorry for myself and wondering when i can get my identity back. i mean, i love being a mom, but sometimes i feel like

is this all there is for me?

and then i had a thought. i was glad it came at this moment because it stopped me from crying big baby tears about how i've lost myself amid vomit clothes, only having one car, being stuck inside for pretty much the last 4 months, and now being sick on vacation.

and my thought was,

the smallest, most mundane things
will be the most important for them.

i think sometimes i get stuck on the fact that we don't get to do all of these fun, fancy vacations. that i haven't had the opportunity to put caleb in swim lessons, or tumbling class, or soccer, or t-ball, like other families due to ben's crazy schedule and (again) only having one car.

i know that time will come, and am anxiously awaiting it, but right now just isn't that time.

so what are my kids going to remember about these past few months?

that i have been there.

day in, day out. through nightmares, poopy diapers, throwing up, tantrums, colic, constipation. you name it, we've probably experienced it.

as hard as it's been on my psyche to be cooped up and feel like the walls of our apartment are closing in faster than caleb can say, "i think i'm going to frow up," i am building a foundation for my children. something tangible, that they can count on. yes it's difficult when i feel like this is all i have been consumed with, but i'm grateful that i had this thought to remind me of what i am doing it for.

because i feel like that is the true meaning of unconditional love. being there through it all even when it's gross and makes you gag, or want to scream back at your toddler when he's screaming at you (even though you don't), or cry with the newborn who can't stop crying.

"through small and simple things are great things brought to pass..."

and the great thing that has been brought to pass these past 6 months?

my children. know. that i love them.

i think we can get caught up in all the things we aren't doing for them. or i guess i'll just speak for myself here. i think about that all of the time. how much easier it would be if we had money, or nice things, or more time, or live in a cooler climate, or had our own yard to play in.

but in the end, those things don't really matter most. sure, they can add to the experience. they can make things a little less stressful, or even just less boring.

i guess what i'm saying is that if all caleb remembers about being 4 years old is his love of macaroni and cheese or the tramillion stuffed animals he crammed in his tent every night to play "camp out," then i am satisfied. because i know that i have been with him through these things and have provided safety, stability and love.

so if you're at all like me and feel at times like you've been swallowed up in mommyville with not a lot of light for coming out anytime soon, try to remember that the most important thing you can do for your kids is just be there. and love them.

and that will make those mundane things have purpose and meaning. which makes it easier for me to get up tomorrow and do it all over again.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

episode 22: mommy expectations

hi there,

new episode alert! the four of us talk about what surprised us about motherhood. whether it's losing your freedom, developing anxiety, lovely potty training and the curve balls that kids throw at us.

and as for us???

we have one more day left in utah. i'm so glad that we got through the utah virus with minimal damage, and have been able to actually enjoy ourselves for a bit.

i've taken a blogging hiatus and am wondering how i'll get back into the swing of things.

i guess we'll see, won't we?

not looking forward to leaving friends and family, or the lovely cool weather but have to say that i am looking forward to my own bed again. there's just something about 2 weeks living out of suitcases that does it to me...every time!

Monday, August 17, 2009

new episode: the things we do for love!

hi there,

i'm in utah, visiting family.  i've been sick.  and now that i'm feeling better, both of my kids are sick.  so in between runny noses, sneezing, coughing and the baby vomiting up mucus...

we are having a lovely time.

i'll expound on the highlights of the trip when i get a chance, and will leave the details of the chunky barf out of it.  you're welcome.

until then, 

there's a new real moms guide episode up, and it's about the things we do to show our family unconditional love.

i found it quite ironic that i watched it just minutes after being thrown up on, doing the load of throw-up laundry, giving the baby a bath and rocking her to sleep as i am still here in my pajamas and bedhead.  

ah, the things we do for love.

watch the episode here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

leah update--how she's doing now...

i had several people ask me how leah is doing after her last trip to the ER, and how her breathing problems at night are, so i thought i'd write a quick update...

with the first trip to the ER for her waking up several times panicking and arching her back, we were told that the doctors wanted to order an EEG to make sure that it wasn't seizures. i really felt it was unnecessary, because i had already had a kid who has seizures, and this looked nothing like them. i know seizures can come in different shapes and sizes, but still. i watched her very closely each time she would do this and really, she just seemed like something was making her very uncomfortable.

while in the hospital i asked the doctor about the possibility of reflux. they said it definitely could be a possibility, and said they would have to schedule out a couple of weeks for a reflux test. since caleb was on reflux medicine, i knew that it is a very mild prescription that has little side effects, and also knew that within a couple of days i would be able to tell if that were the problem or not.

so i pushed to have them write a prescription, got it filled, and started her on it immediately.

within two days, she stopped waking up at night. there was no more panicky episodes, and she started taking longer naps in the day time.

i spoke with her pediatrician about this and said that i didn't feel like an EEG was necessary. he said that we should still do it, "just in case." luckily for me, the EEG couldn't be scheduled until a month away. i figured that would give me time to really watch her, and consider my options.

3 weeks later...

since the problem had clearly gone away, it was the day before the EEG and they had a 24 hour cancellation policy. i talked with ben about what our decision would be and how we both felt about it. i was grateful that we both felt the same way.

and picked up the phone to cancel the EEG.

so that's what we did, and i feel completely at peace about it.

like i said on the episode, if i had felt any reason to do the EEG, i would have definitely done it. there's no long-lasting effects from an EEG, it just makes for a long day and a lot of crying and discomfort on the one getting the test done. not to mention, after the little suctions with wires are glued to the baby's head and are then removed, they take hair with them! so more bald patches for little leah.

i'm totally kidding here, i wasn't worried about that at all.

anyway, she has been perfect since then. like i said, she sleeps better, longer, and is more content with this reflux medicine. reflux doesn't always mean spitting up (because she doesn't unless she is completely overstuffed) but can just mean that there is extra acidity in the baby's stomach that causes discomfort each time they eat.

so there you go!

she is 5 months old now and such a happy baby.

and we all know that

happy baby = happy mom!

Monday, August 10, 2009

episode 20: baby leah goes for a spin in the ER...twice

the new episode is up about when leah went to the hospital, the first time for breathing problems, and the second time for a fever.

you probably already read this post that i wrote when i was going through these crazy two weeks, but just in case you missed it, click on the linky above.

and for the episode, click here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

life lessons in the airport.

i am in phoenix.

it is hot.

i am staring at my suitcase, that is still packed.

i am listening to my baby learn how to put herself back to sleep, even though i thought this lesson had already been learned. however, in the last less than 24 hours, she apparently got the impression that she no longer needed to do this.

i am tired.

and am bummed.

pause for a moment, while i go comfort the little lady...

i'm back.

(she is still crying, but now knows that i love her. isn't that why i do that? remind her she's not alone, that she can do this? that i believe in her? or does it just send her the message that i care, but not enough to pick her up, like she really wants me to? i go back and forth between this.)


in an attempt for this to not become a whining-like-a-spoiled-brat posting, i will summarize:

--months ago, our friend dave (who works for southwest) mailed me some stand-by tickets, with a note to encourage me to go have some fun, whether it was with ben and the kids, or just on my own. i was elated!
--ben & i work it all out, and i call my lovely friend and old roommate from college, lindsay, who lives in seattle, to see if i can visit her.

pause again...she's asleep! (well that didn't last too long. she does know i love her. yay.)

--ben takes off work, and i pack my bags.
--only to realize that flying stand-by is much more difficult than i thought it would be. that is, if you don't want to get stuck in an unfamiliar city with just a smile on your face and the lastest trashy magazine in your hand. which i didn't.
--i left last night, didn't get on the first flight to seattle, but was able to get to salt lake and told that i would "certainly" get on the flight in the morning. (thanks to my dad who picked me up at 1am)
--got about 3 hours of sleep, only to call and be told that the morning flights were full, and to try the next one.
--arrive at the airport ready to roll. only to not get on the next flight and told that i could go to boise instead? no thank you. boise is nice, but lindsay doesn't live there. and at this point, i know i'm going to have to fly back on sunday and hope to get on flights back to AZ.
--i asked when the next flight to phoenix was and was told that there was one boarding immediately. so with slumping shoulders, and dragging my trashy magazine (okay, truth? by this time, i had 3 magazines. that jon gosselin is SUCH a DB.) with me, i flew back.

when i called ben to ask him to pick me back up, his cheery and upbeat voice on the other end said,

"well, think of it this got a night away from the kids!"

and even though i know he said that with the intention of it making me feel better,

it didn't.

so now, i will attempt to pull myself out of my being bummed-ness, and talk about the airport. it's a fantastic place to people watch, which i love to do. it's also a great place to realize many important things, such as:

#1--if you pack only two pairs of shoes, one for exercising and the other for wearing to church and looking less height-deficient, don't be a botard and wear the church shoes around the airport.

my SIL carrie is under the impression that you "dress up" for the airport? shows just how much she knows. i realize now that if i were people watching myself, i would think,

who is that stupid girl wearing high heeled sandals looking frustrated and in pain?

lesson learned.

#2--if you decide to sit down and eat a salad and read one of your magazines, and a man with a wedding ring on his finger in a business suit makes eye contact with you, don't acknowledge him.

because it will spark a conversation that will end in his request to pay for a hotel room for you, if you don't make the flight connection.

lesson learned.

#3--buy earplugs.

because not only do you know that you don't like to hear your own kids whining and screaming during an entire flight, but you like to hear others' kids even less. either that or, pack toys for other peoples' children. seriously, what is the mom thinking? let's just hope that by letting your kids stare out the window at the endless row of clouds, they will continue to be entertained?

i've traveled with kids...and am about to do so again in 4 days. i know that it's difficult and they can just be rotten no matter what you do. but i watched 2 moms with absolutely nothing to entertain their children except the vomit bags and the sounds of themselves screaming. that's when i get a little bugged.

lesson learned.

#4--why oh why is the 80's coming back?? haven't we learned anything?? why did i see a 40 something woman sporting black stirrup pants, gold flat shoes and jelly bracelets? this is human cruelty in its truest form. so the lesson for this is, don't go back to the 80's!

lesson learned.

#5--just because you are a couple, and in love, and we're on an airplane where you think it's private enough to make out during the entire flight, you're wrong.

your lip smacking, incessant giggling and ooh's and ahh's are now neck and neck with the screaming children in the race for the worst noises possible on an airplane. 2nd runner up? hearing the pilot say to you, "well, we're just going to sit here for a bit and see if this weather clears up."

and you realize that you're in for 45 minutes more of enduring the torturous noises.

lesson learned.

#6--now sit up and pay attention here, because this is the most important lesson of them all:

never, ever plan a weekend getaway on stand-by tickets.

because you'll probably spend two days in airports like me, and then just end up coming home (in a very sarcastic mood, if you couldn't tell). either that, or if you decide to chance it, make a pit stop to the ATM first. because you're going to have to bring a wad of cash with you to throw at someone in a desperate attempt to get them to give you their seat.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

being a mom-spiration...

my fabulous sister lauren who runs the popular mom blog
wrote an article about.....ME. you may be asking yourself "why?"
i know, right?
she is the sweetest, even if the stuff she says about me
makes me feel like she's talking about someone else.

if you want to read it, click on this link!
and leave a comment for her, telling her who YOUR mom-spiration is.

thanks lauren, i love you.

episode 19: love & marriage

there's a new episode up on where we all discuss marriage.

if you'd like to watch it, click here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

she's got the moves

a couple of days ago i set leah on her little play mat. about 10 minutes later, i walked back into the room and couldn't see her, but could hear her. this is where she ended up:

i still can't figure out how she did it. she just turned 5 months on the 27th...we're in for some trouble once she really learns how to crawl.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

adventures in roughin' it

today is ben's birthday.

he is 30 and has turned into a mature, old man overnight. or that is what he tells himself.

the truth is, he will always be a boy at heart and i love that about him. he will always be excited to give people presents, anticipate vacations, make birthdays special. he will always be the first adult male on the floor with a bunch of kids, making up games and encouraging them to use their imagination.

and no matter how old he gets, he will always be the boy who i fell in love with 7 years ago, and the man who i am still in love with today. sigh.

that being said, i agreed to do something for his birthday that i normally wouldn't do:

camping. (cue scary music)

now i don't dislike camping because i'm a primadonna and can't stand to get dirty. i think it's healthy to get a little dirty, go a day without showering, and have your husband tell you that you smell like sweat and dirt.

but there are two things that have a tendency to provoke an anxiety attack just from mentioning the word "camping."

1) bugs. i hate them with a passion so deep inside my soul that it sometimes astounds me.

2) my overactive imagination. i have heard too many scary camping stories, seen too many scary movies, and was born into this world on july 22nd with the ability to scare myself to the point that i can become paralyzed with fear.

that being said.

when our friends called and invited us to celebrate jardan's birthday, i fully intended to turn them down kindly but made the mistake of looking into ben's hope-filled brown eyes. and all he had to say was one word.


blast it all. so i conceded, and we packed up to go.

luckily our fantastic friends had a camper so at least we weren't going to just be sleeping in tents. shudder. my mind can conjure up some pretty intense things when i'm sleeping in a tent. and instead of getting rest, all i can think of all night is, "there is only a scrap of material between you and..." whatever it is i am most afraid of at the moment.

but i decided that ben would only turn 30 once, and so therefore i would only have to go camping one last time in my life. this is the lie i told myself in order to get in the car.

the ride was great, i got to stare at this little mug the whole way.

the minute we arrived at the camp site, i coated myself in bug spray. one fear down, one to go.

so we got all set up and after the kids finally went to bed, roasted s'mores and as visions of charcoaled marshmallows and chocolate danced in our heads we got ready to settle in for a long summer night's nap.

unfortunately, right before we got in the camper, we took a potty break. and as our friends were out and about tending to their business, they heard a noise. something was right next to them, creeping through the trees. and it wasn't human. aubrey took off running, and as she relayed the story to me, my imagination started spinning.

what could it be? a bear that's going to eat my brain out of the back of my head? a bobcat who likes to munch on chubby babies? or worse...what if it was something that my mind couldn't come up with?

i reminded myself that there wasn't just a scrap of material between my flesh and the great unknown...i was in a camper! that's right! totally safe! i closed my eyes in comfort.

somehow we came up with the idea that it would be fun for caleb and his little 2 1/2 year old friend eve to share a bed. just below them was myself, leah and ben. on the other side of the camper was aubrey and jardan.

well surprisingly enough, there is a place in arizona that does get cold at night. a miracle! but unfortunately, eve woke up cold. and upset. twice. each time i had to sit up and move out of the way so that her parents could comfort her. then leah woke up. ben continued snoring like a bear. the third time that eve woke up, the sun was rising and i decided to give up hope that i was going to get any rest at all.

jardan was nice enough to offer to take leah outside of the camper with eve so i could try to sleep, but 10 minutes later caleb woke up. that was it. i walked outside, greeted the morning with puffy eyes and a lovely bed head, and coated myself in bug spray.

when ben finally rolled out of the camper, i handed him the baby, said "goodnight," and walked back into the camper to fall asleep.

i don't know how long i was out, but i woke up laying next to leah without another person in sight. i assumed they had gone on a nature walk, which wouldn't have been a problem except...

i had to go to the bathroom. badly.

you know that feeling when your bladder actually hurts because there's too much fluid in it? well that was where i was at.

since i had leah and didn't want to leave her in the camper alone, i wasn't sure what to do. the portapotties weren't an option because they were seriously nasty...someone had decided to make artwork out of their bodily waste and spread it all over the walls. flies were everywhere. and since i am one who will only "hover" in public potties, i couldn't do that and hold onto the baby.

my only other option was to head out into the trees somewhere. but as i looked around, we were surrounded by other families camping. that, and again, i couldn't figure out the logistics of being able to hold onto leah and do my business.


i waited. painfully.

to distract myself, i did a little photo shoot of miss leah. here's one:

doesn't she look happy? well of course she does. i had just changed her diaper and her bladder was empty.

20 minutes went by. then 30. i called their cell phones. no answer.


finally i started getting nervous. i wasn't sure how long they would be gone and knew that a UTI was in my near future if i didn't get some relief.

outside the camper, i heard one of our neighbors talk to the lady in the camping spot next to us, who had 2 dogs with her and was in her mid 20's. she sounded nice enough. hmmmmm...

no. i couldn't.

as far as mothers go, i would consider myself one of the most over-protective, cautious ones i know. i get extremely angry when i hear of parents being negligent with their children and something happens to them.

i watched the neighbor lady.

just then, i realized she was packing up to leave.

then judged the distance from her to the portapotties. she was in plain sight, so the only time i would actually have to take my eyes off of my child would be the 30 seconds or so that i was answering nature's call. her dogs were still outside, tied to a tree. i knew that if she really loved her dogs, there is no way she would have time to shove my baby in the car and grab her dogs by the time i came running out. could she?

i had to make a snap decision. i said a little prayer in my heart, grabbed my baby and walked over to her.

"hi." i said.

"oh, hey there." she answered back.

i just blurted it out, quickly.
"um,iwouldneverdothisexceptireallyneedtogotothebathroomandit'sanemergencyandisthereanywayyouwouldholdmybaby? and you're not crazy are you?" my voice squeaked a little with the word crazy.

"oh, sure. that's fine. no, i'm not crazy." she said with a little laugh.

yeah, that's what the crazy people say, i thought in my head. but knew there was no going back.

"hernameisleahandshe'sagirl," i rambled again. not quite sure why i had to specify that, but it seemed important at the time. i handed her over, took one last glimpse at my chubby gal and took off in a sprint. i'm sure at this point, the stranger was thinking about how crazy i was, but whatever, i had more important business to tend to.

i was in an out in a flash, and even though i could see returning from the porta potty that leah was safe and sound, sprinted back. i thanked the kind lady, thanked God in my heart, and went back into the camper. a few minutes later, the good samaritan left the campsite.

5 minutes after that, the rest of my crew returned. i told them that leah had almost been kidnapped (just kidding). and ben said to me,

"well the reason we came back was because while we were out on our hike, we saw you running back and forth fromt he porta potty and thought something might be wrong."

apparently they saw the flash of my blonde hair and black shirt and decided to head back. nice to know that they were close enough to see me and that i probably could have screamed out ben's name so that he could relieve me so i could go to the bathroom, but whatever. it was over, i risked my child's life in order to save my bladder's and all was well.

after that, we ate lunch and packed up. then we went to slide rock, which was a beautiful area that you could swim and go down natural water slides. the water was ice cold and felt fabulous.

i got in, cooled off, and then hung out with leah while the rest of the group went down the slides. for a long time, she did this:

then she finally woke up and i sat in the water and dipped her toes in. doesn't she look like little bo peep in this hat? cute, but a bit ruffly. ah well.

when everybody came back, both toddlers had had enough and were starting to decompose, so we decided to head back home. after an icecream break.

leah decided to sleep for the first 1/2 hour of the ride, then wake up and torture everybody with her dislike for her carseat. and by "everybody," i meant me. amazingly enough, even through her screams, the row of people in front of me looked like this:

we finally made it home, and all in one piece! and to think, it was barely 24 hours from the time we had left. it was fun and exhausting all in one day. really though, the company was great and none of us were eaten by anything. not even one bug bite!

a birthday miracle.

when it was all over, ben had the guts to ask me,

"soooo. if we had a camper like that, would you come camping with me?"

"sure," i answer warily.

"so like, 6 or 7 times a summer?"

"try 3 times a year. max." and he accepted it.

the thing is, even though it's fun, camping is a lot of work. and really, i just like my bed. with it's four walls and a door. and most importantly, the working powder room nearby.

but for the chance to spend time with friends, my family, and enjoy nature for a night or two?

yep, i'd do it again.

happy 30th, bennigans. i love you.