Monday, December 27, 2010

How Are the Children?

I think I have mentioned on here once before how much I love my job?  I am not able to go into detail about what I do, but a bare bones description is that I get to help improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers.  

Pretty awesome job, huh?   I really do love it.  

The only real downside is that semi-frequently I am required (mostly in-state) to go on overnight trips.   And really, aside from being away from my family that isn't so bad either.  I mean, really, where else am I going to go dancing on bars (sober), listen to a gay man critique his "gaydar",  watch 16 and Pregnant while crying my eyes out with other grown women, or hear unending stories about the fuzz...  And I don't mean the police.  

And, also these trips have other upsides.  I get to become more knowledgeable the subject I love best while hanging out with some of my favorite people.   It really isn't so bad.  

Through these many trips, there has been a tradition set forth that at our larger meetings are opened with the question of "How are the children?"  This is then followed by some story or recent study findings regarding the welfare of children in our state or country.  

This "how are the children" opening actually from a really cool tradition from the Masai tribe of Africa.   Apparently they were considered to be some of the most intelligent and fearsome warriors of the region.  Yet, surprisingly when fellow Masai warriors greeted one another they would say "Kasserian Ingera," meaning "How are the children?"  If the community was safe and free of danger than the fellow Masai would answer that the "Children are well." 

The Masai knew that the welfare of their community was dependent upon the well being of their children.   If the children were well, the all was well in their world.  

This is kinda how families are, aren't they?  The well being of a family is dependent upon the well being of their children.

This past week countless friends and family have been asking us in various ways, "Kasserian Ingera?"   I haven't had the time, clarity of thought, or strength to type out all that happened last week (though I will), I am grateful to now say that the children are well. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

10 Things That I Found in My Van

Last night I posted something that alluded to one of my dirty little secrets.  

My van...  oh, my poor, poor van.   It is kinda like that drawer that everyone has in their kitchen.  The one that never seems to stay organized and you can find the most bizarre combination at anyone time.  Yep, it is a little less swagger wagon and a little more hoarder mobile.  So, today I decided to give it a little TLC.  

So here are 10 things that were found in my van while cleaning it out:

10.  Various pieces to at least 2 different Halloween costumes.   Yes, we are nearly a month out.

9.  A pair of underwear that does not belong to me or anyone in my family.  

8.  Enough toys to supply a small village in West Africa.  

7.  No less than 5 empty sippy cups.  

6.  Poison's Greatest Hits on auto-repay of the "Sad cowboy song" per request of Bub. 

5.  Something (likely one of those toys) that sings "If You're Happy and You Know It" every time I slam on my brakes.  

4.  26,000 Silly Bandz (that is an actual count). 

3.  A 2008 Knox County Schools Coupon Book. 

2.  A gigantic wagon that smells like mothballs.  

1.  An application to the NRA though I've never shot a gun.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Things We Keep

It is funny what motherhood has done to me.  No, I'm not talking about the dark circles under my eyes no amount of make-up will cover or the toys and sippy cups that come falling out of my minivan every time the door opens.  

  Just wait...

I'm also not talking about my absent mindness or the likelihood that I have somebody's body fluids on me at most times.  

I'm not even talking about the fact that my own mortality or, God forbid, my babies' is ever present in my mind.  

What motherhood has done for me more than anything is made me desperate.   It has made me deeply desperate to remember.  

Of course I am going to remember the big things. 

Their births.  

Their first baths.  

Their earliest smiles.  

The way they looked when they discovered something new. 

Their first day of school. 

Seriously, when did he get big enough to go to school?  
I tell you, it has made me so desperate...

I can still feel that tiny weight and the roundness of his little head.  I can still see the way he stretched his whole body, but still took up less than two feet of space. 

I can still smell the sweetness of her head after a bath and feel the way she would nuzzle her face in my neck for comfort.   

My heart aches to hold those tiny bodies just one more time.   Kiss those perfect little ears, and toes, and fingers, and noses.

To watch their daddy fall in love with them, and in turn fall deeper in love with him.  

One more day spent watching them discover everything around them because everything is brand new. 

I know this is a wish that is shared with every mother, my own included.  I am sure her heart aches, just as mine, to have "just one more day" while fully knowing that it is a fruitless wish. 

And since that wish will never come true, motherhood has made me more than anything desperate to remember the little things that could so easily be lost.   Every day I find myself in silent, redundant prayer of asking God to, "Lord, please let this be one of the things I keep."  

The way Goose shyly smiles when she is nervous and excited at the same time.  

The way Bub sings along with every song that comes on the radio. 

The way I can count on hearing the scraping of a kitchen chair across the floor anytime I am cooking because she wants to help.

The way he always insistent on being Fred and me being Daphne.  

The way she runs to the door announcing "Daddy's home".  

The way he tells me every day that "Even when I'm mad at your, I still lub you."   

The way she tells him "I lub you, brutter."  

The way we have dance parties in my van. 

The way that once again I get to momentarily feel that small weight in my arms as we have a family hug.  

The way they laugh.  

The way they smell.

The way they love each other. 

I desperately want to keep the day to day things that are knitting the fabric of the person of whom they are becoming.  

And I don't know how to do that other than to once again pray that God will let me have those be some of the things I keep.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

King of the Pooters

This is Goose, King of the Pooters.   Or at least that is what she told me tonight. 

Goose has always had an extremely high level of receptive language (the words in which she understands).  

Sometimes the expressive language (the words she says) gets a little mixed up.  

However,  because she won't be 2-years-old nearly long enough, there's no way in the world I am going to try to figure out what King of the Pooters really means. 

Because I love it! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Confessions of a Chicken Farmer

Okay, so I think that my most regular readers are my mom, mother-in-law, and husband.  I am truly appreciative of their encouragement and following of the blog. 

But, for the rest of the folks who may poke their heads in here who don't already know this.... well, I have a confession.  

As you have likely gathered there are chickens that live at my house. 

Well, in my backyard.... in their coop... up on the hill.... across from my back porch. 

We call them "The Girls".  

Hey Girls!

Yep, we have 3 laying hens.   Well, they aren't really laying too much right now.  I bet you didn't know this, unless you a fellow chicken farmer yourself, but as the days get shorter hen's egg production declines (and sometimes stops).   

Pretty interesting, huh?

Another little factoid that I get a lot of questions concerning The Girls is could we be raising baby chickens out back?  Well, because we live in a subdivision and because we actually like our neighbors (well, most of them you may need to read about the Unabomber to know that whole story) we do not have a rooster. 

So it would be impossible for The Girls' eggs to become fertilized and produce baby chicks.     

And that has been your biology lesson of the day courtesy of LeeAnn the Chicken Farmer.  You're welcome!

Oh... that reminds.  My confession.  

You see Chicken Farmer probably wouldn't be a completely accurate description of the contribution I make to the quality of life for The Girls.  

Maybe Chicken Observer would be more accurate.   Well, no, that's still a little bit of a stretch.  

How about Occasional Chicken Observer?   Yeah Occasional Chicken Observer. 

Not really hands on with things, but hey!  From time to time I will a stick a piece of dry grass in their coop to watch them scramble for it.  

And maybe once every few weeks when I'm out there I will talk to them. 

Never mind that conversation is me telling them they need to stop stinking up my backyard or their fate will be Original Recipe or Extra Crispy. 

I joke, I joke. 

I don't hate them.  At least nowadays I don't hate them.

And since I'm giving confessions about my status as a Chicken Farmer  Occasional Chicken Observer if I am going to come completely clean then I could say I have kinda embraced them.  

Well, from the distance of my porch where I'm not down wind.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

7 Years

7 years...  

Has it really only been 7 years?   Because it seems like it was a lifetime ago. 

No, it couldn't possibly have already been that long.     But, it also it feel so recent.

7 years next week, the day after Thanksgiving actually, will be the anniversary of when I knew that the Rooster loved me the way I loved him.

7 years...

...since I found out that there would be no more first dates.

...since my heart felt whole.  Really, really whole.

...since I knew, that I knew, that I knew what truly being  in love felt like. 

...since I knew what being in loved back felt like.  

...since I knew I was the most beautiful girl to the only person I wanted to feel that way about me.

...since I first tried on his last name.     

...since I pictured the precious babies that would be part of our lives one day.

...since I told him I cared deeply for him and his reply to me was that he more than cared about me, but that he loved me and knew that he would always love me.  

7 years...

...and the dates aren't as frequent

...but, the wholeness of my heart has grown as our love has grown into a deeper, stronger, more mature love

...and my confidence in knowing, that I know, that I know, that I know I am still in love with him equal to my confidence of knowing that he is still in love with me 

...and I know he still thinks I'm the prettiest girl he knows because he tells me frequently.   Even when I don't agree.   Especially when I don't agree.

...and that last name is now mine. well as our two precious babies'. 

...and I know that the promise he made me 7 years ago that he is going to love me always is a promise he's keeping.  

I love you, baby!  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

10 Things You Likely Didn't Need to Know About Me

10.  I apparently think things need to be a count down opposed to a count up.  

9.    I have a zit on my chin that is roughly the same size as my nose.  

8.   I find cleaning my house very relaxing.  

7.   I don't relax often. 

6.   My very favorite smell in the world is the smell of Bub's head when he's been outside and sweating.   Love it!  Wish I could bottle that stuff up!

5.   I've had several people tell me over the past few weeks they enjoy reading my blog.  I always wonder if what they really mean is, "LeeAnn, I had no idea you were so odd." 

4.   I have a feeling that admitting I love the smell of sweaty little boy is going to up my odd factor.  

3.  No matter where my children are at in the house if they hear the theme songs to The Office, Deadliest Catch, or Whale Wars they drop whatever they are doing, run to the living room, and dance with everything they got. 

2.  Goose does not approve if I try to join in the dancing.  

1.  I think Goose thinks I'm odd, too.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My daughter's mother

I need to start off by saying that this is my second go at writing this blog.   I had the majority of it typed out and went to re-read it only to realize that I was not articulating my feelings clearly.  

But, in reflection that makes perfect sense because it is about my little Goose and nothing with her has ever been easy.  

Seriously, this is me just 7 months pregnant with her.  7 months?  As in I had two more months to go after this?   Yeah... 

Then came Goose's birth and it was indicative of what was to in store for me.   After a fast and furious delivery, with the highlight being two failed epidurals, Goose was delivered naturally.  She came out screaming, though I doubt you could have heard it over my own screams.  

Homegirl got her momma's noggin. 

And that is about all that she got from me.  

Well, just about all... 
Me as a babe

Goose as a babe

Me as a toddler

Goose as a toddler

Let us pray some of the paternal genes kick in before she turns 13.  

Me as a teen.

Please stop laughing at me.  

Seriously, stop.  And don't you dare show that to anyone.  

So, Goose got my big ol' noggin along with an uncanny resemblance.
But, that's about where it ends.  

On good days, we are like apples and oranges.  

On bad days, it is more like oil and vinegar.  

Nowadays, most days are good days.   But, for a long time they were not good days.  

My little Goosey Girl was (is? will always be?) what is often termed as being "feisty" or "strong willed."  As an infant, no one else could hold her, change her, bathe her, or for that matter look at her.  And when I tried to do those things, I was often met with screams of discontentment.  Below is a pictorial collection of her first few months of life...

And sleep?  Sleep...  sweet Goose didn't need not stinkn' sleep and she was certain neither did I.   She finally slept her first full night (i.e. about 8 hours straight compared to getting up between 5-7 times in a 10 hour period) when she was 16 months old.  And she was medicated. 

*Disclaimer, the medication was a prescription from her pediatrician.   It was either that for her or Prozac for me.  

Yep, those were our oil and water days.  

Now that I am getting an adequate amount of sleep I sometimes reflect on that time.   It is funny what hindsight affords you.  

One example, when I was laboring with her (Again, all natural baby!  Where's my medal?) maybe I might have screamed some and cussed a little (the Rooster's version may have omitted the words some and a little).  And maybe at one point I think I recall saying something along the lines of "No one told me this was going to hurt!" 

But, now I realize just how special Goose's birth was to me.   Don't get me wrong, Bub's birth was equally "special", however, her birth was different.  It taught me more about myself and was a truly rewarding experience.  As odd as it may seem, having her gave me the assurance that I was capable of anything.

I am happy to report who she is today is one amazing little person and I am so lucky to be her mother.  And that intimate bond we created during her trying infancy, the reassurance I gave her that I was there for her even when the going got tough, has given us a really special relationship.

Or as she would assuredly tell you (you being anyone who she thinks needs to know) in her soft, sweet voice, "I'm Mommy's baby."    

I think her birth experience was to prepare me for what was to come during her infancy.    I am equally as sure that the challenges we have faced in during her infancy to prepare me for the challenges that are to come.

She and I are still very different, but I am grateful for those differences.   I am grateful that she is becoming her own person.  I am grateful for how strong of a person that is.   I am grateful that she has forced me to be a better mother.  Most of all, I am grateful to be MY daughter's mother. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

10 Things that Happened at The Hen's House Tonight

10.  I am so exhausted I may pass out at any moment.  

9.   My husband is watching his new favorite show, Jerseylicious.   I'm not even kidding. 

8.  My son went to sleep at 6:30 tonight.  Which can only mean he will wake up at 4:30 in the morning.  

7.  My daughter tried to bite my belly button in the bathtub.   In case you are wondering, I do not have an outie.  She is very talented and slightly odd. 

6.  I am fairly certain that there are Peanut M&M's with the chocolate sucked off of them laying on my kitchen table.   And no, they aren't mine.  

5.  I am fairly certain that I will find Peanut M&M's with the chocolate sucked off of them somewhere else in my house in the next 24 hours or so.

4.   I tried to talk romantic to my husband on facebook chat and he made a face at me.   Burn...  

3.   I tried to cut my toenails with a pair of baby nail clipers tonight.

2.   I don't recommend trying to cut your toe nails with a pair of baby nail clipers.  

1.  I tried again with the facebook chat with my husband, and he gave me a look that made it clear that Jerseylicious is not to be interrupted.   Double burn...      

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Run and tell that

I think that there are some people who God just gives an extra dose of happiness.   Their cup is always half full.  They can always see the the sunny side of things.  The world and everyone in it is beautiful to them.  

My precious Bub is one of those people.   From the moment he was born, he had a sweetness about him that is so genuine and pure.   His goodness never seems to end.  And as an extension of that, the goodness that he sees in others is endless. That goodness, unduly, often extends to how he views me.  

I am so lucky to be his momma!

I hope, I wish, I pray that he is always that kind of person.   And that, in itself, is enough to make him one of the best people I know.  

But, his awesomeness does not end there.   In addition to being sweet, smart, and very good looking (he's the spitn' image of the Rooster!) he is one of the funniest people I know.  
Bub the Bounty Hunter enjoying a turkey samich.  

For example, a month or so ago we went shopping for a new pair of school shoes.  He was convinced that if we could get him a pair that Velcroed that he would be the fastest kid in his class.

The Rooster and I didn't tell him that it was going to take a lot more than Velcro shoes to make up for the speed genes he received from us.  

Anyhoo, we start trying on the fastest Velcro shoes the store had to offer.  Each were given a test run that commenced in him doing a knee slide while simultaneously saying "Whoa!  These are fast!". 

After the Rooster finished doing that, Bub got a chance to try on shoes in his size.     

Haha just kidding.  The Rooster said, "In your face, slow genes!  Face!" as he did his knee slides.

We could have used the helmet for the knee slides.  
Bub finally found THE shoes.   Bub and the Rooster decided they needed to go get a buggy for THE shoes.  

Off they go looking for a buggy while I try to wrestle several mismatched shoes from Goose.  Sister loves her shoes!

But, here's the kicker.   As Bub was approaching the buggy corral he sings in a loud, high pitched voice that would have made Michael Jackson circa Jackson Five days take notice:

"These shoes are AWE-SOME!  As a POSS-UM!"  

You try it.  

Now try singing it like a 4 year old with his underwear on backwards (because he likes the picture in front.)  

Impressive, huh?   That is what I hope the on-lookers were thinking, too. 

Guess who I think is awesome as an possum?  

So, that became my favorite Bub story for a couple of weeks. 

Until, he gave me this jewel earlier this week...

To fully get the value of this story, you should first watch this video Run and Tell That .

No, really.  If you haven't seen it, you MUST.  

We were at the pharmacy picking up a prescription and the following conversation took place between Bub and the pharmacists. 

Bub:     "I'm going to a haunted house."  
Pharm:  "Haunted houses are all just pretend though." 
Bub:      "Nope, actually my house is haunted.   (pause)  And you can run and tell that; run and tell that; run and tell that, homeboy."  
Pharm:   Open mouth stare.  

Now, I feel defense of my parenting style may be necessary here.  

Yes, my boy did dress up as a convicted felon, but it was only to match his friend who dressed up as a reformed prostitute.   Err...  What I'm trying to say is that don't judge me based on the fact my son may drop lyrics about "snatchn' yo people up" on you.   So, please don't hide your kids.  Or hide your wife.  Or your husband.   Because remember he is a really sweet kid.  

Please, homeboy? 

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Ribless McRib

My BFF, Amber...

Hey Amber!

Is quiet possibly the biggest McRib lover in the world.   Seriously, she talks about it a lot.  Like a lot a lot.

She knew exactly when her seasonal delight would be back and had extra napkins waiting.  

She has people around the state updating her daily about when they were going to go get one.  

She even claimed she WAS the McRib for a couple days.  See below picture taken straight from her facebook profile picture.  

Yes, she does have a problem no drug can solve, however, I love her dearly!  

 Her addict presents a small problem.  You see, for nearly 14 years now I've been a vegetarian.   I will save the story of how that came to be for another day.  And even though McDonald's uses some foreign substance that likely has never oinked a McRib just doesn't fit into my lifestyle.  

I really felt this created a wall between Amber and I.   She taking on the identity of the McRib and really left little for us to talk about.  Her biggest topic of debate was yea or nay on getting onions on her beloved sandwich left me scratching my head saying, "What in the heck is she talking about?"

So, I decided I wanted in on the sacred delight.   I was going to do the unthinkable...  

No, not eat the McRib!   I have ethics here people!  I was going to get a Ribless McRib.  

Amber had her hesitations.   I think the thought of me messing with her perfect sandwich was a little unsettling to her.   However, I really felt like it was necessary to close this gap between us.  

So last week I go to my favorite McDonalds.  Pull in and they say "Oh, LeeAnn it is so good to see you!  You want a half and half tea?"  Haha, just kidding... though I think it could really happen.  

I ask for my Ribless McRib.   They ask me to repeat myself.  

Now, being a vegetarian who goes to fast food places for 14 years now, I've learned a thing or two.  One is, that if you order a hamburger hold the hamburger meat or chicken sandwich with no chicken, things are going to get screwed up.   Which, I really cannot fault anyone for.  I am a weirdo who loves a good bun with mustard and ketchup.   I can't expect everyone to get that. 

So, it is no surprise my Ribless McRib was causing some heading scratching.   As the horns start honking behind me, I say "Nevermind, just give me a McRib and half & half tea."  

I pay for my sandwich and pull out heading towards my night class.  

After pulling the big daddy out, I give it a good look over realized that as honed as my driving while eating skills are, there was no way I was going to be able to handle deconstructing this saucy mess and driving at the same time.   So, I put the McRib back in the bag and drive on to school. 

After getting to UT, I pull the thing back out and take a good look at it.   For those who are McRib novice like myself, it is basically a piece of rib meat (or something like that) SLATHERED in barbecue sauce with onions and pickles on a toasted bun.  

I throw the rib piece along with the onions back into the bag.  I begin making myself a napkin bib and wave at some ladies from my class.  

Then I take my first bite.   Sauce squirts out the sides all over my hands and face.   I take another bite to really get the experience of it all.  

And I have to admit, the barbecue sauce bun has to be right up there with my ketchup and mustard bun.   Probably doesn't touch my cheese only sandwich, but still pretty tasty.  

Two things...  First, I spent the entire class paranoid that I had sticky barbecue sauce all over my face.  And second, unfortunately I think that Amber does not see this as truly "getting" it.   I still am lacking in my knowledge of this culinary giant because I didn't "really" eat a McRib.

But, the good news is that the McRib will be gone another soon and things will be back to normal.  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Dog...

Once upon a time there was a wonderful dog.  
His name was Simon.   He had his own theme song I sang frequently.  It went a little something like this: 

Simon, Simon
Fabulous Simon
Simon's so swell
You're so outrageous!

He loved it.   Others did, too.  

Simon came to us shortly after the Rooster and I were married.   Actually we got him two weeks before we found out we were going to have Bub.   That is probably why I spent my time singing songs to him.
Simon, to put it delicately, was not your classic beauty.   At 11 years-old we didn't know much about the story of his life before coming into our family, but he obviously had one to tell. 

Simon's most distinctive feature was his single, prominent tooth from which his lower lip gaped open.   Upon meeting Simon, people would often ask something along the lines of, "Now, is something wrong with his mouth?" 

I liked to act shocked and say, "No?!?  What did you do to him?"  as I scooped him up in my arms pretending it was the first time I had seen it.  It got them every time.  Then I'd usually sing him his song to make him feel better about himself.  

One of the most amazings things about Simon, though, is one that I don't think many people believe.   Simon had magical powers.  Yes!  I promise!  In the first month of having him he:
  1. Moved a baby gate that we still have no idea how he did it and escaped to the living room. 
  2. He completely seperated a plastic pet taxi and escaped to the living room.  
  3. He bent the metal on a cage and escaped to the living room.   
  4. He chewed the frame off of a door and tried to escape to the living room.  
  5. He jumped out of an open window 7 feet to the ground.  He was waiting at the living room front door to be let in.
  6. He chewed his way through a paneled door to escape to the living. 
By that point we finally got it in our heads that he liked the living room.  So, that is where we left him and he happily stayed from then on out. 

After Bub and then Goose came along life changed for Simon a bit.   He didn't get sang to as frequently and his multiple naps a day were often interrupted. 
However, I think that he felt that it was more than made up for in all the hugs and extra snacks (mostly in the form of Goldfish and Cheerios)  he received.  
Very sadly, 4 and a half years after coming into our lives it was time for Simon to leave.   He got sick and we had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to our fabulous friend.  

Our hearts were all broken.   Nearly a year later we still talk about how much we love him.  

He really was a wonderful dog. 
We decided that we are just dog people.  That for our home to fill full and hearts happiest we needed a dog in our life.  

We then got another wonderful dog.  His name is Scooby.  

As any mother with more than one child can tell you, no two children are ever the same.  

Well, knowing that I don't know why in the world I expected Simon Part II when we got Scooby.  Simon was an 11 year-old,  16 lbs mixed breed, docile dog.  Scooby was a 6 week old, growing to be 60ish lbs, wild man Labradoodle . 
The differences don't stop there though.  

Simon was frequently a house guest at my parents', aunt's, friends', and in-laws' homes.   Scooby stayed once with my parents and I think word got out.   He has not been invited anywhere since.  

Simon never chewed on anything (well, short of the 2x4's of the door frame.. but that has long since been forgiven, so it doesn't really count).   So far Scooby  has passed Silly Bandz, pacifiers, crayons, hair bows, Barbie's hand, and many other small unidentified plastic things.  

Simon's energy level was slightly above that of a grizzly bear in the height of hibernation.   Scooby requires walking several miles a day in order to be functional.  

Every time we picked up Simon from the groomer they went on and on about what a good boy he was while visiting.  When I picked up Scooby for the first time last week they told me, "He sure is happy to see you!"   I think they left out that they were happy to see me, too.  
However, one similarly both Simon and Scooby share is that they are both very loved and will firmly always be important parts of our family.  It is funny how dogs can do that to you. 

Now, if I could only figure out a theme song for Scooby.