Friday, November 29, 2013

A Thanksgiving Like no Other

This year was destined to be a Thanksgiving to remember as it was both of our kids first.

But it became a unique Thanksgiving due to the scary start the day had. Around 4:30am our cats got spooked by something. I think they knocked something over, but I don't know for sure. Next thing we know, the cats run full speed across all 3 of us ( Blake, Remington, and I). Remmy starts crying, and we don't know if it is out of fear, or if one of their claws caught him on their run.

We turn on the light to check, and are met with the very scary sight of his head covered with blood. We act immediately. I cover the bleeding spot with my hand, and apply pressure, and Blake gets some big white bandages. We use the first to clean up the head enough to see what we are dealing with. It isn't as bad as it first appeared, but it is about an inch and a half long, on his head, and he is an infant. If it had been Blake or my head, we might not have gone, but we did decide that we needed to take him to the ER

I held the second bandaid on his head the whole trip there (we had loaded Grace in the car, and Blake drove).

At the ER they cleaned it up, and used glue to keep the wound closed as it heals. They did say it was a good habit to bring him if in doubt.

So my 2 month old has his first scar, and I have to contend with my mommy guilt.

I am thankful it wasn't worse, or in a worse spot, and I know I can't control the world, and my kids will get sick and hurt many times in their lives. But at the same time, I can't help but wonder if I could have done something to protect him.

The rest of Thanksgiving was good. Remington spent the day alternating from being passed between relatives and nursing. Grace mainly stuck by my dad, but eventually started moving around the room and mooching food from many people in the room.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hardest Thing about Having Two Kids

Life with two kids has been challenging as well as rewarding. Up until recently, I would say that the hardest thing was just keeping track of both of them, or keeping them both happy, but that isn't it.

I've often heard that there is no limit to a parent's love for their children, whether you have one or twenty, you love them all equally, and you love all of them 100%.

I never disbelieved this statement, but now I can speak for myself that it is true. I love both of my kids completely, 100%. I might have moments where I don't like their actions... but I definitely always love them. Part of this mother's love for them is that I want them to always be happy.

With just Grace, I could put all of my effort into her happiness, within parental reason (i.e. no you can't just eat chips all the time, even if that would make you happy). When she had her medical problems, I could be there doing everything I could to make her feel better in the midst of her fear and being poked with needles. If she was crying, I could comfort her, and do what I needed to help her stop.

But now there is a second child in my home, who I also love completely, and also want to put my effort into keeping him happy. I will do everything in my power (again within parental reason) to ensure his happiness, his comfort, and meet his needs as I can.

Herein lies the hardest thing about having two kids. I sometimes have to choose. If I am taking care of one of her needs, like changing her diaper, and he starts to cry, I can't comfort him. I am choosing her over him. I long to pick him up in my arms, and give him comfort or food the second he starts crying... but at that point, I am focused on her happiness, but at his expense.

Last night was another example of this. Grace had another crisis. This one was in her leg. It was so painful to see her so sad, in pain, not her normal, running around, happy, playing self. We knew she had to go to the hospital, and everything in me wanted to go with Grace and Blake so that I could be there to provide whatever comfort I could through what I knew would be miserable for her, even though it would help her feel better.

But I have a two month old... who is already recovering from his first cold... who REALLY should not be exposed to those kinds of germs that he would be if I brought him with us to the emergency room. I suppose I could have gotten a babysitter, but he is still nursing every two hours or so, and I don't pump. So as much as the "Mom of Grace" wanted to be there with her, the "Mom of Remington" knew that this time, she had to choose what was best for her son... at the expense of her daughter.

I know that Blake was able to provide comfort for her, and we were in touch by phone all night, but it really bothered me that I couldn't be there for her as well.  More than any of the day to day challenges of two kids, I think this is, and will always be, the hardest thing about being a parent of more than one kid- when you have to choose one over another, even though you love them both 100%.

We will see what life brings, but I know that there will be other instances where I have to choose. Maybe she will have a recital on the same day that he has a game (or vice versa...not gender stereotyping here), or maybe they will have opposing thoughts on where we should go for a vacation or even a dinner. Hopefully, I can balance which child I choose enough so they at least feel like it is equal... but at the same time, I know that it doesn't help THAT instance.

Let's say I choose to see her recital instead of his hockey game on a given Saturday, and then the next month I switch. Big picture- it would be fair, but it wouldn't change the fact that that first hockey game I wasn't there to see his big score or his great save or just his skating at a game. The next month I would still miss THAT performance. I could never get those moments back.

I can only imagine how this problem multiples with each additional child you have, where you want so much to be the parent who is everything for THAT child, but you simply physically can't be everything you want to be for every child all of the time. It doesn't even matter that another parent (or grandparent or aunt etc.) can fulfill some of those needs, you still aren't there.

The good news is that she didn't have to stay overnight, and today (thanks to the power of painkillers) she is acting more like herself:

He is a happy camper too (video from yesterday):

Friday, November 22, 2013

Mini Post 6- Hair

The time has come where I can do styles on her hair, and so I am trying to.

One big reason is that I've been told it protects her hair. Two, I think it looks better. Three, it means the daily hair battle is shorter because the styles last more than a day, though there is a battle when it gets styled.

Months ago, I did one flat rope twist, but then decided since she hated it so much and her hair was on the short side anyways to not fight it for a while.

I honestly don't remember the day I decided recently that it was time to fight these battles regularly, but her hair has been in a style every day since I started, most of them lasting a few days each. (If I was better and if I remembered to put product in her hair before starting, they could last longer.)

The pictures below should match this description, but due to limitations I have when I post from my phone, I can't do it caption style.

I started with three flat rope twists on the side of her head. Then later, I did flat rope twists all around her head. When I took those out, I wanted to change the part line, so I did one cornrow across her head, like a headband.

I didn't keep that in long. I didn't do that great on it, and time constraints kept me from even going across her whole head.

This morning I attempted a veil style. I wanted to go another row, and maybe I'll add that later, but for now it had to stop there. Her patience had REALLY worn out and besides, Remington was crying for food, so I decided it was good enough for the day.

You may notice that they all leave her hair natural in the back. This is for three reasons- 1- time it takes to do styles even in the front, 2- both she and I have to get better before we attempt something that intense, and 3-her hair is shorter in the back for some reason, so I'm not even positive I could style it if I wanted to.

But I have confidence, my skill will grow and Grace will get used to it, and we will be able to do more and more styles over the years.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mini post 5 version 2.0

Sigh, I wrote another post, but something went wrong. It may still publish at some point, and while posting pictures twice doesn't bother me, writing the same words twice does.

So, summary of last post: my kids are growing up fast.

In other news, besides exercising, I feel like I am getting back to my old self. One of the biggest steps in that direction is making dinners again.

I got a lot of enjoyment out of planning, cooking, and eating a variety of healthy meals. The freezer meals were very helpful, but were all somewhat similar, and we made two of each so it was pretty repetitive.

But now, I have Grace watch a show (her favorite is Barney), and either put Remington in his swing or in a carrier on me, and I can make dinner. It's been great!

Here are some pictures of the kids ( which are likely the same as the other post if it ever publishes).

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Mini post 4 Post Halloween Pumpkins and Candy

Some people are avid pumpkin fans and I happen to be part of that group. Pumpkin shakes, lattes, savory dishes, if it has pumpkin as a main ingredient, you can be fairly confident that I will enjoy eating it or drinking it.

Alas, as we are trying to save money, buying tons of pumpkins is not fiscally responsible. They aren't the cheapest produce, and even the couple of dollars for a can adds up.

I had this idea though...what do pumpkin patches do with all those pumpkins they couldn't sell? They have to at least sell them for less right? So I called a local pumpkin patch. Sure enough, they were selling a wheelbarrow full for only 10 dollars the day after Halloween.

I had plans to load that wheelbarrow to the brim. But I was doing this with a 6 week old in a carrier on me and a grumpy toddler who kept throwing tantrums and throwing herself in the dirt I stopped early.

You can see the amount I bought below.
We (aka Blake) chopped them all up, roasted them, and then froze some as chunks and some was pureed and frozen as puree. I believe we made six bags worth of chunks and eight of puree. So 14 recipes worth for my ten dollars, not counting all of the pumpkin seeds we roasted as well. Even stopping where I did (though I could have gotten more), I feel like we got our money's worth.

We have lots of leftover candy (mostly because we were gone for part of the night and didn't have lights on or any decorations for the rest of the no one came to our door).

I had read a post this week that at first made me feel guilty about this candy. It talked about how much of the chocolate is harvested with child labor.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that presenting child labor as all bad is really one sided.

The opponents of child labor list the lack of education and childhood fun as two reasons it should be outlawed and illegal to use child labor. But Blake and I started talking about what we know about schools in Ghana. There is no free public education, they have to pay for it.

If these kids had the money to go to school, they would be there. The fact that they are working means that their family needs them to work, probably for food, maybe to send a younger sibling to school.

I read some articles today that back up our understanding of the problem. These articles said that if these groups get their way and outlaw child labor, it still won't give those kids an education or their childhood playtime. It will more likely force them to work worse jobs with less pay, maybe even increase the likelihood of child trafficking.

What is needed is programs where the working kids are better represented, like in some of Latin America, where there is a union for child laborers. There also could be a push for the places that employ children to give some schooling as part of their unemployment.

Now, I know that the conditions these kids work in is bad, and I don't disagree that there should be some changes there too, but I don't agree with the agenda to boycott all companies that use child labor just because they employ children under 15.

Just my 2cents on the topic.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mini Post 3- First Halloween

Background- Blake did not Trick or Treat when he was a kid or celebrate Halloween in any way as it does have very strong non- Christian origins as well as some very demonic and evil practices revolving around the holiday even today.

My family allowed us to dress up and trick or treat as long as our costume wasn't anything evil. I remember being an angel one year, a flower another year, my brother went as candy multiple years. My mom always had some kind of Christian sign on the window, and some years we had candy with scriptures on it as what we passed out.

The church we attend does a harvest festival with games to play, and each one gives out candy after you play.

Those were our options as we decided what we would be doing with our kids.

This year we went with the harvest festival. I felt it was a good compromise between the two different ways we were raised.

I was practically a celebrity, as I used to teach there so many people knew me and wanted to see the family that God gave us this year.

Grace tried to play a few games, but they were mostly too old for her. She quickly got tired of doing the games, and just wanted to run around (which we weren't going to let her do).

So we didn't even use all the tickets we got ( gave the rest away) only got her a little candy, and she didn't even have a great time. However, this trip took a 40 minute drive in traffic to get there, with a screaming child in the back (he doesn't like to be in the car if it isn't moving).

Next year we might make a different choice.

Mini post 2- Getting Through the Days

Mondays are still bad- Grace has had Blake all weekend and doesn't adjust well to him not being there.

But the other days are pretty good most of the time now. This is largely because I've learned that Grace needs something to make the day different. This can be visiting someone, like my mom, or going somewhere or just getting to paint or do playdough ( a non-normal toy).

It makes the day go faster for me too, and probably helps me deal with her little frustrations better.

She also likes to help, so I can turn around a temper starting to brew with, "Do you want to help mommy?" and naming a task for her.

In addition, I have become quite skilled at finding a way to have her on me at the same time that he is (like while nursing). She has colored with markers, played the piano and had books read to her all while she sits on my thighs, near my knees while I nurse him. Not easy for me, but keeps my two kids happy, so it's worth it.

Mini Post 1- Grace's 2nd Birthday Party

This will be the first in a series of mini posts. When I post from my phone, which is all I have time to do these days, I have to stay on the blogger screen till I'm done with the post as it won't save if I exit out to do anything. I have started longer posts a number of times only to have an email I was waiting for show up, so I check it, and just like that, all my work is lost, and I don't want to do it again.

So I am going to try doing mini posts. Very short posts, just one or two pictures, a few sentences, so I don't lose what I've written.

October 17th marked one year since we became Grace's legal parents! Crazy! October 19th we celebrated her 2nd birthday, which was actually the 27th.

It was fun to have both sides of the family as well as friends come together celebrate her, and she enjoyed the attention a lot.

Present opening was amusing because she wanted to open and play with each thing she got, not open something else! We had to keep her from tantruming about it!

We let her dig into her cake as she pleased, which made the obligatory mess.

She is more blessed than she knows, as we actually took about a third of her presents to store so that she will get the new toy feel later with those when the excitement about the current toys has worn off.