Friday, February 21, 2014

Dear Ramsey: Six Months

Dear Ramsey,

Hey there sweet girl. You are over six months now. I have some explaining to do, don’t I? I can foresee what is going to happen in 20 years when you stumble upon your mom’s old blog. You’re going to be so excited when you read the first letter I ever wrote you when you turned one month old. You will become overwhelmed with emotion when you think about how great of a mom I was and you are going to be giddy with excitement to read all of your other letters. And then you’re going to discover a black hole until your second letter surfaces, this one, in which you are now six months old. So just in case you are frantically surfing cyberspace searching for letters from months 2-5, just stop, my dear. They don’t exist. SO SORRY.  My intentions were always there, but that’s about as far as I got to actually sitting down in front of a computer. I’ll always feel a tinge of guilt for not documenting the first sweetest months of your little life, but let me tell you this: at six months old, you have totally got it going on. I absolutely could not let another month pass, especially this past one, without letting you know the incredibly cute things you are up to these days.

First things first: the milestones. We are watching you hit those little baby milestones almost daily, and I’m trying to figure out how to MAKE IT STOP. There has to be a way. You started sitting up by yourself about two weeks ago.  I had a minimum of 10 pep talks in my head in which I had to convince myself that you did in fact still need me for life-sustaining things, and sitting up does not equal moving out of the house, and that you still love me. It was pretty intense there for a little while. Seeing you sit up all alone is actually kind of hilarious because you are TINY. You look more like a really well designed baby doll than a human being.

I have a little illustration to help you understand how petite you are. This afternoon, we were at a park with some great friends of ours and you chose that time to absolutely fill up your diaper. It was the kind of diaper situation in which the contents exploded all over your clothes, up your back, in your toes, etc. So that was cute. I went to work getting you all cleaned up and pulled your shirt over your head, which of course smeared poop all up in your hair, but thank heavens, I don’t think you even noticed. The sad part of this story is that after some time had passed, I had forgotten about the poop-in-the-hair incident, and kissed all over your head like I always do. You might think that’s gross, but it just didn’t really phase me. When you’re a mom, you’ll totally understand. It is just part of the job description. Anyway, I went to the car to dig through my emergency diaper bag hoping to find a change of clothes for you, and was not too terribly surprised to find that I had not updated the clothes since you were a newborn. There was a change of clothes for you, but it was a 0-3 months sleeper. I put that tiny little footed sleeper on you expecting to have to squeeze you in, but Ramsey Rice, it wasn’t even small for you. It was actually kind of big. And you are SIX MONTHS OLD. What what? My six month old baby girl still fits in nearly newborn clothes. But you know what? I LOVE IT and please, please don’t ever grow out of the nearly newborn clothes.

Next big milestone: ONE TOOTH! Your first little bottom tooth popped up yesterday and I had no idea you were even teething. I frequently check those gummy gums to see what was happening in your mouth and there was never even a hint of tooth. Honestly. In fact, earlier that day, you were with me at the dentist office as I was getting my very first cavity filled (which oh my gosh I hated it and the numbness was miserable and I was scared I would be eternally drooling down the right side of my face and I hope you never have to do it), and the dentist asked me if you had any teeth yet. I confidently replied with a “no way Jose, she’s nowhere close to getting teeth.” And I’m pretty sure that first little tooth pushed through like, one hour later. You are a great, low maintenance teether, apparently, and for that I am grateful.

You are a fabulous eater but the world’s worst bottle taker. Bottles are not even an option in that little mind of yours. So I gave up trying and will nurse you until it’s time to go straight to a cup of milk. You will be the healthiest breastfed baby on the block, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure most of your calories are coming from real food though. You eat two or three times a day and you are open to the craziest combos of food, like spinach and pears, or broccoli, zucchini and potatoes. Hopefully you will not follow in your brother’s footsteps of being the most boring food partakers to ever exist.

You are cooing, squealing with delight, and trying your darndest to interact with us. There is absolutely no way I can do justice to the relationship between you and your brothers. Clark is four and Griffin is two and they are your favorite people in your world. The honest truth of the matter is they are the only people who can make you belly laugh. I’ve tried EVERYTHING. I do everything they do to make you laugh but it doesn’t work because it’s me and not them. You love to laugh at them. You love even their presence in the same room as you. When they walk out of whatever room you are in, YOU CRY. Seriously. You cry. They definitely know how to make you feel better when you are sad. They constantly want to be near you. They are surprisingly very tender with you and love to softly pet on you and hold your hand and brush your hair. They eat their meals wherever you happen to be placed at the moment, which often means their breakfast is on the bathroom floor while I take a shower and you sit in your bouncer. It’s great family fun. Griffin’s favorite phrase right now is “Hi, Sissy!” He loves telling you hi. Over and over and OVER AGAIN. And believe me when I say it does not get old. I have to get it on video because it’s pretty dadgum sweet. Every morning when you wake up, Clark walks into your room with me and says, “Well good morning little Wams!” And then he climbs in your crib and nuzzles up to you and you kick your feet in delight (after you sneeze four times). Literally, you sneeze four times every morning after I turn the light on. It's as predictable as the sunrise.  Clark knows that you will laugh out loud every time he tells you that you have a poo poo diaper, even when you don’t have a poo poo diaper, so that has become a constant phrase in the household right now. You and those boys are a tight crew and they love you so much. Clark assures me that he will always protect you, he will never let anyone hurt you, and he is going to marry you one day. I melt. Like, all the time.

Up until about a month ago, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get to sleep through the night until you left for college (which hopefully you will chose said college less than 30 minutes away so you never have to actually leave us L). ß no idea how I did that frowny face. I was just pressing buttons and it happened. Neat. Anyway, you finally pulled through in the clutch and let me sleep like I’ve never slept before. You go to sleep at 7:30 and wake up around 6:30. Your bedtime routine is as follows: I feed you, put you in your crib WIDE AWAKE, kiss you, shut the light off, and close the door. And I never hear a peep from your room. One day, maybe in two years, I’ll start reading bedtime stories and singing songs and snuggling or whatever, but no way is that going to happen in our present household’s condition. I repeat: not going to happen. FYI it takes an act of God to get three little people in their respective beds with all the sippy cups of water and bathroom breaks and professional stalling techniques before the sun starts rising again. It’s not entirely unusual for you to squawk a little bit around 4:30 or 5 in the morning, but I just fumble my way into your room and pop a paci in your mouth and you’re out again. It’s nice. Not feeding you in the wee hours is really nice, actually. But again, I’ve had to remind myself that you are not about to attend your senior prom and you do still need me sometimes. My head spins when I think about you growing up. I don’t want it to happen. Not even a tiny little bit. Just stay where you are forever and ever amen.

Oh my little tiny Wams. I love you more than I never knew loving a daughter was possible. I confess to you and all the world that I am nothing less than obsessed with you. I always want you near. I crave your smell and your smile and your soft baby skin. I hold you and squeeze you all the time and you’re never going to learn to crawl or walk and it will all be my fault. I don’t care.  And don’t even get me started on how beautiful you are. I never had a doubt that you would be a beautiful baby girl because your brothers are kind of beautiful too. But you, my girl, take my breath away. You are dainty. Delicate. Lovely. Just stunning. Everyone else thinks so too. I'm not biased. I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have been separated from you. Sometimes I daydream about getting some time to myself…shopping, running, something spa related…but even in my daydreams you are always with me.  I never want to be more than an arms length away from you. That sounds pretty sad doesn’t it? It’s out of my control.

There are not a lot of guarantees in this life, sweet girl. I wish there was. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. But I can guarantee you this: daddy and I will ALWAYS be there for you. We are always on your side. You can trust us with your heart. The home we provide for you as you grow up will always be open to you, even when it’s time for you to step out in faith. I can guarantee you will always have a family who unconditionally loves you. I will always listen to you. I can guarantee you that everyday, until I take my last breath, I will pray for you. My prayer is the same for you and your brothers. It is that if nothing else, y’all will know the Lord. That you, Clark and Griffin will accept Him as your personal savior, and that your salvation is guaranteed.

Ramsey Anne Rice, our little Wam Bam, you are so special. The past six months have undoubtedly been the best yet. Every moment we spend with you is a gift from God that I absolutely do not deserve. His grace is beautiful.


Monday, September 23, 2013


It is 9:00 at night and all three kids are asleep, which means I have approximately 30 minutes until my eyes start involuntarily twitching and I start mumbling random nonsense words to Aaron as I bump into things on my way to my room and stumble into my bed. But this is what is on my mind tonight.

This afternoon, a very good and long time friend of mine texted me with this question: How are you with the grieving process? Janis' mother passed away a few years ago so she totally gets it. Something I've learned over the past several months is that not many people totally get it. The day after my mom died, Janis showed up at my door with flowers and tears rolling down her cheeks because not only did she love my mom, but she knew exactly how I was feeling. She knew what to say and what not to say because she stood in my shoes not long ago. Back to the text message. I started and erased fifteen different replies before I responded. I haven't been asked this in a while and I was caught off guard. Had I been asked this in person I would have fumbled my way through a clumsy lie about how I'm fine and I'm learning how to move on, blah blah blah. Some of that is true. The part about learning how to move on wouldn't be a complete lie, but I would say it is a stretch to say "I'm fine." The truth is, every single time I think about my mom, I have to catch my breath. The pain still stings. Watching her suffer for so many months still makes me weep. More than anything, I want to talk to her and hear her call me sweetie. I miss my mom and knowing that I will never see her on this side of heaven makes me physically ill. I miss her so bad.

To be perfectly honest, I haven't yet figured out how to pray for myself as I navigate through my grief. Every time I start to say a prayer that begins with "Please, Lord, help me to [fill in the blank]," I feel awkward and move on to something else, feeling peacefully assured that the Holy Spirit would fill in that blank so I didn't have to. I haven't even attempted to push through that brick wall that is keeping me from even talking to God about my pain.

But He's so good to me. He tore down that wall for me. Let me explain.

My sweet, baby girl Ramsey has taken me on the biggest emotional roller coaster ride I've ever been on in my life. Throughout my pregnancy with her, I don't suppose I thought there would be much of a difference having a girl. I had two babies and assumed the third would be about the same. I was incredibly excited about the thought of having a girl, but I'm not sure I ever thought about her in relation to myself. Confused? I'll explain further.

I have two older brothers. Ramsey has two older brothers. I was Ramsey. 

I too often get frustrated with Clark and Griffin when they love on Ramsey a little too hard. They don't know their own strength, apparently, and an innocent hug could turn into near suffocation for the girl. I absolutely cannot leave her unattended within arms reach of those two boys. Clark loves to give her Eskimo kisses and nuzzles his nose up to her nose. Oh, the germs! I shoe him away because I don't want him to get her sick. Griffin loves to squeeze her feet. I know it doesn't hurt her even in the slightest way, but I push him away just in case.

Very recently, I was in Ramsey's room letting her kick on the floor when the boys ran in the room and began to play with her. I watched from a close distance so as to be able to interfere just in case the playing got too rough. As I stared at my three kids with eyes wide open, I saw a very clear vision of my older brothers as young toddlers playing with me, a six week old baby, and my mom who would have been 26 years old, sitting on the floor nearby watching us. I wondered to myself if she would have stopped Chase from nuzzling his nose to mine. Probably not. Would she have stopped Drew from squeezing my chubby legs? Doubt it. In this vision slash daydream of mine, this young mother of three was laughing with her children. She was encouraging her boys to love their new baby sister and teaching them how to be nice. Not pushing them away (like I have the tendency to do). I have seen one photo of the day my parents brought me home from the hospital. I was asleep on a bed and my brothers were hovered over me. When we brought Ramsey home from the hospital, I took several pictures of Clark and Griffin hovering over her in that same way. Do you see? I was Ramsey. Almost every time I get the chance to sneak away from my boys to snuggle up to my girl, I imagine my mom sneaking away from the loud chaos of my brothers to have some alone time with me. I love to think about her holding me in her arms in the same way I hold my sweet baby girl.

And now, I am the mom. I have two boys and a girl who are very close in age just like my brothers and I. I am MY mom. I find comfort in knowing that everything I am doing these days....every single mom was doing 29 years ago. She chose not to work when we were young and stayed home with us. She fed us breakfast, snacks, lunch, snacks, dinner, and snacks. She cleaned up after us. She drove us everywhere we needed and wanted to go. She dressed us. She broke up many fights. She sent us to our rooms when we got in trouble. She let us watch cartoons. She bathed us. She read to us. And even though I am positive I do not do these things as gently or gracefully as she did, I do all these things for my kids now. I am my mom. I constantly, as in 400 or more times a day, think about her as a young mom and how much she loved us. I constantly compare myself to her and wonder what life was like for her with three young children. It's not very difficult to imagine what motherhood was like for her because I am in the trenches of it as I type this. I think we are the same person. Everything I learned about being a mother came from her. One day this past spring, I was driving her to a chemo therapy appointment, and out of the blue she told me that she regretted being stressed out and mad at us when we were young. As far back as my memories allow, I do not remember her being stressed out or mad at us. Never. But at the end of that conversation she urged me, as a young mom, to keep my stress level in check and to not stay mad at my kids. I needed to hear that from her, I guess, because I replay that conversation in my head over and over again throughout these days of whining, screaming, tantrum throwing toddlerhood.

I was Ramsey. Now I am my mom. I am forever connected to my mother through this, even though she is gone.

To bring this full circle, just in case you've had a hard time following this sloppy thought process of mine...

I mentioned before that I have struggled in my prayer life to acknowledge my pain and ask God for some sliver of providential peace that would help me to "be ok." I really just wanted to be ok. I didn't want to lie any longer to concerned friends who asked me how I was doing. The truth is, I'm still not ok with my mom being forever gone. But that has got to be normal. There is a scar on my heart that will just have to stay there forever, I'm guessing. I desperately want to talk to her. I painfully want her to watch her grandchildren grow up and have kids of their own. I don't want to forget one single memory I have of her, but I know I will. Despite all of these things, I feel peace in my heart. Upon reflection, I do believe God broke the walls of my struggling conscience and allowed me to know and believe my mom is alive in my heart. Because I can see so much of myself in her, she is still with me. She's here with me as I lay in the trenches of motherhood.

The Holy Spirit was at work when I had no words. Thank you, Lord, for that gift. If this is what it means to "be ok," I'm perfectly fine with it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear Ramsey: One Month

 Dear Ramsey,

You, my sweet, sweet girl, are ONE MONTH old today. Congratulations! You deserve a gold medal for making it through your first month of life in this family with much grace and patience. You continue to impress me with your ability to sleep straight through the very loud screaming, whining, and more screaming that seems to plague this house on a fairly regular basis. It appears you don't seem to mind being poked, pushed, stepped on, slobbered on, or breathed on. That's a good thing. I've tried my best to protect and shield you from the two very dirty, sticky, loud human beings that you will one day know as your big brothers, but they love you so much that they just persevere right through my strongest threats to spank their little booties for touching (more like hitting) you. But you are absolutely, without a doubt, the sweetest, most beautiful baby I have ever in my life seen and I can't believe you are ours. To keep. And hopefully you will like us.

When I shockingly discovered I was pregnant with you (on Griffin's first birthday, no less), I knew you were a girl. Even before you technically were a girl, I knew you were a girl. And the reason is because I grew up in a family of two boys and a girl, so I was certain that was the direction our family was going to go. Being pregnant with you was easy, much like my other ones. Nothing eventful. I was never really sick, just super tired all the time. On March 7, 2013, Daddy and I anxiously sat in an ultrasound room and a nurse confirmed what I knew all were a precious, tiny, healthy girl. We looked at that little screen and told you your name, Ramsey Anne Rice. Your whole name is special, but your middle name carries a rich significance that you will one day appreciate very much. Unfortunately you aren't referred to as Ramsey very often. This is because at first, Clark had a difficult time pronouncing your name. It sounded like Wamsey no matter how hard he tried. So naturally that stuck, and you are now Wamsey, Wams, The Wams, or Wam Bam. Sorry, Ramsey. My plan is for us to revert back to your birth name in your teenage years so you aren't horrified by your parents and big brothers.

You were born on August 12, 2013 at 1:36 (?) in the afternoon at University Medical Center in Jackson, MS. It was the easiest, most special birth experience I've had so far, and for that I thank you. You weighed eight pounds and seven ounces and were 20 inches long, which meant you were a little shrimp compared to your gigantic siblings. In the very near future I plan on writing about your birth experience because it is certainly not one I want to forget details about. But this is not time for that.

This first month of having you in our home has been fairly easy, minus the few times I have feared for your life from you being left alone with one or more of your brothers at any given time. You slept a lot. Like, 23.5 hours per day. It was quite impressive considering the noise level we have to deal with. On days number three and four, you did something really hilarious. You refused to eat. Refused. I believe you ate half of one time in 48 hours and as a result you dropped down to 7 pounds, 11 ounces. I was never super concerned because I knew it would all work out if I just kept trying, and that proved to be true because you did in fact start eating when you were ready. But it wasn't cool.

You love baths. Even when we were limited to sponge baths, you totally went with it. I was fully expecting to bathe a screaming newborn, but that was not the case with you. You just chilled out and let me fling you around and get you so fresh and clean I could have taken a bite out of you. Your little umbilical cord fell out the day after you turned two weeks old. I'm sure you don't care about that, but it really was funny when I realized it had fallen out but couldn't find it anywhere. Not that it really mattered, but I didn't want one of your brothers to find it and think it was edible, and...well, you know, eat it or something. But no worries, I found it and no, I didn't put it in your keepsake box. That would be kind of gross?

Since the day you were born, you have been very predictable. You eat every three hours, but you don't sweat it if you have to wait a little longer. You are fine taking a bottle, which is nice, because just last night I left you for the first time to celebrate your dad's 30th birthday and didn't worry you would be freaking out at home. You have been a decent sleeper since day number one. Of course, like every newborn in the history of the planet, you had your days and nights mixed up for the first week or so. You and I were spending quality time together about seven different times in the middle of the night for a few days, and then slowly but surely you dropped down to three times a night, and then two times, and these days you fairly regularly wake up one time at about 2:00 in the morning. Not too shabby, my dear. I figured out pretty early in the game that you sleep best when you are swaddled so tightly you couldn't even sneeze. I mean it's a really tight swaddle and I don't know what I'm going to do when you are too big for that. We'll cross that bridge soon I'm sure. You are still sleeping in a little bassinet by my bed and even though my original plan was to move you to your crib when you turned one month, I just didn't have it in me. Not sure why, I'm just not ready. Don't get me are ready. I know you are. You'll be fine in that huge crib of yours, but that's a big step for a mama. You'll understand one day. We'll try in a week or two, but no promises.

You gave me your first real, genuine smile at four weeks. I don't know what you were smiling at, but it was beautiful. You are so beautiful. You love being snuggled and held tightly, but sadly you spend a lot of time in your bouncer on the kitchen counter (out of reach of Clark and Griffin) or in your car seat. You will soon figure out that our lives are busy.  We haven't skipped a beat since Day One. For example, you were born on a Monday and you were sitting in church with us that Sunday. We haven't put you in the nursery yet because you haven't gotten your shots yet, and I don't really let a lot of people hold you. So I get to snuggle the poop out of you for a solid two hours every Sunday morning and it is wonderful. Even the few times you woke up and screamed in the middle of the sermon and I had to bounce you around in the lobby for the rest of the service. Even in those moments I love my quality time with you.

I'm late writing your One Month letter and today you are five and a half weeks old. It has only been within the last three days that you grew out of newborn clothes. Your 0-3 month clothes are still huge on you, but newborn outfits are too small. So I am in an awkward stage of dressing you but it's all ok. You are still adorable. I'm grateful for my friends who also had girls who let us borrow newborn clothes because I did not plan very well in the clothing department. You were so petite and tiny and I was continually shocked at how long you stayed in those sweet little newborn outfits. But sadly, it's time to box them up and bring out the next size. If I had it my way, I would keep you this size for at least six months. Your little body is just too sweet for words.

Ramsey Anne Rice, to be honest with you, I am obsessed with you. I stare at you as often as possible because you are such a beautiful little thing. I like to think about you as a young girl, a teenager, a college freshman, a bride, a mom. I know you will be great at everything you do. I know you will be strong. Do you want to know how I know that? Because you come from a long line of strong women on both sides of your family. The single hardest thing I have ever had to accept in my life is the fact that you will never know your grandmother, Nana. She was called to be with Jesus only seven weeks before you were born. You would have loved her. And you know what? Even though she didn't get to meet you, she loved you so much. We told her we were pregnant with you on Christmas Eve of 2012 and she cried. This wasn't unusual for her, the whole crying thing, but this time was different. She was so happy that she would have three grandchildren. And I'll never forget the day I told her you were a girl. I colored the "she" pink on a Hershey bar and gave it to her at her doctors appointment, and she cried some more. She loved Hershey bars. And all along she was secretly hoping you were a girl, so when she got the candy and the pink news, she was one very happy Nana. I will spend the rest of my life making sure you know everything about her because she was one incredible woman. She was a great mother to me, and I hope to be a great mother to you in that same way.

Me, Daddy, Clark and Griffin love you so much. There is no question that you will be smothered in hugs and kisses for the rest of your life. You make us smile. You make us happy. I'm so happy that you are finally in my arms and I can kiss you huge Rice cheeks anytime I want. You are the perfect addition to this crazy loud family. So just hang in there, sweet girl. We are nowhere close to perfect, but we have a lot of love to give and know how to have good times together. I really think you are going to like it here.


Monday, January 14, 2013

On a whim, I decided to dust off the macbook and log in to the blog to do a little updating. I feel bad for Griffin because I dropped the ball on writing him a 10-12 month update letter. He deserves better than that but fortunately for me, he doesn't know that yet. He'll learn soon enough that his mom falls short of pretty much everything all the time.

And poor Clark has gotten the shaft on the blog too. I wish I would have been more diligent to record on this little e-space of mine all of his little accomplishments as they surfaced because now it seems way too daunting a task to go back in history and remember when and how he became the little man that he is this morning. It's a good thing I'm not horrible at taking a thousand pictures a day so at least I have photo evidence of his growth.

I'm going to split this up into two posts because I think I have too much content to squeeze into one, so here is a little glimpse into what Aaron and I have been up to.

Arnie started a new job in December at a firm in Ridgeland called Butler Snow. He is working hard but he loves it and is grateful to be there. When he's not working, he's....well, that is not applicable because at this present stage in his life, he is always working. He usually gets home early enough to get some serious play time in with the kiddos and eat whatever food ingredients I have managed to scrape together to form a meal. I think Aaron and I both have accepted by now that he did not luck out when it comes to having a wife who wears a cute apron every night and has clean, rolled hair and loves to cook. However, since he happened to be looking for a yoga pants wearing, messy tshirt, pony tail, zero make up kind of wife, he hit the jackpot. He has been hunting a few times this season so far and has had no luck, but did manage to bring home some deer sausage from somebody else's trophy deer. Score! Other than that, he's leading a pretty uneventful life. Except that time we went as a family unit to the mall to get him some new blue jeans. That was the most eventful non-work-related thing that has happened to Aaron in a long time. Bless his poor soul.

We had a great Christmas break together as a family. Aaron was off work for almost a week and I just didn't know what to do with all the time we had together. He handled himself very well. I honestly didn't know how he would do being surrounded by his pregnant, moody wife, his overactive toddler, and his unhappy teething infant all day, everyday, but he made it look easy. We spent most of it in Hattiesburg with all the Rice brothers and sisters and their families and as usual, it was incredible. It was awesome watching Christmas unfold through the eyes of a three year old. Clark was all about some Santa Claus and I loved listening to him tell us how Santa would fall down the chimney, fill up our stockings with chocolate, tip toe to the tree and put lots of presents under it, tip toe to the table where his cookies and milk would be, rub his belly after he eats it and say "HO HO HO" and then tip toe back to the chimney and jump up it and go home. We heard that narrative at least three hundred times per day leading up to Christmas. It was beyond hilarious to us (and probably no one else).

Nothing much changed for this gal. I continue to not stress out enough about a messy house and not worry enough when I see Griffin eat and possibly swallow a rock. I manage to keep some clean clothes on people's bodies and we usually eat food everyday day so I would say I'm doing pretty good.

Actually, a lot has changed for this gal. I don't know what I was thinking. I am pregnant again, and that's a pretty big deal. I get kind of caught up in the madness of the three year old and one year old doing 360's around me that I sometimes forget how exciting of a time this is for our family. I am ten weeks along and we are expecting to meet this little one in mid-August. This pregnancy doesn't seem to be too different from any other ones. I was sick off and on for a week or two and thankfully that part seems to be over. In retrospect, the whole sickness thing really wasn't that bad. But I can clearly remember throwing up in a very unfortunate public place one time and feeling like death. Overall, I'm grateful that it was short lived and not horrible. Now I can move on to the can't-keep-my-eyes-open phase and the constant I-desperately-need-a-nap-but-that-is-not-possible-now-is-it feeling. I'm tired a lot. But that is normal, if I can recall, and hopefully in a couple of weeks I can wake back up and go back to life in the real world and not on the couch with my eyes closed just hoping I don't hear a loud crash or somebody screaming for dear life.

I have managed to stick to my workout routine despite the nausea, and before I get a pat on the shoulder for being so dedicated to a healthy pregnancy or whatever, let me confess my reasons for hauling myself and two kids to the gym four or five times a week. First and foremost, I desperately need a short break from Clark and Griffin at some point during the day. I'm not too proud to admit that I need some me time and usually the only way I can get it is to drop them off in a huge, fun play room and let them burn some energy away from me. Second, I have learned that if I stay active, I can somehow keep the nausea at bay. And third, I really do want to refrain from gaining the typical 40-55 pounds I tend to inherit during a pregnancy. It totally doesn't help that I could eat an entire Oreo pie at the drop of a dime (I really did almost eat an entire Oreo pie by myself last week) or my constant craving for anything chocolatey or Sprite-y is always on the forefront of my mind. I can't seem to control my food intake, but I can control my exercise so I'm going to work with what I've got.

The only other truly exciting thing I am looking forward to is my pending trip to Bogota, Colombia to visit my best friend, Nikki. She has been there since September 18, 2012 and that is entirely too long for me not to hang out with the person I have pretty much seen every day for the last 24 years of my life. I've missed her terribly, and even though we get to talk a lot it is simply not the same. I need to hug her neck and squeeze her kids who I miss just as much as I miss her. My trip is from February 1-5, and my mother in law, who also goes by the name of Saint Debbie, will be watching the boys while I'm gone. I do not envy her one bit. I do not look forward to telling her that lately they have been waking up at about 6:30 in the morning and trying to change Griffin's diaper these days is worse than participating in a professional wrestling match. Oh and naps aren't really going so well either for either one of them. She is bound to have a great time. The only appropriate way to thank her for this would be to treat her to a two week long all inclusive tropical vacation because she (and her husband, Geez) will truly need it after Hurricane's Clark and Griffin leave her house.

As expected, I rambled too much and this ended up being too long and semi-pointless. I'll do an update on what the kids are up to and that might not be quite so boring. And I'll even put some pictures up, which I am sure is the only thing anybody who reads this wants to see anyway. Thanks for reading. I'm sorry if this made you sleepy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Tonight for dinner Griffin ate mushrooms, black beans, tomatoes, corn, chicken, onions, greek yogurt, cheese, and a couple of animal crackers for dessert. (I made a fajita-y type dinner.)

Clark ate two grapes and a couple very small bites of a ham and cheese sandwich. 

I am preparing myself and everyone else in our universe for what I am calling Clark Needs-To-Start-Eating-Like-A-Normal-Human-Being Boot Camp. He used to be the world's greatest eater, now he is pathetic. He is on a strict hot dog, grilled cheese sandwich, strawberry, pasta, grape diet. It's really kind of depressing. 

I think we are about to experience many nights in a row of Clark not eating one single thing for dinner and then having to go to bed very early as a punishment. But I refuse to continue to make him a special Clark dinner that is different than the rest of us until he is 18 years old. 

If any one out there in internet land has ANY suggestions at all when it comes to feeding toddlers, please, please let me know. I didn't mean for it to get this bad. I will do things so very different with Old Man Grif. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Battery points.

The top 10 things you need to know today:

1. Clark calls bullets "batteries." Aaron took Clark with him to zero his rifle (Is that the correct wording? I wouldn't know) and somehow Clark interpreted it as "Daddy shoots batteries out of his gun and the batteries hurt the paper."

Thus the name of this post is being called "Battery points" (instead of bullet points) because I'm feeling like a giant turd today and am avoiding thought-making at all costs.

2. Griffin will turn eleven months old in only four days. Good gosh, that is nonsense. He still looks and acts very much like a baby to me, so I'm going to be in for a hayday when he turns one year old.

3. A very mean, large busted, old woman yelled at me at the gym this morning. I was in the locker room and my phone rang. I normally wouldn't have answered, but I didn't recognize the number so I did.

Sue me.

She walked past me, wearing only a towel that barely fit around her upper body and water shoes, while I was on the phone with somebody about hopefully buying the Camry that we are trying to sell, and said in a very loud, annoyed tone, "Excuse me, but there is a STRICT no phone policy in here, and I would appreciate it if you would FOLLOW the rules." Then she preceded to violently point to a very small little framed sign next to a sink that said "No phones, please." Gahhh. If I'm a grumpy turd like that woman was when I get old, every single person who reads this blog has the duty and obligation to punch me in the face and remind me of this incident.

4. Do you want to know what is NOT on my paleo diet? The five chocolate chip cookies I ate yesterday and the two that I ate today. Yesterday I was just having a moment that required an obscene amount of chocolate, and I conveniently had a roll of Pillsbury cookie dough (not Great Value brand, Amy). I put five spoonfuls on a cookie sheet with intentions of letting Clark and Aaron have some, but when I pulled them out of the oven they were perfect and hot and after I ate one, I immediately devoured the other four. Sorry family. I felt gross the rest of the day and vowed to never do that to myself again.

Until today. I needed to find something to do with Clark this afternoon before his nap (which has turned into quiet room time because he has done away with the whole idea of day sleep). We could have done something productive and active and calorie burning outside in gorgeous weather, but chocolate chip cookies sounded like a tastier idea. This time I decided to make them from scratch and let Clark help with every little detail. It was hilarious and so much fun and I'm glad I took pictures throughout the whole experience because I don't ever want to forget how cute and curious he was about the cookie making process. He's such a cool kid. I was giving myself a pep talk the entire time about how I did not need to eat even one cookie. We were going to give them away and Clark could have one or two and Aaron could have a couple and that would be all. But they came out of the oven, hot and perfect, and I uncontrollably scarfed down two cookies and almost cried when I tasted how good they were. But two was all. No more. Even though I have about three dozen very chewy cookies sitting on my counter right now making my house smell edible.

5. Clark is almost three years old. I am going to attempt to capture as much as I can about how awesome he is in a blog post, but there is no way I will do him justice. I just love the tar out of him.

6. The end of daylight savings time has oddly enough been a fairly good thing for us Rice folks, even though our day now starts at approximately 6:15 in the morning. Instead of sleeping in the extra hour like we would have in the good old days, we now have an extra hour to talk, eat breakfast together, play chase,  and get ready in the morning. Griffin sometimes has to take three naps now instead of two, but we are making it work. I'm going to work towards getting us back to our normal 7:30 am morning routine, but for now, I'm kind of digging it.

7. I miss Nikki. She's been in Columbia for 51 days. I just can't even describe how much I miss that woman. This deserves an entire post all to itself, which will happen in the very near future.

8. My mom is my hero. She has been fighting breast cancer for four years and is currently going through more chemotherapy. But you would never know it. She wears a beautiful smile and her heart outshines anyone I have ever known. Cancer does not define her. I'm grateful to be her daughter and to witness firsthand how to gracefully fight some of life's hardest battles.

9. There is a huge blank wall above my couch in the living room and I have no clue as to what to put on it. A huge mirror? One huge picture? Three smaller pictures? A photo collage? I wish I had even one ounce of interior decorating in my veins. I know nothing.

10. Clark told me when I picked him up from school yesterday that he had to go to Time Out because he pushed a baby. Not one of my proudest parenting moments.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Halloween that almost didn't happen.

This year was the first time Clark got to experience a Halloween because last year I was close to dying a slow and painful shingles related death and the year before that I think we were out of town. So even though Clark had absolutely zero ideas about what trick or treating actually was, we had gotten him severely pumped up about it. He independently chose to be a fireman this year, which surprised me because I really don't know that he has ever seen a fireman up close and personal. I'm thinking he got the idea from Curious George. Or maybe his friend Tristan who was also going to be a firefighter. But anyway, the costume was easy enough to put together and I was happy to oblige. Griffin chose to be a pirate because I thought the little ensemble was too cute for words.

Our neighborhood is wonderful, but our friends, the Huwe's neighborhood, is the wonderful-est neighborhood in the world. It is huge, the houses are beautiful, and there are no less than one billion kids that reside in it, and all of those make up the ingredients for a great trick or treating experience in my opinion. I thought it would be fun for Clark to trick or treat with Jackson, his best bud since birth, and I also thought he would get the most candy there. That is the reason for the season, after all. Man, I'm such a cool mom. 

Amy offered to have us over for dinner before the tricking and treating madness began and I was so very thankful because I have been in a huge cooking depression lately. And when she told me she was making taco soup, I would have walked barefoot to her house because that just so happens to be my favorite and I had to have two bowls, not just one. So the Rice family arrived at the Huwe house in plenty of time to play a little, eat, and then hit the streets. 

I'll just go ahead and skip to the dinner time drama that unfolded before our very eyes. But first, I have to explain how much Clark refuses any food that is not hot dogs, fruit, or pasta. He is the most closed minded individual on the planet when it comes to food. But the bottom line was this: taco soup was for dinner, it was delicious (Griffin had two servings just like his mother), and he needed to eat dinner. I gave him a tiny little bowl and told him he needed to eat two bites or else he wouldn't get to eat his candy after trick or treating tonight. Well he went straight into brat mode and pushed his bowl across the table and was a complete turd about the whole thing. After a very mean look from his mom and some words of discipline from Aaron, we put the bowl back in front of him and repeated the two bite rule. He REFUSED. We eventually changed the deal to no trick or treating  AT ALL if he didn't eat two bites. Refused. During all of this going back and forth about the two bites, he was spanked three different times for being disobedient. It wasn't pretty. Trust me. Ask the Huwe's. We're great as dinner guests. 

Here is what happened: he did not eat two bites, or one bite, or even one bean. He wined, cried, pouted, and stood firm in his dinner boycott. And as a result, Aaron loaded him up in the car and took him home, screaming the entire four minute ride home. I stayed at the Huwe's with Griffin because I at least wanted to take Griffin the happy Pirate on a wagon ride around the neighborhood, but I was so sad that Clark was going to miss his first Halloween. Aaron reminded me that this was an obedience issue and we needed to stand firm in our decision. I wanted to cry. Aaron said the whole ride home Clark cried, and once he calmed down, he told Clark if he wanted to trick or treat, all he needed to do was take two bites. Nope. More crying. 

The moral of the story is that Aaron and I backed down. Don't judge us. We both wanted so bad for Clark to experience a fun Halloween with his friend. And because he had never trick or treated before, he really had no idea what he was sacrificing. We simply asked Clark to say he was sorry for disobeying, and that next time we ask him to eat two bites that he obey us. Aaron called me while he was at home with Clark and put me on speakerphone so that Clark could apologize, and he said he was VERY sorry. It was sweet. So they loaded back up in the car and met up with us just in time to trick or treat the streets of Madison. 

Clearly Clark had no idea what he was doing. It took him about three houses to grasp the concept and to say thank you but not after some very awkward moments of Clark just silently standing there like a little turd holding a pumpkin bucket. But once he caught on, he and Jackson had a blast running up and down driveways yelling "TRICK OR TREAT!!!!" at loud volumes and laughing and screaming. Griffin sat happily buckled in the wagon the entire time watching the chaos and occasionally snuggling up to his beloved blue blanket. He was a perfect angel all night.

We finished the night with large pieces of a decadent chocolate cake Amy made for us. Correction: I ate TWO large pieces, which ended up being almost half of the entire dadgum cake. It was ridiculous. So good. I had no control that night. And then I ate a little bit of Clark's candy. And then I got up early the next morning and hit a spin class hard in an attempt to burn off hopefully at least 1/4 of the calories I consumed the night before. 

So Clark won the battle of the wills on Halloween 2012. But we are okay with it. He's a good kid. He understands obedience, not that he actually does it every time. I'm sure when he is a little older and can understand true consequences of disobedience (besides spankings, time outs, etc.), we probably will stick to our guns in situations like the one above. But for now, I'm fine with letting him enjoy this short toddlerhood he's in and steer him in the right direction as we go. 

Happy Halloween from a pirate, a fireman, and a very blessed mama and daddy.