Shameless Photo Post

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Shamless Photo Post

Here is baby Grace in a winter snowsuit given to me by my sister. I will try to periodically post a picture (mostly for the benefit of my Grandma) so you can see the evidence of my baby-girl-clothes-buying obsession.

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What a Wonderful World

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Luke, Grace and Noah. We wish you a Merry Christmas!
(Photograph by Nicole Reno)

To borrow a phrase from the made-up ending of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen, today I am “incandescently happy.” I am staring out the window at the trees which are still encrusted with sparkling ice from the ice storm Southeastern Michigan was blasted with the other day. Everything under the clear, blue sky is nestled under a thick blanket of snow. I woke up with Gracie on my pillow. She has a bit of a runny nose and slept next to me; my little, chubby teddy bear in fleecy elephant jammies.
I had so much energy, I was inspired to make a breakfast that took a little extra time; homemade hash browns, scrambled eggs and toast. Then I began putting things away from our Christmas celebration we hosted this weekend for Scott’s mom’s family while
Scott put on his snow gear, bundled up the boys and they are now (hopefully) sledding down a hill at their Papa’s house. Gracie is taking her morning nap. I am sitting down to write (something I didn’t think I’d have time to do with all of the holiday insanity).

At this moment, everything feels right. I have everything and more than I could have ever asked for: these three indescribably crazy, smart, beautiful, sweet children to keep me on my toes and a loving, frustrating, strong, thoughtful husband, and we are in the center of this circle of a colorful, warm, loving family.

So I wanted to take a brief moment to wish you and yours an “incandescently” Merry Christmas as well. I hope you find beauty in the imperfections of your day and see the good in everyone who comes your way.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

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You probably know that phrase, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I always thought it was a cynic who made it up. But it’s actually the people with cynical attitudes in this world who make it true. I always marvel at how sad human nature is when we can look at an act of selflessness or kindness and twist it around to suggest that the person “committing” said act is doing it for ulterior motives. And believe me, I am no angel in this regard. That is what got me thinking about this.

The other night, I went out with some friends for dinner. Scott was home with all three kids. I left him with quite a list of things to accomplish before their bed time at 8:00. He had to bathe the boys, the sink was stacked with dishes from dinner and there were at least two huge loads of laundry to be folded. Oh and of course he had to take care of the kids. I would be fibbing if I said I thought he wouldn’t be slightly overwhelmed. Scott is wonderful about not calling me when I am able to get out for an evening. He rarely, if ever, has called me when I am enjoying an evening with my friends because he knows that the occasions are few, even if I have left him with a gauntlet of tasks to be done.

So I got home the other night after a lovely dinner at the Wooden Spoon in Brighton with some of my favorite people on the planet. I was still relaxed and happy even when I saw that the dishes were merely soaking in the sink. The laundry was still not folded and Scott was sipping a rum and coke watching Duck Dynasty on the couch. I think my tipping point was when I asked him if he fed Grace a bottle…

He said, “Yeah. I gave her her a five-ounce bottle of breast milk from the freezer.”

Let me re-phrase that the way I heard it: He gave her a precious bottle of five ounces of liquid-gold that I had pumped one morning after Grace had actually slept through the entire night for the second time since her birth. Five whole ounces, nearly impossible to replace now that she is eating solid food and my milk supply has depleted so significantly, that I am lucky to be able to pump two ounces after a four hour gap in her feedings. He gave away a five-ounce opportunity for me to get more than two-hours out of the house without the kids. That five ounces may have been enough for me to buy an entire afternoon away from home during the Christmas sales without a diaper bag, a stroller, a mountain of snacks and three children.

I went from relaxed to blood pressure spiking through the roof almost instantly. I was so angry that a poetic string of obscenities poured out of my mouth basically questioning, “Why couldn’t you just pick up the [expletive-expletive] phone and ask me how much to give her? Do you even understand what you did? Why can’t you just call? Oh, was it to shut her up so you could throwback a drink and watch ‘Duck Dynasty,?” etc. etc. etc.

Poor Scott. He stared at me, puzzled with his rum and coke fizzing in the sudden silence, the room aglow with the faces of four bearded red-necks, now muted so that I could have my outburst regarding his “incompetence as a father” for simply feeding his daughter too much milk.

I stormed off to get ready for bed, my anger slowly evaporating and leaving behind a sticky film of guilt. The worst part was he didn’t actually do anything wrong. I knew why he hadn’t called. He was trying not to bother me. He figured Grace would sleep through the night if she had more milk and he knew I had been dying for a good night’s sleep. I had been a nasty, wound-too-tight, sassy, and well, just plain bitchy wife.

So then I started to try to rationalize my reaction. Five ounces is so difficult to get now! He has no idea. Breast-feeding is totally on me. No one else understands how it works. That helped me get to sleep that night before I could let him off the hook by apologizing to him.

But in the morning, I felt worse. He was quiet with me and barely speaking to me. And I couldn’t say I blamed him. I had been completely out of line. I said I was sorry but to please call me next time to ask me how much milk to give Grace if I wasn’t home. Still not much of an apology and I knew it.

Then I packed up all three kids later that morning and went to Whole Foods (thirty-five minutes away) and bought lunch for Scott and brought it up to his work and came home and made an even nicer dinner for him. I felt better and I think he did too after that.
Anyway, I am telling you this story because I can think of so many instances where people have demonstrated true acts of kindness and love and have been accused of doing them for selfish reasons or ulterior motives.

Why do we do this? It’s not a bad thing that people want to do kind things for us. Many selfless things done for others aren’t on the recipient’s terms because the person doing them doesn’t want the praise or recognition. But not only do we choose to be ungrateful, we have the audacity to be bitter about the part that wasn’t done the way we wanted it. We even go as far as accusing the benefactor of doing it for a selfish reason as a way to absolve our own selfish ingratitude.

It would be like a family on Extreme Home Makeover getting upset with Ty Pennington and his team for building their house using vinyl siding because they didn’t like vinyl siding and then saying that Ty’s team only built it with vinyl siding because it was a cheaper material to use than bricks. I don’t think this ever actually happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I heard that it had.

I thought this was a timely concept to write about because very often this time of year, we see beautiful examples of love from those who love us and care about us. Granted, it may be an ugly sweater or a bottle of lotion we absolutely hate the fragrance of, but maybe we can try to push our selfishness aside and just recognize the heart that went into the gift and love that part instead.

 

Movies with My Munchkins

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My flash blinded the poor kid every time I tried to snap a picture. His eyes were better adjusted to the dim lighting. But I had to get one!

Red and gold walls, large and vibrant marquees glowing in the lobby, and the buttery smell of popcorn greeted us as my two little munchkin men and I walked into the Great Lakes Crossing Movie Theater yesterday. Our mission was to see Frozen, the newest Disney movie. I am pretty sure I was more excited than they were to see it.

Noah was very concerned about getting Sour Patch Kids and a (normally forbidden) frozen soda and Luke was all about the popcorn. It’s his favorite food. Luke was also nervous. It was his first time at the movies and when I let go of his hand to open the door or to get my wallet out of my purse to pay for our tickets, he would scold me, “Mom! Hold my hand!”

We made it to the theater in plenty of time to use the restroom, find good seats (near an aisle in case of an emergency), eat most of our snacks, and watch lots of previews. Before each one, Noah would ask loudly, “Is this one Frozen?” I finally got smart after the fourth preview and told him that when the lights turn off, that’s how you know the movie is about to start.

I am not even exaggerating when I say that we watched nearly thirty minutes of previews! I rarely go to the movies but when I do, it seems like they add another ten minutes of previews. One was for this movie starring Angelina Jolie called “Malificent,” and was far too scary for kids who would have been old enough to see Frozen. Way to go Disney. So the boys kind of freaked out. The only good to come out of that creepy preview was that Luke insisted on sitting on my lap for the rest of the movie.

I held my little boys’ hands and we laughed at all the funny parts together. Noah was bouncing off of his chair with excitement at a few parts. Luke would snuggle sleepily into my arms since we had gone during his usual nap time. But I was in my glory. We only had to go out for one potty break which has always been the big deterrent for me taking them alone to the movies because if one person has to go, we all three have to go, but it worked out fine.

By the end of the movie, when the credits scrolled, I lifted Luke off my lap, gathered our coats and felt so happy. It was truly a perfect afternoon with my little boys. It was the first time since Grace has been born that I have gotten to spend time with them alone. I think even I was beginning to forget that I can be a fun mom!