Friday, September 19, 2014

With the sound of music...

We do a lot of singing around here.

I'm always singing. Sometimes Will even says, "Mommy no singin'." (I wasn't quite sure what to do about that at first, so I usually just stopped. I told Brian about it, adding that I didn't know what to do, when Brian said, "That's ridiculous! He can't say that to you. Tell him if he says that again he's getting in trouble.") So now when Will says that, I reply, "Daddy doesn't want you to say that, Will." But then I usually stop anyway because... I'm not going to sing if I'm annoying everyone in the room.

But I digress.

So with all the singing we do around here, I've been eagerly anticipating hearing William start to sing himself. I read somewhere that kids will often start singing as soon as they can talk. But Will hasn't. He hasn't sung at all, except for this one instance, and has been tunefully mute ever since.

Well, as of a couple of days ago, I'm happy to announce that the silence has been broken! And with what better song than "Happy Birthday," sung spontaneously to no one in particular? Except my birthday is just around the corner, so let's go with that.

A day or two later, he was singing again, this time the current favorite "see girl see trees." And doing a mighty fine job at it, too.

As a mom, you're with your kid all the time. You know what they can do and what they can't (yet). And when they do something AMAZING, like singing "Happy Birthday", it makes you all kinds of excited because they've never done that before! Only when you tell someone about this incredible, amazing, spectacular feat... they don't get it! They think it's nice, they think it's cute... but they don't realize how REALLY SPECIAL it was!

So if you, out there, are reading this and thinking, "Ok, I guess that's good, but it is really that big a deal?" I say, "To me, friend. It is to me."

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I was nursing Barrett in the rocking chair just as naptime was beginning. Will was over in his crib and from my chair I heard him making slurping noises. "Will, shhh," I said. After a couple minutes the sounds continued. Barrett was done so I laid him down and went over to re-tuck Will. He had his empty hand cupped to his mouth as he slurped. "My hot coffee," he whispered. Right

Then he pointed to a circular pattern on the quilt hanging on the side of the bed. "Mommy, help me get my cookie." I looked at him, a bit confused, then grabbed an imaginary cookie with my fingertips and handed it to him. "Thanks," he whispered, and then ate it.

Gave Will a terrible haircut today. Too short. Ah, well. It grows back.

On a much sadder note:

My heart is heavy for a friend in NC. She and her husband just lost their first baby at seven months along in the pregnancy. A perfect little boy, just suddenly gone. I've cried, thinking of two wonderful parents weeping for their son, and the hundreds of children being born today to parents who won't take care of them. Why, Lord? Why does she have to go through this?

I've read that Catholics believe in "redemptive suffering." I'm not Catholic so I don't know all the specifics, but when they experience suffering they believe they can offer it up for souls in purgatory. Like I said, I'm not Catholic, but I find this to be incredibly attractive, this idea that our suffering could have a tangible purpose beyond developing Christ's character in us. To think that the question of Why, Lord? could be answered even the slightest bit. But I cannot believe in this doctrine, and so my heart just aches with why? Why?

Recipe Spotlight: Venison Breakfast Sausage

Remember when I asked, with a touch of self-pity, what in the world I was going to do with all that tough venison meat?

Well, I was forgetting a tip that I learned a long time ago: ground venison can be mixed with other ground meat to change its flavor. Why didn't I remember this??

Breakfast Sausage RecipeGround venison tends to not clump together as much when it's cooked; it falls apart easily (as opposed to ground beef or pork, for example). Not sure why this is - maybe because it's so lean? Anyway, for this reason, Brian doesn't really like it for taco meat or chili. Well, mix it with ground beef, half and half, and suddenly you have what seems like twice as much ground beef and no one can tell the difference.

I put this principle to work the other night and whipped up some of this breakfast sausage (recipe and image courtesy AllRecipes). I bought about 1.5 pounds of ground pork for about $6 and mixed it with a little over 4 pounds of ground elk meat. (Roughly 60:40 venison/pork ratio.)

I modified the recipe amounts to adjust for 6 pounds of meat - and that's all. I didn't make any other changes. (Well, I didn't have any cloves so I guess I changed that too.) I mixed the sausage mixture in my KitchenAid, wrapped it in logs, and stuck it in the freezer.

This family LOVES sausage. Would they like this??? My courage faltered and my hope wavered.

Um, YES. Will and Brian loved it. The seasonings were spot on, the flavor was great, and the sausage was a lot less fatty than straight pork sausage (while at the same time not being so lean that it crumbled in the pan). It was SO stinking easy, too.

You could certainly play around with the venison/pork ratio, although my frugal bone really likes that I paid $6 for what ended up being six pounds of sausage. But written below is the same recipe, with my modifications, and you can play around with it as you like.

If you happen to be waging the same highly unusual and very specific struggle of wondering what to do with all of your tough venison pieces when your husband is picky about texture and also on a low-carb diet... I certainly hope this is helpful to you.

Venison/Pork Breakfast Sausage
(Makes six servings)
20 ounces ground venison
12 ounces ground pork
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon marjoram
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Mix meat with seasonings. I am sure someone would be aghast at the idea of mixing it in the KitchenAid, but I find that's the easiest way to evenly mix the pork and venison (and the result didn't taste tough, in my opinion). Just don't overmix. Roll into a log and slice with a thin knife for patties, crumble and cook for your favorite recipe, or freeze for future use.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Because they are here.

There's a blog I keep up with. It's a personal blog, like mine - no ads, no big readership. She hasn't written in several months, and I keep checking in to see if she's posted anything new.

This girl and I have kids about the same age, only my baby is alive, and hers is not.

I remember when she announced her second pregnancy on her blog. She was expecting a December baby, and I had just lost mine. She posted a picture of her little girl, who was about Will's age, with a sign saying she was going to be a big sister.

I was so sad for me, and so envious of her. I stopped checking in at her blog. I couldn't bring myself to follow along with her pregnancy when mine had been cut short.

Then I got pregnant with our February baby, and we moved, and life got busy, and I didn't check back in at her blog for almost a year.

The next time I clicked over there, I was nursing Barrett and looking for something to read. I couldn't believe what I saw.

She lost her December baby, too. She'd lost her at 37 weeks.

Her posts about the loss were heartbreaking. She wrote everything I'd imagine myself feeling. She would have had two little girls, just as I now had two little boys. Only now, instead, she was desperately hoping to become pregnant again, even after her body had already traveled almost the entire distance, with no child at the end.

Everything I felt, everything I grieved when I lost our December baby, pales in comparison to that grief.

I don't know if she's pregnant again yet. It's been about ten months since she lost her little one. But I think of this woman almost every day. When Barrett wakes up from his nap too early, when it seems I just put him down, or when he wakes in the night for the second time, I think of her. If life had given her the choice, she would have been getting up in the night, too. If life asked her: would you take your baby back, if you have to get up with her in the night? she would say YES. In a flicker of a heartbeat she would cry, YES! She would wake up with joy at the sound of her baby crying out for her in the night.

So in honor of her, in honor of all those women who bear the grief of a lost child, I will say thank you, Lord for all the challenging, inconvenient moments that my babies bring me. I will say, thank you that they are alive.

Potty training. It's becoming my Ixion's wheel.

We are NOT ready.

I'm giving up. For now.

Big boy underwear is going into a drawer. Instead, we're putting the cotton insert of his diaper outside the stay-dry pocket lining so he can feel the discomfort when he goes pee. We'll just start getting him associated with an uncomfortable, wet diaper.

Standard: "Will, do you want to try to go pee-pee for gummies?"


I've tried having him sit and sit and sit. I've done positive reinforcement and praise, praise, praise. The pee is NOT going into the potty and there's not much I can do about it.

And after this incident, he was even more scared to go #2, which led to a multi-day holdout and a finale full of sobs and heartache on September 14. Our attempts to keep him regular (prunes and apricots at every meal, apple juice, lots of water) are making him feel like he has to "try go potty" - late at night, in the middle of the night, at five in the morning - this kid, who's been sleeping great for months now, is waking up in the middle of the night again to "try go". But so far he hasn't gone, and now we're going on day three again. So poor mommy, who's also dealing with Barrett's new middle-of-the-night-snack phase, is up multiple times a night, and let me tell you - improvising a thousand voices for Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go super sucks at 2:30 AM. It's become my own personal patience training session, sitting with him on the toilet for thirty minutes at a time, my legs going numb, reading book after book in a patient, relaxing voice, feeling thrills of excitement every time I think it's coming and then flat disappointment when he doesn't go again. So spending roughly 1.5 hours every day and night trying to even get him to go #2 is making me decide I am not going to multiply that time by having him sit to go pee when he doesn't even want to.

A lot of moms have given me the advice to wait until he's ready, and then potty training will be quick and easy. Well, potty training has so far been slow and torturous, so I am concluding that, again,

we are not ready.

We'll try again in a couple months.

Barrett, 7 months

This picture captures you pretty perfectly.
At seven months (what??) you weigh about 19 pounds. You have two bottom teeth and you are drooling up a storm. You seem to have abandoned your ambition to crawl since you can pretty much get where you want to go by scooting around army style. You have recently, within the past 10 days or so, entered a more challenging phase than any you have presented since you were born.

You are waking up once a night most nights (and then very early in the morning, about 5:30-6), and your nap times during the day are short and infrequent. Really, you seem to prefer napping on my back in the carrier. You can put yourself to sleep in your bed without a problem - it's just staying asleep that's the issue. But you have been such a dream easy baby up to this point that I figure you have earned a little grace for your difficulty (which isn't even really all that difficult; although you are awake most of the day, you are happy, cheerful, cuddly, and sweet!). I will not stress about this. I remember Will going through this exact phase. I felt I'd worked so hard to earn a good long nap from him, and then not thirty minutes later he'd be up again. I was so frustrated!

But I will not get frustrated again. At one year, Will was napping up a storm and only getting up once a night. I couldn't believe how MUCH he was sleeping. And in only five short months, YOU will be a year old, and this phase will probably be over - but you won't be a baby anymore. So I've decided I won't wish away your babyhood.

You really are a dream baby. You are content to sit on anyone's lap. You'll even let Aunt Becca hold you her favorite way, slung in her arms as though you're relaxing in a hammock. But you also like to be on the GO! Your favorite thing to do is play on the floor, scooting around and exploring everything. When you see a scattering of toys beneath you, you want to twist yourself out of my arms. You'll also sit in your jumper or your command center, when you're in the mood. You really love to play.

Today you wanted to get into the dog food, and we had a bit of a training session. I said, "No, no," and pulled your hand away. Immediately you reached again and I calmly said, "No, no," and thumped you lightly on the back of the hand. When I began that with Will, he totally ignored it. You, on the other hand, burst into tears! You were sobbing! I picked you up and snuggled you. How could I not? And when you last bit me, I squealed and said, "Barrett, no!" You looked up at me, shocked, and then dissolved into sad cries. You seem to have a very tender heart already!

You are eating solid food three to four times a day, and I think I may need to feed you MORE. You've eaten everything I've offered so far, and you're quite the vacuum. You like to nurse only in the middle of the night or when Will is not around, because if he IS - well, why would you possibly want to turn your head away from the most entertaining thing in your universe? You love your brother and you laugh for him when you sometimes won't even laugh for me. (You like when he says, "Barrett!") You tolerate him putting toys on your head and back and laughing at how silly you look. I let him do this as long as he's being gentle, because I want you both to have a good time with each other. I really wonder what things will look like as you begin being more mobile and more interested in his things, and as Will, who's getting older and more imaginative in his play, may not appreciate you destroying his "gas station" or chewing on his lineup of trucks. So far, he has been (usually) very gracious with you.

One of my favorite things that you do, you big snuggler, is when you smush your face into my cheek and rub it back and forth. You do this when you're sleepy, just waking up or after nighttime feedings. Even when I'm very tired, and eager to get back to bed, I can't resist holding you for another minute after you're done nursing, because it feels so, so good when you snuggle into my face, stretch against my shoulder, and rest your head on me, asleep. It feels like you're my brand-new Barrett (only about three times the size).

If there's anything that you hate, it's lying on your back for a diaper change. Once you grab your feet, you're fine, but then I have to wrench them down to get your diaper on and you're very distraught. I think you would be the happiest in the world if I'd only let you be naked all the time. Still, no one is happier than you. You are going to be just like your daddy, I think. Always easy-going, hardly ever a bad mood in sight.

You seemed like my newborn baby for months and months. It's only now, with your recent disinterest in nursing, your ability to scoot around anywhere you want, and your big old bottom teeth, that I'm waking up to realize you're NOT a newborn anymore! And it seems just as I'm realizing this, you're going to be a year old before I know it. I LOVE you, you big chubby chunky meatball sub.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Today, Part II

I feel like Barrett needs a little attention on this blog. Let's admire how cute he was when I fed him his baby food.

He was really hungry tonight, which explains the bit of teariness and his rather crazed expression.

Between bites, if I don't move quickly enough, he gets impatient.

He's very keen on broccoli-potato. For the record, I used to find pictures of kids with food all over their faces gross, but now I'm a mom and I get it.

Suddenly, Will enters the room and all hunger vanishes.

Food? What food?
I suppose I'll eat if I can watch at the same time.
Barrett! Barrett?
Tonight, Brian took Will to Meijer to get a movie. Barrett was very tired, so he stayed behind for me to put him to bed.

He was quite slap-happy, rolling around on the bed in his diaper. He alternated between being mesmerized by the light fixture and rolling around on the bed, getting up on all fours and screeching, "Dada, dada!"

Believe it or not, after this he went RIGHT to sleep!

Today, Part I

Will's got a new favorite game.

He asks to play it almost every morning or every time he wakes up from a nap. This game frees me up to do NOTHING at all because it requires heavy Momma involvement. Still, I try to take the time to play if we've got a few minutes to spare.

(It is a CONSTANT struggle for me, as I imagine for many moms, to balance household productivity with taking the time to play with my kids. There are arguments in my head for working the day away and for playing the day away. Obviously, the day must involve both, but balancing the guilt associated with ignoring one of the two at every given moment is a struggle.)

When Will gets out of his crib, he says with glee, "Throw Doc, Red down stairs!" He scampers off to find his most unfortunate puppets, who up until this point in their lives have enjoyed nothing but conversation and hugs.

This is the game.

Momma hangs out at the bottom of the stairs, on the landing, with Barrett.

Will perches at the top.

I fling both puppets up to Will, who yells, "Off he comes!" (Not sure why he doesn't say, "HERE he comes," but I find this mistake adorable. He also has a tiny lisp, so it sounds like, "Off he comesth!") Of course, both puppets make wild and wacky cries of terror as they fly through the air, which Will finds very funny.

He then pitches them both back down, and laughs hysterically as they bounce down the steps.


Sometimes he intently watches their progress.


I witness the aftermath over and over again, as their broken bodies lie at my feet.


Occasionally, one of them will not make it all the way up or down. Will takes this very seriously, and he cautiously proceeds to retrieve the stranded puppet. 


The puppet, for a moment safely in his arms, goes flying once again.

Barrett's not quite sure what to make of all the noise - Will laughing, yelling, and mommy screaming "WHAHHH!" in both a male voice and a shrill female voice.

Thus the game continues! I fling the puppets up and they come tumbling back down.

Off he comes!
"Oh noooo!"
And here they come up again!
Good throw!
After a while, I say, "A few more times, will, and then we have to [fill in the blank]." He says, "A couple more!" Only he pronounces it mores, lisping the s at the end.
This is a fast-moving game. Which means, momma needs to move fast to get the puppets back up to Will or he starts shouting, "Get Red get Red get Red!"
Finally, I say, "Okay, Will. Doc and Red need a nap. One more time and then we're done."