BEST present EVER: my new bluetooth headphones for running

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my new headphones

Anyone who considers themselves a runner knows my frustration when I say that I can’t stand when my cable keeps getting loose as I run; every 5 minutes I would be tucking it back into my shirt. I tried many different things: wrapping it around my arms, going criss-cross in between my shirt and my iPhone sleeve, even wrapping it around my neck! Unfortunately, none of these tactics worked. And the cord around my neck gave me a hint of claustrophobia after a few minutes as the cord slowly started becoming tighter.

When I’m not taking care of my kids, I like to run. Its my outlet. Its my second favorite thing to do – first of which is being a mommy. My outlet isn’t supposed to cause frustration. I like to turn the music up and just run. I don’t want to have to worry about whether my cord is in place or having to try and predict where my headphones will be once they snag on my wrist. Fortunately for me, my husband notices me and how I am feeling. After only a couple of weeks, he spent a few minutes online researching the best pair of earbuds for a runner, and went and bought me some new Bluetooth headphones specifically to use for when I run, and let me tell you – PROBLEM SOLVED. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! Not only am I no longer worrying about the stinkin’ cord flying in my face (or strangling me!), but they sound great, and they’re much more comfortable than the white Apple earbuds I’ve been used to listening to for the past couple years.

I didn’t even know headphones were this big on the market, or the quality could vary so much. If anyone is interested in what he bought me, they are called JayBird BlueBuds X Sport Bluetooth Headphones, in “Midnight Black”. I think they were just over $100 dollars but worth every penny! My husband actually just ordered a similar pair for himself – once he tried these out he couldn’t go back to the standard white earbuds. And these will be great gifts for upcoming birthdays in the family (most of my side of the family likes to run just as I do, maybe it runs in the genes) .

These new Bluetooth headphones have given me a new-found sense of freedom when I run. I don’t ask for much. I’m pretty easy-going and easy-to-please. Ask my husband. Ask anyone. All I ask for is an hour in the morning to run – snaggle free. That is exactly what these headphones gave me.

BEST PRESENT EVER

Hiding Behind My Clothes

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After having my first son my body was stretched beyond comfort. Lucky to have such a wonderful bundle of joy I was left with those unlucky stretch marks. They literally covered every inch of my body and I felt like I was ruined for life. I could no longer flaunt around the beach in my super cute bikinis. I not only had to wear a one piece bathing suit, I also had to wear long swimming trunks to hide my legs. The serious uncomfortableness of being so marked up led me on a journey to be beautiful again. I set out on a mission to be the first person in the world to remove all of my stretch marks. I was sick and tired of being covered up from head to toe on the hot summer days. I am going to share with you the top five things that I tried to remove these tiger marks. I would not recommend anyone try these things, this is just my personal experience.

stretch marks

 

I Tried To Remove My Stretch Marks:

-I thought if would be a good idea to use sand paper to sand my skin. Note: That was a very bad idea and I actually made the area look worse! It is really insane how far a person would go for beauty.

-Used a skin peel to attempt to peel away the bad skin and promote the growth of new skin cells. I have read many reviews of this method working for me. However, my skin did feel a little tighter and smoother but it looked the same.

-I have literally tried almost every stretch mark removal cream on the market. To my avail none of them ever worked. I was consistent with my regimen and I never had the satisfaction of change. It did feel good to have very moisturized skin.

-Derma rolling had to be one of the most painful things that I tried thus far. It felt like I was swimming in a thorn bush. After done my skin would be red and swollen. I just didn’t feel like this method was worth enduring the pain that accompanied it.

-To reduce the appearance of the stretch marks I attempted to tattoo over the area. I thought that if I covered them up nobody would be able to tell. Sadly, I made things worst. The ink was lighter in the areas where the stretch marks were. The tattoo drew more attention to the area exposing my ugly marks even more.

After trying everything under the sun nothing worked for me. I may consider laser treatments one day if my financial situation allows it. I would just hate to invest so much money into a treatment that will have no effect on me. I did a lot of research and the reviews are very mixed and bias. I think I will just pray everyday that a scientific all natural miracle stretch mark removal cream will be invented. Until them I will continue to hide behind my clothes.

 

 

This isn’t all I am

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Sometimes I love this space. Hard.

I love that I can connect with other mothers who I’d probably never cross paths with, stories I would never share, women I would never, otherwise know.

I love that I can share stories about my kids, post pictures for family and friends. Pictures and moments that I can look back on that make me smile months and years later.

I love that I can make you laugh, make you hold back tears, make you sigh because you can relate to a moment I describe.

I love that it gives me a place to talk about just how damn much l love those kids and being a mom.

I love that I can also whine about how those damn kids are making me crazy and how there are parts of motherhood that are kicking me right in the ass.

But.

But sometimes I worry about this space and what it says about me.  That the glimpse I give you into one, albeit the largest, piece of my life might make someone think that that’s all there is.

I try not to talk about work much. Mostly because I rather like having a paycheck. But also because it’s not appropriate or even that interesting.

But once in a while, usually when things are “happening” in my professional life, I worry about a current or future boss or coworker would feel if (when) they come across this blog.

Will my rants about potty training and babies who don’t want to nap look like excessive whining?  (It’s not.)

Will my love letters to my kids make me look like I’ve lost my ambition for growth in the corporate world and make them wonder if I’m pining to be a stay at home mom?  (I’m not.)

Does being able to write a funny post about moments I fail at parenting translate to a person who can also develop strategy, plan logistics and write speeches for big wigs?  (I can.)

Does a click through to my Twitter feed send up a red flag that I spend entirely too much time on social media?   (Um….maybe.)

Thinking about those things makes me feel like I’m thinking too much about who is reading and less about the person writing.  And it also tends to make me a little quiet.

I’m trying to find a way to bring a little bit of that piece of me here. Because it’s important. Because it’s part of who I am.  I just haven’t completely figured that out yet.

Am I crazy? Am I the only working mom who feels this way? 

Ten Years Ago

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Ten years ago this week, I met my husband.  He’ll tell you we met a few months earlier and that I paid no attention to him.  And, well, he’s not wrong.  He’s not right, but he’s not wrong.

Fresh out of college, I was working my first job at a tourism promotion agency. With a passion for media and special events, the all star football game that we were planning was right up my alley.  The game was my chance to shine. To show that I could do this professional girl in heels thing.  In April we held a news conference for local media and invited all of that year’s coaches to attend.

Craig was a coach.

His side of the story is that he tried to talk to me at the news conference and I blew him off.  To that I say, “whatever, dude. I was busy.”

Next up was a practice in early May, followed by dinner with the team at a local restaurant.  At the table, I was charmed and entertained by an older, retired coach who told jokes and made us giggle through the meal.  Again, I didn’t talk to Craig much, but I did in fact notice him.

A few phone calls between May and the week of the game asking him to “please for the love of all things Holy, send in your paperwork.”  And then noticing that his emergency contact was his mother (check one – not married) but that he wasn’t living with her (check two – not still living at home).  By the time the last week of June rolled around, I was… intrigued.

At the first practice, I tried to flirt a little.  (Maybe not the most professional thing to do, so let’s just say I was being friendly.)  He was cold in return.

Fine then.

The next day, he was a little more chipper and maybe, just maybe, flirted back a tad.  At the end of the day, the coaches asked if we could get tickets to the local minor league baseball game.  I agreed and asked how many tickets they needed.  Enough for all five coaches.

I got seven tickets.  Five for the coaches, one for a co-worker of mine and one for me.  We agreed to meet them at their hotel in a couple of hours and we would all go to the game together.

This was it.  I was going to charm him over beers and baseball.  I went home, put on a cute American Eagle skirt and tank top, curled my hair and dabbed on lip gloss.  My heart was pounding and I was on pins and needles with excitement.

We got stopped at the red light just outside the hotel.  I checked my hair in the mirror, giggled to my friend that maybe someday I’d remember this game as a BIG IMPORTANT MOMENT and looked up to see a white Jeep Wrangler approaching the intersection.

“Hey that looks like Craig’s Jeep,”  she said.

“It is.  Oh, someone is with him.  It must be Coach Sam.”

And then as he crossed the intersection we noticed that no, it wasn’t Coach Sam.  It was Coach Craig.

And a date.

I spent the first few innings of the game shooting daggers at the back of Craig’s head while sipping my beer.  When he went for a refill and asked if I wanted one, I mumbled a disgruntled no, even though mine was empty and I did, in fact, want another beer.  When he left because it started to rain and the top was off his Jeep, he left a note on my car for the rest of us to meet him at the bar.  I very maturely threw the note away.

I was crushed.  With absolutely no right to be, I was crushed.  And pissed.  And maybe a little young.

The week continued, I gave him the cold shoulder for a few days and players and coaches started laughing and joking about the “cousin” he brought to the game.  A few pointed interrogations of him and less than obvious (so I thought) questioning of the players on the team, I found out that the girl was a friend/date.  But not a girlfriend.

Okay then.

A few days later, mid-week, when he asked me if I wanted to go out sometime, I coyly answered, “maybe.”  Oh yes, people.  I was SO very good at playing hard to get.

The night of the game, after getting admonished by a coworker about being unprofessional (pssh, whatever), all bets were off.  We were no longer working on a project together and we were free to date.

So we did.

It’s not home

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The room is big and nice. Nothing fancy. A big bed with a two-inch-thick comforter.  The kind that almost makes you want to run across the room and bounce on it.  The adjoining bathroom has sample-sized shampoos and lotions, which makes me happy because mine are still sitting on bathroom counter, at home.

I sigh and place my bag on the bed.  Traveling feels weird without Craig.

After dinner, I make the calls.  The kids are fine. No tears at bedtime. Perfect angels all night long for their grandmother.

Heh. They could do that for me once in a while.

I slip under the covers for sleep.

Many hours, many toss and turns and many wakes up later, I throw back the covers and walk to the shower.

The water dances on my shoulders and neck. The shampoo and conditioner smell a little fruity for my taste, but they’ll do.  I wonder if the kids are up yet and if it’s too early to call.

I take a little longer in the shower, because, well, I can.

Rubbing lotion onto my damp skin, I see the scar on my abdomen.  I wonder if I’ll ever apply lotion without thinking of my son and his birth.  I decide no, I will always think of him when I see that five-inch scar.

A call to my husband and a text from my mom tells me the kids are still sleeping and doing great.  My babies are across the state and I breathe a deep sigh, knowing they are safe and sound.

I get ready for the day, drying my hair, applying makeup and tying my dress while practicing answers to questions that I’m not sure will be asked.

My gut tells me this is a big meeting.  My head is excited.  My heart is torn.

I notice that the corner of my lower lip is tucked between my teeth. I am nervous. I feel antsy.  I’m not leaving for a little while yet.

I need to write.

So I did.

I don’t even know what my point was

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The voices are raised so that we can hear each other over the sound coming from the TV, the sizzling of hamburger browning and the fan that keeps my smoke alarm from screaming.  Chessa is yelling to be heard, the adults in the room are in a heated conversation and Cole is starting to cry from his high chair.  I move from the stove to my baby, offering more chunks of banana while starting to cook the potatoes.

I feel a familiar tension begin in the indentation where my head meets my neck.

It’s quiet now. Just the two of us in the bathroom. The baby splashes and plays and giggles.  I rest my head, now throbbing, on the cool acrylic of the bathtub and close my eyes for a second, just listening.  Downstairs the voices are muffled but still heated. Phone calls. Texts. More conversation angry over the unfairness of it all.

I watch him play, water dripping from his eyelashes and gummy grins at his reflection and the headache starts to ease, just a little.

His head rests on my shoulder now, a chubby hand at the side of my neck curled around pieces of hair that have shaken free from my ponytail.  He smells like lavender and baby. His legs cross at the ankles and curl in my lap, a reminder of how big he’s getting.  I rock a little slower, listening to his breath and the hum of the humidifier.  Comforted by the weight of him sleeping against me, I think about my fears, my angers and my wishes for him.

The jersey is behind me, draped on the back of the glider. Last night he pour your heart out with things i cant saygrasped it as he drifted off and I had to pry it away when I laid him down.  It’s not about the jersey, I suppose.  It’s about the team, about being part of something bigger.  It’s about learning that it’s OK to fall as long as you go down together. It’s about learning that your team has your back and stands by you.  It’s about learning that the sacrifices – and the sacrifices will be many if he’s doing it right – will be worth it.

I want that for him. As much as I hate it sometimes, I want that for him.

 

I get that this post isn’t actually telling you anything… but it’s as close to pouring my heart out as I can get right now.  (How’s THAT for melodramatic?) 

Just … drive.

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Behind the wheel, I tap the beat from the radio onto the leather of the steering wheel.  My mind is buzzing from this topic to that one, the thoughts rolling and swirling and with it my my emotions from anger to frustration to hurt to whatever that feeling is when someone you love is hurt and nothing you can do can fix it.

I punch the radio dial. I’m done with that song. I need something else.

I punch it again and again. Until finally a song I can turn up. One that fits my mood and the butterflies in my stomach. One I can lose myself in.

Moments later, I drive up beside a tractor trailer that makes my soccer mom SUV look tiny.  I hold the breath in my mouth for a moment as I decide whether to merge behind or try to pass.

A memory transports me back to my childhood, watching my father back a similar and just as big truck into our driveway and park it in a space that took me four or five tries to get my mom’s Chevy Beretta into – and I’m reminded that truck drivers are far better drivers than me.  So I pass the truck with an acceleration of speed and a confidence that he won’t run me over.

As I watch the speedometer creep up, I think back again.

I was 16 and was asked to take him to pick up his truck.  The dump truck was in a constant need of repairs and it seemed I was always being asked to pick him up or drop him off at the repair shop. Sometimes the ability to flex my new driving skills was fun, but this time I was put out, as the detour to take him home would make me late for the varsity baseball game.

Driving down the two-lane highway, I punched the gas. A few miles over the speed limit and no terse warning from my father, I pushed it a little more. I passed a car or two.  In a hurry but also testing his limits.  Waiting to be told to slow down so I could retort with a reminder about how I was doing him a favor in the first place.

Instead, the ride was silent until when we walked in the door he stretched out his hand and waggled his fingers.  “Keys.”

Crap.

Fifteen years later, in the driver’s seat of my SUV, I grin at the memory and think about how I totally deserved those two weeks of lost driving priveleges (and probably a swift kick in the ass) and I slow down.  Just a tad.

Letters to Cole {Month 8}

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Cole Michael,

Hey buddy. Slow down.  No, really.  Slow. Down.

In the last month you’ve added crawling, fighting with your sister and pulling yourself up on furniture to your list of “things I can do without breaking a sweat.”  And Momma’s not ready for that.  Certainly I’m not ready to be chasing two kids in two different directions, so your newfound mobility scares me. I turn around for half a second and when I turn back, you’re trying to pull yourself up by using a small rocking chair for leverage.

Here’s a tip, kiddo: That’s not going to work. You’re going to fall.

I don’t know if it’s because you’re a boy or because you’re the second child or if it’s just what everyone says about every child being different, but you are getting yourself into places that your sister never did.  I lose count of the number of times I find you stuck under a kitchen chair or half behind the couch reaching for power cords or under the desk hitting your head.  I see lots of bumps and bruises in our future.

I keep telling people that I’m shocked that I’m breaking up fights between you and your sister already. For the love of God, buddy.  You’re 8 months and she’s 25 months old. Isn’t it a little early for this? But if for just a second I can be honest (and I’ll deny this later, I’m sure) I’m really happy to see you grabbing back when she’s snatching your toys from your chubby little hands.  For a few months, you’d just look at me. Kind of wide eyed, heave a big sigh and then move onto something else.  Now, you don’t even glance myt way before you tighten your grip, crawl after her or just give out a big ole cry that will get her in trouble and get you your toy back.

Well played, my boy. Well played.

Oh buddy. There’s nothing so bad that can’t be made better with your smiles. No feeling in the world better than when you drift off to sleep in my arms at night. And nothing that sounds better than you and Chessa giggling at each other.

We love you, kiddo.

Triage.

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I lift the babies out of their cribs, trying to keep the hurry out of my voice and my eyes off the clock.  Cole is so anxious to be held that he bangs his head on the crib rails trying to pull himself up. “Just a second, buddy,” I say as I turn off the humidifier and stand Chessa on the floor.  Quickly his excitement turns to brokenhearted whimpers as I’m just not getting him fast enough.

I place him on my left hip, he curls into my chest and pops his thumb in his mouth.  Just as quickly, he’s pushing away and trying to dive down to the floor and his big sister.

I tuck him back in and lean down to scoop up my girl.

“TWO KIDS!” she announces, giggling at being carried with her brother.

Thank goodness only two, I think sometimes.  I’m out of arms.

As we head to the steps, she remembers her Dora dolls.  “NEED DORAS!”

We go back to her room.  All three of us.

The Dora dolls gathered, she decides she wants to walk down the steps alone.  I hold Cole, doing his best to free his twenty pound body from my arms, while standing in front of her on the steps. We argue over who is going to carry the Doras.  She cries and pouts when I take them away and tell her she needs her hands to hold onto the rail and remind her that she fell a few days ago.

Downstairs, I make quick decisions about which kid to diaper and dress first.  The act of getting dressed infuriates my boy and while he cries and tries to flip himself off the couch, Chessa stands in the living room taking off her pajamas.  I catch Cole and place him back on a diaper, my hand on his chest holding him in place.

He cries.

Chessa frees her arms from her pink monkey jammies but can’t quite get it off her feet.

She cries.

Oh my heavens, you two. Cut me a break.

I pull the shirt over his head while talking Chessa through the foot extraction.

One baby down.  One toddler to go.

I place Cole on the floor with Elmo.  He beelines for Dora instead, almost reaching the big-headed doll before his sister snatches her away.

“NOOOO COOOOOLLLE! DATS MINE!”

Cole cries again.  Louder this time.

I decide he needs to eat and start to make a bottle.  Chessa, in nothing but her diaper, pulls at my pants.  “WANT SOMFING MOMMY.”

I toss a Poptart at her and tell her to try to put her shirt on while I feed her brother. For a moment things are calm.

Then?

Chessa needs me to draw a spider on the Magna Doodle.  “MOMMY’s NOT BUSY,” she protests when I tell her my hands are full.  She points to the free hand that’s tucked under Cole’s back.  “USE DAT HAND”.

I draw spiders with my left hand, while holding a bottle with my right.

Finally, Cole is done eating. Chessa’s spider has been drawn.  And with the few minutes before I need to leave for work, I can move onto getting her changed and dressed.

Maybe she’ll accept the clothes I picked, or maybe the purple sweatpants will send her into hysterics.  Maybe Cole will be happy to play, maybe he’ll be fussy and clingy and I’ll be trying to hold him on my lap while tying Chessa’s shoes.

Triage.  It’s all traige.

This mother’s prayer

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Dear God,

Please take care of my children.

I pray for a lot of things, but if you ever have to choose, always choose them.  Please keep them safe. Keep them healthy. Keep them happy.

Give them faith that everything will be OK, then help to make sure that everything ends up being OK.  Give them courage. Give them trust. Give them the ability to laugh, to cry, to feel.

Surround them always with people who love them. Put people in their lives who have their best interests at heart. When their feelings are hurt, when their hearts ache because someone let them down, when their eyes swell up with tears; help them to learn from the experience, see that it wasn’t all for nothing and help them move forward.

And for the people who hurt my babies, God.  Please keep them far away from me.

Please be the voice inside my children’s heads when they don’t know which choice to make. Help them to always choose to be nice and be good.

Help them to chase their dreams. Help them to stand when they fall.  Help them to never give up.

Everything else will fall into place.

Help us to be the parents they deserve. To greet them with smiles and open arms, to lose count of the number of kisses shared throughout the day. To pay attention when their little voices speak to us.

Those voices are so very special. And they carry the thoughts of these two pieces of my heart. Help me to always listen. Really, really listen.

Be with Craig and me as we remember that we created these two people. And when we did that we made them a promise. We promised them a family.  Help us to remember each other as we carry this family forward.

And, please. If I can be selfish, please give me another day with my family. I will ask this of you every night for as long as I live.

But they need me. And I need them. And they need each other.

We are a family, the four of us.  We are a team. We fit together.

And we need that fit. We need the other six shoulders to lean on, the other three smiles, the other hands to hold.

Give us another day, Lord. And another one after that.

Perhaps I imagine wrong

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Downstairs the microwave beeps for a fifth or sixth time. Insistent on announcing that the water I heated for tea nearly ten minutes ago is now ready. Has been ready.

On the bed, the baby squirms and cries. Getting his diaper changed is such an inconvenience these days.

I hear footsteps, proceeded by the smack of toddler hands, coming up the stairs and I hold my breath. “Chessa, BE careful.”  I yell in a voice loud enough for her to hear, but not so loud that I scare her. So much for her wanting to stay down there and watch Dora while I put Cole down for a nap. 

I pause as I fasten the diaper tabs and look at Cole. The tears on his cheeks break my heart.  Something isn’t right with my boy today.  And while I don’t want to wish away his baby time, the past seven months have gone fast enough thankyouverymuch, I wish he could tell me what was hurting him.

I hear the microwave beep again.

I pick him up and bounce and shush.  I don’t bother to pull his thumb from his mouth. Right now that he has comfort is more important to me than breaking a habit.  He continues to cry and I remember the chewing this morning.  Under my breath, I curse teething as a cruel bastard.

With a quick stop in the bathroom for some baby Motrin, I continue in my attempt to win the naptime battle.  After a kiss and an “I love you.” I walk out of his room.  His cries stop almost as soon as I close the door.

In the hallway, I notice Chessa sitting on the top of the steps.  Oh, her independence is going to give me heart failure.

I run my hands across my head and pull the ends, tightening the ponytail.  A glimpse in the mirror reminds me that I’m wearing the same sweats I put on Friday when I got home from work.

Today is Sunday. 9:06 AM.

I suppose there are hundreds of women like me. But somehow I always think that they do it better. I imagine them never leaving a child downstairs while they take the other one up for a nap. I imagine them always have clean counters and a stocked refrigerator.  I imagine them sipping their tea while it is still hot while the two children play like angels.

I imagine I’m probably wrong more than I’m right about these other women.   But still, I imagine it.

Football season: the update

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The house was a mess. The floor a dumping ground for Legos, stuffed animals and six or seven Elmos.  The kids were disheveled and I was past the point where I cared. They were happy. They were content for a few minutes. And I was taking a much needed breath.

Craig was in the middle of it all. He was home for a short time to visit with us between meetings or film sessions, popping in for “hellos” and cuddles and kisses.  And I was more than happy to hand the parenting duties over to him for those moments.

As the kids reached for him and clung in his arms and on his leg, he looked at me.

“I know you’re tired by the end of the day,” he said. “But you have to appreciate that you get all this time with them.”

I do. Oh, how I do. And oh, how tired I am sometimes.

How much I hate that I can stare at a basket of laundry for three days before I finally give in and fold it. Or how much I dread the sound of blocks crashing onto the floor knowing that in approximately 5.4 seconds they will be all over the bottom half of our house and I’ll be picking them up when the kids go to bed.  How I try hard to watch a couple of DVR’d sitcoms and only make it to the first commercial before I fall asleep on the couch.

But?

But I know he misses more.

He misses the hugs, the laughter, the goofy faces and the celebrations for milestones such as potty training for the girl and sitting up and becoming even more mobile for the boy. (OK, fine. I didn’t celebrate his mobile-ness as much as I choked back tears at the thought of two kids going in two different directions.)  He misses dinner (even if it is hotdogs and french fries – again!) more than I dread having to spoon feed the baby and bargain with a toddler while trying to eat my own dinner while it’s still sort of hot.

I was terrified of this year’s football season. Sure that by week four I would be batshit crazy with two kids.

But actually? (And I’m whispering this part because there are still a couple of weeks left to the season.)  It hasn’t been THAT bad. The kids and I found a groove. Craig found a way to be here more than either of us probably expected. He’s getting lots of time with Chessa, often hanging out with her while I put Cole to bed.  And if Cole doesn’t soon stop reaching for Craig instead of me, I’m going to develop a complex.

I lowered my expectations for sure. Baths are only given every other night. Dinner isn’t freshly made as often as I would like. I’m not spending my weekends cooking and baking.  My house isn’t always company ready.

I knew when to call for help. Whether from my in-laws next door, my parents, close friends or two favorite babysitters, I didn’t hesitate to call in reinforcements when the going started to get tough.  That’s so not like me.

But we survived.

Cole greets him with fast and furious baby kicks. And Chessa runs across the room, feet pounding floorboards, yelling “DADDY!DADDY!DADDY!DADDY! when she hears the door open.  When he’s not here for bedtime kisses, he’s sneaking in their rooms for whispered good nights as they sleep.

And I? Well I’m in desperate need for a date night and I’ve rewarded myself with a wee bit of retail therapy (just to match the new bag a certain someone got me for my birthday) but, I made it.

So, yes. I do know how lucky I am to be in these moments every single day.

And also, I’m still counting down to the final game.

 

Linking up with Shell!

 

pour your heart out with things i cant say

Monday night, 9:07PM

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I open up a blank document and stare at the screen.  The laptop rests on the top of my outstretched thighs and I place my fingertips gently on the keys.

I wait.

I look up at the television, distracted by the latest trashy, reality TV show and I mute the volume. The kids are in bed, Craig is working and the house is quiet.  There only sound is the soft static that comes from the baby monitor.  I look at my fingers and the screen and I will the words to come.

And, I wait.

With a deep breath, I pull out my to-do list from work. Maybe I need to take the opposite approach and work on something with a deadline.  Maybe if I force myself into writing, the words I want to share here will come more freely.

I open up another document, this one about a recent project the company won and I stare at the screen.

And, I wait.

I take a long drink of my Sam Adams.  I hold the cold beer in my mouth for a moment before swallowing, not sure if the taste is bitter or perfect.

I look at my phone, checking it for messages or new emails.

I check Twitter.

And I wait.

I tap out a few words. And then I delete them.

I think about our night, looking hard into the everyday moments trying to find inspiration.  Inspiration in the way the boy lays his head on my shoulder when I come home from work. Inspiration in the way Chessa laughs from deep within her belly when something really strikes her as funny.  Inspiration in the little things that Craig does that makes me realize how very lucky my little family is to have him.

I wait for the words to come.  I think of the moments I could share.

I crack my knuckles. I shift my weight and fold my legs. I gather my hair into a ponytail. I sink my back into the deep red pillow.

I go back to the first document. The one that still sits blank.

And I begin to type.

 

have i mentioned how much i love this link up, by Heather. go. read. write. it’s fantastic. 

Letters to Cole, Month 7

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Dear Cole,

Seven months old. Seven months and two days old, if you’re going for accuracy. You have taken off this month, from baby boy to little boy.

Maybe it’s the way you zip across the floor after your sister or one of her toys. Or your blond hair that is getting longer and thicker by the minute. Or the way you reach for me and then in the exact moment I bring you into my arms, you push off my chest so that I’m forced to hold you facing out, watching the world.

Just a few weeks ago, I was writing about how sweet it was to rock you to sleep.  Watching your eyes flutter and your breath get heavy as you give way to your dreams.  Only now, you’ve decided you’re done being cuddled.  You drink your last bottle of the day in more of a sitting on my lap kind of way and less of a being cradled in my arms way.  Occasionally, you fall asleep on my lap, but those days are becoming few and far between.

I don’t even know what to write to you except that it’s going too fast.

I see the look in your eyes when you watch your sister. When you see her running and swinging and eating ice cream, your eyes sparkle, your arms and legs kick and your squeals get louder.  It’s pretty clear that you want to be there with her.

And, as I hold you in my arms, feeling your excitement and your frustration, I kiss you on the cheek and smooth your hair.  Then I whisper, “soon enough, buddy. You’ll be down there soon enough.”

Daddy and I love you sweet boy.

two

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Happy birthday, sweet girl!

Sometimes I try to imagine the you that you will be when you read these letters.  Will you be twelve, knowing everything and roll your eyes at my emotion? Will you be seventeen and try to use my loving words here to convince me to buy you a car? Or will you be starting your own family and will you finally understand your mother just a little bit better?

I think about what you might want to hear. I think about what I might say to you. What secret messages I can send to you ten, fifteen or thirty years from now.

And then I decide to do what I do here every day and just try to capture the moment.

To try to describe your smile, the way you kiss your brother while squeezing his face just a little too tight and your tiny little waist and long legs.

I want you to know that the way you run down the hallway when you hear your daddy – feet pounding the floor, arms flailing, million-watt grin on your face and high-pitched squeals yelling “DADDY, DADDY, DADDY, DADDY” – lights up his day.  And the way sometimes, just once in a while, the way you curl up with me or cuddle up against me with your head on my shoulder, lights up mine.

I want to try to freeze this moment in time, where you’re talking a mile a minute but still in toddler talk and mostly in the third person.  Where you love your brother, begrudgingly give him some of your toys to play with and always plant a kiss goodnight on his cheek.  Where you love to sing and dance and clap your hands not caring who, or if anyone, is watching.

You’re such a wonderful two-year-old. You are making every age and stage you enter my very favorite as you learn and grow and turn into a tiny little person that we love so very much.

Two years, 40 weeks and six days

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“It’s your last day of being one, ” I teased her.  “Tomorrow you’ll be TWO!”

“TWO! Tomorrow Chessa happy birfday!” she answered back, eyes gleaming.

I kept dressing her.  Pants go on like this, shirt over your head, give me your arms…  And then, she looked up at me and said, “Chessa still young, Mommy.”

Yes, baby girl. Chessa is still young. And if I have anything to say about it you will be young for a very long time.

– – – –

It’s hard to believe that two whole years ago, I was wrapping up my last day of work before maternity leave.  Knowing that come hell or high water my child would be born the next day.  At 40 weeks and 6 days pregnant, the impending induction had me shaking in fear. I wasn’t looking for a natural, no drugs, kind of birth, but I did want the excitement of going into labor, rushing to the hospital, laboring on my own until I couldn’t take it anymore.

So, to say I spent this day two years ago a little bit pissed and a lot restless is an understatement.  In fact, I’m considering putting Chessa’s birthday gifts out on my birthday (her due date) and making her wait a whole week to open them.  (I kid. Sort of.) (I’ll probably joke about it she’s old enough to roll her eyes at me and stomp up the stairs.)

Her birth story was different than my dream.  There were IVs and drugs – the bad kind that grip your abdomen and don’t let go – and the very, very good kind that make it so you can’t feel a thing.  Seven hours of pitocin, four hours of an epidural and too many episodes of bad, hospital TV later, I pushed and she was born.

It sounds so cliche, but those last two years have zipped by.  And whether or not I can slow down time, I can do everything in my power to hang onto her childhood.  So that she can stay young for a very long time.

An open letter to mothers of babies: I didn’t know.

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disclosure: I’m not the first person to write about this.  In fact, Law-Momma wrote two posts that do way more service to it than I could.

Sometimes I think the worst part of being a parent is not the sleepless nights spent walking a teething baby. Nor is it the tantrums in the middle of dinner, in a busy restaurant. Nor is it teaching a teenager to drive.

No, sometimes I think the worst part of being a parent is hearing stories about tragedy striking another family. Maybe someone I know, maybe not. It’s irrelevant.  As a mother, as soon as I hear a story of a lost child my mind immediately goes to my children. I can’t help it.  It’s instinctual and guttural.  And it takes everything I have to stay where I am and not go pick them up and hold them until they are old enough to get married and have their own children – and maybe not even then.

Because it’s not supposed to happen like that. Children are not supposed to go first.

I read this week about a baby in Georgia who died after falling in his car seat from the top of a grocery cart.  It was an accident. It was a horrible, terrible accident that is leaving a mother with arms absent of her three-month old son.

And, I can’t shake this story.

I have done that so many times.  I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to put the car seat there. I thought that because it seemed to fit into place that it was designed to be safe.  Thinking about it now, I guess it makes sense.  There’s nothing holding that seat in if the cart hits a bump or take a sharp turn.  Nothing to protect the baby.  It makes the cart heavy and unstable.

I get it. Now.

I’m sure the instructions that come with the seat clearly state that this shouldn’t be done. But I didn’t read them.  I read about how to install the base into my car so that it would be safe, but once I had that figured out, I put the book away.

Please don’t use your car seat this way anymore. Please.

I know it’s inconvenient.  I know you may think there’s no other way. But, please, please try to find one.  Wear the baby in an Ergo, Baby Bjorn or some kind of infant carrier strapped to your chest.  Put the whole seat in the big part of the cart and get less stuff.  Send someone else to the grocery store. Go by yourself.

And Target, WalMart, Giant Eagle, whoever, if you’re reading this; please put a warning up for parents.

I didn’t know that you shouldn’t do this.  I didn’t know that I was putting my child at risk for injury… or worse.

If you did know, that’s great. This is not the time to make an example of a mother who lost a child or judge those of us who didn’t read the fine print in our car seat safety booklet.

I’m writing this because I didn’t know.  And maybe you don’t either.

thirty-one

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In an attempt to celebrate turning 31 today I tried to put together a list of 31 random things about me.  I got to #6 before I got bored.

Let’s just say it’s been…  a WEEK.  You know the kind that deserves use of ALL CAPS EMPHASIS.  It starts with a pinched nerve in your shoulder and kids battling colds and ends with a major organizational shift at work and kids with full -on COLDS! and TEETHING! and POTTY TRAINING! and OVERTIRED BABIES who won’t sleep! and… well, let’s just say there’s not enough wine IN THE  STATE.

So, no list.

And also, I’m done with all caps now. You’re welcome.

Instead I’m talking about how a year ago there was this:

And now this:

There was grad school started and then put on hold to birth a baby and chase a toddler.  There was a job description that changed. And changed. And changed.  There have been questions and lists and brainstorming about what I want to be when I grow up.

But, a year ago there was this:

And now this:

I looked like this along the way.

Very pregnant with crazy symptoms that sent me to doctors for tests and tests and more tests. There was a c-section. Then more tests which resulted in a clean bill of health. And a ridiculously large deductible that I’ll be paying longer than I’m paying for my car.

But that all led me to this:

There was a flooded basement, a torn up backyard and a patio that had to be re-paved and re-landscaped.

There were weddings and family reunions, graduation parties and holidays – all spent with family, good food and not enough sleep.

There was a  rock-star football season last year and a not so rock-star football season this year.

There were smiles and tears. There were hugs and fights.  There were kisses and timeouts for hitting.

There were colds and doctor visits. There were cuddles and breaking out old blankets.

There were walks around the neighborhood as a family of three and, now, a family of four.  There was me attempting to run. Once.

There was a vacation. A visit to the local fair. A visit to the zoo.

There were sleepless nights walking the floors with a newborn. There were sleepless nights trying to understand why a toddler wasn’t sleeping.

A year ago, we were a family of three with another on the way.  And I had a hard time imagining how it could get any better.

I was wrong.

Because now, there’s this:

 

Happy Birthday to me!  Now, who has the cake?

Naming humans is hard

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Both times I was pregnant we had thousands, no really, thousands, of conversations about names.  While driving, while shopping, while eating dinner, while getting dressed in the morning, while watching TV… you get the idea.

The conversations went something like this…

Him:  How about …

Me:  I don’t hate it.

Me:  Oh, I like …

Him:  EEEEHHHHHHH

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I am shocked we managed to agree on two names.  Chessa (Francesca) Rae is named after Craig’s grandmother and shares a middle name with my mom.  Cole Michael got his middle name from Craig’s brother who passed away when he was only a few months old.

I love family names.

I love my children’s name.

That being said, most often these are the names you hear in my house:

Peanut.

Munchkin.

Lovebug.

Babycakes.

Sweetheart.

Silly girl.

Silly boy.

Silly monkey.

Honey bunny.

Buddy.

Champ.

Baby girl.

Baby boy.

Buttercup.

Princess.

Handsome boy.

Beautiful girl.

Punkin.

Pumpkin.

Sweet cheeks.

Blue eyes.

Blondie.

So? What nicknames do you call your children? 

Ahem.

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Perhaps you’ve noticed a few new things around this space.

New header up there. New stuff over there.

I got a blog facelift.

It’s akin to a shopping spree after having a baby. You love the baby more than anything in the world, but the therapy that comes from sprucing up your wardrobe that doesn’t quite fit anymore is downright divine.

This internet version of retail therapy (am I taking my metaphor too far here?) is all thanks to co-worker/freelance graphic designer, Shaun Boland, and the internet-famous, Lindsey and JP.

I think this new look is a little less “I’m about to lose my damn mind” and a little more “sometimes the kid gets cookies and I get some peace.”

Sort of like me.

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Here’s a cartoon from Shaun.  It’s the first of a bunch that he sent me for your viewing pleasure! Funny, right? Feel free to check out his website!

133-News_political-Bailout_Mom-comic

 

You can close your eyes

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Well the sun is surely sinking down.
But the moon is slowly rising.
So this old world must still be spinning around.
And I still love you.

I shift his weight in my arms, press his body to my chest, and graze my nose along his cheek as I sing softly with the song that’s coming from my Blackberry.  I can channel many an artist, but I don’t do James Taylor well.

Wide-eyed, Cole looks up at me.  Those baby blues, looking deep into my dark brown eyes, are saying “No, Momma. I’m not tired.”

I breathe him in, hold tight as he tenses his body and tries to kick against my cuddle and then I begin to rock.

So close your eyes.
You can close your eyes, it’s all right.
I don’t know no love songs.
And I can’t sing the blues anymore.
But I can sing this song.
And you can sing this song when I’m gone.

He stops fighting. His gaze becomes more about memorizing my face and less about resisting my attempt to get him to take a nap.

Staring back at him, I try to memorize him too. When I grin at him, he smiles back. It’s like we have our own little secret.

My eyes leave his face and look at his hands, one curled up against my breast, the other in his mouth.  I look at his arm, his belly, his legs and his toes.  He seems so big sometimes and yet now, like this – in the corner of my mother-in-laws basement, I’m reminded how very little he is.

I try not to look at the clock and think about how soon I have to be back in the office. I try not to notice the blinking light on my phone indicating another email or text message. I try to make the very most of this lunch hour and the chance to cuddle my boy before he falls asleep.

It won’t be long before another day.
W
e gonna have a good time.
No one’s gonna take that time away.
You can stay as long as you like.

 He is still now. He closes his eyes, just a moment longer than a blink, but opens them again.

“I’m still here, buddy.”

I think that I should put him down. Not let him get too used to this being rocked to sleep thing.  But he’s so snug, so still, breathing so deep.  The office that I left just moments ago seems so far away.

So, I keep rocking.  Keep looking at his face.  Keep listening to his breaths. Keep holding him tight.

I keep rocking.  And singing softly.

 So close your eyes.
You can close your eyes, it’s all right.
I don’t know no love songs.
And I can’t sing the blues anymore.
But I can sing this song.
And you can sing this song when I’m gone.

Nighttime routines were easier when she was a baby

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After we brush her teeth and dry her hair she looks up at me.  “Talk about FAVWATE things?”

“OK, sweetheart. Let’s go talk about favorite things.”

On my bed, she places “her” pillow and my pillow on the middle of the bed. As directed by my two-year-old, I lay my head down and look at her.

“What are you favorite things, Chessa?”

“Bananas!  Hot dogs!”

I laugh, she always leads with bananas and hot dogs.

“What else?”

“Um… Ava! Going for car ride! Seeing the Huskies! Playing with Pap Pap!”

Her list continues, largely based on what she did that day.

After a few minutes, I stop her to tell her that my favorite things are her and her brother and daddy.  And sometimes I throw in things like shoes and milkshakes because, let’s be real here, they make the list too.

When I’m done and starting to prepare her for bed, she asks to say “PWAYES”

And I can’t help but feel there has to be a better role model for her here.  I’m not a kneel by the bed and talk to Jesus kind of pray-er. Yes, I pray. Yes, I thank God for my blessings. Yes, I make sure both kids have bibles and we read the stories now and again. But when it comes to teaching a child how to have a conversation with God. I don’t know how to do that.

I’m more of a “whisper prayer” kind of person. You know the kind… an email request pops into my inbox or someone says please say a prayer that… so I do, there at my desk and every time that person or thing pops into my head, while I’m cooking dinner, or while I’m driving home or while I’m taking a break from writing a technical paper.

When I kiss my child before I lay him down for a nap and am overwhelmed with how lucky – no, how blessed we are – to have healthy and happy children, I whisper a “thank you” to Him. Or when I feel like I need some help – more patience, more confidence, more belief that things will actually work out, more ability to bite my tongue – then I whisper a prayer for help with that very thing.

So how do I teach a toddler to say her nightly prayers?

My attempt is usually something like “Dear Jesus, thank you for this day…” and on we go, thanking Him for our blessings and asking for him to watch over my girl while she sleeps and take care of the people she loves.

When we’re done, (although I never quite know the proper way to end a prayer – Over and out? 10-4? Love you?) we wrap it up with a resounding amen.

And off she goes to bed.

So, Internet? Is this how you teach a child to pray? Is the act of praying more important than the execution?  Can there be a wrong way to pray?

The Black Sheep

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the black sheep

I never did care much for this part.

For months I raised them. Fed them every day, made sure they had fresh water, talked to them. I helped in the barn – clipping tails, trimming hoofs and shearing wool. Most of my “help” was standing around watching and handing tools to my dad or Uncle Scott. But I was there.

As we got closer to “The Fair” the work intensified. There were earlier mornings walking lambs around the pasture or in and out the long dirt road. There were weekends spent at Grandma and Pap’s farm. There were lunch meat sandwiches, chips from the top pantry cabinet and Dr. Pepper. There were water fights with hoses when we were supposed to be washing the animals.

Fair week was early mornings, hot afternoons and late nights; competitions for the title of best showman or grand champion; tight jeans, ponytails and heavy boots.

And then the week ended with the livestock sale.

My brother was young. Maybe 5 or 6? I would have been 13 or 14. And “Blackie” was my lamb, my entry into that year’s fair.

Except she was Kyler’s lamb.  He walked her in the mornings. He hugged her neck. He brushed her black wool.

He was devastated to find out she would be part of the sale.

For days, my mom, family and friends connived and schemed to find a way for us to be allowed to keep this lamb for my little brother. As the top finisher in her class, the lamb was destined to be walked into that show arena on Saturday morning. So they went to work.  They talked to local businesses, as they were often the buyers at the sale, bargained that if they bought Blackie, we would trade them for a different animal. Any lamb they wanted from our small farm.

But there are no guarantees at an auction.

The morning of the sale, there were butterflies in my stomach. Well past the age and stage where I got attached to the animals, I knew the butterflies were because of my little brother’s pain.

Before the sale started, he offered me his life savings – all four dollars of it – to buy the animal on the spot.

My heart broke a little bit more. My mom fought tears. My dad sighed.

This is all part of raising livestock. The selling part.

But this time, there was a little boy with sandy brown hair, clinging to his mother. He buried his nose into her shoulder,  letting his tears wet her shirt, as the auctioneer announced my name, the weight of the animal and started the bidding.

“Gimme-two-two-two. Gimme-two-dollars-a-pound. I’ve-got-two. Gimme-two-twenty-five. Two-twenty-five. Two-twenty-five.”

The boy cried.

The mother cried.

I cried.

The light purple ribbon fell from the lamb’s neck as I tried to watch see who was raising their numbered paddles. Begging the buyers we knew with my eyes, “Please win. Please keep bidding. Please.”

The auctioneer kept going. Three dollars a pound. Then four.

The words swirled around me, alone in the show ring with my animal, as time slowed and everything blurred.

“SOLD!”

With the bang of a gavel and a blink, it was over and the winning bidder was announced.

Frantically, we searched the crowd.  Who had just bought this lamb? Would it be someone who would understand a preschooler’s attachment to a farm animal and give her back?

It was Uncle Roy, my great uncle. And the one person we forgot to call and tell about the conundrum we found ourselves in.  He didn’t know of Kyler’s affection for this animal. He was standing in the back and didn’t see the tears. He just decided he was going to buy my lamb to help support me and the 4-H program. So he did.

And he gave her back. But not to me. He gave her to Kyler.

Blackie went home with my brother and lived many, many more years.  I went on to raise and sell a few more lambs. Kyler grew up to raise and sell more animals than I ever did, with a love for the whole process that I never had.

But, I never cared much for the selling part.

On finding a tribe (or a pity party)

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Preface:  I hate “woe is me” posts. Unless they are “woe is me, I’m sleep deprived, my baby is teething and my toddler is running circles around me” posts.  But yet, I’ve had this “thing” on my mind that I just can’t shake. So maybe by writing it down, by pouring my heart out, I’ll shake it out.  You’ve been warned.  Pity party ahead.

—-

I don’t know how to say this poetically or politically correctly. But I have goals for this blog, this space, this corner of the internet that is mine. When I started, I tried not to take it too seriously. I told myself I didn’t care about things like comments or traffic.  I read somewhere that if you were doing “it” for “that” then you were doing it all wrong.

Yes, first and foremost, I want to save these moments of my children’s lives. I want to look back someday and recall the stories that I share with you. I want to feel the lump in my throat remembering how small they were, how long the days seemed and how fast the time flew by.  I want to share them with my kids when they get a bit older, so they can roll their eyes at me and warn me to never share this with their friends. And then I want to share it again when they become parents and a wife and a husband.   I may not be in many pictures with my kids, but they will always have my words.

But also? I want this blog to BE something. What? I’m not exactly sure. I don’t have the expectation to make enough money off of it to pay my bills or send my kids to college.  But could it be the platform to freelance writing? A column somewhere? A consulting job or two?  I don’t know…   Those dreams seem more realistic.

I’ve read the blog posts on how to make it happen. I’ve eavesdropped on the twitter conversations. I’ve commented until my fingers bled.  I even paid professionals for a site assessment (which I completely recommend, by the way!)  The part I struggle with the most in the online world is finding a tribe.  Everywhere I look, there are friends holding each other up, promoting a person, supporting a dream, guiding a person to where she wants to go, telling her not to give up when she wants to walk away.  And I want that.

Don’t get me wrong. I have made great and fantastic friends through this blogging thing. People I “met” online were the first to get the announcement of Cole’s birth. I exchange texts, emails, tweets, vents and rants with people I’ve never actually hugged or shared a beer with.  And I love them.  Every single one.

But? I struggle with finding the place that I fit. Finding the group that has similar goals in mind that doesn’t also have (what seems to be) an unbreakable barrier to entry.  Is it a case of “you get what you give?” Could it be that I need to “just grow a set” and push my way in. Maybe. Probably. But that’s so not me. I’m the girl that waits to be invited. And then kicks the dirt and says “Oh, I didn’t want that anyway” when she’s not.

But I do. And it’s hard. It’s as hard to break into groups and create relationships online as it is do so in a small town or a crowded bar.

I’m working at it. It’s just taking longer than I expected.

Quilts

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I sit with my back propped up against the couch. My children face me, lying on their backs on the floor. My heart is on one side of my stretched out legs playing with her babies, pretending that it’s nap time. On the other side is my soul, learning how to play peek-a-boo.

Cole pulls the receiving blanket up over his face, fumbles it around for a second or two. I get nervous and pull it away –PEEK! – and he grins and giggles. His grins still seem so big, what with the absence of teeth and all.  Chessa lays each baby on their own pillow, atop an old quilt. She lays them gently, finds another smaller blanket and demands that I cover her up.

As I lay the blanket over her, the quilt below her catches my eye; the rainbow of colors, the threads that hold the patches of fabric together, the softness.  I’m not sure exactly when I inherited this blanket but I think it was made by my great-grandmother.  I remember spending many a night curled up underneath the blanket made of old t-shirts, worn blankets and soft material.  I lay under it watching TV when I was single and living alone.  It kept me warm when I slept on the couch next to my babies when they were newborns. It covered both of us when their afternoon naps were spent on my chest.

Since they were both born, there’ve been other  quilts, made by my mother and grandmother, brought to our house.  I have them folded up and placed away in closets and in drawers – they’re too nice to be played with, too special to take the risk of something being spilled on them.

Except that now it seems like such a waste to not have them out here, on the floor, under my babies. For that I have these.

Dear Cole: Six Month Letter

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Dear Cole,

Last night you feel alseep in my arms. As your body got still and heavy, your breaths soft and regular, I leaned down and pressed my lips against your hairline.  I breathed in and tried so hard to commit the moment to memory.

The flicker of the fireplace. The weight of you in my arms. The unmistakable smell of baby lotion. The softness of the chair holding both of us. The dampness in your hair from your bath.  The quietness of the moment.

I mention this because it is becoming less and less often that you let yourself drift off in my arms.  And if I learned anything with your sister it is that those are the moments I would miss the most.  So I try to encourage it. I rock a little longer, walk another lap through the hall and bedrooms, trying to coax you to sleep or at least wait you out.  But you fight my snuggle, fight the tight way I try to hold you and fight being held like, well, a baby.

You’d prefer to be held upright and outward, looking out at the world and kicking your legs.

So, I’m left to kiss you goodnight and lay you in your crib where you look back up and me and flash a gummy grin.

But last night, you let  me hold you while you slept.  And hold you I did.

I watched the clock change, and kept thinking “five more minutes.”   Before I knew it, five “five more minutes” had passed and I forced myself to lay you down before your sister came home and woke you up.

I could say that in those twenty-five minutes I thought of the six months that just passed or the six months, six years or sixty-plus years that you have ahead.  But, I didn’t. I stayed right there with you in the moment.

I felt your soft footed pajamas.  I traced your round cheek with my fingertip. I watched your eyes move back and forth under your lids and wondered what you were dreaming about.

I felt peaceful. I felt needed. I felt love.

And then, I hoped that you would know what it feels like to feel all those things in one moment.  Because right there, in that moment, we were both peaceful, needed and loved.

Your daddy and I love you , sweetheart.  So much.

The Honeymoon Story

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We spent six glorious days sleeping in the sun, walking on the beach, going to breakfast and eating late dinners. Every day, we looked at the brochure and talked about parasailing or doing some kind of “adventure”.  And every day we decided to wait.

And then, on our second to last night there, we had drinks and went to dinner, like every night before.  Only this time, we both woke up around midnight and spent the next 12 hours passing each other on our way to the bathroom.

“Sick” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I cannot eloquently talk about “The Sick” so let’s just leave it at that, shall we?

When evening came, since we were planning to leave the next day, we called the hotel doctor.  He came to our room, pronounced us dehydrated and rode with us to the local hospital.

Yes, we went to a hospital in Mexico. No, neither of us speak Spanish.

Oh, wait. “Cervaza” is Spanish for “beer”, right? We had that one down.

At the hospital we were separated on opposite sides of the room, I could hear Craig, but not see him.  Blood was drawn, samples were taken, fluid was given and I think I presented my insurance card wondering how in the world the payment stuff was going to work.  Craig started to feel a little better, I did not.  The doctors started talking about keeping us in the hospital over night. Craig told them are flight left the next morning and we’d be leaving soon thankyouverymuch. The word “quarantine” was mentioned.

I sat up and decided it was time to feel better and stop running for the bathroom.  Maybe “quarantine” means something different in Mexico?

Sometime late that night, we got back to the hotel and slept a few hours.  When the alarm went off, I called the front desk to find out if we could, in fact, stay an extra day. The short answer was, “No, get the hell out.”  Two hours later, I was sipping ginger ale on an airplane bound for Baltimore, praying that I wouldn’t toss my cookies.  (I didn’t. Thank GOD!)

And that was how we ended our honeymoon.

Remind me someday to tell you about our trip to Punta Cana when we were dating.  The spoiler is that after sun posioning there and (suspected) food posioning in Mexico, I’ll be good if I never travel again.

He makes me a better parent

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Some nights, I say a lot of prayers. I count to ten in my head a lot. I bite my lip a lot.

Other times I lose my cool. I get frustrated quickly. I mutter things under my breath and snap out loud, saying things I wish I hadn’t said. I am relieved when the kids go to bed easily and without a fight.

And then sometimes, I take things as they come. I let the dishes pile up so I can build blocks or snuggle with the baby. I play hide and go seek. I hold them a little bit longer before putting them down for the night.

So many times, Craig will catch me in those moments, the good ones, and he’ll whisper, “you’re such a good mom.”

I’ll brush off the compliment; remembering the short temper, the meltdowns, the tears. The moments he doesn’t see as much.

Because when he’s here, I’m a better parent.

And yes, it’s partly because there’s another grown up in the house so it makes things easier. Man-to-man defense, if you will.  He can step in and distract the toddler when she wants to “help” put dinner in the oven.  He can hold the baby while I throw in a load of laundry or use the bathroom in peace.  And sometimes it’s just nice to have another adult in the room that I can raise my eyebrows at or shake my head with when Chessa loses her mind over which shoes she’s wearing.

But it’s more than that. It’s that with him here, I feel more grounded in the moment. I don’t take the little things so seriously or get as frazzled when things don’t go according to my mental plan.  With him here, I breathe a little slower, I snuggle a little longer.  I’m calmer. I pick my battles better.  I’m rational.

Sometimes I think he thinks that it’s always like this. That I’m always on the top of my parenting game. No matter how times I tell him of how Cole fought me when I tried to feed him before bed or how Chessa chose that exact moment to tell me she had to go to the potty, he still sees the situation handled, the kids sleeping, the wife calm (with the help of a glass of wine.)  He missed the clenched teeth, the annoyed tone and the fact that I fed the baby while sitting on the (closed) toilet talking to Chessa about “making a yellow.”

Or that when she finally did, I had to lay Cole down which meant that he screamed the entire time it took me to clean up the potty and the toddler.  And then when the baby was calm enough for me to lay him down, Chessa came running in his room yelling, Cole started crying again and I almost lost my damn mind.

He doesn’t see those. Not because I hide them. (I mean, here I am admitting it on the internet.)

But because when he’s here, I’m better.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m learning enough in those moments that he is here to cut myself a little break when he’s not.

There are many things he does for me.  But the one that I will be most grateful for is that he makes me a better mom.

Two minus one month

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Dear Chessa,

This is the last time I can (without appearing as an over-protective, doesn’t-want-her-child-to-grow-up mother) celebrate your birth on the 30th of a month that’s not September. Also, it means when people ask how old you are I have to start using years instead of months.

Because one month from today you will be two years old.

And every single day you look a little bit more like a little kid and a little bit less like a baby.

Both the physical changes and the emotional changes are subtle.  Mixed in with the legs that are getting longer and learning to jump are the longer conversations we have at dinner and your ability to remember absolutely everything.  Your hair reaches into ponytails and pigtails while you negotiate with me with over what you want to wear. (Apparently shirts that sport your daddy’s football team logo are only to be worn to football games and practice, silly me.) Your steps are fast and furious as you pull my arm out the door, excited to go to daycare.

You’re learning so many new things. New songs. New friends. New ways to get what you want.

Your long eyelashes shadow your eyes as you look up at me and ask for M&Ms.  When I tell you that M&Ms are only for when you use the potty, you blink a time or two and then try again…

“M&Ms, PWEEEAAASEE?  Okay! OK!OK!OK!OK!OK!”

(I guess it’s not surprising that M&Ms as a reward for using the potty isn’t working out so well.)

And since he’s been around for almost six months, I think you’ve found your groove at this big sister thing.  You know exactly how to make my heart burst by giving your brother a kiss for no explainable reason. You know how to stay justonthisside of trouble by stealing whatever toy he has in his hand and then quickly replacing it with a toy of your choice when you see my cocked chin and raised eyebrow.  And you know how to make me wish there were two of me when I’m feeding him and that is the exact moment you need to be read to, rocked or kissed.

When I take you to football practice to visit your daddy, after hugs and kisses hello, he looks at you and asks, “Forever and ever, Chessa?”

“F’EWHEH and EWHAH” you say back.

“That’s right. You’re daddy’s baby girl forever and ever.”

Maybe you’ll outgrow footie pajamas and maybe someday we’ll move into clothing with single digits and  “T” instead of months.  Maybe you’ll learn the words to the songs you sing and stop skipping the numbers 4 and 5 when you count to ten. Maybe someday you’ll be allowed to drink something other than water from a cup without a lid.

But you’re destined to be our baby girl, forever and ever.

We love you, sweet girl.