To my Future Son in Law

My mother is all about the embarrassing pictures. She gets a huge kick out of them.  And she has quite a few of us.  So in that tradition, here are some great ones I got of Kira in the past week or so.  I am sure she will never forgive me, but I just couldn't help myself, it's in my blood.  Let the hilarity ensue:
She was rebuffed trying to pick my nose, so she picked her own instead.
Kissing lesson with her fish bath toy?
I don't even think there are words for this one.  My mom is all about the potty pictures though.  It is totally necessary we got one, lest we be disowned.

That was a newborn skirt.  i am not sure exactly where it came from, but she found it, managed to get it over her big old toddler butt, and then dance around in it.  I was amused.  Here she is messing up my pile of Goodwill clothes.

Run Away!  It's the sweater monster!

Hehehehehe...  And fun was had by all.

Fred Drama

If my house caught on fire, I can tell you what I would save, I wouldn't even think twice.  I would save Fred and Ned.  Unfortuantely, I would probably die trying to find them.
If you don't know much about our family you are probably wondering "what are these hiding creatures?".  If you do know us, you probably understand why I say that.  Fred and Ned are the glue that hold our house together.

This is Fred:

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Kira
Fred is Kira's very best friend.  She NEEDS him!  She gets quite dramatic when we can't find him (which seem to be always).  We had four....  Then three...  I think we are down to two now...  And I swear they hide.  Luckily, she is yet to differentiate between them, so as long as I have one, we are good.  She has, in fact, been known to wander around and find them all and cuddle them.  She also gets extremely distressed when they happen to fall under the bed in the middle of the night.  This has somehow happened multiple times and is also very distressing to mama when she can't find him in the dark either.

But that is neither here nor there.  Back to the point at hand:

This is Ned:

Really, Ariana could care less about Ned.  He sometimes amuses her, but what she really wants is the binky attached to him.  I can't take credit for this.  There were many moons of severe frustration as I frantically felt in and around the crib looking for the dang binky.  I tried hooking it to her shirt to no avail.  She would just roll over and pull it off.  Steve, brilliant as he is, came up with the idea to clip it to Ned, thereby making it much harder to lose.  For the record, the original binkies are still stuck on Ned, we haven't lost one since.  And I can almost always find it on the dark quickly, so that I can pop the bink back in her mouth and go back to bed, the most important thing in the mama life. Haha.  I told you, Brilliant.

Well, in the hubbub of trying to get out the door with two small children, Aria often ends up carrying everything with her in her carrier.  Well, just light stuff, like jackets we are bringing but not wearing, juice cups, and even (dum dum DUM) Fred.  Normally she takes no notice as she is generally grumpy in the carrier unless it is moving, however, yesterday something must have caught her eye. She found...  a Fred foot.  Both Fred and Ned have three little "feet", areas where the material is drawn together.  When Kira was younger, these feet spent an inordinate amount of time in her mouth (thus the nasty faded color despite my frequent washing).  Nowadays (and kind of more hilarious), the Fred feet spend most of their time in her ears or tapping against her nose.  These are our best indications that she needs a nap.  Strange child.  Anyway, since I can't seem to stay on topic tonight, Ariana found none other than a Fred foot and did what she does with everything: stuck it in her mouth.  Kira usually gets pretty upset if she sees anyone else touching Fred, but she was outraged to find someone else chewing on him.  She threw a huge toddler temper tantrum, yanked him away, and gave Aria a serious stink eye.  And then, she tried out the Fred foot.  Only to find that it was ruined. RUINED!  (insert all the toddler drama you can muster).  She threw him on the ground and has since had nothing to do with him.  Now, poor lonely Fred is hanging out in the laundry room waiting for a bath that will hopefully wash off all of the sister germs so that he can be played with.
Who knew toddlers could be so crazy/attached/dramatic?  Oh man, such fun to look forward to in about 13 years.  Steve and I both had to leave the room because we were laughing so hard.  Poor Kira and her cheating Fred.  Luckily, we have extras so the drama was short lived.  And they all four still love each other:


The results are in...

And I'm pregnant!  No, I am totally lying.  No more little ones for me for a bit.  Wouldn't that have been something though.  I gotta tell you, there was some part of me that was disappointed.  Ok, actually a big part of me that was.  And that makes no sense.  But it is still the truth.  I guess I just got used to the idea.  Maybe it wouldn't be so bad.  We would adjust, we always do.  We could have another little girl.  We would name her Raina Mae.  All three of them would be so close.  But, now, we will have to settle with what we have.   Fortunately, what we have is already amazing and often more than enough.  It's funny to me how things don't turn out like you planed them.  However, it has been my experience that when you let go and follow your instincts, things turn out better than you could ever dream.  Now if I could just figure out how to do that consistently...  


It's getting late..

But I feel like I have been neglecting the blog.  School started back last week and I feel like I am already up to my ears in work.  Ironically, I was just writing a post in my English class about how writing was such a great outlet and I love to sit down and unwind at the end of my day.  And yet, I haven't done it.  So, I figured tonight I should hop back on.  I am trying desperately to stay on top of things this semester to avoid the several meltdowns I experienced last semester.  Luckily, I like my classes a lot better this semester.
The schedule this semester does seem to have made a huge difference in my relationship with Steve.  I guess we weren't just putting off happiness after all.  We are so much less cranky.  Both of us.  We still need to tweak a few things, but the overall attitude in our house has become much more pleasant.  He is home on Thursday, but Kira is at preschool.  We got nothing accomplished today.  Which was nice, because we just hung around and got some quality cuddles in.  You know I love me some time with my honey.   But also sucked because we had about 8,000 things that could have gotten done.  But could shmould.  It was a great day.
It has been a great week.  I truly learned the value of friends this week.  I have missed my girls so much, but I got a chance to really reconnect with my playgroup this week (one of my goals for the new year).  I forgot how nice it is to have a set time every week to get some quality adult conversation.  And it is equally enjoyable to watch Kira interact with the other kids.  And have other kids to play with her so I don't have to.  Not that I don' love that, but every mama needs a break once in a while.  I can only sing 'Ring Around the Rosie' so many times before I am about ready to bring back the plague.
Yesterday started out pretty sucky.  I lost my temper with Kira, which seems pretty rare, but was out of control yesterday.  She picked up my full juice glass, then ignored my increasingly frantic demands that she put it down.  I went over and snatched it out of her hands, only to fling it all over the living room.  I almost certainly made a much larger mess than she would have.  The thing is, you want to scream at her, scream at someone, even more after something like that happens, but the only one I had to blame was myself.  We were rushing around the house, trying to get out the door to make it to story time at Barnes and Noble.  After a few quiet minutes in the car, I realized that I was flipping out because we were late for story time.  Infant story time.  What, are they going to send us to the principal if we are late?  We have to go to the playground instead?  I am still not sure why I let myself get so worked up about it.  I haven't been sleeping well.  It messes with my tolerance.  Luckily, I ran into a friend at story time that I haven't seen in way too long.  Ironically,we had been texting just that morning about how we needed to get together.  And, just as surprisingly, what started out as an awful day turned into a great one.  We went to lunch, shared our misery, then let the kids run out all of their energy at the playground while we had a wonderful chat.  Kira literally ran out ALL of her energy.  Right before we left, she literally laid down on the floor, face down and cried "Bye Bye! Bye Bye!".  Poor thing.  She had so much fun chasing 3-year-old Jonathan around though.  And I Loved seeing Issac, who is just a month younger than Aria and full of personality!  And adorably big ears!  If you have met my husband, you know I dig those!  Haha.  Anyway, praise the Lord for good friends.
But now I am tired.  Aria hasn't been sleeping well.  I haven't been sleeping well.  So I am off to bed, to hopefully not to toss and turn and wake up wandering around my house in the middle of the night.  (I have done it at least twice in the past couple of days, never a good sign).  Good night all.      


The Devil's in the Details

And some of the Greatest Joys of the Mama Life
Are in the small things...

Small feet
That go Pitter Patter
Pitter Patter

Small hands
And small stickers on small shirts

Small faces

Peeking around the Couch

Small bodies coming to get Mama

And even Beautiful (not so) small messes...

I have found 
one amazing part 
of being a Mama 
is finding beauty 
in the small things. 


I feel like writing, but...

I don't really know what to say today.  I wish I had something witty and interesting, that I would be an instant web success!  But, yeah, instead I have 2 snotty children and a sink full of dishes.  Again.  How does that happen?  I JUST DID DISHES.  I hate dishes.  If I wasn't so cheap or so poor I would throw them all away and only use things I didn't have to wash.  But then I would feel guilty because it's bad for the environment and I want my children to have a nice place to raise their own children someday...  Lord, I have a pang of guilt every time I pull off a paper towel, I can only imagine using only things I throw away. Ah, the mama life.  It's a pretty good life, I've got to admit.
I think I am getting less cranky.  The fog is lifting.  Bout damn time huh?  But I have found in the past few days, it is easier to smile, everything makes me laugh, I don't lose my patience as quickly.  Yep, folks, it's been a good time over here at the mama life.  I hope this post finds you doing just as well.


We finally cleaned the closet.

Sigh.  It was quite the job.  Since it was included in the part of our house that flooded, everything was strewn about as we tried to get stuff off the floor and out of the water.  Being as such, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go through and take out all of the clothes I have been desperately holding on to in hope that some day I will have the chance to flaunt them again.  But, I gave in.  I realize that even if I actually manage to lose the 30 pounds it would take for me to fit into those clothes, the trailer park is probably the only place that they would make an appropriate wardrobe.  I thought seriously about moving, but I was just too tired after cleaning out all my clothes.
When I got pregnant with Kira my boobies grew at an alarming rate, prompting me to buy a variety of bras in a wide range of sizes.  I have been holding on to each and every one of them, knowing that someday they will fit again and I can throw my granny bras into the river.  But today, I realized that is only a fantasy.  As Steve so aptly put it "you are never wearing that without the help of a very good doctor."  So I tossed them.  Which made me sad, I actually had some really nice ones.  Bras aren't really a thing you just dump off at Goodwill though, you know.
Ah, an era is gone.  I suppose it had to happen.  I have to be an adult now, dress the part an such.  I did use my Christmas money to buy some new clothes, which is fabulous.  And I got amazing deals from Express.  I went for their semi-annual sale.  I got 4 shirts and 4 undershirts for $95.  Excellent.  And they actually make me feel like a girl, not like a blob.  Extra Fabulous.  I am doing better to shower every day and even try to get some make up on once n a while.  It is amazing how much better I feel about myself.  My Lord, who would have ever thought I would have to make it a conscious goal to shower every day?  Ah, the mama life....

I am still a feminist...

but I am starting to have a slight change of heart.  Perhaps my previous belief was slightly left of right, you know...
I have always believed that basically men are equal to women.  I still believe this, but having witnessed it for myself, I realize now that perhaps we are built very differently.  My prime example was taking care of the children and the house.  Men are just as equipped as women to this.  Or so I once thought?  I am beginning to think God may have had a plan after all.  Or maybe that is just my life.
Here's the thing, Steve and I have a completely backwards relationship according to traditional standards in every other way.  He likes to cook, I like to build stuff.  I take care of all of our bills, he probably doesn't even know how much money we have in the bank.  However, in the past 4 months I have seen for myself why it is generally the woman who stays at home.  Don't get me wrong, I know the population of stay at home dads is rising, and I am sure there are plenty of amazing ones out there.  I am also quite positive they approach the situation much differently than their female counterparts.  And you know I think Steve is an amazing father.  He just can't manage a house.  He can't keep it clean, while taking care of the kids, while juggling the endless stream of balls in the air without at least a small breakdown, usually consisting of kicking the trash can.  Which he says he didn't do, but I know I saw.  
Men may think they rule the world, but women manage it.  Maybe I have just come to a new side of feminism.  Maybe I really am finding my true worth.  Let's hope that is the case.


Cali recap

We made it home safely and even pretty sanely from Cali.  The trip was great.  We had so much fun seeing everyone and definitely plan to make it back there much more often.   The girls surprised me by being perfect angels on the plane both there and back.  You would think they were seasoned travelers.  Anyway, here are some pictures to show off the highlights!
Grandma snuggling the littlest

The girls opening their mound of presents!

I love the shot of Caitlin.  It really shows her abundant energy!

The girls colored with such concentration.  Eventually Caitlin drew a line and forbid Kira from crossing it and messing up her masterpiece!

Kira called home at the airport.  That pay phone entertained her for our whole layover! 

"I didn't do anything...."

Ariana makes her escape.  "I'm going back to Grandma's!"

And finally our poor, little, worn out girl.  She was so excited to see Trixie!  We were unpacking and she was just a little bit too quiet.  We came out into the living room to find this!  Haha.  So adorable.

Ugh.  I have so many other things I want to write about, but tonight I am just too tired.  It will have to wait.  At least I know I have stuff to write about for the next few days!  I got one really exciting opportunity while in California.  I'll be sure to tell you all about it soon!  And, for all of you out there, who much like myself, are patiently awaiting an answer to that million dollar question I brought up before I left, I still don't know.  Next week I find out for sure!  I'll keep you posted!  Haha, I make joke.

My first crawling mishap and other California fun

19 months. I made it 19 months without either kid choking. Until yesterday. Thankfully we made it through with a surprisingly small amount of drama. But we'll get to that...
As we haven't made it out here to see Steve's family in four years, we have been running around visiting everyone. I have met people I didn't even know existed in his life. Although as I only recently found out he has 2 step brothers, I didn't find this terribly surprising. I keep saying Steve's family is incredibly functional, and it is, but there is another less normal side to it. His father took off and isn't really part of his life. However, recently his brother's wife, Colleen, has started including his aunts and cousins from that side in their lives, so now I am seeing a whole new side. The two aunts that we met were amazing, unbelievably friendly, and so grateful that we included them in our visit. It was nice to be able to go over there and let them meet out little family.
I always enjoy visiting with Steve's family. They are so much fun, and, very unlike my own family, don't seem to have to work very hard to like each other. They all give each other a hard time, love dredging up old memories and good times. I always laugh, even when I have heard the stories a million times.
The only downfall has been spending so much time in non-childproof houses. Grandma here is used to kids, but the aunts we visited were not. I think their grand kids are older, so they don't have to worry as much. Even with 6 eyes, it seems that we made quite the error watching two mobile terrors. We got in the car after an otherwise wonderful visit filled with lots of cookies and laughter. In the car, Ariana started coughing, then she started screaming. She hasn't been feeling all that well, so the coughing wasn't terribly surprising. I tried to calm her, but she became increasingly inconsolable. And then I caught a glimpse of something strange. I can't say exactly what I saw, but it prompted me to stick my finger in her mouth where I felt something sharp. I hollered up to Mona to stop the car, which she quickly did. I donned my red cape, pulled her out of her seat, and dug around until I could get the little piece of plastic out of her throat. Ok, so it wasn't exactly life threatening, but it still got my heart racing. Surprisingly to me, I was able to keep my cool under pressure better I thought. I think Steve was actually more stressed than I was, but that could be because he was in the front seat and couldn't really get in on the action as his precious daughter started gagging and I tried desperately to get a grip on something slippery. Anyway, crisis averted and a few minutes later we were back on the road, both girls happily munching away on a cookie.
Ah, the mama life. Hope everyone is having a happy Christmas. Or January for those not way behind!


California Dreams...

California has been both relaxing and tiring simultaneously. How that is possible, I do not know, but it is certainly the truth. We have reached the four day downhill mark. I don't know what it is, but from the collective experience of several mamas, myself included, four days seem to be the optimal vacation period for the younguns. However, as we haven't gotten out here in a number of years, that just wasn't enough time, so we have three days to go. The kids are adjusting surprisingly well. They are really enjoying the plentitude of attention they are getting. Being as they are both little mini divas, they are soaking it up and loving every minute.
As predicted, Grandma Mona does not have Internet. I don't even get good phone service! So I have been writing posts, but I can't really edit (or hardly even see what I am typing as the screen on my phone is still broken!) so I guess you'll have tons to read when I get back! Until then...


Adventures in the Mama Life

Ah, today fun was had by all.  We played at the playground in the mall, ate some delicious fast food, and I used the junior potty.  That's right.  Picture my big ole mama butt on that teeny tiny toilet designed for very small children.  Ok, picture may not have been the right word there.  No one really needs that mental image.  My bad.  But seriously folks.  Is it not the FAMILY bathroom?  And is not mama a part of said family?  And really, what choice do I have?  By the time I maneuvered my 'boat referred to as double stroller' into the cramped stall of the regular bathroom, I would most likely no longer need to use it as I would have already involuntarily relieved myself all over the floor.  Don't they know what having two kids does to your pelvic floor?!  Come on.  No, but really it wasn't that uncomfortable.  What was more uncomfortable was the toddler insisting on throwing small pieces of toilet paper between my legs the whole time.  AH, this is the mama life.
It was kind of one of those great days though.  I hate my double stroller (as evidenced in my previous comment), so normally I opt to take the single stroller and the sling.  So, the girls switch off.  At some point, Ariana was in the stroller while Kira ran around like crazy.  She was hilarious.  Every store we walked by that had music playing, she had to stop to dance.  She got in the middle of the walkway and got down with her super bad self.  It was hil-ar-ious.  Luckily, the only people wandering around the mall at 11am are grandmas and other moms, so everyone was quite charmed.  She is certainly my little diva.
It was one of those days when I think I could definitely do this again.  One more in the mix wouldn't be so bad.  Not like Ariana messed up the routine at all.  Ah, I shouldn't even go there.  Don't even want to think about it.  Steve and I had a bit of an incident.  The 'thing' (you know, the 'things'.  Doesn't anyone watch Everybody Loves Raymond?  Love that show.)  Back to the thing.  The thing that fell off right in the middle of that special moment.  And of course this couldn't happen on any regular day.  No, it has only happened that once and the ONE day happened to be the time I was most likely ovulating.  I really shouldn't tell you this, it is probably way TMI, but this is my space to vent about whatever I want to vent about and there you have it.  Terrified.  The worst part is waiting.  You can't know until you are so far, right, and that means another two weeks for me.  Hopefully the mere fact that I am throwing it out there means that I am not.  God wouldn't do that to us right?  Right....
We're off to Cali visiting the in-laws for a week tomorrow!  I am really excited.  Steve's family is amazingly functional.  It is fun to see how the other side lives.  However, I think Casa de Mona only offers dial up Internet, so if you don't hear from me, I am temporarily away from my desk.  :)


Sayonora 2010

and hello to 2011!  One step closer to the end of the world.  Ha ha.  Not that I believe that per se.  However, if the world ended in the near future, I would be pretty satisfied with my life as it stands.   Of course there are still some things I would like to accomplish should I continue to thrive, but for the most part, I have done what I set out to do.
I have to say though, I am glad to see 2010 go.  Glad to have an excuse for a fresh start.  Hopefully O can do it a little better this time.  I ate black eyed peas twice on New Year's Day so lots of good luck must be coming my way!  No, there were plenty of wonderful things that happened in my life this year.  The most prominent of course was the birth of my most precious second daughter.  Ariana makes me crazy, both in the good way and the bad way.  She is truly mama's girl.  You know I couldn't love my Kira-Bear any more, but Aria, she is all mine and there is something incredible about that.  Speaking of Miss Kira-Bear-Angel, she celebrated her first birthday this 2010.  So many firsts and milestones happen in that first year.  And I suppose continue to happen in the next as she seems to get that much smarter everyday.  
But there were other things too.  I think having kids really did put more strain on my marriage than I have given credit.  For the first time in our relationship, I feel like Steve and I are incapable of getting on the same page and staying there.  We both seem so frazzled all the time.  We are sleep deprived, cranky, and our Cortisol level is off the charts most of the time (indicating that we are definitely feeling some pressure.  Did you know it is scientifically proven that your body reacts to the sound of your baby crying?  Isn't the human body incredible?  The more I learn about the amazing intricacies, the more I wonder how people don't believe there is a God).  It has been difficult to adjust to new schedule, new lifestyles, pretty much a whole new life.  I know I am happy in it, even when I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, and I would like to think he is too, we just can't seem to communicate that to one another.  We don't seem to effectively communicate much to each other lately.  There are two things in my life that I fear above all else: something happening to one of my kids, and waking up one day to find that my husband doesn't love me anymore.  I think the second one puts a lot of stress on me as I am always looking for signs (and, let's face it, making up "signs") that he is losing interest.  And lately, neither of us seem to have the energy to put much into each other.  I love, love, LOVE having tiny babies.  I am one of those crazy people, I know, but I can't help myself.  I love the cuddles, the excitement when they do a new trick, the little tiny outfits and shoes.  I love staying up snuggling with my baby, feeding her, looking into her eyes, telling her I love her.  But somewhere in the midst of all of this, I think I lost myself.  I guess that is a pretty common occurrence in motherhood, but one that needs to be changed none the less.  I feel like I spent a large chunk of 2010 telling myself "it gets better after ORSE.".  (Side-note for all you Non-Nuclear Navy folks: On the boat that was the running joke.  The higher ups always said "things get better after ORSE", ORSE being the big Reactor exam every boat takes in order to continue the nuclear power program.  The thing is, after ORSE comes another ORSE and then another.  There is always something to keep the workload and stress level pretty even, and pretty high.  I'm gonna go ahead and say from experience, things only get better once you get out, and even then, you are probably just as stressed and overworked.)  I thought things would improve between Steve and I when he quit his job.  I understood that spending 60+ hours a week doing something you seriously dislike with people you find boring probably wears you down.  I get it.  But now, he works at Walgreens.  I assume it's pretty low key.  Why is he still so distant?  Somewhere, I thought these past few months having him home would be fun, time for us to catch up and reconnect, but it seems that we have just grown farther apart.  Now I tell myself and we have talked about how this next semester, when we are on better schedules, more suited to our own lifestyles, things will improve.  I truly hope so and I think we are still working towards the same goal.  I just don't want to go on for the next 10 years thinking it will be better tomorrow, or next month, or next year, and next thing you know things are so out of control that we can't get it back.  I realize young babies can put stress on anyone, I just wish I had more reassurance that it wasn't overwhelming our marriage.  I tried to talk to Steve about it last night.  Maybe I brought it up at a bad time, we were in bed about to go to sleep and it was late.  It kind of just fell out of my mouth.  He didn't have much to say about it.  I am not sure what to think of that in itself.  The subject has not been rehashed today, although I have uber aprehensive about it.  He seems to be going along his regular way, but I feel completely awkward.
Anyway, new year, new start.  New fights to have and make up over.  More chances to get it right this time, and certainly a time to get us on a schedule that works for everyone.  I suppose all we can do is love each other as much as we know how.  To wake up every morning grateful that he is still there, smiling, kissing me hello.  I feel good things coming to us this year.  Good things all around.  So happy 2011 everyone!