Restoration

I’m sitting alone in one of the chairs at the front of the fellowship hall where we had just finished Lo’s baby dedication and Pastor Kevin was speaking about Job. K was in Sunday school and J was with Lo at the nursery, feeding him the last of his bottle. My head was still groggy from the few hours of sleep I had pieced together the night before, sometime between 12-2am, 4-6am, and 7-9am. My head is starting to ache and my body is still tense from the whirlwind of activity that morning had brought us while trying frantically to get everyone ready for church without being late. But we were still late. Eight minutes late to be exact. We made it into the fellowship hall just FOUR minutes before we were called up for Lo’s dedication. And I was exhausted. I felt like I was looking out at everything through blurry eyes, my body felt heavy, and I was cranky. Just good old fashioned cranky. Great. I’m completely exhausted and there’s still the rest of the actual service to sit through.

(Kevin is starting to talk about people confusing life with God.)

I’m just so extremely tired. And not only am I tired, I’m unhappy and snappy. But to make matters worse(?), I don’t even feel a bit of righteousness in my unhappiness or snappiness because it’s all laced with feelings of failure and guilt.

(Kevin says God is not this life but He is WITH us in this life. I am not alone. He’s wrapping up. The worship team is singing now.
“It is well. With my soul. It is well, it is well, with my soul.”)

I suddenly remember the picture I took earlier on in the week (this one posted below). A snapshot of failure and guilt all in one. K had just come home from pre-school and was also a little under the weather. I needed to give her lunch and a nap but Lo was flipping out because he too was hungry and tired. “Way to go Jeannie. That’s some great parenting you’ve got going on.” I hurriedly turned on the TV for K and gave her a cup of yogurt to snack on.
“Mommy needs to feed Logan. I’ll be right back. Just eat your yogurt and wait right here. Then we’ll have lunch together ok? Yes, mommy?“ K repeated dutifully, “Yes, mommy.” and I dashed up the stairs. After feeding and putting Lo down, I rush back down the stairs to this scene. This picture. My failure in a snapshot. She had fallen asleep on her chair, yogurt half-eaten, with Princess Sofia chattering away in the background. Coughing and alone, waiting for me to come get her. No lunch. No cuddles before nap time to make her feel better about her small cold. I suck. I suck I suck I suck.

People say they bond with their babies while breastfeeding. My mind is either constantly on other things while breastfeeding, like what the heck is K doing in her room alone with that stool?! or I’m fighting dozing off from all the sleep deprivation. So Lo isn’t getting a lot of love and attention through that at all. It’s just another chore sometimes. Something to check off on the list of a million things I feel like need to get accomplished within the day while actually accomplishing only four of those things. Then when K needs me, I’m busy tending to Lo, making sure he’s fed and napping on time, making her wait for me alone. I’m losing on all fronts. His needs, her needs, my needs… I throw my hands up.

(A new song has started. “You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things, out of dust. You make beautiful things, you make beautiful things, out of us.”)

The words to the next song draw me out of my thoughts and I look up to read the lyrics. As I’m listening to the words, something inside my heart starts to swell. The snapshot of my guilt fades away and I begin to remember images of the other day when K and I were jumping on my bed like crazy, and she’s giggling so hard that she farts. Then I remember Lo’s face while I’m twirling him around in the kitchen. He throws his head back and laughs. I can see two more teeth peeking out from under his gums.

(“All around, hope is springing up from this old ground. Out of chaos, life is being found in you.”)

The song continues and so do the images. K crying. Me consoling her. Kissing her tears away. Trying to exhibit patience and endurance. Making efforts to teach her that it’s okay to be sad and angry but to not dwell in it. Then I see Lo’s intense gaze at my face while I’m singing to him. His hand reaches up to my lips and I kiss them and he sighs and grins.

(“You make me new. You are making me new. You make me new. You are making me new.”)

My eyes are engulfed in tears now. I’m trying so hard to hold the flood back. And in that moment, I knew it. God was speaking to me. He was addressing all the negative feelings I had been carrying around with me during the week. The feelings of ineptitude. Of helplessness. Of crabbiness. Of bitterness. Of shame and guilt. And I could only have heard it so clearly because all my guards were down. All my emotions were ready at the surface. Tired, weary, defenseless. Because Lo was up the night before at 11:30, from 2-4, at 6… and there was no room in me for pretense. And God used it. (He is with me. I am not alone.)

I’m not who I used to be anymore. I can’t be. I won’t ever be again. I’m being broken down completely, sometimes on a daily basis. It totally hurts. I feel the pain mentally, emotionally, and physically. And it’s all because I’m being built again. As a mother. A wife who is a mother. A woman who is a wife and mother… of two at two and under. It’s an ever continuing process of change acclimating to change. And out of it, there is beauty. I am being made new. And it is well. It is well with my soul.

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Marriage first

“Sometimes I think that all you want from me is to be the perfect babysitter. That’s it. Nothing else. Nothing about our relationship or you and me.”

These are the words that stopped me cold as my husband was driving us to the mall one weekend.  We had just had another big argument the previous day and while I thought we had moved on from it, my husband was still apparently dealing with the aftermath.  He had been quiet, sullen, short, and pretty much dead-pan since the previous day but I just dismissed it as sulking behavior and moved forward because toddlers, like K, don’t wait for their parents to gain closure. Ain’t no one got time for that and surely not the energy. So once enough time had passed after the argument I had mistakenly thought we had moved on from it. Surely, my mind had. But my husband was still back there, dealing with his feelings and I was too exhausted and focused on the now to care. Until he said those words. Because… it was the truth. And he was hurt.

I think at some point, while first time mommying a toddler and pregnant with my second, I became all consumed with parenthood.  I think it’s especially hard for me because I’m a stay at home mom and there’s no clock to punch out or leave. It’s a constant 24/7, 365/6 days a year beast that can swallow you whole if you aren’t on your toes, alert, and agiley juggling all the different balls representing the rest of your life. And what happened was, I couldn’t keep up. I was tired and said to myself, “You can’t do it all. Let things go that aren’t that important.” So I slowly started putting things down. It first started with easy stuff like showers, make-up, clothes… Then things like food, social activities… And finally without realizing it, I put down working on having a good and intimate relationship with my husband.

He said, “I could handle being third when K got here. I expected it and that’s fine.  But to not even be on the list…”

Ouch. Becuse that’s true too. After putting K as the top priority above all else in my life, I put myself next. Hey, a gal has to survive right?  And I thought I had kept my husband third and was doing a good job checking in with him here and there, but to be completely bare faced honest, by the time I was done putting her down for the night, I just wanted to sit and rest. Take care of myself. Restore. Reset. And there was nothing left for my husband.

When he comes home from working, at least, a ten hour day, I practically throw K into his arms and rush to make or eat dinner.  I want to live too!  He doesn’t complain. He just puts his lunch box down, takes off his shoes and on cue, takes over with K. But even when I know he’s watching her, I can’t seem to completely disconnect myself and clock out of the job for a bit.  One ear is always listening, or it can’t help but hear. And I’m thinking thoughts in my head like, “She’s called him four times, why isn’t he answering her?” , “She’s saying ‘water!’ Give her the dang water!” , “OMG he’s so slow. She’s going to lose it soon.” , “Did he wash her hands yet?”  And so forth. When I bring these things, and many more, to his attention, he, for the most part, will comply with my “requests” to “parent better.” He’s actually a great dad. Very involved. Takes her out on his own for father daughter time, does her hair in the mornings, teaches her new things, and gives every single bath at night followed by blow drying and singing.

He said, “You know, some people think that it should all be about their kids and the marriage comes second, but I’m the opposite. I believe the marriage should come first, before the kids.”

This one really stung because I actually have always said I believed this too. That the very best gift I could give my children was to love their father, in a way that they could witness or even emulate, and provide a happy, healthy home.  … but I put that ball down. Not consciously, not intentionally, but I did. And I felt so sorry to my husband.  I just was focused on wanting his help.  Help keeping my head above the water. I didn’t realize that he wasn’t getting much from me. Or maybe I did and I rationalized it away by minimalizing his situation. He’s not the one home all day trying to raise a healthy and decent human being. He’s not the one running around after a toddler all day with a giant pregnant belly. He gets to pee alone. He gets to drive in a car without singing “The Wheels on the Bus” twenty times over just to avoid a freeway meltdown. He can eat warm food. Heck, he can eat!  He got a shower today. He gets adult interaction and conversation at work!  And so, he gets to be third at home. Nevermind that none of that stuff equates to… a wife.

This holiday season I’m so thankful for my husband who after almost twelve years of marriage, seventeen years of companionship, stopped me and told me that having a deep and meaningful relationship with me is his priority over everything else.  Regardless of my hair, my shower, my overtired attitude… He still wants me. Not just as his daughter’s mom (who he acknowledges is doing a fantastic job) but first and foremost, as his woman. His lifemate.  I’m thankful that even though I put down his ball after pretending it was even in third place, he’s always kept me and my ball first.

I have no idea how I’m doing now but I’ve started making a conscious effort towards him.  To touch him affectionately more. To listen about his day more. To try and enjoy a TV show with him after K is down.  These little things are the small steps I’m taking to reintroduce our marriage to my busy list of things I’ve created for raising K and surviving it. Lol. Because really, nothing horrific will happen if I give her store bought meatballs versus homemade ones, but something absolutely wonderful might happen when K sees me and her dad laughing together, arms around each other, on a regular basis. So I’ve recommitted myself to putting my marriage first, over parenting, and that ultimately puts everyone in the same place.

Learning to love myself so that I can love her.

I just don’t want her to grow up feeling rejection.  I don’t want her to feel unwanted or unloved.  So I hover. I helicopter.  At 19mths, I helicopter over her at the park or indoor play places even though I know in my head that she needs to learn independence.  I tell her to say, “Bye” right away as she approaches other children to say “Hi” and I urge her to move on. I feel pain when I hear older children tell her, “Go away baby!” or “No! This is not for babies!” I’ve seen them glare at her, take something from her hands, and sometimes even push her.  On the outside I’m cool and calm.  I tell her, “That’s ok, let’s see what else there is to play with.” or sometimes I’ll intervene and say, “Please be nice and share.” But inevitably I’ll want K to walk away from the situation.

Not all children react this way to K.  Some don’t care that she’s playing alongside them or watching them. Some actually smile and say “Hi” back.  But I try not to let her linger too long if the other child doesn’t seem interested in her because I just don’t want to see her getting hurt. Outcast.

Nobody likes rejection.  We all fear and dread it.  Some of us wear a tougher shell and act like it doesn’t matter but in reality, deep down, it does sting a little, if not downright hurts.

My mom used to tell me that I was fat and disgusting.  She told me I would never get married because of the way I look.  She said I was dumb, lazy, and slow.  That I didn’t know how to get what I need in life to survive.  I asked her if she even loved me. She said she was telling me these things because she’s my mother and nobody else would speak the truth to me like she would. She said this too comes from love.

As an adult, I realize now that she lacked real love in her life to think that what she demonstrated to me was love.  Nobody told her it was okay to be happy with what you’re given in life and that being happy with your life didn’t mean you were dumb, lazy, and slow.  Nobody told her that she didn’t have to look a certain way to be worthy of love and attention. Nobody told her that making your daughter feel small and alone wasn’t love. And because nobody told her… nobody told me.  Of course I’ve figured it out since then…in my mind…but I’m now faced with the realization that my heart must not have been convinced.

“She’s cute, but she’s not pretty.”

“Her height is 46th percentile but her weight is 87th.  She’s going to be short and fat like me.”

“She has no neck.  She’s just a giant head on a body.”

“Geez, all she wants is to eat rice all day!”

“Don’t give her too much sugar.  Or carbs. Or high sodium food.  She has my metabolism.”

These are just some of the things I’m guilty of saying aloud to my husband about K, with K sitting right in front of me. And my husband, who will usually understand where my insecurities are coming from and just reply, “She’s fine.” finally turned to me one day and said sternly, “You better not say that stuff when she’s old enough to understand what you’re saying.” And my face turned red.  Shame and embarrassment, mingled with slight defensiveness.

There’s a saying that you dislike traits in other people that you dislike about yourself.  I realize now that the things that pop out at me about K are things that I dislike about myself. The feeling that if someone in society rejects me, it hurts because I believe that their rejection of me is due to my own shortcoming or failing as a person.  I should be able to teach K about this, but instead, I make her leave and avoid before such an opportunity can occur.  I make her think they are justified in their reasoning to reject her instead of just saying, “Hey, it’s not you, it’s them. There are people in this world who will like you and others who won’t. That’s ok and perfectly normal.  You’ll feel the same way towards others too.  But it’s not a reflection on your value as a person, nor theirs. You are always valuable, as are they, and everyone has their own mind so we let them exercise their will without letting it affect our souls.” ….well… something of that nature in toddler speak.

So nobody taught my mom. And nobody taught me. And now it looks like nobody is teaching K.  Teaching her to love and accept herself.  And this, I now know, is because there are parts of me that still doesn’t, can’t, love and accept me.  It’s time for me to learn to love me so that I can love her better.  I don’t want the voice in her head to be the voice I heard growing up.

Let me be affirming. Let me be encouraging. Let me be warm. Let me be brave. Let me be love.

I am a good mom

Some random day: K and I are out running errands for the day.  I need to go to the grocery store and also stop by Target.  I don’t want it to be too mundane for K so I first stop by a shopping mall where pigeons gather in their outdoor mall area.  I let her stalk and chase pigeons for awhile.  She giggles, she screams, she runs away, she runs back, she stealthily creeps… This was a good idea.  She’s so sweet.  I love my playful active daughter. 😍

When I think she’s used up enough of her energy , I load her back into the car and head to the grocery store.  She doesn’t want to sit in the cart.  She wants to walk.  I compromise by letting her stand in the back.  Usually that works… usually.  She whines. Then she cries.  She wants me to carry her. People start glancing over to see what the commotion is about.  I give in and I pick her up. I push the rickety cart that keeps veering right with my left hand and I carry my 25lb daughter in my right arm, over my pregnant 16week belly bump.  This lasts for as long as it took me to get down half an aisle because suddenly she’s squirming, trying to reach for a package of tofu.  “Ugh! She’s so heavy. No. I’m just weak.” I let her down because let’s face it, there’s no way I’m winning that fight AND picking up what I need off my list.  I hope she’s cooperative.  I start walking a few steps in hopes that she will follow behind.  I turn and look to see her turn the corner in a mad dash with two packages of tofu in her arms.  The chase ensues.  I abandon my cart, along with my diaper bag that has my keys, wallet and phone, and grab her.  “Forget this, you’re going back in the cart.” I put her back in the cart and 3…2…1… Cries.  I rush through two aisles, hurriedly dump in the items I can remember off my list because I didn’t have the time to refer to it, and ran to the check out line.  All the while, eyes staring at me.  Judgemental eyes. Curious eyes. Annoyed eyes.  Eyes every where.

On the drive home, I realize she’s fallen asleep.  I breathe a sigh of relief and plan out my next move.  Originally, in a state of panic, I was going to abandon the Target errand and go straight home. But now, she’s sleeping.  Maybe she was just being difficult because she was tired.  Maybe I overdid it at the shopping mall with the pigeons.  Maybe I’ll just park at the Target, wait for her to wake up naturally, feeling refreshed, and I can quickly complete my Target errand with a nicer, more pleasant K.  I’ll use the stroller this time and she’ll be more comfortable sitting in it. Yes, this should work.

Fast forward to the toy aisle at Target.  She’s fallen flat on her face, now three times, because the plastic toy shopping cart has a handle that folds down and every time K tries to push the cart, it folds and she falls.  I brought her stroller but she doesn’t want to sit in it and she doesn’t want to push it.  She wants to push this un-pushable pink plastic cheap toy cart from the fake food section and she keeps landing face forward, prone, flat on her stomach.  I just need two items from the aisle on the other side of the store, and I can’t get her to leave this damned cart! I’m tired, my back hurts, and I have a headache.  I just want to get what I came for and go, but like an idiot, I thought I’d be nice and let her out to walk through the toy aisles.  Now I’m paying for it.

Thoughts in my head…

Am I dumb?  Are bad decisions just part of my new lifestyle as a first time mom? What the F was I thinking? Why didn’t I learn my lesson at the grocery store?  Why did I think she was going to be fine at Target when our most recent handful of trips to Target have been so difficult? Why the heck do I keep returning to Target every other day?! (I love Target.  This is my downfall.  But I can’t quit Target. Sigh.) Am I not keeping her busy and active enough?  Am I just being a lazy parent by filling my days with random errands?  Does she need more play time?  Classes? Socialization?  I just am completely sucking right now, as evidenced by my offspring.

I make a split second decision while K is temporarily distracted.  I’m going to be firm.  I pick up the toy cart, put it somewhere high on a shelf and turn around to see her catch me.  She says she wants it back. I say no.  We are done playing. We need to go.  She starts to whine, then louder, cries, tears… Oh Lord.  I pick her up before we get to the screams.  She’s not going to follow me on her own, that’s for sure.  So I go to place her in her stroller and her body goes stiff. She actually bows her body outward and starts crying even louder. I’m in distress.  I’m that mom that brought her ill mannered child out in public, then watched as said child fell flat three times before, now, forcibly folding said child into a stroller as she kicks and screams.  I’m so done.  I can’t even… No.  That’s it.  Forget what I came for. We are leaving it all. Hell no.  Your dad better not be late today.

Some days later: I decide to take K to the park.  She loves to run around and explore.  Best place is at the park.  As she’s playing, an older child, I’m guessing 2 or 3 years old starts to run to every play structure he predicts K will toddle to and once she arrives, he pretends to be already playing there and swats her hand away.  I’m getting annoyed and I say, “Please play nicely.” His mom hears me and turns her head just in time to see her son push off K from the play mushroom.  She quickly walks over and tells him to be nice to the baby.  She explains that K is smaller and he needs to be gentle.  She explains that they can both play.  K loses interest and walks up the play gym.  He runs after her.  She starts playing with some wind chimes and he pushes her off and plays with them vigorously.  His mom swoops in and once again tells him he needs to play nicely and to share. She’s using a low, patient voice. He’s busy with the heavy bashing of the wind chimes.

I can tell that this mom knows her son is being a brat.  I can tell that she feels bad but not comfortable enough to address me or K directly.  I can see that she’s trying.  I hear her trying to teach him with desperate hopes that he will learn.  I can tell she’s embarrassed but doesn’t want to cause a scene.  I say, “It’s okay. She’s fine.”, then quickly run after K who once again has lost interest and is now attempting a giant slide.

At home, I thought about the mom in the park and her probably wonderful son who was acting like an ass that day.  I regretted not telling her that she was doing a good job. That I’ve been in the same boat and I can totally understand. That I sympathize. That I know toddlers are hard.  That we all do our best and it’s okay that we can’t control the results of all our best efforts.  I regretted not saying to her that I could tell she was a good person. A good mom.

As I got ready for bed that night I looked at myself in the mirror. Pregnant with a toddler in the house. Tired. I look old and worn. More sun spots and wrinkles on my face. My body feels stiff, sore, and heavy.  I looked myself straight in the eyeballs and said out loud, “You are doing a good job.  I can tell you are a good person and a good mom.  You’re doing your best and that’s good enough. You are good enough.  I forgive you.”

Then I finally forgave myself for the mistakes of the past week and went to sleep telling myself that I am a good mom.

 

Veggie Pasta Sauce

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Still on my mission to sneak more fiber into K’s diet through vegetables, I decided to make a pasta sauce with loads of them hidden in it.  It was pretty easy to make and tastes good too.  Here’s how I made it, in case anyone else is on the same mission. 😉

Ingredients:

1 small butternut squash

2 zucchini

2 yellow squash

2 carrots

2 stalks of celery

1 small white onion

2 cans (28oz each) crushed tomatoes

2 cups water (or broth)

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp Kosher salt

 

Directions:

1. Chop up all the vegetables except the butternut squash.  Make sure you chop them small and thin so they cook easily. For the butternut squash, use a grater and grate.

2. In a pan large enough to hold all your vegetables, add a bit of olive oil and the oregano.  Throw in your vegetables and sautee until they brown a little.

3. Add the crushed tomatoes, water, bay leaves and salt.   (I happened to have bone broth in my freezer so I thawed it last night and used that.) Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until your vegetables soften up.  Stir occasionally.

4. If you have a stick blender (immersion blender) you can blend in the pot directly but I don’t, so after my vegetables softened, I fished out the bay leaves and in batches, I pureed the contents of the pot in my food processor.

Once cooled, I bagged the sauce in freezer safe zipper bags, in 1 cup portions.  Freezing flat helps thawing go quickly when it comes time so keep that in mind! I froze some and the rest I divided into canning jars for a few of my mommy friends.

You can use this sauce like regular tomato sauce you buy for your spaghetti in stores.  I used them for meatballs tonight (for the hubby) and tomorrow I plan on using them for K’s mini ravioli. Hope this recipe helps! Enjoy!

 

On being a mommy…

Two weeks ago I took a pregnancy test and it turned out to be positive. Half in disbelief (although I don’t really know why because the husband and I have been “trying”) I drove myself to Target and bought a different type of pregnancy test. At home I peed on it and ta-da!, PREGNANT, is what it said, leaving room for little doubt. Two positive tests. I called my OB and made an appointment. I pondered a lot about how I would tell my husband and decided to just leave the two tests out on his side of the sink for him to find when he came home from work. When he got home from work that night, I waited silently as he said he’d be right back after washing up. I heard him climb the stairs and turn on the shower. Silence. Then out of nowhere, I heard thundering footsteps down the stairs. He appeared, half undressed, and literally tackled me to the ground in a great big bear hug. K started crying because she doesn’t like it when we hug for too long without her. She walked over and broke us up. All was good.

Today is Mother’s Day. Yesterday, I told my mom I was pregnant and wished her a happy Mother’s Day. This morning I woke up to cramping and bleeding. Having had a miscarriage before, I instantly started to worry. Then K stuck her hand in my mouth and I was sidetracked trying to keep my gums intact. J wasn’t home this morning when I woke up because he had left early to tend to some work. He would be home soon and I started to worry about how to tell him; I didn’t know what to tell him. I took K downstairs and started Googling about bleeding in the first trimester. I felt my heart beat faster and tears start to well up in my eyes. Then, right before my vision blurred, K stuck her book about animals into my hands, climbed into my lap, opened it to the page with the dog and started to bark. A smile came out of somewhere deep in my heart and I started barking along with her.

All day today, I wanted to curl up into a ball and be sad. All day today, K just wanted to be K: cute, sassy, frustrating, smart, adorable, annoying, hilarious. Every time I wanted to cry, K was right next to me, distracting me with her antics. She was more clingy today, whining each time I tried to put her down and it made me wonder…

“Does her heart know I need to be held today?”

As I write this, I’m still bleeding. It’s not heavy but it’s steady. The cramps come and go. I have a slight back ache. I know that if a miscarriage is going to happen, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I know that the first time I had a miscarriage, before K was born, I was a wreck for days. I know now that I’m a different person. Don’t get me wrong. I will definitely grieve the loss IF it is a miscarriage. But I’m stronger now. I can laugh through it. I can bark like a dog through it. I can heft my 22lb daughter up and down the stairs through it. I can feed her, change her, and even sing with her through it. Through the bleeding. All because this tiny person has a huge heart that just knows; her mommy needed to be held today. She has given me the courage to see beyond the fear. And I know that I am forever indebted to her.

I guess this is what happens when you become someone’s mommy. You walk through a ring of fire, birthing your little miracle, and you come out the other end, like clay, stronger, more refined, shaped, and beautiful.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful mommies out there who are being held by their beautiful miracles. We have been blessed and our lives forever changed.

Thank you K, for making me a mommy.

Do as I say!…not as I do…

So you know how we follow our babies around, stopping them from sticking random things they find on the ground into their mouths? Like K will seriously pick up the teeniest speck of lint and put it into her mouth. Or she’ll open our container of wipes and stick it in her mouth. I’m constantly following her with, “No, that’s not for eating,” or “Give that to mommy,” and so forth. Basically, “Stop picking stuff up off the floor and trying to eat it!”

These days K has been a handful. She’s so insistent on being independent. Like I will be feeding her and she will insist on holding the fork herself. So I fork her food and hand it to her. That already can be scary depending on what the food is. Yesterday, it was vegetable lasagna. And yesterday was when she decided that she should be able to fork food herself. Too messy right? Well apparently, she didn’t get that memo. I said, “No, mommy will do it for you,” especially because we were at a mall food court and the last thing I needed was to look like a food tsunami had hit just our booth. But K was adamant. She actually began taking the food off her fork with her fingers, only to try and put it back onto the prongs, before clumsily guiding it to her mouth. Then when she wanted more, she’d grab my arm or shirt with her tomato sauced little fingers and pull and whine until I gave her more.

As you can imagine, yesterday was a long hard day. I mention this because I needed to explain why at 10:30pm last night, I made my way into the freezer and took out a caramel centered Crunch bar Drumstick. After everyone else was asleep, I unwrapped my ice cream cone and slowly walked up the stairs happily munching away. Drumsticks are so good but can get messy, especially if the chocolate dipped top cracks or the nuts fall off. Luckily, Crunch bar Drumsticks come without nuts so I felt safe and happy. My first moment in the whole day of leisurely eating something. Ah… the peace I felt last night…. sigh~

Today K suddenly grabbed my shoulders and started to push. You know, the whole red faced, grunting, tears almost welling scene that we’ve all become familiar with. I asked her, “K, are you pooping?” She replied with a grunt and when she was done, I threw her over my shoulder and started up the stairs to her changing table. Halfway up the stairs, I noticed that there were chunks of broken chocolate pieces laying on one of the steps. Whoops! I must have let those fall last night. I didn’t want it getting stepped on and rubbed into the carpet so with poopy K in one arm, I stooped over and began picking up the pieces, sticking them into my mouth. I had just finished picking up the last piece when I realized the ominous silence. I look up to see that K had turned her head and was watching the whole thing with hawk eyes. I quickly shifted her and began signing loudly in efforts to distract while I finished going up the stairs to change her diaper. We sang together as we finished up and I was pretty sure she wasn’t thinking about what she saw anymore. Downstairs, feeling safe, I put her down on the carpet and told her to go play. She walked over to her little plastic baggie filled with baked Snapeas and proceeded to dump its contents onto the carpet. She looked up at me, smiled, did her kimchi squat over the Snapeas and began eating them one by one off the carpet. I couldn’t even say “No” to her and she knew it.

Today is going to be another long hard day.

Korean Egg Roll Up

 

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One way I get veggies into K’s diet is by cooking them into an egg.  Koreans call the following dish, an “egg roll up”. It’s similar to an omelette or frittata, the only difference being that it’s folded, or “rolled” during the cooking process so it comes out looking like a big rectangular bar.  Below is my recipe for a Spinach Tomato Parmesan Egg Roll Up.

Ingredients:

3-4 oz frozen spinach (I buy frozen spinach that I thaw and rough chop.  Then I divide them into our Mumi&Bubi puree holders, which makes 1oz cubes, and freeze)

Grape tomatoes (as many as you’d like; I used five)

2 large eggs

1/2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Small pinch of salt

 

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, thaw the spinach in your microwave on high for 1 minute.  Mix up your spinach with the cheese and salt.

2. Break eggs into a separate bowl and wisk together with a fork until well blended.  Pour eggs into the spinach bowl. Mix well.

3. Cut your tomatoes into halves and add them to the spinach/egg bowl. Mix.

4. Turn on stove to medium heat. In a small pan (ours is a little bigger than the size of my hand) add enough olive oil to thinly cover the entire bottom of the pan.

5. Once the pan is hot, pour the spinach/egg mix all at once into the pan, covering the entire bottom.

6. Once you see the top of the egg starting to set, turn the heat down a little and start the folding process.  Start from one end and gradually fold.

7. When you’ve finished folding, cover the pan for about 2 minutes to make sure the inside is cooked.  After you remove the egg from the pan, let it sit and set before you slice into it.

8. Once cooled, slice into small bars down the length of the roll.  This makes it easy for small hands to pick up and eat.

* Traditionally Egg Roll Ups are served with ketchup but I give it to K plain and she’s none the wiser.

Happy first birthday to me

K turned one today and yesterday we had a giant Korean style hooplah with all the bells and whistles, surrounded by family and friends to celebrate her life.  Now it’s my turn.  Because guess what?  This day commemorates the day that I gave birth, one year ago. Of course, I could go on, extolling about my profound yet simple love for my daughter, but I do that a lot on any given day anyway so… today, I want to say to me… Good job, Jeannie.  You made it.

Good job, Jeannie…

For making it through two weeks of early contractions, three days laboring in the hospital, and an emergency c-section to keeping it together while K was in the NICU.

For making it to two months of breastfeeding through excruciating pain due to Thrush and knowing when to let it go, guilt free, because you saw postpartum depression lurking and decided cutting losses doesn’t mean cutting love.

For making it through poopsplosions, although it’s probably not over yet.

For making it through two bouts of high fever illnesses with K, one with terrifying vomiting and Old Faithful style diarrheas.  Honorable mention to the hand foot mouth week which K promptly shared with her daddy.

For making it through car rides filled with screams, cries, and tears.  Don’t forget the many hours added up in random parking lots, waiting for K to wake up because you NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY.

For learning to eat alone.  To eat under five minutes.  To eat with one arm holding or fending off a hangry baby.  To eat only a third of your food and be able to walk away from it. To eat cold food, after you eated it (30 minutes ago). To eat last in turn to everyone in the house.

For learning to make baby puree yourself, at home, but not being afraid to buy generic store brand frozen food for K too, because life is about compromising… just not your sanity.

For being okay with co-sleeping and not sleep training, even though before K was born you thought that’s what you would do, but hey… when will you ever sleep with her sweaty head under your armpit if not now? Treasure the moments.

For realizing that TV is not the devil and that it can actually save your life.

For learning to use the potty with a baby strapped onto your body.

For still loving yourself, even after you can’t remember anymore how many days you had gone without a shower.

For remembering to have sex with your husband, especially the first time after you had K because let’s face it… that’s scary.

For sticking to only speaking to K in Korean becauase your monolingual husband insists that K grow up bilingual.

For branching out to make mommy friends and doing the thing called “playdates”.

For cooking, cleaning (sort of), and managing a household while a 20lb person is apparently super glued to your side, resulting in a more muscular right arm, than left.

For raising a smart, strong, affectionate, healthy child.

For remembering to thank your husband for making it possible to be a stay at home mom and not making yourself a martyr and the end of the day because you remembered that you chose this.

For restraining yourself from punching your husband and child on various and numerous occasions.

For all these things and more in the last year, good job Jeannie.  You did good.  You rock.  You are awesome.  Happy birthday girl and high five.

An open letter to my angel baby

I never talked about you to anyone.  Not even really to your dad.  It’s just the way I am.  I think it was easier for me not to even think about you… to bury you away in my mind and not look.  But as I’ve been preparing for your sister’s upcoming birthday, you are ever present in my thoughts.  So now, I want to talk to you…  I have something to say…

When you were six weeks old in my womb, I first heard your heart beat.  Your dad wasn’t there to hear it so I was excited to bring him to meet you at our next visit.  It was at that next visit, while excitedly holding your dad’s hand in anticipation of his reaction, at ten weeks, I learned that your heart wasn’t beating anymore.  I cried a lot.  During the four weeks in between when I first heard your heartbeats and when I learned you were gone, your dad and I had given you a nickname.  We had hopes for what our lives would be once you were born.  We were excited and you were immediately loved.  I just want you to know that your dad was very regretful that we didn’t give you a burial. I told him that it was okay, since you were already in heaven anyway.  He is a very sweet man.  I’m sure you know that.

A few months after your departure, we found out that we were pregnant with your little sister, K. She came out of me with a head full of light brown hair and plump squishy cheeks.  She sleeps really well and cries very little.  She loves to dance whenever she hears a beat and eats like a bear.  When she cracks up, she throws her head back and snorts sometimes.  She has nearly eight teeth and crazy crazy hair.  She loves Daniel the Tiger, mommy and daddy.  I’m hoping it’s not in that order but sometimes it’s a toss up.  She’s smart.  She’s got a little bit of an attitude but is a sweet baby who loves affection.  Her love has healed so many parts of me…

My sweet angel baby, I know that the only reason we could have her today is because you are not here. I know that she is not my accomplishment, just like I know that you are not my failure.  She is a gift. Thank you.  I know that the best way to honor you… to honor our time together… is to love the crap out of your sister.  And I do.  We do.  We give her lots of snuggles and kiss her many, many times throughout the day.  We tell her we love her and sing to her, dance with her, laugh with her, eat with her, sleep with her… And I do just a little extra snuggles, kisses, and I love yous… just in case you can feel them too.

K turns one in less than a month.  We made it.  Our first year together.  I wanted you to know… I needed you to know… she is healthy, pretty happy as far as I can tell, and deeply loved.  Your time with me was not in vain, nor was your leaving.  You were not in vain.   I loved my first year with K.  Thank you again, so much, for your sister.

They say that a woman’s heart is divided into rooms where she keeps things she loves in each one.  They say that whatever gets placed in that room stays there forever.  When I heard your heart beat and saw your blobby form, I instantly put you into one of my rooms.  You will always remain there, in the deepest part of me… touching my soul.