Friday, April 11, 2014

All That I Need To Know...

Remember the old poster that used to be everywhere? "All That I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten"?

I feel I should now make a poster for myself, entitled "All That I'd Forgotten, I Re-learned from my Daughter"...a small sampling of things my two year-old has (re) taught me:

1. If you are going somewhere, no matter where that is, be so enthusiastic about it that you RUN to get there

2. Tell yourself that you are pretty everyday (twirling like a princess optional).

3. If you are sad, cry. If you are angry, yell. If you are happy, laugh.

4. Remind everyone in your family to give you a kiss before they leave. Its important.

5. Eating is fun- treat yourself.

6. Holidays are fun- celebrate them.

7. If you hear music, dance. It doesn't matter if you are good at it, just do it.

8. If someone is being mean, call them out on it. Also, be quick to forgive.

9. Go outside as much as possible. It makes you feel good.

10. All you really need to be happy is a snack, some juice, and sunshine.

11. If someone makes your heart happy, go give them a huge hug right that very minute.

I pray that she stays this way for as long as humanly possible, and then I pray she has a little girl of her own to remind her how to live all over again.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Real

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit

Being pregnant tends to make me think and feel "more". I wake up at night and have all of these thoughts swirling through my head.
After we lost Rip, and I got pregnant with Gracie, people would say some variation of "You have no idea what's coming!" in a, having a new baby is SO hard, kind of way. You know what? They were right. I was totally unprepared for the late nights and utter exhaustion and how hard breastfeeding was going to be. You can't prepare for that.
But, I knew what is was like NOT to have all of that. And that was harder, much harder. So the comments stung a little.
Now that I am pregnant with Sam, people like to tell me how much harder life will be with two. This time, I KNOW they are right. The thought of taking two children in and out of car seats every.single.time. I want to go somewhere scares the bejesus out of me.
But, I already have two kids. And not having one of them seems a lot harder than anything else we will face.
I feel myself start to have a weird panicky feeling when friends say they may try for three kids. I can't quite figure out why...Yes, I always wanted three. Two boys and a girl, in fact...exactly what I got. Of course this isn't really what I wanted, but I know almost every single person who has dealt with loss of any kind, or infertility, would tell you that "you can't always get what you want". In truth, I feel extremely lucky to be as blessed as I am.
Which brings me to being "real". In real life, especially by the time you reach your thirties, almost everyone has been through something... an all caps SOMETHING. Some seemingly more that their fair share. Everybody has experienced something that has made them a little shabby, a little more real.
Rip is my SOMETHING. He is something that changed me in infinite ways.
Rip is real. I sat in a hospital bed for six weeks, have a scar on my belly, and can feel the weight of him in my arms. Rip is real and he made me real.
So its hard not to feel something (another something) when I don't feel his presence acknowledged. But the truth of the matter is, I know I don't pay nearly enough attention to anyone else's SOMETHINGS.
The same people who may give me advice on one, two, or three children may be the same ones who suffered through years or infertility or miscarriages while I laugh about how easily I get pregnant. Or the ones who lost a parent when I talk about how glad I am to have mine. Everyone has something that stings. And we can't all go around tiptoeing over everything that comes out of our mouths. 
So I guess the part I work on, and struggle with, is how to be "real" without the anger, or resentment, or hurt feelings. The real me learned most of what I know to be true, and important, from a little boy who is no longer living on this earth. That little boy has nothing to do with negative emotions, there is nothing ugly about him. I don't want there to be anything ugly about me either.
But how do I do that? I guess it does take time. This becoming real is hard work. Taking your SOMETHING and turning it into the right thing, its really hard. But in the end- if we can do it- all of us, with our sagging joints and loved off hair, turn into something so real that we can't be ugly anymore.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Halfway Home

20 weeks...halfway there, or a little more than, due to c-section scheduling!

So, I knew I wasn't going to be great at that whole weekly posting thing, but I am making an effort to at least document some of this pregnancy, which seems to be going by at lighting speed.

First of all, we have a name! This little boy will be named Samuel Haskell Harris. The name Samuel means "asked of God." Very fitting and true, and also I couldn't find a name that meant "begged and pleaded with God". As with Grace, I felt this baby should be named to reflect what a blessing he truly is.

I am a big believer that you can tell a lot about a baby's personality in utero. Rip was pretty chill. Gracie...was not. That child kicked me from the day she was strong enough to do so, and sometimes does it to this day (we are working on that). Mr. Sam is the definition of laid back. He kicks, but even when he moves they are fairly lazy movements. I just get this kind of calm vibe with him...you can remind me of that we he is screaming bloody murder at 2am in a few months. That said, I do think this baby boy is going to be on the mellow side compared to his big sis (she says hopefully).

As for Big Sis, she seems to have grasped the fact that Baby Sam is in Mama's tummy. Previously, she thought he was in an airplane...we are not sure what happened there. She is still a little confused though, and spends a lot of time digging into my belly button and shouting, "HELLOOOO, SAM, WATE (wake) UP!!!" Hopefully, Baby Sam will learn to tune her out early on.

I am huge. I am not just saying that. I am at least as big as I was with Gracie as 6.5 months. And its not all concentrated to my stomach, its kind of like I am melting, out and down. Attractive. That said, I am happy. I enjoy being pregnant and I am trying to remember if this is our last time that I want to remember it as a joyful one. This is easier to do now that I don't feel like I am going to upchuck every time I take a bite of something.

We go next week for our anatomy scan. I'm not going to lie, that scares me. As much as I try not to let fear get the best of me this time around, it has been my experience that once they go looking for something they usually find it. Please say a prayer that Sam continues to be my drama-free baby.

Cravings still include mostly salt, but sweets are making a comeback just in time for some Easter candy (by far the best holiday candy, in my opinion). I am in the weird stage between PREGNANT and pregnant? Meaning nothing really fits and I swear I will be having a party to burn my maternity leggings when it FINALLY warms up around here.

All joking aside, sometimes I remember we are having a baby this summer and I am almost overcome with excitement. Yes, the fear is always not too far away, it is something I have to consciously keep at bay. I know there are no guarantees here. But this baby boy and I have made it halfway home, and that's something to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Its a....



Sweet Healthy Baby!!

Who also happens to be a boy!

This is a happy, happy day.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Bump it Up

So, this is the first pregnancy where I have not been in constant panic-mode. Don't get me wrong, I probably would be, if I didn't have "I am Gracie, hear me roar" well, roaring, at me most of the time. Its a nice change, I will be the first to admit, but in a way its a little weird. I think about this baby, and I love this baby, but he (or she) is not my biggest focus 24/7. Probably a good thing for all involved.

However, since this might be my last pregnancy (according to Parke, there is no "might" about it...but I mean never say never, right?)- I decided I would try to be like those cool, together moms who do weekly updates during their pregnancy. Since this is me we are talking about here, these posts will probably only last a couple of weeks...but I will try.

So, without further ado, here is my 15 week update....

-According to my weekly pregnancy email, the baby is currently the size of an apple. This always gets me wondering, are they talking about big old red delicious apples, or those little tiny sour green things? Because if I can walk around with a big old apple in my stomach and not feel it...I mean, that's kind of an odd thought, isn't it?

- Which brings me to- movement. Not yet, I don't think. I mean there have been a couple of times where I thought I felt a twinge or two, but nothing definite yet. I felt Rip at 17 weeks and Gracie closer to 16, so I am trying to resist the urge to poke at the poor creature until then.

- My lack of poking may also have to do with the fact that I am STILL nauseous. Not all of the time, and not NEARLY as bad as it was in the beginning...but I think this baby already realizes he/she will be competing with a...vivacious...older sibling and wants to make his presence know. On the plus side, my skin and hair are better than they have been in previous pregnancies, so I look green but well-maintained.

- Craving-wise I am all salt, salt, salt. Chips and pickles are a particular favorite at the moment. Absolutely no carbonated drinks. Meals in which I overindulge are met with less than favorable consequences, of which I will spare you the details.

-Note that has not slowed down my weight gain. After little to no gain in my first trimester, the last three weeks have been overachievers. This will probably be my last post on weight gain, as we can all just agree from here on out its pretty much a given.

- Due to aforementioned weight gain and nausea, maternity pants are pretty much a must right now. I can still get away with non-maternity tops, but I am more than ready to "pop" and prove there is actually a baby in here.

- But who is it? Not sure yet! We go on February 25th to find out for the gender. I am still very much leaning towards boy, but would not be totally surprised to be wrong this time around.

I will try to add a picture next time around. Today, I don't like my outfit enough to have it permanently documented. Don't worry, little one, its not that your mother is vain...its just that looking bad never helps anything (or so I've been told).

Until next week! Littlest one, you sure are loved.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finding the Beautiful

A couple of mamas I know, "heart mamas" (aka some of the most hardcore, awesome mamas) who have "heart babies" (aka pretty much some of the bravest, coolest kids in the world) posted this blog post on their Facebook pages this week. It struck such a cord, I had to repost.

I have some really vivid memories of different times in my past where life seemed so beautiful it almost hurt. One when I was dancing with my baby sister when she was about a year old. Another when I was sitting in the sunroom of my family home, looking out at a bright blue sky. One when I was driving around Clemson University with my best friends, singing at the top of our lungs. Another when I was on my honeymoon, staring up at the stars and thankful for the beginning of a happy life.

And then I had children, and life got so beautiful it almost breaks me sometimes.

My prayer, every single day, is that no more babies have to hurt. Ever. And even when I know that prayer is not likely to come true on this earth, I pray it anyway.

Having lost a baby, I felt a connection to that Heart Mama who wrote the blog post. She is finding the beautiful.

I once read a post by a mother who lost a child, and she said that it hurt her for people to say they appreciated their children more because of her loss. I understand that. I never want someone to feel sorry for us because of Rip, we are very blessed people and don't expect pity. But I also know that I do appreciate my children more because of our loss.

I get up with Gracie at 2am sometimes and just lie there and thank God for the smell of her shampoo. I kiss her cheeks so many times a day I am surprised she doesn't have an imprint of my lips tattooed there.

And I think that must be what all mothers who have had sick babies, or experience loss, must do. We find the beautiful, and maybe even more of it, because of what we face.

Today is Valentine's Day. February is heart awareness month. Please take the time today to say a prayer for all the babies who need them. I, for one, am going to Gracie's first Valentine's party this afternoon. If you see me with tears in my eyes while 20 children run around on a candy high, just ignore me. Finding so much beauty has turned me into a big old crybaby.






Saturday, February 8, 2014

State of Grace

I know that a lot of time and discussion is given to the "Terrible Two's", but I've got to say that, so far, I'm really enjoying this stage. Now, that is certainly not to say that Gracie does not have her moments...she does, she truly does...but even those moments I often find secretly hilarious. Here are a glimpses into life with our two-year-old...

Gracie, though generally a sweet girl, has recently developed a penchant for whacking people (mainly me) in the face, particularly when my face has the misfortune to get too close to hers. And, I mean, I get it...its not that I haven't occasionally felt the urge to belt somebody whose big mug gets in my personal space...but it a practice that is generally frowned upon and sometimes it really hurts. Therefore, Parke and I have tried to implement age-appropriate redirections and punishments. I think maybe we need to re-think our tactics...

Gracie's self-imposed punishment, after yet another "tap" to her mother's face: "Hud" (Hug) "Tiss" (Kiss) "Soddy"( Sorry) "I go to time out"...which she promptly does.

One thing that always kind of cracks me up about kids, at least my kid, is how they perk up like dogs at the sight or sound of ANYTHING you are attempting to eat by yourself. Gracie can hear the opening of a yogurt lid from the opposite side of the house. No sooner has my mouth touched the spoon beforeI hear her, eyes sparkling and already pulling up a chair, "Whazzat?"

The other day I finally thought I found something she would not be interested in,  a salad with a bunch of "stuff" in it. Unfortunately she finished her peanut butter toast early and climbed into my lap for a closer look. Right now she is big on "yikes" and "not yikes", so I had a bad feeling when she reached her grubby little hand right in and grabbed a cherry tomato.

"I YIKE it," she declared.
I told her I did not think she would.
"NO, I YIKE IT!"
Big bite into cherry tomato, spraying juice into both of our faces and a surprising distance into the kitchen before spitting the offending item back into my salad.
"I NOT yike dat."

Gracie loves to sing. Unfortunately, neither Parke nor I can carry a tune to save our lives, so it is no surprise that her serenades, while beautiful to us, are not really fit for public consumption. This does not give her a moments pause. Her favorite of all time is "Jesus Loves Me"- cute, right? Maybe not so much if you are minding your own business shopping at TJ Maxx and she is on her 12th round of
"JESUS LUBS ME DISS I KNOWWWW, FOR THE BIB-BUL TELLS ME SO". I know, lady shooting me dirty looks, but I'm not gonna be the mom who tells her kid to stop singing about Jesus, okay?

Speaking of Jesus, we have have finally made it back to attending church regularly. Albeit not often for the full sermon, even though several times before entering Gracie cautions Parke and me to "be tw-iet in shursh", the quiet of a two year old only last so long. Last week was a particularly rough Sunday due to the unfortunate soul sitting in front of us. Gracie, to put it mildly, is obsessed with "boo-boo's" and other ailments. Sorry on you if you have the poor judgement to point out any small scratch or cut you may have in her presence. You will be discussing said cut for the next hour and a half, with multiple viewings. Therefore, Parke and I were horrified to see the man in front of us had a "bump" on the back of his neck. Like, could have used Proactiv bump. Sure enough, it wasn't ten minutes before Gracie zeroed in..."UH-OH MAMA- BOO BOO!!!" While we tried to divert her attention, the girl was determined to have a closer look and I am sure the poor man felt toddler cheerio breath on his neck before we finally dragged her out. She is still talking about it a week later.

These are just some of Gracie's latest and greatest. She keeps us laughing, and on our toes, and I wouldn't have it any other way. The state of grace is always changing and I would not change that for the world.