Thursday, November 25, 2010

Ahhh, the Holidays,,,,

The Holidays....such a treat they are! The gathering with loved ones, the memory-making, the quality time spent with old and new is just a great time of year.


When it's not. 

When you are missing someone at the Thanksgiving table that was there last year....this holiday can be a very bittersweet time. Be it due to a move, a military engagement, a different commitment, or still stings a touch when whomever-it-is, isn't there.

This Thanksgiving, I have been surrounded by family - by people who know me well and like me anyway. People who adore my Beans. Who love My Love with a similar depth as I.  And it has been wonderful.

And horrible.

He is everything....missing.

My Beans are sad - they miss him. They feel his absence more acutely here it seems. And I am struggling mightily to keep it together enough to help them.

Because the truth is....I miss him too. Deeply. Especially here.

So, while there are those people who gathered together today with all the pieces of their heart present...please remember there are many who did not. Many who could not. In the last year, loved one's have died - babies have been miscarried - future dreams have had to change - best friend's have moved away - spouses, children, parents, have been deployed.

Yet I remain thankful - because even though tears were shed today over my heart being on the other side of the was a beautiful day. A day of laughter, love, and community. A day to be reminded that sometimes the hurts - cuts - wounds - help you enjoy the beauty in a moment even more. 

Copyright 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

10 things I hate about....

Baby Brain.

Or pregnancy brain. Or losing my memory. Or whatever-you-want-to-call-it.  I am losing my mind!!!

***All of the things listed below ACTUALLY happened. To ME. THIS pregnancy. In a TWO WEEK PERIOD. Thought that should be made clear....please don't call social services.***

1. Today, while brushing String Bean's hair....I had to ask her THREE separate times how she wanted it done. Apparently, her simple answer...Pony tail, please....was just too many words for me to keep in my head.

2.  I completely forgot to buckle Jumping Bean's seat belt. Thankfully, she reminded me within a block of leaving the house - so I just pulled over and fixed it. I was getting out of the car...I had to freeze and try to remember why I had stopped. 

3. I can't remember how to get to places I've been already. Not random places like a person's house I've only been to one time...oh no. I had to use Google maps to remember how to get from my the Doctor's office.  Seriously.

4.  I can't remember what Boy bean doesn't like for me to eat. Case in point - last week I spent quality time with the toilet up-chucking all food consumed in the day...because I forgot he is NOT okay with BBQ sauce. Oops. My bad.

5. I call people and have absolutely no idea why.

6. I call people and between the time I hit "send" and they pick up the phone...I can't remember who I called.

How can I possibly be safe to drive at this point??? Or care for other humans??? It is a wonder I haven't left them anywhere.

7. I went to the OB Doctor recently for blood work....and completely FORGOT to give them a sample. I went to the bathroom - that is always a certainty - just forgot to leave them a souvenir. And how many OB appointments have I had???

8. I can be standing in the kitchen...with a cup in one hand and the apple juice in the other...and still not remember what I was doing.

9. I took String Bean's homework out of her book bag to check it (she had put it away in the correct spot!) and then completely forgot to put it back! After dropping her off at school, the rest of us came home and I was greeted by THREE items I was supposed to remember to take! duh.

10. The only perk about not having any memory??? In the morning I have ABSOLUTELY no idea how many times I woke up in the night! 

Copyright 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where Have I Been?????

Well world, I have been extremely slack on posting for the past two weeks.

Wanna know why????

First, I couldn't talk. 

Which, you would think, should not mess with a person's ability to write. But in my case - it totally screws up my thought process. I have to read the words out loud....or at least say the sentences as I type....or I can't come up with a blessed thing to say.

Please feel free to make fun of me now.

Then....I couldn't MOVE. My back went completely out....not exactly sure why. But I do know that Boy Bean helped my back feel like it was 128 by flipping into the worst possible position and then kicking my back.

Plus side? I know the man-child has some seriously strong legs.
Down side? I had to spend 2 whole days crawling on my hands and knees....barely. And I couldn't lift my children for 6 straight days.

I was in so much pain I couldn't sit at the computer....I could only lay on the couch with an ice pack. Hence, no posting. The pain level was actually very close to that of active labor...I would break out in a cold sweat just trying to go to the bathroom.

It has not been my favorite week ever.


Well, except for the fact that my complete inability to care for myself and the beans gave me the amazing gift of being cared for. By a huge team of people. 

Really. I had NO idea I needed sooo many people to keep my life going.

But when you can't pick your children is REALLY hard to get them into a Suburban. And out of it. And down the stairs. Or up the stairs. Or in the bath. Or....well, you get the idea.

When you can't stand up is REALLY hard to reach the cups. Or the food. Or the Bean's clothes. Or pretty much anything.

And it is REALLY, REALLY hard for somebody like me....someone who likes to take care of themselves and not bother people to help be forced to completely rely on the kindness of others. But what a blessing it was. 

However, I was struck by the hilarity of my situation when half - yes, half - of the people helping me.....were pregnant as well. And due BEFORE me. 

In fact, I'm pretty sure people were questioning the actual relationship between me and my sister-in-law as we traveled together over the weekend. 

She came to my rescue to drive all 4 of us girls 8 hours to be with family over Thanksgiving.

At each stop two very pregnant women would slowly and gingerly unload from the Suburban. (I'm 32 weeks along and she is 36 weeks) Then came the in depth process of unloading all the other females from the car....String Bean....Jumping Bean....Bitty Bean....and Girl-Cousin-who-is-the-same-age-as-Bitty-Bean.  It was a LOT of Estrogen in the car. 

I'm pretty certain people thought we were Sister-WIVES. 

So, while I'd rather not repeat this week of pain and challenge....I am truly thankful for it. I have been blessed beyond belief by an amazing group of people who came to my rescue.

And THAT is where I have been.

Copyright 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Homecoming - just the word is enough to make me smile. And the fact that OUR homecoming is sooner than the expiration date on the Orange Juice I bought this week??? I could burst for joy!

Homecoming is one of the perks of the allows you to re-experience a honeymoon phase. You are just soooooo happy to see your love's face that you don't even notice any funky quirks that drove you up the wall before they left. And it REALLY IS that wonderful!

There is nothing like scanning the sea of faces in uniform pouring off the ship...walking down the pier....looking for the tell-tale foot turn and perfect green eyes to know which person to run to. Then you are enveloped in hugs and kisses and tears that you've held at bay for months.

However marvelous all of the above is....there is a part of homecoming few talk about.

And since I like to talk....I'm gonna fill that void.

At Wrigley Field in our first year of marriage
 Ahh, the joys and craziness of homecoming.....there's this aspect of homecoming that is a ball of nervousness, apprehension, and difficulty. In fact, homecoming can often be MUCH MORE CHALLENGING than the leaving. When the active duty person leaves, all parties have clear responsibilities - he does his job.....and I stay home and take care of everything else. But when they come back....the lines aren't so clear cut. The children have grown...their favorite foods have changed...things have been relocated in the've learned a routine - settled into a groove - that works, and they want to change it.

We've handled our fair share of separations and I thought I'd be honest and just share a few things that we've experienced......

My Love. Many moons ago.
Our first separation occurred when My Love went to Basic Training.....4 1/2 months into our marriage.....and only 12 1/2 months after meeting each other. Yes. I said meeting. Anyway. We had not been apart at all and then he left for Basic for 2 months.....and his communication to me was a total of 2 phone calls and 4 letters. Yes. You read that right. So I was a tad a bit exorbitantly nervous about seeing him at graduation. I was super excited...really, beyond excited....but what word would capture the feeling of anticipation? Overjoyed? Elated? Ecstatic? And petrified. I was scared to death that I would run up to the wrong in-shape-white-guy-with-a-buzz-cut-in-a-uniform and kiss his face. While my new husband looked on in horror. Seriously.  I was kept awake the night before his graduation with nightmares of that exact thing happening.

Thankfully, it didn't.

But that didn't make me worry any less the next time!

Another homecoming was one week before I delivered String Bean....I was about 15 months pregnant. He had been gone almost all of the pregnancy and I worried about recognizing him as the sea of people unloaded off the ship. I don't really know why I worried.....I mean, I was there, the size of a house in a white dress.....he could see me on the pier before the boat docked. Seriously.

He was smart enough not to tell me that until about a year had gone by.
7 months pregnant with String Bean
Being a goofball at my baby shower

There have been the obvious struggles of figuring out a new routine....the unexpected frustrations brought by My Love not knowing where things were kept....the expectation that he would come home and just know what needed to be done.....

Which, for the record, is ALWAYS unrealistic, unreasonable, and ridiculous.

The surprising things that could cause anger - like him not knowing how to pack the diaper bag, or forgetting the foods I was allergic too.....that had only popped up SINCE he left. Everything can seem a bit exaggerated when they finally get home.

Sooooo, here are my tips: prepare, prepare, prepare.

Label things to help them find stuff without having to ask you for every little thing.

Make a check-list for various things - what the kids need in their lunches, what belongs in the diaper bag, normal routine for bed....

Keep your sense of humor.

And keep your perspective in check.....because, although I have been  nervous and there have been growing pains with every homecoming.....

I will never forget standing at the washing machine unloading My Love's sea bag and sobbing.....purely because I could do his laundry - and that meant he was home.
Us. Together. And all is well in the world.

Copyright 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010


This morning I had the treat of eavesdropping on the beans playing together and overheard the following conversation:

String Bean: "But MOM! We must save our brother!"
Jumping Bean: "Why is that, Daughter?" 
SB: "Because, Jesus wants us to love other people - and loving our brother would be saving him from the alligators!!"
JB: "Hmmmm.....that makes sense."

At this point I thought to myself - I am an AWESOME MOM. I mean, I totally have this thing DOWN. They've got it!

And then I kept listening.....and snuck down the hall so I could watch the interaction....

Jumping Bean: (With hands on hips and head cocked to the side) "But I don't care! I told you NOT to go near the alligators....and that is the end."
String Bean: "But, but, we HAVE to SAVE our BROTHER!!!" (On the edge of hysterics)
JB: "NO MA'AM. I said DON'T go near those Alligators young lady. Are you honoring your mother? (For emphasis a finger wag started to be be used) You don't go near those alligators....BECAUSE I SAID SO."
SB: "Yes, Ma'am." (With head hung down and furtive glances at whatever stuffed animal represented her now-dying brother.)

I gave away my covert location because I was giggling so hard.

There you have it folks. Apparently, I come down like the hammer. Even the Love of Jesus compelling us to do right cannot trump the "because I said so!"

And I learned a couple things about myself:

1. If I say it, that is the end.
2. I remind them their JOB is to honor their father and mother.....and obey their parents....A LOT.
3. I call them "young lady"....and didn't even realize it!
4. I've become an "I said so" mom.

Now, none of those things really bothered me....except for number four! I had this (what I know now is) ridiculous dream of ALWAYS explaining everything to my children and not having to use that awful phrase. But you know what? It is a good phrase. There are times they DON'T need to know the who, what, why, when, where, and how. Sometimes they just have to do it because they do. Period. And I will probably end up using that phrase for a long, long time.

But I really think I would have at least tried to save the brother from the alligators! I mean, c'mon! I'm not totally heartless!

Copyright 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The aftershock....

Well, I've been spending a LOT of time contemplating how to best handle/manage life right after Boy Bean arrives....that glorious emotional roller coaster-sleep deprivation-constant questioning-learning a new human being state known as the Post-Partum Period.

And String Bean makes 3!
It is intriguing to me how much emphasis is placed on pregnancy and prenatal health...labor and delivery classes...and all the fun stuff that happens to you from when you pee on the stick until you are discharged from the hospital.  And then there is diddly squat about the REALLY hard part....what the heck you are supposed to do when you get home!

Wow. I was a lot younger.

So, I figured I may as well share some stuff I've learned, observed, been surprised by, and hope to improve on. :)

I was most amazed at how utterly exhausted I was. I was literally walking into walls - couldn't remember my name - wasn't safe to drive for at least a week!

In the NICU with Bitty Bean

The driving one was with Bitty Bean - in my defense, she was in the NICU for one week. I was nursing, so I was sleeping for 45 minute snatches at a time and traveling back and forth to the hospital. I had no idea you could keep functioning at that level of exhaustion. 
Bitty Bean in the NICU - her sweet nurse cut hearts for her stickers!

Even though everyone tells you - tries to warn you of the exhaustion - there is no way to prepare. Thankfully, it is not forever...but those first few weeks sure can feel like a looooong time! With Bitty Bean I truly took the "let everything else slide so you can sleep" to heart - and definitely did that come week 2. I had to wait until she was out of the hospital! With Boy Bean, we've made plans to take it a step further - I will do NOTHING except focus on him and myself for the first (hopefully) 10 days. I will nurse, sleep, eat, repeat. That forced rest will allow my body to recover from the war of labor and delivery MUCH faster - and it will help me learn his nuances and quirks.

And Jumping Bean makes 4!
 I'm not gonna' lie - I am SUPER excited about that forced down time. 

With String Bean, I was one of those naive mama's who actually packed pre-pregnant clothing to wear home from the hospital! Perhaps some women could wear those home....I was not one of them. At all.

For some reason I thought the 55 pounds I gained with String Bean would all just disappear when I delivered her! She weighed 5 lbs and 12 ounces...yet I left the hospital weighing 5 pounds MORE than when I was admitted!
In fact, I was shocked and appalled at what my stomach looked like after delivery. It was this saggy, balloony, thing that I wanted NOTHING to do with. I would strongly suggest avoiding looking at your naked body in the mirror for at leas 3 is just so disturbing!  AND pack maternity clothes to wear home. Soft ones. Maybe a skirt. Eventually you will look like yourself again...but the drive home from the hospital isn't gonna be that time.

They are NOT joking about the bleeding. All I'm going to say....but take them seriously.

You will question pretty much every decision you make...over and over again. And that makes you normal.
Why God didn't have us deliver a specific instruction manual with each child is beyond would really be helpful to know ahead of time which one is allergic to milk, who can only sleep on their side, which one will need more sleep, who will need less sleep, what each cry means, what type of diapers they are allergic to.....the list just goes on!

Our Sweet Jumping Bean
There will be a identity crisis. Ranging from minor to severe. But at some point - you wonder if there is anything else you can talk about other than sleeping patterns, eating habits, and poop color. Yes. You will be able to converse like an intelligent adult again....but it just might take a little while.

There will be an identity crisis - figuring out how to balance the "wife" with the "mom." Best tip ever for me? Buy an item of clothing that is ONLY wife-wear. It helps flip the switch from one to the other. (But make sure there is enough coverage for dealing with leaking if you nurse!)

And Bitty Bean makes 5!
There is sooo much more I could say....but this post is plenty long enough already!

Do YOU have any tips/pointers/questions???

Copyright 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some organizing proof....

Well, I believe I've mentioned that I am psychotically nesting with this pregnancy. I figured no one would believe the levels to which I have I thought I'd document them!

I was LITERALLY being kept awake at night trying to figure out a cost-effective and orderly way to corral the girls clothes once they were all moved into the same room.  Here is what I came up with... (bear in mind a 5 year old and 3 year old put their clothes away!)
An old TV Cabinet that was headed for the trash - I just added a back (plywood) and removed the shelf for a DVD player. On the right is a dresser we found at a yard sale 5 years ago.
Inside the cabinet is a 9-Cube organizer. Makes me happy!

Labels for EVERYTHING!
Bitty Bean's clothes all fit in the white dresser with an extra drawer for the big girl's items.

I think these fancy wall tags in their closet should do the trick!
 Now, I was partially motivated to label what-goes-where to help the Beans learn where things went, but it was primarily to help My Love be able to get the beans dressed if I somehow go into labor with Boy Bean the very day he comes home! (I also needed to figure out a way to keep all their clothes in the closet neat and organized - 3 different sizes in the same area...definitely could spell frustration if all time is spent checking tags!)
These shoe boxes with all their "next size up" help keep me from wasting money on items we already have.
I also re-purposed a book shelf we bought at a garage sale for $5 5 years ago into a shoe storage rack!

And THERE is some proof that I am going crazy!! But at least people will know where to find stuff when they take me away.... :)
Copyright 2010

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Psychic Love....

Be warned: I am about to get all romantically mushy. 

Seriously. If you don't like that kind of thing....stop reading.

Although, if you are probably just skipped ahead a little.

HA! Caught ya'.

Anyway.....want to know why My Love is perfect for me? (And why I love him oh-so-very-much???)

Aside from the brilliant sense of humor, sixth sense for finishing my sentences, amazing levels of understanding females, and pretty much being my knight in shining armor...

He can Read. My. Mind.

No - seriously!!  It is this amazing gift-curse he has. Poor thing.

I was contemplating his amazing abilities recently when I ran across this:

THIS was part of the birthing class (which was by birthinsight and absolutely worth every penny) we took this past August. Our FIRST birthing class. Taken for my FOURTH child. And still, worth every cent. Just sayin'. 

Anyway, the multi-colored braid was something we had to make over our class weekend. We needed to choose three colors of fabric - each symbolizing something - and braid them together. In theory, you are supposed to remember to take this with you to the hospital to help focus your thoughts and remember why, exactly, you are choosing to have a natural childbirth. 

I say "in theory" because I've done this before....chances are I'll be more concerned with other things then a braided thingy in my hospital bag. But, maybe not. I like the idea at least.

But I digress.

So I chose pink, green, and white, and just started braiding. Then I looked at My Love and said "Why do you think I picked these colors? What do they mean to me??"  Thought I had finally stumped him.

I was wrong.

"Well," he began, "I'm assuming the pink is for each of our beans - you are committed to a natural childbirth because of various complications with each of them." Already I was choking up....
"And since you are committed to breastfeeding again - and you know medications can hinder that being a success - the white is for your desire to nurse."  I leaned over and kissed him...
"Which means, the green could only stand for one thing - one thing that is very important to both of us - we hope that this baby is born healthy and strong."  And I just melted.

Seriously.  We were squatting and my legs fell asleep. 

THAT is one more reason why My Love is perfect for me - he knows what is important to me because he listens. And then he says it back to me. And he's really really strong and can lift me up off of the floor when my legs fall asleep.

And I love him even more. 

Copyright 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Cat's away....

So....have you ever wondered exactly WHY a mom can never go to the bathroom in peace?

It isn't just some freak-of-nature-thing that the children always must-needs their mother right at the moment.

I think it is to help the mom out. At least you know where your kids are. AND what they are doing. This point was proven to me today in my brief bathroom break.

Bear in mind this is the day that I have no voice and feel like I've been run over by a truck....everything is much more challenging.

String Bean was at school, and Jumping Bean and Bitty Bean were happily taking turns on the rocking I thought I was in the clear for the 1 minute it would take to go to the bathroom and wash my hands.

And flush of course. We are not THAT eco-friendly.

I was wrong.

Apparently, there was a secret stash of MARKERS hidden in the playroom for such a time as this. Thankfully, my walls, carpet, furniture, and pretty much everything-that-would-cost-a-lot-to-fix, were spared.  Instead, the Beans had gone to town - on each other. 

Obviously, they thoroughly enjoyed their artistic foray. Not only because it was super fun...but also because - and I am sure they knew this - Mommy did not have the energy to discipline them properly for their crime. (Markers without supervision are a definite no-no.)

Oh well. I guess I just have many more years of reading children's stories out-loud while using the bathroom. 

Wait! My day isn't done! Tonight was the night Bitty Bean decided was the perfect night to test the limits about staying in her bed.  Of course it was. Up and down and up and down and in and out and in and out....round and round we went. I'll spare you all the details...but after 45 minutes of battling I was ready to just put her back in the crib. Thankfully, she didn't try me that one more time...or she would have found herself in a new room for the night. From her perspective, I can understand why she chose tonight to challenge...I mean how intimidating or fearsome can a person be when the "voice of doom" is a finger snap? Or - heaven forbid - a hand clap? I mean really. I did find ways to get the point across....but she just wanted to be sure I meant it.

Holy cow. That sin nature sure is something to battle against!

But all parties are peacefully sleeping now....and I think that is my signal to join them...after I go to the bathroom in peace - just because I can.

Copyright 2010

Drama, Drama....

I am NOT Superwoman.

But, if I WAS....I found my krypotnite.


Please tell me how a mom of three super-energetic-beans who cannot call in sick to work is supposed to parent and keep said beans from killing themselves without a VOICE!!!

I will tell you how.....


And hand-clapping. LOTS of hand-clapping.

This morning I woke up with a wicked sore achy body...and absolutely no ability to speak above a whisper. (And no appetite...which is exceptionally weird for a pregnant lady) Anyway, I guess my dramatic abilities were getting rusty and God thought this was as good a way as any to get me practicing. It is also AMAZING how well these children of mine CAN listen...when all I can do is whisper (barely) they are quiet as little mice! And I don't have to repeat ANYTHING. 

How can that be???????!!!!!

Unfortunately for them, they have now shown me what they are capable of....bring on some big changes when the voice comes back! HA!

Today I have been made acutely aware of two things:

I talk. A LOT. A LOT.
God has a serious sense of humor.

Copyright 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Flip-side...

Ahhhh, phone calls from My-deployed-Love.....

They are wonderful.

They are horrible.

They remind me of everything I love about him...of every single space in my day that is empty. 

We had the treat of 3 times to Skype over the past 2 days and it was truly a treat! But it made me re-miss him anew.

I don't have any great wisdom in this area. I don't have any brilliant quotes. I just have what I've experienced...and nobody really talks about the flip-side of the phone call...but I must. The phone calls leave me happy and sad and encouraged and overwhelmed.

And I am reminded of one constant - Deployment is hard. 

It is hard on those left at home. It is hard on those away. While each of us copes, and deals, and manages - what else can we do?? - it doesn't make the daily challenge less of a challenge. I honestly struggle with the fact that I often go through a day and don't miss My Love - I haven't the energy or time! I can't be walking around falling to pieces - I have 3 little ones relying on me for stability...and one little one relying on me for I compartmentalize. "I'll think about it tomorrow." I say to myself.

I choke back the tears when String Bean prays for Daddy...or Jumping Bean wants to take her daddy blankie with her everywhere she goes....or Bitty Bean buries her face in her daddy pillow to give him kisses goodnight. 

And honestly, I'm scared. I'm scared if I were to REALLY start to cry...I wouldn't stop. And I know that would not be right.

So I will cry a few tears at a time...I will remember that God has a plan for our family  - and He will give us the strength to get through wherever He leads us - and I will remember that not a horrible thing. 

There's always a flip-side.

Copyright 2010