Friday, June 29, 2012

Oh Boy

I remember the night before learning the sex of the baby. I had a few anxiety attacks. Seriously. My whole life, I had pictured having a girl. One of my friends even texted me "I hope it's a girl." I even wanted a girl simply because I've always hated when people said "I hope my first is a boy so that way when I have a girl, she'll have a big brother to protect her." What a bunch of malarky! How anyone still views women as the weaker sex, I don't understand. Of course, I had this feeling from the get go that God was giving me a boy. Even though I had always wanted a girl, I just knew--boy. God also gave me peace about it, too. I didn't really mind. I mean, what was I going to do, love the baby less? The night before knowing for sure, however, the God-given peace temporarily left me, and I let my imagination run away from me. I worried so much. What if I wouldn't be happy about it? What if I cried right there in the middle of the sonogram? What if the baby ended up a girl thus discrediting my gut feeling? The only thing I hate worse than having to say "I'm sorry" is being wrong about some gut instinct I had. Quite obviously, I learned that I had a baby boy incubating inside my womb. And I did cry during the sonogram--happy tears. Of course, I had to totally regroup and learn some things about little boys as I've had very limited experience around them. Here's a few highlights of what Jude has taught me so far. 1. Changing a diaper requires my undivided attention. Either focus, or get hosed. Thanks to the unpredictability of Jude's bathroom habits, I have developed some pretty sweet cat-like reflexes. And also threw my neck out once. 2. On the surface, boy clothes shopping seems a lot less fun than girl clothes shopping. However, TJ Maxx and Baby Gap do a pretty good job of stocking some awesome baby boy apparel. Jude receives compliments all the time on his style. Even the weird comic book guy in Ridgeland wants to send his photo to a modeling agency (a big fat "No" on that one for anyone wondering). Also, boy hats are way cooler than girl hats. 3.Jude prefers cat food to Cheerios. I have given up on the Cheerios thing. Numerous times I have set the cereal before him, and he completely comes apart. However, this morning, I caught him in the cat food bowl just chowing down! This did not please Weezy or me (or Jude when I snatched him away from the bowl). 4. Anyone who has met Jude even if for a few minutes knows this--he can turn on the charm. He will smile, laugh, clap hands, squeal, and anything else to win over someone's heart, especially a female's. In his rolling over stage, an eyewitness (ok, ok, his baby-sitter) reported that he had rolled right over to his little friend, incidentally a baby girl, and put his arm around her. I don't even think his father was ever that smooth. 6. Jude idolizes Jeffrey. Of course, so do I. 7. Sometimes Jeffrey and I take the Ipad, pull up Jude's pictures, and set to Slide Show as a means to distract him. For an added bonus, i.e. squeals of glee, we add some pictures of ourselves to the slide show. It is seriously the cutest thing, and hearing those joyous shrieks help me put aside those feelings of inadequacy that my twelve month old can work my Ipad faster than I. 8. Jude has many interests, but I find he concentrates hardest on his "beads and crosswires" toy followed by watching his favorite sports team--Manchester United. Of course, I have more to add to this list, but I'm only hitting the highlights. I think anyone can tell I totally love being Jude's mother. Maybe one day I'll have that little girl I had originally wanted; we'll really know if God has a sense of humor then, because oh, what that would do to Jeffrey, especially if she turns out like me! However, I'll take what I got. While I still have much to learn about little boys, I'm enjoying the experience. Most importantly, I love Jude with my whole heart.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Last night, I wrote a post about my own father, so tonight I present a post about another father--my son's. What can I say about Jeffrey? Hmmm....Ok, all done! Just kidding! How a girl can have two, potentially three (although Jude hasn't reached manhood just yet) great men in her life is beyond me! However, I have that. Mine and Jeffrey's parenthood adventures got off to a late start compared to most couples. We were married seven years before Jude was born. Really, it took us that long to figure out,"Hey, our cat is still alive! Maybe we COULD raise a child!" I think I'm only half kidding on that. Actually, I married Jeffrey at the tender age of twenty-two, just two weeks after finishing my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Mississippi (because, as the old saying goes, "One never graduates from Ole Miss"). We knew back then that we wanted children, but we also wanted a few other things first--a Masters degree for me, an established career path for both of us, and visiting foreign lands to eat at their McDonald's restaurants for Jeffrey. We reached all of those goals and even bought our dream home in the meantime--all of that within four years of marriage. All we needed was the baby. Obviously, the baby didn't arrive right away, and maybe that's what makes Jude even more special. Here's a fun fact: even with my pregnancy past its due date, Jude still didn't want to arrive. My doctor had to force the little booger out with some inducing meds whose names I don't recall. (I haven't taken many drugs (prescription or recreational) in my life, so I don't keep up with what they're called. If I wanted to do that, I'd have been a pharmacist.) Anyway, one could say we both got a little frustrated over the whole "Why am I not pregnant yet" mystery. Well, the mystery never cleared up, but somehow within a year's time, I got pregnant twice. The first time, as I've mentioned in other posts, didn't work out, and the second one resulted in Jude. With all of the hoping and the frustration that came with the hoping, Jeffrey never once made me feel bad and always focused on the positive: "Next time," "It's ok," "It's going to happen," "We can adopt." Somehow, he always knew we would have children while I had my doubts. Jeffrey has a talent for two things (well, more than two things, but since he'll read this, I need to keep him humble--that's NOT one of the talents, by the way--HAHA!): making the most asinine comments while keeping a straight face and making these insanely goofy faces. He's especially good at using these talents around large groups of people where only I can see and hear him and therefore laugh uncontrollably at him while everyone else looks at me as if I've completely lost my mind. Yeah. I love when he does that. However, it's his fun loving spirit that makes him a good dad. My nieces and nephews LOVE Jeffrey. His students LOVE him. And while Jude doesn't understand his witty discourse just yet, he understands Jeffrey's sunny disposition to the point that he WORSHIPS his father. And besides having the reputation as the funny guy, Jeffrey puts his whole heart and soul into being Jude's father. Jeffrey comes to Jude's swimming lessons, he dutifully scrubs poop off of cloth diapers, he baby-proofs the house, he takes Jude on manly outings, and most importantly, a day doesn't go by without Jeffrey saying "I love you, son." Shoot, Jeffrey even bought a hat to match one that Jude had. (Although, Jeffrey's came from Saks Fifth Avenue since Gymboree didn't carry his size.) I have to admit, after several years of wondering where our baby was and then finally receiving him, I sometimes wondered if Jeffrey felt we were one and done. He frets over money way more than I do, and as we all know, kids aren't cheap. Then the other day, Jeffrey made a comment about how he couldn't understand how a guy couldn't feel joy after finding out about a baby, and that's when I knew that I could out birth Michelle Duggar and Jeffrey would be on board. Of course, it's in God's hands (wait--I think Michelle Duggar actually said this. Crap!). Bottom line--Jude has the best father in world. I mean, sure Jeffrey's a drummer and can't seem to grasp that Puma tennis shoes do not pair well with a tailored suit, but Jeffrey is someone to be admired simply because he loves his son and he loves me. Happy Father's Day, Jeffrey! I love you, and Jude loves you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Two very important men in my life celebrate Father's Day tomorrow: my own father, Ron, and my husband, Jeffrey. Therefore, I find it most appropriate to write a post about them. Let's start with Ron since I've known him longer. (Jeffrey's post will come tomorrow.) Without the U.S. Army to uproot Daddy from his homeland of Milwaukee, WI, I would not exist. Without his impeccable skills with shop tools that brought him to the Vicksburg Theater Guild to work on a set for a play where he would meet my mom, I would not exist. Even though he no longer serves in the Army and chances of him sitting through a musical with me are slim to fat chance in hell, and even though he and my mother have since split (though they remain very good friends and he will always carry a torch for her), these twists of fate brought him to fatherhood. I cannot put into words how much I love my dad. We've had some great times, from singing Huey Lewis and the News songs ("Stuck on You"--our personal favorite) each morning on the way to my pre-school to shouting "Hey Batta Batta SWING" loud as we could at each and every Milwaukee Brewers game we ever attended together to holding literary discussions over the phone for sometimes hours. Of course, no parent-child relationship comes without bumps in the road. Daddy did, after all, have to stand the test of my teenage years (my sister's too, although she went quite easy on him. She always has had a knack for kindness that somehow got lost on me). Needless to say, he passed with flying colors. Daddy was the one who taught me it was o.k. to cry. In some of our darkest times, sometimes that was all we could do. In September of 2009, I joyfully learned I was pregnant with mine and Jeffrey's first child. Three days later, I woke up bleeding, Jeffrey rushed me to the hospital, and there we learned that I had miscarried. Devastated doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what either Jeffrey or I felt. Hell, I still feel it from time to time. However, as we were leaving the hospital heading home, there was my dad coming into the lobby and in front of God, the geriatrics in wheelchairs, and everybody else, he held me tight, we both cried, and I felt that maybe Jeffrey and I weren't the last two people on earth after all. On any given day, I would've rather the earth swallowed me whole than to be seen squalling in the arms of my father in the lobby of the busiest hospital in Mississippi, but at that moment, I did not care. It's a moment I hope never to repeat but at the same time I can look back and see it for its beauty. Perhaps Daddy sometimes took the weepiness to an extreme, though. One of Jeffrey's favorite "Ron" moments occurred while we were dating. I had taken Jeffrey to Vicksburg for the first time. We were not engaged yet, but at that point, I knew he was "The One" so I wanted him to spend time with my family just so he could make sure that he could handle all of this crazy. The year before, Daddy had bought me a Toyota Camry, and that thing was loaded. (Sidenote: The Camry was the second to last car Daddy bought for me. After wrecking a wreck with it--yeah, you read that right-- my next car was merely a basic model Honda (read: one step up from a Fred Flintstone mobile.)) Anyway, I decided while in Vicksburg, I would wash the car inside and out. I Armor-alled, Turtle waxed, and everything else to make that car look fine, and did it ever! When all was done, Daddy came out, looked it over, took out his handkerchief, dabbed his eyes and said,"Give Daddy a hug." At that moment, Jeffrey ran off somewhere,laughed his ass off, yet still proposed to me a month later. The best gift my father ever gave me was to love me with his whole heart. I have always known, even when I had behaved very badly, he loves me no matter what. It's a gift I hope to pass down to my children, and one they will pass on to theirs. After all, that kind of love enabled me to confidently marry the love of my life at a fairly young age, decide on a career path, make sound financial decisions, and ultimately be happy with myself.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Michael Phelps

I signed Jude up for swimming lessons this summer at Maley Swim School. I had heard wonderful things about the instructors and the facility and had read up on the benefits of Water Babies classes, and thought, "Why not?" Plus, I needed something fun to do with Jude this summer. (Ok, ok, chasing around an almost-toddler and watching him play and squeal as he discovers new things is fun in itself, but the idea of bringing all that fun to the water would only elevate the cuteness factor that much more, right?) As it turns out, the swimming pool is not the bath tub, which is Jude's all-time favorite place at home, and well, Jude's no dummy, so he doesn't hesitate to let everyone know this. At the first lesson, he took to the water quite well with only a few minor freak outs. Most of those freak outs occurred when his instructor, Ms. Elizabeth, tried teaching him how to climb out of the pool. (Yes, little babies learn how to hold onto the side of the pool and pull themselves out--insane!)Jude thought that meant time to get out of the pool for good, so he squinted those eyes, balled up his fists, and let out a stealthy holler that almost immediately turned into smiling laughter as soon as he plopped back into the water. (So answer me this--at what age would one consider that sort of behavior manic depressive?) Jude's second lesson took a turn for the worse, though. I don't believe anyone got anything out of that lesson. In fact, I said silent prayers of thanks to God that the other little girl in the class did not show up because all Jude did was holler. Now that time, I did not go in the water with him. Jeffrey did. We figured out that Jude did not recognize Jeffrey without his glasses, so by the time Jeffrey went to put them on, Jude calmed down only a hair. In the meantime, I sat in the observation room (yes, an observation room--like on "Dance Moms"!) hearing these loud sobs with all these other parents crowding the window saying things like "Glad it's not me in there" and "Ooh, he's not happy" while I'm displaying remarkable restraint from bowing up and responding, "Well, no shit!" Anyway, to say the lesson didn't go too well would be the understatement of the week. Then again, I'm sure Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has had a bad day before. Normally, lessons happen on Mondays at 4:30; however, Maley's rescheduled this week's lesson to Friday (today) since they closed for Memorial Day. Neither Jeffrey nor I wanted to go into the water with Jude due to last week's fiasco, and the fact that a week and a half had passed since he last got in the pool. Unfortunately, it was my turn, though. As if disrobing to my bathing suit clad almost 12 month post-partum bod--which is pretty much back to pre-pregnancy shape, but still not pretty--in front of the observation windows isn't humbling enough, I also had the very likely chance of dealing with a Category 5 fit from my pint sized, albeit very strong, offspring therefore drawing these various and sundry parents to the windows overlooking the baby pool like moths to the flame. Sure enough, just as I had anticipated, Jude sounded off as soon as we touched the water. Ms. Elizabeth, pro that she is, continued with the singing of silly songs and splashing of water. (Oh, and there was another little kid there too who looked at Jude as if to say "Get it together. Geez!". Great.) Meanwhile, Jude commenced with his screams so loud that I swear I saw some paint on the wall bubble up and start to peel. I remained calm and tried my best to act like I was having the best time of my life in there hoping he would catch my spirit, but no such luck. Finally, I drew my little baby close and held him to my chest, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered in my most soothing "Mom voice", "Now, Jude. Michael Phelps may have had one bad day, and maybe even two, but he didn't have two bad days in a row. You can do this." Then he looked at me with those big tear-stained brown eyes, drew a big breath as if gearing up for one good ear drum splitting scream and broke into hysterical laughter. And that baby laughed the rest of the lesson. He laughed getting out of the pool, he laughed jumping back into my arms, he laughed going down the baby slide (twice), he laughed at the bubbles, he laughed while doing the monkey walk, and he laughed at getting out of the pool for good. He finally found his confidence in the water! I couldn't have been prouder than if he had won Olympic gold--which inevitably is in our future!