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!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

miscellany

i'm not sure why, but i never grow tired
of pictures of a naked child in big shoes.
john obliges on a regular basis.
three unrelated notes of recent adorable behavior. just little vignettes that color our lives everyday!

dad's shoes
sunday afternoon, we were getting ready to go to my cousin's baby shower. my husband and i were getting dressed, while john ran around still unclothed. he ran into our bedroom and put on his daddy's sandals and walked out into the living room.

he looked at me, a big grin on his face, and said, "i wear dad's shoes!"

it's the first time he's ever said "dad" instead of "daddy," and i instantly thought - when did you turn 15?!?

hugs
finally - FINALLY - john has gotten back into the school routine and doesn't cry when i drop him off at school. and this week he even started in a new class, with the other two year olds (so big!) and he's been doing great. it helps that he knows most of the kids and his new teacher pretty well, but i've still be really impressed with how he's being such a big boy. (and he tells me every day that he's a big boy.)

yesterday when i picked him up from school, there was only one little boy left in the room with him. when i walked in, the little boy came running over to me, so i was talking to him for a minute. john came running up next, and i thought he would vie for my attention. instead, he looked at the other little boy, looked and me, and said, "that's aiden! he's my friend. i hug aiden." and gave aiden a big hug and a kiss on the forehead.

i said, "john, that's very sweet! tell aiden to have a great night."

and john said, "bye, aiden! have a great night! see you tomorrow!"

(as an aside, i SO wish i could transcribe the way john says tomorrow. it's not quite "tomowoww," it's not quite "tomorrow," it's somewhere in between and i melt every time he says it.)

reassurance
and finally, last night in the bath, i told john i needed him to lay down in the tub and look at the ceiling so i could rinse his hair. he's not at all afraid of the water and willingly puts his face and head in, but he doesn't love being held down on his back while i rinse him off.

so there was a little quiver in his voice as i scrubbed his hair and he said with his eyes clenched closed, "great job, mommy. great job washing john's hair. great job, mommy. great job!"

my little cheerleader ... to reassure himself, he cheers his mommy on. what a sweet little spirit he has. we're so so blessed to have this little positivity monster around.

Friday, July 27, 2012

here, mommy.

this morning, as we waited for the daycare to open, i said to john, "i don't know why i'm so tired, boo. i got nothing."

and i looked back at him and saw:


and he said, "here, mommy," as he handed me a cheerio. "now mommy have cereal!"

Thursday, July 26, 2012

shift

playing with daddy before school
this is such an age of change for john - for all two-year-olds, i suppose, but he's the one i know the best!

next week he will be moved up to the two-year-old class at his daycare. that means no sippy cups at school - big kid cups instead! - and starting toward potty training with his peers. it means a new teacher, though john's been visiting with that class for a while and loves all the teachers at the daycare. it means more organized learning, which is awesome ... and crazy, since i still so clearly remember bringing my barely-six-pound infant to the baby room almost exactly two years ago when i started back to work after john was born.

but there is an even larger shift afoot, which i knew was coming ... since john was born, i've been assuring my husband, "a day is coming when mommy will be chopped liver and all john will want to do is follow daddy around. don't feel bad that he is so mommy-centered now ... the daddy show is coming!"

last night, john woke up crying in the middle of the night. screaming, really. and he wasn't screaming for mommy ... he wanted his daddy.

i brought john to our bedroom to snuggle daddy and then back to his room to go to bed, but he wasn't having it. i put him back down in his bed and figured he'd cry it out. but he continued to shriek, so daddy went to check on him ... and rocked him ... and put him down. and he cried again, but just for a moment, then drifted off to sleep.

i'm glad that john is leaning more on his daddy. he does, after all, have an awesome daddy who is thrilled to take care of him. and it's another step in growing up, that he doesn't HAVE to cling to mommy. that's all wonderful, right?

but there is a little bittersweet tug at my heart at no longer being the center of john's universe. and you experienced mommies out there, i know, i know ... it will only get worse from here as friends and school and ultimately jobs and a wife are more important than i am. and i know, john will always have a special place in his heart for mama. but humor me now, ok? this is his first step. and mine. and as they say, that first step's a doozy.

(she says with a tear in her eye.)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

oh, hi!

these sleepy blue eyes melt me so.
i (barely) made it to the gym again this morning. i say this not to brag, but because it's the backdrop for this morning's sweetness. 

i got up early (not early enough to be on time) and when i was all ready except for john, i went into his room singing the silly little morning song i use on the days i have to wake him up. he didn't stir. i turned on the lamp and went to his crib and started rubbing his back. a little movement, but not a peep. and heavy eyes that didn't open.

finally i picked up his not-quite-24-lbs of dead weight and carried him to his changing table. i lay him down and began changing his diaper. he rubbed his eyes, looked at me, smiled, and said, "oh, hi!" as if he was surprised to see me there!

he cooperatively got dressed, sat up and asked for his shoes. i asked if he wanted to give daddy hugs goodbye and he did, along with kisses and an i love you or three. as we walked out the door, he said, "have a great day, daddy!"

in the car on the way to daycare, we talked about how john was going to play with his friends today. "i be nice," he said. "be nice to friends." i asked him if he would be happy to see his teachers, and he said enthusiastically, "yes, ma'am! get out of the car in a minute, at school."

feeling somewhat optimistic that we might avoid a crying fit this morning, we arrived at school, got out of the car, and walked in. john didn't fight - he walked with me the whole way. we got to his room, and he walked in and saw his teacher and his friends. "good morning!" he said.

i leaned down next to him, knowing darn well i was tempting fate - i should run out the door while he's not paying intention. "may i have a kiss?" i asked instead?

"yes, mommy," he said, and planted one on my cheek. and i walked out of the room ...

and he didn't cry.

from the moment he opened his eyes to the moment i left was a sum total of 22 minutes. but the amount of sweetness in that brief time is getting me through a very tired day. i can't wait to hug him again tonight!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

sharing

big boy eating goldfish.
hey parents, john's mom could use some advice!

john has recently been having some problems with sharing. i know, that's pretty universal two-year-old stuff. i'm not concerned, per se, but i am interested in how other people have helped coach their kids into being better sharers.

here's how the problems show up: 
  • seems to only be at daycare/sunday school. with cousins/friends/etc, he seems ok
  • when another kiddo has something john wants, he will, of course try to take it. when a teacher or the child says no, he will throw himself to the floor for a massive fit. when he doesn't get his way, he will cool off quickly (a matter of minutes) and then be totally fine.
  • if another kiddo comes to play with something john has (even if it is big enough to share, like the toy house or kitchen etc), john will "defend" his toy - he will say the child's name, say no, and sometimes even push the other child away. when a teacher corrects him, john will begrudgingly let the other kid play with him, but he's not happy.
the strangest thing about it all is that it's not EVERY time ... and it's not just when he's tired, or hungry, or anything. and i seldom to never witness these behaviors, since they happen mostly in larger social settings versus when i am around on playdates or whatever. so does anyone have any ideas of how to help john share better? he's on the right path ... we just want to encourage the good and get rid of the bad ...

Monday, July 23, 2012

whirlwind

i'm banking on the fact that one day, john will
be very mad at be for publishing this photo.
but come on, naked baby doing somersaults.
how could i pass it up?

it was a pretty standard busy weekend. laundry, family time, a little bit of rest. my husband and i did get to go see "dark knight rises" together, which was an awesome date. (i have been a huge batman fan since i was about three. in fact, i was batman something like six halloweens in a row as a kid. not batgirl - batman. get it right.)

but it was a lovely weekend. nothing earthshattering ... just nice. so here is the monday morning highlight reel.

first row: left/middle - john works on his ball handling. right - "mommy, i
ride a TIGER!" second row: study of a boy and his dog. and no, 
i didn't tell him to take his clothes off. he's just a naked sort of kid.










Friday, July 20, 2012

i stop crying

i dare you resist that grin.
hard to believe it was hysterical tears
three minutes later.
every since we got back from alaska, john's been struggling with me leaving him at daycare each morning. the first morning, he cried from the time we parked the car, through the walk in the door, to his classroom, and i had to put him straight into his teacher's arms because he wasn't staying there voluntarily.

it's gotten somewhat better each day. one morning, instead of walking to his room, we danced to his room - hey, anything to keep the kiddo happy.

by now, we talk about school on the way, and he seems ok with it. when we park, he gladly gets out of the car. he even seems excited to see his teachers, play with his friends, and eat breakfast (not necessarily in that order). he'll let me carry him - or sometimes walk - to his room, right up to the table where he normally eats.

but then, then it all falls apart. he can't stand to let go of me, won't sit in a chair, and breaks down and howls as i sneak out the door.

and maybe the worst part of it is, john knows it's a problem and he wants to do better! he tells me every morning before we leave the house, "i stop crying. i big boy." when i ask him if he is going to cry when we get to school, he says, "no, momma, i big boy! i stop crying!" and if you could see his little lip trembling as he tries SO SO SO hard not to lose it, you would cry yourself.

i know this will pass. i know it's normal. i know every parent goes through this.

but it breaks my heart every morning. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

little adventures

can you identify this bird?
maybe a turkey vulture? but that's a guess.
perhaps my favorite part of being john's mom is that even the most mundane happenings are an adventure for us. i have a new-found desire to appreciate the wonder and wildness of everyday life - to stop and look around me and to absorb everything.

this morning, three doors down from our house on our way out of the neighborhood, i saw a big odd bird in a yard. two years ago, i probably would have glanced at it and kept driving.

but with john in mind, i pulled to the side of the road and stopped the car. and we watched the bird in the yard for about two minutes. i asked john what color the bird was, what the bird was doing, if it was a big bird or a little bird. ("not BIG bird, mommy. big bird is yellow.")

there's nothing SO remarkable about a turkey vulture hanging out in my neighbor's yard. what IS remarkable is everything. all the things we take for granted every single day, that we drive by and hardly notice.

one day when he understands, i'll have to thank john for reminding me to stop and take pictures of silly birds when we see them. it makes life MUCH more fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

routine (ha!)

my little morning imp
i think we are back to "normal" now, post-cruise - whatever passes for normal at our house, anyway. john's back to roughly his normal sleep schedule, buddy's new crate arrived and is successfully installed, and we've been back to work over a week now.

but today i threw everything for a loop by deciding that it was the perfect morning to play susie homemaker ... while i got ready for work.

so there i am, half-dressed and not made up, lunches not packed, john running around in a diaper, "boiling" eggs in the oven (seriously - check it out) when i look at the clock and realize i'm supposed to leave in 25 minutes.

and then a miracle occurred, because we left the house 24 minutes later.

so ... normal is crazy ... but miraculous. does that about sum it up?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

a whole new dog

these are not ACTUALLY buddy's pills - he's on the generic!
dollar sensible little fellow that he is.
so, our family got a new dog when we got back from alaska.

ok, not really - we still just have buddy. but the buddy we have now is a completely different beast altogether. 

we were baffled at first. he seeks out affection - he'll actually come find you and ask to be petted. if he's laying down and you walk past him, he might lift his head - but he doesn't jump up, afraid. heck, he even let my husband refill his water bowl while he was eating food right there. and the capper: last night we went on a family walk, and he was darn close to loose-leash walking the whole way. oh, he needed strong corrections, but nothing like the nonstop pull-fest it typically is.

we had no idea what to make of this amazing transformation. did he really miss us that much? did he think we'd left him at the kennel for good? had he been abducted by aliens who rewired his brain?

and then it hit us: after six weeks on xanax, we're seeing the "real" buddy come to the forefront. the buddy who's not paralyzed by 60 forms of fear and anxiety. the buddy who wants to be a part of a snuggly loving family dogpile. the buddy who wants to please his mommy and daddy and listens and - oh dare i say it - might even be trainable to learn BETTER behavior and "tricks!"

i spoke with the vet, and the general consensus is, buddy is a dog who needs to be medicated. we will find the lowest effective dosage, and we will continue to work on behavioral efforts to improve his general state of mind and specific fears (thunder). and our "indestructible" crate is to be delivered today, so we will have a way to contain him as well.

and you know what? it's worth it. it's all worth it. it's phenomenal to see the sweet, gentle, awesome dog we have always suspected buddy could be, starting to come out of the woodwork.

Monday, July 16, 2012

fashionisto

john's fashion choices rock.
on saturday, i left the house early to visit a friend. daddy and john hung out, then went grocery shopping together. by the time i came home, john was ready to go down for a nap.

as i kissed him and snuggled him to put him down, i couldn't help noticing that the clothes on the changing table were composed of the following:
  • one (1) long sleeved grey thermal teeshirt
  • one (1) pair of blue motorcycle swim trunks
  • one (1) pair of blue "ernie" shoes
  • one (1) pair of black socks
now, i know moms joke about what happens when their husbands dress the kids, but my husband generally does just fine in that department. puzzled, i walked out to the living room as john fell asleep.

"what's the deal with john's outfit?" i asked.

"oh. that's what he wanted to wear. he picked it himself."

as far as toddler-picked outfits go, it could have been far worse. but i still got a little giggle out of my little swimmer in his thermal shirt on a, 85 degree muggy day.

*  *  *
but john may not have felt so good about it. the next day, i walked into the kitchen and this is what i saw:

we had a short conversation in which i assured him that a bad fashion choice was NO reason to wear a paper bag on your head. i think it was a good moment in parenting, don't you?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

travelogue: anchorage

post-cruise: anchorage, alaska
after hubbard glacier, we cruised along for the rest of that day. and by early the next morning, it was time: the cruise was over. we deboarded from the lovely millennium and sadly waved farewell.

but the good news was, the adventure wasn't over! we still had nearly two full days in anchorage.

you see, my grandfather was stationed in anchorage in 1956. my mom actually lived there for about a year as a infant. of course mom has no memories of that time, but we were all pretty excited to see where they used to live, and explore the town that has changed so much since my grandfather's time there.

the cruise ship had docked in seward, so we boarded a bus as a family and took the scenic drive to anchorage. you could make the trip in two hours if you hurried - but we didn't. we stopped at a little lodge for a delicious snack on the road, and then at a wildlife preserve for injured and sick wild animals.
this is the bear that took the other one bear's hotdog. if you
ask john about it today, he will still say, "be nice, bear!"
after the wildlife preserve, we headed to portage lake so we could see portage glacier. in my grandfather's time, there wasn't a visitor center there, but you could see the glacier from the edge of the lake closest to the road. nowadays, the glacier has receded quite a bit. they've put in a visitor center, and you take a short boat trip out on the lake to get to where the glacier is today. it's not nearly as remarkably huge as hubbard glacier, but you can get closer to it, and it's still pretty amazing to watch it calve into the lake.
john on the little boat - in the crew only area. he's part of the crew!
utterly delighted at something or other -
not sure if it's the glacier or the boat!
playing with a glacier piece the
captain brought on the boat
after the glacier cruise, we road in a sky tram to the top of mount alyeska. it was kind of a quick trip - we ate lunch at the top and that's a little hectic with a kiddo! - so somehow i have no pictures. my husband might have some somewhere and i'll post them another time if i can - the view was beautiful.

from there it was on to our hotel in anchorage. after family dinner, we all collapsed sleepily for another set of adventures the next day.

our little family decided we needed a very kid-friendly day that would let john have a great time, so we headed to the anchorage market fair. it's sort of a farmer's market type of set up with craft vendors and local artisans. some of it was pretty tourist-trap-y, but a lot of it was quite cool, and they had a nice sidewalk chalk area where john got to "color the ground!"
the blob is john's work - someone else
had already drawn the figure
from there we headed to the anchorage museum, which features an awesome area called the imaginarium. it's basically a couple of rooms filled with science experiments and playthings that let kids run pretty wild (in a good way) and are completely kid friendly. so we could sit at a distance and watch john explore gravity, and watch one of those perpetual motion ball machines, and play with bubbles, and then figure out how to make a plastic ball hover in the air over a jet of air blowing upwards:
i love the hair blowing upward, too
while we were enjoying the imaginarium, a lot of the family rented bikes to drive around anchorage. and this is where you learn the true awesomeness of cousin d and other-one-n. they rented a TANDEM bike:

you can't make this up
and then reconvened at the hotel to smoke their pipes:

this is especially funny when you remember that
they are 18 and 19 years old. not 75.
actually, their bike trip was pretty eventful - it got cut short because the tandem bike fell apart. and the rest of the family had to turn around early because they encountered a mama moose and her baby on the nature trail.

we all met back at the hotel for a last dinner together, and the next day we were off on our planes across the country. the south carolina crew left first - uncle d, aunt m, cousin d, cousin s, other-one-nick on their plane to seattle and then south carolina. then the rest of us, to seattle. from there, grammie and uncle nick and "uncle" l were off to baltimore. gigi and great-grandpa and our family went to houston, then split for ft lauderdale and new orleans respectively.

and it was done. but we will never, EVER, ever forget our amazing alaskan adventure.





Friday, July 13, 2012

travelogue: excursions (hubbard glacier)

day 7: hubbard glacier, alaska
so this wasn't technically an excursion - there is nowhere to get out at hubbard glacier. but the ship sails up a narrow channel for a couple of hours, and suddenly at the end is this monstrous beautiful blue glacier. how close a ship can get is different every day and dictated by the coast guard. this day, we got within a half-mile of it. and honestly ... that was plenty close.

there are not words to capture the true scale of this crystalline beast. one of my few goals for the trip was achieved this day, too - my husband and i sat in a hot tub and watched the glacier outside. the air was cold (though not arctic) even in the aquadome, the water was hot, and the glacier was truly breathtaking.

we even got to watch it calve several times, including one that was so big, the wave it created rocked the entire ship.

it's hard to get the scale on these, but they're each at least
about 5-8 feet tall, just floating in the sea around the ship.

the crowd on the windy top deck of the ship, checking out the glacier
and the mountains not far behind it.

a little calving - not the big one, but still very impressive in
it's own right.
stunning. just stunning. and surreal to see right in front of you.

travelogue: excursions (skagway)



day 6: skagway, alaska
we spent the fourth of july in sleepy skagway, alaska, population approximately 800 (not including summertime visitors or 10,000 people from cruise ships that day!). the town featured such festivities as a railroad spike driving contest, a slow bike race, etc. quite the exiting time for a small town! 

my husband and i chose to do a bike trip through nearby dyea, a beautiful temperate rain forest opening up on some tidal mud flats between the mountains. dyea used to be a mining town, but when the railroad was built in skagway around 1900, everyone moved from dyea to skagway and left next to nothing but a few relics behind.

we didn't see any wildlife that day, but what breathtaking scenery again - are you tired of hearing that???
the mudflats and mountains and stream and ... gosh. can i go back?
while my husband and i biked, grammie took john on the adventure of HIS lifetime - a dog-sledding excursion. they rode a summer training sled pulled by sled dogs, then got to snuggle and play with puppies and grown up sled dogs as part of their socialization training. i'm not sure who loved it more, john or grammie ... but i know they had a blast, and john came home with a cute little stuffed sled dog he named "snap" after his favorite real-life sled dog of the day. i think my mom has some pictures, and i'll post them later if they turn up!

travelogue: excursions (juneau)



day 5: juneau, alaska
so eleven 30-ton humpback whales synchronized swimming is a pretty tough thing to top, but we figured out how to do it: our five-glacier flightseeing tour on a seaplane, culminating in an incredible wild-caught fresh local salmon feast at the taku lodge. amazing scenery, incredible food, topped up with a close-up black bear sighting ... how could this possibly be my life??? 

i don't even like salmon, but the stuff we had at taku lodge was delicious. if that's what salmon tasted like in "real life," i'd eat it every day. grammie and my husband and i ate like pigs and soaked it all in.
the trusty seaplane that carried us over the amazing scenery
dorky johnsmom on a seaplane
mountains below
one of five glaciers we saw (on the left)
the amazingly gorgeous braided taku river
our lunchtime view from taku lodge - the aptly named taku glacier
moosehead overlooking our
lunch seats
enjoying some russian tea -
tea, oj, lemonade, cloves - mmmm
a wild black bear hanging around
the lodge
john was with gigi and great-grandpa again while we were on this excursion, and according to all reports, they had a blast as well.

travelogue: excursions (icy strait point)



day 4: icy strait point, alaska
icy strait point is a completely fictional town. it is not too far from hoonah, an actual small town, but it is in fact an old cannery that the cruise line purchased to use as a docking station for this particular stop. 

icy strait point! looks like ... a ... cannery.
there's no population at icy strait point. there IS the "world's tallest zip line," but i didn't partake of that. instead, we elected to go whale watching. when i was a kid, my grandparents used to take our family whale watching off of cape cod, so that is something near and dear to my heart. i was really hoping the whales would put on a good show, especially since john was with us for this excursion.

we got on our little whale-watching boat and set out.

john and grammie exploring the boat.

within literally moments (maybe 5 minutes? maybe less?) we saw a whale off near the shore, splashing and playing. he wasn't super close, but we checked him out for a little bit, but the captain (and the passengers!) were anxious to venture further out and see what kind of action was going on, so we moved on pretty quickly.

and we were quickly rewarded for exploring, because not much after THAT we encountered some rare whale behavior: a large humpback whale leaping and breaching! if you've ever seen this before, you know how breathtaking it is to see a 60,000 lb behemoth launch itself out of the water. they're fast, nimble, and agile - which you don't expect for their size. fortunately, my husband managed to snag a pic:
he wasn't QUITE as close as this looks - god bless the telephoto lens
my husband rented for the trip! - but it was still an amazing sight.
now, i can't lie about this one. i did not get to see that whale breaching. john had decided he wanted nothing to do with whales, so i was frustratedly chasing him around the boat, always on the wrong side at the wrong time to see anything. i was feeling pretty left out and annoyed as everyone else ooohed and aaahed, and i will even admit to some resentment as my husband got to snap away and take it all in.

but the whales made it up to me - oh how did they make it up to me. when we finally parted company from our breaching friend, we headed farther out, and soon encountered an even rarer (more rare?) whale behavior: bubble-net feeding. you see, humpback whales are mostly solitary critters. but for some reason, certain populations of whales have groups that have developed this ability to bubble-net feed, where groups up to as many as 20 whales work in concert to lay a net of bubbles and swim up through the middle to catch the trapped fish in their huge mouths.

our captain guessed that the group we saw might have been training to bubble-net feed, as some of the whales seemed to be younger and less adept. but there were eleven of them. at least. they couldn't get a better count. it could have been even more. here's what that looks like:

the one in the middle is the leader - she jumps up higher out of the
water and gives signal commands through her singing.

we watched them do this for probably two hours. they started close enough, and got EVEN closer. in between launching out of the water, we watched them swim and dive and play together. it was so amazing. you see these things on nature tv, but here it was right in front of us.

four blow spouts

five or six of our whale friends
diving all at once
waving goodbye - so amazingly
close to the boat!
even the crew of the boat were dumbfounded at what we were witnessing. several crew members told us this was the most whales and the closest they'd ever seen. and the captain even kept us out for 30 minutes longer than he was supposed to, because he kept saying "we'll just watch them come up one more time," and then "the first mate just persuaded me to watch one more after this!" it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime thing to observe.