“Where’s the kids?”

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As I was getting ready, I realized it had been two weeks since I had
done my hair and and put on an outfit that didn’t have a drawstring
. My husband and I had plans to go to a kid-friendly picnic this past weekend. I packed their bathing suits, a swim diaper, some snacks and sweaters, all stuff they would need.
But, at the last minute, we didn’t take them.
I needed a break.
We were at my in-laws’ house and they offered. Although I hesitated and this wasn’t what I planned, I agreed. Between the drive there and the drive back, they would only have a couple of hours at the picnic. On top of that, my youngest, Addison, would be overwhelmed by all the people and in my arms the entire time. I wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation with people I hadn’t seen in a while, and everyone would be miserable. On the flip side, the girls would be able to take a nap, play, and eat whenever they needed to with their grandparents, who they adored. “Ok” I say, “as long as you don’t mind.”
We left.
Not five minutes in to the car ride, I say to my husband,

I wonder if Addison is screaming right now.

I have no qualms about my in-laws taking care of my daughters whatsoever, I do, however, feel bad if she’s throwing a tantrum. My husband responds,

they’re fine, relax, stop, enjoy yourself.

“That’s the goal!” I say!
Going anywhere, alone, these days feels foreign to me. I’m home with the kids everyday, by choice. BUT, walking into the picnic with nothing but my phone was bizarre. No baby on my hip or holding my hand, no diaper bag, no snacks, just me. I felt super light and smiled. Of course, the first thing everyone asked,

where’s the kids?

We told them, and instead of hearing, “aww, we wanted to see them”, we got mostly “good for you!” I was glad to know I’m not the only one who needs a break. I think many of them wished they could have done the same, and so

I was glad I seized the moment and admitted I needed a break!

I laughed, had some drinks, finished conversations and ate an entire plate of food uninterrupted. I chatted with some other moms about them needing some “me time” as well. Now, I’m in the process of searching for something I’ll do for myself once a week. It might be a class, a night out with friends or just a trip to Target, but it’ll be something, just for me.
Anyway, despite not having to worry about our daughters’ bedtime, I was ready to call it a night by 10.
I couldn’t wait to check on my girls and crawl into bed.
The best gift of all? Two happy girls who were fast asleep and behaved themselves while we were gone. The world didn’t end because I accepted help, it was great, and worked out for everyone.
Thank you “baby whisperer!”

5 under 5

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We just spent a week visiting family on the west coast.
There were a total of 18 of us at one point, including 5 children under 5 years old.
You know how you feel the first time you see an old friend in a while? Like you never left? That’s what the kids acted like, and some of them, had never met, or hadn’t seen in each other in years.
In a word, it was precious.
They took to each other like glue.
Not wanting to ever separate, despite their tiffs here and there.
However, the gathering, of course, included many moments, some hilarious, some frustrating.
I jotted them down on the plane ride home in the form of some quotes:
“hold onto the carriage”
“stop touching that”
“can I watch Frozen?”
“get your hair out of your mouth”
“where’s the pacifier?”
“I need some wine”
“damn it, the milk exploded again!” (on the plane)
“I don’t feel good” (Brianna’s favorite new phrase when we ask her to do something she doesn’t want to)
“do you have to go potty?”
“DRAGONS!” (some game the older kids were running around playing!)
“hold my hand”
“stop yelling”
“Can I watch Frozen? puuhlease?”
“get your shoes on”
“give her/him some space”
“LISTEN!”
“what time did she get her medicine?” (Addison got an ear infection while we were gone)
“you have to eat SOMETHING”
“which one is that?” (upon hearing a child crying)
“SHARE!”
“do you think she’s tired?” (adjusting to time difference was a guessing game!)
more crying
“no I want apple juice”
“what kind of wine are we drinking?”
“stop tattling”
“no jumping on the bed”
“watch out for the baby!”
more crying
more wine drinking

Perspective

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Pardon my french, but I feel like an a-hole.
My husband works in the news business, like I did for 15 years, and unfortunately you hear the worst of the worst. There were days when such horrific things happened, I would come home and cry, and several, including 9/11 and the Newtown School Shootings, where I just lost it right there in the newsroom. When people asked me how I was able to carry out my assignment and write about such awful tragedies, I wouldn’t sugar coat it, I would tell them, it’s awful, and I never wanted to know some of the details I learned about.
This week, I’ve been whining to my husband about my daughters’ behavior when other families are having real, honest to God struggles and heartache. I read a story yesterday about a little boy who was lonely because he couldn’t go to school anymore because of an inoperable brain tumor.
It really puts things into perspective when I’m complaining that one of my daughters is miserable, teething and not a great sleeper and the other one is driving me nuts because she’s almost 3 and fights me on everything. It’s exhausting nonetheless, but thank God they’re healthy. What did I expect when we decided to have children, that it would be easy? Absolutely not, it’s just all about perspective. I thank God for my family every night before I go to sleep, I just need to focus more on the positive and not sweat the small stuff so much. I know it’s not time for a New Year’s resolution, but I always hated the pressure behind those anyway. So, I’m pledging to TRY and focus on all the fantastic moments we have (because we have plenty) rather than wasting all that time bitching about the negative.

Getting Out The Door

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I feel like it takes an act of God to get out of the house.
I’m not talking about an overnight trip or extended vacation for that matter, just a trip to the store, story time at the library, or even the backyard or a walk for that matter.
I remember thinking when it was cold out, how much I couldn’t wait for the warmer weather, not only to spend more time outside, but to nix the jackets, hats and mittens routine. All that time I’m saving now is now devoted to my nearly 3 year old exerting her independence. I swear, every single time I ask Brianna to do something these days it’s met with a loud shriek or a “NO!!” or an “I don’t feel good.” The meltdowns are plenty, and mostly saved, just for me. I get it, proximity, I’m home with her all day, everyday, it’s a lot for anyone, everyone needs a break from each other sometimes. Brianna’s protests are coupled with my 1 year olds insistence to do EVERYTHING her big sister does. While I find it to be extremely sweet and endearing, it’s also frustrating. Addison tries to climb the step stool to join her big sister while she brushes her teeth, she also likes to sit in the bathroom with her when she uses the potty and likes to touch the toilet. Addison also loves to “help” empty the dishwasher. My husband and I have gotten really good at snagging the sharp stuff immediately to avoid yet another, “Addison, NO!!”
So, I’ve got Brianna protesting brushing her teeth and hair, merely just because I suggested it, and Addison, who won’t give the toothbrush back because it feels nice on her gums. It’s a scream fest every time. At the same time, I’m thinking, “do I have enough diapers in the diaper bag? did we run out of wipes, do I have drinks and snacks for the girls?, and don’t forget about that load of laundry you did hours ago that needs to go in the dryer!
Add to it, the dog. He has to be left in the basement or the backyard depending on the weather, I won’t get into what he would do if we left him upstairs, alone. So I have to either make sure he “goes potty” outside first or get him some water.
This is an average day, forget about the days they’re in a bad mood, or I’m trying to meet a deadline before running out of the house!
So, I’M TRYING to learn to embrace the chaos, but I have to admit, for a type A mama, it’s a challenge. Being a parent is a constant lesson in patience and some days are just more challenging than the others!

Why aren’t you sleeping?

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It’s a two cup of coffee kind of day.
I remember my friend Erin telling me when I was pregnant with my first daughter, “you’ll turn on each other in the middle of the night!” I was asking her how she handled the inevitable sleep deprivation that comes along with having a newborn. “How do you do it, I love to sleep and am NOT pleasant without it?” Of course my desire to have children was much greater, but I wondered how you prepare for that kind of exhaustion.
As the mom of two daughters now, I know, you simply can’t prepare. You just do it. Somehow, someway, you manage. Some days are harder than others, but you push through because, you also had no way of preparing how much you’d fall head over heels in love with them.
BUT, I don’t have a newborn anymore! My daughters are almost three and one! Shouldn’t we all be well rested by now? Our three year old is a great sleeper, a few bumps here and there, but we have nothing to complain about. However, our one year old is a challenge. So, here I am, drinking my second cup of coffee of the day and having a slice of her first birthday cake leftovers for the sugar rush to wake me up! At four months old, my husband and I tried a modified CIO (cry it out.) It kind of worked, for a little while, but the crying was torture. I feel like the hearing your baby scream while you’re trying to ignore it goes against nature or something. I understand that it’s for the greater good, meaning, like the doctor said, somewhere along the way, they developed a bad habit and need to learn how to “self soothe and get themselves back to sleep.” We have a bedtime routine that includes milk and reading books and no TV (like the doc said!) But isn’t their a better way? I’ve done a lot of reading up on it and am at a loss.
I will admit I’m an extremely light sleeper. It takes me a while to wind down and fall asleep. My mind never stops running long enough to just shut down sometimes, but usually once I’m asleep, I’m fine. My husband could fall asleep standing up in a crowded street, and I’m jealous! Addison doesn’t have trouble falling asleep, she has trouble staying asleep. We have seen some progress, but she’s still waking up at least once (used to be twice, so progress?) and she just screams. My husband and I get into the same conversation, “what do you want to do?” he says, “I don’t know, I’m tired, do you have any other suggestions?” While we were half asleep half talking about it, she fell asleep, after an hour of crying.
Will Addison still be struggling to sleep when she’s 5 or 25? Is this another phase the doctors keep telling me about such as stranger anxiety?
Our daughters share a room so we keep moving Brianna into another room temporarily. We explained it’s only temporary, but thankfully, she’s a good sport and thinks the whole thing is fun.
I’ll try to be the optimist and say she only woke up screaming for a few minutes last night, a sign of things to come, or just a tease? Only time will tell!

Happy Birthday Addison!

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One year ago today, our family of three, became a family of four.
I remember the days and months leading up to my daughter’s birth vividly.
My second pregnancy wasn’t as enjoyable as my first, simply because I just didn’t feel great. I was constantly nauseous and had some food aversions, even though I always seemed to crave ice cream! The heartburn was brutal, the back pain constant and I was definitely just exhausted trying to keep up with my daughter Brianna, who wouldn’t yet be two when she became a big sister. I was also working full time early mornings. When I was 8 months pregnant, I cut back to 4 days a week and then took a few weeks off before my due date. When family, friends and co-workers asked how I felt, I generally didn’t hold back, and said, “the way I’m feeling, this girl is going to have some sass!”
I remember clinging to Brianna in those final days before I went into labor, giving her extra attention while wondering how I could possibly love another child as much as her. My husband and I bought her toys to congratulate her on becoming a big sister. We never wanted her to feel left out or jealous (even though we knew some of that is unavoidable).
My due date was July 14th. My last doctors appointment was the 12th. I had been up half the night beforehand with contractions and thought, this is it, but then my labor stalled. The contractions returned with a vengeance that afternoon. Time to call the Grandma’s to come and watch Brianna!
I had no idea what to expect, since every labor and every baby is different. Although the pregnancy was more difficult, this labor was much easier. I also had the same doctor and nurse as my first delivery, which was very comforting!
As soon as Addison came into the world, I was in love, all over again. I instantly bonded with my teeny, tiny, baby girl. I forgot about the heartburn and nauseousness and just thanked God for giving us not one, but two healthy baby girls, a true miracle.
Today, Addison is an extremely happy little girl with a bit of a short fuse (not sure where she gets that from haa) She loves her big sister so much and follows her every move and does her best to keep up. So much so, she walked at 10 months. She is extremely attached to me while also being fearless. She is rugged and loves to run and giggle and dances a little bit like “Elaine” on “Seinfeld”. She is the reason our house is covered in baby gates. We had them for Brianna but never needed them! You can’t take your eyes off of her for a minute or she’ll be into something she’s not supposed to. She’s not a great sleeper, but neither am I. She has brought so much joy to our family. When people told me how tough it was going from “1 to 2″ children, I was frightened. Now that it’s a reality, I can say, I agree, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Being a mom is the most rewarding job in the world and I thank God everyday for my girls and for my husband and family, because it really does take a village!

Happy Father’s Day

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. BUT, I also knew I wanted to share that responsibility.
I am so blessed to be able to share the joys and challenges of parenting my daughters with my husband.
We were friends for a while before we started dating and then it was a while longer before we got married. During that time, I often thought of what kind of father he would be. I remember saying to my sisters, “he’ll be such a great dad.” I envisioned a husband and father who wouldn’t assume the traditional roles of the past (mom changes all the diapers while dad teaches them how to drive, or whatever stereotype you’re thinking) I dreamed of a man who would change just as many dirty diapers as I, make them dinner and read them bedtime stories. What I couldn’t have imagined was the actual father my husband became.
We were a little surprised when I got pregnant the first time. I just remember thinking that, up until that point, I had spent most of my life trying not to get pregnant. I didn’t want to exactly “plan” having kids or not (too much pressure I thought). My husband and I just came to the point where we would be happy if/when the time was right.
It was my husband who suggested getting a pregnancy test. Positive. I was shocked. I, of course knew it was possible, but the reality of it exactly happening was surreal. I experienced every emotion in the book, like I’m sure many expectant moms do. I also remember my husband’s calming presence. This is true of many situations we’ve encountered during our time together. At that moment, his reassurance, excitement, and yes, tears, were all I needed to know how happy he was that he was going to be a dad. We were blessed with a baby girl in the fall. Seeing this big guy melt over this little angel, I have no words. I definitely fell in love all over agin.
We are now the proud parents of two precious little girls. Our love grew once again when our oldest came to the hospital and embraced being a big sister.
Of course, raising children is HARD. We love our children unconditionally, but it’s a challenge nonetheless. My husband costantly steps in and helps out and supports me even when I don’t ask for it. (even though I usually do!) He listens to me vent and doesn’t complain. He doesn’t always have a solution but I know he cares. He insists I spend time with my family and friends when he knows I need a night out. He encourages me to “go for a drive” when I’ve had a challenging day with the girls. But most of all, he enjoys being their dad, and I know they are the most important people in the world to him. He would do anything for them. My daughters and I are so blessed to have such a strong but laid back and loving husband and father.

My dad…

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Everyone still talks about the speech my dad gave at my wedding…
Guests who had never even met my father told me, “I was in tears”, “that was beautiful”, “wow, what a great dad he is.”
But, honestly, I find myself, a writer, struggling to find the right words to express my gratitude for my dad. With Father’s Day upon us, I once again have no idea what to get him. He’s really hard to buy for, “don’t get me anything”, “don’t waste your money”, or “I don’t need anything”, he would always tell us. My mom and my siblings and I would go in on the things we knew he wanted but would never get for himself. A ladder, perhaps a lawn mower, or some tools, usually something to help someone else somehow. He used to be a mechanic, so anytime someones car was making a wierd noise or wouldn’t start or the wheel was vibrating, he always knew what the problem was and usually fixed it himself. He would always drop what he was doing to help someone else. He is honestly the most selfless man I know.
Growing up, he spent his mornings playing with my sisters and I (& eventually my brother, he’s younger) before going to work 2nd shift because it paid more. He wasn’t one of those dads that parked themselves and the kids in front of the TV and called it a day. We would spend our days jumping in the leaves he was trying to rake up or playing in our fort in the backyard while he did some yard work. He always somehow made chores fun. We were always making more messes, but he never complained and enjoyed pulling double duty.
He’s also the hardest working man I know. He took on as many jobs as he had to when we were little to put food on the table and never complained about it. I never knew just how hard he had to work to take care of us until I was an adult. He and my mom wanted a big family (I am one of 4). We went on vacations and never knew the difference between a trip to New Hampshire vs a plane ride to Disney. We all had a blast regardless. We went camping and made the most of it when it rained. I will never know all the sacrifices my parents made for me and my siblings. I thank God for my family everyday and for the amazing example both of my parents have set for me. The respect I have for them helps me now as a parent myself.
Although I consider my dad to be a “working man” or a “guys guy”, he wouldn’t hesitate to give us a bottle or change a diaper. He’s absolutely the best father I could have asked for, all heart. I have no doubt he’s the reason I knew my husband was “the one”, because he has similiar selfless qualities.
I am so blessed to have you for my dad. I love being able to look back at silly pictures growing up and laugh, cherish the moments we have now, and explain to my daughters what an amazing “pop pops” they have!
So dad, I know you don’t care about materialistic things, so Happy Father’s Day. I hope this blog means more to you than anything I could have wrapped. I love you!

Dance Party

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It seems to be the only thing that works…
It’s the witching hour… the girls are hungry, cranky and a little tired… and speaking of… I’m exhausted. But Daddy’s almost home and we gotta rally.
Dance Party!
Music instantly lifts our spirits! I play DJ while I’m making dinner. I walk/dance back and forth to the kitchen, each time tossing another small snack on their plates to tide them over while the real meal is made. It’s not pretty, but they don’t judge. While I’m at it, I belt out the tunes. I love to sing and even though I have yet to make an album (pipe dream) I’ve earned the title of “the best singer in the world” from my daughter! Ha!
Even my youngest has started to tilt her head to the beat and shake her rump when she’s done eating. My oldest puts in requests. My husband and I are big country music fans so it’s no surprise she’s following suit. Lately, the requests have been for Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel” (after she started humming a version of it and I figured it out and asked her, “is THIS the song you mean?!”) She’s also loving “Firefly” written by Lori McKenna because it mentions Tinkerbell! “Mama, dance with me!” she says as she holds my hands and jumps! (she used to be obsessed with George Strait’s “Give It Away” for some reason!) I mix in a little Katy Perry, a couple of Kelly Clarkson ballads, some DMB (Dave Matthews Band) and everyone is in a much better mood!

Making New Friends…

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I will never forget the song we used to sing when I was little in Girl Scouts, “make new friends, but keep the old…”
I am blessed to be close to my girlfriends I grew up and went to high school with. I’ve now been to many of their weddings, baby showers and homes for date night. I still hang out with former co-workers and friends I’ve met through other people and continue to make. I remember being nervous about my parents dropping me off at college and my mom reminding me, “remember when you got kicked out of class in 4th grade for talking too much, you’ll be fine and will make new friends easily.” I’m not an introvert by any means, but making new “mom” friends is a bit of a challenge.
Is it harder now? Maybe it’s because you’re juggling. One eye on the kids, one ear to the mom. I’m trying to make sure my older daughter is sharing while my youngest doesn’t fall on her face while she tries to run.
Often times it’s a common thread that bonds a friendship. When I was young, it was simply proximity. Whoever I shared the bus with going to school or had had the same homeroom, who was on the same team or even who your parents were friends with first. As I grew older, I gained confidence and started to pick and choose the people I wanted to spend time with. Then in college, I developed friendships with some people in my major while weeding out the ones I’d rather see only in class. After that, it was off to the “real world!” Not knowing a single person within 500 miles of my first job was a little frightening, but again, I made some amazing friends. Some, who shared the same miserable overnight schedule I did, others through circumstance.
I have befriended some of the most amazing people throughout my life. I’m proud to say many of them I consider to be life-long friends. I stay in touch with a few from college (thank you Facebook!) and a handful from moving around for my career.
I don’t live very close to most of my friends, so now I find myself trying to make new mommy friends in my community. It’s funny, because at some of the places I frequent, play places, libraries, parks, etc, I’m finding my two and a half year old and I seem to be in a parallel position. I watch her, as she studies the older kids when we go places, sometimes backing off when an aggressive older kid is about to run her over, and other times, standing her ground when someone demands a toy back. Inside, I’m thinking, “good for you!” “I’m proud of you”, but I try and just let her do her thing. She’s going to preschool in the fall and I know I have to let her get used to the idea of “fighting” her own battles and figuring out how to share with kids her own age. I think I’m also trying to “feel out” the same sort of things, obviously on an adult level. I’ve had many friendly conversations with the mommy’s I’m meeting, but, I guess in a way, it almost feels like dating, I’ve exchanged no numbers and there’s no play dates scheduled as of yet! I guess, like friendships of the past, it’ll take a little while to develop those bonds.

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