Tuesday, May 31, 2011

R&R Part I: Getting There

Our fourth anniversary was approaching and we knew we could use a couple of days to rejuvenate. So we called up the rents and asked if they could stay the weekend. We headed to Kansas City for a three-day, two-night, baby-free adventure. It was full of ups and downs and many, many people dressed as pirates. But it was a weekend I won't forget any time soon.

Packing for a trip with two sick one-year-olds who don't understand why you aren't paying attention to them is a nightmare. They didn't want to go to Dad. They just wanted me. To sit down. Read a book. Listen to me play piano. Hold this doll. No, no, don't move. Just sit there and wait until I'm ready to play with you.

The moment I moved to start packing again, the tears came, the screams came -- they wanted my undivided attention.

After fighting that cycle for about an hour, I finally gave up packing. Which may explain why I only brought two shirts for a three-day stay and forgot deodorant.

We eventually got out of the house, said our (my) tearful goodbyes and hit the road. About half way there, we realized we didn't exactly know where we're going.

Thanks to a very helpful father in law and his iPhone, we got back on track.

We drove up and the hotel employee notified us that it will cost $15 to park. PER DAY. $20 if we wanted to spring for valet. Good golly, Miss Molly.

We checked in, handed over both an arm and a leg and hit the elevator.

After a steep 38-floor climb, this was our view.

Stress = dominated.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Evolution of Marriage

So, my absence last week can easily be explained in six words.

Scott sick. Claire sick. Grace sick.

In that order. And definitely progressive, meaning Grace was the worst. She had a high fever for multiple days and was utterly inconsolable.

On top of that, work was busier than normal, so blogging fell by the wayside.

But in the midst of all that drama, I had my fourth wedding anniversary.

The great thing about anniversaries is that it makes you sit back and reflect on things. I was always one of those people who couldn't understand the point of Valentine's Day — why set aside one day to celebrate your love when you can do it all year long?

Then I had kids. And now I understand. Life tends to wrap you up in work and family and friends and sick kids and sick husbands and more work and dishes and laundry and cat puke that celebrating your love is put off with the thought "I'll get to that right after this."

I took a moment last week to think, "Hey, four years ago today, we were like totally in love."

This is why I loved him four years ago.

This is why I love him now.

I love the way you love the girls.

I love the way you tickle them and play peek-a-boo with them and chase them around telling them "I'm gonna get yooooou."

I love the way you grab a baby and dance when any Taylor Swift song comes on the radio.

I love the way you stroke my hair when we lay down to take a nap.

I love the way you way you let me veg after you know it has been a stressful day.

I love the way you put up with me when it has been a stressful day.

I love the way you forgive me when I snap at you after a stressful day.
(I'm starting to sense a theme.)

I love the way you can look at me and without a word, know exactly what I'm thinking.

I love the way you love me.

In the last four years, our love has evolved and adapted and changed in ways I never expected.

There are moments that are tense and angry and frustrated — moments that life seems too much to handle.

But at the end of the day, there is not one single other person I would rather experience life with — both good and bad. And I'm beginning to understand that maybe that's what marriage is all about. Living through the good and the bad and coming out on the other side knowing we did it together.

P.S. Last week was also significant because the girls turned 17 months … 17 months!!! Dangerously close to 18 at which time I'm not really sure I can still count their age in months. Humph. Until then … happy 17 months to my itty bitties!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sad Thoughts

If you read this blog, you absolutely must read this story about a 16-month-old missing after the Joplin tornado. There are very few things I consider more frightening. If you have kids, hug 'em extra tight today. I'm sure this family would give the world to be able to do that.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Choosy Moms Choose Grilled Cheese

After last week's encounter with peanut butter, we scheduled an appointment to see an allergy specialist.

And it's official. No peanut butter for this kiddo.

The doctor said she has something called Oral Allergy Syndrome, which, from my interpretation, means she doesn't have the life-threatening kind of allergic reaction. Her reaction is limited to red blotches around her mouth. Not ideal, but definitely better than the alternative.

It's possible she may grow out of it, but not likely.

The doctor said even though it's not the most serious kind of reaction, Grace should still avoid peanuts. Which means Claire will be avoiding them, too.

Which also means Scott has to avoid them. That'll be the tough one.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes

These are the rewards we are reaping from reading this book 164 times a day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Little Nutty

About a month or so ago, we tried giving the girls a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Like silly little parents, we tried it along side a couple of other new foods. We didn't think anything of it until the area around Grace's mouth started breaking out into red blotches.

We called the doctor, gave her the suggested benadryl and watched the red blotches disappear.

We weren't sure which of the foods caused the reaction, but we didn't want to chance it with the peanut butter again.

Until yesterday. I was feeling brave and knew we needed to find out if it was the PB. So, we tried it again, but this time, without any other new foods. And again, the blotches came back.

She had no wheezing or swollen tongue, like the doctor said is common of a nut allergy. Just the red areas.

So, I called the doctor again and they referred us to an allergy specialist. We'll see what they say next week.

Until then, I'm just crossing my fingers and hoping it isn't anything serious. You should do the same.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Johnny Jr.

My sister Carrie calls her a thrill seeker.

Scott calls her ornery.

My mom calls her a button pusher.

You call her Grace.

And I call her Johnny Jr.

My brother (Johnny) was, to put it lightly, a handful. When he was about 10 or so, my parents left us home to run some errands. While they were gone, he crawled on to the roof of the house and then jumped from it to the roof of our nearby shop -- about an eight-foot jump.

When he was a bit older, he would ride his bike all over town, including on the side of the highway (the only road you could take to get back to our house). One time, my dad, on his way to work, saw my brother laying in the median of the highway next to his bike. After nearly having a heart attack, he pulled over to find that my brother had just laid down for a nap. Naturally.

And I won't even get into what happened when my brother got a license. Let's just say, a need for speed doesn't even begin to describe it.

My poor parents tried their best with him. Their first two kiddos were such obedient, polite, rule-minding children that I think Johnny shocked their socks off. It all worked out in the end. He's grown into such a mature and loving father, I couldn't be more proud.

But back to what I was saying about Grace.

I gave birth to my brother. In the figurative, non-weird way.

If I even hint to her that I don't want her to do something, her desire to do it increases ten-fold. For example …

Me: Grace, you can get up there, but you need to sit down.
Grace: Ya, ok, Mom. No problem.

Me: Grace, I'm serious. It's dangerous to stand.
Grace: Uh, I know. You tell me ALL the time.

Me: Grace, what did I just say?
Grace: What? No one's getting hurt. NBD, Mom. Sheesh

Me: Grace Madeline, sit down.
Grace: C'mon, Claire. It's fun! Let's just do what we want all the time! She's not really going to stop us.

Me: Wanna bet?
Grace: *crying*

I once asked my Mom for advice on how to deal with a "Johnny." She shrugged and told me to let her know if I figured it out.


Friday, May 13, 2011

The T-Word

A weird thing happened to me the other day.

It totally caught me off guard.

And I haven't been able to shake it since.

I was writing my blog about the lovely spring weather and I went to type "Beautiful enough to take two whiny …"

And the word just popped into my head.

I didn't mean for it to.

It was just there.

Staring me in the face.

Daring me to type it.

To make it real.

Instead, I shook my head and replaced it with a more fitting word. A word that doesn't cause me to hide in my closet with their baby albums clutched to my chest.

I know the time is coming. Heck, it might already be here.

But for now, and as long as I can manage to trick my brain, I'm going to hold out.

Cause once it starts, there's no going back.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Aside from the H.O.T. couple of days we've had recently, this spring weather is a parent's dream.

Beautiful enough to go outside in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Beautiful enough to take two whiny babies and turn them into smiley, fun-loving (and apparently risk-taking) babies.

Beautiful enough to pull the lawn chairs out of storage and plop them down in the middle of the yard.

Beautiful enough to go for walks down your country road without sweating like a pig.

Beautiful enough to barbecue out back with your closest friends.

Beautiful enough to take an exhausted, frustrated, fatigued, burnt out, frazzled, worn down set of parents and make them feel carefree again.

Now, that's beautiful.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


When I was in middle school, it was popular to pass notes to your friends during class.

"Can u believe he just said that?!?"

"I know. What a loser."

"N-E-Way, whatcha doin after school?"

"Nuttin', u?

And at the end of the note, we would sign it, LYLAS … love you like a sister.

At the time, I couldn't wrap my mind around why we would sign it like that. I mean, my sister and I fought all the time. Clothes, toys, what channel the TV was on. And some of those fights were brutal.

But I assumed that when I signed it LYLAS, it didn't actually mean to punch my friend in the stomach and take off running to the nearest hiding place. I think that was a safe assumption.

I have a point here, I swear.

This weekend, my sister-in-law Heather stopped by with her girls (my lovely nieces, Bella & Cambri) and I watched a level of interaction between my girls and her girls that I had never witnessed before.

Bella was interested in playing with Claire and Grace, and they responded to that, which I think made her even more interested in them.

And the girls were fascinated with Cambri.

It got me thinking (and hoping) that someday these girls will be super close. That they will all cheer for each other, look out for each other and be there for each other. And maybe sign their texts LYLAS.

P.S. Right before I posted this, I saw Heather's blog, which coincidentally is about the same topic. How bizarre is that? It must be true ... great minds think a like.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Free At Last

Three days ago, Scott and I jumped off a cliff together.

We held hands, took a deep breath and dove right off the edge.

We were down to one bottle a day. The after-dinner bottle was no problem to kick. Grace cried one night and we haven't looked back since. But the after-lunch bottle was a bit scarier.

We've been trying to muster the courage to kick these bottles for four months. Ok, I've been trying to muster the courage. Scott was ready to ditch them all the day after their birthday. But the idea of no bottles terrified me. What if they were hungry, what if they didn't go to sleep as well, what if they woke up in the middle of the night, what if they missed them, what if they refused to drink milk from a cup ... and the big one ... what if they couldn't nap without them.

Every day we had lunch, had a bottle and then went to sleep. It was a glorious routine. A routine that produced napping results every single day. And as those of you who have been reading awhile know, napping hasn't always come easy to us. And as those of you with kids know, nap time is crucial. For everyone.

So, taking away this bottle scared the crap out of me.

But last week, we added a book to our routine, hoping that it would mask the very obvious detour away from bottles.

The first day, Grace screamed when we skipped the bottle and went straight to reading.

The second day, Grace screamed when we skipped the bottle and went straight to reading.

The third day, Grace screamed when we skipped the bottle and went straight to reading.

But each day, the screaming lessened. And on the third day, we even got her to giggle.

Naturally, Claire took it like a champ, like she had never even had a bottle before. Easy-going doesn't even begin to describe this child.

So, now, after 496 days, we're bottle free. And had I known it would feel this awesome not to be chained to those bottles, I would have ditched them a looooong time ago.

Lesson learned, I suppose.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How I became so great

When you have children, you begin to notice all the little things that have a profound effect on your kids' lives.

One kind word here, one not-so-kind word there can have ramifications that last decades.

Are your kids going to be passing your wisdom on to their children, or talking about you to their therapist when they're 35.

It's frightening how easy it is to mess up your kids when they're so young and impressionable, but it's also exciting how easy it is to mold them into good people.

You don't need to be perfect. You just need to be loving, caring and involved.

I've discovered something else too. I'm absurdly lucky.

I've got two mothers in my life who have made my job really easy.

First, my mom raised me to be the person I am today. I don't mean to sound conceded or anything, but I'm pretty awesome.

Then, there's Katie. You guys read this blog, you don't need me to tell you how incredible she is. You should see her lift both babies at once -- AH-MAZING.

So, on this Mothers' Day, I'd just like to say thank you to the moms who made it so easy for be to be the best dad in the world.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My Hero

I was in the eighth grade. My English teacher asked us to write an essay about our hero. Some kids chose the president, some chose athletes and some chose musicians.

I chose my mom.

My mom was, and still is, my hero.

I have never been able to express to her exactly how much I love her, how much I adore her, how much I want her to live forever.

So, I'll give it a try now.

Dear Mama,

Thank you.

Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for nursing me every two hours. Thank you for teaching me how to walk, talk and love. Thank you for staying home with me. It was a decision that I know you struggled with when Carrie was born, and I cannot tell you how much I cherish that time I got to spend with you.

Thank you for understanding me, even when I was 16 and hormonal. Even when I was 25 and hormonal. Even last week when I was hormonal.

Thank you for showing me what it means to be a good mother. Not everyone has that opportunity.

Thank you for loving my babies as much as I do. When I watch you with them, I get a glimpse of what it must have been like with you and me. I see how much patience you have. I see how much love you have. And every time I watch it, I think how incredibly lucky I was to be born to you.

Thank you for driving two hours every week to help me with the girls. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the laundry, dishes and trash that you help with. And I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the bond that you are creating with the girls. But on top of all of that, thank you for letting me spend time with you. Yes, I'm a wife, a mother, a sister, but I'm still a daughter. A daughter who misses and loves her mom, and every once in awhile still wishes she was pulling weeds with her in the garden.

Thank you for being you.

My hero.

Love you,