Monday, January 31, 2011

Evidently the End of Days is upon us, and Missouri is about to be blotted from the earth by the snowy hand of God. Or so the weather sites say. The MOG and I take a fairly casual approach to weather preparedness. He likes to read about how bad it's going to be, and speculate about chaos and martial law, and then not buy any groceries. Or we'll buy enough firewood, but no matches. Enough bottled water for 6 hours. Stuff like that.

My mom sees things differently. Always a keen studier of the weather, a storm like this one sends her into a planning frenzy. Here's the deal. She might be right. Possibly. And I can't ignore her concerns, both because she might be right, and because God pays attention to who is listening to their MAMAS. And if there is one way to get the Big One dumped on Missouri, right on my house, it's to wave off the concerns of my mom. So I'm listening.

Thus, I am off to buy sandwich stuff and water and firewood and matches and such. Then the storm will probably pass us by. But God will know.

Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm a bit of a yeller. And I'm not speaking colloquially, here. (how bout that word? dang.) I'm not saying I'm a coward or something, but rather that I tend to raise my voice frequently. I come from a long line of brief verbal outbursts, both angry and joyous, followed by periods of relative calm.

It seems effective, yelling. Everyone stops choking their sibling or riding mattresses down the stairs or feeding crackers to the baby and listens. The only problem is that I feel like I just fought a 3 year old and won. Not that they're disturbed by it. In fact, the basic raised voice has become the gateway drug to my kids, and now they require the shrill lady-prophet tone, or, on special occasions, the gym coach bellow. But is it effective, really? Or am I just the loudest for now?


Lately I've been watching the Duggars, you know, the conservative Baptist reality-TV family with 19 kids. You can feel however you want about them being patriarchal or misogynistic or slavedrivers or whatever, but I love them and this is my blog, so there. There are a lot of amazing things about this family, but the one that is rocking my socks is the lack of yelling. Holy moloney. She has like 10 kids under 10 and she talks in a sweet little baby voice all the time, and it works.

So I've been trying it, you know, bending down to be eye level and touching their face and speaking very gently. I think they're confused, or maybe scared. It seems to work all right, as long as I'm willing to stand up and walk to the scene of the crime. There's the challenge, though. It is much easier to yell futilely from another room or another floor and hope for the best, or at least a diversion.

I'm in the window here, I think, of forming our patterns for life. They're still little enough, I tell myself, that I can probably fix this. OR, I will decide to pick a different battle. Time will tell.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm finding it difficult to blog these days. I vaguely remember this phase with Toby and Brynn, where I seem to be busy a lot and yet don't seem to accomplish anything visible. In the MOGs younger days, he used to ask "What did you do today?" He doesn't ask that anymore. There are a lot of questions he doesn't ask anymore. Wisdom, boys.

I'm trying to be a writer, you know, and write things. I'm working on a couple of different projects now, and seeing how much I can get done between naps (Tristan's, not mine. no sleep for me ever again) and with a baby over my shoulder. Oh, and with a rock band practicing in my basement and preschoolers finding high surfaces to stage-dive from, usually directly into each other.

My mom is here for a couple of months, and she's cooking and cleaning and such, all the time. I'm not sure how or what we'd be eating or wearing if she wasn't here, may she live forever.

So, Tristan is kind of laughing these days, and Brynn is taking ballet, and everyone went sledding in the Traylor's back yard, and we made cookies and such. But the king in the baby swing demands homage, and homage he shall receive.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The quickest way to cure a kid is to take them to the doctor. 9 times out of 10, they will be miraculously healed between the waiting room and the exam room. "And you say 'Suzy' was unconscious, just moments ago?" the doctor asks, while writing sarcastic remarks in Suzy's chart.

I've seen them start breathing, stop bleeding and vomiting, rashes disappearing while their temperatures drop. The pediatrician smiles reassuringly at me, ME who has sat by the bedside of more than one brain surgery and countless seizures. "Might have been a virus," they say. Listen, it's not like I want them to be sick. I just want them to be unsick at my house. Oh, and if I don't take them in? They get really, really sick.

Most recently, we started taking R2 to a psychologist developmental/behavioral specialist, because of all these self-injury episodes. We sat in his office for almost 2 hours, waiting for R2 to pinch his arms or hit himself in the spine, like he was doing hundreds of times a day at home, and had been for weeks. Nothing. He calmly looked through books and moseyed through the toys. We got sent home with a stack of handouts and no real advice.

From about a week after that visit, he's just stopped. No more injurious behaviors. All we did was REPORT him. We had our follow-up visit today, and basically decided he's cured.

So maybe I'll just start calling "the doctor", like some of you have called Elmo or Santa to assist with potty-training or whatever. "Doctor!" I'll say. "Toby is puking his guts out! Mmm-hmm. Hmm? Okay, okay, we'll do that." and then see if that fixes 'em.

Friday, January 21, 2011

hey bloggerati! the MOG's band (and mine too, even if I've been promoted to full-time motherhood) is offering 1000 free downloads of our new album. Get you one :)


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This may come as a shock to you, but I am not terribly coordinated. In fact, I am what is commonly referred to as a klutz. 

When you're a kid, you don't figure out stuff like this right away. You run to get in line for kickball, and maybe you fall down 3 or 4 times before you get to the line. Once you make it into one of the last slots of a team, you watch kids run a few steps, solidly connect with the incoming ball, and send it reeling into the outfield. Then they have their glory run around the bases, everyone cheering. "I can do that," you think. 

As you stumble toward the plate, you trip over an untied shoe. Once that's remedied, you wait for the ball to roll in, and you extend your leg and foot with all your might, missing the ball entirely and launching your body into an awkward partial flip. You try to right yourself, and there's the ball, directly underfoot. Your teammates stare, amazed. Humiliated, you try to kick the ball anyway, and it rolls over to your direct left, where the teacher is standing, questioning her decision to come to work today. 

That's funny, right? Laugh it up, haters. 

Eventually, you learn it. You understand that you are uncoordinated, and someday you will make EVERYONE pay when your class has a spelling bee. Oh, they'll see then. But game days, you learn to develop mysterious stomach ailments or tough skin, to handle being picked last and then imploding across the coach's sport of choice. 

My senior year, they thought up a cruel punishment. "Anyone who sits out will write essays" they warned us, lady mullets bristling with foreboding. Seriously. I wrote essays for a YEAR.

My daughter Brynn, on the other hand, seems to maybe be one of the others. She can walk or run without tripping, and she can do flips and seems to be coordinated, at least so far. All this to say, Brynn will be starting ballet on Saturday, and I'm pretty excited. I think I see how one could live vicariously through their child. Maybe she'll even play volleyball someday, that exotic and complicated game of skill... maybe. 

In other news, if you haven't seen our family pix yet, mosey over here to see some of our favorites or here to see all 124. The fabulous Shelley Paulson shot these in December at Hermann Park. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

We had lunch with Tristan's birthfamily Friday. Honestly, you know, we're in the early stages of walking out open adoption, so it's all new and a little confusing to us. So much of life is like that, though. You have to make decisions, and so you make the best one you can, and then you live out what that decision means. 

When we first heard the visit request, it seemed a little soon. Tristan's only 2 months, and we thought the first visit was usually later, like 6 months. Still, we decided to go for it. One factor in ours being sooner than most is the fact that we finalized in 30 days, instead of the 6 months or a year some states require. 

As a mom, I was nervous. Originally we planned to bring the big kids, and then I had a sleepless night imagining all the inappropriate things Toby might say, so we axed that idea. I worried about how the baby would feel. Would there be some instinctive maternal tie, and he'd love her more than me? Would they think we were parenting him right? I obsessed a little about his cradle cap, his clothes, his fingernails. I worried they'd be resentful, they'd be regretful, wishing they hadn't placed him with us.

In the end, it went well. Once we were there, and his birthmom picked him up, I found myself hoping he'd love her, smile at her. I didn't feel jealous, I felt proud of what a perfect baby he is, how beautiful he is, how alert and bright. I wanted him celebrated. We passed him around the table, from arms to arms, celebrating him. We talked and we ate, trying to find common ground here and there, always coming back to the primary common ground in his Pooh overalls.

When he was finally handed back to me, I wrapped my hand around his little back instinctively, and he nestled into place on my shoulder. We belong together, he and I.

We took pictures of his birthmom and dad holding him as we were leaving, and I could feel the ache in her to just hold him a little bit longer. I can't imagine what that feels like, saying goodbye again. I told her to hold him for a little while, and she did. When she was ready, she buckled him in his carseat and we all hugged and said goodbye. His grandma whispered in my ear, "Thanks for taking such good care of him." I think a little piece of my heart healed, hearing her confidence in their decision. 

So, another open adoption first. What a precious gift they've given us.

Tristan and his first mom

Friday, January 14, 2011

I am so thankful that people read this blog. I started it 5.5 years ago, to keep my family updated on my Toby pregnancy. My main goal was to avoid having to talk on the phone. Years later, it still works. Go ahead, try to call me.

So thank you, readers. Some days when there is nothing going on, I just try to think about what is funny in the nothing and write it for you, because I know you like to laugh with me, or at me, whatever. 

Today is National Delurking Day (in the blogosphere) so please speak up in the comments and tell me a little about yourself, even if I already know all about you. Don't worry about all the sign in stuff, if you aren't already logged into Blogger, it's easy to comment using Anonymous. 

In other news, we had our first birthfamily visit today. More about that next week.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tristan is 2 months old today. To celebrate, we shot him up with diseases.

Maybe you're already choking on your kombucha as you search for a pen to write me some hate mail on the back of a Whole Foods receipt. Chill. I have vaxed and not vaxed and delay vaxed, and I've done the research and such. I am honestly pretty neutral either way, so do whatever you want.

Where it got tricky for me was a few months ago, when my friend Susan started blogging about the connection between certain vaccines and aborted fetal stem cells. As a pro-life parent, this is horrifying. Basically, there are a few stem cell lines that have been used to develop these vaccines for over 40 years. The good news is, some of the vaccines affected have an alternate vaccine. You can look at a pretty good chart here, although the graphics are a little early 90's.

I found out Tristan was scheduled to receive Pentacel today, which is one of those lines. Here's the deal... I have a lot of respect for medicine. My micro-preemies ALL had their lives saved multiple times by medical technologies and interventions. I don't buy everything a doctor says, necessarily, but I respect their knowledge and I hear what they have to say. So I was a little paranoid about going in there wild-eyed waving papers I printed off the internet.

I did print the charts, though. I tried to use 2 different websites, to have a little more credibility, and I explained up front that I had ethical concerns about Pentacel, a cocktail of 3 vaxes in one injection. Interestingly, she had heard of the stem cell controversy, and she said she had a chart in her office mapping which vaxes were connected, but she hadn't heard the Pentacel was one.

There were a couple of alternatives given on the sheet I printed: Pediarix, which was another cocktail, but no fetal cells, and the other option was individual injections of the 3. We had to go with the separate shots, since they didn't have Pediarix. (we probably could have requested it and come back, but I was okay with the solo shots). In the end, he got 5 shots instead of 3.

It gets a little trickier when he gets older, as some of the 1+ yr vaxes don't have easy alternatives. It was good, though,that this pedi really respected my making this decision on moral grounds. I think when we get to that age, she might not have an objection to us not using those vaxes. Regardless, we won't be getting them.

If you want more info on all this, there is a lot on Moral Outcry, just search "vaccines" on there, or Google something like "which vaccines have aborted fetal stem cells".

Oh, and Tristan? TEN pounds 12 ounces. Developmentally perfectly on track. After his shots he cried for about 30 seconds and then tried to eat my shoulder, so, good.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I've never been a helicopter parent. I don't know, maybe it's all the birth trauma and then waiting while they get stuff put inside their skulls. Makes day-to-day life a little simpler.

So maybe they've eaten dirt or fallen down a few stairs. Or they've run too fast in the living room and had massive WWF-style collisions. So maybe they've eaten french toast sticks they found under the toy rack in the thrift store, licked the carpet in the hotel (just for fun), flushed a collection of small plastic boats down the toilet, eaten an entire bag of Hot Fries in one sitting and had terrible, explosive consequences. So they've maybe tried to climb out of the cart at Wal-Mart and landed on their head.

I guess you could call me laid-back. I used to be more conscientious about dressing them, though. They always looked cute, wandering unattended in the grocery store. Now they tend to look like Annie's buddies from the orphanage. Brynn dresses herself, out of necessity. She dresses kind of like the Olsen twins, post-adulthood, with the layers and the hobo-wear. Toby has fashion dyslexia, and somedays wears all of his clothing backwards, including his underwear ("so I can see Spiderman!" he explains). I take it all in, and I just let it happen. Someday I won't be so tired, and besides, all those layers and hats should help the next time they fall out of the basket.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Recently, I got a job. I'm going to be a welder.

Not really. Actually, I have a very lazy left eye and a highly dominant right eye, and the one profession the optometrist urged me to steer clear of is welding. I've never totally understood that. Couldn't I, theoretically, lose an eye in any profession? I mean, life can be pretty rough, even for non-welders.

Anyway. I am copy-editing and proofreading guitar pedal descriptions for a website. JHS Music, to be precise. Scuttlebutt in my basement and other places rock & roll is, they're the best. These pedals make all the other pedals look like you bought them at Toys-R-Us. If you bought these pedals, all your other pedals would be so embarrassed by their weakness, they'd commit gear suicide, just to get away from your pedal board.

So I'm working about 2 hours a day, editing, which translates to about 6 hours a day, taking breaks every 45 seconds to break up a toddler fight or save Tristan from himself. Tristan particularly likes hanging over my shoulder, puking down my back as I tweak paragraphs.

I've been married to a guitarist for about 30 years, so I have had plenty of opportunity to learn how to talk about guitars. I read one pedal description in a magazine, years ago, that said "This pedal screams like a banshee and purrs like a kitten." Magic, that.

So far, I'm just editing written content, not writing any of my own. I'm thinking of them, though. Stuff like, "This tone's such a monster, you'll have to call the Pentagon to shut it down..."

"This reverb will make you feel like Julie Stinking Andrews, yodeling on a Swiss mountaintop..."

There's more where that came from, folks. But first, I should probably get back to editing. Because you people don't pay me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

disclaimer: this is a general manual, and not directed, specifically, at anyone I am married to, specifically.

Congratulations! You are now the proud father of a Human Baby™! Human babies come in 2 basic models, Baby Boy and Baby Girl. You can identify your model by looking for product specifications, located inside your Baby's diaper.

Troubleshooting Guide to your Human Baby™:

My baby is sleeping:
This is okay. Human Babies™ need a lot of sleep. This is a perfect chance for you to practice NOT yelling up the stairs, testing your guitar amp, or picking up the baby just because he is so cute.

My baby is crying and I can't find my wife:
First, pick up your baby. Some Human Babies™ like to be held close to the chest, others prefer to be facing outward. Experiment with positioning your baby.

I am holding my baby and he/she is still crying:
Try standing up and walking around, while holding your baby. 

I stood up for a second, but the baby still cried. Can I just put him down and tweet my wife?

No. Your wife is probably busy, or she would be there, standing up holding the baby. See if the baby has a wet or dirty diaper. 

I don't know how to change a diaper:

My baby does not appear to have a wet or dirty diaper, and he/she is still crying:
Perhaps your baby is hungry. You can prepare a bottle, either by following the instructions on a can of formula, or by following breastmilk reheating instructions, located in over 20,000 locations at

I fed my baby a bottle and then he/she threw up. I am ill. I think maybe I have the flu and I need my WIFE.
You are probably not that ill. Wait a minute and your wife will very likely finish the first shower she has worked in in 3 days.

My baby is asleep, and my wife will say, "See? Wasn't that easy?" and it totally wasn't easy:
Next time, maybe use a nanny-cam on yourself, so she can see your efforts and post them on her facebook page. 

Again, congratulations! Very soon your Human Baby™ will be a Human Toddler™! Buy the Upgrade Manual early and get a head start!

Monday, January 3, 2011

I think every parent has hopes that their kids will be a certain way. Richy and I used to joke about grounding our kids for making the football team, back when we were in high school and classist. We're much more mature now. Still, honestly, there's a part of me that really, really doesn't want my kids to be nerdy. 

It's okay if they're holy, technologically advanced, eloquent and strangely polite. So, nerds. But not the other kind of nerd that eats their boogers and can't find anywhere to sit in the cafeteria. Anyway, all that to say that when they show "cool" traits, we celebrate. 

The likelihood of Toby being a jock is becoming increasingly slim, as it is still difficult for him to walk from the couch to the door without falling down. I'll still probably put him in kid sports, just to keep him off my bladder for 45 minutes a week, but, you know, I'm not really kidding myself. Maybe some late-breaking athlete gene will pop up. Maybe. 

For his birthday, I bought him an electric guitar from the thrift store. It cost me $1.98 and I never asked the MOG what it cost to repair, because, hey, $1.98! Score! 

And I am relieved to find, at least for now, that the songwriter/rockstar characteristic is good and strong. Also, maybe some kind of metal edge... time will tell.

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