Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cut It OFF

We love some Christmas lights around here.  Love.  It's the highlight of the evening to walk three houses down the street to gawk at the especially well-lit yard.  We are also trying out a new motivation tactic:  the Energy Drain technique, a la Love & Logic.  So basically, less desireable behaviors drain the energy out of parents for doing nice, fun things, requiring more good deeds to replace the energy. 

This particular brand of manipulation has been working well.  I rode that train all the way through playroom clean-up, room clean-up and putting laundry away.  Putting books on the bookshelf proved to be too much for one three year old.  Too.Much.  When delivered the news that only the little sister got to go see lights, The Regulator lost.his.mind.  Screaming.  Screeching.  Tears.  Topped with the shriek of, "Cut it off, Mommy!"

The intended meaning is either, "Cut it out, Mommy." OR a version of when I tell him that I'm going to put off an injured body part when he's being especially dramatic.  Either way, it's one of those moments where my frustration and anger turned on a dime. 

Merry and Bright. (Dammit)

Mornings where I am responsible for getting 4 people out of the house without help are my kryptonite.  Needless to say is that some go more smoothly than others.  The last 15 minutes are typically made of me rushing around, trying to figure out how many trips I'm going to need to make to the car.  That's the scene. 

Me:  (putting a jacket on Brooklyn)

The Regulator:  (jamming one of our Christmas cards in front of my face) What does this say, Mommy?

Me:  What am I doing?

The Regulator:  Putting Brooklyn's jacket on. (jamming the card in front of my face again)  What does this say, Mommy?  Tell me. 

Me:  Ell, you have to WAIT.  I am BUSY.

Me:  (finish putting on Brooklyn's jacket)

The Regulator:  What does this say, Mommmmmmmmmmmmy?  (shrill whine included)

Me:  (impatiently, with a big sigh, and full-on Mommy voice) It says, "May all your days be merry and bright."

The Regulator:  What does that mean, Mommy?

Me:  (short, hateful tone) It means have a good day every day.  (Dammit. This part was said to myself.)

Yep. I'm a paragon of Motherly Virtue.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Give Me a Hand. They're Like Magic.

When my best friend had children while I was desperately hoping for my own, I was taken by the innocence with which her children grabbed her shirt, her face.  The surity with which they touched her skin anywhere, without inhibitions.  I would lie in bed and feel jealousy over those hands, the special relationship they had with the mother. 

Baby hands. The chubby, grimy, inifinitely sweet hands of my sweet children stop me in my tracks. I think all moms have a body part. The part that they swoon for, the part that melts their hearts.  The hands get me.  Special K grabbing the neck of my shirt while he nurses, Ell asking to hold my hand, certain it will be waiting for him, Brooklyn rubbing my chest as she quiets for sleep.  Nothing  else makes me feel more a mom. 

Now that I think of it, nothing made me feel closer to my own mom.  Her hands were always cool, soft and comforting.  That touch could wipe away pain. My sister's hands are petite, slim, graceful.  My Nanny's hands were wrinkled, gentle, powdery soft.  So maybe I just like hands.  The power of touch.  I think we don't touch enough, there is much comfort to be found, but so much exposure, too.  Maybe that's the magic of a child's touch, the certainty of comfort found in simply reaching out to someone they trust.  AND. . . like most other things, the lessons we need to learn often come from the smallest among us. 

Special K's hands in action.  He puts them together now and it calms him and I love it.
Holding tightly to the edge of his swaddle.  That grasp.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Storytelling as Bribery

Elliott has been waking really early.  REALLY early.  I'm not even sure of the exact time because he gets up and is quiet as he plays in the water in the bathroom and dismantles his play room.  Repeated encouragement instruction of staying in bed until Mommy or Daddy come to get him have fallen on deaf ears.  He's distractable.  He forgets, you know, in the intervening 10 hours. 

Genius has struck on our interminable drive home in the afternoons (45ish minutes at the witching hour) through story telling.  I scrambled for entertainment yesterday in the form of  "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Three Bears."  Hit!  We even briefly made a Once-Upon-a-Time about three kids, Elliott, Brooklyn and Kellen, but I was tired and frazzled so the story was the most boring of all time, with no problem or climax. 

Today I was on my game.  When Elliott asked for a story about those three little kids in a Once-Upon-a-Time fashion, I was ready.  By ready I mean, I prepared for 10 seconds before I launched into the story.  And that story was all about how Kellen wakes up in the night (wah! wah! wah!), Elliott turns on his light after bed  & gets up early and then is grumpy later and Brooklyn is happy and gets to do special things because she goes to bed and sleeps until Mommy comes to get her.  Also emphasized was how he didn't get to walk to see Christmas lights because he was too grumpy, but the next day he remembered and slept and got to go see Christmas lights.

 Emotional blackmail?  Maybe.  Whatever, I hope it works.  Rinse and repeat that story on the way home tomorrow, because, you know, he's distractable. 

Returning to Work. And a Gift

Yep.  I'm back at work.  Full-time.  With three children.  Whoop.  I get the standard questions that I have no idea how to answer:  are you glad to be back at work? how is it leaving your baby?  how is it going with three kids?

Here's the truth.  There are days that leaving my babies really, really bites the big one.  BUT most days it is just fine.  It is rewarding to me to have quiet moments where I'm only worrying about myself and not three (four, if you count the husband) other people.  I feel like that statement exposes the dark underbelly of parenting, but I promised the truth.  So it's a conundrum--I miss my kids like crazy during the day but am also thankful for moments to myself (hello, using the bathroom without an audience).  I also know they are in good, safe hands, where, true story, Brooklyn didn't want to leave yesterday (that broke my heart just a wee bit).

The other odd thing is that I am way more tired back at work than during maternity leave.  I got a nap all but 3, maybe 4, days of my leave, which kept me sane.  Unfortch, nap time isn't included in my workday, but if you know my employer, put in a good word for it, m'kay?  So there you have it.  Not always pretty, but it's a pretty good life.  Even better (this is where the gift comes in) is that the tiniest of my tribe has been sleeping from 8:30ish until 3:30-4:00am.  That's seven hours, my friends.  Seven hours, roughly three of which I am not sleeping, but still, of sleep.  Seriously amazing.  I think it took Elliott six months for that feat, so gift for mom, indeed. 

Wishing you all health, happiness and controlled chaos. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On Wisconsin! (and Social Anxiety)

I have more than a touch of social anxiety.  Many people who know me may doubt this, but let me assure you, it's for serious.  Medication helps, but only so much.  I think in my younger years some people thought I was snobby, some needy, some silly, but I realize now it was all born out of this stupid anxiety.

Back in the day, when I was trying to get pregnant for the first time, I  joined an on-line community.  That was 4 years ago.  I have made some real, true friends that have withstood the test of time. But you know, the internet allows you to hide behind words, to plot responses, to post only flattering photos, things of the like.

I no longer frequent the original on-line community, but via Facebook the friendships have persisted.  A smallish group of us, 16 to be exact, have maintained a close system of support, sharing some of our happiest and most challenging life moments.  We've discussed a group meet-up, but with budgets and kids and family trips, that hasn't happened yet. Part of me wants this to happen, but the other part feels super anxious that this would be a disaster. Luckily for me, one lovely lady and her family was in my area this week.  From Wisconsin.  Yep.  Exciting.  Only it meant I had to actually meet her, you know like, in person.

ARGH.  The possibility of awkward small talk (I run out of things about 5 minutes into this)? Voices that might sound weird? What if I say inappropriate things (I tend toward this)? What if she thinks I'm dressed wrong (Fashion is not one of my gifts)?  That I'm ugly (Profile pics are the devil)?  A bad mom (One kid was crying, one whiny, one skinny)?

Truthfully, as much as I wanted to meet Valerie and her family, I was completely intimidated and it did cross my mind to take the easy way out and make polite excuses as to why this wouldn't work.  But I didn't.  I anted up and went and guess what???  It was GREAT.  Of course the anxiety rears its ugly head even typing that. .  . What if Valerie didn't think the same?  Well, I'm putting it out there anyway.  It was GREAT.  Our conversation was smooth.  Flowed.  It felt like we had known each other for years.  . . which is convenient because we have.  I was actually sad for the time to be over because I could've kept saying awkward things talking the rest of the afternoon.  Maybe with adult beverages.  For those people who don't believe in friendships made in the anonymity of the interwebs, I say that isn't true.

Survival of the anxious.  Whew. Maybe that big group meet-up isn't such a bad idea afterall.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Beautiful (Eek!)

Today a friend on my Facebook wall posted a link to this: I've Started Telling My Daughters I'm Beautiful.  This is not a blog I have ever read before, but holy moly did this post resonate.

You see, I come from at least 2 generations of self-image issues.  My Nanny (my maternal grandmother) was unsatisfied with her skin color (too dark--she was 1/4 Cherokee), her lips (too thin), her weight (she dieted into her 70s).  My mom, well, my mom has a long list of things she would describe as problem areas:  eyes too small, a chin too many, a waist too large, hair too frizzy, upper arms she doesn't like.

The truth is this:  as a child there was no one that I loved more than my Nanny.  I didn't see any of those things she complained of.  It just wasn't in my consciousness.  As a matter of fact, when she was wasting away from an undiscovered recurrence of breast cancer in her liver, my cousin boldly stated, "I just want to remember Nanny fat and happy."  Twelve and a half years later, that sticks in my head.

Another truth?  I remember my mom dressing up to go out with my dad, putting on dark lipstick and fancy-ish clothes and I wanted nothing more than to look like her when I grew up.

Truth #3 (this one may sting a bit):  the poor concept my mom has/had of herself did get passed down.  You see, the more she listed her faults, the more I listened, especially when she (and everyone else) said that I looked just like her.  Add to that being a painfully self-conscious child, taller than all of my peers and hairier, too, and whammo! you've got an adult that isn't feeling so hip on her appearance.  Taking a compliment, even from my husband, no, especially from my husband, is painfully uncomfortable.  The little voice in my head is none to kind when it comes to body shape, lemme tell ya'.

BUT.  BUT here's the deal:  when I found out I was having a girl, I was determined to stop the cycle.  For that matter, I also determined that it was important for my sons to feel good about themselves, about women, not expecting magazine perfection.  So I just stopped speaking of my appearance at all.  Problem solved.  Until I read this damn blog post.  I think I may have just stumbled upon a New Year resolution.  Calling myself beautiful.  Out loud.  Even just one time will be a victory.

In that spirit, I give you a picture I took of myself today that I actually like.  It took 3 tries, but I like this one. 

Do you know how hard it is not to make self-deprecating comments and just let this be?  Sheesh.  

Now that you've read about my challenge, my insecurities and my bold attempt to find beauty, do it yourself. Let's start a trend, brought to you by the original post at Offbeat Mama (who has no idea I exist. ..only now maybe because I sent her a message).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That's Croupy! (And I'm Gross)

Colds and croup abound at our house, which means even less sleep than usual.  I gave Elliott a Tootsie Pop for a snack and slept--more than once--in the same spot where the tiniest of the tribe either puked or peed, or both.  Yep.  That stereotype of the mom who never changes her clothes, washes her hair or leaves the house and people (me included) wonder what she does all day?  That just happened here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When Manny Comes to Town

My sister and nephew visited this weekend.  It is perhaps my favorite in the history of ever to have my parents, my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and my tribe all in one place.  We didn't always get along, back in the day, but since approximately 1999 we've gotten along famously.  I dare say that since 2006 we haven't even had major disagreement.  Shocking, considering our early years.

Back to the subject.  We attempted to get all 4 grandchildren in one photo on Saturday morning to humor my mom.  It was comical.  And cute.  And the stand-out star was the 2 month old.  Who could've predicted such a thing?  Certainly not this mama.  But the pictures I have are of a far less formal occasion.  Cousin bath time.  Notice the blue-eyed beauty didn't feel the need to bathe or even to place her tush on the floor of the bathtub.

The last shot is of her semi-shouting, "Up!"  Notice the boys are not fazed.  

Two Months of Lurve

10 months of shock has led to 2 months of joy, exhaustion and a lot of screaming (the baby, not me).  I wasn't sure I really wanted a third baby or that I would love him, but let me tell you that as he takes his (relatively) large hands and grasps the neck of my shirt and holds on or flashes a gummy grin or his special baby scent floods my nose during those late night feeding sessions, love him I do.  Following the trend of his brother and sister, he is skinny--10 pounds, 8 ounces--in the 10th percentile, but fear not because he has a giant noggin like his brother--95th percentile and is 24.25 inches long, the 75th percentile.  Now that we know I make skinny babies there is less cause for alarm, more embracing of this special soul in which we have been entrusted.  Did I mention he's phenomenally cute? Yep.  See for yourself.  AND he's meeting all his milestones.  Rolling, smiling and cooing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

THAT House.

Yes.  Another Halloween post.  The catch is that this time I'm worried that neighborhood might be in jeopardy.  As the title of my blog suggests, we live in a run of the mill, average middle class neighborhood.  I feel completely comfortable going door-to-door trick-or-treating. . . .

Until we got to that house.  Only I didn't know it was that house until it was too late and the confused hermit was staring at my perfectly adorable three year-old.  The picture--random angel water fountain next to the front door, but without accompanying landscape or color of any kind.  A small square area blocked off next to the door with a homemade cardboard sign sporting chicken scratch with "deliveries here."  (Only later would I be suspect of why someone wanted their packages hidden, when the front porch wasn't especially visible from the street anyway. I think that's where bomb-making equipment might be delivered.) Back to the moment.  We knocked because, after all, the porch light was on.  The wall(s) of DVDs actually caught my eye before the person answering the door commanded my attention.  Average-sized Asian male with athletic shorts.  Not crazy or suspicious when considered alone.  But the tucked-in Garfield t-shirt with the athletic shorts pulled half-way to his armpits was cause for concern.  Square glasses straight from my grandfather's bedside table. . . in 1986.  The candy was in a metal pot.  And then, then, I noticed that the entire living area visible from the front door was covered by computer and electronic equipment.  And did I mention there was no welcoming smile or even a "you're welcome" to my three-year old's thank you? Creeptastic.

I didn't suspect there was a crazy internet crime mastermind was in my very.own.neighborhood.  And that is how that house became that house.  Its own unintended Halloween spectacle.

It's Serious. Requisite Halloween Post

We've been counting down the days.  Not for a week, not for a month, for a YEAR.  Elliott has been in LOVE with Halloween since our last trick-or-treating expedition.  It was a success.  Until the tiny baby lost his sh*t.  Good timing because quickly after Elliott began plopping on the sidewalk saying, "I'm tired.  Carry me, Mommy."  And as soon as we got home, our fairy princess stated, "Nigh, nigh."

*We had a great time, despite all the serious-face pics.  

Glammy & Poppy came to trick-or-treat, too.

Beautiful fairy princess.

Serious tiger.  My whisker-drawing skills are limited.


It was a spectator sport for Brooklyn.  One of these days she will be convinced she can walk.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Glamm-o & Elmo

Glammy is muy importante in the life of the children.  Indulgence does this.  Tonight, they shared a few moments looking at "Elmo Goes to the Doctor." And it was good. Especially since that was my Shiner Bock in the background.  Sunday.  Complete.


Swinging.  It's how my third child sleeps the best.  It's how child #1 is refining his questionable motor skills.  It's how child #2 found her Zen moments today.

Boxing Day

Boxing.  For the first time.  

My girl is a climber.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let's Send Santa a Number

Elliott is obsessed with Christmas.  All things Holiday, really.  Everyday we have at least one conversation that goes something like this:

E:  It's almost Halloween!
     What comes after Halloween, Mommy?

Me:  November.

E:  It'll be. . . THANKSGIVING!
     And then it'll be. . . What comes next, Mommy?

I'll let you predict for yourself how the rest of it goes.  Based on this obsession, we've had several (hundred) conversations about Christmas.  He already has a list for Santa:  an alarm clock and blocks (Legos).  I was completely confused when he spontaneously told me this morning:

E:  Mommy, we're going to give Santa a number.

Me:  What, Elliott?

E:  You said I could give Santa a number at Christmas. (very emphatically)

Me:  (racking my brain for some clue)

E:  We'll give him a number to tell him an alarm clock and blocks.  You SAID!

Me:  (light dawning)  You mean a letter?  I said we could write him a letter?

E:  (completely indignant) Yes, Mommy.  You said.

Ah.  I suppose it never occurred to me that my three-year old didn't know the difference between a letter that is a symbol and letter than is a form of correspondence.  So yes, we'll be sending Santa a number.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Got This.

 Remember yesterday when I said I couldn't be a stay-at-home mom?  Today I had a boost of false self-confidence when my wee baby slept for (almost) three hours in the swing.  

My boy likes to run.  Claims his Crocs are his "running shoes."  

Butterfly exploration.

 Writing his name.  "With wots of E's.  You wike it?"

It was a good day.  Thanks to the baby swing.  

I'm a Reader. From Way Back.

I've been in love with reading since forever.  I can't remember a time when I couldn't read or didn't enjoy it.  It's a compulsion, really.  There's just a handful of books that I've started that I haven't finished.. .  the compulsion.  I've read fewer books with the advent of blogs and social media, but I'm reconnecting with my inner reader.

I'm not typically one for apocalyptic tales, but holy moly have I become entranced with the writing of Justin Cronin.  The Passage held me captivated and now I've downloaded The Twelve, on the first day it was released.  I'm not usually the first to anything, so this speaks to how much I am into this story and his writing. Read it.  Do it.  Disturbing, yes, but also utterly captivating.  Yes, there are vampire-like creatures involved, but there is also serious character-development and creation of these creatures was seriously plausible.

READ.  You won't be disappointed.  I promise.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Mommy caught some of those elusive smiles for the picture books.  On my phone.  Don't judge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'm a Mess

I am fairly certain I could not be a full-time stay at home mom.  Or I should say that I totally could be a stay at home mom, but not for long because my husband might leave because he would tire of me never getting out of pajama pants and t-shirts, my hair stuffed up into a ponytail, no make-up and unplucked eyebrows. Not a pretty picture.  The good news is that I do cook more than is typical, but the house doesn't seem any neater, so there's that.

I keep waiting to find my own personal style.  To step out in coordinated work-out clothing (that's what other stay-at-home-moms seem to do) or to look like I'm wearing an outfit.  Basically, I want to channel the flair of my blogger crush, Brooke.  She's fancy.  And stylish.  And it looks effortless.  Maybe someday?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Finding the Yes

Life as a three and a half year old is a study in hearing the word no.  A lot.  I read a blog post a while back about saying yes--to most everything.  Hogwash.  I think I've posted about this before.  I continue to find this  concept is a big ol' challenge.  I find that Elliott hears "no" as the big brother to a year and a half old sister and 6 week old brother far too often.  I am trying to stop and ask, "why not?" Not easy.  By a long shot.  I am le tired.  It seems as though every waking moment of their lives I am busy--running from one chore to another.  I want to say "no."  It is easier.  And honestly, that's what I say quite a bit.  However the result is a helluva lot of whining.  Which makes me bonkers.

Elliott has been asking repeatedly to make a cake.  Random.  BUT we managed it.  A lemonade cake straight from Pinterest.  For this moment, the no was conquered.  Seeing the joy at the end result was worth finding the time (and energy) to say "yes."

Mommy, wanna play chalk?

My sweet boy asked this question no less than 14 times this weekend.  So with weather perfection this afternoon, out we went.  All 5 of us.  We played chalk, we visited with neighbors, Elliott let the dog out 4 different times (no exaggeration), it was a good time.  If you are wondering how chalk is played, it really  just means drawing on the sidewalk--nothing all that exciting.  Unless you're three.

My future's so bright. . .

Baby feet.  Nothing better.

She carried the chalk around, not actually using it but managing to get quite dirty.

Look at those curls!

Friday, October 5, 2012

From a Three-Year Old? I am not Prepared

Actual conversation with my 3.5 year old in the car on the way home from school today.  (I should also add that our childcare provider is much more conservative than our own views, but it works for her):

E:  Mommy, God died.

Me:  (listening to fascinating talk radio story & newborn crying) What?

E:  God died. 

Me:  (frantic thought searching) Uh.  Um.  Sort of. . .

E:  He DID.  Why did God die?

Me:  (frantic thought searching) Well, some bad men killed him. 

E:  Why?

Me:  (frantic thought searching)  They just did, but then God only died for a little while and then came back.  God didn't stay dead.  (Ha! Problem solved.)

E:  Why did he come back?

Me:  (oh shit) Well. . . to show us that he loves us and that God is still here.

E:  God is in the sky?

Me:  (frantic thought searching) Sure.  God is everywhere.

E:  In the clouds.

Me:  Sure.  (Dodge & give non-commital answer.)

E:  Why?

Me:  Well, God is everywhere because God made the earth. (Sigh.  That one was easy.)

E:  Why?

Me:  God just did.  That's the way it is.

E:  Oh.  Okay.

Me:  (Why didn't I go with this answer in the first place?)

I thought for sure that I had a few years on this one. . .

Thursday, October 4, 2012

She's Serious

I like to play with taking pictures of my kids.  I aspire to be a good amateur photographer, and someday that title will be mine.  The truth is that I don't spend enough time on how to use my camera, although I do take most of my pics in manual mode.  Score. After some basic Lightroom lessons, I've tried to kind of teach myself editing.  It's not as easy as it might seem.

Straight out of the camera:

Running a basic preset from Oh So Posh Photography:

More editing of my own:

And the bottom one converted to B&W:

Not sure which one of the edited versions I prefer. . . weigh in?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Touch a . . . What? And McWho???

Truck.  Touch a Truck.  There was a (FREE!) event in Fort Worth yesterday with trucks and tractors and ambulances--oh my!--all available for exploration.  Little boy heaven.  Because Kellen needed to eat, we also had a pit-stop at McDonald's for an ice cream cone and visit to the indoor playscape.  Elliott had never been to McDonald's.  Never before, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Moving truck madness.

NASCAR was a bit less appealing.

Ringing the bell on the Frog Horn!

Visiting the FW Fire truck.

Trying out the wheel on the 18-wheeler.

That's what Brooklyn thought of the trucks.  

B was wishing she could play with the big kids.

I love this shot.  Love.  

It was a good day.  That is an accomplishment with a one-month old and events during naptime.  Win for all!