Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Don't Stop

My morning started out with me still being half deaf. (For real. I still cannot hear out of my right ear right now from being sick. That sucker will not clear out.) All of the kids crawled into bed with me and stuck their cold feet onto my bare skin at different points. Then, Willis, from the kids' bathroom, said, "Well, Jenny, I hope you didn't like your makeup."

When I asked him to, kindly (or maybe not), further explain, he said something like, "Everett just wanted his lizard to have a desert."

I popped out of bed to find a pretty epic mess (involving a toy lizard and my powdered makeup) that took probably 35 minutes to clean up. Also, Everett used my green concealer stick to make a faux hawk on his own head. He was particularly proud of that, and I guess he should have been. It was well done. It took about four washes with soap in the bath tub before I just gave up on getting it out of his hair.

It's mornings like this that I wish I could see the hilarity of it at the moment that it is happening, but I'm just not that cool. I usually calm down while we wait for the bus in the car at the bus stop, but we were running so late (and the kids were so absolutely insane), that the calm just didn't come.

After the boys and I got back to the house, and after Henry wore me down about how much he is STARVING (we seriously just had breakfast that involved scrambled eggs, people), I ended up giving him a Pop Tart. While I was transferring said Pop Tart from the toaster to the table, I heard Henry singing the beginning of this song (he's like a happy, chirping bird when he knows he's about to eat again).

And, that's about when the calm came. And, I finally laughed.

So . . . let's do this day. I've got stuff to do.

Also, I have to go buy some more cheap makeup. (BTW, this is why I don't buy expensive makeup or shampoo or, well, anything.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

That One Guy

Ten years ago, November 1st, Willis planted a smooch on me in the kitchen of my college apartment on Wood Street in West Lafayette and promptly walked out the back door. Prior to that moment, I knew he was someone I always wanted near me, but I remember the way my mind (and heart) raced when I realized he liked me just the way I had hoped.

What ensued after that was just bliss. Mostly. Well, there were some sub-par days. After we were engaged in July of 2004, I hated not knowing where my life was headed (career-wise). I graduated that August, and Willis was still in school for another year. I had a really awful job situation that year, and it was really hard. (In fact, I freaked Willis out pretty badly when I walked out of that first job near the holidays.) We planned a wedding on a tiny budget. I think some of my family was still in shock at our "short" dating prior to engagement period (eight months, if you were counting), and we could sense that.

Then, the wedding day came. It rained. I wrecked my car (totaled it, even, which sounds more horrific than it was. My car was not worth much). I fell down some stairs (before the wedding—my shoes were wet). The hotel lost our room reservation. But . . .

My friend, Bethany, rescued me from my car accident and took me to my hair/makeup appointment (and desperately tried to get me to think happy thoughts so I wouldn't cry my makeup off). Our friends and family came together to help us throw a sweet (yet, terribly sweaty) party. There was music. There was dancing. It was actually a pretty sweet day when you minus all the negative things. Believe it or not, it was actually easy to forget all those bad things.

June 11, 2005—Happy to be alive. And also married to this guy.
Then, after a honeymoon on a houseboat in Kentucky, we moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Lebanon, Indiana. I worked for a start-up newspaper called The Daily Sun. He was a warehouse guy in Fishers for G.W. Berkheimer. I was on a schedule where I would sleep for about four hours at a time and head into the office twice a day. I forget the time frame, but not long after we moved in, Willis got offered a purchasing job at G.W. Berkheimer's corporate office. He started driving two hours to and from work (Lebanon to Portage) after that. When the newspaper announced that a new law was passed to allow unlimited (and capped pay) overtime, I realized we had to leave Lebanon.

So, we moved to an apartment in Valparaiso (after only living in Lebanon for three months). We gained a cat (he followed us home on our last night in Lebanon, believe it or not). I got a job as an in-house graphic designer for G.W. Berkheimer. We carpooled to work. We learned (after spending the holidays with family and falling horribly ill) that we would NEVER have one bathroom again.

We bought a house in La Porte just before the housing market crashed (worst time to buy). We worked our butts off on it putting in some sweat equity (well, more sweat than equity). We got a puppy. He ate some of our stuff (including five remote controls and a brand new pair of running shoes). We got buried in snow a few times.

We had our three kids there. I said that like, "Whoop! There they are, and we did that."

Nope. They may have all been about 22 months apart, but they each came with ridiculously long, difficult labors through which Willis coached me (and saw things that can't be unseen). The last one didn't even want to come out . . . ever. Some of our kids didn't like to sleep. One of them cried A LOT—it turned out that he had ear infections . . . and so did I (cried a lot AND had ear infections). Every winter has had at least one barforama since these kids started arriving. One of the kids even ended up in the hospital in January of 2012 for four days with complications from RSV (even though all three kids had RSV).

We laughed there. We cried there. We found our church home there. We shaped our life there.

Then, Willis got the opportunity to work at Berkheimer's Gary branch.

After the first week of that commute, I remember seeing the look on his face and knowing in the pit of my soul that we needed to move. And then, we proceeded to have the longest slog of ridiculousness (in selling our La Porte house/buying our current house) that most people have ever seen.

And now, we are settled into our "new" home. It's been about 18 months since we moved here. While I am finding myself coming into an age of comfort and more clarity that I'll attribute to friendships, our faith, our community, consistency, and more sleep, I'm watching Willis get up nearly every day and go into work (I say nearly every day because he works most Saturdays, too). He is managing a branch that barely has enough staff. (One of his dear staff members was in an accident this summer and hasn't been able to come back to work.) I've watched him just be this man that leads people (without realizing it himself), and he does it well. He comes home and cooks dinner for all of us—when he probably hasn't eaten a thing all day. Sometimes, he's cooking in the midst of kids that are FREAKING OUT because I've just worked all day (and had to ignore them to meet a deadline), too. Then, I'll just be standing there, stunned, wondering what the heck happened to the whole day.

He never complains about any of it. I can see in his countenance that he is struggling through it sometimes, but he never says anything out loud about it. I know that he'll be annoyed that it (any hint of frustration) even shows, but I'm the only person who can read it (accurately).

What I've told him before, and what he doesn't seem to realize, is that him not being able to hide that from me is a quality that I happen to like about him. I think a lot of people think he's stoic and boring (due to this honed skill and his perfect hair), but I know that he isn't. Not even. In fact, he's hilarious. He's smarter than I am. He's kinder than I am. He is better at putting his belief into practice than I am. He's a better planner than I am. He's my human calculator, dictionary, and map (and people wonder why I don't need a smart phone). He's not above changing diapers, holding a child, or just being an engaging dad. He always does the right thing. He always knows the right thing to say (or not to say). He's considered all the sides to all the issues. He answers the phone like a professional all the time (see? Hilarious). He's more patient with animals than I am. He's more patient than I am in general. He has taught me that not everything has to be done right this second like I think it does (valuable lesson, by the way).

Here we are at Nicole (Angi) Kaeding's graduation party about nine years ago. Photo by Christine Angi.
Here we are, ten years later. Here I am, looking at our life, and I still feel like we're just getting started. There's still more to know about this guy. There's still more to experience with this guy. And, while things aren't as simple or as fun as we'd like them to be right now, I'd still rather be right here than anywhere—with this guy.

He's still that one guy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Mommy Guilt

Now that I have had minute to sit down and rehash the day, I am thinking back on my waking moments this morning. Nora crawled into bed with me before I was even remotely ready to wake up (and before dawn). She immediately started talking at full volume, nonstop.

I'm still not a morning person, even though I haven't seen the back side of 8 a.m. in I don't know how long. So, I didn't really welcome it warmly. In retrospect, I feel a little bad about that.

Here's why: about ten minutes after Nora came in, Willis came into our room to turn on the light (my signal to get up—his ability to make sure he's wearing matching socks, etc.). Everett came running in with him. Everett hopped up on the bed with a huge grin on his face, and said, "Hi, Mama."

I smiled and said, "Hi, buddy."

Nora said, "Oh. You don't smile at me like that, Mom."

Dang it.

I did mention that she came in to greet me in the dark. So, I suggested that maybe she couldn't see it. (Even though I know that she knows I wasn't smiling.)

Poor kid. I wish I could show her that I totally used to smile at her like that when she was two . . .

And, I still wish I was a morning person.

She loves me so much she even drew this for me so that I can remember she loves me when she's at school. And I can't even light up for her when she comes to snuggle in the morning. Darn it.

Here's another sad thought. Henry was in the room, too, when all this was happening (he came in a little before Willis and Everett in the dark, still). He probably watched all of this happen, and didn't voice any of his feelings on the topic. I'll bet he has some. Poor guy.

Also, I won't go into great detail about the fact that after Everett climbed up on the bed, I realized that he was covered in poo. (His own.) So, that abruptly ended snuggle time and began laundry and disinfecting time . . .

Friday, September 20, 2013

Poor Mr. Caterpillar

I think it was a week ago that Willi came home from work with a fist-full of black-eyed susans for me. I put them in a vase that we got as a wedding gift, and sat them in the middle of our table. Nora was particularly thrilled to watch this exchange, I think.

That evening (or maybe even the next day), we realized that there was a caterpillar living/eating on one of the flower heads, covered in pollen. I got the brilliant idea that I could keep this caterpillar in a jar (with holes) and some foliage, and we (mostly, the kids) could watch his transformation.

I put the flower he was nibbling on in a quart-sized jar, and I poked holes in some plastic wrap to cover it. The flower didn't last long. So, I added some lettuce, hoping that would sustain him.

This morning, while we were eating breakfast, I discovered that Mr. Caterpillar had probably passed sometime yesterday, unnoticed. I felt terrible.

Why did I think I could take this little being and hold him in captivity just so we could watch him? I'm already keeping five other little beings (including the cat and dog) alive on a daily basis. Why did I think I could add another?

Also, what do caterpillars eat? 'Cause it isn't lettuce, I guess.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Broke House

As I have been laying Everett down on the changing table to change his diaper, he has been putting his hands in the shape of a triangle and saying, "Mommy! Wook! A house!"

Then, he pulls his hands apart and goes, "Uh, oh! Broke house!"

I have no idea where that came from, but it cracks me up how clear it is.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

This Parenting Job is Hard

Nora's been in Kindergarten for two weeks. Typing that is so weird.

Today, I was trying to make sandwiches for two screaming, exhausted boys at about 12:15, when the phone rang. It was the school nurse calling. Nora had bumped her head at recess (hard) and was really upset in the clinic. I asked, "Is she okay?"

"She doesn't have a cut or anything, but she has a pretty big goose egg," the nurse said.

I stood there blinking for what felt like an entire minute.

"Um. What do I need to do?" I eventually asked.

"Well, Nora really needs her mommy," is what I heard. She may have really said that.

"Do I need to come get her?" I asked.

"Well . . .  if you just want to pop in and hug her, you could do that. She will probably be okay once she gets back to class, but if you wanted to come get her, I would excuse the absence," she said.

My jaw dropped open as I looked at my two little boys, mopping the floor with their bodies, who desperately needed naps. There was no flippin' way I was going to be able to throw them in the car just to go comfort her. I knew it'd make it worse, too. If I went in there, she was going to come home with me.

Then, she let Nora talk to me for a minute. Nora begged for me to come "just for a minute." I tried to tell her that the boys were about to take a nap, and I just couldn't. I told her I was sorry she was hurting. (It was awful, by the way.)

When the nurse got back on the line, something took over, and it was like someone else was talking. "Look. I can't really go in there just to give her a hug. I think it'll make it worse. If she still struggles when you send her back to class, let me know. I will find a way to come get her."

That's something a parent would say. That's weird.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blue Eyes Sinking with My Heart

Our sweet neighbor across the street asked us if we'd like to come over and swim in her pool today. She had asked us to come last year, but the weather would never cooperate with the timing. Things worked out today, so we went.

For most of the visit, Everett was too scared to really get into the water. Nora and Henry were in the entire time. Henry was in a life jacket, and he was a lot more comfortable than he ever has been in a pool. Nora started out in her life jacket and quickly moved on to be without it—shocking me with her swimming skills.

As our time was waning, Everett suddenly became a little more comfortable. So, I lingered a little longer than I'd have probably really liked—just because he was finally enjoying it. When it was time to go, and as I was wrapping things up (in conversation) with our neighbor, out of the corner of my eye, I saw flopping. Immediately, I gasped, ran, and hopped into the pool. As I reached out my arms, I saw two huge, bright blue eyes looking at me as they sunk down into the water. I grabbed him out, fearful that I was too late.

The moment the water rushed off his face, little Everett blurted out, "Go! Want go!"

He didn't even cough. Our neighbor said, "That means he was holding his breath that whole time!"

Oh, thank God.

I don't even know how he ended up under the water: he had been staying out of it. There was no splash. He must've willingly walked down the steps and lost his footing . . . so quietly.

At the end of each day, as I'm falling asleep, I find myself saying, "Everybody is here. Everybody is asleep. Everybody is OK. Thank you, God, for getting us through another day."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Another One of Those Sleepless Nights

Last night was possibly the worst in the top two or three worst nights of sleep we've ever had as a family. It was so unbelievable, in fact, that I had sit down and try to remember what happened and when. I want to be able to recall this stuff when I start sleeping through the night again one day. I'm pretty sure I'll look back on it and think, "How did we survive!?"

  • 10 p.m.: I'm laying down, Everett starts crying. I grab him, give him some Tylenol (because I think he has a sore throat), sit down with him at the computer for about a half hour, then, try to lay him down. He starts to cry on the way down, so I just bring him to bed with me. He sleeps on my face.
  • 10:30-45ish p.m.: Willis wakes up and goes, "Is he serious?" because Everett is squirming ALL over us. And fussing. He gets up with him and goes to the couch.
  • 11:30ish p.m.: Willis comes back into bed, followed by a dog that sounds like he's going to barf. He says, "I just let him out, and I had to chase him to get him back into the house. Everett went down, though . . . for now." Then, he let the dog back outside because the dog was FLIPPING out, screaming, and gagging. Willis laid down and said, "I feel like that, too, but you don't see me flipping out like that." I said, "You feel nauseous!?"
  • 11:45-11:50 p.m.: I wake up, remembering that the dog is outside, and I yell for him to come in. Luckily, he does, and he's quiet. Finally.
  • Midnight: I wake up (somehow, I slept for a few minutes) to an alarm going off in one of the kids' rooms. I fumble around and figure out that it is Henry's. I shut it off and go back to bed.
  • 1:30 a.m.: Everett wakes screaming again. I hop up, grab him, give him some Motrin, and try to sleep on the couch with him. He flops around so much that I'm afraid he's going to land on his head on the floor. I eventually realize that he is struggling a bit to breathe. So, I get up and give him a breathing treatment. I sit up with him through that and for awhile afterward to make sure he's OK and sleeping.
  • 2:15-30 a.m.: I put Ev to bed, and I go back to bed. The cat has made himself comfortable where my legs go and refuses to move for the remainder of the night.
  • 4 a.m.: We hear Nora turn her music on in her room. At first, it's really loud, and then, we can hear her turn it down. Willis gets up and goes in there to find out that she's probably not slept a wink the whole night and had no intention of going back to bed.
  • 6 a.m.: The alarm goes off for me to get up and start getting ready for church. Willis let me make the call as to whether we'd go or not. I said a prayer that went something like, "What do we do?" Then, almost immediately, I heard a hack from the next room (Everett). I rolled over.
  • 7 a.m.: Nora walks into our room, all chatty like she had never been asleep. Willis tells her to go watch TV, and she does. Henry comes out maybe a half hour later. He watches TV briefly before Willis gets up with the kids.
  • Almost 9 a.m.: I get up, but I could have slept until noon.