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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday

Christmas is a tough time for birthdays. I'm working hard (and starting early) to make sure H's birthday is always a stand alone event and not lumped into Christmas. There will always be Birthday wrapping paper and Christmas paper. A birthday cake will never be served at a family Christmas party. Henry will have a proper birthday, dangit.
Tonight, I will wrap his presents in colorful birthday wrapping paper. Tomorrow, we will eat bright, non-holiday themed cupcakes and will sing happy birthday at the top of our lungs.
Our littlest boy is one. And walking. How on earth did this happen so fast? We missed the first three months. I guess that didn't help. Then we blocked out so much from the dark days of endless puking. Then BAM. it was birthday time. Our house is infantless once again. And will stay so for a long, long time, hopefully (?).

Trying to Understand the Unthinkable

Ive been crying a lot recently. I don't live near Sandy Hook. I don't know anyone affected. But I'm a mother. And apparently, that's all it takes to be shaken to the very core.  My babies are nearly four and freshly one. We're not in elementary school yet. But even so, when I send W off to preschool twice a week, I never think twice about his safety. Might he get hit or bitten or trip down some steps? Sure. Might he be blown away by a semiautomatic weapon? Gee. Never even gave it a thought. I try my hardest not to think about those babies' final moments. I try not to look at their pictures online. I try not to watch or read the news. Not because I want to pretend it didn't happen. But because I simply can't function once I've imagined the fear and pain they felt - and the pain their families will feel for the rest of their lives. Every time I catch wind of it online or on tv, I break down into tears as painful and fresh as when the story broke. And as the world mourns, there's nothing we can do to help. During a plague or natural disaster, we can donate time or money or supplies. But when twenty babies are viciously and senselessly wiped from the planet, there's nothing anyone can do for the grieving families. And not being able to help is a terrible feeling.

In the wake of all of the violence, the talking heads are screaming into the wind. Was it the lack of gun control or lack of mental health assistance in our broken health care system? The chicken or the egg? Who knows. All I know, is that someone with some of the issues this young man had should not have had easy access to weapons. Machine Guns.

My mind is off in a thousand directions and it's hard for me to form coherent thoughts. All I can say is that none of this makes any sense. How could anyone be so sick? How could anyone look at a six year old and shoot them with a gun? It just doesn't make sense to me. So until it does, I will continue to cry for everyone involved.

I can't help the victims or their families. I can't make a donation or send supplies. But I can learn a lesson from all of this. Life is fleeting. You don't know how long you have, so you have to make the most of every minute. Before this shooting, W and I were in a bad place. He was constantly pushing my buttons and I was yelling. A lot. tears and yelling were an hourly affair. Then the shooting happened and I saw my babies in a completely different light. What if they were taken away from me suddenly and our last interaction was tears and yelling? I would be haunted with that forever. So I've been very careful about how I chose to handle situations. He's three. He's not going to be perfect. Do his actions really warrant that negative of a reaction from me? How else can I handle this situation? Life is short and I love my little babies endlessly. I can't reform gun control, I can't cure mental illness, I can't treat all the world's mental illness. But I can be the best mom I can be for my babies for as long as this big, blue marble permits me.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Jingle Bells + Happy Birthday Mashup

Trying to make a December 20th birthday standout on it's own without being steamrolled by Christmaspalooza is hard, I'm finding out. As H grows, I refuse to let it get lost in all the holly and jolly. He's just turning one this year, so we have a few practice runs before he realizes this day really matters.

We decided that since it's so close to Christmas and we don't want to take up out-of-town family's whole day (and because our house is on the small size), we'd have two parties for him. One with Neil's family at his mother's house and one at our house for my family. My freezer and oven are full of layer cakes for each party, the food  has been ordered for both parties and the paper goods are all prepared. Pinterest has been consulted ad nauseum. Two parties. Great idea, Lindsay. My dream is that once he's of friend-bday party age, parents will be dying to drop their kids off for the day so they can do last minute shopping. Or how cool would a NYE sleepover bday party be? And what parent wouldn't love to have an overnight babysitter on NYE?

And since we're talking about it... Does a first birthday party really need to be a big, huge thing? I know of people who have rented halls and had elaborate, catered events. With W, we just had grandparents over our house because he was still on preemie related germ lock down. But even if he had been healthy, I don't know that I would have done much more.

Is your child's birthday around Christmas or another big holiday? What do you do to make it stand out, apart from the holiday festivities?
It's a birthday tree...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You're Welcome

I could watch this on loop always and forever.

Go the Eff to Sleep!

A few weeks ago, Walt started refusing to stay in bed after we put him down for the night. He'd get up and just stand in the hallway over and over until about 11pm. We tried Nanny Jo's method of wordlessly plopping him back into bed. We tried yelling at him, we tried ignoring him, we tried taking toys away. Nothing works. I know it's just a phase but it's starting to annoy me. Ok, it's way past "starting" to annoy me. I'm totally irked by it. Neil and I feel like we don't get a single drop of time to ourselves day after day. It's wearing on us. Every time it happens, he knows there's no cartoons the next day and I will take his most prized toys, his wooden train set away. It still doesn't stop him - even though he's heart broken when he comes downstairs in the morning and his trains are gone.

Through this punishment, though, something magical has happened. He's only had one day over the past two weeks where he's been allowed to watch cartoons. And you know what? He doesn't miss them at all. He barely even asks me for them. He's like a recovering addict. Before this punishment routine began, if he went a day without watching Pocoyo, he'd be frothing at the mouth. But now, he could care less if he watches anything at all. I use to pop a cartoon on when I put H down for his naps so I didn't have to worry about W getting into trouble or hurting himself. But now that that's not an option, I come back from rocking H to sleep and W is curled up in a chair with a book, pretending to read. It reminds me of the end of the Cable Guy when the cable goes out and people rediscover life outside of tv. It's not like he was glued to the tube all day. But he definitely watched his fair share of cartoons.

So while I hate that we're still fighting the fight over bed time, I love that he's using his imagination 100% of the time during the day. He no longer tells me that he's bored (where on earth did he learn that, anyway?). He can just sit down with some cars or trains ad piddle away quietly for hours. I couldn't be happier.
Speaking of bored, how spot on is Louie CK? I'm so in love with him right now.
Since none of our punishments are working, I'm faced with one last ditch effort. And it's a very scary one for me... no. more. napping. Gah! We'll see how it goes. When did your kids stop napping?

I think I'll be getting this book for Neil for Christmas, this year.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Need Some Sage Advice

Hey guys, I need help. H's birthday is a little over two weeks away and I'm kind of floundering. I want to do something for a few people in his birth family but I'm not sure exactly what. I've been taking monthly photos of him, so I'm going to compile them either into a little book or collage and pass it on - but I feel like I need to honor them in some way. I'd like to think that eventually, we'll be able to celebrate his birthday together somewhere down the road. But that's not the case this year. And the first year seems special to me. It's like, the first big milestone.
Did you do anything special for the first birthday (and/or subsequent birthdays) to honor the birth family and their sacrifice? I love them and want to make sure they're not overlooked.

I'd love to hear of any traditions or plans you have/had to honor/include the birth family. Thanks!