Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's update.

It is time for another blog. Like seriously-two weeks-past-time. But let's face it, I am busy. And tired. And a little obsessed with my floor at the moment. I need to give an update on my summer see how much I have (not)accomplished.

Let's see....

1. Blog more Well, I have blogged like, 3 times this summer? Does that count as more? I blog almost every day in my head, but I never seem to be able to sit down at the computer and type it up. Let's say I am still working on this one. I will give it a .5.
2. Learn to cook gluten and casein free (that stuff is expensive!) This summer, so far, I have made several gfcf dinners for my family. Most of them have been really good too! Even better, I have used my crockpot for the majority of them, which is another goal I have had for years. Check out Do it. Now. Well, wait until you read mine first. Alas, I think Maddie has eaten a whopping 2 of the meals I have learned to cook for her. The best part though! I baked, this morning, using coconut flour!!! This counts. Totally. I give this goal a 1.
3. Get a handle on meal planning I am getting better at this, but it is still a challenge for me. I have cooked at home almost all summer, but I wouldn't say I have a "handle" on it. I give this one a .5
4. Organize the children's rooms (this is an every-summer-sort-of-goal, and it never happens) Hahahahaha...I am too obsessed with my floor. Big fat o.
5. Teach my children to follow directions without yelling (they can do this at school, but struggle at home) We are definitely working on this. We had a family meeting last week that went well. The kids gave their input, we gave ours, we overruled the kids. Just kidding. We came up with rules and consequences written down. It's like I am a teacher at home, too. It is working though. We are well on our way to eliminating "unnecessary crying". That's my fave. I will give this a 1.
6. Camp more (or at all, really) Uh, yeah...about this...0.
7. Spend more time with my children Like, every single day with my children. All day. I wouldn't say it is always quality time though, which is what I want to get better at. I give it .5 for being with them ALL the time.
8. Laugh more I forgot this was a goal. I really need to laugh more. This summer has been really stressful financially, and it is spilling over into everything. Sadly, this gets a 0. I need a giggly girls' night.
9. Go on more playdates with friends (this helps all parties involved) We have seen friends quite a bit this summer, but not nearly as much as I would like. Everyone is so busy! Blake is branching out and spending the night at friends' houses. I will give this a .5 too.
10. Help my children understand the value of family and the importance of pitching in Sheesh. What a lofty, but necessary, goal! And an ongoing process. The family meeting helped, and so did limiting 'screen time". I give this a .5.

Huh. 4.5/10...a 45%? That's terrible! I guess I have some things to work on. Maybe I will have to actually write down those blogs instead of just thinking them in the shower! I am working on one called "Nonstress tests: What are they and why does everyone need one all of a sudden?" I also want to do a few on breastfeeding, Cole's birth story, and of course, eating.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Vicarious Encouragement

As many of you know, Blake is very involved in a local youth theatre. It is the one activity that he has actually shown interest in. Well, I take that back. He showed some interest in swimming, but he never put forth the effort needed to go anywhere with it. In his whole ten years, Blake has never shown much passion, or drive, or competitiveness. "Lack of effort". That is what I see on some of his assignments. It is what I see in his writing. It is what I have even seen in a couple of performances. The characteristic of "competitiveness" is not one I necessarily want to foster in my children. What I want to foster is passion, drive, excellence. I want them to be the best them they can be. In theatre, this does mean a certain amount of competitiveness since you are, in fact, competing for roles. However, in an audition, you need passion, excellence, and to be the best you can be. Blake learned this during the audition process for Seussical.

Blake has done 4 shows. His first two were "no-cut" shows, meaning you show up, sing, and you get in. This is perfect for a child starting theatre. It is a no-stress process, and they get the experience of being in a show and on the stage. Blake still managed to choke during his audition for "Best Christmas Pageant Ever". The director, thankfully, convinced Blake it was his birthday. Blake sang a weak rendition of "Happy Birthday". Thank goodness for the no-cut thing. He made it in. Because rehearsals and shows are a LOT of work, not to mention a huge time commitment, we decided to take a break. The next show he auditioned for was "Seussical". This would be his first "real" audition. Big cuts would be made in this show. Now might be a good time to mention that it take a LOT of encouragement from his mother (me) to get him to work on an audition piece. Constant reminding to pick a song, and then constant reminding to practice chosen song, and then constant encouragement to sing said song in front of other people. It is at this point I sometimes wonder if he really wants to do this at all, or if it is me that wants him to do this. Shouldn't he want to choose a song? Shouldn't he want to practice? Why am I the one forcing him to do this? Is it because musical theatre was an unachieved dream of mine (with the exception of an ensemble role in My Fair Lady)? Is it because I love musical theatre so much? Or does he really want this? Time and time again, I come to the conclusion that he really wants this. He has fun, he makes friends, and he likes being on stage. Right now though, I am his drive, his ambition, and his competitive spirit. Because right now, he has none. Life has been way too easy for this kid.

So back to Seussical auditions. I believe he finally chose the song "Only the Good Die Young". The directors must have liked him because he was called back. Even better, he was called back for an actual part. The all important role of young JoJo. The Who who saves Whoville. We practiced singing "It's Possible". He got pretty darn good at it. At callbacks, he sang the song beautifully. Not loud, but on key. If they were going for a young, small child for JoJo, he was a shoe-in. Enter Conner. Conner is amazing. He is thirteen, but he was able to sing in the higher key of JoJo. And he sings loud. And he is really good at that acting stuff too. If they are going for an older but much talented JoJo, Conner was THE shoe-in. Of course, Conner got the part. Blake was crushed. Remember, Blake didn't even know he wanted this part until he was called back for it. Nonetheless, he was devastated he didn't get the part of JoJo. So much so, he couldn't even see how lucky he was to be one of the 35 kids to make it into the show (70 auditioned). Can I tell you how glad I am Blake didn't get the part? It might sound odd, but it is exactly what he needed. By not getting the part he didn't know he wanted, he got a taste. A taste of passion, a taste of drive, a taste of wanting more. He decided then that he was going to try harder, learn the parts, and get the bigger roles he finally decided he wanted. Well, he may have decided this, but when the next audition came, I was still after him about his song. He still needed gentle (and not so gentle) reminders to focus. Once again I had to wonder, does he want this? Or do I want this?

I knew he needed more than I could give him if he wanted the "big parts". One of the mom's told me her kids took voice lesson's from Kenny's daughter. Perfect. Blake loves Kenny's daughter. What's more, she is an amazing actress and vocalist. What's even more, the price was something I could afford. Done and done. Now she could get after him about his audition piece for Cats. I then learned Spotlight offered a dance class once a week. Well, his dance skills could definitely use some help. There were openings, and I needed Blake to decide. I bugged him for a few days about this, until he finally said, "Mom, do you want me to take this dance class?" Crap. Was it me? Finally HE decided he wanted the dance class. With a lot, I mean a lot, of encouragement, he finally went. It was the aforementioned Conner that got him out of the car. Blake also loves Conner, even though he stole his "part".

Here is what I have learned from all of this. Lazy ten-year-old boys need a lot of help and encouragement from mom if they want to succeed at anything, especially musical theatre. I see his face light up on stage. I hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about auditioning for next season. I wipe his tears when a show is over. I am not a pushy stage mom; I don't force him to do anything he doesn't want to. My role as his mother is to give him the extra nudge he needs to do the audition, sing the song, or go to dance class. It doesn't hurt that I am getting enjoyment out of this, too. As long as we both know that is not why he is doing this. He does this because he loves this. Just watch him on stage. It's really amazing, and he gets better every time.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Memories...kind of.

One year later, and here I sit. The friends are gone, the cake has been eaten, and the floor is covered in grass. In the business of my day, I wasn't able to reflect on my daughter's first year as much as I had wanted to. As I try to conjure up memories, I realize most of Eleanor's first day of life is a blur. A day that is so precious to me has been lost in the craziness of every day life. I should have started this a year ago, so my memories would have been preserved in cyberspace for all to read. Alas, this is not the case. So, here I sit, attempting to let a rush of memory flood me. Hello? Rush? Do you hear this? Any time now...

Here is what I do remember...

At 34 weeks I had gone into pre-term labor due to a sneaky bladder infection. At 36 weeks, I was allowed off of bedrest, and I was able to stop taking that yucky medicine that stops contractions. I was so used to feeling and timing contractions, that I worried I wouldn't be able to tell when labor really started. I was relying heavily on my past labors where the onset of labor had been the natural breaking of my water.

When I was 37 1/2 weeks, my mother decided it was time for me to have my baby. She was going out of town for several weeks on Saturday, and she needed me to have my baby before she left (I needed this too, since I needed her there). She was going to stay at my house from Thursday until Saturday, and she was going to will Ella to come out while she was there. On Wednesday, I went to the Surprise LLL meeting. I was timing contractions while I was there, but of course, they stopped by the time I got home. Brandon was working a 24 shift at Rio Verde on Thursday night, so I knew I couldn't go into labor then. He was over an hour away, and my last labor had barely lasted an hour. I had a very small window in which I could have my sweet baby. Thursday came and I had contractions on and off all day. I remember telling my mom I was going to take a shower to see if they would stop. They didn't stop, but they didn't get worse, and they weren't really regular. By this point, I was very uncomfortable, so I spent most of the day laying in bed or on the couch. We went to bed at about 10:30, but I had trouble falling asleep, which was really weird for me. I never have trouble sleeping! The contractions weren't letting up, but again, they weren't really getting worse. I just felt like something was going to happen...I was restless...anxious. At about 2:00-ish I started timing my contractions. They were getting regular-ish, and I thought maybe this may be the real thing. My water was still intact, so I wasn't entirely sure. At about 4:00 I had couple of real contractions, and I was sure at this point it was the real deal. I called Pam, and she said she would be right over. I called Brandon and told him to get home as fast as he possible could. I woke my mom, and we made a few last minute preparations. Pam's final order to me was to lay down so I did not speed up my labor in any way (remember, Brandon was further away than the entire duration of my last labor). My mom, trying to remain calm, ordered me to lay down. I could not get up. Luckily, I was pretty comfortable in my bed and had no desire to get up. We passed the time by chatting and watching the Cosby Show (thanks Nick @ Nite:)). Pam and Jodi arrived and got themselves situated while I continued to labor on the bed. I checked in with Brandon a few times, urging him to hurry, but not to crash! He made record time. Pam checked me right when Brandon got there, and I was complete! I believe it was a little after 5:00 am by this point. It took a little while for me to get the urge to push, so Brandon changed his shorts and hopped onto the bed next to me. I tried a couple of different positions, but decided to remain on my side due to my SPD. In the past, pushing had been good and relatively easy...I had generally welcomed the pushing stage. This time, I did not welcome fact, I wanted it to go far, far away...or stop completely...or something. I wanted no part of it. Surprisingly, my water had still not broken. It waited for Brandon to get there to make sure he didn't miss anything. While I was pushing, I felt a strange popping, and then a gush. My water had broken while I was pushing, and manage to splash onto Jodi at the foot of the bed. It was a welcome distraction! Because of the long, painful, irregular pushing, I lost focus a couple of times. Pam really helped refocus me. She reminded me that pushing, was not, in fact, going away. I did have to push this baby out, and I was capable of doing so. The original plan was to have Brandon "catch" Eleanor, but I believe I had a mini freak-out when he tried to move into position. He decided it was best to stay right by me and help hold my leg. Finally, after an hour of pushing (it really felt like about 5 hours), Ella's cute little face popped out. She greeted us with wide-open eyes, before the rest of her was even out! Brandon said it looked so funny and was so surprising he would never forget it. No wonder it was so painful and long! The cute, sweet, little imp was sunny side up! Someone could have warned me about this. She joined us Earth-side at 6:19 am. The kids woke up to a new baby sister!

She stayed with me for a long time after she was born. Brandon cut the cord, we tried nursing, and we cuddled as a new family. She was a sleepy baby, so there wasn't a lot of nursing in the beginning. I showered and was pleased to learn I had one tiny tear and did not require stitches. I drank Recharge, ate cherries, and consumed a good deal of cramp bark.

Eleanor was born at the perfect time, and in the perfect way. She waited until Grandma was here, and then waited until Daddy came home to complete her journey. I have no idea how "long" my labor was. 4 hours? 12 hours? 3 weeks? It was long enough for allowed the people who needed to be there, to be there.

The rest of the day is a blur for me. I know Sara and Keegan came to visit. I know people fed me, but I can't remember what. I know I tried to nurse, but she slept a 6 hour stretch. I panicked. She was fine. I don't remember much else, but I remember the feelings, the contentment, and the joy that came after she joined our family.