My Second Mate (or "Finally, a Post about the Second Kiddo")

Just because I haven't written about my son yet doesn't mean he isn't front and center in my life. Quite the opposite, in fact -- I'm not writing because he has joined HD as the main focus of my little life these past few months. So as we embark on his 7 month anniversary here on this planet, I write for my Callum Lad (CL):

My handsome little devil,

There will be times in your life where I'll feel the need to preemptively apologize to you, because you will be subject to many comparisons to your sister. This is not in anyway because she is better or more or bigger or what-have-you. It's simply by virtue of her being older and the sheer fact that she was able to do most things first.  But you've got one-up on her.  She's got the burden of being our first exposure to all aspects of parenting, so you'll be able to learn from her mistakes if you pay attention.

I'll not sugar-coat it, son -- HD was an awesome baby. She was rarely fussy, easily soothed, almost always happy, never sick, a good eater, a great sleeper. She cooed at folks, and they cooed back.  Because of this, your daddy and I just sort of assumed you'd be a demon baby. How could there be room for another awesome baby in the Brill family?  Did we already use up all the awesome with our first?  We were positive you'd be very needy, the male high-maintenance counterpart to our daughter. And that first month you did require a tad more hands-on managing than she did...but I attribute that to you being a newborn during cold weather instead of her summertime first months (our house was pretty cold).  But as we've come to know each other, you have proved yourself to be remarkably low-key and loving.  Then again, that may be due to the fact that Hurricane HD is 3, and the laws of nature allow for only one drama baby in a family at any given time.  Thank God.

CL, you have proved our demon theory so very wrong.  At a young age, you are already a little daydreamer.  You love gazing at sunlight, shadows, and wind blowing in trees, fascinated by the patterns in the light and always trying to physically touch that bit of magic you see.  You can entertain yourself for long periods, working out the mechanics of toys or kitchen utensils.  You are an amazing self-soother, calmly finding your thumb during moments of potential stress. If I happen to be holding you at such a moment, your free hand will stroke my hair (this slays me).  You love to mimic sounds.  Initially, you are serious upon seeing new people, sizing them up and drinking everything in.  But my, do you love to laugh.  Tickling, funny noises, and especially your sister are your primary sources of entertainment.  You adore your Sissy above anyone else.  Craning your neck to look after her movements, you will quickly dive toward her for a hug if she comes close by.

I'm in love with my bright boy.  And STRONG.  You are a serious yoga baby -- already doing full plank position in anticipation of crawling.  You'll get there soon, I have no doubt.  And as you pass each growth milestone, Daddy and I remind ourselves how different you are from your sister.  You've got her beat in some departments (crawling before she did, for sure), and will probably be a bit slower in others.  I can promise that as a family, we will work together to see what talents each of you present and what interests each of you as you get older.  You will like some of the same things (reading and music, IhopeIhopeIhope).  You will also have separate interests.  I just hope above all that you two learn to lean on each other, and remember that your parents love both of you for who you are, not for how you work as any sort of matched set.

And I promise, no photos of y'all in matching outfits over the years.  The one time that happened, it was a total accident, I swear.  I think Daddy dressed you that day.


3 Years Gone By...

Dearest, funniest, most imaginative Hahper Dahlin--

Today, you are three years old.  At this exact moment in time, you are tall, gangly, all limbs and long brown hair and eyes with killer lashes.  I have to refrain myself from exclaiming over how pretty you are, so you don't get a big head or think that looks are too important.  You are a mile-a-minute ball of energy who will pull every trick in the book to avoid bedtime...only to pass out cold for a solid 9 hour stretch once you've wiggled/sung/whispered/cried all your ya-yas out.  You are tenacious; insisting that other kids be your friend ("I'm talking to you!" you proclaim, your face peering a mere 3 inches away from theirs), or repeatedly jamming puzzle pieces around until you make them fit, or repeating your request until you've gotten your object of desire (or a suitable substitute).  Yet, you exhibit strange wells of patience and calm, be it when "reading" a book to yourself, allowing me to teach you songs, or talking to your younger bubba and letting his fingers rove your face while he coos.

Your favorite colors are "yellow and pink and blue."  Like your mama, you refuse to limit yourself to only one favorite of anything.  Your current obsession (now going 6 months strong) is The Wizard of Oz, and you were completely dazzled by the "ruby red slippers" and Wicked Witch doll you received for this birthday.  You have zero fear of the witch; in fact, you seem to believe her main objective is just to keep Toto as her own pet.  You adore "I'm Walkin'" by Fats Domino and the King's version of "Hound Dog."  Whenever Daddy gets home at the end of the day, you squeal and run for a hug, which utterly makes his day.  You have a monster set of pipes and abhor being shushed when you're crying...it only makes you holler louder ("I will not be quiet; I will cry LOUD!!" -- yes, we know).  You enjoy extra garlicky hummus, raw lemons, fish of any kind cooked in any fashion, pickles, olives, and fresh ground pepper on your entrees. 

You call your brother "my baby" and love to show him off to anyone who will listen.  You pet his head and like to kiss his eyes.  Other than your parents, Bubba is your biggest fan, and I love to watch his gaze follow you around the room.  You enjoy the villain characters in your movies and stories more so than the princesses, although you like them too.  You make me exercise all my old acting muscles by insisting that I portray various characters at the drop of a hat (just this week, I've had to be Santa Claus, Jafar, and the Wicked Witch).  You have a huge capacity for love, a memory like an elephant, the vocabulary of a 5 year old, and the fashion sense of Cyndi Lauper. 

I can scarcely believe that you used to be the length of my forearm, with jet black downy fur on your head.  The easiest baby ever, you're making up for lost time by now challenging your parents every single day.  You are 3 going on 13.  But tonight I will still snuggle with you and Pink Puppy, sing "Embraceable You" (you call it The Mama Song) and "Hide Your Love Away," and tuck you in with a kiss.  I will do all these little-girl-and-mama rituals as long as you'll let me.  I'll continue to pray for your health and safety every day, and I'll go to bed excited for all the new independence, ideas, and discoveries that this year will bring for us both.  You are my own special girl, and I love you always.

--Your Mama


No Rest for the Weary (or, "No, That Title Sums It Up")

Yesterday morning, I awoke to the thump-thump-thump of my daughter's footsteps running into my room, looked at the clock (6:01am), and tried very hard not to burst into tears.  My stoic face lasted for about 3 minutes.

Allow me to back up.  A lot has happened the past couple of months.  You know, little things like wrapping things up at work before a leave of absence, the holidays, the birth of my son -- I'll refer to him as CL.  I've been a parent of two for a bit over 3 weeks now.  For the most part, it's honestly been okay.  The most needy the baby gets is that he eats and farts constantly.  Usually at the same time.  HD has been pretty cool with the whole big sister thing.  She realized that the baby doesn't really do anything and that Mama & Daddy will still try their hardest to give her individual attention, so the most she interacts with CL is to occasionally pat his head or imitate my mama behavior on her baby doll.  Hubs spent 3 weeks at home on paternity leave, so that was really nice.  And we had 2 weeks of cleaning/HD playing assistance from my parents.  I do realize how easy I had it.

So what happened yesterday to set off waterworks?  Aside from the standard rush of post-partem hormones?  Mostly, I blame two days of only 10 hours of sleep.  Those folks who tell you to sleep with the baby is sleeping?  They may be well-intentioned, but I wager they are also the people who don't ever feel the need to do laundry or dishes or grocery shopping.  They probably also aren't trying to eat when the kid's asleep (sort of a must when you're breastfeeding a barracuda baby and ergo constantly starving).  And I guarantee that those people haven't encountered a baby who grunts/sings/snores in his sleep and who has a radar to start in on those noises the second that the adult in the room has finally nodded off.

Thursday night/Friday morning, I had been up with CL to feed him at 3:30am.  Hubs was in another room catching more sleep since he had gone back to work.  I don't fault him at all for this -- he does the burping/diapers during the first feeding shift (which is midnight-ish, usually).  Besides, it's not like he can feed a boob-only baby.  CL took an hour to feed, burp, change, and nod back off.  Then he started in with the grunting.  And weirdo little moans and cries in his sleep.  Which meant I didn't get to sleep until 5:20am myself.  Then the pitter patter (read, major foot thudding) of my daughter a good 45 minutes earlier than normal to wake me.  Begging me to find one of her lovies that was lost somewhere in the folds of her bed.  My toddler just doing what toddlers occasionally do.  Believe it or not, I did know that I signed up for this occasional behavior when I decided to become a parent.

I drag my exhausted, stinky (breastfeeding = weirdly major boob sweats every single freaking night), incoherent ass out of bed to her room.  I can't seem to find the damn lovie.  I utter a single sentence to plead with HD that it's still nighttime and she should get back in bed. Because she's 2.5 years old and a total morning person who wants milk & Yo Gabba Gabba now dammit, she starts to whine over this request.  And I sit on the floor of her room and bury my face in my hands, willing the tears to stop when they start spilling.  Advice to new or would-be parents -- try your effing hardest never to cry in front of your kids when they're little.  It scares your small child when you show a moment of true, fed-up weakness, especially if they in any way think it's their fault.  For reals.  Parents are toddlers' touchstones, their pillars of strength and knowledge.  When poor HD saw me, her steadfast mama who always has the answers to her questions, just start to lose it...well, it understandably freaked her out.  Full on screaming fit commenced at 6:05am, making it even harder for me to calm myself down, nevermind the kid.

Sure, exhaustion and frustration over lack of sleep kicked off the tears initially.  But I think what truly brought them on was the thought buried in the back of my head (and the heads of all mothers, everywhere) is the doubt that you'll ever be enough for your family.  The thought that there aren't enough hours in the day.  The feeling that you miss movie nights with your husband, and sex, and sleeping past 7am, and eating your supper slowly.  Worst, the thought that you're not present enough for your kids.  That you'd love to just play tea party with your daughter, but it's 5:45pm and you have to  make something nutritious for the family to eat.  That you want to take your son out in the stroller in the wintry sunshine, but the house needs to be vacuumed because the dust is causing the whole crew's allergies to act up.  That you want to kiss your husband, but you still haven't had time to brush your teeth in the 4 hours you've been up already.  Normally, I'm pretty good at taking all these things one at a time.  But that particular moment, every doubt in myself and my abilities backed up on me all at once.  

So Friday morning at the first onset of HD's tantrum, Hubs hightailed it upstairs to relieve me.  God bless that man (although he did clock about 2 hours more sleep than I did, so I didn't feel too bad that he woke).  Still blurry-eyed himself, he shuffled me to our bedroom, told HD I needed to rest, and got her all calmed and ready for the day and shipped off to daycare.  I breathed deeply, fed and cuddled my newborn son, and managed to get him back to sleep.  I turned off the tv, peeled off my smelly spit-up crusted pajamas, and made myself lay back in bed.  Slept for another hour.  Was lucky enough to score a shower since CL was still asleep when I got up.  That evening, I played Wizard of Oz with HD.  I joked with Hubs about our Superbowl plans (they're non-existent, hence the funny), and sang silly songs to CL.  I did my job as a mama, and I tried to grab fun doing it when I could.


Cabin Boy (or, "Nursery Sneak Peak")

Hubs and I have been slowly piecing together our old guest bedroom to make a space for George Harrison's arrival. With less than 2 months (and the holiday season!) to go, it's definitely still a work in progress. But here are the tidbits I can share:

-- I don't do themes when it comes to kids' rooms. Or, hell, any room. You will not see recurring cartoon character/nautical/sports team motifs. I suppose Pottery Barn kids does make a mint on folks who like that kind of thing, but I don't want to inundate my poor son with a pre-planned "here's what you must like because you are a little boy" anything. We make a room we like that's functional, and kid can make changes when he's older and has some sort of preference. Rant over.

-- Any sort of strange cobbling of a "design concept" for this room is centered around a metal kitchen cart from Ikea. Photo below. Yup, it's aqua. Yup, it's actually going to be in his room and has an actual purpose.  And yup, I'm stoked it has wheels.

-- Of course we're re-using some of HD's old stuff (crib, rocking chair, etc).  That's just non-negotiable, old fashioned, good sense.

-- So I'm obviously unenthusiastic about themed stuffs in a baby's room. This naturally made finding baby bedding a joyful and completely simple task.  Apparently anything that's not themed for little boys is either red, pastel and/or navy blue, or white. Or some combination thereof. Thank God for buying a la carte pieces and putting together our own crib "set". Going with varying patterns in grey and aqua, below is a photo glimpse at what we've got.

-- I totally purchased a bitchin' black & white baby quilt with mustaches all over it.

-- Yes, we will throw a little pirate homage into the decor. Because obviously.


Oh the Tides, They Are A-Changin' (or, "Election Day")

Am I weary of TV campaign and proposition ads?  Yes.  Am I tired of having to read everyone's political opinion and not-so-friendly discourse on Facebook?  Yes.  Do I think my vote matters?  Of course (hell, I handled my research and ballot 2 weeks ago in a fit of excitement).  Do I believe that any one proposition, candidate, or political party can provide all the answers?  Bitch, please.  I'm not that naive.

For the past 3 years, I stopped voting for myself.  I stopped thinking about what was best for my current life situation, or solely based on my own ideals.  I do more research on each candidate and ballot measure than I did for the first 9 years I was able to vote.  For the past 3 years on into the rest of my life, I vote for my children.  I vote for my daughter's right to handle her own body. I vote for my kids' civil liberties, and those of their future friends and peers.  I vote for their public education and their environment and over economic and foreign issues they will inherit long after you or I see any true progress on them.

I feel my son twitching and cartwheeling around in my gut, and I pray that I do my part to give him the best possible world to live in.  I pray that all of these kids will one day be proud of what their parents and teachers and elders have done before them.  We may have been here first, but they are going to be the ones taking care of us someday.  Don't screw it up for them.


Cabin Fever (or, "Daylight Savings Is the Death of Me")


I just typed out a full 4 paragraph post on my phone, and managed to lose it before posting.

I dislike my stupid out of date phone, I heartily loathe the Blogger app, and as the you can tell from my post title, I care very little for Daylight Savings.  and on the tech-hating side is posting pics as well, hence the Instagram link (my handle is dreadpiratemama; feel free to follow).  Long story now condensed a whole hell of a lot:

-- kids ages 0-7 are dictators who don't understand sleeping in, and don't roll with schedule changes very well

-- if you love "falling back" and this whole (now mythical to me) extra hour of sleep, you may want to consider never having children

-- HD made things way harder than normal by having her first real nightmare last night...inconsolable sobbing-turning-hiccuping kind of deal where she (very weird for her) insisted on getting in Mama & Daddy's bed

-- (aside from the 1st 2 months of HD's life) Hubs & I decided long ago that co-sleeping was not the best idea for for our family...last night just drove that notion home.  being 30 weeks pregnant shoved onto 1/4 of a queen bed with a furnace-level body of a 2 year old wedged against you will do that

-- daylight savings especially sucks when you're up so early that the beautiful early morning solace of Starbucks hasn't even opened yet

-- always press "save" when you type anything on a phone that likes to turn off at random

-- passing thanks to my own parents who let me bunk up with them when I had a nightmare -- I now fully feel your pain, and totally understand why you eventually pointed me to my brother's room instead


Twilight Time (or, "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling")

On a typical weekday, we try really hard to eat sitting down as a family.  Since HD is a monstrous talker, it's getting pretty cool to engage her in conversation while we eat. Especially now that conversations are all about how much she loves singing Frankenstein decorations.  But I digress. We usually get supper in (thanks to ingeniously short recipes and/or pre-cooking on the weekend) around 6pm.

Then, it's our fun little 30-45 minutes of family playtime.  Running around in our study, catapulting from the ottoman to the couch. Gazing at the illustrations from Big House in the Little Woods (can't wait to read that one with HD in a few years) and reenacting the scene where Pa pretends to be a mad dog to scare his daughters. Playing with her vintage Fisher Price Little People house, just like the one I remember from my childhood. Lots of giggles, lots of attention, lots of singing. It's a great way to bond as a family and get everyone's wiggles out before bath and bed time.

And while HD's shrieks of glee don't really jive with an old Platters song, Twilight Time is my favorite part of the day.