in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. and june 2016 brought us brother ben to round out our trio.

i'm proud to have "mom" at the top of the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

party of five

boys in collared shirts.

i've missed this blog.

and this blog has missed me, too - it's missed a lot of change in our family, a lot of distance covered and a lot of growth, and oh yeah the addition of a third son.

it's missed outings and discoveries and pictures and trials and tribulations.

but mostly, it's missed pieces of the development of three really cool kids. and the evolution of their mommy as she tries to adapt to having three really cool kids and a really cool job and oh by the way a really cool husband and a pain in the ass but also cool dog.

and i, have missed writing.

so i shall try again.

john (+charlie + ben)'s mom works. and writes. and loves.

and welcomes you back to our adventure.

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 is already schooling me

the cause of - and solution to - most of my life's frustrations.

i did not ring in the new year as i had hoped. in fact, i did not ring in the new year at all.

the new year arrived somewhere in between rounds of charlie in his bedroom door screaming "me want to go downstairs!" and me, patiently as i could muster, placing him gently back in his bed and telling him i loved him, goodnight.

i finally collapsed in my bed around 2:30 a.m. after he finally, FINALLY, fell into a mommy-milk induced sleep and let me place him in his bed to stay. my last thought was a whispered prayer that please may these children sleep.

at 7:11 a.m., the tiniest feet in the house padded next to my bedside and asked to sleep with me, which translated to throwing elle belle at daddy and eating my chapstick. so much for sleep.

and i was mad. i didn't yell at charlie, but i did grump at both he and john to go upstairs and play. and when my husband got up to tend to them a while, i silently seethed in my bed, unable to go to sleep as they loudly ate breakfast and played in my living room. and when my husband came back to bed, i not-so-silently seethed to him. and then i cried, because i don't know how to do this. i'm just so tired.

*     *     *

this year, i have a new baby coming. this isn't going to simplify our lives.

i am setting this personal goal - not a resolution, and there's no absolute on whether i've reached it or not - for 2016: i want to practice being a more joyful mother.

yes, i am tired and resent my sleep being destroyed.

but i am also blessed to be woken by these charming, active, kind, intuitive, intelligent little boys each day.

how much better would their lives be - how much better would MY life be - if i greeted them each morning with a smile and a hug, and told them how glad i was to see them, even if i was exhausted and a little unhappy that i'd been woken after only a few hours?

so.

for 2016, i am going to try to wake up grateful each morning, and express my gratitude to these little men and their daddy (and the unknown little life that will join us mid year).

i won't promise sunshine and roses every morning.

i will probably fail as often as i succeed.

but i will try to wake up smiling and counting my blessings large and small.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

the saga of hurricane charlie

or, how to ring out the old year when
you're an ornery two year old

3:42 a.m.

wailing from upstairs wakes me from a dead sleep. it's the big bad kind of crying, where you just know someone needs you.

i head up the stairs in a groggy daze, softly calling "hey, charlie, mama's coming," as he howls for his mommy.

his voice sounds oddly close considering the closed door to his room. when i walk into his room, though, he's not there.

the door to the bathroom between john and charlie's rooms is open, as is the door to john's room beyond.

i walk through, and there i find charlie on his knees in desperation in his brother's room.

best i can tell, charlie woke up, and decided to get brother. but when he went to brother's room the bed was empty - because john was sleeping in the teepee across the room. devastated that he couldn't find brother, charlie just howled.

john slept as i collected charlie, closed the appropriate doors, and carried my sobbing little man into his bedroom. we nursed until i thought he was asleep. as i started to transfer him to his bed, though, he said, "me go downstairs with you." and a new round of howling began when i said no.

after trying the nursing and then transfer routine two more times, i thought we'd attempt to go downstairs and sleep in my bed. last weekend in baton rouge he successfully slept with us for the first time peacefully, so i thought there was a chance he'd doze off and we could sleep some more.

no dice.

as wiggly feet kicked daddy and busy hands swatted elle belle in my face, i decided we were going back upstairs.

the whole way up the stairs, he wailed, "please me go downstairs with you!" and the nursing and transferring routine failed again.

by now, i'm exhausted. i put him gently in his bed, told him i love him, and it's night night time. i exited the room as he screamed. before i hit the top of the stairs, i heard his door open and the howl: "me go downstairs with you!"

picked him up, put him in bed, tucked him in, told him i loved him, waited outside the door. ten seconds later, "me go downstairs with you!" as the door cracked open. we repeated this routine easily ten or 12 times.

finally, his behavior showed me just how exhausted he was. so we tried, one more time, the nurse and sleep process. and oh thank heavens, it worked. it worked! the kid was peacefully asleep. i crept back to bed, glancing at my clock ... at 5:42 a.m.

2:30 p.m.
daddy was home with us all day today, though i had a good bit of work to do. i also had a lunch date with a good friend, so daddy was home with the (napping) boys while i went out for a couple hours.

when i returned in the back door, i heard a voice from the direction of my bedroom. "me watch daniel tiger on daddy's ipad," said little charlie.

i didn't think much of it - in fact, i figured daddy was laying down on the bed next to him for a little rest, and had charlie watching some netflix to keep him occupied.

as i hung my purse, the little voice came again, "me watch daniel tiger on daddy's ipad?" and i realize charlie was asking, not telling. so i walked toward my bedroom, noticing first that there was no daddy on the bed, and second that charlie appeared to be lacking pants.

"where's your daddy?" i asked.

"me don't know, my daddy!" said charlie.

i walked closer to him, and as he stood up to hand me the ipad, i noticed he was not wearing a diaper either. i thought to myself, this is definitely not good.

glancing at the bed, i was pleasantly surprised to find no puddles. so i scooped charlie up to take him upstairs for a diaper, asking him again where his daddy was.

as we walked up the stairs, i noticed a faint poop-like smell.

"did you poopoo?" i asked charlie, assuming that maybe he'd gone in a diaper that he'd removed.

"right there!" he exclaimed gleefully, pointing to the second-to-the-top step.

sure enough. a pile of poop.

i glanced into the media room, and i found daddy. i brought the naked savage into the media room and said, "um, daddy? look what i found?"

it seems that while the boys napped, daddy had decided to use the well-deserved break to play some halo on his new xbox one. dutiful dad that he is, he had the sound turned low and was listening carefully for any action from the boys room.

what neither of us had anticipated was stealth charlie, who without saying a word or making a peep had climbed out of his bed, gone into the bathroom, removed his pants and his diaper, peed in the potty, headed downstairs, stopped to poop on the steps, and then sat on the bed to watch ipad.

"me sit on your pillow!" charlie reminded me excitedly.

a little cleanup and re-diapering and a load of laundry later, all was well. but jeez louise.

4:30 p.m.
i was in my office wrapping up my work.

big brother was still asleep, and daddy and charlie had been hanging out watching football.

daddy took a bathroom break.

in that break, stealth charlie struck again: he found a marker, colored the kitchen table, colored most of himself, colored the face of daddy's ipad, found a bag of sidewalk chalk, carried it upstairs, and colored on the carpet.

seriously, that fast, and that quiet.

hurricane charlie is a silent and dangerous storm. the terrible twos are awesome.

happy new year!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

light is beautiful

these boys in their "boats."

i'm not going to lie: there are days when i go to bed defeated and exhausted. there are days when i feel like there is no way i am possibly up to being the mom of these two boys, and also a wife and a professional and a friend and whatever else i am. those days are rough.

today, though - today is NOT one of those days.

these boys rocked my world today, and i couldn't be more grateful. daddy's at a football game tonight, so i've been "single parenting" (in big ol' fat quotes because i can't pretend to know even a piece of what that's really like).

this is not a coherently themed blog post. it's just a collection of stories of ways my children amazed me today.

#1: light is beautiful.
after charlie and i dropped john off at school this morning, we were cruising the additional mile or two up the road to charlie's school. we were talking about his friends, and the stuffed dog he was holding.

and suddenly, he says in a dumbfounded voice, "mommy! light is BEAUTIFUL!"

and i looked to the east, and there was a gorgeous bright sunrise. and a huge arch of a cloud sweeping across the expanse of the sky, reflecting gold.

charlie was spot on: the light was beautiful. 

and if my two year old hadn't pointed it out, i might've kept my traffic/stoplight/life blinders on and not ever glanced to my left.

thanks, charlie.

#2: good days, report cards, and more
john had a great day at school today - another day with just a star on his calendar, and no mention of rules broken or behavior reminders needed. in fact, when his teacher helped him into the car at pickup, she said, "another great day! i think this might just be the way things are now!"

i am sure they won't ALL be good days. but this is 10 (count 'em) in a row, and we're going to go ahead and celebrate that.

more to celebrate: it was report card day. and john's was way better than i expected. they don't do grades, of course, in kindergarten - just checks for skills used independently, and asterisks for "emerging skills." and he got almost all checks. and several of the asterisks will already start being better as his use of his hand improves, as they are writing and writing-related things.

but the report card wasn't the best part. the best part was the note from his teacher that brought me to tears. a note to john. that said that his smile makes her day, and that she's so proud of him for working hard to learn and to follow the school rules. that she is glad that they are together in kindergarten.

and i know she wrote a similar type of note for every child, because she's a great teacher and loves her kids. but damn. i might just frame that note.

#3: celebration time
after we picked charlie up from school, we decided to go to chick fil a for dinner and to play on their playplace. the boys had a blast. they played well with others, came out of the play area when they were overwhelmed (there were some big, loud, brash kids in there for a while that might've overwhelmed even me).

and charlie got brave, climbing the stairs to the slide with the big kids, exploring the car elevated in the air, and crawling happily through the tubes.

but then charlie tumbled in the tubes and banged his lip. he was bleeding. not a lot, but he was crying.

and a little girl they were playing with came to tell me charlie was crying. but before i could get into the door, john was up the stairs to help his brother. he found him, he held him and helped him stop crying, he wiped the little bit off blood of his face. and then he held him in his lap and they came down the slide together, john's arms wrapped protectively around his baby brother.

in that moment, they were both at their best. brave charlie, trying new things and dealing with the licks he took. hero john, compassionately looking out for his baby brother. both of them handling what was to them a challenging situation, with aplomb and love for each other.

these boys. i am so grateful for these boys.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

my amazing john

spelling his sight words with cereal

so much of the "public" attention i've paid john lately has been about our challenges - how to cope with sensory processing disorder, how to behave in kindergarten, etc.

but every single day, john reminds me what a blessing he is to me. he has a perspective on life, and the world around him, that brings me into focus. he has a way of saying things that changes me and makes me better, every single day.

last night about ten minutes after he'd gone to bed, i heard a slightly angst-ridden "mommy?" from upstairs. expecting a normal "i need some more water" or "my sheets aren't straight," i went to check on him.

instead, he explained that he kept hearing "the mountain king" song from his music class in his brain. the sounds his diffuser made were "changing into the music" and it was a scary song and it wouldn't go away.

i immediately understood, because his brain is a small version of my own. "oh, john," i said, "the EXACT same thing happens to mommy. all the time, the sounds around me turn into music in my brain. there is nothing to be afraid of," i assured him.

i explained to him that the cool thing is, since the music is in his brain, he can control what it is. i laid with him in bed and we invented new, cheerful songs to the sounds of the diffuser. i told him that i hear music everywhere, and that it's a special way our brains organize things. we find patterns in things, and it makes music in our minds. i told him that if he sang the cheerful song to himself as he fell asleep, he'd be dreaming sweet dreams in no time.

"but i WAS asleep when i heard the mountain king song!" he said.

so i explained that there's a tiny place in between sleeping and waking, where our brains can have crazy dreams. i told him that very frequently, in that little gap, i dream that i'm walking on a curb and i fall down, and i jump myself awake. 

we laughed at the idea of jumping in your sleep. but then in a very concerned voice, john asked me, "but mommy, why is my brain's one eye open when the other one is closed?"

so we talked a little about how there's just a very brief moment when your brain is partway but not all the way asleep. and i showed him with my eyes how they can close a split second apart, but that in that brief split second is where we have our falling-off-a-curb and mountain-king-song dreams.

john asked me to stay with him a few minutes longer, and we snuggled and sang the cheerful songs along with the diffuser. then he told me i could go, and pulled his covers up to his ears "to keep the scary songs out," and within moments he was fast asleep.

it never ceases to amaze me, to experience these idiosyncrasies of my own brain through the lens of his innocence - and his precociousness. my brain is a strange place, and it seems the landscape of john's mind is similar to mine ... with the addition of my husband's idiosyncrasies, too, he says. that's a lot in a special little brain.

i am so grateful, though, that john can ask these questions, and he and i can walk through it all together. i am so grateful for the opportunity to understand myself a little better as i help john understand the world.

and i am grateful for the sweet little voice that whispers, "you're the best mommy ever" as he pulls his comforter up to his head.




Monday, October 26, 2015

drama

video

in the video above, charlie is dramatically re-enacting a fall that never actually happened. see how deliberately he steps on the cup he didn't actually trip over? and tumbles to the ground he didn't actually land on?

we've been talking about drama a lot in our family the past couple days. here are a couple of things we're in agreement ARE drama:
  • yelling really loud when you barely bump your toe
  • screaming at your brother when he takes a toy you were playing with
  • pretending to cry when you don't get what you want for dinner
  • grunting at a parent who won't cave in to your every desire
  • squealing "mommmmyyyyy" at the top of your lungs from the playroom because you want some water
if you thought little girls had a corner on drama, i can assure you they do not.

on the plus side, when we talk about drama, there is usually some laughter to come. as in the video below ... where charlie dramatically re-re-enacts a fall that never actually happened. 

video

now that giggle is a sound i could listen to all day long.







Friday, October 23, 2015

dancing monkeys in jammies

pajamaed monkeys ham it up.

it's friday. are you dancing yet?

i'm dancing. not only is our whole family maybe finally getting over the various cruddy illnesses we have had for the past two weeks, but ... drumroll please ...

john had another great day at kindergarten today. for those of you not keeping track as diligently as i am (which is, you know, like the whole world), that's SIX straight days of awesome. which is a NEW RECORD. and i'm dancing.

i'm also dancing because of that little pup on the left in the pic up there. his conversations on the way to school in the morning make my day so much brighter.

yesterday, he told me all the things he misses when he's at school: "i miss my couch. i miss my chair. i miss my elle belle." but then he paused. "i ... see my friends? see amy? see halle? see 'livia? i have GREAT day!" what a skill, to talk yourself out of an i-don't-wanna-leave-the-house funk.

and today was a singing day. he brought his little puppy dog who sings a bunch of children's songs, and he kept making the puppy sing "head, shoulders knees and toes." and as he sang about his toes, i danced. i'm still dancing.

happy weekend!