Tuesday, August 30, 2011

thanks monsters

Last night, for the first time in probably two and a half years, Mister A slept in our bed. Because there were monsters in his room. (The night before, he was up five times because his toe hurt. It's one catastrophe after another around here, I tell you.) The monsters woke him around 1:00am, and after an hour of the staircase shuffle, with exhausted frustration mounting each time we'd settle back into our bed only for the screams to start up again just as we drifted off, J and I forfeited. I stumbled up the stairs one last time, gathered my boy and his blankie in my arms, and brought him back down to our bed. Where he promptly fell into a deep sleep the second his head hit my pillow. I did not do the same. Not because of the pointy elbow in my side, though I'm sure that didn't help. It was more that, with him so close beside me and so uncharacteristically still, I was overcome with awe at how big he's grown. How this boy beside me was the same being as tiny newborn Anderson, bundled into a striped cap and tight nurse's swaddle and tucked right underneath my arm on his first night of life, feet barely reaching down to my hip, now sprawled out with his feet tucked somewhere past my knees. How this child who was now taking up a third of our king sized bed once fit, somehow, inside my belly. How half of his time at home with me, almost to the day, has passed. In the span of another nearly-three years, he'll be wearing a backpack and walking into a school, leaving his little days behind for good. And that will be okay, that's the whole point of why we're here, to grow big and change and go off and do .... but it's just so true, what they say. The days at home with children are often so long, but the years are going by faster than I ever could've known.

I suppose it's the nearing of September, the planning of a third birthday party, that has me waxing nostalgic about the days gone by. I don't know. But I do know, that for one night at least, I was grateful to the monsters for giving me an excuse to snuggle up with my Bug. To look him over and take him in. To be reminded, once more, that the little won't keep.

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.

Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,
Lullabye, rockabye, lullabye loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
And out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
But I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren't his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullabye, rockaby lullabye loo.

The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

- Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Sunday, August 28, 2011


The internet's a funny thing. It can take three sorority sisters who weren't especially close in college, and over a the years, through a series of eleventy bazillion emails spanning topics from pregnancies (the three of us had three kids in the span of exactly one month back in 2008) to Pottery Barn Kids purchases to the ins and outs of every reality show under the sun, give you something really remarkable. Like RHIGTG2011! That's Rhinelander Get Together, when Anne, Kim, and I finally got together face to face for the first time in many years. Just us, our husbands, 7.75 children, $400 worth of groceries, and a jumbo RV parked in our yard, classystyle. The girls pulled up on Thursday in SUVs jam-packed with coolers and blankies and snack cups, and we squealed and hugged and introduced babies out in the driveway, then went on like we'd just seen each other last week. And the kids?
Yeah, they had a pretty great time, too. They skipped naps and ate cookies and drank non-organic milk. Because we're CRAZY like that.

Backstory: our sorority was quite proud of our patented window pop-out recruitment routine. We ROCKED that pop out, but not without lots and lots of strenuous practice sessions, often starting as INSANELY early as 8:00am. (Being in a sorority is HARD WORK!) And so, at RHIGTG, the window pop out was reenacted. I'm happy to report our Alpha Phi window pop skills are still in fine form. Phew. Never know when that might come in handy.
Despite the apparent nakedness (and the Mikearitas), Kim and I are wearing clothes. And probably also smushing Anne's fetus.

So, thank goodness for the internet and emails and friendships that grow over the world wide web ... and in real life, too.

The internet also tells me it's 111 degrees in Austin right now (!!!!!!), there was a hurricane of some sort, and that I've got about 268 blogs to read up on. Better get to it. And then go to bed at 9pm. Because the elderly aren't meant to sit around a bonfire until 1:00am drinking wine. Makes 'em moody, I hear. Hopefully I recover in time for GTG2012.

Monday, August 22, 2011

he will totally pee in your car

"Never trust a (sorta) potty training almost-3 year old to wear underpants in your car. I don't care how many times he swears he won't pee in your car, he will TOTALLY pee in your car." -me, facebook, 8/22/11

We've taken the casual approach to potty training around here. For a few reasons. One is that I'm in the camp who believes starting too early will only prolong the process and I have no interest in prolonging any parenting process that requires me to spend half my day in the bathroom keeping one toddler out of the potty and the other one on it/bribe him into pooping/do more laundry than I already have to do. Two is that we had our hands full in recent months just getting the kid to SLEEPFORTHELOVEOFGOD, so I wasn't feeling like we should add another major transitional milestone to his plate (or ours). Three is that I know my Bug, I know he's smart and capable and he'll do it when he does it. No use pushing him on the matter. Not that we haven't encouraged him. We've had a potty available for a year now, a cool stack of Sesame Street underpants at his disposal in his dresser drawer, and we've cheered on (quite enthusiastically) any and all attempts to utilize these tools ... but we just weren't going to push it until he seemed truly ready.

Well, I'm thinking he's ready. He can get his pants on and off. He seems to prefer the potty over the diaper. He's asked the gym daycare teacher to help him use the bathroom the past two times he's been there. He'll get up after his nap, remove his diaper, and pull on his Elmopants (all underpants are Elmopants, so says A). And the past few days, he's done really well keeping those Elmopants dry. At home. We haven't let him out of the yard sans diaper just yet. Until this afternoon, when we went to go pick up J from work. I tried wrangling him into a diaper before we left, I really did. But he wanted his Elmopants on, and THAT WAS THAT. "Promise you won't pee in the car, A? Go one more time before we go. Now one more time. Promise no pee-pee in the car? PROMISE?" He was resolute. No pee-pee in the car.

So obviously, he peed in my car.

The end.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

iphone photo week in review: thirteen (california edition)

*Wondering about that first picture? It's Fernanda! RHOC Tamara's ladyfling Fernanda! Who, when we honked at her, was all smiley and flashed us a peace sign before jumping back in her Caddy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

five days

This week has been a blur. There were suitcases to be unpacked and that unwavering pile of laundry to deal with. A pantry crying out for replenishment. Details of Project Big Boy Room (more on that later) to be exacted. Vivi had her 18 month check up and is still rocking supermodel baby stats (95% height, 25-50% weight).
A fall photo session to schedule, a birthday party to plan, a DVR needing a good weed-out. There were cats pawing at my face all night because they wanted CAT food, not DOG food like they were served the last two days of my absence when their food ran out (nice try, J). Ames won my heart once more when he danced a little jig in his crimson pants and chose love over the BPad. There was a playdate on the books with friends we haven't seen enough of this summer. Where Anderson tore out of their driveway with his gal-pal Cassie. Both topless. Because they're "spirited" like that.
And all week long, as we ran this way and that way and then back home in the nick of naptime, I've carried with me this mindfulness and awe at how much two little kids can change in five days. I was gone five days, yall. And in those five days, it's like they each aged MONTHS. A's fitting into 3T pants and knows babies come out of tummies (?!?). V's combining words and putting on her own tutu and "reading" from upside down books. A's off the purple pop-popsicle train and now only orange pop-popsicles will do. They don't beg for the "airplane Barney one", they want the "shapes Barney one". Five days I was gone! It just goes to show you how fleeting this time really is. How, tiring and mentally demanding as the job may be, I'll soon look back on these little-little days and wish there was someone home to scrub a toilet with my toothbrush (maybe? sorta?) It's not that I regret missing these tiny transitions in the five days I was away. Au contraire! The trip was amazing and such trips will be repeated annually. Those days of rest gave me a much needed boost in patience to come home and deal with things like, oh, an almost-3 year old who learned the phrase "me do it myself" and uses that phrase ten times an hour. Minimum. The five days away gave me an appreciation for the breakneck speed at which things change when you're raising babies. The reminder that if I'm feeling in a rut today, tomorrow will bust us out of it into new places, new challenges, new needs and wants and routines. How I really need to take the time every day to just sit back and watch them be little, find joy in the newfound self-confidence of a boy learning to put his shoes on (the wrong feet), even if it means we're five minutes late for Zumba. To agree to the yellow pretty when the pink pretty is the only obvious match, because who am I to stifle her burgeoning sense of fashion? To relish today's early nap wake-up, because all my boy really wants is to snuggle up beside me playing PaintSparkles on the iPad beside me while I blog, and you know what? That's just as good as peace and quiet sometimes, anyway. (Once a week or so, max.)

Anyway. That's what's up. And now he's off PaintSparkles and somehow pulled up a rap video on YouTube, so bye.

PS: like Vivi's headband? Check out my friend Mandy's shop: Love Squirrels!

Monday, August 15, 2011


Though stuffing a suitcase (my belongings mysteriously multiplied in California, it seems) and clearing out is never the highlight of anyone's vacation, this morning as we clean up and pack up and prepare to board our midwestern bound planes, I feel more grateful than sad. Grateful for parents who encourage and make possible time away. Who graciously offer up their house and their car and their enthusiastic, loving child care. (If not their tequila*.) For husbands who say "go, do, have fun!" even if it means they're left home holding the kids and cleaning up after the pets and working the job and taming (hahahaha ignoring) the laundry mountain. For friends. Oh, how grateful I am for my good, good friends. For girls who encourage our talents, those hidden beneath the mommying and the careering and the practicalities of our everyday lives, who sift them out and point them out and passionately voice their belief that you've got what it takes to do that thing, take that risk. For girls who make me laugh harder every time we get together, even if we're retelling the same story we tell every time we're together. For girls who are around for the long haul, who I know without a doubt will continue to gather and laugh and encourage and story tell for years and years, that though one day we'll find ourselves more gray than golden, we'll gather still, swapping stories about our grandbabies and our arthritis meds and shaking our heads at how old we thought we were when we were 30.

I'm so grateful for this trip. I feel rested, reenergized, reminded that while long awaited vacations are fun, going home to love the pieces out of everyone that you left back there is the true joy of it all.

You've been grand, California. We'll see you next year.

*What's up with the tequila reference, you ask? Oh, just my dad being my dad. Geez. We raid** his liquor stash once (in college, mind you) and we're perps for life.
**and by raid I do mean decimate

Saturday, August 13, 2011

iphone photo week in review: twelve

love you, love squirrels shop. her happy place. lake boys. lake babies. her mother's daughter. going to the zoo zoo zoo. anderson portrait, feet. anderson portrait, mommy and uncle. snoop dog at 5am why not i'm on vaca. oc, baby.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


You know what? Packing for a trip for one grown up person is so easy it's almost like not doing anything at all. It's that easy. So easy that I can do it while watching Toddlers & Tiaras and also so easy that I don't even have a two page checklist! I also don't have 85 Ziplocs to contain baby medicine and applesauce and sippies full of milk that never fail to leak into the bottom of my bag, I don't have to take out a pair of shoes (or two) to make room for a second pack of diapers, and my carry on? It's SO LIGHT it's almost AIR. I can even take my laptop! And USE IT on the plane if I want to, because not like I have anything else (takeoff pressure change poo diaper changing, Valium popping, profuse sweating) to do! And my suitcase is pretty much all packed and there's still room in it, you guys. Enough room that I'd go buy myself more shoes to take along, just because I COULD, if only I had a Nordstrom at which to do such a crazy thing. Or hell, a DSW would do right about now. Alas, our shoe pickins are slim up here in the woods, and I don't want to take hiking boots or bright white elderly people tennies on my trip, so my husband and credit card can breathe a big sigh of relief and my suitcase will just be light, for a change. So light I won't be holding my breath and trying to tip the side of my jumbo-stuffed suitcase off the side of the scale at the airport in fear of busting over the 50 pound mark and being fined $1,500 and my (fictional) thirdborn child for my bag packing gluttony.

I'm leaving for California in the morning. Just me, my lightass suitcase, and three of my oldest, bestest friends. We're finally taking the girlfriend trip we started talking about taking when we were still sweet little innocent (HAHAHA!) college girls and had no idea the logistics that would go into taking such a trip as adults (child care, cha-chingy airplane tickets, work arrangements, etc etc etc). But we always said we would do it, and now we're doing it, and it's going to be fab. And I'm not going to Super Target, I swear! Just the sweet sweet frivolous mall. And the beach. And restaurants. Where I can have a drink or four and nobody's going to scream at me to cut their food into teeny tiny pieces FASTER, unless one of the girls has one too many drinks, in which case how funny would THAT be?!? I'll take pictures if it happens.

It goes without saying that by about day two, the little people will be missed like I'd miss an appendage, but I'm choosing not to focus on that. And hello, they're pretty cool with some uninterrupted Mommo/uncle/auntie/daddy time. And even if they do miss me a little (they will, right? They'll notice I'm gone?), it will be good for them to have mama come back a little more relaxed and so excited to see them that I'll squeeze them to teeny tiny toddler pieces. For days on end. Because I'm totally going to miss them. A lot. But that's why God made margaritas! AMEN AND HALLELUJAH AND SUCH!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

goats eat everything

We'd told Anderson last night that if he went to bed and slept reallllly well, we'd take him on a surprise trip in the morning. Well, that kid has a memory like a steel trap, so he woke up this morning shouting "Surprise! Surprise!" So despite the threatening rain clouds rolling overhead, off we went for this surprise outing. We spent the first portion of the drive asking Mister A to make guesses about what his surprise was. ("Ball? Walmart? Popsicle?" All wrong guesses, but gotta love the kid for dreaming big.) Instead, we pulled up to a zoo with bears and lions and zebras ..... but what really made the trip memorable was the goats. The many, apparently starving, goats.

They weren't kidding with this sign. (Ha! Get it? Kid? Hardy har.)

Goats be CRAZY, yall! They attempted to eat all of the following items: our stroller (fabric, straps, wheels, whatever), my camera strap, the diaper bag, a diaper, a sippy cup, my jeans, Vivi's bracelet (which broke), Vivi's hair (and by hair I do mean scalp), Anderson's shoe, and my sunglasses. As well as anything else they could reach. Which was everything, because goats are ninjas. I didn't even have food in the stroller, I swear.

Then one got INTO the stroller.

Which Anderson thought was about the funniest thing that ever happened in his life, until later when a kangaroo took a sip from his sippy cup. For real.

The baby bunnies were more Vivi's style.

Just guessing, but I think if my kids had to make a list of their favorite things, 'taking pictures with mommy' would come in around #879. And that's probably an optimistic estimate.

Friday, August 5, 2011

iphone photo week in review: ten and eleven

haven't mentioned the pretties lately. or the sperry love. mimi playtime. papaw playtime. my bestie of late. tree down at the cabin. why you don't want to be our waiter. walking with daddy. even lifejackets need accessorizing. labs too. picnic kids.

oh hi another pretty. sisters. jam sesh. bug eyes. that's his baby alice. someone wanted in on the pretties attention.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Last night, we left the kids with a sitter and went out to dinner. The kids are getting to be pros at the babysitter thing (yay for grown up dinners where I actually get to, like, EAT!) and all went very well at home. Other than a quick call from the babysitter to me, where she put Anderson on speaker phone so I could translate what it was he was trying to tell her he needed before he could go to sleep (Anderson saying "udder bwankie" sounds to babysitter like "water binky" sounds to mama like "other blankie, I will not go to sleep unless I have BOTH of my blankies, how many times do I have to TELL YOU THIS BABYSITTER GIRL?!") And then. Later, when I'm driving the sitter home, she casually mentions that Vivian was good as gold, as usual. Except when said sitter tried to remove V's tutu for bedtime. Apparently there was a struggle, and V was victorious. So, the sitter said, that's why she's sleeping in a tutu.

I got home, snuck into her room, and sure enough. My girl, asleep like this:
Oh, Vivi. That can't even be comfy, but I guess she knows that sometimes, a girl has to hurt for fashion. She's even got the drama queen pose down. Fabulousity, that Miss V.

(For the record, I took it off. I was torn about whether to, but the yards of elastic and tulle and their stretchy chokeworthy qualities finally convinced me to yank it off of her. DIVA WAS NOT IMPRESSED, for the record.)

Monday, August 1, 2011


Those three have my heart. I love being their mommy. I love being his wife. I love this place we're in, even if it's sometimes a tired place where the laundry pile never fully disappears .... there's nothing I'd rather be doing, nowhere I'd rather be than right here at home with this little family. We're in a happy place. There's this soul deep feeling that we're exactly where we're supposed to be, doing just what we should be doing. That we've found a balance that's allowing us all to thrive, that closing our eyes and taking a cross-country, city-to-country, TexMex-to-cheese-curd leap of faith was precisely what we needed to do to get to this happy place. That we don't know where we'll be five or ten years from now, but there's no yearning for someplace or something else, no urgent itch for some other kind of life, because this one fits quite right. And there are evenings like the one above, that start out as killing time in a touristy restaurant while the power is out at home, and end up with the four of us out past bed time, strolling hand in hand down the sidewalk pretending to be tourists ourselves, smiling and waving at passerby, littles giggling uncontrollably as their feet swing up and off the ground .... and me feeling like there's just no way life gets better than this.

It may not be the fanciest family portrait we've ever taken, but it's so real. It's happy. Leaky sippy cup, ketchup spotted shirt, and all.