Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Buoyed Up . . .

I know this isn't a traditional post, but rather than trying to respond to the wonderful comments you have all offered in support of me and my crazy life, I just thought it would be easier to thank you here . . . I find myself "thriving and surviving" off of many of your kind words—and when the days are especially long, the tears come a little too quickly, and life seems a little more difficult than I'd like, you all buoy me up and keep me afloat. . .
Here's to you, and sailing on high seas!

Lessons Learned from Winnie-the-Poo

All of the recent sick days with Caleb have caused us to look for "tools" to keep our very active, but very sick little guy in a state of semi-rest. This can be quite the trick as Caleb is rarely still, even when running a temp of 102. . . and so we have called upon our close friends, Diego, Blue's Clues, and Winnie-the-Poo to aid us in this endeavor.

I, for one, have been quite reticent to use TV or movies as tools, and in fact, prided myself in the past on never doing so. I have since caved, and Caleb's new little portable DVD player is a dear friend of mine. (I use this handy little tool on my "bad mommy" days when I am simply too tired from being up all night with Ella to come up with stimulating and creative activities to entertain my toddler, much less the energy to assist him with them).

That confessed, I have found quite a bit of merit in Caleb's programming. Blue's Clues is so sweet and educational, Go Diego Go, while being overly-enthusiastic and a bit irritating at times, has taught Caleb several words in Spanish (he greeted Daddy with an "Hola Daddy! as he came home from work the other day), and Winnie-the-Poo is, well, Winnie-the-Poo, and has a special place in my own childhood memories and thus a permanent place in my heart.

And so this morning, with Christopher Robin and the gang singing happily in the background, and Caleb resting and working on a glass or orange juice, I am inclined to allow my mood to a improve a bit while falling in love with Poo all over again, for a few of the following reasons:

1) Poo is the sort of bear that doesn't allow a little extra girth around his middle taint his perspective on life, nor detour him from the things he loves best—namely honey.

2) Poo doesn't think twice about asking his friends for help.

3) Poo is quite creative and persistent, and even if ninety-nine of his ideas fail, he will still attempt a hundredth.

4) Poo never allows life to get the best of him, nor does he raise his fist to the sky. A simple "oh bother," generally does the trick and he is able to move on to more positive things without dwelling on past failures.

This is hardly an extensive list, and I would welcome other insight . . .

There is something remarkably comforting in the knowledge that a bear "of very little brain" can weather the winds of life with a smile. It just goes to show you there are very few problems that a pot of honey can not solve.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Daddy's Pictures

There is something utterly delightful about being married to a photographer. I am continually forced to examine my children outside the light of ordinary circumstances—from the perspective of an artist. And when life can be so very crazy and overwhelming, it is so healthy for me to be allowed a step back and a glimpse of my children as my husband is allowed to see them—terribly alive, and fresh, and beautiful in all of their humanity.

My Beautiful Children . . .


There was a time, not so long ago, when my work required my utmost and undivided attention. As a writer, processing story and setting it in a readable and entertaining format, is the best part of the process—the research and multiple drafts that prelude a finished piece of work are necessary, but not quite as much fun. . . regardless, all parts of the process have required quite a bit of focused attention from me in the past. No background music or excess noise, clean and orderly working conditions, etc. (I'm a bit compulsive in this area . . . or I used to be). In fact, many, if not most writers will speak on some level to the necessity of a focused place, space, and time to work . . . it's just part of the nature of the whole process.

Today I opened up a document that I have not looked at, much less worked on, in over a year. In the course of that time, my life has shifted slightly, as has my ability to maintain the quiet and the order of my working conditions . . .

So, to my surprise and delight, today I find myself actually working a bit—something I've not given myself the permission to do in a very long time. But this time, my working conditions are considerably different. Gone is the quite and the order.

In the background, Go Diego Go! is exuberantly entertaining my son, who is fighting the stomach flu (so throw a bit of vomit in there for good measure); a load of laundry is running downstairs; my "work space" (otherwise known as my dining room table) is littered with bills-just-paid, tax paperwork and files, a half-filled bottle of breast milk, a quickly-cooling cup of coffee, a bottle of children's Tylenol, and a box of Kleenex. In the crook of my left arm my three-week old daughter is hiccuping violently, and I think she just soiled her pants . . . yet, in spite of all the distractions, I am actually enjoying a bit of accomplishment in the writing department! Something I never could have imagined just a few long months ago.

So, to all of the multi-taskers out there, I raise my cup of now-cold coffee in a toast. We are stronger than we think.

Now, back to work.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


The old adage, "having a baby changes everything . . ." has not only become a bit over-used and over-heard in our lives, but it is more than anything, an understatement. Personally, I would get a little more specific and say, "having a baby changes everything; having two changes everything, and you no longer have weekends."

With Caleb, we could still kind of manage a semblance of relaxation, though even the small bit that occurred had to be carefully planned. For example, a Saturday afternoon coffee break corresponded with nap time, and a Sunday afternoon nap corresponded with, well . . . lots of prayer??? Anyway, even the above is no longer the case now that there are two wee ones. (For those of you with more than two, I bow in homage).

Before we had kids Aaron and I often looked in amazement and with sympathy on our friends who did. "How do they do it?" We asked ourselves. "They must be utterly exhausted!" They were. We are. And now Aaron and I look back on those days with an odd mixture of longing and regret—longing to return to them and regret that we did not truly appreciate what we had—not, however, that we would trade our children for a free weekend. . . although . . .

This weekend was/is pretty typical, and for those of you reading this with children gathered around your knees, then you can laugh along with me as I relate (with a bit of sarcastic humor) the events, thus far, in our weekend. It is currently 7:45pm Saturday evening. For those of you still without children, take a deep breath and read this with a grain of salt knowing that the author is running on (and writing on) less than five hours of sleep in the last twenty-four, and thus her perspective might be a bit off. (Nevertheless, enjoy your child-free weekends while you have them!)

1:30am Up to feed Ella.
5:00am Up to feed Ella.
5:15am Drink a gallon of coffee.
5:30am Back to sleep for a bit as Aaron gets up with Caleb.
7:00am Up to feed Ella and drink more coffee.
8:00am Join Caleb and Daddy for an episode of Blue's Clues.
9:30am Feed Ella.
10:00am Help daddy get Caleb dressed and ready for breakfast at McDonald's.
10:15am Help daddy clean up the car, the car seat, and son, after Caleb projectile vomits.
11:00am Feed Ella.
11:30am Send daddy and recovered Caleb (maybe it was a fluke?) off to McDonald's and local Trade Show.
12:00pm Feed Ella.
12:30pm Welcome home Daddy and Caleb (who appears fine).
1:00pm Clean up living room, couch, and son after another round of vomit. (Please God, not the flu again).
1:30pm Lay sick son down for a nap.
1:35pm Feed Ella and breathe a sigh.
3:00pm Get sick son up from nap.
3:10pm Feed Ella.
4:00pm Take a walk to clear head.
4:30pm Return home and clean up more vomit. We are cursed.
5:00pm Run to grocery store for Gatorade to help with dehydration.
5:30pm Feed Ella.
6:00pm Send tired Daddy off to a photography event for the evening.
6:10pm Feed Ella and bathe Caleb.
6:30pm Get sick boy into bed for the night and sigh again.
7:00pm Rock sick boy, change bedding, and clean up more vomit.
7:30pm Feed Ella.
7:40pm Blog.

As for the rest of my evening, I think I will take a bath, say some prayers for health, maybe burn some incense or light some candles to help clear the smell of bleach from the air, and get ready for the round of nighttime feedings! I know, I know, you all wish you could join in the fun . . .
Just wait . . . we still have tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Angel of Mercy

I had a hard day yesterday.

While I am enjoying the reality of two vs one, the change of going from the singular to the plural in children continues to cause me a bit of emotional setback—especially on the days when the routine that I so love to maintain is thrown to the wind and I attempt to simply survive . . . Yesterday was a perfect example of this. By 3pm I had made two pots of coffee—both of which simmered and burned before I enjoyed even a single cup. Down the drain I poured them. Such is the new chaos that rules in my home. While I tried to keep a stiff upper lip, I confess to failure in this regard and as Ella finally napped in her car seat on top of the kitchen table and Caleb absorbed himself in"Blue's Clues," I allowed myself a little wallow in tears of self-pity.

But I am heard, and I am not alone. This Truth, God reminded me of today. Up to my knees in laundry that, while clean, had grown to a monstrous pile of unfolded chaos; and jumping from said pile to fussy daughter in an attempt to both sooth her and actually accomplish something; a knock sounded at my door. I sighed, brushed my hair out of my face, and hoping that whoever it was forgave my appearance, I ran to answer. . .

Opening the door, I found an Angel. Truly. She came in the form of a friend of mine (who's name I'll leave unsaid as I have not asked her permission to relate this story), and in her hand she carried a venti cup of coffee from Starbucks. "To make up for the burned pots yesterday," she said with a smile. Hugging me tightly, she whirled, and was gone. And I was left standing on my doorstep, coffee in hand, and tears streaming down my face—given the gift of a renewed, refreshed faith.

Bathtime: A Study in the Progression of Emotion

Ella had her first "real" bath Sunday night.
The final connection to her life inside me—her umbilical cord—fell off Saturday night, and so Aaron and I pulled out the camera, and filled the tub. Ella has not been a fan of nakedness—who can blame the girl!?—and so I fully expected waterworks when her clothes came off. She surprised both of us and grinned delightedly for the camera. Waterworks commenced as her naked little self settled into the warm tub water. Not quite what she had expected I think. However, we finished the event with a cheerful demeanor once again. The result: a clean, and ever-so-delicious-smelling baby.

Under Brother's Watchful Eye

Caleb approves. Ella can stay.

I asked Caleb earlier this week what he thought about the idea of Ella's permanence in our lives, and he said: "She's my sister?" I nodded the affirmative. "I'm her brother," he concluded. And that settled it.

Caleb has taken to calling Ella "my baby" whenever asked about her, and if she happens to be within reach, laying an ever-so-gentle hand on her head.

I had feared, prior to Ella's arrival that Caleb would be jealous, and perhaps lash out at the new baby in frustration. Once again I underestimated him, for instead, he has embraced his role as big brother with far greater ease than I ever could have hoped. And while we will still muddle our way through sibling rivalry as the two of them grow, I can say with utter confidence that these two children of mine were meant to love, and grow, and experience life together—big brother and little sister. And what a gift that I get to be their mother . . .

Monday, March 23, 2009

Parking Lot Prayer

I remember thinking this when Caleb was a new baby, and now that I have added Ella to the armload, I am even more convinced that some serious alterations must be made to America's parking situation. . .

Would someone please explain to me, why there are ever-so-convenient parking places designated for those with physical disabilities, but none designated for mothers with young children?

Let me be the first to raise my hand and admit to my own severely-limiting and humbling disabilities. And talk to any new or experienced mom and you will learn the following: We are sleep-deprived to the point of delirium, and should probably not be driving in the first place; medicated with a variety of drugs (my personal list includes one to help the inner/southern workings of my digestive system continue functioning); we are leaking a variety of fluids from a variety of orifices; nearly deaf from the combination of high pitched wails from hungry newborns and the emotional screeching of a nap-needing toddlers; not to mention the simple physical limitations induced by an infant car-seat slung over one arm, and a toddler dragging his feet on the other.

Don't tell me I, nor others like me, are not handicapped and sorely in need of a little kind convenience!

And so, I confess that in place of The Serenity Prayer, I have occasionally whispered words somewhere along the following:

Dear God,
Grant me the grace and humility to give up this premiere parking place to that exhausted and similarly-handicapped mother and her van-load of children; and may the size-nothing, overly-blond, child-free teen who just took the last parking place in a three-block radius, trip over her ever-so-cute stiletto boots.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rocking . . .

Last night/ early this morning as I sat in Ella's nursery, rocking and rocking, and desperately hoping that the action would be sufficient enough to lull my daughter into slumber, it struck me that perhaps the action was more for my benefit than her's. And then of course my mind wandered and I started to wonder why the act of rocking was so elemental—so satisfying and comforting at a soul level.

How many times, and for how many different reasons have I rocked? In anguish I have rocked, my body swaying on its own accord when tears are not enough . . . to comfort my babies when they were tired, sad, hurt, or simply in need of moment with Mommy . . . I have rocked, dancing in the kitchen with my husband as our favorite song echoed in the floor boards beneath our feet . . . I have rocked in mirth as my body shook in laughter so hard that it was silent . . .

Did God rock on the day His children fell, and does He still? Did Eve rock, holding herself together as she looked back on the closed Garden Gate? Did she rock her babies on the other side of it? Did her daughters learn from her. . . and I from them? Do we sway out of habit or out of necessity? My husband rocks too, his body swaying as either Caleb or Ella are comforted in his arms, and so I know it is not strictly a thing of the feminine heart. Even now as I type this, (one-handed), I am swaying in my chair as Ella watches me from the crook of my left arm, nearly asleep. I know she too will rock.

Regardless of the purpose or the origins, the very act, this sway, makes me very human, and connects me tightly to those around me—in sorrow, to comfort, or in mirth. And that's kind of a nice thing to know—especially at 1am, when my daughter won't sleep—that someone else, somewhere, is rocking too. . .

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I haven't really cleaned my house in weeks. Seriously. It's a sad state of affairs. Besides wiping down the bathroom with bleach on occasion, managing a few loads of laundry, and trying to keep the clutter from taking over, I have pretty much let the house return to it's original state of glorious abandonment. . . I think it likes it.

I am a bit obsessive compulsive at times—most of those times existed before my children—and one of my tendencies was to keep everything clean. Very clean. For some reason it makes/made me feel a bit more in charge of my world (a fallacy, I know.)
Regardless, my point, is that try as I might, I cannot keep everything in my life in a manageable state, and keep the house clean. Fortunately, those who love me best and live with me, (Aaron, Caleb, and Ella), don't seem to mind the current state of things too much. In fact, Caleb seems to rather enjoy it.

Case in point: I was in the process of cleaning up this afternoon when Caleb began leaping around our sun-lit kitchen. Watching him laugh and dance, totally unaware of the sink full of dirty dishes, the pile of unwashed laundry, and the nasty food-etched floors, made me take a deep breath and cease my striving. Leaping into stray sunbeams, Caleb extended his hands into the light . . . catching dust. And nothing was more beautiful than all that gloriously-lit dirt.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Mathmatics of Nursing

The average week . . .

10 feedings/24hrs @ 3oz/feeding = 30oz/24hrs

30oz x 7 = 210oz in a week

128oz in a gallon.

1.641 gallons/week.

Holy. I'm a cow.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Beautiful Adjustments

One of the reasons I started this blog, was to keep my mind fresh-full of memories.

Yesterday, we (our little family of four) experienced a beautiful moment between Caleb and Ella—a first true "big brother" moment. He climbed up in my lap after I finished feeding Ella, and asked to hold her. More naturally than anything, he proceeded to wrap his little arms around her, kiss her, and whisper to her things that only he and Ella understood. Aaron, the hero behind the camera, caught it all in living color . . . and so I share it with you . . .

I am aware that this new role Caleb will be filling in Ella's life, will take a bit of time to adjust to. And yet, as a boy and eventually as a man, Caleb is so perfectly suited for the job. Even now, as just a little guy, I see evidence of the man God created him to be: caretaker, gentle but stronger companion, protector. What a gift that we are allowed to see just a few of these character traits develop as our son practices his role of manhood with his sister.

Again, we are blessed!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Daddy's Pictures

When it comes to photography, Aaron is a professional. (Seriously—it's what he does. . . www.redhousemedia.com)
That said, I am simply going to let these pictures speak for themselves. These are from the first day at the hospital.

I too am breathless.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Scene: Auntie Amber stops by for a quick minute. Caleb is still running around the house in his jammies, sans pants.

Auntie: "Good morning Caleb! How are you this morning?"
Caleb: "Hi!"

We all chat for a few minutes until interrupted by a very persistent Caleb.

Caleb: "Auntie! Auntie! Auntie! Auntie!"
Auntie: "Yes Caleb?"
Caleb: "Look!"
Auntie: "What do you have?"

Caleb holds up one small pointer finger for examination.

Caleb: "Look, Auntie. I have booger!"

Caleb proceeds to evade all attempts at booger removal and takes his small prize to the back recesses of his play tent for examination. Definitely a toddler moment.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Blogging Hour

The girls are awake. One of us more than the other . . .

Ella has taken to sleeping during the day and spending her nights quite wakeful—gazing around with wide eyes at her brand new world and entertaining her delirious mother with her antics. Fortunately, she is not crying. In fact, she is most content here with me, at 12:44am Thursday morning. She is lying across my lap staring at my face as I type this. Every once in a while she will look at me through half-lowered lids like she knows exactly the sway she holds over me.

She's right. I am won over.

Good grief, its a godless hour of the day and I have just redeemed it as my new blogging hour.

We can all thank Ella.

Big Brother . . .

Of all the anticipated and unanticipated adjustments that Aaron and I looked forward to upon Ella's entrance into our family, none has had quite the impact on our hearts as Caleb's transformation as the big brother—and his subsequent lack of desire to take on the role.

We knew this little girl would change all of our lives . . . but I guess there was a part of both Aaron and myself that failed to remember we were the only two people in this little family anticipating the change with great joy. Our son was, despite our best efforts to prepare him, rather unprepared for Ella's entrance into his world—and I am afraid he is finding said world rather rocked at the moment.

Caleb did marvelous at the hospital when he and Ella first met. He was so excited to see her! He had no qualms about climbing up in the hospital bed with me and cozying right in. He was even perceptive enough to speak only in whispered tones (for at least the first 8 minutes).

Fast forward to yesterday—our first full day home as a family of four. Caleb's good humor over Ella's presence in his life has gone the way of the birds, and mommy is no longer his favorite person.

This has been perhaps the hardest change for me—granted Ella has not been with us for more than a handful of days, but watching my little boy—my heart walking around in the world—struggle with his place in my heart nearly breaks me in two, and I confess that I have shed more tears on his behalf during the last couple days than I have for any other reason. And yet, as I told Aaron, rather than finding myself dividedly in love with my two children, I think I have instead expanded—something I did not know was possible.

And it is this knowledge, this new understanding of an expanded heart that gives me such hope and peace in Caleb's regard. He is two-and-a-half. Up to this point his entire world has been entirely about himself—and because he is such a perfect specimen of humanity in all it's fallenness and glory, it is no wonder that this "dethronement" has come as a bit of a shock. But remarkably, this change has only brought him one step closer to being prepared to meet his Heavenly Father. This is Caleb's first experience being removed from the center of the world—a shift that is necessary not only in physical life, but also in the spiritual. And I am confident that there will come a time (probably not too far off) when Caleb can no longer remember when Ella was not a part of his world. And for that, I have a feeling he will be a far better boy, and eventually a stronger man.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ella Marie . . . Birth Story

Ella Marie Hautala
7lbs 6.7oz
19.5 inches
Born Saturday, March 7, 10:53pm

At long last . . . my daughter is finally in my arms!

What a tremendous journey this has been. Nine months of pregnancy culminated in the arrival of such a tiny person—but with her comes such joy!

While I truly believe I have been laboring for the past several months (preterm labor, bed rest, weeks of contractions) the true and actual event began abruptly on Saturday afternoon, March 7th, at about 5pm. Saturday began as every other prior to it had, save that I had the delightful treat of my Mom's company for the day. We played with Caleb, caught up, and ended the afternoon with a nice long walk. The temps were fairly decent, and so with Caleb bundled up in the stroller, we walked to town, stopped at the post office, and on our way home stopped for coffee and a cookie at the local coffee shop.

Mom gifted Aaron and I with a night sans Caleb, and she took the little man back to the cabin with her, saying as she kissed me goodbye, "Well, now you are free to have this baby. I am here, Caleb is comfortable, and you and Aaron have the whole weekend."
She was right.

After she left, I took another walk, wistfully hoping it would get things going for real. I'd been having contractions pretty consistently for most of the day, but that wasn't really anything new . . . and I fully expected them to taper off shortly after I finished my walk. But this time, I was delightedly wrong. As I rounded my last lap around the park, the twinges I had been feeling were very quickly progressing to real pain, and while I was quite uncomfortable, the thought of real labor didn't actually register until I got home and began timing contractions—Aaron hovering nearby in the kitchen as I announced astonished through clenched teeth, "I'm in labor, praise the Lord!"

After calling my family and a few close friends who had long been praying for me, Aaron and I packed up the car and headed to the hospital. It wasn't until we were nearly ready to go, that I realized how painful and how close together my contractions were coming. "We need to go." I said to my already-rushing husband."We need to go now." And we did, making good time.

Labor with Caleb had been a marathon. Long, intensive, strenuous—23+ hours. Labor with this child was a sprint. Very intense, and pretty quick. By the time I was dressed in my hospital issued attire, hooked up to an iv, and not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of the anesthesiologist to administer an epidural, I was dilated to a 7—only three centimeters left to go! My room seemed full of nurses . . . every one was rushing about and all the standard baby-welcoming equipment quickly filled up my room.

Once my epidural was in place, I was finally able to relax and breathe at a normal rate—feeling came back into my hands and feet that were suffering from lack of oxygen, and both Aaron and I looked at one another in amazement. "This is going really fast!" I said astonished. He agreed.

By 10:15pm Saturday evening, I was ready and my doctor told me I could push at any time. I was shocked. "Really?" I asked. She nodded and so I got to work. Thirty minutes later, my beautiful, perfect daughter made her way into this world—and changed mine forever.

It only took one look at her and I was utterly in love. My doctor placed her on my chest and immediately her wails ceased and she looked up at me with wide eyes, listening as I crooned over her.

Everyone told me when I was pregnant with Caleb that having a baby changes everything. Of course. And Caleb's presence in my life has been the sweetest gift. His brilliant and intense personality daily lights up my world. And now, having a daughter has changed everything yet again. A dear friend of mine told me—somewhat prophetically I believe, looking back—that having this child would be healing for me. And now, even though she has been in my life only a mere three days, I can testify to that reality. Her mellow nature, her desire to be near me, the way she is drawn to the sound of my voice, that she has her Daddy utterly wrapped around her finger . . . for all of these reasons and the thousands more to come . . . this daughter, this child, is a gift beyond measure, and my heart is overwhelmed with thankfulness.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bubbles and Other Supposed Non-Indoor Activities

I am ready for spring. Seriously.

The temps soared yesterday to 43 degrees, and are promising to do the same again today, and I now have the itch to be out-of-doors . . . even stronger is the itch to get my son out-of-doors.

We are very quickly running out of activities/preoccupations/distractions. Minnesota winters are crazy-long without the addition of a red-headed toddler cooped up inside the walls of my home. He is beginning to bounce against said walls.

And so I have an ongoing list of outside-brought-inside activities that are keeping us busy. At least for the next two-maybe-three days . . . or until he tires of them . . . whichever happens first.

1. Bubbles.
Lots and lots of bubbles. I got short-winded and light-headed from blowing the bubbles from a wand and finally caved, picking up a "bubble gun" complete with 2 AA batteries guarenteed to last, um, maybe an hour or so, in Caleb's persistant hands. I think my kitchen floor has never been cleaner—nor more slippery. It's great incentive to wash the floors . . . just add water.

2. Trike.
Yes, our house is small, but the layout is a solid stream—one room to the next, front of the house all the way to the back. (Google "shotgun house" and you will get the picture). The setup is ideal for small boys to perfect their three-wheeled riding techniques.

3. Lawn Mower.
Fake. Small toy. Not too loud. The carpets have never been more nicely trimmed.

4. Tent.
Ikea is a godsend. Caleb now "camps" periodically in his little red Ikea tent, pitched in the corner of his playroom and gazes at the stars (from inside the tent). Daddy often accompanies him—long legs stretching out and beyond the tent's capacity to contain him. It's perfect.

Ideas considered and dismissed:
1. Swimming Pool
(for obvious reasons) I don't think the homeowner's insurance covers this sort of water damage.
2. Sidewalk chalk
Caleb is an amazing artist, but I am trying to teach him to respect his medium. Paper, not the table; paper, not the floor; paper, not your body, clothes, hair, mouth, or up your nose . . . I would hate to confuse him at this point.
3. Sand box
While we have almost enough dirt in the corners of the house to suffice for this, I am still a little rediscent to encourage the accumulation of any additional dirt.

Until the ice and snow melts . . . play on.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I am firmly convinced that life with a toddler sometimes resembles life with a schizophrenic. (Please do not mistake the reference to make light of mental health disorders—I am personally familiar enough with mental health issues to know that it's no laughing matter!) None the less, there are moments these days, as I wander the halls of the Terrible Twos, when I am truly amazed at my young son's ability to shift so quickly from one dramatic emotion to the next.

Case in point: Yesterday afternoon Caleb and I went from happily driving cars around the couch ottoman (otherwise known as our own local Radiator Springs), to utter meltdown and violence as cars were hurled about when one particular car ("Lightning McQueen" I believe), did not follow Caleb's instructions as explicitly as was expected. It's a pretty serious game—cars.

And yet, despite it all—the dramatic emotional shifts that rival my own pregnant hormones and cause me to wonder about the estrogen/testosterone levels in my son—despite it all, I am so quickly swept away by a single sincere smile, a tender hug, and even forced to stifle laughter over the terrible frustration that twists my little boy's face into a grimace of utter consternation (as seen above.)

And here I thought I was the emotional one!

This remains: I continue to thank my Heavenly Father for the variety Caleb brings to my daily life!

Monday, March 2, 2009


Mommy and Caleb,
February, 2008

I was browsing babycenter.com earlier this week, and I ran across a poll where a mom queried, "Do you kiss your children on the lips?" The question struck me as a little odd, only because I had never really thought there was another option. Of course I kiss Caleb on the lips, and his cheeks, and the dimples at his elbows—his knees when they are scraped or bruised, and almost anywhere else on his little person that needs to be mended or loved.

I grew up being kissed, and while now I pretty much reserve my lips for my husband and my son, kissing in general has always been a warm and welcome part of my life.

And so this morning, when I picked up a cup of Starbucks following another induction attempt at the gym, I read the quote on side of the cup, first thing, as I always do. And it resonated so clearly in my heart that I came home immediately to post it . . . So I would not forget.

"Do not kiss your children
so they will kiss you back
but so they will kiss their children,
and their children's children."
—Noah benShea

Amen Noah. Lips, knees, elbows, whatever. Kiss your children.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday Cupcakes

As much as I would like to, I really can't take credit for the inspiration behind this afternoon's baking excursion—all due credit goes to my sister: master baker, wonder woman, amazing mom—who sent me pictures this week of a similar excursion with her two little ones, my nephew and niece.

That said, Caleb found the kitchen to be his own source of inspiration in and of itself . . . and while cupcakes were the main priority, he also found time to "re-organize" my Tupperware cupboard, "wash" all the dirty dishes in the sink, and "sweep" the floor with the stuffed head of his hobby horse. Yes, he is multi-talented.

Perhaps most interestingly, I, in all of my 40-week pregnant glory was identified as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Flattered, I'm sure. Caleb paid me the kindness of pointing out said dough boy on the frosting packaging and remarking, "Mommy!" with a delighted expression. Imagine, finding mommy on a frosting package! (I am trying not to let it go to my head.)

Here's a sample of this afternoon's adventure—and a couple closing shots of the satisfied customer himself.