kids

Things That Have Surprised Me About Being a Mom

Being a mom has been surprising. I was surprised when I found out I was going to be a mom (think: full-blown panic attack right there in the bathroom), I was surprised he turned out to be a boy (I had a girl name ready to go and I was SO STOKED about dressing her in glittery pink tutus), and I am consistently surprised by how much I freaking love this kid. Like, I knew you loved your children… but whoa. I would happily jump off a bridge headfirst for him. I would eat a tarantula for him if I had to (although I’m not sure why this scenario would ever be real). I don’t mind holding him when he cries, and I have no problem changing his nasty diapers. It is more love than any human should ever have to cope with.

Anyway, in the spirit of entertainment and education, here are six things that have surprised me about being a mom (in no particular order):

  1. Bodily fluids are no big deal. There’s poop on my arm? Oh well… I’ll wipe it onto my shorts. It’s not THAT much, and that’s what washing machines are for, right? Spit up on my shoulder? Who cares… since I only have 6 shirts that really fit me right now anyway, no way am I changing for something so trivial. Uncle Caleb had a conniption when Judah threw up on his shoulder one night, and I was genuinely bewildered over it being such a traumatic event for him. It dries. Last week we had a urine fountain and a spit-up geyser happening at the same time during a diaper change. I found it more funny than horrifying. Also, I can for the first time in my life say that I have picked another person’s nose. It was necessary.
  2. So. Much. Laundry. For someone who hates folding laundry more than almost anything else in the world (I hate ironing more. Ironing = throwing my clothes back into the dryer), choosing cloth diapers seems like a bad idea about 50 times a day… every time I look over and realize that I have another load of diapers to fold or stuff. Also, I’m not changing my own clothes that are wet with spit-up, but you better believe Judah’s getting changed, poor little guy. And there is the burp cloth that probably got soaked, and sometimes the sheet in his crib if he was laying in there when it happened (or, this morning, my pillowcase). This less-than-10-pound person creates about 3 times more laundry than two adults, and just because his clothes are tiny doesn’t make it any less work.
  3. The sleep deprivation isn’t as bad as people make it seem. “You’re pregnant? Well, say goodbye to sleep for the REST OF YOUR LIFE” is what everyone says when you make the big announcement. People like to crush your excitement and hopes and dreams with tales of woe about exhaustion and poop (but since we’ve established that poop is no big deal, it’s really just the exhaustion that’s a problem). But really. Maybe he’s an exceptionally good sleeper, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised about how un-foggy I’ve actually felt. Of course, my husband says that’s because normal people “newborn brain” is actually equivalent to Lacey’s “normal brain,” and he has a point. The other day I asked him to “please hand me the microwave” (I meant my nursing cover), and he didn’t even blink.
  4. I’m a much more strict parent than I thought I’d be. I thought I’d be a super chill, kick-you-out-of-the-nest-and-become-your-own-person mom, but I’m officially not. Judah and I had to have a stern conversation at 4:00 the other morning about how he’s not allowed to date until he’s 65, he’s not allowed to play football ever, and he may not pursue a career as an astronaut.
    032-Judah-2014
  5. The kid’s sleep is entertaining. Seriously. My standards of entertainment have changed drastically. The faces he makes while he’s dreaming… bestillmyheart. I don’t know what he’s dreaming about, but it must very quickly range from funny to sad, from happy to horrifying… and he shows it all on his face. And his pacifier somehow ends up on the floor, under his crib, 5 nights out of 7. How does this happen? We don’t know. But, just for the record, it’s really hard to get a pacifier out from under the crib WHILE holding the crying baby. I strongly recommend putting the baby down first, especially if you have short arms.
  6. Baby clothes are weird. I organized them all so neatly by size (a large accomplishment), only to find that size means almost nothing. Judah now supposedly wears size 0-3 months… but some of those clothes are already too small, some are still huge, some of his newborn clothes still fit, and some of his 3-6 months clothes fit too. It’s such a disaster for my already unorganized-yet-OCD mind. I want to write letters to all baby clothing manufacturers and request that they please have a meeting and create standard sizing. Dressing my child should not be stressful like blue jean shopping (seriously, if I’m a size 8 just let me be a size 8 everywhere. I’m often a size 8 in one store, a size 6 in another and a 14 in another. It’s like a confidence roller coaster). For real. Being a mom is so weird. And so awesome. And so stressful and cool.signature

What I Learned in Kindergarten.

I have gotten a true education in the last two weeks.

I was a substitute teacher’s aid in kindergarten… for two whole weeks. It’s been fun. It’s been hard. It’s been entertaining. And, as I said, educational.

I never went to kindergarten (and somehow, I still managed to get a decent score on my ACT). These two weeks have been my first real kindergarten experience. And boy, did I have a lot to learn.

The hot pink crayon is NOT the same thing as the red crayon. And if you try to pass it off as the same, you will be harshly scorned, and then shunned by all who witnessed the attempted deceit.

If a child has an unidentified red substance on any part of their body, the first thing you should ask is, “is that red marker, or blood?” If it is marker, you should ask, “what were you drawing on??” If it is blood, you should ask, “is that your blood, or someone else’s?”

Lollipops = currency.

If a child tells you a story about seeing a scary movie that makes them afraid to use the bathroom (because of all the spiders that are surely lurking there), immediately check their pants. If it is not too late, rush them to the bathroom and insist that they use it, no matter how scared they are.

If you tell five or six-year-old boys that they can draw “anything,”  the pictures are going to include someone getting arrested, injured, falling into a pit of “hot laba” (lava), or an epic battle (for example, Optimus Prime vs. an octopus).

A “capital E” and a “big E” are not the same thing. One is what you begin a sentence with, and one covers your entire writing page.

The longest pencil in the basket is the best one. It doesn’t matter if it’s so dull that you can’t write with it. This rule is void if there happens to be one blue pencil mixed in with the 17 black ones. Then, of course, the blue pencil is the best… even if it’s so short you can’t hold on to it.

If both the longest pencil and the blue pencil are already taken, it will take at least 10 minutes to sort through the rest of the pencils and find The. Perfect. One.
(three minutes later, it will lose it’s perfectness and the sorting has to be re-done).

If you consume any kind of candy, dessert, or soda, “sugar bugs” will get into your mouth. Then, your teeth will fall out and you will die. (this one surprised me a lot)

Don’t touch another man’s property. Don’t sit in another man’s chair. Don’t color on another man’s picture. Don’t eat another man’s snack. And for goodness, goodness sake, don’t put your math paper in another man’s mailbox.

If one paper sailboat is made, fourteen more must follow. Quickly. It doesn’t matter if there is only one person making them; that individual needs to turn into a full-sized boat-making factory immediately.

Snow was made to eat. And for creating giant hills to slide down. Those are the only uses for it.

Fire drills in Alaska are a bad choice.

Sometimes, I substitute teach at one of the Glennallen schools.
It’s an adventure.

Today, I was “Mrs. H,” the elementary librarian. But Mrs. H is so much more than that.
She tutors different groups of kids all over the school… a half hour working with six graders on their math (WHO thought THAT was a good idea for me?), a half hour working with second graders on their writing, half hour with first grade reading, etc.

Oh… and recess duty. Cold, snowy recess duty.

But the best part of the day today was when I had the kindergarteners.
There had been a rumor circulating that a fire drill was going to be held. I don’t know how the rumor got started, but I find it convenient, since it allowed all the kids (and teachers!) to keep their coats handy rather than in their lockers in anticipation of the bell. So, when the kindergarteners came tromping into “my” library ready to read a story, I wasn’t surprised when they all wore their snow boots and had big coats slung over their shoulders (or heads, or legs, or their neighbor’s head or legs…). Fortunately, the teachers had mercy on me (a poor, inexperienced substitute teacher!) and split the kids in half… I had six kids in the first group, and five in the second.

We tried to read a book about wind. “When the Wind Blows,” it’s called. And it’s supposed to be an interesting book, but it just couldn’t capture their attention.

“Windmills are big machines that spin around and around and make electricity,” I read.
“One time our electricity went out, and my little brother went nuts!” a five-year-old announced. “He had a heart attack!”
This was hilarious to the rest of the kids.
“That’s nice,” I said, glad we were at least, somewhat, on the same subject. I pressed on.
“What makes flags fly? The wind. What makes our kites fly?”
“He stole my seat!” said someone, pointing accusingly.
“I like her seat better,” was the only defense.
“That was a bad choice,” nodded an onlooker knowingly.
“So, sometimes the wind blows the snow, and it makes a blizzard!” I offered.

“Do you know what my name is?” asked one little girl.
“No, what?”
“Veronica. It has a V in it.”
“That’s nice.”
“My name doesn’t have a V in it!” someone announced.
“Mine does.”
“No it doesn’t.”
“Yes it does!”
“No more arguing, kids,” I told them.
“Yes, arguing is a bad choice!” said Veronica.
“Okay, guys, let’s talk about the wind!” I suggested. “What happens when we stand on the beach and the wind is blowing the sand against our legs?”
“I’ve never been to a beach,” one little guy stated mournfully.
“Me, either,” said someone else. A chorus of “me, eithers” followed.

You poor children, I thought, but out loud I said, “Well, it stings your legs. That’s what happens.”
A couple of kids across the table from me were whispering, but I let it go.
“Sometimes the wind blows sand against rocks, and it makes the rocks smooth and pretty,” I told them.
“JOHNNY SAID BUTT!” hollered one of the whispering kids. The other one looked at me guiltily.
“That was a bad choice,” one of the kids who’s name didn’t have a V in it told Johnny.
“Johnny, let’s not say words like that. Let’s talk about wind.”

Two pages later I gave up and broke out the crayons and coloring paper. Everyone was happier.

The second group came tripping into the room, still dragging their huge coats along with them (I swear, some of these kindergarteners looked like they were borrowing a coat that belonged to their dad.) They “settled” into their seats (or some version of settling) as I launched into my story about the wind. These kids listened a little better… or at least, they talked less.

But once again the crayons came out, and once again the kids were happier coloring than learning about what a hurricane was.
“I think I’m done,” announced one cute little guy, holding up a very plain looking Thanksgiving turkey.
“Hmm, why don’t you add some color to it?” I asked him.
“Okay!” he cheerfully agreed. He searched the table until he found just the right shade of blue, added a bit of it to the turkey’s beak, then dropped the crayon on the table.
“Okay, NOW I think I’m done!” he said.
“Welll…. I think you could add five more colors to it.”
“Okay!” He was nothing if not agreeable. “ONE…” he chose a pink crayon and scribbled with it a bit. “TWO…” some green. “THREE…” some yellow. “FFF…FF…- what number is this?”
“I think it’s four.”
“Yes. FOUR…”
Two colors later, he definitely thought he was done.
“Good job, buddy,” I told him. “Now why don’t you write your name on the t-”

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

All six of us almost fell out of our seats.
“PUT ON YOUR COATS!” I tried to tell them over the alarm, leaping for my own coat. They quickly lined up at the door, and as they trotted past I tried to help them get adjusted. Their coats were everywhere… arms in the wrong holes, inside out… one coat was on upside down. They looked hilarious.
NO, I told myself, You can not let the giggles get in the way of getting kindergartners out during a fire drill.
Since the priority was getting outside, though, I hustled them to the door (where, fortunately, their teacher met me) and THEN helped them zip and button and snap themselves into some semblance of warmth.

They lined up outside, hopping back and forth to keep warm.
Apparently, someone hadn’t had enough excitement, though…
“IT’S A REAL FIRE!” they announced.
A panic set into the entire kindergarten class at large.
“NO, IT’S NOT!” their teacher broke in. “It’s just a drill!”
“WE COULD HAVE BURNED!”
“No, we couldn’t have!”
“Johnny said poop!”

Yay, kids!

I should start carrying dog bones in my purse.

I have spent the entire summer not blogging. Not because nothing has happened to me, but rather because too much has happened to me. Falling into a pile of tedious wedding planning and overwhelming traveling did nothing to spark my creativity, but rather mushed it down into a pile of boringness that has sat inside of me for a couple of months.

I’ve been waiting for that One Thing, that super exciting, very entertaining moment to happen to me that I would know instantly was blog-worthy. And it happened tonight: I, Lacey Danielle Hochstetler, became a Mama Bear.

To understand the story, you have to understand the setting and characters. So, I present you with the facts:

The Setting: For the last two nights I have been helping provide childcare at a local church while they have revival. Another girl, Diana, has been my partner.

The Characters:

Topanga: an 8-year-old little girl who is already very confident in her mothering skills. She declared herself one of the babysitters, and busied herself most of the time with babysitter-ish duties, like dispensing Goldfish crackers and juice.

Peyton: Topanga’s sister. A 7-year-old little girl with equally strong desires to be a little mother; prefers to hold the tiny baby in the room and “rock her to sleep” (which, in this case, could translate to “viciously bounce her up and down until Lacey interferes).

Rave: the third member of this sibling trio. A rambunctious 4-year-old boy who likes to yell, crash toy cars into things, and not listen to Lacey.

Jude: approximately three years old; likes to keep to himself. Doesn’t play much with the other kids, but prefers to busy himself with assembling the Noah’s Ark set in the corner of the room.

Christian: approximately one year old. Walks, but still in the “toddling” stage. The most chill, content kid I’ve ever seen. Deals with Topanga’s and Peyton’s mothering attempts like a pro.

Miriam: Jude’s little sister… still a baby in arms who likes to spit up a LOT.

It was Wednesday night, and the last night of revivals. The kids were really restless and really wanted to play outside. So, Diana stayed inside to make baby noises and continually wipe spit off of Miriam while the rest of us made our way to the great outdoors (Christian in a walker, with Topanga proudly pushing him).

Upon exiting the building, Jude & Rave made their way quickly across the small field that was separating us from the playground. Not wanting to desert Christian for fear he would be dumped out of the stroller amidst the efforts to push it across so much grass, I lagged behind with the girls. We were not halfway across the field when a slice of light cut through the sky.

“Lightening!” yelled Topanga.
“Yes,” I said, looking around and realizing that we were standing in the middle of a field with nothing but metal playground equipment nearby. I don’t know much about lightening behavior, but I knew enough to feel uncomfortable. The feeling was only reinforced when I made the sudden discovery that Rave was TERRIFIED of lightening. He came flying back across the field, eyes wide and arms flailing, shrieking incomprehensibly and pointing to the sky.  I made the announcement that we were going BACK inside and then sprinted to the playground to peel Jude off of the slide. His resistance was one of the first times he had ever bothered to communicate with me, but just before I was able to feel glad that he was speaking, Topanga yelled.

“DOG!” I heard her scream.
I spun around. She wasn’t kidding.
Standing nearby, watching us, was a REALLY BIG DOG.
It was at least as tall as my shoulders, pure white, with tall, pointy ears. Now that I consider it, the ears should have clued me in that it was a Great Dane, but since Topanga was screaming that it was a bulldog, my mind accepted that as a good suggestion and ran with it.

I froze and surveyed the animal, trying to decide if it was a good guy or bad guy. Was it simply a nice dog taking an evening stroll who stopped to watch the odd looking family on the playground? Or was it a vicious hunter looking for dinner, stopping to watch it’s six courses trip around in a field trying to escape? I quickly decided that my best course of action was to assume the worst. So, I did what any cool, collected, professional babysitter would do. I turned to the kids and screamed, “RUN!”

Topanga took off, pushing the stroller as fast as she could through the grass.
Christian sat in the stroller, calm and unblinking, as he got the ride of a lifetime.
Tears began to squirt out of Peyton’s eyes, and she ran towards me instead of the church.
Rave picked a handful of grass and threw it towards the dog.
“Don’t do that!” I told him. “You could make it mad!” Then, turning to Peyton, “Run to the CHURCH! Not to ME!”
The poor, terrified girl started running in circles.

It suddenly registered that Jude was behind me. Knowing that Jude was to that dog as a potato chip is to Chuck Norris, I backtracked and ran to get him. Realizing that he was clueless about what was happening, I tried to keep my tone excited and upbeat.
“Jude, let’s run!” I said, offering him my hand.
He looked at my hand disgustedly and took off at full speed, determined to avoid the awful fate of holding my hand. I didn’t care WHY he was running, just that he WAS running, so I followed.

At that moment, the dog took off running, too. He ran at an angle, towards the mayhem that was us, but cutting us off from the church at the same time. Peyton’s tears squirted harder, and she began shrieking things about teeth and dying, while Rave froze in place and Topanga almost tipped the stroller over in her panic. Christian didn’t even blink.
At that moment, more adrenaline rushed through me at once than I have experienced in a VERY long time. I think I MAY have felt something similar, once, when I was driving on icy roads in Kentucky and lost control for a couple seconds.

With all the ferocity of a mama bear watching her cubs getting chased by a lion, I clenched my fists and screamed at the animal: “NOOOOO!”
It was loud enough, I’m sure people in Texas looked around to see what the fuss was about.
The dog stopped short and looked at me indignantly, then returned to his original spot where he coolly watched the rest of the drama play out.
Peyton and Rave closed the gap between them and the church in about half a second. Peyton wrenched the door open and took off down the hall, still screaming, with Rave hot on her heels. Jude clambered in behind them. Topanga had run the stroller into a hole in the ground, and was obviously torn between a). throwing her body over Christian’s to courageously protect him, and b). running away at full speed, leaving Christian as an appetizer.

I didn’t give her time to decide. I swooped in and picked up the whole stroller, kid and all, and yelled for Topanga to get inside. She didn’t argue. I ran awkwardly for the building, trying to watch over my shoulder since I was uncomfortable with turning my back on the dog. Christian seemed only mildly interested at his sudden change in altitude.

We finally made it to the door, and I practically threw the stroller inside and followed quickly, slamming the door behind me.

The entire group rolled into the door of our classroom, a mix of tears and moaning and explaining to Diana what had happened.
The sudden decrease in adrenaline and panic left my body quite confused, and I dealt with it the way I often deal with stressful situations; I leaned against the doorframe and burst into laughter. The kids looked at me like I was loony. Diana wiped spit off of Miriam’s face and asked what on earth happened.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the One Thing that has occurred to me this summer that has sparked a blog. Aren’t you glad?