Monday, December 23, 2013

A Not-So Picture Perfect Christmas

Every year when the holidays arrive we are immersed into a month of all things jolly. There’s the music, the movies, the decorations, the parties, the cards, the eggnog, the cookies, the cookies oh and the cookies! Out of all the things that let us know that yes it is almost time for the big fat jolly guy in the red suit to arrive; there is one that is by far my all -time favorite…the infamous Santa picture.  

Every year come December parents from near and far can be found breaking out into a sweat getting their cute little Johnny into his perfect little holiday outfit with a matching cap, or hoping and praying that little Sally doesn’t spit up all over her perfect little dress before they get to the front of the 5 ½ mile line at the mall.  We can be found bribing our kids to get along while we wait because “Santa is watching” for Pete’s sake HE’S RIGHT THERE! PLEASE STOP FIGHTING!!!  We spend more time prepping our children for these pictures than we spend prepping ourselves all week long. (Okay maybe that’s just me.)

After all the preparation and waiting on a never ending line many of these pictures don’t go the way we planned in our minds.  I will never forget when my now 5 year old was 17 months. I picked out a cute little outfit and dragged my husband with me for the Santa picture because I was determined to use it for our card that year. The picture I had in my head was my 17 month old sitting on Santa’s lap with a perfect little smile even if it meant me jumping up and down behind the camera trying to get him to laugh all while my husband just rolled his eyes at my insanity.  I was fine with that.

The only thing that went as planned was parking the car and walking into the building.  The rest went something like this:

Is that Santa?! This is awesome!


Okay so we are going to go over to the other side of this fence at some point? Hmm. Not sure about that.

Now please want ME to sit on HIS lap? And why is the girl behind me crying?

No seriously WHO IS THIS GUY?!!

Mom you look like an idiot stop jumping up and down and sticking your tongue out!

This is as good as it's going to get Mom & Dad. Let's go! End scene.

And so we left. Don't worry we treated the poor kid to an ice cream sundae afterwards and trust me he was smiling from ear to ear. I remember saying to my husband, well so much for a Santa picture for our card. He laughed and agreed that it hadn't gone the way we thought it would. Later that night we got home and as I looked over the pictures I couldn't help but start laughing. I decided to use the pictures for our card anyway and people absolutely loved it. I mean let's face it the holidays can get stressful, with all the shopping, the crazy family, and the running around it's hard sometimes to just sit back and smile. These pictures made us do just that. I know one day I will show them to my son and he will laugh. It's kind of like a childhood rite of passage. Every kid has to have some ridiculous picture with Santa for their photo book.  Clearly we can check that off the list.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Motherhood: A Day In The Life

It's Motherhood Monday. Today Jeanette of Mommy Needs A Martini is giving us a little glimpse into her daily (crazy) life. Jeanette is a full time mother of two and works outside the home. She coaches girls youth softball, is active in her church and enjoys spending time with her family. In her free time, Jeanette blogs about her adventures in motherhood and wonderfully hilarious crafting attempts (and fails) at Mommy Needs A Martini . You can also follow Jeannette on Facebook , or on Twitter and of course on Pinterest. I happen to know that Jeannette has an awesome relationship with her dad (and he's pretty damn funny) See here.

I’m three and a half years into this gig called Motherhood. In that time, I have learned that I have so much more to learn, but I’ve also learned that my patience and compassion levels have increased tenfold compared to pre-baby me. There are many times during our hectic days that I want nothing more than to curl up in a ball and hide in a closet. But there are many more times when I can’t get enough of the laughing and loving and memories being made.


A typical day in our house starts before the sun is up. You know what? I’ll just break it down for you:


530am – I wake up, rush to get ready, sometimes forgetting deodorant just so I can pee alone before the kids wake up.
545am – 3yo wakes up, usually singing loud for all to hear and waking everyone within 3 blocks of our house.
6am-630am – 3yo is dressed, hair done, baby doll dressed, some unknown crisis is dealt with and/or avoided, a new favorite cartoon is discovered, her shoes don’t match, her skirt isn’t princess-y enough and her hair is too tight. I eventually am able to divert with a snack while I wake up the 1yo.
630am-645am – 1yo is dressed, hair brushed, shoes on and she’s giggling. This is my brief moment of clarity for the day.
645am-700am – Daycare/Preschool drop-off. Hugs, kisses, tears, more hugs, being introduced to friends for the eleventy thousandth time, more kisses, waves through the window, promises are made to return with more hugs, teacher diversion successful, I exit stage left.
700am-730am – I drive to work in complete silence. Instead of crawling into a closet
730am-400pm – Work. Sometimes mind numbing, sometimes exciting. Mostly just work. And a paycheck.
415pm-445pm – I drive to daycare with the music at 11 and sing like a loon.
445pm-515pm – Daycare pick up. There is crying, some screaming, a lot of No’s being thrown around, a trip to the potty, a sudden switch to adorable as art work is proudly displayed, hugs and goodbyes to all the friends, a quick turn to Tantrum Town because, why not. Tears ensue over jacket requirements, or opening the door too quickly, or not walking slow enough or just because they feel like it.
515pm-6pm – I make a feeble attempt to wind the kids down, try to keep them engaged but not stimulated, sing songs and tell stories, they have afternoon snack while I make dinner, I feed the dogs, clean up from the morning rush, prepare for bath and bedtime, make lunches for the next day, try to accomplish some sort of cleaning (laundry, sweeping, dishes). All the while still singing so they don’t notice me searching for the nearest corner to hide.
6pm-630pm – We’re back in Tantrum Town.
630pm-7pm – Both kids have finally eaten dinner and are usually whining to be held, at the same time. Or they’re pooping, at the same time.
715pm -730pm – Mommy’s back. Daddy needs a break. No, I’m not kidding.
730pm-8pm – Bath and clean-up time.
8pm-930pm – The longest, most ridiculously painstaking bedtime routine in the history of all the lands takes place.
930pm-1015pm – Time to wash dishes (again), clean up toys (again), lay out clothes for the next day, prep dinner for the next day, make a list for tomorrow of things I forgot to do today. Sometimes I cry from exhaustion or frustration and let the running sink drown it out. Sometimes I giggle out loud and make my husband question my sanity.
1015pm-11pm – I fight to keep my eyes open so I can enjoy mindless social media time while watching mindless television.
11pm – I crash. HARD.

(Some, ok MOST, nights…)

2am – The 1yo is awake.

330am – The 3yo is awake.

4am – They’re both back to sleep.

530am – My alarm goes off. AGAIN.


After the tantrums and the whining and the begging and the pleading and after the praying for bedtime and hoping they sleep all night, I truly am amazed by how big my heart grew when my two little girls came into this world. Even if it’s a simple giggle or a tight hug around my leg or that last “I love you” of the day, it’s all worth it. Motherhood has been one (mis)adventure after another and I can’t wait for more.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ten Things I Learned During a Snowstorm

It’s December and I live in the Northeast so snow doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me from now until let’s say the end of March.  We had our first decent storm earlier this week and they are predicting another one coming in this weekend. No surprise after all it's not July. When the storm hit earlier in the week it was expected. We were told for days before that snow was coming.  I woke up that morning, made my coffee and turned on the news.  All I could think was am I the only one who heard snow was in the forecast?  Even the news anchors were acting like it was breaking news that white snowflakes were in fact dropping from the sky.  School was cancelled and here are ten things I learned about people during a snowstorm that day.

1.       No one has a snow shovel.  Seriously no one has one. So everyone rushes to the nearest Home Depot and everyone buys at least 5 causing them to run out within mere minutes.

2.       The media thinks it is news that no one has a shovel so they interview every Tom, Dick & Sally who are in the parking lot leaving with their five shovels.  Oh and there is always some idiot in the background on his cell phone waving to his friends.  “No I didn’t get my shovel they were all gone but can you see me bro? Yeah that’s me!”

3.       Every household in the eye of the storm is out of milk, bread and eggs. The grocery stores are packed with people buying all three of these items.  I can only assume that there is some secret ritual of making French toast for your entire neighborhood during a snow storm and no one has shared this with me.

4.       Facebook is filled with status updates about the snow.  Sally: OMG it’s totally snowing you guys.  Tom: Crap it’s flipping snowing the ride into work should be a real pain in the ass. Jessie: Yay snow! Linda: I’m nice and cozy in my house and getting ready to make French toast.  John: No one knows how to drive in the snow. This sucks! Cousin Jimmy: Snow DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s a whole day filled with status updates that revolve solely around the snow.

5.       After all the status updates come the pictures. (I’m guilty of this myself) Kids in the snow, dogs in the snow, Grandma in the snow, rulers on the deck in the snow, and of course just the snow with the caption “beautiful” or “It’s really coming down now."   


6.       Kids all want to play in the snow and I relearned that it takes approximately 6 hours 10 minutes and 43 seconds to get them and you dressed properly to go play.

7.       Kids get out into the snow and complain within mere minutes that they have to pee and they are cold.

8.       Parents scream OH NO! We are staying out here if it kills us. I am literally sweating from trying to get you guys dressed so you are going to play and have fun while you do it.

9.       Kids think playing means make giant snowballs and throw them in one another’s face which will result in crying and actually heading inside.

10.   It takes another 6 hours and 15 minutes to undress from playing in the snow and suddenly you realize maybe all those people buying shovels are doing it to avoid this fiasco.

Well more snow is on the way and I’m pretty sure we are out of shovels, eggs, milk, and bread so I think I will volunteer to get those this time and my husband can get the kids ready to go out and play.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Motherhood Monday-The Trouble With Three

My guest blogger for today's Motherhood Monday is Sharon Marie of Finding Vanilla Octopus. It's funny how fitting this post is for me today. I currently have two boys but I've been thinking a lot lately about adding a third. Sharon had me laughing and definitely gave me a lot to think about. Three kids is no joke! (Wait or is it?) I think she wraps this post up beautifully and I have to agree the ride might be crazy but the company is fabulous. Sharon is a stay-at-home mom and referee to three babies, all under the age of three. She tries to cram in blogging time as best she can in the midst of the chaos, for love of writing and the opportunity to share her amateur photography attempts.  You can learn more about Sharon on Facebook, Twitter and of course over on her blog, Finding Vanilla Octopus.

Over the years, I've run across the Jim Gaffigan bit about having four children in various forms:

"If you want to know what it's like to have a fourth [baby] just imagine you're drowning... and then someone hands you a baby."

The first time I heard it, being a mother of one, I chuckled. By the second time, I was a mother of two (under two) and I still chuckled, but I also started to really understand.

Now, I'm clocking in at three and I get it. I get it every day. I may only have three to Jim's four, (and in no way can I imagine four right now) but there's a palpable dynamic that changes when the children suddenly outnumber the parents.

In my situation, add to that the fact that my third came on the tails of my second, so I can now boast a crew of not just three children, but three babies- essentially- all under the age of three. As a result, I often wonder if many of my struggles are unique to my particular situation. I can't speak for the experience of wider-spaced siblings, as I only know what I've lived.

I can attest that there are some pretty hefty challenges that come with the territory.

  1. I can't get dressed until I've dressed three people before me. My oldest can pull on a shirt and pants by herself, but still needs assistance with style-planning, amongst other things. Ditto for mealtimes and bedtime.   
  2. Diaper changes are a multi-occasion, multi-person daily event (especially when your     oldest, who's technically old enough to train, remains too defiant to actually do so).   
  3. Somebody is always teething (often, two at once).
  4. It's impossible to line up everyone's nap times, and subsequently- impossible to plan around them if we go out anywhere.
  5. Varying sizes are a concern when the play gets a little rough.
  6. I'm locked in a continuous, rotating cycle of transitions to independence.
  7. It's impossible to explain the logic behind age-appropriate discipline tactics to a toddler.    

Those last two points are perhaps the most difficult to cope with at times. It's hard to fully rejoice in the fact that my oldest can now be left alone in a safe room for a couple of minutes at a time when my middle child has attained a dynamic mix of height, curiosity, and mischief-making capability at the same time. When the littlest one needs to be removed from the room for a nap, knowing that the biggest one will be okay for the five to ten minutes it will take me to put the baby down doesn't stop me needing to make other plans for the middle.

Then, there are the similarly-themed mealtime challenges. My life should be so much simpler now that Middle child can fully feed himself, and even (mostly) handle utensils. However, now the baby is old enough for solids, so I'm finding that I've got a new hand waiting for me to take hold of as I try to manage a decent meal for myself. On top of that, Middle's got a talent for coming up with new and fascinating ways to half-consume, half-play with food, which my oldest is still young enough to find amusing and inspiring. It's tough to get her to stop the antics, however, when her younger sibling is not yet old enough to be consistently discouraged effectively.

Bad habits get passed back and forth like stubborn viruses on a regular basis around here.

However, the chaos is not without great beauty. I could never trade the bonds I see being formed between my near-triplet cherubs for a more sanity-saving attempt at age-spacing; could never possibly replicate the joy I see my children bring to each other on a daily basis, whom they will never remember being without; could never imagine any of them being any different, or their relationships to each other being any different, than they are right now.

One day, when I'm on the other side of all of the crazy, I will realize this more fully, appreciate it far more gracefully. For now, I simply cling to the abstract notion of it as I desperately hang on for the ride.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Parenting Through All Ages

It's Motherhood Monday. Today Jessica of  The Domestic Pirate joins us with the reality of raising kids of all ages. It's not always easy to parent kids in multiple stages but it's part of motherhood and Jessica is in the thick of it.

Jessica is The Domestic Pirate, Renn Faire Privateer Gone Mom.  She started blogging in 2011 as an outlet for Post Partum Depression, but came back into her spazzy, wenchy Pirate self upon the epiphany that she didn't need to mold herself after anyone else.  She posts about whatever tickles her fancy though empowerment and acceptance are where she feels she really hits her stride.  She is wife to the Captain, mom to the 4 Cabin Kids, and is convinced that the dough is always better than the cookie.  Aside from her blog, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.


Now that we have a newborn again, my focus has been on making the house baby friendly.  Mostly, that means getting rid of/avoiding things that aren't safe for baby or could potentially be too loud or disruptive.

But there's an inherent problem with that...

I have more than just a baby.

I have a 2 year old boy that copies everything his 4 year old brother does.

I have a 4 year old boy that likes making loud, wet shooting noises and crashing cars into everything.

I have a 7 year old girl that's getting into beads and likes toys with tiny pieces.

The 2 year old doesn't understand how to be quiet.

The 4 year old understands, but doesn't have to capacity to remain quiet.

The 7 year old just won't be quiet.

2 year old needs attention and help with everything.

4 year old is mostly self-entertaining, but still needs help with a few things.

7 year old can take care of herself, but insists on faking that she can't.

I have to admit, my favorite stage is the baby stage.  Once they hit 2 and want to communicate but don't have the capacity yet, I start getting frustrated.  Once they hit 4 and start forming their own opinions and voicing them, I start getting annoyed.  Once they hit 7, apparently, they become know-it-alls and I can't freaking stand them.  And I'm dealing with it all at once.  Of course I love them all, and most of the time they really aren't bad, but we all know there are days when you just wish a circus would come through and trade you a monkey for them.

So, how do we proceed?

I need to relearn parenting.  I've been so focused on remembering the baby stuff, that I'm forgetting how important these other ages are.

I need to remember that watching a 2 year old get excited about learning something new is amazing.

I need to remember that helping a 4 year old learn how to get dressed on his own is building a foundation of self-confidence he'll need later in life.

I need to remember how hard it was to be 7, watching your younger siblings consistently get more attention than you, and embrace the growing girl child as she is, for her self-esteem depends on it.

It's time for me to stop running my house to accommodate the needs of an infant and start functioning as a parent of multiple ages.


But I will never stop insisting that they let me snuggle them like the babies they will always be in my heart.