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Life Lessons from a Two Year-old, Motherhood, Uncategorized

This.

This is a two-year-old trying to help mommy get her work all done so she can play.

I had just explained to him that while he could shoot hoops after his bath, mommy had to finish cleaning up the kitchen and fold some laundry first. From up in the kitchen, I saw him put down his ball, walk over to the ottoman and dig into the laundry pile I had just thrown onto it, to tackle next. As I watched him for a second, I couldn’t even handle the cuteness.

He was trying his darndest to turn one of big brother’s pairs of shorts inside out.

He was trying to help me with my work.

And then my heart really melted. . .

He asked, “INSTEAD of doing work, can mommy play basketball with Hank right now?”

💙💙💙

Yes, Hank.

Yes, she absolutely can.

(And she did.)

There’s Always Time for Apple Pie

Life Lessons from a Two Year-old, Motherhood, Uncategorized, Yummyness
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The ugliest, most perfect pie ever

There’s Always Time for Apple Pie

***

I love to bake. Like really, really love to bake.

I’ve made stunning 4-tier wedding cakes, perfectly iced in homemade buttercream; cakes which took days to bake, ice, assemble and decorate.

It was nothing for me to crank out 4 loaves of bread from scratch on any old Saturday morning, or whip up a few dozen cinnamon twists to send to work with my hubs for his crew.

I LIVED for brioche, trying every recipe I could find until I finally made the perfect, airy loaf. (I’m pretty sure this is the exact brioche Marie Antoinette was talking about.)

I used to be one hell of a baker.

Until I had a baby, that is.

These days, I feel good when I get a box cake made on time for a birthday in our household, and even better if I actually remember the candles!

So when my sister stopped by with a dozen gorgeous red apples, fresh off their tree a few days ago, I was inspired. I just HAD to bake something. Something GOOD.

“Hank!” I said. “Let’s bake a pie!”

Now, friends, this is NOT what a perfect apple pie is supposed to look like. Not even close.

What it does look like, is exactly what it is: a pie a toddler baked.

Old Me would never have stood for it. Old Me would have thrown out the torn-up, over-worked pastry that sat in our fridge two days longer than it should have, and made fresh. She would have rolled it and lined that pie plate smoothly and evenly, then pinched perfectly-even flutes all around the edges to seal the top.

Today though, for the first time ever, I had a helper. And Hank wanted to do it ALL. He wanted to roll the crust out with the big huge rolling pin. And mix the ingredients. And peel the apples with that fun old crank peeler his great-grandma gave us. He wanted to do all of it.

All. By. Himself.

So, you know what I did?

I let him!

I’m NOT that perfect baker I used to be–I just can’t be. I’m way too busy being mom. (And that’s even better.)

When that sweet two-year-old woke up early from his nap today, we spent that extra hour making the ugliest apple pie I have ever made.

It may be the ugliest pie I’ve made, but it is the pie I’m proudest of.

(And it tasted far sweeter than any of the pretty ones ever did.)

***

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?

NO.

Hank Humor, Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Today, we crossed over.

Not the lovely kind of “let’s cross over,” though, Liz Gilbert-style. There was no “attraversiamo” here, no “let’s.” I had no say in the matter.

No–the crossing over I experienced today landed me right smack dab in uncharted territory. And it has definitely not been lovely.

Today, my two-year-old-in-one-week cherub and I took a parenting turn for the worse.

We boldly entered the Land of NO.

And so farit is terrifying.

Terrifying–because today; in one crazy, irrational display of toddler manipulation, that adorable little cherub figured out that he doesn’t HAVE to do what mama says.

He figured out that he can, in fact, do the exact opposite if he wants to. And all he has to do is say NO.

But here’s what really gets me. He could already say no! And it was so cute–those first few weeks–whenever he used his new word!

Me: Do you want some more strawberries, Hank? 

Hank: (in precious singsong) Umm, no-oh! 

Me: (still in new-parent la-la-land) Awwwww! Isn’t that cute? He said “No!” He is so SMART! Another real WORD! And look how he makes his mouth into that round little “o” shape! Goodness, that’s just adorable!

What happened to THAT no? How did we morph from darling baby no to demon-child banshee-screaming NO!?

Overnight.

Whatever it was, it flipped like a switch in that smart little brain this morning. On the stairs. In “time-out.” (Another relatively new concept.)

It went like this:

Me: Hank, please. Mama needs to go to work, so I need you to be a good boy and let me change your diaper so we can get you dressed.

Hank: NO!

Me: You don’t tell mama NO. We are changing your pants whether you want to or not!

Hank: *rolls eyes*

Me: Don’t you roll your eyes at mama!

Hank: *scrunches both eyes shut. Juts chin out defiantly *

Me: (inner monologue) God, help me. I am clearly not qualified to raise this child. 

Hank: *eyes still closed*

 

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Mischief. Personified.

 

The rest of our day brought more refusals, more time-outs, more counting-down-from-fives and a lot more NO. The demon-child version. I have never heard so much unexplained screaming. I have never done so much daytime praying. Or counting to ten. Or taking deep breaths.

All I could think about, all day, was how right all those people were about the “Terrible Twos.” Apparently, we have entered them. Exactly one week early.

I get it, now–all those toddler tantrum jokes and memes. I get the meltdown over not getting “the blue cup.” We had one today because Hank wanted the BLUE paci.

(But not THAT blue paci.)

I see why cutting the sandwich bread the wrong way can cause a full-on come-apart. Hank came-apart over mandarin oranges because the sections had already, (thanks to mommy) come apart.

(Which HE had wanted to do. Himself.)

Drew Barrymore’s picture of her daughter, sprawled across the Disneyland concrete, in full-on kid-fit, makes so much more sense to me now. Because now, I have seen my own child, spread eagle on the kitchen floor, kicking and screaming, for who-knows-why, exactly.

I tried to channel Drew’s cool, collected calm all day while my toddler’s world crashed down all around us. But it is harder than I thought.

Just ignore it.

Just forge ahead, go on with your day.

He will eventually get over it.

OK–but WHEN?

How on earth, a small, hardly-speaking toddler can out-wit and out-stubborn a grown adult with a Masters in Education is beyond me. (And more than a little embarrassing.)

Today–in all of its glory–left me wishing for my baby back. The baby who didn’t argue; the one who laid there, cooing and smiling as I changed his diapers, whenever I damn well pleased.

The baby who weighed nine manageable pounds, not the thirty-plus of rough-and-tumble I can hardly hold onto, kicking and bucking on the carpet, dirty diaper dangling perilously by one tab.

The baby who never told me NO.

I would do anything to swap him out, for one of those again. Maybe just for a few days, just until I can figure out how to handle this new, scary world we just landed in. I would gladly rock the baby keeping some new tired mama up around the clock. That–I was great at. Those days, I knew what I was doing. Because whatever I did, always seemed to work.

Today–nothing seemed to work–except my smart little boy’s brain as it filed away notes on how to outsmart his mama.

I don’t know if I am cut out for this. I need an emergency crash course in Toddler.

STAT.

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Smile, Hank! (Now doesn’t that just look like the face of an angel?)

Crow’s Feet, Mom Underwear and Moments in the Middle

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

I never saw the wrinkles coming until they were just suddenly there. I was admiring a cute picture of Hank that I had snapped of me holding him a few months ago, and once I stopped looking at his adorable mug and glanced up at myself, I freaked! I couldn’t believe that was MY face. . .with this sudden influx of crow’s feet?? 

When did I suddenly age ten years overnight? (Maybe in those two years when I hardly got any sleep at all?) Hmmm–maybe. But my goodness, those wrinkles sure carved themselves in deep! 

(Not crow’s feet, laugh lines. That at least SOUNDS nicer)

After the long hot shower I finally got in at 10:00 p.m. last night, I had yet another realization about my changed life. What the heck happened to my underwear drawer in the last two years? Who snuck in and traded all my fun frilly cuteness for granny panties?

I certainly never dumped out all those adorably-patterned VS under-roosies that used to fill up that drawer, and traded them in for mom underwear. If I had known that was coming, I may have reconsidered the whole idea of motherhood!! Somehow, they must have just slowly replaced themselves while my conscious wasn’t paying attention, one Target 3-pack of stretchy Hanes at a time. 

Who are you and how did you get in my underwear drawer?

I don’t think I have ever fully realized just how “adult” I am these days. How adult I HAVE to be, that is! It is still sinking in–almost two years later–that I am someone’s mother now. 

All of these changes are a whole lot like trying to keep the house clean. You don’t necessarily see it getting dirty, you just notice it once it IS dirty. Once it’s already too late to prevent it. 

I just packed up baby clothes that no longer fit my baby because he is no longer a baby. He’s suddenly a little “big kid” now. Who just sported his first pair of pull-ups, because he just started using his big-boy potty. Boy, did that ever help it sink in that he isn’t my little baby anymore. (But wasn’t he, just yesterday?)

Pottytraining. And that big-kid baseball cap that just this month became permanently attached to his little blonde head. Just like his bro-bros.

Again–all good changes. All blessings. (Well, maybe except for the wrinkles and the mom undies–I’m going to have to learn to live with those.) But I need to learn how to live with all my changes, whether I like them or not. The only constant in my life these days is change. Isn’t that true for all of us? 

My main problem is, I somehow need to figure out how to absorb all that time, all those moments, all the little bits that come in the middle between one stage and the next. Because I don’t want to only remember the milestones. The big moments. I want to remember all of it.

(Because after all–it is all of these beautiful little moments that have earned me such impressive laugh lines. 🙂 )

Another amazing moment somewhere in the middle 😉

Coming out of Hibernation

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

“Let light shine out of darkness”  2 Corinthians 4:6

I cannot find words to express how grateful I am that today is the first day of spring.

It was a looooooong winter!

Between huge snowstorms and subzero temps and keeping the home fire burning (literally) and staying on top of work and motherhood and kid activities and an awful lot of work-widow “single-parent” nights while the hubs traveled here and there. . . .it was a long winter.

This past week the temperature hit the 70s, the snow melted, and–FINALLY! I had the urge to blog for the first time in months. What was stopping me before? Exhaustion? Chaos? Yes. Both.

A good friend gave me an even more perfect explanation for my seasonal writer’s block though: my inspiration was hibernating. 

She was right! It was!

I didn’t have a single extra brain cell available with which to create or express or ponder or record or even just report the goings on of my crazy life the last few months. Because it was just that–crazy. 

I am still trying–my New Year’s intention–to be content in every day. Contentment in chaos is difficult, it turns out! So is calm, so is peace, and so is presence. I seemed to subconsciously realize around mid-January that if I had 10 spare minutes of energy, it needed to be focused on my family. So my writing and my new-found glass obsession both simply did what they had to do to survive–they went into hibernation. 

The other change that has helped me survive the long winter? My social media presence. I am online about 1/100th of the time that I was in 2016, and you know what? I could not feel better about that choice! The old me couldn’t walk down the stairs without scrolling my newsfeed. And now I can go days without a single peek at the book of faces. The connections are great, but what drained me was the time, and more recently, the negativity. I realized the very limited time that I have right now is too precious to waste reading bullshit political articles, or watching as 25 different people/pages all share the exact same news clip with different reactions. 

I simply don’t have time right now to worry about page views or likes or shares. 

I need that time to worry about hugs and mealtimes and snack times and nap times and tuck-ins and washing those favorite digger jammies so he can wear them again.

I also need that time for listening and supporting and laughing with and loving and enjoying my best friend (the hubs!) when he is home. Because all the days when he’s gone, my whole world just feels like winter.

I need to spend my moments watching these four brothers play ball and laugh and teach and practice and tackle and race and wrestle. Because every time they go away and come back again, Hank’s bigger. They’re all bigger.

God usually has a funny way of getting messages to me, but I always get them, loud and clear. This week I got the message that I am doing the right thing; by focusing more on what matters most, and letting everything else fall by the wayside. Loud and clear.

Coming out of his daily (mini) hibernation

I had just grabbed Hank after a perfect two hour nap, and I was feeling guilty that I had fallen asleep as well, rather than being “productive.” With 30 pounds of groggy toddler in one arm; I stacked his sippy cup of milk, his snack, a water bottle, and my phone all up on my Chromebook with the other; then headed down the stairs in a balancing act of multi-tasking greatness. 

Except that it wasn’t.

Somehow as we got off balance, I knew I had overestimated my capabilities. I managed to slide most of the items onto the banister as I squeezed Hank to my hip, but I watched in slow motion as the sippy cup full of milk went rogue and bounced end over end down the entire length of the staircase. Spraying milk in grand arcs all along the (carpeted!) stairs and the beautiful dark stain of the wood banister. 

LOTS of milk. 

I turned to Hank, who was equally enthralled by the display, (it looked just like those park fountains that spray the water up in the air in pretty patterns) and all we could do was laugh. He then offered up an adorable “Uh-oh!”and shrugged his little shoulders.

I held him closer to me and stood there for a few seconds, taking it all in. I had just summed up my life (as of late, anyways) in one milky disaster. 

I have been trying to do too much at once. And it just got messy.

I got the message.

I have to hold what is most important to me, closest to me, and let all the rest fall away. (Even if some of it does get messy at times!)

This springtime is the only springtime I will ever have with an almost two-year-old, who discovers something new every single day. 

A boy, a ball, and a bucket


I don’t want to waste these days, these hours, or these minutes. 

Any precious moment I am not working, this beautiful time of year; I will be spending with Hank. I will also savor the times when I get the privilege of enjoying his amazing daddy and his incredible brothers, too.

I have to find my peace in the chaos by leaving my phone in the house, while we play ball out on the lawn. 

I can catch up on the news some other day. . . .or not at all.

I can blog once a month, instead of weekly, and that will have to be good enough for me.

I know I will still write my books, make my mosaic masterpieces–another day, when I have more time. More energy. Less laundry.

(Maybe when he goes off to preschool?)

Until then, and until next time, happy spring!

*Make time for you and yours, and make sure to enjoy those little moments!*

“To the Moms Who Take Too Many Pictures: Keep it Up” on Her View From Home

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

Are you a member of the “mamarazzi” like I am? Do you take WAAAAY too many pictures of your kids? 

Yes?? GOOD!!! 

Cheers to you and your camera! I’m celebrating all of us camera-crazed mamas on my latest on Her View From Home! Check it out here:

To the Moms Who Take Too Many Pictures: Keep It Up

Puzzle Pieces

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood, Step by Step, We Are In This Together

 

My little boy, Hank, has three heroes: his three big brothers. When they are with us, they throw balls with him and dive onto pillow piles and build endless towers to knock down. They make him laugh like neither their daddy or I ever can. He idolizes them; he wants to be just like them.

There is an electric charge in the air on the days when daddy arrives with Hank’s three big brothers in tow. He can sense when they are coming, and he can hardly contain his excitement. The door barely clicks open and he is running to the top of the stairs, squealing; racing to get to them. 

His puzzle is complete on the days we have the boys; all the pieces of our family are in place and his world looks as it should.

But three days later the puzzle falls apart; three major pieces of it suddenly go missing, and he has to try to make sense of it in a one-and-a-half year-old brain which knows nothing of parenting plans or shared custody. Nothing of divorce, or of real mamas and step-mamas. I am sure he thinks I am his brothers’ mama too—why wouldn’t I be?

“We”—our six-pack—is all he has ever known. I do not look forward to the day I have to explain things like divorce to my precious boy. Explain why his brothers have another mama; how it’s not me. Why they have another home, too, on the other side of town, or why he will go to a different school than they do.

I don’t know how to explain why some mamas and daddies don’t speak to each other, even though they share the same children.

And most of all, I worry about explaining why his big brothers have to leave us for half of every week. Because before he can truly understand, he won’t understand, and I know there will be tears.

I don’t want him to be heartbroken half of every week, his best friends in the world lost to him again. I know it is coming. I can already see the gears turning in that precious little head, wondering; the start of the dissonance.

Lately on the days without his brothers around, his little lip trembles when he sees their pictures. He runs into their rooms, just to check.

We will see them soon, sweetheart, I tell him, soon.

Hank’s big brothers have huge hearts buried under their tough exteriors. They play and wrestle and high-five and cuddle and pick up and carry and comfort their little brother. I know they miss him, too, when they are away.

They don’t treat him any differently because I am not their mama, too. They love him just like they love each other, even though they don’t say it.

Hank has no place in one of their two worlds, but they live for him in our world. They amaze me every day with their maturity and compassion. Their resilience as they bounce between lives; their acceptance of their new family.

When daddy loads them up to take them back to their mama’s house, Hank stands in the doorway waving his special wave. He opens and closes his little fist to each of them, saying I Love You, even though the words don’t come out yet.

His big brothers answer him with the same wave, their code, their secret send-off. The words don’t come out of their mouths, either.

But they don’t have to. He knows.

 

Originally posted on Tribe Magazine at: http://thetribemagazine.com/puzzle-pieces/#ixzz4OodjbHiL

Best Buds

Bookends

Dear Restoration Hardware: Save $10 and Keep My Catalogs 

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

So I just finally got caught up on the one thing I love to put off–my mail pile. I always marvel at how much money (and trees) are wasted on junk mailers and catalogs that simply get thrown away. 

Right now, if it has a politician’s face on it, it goes DIRECTLY into our garbage. My husband and I are so over this election, and the onslaught of mailers just seems like such a waste.

But there–at the bottom of my pile–wrapped in plastic, was the biggest waste of all. 

My very own, personal library of Restoration Hardware Sourcebooks. 

Unsolicited. 

This probably five-pound bundle of three huge glossy catalogs had to cost you at least ten bucks to print and ship to me, without me requesting it

While I love wandering through your gorgeous store on the rare occasion we happen across one (usually in Seattle for a football game) I am by no means a good return on investment for you to ship these ridiculously luxe anthologies to. I am not in the market for any $8,000.00 Chesterfields, nor will I probably ever be. 

I also know your website is one quick Google search away. If I want to spend $5,000.00 making Hank’s room *perfect* after he outgrows his already perfectly beautiful crib and changing table/dresser (from Target) I will happily find your website at that point. I may look for inspiration, and then still, save those extra $4,500.00 for either our Disneyland trip (which we will be saving for until at least 2020) or his college fund. 

So save a tree, and keep my Sourcebooks from here on out. We’re good in our house–furnished in head-to-toe hand-me-downs and the two sofas we just paid off monthly via Ashley Furniture’s Outlet Store finance plan over the last two years. And we love it. We are so very proud of it, and our eclectic style that comes from merging two adult lives plus a passel of kids.

We may never be on “Cribs,” but we also feel like we can sit on our furniture. 

We LIVE in our house. Hard. 🙂

Sincerely, 

A Tired Mama who needed a rant today after some idiot on a crotch rocket woke her sick baby up from his nap. 

P.s. (I feel so much better now. But really, take me off your mailing list.)

That kind of luxe just ain’t for us