Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I'm proud of us

I filed our taxes last night. Which doesn't matter to anyone, really, but Uncle Sam and me. But reviewing one's financial statements for the past year forces one to think a little bit about the past year. And as I laid awake in bed last night I thought, wow, I'm really freaking proud of my family!

Let's review the year that was, shall we?
  • Big Daddy gets laid off from his 12-year job a mere 3 weeks before we give birth to Baby #2. Instead of spiraling into doom and despair, we regroup, rededicate, refocus.
  • Baby #2 arrives, beautiful and perfect, and we adjust to being a foursome...and to sleepless nights, messy diapers, and marveling at the wonder of infancy.
  • Mommy is home on maternity leave while Daddy is home on severance pay; Big Brother goes from full-time childcare to half-day preschool and lots of time at home with both parents and his new sibling.
  • We spend 3 amazing months together, a glorious springtime with nowhere to go and nothing to do but be a family. We're relatively broke, yet somehow we're able to pay the bills and buy groceries, and we learn to be creative when looking for things to do.
  • Mommy goes back to work, to a new role that she doesn't really want but accepts because, really, there's no choice. She works 10-hour days, pumping her breasts every 3 hours and drinking too much coffee to stay awake because Baby is up every 2 hours round the clock. And she's now primary "breadwinner" -- that's new and scary.
  • Daddy takes on a new role, too: stay-at-home dad! The work hours are just as long, the pay stinks, but the benefits are great: hours playing at the pool, excursions into the woods to catch garden snakes, naps and games and scraped knees and bottles and diapers and cooking and cleaning and doctor appointments. We both discover he's really, really good at this gig...and we both like our new roles.
  • Big brother starts kindergarten: School bus, new teacher, new friends, full day, homework!
  • Daddy starts a new office job with a wacky schedule but steady pay, a short commute, and great benefits. Baby starts daycare. Mommy changes her work schedule to meet the school bus each day.
  • Mommy's entire work unit is dissolved and her coworker-friends are laid off; she starts yet another new job at the same organization, giving up a telecommuting day and changing her daily schedule yet again.
  • Daddy gets a raise after just 3 months in his new job because he's kicking ass. Ironically, this happens on the anniversary of his "liberation" from his previous job.
Through all of this change and uncertainty and what-comes-next, my fellas have been adaptable and amenable and completely amazing. I've had my moments of complete panic, but their steadiness brings me back to center. (Prayer helps there, too!) We've been healthy and happy and focused on what really matters: Us.

This is what makes me proudest of my family. We have grown closer and stronger and more in tune with one another. We have slowed down, reprioritized. We play board games together after dinner; we live for Friday movie nights; we snuggle as often as possible. Daddy still makes all our lunches every evening and gets the boys dressed, fed, and out the door each morning. Mommy takes naps on the weekends. Brother lives to make Baby laugh. Baby shows us all something new each day.

It's been the most challenging, most affecting, most memorable year of my life. And although I often joke about wishing for a boring stretch, I'm thankful for every up, every down, every pain, and every joy. This is the stuff of life, and life is good.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The sun'll come out

I'm thankful for days like this, full of little gifts in the middle of the endurance-testing, gut-checking, dark-cold month of February: A glimmer of hope on a few rays of sunshine through the bleak, a robin or two chirping a promise of spring, a chance to play outside without hats and mittens and runny noses. A day to look around and say, ok, it's going to thaw, it's going to be lighter, it's going to get greener, we just might make it.

And I'm so thankful for moments like this one to remind me of how sweet even February is: My baby's first recognition of birds flying overhead while he experiences his first swing ride. Look at the wonder in those big blue eyes. The world is beautiful, isn't it?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sometimes I can't believe they let me have children

A lot goes on here between the hours of 4pm and 8 when Big Daddy gets home. I'm flying solo, without a map -- and often without a parachute. And most nights, when the cherubs are finally filed for the evening in their cozy beds, I sit back and think, man oh man, I cannot believe they let me keep these kids!

Here are some of the strange-but-true happenings in the world of Tall Girl and her Tiny Men this week:

* Flames in the oven. No joke. Fire. Burning tall. Flicking its tongue out the top of the oven door. While pre-heating for a gourmet fish stick dinner. As slightly frantic Mom moves the baby in the high chair and the big brother in his jammies to the front door, Sweet Boy notices the smoky kitchen and asks, "Mommy, are we going to die? OK...then we won't have to eat that."

* Mommy goes King Kong on the Jumperoo because it won't fold right. While Sweet Boy is practicing piano. After kicking the snot out of this seemingly innocent baby toy, screaming like a banshee-gorilla the whole time, she notices SB quietly sobbing on the piano bench...but practicing more earnestly than ever before! Evidently Mommy Kong should come out more often.

* While trying to print out photos for Sweet Boy's "Top Banana" status on a Monday evening, because she completely neglected to look in his book bag over the weekend to notice that he's been chosen for this highest of kindergarten honors, she hears, "Um, Mommy, I think Jakey's going to throw up any minute." Mommy picks up the glassy-eyed, slightly feverish babe, and asks, why do you say that, love? "Because I just fed him Play-Doh." On cue, baby gags and vomits tiny chunks of dried up Play-Doh all over the just printed Top Banana pics. A moment of motherly awesomeness!