My baby isn’t easy

Maybe I believed the hype. The hype that I was now a pro at this mommy thing. Everyone, and I mean everyone from my mom, to my best friend, to my college roommate, to my hair dresser, to the lady that bags my groceries, to the elderly man that stopped me in the parking lot. They ALL said I would do great with my fourth baby, “Ah, he’ll be so easy!”

Well, either they lied, or I just forgot what the heck I was doing. Because my newest, and probably most adorable addition, is anything but easy.

newborn baby

 Photo by Katie Evans Photography

He’s fussy, irritable, and unsettled. He’s colicky, constipated, and constantly hungry. He spits up, drools, and soaks four outfits daily. He sleeps when he’s held and only if he’s held. He knows the difference between when I sit and when I stand. He’d prefer I stand. He’d especially prefer I stand between the hours of 3 pm and 11 pm. Then when I have finally bounced and swayed and swung just the right lullaby to put him to sleep, there is a cry or a scream or most likely both from one of the other three children I didn’t have time to parent that day, thus repeating the never-ending cycle of bounce-sway-sing.

One desperate afternoon, after I picked up my son and his friend from preschool, I ventured out into the real world and took them, my daughter and the baby to Target to buy these “Colic Drops” I heard about. So there I was, with four kids, none older than four, still in the sweats I wore the night (and day) before, scanning through the baby aisles to find a little box that offered me a smidge of hope that my boy would feel just a tiny bit better. Then I found them… or at least where they were supposed to be. Out. Of. Stock. I froze. I think I yelled, “NOOOO!” a little louder than I intended. My son’s friend looked at me and said, “are you gonna cry?” I sure as heck wanted to. I wanted to sit on my butt, in that very aisle, with my head in my hands and blubber like a little baby until someone found me and said, “Honey, are you okay? Here, have some chocolate.”

Over the last three-plus months, I have averaged a hot shower, alone, once a month. I have learned to pee while simultaneously holding a baby and rocking back and forth. My kids have had a bologna sandwich… okay, there’s been no time for bread, they’ve had bologna slices for lunch five days a week. By the time I eat, it’s two o’clock and my lunch has been reheated four different times. Most significantly, I’ve only yelled at my husband once. Well, only once when he was actually around to hear it. Considering the circumstances, I think that puts me in the running for Wife of the Year Century.

I will admit, there is one thing I am a pro at by now, and that’s getting out the door. Granted, two-fifths of us are properly clothed and cleaned, but I do lug that carseat around like a boss. While out and about, I am frequently asked, “Is he a good baby?” I’m not sure strangers are really prepared for my answer…

Yeah, he’s good at being a baby. He’s seriously good at it. Like seriously so good that I will never, EVER need to have another baby again.

The other night when my baby woke up fighting mad, I picked him up, placed him on my chest, rubbed his back and sleepily shushed just trying to get a few more minutes before I had to ensue our bounce-sway-sing routine. That sweet little baby moved his head, pushed his legs back and fourth and somehow wiggled all the way down to my belly. He let out one loud sigh, and then he was still. Asleep. He slept for three solid hours. Just like that.

So I guess I didn’t forget how to do this mommy thing entirely…

My little Sean baby, you’ve kept me up late, woke me up early, covered me in your spit-up, and kept me on my feet since the moment we brought you home. You’ve made me dig deep into that mama toolbox of mine to find the one trick that will stick (I’m still digging by the way). But you have these eyes, these big bright eyes that look up at me and into my soul. Oh yes, little Sean baby, you are SO easy to love!

XO- Mommy

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Welcome to the Hall of Fame

The Drake Relays bring thousands of people out to watch a track meet. America’s Athletic Classic, they call it. The aroma of turkey legs and popcorn. The white tents lining the entrance to the big blue track. The bang of the starting gun and the roar of applause. It all smells, looks and sounds just like I remember.

But it’s different now. Amidst the thousands of fans, the big blue oval feels a little empty. I miss my dad. I feel his absence more this time of year than at any other, even three years later. The Relays were our thing. It is hard to do our thing when it’s just me.

Our place was The Big Blue Oval. Whether rain, snow or sun, the last weekend in April, dad and I would be together at The Drake Relays. As a kid, he’d take me down on the field and help me get autographs of all the professional runners. When competing in high school and college, my name always followed the intro, “The daughter of the Iowa State Coach, Steve Lynn.” He joked that soon he’d be known as “Erica’s father.”

Coach Lynn-Drake Relays- Iowa State-preachteach

Drake Relays in 2006. I had just completed the heptathlon and dad was the first to tell me I had qualified for the NCAA’s

Then I grew up and became a coach. Dad sat next to me with his video camera, taking splits, and encouraging me that my girls would do great. After their race, he’d always give me his, ‘I’m proud of you hug.’ The one where he reached one arm around, grabbed my shoulder, pulled me in closer and then patted me on the back. We often imagined what fun it would be when my kids were big enough to run at The Relays. “It’ll be here before you know it,” he’d say.

At our last Relays together, I remember so clearly siting in the stands as my dad had, by no surprise, found someone he knew to talk to. As I sat back while he conversed, I got lost in thinking about dad, his career, and that someday he would probably be recognized for all he accomplished. In that moment, I remember feeling excitement for that day to come. My dad was the most humble man, well maybe aside from his father (my grandpa), that I have ever known. Even at the end of his career, he never made it about himself.

Tomorrow, my family and dad’s track family, get to celebrate for him. He is being honored into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame. When my mom got the phone call she was told, “This wasn’t a gift. Steve earned this honor.”

I am so proud of my dad. He worked so hard. He coached with such passion and love. There is just something gratifying in knowing others know what you know about someone you love so deeply. I am happy all his athletes and coaches get to re-live something they did together. There are so many great memories. I am honored to once again be ‘The daughter of Coach Steve Lynn.”

While I am so incredibly happy for my dad, and so thankful for this honor, I can’t help but go back to that day in the stands longing for this moment. I really wanted him to enjoy this recognition. I wanted him to re-live those moments. I wanted to hear the stories he would tell (because he had quite a few). Man, if I could hear just one more of his stories…

My dad, Coach Lynn, loved the sport of track and field. He loved that The Drake Relays celebrated not just the sport but the kids who ran, jumped and threw. Because he loved it, I love it. While that void will always linger, I am happy that this year we get to celebrate him at the place he loved so much.

Congrats, Dad! I am so proud of you!

XOXO- Erica

What is my next step?

While I’ve been on a maternity break from anything PreachTeach (well… anything for that matter), I have been putting serious (although sleep-deprived) thought into my future as The Preach Teach.

When I started this blog (Read my first post here), it was more for the purpose of keeping my feet wet in the teaching world. I was a new stay-at-home-mom and struggling to keep, or even to find my identity outside of being just a mom.

But then my blog evolved, because I evolved. Life happened. Being the Preach Teach provided me an avenue to question and wonder, to testify and proclaim, to laugh at my children and myself. Preach Teach has helped me to grieve, heal, and celebrate.

preachteach-now

I am grateful for the encouragement of my family, friends, and those of you who do life along with me. Since I have changed, I feel it is important that I better identify what the Preach Teach really is.

Before Preach Teach, I saw my future in a puffy-painted sweatshirt surrounded by smiling elementary children. Now, I see myself speaking to other moms who aren’t trying to be perfect, just trying to be better. Or to daughters who have had time frozen by the loss of a parent. Or to teachers and coaches who need a simple reminder that it is the kid that matters most. I’m not saying I have all the answers, or any answers for that matter. But Preach Teach has helped me see a different part of myself. A purpose that was maybe written for me before I even started typing.

So to all my family, friends, and faithful readers, I’d like to know what you think. What do I preach? What do I teach? What is it that PreachTeach provides for you? 

Maybe if I know what I’m doing now, I can better decide where I should go…

Thank you for being here with me!

XO-Erica

Chocolate or Poop? Chocolate or Poop?!

Chocolate or poop? Chocolate or poop?

One of my favorite lines to recite from the movie Baby Mama

Baby Mama movie

Never did I think I’d be asking the question to myself… although, I have scolded, “We don’t poop on the rock!” So really, nothing should surprise me at this point…

I am still getting used to this having two babies thing. Technically, at 22 months my daughter is a toddler, but she is still in diapers, and still wears footie jammies. So the way I see it, she’s a baby. I have a baby and a newborn. A newborn son and a climbing, running, “I do it myself” demanding baby-ish daughter.

Over the past four weeks, we have spent the majority of our day confined to the living room as my butt seems to be permanently glued to the couch nursing a hungry (slightly fussy) newborn. My daughter occupies her time playing LEGOs, emptying my Tupperware drawer and her sock drawer, climbing the kitchen counters, and eating granola bars. This day, she happened to be engaged with an episode of her other obsession, Paw Patrol, on the iPad which was conveniently sitting next to me. I myself was guiltily enjoying my DVR’d episode of The Bachelor. One baby nursing, the other finishing up her chocolate cookie.

Wait, she didn’t have a cookie. Maybe she had a granola bar?

What is it she is trying to wipe off of her hands…

… and onto the iPad

… and onto the couch

… and onto my leg?

No. Nope. No. She didn’t have any chocolate!

Chocolate or Poop? Chocolate or Poop?!

As I watch my daughter reach her hand back into the butt of her pants it finally hit me, POOP! That is most definitely not chocolate, it is poop.

Now you may think this is the worst of it. A daughter covered in poop. Poop residue lingering on my iPad, couch, pants and carpet. My friend, that is not the worst part. The worst part is I have ONE hand to try and grab her. To try and make her stop reaching into her pants to bring out more poop. One hand to try and stop her from spreading poop any place she comes in contact with. The worst part, is I have a teeny tiny little baby latched on and chugging away.

The advice echoes through my head:

“Never wake a sleeping baby.”

“Let him eat when he is hungry.”

“Make sure to let him tell you when he’s full.”

But what if his sister is covered in POO…

What would you do in this situation? What would you do if it happened TWICE in one day?! (True story!).

This IS real life people!

XO- Erica

Two years since goodbye

Dear Dad,

I think of you when I look at my kids. I yearn to hear you laugh at the crazy things they do. I wish you’d stop by the house and take us out for lunch. I still feel I should leave an empty chair for you at their activities or birthdays. You were always a couple minutes late but prepared with your video camera. I wish you weren’t a memory to them. I wish you weren’t a story.

I think of you when I take the back roads. You taught me how to blow a bubble while on a car trip. You practiced my spelling words with me as you drove me to school. We jammed out to Garth Brooks while driving to Louisiana. We were in the car a lot. You in the driver’s seat, me right next to you. You loved to go the back way home. The atlas was your friend. You seemed to take pride in finding the road less traveled. I wish we could have one more car ride.

I think of you when I pass a golf course. Growing up, if you weren’t home, you were at the course. I never understood it. Golf bored me (still does). You’d always say, “Track’s my job. Golf’s my game.” You’d golf to clear your mind. You’d golf to be with friends. You’d golf for reasons I may never understand. I miss your passion. I wish I’d have let you teach me how to play. dad golfing

I think of you through any sports season. I can hear you yell. I can hear you argue. I can see you texting all your friends to either heckle them because their team lost, or to dispute some BS call. But it’s track season where I really miss you. The track just feels a little empty without you there. You were the smartest coach I ever met. I wish you were still there with me.

Just the other night, I walked into my bedroom to find Tony rocking Brooklynn to sleep. This is rare. She usually wants Mommy. Tony said he had to fight her for five minutes, but she eventually caved and let Daddy sing her songs. I stood there and watched the two of them cuddled in that rocking chair as she dozed off to sleep. A daddy and his little girl. I was proud because I know how lucky she is. How lucky she is to have a daddy to run to, a daddy to protect her, a daddy to love her unconditionally.

I thought of you in that moment. I missed you, but I was so grateful for you. Grateful you were there for me. Grateful you allowed me to be who I am. Grateful you were my role model. I was so grateful to have a daddy to have loved.

It’s been two years since we said goodbye. I think I’ll always wish you were here but I’m forever thankful that you were there when a little girl needed her daddy the most.

Love you and miss you,

Erica

I still miss him

January 11.

It’s a date I’ll never forget. A date that put a before and after in my life.

Two years ago, on this date, my dad fell. For a week, I floated on a cloud of surrealness, fear and hope.

A few months ago, my husband and I got to hear our good friend, Adam, share his testimony. Adam read a poem he had written to his father whom he lost when he was young. As he read the poem he penned all those years ago, he cried. His words were beautiful, but it was his tears that struck me. Slapped me, even.

I love my dad’s story. I hate how he died. I hate when he died. But I love his story. I love that a stubborn, short-tempered, and sometimes outspoken small town guy, loved people from all walks of life, worked tirelessly even when unappreciated, and showed up when it mattered.

I miss that about him. I remember it fondly. I share it frequently.

But I was still floating. Hoping that someday the sadness wouldn’t be there. The hurt, the void, the absence of my dad wouldn’t be present anymore. That all his good works and great stories would be all I would hold onto. I realized, however, listening to Adam share his story of losing his father, that I was, without awareness, really, searching for a place that does not exist.

engraved memory jewelry

A Christmas gift from my mom. She found notes from my dad and had his signature engraved on a necklace for me and a money clip for my husband.

Yes, with time there does come peace and comfort. But the loss is still very present. The before and after line does not erase. I have learned that great loss means there was great love.

I had an amazing father for almost 30 years. Whether it is two years or twenty years from the last time we spoke, I will always miss him.

All sorrows can be borne if you put them in a story or tell a story about them, Isak Dinesen.

Love you, Dad! Miss you!

XO-Erica

Introducing Our Last Baby

Welcome to the world, Sean Jacob. baby-sean

God’s gracious gift.

The meaning behind our baby’s name could not be more true. At 7 pounds 13 ounces and 20 inches long, our New Years Eve baby is truly a perfect and gracious gift.

Every good and perfect gift is from above. James 1:17

Our last baby has made us a family of six. Bring on the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the tattling, and the endless sibling squabbles. We are ready! Well most of us… family-of-six

XO- Erica