Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Escalators and Mall Trains

The morning we left to go to the hospital to deliver Toren, I was an emotional wreck.
I was scared, I was anxious, I was excited, but I was also feeling guilty.

The guilt of bringing another baby into Landon's life had set in.
My sweet, Landon who had been receiving my undivided attention for the last 2.5 years was now going to have to "share" his mama.

I cried. A lot.

Immediately after Toren was born, I was already feeling the stress of balancing two kids.
Knowing how crucial the first few weeks of bonding with my newborn was, and wanting my two year old to not feel any less loved or important was almost more pressure than I was anticipating.

Luckily, and I truly mean we are so lucky, Landon adapted better than I could have ever imagined. It didn't take long for him to fall in love with his brother and he fully took on his roll of, big brother, with grace.

He has been loving, sweet, protective, and selfless from the beginning.
And even though he has handled this transition with such ease, I still feel the, "mommy guilt" as they call it.

I feel like I'm always telling Landon, "I'll play with you as soon as I'm done feeding Toren." or, "As soon as I put Toren to sleep, I'll get you a snack." or, "When I'm done changing Toren's diaper, we can go outside."

I don't intentionally put Toren first, he is just more needy and one of the best things about this new journey with two kids is, Landon understands that. He understands Toren needs a little more attention and he demonstrates such patience.

So, today because of all this, I decided I was going to take Landon out for the afternoon - just the two of us. Uninterrupted by his little brother who always seems to need something.

Naturally, we went to Chick fil A.

Landon has never been to any other fast food restaurant, besides subway. He doesn't even know what McDonalds is. In fact, a few weeks ago we went through a Steak and Shake drive through and he was so amazed when the lady handed us a milkshake through the window.

We like Chick Fil A and there is a play land, which I'm usually not a fan of.
1. They are infested with germs
2. Its pure chaos.

But, what the heck! Right?
He happily ate his lunch all while dancing in his seat because he could hardly contain his excitement for the play area that awaited him.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't at least consider getting the food to go and having a fun picnic in the back of the car (which we have done before), but I knew he would prefer the germy slide.

So, I took a breath, and opened the door to the play land and it was just as I remembered them being as a child. Loud, chaotic, and germy.

Did I mention the germs?

But he loved it, and surprisingly, there were some really sweet kids in there that Landon enjoyed playing with. He doesn't get a lot interaction with other kids besides from his friends at church and at story time, so its always interesting to watch him play with other kids.

I also learned the Chick Fil A play land is a hot spot for other stay at home moms.
I enjoyed talking with other moms and laughing at our crazy kids and the funny games they were coming up with.

We both surprisingly enjoyed ourselves!

And yes, we promptly washed our hands as soon as we left.

Our next stop was the mall and it wasn't to buy anything.
Landon loves escalators, so thats what we did.
We rode the escalator in Macy's for about twenty minutes and admired the Christmas decorations.

He was convinced there was something really exciting in this box that was actually part of a display.

And he was even more confused why this man wouldn't talk to him.

But the most exciting thing we did, was ride the mall train!
We see it every time we go to the mall, but we don't usually have time to ride it and not to mention it is pretty pricy for a five minute spin around crowds of people.

But, we splurged and you would have thought I took him to Disney World. 

We saw a Toy Story display, emoji pillows, and a huge Christmas Tree.
The Toy Story display was naturally his favorite.
And since we were having such a great time, we took one more ride on the escalator before we left.

On the way home, I asked him what his favorite part was and he said, "I like the train, but when is Toren going to get to ride it?"

Have I ever mentioned what a great brother he is?
He absolutely deserves some time with just his mama.

And I'll happily oblige.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Mommy War

If you know me, you know that I'm not a very competitive person. Its not really my personality to get mad over "losing" something or not being the best at something.

In highschool, I didn't participate in competitive sports. 

Playing the flute in the band is not exactly a cut throat activity.
Cheerleading was competitive in the sense that we did one local competition a year and even though practices consumed my summer, it wasn't exactly comparable to the movie, Bring It On.
I did enjoy running Track, and even though I ran as part of a team, (section champs, right ladies?!) I enjoyed competing against myself and own personal record. 

Its not in my nature to be competitive. 

Except now, I've entered into the most competitive environment I will probably ever be apart of. 
And no, I'm not talking about the volleyball league I occasionally play in. I only want to win those games because my brother in law is the most competitive person I've ever met. Sorry, are crazy. And great. 

I'm talking about the world of parenting. 

This video is a little extreme, but sadly, its pretty accurate too. You might think its ridiculous, but I've  first handily experience stuff like this!

I'd like to say that I don't participate in any of this nonsense, but I have to admit, even though I probably am not as verbal as some, in my head, I'm judgmental. 

I'm ashamed to admit it, but its true. 

I find myself wanting people to know how smart I think Landon is. I want him to be the first to answer questions at story time because I want others to experience his intelligence the way I get to every day. 
I want people to know I choose to breastfeed Toren and that I birthed him naturally. 

The list of things goes on and on and I didn't even realize I was doing it until I saw this video. Its a little lengthy, but it changed my perspective on how I view other parents. 

I admit that I subconsciously judge other mothers.
I've judged the mother who doesn't even attempt breastfeeding. How ignorant of me to judge someone without even knowing their reason. As if they even need a reason. 

I once read a story about a woman who choose to not breastfeed her baby because early in her life she had been molested. She was finally in a place where she felt like her body was her own and so she choose to bottle feed her baby. She said one of the hardest parts of being around other mothers, is the judgement she felt from those who breastfed their babies. She explained that nobody even cared to ask, why. 
Instead of looking down upon, lets be thankful that their are scientist who have created formula that can sustain the life of a human being. 
And lets be thankful the human body is able to produce nourishment.

I've judged the parents who choose to not vaccinate their children. 
I have my reasons why I vaccinate my kids, but others have their reasons why they choose not to, and some of those reasons are medical. 
Instead of the debate, what if we just agreed to disagree.

I've made it a point to myself and subconscious to be less judgmental and less competitive. 

I want to be a woman who is encouraging to other mothers, because lets be real, motherhood is tough! Of course, it is rewarding, but it truly is the hardest, most challenging task we face.

Lets be a sounding board for each other.
Lets be less judgmental and more understanding.
Lets ask questions to gain more self knowledge. 

We don't have to face it alone. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Its 6am

Babies are exhausting. 
Especially when they seem to be on a sleeping strike that starts every night at 4am.

But sometimes, at 6am, regardless of how much you want to sleep, you pick him up out of his crib and you simply hold him close to your warm body.

He immediately snuggles into you, relaxes, and falls into a deep sleep. And against better judgement and regardless of the fact that letting your baby sleep with you was one of the things you said you would never do, you take him back into to bed with you and you melt into the warmness of the blankets.

You look at his sweet face and hold his tiny, yet ever growing, body and you realize something. 

You realize in just a few short years, that will pass in what will seem like record time, instead of holding him in your arms, you will be fighting him to wake up for school.

Instead of bringing him back to the warm blankets, you'll be getting him dressed, fed, and rushing out the door just to make it to school on time.

You'll drop him off and watch him walk to the door, without you, and you'll wish you could go back to the nights where he refused to sleep unless he was in your arms.

You'll want to go back to those sleepy grins and even the hours where he cries for absolutely no reason at all.

And regardless of how exhausted you are at 6am, you do your best to soak in every moment. 

The moments where he is easy to love and the moments where you feel like you are at the very end of your patients.

But this morning, at 6am, you rest in knowing that for at least right now, you get to hold him. 
You get to breathe him in and watch his little eyelids flutter as he dreams. 

And you realize something else.
You realize that even though you long for just one night of uninterrupted sleep, you wouldn't trade this moment for anything.

You wouldn't trade this moment for anything because you know that all too soon, moments like these, will come to an end.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Toren Asher Kleeberger

Tyler and I had always debated about finding out the gender of our children before they were born.
I loved the idea of being surprised.
Tyler, however, is a planner and thought if we found out, we would be better prepared.
These thoughts were all before Landon was born.

Everything (literally) about Landon was a surprise. If you need a refresher, here is the story of Landon's birth day 

So after Landon was born, we both agreed when the time came to have another baby, we would find out everything possible, including the gender. It just made sense to us. If we could get any information on the baby - we wanted it. Do you blame us?

The discussion of having another baby was never even spoken of until Landon was about a year and a half. To be honest, I wasn't even sure if I wanted another baby. After all, I loved Landon so much, I never thought I would be able to love another child like I loved him.

It wasn't until early fall of 2014 that talk of another baby started.
I remember the exact day and exactly where we were when we both finally agreed that we were ready for another baby.

We had taken a trip to Traverse City.

We were driving back to the place we were staying. We had just hiked Sleeping Bear Dunes (not an easy task with a 1.5 year old). And Tyler, happily said, "I think we are ready for another baby." I agreed. And so did Landon! After all, he got some say in this decision, too!

I took this picture when we told him that he may eventually have a little brother or sister. 
Can't you see the excitement on his face?

It took us a few months, but we eventually had success and we were thrilled. 

I was excited to experience pregnancy and we were both excited to find out the gender of our baby. 

Tyler thought it would be fun to have a girl because then "we would be symmetrical" (his quote, not mine). I was honestly indifferent, but maybe secretly wanted another boy since that what was familiar to me. 

We found out it was a girl, and we were both thrilled!
We named her and began thinking about what she was going to be like. I refrained from buying every adorable outfit I saw, but always browsing the stores for things I just couldn't pass up. I began planning what her room was going to look like and we started preparing Landon for his little sister, encouraging him to call her by name. He caught on very quickly and would even talk to her through my belly.

Speaking of my belly, it actually grew this time:

18 weeks

20 Weeks

25 Weeks

27 Weeks

30 Weeks

35 Weeks

And despite having some pregnancy complications, we were excited to begin raising a baby girl. 

Except the baby girl we had been calling by name and creating an identity for, had other plans. 

Delivery day arrived and I was more than ready for this baby to reside elsewhere. 

After Landon was born, I told Tyler I wanted to have our next baby without an epidural. That all sounds great and magical, except when you are actually in the middle of a horrible contraction and you realize you are actually going to push a baby out of your body - then you think twice about your decision. It didn't even matter that the nurse told me it would take longer for the anesthesiologist to get to my room than if I would just start pushing and get the baby out. Easy for her to say...

But, after much encouragement from Tyler, my doctor, the nurses around me, and a lot of will power and determination, I made the final decision to deliver this baby completely naturally - without an epidural. 

As I'm pushing, I'm hearing everyone saying, "Here she comes. She is almost here. One more push." And after about 15 minutes (15 minutes is amazing, but it felt like 15 hours) of this, the baby girl was finally out. 

Except, the baby girl wasn't a girl at all. This baby was, in fact, a screaming, healthy, boy. 

As soon as he was out, I knew. 
Because of my positioning, I was the first one to see and I yelled, "Its a boy!" I kept saying it over and over again - I think I was trying to convince myself he was a boy and not a girl. 

7lbs 12oz and 20inches long

A healthy, beautiful boy. 

We had talked about a few boy names before we had found out the gender. 
Tyler actually came up with the name, Toren. I liked it because it was different, but nothing outrageous.

And just like that, we became a family of four.

Our hospital visit was pretty short. Toren and I were both healthy and had no recovery complications, so there was no reason to stay. Of course we were happy to be going home, but honestly, I was scared to death.

It felt a lot different when we took Landon home.
We really had no idea what we were doing or really what to expect. Tyler and I had been around babies to know the basics, but its a lot different when the baby is actually your complete responsibility.

Taking Toren home was a different kind of scared.
We were taking him home to join his two year old brother who still thought he was a girl and is going to require our attention and entertainment, all while caring for a newborn.

I knew the first thing I wanted to do when I got home, was empty out the girl clothes and replace them with what I had left of Landon's newborn clothes.
I needed to do this.
It was another step in moving forward with my, now, little boy whom I thought was going to be a girl.

The first few hours were completely overwhelming.

One of the first things Landon said when we got in the door was, "I think Toren wants to go bye bye." Which is a funny thing to look back on now, but it wasn't so funny in that overwhelming moment.

Toren needed fed and Landon wanted to be with me at all times. So, he joined us.

It wasn't that I didn't want to be around Landon, I was just too physically and emotionally exhausted to answer one thousands questions, including questions about what and how Toren was eating. 

Tyler was just as overwhelmed as I was and we both agreed that Landon was going to have an early bedtime. We just needed time to process what was going on.

After we got Landon to bed and we finally got to sit down, I sobbed.

I cried for at least twenty minutes.

I cried because I was overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed at the fact that my once easy, rhythmic life with just one chid, was over. How was I going to give Landon enough attention? When was I going to play with him? Was he going to think I didn't love him as much as I used to? I had these thoughts long before that moment, but now it was a reality that I was scared to face.

I cried because this baby that I thought was a girl was actually boy. I wasn't upset because he was a boy and it wasn't that I wanted a girl so badly that I was sad or angry he was a boy, I cried because I felt like I had to mourn the loss of a child. Which I know probably sounds like a really selfish thing to say because I am sure losing a child is absolutely unbearable, but we had created an image of what this little girl was going to be like - look like, and she never showed up. It was like she disappeared. I had even been journaling throughout my pregnancy in hopes of giving the journal to her someday when (and if) she ever got pregnant.

I cried because I felt like I didn't even know who Toren was. I didn't feel a connection with him and I was having a hard time grasping who he was. I almost felt like he wasn't mine, even though he was the baby growing in my womb this whole time.

I also probably cried because I just had a baby and crazy things happen to your mind and body when you have a baby.

And above everything else, I felt completely guilty for the feelings I was feeling.
I should be feeling so thankful for birthing another healthy baby.

You hear stories of the instant love mothers feel as soon as they see and hold their baby for the first time. And I think this is why I was feeling so guilty. It wasn't that I didn't love this baby that I just gave birth to, I just wasn't really expecting the baby I was given.

It took some time....

I intentionally spent as much time as I possibly could just Toren and me.

Studying him, breathing him in, and accepting the reality that it was him this whole time.
It was Toren growing in my womb. It was him kicking me from the inside. It was him who turned me against Chipotle and Oreos. It was him that Tyler and I created.

Its been a little over a month now, and I can happily say we have adjusted really well.

Toren is so sweet and so lovable. 

He nurses so well and has from the very beginning.
He sleeps better than I was expecting him to. He is waking up every three or four hours to eat and then he goes right back to sleep.
He is easily soothed and is content just being held close to you. 

He is wonderful and I love him more than I thought possible.
I'm honored that I have been given this baby boy to watch grow and help guide.

I know he has a purpose and he is going to do great things for the world. 
I'm just lucky enough to get to experience it as his Mama.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I'm Back!

I haven't written (publicly) since I announced that we were expecting another baby.
That feels like an eternity ago.
Maybe thats because so much has happened since then - the biggest thing being welcoming a sweet, baby boy into the world.

Just to update you a little bit on what has been happening the past 10 months:

Landon is a little over 2.5. Can you believe that? I can't.

I can't believe he is going to be THREE in December. We are going to have a three year old and it blows my mind how fast the past three years have gone.
He is the sweetest, funniest, gentlest, loving, most polite (and most talkative) little guy I know.
He is also stubborn, demanding, and throws tantrums for absolutely no reason at all!
He is completely wonderful and growing up so fast

He has handled the past 10 months with such ease.
When we found out there was a tear in my placenta, I was ordered to not lift anything over 10lbs. This included my toddler who just so happens to be a mama's boy and would typically want to be carried around, everywhere, by me.
After explaining to him that mama wasn't going to be able to carry him until his (at the time little sister) was born, he seemed to mature in record time. Everyday he would say, "No no, Mama, you can't pick me up. Your belly hurts." He always made sure I had everything I needed, and everything I didn't, including plastic food and matchbox cars. He even started helping around the house by taking his dishes to the sink and helping put the dishes away after they were washed.

Then! His little brother was born.

I was honestly expecting it to be a disaster. Landon is such a Mama's boy, I was sure he would immediately dismiss another baby in the house.
I was completely wrong.
He has embraced his little brother with such love. He is constantly asking, "Where is Toren? Can I hold him? I like him. I'm a big brother!"
It melts my heart watching Landon love his brother.


Tyler is still the pastor at Metamora United Methodist Church. The church is doing awesome and growing every week. There are so many struggles that come with being married to a pastor and I have such respect for other pastor's wives - but with the struggles comes a great sense of pride. I am so proud of Tyler and what he is doing for this church and for the community of Evergreen.

The past few months have not been easy. He took on so much responsibility when I wasn't able to do the things I normally take care of. He turned into a pastor, football coach, stay at home dad, housekeeper, and chef. I couldn't have made it without him.

He is also a football coach for the Evergreen Vikings. He loves it and he is good at it.
Landon loves it too - Tyler takes him to practice all the time and he even gets to go on the field at the end of games.

I can't think of too many dad's who would be able to entertain/watch their two year old at practice, all while devoting time and energy to his players. He is pretty amazing.

And the biggest thing to happen in our lives has been this little guy:

Toren Asher Kleeberger

I'm sure most of you have heard by now - Toren was supposed to be a girl, but he came out and surprised us by being a boy! (Toren's birth story will be coming soon!)

We are completely in love with him and he is wonderful.

And me?
I've been trying to adjust to having two babies instead of one. I'm not going to lie - it has been a bit of an emotional struggle. Call it hormones or whatever you want, but it hasn't been bliss (more about this later, too).

I'm hoping to use this blog more consistently as an outlet for real, relatable, honest thoughts. I think far too often people only share the really happy and positive things that make their lives seem perfect (which I will still be sharing plenty of). I want this to be a space that demonstrates what my real life of being married to a pastor/football coach and a mama of two little boys, actually looks like.

Feel free to hold me accountable ;-)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Surprise We Get To Wait For

Dear Tiny Human Inside My Body,

You are only the size of a strawberry, but you are already so loved. I don't feel like we know each other very well yet, but you have your suttle ways of letting me know you are there. You have already turned me against Oreos and you are working on turning me against Chipotle, which you may or may not realize, but these are (were) my two favorite foods. I'm hoping this is just temporary.

For the next eight months, the two of us are going to start getting to know each other. You may think I'm already a pro at the whole - being pregnant thing, but this pregnancy feels like my first. This sounds confusing, because you have an older brother! Someday, you will understand what I'm talking about. Lets just say, you have made yourself known way before Landon decided to. But don't worry, we will learn together and I will do everything possible to keep you safe and prepare you to enter into this world as a healthy, beautiful, baby.

This is your Papa!

He is the best, hardest working man I know. He was so excited when I told him you existed. He is fun, loving, smart, and will make sure the two of us are raising you the way we need to. You will soon learn, he is the best in the world at swaddling! 

This is your big brother!

He is two and full of energy. Believe it or not, he understands your existence. Every day he points to my belly and says, "Baby in there? Mama have baby?" Now, whether or not he knows what he is in for by gaining a sibling, is a mystery, but he knows you are in there. And he thinks you are a girl! If we ask him if he is going to have a brother or a sister, he responds, "Sister! A girl!" Maybe you are a girl, or maybe he thinks you are a girl because Daniel The Tiger's mama had a girl. He is a special little boy, maybe its his intuition.

Speaking of gender, I think we are indifferent. Part of me thinks it would be fun to have all little boys! But another part of me would love to have girl! I loved having a big brother growing up and I'm sure Landon would be great with a little sister (and he may not have to share his cars as much).

This is me, your mama.

You are only nine weeks into development, but I already can't wait for your arrival. I can't wait to see what you will look like and what your personality will be. I'll do my best to figure out what calms you down the fastest and we will hopefully fall into a nursing routine as soon as possible. I promise to make you feel safe, encourage you, and to love you unconditionally. 

I feel like I have so much time to prepare for your arrival. 8 WHOLE MONTHS! When Landon was born, I only had eight hours. You are both, already, so wonderfully different. I can't wait to see the two of you interact. I'm sure he will teach you how to stack blocks, and how to run cars down the batman ramp. He will also teach you how to be a picky eater and how to dump water out of the bathtub (which is a sure way to end your bath time just as fast as it started). 

You have so much to learn, but the best thing for you to do now, is to continue to grow into a strong, healthy human being. I can't wait to see how both of us change and develop in the upcoming months. 

The Owner Of The Stomach You Are Currently Renting
Aka: Mama

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Baby Doll For Christmas

A month or so ago, Landon and I went with Tyler to a church meeting. Of course, we didn't actually attend the meeting...we spent our time in the play area. This particular church has an awesome kids area. There is a slide, a play kitchen, and basically any toy you could ever want to play with. Landon loves it! And I was taken by surprise when he spent most of his time playing with a baby doll.

He was carrying it around saying, "shh shh shhhh" in the same tone and pattern Tyler and I used to use to get him to go to sleep. He would then loudly announce, "baby sleep!" And then he would pick up the bottle and say, "its hot!" and then he would place it in the fridge for a few seconds before feeding it to the doll. After feeding the doll, he would take the doll and lay it in the crib and say, "Sleep. Goodnight." It was adorable.


Of course we will need to work on how to properly carry a baby...

On the way home, I told Tyler everything and told him I wanted to buy him a baby doll for Christmas. Thankfully, Tyler didn't respond with a - no way is my son going to get a baby doll for Christmas. He immediately agreed it was a good idea.

So, last night, as part of our annual December 9th date, we did some Christmas shopping for Landon. Along with car ramps and Toy Story things, we set out to find a baby doll. I was thinking just a plain, rubber doll would be easy to find. I was wrong. We stood and stared at a wall of baby dolls for at least twenty minutes trying to decide which one to get. I had no idea it would be so hard to find a baby doll that didn't pee, or cry, or talk in a creepy voice. Finally we found what we were looking for. 

Who came up with the idea of "boy toys" and "girl toys." It is very obvious that certain toys are supposed to be for certain genders. There is a little girl holding the doll on this box! Where is the box with a little boy feeding the doll the bottle? Or where is the box with the little girl playing with the hot wheels cars? Who's says a boy can't want a baby doll or a girl can't want some matchbox cars?

I don't want Landon to only love cars, and tractors, trains, and the things society says a little boy should like. If he enjoys playing with baby dolls, then we will encourage it. I also want Landon to know a "manly" man is not a man with muscles that hunts and build's big things, and drives huge trucks. Those things are all fine, but they don't define a real man. In my opinion, a real man loves and nurtures as well as a woman. 

And who knows, maybe this baby will help prepare him for a future sibling. Starting with not carrying them around by their arms ;-)