Overly helpful

Today is the first day of the fall semester at the college where I work. We take great pride when new students and parents say they chose to attend here because “everyone was so friendly and helpful when we visited campus.”

So today, in the spirit of friendliness, I stood outside my office building before the 9, 10 and 11 a.m. class slots to welcome passing students and ask if they needed help finding anything. I enjoy helping students, and I like being able to answer people’s questions, so I made it a point to take a break from work and step outside to see what I might be able to do.

Most students said hello and thank you, but they did not need any help. Several walked on by with their cell phones and earbuds and did not acknowledge me. A few groups may have laughed at me as I stood awkwardly by the sidewalk hoping to be helpful. (They did laugh, I’ll just never know at what. I’m choosing not to assume.)

But, no matter how awkward and silly I started to feel, every time there were a few students who came toward me with that look on their faces – that hopeful, tentative look that says “Can you help me?” These students needed to find their parking passes, their student IDs, their class buildings, their laboratories. One student needed to find the ROTC building, which was a new one for me, but I’m pretty sure I got him to the right place.

One student came back by later and thanked me. “You probably saved me 10 minutes of wandering through this building,” he said. I felt validated for my over-eagerness.

But the best thing I’ve seen today had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the type of student and the type of family atmosphere we value on this campus.

A blind student with a cane came down a sidewalk after the main crowds had dispersed. He was coming toward my post, but turned when he reached the intersection of three sidewalks. Instead of taking the right or left turn, which would make the most sense, he instead started down a diagonal walkway that essentially took him back in the direction he had just come from. I watched him walk away and I started to think, “I wonder if that’s really what he meant to do…”. I decided to catch up with him and ask if he needed help.

Before I could get to him, another student approached from the opposite direction, obviously on his way somewhere. This new student asked the blind student where he was headed, and the next thing I knew, the newcomer had given his arm to the blind student and was walking slowly alongside him in another direction – apparently the one the blind student had intended to take.

I don’t know if the newcomer had any previous relationship with the blind student. I don’t know if he was originally going toward that same building or if he took a complete detour to help a fellow student. But regardless, the fact that he stopped his fast walk to serve as a guide for another made my heart smile. I don’t know that young man, but I hope his parents would be proud of him for doing that.


Schrodinger’s baby

At some point in high school, I sat through a discussion of Schrodinger’s cat. You know, the cat in the box that’s supposed to be both alive and dead at the same time? And somehow has something to do with physics (I think)?

Yeah, that cat. Anyway. Nobody really understands that cat. I’m not convinced Schrodinger even understood that cat. But you know what? Now that I have a baby – I think I might be on the right track.

In recent weeks, Roo has finally started to fall asleep in her bed on her own. It’s taken nine months to get here, and we still have some work to do, but the Mister and I feel good about allowing her to reach this milestone at her own pace rather than forcing it on her earlier in life.

Each night around 7 p.m., I drop whatever I am doing and start the bedtime routine. Yes, sometimes this messes up family dinner. Yes, it often annoys guests or people at whose home we may be staying, but it’s essential for my sanity and the few precious hours of quiet I get in the evenings.

When I put Roo in her crib at bedtime and leave the room, for a while, she is quiet. She’s the cat in the box – both asleep and not asleep. Either is a possibility, and until I go find out otherwise, I can tell myself that either is the truth. (If I don’t know for sure, I can tell myself anything. That’s how I get through a lot of things in my life. But I digress.)

Until I go check on her and see that she is, in fact, wide awake and playing patty-cake with her feet, I can pretend she is sleeping soundly for as long as she doesn’t make any noise. Until she screams unhappily, I can tell myself it worked and go take a shower. Until I know differently, I can believe the outcome is whatever I want it to be.

Thus, cat in the box: both asleep and not asleep at the same time, until you open the door and find out for sure.

Done. Equation solved. Teachers need to just use that analogy to explain the cat.

Although how that applies to quantum mechanics or whatever the cat represents, I still have no idea. Maybe Roo will explain it to me when she starts talking…

Hail to the Fathers

In honor of yesterday being Father’s Day, I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful fathers I have in my life, both those I was born with and those I have collected over the years. It’s funny the things that become memories, and so many times it’s those things that you didn’t intend to leave lasting impressions. Here are just a few of the lessons and memories I’ve stored away:

My actual father:

  • Don’t tell your child that eggs over-easy are “Buzzard Puss.” That child might scream those words to an entire crowd at Denny’s one day and embarrass you to death.
  • Teach your child to shave with a plastic spoon and a handful of shaving cream – even if that child is a girl. Also, let her put the shaving cream on your face, even if that means having shaving cream in your hair and up your nose. She’ll never forget it.
  • Let your kids sit in your lap and “drive.”
  • Go camping in the driveway.
  • Tell the truth. Keep your word. Work hard.
  • You don’t need things that just gather dust.
  • “If you’re 10 minutes early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.”
  • How to play foosball, pool, darts and ping-pong
  • How to make the perfect waffle

My Opa:

  • “Why does your tiny hand need so much soap, but my big hand only needs a few drops?”
  • You don’t need a whole lot of words to say important things.
  • Most things are a lot simpler than we think they are.
  • Get to the point. When someone says they have to get off the phone, let them get off the phone. Don’t say goodbye 15 times.
  • You can get a lot of things done without technology.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.

My Grandpa:

  • The Piggly-Wiggly is really called the “Hoggly-Woggly.”
  • Don’t poke the fish if you don’t want it to slice your hand open.
  • Mistletoe grows in trees.

My father-in-law:

  • Sometimes people just need to talk. Just smile and nod, even if you don’t completely understand, and often that’s the best response.
  • Don’t forget about caregivers. They need love and support too.
  • Be careful what you ask for because you might just get it.
  • “Noodling” is a real thing and people do it for fun.
  • Live bees can be transported in a moving vehicle.
  • Dessert is a food group.

My husband:

  • Not all spiders are going to kill me.
  • You can get a hummingbird to sit in your hand if you wait long enough.
  • Velociraptors could be anywhere.
  • Daddies make the best “baby burritos.”



The things we do…

Oh, the things we do for our kids.

Things we never expected to do, or say, or think about. Things we would have died laughing if someone else did it, only to find ourselves in the same positions years later.

It’s been a while since I could tell a really funny story on the Mister. He wised up after the first six months or so of our marriage and became very careful about doing things that might end up here on my blog. But last night… last night he messed up.

Roo (who has major congestion, an ear infection and a first tooth coming in) woke up very unhappy around midnight after having been asleep for about three-ish hours. We tried all the normal things – feeding her, rocking her, Motrin for teething pain, etc. – but nothing was really settling her down.

Finally, a little before 2 a.m., I decided to put her down in her crib (a place she has only slept a few times in her whole life) and see what might happen. I rolled her onto her side, which has become a favorite sleeping position, and waited. It took a very, very long time, and I couldn’t walk away from the bed or she would get upset, but she did eventually fall asleep.

She fell asleep!!!

Those who know me or have read my previous posts about her sleeping habits know that this was a major mommy moment for me. After standing beside the crib and rubbing her belly for about half an hour, I was finally able to sneak back across the hall and climb into my own bed.

And that, apparently, is where the Mister stepped in.

(I would like to clarify that I had no knowledge of this event, and if I had, I would have filmed it and sent the footage to America’s Funniest Home Videos. It’s the world’s loss that I was passed out unconscious in a baby-induced coma. But I digress.)

The Mister got up to check the thermostat after I was asleep and heard a very loud, very obnoxious bird singing in the bushes right outside Roo’s nursery window near the crib. Sleep-deprived and not about to potentially endure another two hours of baby crying, he decided to take matters into his own hands.

So, pulling on his heavy-duty work boots (which nicely compliment the T-shirt and gym shorts he sleeps in) and arming himself with a broom, he crept into the backyard and around the side of our garage.

Sneaking up to the nursery window – the wary bird now silent – the Mister took aim and began to beat those bushes mercilessly with the broom.

In our front yard…

In his pajamas…

At 2:30 in the morning.

Apparently, the bird wasn’t in the first bush he attacked, and so he moved on to the second and was quickly rewarded with a completely panicked bird scrambling out of the branches and fleeing for its life.

He then came back inside, calmly put his boots and broom back in their places, and climbed into bed as if he had not just attacked our landscaping like a deranged crazy person in the middle of the night.

I cannot think about this scene without cracking up. I’ve been bursting into seemingly spontaneous fits of tearful laughter all day long. I would have paid good money to have been awake for this.

But, alas, I – and, thankfully, Roo – slept on, completely unaware of the heroic lengths to which our devoted husband and father will go to save us from the horrors of ill-timed birdsong.

(Rest in peace, noisy bird, which I’m sure went off somewhere and had a heart attack shortly after.)


Finding a pacifier lodged behind a shoulder or under a head and removing it without waking the baby.

Finding a tiny mouth and slipping a pacifier into it in a semi-conscious state in the middle of the night without waking the baby.

Eating off a plate balanced precariously over sleeping baby’s head and not dropping food on the baby (or dropping food on the baby and cleaning it off without waking the baby).

Generally doing anything with the baby without waking the baby.

Measuring water, measuring formula powder, connecting all bottle parts with one hand while wiggling baby is balanced in the other.

Finding the elusive, ever-changing, perfect bounce rhythm to put baby to sleep.

Anticipating the cough and catching the pacifier like a pop fly.

Lining up a thousand tiny snaps correctly.

Buttoning buttons on the back of baby’s onesie (obviously put there by someone who has never dressed a baby).

Closing the diaper seconds before the explosion.

What are your #momskills?



A special kind of stress

I always knew mothers worry naturally; it’s part of what mothers do. But now that I am a mother, I am amazed by the things I can convince myself might happen to my child.

Everything from the entirely plausible (falling off the back deck) to the completely improbable (being accidentally shut inside the dish washer).

I actually see things happening to her all the time. The other day, the Mister and his parents and I were taking Roo for a walk on a trail near a creek, and in my mind I saw the stroller tip down the embankment and land upside down in the shallow water with the baby screaming inside. Then I blinked, and there we all were, walking along happily with the stroller perfectly where it should be.

We know of a family – friends of friends – who recently lost their 19-month-old baby boy because he wandered away from a backyard birthday party and drowned in a decorative water fountain in their front yard. IN THEIR FRONT YARD!!!

So now I’ve become obsessed with a small pond of water created by a drainage culvert at the edge of our yard, and Roo may never go outside unsupervised in her entire life. She may never play around water in her entire life. I might just put her into a bubble and roll her around like a hamster. (At the very least, the bubble would float.)

Also, there is way too much mom guilt in this world, and too many people causing it with their judginess. (WordPress is telling me that’s not a real world, but trust me, it is.)

If you stay home with your children, people make you feel bad for not having a “real career.” If you work, people make you feel bad for leaving your children with someone else. As if you don’t already feel terrible enough about that anyway.

If you exclusively breastfeed, people try to talk you into giving formula in a bottle and convince you that it will make your life easier. Then, if you do bottle feed, people try to make you feel bad about not giving all breastmilk all the time.

And then, heaven forbid you should ever want to be without your child. Even just for a short period of time. Sometimes, when I drop Roo off with her childcare person in the mornings, I breath a small sigh of relief that I now have one less thing to actively try to accomplish. And then I feel HORRIBLE about myself for ever enjoying the moments I am away from her.

I can’t take a personal day from work and enjoy it because if I am with her I am worrying about all the things she needs, and if I’m not with her I’m feeling horrible that I chose to take a day off and not be with her. There is no way to win!

Anyway, long rant cut short is that moms have a LOT of internal struggles with themselves about every. single. decision. they make all day long. Don’t second-guess them. Support them, give advice only when asked for, and offer to clean the house and fold laundry. But don’t make hints that something they are doing might not be absolutely the best thing unless a child’s life is actually, physically in danger.

Just don’t.


I think every family with children, especially babies, has their “thing” that is always a problem. For us, it’s sleep. Specifically, getting Roo to sleep anywhere where we are not.

She sleeps just fine at childcare during the day without much adult intervention, but she refuses to sleep in her crib or to fall asleep on her own while at home.

Yes, yes, yes, we’ve heard it all from those who mean well.

“Just put her down and walk away. It worked for my kids.”

“Just let her cry. She’ll get tired.”

and the list goes on.

Now I’m not saying we have an impossible case here. I have yet to meet a 25-year-old whose mother has to rock him/her to sleep, so obviously this is something we grow out of over time. But, we have tried the things mentioned above (yes, more than once. yes, for longer than five minutes), and they simply are not working for our child and for our family at this time. Regardless of what worked well for your children, it is not working well for mine.

Roo has a terrible case of FOMO – “fear of missing out.” She will drift off to sleep on her own, without help, while sitting in her carseat at a noisy restaurant, in church, in the car or in some other place where action is happening. She will fall asleep in someone’s arms while that person is watching TV with the lights on and someone else is vacuuming four feet away. Noise and action and lights do not bother her.

But if you take her into her room with the lights down low and start to rock and soothe her quietly, she goes nuts. She will not fall asleep on her own or sleep in her crib, period, even if she was in a dead sleep when I put her in there. As soon as her back hits the mattress it’s go-time again.

(And for those who keep telling me to just walk away and she will eventually drift off… no. We’ve left her in there for an hour and a half before and she chatters and rolls and eventually cries herself into a hiccuping frenzy and gets hungry again, and by that point it’s been almost two hours and there’s just no more point to it.)

But take her back into the living room and sit on the couch – she’ll be out in five minutes. Stay on the couch and hold her, she’ll nap for three hours. Take her into her room and she’s instantly awake and wired. And actually, if we need her to go ahead and wake up for some reason, we just go put her in her bed. There’s no more sure-fire way to get her moving.

It may not be the book’s best parenting advice, but for whatever unknown reason, it’s working for us.

**Important note: Roo does not and has not ever slept with us. I am not an advocate of co-sleeping. She sleeps in a small rocker next to our bed, which she accepts quite well as long as she is already asleep when you put her in there. It’s specifically the crib that she hates so much.