Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tuesday-Time for Bed

First I would like to say thanks to Dolly Parton and her Imagination Library.  She has blessed our family with fresh children's literature on a monthly basis for both of our boys once a month.  She gives these paper treasures simply out of the kindness of her own heart and a passion for childhood literacy. And I am truly convinced that she has a staff of individuals whose sole mission is to conduct research of exactly what a family is going through at each month of development. Either that, or she has hired a team of authors and illustrators to peer through the windows of the Strauss house each evening and document our lives in entertaining little storybooks.

The comforting truth must be that we aren't in this alone. We aren't the only family with a two-year-old son who only recently started sleeping in his own bed all night and a newborn still sleeping in a bassinet in our room. We aren't the only parents still having to tuck our toddler back into his bed multiple times a night.
Last night was only the third night in a row that we woke Shea up in the morning in his own bed AFTER our alarm went off.
So this month's delivery of the book "Back to Bed, Ed" by Sebastien Braun was a celebration of the three consecutive nights of successful sleeping before we have a relapse, perhaps later tonight.
But for now, I will just be catching up on some episodes of The League with my husband until one of our boys decides to wake up...or fall out of the bed like Shea did in the middle of me writing this post.

Goodnight, my friends.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Inspire Me Monday-IronDAD Chattanooga 9-27-15

Today I am inspired by the Ironman competition that took place in Chattanooga yesterday. I will be competing in my first Ironman competition this May. I will be a part of a relay team in the Half-ironman later this year. I will be doing the running portion of the race. The half ironman consists of a    1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run. The full ironman is a feat taken on by a small group of individuals, and accomplished by even fewer. It starts with a 2.4 mile swim , followed by a 112 mile bike race, and finishing with a full marathon of 26.2 miles. And it is all completed by one individual at one time. It is the ultimate test of brawn, determination, endurance, athleticism, and heart. And one man, one dad, showed even more heart than anyone else who went on this 140+ mile adventure. He went that whole great distance carrying a person with him...

Chattanooga is a haven for runners.  I knew that the first time I made an official recruiting visit to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  I was being recruited to run track and cross-country as a Chattanooga Running Moc.  It didn't take long to realize that my running shoes would love it here.  Since the start of my freshmen year of college, I put in many miles of running around this city that became a second home to me.  

Alongside my teammates, I ran long runs up and down the hills of Chattanooga, the Baker Street loop over by GPS, hill repeats back behind the golf course, the duck pond loop twisting around the north side of the city, runs out toward East Chattanooga by the car dealerships and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, runs past the resturaunts downtown, long runs breezing by Finley Staduim and cooling down behind the Tennessee Aquarium, out-and-backs on the Riverwalk, sprints inside McKenzie Arena when the roads were too icy, speed workouts on the blue track at GPS and taking a bathroom and water break in Coolidge Park, the bridges loop if we were just wanting to get a quick morning run in before class on days without pool workouts, runs through the woods at Greenway Park followed by some hill repeats...

And last but not least a good-ole-go-to-run when we were wanting to mix things up...an out and back run to Moccasin Bend.
It was one of those routes we didn't take very often on long runs.  Days that we ran it were the mornings that we sat in our dorm room lacing up our shoes trying to decide where we wanted to run that day.  One of us would say, "I'm getting tired of duck pond and Baker's loop.  I don't feel like driving somewhere to run.  What about running to Moc Bend today?  It's not too hilly."  And off we went.  We would head out of our Johnson Village dorm room and take a left.  We would cross over either Veteran's Bridge, Walnut Street Bridge (aka walking bridge), or the Market Street Bridge, depending on how we were feeling that day.  Once on the north side of the river we would hang a left onto Manufacturer's Road to run past Greenlife and the liquor store, then another left onto Hamm Road.  At some point during the run someone would comment on how bad it smells over by the water treatment plant when it gets hot.  We would tend to pick up to a pretty swift pace as we took off toward Moccasin Bend.  The road was nice and flat and straight as a starting line.  You could see your point of destination.  The spot where you turn around to head home.  That's what was nice about this run.  It's not very often that the end is in sight.  The turnaround point for that run was like the straightaway at the end of a track race.  There aren't many flat spots to run around the city besides the track, but this was one of them.  I honestly remember the feeling I would get on that straightaway leading into the scenic Moccasin Bend property-that feeling that you had more energy left in the tank than you thought you did.  That, "heck, why not speed it up a bit, here?"  It was an opportunity to remind yourself how fast you were, that even in the middle of a long run you still had it in you to let loose a bit and burn some rubber on those shoes.  You start to feel like all of your worries and stresses don't exist anymore.  We would, for a short time, forget about the essays due and looming deadlines and teammate drama.  We would just run.  Fast.  And running fast is a great feeling.

I am sure that is the feeling Cameron Bean felt on his final run last Monday.

Cameron had spent the last year training his father, Steve Bean, to run the Ironman with him. Instead Steve ran it FOR Cameron while Cameron cheered him on from above. 

(Click above to see his heroic finish.)

They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint. 
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thank You...yes you!


First click the link above. It is a video of a NICU nurse getting some much deserved words and live images of the results of her love and dedication.
Sometimes we don't get the privilege of experiencing what she does in this video. But sometimes it is good to be reminded that the results of our love and effort come days, weeks, months, years down the road.
For those who don't know, our little Patten is the result of the effort, dedication, intelligence, and love of NICU nurses. They may never see little Patten again. And they probably wouldn't recognize him if they did. But he is a smiling, crying, babbling, eating, cuddling example that what they do matters.
Lately I have been giving pep talks and s shoutouts and words of encouragement to teachers. But now I'm giving props and high fives and fist bumps to doctors, caregivers, and nurses.

And the biggest hug goes out to my favorite nurse...who just happens to be my mom! Love you, Ma-muh!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Feel Good Friday

It is pretty shocking just how far a few nice words can go. There are times in life where we all feel unappreciated, unnoticed, inefficient, degraded, disrespected, useless, unimportant, or ignored. Sometimes it goes beyond that. Sometimes we check out. We harden our hearts so they don't get broken. We disconnect, because "what's the point?" We give up because "what's the use in trying?" We stop caring because it seems we are the only one who does. We stop trying because we have felt the pain of falling short.
We begin to give just enough because no one seems to see when we go above and beyond the call of duty. We begin to just show up because we think no one would even notice if we were gone. We begin to crawl into our shell because at least there we are safe. We begin to close our eyes in fear of what we may see.
As soon as we close our eyes we lose sight of the bigger picture. The world disappears as we try to run from it. The target begins to blur. The image gets fuzzy. The result seems dark. But then something reminds us the picture isn't developed yet. We forget we are still in the darkroom.
...Then someone opens the door and shows us the picture we have created. They remind us of our purpose. They tell us "you ARE appreciated, you DO belong, you are here for a reason, I see you."
And those words of encouragement come just in time.
And we give it another shot.
So today I am paying it forward.
And in the words of my philosophical, hysterical, handsome, rapper of a husband, "God's got chu, guuuurl!"
       ....or guy.
Don't give up.
PS-Thanks for being there just when I needed you, with just what I needed to hear. Just do you-"forget" what they have to say.
Insert verb of choice.
You're a rockstar in my book. You know who you are.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dear Meredith, daughter, mother, lady

I will begin with a public service announcement. Let's assume son=daughter, father=mother, and young man=lady.

1 John 2:12-15-I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. 
I write to you, dear children,
    because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God lives in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.

He writes first to me as a child
He is my father
He sees me as I see my sons
I'm his daughter 
He knows I've messed up
Failed to drink from his cup
Not reflected him enough
But he says I'm forgiven
My sorry's enough
He sees past all of the times I've screwed up
He says I'm enough

Then he writes to me as a parent
Reminds me of my commitment
When we chose to have kids
Reminds me I KNOW him
And I KNOW how I should live
To show them how they should live

Then he writes to me as a young adult
My hair isn't yet silver and I'm not yet old
Though not advanced in my years
He says, "Lend me your ears
You have ALREADY overcome 
You are here so your job isn't done
But you've been forever changed by my son
And you are enough
Without all the fluff
And though you aren't perfect
You are whole since rebirth
You may not have all the answers
Or the gracefulness of dancers
Or your to-do list completed
Or your shortcomings deleted
Your house may not be cleaned
It could use some vacuuming
But, my dear, you have already overcome
By the blood of my son
You are all you need to be
So fix your eyes on me
Love, me"

Then he writes to us as children again
If we, as parents, know him
So will our kids
And because our kids know him
We see him in them

Then again, he writes, "young woman,
You are strong
In your heart is my song
In my lap is where you belong
You are strong
You are enough
You are strong enough!"

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Ramblings from a Rare Morning in Bed

It is 8:32 am on a Saturday morning and I am still laying in bed.
Alone. What? That hasn't happened many times in the last 2 plus years.
(Sidenote, I am only alone because Brian is facilitating an elementary school robotics competition downtown. Don't worry. We are still happily married.)
I doubt this moment of my life will last until the end of this blog post, but I will give it a shot. The house is quiet-ish. Two-and-a-half-month-old Patten is wide awake in his pack and play in our room, entertaining himself staring at the ceiling and kicking his legs like he is running a marathon but going nowhere. If you know Patten, you know he is the loudest quiet baby in the world. He is almost in a constant state of mild snoring wide awake or asleep. And on top of his wide-awake snoring, he has the hiccups. And it is pretty adorable. And my two dogs, Cindy-Lu (pit bull) and Roscoe (wire-haired terrier mutt) are ready to go outside but they are going to have to wait. I am not ready to disturb the peace. 
This is about as quiet as this house will ever be.

Shea (two year old son) almost never sleeps in his bed all night. We practically have a party on mornings where we wake him up from his Mickey Mouse Clubhouse bed. Those mornings are few and far between. But he is still under those Mickey Covers snuggled up to his Snoopy. My mind is still blown.
It's not like he was up super late or anything. Unfortunately he normally doesn't go to sleep until about 9 anyways. And last night he dozed off about that time. We were babysitting our friends' two little ones while they went out on a date because last weekend they did the same for us. 

Their little angels were both asleep at about 7:30 and 7:32. We put them in their cribs and walked out the door and they fell asleep on their own. Parenting points to the Carmos.

The Strauss family fell asleep on the Carmo couch at about 9, halfway through Toy Story. Love vet that movie!

Thats about all I've got to say this morning. Just sharing my giddiness at the rare morning in bed with whoever cares to listen. I think I will lay here until one of my darling boys forces me out of bed. 

2 minutes later...


Monday, September 14, 2015

Life in the Strauss House

Tonight I read The Seven Silly Eaters, by Mary Ann Hoberman, to Shea as he tried to fight off sleep. It paints a perfect picture of life as a mommy complete with very detailed illustrations of the chaos that is a growing family. We may only have two little munchkins but sometimes it feels like seven.  This little gem of a story inspired this peek into the Strauss house.

There is a couple, so they say
That once did live so far away
But from far to here they came
To Chattanooga to begin their game
It did not take too long to see
That she liked him and he liked she
Since the day he knew she felt the same
He knew he soon would share his name
And share he did, she became his wife
And slowly they began to build a life

And before her oven even held a bun
He proclaimed Shea as the name of their firstborn son
Shea isn't a name passed down through the fam
But instead reflects the obsession of a Met's fan
Now Shea may be just a regular son
In every way---except for some

When Shea was less than one year old
His favorite show was Jeopardy I'm told
He did not like cartoons like his peers
But instead "daily doubles" encited cheers
But Mommy and Daddy Strauss didn't mind
They found his obsession simply divine
When the show was over he'd sit on the floor
And look up at his parents and sign to them "more"
They'd take the remote from the shelf
And mumble softly to themselves 
"What a silly sort of way
Acts our goofy little Shea."

When our Shea was not yet two
We learned of baby number two
Was born---dear Patten, small and fair
With big blue eyes and nearly no hair
But before dear Patten could come home
Into the NICU he had to roam
Shea just did not understand why
He couldn't go home with this new little guy
He demanded Patten be removed from that bed
And promptly taken to "Shea's house" instead
A few days went by then they strapped Patten in
To his car seat that made him look far too thin
And it didn't take too long before
They settled in to life of a family of four

Life it got crazy but they didn't mind
Except Patten only would cry when they dined
All day long he stayed quiet or slept
And he was independent at all times expect....
For while his mommy and daddy were eating
That's when he decided that he would be needing
To cuddle, or cry, or eat, poop, or play
Or just about anything that would take them away
From whatever they had decided to cook up that day
His mommy and daddy shook their heads at each other and said
"What a silly needy sweetie,
Just as we begin our eating."

Now Patten grew, and Shea grew too
Til Patten was two months and Shea was two
And who was two months, why little Patten
With eyes dark blue and skin soft as satin
A happy baby, never cross
And his brother, Shea, became the boss

Shea he taught him all things crazy
As Patten laid there oh so lazy
And took in all the crazy things
That his silly brother liked to teach
Like wearing socks upon his hands
And where his batted wiffle ball lands
When hit with a maraca instead of a bat
Wearing a fire helmet instead of a baseball cap
And dancing correctly to the Nae-Nae and Whip
While demanding "no" and giving his parents lip
Their mom and dad looked down at Shea and said
"What are we going to do with you two,
When your brother starts doing all that you do?"

At times, a handful, were these two Strauss boys
With their mounds and mounds of Strauss toys
But all the cooking and the cleaning
Even left their parents beaming
They know it is worth all the mess and the stress
They look at their boys and know they are blessed
They hug each other and smile and say,
"Wouldn't have it any other way."

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Little Engine that CAN

Tonight, I decided to dig under the pile of hundreds of children's books that line the shelves in our living room and grab some "fresh literature" for the little 2-year-old "reader" of mine. We have read the same four books that he LOVES about 400 times and this mommy needed a change of scenery. 
We have read them to Shea so much that even he has most of the books memorized. I decided to add a little variety to our bedtime story routine. So I dug up one of my old favorites.
What "Hello, Mr. Met," is to Shea, "The Little Engine that Could," is to me. But tonight I read it through a different pair of eyes. I wasn't marveling at the colorful pages with no thought that each of those black scribbly lines was a letter that made up a word that told a story. I was just letting the story unfold before me. Tonight I was laying it out for my son. Tonight I read it through the eyes of a mother and a teacher. I think that is who Watty Piper (which is really just a pen name for Arnold Muck....save that in your Jeopardy answer bank) was writing it for, after all. He knew we moms and dads and teachers would be reading these to our students and learn a lesson that is way over the heads of our little listeners.
Here is my formal book review of "The Little Engine that Could."
This is the story of the little engines that have been placed in our hands to teach and inspire. 
This little engine come into the world so excited about what it had to bring.
It was filled with all things good and jolly. Of course, it isn't perfect. But it has so much good to bring to the world. And somewhere along the way something happens.
Somewhere it hits a bump or gets discouraged or fails and its wheels stop with a sudden jerk. It tries and tries to get those wheels going again, but they just won't.
Then a spiffy new train all shiny and gold, or a cute new friend or boyfriend or girlfriend, or a new teacher came along that think will give them the help they need to get moving again.
But that shiny new engine, or hot new guy or gal, or new favorite person decides they are too good for them. They think they have it all with their comfortable beds, and fancy cars,
and a more distinguished crowds, and nicer views.  And that engine filled with jolly things gets left behind until someone new comes along.
And someone does, someone big and strong. They start to think, "surely this one has enough to get me on track again."
But this person has been there and done that and already has their success story. They've played their part and reached their quota. They have the results to prove it-and data and certificates and medals and success stories to back it up. They have been there and done that. Their job here is done. And they get left behind again.
This gets them thinking they will never get up and running again. They will never get over the mountain that stands before them. And, "I can not. I can not. I can not," starts to ring in their heads.
Then along comes the LITTLE engine. The underdog shows up just in time. Then the LITTLE engine spots the one that has fallen through the cracks. It notices that sad little engine filled with jolly little toys and all things good. It stops in its tracks. 
That new engine that comes along doesn't have all the answers. It has never been over the mountain either. 
The little engine starts to think this job  is too big to handle. Then the engine remembered all of those wonderful things the engine in need had to share.
So she grabbed that engine all stuck in a rut and didn't stop pulling until that engine was unstuck.
They cheered each other on. They just kept saying together, "I think I can. I think I can." They didn't give up on each other.
Together they reached the mountaintop and saw all of the possibilities laid out before them. 
And the world is a better place for all that that engine had to bring. 
And as they made their way into the city they chanted together, "we knew we could, we knew we could."