Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Annual Update Time

I received a complaint recently from a reader who will remain nameless that my most recent post, which is going on one year old and features multiple close-up shots of Forrest's impressive and resilient snot bubble, did not make for a pleasant viewing experience when visiting this blog. I was tempted to update it with only this picture:
Baby diaper butt crack > baby mega snot bubble, right?

But I decided to opt for an actual family update instead. It has been almost a year since my last post, after all, so I guess I can make this an annual thing.

We'll start with this guy:
Forrest turned a whopping 2 years old in August, and certainly acts like it. He is either completely 100% adorable or completely 100% demonic at any given time, and there is very little activity in the middle of the spectrum. He loves to give hugs and kisses (only lip-to-lip kisses, much to the delight/dismay of various extended family members who either love/hate lip kisses from sloppy toddlers who could stand to work on their technique), is still obsessed with cars (although he's added airplanes ['air-taaaay!'] and motorcycles ['dadachoo!' . . . sorry, I can't explain that pronunciation] and trains ['choo-choo!'] to the obsession list for variety), loves any sort of gadget/technology (he is a pro at touch-screen phones and iPads), enjoys books (although he is more of a speed-flipper than an actual reader), and loves riding his tricycle outside, going to the park, singing/dancing, and playing with animals. He also is very interested in helping lately, which is kind of a shame. Cute, but not conducive to getting things done in a timely fashion. New adorable tricks include kissing the top of my hand when I hold it out and say, "Good day to you, sir," (I'm really focusing on teaching him life's greatest priorities first--he can't speak English but at least he can treat a lady with respect!), and shouting "Oh noooooo!" with his hands over his mouth when something scary/bad happens in a movie, or if he knocks down toys or destroys something (I'm starting to think he destroys things on purpose so he can have a reason to say "oh nooooo!"). He has a hilarious little personality and loves to show off and make people laugh. He's super snuggly lately and his absolute favorite thing to do is cuddle on the couch with me and Jeff and watch a movie.


As adorable as all those things are, he is, unfortunately, also part hellion. Trips out in public are always disastrous, and he can throw one hell of a tantrum (how many times can I fit the word 'hell' into this paragraph?) both in public and at home. It's a little depressing to always be the 'bad mom' with the 'bad kid' in public, but I'm hoping it's just a stage he's passing through and it will get better with time. I signed him up for daycare two mornings a week so I can have a chance to run errands, grocery shop, clean, etc. without dragging around a screaming 2-year old, and I think it's the best parenting decision I've made so far. He loves to go to daycare, and for the first few weeks, would always cry and cling to the teacher's legs when I showed up to bring him home. I was worried that he wouldn't have fun, since it took a good 6 months or so of nursery at church before we could leave him there without him throwing a fit, but he took to daycare right away and has a blast. When I tell him it's time to head to Miss Jen's house, he races around in a frenzy to find his shoes and get in the car. And when I drop him off, he races in, hugs his little girl friend who is always waiting by the door for him to arrive, waves bye, and slams the door in my face. Plus, I get 6 hours of child-free sanity each week which has been amazing for me, mentally and emotionally. I actually look forward to picking him up from daycare (which we have renamed YAYcare) and seeing him again, rather than cringing when I hear him shouting for me or waking up from a nap. And I think it's been very good for him, too--not only does he just have a good time there, but he seems to be learning to talk more quickly than before, and socializing better, too. 

He's been receiving Early Intervention care for like 8 months or so to help with some speech delays. I was skeptical at first about how much it would help (to the untrained eye, it sure looks like they're just playing with him for an hour), but I do think it's helping. I just received a write-up of his development based on some testing/assessments they did last month, and was really happy to see that he is not actually very far behind the average stats for his age group. He is right on track with cognitive development, slightly behind (2-3 months') in receptive and expressive communication and fine motor skills, and is actually ahead of the game in gross motor skills, 'self-help' (meaning his independence, ability to do things alone, help get dressed, follow instructions, etc.) and social-emotional development. It's exciting to watch him learn and grow, and encouraging to see that he's not actually very far behind in his speech, and makes up for it by being a bit advanced in a few areas. It's tough to see other kids his age seeming so far ahead of him (and of course, I always interpret it as me failing him in some way), so I was really encouraged by his test results.

On to the bigger man of the house:
Jeff is doing great! He accepted a new position in June and has really enjoyed it so far. His new job involved opening a new office for an existing clinic in Salt Lake, and it's been a great learning experience for him to be basically in charge of the clinic and running it almost entirely alone. He is an independent sort of guy, so he loves being able to make decisions for the clinic and be the only doctor there. Plus, this clinic is 99% Hispanic, so he likes being able to use his Spanish skills on a daily basis and work with the Hispanic demographic.

He continues to be out of his mind in terms of fitness and is running a half marathon next weekend, despite counseling every patient in his care who mentions a love of running against doing exactly that. He has the goal of doing an Iron Man triathlon before he is 30, and I have the goal of seeking mental help for him long before that time comes. (But all kidding aside, he is a great athlete and very passionate about fitness, and has even lost 40ish pounds over the past year as a result of all this, so more power to him. I find it hard to talk myself into a 20-minute workout a few times a week, so I'm always impressed with his commitment to exercise.)

He's also been working hard on our new house that we bought in June and moved into in July. It was a short sale, which meant we got a great house for a great price in a great neighborhood, but also meant that the great price was due to serious neglect and abuse by its prior owners. It had great bones and we loved the layout, but it's been a lot of work for both of us (but mostly Jeff). He put in new wood flooring throughout most of the house, helped me paint everything, installed a new sink and countertops in the kitchen, changed light fixtures, tamed the jungle of a yard, etc. He's done a wonderful job and our house is really looking so much better.

That's all I can think of for him, so that just leaves yours truly:
 I've also been working a lot on the house (I did most of the painting, gave our kitchen cabinets a makeover, and of course have been trying to decorate it on a budget) and love seeing it improve and reflect my style. I said 'our style' the other day which Jeff seemed to feel was a stretch, so I'll be honest and just say he has not had much of a say in the design. But he put in a request this morning for a 'weapon display wall,' so I think we've made the right choice in putting me in charge of the decorating.

I continue to keep busy with my etsy shop and other blog, and really enjoy crocheting and sewing still. I keep waiting to get burned out and never want to pick up a crochet hook again, but I'm still going strong.

One flaw I see in the blog/internet world is a lack of honesty. It's so easy/tempting to make things look picture-perfect and wonderful all the time (and I totally understand why--of course we all want to put our best foot forward and not dwell/harp on the difficult or negative parts of life), but I'm not sure that does anyone any good. Besides all the work it must require to keep up the rainbows and sunshine 'all is well in Zion' facade, it tends to alienate everyone else who feels they don't measure up to that supposedly perfect life and then feels like a failure because of it. So at the risk of sounding depressed or ungrateful or pessimistic (or whatever other reasons people use to not be more honest about their lives), I'll go ahead and just tell you God's honest truth: I've been struggling lately. Being a mother is very hard for me--it has been from day one and I'm starting to really doubt that it ever gets much easier--and I very easily get discouraged and depressed with myself as a mother and as a person, with Forrest for not being the constantly perfect angel I expected/hoped for, and with the drudgery and monotony of being a stay-at-home mom. I've just felt kind of incomplete and unfulfilled recently (and, if I'm really being honest, probably since before Forrest was even born). I have a huge amount of respect for stay-at-home mothers, especially the ones who manage to fill their time with constructive activities with their children, playtime, outings, learning, etc., and still run their household, but it's increasingly difficult for me to be at home most of the time and feel like I'm never accomplishing anything meaningful or doing anything that makes me feel talented/smart/important/useful. And I'm anticipating kindhearted comments to the tune of, "Of course you're talented/smart/important/useful, what more important/useful thing could you possibly be doing, you're raising a child!" And while I agree with that and I know it's eternally important to be raising Forrest, it is so exhausting and draining to spend all my time doing just that. There has to be something to keep me going, too. For a long time, my shop helped fill that role, but I've been feeling particularly empty lately and have tossed around quite a few ideas to fill that gap, none of which have really gone anywhere yet, so I guess I'm waiting now for some inspiration to strike or doors to open, and in the meantime, am just keeping busy with Forrest's needs, working on our house, and crocheting for my shop orders.

I hope that doesn't sound ridiculous or depressing or stupid or whatever, but I think it's kind of unfortunate that, as a whole, women/mothers don't seem to feel comfortable being honest with each other about their lives and emotions and goals and the reality of our daily lives, so I'm just tossing that out there. Maybe someone will relate.

So in conclusion, we are doing pretty well. Forrest is an awesome kid, Jeff is happy with work and learning quickly, and I'm enjoying my time with Forrest and our progress on our house, and am also kind of searching for something to help me feel more me again. I suppose I'll see you in a year for our annual blog update?

13 comments:

  1. haha! Love the diaper butt crack. Too funny! So great to have an update on you all. And about the whole mothering challenge bit: can I just say how much I love you! I have found that mothering is often hard and mundane with some darling sunny moments in between. Toddlers are exhausting! The tantrums and limited verbal abilities coupled with the increased desire for autonomy and communication is enough to drive me batty some days. And while I love my children dearly and wouldn't really trade being home with them for working full time there is part of me that yearns to use my brain/gifts/abilities to interact with other adults and get paid to do it, especially when money is tight. My ideal would be to work part time and stay home the rest, satisfying my need to use the noggin' and bring in some money, as well as have a break from the kiddos. Sadly, my super useful (snort!) degree doesn't lend itself well to that. Maybe someday, right?

    Anyway, short version: on some level I get it. And kuddos to you for being willing to blaze your own path (like putting Forrest in Yaycare a couple times a week). I know it can be hard to diverge from that "ideal"

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  2. Forrest is so handsome! Thank you for your post, I like honesty more than anything else in the blogs I read, I think. ALSO we should start a book club! For my part, since being a mother, even though it's only been 6 months, I feel there is some lack of mental stimulation and real intellectual engagement because there's so little opportunity to do the things that would normally use my brain, ya know?

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  3. Also, I think there are good things that I appreciate about working. At first I hated it and wished I didn't have to work, but now that I'm back in the swing of things, I can appreciate it more. Overall, having a job for me is not the thing that helps balance my life, I don't think. Maybe if I had a cooler, less boring, more challenging, more accountable job . . . mostly I feel good about the limited financial stability it provides, and little else. After 3 years at my job I have come to have a cynical view about working and believe that most jobs are unfulfilling, ultimately. Not sure if that's true.

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  4. I love your honesty and reading your blog. You are a mother to a crazy cute boy! I have 3 and yes it is so hard somedays unmanageable! Sometimes I want to lock myself in my room with gingerale, laid back, with kalai music in the background. I literally have daydreams of this...LOL! If it could just be quite for just 2 seconds! My day is centered around how other little peoples days go and somedays its exhausting! In the great scheme of things I know we are doing Gods work which helps me get through those "pull you eyelashes out" moments! Motherhood is not all rose gardens that is for sure, especially with rambunctious boys! I need a girl to lower the testosterone in my house...LOL! I always enjoy reading your blog.

    I am glad you guys are doing well and with Jeff's practice. Thanks for the update...

    -Kerri

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  5. 1. I think a weapons wall would be awesome
    2. I can totally relate. Every 2 years or so I go thru an "I need someting else" phase, and try things till I find it. Sometimes it's going back to school (Lots of great online schools, or learn something new at community college). Sometimes the remedy is to move (you've checked that off of your list. Sometimes I pick up a video game. Poke around until you find what you were looking for.

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  6. I love Forrest's trick of kissing your hand when you say, "good day to you, sir." Bahahaha! I wish I could see that in person!

    I think the daycare idea is great! Everyone needs "me time." For sure.

    I also think you're an amazing mother. I look up to you. (and Cory looks up to Jeff. I swear if we were neighbors for any longer, there may have been a little bro-mance) Honestly though, you do so great with Forrest. I greatly appreciated your insight after I had Carson. And I totally know what you mean about having something to keep you going. I have to make lists everyday of things I'm going to do. (I'm a list person, okay.) I need to craft and sew new things so I'm doing something other than being a housewife. That's what keeps me going. We all have our thing. I hope you find your new thing soon!

    I love reading your blogs! They are so refreshing!

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  7. I really hear you. Being a mom is hard. I loved being a student, and even working at least I felt like I was -accomplishing- something and getting feedback. I have a hard time doing "homemaking" things (cleaning, especially) because they never stay done, and, for the amount of effort involved, I don't get much reward/feedback. You know? I spend way more time than I should on my computer doing video-editing and scrapbooking, but I try not too feel -too- guilty about it, because I need to accomplish something that's not going to get messed up, and I need to stay sane. I think the daycare thing is awesome. I think that would have made a big difference to me when Reilly and Jaina were that age. (I never had just one "that age" but I've decided that in many ways, one small child is harder than several young children.) Seriously, I am so glad that my 3 are pretty close, because I don't feel that bad about not entertaining them all the time. That's WHY I have more than one child (aside from the eternal reasons). So that can play with each other so that I don't have to. I love my kids a lot, and I try to meet all their needs, but I'm not a "fun" mom. And that's okay. Just because we don't fit into a perfect or attractive mold of what a good mother is doesn't mean we aren't. Hang in there. And consider having more. I know that seems counter productive, and the newborn phase can be rough, (I would hope/think that it will be easier than it was for you last time) but it actually makes things easier in some ways as they get older. My two cents. I don't know if other people find that to be true.

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  8. So *they can play, not "that" can play...

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  9. Oh, PLEASE blog more than once a year, your blog is the only one that makes me laugh EVERY time I read it. PLEASE.

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  10. Okay so I got REALLY excited to see that you made a post and thank goodness you have the backbone to make a post like that! I never open up or explain how I feel when it comes to the hardships of motherhood on my blog because in my experience moms can be...well...pretty darn judgemental!! I have made many a posts like yours and then gone back and deleted the post a few minutes later. I think that it is hard enough being a Mom, seeing yourself at your worst, and then have others critize you for expressing your feelings about how hard it can be. I think when you become a Mom, 99% of your life is being a Mom, and so the thought of someone thinking I am a bad mom would destroy me..so then I keep your feelings in, and then it only alienates me even more and makes me even more depressed on the hard days. At Palmer I felt like I had a good support system of moms that I could share my woes with, you being an awesome one, and since moving here to Meridian I have had a really rough time especially this month with just feeling like how to fill up my day with the kids. On the other hand, on a positive note,I will say that it WILL get better you are in such a rough stage because of the age that Forrest is in. You provide EVERYTHING for him and all you get is tantrums, whiny, and being stuck ya know. Yes you get the smiles, giggles, and some rays of sunshine but you still have all those annoyances of toddlerdome. Wait till he can start talking and is more independent with doing things on his own!! I promise just wait it WILL get better! My golden age for kids is 3. Some people are huge baby people, but I am not one of them. I like when they are 3 and up...and I think you will be the same way!! And if you want me to be really honest it would actually be easier if you had two because then he would have someone to play with. I think that's my problem with Dylan because Bay and Tay play and all Dylan wants to play with is ME! It's non stop I want to possess Mom at all times. He cries if I go upstairs, he cries if I go downstairs without him, and he is 2..well almost 2:) This is really long and I don't even know if this helps, but just know that you are not alone I feel the exact same way at times! You should call me whenever you are struggling...I totally get it! I do think the longer that you are a Mom..the more time you learn how to cope with the hardships. I have fewer "hard" days as a Mom than I did a few years ago as a Mom. I actually want to make a bet with you:) because we are going to be soo rich as Doctor's wives and all haha that you are going to love the age of 3! And when I win you can take me out to lunch or dinner when I come to visit Utah next!:)

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  12. Excellent post, as always. I thoroughly enjoyed it :-) You are an awesome mama, and Forrest is one beautiful and funny little 2 year old! Oh, and I can't forget Jeff - you picked a winner!

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  13. Hi cousin Rachel. If you want some real internet honesty, I will tell you that my three year and three month old girl starts screaming if the words "potty," "toilet," or "underwear" so much as form on my lips. Motherhood is hard. I keep wondering how people can have five, six or more children and still put even a fake smile on most days. And of course, we tend to compare our worst with others' best (like those mothers who have their kids potty trained before age 2, grrrr).

    And by the way, I have NOT found having two kids to be easier, nor has age three been easier than age two. I'm not saying you should or shouldn't have more (goodness knows I have no right to any input in that regard), but you will do what is best for you and your family. And I do think (hope....really hope)that it will be easier when they're older.

    My sister-in-law had three kids in the period of two years and three months, and after her third was born, she about had a nervous breakdown. She tried to fill that "gap" with making things, exercise, other pursuits, but eventually found that the only way to fill it and keep herself grounded was studying the scriptures every day so she had the power to overcome negative feelings. I'm NOT insinuating that you are lacking in your scripture study or need to be more spiritual, nor am I saying that you shouldn't have other hobbies, but I do think it's important to remember that feelings of fulfillment and self worth can really only come from one place, and everything else is either artificial or transient. I also think we have different needs at different times in our lives. I used to work part-time and enjoyed it, but quitting that job was very freeing. I also used to craft, exercise, write witty blog posts, etc. Now I feel like I don't do much at all outside of cooking, cleaning, and physically caring for children. But I know I'll eventually find new or past interests again. In the meantime, I do what I can and carry on.

    I wonder if we will ever have a big family reunion again. It would be fun to get to know each other as adults and see our children interact.

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