Archives

Cupcake: I’ll take the Spiced Cake, please

With my due date now less than two months away, I am becoming increasingly aware of how time is ticking by. This pregnancy still seems to be crawling (and I’m okay with that), but I know I will look back and say how quickly it all went. And I will lament that I never cherished it enough, and that I can no longer remember how Cupcake asked “Do you want a hug, Mommy?” when I was crying last night during an overwhelmed-mom moment, or how Skittle wanders through the house every day calling “Waaaah waaaah waaah” as she searches for her water bottle just as my beloved childhood cat would prowl around crying for me to hold her.

These days alone with my girls, just me and them while Daddy is at work and we are free to snuggle and fantasize and play to our hearts’ content, are numbered. Poppy is coming. Every day his arrival is one day closer and, once he is here, I know that everything will be different. The days will become a blur for a while. I will forget to memorize the way Cupcake’s hair curls at the ends. I will forget how Skittle stands in front of our coat closet and “sings” her jibberish and, when we clap at her performance, she takes a little bow. I’m going to forget who they are and I’m not going to have the time to savor everything they are becoming. I’m not always going to have the time to hold them, smell them, feel them against me. It’s sad, but it’s true. That’s just what happen when a new baby comes into the home. Life shifts and moves in mysterious ways.

And so with that said, I want to write two posts some time within the next few weeks, one dedicated to each of my girls, in an effort to memorialize who they are right now. Of course, I know it’s impossible. Capturing the essence of everything that someone is on paper really only reduces them to a 2D version of themselves. But it’s something. It’s better than not even trying. Years from now, it will remind me of the details that will be hardly a whisper of a memory anymore.

These posts are going to be long, but I’m doing this for myself. Because I am desperate to hold on. And I’m doing this for them, so that they know I did my best, and I loved them then as much as I will in every day after this one.

This one is for Cupcake.

_____________

Cupcake.

My firstborn. She’ll be five in November, which is incredible and unimaginable, and also seems like a long time coming.

Let’s start with the hard stuff, the stuff no mother likes to admit to. Because the truth is, it has not often been easy to be Cupcake’s mama. I hate labels and yet if there is one for her, it would be “strong-willed.” She is a strong-willed, challenging child who tests me at every corner. Please don’t tell me that is the nature of a toddler. All you have to do is watch her with her peers (not in just one moment, but in a collection of similar moments) and know that she is entirely different. She has been a challenge since shortly after her first birthday, when the tantrums started way earlier than I ever imagined they would. She was the child at a farm playdate when she was just 18 months old who was crying and screaming because I wouldn’t let her touch the rabbit pellets (poop) or because she couldn’t put her fingers into the chicken pens, while all the other children paraded around, following behind their mothers like good little chicks, just happy to see and touch the animals that they could. While it has gotten better with age and improved verbal skills, it is like this to some degree, in some way, at every single playdate. I’m not exaggerating.

As part of this strong will, she is terribly defiant. When I ask her to stop doing something, she will ignore me. When I ask her to do something, she won’t. When I tell her not to do something, she will try to do it as fast as she can, before I can even complete my sentence, so that she can say I never told her not to do it. And the more I want something from her (like saying “sorry” when she accidentally hurts someone or shaking someone’s hand at church), the more she resists. I am no master of indifference, but I’m learning to be, because it’s often the only way to get through to her. This, I will concede, is probably partly because of her age, but it’s to a heightened degree. It like this with nearly everything. Just yesterday, right before “quiet time” (no more naptimes for her), I started picking up the scarves and hats she and her sister had been playing with and she was upset because she wanted to play with some of them still. So she went to their toy grocery cart and upended it, sending “groceries” everywhere and making an even bigger mess for us to clean up. It’s moments like this that often make me feel like a failure as a mom, like, “Why can’t I just get her to listen?! And cooperate?! And BEHAVE?!” And it’s made especially difficult because she and I clash fiercely in this way. While I am the person who is uber-agreeable, willing to make sacrifices and go out of my way to please others (also, not always a desirable trait, I know), she is just the opposite. So it’s hard for me to understand and embrace this side of her.

And yet, I don’t want to let myself start wishing for an easier child. Her will is part of her. Whom I love far beyond space and time. And everyone assures me that a “strong-willed” child can be difficult, but they are going to achieve great things. They know exactly what they want after all. (And I can attest to that…”NO! Do NOT tickle me!” and “I don’t want the blue bubbles. Only pink!” and “DON’T talk to be like that, Mom.” and “I will NOT wear that!” and “I need five more minutes!” and…and…and…) So she’s going places. But I already knew that. I’m just a little terrified for the ride.

Cupcake is also toy-obsessed. Which I find curious since Honey and I are not the types of parents who buy their kids a toy every time they go to Target. She gets toys for her birthday, Christmas, and Easter, and occasionally if we find a good deal at Goodwill or go on vacation, and that’s it. Seriously. And yet…she is the child (the only one of 15 or 20, mind you) who is crying at a friend’s birthday party because she wants this toy and that one and every other one that the birthday girl unwraps. And I am the parent wiping her tears, whispering in her ear that she can add it to her wish list, and feeling oh-so-embarrassed. When we brought home a toy for each of our girls from Goodwill a few months ago, she sobbed because she wanted her sister’s toy just as much as she wanted her own and, in what I know was very real pain to her, she said, “I wish [Skittle] had never been born. She should have stayed in your tummy forever.” And just the other day, out of the blue, she started crying because she wants the same giant doll house as her best friend has…which led to a discussion about how we don’t have room for that because Skittle will soon be moving into her room so that Poppy can have Skittle’s room and Cupcake’s subsequent declaration that she doesn’t want a baby brother (whom she very much wanted five seconds before and after) anymore. Le sigh. It still baffles me, but I’m rather used to it by now. This is just how we roll ’round here. And some day, I trust, she will learn that there is more to life than dollhouses and puppy purses and every other toy on the planet.

And for all struggles that I have with Cupcake, there is so much to love about her. She is just a ball of emotion, always functioning with her heart and not her head. This can be a challenging aspect to deal with as her mother (or anyone who comes into contact with her), too, but it’s also beautiful. Essentially, she is a heart with arms and legs. Anger, excitement, fear, frustration, disgust, irritation, curiosity, disappointment, and great, forgiving love…it all shows. And comes flying at whoever is in the way. She doesn’t hold any of it back. My mom often says, “You always know where you stand with [Cupcake],” and it’s true. She hides nothing and has no shame in expressing exactly how she’s feeling to whoever is there (be it stranger or best friend). She is quick to anger and quick to laugh. And just like her mama, she falls in love easily. Two days ago, I had maternity photos taken by a photographer we’d never met before that day. At the end of the night, Cupcake asked for a hug and kiss from our photographer and said, “I love you, Brigette.” And that’s just how she is with nearly everyone. She becomes attached quickly, which I think is a beautiful way to live life, but it’s frightening as her mother. I already can see all the broken hearts that lay ahead for her.

She is clever too. And smart. I was a dedicated, straight-A student in school, but I think her braininess is all her dad’s. He has a brain like no one else’s. He craves knowledge and education. And he’s a sponge, so he remembers it all too. Cupcake is the same way. She loves to listen to her daddy’s explanations on what Pluto is made of or what a sewage plant is. She asks lots of questions and listens with rapt attention and, moments later, will regurgitate to you what she just learned. When we met with a dear blogging friend last year, the very first words out of her mouth were to explain how babies come of vaginas. And for a while, she was often heard saying, “I have a hypothesis!” We’ve outgrown that phase (mostly), but now she is happy to tell anyone who will listen what the umbilical cord does. She’s a mini brainiac, full of ideas and facts and theories and solutions, and it blows my mind every day.

And her confidence! Oh my, I would kill for the confidence she has. I once had someone (a stranger whom Cupcake had just introduced herself to at her cousin’s party), tell me, “Her confidence! That girl owns the room when she walks into it! Don’t ever let anyone take that away from her.” This stranger was right. My Cupcake can walk into a room full of strangers without even a heartbeat of nerves. She is bold and proud. And if ever there was a social butterfly, it is her. And it is possibly the quality I admire most in her. What has me quaking in my boots and looking for the shadows to disappear in, is her playground. She lives for social situations. When we go to the park or mall play area, it is not so that can play on the toys, but so that she can play with someone new. She doesn’t hesitate to ask someone she’s just met, “Will you be my friend?” and then proceed to run off to the play with them. She’s been this way always. While other toddlers go through separation anxiety, she would toddle away from me without looking back. It used to be so that she could go investigate all the fun toys and, while that is still true now, she is also always, always seeking someone to play with. And she’s also that child who will talk with any stranger anywhere — from the cashier at Target to the dad she doesn’t know at the park (she especially adores men, which is terrifying for this mama who is also a sexual abuse survivor and suspicious of every man) to the teenager who has no interest in her. Some months ago, I remember her turning to the man behind us in line at Starbucks and saying, “Hi, my name is [insert full name here — first middle and last]. It’s nice to meet you.” There’s just no social anxiety for this girl. And while I live in fear of her befriending the wrong person (kidnapper, child molester, etc.), I also live in fear of her social fearlessness disappearing with age and the insecurities of adolescence. But my hope is that this a permanent part of who she is. And while it may be tamed as she searches for who she is in those teenage years, I pray that it will never be gone and will return with full force as she once again finds herself later in life.

And then there are other things about Cupcake that can’t be labeled or categorized, but simply must be named, listed, described because they make her her:

  • She is constantly doing somersaults and hand stands on the sofa as she watches her two PBS shows before quiet time (the only screen time we allow each day).
  • While she enjoys playing on her own (especially when playing with the toys that she cherishes most and doesn’t want to share), she is also really amazing about playing with her sister, considering how little and non-verbal Skittle still is at this age. Today, they spent all morning playing “grocery store” and then having races up and down the hallway.
  • For as much confidence as she has around others, it is peculiar to me that sometimes she lacks so much confidence in her abilities. It is typical that if she doesn’t believe she can do something, she doesn’t even want to try. The amount of tears and encouragement and praise and bargaining that we had to go through just to get her to attempt to write her name when she first began preschool last year would stun you. (For the record, she is now a pro at it.) And already, as we talk more and more about her learning to read when she starts “big kid school” (still a year away), the more she insists that she doesn’t know how to read and can’t learn it.
  • She chews her toenails. Gross.
  • She was the one kid in her preschool graduation photo with her finger up her nose. Again, gross. And embarrassing. And sort of adorable.
  • She bounces back fast. She has always been the kid who runs into walls and falls down and gets skinned up and never says a “boo.” She got an awful black eye and an ugly goose egg last year and, while she did cry then, it lasted less than five minutes and then was never mentioned again.
  • Her face is prone to blemishes. I guess that’s what they are. They’re weird to me. They never come to a head or go away without help. Up until about six months ago (when I finally got tired of it and insisted on picking it), she had a small pimple on her chin for two or three years. (I’m really not kidding here.) As soon as that pimple was gone, two blackheads popped up in identical places on either side of her nose. I picked at one recently, but the other one remains. And I suspect it will until I banish it too.
  • She has a lot of fears, but they’re not of the dark, or monsters, or boogie men. She fears things like the sound of trains, or our belongings being washed away at the beach, or her sister being hit by a car in an empty parking lot. There are times when she won’t go alone into her bedroom because you can hear the horn of a very-far-away train in there. That’s when she asks her sister to come play in her room with her. I love how Skittle is a substitute for Mommy. ๐Ÿ™‚
  • She loves to sing. At a recent family reunion, she gave each person their own private serenade, all to the same song — “Let it Go.” (And no, we’re not Frozen-obsessed here. She’s seen it just once, but prefers Ariel to Anna or Elsa. She had just been given a Frozen microphone, though, and “Let It Go” was the only song it sings, so of course it was the only song she would sing too, even though she has quite a repertoire.)
  • Her interests right now are arts and crafts, books, playing outside, princesses, animals, babies (the real thing, not dolls), and anything sparkly. She’s fairly girly, but I love that she also will play with dinosaurs, cars, and plenty of other stereotypical “boy toys.”
  • She hates her feet being dirty and will freak the eff out if sand or dirt gets in her sandals.
  • She also freaks out if there’s a bug anywhere nearby. Frequently, I get called into her bedroom at quiet time because there’s a “bug” on the floor. It’s usually lint.
  • When she gets hungry (and I mean, very very very hungry), complete meltdowns ensue. Not terribly unusual (I get angry when hungry — er, hangry — too), but the tough part is recognizing when we’re approaching that point of no return. Cupcake doesn’t often recognize her hunger or ask for food when she needs it. So we have to be constantly vigilant…or pay the consequences when it’s too late.
  • She’s fascinated by her poop. “Let’s see what shape it is!” she says to me when she gets off the potty. And she told me once, “I’m gonna tell Daddy and Uncle George I went poop.” And when I informed her that’s usually a private thing that we don’t often talk about, she said so proudly, “Oh, I tell my friends about it all the time!” ๐Ÿ™‚
  • She’s highly anxious (something even her preschool teachers have commented on) and can get herself into a panic over almost anything. Two days ago, it was because our photographer’s shoes and socks were near the water and the tide was coming in. Sometimes, it’s because Skittle is making a mess with her water bottle. Or because she’s afraid another kid will play with the toy she wants at our playdate. Or because a book has a ripped or crumpled page. It’s an endless list.
  • She has constipation problems. It’s something that began just after her first birthday and we struggle with it even now. At this point, she’s been taking Miralax almost every day for over two years. (This was recommended by her doctor and appears to be the standard treatment for the issue…I’m not sure it’s the right answer for us, but it’s also the only thing that’s come remotely close to working.)
  • My child who once hated the camera now loves it. She often asks me, “Can you take a picture of me?” Sometimes she smiles sweetly and sometimes she is a ham. And she loves to take her own photos too! Just like her mama.
  • She loves the water…the ocean, the lake, the pool, the bathtub. All of it. I think she must have been a fish in another life.
  • She is so excited for her baby brother to come. She wanted it to be a boy and has nicknamed him “Charlie” and talks to him frequently. She loves to feel him move. Early in this pregnancy, she said so sweetly to me, “I love the baby. I hope he loves me too, Mommy.’ The sweet innocence in that heartfelt desire nearly made me weep.

And so that is Cupcake in a “nutshell.” Which really is much bigger than the shell of a nut, isn’t it, since this post has gone on and on? But sย  he truly is a fine mix of sugar and spice, though perhaps a little more spice than I prefer in my cupcakes. But that’s what makes her unique, and mine. It’s easy to wish, on our worst days, that she was easier, more agreeable, a better listener, not so emotional, more willing to share, and so forth. But then she wouldn’t be my Cupcake. And so I’ll take her exactly how she is, impossibly sweet, but bold too, and with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg and molasses thrown in. She’s amazing. She’s incredible. She’s delicious.

And I’m the lucky one who gets to enjoy her every day.

IMG_6731 IMG_6739 IMG_6752

Advertisements

Oh, My Heart….

Just had to share this sweet photo of my two girls. In my last post, I mentioned wanting to share with all of you something meaningful, something that matters. Well if ever a post like that exists for me, this is it. These two matter. More than anything. They are my reason for everything.

IMG_9526A

Hope all of you reading this in the U.S. had a happy and safe 4th of July! xo

Sticky and Stuck

I’m feeling stuck. I can’t decide what to write here, or if I should write nothing or everything. Should I give pregnancy updates? Talk about my day-to-day with Cupcake and Skittle? Get philosophical on what it means to be a mother, or infertile? Get sentimental and remember the baby I lost, but haven’t forgotten? I sometimes think I should participate in Microblog Mondays, but I usually don’t even think of it until Monday night and then it just seems like too much work.

I think part of the problem is that I want to write something meaningful — something that matters — and I’m not sure this is the right place for that, or if what matters to me matters to anyone else. And honestly, I don’t even know what matters to me right now. I have two kids and another on the way, and I’m just tired and rushed and a bit overwhelmed, and writing anything coherent seems like a daunting task. And it’s really hot here in the Pacific NW, where A/C is not really the norm inside homes (including ours), so I’m not just stuck, I’m sticky. With sweat. And unmotivated to do much of anything because of it.

See, I have a lot of excuses for my lack of content, but none of them really mean anything, do they? So just please bear with me as I try to figure this out. I’m not sure if I’ll be writing more or less in the coming weeks, but I promise you I will continue writing as I feel inspired to do so. And many thanks to all of you who have stuck around. Whether you lurk in the shadows or comment on every post, I feel your love and appreciate your support.

While I’m here, let me give a brief(-ish) pregnancy update in an easy-peasy bullet point format:

  • I just began my third trimester (depending on who you ask). I’m 27 weeks as of yesterday.
  • I’m still struggling with “morning sickness.” It’s better than it was in the first trimester, but I suffer through periods of nausea several times a week still. I vomited just tonight, right after dinner, per my usual once-a-week meet and greet with the porcelain throne. It kind of blows my mind since it was never like this in my last pregnancies. I hardly had any sickness with Skittle and, though I often felt very nauseous with Cupcake, it was gone by 13 weeks. And yet here I am, at 27 weeks, with vivid memories of what the inside of our toilet looks like. Crazy.
  • Besides the nausea AND my severe seasonal allergies, I’m feeling pretty good. Tired, but not terribly so. The headaches that I was having for a good few weeks are gone now. I don’t have the same shortness of breath or leaky bladder that I did in my last pregnancy, and no blood pressure spikes or hemorrhoid flare-ups yet (though I am fully expecting both of those to come knocking at my door down the road).
  • Emotionally, I’m feeling pretty strong and serene. I have my moments certainly, and I can feel my anxiety creep from my stomach to my chest to my throat when this baby has been too quiet for too long, but I’m managing to keep it mostly under control. Hourly kick counts help. And by “hourly,” I mean every hour that I’m awake of every day, I keep a tally sheet of how many times Poppy kicks, and I have been for the last seven weeks. I know it’s a bit insane — proof that I’m by no means “normal” when it comes to pregnancy — but it really does help to keep the crazies under wraps.
  • We’ve chosen a name! Just tonight. We had it narrowed to two and I told Honey to make the final decision because I just couldn’t. I love them both too much. The name we’ve chosen is a bit unusual and, though used exclusively for boys in the U.K. (where it originates), it’s become trendy to use it for girls here in the U.S. That worries me some, as well as the fact that his initials sort of allude to a swear word, but all in all, I adore the name we’ll be giving this little boy and am excited to reveal it to our friends and family (and on this blog!) after his birth.
  • I’m whittling away at my pregnancy “to do” list. So far, I have asked my friend Leigh to be my doula again, hired a birth photographer (sooooo excited for this one!), hired a maternity and newborn photographer, started stocking our deep freeze with freezer meals, and done lots and lots of shopping for our little man. But I still have more shopping to do, plus preparing the nursery, making more freezer meals, and moving Skittle into Cupcake’s room (which I am beyond terrified for).

And an update on the rest of my life:

  • I’ve been feeling a bit isolated and lonely these days. With Cupcake out of preschool for the summer and me having so much I want to accomplish at home, I’m finding that we don’t get out of the house as much as we should. We’ve had a few playdates and I’ve gone out with Leigh several times, but most of my days are primarily spent with a 1- and 4-year-old. They make me laugh, but it’s not the same as having the company of an adult. It’s times like this when I really miss Lillian and the rest of my mom’s group (which has essentially fallen apart over the last two years). So I’m painfully aware that my social life is in the crapper right now. But I’m thankful for my one good local friend, Leigh, and the support and comedy that she adds to my life. We spent all of this past Saturday making homemade strawberry jam and we have other fun things planned for this summer, too.
  • Though Honey is gone most of the day, working hard on a project at work that is finally nearing its end (thank GOD!), he comes home and somehow finds it in himself to have a good chunk of quality time with his girls and to help me around the house. Right now, I’m typing this post up and he’s sweeping the kitchen floor (after having already done the dishes and going to fill my car up with gas), that’s how amazing he is. I hope to write a blog post on him soon, but suffice it to say, I am so, so, so lucky this man is mine.
  • Cupcake is four-and-a-half now and still has one year of preschool ahead of her before entering “big kid school.” She’s about to have her very first haircut and I’m nervous but ready for the change. This girl continues to challenge me with her strong-willed ways, but we are now past the worst of the toddler power battles and every day with her is becoming more and more fun. She’s thrilled to bits to have a baby brother on the way.
  • Skittle is 20 months and every day with her is a joy. Her two-year molars are considering their entrance and so there’s a lot of drool in our house and a few difficult nights here and there, but overall, this girl just amazes me with her fearless, determined, playful, and loving spirit. I don’t want this stage to end! But more on that later. I hope to write a post on each of my girls sometime over the summer.

So that’s where we’re at in a nutshell. Up next for us:

  • Getting the results to my one-hour glucose test. I’m really, really nervous for this since I failed last time (but then passed the the 3-hour test). I just want to be able to eat all.the.ice.cream, you know? It’s hot here!
  • A road trip to Idaho to visit family. Not sure how it will go being trapped in a car for four or five hours, but I’ve done it before in pregnancy. I can do it again!
  • Massages and attending a painting party with my friend Leigh. I’ll also be taking boudoir photos for her later this summer since the last time we made an attempt, she came down with strep throat.
  • My maternity photos at the end of this month. I’m paying an obscene amount of money for this photographer, but having her take my maternity photos has been my dream for a while. She’s a-mazing!
  • My 32nd birthday in just a few more weeks.
  • A visit to my sister in August. She’s going through a divorce and is really in need of the extra support these days.
  • A final litttle hurrah as a family of four over Labor Day weekend, when we go stay at a rented house on Puget Sound. Sounds relaxing…I really hope it is!

There’s a lot on the horizon for us and, as summer turns to fall, the crowning glory will be this baby’s birth. It’s crazy, and incredible, to imagine.

The Transition

I am often asked what it’s been like for us going from one child to two. It’s a relief to say the transition has been so much easier than I thought it would be. I was prepared for all hell to break loose. It has not. I was expecting meltdowns from Skittle, Cupcake and I, all at once, on a regular basis. But, with the exception of one day in which Honey was away on business, the only meltdowns have been from Cupcake and I can handle that. Usually.

We did work very hard while I was pregnant to make the transition as smooth as possible. I stocked the freezer with meals and baked goods so I wouldn’t need to do much cooking for a while. (And even though we’ve eaten several of the things we made, our freezer is still so full that we can hardly fit anything else into it.) I stocked our pantry with the basics like peanut butter and pasta and with snacks like dried fruit and crackers so that I wouldn’t need to do much grocery shopping, either. I got ahead on my ‘to do’ list and started shopping for Christmas and my daughter’s birthday early. I made a commitment not to do anything that would overwhelm me in these early months and to be willing to let things like housework go if I was just too tired or stressed. And we talked with Cupcake a lot about what she could expect from a baby (lots of crying, pooping, and eating) and gave her a baby doll to take care of while Mommy cares for Skittle. It has worked like a charm.

But really? I think most of the ease of this transition is due to luck. Skittle is a happy baby. She cries when hungry. That’s it. She eats for 15-45 minutes and then she’s done, usually for another two or three hours. She sleeps, coos, observes, and kicks around in between. We’ve had a couple difficult nights, but I usually am able to get to bed by midnight and never later than 2 a.m. I only ever have to awake once to breastfeed and, on those rare nights when Skittle doesn’t fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning, she will then sleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Like I said…luck. It seems too good to be true, I know. And I expect that it is. It won’t always be this easy, will it now? At some point, a growth spurt, or sleep regression, or teething is going to hit and I’m going to be in for a rude awakening. But right this minute, I feel like I could practically handle this with a blindfold on and my hands tied around my back. It’s been wonderful.

It also helps that Cupcake is great at independent play (and therefore doesn’t need me to play with her constantly) and adores her little sister. She’s had a few extra tantrums over the last few weeks and I imagine that is her way of adjusting and expressing her discomfort. But she never takes it out on Skittle. She hugs her, holds her, kisses her and, when Skittle fusses, she says, “Ohhhh, what’s wrong, baby? Why you upset? Don’t cry. It’s okay.” And the other day, I asked her what makes her happy. Her response: “Daddy and Baby Sister.” So sweet. And that makes my job so much easier.

In the end, the hardest part of the transition has been managing my exhaustion. I may not get up as often as many parents with new babies, but I’m still tired. I don’t get to always sleep when the baby does because I have a toddler who needs me. And though I’m usually successful at it, I can’t always coordinate Skittle’s naps with Cupcake’s afternoon nap. And I could go to bed early, but I usually don’t because I want to spend the evenings with my husband. So there are days when I get a total of four or five hours of sleep. It’s hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I still have more energy now than I ever did while pregnant.

Like I said, I know it won’t always be like this. I remember Cupcake’s first year very well. Getting her into a nap routine was one of the most difficult parenting tasks I’ve encountered. So was getting through the teething. I remember days and days of feeling like I was treading water, barely able to get anything done (including resting!) because Cupcake would just fuss and cry all day long. For weeks. I expect those times are just around the corner for Skittle.

But right now? I’m enjoying this. I love my girls. I love being their mother. I love being a mother. The last six weeks have been easy peasy. A piece of delicious cake.

Which, coincidentally, I’ve had way too much of lately. Cake, that is.

Oh, how sweet life is!

The End of an Era

** This one is about both my girls, the 2-year-old and the one on the way. **

I am almost 39 weeks (tomorrow!) into this pregnancy. I am so happy/grateful/relieved/amazed to be here. I am 1000% ready to hold our Skittle in my arms.

Andย  yet.

Yet there is a little melancholy to go along with all that happiness, gratitude, relief, and amazement. Right now, as I type this, I am enjoying my final days of being alone with Cupcake. My final days of giving her, and only her, all my attention and tickles and kisses.

That’s bittersweet.

I love Cupcake. Obviously. But I mean I love her. Like, love her so much it sometimes brings me to my knees. I love her so much I am often overwhelmed by it, baffled by it, unable to fathom loving any other human being as much as I love her. I know I will, I know I can, but my point is that I love Cupcake beyond all reason and I am sad that our mommy-daughter time will be changing. I am a stay-at-home mom. She is used to having me, and only me, all day long. But when Skittle arrives, things will be different. It won’t always be about her anymore.

And I worry about that. About how Cupcake will adjust to having a baby in our home, to being a big sister and a family of four. Throughout this pregnancy, I have wept countless times at the image I have in my head of a crestfallen Cupcake when I am unable to read to her or snuggle her or play dress up with her right in that moment because I am feeding or comforting someone else. To think that I may — and probably will — inflict pain upon my precious first child, however unintentional it is, breaks my heart in two. I want to protect her from feeling left out, replaced, unloved and I will do everything in my power to do that, but I know some jealousy and hurt feelings are inevitable. I cannot protect her from everything and I cannot protect her from that.

As a reasonable adult, I know that bringing another baby into this family will certainly cause some growing pains, but all’s well that ends well and I believe I am giving Cupcake the best gift possible: a sister, a lifelong companion, a friend for after her father and I are gone. I am giving her the gift I never got to have, the childhood I never experienced. But she’s two. She won’t understand or appreciate that for years.

So instead, I will prepare her the best I can right now and shower her with affection and attention in whatever way I can after Skittle arrives. Cupcake and I have read books and talked ad nauseum about what it means to be a big sister and have a baby come to live with us. She seems enthusiastic and happy with the idea. She is most excited to play in the nursery with all the baby toys. But I don’t know if, at this age, she can really understand what a new baby means. That this baby will be living with us forever. And so we have bought her a baby doll with its own stroller and crib for her to “play mommy” while I do my real mommy duties in the weeks ahead. And we have a huge box of wrapped, cheap toys that she will get, one by one, on days that are hard for her or require a distraction. And we will schedule special “Cupcake Time” with her dad or myself often. I feel prepared. I feel like, if anyone can get through the upheaval that she is about to endure, it is Cupcake. It is us.

But really? We’re just flying by the seat of our pants. Hoping for the best. Praying for an easy transition. Celebrating what is to come while mourning what is about to be lost. This is what we wanted, and we could not possibly be any happier, but it’s still hard to let go of the good days that we have enjoyed and will soon be gone.

It’s hard to embrace change, even if it’s the most beautiful change in the world.

Lucky

I am so lucky. Lucky because:

  • My husband goes out of his way to make me feel special and beautiful and valued. For my birthday, he made me a necklace that must have taken forever to create.
  • Cupcake is more than I ever even dared to hope for. She makes me laugh every day, often every hour. This week, she’s been marching around the living room, repeating “Plus sign, Minus sign” over and over — for no reason at all. And today, she asked, “Where’s Burger King?” The only thing is, we have no idea where she came up with that because we never go to BK. Like, never ever.
  • Skittle has been kicking away for days, giving me very little reason to worry about her well-being.
  • Right now, I have a precious puppy dog licking my swollen feet and it feels like an at-home pedicure.
  • When I took a spill on the sidewalk over the weekend, I landed on my hands and knees and not any other precious body parts. The worst that happened was a skinned and bruised knee. Skittle immediately did a few somersaults to let me know that she was okay.
  • My mom just made an appointment for a prenatal massage for me. Her treat.
  • I have some really good friends, one (Leigh) of whom is willing to act as my doula at Skittle’s birth and another (Lillian) whom is my back-up sitter for Cupcake if my sis doesn’t arrive in time when I’m in labor. Us three girls have one last weekend getaway planned for this weekend!
  • So many of my worries end up being unfounded. Worries about Cupcake. About Skittle. About never again conceiving. About our financial security. About my husband’s job security. About my health. I now only pray that my worries about a breech baby, Honey being successful in Sales, and changes that I’ve seen in a mole on my neck (dermatology appointment tomorrow) all prove to be in vain as well.
  • I know God. When I have nothing else, at least I have my faith.
  • My husband was able to find a minivan in great condition at a really good price, and I suddenly have stopped caring that I’m going to be one of those moms. You know…the kind who drives a minivan.
  • My mama is amazing. She has spent the last eleven days with us and, in that time, she cleaned my house, made every meal every day, bathed Cupcake multiple times, let my husband and I have a date night, did five loads of laundry, put away all the groceries I bought, and stocked our freezer with four loaves of bread and countless homemade muffins, cookies, snack bars, and pancakes to enjoy for after Skittle arrives. We also did a number of fun activities together, like the zoo and an amazing little farm and a day trip to a city on the sea, and she paid for it all. I was sad to drop her off at the airport this evening, but am excited for her return in two months or so. It is crazy to think that, the next time I see her, Skittle’s birth will be imminent. As in, I will be nearing my due date, in labor, or our second baby girl will already have arrived. Wow!
  • We have a home that somehow always seems to expand to accommodate new family members and new toys, clothes, and other baby paraphernalia.
  • There always seems to be just enough money to buy what we need to and often even what we want to. Can we be sure money doesn’t grow on trees?

If I was so inclined, I could also tell you all the ways in which I am unlucky. Because many times, in many ways, I feel exactly that. Unlucky. But not today. Not now. Not lately. These days, I am just constantly overcome with a sense of gratitude for my blessings and good fortune. It leaves me feeling very emotional, very unworthy, and very fearful for what might be around the corner. I mean, things can’t stay this good forever, right? But right now, I will just thank my lucky stars and enjoy these days and these gifts and rest assured in knowing that life is full of ups and downs. And even if we do crash and burn, we will rise again.

And if you’re interested, a new bump photo has been posted here.

A New Room for a Big Girl

*** This post is about my daughter. ***

My little Cupcake isn’t so little anymore, I’ve realized recently. She’s two-and-a-half and no longer looks or acts like a baby. She wears glasses. She can tell me what she wants, when she wants it, not with cries, but with words.ย  She has a personality now and it allows her to easily adapt to new situations and new people, which makes for a great travel buddy. She also has a stubborn streak from here to halfway around the world. And instead of being interested in sucking on her hands and being rocked in a baby swing, she has little girl interests that include animals and princesses and books, books, books.

And this weekend? She started sleeping in a big girl bed. We’re still working on the potty training thing, but I think moving out of a crib is a pretty solid sign that my firstborn is growing up. And maybe it’s me being sentimental, or maybe it’s just me being hormonal, but it makes this mama a wee weepy to say good-bye to her babyhood.

But anyways…on to her new room. I started working on this project when I was 10-12 weeks pregnant and my mom was in town. We originally used the room as my office/craft room and so there was a lot to move out of there and a lot of new things to move in to make it kid-friendly. But it was so fun to work on! Transforming it into Cupcake’s new little haven was such a joy to me. It felt like I was giving her a big gift that will provide comfort and safety in what I know will be a difficult time as we bring a new baby home. Her little sister is a gift I’m giving her, too, but she won’t realize that for some time. A new room is more tangible and will give her a place to go when the chaos just becomes too much. And that makes me smile.

So the inspiration for this room is one of our favorite books to read together:

IMG_7629

Ladybugs and the colors red, orange, and yellow is what I went with. Feminine and sweet without being all about pink and princesses…which I know Cupcake would have loved, too! Maybe this is something that can grow with her a little, though.

The view from the doorway:

IMG_7669 IMG_7642

I love the pendant light! It’s from Ikea and, I’m not sure you can tell from the photo, but it’s yellow with white clouds on it. And that sleeping baby above the bed? That was Cupcake when she was just three days old. (Looking at the photo, though, I’m now realizing I should have had Honey hang it a little lower.)

Here’s a better view of the bed corner:

IMG_7665

The bed was once a wood stain that didn’t match the room, so I had Honey spray paint it black. And I love the saying above the bed: With a butterfly kiss and a ladybug hug, sleep tight little one like a bug in a rug!

And the other three corners in the room:

IMG_7644 IMG_7652 IMG_7646

In the first photo, you’ll see a Poang chair from Ikea, where we can snuggle with Cupcake and read a story before bedtime. It’s right alongside a red bookshelf, also from Ikea. Can you tell where we did a lot of our shopping? ๐Ÿ™‚ Hanging above the chair is a bulletin board with ladybug thumbtacks and photos of her favorite family members. And next to that is the sign that we held up on our little cameo on the Today show, which you can see here. The colors on the sign were perfect!

In the second photo are a collection of stuffed animals that has been given to me over the years. It was time to pass them on. And those red/yellow/orange storage containers were once white, but Honey went to work with the spray paint and now they’re perfect! Well, almost perfect. The room still has a gross stale paint smell that I can’t get rid of no matter what I do.

And the third photo is of the bookshelf and closet. I didn’t like the doors on the closet, so we removed them and my mom made some yellow curtains to hang instead. Thanks, Mom! (I know you’re reading this. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

And here’s a better photo of the dresser:

IMG_7649

This dresser is pretty special to us because it was made by Cupcake’s great grandfather, my mom’s dad. He made a whole bedroom set (we’re only using the dresser right now) for my mama when she was a girl and it was passed down to me as a child. Now, Cupcake gets her turn at it and, one day, I hope her first child will, too. And on and on… I only wish she had a chance to meet my grandpa, but he passed in 2004. We still miss him a lot!

And finally, I made this for Cupcake and now it sits upon one of the high shelves on the bookcase:

IMG_7628

It says: I love you to the moon and back (and around the sun). I tell this to Cupcake every day, and now that she’s very verbal, she can repeat it right back to me, which melts my mommy heart.

My favorite part about this room are the colors. And the storage. There’s a place for every toy and book she owns and then some!ย  And what’s her favorite part? The bed, of course. And I think she’s pretty happy with the new toys that we stocked as our extra little surprise to her. In fact, this room has bought me a lot of “me” time. Since she moved in on Saturday, Cupcake has spent very little time with her parents and almost all her waking hours in her new room, playing and reading and dismantling all my hard work!

Oh well. I’m glad she’s happy. That makes me happy. And isn’t that why I did it?ย  To put some new joy and fun into her life before turning it upside down with a pesky baby sister?

I’d say, mission accomplished.