>The Devil’s Jukebox

>I have a nail in my tire. The front passenger side. Don’t know where I picked it up, but it’s glaring and obvious, it even has a green circle-ey thing around the head of the nail. So I’m riding around with a green circle nailed into my tire.

This morning I sent my son to school without his book report. Again. It was due Friday and he and I completed it and left it on the table where it remained as we departed for school Friday morning. This morning I did it again, left it right there waiting to be placed in a backpack and turned in. What is wrong with me?

This morning I also fed my kids bananas and Little Debbie cakes for breakfast. In the car. We were running late, no time even for cereal. I only had one granola bar, but I had three bananas and two Little Debbie cakes. And bottled water. I did make them eat the bananas first.

My baby slept nearly two hours past his wake up time on Sunday morning. Instead of relishing the extra sleep, I stressed about what could be going wrong to make him sleep so much. He’s overdue for immunizations and could be contracting some dread disease. So when am I going to take off work and take him in for shots?

My big boy’s birthday is tomorrow. I have cupcakes ready for his class, but I never called his teacher to tell her. I hope she lets them have the cupcakes. I attempted the call several times, only to be thwarted by some urgent thing or another. So the call never got completed. He’s going to be eight. I haven’t planned a big party with cute invitations and treat bags of junk for all his friends. I never can seem to pull that off. It’s just going to be us and Chuck E Cheese. He really wants Chuck E Cheese and since there are no treat bags and friends for a party, Chuck E will have to do the job. I’m not going to think about the mom who gave out hand made halloween themed burp cloths to everyone at the daycare. But I bet she’d have treat bags of junk and 20 kids at the party.

I printed a newsletter at work. I went against my gut and my better judgement and chose the cheaper company to print it. And I hate how it looks. It’s well written but looks terrible. Why didn’t I listen to my instinct and go with the other company? I saved a hundred bucks but my newsletter looks crappy.

I have only one bottle of milk for the baby for tomorrow. I can’t seem to figure out the right amount of milk and right pumping schedule to be able to keep extra milk on hand. I try to pump at night but for some reason my body refuses to let the milk go. And mostly I’m too tired.

Plus I have a nail in my tire. Did I tell you about that? I’m driving three kids around in a car with a nail in the tire.

This blog is horrible and terribly negative. You are probably alarmed at its tone. I like to think I’m an upbeat person, generally happy, with a positive outlook. Yet the preceding litany of condemnation is precisely the way I speak to myself. It’s the playlist in my head. The devil’s jukebox selections and he never seems to run out of quarters.

I have to wonder if my constant barrage of self inflicted condemnation has an effect on my mood. Ya THINK? But how do I stop? The bottom line is, I want to be better. I want to host cool, fun birthdays for my kids. I want to feed them nutritious breakfasts, hot ones, with time to digest before we lurch toward school. I want more milk than Kleinpeter Dairy, and I feel like if I fed my baby better (more milk?) maybe he would be… what? Bigger? fatter? healthier? He’s healthy and happy, just like my other two are. See, I don’t even know what I want. But I still can’t let myself off the hook. I just said I want to be better, but the truth is, I have an unrealistic desire to be PERFECT.

Maybe every mom has it, maybe I’m one of the few, the proud, the insane enough to admit it. Or maybe I just have issues with perfectionism. I don’t know and even this moment I resist the urge to resolve this post with a happy little ending, all tied in a bow. I don’t know what to do, and I’m tired of wearing myself out. I desperately want to let it all go, but have no idea how to let it all go without… well, letting it all go, if you know what I mean.

Somebody pray for me. My joy is buried somewhere in this pile of thoughts and worries. Tomorrow’s a new day, and will bring new mercies, I know. But tonight is looking like sack cloth and ashes.

And there’s a nail in my tire.

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>Listen up, World!

>I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I’ve disappeared. I’ve fallen into the black hole of working, breastfeeding, rocking, diapering, parenting, and running around trying to accomplish it all. You’re thinking I’m a casualty of life and its stressors.

But I’m STILL HERE! Somewhere underneath the woman you can see who is trying to pay the bills, keep the house, love the husband, teach the kids, feed the baby, and make it from one day to the next… Somewhere behind my bleary, sleep deprived eyes and underneath my way overdue for a haircut hair… Somewhere underneath the clothes that aren’t quite the size I wore before I got pregnant… Somewhere buried under the to-do lists…

I’m still here. I still think deeply and dream big. I still love passionately and live creatively. I still have a mind that wants to learn and a heart that wants to save the world.

It might seem like I’ve gone away but I’m still here somewhere. So don’t forget me because when you least expect it, I’ll be back. Back and better than ever. I’ll have a stroke of brilliance in one of those quiet moments I spend hooked up to a breast pump. Or I’ll write a beautiful piece one evening after the family is sleeping peacefully. Or I’ll invent an idea one day sitting at my desk or standing at the sink. And all those seemingly meaningless tasks, those moments of the mundane that everyone thinks are wasted, those late night crying jags, those angry moments, those breathless times wondering if it’ll all work out, those questions that make everyone uncomfortable except for God… those won’t be wasted. They’ll be part of me becoming something more than I thought I could be.

I’m still here. So don’t count me out just yet…. ok?

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>Veggie Soup

>It’s been way too long since I’ve written and I’m bursting at the mental and emotional seams. I’m gonna dive right in…

This week in Origins, we studied in Colossians 3 about how God wants us to live in our families. Greg included the statement that the place where our faith should go to work is in our homes and families. I think for most people, the greatest source of joy and pain in life is the family and I’m no different. The ones we love the most have the power to hurt us the most but also have the ability to bring us the most happiness.

As we spent the week studying and discussing how wives and husbands, children and parents should relate to one another, I enjoyed reflecting on what God is teaching me through my husband and my children. My awesome husband is a chef, and does most of the cooking at home. However, this week he had a little surgery and as he recovered, I of course took over the food prep. I decided to make vegetable soup.

Veggie soup, you must know, is one of Mackenzie and Levi’s favorite dishes. Mine too. Dwayne can put together a veggie soup that can make you feel on top of the world. He’s gotten me through a few colds with that yummy stuff. It’s a beefy, hearty, spicy soup that is SO hard to put down. He had frozen part of the last batch he made and so I grabbed it, thinking I could quickly turn it into a good dinner for all of us. There was only about half as much as we would need, so I started by throwing some onions in the bottom of the pot. Then I added some more veggies and a couple of cans of tomatoes. See, my Granny made a tomato based veggie soup that was absolutely amazing. As I’ve mimicked her recipe in the past, the kids have learned to adore it. I stood there stirring the half-Dwayne-half-Rebecca veggie soup and had to smile.

This is just like our family. We’re blended. Some spicy, some hearty… a little straightforward southern and a little crazy cajun. I set the soup down in front of everybody and it disappeared in no time. His recipe and mine blended together to make the best soup yet. The combination of the two becoming much more than either of them could be on their own… something unique and wonderful.

There is no cook book with a recipe for that soup. I may never be able to duplicate it again. And that, too, is just like us. We’re going full speed ahead. Our days are filled with learning how to love each other as a husband and wife, talking boys with a twelve-going-on-twenty year old girl, soothing the frustrations caused to a little boy by second grade math, trying to make enough breast milk for a six month old, and juggling the bills to try to pay for it all. Some days we drop in bed too exhausted to say goodnight. But in all our crazy running, all the crying and trying, laughing and working, we are becoming something delicious. Something one-of-a-kind and wonderful.

I love the soup that I’m in. I love the intensity in my husband’s eyes, the laughter of my children, even the months on end without a full night’s sleep. I love the crazy wonder of trying to live life following God, and the adventure of following Him together. Neither of us are sure what God is up to, but we know He’s working in our lives. I love what He’s making of our family, of our marriage, of me. It’s not always easy, but I don’t have to go far to experience God and what He’s teaching me. It’s right here at home, right here in my family, and following Him in life means trusting Him to create just the right recipe with me and the ones I love.

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>SIGNS

>Just for fun, and because I can’t sleep…

Lately I’ve noticed a rash of ridiculous signs. You know, papers posted up with warnings or requests of various kinds. They make me laugh.

In a French quarter jewelry store: “PLEASE DO NOT TRY ON THE TOE RINGS.”

Just picture it. Somebody walks in a jewelry store after walking around the quarter for a while. Probably wearing sandals. They spot a toe ring. “Mmmmm…. I like this. Wonder if it’ll look good on me.” Then they proceed to try to balance on one foot while they figure out which toe…

In a beauty salon restroom: “PLEASE DO NOT SLAM THE TOILET SEAT DOWN.”

OK… most of the clientele in salons are women. Have they been lifting the seat? Is this sign for the men? Who is disturbed by the seat slamming? Is there a certain individual seat slammer, and the sign has been posted as if seat slamming were a chronic problem, but in reality is a way to get across a message without directly confronting the habitual slammer? I must admit, it’s a conversation I’d dread. “Hey, listen… can you do something about the toilet seat? I mean the way you slam it down… it just really… I’m not trying to hurt your feelings or anything… just could you please not slam it down? I mean, the slamming noise… it’s so… slammy.”

On a potted plant outside a place of business on Carrollton: “PLEASE DO NOT SIT ON PLANTS.”

Wouldn’t your butt get dirty from the potting soil? Wouldn’t you be afraid of squishing the leaves? Are there plant sitters out there just waiting for me to put a potted plant out? Is my hydrangea in danger out there in front of the house?

I have to wonder… are these signs effective? Has there been a drastic reduction in toe ring fittings, toilet seat slamming, and plant sitting? I mean, if they work, then why am I not using signs?? If horrible behaviors such as plant sitting could be stopped, just think what misery I could end by posting a sign.

“KEEP YOUR NEGATIVE OPINION TO YOURSELF”

or how about

“CHOCOLATE DONATIONS ARE ENCOURAGED”

or maybe

“RETURN THE TV REMOTE TO THE SAME PLACE EVERY TIME”

OH! Here’s one:

“DOING WHAT I SAY IS REQUIRED. ADMITTING THAT I’M RIGHT IS OPTIONAL.”

A girl can dream, can’t she?? 🙂 Anyway, the sign idea and it’s absurdity has been a fun source of entertainment for my brain tonight. I really, really should be sleeping. Here’s one more sign:

“SHHHHH!! Mommy sleeping!! DO NOT DISTURB!”

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>At Least Milk

>Motherhood certainly has its um… adventurous moments. Tonight I had just such a moment at band rehearsal. Riverside Church, where I play keys, has a sweet new music director. He started just a week or so after Caleb was born. This evening he and I were having a conversation regarding a song for Sunday. I was sitting there calmly discussing a nuance of the music when…

My milk let down.

EVERY mother who has ever nursed a baby just cracked up. And I’m not even to the good part yet. For everyone who has NOT nursed a baby, the “let down” is a reflex in a nursing mother’s body that causes milk to be pretty much forced out. It usually happens when the baby is nursing, but sometimes can be triggered by other things, like too much time away from the baby, a thought of the baby or another crying baby. It’s a very cool thing God built into a female in order to ensure proper nourishment for her infants. It is not, however, all that cool to experience letdown when one is not nursing, but is in conversation with a new music director, or any other person for that matter.

So the milk let down without warning, and suddenly, midsentence, I feel the drips. That’s right. Drips. I look down and sure enough, white drops were coming through my shirt and splashing onto my lap. It looked as if… well… as if there was milk coming out of me, dripping through my shirt and onto my lap. It didn’t help to have a black shirt on, which effectively highlighted the white substance dripping off of me.

Uh… WHAT do you say at a time like this??? Do I excuse myself? Do I attempt to make an explanation? Do we both sit there and act like nothing’s happening?

I managed a “Oops, I’m dripping. Sorry.” and quickly crossed my arms, hoping to slow the flow if you know what I mean. I have no clue if new music guy caught what I said or even noticed what happened. Part of me dares to dream he didn’t notice. Part of me knows he probably did and is probably embarrassed to pieces. I mean, I really don’t know this guy too well. He seems like an easygoing sort, so hopefully he wasn’t too mortified. Most likely he’ll snicker through the next few services and rehearsals, as will I. Nothing like gettin’ to know somebody, huh??

It was one of those absurd moments in life. One of those times you never could have dreamed or made up on your own. A moment when you MUST laugh… or else cry. Perhaps a moment that makes life a little sillier and reminds me that all of us, regardless of how hard we try to be dignified, drip from time to time.

Ah well… welcome to Riverside, new music guy. May your voice be louder, your guitar strings always in tune. Bet you didn’t know it was the land of milk and honey. Or well… at least milk.

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>Gifts and Friends and Falls

>Friendship 911:

Me: “Can I come by for like, 5 minutes?”
Janet: “Only if you don’t care that I’m in my nightgown and haven’t had a shower.”
Me: “That’s ok. I’m coming by to take my pants off anyway.”
Janet: (Knowing she’ll get the whole story when I get there) “Ok.”

This emergency phone call was placed by me yesterday after an unfortunate incident in the Winn Dixie parking lot just down the street from Janet’s house. I had dropped off the kids at school, then stopped by work with a hungry baby to feed him in Dwayne’s office before I ran some more errands. I got caught at work in a thunderstorm, but waited it out, determined to get some things done. So, I FINALLY headed off to the Winn Dixie with freshly fed, sleeping baby in the car.

I parked strategically in the side of the parking lot by the exit doors and proceeded to get the baby out. Upon stepping up to the rear passenger door, I noticed a large pothole under the car. (If you live in New Orleans, you know that potholes are a way of life here.) “Better not step in that” I thought to myself. So I leaned precariously over it and picked up the car seat with still sleeping baby inside. I stepped back, however the curb that was behind me evidently had issues with being stepped on. It tripped me. In what seemed to be slow motion I fought against the inevitable backward fall, but was unsuccessful. I fell backward right on my behind. (Thankfully on my freshly unpregnant but still carrying extra cushion behind) Car seat with still sleeping baby fell too, right on top of me, I’m grateful to say.

Now on a dry day in New orleans, sitting on the ground will give you a wet rear end. If you recall the above mentioned thunderstorm, however, then you can imagine how wet and muddy my behind was as a result of my plop onto the grassy curb. A kindly older gentleman witnessed my mishap and came running over to help me up. He assisted me back to my feet and I smiled bravely to assure him he could go his merry way. Then I put car seat with the still sleeping baby back into the car and, hands shaking, got back into the drivers seat. My first plan was to go home. But then my inner rebel kicked in and completely refused to be defeated. I was NOT going to go all the way home, change, and start over. Neither could I enter WinnDixie in my current state.

This brings me to the phone call referenced above. A plan had begun to form in my mind. Janet lives right down the street. Now Janet is one of those friends who has seen many of my worst moments. She’s just plain real and just plain there for me. She is one of few that has withheld judgement from me and simply been a friend. You can’t surprise her and you can’t shock her. So I knew it would be nothing to call her and ask to come over and strip off my pants. Actually, I’ve been blessed with an unusually high number of this kind of friend in my life. Perhaps God knew how much help and understanding I would need. For whatever reason, He has chosen to give me the gift of amazing friends, and has provided them wherever I’ve gone. Some from childhood (that’s you, C!) and some from college, some from churches here and there, and some my mother bore herself!!

So I proceeded to Janet’s where she came up with an ingenious plan of her own. I stood in the bathroom doorway while she blow-dried my butt. I didn’t even have to take off the pants. She sent me out the door in decent enough shape so still sleeping baby and I could accomplish our desperately needed grocery run.

I didn’t know until the next day when two huge bruises appeared and some stiffness was felt, that I had had a fairly serious fall. It’s kinda like life. Here’s something I have learned: I can’t and neither do I want to, spend this life doing it all on my own. Sometimes I don’t know how bad it is until the shock wears off. Sometimes I need help, sometimes I need advice, sometimes I need a shoulder to cry on, and sometimes I need someone to blow dry my butt. Today, especially as I’m entering a new phase in life and trying to make hard decisions I’m exceedingly grateful for those angels God has given me, and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to be an angel for someone else. So many thanks to those of you who have been and are there for me. Thanks for letting me call and cry. Thanks for being mad when somebody hurts me. Thanks for loving my kids. Thanks for cheering when I have a success. Thanks for not cheering when you were right and I wasn’t. You are one of my most precious gifts. If you’re ever in New Orleans and need someone to blow dry your butt… just call.

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>The Birth

>In the tradition of all new mothers who want and need to tell their war stories, and to preserve it while I can still remember vividly… here’s the story of Caleb’s birth…

February 11, we had a doctor’s appointment in the morning. We waltzed in at 9:30 and I had only the smallest glimmer of hope that the doctor might say it was time and we could go ahead and deliver. I even skipped my lovenox injection that morning, hoping against hope, having had enough of heartburn, backache, and that feeling of your hips about to fall apart completely. And sure enough… ultrasound wand in hand, my fairy godmother of a perinatologist said “Not enough fluid. Time to take baby today.” I looked at Dwayne and gave him the thumbs up. He freaked.

So while they called my OB, we started on the call list, letting everyone know it was time, and setting the plan in motion. We finally got settled in a Labor and Delivery suite and by around 2:00 pm, out came the pitocin. Dreaded drug of every mother who has experienced it’s excruciation. (Is that a word? Is now, I guess!!) I had decided if I ended up needing pitocin that I was going to opt for an epidural. So the nurse sent for anesthesia. No dice. Evidently epidurals can’t be administered until 24 hours after a lovenox injection at the risk of paralysis. Unfortunately the pitocin was dripping into my IV already and labor had begun. It wasn’t so bad…. yet. But I was scared out of my mind. Laboring on pitocin with no pain relief was NOT in my plan.
I set myself a goal to hang in there until 9:30pm, my 24 hour mark, so I could get that epidural. Ha. Ha ha ha. Around about 5:00 or so, things started to intensify. The kids had all been hanging out in the room with me and I was tolerating contractions really well, but at this point it was getting intense and I wasn’t sure I wanted my little ones (or big ones) to see me that way. They went to grab some food and while they were gone, Dwayne helped me to the bathroom. Something about standing up made things shift into overdrive. I had a couple of contractions on that bathroom trip that nearly had me on the floor. Thank goodness my man can hold me up!

He got the nurse and she checked dilation. 8 centimeters. At this point I’m squeezing the crap out of Dwayne’s hand and the tears are starting. The nurse offered me Stadol, saying it would take the edge off and would only last about an hour or so. I agreed, thinking it would get me through to 9:30. Ha. Ha ha ha.

So in goes the Stadol through the IV and while the nurse injects it, I tell her: “OK, I’m not pushing, but my body is. My body is pushing the baby out.” She takes this as a tip that I might be ready to push. Hmmm… Another dilation check and sure enough! 10 Centimeters!! Call the OB!! He runs over and through a Stadol haze, I could see them bringing in delivery equipment. The part about taking the edge off? I’m not so sure. But Stadol does produce intoxication. That I know.

My husband was still holding my hand and reassuring me, drying my tears as usual. I heard the doc say “You can push now.” Out came Caleb’s head, and one more push, out came his body. I opened my heavy eyelids and my beautiful son was there. Doctor Hogan put him on my chest and Dwayne cut the cord. Then we both cried. Actually all three of us cried! We did it!

We brought all our kids in to see him, Nathan, Jessica (Caleb’s godmother and sister in law), Mackenzie, Levi and Mel (Dwayne’s nephew and Caleb’s godfather). We all spent a few minutes together before Caleb had to go to the nursery because of his breathing.

In hindsight, the Stadol totally wasn’t worth it. Didn’t help the pain that much and it made me intoxicated for my son’s first moments. A fact I regretted intensely when he ended up in NICU and I couldn’t hold him or feed him whenever I wanted. I cried and cried. But looking back, my memory of the experience is fairly clear. I’m thankful to be able to remember in spite of the drug fog.

All in all, a gorgeous little son has been born. A miracle. My Caleb had to fight to get here and fight to stay and fight he did, just like his namesake Caleb in the Bible. Our family is overjoyed and I’m having too much fun being a mommy of a newborn again. Here we are:

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>Day five

>Day five at home. I have to admit I’m a little overwhelmed. I’m not sure why. I mean, I’ve done this before. Twice. I have two beautiful, healthy, amazing kids to show for it. Part of me just tries to look ahead to when mom is gone and real life sets in. How will I get everyone in the car and to school on time? How will I ever go back to work?

Now, I know that’s silly thinking. I’ll do it somehow. And I’ll feel better and better in the next few weeks. It’ll happen. I can’t let those thoughts come in and take away the joy of these moments.

So it’s time to refocus. Refocus on baby smiles while he sleeps, tiny diapers, fuzzy hair on his head, tiny fingers and toes, and looking right into his eyes while he nurses. Refocus on how proud his daddy is and how tiny he looks in his daddy’s hands, how he turns his head to check out what his big brother and sister are up to, and how he has a fancy crib but prefers my arms every time.

And refocus on taking a nap while he naps… g’night.

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>We Are Home!

>Caleb is home! We brought him home yesterday, Mardi Gras Day! He’s doing very well. We are blessed to have endured 5 scary days with virtually no scrapes or bruises. Caleb was born quickly. VERY quickly. As in two measly pushes quickly. One for the head, one for the rest of him. He had some breathing trouble and was diagnosed with TTN. This is common in newborns who are born by C-section or who are born very quickly. It takes a few days for the lungs to catch up with the fact that they are no longer inside mom but on the outside with the job of breathing actual air.

So gradually his breathing stabilized, and we were discharged from the NICU on Mardi Gras Day. We are exhausted but so happy to be home. My mom is here and taking care of the kids and me. Dwayne, the super proud daddy is back to work after spending five days taking the most awesome care of me and Caleb. And I’m nursing for all I’m worth and trying to sleep some in between. We are so thankful for your prayers and love. More later! WITH pictures, I promise.

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>Caleb is born!!!

>

Caleb Paul Jeffries Hyman was born February 11, 2010 at 7:05pm. 5lb,5oz, 18 in. long. We had about 30 minutes with him before he was whisked away, and then ended up in NICU. Having a little breathing trouble. He’s improving every day. Thanks to everybody for calling and checking in on us. Please be patient if we can’t call you back or keep things as updated as we’d like. Our days right now are nothing but trips to the hospital, pumping breast milk, trying to recover and praying for our little man. We are exhausted but thankful. My Mom is here and taking good care of big sister Mackenzie and big brother Levi.

Love to you all, and we will update as soon as we can. Praying and hoping to bring Caleb home by Tuesday.

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