Tuesday, March 26, 2013

When a Blessing Surprises You

Nights have been tough around here lately.  I am still trying to find my footing when it comes to getting both of my children to bed at night.  Preston is practically sleeping though the night at this point, waking anywhere between 3-5am for his feeding and then going back to sleep until 7:30ish.  It's AWESOME and I am NOT COMPLAINING!  I still can't believe he is already doing so well!!  The only problem is that he is not going to bed until about 9:30pm and he is a fussy little man at night, to say the least!  I know it's just a phase, but he needs to be held, rocked, and nursed pretty much non-stop from 7pm until he finally passes out.  This does not lend well to completing Colin's bedtime routine.  It works on the nights that Jer is home because I can hand Preston off to him while I take care of Colin.  (Although it should be noted that poor Dad ends up holding a screaming baby the whole time until I get back!)  SO, it's really tough when Jer is working at night and Preston doesn't want to cooperate with me.  In case you haven't figured it out - Colin requires MOM to lay with him while he falls asleep...and I love that!

Tonight was just that kind of night and Preston was extra fussy, no doubt due to something I ate today.  I finally gave up and just had Colin come get in my bed to fall asleep with me while I nursed Mr. Grumpy Pants.  Poor Preston had been crying for a long time on and off and my back was aching from walking around with him and I was just plain exhausted from handling everything myself.  In fact, I was feeling decidedly like Mrs. Grumpy Pants.  I turned all the lights out and Colin got in bed bedside me while I continued to nurse.  He curled up in a ball and tucked himself as close to me as he possibly could with his head nuzzled literally in my hip while I sat indian style nursing Preston.  It was in that moment that both of my boys fell asleep and all of a sudden, like a giant wave crashing over me, I realized that I was in the middle of a blessing.  I had both of my precious baby boys snuggled as close to me as humanly possible and their warm little bodies had finally found the peace to fall asleep while holding on to me.  In the still and quiet of the dark, I bowed my head and thanked God for my precious angels.  I stayed sitting like that for long moments after they were both asleep and let myself take it in and memorize the feeling of them, laying with me, nestled with me, loving me.  These two boys, with their soft skin and chubby cheeks and sweaty limbs, are one day going to be grown up.  I won't have the chance to watch their eyelashes laying in perfect crescents on their pink skin.  I won't have Colin's skinny little boy legs curled around me or Preston's plump little baby fist resting on my chest.  These moments are going to end and one day.  These "bad" nights when I can't get everything right are going to slide right past me and if I am not careful, I will forget to notice what a blessing they all are.  Because - let's face it - right now, they are still my babies.  And right now, they need me more than anyone else.  And right now, THAT is all that matters!

Now, if you will excuse me, I have to figure out how to fit in my bedroom with Colin, two cats and a dog.  And a baby in his sleeper.  It looks like Daddy gets the extra bedroom when he gets home.  :-)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Life with Colin

Today is Tuesday and Colin is at school.  Before he left today, we had the following conversation. 

Me:  Colin, I need to clean the house today.
Colin:  You can't clean up my office.  YOU. CAN'T.
Me:  I have to, honey.  I need to vacuum. 
Colin:  Fine.  But I will have to put it all back.  And make sure you leave everything together. 
Me:  I also have to mop the kitchen floor.
Colin:  NO!  You want to take apart my ship, too??  NO!

You see, my son is brilliant.  And he doesn't play like most kids.  And my house doesn't look like most houses.  He is lucky that I am his mom.  :-)  Colin has been officially diagnosed with something called PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disorder), which is an autism spectrum disorder.  He's still young and I have a feeling that his diagnosis will probably change down the line to one new title or another, but the bottom line is that my boy is EXTRA SPECIAL and EXTRA AMAZING and SUPER BRILLIANT.  I would not change a single thing about him.  Well, I suppose that's not completely true.  He also has that wickedly horrible anxiety disorder that I would take away if I possibly could.  And as a mom, it's kind of my job to want to take away every single thing that could ever hurt him.  So, in that sense, I would change him if I could.  But I would never want a different little man...Colin is COLIN and I honestly feel that God gave him to me on purpose as a present.  I am suited to be his mother and we fit together perfectly.  He makes my life full and hysterical and amazing and VERY interesting.  And everyone knows that I don't like to be bored!  :-)

So, when Colin plays, he creates elaborate "set-ups".  That's what he calls them...my set-ups.  And he doesn't play with anything the way it was marketed to be played with.  Ever.  He also likes to turn the most random things around the house into part of his plan.  Please see Exhibit A, which is the afore mentioned "office":  

The picture above used to be my entryway.  Emphasis on "used to".  Now it is Colin's "office", which includes, but is not limited to, a plastic workbench with super hero cape, Lego table, elaborate Lego office set-up, puppet theatre, end table, entry table, diaper boxes used as storage, and toy bins that normally go elsewhere.  It is clearly imperative that no one try to enter my house through the front door. 

Next on the list is his "ship" that is set up on my kitchen floor.  It is comprised of a Rescue Bot Police Station, canned goods from the pantry, a ton of old pacifiers, and squishy lizards and frogs.  I was informed that this is actually the Death Star from Star Wars and the pacifiers are Storm Troopers and the squishy guys are the Rebel Troopers.  Obviously.  :-)

The third set-up currently in play:  War Zone set up in our extra bedroom.  This one is so full of stuff that I can't name it all.  The bottom line is that there is a major war going on here and it involves a lot forces from a lot of armies.  Do you see the huge dollhouse up against the wall?  You might think it's odd that my son requested a large dollhouse for Christmas this year, but you would be wrong.  That has actually never been a "dollhouse".  At the moment, it is a military hospital for injured warriors.  So there.  :-)  The bad news for me?  Due to the fact that we have family coming to stay with us next weekend, so I am going to have the joyous task of convincing Colin that his battle scene has to go.

There is actually more to see around the house, his playroom (that is also Preston's room) has a huge scene where LOTS of vehicles were involved in a huge flood and had to be evacuated. By "evacuated", I mean piles and piles of toy vehicles moved to one side of the room and completely blocking the doorway. At least Preston doesn't sleep in there yet. :-)

I can honestly say that none of this bothers me. It really and truly doesn't. I think it is super awesome that Colin turns the most mundane household objects into toys and actual toys into something else that nobody ever thought of. I love that he sees nothing at face value and uses his mind to create distant lands and exciting adventures with cat food cans, for heavens sake! I just love him. I love him exactly the way he is. I would never want to somehow block his imagination because I prefer my house to be neater. I can't imagine stopping him from building a castle out of cans just because of something silly like pantry items not being toys. SURE they can be toys!!! I had just never thought of it before! His favorite place to go right now for a treat is Dollar Tree - the store where everything is $1. I will give him $10 and he will carefully go through the store and pick out all kinds of things for his set-ups. Last Saturday, he picked out a long rubber cabinet liner to use as a runway for airplanes. And office supplies. And cup holders. I can't even remember what those were for. But I guarantee you it was something cool.

I want Colin to look back on his childhood as being wonderful, despite his struggles. I want him to remember that we supported every single thing that made him Colin. I want our house to be where he gets to be himself and it's always okay. I want him to know that he is brilliant and amazing and that I love everything that he comes up with, even if it makes my house look a bit on the cluttered side. It just doesn't matter. HE MATTERS.

But seriously...call me before you come over, okay? I really need to clear out the entry way first.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Getting Back on the Blog Wagon...

Oh, hey there!  It's St. Patrick's Day.  I have two children.  Things have changed around here.  You would think I would have written about it.  Or not.  :-)

I truly can't believe that Preston has been here for almost 3 months.  I really did want to blog about my different universe, but it is so hard to find time to sit down and collect my thoughts while taking care of a newborn and Colin Shaffer.  And trying to shower on occasion.  And sometimes sleep.  Or vacuum.  Anyway...

What I HAVE been doing plenty of is posting on Facebook.  Just about the only time I can find is the two seconds it takes to post a picture and caption to my wall.  I honestly can't even find time to return an email these days, but I have been posting little pictures and notes to my wall in the hopes that family and friends will find that to be update enough on our lives.  It is amazing how quickly the days get away from me now!  If there is ever a way to print and save Facebook walls from over the years, it would make a great baby book for Preston.  I was able to blog so much when Colin was a baby and I was home with him, but it's a different ballpark all together with two kiddos.  I am determined to post, however, because I love looking back at Colin's early days and I insist that Preston will have the same thing!  You hear me, future self?  You will blog!  (shakes fist at the sky and realizes that she needs more sleep) 

So, there is much to say regarding the new life in our house - far more than I can tackle in a single post or two.  I am going to attempt to devote my time over the next few weeks to getting things written down.  Our whole world has changed so much!!  Preston is the fattest, most adorable little bear cub in the universe.  He is a giant rolly polly baby and we are all so in love with him.  It is VERY hard to believe that in 11 short weeks, we have gone from this guy:

to THIS guy!

He has bright blue eyes right now, which I am certain will change.  However, they are so blue at the moment, so I am trying to take as many pictures as I can so that I can remember them!  He is very vocal and has no problem letting you loudly know when he is tired, hungry, wet or HUNGRY.  Did I say hungry yet?  This kiddo has been eating non-stop since he got here.  I am blessed to still be a stay at home mommy and Preston is surely reaping the rewards already.  I went back to work after 12 weeks with Colin, albeit for only 3 months, but I had to wean him in order to go back.  Once he went to the bottle, he didn't look back and quickly stopped breastfeeding.  He was on a pumped milk and formula combo from that point on.  Preston doesn't have that problem and is still 100% breastfed with no signs of stopping!  He was born at 7lbs, 5oz and dropped down to 6lbs, 12 oz at his one week appointment.  We went back a week later to do a weight check, making sure that he went back up to his birth weight by the two week mark.  He gained a whole pound in that one week, so we were happy and went on our way.  At his one month appointment, a mere 3 weeks later, he was up to more than 11 pounds and at his 2 month check, more than 13 pounds!!  He is up to the 95% for weight and he is the heaviest little sack of potatoes you ever saw!  :-)  He is literally as round as he is tall!  We just can't get enough of him. 

As far as sleep, he woke up every hour to eat for the first 2 months.  It was brutal, as it always is.  The good news is that right around the 2 month mark, a switch flipped and he started sleeping longer.  The switch actually never went off for Colin - it's easy to look back at my old posts and remember how little Colin ever slept.  It was a 2 year battle to get Colin to sleep through the night, so to have my 2 month old start showing signs of better sleep was a miracle.  As of right now, he is waking up somewhere between 2-3am and then 5-6am.  That is HEAVEN to this mama.  Colin was 18 months old before that happened.  Needless to say, I am thrilled to be getting more sleep.  It was one thing to be so exhausted when I had just one baby to take care of, but it's another thing entirely to have two children that need you.  There is NO sleeping when the baby sleeps and my Colin needs me.  I don't want him to have a mom at half speed!  It's wonderful that I am starting to feel more rested.  The next step is to move Preston to his own room, but I am petrified nervous to make the switch...I hate to mess with a good thing!  Jer's family from PA are coming down for Easter weekend, so I think maybe I will wait and make the move after they leave.  If I get my courage up.  :-) 

As far as the state of Chalna...I think I am doing pretty good, all things considered.  The first two months as a mother of two have already taught me a lot of lessons.  Preston is forced to be the laid back baby, that's for sure.  He naps where he can, which is frequently in the car, or the grocery store cart, or the swing in my bedroom, or just his car seat where he fell asleep on the way home from some errand or another.  Gone are the days of me staying home to accommodate the all-important nap schedule of an infant.  Colin has a very elaborate night time routine that requires me to lay down with him to fall asleep.  He has been having some extra trouble with his anxiety as of late (which is for another post) and I have learned that it is impossible to be in two places at the same time.  I know that should be obvious, but still.  ;-)  Dad has gotten to be in charge of Preston at bedtime while I take care of Colin, but he is often at work during the bedtime routine.  In just the last week, I have managed to put together a crazy plan that allows me to complete Colin's bedtime ritual while taking care of Preston at the same time.  It has taken work and patience, but I think my Super Mom cape is still working!  My house is a total wreck, but I have decided not to let it bother me.  I know there is time enough to clean up once things aren't so chaotic.  Preston is definitely a baby that needs to be held basically whenever he is awake, so I have a baby on me most of the time.  It doesn't lend to a lot of cleaning and I refuse to be a lunatic about it.  Don't even think about looking at my closet right now...just a warning.  I am also incredibly FAT at the moment.  Nope, I do not exaggerate in the least.  I went to the doctor a couple of days ago and I weigh just as much as I did the week after I had Preston.  LOVELY.  And keeping in mind that I gained 60 lbs this pregnancy...mama is FAT.  No other word for it.  :-)  My body clearly thinks it needs to hang on to every ounce of fat in order to produce enough milk for my giant baby bear.  This is another thing that I am forcing myself not to worry about.  I won't lie...this one is the hardest to deal with.  I can't wear a single thing in my closet with the exception of maternity clothes.  I don't even recognize myself when I pass by a mirror.  But I am reminding myself that Preston is my last baby and this is the last time that I will be able to spend every free second holding chubby baby goodness.  I love breastfeeding him and I am so happy that he is such a great nurser.  The only way for me to lose weight is to drop my calorie intake way down and I refuse to have my milk supply affected at the moment.  The best I can do is continue to eat healthy food and take Preston for as many walks as I can and deal with being fat and happy.  So there!  Take that, Gisele!  (why OH why couldn't I get just a little bit of the skinny gene?!) 

So, there is an update to get the party started.  I am getting a bit more sleep, my hair is incredibly thick and healthy (I could seriously be a hair model right now), and I weigh a freaking ton.  BUT, I am also getting to spend all my time with the two most beautiful boys in the whole world and they are mine!!!  Coming up next, I will write all about the joy that is TWO BROTHERS!!!  :-)

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Your last moment in my BIG belly - hospital bound!

Dear Preston,
We are in the last days of winter, 2013.  Next Wednesday, it will officially be Spring.  This means that the season that brought us YOU is almost over.  I waited an ETERNITY for the winter of Preston Dean Shaffer.  My Christmas angel.  My second son.  My baby.  I almost thought you would never truly be here...in fact, I worried for your entire pregnancy.  I have never wanted anything quite so much.  You are the rest of our family and we all just needed you to BE. HERE. 
The morning of December 21st dawned early and COLD.  I was very happy about that because you were my Christmas baby, after all, and I needed swirling snow and hot cider and Christmas lights and it just needed to be wintry!  If you are old enough to read this, you know me very well and are not the least bit surprised by my perfectly imagined birth day.  Anyway, we went to Baylor Grapevine before the sun came up, just as we had with your brother.  I was sent back to triage and set up with my IV and fluids and everything went just as it had before.  Have I mentioned how nice it was the second time around?  I wasn't stressed, I knew the drill and I was just happy.  I had already taken care of everything for Christmas and we were FINALLY at the hospital and ready to meet you!!  We watched the news on the television above our heads and watched the clock ticking toward 8:00am, which was my scheduled c-section time.  Dr. White arrived, looking fit and dapper as always, and told me that the OR was running a bit behind schedule, but I would be ready to go soon.  It was about 8:30 when they finally took me back for surgery.  My time in surgery was oddly funny and endearing this time around...I was very suddenly quite nervous when the anesthesiologist arrived and all the hustling around began.  He was a great big bear of a man and he was busily talking about his family from Wisconsin coming in for Christmas and how he wanted them to stop on the way and bring him Runza sandwiches. I happened to work previously with several companies from Wisconsin and had to pipe in that I knew about the famous Runza sandwiches.  All the while, as I am getting my spinal and being laid down and prepped, the whole room is talking about Christmas, sandwiches and whose family was coming and when.  I remember someone talking about having family showing up that afternoon and she hoped her kids were at home cleaning the house.  Now, I am no fool.  I was well aware that all this mindless chatter, which literally did not cease for a second, was meant to keep me calm and focused away from what was happening.  Which I thought was incredibly sweet and I will always remember it.  Once they let Dad back in the room, I knew it was really time.  The surgery was mercifully quick and while I admit to feeling a bit sicker this time while things were going on, it wasn't too bad.  And then, suddenly, with the loudest cry that I have EVER heard, you were here.  YOU!!  WERE!!  HERE!!  Dr. White held you over to me and I saw you screaming and I have never in my life felt such relief and joy and happiness at once.  There are no words to explain the feeling of seeing your healthy child for the first time.  It is honestly as though God opened the heavens and shined his light into my soul.  I started laughing and crying at the same time.  It was a whirlwind after that.  Your father decided to watch the remainder of the surgery on the other side of the curtain standing beside Dr. White.  Of course he did.  We are old friends with my sweet doctor now and he knew Dad was into watching and actually invited him over.  How he remains to treat me normally after seeing literally all of my internal organs is beyond me.  :-) 

After the surgery, I spent a long time in post op with you.  As it turns out, every pregnant woman in the area was trying to have their babies before Christmas and the place was PACKED.  It was 2pm before I even got a room!!  So we spent all morning and part of the afternoon in post op.  They finally decided to let us bring family back there, so your grandparents and Colin all got to meet you while crammed into the little shared area where they wheel you after surgery.  It was ridiculous and funny and I couldn't care less because YOU! WERE! HERE

 You were so tiny at 7lbs, 5 oz.  You were a whole pound smaller than your brother was!  And you were just the most precious little thing!!  Preston, you were just absolute perfection personified.  You are without a doubt the most wonderful Christmas present I have ever or will ever receive.  You are truly our gift from God.

Colin was over the moon when he finally got to meet you.  He had been waiting so patiently for so long...almost every night for years he would pray to God for a baby brother.  He would ask me tough questions that broke my heart into a thousand pieces.  "Mom, maybe God doesn't think I would be a good big brother.  Is that why we don't have a baby?"  Oh, Preston...he wanted you so badly and I just knew that you were coming.  Down deep inside, I just knew.  Colin was in love the moment he met you.  I am so glad that you have each other.  It does my soul good to know that when I leave this earth, I will leave you both together.  (When I am very VERY old, mind you!) You will always have each other.  Lord knows that you will drive each other crazy, but I know that you will love each other deeply and forever. 

So, my sweet second son, baby of our house, and final member of our little family - now YOU! ARE!HERE!  And we get to start our lives together, just the four of us, the way we were meant to be.  I am already a little wistful about how much time has gone by...you will be three whole months old next week...but I am excited to head into your first Spring and all the rest of our seasons together.  I don't know how old you are right now as you read this post.  Maybe a teenager?  A grown-up?  It's hard to even imagine you any bigger than the 14 pound chubby bear that is snoring in the sleeper beside my bed as I type these words.  But then again, it was only days ago that I couldn't imagine you any bigger than 7 lbs.  I'm going to always want to freeze you in time, at every stage, because I always think that it can't get any better and you can't get any more amazing.  And then you do.  I love you so much, little bear.  FOREVER! 

All My Love, Mom
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