Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Moment I've Been Waiting For

I have been waiting seven and a half years for this. 

I spent all of last year wondering if they were ready and deciding to wait. 

Then they went to a birthday party and their curiosity was piqued. 

So, I decided it was time and crossed my fingers they were ready. 

**Be prepared to probably be disappointed by the following revelation. I may have built it up a bit too much. Also, be prepared to see into the depths of my nerdiness. I feel no shame.**

The girls and I started reading Harry Potter together. 

*Ha! I told you!* 

In 2004, I was interning at a newspaper in Florida and completely bored one weekend. I was milling about Target and found myself in the book section. I flipped through several before begrudgingly picking up The Sorcerer’s Stone.   

I think I finished it before the day was over. I went back to Target and grabbed Chamber of Secrets. 

I was instantly in love with the magic of the, well, magical world. 

I have read the series three times, seen the movies too many times to remember and once dressed as Ginny Weasley for Halloween. 

And now, I get to relive all of the magic and mystery with my sweet girls. I spend about 15-30 minutes each night reading as much as I can in between all the questions and theories. 

And the best part? In addition to being wrapped up in a story that I have so much love for, we are also soaking up some seriously needed Mom-daughter time each night. 


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Their Joy is My Joy

There are things I miss about them as babies. 

Things I miss about them as toddlers. 

Definitely things I miss about them as preschoolers. 

I’ll never stop missing those beautiful memories we’ve had together, but I sure do love watching them grow, too. And I just can’t get enough of their joy. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

In All Its Glory

For Mother’s day, I usually just want to spend the day with my family, trying to soak up my kids and motherhood in all its glory. This year, I got a bit smarter. I asked for a day of exploration and adventure-seeking without complaints. And yes, I bribed them with donuts to sweeten our deal. Motherhood, in all its glory. 

About 3 minutes into our adventure (and that is NOT an embellishment) I had already uttered the words “complete and total failure.” The sun was beating down on us, with no shade in sight. Grace was complaining that she needed a drink. Claire was hungry. Henry was squirming to get out of his stroller and the dog was barking angrily at every passerby. 

But we persisted. And about 5 or so minutes down the path, our persistence was rewarded. We came to an unexpected off-shoot of our trail. That led to shade, a very unique-looking bridge (finding unexpected bridges on our adventures are always a highlight), which led to a mysterious trail, which led to the most perfect little park area. The kids played queens and sharks and all the things you play when you find an unexpected play area. It was deserted at this time of day, so the dog wasn’t barking at anyone. And when Grace and I felt very urgently that we needed to use the facilities, we found restrooms just a minute away that were so thankfully unlocked! 

After that, we continued on our mysterious trail that led to another smaller bridge and then back the way we came. 

It turned out to be such a fantastic adventure that as we were heading back to the car, Grace said “Mom, I hate to say it, but that was really fun.” 

Some day, they'll be grateful that their mother forced them into Saturday morning adventures, exploring their world and finding joy in the small things like wooded trails and and hidden bridges. 

Today, though, the donut-bribe lasted until the last 15 minutes of the journey. Hot, tired, my legs can't move another step, hot, thirsty, so tired complaints hit me from all angles. I guess that's motherhood, though, in all its glory. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Mother's Gratitude

Today is Mother’s Day. This day can bring happiness, sadness, longing, excitement and probably a few hundred other emotions depending on your life’s circumstances. Today, I choose grateful. 

I’m so eternally grateful for my own mother. I’ve written about her before, but it’s worth saying again. She raised me to treat others with kindness, love unconditionally and never lose sight of my own strength. I’m so thankful that I have her in my life and that my kids get to grow up knowing her love and strength. 

I also couldn’t be more grateful for my mother-in-law. She helped raise a loyal, generous, kind son who spends his days finding ways to make our days better. She welcomed me into the family and consistently lets me know how much she loves having me here. She loves my kids as her own and helps nurture their spirits like only a grandparent can. 

I’m, especially, grateful on this day to be a mother myself. I knew from an early age that being a mother was my calling and it wasn’t too long ago that I was scared it might never happen. But it did. And for all the complaining that I sometimes do about exhaustion and whining and bickering and screaming, I’m thankful every single day that I get to be their mom. What an amazing gift and opportunity to love and be loved by them. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Little Sneak

Henry’s pretty sneaky for a one-year-old. 

Let’s take the other day for example. 

We were outside: him playing, me messing on my phone. 

I saw him start to move toward the off-limits area and so I looked up. He was looking directly at me. He said “Mom!” and pointed. I took this to mean, “Mom, look over there!” 

I asked him what he was doing and he pointed and said “Mom! Hone!” 

I looked back at my “hone,” while secretly keeping an eye on him and watched him slowly move toward the forbidden area, never taking his eyes off me. I’d look up every once in awhile and we’d repeat the “Mom! Hone!” But he just kept slowly making his way over there. 

When I finally decided that he had pushed the limits too far (literally and figuratively), we had the conversation about how he wasn’t supposed to be going over there. He didn’t take it well. 

He’s tried the distraction tactic several times since then, but he also implements the “hide while being naughty” tactic, too. He’ll grab whatever forbidden object he has and run and hide with it. If I follow him, he’ll do the “Mom!” and point in the other direction. 

Case in point: I asked him to use his pen on paper instead of his hand. He looked at me, didn’t say anything and went behind the couch. I continued to sit where I was, but I followed him with the camera on my phone to see just how naughty he’d try to be if he thought I wasn’t looking. 

Looks like I’ll need to be on my toes with this one.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April Showers (of Gifts)

I turned 35 recently. It came and went without much fanfare or emotional reflection. It’s noteworthy mainly because of its proximity to the big 30 and the over-the-hill 40. But other than that, I didn’t pay it too much attention. 

But Scott and the girls, on the other hand, treated me like it was my 5th, 16th and 21st birthday all rolled into one. 

The first gifts came a few days before my birthday: a beautiful Easter lily and a bag of my favorite candy. I didn’t quite understand why they were giving me my present early, but I was appreciative nonetheless. 

The next day brought a much-desired new quilt for my bed and fuzzy socks (I love fuzzy socks).

The day after that came a very-much-desired new pot and pan set. We’re basically cooking on our “set” from college, which has seen better days. It was past time and I was more excited than a person should be about having new pots and pans. 

I thought that was the big finale, but Scott had one last trick up his sleeve. 

I was in the car when I got the email (at a stoplight, of course!) and the tears just started falling as soon as I read it. “One night (date TBD in April or May) just for you at the bed and breakfast West of town.”

I love candy and plants. I desperately needed and wanted the quilt and pots. But this, this was something completely unexpected. At the time, sleeping through the night wasn’t a thing at our house, and alone time is all but nonexistent. For a sometimes over-loaded, over-touched, over-worked introverted mother, the idea of a night to myself is something I desperately crave. 

April is turning out to be quite a spectacular month! 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sleepless in Kansas

Sleep. Some have it. Some don’t. 

For the past year, I’ve been in the don’t camp. I mentioned in a “recent” post how we got to this sleepless state, so I won’t get into all the nitty gritty details here. But long story short, it has been the most painful year of my entire life. Which first off, says something about how fortunate I’ve been so far in life and second off, is strange because the very thing that made life painful also brought great joy — Henry the Hard. 

I’m a pretty empathetic person, so empathetic that I sometimes can feel pain that may or may not exist. Would Henry have felt abandoned if we did sleep training 6 or 9 months ago? Who knows. But the thought of it was too much for me to bear. Everyone told us that we had to be consistent and once we started the training, we couldn’t waffle. I was not confident that I could do that if I couldn’t explain to him what we were doing. So, I waited and suffered through long, sleepless, painful nights. Until recently when we made the decision to sleep train Henry. His language and comprehension skills were improving — I knew he understood what it meant when we said “Henry go nighty-night.” And I was very, very quickly reaching the end of my empathetic rope. 

So, we talked to some sleep consultants — yes, those are a thing. My boss referred us to them and I’m so grateful for their guidance. Together, we developed a strategy. I told them how hard it was going to be. Henry’s very temperamental. He’s not easy-going or flexible. He’s a screamer. He’s been throwing tantrums since the womb. I promise, this is going to be very, very difficult. 

I had a theory that Scott was going to be the key to all of this. He has a good relationship with Henry and Henry is more easy-going around him. So, we started there — with Scott putting Henry to bed at bedtime. The first two nights, I had to leave the house. I was a total nervous wreck. I knew it was going to be so awful. Hours of screaming, pleading to be rocked to sleep. 

Except it wasn’t. There was not a single tear. Not a single scream. 

That was a few weeks ago. Scott puts him to bed every night without issue and within the last few days, he’s been sleeping the whole night through. If he does wake in the night, most of the time it just takes Scott going in there for a few minutes to reassure him. 

The sleep consultants said to try bedtime and then overnights first before we worked on nap time. Last week, I was having a pretty rough time rocking him to sleep at nap time, so I put him in his crib and told him “Henry, nighty-night in Henry’s bed.” The first day it took about 30 minutes before he was out (no tears or screams) and the next three days were about 10 minutes each. 


Seriously, I’m pretty sure this kid’s sole purpose in life is to screw with me. Who knows if it would have been that easy 6 months ago or if it was that easy because we waited. But I’m just glad it hasn’t met my expectations. 

And I feel like a human again, y’all. I feel happy and light and like sunshine is radiating through me. I can’t convey in words just how huge that change is. This past year, I’ve been living inside a storm cloud. Always exhausted. Always grumpy. Trapped in a sleepless cycle. So, if you’re wondering why the sun is brighter or the butterflies are happier in Kansas, now you know. The storm cloud has lifted. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Girl Time

You heard how hard life is with Henry. A natural next question is how the heck have the girls been handling his domination. And what a good question that would be! 

It certainly isn’t easy. They love their little brother, of course, but they have had to begrudgingly adapt to King Henry’s rule just like we have. Scott and I developed a divide and conquer approach after Henry was born and most of the time, he gets the girls. Now that Henry is older and done nursing, we’ve done a better job of balancing the time, but it’s certainly not ideal yet. 

The other day the girls had reached their limit. Grace told me, “Mom, all you ever do is spend time with Henry. We want Mommy time, too.” 

My heart sunk. He’s so demanding of me physically, mentally and emotionally that by the end of the day, there isn’t much left. I know I'm not being the Mom that I want to be for them. I feel like I’m giving and giving and giving all day, but I know they still aren't getting enough. 

So, we had a Mommy-daughter breakfast date. No screaming Henry. No worries about milk allergies. No “hurry up, your brother is terrorizing the restaurant.” No “hurry up, your brother needs to nap.” No “hurry up, your brother needs a diaper change.” 

It was a nice reminder of how relaxing life can be with just the girls and how much I’ve missed them, too. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Henry the Hard

So, I bet you thought this blog was dead. Well, do I have a surprise for you! Zombie blog!! 

I really, really want Henry to have some idea of what his childhood was like. “Oh, look, another blog about Claire burping and there’s one about Grace’s toenails, but I’ve got like 6 blogs, Mom.” 

Well, Henry, my dearest son, you are hard. So hard. Harder than I could have ever imagined. The root of your difficulty is your sleep troubles. Let’s start there. 

I didn’t have to sleep train the girls. I didn't even know sleep training was a thing. They were great night sleepers. We just laid them in their beds and they’d drift to sleep on their own and sleep for 12 hours most nights. I had no idea how lucky I was. I had no idea how important a solid chunk of sleep is to one’s sanity. 

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of Henry’s sleep disruption. Before last February, he slept fine. Not always through the night because he was nursing, but I never had to rock him to sleep. Cue an ear infection in February, which coincided with the newfound ability to stand in his crib, combined with four new teeth and starting solids and boom — my good sleeper was gone. 

We had three glorious months over the summer where he magically started sleeping through the night on his own. Then, in September, he got hand, foot and mouth and five teeth at the same time and boom — gone again. 

I rock him to sleep each night and then usually get up once or twice depending on whether he’s sick/doesn't feel good/whatever. It can be for 30 minutes or three hours. The cause of his night wakings vary. He’s had one virus after another this winter, so that’s the bulk of the recent problems. 

Things have improved this month, but most nights, he’s up at least once. I have always had a theory that if he could put himself to sleep at the beginning of the night, he’d do a better job of getting back to sleep on his own in the middle of the night. But I dreaded just dropping him in the crib and forcing him to do it himself without the understanding of why I wasn’t rocking him. Now that he gets the concept of “nighty night,” Scott and I have decided we are going to try to fix this problem. I’ll let you know how things go. Cross your fingers for me. And maybe your toes. Yeah, definitely your toes. 

Other than sleep, which occupies much of my headspace (but not much of my life!), Henry is hard in other ways, too. He is a very determined and strong-willed little guy. He knows what he wants, and almost always it’s something he isn’t supposed to have, and when he doesn’t get it, he screams. Like SCREAMS. He threw his first temper tantrum at the young age of 12 months and his temper hasn’t improved with age. I don’t give in to his screams, but that doesn’t seem to have any impact on him using them. Here are some of the things that Henry hates: 

1. Me being in a different room
2. Me being distracted even in the same room
3. Me not carrying him 
4. Me changing his diaper
5. Me not giving him something he wants 

Yep, Henry spends most of his day screaming at me. I cannot wait for those language skills. People joke “You say that now, but just wait until he won't stop talking.” And I’m like “no, seriously, you have no idea. I NEEED this kid to talk.” 

So, the first blog back in awhile and I spend the first 2/3 of it complaining. Ha. Well, at least you know why. I don’t sleep through the night and I spend my days being screamed at by a tyrannical toddler. 

But let’s get to the good stuff. This child. This baby boy of mine that drives me crazy all day and all night long. He has stolen my heart. In between the hard, my baby has wrapped himself around my heart and nestled into my soul. The one — emphasis on one — upside to all the time we spend together in the middle of the night is the bond we have formed. He is mine and I am his. A day will come when he blows me off. When I ask how school was and he doesn’t answer because he’s already in his room with the door shut. A day when he chooses friends over Mom. A day when I’m no longer his #1 gal. I know that day is coming and when it comes, I’ll be ready. I’ve taken these nine months of sleepless, Henry-filled nights and I’ve tucked them away. The hours he’s spent resting his head on my chest and clinging to my neck are being safely held in my memories. And when that day comes and I feel like crying at the sight of my baby growing up, I will close my eyes, open that lockbox and remember that I soaked up way more than my fair share of baby cuddles. How about that for glass half full, huh? 

So, just to sum things up: Henry is really hard, but totally worth it. Love you, baby boy.