Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Noah

My Dearest Noah,

Tomorrow you will be three years old. I can not believe how fast the time has gone by. I still remember holding you in the hospital after you were born, marveling at the amazingly fuzzy little head you had. I remember Georgia meeting you for the first time, holding you and trying to feed you a bottle.

And now you are a truly amazing not-so-little boy. In so many, many ways. You are, of course, adorable. Your blonde hair, dark brown eyes, and eyelashes that are a mile long help you charm your way out of almost anything. I also love, love, LOVE that you are a cuddle-bug. You could sit in my arms all day long and cuddle, and sometimes that is exactly what mommy needs. You have always been a lovey-dovey little guy, and I hope it never changes. I hope in a few years you are still asking mommy to "give me a cuddle" in that cute Noah voice.

You are also unbelievable smart. Seriously. I can not believe some of the things that you know. You not only know all of your letter, and recognize upper and lower case, but you also know all of the letter sounds. You know what vowels are. You are starting to sound out 3-letter words! Really? You are starting to read! At THREE!! You also know numbers and shapes and colors and patterns and basic addition. And the vocabulary that you have.....well, sometimes I wish that was not as good as it is.

I love that you adore your older sister. And I am sure she is the reason that you have learned so many things at such a young age. You have to keep up with Georgia. You follow her around and want to play with her all the time. You are happy to be her "student" when she is the "teacher," as long as she is nice about things. But you know how to stick up for yourself when she is just being plain old bossy.

I love that you are so sweet and caring with your little brother Sam. You love to hug and cuddle him, and especially to make him laugh. And he loves to laugh with you! I was very worried that you would not take well to a new baby in our family, as you quite enjoyed being the baby for two and a half years. But you have been a wonderful big brother, and I am sure you will continue to take care of and watch out for Sam for many years to come.

I love that you love cars (or any vehicle, really.) I mean, LOVE cars. You can entertain yourself for hours with a box of matchbox cars, trains, trucks, etc. You have a tremendous imagination, and you make up the funniest little stories about your cars. I love to sit in the kitchen and listen to you play in the other room, making your cars and trucks go on all sorts of adventures.

Noah, I am so lucky and blessed to have you as my not-so-little boy. You have certainly challenged me as a mom, especially during the past year, but you have also brought me such happiness and joy. And you have made me laugh. Oh, how you make me laugh!

You are a phenomenal boy. I am so excited to celebrate your birthday with you and our family this weekend, and to celebrate many, many more birthdays down the road. I can't wait to see what lies ahead for you in the next few years.

I hope you know how much you are loved and treasured.

Happy Birthday my buddy.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Unspeakable Loss

It is that time of year when we start taking stock and thinking of the things that we are grateful for in our lives. Over the past few (insanely stressful and psychotic) weeks I have been thinking a lot about about how lucky I am, and in so many ways. So I do have many things that I will be thankful for in a few days when we sit down around our dining room table to have a wonderful meal with our family.

Unfortunately, this is also the time of year that we remember things and people that we miss, losses that we have had. I have spent just as significant an amount of time missing many things this past month or so. Due to our living situation I missed the birth of my niece, my baby sister’s first child. I have been missing my grandfathers, who have both passed away. I have been missing the time I am unable to spend with my grandmother, who is on hospice and has very little time left with us. I am also missing the amazing woman who she used to be, and is no longer. But one loss has been creeping around in my head for the past 18 months, and it rears its ugly head now and then with enough emotional force to make me sob. It is a loss that seems to be something unspeakable in our society, yet so many people experience it. So now it is time for me to talk about it, and try to exorcise this demon that has been haunting me.

I had a miscarriage.

There. I said it. No, wait. It should be said again, shouted even.


It is something that is only talked about in whispered voices, if it is even talked about at all. And it should be talked about more, it NEEDS to be talked about more. So that is why I am talking.

I found out I was pregnant in the first week or so of May 2008. It was my third pregnancy, we were excited and we shared the news with our family members. I had had two healthy and uneventful pregnancies before, and had no reason to think anything might go wrong, so why not tell everyone. I was 5 weeks along. I went about my business, we traveled to a friend’s wedding, same old same old. When I was 9 weeks, and a couple of days before my first OB appointment, I started spotting. I called my mom, a nurse, and told her. I called the doctor on call who said to rest, drink lots of water, and see how the evening went. The next morning things were worse, and I went to see my OB. The worst part was that the staff treated me as a new OB patient. So here I was, freaking out that I might be miscarrying, and they were (innocently) handing me welcome bags full of pre-natal vitamins and pregnancy magazines. I was sent for an ultrasound (alone, which was a huge mistake in retrospect), by which time I was fairly certain I had had a miscarriage, and it confirmed my fears. I had lost my baby. And I started to cry, uncontrollably.

In my head I couldn’t understand why I was SO upset. I mean, I was only 9 weeks along. I hadn’t felt the baby move, I didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, it was barely the size of a peanut. But I WAS upset, broken-hearted even. I was extremely emotional about it. I felt liked my body was aching. It was awful, and something I hope to never experience again in my life.

Now, it was perfectly normal to be upset, and I knew this. But for some reason I felt ashamed about the whole thing. I remember that there was something going on that next weekend where I was going to see a lot of my family. And I was so ashamed of myself, felt so stupid that I had told all these people that I was pregnant and now I had to tell them that I wasn’t. My mom and my sister had let a lot of people know, thankfully, so I was spared the agony of bursting the happy “oh, you must be so excited!” bubble. I just remember dreading seeing everyone, and having to feel like a fool. But instead, something very surprising happened.

One by one, I began to find out about all of these people, both family and friends, that had been through the exact same thing. Some lost a baby earlier on, like me, and some had to endure the unbearable trauma of losing a child at 14 or 16 or 19 weeks. I knew about a couple people, but most I didn’t. How on earth did I not know any of this? Well, I think all of those people felt just like I did. Because they didn’t tell me what they had been through in a conversation. They told me in hushed voices in the corner of the room, or whispered it in my ear when they hugged me a few minutes longer than normal. They also felt like it was something that shouldn’t be talked about.

I went on to get pregnant again about 3 months later, and then to give birth to a beautiful and healthy baby boy in April 2009. I can’t imagine not having him in my life. I can’t imagine if the baby I had lost had been Sam.....or Noah....or Georgia. But it very easily could have been. And that baby would have been just as loved, just as special, just as amazing as they are. And that is what I mourn when I start to feel that ache creep up inside me. I have such conflicting emotions about it, too. If I hadn’t had a miscarriage, I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant and had my Sam. And he is such an adorable, edible little guy. He is the baby that makes you want to have 10 more babies, he is THAT calm and easy-going. But I often wonder about that lost child. What would he or she have been like? Was it a boy? Was it the little sister that Georgia longs for? Would he have looked like Alex? Like me? Would she have been colic-y? Calm? What would we be doing for his or her first birthday that would have been right after this coming New Year’s?

It is such a tangled up mess of emotions that it literally paralyzes me sometimes. I still feel like it is something I can’t, or rather shouldn’t, talk about. I feel like people will think I am crazy to still be so easily upset about it so many months after it happened, and especially after going on to have a healthy baby. But it still hurts. I still feel like there is some missing piece of my heart that is gone forever. I ache when a new doctor asks me how many times I have been pregnant, versus how many children I have given birth to, and the answers are not the same. I still find myself asking, “what if?”

So please, let’s talk about this. Let’s talk about the fact that 25%, that’s 1 in 4 (!), pregnancies end in miscarriage. Let’s talk about the very real grief that all of those women have experienced and continue to feel. Let’s stop feeling guilty and ashamed about losing a baby, wondering if that cup of coffee, glass of wine, hair dye, etc. caused our bodies to fail us. Let’s support each other and speak out about this unspeakable loss.

I will continue to be grateful for all that I have in my life, especially my 3 beautiful babies that I get to tuck in to bed every night. Because I know that given any number of things that might have happened in my body, I could have lost them as well. And that thought will stay with me forever. There is nothing that could make me more thankful for what I have, than knowing that it, too, might have been lost.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Okay, I have been crazy busy the past few weeks since we got home from vacation. It seems like the whole world has just exploded and I can barely find the time to pee, let alone sit down at the computer and write. But something happened to me yesterday that I have to put into words before I lose the emotion of the moment.

I went to the grocery store yesterday. WOOHOO!!! Nope, that is not the part I am fired up about. It was 11:00 on a Sunday morning, and I didn't really want to go since I figured it was going to be busy. But seeing as I had nothing in the house to feed my kids for lunch, off to the store I went. Noah wanted to come with me to have some "mommy-time" (yeah, he LOVES grocery shopping.....go figure!). So we get in the car and head out.

Now the shopping part was fine. Uneventful. Pleasant even. There weren't many cars in the parking lot. I didn't have to wait in line at the deli (thankful for the small things, I am.) And there was even minimal whining, aside from a totally amusing tantrum from Noah over the fact that the store was out of blueberries. The amazing part started when I was walking to the check-out.

So I am not a huge fan of this grocery store, but it is the closest one to my house, and I happened to see a lot of things in their sale flier that I needed that week. One of my beefs with them is that they never have enough cashiers open. It was a revelation when they put in the self-checkout machines last year. But this day, there were 5 cashiers working, and no one in line for any of them. So I walk up the one closest to me where a gentleman is paying for his groceries and get in line. But then I hear this God-awful noise come from somewhere behind me. It was sort of like, "AAAAAAUUUUUUUUWWWWWWWWWHHHHHH!!"

What, do you ask, made this noise? I'll tell you. A 70+ year old woman who was trying to butt in front of me.

Yes. It is true. Unbeknown to me, this woman was actually trying to beat me to this cashier, hurrying along carrying her 5 items in her arms. And that sound was uttered when I arrived before her. Now, this is the same noise that Noah has recently started to make when I tell him anything he doesn't want to hear. I know this noise. It is a childish, irritating noise. So I turn around and look at her for an explanation. You know what she says to me?

"Well, I just really hate waiting."

Really? REALLY? Cause I LOVE to wait in line. LOVE IT!!! Especially when it is 11:50 AM in the grocery store with an almost three-year-old who is hungry and wants his damn blueberries that they don't have at this store. Waiting is just FABULOUS for me.

When I continue to stare at her in disbelief, she goes on to say that she doesn't like the self-checkouts because they are just too hard to use, and she really just doesn't like to wait, and she only has a few things, and it is just so frustrating to have to wait. YEAH, I GET IT. YOU DON'T LIKE TO WAIT! Welcome to the club sister.

So I found myself in a dilemma. Do I let her go in front of me? Or do I make her wait some more? I know many people would say, "Screw her, let her wait." But I let her go in front of me. Mostly because I didn't want to have to listen to her complain and whine the whole time I was trying to check out of the grocery store. But I wish my mind would've thought just a little bit faster, because about three minutes after she left I had a millions zingers for her. You know what the worst part was? She didn't even have the decency to say thank you. Just went on and checked out and left.

All I have to say is, "UGH!"

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Many Adventures of Ted E. Bear

Let me tell you about Ted. Not Teddy, not Bear, but Ted E. Bear.

This is Ted.
This is Ted sleeping with Georgia on the way to London.

This is Ted on the road to South Carolina.
And this is Ted dressed up in princess clothes, with my smiling-till-her face-hurts Georgia.
Ted is a very special member of our family.

Now I know that many, if not most kids have a lovey of some sort. I had a blanket who I called "chicky." (Yes, I referred to my blanket as a living was to me!) I still have the remains of it today. But Ted is as loved as lovies get.

A friend of ours gave Ted to Georgia when she was one month old. He sat around her room for a while, and we sat him in her crib when she was about 6 months old. She and Ted became fast friends. I have pictures of her at around 10 months old sleeping with her arms wrapped around Ted. Ted went everywhere with us, and I mean everywhere. Grocery store, music class, gym class, the grandparents' houses, the doctor, out to dinner. Ted was always there.

It amazed me how quickly Georgia became so attached to this 12 inch high stuffed bear in a bunny suit. Once I realized how important Ted was to Georgia, I went out and bought two more identical bears, but was too late. Even at 12 months old, she could figure out who the real Ted E. Bear was. She initially loved his bunny ears.....she would hold them and rub them on her cheek while she was sleeping. I started switching up the pajamas on all 3 bears, just so the bears would wear evenly. I washed all three at the same time so that they would all smell the same. (Thanks GOD these bears were machine allowed Ted to survive serveral stomach viruses.) I fooled her for a while, but she found me out. She always picked the same bunny pajamas, and then figured out which bear went with those pj's. It was unbelievable.

So eventually I gave up, and stopped trying to spread the Ted love around. And Ted grew to be a member of our family. When she decided he had a name, he was Ted E. Bear. She would correct people who mistakenly pronounced it "Teddy Bear." She would say, "No. His name is Ted E. Bear." She wasn't into dolls, but Ted got dressed up, was bathed, fed bottles. When Noah was born, Ted was her baby. He sat in the bouncer, played in the play gym, sat in the high chair. When I watched her play with Ted, I constantly thought of "The Velveteen Rabbit." I thought about how that rabbit was so loved, so worn, with eyes and fur missing, that he became REAL. And I knew that Ted was REAL for Georgia. But I never realized just how real he was until this past weekend.

We unexpectedly traveled to my parents' house this weekend. My sister had her first baby, and she arrived a few weeks ahead of schedule. So it was a little hectic trying to figure out how and when we were going to get there. I ended up going in the morning with Sam, and Alex was going to bring the other two after school and gymnastics and dinner. I packed everything I could for the kids and brought it all with me. He just had to get the lovies, the kids, and the dog into the car. So what happened?

Yup. He forgot Ted. HE FORGOT TED!!! I had to say it again just to really emphasize the magnitude of the situation.

Oh. My. God. I could not believe it. Georgia was devastated at bedtime. Her Ted, her favorite thing in the whole wide world, was not there to cuddle while she fell asleep. Or to help her feel better in the middle of the night. And Alex.....poor, poor Alex. Oh, he felt so awful about the whole thing. We had to survive 3 nights of going to bed without Ted. AND she has a cold and isn't feeling well. It wasn't pretty. Georgia even said that maybe next time mommy could bring Ted so that he didn't get left behind.

We survived the trip, but we found Ted E. Bear as soon as we got home on Sunday. He has been hiding under the comforter on Georgia's bed. She was so happy to see him, to pick him up and squeeze the fluff out of him. I could honestly see the joy and relief on her face when she got into bed that night holding her best friend. She felt at ease, comforted, safe.

I hope Ted is able to hang in there for many, many more years.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh What a Beautiful Morning

We are currently on vacation in Hilton Head, South Carolina. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a 25 hour journey. No, we didn't take the world's biggest detour, but driving for 12 hours with a 2 1/2 year old and a 4 month old is tough. (Thankfully, Georgia flew down with my parents, sister, and brother-in-law. A LIFESAVER!!!) We had to make way more stops than we anticipated, and we stayed overnight about two-thirds of the way here. But overall, it was a very pleasant drive. The kids were good, we all got a great night's sleep, and we have settled in to our little home away from home.

This morning Georgia woke me up at 6:30 AM. Since I was asleep last night around 10, it wasn't so bad. She got in our bed and cuddled up to me. We watched a little Charlie and Lola (LOVE them!) and then Noah got up shortly before 7. As the two older ones snuggled under the covers with Alex, I got dressed and went out for a walk. I went down the stairs and headed to the beach on my own.

It was glorious. Truly glorious.

For anyone who hasn't been here, I highly recommend you plan a vacation here. Especially if you have kids. It is just such a laid back, relaxing, family friendly place. We have come every year since I was pregnant with Georgia, and will continue for as long as we can. But the best part of the entire island is the beach.

The beach here is amazing. It is 100 feet wide at time, flat as a pancake, and so clean. The sand is packed down so hard that many people bike on the beach everyday. And when the tide goes out, there are these amazing tidal pools all over that the kids love to jump into and splash around in. The water isn't crystal clear tropical blue, but it is warm and pretty calm. And there are sandbars that let you walk out 50 feet and still only have water up to your knees. I love it.

At 7:00 this morning the beach was so quiet. The sun had just come up. The only people out were surfers, people walking their dogs, and a few walkers like me. It wasn't hot yet, and there was a breeze blowing that could earn you a mean sunburn later in the day. And it was just me, alone with my thoughts. No one asking me to get them something, make them something, pick them up, etc. Glorious.

I walked and walked and walked. Not strolling along and pretending to walk, but walking with a purpose, with power. I watched the shrimp boats head out for the day, watched two black labs fetch a tennis ball thrown tirelessly by their person, and watched the paddle surfers catch a few waves. You know what else I did?

I breathed.

In and out, over and over. For 40 minutes I focused on nothing but breathing and taking in the view given to me by Mother Nature. I didn’t think about anything that is usually swimming around in my head. With every breath I tried to go of a little bit of all the stress I have been carrying around for the past 9 months. I didn’t worry about moving, schedules, bedtimes, money…nothing. I just tried to let it all go. It felt great.

When I got back to our vacation abode I was hot and sweaty, but also refreshed and ready to get on with the day. I was excited to have a week with my family altogether, with nothing to do but play, eat, and sleep. And I am now enjoying the reward of a busy morning at the pool and beach: THREE (that’s right! ALL of them!) sleeping children who will be ready to go out to dinner and stay up a bit later tonight.

Here’s to 7 more glorious mornings.

Monday, September 14, 2009

There He Goes

This is the time of year that parents, particularly those of us who stay at home with our children, simultaneously love and dread. It is time for the kids to head back to school. The end of summer days which allowed us to relax, not worry about getting out of the house at a certain time, and let the kids stay up just a little past bedtime to watch fireworks and catch fireflies. It is also the end of almost three months of a lack of routine and schedule, trying to come up with ways to entertain our children, and find activities for those rainy days (which we had many of this year.) I am happy to have my children back in school, and we haven't even hit kindergarten yet. My kids are so much happier when they have a schedule and they know what to expect every day. I am also hoping that the return to school will bring some stability for Georgia and help her handle our crazy family life a little better. She loves school and has been so excited for it to start this year, as she was for the two previous years. We have had a few days where there were some tears, but overall she goes in, drops off her bag and jacket, and is off and running. I love it.

Today, however, was a new day. It was Noah's first day of pre-school. My little stinker, full of his two-year-old self started his first year of school. I was a little nervous all weekend, not sure how much to talk about it, how much to build it up. We went and met his teacher on Friday, and he got to check out his classroom. And he knows the school since he went with me all last year to drop off Georgia. He used to cry because he wanted to stay at school with Georgia. But you never know how these things are going to go when the time comes to go it alone. And Noah is such a mama's boy....he would sit in my lap and have me cuddle him all day if I could. So this morning I was constantly thinking of who should be dropped off first, what I would do if he started to cry, if I could walk out leaving him there calling for me.

Then the moment arrived. We walked Georgia into her class and then went back out to the playground, where the 2's classes start their day. (I give the school much credit for knowing that the youngin's do better leaving mommy when they are in a giant sandbox or climbing on a jungle gym.) We washed our hands (lots of flu-avoiding hand-washing talk this year) and then went off to find something fun to play with. Then the dreaded goodbye.

You know what my Noah said to me? He said, "Bye, Mom. See you later. I'm going to go play." Just like that. And then he was off. I walked out of the playground, closed the gate, and got in my car with a smile a mile wide on my face. He was just as happy when I picked him up a few hours later, and is already talking about going back.

This morning was perhaps one of my proudest moments of motherhood thus far. The wings are just starting to grow, but I think they will be quite strong.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What Doesn't Kill Us....

So here is my day in a nutshell.....from the VERY beginning.

12:00 AM - 2:00 AM: I am up basically every 10 minutes with 2 sick, snotty, stuffy children. Or I am flipping the other one over because he can only roll one way, and it isn't the way he likes to sleep.

3:00 AM: Get up to feed baby who has been flipped over again, but isn't going back to sleep this time.

3:45 AM: Check on crying Georgia who has a sore throat. Give her some water, lie her down, and tell her to go back to sleep.

6:00 AM: Flip over above mentioned baby.....AGAIN!

7:00 AM: Get up because Georgia and Noah are awake. And still snotty.

8:30 AM: After feeding 3 children, sit down to eat my own bowl of cereal. Discover it is mushy. Decide I should never pour milk into the bowl when I think I am going to eat. I should wait until I actually sit down at the table and no one is crying or fighting.......but I might never eat again if that is the case.

10:10 AM: Arrive at the dentist 5 minutes EARLY (never happens!) to get a cavity filled. Wait for 20 minutes. Have an x-ray of another tooth and find out I need to have a root canal. LOVELY! Then I have to try to rinse out my mouth while I only have feeling in half of my face. Mouthwash dribbles all over.

1:30 PM: Novacaine has finally worn off and I can eat and drink without fear of eating my lip or spilling my water.

2:30 PM: Go get my haircut....the highlight of my day. Really, it was.

4:30 PM: The sitter leaves.

4:31 PM: The kids go cuckoo for cocoa nuts! Mommy's cranky pants are on, and we are in for a rough time.

5:30 - 6:00 PM: Repeatedly tell kids to start cleaning up, they say okay, and don't do anything but take out more toys. Eventually yell and start taking away bedtime stories. (I know, I am a mean, mean person.)

6:30 PM: Try to give the baby a bath with 2 naked children running around the house.

6:35 PM: Discover that non-potty trained son has pooped on the floor. YAY!

6:40 PM: Get soaked by washcloth that Georgia has flung out of the bathtub.......time for speed bathing. Lose my mind, and my temper.

7:25 PM: Pour myself a glass of wine, make some dinner and try to relax.

Anyone want to trade places?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Grammar Lesson

Georgia has recently begun to read. Full on reading of books on her own. She sounds out all the words herself, and is so proud when SHE can tell ME the story.

So along with reading the words in these books, she has come to be very curious about punctuation. She is always asking what something is, what it does, why it is there, etc. But the other day we have this conversation, which amazes me and then cracks me up.

Georgia: "Mommy, I know what exclamation marks do. Do you?"

Me: " You do? What do exclamation marks do?"

Georgia: "Exclamation marks make things exciting."

Me: Silent, wondering where her little brain came from, and if it might burst from having so much information in there. And then, "Yup, you are exactly right."

Where does she get these things?

My Very Own CIA Hopefuls

I think my blog needs a bit of humor after the last few posts......they were not exactly all fun, pretty butterflies floating in a field of daisies.

Let me preface this by saying that Noah is 2 yrs and 9 months old. As anyone who has been through this age with a child knows, potty training is a big thing to think about right now. Now, I am in no hurry to potty train him, much to the dismay of some people in my life. But the kids has virtually no interest in the potty, other than the fact that he gets to be naked when he sits on it. Naked is his favorite thing to be, and hey, who can blame him? Also, he doesn't need to be trained for pre-school, and I have enough to worry about when I am getting out of the house. I am in no rush to start searching out the closest bathroom of every location that we visit for the next 6 months, constantly asking, "Do you have to pee? Are you sure? Really sure? Why don't we try?"

However, when Noah wants to sit on the potty, I encourage him. I sit in there with him and read a book or something. Last week while we were doing this he looked down into the potty in complete shock. He looked back at me with a grin from ear to ear and shouted, "I'm peeing.....I'm peeing!" Needless to say, there was much celebration. High fives, kisses, hugs, and more high fives, followed by calling all of our relatives to share the great news. But nothing since then. And hey, that is okay by me. Now I am getting to the funny part.

So yesterday I was on the phone with my mom when Georgia and Noah come walking over to me. Georgia is smiling, and Noah has his diaper off and pajama pants around his ankles. When I ask him about his nakedness he declares, "Mom, I pooped on the potty." Still smiling. Georgia smiling too, although sort of an evil smile, like she is getting away with something. So I run into the bathroom, still on the phone with my mom because she is super-excited about this latest development, and verify the information I was given. Indeed there is poop in the potty. There is also a diaper all wrapped up in the trash can. And the celebration begins.....super high-fives this time because, come on, he POOPED ON THE POTTY!!! We must do a dance, set off fireworks, announce it on Twitter, right? Then I look over at my daughter, my adorable, sweet, angelic daughter, smiling with this goofy grin and holding in some giggles. And I ask her, "Did Noah really poop on the potty? Like he actually sat on the potty and then pooped?" And the answer is, "No, not really."

So how, you may wonder, did the poop get into the potty? My 4 1/2 year old daughter and 2 1/2 year old son worked together and hatched a plan to fool poor, gullible mommy into thinking Noah actually pooped on the potty. They were covert ops, for goodness sake! Georgia removed the diaper, dumped said contents into the potty, cleaned up her brother (must remember this skill of hers!), and then disposed of the evidence. I just about peed my pants laughing when I figured this out.

Seriously, if they can work together this well to dupe me already, what the hell am I in store for when they are in high school? I better get some GPS and lie detector chips implanted in them before then.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Heart is Hurting

Making the decision to have a child - it's momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. - Elizabeth Stone

This is perhaps the most honest and right-on-the-money quote about motherhood that I have ever heard. And you can not possibly understand the magnitude and truth of these words unless you are a mom. You have no idea what will happen to your heart when that little being, wiggling, crying, and covered in a whole lot of mess, is pulled out of your body. You are instantly capable of giving everything you have, including yourself, to make sure that this baby will be loved and protected from all possible harm. You will ache the first time they are sick, get a boo-boo, fall down, speak your name, go to school. That child, and any that come after it, will walk around with a piece of your heart forever.

Right now my heart needs some help. It is broken, and I am hoping it can be repaired.

My oldest child, my lovely little girl is in pain. And it has become increasingly apparent to me that she can not handle going through her life like this, so I need to find a way to help her. Georgia has been struggling these last few months, really struggling to hold herself together. Her behavior has steadily deteriorated, becoming more and more difficult to handle every day. She has always challenged me, forcing me to really think about the decisions I make and the words that I choose. But most of the time I just marvel at this amazing little girl....funny, smart....SO smart, loving, and extremely creative. Lately though, we have had so many bad days, days where I go to bed feeling like I have been a terrible mother, that I don't know if I can do it all again tomorrow. We have had more arguments, tantrums, crying and yelling in this house over the past 3 months than we had for all of the 4 years that came before them. I have been so frustrated with her, and with myself for not being able to "fix" the problem. She has taken to telling me everyday how mean I am, dramatically throwing herself down on the floor and having a tantrum, stomping up the stairs, and slamming her door. I feel like I woke up one morning and my sweet 4 year old daughter was replaced with a hormonal 15 year old girl.

So I have been thinking about what could be going on with her for the past few months. She isn't able to really explain her feelings yet, so I am left throwing darts at this enormous wall of possible reasons. Yet, I don't want to ask her too much, because sometimes she takes those questions and makes up stories about why she does things. But at some point today I think I figured out what is going on. And then I started to ache for that part of my heart which has been hurting all this time.

She has no idea of what she can depend on in her life anymore. And how scary must that be for a four year old?

There have been so many changes in our home. Obviously this is a no-brainer. It is not easy for a child to adapt to one change at a time, let alone when they are being buried under an avalanche of change. There are all of these books and articles out there giving advice on how to help a child adapt to the birth of a new sibling, moving, change in a parent's job, change in caretakers, etc. But there are no books out there telling you how to help a child when ALL of these changes are happening.......AT THE EXACT SAME TIME!!!!

My God. What an idiot I felt like this afternoon. I know how stressed I am about everything that has been, and will be happening in our lives. I must cry at least once every day, and feel like I am constantly trying to keep myself from having a total mental breakdown. And if I am this stressed out, imagine the stress that my Georgia must be feeling. Because on top of all the rest of it, she has a mommy who doesn't seem so put together and happy anymore. SO if mommy is worried, stressed, and crying, then it must be bad.

Can you imagine? Really imagine what a scary world this home must be right now for her? She has had almost no consistent routine this summer, a new baby brother who is taking up her mommy's time, a daddy who is not at home more days than he is, a new nanny who is helping out during the week, and a mommy who is pulling her hair out trying to take care of everything she needs to do plus all the things daddy used to do around the house. OH.....and don't forget that she has no idea where this mythical "Virginia" is, what it will be like there, what "moving" means (do we have to leave my bed here, or can we take it with us?), or when this move will take place. When I look at it through her eyes, it is amazing that she is able to keep it together for any part of the day. How would you feel if it seemed like, at any moment, your entire life might be picked up, broken into a million pieces, thrown into a blender, and sent flying SPLAT on the wall in front of you?

I'll tell you what you would feel like. You would feel like slamming doors, throwing things, yelling at the people you love most, and rolling around on the floor crying.

So now that I have come to this realization, what do I do? I will try harder. I will try to give this girl, and her brothers, some sense that I am here for them no matter what. I will let her know that no matter what else may be blowing up in her life, I will be there for her. I will not budge. I will help her however I am able to, even if that is only by giving her a hug.

I will try to put my heart back together, to help it heal. Because it won't survive if it stays broken much longer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

If They Could Bottle the Pain.....

....They could use it as a weapon of mass destruction.

Right now I am in the throes of a migraine. This is the second one in about 9 days, the first one having stuck around for 3 days. So I have been dealing with this pain for just about half of this past week. It sucks. Really, really sucks.

The only reason I am writing about it right now is because my medication kicked in about an hour ago, and it is not killing me to sit in front of a computer. Also, the only time I can really capture the true nature of such a headache is when I am actually experiencing it.

If you have ever had a migraine, you know just how bad they can be. If you haven't, then you have no idea how bad a "headache" can get. Mine are bad and have gotten worse as the years have gone by. They are truly debilitating. I would rather have a Mexican stomach virus than a migraine. Really. I feel like one half of my head is going to explode, like from my forehead down to my cheekbone is being hit over and over by a sledgehammer. And that is just the actual pain.

I also feel like I am going to vomit, usually for the duration of the headache. I can't stand bright light, loud sounds, or smells. I can't read, watch TV, or listen to music. The sound of my kids laughing and playing makes my eardrums want to pop. I can barely eat. I have a hard time driving, even moving too quickly. And then when I take the medication there is a whole other set of symptoms to handle. Drowsiness, tightness in my chest and jaw, tingling in my neck, heaviness in my head. The pain goes away for a bit, but it often returns. I never truly know if my headache is gone until I make it through about 4 hours without pain.

And I never know what is going to trigger one. Sometimes I can drink 3 glasses of wine. Sometimes a few sips will bring one on. Same with smells. The worst is walking through the perfume section of a department store......I often try to just hold my breath. Bright light, sudden loud sounds, lack of sleep (hello???), stress (again, hello?), weather changes, the list is endless. So I basically live my life and hope that this time the headache won't come.

I have been getting migraines since I was around 10 years old. I don't remember the first one, But I do remember many times where I would be in my dark room, in bed for days. I remember several MRI's, EEG's, and other tests to make sure that there wasn't any other explanation for the headaches. I remember missing an entire week of high school because the headache wouldn't go away. I remember keeping a journal for my headaches, and cutting out all possible migraine triggers from my life. I especially remember when I had to cut out all caffeine.....not a pleasant experience when you are a grad student! I also remember trying any and every medication that was available to try to reduce or eliminate my headaches. It wasn't very much fun. It still isn't.

I feel like my entire life has been a quest to find the right combination of lifestyle changes and pharmaceutical agents. That magic cocktail that would make it all disappear, never again to experience feeling like a searing hot ice pick was driving into my eye socket. It must be similar to what people with mental illness deal with, since most have to cycle through several medication changes and/or adjustments until they find something that works for them. And then there are the side effects. Ugh. The one medication that worked for me, really worked and practically eliminated the headaches was an anti-seizure med. Unfortunately it made me feel like my body was made of lead, I could hardly keep my eyes open, and it slowed my metabolism to the speed of a snail. Since I was going to graduate school full-time, staying awake and having some energy was necessary. And gaining 25 pounds in 3 months wasn't making me love the stuff either. I found another daily med that helped, although not quite as much. But hey, I was willing to take whatever I could get.

Thankfully my headaches have gone away when I was pregnant with each of my kids, especially since I was not allowed to take most migraine meds. I had a couple in each pregnancy, but they were short-lived, and managed with pain medication. But within 3 months of giving birth to each one, the headaches returned, and they were raring to go. I feel like over half of the days in the past 6 weeks I have had a migraine. And I just can't function like this. I just want to crawl into a hole, a dark, quiet hole. I want to sleep through the whole thing. Of course, this could never happen with 3 kids, so I have to find a way to get through the day. Most of the time I am counting down the minutes until everyone is asleep and I can curl up in my bed and try to fall asleep. I can not be a good mom when I have a migraine. All I can do is survive, and try to keep us all above water until the storm passes.

That is where I am right now. Just trying to get through it, and not drag us all down into the ugly muck that I am wading in. I am hoping that I can take some medication, get a half-decent night's sleep, and have a strong cup of coffee in the morning. If the headache is still around, at least it will be easier to face. 'Night y'all.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The First Sip

So having had a migraine for the past 36 hours, I was disappointed to wake up and find that the headache is still hanging on this morning. I am hurting, both from the headache, and from the fact that my medication makes me a little woozy. On mornings such as this I appreciate the little things much more.

There is nothing, really nothing in this world, like that first sip of coffee flowing down your throat. It is so amazing, both waking me up and soothing me at the same time. It tells me that everything is going to be okay, if I can just get through this first cup of coffee. It is a total placebo effect, as there is no way the caffeine can enter your bloodstream and get to work in less than a minute. But I love that first gulp so much, especially at 6 AM with a headache from the depths of Hades. Yes, I said Hades.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Clean Slate

I just checked on my kids, as I do every night before I go to bed. Every parent does it. Fix the covers, reposition the child who has turned themselves upside down, put the lovie back in their arms. And I stopped to simply take in the peace, the absolute quiet of a sleeping child. I took an extra moment in each room tonight to appreciate the complete and utter beauty in my children.

Georgia was curled up with her Ted, precious, priceless Ted, who will have his own blog post one day soon. She manages to find him in her sleep over and over again, keeping her secure and comfy in her lovely bed.

Noah had thrown off all the blankets, and wedged himself up against the side of his crib. He is such a light sleeper that I don't dare move him for fear of spending the next 30 minutes trying to get him back to sleep. I covered him up, and gently rubbed that angelic little blonde head of his.

And Sam. Sweet, cuddly, growing-like-a-weed Sam. I thank my lucky stars every night when I see him sleeping. I know how lucky I am to have a 3 month old baby that sleeps 12 hours at night. Believe me, I know. But tonight I realized just how quickly he is growing. Every night he scoots himself up his mattress until his head is up against the bumper. He actually has gotten so long that he takes up over half of the crib mattress! I love this stage of much changing everyday in him. But I also know how fast he is growing right now, and that, before I know it, he will be crawling and walking all over the place. So I linger in his room every night, just staring at that little nugget of snuggly goodness.

I love my kids. I love that, no matter what crap has been thrown at me, no matter how crazy I feel, or how much yelling or crying has happened, at the end of the day the slate is wiped clean. One of the best things about this mommy-job is that every day gives you a fairly clean slate. You can start again, learn from your mistakes, and try to do it right. My kids not only give me a second chance to do my best for them, but a third, fourth, fifth, and so on. And I try to give them the same opportunity. I hope that is apparent to them.

Bedtime not only brings peace, quiet, and a close to the day, but it brings hope to our home. Hope that tomorrow we will have an even better day, that kids will listen and follow directions just a bit better, that mom will keep her cool just a little longer, that we all will appreciate and love each other a little bit more.

I love bedtime.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mommies Never Need Watches

It is true. Completely and utterly true. If you are a mother, you will never need to wear a watch again. You will have this insane ability to tell time without so much as a glance at the clock. I finally figured this out today, after four and a half years of motherhood.

I can tell you what time it is when I wake up, or rather, am awoken, in the morning simply by opening my eyes. If I can wake up easily when I hear my children talking on the monitor or opening my door, then I know that it is 7 am, give or take 5 minutes. This does not happen very often anymore. If I am struggling to even open them a sliver, but can see the sunlight, it is 6:10 AM. My kids always wake up at 6:10 AM.....I have no idea why their little circadian rhythms have selected this time as the perfect time to interrupt my bliss. But 90% of the mornings, this is the time that they wake up and are ready to go.

I can tell you when 10:30 AM is coming up. My kids start to get cranky, they are at each other more, they whine more, and they are getting on my nerves. It is time to eat. They MUST have a snack mid-morning. My children are absolutely unbearable when they are hungry. Seriously unbearable. It is like the transformation into the Incredible Hulk. Once they are fed, they turn back into these sweet, normal, even charming individuals. The same thing tells me when it 12:00 PM. Lunch is a comin'......and they better get it as close to noon as possible or the beasts will return.

And the worst time of day....5:00 PM. I swear my kids have some chip implanted in their brains that sets off fireworks at 5:00. They could be playing so nicely together, building with blocks, doing a craft, make believe, whatever. But come 5:00 it all goes to pot, and suddenly my house is a whirling dervish of screaming, crying, whining, hitting, pushing, and flying objects. Today I knew it was that fateful hour when I looked over at my son half-laughing, half-crying as his older sister chased him around the room while stomping him on the head with her Barbie. Yup, Barbie = weapon at 5:00.

And I know when it is 8:00 pm. My house is quiet, calm, and getting put back together. All children are asleep (hopefully for the night), and I am finally starting relax a little. I have suddenly gotten my second wind, and no longer feel like I am falling asleep every 10 minutes. I can relax, and revel in the fact that we all made it through another day. I can eat dinner, have a glass of wine, put my feet up, and read a book.

A day in the life of a mommy.....always on time, no alarms necessary.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I love this dog. Or at least I used to. I am not so sure how I feel these days. Lately I feel as if he is on a personal mission to either drive me over the edge or teach me some extreme patience. We got Dante 6 years ago, when he was a lovable, wiggly ball of wrinkles. He used to sit on my lap everyday to cuddle. Now he weighs 60 pounds, so no laps for him.

He has a good life, no make that a great life. I often say I would give my right arm to spend one week as this dog. He is fed, has a huge yard to run in (not that there is much running for bulldogs), and has a very nice leather couch that he sleeps on for about 90 percent of the day. Why on earth would he want to screw this up?

I have mentioned the peeing problems, the exorbitant vet bills, and the midnight wake-ups before, but today he brought it to a new level. I had my house cleaned today, and I did not want to feed Dante until after the women had left. He is terrified of vacuums, so I knew he would run and hide upstairs for 2 hours. I figured if I didn't feed him, he wouldn't have to go to the bathroom. So while we are upstairs in my bedroom I hear this retching sound. Not unusual for a bulldog. I go into the bathroom, and he has puked. All over my newly cleaned floor. Okay.....I can deal with that. So I open the gate at the top of the stairs to let him down and for me to go get some towels. He runs down the stairs, I gather the children and follow. At the bottom I find the biggest pile of crap he has ever made. So now I have puke in my bathroom and poop in my foyer, and a dog who is lucky to be alive.


We go back to the vet tomorrow. Again. He may be staying there. We will see how tonight goes.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


So I was thinking about all the funny things my kids say and do on a regular basis. One incident from last summer came back to me, and I started laughing out loud, so I thought I would share.

Last summer I was giving the kids a bath when I noticed something funny on Georgia's stomach. It was a large oval-shaped dark spot. Not mole-dark, just darker than her skin, sort of like a birthmark. Since she has had all sorts of rashes and things, I thought it was a rash of some kind. I started trying to figure out what it could be, where it came from, etc. I called my parents, who are both medical professionals, to get their opinion. My mom was as confused as I was, and at the end of about 30 minutes trying to figure this out I decided to call the pediatrician in the morning.

So I get the kids out of the bath and Georgia asks if she can put some lotion on. I look at my many bottles under the sink and give her some hypoallergenic, unscented stuff to rub on her tummy when I notice that she is rubbing the lotion in the exact shape of the "rash." I start thinking of all the things she could have gotten into and ask her if she took anything from mommy's bathroom. She points to a gold bottle, and suddenly it all clicks. I erupt in laughter.

My daughter put self-tanner on her stomach. I am freaking out about what could be wrong with her, and she just wanted to have a summer glow!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So a ways back I read the book, "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids," by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. I also saw the authors, among other moms, on Oprah a few months ago, discussing their books and the pressures that we mommies feel in our everyday lives. I highly recommend the book (and their others) to any mom, especially if you one day find yourself wondering, "What the hell was I thinking when I decided to have kids? Really, what made me think I would be good at this?" Which is sort of where I find myself on a semi-regular basis.

I know, I know, I love my kids so much I could gobble them up most days. I know that I am a good mom, and my kids know they are loved and treasured. But we all have those days where you just feel like you can't do anything right. I have had quite a few of those recently, and they have me thinking back on things I read in that book. What has really stuck with me has been the notion of all of the self-imposed pressures and expectations we put upon ourselves trying to fulfill some June Cleaver meets Gloria Steinem fantasy of what we women can, and should be able to do with our lives these days.

Why do we put ourselves through all of this?

I have been evaluating a lot of things in my life these days, as you have previously been able to read. My birthday triggered a lot of it. But I think the living situation that we are currently in also has me thinking a lot about the stress in my life, where it comes from, and how I can minimize it. And I have discovered that the vast majority of the stress I feel comes not from my kids, my husband, my dog (although I am still debating this one), money, etc. but from my own crazy expectations of what I should be able to handle. I feel like I should be able to juggle any number of glass balls, ready to fit another one into the pattern at any time, without a single one crashing to the floor. And you know what? I can't. I just can't.

I have three young kids, all of whom have their own schedules that have to be woven together so that I don't have to be in two places at the same time. I have a house to take care of, basically on my own, which means cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, yard stuff, phones calls to get things fixed, cleaning out the basment, and all sorts of crap that would be a lot easier if my husband were around. I have to feed people, clean them, play with them, chauffer them, teach them, bathe them, cuddle them, and comfort them. I am also trying to figure out how to fit my own needs into all of this, including trying to make some money with a direct sales job I have had for about 9 months.

I do have a nanny for 8 hours every weekday, and this helps TREMENDOUSLY. I pack as much as I can into those 8 hours so that at 4:30, I can just be with the kids, and focus on them. It also helps that I don't have to drag three kids through the grocery store, drug store, Target, whatever, because that is not fun for any of us. And I try to have some one-on-one time with each of them during the week. I am so grateful that we are able to have someone here to help out when Alex is away. But I am on solo duty the other 16 hours of the day, and it isn't like that stops when the kids are in bed. Just the other night, I was up until 2 AM with various children, fell asleep, and was back up a little after 5 AM with my oldest. And we had a packed schedule the following day, so it was tough. Add into that 3 children who all have colds, and it has been a rough week.

Now with all of this going on, why on earth would I think that everything would run on-time, with no problems? And why do I feel like such a failure when it doesn't? I have been feeling down on myself the past week for not living up to my own expectations. I have been thinking that maybe we need to move to Virginia sooner than next spring. We had this neat little time line in my head that we would get into school, get the house ready, put it on the market in January, and then try to move in the spring. Well, I don't know if our family will make it that far without a major crisis. The kids are really feeling the stress of daddy not being here, and so are Alex and I. So I have been thinking that maybe we should move sooner. And I feel like I have failed. I have failed in keeping things running smoothly, and managing the stress of the situation. I have failed in being the rock for this family. I have failed in living up to this artificial time frame that I created for myself. Seriously?

I think the kicker came the other day when I realized I hadn't taken any pictures for my 365 blog
in a couple of days. I have been slow on posting, but I have been getting pics everyday of something. Well, I missed a few days recently, and I started getting really annoyed with myself. I mean, really, how hard is it to take a freaking picture everyday? Just one? Then I stopped. I would have kicked myself in the ass if I could. I was getting this down on myself over a blog? Do I not have seven million other things that are more important and worthy of my worries?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we feel like we should be able to do everything that is asked of us, and do it perfectly? Where did this idea come from that we are not a "good" mom if we don't sign our kids up for all these different activities, go to a certain school, feed and not feed them certain things, that we have failed at motherhood? And to top it all off, we should do all of these things on time, with make-up on, hair done, and a smile on our faces. God forbid we actually give a truthful answer when someone asks us how we are doing. Anything less than, "Everything is going great," and people will get uncomfortable with the honesty. But we all feel the same way.....there is no way we can get it all done.

So I am trying to adjust my expectations, of myself, my kids, my life. I am trying to see things not as a failure, but simply as changing my mind. Because that is exactly what it is, and why do I feel like I am not allowed to do that? I think moms try to do way too much these days. I know this has been discussed many, many times before by others. The book does an excellent job of putting together conversations with real moms about what their lives are really like, behind closed doors, at the end of the day when no one is watching.

Anyway....I am hoping that a change in my own internal attitude will help change a lot of other things in our house. I am hoping that I can be a happier, more fun mommy by letting go of the feeling that I should be able to cram 20 hours worth of stuff into 5 hours. No one will suffer because the bed isn't made, the laundry isn't folded, or dinner gets delivered by the pizza guy. We will all be better if we stop a little more often and take time to enjoy each other. That is what my goal is right now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


So here is a thought that I have been mulling over the past week or so. The vast majority of parents think that their children are the most beautiful things in the world. Since 99% of kids look like their parents, does that make us all a bunch of narcissistic a-holes?

Oh, and my dog peed on my couch twice yesterday. TWICE!!! He is just begging for a new home....or a shock collar at the very least.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Liquid Gold

So I am having a mommy dilemma, both of the emotional and the practical varieties. Sam, and the rest of us, have been struggling with acid reflux for about 2 months. It set in around 4 weeks of age, and has been rearing its ugly head since then. Georgia also had terrible reflux as an infant. It was awful. I have a vivid memory of being at my parents' house and her just screaming. Not crying, but screaming in pain for hours. She wouldn't eat more than a few ounces of her bottle, wouldn't sleep for more than 30 minutes or so, and whenever she was aid down on her back, she would start wailing withing a few minutes. I remember holding my baby girl, both of us crying, and my dad taking her out of my arms and telling me to go to bed and get some rest. After that we went to the pediatrician, got some Zantac, and things improved a lot. But we still had many problems, and went through all different kinds of formula until she ended up on a hypoallergenic one. It was called "liquid gold" in our house, because it cost just as much. But that formula was a gift from God. Within 48 hours, I had a totally different baby. One who ate. And slept. For 2-3 hour stretches during the day, and 12 hours at night. It revolutionized our home and life.

So when Sam started exhibiting signs of reflux around 3-4 weeks of age, I did not hesitate to talk to the pediatrician about it. She immediately started him on Zantac, and we started to see an improvement in his symptoms. She also suggested trying a lactose-free formula so it would digest faster. We did that for a week, but did not see much change, so we went back to the regular stuff. His dose has been increased with his weight gain (which has been astonishing to me!), rice cereal added to his bottles, and his symptoms have been pretty well controlled. But the past few days he has started having problems again. Not napping well during the day, screaming and pulling away from his bottle when eating, and needing to be held upright in order to be comfortable. So we went back to the doctor today.....again. He is now close to 14 pounds, but the current Zantac dose should still be helping him at that weight. So now we are going to try Prevacid. If that doesn't help things after a week or so, then we need to start changing the formula. And she suggested that hypoallergenic stuff again. I winced and groaned. She commiserated and chucked a few sample cans at me. These would get me through about 4 days. Two cans, FOUR DAYS!!!

I got in the car to drive to the drugstore and a feeling of panic set in. My pulse was racing, and I felt like I was going to vomit. How on earth could we afford to use this formula again? The Prevacid copay was 3 times as much as the Zantac. I glanced at the formula prices as I walked through the store. I stopped dead and did some quick math. Then I tried to hold down my own relfux. One can of "regular" formula is 25 ounces and costs about $23.00. We had been using the Costco brand which cost $10 per can. (WOOHOO!) The hypoallergenic stuff comes in a 16 ounce can and costs $27.00. Yup, you read that right. It costs 270% more for two-thirds of the amount. And at 35-40 ounces of liquid formula per day, that would mean using close to 2 cans per week. Cue mouth dropping.

So I started feeling sick. I had been thinking this was a possibility in the back of my head from the very first time Sam started refusing his feedings. But I kept saying to myself, "What are the odds that two of our kids would need to be on that? He will be fine with just the medication." So when the pediatrician brought it up today, a giant pit formed in my stomach. I was worrying about money. And then when Sam tried to get through his next feeding, I felt like an awful mother. He was miserable. Screaming. Red-faced. Gasping. And so obviously hungry. How could I think about the cost when my child was hurting? But I was, and I still am. How can I not in these times? Just more guilt to pile on the growing mound.

So I am stuck. I have a week to pray that the medication change will be enough. If it isn't, then we will have to face the music and figure out how we will afford this. Ugh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

So just a few things.

First, my dog puked on my couch this morning. Puked. On. My. Couch. Thank God it is leather, but this thing has been through the ringer. And my dog is about ready to be shipped off somewhere where there are shock-collars for jumping on leather couches.

Second, why can I never get out the door without someone pooping or puking the second before we leave. Today I went through three outfits because Sam decided that I needed a little vomit to accessorize them all. I actually went out in the first outfit
after being puked on a little. I know, I know, but he is my third kid and I think you have to prioritize after a while. Plus, I was pressed for time, and I managed to get most of it off my pants. But apparently Sam was not a fan of those pants, and thought that a little more puke would do the trick. He was right.

Third, my daughter is hilarious. She drives me up a freaking wall most days, and makes me think my head might actually explode. But she is so funny. Sunday night she came up with a great one. Alex and I were sitting at the table with the kids while they were eating dinner. He was having a vodka tonic, and Georgia asked what it was. When trying to explain what vodka was, Alex told her that it was a grown-up drink, like beer or wine. Georgia sat for a second, smiled, and then said, "Wine! I should drink wine, because I whine a lot!" She then dissolved in a fit of giggles. Alex and I joined her. It was pretty hysterical.

Okay, now I have to tell you this one because I can not believe my ears. I am currently watching "The Daily Show" on DVR, as I do almost every night before I go to bed. Since I am typing, I did not fast-forward through the commercials. I just watched a commercial for a product claiming to increase penis size and male sexual pleasure and performance. Really? Are there idiots out there that think that a pill will actually increase the length of your penis? Don't you think this would be on the cover of the New York Times if it really worked? Men would be singing and spinning on the mountaintops, "Sound of Music" style. Anyway, that commercial just had me captivated for a minute.

Just a few things to throw out there. Hoping for more laughs, less puke the next few days.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How do you know you are really a mom?

One word....poop. (Feel free to stop reading right will only get worse.)

Call it what you will. Poo, poop, #2, a BM, dropping the kids off at the pool, doodoo, a stinky. They are all the same thing. And every person I know that doesn't have kids has no idea how I, and every other mom I know, can throw that topic into a conversation so easily and frequently. Every person I know who plans on having kids says that they will never talk about their kids poop, or any poop for that matter. Especially not in public. Where people can overhear you. And NEVER EVER in a place where people are eating or drinking.

LIARS.....I call you all liars. I defy you to find a mother that has not talked about and analyzed what comes out of their child's rear end at some point in their mommy-life. It can not be done. There is some switch that gets turned on (or off, I guess, depending on how you view it) when they pull that bloody, screaming being out of you. You just can't help it. The nurses and doctors ask you about it every day when you are in the hospital. You have to count the number of dirty diapers your baby has for the first few weeks. You are asked about its appearance. You get the message that this stuff is important. You need to be checking this out. Hell, even Oprah had a whole show on poop.

So this has been my life lately. Getting my baby to poop. This was never an issue with my other two. Things have always been quite regular in that area. But with Sam, I am having daily conversations with anyone who will listen to me about whether he poops, how often, what it looks like, if it it a struggle for him. Because of his acid reflux, we were told to put rice ceral in his bottle. As any mom can tell you, this stuff does not help babies go to the bathroom. Which is usually why you are allowed to start giving babies water and fruit when you start feeding them cereal. While the cereal has been helping to keep his formula from being spontaneously spewed down the front of me, it has also been slowing down his intestines, thus causing him to be quite uncomfortable most days.

So today I placed to poop call to my pediatrician. Help me get my child to poop, normal baby poop, without screaming with belly pain. I am now in the cocktail phase. Bottles will now contain varying amounts of rice or oatmeal cereal and prune juice, trying to find the magic mix that helps the food stay down and the poop come out.

Just in case you are contemplating having kids. You should know what you are getting yourself into.

Poop. Lots of it.
I would like to know what I did yesterday to piss of the sleep gods so royally that they rewarded me with last night. It was one of the worst nights of sleep in a while.

Not only did all of my children wake me up at some point last night, but they seemed to have a pow-wow to figure out the best (i.e. worst) times to do so. Even the freakin' dog got in on it. And just as one got settled and I was getting comfortable back in bed, they sent a message to the next one, "Your turn.....Quick!! She's just drifting off.......cry......NOW!" I was up from about 2:30 until after 5 AM. The last hour was spent dealing with a dog who decided to itch and scratch himself into a frenzy. We have a bulldog, and at night he sleeps in a crate. So when he decides he wants to get out he starts moving all over the place, which makes a heck of a lot of noise. I let him go for a few minutes, but then decided to just let him out so that he didn't wake up any children, who had all just gotten back to sleep. So at 4:15 AM I go downstairs and let him outside. He pees. I let him in. He refuses to go back in the crate, so I decide I can leave him out. We will be down in 3 hours or so, no big deal.

Well he decided that he would go up and down the wooden stairs for about 20 minutes, panting and scratching himself the whole way. After I got up, yelled at him, and politely (as in "get the hell downstairs!") made him go back down, he fell asleep at the bottom of the steps. It is now after 5, the sun is starting to show up, and I try to get back to sleep.

The kids come in at 7, which would have been awesome if I had slept the whole time. I get up, run down to make a bottle for Sam, and quickly check the house for accidents. I don't find any. Until I come over to check on Dante. I discover that he has peed on the couch. WTF???? This dog has a bladder of steel that can hold it through an entire day of rain. So I know he didn't
need to go to the bathroom. He was just pissed at me. It is his own way of flipping me the bird.

I LOVE IT!!!! I got the finger from my DOG??????

Since I had a now-screaming baby upstairs I ran back up to feed him, and I will clean the couch when we come back down in a few.

Anyone want a bulldog? Just don't piss him off.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Seriously Ugly Truth

So this is me. No make-up, hair not even dried, nothing. I am smiling, which made this picture not quite so bad....but it is certainly not flattering. If I was really bold I would put up a picture of me in a bathing suit....but, thankfully, I am not that courageous.

I celebrated my 32nd birthday 2 days ago. I have never been bothered by birthdays, not even the big three-oh. I just figure it is one more year living my life, and so far those years have been pretty darn amazing. But this year something was different when I woke up. I don't know what changed overnight, but something sure crept inside my insane-in-the-membrane head and tried to ruin my day. We went out Saturday night for dinner with some friends and had a great time. Lots of good food, drinks, and plenty of laughs. I fell asleep feeling pretty good. But come Sunday I was a totally different person. I woke up and cried. I cried in the bathroom, I cried making breakfast, I cried in my coffee, in the shower, while getting dressed. I cried off and on all day. I held it together for a bit, while my family came to visit, but I cried again after they left. I felt like I was back in the weeks after I had my babies, when I could bawl at every little thing. God bless Alex...he just gave me plenty of hugs all day and kept his thoughts of my lunacy to himself.

By Monday I was feeling much better. I had some tears when Alex left, mostly because Georgia had a breakdown when he was getting in his car. But overall, I was in a much better state of mind. So I have been trying to figure out where all the sadness and tears came from. I am an emotional person, but usually I can figure out where the emotions are coming from and what to do with them. So here is what I can come up with, and forgive me if I start to ramble.

I think I am mainly upset over how I take care of myself, or rather, how I really don't take care of myself. Now I am a mom of three young children. I know that with that job title comes a lot of self-sacrifice. All moms do it. We make sure our children nap and get to sleep by the right time, but we go to bed after midnight and get up with the sun. And most nights we have been woken up at least once during that 5-6 hour stretch. We give our kids healthy, balanced meals, and our own dinner consists of a diet Coke, a string cheese, and some peanut butter on a spoon. We make sure our kids are involved in activities they enjoy and have playdates with friends. But we are lucky if we are able to read a few pages out of a book every day, let alone meet up with a friend for coffee. I get it. It is what moms do for their families. We give of ourselves all day long in order to create caring, intelligent, happy little beings that will, hopefully, take care of us one day.

I am just like every other mom out there, who really doesn't put herself first, or even 14th, on the priority list. But I think that on Sunday I figured out just how upset I am with myself. I really need to put myself back on the to-do list, and pretty high up on it. I need to eat better, exercise, lose weight, go to bed earlier, go to the doctor, read more books (of the non-parenting variety), and just do more things because I enjoy them, not because I have to. I need to set a better example for my kids about how to live a healthy life. I have never been a very thin person, and I don't think I ever will be. I have no delusions of becoming a size 2 and prancing down the beach in a bikini. But I used to be
strong. I was healthy. I felt good when I woke up in the morning and was proud of what my body and its strength could do. I want that feeling back. I am so vigilant about taking my kids to the doctor for all of their appointments, yet I have not had a physical in over 4 years! I don't even have a primary care doctor. I make sure my kids go to gymnastics, swimming, music, etc. but I have a hard time setting aside 30 minutes for me to read a good book.

I think all of this hit me like a freakin' 40-ton brick wall when I woke up on Sunday. I am 32, and I have no idea how to take care of myself. I have been so busy trying to do the best I can for the rest of my family that I have forgotten that
I am a part of that family, and a pretty damn important one at that. How can I help my daughter grow up feeling good about herself, if I don't feel that way myself?

So today I have decided that I am going to make some changes. I am going to eat healthier. I am going to move my body more. I am going to get my butt to the doctor to make sure that I know what I need to know about my health, and can change my lifestyle accordingly. I am going to set aside time for myself everyday. Time without TV, the computer, the phone. Time to just relax, have a cup of tea, take a walk, something.

I have a long life ahead of me. I have a lot of people who depend on me. I want to show them what an amazing, self-confident, happy me looks like. Cause my kids won't remember if my make-up was on and my hair was perfectly styled when I dropped them off at school. But they will remember whether I had enough energy to go to the playground, or if I half-assed my way through life. I want my kids to see a mom that they are proud of, not because of what size pants I wear, but because I care enough about myself to make sure I am going to be around for a long, long time.

Here's to birthdays.....and hoping this year only gets better.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Getting this photo was no small feat. It was the work of a true artist, and expert in working with children. The Sears Portrait Studio photographer.

I took the kids to Sears a few days ago to have some pictures taken. I used to be much better about having them done every 3-6 months, but it has been a little over a year since the last time we were there. And with the addition of Sam, I felt like the time had come to try to get new pictures of the children taken. I made the appointment for 10 AM, figuring everyone would have slept, ate breakfast, and had some time to play before getting the car. And it wasn't too close to lunch or naptime, so maybe we wouldn't be too cranky. Fingers crossed.

Thank God I had someone there with me to help corral all of them, get them dressed, undressed, in the room, and out of the way when necessary. It was a circus, or at least it felt like it. I was sweating by the end of the photo session from the running around trying to do everything as quickly as possible before someone freaked out.

But those Sears Portrait employees....they deserve a medal. Hell, they deserve a week at the spa, or at least a decent pay raise. This woman gave her all to get my kids laughing, smiling, and cuddling at the appropriate times. She politely ignored my son headbutting everything in sight and repeatedly attempting to rip down the photo backdrops. And she actually got Sam to smile, almost laugh for the camera.

That 45 minutes was pure stress for me....I can only imagine what it must be like to work with young children and families for 8 hours every day, trying to create these perfect little memories. They must either be extremely patient or extremely medicated. Either way, I am grateful for them.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Out of the mouths of babes

So today was a very cranky day for Sam. He was just off for some reason. Not eating well, not sleeping well, and just generally a fuss-pot who wanted to be held and cuddled all day. Not the end of the world unless you are also trying to juggle other children and their needs, wants, tantrums, etc. I think all he really needs is a full tummy and a good poop. Because wouldn't that make most people feel better?

Anyway, I digress. So after we read stories tonight and turn out the light to cuddle, Georgia asks to hold Sam. He is still in my lap, fussing, as I try to get him to eat more than 2 ounces of his bottle. I tell her that tomorrow might be a better time to hold him, since he is not so happy tonight. And she, in her completely serious four-year-old way, tells me this: "I think Sam likes me better than he likes you. Maybe he would stop crying and be happier if I was holding him instead."

Nothing like your preschooler insulting your parenting skills to make you feel better at the end of the day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tonight I am giving a big, no make that HUGE, shout-out to all the single parents out there. I just have to say that I have absolutely no idea how you do it everyday, day after day after day.

It has been about 2.5 months since Alex started his new job in Virginia. I am still thrilled for him, for he LOVES his job, something not many of us will know in our lives but we all should. He has basically been gone every week from Sunday night until Thursday around 7 or so. He is able to work from home one day a week, usually Fridays, but he has occasionally switched it up and been away Monday night through Friday night. I know many couples and families have done this, as there are a ton of jobs out there that require quite a bit of travel. But it is hard, no two ways about it.

Now, as much as this might totally suck for us, I really feel like I have no room to complain. Because at least he comes home 5 days later for a few days, I don't have to be working outside the home, and we are fortunate enough to have help from one of two wonderful nannies during the week. So I know that although this may not be our ideal living arrangement right now, it could be a heck of a lot worse. At least we have many choices, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been thinking a lot this past week or so about all the women out there who are doing this motherhood thing completely on their own. And I am in awe of them. Really. Is there anyone out there who is more amazing than a single, working mother of young children? Especially if that particular woman also manages to have a sense of humor and any thread of sanity left at the end of the day. I can not imagine doing this by myself, completely by myself. I mean, sure I would have my family to help out. And I would probably live closer to them to be able to take advantage of their assistance. But not having a partner involved in the nitty-gritty trenches of parenting would be extremely difficult.

I am exhausted at the end of every single day. Without exception. And then, to top it all off, I am up at least once, but usually two or three times every night. Even though I have help during the day, I rarely nap. I just feel like there is no time for napping. If I have an extra pair of hands around, I try to use the time to either run around like a lunatic, trying to get all my errands done in under 3 hours. Or I try to do something fun with the kids....go to the pool, the zoo, playground. Things that are made much easier for me when I have some help corralling everyone. I try to get dinner at least planned, if not cooking by the time Tatiana or Aimee leave, so that I am not scrambling (and crying) at 5:30 when the hungry, end-of-the-day meltdowns are starting. And actually getting through dinner, bathtime, and bedtime on my own with all three is stressful enough. Then I still have to clean up the house, put away clothes, and get things ready for camp, school, swimming the next day. Even with all that, I still lie in bed at night thinking of all the things I need to do the next day.

I can not imagine doing all of this on top of working an 8-10 hour day outside of my home. I really can't. To have to get three kids up in the morning, fed, dressed, out the door, (oh, and me too!) off to daycare, and then to work a long day, pick everyone up, get dinner ready, baths, bed, and keep everything around the house not looking like a nuclear wasteland is a feat like no other. And to not have a partner around to share in this craziness would be so stressful. I am so, well, lonely, at the end of the day. I have my peace and quiet most nights, but I don't have anyone to share it with. I don't have Alex sitting in his chair watching TV with me, making sarcastic comments about the new 90210. I don't have him snoring next to me when I am falling asleep. I don't have him there to take the next shift when I have been up 5 times before 3 AM. I don't have him there to just give me a hug and tell me I am doing an okay job with this parenting thing.

But at least I have him on the phone, iChat, Skype, and at home for a couple of nights each week. I honestly don't know what I would do without him supporting me as a mother. I crave adult conversation and contact in a way I never did before this living arrangement started. I mean I love my kids, but I can't let it all out to my 4 and a half year old daughter. At least not without creating some completely warped mother-daughter relationship that will drive her into therapy when she is 19 years old. And I can't exactly go out to grab a drink with a friend at 8:00 on a Wednesday night without the authorities getting involved.

How do these women do it? How? I know that there is this supposed feud between moms who work outside of the home and those whose work is their home and family. And I do believe that a stay-at-home mom works just as hard as those other mommies, but we don't get paid for what we do. I do believe that my work is stressful and difficult. But it is also very rewarding. And I get to be there for those little gems that my children give me once in a while. I just can not fathom what life would be like if I were still working a 10 hour day at the hospital on top of what I already do.

But I know that there are millions of women (and men) who do exactly that every day, day after day, with no end in sight. They are amazing, and I hope they know that. I hope that someone tells them how much they are appreciated and admired. Today I salute them, and all the work that they do.