Monday, April 25, 2011

Joshua love

I love the way you smile at me in the mornings, peeking your little head over the crib rail, trying to maneuver your face through the rails to give me a good morning kiss. 
I love the way I get to scoop you out of your crib and you wrap your chubby baby arms around my neck, planting a drooly, morning breath kiss on my neck before laying your head down on my shoulder and popping a thumb into your mouth.  I love the way we crawl into my bed after changing your diaper and you pull the comforter over yourself, and then throw it off so dramatically and giggle, wating for me to say peekaboo.

I love the way you flip over when I'm changing your diaper and try to crawl away, naked, as fast as you can.
I love the way you know when I'm not feeling well and you pat my head and give me hugs before scampering away to play with another toy.
I loved the look on your face yesterday when you saw your Easter basket and the lego truck Grandma got you, and how you wrapped your arms around the plush Winnie-The-Pooh and wouldn't let go.
I loved how you giggled at Daddy so hard you tipped yourself over when he tried to put on your Buzz Lightyear ball cap.

I love dancing around the living room with you.

You'll be a year old in a few weeks.  You have a vocabulary of five words, and offended a lady last week by pointing at her chihauhau and yelling, "kitty!"  You love Riley, our golden retriever, and any time that Mommy or Daddy gets down on the floor and plays blocks with you.
We dance.
We sing.
We read That's not my monkey eleven thousand times.

And I treasure every moment, because I know tomorrow, you'll be big and want to go driving and not hang out with me.
So for today, I look forward to every morning, finding you peering over the rail, a big toothy smile spread across your face.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Young marriage

Another little sister has gottten engaged.  She's 21 years old, with no degree other than an EMT and CNA certification.  No job.  Hasn't traveled, hasn't done a whole lot in life, like most 21-year-olds haven't.

I am not against marriage.  I am against marrying so young that you don't know who you are.  I am against marrying when you're in the prime of your life, when the world is open for possibilities.  I love my husband and my son, but saying I do meant saying I don't to moving to another state, traveling to Europe, going to medical school, making friends, and pursuing hobbies.  Saying I do really means saying I don't to everything else, and I don't think that is something to be done until you are sure, you are absolutely positive, that you are ready to slam the door on everything else you could do or be.

And I don't think that anyone at 21 or 22 is prepared to do that.

I have a wonderful marriage.  I firmly believe that some of that is because we were best friends first, we have similar interests and hobbies.  I also firmly believe that a lot of our marital success is that we had a firm financial foundation.  There have been a few weeks, sure, where we decided to put some extra on the mortgage or car payment instead of eating out or going to a movie or some other frivolous purchase that week.  But we have never once had to worry about where the money is going to come from for rent, mortgage,car payment, gas, utilities, food, formula or diapers.  All of our necessities have always been covered.  This has nothing to do with our hourly wages, because in reality, we're not making that much money.  Our dual income, along with his overtime pay, is sufficient, but not massive.  Paramedics aren't highly paid.  What it has to do with is that we were able, from the beginning, to manage our finances well--we had jobs that paid the bills, we didn't use credit cards, and we made sure there was money set aside for the emergencies(like when all four tires blew on my jeep, and we needed tires right that moment) so that we didn't have to resort to credit cards.   And what does that come down to?
We had jobs that were able to pay the bills, we had health insurance, and we lived within our means, or below them, from day one.

And I don't believe that anyone at 21 or 22 can have a job that means you are completely free from financial worries.  The majority of jobs require some education and experience to start paying decently. The majority of jobs a young person can get don't include health insurance, which(since I have a host of medical bills from when I didn't have insurance) is so important.
Financial problems put a stress on a marriage that is unbelievable.  And when you're young and newly married, it can prevent you from building a firm foundation for your marriage.  Instead of focusing on building your marriage, you're concerned about bills and where dinner is going to come from.  Instead of enjoying each other, you're stressed about money.
Instead of love, it dissolves into fighting.

And it's so preventable.

Wait to get married until you are financially secure.  Pursue an education, be wise in what you major in, that will allow you to have a good career in a field that, even if it doesn't pay super well, is stable and will pay the bills.  It's not about getting rich; it's about being stable.
If it's important to you that one parent stays home after you have children, plan appropriately.  If it's important to you that both parents work, plan appropriately so you can send your children to a high quality day care.
And, did I say, wait to get married.  Don't rush it.  Travel. Explore. Pursue a formal, academic education.  Work a few years. Hang out in the evenings with friends.  Get solidified in who you are and what you want.

Enjoy yourself.

I have never once regretted getting an education.  I have never once regretted the years I spent fighting fires and running EMS calls in the middle of the night.  I have never regretted the free time that allowed me to take extra fire classes, or the 2 am nights at Denny's talking to friends, or the summer days off work spent doing nothing.  I have never regretted the 14-day cruise to Hawaii, or Sharon's and my sojourns around North Carolina, or simply leaving for the weekend and discovering some new location.
I have never regretted waiting until I was 27 years old to get married, or 28 to have my first child.

I think I would have regretted marrying at 20. I would have regretted all that I didn't get to do.  All I didn't get to experience.  All I didn't get to be.

So I have no regrets.
And I can only pray my sister doesn't either.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I'm learning.

That my family does not look like everyone else's family, and that's okay.  Everyone else doesn't have a husband who works the hours or the shifts that mine does.  Everyone else doesn't have a wife who tries to juggle housework and a fifty hour a week job too(yes. I know I was working part time, and then we had some personnel shuffling and I have to fill in more hours for a few weeks.).  So if right now, we don't go to church, or have people over, or do anything but spend our few precious hours together as a family before we have to go back to work for another twenty four hours, that's okay.

That this is not the time in my life where I can get too concerned about what we're eating.  If it's hamburgers out of the freezer and baked beans out of a can, that's okay.  If I'm picking subs up from Subway on our day off because I'm in the middle of errands, that's okay.  If it's Hamburger Helper, nobody will die, and eating out a few times a week isn't going to break our budget, or even really affect it.  My son is going to grow up just fine on premade baby food and formula powder out of the can.  I don't have the time or the stress level to cook from scratch, and that's okay. 

That sometimes it's okay to not be able to do it all.  I haven't scrubbed the bathroom in two weeks or cleaned out the fridge in three.  We're about to start turning a bedroom into a bathroom upstairs, and we can't seem to find time to tear out the walls and hang sheetrock.  That's okay.  Again, our budget isn't affected much by having to hire someone to come in and clean my house once a week, or tear out the bedroom upstairs and help hang sheetrock.  In our stage of life, time is a precious, precious commodity, and we choose to spend what we can together, and not stressing over the little stuff.

I know I keep saying that we don't have time.  We don't...can I give you our schedule just this weekend?

Thursday night: Rob goes into work at 5 pm, Sara goes into work at 7 pm, and Josh goes to Grandma's house for the night.

Friday:  Rob is at work until 5pm, Sara is at work until 4:30 pm and Grandma takes Josh to day care.

Friday evening: Sara picks up Josh at day care, goes back to work for a new employee orientation scheduled at 5:15, Rob picks up chicken and macaroni salad at Tops and then comes over to pick up Josh.

Friday night: Josh gets sick, vomits everywhere.  Clean up all of that, throw laundry in the washer, cuddle Josh, change six messy diapers because Josh has diarrhea, Josh vomits again, clean up again.
Saturday morning: Sara has to be to work at 7 am, Rob takes Josh to Grandma's and has to be to work at 8 am.  Sara gets done with work at 7 pm, picks up Josh from Grandma's, and goes home.  Rob is at work until 8 am the next day.

Sunday morning:  Sara gets up, dresses Josh, takes Josh to Grandma's, has to be at work by 9 am.  Rob leaves job #1 at 8 am, if he gets out on time, then comes and relieves Sara at work and works the rest of the shift until 4:30 pm.  Sara goes home and cleans the house and goes grocery shopping until Grandma gets home from church and brings Josh home. 
Sunday evening: Family gets to be together.

Monday: Sara has to be at work at 7 am.  Rob gets Josh around and takes Josh to day care. Rob works on upstairs bedroom until he has to leave for work at 4 pm.  Grandma picks up Josh at day care at 5 pm. Sara picks up Josh from Grandma's around 8 pm, goes home and both Sara and Josh go to bed.

Tuesday: Sara dresses Josh, takes Josh to Grandma's, has to be in Rochester at 11 am, gets home around 4 pm, picks Josh up, goes home and tries to decide what to make for dinner.  Will probably order pizza, and have Rob pick it up on the way home from work, which will be around 6 pm.

Wednesday: Rob has to be at work at 7 am.  Sara and Josh plan to stay home and actually get some stuff done today.  Rob doesn't get off work until Thursday morning at 7.

This is a typical schedule.

So if right now, we eat out a lot, and I have to hire someone to clean my bathrooms and mop the floors, that's what I have to do.  Time is too precious, and we have so little of it together.  Even when my job slows down, which will happen in two or three weeks, Rob's never will.  I need to guard our time together, and not spend it cleaning or cooking elaborate meals.  And, hopefully, I won't feel guilty at all about that.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


So we're settling in.  My husband is working, on average, 81 hours a week(that's part for the course at the company he works for--a mandatory work week is 57 hours and there is always extra overtime shifts they want you to pick up), but I was familiar with this company long before he applied, and knew what we were getting into.  The benefits, particularly the health insurance, is great, as is the pay, and we have much to be thankful for.  It is hard to adjust to going from having my husband home five days a week to be a borderline single mom, especially with both Josh and I sick with bronchitis for the third time this winter, but we're making it.  Frankly, in this economy, we are both grateful for good jobs and that we don't have to worry about money.

I stayed working about 20 hours a week, which is two days.  Some weeks, like next week, I picked up a few more hours, but I think we've found a good balance with a 20 hour workweek.  Especially with Rob gone most of the week, we think Josh needs a parent around more often.  

And it hasn't been too bad.  My house is clean and Josh and I have read lots of books, spent hours rolling a ball back and forth, played with his farmhouse, and I've watched as he discovers that he really can stand on his own.  I'm looking forward to summer and all I have planned for Josh and I--walks, time at the park, trips to the zoo, time on the lake in the boat, maybe some trips to the swimming pool at the state park when it's warm enough.

We've found our balance.  Josh is loving day care, and I'm loving having five days a week with him all to myself.  Rob enjoys his job and doesn't mind 80 hour work weeks, and since I grew up with a father who traveled extensively for work, this feels more comfortable to me than a husband who's home a lot. 
This works for us. 
And we're grateful.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When God Gave Us You

My ten-month-old doesn't usually sit still for anything.  He's far more interested in climbing all over Mommy, kissing my cheeks and trying to escape up the stairs whenever he thinks we're not looking.  This book, though, held his attention all the way through.
Beautifully illustrated and sensitively written, When God Gave Us You  by Lisa Tawn Bergen answers the all-important question: Where did I come from? Well, Mama Bear answers, you came from God.  We were lonely, she continues, so God gave us you.  Pregnancy is described in a language a child can understand("My tummy got bigger...and bigger...and BIGGER") and every step is punctuated by the same verbage..."Yes, my special child. God gave us you."  We follow Mama and Papa Bear's familiar steps through listening to the baby's heartbeat at the doctor, praying for a healthy baby, preparing the nursery, and the seemingly endless wait for the baby to arrive.  Labor is beautifully described, with mama bear saying that God gives special signals so mama's will know that the baby is about to arrive.  And, finally, Mama and Papa Bear are staring at their precious cub, amazed at the special gift they have just received.
This is one of the sweetest child's books I have seen in quite a while.  The only thing I wish, perhaps, is that it came in a cardboard book, so I didn't have to worry about pages being ripped and drooled on by my special gift.  Other than that, I see this becoming a classic that I expect to read to my son over and over again, reminding him each time that he was specially chosen to come live with us.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  I was not under any obligation to provide a positive review.

Letting go

Josh is at daycare today, and I should be studying, but I really really really wanted to get some of the baby stuff packed away.  So I took the plastic bins up to his room, and pulled all the receiving blankets and burp cloths and boppy pillows out of the drawers and placed them in bins.  Then I took them into the currant storage room and placed those bins on top of the other neatly labeled bins, the ones reading maternity clothes and newborn/0-3 months and 3-6 month baby clothes and 6-9 month baby clothes.
And as I wrote receiving blankets/burp cloths/bibs on an index card and taped it securely to the lid, I wondered why.  Why am I keeping these?  In hopes, however vain, that we'll have another child? Why am I using up precious storage space(we have a large house, however, there's no storage.  Not even closets in the bedrooms) on the almost impossible chance that we'll have another baby?
And suddenly I realized how silly that is.  There's no purpose on holding onto these things.  I have a beautiful little boy, and that is one more child than I was told I would be able to have.  Joshua is very likely going to be an only child, and I have to accept that and move on.

So I'm getting rid of this stuff.  There are a few special outfits I plan to keep, but the rest of it is just stuff, and it isn't stuff I need to hold onto for a sliver of hope.  Tomorrow is our very important(and scary) critical care paramedic certification exam, and then I'm going through these clothes and toys and bassinet and things, and letting go of most of it. 
It feels good.