Mother’s Tea, Round Two

Piper had her Mother’s Tea last Friday, a few days after Ellie. It’s quite a different format in the toddler classroom than the primary classroom. The kids helped the teachers make cookies with jam in them and they squeezed the lemons for the lemon tea. We sat on their tiny little stools and had tea with them, played outside in the water trough, did some work and then did circle time. The kids made us these adorable keychains with their pictures in them, which I hung in my car.

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The kids do this little dance individually after circle time before they go outside:

Mommy for a Week

My friend Amber did a brave thing last week. She decided to care for her sister’s THREE kids for a week. “How hard could it be?” she may have thought. I’m not sure what her expectations were, but she posted her daily thoughts through this experience to her Facebook page. I had to share, as I related immensely and laughed a ton. I figured it was worth publicizing through my tiny little blog for the whole world to read.

This is lengthy, but GOOD stuff. Please note I have copied and pasted verbatim!

Post One:

Going to see the family and take care of Aprils kiddos for a week while her and Brandon take a much needed vacation. A week as “mom” will be the perfect way to gain some perspective or lose my mind. Prayers please.

traveling to Detroit, Michigan from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac).

Day One 12/3:

Day one. Was warned Chase likes to pull his diaper down and pee on things. Didn’t believe it until u saw it. Peed on his bed at naptime. Got sheets in washer. Put sheets on bed for bedtime and he peed on himself and bed right after a bath. While stripping bed got a scream from Bowen, “Aunt Amber I need help”. He didn’t quite make it to the potty in time. As Bowen stood in a Pool of pee and poop and looked up at me helplessly I realized the true joys of being a parent. OMG.

Day Two 12/4:

Day Two. First trip out of the house to go to the YMCA so Bowen can go to preschool and Chase plays in the kid zone. This means 2 HOURS of workout and work time. I literally started preparing at 7 am to be able to leave at 9:15. At 9:10 am, we are all bundled up, boots on, coats on and back pack packed…Bowen has to pee. But he likes to pee with ALL OF HIS CLOTHES off. So back pack off, coat off, boots off, pants off…and then pants on, boats on, coat on and back pack. And we are off! As I walked in with two back packs (theirs and mind) and Chase drooling and Bowen yelling, a mom was sitting there with her well-behaved little boy and I looked at her and said, “I’m the aunt with no kids watching my sister’s kids for a week.”. This woman started laughing HYSTERICALLY AT ME (not with me) and the teacher who was also standing there joined in. I have another shot at it next Monday…by that time I will be a pro. This is so humbling.

Then later:

Thanks for all the support peeps! This experience is like a personal development seminar I would pay $6000 to attend to get my butt kicked…but this experience was all for the price of a plane ticket home. I have to say that I definitely had a soul moment when I was working in the lobby at the YMCA and Bowen’s class walked by, he whispered, “Aunt Amber” and smiled and waived at me as he walked by. HEART MELTED. Then I went to pick Chase up and he ran with his arms open to me. WOW, I AM TEMPTED TO HAVE ONE OF THESE was went through my head…briefly. That was awesome. Then the boys and I drew and colored for an hour…I haven’t drawn with crayons (for an hour) in probably 25 years, and then dance and tickle party that turned into spinning the kiddos around (what a workout and it’s so hilarious to watch them stumble around, is that okay to say?), then I had dinner started and April called. I was so stoked, the kids were SO HAPPY and I was rocking it out. They were all talking to April upstairs and then I hear a scream. Arleena runs downstairs and is crying hysterically. She says Bowen hit her. I tell April I got it handled and hang up. Arleena proceeds to write a note on her door that says, “I am not coming out until Mom and Dad comes home”. As Bowen was running away from me, I used the ole “You have THREE SECONDS to GET OVER HERE…1…2…Holy crap it worked. That was cool. No reading of the books was his punishment and he had to look his sister in the eye and apologize…that took a few tries. Chase had me read the SAME FREAKIN book at least 17 times today. I think I am going to hide it tomorrow. Is that cruel? All you parents out there BLESS YOUR HEARTS. I believe I won’t be able to walk by a mom or dad with two young kids and not hug them after this…

Day Three 12/5:

So when do moms eat, put on mascara, go to the bathroom or take a shower? I realized that I had given Chase most of my breakfast because he was hungry and when I got a snack he wanted that too. Tried to go upstairs to brush teeth and as soon as I got the tooth brush in my mouth and I hear a door slam and a cry. Bowen has locked his brother downstairs. Perhaps leaving a 4 year old in charge of a 1 year old isn’t a good idea. BTW I still have to pee, am wearing the same clothes two days straight and got a glimpse in a mirror…I’m officially a hot mom mess.

Then later:

Kids -1, Aunt Amber 0. There is no other way to say it except that I got my ass kicked today. I am still in awe on how little Chase can have so much and so absolutely horrifying stank in his diaper. I don’t get it. It’s cruel. And then I made the mistake of keeping the poop diaper open so I could put the dirty wipes in there and the toy Chase was playing with magnetically landed in the poop and then as I am grabbing the toy and wiping that off, his foot lands in it. Awesome. I also don’t understand why everyone will be playing NICE and then the MOMENT I step out…just for a second, all hell breaks loose? Seriously? There was tears, punches, pulled hair, screams and even blood today. I thought Chase busted tooth on Arleena’s head, but I wiggled it and thankfully it’s still in there good. Bright side is it’s his baby teeth, so we were okay if there was a casualty (at least that is what I was telling myself as I ran to the scene of the crime). At 3:30 and I was planning my trip to the grocery store for wine. I don’t know what April and I were thinking that 1 bottle was going to last 7 days… Arleena walked in the door from school and I took the 1 1/2 year old with me while Arleena watched Bowen. I walked in with my snow boots and yoga pants and shirt I have worn now for 3 days and put that kid in the cart. I bee-lined straight for the wine without making any eye contact with anyone. I picked up my two bottles of wine and placed them in the ginormous cart and rolled up to the check out. Got carded…and successfully made it out of the store with a happy Chase and happy Aunt Amber. I then proceed to try to put Chase in his carseat and he decides that is the last thing he wants to do and he tightens up his body like a stiff board and screams bloody murder. I tried to calm him down but then had to man handle him to get him strapped in and he screamed all the way home. Was it worth it for just 2 bottles of wine? Hell yes it was worth it. Then, I spent an hour cooking a delicious meal only to have the kids look at me like I am crazy because I didn’t realize in the Willer house, the tomatoes in the sauce have to be pureed to a thin consistency and Bowen doesn’t like his food to touch and I had put black beans, chicken and tomato sauce together. I did the 10 bite minimum trick and through sad puppy eyes they obliged but later I would feed them popcorn because I felt bad I had overlooked those details. I am whooped….Chase and I were playing downstairs and I laid on the couch and closed my eyes, he came up to me and said, “Aunt Amber, what’ wrong?”….Oh buddy, nothing’s wrong, Aunt Amber is just tired. I work 12 -14 hours a day as CEO of The Healthy Edge…I don’t have a problem with energy or getting shiz done, but managing 3 independent people who have their own needs, thoughts and ideas about how things should roll is cray cray. Again, I am so humbled. On a bright note, I did get a kiss from Chase and Bowen accidentally called me mom…Although it was a long day (these are just a couple of the details), I am ready to rock this out tomorrow and continue to be present, patient, fun and flexible! Prayers please!

Day Four 12/6:

Day four last night i was up at midnight, 2:45, 4:30 and 6:15. It’s amazing how quickly the adrenaline surges through your body when u hear a scream or cry. And then how do u go right back to bed after that? I thought the wine was suppose to help that. I felt like I needed to take a run or power clean. So I freaked myself out today when Bowen yells: Aunt Amber there is poop on the carpet!! Aunt amber: WHAT??? Show me buddy! Bowen: Right there! Aunt Amber: what should I do Bowen? Bowen: Smell it! Without missing a beat, I reach down, touch it and yes, smelled it. I have officially lost my mind. Just so everyone knows it wasn’t poop. I am also reconsidering wanting boys after watching Chase pull his thing out and marking his territory by peeing on things and then Chase trying to grab Bowens thing when he pees and thinking it is the funniest thing ever…he seriously fell down he was laughing so hard. And Chase running around trying to put his thing on his sister. There was a bit too much testosterone flying around. I wasn’t sure how to stop the madness without putting them in therapy later in life because Aunt Amber wouldn’t let them explore their body and express themselves. I think I may need therapy after this. And what do u do when a 1 year old only says no and u want to tell them to stop saying no. It sounds ridiculous. Chase: NO aunt Amber! No! Aunt Amber: Chase, we don’t say no. You should see the look he gave me, like, really? Off to another day in the trenches.

Then later:

Nap time today means Shower time for Aunt Amber. I LOVE showers because you get to relax and some of my best business ideas come to me in the shower. WITH KIDS…not so much. I felt like a freaking Indy 500 pit stop. I was washing my hair as fast as I could because I thought I heard crying. There is no way I would ever have shaved my legs…Brian is going to be surprised about that when I get home…but I don’t care…seriously. I haven’t showered that fast since our hot water heater broke. Then I get out of the shower and run to the hallway to check if I hear little cries…yoga pants back on, hair half brushed, I did manage some mascara and lip gloss and a NEW CLEAN SHIRT! All is still quiet…going back to brush the rest of my hair…maybe even some blush today! YEAH ME! ‪#‎awesomeauntamber‬

Then later:

Final share and insight of the day. If I could have it my way (as in the words of Burger King), I think I would prefer to pick up my kid at 4 years old and skip the 0-3 year old stage. Chase gave me a run for my money today. I literally felt like I had an eye on him EVERY second (because I am new at this and I don’t want to break someone else’s kids) yet he managed to run the dishwater 3 times today, made some butt soup in his diaper 3 times and one time it was so bad that when I came in the room after an hour it still smelled so freakin rank that I got on my hands and knees and started searching for poop. I was literally sniffing blankets, sheets, clothes and for residual poop,. He put (I don’t know how many before I caught him) puzzle pieces in the vent, managed to find a large spoon that he proceeded to hit his brother with and then run away from me for at least two loops around the house (little shit is fast), he shoved a 1/2 banana in his mouth all at the same time and wouldn’t spit any of it out so I had to just watch and say “CHEW CHASE” and pray he wouldn’t choke and then he took two handfuls of food and shoved both of them in his mouth at dinner and again refused to open his mouth…he thought that was hilarious and let out a belly laugh through his pursed lips that spit the food all over me. At that point all I could do was laugh uncontrollably because I seriously cannot make this shiz up. Chase also graced me with another glorious act of peeing all of his shirt and bed during nap time which I didn’t discover until I picked him up and put him up against my CLEAN CLOTHES and SHOWERED SELF. And to cap the day off he peed in the bathtub and then dumped water on his newly washed hair. Day 4 I survived but not thrived. On a positive note…I was ON IT THIS MORNING and made a green smoothie BEFORE the kids breakfast and allowed them to push the buttons and turn the dial on the vitamix. They thought it was great and Auntie Amber got some needed fuel…and got a mega mom workout with the kiddos and 3 healthy meals with snacks…so yeah me. ‪#‎awesomeauntieamber‬

Day Five 12/7:

Day Five….actually begins with Day Four. Watching Ohio State DOMINANT and I hear the little patter of feet. I don’t know if it was the glass of wine or sugar coma from the 3 cookies I ate, but when Bowen meekly walked in and with tears in his eyes said, “Aunt Amber, I’m scared,” I was putty in his hands. I understand now why some kids sleep with their parents. I put him on the couch with me and told him as long as he was quiet he could watch the game with me. I got the room nice and dim and thought for sure he would be out like a light. Not that easy. An hour later we are chatting back and forth…the kid is funny and I think I was lonely So I take him upstairs and SOMEHOW he talks me into staying in the bed with him until he falls asleep. So at 12:30 I wake up with his armpit in my face and I am seriously like, “where am I?”. On my way to my room, I peek into Arleena’s room and that little stinker is on my iPad watching movies, “But Aunt Amber, you didn’t tell me I could only watch ONE movie.” Rookie mistake. As my head hits the pillow I am EXHAUSTED and not five minutes later little man, Chase lets out a scream…I am freakin out because I don’t want Bowen to wake up and I open the door and as I walked to the crib I stub my toe on a stupid wooden book. I bend over and cuss in my head and take a deep breath and pick up Chase. It’s dark and I can’t see him, but as I am trying to rock him he is so upset that he is holding his breath and for a second I think this kid might pass out. Then what do I do? Smack him around? Nobody told me I need smelling salts for this job. He finally calms down and we repeat this at 1:00, 2:00, 4:00 and at 6:56 he starts in again and I seriously thought it was just a nightmare…there is no way this kids is ready to get up… But he is…and I realize that he doesn’t care that I’m not…I took the challenge to take all 3 kids to church. Another observation of stupidest invention ever: button up dress shirts for toddlers. I got suckered in…looked so cute on the hanger. He was not happy about the buttons and when I did get it buttoned up, I was one off. At this point, I am committed and after 10 minutes we successfully have the shirt on. I decide after what Chase put me through I need to do something to make him cute to me again so I use some of my hair gel and shape a cool little mohawk (adorable) and we are off. Two hour break from the kiddos and worship to the Lord for many things, but mainly a two hour break from the kiddos. I went to pick up Chase in the kids room and it had a stupid childproof fence on the door. I seriously tried to open it and it wouldn’t open…there were four adults standing around inside talking and I had to interrupt them and ask them to help me. Oh, it gets worse. I pick Chase up and they have shut the freaking door so I have to ASK AGAIN (because I didn’t pay attention the first time) for someone to please open up the kids gate…so humbling. As I walked out of church, I’m hungry and tired, I open the door and go to put Chase into the car and Arleena says, “Aunt Amber, that’s not our car”. WHAT? I had opened up someone else’s car. I quickly tried to close it but it’s a stupid automatic door (what is the freakin point of those…it takes so long to shut…I was just praying it would shut already so no one would see.) The REALLY bad thing? It wasn’t even the same color as our car…we laughed all the way home and Arleena couldn’t wait to tell mom and dad. So I think they got an idea of where I am at after day five.

Day Six 12/8:

Oh praise the Lord, the kiddos SLEPT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE NIGHT! Chase from 7:45 – 7:00 am and Bowen from 9:00 – 8:00! Arleena had a nightmare and ended up in my bed, and besides the four times I woke myself up hallucinating that I heard cries, I got a FULL NIGHT SLEEP! I am READY READY READY TO GO! YEAH KIDDOS!

Then later:

This conversation is only okay in the right context: Bowen: “Aunt Amber, I NEED your help to go potty!” Aunt Amber: “Bowen, you are a big boy and I know that you can go potty by yourself.” Bowen: But Aunt Amber, I want you to take my pants off for me.” Aunt Amber: “Bowen, Aunt Amber is not going to take your pants off for you, but I will watch you, do we have a deal?” Bowen: “Deal!” OMGoodness…what has happened to my life?

Then later:

I thought I was going CRAZY. I change Chase’s diaper in the living room. Usual stuff, nothing exciting and about five minute later he says, OUCH…OOOUCH….OOOOOUCH…and points to his butt. Aunt Amber: “Buddy, what’s wrong?” Chase sticks his finger in the side of his diaper and says, “OUCHIE!”. I pull his diaper to the side and check for a rash or a bite or something and there is nothing. I pick him up and talk to him and after a few seconds he wants down and runs off and plays. About 5 minutes later I hear him in the other room crying and saying, OUCHIE! He runs to my legs and he just keeps repeating OUCHIE, OUCHIE, OOOOOUCHIE. I pull his diaper over again and give another examination and see nothing. I pick him up, talk to him and then he wants down and runs off to play. So after 30 minutes of this back and forth, I am thinking this kid is playing me as a fool. He has to be doing this for attention. I am cooking dinner and not able to fully engage, so he is MAKING ME pay attention to him. So I have a good heart to heart with my sweet 1 1/2 year old nephew, “Chase, Aunt Amber has to cook and I think you are being a faker. The world doesn’t like fakers kiddos. I need you to suck it up and go play…you got it?. Aunt Amber is not going to hold you any more until dinner is ready.” That lasted about a minute and with one more epic melt down I’ve had it. I take him into the living room and lay him down to take his diaper entirely off and let him air out, run around naked…anything just stop crying dude. I take his diaper off and WHAT DO I SEE? A freakin pine needle is in his diaper. I immediately went into baby talk and apologized: “CHASERS, Aunt Amber is so so so sorry buddy. I am sure your tooshie did hurt with a pine needle poking it. I am so sorry I called you a faker…Aunt Amber sucks buddy. Will you ever forgive me?” He smiled…probably from the relief and went on about his way. WOW…humble pie Aunt Amber? Where else is this showing up in your life Aunt Amber? YIKES…another great life lesson from a one and a half year old. Who needs therapy?

Then later:

One more quick rant/observation. Chase is seriously like a stealth ninja. You take your eyes off of him for one freaking nanosecond and the one item in the whole room that he shouldn’t have, he has and it’s in his mouth. Aunt Amber was trying to kill some time so we spent ten minutes brushing his teeth…he loves to put his tooth brush under the water and then in his mouth and suck the water…whatever does it for you buddy. Then he wanted to wash his hands. So we did that for another five minutes. I turn around to get a towel and not more than 3 seconds (seriously) and the kids has the hand soap pump in his mouth and he pumps it. I scream and yell…CACA!!!! and he has a horrid look on his face and he sticks his tongue out and I am using my bare hand to wipe the soap out of his mouth. There’s more. No joke, 30 minutes later, he has a pump of a body lotion bottle in his mouth and as I am running towards him in slow motion yelling, NOOOOO!!!, he pumps it. Same horrid face, sticks his tongue out and Aunt Amber is once again wiping his mouth out with my bare hand. Seriously, from what I have seen this kid put in his mouth, he might shit out a Christmas ornament or sweet smelling candle…or bubbles.

Day Seven 12/9:

Brian and I use to crack up when we saw parents with their kids on a leash. You know, the monkey back-packs with the tail. On day 6 with a 1 1/2 year old, I totally get it and I would buy one…in a heartbeat. At this point I don’t care what looks ridiculous. I had to sit on Chase yesterday at the YMCA. I fully straddled him (on my knees) so he wouldn’t run away so I could zip up his coat. People walking by, Chase screaming, Bowen running down the hall like a madman, two back-packs on my back…didn’t bother me one bit. Jacket zipped up…mission accomplished. Million different ways to skin a cat peeps.

Then later (I think she lost track of her days):

Day 6. I would like everyone’s approval, but I believe I may receive a honorary mom degree after this day. Chase refused to put/keep his bib on…on Day 1..2..3…Aunt Amber would have tried for 10 minutes because the kid is seriously a train wreck when he eats…but TODAY I picked my battle and let it go. This picture represents shirt #1 out of 3 today. Then at dinner we had scrambled eggs and Chase put half of his eggs in his mouth, opens his mouth and uses his tongue to push all the eggs out of his mouth. I scoop the eggs back on to the plate and we keep going…but it gets better, actually worse. These kids eat like horses and I was STARVING and really wanted some more freakin eggs after Arleena polished off the last bit. Chase pushed his plate away and I looked at it….I looked at it hard and I made an epic decision. I wasn’t sure how many eggs left on the plate had been in his mouth, but I didn’t care. As I was cleaning up and managing the chaos, I put some Frank’s hot sauce on the eggs and avocado and ate it. All of it. I’m a bit nauseous as I write this, but I’m not hungry. Had to go to the bathroom and for those of you who have heard me speak at Healthy Edge events…me loves to celebrate poop. So I had to poop and it was definitely not a moment to slip away so I took the 1 year old with me and let him play in the bathroom as I did what I needed to do. He didn’t mind and I kind of liked the entertainment…better than reading a magazine. Go me. Had some success breaking Bowen’s pattern today, he THREW A FIT because Arleena got Cantaloupe and he got applesauce for dinner. (Backstory is that Bowen had Cantaloupe for a snack and too much Cantaloupe and he will shit up his back…and that was not going to happen…not on my watch.) So as Bowen is screaming and crying and about to absolutely lose it…I say…BOWEN WHEN YOU EAT CANTALOUPE YOU POOP UP YOUR BACK LIKE THIS and I get up from the table and make the biggest farting noise I can with my mouth and make dramatic movements with my hands like something is coming out of my butt. Everyone laughed and after doing that about 5 times, he was over it and gulped down his applesauce. Then he pinched his finger and was again SCREAMING (this kid is very dramatic) and I said, BOWEN WHAT CAN AUNT AMBER DO…Bowen: NOTHING! GET AWAY! and he SCREAMS at the top of his lungs. Aunt Amber: Bowen, can I see it? Bowen: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Aunt Amber: Bowen, can I kiss it? Bowen: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Aunt Amber with a straight face: Bowen, Can I LICK IT? Bowen: Ah, (giggle)….ah no. And that was over. And one final story of the night, Yes, I went poop again (Healthy Edgers are loving this) and this time I thought I did sneak away since Arleena was home. I was in April and Brandon’s BEAUTIFUL new bathroom and I FORGOT to lock the door. First Chase opens the door and in a very deep voice I say, “HEY, YOU GET OUT OF HERE” and he screams and shuts the door. Then Bowen, the funny man, starts in and opens the door. I say Bowen, SHUT THE DOOR AUNT AMBER IS POOPING. He laughs and thinks it’s hilarious and of course he is going to do it again. So then I pull out the big guns. Bowen opens the door and pops his head in: Aunt Amber: If you open that door on more time, I am going to make you wipe Aunt Amber’s butt like I have been wiping your butt all week. Got it? There was lots of laughter on the other side of the door but no one opened the door. Aunt Amber 1 – Kids 0.

Day Eight 12/10:

Day 7. April and Brandon are home now and I am officially off “mom” duty and back to just good ole “Aunt Amber”. Today I felt like I had come a LONG way since 7 days ago and even ventured out to the YMCA to take advantage of the 2 hour allotment at the “KID ZONE”. Why wouldn’t a mom take advantage of this everyday? An hour workout and an hour of work and back home we went. Kids went down for a nap. Chase was content in his crib, so I let him stay in there while Bowen and I played. As it neared 3:00 I went up and listened at the door and he was still just quietly talking to himself. So I let him continue to entertain himself…Bowen was digging the attention. At 3:30, the kid had been in there since 12:30 so I opened the door and he greeted me with a smile and a happy yell. I could smell the poop in the pants and lifted him out of the crib, held him for a second and then straight onto the floor for a diaper change. I saw his black pants looked like they had food smeared down the front of them. I touched it and it seemed dry and then of course I smelled it… My worse nightmare, it was poop. I yelled, “It’s POOP! Oh my sweet Lord in heaven, where else is it? Let me see your hands!” He opened his hands and to my horror…poop. The kid didn’t pee on his bed, but he did reach his hands down his pants and…the rest is history. I didn’t know where to start. I grabbed a wipe and started wiping his hands…then I remembered I had put him up against me when I lifted him out of bed…I gagged. I had JUST showered during nap time…NOOOO! I changed his diaper, stripped him down and put him in the bath. This was pretty much how my experience as mom ended. Just when I was getting all melancholy and sentimental about our time being over…BAAAM! The kid shits his pants and plays in it. I’m out. I have to say that this experience has built so much appreciation and empathy for EVERY PARENT out there, ESPECIALLY those that are doing it alone. Here are just some random take aways that I haven’t vented yet:
1) I always wondered why April was always so behind on laundry…now I get it. It isn’t that DOING the laundry is hard, it’s the actual folding and getting it into it’s proper place that’s difficult. I have 3 baskets full of folded laundry, but during my free time (naps and night) the kids are in their rooms…I get it now.
2) Washing your hands 25 times a day is BRUTAL! My hands feel like I dipped them in acid. Dry, scaly, red and they burn from all the hand washing and half drying them to go on to the next task. Ugh.
3) If I had children and my husband and I did date night, we would ALWAYS go out to eat, not because I don’t have to cook but because I can EAT AS MUCH AS I WANT and it isn’t food that has been dropped on the floor, spit out of someone’s mouth or left on their plate….can I get an AMEN?
4) Wine by the bottle is a joke. A box of wine is the only way to go.
5) Just because I didn’t have time to shave my legs doesn’t mean that goes for the armpits as well…kind of scary today when I was doing overhead presses and got a glimpse of my pits…oops.
I am sure more will come to me tomorrow…I’m having a glass of wine.

Thompson Family Photos

I feel like this is the year of pictures. The Thompson family has been discussing getting the entire family together for photos for years and this year, with one quarter of the group packing up and heading to Arizona for sun and opportunity, we finally made it become a reality. Danie (adult, short brown hair) arranged everything and we made our way to Terry’s, aka Papa’s favorite stomping ground, Discovery Park in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood. I couldn’t be more excited about how they turned out and I’m so excited to hang them in our home.

Whole Family

Grandkids

All the kids

Sophia

Chad's Fam

Piper and Dad

Piper and Mom

Brian and Lacie

Brian and Lacie

Brian's Fam

Merry go-'round

Frederick

Girl Cousins

Piper

Ellie

Running Wild

Piper standing

Piggy Back

Jack

Sophia & Taylor

Ellie

Taylor

Whole Family

Traveling sans Bebe

Brian and I are currently somewhere over Illinois, coming back on our last leg from our trip to Italy…sans Ellie! It was a thoroughly brave adventure for us. In theory when planning the trip we knew it was a healthy thing to do, both for Ellie and us. As the trip date arrived though, we started to get really sad at the prospect of being so far away from her for so long.

The things that made the trip a little easier are two-fold:
1. Tutu and Grandy stayed at our house the whole time and played with her non-stop. She had such a great time and was so happy. We actually wondered a bit if she even noticed we were gone!
2. FaceTime! Brian had his phone on, but turned data off and when we got wifi we were able to FaceTime my mom and talk to them and Ellie for a bit. It was so awesome to see her and hear her say non-stop “mommy” and “daddy.” It made us miss her even more, but I think it made her feel good to connect with us and know we we’re just somewhere else.

Before the trip for a couple of weeks I was talking to Ellie about what a vacation is and that mommy and daddy were going to go on a vacation and she was going to hang out with Tutu and Grandy while we were gone. I know communication is not 100% confirmed at this point in her life, but I truly think it helped quite a bit.

We’ll see how she feels when we get back and that will be the real measure of success. Last time when we went away for three days she seemed a little upset when we got back. Hopefully this time she’s not too mad at us.

Likely needless to say, our adult vacation in Italy was truly wonderful and relaxing. We didn’t plan anything out really, just kind of played it by ear. We spent the bulk of our time in Cortona, a small town in Tuscany, just outside of Perugia. It was a beautiful town with quite a few restaurants and shops. We did a fair amount of walking/hiking up the hills, which felt really good. It also felt a little breath-taking (literally), which made sense when I read my What To Expect update; it was all about how baby is squishing my lungs now and I’m likely to experience a shortness of breath. Si, de accordo.

I haven’t been around that much cigarette smoke since frequenting Belltown Billiards when I was 22. I haven’t eaten that much gelato since we were in Italy last time and I haven’t had that much tomatoes, mozzarella and pasta in a long time either! Honestly though, out of the whole trip, the most regrettable meals were definitely the ones we had on the airplane ride back! I look forward to getting home and focusing back on fruits and veggies for the rest of the pregnancy.

Here’s a pick of #2 at 30 weeks with the beautiful Cortona valley in the background:

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Advice

I recently had a friend break the news that she is preggers! It’s always so exciting to see other people go through this for the first time. I remember the excitement and the nerves, the elation and the shock. When said friend told us she was pregnant, Brian proceeded to have several crowns with her husband, tell the couple that everyone is going to give them advice, and subsequently give them tons of advice.

The experience got me to thinking: I should write a blog post on my advice to new moms. Now that I’ve had a few friends go through being pregnant and having a baby, I have a few opinions of my own and it’d be great to have a place I could send them to as a resource instead of spilling 10 million recommendations onto them in one sitting, a la BT after several crowns…love you babe:)

I preface this advice with this: We decided to have a very unpopular birth plan and I completely understand it is not right for everyone or even most people, so my advice is not that everyone should do it the way we did.

      1. Knowledge is power, but you can’t take everything literally and you have to incorporate your intuition: I’ve heard of people reading millions of books (a few of which I’ll recommend below), and then raise their children according to exactly what the books say. Please do consume information, but please don’t hold yourself to a standard of doing something exactly as a book says all the time – it’s exhausting.
      2. When you first get pregnant (or beforehand if you’re the planning type), please get on a fabulous pre-natal vitamin. It needs to have 1000mg of folic acid and that’s hard to find in over the counter versions. This is vital for baby’s brain development.
      3. Try as hard as you can while you’re pregnant with your first to relax, take it all in, eat healthy food and stay active. It will not be as easy to do this the second time around, so savor it.
      4. Watch the documentary “The Business of Being Born“. I never thought I’d admire Ricki Lake so much – did I just say that out loud?
      5. If you have access to a HypnoBirthing class in your area, take it. This class was the best money we ever spent, I swear on it. We learned why hospitals operate the way they do and how to work with them and communicate effectively to accomplish your desired birth. HypnoBirthing taught Brian how to be the most amazing birthing partner and taught me what to expect during labor and delivery and how focus my mind and energy on productively working through the beautiful experience. I really can’t rave enough about it. Here’s the place to go in the greater Seattle area: http://www.seattlehypnobirthing.com
      6. Buy yourself this pillow for sleeping: Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow
      7. Register for Amazon Mom: it is so convenient, especially when your baby is just born and you don’t want to leave the house.
      8. You must register for or buy this product. It’s my Go-To gift for new parents and it comes in SO handy every single day! Leachco Podster Sling-Style Infant Seat Lounger, Sage Pin Dot
      9. Acupuncture and Massage: Honestly, if you can treat yourself to these things, please do…and don’t take it for granted. Again, savor every second. A month before I had Ellie I had insane heartburn. I went to acupuncture and had three pins put in my right ear and then a tiny gold ball was stuck to my ear. I don’t know why, but I didn’t have a lick of heartburn for the rest of my pregnancy.
      10. Books to Read:
        1. Sleep Training – this one is short, sweet, relatively easy to follow and doesn’t involve crying it out: The Baby Sleep Solution: A Proven Program to Teach Your Baby to Sleep Twelve Hours aNight
        2. Vaccines – obviously a big topic as of late. Especially if you have a tinge of nerd in you, this book will be very stimulating: The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child (Sears Parenting Library)
        3. How to Raise Baby – this is our favorite because at the end of the day, what matters most is that your baby is happy, smart and moral: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five
      11. Things to NOT do:
        1. Watch a bunch of movies with crazy screaming women in labor – I strongly believe what you fill your mind with affects you in real life. That is simply not how it really is.
        2. Listen to terrible birthing stories from everyone you know. Find people who had amazing experiences and find out what they did and why they loved it. Fill your mind with good and good will come. It’s just like visualization for an athlete.
        3. Get anxious as you approach your due date. Just relax, baby will come soon and then time will fly by like it never has before.
        4. Spend a shit-ton of money on things that don’t matter. I can’t say I always obey this rule, but I think I do pretty well. It’s the 80/20 rule, right? Twenty percent of the time I might invest a little more than the best “value” option, but most of the time I try to be realistic. Honestly, I can’t understand why anyone needs a $1000 stroller – really people?!?!? I think the BOB is just great myself.

At the end of the day, once your baby is born, it’s important to pick a few things that are the most important to you and try to do them as best you can. I recommend staying away from perfecting everything. Don’t tell your kid not to do every little fun, dirty, crazy thing they try because we all have to learn from experience. Additionally if you tell them not to do everything it seems like that ultimately causes them to do everything. Life is all about balance. Have fun and don’t take yourself too seriously – that was difficult for me in the beginning. After all, what could be more serious than shaping and forming a human being? Ironically, us being happy and healthy as individuals, parents and partners is just as important to shaping and forming a human being as all the other stuff, so prioritize that as much as possible. Have fun on the ride – it definitely is fun, exhilarating, emotional, and scary – and we wouldn’t change it for the world!

Life

My wonderful, amazing friend Molly gave me a little care package just because and it included a fantastic book, which I’m almost done with called “Carry On, Warrior.” I’m not one to read a lot (sadly), but when I pick up a captivating book, I seem to dive in and go nuts about it. I saved this book for my flight from Seattle to Miami and I could not put it down. As soon as I got to Miami I ordered several copies for some of my girlfriends I thought would enjoy it as much as I do. My friends asked me “what’s it about?” I tried to come up with several themes of the book, which was easy because there are many, but at the end of the day – it’s about life. And truth.

The book made me cry during much of my flight, which I’m sure caused those around me to think I was slightly crazy, but I just didn’t care. There are so many memorable parts of the book. The part where she writes her son a letter in case he’s gay is absolutely fantastic. I also just read about her AIDS bike ride, which was hilarious and inspiring. There’s a section where she writes about her love for her husband, which just absolutely brings me to tears because of course it makes me think of Brian and his love and devotion to us, which is unwaivering.

The best thing about the book is that is goes from those serious and sappy topics to things like this about parenting:

“I think parenting young children (and old ones too, I’ve heard) is a little like climbing Mount Everest. Brave, adventurous souls try it because they’ve heard there’s magic in the climb. They try because they believe that finishing, or even attempting to climb, is an impressive accomplishment. They try because during the climb, if they pause and allow themselves to lift their eyes and minds from the drudgery, the views are breathtaking. They try because even though it hurts and it’s hard, there are moments that make it worth the hard. These moments are so intense and unique that many people who reach the top start planning, almost immediately, to climb again. Even though any climber will tell you that most of the climb is treacherous, exhausting, killer. That they cried most of the way up.

And so I think that if there were people stationed, say, every thirty feet along Mount Everest yelling to the climbers, ‘ARE YOU ENJOYING YOURSELF!? IF NOT, YOU SHOULD BE! ONE DAY YOU’LL BE SORRY YOU DIDN’T! TRUST US! IT’LL BE OVER TOO SOON! CARPE DIEM!’ those well meaning, nostalgic cheerleaders might be physically thrown from the mountain.

Now I’m not suggesting that the sweet old ladies who tell me to ENJOY MYSELF be thrown from a mountain. They are wonderful ladies, clearly. But last week, a woman approached me  in the Target line and said the following: ‘Sugar, I hope you are enjoying this. I loved every single second of parenting my two girls. Every single moment. These days go by fast.’ At that particular point in time, Amma was wearing a bra she had swiped from the cart and sucking a lollipop she undoubtedly found on the ground. She also had shoplifted clip-on neon feathers stuck in her hair. She looked exactly like a contestant from Toddlers and Tiaras. A losing contestant. I couldn’t find Chase anywhere, and Tish was sucking the pen on the credit card machine WHILE the woman in from of me was trying to use it. And so I just looked at the woman, smiled, and said, ‘Thank you. Yes, Me Too. I am enjoying every single moment. Especially this one. Yes. Thank you.’

Craig is a software salesman. It’s a hard job in this economy. He comes home each day and talks a little bit about how hard it is. But I don’t ever feel the need to suggest he’s not doing it right, or that he’s negative for noticing how hard it is, or that maybe he shouldn’t even consider taking on any more responsibility. And I doubt his colleagues come by his office to make sure he’s ENJOYING HIMSELF. I’m pretty sure his boss doesn’t peek in his office and say: ‘This career stuff, it goes by so fast. ARE YOU ENJOYING EVERY MOMENT IN THERE CRAIG???? THE FISCAL YEAR FLIES BY!! CARPE DIEM, CRAIG!’

My point is this: I used to worry that not only was I failing to do a good enough job at parenting, but that I wasn’t enjoying it enough. Double failure. I felt guilty because I wasn’t in parental ecstasy every hour of every day and I wasn’t MAKING THE MOST OF EVERY MOMENT like the mamas in the parenting magazines seemed to be doing. I felt guilty because honestly, I was tired and cranky and ready for the day to be over quite often. And because I knew that one day, I’d wake up and the kids would be gone, and I’d be the old lady in the grocery store with my hand over my heart. Would I be able to say I enjoyed every moment? No.

But the fact remains that I will be that nostalgic lady. I just hope to be one with a clear memory. And here’s what I hope to say to the younger mama gritting her teeth in line:

‘It’s helluva hard, isn’t it? You’re a good mom, I can tell. And I like your kids, especially that one peeing in the corner. She’s my favorite. Carry on, warrior. Six hours ’til bedtime.'”

Absolutely hilarious. And so relatable.

To read more, find the book here: Carry On, Warrior and her blog here.

Happiness

Happiness is one of the things parents strive to encourage in their children. Some people are born very happy and some people who aren’t want to do things to make themselves happier. After all, what are we here for if nothing other than to be happy and love life? Happiness is likely one of the most philosophized and studied human traits. It is something that can’t be forced, but what if you knew there were specific things happy people did? Would you do them too? Perhaps doing so would make you happier. My Mom always told me if I’m ever feeling sad to smile. Smiling releases chemicals in our bodies that actually make us happy, so even though we might not feel like smiling, if we force it doing so will actually result in cheering us up.

Last week I got an article from Nita Talwar at Peak Experience Parenting that provides a list of 22 other things happy people do. It’s fun to look through the list and see what things you naturally do and what things you don’t. Perhaps by trying some of the things you don’t do, you will become happier.

Here is the article: http://www.peakexperienceparenting.com/22-things-happy-people-do-differently/

Personally, I felt a lot of reassurance reading the article, but there are definitely things I’d like to do more of to encourage happiness (and well-being). For example, I’d like to meditate and exercise more. Brian is very good at living minimally and I’m not too bad, but I would like to cleanse some of the “things” I keep around that I don’t really need. I also think I need to work on my listening skills, so that will be a focus moving forward.

I hope this article is helpful to you and your family as it has been for ours.