All posts by Leah

Oh What a Day

As a stay at home mom, one of the most dreaded questions you can be asked is, “What do you do all day?” It’s a ludicrous and rage inducing question. But in case you’ve been curious and, unlike my husband, not brave enough to ask, I thought I’d give you today’s rundown so you could have an exclusive peek into my life.

I started my day around midnight, comforting our screaming three year old daughter during her second (and then third. Maybe fourth? I lost count) round of nightmares. At some point she climbed into our bed and I just gave up and slept the remaining few hours with a squirmy hot living booger in bed next to me. When she awoke at 6:00 am, as she does without fail every morning, I may or may not have yelled at her to go back to sleep or I would kill her. This is not how we begin every morning, but it’s definitely not the first time. In fact, I will threaten to murder my children at least three more times before the day is out.

Justus came in at 7:00 am, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to go visit his Babs at her hotel for a swim. Except there have been thunderstorms all night (did I forget to mention those? Also great for restful sleep) and it is still raining now. No pool for these two. I manage to drag my lethargic body and the beach ball I’m wearing on my stomach out of my nice, comfortable bed and text my mom. I suggest we go to Cracker Barrel as a replacement activity for swimming. Because they’re basically the same thing. She calls while my children are actively screaming at both me and each other simultaneously. I desperately need coffee.

I grab a clean shirt and last week’s pants but can’t find my flip-flops. Oh right. The dog ate them yesterday. Flats it is. I send Justus to get dressed. 20 minutes later he is still sitting in the hallway outside my room wearing only his pajama shirt. I threaten to duct tape him to the wall if he doesn’t put on his clothes. He laughs and runs off to find his underwear.

I take Thalia to change her diaper and get her dressed. She must have choices so I raid the laundry basket (it’s been sitting there unfolded for an entire week now. It’s time to do laundry again. I started it the night before but never put it in the dryer. Typing this reminded me I’ll need to run it through again tonight or Justus will have to go to school naked tomorrow. Crap, it’s also Teacher Appreciation Week. I have literally done nothing for these amazing women) and find two complete outfits. “Dress or pants?” She points to the pants, because apparently we’re not talking now, and ask her what shoes she wants.
“I don’t want shoes.” Of course you don’t.

We’re finally all dressed and head out to the car, running only twenty minutes late. It’s stopped raining but it’s about 65 degrees out. “Oh good! Now we can go swimming!” Thalia yells. Um, no. Drive 25 minutes to the hotel. Pick up Mom. Go to breakfast. Ask the waiter to put in the chocolate chips we brought with us, because of course we’re traveling with chocolate chips. That’s a totally normal thing to do. Eat, send the kids to play “Checks,” drink ALL THE COFFEE. Go to pay. Let the kids ~visit~ the toys at the store. Tell them it’s time to leave. Watch Justus try to manhandle his sister because she runs away. Send Justus out the door. Grab a now screaming Thalia by the hand. “I want to play more checks!” she screams and then collapses on the patio. Scoop her off the ground with one arm, grab Justus by the other, march across the parking lot and buckle everyone in the car. Take Mom back to the hotel to get her car to drop it off at the airport and hang out for a few more hours.

Off to the United States Air Force Armament Museum, which Justus loves and Mom has never seen. The kids take off running as soon as we get to the entrance. They head for the flight simulators and die a slow death waiting their turn. Off to another exhibit. Reading a sign, I hear a woman’s voice, “Excuse me ma’am. Your daughter has a flag.” A giant flag that is fixing to the bite the dust.
“Stop touching things!” We’ve been here 87 times. She knows not to touch. She dips under the exhibit cordon. Mom snatches her as she runs by and pulls Thalia back out. “Don’t go under the rope! You are driving me crazy!”
“Babs come look at this!” Justus yells taking off in one direction.
“Babs lets take the elevator!” Thalia yells running in a completely different direction.
“Can I touch that? Mom watch this! Oh my gosh! What is that? Why is this here? Mom who is that man? Is that a picture of Daddy?” God forbid; it’s on the KIA wall. I shudder and try to explain. They’ve already taken off again. Upstairs. 30 seconds of a training video. “Babs this one is even better! It’s all the bombs blowing up the bad guys!” He runs to the other side of the exhibit. Oy vey.

Back downstairs. I go to show Mom one of my favorite exhibits. “Excuse me Ma’am, is that your daughter? She can’t climb on the exhibit.” I’ve already turned, a look of horror on my face. Thalia has ducked under the rope again and is climbing a bomb. Grab Thalia. Tell Mom and Justus to stay, that they’re not being punished. March Thalia outside, set her little butt on a bench, and sit there as she screams that she’ll have a better attitude, listen and obey, happy up, orchestrate peace in the Middle East, end world hunger. I don’t know. I’ve stopped listening. Once Mom and Justus come out, it’s back into the car, then off on more errands.

This includes a quick run back home, and a fruitless trip to the UPS store, followed by a jaunt to Ollie’s giant discount store full of crap to buy an extra suitcase for my Mom because shipping her new stuff was going to be an astronomical amount of money. Finally, success. We find what we need and quickly. “Can we look at the toys?”
“We can walk by the toys.” Quick circle around the store and we’ll be out of here. They both try to climb the piles of sale rugs at the back of the store. “Get down. Stop climbing on things. I’m going to kill you both.” Head for the front of the store so Mom can check out. As we walk past the patio furniture they climb it. “Get down. We’re going. Right now.” Thalia starts to protest. I walk off, Justus singing, “Bye Thalia!”

I turn and see the cushion slip off the patio chair, which is on a platform. She falls at least two and a half feet and lands head first on the tile. I’m terrified. I’m also embarrassed, but overwhelmingly terrified. Scoop her up, hold her to me, see the GIANT goose egg pulsating on the corner of her forehead. Simultaneously yell at my children and comfort them while also managing to drop a word that starts with f and rhymes with trucking. (Did I mention my son dropped a GD today? Yeah, we’re really on a role.)

I take both kids out to the car, give Justus the mom look to end all mom looks and tell him to get buckled. I stand Thalia up. “What is your name?”
Tears streaming down her face, snot dripping out of her nose, the knot on her head an angry purple egg, she sniffles, “Thalia.”
“Who am I?”
“I don’t remember.”
“How old are you?”
“I don’t know.” She starts to wail.
“What color is this?” I point to Babs’ suitcase.
“I don’t remember!”
I hope I’m right about this. “If you don’t answer these questions we are going to the hospital right now. Who are you?”
*sniff, sniff, sniff* “I’m Thalia.”
“Who am I?”
“Mommy”
“How old are you?”
“I’m free at my last birthday.”
“What color is this?”
“It’s purple.” Blubber, blubber.
Thank God she’s okay.

Mom asks if she can get me anything. “A glass of wine.”
“Umm, I can’t do that.”
“A margarita.”
“I can get you a Virgin Margarita…”
“That’s just a slushie. Wait, you know what? That actually sounds delicious.” I head over the bridge to Destin for the closest Sonic.
“Here, let me pay,” Mom offers.
“No. I’m eating my feelings. You don’t need to cover the tab for that.”
I order lunch for the kiddos and three lunches for myself. Also a milkshake. And the slushie.
“Mom I can eat my food in the car.”
“No. We’re eating at home.”
“But Mom, I can-”
“No. We’re eating at home. If you ask again I’m going to eat your food for you.”

Back home, wake up Thalia who of course has fallen asleep. Feed the troops. Go to the airport. It’s raining. Park. Go in with Mom for the goodbyes, which go surprisingly well. Last time there was a whole lot of crying and a return trip for more hugs. This time, smiles, kisses, and off we go our separate ways.

We get home and I am so wiped I can barely see straight. My eye, which I injured yesterday, is pulsating with exhaustion and stress. “Mommy needs a nap. Daddy will be home soon. Sit here, watch this movie, and please be quiet.” Desperate times call for desperate measures. I collapse onto the bed. Twenty minutes later I hear the door open.
“Oh Thalia.” It’s not good. Our little Picasso has not only given herself a full face of black marker tattoos but has also decorated her arms. And her feet. And the sofa. And the rug.

I clock out and head home, another day behind me.
Just kidding! I live here! There are no breaks! I can’t escape!

A bit later we head to Panda Express, Keith’s favorite and a rare treat for him. (Yes, for those of you counting that means we ate out THREE times today. Ridiculous.) Get back home, climb out of the car, unbuckle Justus. Keith lifts Thalia out and she collapses onto the floor screaming. As he picked her up, she grabbed onto something that pinched her finger. “MOMMY!” she screams. I pick her up and she begins to calm down. Then I turn her hand over to look at the boo boo. It’s bleeding. The sight of blood apparently increases the pain exponentially. She starts hyperventilating.

Take her inside, clean the wound, put on a Frozen Band-Aid, or as she calls them, “ban bans.” “Let’s get your jammies on Thalia. It’s time for bed.”
“NOOOO! I don’t want jammies! I have a boo boo!”
“Okay, well let’s at least change your diaper.”
*sniff* “Okay.”
Change the diaper. “Foxes or owls?”
“NO JAMMIES!!!”
“Do you want to just wear your shirt?”
*sniff* “Yes.”
“It’s wet.”
“NO! IT’S NOT!” Okie dokie.

As I hold and rock my daughter in her room, her eyes begin to close. I can feel Annora moving inside me and am overwhelmed, with joy, with fear. I am so grateful I get to be Justus’ mom, Thalia’s mom, even on these hard, hard days. I am excited to meet my newest child. I am terrified I’m going to screw them up beyond repair. But right now, I’m also relieved that, finally, tonight, at least until the next nightmare, I can rest.

Georgia on My Mind

The first time she bit Justus, he deserved it. She had just joined our family and had recently received some very painful shots in her back. Despite our supervision, and despite repeatedly telling him not to touch her there, he did. And she gave a warning snap. It scared him. But we knew it was provoked and we gave her another chance.

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Napping with my dad about two weeks after she joined our family.

Continue reading Georgia on My Mind

First Day of School – Part 2

Justus was so excited about school that his enthusiasm was contagious. “I go to school too!” his sister would yell excitedly. And he would respond, “Of course you can!”
“Um, no. No you can’t Thalia,” I always reminded them.

After we dropped him off, Thalia’s first words were, “Now we go to my school.”
“No Sweetheart. You don’t have a school yet.”
“Where we going?”
“To the gym, baby. Just like every morning.”
“Again?!” This is my toddler, ladies and gentlemen. Two going on twelve.

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I made sure to spend extra quality time with her. We spent a couple of hours at the library, playing games and reading book after book. We stopped to scope out their amazing aquarium and say hi to all the “Nemos” and “Dorys.” Then we headed home to have lunch before picking up Justus.

It was pouring rain when we got back to the house. I stepped into the backyard with Georgia and heard the door close behind me. When I tried to open it, the door was locked. I started to freak out. The garage is closed, with no way to open it from the outside. The front door is locked, all the windows are locked, my phone is in my purse inside the house, my landlord is at work, and there is a torrential downpour. On top of which I have to pick up my son in 20 minutes or be charged an exhorbitant amount of money.

I could see her through the glass. “Thalia, open this door right now!”
She burst into tears.
“It’s okay! I’m not mad! I just need you to open the door!”
More crying.
“Sweetie, you can do this. I know you can. You just have to go get your stool out of the potty and climb up to unlock the door.”
We stared at each other for almost a full minute before she turned and sauntered away. Was she going to play? Cry in another room? Climb in the litter box? But no. She quickly returned carrying her training potty.
Close enough.
She climbed up, undid the latch, and burst into tears again.

A Cut Above

So after reading today’s blog post, it’ll be abundantly clear that I’m vying for my “Parent of the Year” trophy.

My kiddos decided to climb into the dry tub and play with their bath toys. I thought it was a good, safe place for them to be and started to fix breakfast. Then Justus walks out with my razor.
“Mama, do you need a haircut?”
“OH JUSTUS! Baby you can’t touch that. It’s very dangerous. Are you okay? Are you bleeding? Is Sissy bleeding?”
I frantically looked him over and then ran to check on his sister. He looked at me like I was crazy. “No mom. We’re not hurt.”
We had a very serious talk about not touching Mommy’s razor and then went on with our day.

In no big rush, we Skyped with Daddy and then took turns getting dressed. Finally I put on a movie and sat Thalia on my lap to fix her hair. I took out one of the previous day’s pig tails and started combing. A huge clump of hair came off her head.

My first thought was, “Oh my God there is something horribly wrong with my child.” But she seemed her normal, happy self. It was just the one clump. I couldn’t see a bald spot where it would’ve released from her skull.
Then it clicked.
“JUSTUS! Did you cut your sister’s hair?!”
“Um, yes.”
“Oh Justus.”

You can just see the short wispy strands on the top of little miss Captain America's head
You can just see the short wispy strands on the top of little miss Captain America’s head

Apparently while they were playing in the tub he took the razor, took the cover off, and ran it over the top of her hair, taking off a thin layer and leaving strands about an inch long behind in a stripe down her part.
He asked if I needed a haircut because he’d already given her one.

The future Mister Vidal Sassoon.
The future Mister Vidal Sassoon.

This Mama’s Heart

We’d brushed their teeth and read our story, “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.” Then it was time for devotions, prayers, and bed. We started reading today’s devotional on the peace of God.
“I want peace,” Justus said.
“Well baby, that kind of peace only comes from asking Jesus to live inside your heart.”
He looked up at me. “Then I want Jesus to live in my heart.”

We talked about what that means, about how we all do bad things but when we ask God to forgive us he makes us new and clean on the inside, and how when we ask Jesus to live inside our hearts, that means he’s always with us.
“Do you want to ask Jesus to live inside your heart?”
“Yes.”
So we prayed a children’s version of the sinner’s prayer and Justus asked Jesus to come live inside his heart.
I cried tears of joy. My mama heart is overwhelmed. I have prayed every day since they were born that my children would give their hearts to God at a young age and follow him all the days of their lives. I am so amazed at the faithfulness of God, at this so tangibly answered prayer, at my child’s simple heart and desire for the peace of God.
Tonight this mama’s heart is full.

Before I Forget

Some of my favorite Justus words:

  • lenomade – lemonade
  • Chicaflay – Chick-fil-a
  • banban – Band-aid
  • fofa – sofa

Some of my favorite Thalia words:

  • hock – sock
  • moobie – movie
  • pity – pretty
  • ‘no – snow (not to be confused with “No!”, which means no.)

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Justus has started offering people near him sunscreen, which would normally be a kind, albeit slightly odd, gesture. Except that he’s taken to licking his hands and then calling it sunscreen.

We were walking into the grocery store this morning and an employee was taking a break outside under an awning eating a bag of Doritos. Thalia looks up at me, points, and asks excitedly, “Chips? Chips?”
“No, you may not have any of her chips.”
With a big sigh, she looked down. “Awwwww.”

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Last night the kids were getting really wound up on the car ride home from Babs and PopPops’. “It is late. It is bedtime. You need to calm down.”
Immediately I hear Thalia start doing deep breathing exercises in the back of the car.

I love that Justus always wants to sing the “SUV” song from Veggie Tales with me. It’s our favorite duet. I also love that Thalia has begun to sing along too, although her personal favorite is the Cheeseburger Song.

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Bit and Pieces

Justus has fully mastered potty training and not had an accident in days but apparently some of our learning really left an impression. He followed me into the bathroom, waited patiently until I was finished, checked my work, and then said, “Mom, that was a big poop.”
“Um, thank you?”
“Mom. That was amazing.”

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He has also invented a new imaginary friend, Newlut (who is not to be confused with the first imaginary friend, an elephant named Newart). Apparently Newlut lives way high up on the mountain, is a train like Cranky (who is, for the record, actually a crane), has three cars – one red, one, green, and one blue – and is friends with Percy and Thomas. Apparently he takes Justus to go ride on Percy and Thomas when I’m not around. And he was going to come visit later today.

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My sweet, beautiful daughter has finally realized there is one creature she can boss around – my parents’ long suffering St. Bernard mix Parker. Parker is approximately 96 in dog years, deaf as a post, mostly blind, and the gentlest of the insanely large dog posse they have cultivated. We often stomp on the wood floor of the cabin while simultaneously calling loudly for Parker in the hopes that he will feel the vibrations and look up (he usually does).

When she (or anyone else) wants to get Parker’s attention, Thalia has taken it upon herself to start shrieking at the top of her substantial lungs, in a shrill voice, “PA-KUH! PAAAAA_KUUUUUUH!” Tonight that piercing scream was also punctuated by vigorous foot stomps.

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Day By Day

I was going to write this really poignant missive about how hard it is to say goodbye but how I think we’re getting better at it; sad, sappy nonsense that will just make me more depressed and angry. I do think we’re getting better at the goodbyes but they also still suck tremendously. So instead of focusing on that, I thought I’d share some of the highlights of our day.

  • I awoke with two tiny humans in my bed. One was attached to my breast and apparently the other felt left out. “Mom, Gerald is hungry.” (Gerald is an elephant.) “He needs beeboos,” (what we call nursing.) So I got to tandem nurse my daughter and an elephant which was a first for me.
  • Justus went all morning in underwear without an accident! He even pooped in the potty. This may not seem like a big deal to you since you probably poop in the potty on a daily basis, but around here it’s front page news.
  • Later, when I went to the potty (with an audience, as all mothers do) my son asked, “Mom are you pooping?”
    “Yes, I did.”
    “Let me see!” He peers into the toilet bowl. “Oh wow Mom! That’s just terrific! What a great job!”
  • He hasn’t mastered sleepy time potty training yet so we put a diaper on him for nap. Afterwards he was supposed to put underwear back on but adamantly refused. Instead, he changed his own diaper. Because apparently that’s easier than stopping to pee when necessary.
  • My sweet Thalia saw pictures of baby Graham on Facebook and started blowing kisses to him. “Baby! Night night, baby?” *smooch, smooch*
  • My children already had Christmas while Daddy was here but we’re keeping up the decorations until after the holidays. This morning Thalia pulled down her stocking and started trying to wear it. When Justus saw what she was doing he had to join in. They wound up looking like little mermaids.
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  • While getting ready for bed I was helping Justus finish brushing his teeth. I turned my back for a second; when I looked again Thalia was pulling the head of her toothbrush out of the toilet and before I could stop her, she went back to brushing her teeth.

Toddlers are like

This morning Justus runs into my room closely followed by Thalia, both of them wearing only a diaper. “Mom! You have to help Thalia be Wonder Woman! She needs her super suit! Mom where’s my Captain America?! I need to be Captain America!” They spent the morning running around with Justus yelling, “Time to save the day!” and Thalia, his ever faithful assistant, trailing behind.
How did they save my day? They brought me handfuls of cereal while I was getting dressed, Justus gently coaching her.

This afternoon he adamantly refused to take a nap. For four hours he refused to take a nap. After it took an hour to get his sister down, he woke her with his tomfoolery. I thought we’d finally negotiated our way to sleep when he began sobbing uncontrollably, “I miss my Daddy! I really, really love you! Please hold me!”

Tonight he listened and obeyed, did what I asked, helped his sister, and went right to bed without a fight.

Forget life. This kid is like a box of chocolates. I never know what I’m going to get. It’s always an adventure . . .