Friday, September 26, 2008

Change


Change is hard, and we've been having some around here. This is a picture of Pace on her first day of school a few weeks ago. I'd picked out this dress the night before. We'd eaten breakfast, packed her lunch, and in all of our excitement were ready to walk out the door an hour before it was time. If you don't know, it's not fun to have a 2 year old pumped up about doing something and then have to tell them over and over they'll have to wait. I agreed that we could go outside and play to help the time pass, even in her sweet little white dress. As she was swinging in the neighbors swing (like superman)...a bird took a big fat crap on her back!! Now, her little white dress is purple, no other clothes are cute AND clean for her to wear, so I start scrubbing the back of her dress. Purple poo is bleeding on it like crazy and any sane person would have just taken the thing off and started over. Not me! For whatever reason it was in my mind that THIS was the first day of school outfit, and I couldn't have her going in and making a bad first impression in play clothes.

Eventually, I got the nast (mostly) out, loaded the girls in the car, and managed to go from one hour early to 10 minutes late for the first day. As we walked in, Pace's eyes wandered over to her class (and teacher) from the year before. Now, we've been building up the new class and new teacher at our house for a solid month, but suddenly all thoughts of anything new being good were thrown out the window. She ran up to Mrs. Denise (last year's teacher), clung to her leg like a vice and begged to come to her class. Meanwhile, Mrs. Debbie (the new teacher) is doing her best to sell her charms and both teachers are inquisitive as to why she's soaking wet. So, I proceeded to try and explain about the bird poo situation while also holding the very amused Mary Aplin and dragging the very distraught Pace into the proper room. The "Hold me, Mommy, HOLD me!" chant has begun from the damp child, and I give in. One hip is holding Mary Aplin, the other hip is holding Pace, and my mind is cursing the high wedge shoes I'd chosen to try and make my own good impression on the first day. Pace has broken into tears at this point, and I have moved from cajoling to stern, "Pace Maddox, you stop that crying or we're going to the bathroom and we're going to have a LONG talk. This is Mrs. Debbie, you've been so excited about her, and you better get down right now and show her how sweet you can be."
Poor Mrs. Debbie, who was still trying hard to win Pace's affection, reached out to pry her from my arms (while not actually making contact with the wet poo poo back of her dress) and what did my daughter do? She grabbed onto my ponytail and wouldn't let go. I was being drug towards Mrs. Debbie's arms by my HAIR, when the school director came in and told me to just go, she would call my cell phone in ten minutes if Pace hadn't calmed down. "Don't worry!" she assured me. "All the other kids did the same thing on their first day." Thanks for the encouragement, but I'd be willing to bet all the other Mom's didn't get their hair ripped out by the roots. I was humiliated. I was one of those Moms who don't have control over their children in public.
I went home, and a few minutes later got a phone call telling me that Pace had cheered up almost immediately after I left. Then, four extremely short hours later :), I went to pick her up, and y'all the child was dressed like a princess, dancing around the table with other children. I stood with a group of other Moms to watch the cuteness. She saw me, started shooing me away with her hand as she said, "No Mommy, I don't WANT to go home YET!" What a change. Embarrassed when I dropped her off because she clung to me like we'd never been apart a moment in her life. Embarrassed when I picked her up because she acted like she could care less about going home with me.
This one had a little change this past week as well (I don't know what is going on with blogspot, but it will NOT let me move that picture at the top of the page down here. Sorry). We moved up from the rear facing pumpkin seat, to the forward facing car seat. It is such a fun change, to look back and see her grinning face instead of the top of her head, but I cried when I took that pumpkin seat out. I, like Pace, may love the change after it happens, but its hard to make that transition. So, these are two areas in our life that are changing. There are others as well...others that are even more difficult. I have embarrassed myself, not pulling anybody's hair out, but wanting to :) But, just like God brought Pace great joy--even dancing--from her big change; I trust that he will do the same for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First Word!!!!

Talk about a big week for us over here at the Maddox house! Mary Aplin has taken her first step and said her first word...all in the same week!!!! And the first word is...drum roll please....DOG. Pronounced just as southern as can be: DAWWWG. We were at dinner two nights ago, all talking away with Mary Aplin munching in her high chair, when suddenly I noticed Pace and Mary Aplin were both giggling really hard and mocking each other. I started watching and noticed that Mapple Dapple was grunting a hard "D" sound. She was straining so much to pronounce that sound that her little face was turning bright red. Then, I noticed that it sounded like a little "awg" was out coming after that hard "D". "Mary Aplin!" I squealed, "did you just say dog?!" As soon as she heard me repeat that hard earned word, she started clapping and smiling so hard I thought she might hurt herself. I ran down to the basement, grabbed a picture of our old, beloved and disappeared Buckley, and showed it to her.

Anyway, it's gone on like this for a couple of days. She being very excited to pronounce her word, but me uncertain as to whether or not she really knew what she was talking about. I watched her look at the big Great Dane across the street and say it. And now, she has been consistently saying it about our picture of Buckley, so I'm claiming it. The first word! And here's the video to prove it. (I'm so embarrassed that you're seeing our wreck of a bedroom in this video, but that's real life I guess.)

video

I have repeated all the normal first words: Mama, Dada, Sister, Pace, Bottle, Milk, Bite-- over and over again. We don't even have a dog here anymore, but she lights up like a Christmas tree whenever she sees one. Squealing with delight as they lick her face to pieces. And the bizarre thing is that "Dog" was Pace's first word too!! When I told my Dad he said that maybe his grand-daughters would be Veterinarians like him, since obviously none of his daughters were going to be :) I don't know, it could also be that my in-laws love dogs in a huge way, and maybe they just inherited that love. Whatever the reason, we'll take it!

On a more serious note, Friday night, after Mary Aplin first discovered she could communicate with us, she also decided she couldn't sleep. On her THIRD wake-up, I gave up and just turned on the light in her room to hang out for a while. She immediately started straining with that hard "D"aaawwwg, and rejoicing triumphantly as I repeated it back to her. I was so filled with joy and wonder, watching my little person discover something new, something that would be a stepping stone for the rest of her life. The magnanimity of it all sort of overwhelmed me, and I thanked God for the reward of being a mother and getting to share something so special with her. After all these months of saying words slowly and coaxing her to try them too, the reward of seeing her understand is just hard to explain. Then in my sheer happiness, I started sobbing. I'm sure Mary Aplin was quite confused, but I just thought of my own Mom...how she must have felt this same way about me some 26 years ago. I felt a bond with her and a gratefulness for her, that you can't understand, as a child, until you become a parent yourself. I wish I could tell her. Thanks Mom, for teaching me and thanks Mapple Dapple, for letting me share these first moments with you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Had Happened Was...

I don't know how many of you saw the post I put up yesterday morning, but it was basically one of the songs Jeremiah has recently written. There was something a little...stark about it. When you here a song sung, you have to strain to catch all the words, the music softens things a bit, but when you just type it out as poetry it puts the writer out there. Anyway, I of course let Jeremiah read it before I posted his thoughts and he spent an entire day telling me he just wasn't sure. Then yesterday morning, as he was walking out the door for work, I asked him again if I could publish it and he said, "Just go ahead, I guess." So, I posted it. Was happy to share a beautiful piece of him with you. But then he called back mid-morning and sort of panicked at the thought that he was so out there on the world wide web. I understood. I have to work hard to keep myself from deleting a lot of my posts. But, I took it down. I did, afterall, say I wanted to be trustworthy of the heart he shares with me. I just didn't want those of you who did read it, to worry that we were in a fight or something. I DID get permission before I posted it, that permission was just retracted :) Maybe he'll get brave later and I can put it back up!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sunrise

I've known some guys who wore their emotions right out there in the open for everybody to view. That's all well and good, but I could not be married to one of those. I love a rich chocolate layer in a man, but I want that layer to be hidden. In fact, I want to feel like I am the only one who has access to it :) If you met my husband you might think: 1)There's a guy who very precisely cuts people open for a living...and likes it 2) There's a guy who doesn't think about if his baby needs a diaper change unless the smell knocks him over :) 3) There's a guy who likes to be active and outside. Or Even 4) There's a guy who'd kick my butt into next week if he saw me looking at his wife the wrong way...and all of those things would be very right. What you might not think is: There is a guy who just finished writing this song:

It interrupts the darkness. It interrupts my rest.
A golden ray of morning, fills my eyes and warms my chest.
As my eyelids slowly open, long before I can see,
I touch the skin of my lover, sleeping close to me.
As I pull her body to me and clutch her fingers in my fist,
Once again I find the sun has beat me to my morning kiss.

Chorus:
The sunrise is wakin' me and remindin' me of where I am.
Sunrise is tellin' me to leave this bed the world's at hand, but
Sunrise don't you think that, I'm just a man and I need some rest for now.
But your in my eyes, fillin' up my mind, telling me:
Make way the darkest night, for the morning light to fill my eyes.

On my way to the window, I cannot help but smile
To see lines of dust within the rays as they linger for a while.
The leaves and hills roll out before me, just as far as I can see,
But well known to my mind is every bend of every tree.
Now the creek cannot be seen from the place where I stand,
But I know where she lies, cause her fog drifts close at hand.

Chorus (but second line is different):
The sunrise is wakin' me and remindin' me of where I am.
The sunrise is tellin' me to do what it is I think I can but,
Sunrise don't you think that I'm just a man and I need some rest for now.
But you're in my eyes, fillin' up my mind, telling me:
Make way the darkest night for the mornin' light to fill my eyes.

Bridge:
I can draw the shade. I can close the door,
But the blackness can stay no more.
If I take my leave from this bed,
Can I follow as by the light I am led?

Chorus
Repeat first verse.

I wish so badly that you could hear him picking this on his guitar and singing it. I will tell you that the first time I ever heard that "sun stealing a morning kiss" line, I nearly raped him :) In all seriousness, he is the most all-around talented musician I've ever met, and there's no voice in the world that can put me at peace like his can.

I love that I get glimpses of his heart through his music. I love that we still have moments when a cloud passes over his face that I can't decipher and that there are pieces of his heart that he still hasn't let me see completely. I feel like it's my privilege to draw those little pieces out of him, to prove myself trustworthy of the parts he's offered, and I am thankful God has given me the rest of my life to learn it all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Steps!!!!

A couple of nights ago, I was trying to get Mary Aplin to take those first little steps to me (for somewhere around the eight thousandth time), and she sort of fell/walked a few little steps. I just didn't feel comfortable "counting" those as her first. BUT last night, we were with Ashley (Jeremiah's sister) and I was half talking half holding my hands out to Dapple Dapple, when it suddenly happened!! She took three tiny little purposeful steps all by herself!! So, just a few days after turning 11 months old, I've decided we're counting these as her first. She took a couple more last night and a couple this morning. I am so proud of my little girl.

I might add that she has also learned to kiss upon request in the past couple of days. She hasn't quite grasped the pucker and comes in completely smiling and opened mouth, but we'll take it! I do have to give Jeremiah most of the credit on that one.

(These are some pictures I took of them yesterday--the day that IT happened).

Monday, September 15, 2008

Finally, Those Thoughts From Seattle

First of all, let's talk about Seattle the place. The outdoors stuff was beautiful, and it would be amazing to have access to hiking like that. The weather was...less than desirable to me. Y'all I just don't want to be COLD in August. I felt like I never got warm all the way through, the whole time I was there. Then there's the constant drizzly rain that everybody kept warning us about. We had a couple of days like that and it was hard to fathom experiencing that for MONTHS at the time. The city was...a big city. There were homeless people and lots of traffic and construction. I'm not sure what I expected, but it was just big. We were in the heart of downtown, and we heard that there are charming communities all around that people live in. We didn't explore those areas, partly because I felt a little premature doing something like that. Seattle has one of the top spine fellowships in the country, and I felt like we'd be assuming WAY too much to start going around looking at real estate. I did love the fact that from almost anywhere I went in the city, I could get a view of the water, and every restaurant we ate in was amazing. So, there were a few perks to the city :)

Mainly Jeremiah and I were impressed with Seattle's spine program. We got to go to dinner with one of the main surgeons there, and I told Jeremiah that he (Dr. Chapman) embodied what I imagined academic medicine should be about. You could tell that he invested a lot of himself in his fellows and residents, and he was proud of their success. He seemed to treat those under him like men worth befriending instead of like pledges for torturing. There was a lot about him and the program to respect. So, I enjoyed Seattle. It could be a fun adventure. I am not dying to spend the rest of my life out there, but (I hope) I can make anything fun for a year. (I feel the need to clarify that even if Jeremiah does match in the Seattle program, we would not be actually moving there for another 2 years. I have had several close friends call me in horror that we were about to pick up and leave, and I should have told y'all the time frame to start with.)

Now, what we talked about in Seattle, with all that time on our hands to think coherently. On somewhere around Day 2 of our trip, Jeremiah turned to me and said, "You're such a different person when we're on vacation. Why is that? I feel like I'm pretty much the same." Now, I will say that this comment was made with a very innocent expression on his face. Like he didn't understand that I was hearing, "You're a real beast at home, why are you so fun here?" For the sake of the happiness of our trip, for the sacred rite we try to uphold of "No fighting on vacation," I held my tongue and just nodded in agreement. What I said was "Yep, I am different, and it sure feels great to not have any responsibility," (Smile, smile, blink blink).

Can I tell you what I wanted to say? I wanted to say, "Heck yeah I'm different and you're NOT! Want to know why? It's because I'm the one who keeps a CONSTANT mental checklist at all times when we're at home. I'm the one who has to know before we walk out the door if the girls will need a meal, or snack, or drink, or diaper, or toys, or nap, or charged portable DVD player. I can go climb a mountain on an empty stomach and know that I won't be laying on the floor pitching a fit, but I can't be spontaneous like that with our children! So, you're right. I am probably different on vacation." Can you tell I'm toting a little resentment here? I love my husband, and I am thankful for him. He works harder and longer hours than any other person I know, but sometimes I want to wring his neck, because when he gets ready to do something, heck, he just does it. If I want to do anything--even if I'm not taking the girls--there are 10,000 things I have to handle and get snugly in place first.

Later in the trip, he asked me if I thought we should have waited longer to have children. He wasn't the only one, I was feeling so free and, I have to admit, that little nagging thought had come to my mind as well. But suddenly, when he asked me I had complete clarity. The answer is "No, I don't think we should have waited any longer." If we didn't have children, we wouldn't have been relishing every second of this time together like we were. We couldn't have appreciated the alone time, if it was something we had always at our disposal. And then, there's all that we had to come home to. The hugs and smiles and sweet kisses and "I miss you"'s. The security that comes from feeling like our own real family. Even the satisfying weariness that comes from serving people you love...all these things are ours because of those all-consuming babies that were waiting for us at home.

We spent the end of his vacation, Friday through Sunday, at the beach with just our little family. We'd missed the girls and our normal life so bad, that we never even went out to eat. We just soaked up the enhanced normalcy of living our life at the beach. I cooked while Jeremiah entertained Pace and Mary Aplin. We ate as a family and watched the girls make utter messes of themselves. Jeremiah cleaned the kitchen while I bathed the rascals, covered them in baby lotion, and wrapped them in their pajamas. After we'd read a story, taken a bottle, and said our prayers, we left the girls to sleep and went out onto the balcony. I sat in his lap and we both stared out at the moon on the ocean while we talked about life. So, maybe I did try to stand up a couple of times, mentioning that the girls were still going to wake us bright and early. Maybe Jeremiah did have to remind me to enjoy the moment and not throw vacation Abby completely away. It was still happy, normal life, and although I may be different on vacation, I like who I am here even better.

Violated?

I don't know if y'all noticed the new live feed on the sidebar. I think its really fun to watch as different people from around the country pop on and pop off the blog. It blows me away, and I've spent WAY too much time watching it today (hopefully that will wear off a bit :)). Anyway, I've hesitated about whether to add this or not because, while I think it's amazing, I don't want all of you feeling violated. However, once I added a picture of my child's naked hiney-butt to the blog, I figured it might to OK to know what city you live in :) Obviously, this doesn't tell me who you are, but I could see where it might take away some of the...mystery. So, I just wanted to ask if any of you had an opinion.

(BTW, that's a picture of Jeremiah and Pace leaving to take their walk on the beach last weekend. Something about how big he is, how little she is, and how they're both walking off so purposefully is adorable to me.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Why Kids Like to Stay with Their Grandparents

I thought everybody might could use a little comic relief after that last blog. I just downloaded these pictures off my Dad's camera from his adventures keeping the girls while we were in Seattle. He had them for the long weekend (before they went to stay with Jeremiah's parents), and I was a little nervous about how it was going to go...one Papa with TWO little girls. As you can see, I had no reason to be concerned.

I love to stay with my Papa because:

He lets me make my own omelet, even before the sun's awake.
He is so nervous about getting us dressed and to church on time, that we're ready an hour early--just enough time to play in the yard in our Sunday clothes.(And notice he even did my bow!)

He lets me run around outside butt naked, just because I want to.

He makes me laugh while I eat dinner.

He lets me bake cookies and eat all the dough I want.

He takes me to Krispy Kreme for breakfast.
And he knows that a girl needs a chocolate covered doughnut too.

He thinks my milk mustache is cute, even when it's mixed disgustingly with the sugar from my doughnut.
He indulges my need to be a princess.
Even after Krispy Kreme, he still takes me to McDonald's for lunch.
And it's soooo good.
He understands that, sometimes, it's hard when you don't get your way.
He lets me go down the slide as many times as I want to.
Mainly, he is a good Papa, and we are all so thankful for him.

(By the way, don't think that Kendall was there to help him with all of that. I just loved this picture of the two of them from the day she moved in to Auburn.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

"You're Such a Good Mom"

Yesterday, I was on the beach with Pace (who had refused to take her afternoon nap) while Mapple Dapple was napping. I had been planning on this particular hour being my time to just sit in my chair. My time to not be either covered in sand or holding a child in the ocean, and I was skirting the issue hard. "You're making such pretty castles on your own! You're such a big girl, you don't need Mommy to play with you..." It wasn't working. Then, in my head I heard someone say, "You're such a good Mom." I remembered with guilt that I was very pregnant and playing with Pace (who was flipping out because she couldn't get the sand off her fingers) in the sand when I heard it. It seemed like it was so recent...who had said that? I played the words again, and suddenly I felt that ache that has come to be too familiar these days as I recognized the sweet voice. There is something so jarring about hearing a voice that seems so real and recent in your mind, only to realize how utterly far away they are now...

Mom and I did not start off all that great in the "mother encouraging her daughter who is a new mother" category. For me at least, there were times as a new Mom that I questioned the innate nature I had always assumed I possessed. How could I be so frustrated with my own baby? How could anything that cute still make me want to scream (as loud as I could) in frustration? Was something wrong with me? Was I evil? Then I would remember my own Mom. The woman who would blow up from time to time during our childhood, and I would think, "There is where I will find solstice! She will understand! She will assure me that I am not crazy!"

So I would call her, time and again I would call expecting an understanding ear only to hear, "Abby, how can you get so frustrated with that precious baby? She's an angel child!" And every time I would hang up feeling like I must be evil after all. Then one day I was having a particularly frustrating time, driving down Hwy 280 with Pace screaming her head off in the backseat, not because she was hungry or tired or needed a diaper change (I had handled all of those things moments before); she was just crying because she wanted to be held. At that particular moment Mom called, and I made the mistake of answering.

"Abby, what in the world is Pace crying about?!"

"She's mad because she's strapped in her car seat and she wants me to hold her. Can you just ignore it? What were you calling about?"

"I don't know how in the world you can let that baby cry like that. I'd just have to pull the car over. I couldn't bear it!"

"Don't you think I hate it too? What do you want me to do, risk our lives by swerving off the highway, so that I can get off on the shoulder of the road with traffic whizzing by, take her out of her seat, which would calm her down immediately, but then have to put her right back and listen to her cry even harder? Or do you just want me to B Spears it down the interstate with her in my lap. She may be crushed if we had a wreck, but at least she wouldn't be crying."

"I don't know Abby, but there's got to be a parking lot around there somewhere. I just couldn't stand it."

I got off the phone, so angry and hurt I could spit. Why did she always make me feel like a negligent mother? Then I heard a little voice asking me if it was really her fault. Wasn't it me who was always calling to tell her about the moments I was stressed. How often did I call just to tell her the sweet stuff? Did I ever make her see that 90% of life with that little baby was blissfully happy...there was just that other 10%...and that was what she was always hearing about. So, I did pull off the highway, into a quiet neighborhood. I took Mom's advice and just sat in a big soccer field and loved on Pace until she was completely content. Miraculously, she didn't even cry when I put her back in that car seat. I guess I'd waited long enough, that she forgot what she was so mad about. Then, I called Mom back. I had decided to tell her that she was right about calming Pace down, and then paint the picture of the beautiful morning we'd shared. She was glad to hear there was no more screaming, and then I told her about the time we'd spent that morning, just Pace and me, in mine and Jeremiah's big bed. I told her about how I'd put toys just out of her reach and she had rolled over. I told her about how we smiled and cooed at each other for who knew how long. I told her that if life would fade away, I could watch Pace develop all day long, and never stop smiling. Then I paused, and do you know what she said?

"Abby, I just worry about her rolling around on that big bed of yours. Its so high and those hard floors--she would break her neck if she rolled off. I just don't think its a good idea how you're always playing with her up there."

I lost it. Flipped. I told her about how I could hardly stand to talk to her anymore because she was always making me feel like a bad mother. I told her that I needed some encouragement and support...to know that I wasn't a bad person because I got frustrated with my baby. Who in the world was I supposed to confide those types of things in if it wasn't her? And (I'm just being honest with you) I told her that, believe it or not, I was old enough to remember when Kendall (my sister) was a baby, and I knew she hadn't always been Mother Theresa either!

I braced myself for the retaliation. To say my Mom didn't take criticism well would be the understatement of the century. She didn't take it at all--ever. But for the first time in my life, she was completely penitent. She apologized. She told me that she talked to all her friends about what a wonderful mother I was, and she had had no idea she was making me feel that way. And y'all, she never did it again. I'm not saying I didn't notice her biting her lip from time to time, but she stopped all the nagging guilt trips and she started encouraging me.

So, last summer when I waddled my pregnant self back and forth to the ocean with buckets full of water and got covered in sand as I taught my 2 year old what building sand castles was all about--I was feeling like a good mother. I was sitting just in front of Mom's feet and I heard her say, almost to herself, "You're such a good Mom" and I knew that this time her heart was sincere. She wasn't biting her lip or trying to build me up for the sake of our friendship--she meant it and I was deeply grateful. And as I sit here tonight, unable to sleep because I feel the need to get this story down before I lose it, I know she's so thankful that I remembered.

Seattle Catch Up

It's late (for us at least), and I don't have time for a whole post, but I wanted to let you know that we're home. The second half of our week was spent sight-seeing in Seattle together, and then Jeremiah went to shadow/interview the doctors while I took on the city alone. I am not going to give you a moment by moment (like I did of day one) partly because if you are not a parent, you won't understand why it was so much fun and partly because if you are a parent you'll just want to kill me because you are so jealous. The short version is: I shopped like I was a millionaire (I don't know what came over me!), sat in coffee shops and read my book (all alone and quiet), I explored an art museum that was filled with Impressionistic paintings (like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cassatt...all of my favorites!), we went to Pike Place market (which was like a farmer's market times 1,000 where they throw just barely dead fish around), and we had a romantic dinner every night (again, like we were millionaires).

This weekend, we took the girls to the beach. There are some things that evolved out of this trip that I am really looking forward to telling you about. Along with our heart feelings on Seattle. BUT, until I have more time...here's some fish from the market :) BTW, there will be no more pics of me or Jeremiah for a while. I feel sort of disgusting having so many of us and none of the girls.