Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ben Reads Mr. Beeb a Book

Here is Ben and Mr. Beebs in action!

A Little Bit Crunchy

There has been a little more crunch in my step lately. By this I mean I do feel a little more inspired to hug a tree...Birkenstocks aren't quite as hideous as they once seemed and I am sure they ARE warmer with wool socks. Granola has been gracing our cupboard and eating meat becomes less appealing by the minute. WHAT??? Who said this? Where did this come from?! I would have thought I was a plastic embracing, convenient living, microwave loving, gas guzzling, energy waster, disposable diaper using woman. I have slowly started rejecting many of the conveniences however that are suppose to save time. Once I remember to check my emails, update facebook, set my PVR, unload the dishwasher while defrosting the chicken and make a phone call on the portable while I run out to turn off the sprinkler I am tired! I have started noticing a kind of comfort in eating real food...that I made myself. I can take pride in serving food that very recently saw the underside of the ground, not far from our home. I found it more rewarding to turn off the baby Einstein and take Ben out of the Jumperoo to read books and listen to music. Around the time Ben started resisting our five baby wraps I was excited to have another baby to savor their soft body weight on my chest and peach fuzz hair under my chin. I have begun to be conscious of new research on vaccines, organic food and energy conservation. I am interested in where our food comes from and how it was treated before it reached our table. I read the ingredients of my make up and shampoo and have begun gravitating to the "naturals" section. I chose a midwife this time over an OB in hopes of avoiding medical interventions that aren't absolutely necessary. I am paying attention to the infant and child rearing practices in other cultures that aren't necessarily the norm here but seem to make so much more sense. This wasn't an immediate change, it was a gradual return to more natural living. I appreciate authenticity, originality and simplicity now in a way that I had overlooked previously. It is a more "fresh" way of being and I am enjoying the new crunch to my step. It is interesting how more people have come into my life lately with the same ideas, appreciations and concerns that I can learn from. I have not as of yet however abandoned my razor or deodorant but I am interested to see where this transformation is leading.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Remarkable!"

Ben got a couple of new puzzles on the weekend. This is the first time he did them, he is a puzzle whiz and will tell himself it seems just how "remarkable" he is!

We agree Ben...we agree!

"Mr. Beebs"

Ben has a new best friend...it is a tiger that uncle Drew got him as a gift when he was a baby. It has been in the stuffed animal box pretty much ever since until he made an appearance last week. Ben dotes on this tiger. He basically gives him the ideal two year old life. Every request is met with "SURE!" (he will yell this out randomly and I assume that the tiger has made a request). He reads to him, plays with him, encourages him, pets him and doesn't ever make him nap. When Ben goes for his nap I ask him if he wants to bring the tiger...he says "No... he watch movies".

When he woke up yesterday he was looking around frantically for "Mistah Beebs". ???? I didn't know what language he was speaking let alone what he was looking for. He got more and more desperate until I opened the toy cupboard and there lay his precious tiger. "MISTAH BEEBS!" I have no idea where this name came from but perhaps as grandma suggested it is similar to "Mr. Neeb"? He clung to him...offended on his behalf that he spend the night in a cupboard. Mr. Beebs is now a part of our family. In Calvin and Hobbes fashion they consult, wrestle, dance and fight. Ben will throw him suddenly to the floor only to be overcome with guilt a moment later and sadly proclaim his apologies.
"Ohhh sorry Mr. Beebs! I so sorry! I kiss it now". And there they will sit.

Ben and Mr. Beebs favorite activity is snacking, where Ben will sit him at the table and make him snack after snack to which it appears Mr. Beebs enjoys a great deal.

They read books together over and over again. Ben will have Mr. Beebs hand him a book and then say "Oh thank you for helpin' me Mistah Beebs!"

My favorite "Mr. Beebs moment" so far would have to be when they finished eating thier fifth plastic snack and Ben put his chin in his hands and looked at Mr. Beebs. "What now sweetie"? he said.

It was too much cute to stand!!!

It is an interesting social observation. Ben practices the social skills and norms he is learning on someone other then his parents and peers, who don't always co operate with his desires. I am pleased to say that he is sweet, kind and considerate in his interactions with his "friend".

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Going Private

Well...the time has come...

If you would like to continue to have access to this blog please contact me in the next few days with your email address so I can invite you.

Thank you for reading!!!!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Walk in the Park

A friend joined me for some last of park play while the weather is still nice. The red and runny noses of our toddlers proved these days are nearing the end. She sent me some shots of Ben that she snapped today. We are getting this camera for Christmas this year (legitimatly...you may recall when we bought it last year- on credit...against our marital rules; a joint lapse in judgement...we came to our senses again less then half way home and returned it). I am excited to beautify my blog pages in a way the only a Cannon Rebel can...the camera of my amateur dreams (amateur as in I would be lucky at this point if I knew how to turn it on...but I will learn!- I have motivating subjects!)

I especially enjoy the walk to and from the park with Ben. It is about 10 minutes each way and long enough for him to jabber away about many topics. It gives me an uninterrupted glance into what is going on his head...a lot as it turns out. Goodness the boy can talk...his mother can barely get a word in, and this friends...as we know is quite a feat.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This one is for the Birds

There was a "bird man" at the park today. He breeds and tames budgies and other birds. He had 15 in total. He let the kids hold them and walk around with them...Jon and Ben were equally delighted to hold a couple of birds. We weren't sure if this man was doing this for money and when Jon went to give him a pocket full of his change I decided that perhaps it is better to err on the side of not in case he just happened to be walking through the park... although if people randomly handed me money I wouldn't have a problem whatsoever...but some may find this insulting I suppose.

"Fwinkle Fwinkle"

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I don't enjoy tests. I developed irritable bowel syndrome in high school...at the exact time that I was introduced to exams. I would be clutching my stomach in agony in a gym filled with my peers counting down the minutes of the first mandatory hour one MUST stay seated and answer as many answers as my distracted short term memory could spew out before the teacher with angel wings would appear at the podium and announce those who were finished could put up their hands to have their exams taken. Regardless of the amount of unanswered boxes remaining on my exams I had to take this opportunity. I didn't raise my hand, I simply walked out as quickly as I could; not out of simple rebellion, which in those days was reason enough to do most things unexpected, but simply to relieve the aching pressure on my cramping abdomen.

University was no better. I graduated a year early, accepting a general degree rather then an honors because I Could. Not. Write. Another. Exam. I selected courses that had less than 50% riding on the final exam since I wouldn't pass it. I found the balance however in keeping my marks in the 90's through the semester and then accepting a 70% overall when my hard work and nervous stomach were all averaged out.

It boils down to pressure. I can do things on my own accord. I cannot do something because someone told me to or I feel as though I have to. I rarely make long term commitments of a volunteer nature not because this doesn't interest me greatly but because they usually come with a "time commitment". I have trouble with the pressure of a commitment. An exam epitomized pressure and commitment.

My experience shows how misleading tests results are anyhow. I learned a great deal from many courses I took in high school and university however the true test of learning is taking these new found concepts, manipulating them into a way that suits ones understanding, influencing a preexisting ideology and applying said new concept in life. I could write about it, I could talk about it but please don't have me sit in a sweaty gymnasium in silence with the pressure of nervous energy cruising my intestinal tract while I am timed in the arbitrary facts I memorized 24 hours prior to arrival and will disregard in a shorter time following.

The last exam in university I ever wrote was the most relieving days of my life. I would never take another test again!

When I was pregnant with Ben the Doctor again began dropping the dreaded "t" word. My irritable bowel syndrome miraculously got left behind with my low test scores the day I walked out of my final exam. I could feel the familiar rumblings return. With a deep breath I told him "We will not be taking any tests". I did not have a good history with tests. I had surrendered to the fact that my test scores would likely always remain in the low range and this was not a result I wished to see in any capacity when it affected my child.

Jon and I did have a conversation regarding tests one can have done in the first trimester. They look for chromosomal abnormalities and physical malformations. An amniocentesis can further test for these markers. We decided in the same breath that once we committed to procreation we committed to the acceptance of the child given to us. We talked about the possibility of many issues and in the end remained confident that whatever baby we had would be perfectly...ours.

When presented with these same tests again this time our mindset had not changed and we knew now that we were capable of dealing with the stresses of parenthood and some surprises along the way. We also knew it was the best thing that could have happened to us. We were not worried. Until my ten week ultrasound. This was more of an "observation" to calculate gestation dates, this was not a test. It did show that the baby had indications of a "herniated gut". The midwife explained that the worse case scenario consisted of the growth of internal abdominal organs on the outside of the body. I would be transferred to specialized care, given a c-section at 36-38 weeks and the baby would have surgery shortly thereafter.
I felt sick.
I had been tricked into a test- these were results...and they were not good.

With a second and then a third (and forth...) opinion we were assured that there was nothing I did to cause this and there was nothing I could do to fix it. Stress though only would compound any existing problem. My stomach cramped.
I thought of this baby and the tough start he could face. I thought of the helplessness that has become the worst part about Motherhood. I found faith though that this baby was growing into exactly the person he was suppose to be. He was growing in the way that he was meant to and was given to us because we were equip ed to be his parents, whatever that entailed. I was scared but more then that I was confident. It was as it should be.

At 20 weeks we saw a healthy baby boy on the ultrasound screen, everything where it should be. There would be no transfer. No specialist. No c-section. No surgery. I felt like in a way I had passed this test; of faith, of unconditional love, of parenthood.

If I could talk to my seventeen year old self I would wish to reassure her that high school bears no resemblance to real life. It does little to prepare one for what is to come. Enjoy the tests of high school that call for pencils, erasers, bells and time limits. The tests of life to come are less controlled. They come with no manual, no study time and easy out no matter how sick they make you. These are the tests that matter in the end.

I am happy to finally have a few under my belt with a passing grade.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's Coming....

There is just hint enough in our trees to act as warning. Enjoy it while we can!!!
I do love this season, as fleeting as it is.

The Sting

With an abundance of wasps this summer and an allergic child who had not been tested for wasp stings ( a huge oversight on our part but not something we were thinking of in April...) I had been on high allert all summer waiting for his first sting. As the season's end approached I thought we had been lucky and avoided a 2009 attack. Not to be. Ben was on his way upstairs when he paused at the front door. I heard him begin to scream and knew immediantly what had happened before I saw the wasp still sitting on the screen. I ran to get his epi pen from the frige and picked him up. His finger started to swell bigger and bigger and then...nothing. I called the pharmacist (epi pen still in hand...) and asked if this was in fact a normal reaction. She said with isolated swelling and a few hives this was indeed what was to be expected. Because of his history however keep him on antihistimines for 24 hours but otherwise I felt it safe to stroke that off my worry list. Oh happy day!

The most memorable part of this incident was the little boy involved. Ben is facinated with bugs, he has a love/fear relationship with them and I assumed after this it would be more fear based. I had him on the kitchen counter waiting for a reaction while he sobbed clutching the affected finger. He paused for a moment and said
"Mommy, bug hurt too?"
"No Ben it was the bug that hurt YOU".
He got more insistant and desperate.
"No mommy, bug hurt, bug hurt! Mommy FIND HIM!"

I took him over to the door to see the wasp still buzzing around around outside, still marvalling at the fact that he was more concerned for the bug that hurt him then himself.

"Bug all better now Mommy?" He said satisfied with the insect flying around unfazed outside the door. A connection forged between them.

If only we could all have a touch of that degree of compassion. If only.

Our Handy (little) Man

Ben has discovered tools! Gramma came across Jon's old set and passed them on to Ben's delight. By his birthday he had graduated from his vintage Fischer price set to a full set of Dewalt tools just his size. He spends a portion of every day inside and out fixing "stuff". He knows the name of all the tools and what each one of them do. I have even found him sneaking into the garage this week to get into daddy's tools...I suppose chain locks are in order on the tops of our doors now that he has mastered the deadbolt- maybe I should have him install them!

Friday, September 11, 2009

And Ben Learns to Manipulate...

Ben had a checkered red sheet on his bed when he went down for a nap yesterday.

"Mommy, fire truck sheet on"?

"Next time you need new sheets we will put on the firetruck ones, these ones are still clean".

He laid down and that was that...so I thought. Little did I know he had begun plotting.

Late last night (for a two year old) Jon and I hear

"Mommy Daddy- Mommy Daddy I NEED YOU". He usually only says this when in fact he really does in fact need us so Jon went up.

"Jenn I need you"!

These are not words I like to hear.

I walk in to see Jon taking off the less favorable red sheets and Ben standing in a puddle of urine, holding a dry diaper in one hand and his pajama bottoms in his other hand.

We have discussed the privilege of wearing two piece pajamas to bed (they come with dump trucks, superman and fire engines and are more desirable then one piece jammies with nothing of note on them.

"Ben do you take your diaper off in your bed?"

"NOOOOOOOOO"! " That make mommy sad. That make Daddy sad. That make Grammie sad".

"You're right Ben, you keep our diaper on if you want to wear digger jammies".


I pick him up to put his diaper back on and he is avoiding eye contact.

"mommy sad now?" he asks without looking at me.

" Yes Ben, peeing in your bed does make mommy a little sad because I know you know not to do that".

"Sowwy Mommy".

He says nothing for a moment and finally looks at me with his tongue literally in his cheek and his eyes shifting to the side.

"Firetruck sheets on bed now?"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Grins and Giggles Compliments of You Know Who...

Ben oozes a type of precociousness that makes us laugh daily. He is quick with his two year old opinion and is not easy to reason with (I have NO idea where he gets this from...). He is demanding and expressive with a big ol mind of his own. Here are some recent gems...

***Ben has many words of his own, affectionately called "Beneez"

Some of my favorites...

Oatmeal "meat meat meal"
Medicine "medicincation"
Lobsters "water cows"
Bib "Boo Boo"
belly button "tummy button"

***Tonight I said "goodnight Benny, I love you". I shut the door and waited for the usual "night night mommy" through the door. Instead I heard a sob of protest that quickly turned into a hickuppy wail. Unlike him, I opened the door again- "What is it Ben?"

"Mommy say "sweetheart"... he chocked out.

ohhhhh "Goodnight sweetheart, I love you".
"Night night Mommy".

*** Ben has a new nut free trail mix he enjoys snacking on with seeds and dried fruit, complete with little dairy free chocolate chips. He was eating a bowl of them in his chair this afternoon contentedly and I half noticed him put the empty plate on the counter. A little while later he came up to me picking his nose that had dark brown matter caked around his nostril. He was picking at it with his finger and promptly putting it his mouth. I thought perhaps he had suffered his first nose bleed as a result of said nose picking and it was dried blood around his nose. I grabbed his finger before round two and he protested "No Mommy!" and tried to get back to his nose. I could smell his finger at that point and realized it was in fact chocolate. I suppose he thought that his nose was a good a place as any to store the rare treat. Judging from the amount I could see when I tilted his head back...there were more then a few up there, melted and dripping out slowly to be caught by his finger and popped in his mouth. I tried to dig out as much as I could with a Kleenex (to his yells to the contrary) and was grateful for the inevitable sneezing fit that ensued, spraying more then a few chips worth of chocolate out. I hope this is not the start of something new!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Grand and Mythical Creature

Ben and I (I being J(Ben's Dad)) were playing in the back yard yesterday, when we were met head on by a green monster from the swamp...it looked at us, blinked, flicked its tongue and then croaked at us. Ben had just had his first encounter with every boy's 'unicorn'...a frog.

"I hold it!! I hold it now!!!" was all I heard, so it was my turn to brush off those 20 years of rust in frog catching and show my little boy how it was done. After a little bit of wrangling and missed attempts we captured the beast.

Ben was quite intrigued to watch it hop in the jar we had imprisoned it in, he would jump and say "RIBBIT" as he watched with awe, then he repeated "I hold it!! I hold it NOW!!!!"

I gave him the run down of the frog safety tips...
1)Don't look it in the eyes
2)Don't squeeze it
3)Don't lick the frog pee of your hand
4)Don't kiss it, despite what Disney would have you believe it will not turn into a princess (I learned that the hard way)

He was now ready to fulfill his boyhood destiny by holding the frog. He reached his hand into the container and then...

The frog jumped at Ben with such might and determination that Ben pulled his hand back and his curiosity quickly turned to surprise and then terror as the frog went on the offensive with a mighty hop.

Through the sobs and looks of horror on his face I could still make out a broken "I hold it!! I hold it nowww".

We let our prisoner free and I'm sure we will be out hunting again next weekend.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Imagine What a Little Encouragement Could Do?...

Today I received the most lovely message on my answering machine. It came from someone I don't know well, who admittedly has become a "blog groupie". She told me of her admiration for my efforts, how much she enjoys my blog, my insights and the kind of mother and wife I am. I melted (and narcististically pressed "SAVED"). Once my head deflated a bit and I tried to humbly absorb the unexpected flattery I realized what stuck out the most was something she explained in passing, "I just wanted to tell you this because I don't think we tell each other nice things enough". I assume by "WE" she meant all woman. I thought about the last time I had pulled aside a peer; a wife and mother struggling with the responsibility of it all, and said "I notice you, and I think you are doing a great job", or simply "I admire your efforts"? Sadly I don't think I ever have. I think for the most part woman live on the defensive. We compete, we undermine, we quietly disagree or turn up our noses. We judge, we gossip, we nitpick. All this to build ourselves up, to grasp at some indirect proof of our success, if only because we have spotted someone doing a worse job on some level. It is a vicious cycle and the true root of our oppression. Imagine where we could be with some support? Imagine if we held up one another in validation? Imagine if we were there to catch one another when we fell, truly free of judgement or gloat? We would be powerful, amazing, capable.

As the recent recipient of such a rare moment of external validation, one that I wasn't even fully aware I was in need of I can attest to it's power. I am confident that I have the approval of my husband and son, I feel appreciated and that I am doing well. Why then the periods of self doubt, of insecurity, of meekness? That void was addressed today as it was filled, with a few kind and inspired words from a peer. It matters what "WE" think of one another. It is only "WE" who know the weight of the pressure to succeed, to do it all and to not let it break us. It is "WE" who know what it feels like to do it side by side and simultaneously doing it alone.

More then a boost to my ego I am most appreciative of the example set. It will serve as reminder to me not to, on some level, perceive another woman's success as threatening to my own, to not judge anthers weakness before understanding her story. I will not hold back words of encouragement, awe or congratulations again. It is not a competition. It is a shared objective. We can get there together.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Time to Come Up WIth Our New 5 Year Plan!

One September 4th 2004 I got in my car on my way to East Side Mario's. I had tediously stepped into the world of on line dating a couple of months before under the guise of "just seeing who is out there"...like 99% of the other potential hope fulls claimed to be doing. I was a full time student with a full time job. I did not have time for the kind of social life I had in the past. Unless the pizza delivery man was a real catch I was going to be successfully single until I graduated. I took the future of my lonely self into my own hands then, literally at the keyboard with a catchy introduction and a flattering picture I waited to see who was interested. I had a top ten list I would not budge from. I was not desperate or over 50...I had time on my side so I could be picky. He must be:
6-free of a criminal record (these are not in order of priority...)
9-enjoy dogs and children
10-think I am marvelous

Amazingly there were many men on this site that met much of the criteria. It was easy to see after a few emails and a phone conversation that a spark was missing. Then I saw his picture.
He was tall. Dark. Handsome. After spending most of the night hours and into the morning on instant messenger I knew he was both intelligent, funny and on the verge of thinking I was quite marvelous. Was he whole package though? He seemed too good to be true. We spoke on the phone. We continued to instant message for hours (to later find out he saved every one of these conversations). Three weeks later we set up a date. September 4th. 5:00pm East Side Mario's. He was half an hour early...I was five minutes late. I had to go back to the parking lot when I saw him. His grainy emailed pictures had not done him justice. He was REALLY tall, Really dark and REALLY handsome. I wanted to go home and get changed- get my hair done...get a nose job... I was ten minutes late now. This would have to do.

We had fallen in love over a screen and thus a hug nor a handshake seemed appropriate now that we were face to face. He went for the handshake, I went for the hug... We sat down awkwardly becoming multi sensory people. He smelled better then I imagined. His hair was shiny, five o clock shadow just right. His teeth were brilliantly white and a smile, when his eyes lost their nervous edge made me feel like I was glowing. When I spoke he listened, when I laughed he laughed, when his hand accidentally brushed across mine he jumped not quite immediately. There was a spark all right. There was a fire. I didn't want to complete a life without this man in front of me at my side. My Mother and God both witnessed my breathless exclamation; "I will Marry him. We will have lots of babies and be happy forever!" I did, we are and we will be!

We have done so much in the last five years; one eight month relationship, one fourteen month engagement, one wedding, two houses, four cars, one van, a puppy, four job changes and one and a half children later our dreams remain on course.

My feelings for the tall, dark handsome man of my dreams have only intensified as I have watched him grow into himself as a man of fatherhood, faith and family. I am so proud of him. I am so grateful for him, for all that he does and is.
Though intense, these feelings have settled into a place of comfort. It is when occasionally now he will look at me a certain way, he laughs just so or walks in the room at the right time that my stomach leaps in the same way it did five years ago. Those are the moments I am reminded how lucky I am. How lucky we are to have found what is worth more then all else. Love.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Stretch Marks of the Heart

My family is my world. Everything I do is for them, everything that brings me happiness is related to them. My hopes for the future revolve around them. Nothing makes me cry louder, love stronger or try harder then them. At the center of this world is the little boy I adore so deeply.

It was a different feeling then, that came as I watched that life changing line form on the stick early this spring morning. It began with a feeling of bubbly excitement, jubilation, relief and expectation. In the next moment however I was gripped with fear, anxiety and doubt. Was I enough? Could I love two in the same way I loved one? Could a bond that deep be divided. Would it mean I had to give up something, lose something with the first little boy who created in me his mother? I didn't know. In moments of enjoying the ease of parenting one I imagined what the future of two held.

It was with that first little jab, followed a few weeks later by a stronger kick that I felt a transformation begin. With the reminder of the little boy inside becoming as strong as the one on the outside I felt more then one muscle begin its stretch as the little boy grew. My middle began expanding as it has done before but I was not prepared for the muscle in my chest that began to grow bigger as well this time.

Last night I had a dream that we brought Gabriel home from the hospital. I stared at him for a long time in my dream and woke up with his face clear in my mind, the weight of him fresh in my arms. He had a startling resemblance to Ben but with more hair, a longer face and lips not quite as full. He was beautiful. I am anxious to see if this image I created of him is accurate?

I have found myself lost in thought and wonderment of this new little boy. With the pull of my heart as it grows to accommodate two I feel the confidence to bond with him. I can focus on the richness of our lives with more children in it. The positive things that come with a family of four. I am anxious to witness the relationship of siblings, of brothers. I can't wait to say "my boys". I am not afraid anymore. I know I will love them both together, I am enough...my world has grown a little brighter and a little bigger; my chest has the stretch marks to prove it.
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