A daily...meh, weekly dose of babies, reality, and love.
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

5 months came roaring in...

Monster outfits courtesty of her cousins, by way of Uncle Robert and Aunt Malia two Christmases ago.
These bad boys are getting their use, you guys. 

Today was one of those fleeting days when I start to panic. 

Maybe it's because Clara turned five months old yesterday. (Happy Birthday, Smoochie!)

Or maybe it's because Clara wore her first pair of skinny jeans today. (There is no happiness like a package in the mail, full of Baby Gap skinny jeans from Nona and Poppi. I might have danced around and made her try ALL of them on, despite loud protests.)

Maybe it's because I had to leave Clara for an entire TORTUOUS afternoon of class today.  How did I ever think I wouldn't want to stay home with my kids?
(Hey, not a mom yet younger Jessie- just you wait.)
Thank the Good Lord I get to leave my daughter with my own wonderful Mom. There is no baby sitter like a grandma, am I right?

Maybe I can't handle my friends' "new" babies turning one years old, and people I was pregnant alongside getting pregnant again. I just want to hold my hand firmly to the sun and shout "HEY! FLAMING ORB OF PROGRESS! STOP MOVING! I NEED MORE DAYS WITH MY BABY!"

But time keeps rolling along. Clara keeps changing and growing up.
And quite frankly, it's terrible.

So, in order to combat this awful grasping feeling in my sad soul, I will be thankful for good things in our life lately.

-Clara is learning to sleep again. In her own room, which we secretly hate, but we know it's for the best. 'Cause the parental unit up in heeya is tired, folks. Sweet dreams, Smooch!
-Spring semester started this week. My schedule is set up so I'm only gone half-days, four days a week, with my mom and sisters taking care of the baby while I'm gone. There's enough to be thankful about in that sentence alone.
-I've seen a few miracles this week and guess what? I WORSHIP A GREAT BIG AMAZING GOD!
-You guys. Clara is getting SO fun. She pretends to walk, pretends to talk, loves getting tossed around, laughs when we tickle her, laughs when we 'sneak' up on her, laughs when we kiss her. Sam and I full on sprint to her nursery when we hear her waking up from naps, fighting at her door to get in first. Because whoever walks in first wins the "great nap, feeling good, oh HEY MOM AND DAD!' smile that she throws out- and it is the absolute best.
-Since Clara is going to bed at a reasonable hour now, and sleeping in her own room, Sam and I have more time together at night. And also an empty bedroom. So. You know. Read the blog title.

Today is fleeting, and so is every other day. I have to pause, look around, and REMEMBER these moments with my teensy Smoochie monster. I must!
I will!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

are you a bad mom?

Bathtime at our house fills the better part of an hour. Sam likes to tell Clara she's at the spa. It starts with both of her parents proclaiming her beauty as we remove her tiny pants and shirt, chewing on the tender heels of her feet (yes, chewing. we're super weird over here). Clara laughs and shrieks in her miniature bathtub filled with warm water, looking back and forth at our faces while her baby talk echoes off the shower walls.

Sam and I kneel on a bath mat beside her, shifting our knees on the hard floor, commenting on how much her hair is growing (ha!), how chubby her thighs are getting, and how much longer she looks in the tub compared to when we first brought her home. We wrap her up in an oversized pink towel that has her name stitched onto it and we carry her into the nursery, where we spend twenty minutes tending to her needs.

Aquaphor glopped onto her cheeks and nose, a combatant to the dry winter air.
Fragrance-free, dye-free lotion smoothed over her stomach, her chest and back, her tiny symmetric toes.
Thick paste rubbed on her booty to prevent rashes.
We fasten on a new diaper and zip her into clean, warm pajamas. We read and sing and pray, wrap her tight in a soft swaddle blanket, and tip-toe out of the quiet nursery after tucking her into the crib.

A few nights ago, a few hours after Clara's bedtime routine ended, Sam and I huddled close in our flannel sheets and whispered in the dark. Sometimes he reads news stories to me from his iPad when we get in bed, and that night he shared a story about a young woman and her boyfriend. These two teenagers were found unresponsive in their home due to copious amounts of marijuana, and then arrested. The girl's baby was asleep in the home, also completely unresponsive.

Here's the part that really gets me.

The police discovered the baby, alone and naked in a playpen, suffering from "what police describe as severe diaper rash." (Idaho Statesman online)

I know there are lots of really big problems in the world. In fact, I avoid the news for that very reason. My main source of information are those times with Sam when he reads the news directly to me, and he usually skips anything that involves kids. And this wasn't even the most horrific kid-related story in the weekly news cycle, to be honest. But I can't seem to shake my emotional response to that baby and the diaper rash.

I'd like to yell at that mother. I'd like to grab her skinny little 18-year-old arms and shake some sense into her, tell her to leave the moron boyfriend, to appreciate her life, to appreciate the baby that SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE WOULD DIE FOR THESE DAYS. I want to take her baby away and raise it, or give it to one of my sisters, or give it to someone who would never let it cry itself to sleep, naked and alone. Someone who would put medicine on that baby's bottom before a diaper rash could even happen. I want to call this girl a bad mom.

And maybe she is a bad mom.

Or maybe she's not.

Maybe I don't know the whole situation here (I don't) and maybe I don't know what's happened in her life (I don't) and maybe I don't actually know what's best for that baby. My friend Cassidy worked as a domestic violence advocate, in a secret shelter that provided a safe haven for abused women. I've debated many times with Cassidy, arguing the "rights" of a mother to her children, the merits of Child Protective Services, the mess of the foster system, and what society is supposed to do with parents who don't take care of their kids. Cassidy and her co-workers stood up for women who could not stand up for themselves, and she fervently believes that a child needs to be with their mom if at all possible. I tend to lean the other direction, wanting kids to be raised by good parents who make good decisions- and if that's not their biological mom or dad, then so be it.

Sam and I were not born knowing how to take care of Clara. We learned from our families, how our parents raised us and loved us with all their hearts. And we live in a community of people who value children. We know how to do a bathtime routine because we watch our friends do bathtime with their own kids. We know that Aquaphor is magic for our daughter's skin because our friends are nurses and doctors who share that information with us. We know our baby is a precious gift because we have friends and family who spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to have their own children, through special doctors, fertility treatments, and adoption.

So are we better parents than the two who were arrested last week, or do we just have deeper resources? Better examples to follow? And why, WHY, does Clara get to be in our house, while that other baby has to suffer with parents who don't appear to care about its well-being- at least, not care enough to change a dirty diaper?

The truth is, it doesn't matter. Because I don't get to raise that other baby. I don't get to fix that diaper rash. And I don't get to decide whether or not that young woman is a bad mom. I have been given the same opportunity she has; to be a parent. What we do with that privilege is between us and God. No one else.

I've been praying for that little family. They need help, and that baby needs someone to care, to protect it. But in the end, that baby and our baby will both grow up and become adults. And while I'd like to think that my parenting style, my bedtime routines, and my sacrifices for Clara will decide who she becomes, I know that's not true. My daughter might end up making very bad decisions that break my heart. And the other baby? The one naked and alone in a playpen? That baby could end up changing the whole world.
WE DON'T KNOW what will happen. They will choose. Not us.

After all, parenting is merely a shaping mechanism. We try our best to influence our kids, and we share our love and advice with reckless abandon, we make small mistakes and huge ones, we do our inadequate bests...but someday our kids will leave. They will take what they heard and decide what to do with it, and none of that is up to us. This is a terrifying thought, but it's the inevitable order of life.

There might be good moms and bad moms. There is probably a line we could draw, blurry and uneasy and arguable. But what's the point? My job is to love my baby, and to love other peoples' babies when given the chance. We have to help each other, and we have to give each other grace. There will be mistakes and missteps and triumphs and satisfactions for all of us. So I'm just going to choose to be thankful for my own little family, and to be a safe place for other moms to land, in grace and love and patience; for myself and for them.

That's what God asks of me, after all.
I might as well listen and let Him take care of the rest.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

sure, smooch, you can walk.

Clara, bless her little baby heart, thinks she can walk. We discovered this when our friend Travis held her fingers while she 'walked' across our couch a few months ago. I laughed and said that Travis was just moving her feet...like a ventriloquist...Sam does not let me forget that confusing accusation.

My 4 1/2 month old daughter is pretty convinced of her mobility, and I'm obsessed with this song I heard on a tablet commercial, thus...this video!

Enjoy a peak at the rolls on those little Smoochie thighs - and also a guest appearance by my mommy cleavage.
You're welcome. Or, I'm sorry, depending on how you came across this URL in the first place, I guess?

Have a happy day, friends :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

sleep training

And by "sleep training," I mean this:
 10 easy steps to do a really bad job at getting your baby to remember how to sleep through the night. 

1. Put Clara in her crib while she's still awake. She's fallen asleep on her own for months, in our room, so no big deal. Except now she'll just sleep in her own room. Perfect.

2. Get emotional when my husband, the man who had not twenty minutes before assured me that he supports me in whatever I think is best for our daughter, rolls over in bed to tell me, "I hate not having her in here. It's awful."

3. Cry myself to sleep.

4. Stumble into the nursery at the 2 a.m. feeding cry. Try not to nurse her. Fail.

5. Sigh, throw back covers, and hurry into the nursery at the 3 a.m. not sure what is going on cry. Can't handle her being so far away. Return humidifier, blankies, and baby to their proper station, right next to my side of the bed.

6.  Blearily shut myself and the baby back into the nursery at the 5 a.m. no reason at all cry. Try not to wake up Sam. Fail.

7. Supposedly devastated child pops her head off my shoulder and throws a BEAMING GRIN to her father as he walks through the nursery door. He tries not to laugh. Completely fails.

8. Hand baby to Sam. Announce that if they are so happy to see each other, then they can enjoy their time together. Fall back into bed.

9. Listen to Sam shush the baby back to sleep and put her beside us in bed.

10. Feeling as though I've been hit by a bus or perhaps drank the entire contents of a Las Vegas swim-up bar, I wake up beside this little unrepentent zebra in the morning:

I am tired. I am very, very tired. My daughter used to sleep all night, which means that I, too, used to sleep all night. And now we exist in some sort of Gauntanamo twilight zone, where Clara is President- nay, Dictator- and recently passed "enhanced interrogation techniques" legislation.

After speaking with her pediatrician (yes, the attractive one...he probably thinks I make up reasons to prolong her appointments) and my wise friend Hollie (who is currently raising twins a few weeks older than Clara), and reading Dr. Sears' advice, and reading about Crying It Out, and laughing my way through this website  that Hollie recommended, here's what I decided.

1. Clara is too young for sleep training. (4.5 months)
2. Clara is too small for sleep training. (12 lbs)
3. Clara keeps waiting to eat during the day, going almost seven hours at a time without any food at all. She wants the breastaraunt (not my term, but just fantastic), not the bottle. Which means she needs more food at night. Which means night nursing isn't over.
4. Clara is an adorable, fun, talkative, dramatic, Smoochie doll baby who we are crazy about...but that doesn't mean I'm not allowed, every once in a while, to "feel stabby." As the author of that great website so aptly puts it :)

Smooch. You are so wonderful. A gift from God. An answer to many prayers from many people. A light. 

But also, in the dark of the morning, when our house is quiet and even the refrigerator has gone to sleep but still you fuss and cry...

You are the worst.  

all the love in the universe, 
your mama

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Friday, January 11, 2013

49 stones

I was surprised when Sam broke up with me on that June day all those years ago. I knew I was going to marry him, and here he was, ending our relationship.

Over the phone. 

I hung up, sat down, and cried. Wept. Ugly, stinging eyeballs, soaking wet pillow case WEPT. I mean, I was going to marry him, you know? This guy on the other end of line, stuttering over shockingly potent cliches like "I'm just not ready for this" and "You deserve better." I was supposed to be with him forever. I glanced down at forever, now shattered all over my bedroom floor. Huh. 

So I left the state. Crossed an ocean. 
Moved in with a sister. 
Found an island. 
Made some friends.
Went ahead and kissed a few of them. 

This is the part of the story when Sam makes another phone call. When Sam buys a plane ticket. When Sam and I fight in the warm wind of a Sunday morning beneath a banyan tree, when I say what are you even doing here, and he says he loves me. 

Well, I say. I love you too.

On another warm and windy day, a Friday afternoon five years ago, Sam and I stood on a beach on that island and promised before God to love each other forever, no matter what, sick or well, rich or poor. Then we put 49 stones in a glass vase. 28 small stones from Sam, one for each year of his life. 21 small stones from me, one for each year of my life. Weighing those stones in my hands now, hearing them clink against the rounded bottom of the vase, I am struck by the way these years moved towards us. Our five year anniversary plans always involved a visit back to our island, back to the sun and the banyan trees. Instead, here we are, held tight by a tiny girl and the happiness that shivers down our spines when she yawns and smiles as she stretches awake. 

Bad times have passed through this house. Grief and despair, for ourselves and others, crept through the floorboards and sat heavy on our furniture more than once these last five years. Joy came too. We sang and we danced and we fought and we made up, and we ate and we drank and we toasted glasses for success. We have problems. We pray. We have triumphs. We rejoice. We have our God, and if He is for us, then who can be against us?

And wonderfully enough, we have each other. And it definitely is wonderful enough :)

It's just the beginning, really. And if the first few chapters are meant to pull you in for the rest of the story...consider me hooked.

Now for a ridiculous slide show, wherein Samuel has hair, we wear too many costumes, 
and generally have a pretty great time together. 

Happy Five Year Anniversary, Mr. Horney! 

song credits: "I Always Knew" by The Vaccines

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

sorry smooch

I cannot tell you how many times in the last few months I have looked at something or somewhere or someone and thought to myself,
"You know what would make this even more beautiful? MY DAUGHTER." 

Clara, I'd like to introduce you to a new season: winter. I know you are cold and wish I would take you back inside, but we must photograph these moments together. For posterity. And cuteness. You'll understand someday...probably around the time you can feel your baby fingers again.
your terrible mother

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

today in the bathroom

I still have a year left of college. This would not be the case had I actually GONE TO CLASS my freshman year (insert imaginary slap here, right across 18 year old Jessie's face). But alas, here I am, 26 years old and finishing up my degree. I took a few years off for a full time job running an after-school program, but I've been back to the books since last fall. Sam and I have put a lot of money and time into my education, and we're both excited to finally be looking at the end.

You might be wondering why I didn't wait to have a baby until after I graduated, to which I say, "Dad, is that you?" Here's the thing. I knew I could finish school with one baby. Probably not two. So we decided to try and get this family started, and I would work hard to graduate before another Horney made their way into the world. Granted, it probably would have been easier if I'd waited, but you guys. Look at her.

Worth it. Totally worth it.

I'm taking an intersession class that started today. Intersession classes earn you 3 credits in 3 weeks, which makes for a bananas work load. It will make the rest of my spring semester more open to be home with Smoochie, so again- totally worth it. But it's also a little complicated for breastfeeding.

Yep. Here's comes a boob story.

Today at school, I found myself standing with my shirt pulled up and a baby bottle attached to my chest, the steady pulsing of my breast pump echoing across the cracked tile and cold ceramic toilet of the last stall in the women's restroom. We had a 15 minute break during our 3 hour writing class, and I needed to take care of my milking as quickly as possible. In a stall. With an electric pump. The similarities to a dairy farm were so astounding, you could have sizzled a brand across my ass and called me Bessie and I probably wouldn't have noticed.

As I closed my eyes and thought about my daughter, conjuring up how she smells and feels in my arms when I nurse (I'd heard that helps when trying to pump) I tried to ignore the other patrons coming in and out of the bathroom, peeing and flushing right next to me and my little lactation station. The break drew to an end and I willed my milk to hurry and finish squirting into the bottle so I could get back to class on time. I heard someone washing their hands, and waited for the tell-tale squeak of the door to shut as they left. Instead, I heard a woman's voice.

"Are you pumping milk?"

I opened my eyes in surprise. And embarrassment.

"Yeah, I am." I laughed a little to make myself feel less mortified.

The unseen woman paused, then spoke again.

"Listen- my name is (  ) and my office is down the hall. (she gave me the office number) You can pump in there if you want to, anytime at all. I have a private space for you to sit with a nice view of the river, and a little fridge you can keep your milk in until you're done with class. Come by anytime and let me know what you need, ok? It's better than doing it in a bathroom, believe me. Been there, done that, and I totally understand.  I'd love to help you if you need it. It's hard being a new mom. (Gives me her name and office number again, then leaves.)

As the door squeaked close behind her, I zipped up my pumping equipment and lifted my bag off the hook on the back of the stall door. I had cried twice on the way to school that morning, not including the crying I did before I left my house. It's not that I think Clara won't be ok with other people- I have the best group of friends and family you could imagine, all willing to watch her anytime- it's just that, this is the end of a special time in my life. I'll never be a first time mom again. I'll never have four months at home with just my sweet daughter, getting to know each other and falling head over heels in love. I have to go out in the world. I have to finish school, and I have to be me without always having her.

So when a stranger talks to me through a closed bathroom stall door and offers a quiet place to pump breastmilk, my nutrition for a little girl who I miss so much my heart might stop in the middle of class...I'm thankful. Thankful for kind people. Thankful for the friends and family watching my baby. Thankful for my husband and his commitment to my dreams. But most of all, I'm thankful for a heavenly Father who knew just what I needed to get through this first day of school.  And who knows just what I need to get through every day. Thank you Lord.

Horney readers: Whether you hear the sad sound of a breast pump in a bathroom or know a friend who could use a hand, take the chance to be kind. The world needs it.

Smooch and I need it. :)
Love you guys.