Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Morning Mad Dash

Last night was strange and restless. Alex had a fever from Saturday through Monday. Kristiana had a fever Saturday and Sunday. Both of them seemed to have a little bit of an upset stomach and the sniffles. They were both feeling better yesterday, but their noses are still running. Now Andrew and I both have what they had. Our sinuses hurt, my glands are swollen. Now I truly empathize with the kids.

Last night both the kids slept with me and Andrew slept in Alexander’s bed :-) Kristiana literally nursed all night long. I think it was her attempt at keeping the snot from blocking her nose. If she kept swallowing, she would also swallow the snot. Alex—I do not know what his problem was. He just woke up every once and a while and would cry, and I would hold his hand and tell him it’s okay and he would go back to sleep.

All night long it was hot and cold and I had children strewn about my bed in various positions. Each time I woke, I kept wondering when the morning alarm would sound. It never did. Kristiana began to coo and I realized this was my alarm. At this point, I reached over to the nightstand searching for my cell phone to check the time. It was 5:58 a.m. “This is a good time to get up. If I move quickly, I can fit in a jog.” So I did. I ushered sleepy children (who almost immediately acknowledge my absence from the bed) from room to room. We arrived at the back door, Alexander was still not sure what is going on. I do not usually wake him up until 7:15 a.m. “Do you want to go outside with Mummy?”

Excitedly he replied, “Yes!”

“Okay, go put your shoes on.”

“Yes, yes, Mommy, put your shoes on.” He pointed with a serious visage toward the shoes. Some how I manage to change the baby’s diaper, get his shoes on, my shoes on and a juice into his hand, and we went flying out the door. Now I had to assemble a double jogging stroller—an engineer type designed it, but he did not design it for the multi-tasking mum with two babies in hand. After some struggle finally I was on my way jogging in the cool, dark, morning air. It was 6:15 a.m. “How did I get going so quickly?” Alexander was quite surprised it was still dark.

We moved quickly toward the track. I would guess it is 400 meters from the house. It’s down the way and across the busy central street in our suburban town. There’s hardly any traffic at this time. I was three quarters of the way there. “Oh crap! Skunk! I knew I should not have come this way. Oh thank goodness. It’s a baby and it’s running away.” (I saw the mama skunk as road kill last week. That skunk probably won’t bother me anymore.)

I jogged one mile. Always as I hit the second turn I say a prayer. It’s usually a prayer for my own soul. Alexander was not happy about the prayers. He was not ready to pray. He wanted to get out of the stroller . So I let him out and left him on the track. He was starting to be an unruly two-year-old. I jogged two more laps and then saw him running toward me diagonally across the football field. The high school football coach jogs there in the morning too. As he passed by he commented that Alexander ran fast. I agreed with him. “Are you ready to get in the stroller and go home?” After some coaxing he did get back and the stroller and we jogged home. The sun had come up and Alexander was excited to see that we were outside. He had not put together that the nighttime outside is the same as daytime outside.

Once I arrived home, the real race began. “Okay, make the coffee, Renee!” (still talking to myself). All the while, the baby is on my hip.

I hear a little voice, “French toast, Mommy!”

My monologue begins again, “Okay, okay. French toast, Coffee! baby bottles, breakfast.”

“DEEeeedle Eeep! DEEeeedle Eeep! DEEeeedle Eeep!” Andrew’s alarm began to sound. “Boom, boom, boom.”

“Oh good, Andrew’s up and coming down the stairs. He never gets up that quickly.” He has somewhere to be this morning. It’s his first day teaching the community college classes. “Honey, you want toast?” I made Alex and Andrew breakfast and packed up everyone’s bags. Time to shower—the fastest shower and dressing known to working-woman-kind. Baby had to come with me. It’s easier to keep her happy that way.

After some fussing and bribing to get Alex dressed, somehow we all managed to be in the car by 7:45 a.m. Time to go. “Daddy has to be at school by 7:50 a.m.” The school is one block away. It’s the first day of school for everyone.

“WAAHH!” Both kids crying mad in the back seat.

We drive around the corner and see the biggest traffic jam you’ve ever seen in a small town. “Frak it!” Andrew exclaims. He jumps out of the car, grabs his things and begins walking. He didn’t want to walk, because he didn’t want to be sweaty on the first day. It’s a half mile walk in 80 degree weather. In the end, the students did not arrive to class until 8:40 a.m. Class started at 7:50 a.m. I think the system is broken. Another teacher told Andrew that it only lasts two weeks. But, if you have to waste two weeks with that nonsense, the system is broken.

I sat in traffic another 15 minutes to the daycare, which is usually a 5 minute drive. The kids both cried when I left them in their classrooms. Alexander has a good time at preschool, but does not like how he is simply thrust into an immediate social situation (that’s my speculation based on his behavior, since he wants to go, and he's happy until he gets to the classroom and sees the kids and shuts down and begins to cry.)

What a mad morning.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alex Did You Do This?

Alex watches the movie cars a lot. He has a lot of toys from the movie. It started with one car and one thing led to another and our two year old, the con-artist, convinced us he needed others. Now he has this many.

My husband came into the living room tonight and asked Alex to pack up his cars into his back pack. Then he looked at the cars and said, "Alex did you do this?" I looked over and a said,

"What did he do?" Alex replied,

"Ya, they're racing?"

Look how each car is just a little bit ahead of each other like a race. It's cute, because he was imagining a race just like the movie. But, it appears a surprise dark-horse, Mickey Mouse, top center, edged out the "Cars" competition.

P.S. Feeling sad tonight because both the kids had fevers today and I had to miss a friend's wedding. :-( I hope people took good pictures.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mystery Diagnosis - Kristiana

I feel bad that I have not posted on my blog for over a week. This is a pity post—I pittied my lonely blog. So this is my answer to the pitiable blog.

Kristiana has been REALLY fussy lately. It started last Friday. She screams her head off when I am not holding her and sometimes she screams when I am holding her. On Saturday and Sunday she and I barely slept at all. I began to suspect that one of her ear tubes had fallen out already, since every once and a while she would rub her ear. I took her for a visit to the ENT doctor and he said her ears look great and the rubbing is probably a little fluid in the caverns of her ear canal still drying up. I could use ear drops if it seemed to really bother her. That night I put drops in her ears and it seemed to help. Since the doctor visit I have only seen her rub her ear once or twice.

The fussiness has continued, although we have gotten a little more sleep. I have tried to figure out what is going on with her. I have investigated teething since she does not have any teeth yet. It still looks like none are coming in. I have investigated gas, but patting and burping don’t seem to help. I have suspected allergies. I gave her some benedryl and that quieted her. Ten minutes later she was out like a light. Then I realized, that doesn’t tell me anything, because benedryl will knock anyone out.

She does not sleep at daycare except for a couple of cat naps, so she always comes home and wants sleep and nurse. But, I can’t stay in bed with her nursing her the whole evening, because we have another child who also needs attention. I visit her several times before I go to bed and at that time she comes to bed with me.

She certainly has been clingy. She began going to a different daycare this week. At the other daycare one of the workers was like a second mommy to her. They were great with babies, but Alexander did not seem to get what he needed there. So for now my answer to her fussiness is to hold her and be with her as much as possible. Although I think that there may be more to it, because when she gets fussy she seems to be in pain.

My diagnosis is severe "separation anxiety" typical of babies this age. Possibly coupled with any combination of gas, teething, boredom or allergies. My treatment is to give her the attention she craves, because every complaint from a baby is real.

We have a wedding to attend this weekend and I was not going to take the kids, because it an evening event. But now I am going to take Kristiana with me. Babies are protable and can sleep anywhere. Alexander will stay home with his favorite babysitter.

If there are any other thoughts from medical professionals, or experienced mommies I am open to your thoughts.

The Campaign for Work

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Happy Little Hobbites News

Kristiana had tubes put in her ears on Monday. She was a little fussy on Monday, because of the anesthesia. Tuesday she was a very good girl. She clearly felt better. And last night she slept through the night for the first time since she started getting ear infections way back in February. Praise God, Alleluia. Her parents are finally going to start getting some sleep...okay, Kristiana too.

Kristiana has also becoming a little mover and shaker. She has officially started crawling, but she doesn't crawl for long. She usually uses her crawling skills to crawl over to furniture to pull up on. She has become very skilled at furniture surfing. There is some motive to her furniture surfing too. She usually is after her big brother's toys. They are much more interesting than her own. Of course, Big Brother is not at all happy about her interest in his toys. We just try to teach him to share with her.

Alexander has been very successful with his potty training. He will not put on underwear for his parents, but he'll put them on at preschool. He has not mastered the whole art of using the toilet, but that will come with time. He has had a very strong start. All together, Alexander is doing great.

I read in my potty training book (yes, I read books to learn how to do something as simple as potty training. I would be a worry wort if I did not learn about what the "experts" say, and in turn I would probably make Alexander a basketcase) that even though most kids can learn potty training in a weekend, they do not master it for 3-6 months. Which means that they will still have accidents; It may take them time to learn to do #2 in the toilet; They will still wear a diaper to bed for a little while.

Alex also started at a new preschool on Monday, and he likes it very much. They have more structure. He seems to be flourishing. He used to come home very stressed out and cranky. After the first two days at the new preschool he has come home very happy and relaxed. Instead of telling me about how the one of the other kids hurt him, or how he had to go to time out, he tells me about new friends. The new preschool is closer to home and where my husband will be working, so hopefully my husband will be able to pick him up earlier more often.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Artist and the Cowgirl

Alexander has been having lots of fun painting lately and the paint cleans up really easily so why not paint. :-)

Kristiana received pink cowgirl boots from my sister for her birthday, but I couldn't wait four months to slip them on her feet and take pictures. It's okay though, because they are too big right now and she won't remember when she unwraps them on her birthday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Purpose of Life

The purpose of life is not to be rich; the purpose is not to be beautiful; it is not to be smart, beautiful or healthy. The purpose of life is not to be perpetually happy—or to live a life of comfort. The purpose of life is not even to have lots of children. No, the purpose of life is not any of these things. It must be something that all humans can see and do. It must be something readily accessible to all.

If the answer to the purpose of life were to be rich, then rich people would be happy, and they would be the ones deigned to live in Heaven. “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:25). We have seen time and time again rich people living tortured, unhappy lives. They have all the money any man could want, and could buy their heart’s desire. Yet, time and again we see that rich people are very unfulfilled people.

The answer to the purpose of life surely cannot be to have health, beauty or intelligence. Once again, we see people who seek health and beauty, yet can never achieve that vision of perfection they seek. For there is always more distance to run at a faster rate. Further a great many of us have poor health and physical disabilities, which are not our own doing—The disabled would never be able to fulfill the purpose of life if the purposed were to be healthy.

What’s more, students often seek to be the very best minds to have ever existed, yet they find they never seem to reach the top. And after opening every book of knowledge one can imagine, the student drops his shoulders in despair and still wants more. He realizes he can never know all that can be known (Ecclesiastes).

What if we all sought to simply be happy and comfortable? Well then we would truly see a sad and dismal existence. For in everything we would seek and seek and seek to happy and would only find that in the end it does not fulfill us—any happiness we gain, the happiness eventually wears away. The simplest way to induce perpetual happiness and comfort is to take a drug that induces this state. If this were the purpose of life, we should all take these drugs every day, biding our happy times until our end.

Children in themselves are full of joy, optimism and life, and bring these qualities to anyone’s life. Alas, children grow and these qualities fade. Also, do not forget the great pain children bring as well. It is a lot of work to rear children. The harder you work the more invested in them you are and the more pain it causes. Every time a child is sick, the parent aches with the child. Every time the child commits wrong doing, the parent aches at the wrong doing and feels blame. Further, others cannot bear children. The heartache of rearing or not bearing children is the greatest of all of life. This too is not clearly the purpose of life.

Of all the things that we are and do, what can be they purpose of this life? It must be something that is possible for the greatest to the least of us. It must be something that is not dependent on our happiness or suffering. It must not be dependent on whether we are fat or thin, healthy or sick, intelligent or simple-minded, rich or poor.

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.’ And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

The purpose of life must be to Love. It is something all humans can do, despite our happenstance. Love is something that we can do despite all the challenges life presents. For example, those who experience great suffering can choose to love others in spite of their suffering. If we love, we find that life is very fulfilling, and for those who believe in the afterlife it the key to the doorway to Heaven.

What is love properly understood? This is a very good question because there are those who have diseases (such as reactive attachment disorder), and brain injuries that prevent a person from feeling loving toward other people. So it would seem that not everyone is able to love. But, this is not love understood rightly. I argue that it is possible to love without the emotions associated with love.

People commonly think that love is an emotion. Let us first remove the emotions normally associated with love. Let us remove our own physicality too. The emotions confuse what love is rightly understood. Emotions are subject to error, because they are a physical reaction that occurs without reason. The mind can censure emotion using rationality. Therefore, love is not an emotion.

A lot of people understand love as being unconditional. This is a very good description of how love operates, but loving unconditionally is not love in itself. Unconditional love means that your act of love is not dependent on any other condition. But, unconditional does not define the act in itself.

Love is one of those things which cannot be strictly defined in finite terms. However for man, love is the pursuit of good in itself (1 Corinthians 13). That is to say, to love is to seek to know, in each and every thing, its perfection—its good. Should a thing have no good, then there should be nothing to love.

The purpose of life is to love.

(I could probably write a philosophy dissertation on this, but since I am not seeking a doctorate, I think I will just end it with that.)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Grandpa A Go Go

My father just left after a week long visit. Dad, Kristiana and I all went jogging at the track each morning at 6 a.m. while he was here. Dad pushed Kristiana. She would sing to him while he pushed her. It was a nice little thing we all did together.
Dad also helped start Alexander with potty training. Alexander was not much interested in actually completing this task until my Dad came along. Alex is about half there to taking command of this now. There are certain skills he is lacking. He's a bit like my husband, who potty trained on a cross country car trip. Everytime I take Alexander out I ask him if he would like to use the potty, he eagerly says, "Yes!" Peeing in strange toilets is exciting for these Claytons.
Thanks for the help, Dad.

Mama Always Said, “Be Nice to Your Siblings…”

Mama always said, “Be nice to your siblings, you never know when you won’t have them anymore.” I never listened to her. My brother and sister and I always spent a lot of time being really mean and cruel to each other. It was a sibling rivalry thing. We were all intelligent, sensitive and insecure. So we all were competing to be the best and none of us ever felt good enough, therefore we were just mean to each other.

Years later, as I returned to my home to after my brother's funeral, I was very mad at myself for not having been friends with my siblings longer. Mom was right. I will be saying the same thing to my kids, only I will add my little truth in this statement. "Mummy doesn't have her brother anymore and even though we fought when we were little, I would very much like to have him back to be nice to now."

When we became adults and after we all blazed our own individual trails in the world, we were finally able to become goods friends and respect each other. But we had already spent 80% of the time we knew each other being ugly. I try not to forget to tell my sister I love her, now. We never said that to each other when we were kids.

I read this article today on how to stop sibling rivalry. It had a lot of tips that I think will be very useful to any family. I began to tear up a little at the end as one of the experts pointed out, “’One thing you can't take away from your children is their shared history,’ says Faber. ‘No one else shared those years in that home with those parents. That's theirs forever. From that, they can form a very deep bond.’” It’s true, and one of the people I shared my childhood and deepest common bond with is not here anymore.

I think the aforementioned quote is one of the really important reasons people need to have siblings. It’s important to have someone to identify with. Being able to share what made you, you with another human being and having that person completely understand where you came from is so important in defining and understanding yourself.

I am setting out to create a deep, loving bond in my family. No one will stick their neck out for you like a family member. It’s really important to a person’s success to have the support of their family. Some have success in spite of their family, but it’s better to have your family to thank for it and share it. Because I am setting out to do this, I am sure it will all just backfire in my face. But with the Grace of God, and some of the tools in this article, hopefully I can change the past.