Important Thoughts 26.0

26.1: Max both spit a mouthful peas and threw up on my pants yesterday. It was frustrating because I only own a very small number of pairs of maternity pants. And also I spent the rest of the day smelling like barf.

26.2: Christian and I were out on a date two weekends ago and attempted to visit the local Outback for dinner. {Our mistake for thinking we could just show up on a Friday night; we ended up leaving after hearing that the wait was 45-50 minutes}. As I walked in to the restaurant, an employee opened the door for a couple leaving, saw me and declared, "Wow! You're all baby!" Um... thanks, guy. I still have two months to go.

And speaking of two months to go...

26.3: On our way home from the zoo, we stopped at the Cookout in Asheboro because Christian and I were seriously hungry. {Apparently not all of the zoo restaurants are open during the off-season, but there's no way to know that without visiting each of them -- a highly inconvenient endeavor when you have two tired babies in tow}. I went in to order while Christian stayed in the car with our sleepy babies. The girl behind the counter took my order, then felt the need to make some small talk. "How far along are you?" she asked. "Seven months," I said, knowing that an exact week count would probably mean nothing to her. She responded, "So... you have... four months left?" No but really? And there I was, thinking every intelligent person in the US knew both the normal gestational period of humans and how to add and subtract numbers less than ten in their head. My bad.

26.4: Christian and I caught the season premiere of Mad Men, and while I thought it was pretty awesome, I've had the horrible "Zou Bisou Bisou" stuck in my head ever since.

26.5: One time recently we were giving Max and Maggie a bath in the tub -- something they've come to love, as long as we don't try to bathe them too often. Max started checking himself out down there, as I understand naked little boys are wont to do. {Even Maggie has shown interest when Max is getting his diaper changed; she points her finger and I can see her mind thinking, "what is that thing?"} Since I don't want to be one of those moms who traumatizes her child by scolding him for something that's really no big deal, I started talking to him about it. "Do you see your peepee?" I asked. "Yes, Maxwell has one, but not Maggie. Maybe newbaby has one, but we don't know yet. Right now, it's just Max." I noticed that Christian was giving me a funny look at this point, so I said, readying myself for the accusation that I was being weird, "What?" And he replied, "Um, and Daddy. Daddy has one." Oh. Right.

26.6: If you didn't notice, I just talked about my husband's genitalia on my blog. Can we all just move on and pretend it's not awkward?

26.7: I often get the words for blog posts in my head, writing themselves out with hardly any thought or effort on my part. Lately I've been trying my best to record them when this happens, because I've found that if I don't, they're lost forever. Not only do I forget the perfect wording and this-idea-to-that-idea progression, but the whole concept is gone. Is this something that happens to other people? I feel a bit helpless, out of control of my own writing. It's troublesome when a new post strikes and I'm in the middle of doing something else. {Like trying to fall asleep.} Buying a new app to help me remember my thoughts helps, though.

*image by Amanda Mabel via Flickr


To Bang or Not to Bang

There's been a debate going on in our household lately. {Note: by "debate" I mean that Christian and I talked for two minutes on the subject, and by "lately," I mean we talked yesterday evening.} The topic is whether or not I should get bangs again. I say yes, and Christian says no. We both know {um, as should everyone} that I look good with bangs, so that's not an issue. Let's go through the points on each side, shaaaall we?

Pro-bangs {Mary}: When Max and Maggie were about three months old, my hair started falling out. And I dealt with it. I had weird bald patches at my temples, but I dealt with it. A few months later, all that hair started to grow back. I now have a lion's mane of short growth all around my face -- it gets frizzy more quickly than my other hair, and it's almost impossible to keep back. Now, keeping in mind that newbaby is due in two months, and that my hair is likely to behave the same way this time around, we can estimate that it will probably be another fourteen months before my hair is at this exact same awkward stage again, and several more before it's completely back to normal. And bangs would hide all of it -- all the hair drama. It's my only argument, but in my opinion it's a very convincing one.

Anti-bangs {Christian}: Christian's side of the debate also consists of a single point, which is that I told him over a year ago that he has a standing order to talk me out of ever getting bangs again. He's also probably tired of hearing me complain about bangs when I have them.

Why did I issue such an order to Christian? Well, when I have bangs, I get tired of how they have to be styled every day, how they get greasy laying against my forehead, and how they need to be trimmed constantly. I remember these terrible things about bangs, and I know how awful it is to grow out bangs, but somehow whenever I don't have bangs, they seem like such a good idea.

So I need your help. Bangs, or no bangs? Feel free to comment or vote in the poll in my footer.

*image sources, clockwise from top left: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Needing Time & Being Grateful

Last night after dinner, Christian asked me if I wanted to empty the dishwasher or watch the babies while he cleaned up the kitchen. Almost before he had finished speaking, I broke in and said "Dishwasher!" Because it was one of those nights when I needed a break. I started working on our messy kitchen, and I enjoyed having that quiet time to clean so much. I wondered if, at that moment, there was any chore that I wouldn't have volunteered to do as an alternative to watching children. Wash a sinkful of greasy dishes by hand? Clean all the toilets? Scrub out the garbage can? Check, check, and check -- I would have been up for any of those.

Some nights I find myself in this mood where I get irritated with everyone, and everything I think about is stressful. I have five projects that I started but haven't been able to finish, I need to get my hair cut because it's getting ratty on the ends, our yard is a mess of weeds, some room {or more often, all the rooms} in our house needs cleaning, and I haven't come close to accomplishing anything because I've had babies climbing on me all day. I start thinking, if everyone would just LEAVE ME ALONE and STAY OUT OF MY FACE, then I could get some work done. {They are such adorable babes, and I love them so so much, but I think all mothers get to the point where they need to not be touched for a little while.}

And then I think back to the time when I was free to get things done, the time between babysitting my niece and getting pregnant, and how I spent most of my day on the computer anyway. I found all of the potentially productive hours of each day of intimidating. I was lonely, and I felt empty with the constant heartache of infertility, and those hours stretched in front of me, looming, daring me to fill them. I was afraid to get things done, because what would happen when all the tasks were accomplished and all the chores were completed? Would I fold in on myself, a useless husk of a woman?

Maybe if I were a better person, a stronger and more confident version of myself, I would be better able to give my own life purpose. Even when I was alone. Even when the thing I wanted most felt like it would never come. Instead, I doubted my worth as an individual. My daily work at that time seemed so petty and inconsequential; I didn't feel needed. I dreaded the moment in the evening when Christian would ask what I had done during the day, but also if he didn't ask I felt like it was because he knew I hadn't done anything.

Just thinking about that time, how lost I felt and how I struggled to be happy even though I had so much, it gets me down. So I'm going to stop thinking about it now.

I'm grateful that my life is filled with people now, filled with babies who need me almost more than I can give. I'm grateful that my everyday work is to help them, to care for them and enrich their lives. I'm also grateful for the moments that I have to myself, to mentally relax and be in peace. I'm grateful to have a husband who loves me like crazy and takes care of me, and tries to be sympathetic with what I'm feeling even if he doesn't get it. I'm so grateful for my life right now.

*image from The Glow



The day came. It actually, in all reality, came. My sweet babies, my darling Maggie Elaine and Captain Maxwell turned one whole year old today. And thankfully, Christian and I were not so short-sighted and unbelieving as to not make preparations.

I stayed up until midnight last night finishing a teepee for a special birthday surprise {tutorial from here}. We gave the babes their presents this morning: a walker for Max, and a little piano for Maggie. So far, they both love the piano and seem confused by the walker except that they both know they hate to use it for walking.

Christian stayed home from work and we visited the North Carolina Zoo today. We scheduled our departure so they could have their first nap in the car, and our plan worked perfectly; they fell asleep in their new big kid car seats and slept the whole way. Once there, we quickly realized that one year old, as mature as it may sound, is still too young to get any real excitement out of the zoo. It was also very warm, and we spent a lot more time walking than we had expected. Nevertheless, they were champs.

We drove home during second naps, and then Christian was gracious enough to take over while I crashed. We weren't ready for birthday celebrations to be over, so we got back into the car after dinner and visited Goodberry's for ice cream and some good brick-slapping. Our kids were exhausted by bed time, and Maggie in particular required constant holding. We sang them a Happy Birthday song and told them about all the things they accomplished during the past year before putting them down.

It's strange, but looking at them and seeing how old they are makes me realize that even though they're mine, and I've spent every day of their lives taking care of them, there's still so much about them I have to learn. There's more getting to know them the more they grow, and I'm so glad I have the opportunity to spend time with them.

Dear babes, I love you so much. I told you today that I love you times a hundred, but really I hope you know I love you times infinity. Thank you for making me a mama; it's my favorite.


The Cookie Story

Once upon a time, many years ago, I could make a decent chocolate chip cookie. My cookies weren't anything special, and when my sister Laura mixed up the exact same recipe, somehow hers always turned out better. I think we were using the recipe that's printed on the back of the Nestle chocolate chips package.

Then I received an e-mail forward {back during a time when I read e-mail forwards}. You might have gotten it, too; it was this one. I started using the recipe contained in that e-mail exclusively, and loved the cookies that it created. {The oat flour gives them a little bit of a nutty flavor, which is awesome, and which I accent with chopped walnuts when making cookies only for myself. No one else seems to want walnuts in their cookies.}

When I got married almost four years ago, I moved out of my parents' house and left that recipe behind. I didn't think about it at the time. And I didn't make the connection when all the chocolate chip cookies I made started turning out like this. I even followed all of the instructions from this pin exactly {well, I followed most of them somewhat closely}, with no significant difference in the quality of my cookies.

In January I visited a friend's house and brought along some of my terrible failure cookies. She was surprised. "How could that happen," she asked, "when I call my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe Mary's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies??" Apparently at one point I had given her a copy of the one recipe that worked for me, and she loved it. Shortly afterward our visit she returned the favor and sent me a copy back.

I made a half batch of the miracle cookies last night. They were awesome.

Christian declared them easily the best cookies I've made since we were married, and I heartily agreed. We ate all 15 cookies in less than 24 hours. If you'd like to taste the magic for yourself, here's the recipe:

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup oat flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 ounces chocolate chips

*Blend one and a quarter cups rolled oats in a blender or food processor until powdered.

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until mixed. Add in dry ingredients and mix thoroughly, then add chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


10 Happy Things

Some days, even days that aren't as terrible as Monday, end up feeling like I wrestled with a bear for eight hours. And that's okay. It's more than okay; I'd rather feel exhausted at the end of every day because I've been taking care of my sweet angel babes than doing anything else. I thought for today's post I'd make a happy list (something I haven't done for a long while) to help me appreciate all of the wonderful things in my life. So here are ten things that are making me ecstatic right now:

1. Sneaking love notes into my husband's lunch before he wakes up in the morning.
2. Chocolate chip cookies made by my sister, and Max and Maggie's reactions to eating them. (Yum!)
3. Warm and windy weather.
4. Watching Maggie pull up on the ottoman by herself. It's kind of a big deal.
5. Knowing that Community is coming back next week. I'm very excited.
6. Kisses and cuddles from warm little baby bodies.
7. Walking past Max and Maggie's new room and imagining how awesome it's going to look when it's finished.
8. Reading books with a baby on each leg. It fills up my heart in a special way to share books with them.
9. Reminding myself that the baby in my belly is a whole new person that I haven't met before, a brand new member of our little family.
10. The rare occasion of me making Christian laugh hard because of something I said on purpose to be funny.

What's making you happy today?

*image via tumblr.
If you know the original source of this image, please let me know. THANKS SO MUCH!


Dream a Little Dream

First, thank you all for your kind comments on yesterday's post! It's always encouraging to hear friendly thoughts and wishes, and to be reminded that bad days happen to everyone. Our Tuesday turned out to be wonderful, much to my relief and mine and the babes' mutual happiness.

Second, I've been noticing recently that roughly 85 percent of my dreams are just the same three dreams over and over. Is that strange?

1. I often dream that I'm in school again {either high school or college}, and it's nearing the end of the semester. Suddenly I realize that I forgot to attend a certain class for several weeks. I don't know the material at all, I haven't turned anything in, and there's no way I'm going to pass a final exam. Occasionally I also have trouble being on time, actually finding classes, and parking in an acceptable space. While these dreams are torturous to experience, it's always such a relief to wake up and realize that the clanging of "Deadlines! Deadlines! Deadlines!" in my head is meaningless, and nothing is due. Ever. For the rest of my life, if I want.

2. I think the dream where you're trying to run but you just can't seem to move your legs fast enough is a common one. I more often dream that I'm furious with someone and I want to slap them in the face and I can't. I try over and over, but for some reason my arm slows every time it gets close and I end up just swiping the person weakly with my hand. It's incredibly frustrating. I also dream that I'm so angry I want to swear {fun fact: I've only cursed out loud four times in my life, and all of those times were on accident}, but I can't get the word to come out. I feel like maybe this indicates that my subconscious is disturbed in some aspect; I'd rather not analyze it too closely.

3. The third reoccurring dream I have isn't really a dream; it's what my brain imagines when I'm half-asleep in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly for a new mother, what my brain imagines is that there's a baby in bed next to me. Usually I'm holding the baby, but sometimes they're laying between me and Christian, and sometimes they're about to crawl off the side of the bed. The problem with this dream is that it keeps waking me up until I've proved to myself definitively that all babies are in their beds. I remember once when Max and Maggie were about four months old I kept dreaming that Maggie was sleeping in my arms, even though my partially awake brain knew it wasn't true, so I squished the little pillow that I sleep with in my hands and thought, "See? Babies don't squish like that, so I must be holding a pillow, not a baby." And just last week, I woke Christian up and had him tell me that Max was safe in his crib.

Do you have the same dreams over and over? I'd love to hear about them!

*photos taken yesterday on our walk and edited with the Instagram app. You can follow me on Instagram here.


Days Like This

It must be said: yesterday was a terrible day. A horrible, no good, very bad day. No one was sick or injured or teething {I think}, but nonetheless it was a day filled with whining and frustration and crying {hey, everyone, tears all around! On me!}. Also, it was a day filled with:

- Max's shoes not fitting onto his huge feet when we were trying to get ready to go to Target, even though I could have sworn they were the right size.

- Throwing said shoes across the room because seriously, WTH, shoes??

- Max going to Target barefoot.

- Babies getting antsy at Target because their mama is looking at all the baby shoes, trying to find a pair that might fit her son's giant clown feet, instead of pushing the cart around.

- Max continually pulling on Maggie's jacket sleeve, and Maggie fussing.

- Max pulling really hard, or pinching, or possibly biting Maggie's arm in the cereal aisle, and Maggie losing it completely.

- Carrying Maggie in one arm for the remainder of our Target trip to keep her happy and to keep Max from upsetting her again; pushing a ginormous double cart with the other arm.

- Buying ice cream because the day sucks so hard.

- Buying two baby gates, in the hopes that one of them might keep Max from climbing up the stairs.

- Max whining, clinging to my feet, and climbing up the back of my legs while I put away groceries even though, ohmygoodness! Child, nothing is wrong!

- Trying Max's new shoes on his feet, only to discover that somehow they are also too small.

- Throwing said shoes across the room because seriously, WTH, shoes??

- Opening the carton of ice cream and sharing it with babies, hoping a treat would reset the day and help everyone be happy and normal again.

- Attempting to talk to my mom on the phone about what a terrible day it had been, but not being able to because of two babies, pulling on me and trying to eat the phone.

- Giving everyone a timeout/hiding in the bathroom for a minute so I don't start yelling or being mean. Twice.

- Feeling like a coward for hiding from my kids.

- Trying to calm babies down, but not being able to. Max not being content with just one side of me and clawing at Maggie, trying to get to my other side; Maggie consequently screaming so loud and scaring Max.

- Calling Christian sobbing because I'm beyond rational thought and need him to tell me what to do.

-Coming downstairs after talking to Christian to find Max trying to find comfort in my sweatshirt, since his blanket was in the washing machine.

- Trying to give babies lunch, but having Maggie cry and cling to me every time I put her in her booster seat.

- Holding and rocking babies until my arms hurt. Singing lullaby songs over and over and over.

- Finally being able to feed babies lunch. Realizing Maggie needs to go down for a nap immediately afterward.

- Maggie rolling over no less than six times while I tried to give her a pre-nap diaper change.

- Putting both babies in bed and feeling too exhausted to move. Having a massive headache.

- Suffering through several more meltdowns and tantrums post-nap, most of them involving Max crawling over Maggie's hands.

- Pulling Max off the stairs before he climbed too high four times.

- Starting to cry in front of the babies, and feeling awful because it scared and confused them.

- Wishing and wishing for Christian to come home.

- Christian coming home and offering to take care of the babes while I take a nap because he could tell how tired I was.

- Crying out of relief for a minute before going to sleep.

- Waking up and feeling more normal.

- Having to put Max in one of Maggie's sleepers for bedtime because I never finished doing baby laundry.

- Being glad the day was over and that I never had to live through it again.



On Sunday night, I was exhausted. I hadn't gotten a nap for two days, Christian and I had stayed up late both Saturday and Sunday nights {first for Stake Conference, and then to watch the Oscars, which are both very important and absolutely worth missing sleep}, and even though Sunday was my morning to sleep in, Christian had to wake me up to get ready for church.

So by the conclusion of our weekend, I was ready for rest. I was beyond reasonable emotion when, less than an hour after I had fallen asleep, Maggie woke up crying. It was my turn to take care of babies who make noise in the nighttime, so up I got up, left my bed and my sleeping husband, and closed the door behind myself to leave them in peace.

Our policy with crying babes {at least between the hours of 7:30 pm and 6:30 am} is to let them soothe themselves back to sleep. Usually it doesn't take long; there have been early mornings when Max made noise at 4:30, 5:45, and 6:30, and I got up every time, only to have him silent again within five minutes. We often doze on the couch while waiting them out and keeping a droopy eye on the clock.

However, I soon realized that Maggie wasn't going back to sleep quickly. Not only did she not stop crying and make her baby sleep song, but her cries weren't normal; they were the kind that pierced my heart and gave me physical pain. I sat at the top of the stairs and thought about all of the terrible possibilities; the things that my rational brain knew hadn't happened to her, and that my mother-brain imagined in vivid detail. I cried in frustration and exhaustion and confusion.

I went back to where Christian was sleeping and sobbed hysterically. I didn't understand, I didn't know what to do, I couldn't listen to her anymore, I couldn't do nothing, I was afraid of doing the wrong thing, I was worried about her. Christian, being the incredible husband and hero of mine that he is, took charge; he told me to sleep and not worry anymore. My love for him grew three sizes even before I was finished blowing my nose.

It turned out that I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't not worry, but Christian's quiet compassion helped to calm me. I got up again, my mind resolved. I went in to my dear Maggiebaby and held her tight. She put her arms around my neck and clasped fistfuls of my shirt tight in her tiny fists, making small sad baby sounds. We sat down in the glider and I held her against my chest and we rocked and rocked and rocked until she fell -- finally -- asleep.

As we rocked, I tried to remember the last time she had allowed herself to sleep on me. I wondered when she might again. And the word that kept coming to my mind was "goodbye." So before I put her back in bed, where she slept peacefully the rest of the night, I talked to her in my mind.

Goodbye to my little tiny baby, you will soon not be a baby anymore. You are growing up so fast. Goodbye to our time together when you needed me so desperately, and wanted me always more than anyone. Goodbye to the days when I gave everything I had to you and your brother and we just barely got by. Goodbye, my sweetheart newborn, my very first baby, the heart of my heart.

I will be your mama forever {thank you for making me a mama} but you will grow up healthy and happy and strong, and you will not stay my baby. I love you so very much, darling.

*beautiful mother & baby photo by DelaLane Photography