And then, there were 3…

It’s been a year since I posted.

More than a year.

And I had the deepest, most amazing surprise this last year….

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Caden Matthew.  Born April 28 at 28 weeks, 6 days gestation.
I had no idea that I could get pregnant. We had been told there was absolutely no possible way, ever, in a hundred million years that we would have more babies.  We were thrilled with our little family.  I cleaned out Olivia’s nursery, sold all the baby things…two weeks later I found out I was at least 8 weeks pregnant.

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He’s been the best surprise ever.

And now I am the mom of three kids under the age of 5.
I think this makes me a superhero.

Dear Body: You are amazing

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Dear Body:

You are amazing.

I don’t tell you that enough.

You were amazing when I was  21 and 110 pounds and wore a size 2.  We trekked through college together; bagel fests and all night study sessions, midnight Lord Of The Rings premiers and hiking through state parks.  Your flat tummy looked amazing in bikinis and your toned legs carried me through class to class, up hills and down valleys.  We were amazing, you and me.

You were amazing when I was 25 and 130 pounds.  You were packed with muscle, serving me well through firefighter 1 class.  You kept me awake as I studied to become a paramedic.  You were awesome the first time I ever did CPR; manually pumping blood throughout a body for a heart that could no longer do it on its own.  You kept me going through the hardest physical thing I ever did, training as a firefighter, wearing heavy turnout gear with an SCBA on my back, crawling blindfolded through a maze.  But we made it, you and me.  And we were awesome.

You were amazing when I was 27 and 140 pounds, walking down my parent’s staircase, white dress form fitted to you.  Your fingers trembled sliding a ring onto the hand of the man I loved, his eyes trained on my mine as we made solemn, scary, joyous promises to each other.  He didn’t care that you were a little bit bigger than you used to be, thanks to the steroids I had been taking to keep my lungs open.  I didn’t care, either.  I was lovely in that dress and he was handsome and we were madly, crazily in love with each other.

You were so amazing when I was 28 and when I was 30, and both times I weighed an amount that I could not have believed when I was 21 and tiny.  You grew two little lives inside, astounding, beautiful creatures that you nourished and protected.  You swelled to proportions I did not know existed as my babies flailed their arms and legs around in you.  You kept them warm and safe as they grew into babies until, finally, they were nestled in my arms.  Oh, you were so amazing, growing those beautiful babies.

You are amazing now, when I am 32 and will not tell the world what I weigh.  You are scarred, between c-section scars and gall bladder surgery and eye surgery.  You don’t leap out of bed with quite the same vigor you did when you were 21 and only needed two hours of sleep.  You are still beautiful, even now when your thighs touch and the varicose veins are starting to pop up and your arms might be just a bit flabby.  You became a firefighter and a paramedic, and every day, you do amazing things for people who need help.  You love a man who will love you when your brown hair becomes grey and your firm face dissolves into wrinkles.  You hold a four year old and a two year old, and kiss their boo boos and rock them to sleep before tucking them into bed.  

You are amazing. No matter what you look like.  You were amazing when you were thin, and you are amazing now that you are not.  You are strong and brave and kind and loving and you do amazing, amazing things, every day.

 

All About Hope

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Around a year ago, my husband, out of the sweetness of his heart, bought me a ticket to a mother’s conference.
If you know me, you know that this is not entirely my thing.  I don’t socialize much, I don’t like large groups, and I am always miserable and awkward trying to make conversation with strangers.  So much so that I bought my best friend a ticket just so I could talk to her and avoid talking to other people.

Then the day before the conference, a very nice psychologist and occupational therapist and neuropsychiatrist sat me down and explained that my beautiful, funny, loving, smart little boy has been gifted with an extra dose of uniqueness(and a genius level IQ, in case you wondered).  And that little extra dose of uniqueness might make life a little difficult for him, combined with being oh-so-smart.

And with that, motherhood became a world filled with completely unfamiliar terrain, an alien place without a map, something very different from the pictures in my head of what it would be like.  This was not the life I was expecting.

With all this swirling around me, my husband told me I should still go, even though I would have preferred spending the weekend at home, by myself, reading the same book a thousand times.  But my best friend was going and my husband wanted me to, so I went–even though I had babysitter problems and car problems and everything seemed to go wrong, I still went.

It was called Raising Generations Today.  But I what I took away was hope.
Hope for tomorrow.
Hope for today.
It was exactly what I
needed, at exactly that moment in time, to discover that every other mother feels inadequate and overwhelmed, whether they have a unique little boy or not. Every mother, it seems, discovers at some point that this life is not quite what she had expected.  For the first time in days, I felt not quite so alone.  Sitting through the workshop on raising a child with special needs, and trying not to cry, I realized that my little boy is just that–my son.  It doesn’t matter what labels are thrown at him, I am the mom God chose to raise him.

And even years before, when the conference organizers started thinking and praying and planning, God knew then that I was going to get news that would change my world the day before the conference started.  Last year He prompted my husband to buy me a ticket, even knowing it wasn’t quite my thing, and I believe He prompted me to buy my friend a ticket, both so I wouldn’t be alone when I needed a life-long friend the most, and because she really needed it, too.
And if God can orchestrate all of that, He most certainly can give me whatever it is I’m going to need to be Josh and Olivia’s mommy.

So the world has changed.  But for the first time in many, many years, I believe that I am not alone in this.  Somehow over that weekend, sitting through the worship and the speakers(and if you know me, you know I have not been in church in a very long time), I realized that God loves these babies more than I do, and it will be okay.  Different from what I expected, but if God believes that I am the best mommy in the whole world for Josh, then I believe it, too.

Letter To Santa Claus

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Dear Santa Claus,

It’s been a while. Remember me?  Sara? American Girl doll Samantha circa 1991 that I never got?

 But I digress.

 I am now much, much older than I was in 1991.  In fact I am in my 30s, if you haven’t been keeping track.  I am Joshua’s Mommy–I am sure you are familiar with Joshua, as he moves between your naughty and nice list on a moment by moment basis. In fact, I am sure you have an Elf dedicated specifically to keeping track of which list Josh is currently on.  And I am also Olivia’s mommy, but she is only eighteen months old and a fixture on your nice list.

And I haven’t written you a letter in a very long time, but I have a list this year, if you would be so kind.

 #1)  I would like a bath.  Complete with bubbles, candles, and no children trying to strip their clothes off and climb in with me, all the while asking why we can’t eat hot dogs in the bathroom.

#2)  I would like to go five minutes without someone asking me why or throwing a two hour long temper tantrum when I say no, we cannot build a snow bank and jump off the porch roof into it.

#3) I would love eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Between working overnights as a paramedic and the fact that my daughter still does not sleep through the night, I am about to lose my sanity to sleep deprivation.  If you can’t accomplish this, could you at least make my children nap at the same time?

#4) Peace on Earth.  If this isn’t doable, I will accept Peace in the Playroom.

 #5) Could you make my wi-fi magically disappear whenever I start looking at all the pictures on facebook of all the neat and amazing crafts and games my friends are doing with their toddlers?  And remind me that their husbands don’t work three or four 24 hour shifts a week, and most of them did not work 72 hours last week like I did?

 #6) Speaking of magic, is there anyway to make chicken fries into a well rounded, highly nutritive meal, since that is all my 3-year-old will eat these days?

 And last but not least,

 #7) On days like today, when my children are literally climbing the walls(and the furniture, and the stairs, and me), and cutting their hair with stolen scissors, and trying to run around naked; days like this when my children are perpetual motion and noise filled with dirt, could you make me always remember how extraordinarily blessed I am?  That these two beautiful, healthy, energetic children are mine, and I am so very fortunate to have them?  Remind me that the peanut butter sticky hands pressed onto my face are my treasure, and whenever I start to take them for granted, remind me that these two tiny faces are not going to be mine forever.  Remind me to take today, with the chaos and the mess and the sleep-deprivation and all, and enjoy every moment with them.  These babies are mine today, but they are not promised to me forever.

Remind me, Santa Claus, to enjoy every moment of this Christmas season this year, with two children who believe wholeheartedly in you, who are so excited with the magic of this Christmas.  Remind me to stop and enjoy these moments, because even though these days of toddlerhood are so long, the years will be so short.

 Thank you.

Sara

 p.s.  Please remember to eat the cookies and milk we will be setting out Christmas Eve. My son will be brokenhearted if you don’t.

 

 

 

Why We Don’t Watch America’s Funniest Home Videos

I have a confession to make: I am not the most conservative when it comes to my children’s television habits.  In fact, my sixteen-month-old daughter is sitting here with me right now, watching Police Women of Dallas arrest some guy strung out on PCP.  Which then makes me have to explain drugs to my 3-year-old(“They are bad. See this guy? They make you do crazy things.  Then the cops show up, and they call the ambulance.  Mommy works on the ambulance, and if the cops call her because you are on drugs and doing crazy thing, you will be in big trouble, Mister.”).

So, yeah.  I don’t shield my toddlers from the harsher realities of life on television.

But I do have some rules.

No Disney Princesses, because they annoy me, all that weeping and cleaning and waiting for Prince Charming to show up and save them.  Get real, people. Prince Charming isn’t showing up to save you.  More likely, Prince Charming will show up, and then he drinks all your beer and eats all your food and never puts the plates in the dishwasher.

The other rule is no America’s Funniest Home Videos.

I know, I know.  Policewomen of Dallas, but no Bob Saget?  No grooms fainting at the alter? No Grandma falling off a horse?

Well, no.

The meth addict on Cops?  That’s not funny.  The two car accident with someone getting backboarded and collared and extricated from the tangled wreck on Chicago Fire? No one’s laughing there.

Despite what the producers of some shows seem to believe, there is nothing funny about Grandma getting thrown off a horse.  They might want you to laugh, but I show up after that.  I know that Grandma has broke her hip, and now she is looking at surgery and rehab.  Grandma is in pain, and there is nothing funny about that.
And I don’t want my children viewing that on television and listening to a laugh track and thinking, somehow, that other people’s pain is funny.  I do not ever want my children desensitized to someone else’s pain or tragedy.

Some shows give us things to talk about.  Drugs, perhaps, and no, I don’t think three is too young to bring up that subject.  I never once said I want to shield my children from harsh realities; in fact, I want to talk about them, here, in my living room.  And if I’m watching that kind of TV and my children are in the room, I don’t necessarily turn it off.  We talk about it, about how people choose to self destruct, how bad things happen to good people, like car accidents.  But we don’t laugh.  We don’t pretend that it’s funny or entertaining.  

And no, I don’t expose my children to explicit sexuality, because it will be years before they are emotionally or psychologically able to process that.  And I don’t expose them to brutality or graphic violence.  But I use television to talk about subjects we need to talk about.  I use it to expose them to women who are doing something untraditional and brave, like being police officers or paramedics(yep, we watch old Discovery Health reruns of Paramedics, too).  

But what I absolutely do not want is my children ever thinking that someone else’s pain is funny or amusing.  And so we don’t watch America’s Funniest Home Videos or any other show that plays pain for laughs.  If Grandma falls off a horse in a show that we watch, we see the helpers–the police, the firefighters, the paramedics–come and help her.  We talk about safety, and what medical treatments can help Grandma, and what we do if we find someone injured.

But we don’t laugh.

Because pain is not funny.

 

Dear Mom Complaining About Food Allergies

Dear Woman in front of me in line at the grocery store:

totally get what you’re saying.  Nut free classrooms–how ridiculous is that?  I’m sure that the severely allergic child in your daughter’s classroom isn’t really that allergic, right?  Not enough to warrant you having to spend so much time making sure your daughter doesn’t take nuts to school.

I’m sure that leaving walnuts out of your muffins and sending jelly sandwiches is a huge inconvenience to you.  I am sure the extra five minutes at the grocery store scanning ingredients on prepackaged foods is five minutes you just don’t have to spare.  I assure you, I can fully relate.

I hate it too when my very veins feel like they are itchy and on fire.  I am totally inconvenienced when my throat swells and feels like it is filling with mucus, suffocating me as I struggle to push air through it. That really sucks, probably as much as eating a jelly sandwich with no peanut butter does.  I never have the time for the 911 call, the ambulance ride, the hours in the emergency room, the next two days when I feel miserable from all the drugs they gave me to reverse the anaphylaxis–I mean, yeah, that is JUST like having to spend five minutes to make sure the granola bar you want to send for lunch tomorrow won’t kill your daughter’s classmate.

Yes, I said kill.  One hundred children last year died from anaphylaxis.

That’s one hundred sets of parents who will never again go school lunch shopping for their sons or daughters.  One hundred sets of parents who will never, ever again have to scan granola bar ingredients, or make jelly sandwiches, or any of the other myriad of things you’re complaining about doing.

So, yeah, I totally relate to how inconvenienced you are trying to keep that allergic child in your daughter’s classroom safe.

I mean, who has time for that?

Signed,

An anaphylactic who really wishes people would take food allergies seriously

Tales From A Most Unfortunate Week

I am hiding from my children.

And eating a whole plate full of noodles with parmesan cheese and butter.  

So I am hiding from my children while I eat carbs.  It’s pretty much a win-win.

It’s been one of those weeks.  I had a corneal transplant in my left eye a few months ago, and the other day my son chose that eye to jab with his elbow.  Four hours and a trip to the emergency room later, I was told it was just going to hurt for a while but there was no permanent damage.

Relieved that the cornea was still intact, I left the ER and started my journey home in the minivan we bought a month ago.  That journey ended with the van in a guardrail and a $5500 repair estimate.

The next morning my husband left me and my sore, aching back for a 24 hour shift at work.  In the middle of this and two screaming toddlers, my dishwasher quit working.

Not only did it quit working, the disgusting drain water actually backfilled into my kitchen sinks where it sat, stagnant and smelling, while I had a complete breakdown on the phone to my husband. (I think I actually suggested that he quit his job right then and come home to fix our plumbing. Of course I was calm and mildmannered when I suggested it, not shrieking like a hysterical crazy woman.)

The eye is healing.
The van will get fixed.
The husband talked me through unplugging the sinks, then came home the next morning and drained the dishwasher so it works again.

And then I discovered that I have to be at the firehouse at 5 AM tomorrow, not 9 like I had previously thought. (Before becoming a firefighter-paramedic, I had no real idea that there even WAS a five in the morning)
My children are running around the living room in their diapers, having shed their pajamas, acting like they have been mainlinging hyper bean coffee for the last six hours.

Thus I am sitting here, in my kitchen, eating carbs.
And waiting for Thing 1 and Thing 2 to find me.

 

 

My daughter’s beauty

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I was recently reading a blog by a person who does not tell her daughter that she is beautiful.  Instead, this author uses the words “strong,” “smart,” “kind.”  All of which are good words, and all of which I tell my daughter(and my son).  

But I also tell them, both, that they are beautiful.  Because they are.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking her worth is based on her physical beauty.  I don’t want her focusing on physical attractiveness to the exclusion of her intelligence and her wit and her strength.  
But my daughter is beautiful, and I want her to know it.

I want her to know that her beauty ranks with sunsets over the lake and spring flowers pushing their way through the dirt.  I tell her that she is innately beautiful, like waterfalls cascading over rocks.  Why do I tell her this, when I don’t want her to focus on it?

Because I want beauty to be a part of her.  I want her to be so confident that she is beautiful that it shines through, whether she is wearing her little cupcake pinafore or her red firefighter gear.  I want her to know that she is beauty, the same beauty that is found in nature, beauty that simply is because that is how it was created to be.  I want her to know that she is beautiful because she was born that way, not because of a dress size or makeup or hair style.

I want her to be so sure of her beauty that it becomes a part of her, not something she does, but something she simply is.

I want beauty to be so present in her that it doesn’t matter whether she is a size ten, like Mommy, or wearing a pink tutu and theater makeup like her aunts, or has soot on her face and a fireman helmet on her head like her Daddy–I want her to know she can be all of this, and beautiful.

So yes.  I tell my little girl every day that she is strong, and smart, and funny–and beautiful.

Because she is.

 

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Confident daughters

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My baby Livie,

You are now a year old. If truth be known, you are twelve and a half months old.  You walk everywhere, running after your brother, snatching his toys before he knows what to do.  Then the two of you dissolve into a barroom brawl for the few seconds before I come over and break it up.  Even at a year old, you daily give me glimpses of the woman you will be.  You are fiesty.  You are headstrong.  You know what you want, and you will move heaven and earth to get it.

I see you, thirty years from now. I’m not quite sure what you’re wearing, whether it’s jeans and a t-shirt, or a business suit, or a uniform.  You have a stack of files in one hand, a baby in the other.  Your toenails are pedicured underneath the shoes you’re wearing.  The room quiets as you walk in; they listen to you, even though for years behind your back they have whispered about how incapable you are. You have spent a lifetime ignoring them; this is your territory.  You are in command now.  You are someone’s daughter, someone’s wife, but you are, at the very core of your being, you are yourself.

And what I notice most is that you are confident.
You are still my fiesty, headstrong, brawl-with-your-much-bigger-brother baby girl, but you are a woman.  You are a strong, confident, capable woman.

And oh my baby girl, what this world is going to do to you between here and there.
It is going to tell you that you cannot be too smart, or boys won’t like you.  It will tell you that you cannot be too pretty or girls will hate you, but you cannot be too fat or nobody will like you at all. 
The world is going to tell you that being popular is the very most important thing.  The world is going to try to break you, to bend you.  That girls are to do this or that,  The world will tell you that you cannot play with the big boys.  The world is going to try to tell you, over and over and over again, no, you can’t

And over and over and over again, my little Olivia, you will tell them yes.
Yes, I can.

And somedays you will feel like you can’t. Like the world is right.  You will feel like your confidence is a mirage, like you are nothing but a fake.
Come home on those days, my baby.
Come home and we will paint our toenails together, and I will whisper in your ear words of love and grace and courage.
For this is where it starts, this is where my strong, confident, capable daughter begins.  Here, on my lap, today at twelve months old.  Reading books, painting our toenails, tossing a ball around the floor, running outside with your brother. What we do today, you and me and Josh, is oh so important.  Your lives as adults will be built on the foundation we lay today.
The bedrock of that foundation is love.
And, oh, how I love you, my little girl.

Mommy

Onesies and my daughter

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Dear Wal-Mart:

Do you see that picture?
That is my daughter. She is eleven months old, and I went to your store today to buy some onesies for her.  I was looking for a little bit more than just the plain colored t-shirt ones, because I plan to have her wear them alone on the hot, hot days of summer. 

Before I go further, I want to tell you about my little girl.
She is beautiful.  She will know that her beauty comes not from the clothes she wears or the numbers on a scale, but from inner peace, charm, and poise. 
She is strong.  She will be a strong woman, one who can kick butt when she needs to.  She will be strong because she will also know that sometimes strength is quiet and determined, sometimes it is kindness towards those who hurt you. 
She is wise.  She will be a woman whose wisdom comes from a combination of experience and teaching.  She will know that her worth does not come from a man or a mirror.

But right now, she is eleven months old, and she just needs some onesies.
And the strong, wise, beautiful woman she will become does not need onesies that ask if her diaper makes her butt look big, or has pictures of six inch leopard print stilettos, or is plastered with those freaking insipid Disney Princesses.  These were my three choices in your store today.

Yes, I know they are onesies.  And I know she is eleven months old, and has no idea what she is wearing, and the clothing she wears now has no bearing on the woman she will grow into. I understand this.

But I am looking down the road.  You are seeing my baby daughter; I am seeing the beautiful, strong, intelligent woman she will become.  And that woman is the sum of the choices that I make today.  Every choice in my parenting, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem to you, will factor into the woman she will be.

And so I took my $15 and walked out empty handed.
And yes, I will go elsewhere, and probably spend more money and time than I would have if I had just bought those darn onesies today.

But my daughter is worth so much more than the time and money I will spend searching for her clothes.  And the loss of the strong, beautiful, wise woman that she will be is a far greater loss to this world than my time and money right now.

Signed,
A Disgusted Customer