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!

Friday, September 28, 2012

ladies' night

if you look closely, you'll see a fluorescent green
monkey attached to my back as we swim at the camp.
last night was ladies' night with my aunt and her friends - when my husband and i moved to baton rouge, we were so lucky to be instantly absorbed by their social group and had instant friends here (along with family, of course).

it was wonderful to go out with these awesome gals and just hang out. i was a little bummed to not see john before he went to bed, but overall it was a great evening.

and this weekend, we're going to two birthday parties for john's friends from school - he's quite the popular little fellow, apparently. got a heck of a social schedule!

happy friday!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

mommy, you happy?

my breakfast companion
the evening after my wallow-at-home-eating-ice-cream day last week (when we found out about the miscarriage), john could tell i wasn't quite myself. 

he sat down next to me on the couch and said, "mommy, you sad?"

"yes, baby. mommy's sad. can mommy have a kiss?"

john planted a big kiss on my cheek. i said, "now mommy's happy because she has her john."

and nearly once a day ever since, john has said, "mommy not sad. you happy! you have your john!"

i am awed by the wisdom of this kiddo.



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

honestly

his face is even dirtier than it looks
i do have super-cute john stories today, since he played so awesomely with the neighbor kiddos last evening and got dirty and sweaty and messy and had fun. he was well-behaved and played with his friends and shared and had an awesome time. which means mom had an awesome time watching him play and being so proud of what a big boy he is.

but honestly ... i'm having a tough day today. feeling a little blue and a little funky. all of which is, i know, a part of the process. so i'll be ok. i'm just feeling sad today.

Monday, September 24, 2012

whatever normal is

what does the aftermath of a day of playing at the camp, throwing sticks for dogs to swim after, going "fast in a boat!" and swimming in the river look like?

something like this:
'bout sums it up.
three minutes down the road from the family camp yesterday, john was passed out with kitty in arms. 

it was a good weekend of family time. we went to the balloon fest on saturday evening and caught the balloon glow. john loved it. he kept telling me about the balloons lighting up, and asking to see the eagle balloon again. he told us he wanted to get a balloon to take home. i had to convince him that it wouldn't fit in our house. i think next year we'll spend a longer time at the festival, because it was really a pretty cool environment.

then sunday was the camp, with lots of family members. it was a great escape, and i was *so* very proud of john swimming in the river with us. he had his life vest on, and he mostly hung onto my back and shoulders and did some little kicks, but he had a good time and didn't panic even when he got water in his face or went under a tiny bit. even though it always spooks me a little to be floating in that swampy water with no clue what else is swimming around me ... it is extremely relaxing to float in that river with the family and just hang out.

and then it was monday again - that just keeps happening. fleeting weekends, quick weeks, and suddenly it will be october. where does the time go?

Friday, September 21, 2012

lessons from a two year old

recognize this toy? still as captivating as
when we were young.
for probably pretty apparent reasons, we've been really appreciating john even more than usual this week. and i know it's a bit of an old chestnut that you learn more from your kids than they do from you, john's had two sayings this week that are really ringing true to me.

i got this
i think this one started out literally - like, "hey, mommy! i got this toy! look, i got it!" but it's quickly transitioned to the slangier (and oh-so-much-more grownup) "don't worry mommy, i got this."

as in, "i am carrying this item that is WAY too big for my little body, but i am super incredible - i got this."

and you know what? that's pretty inspiring. in the face of all the sadness and uncertainty i am feeling right now, to be able to say, *i got this*, that's pretty empowering. it makes me feel like i can do whatever i set my mind to. i GOT this.

i need some help
but then, when that step ladder or cooler or whatever john is dragging gets to be just too much, he will look at me and say so sweetly, "i need some help."

he's not beating himself for needing help. he's acknowledging he needs it, and asking. no judgment, no anger, just a request for help. so simple, and so difficult for us to do as adults.

these two sides of the coin - inspired by my two-year-old, no less - are going to get us through this and all of the other obstacles we might ever face.

i got this. but sometimes i need some help.

(and, this is way bigger than a parenthetical, but this will have to do: THANK YOU. i have received such an outpouring of love and support and kindness and compassion and commiseration in the past several days, i can't even explain it. my heart wells with the love that i feel around me. and it is BECAUSE of that help that i know, i got this.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

hard news

more precious than ever
i have rewritten this post about six times already, because it is diametrically opposite what i had hoped to share this week. i had hoped to share our excitement and joy that we were eight weeks pregnant and expanding our family. instead, we learned tuesday that our baby is not viable, and that we will lose it.

i debated whether to write this post at all. but ultimately, i decided that this blog has always been intended as an honest discussion of our victories and defeats in the balancing act that is our life. i couldn't NOT include this difficult time and still tell the whole story.

and we do not talk about miscarriages in our culture. and i understand why - it is sad, and it is hard, and it is a loss. and so often it comes wrapped up in fear - that you won't be able to successfully bear children, that you will "fail" at procreating - and in self-doubt - what did i do wrong? and so until you experience a miscarriage, you don't realize that a huge percentage of the women around you have probably been there. and then there comes a pouring out of support and love, which is amazing.

so. i do not want this to become a miscarriage blog. there are plenty of amazing resources out there on the web that already fit that niche. but the conception and eventual loss of this baby is a part of the story of john's family, so here is what i know right now:
  • i know that my ultrasound on tuesday showed that the baby basically never really got started developing. most likely, it was due to a failure of the genetic material to work properly, but we will never know for sure. i have not miscarried yet, but i will sometime in the coming days/weeks. we have decided to try to let it happen naturally, because that is most compatible with my belief that my body is an amazing machine designed to go through a process and i want to let it have a chance to do just that. if i change my mind, or if too much time passes, i will undergo a procedure to take care of the process medically. overall, there is no medical threat to me. 
  • i know that the next days/weeks will probably be a wild rollercoaster of emotions and yes, hormones. technically i am still pregnant. if you've ever been around a pregnant woman for an extended period of time, you know what that means.
  • i know that we are immensely, hugely, amazingly blessed. the community of our family, friends, coworkers, etc. have been so supportive these past 48 hours. i have been wrapped - sometimes literally (more on that in a sec) - in love and prayers and faith and care. 
  • i know that i value john even more than ever before. how can i look at that crazy sweet face and not be reminded that it is an utter miracle that he - that any child - DID come out right? the process is amazing and humbling and beautiful, and i have never felt that more poignantly than right now.
  • i know that we will be ok. my husband is the most amazingly supportive person i could ask for on my team right now. we will get through this, and somewhere down the line this will be but a blip (a sad, difficult blip, but a blip) in the history of our family. there will be another baby. and that is the baby that we are supposed to have. i can't wait to one day meet him/her and know that all is right.
  • i know that i will be all over the place, emotionally, for the next little while. if you interact with me and i am crazy, please forgive me and know that my sanity will return. i am ok right now, today, as i type this blog. in three minutes i might not be ok. when the miscarriage or procedure comes, i am sure i will not be ok. but i will get ok.
  • i know that yesterday i received one of the most powerful gifts i have ever received in my life. i was given a prayer shawl at our church, that was hand-knit by a group i didn't even know existed. they knit these shawls, not knowing who will receive them or what the need will be, but with love and prayers in every stitch, so that the recipient can literally wrap themselves in the love and comfort and protection that shawl offers. i am humbled, awed, and touched to receive one, and i am certain i will use it a lot in the coming days to provide a "hug" for myself when i am having a rocky time.
and for now, that is enough words from me. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

that's my child

don't you think this kid could be a model? he's showing his versatile expressions:
from left: playful; direct and disarming; brooding and deep.

somehow i've got to find a system that doesn't leave me scrambling on the weekends to get housework done. i know, i know - do a load of laundry every evening during the week, put things away as soon as you're done with them ... i know these things. yet each weekend finds me scrambled-ly washing and folding and straightening and cleaning. (a HUGE caveat - i should say finds US doing those things. thank god my husband is not afraid to do housework. he's way better at it than i am and our house would be a shambles without him.)

this saturday was only worse, because i had to be at the mall for an event saturday afternoon. so i missed the tailgating adventures of john and daddy - see above. i am extremely proud to say that i am not even responsible for the mohawk - that was daddy and a couple of loving "aunties." they did note that with the mohawk, he is more recognizable as my child. i took that as a compliment!

fortunately, my event was over right around the time daddy and john burned out on tailgating, so i got to go join them for dinner and then we went to visit with grandma (and let dad borrow auntie's espn so he could watch HIS football game). we had a great visit!

sunday of course was church, the highlight of which was THIS pic as we walked to the car - the sun was too bright and when john found out i didn't have his sunglasses, he told daddy he was going to hide in his shoulder.

my heart swells ...

sunday afternoon john and i were ambitious: we went on a walk without the stroller. i figured we'd only make it a block or two, but we actually walked 1/2 mile to the park in our neighborhood, where john went down slides and ran in the sand. unfortunately, he wore himself out ... so i had to carry him 1/2 mile home. awesome planning on my part, but we still had a great time. 

i was so proud of john when we saw a little fluffy white dog in a neighbor's yard and he said confusedly, "mommy, is that a kitty dog?" i've always said if it's under 60 lbs it's not a dog ... (exceptions made for my cousin's string of very petite labs!) 

as exhausted as i was when we got back home, john was soon raring to go - and climbing everything in sight. including this diaper box, which is actually a part of his choo choo train in the picture below. (the scooter thingy is the engine.)


so on the whole, a crazy busy weekend (aren't they all) but still plenty of lovely john time ... hoping next weekend brings a little more whole-family time, since i feel like we're seldom all in the same room anymore. the plight of the american family, no?



Friday, September 14, 2012

funny with a capital F

in case you can't read it, the ad says:
"Reclaim Your Manhood Now
Don't let the feminists subvert you.
Fight back against the Feminopoly."
an eagle-eyed reader and dear friend shared that screen-cap of the mobile version of yesterday's "feminism" blog. take special note of the google ad at the top. i cannot stop giggling.

another funny: at school this morning, john's teachers were telling me that one of them mentioned that she might apply to be a flight attendant. and john walked up to her and said, "john get on an airplane, too!"

so apparently, john was able to make the connection between "flight attendant" and an airplane. this kid amazes me every single day. watching him (and his peers for that matter!) begin to build those neurological connections between concepts is fascinating ... and funny.

when asked where he was going to fly, john said, "i don't know!"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

identity

john's mural (thanks, grammie!) always
makes me feel like we're in "where the
wild things are" - where the forest grows
in max's room? it's real chez john.
when i first read about this american university professor who breastfed her infant in front of her class, i found myself somewhat befuddled. on the one hand, i understand the difficulty of not being able to take a sick kid to daycare - especially on short notice and without a partner to help pick up the slack. on the other hand, it was the first day of class and SURELY a teaching assistant could have just as well handed out the syllabus and let her stay home with her child. 

but the more i read - and i encourage you to follow the links in that article, to try to get a more well-rounded picture of the story than offered in just one author's point of view - the more i realized that this isn't a story about breastfeeding. it's not even a story about kids, per se. 

this is a story about identity.

you see, the professor in question is a self-identified feminist, and in fact the class she was teaching that day was called "sex, gender, and culture" - in a blog the professor wrote she referred to it as a feminist anthropology class. and with all of the respect in the world for the progenitors of the feminist movement who have earned numerous rights and privileges for women such as myself ... i can't help but feel like this professor's version of feminism is horrifying.

she's not upset that she's getting all of this attention for simply breastfeeding, per se. she's not arguing whether women should or should not be able to breastfeed in public. she's upset because this media attention will forever associate her with her "biological condition" of being a mother.

in other words, being a mother is no more of a part of a definition of herself than is having a cold. it's just a biological condition.

now, i'm not knocking the prof's parenting skills. she may be an amazing mother who is raising an incredible child. and i think this travesty is born out of a well-meaning belief that gender should not define who we are - that women truly should be allowed to be college professors and car mechanics and doctors and street sweepers and whatever else they are, without regard to their gender and family status and whatnot.

but there is something, to me, inherently dishonest about a mother who wants to shun motherhood as a part of her self-definition.

i recognize that we all identity differently, and where "mother" falls on the list of ways we would describe ourselves would and should vary drastically between different women. and i even have the utmost respect for an individual woman's right to choose where that falls in her many definitions of herself.

but to try to pawn off this concept that being a mother is inconsequential to who she is is revolting to me. and to try to convince women that it doesn't matter that they are women is equally abhorrent, in my mind.

so if feminism means everything has to be gender neutral, and that i can't be a "mom and wife and sister and daughter and granddaughter etc. who works and plays cello and reads books and loves sushi and etc.", then please count me out.

i prefer a brand of feminism that says being a woman is an integral part of who i am - being a mother is an integral part of who i am - and who i am is amazing and can do whatever i set my mind to, not despite those things but because of them.

so if you want to know me as that mom who blogs? yeah, that's ok. and that identity is in no way a threat to what i think feminism ought to mean.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

get naked!

cutest booty in town. hands down.
last night in the car, john suddenly shouted to us, "i get naked! time for naked?"

so when we got home, he got a bath, and then ran around the house naked.

oh to be two when this is completely socially acceptable!

--

on a life balance note, i've been trying to find a little more time to read lately. pre-john, i tore through 1-3 books a week. (granted, they were mostly junk law novels and trashy pop-lit, nothing very heavy.) since john, i'm lucky if i read a book every three months. 

and i miss my reading. so this morning, since john was comfortably playing in his room as i ate my breakfast, i grabbed a book from my endless backlog. i happened to grab one by the title of "the undomestic goddess." it's one of those seemingly hundreds of modern novels that detail the trials and travails of a single woman who - gasp! - doesn't meet conventional standards of what a woman should be.

this one is a workaholic. that one would rather shop than date. the other one spends too much time on her TRUE passion, photography. but all of them have one thing in common: they're "modern" heroines.

and you know what? i'm waving a big fat red flag at this whole genre. i think these books are considered borderline feminist - you know, strong modern women who are perfectly fine without a man, thanks (until the requisite love interest comes along and challenges their preconceived notions of love! gasp!) and they're certainly perceived to be a more au currant version of the lead female protagonist.

but they are trite, and one-dimensional, and shallow, and BORING. and predictable. and, well, more than a little embarrassing. 

i am 100% certain there are novelists out there writing actually GOOD books about being a woman in the 21st century - being a single woman, a working woman, a married woman, a mom, a friend, a strong woman, a weak woman, a busy woman, a tired woman, a powerful and empowered woman - whatever. i'm not pretending those aren't out there. i'm just saying ... these particular books suck, and it makes me sad that they are popular enough that they wind up in my stack of books to read.

so. tonight, i will go home and try to find time to read a male-dominated crime novel that features either the womanizing antics of a secretly soft-hearted asshole or the alcohol infused self-flagellation of a fallen-from-grace star cop. or something similar. and i will think about the fact that it probably makes me a hypocrite that these one-dimensional caricatures of men don't offend me as the shallow, vapid caricatures of women. and then i will decide how much i care.

--

and if you care about my stance on other quasi-feminist issues, tomorrow i will tackle the touchy case of a professor at american university who breastfed her infant in front of her class. i promise i will also include a cute picture of john, since i know that is why you're really reading this anyway!



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

don't say that

video

i've mentioned before that john is speaking in full sentences, but sometimes it's pretty clear he doesn't quite get what it is he is saying.

for example, one of his favorite things to say right now is, "don't say that, that's not nice!"

however, he is just as prone to say that when you say "i love you" as when you say "do you want a spanking?"

best i can tell, "don't say that, that's not nice" loosely translates to "that's not what i want you to say right now."

and best i can tell, the "don't watch john" in the video above loosely translates to "i want to play, not be videoed right now!"

that's what i tell myself, anyway - the alternative is that i am a REALLY not nice mommy. ("don't SAY that mommy. that's not nice!")

Monday, September 10, 2012

lay on mommy

it doesn't get any better than this.
(yes, john picked his own outfit.)
i know it's a natural part of the growing up process, but sometimes it makes me sad that the busier john is, the less he wants to just snuggle. sometimes i miss that tiny little thing that did nothing but cuddle in our arms. but of course i wouldn't trade this walking, talking, exploring beast for anything, so i just cherish the moments when he does want to be close.

sunday was a good day for snuggling. daddy and john got to snuggle a good portion of the morning, and when i came back from work (we had an event at the mall) all john wanted was to "lay on mommy" on the couch. there is really nothing finer than that little bug resting on my chest, his head nestled under my chin.

and i've discovered something beautiful about the affection of a toddler: it's almost all the more precious, because he chooses to give it to you. he has a choice about where to be and what to do - and he chooses "lay on mama." what a lucky lady i am.

Friday, September 7, 2012

funny face

a collection of funny faces.

i dare you be in a bad mood after you look at those pics. i double dog dare you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

super credible

these are all blurry because the kid WOULD NOT STAND STILL.

for as hectic and crazy as tuesday night was, we made up for it last night. we didn't want to cook - had too many dishes to do already! - and we were tired, so we decided a family sushi outing was in order.

we ordered a bunch of rolls and some edamame and figured john would eat the soy beans and maybe some rice or shrimp off of a roll or something, and if he was still hungry we'd have mac and cheese when we got home.

but when the sushi platter arrived, john quickly reached in and grabbed a piece of the roll closest to him - which happened to contain raw salmon, raw tuna, and be topped with wasabi-tinged roe. and he didn't bite it - he shoved the whole piece in his mouth. i thought surely the whole thing would be quickly spat back out, but i was wrong - he proceeded to chew, chubby-cheeked, at this new-found delight. and several minutes later when he'd managed to chew and swallow, he went for another piece!

so, apparently my kid likes sushi. i knew i liked him.

we headed home, where my husband and i did have to do some housework stuff despite our overwhelming desire to just chill. but before i started washing dishes, i tied my overshirt around john's neck as a cape, figuring he would enjoy being a superhero since the ONLY thing he wants to watch lately is "the incredibles." (he calls it "credibles," which on some levels is equally appropriate, no?)

and once he had his cape on, there was no slowing that child down. he ran full-speed around the house for probably half an hour, yelling "i super credible!" and swooping around giddily. trip over a toy truck? no worries: mr. super credible just rights the truck and continues on his race. run into the dog? no problem: mr. super credible says, "i push by buddy!" and zooms right along.

i won't lie: i couldn't stop giggling.

extra bonus pic: this morning when john woke up,
he only wanted to "snuggle kitty" and "watch
credibles." so daddy hooked him up while we got
ready to go to work.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

pop

the culprit.
last evening was a ridiculous evening. 

john and i high-tailed home from work and school to rush to the store, to hurry home to fix dinner, and before long it was bedtime and john hated to go to bed and screamed and cried for 20 minutes.

meantime daddy was out slaving in the yard - and i do mean SLAVING, in the horrible heat - for 2.5 hours making the yard MOWABLE. thank god for that groupon lawn-mowing service we got, he didn't then have to go get the mower and do that too.

somewhere in between making and eating dinner (and going outside for an interlude of helping-daddy-pick-up-the-dog-poop), i was in my bedroom changing into shorts when i heard a strange popping sound. i hustled into my shorts and heard it again.

a little concerned - i know most of the sounds that john makes in the house that are NOT concerning - i rushed into the living room and found john discovering bubble wrap.

with glee in his eyes, he was pressing two fingers into each of the large bubbles, and giggling when he finally got it to pop.

the list of things i had to do was so long, i did what any self-respecting mother would do:

sat down on the floor and taught him how to pop them louder. and pop more of them. and jump on them for multiple pops.

oh, the simplest joys.

POP!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

e shoes?

"let's make music, mommy!"
the three-day weekend (and last week's oddball hurricane-induced schedulelessness) wrecked any semblance of morning routine chez john.

getting ready for work this morning, it was like i had completely forgotten how to go about the normal preparations. do i brush my teeth now? no, wait, eat breakfast first. THEN brush teeth. did i give the dog his medicine? am i wearing two shoes? (looking down) ok, got the shoes. 

poor john wasn't faring much better. he slept late, and when he woke up, the first thing he said to me was "i want to go back to sleep." he got dressed no problem, but he flipped his lid when i tried to put his shoes on. he did not want to wear the black sneakers. he did not want to wear his chuck taylors. he did not want to wear his elmo shoes. he only wanted "e shoes." 

the problem? i have no earthly idea what e shoes are. NO idea. i tried to discuss with him and figure it out ... but that just resulted in him yelling, "bad mommy!" at the top of his lungs.

finally, i just had to shove the black sneakers on his feet, tell him to be a big boy and stop crying, and we went to mommy's room to finish getting ready.

fortunately, while i put makeup on (did i already do mascara? no? ok, time for mascara.) he found the radio we listened to during the hurricane, and since his newfound favorite activity is "making music," that helped us pull ourselves together and get out the door on time, believe it or not. 

and from there the day DID start to look up. halfway to school, john said, "they have breakfast at school, mommy?" and when i said yes, he clapped and cheered.

and he happily came into his classroom and settled in to start the day.

and then, surprisingly, i remembered how to get to work and how to open my office and how to start the day.

not bad for a (quasi) monday.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

good company


the littlest tiger
i'm not sure what it says about my mental age, but i have to say: i find john to be most excellent company. 

my husband is out of town, so we've been flying solo this weekend. and today was quite a day. we woke up early and went to the store to get contractor trash bags so we could start cleaning up the front yard. came home and spent about an hour "playing in sticks" that resulted in precisely one bag of debris and a very small pile of sticks.

moral of the story: yardwork is impossible with a two-year-old. every pile of leaves you rake, he will run through, kick, and "sweep" with sticks. he will help put some leaves in the bag ... but then he will be too excited and dive into the bag to throw leaves gleefully everywhere. it was absolutely not productive ... but quite a lot of fun.

we high-tailed inside for baths and to dress in our purple and gold so we could head over to lsu campus to tailgate.  met up with some awesome cousins who didn't mind their old, uncool, mommy of a cousin hanging out with them. (it helps that john becomes the mascot of every tailgate we visit.)

on campus, john also managed to find several more piles of leaves to demolish. and a big sweet dog named river that was every bit as understanding of john's rambunctiousness as buddy is. and lots and lots of people who fawned over him everywhere he went.

it was soooooooo hot and muggy, though, that we only lasted a few hours. when we got to the breaking point, we walked back to auntie's house, where we'd parked, and enjoyed their a/c for a few minutes before driving home. (the pic below was about 35 seconds into our walk. i think *someone* was kicked!)


the sleepiest tiger
a little extra water, a little lotion for our sunburns (not bad, i promise!), naps, spaghetti dinner, and some elmo, and it was bedtime. 

what a day! what a day.