Thursday, April 15, 2010

Finnegan

Finn. Finnie. Little Man. Baby. Baby Boy. Baby Brother. Brother. Big Boy. Monkey. Wiggle Worm. Snuggle Bug. Mr. Serious. Mr. Destructo. Demolition Baby. Handsome. Stunt Boy. Flirty Finn.

At this point, Finn's vocabulary is limited. He says "Mama, Daddy, Baba, Banana, Up, No. Yes. Uh-oh. Baby." And a whole lot of gibberish that we don't really understand yet. Sometimes I swear he's repeating everything he hears and someday it's going to just come out crystal clear.

Loves books, just like Mom, Dad and sister

He's often mistaken for being shy. I think by comparison to Zoe, that is understandable. He will not run up to strangers and introduce himself like she does. Instead, he will stare intently until he is noticed and then bat his eyelashes. He will hide his face and then look back at you quickly to make sure you're watching him. He's got a smile that will charm just about anyone. His eyelashes are ridiculously long and thick.

I don't think I ever realized how active a one year old could be until I had Finnegan. He went from sitting up to crawling to walking to running so fast, we never knew what hit us. I've called Zoe my monkey since she was in my belly... but Finn? Finn is truly a monkey - climbing all over us, his sister, the dogs, the fireplace, the sofas. If we don't know where he is, good places to check are on top of our dining, kitchen and end tables. I've caught him trying to scale bookcases. Finn is fearless. He does not hesitate to slide down a four foot high slide. He stands on top of his cars and tries to use them as skateboards. Every day he gets a new bruise and every day I consider buying him protective gear. When he gets hurt and cries, I am sure he does so out of frustration. He is a dare devil.

Despite all the dolls and dress up clothes around here, Finn is all about being active. He loves playing with his soccer ball and his trucks. I imagine he will be the athlete... or maybe he'll be in a band? He loves all instruments, the louder, the better. He loves pushing around the toy vacuum cleaner... I'm looking forward to taking advantage of that someday. Finn is more interested in playing with Bailey and Max than Zoe ever has been. If he's not standing on a table, he's kicking back with the dogs in their bed, chasing them around the house, or trying to play tug of war with them.

Toy tester

Finn is strong. My tough guy. He likes to play wrestle with his sister and often wins. He can lift things his own size and bigger. He will push chairs, trash cans, full laundry baskets around the kitchen. If something does not budge, he will yell at it as if that will help. Even though he is younger and smaller, he sticks up for his sister - he has hit and yelled at two kids when they bullied Zoe.

Zoe likes to introduce Finn to everyone we meet and even people who wouldn't even notice us if it weren't for her yelling out "Here's my Finnegan brother!" which sounds an awful lot like "Here's my stinkin' brother!" and always leaves people a little perplexed. I always repeat what she says and she and Finn just look at me like I'm crazy for repeating what's already been said. Zoe also likes to tell strangers that Finn does not listen to his mother and that he is shy. She likes to call him her "little bug" and "little rascal" and he seems to love everything she says and does.

Leading the way

I'm glad we had them so close together because I am sure that is why they are such great friends. It is not uncommon for them to be walking around the house holding hands. They hug and kiss and cuddle on the couch together. It is their favorite thing to get to go in and wake each other either in the morning or from a nap. Recently, when he was getting tired and ready for his morning nap, he stumbled over to his sister and gently put his head on her lap while she rubbed his back. At night when they're both getting tired, they like to pile on top of me... I think they enjoy those quiet moments sharing me. I do not doubt that they will grow up to be partners in crime, already they've mastered a "divide and conquer" technique at the park that succeeds in wearing me out beyond words but seems to entertain them endlessly.

Sometimes, I forget to write about Finnegan. Not because I love him any less, but because his sister is so much more vocal than he is right now. But my boy? He adds to the love and the laughter in this house, more than I thought was possible. He is full of energy and curiosity and possibility and I can't wait to see who he becomes. I'm already so proud of who he is.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Day Without Kids

I've been sans kids all day because I'm dealing with a stomach bug. I've got to say, if I didn't feel so horrible, it would be pretty great.

And I feel a little bit bad for typing that. Except, I don't... not really, really bad anyway.

I think I put unrealistic expectations on myself.

Since having Finnegan, I have only been alone for a hand full of days. Since having him, I rarely get breaks. I am rarely not attached to one or both kids. And this might be too much information, but it is a rare treat if I get to go to the bathroom by myself.

Before you say, that's what being a mom is... I know. I know, and I love it. But everyone has their breaking point. Everyone needs to take a day here and there to relax. Hell, not necessarily an entire day - I'd take a couple hours a week! Being a stay at home mom, despite what some people may think - is physically and emotionally exhausting. While I love what I get to do and I am eternally grateful that I am able to stay home with my children, some days all I can think is "I need a day off!" and sometimes it's all I can do to get through the day without bursting into tears.

Because that feeling makes me feel like I must be the worst mother in all the world. Who would not want to get to be with these kids all day, every day?! They are sweet and funny and such amazing little beings. Every single day they do something that makes me think this is so worth it. I get to watch them become who they are going to be. And I can't help but think I must be an asshole for wanting to get to go out with my camera or sit and read a book or write because look who I get to spend my time with! Not everyone gets to do this.

And so I feel shame. Like I must not being doing this right. Because if it's hard, then I must not be a natural, right? Except I know that's crap.

Last night I was curled up on the couch feeling miserable. Zoe walked up to me:

Are you OK, Mommy?
I'll be OK, honey. My tummy just hurts.
Aw. Can I read to you?
Yes, please.


She goes to get her Princess and the Frog book.

Can I sit with you?
Yes, I would love that.


So she "reads" the story. The last page shows Tiana and Prince Naveen after they've gotten married. They're about to walk underneath all the swords:

What are they doing here, mommy?
They just got married.
Married.
Like mommy and daddy.
I need to get married!
Well, someday. If you want to. When you fall in love with the right one.
Well I love you, Mommy.
I love you, baby.


Sometimes I need that reminder, you know? That even when I'm feeling physically ill and feel like I'm just not good at this, I have these two babies who wouldn't have any other mommy than me.

I guess that's why I'm writing this. Because being a mom isn't all about the funny, sweet moments. Even if it is a lot of that - it's also the headaches and kids running around like wild things. It's about wanting to pull your hair out some days. It's about knowing your limits and dealing with what you have. It's about time management and taking advantage of bedtime. At the end of the day, all you can do is be the best you can.

Daniel just got home with the kids. I just realized how much I missed them today....

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Bella the Great

bella_the_great-first_clouds_8zfr

A few months ago I saw some posts on facebook from multiple friends about a couple trying to save their home from foreclosure by starting their own publishing company and children's series based on their now four year old daughter, Bella. I was touched by their story and their creativity in finding a way to supplement their income. I was drawn to the concept of Bella the Great - an imaginative and adventurous little girl, (much like my own) and her sidekick Iago, a stuffed bunny. As I navigated their website and saw the lovely illustrations created by Jonathan Ashley, I got excited about getting to not only share Bella the Great with Zoe and Finnegan, but with my friends and family as well. I had to resist the urge to purchase the coloring books and t-shirts I wanted because we're on a tight budget ourselves these days, but I quickly pre-ordered the first book:

Temp-Web-Bump-Bedroom-Balle

Bella Goes Bump in the Night

Moments later, I was messaging Derek and telling him how inspired I was by his story. We quickly became facebook friends, exchanged messages and later connected with each other's spouses. I shared my interest in pursuing my photography and writing and he and his wife became my cheerleaders and gifted me with the services of a designer to build a merchant site for my photography. Since then, I have gotten to know them more through messages, posts and photos and I am so grateful to have connected with two people who are filled with so much "Love and Light". I do not doubt that I am a more optimistic person by having them in my life. It is amazing to me that despite Derek and I growing up in the same town, going to the same high school and sharing many friends past and present, we didn't know each other at all before all of this - I'm just happy I get to be friends with him and Gina now.

When I first read about Derek and Gina, Daniel and I were just starting the process of buying our first home. When we signed our loan documents and committed to 30 years of payments, I couldn't help but think of our friends and what they are going through. Now that we are homeowners, (as of April Fools, ha) I am even more sympathetic and invested in helping them get their story out there. I have so many dreams for our home, I can only imagine what a nightmare it would be to be faced with losing it. Not a day goes by without me thinking of my new friends and hoping people are as touched by their story as I am.

So, here's the deal: Derek and Gina have a Bella the Great website. It tells their story and has an online store for you to pre-order from the Bella line. Please, check it out. They're on Facebook - become a fan and help me spread the word! Help my friends and get a beautiful book, coloring book, poster, or t-shirt (or hey, the entire line!) in the process - everyone wins...