Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Was Born a Ramblin' Woman

There is no plan for this post. I have no idea what might pop out on here. Consider yourself warned.

I got to spend the weekend with Mom. When I got back people asked if we had a good visit. Honestly, I don't really know how to answer that. Yes, good in the sense that I was able to be with her. But pretty much sucky in every other way. There is NOTHING worse than watching one you love most suffer. I will never be able to put into words how much I love my mom. How bonded I've been to her from the very beginning. How I've ALWAYS hated to see her sad. And how this is the most excruciating thing I've ever been through. There are no words.

Someday I hope I'll be able to write about this in a coherent way that may help someone else. I hope Mom will give me permission to share all of her story someday. But today is not that day.

I'll be honest. I'm struggling under the strain of this. I'm not doing a good job on any front just now-as a mom, as a wife, as a friend. I promise I'm not having a pity party. It just is what it is, you know?

In the meantime, my kids continue to be quite hilarious! Emily has decided she is not going to give up being a baby. When she is feeling like being treated like a baby she refers to herself as "Beebee". I wish I was kidding. To say Em and I have been battling it out lately is a gigantic understatement. If I so much as look at her wrong, she is on the floor "expressing herself". It's delightful. And by delightful, I mean exhausting. This is new territory for me, this whole wants to stay a baby thing. My oldest did not go through this and could always be enticed with anything "big boy". Even when Emily was born Drew seemed to relish his role as older, and in his own mind at least, wiser. Not my girl. She would love nothing more than for me to hold her all day and feed her chocolate milk from a bottle. I'm pretty much at a loss as to how to handle this. Discouraging it didn't work. At all. So, I'm indulging her a little. Maybe if she believes my feelings for her won't change as she grows up, she won't be so reluctant to do so.

That said, if you see me in public, holding a two year old on my lap, feeding her like a baby from a Minnie Mouse sippy cup, I'd ask you to just look the other way!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Potty Chronicles-Update

Because I know you've been sitting there, holding your breath, wondering how potty training is going, I decided to give you an update. You can thank me later. Like right after I've said pee and poop about 25 times. Motherhood is full of glamour.

So. It is with a slightly puffed chest that I announce to you, Emily is 1/2 potty trained. In no other area of my life would 50% cause me pride. I've been bred to accept nothing less than 95%. However. This 50% has not come without much blood, sweat, and tears. Ok, fine. No blood, but definitely sweat and a lot of tears.

Why 50%? Well, we're not quite to the pooping part yet. It is, apparently, even more terrifying than the pee portion. And the pee portion did not disappoint in the area of histrionics. I begged, pleaded ,encouraged, clapped, danced, sang-you name it-to try and diminish the fear factor. The secret to our success was two part. First, I bought Emily a brand new pink potty. It sings a song every time you go in it. Or at random times in the middle of the night, but that's another story. A story about how I sue a toddler potty company for a heart attack. So, the pink potty. And FINALLY, I hit pay dirt when I promised Emily a cupcake if she peed on the potty. This seems drastic, I know. But, she was holding her pee all day long. We were just begging for a UTI. Nothing will set you back on potty training like excruciating pain when you go! The cupcake promise was like magic. After she peed we went right then to the grocery and got a pack of mini cupcakes. She got one each time she went. I felt slightly guilty at all the cupcakes until it was just a couple days later when she was totally going and not even mentioning a cupcake. I threw away two of them. Hallelujah!

Now she wears undies all day (except for nap and bedtime) and keeps them dry. She does a great job telling me when she needs to go. She has also graduated to wearing undies to school. This is strictly prohibited, but because her teacher is awesome, she's totally fine with it. Our school has kids wear pull-ups while they are potty training. And I get it. Because you could potentially spend your whole day changing kids. But when I told Em's teacher she was staying dry everywhere else, she told me just to put her in undies. For Emily, pull-ups are potty training kryptonite. Give her an inch...

So now we forge forward into the wide world of poop in the potty. I've promised a trip to Sweet CeCe's if she goes. And she is not swayed. She saves it up for just before bedtime when I put her diaper on her. The girl is smart, there's no denying. I will say that in an effort to help her get over her fear of peeing I had one whole day where I told her to just go in her undies anytime she wanted to. It seemed to help her just "let it go", so to speak. I'm trying to decide if I'm brave enough/strong stomached enough to do the same with this.

Of course, this has drastically increased our trips to public restrooms, which were at high levels to begin with. I seriously have to choke back panic every time we go in one. Especially if she bends down and touches the floor. I KNOW! but it happens. I've added to my prayer list our protection from all manner of bathroom borne diseases.

Friday, February 10, 2012


I'm not gonna lie. Today was a weird day. Really, it's been weird at work all week. And I realize that's vague, but it's not really worth going into, except to say that all the weird is kind of sticking to me and I need to think about something else.

It turns out I'm an absorber. This is not a technical term, so much as one I made up. I think I've been searching for a word to describe this thing that happens to me for a while and I've finally figured it out. I'm an absorber.

Can I tell you that I am not an easy person to be friends with? I'm not. And it's because I'm borderline antisocial. I have a really good friend from work who likes to talk on the phone. I had to break the news to her that I'm a horrible phone talker and if phone talking was a prereq for being friends with her, then I probably wasn't going to make the cut. It drives her completely nuts, but she loves me any way. Just like my other four friends.

I've been really mad at myself for being this way since college. My junior and senior years I had a job working with Student Activities. Ironic, no? And you want to know what's even funnier? My boss? Giant introvert. My partner in crime? Same. Each year we had one extrovert work alongside us. The "front man" if you will! My boss used to talk about pretending to be someone else (he based his persona on a guy he knew from college who was super talky guy). Pretending to be someone else!!! How sad is that?? Look, you do what you have to do. I adopted this policy and for a long time. If I were in an uncomfortable social situation I pretended to be a friend of mine. (You know who you are!!!) This friend is like social magic. She can take a perfect stranger and fifteen minutes later they are in a corner, this stranger is pouring out their hearts to her, and she is making them feel like the best person who ever lived.

I, on the other hand, had a real conversation at a cocktail party that went something like this: "It's so nice to meet you Mr. Very Important Lawyer Fellow. How long have you been at the firm? Oh wow, that's great! Do you have kids? Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that..." Yeah. He said, "I used to have four kids but one of them passed away." My friend would've known exactly what to do. I just stood there, like a moron, probably mouth breathing. Awkward.

It's not that I don't like people. I really do. I think people are crazy and interesting and a a good way. The problem is, when I walk in a room, if someone is putting it out there, I'm feeling it. I can feel tension from 200 miles away. I can feel all the insecurity and angst and anger in any room. When you add to that weird lighting, or weird smells or heaven forbid a drink or two, well, I'm all tuckered out in about an hour. Good times for whoever is lucky enough to be with me.

So when work gets weird, I get weird. And before you think I'm all co-dependent with work, I'm totally not. It just takes me a minute to squeeze all the weird out of me. That's why I'm thankful for things like Pinterest. And blogs. And Netflix.

While I've come to accept this fact about myself, I'm still working on cutting down the amount of time it takes me to "shake it off". By the way this phrase somehow sent me right back to playing softball as a kid. YES. I played a sport. Slow pitch, but whatever. You know how at the beach they have those showers you can use to get all the sand off before you hit the pool...or the bar...Yeah. Wonder if they make an emotional version?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6 Hours in America

Howdy ho!

Just popping in for my semi-annual blog update. I so regret not having time to write more often. But, I've got zero margin at the moment and am having to make hard choices about budgeting my time.


There are just some days when the words overflow and rather than drive everyone I know crazy, I will write some of this down. My apologies to Katy who saw me just after and got the verbal vomit download. Don't worry. She's used to it.

Let me start with a little back story. I have some friends here in Nashville whom I adore. I'm pretty sure God brought them here just for me. Well, that and the fact that John Mann is quite the talented, brave, amazing songwriter. And his wife, well, we actually met online at a reflux mom's support group. I joke and say she was my first blind date!! Both of us have been through it- in those big time life ways- in the last year or so, and I could not have done it without her. She totally gets me, all the way around. Besides being a musician, her husband is also a part of what is called the "Newcomers Academy" for Metro Nashville Schools. (Side note-LARGE refugee population in Nashville.) When I realized I had to get five practicum hours in an ELL class for my current grad course, I knew he was the Mann to call. (See what I did there? Man? Mann??)

People. He did not let me down. Not only did I get to observe/assist in a classroom that had an ELL student in it, per my requirement, I was able to be a part of a Newcomers class at a school that is 67% English language Learners. By the way, 67% is a lot! One of the first things I noticed as I walked down the hall (beside the little thrill I had-I do love a good elementary school!) was a large map. On the map they had strings to SO MANY countries connected to pictures of the students from those countries. I wish for your sake I could remember them all.

I spent the bulk of my day in a 3rd/4th grade split room. All of the students in the class are "newcomers" which means they are brand new to the States. And, brand new to English. I'm just going to say right up front, this teacher needs a cape and an "S" on her chest. Her students run the gamut-from speaking no English to having learned FROM HER so much they are now almost at grade level. She is a master at classroom management, flowing easily from one group of students to another, all who are working on totally different things at different levels. I know some of you probably don't get excited about stuff like this, but for me, it's like amazing art!! I sat with a few different students throughout the day and I kept being struck by what their reality must be like. I thought about the times I spent mere weeks in a foreign country and how exhausted I was just from trying to navigate. And they do it everyday.

Nearly all of the students in her class are refugees. To be honest, I'm not sure any of us can ever really know all that means to those children. What they've been through. What they've seen. And now, they show up to school everyday doing their best to navigate a completely foreign situation. I bet they are tired. Many of these students have parents who don't speak any English. The teacher remarked to me today, "The hours they are at school are really the only time they are in America." I get what she means. When most of these kids go home, they change cultures and languages. It's mind-boggling really.

In general it takes me about five minutes to fall in love with a whole classroom of kids. In this case it was more like three. And in the case of one of the boys it was like one. This little guy is eight years old. As far as anyone knows he has never been in school before. Seriously. Just stop and think about that for a minute. Guh. I just wanted to be able to say to him how brave and amazing I think he is. Instead we just played number games and color games and he was jazzed to eat some M&Ms.

Look. I know public education is a big hot button item right now. Well, always. And I know there are legitimate issues with the state of said public education. And I get why everyone is mad-teachers, parents, government officials-for all sorts of different reasons. As a parent and an almost teacher, I have the debate swirling around in my own mind. I know there are other options. Some of the best people I know homeschool some of the best kids I know. I know teachers who have a dedicated ministry to children in Christian schools. I like options. Options are a good thing. God bless America and all of its options. But I'm here to say this, [be aware of impending soap box], public school, with all of its issues, is a hell of a lot better than a refugee camp. Thank GOODNESS for public education in our country. Thank goodness for the teachers in the inner-city and the rural, farming community schools, and for the teachers I spent the day with. And yes, let's keep working to make things better, because that's the right thing to do. But I say it's A-OK to take a minute and celebrate all the great things about our public schools.

Until next time, find a public school teacher and hug them. And maybe buy them a drink.