Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Suck at Life...Numbered Insights into my Stream of Consciousness

1. What? I haven't updated you on Whitney in ... ummm ... 4 months? No, no. Only a horrible mother would write letters to her first child and then flake out on them with her second.  So, I've got the bare bones of letters to Whit written, lo these 4 months (cough...almost 5...cough).  So, my gift to her for her birthday is to kick my procrastination to the curb and get those up to date...tomorrow...or Thursday...definitely by the time she graduates high school....is that an M&M by my keyboard...jackpot.

2. I have no clue what to get Whitney for her birthday (I mean, other than the gift of my words).  NO CLUE!!!!!! I bought her a baby doll today and just keep staring at it with any lack of enthusiasm about giving it to her.  A baby doll?  Where's the effort, Parker?  Meh. The kid pretty much goes into a frenzy whipping the toilet paper off the role (what? I don't let my child in the bathroom with me when I'm doing my business)...so, pretty sure she'll be content with whatever.

3. I should probably be watching the presidential debate...but, I'm having my own special debate with myself about finishing off the Cheetos...soooo...enough intensity for me tonight.

4. I should not be posting ridiculous ramblings about nothing right now and should be a.) doing the dishes; b.) folding the ever-growing pile of clothes sitting in my laundry basket; c.) finishing up Whit's monthly posts; d.) completing Whit's 1 year photo montage; e.) starting Whit's 1 year photo montage; f.) finishing the Cheetos sitting in a bag not 5 feet away from me; g.) going to bed.

5. Okay, motivation. Come and find me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eli the Explorer - Age 3 1/2

I was given this book by a dear friend that has turned into a go-to source for you, my wild thing.  It's called, appropriately, Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys.  It has opened my eyes to the world of a boy (that and Wild at Heart).  I'm not sure if you know this about me, as I sometimes appear as some androgynous figure in your life who may or may not own a razor, but I'm a girl.  I liked Barbies and sharing/eating my feelings and My So Called Life and other girly things.  So raising a boy and getting to the heart of you has been a challenge for me.  A happy challenge.  A challenge for which I am over the moon grateful and honored to be given.  But nonetheless, a challenge.  Right now, according to my Eli bible, you are in the Explorer stage.  One of the best descriptions from the text for what this stage involves is this:

 It's a time when they show greater interest...in exploring the edges of their worlds...boys make fewer trips back to the reassurance of their mothers...as Explorers, boys live in their imaginations as much  or more than they do in 'reality'...their moods swing on a dime, and nothing compares to the joy that overcomes them when they make a new discovery.

If you were in a dictionary at this point in your life, this would be the definition found next to your name.  This time last year you were so fearful to leave my side, and now you are moving to the edges sans me.  You explore your world, and get very dirty in the process.  You live amongst the dirt and the grass and the rocks and the bugs.  I've told people that if I were to allow you to live outside, you would be perfectly content (as long as I provided some strong squirrel repellent).  The other day, your grandma Parker was watching you climb on anything that was a foot off the ground and commented, "he's all boy." 

 You're definitely more open to trying new experiences.  Initial timidity eases into excitement and cries of "again!" "more!" "no mommy...just me!" And then I go to weep in a corner or find something fried to eat.  You ride your bike off curbs, you climb anything that provides ulcer-inducing distance between you and the ground, you collect bugs, you pet dogs that are bigger than you (which may not seem like much, but last year a dog bigger than my toe would have sent you into a hyperventilating state of fear).  I was worried that the first day of preschool for you would have been short-lived due to not wanting to be away from me, but you looked at me and said, "You gotta run some errands?  Bye, mom."  It was a very nice way for you to tell me to leave.  So thank you.  As I drove home shaking with sobs and proving to be a hazard behind the wheel, I just kept thanking Jesus for you, my brave boy. 

Someone once told me that threes are harder than twos, and I remember thinking, "Dear God, I need to take up drinking if that's the case."  And honestly, you still have your occasional melt down, which tend to coincide with needing something to eat.  You are your mother and father's child.  But, you also seem to understand better why we've sent you to your room for said melt down.  For example, a month or so ago I had the audacity to ask you to leave your friends during a swim date before any of them had to leave.  I MADE YOU LEAVE THE POOL!!  You would have thought I told you Thomas the Train died and the police have no leads.  It was a tantrum fit for the gods.  You were hitting, you were screaming like a banshee, you were calling down a plague on my house, you switched to some foreign language, there was frothing, and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Should I go on?  So in between screams, I explained that as soon as we got home, you would need to go to your room, as your behavior was inappropriate (we use multi-syllabic words in this house, young man).  You calmed down about 5 minutes into the ride home and said in between hiccuped breaths, "I'm sorry, mommy.  I go to my room for timeout?"  After I picked up my heart that melted all over my steering column, I told you that you still needed to go to your room, but I appreciated your remorse and loved you.  "I love you too, mommy. I'm sorry I hit and screamed."  There are still melted pieces of my heart stuck to my driver's seat.  It's a beast to get out of leather.

While you don't want me as much, you have fortified an incredible relationship with your father...your go-to guy when I'm disciplining you.  Your dad is your partner in exploration, your hero during midnight nightmares, your calming voice.  I refer to your dad as the Eli-whisperer.  He gets you in a way that I don't and long to.  Your dad's patience with you is enviable.  I pray daily that I can show you the patience that your father effortlessly demonstrates.  You are his little Opie.  I am immensely grateful that my little boy has been blessed with an exceptional father.  Your dad will always be your biggest fan, no matter what (it should be an implied fact that I'm the alpha fan when it comes to you, but I suppose your dad can tie with me). 

 Your life changed in a big way last year when I brought Whitney home from the doctor (that's how you think she came into existence...the doctor was just giving her away).  It's been interesting to see your relationship with her develop.  I think that it's natural for you to feel left out or not paid as much attention.  And for this I am forever sorry.  Knowing that you sometimes feel left out makes my heart hurt.  I try to arrange Eli/Mommy dates so you know that you are and will forever be my number one guy.  Despite your occasional feelings of frustration with Whitney, you have taken on this nurturing role with her.  You protect her (sometimes with more force than I would like, but nonetheless...) and show her things that you discover and give her a toy when she starts crying and show sincere concern when she falls or hurts herself.  It's a part of your relationship with each other that I pray will continue the rest of your lives.  I hope you turn to each other when life gets stupid or to complain about your parents or to organize elaborate celebratory parties in honor of your mother.  She lights up when you walk into a room.  And I know you get frustrated with her constantly gettin up all in yo bizness, but it's because you are the moon and stars for her. 
 Finally, your humor and imagination know no bounds.  You say things that demonstrate your unique perception of your world.  One night we were talking about how Jesus is always with us.  "Where is he? He's here now?" you asked.  "Yeah, we just can't see him. But you can always talk to him."  Fast forward twenty minutes later when you were being a tad sassy.  I told you that you needed to go to your room for a few minutes, to which you replied, "Okay, I guess I'll go to my room...come on, Jesus."  So great.  Sometimes you'll make these faces just to elicit a laugh from me.  You talk like George (you know, the monkey) randomly, you break out into song, you laugh for no reason, you make me say good night to your boogers, you assign different voices to things.  You're imagination is expansive and impressive.  I love that you love to laugh, as it is one of my favorite activities.  I hope that you never lose that fun side of your personality.  You are such a clever and creative soul. 

I love everything about you, my wild thing.  You are a blessing beyond belief, and I will work my whole life to prove that to you.  Love you forever, my sweet Elijah!


Other odds-and-ends about Eli at 3 1/2:
  • You are pretty much a vegetarian, aside from a love of processed chicken.
  • You DON'T LIKE PIZZA, which has had an adverse affect on my pizza intake. 
  • You had three cavities crowned due to your love of lemons (apparently more dangerous to the enamel of your teeth than a can of coke).
  • You weigh 36 pounds.
  • You're scared of squirrels still and will tell them to "go see your mom!!!"
  • You've now traveled to Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco (the latter two by train).
  •  Your favorite shows include Curious George, Thomas, Phineas and Ferb, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Bob the Builder, Chuggington.
  • You love TV way too much (an addiction we're trying to eradicate...but let's be honest...I love TV way too much).
  • You're basically potty trained. We're still working on a couple things, but in your own time, bud, in your own time.
  • You are IN LOVE with your grandparents.
  • You are IN LOVE with your cousins.
  • Friends who you love to visit with include Benny, Bryleigh, Averi, Nolan, Jack, the other Benny, Abby, and Mia.  
  • You love meeting new people and strike up a conversation with anyone who is willing to listen. 
  • You and I have started discussing stranger danger. 
  • You laugh when you fart, which is pretty much awesome.
  • You love playing basketball.
  • You love fixing things with your tools.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Eli's First Day

Today, my little guy started preschool...and I wept uncontrollably into my pillow all night leading up to it.  He's doing two days a week, 2 1/2 hours each day of preschool at a co-op called Jack and Jill.  This is a decision with which I wrestled for months and still am wrestling...this decision and I are in a half nelson right now and we're all sweaty and gross and people are all, "just pin her, already."

Here's the inner monologue that has been running in my head about this decision:
He's just three, why send him now? Yes, but it would be great exposure to some structure and instruction from someone other than the T.V. I know, but he's going to be going to school his whole life...just wait a year.  True, but it's just two days a week, 2 1/2 hours each day. What if he hates it and cries and writes about it in his journal so that he can tell his future therapist the exact date when his mother let him down and he lost his ability to trust. Okay, what if you did a co-op...you know something with which you could be involved.  Hmmm...maybe.  I don't know. What if...

So, I made the decision to enroll him in a co-op where the teacher is so incredibly wonderful that I'm sure even her farts smell like lavender and heaven.  (I hope she never reads this.) His teacher was placed on this earth to teach little 3 and 4 year olds.  I love her and will include her in my will.

He missed his first day, because he was sick (the first time he's been sick since March, but whatever).  So, today was the day. And he loved it!  He turned off the t.v. of his own volition so we could go. TURNED.IT.OFF.HIMSELF!!! And then it rained skittles.

We'll see how it goes.  That's my motto right now.  If today was any indication, I'm sure he'll be fine.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The (abridged) Story of Us

13 years ago, during the autumn of my freshman year at Spring Arbor College, my friend Jill Thompson announced to me that she had found my future husband.  Her "find", she proclaimed, was my best fit.  She couldn't imagine us not getting together.  Then, she said his name.  Ben Parker. I scoffed in her general direction and informed her that while I found him EXTREMELY attractive, his less than bubbly personality instantly deemed him a not-viable option.  He seemed too arrogant to me.  Plus, I saw him serenading a girl with his guitar once.  Fail.  I later found out that Ben was equally  turned off by my huge mistake of a pixie hair cut. 

Hours of chapel band practice, psychology classes together (his major, my minor), basketball games, more mutual friends later, it seemed our friend may have been on to something. December 2001, I accepted an invitation to a faux "blind date" with Ben Parker.  November 2002, I accepted his marriage proposal.  And August 9, 2003, we made promises to love each other forever.  And I can't imagine a day since or in the future without him. 

Thank you, Jill Thompson.

"I love thee with the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death."  -e.b.b.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

36 Years of Rick

Happy 36th Anniversary to my Marms and Dad

Love is all you need.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Plans are Made for Breaking

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future..."  -Jeremiah 29:11

I have a hard time with this verse.  Mainly because I want to know what these plans entail and how/when they will be brought about.  Being able to go with the flow and know that life is not in my hands is one of the most difficult lessons I have to learn.

This weekend has been trial by fire.  I had made all sorts of fun plans for the last two days and then life happened.  Eli got sick, Ben was gone for two days, Eli had night terrors two nights ago and woke up every hour, Eli was awake last night from 2:30 - 5 a.m. I am going on 8 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours (I need about 8 hours a night in order to not make people cry using just my words), my hair dryer quit mid-dry yesterday, and Blockbuster didn't have the second Sherlock Holmes movie yesterday. (I know you're thinking, duh, get Netflix.  We don't do fancy streaming technology in this house. So, just...okay?) Oh, the madness.

Reading this last paragraph,  I know you're saying to yourself, "Suck it up, Parker.  This is it?! Over-dramatic much?"

And then I would say, "Your FACE is over-dramatic, fart face."

And then I would acquiesce.  You're right.  It's not that bad.  So what we have no clean drinking glasses because they are all waiting to be cleaned in my kitchen sink.  So what I have a pile of clean laundry multiplying by the second. And a pile of dirty laundry, for that matter. That dirty diaper that's been sitting right smack dab in the middle of my living room like some crack den is not a big deal.  It will get thrown away.  Dishes will be done.  Fruit flies that are circling around what I think were once bananas will die.  Life will go on.  Eli will eventually decide that sleep is not the enemy.  And so will Whitney.  I will have a full night of sleep at some point.  Right?  RIGHT?!!

This is a blip -- a very undramatic, unnoticeable by any other full functioning member of the human race blip.

He takes hold of my right hand and says, "'Do not fear; I will help you.'"

**After publishing this post I thought I should add a couple post-scripts to clarify and add some sunshine.

P.S. I was able, thanks to my father, to attend a fabulous wedding of a dear friend today.  I also was able to catch up with some great people and spend some good quality time with my mater. 

P.P.S. Just in case you were thinking of calling CPS on me, the diaper was left by the couch in my haste this morning after changing Whitney quickly before running some errands this morning (like buying a new hairdryer).  And the bananas...well, the bananas are pretty gross.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Eli's First Completed Potty Chart


If you've talked with me in the past 6 or 7 months, you've no doubt been tortured by my laments over Eli's lack of potty training.  I've been the parent who, honestly, has waited until Eli appeared interested to use the potty.  Lazy? Maybe.  But the way I looked at it is that I wasn't going to force potty training and then have to spend a year or more fighting with him to use the potty.  And if you've met my son, you know those fights would have been super fun.  They would have probably ended with me dead.  And, like my mama always says, "he ain't gonna start kindergarten wearing a diaper." (her speech is actually more refined than that, but I find hillbilly talk to be more humorous.)

So, we've waited and waited and prayed and waited some more and prodded and suggested and bribed and cried and prayed some more and made a virgin sacrifice to the potty gods and cried some more.  Then my brilliant husband (who should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Potty Training) bought him an Elmo potty video (Eli's very visual).  And then he wanted to do it.  That Elmo is a freaking mind manipulator.   I made a sticker chart that would allow him to essentially pee for a prize every five successful attempts (coming to a carnival near you). And now he just....goes to the potty.  

I should clarify that he goes #1 with ease; the deuce has yet to be dropped.  Which means this potty story is TO BE CONTINUED...

Friday, June 8, 2012


Yeah...that whole blogging twice a week thing...didn't go as planned, soooo.  Below are Whit's 6 and 7 months posts.  Where are Eli's, you ask.  Oh, you didn't...that's cool.  Ummm...so I've been trying to write Eli's 3 year letter since he turned 3, lo these 3 months.  And I can't.  Two was a hard time for us.  A time when I daily felt like a failure as a parent.  And while I lean toward the hyperbolic more often than not, it's true -- daily failure.  My worst moments as a parent occurred during his third year.  I can vividly recall them.  So, I'm working on it; it's a hard one to write.   I will also post his 37 - 39 month letter soon.  Eli is using the potty, folks.  I know, right?  Just you wait to read all about it.  Cause I know you want to read about the bathroom going-ons of my three year old.  Stop shaking your head...it's going to happen. 

Whitney: a 7 month snap shot.

Seven months...look at you following the natural progression of time and stuff.  You get it, get it, girl.  Seven months and you don't look a day over six.  How do you do it?

 Look at them rolls...beautiful.
 I walked in the room once to find your brother swiffering you.

We'll do a bulleted  letter this month...mix it up a little.  Give you some fodder for future therapy sessions. "Mom did bulleted letters with me.  The injustice of it all!"
  • Foods you've tried: rice cereal (to which we said adios), oatmeal,  green beans and peas.  
  • Foods you will let me feed you without rubbing your eyes (the sign for get me outta this chair, woman!): oatmeal.  You read right.  You hate anything green.  Except for Kermit. 
  • On deck: carrots
  • You love to eat paper.  
  • I think you have pica.
  • You had a rash in one of your leg rolls this month. I'm so sorry.  I try to stay on top of making sure your nooks and crannies are clean, but your rolls are-a-plenty.  Don't you go getting a complex -- they are adorable.
  • You finally have a high chair.  Lame parenting moment #2,246.  We had a high chair that we used with your brother, but it fell down on the basement floor this last summer and started growing mold colonies from all the dampness in our (at the time) air conditionerless basement, and I was all, mold colonies, you have to start paying rent for how many of you there are, and they were all like, deuces, woman.  So we parted ways, and the good boys of Emmons sanitation took them...it away. So, I was using your bumbo as a temporary high chair, which was not conducive for easy meal times. 
  • The vacuum cleaner scares the tuna salad out of you (that's one of your brother's favorite sayings right now--it's from one of his favorite books), which was my cue to stop vacuuming; I aim to please. 
  • Bedtime is a little rough still.  We'll get there.
  • You have a clear tell for when you're tired and it's ADORABLE.  You scrunch up your eyes and rub your ears.  At first, I thought you had this perpetual ear infection that only bothered you around certain times that seemed to coincide with your nap times, but then I figured it out.  Can't get much past your mom.  She went to college...a college that turns no one away, but she went...so...
  • You're about to go on your first real trip.  We're heading out to Boston for your Uncle Adam's wedding.  Two seven hour days in the car with you and your brother...I tear up just thinking about it.  
  • Early on when you would get up from naps or for the day, I would say, "Hey, boooo. Did you have a good nap?"  Now, your brother says it.  He gets all up in yo bizness and says "Hey, boooo...did you have a good nap."  Even if you've been up for a couple hours.  Love it.
  • Finally, you are loved.  By so many people.  Even weirdos in Target who won't leave you alone until you smile at them.

Those are balloons behind you.  Not an elaborate costume I made you wear.

Happy 7 months, boo!  Love you forever.

Whitney be 6 months, y'all

(pay no attention to the date on this post, which is 2 months PAST your actual 6 month birthday...I'm lame.)

You have graced this planet and our hearts for half a year, Scout. Cue Kool & the Gang.  What's that?  Oh, that weeping you hear is just me lamenting the fact that you're growing up at lightening speed rates.  You'll hear it a lot as your grow up. 

Biggest news this month: you can sit up by you's self.  It's true.  You seem way more comfortable with life now that you can sit up.  Maybe you felt too vulnerable in horizontal mode.  Now, you have a fighting chance against any small rodents or birds; you're at their level now, which is good, because you look like you're storing nuts in your cheeks -- I keep getting the stink eye from some squirrels in our yard.  Also, my life is a lot easier with this latest milestone.  And isn't that what it's really about?  Me?  I can just sit you down outside the bathroom whilst I answer my call from nature rather than hold you whilst I take the call.  Okay, I know that sounded gross, but sometimes when a mommy has two babies, she no longer has the bladder control that she once had as a youth.  So, she has little time to put you in your crib, and she feels too uncomfortable leaving you unattended whilst your big brother is around (he means well, bless his heart, but he sometimes forgets to not step on you).  And I only did it a few times, okay...so, take it down a notch.  

Other perks of sitting on your own: you can use high chairs in restaurants, giving you a bath is easier, taking pics of you is easier,  getting you dressed is a breeze, etc.

Also, this month, we're starting you on solids.  You were doing so well with nursing, and didn't seem to be hungry after you were done nursing, so I held off until you were 6 months to add anything else to your diet.  We started with rice cereal, but then your deuces said deuces, so we switched you to oatmeal, which seems to have eased things, bm wise.  On deck: green beans.  

Finally, we've mastered the two-nap-a-day routine, and it only took us 6 months.  You are actually a pro with the naps now.  You take one an hour after you get up in the morning and then another one around 2:00 p.m. (which is usually about 2  hours after you get up from your morning nap).  It's great, too, because I've discovered that when you don't get your solid two naps in, life, she-is-a-not-fun.  

Here's a condensed version of what else has hit the air waves this last month:
  •  you weigh in at 18 lbs, 6 oz
  • you are a snuggle bug -- when I'm rocking you before naps, you love to nuzzle your head right under my chin.
  • your brother cracks you up.
  • you are now smiling for strangers...I guess that rumor that you were a snob affected you.
  • you'd rather play with your brother's toys.
  • your brother gets upset when you try to play with his toys.
  • you're super chill in the church nursery...a-thank-you-Jesus.
  • you prefer to roll only from your belly to back...and actually refuse to stay on your tummy anymore.  
  • you gnaw on anything you can get into your mouth, so I've moved the batteries and poison out of arm's reach. 
  • you made yourself cry with one of your farts when I was changing you once...it was simultaneously awesome and heartbreaking.  
Six months.  I feel like life is starting to get into a routine now.  I'm a little slow on the uptake.  What would take a normal, full-functioning mom 3 months to master, takes yours truly slightly longer.  Sorry.  I feel like I'm getting the hang of mom-with-two-kids thing, though.  So hopefully, you feel a little bit more at ease with me.  No more paging that stork to come back and get you.  

I try to think back on life with one kid, when I thought managing was tough, and now I could probably gold medal in it in the Olympics of parenting (coming this summer).  Which also makes me think I should take up juggling.  And, honestly, adding two has been challenging, but I cannot...CANNOT imagine life without you (I used all caps, which means I'm being sincere...and dramatic).  Your sweet little, lights up your whole face, causes you to scrunch up your shoulders smile is the nectar of the gods.  It makes my soul melt...all over everything. Your coos and screeches, while they do attract dogs from near and far, are my favorites.  There's nothing about you that I don't love and want to freeze in time.  (Come on, flux capacitor, get invented.) You complete us. (Don't roll your eyes;  Jerry Maguire is totally underrated and one of Tom Cruise's finer films.  And I don't like Tom Cruise.)

Happy 6 months!  I love you forever, my precious Scout!

6 months pics taken by the fabulous Jen Decker...let's give her a hand, folks.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Happy Easter!

I'm in love with our Easter photo.  Not because it is perfect.  To assign that adjective to this picture would mean you are a.) blind or b.) my mother.  No, no, no.  Friends, the Parkers don't do cutesy family pics.  I believe it's God gift for my writing.  Plus, who wants some dumb ol' perfect picture, really?  Who wants something she can hang on her wall in a nice frame to look at and remember fondly?  I mean, not me! Pshh.  (silently weeps)

Okay explanation.  I would just like to note that I feel our individual personalities come across perfectly in this photo.  Let's go left to right.

1.) Whitney: not looking at the camera; not in her Easter dress.  Perfect.  Whitney had a poop explosion in her Easter dress and the backup outfit I had in her diaper bag hadn't been replaced in a while and it was too small for her (as you can see by her exposed legs).  Also, Whitney doesn't do anything she doesn't want to do, so don't make her look at some stupid camera.  Don't..DO.IT!  She's also a little bit of a snob.

2. Jeanette: Smiling because she wants a perfect family photo that she can hang on the wall in a frame to look at and remember fondly.  Oh, Jeanette, stop being anal, you silly girl.

3. Ben: When I want a posed pic, Ben usually humors me out of love with a complimentary eye roll.  He hates posing for pictures unless he can have his finger up his nose or can make some sort of tortured expression.  Also, he's trying to keep Eli from bounding out of his arms. 

4. Eli: Goofball, extraordinaire. When you ask Eli to smile, this is what he does.  He shuts his eyes and screams "CHEEEEEASSSE!"

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dream Boat

Happy Birthday
to the love of my life!

  Love that man of mine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March Mustache Madness

Oh, the madness.  At the beginning of March, my husband informed me that his employer had sanctioned a mustache growing contest and he would be taking part.  The catch -- he was not allowed to trim it, groom it, nothing.  He labeled it his "nice and nasty" mustache.  Nasty, indeed.

Below is a picture of Ben sans mustache.  He's quite the looker, no?  I should tell you that finding a picture of Ben where a.) his eyes aren't closed or b.) he isn't making a ridiculous face is like trying to find Bigfoot.  You can find one if you search, but they are elusive, my friends. (The preceding statement was in no way a confirmation that I believe in the existence of Bigfoot.)
He's mine, ladies.

Now, here is a picture of Ben and his mustache about 10 days in or so. All he needed was a creepy van and a pair of binoculars, and we would have had the makings of a terrifying Lifetime movie.

Aaaaand here is Ben at the end of his contest...practicing his pose for America's Most Wanted.

Now, these pictures do not do justice to what I was faced with.  He couldn't trim it, so when we kissed it was like I was canoodling with a Brillo pad.  Also, people with children would see us and turn and run. 

And here he is after shaving it off.  And the angels rejoiced.

I'm not sure if he won the contest or not, but it was a great time to be alive.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Whitney: 0; RSV: 1 - Whitney 5 Months

 5 months

Well, your fifth month was interesting.  And by interesting, I mean ulcer-inducing.  Around the middle of the month, your brother developed this cough wherein he would hack up vital organs.  He had a fever one night, I worried about him, the next day he was back to plotting his takeover of smaller island countries -- you know, for the views.  Then you developed this cute little hack.  Oh, it was adorable.  A day later, you just didn't seem like your smiley self, so I took you to see your sage grandmother, NP and she thought you were developing a little ear infection.  Your cough was sporadic and a little more intense.  But, I wasn't that worried.

Enter the worst 48 hours of my life (and I threw up on a commuter train once...do you know what the toilet on a commuter train looks like?).

That very night your cough turned into a "Dear God, did her lung come out with that one" cough and you developed a fever and you looked like you wanted to die; you would barely open your eyes.  You were still nursing, though, so I thought maybe we had hit the worst.  I slept sitting up on the couch with you with the humidifier going.  Oh, I forgot to mention that you were clogged to the eyeballs with snot.  I had to use the aspirator thingy and saline drops almost every hour on you.

That was not the worst.

The next morning, you looked pale, you wouldn't nurse, you were coughing so hard that grey matter was coming out, you couldn't breathe due to all the phlegm, and you would barely open your eyes.  I was sure you were dying of pneumonia.  It was so quick; you turned bad so quickly.

I immediately googled every life-threatening illness I thought you could potentially have.  After I diagnosed you with whooping cough with pneumonia, I called your doctor...the second they opened.
Your pediatrician was out of town, so I had to take you to his very sweet on-call doctor.  I think I cried the entire time I was in his office.  He examined you and said, "Yes, she go to hospital for the night."  Then my heart fell into my rectum.  The what?  Then in a very rational manner, I asked the sweet Indian doctor, "Is she going to die?"  And then the sweet Indian doctor said, "Mother, you are going to be okay?"  Because, oh yeah, I was crying uncontrollably.  He assured me you were fine.  He thought you probably had RSV (a respiratory virus), but he wanted to make sure you didn't have pneumonia, as well, and he wanted to get fluids into you because you weren't nursing. 

So, I called your dad and blubbered something unintelligible to him.  He was able to glean "hospital" and "possible pneumonia" from my sobs.  It's great that you have at least one rational, level-headed parent.  Because during an emergency, I basically shut down.  He assured me it was going to be all right and that he and Eli would meet us at the hospital.  Then, I called your grandma, your grandpa, sent out a mass text asking for prayer, alerted the Vatican, and ran a red light getting you to the hospital.

So, you were given an i.v., they suctioned snot out of you (during which I was put into a straight jacket), then suctioned you again to get a sample for tests, and put you on a monitor, mainly to keep track of your oxygen levels.  A couple hours later we were taken down for a chest x-ray.  You did not move when they placed you on the x-ray table.  Normally, you would flail as if ready to take flight, but nothing.  I started crying again.  Oh, also, you did have an ear infection and were placed on antibiotics.

To recount: i.v., suctioned, suctioned some more, monitor, chest x-ray, antibiotics for ear infection, mother in dire need of sedation.

Your tests came back positive for RSV, but negative for flu and pneumonia.  And after a few hours at the hospital, you seemed to be doing much better.  You slept through the night in a crib that I can only describe as the crib where they send baby delinquents.  The next morning, though, your oxygen levels kept falling, so they...prepare yourself...put you on oxygen.  I'm sure the nurses were ready to kick me out, because I went full on Shirley Maclaine in Terms of Endearment on them.  "Why is her monitor beeping?"  "Her heart rate monitor is beeping."  "She needs to be suctioned again."  "When will she be off oxygen?" "Let me see your licensing." "I would like to speak to the manager."  At one point, a nurse came in and said, "Why don't we just turn the monitor off.  She's fine."  And then locked the door behind her.

the saddest picture ever.

So, the nurse said you would probably stay another night.  Your dad came over to relieve me for an hour, the lovely Jen Decker came to my rescue and watched your brother for a few hours, I came home and packed a bag for the night and looked in a mirror for the first time in a 24 hour period only to discover my incessant crying had given my face a sort of Elephant man look.

When I got back to the hospital, the doctor came to check on you.  He told us that he thought you were doing much better and you could go home in a few hours.  Hooray! So, you were taken off the monitors, your i.v. was taken out, we were given a nebulizer and two prescriptions, and the nurses each cracked open a 40 in celebration of our departure.

I can't express to you how horrifying it is to see your child as sick as you were.  That feeling of powerlessness is overwhelming.  You were so sick, and all I could do was pray.  And, really, the situation was not as dire as I imagine it to have been.  Parenting is hard.  Your heart becomes so vulnerable.  I've said this before, but I cannot imagine raising children without my faith in Christ.  Because, honestly, I can't control your world (trust me, I've tried...stupid hypnotherapy).  You are essentially His, and I've been entrusted to help guide your way in this world.  Having you and your brother has helped me (a little -- I still have a long way to go) learn that He is in control, and as much as I coddle or read books or invest in child-size hazmat suits (they come in lovely shades of highlighter yellow), I can't protect you from everything. 

Okay, enough heavy.  Let's go the likes/dislikes portion of our monthly letter (a format I stole from Sara Falulah Luke).

At 5 months, you like:
  • your sophie giraffe.  This thing is amazing.  Perfect for gnawing, orally fixated babies (and that's why it's important to place commas correctly).  We don't leave home without it.
  • your crinkle book.  Another favorite toy right now.
  • your exersaucer. I put you in this last month, actually, but your love affair blossomed this month. 
  • your swing...still.  I've replaced the D batteries (which aren't cheap) in that swing 8 times now.  I never had to change them with your brother.  We tried to buy cheap batteries one time only to discover a couple days in that they were leaking battery acid.  Which is cool, if you're making meth, but we are not. 
  • me.  I'm not lying when I say that I will leave the room while your eyes are closed, and you'll start crying. You have this sixth sense...and it's...well, it's just terrific.  (when you're older, mommy will teach you about sarcasm.)  Don't get me wrong, darlin', I love, Love, LOVE being with you...it's just sometimes mommy needs her space.
  • my nasally, high-pitched pigeon voice.  Whenever I read any of the Pigeon books (by our favorite, Mo Willems) to your brother, I use this awesome nasal, high-pitched voice for the Pigeon.  And by awesome, I mean ear splittingly annoying.  I also use this voice when I'm changing your diaper...you know, to ease the tension.  You think it's HI-larious.  Just wait until I use it when your first boyfriend comes to meet us.  That and your father holding his shotgun should make for a lovely meeting. 
  • your monkey pacifier.  This thing is also amazing.  It's a pacifier attached to a little monkey.  Your LauraJean got it for you.  It's nice because if your pacifier falls out, it's easy for you to pop it back in.

At 5 months, you dislike:
  • naps.  When you got sick, your sleep patterns (if you can call them that) went out the window...and we have yet to see any normalcy return.  It's a dilemma right now.  You do nap, but they're not consistent and they don't last as long as they should. And you need your sleep.
  • when your swing stops.  
  • rolling over.  You'll do it, but it's like watching a turtle flipped onto its shell...you do the whole airplane move, flail your limbs, and cry.  It's presh.
  • Your Coldplay lullaby c.d.  It cures many a crying spell that occur whilst driving around town.
Please stop taking pictures. 
Tell her to stop.
      Not a lot of dislikes right now, but the no nap kind of makes life...difficult.  When you don't nap, life...it is-a-hard. Sleep training is a little more difficult this time around because I'm learning to balance taking care of you and your brother...and at this moment, your schedules are not aligned.   So, we'll just keep trying.  Until then, I will continue to buy Dr. Pepper in bulk.

      You are lovely to me, Scout.  And even when you don't nap and my brain feels like it's going to shrivel up and die from lack of sleep, I still think you are pretty great.  Happy five months, my lovely.

      Sunday, April 1, 2012

      Whitney: 4 Months - the abridged version...a month and a half late

      At 4 Months, you like:
      • your family...and that's about it.  Anyone else elicits a look of annoyance.  You're such a snob. 
      • your swing...an intervention is planned soon.  It's the only place you'll nap extensively during the day.  Soooo.
      • to poop.  You have at least one blowout a week...it's fun.
      • your pink fuzzy blanket.  You will not sleep without it.
      • your playmat.  It's so fun to watch you work at pulling the dangling animals down.
      • your hand, fingers, anything that you can fit into your mouth without me taking it away from you.  I'm not sure if you're teething, but you do not go a minute without either your pacifier or your fingers in your mouth.
      • your brother.  Seriously, that kid could sit on you and you would think it's hilarious.  Everything he does makes you smile. (We'll see how long that lasts.)
      • your moby wrap.  You love being carried around in it. 

      At 4 Months, you dislike:
      • tummy time...you still hate it.  Honestly, I'm not as good at making sure you have tummy time as I was with Eli, but you do spend time on your tummy daily, and you still hate it...with a fiery passion.
      • your crib.  Again, my fault.  Apparently, I didn't learn my lesson from your brother.  You sleep fine in the cradle-thingamajig next to our bed, but the second I lay you down in your crib, you act as if I just dipped you into acid.
      • non-elasticized pants.  And who can blame you, girl.  You've got quite the tummy, and that cute thing needs some give and stretch comfort.
      • your carseat -- at least not for extended periods.  So, traveling to Boston in a few months should be a blast.
      • bottles. Eli did not breastfeed; he refused.  So, when you nursed like a pro, I wanted to make sure you would stick with it.  So, I didn't attempt a bottle until about a month and a half after you were born, at which point you were like, "woman, please".  It's fine if you never have a bottle, it just means you and I are going to be like peas and carrots for the next year or so. 
       You are growing into quite a fun little girl, and your personality is starting to come out.  One of my favorite things about you (I mean, the list is quite extensive, but...), is your smile.  When you smile, you smile with your whole body.  Seriously, your shoulders go up, your legs stretch out, your face scrunches up.  It's perfect.

      I love you beyond eternity, my dear Scout.

      Friday, March 30, 2012


      February 2.

      That was the last blog entry.

      I suck at life.

      I haven't blogged in 2 months.

      So, here's somewhat of an explanation. 

      First, we have a computer from when Steve Jobs was a teenager making computers in his garage, and it moves like a 95 year old with bad knees (makes the same noises, too)...so importing photos and video takes 5 lifetimes.  Seriously, I will start the import process, go out and run some errands, make dinner, recite pi up to the millionth number and still not have my photos.  I have two wee kids, who don't manage themselves -- trust me, I've tried.  Thanks for nothing, Disney Channel.  (please know I'm kidding).  So, waiting for my computer is not something for which I have a lot of extra time.  (Please send all donations to "Buy-Ben-and-Jeanette-a-computer-because-she-quit-her-teaching-job-to-stay-at-home-with-her-kids-and-now-they-can't-afford-a-new-computer-and-are-saving-for-a-trip-to-Disney-World-for-their-kids-and-not-a-computer" fund).

      Secondly, our computer is in our room, away from aforementioned wee children and their area of play.  I feel some sense of guilt when I say to them, "Come on kids, mama's gotta do some typin on the computational machine...Eli, you start the crank so I can get it a-goin'."  (I guess I turn into an Appalachian woman when I talk to my children).   So, the only time I have to type is during nap time (don't get me started about nap time) or after my kids go to sleep...and that time is reserved for my DVR and Mr. J. Daniels (again, please know I'm kidding...I honestly get tipsy from an approved dose of NyQuil...I'm pretty sure smelling Jack Daniels would necessitate a stomach pump in the ER) (Notice how I didn't say anything about the DVR not being true?).  

      Thirdly, there are so many other things on my to do list, like chipping away at that mound of dirty dishes in my sink (please send donations for a fancy dish washing machine to my "Dear God, why did we buy a house without a dishwasher" fund), trying to make a dent in the ubiquitous amount of laundry in our home, paying our bills (do you feel sorry for me, yet?), trying to locate that dang smell, thinking about cleaning our room, watching TV...I mean important stuff.

      Finally, I'm really not that great of a writer and I'm a bit ADD.  What takes my smarter, more talented and focused friends 15 minutes  to whip up, takes me...longer.  I think of something to say, erase it because I'm sure it will offend someone, write something else, erase it because it will land me in a meeting with CPS, write something and Google whether or not I spelled that word correctly or in the right context, then I go to People.com and read about Hillary Duff's baby boy who has a very effeminate name, then I forget that I was writing a blog entry.  Soooo.

      So, I'm going to try.  It's important to me to write about my children, because they're growing up so quickly, and I want to capture the moments/events that I'm sure I won't remember due to all the Kardashian reality shows I watch.  Also, I'm pretty sure Whitney already hates me for not writing about her as much as I have with Eli.  My letters to them and my stories about them mean a lot to me, and I hope to them someday.  So, I'm posting this as an accountability thing. It's out there.  I will begin to write more.  My brain needs some sort of exercise and reading Chelsea Handler books ain't gettin' it done.  So, my goal is twice a week.  I don't think anyone but my mother reads this anymore (and maybe not even her since I have to tell her the name of my blog every time I've asked if she's read it), but I guess that doesn't matter; I just gotta dance write.

      I have Eli's 3 year post to put up still (for those of you keeping track, Eli turned 3 a month and a half ago) and Whitney's 4th and 5th months posts.  So, tomorrow, I'm hoping to get Whit's letters finished and then start uploading Eli's 3 year video I made him (so that post will be done around his 4th birthday).  Then, I'll write about what ever floats into the moth ball infested recesses of my brain. 

      Mmmmm...malted milk balls (see if you can trace back that line of thought).

      Thursday, February 2, 2012

      You Crack Me Up, Whitney - 3 months

      What's that?  Oh, you noticed that your 3 month and 2 month letters were written on the same day?  I have a perfectly good explanation.  You see, I actually wrote your 2 month letter a week after you turned 2 months.  But I was waiting to upload pictures from my camera and then upload the files from Iphoto and then I haven't been sleeping well these last three months and then there was that week our entire family had the stomach flu straight from Lucifer himself and then we ran out of Capn Crunch and then you turned 3 months...soooo, sorry. 

      The best thing about this last month is that you started sleeping 5 - 6 hour stretches at night.  Around the same time, my hallucinations stopped.  So, that was awesome.  We've pretty much gotten into a sort of schedule, which is nice for your anal mother who basically shuts down when things are in disarray. 

      5:00 a.m. You wake up to eat, and I think I wake up too.

      5:45 a.m. You go back to sleep, and I pray your brother will choose to sleep past 7:00.

      9:00 a.m. You wake up to eat and play.

      11:00 a.m.ish You take a nap...in your swing...b/c that's the only place you'll nap.  I try to prevent your brother from putting all your toys in your swing along with you.

      1:00 p.m. You wake up to eat and play.

      3:30/4:00 p.m. You take a nap with me...because I'm tired...and so are you...and your brother is sleeping, too.

      6:00 p.m. You wake up to eat and watch the Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy block.  You love mocking Trebek.

      8:00ish p.m. You take a little power nap.

      8:45ish p.m. You wake up to eat again and dance the night away.

      11:30 p.m. I plead with you to go to sleep.

      Midnight/1:00 a.m. You go to sleep for the night.  

      So, about that 8:45 - 1:00 a.m. stretch...if we could go to bed before infomercials start, that would be great.  Just throwing that out there.  

      Most importantly, you started laughing this month.  It is the most mellifluous sound.  I was de-linting your toes one night and heard this little giggle.  I looked at you and you were smiling.  So, I went back to de-linting your toes and you giggled again.  It was fantastic.  You're a regular Tickle-Me-Whitney without the matted, questionable red fur.  Sometimes around 11 at night, you'll just look at me and start laughing.  At first I was offended, but then I just started laughing back.  We'll just laugh back and forth for 15 minutes.  It's one of my favorite parts of the day.  Just a couple of slap happy gals.  

      I should also mention that while you fit into your 3-6 months tops, you is-a sportin' a slight muffin top with the pants.  Girl, you own that muffin-top.  Your tummy just sort of spills over any pants I put you in. It is the most adorable little inter tube ever.  

      Other fun stuff from this past month: you met your great-grandpa Rick and great-grandma and grandpa Parker; you were the only one in our house to not come down with the stomach flu, and praise Jesus for that; we've replaced the batteries in your swing four times now, and I'm sure it will accompany you to college; during one particularly tearful car ride home from the grocery store, I discovered that you heart Beyonce (and why wouldn't you?); and you love my animal impressions (and why wouldn't you?).  
      There are no words.
      You bring so much happiness to this house, Scout.  While it has been difficult adjusting to having two little ones, I wouldn't trade my sleepless nights, my thrown-up on clothes, or my inner tube tummy for anything.  Being with you and your brother every day is my favorite thing. 

      I love you, my sweet Scout. 

      Whitney: The 418th Most Popular Name in 2011

      Happy 2 months, my sweet girl.  So, last post I provided your birth story.  I thought I'd spend part of this post explaining how we arrived at your name.  I apologize in advanced that it's not a great story.

      Your dad was very non-committal with your name.  I would throw dozens of different names his way, and he would shoot down every one. EVERY ONE.  So, one night I made a list of 10 names and asked him to circle the ones he liked.  Whitney was the last name I put on the list.  I've always liked the name and once had a barbie doll named Whitney whose hair I was supposed to be able to curl with this plastic curling iron.  Whatever, Matel, you big fat liar! I digress.  Anyway, it was the only name he circled. 

      Whitney.  There we had it.  I liked it.  Your dad liked it.  Done deal.

      Then, I started practicing introducing my TWO children.  "Hi, this is Eli and Whitney."  Hmmmm...Eli and Whitney.  It sounds familiar.  Eli ... and...Whitney...Eli...Whitney. 

      Eli Whitney.

      The inventor of the cotton gin.

      I expressed my concern to your father.  "What if people think we're these avid Eli Whitney fans? What if people think we have a historic  museum dedicated to his prolific career (prolific used generously) in our basement?" 

      Your dad rolled his eyes and in his most laid back, lovable way said, "Who cares...that's the name of our daughter."

      Our daughter...beautiful sigh.

      So, do not fret, my lovely.  You are in no way some personified love letter to Mr. Eli Whitney.

      We settled on Elizabeth, or I should say your father conceded the name Elizabeth, because I wanted to name you after my favorite literary heroine, Elizabeth Bennet. 

      And there we are, Whitney Elizabeth. 

      A few days after you were born we had to take a quick trip back to the hospital to have some of your blood work redone.  It made your father so happy to tote his newborn daughter out into the cold because the hospital messed up.  So happy.  While we were there, a lady asked how we had settled on Whitney.  I looked at her with the most serious look and said, "My husband and I are HUGE Whitney Houston fans."

      That's not true, either.

      We don't have a secret tribute museum to Eli Whitney, and we are not members of any Whitney Houston fan clubs.  (However, I did wear out my Bodyguard soundtrack by dancing around my room singing "I'm Every Woman".)  What? No, I didn't.  Who said that?  yes I did. 

      You are not named after anybody (I mean, aside from your middle name).  We just loved the name.  It's a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. Aren't you glad you sat down for that story?

      Moving on to our second month with you.

      The most amazing thing happened this month..right at the beginning.  You and I were up late one night gabbing about how you wouldn't go to sleep and how The Artist is a shoo-in for the Oscar and how TiVo really is better than DVR when you looked up at me and...SMILED.  And then my heart melted all over the floor and I had to get out the Oxy clean.  It was incredible.  Best.smile.ever. 

      Since that fateful night, your smile has been dazzling audiences everywhere.  It's just incredible.

      Other highlights from this last month: you began cooing, you hate pepperoni (at least when I eat it), you and your swing are going steady, and you poop like no one's business. 

      You are lovely, my dear Scout.  And I thank Jesus every day for your life.