My Monday Mother’s Day :)

by Kristi Van Dyk in

My husband took me out to dinner; my toddler waddled into the living room on Sunday morning with a new picture frame and a collage of photos that Daddy made. As soon as she handed it to me, she named every person in the pictures and then gave Mommy's face a big kiss. It melted my heart because it was so unprompted. I have a sweet year 1 album of my precious child that my mom made for me ... in general, I was quite spoiled on Mother's Day. This morning, though, on Monday, when everything has returned to the routine: the dishwasher is running, there are heaps of clothes in the washer and the dryer... this is when my baby girl decided she wanted to express her thoughts to Mommy. My little squiggle squirm doesn't give snuggles without prompting; she's too busy doing everything. She doesn't love being carried or held really, ever. Now that walking is so effortless, she wants to do it all of the time. This morning, I don't know if it's the overtiredness that comes from two family get togethers, or shortened naps and night time teething that made her snuggly, but, whatever the case Mommy got all kinds of love this morning ...

It began after breakfast when she wanted to sit in the rocker with her blanket on her lap and watch "tee-tee." She usually does this, with her head in my lap for less than 5 minutes before wandering off to get something to eat or play with. This morning she snuggled for at least 10 minutes, enough to watch a segment on cosmetic procedures (eww), but followed it up with an unusual request. "Up, Up. Mommyyyyy Up." I hoisted her up over the belly and she snuggled right into my shoulder. She gave me a kiss and pinched my cheeks (I honestly don't know where she learned that because I don't pinch her) and returned to a rocking/cuddling position for another 10 minutes.

After a quick detour to the pantry for some Cheerios, she went to her room, asked for music, laid on her big girl bed and listened to a little Phantom of the Opera with Mommy. She let Mommy sing the "Think of Me" song, and she just watched her fan turn round and round and patted my leg in rhythm. When Mommy finally got the clue that it was time to try a nap (even though she'd been up for less than 1 hour), I suggested it. She crawled herself up and deposited her head on my shoulder and said, "Nigh nigh."

After I forced myself to put her in the crib (I held her as long as her baby brother would tolerate it ... 10 minutes maybe), she grinned at me on the way out, waved, and said, "I love you, Mommyyyyyyy."

Sigh ... 18 months old today ... can I freeze her here? She's just so precious and worth every second of the arduous labor she put me through. My only complaint is how quickly she's growing. Each time I turn around there's a new word on her lips, a new skill in her library of tricks, a new "precious moment" to cherish. Oh well, I suppose those are the simultaneous joys and aches of being a Mommy. You love it because it's happening and want to cry because you understand just how quickly it goes.

I love you, Kayleigh ... more than you'll ever understand (except of course, as my mom used to tell me, until you have kids of your own).

The Unsung Hero

by Kristi Van Dyk in ,

I have spent a lot of time blogging/bragging about my baby girl; I've bemoaned my status as "still pregnant," but I haven't taken time to talk about the reason it all holds together. Mostly, I'm careful not to embarrass my husband; he's always been the kind to step back and support me while I took center stage. It's been that way since we met, really. But, regardless of what he thinks, he deserves credit too. Let me recap a few highlights and then explore the latest, that sent me over the top :) ... (1). When I was teaching/coaching/parenting a 4-6 month old girl, my husband did whatever it took to allow me to try to "balance" all of the elements of my life. Even though that meant that he rarely saw me, almost always had the baby, and literally never got dinner prepared by someone else (unless of course he called Applebee's to pick it up). (2). When I decided that I wasn't satisfied with that lifestyle and wanted to quit my job, he supported me knowing that now all financial responsibilities rested solely on him (though he was glad to give up the daycare bill). (3). When, 4 months after I quit teaching, I decided I wanted to work from home, he supported that (despite that it meant a few working Saturdays and some days where he took personal days to watch Kayleigh). (4). He (with help from Robin) convinced me to stay on another tennis season because he knows how much I LOVE coaching, despite the fact that he still has to make sacrifices (like getting up super early to work a 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. so he can be here to watch Kayleigh on match days), and still rarely gets a dinner he doesn't prepare. (5). He immediately drops all he's doing to get whatever craving I feel like I "need" at the moment (i.e. No, I wasn't hungry at dinner time, but now I want a double cheeseburger ... Slurpees arent going to cut it, I want SONIC ... CHOCOLATE baby .. .CHOCOLATE, of ANY KIND ... just CHOCOLATE!) My personal favorite was this past Saturday: I cooked dinner for Steve and Kayleigh but didn't make any for myself because I had a late lunch. No sooner did we get Kayleigh in bed then I was hungry. He said, "What's it gonna be?" When I didn't hesitate and simply said Dairy Queen, he returned, no questions asked (not about nutritional value or what the baby SHOULD have), with a Mint Oreo Blizzard that he waited in line for for at least 20 minutes.

Those are reasons enough, but last night he outdid even himself. We were walking, and he took one look at my legs (as if he was seeing the "tree trunks" for the first time). He said, "Your poor legs. Tonight I will be helping you with a pedicure. After baby is in bed, during The Apprentice ... it's happening." I really didn't believe this because honestly, he doesn't like getting his hands dirty (at all!) and I have disgusting feet (even when I'm not pregnant). After the summer I worked as a lifeguard for approximately 40 hours a week, I haven't been able, no matter what I do, to get rid of the plantar warts (They've been cut out, burned, frozen, everything and they keep coming back). True, disgusting confession ... Nevertheless, my husband spent at least an hour exfoliating, soaking (in mint foot scrub), massaging and then ... the crowning jewel ... polishing ... my feet/toes. I wear sandals almost constantly now (because its all that fits with the swelling) and as I look at the giant clubs attached to my "tree trunks," I see the dark purple polish and know that my husband loves me. It sorta makes the extra "work" I feel like I'm doing carrying this baby worth every last step.

If I had known I was marrying such a keeper when he spent a year chasing me around in college, I wouldn't have made him wait so long ... He promised me then, he'd never stop chasing me ... he's been true to his word. I just hope I can be as true to mine ...

*** This unabashed show of love/emotion isn't in my character. So, just so you all know it really is describing Steve and Kristi, let me add the comment that sent me laughing uncontrollably. This is from Steve, during the pedicure, "It's a good thing I love you. (Why? 'Cuz my feet are nasty?). Because you have no discernable ankle, heels that are cracked and bloody, and more warts on your one foot than I have fingers on my right hand!"

There you have it folks, a great picture of love :)

Abundant Blessings

by Kristi Van Dyk in ,

One of the best parts about staying home is that I get to see the little, tiny miracles that happen each day as my daughter grows. One of the most difficult parts about staying home is that each morning, regardless of whether I feel awesome or not, she's ready and waiting to learn and grow! (There aren't "sick days" or "oops I'm late" mornings in the life of s.a.h.m.) But it's these mornings that God always chooses to show me something new and beautiful in my baby girl.

Yesterday from about 1:00 p.m. until about 4:00 a.m. I was having an insane number of Braxton Hicks contractions. They weren't painful (except when accompanied by lower back pain and pelvic pressure) just LONG and incessant! By 3:00 a.m. I was pacing, timing them using the stopwatch on my iPhone, and drinking buckets of water/OJ to get them to stop so I could sleep. NOTHING was working. Finally, I just laid down and accepted the fact that this wasn't true labor (albeit it many classic symptoms of pre-mature labor) and there wasn't much I could do. I wasn't going to wake my doctor in the middle of the night because I knew (without regular intervals or increasing pain/pressure) there wasn't much they'd do. So I was just frustrated.

I slept from 4:00 until 7:00 a.m. when my cat persisted in waking me (he gets to play in the garage and was NOT interested in letting me sleep late). Locking him out of the bedroom only produced mournful moaning, scratching at the bedroom door, and consistent interruptions. Since I didn't want his misbehavior to wake Kayleigh I got up ... called the dr and was told to stay at home for the morning. To sit down immediately when contractions began and drink fluids. If I had more than 6 in an hour, I was to head in to the office. Well, with a toddler, sitting to drink water and pay attention to painless (though annoying) contractions was not super high on my list. Let alone with tennis, preparations for labor/baby, plus work, I didn't have time to take the morning off. This shot my morning to pieces!

Yes, yes, I'm still getting to the Abundant Blessings part :) ...

Nevertheless, as my daughter woke and I thought about the 3.5 hours I had to entertain her, alone, in the house until it was nap time I was dreading what I'd do to fill those hours (especially knowing was supposed to sit and drink water). I'll admit, I was bawling as I fed her breakfast and that ... THAT ... is where God began to show up in an incredible way.

(1). My baby girl, normally quite focused on her meal, took a moment to stop shoveling in the Cheerios, called me over, and just took my hand and hugged it to her face. I don't think empathy or even sympathy truly develops until kids are closer to 3 or 4 but I believe Kayleigh sensed Mommy was sad and did her best to cheer me up.

(2). In a softer mood after some spontaneous kindness from my 17 month old, I started about diaper duty. K desperately wanted to help me so she crawled downstairs (one of her new found skills) and stood guard over me as I started the wash cycle. She didn't go play in the playroom (though I encouraged her to) . .she simply stood by my legs, rubbing them every so often with her head, saying "Mommmaaaa ... " in the tone she always uses when she's really saying, "I Love you ..."

(3). After that we went upstairs to play where Kayleigh went to her room to get her "anket." Its a morning tradition to be lazy at home and just lounge around all over the living room with her "anket" watching "tee tee." She told me, quite clearly to sit in the rocker. She hopped on the footrest (she's learned that trying to climb on my lap is pointless), covered both of us (as much as she could) in the blanket and laid her head in my lap. She said "bush ... bush" and sat still for almost 10 minutes while I brushed her hair (this is NEVER HAPPENED moment with my little mover).

Most of the morning continued this way with Kayleigh doing her best to be sweet, kind and playful. When it finally came to nap time I found myself surprised at how quickly it really had come about. The morning didn't take nearly as long as I thought (probably because of the sweetness of my baby girl). When I said it was nap time she dropped all of her kitchen utensils (She had been making Mommy "unch"), ran to my arms, hugged me, KISSED me on the lips (also a first) and said, "NIGH NIGH Momma." That was 34 minutes ago and I haven't heard a peep. I hung the diapers on the line and decided that I'd be remiss if didn't take time to thank the Lord (through this reflective, semi-public blog and privately in prayer) for the abundant blessing that is my daughter. She has her moments, but in the last week, she's been nothing short of angelic. She's so ready to be a big sister and helper ... I couldn't be more proud of the little sweet young lady she's becoming.

My heart is full ...  (and my body tired still ... so on that note, I'm taking my swollen feet/ankles/hands and falsely contracting body to bed ... maybe little ______ will stop pushing down long enough for Mommy to rest for a while. If this is any indicator of HIS disposition, the Lord knows I will need to take every advantage I can right now!)

Little Lessons

by Kristi Van Dyk in

I decided this morning during my usual "blogging time" that I had nothing to say. We had a crazy busy weekend getting the house ready and prepped for Jr. But that made for very little bloggable fun. I mean, no one really wants to hear about all of my window washing and room cleaning craziness that has since completely knocked me flat, rendering me relatively useless for other tasks :) (Much less finishing the insanely thorough job I began  ... oh well, maybe this coming weekend ...) :) And no one needs to hear me whine about Kayleigh's awful temper tantrum during Sunday brunch, or her horrible nap schedule following the incident, her waking nearly every hour on the hour all night long, and her massive yeast infection (again). So ... that led me to believe I had nothing about which to blog. UNTIL ... kiddo woke up. Despite her pathetic sleeping schedule yesterday, going to bed almost a full hour later than normal, awful night of sleep, and early wake up ... She was a gem this morning. I can't resist sharing all of the "little moments" that made my morning oh so priceless:

- Kayleigh woke, hugged her mommy, and, after her diaper change, ran straight to her breakfast chair. She said "fast, Momma fast." Indicating she would like her breakfast right away this a.m. (sometimes she waits a bit to wake up completely). She ate very well ...

- We are working on NOT throwing unwanted food on the floor and this a.m. she demonstrated excellent mastery of this by saying, "All done, Momma" and placing each piece of uneaten toast and all bits of leftover Cheerios on the serving plate.

- After she got down, she tore off to her room to put in her "pretties" (aka her strawberry barettes from Aunt Alaina) before running back to clean up the "tash" in the living room. She threw away a few scraps of paper from the floor, the box from Sarah's present left out, and some packing waste.

- She helped me with the laundry (selecting all of her clothes from the dryer and placing them gently back in her hamper for hanging and folding)

- Kayleigh now says her own name (ya - yee is what it sounds like) and she and I have this game where I get down on the floor with her, crawl towards her and say, "Mommy ..... Loves .... Kayleigh" and then attack her with kisses. Usually by the time I change my position and tone she knows what we're doing and promptly lays down ready for the onslaught. Today before I even said "Mommy ... " she SCREAMED "YA-YEEE!!! YA-YEEEE" and laid down giggling for her tickles and hugs ... I smiled. At least she knows at this stage in her life that Mommy loves her.

- She proceeded to snuggle up on my lap and watch the "coupon clipping" segment on the Today show while snacking on her leftover toast (and determinedly trying to share some with kitty ... "Kttt ...toast...mouth ... KTT toast...mouth."

- We listened to music in her room, where I had to wear the "glasses" because she was wearing the "pretties" and she brushed my hair and danced to music while teaching herself a new word "holes..." (She was quite disturbed by the holes in Mommy's (Daddy's really since all of Mommy's tshirts are too small) tshirt).

- Then after another load of laundry, Kayleigh snuggled up and let me read the "Going to Bed" book with her, where she chimed in on a few pages, "BATH!!!" ... "TEETH" .. and "NIGHT NIGHT." Then when I said it was nap time she slid off my lap, grabbed her blanket, said "Mommy ... up" pointed to her room, and her pacis, smiled and said "Papa ..." She happily took it, laid down immediately and said, "Momma night night ..."

I love my toddler so much ... and sometimes she makes being a mommy the MOST fun in the world. Her communication skills grow each day and that makes the bond we have stronger as we learn to share different things. :) I can't wait until she meets her brother and learns to bond with him as well. I am truly blessed.

Thanks for letting me rave about my smart little peanut ... I think I'm going to use her nap time to catch up a little myself. That way I can enjoy the beauty of the day when it's time to coach starting at 3:00.

Hugs, Kristi

Our little helper

by Kristi Van Dyk in

Steve and I have been so blessed since Kayleigh was born with her sunny disposition. Even when she's sick, she's far more likely to snuggle or ask to sleep than she is to be fussy or irritable. Our baby is growing up into a very good little mother's helper. She passes me clothes from the laundry, dishes from the dishwasher, and picks up her toys and clothes to the best of her ability. When I'm putting away her clothing after laundry she gets most frustrated because she can't reach to hang the hanger by herself. As our playdates with Ryan have increased, she's learning to give him his pacifier (instead of stealing it), share toys, and kiss the baby. She's learning what babies look like, who they are, and how much they need a gentle touch and not aggressiveness. It's truly a blessing as we anticipate our new little one in approximately 7 weeks. Today, after we moved back into our house from Ipemas, Kayleigh wanted to help her daddy paint little _____'s room. Daddy was working hard to measure out the block M just perfectly before he started applying the maize colored paint. After the measuring was done, Daddy lifted Kayleigh up to paint a little piece of her brother's room. She was thrilled (and a little bit sad that she couldn't keep "helping") to be a part, even if she doesn't completely understand all of the ramifications of what is to come.

Here's my photo of the day of my favorite little helper.

[caption id="attachment_125" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Kayleigh helps to paint her little brother's room"][/caption]