Six Pillows, Two Throws

Life Lessons from a Two Year-old, Motherhood, Step by Step, We Are In This Together

I finally lost the battle. 

The funny thing is–I didn’t really even notice that I had lost it, until last night. Not officially. 

The fact that I didn’t even notice further solidifies the fact that I truly have LOST the battle. For good.

My Type-A personality has now officially been replaced with a new type: Type Mom.

Without even realizing it, I stopped doing the one thing I ALWAYS did, every morning, to keep my sanity.

As long as I can remember, I have religiously made my bed each day–perfectly, and arranged it like a Threshold ad for Target: six pillows, two throws. Two standard king pillows, two big shams, the minky sable body pillow that I sewed before I got pregnant; then the square burlap/chevron accent pillow as my finishing touch.

Then of course–at the foot of the bed–one robin’s egg blue throw, and one sable throw. 

My perfect bed.

My happy place–perfectly in order, even if just in one little corner of our crazy house. My nice, organized landing spot to fall into after each kaleidoscope day in this blended family of six.

The one thing I could make look perfect, and walk away from; knowing it would still look exactly how I left it at the end of the day.

Unlike the rest of the house, hit by all of our daily tornados of little league and toddler toys and dirty clothes and clean folded clothes and grocery shopping and LIFE.

But last night, when I went to pull off those perfectly arranged pillows, they weren’t there.

They were in a heap on the floor, exactly where I’d left them the night before.

And when I really thought about it hard–they were there the night before that, too.

Wait—WHAT? 

How did I stop this tradition–this thing I’d tried so hard to maintain for so long–and not even notice?

I’m a mom now, that’s how. 

I think my brain simply needed those brain cells, that little extra bit of RAM, to deal with more important things. 

Like explaining to a two-year-old why he can’t, in fact, go to the moon, even though he really, really wants to.

(This has occupied a surprising amount of time, over the last three days. He REALLY wants to go.)

My effort is much better spent worrying about Big, Important things like that, than making sure the bed looks perfect. Because I am finding, in these crazy, wonderful, (numbered) days, just how big and important they actually ARE.

So, somewhere in the last month, I subconsciously gave up the ghost on the perfect bed. 

And you know what? 

It’s OK.

Because right now, in the crazy trenches of mamahood, I guess I don’t need that little corner of perfectly folded and tucked organization, anymore. 

My life now can only be summed up appropriately in one word: chaos.

And I’m all in. 

Hmm, I wonder if he knows how those trash bags got wrapped around the island?

Farewell – Beloved Morning Nap, I Will Miss You

Hank Humor, Motherhood

Hank decided last week that he was a big 15-month-old, and he had WAY too many things to do in a day, to waste time napping TWICE.

I, on the other hand, disagreed with him on that sentiment, and tried my heart out to adhere to the morning-and-afternoon-nap schedule.

It didn’t work. He won.

So, here we are, week two of only one nap a day, and we are doing just great! (Well, he is doing just great and I am dragging ass, but thoroughly enjoying my extra cup of coffee in the mornings–the one it takes to get me all the way from wake-up to the almighty afternoon nap.)

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We can sit here as long as you want, Mama, I’m not napping

Here I was thinking that he would make it to eighteen months (at least!), before he kicked the morning nap I loved so much. The nap that allowed me to shower in peace, to eat eggs that were actually WARM, to sneak off to work early, to fold the clothes that just came out of the dryer, etc., without chasing him around like a crazy person trying to accomplish all some of those things while he wrecked havoc all over the house. (And ok, I will admit it; the clothes NEVER get folded right after they come out of the dryer. Maybe they do in my dreams.)

Ahhhhhh, those were lovely mornings.

Nowadays, we just go directly from wake-up (zero) to full-bore playtime (sixty) in about 5.2 seconds, and we now stay there until 12:30 or 1:00, when we crater.

And I mean CRATER. I have never seen a little boy nod off in a highchair, until this week. I have never hauled a sleepy baby in from a car seat, and actually PUT HIM BACK DOWN TO SLEEP, until this week.

But here is the part that makes no sense to me whatsoever: Shouldn’t a one-hour morning nap and a one-hour afternoon nap convert into one TWO-HOUR afternoon nap?

Shouldn’t it?

Well, no. At least not by Hank’s logic. He just graduated himself into one more hour of play time. So mama just earned herself one more cup of stout, sugared-up coffee.

And I don’t even want to think about the day when we will have to go to NO NAP AT ALL. Hopefully, I have years before that happens.

If I don’t, please just don’t tell me.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

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Tired? Do I LOOK Tired? YOU are the one who looks tired, Mama!

5 Things I Learned Today

Hank Humor, Motherhood, Step by Step

As a proud boymom of four rough and tumble stud-muffins (counting my three awesome stepsons), I am constantly learning things that take me by surprise.

Today was an especially exciting day full of (mis)adventures, and here are five handy little good-to-knows I took home from all the fun!

  1. A toddler can catch himself–and I mean completely save himself from falling down a row of bleachers by grabbing onto his mama’s ponytail. And surprisingly enough, even if that toddler weighs 25 pounds, it won’t even pull any of mama’s hair out! (She will, though, need a few advil for the headache that comes directly after saving a child’s life via ponytail.)
  2. Once a little boy learns how to run, HE WILL HAVE PERMANENTLY SCRAPED KNEES. Both of them. Especially when it is 90 degrees outside for weeks straight and just way too hot for long pants.
  3. Cherry limeade comes up out of carpet much better than you might think it would. (Sidenote- toddlers can also reach much higher than you think they can. So if you think that your cup is out of reach, just go ahead and put it up somewhere even higher. Your carpet will thank me.)
  4. Yogurt squeeze packets are the worst invention ever. But they are really, really fun for toddlers. If mama is busy doing dishes, and the aforementioned toddler holds one by the bottom with the top unscrewed, and spins in circles all around the kitchen, it will make pretty pink designs all over the sides of the island! And the floor, and the table and chairs, and the barstools. . .
  5. And lastly: Little boys can pretty much get away with murder. Because they are just so damn adorable. This mama is in BIG trouble!!!

Yep, better wash that off before it dries

I Don’t Need A Gym Membership, I Have A Toddler

Hank Humor, Motherhood

I love food. Almost as much as I love my baby, my baby’s daddy, and wine. So “eating for two” was one of my favorite parts of pregnancy. I tacked on 50 pounds like it was nothing.

I thought it might be a struggle to get those 41 non-baby pounds off, but nursing was a miracle weight loss plan. The weight fell off surprisingly fast, thanks to the chubby blonde tumor that was permanently attached to my boob. Too fast, in fact.

By the time I hit the 12-month mark, I looked like a skeleton with skin. (And boobs.) I had lost every one of the 50 pounds I gained and about 13 more I didn’t have to spare in the first place. My husband was worried about his waif of a wife, so I kicked off the calf and hopped back on my pregnancy eating-for-two diet to put some weight back on.

Now that the (hyperactive) weaned calf is toddling around, I found that it doesn’t matter how much I eat, I can’t gain a pound! Toddler rearing might just be the new miracle weight loss fad of the decade. It’s a little bit like training for American Ninja Warrior, but with no Mt. Midoriyama. (Or screaming crowd of fans.) My big red button at the end of each obstacle-filled day is a big glass of red WINE. But, it damn sure is keeping me skinny! Here is a sampling of my daily exercise program, which I have lovingly dubbed American Ninja Mommy:

  • The pick-up-the-sippy-without-setting-down-the-baby squat. 14-month-olds, it seems, suddenly develop an attachment disorder, which means I cannot detach mine from my hip and set him down without a screaming, crying fit. But it’s all good! He is just pushing me to feel the burn! The deep squat is far more effective with a 26 pound weight on one arm while you scoop down to grab the milk with the other. And, repeat.
  • The “crib” yoga pose. This pose involves bending at the waist over the side of the crib, holding a hand on the chest of the almost sleeping toddler and keeping perfectly still for up to 10 minutes because he is So. Close. To. Sleep. If you break pose before his breathing changes, you will have to start from scratch. Hold that pose, mamas! Don’t weaken!
  • The stair stepper. Descend and ascend the 6 stairs that lead from the kitchen to the living room repeatedly, to retrieve the milk sippy/ball/paci/cell phone that the toddler has launched over the baby gate. Again.
  • Naked baby wind sprints. Post bath, if you look away for one millisecond to grab the lotion or jammies, the dripping toddler WILL open the nursery room door and run through the rest of the house before you can get the diaper on him. The race is on, mamas. The goal of this exercise is to catch that ticking pee bomb before your kitchen floor does. Diaper! Ready. . .GO!
  • Highchair waist bends. Meal times are all about core strengthening, ladies. Your toddler trainer will be happy to provide you with infinite spoon drops- all you need to do is bend. Pick up spoon, hand spoon to toddler, and repeat.
  • The dead- (asleep) lift. Once you have a sleeping toddler sprawled across your lap in the rocking recliner, you must rise from your seated position with the toddler held perfectly still, carry him over to the crib, and lay him down without waking him. High chair waist bends will come in handy here (see previous exercise).
  • The Time-to-Put-the-Toys-Away burpees. This exercise is a good cool down for the end of the workout, usually best done right before bed after the toddler has crashed for the night. Down to floor, grab a toy, up to your feet, walk it over to toy box/corner of the room/heap of toys behind the couch. And repeat. Repeat until you can actually see your pretty area rug again and you begin to feel somewhat on top of things. (Note: this exercise may be skipped, depending on how intense of a workout you have already had that day. You can always do it tomorrow.)

The very best part of this workout system is the $40/month you will save from gym membership fees. It can now be spent on Riesling, Malbecs, and Starbucks; the only dietary supplements recommended with this plan. Get ready to lose, mamas! (Pounds, that is!) And your happy little toddler trainer? While he may not celebrate your efforts like a paid personal trainer should, he will be the reason you wake up each new day, ready to do it all over again. And that is a huge WIN.

A Missing Fear of Heights

Hank Humor, Motherhood

We Wilsons live in a house with many, many stairs. We decided baby gates were really only needed on the tops of two of our staircases – at least at first – so we put those in and called it good. After many months of both his Daddy and me trying to keep our determined little Hankster from figuring out how to go UP the stairs, he finally got his chance. And he mastered it in about one minute. By the time I got over to him he was already halfway up, and nailing it, so I let him keep going against my better judgement! When he got to the top he did a little victory dance with an adorable squeal, as if he knew he had just accomplished something against great odds. I was equal parts proud for him and terrified for me.

As he danced around at the top of the landing, I had a scary revelation. With this new accomplishment came a new challenge: going back down the stairs. Why oh why did we build the split level house with three long flights of stairs? And why oh why does he think if he just runs straight at the stairs faster he will get down them easier? This adorable monster of ours obviously does not understand the concepts of heights, inertia, or danger

Just crawl down them backwards and show him, they said. He will pick it right up, they said.

Well, he still hasn’t figured out the whole “down” thing yet, so I’m praying he does soon! It takes so much willpower to not just scoop him up and carry him down myself!

My other terrifying Hank adventure this week also involved great heights, but this one included a near-death experience! He decided that in addition to not being afraid of heights, he would also try to be a stunt baby!

Why not?

Our back deck is one of Hank’s favorite places. I love letting him play out there while I do dishes, because it is hooked right to the kitchen. Daddy built us a hell-for-stout baby gate on the stairway down, and a big sunshade overhead as well, so we both thought our deck was one big wonderful outdoor playpen where he couldn’t really get into too much trouble.

Keep the monster caged!

That is, until I saw him try to get himself OUT of the playpen!

I made the mistake of taking a work call while I was cleaning up the kitchen a few mornings ago, and after the minute-or-so phone call I peeked out the door to check on Hank and I almost fainted. There he was – laying on his back, wriggling his chubby little bod underneath the bottom railing of the deck! And he must have channeled his inner Flat Stanley, because he was already up to his waist!

I panicked, rushed over to him and yanked him out, and frantically yelled for his Daddy while Hank looked at me with disdain, like I had foiled his plan. I never in a million years would have thought A) that he would be able to fit under there and B) that he would have any desire to find out whether or not he did!

Well, he sure did. And once I explained the whole emergency to Daddy, he tried to ease my mind with some good old Daddy logic.

“You know honey, his head definitely wouldn’t have fit through anyways, if he could have even gotten that far.”

Oh, ok! I feel much better now!

Seriously? So what you are saying, Daddy, is that his 25 pound body could get through and dangle from his 81st percentile-sized head, and you would be ok with that?

Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And I was just not ok with risking it, either, on account of “we didn’t think he would fit through there.” Simply “watching him closer” didn’t seem like the right solution either, as fast as he had gotten himself into his little predicament in the first place!

So off to Home Depot we went, and the 1-by-2s quickly went up around the bottom railing so I can sleep at night and Hank can still continue to enjoy his lovely alfresco redwood playpen. Crisis averted. For now, anyways. Probably just until the monkey realizes he can climb the rails!

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Just try to get through there now, you adorable little Houdini!

10 Things I Never Thought I Would Be Thankful For

Motherhood

In my 33 years, I have lived a full, exciting adventure of a life. I have had ups and downs, twists and turns, and a lot of unexpected goodness thrown in there, which has made me both a believer in fate and also in God’s plan. The one thing that has shifted the most, through all the excitement over the years, is my perspective. Many of the things I am thankful for these days, I never would have believed 10 years ago! Here are 10 things I am thankful for today:

  1. A full dishwasher at the end of every day. (It means I have 5 mouths to feed besides my own, and those mouths belong to my 5 biggest blessings.)
  2. A big noisy, messy, crazy family of ALL BOYS. (They keep me on my toes and certainly, never bored!)
  3. A husband that I miss terribly because he’s on the road for work a LOT. (It reminds me that I’m married to someone I can’t live without.)
  4. The peaceful time at the end of the day when I get to tidy up the living room, the kitchen, and fold a load of clothes before bed. (I never appreciated that time when it was just little ol’ me, and I certainly didn’t look forward to it.)
  5. A baby who wakes me up between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning. (This is now the best part of my day.)
  6. Coffee. (See number 5.)
  7. A super long grocery list. (It’s no fun buying groceries for just yourself.)
  8. My job. (My amazingly flexible job lets me be a working mama but still allows me to be a good mama. I always dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom, but now I wouldn’t trade it, I love both of my jobs!)
  9. My divorce. (It turned out to be the open door into what has become the best part of my life.)
  10. Quiet. (I used to hate quiet and had to have music playing at all times – now some quiet here and there is lovely, simply because it is rare.)

Since I titled this list “10 Things I Never Thought I Would Be Thankful For” – I will leave this last one off the official list, but it is noteworthy nonetheless:

I am also thankful for my big, awesome nose! (My ski-jump-esque profile reminds me every day that I am unique, that I have a little extra character, and most importantly – that I am related to some pretty amazing people with noses just like mine.)img_20160610_155615-1.jpg

So for all of you who know me and may have thought to yourselves, man, she would be really pretty if she would just get her nose done – Not happening! I finally have learned to love my nose after all these years of hating it, (even if it does have its own zip code.) I used to hope Hank would keep his adorable little button nose he inherited from his handsome daddy, but honestly I will be equally thrilled if he ends up with a big amazing beak like his mama. I am sure he will rock it even better than I do.

Like I said before, it’s all about perspective!

Oh, Boy

Hank Humor

So this afternoon was another crazy day in paradise!  I was lucky enough to get escorted to Wal-Mart by two handsome dates, Hank and his daddy.  Bill hadn’t been with us in a while, so I laughed as he got another chance to experience the adventure of shopping with Hank.  Which meant consuming half of a not-yet-purchased tub of Lil’ Crunchies in the front of the cart, (doled out two at a time from Mama), and shouting “NUM-NUM! NUM-NUM!” whenever he ran out.

We passed another mama pushing a cart with a toddler sitting down in it, and a similarly aged little boy in the front with his little bare legs dangling, just like Hank.  Only there was a major difference between them.  That little boy was quietly, peacefully, munching on a snack of his own, but he was holding the bag himself.  All by himself.  He was in complete control of his grocery store snack, and he was nailing it!  Not a crumb was hitting the floor, he wasn’t trying to shove three crackers into his mouth all at once, he wasn’t throwing them at his mama or his sister, or into the cart, and he certainly wasn’t screaming.  In fact, he wasn’t making a peep.  Just munching on his little bag of crackers, one by one, while his mama shopped leisurely.

Am I missing something?  If I gave Hank the whole tub of crunchies, (which we have tried, so I am not just hypothesizing) the entire aisle of Wal-Mart would be coated with cheddar cheese powder and crunched up Gerber goodness.  I started to wonder if perhaps our child is a little more of a handful than I may have realized.

“Did you see that baby in the cart eating his snack so quietly?” I asked Bill on the way home.  “Holding his own bag?”

“Yep. I saw him,” was all he had to say.

Hmmmm.

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Hank’s first cart riding experience – at 8 months 

Well, I got another dose of Hank help as I was trying to put the groceries away.  Bill was shuttling grocery bags to the top of the stairs and setting them over the baby gate, and I was unpacking and putting them away.  Well, that was the goal anyways!

Crunch. Crunch. CRUNCH. 

What is that?  

Oh, Hank!”  Hank found the brand new party-sized bag of Wavy Lays and decided he needed to see what kind of sound it would make if he pounded on it a few times.  Sorry boys, your chips may be a little more, well. . .Hank-sized now.  Sure glad we gave him that hammer and nails set to play with! 

I guess that’s why we call him Hammerin’ Hank!  I pulled him away from the Wavy Lays and put the limp bag remains in the pantry.  As soon as I turned around for another grocery bag, he had beaten me back to them yet again.

Oh perfect, he found a fruit squeezy pouch!  He loves those.  Maybe that will keep him out of trouble for a bit so I can put these away.

“Num-Num!” he said and handed it to me, so I unscrewed the top and gave it back to him.  Relieved, I went back to my unpacking and got exactly one bag put away before I noticed that Hank was mysteriously quiet, so I went around the island to look for him.

There he was – squeeze pouch in hand, just a-squeezing away, and sucking. . .only the problem was, he had turned it upside down!  So, purple fruit puree oozed down his clothes, onto his bare feet, the floor, and the rug.  When he spotted me, and the look of shock on my face, he cracked up!  And Hank cracking up while standing on his new, wobbly legs means only one thing, falling over.  So he fell right into the purple puddle.

“Don’t judge, Daddy, when you see that your son is now purple,” I said to Bill, who just happened to be walking in with the last bags.  “We had a little mishap!”  He just laughed.

I love that man.

I got Hank cleaned up and plunked him in front of my last resort – the spice rack.  My back-up baby-sitter.  This will work, I thought to myself as I put away a few more bags and watched him shake-a-shake-a-shake all around the kitchen with a lovely sounding jar of minced onion.

Wow, I am almost done!  Why didn’t I just give him that to begin with?  

I turned around to throw the empty bags in the bin and I almost fell over when I saw my son, and my kitchen.  That’s why.  Apparently I had forgotten about his new-found ability to open spice jars with his teeth – like the ground cloves!  Little white minced onion flakes were sprinkled across the entire kitchen floor, and all under the dining room table.  It looked like it had just snowed.

“Honey?  Can you grab the broom?” I hollered back to Bill in the laundry room.

Well, that wonderful man came out with the broom and dustpan, shook his head knowingly, and laughed while he swept up the mess for me.  Without saying a word.  And I held Hank because it is impossible to sweep a room if Hank is in it.  (He insists on riding the broom.)

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Hank riding the broom on a cleaner day

God, I really, really love that man.

And that helpful little boy who looks just like him.